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.