Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kokanee Salmon Trail Run

Last weekend I dragged my tired self out of bed on Sunday morning to join friends in a romp through the snow at the Kokanee Salmon Trail Run in South Lake Tahoe. It was my third weekend in a row racing in this part of Tahoe, and the weather, among other things, held this day in stark contrast to the previous two weekends.

Sarah was in from out of town acclimatizing before the B
iz Johnson Marathon, and Turi and Amber arrived at my house early Sunday morning to pick us up. It turned out to be a good thing we left so early, as we drove toward the race into an ever-increasing blizzard. Turi was our brave captain, creeping around the hairpin turns near Emerald Bay in near white-out conditions. I think he gets the "clutch performance of the day" award for his awesome driving skills!

By the time we arrived at check-in, about four or five inches of snow coated the ground, but it had mercifully stopped falling from the sky. We joined fellow runners Chris and Dave (rounding out the full compliment of Reno's "Team Library Dork") and Abby (Carson branch of TLD) in pinning on numbers and jumping around trying to stay warm.

Sarah signed up for the 10K since she would be racing at Biz in a week's time, and Dave was returning from injury, so he opted for the 5K. The rest of us gathered for the half-marathon distance. I wasn't feeling incredibly spry, and I was kind of glad for the snow. (It made things a bit adventurous, and distracted me from the fact that I still felt like crap. My previous day's trail run, a planned 18-miler, had turned into 13 very slow and painful miles. I was still sick and apparently unrecovered from the Tahoe Marathon.)

Runner Check-in

Amber, Abby and me

L to R - Me, Dave, Turi, Amber, Chris, Abby and Sarah, with Chris's daughter Hannah in front

I had time to socialize and say hi to good friends Jamie and Shana from Kings Beach before the half marathon runners gathered at the starting line.

Jamie, Shana, Alden and little-baby-soon-to-be at the start

Dave Cotter gives the race instructions.

Chris prepares to take it out for the win.

Amber and me

Amber and Turi

The first two miles were on paved road, but with the snow and ice I was still glad I was wearing trail shoes.

We headed out a paved road for what turned out to be an incredibly beautiful day on a fairly mellow course. Sarah joined us for the beginning of the half-marathon as a warm-up for her 10K.

As planned, I kept the pace easy and took plenty of time for photos. The course soon headed off the pavement and onto some snowy singletrack. The technical aspects of staying upright on a snow-slick trail were pretty fun, especially since I wasn't trying to go super fast. I can imagine that would have led to disaster.

The trail meandered around Fallen Leaf Lake, and the scenery with the fresh snowfall was unbelievable! In spite of my easy pace, I felt pretty tired, but I was so glad I was out running through this stunning beauty.

I had to pause what seemed like every 100 yards to blow the excess of snot from my nose. I'm so sorry to anyone who was running near me! It must have been gross. It certainly was annoying from my perspective. I pretty much left a slick of mucus down the entire course. Sorry folks!

We ran through the burn area from 2007's Angora Fire. The forest of blackened trunks was actually quite beautiful under a snowy coat.

I crossed the line with more of a sense of relief than accomplishment. I was totally glad I had done the race, because I knew I would never have run that far on my own, and I needed the miles. It was also a much-needed injection of enthusiasm from friends and from the season's first snow.

We cheered the finishers and waited around for the awards ceremony, exchanging stories of the day's race. Sarah had been stalked by a man who reeked of tequila during the 10K. He had apparently been having a grand time the day before at Oktoberfest, which was taking place across the street at Camp Richardson. His primary goal for the 10K, it seemed, was to get Sarah to join him at that afternoon's continuation of Oktoberfest. Sometimes the presence of these kind of men in a race are good motivation for running faster. (Especially when they reek of tequila.)

Dave takes third in his age-group in the 5K

Prizes turned out to be a bottle of wine and a Kokanee Salmon ornament. I thought this was brilliant, and lamented that it simply wasn't a day on which I was going to win one.

I'm pretty sure paper Gatorade cups are the preferred glass for Charles Shaw.

However, we had to wait around in the cold for a while to get the final results, so the brilliant race directors busted out a few bottles of Two-Buck Chuck and started passing them around with some Gatorade cups. That definitely kept us happy, and even a bit warmer.

Finally the results were in. Sarah took third in her age group in the 10K, Dave took third in his age group in the 5K, and Chris won the overall in the Half-Marathon. Nice job, everyone!

We decided to end the day with beers and lunch at The Brewery in South Lake. The skies opened up, and once again we were driving through a blizzard. People were everywhere, celebrating at the outdoor Oktoberfest. I was quite impressed with their refusal to give up the party. They were drinking, dancing, eating ice cream and riding bikes, all while completely covered in snow. I suggested they had the right idea, but Sarah forbid us to join them for fear of running into Tequila Guy. As it was, The Brewery was warmer and had real food.

Thanks to the Reno kids for inviting me on this awesome day! You guys rock! Also, thanks to Dave Cotter for putting on the best races in Tahoe - rain, snow or shine (and for knowing when to pass out the wine).

Complete results available here.

More race reports:



  1. Do you run with camera in hand, and snap as you go, or do you actually pause for pictures? 'Cause these are beautiful! I'm so happy you decided to come with us even though you left a nice shiny trail for me to follow. :) I had a great time- it was nice to get a chance to hang out after the race for some good food and catch-up chatter. Thanks Gretchen!

  2. Wow, that scenery is sooo pretty! Sounds like a great time too.

  3. wow...what a beautiful race! It looked like a chilly but wonderful day on the trails :)

  4. Man, you've got me itching to find winter races here in the PNW.

    And now, thanks to your photos, I must visit Tahoe and the surrounding areas.

  5. AAGH! Snow?! Time for me to avoid the mountains again. Seems kind of early this year, doesn't it?

  6. Amber - I usually have my camera in the pocket of my water bottle, and take it out when I want to take a photo. Sometimes I just snap, but those mostly turn out blurry. If I really want the picture, I stop. This can be rather annoying to the runners right behind me.
    Thanks again for the great day!

    Russ - Come visit!

    Donald - What? Barefoot runners don't like the snow?
    It's not really early. That snow has already melted, and we usually get a few smaller storms like this before the real snow hits. It's not time to bust out the skis quite yet.

  7. 3 weekends of racing in a row and "apparently unrecovered from the Tahoe Marathon". Hm, I wonder why? I kinda wish the snow would have been there for the marathon - Tahoe is so pretty with snow! Although that post-race soak wouldn't have happened.

  8. Sean, you're crazy! I'm so glad it was NOT snowy for the marathon.
    And, yeah, I think maybe the successive weekends of hard running are catching up with me. This past weekend's long run wasn't what it should have been either. I think I'm starting my taper early!

  9. Wow! Tahoe looks awesome !

    Wanted to drop you a line about a running app I developed called Cadence.

    It matches music from your iPhone or Touch music library to the speed you are running at. Helps you keep the pace. Its nice to hear music all at the same beat while you run,no speeding up and slowing down.
    I also have a program that works on your Mac with your itunes library and then you can use any ipod device you have.

    thanks, great pics!

  10. Snow already! You are right though, it is beautiful especially with the blackened trunks, quite a contrast. Tequila guy sounds like quite the hasher, drink-run-drink. Well no wonder you haven't been feeling quite so stellar in your runs lately, still recovering from the Tahoe Marathon. Well I hope you have some time to taper before the big 50. Tahoe, so beautiful with or without snow. It's my mom's favorite place.

  11. thanks Gretchen for letting me tag along for such an awesome day! I had a great time running in the snow and meeting all your friends. What a perfect start to my fabulous week in Tahoe!

  12. Sarah- It was great to have you, and congrats on your race at Bizz. Look out, Boston!!