I joined a running group to make friends, and instead I found a family

by Jordan Cooper

In August 2014, I decided to join a training group at Rogue Running in Austin, Texas. I had just gotten engaged to my now wife, whom I met on Tinder (which is a story for another time), and was coming to the realization that as I had grown in my relationship with her, I had lost some of the friendships I had previous to meeting her.

Although I graduated from college about a month before moving to Austin, my first four years in the Violet Crown could be viewed more as the “party” portion of my life than the four years I spent in college in my hometown in East Texas. However, most of the friendships I had made during that time were based more around going out and drinking than on something I could consider a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. As I moved down the path towards marriage, my time spent on the bar scene lessened, and I realized I needed a way to meet people that would be a little more conducive to my new, attempting-to- be adult lifestyle.

I learned about Rogue from a friend who had successfully run her first marathon while training with one of their groups. Previous to joining, I had casually trained for and successfully run a number of 10k’s and half marathons, which I did as almost a form of justification for my indulgent lifestyle. It was also somewhat meditative for me, the solitude of pounding the trails or pavement, so I was a little hesitant about running in the Texas heat with a bunch of strangers. I tried to maintain a positive attitude, especially considering I had at times in my life experienced the infamous “runners high” and figured if I could catch that sense of euphoria occasionally, that surely I could meet 1 or 2 people I might be able to bond with.

What happened over the course of the next few weeks, months, and now years is a laundry list of life lessons in connecting with people. Running in a group appealed to my competitive nature in a way I had not seen coming, and also reminded me of my past growing up playing team sports including soccer and basketball. I had not imagined a sport as considerably “solo” as running could be groomed and improved thanks to having a team or group around you, taking pleasure in your progress. I also learned that misery truly loves company, and that “embracing the suck” with fellow runners allowed me to overcome mental barriers to run distances I never could have imagined on my casual solo runs of the past. The accountability these connections provided gave me strength on those early Saturday mornings when I did not want to get out of bed to put in the work I had signed myself up for. Regardless of how I felt along the way, at the end of every one of those runs, I always felt accomplished and grateful for the kind words received from the cheerleaders around me.

Post-run stretches turned into hang outs, dinners, happy hours, holidays, and life events. I even took my turn at assistant coaching for a season. The bonds forged on the roads of Austin have turned into lifelong friendships and a sense of community and family I could not have imagined. As I spent the Fourth of July with over 50 runners who woke up early to run in the hills of West Austin before enjoying some amazing food and fellowship, I could not help but be grateful for the family I have come to feel a part of. As I train for the New York City Marathon this November, I know that I have the support of hundreds of runners who truly want to see me succeed, and it will be those smiles and handshakes, likes on Facebook, and good luck filled text messages that keep me going. I didn’t need an app to find friends; I just needed to go Rogue.

2016 Prep & Pump Recap

preppumpAustin runners packed the house on Friday night for our third annual Austin Marathon & Half Marathon Prep & Pump and came away with a toolkit of mental tricks from coach Amy Anderson, rock solid race strategy from coach Chris McClung and words of wisdom from coach Steve Sisson. Though we cannot recreate the magic after the fact, we can share notes and, perhaps most importantly, the course breakdown. If you missed out or simply want a refresher, you can find the slides from the event here:

Austin Marathon & Half Marathon Prep & Pump Recap

Austin Marathon Pace Chart

Thanks to all who came out, and best of luck to everyone this weekend – we’ll see you out there!

REPOST: Everything you need to know about November and December Races in Texas

Editor’s Note: This is a repost of a blog from about a year ago. Lazy? Nope Pertinent? Hell yes!   We are one month from the start of one of the most popular training programs here at Rogue: Texas Half Marathon and Texas Marathon.  Why the name? Virtually all the best marathons and halves in Texas fall into the same two week window and if you want to train for one of these, then you do it here….for Texas Marathon and Half. We’ve analyzed the courses, broken down the pro’s and con’s and much more.  So saddle up with us and lets run these wild west favorites!

Texas Half Marathon and Texas Marathon both begin on July 14th or 15th in Cedar Park, North Austin, South Austin and Down Town. 


THE LONE STARS: A TEXAS MARATHON GUIDE

by Allison Macsas

Here in Texas, we don’t offer much in the way of fall marathons, largely because “fall” typically begins somewhere around mid-November and ends a few days later.

However, we do have plenty of winter racing options and although “winter” can mean many different things, it’s widely considered the time to toe your local starting line.

So, what to choose, and where to start? There are many top-notch Texas events throughout the winter months, but in this guide I want to focus on 2014 races only – the ones that are done before the holidays, and that present the opportunity to end the year with a shiny new PR and extra reasons to celebrate.

So, read on and pick your race. Rogue is going big for Texas races this year – new training groups, awesome custom t-shirts (designed by yours truly) and ENERGY. Be part of it!

622x350THE ROCK N ROLL SAN ANTONIO MARATHON & HALF / DECEMBER 6, 2015

I won’t lie. San Antonio hasn’t exactly gotten rave reviews over the past few years, and I know many a runner who has sworn it off for good. But, nearly all of the negativity surrounding this event has been due to the weather – sweaty, suffocating, blazingly hot weather. No matter that the week leading up is chilly, and that the day after the race brings sleet; for whatever reason, the San Antonio race weekend is always. so. hot.

Well, I’m here with good news. That’s when the race was in November! And now they’ve moved to December! So although winter weather is never a guarantee, as every self-respecting Texan knows knows, there is a much better chance of cool, clear, perfect race conditions and some big PRs on what is actually a pretty fast course. (Editor’s Note: The move to December definitely helped weather-wise is 2014)

Screen shot 2014-05-03 at 9.56.40 AMDespite what looks like a 120 ft. brick wall at mile 5, overall this is FLAT terrain with a quite a bit of gradual downhill to help get the wheels turning. As this is a Rock n Roll Series event, there are bands galore, which fills in some of the quieter spectator areas and keeps energy levels high. The full and half runners take off together and keep each other company for a good ten miles, which results in some amazing crowd energy.

And, best of all, it’s in San Antonio which means that you can feasibly drive down morning-of, and be safely back in Austin in time for happy hour! No flights, no long drives, no waiting at restaurants the night before and no hotel expenses. Though it may be preferred to stay the night before to avoid any race-morning hiccups, this is one of the most budget-friendly out-of-town race choices that an Austinite can make, and one with lots of capitol city representation.

I was lucky enough to run the half marathon in 2010, a rare cool-weather year, and it was a fantastic PR-setting experience for me. With a new December race date, I’m hopeful that San Antonio will regain a spot on the favorites list this year!

website_dallasraceTHE METRO PCS DALLAS MARATHON & HALF  /  DECEMBER 13, 2015

Dallas is another race that has gotten a bad rap over the past few years, again due to everyone’s favorite scapegoat – the weather! In 2011, it rained. Cold, cold rain. It actually led to some big PRs, but also a lot of chafing and miserable spectators. In 2012, it was HOT. San Antonio-style hot. And HUMID. It’s gone down in the history books for many runners that I coach as the worst marathon experience ever. Then, in 2013, there was ICE! So much ice that the race was cancelled! All of that training, all of those race-week nerves, all of those entry fees, down the drain.* Who would possibly want to give this race a fourth chance?

My first marathon - a great Dallas experience!

My first marathon – a great Dallas experience!

Well, I would. Historically, the Dallas Marathon (formerly the White Rock Marathon) has had perfect weather. Like, 40 degrees and sunny-perfect. I grew up in the area, and began running the half marathon at age 14. I ran it every year until I left for college, and then flew back home four days before I graduated to run my first full marathon there (it was also my first ever run over 16 miles, but that’s another story). Every single time, the weather was perfect, the crowds were excited and the experience was top-notch.

The course rolls a bit, but is overall very flat, very fast. It hits a huge variety of neighborhoods and offers a great tour of the city, which makes it very easy to divide the race into sections for a strong race-day strategy. You get city, you get ritzy neighborhoods, you get the lake. It’s far enough away to feel like a “destination race,” yet close enough that you don’t have to take any time off of work. The toughest part of the whole thing is the drive up I35 to get there!

So, yes. I would give Dallas another chance, and you should give Dallas another chance. For an accessible big-city race with PR potential, this is the one.

*Except for those who took a chance on BCS. Details below.

1461471_600650926667129_1745573852_nTHE BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION (BCS) MARATHON & HALF / DECEMBER 13, 2015

Most Austinites had never heard of BCS until December 6, 2013, the day that the Dallas race organizers called off their event in the midst of an ice storm. Some people got angry and some people threw their hands up in despair, but other people immediately looked for another race.

Enter BCS! Held on the same day, in the same state, but far enough south to escape the worst of the ice, this was the golden ticket. Except for one thing – it had long been sold out, full of runners who knew what a secret gem this small event was.

However, the organizers of this race are fantastic human beings. In between setting up for the event, providing excellent communication via social media and fielding emails from desperate Dallas orphans, they went to the trouble of contacting all of the registrants to offer refunds to anyone who wasn’t going to make it to the starting line, and then opened up all of those spots to would-be Dallas runners, even offering a discounted no-race shirt or medal option to allow for more entries.

So, a number of Rogues ended up at BCS, and they ran FAST. You’ll get more on that story and that race later, but I can’t recommend this event enough. Yes, it’s a small town race and the spectator side of things is pretty quiet, but it’s flat, it’s fast, it’s affordable, it’s impeccably organized and it benefits an important cause. Plus, you can park right at the starting line, no hassles or lines or leaving the hotel two hours early. Roll out of bed and run!

Screen shot 2014-05-04 at 5.04.39 PMDECKER CHALLENGE December 6th, 2015

This long-standing Austin favorite offers only a half marathon these days, but 13.1 miles is plenty on that course! Decker has hills on top of hills, and everyone who runs this race earns some serious bragging rights.

This is a true Austin staple, a key component of the Austin Distance Challenge and an event where you’ll see all of your friends and are sure to make new ones. If the half marathon is your distance of choice and you want to keep it local and enjoy your own bed the night before, Decker is for you.

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So, what’s it going to be? All of these races will have huge Rogue representation, but as you well know it takes work to get to that finish line. We kick off training for Texas Half Marathon an Texas Marathon on July 14th, 2015. Commit, then let’s go conquer!

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562699_10100101789924218_815994431_nAllison Macsas wears many hats at Rogue Running; she is a coach, an elite athlete, the graphic designer, the blog manager, the head of Rogue Expeditions and the boss of an extremely important whiteboard calendar.

Austin Marathon: The Prep & Pump Recap

You all packed the house at our Prep & Pump pre-race event last week, and walked away with the mental and strategical tools needed to conquer your race on February 15. You can download an outline of the presentation below; read though it, refresh yourself, repeat. Then, get ready to run!

2015 Austin Marathon Prep & Pump: The Outline

Skechers. Seriously.

IMG_5934by John Schrup

I began working for the Skechers Performance Division (SPD) in July of last year.  Well before I took the job, I’d become familiar with a few of their models and had written about how impressed I was.  BMort1 had hooked me up with a pair or two and then Kurt2 had sent over a couple of others.  The GO Run series had become part of my regular rotation, along with the Kinvara, Adios, Tarther (RIP), 1400 and beloved Launch.

At first, I was hesitant to trumpet the merits of Skechers product because I was a shoe snob–the wrong kind, really, leaning more toward brand snob than anything.  But I was digging the shoes so much that eventually I couldn’t hide that I was wearing them on more runs than not  (I still have the almost unused Kinvara, Adios, 1400 and Launch to prove it. They’re in the closet, and we still chat, though mostly now it’s like when you run into an old girlfriend and you’re married with kids and you’re like, soooooooo, how’s it going?)

And then last summer I got a message from my man Seth, who was working on the SPD marketing team at the time, that I should send my resume tout de suite.  Some things happened after that, obviously, and I ended up at the Intergalactic Sales Conference in Manhattan Beach.  If you’ve never been to Manhattan Beach, CA, it’s the kind of place where everyone smells real, real tan and you get sand in your parts, whether you want it there or not.  Also, if it gets below 60 degrees, they call FEMA to bring in some long sleeve shirts, because you never really know.

Several people asked me, upon my return from MB, seriously, dude?  Skechers?  Just like I’d been asked when I was reviewing the shoes.  Yes, Skechers.  Specifically, Skechers Performance Division.

There are some challenges I really, really enjoy.  If there is an underdog quality to the challenge, I’m all over it.  And Skechers Performance is an underdog in the specialty running market, so the excitement was immediate and visceral.  The challenges are real—most of you probably didn’t even know that Skechers makes performance running shoes, and even more of you probably only knew of the Shape Ups and all that. And running specialty is well aware of it, so there’s the challenge.  How to introduce to the public a really, really, really good product from a brand that has previously not been associated with performance product?

ATHLETICS-US-MARATHON-BOSTONThe idea is to change the perception of the brand.  Most people probably don’t care that the product team is as good as it gets and is making product that is as good or better than anything I’ve seen in 30-something years of running.3 Most people probably won’t even raise an eyebrow that Meb wore them when he won Boston, because truth be told, most people don’t follow the sport in that way.  All it really takes is to get the shoes on some feet.  It’s that simple; and it’s not.  Obviously you can’t just go around giving away all your shoes, can you?  No, but all it takes is a few who are willing to try.  Word of mouth, and all that.

We know that if you’re looking for a shoe to try, there are really two fundamental variables to consider:  fit and feel.  The shoes have to fit your feet well enough that they function the way they’re supposed to.  Both the shoes and your feet, that is.  And they should feel as if you’re really not wearing anything at all.  They should disappear on your feet.  Neutral, maximal, stability, whatever.  The shoes should allow your foot to move unrestricted.  And that’s the idea behind SPD product:  To make the smoothest transitioning footwear possible.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt when you get to rub shoulders with Kara and Meb.

Skechers is now carried at Rogue Running. Stop in, try ’em on and see for yourself!

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1 Dude is fast, but he puts his pants on one at a time, just like you and me.

2Stockbridge.  VP, Technical Development, Performance Division.  Good people.

3Note to self:  Edit, using actual math.

NEW TO ROGUE Q&A

by Mandy Deen

Q: Where should I park at Rogue!?

A: I dunno, but for sure not across the street in the parking garage at Tacos y Tequila. They’ve sent letters.

Q: I want to be super cool and ride my bike to Rogue. Where I can park my bike?

A: I dunno that either, but for sure not on the handicapped parking spot sign post unless you’ve had prior approval from Dee. And don’t worry, you’ll know if you have her approval.

Q: I don’t have a running background. What are “quality workouts” and should I be scared?

A: It’ll all be explained by your coach. Save your fear for real things, like spiders or the lingering ambiguity about what you’re really doing with your life and whether everything is going to be okay after all (WHAT IF ITS NOT?!?)

Q: What’s the worst workout?

A: Yassos. Anything on the track kind of blows. Unless you like that flat and boring kind of thing. But it’s okay, we all have our faults.

Q: It’s raining and 50 degrees outside. Do I have to go run?

A: Cold rainy run = whiskey tea after! Unless it’s storming, then no, don’t go run. Safety first. Tree branches could fall on you! But be warned: at least five people in your group will go run in the storm anyway and post about it on Facebook later. So.

Q: What’s happening to my toenails?

A: Yep.

Q: Who are all those people on Saturday mornings!? Where do they come from? I’m not a social butterfly, I feel awkward, what do I do?!

A: Middle school awkward turtle playbook:

1) make a beeline for the map wall.

2) find a quiet corner and stare at your map whilst covertly scanning the room for someone you know from your group.

3) join a friendship circle for 16+ miles of complaining and delirious humor. Problem solved.

A2: OR you could do something mature and sign up for water stop duty now and again to interact with everyone and alleviate your social anxiety that way. Rogue also pays well for this.

Q: But I AM a social butterfly and I enjoy the energy of running and talking in a large group very early in the morning!

A: Please do not run up directly behind me and camp out there for five miles. #personalspacebubble

Q: On long runs, when I come into a water stop, I have noticed that some people will get a cup of water and then stand right in front of the cooler to drink it while everyone waits behind them. Is that a thing?

A: Nope. they’re doing it wrong. #waterstopetiquette

Q: What is ‘core class’ and should I go to it?

A: If you aren’t crossfitting or triathleting or yoga-ing or playing sand volleyball 3 times a week or commuting via kayak, then yes, you probably should. The main thing I hear about from people who attend is how sore they are the next day!

Q: What is that statue thing in the parking lot at Rogue?

A: It’s the petrified remains of a Rogue who happened to get caught by a basilisk. Next question.

Q: Who are those people that are always loud and drinking after workouts on Tuesday nights?

A: That’s Team Rogue, PM, Night Time is the Right Time. I would like to apologize in advance.

Q: Is it acceptable to sing during workouts?

A: Singing during workouts brings joy and amusement to the teammates around you during 100 degree evenings. It is considered a public service. Enthusiasm is valued over vocal skill.

Q: When’s the best time on a run or workout to ask involved philosophical questions?

A: Juuuuuuuuuust before a big hill.

Q: My _____ kind of hurts. Should I ignore it?

A: Probably not. You should email your coach immediately and use many superlatives. It’s better to find out you just need new shoes than to tough it out and end up with a stress fracture and 6 weeks in a boot.

Q: I just got a GPS watch for Christmas!

A: Congratulations! From now on, if you don’t wear it and log every single run on Strava and Facebook, it’s like it didn’t even happen. Also be sure to comment about your pace on each and every post! Otherwise people might not realize it was just “easy run pace” for you and think you’re actually some kind of slowbie. Also, if you happen to get a Strava Course Record somewhere in Austin, it just means Rogue AC hasn’t done a workout there yet. But they will. Eventually.

Q: Should I run the Austin Marathon?!

A: You live here, you know how these hills are! You decide. But, you should at least find a spot on the route with your other teammates and cheer everyone on. Those poor souls are gonna need it.

Q: Are people in my group secretly being competitive during workouts?

A: Hmmmmm. Maybe some of them. But don’t let it put you off, some people are just built that way! As the French say: “ne t’en fait pas” (don’t make any bile about it).

Q: I have questions about quality craft beers, good restaurants, or fancy kinds of baking recipes.

A: Great!! Someone on your team has the answers to those questions! Make use of your brain trust.

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Mandy Deen has run with Rogue since deciding to take on the Dallas Marathon in 2012. She is currently a proud member of Team Rogue PM, a professional librarian and is also the author of The Rundown’s most popular 2014 post, The Rogue Map of Austin.

Rogue Tahoe Triple 2014

 by Steven Hamilton

Chapter 1- Incoming!

It began simply enough:

Pssst! Can I interest you in a Triple?

A triple? Like espresso?

No. A Triple – Marathon!

When asked this question, the sane person should respond No! Or even, “Hell-o No!” But there are some for whom this question begs a different answer. And so the story picks up on September 10th as a group of Rogues converged on the idyllic town of South Lake Tahoe. We arrived solo, in pairs, and in a large group; in some cases, even arriving at the wrong airport. But, as Rogues, we persevered, and managed to arrive in one piece; healthy, caffeinated, and ready to run.

Somewhat craftily named, South Lake Tahoe is a small town at the south end of Lake Tahoe, straddling the California and Nevada state line. It hosts the gondola and ski lifts to the nearby Heavenly ski resort. When we arrived, the weather was beautiful, with lows in the 50s-60s and high in the mid-80s. As a group, we stayed at the Aston Village, shared several condos, and had our own private beach. After finding our rooms and unloading our vehicles, we headed to the local supermarket where we bought everything. Luckily, that included coffee and fixings.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.29.48 AM

Our first full day started bright and early with Carolyn leading us all on an “easy 2 miles around Spooner Lake.” As you can see, Spooner Lake is very pretty. While situated at a good 7000 feet in altitude, the couple of miles were deceptively easy. The scenery was lovely. And everyone unwound from the previous day’s travel. Our shake-out run was followed by breakfast at Zephyr Cove – home of the bear-coffee-mug – and which offered a darn good cuppa joe, as well as a breakfast that would fill a starving lumberjack full up.

Packet pickup was at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, where Rogue promptly showed up (on time!) early and were kicked out of packet pickup while organizers figured out last-minute details. Many of us walked away with our sweet duffle bags and singlets. As you can see, many of us showed our team spirit, but somebody failed to wear his Rogue Tahoe t-shirt!

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.31.09 AM

Carbs were consumed; beer drunk. And before too soon, our weary group turned to their early-morning preparations. Singlets and shorts were laid out with care. GU and Shot Blocks were neatly stacked and stored. Shoes lined up like sentinels by the door. Lunches made. And alarm clocks set. The coffee pot was primed and ready to fly.

Chapter 2 – Who’s On First, What’s on Second?

Before covering the 3 days of running, I want to introduce the cast of our Tahoe tale, as well as define some of the terms used by our runners. Tahoe weekend consists of a variety of races and combination of races. As the name implies, the Tahoe Triple is three consecutive days of marathons sequentially circling the Lake. The Tahoe Trifecta is three consecutive days of Half-marathons, aligned with the marathons. The first two start with the marathoners, while the last day’s Half is staggered in time and start location so that everyone shares the same finish line. The Tahoe Super Triple consists of two consecutive days of marathons (the same two as the Triple) BUT with an all-the-way-around-the-lake ultramarathon of 72.6 miles thrown in at the end. Runners of the Super Triple start their second day with the other marathoners. Then that same evening close to dusk, they gather to complete the ultra marathon distance through the night and into the next day. This is timed to have the marathoners and Ultra runners on the last 26.2 mile course at the same time!

There were several teams of Rogues covering the various distances:

  • Trifecta – Jenny Bowden, Angela McKnight, and Denise Ewers
  • Triple – Carolyn Mangold, Victoria Nickell, Caitlin Rogo, Natasha MacNevin, and Steve Hamilton
  • Super – Michael Wedel

Additionally, Coaches Amy Anderson and Mark Enstone supported the runners as crew for the first two days of running, and then they both raced the last Day 3 marathon.

Michael brought his own crew of Rachel Theriot, who raced the first day marathon with us and won first female (her third ever marathon!) and Chris Chuter, a Rogue working in the Bay Area, who gave freely of his time to support us all on the last day of racing.

Each and every one of these Rogues proved just how AWESOME they are, so many times over, that it is hard to capture in words.

Chapter 3- The Race is On

(Race maps are here: http://runtahoe.com/content/marathons)

Day 1 – Emerald Bay Marathon: http://runtahoe.com/sites/default/files/eb_marathon_map.pdf

The first day started early with The World’s Best Crew Ever™ (coaches Amy Anderson and Mark Enstone) driving us to the Emerald Bay starting line, at the top of (again, very appropriately named!) Inspiration Point. Located at approximately 6850 feet above sea level, it provides an awesome view out over the Lake. In the cool darkness under an almost full moon, we took some pretty amazing pictures.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.31.59 AM

I eyed the other runners: “very competitive and intimidating,” I thought. “A lot of Marathon Maniacs shirts,” I thought. Many seemed to know each other, and were back for their fourth or fifth year in a row. “Who would do that to themselves?” I asked myself.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.34.05 AM

The start of the race leads to a quick and steep descent through a couple of sharp switchbacks, dropping approximately 500 feet in the first three miles. Quickly, we transitioned from road to a quiet trail through the forests around Camp Richardson and Pope Beach (finish line area for Day 3) and into the picturesque residential area around Tahoe Keys and South Lake Tahoe proper.

As a True Believer in negative splits, I enjoyed stopping off to capture photos (along with Jenny, Natasha and Caitlin) of some truly important landmarks (e.g. Texas Avenue). The day was warming nicely as we pulled into Lakeshore Blvd, where the Half finish line along the beachfront looked decidedly inviting.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.35.49 AM

As we pulled out of the half-way point, we started slowly to climb and crossed into Nevada. As the day warmed, we worked our way along the Lincoln Highway, and passed the previous day’s (and soon to be team favorite) breakfast joint at Zephyr Cove. As we climbed away and up, I started to feel the effort. I was somewhat surprised (!!) to find that my body was not responding as usual to my level of effort. By Mile 24, I was not a happy camper. But thanks to the super-human support (and red cheer leader outfits – or was I hallucinating?) of The World’s Best Crew Ever™ and the encouragement of my teammates, I finally made it to the finish line at Spooner Junction; a climb of approximately 700 feet in the last four miles to an elevation of 7067 feet.

Ok, thank goodness that is over! Surely this was my worst day? It could not possibly be worse than that in the future, could it?

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.36.38 AM

As we returned home, we divided up the chores: dinner, laundry, etc., and I made my peace with Day 1. If I was really lucky, I would sleep through the next 48 hours and magically awaken on the flight home, I thought.

Day 2 – Cal-Nevada Marathon:

http://runtahoe.com/sites/default/files/cn_marathon_map.pdf

By some miracle, I woke up the next morning not dead, donned my running shoes, and headed out with the rest of the team to take on Day 2. Luckily for me, the Cal-Nevada marathon is the easiest of the three marathons. We are all familiar with “recovery” runs. But if there is there such a thing, this was our “recovery” marathon.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.37.34 AM

Starting at the finish line from Day 1 at the same 7000 feet mark, the course takes a nice, easy downhill for the first 13.1 miles into the town of Incline Village. As we clicked off miles, we not only enjoyed the views and took some happy-looking pictures, we whiled away the miles with alphabet games to take our minds off the distance (“A is for Alice, an architect, who dates Adam, who lives in Alaska …”) and must have discussed the finer points of my imaginary lunch – macaroni and cheese – for at least a 100 miles.

As we rounded the corner and headed into town, we had to dodge falling pine cones (seriously – the size and weight of coconuts) and headed to the Half finish on … (yes, you guessed it) Lakeshore Blvd (a different one.) By now, I was beginning to recognize the pattern in naming conventions around the Lake.

Lakeshore Blvd, it should be pointed out, is the Waller of Lake Tahoe. It just seemed to keep going and going. And again, the happy smiling Half finish line by the beach was very inviting.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.40.01 AM

As we pulled away from the Half finish, we encountered today’s first hill at Mile 14, and I felt so much better as I passed one of those Marathon Maniacs shirts. As we passed the last few casinos (on the Nevada state line) I crossed back into California, and passed the only Tex-Mex restaurant I saw the entire trip. (Sure, I thought how great a margarita would taste right there and then, but decided that running was my job for the moment.) The next few miles took us through some rolling hills, more reminiscent of Austin, and several small towns. I finally settled into leap-frogging back and forth with one of the other Triplers, Mario from Mexico. Every mile, I would see his wife sitting in her car waiting to offer Mario some water or snacks … and we passed each other multiple times along the next several miles.

People are quite friendly to runners on this route. I often got asked what this “Rogue running thing” was all about, and a young lady and her son (eating ice-cream) asked what race we were running. I felt obliged to catch my breath and explain in detail, all the while eyeing the ice-cream and plotting an exit route should the temptation to grab it out of his hand become too great to resist.

Ice-cream free, I headed into the bustling home stretch along Commons Beach and into the parking lot that marked the finish line for Day 2.

Day 3 – Lake Tahoe Marathon: http://runtahoe.com/sites/default/files/ltm_map.pdf

The Lake Tahoe Marathon is the largest and best-supported marathon of the three-day event. Today, we were crew-less, as Amy and Mark were also racing. Also, it differed in that the Half started 2 hours later at the midpoint. The idea is that everyone will run the same last 13.1 miles to a common finish line on Pope Beach, with the time delay giving the marathoners a chance to see the Half marathoners arrive at roughly the same time. Another interesting twist was that today, the roads would be closed – which we later saw as a huge line of cars and trucks backed up when we got close to the finish line. And last but not least, the course was way harder in the second half than in the first – with two very large hills leading into mile 20, and cresting back at Inspiration Point. (See the course profile below.)

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Before starting, we called our missing team-mate who had broken her ankle and was struggling to recover in time to join us in Tahoe. Unfortunately, despite an amazing effort and spending hours aqua-jogging every day, the doctor forbade her from coming back in time for this event. So, just to make sure she knew we missed her, we gave her a call before the start on this last day.

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We started on wet grass amid sprinklers … and headed out to the Mile 26 marker. What? Oh, yes, on the last day, mile markers count backwards J Actually, I now wish this was true on all future marathons. This was such a great boost at mile 20.2 when I saw the Mile 6 marker. (Backward math, at 7000 feet, and after running up bloody great big hills during your last marathon, is quite difficult I will have you know!) The first 13.1miles was cool and shaded. I had a great race plan: run the fun stuff, and walk the big hills! So I stretched out and ran the first Half at a nice pace, passing many of the marathoners along the way, and knowing they would probably pass me as I struggled up the hills.

At about the 18 Mile marker (about 8 miles in) I saw Michael and Rachel, with crew member Chris. It was great to see Michael who was into the last portion of his all-the-way-around-the-Lake ultra. I got to hear about the bear adventures and catch up with how things were going. Soon after, we parted ways, and while I could not see Michael, I knew he must have been close, as I saw Chris at the side of the road with his buffet of snacks and drinks many times over the next few miles. Thanks Chris for the potato chips and ice! Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.42.59 AM

The first climb comes with warning signs and bagpipes. And as I got to the top of the first hill, I saw Denise and asked how the other Trifecta ladies were doing. Then it was down the hill to Emerald Bay and the Castle, with some amazing photo opportunities along the way. This part of the course is probably the most scenic, and hardest, as it leads back up the second hill to Inspiration Point at about mile 20 (or Mile 6). Again, I stopped at the top to take photos and eat some jelly beans.

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While the last six miles of any marathon is tough, I thought that it would be literally downhill from this point to the finish line at Pope Beach. I slowly worked my way down the switchbacks that had been so much fun the first day, and made it to the trail. Very luckily for me, both Natasha and Caitlin caught up with me over this fairly flat last portion of the course. It seemed to me that random people would shout, “Triplers coming through!” as we slowly closed those last couple of miles.

As we turned onto the last-last-last “just around the corner”, it was such a relief. We crossed the finish line holding hands … and then had to back up and do it again for the photographer to catch the moment!

Ahead of us, Amy, Mark and Michael had great finishes. We all regrouped on the beach, cooled off our sore feet in the soothing Lake, and gathered our bling before heading back to the condo and started to celebrate.

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That evening, we headed out to celebrate with pizza and beer (and there may have been several cookies too!) We all ended up by the beach around an open fire – the perfect ending to Day 3.

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Chapter 4 – Au Revoir Lake Tahoe

If you have run a marathon, you are probably familiar with the thought process that I now went through: I am never ever doing that again! And just as I did after my first ever marathon, I thought I would never want to train or race another marathon ever again, no matter have the desire to improve my time or train for one with hills! But, as you all know, those fleeting thoughts are quickly replaced with, when can I do that again? I could have done X so much better. And I could train like …. So, as we packed up and made ready to leave – after one last, HUGE breakfast at Zephyr Cove – I slowly realized that I would be back one day. Recovery has been slow, and so far, I am feeling great. And the response from the rest of the Rogue community has been outstanding. No, I really do not feel #badass, but sincerely, thank you for that anyway. I am more amazed by the accomplishment of everyone else who ran; the smooth execution and planning by our Fearless Leader, Carolyn; and the amazing support form Mark, Amy and Chris, without which everything would have been impossible. Even as we talk about the trip among ourselves, it still feels somewhat mystical and dream-like. “Hard to believe” just seems too flat an expression to capture the totality of the experience. And, importantly, it has reset expectations on my own capabilities and limits.

So, if someone offers you a “triple” one day, I hope you will stop and take the time to seriously consider it. Sure, it requires a little specialized training. But I believe anyone in the Rogue community is capable of training for and running a Triple. Yes, you. I mean you.

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