September turned out to be a month of spending a week in each of my two favorite running spots. I played in the Tetons the first week of September, and then enjoyed another week of fun in Tahoe the last week of the month! My Tahoe trip was just supposed to be a weekend trip to run the Lake Tahoe Marathon, but it turned into one of the best running weeks of my life!
This being my 9th year of running an event at the Lake Tahoe Marathon, I have come to really enjoy my yearly vacation there in late September. It's always so beautiful - and this year, even more so! The temps were in the mid-80s from Thursday - Monday; perfect for laying on the beach and jetskiing in Incline Village with Thomas and family, but perhaps a bit warm for the marathon.
After 5 years of running the Tahoe Triple and 3 years of running the Tahoe 72 (make that 2, since last year was a dnf), I decided to run the signature event this year, just the regular marathon. I had wanted to run it for quite a few years, but those other races kept getting in my way. So this was my year for the single and I really wanted a sub-2:50, hopefully close to 2:45 if things went well.
Things went hot. After a 2 minute detour at 1.5 miles into the race, I found myself in the lead. I ran with Tripler Lynyrd Skynrod for a couple miles, then opened up a bit of a gap until mile 9. That's when Lynyrd's surge had brought him back up to me, but he was breathing hard. I just cruised along with him through mile 11, then in the 12th mile, there's a good uphill. I knew it and that's where I planned to put a little hurt on Lynyrd. By the top of the hill, only my friend Prudence was with me. She had volunteered to come out on her bike and ride with me from 10 until the end. Thomas was waiting for us at the top of the hill in his car and told me that no one was in sight.
As I cruised along the next few flat miles, getting ready for the crux of the course from miles 15-20, I noticed that my time was a bit slower than I hoped. I hit mile 15 and began the long 2-mile climb up past DL Bliss State Park. It's definitely a heckuva climb. At the top still in the lead, but now way off my sub-2:50 goal, I decided to stop worrying about my time and just go for the W. I was pretty tired so it took me a few minutes to get into a rythm for the 2-mile descent down to Vikingsholm parking area. My quads were hurting, so I wasn't able to fly, but got to the bottom and looked forward to the final climb up to Inspiration Point. With some welcome encouragement from Prudence and Thomas, and an increasingly bloating stomach, I crested the hill and found out I had a 4 1/2 minute lead with 10k to go. Unless some catastrophe happened, I now knew I was going to win. Whether that was good or not, I don't know.
The first mile down is steep and this didn't sit well for my aforementioned bloated stomach. Precisely at the 21 mile mark, a lot of vomit exited my mouth. I don't think I really felt better, but my tummy was a bit smaller. A minuted later I came to an aid station of high school girls who were all screaming my name! Bryon had run back from the finish, waited there for me, and got the girls to make-believe they were my fans. That was cool.
With Bryon joining the entourage, I felt a bit like a celebrity with body guards all around me. I tried to enjoy my the company of my 3 friends, but my tummy just wasn't right. A few more pukes later and we were on the bike path for the final 3 rolling miles. Those 3 miles seemed to take forever, but eventually we ran through Camp Richardson and into the home stretch to Pope Beach.
I was excited to win the 2009 Lake Tahoe Marathon. At 2:58:02, definitely not my finest marathoning hour, but I was happy. I became the first person to win the Tahoe Triple, Tahoe 72, and Lake Tahoe Marathon. I thought that was pretty cool. And to make it an ultrarunner and past Triple Champion sweep, my friend Gretchen Brugman won the girl's race!
Thanks to Les for organizing a fun-filled weekend of events. And a huge thanks to Prudence, Thomas, and Bryon for helping me along my route. I appreciate each of you very much.