Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lake Tahoe Relay Preamble.

A week ago last Thursday, June 7th, after I drove overnight from LA to Sacramento, I picked up A and K at the airport there. We drove the scenic back route to Lake Tahoe where we were going to run a 72.3 mile relay race that Saturday as part of a team put together by Bex. We would be staying at her rented house in Homewood on the west side.

Our first view of the deeply blue alpine lake was an alluring one as we topped a mountain pass. We had to get out and take a picture, tourists that we were. Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in North America, twelfth deepest in the world. Interestingly, although many creeks and rivers drain into it only one flows out of it, the Truckee River, which does not flow to the sea but rather, empties into Pyramid Lake in Nevada.

(Left: Big Blue.) Achieving the lake, we drove to Bex's house, passing a quarter of Saturday's course as we did so. It put our hearts in our mouths. The two-lane blacktop with narrow shoulders around this part of the lake was comprised of, among other interesting vistas, a twenty-four foot wide shelf road with sheer drop-offs on either side and no guard rails, huge winding uphill climbs and dizzying descents. Driving over these monstrous hills, passes really, we each became apprehensive about our own ten-mile section of the course, especially given the 6,200 foot base altitude and the fact that we were all coming from sea-level.

H was already there. Bex and E, the perfect hosts all weekend, took us to a restaurant on the waterfront for dinner. E grew up spending summers on the lake in Incline Village. At the restaurant, we stumbled upon a beer-tasting event which we crashed. It was a gay time. (Above: A has found something she likes. K is still sampling.) We returned home and watched Chariots of Fire for inspiration. (Below: Does that shoreline on the other side look far away to you? Do those hills look big?)

The next morning I walked around nearby Tahoe City for awhile, enjoying the early morning serenity of the still lake. Then I ran three miles with Bex and H to get acclimated to the altitude. We went on a beautiful hike to Eagle Lake in a high meadow above spectacular Emerald Bay. B joined us, having driven there the night before from Santa Barbara so he could run the sixth and most difficult leg on the morrow. The only team member under thirty, he was an equestrian, not a runner (although he had done a 10K or two). We all wondered about his training for this race, as he was given to pronouncements about him "visualizing" his completion with perfect form of demanding physical tasks like running ten difficult miles, as if that was the actuality of doing it. More darkly, we wondered if he would even show up at all. If I ever wondered that, clearly I didn't know the man yet. When I saw him strip to his bathing suit at the frigid mountain lake and plunge in, I could tell that this was a Californian who was up for any task. (Left: H (2d fastest time) and Bex (3d fastest time) were ready.)

That night we cooked a big spaghetti dinner and watched the movie Breaking Away to find strength in the Cutter method of overcoming adversity, and then went to bed. The big race started early the next morning and I was up first.


Mia said...

That relay sounds like so much fun! Can't wait to hear a few details about how your 10-miler went?!

And I will definitely give you a shout out later in the summer when I'm down in your neck of the woods! Sounds like fun! (I'm checking out some schools down there as well so it'll work out great)

(Actually, I was just in the Hampton Roads area over the weekend so...lots of traveling to VA)

Just12Finish said...

Chariots of Fire and Breaking Away, you guys are a hoot!

What, no Rocky?