Saturday, June 26, 2010

The "Free Wheelin'" Tour Commences

First Stop:  Kicking My Own Ass

After leaving the Stanford Camp and spring behind on Friday, my mindset quickly moved from the live/work drama and the busyness of moving to preparing for the race I was registered for on Sunday.  I spent two nights in the van in Tahoe City before showing up to start line of the Burton Creek Trail Marathon early Sunday morning.  The race was part of the Big Blue Adventure Race Series that takes place in various places around Lake Tahoe throughout the summer.

The race started and finished at the Tahoe City's Highlands Community Center, home to the cross-country ski area and an awesome system of mountain biking trails.  Two laps on a 13.1 mile loop through Burton Creek State Park was the course for the marathon.  The loop consisted of a combination of gently rolling double-track and singletrack with 900 feet of elevation gain each loop.

I arrived shortly before the 9:00am start after sleeping in my van nearby in National Forest.  After some brief stretching and hula hooping to warm up the race began.  I felt great from the beginning.  I started out slow as could reminding myself that most of the others were running the shorter races...not the marathon.  Settling into a good good pace, I realized that course was as flat as the description suggested.  While some might be stoked about this, it is not to my advantage.  I believe I could compete better on steep technical climbs and especially descents.  Technical is definitely not how I would describe this course.  It was smooth as could be.

As is turns out all that early spring road running down Fallen Leaf Lake Road paid off.  I really had to motivate to get out on the road, especially in the snowy, cold weather, but I was thankful for it during the race.  It was all running.  And I felt great.

Nearing the end of the first loop I counted three people in front of me, one woman.  I grabbed a sandwich I had stashed at the turn-around and downed it while walking up the the slight hill to start the second lap.  I could not believe how good I felt as I started to run again.  Slowly, my muscles began to feel a little tired, but I think I kept a pretty steady pace.  I didn't carry a watch or know any milage along the way except for the 13.1 mile turnaround.  I tried to focus on my form and enjoy the beauty of the course.  The trial meandered through forest and open meadows full of blooming wild flowers.  The weather was perfect; not too hot and a slight breeze.

After the turn around I didn't see any other runners on the course until about five miles from the finish.  On the only steep climb of the course I caught sight of a guy about a quarter mile ahead of me.  I passed him soon after and cruised the slight downhill of the rest of the course.  I finished in 4 hours and 7 minutes putting me 6th overall, 2nd woman.  Quite happy with myself, I inhaled a burger and chicken sausage and a couple of beverages.

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