|Lining up on Commons Beach for the start.|
The decision to run the Lake Tahoe Marathon was not as easy
as one might think. After all, it’s local, it’s beautiful, and it’s only a
marathon for goodness sake!
I put my name down for it in August to give me a little
motivation and something to look forward to. It worked for a little while, and
my running picked back up a bit. But then school started, and everything fell
off the menu but the weekend long run.
Long, meandering days through the mountains, thick with wildflowers even
in September, streams running high, a little mud but no more snow. Wonderful!
Just not really the best training for a road marathon.
After winning several races in 2009, including this one, it
hasn’t escaped my attention that I’d yet to return to any of them. I was
absolutely intimidated about showing up as a “former winner,” and doing so in
less than top form wasn’t terribly enticing.
So, I could either let my
pride get in the way and skip the race, or I could just show up, not worry
about it, and have fun. I have to admit, I’ve missed racing, and even though I
felt sheepish about my lack of training, I was looking forward to the event. I
love races for the exciting atmosphere and camaraderie of other runners. And in this case, it's pretty tough to beat the setting.
|RD Les Wright introduces Sean as a previous (4 time??) winner. 3 seconds after this shot Sean dragged me up there to get the same treatment.|
|Look! We're totally matching with our Montrail apparel and orange colors! Do you think Sean knew he had that tag sticking up out of his visor all day?|
I received all kinds of words of support heading into the
race, which was nice, except that I felt the need to explain to everyone that I
would be slow. Without exception, they all called me a sandbagger. Yeah, well.
I guess I deserve that. Anyway, my predicted finish time for myself was 4
hours. Decidedly slower than my 3:34 from two years ago, but still faster than
my other 3 races here.
I greeted friends on the start, and I actually had to smile
and wave to the crowd when Les, the RD, pulled me up front and introduced me as
a past winner of both the marathon and the Triple. Oh God! Fortunately, Sean
was there to share some of the spotlight.
|Turi is totally ready to rock!|
checked in with Turi to see how his ankle was doing. This was his goal race for
the year, and I knew he’d been training hard. A recent injury had sidelined him
for the past two weeks, but I had my fingers crossed that it merely meant he’d
gotten in a solid taper.
|And we're off!|
We headed off from Commons Beach in Tahoe City to the west
shore of Lake Tahoe. The course follows the shoreline of the lake most of the
time, and the views are constant. I spent a lot of time taking pictures this
year. It was a great way to enjoy my surroundings and not think about trying to
I shared a few early miles with my friend,
Helen. We talked running websites until she finally decided she needed to slow
down. I applaud her wise pacing! She went on to hit her goal time perfectly, by
|Helen - blurry but having fun! When I accused her of being geared up like an ultrarunner with her Nathan pack, she owned up to bringing guns to a knife fight. Ultrarunners like to be prepared for anything!|
I ran for a while with Crystal from San Diego. When I came
up next to her, she said, “Oh, you’re the past winner!”
“Yeah,” I admitted ruefully. It did turn out to be a good
foray into conversation though, and I really enjoyed chatting and running with
her for a while.
|The girl on the left in the pink is Crystal from SD.|
|Views like this are consistent through the first half of the race.|
|This woman on the left ended up passing me on the big hill which was kind of a bummer since I consider myself a hill climber. Not so much today.|
|Little known superhero Endorphine Dude! Powering through day 3 of the triple!|
|These signs always crack me up. Just in case you weren't sure if it was scenic - the government has now declared it to be so!|
|Cloudy skies made for perfect temperatures all day.|
|Hippies at Meeks Bay pass out water.|
|Peace, love and glittery hair.|
I did a relatively decent job of pacing myself I think,
running about 9-minute miles early on, picking it up a bit in the middle, and
then slowing it down again on the hills. I didn’t feel nearly as strong on the
hills as I would have liked, and the downhills just killed me. The descents on
this course are really the hardest part. They’re steep, and they come late in
the race – one at mile 19, and a good, long one around miles 21 and 22. I was
simply incapable of pushing the pace on them this year.
|Starting the downhill into Emerald Bay.|
|Looking across Emerald Bay at the hill we would soon be climbing.|
|Standard view of Emerald Bay with Fanette Island and Lake Tahoe.|
|I love running down the spine of this ridge with lake views on three sides.|
|Superhero aid station!|
|Pretty sure they were handing out super powers in those cups.|
I did feel good about rallying to an 8:40 pace on the last
three, flat miles of the race. Without fail, these are always the hardest miles
of this race for me, no matter what my pace has been. This year was quite
possibly the best I have ever felt here in the last three miles. Of course,
that’s not saying much, but I’ll take it!
The best part about the finish is its location on a sandy
beach. I walked into the clear lake water and gave my legs a good, cold soak
while inhaling the surrounding beauty.
I spent time hanging with friends on the beach,
including Helen and Sean, who both had strong races. Turi smashed his PR by I
forget how many minutes, posting a 3:41, and we definitely celebrated that one.
|Turi and I sport our sexy "Top 25" finisher's windshirts.|
I recently had a conversation with my friend Charlie while
trying to choose a spring marathon to run together. She declared a marathon to
be on the list of things she was still too scared not to train for. Apparently
that doesn’t hold true for me, which is not at all a sign of my toughness, but
rather an indication of her superior intelligence.
In the end though, it was another treasured day in this
beautiful place I call home. I’d tell anyone else that 3:56 is something to
feel proud of on this course, so I guess I have to believe it for myself, too.
I won’t lie: I worked hard to squeak out that sub-4. I might have wondered why
I should bother pushing for a time when I knew I’d be so far off my course PR,
but I know myself better than that. Once I hear that gun go off, it's tough not to go for it. And it’s been so long since I’ve pushed
myself in any arena. It felt good. Really, really good.
|Post-race soaking grounds.|
Thanks to Les and his team for another beautiful year at the lake!
Awesome day out there, Gretchen - great to see you! Beautiful pictures, as always...ReplyDelete
Yay! Poor Sean and the tag on his visor...ReplyDelete
Another great write up and photo tour. Nice work putting that course PR aside and just enjoying the experience. You certainly don't have anything to prove. Cheers.ReplyDelete
Turi - Thanks, and congrats again! Hey, notice how I didn't post any phonos of your butt? I'll have to run faster next time so I can take care of that problem.ReplyDelete
Meghan - And I promise I didn't notice it until I saw this photo or I would have said something to him! :) Fun day!
Hank - Thanks! Funny how sometimes it's hard to let go of your own sense of expectations. I'm definitely glad I didn't skip this one!
Hi Gretchen - I really enjoyed this report and pics. I can relate to the reluctance to do a race you've won and/or PR'ed in the past. You captured the ambivalence and self-doubt of lining up at the start and trying to lower others' expectations of how you'll do -- but then in the end pushing it and making it all worthwhile. Nice job!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Sarah. Maybe the secret to lowering others' expectations is just to run slower like this? I'm going to test this theory out.ReplyDelete
What a way to spend the day! And I hear you on the gun goes off - it may not be the best time in general, but the best one I have for today! Beautiful scenic route too!ReplyDelete