Last year I was hoping to run the 50 miler but was injured and volunteered at the finish line instead. That just served to fuel my desire this year. The timing couldn't have been better in my build up to the Leadville 100.
I drove up to Tahoe by myself allowing my family to sleep in and come up later. They would meet me at the halfway point at Mt. Rose Hwy and again at the finish line.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived was how comfortable the temperature was. Would this be a precursor to how warm it would get later? I checked in and discovered that my coach was volunteering behind the table. Finally, after 7 months, I got to meet him. After getting my stuff together I made my way down to the start line where I ran into Gretchen. She's been having a great season but I had no idea how well she'd do in this race.
We started promptly at 6am after being reminded by Dave Cotter to only do the Red House Loop ONCE. After sorting ourselves out on the dirt road we hit the wonderful singletrack that would take us to Marlette Lake. I did a walk/run on the uphills, feeling pretty good but saving myself for a long day.
Marlette is beautiful this time of day. It's a magical feeling to be making your way up into the high sierra knowing that you will run 50 miles before the day is over. It's a peaceful time of day with the flowers just opening up with the first rays of sunshine.
I made my way toward the first aid station only to discover it wasn't there! I kept running and finally it appeared through the trees. I wondered why they had moved it. I didn't need to fill my hydration pack and moved on quickly. I really wanted to work on keeping my AS times short.
After leaving Hobart AS you come across one of the best views on the course. I was still feeling good but I knew my pace was very controlled.
The section from Hobart to Twin Lakes is one of the most enjoyable for me and I started to push it a little. Once again, as I came into where the AS was suppose to be, it wasn't there. It was now up in the saddle with Tunnel Creek Rd. I filled up with water and a little food and started the descent into "hell". This 6.5 mi section has the reputation of being extremely tough but I actually don't mind it too much. I descended quickly and moved through the AS to the flume road. This road seems to go on forever so it became my goal to just keep running and I managed to pass a couple people here. As I hit the steep, sandy hill I was reduced to a walk.
About a month before, I had done a training run from Mt. Rose hwy to Twin Lakes, the Red House loop, and back to Mt. Rose. I was happy to see that today's Red House loop split was only 5 minutes slower than my training run, considering I was going to be running twice as far. After another quick stop at Tunnel Creek I made the split with the 50K runners (who headed back toward the start) and made my way north to Mt. Rose.
Meanwhile, Pat and the girls were also making their way to the halfway point of the race and getting things set up for my arrival. The job of a crew is pretty thankless though. You spend hours waiting patiently for your runner, only to spend a couple minutes them him/her before they're headed back down the trail. Even though a runner may not always show it, the support they receive from their crew is priceless and always appreciated.
The 9 mile section between Twin Lakes and Mt. Rose includes some wonderful rolling singletrack as it follows the ridgeline with the Tahoe Basin to the west and Washoe Valley to the east.
It was on this section that I passed a lot of 100 mile runners as well as the front pack of 50 mile runners heading south. I was impressed to see Gretchen so soon and as I checked my watch I remember thinking "wow, she may break 10 hours". Very nice.
I made it into the Mt. Rose AS in 6:15. I really wanted to be there in 6 hours but I was happy to see that my split time from Tunnel Creek was only 1 minute slower than my earlier training run. After getting my water refilled and enjoying an Otter Pop, I spent a few minutes visiting with my family. Back in April at the American River 50 Mile, my family once again met me at the halfway point to support me. However, I found myself getting very emotional when it was time to head down the trail and I just didn't want to leave. I spent some valuable extra minutes giving more hugs and kisses. As it turns out, I missed breaking 10 hours at the finish by 3 minutes. As much as I enjoyed spending that extra time with everyone, I didn't want to lose any more time than I had to.
So after getting a new full gel flask and replenishing my S Caps, I gave out a few quick hugs and kisses and got back on the trail. If I wanted to finish in 12 hours, I needed to pick it up a bit.
Caitlyn giving out helpful advice
After leaving Mt. Rose, my family headed to Reno to get Caitlyn a pair of running shoes. She wasn't happy with her slipper type shoes and she wanted something that she could run across the finish line with her mom. Not only did she end up with a genuine pair of running shoes, they had laces!
Caitlyn fell into step with me and then immediately went into a full sprint. I just laughed as I watched her go, there was no way I could keep up with her. Finally she slowed down and I caught up and she said "Mommy, running this fast makes my chest hurt". We fell back into step together and crossed the line together. I glanced at the timer and it read 12:10:41. Not the 12 hours I was hoping for but I was happy none-the-less. Results are here.
Checking out Caitlyn's new shoes
After resting for a bit, I started making my way back up the hill when I ran into my coach, Howard Nippert. We hadn't been able to visit in the morning so it was good to finally get to talk to him and discuss plans for the next 5 weeks until Leadville.
Howard and I discuss running
Suddenly, without warning, I started feeling pretty queasy and light headed. I guess running for 12 hours and then suddenly stopping can do strange things to your body. After sitting for about 10 minutes I was able to walk up the hill to where the cars were parked.
Once again, this proved to be a wonderful event. The weather was perfect. Some people complained about the heat but I never thought it got too hot. I think all the Bikram yoga (hot yoga) I've been doing has been really helpful to getting acclimatized to the heat. Thank you Dave and all the wonderful volunteers. I've now done the 50K and 50M so maybe the 100M is on the horizon. But let's see how Leadville goes first.