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My friends and I ran the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon last weekend. Beautiful views. Challenging race. Great bling. Fantastic post-race party.
But, would we do it again?
The Rock Tahoe Half Marathon starts at Spooner Summit and goes down Highway 50 and through Round Hill Pines, ending with a private pool party at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Stateline, NV.
Most of the registrants gathered in front of the Hard Rock and loaded into buses, which transported us up to the Start Line. Once there, we had about 45 minutes before gun time to stretch, get coffee, check our bags and use the facilities.
Adrenaline and excitement were high. The local fitness club girls led us through warm ups. Then the National Anthem was played on electric guitar, in keeping with the race theme. And we were off.
I’m not a fast runner, I’m usually happy with 11-or-so minute miles. My fastest half marathon was last March – I averaged an 11:10 pace and finished in 2 hours 28 minutes. I was not looking to better that with Rock Tahoe…I knew it would be a tough course, and I just wanted to enjoy the day. My friend suggested I try to keep up with the 2 hour 15 minute pacing group. I agreed that I could give it a try, though I knew I’d drop back fairly soon.
It was a gorgeous day – a tad on the warm side (okay, it was hot). It was hard to believe that only the week before, it had snowed in the Sierras. This weekend, the highs reached the high 80s. The race time temperature was around 60. It felt so good to be out there in the forest, under a cloudless blue sky, knowing that at any moment we would catch our first glimpse of the equally blue Lake Tahoe. And let’s be real; not many races (at least in my experience) start with downhill! All of the runners were giddy…the joy was contagious!
At around the four-mile mark I was already starting to feel fatigued, I stopped to tie my shoe, and looked up to see the 2:15 pacing group catch up to me and move on. Holy crap…no wonder I felt tired! I needed to back off.
And so the mind games began. Once I realized how fast I had been going and I knew (or believed) I couldn’t maintain that pace for 9 more miles, I dialed it way back. Suddenly I found myself seeking the next aid station as the next goal . (the aid stations were generously placed, by the way!) Once I reached it, I took my sweet time…had some water and electrolytes, used the facility, then moved on. As we continued on, I stopped frequently to take pictures and enjoy the scenery.
It was the uphills that really got to me. I tried to ignore that pesky inner voice that told me I should have known better than to start out so fast. I turned my attention to the runners around me. We were all working hard to get to the finish and encouraged each other along the way. The ones who were still running cheered the walkers along. Those of us who alternated between running and walking shared our energy and encouraged one another. We talked about what a tough course it is, but a beautiful one, and how strong we were to be out there finishing it! It was all positive.
Overall, this was my slowest half marathon so far. My Fitbit app shows splits ranging from 9.5-minute miles to 17-minute miles. It was a demanding course. I felt every bit of the altitude and the hills. I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier to see a finish line.
But the reunion at the finish with my friends was nothing but festive. Hearing their stories and celebrating the fact that we finished strong – and congratulating each other for each individual win – was all worth it. (Make no mistake – we all won!) Soaking our tired legs in the swimming pool at the Hard Rock Hotel felt glorious. And yes, the post-race cheeseburger fresh off the grill was worth the 20-minute wait in line.
But would we do it again?
Immediately after the race many of us didn’t think so. But less than 24 hours later, we were messaging each other on social media about the early bird discount for next year. And not one of us has ruled it out! We may very well return even stronger next year to rock that race!
Did you Rock Tahoe? What has been your most challenging race?