Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cal-Neva Marathon, Day 2 Tahoe Triple Marathon 9/29/12

The race for day #2 started roughly the same place we finished the day before near Spooner Lake, NV. We left the hotel early to be able to make a stop at the Starbucks on the way to the start.

Pre race instructions right before the start of the race
Just before the start, my MM friend Jennifer H. tells us that she lost her money, ID, and credit card in the woods when she went to the restroom, as there was only one portapotty at the start line. She has looked for a little bit but the gun was already sounded for the start. HH and another person volunteered to look for a while and would be in contact with her. The first 0.2 miles is flat followed by several miles of downhill, loosing all the elevation that we gained at the end of the course the day before.

Downhill running stride
There were a few small uphills in the middle of the downhills but nothing lasting too long. With views like this...

After about 10 miles we approached and skirted Incline Village, going along huge and expensive looking homes. About this time we started seeing the cyclists that were doing a full and half loop of the lake, they were heading the opposite direction that we were. Leaving town we were greeted with a moderate climb, luckily HH was there for the resupply.

He saw roughly the same runners most of the day, and was offering to them all the things pictured here. He said after a while when he would see the same runners again "I have the usual," instead of listing everything he had to offer. Initially the people that didn't take stuff started to later in the race, and the people that took stuff early on, stopped taking it later. People tended to go for the gatorade until later in the race then he got more requests for water. I complemented him on his crewing skills, particularly since after I finished, several people came up to him to thank him for his crewing help. He replied "I learned it from Magic Man." You see, Magic Man is the trail name that my dad earned while helping us out when we thruhiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2007 and the name stuck after sharing his trail magic with both me and my trail family and with other hikers going about the same pace.

Back to the race. The rest of the course had a few hills, went through more little towns than I thought would be there, and continued to enjoyed the views. The last few miles seemed to last a long time but with persistence I was at the finish line, right in downtown Tahoe City along the main street.

Finish line downtown Tahoe City

Me crossing the finish line

Me with Endorphin Dude and Jennifer H.
After a round of soda, water, (beer for some), and some Marathon Maniac cake for one lady turning 50 today (her shirt read "26.2 is the new 50") we hobbled down the stairs to Lake Tahoe to soak our legs. Some got deeper into the water...

Than others....

HH got his feet wet, it was cold!

Took about 1 hour to drive back to Stateline, NV, dropped off two runners at their hotel, lunch again at Baja Fresh, and another stop at Starbucks, back to the hotel to shower, and do this posting. Dinner later with the same crew from last night.

Next up, Day #3 and final day of the Tahoe Triple Marathon. This time there will be a few hundred more runners, regular aid stations, and an entire lane of the highway closed off the entire race!

Emerald Bay Marathon, Lake Tahoe, NV 9/28/12 State #30

The Tahoe Triple Marathon is a series of three marathons in a row around Lake Tahoe in a counterclockwise direction starting at Inspiration Point at Emerald Bay in the SW area of the lake. This marathon is on Friday morning starting at 7am. By the end of the weekend you will have completed one circuit of the lake (72 miles) plus an additional 6.8 miles to add up to 3 marathons.

The first marathon starts at an area where someone said it is one of the most photographed places in the U.S. or close to it. Starting just as the sun was peaking out over the mountains across the lake a trooper pulled into the road, allowed the runners on the the road, and with a shotgun blast as the start gun, signaled the start of the race. It is not chip timed, so time matters when you start at the back of the pack.

With fellow Marathon Maniac Jennifer H.

The first few miles are a very scenic downhill run full of hairpin turns. After 3-4 miles we turned onto a bike path that paralleled the highway the rest of the way into downtown South Lake Tahoe (SLT). The first two marathons of the triple have only 4-5 aid stations along the way, mostly unmanned, and so there are crews that the runners brings along to assist in getting hydration and fuel. After people settled into their paces a few miles in you then spent most of the day seeing the same crews repeatedly, they offered help and cheering, and were a great morale boost.

Once in SLT we turned onto highway 50 and ran along the curb, very close to traffic at times, and at others with a safe shoulder to run on.

For one section, a girl blatantly lifted her arm up as if to magically stop traffic, and ran through red lights, and green left turn signals while cars were turning!! Yikes!! I am glad I lost her when I stepped into a MacDonalds right along the course to use the restroom. A few blocks later there is a Starbucks across the road, and inspired by the Marathon Maniac Dave Mari, I ran across the street to order and drink a beverage during the middle of the race. The line was long so I phoned HH to meet me there, ordered and got my cold chai, waited for HH, chatted for a few minutes once he got there, and was back off running through town, skirting the casinos and through the half marathon finish line.
Back side of the tunnel

After leaving town, the mostly downhill and then flat course turned to large rolling hills and slowed everyone's progress, but the scenery remained gorgeous. Once we approached the tunnel, we got our own lane protected by cones, and this would continue for the last 8 or so miles. The tunnel even had a bar that cyclists could hit triggering lights and a sign that said cyclists in the tunnel. Lots and lots of cyclists everywhere in the area. All day long I saw HH 5-6 times and he had water, gatorade, and pretzels (did not have any the first day). He offered some to runners but we did not have cups, so he could only offer them to those with hand held bottles. We bought some cups later to use for day #2.

The end of the course is a 3 mile uphill with a moderate amount of elevation gain, taking you from about 6,000ft to just over 7,000ft. Most people were walking but I maintained a slow jog uphill, knowing that if stopped to walk that I would have a hard time getting going again.

Chatting with a Marathon Maniac leaving the last aid station
The last 0.2 miles of the race were flat and it was nice to stretch the legs again, although I did not push the pace too much as I had somewhat intentionally barely ran out of water and didn't need to induce the 'puke factor' at the very end, which of course means I was passed in the last 0.1 miles of the race, but it was worth it. Finish in a parking lot near Spooner Lake, NV.
Last few hundred yards, the guy that passed me is just in front of me

Finished! Day 1. 5:13ish
20 minute drive back to town, lunch at Baja Fresh near Stateline, frapp at Starbucks, then back up to the top of the Heavenly Ski Hill to shower and nap at the hotel/timeshare that we got last minute. Back down into town and dinner with Jennifer H. (the MM pictured earlier) and her friends at the Stateline Pub. Great day with great people!

Next up, Cal-Neva Marathon, Day 2 of the Tahoe Triple Marathon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fox Cities Marathon Appleton, WI 9/23/12

I ran this race last year as a Marathon Maniac reunion, and this year because I had access to a “free” hotel room. My dad was visiting this week from Seattle and was in Appleton, WI for a cribbage tourneyment, a mere 5k away from the start line at UW-Fox Cities. I worked on Saturday for 10 hours and then made the 2 hour drive up from Milwaukee and checked in. Early bed time for a 5 am alarm, with the race starting at 7am. We found a Starbucks open early on Sunday am and took the long way to the start line with plenty of time to spare without having to stand out in the 38 degree cold weather. In 2 months 38 degrees will no longer feels cold but right now in transition into fall, everyone looked freezing, particularly the spectators.
The race started on time at 7am and we were off. The had 2 corrals A, B, C and it helped to organize the different running paces. This race is a point to point and there are random pockets of spectators in the neighborhoods cheering. A few interesting signs “Worst Parade Ever,” “Motivational Sign,” and “If this were easy your husband would do it.” I wore capris, tshirt, and gloves and was at a perfect temperature. By the end of my run at 11am, temps were in the upper 50’s.
I had no race goal but had to think about time a little as my dad was out cheering and needed rough estimates for spectating sites. I started out and found myself at 9 min/mile and ended up staying at that pace the entire morning. I did slow down slightly to use the portapotty once and when I started geting moderately severe right knee pain. It turns out my sciatic nerve on the right side was being pinched and the pain would go away completely if I picked up my knees a little, it was very weird but I was grateful for the pain relief.
I finished in 4:02:44 and was surprised and pleased with my time. Space blankets, finsher medal and shirt, and the usual after race fruits, bagels and water. Bummer for them though to have run out of chocolate milk so early on in the race, usually that happens close to the surge of runners finishing at the 4:30 mark. I suspect having the half marathon runners finish before the marathoners had a part in that. Boo.
A short walk to the car, late checkout at the hotel and we were on our way on the 2 hour drive back to Milwaukee.This was a well run race, great aid stations with a few of them being themed (cowboy at one, hippy at the other).
Repeat state. #44 marathon or longer.
Next up, Tahoe Triple Marathon Sept 28, 29, 30!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Flatlanders 6/12 Hour Race Fenton, MO State #29

I got an email from a fellow Marathon Maniac that she had noticed that I needed Missouri in my 50 states quest, and that there was one labor day weekend near St Louis. Great! I sent off my entry that same day.

We made a quick trip of the race, driving down on Saturday, the day before the race from Wisconsin in a rental car to get better gas mileage. Arriving to what we thought was a few minutes before packet pick up closed, but they were actually open for 1 more hour. Drove to the hotel about 6 minutes away, checked in, and hung out in the A/C waiting to get hungry due to stopping for lunch at subway at 1pm. Dinner at Olive Garden for the all you can eat pasta bowl, but we both ended up just eating one "bowl" each. We did splurge on pumpkin cheesecake and shared it between the two of us. After dinner, back to get organized for the next day.

Up at 5:30a to enjoy the continental breakfast that was already set out (yay for Holiday Inn Express again!). The race started at 7:30a, and we were there by 7a to get our drop bags under the tent near the start. However, we were two of only a half dozen that did this as most people had their own setup with chairs, blankets, umbrellas, etc. set up along the start/finish area. It was warm and very muggy at the start and never changed much other than about a 40 minute time span of rain a few hours into the run. Unfortunately, several people did not anticipate rain and had all their stuff laid out for easy access.

The race was a 1.4 mile loop in Fenton Park that you run repeatedly for 6 hours. There is one aid station at the start/finish, and one tiny hill that over time gets "bigger" and more people walk it each loop. There are several drinking fountains around the loop as well, and a bathroom with flushing toilets at the start/finish and again about half way around. I had forgotten my gels/shot blocks but this was not an issue as they had typical ultra fare at the aid station that I used as fuel instead. They also put out gu but I never took any. The loop has enough variation in each part of the loop to keep it a little interesting as you made your way around. An occasional chit chat with runners that you pass, that pass you, and that you run the same pace with for a short time passed the time as well. Most people I talked with lived in the area and were a part of the running club that put on the race, the SLUGs, St Louis Ultrarunning Group. Love the name!

Each lap your timer makes an X in your box on a big chart and tells you what lap you are on. At one point my timer told me that my nearest competitor I was about to lap. I wasn't sure what that meant in the overall standings, but it did give me some motivation as I had only been passed by a few people, and only males. I had 2 low spots when my electrolytes were off and I got a sloshy stomach, but no nausea. The first time taking electrolyte capsules helped, and the second time was after taking electrolyte capsules but then I needed to drink a little more water to dilute things.

The last 20 minutes of the race they stopped letting people do the entire loop and had set up a small 1/8 mile out/back near the start/finish line and then gave people little flags with your name and bib # on them to place in the dirt on your right when you heard the bullhorn signaling the finish. People said it looked very entertaining to see all of us stop at the same time and put our flags into the ground.

I also got to meet a few runners that I am facebook "friends" with at the race which is always nice, such a small and friendly running community! One runner we had even tracked online when he ran in Western States this year.

I usually never stick around for the awards ceremony but they did not hand out finishers medal until that time and so we did a quick change of clothes at the car and headed back to the picnic area. Finishers got a gold medal if they ran a 50k or longer, silver if you ran a marathon up to a 50k, and bronze if you ran any part of the course. I ended up 3rd overall, and second female with 25+ laps, for about 35.XX miles (I don't recall EXACTLY) and the race results are not up just yet. Afterwards we hit the road for the 6-7 hour drive back through the remnants of Hurricane Isaac again as we had on the way down. Of course stopping for a shake at Culvers for "recovery" purposes, and then a few hours later stopping at Cracker Barrel for an early dinner/late lunch.

Nice run, but I still like the cooler, lower humidity races.
State #29 complete.

My "gold" medal

Next up, the Tahoe Triple Marathon at the end of this month!