Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I heard so many wonderful things about this race. The beauty, the runnable yet challenging course and the great support. The fact that it was a USA Track and Field Championship was a bonus. I was excited but extremely nervous to run at altitude. Yes, I am on the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team so you would think I would have no worries, but the mountains I run on in Washington State don't seem to go much higher then around 5500 feet. To run an entire 100 mile race between 7000 and 9700 feet would be pushing my limits. Things have been busy for me this year with nursing school, kids activities, running and life. The week I went to Tahoe I was in clinicals Wednesday and Thursday, left the hospital Thursday night to go to the school and take an exam I would be missing Monday, came home and packed, got up at 4am Friday to meet Annie at the airport, flew to Tahoe, did the race check in, and then got up at 3am to run Saturday morning. I finished around 8am on Sunday so yessireee...I am tired!
Annie Theissen and I met at Chuckanut 3 years ago. I immediately liked her outgoing go-get-em personality. Over the years we would visit at races and then this year I was talking to her after Chuckanut 50k and asked her if she wanted to pace me at Tahoe. She agreed! We talked on the plane the whole way to Tahoe reminding each other we would have to save some things to talk about during our run through the night.
When we got to Reno the temperature was 105. It was supposed to be that way all weekend. I think I had myself so freaked out about the altitude that the heat was not that big of a bother to me. We had a great time picking up race numbers and going to the pre-race meeting. We then had lunch with teammate Jim Skaggs and his crew of friends and then we ate dinner with fellow runner and pacer Rich and Linda. My tank was full for the weekend ahead.
5am Saturday morning I was off. It was already warm out and I felt comfortable in a sleeveless shirt. I was covered in sunscreen and wore my trusted First Endurance visor to keep that sun off my face. The sun had not come up yet but I decided to follow the crowd and not bother taking the headlamp. I knew it would be light soon enough. The group of 100 mile runners started with about 112 people and we started spreading out as we headed up past Marlett Lake ( 3 miles in). I was thinking this could be a fast course and I needed to be careful reminding myself I had a long way to go and the importance of taking it easy. The terrain was loose sand and scattered rocks (perfect for a good ol' Monica fall, which only happened once thank you very much). At mile 11 we hit the Tunnel Creek aid station and refueled for the "taste of Hell" portion of the race. This was a steep downhill that seemed to get hotter with every step. Then we had to climb back up to Tunnel Creek and get weighed for the first time. I was a bit nervous about my weight because of the heat and climb but when I got on the scale I had actually gained a couple pounds. I figured I was doing well on hydration. We then headed out to Mt. Rose which was a beautiful single track then backtracked to Tunnel Creek. We were now 35 miles in and I was starting to feel bloated. I was good about eating and drinking but I had not been able to pee. Sure enough, I gained another couple pounds. I was not held at the aid station but I was told to start taking in more salt and less water. I tried this as I made the climb to Hobart (mile 40), Snow Valley, and down to the start/finish (mile 50). By this aid station I was ready to have Annie with me. I had been taking it nice and slow (11.5 hours for the first 50) and was ready for some company. My stomach was giving me a hard time and for the first time ever I felt like throwing up. I just wanted to get rid of all that water, nuun, macca, electrolyte drink. I was starting to feel like I did at CCC last summer and I did not want to eat anything. Annie had set my watch to beep every half hour to remind me to eat and it was really starting to make me mad. The second loop was the same as the first only much slower and a bit more painful! Everything looks different in the dark and Annie and I even took a wrong turn during that second loop. We only went off track about a mile but that can be pretty frustrating when it is taking almost an hour just to go 3 miles! The great thing about this kind of course is you get to see the runners ahead and behind you on the out and backs. It was a lot of fun cheering for people along the way. Since this was a USA Track and Field Championship there were all sorts of rules regarding our safety runners. They had to stay back 10 meters at all times except in the aid stations. They had to enter and leave the aid stations with their runners. Annie had fractured her metatarsal a few miles into her run with me but I was unaware of this because she did not want to leave me without a pacer. That tough cookie ran the whole 50 miles on that foot and did not even tell me until the finish. I hope she heals quickly. What a selfless woman.
We came through the finish in 27 hours flat. I ended up 4th girl, 20th overall. Almost 50% of the field dropped. The heat, climbing, and elevation really got to everyone. The beauty and wonderful volunteers will keep everyone coming back for more. I am lovin my new buckle and may even go buy a pair of Wranglers!!