Tuesday, October 28, 2008

RDL Stands for Many Things Part 2...Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Run

Among those with whom I start running the race are Jean Pommier, Michael Kanning, Joe Swenson, and Beverly Anderson-Abbs (doing the Sierra Nevada 53 Mile Endurance Run-- she says she's been having ITB problems since Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile in July). Not even a mile into the trail, there is a large ribbon running across the trail with small signs pointing up a narrow single-track to the left.

RDL = Right Direction, Lost

My instincts tell me this isn't right, but being sleepy and tired from a tough schedule the past week, and the hectic day yesterday, I'm confused more than alarmed. As our lemming-like momentum leads us up to the left, I ask aloud "Is this the way?"

To which Bev replies emphatically "yes!" Perhaps her eliteness furthers our misimpression that this is the right way to go. We climb, I become more doubtful, since I don't ever remember such a tortuous, narrow path so early in the course. Plus, I had followed Bev off course early in this year's Rucky Chucky. As my doubt grows, I slow down, and they seem to speed up. I finally stop to look closely at the signs in the light of my headlamp. "MTB" they all read.

"Hey guys, it's the wrong way! Come back!"

They are out of earshot, or maybe talking amongst themselves. Joe Swenson and I and a few others for whom I feel almost responsible head back down to the real course, in which we find ourselves in the mid-rear pack.

I discuss with a few others whether those that kept going up the errant mountain bike race trail would gain or lose time in the detour; one who lives locally thinks they are effectively taking a shortcut. Only time would tell.

I was looking forward to pacing with Michael and Jean, but, at least it's a long race and chances are a few minutes would be inconsequential. From the wrong turn I run several miles with Jimmy Dean Freeman, from Southern California, who doesn't have a light so asks to bum off mine.

Jimmy Dean the next day, being photographed by his wife Kate.

It's good conversation. Without trying to lose him, I leave him after the first aid station, Twin Rocks (mile 4).

RDL = Ruined Day? Laughable

I never see the others, and keep wondering if they're way ahead or way behind. It's hard to shake off my self-directed irritation at getting off course so early in the race, when really I have no excuse-- this is my fourth straight year running this. Also Norm warned us in the race booklet to only follow arrows chalked on the ground with "RDL" next to them or pink ribbon. He also warned us of the mountain bike race that often goes on the same weekend, and which I had noticed in the past.

Eventually I force myself to completely get over it. After all, this beats work, or getting here in traffic after working all morning yesterday. It's been hard enough to find time to run 2-3 hours-- today I was going to run in beautiful surroundings ALL DAY, and not even have to worry about mixing my own sports drink, since all these great volunteers were there to help us. All good, right?

As I kick into a groove, and try not to worry about if and when I'll see any particular runners again, I notice that the trail I'm on keeps climbing and climbing, and that I no longer see the waterto my right. I'm thinking I could be off course, but it's not totally clear, and I'm not convinced if I start backtracking that I'll figure it out either. So I keep going and going, until I see a paved road up ahead after I've climbed quite a bit.

Crap. Strike 2. Bigger miss, because it's completely my fault and I alone have lost an even larger hunk of time and energy.

RDL = Repeated Directional Loss (or Real Dumb, Loser!)

I head back down, and estimate I've added at least two-thirds a mile, almost all inclined. I notice the ribbons I had missed to the right and spot runners, with whom I resume my flow.

Soon, I see up ahead a group of runners, which includes course record holder and 3-time winner Jon Olsen and Bev. They tell me they think Jean and Michael are ahead, but not sure.

After passing through the next aid station, Horseshoe Bar (mile 10), I notice we're climbing up a steep incline that again doesn't look or feel right. When I noticed Ray Sanchez has passed through an opening in a chain-link fence, I'm sure we're off course and shout (authoritatively-- I've learned to trust my instincts better and more decisively) that we're all going the wrong way, turn back. We head back down and then find the pink ribbons.

RDL = Ribbon Difficult to Locate

Apparently a tree had fallen right across the trail. As much as I appreciate the volunteers who marked the course, this area probably could've been marked a lot more generously, as there wasn't even a question that we might be taking a wrong turn when we went left.

At the next aid station, Rattlesnake Bar (mile 12), I take some time to get my hat, cheap schwag sunglasses courtesy of ING, and put away my headlamp. I lose Jon and Bev and others doing this. Jimmy Dean catches up with me and we enjoy each other's company again for a few miles. Eventually (and again unintentionally) I lose him and I'm running alone again. After Power Plant (mile 14), a semi-aid station with only bottles of water, I come to a stream crossing, hesitate, but not long enough as my right foot goes deep into the water.

RDL = Right Leg Drenched

Which wouldn't bother me so much except that my foot doesn't dry and I start to feel the ball of the 1st metatarsal rubbing with each step. When I catch up with a couple of runners heading up the first long steep hill, Cardiac, my survey reveals that I shouldn't have gotten my foot soaked. Another further confirmation that this just wasn't my day.

At Auburn Dam aid station (mile 23) I see Joe's wife Debbie for the first time. Although I had told her that her primary job was to crew for her husband, I would welcome any help she could give me if Joe was close enough behind me so she would see me. As it turned out, I saw her all day, and she always brought me my drop boxes. Thanks again!

I take off my shoe and sock and figuring that a regular bandaid wasn't going to stick, tear off a piece of duct tape a volunteer finds.

Another use for duct tape! I head down toward No Hands Bridge (mile 27), the turnaround half-way point for the shorter 53-mile Sierra Nevada race, feeling like I have rice stuck under my foot, an often-felt sensation at home, since both my wife and I come from rice-eating cultures and both my kids eat in a manner in which the rice ends up on the floor. Eventually I get used to it. More importantly, the tape-fix works to prevent an all-out blister.

I feel like after a fairly rough morning of wrong turns and other minor mishaps, the rest of the run will go a lot smoother.....maybe I can catch up with Jean and Michael.....

first published Tuesday October 28, 2008 at 4 pm, after losing my entire amost finished report covering the entire race

link to the next and final part, published almost 11 months later

Oh, ph***!!!

Okay, I was about to polish off and finish my Rio Del Lago race report, to find that when I highlighted a section of text to delete, I actually highlighted almost all of the report.  Then that autosave function kicked in.

I ask for no sympathy.

Is any of this retrievable?  My Mac has a time machine function on it, but it appears this only allows me to retrieve what's saved on my computer, not what's saved in cyberspace (on blogger).

Monday, October 27, 2008

British Mountain Run Stormed Out

I generally don't post news notes like this on my blog, but noticed this on Yahoo while up all night working, so in case you haven't seen it and you're interested. As satisfying a post as a little poot when I feel really bloated and want to rip a loud, smelly fart.

Runners camp, sleep in barns as floods cancel race

What's it with European trail runs?-- they're so large (2,500 participants).

Not sure I'd be excited about doing trying to run a race carrying a sleeping bag either.

I'm pretty sure it dumped way more than 2.5 inches during this year's Kettle Moraine, but I guess my race wasn't at altitude.

(btw, I'm still sporadically working on my Rio del Lago report. Not that anyone's going to read it this late.....but true to the ultrarunning spirit, better to finish late than DNF.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ultrarunning Notes from Kona, a Sort-Of Ironman Interlude

Yeah, I'd rather finish my Rio 100 Mile Report, but....

You know you are an ultrarunner when.....(#348: You find yourself during a long layover calculating how many laps of the airport terminal you need to run to get to 50 kilometers)

The convenience of a ride to the airport rather than schlepping luggage for 4 including 2 carseats and a double stroller via off-airport parking is quickly neutralized by the flight, in which our younger lap-child stays neither on my wife's lap nor mine. Maybe my wife will make us pay for another seat next time.

At Honolulu's inter-island terminal, my first experience with the post-ATA-Aloha Airlines bankruptcy era. Go! Airlines to Kona, arranged through the medical conference travel agent. Two people working the counter, excruciatingly slow. I finally check in, he tells me the 7:37 pm flight is delayed "a little" and to wait by gate 72. Around 7 pm, an announcement overhead apologizing for delays in more than half the pending flights, including ours, expected departure 9:50 pm. I end up having to take the shuttle to a car rental place because I can't get through to the office in Kona, which closes at 10 pm, to make sure they stay open for our later arrival.

Around 8:40 pm, my younger son wakes up in our Phil and Ted's double stroller (the 2 seats are on top of each other, rather than side to side), had barely gone to sleep. Neither of my kids have had a nap all day, and it's almost midnight Pacific Time. My wife, exhausted (and unhappy-- I guess we could've flown direct for another $700 collectively if I'd booked without using the conference travel agent), is about to take him out, but I quickly offer to stroll him around to try to get him back down. I do 2 circuits of the small terminal waiting room, the crying stops. It occurs to me that for his sake I should keep moving. But walking is so.....boring. I kick off my Keen sandals and start jogging, steering clear of random standing passengers and chairs and another father and son playing catch with a crumpled newspaper. With the row of seats at the far end, I can do a lopsided figure-8 and it takes a full minute.

Might as well try to get a workout in.

After about 15 laps, my older son, who has been rambunctiously playing with another kid, decides to join me running around the terminal. He keeps up the pace, and in fact does so without peetering out after 2 to 3 laps like 2 older boys that also join our little parade. After about 10 laps, he's had it and gets into the bottom seat, his added weight significantly adding to the workout. I proudly figure he almost went a full mile. And totally sleep-deprived!

The flight is further delayed until 10:20 pm. They finally start pre-boarding at 10 pm, so I end up getting a good 75 minutes of running, plus the hectic stroller dissembly and long walk out to the plane. No, I'm not having fun, but there was this epic feeling like mile 87 of a 100 mile race. Exhausted, but more than 2 hours to go and no sleep anytime soon.


Next run not until Tuesday morning. Both my bro-in-law and I are stir-crazy from lack of exercise, and 2 mornings of lectures. The Ironman Sports Medicine Conference we are attending is great, but learning about exercise does not equal exercise. Only 70 minutes, but we push a decent pace. It is interesting seeing so many fit, lithe, intense athletes on an early morning run on vacation.


This computer keeps bombing on me, so I keep losing my additional blurbs, sorry. I think my kids are getting up. I guess this is a hint that should've been running.