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.
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