Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Notes from a Crazy Runner: Fastpacking the Tahoe 200 in 4 days

I hope this old train breaks down
Then I could take a walk around
And, see what there is to see
---Jack Johnson, Breakdown

4 Days, 
200 Miles, 
40,000 feet of Climbing
The Tahoe 200

A little book of notecards was my makeshift journal for the trip. I'd packed quite a lot of food thinking that I'd be able to make it the entire way unsupported. This was no FKT, not a race either but rather it was part of my job. As race director for the Tahoe 200 mile Endurance Run I felt that it was important for me to pre-run the course. There were a few sections with reports of downed trees and another short segment that I needed to find a connector trail on. 

I had 4 days, well 5 really, but I wanted to finish it in 4. That's what I do: I make myself a goal, then I purposefully make it harder just so I won't know if I can do it. I don't want to know how the story ends until I'm there. Looking through my journal notes, I realize I didn't gather too much practical information. It's actually some sort of stressed out vent. It's a map of the mental space that comes from pushing oneself in the mountains. 

For more about what supplies I used for the fastpack read this post: All I Need Isn't Love, It's on my Back

Notecard Journal 
Day 1
Drank out of Buck Island Lake AND Loon Lake. Not a good source (camping, 4x4, stagnant) but went 8 miles without water and felt very thirsty. 

Remember: trails are always fucking shitty going through fucking campgrounds. It took 2 hours to find where the trail left the campground. Going to be a long day. Made Cairns for other hikers to follow.

Day 2
That section was totally unexpected. Got off course and snapped my ankle really bad yesterday. Fuck that. I'm not done yet. A 15 inch piece of duct tape as a ankle brace. Glad I wrapped a bunch around my UD bottle before setting off. Ankle swollen and very sore. Met a girl who is road tripping to Santa Cruz to work at farmer's market. She gave me more duct tape. 

I'm back stepping here but I highly recommend gaiters for runners of the Tahoe 200. Should've worn gaiters. HIGHLY!

On another note, I burned off a blister on my leg thinking it was a tick. I guess I squished a mosquito into the blister and that's why I thought it was a tick??

I hate mosquitos!!!!!!!!

Bug spray would've been really really really really awesome. Really awesome. What was I thinking? (Point to be considered at later date)
Sprained ankle + heat blisters+ burned leg from fake tick removal
Day 3: 
It's really incredible how I wake up in the morning and feel so much better. Last night I was feverish. Very hot and chilled at the same time. Both nights I've slept without a sleeping pad surprisingly well. Yes, it's uncomfortable but not as much as you'd expect when you're completely exhausted and sore. 

Ate 5 Lara bars in one sitting. Really want more plantain chips. 

Feeling rather lonely and sad.

My feet hurt and my ankle is huge, swollen, painful but I have accepted the pain. Every step hurts. Shoulder hurts. Ok everything hurts.

Almost fell in river while walking across a log, caught myself as I planked onto a log next to it. 
Almost got wet here!
Remember to get money back from phone company. 

I think I need to organize a business employee vacation trip.

I like to keep my face clean. Legs that are dirty are a badge of honor.

Stopped at Tunnel Creek Cafe and Gas Station to resupply food. Smoothie was amazing. 

This may be the hardest adventure I've ever done for sheer length. For that I feel changed. View from above Incline Village on mountain was incredible. Camped there and heard many loud animal noises.

Day 4:
This trip is defining in part because of the people I have met. Also, when you're travelling with just a pack and your two legs propelling you, you must rely on the kindness of strangers- from time to time. I think I have more courage and strength than I had previously thought. As I get deeper and deeper into this trip I find myself slowing down to talk to other people along the way. Met a hiker who is an amputee on dialyses. Inspired conversation. Enjoyed a coke I forgot I'd packed the last 20 miles!!

In a race, everything is so much more simple. Here, it's me or it's nothing. 

Every last stretch of trail each day felt like an eternity. On the last leg I actually felt like I might be going crazy, just circling the same 1/2 mile without knowing it so I drew two lines in the trail and determined that if I passed over them again, I was in fact crazy and might need to ask for help. 

Turns out I was not going in circles. Maybe it was just my mind doing a headstand?

How do people build trails that never end? Is this trail called "Groundhog Day Trail"? I could put a fucking 24 hour race out here on Groundhog Trail. 

Remember to write essay on what makes ultra runners crazy. 

Be sure to warn hikers going the opposite way that the trail never ends and it will bring hopelessness to your soul, destroy your spirit and in general make you thirsty. 
Blister and pain management

Literally taping ankle

My Garmin 64st navigated me beautifully the entire way!!

Recovering after the fastpack.

Left ankle and shin swollen.
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  1. You're incredible, thank you for sharing and allowing me to virtually follow your thoughts and outtakes on this inspirational journey....

  2. AWESOME POST! I want TRT to be my first 100, and I'd love to run Tahoe 200 some day!! Thanks for this post, it made my afternoon in an office more bearable.

  3. How come such a fine lady like you get involved in such a joints damaging endeavor ? Looking forward to read ur article on how ultra runners get nuts.
    A dude from France

  4. Great story teller! Thank you for sharing. I read this post sitting at my desk at home. Kids playing in the yard. Such a different way from yours. Thanks for letting me peak in :) Take care and I sincerely hope your ankle heals fast!

    ~Angela from Texas

  5. I am bowing to you in awe. You are amazing. Thank you for sharing. I showed your picture to my husband and then read the blog - his comment? You know some really crazy people, inspiring but crazy. Keep on keeping on

  6. I hope to have these types of adventures someday....!! this post reminded me of this poem:


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