This year has been a special and amazing one for me. I have had the pleasure of watching Ambers belly grow with our soon to arrive son, spent some amazing time on trails in the mountains and canyons around home and been blessed to have some great runs. This years TRT 100 will occupy a special place in my memory. The day was beautiful, I got to have my best run to date on my home trails, with friends and have my wonderful wife crew me.
My training for TRT was a little bitter sweet. Normally Amber and I do much of our training separate, needing to focus on different things, but we can often put together some great long days together in the back country. This year with her being pregnant we were not able to do nearly as much, though we did get some great hikes in, and these are my favorite days I spent getting ready this year.
TRT this year was meant to be a warm affair, with highs in South Lake Tahoe near 90, and I know that may not sound warm to some of you, but for those of us that live in the mountains 90 is way too warm. I had a plan for managing that heat, Ice and fluid, lots of both. One great thing about the epic winter we had is that there was still plenty of snow patches on the course to use to cool off. I had also done the majority of my training runs in the previous month during the hottest part of the day.
One great thing about running a race in your home town is being able to sleep in your own bed, make a proper breakfast and head to the race. Sure I still had to wake up at 3:00 in the morning, but I was able to stumble to the kitchen start coffee and make some eggs and veggies. With breakfast down we loaded up in Bertha and headed out, meeting up with my pacer and crew member Alex on the way. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, I plugged in my phone to listen to some music to pump me up. Slayer played loud. Funny thing is I didn't realize the outside speakers were turned on. So, to the guy getting ready next to us I hope you like Slayer, otherwise, I'm sorry you had to listen to that.
Down to the start we headed. It was great to see friendly faces and have some conversations before the start.
|Waiting for the start.|
Soon we were climbing up to the first and possibly best view of Lake Tahoe, from Marlette Peak. Sure enough we were treated with an amazing view as we neared the top of the climb and rounded a corner. Shortly we were over the ridge and traversing a large snow field, I was in the lead of the group and promptly took us(I think we were a group of 4-5) off course. After a minute or two we saw another runner taking the right path and quickly ran to join him. The route T's back in with the official TRT and soon we came to a wall of snow with steps cut in. It is amazing how much snow there still was in places, and how much work the race crew had put in getting the trail ready.The next section of trail has great flow and is a fun down hill. The lead traded several times as we tried to find our all day pace. Soon we were passing by Twin Lakes(which I haven't seen this full in years) and were on our way into Tunnel Creek Aid for the first of 6 visits. Again we were in and out in short order and headed down to Red House Loop.
The descent in this part of the course is steep, sandy and rutted in places, I let a couple runners pull away on this part, wanting to save my quads a bit, thinking "it is still early." At the bottom of the hill we crossed several creeks, this felt great as the day was already starting to heat up. As we began the first part of the climb to the next aid station we bunched up into a group of around 8. We chatted and joked, one runner from Spain joked that he had enjoyed running with us but it was time for him to go and feigned sprinting off. We laughed, knowing that he is a Olympic marathon runner and would surely be looking to make a move soon. Up to the Red House aid station, with its Wizard of Oz theme, filling bottles, and we were off. This next section the pace kicked up a bit. For a while is is a false flat, and we started to put in some work, the group started to spread out a bit. After a couple miles of solid effort we turned to climb back up the steep hill we had come down. I put my head down, started to swing my arms and settled into power hike mode. This hill sorted the group out more and soon I was alone. About half way up I saw the 50 mile front runners(Bob Shebast and Peter Fain at the time) come barreling down the hill, Threw out some high fives and took in some stoke and continued on.
I came back into Tunnel Creek Aid, and was in a hurry to get back out so I filled a bottle and was out. I glanced back and noted one runner not too far behind me. I tried to settle my mind and not allow my self to speed up. I needed to remain relaxed and save some energy. Slowly I pulled ahead and mostly out of view. I kept questioning my self as to whether I had gone out too fast. I was in the lead less than 30 miles into 100, that is a long way to run in the front. I assessed my effort, very comfortable, I was feeling antsy to run faster but forced myself to save it for later.
Shortly I was into and out of Bull Wheel aid, and looking forward to the Tyrollean Downhill. It has been a while since I had been on this section of the trail and had forgotten how far it was to the turn off for the down hill. I enjoyed running over several more snow patches before finally turning onto the downhill. One of these days I need to ride my Mt bike on this trail, it is swoopey, and fun to run, but purpose built for bikes. It is the kind of trail that begs to be run fast and hard, which I did not do, sort of. I admit to letting the trail get under my skin and letting it rip a couple times, and then reeling my self back in. The easiest way to kill your running legs is with exuberant downhill running.
I finished the downhill, came into the parking lot of Diamond Peak just in time to see my dad walking his dogs across the parking lot. I hollered at him, gave a wave and continued to the aid station where I was greeted by my amazing wife, mom, sister and brother in law, pacer Alex and my friend Ryan Peel(who was crewing Steve Powers on what would be a great first 100 performance). Amber and team quickly had me outfitted with fresh bottles, ice bandanna and sleeves a coconut water and some calories. It always gives me a boost to see my family during my races.
|Look at that baby bump on my baby.|
Off I ran, to climb the infamous Diamond Peak hill. This climb is no joke. There is very little running involved in getting up this hill. Again, head down, swing those arms and power hike.
Soon enough I was at the top, through Bullwheel Aid and on to the fun flowing single track. I was feeling good and moving well, still making sure to keep my effort in check. Back into Tunnel Creek aid and the smiling faces of the Silver State Striders. I took a couple extra minutes to refill my ice, down a coconut water and take in some calories. Off I went, looking forward to the great views at the top of Marlette Peak. From here to the top of snow Valley peak went smoothly. I stopped in a couple of the snow patches to refill my ice bandanna and sleeves. The temperature was really starting to rise, I made sure to try and keep my body temperature in check with ice, snow and water when ever I got the chance.
|Marlette Peak. Photo by Gary Wang|
|Amber getting me ready to head back out.|
|Giving a smile for Tiffany Anderson as she made her way to her first 50 mile finish.|
Down I ran, giving the descent every thing I could. At the bottom I again submerged in the creek, making sure to try and cool off a bit. I gave the next climb a hard effort and pushed all the way to the aid station. At red house my stomach was again a little off. I noted a tea pot labeled pickle juice(and some other things I failed to notice). I poured a shot and down it went. Holy hell!!! that was spicy, my face cued one of the volunteers to to point out the that it also had apple cider vinegar and something spicy. Wow, that did not go down well. I chased its with some Orgina and was back on the road. I pushed the last 2 miles of fire road as hard as I could, definitely burning some matches. By the time I hit the steep climb back up to Tunnel Creek I was ready to do some hiking. As I hiked up the last bit of the climb I saw the eventual 2nd place runner Evan bombing down the hill, followed shortly by two other runners. I figured I had about 40 minutes on Evan, but I had no idea what place he was running. Into the aid station I went, helped again by the amazing crew(Kayce Green was always there making sure I had what I needed). Back on the trail, now really starting to push myself.
I enjoyed being able to run at a harder pace, but was starting to feel the fatigue of the day in my legs. The sky had clouded over and I could see rain showers off in the distance. A little part of me wished for a sprinkle, but a bigger part dreaded the thought of a thunderstorm causing the race to hold runners at aid stations until it passed.
Into and out of the Bullwheel aid station I went, and before too long I was at the Tyrollean Downhill, this time I pushed the descent hard, ignoring the ache that settled into my legs half way down. I just focused on the joy of flying. I really have gotten to love running downhill fast, it is a very exhilarating, freeing, and never fails to bring a smile to my face.
|Coming into Diamond Peak for the second time.caption|
We talked and ran as the sun sank, turning the sky to the most amazing red and gold. These are the moments that you remember in long days on the trail, part of the why I go out and do this. Alex is great at reminding me to eat on a regular basis. If I declined to eat when he tells me to he reminds me again soon after. On one of these occasions I agreed, though my stomach was feeling more off than it had in a while. I sucked down a gel(lemon GU) and instantly had to walk, my stomach had had enough. Alex asked if all was good. I lied and said I just needed to walk for a second. Then shortly after I was on the side of the trail puking everything. It was EPIC. After what seemed like forever my stomach let up and we started to walk. And I felt better. I hadn't realized how off my stomach had been until I emptied it out on the trail. Shortly we were running again, and by the time we were into Tunnel Creek for the last time I was actually hungry, for real food. I grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich, some ginger ale, and we were off. We ran the next section a little slower than I had hoped. I needed to get in some more calories, so I ate what I could, and drank my ginger ale. The sun finally set and we turned on our lights, pushing on.
We came into the Hobart Aid station, filled up, and the crew there were stoked to see us. They had written down the time I had come through on my 3rd pass on their cutting board. I downed some coconut water, and we were off. I was feeling much better and was able to run much of the climb up to the Snowflower Peak AS. Our conversation flowed, and we enjoyed the cooler temps. We were greeted by the Boy Scouts volunteers. We chatted briefly as we grabbed some food and then headed out. I told Alex that my plan for this down hill was to start out steady. I wanted to be careful on the more technical upper section, and increase the pace as we descended. The upper section went smoothly, and as the trail mellowed out down further I began to ratchet up the pace. Alex was a champ, handling my ever increasing speed. About 1.5 miles from the turn to Spooner Lake I caught my left foot on a rock and was instantly falling head long into a tree. I managed to roll just enough to avoid hitting the tree trunk and landed in the dirt at its feet. I bounced up in a cloud of dust. I was unscathed, save the toe that had born the brunt of the rock that tripped me. Alex and I laughed at how dirty I was and headed off. At this point I started to run with everything I had, eventually dropping Alex, feeling the excitement of knowing that I was going to win, going to come in under 19 hours. If I pushed I could break 18:30. I pushed the last mile around the lake hard, goose bumps on my neck. I came into the finish line with a huge smile, greeted by George Ruiz, my parents, sister and brother in law and of course my amazing wife Amber.
I couldn't be any more stoked with how this day went. I have heard people talk about a magical day on the trails in a race, and now I know how it feels. I have to give a huge thank you to my parents, sister and brother in law for coming out to support me. To Alex Larson for crewing and pacing, I really couldn't have done it with out you. To George Ruiz and the entire Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs crew for putting on one of the best races I've done. And to Amber, my wife, best friend, partner in adventure, and now in parenting, I really couldn't have realized this dream with out her support, experience, and love.
Altra Lone Peak shoes, the best shoes I have ever run in, they never let me down.
Amphipod hand held bottles(first 80 miles)
Ultimate direction AK vest(the old one for last 20)
Tailwind in my bottles. This stuff is amazing.