Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tahoe 200: Lessons Learned

Here's part 2 in my Tahoe 200 race recap series:

Lessons learned from this race, that could be applied to future long adventures . . . although let's never do another 200-mile race ever again . . .

1. Try out your shoes in advance.  I have used my size 9.5 Hoka Challenger ATRs for a long time, and I've loved them.  So a week before the race, I bought another pair (new model year), as well as a half-size bigger pair, to allow for foot swelling.  And then I wore them for the first time at the race. Hey! Stop judging me, Judgymcjudgealot!  I know how stupid that is.  Anyways, let's just call this a lesson learned, and move on.

2. Inov-8 Debris Gaiters are excellent.  Just excellent.

3. A bivy sack is a must.  I used the TACT Bivvy, $19.97.  It's like a space blanket, but in sleeping bag form.  When it was a damp 40+ degrees at night, I could crawl inside it and get a refreshing 10-minute nap without freezing.  Warning: you'll never get it to fit back inside the cute little bag it comes in.  Don't even bother trying.

4. Carrying rain pants (and a rain jacket) in my pack was a lifesaver.  They kept me warm and dry.

5. Bring a spare bladder, or at least a spare nozzle.  My nozzle sprung a leak, and despite Joe's best taping efforts, it could not be stopped.  I had no backup, so I had to arrange my tube so that it stayed above the level of my bladder; otherwise the water would leak out, making me both cold and wet and dehydrated.

6.  If you're coughing up phlegm, wheezing, and having trouble catching your breath on climbs, you might have pneumonia or pulmonary edema, like the medical director warned me when he heard me coughing . . . or you might be totally fine.  Best to just keep moving and not think about it.  Worrying about it just cost me time, stress, and a couple mental breakdowns.

7.  It's incredibly hard on your pacer/crew to only have one pacer/crew.  Joe is freaking amazing -- starting at mile 88, he would run an out and back, pacing me 5 or so miles, and then run back to the previous aid station, drive the car to the next aid station, crew me there, and begin again.  Who else could do something like that?  It would obviously be better to have a couple crew members, so one person didn't have to do Superman-like double duty like that.  But Joe showed that it can be done!

8.  You can do a 200-mile race on less than ideal base mileage.  I averaged only 47.3 miles per week in July, and 39.62 miles per week in August.  I have had consistent higher mileage for years, which undoubtedly helped, but I was not at all confident in my fitness going into Tahoe.  I was relieved to find that the mix of jogging, hiking, and slogging was doable with my current level of fitness.