Thomas Reiss - TRT 100 4 Weeks to Go

Monday, June 20, 2011

"A Glimpse of Heaven a Taste of Hell"

By Thomas Reiss

Less than 4 weeks left to the start of the 2011 Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run. I put in all the needed training (averaging 100+ mile weeks) for the last 11 weeks with one more week left of training and then a 3 week taper.

I will go up to Tahoe this week with hopefully the chance of running the full course over 2 days (snow conditions permitting) for the last week of a 12 week training cycle.

This is my highlight race of 2011, I put all my eggs in one basket - TRT100. I have been training harder then ever before with my lifetime highest mileage week of 139 miles and my goals are set pretty high:

Breaking 24 is a must, but my goal is really to win the Masters division and take the course record (currently at 20:46:50). If things go well I would like to break 20 hours. I think physically I am in shape to go sub 20 but we will see how the snow conditions are, plus as always a lot can happen in 100 miles. I feel at home on the course having won the 50 miler twice and holding the course record (7:52:09), that sure gives me a lot of confidence. My crew (Larisa, fresh of a great finish at SD100) and pacers (Brett and Victor) are all set. My wife and kids are excited and everyone is looking forward to race day. A bunch of our San Luis Obispo Trail Runners Club Members are racing as well. It should be a great weekend.

As I count down the weeks I will be posting my old race reports from my 2 previous 50 mile wins below. I hope you enjoy reading those.

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Tahoe Rimtrail 50mile 2007

This event is run in some of the high elevation alpine and sub-alpine regions of the magnificent Sierra Nevada Mountains. The race starts at 6AM just at the break of dawn. It begins and ends at the Spooner Lake State Park, which is at 7,000 feet (2100m). The highest point of the course is just below the 9,214 foot (2800m) Snow Valley Peak (which also provides one of the best views on the course). The low point on both courses is at the bottom of the "infamous" Red House Loop (A Taste of Hell) at approximately 6800 feet (2070m).

My goal was to start out conservative and that's just what I did. I was in about 4th place climbing up the first 4 miles of single trail with an elevation gain of approximately 1,500 feet (500m). This was followed by a half mile downhill section to Marlette Lake. At this point I was in 2nd place in the race. From Marlette Lake (7823 feet,2400m) I had to climb on dirt roads to the Hobart Road aid station at 8120 feet (2500m). I was about an hour into the race and hoping to start to feel better. I never felt really good from the start. It was kind a strange, the whole race I never felt good or really bad. Just somewhere in the middle. Anyway after leaving the Hobart Road aid station I climbed up and past Marlette Peak and Harlan Peak before descending to the aid station at Tunnel Creek Road near the junction of the Tahoe Rim Trail at Twin Lakes. Time to fill up my handheld bottle again. (I ran with a hydration backpack and one handheld bottle). This took a little longer than planned since the guy in the aid station had a hard time opening my plastic bag with my Succeed Ultra powder to mix with water. Through this I got passed by Devon Crosby-Helms, one of the up and coming female ultra runners and one of the best in the country right now.

Now it was time to descend into the "infamous" Red House Loop, a approximate 6.3-mile loop to Red House and back with a huge unrunable sandy (like the beach) climb near the end of the loop. I ran downhill like a mad man and caught up to Devon at the bottom of the loop. After running together and chatting for a few minutes the climb out of Red House started and Devon was falling behind me. So I was back in 2nd place.

Upon returning to the Tunnel Creek aid station and refilling my bottle I was off to the approximately 9-miles north along single track on an out-and-back section of the Tahoe Rim Trail to the Mount Rose Trail Head near Ophir Creek. At about a couple miles into this section I came up to the leader and he was turning around hiking back to the aid station to drop out. After a short "Hello and are you ok" I went on, being now the leader of the race. This out-and-back was mostly rolling with breath-taking views of both Lake Tahoe and the Washoe Valley. The average elevation was between 8000 (2400m) and 8500 feet (2600m). It had some hard climbs and descends and after about 8 miles I came out of the woods onto the Tahoe Meadows at Mount Rose, this felt good since I knew my crew (Valerie, Opa, Dylan and Therese) would be at the next aid station. I ran passed Dylan giving him a high five and continued through the meadow up to the aid station to meet Valerie and Opa and get my Hydration pack refilled, a new shirt, some extra GU's a quick chat and back onto the course. A 3 minute stop, I came into the aid at mile 26 (42km/marathon) in 4 hours and 14 minutes. That was a little bit faster then I had planned. I still never started feeling comfortable and felt since mile 20 like I had to throw up. I consumed about 25ounces of Succeed Ultra and Amino per hour plus one GU and one S-Cap an hour so I did not think that I was dehydrated, but I just could not get rid off the feeling that I had to throw up.

So off I was again hitting the trails going back - 24 miles to go. The next stop was the Tunnel Creek aid station again at mile 35. From here the course followed the Tahoe Rim Trail south towards the Spooner Summit trailhead passing both Marlette Peak and Snow Valley Peak (and visiting both the Hobart Road and Snow Valley Peak aid stations). At about mile 38 on my way to the Hobart aid station just as I climbed up Marlette Peak it happened and I throw up twice, after that I felt actually a lot better. I had no idea how far or close 2nd place was behind me but I kept telling myself as long as I keep running uphill instead of walking and keep the pace high on the downhill I should be able to keep the lead to the finish.

It was a brutal climb up to Snow Valley, the highest point of the course. Climbing about 1300feet (400m) over 2.8 mile distance after mile 40 (64km) in the course and all that in altitude. I was really beat up and just kept reminding myself of my last training run where I ran up Prefumo Canyon at the end of a 42 mile run at home about 5 weeks ago. I knew from the top of Snow Valley Peak it is a 5 mile descend and 2 more flat miles to the finish.

I hit the Snow Valley aid station in 7 hours and 14 minutes, I had hoped before the race to be there in 7.15 (to have a finish time of 8.18), so I knew I was on course for a pretty good time. I started to fly downhill through some fast sections and some tricky rocky very technical sections. It seemed to take for ever to get down that mountain, but then finally here it was - the Spooner Summit trailhead aid station - 1.7 miles to go and no one anywhere near me. This was the first time I really relaxed. I started to feel very happy because I knew I win the race, the time will be fast and I was within 13 minutes of being done. I jogged this part the day before the race and knew that's what it would take me. A few turns around Spooner Lake, over a little bridge, one more little 30 feet uphill and here I was on the fire road with 200 meters to go to the finish. I kicked it up a notch and finished strong in 8 hours 10 minutes and 8 seconds, only 3 minutes and 18 seconds of the course record and the second fastest time ever in this race.

I was very happy to be done and got to sit down. Wow, I am now officially the "Road Runners Club of America - Nevada 50 Mile Trail Running Champion" - pretty cool. 2nd place was the winner of the last 2 years Jeff Kozak in 8.38 and 3rd place was Devon in 8.41 as the first women.

I am glad I made it through and proud of the fact I never gave up even with not feeling all that good most of the race.

Thanks for every ones support e-mails before and congrats e-mails after the race, I could not do this without all the support of my family and friends.

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