Tahoe Rim Trail

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tahoe Rim Trail Race

By Peter Fain

Yesterday I toed the line at the Tahoe Rim trail 50 mile race.  I had a nice rest week and I felt ready to race, so I wasthere confident that I could sustain a strong pace throughout. The only worry I constantly carry is properly fueling.

6am the director yells go and I’m off with my usual overly excited too fast start. But by mile 5 I was feeling light refreshed and ready for the day… and holding my projected pace. I head into red house loop still feeling good. By the final ½ mile up Jon Olsen, who’s running the 50km catches up to me a slowly passes me. It’s all good he should be passing me. That’s right about when I reach the Tunnel Creek interchange and run into Thomass Reiss. He tells me I’m ahead of his course record pace. That was a boost of confidence but not a goal at that moment.

Once on the 6 mile stretch before heading down to Diamond Peak I can’t seem to find a good gear that gets me going. And then when I start the downhill I struggle with the same lack of a gear to go faster. I know I can it just won’t come. 

            At Diamond Peak my friends Paul and Betsy are there with my drop bag. I switch out my bottles drink some smoothie mix and eat half a sandwich and begin the brutal climb up Diamond Peak. Towards the top I run into Thomass again. We talk a bit, he offers some encouragement and then I’m back on the TRT.

            Everything is just slow and steady at this point. I’m focusing heavily on keeping myself hydrated and taking in little bits of GU. And then I pass through Tunnel creek without incident. I begin the slow climb to the Hobart aid station.  Once I cross Marlette Peak look down at Marlette Lake and dream of jumping in. That’s weird because I never have the urge to go jump in a lake. That was my first sign that things weren’t going right anymore.

            The Ensure smoothie was refreshing at the Hobart aid station. I really wanted to grab a seat and enjoy another but I trekked on. Two miles from Snow Valley Peak, I felt the wheels just come of the carriage. Suddenly every step was laborious and difficult. It kind of snuck up on me. I tried listening to Paul’s words of advice when it comes to long runs. The low point will pass, just keep moving. But this isn’t a hundred and I only have 8-9 miles to go. I don’t have time to get through it.

            The long quad busting downhill offers no sympathy. I try to recall workouts where I glide down this trail effortlessly but no positive mental imagery is making the downward spiral any less dizzying. Still I not so gracefully continue to pass 50km runners as they too approach the finish.  

            With about 4 miles to go, a runner comes up behind me and eases past. He’s wearing a blue number. I just lost the lead. I try to answer the challenge but had nothing to give.  I hold on to second place, or like my wife likes to say “first place loser”, and nearly collapse in to the medics tent.

            Two IV bags of saline, 6 dixie cups of water and one trip to the urinal and they let me leave. That was 90 minutes give or take. I run in to other friends finishing, Ron Gutierrez, I run into Victor Ballesteros who just dropped from the hundred (he told a story eerily similar to mine) and Thomass waiting to congratulate me or see if his record is secure for another year, and yes it is.  It was a nice post-race. The staging area had been changed from previous years and was far

 more interactive for all involved.

            Coming back from an injury never happens as fast as one would like. I was really lucky, I had no knee pain and minimal swelling after the race. A day later is another story. Along with the dysfunctional quads, the knee is quite swollen and sore.  Tomorrow I try something new, Gel injections in to my knee. Let’s see if that offers some repris to the swelling.

            All in  all a good day. Every race offers some lessons of improvement and at age 40 I need all the lessons I can get. Next up, Ashland Hill climb… and then Wasatch? I may want to rethink.

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