Reno-Tahoe Odyssey 2008

Official results are in! We took 5th place in mixed and 13th overall. Not bad!
The team, Venetian Skunk, took off from Reno at 3pm. My turn to run came up for Leg #8 a little bit after 8pm. I was excited, and I was off on the road at dusk.
After about two miles into my section of the course, my legs started cramping. Thoughts of “oh shit” ran through my head, so I slowed down just a bit and tried to relax. I had a long ways to go, and not only on this section, but on the rest of the race!
Soon enough, both my legs felt like wires with ants crawling through them. My left one, particularly, was in pain. From my toes to my knee, it felt like it was all one piece: no joints, no muscle. Just one huge mass of pain.
I ran through Truckee, huffin’ and puffin’. I was almost there! At the roundabout, I almost went the wrong way, but I eventually got to the exchange point and ended my leg. I was in extreme pain, but I had this huge rush: I completed my first 4.8 miles in 42 minutes. A whopping 6.85 mph was my speed, which definitely put me as the slowest runner in my team. However, I never once walked, which was one of my goals (the other goals included not dying, being run over by a lifted truck or swallowed by a bear).
After Jason finished his leg at Homewood, the six runners that were in my van were done for at least 3 hours. It was midnight when we arrived at the exchange point in South Lake Tahoe, and we tried to get some rest. The temperature was 36 degrees, and most of the team slept on the ground of the Raley’s parking lot, in sleeping bags. I curled up inside the van’s passenger seat.
I wasn’t able to sleep much, but I was at least laying down and resting my legs. I didn’t want my legs to cramp up anymore, so I did something I hadn’t done in over ten years: I ate bananas. Two fresh, ripe and smelly bananas. My body was craving the potassium, so I put behind my self-imposed dislike of the fruit, and went to town.
At around 3am, Josh H. started from South Lake Tahoe, up Kingsbury Grade. He had to climb 1000 feet in 4.2 miles. Now, Josh is a hell of a runner, and he was done in about 34 minutes.
I was waiting at the top of the hill, ready to go down Kingsbury Grade. 4.3 miles of downhill, in the middle of the cool, starry night waited for me.
I had a headlamp on, and I’d never even heard or though of the goggle effect that it would have on me. The shadow of my eyebrows that was cast underneath my eyes made me feel like I was wearing some bizarre goggles, and messed with my eyesight for the whole stretch. At times, I would just close my eyes and run down the hill.
My legs weren’t cramping, this was a good feeling. I wasn’t going fast, but I wasn’t going slow either. Every single step I took reverberated through my body, ending up at the jaw. Thunk, thunk. A couple of guys ran past me, and I was wishing I was in better shape to be able to step it up.
I finished in 32 minutes. I was happy. My goal for this leg was to beat Josh’s time… I went just as far, but down the hill instead of up. He climbed 1000 feet, I dropped about 1300.
My body, however, was not happy. My shins ached, my shoulders were suddenly sore, and my stomach was making a number. I didn’t know if I wanted to throw up or go #2. I did the latter, twice in 10 minutes. All that bouncing from running down a hill sure shook up my dinner.
I felt pretty good when Nate, the runner that went after me, ran the second half of Kingsbury Grade at about the same pace as me. Our van’s legs finished south of Carson City, just a bit after sunrise.
We headed up to Virginia City, where we once again tried to get some sleep… and once again I wasn’t able to. I was too excited, and the cool breeze that blew on my face kept me wide awake.
After hydrating, some more Bowel movements, and the improvised application of Neosporin on some chafed parts, we were ready to go on the final stretch.
Leg 32 waited for me, it was sometime around 10 am. The sun was starting to be a factor, but I was ready.
I had a pretty big hill to climb (not as big as other runners’ climbs, but big enough to whine about!), and I was dreading every minute of it as I slowly made my way up it. I got my first and only “roadkill” of the whole race on this section, as I passed a guy that was walking up the hill. Yay! Another goal achieved.
At the top of the hill, I could hear the exchange point. My teammates were making noise, and I knew that after I got to the van, my part of the race was done. I ran as fast as my body was letting me, and finished in a mix of feelings of pain, accomplishment, fatigue and joy. My legs were throbbing, my shins hurting more than ever.
The team finished in less than 22 hours, which was one of the goals. I had a sandwich and a beer, and fell fast asleep on the grass of Idlewild Park.

This certainly was an Odyssey. At a few points during the race, I thought to myself “whoa, we’ve really gone a long way already“.
I was awake from 6am on Friday until 3pm on Saturday. I made new friendships, and by the end of the journey, I felt a strange, different and special connection with the 5 teammates I shared a van with.
I will certainly aim to do this again next year, and I plan on being in better running shape. I think all the bike riding I do helped me be ready cardio-wise, but my body was not ready for the impact of running on the road.
Today, Monday, I still ache, but I still feel what I felt when we finished: awesome!

I’d like to thank Jason, Josh, David, Nate and Bob for being awesomely supportive and fun to be with.

Pictures from the adventure can be found on my Flickr page, here.