About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Glimpse of Heaven, A Taste of Hell

Update: Follow my progress here on 17-18 July. I'm #558. Tahoe Rim 100 Miler webcast.

Quite frankly, I’m Scared. What does it take to run 100 miles non-stop in the Sierra Nevada? I will find out in a little more than a week. Do I have what it takes to keep going on tired, sore, lifeless legs? What about the sleep deprivation that some say brings on hallucinations at night? How much fluid will I need to keep from getting dehydrated? All these questions will be answered soon, because this is my first attempt at finishing this distance.

Last year I ran the 50 mile course of the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Run (TRT) in 13 hours and 20 minutes and believe that I’ll be able to run twice that far this year. I have 35 hours to finish which is lenient compared to the cut-off times of many 100 mile events.

Just having the opportunity to run in this event is an accomplishment. I had to qualify to enter the race by finishing a 50 mile race in 13 hours or a 100K in 17 hours. Although my TRT run didn’t meet the qualifying time, my Bandera 100K time in 16 and half hours did. In addition, I had to sign-up for the race within days of the opening registration because it filled to capacity in about three weeks and has been closed for six months.

487 runners are registered for one of three distances – 50K, 50 mile, and 100 mile. There are almost 200 runners on the waiting list so, as you can see, this is a popular run. The reason is that it is one of the most gorgeous courses in the country. With spectacular views of Lake Tahoe, one cannot help but want to spend all day (and night) running this awesome trail. (click to purchase DVD documentary)

When runners crest the top of Snow Valley Peak they experience the “glimpse of heaven” – the wonderful view of Lake Tahoe. After they descend Red House Loop Trail participants suffer the “taste of hell” as this is a 1000 ft steep climb; straight up. This multi-day adventure will prove to be a roller coaster of heaven and hell. At times I’ll be having the time of my life, but there will be the difficult, painful patches as well. An ultramarathon saying goes: “You run for long enough and something is bound to happen”. I’m sure many things will happen that I will have to overcome as I take on this distance of 100 miles.

This past week I was able to get good back-to-back long runs in of 5 and 4 hours. I climbed S. Franklin peak (6,791 ft) leaving at 4am and, unfortunately, twisted my ankle running down a rocky trail. My foot is feeling better now after some icing and I was able to run the Rio Grande levee trail the next day.

I also made the climb to N. Franklin Peak (7,172 ft) with my dogs, Lucy, Sierra and Taz. Some friendly hikers took our photo and also pointed out a large colony of lady bugs. Apparently the beetles congregate at the highest elevations in an area.

My Tahoe race strategy is to spend the week before the race camping near Mammoth lakes, California where the elevation is 8800 ft. This will allow me to acclimate so the altitude of up to 9200 ft will not be as much of an issue during the run. I’ll be pacing myself so that I finish the first 50 miles in about 15 hours which will leave room for slowing on the second loop. My goal is to finish in the allotted 35 hours no matter what the day and night dishes up.

In my running adventures this week I enjoyed a wonderful sunrise and observed some swallows feeding their young under a bridge along the Rio Grande. Collared lizards were abundant in the Franklins, and some red winged blackbirds and a blue bird that I couldn’t identify were present at the river.

I spent an evening of leisurely walking with my family and relaxed by the pool with our nephew and niece Colin and Sara who are visiting from Houston. All of these little adventures, as well as the large ones over the past six months, have prepared me for “A Glimpse of Heaven, A Taste of Hell”. Mark Twain said it best, “To obtain the air the angel’s breathe, you must go to Tahoe” See you on the trail.

Collared Lizard
 The trail where I twisted my ankle (I still made it to the top)
North Franklin Peak as seen from S. Franklin


  1. Good luck Greg! From all the training you have done, as detailed in your blog, you've easily done enough to succeed.

    Remember to take it steadily and with a smile on your face, and if you do start to hallucinate early in the morning... That's normal :-)

    You'll do great! Richard