Most people stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve to ring in the new year. Apparently we’re not most people because David and I stayed up to register for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 miler, registration opening at the stroke of midnight and sure to sell out by daybreak. Word is it was sold out in just a few hours, so our efforts were sound. This was to be our first 50 miler so we didn’t want to mess around.
TRT 50 is a beautiful course, on and near the Tahoe Rim Trail on the NE side of Lake Tahoe. Top to bottom, it is incredibly well put together. For me, it was a fantastic choice for a first 50 miler.
Unlike most races I’ve run, I didn’t get to preview the course beforehand. In fact, I had never even been to Lake Tahoe before. Normally, I would have considered this a disadvantage, but I think on this day it served me well. It was a very hot day, up to 95 degrees, so keeping mental focus and staying away from negative thoughts was critical. Not being able to anticipate what was coming ahead, other than a general sense of “the next part is up, followed by some down”, kept me on point with a zen-like flow to my day. I had studied the map and elevation profile and listened to verbal walk-throughs, but otherwise the actual course only revealed itself to me as I went. As a result, the day just seemed to fly right by. Looking back, I have no idea what I actually thought about all day long, I just know that I was fully present, enjoying the beautiful, doesn’t-happen-every-day state of flow.
My plan for the day was simple. Chunk it down, keep it easy until after the climb at miles 30-32ish, and then go for it with whatever I have. David and I also agreed to try and run together all day, but that we would also be ok with separating at any point. We ran together through about mile 18-19ish and then I just never saw him again until his incredible finish. Please read his blog to fully appreciate the day he had. He is my hero all over again!
After we separated, I ran from aid station to aid station, taking time to cool off with icy sponge baths and fill my sports bra with cups of ice. A fabulous volunteer at the Diamond Peak aid station taught me that trick and now I am forever grateful! I sounded like a human ice chest running through the woods the rest of the day, kachunk kachunk kachunking along, but I was so much cooler and comfortable. I also used my Ice Cold Towel, wearing it like a little magic super hero cape. Surely I looked and sounded silly, but I really don’t care because I was running well and passing others that were melting in the heat. I also have a new best friend in the volunteer at Diamond Peak that was hosing everyone off. PERFECT! My legs felt fantastic all the way to the end, giving me a finishing time of 11:18:32, earning me 9th female and 29th overall.
After a shower and a pathetic attempt at eating a burrito, I sat in the bleachers to wait for David. Nobody knew if/where he was on the course, so all I could do was sit and wait. In the meantime, I met some fantastic people and cheered in other runners. Incredibly, he finished nearly two hours after me, with a very respectable time of 13:06:43, especially considering the adversity he faced. Seeing him finish was the highlight of my entire day.
After some food, showers, and fitful sleep, we went back the next morning to watch our coach, Ian Torrence, finish the 100-miler. The drop out rate for his race was nearly 50% so to finish at all is worth a standing ovation. We learned a lot by running with the 100-milers and watching the day unfold for friends. Read his race report here.
That evening, 7 of us gathered for dinner. It was remarkable to sit and reflect on the wildly different days we each had, yet know that we were all on the same course on the same hot day. We had everything from my zen-flow day to lightning fast running, quad cramps and a drop at mile 80, bee stings, crashes with mountain bikers resulting in broken bones (the biker, not the runner), bee stings and epi pens, police and EMS, dry heaves, fantastic pacers, naps in sleeping bags, purple superhero capes, and a collective 80% finish rate. It really illustrates that so many other variables come into play and you can never plan for everything. Above all, this sport is incredibly humbling and just begs you to come back for more.
GIGANTIC thank yous go to: David for always being supportive and running with me, Ian Torrence for coaching us, Melanie Haskell for helping with the family, Dr. Jason Steinle and Health and Harmony Chiropractic, Jessica Wilson and Cindy Stone of Evergreen Center for Therapeutic Massage, TRT for the incredible event, and all our friends for the constant support.
Next up, David and I will run the Gore-Tex Trans-Alpine Run – 8 days through the Alps, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. Stay tuned for the adventure!