Monday, June 14, 2010

TRT training run

Coming along in July is the Tahoe Rim Trail ultra 50K, 50 miles, etc etc.  While I am not participating in the race (I'm definitely not yet ready for these distances, plus it's on a working weekend anyhow), I tagged along for what was billed as a 20 mile training run.  I thought it would be good to get out there on these take-no-prisoners trails, especially if someone was going to be feeding me snacks at reasonable intervals.  The entrance fee was only $10, and what with all the aid stations, plus BBQ and beer directly afterwards, PLUS more of an introduction to the whole Ultrarunning thing, and I was all over it.

Though not without a little trepidation.  Mind you, I have barely run at all since May's marathon, a few short club races, that 20 mile Bishop run, the one mile run, and maybe once or twice I dragged myself out there for a slog around the trails.  So I figured 20 miles might be do-able, but given this past month and a half of sporadic running, I was a little skeptical of the distance.  The longest run I've had since Bishop, back in the middle of May, has been about 6.5 miles.  So 20 miles?  Um, sure, why not!

I got out of my car at the starting venue, and was again reminded of what Tahoe is capable of on an early June morning . . . it was fucking cold!  All of the runners in the parking lot looked at each other and smiled, grumbled and shivered.  

At the pre-run briefing, we all discovered that plans had changed.  Given the fact that the snowpack was 10-15' deep over much of the planned course, the run was modified to an 11-mile loop instead.  Even that came with lots of scary warnings from the Race Director  about A LOT of snow still remaining over perhaps 50-60% of the course, to the tune of "Bring your yaktrax and trekking poles if you have them (not me!) and make sure you all buddy up, and remember you're all ultrarunners (Um, yeah, definitely not me - yet!) so you don't have anything to prove, turn around if it gets rough" etc etc etc.  The use of the words "snow ice path cliff" all in the same sentence was more than enough for me, so I opted for yet another offered route (which is not part of the official race route, but what do I care?) which was promised to be mostly snow free.  This route was a 6 mile loop, and already I knew this was going to be much better for my underused legs than the 20 miles I had singed up for.

Again, this ultrarunning stuff is so, so low-key.  The race director finishes with the Q&A session, and without fanfare everyone just kind of wanders off.  It takes me a minute or two to realize, Oh!  They've started!  I whip off my jacket and follow the 50 or so runners up the ski run to the top of Diamond Peak. Just about everyone is walking (walking! I am so simpatico with this crowd!) up the steep, steep path.  I follow!  Everyone looks at little askance at my outfit, shorts and tank and nothing else while everyone else is in tights and jackets and gloves and things, but with 2 minutes I am comfortable and running/walking at my optimal temperature.  I am beginning to think I'm a bit of a freak with my cold weather tolerance (only when I'm actually running, though -- I'm the first one to add layers when just hanging in the cold, or even mild, weather).

It looks flat enough here, but it soon got very steep, hence the walking.  Here's the elevation profile for the whole run (I did not fall off a cliff at mile 4; instead, I forgot to turn Gary back on for a while):

At the top of the climb (rather, where I turned off for the snow-free pleasure path) I turned around and snapped this.  It was way steeper than it appears, but Lake Tahoe in the background is really this blue:

From this point on, the trail (the upper, less-famous part of the Flume, for anyone local) is blissful single-track running, and is better recapped with photos.

There were a couple of bits of the trail covered in snow . . . 

. . . but most of it looked like this:

With a number of these:

(I partially fell into this one, natch)

And lots of views of this:

An anonymous shot of me:

And quite a technical descent, of which I managed to run 98%, and no falls!:

I looped back around to the starting aid station, had a bite to eat (I'm liking the oranges and Oreo combination) and decided I'd head out for another loop, which I did.  I finished the whole run, which in actuality was about 12 miles, in about three hours (and 2 pathside poops, for those who wanna know).  It felt great to get out there again, and I do believe my little spring running hiatus is over, as I'm beginning to feel that inner need to run that's been lacking lately.  After the run was over, the organizers laid out an awesome lunch of burgers and snacks and beer and soda.  All this for 10 bucks!  If anyone asks me a year or so from now why in the hell I ever took up ultrarunning, my answer will be It's all for the food, man, all for the food.

I followed the morning up with a visit to the Beer Festival happening downtown.  Now, I am NOT a beer drinker in any way, shape or form, but the alcohol stars must have been in alignment for me because I proceeded to drink more beer in 3 hours than I have in the past . . . lifetime?  Possibly!

This was followed by a new little social adventure.  A week or two I left a comment on fellow Truckee-ite (Truckian? Trucker?) and accomplished ultrarunner Gretchen's blog Daily Adventures, and lo and behold with just this one comment as an introduction, she drops me an email inviting me over for a BBQ with some other runners on this night.  So Tom and I head on over there and have a great time talking to her and the other runners.  This is my first bloggy runner get-together and I had a blast (and was so relieved that I was NOT the one to clog the toilet!).  Go on over and check out her blog, she's a helluva runner, writer and picture taker . . . and a great hostess, too!

Yesterday I did another 4 miler, and have the TRC miler coming up tomorrow.  Summer begins now (despite my last post!)


Tricia said...

awesome! it looks lovely

funderson said...

nice! I'm SO glad the singletrack is starting to emerge. It does wonders for my mood. Also, I have the SAME freakish tolerance for cold when I run. My rule is to start running in whatever just barely keeps me from freezing to death and I'm good to go.

Jim Hemig said...

Nice job. Two mountain poops - you are a true ultra runner now!

Gretchen said...

Are you sure you weren't the one to clog the toilet?? I let no one off the hook until the culprit comes forth! :)

Great meeting you and glad you could make it over! Sounds like the running was good. Hopefully we'll get out on the trails up high soon if this snow ever melts!

Sarah said...

Wow...that looks like a tough run...but such gorgeous pics!!!

Michael Shane Helton said...

Nice write-up! It was nice to meet you at Gretchen's BBQ (I hope I didn't offend you with the comment about Yoga in a steamroom).

ShirleyPerly said...

Wow, why can't there be $10 runs like that in my area!!!

And glad you mentioned that Garmin issue at mile 4 as I was about to say that was helluva descent you did. Oh my, that altitude, though ... I feel light-headed just looking at it.

Meg said...

Oh wow...that's an inspiring view ^_^ I'm also suitably impressed with the distance running. Hope to make those distances some day!

Stuart said...

...just wandered off! That's priceless!

Gorgeous looking trails!