by Carolyn Mangold and Tory Nickell
“The Tahoe Triple…” I first heard those words while traveling with Rogue through Morocco. I had run my first marathon in January and Carolyn and I were discussing my desire to run further. She spoke of this ultra ‘stage’ race that went around Lake Tahoe. A race that she had done twice before with much hard work and memorable success! Her descriptive tales of this amazing race sold me not only on the beauty of Tahoe but the camaraderie of the race.
I have to tell you that I am a really good talker, but when it comes to commitment I often run into problems. However, in late March and April a group interest formed in this race and Carolyn SIGNED UP! She emailed me on the last day of the discount with her great news! So I went for it and signed up as well! It was not until after I signed up that I read about the race and its elevation, hills, etc. I was nervous, but my coach and friend and two-time finisher of this race assured me that we were going to be prepared.
We started our training in May and by the end of June were logging three back-to-back runs a week. We ran early and the Texas summer heat was upon us. I have to tell you that even when I struggled, each run was excellent because Carolyn saw to and thought of everything. The routes included water and restroom stops, many provided by our fellow runners (thank you, thank you, thank you!!!) I was able to see all of Austin and its neighborhoods on my feet! Carolyn knows how to map an inspiring run! One morning I was so enchanted with our route that I confessed to Carolyn that I would rather be running in the wee hours of the morning, checking out the diverse neighborhoods of Austin with my running buddy, than staying up late the night before on a date to a nightclub!
With C in charge and several team meetings later, we hashed out our logistics and came up with a plan. There were two Rogues running the Triple Trifecta (three half marathons over three days) and four of us doing the full marathon version. Carolyn scoped out places to stay and discovered a place called the Aston Lodge and Ski Resort where they had a main hotel option as well as townhome options. Everyone in the group made arrangements. Carolyn and I opted for the townhome.
Our training seemed to fly by and before we knew it, it was time to go! A couple of easy flights and a short drive later, the gang and I were checking out the awesomeness of Lake Tahoe and our digs for the next several days.
The place Carolyn booked was perfect. It was only about a mile from the host hotel, yet right on the lake! We had our own beach to enjoy ice baths on! The main hotel rooms were great, each with kitchen. And our townhome could not have been more perfect! Everything we needed and more to prepare us for the next three days.
We were freaking out a bit upon arrival as a last minute cold front had hit the week before and produced snow flurries! It was cold, and we are Texans.
I am so happy that Carolyn did not mind-or seem to mind-my new puppy mentality. Yes, each race day I awoke with what probably equates to a wagging tail and puppy jumps. And the really cool thing was that each day seemed, to me, better than the next!
Carolyn’s daily reports:
Race Day #1: The first marathon started at the beautiful Emerald bay with a low temperature of 23 degrees. After a group photo at the overlook of the bay, the race director shot the gun, and we were off! The winding downhill start has the most incredible views and is followed by a long flat section. As we passed the halfway mark, rolling hills began, from lake level of 6200 feet elevation; we worked our way up to the finish at Spooner Lake at 7100 feet. As we ran through the finish, each of us had a medal placed around our neck. Many thanks to Mike Tulkoff for crewing for us that day; he was especially appreciated at mile 18!
Race Day # 2: The start line of day two is at the finish of day one, Spooner Lake. The air was not as cold as the day before, we were ready! Again for the second day in a row, it was long downhill start followed by rolling hills for the rest of the course. The day #2 route is the easiest course of the 3 days, but the hardest mentally. We were told “last hill” by fellow runners several times throughout the 26.2 miles, only to find there were a few more (and then some more!). We were really having a hard time about mile 18, when we spotted our crew for the day: my friend Deb. Her smiling face perked us up and gave us the motivation to continue. The course took us thru Incline Village and several small lakeside towns. The beautiful scenery and amazing views of the crystal clear lake were the perfect backdrop to distract us from the hills. Looking at my watch with about 5 miles to go, I realized that we would finish faster than the day before. We finished in a small park in Tahoe City with cheers from spectators, another medal and Tory’s favorite…tables full of snacks!
Race Day # 3: Our final day started at a beach in Tahoe City with a beautiful sunrise and great weather. The course started out flat, with some rolling hills throughout. Miles 15 to 17 were a consistent long and steep climb up to 6800 feet, followed by a steep downhill section. It was tough, but rewarding. As you top the hill… imagine pine tree views as far as the eye can see against a mountainous backdrop overlooking the sparkling greenish, purplish, blue water of the lake as a bagpiper stands to the side playing music! The downhill continued and then again another uphill as we looped around Emerald Bay. At mile 20, we were back to where we started day one. We were motivated to pick it up and finish: only had 6.2 to go, we knew these miles, and it was downhill and flat to the finish at Pope Beach. This day I didn’t look at my watch, and was surprised to see the finish line clock, that we finished faster than day two! This was my fastest triple marathon to date, and the only triple where each day was faster than the day before.
We had a great trip with our fellow Austin runners, but also on a multi-day race, we had the opportunity to meet runners from other states and around the world. How motivating it was to meet people who have run so many marathons. Several runners around us had run 90 – 100. There were also a number of runners who had overcome various life challenges, they were particularly motivating! Camaraderie develops amongst each other over the three days as you tackle 78.6 miles together!
Tory’s wrap up:
- Super lucky to have such a great friend who just so happens to be an amazing runner and coach~ best training, advice and best running routes in Austin!
- Early morning back-to-back runs in the heat of the summer in Austin…. they prepared us for running the cool Tahoe altitude like a champ!
- Easy travel to one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been.
- Super awesome accommodations, reasonable prices, cooked our own food & a Lake Tahoe ice bath right out your front door!
- An easy going race with incredible people and a multitude of distance and race options for everyone! Single half or marathon, two, three, ultra distance, triathlon options etc!
- Lots of bling & great swag!
- An incredible and scenic event to be a part of!
Carolyn’s wrap up:
- Weather: usually late September weather there warms up quickly and is pretty hot for the later parts of the races. This year a cold front came thru, so the temps were perfect for the entire race.
- Altitude: I definitely felt it at times on the uphills, say the last 6 miles of the first day as we climbed up to the finish.
- Race strategy: we walked most of the uphills day 1 and 2 and ran the downhills and flats, as many of the runners around us did. Day 3 we did minimal walking, felt the best of all 3 days and did pick up the effort the last 6 miles.
- Recovery: the next day we were a little stiff and sore with all the sitting traveling back to Austin. But the next day felt great and back to normal.
The journey from training to race day, the entire process, the whole experience was nothing short of awesome! We hope that you all will join us next year – remember there are options for every distance. If we can do the Triple, so can you!!