Yesterday marked the first day of our vacation. Every year we head to Tahoe for a week. This year Vans learned that there was going to be a trail race at Emerald Bay on the day we head up. I should mention that we don't normally depart for our vacations in Tahoe until late morning or mid-afternoon and we do not normally go via Emerald Bay. However, when you present a Trailmomma with a trail race especially one that coincides with vacation . . . I am going to sign up no matter what. That is exactly what I did which meant that yesterday morning we had to have our car packed and loaded (for a week's vacation) by 5 am and was on the road by 6 am . . . with a two year old in tow. It was not easy. I was up at 5 am scurrying around the house loading the car, packing road snacks for the Peanut and simultaneously thinking about how to fuel for my race which started at 9 am.
In all honesty, we were on the road driving by 6:30 . .. Peanut was in good spirits albeit a bit confused and Vans was groggy but coherent enough to strap our bikes and bike trailer onto the car correctly. Since this was "my fault" I offerred to drive us the 2 hours to the race. I wore my awesome (and life saving) ZOOT compression socks on the drive up. I think I might wear those before a race now all the time. My legs felt amazing getting out of the car. I normally only wear them for post race recovery, not anymore.
Just to warn you, there will be a lot of photos with this blog. The race was only 7.5 miles but whenever Vans comes along . . .he's my personal photographer and his photos sometimes are too amazing to leave out.
We arrived at Eagle Point camp ground close to 8:30 as I still needed to pick up my registration and bib. Eagle Point was the starting location. This was going to be a point to point race so keep that in mind if you ever choose to do it in the future. They provide shuttles however which is a nice touch. The camping season is over so the camp ground was essentially closed and therefore all bathrooms were empty and accessible for the runners. There were only 80 registered runners though so it was not overly crowded either. After checking in and getting your race schwagg bag . . . I was ready to run.
Big Blue Adventure has some awesome sponsors including MERRELL, SALOMON, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (ahem), Hammer Nutrition and Technu! The goodies included a really nice tech shirt, a cool mesh bag, samples of Technu, a water bottle, a few Hammer gels and sunglasses straps. The race director and Big Blue Adventure owner was chatting me up before the race as he noticed my Way Too Cool 50K arm sleeves. I think next year's races for Big Blue might include some arm sleeves as he thought that was a pretty good race gift. I agreed.
On to the race. The start involves walking .5 mile down a paved road to the bottom of the campground. The views of Lake Tahoe were outstanding. It was crisp outside but not overly cold. My arm sleeves proved to be too much later in the race. At the bottom of this hill we learned that we would be running right back up the same hill to a single track and then remaining on single track the rest of the way. The start was very "informal" as it was literally just the race director saying "stand behind this tree" and then we counted down and were off. The start was very reminiscent of the Way Too Cool 50K start where we run up hill for a mile only this was just a .5 mile. Right before we were told to go . . . the rains came. As we were ascending the hill the soft light rain drops started to get a little stronger and then out of no where they stopped. I looked to my right towards the lake and saw this:
I even turned to the girl running beside me and say "hey look at that!" She might have been a local as she didn't seem as overlly impresed as I did. When I reached the top where the single track starts I saw Team Trailmomma!
Peanut was practicing her trail running skills
Nothing gets in her way
Here I come . . . bringing the rain with me!
There I go . . . let the games begin!
The trail was absolutely gorgeous. Lake Tahoe remains on your right and at times, you are super close to the water's edge. The trail meanders around Emerald Bay and then eventually up the Rubicon Trail to D.L. Bliss camp ground and ends right at Lester Beach. Breath taking.
I was just motoring along at a pretty decent pace (for me). A few people passed me on the paved uphill section because the altitude hit me hard although I never stopped to walk. I could see which runners were "local" because most had some form of Tahoe race shirt on. Running the flat paved bike trails of Sacramento in preparation for this race was mistake number one. Mistake number two? Not fueling. At all. Yup, this dumbass got up at 5 am and made sure the car was loaded, kid was fed, husband was fed but failed to feed herself OR drink much water. I had a cup of coffee while loading the car. Stupid Trailmomma. I also had disposed of the Gu that was stashed in my water bottle from a previous run. So the lack of fuel before the race, combined with getting up early and also eating a poor dinner the night before, hit me like a ton of bricks at about mile 5. I had made it more than half way (thank goodness) but the trail itself was not exactly flat.
The initial sections were downhill and not very technical at all. A few times we had to scale over some giant fallen trees and cross a few bridges. When you hit the area by Emerald Bay you start climbing stairs. Yes. Stairs. Up hill and not exactly even. At one point I did stop to walk up the stairs and I wasn't alone. The descent on the other side were also stairs making it hard to get great footing but believe me when I say it was so beautiful that you really don't care. It was also here that I notice my heart rate was averaging 175 beats per minute. I normally average 155 on most runs . . . yeah, my heart was pounding, my lungs were burning and my legs felt like rubber all of a sudden. They had an aid station at mile 3 with water and heed but no Gus and why would they? It was only a 7.5 mile race and most smart people know to fuel before a race. I was bonking and fast. I channeled Beth from Shut Up and Run and just kept telling myself . . . "shut up and run. stop complaining" and it worked. One foot in front of the other. At one point I realized I had a rogue SCap in my water bottle and I took it just because I prayed that it would help me. It brought me back to life a little bit but it also caused the most massive side ache/cramp I have ever had! I have not had a side cramp since I was in the 8th grade doing the Presidential Fitness Tests. I just had to laugh at myself. What a mess I was and yet I knew I had a smile on my face. I love trail running.
At some point you hit D.L. Bliss camp ground which is where my friends and family had camped just a few weeks earlier. The trail dumps you out onto a parking lot and winds you back onto a trail for a brief portion before you hit the stairs (again) and descend down right onto Lester Beach. I will let the photos speak for themselves. Gorgeous (have I used that word enough today?).
Emerald Bay. Wow.
Headed to the finish line!
Down the stairs . . .
Onto the beach to the finish!
It looks like I was first . . . or last.
The Peanut spies her mommy!
Here I come mommy!
The best prize ever!
After the hugging I joined the rest of the runners and made my way into the lake for a natural ice bath.
The best recovery ever.
My mommy is in the lake!
The festivities on the beach post race were awesome. They had food and beer and electrolyte beverages. Some of their sponsors like Merrell were there with a tent doing raffles. After talking to the rep for a bit, I walked away with a free Merrell shirt. Nice considering I didn't win any of the raffles nor did I place in my age group therefore not getting any other freebies.
For those interested (ahem, Coach Nikon, Captain Kirk and Wonder Woman) the first place prize for the first runner in was a season ski pass to Northstar at Tahoe! That's a minimum $300! The winner was a guy in his mid thirties who ran the 7.5 mile race (although my Garmin reigstered only 6.9) in about 43 minutes. Second place was a $110 Merrell gift card. Pretty sweet prizes for such a low key 80 person race.
Overall I would absolutely do this race again next year especially if it falls within our week here in Tahoe. Of course I would prepare much better . . . as in actually fuel and maybe run up a hill or two the week before but regardless, this race was awesome.
Vans, the Peanut and I hung out on the beach for quite a while enjoying the scene. The Peanut built sand castles, we got drizzled on a little bit but nothing too bad and the winds kicked up occasionally but still, it made for an exciting afternoon.
I am not that sore today. The legs are definitely a bit stiff but 15 minutes on the elliptical helped. Vans is out mountain biking and the Peanut and I will probably head out for a hike or walk around the village. She loved every minute of the race yesterday and even asked me if I wanted a Gu . . . post race. Better late than never.
Blogger is being diffult and preveting me from uploading any more photos . . . maybe I surpassed my limit with the 5592972 I posted in this race report . . . for a 7.5 mile race. Oops. Thanks Vans for all the photography shots!