Sunday, July 18, 2010


"I ran out of Gu! I can't believe I ran out of Gu!" that is what the Pigeon said to me as she crossed the finish line of the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K (which was really 33 miles and not 31) yesterday afternoon in just over 8 hours.

Let's back up a bit shall we? My morning started with Jack the Cat having a throw up session at about 3 am. My alarm was set for 4 am and I had been tossing and turning since about midnight. Needless to say I was not a happy camper and was running on minimal sleep. I was too excited to sleep though. I, myself was not running Tahoe Rim but I was heading up there to cheer on Pigeon and Coach Nikon and I could hardly wait.

When my alarm went off I jumped out of bed (hopped over the now cleaned up cat throw up spot) and headed to get dressed. It was WARM at 4:00 am . . . not a good sign for things to come for those running the 100 miler, 50 miler or 50K up in Tahoe.

I met Captain Kirk and Wonder Woman just off highway 80 at 5:15 am and jumped into their car for our early morning drive to Tahoe. I must thank Wonder Woman for the People magazine in the back seat as I have now caught up on all the fashion trends in Hollywood!

We stopped at the Raley's in Incline Village to use the restrooms and as I was opening the restroom door coming out of the mens room and almost bumping into us was Donald from Running and Rambling! I was too much of a goober to actually stop and ask if it was indeed him and instead just gawked at him like a fool. After we did our business and were heading out the store I saw him again. I knew it just had to be him (I read his blog daily) and I really wanted to talk to him but he looked pretty busy gathering stuff for what I assumed was his pre-pacing food. I never saw him again at the race but am looking forward to hearing his pacing report.

We got back into the car and headed over near where the old Ponderosa Ranch used to be and near Tunnel Creek Road.

A fairly deserted road with a few parked cars. We were not 100% sure this is where we were supposed to go but it felt right. We hopped out of the car and put on our running shoes, grabbed some water and crossed the highway to Tunnel Creek Road.

Tunnel Creek Road starts out as a paved residential street and then hits a blockade and turns into a sandy dirt fire road/trail that goes up, up, up. No downs, just up and the occasional flat spot. Captain Kirk, Wonder Woman and I started running. Soon this would be my view for the entire climb:

Those two are power houses. They can climb/run/climb like they live in Tahoe. We were taking this route because it would meet up with the Tunnel Creek aid station which was mile 11 and mile 17 for all the runners making it an ideal location to see our friends. The climb was about 3. 5 miles, again, it was steep and up almost the entire time. The only thing making it bearable were the views:

Lake Tahoe has to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth and I had never seen it from this angle and this side of the lake before. This is also the trail that mountain bikers can take going from Spooner Lake up towards Mount Rose.

Here the group stopped to read some signs and take a breather. Little did we know the aid station would be just up the trail.

Or more accurately, just up this steep hill! You can see the tents way up there. Boy was that a sight for my sore eyes! Once we arrived though you could feel the energy of race day and despite the hot temperatures, unshaded trails, parts of me (small parts) wished I was out there running with them.

The Tunnel Creek aid station can be a bit confusing since runners are coming in and out all day long going off on different trail loops and coming back depending on what race distance they were doing. We knew the 50K runners were doing the Red House Loop which is about a 6 mile loop and then coming back to the aid station.

The first person we saw entering the aid station was Happy Chuck, a friend of Captain Kirk's & Wonder Woman's.

He has to be the happiest and funniest (minus his wife Trish) trail runner I have ever met! He and his family kept me laughing all day long.

Next up was Pigeon! Here she comes smiling all the way!

I won't go into detail too much on her race since she'll be blogging her own race report later. However, I will say she did have a rough first 10 miles and entered the Tunnel Creek aid station pretty darn happy to see us there.

We instantly became her personal Fleet Feet Fair Oaks/Roseville 3 person crew!

Sharing and smiling about her first 10 miles

Captain Kirk making her take some salt tabs

Some cantaloupe fuel 

Off she went knowing full well that in 6 miles she'd see us all again and we would repeat the personalized Pigeon aid-station routine. 

The Red House loop is known as "a taste of hell" by the race directors and runners. It is supposedly a pretty tough loop and as we sat there all day watching runners coming back from those 6 miles it was pretty evident that it might just be a real taste of hell. We saw more blood coming from the Red House Loop than any other part of the course. It was not technical (or so I have been told) but it is quite hilly and perhaps a lot tired feet missed a few rocks and roots out there and people tumbled. 

The first person we saw coming back from his 50K loop and heading back towards the finish was the always amazing and unbelievably friendly Tim Twietmeyer! 

That man is an ultra running legend and just amazingly talented. Not far behind him however was Coach Nikon!!

Here he comes walking up the hill!
(Hey Coach Nikon - Pigeon RAN up that hill!)

Coach Nikon is always smiling!

Captain Kirk helped Coach Nikon refuel

A big smile and back out on the trail

After Coach Nikon hit the trail again Captain Kirk, Wonder Woman and I waited around for Pigeon and friends to come back up from the Red House Loop. It was so neat just sitting there cheering on all the runners. Soon however, Pigeon was making her way up the hill. She was jetting like she was out for a leisurely little run and not a brutal 50K.

I grabbed her hydration vest and made my way to the aid station to refill it while Captain Kirk and Wonder Woman talked to Pigeon and assessed how she was feeling. Despite having shaky hands, she still looked really strong and she really motored through that 6 mile Red House Loop. 

Soon she was back on the trail again and about 25 minutes later Happy Chuck's wife, Trish came into the aid station. Trish was a character and she had just completed Western States just a few weeks before. Her feet had been thoroughly torn up in Western States and with wet socks on her feet during Tahoe Rim, she was having some foot issues. 

Wonder Woman the true awesome friend she is, offered up the socks on her feet. Sure enough, Trish who had quite a few more miles ahead of her, graciously accepted.

Trish taking off her wet socks ...

Wonder Woman mid-exchange

Wonder Woman sock-less

The three of us still had to run the 3.5 miles back down the Tunnel Creek hill to our car. Wonder Woman did it sock-less. She rocks. 

The way down was of course much easier than the way up. Along the way the views of the lake really made us stop and have a few photos sessions.

Breath taking

Awe the happy (and fit) couple

Back at the car we all did a quick change into cleaner less sweaty clothes and then hopped back into the car and drove the coast down to Spooner Lake so we could see Coach Nikon and Pigeon finish. Along the way we hit quite a bit of traffic and one major styrofoam cooler incident . . . some poor kids had the bottom of their cooler bust in the middle of the highway and all their Coors Lights went rolling down the hill. I wish I had taken a picture.

Once we reached Spooner Lake and parked we made our way down the trail to where the finish area was set up. As we were climbing down we hear "You're late!" Coach Nikon had already finished and we had missed him by about 5 minutes. 

Sorry Coach N we tried!!

He had a spectacular race and finished within the top 10! He looked fresh and in classic Coach Nikon style was cracking some jokes. We followed him over to the lake so he could jump in and cool off before hopping into his car to drive back to Sacramento for work reasons.

He looks like just a floating head!

And of course, the classic JC Penny pose!

The finish for the Tahoe Rim race was pretty low key. The 50K finishers were trickling in and soon some of the 50 milers were too. The 100 mile runners however had to run right through and PAST the finish area only to start their second loop on the same exact course. Talk about brutal!? 

It was getting warm while we were waiting and the sun was constantly moving all around. Eventually Happy Chuck came in too and his entire family gathered around us waiting for Trish and Pigeon to make their way to the finish.

Finally we saw Pigeon come down the trail. She looked good albeit a little tired and a lot happy to see that finish line I am sure.

Go Pigeon Go!

She crossed the line and I quickly got to her side. I could she her face and she didn't seem to register what the aid station volunteer was saying to her. I just took off her pack and helped her find something to drink and cool off with and just kept her moving. I was not sure myself what she wanted or needed but I know I can't just stop and sit after an ultra, I like to keep moving.

She did make me laugh because all she could say when she finished was "I ran out of Gu. I can't believe I ran out of Gu!" 

I am so proud of her. She just started her running career less than a year ago this October. She ran her first ever marathon in December of 2009 and quickly followed with a 50 miler and then now a 50K. She may not do things in order but she definitely finishes what she starts and rocks it every time.

I had a blast the entire day. Poor Vans had some struggles watching the Peanut for the entire day. They were both pretty exhausted when I got home. I, on the other hand, could not stop talking about what an awesome day I had being there for my friends and how cool it was being support to some people who have always supported me. Congrats Pigeon and Coach Nikon. You guys are awesome!

I also have to thank Captain Kirk and Wonder Woman for letting me tag along all day long. 

Go Team Fleet Feet Fair-Oaks/Roseville!

Of course in classic trailmomma style, I will finish with a few photos of the Peanut and her day with her dad!

First up for the Peanut and Vans was a bike ride to the levee to watch the Eppies Great Race and the kid's duathlon.

Then some driving lessons . . . 

Um, notice the shirt and shorts combination Vans picked out

Then after nap it was a new bathing suit and a trip to the pool!

Overall, I think yesterday was a great day all around. After watching Pigeon and Coach Nikon run TRT, I am getting that ultra itch again. I admit AR50 burnt me out a bit and that the recent heat wave has decreased my desire to run, but I am looking forward to seeing the old group next Saturday for a trail run. 

Congrats to all the finishes and to those who toed the line yesterday. That was one hot day to run!


  1. Thanks for your help yesterday! And yes today I still can't believe I ran out of Gu. It was great to see you at the aid station and finish and was a factor in me getting it back together. Can't wait to crew for you and can't wait to run our next ultra together. See you this week for our run!

  2. This sum's up Melissa's report to me last night with the body issues.