Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the tahoe rim trail run recap

I originally registered for the Tahoe Rim Trails 50 mile Run months ago, but a week before the event, I dropped my distance to the 50K (33 miles actually) option. With the uncertainty of the air quality in the Tahoe area due to the NorCal fires coupled with my PCT50's disappointing and discouraging performance and my recent calf problem. I wasn't sure if it was a great idea to attempt that distance at altitude. So how did I do?

Not so well unfortunately – 9 hours and 14 minutes to run and walk 33.25 miles (according to my Garmin). How did that happen? Well, the following might shed a light on this.

The TRT Runs consist of 33, 50 or 100 miles of trails in the high elevation alpine region of the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountain range. The event starts at its lowest point at Spooner Lake (elevation around 7000 feet) and reaches its highest point at around 9000 feet just below Snow Valley Peak before coming back down to Spooner Lake for the finish.

I was guilty of overtraining. Rest and recovery is an essential part of an endurance runner's training program. After all the insane miles and stress we put our bodies through, they need some time to recover and build up the muscles necessary for us to get stronger for our next training session.

And so I took this to heart, a bit too seriously, I'm afraid. Rest and recovery implies that there were the long, tough and arduous training runs from which my body is supposed to be "resting" and "recovering." I wasn't supposed to use R and R in lieu of actually doing training runs. What a novel concept. Hmm... if I'd thought of that sooner, I might've fared better at the TRT.

Then there was the altitude. I'll be fine, I thought. It's already Saturday, and I'd been here since Thursday night. Plus LT, Sue and I had spent some time the day before at higher altitude to acclimate. Well I WAS fine, until it hit me. Around mile 20 or so, it became harder for me to breathe and headaches came. At around mile 26, I felt myself bonking. I didn't have much of an appetite for those energy goos anymore and I might've

While I'm at it, I should throw in another excuse for my disappointing run. Did I mention my calf? Actually it wasn't bothering me the first part of the race. It was fine the first 15 miles or so, until the uphill portion of the Red House Loop. And there it was again, a twitching as if it was going to cramp, and the familiar knot that was slowly forming in there. I arrived at the Tunnel Creek aid station I massaged my calf, patched it up with some Salon Pas, and taped it. Fortunately, the calf didn't get worse, but it's condition didn't get much better.

Now don't get the wrong idea that I had a bad day. When I can go out there and complete an ultra, I don't see how it could be anything but a good day. The TRT is a beautiful run. Along the way, there are views of diminutive Spooner Lake, the reclusive Marlette Lake, and of course the grand daddy, Lake Tahoe.

The aid stations and support were first class, especially the aloha themed buffet at Tunnel Creek. Was that ultra legend Gordy Ainsleigh I saw in an aloha shirt, a lei around his neck and running shorts? It was hard to trust myself at this point. Then there's the O2 deprived Snow Valley Peak aid station whose volunteers greeted me by name as I pulled in and served me chicken noodle soup, the perfect choice for my sodium depleted self.

I enjoy meeting other runners on the trail – Dawn, a marathoner and triathlete from Florida who was running her first trail race, Bill, a 25 y.o. from Boise, Idaho whose longest run ever was 22 miles and after a sleepless night of "peer pressure" drinking with his buddies was attempting his first ultra., 33 y.o. Michael, an airman and 100-mile veteran, and Ron who joined me in loud chants of "Cold Beer!" to motivate us through the last mile and a half and onto the finish line.

Crossing the line always brings a sense of relief and accomplishment and this race was no different. The post-race burrito bar was excellent, the beer was cold, and the free four-hands massage under the pines was just divine.

I will have to come back to do this run again, if only to redeem myself and to enjoy the trails and the beauty that surround them once more.

What's next for me? I'm taking a break from running ultras, for the flat and fast Chicago Marathon in October – that's three months to train these legs for some speedy turnover. Let's see if I will put in the necessary hard work or insist on the overextended rest and recovery method once more.

Congratulations to all that ran the TRT this year. Here are some more TRT recaps:

More photos here.


LT said...

Dude, you did great! That calf sounds like it needs salt. Check out the TRT elevation profile I got from the 50 miler. Your 20 and 26 mile points match some significant points on the run. Good luck in October!

Addy said...

Congrats on finishing the 50k e-rod:) It's a toughie! Your pictures brought back some very fond memories. I'm glad that even with the hardness of the course you still had a great time out there!

e-rod said...

lt... thanks, dude. you know i was rubbing my calf with some salt, but it wasn't quite working out. ;) you did great on the trt too. 1 down and 5 to go. good luck!

addy... thanks! it was a toughie. i'd have to revise my training program next time though, and not put in too much r and r in between runs. :)

rick said...

You guys got cold beer, a burrito bar and four hands massage!?!? What the... I got a glass of water when I finished and it was empty out there.

Well congratulations on finishing despite the problems you had with the altitude and calf issues. Your photography is excellent too, some really nice and clear pictures of runners and the course. Sorry I missed you out there.

kassy said...

There's going to be a TNF run soon here in manila although I won't be able to join them YET .. someday sometime I may perhaps will :)

Thanks for dropping by my site. let me add you too? :)

e-rod said...

rick... uh-oh, was i not supposed to mention anything about any of those post-race goodies? you guys deserved those more than i did. in all seriousness, i'm amazed at how you're able to take your body that distance.

kassy...thanks for dropping by. i think the tnf is this wknd right? when's the next one? next year? then you'll be good to go for that one.

Anonymous said...

Hi e-rod. I thought I posted but it didn't go through or I hit the wrong button. Anyway, congrats on the run. Ultramarathoning is unpredictable and all of know it can be tough. Anyway, you made it.

I saw your blog entry on baldrunner's blog and had just joined the impromptu_running yahoogroup so thought I would stop by.

Please take care and good luck on the future runs. - Wayne

Anonymous said...

50M or 50K - who cares, you had a great time with all the amazing views.

Also, thanks for the invite to Tuesday's virtual run. I hope I will be able to make it if work allows me.

e-rod said...

wayne... ah, so you're another us-based HF runner. welcome to the group. have fun in sf marathon.

steph... thanks! hope you can make it. how've you been?