Monday, January 21, 2008

Mt. Rose Marathon: strange acclimation

This is really a strange way to prepare for next week's Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica: running in freezing temperature at 9,000 ft elevation. Next Sunday I will be in the tropical rain forest, with temperatures in the 80s and humidity near the volcanoes, then dry air along the beaches of Guanacaste.

This long Martin Luther King Day weekend, we stayed with our good friends on the North shore of Lake Tahoe, in Incline Village. One of the paradisiacal places on Earth...
Two great days of alpine ski, at Northstar on Friday and Mt. Rose on Saturday.
Sunday was off, to prepare for a party to celebrate Janet's 50th birthday (our hostess).

Off for the boys and Agnès, but I took the opportunity to put a last long run before the Coastal Challenge. The weather was good, getting cloudy and some snow was expected in the afternoon. After Todd checked the distance to Mt. Rose resort (12 miles) and the weather one last time (including the warning for high winds at the summit), I was off by 11am.
The trails are still not cleared after the big storm of two weeks ago. I decided to run on the highway which connects Incline to Reno, through the "highest year-round pass in the Sierra" just below Mount Rose. It is called Mount Rose Highway, or SR 431, and has large shoulders, well cleared apart from some patches of black ice. I always run against traffic, but paid even more attention to the numerous and big cars, as Todd told me about this runner and local resident who got killed on this highway, a hit and run, such a shame.

The first 5 miles up to the lookout over the Lake were fine. I started getting cold and could barely feel my fingers by mile 9. Fortunately, I had taken with me some petty cash with a special idea in mind: a hot chocolate at the main lodge. Much welcomed to warm up, as well as the 10 minutes I spent next to the fire place in the hallway. After this short break it was time to get back uphill to the summit (3 miles) and it didn't take long before the warm was gone and my hands froze again as I was now running against the wind, reported with 50 to 60 mph gusts. I had to put my Buff on my face and it was freezing with the moisture. Even my Ultimate Direction bottle froze and made drinking a challenge. Despite such a blizzard, the snow showers were sparse and I was lucky to get some sun between the dark clouds. The sun rays were providence and much appreciated. The temperature then became bearable as I passed the 8,000 ft elevation mark on the way down. Back in Incline Village I ran across town and Todd and Janet's neighborhood to make the run right on 26.2 miles. For the right to name it the "Mt. Rose Marathon..." My very own and private marathon as, not surprisingly, I didn't see any other runner or biker braving the elements on the Mt. Rose Highway that Sunday.
This is very far from acclimating to Costa Rica, although the profile has some volcanic flavor, hasn't it?

In the evening, we got this surprise party for Janet and Janet didn't see it coming! We were joined by Kim (Janet's best friend, from college) and her husband Jim, who drove up from Santa Rosa for the night. Then John, Stacey and their three kids and Stephanie. John and Stephanie are runners (marathons for John and ultras for Stephanie) so running was part of some conversations.
This Monday morning we had planned to (cross-country) ski at Royal Gorge. It was an opportunity to meet with Stéphane again, whom I ran with in Rouen a week ago. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperative and the perspective of having to put the chains on on highway 80 canceled this project. For the joy of the boys who had one more day in Incline to play with their friends Kristen and Corine.

Time to drive down to the Bay, go back to work for a short week, before flying down to Costa Rica on Saturday. For a week of "Pura Vida!" And, in default of acclimation to the heat, with the benefit of altitude training.


Unknown said...


Running in France, Tahoe, and Costa Rica, you are truly a global runner!

p.s. If you could add me to the weekly run newsletter it would be appreciated. Email-

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...


That sounds like a great run! Running in adverse conditions when nobody else is out is my favorite.

Good luck in Costa Rica. I'm sure you know already, but fellow runner/blogger Greg is running this event as well.

Have fun and I look forward to your race report(s)!


Peter Lubbers said...

Good luck in Costa Rica, Jean!
We were at Northstar last weekend as well -- we were XC skiing while the kids were snowboarding. The Mount Rose Marathon is a great idea, That is a steep climb!

Jeffery Rogers said...


Best of luck in Costa Rica. I had the opportunity to live there for four months some time ago. You'll love it. It does get humid and buggy down on the coast so be prepared.

All the best.


Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

I imagine it's going to be a little warmer in Costa Rica.

Good luck--you're going to have a lot of fun, and might even win!

Jean Pommier said...

Thanks for the wishes and encouragements, guys. Almost ready to fly down there. Will see which connectivity we'll have and if I can send reports during the week. Hope the TCC website will provide updates.

With 33 participants in the Expedition version, I think the spirit will be more about enjoying the back country rather than competition. We'll see how it turns out, and how many pictures I'll shoot...

In the meantime, enjoy the rain and the mud in the Bay Area, at last!