Brea Ane Hylan had a good reason for wanting to run 72 miles. She says it makes running 26 miles seem so much easier.
Hylan, 29, was the first female and one of 10 to finish the Lake Tahoe Ultra Marathon last month (20 women entered the event). She completed the 72 miles around the lake in 16 hours, 2 seconds, just 2 seconds over the 16-hour allotted time frame.
Hylan, who was a competitive swimmer at Carson High in the 1990s, started in triathlons as a way to lose weight about 21/2 years ago. She quickly regained her competitive edge, but found she was lagging in the running portion.
“I was thinking, ‘Hey, if I can do 72 miles, a marathon will be nothing,'” Hylan said. “I’m doing marathons on weekends to train for it. My goal coming in to do 72 miles was to make a marathon seem easy.”
Hylan trained for the ultra marathon by running five days a week — on weekends, she ran for six hours and up to 28 miles a day — for almost three months beforehand.
Next, she plans to run a marathon in December from Auburn to Sacramento.
“Twenty-six miles seems like nothing to me now. It’s so nice to be back in shape again,” Hylan said. “I’ve got that competitive drive back.”
After high school, Hylan swam for UC Davis for two years, then transferred to Nevada to finish her degree. She lives in Reno and works at Intuit as a software programmer.
Although she started competing in triathlons as a way to lose weight after having a baby, Hylan has another source of motivation.
Her mother, Bernie Barbera, is fighting lung cancer. Barbera raced bicycles when she was younger.
“She wants to do triathlons one day, too,” Hylan said. “I was thinking, ‘I have my health and I can go out and do stuff and she can’t.’ She’s going through the fight of her life. It gives me inspiration watching her fight this battle.”
Her parents and a couple of friends provided support on her trek around Lake Tahoe. They drove behind her at night to provide light, then ran and/or bicycled with her.
Hylan ran the first 40 miles, then walked for a bit, then mostly ran the last several miles.
“It was pretty exciting. I didn’t think I would finish,” Hylan said. “But I didn’t want to tell people that I quit. It was tough. I almost quit. But I had a very good support crew behind me. They gave me encouragement.”
In addition to motivation, the support crew helped keep her muscles loose and provided her with nutrition every hour.
Barbera said her daughter previously had a mental block about running a marathon.
“She said, ‘If I can complete 72 miles, then a marathon will be piece of cake,'” Barbera said. “She wasn’t sure if she could actually finish. It was her first time going that far of a distance.”