Monday, September 28, 2009

2009 Lake Tahoe Marathon

Late September - time for the Tahoe Marathon. My training seems to hit a yearly slump just before this race, so I didn't feel completely prepared for it, but I dragged myself up there anyway. There was no race day packet pickup, so I had to drive the three+ hour round trip on Saturday, then leave home at 5 AM on Sunday to make the 6:30 shuttle from South Lake. Little tired at the start, but the energy of the crowd soon perked me up, as did seeing Gretchen and Peter at the start. Gretchen said she was running this as road conditioning for an upcoming ultra, the Helen Klein (which I can never remember the name of.) Peter's bid for his 4th straight Super Triple was snuffed by a permit snafu, so he was just going to enjoy the regular marathon as part of the Triple.

(photo courtesy of Peter Lubbers)

Here's a shot of the lineup behind me at the start:

First few miles are pretty flat and simple, and I was trying to keep my pace in the 8:30-8:40 range:

As hard as I tried, though, my overall pace slipped down to about 8:20-8:25. Kept an eye on the Garmin; it was usually less blurry than this:

Came on to our first lake views:

And heading into the middle miles,the sun started hitting pretty hard:

My plan for the "Hill From Hell" was to slow down, run as long as I could, then take 20-breath walk breaks. Worked pretty well - watched my pace slip back to 8:45 or so as I ticked off the elevation with the help of the signposts:

Swept around Emerald Bay, used the same tactic on the second big hill (pace up to 8:55,) then ran the downhill super-scenic section:

This last section has been my downfall every year - the two big hills take it out of me so much that I have to walk a little in the last 5 flat miles. Disappointing - had I run it in, I'm sure I could have had a PR. But I did enjoy the themed aid stations - here is the "North Pole," complete with Christmas tree:

And "Hogwarts," crewed by witches and wizards:

I was hoping to get a better picture up the finish chute, but here's the final few feet:

Here's the graph of my elevation and pace - all the pace spikes in the last flat part are where I lost my PR. I did finish under 4:00, though, at 3:56 and a second or two. Pretty happy with that despite the pain.

Caught a wave from Gretchen coming into the finish - the women's winner! Amazing. Chatted for a bit with Peter, then moseyed my way back to the shuttle buses and napped on my way back to the casino and my car. Stuck in a traffic jam (motorcycle accident) for about 40 minutes on my way home, too - lot of time in the car.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Five Miler

This morning I did a virtual race - Runninglaur's Fall Five Miler, in honor of the first day of fall. It was a gym/treadmill morning for me, so I figured I'd do my interval workout, and end up right around five miles. As it turned out, my body wasn't up for intervals this morning, so I just ran it out to five miles and called it good. near the end, I tried to match my pace so that it would come out to 45:00 exactly, but didn't quite do it. Ended up at 44:36. Kinda tired and didn't feel like being on the treadmill...

Looking forward to Runninglaur's silly MS Paint awards...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reno Gazette Journal Jog

The Journal Jog is one of those local races that you just kinda have to do. I'm always amazed at the amount of people (and pretty fast people) that show up - It never seems like Reno has a very big running community until they ALL come together at one race. 12-1300 of them, in fact.

There's been a little confusion in the past few years with this race - it used to be a 5 miler, then last year the course changed a little and it became an 8K. A new set of organizers did a good job this year (Castle Rock Multisports, the same people who do the Rock 'n' River runs in the spring) but they were overwhelmed by late packet pickups and had to start the race half an hour late. That meant standing around in the crowd, sun and heat and starting to feel dehydrated - not the best way to begin.

I just ran my race, tried not to push too hard or go too easy. First mile was about 7:00, but then I dropped back into the 7:20s. Had a pretty down moment in the middle of mile 4 when I had to talk myself out of walking, but then turned a corner and the finish was a couple blocks away. So I put my head down and powered in.

Looking back at my times for the last three years, I've improved steadily. Two years ago, on the 5 mile course, I ran 44:14 for 467th place (although I think I was running with a friend that day.) Last year the new 8K course took me 38:05, for 232nd place. This year I got down to 35:39, for 101st overall, 9th AG (male 35-39.)

So, a fun race. Wish I could have had some of Team Library Dork there to represent, but it was a Saturday, and they were all working...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lake of the Sky trail marathon

Wow, a race report, out of nowhere! You'd think I'd forgotten about this blog or something...

No, I just haven't had much to report. Vacation, injury, and lack of motivation contributed to me not running all that much (or blogging about it) for the last month. But I feel like I'm back now - the Lake Tahoe Marathon is in two weeks, and I've got a couple of ideas for after that...

So, in preparation for the Lake Tahoe Marathon, I thought I should refamiliarize myself with the course - at least the last miles, with the big hill and long flat to the finish. My plan had been to run the last 15 miles of it last weekend, the last 20 or so this weekend, and have the muscle memory ready for race day. I ran from Meeks Bay to Camp Richardson last Saturday, and thought that a longer run on the course this weekend would do me right.

Problem was, my ride fell through this weekend. I explored my options, which were primarily asking a friend if she wanted to run it with me, but Gretchen was doing another race at Tahoe on Saturday - the Lake of the Sky Trail Run. It's a 50K (which was more like 55 this year) with a marathon distance option, almost all on the Tahoe Rim Trail between Tahoe City and Brockway Summit. I hadn't been on that section since 2007, and was intrigued. Kinda questioned the wisdom of training for a road marathon by doing a trail marathon, but I found myself up there Saturday morning, ready to go.

Found the start just fine, said a quick hello to Gretchen and was nicely surprised to see Peter, who had also opted for the marathon distance. Got all lined up and had a briefing:

I held back at the start so I wouldn't want to push too hard on the uphills, which I knew were a major part of the first 5 miles or so. It was really nice running with a pack that was going slightly slower than my comfort pace - even though I'm not a big talker, I love the feel of running with a bunch of people like that. Here's about as spread out as it got:

This section of the Rim Trail isn't well known for its views, but there are some of the lake:

After a bunch of climbing, there were a few sections where it mellowed out. Here's another racer ahead of me on a flattish section:

There was a cool mountain biker girl that was playing leapfrog with me for awhile - here she is about to pass (note the over-the shoulder camera shadow in the foreground):

And a few more trail/Tahoe pics...

I kept watching for the lead marathoners to start coming back towards me, but it wasn't until 11.5 miles that the first one did - and he was flying! (I had forgotten that there was a marathon relay division - this guy was fresh.) A couple more passed, and then I saw Peter on his way back, smiling as always, on his way to eventually winning the marathon race.

Not too much farther was the turnaround for the marathon distance at Watson Lake. After this, it got a lot lonelier on the course - I think the majority of the field was there for the 50K.

I didn't take many pictures on the way back - mostly concentrating on survival. I ground out the couple of uphills, and did what I could on the flats and downhills, but was losing it pretty quick, and almost bonking. The last 4 downhill miles, I must have stubbed my toes 10 times - I only put a hand down to catch myself once, but it took its toll. One time I banged my right foot hard enough that I had to limp for a good 3 or 4 minutes - going to lose a toenail or two over that one, I think. Made it hard to concentrate on scenery like this:

After some walking and trying to keep my head in a good place, I found I could see the buildings of Tahoe City, and ran the rest of the trail and the two tenths of a mile to the finish - where Peter told me I had finished third. !? I had still forgotten about the relay runners, I thought I was tenth or so. Nice surprise.

All in all, I'm glad I decided to run this race instead of on the road at the south end of the lake. I didn't get the on-course experience, but I certainly upped my endurance quotient. The bad headspace I was getting into near the end of this run was very similar to the end of the Tahoe marathon for me last year, and I hope this has gotten it out of my system.

Despite not feeling strong through this run, I thought it was a great race - awesome course, well marked, and great people. It could use a few more entrants (it's a benefit for the Tahoe Rim Trail Ass'n.) I only wish I'd registered early enough to get a t-shirt.