Monday, June 16, 2008

Lake Tahoe Relay and a trip to the DL

I ran the Lake Tahoe Relay (72.3 miles) for the first time on Saturday, June 14. The team was made up of several of the runners that had planned on running the Odyssey the week before…but we didn’t come up with the necessary 12, so we decided to run this instead. Peter Lubbers, his sons Sean & Rocky, along with their friend Hayes (all of Gold Country Grand Prix fame) came over on Friday evening for dinner and a movie, and we were off at 4:35 the next morning to meet Turi & Amber (of Washoe County Library fame) at Amber’s House at 5:00.

It was a little brisk when we got up to the "Y" at South Lake Tahoe at 6:30 in the morning, but we were ready to go. This is a popular race, obviously due to the scenery, and despite the lack of support, it usually reaches a hundred teams of 7, and is very competitive at the top. This year’s version would be won by the Chico TC team in 6:51! I’ll list our time and splits at the end.

Hayes started for us and ran stronger as he went. We noticed he wasn’t looking too good 3 miles in (his leg was 9.6), so we’d meet him every two miles with water and girly-screaming for the rest of his run. Ok, maybe it was just me with the girly screaming…I almost lost my voice by leg 5. Hayes finished the longest run of his short life and handed off to Peter, who, although he has more endurance than anyone else on our team, would be running the shortest, but hardest leg from Zephyr Cove to Spooner. He went strong up the "hill from heaven" and looked ready to run another 8 miles. He handed off to our youngest team member, Rocky (11), who’d run a rolling 10.3 miles with a fun downhill to start. We met him along the way 5 or 6 times, and he would run through some blisters, and hand of to Turi at the start of Lakeshore Dr (Incline Village). It was getting pretty warm by this point as well. I believe it reached 80 while we were out there, but due to the elevation (6200-7000 feet) it felt a little warmer in the sun. Turi ran the longest leg of the relay at 12.3 miles, in preparation for his first ultra five weeks from now at the Tahoe Rim Trail 50k. It was pretty neat to take our time and make so many stops on our way around the lake. I think I noticed a few things for the first time, and was able to enjoy places I hadn’t been in a while. Turi would hand off to Sean in Cedar Flats (NW corner of the lake), and run 10.6 miles of rolling hills. There were a few teams that we’d been leapfrogging for a while now, and it was fun to see the same runners and crews at several different points. As we were quite a ways back from the front of the pack, everyone at this stage of the race was here for to enjoy it, and we did the same.

We met up with Frank Ribeiro (of Draft Horse Classic fame), and anchor leg of the "Old Fartleks", at Homewood Ski resort, for the start of the sixth leg. My turn J. I wanted to run the "hill from hell" at tempo-run pace, just in case I end up doing the Tahoe Marathon in the fall. The hill climbs about 600 feet over less than 2 miles, and in the marathon falls between mile 15 and 17 (there is also a pretty mean hill between 19 and 20 miles). I, for unknown reasons, cramped up within a mile or two, and would struggle through the run, although the hill was actually pretty fun…beautiful views of Emerald Bay from the top! I did the math wrong in my head, so I was a little surprised when I crested the hill and ran a hundred yards downhill and handed off to Amber, who’d be running (after that first hill) a downhill/rolling 10.5 miles to the finish. We found a few nice shady places to cheer her on along the way. I’d been planning on running her leg with her, but I was feeling pretty terrible during/immediately after my own leg, so I threw in the towel and hopped in the back of the truck.

We’d finish 79th out of 104 teams, in 11:25:08. I was thinking we’d finish in the ten hour range, but a few of us ran slower than expected. Although exhausting, these relay things are fun. I hope to be able to do more in the future. We joined the Old Fartleks for pizza and well earned beer before heading back to Reno at about 9-10p.m. Here’s our splits…

Hayes 1:21:26 (9.6) 8:30 pace

Peter 1:03:01 (8.2) 7:41

Rocky 2:10:34 (10.3) 12:41

Turi 1:38:15 (12.3+) 7:50’s

Sean 2:09:56 (10.6) 12:16

Chris 1:13:05 (10.5) 6:57

Amber 1:58:43 (10.5) 11:18

In honor of baseball season, which is now in full swing, I’ll refer to my impending "break" as a trip to the DL (disabled list). Unfortunately for me, this will be my last race for a while. I’d been diagnosed with a partially torn right Achilles tendon (my "good" one) from an MRI I had done at the beginning of May. Since I’d been dealing well with pain in that area since last September, I decided to keep running on it as long as I could. However, training and racing has become increasingly difficult over the last few weeks, partially due to the Achilles, and partially due to the stomach issues I’ve been having since the end of April. They had not directly affected any races until the Odyssey last week, but it seems cramps will be my constant companion until I get that figured out and fixed. Between those two things, running has become much less enjoyable and I’ve not been able to stay motivated as training has become more difficult and my times are slowing. My plan is to wear an air-cast walking boot for 4-6 weeks. In a perfect world, that will help/fix the Achilles problem, which would also go a long way in helping the other issues I’ve had on that side…knee, hip, IT band, yada, yada, yada…

Hopefully, over that time, I will also get a handle on whatever the g.i. issues are, so when I start back up, I’ll be able to train unencumbered for once. This break will most likely take me out of contention for the overall title in the Gold Country Grand Prix (as I’ll be missing races on 7-4, 8-6, 8-13, and possibly into September), and will cause me to skip the TRT 50k and the Tahoe Marathon, which were to be my goal races for the summer and fall. Best case, I’ll be out of the boot a couple days before the TRT, and I’ll attempt to walk/jog the 50k. Wish me luck.

Despite the injuries, this was my most successful year since 2000/2001. I matched the longest win streak of my career at 7 (March-June) and won 10 of 13 overall, with 4 course records, a 3rd and 8th place in two marathons, and a 79th in the relay. I hope to resume competitive racing by the end of the year, as I’m already signed up for the XTerra World Championships in December, and be able to run a full and healthy 2009.


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