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


Anonymous said...

Sounds like everything about your RDL race was cursed, right down to the race report.

Donald said...

Yikes! What a mess. Easy to see how runners get confused out there.

Bummer about the lost report. I learned that the hard way a couple of times, too.

Cynical Mud Babe said...

Did you hear the Keystone Kops theme music in your head while running? 'cuz that's what I was hearing while reading your report. What a mess! I hope the second part of the race got better.. I'm waiting anxiously!

Gretchen said...

Boy, you really know how to leave your readers hanging Mark. Are you sure you're not doing this on purpose?
Anxiously awaiting part III,