Saturday, August 27, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

This week I had some vacation time and no race on the schedule so I went to one of my favorite places, Lake Tahoe. When I lived in Salt Lake City I went out there several times during the year, but I haven't been out there since I moved to Georgia about five years ago. Also, the last time I was there, I wasn't a trail or ultra runner and since I'm thinking about maybe throwing my hat in the Western States lottery ring, I thought I should try some higher altitude running and see how my lungs handle the lack of oxygen.

I got to Lake Tahoe late on the first day and it was getting dark, so my first run was on the hotel treadmill. Not too bad, I took it easy and ran three miles about 30-60 seconds slower than my normal pace.

The next day I headed out to the Spooner Summit trailhead of the Tahoe Rim Trail. It was only a 12 mile drive from the hotel. When I got there a cross-country team was just finishing up their training run and they all had smiles on their faces. I decided to take the trail north and immediately the trail started climbing.

The trail is very runnable and could be run in road shoes. There were a couple of places where I could see glimpses of Lake Tahoe. The altitude didn't bother me too much, but I was slower than I am at sea level. I was only out there for about two hours because all I had with me was a 20-oz handheld. Next time I do this, I'm packing my hydration vest because I would have loved to have been out there a lot longer.

After I finished I joked with my online running buddy that I hadn't been eaten by any bears or mountain lions. Little did I know how that would affect me the next day.

The next morning while getting ready for my run I read this race report. Then on the way to the trailhead, I saw this sign that I hadn't noticed the day before.

This day I ran the Tahoe Rim Trail from the same trailhead, but this time I headed south.

The initial climb was much steeper for the first mile, but then it undulated with rolling ups and downs. The views on this portion of trail were much more spectacular. Unfortunately I opted to bring a 12-oz plastic water bottle instead of my camera so I didn't get any photos, but I was able to stay out there longer. About two miles into the run I saw some tracks. My wildlife track identification skills aren't very good, so it was either a very large dog or a mountain lion. Needless to say, I kept my eyes on the surrounding terrain for any signs of carnivorous wildlife. Even with that, I still had a huge grin on my face the entire time. I swear that alpine pines give off some kind of mood-altering chemicals. Most of the time I like running, but during these two runs I LOVED running.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hot 2 Trot Race Report

You know you are in for a hot day when you are sweating and the race hasn't even started yet.

The Hot 2 Trot is held at one of my favorite places to run, Sweetwater Creek State Park. The course consisted of 1.18 mile loops which included single track, jeep trail, a little bit of paved road, a lot of flat, some downhill, and a walking hill that the front runners ran. There were a few roots, but it was very runnable and trail shoes weren't a requirement. There was one aid station at the start/finish area that had everything you might need, including lots of ice.

The heat wasn't too bad at the beginning, there was some cloud cover and even a misting of light rain, but that just meant that the humidity was at 100%. It is definitely humid when your glasses fog up and the temperature is 80 degrees. I was making good time the first 3-4 hours and was realistically expecting to cover at least a 50K. There was one unexpected surprise at about the one hour mark. Jason was ahead of me on the hill when suddenly he stopped and yelled in pain. There was a yellow jacket nest near the trail and apparently they weren't happy with all the runners running through their neighborhood. I made it through this lap unscathed, but the next time up the hill I got zapped. I'd never been stung by a yellow jacket before. OMG they hurt! By the next lap RD Sarah and her sidekick were out there with some kind of bug bomb. Sarah made me RUN up the walking hill, though, so they could get some space between runners while they sprayed. I was afraid that the killer yellow jackets would just get pissed off, but I was unmolested for the next seven hours.

I stopped once to use the restroom (they had a port-pottie, but if you walked 5 yards off the course there was a restroom with flush toilets!) and once to change socks and shoes. At about the four hour mark the heat started getting to me and I slowed way down. At this point I knew I wouldn't be getting a 50K, but I kept on moving and wound up with 24 laps which is just over 28 miles.

After the race we had burgers and veggie-burgers and the awards were handed out. It was fun catching up with and congratulating everyone on their great efforts. There were some speedy folks out there. I really enjoy myself at GUTS events because I knew just about everyone who lapped me as well as all the volunteers.

Thanks Sarah and your crew, I had a fantastic time!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Getting My Act Together - Week 1

Just a quick note on my progress. Getting my act together has three parts:

1. Lose 10 pounds. This first week I lost 2.4 pounds, 7.6 to go.

2. Run 50 miles a week. I ran 54.6 miles.

3. Speed work once a week. I ran 12 x 1/4 mile intervals on the treadmill.

So far, so good :)

I may have a bit of a set back this week when I go to Vegas. We'll see.