Yesterday, on September 29th of 2012, Jenny and I ran the Leona Valley Trail Races half marathon event that takes place in Lake Hughes within the Antelope Valley. While this is was my second half marathon event, it was my first trail half marathon. A very different run compared to running the San Francisco second half course which was relatively flat and downhill.
This course was all up hill, then downhill, and when you reach the half way point, you simply turn around and go back the way you came. Going back up hill and then finishing on the downhill. The elevation gain was over 1,200 feet, with this course your ascending and descending that elevation twice. This makes for a much more challenging course to complete, really testing your endurance, strength and stamina.
The first three miles of climbing up were on a fire road before transitioning onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for the other three and half miles of the course to reach the half way point. The PCT segment of the course was all single track trail taking you from the top of the mountain zigzagging and winding down to the bottom turn around point and aid station.
They had great aid stations loaded with fresh fruit, nuts, sandwiches, snacks, gel packs, and drinks to refuel the runners.
I started off fairly strong on the course, slowly running most of the climb up, then I really hit my stride once on the PCT segment of the course which was pretty much a steady downhill grade. By the time I reached the bottom aid station, I was feeling really good and strong, I chugged down a few cups of Gatorade and handfuls of strawberries before heading back up the trail.
While I felt strong and good at the turn around point, by the time I climbed back up to the top I was completely wiped out. Hitting the second 1,200 foot climb was much more challenging than I had expected. I had to sit down for a few minutes to rest my legs and get my heart rate down to 130 bpm before continuing on the last stretch to the finish line.
Even after resting I could not keep myself going at a consistent running pace, I ended up walking and running the last few miles, my body was definitely feeling it. Still I pushed on and made it past the finish line at 3:01. Completely exhausted I sat down, then laid down to recover for about 20 minutes. Jenny crossed the finish line around 3:24, she too had been challenged by this course, but we did accomplish it and it feels great!
Overall it was a great experience and I will likely do it again. I find running trails is really fun and relaxing, while challenging you to push your body further. Not to say that road marathons aren’t fun, they are, just different. I enjoy the trails more. We had fun at this event, meeting lots of our running friends at the start, throughout and after the race.
The Leona Valley Trail Races is a well organized event. The aid stations were loaded with refreshments to refuel the runners, and then after the race they provided a full lunch for us. They even had a veggie burgers for those of us who are vegetarian. It was great to hang out and relax with friends after the race while letting our bodies recover before heading home.
- Leona Valley Trail Races
- Pacific Crest Trail on Wikipedia
- My Leona Valley Trail Race photos on Flickr
- Leona Valley Trail Race photos by Yuthana K. on Shutterfly
Have you run the Leona Valley Trail Races? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and thanks for reading.