Thursday, June 24, 2010
Never trust Google maps completely. That is the lesson of this race. Also, cross check information. I should have looked at the race website for directions, but since this race director has not always gotten all of the information correct in the past, I went with Google thinking that a state park should be easy pickins’ for the Archiver of the Known Universe. Not quite. FInally locating said state park on the state website after the race, the first sentence was “Lake Tahoe’s hidden state park.” No doubt. I could not find this state park with Goolge’s directions. I finally resorted to driving aimlessly around Tahoe City until I found a lot of parked cars and what looked like runners. When I saw a race number, I knew I was in the right place, but it was not the state park. Instead it was the Nordic ski center where I learned how to ski as a little kid many years ago. Turns out that the Nordic center use the “trails”of the state park in the winter and maintain them. The rest of the year you’re on your own. They are not really marked due to unrseolved access issues.
Fortunately, due to other race morning issues, I left with plenty of time, and while I did not have enough time for a proper warmup for a short course race, I still had plenty of time to check in, get my number, drop the swag bag in the car and take a few deep breaths. The course, as advertised, was fairly flat, no huge climbs like I get in the Santa Cruz mountains or Marin. It was rolling single and double track. But the altitude made these “rolling” climbs much harder. The real challenge on this two lap circuit was a narrow, rocky single track climb. Visually, it was not at all steep, but the narrow twisting trail, generously littered with large rocks, forced you to run sideways as much as forward. A smooth and consistent cadence was impossible, and my heart rate showed it. On the first lap I passed some people, including a woman that I ended running with for most of the race, since she passed me back on the climb on lap 2. I didn’t want to pass her again, but as the course flattened out and became smooth double track, I recovered and picked up my pace, while she didn’t. I had also been passed by some kid who never gapped me either. He would periodically look back. Yeah, I’m still here, you haven’t dropped me yet. I recovered, but they never sped up! I was in a quandary, do I have enough power for another move? When do I go? The finish was tricky with really unstable deep wood chips that were like running in sand. As we headed downhill into the finish, I was right on their heels, yet still they wouldn’t accelerate! I looked to make a move, then the kid who led our little group flinched a little, holding his side. His form looked a little shaky earlier, but now I knew, he was hurting, so I went as hard as I could. I kicked with what I had, determined to hold out to the finish, which I did. I came in just under an hour, having gapped my group by eight and thirteen seconds respectively. A beautiful day, a beautiful race. Summering in Tahoe is divine!