Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lots of Smiles at LOTS

I figured it was about time that I did a write up about my last race of the 2010 season before I run my first race of 2011.

For years I've wanted to run's Lake of the Sky out of Tahoe City. I love the TRT 50K and any excuse to do more running on the Tahoe Rim Trail works for me. Ten days before the race I decided to do a scouting run to check out the first 9 miles of the course. The trail is uphill for about the first 4 miles, rocky, and stays pretty much in dense forest. It was real difficult for me to find a good rhythm and needless to say, by the time I got to the "fiberboard freeway" at 9 miles, I wasn't in a good mood and just wanted to get back to the car. I had signed up for the 50K and the first thing I did when I got home was email RD Robert Mathis and downgrade myself to the marathon. To be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to the race.

In the meantime, we had bought a new tent-trailer and we decided the maiden trip would be at Donner Lake the weekend of LOTS and we'd use it as a base camp for my run.

I woke up early Saturday morning (September 11), and drove myself up to Tahoe City. In a move indicative of my early 20's, I grabbed some hot chocolate and a donut for breakfast. It worked back then, would it work at 39 years old? Breakfast of champions before a trail marathon. I had to wonder if I was crazy. I grabbed my number from Linda Mathis then sat in my car until about 20 minutes before start time. It then dawned on me that I might want to get my stuff ready. Man, was I being lackadaisical about this run.

We had perfect weather for the 7am start as a smaller then expected number of people surged across the paved road and hit the first hill which slowed all but the leaders to a walk. I placed myself in the middle of the pack so I could have a reasonable start but not get too log jammed. Being surrounded by other runners on this beautiful morning already improved my mood from how I had felt 10 days ago on my scouting run. Before I knew it we had passed the 4 mile mark and reached the point where the trail opens up and we got our first views of Lake Tahoe. The trail begins to roll and I was leading a large pack of runners so I opened it up and really began to enjoy myself. I steamrolled into the 9 mile AS at fiberboard freeway, downed a couple of GU's and hit the next 4.5 mile section to Lake Watson that I had never been on before.

In the meantime, Pat and the girls toured Truckee for a bit before making their way up to Tahoe City and watch me finish. They came across this great kids museum where they could become one with the animals.

I enjoyed the next section to the turn around point, nice rollers, old roadbed, nice views of Tahoe. The AS volunteers were really nice at Lake Watson but I was eager to head back. I had counted the women ahead of me at 7 or 8 but I didn't know who was continuing on to the 50K and who was relay. Coming into the fiberboard freeway AS I was surprised when I reeled in another woman. I was feeling strong and knew what I had ahead of me and was still feeling strong. This day was turning out so much better then I had expected. Gorgeous weather, friendly runners, and a now familiar trail to run.

To top it off, I knew my family would be waiting to watch me finish. At least I hoped they would. Based on previous runs, I predicted a 6 hour finishing time. However, I soon realized I was ahead of schedule. With 4 miles to go I saw that I could possibly finish in under 5:30. I was getting tired now but with most of the last part of the course downhill, I just put my head down and pushed. It may be downhill, but it's a LONG 4 miles. I came around the final corner and saw Caitlyn at the bottom of the hill waiting for me. We crossed the line together in 5:27. Turns out my family had arrived just minutes before me. Perfect timing.

So my experience at LOTS was everything I had hoped it would be and there were definitely LOTS of smiles going around. Little did I know, it would be my last run of the season. (I had Dick Collins marathon on my schedule but that's another post). Robert and Linda always put on well run races, low key with a family feel. Turns out my first race of 2011 will be another Robert Mathis run, Pony Express on February 26.

Next generation of ultrarunner:

Also, an update on Mittens and Taffy. It's now been just over 5 weeks that we've had them and life couldn't be better. They are already an integral part of the family. I didn't realize how much I missed having a cat in the house and having these 2 has been a total joy. They love playing with each other and the dog. Very entertaining.