Monday, October 5, 2009

Kokanee Salmon Trail Runs

TLD before
1/2 marathon start
Dave low-fiving near the end of the 5k
mile 13 of the half

TLD after
support crew
getting...sleepy...(the pavement was warmer than anything else if you found a dry spot)
wine and a fake salmon - beat that!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to South Lake Tahoe with Team Library Dork (and a few others) for the 20th Annual Kokanee Trail Runs. For the past couple editions, they've offered a 5k, 10k, and half marathon. It had been my intention to run the half, but I'd begun to waffle over the last few days, since I got sick the night after the last race and haven't totally recovered yet. Sunday's forcast was beggining to call for snow well below lake-level, and sure enough, as Abby, Hannah, Dave & I drove through Carson, we could see Mt Rose had a fresh coat, and there was even a touch through Washoe Valley, at 5000 feet! Oh well. Snow running is actually quite fun, but due to my condition, this particular day I would have welcomed 50 & sunny. We met Amber, Turi, Gretchen, Abby II, & Sarah (TLD Carson) at about 8:15. I bit the bullet and signed up for the half for two reasons...1) a 13.1 mile training run is better than 3.1 or 6.2, and 2) It was 29 degrees and trying to snow, and I really didn't want to wait an extra hour in the cold and then attemp to run fast (the half started at 9, the 5k/10k @10). I chose to forgo the warm-up completely, opting to ease into the run over the first mile or two, figuring nobody was going to be going to fast, between the elevation, rocky trail (which was covered in fresh powder) and hills. I was half right. Nobody started too fast. As we climbed up a gradual incline for the first mile and a half, I settled into second place, but was having a little trouble with my breathing. It was cold, but this suprised me a bit this early in a race, and going at a pace that more resembled a training run. As we hit the trail at 1.55 miles, I was still hanging onto the leader, but was passed by old buddy and Odyssey teammate Ross McMahon. 9 minutes later I was passed again, struggling to maintain contact with the lead pack. Luckily for me, though, nobody was breaking away. The runner who took lead the first mile swapped the lead with Ross a couple times, and just when one guy would put a few yards on the other, they'd get reeled right back in. Meanwhile, 19 minutes in, I'm now sitting 4th. All three of these guys are taking turns with the lead, but nobody is pulling away, yet. I'm struggling to hold onto the back of this pack, never moving up from 4th, but not losing contact either. For the first 5 miles, our group is pulling slowly away from the rest of the field, but we're only a few seconds apart from each other at any given time. Even during the early struggles of this race, it was hard not to notice the scenery, running along the shore of Fallen Leaf, and around Tahoe Mountain.
At mile 5, the runner who'd started 4th had taken the lead and began to push the pace. He finally broke from the group and would put 20-30 seconds (per mile) on us between miles 5 & 7. About 5.25 in, there was a long, hard climb, and I took advantage to move back into second place, with first continuing to pull nearly out of sight. This was the first time since the start I'd been able to respond at all in a positive way, so I was quite happy with it, & surprised my first move came on the biggest hill on the course. By mile 7 I was starting to feel better, and once or twice through the trees, I was able to get a glimpse of the leader. The next two miles were rolling hills, and a couple mellow declines, and I was able to push the pace much more than I'd done before. From 7-8, I was able to cut the lead in half, and surprised myself by doing the same in the 9th mile, and was running side by side with the leader about a minute or two before the nine-mile mark (only 3-4 miles after barely holding onto the back of the pack). Just goes to show no matter how much you're struggling, to keep your head in it, and see what might happen. Between mile 9 & mile 12 I ran either directly behind the leader (he knew the course far better than me, and there were a few suspect turns) or ventured briefly into to front for short lived leads. Each time I'd start to build a lead, I'd lose the trail (3 times to be exact - stopping dead twice to wait and get going the right way). So, the race really started anew just before mile 12, but as I'd been running comfortably, especially compared to the first few miles, I was confident I'd have a kick, as long as the side-cramps that have only been absent in one of my six races after taking half the summer off, stayed away for the remainder. They did, and once I knew where I was going, I was able to finish strong, speeding up considerably, especially during the last half mile downhill (road) section, and came in 35-55 seconds ahead of 2nd, in 1:34. official results yet. There was some sort of computer issue, so the results weren't in 'til about 2 1/2 hours after I crossed the line, and as of now are not posted yet. I found Dave, who had run the 5k at 10:00, and we were able to see Turi, Gretchen, and Amber finish the half (after a chili dog of course). Gretchen was coming off a win at the Lake Tahoe Marathon last weekend, so this was a "recovery" run for much recovery as a trail run at 6500 feet and a few inches of snow can provide.
After they got the results ironed out, we skiped the planned outdoor Oktoberfest at Camp Richardson due to the cold, and instead went to the Brewery at Lake Tahoe. I distinctly remember Sean, Rocky, & Hayes thoroughly enjoying their pizza after the Tahoe Realy in June, so the 8 of us had 2 giant Pizzas (one greek & one Thai chicken) that could rival just about any Reno has to offer. Throw in a couple beers, and some artichoke dip, and it was quite a tasty lunch. I gotta say, through, if anyone's's October and there's several inches of snow on the ground. Time to ditch your spring/summer seasonal for the cold weather ones, no?!
Up next is Bizz Johnson, which I think will be my 6th race in the last 6-7 weeks, trying to race my way back into shape. So far so good, but I'm leaning towards the 5k in that one. I'd love to do the marathon, but I'm not even close to ready (just a handful of runs over 10 miles this year) and I did the half last year. Too bad there are no breweries in Susanville, though...


Peter Lubbers said...

Awesome Chris. I suppose those first miles would have felt better if you had actually warmed up...

And what happened? No hot wings at the brewery?

Gretchen said...

Nice job, speedster! It was awesome hanging with you guys and being an honorary member of TLD for the day. I find a porter and a snow storm to be a great post-race recovery plan. The wine in the paper cup didn't hurt either. I went home and totally crashed out at 5:00!
Good luck at Bizz, at whatever distance! (I love the race-my-way-into-shape training plan, too.)

SnowLeopard said...

It was good to "get the band together again," as Turi said. :) I've missed running with you guys this summer, but I look forward to more this season- what's your next race after Biz? I'd like to do the Meridan Run for Education on the 18th, and bring the boys along for another (appropriately placed) medal under their belts... Ha!

slowrunner77 said...

the pizza is waaaaaaaay better than their wings!