Sunday, September 26, 2010
Lake Tahoe Marathon
Marathon #4 is in the books! I had to pull out all the stops to finish this race. Lake Tahoe kicked my Endorphin butt. I had to deal with altitude sickness and "The Hill From Hell" and at times, I seriously considered the DNF. However, I kept plugging along and finished this grueling marathon in 8:53:47. Not bad, considering that I walked the final nine miles!
It was a beautiful morning in Tahoe City. I got up at 5am and didn't freeze! I had my long sleeve tech shirt underneath my Marathon Maniacs shirt, but I removed it because it was so nice out. When I arrived at the start line, I was greeted by two of my favorite marathoners, Yolanda and MG. You may recall, these two helped me get across that Extraterrestrial Highway finish line. Just when I thought I was going to lose it at mile 25, these two came back out to walk me back to the finish. Guardian Angels, I'm telling ya!
For the first mile, I walked with Christine Clark, one of Endorphin Dude's honorary "Moving Molecules". Christine attempted to complete the full marathon, but by mile 12 or so, she cramped up so bad that she couldn't move anymore. She ended up pulling out at the halfway mark, which was the smart thing to do. Christine could have put herself in serious danger climbing "The Hill From Hell". I had a rough time with it, and I am not asthmatic like she is. I'm glad she listened to her body. The awesome news is that Christine did finish the half marathon, and Lake Tahoe was #6 for her! Congratulations Christine!
The first half of this marathon was a lot of fun for me. I loved running along the lake and soaking in the scenery. Every so often, I would stop at the aid stations and schmooze with the volunteers. It's really funny to me when I see people do a double take when I run by. It must be the cape! I was cruising along the first 15 miles, chilling out and having a good time. Then I saw the sign: "6300' Welcome Hill From Hell." Really Tahoe?
Of course, the race directors taunted us further with the following signs:
It was awful. But I kept plugging along and eventually I made it to heaven. Ah, heaven. Unfortunately, it didn't feel too much like heaven because the altitude got to me, and I started to feel a little light headed. Nonetheless, I kept plugging along.
At about mile 17, I had to pull over. I sat on a tree stump rested for a bit when I heard my name. I turned around and saw Marathon Mitch, a fellow maniac! Marathon Mitch said he spotted the cape and had to stop to say hello. I had never meet this guy in person yet, so this was perfect timing!
Unfortunately, after Marathon Mitch and I greeted each other and took our picture, the altitude really got to me, and I had to let it all out. I spread endorphins all over Lake Tahoe! Unfortunately, those endorphins came in the form of GU, Cytomax, and other various aid station snacks that I shoved down my throat. My body was not liking the altitude. The embarrassing thing is that I really didn't have any privacy. But marathoners understand, so I received a lot of support from the runners. One lady even stopped and gave me ginger to calm my stomach. Of course, I had to take a picture with her. Thanks random lady!
After my little episode on that tree stump, I had to listen to my body and stop running. I knew that if I continued to do so, I would put my health in serious danger. I seriously considered the DNF, but after a few deliberations in my head, I decided to just walk it off and take it easy. I strolled along and took pictures of the lake.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake to eating some candy at the aid station near Emerald Bay, and as a result, I had to pull over again to release some endorphins. So much for keep Tahoe blue! The scary thing is that I did so on the section of the road where there was no shoulder. I felt like I was hurling over a cliff.
After I finished my business, I used my Endorphin Dude head band to clean myself up. I know that was probably too much information, but I'm stating this because it's relevant. When all was said and done, I put the head band back on upside down! That's how out of it I was. I looked like a sad little super hero.
By mile 20, I knew that I just had to stay focused and keep plugging long. I only had a little 10k left! So I kept inching along. By this time, the road was reopened for oncoming traffic. I made sure that drivers saw me as I walked on the side of the road. Mentally, I started to crumble, and physically, my body was shot. What saved me was seeing fellow Marathon Maniac, Xtreme Mike, at mile 23, a random geisha at mile 24, and the family who walked a bit with me towards the finish line. These people got my mind off my pain and helped push me along.
By the time I reached mile 26, I collected the little energy I had left to jog to that finish line. I couldn't believe I did it. Lake Tahoe was by far the most difficult race to date, and it took me nearly 9 hours to complete it, but I did. What got me to that finish line was not my legs. It wasn't even my mind. My heart got me there. I never gave up. And now I have a shiny piece of hardware in the shape of Lake Tahoe hanging around my neck.
Giving up is not an option for me. I knew I was in trouble, but I listened to body and and made intelligent decisions. I don't care that it took me an eternity to get there. The important thing is that I got there, and I did so safely. I am very proud.