I left all by my lonesome on Friday morning to head up to Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is about a four hour drive for us. I wanted to get a run in before the race in the altitude. They say that either you go up RIGHT before a race in altitude (like that same day) or you need to give yourself a few weeks to get acclimated. Well, I didn't have the luxury of either of those options, so I just decided to give myself as long as a head start as I could with the elevation. My run on Friday afternoon when I got there was hard! I was sucking hard for air - it felt like I was smoking a cigarette while running! I managed 5.5 miles before I called it quits. It worried me a bit, but there was really nothing more I could do to prepare myself for the elevation and altitude.
The hubbs joined me late Friday night and by Saturday morning we were up early to go and help crew for Sam who was running the Lake Tahoe Triple that weekend for Operation Jack. If you're new to my blog, I've been supporting Sam all year on his quest to run 61 marathon's in honor of his son Jack and to raise money for Train 4 Autism. Saturday was day 2 of the Triple for Sam and he needed some one to come out and crew. The Tahoe Tripple consists of running around Lake Tahoe in three days - covering a marathon each day. Only the crazies do it! Or in this case, Sam ;) Day 2 is considered to be the "easier" of the Marathon's but really, running three marathons in three days in crazy altitude with crazy elevation changes is never easy. And the hard part about the Tripple is that day 1 and day 2 don't have the roads closed and there are no official aid stations. The runners are basically running along the side of the twisty, steep and dangerous side of the road for two days. Since there is no official aid stations either, the runners are encouraged to have a crew driving along with them. We were the day 2 crew for Sam. It was so much fun to be out there with all of those inspiring runners. Some were super speedy (like Sam) while others took it as a beautiful walk around the Lake for three days. Either way, they were some pretty awesome peeps.
Sam at the start of day 2 - Spooner Lake
At the start line - it was about 44 out - perfect
We carried Sam's Gatorade and met him in Incline Village around mile 11.5. At this point he was in 4th! The first guy was super speedy but we knew he could move up easily. We handed off his water and sent him to the finish!
It was just beautiful running and spectating there!
Sam told us he was good to go to the finish so Ari and I headed back to the hotel to rest up - but not before some great pancakes! We spent the afternoon napping and walking Lilly. The weather was beautiful. I decided on pizza as my pre-run dinner with a big salad. I think this was the perfect dinner the night before. I had no probs in the morning or during the race.
I slept really good the night before - something that usually NEVER happens the night before a marathon for me. I woke up around 5 and had my usual peanut butter toast and coffee. It was a bit chilly out when we left the hotel to pick up Sam - around 37 out. But as soon as we started driving around the lake it started to warm up as the sun came up and the temps were about 45 or 47 at the start - again, perfect running temps.
The Sunday marathon starts at Common's Beach in Tahoe City. It is right on the lake. The marathon had about 400 runners to start. Not a big crowd, but a little bigger than last year I could tell. We brought Sam with us to the start and posed for some pre-race pics together.
Notice I'm all bundled up and Sam is in a race tank!
Lilly set to crew and cheer her mamma on!
On the beach at the start
The start had a great National Anthem and then with a big shot gun we were off! The first 9 miles are all pretty flat and I was hoping to keep it in the 8:30's here to bank some time. Along this point, I met a man named Jim who was from San Diego and we exchanged goals. My plan was to run a fast first half and then bank some time for the second (harder) half. It was nice to have the company and have some one to talk to. From mile 1 to around 7 we were winding through some neighborhoods and on a bike path. My legs felt great and I was feeling really good. I knew I could have ran faster but I just wanted to stay on pace and enjoy the scenery.
At around mile 7 we came out from the bike path and onto highway 89 which goes around the Lake. The South bound lanes are open but the north bound lanes are closed for us. That doesn't mean a few cars don't get by but the crowd thins out so much that you don't have to worry about getting to the edge.
View of the lake around mile 6
At mile 7 (Jim is in the yellow)
At mile 7 I changed out my handheld and ate a half of PB&J. It was hard to get down and I wasn't hungry but knew I needed to get it in me. At this point Jim was worrying about the pace but I told him to hang on to the half because it was just going to get harder and our pace would naturally slow.
I think my paces were all below 9 at this point and I was happy with that. Around mile 11 there is a small climb where my pace was definitely around 9:30 going up, but I wanted to conserve anyway and not bonk early. It was just beautiful and peaceful out and I had to keep reminding myself to look around and enjoy the scenery. I hit the half at exactly 1:50, which I was thrilled with. That meant I could run the second half in 2:10 and still come in at 4 hours. At mile 13.5 or so the hills (or mountains!) started coming. I wanted to hold my pace as best as I could but not be a slave to my time. I was turning over pretty well and just enjoying it. At mile 14 though, my back and shoulders started hurting. They had sharp, aching pains and I couldn't figure it out. Around this time I told Ari to meet ahead with some tiger balm I packed. He met me at mile 15 with a new handheld, a PB&J and rubbed Tiger Balm all over my lower back and shoulders. It felt soooo good. Exactly what I needed.
Mile 15.2 brings on the dreaded Hill from Hell. There are signs at the bottom of it "welcoming" you and telling you your elevation - 6200'. I started here to walk/run. My back was still killing me. I think it was due to my labored breathing from the altitude. I also started getting sick to my stomach - which is the first signs of altitude sickness. I tried to stay focus, sip my Nunn and just keep moving. The hill never ends. At mile 16.2 there is a sign that says 6800' and "Welcome to Purgatory." Yeah, it felt like that because we still had over a half mile of climbing. This is where I lost Jim. He had to stop. I kept my walk/run thing going and plugging along. Finally, at the top, at mile 16.8 and 7400' was the top! Ari was waiting for me and I pulled over for some more Tiger Balm. I don't know if it did any good physically, but mentally that little break was good for me. I told myself I was now in the single digits and I could do it - but I was draining quickly.
The sun was out now and although we were in the shade for a lot of it, it was getting warm. I was still sick to my stomach and could barely drink. After the Hill from Hell you would think it would get easier, but really the hills keep coming. I told myself that when I got to mile 20 it was just a 10K left and it was all down hill.
At mile 18 we got to Emerald Bay! It was gorgeous! The lake was so blue and the scenery was breath taking.
The view at mile 18
Walk/running to catch my breath
When you wind around Emerald Bay you are greeted with one of the last hard climbs of the race. It is straight up! At this point Jim caught me again and we ran /walked at this point. I ate some oranges from Ari and I could see my goal pace slipping away. But the funny thing is, I was okay with it. I was ENJOYING the whole thing even though I my back was killing me and my stomach was sick. We passed a photographer together and started running for the camera! LOL! And from there I just picked up my feet and didn't stop running until mile 20. At the top of mile 20 you have Lake Tahoe to your left and Echo Lake to your right - stunning! And literally, from here, it is all down hill or flat to the end!
The down hill from here though is quite hard. It is straight down hill with a ton of switch backs. Ari told me I was in the top 20 women at this point and that gave me the boost I needed. My other goal for the race was to be in the top 25 finishing. I wanted the jacket! I used the down hills for some big momentum and was back to 8 minute miles at this point. My legs actually were feeling awesome the whole time. They never cramped, they never felt tired, it was just my back. The pounding of the down hills and the labored breathing were hard. Again, at this point I lost Jim. We vowed to see each other at the finish line.
The last 5K is ran along the bike bath all along the beaches. Again, I can't describe how beautiful and peaceful it is. The crowd was pretty thinned out at this point, even though we had some half marathon peeps, some 20 miler peeps and 10K peeps joining us. The water and aid stations were also really cute. I couldn't get any more Nunn down so I started taking water. Each water station was manned by either a boy scout troop, girl scout troop or a local running team. They were so cute! And they all dressed up and were really encouraging! I took some oranges from Ari before we were off the road for good and told him I would see him at the finish.
I was attempting to do the math in my head at this point to see how close I could get to 4. The reality is, I wasn't going to get too close. I was okay with that. I was still enjoying everything and still moving. I think my walk/run at the Hill from Hell and Emerald Bay really did in my goal time, but I know now that it really saved my legs and energy. At this point of the race were were winding through Camp Richardson and Valhalla. Valhalla is a big museum of one of the first homes built on Lake Tahoe. It's quite grand and the grounds are beautiful. With about 2 miles to go I came across a couple that I had see-sawed with the whole race. The wife was in pain and started walking. As I passed her I told them, "Less than 20 minutes and we're at the finish!" Just as I said that some fat-ass guy who was visiting the museum with his family shouts out, "Ha! I finished an hour ago!" I was mad! We were all out there tackling the hardest course and at mile 24 of a marathon! I yelled back at him some not so nice words. He told me too cool it then I told him to get his fat ass out here and run a marathon! A few hundred yards up his boys were sitting on a bench and told me that was their dad. I said to them right to there face, "your dad is a jerk!" They laughed and said, "yeah, he sure is!" Maybe not my best moment as a human being, but what a jerk!
With just those last couple of miles left I knew I didn't have much time to beat my PR so I put my head down and ran. There are some good rollers in here and I attempted to just keep moving. I was passing a ton of peeps at this point - including a girl about my age who I had been ahead of for a while and then she passed me at a water station. I had made her my target and I finally passed her! The awesome thing about this race is that every.single.runner. is encouraging to their fellow runners. Anytime anyone who pass each other, they would turn and say, "good job," or "looking good," or "go get 'em!" The camaraderie out there was contagious and it is one of the reasons why I love this race. This race is not for the faint of heart. It's hard, it's challenging and it chews you up and spits you out. Anyone who finishes is a rockstar.
The final .3 is down the beach path to the finish. I looked at my watch and it said 4:14xx and I just ran as fast as I could. Ari was on the side lines and I ran even faster as I saw him and knew I had at least PR'ed!
Coming into the finish!
I crossed the line in 4:15:05! It felt so good! My legs were still fresh and I was so excited that I met my goal! I started crying right away because they handed me my coupon for being in the top 25 women! Whoo hoo! I was crying pretty good. To finish that race and meet both of my goals and come in the top 25 women was the best feeling ever! I couldn't believe it.
When I finished I knew I hadn't left it all out there and I was okay with that. My legs were strong and mentally I knew I had done well. I didn't beat myself up and I still came in with a great time on such a hard course. I LOVE this race. If you ever have the chance to run it, do it! It is so humbling, so beautiful and such an accomplishment.
I found Ari and Sam right away. Sam did awesome! Read his recap here and drop him a line! Three marathon's in three days on the hardest course around! He came in third overall for the Triple! I soaked my legs in the Lake - the perfect ice bath! And made some new friends as we went over the race together. Everyone as this race is so nice and encouraging - the best way to finish a race!
I lost my tear tag on the course! So, right now they have my right bib# and my right location and time but the wrong name! I already talked to the race director and it will be fixed this week. It was kind-of a let down to not see my actual name on the sheet but I'm okay with that, my bib# saved me and the time is right ;)
26.2 miles 4:15:05 - 9:42/mi pace
22 woman and 83/340 overall
|At the finish with Sam!|
I couldn't be happier with that, and my Garmin had the exact same time and distance, the course was true to the Garmin distance.
|My top 25 finisher Windbreaker!|
The medal is pretty big - it's the Lake - don't let the photo fool you!
Today my legs feel great. I went to they gym yesterday when we got home and spun on the bike for about 45 minutes. And today they are not sore or tight at all. I know that I didn't leave it all out there but that is a good thing since I have Long Beach in just a couple of weeks.
I'm really proud of how I did out there. I ran strong and I ran smart and I wouldn't change a thing. My back is still a bit sore but not anything like it was while I was running. I know that it was from the different breathing and all the hills. That is just something you cannot prepare for.
Thanks for getting through all of this! It was an awesome run and journey that I hope many of you add to your list of races some day. I have a bit of excitement in me about next year - I think that Tripple is calling my name!
Have a great Tuesday peeps! I'm off to catch up with all of you!