Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tahoe 200 recap: Surprises

Since the Tahoe 200 took me 91 hours (3 sunrises!  4 sunsets!), I feel like writing more than one race report.  So I'll think of this as more of a series of race reports, to include:
  • Surprises
  • Lessons Learned
  • Detailed Race Report, by Segment
Surprises

I had no idea what to expect from this race.  I got some good advice, like the importance of gaiters (from Katie Graff) and the importance of sleep (from Ed Brown), and Joe helped me predict the time between aid stations, etc.  But still, as I lined up at the start, I turned to Joe and said, "What have I gotten myself into?"  

Here were the biggest surprises for me from the race:

1. It was impossible to get any sleep during the first hundred miles.  I tried to sleep on a couple different occasions -- at Sierra-at-Tahoe, mile 63, and at Armstrong, mile 88 -- but just laid there, unable to get it done.  I kept thinking, "Sleep would be good.  But I'm just wasting time lying here, not sleeping.  I might as well just get up and keep going."  It wasn't until the Heavenly aid station, mile 103, that I was able to sleep.

2. It was so easy to sleep later on in the race.  Once I'd slept at Heavenly, I could easily step to the side of the trail and take a 10-minute power nap.  I'd wake up feeling fairly refreshed and able to continue, at a slightly faster pace than prior to the nap.

3. I did not have a gel until around mile 190.  I was able to eat real foods (burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas, breakfast tacos) until then.  I only added in gels at Joe's prompting, because I was struggling so much and starting to really fade towards the end, and gels would be quick energy.

4. I thought I wouldn't be able to handle the idea of being out there four nights.  In ultras, nights can be a struggle, and sunrises can be a big energy boost.  I like running at night, but dealing with four nights in a row seemed overwhelming.  Yet, I actually said to Joe at one point on night #3, "This is the last full night!  And then just one partial night tomorrow.  That's not so bad!"  

5. I thought my whole body would be trashed.  My thinking was, if I have soreness and pains during a 50-mile race, surely the pain will be 4 times as much during a 200-mile race.  But actually, during a 200, you're doing a lot of hiking, and the pace isn't as intense as during a shorter race, so I actually had less pain in a lot of ways.  I had no knee pain, quad soreness, or back pain.  Only sore calves and foot pain.  Much, much foot pain.  

I guess one final, post-race surprise is how long it's taking me to stop feeling "out of it."  This morning -- two full days after I finished the race -- I woke up thinking I was still in the race.  It took me at least two minutes of questioning myself, "Is this bed just an aid station?  Do I have to get up and keep moving?  Or did I finish?" before I remembered that I did, in fact, finish the race already. Hopefully taking this time to process the race through writing will help me get my head back on straight.

around mile 128, enjoying a picnic lunch with Joe