TRT100: a Love-Hate kinda thing!

This was my 4th consecutive TRT100 miler and 5th hundred overall. It's a 50 mile loop course run twice. There is also a 6 mile loop in the loop. You pass through the aid stations several times, Tunnel Creek 6, Hobart and Bullwheel 4, Diamond Peak and Red House 2. There is 20,000 feet of climbing at average 8000 feet of elevation.  The Sun is glaring hot, and the air is more than dry. But the views are worth every step.

I am 0 for 5 at the WS100 lottery dating back to 2010. So after a week of being really bummed with a 53% chance of getting in on 16 tickets, I Shake it off. I'll do TRT100 again, I have a love-hate thing with this race.
 
In those deep dark hours of the pain cave, where I question why it is I am doing this, I hate this course. The altitude, elevation change and sun exposure, at times, are enough to make me throw in the towel.  When training or most of the time during the race, I love this course. The people, the views and scenery are amazing. The Sierra Nevada Mountains over Lake Tahoe are a Spiritual and Sacred place for me. 

The weather is perfect at 5am and I say good luck to all my friends. I am feeling pretty good except my hamstrings are already tight. 2 hours to Tunnel Creek at mile 12 and then about 1:10 hours for the Red House loop, aka "Taste of Hell". So far so good. I keep rolling out of Tunnel Creek at mile 18 on my way to Diamond Peak at mile 30. I'm told that I am about 13th overall.

Climbing Diamond Peak the 1st time sets the stage for things to come. At 10am the sun is already hot, I've climbed about a mile that feels so steep its stupid, and then it gets steeper. I can't imagine going another 70 miles with the amount of work and time I have already put in. Then I pass someone who is gut wrenching and hurling PB&J all over his shoes. 41 minutes later, 1700 feet up in 1.8 miles, I press on over the top and finally get to run again.
 
I reach that fabulous oasis known as Tunnel Creek at mile 35, I LOVE this aid station.  Can't linger too long, so off I go and it hits me that the heat has cranked up even more and now I have to climb up Marlette Peak, hating it.

At first glimpse of Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake below, the love comes back, one of the most amazing views anywhere. I cruise to Hobart aid station which is now serving Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. My stomach is turning over, I haven't had a beer in 2 weeks for my taper, food sounds horrible, I'm at mile 40, screw it, gimme a beer.

I leave refreshed but with an added dimension to my already altered state of mind. Suddenly, my stomach feels better! Time to climb to 9000 feet. I reach the top of Snow Valley Peak climb and the love returns, the view is even better and a cool breeze blows over the ridge. Seven LONG downhill miles to Spooner Lake, time to set cruise control and conserve what I can for the last 50 miles.
 
I reach the 50 mile Spooner Lake aid station at 2:30pm in 9.5 hours, I went out too fast! How the hell am I going to do that again?

The UNAFRAID keep going!

Doesn't matter if its 2:30 AM or PM, it hurts all the same.
 
I leave in 7th place and the climb to Hobart has me hating life until I pass someone and move into 6th. Holy cow, I can podium this mother, if I can keep it together.  Run my race, and just don't give up. Fight through it, damn it hurts, hate that, wait, I am in 5th place, LOVE that. Crap, who is coming up from behind? Better not be Annie Rutledge, I hear she is closing fast!

Hobart again and I love that 2nd Fresh Squeezed more than the first. It settles the stomach and calms the fears. Press on, moving good, up ahead another guy walking! WTF, I'm in 5th, is this really happening?

Tunnel Creek comes easy after the climb out of Hobart, one more beer won't hurt!

Damn it, Red House loop! Wait, that dude is walking. As I come up on him, he starts sprinting down the hill, "oh he's making a big mistake". Don't chase, there is too far to go. A mile later, he is walking and I am in 4th place. Loving it, NO, hating that I have more than a 50K to run and they are coming for me.
 
Where is the 3rd place guy? Let's go hunting, I love hunting, wait I am being hunted, I hate being hunted.

Sunset on the TRT is magical, and then night falls and I struggle with every step. My eyes don't work well at night and the headlamp causes tunnel vision. I reach Diamond Peak around 9:30 pm.
and hug pacer 1 as he has set me up perfectly for the last 20 miles. Pacer 2 informs me that 1st and 2nd place don't look too good and 3rd who just left, almost dropped. Hurry up, let's go. Cheers and hugs from friends, "you look great, go get him, you can podium", love that.

Crap, the dreaded 2mi climb up a ski hill. Cool, I am catching 3rd place.  "Hang in there bro" as I pass with 18 miles to go. Love it! I am on the podium, crap, I see lights coming up behind, time to motor!

Now I am faced with so many lights coming the other way it's hard to see anything and the dust adds a hazy layer to my vision and lungs, Hate that! Almost every runner I came up on stepped aside to let me pass. "Way to go, great job, dude you are killing it, unbelievable, amazing, way to crush it, holy cow is that you", love that.

Ok, I get to Tunnel for the last time, John Trent, Lon Monroe, Jenny Capel, Andy Pasternek and Noe Castanon, LOVE them! It's 11pm and like a dummy, I stated a goal of sub 21 hours publicly. The fastest I have done the last 15 miles to the finish is 2:45 on fresh legs in the daylight, but I need to finish by 2am in 3 hours. Last year it took 3:35 to cover the last 15 miles. Damn, there goes that dream, wait you are in 3rd! Lon and John kick me out of there, awesome!

The night is cool and clear, I press on and finally reach the top of Snow Valley climb, it's all downhill from here. Love that, wait, it's the hardest 7 mile downhill ever, especially with 94.5 miles on your legs. The footing for about 1.5 miles is harder than I can imagine. My quads are burning with every step. They have been since mile 60.

When did 2nd place leave? 15 minutes ago. Come on, let's catch him, he was 30 minutes ahead at Diamond Peak. I made up 15 minutes in 13 miles, maybe 2nd place is mine. My balance is not good at all, I keep tripping on twigs, and nothing except Coke is going down.

Any lights behind me? No. Good, wait still 4 miles to go.

Any lights in front of me? No. Crap, only 3 miles to go.

Any lights behind me? NO! Great, wait still 2 miles to go.

Any lights in front of me? No. Crap, only 1 mile to go.

ANY LIGHTS BEHIND ME? NO, You're good, keep rolling only a half mile to go. Phew!

Finally, I cross the finish line at 2:30 am as people cheer me on. I love that people are out here at that hour.

I finish in 3rd place in 21:30:24 a 1 hour PR, first in 50-59 age group.

I LOVE THIS RACE!

BUT I WOULD HATE TO RUN IT NEXT YEAR!

By the numbers:
1500 miles run year to date
250,000 feet of climbing
273 hours on the feet
0 blisters
Hoka Challenger ATR
Sport Oxylent vitamin mix
Tailwind, GUs, Coke, Water, IPA, S-Caps, Aleve
Broth, sweet potato, smoothie, snickers
Suunto watch and Iphone strava
Recovery Pump compression sleeves


Thanks:
Donner Party Mountain Runners are UNAFRAID
Pete Broomhall aka Pacer 1
Galen Farris aka Pacer 2
Peter Fain for inspirational text "test your limits, run Unafraid"
Tahoe Mountain Milers, George Ruiz
Alpenglow Sports
Dan Baxley
All of you who have shared the trail with me and those who inspire me.

Love this crazy sport!