Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 Tahoe Rim Trail 50 mile race report

I came into this race with the intention to enjoy the day and get some training in for Rio Del Lago 100. Since May illness, injury and a busy life has made consistent training difficult. I wanted to know where I was as the final weeks approach the race.

The Tahoe Rim courses are TOUGH. So I spent some time researching where I thought I was fitness wise. I developed a “guess” of what I thought I could run with my current fitness and without breaking myself down. I didn’t want to have to interrupt training for RDL, but enhance it. My best guess was the 10-11hrs range with a 10:30 looking to be the best guess.

As I have for the many years I have run this event I car camped at Casa De La Remote Parking Lot. Melisa showed up like last year and after hanging out a bit we went to bed early. Unlike last year it was a lot colder, which bode well for race day.

Race morning I was surprised to see so many familiar faces running the 50K and 50 mile. Usually I don’t see too many locals at this race.  The 100 miler runners had left at 5am. I knew Jake Rydman and Tony Overbay were already on their way.

The Fleet Feet Ultra Team was representing in a BIG way with Melisa Mahon, Bill Carr, Trish Godtfredsen, Monica Moore and Brian Miller racing. In support of us were Chuck Godtfredsen and Stan Kososki.

Also racing was Andrew Schooley, Jamie Frink, Jack Meyer and Tim Twietmyer.

I have to give a big shout out to Kuni and Dasie Yamagata who came out to watch us start. They ended up crewing me all day which really made the difference in my race. The climb to access the Tunnel Creel Aid Station is not an easy hike to do.

Soon after the gun I saw the familiar face of Jenny Capel, a top female runner I had run with a bit at Way to Cool 50K. Jenny told me she was training for Leadville 100 and would not be pushing today. Since we were in a similar boat I told her I would be hanging around with her.

I stuck to my plan and hiked all the ups, which was hard to do since it’s a race, but I had a plan. The run unfolded this way all the way to Tunnel Creek. The cooler weather and wind on the ridges made me wish for my arm warmers. I kept my gloves on for the first 30 miles. My Reynard’s was in full effect thanks to the cold wind. But the cool temps helped my race so I tried not to think about my frozen corpse white hands.

Coming into Tunnel Creek I saw Kuni and Dasie. A quick in and I headed out feeling good. The Red House Loop came and went without much say other than the creeks were the deepest I’ve seen. I still don’t understand why the red House Loop is seen as so bad. The climbs to Marlette Peak and Snow Valley Peak have a lot more impact on the race. The Diamond Peak climb even more so (if your doing the 50 or 100 mile).

I returned to Tunnel Creek a bit down on calories. Dasie gave me my bottle of Spiz which quickly got me back rolling. I have gone back to this little known product to help me get more calories while running. At 517 calories a bottle and no issues drinking it, I’m going to be staying with it again.

It took a while for the Spiz to kick in, but once it did I was feeling better. This part of the course I had not seen years, I forgot how much it rolled. But like the whole course the views are second to none.

The descent to Diamond Peak Aid Station was a nice change. I’m glad I did not bomb it like I wanted to because my quads still had a lot of work to do later.

I hit Diamond Peak at about 5:30hrs. I thought I would be here anywhere from 5:40 to 6hr. The large crowd was a welcome sight. Dasie and Kuni got me set. While I got set to climb I saw J.R Ross and Stan Kososki

So I’d seen the Youtube videos for the Bull Wheel climb and heard the talk about it since they switched to this course. In person I have to say it the steepest climb I’ve ever “run”. The pitch of the grade at the top reminded me of climbing Mt. Shasta, (I’m not kidding). I think they should go back to the old course or cut out this climb. It just breaks the race up too much; the old course had a much better flow.

After topping out on the climb I felt good and got back into a good rhythm. After Tunnel Creek X3 I took some time getting to Hobart Aid Station. I was staring to reject food so it was Coke time. I did choke some gels, but I do so hate that feeling. A third bag of Spiz would have saved me here.

At Hobart I decided to check on my pace. Up to this point I was only looking at my HR and overall time. I saw that a sub 10hr was possibly, but at what cost? Soon after the food issues reminded me to calm down and follow my plan; I had running to do tomorrow and the next week. No room for a broken down body.

I hiked a lot up to Snow Valley Aid Station and really felt the altitude (9,000) once I was there. I drank about a liter of Coke at the aid station and figured I was set for the remaining miles. I know this descent well; I knew it can pull you home if you’re up for it.

Sadly I was under fueled for the seven miles and got a bonk with a side order of nausea about 4 miles out. Regardless I just took it in stride and got through it. I saw pat Mackin on the descent; he looked to be enjoying himself. I had to walk some of the flats by Spooner Lake, but man my guts were cramping.

Melisa, Dasie and Kuni were there to greet me at the finish, which was great.  A 10:15 finish and a Coke helped to wake me up.

Spooner Lake is known for having leeches; they have signs and everything for it. Regardless I have my ritual free cold/ice water soak to perform. I must say I was disappointed by Spooner Lake’s temperature for my soak. I would have to wait and drive home for a proper ice bath.

(And if you’re wondering, no I had no leeches stuck to any of my hidden parts)


My favorite gear continues to work well for me:

Salomon pack, she’s a little beat up but continues to be the best hydration pack I’ve used. Fully loaded I barely know it’s there. The snug fit continues to be really helpful on the twisty single track.

Roctane gels continue to be my favorite. I had an issue with them clogging up in my flask. I didn’t add as much water as I usually do, which might have something to do with it. Dasie Yamagata pointed out that it might have been the cold, something to watch for next season.

Nike Trail Pegasus 27, no complaints during the race, rugged and cushioned. I did notice recently that I like them more after they have about 60+ miles on them. Before that they are really stiff.

Spiz drink mix, 517 calories or more depending on how many scoops. Carbs, Fat and Protein in a bottle what more could an ultra runner want. Why did I stop using this stuff?