Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tahoe Rim Endurance Run 100-Part 2. The last 50 miles

Halfway to Hobart- Miles 50-56

I took nearly a 20 minute break to take care of business, change my socks and eat some food so when I started to head back out my legs had stiffened up quite a bit. I was not happy to see that the skin on my left forefoot had peeled off, probably from some damage at the Boogie 50 miler last month. I could only hope that the tender new skin would hold up for the next 50 miles. I was looking at a cold night ahead with the forecast for the low to mid 30's so I put on a short sleeve shirt over my long sleeve to give me some extra protection. I had my vest stashed at Tunnel Creek but thought I could get there before it got too cold. The sun was setting as I began my journey into the evening and I began walking to get the legs to loosen up and then started running toward the Marlette Lake trailhead for the second time.

I was warming quickly once I began running so I took the extra shirt off and tucked it in my waistband. It didn't take long for it become dark enough for my light so I settled in for a long lonely night on the trail. The only sounds were my own breathing, the wind in the trees and occasionally the sound of rushing water in the small trail side creeks. Life was good. Just ahead on the trail I caught a deer in my flashlight beam and after standing his ground for a moment he moved off the trail.

The long climb passed without further interruption and soon enough I was dropping back down to Marlette Lake. I was surprised to see someone in a pickup truck that worked for what I think is a small fish hatchery on the banks of the lake, the only person I had seen since leaving Spooner Lake. From there the time passed quickly as I resumed climbing and soon I was back into Hobart. It was cold and windy again up here at 8,000 ft so I went inside their tent to warm up for a few minutes and get some chicken broth.

Hobart to Tunnel Creek- Miles 56-61

The extra shirt went on and I headed back out into the cold wind to continue the climb up Marlette Peak. I was shivering in the strong wind as I reached the top and was looking forward to getting back into the trees, but the view of the moon over Lake Tahoe was incredible. I was not looking forward to getting back into the snow and trying to navigate in the dark. The next few miles would be very tricky and I found myself losing the trail several times but I was very cautious to not wonder far and each time I was able to find my way back on track. I was very happy to find that some volunteers had cut some steps into the biggest snow drift that I'd had to butt slide down earlier.

It helped that another runner was around and we helped each other to find trail markers through this section. My little light was malfunctioning and he was kind enough to loan me one until I could get to Tunnel Creek where I had my main light in my drop bag. He and I would leapfrog for the next 10 miles or so. Once we cleared the snow and started the descent I was moving faster on the downhill and moved on ahead. Once I reached the aid station I picked up my main light and handed his back to him as he came in just as I was about to leave. I decided not to get my vest just yet because I expected it to be warmer and less windy back down in the Red house Loop.

Tunnel Creek to Tunnel Creek - Miles 61-67

Running down the steep quad buster was really not fun this time around. My quads were already so sore, the first time I think I've felt like I had DOMS in the middle of a race. This forced me to be much slower than I wanted to be because other than the painful legs I was still feeling pretty good overall. When I reached the first water crossing I was beginning to wish I had put on the vest after all. It was cold down here and there were some windy sections and the freezing cold water made it worse. Unlike during the day, the cold water made my feet numb and hurt like soaking in an ice bucket chilling me to my core. Fortunately I warmed up again once I got moving again.

I had to smile as I came back in sight of the Red House aid station. They had a generator going and had strung Christmas lights in a tree and several other decorations. They had also placed some Halloween decorations around to cheer up the runners. All but one of the volunteers were asleep so I quietly took what I needed and headed back out into the darkness.

I hadn't gone far when suddenly without warning I had a big blister form on my left big toe. The pain was intense and I couldn't believe this had happened to me. I rarely get those type of blisters and I really didn't want to deal with this kind of pain for another 35 miles. I was going to have to have it tended to and I hated to have to waste anytime. I hobbled along and amazingly the pain quickly subsided and I was able to return to my normal stride after just 10 minutes or so of intense burning pain.

I reached the steep climb back out of the loop and my flashlight friend caught back up to me so we climbed up together. I had to weigh in again at Tunnel Creek and I was back to my pre-race weight again which impressed the doctor. I grabbed my vest out of the drop bag and took off without bothering with the blister since it was now just a dull aggravation.

Tunnel Creek to Bull Wheel- Miles 67-70

With the Red House loop behind me now I was looking forward to the next 10 miles. I would be alone for almost of of this time and was enjoying being alone with my thoughts on this cold , dark evening. A recurring topic of my thoughts were that Karla was able to safely finish her 50k and hoping that Jenn was somewhere not too far behind me on her way to a buckle finish.

The trail climbed again for nearly all the 3 miles to the Bull Wheel and was almost all above 8,000ft. The wind was very strong and it was very cold but I was loving it. As long as I was moving everything was fine. As the trail crossed over to the East facing side of the ridge line I could see the lights of Carson City to the Southeast and way off to the Northeast Reno was glittering, both cities about 3,000ft below me.

This section seemed to pass quickly and after another trip through the boulder garden I was back onto the Bull Wheel. The wind was really howling over the ridge here and all the volunteers were sleeping in their tents now at about 4:30 am. I quickly refilled my bottle and moved on to get out of the cold wind.

Bull Wheel to Diamond Peak Lodge- Miles 70-80

I enjoy running in the night and the full moon was spectacular but by now I was ready to have some natural light to run by. The next several miles were mostly a steady climb to the 2nd highest point on the course around 8,800 ft so progress was slow. The good thing was that I was still feeling very good overall. After a few miles I began catching up to and passing a few people, Dawn was just beginning to break when a woman ahead shouted back and asked if we had seen any markers. She was concerned that she had missed the sharp left turn to head down the mountain. I remembered the turn was very well marked and had a big sign and I knew I hadn't missed it so I kept moving confidently ahead while she continued running back down the trail. Soon enough a man ahead said he spotted a marker and within another 1/4 mile I came upon the turn.

It had now become light enough to turn off my flashlight and I was eager to begin running this sweet section of trail again. Despite having a good energy level for running, my quads hurt so bad with every step that I had to take many more walk breaks than I would have liked to give them some relief. Once again the early morning views of the lake down below were spectacular. The moon was still above the lake and the sun behind me was just casting a golden haze onto the distant snow covered peaks on the California side.

I was getting hungry and I was hoping that the aid station would have some type of breakfast food as I made my way down through the parking lot and onto the deck of the Lodge. While being weighed once again and still at my pre-race weight, a volunteer ask me if I would like a pancake. Yeeeeesssss ! Oh happy happy joy joy, exactly what I wanted. I scarfed it down and begin to prepare myself for the 2nd trip up that awful ski slope.

Diamond Peak Lodge to Bull Wheel- Miles 80-82

I was really not looking forward to this climb again but I felt if I could get over it without losing too much time and using up too much energy that I would have no problem finishing under the cut-off. I began slow and steady and was surprised at how relaxed I was climbing in the early portion. As I began to climb higher I was looking back down toward the aid station and hoping so much to see Jenn come into view. I was also wondering if Jim would catch up to me again on this climb. He was doing so well the first half and I was hoping that he would continue to have a good race and claim his buckle too but as I climbed higher I never saw either of them.

Just as I began the steeper section I was surprised to see Rob Apple coming down the mountain. I thought he was in the race but he didn't start and was just out on the course. I spoke to him briefly and he was very encouraging as always and then I trudged on. For a while I actually thought I might climb faster this second time but as I neared the top it was getting to me again and my progress slowed considerably. Several people were passing me and by the time I made it to the top I was beginning to think I may be in last place.( I think I was told at one point I was 3rd from last that were still in the race)

I was so happy to finally reach the top and make the short run back down to the Bull Wheel. They were packing things up after a long cold night and morning so I thanked them and hurried on my way.

Bull Wheel to Tunnel Creek- Miles 82-85

I had recovered quickly from the climb, I was feeling great and looking forward to this nice predominantly downhill section back down to Tunnel Creek. The morning was gorgeous and warming up nicely. I felt confident now that as long as I didn't do anything stupid that I was going to finish this things in good shape. I was moving along well and passed a couple of folks that had moved by me on the ski slope and in no time I was heading back into the aid station for the 6th and final time.

Every time I had come through here I was happy and smiling, even when I had my hand bandaged and when I climbed on the scale for the last time and weighed in exactly at my pre-race weight once again the doctor just said I love you man. You are awesome. I thanked everyone one final time, emptied all the stuff from my pockets and dropped off the extra shirt and vest. Traveling light the rest of the way.

Tunnel Creek to Hobart- Miles 85-90

Heading out I had some easy running for about 1/2 miles before some steady climbing back up Marlette Peak. It was really starting to get warm now and I was very thirsty for the rest of the race in the dry high altitude. It was during this next section that I began to have some really cool hallucinations. I knew what was going on and have had the same thing before so I was just going to enjoy them. The only other 100 that I had this experience was at Massanutten and they started there at about the same time in the morning of the second day. As each one would occur I knew they weren't real. Well one of them had me fooled. I was convinced that the guy sitting in the Gator 4 wheeler was real but he too turned out to just be a debris pile.

I finally got most of the climbing behind me after being harassed by a Stellar's Jay for a couple of hundred yards and was soon back in the snow fields. I was just being careful but also noticing if I looked higher up to the ridge just how much snow there was still up there. Sure glad we didn't have to try to climb up there. Once I was out of the woods and back over the treeline I was enjoying soaking in the views once again and since I had been over all this part several times now I could really look around and figure out where I had been and where I was going over a lot of the course. I could actually see the bull wheel off in the distance now, 8 miles away by the trail.

A little dip back down into Hobart, feeling great and looking forward to just one more climb as I once again refilled and fueled quickly one more time.

Hobart to Snow Valley Peak- Miles 90-93

As I ran out of the aid station I was feeling a lot of excitement. Everything was going great, I felt as good as one expect after 90 tough miles and it was a beautiful day. It just doesn't get much better than this. Just one more long but not too steep of a climb back to the high point of the race and then I could cruise it on down to the finish.
I was careful not to poke myself climbing over the twin dead trees blocking the trail this time and continued on my way passing a few more people now. Funny but I don't think I saw a soul between Tunnel Creek and Hobart.

As I climbed back out above the treeline towards the summit I began to look back down the mountain still holding out hope that I would see Jenn come into view. I wanted her to finish almost as much as I wanted it for myself and it would have been so cool to run this last portion together but she was nowhere in sight.

Over the last snow drift and into the aid station I was now a man on a mission. I refilled quickly and was out of the aid station in less than a minute, even turning down the offer of some sorbet that they are famous for.

Snow Valley Peak to Finish- Miles 93 to 100

Alright ! No more climbing and some sweet downhill single track running down the mountain to claim my buckle. And it was looking like my finish time was going to be a lot better than I had figured 20 miles earlier as I climb the ski slope.
I began running carefully down the narrow rocky section along the side slope of the mountain when suddenly my race nearly came to an end barely half a mile from the aid station. I was having a hard time lifting my tired legs over some of the larger rocks when I felt my foot snag on a rock and I knew I was going down. Normally I know how to fall to avoid injury but as I was going down I knew I was going to land on a big rock so I tried to land on all fours. I was successful but the force of the fall caused me to slam the side of my face into the rock.

Which brings us back to the beginning of this long winded report. Fortunately what could have bee a disaster turned out to just be a deep bruise so I put my glasses back on straight and stood up slowly assessing the damage. Once I was sure everything was ok and I was steady on my feet I began moving again. I decided to walk the rest of this rocky section but as soon as the trail smoothed out I was off and running well once again. The next several miles are just some awesome trail gently moving down nearly 2,000 ft over the next 5 miles.

I was almost giddy with excitement as I tried to push the pace a bit. A guy caught up to me and was pacing off of me and we had planned to continue that way when out of no where with just over 2 miles to go I had another blister bomb go off, this time on the left forefoot. How does this happen !! No warning that a blister is coming on, just wham OUCH !!!!!!. The pain was so bad I couldn't walk normally. This was ridiculous ! I really didn't want to have to hobble the last two miles especially considering how good I was feeling.

I tried running slowly on the side of the foot for awhile and then finally the pain eased off enough that I could resume running normally if not comfortably. I came into Spooner Summit and was happy to see they had a cold water cooler there because I was really dry and hot now but there was only 1.7 miles of flat running to go. As I approached the lake I could see and hear the finish line on the opposite shore and I tried to savor the moment. Over 4 years since my last 100 mile finish. I felt that now with probably my hardest one yet, I was officially back to being Ultraman.

Half a lap around the lake and then the trail went back into the woods for a distance before once again heading to the shoreline and 100yds to go. I could see Frank taking pictures and there was the Lovely Marathon Princess cheering for me. And somewhat sadly Jenn the Beautiful Ultra Angel was waiting there for me. I would much rather have seen her come in behind me soon but it was just not to be.

I ran across the line and was greeted by some nice hugs from the ladies and a hearty handshake from Frank. I found a chair and sank down into to it wondering immediately how I was able to just run 100 miles and now I'd be lucky to walk far enough to get something to eat. The ladies took good care of me as we moved over to the medical tent. I wanted to get a clean bandage on my hand and sit in the shade for a few minutes and get my shoes off. Ahhhhh, it just doesn't get any better than this !

Here is a link to the photos I took along the way

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tahoe Rim Endurance Run 100-Part 1. The first 50 miles

I was stunned, down on all fours and afraid I was going to lose consciousness so I didn't move. Did I know who I was? Where I was? What I was doing? Yes to all three. There was no blood, teeth seemed to be ok and I could move my jaw and the cheekbone was still intact. I adjusted my glasses and slowly stood up and begin walking. My head was clearing quickly now so I resumed running down the mountain. I had friends and a buckle waiting for me just 6.5 miles away and time was wasting.

Excitement was in the air at Spooner Lake State Park as we stood in the darkness awaiting the start of an adventure of nearly a day and a half of running up and over the trails of the Sierra Nevada on the Eastern side of the Tahoe Basin. Jenn,The Ultra Angel and I were lined up together along with our friend Jim Plant, trying to stay warm. At 43F it was a lot cooler than we have been used to in NC so far this summer but it was a refreshing and welcome change.

Start to Hobart AS. 6miles

We began promptly at 5am and headed out into the darkness with about 111 others. The first mile was on a dirt road, mostly flat but we began very slowly and soon enough we were among the last few on the course. That was of no concern because I knew if I finished at least half of them would end up behind me or out of the race. A lot can happen in 100 miles.

After about a mile we entered the Marlette Lake trail as it became light enough to see where we were going. The next several miles were quite enjoyable as we warmed up to the task ahead. We had began at about 7,000 ft of elevation and would climbing steadily for the next several miles. This section was through a heavily forested area with an occasional meadow to cross and snow melt streams beside us. The trail climbed very gradually with lots of switchbacks and was runnable for most of the climb but we still choose to do a lot of walking. The three of us were just about alone already with just a few others in sight.

After about 3.5 miles we were at 8,200 ft and began a decent down to Marlette Lake, about 300 ft below. It was as beautiful sight as I had imagined and we all stopped to take photos before turning onto another dirt road and the final climb up to Hobart. It was very runnable to begin with but then became steeper and as we moved above 8,000 ft again all three of us could feel the strain of climbing in the rare air. I had not really notice it so much until now but for the rest of the day going uphill above 8,000 was very noticeably more difficult.

Although we had been taking it easy I felt we were moving along at a decent pace but there was no aid station in sight and we were getting much to close to the cut-off already. I began to pick up the pace and quickly put some distance on my friends. Jenn is usually a very strong climber and as I looked back and saw her falling behind I was worried that she wasn't keeping up with me. I knew it had to be the altitude. I hadn't planned on trying to stay together the whole race but had really been hoping to share as much of it as possible with her but I had to let her go and hope she could possibly catch up later. I finally reached the aid station just 5 minutes ahead of the cut-off, quickly refilled my bottle, grabbed some snacks and began the climb out.

Hobart to Tunnel Creek. Miles 6-11

Just beyond the aid station the trail crossed the first snow drift on the side of the mountain. I looked back and Jim was a minute behind me and Jenn was just leaving the aid station. I crossed the snow carefully and began the climb up Marlette Peak. I was really looking forward to the view from up there of the two lakes but a cloud was moving over us and as I rounded the turn I was disappointed that all I could see was fog. The wind was howling from the west and it was very chilly as we crossed the meadow.

The next several miles would be some of the most difficult terrain with numerous snow crossings over the next several miles. Some were just a few steps and over but a few went on for hundreds of yards. They were very slick and slow going so I just had to take my time and be careful. One in particular was quite deep, at least 12-15 ft and very difficult to get up. I was worrying about how we would get down that one coming back later. The race volunteers had worked very hard to try and mark the snow and cut some steps in it but there was no way they could do all of it. It was cold up here too, probably in the upper 30's and windy.

I was really surprised at how quickly the leaders of the 50k and 50 mile began to pass by considering we had an hour head start on them but by 7 miles I was getting passed. Amazing ! The course continued to climb for awhile and we ran through a lot of rocks before finally beginning the descent into Tunnel Creek. I was wearing my "Too Dumb to Quit" shirt and half the people passing me in the other races the remainder of the day would comment on my shirt as the went by.

Near 9 miles I was feeling great and running on a sweet section of trail and was about to pass a lady but a fast 50k runner was coming up behind me. I was trying to decide whether to pass then, let him go or wait until he passed us both and as I sneaked a peek over my shoulder to see how fast he was coming I snagged a stick and down I went. It was a soft landing, more like a head first slide into 2nd base and I jumped up quickly and took off running knowing nothing was hurt. Well nothing other than two scraped up legs, a bruised left arm and a chunk of skin torn off my right hand.

The next couple of miles were quite enjoyable, easy downhill running mostly and the pain in the hand was subsiding and soon enough I was coming into the aid station. I handed off my bottle to a volunteer , dropped off a couple of items in my drop bag and then walked into the medical tent to get some gauze on my hand. The Doctor said I was his first customer as he quickly taped it up and I was out there door and headed down the trail.

Tunnel Creek to Tunnel Creek via Red House Loop. Miles 11-17

Tunnel Creek sits at about 7,900 ft and from there we headed down the first real quad busting descent on a rocky, washed out dirt road on the way to the low point of the course around 6,800. I was really not enjoying the pounding and was glad to reach the bottom. Along the way we had one creek of ice cold snow melt to cross which was refreshing to my feet. This was followed by a steep climb ,still on a dirt road, before another little descent to the Red House which gives the loop it's name at about the 14.5 mile point. Just below the house was another cold rushing stream to cross. I was surprised to see an aid station here. We had been told there would not be one but some volunteers decided they wanted to set up and camp here anyway. I took advantage to refill again and headed out quickly to began the climb out.

After a short bit it became flat or gently rising for awhile on a nice trail, through a meadow bursting with wildflowers and some nice views. It had warmed up to the 60's down in this lower section and was a very pleasant day. This was a keyhole loop and soon I reached the convergence point and the very unpleasant steep climb back up to the aid station. Ever since I had seen how difficult some of the course was I had been worrying about my Marathon Princess Karla in the 50k. She had been slow in recovering from a foot injury and was not in her best shape yet. She also is not a very experienced trail runner and has never done anything even remotely as difficult as this. I worried for her safety and hoped she would speak to me again for getting her into this. with the out and back spur here I was hoping perhaps I would see her coming down the hill as this would be the only opportunity to see her until after the race, but by the time I was in and out of Tunnel Creek again I never saw her.

Tunnel creek to Bull Wheel Miles 17-20

By the time I left tunnel Creek I had an 1.5 hour cushion on the cut-off so I was quite relaxed now and settled in for the long haul. My mood was great and everywhere I looked I was awe struck by the beauty of the course. I feltso thankful for just the opportunity to be here having this amazing experience and to make it better everything was going great with my body. My legs felt good and the energy level was steady. It just doesn't get much better than this.

The next few miles were one of my favorite parts of the course on some very sweet single track climbing up the ridge through several really cool boulder gardens. At times there amazing views of Lake Tahoe and then on the other side we could look down into Carson City and Washoe Lake with Reno way off in the distance. The wind was whipping around pretty strong up hear and it felt much cooler again. I was in heaven and loving life as I came into the Bull Wheel at 8,000 ft.

Bull Wheel to Diamond Peak Lodge, Miles 20-30

I knew I needed to get some calories in so I grabbed some things and half of a peanut butter sandwich and hurried out of the wind and back onto the trail. Normally I walk and eat but the trail was climbing and with the 8,000 foot altitude I was breathing too hard to eat so I found a nice rock to sit down for a few minutes while I ate. Up quickly and back on the trail, more nice single-track which continued to mostly climb reaching about 8,800 feet at the race marathon mark.

I was was looking forward to the next descent and a chance for some sustained running. The course finally took a hard left turn and headed down the mountain. This section was AWESOME ! The Tahoe Rim Trail is very popular with mountain bikers but a lot of what I saw I would not care too much for trying to ride, but this 4 miles down to the valley was amazing. Gently weaving it's way with bermed turns and butter smooth. A few jumps had been built but were easily bypassed. The views were amazing too and I intentionally stopped to take some pictures to give my quads a break. It wasn't very steep most of the way but with 75 more miles to go I didn't want to trash them so early in the race.

All too soon I had reached the bottom and ran onto the only pavement in the race, 1/4 mile down to the Diamond Peak Ski Lodge in Incline Village by the lake and back down to the race low point of 6,800 ft. Once again it was feeling warmer, probably near 70 as i came into the aid station. I was weighed for the first time and was down just 2 pounds which was no problem. I had my bottles refilled grabbed some food and sat down for a few minutes to get in the calories and prepare for the ordeal ahead.

Diamond Peak Lodge to Bull Wheel- mile 30-32

Many races have legendary sections that sometimes seem to fail to live up to their reputations. This is not one of them. this was every bit as hard as I had heard it would be and maybe worse.

It doesn't look that bad as you head out of the aid station onto a dirt service road. A steady climb but not any steeper than say, powerline in Umstead but as it climbs it does get gradually steeper climbing 600ft in the 1st mile. But then the real fun begins as you go around a tight switchback and see what lies ahead.

It was at this moment that I heard Jim call out my name and saw he was just behind me. I was a little surprised to see him but he was obviously having a great day and it was nice to see him climbing so well. I asked if he had seen Jenn lately and I was relieved to here him say she was only about 10 minutes back at the last aid station. I was really hoping she would come on strong and finish this thing too.

But right now I hard a hard task ahead. As I looked at the tiny dots of the runners just up ahead and waaaaaayyyy up there on the ski slope words like ridiculous and insane were the only things I could think of to describe the scene. This was beyond steepand to make matters worse it was a loose sandy surface making it very hard to gain traction. I was quickly reduced to a near crawl as the hill at times climbed at a 35% grade. The higher I climbed the more I gasped and my heart rate was reaching max. Jim had moved past and found a shady spot to sit so I moved over and sat next to him to allow my heart rate to return to near normal before resuming the climb.

The sun was bearing down on us making it even more fun. The only way to keep moving was to switch from climbing on my toes to walking back wards for awhile to use different muscles. Then it was side step to the left and then to the right and then repeat the process. To make it even more cruel there was a false summit hiding another 1/4 mile of the steepest climbing. If there was any saving grace for this little bit of torture, it was the incredible view of the lake behind us.

As I was finally approaching the top a helicopter began circling overhead. when I reached the top there was a runner who was a firemen signalling to it to land in the clearing near the bull wheel. He said there was an injured runner and we needed to get out of the way so the helicopter could land. I was very happy to move on and head back into the aid station. That last mile covered 1,200 of climb and I was looking forward to running again. That 2 miles took me 1:14 !

Bull Wheel to Tunnel Creek = miles 32-35

What a relief to get back out of the sun and on to that nice section of trail heading back to Tunnel Creek. It would be even more fun this time because it was predominately downhill in this direction. I had recovered completely from the climb and overall I was feeling great and loving the day. I quickly passed by Jim in what would be repeated for most of the remainder of the day. He was climbing strong and would move ahead but then I would pass by running faster on the flats and downhills.

I was able to relax a bit and let my mind wander and my thoughts were going out to Karla and Jenn. Both of these ladies are very dear to me and would be in my thoughts all the way to the end of this long long day and night. I was hoping for a safe finish for Karla and that Jenn would be right behind me and on her way to a buckle finish. I was also thinking about my friends and family each time I went through a checkpoint knowing that many were tracking my progress online. I was having so much fun and overall I couldn't have felt better or enjoyed myself anymore than I was right now.

Tunnel Creek to Hobart- miles 35-40

I was weighed in again and was dead on my pre-race weight. That made the Doctor very happy and I was quickly on my way out once again. The first half mile wasn't too bad but the course would climb again to 8,600 feet over the next couple of miles and once again I could feel the effect of the altitude. I was way ahead of the cut-off so I was content to relax with many more miles to go so I just tried to enjoy the views.

Soon I was back up into the snow sections and was dreading the big drop off the tallest drift. When I got there it didn't look like there was any good way down and after a few tentative steps i just slid down on my butt. Apparently that is how most folks made it down too judging from the chutes going down each side.

I finally emerged from the forest and back onto the slopes of Marlette Peak. I was very happy that the clouds of the morning had passed and I finally got that gorgeous view of Marlette Lake with Lake Tahoe in the background. After many pictures I made my way down into Hobart once again.

Hobart to Snow Valley Peak- miles 40-43

Leaving Hobart I was looking forward to seeing another 10 miles of the trail that I had not seen yet. Snow Valley Peak is the high point of the course at just over 9,000ft but I couldn't help but think that didn't sound too bad after climbing 1,200 in just one mile earlier. Still it was nothing to sneeze at so I settled in for a hard three miles. Most of the climb was quite gentle and I was making good time. There was one place with two dead trees across the trail and I poked myself in the calf on a piece of a branch. I would learn that Jenn hit the same tree.

As we neared the top there were a few more snow fields to cross but these were not nearly as bad as the ones in the last section. Jim had pulled ahead on the climb and I could see him just ahead crossing the last snow as we reached the summit. I finally made it to the aid station which is "manned" by a boy Scout troop every year and they would send one scout running up the trail to greet each of us as we made our approach.

Snow Valley Peak to Spooner Lake- mile 43 to 50

I was quicker once again than Jim leaving the aid station, feeling great and looking forward to the next 7 miles of mostly downhill and flat running. The first few miles were above the trees along the side slope of the mountain on a narrow rocky single-track. Brush and weeds were grown up over the trail brushing up against my legs and irritating the scrape on the side of my left leg from the morning fall so I was really glad when the trail widened a bit as we entered the forest once again.

From this point on the running was sublime. Gently downhill on mostly smooth trail. It just really doesn't get any better than this. At the 48.3 mile mark we passed by Spooner Summit which was a checkpoint with just a water cooler for a quick refill and then beyond that it was basically flat over to Spooner Lake. We had to make about half a lap around the lake on a smooth flat trail to the halfway mark. I was feeling still feeling great and the only negative was that my time was slower than I had hoped for. I had hoped to come in at 14 hours or better but my time was 14:35. This was the slowest first half of any of my previous 100 milers by far. This had been a very hard day and it wasn't going to get any easier.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tahoe Rim 100. Coming up July 16th

The elevation profile above if you noticed is just for the first 50 miles. We get to do two loops ! Woohooooo !

Hmmm, wonder what I've gotten myself into here? And why Tahoe Rim you might ask?

There are a few reasons why I chose this particular race for my return to the 100 mile distance after an absence from the distance for several years. The first reason is simply because I think it is one of the most beautiful places in the country. I had always enjoyed seeing photos of the lake and I finally got the chance to see it in 2007 on my trip out to Western States. I spent a week in Nevada and California that year and took a day trip over Mt rose and down to Lake Tahoe. It was every bit as gorgeous as I had imagined and the mild summer temperature and lack of humidity caused me to fall in love with the place. I would be so happy to be able to spend my Summers there and get away from the oppressive heat and humidity of North Carolina.

My friend, The Ultra Angel Jenn had been wanting to do a big beautiful 100 out West after having run at Umstead a couple of times so we agreed to look for one that we could both run. There were a couple of others we considered but the timing for this one and the chance of getting in easily made this one an easy choice. It also turned out to be a race with a 50k option that The Marathon Princess could run and is close enough to one of Frank's old friends home that we were able to convince them to make the trip too.

Although I knew it would be a difficult race, it wasn't until I began to research it a lot closer that I realized we had signed up for one of the most difficult 100 milers in the USA. The race has 24,000ft of climbing making it one of the the top 5 most difficult races out of the 90 or so on the calender in the USA. The elevation is mostly between 6,500 and 9,000 ft so it's high enough that we flatlanders will feel the lower air pressure. Although it is not nearly as high as Leadville which I ran in 2006, it is a much more difficult course. fortunately it doesn't have the terrible rocks like Massanutten or I don't think I would be able to finish this one

Here is the race website.

and here is a link to's section on Tahoe Rim. It takes a little bit for this page to load but it has a world of information and it's really cool because my blogpost appear on it !

This should keep you busy for awhile. I'll have another update before we leave.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tahoe Rim , Bonanza and The Ponderosa

The countdown continues until I head out West for the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Run on July 16th. Right now I am tapering and doing some planning. I'll have some more updates and info on the race in the coming weeks but in the meantime let's talk about Bonanza.

Being a baby boomer and a child of the 50's and 60's I grew up watching the show every week. I was 4 years old when the series began it's 14 year run on TV and like most boys I was a huge fan of Westerns. I almost felt like the Cartwrights were friends of the family. As I prepare to head out to Nevada I was remembering the map of the Ponderosa from the opening credits and from frequent references to Virginia City I knew it was close to Lake Tahoe. That made me wonder just how close I would be to the fictional ranch while running in the race.

Upon examining the map, it looks like the entire race is held within the boundaries of the Ponderosa ! How cool is that ! You have to note that the map is turned wrong but if you notice the compass is turned with North off to the left then you can get the proper bearings. The little blue lake near Lake Tahoe is Marlette Lake which we run by several times. The 30/80 mile mark in the race is just above Incline Village which is where the opening credits of the family riding up on their horses was filmed. A replica of the Ranch was built there and still stands today but is no longer open to the public.

So as I run around the course I will imagine Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe riding along on the trails welcoming us to their Ranch. And maybe Hop Sing will be cooking something for the aid stations.

Friday, July 01, 2011

ultra training-Part 2

Ok, here is the training plan all of you have been eagerly awaiting. Well, maybe one or two of you.

I hope you aren't too disappointed because there isn't much to it and I don't have a "schedule" to present to you with the details of any particular plan. I could just continue doing things the way I have over the years and probably do well in my upcoming races but I'm curious to see how a slightly different approach will work for me.

High Mileage. Yep, that is the plan. High mileage is a relative thing I guess. For many , averaging 45-50 a week would be high but I've been at that level for most of the past 7 years or so other than the injury year so my body has reached a plateau and there just isn't much possibility or room for improvement staying at that level. There have been a few weeks with higher totals and I did have that one week experiment last October when I ran 102 but that was just one week.

So over the next few months I will be putting in a lot more slooowwwww miles with some longer than usual runs. Unlike when I'm in marathon mode, these runs will be more like long excursions, with walk breaks and not caring about the time or pace at all. I would like to see my weekly average creep up over the next couple of months to about 70 and see how my body reacts to that. If things go well I will gradually bump that up and hopefully by next Spring I'll try and handle 80 to 90 for awhile. The fact is unless something changes drastically with my work situation I have plenty of time to get in as many miles as I want.

I will still include at least one run a week with some miles at half-marathon to marathon pace and I'll throw in some strides on some runs occasionally to keep the fast twitch fibers alive but the focus now is on building a monster aerobic base. tThere will a day or two a week when I will double up with 2 workouts in a day. I have experimented a little with this in the past and it worked out well.

In addition to adding more slow miles I will still tailor some workouts to the unique demands of the next event on my race schedule. Right now that next one is Tahoe Rim 100. Well, not much I can do about that one now but taper so the high mileage plan will actually have to wait until after I recover from that one.

When I'm healthy I always try and plan my racing about a year in advance and I usually have one or two events that I hope to be in peak condition. Right now the big long range goal as I stated in an earlier post(go here for plans)is to get a 100 mile pr at Umstead next year and about everything I do between now and then is geared toward helping me achieve that goal. My race schedule is always there in the margins of my blog home page so you can see what I'm up to and as always I'll have previews and reports for those that are interested.

I am very excited moving forward and I can't wait to get out there and make these goals a reality !