Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ragnar - The Red Loop Pt 2

Ragnar Running Report - The Red Loop Pt 2

The first time I ran the Red Loop was at 10:00 pm. I knew that a waning moon was going to rise at 10:48 pm, but it was dark, pitch black, blacker than a Vin Diesel movie. I was prepared - I had a head lamp and two mini mag lites. I was ready to go... except I was told there would be coffee.... I was already bouncing off the walls of the transition tent. This was going to be the best leg, in my mind, working on my strengths, long, slow downhills.

The trail begins with a ride up a ski lift to appx 9000 ft, the top of the ridge. I loved the ride - it was like flying over a sea of blackness. I imagined bears frolicking in the dark beneath me, hiding behind the boulders. 

At the top, I saw a handful of other runners, bobbing up and down in their headlamps, but they all passed me until I was alone in the dark. The trail markers were relatively easy to spot, however, where the path twists and turns you could not see any marker, with no clear path or fire road. I would pause, get my bearings, and then shuffle onward. Shuffling was my safety speed. 

About two miles into the run, a girl started using me as a pacer, borrowing my illumination to push forward. I didn't want to break my rhythm, so for awhile we ran in silence. But after another half mile we started small talk. Her name was Michelle, and she was from Texas, unfamiliar with Tahoe trail runs, much less in the dark. We hit the downhill fire road and picked up a little speed; I set an 11:30 pace, so that we would not trip, or burn out our quads. This lasted for about three miles straight down.

At the five mile point, the trail narrowed into rocky single track, and I was suspicious that the deadly creek was around the corner. Squish. I stepped right in the middle, but fortunately did not slip or hit and rocks. Then the trail veered up and up, and down fast on the single track. And then back to the start.

Back at camp, I enjoyed a Rolling Rock and another piece of pizza, under the (almost) full moon. The night was mine, all mine. This is why I run. 

Ragnar Running Report - The Red Loop Pt 3 - hit repeat

I got a solid five hours of sleep, and woke up ready to run. Sadly, J got altitude sickness, so our team was down a second runner. Our legs were down to 6 pairs. All of us would have to volunteer to pick up a leg. I quickly volunteered to do the Red Loop a second time. I wanted to see the view I missed at midnight, and wanted to see the bears spawning ground from the chair lift. The catch was I would have to do the Red Loop back to back with my already assigned Yellow Loop. The work on the street was that the Yellow Loops was the toughest of all three loops. And I would have to run both, essentially a half marathon. Since J did it the day before, there was no reason not to man-up and do it. Especially since the reward is the views. I was stoked. 

The Yellow Loop

I liked the yellow loop. It was not as bad as everyone said. It started off with rolling hills on the same trail as the green. After about a mile, it sharply turned into the mountain and took you straight up a winding fire trail up the mountain. The reward for that effort was miles of single track through a pine forest and sandy boulder fields. At mile five, my endorphins kicked in hard, and my head started buzzing with runners high happiness. Which was good, since I was not even halfway done.

Red Repeat

In the transition tent, I teamed up with the Red Rolling Rocks, our mini team! Ragnar had underestimated how long the race would take. This was not a surprise since they asked teams their road times rather than trail times. To solve the problem, teams were allowed to double and triple their runners up. And our team needed to pound out three red runs! This was going to be even more fun that I thought!

 On the way up to the top of the Red Loop - sub team The Red Rolling Rocks

The Red Rolling Rocks are almost done!

Green 00:37:55
Red 02:03:00
Yellow: 01:43:00
Red: 02:15:00

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