Last Saturday it was, once again, time for our favorite annual tradition: running the 48th annual Decelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay. This was our fourth time running it already. Over 100 seven-person teams participated in this running race; some extremely competitive and others mainly out to have a good time, finish before the 13h.15m cutoff, and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with relay races in particular.
We ran our first Tahoe Relay in 2008 with Chris, Turi, and Amber and we were instantly hooked. Since then, our team has been a little different each year. For example, Hayes, who had been our anchor for three years is now in college in Southern California and, unfortunately, he still had some exams to finish.
This year, our team was—as RD April Carter commented—younger than ever! Our anchor (leg 7) runner, Sean S., was actually graduating from Nevada Union on Saturday morning and would drive up with his brother Nicky (leg 6) as soon as he was done.
To start, we had another new runner, Ricky Mendoza. We had a last-minute cancellation and Ricky volunteered to join us the day before the race, never having run further than about 6 miles. He kicked off the run for us and paced himself extremely well. He just kept cruising while we leapfrogged him with the car, stopping to give him water and Gatorade every couple of miles.
Ricky finished his leg at Zephyr Cove in 1:30 and handed off to Sean. It was nice to see Ed Walsh and his wife again at the relay hand-off point. They have timed this leg for around 20 years now!
Sean had run leg 2 last year and wanted to run it again. Leg 2 is the shortest (8.2 miles), but also the toughest, with a relentless climb to Spooner Summit. Just like Ricky, he kept a super steady pace and kept climbing the hills. He finished in 1:25, a very good time considering the steepness of this leg. We also ran into Grass valley area's George Raynsford on this leg, who ended up running almost three consecutive relay legs for his team. Wow!
At the top of Spooner, another first-time relay team member, Lisa, was waiting. She had joined our team only a few months before and had only run a 10K once in training, but because she takes dance lessons at her school, she proved to be very fit... and tough!
During this leg, the temperature started to rise and it was slowly getting hot. The sunscreen came out and we had to stop more frequently so Lisa would not dehydrate. She kept running and just did an incredible job, finishing just under two hours in 1:59. Boo Yah!
And then it was my turn. I was ready at the relay hand-off point, with a new iPod playlist that Rocky had created for me just minutes before the start. I had just come back from a 3 week business trip to Europe and had flown in the night before, so still had plenty of jet lag (yep... excuses, excuses!) My training had consisted of running and bicycling at hotel gyms and walking around the different towns I visited and I had not run much further than 5 or 6 miles in one go this year yet.
Leg 4 is not particularly tough, but it is a bit longer than most (12.6 versus mostly 10 miles). I decided to get started slowly to get into a good rhythm and that worked well. It was very hot, but fortunately Vicky and the kids stopped every mile and a half with drinks and encouragement.
The section from Crystal Bay down to Kings Beach is one of my favorite runs and this is where I finally felt warmed up and started cruising. Rocky's new custom playlist (Tiesto, Wolfgang Gartner, Bingo Players, Nicky Romero, White Stripes, and more) certainly helped keep the pace. I thoroughly enjoyed this run with a prolonged runner's high. Running around Tahoe again brought back many memories and made me feel somewhat nostalgic.
It made me think about a big return to the Tahoe Super Triple in 2013. We'll see ;-) If I do, I better start training, because I finished with an all-out sprint to catch one more runner, which was fun. My time was 2:06, which is of course nothing to write home about, but I was very pleased with my steady fun run. Nothing beats running 72 miles around beautiful Lake Tahoe with family and friends.
Rocky ran leg 5 this year, which starts with an unexpected monster climb and then goes into Tahoe City and around the lake to Homewood. It was still quite hot, but Rocky had been training for quite a few months with the others and he did amazingly well. Sean's friend Sean S. and his brother Nicky joined us during this section, Sean S. had just graduated from high school earlier that morning. Talk about timing!
Rocky sprinted to the finish (2:03) to hand off to Nicky who would run leg 6. That 10.5 mile leg includes the dreaded "Hill from Hell." Nicky was also more or less a last-minute recruit, but fortunately he happened to be quite fit as well.
The temperature dropped a little at this time and it started getting a bit windy. After a mostly flat first part, Nicky just put his head down and gutted out the long, tough hills. He finished in an amazing 1:30, also with little long-distance experience. A great feat.
We were originally a little worried about the 8:15 p.m. (the race started at 7 a.m.) cut-off, but once Nicky finished so strong, we were relieved. It looked like, with all the great efforts, we would almost have an hour to spare!
Our anchor was Sean S. Our Sean and Sean S. are about to leave for a one-month summer trip to Europe by themselves (including Amsterdam, so watch out mom and dad!). Sean S. had been part of our team last year, so he knew what was in store.
He started his leg with a downhill around Emerald Bay and then a steep climb to the top of Inspiration Point. By now it was evening and Sean was really moving, passing many other runners. From Inspiration Point, the road snakes down very steeply and Sean was clocking 6-minute miles!
Everyone that had finished their leg would immediately put on the new race T-shirt, so by now we already had six shirts walking around and we would show Sean S. the shirt for extra motivation. The grey 2009 t-shirt is still my favorite, but this one was was also quite nice.
A couple more stops for drinks and Sean was already cruising to the finish where we all waited to run the final 100 yards with him as a team. Sean finished in 1:24, and our overall time was 12:00:05. If we had known it was that close to the hour mark, we probably pulled out the cattle prod to make Sean run six seconds faster!
We all received our medals and posed for the finish line pictures and then we promptly went to the Tahoe Brewery, which has also become a bit of a tradition (think chicken wings and beer samples). It took a while to get a seat, but we had a great time unwinding from the long day, and already planning on improvements we can make next year! We'll definitely be back!
Next Up: A Major Career Change! Yes... Stay tuned for details!