What happens when friends from different parts of my life are at Lake Tahoe for the weekend? Fun happens. So does a lack of sleep, but that can be caught up later, right? (For some reason, that was a lot easier 10 years ago, but I digress.) Anyway, I saw friends accomplish some amazing athletic feats, and I also took lots of photos of the lovely lake. [As always, click the photos to see the full size. All photos property of Layla Bohm except for one noted.]
I left work early Friday afternoon to make the 3.5-hour drive north-east. An hour into the trip, I found myself stopped on the freeway due to a car fire more than two miles away — we were so completely stopped that drivers were getting out of their cars to stretch. I opted not to try turning my non-four-wheel-drive sedan in the median, and we finally moved onward. After going through boring, hot Sacramento, the view finally improved.
I arrived at … The Porn House.
No, stop, calm down. There was no filming of adult-only movies. (But hello to those who googled “porn house” and found this page. Sorry to disappoint.) Tahoe has lots of big homes that the owners rent out to groups and families, and this was one of them. I’ve stayed in a couple other houses with my old Lodi Running Club, and each house has its own quirks. This one had a bathroom. Actually, it had a strange part about a bedroom, too:
Those are open shutters. They open from the kitchen into a bedroom. There is no glass, and there is no way of securing the shutters. So, there is no hint of soundproofing, and anyone can suddenly open the shutters while you’re in the bedroom. Now I’ll move along to the bathroom.
It’s all rock, and the shower, sink and toilet are all in one space. When you shower, water comes out of various directions and faucets. That third picture is a woman’s figure in stained glass. It’s next to the other door of the bathroom, which leads out to the ping-pong table — so if you’re playing ping-pong, you can get a show. Aside from a staircase that led to nowhere and the oddly placed light switches, the rest of the house was OK. So were the views.
I shared lodging with a bunch of my old running buddies, which was great. That group is the one thing I miss about Lodi, and after nearly two years I still haven’t found a group like them. So, it was great to see them for the weekend.
Despite five hours of sleep the previous night and falling asleep at 11:30 in Tahoe, I awoke at 3 a.m. with a pounding headache. Altitude was affecting me. I so rarely get headaches these days that I don’t carry pain reliever, so I lay there in agony. I was also too warm, so I finally got up and went outside, where it was 40 degrees at most. This was my reward:
I finally looked at the clock for the last time at 4:30. Then the alarm went off around 6:30. It was time to drive an hour to drop off a couple bicyclists who were taking part in one of the weekend’s many activities. It was Tahoe Marathon weekend, but there are tons of running, kayaking and cycling events for three days. Here’s the view from near the start:
I drove along the bike course while they rode. My view from inside the car was equally horrible:
Then I rushed back to the house, changed and met up with Katie, her husband and dog. We headed off to Squaw Valley for Octoberfest, which was an excellent combo of beer and home of the 1960 Olympics.
That’s where the Western States 100-mile run starts. I would crew for it, but there’s no way I would run up and down insane mountains for 100 miles. See my “yay for beer” and “people run up that?!” expressions?
Octoberfest had lots of beer, lederhosen and dancing. And wild beards:
We didn’t stay too long, since Katie had a marathon to run in the morning.
I got back to The Porn House in time to turn around and leave again. Yep, theme of the weekend. Carl and Debbie (great Lodi people) had gotten tickets to see blues musician Tommy Castro, and had gotten a couple extra. Janine and I were going, and we got another for Doug. These were all Lodi buddies, but then it was time to throw another friend into the mix, since that was also a weekend theme. Remember my friend Rick, with whom I went on that awesome road trip in May? Well, his friend Wojtek was in Tahoe, so we finally met in person. He’d had dinner with a bunch of the Lodi people last year, and this year he met up with us at Harrah’s Casino for the concert. (Bonus of having red hair — I can be instantly spotted in a dark, busy casino.)
I didn’t know what to expect from the concert, and I hadn’t heard of Tommy Castro. But often the best rule is to “just say yes.” It was great! We all rocked out for a solid two hours.
The next morning involved a 4:30 a.m. wakeup. I went to Katie’s hotel, and then we dropped my car off at Pope Beach, where the marathon would finish hours later. Then we drove 26.2 miles to the start line.
At the start line, we found Dennis, who was doing the Tahoe Triple — three marathons in three days. He’d never run at altitude in his life, and this was day three. He basically looked like death.
For the next several hours, Katie’s husband Ari and I drove along the marathon course, stopping every few miles to give her gel and a drink. At one point, she yelled at Ari for giving her the same color of Powerade twice in a row — we learned our lesson and had a good laugh. I won’t write her whole race report, but she ran a fantastic race. Despite a bathroom stop, she was soon in sixth place, and we knew she’d power up the brutal Tahoe hills.
The first place woman finally left us behind (and her bike pacer, too, at one point), and wound up running a personal best on the course. Katie, meanwhile was going strong.
The drawback of being near the front of a small race was that she was alone. She’d previously asked if I would run the last 10k with her, and I said YES, but that I might not keep up. I told her more than once that I would push her to leave me, and that it would be fine because I’ve run in the area before. At mile 20, she was so tired of being alone, was losing steam and asked me to run the last four miles. I quickly guzzled some water, put on my hat and watch, and jumped out of the car a few minutes later.
“Keep me at 9-minute miles,” Katie said. OK, I could probably do that. My knee had suddenly acted up the previous weekend on a 20-miler and I was babying it in preparation for a marathon, though I’d planned to run 8-10 miles in Tahoe. That run hadn’t happened Saturday, which was probably good, since I could actually be useful by helping Katie instead. I started running and felt the knee twinge, but then I didn’t feel it again until an hour after the race. I don’t know if I was distracted or if it was OK.
I jabbered at Katie about lord knows what, telling her she didn’t have to talk at all and that she could tell me to shut up. I didn’t say “you’re almost there,” because no runner ever wants to hear that unless they are truly three yards from the finish line. We got to a pedestrian path for the last few miles of the marathon, and Katie had said it gets crowded because the race isn’t allowed close it to other pedestrians. I told her I’d clear everyone out of her way, and I proceeded to do just that. “Runner coming!” I’d holler, running just ahead of Katie so the pedestrians would move over. “Look at her. Isn’t she awesome?!” I yelled, thus forcing people to cheer whether they wanted to or not. We ran through an aid station where kids were dressed in Disney costumes and I told them Katie needed some cheer — and boy did those kids cheer! They were fantastic.
Katie had been dragging more and more, walking a couple times until I’d point out a slight uphill and remind her that she runs better up hills than down them. Then suddenly we heard footsteps and I realized another woman had caught up with 1.25 miles left in the race. Katie was fading and looking for a bathroom, but I knew she could hold on. “You’ve got a good finishing kick. You can do this. You’ve done it many times. Go for it!” And did she ever go for it! We increased the pace and I saw 8:30 on my watch. The woman behind us held on, but I noticed and told Katie that the woman wasn’t gaining on us. With one mile to go, we were running an 8:10 pace and I knew Katie was going to leave me behind, too. I was thrilled, and kept saying “You’ve got this” and “You look awesome” until I couldn’t keep up.
Katie wound up running that last mile in 7:42. I slowed to a walk because I just don’t have speed these days, the altitude was killer, and I should have had more food and water that morning. It took a little while for the other woman to catch up, so I knew Katie had held on to fourth place. I got to the finish, found her with family (and our friend Alisyn, who had come to spectate!), and gave her a huge hug.
The finish area became one more mass juggling challenge, as I found various friends.
Then it was time for one last hurrah with some of my old crew before I hit the road.
The drive home seemed to take forever, but an iced coffee helped the sleep deprivation factor. I would only have a few days before the next adventure (which is currently underway and will appear in this blog later). Tahoe, you were beautiful. I need to visit you more frequently.