The slogan for this race is "A Glimpse of Heaven .... A Taste of Hell" and even though I have never run this course (yet) ... every runner, no matter the distance, has said that slogan is pretty darn accurate.
Years past, Pigeon has run the 50K. This year she set her sights high and trained like a machine and wanted to do the 50 Miler. Originally I was going to pace her the last 25 miles but due to my ankle and my inferior athletic ability right now, she decided (and I agreed) that Coach Nikon was probably her best and ideal pacing partner.
She did however, ask me to crew her and I of course said yes! Instead of car camping with her, due to child care issues, I decided to drive up Saturday morning, the day of the race. I woke up at 3 am and left my house at 4 am to meet Coach Nikon where we would car pool to the Tunnel Creek Aid Station (11 miles into the race).
The race started at 6 am and we knew there was no way we were getting to the start. So we drove up highway 80 talking most of the way despite our lack of caffeine. Once we hit Truckee, I needed to use a bathroom and Coach Nikon needed an espresso and fast.
We hit the Safeway in town and walked in like we owned the joint ... at about 5:30 am .... we split up to do our necessary duties and I think we both realized the same exact thing at about the same time. On my way out of the bathroom (which is in the belly of the store) ... I caught Coach Nikon's eye across a few aisles and he mouthed "I think they are closed!" Yup, sure enough the whole store was closed (workers were furiously stocking shelves, no one saying a word). The doors had opened for us and we just went walking all around not realizing we were not supposed to be in there. It was pretty funny. We found a Starbucks that WAS open got our drinks and headed for the Tunnel Creek Aid Station.
We parked our car and started the 3.5 ish mile climb to the Tunnel Creek Aid Station. Hiking and talking the whole way. Now, Coach Nikon just ran 100 Miles at Western States a few weeks ago ... so it was pretty embarrassing that I was sucking wind just HIKING up this hill while he was just breathing like it was no big deal. That man is in some serious shape. Me? Not so much.
We did however stop to take a few photos for Pigeon ...
Long live the JC Penny Pose!
The hike to Tunnel Creek is a good climb and has the most beautiful views. Once we reached the top however, Coach Nikon was Mr. Popular. He knows everyone in the Ultra Running Community it seems.
It was fun being at Tunnel Creek because you get to see the runners at least twice if you stay there long enough for them to come back up from the Red House Loop. We really enjoyed helping everyone that was coming through. The day was getting hotter by the minute.
Soon Pigeon came through. She was very quiet which made Coach Nikon and I pause for a moment because she was not telling us how she was feeling but she looked pretty darn good.
Trying to get some clue as to what she needs
Taking the rocks out of her shoes
Pouring some cold water on her to cool her down
After Tunnel Creek, Coach Nikon and I hiked back down to the car and drove over to Diamond Peak where we would see Pigeon and friends again (those doing the 50 or 100 mile races only).
Of course like goof, I left my camera in the car and so I have no photos of Diamond Peak which is sad because a lot happened there. It is the half way point for the 50 Milers and the day was H.O.T. There were quite a few runners who dropped due to heat and elevation and others who were seriously struggling.
What I failed to get a photo of is the massive climb that Pigeon (and other runners) had to do in order to get out of Diamond Peak. If you have ever been to Diamond Peak to ski or snowboard, just picture trying to hike UP one of the biggest ski runs there. You can bend down and touch the dirt in front of you as you climb without bending at the waist. It is THAT steep.
It was here that Coach Nikon left me to pace Pigeon the last 25 miles of the race. Once they were on their way I bummed around Incline for a bit before trying to get a spot down at Spooner Lake where she would finish about 5 hours later.
Coach Nikon brought her back to life on the trail and she actually came strolling into the finish earlier that originally expected and looking strong!
Finishing 50 miles!!!
12 hours 23 minutes and still smiling!
Way to go Pigeon! She rocked and I am sure she will have a race report up very soon! As for me, just like I do every time I go and watch this race, I come home and tell Vans how bad I really want to try and to the 50K next year ... and maybe it will happen. I told him I want him there though to support and be part of my crew.
My Jersey family is out for a visit now so I'll be off having more adventures!