Tuesday, November 19, 2013

(That Was Sort of Me on TV at) Rio del Lago 3.0

This was my 5th time running this race, but the last time I had run it was 5 years ago.  I missed all three races with Molly Sheridan directing.  I was looking forward to running these trails northeast of Sacramento after so long.  Julie Fingar of Norcal Ultras took over this year, moving the date to November, a much less impacted time on the Ultra calendar.  My older son had his Norcal State Cup soccer tournament nearby the same weekend, so I would be convenient to stick this run in.  I would still get to see him play the more important matches on Sunday.

Course Changes

To quote David Byrne,
You may ask yourself, well, "How did I get here?"
--at my 1st 100 mile run ever, Rio del Lago, September 2005
photo purchased from Joe McCladdie

The original route started at a Cavitt Middle School in Granite Bay, went up almost 30 miles to Cool for one loop, then returned to the school at mile 67.  The last third of the course went south, making a 16.5 mile fishhook around the southern part of Lake Natoma before returning to the school the same way.  Since my last running (I think at least some of these changes came in 2010), the butt-kicker climb up K2 to Cool was ditched.  The 8 mile loop at Cool this year was modified, the aid station on the loop ditched, and the loop repeated in the opposite direction.  There were some other changes to the aid stations too.  Finally the 33 mile southern route was replaced with a repeat out and back north two aid stations and 11 miles to Horseshoe Bar and back.

old course map (though 2008)

current course map

While I miss the southern 33 mile section, not minding running on pavement close to Interstate 50 (it often had a surreal quality to it), it was easy to get confused and off course.  Logistically, I can see the advantages of eliminating 5 extra aid stations.

I Probably Should Work on Improving My Speaking in Public About Running 100 Miles

* (Missed) Opportunity 1:

Pre-Race Meeting on Friday:  Whoever was speaking (I missed the introductions) asked the experienced 100-mile veterans for tips to give the newbies.  Ray Sanchez, Clyde "the Glide" Aker, Catra Corbett (this would be her 99th) gave their tips ("have fun" a common theme).  I think people were expecting me to volunteer since I've done more than a few of these, but I was feeling frazzled, having arrived late due to traffic after having to attend a long, often painful meeting all morning.  Where to begin?  My guardian angel was screaming in my ear "DON'T SAY ANYTHING-- YOU WON'T MAKE ANY SENSE, IT WON'T BE FUNNY!!!"  Fortunately, I listened.

but then I still manage to look like a dork, by Chris Jones

* (Forced) Opportunity 2:

At Rattlesnake Bar aid station, mile 13, and also the first drop bag location.

I come in knowing what I have to do, not just getting my bottle refilled, but also dropping my headlamp into my drop bag and taking out my hat.  Dasie Yamagata was there crewing for her husband Kuni, and offered to help.

Next thing you know, this guy was sticking a big camera into my face, and this woman

was asking me "So what it is like to run 100 miles?" Maybe I was thinking about it too much, but how the hell can anyone answer that question in a pithy sound bite?  I assumed she must be with the race or something, so I muttered something about how this is a bad habit I do too much.  Guess I didn't answer the question, so she asked me again, and I maybe I answered her question.

Only then did I happen to look down and saw the big 3 with the rainbow peacock logo on her microphone.  Crap, she's from the real media!

I muttered that my wife would kill me if she saw me wearing a bandana coming out the back of my cap.  She really hates that, regardless of the UV protection it might provide.

I had to spell my name to her-- twice.  I am pretty sure I spelled it correctly, but maybe something got lost in translation.  I guess she doesn't know Japanese....

by Tara Penders
As I fled the aid station, I looked back, the camera man still pointing his huge bazooka-camera at me.  "I love you Mom!"

There is no way they are using any of that, I thought to myself.

Click here to watch me on the news!   The best line:  "Keeping a healthy habit going for generations..."

If you don't wanna waste time with the video, brief written blurb:
Sacramento athletes take part in 100-mile run

Brief Conversations with Mr. and Ms. Victorious

Chris Wehan has been winning numerous Inside Trail races this past year.  Since he's so fast, I only recently met him.  Chris paced himself really smartly the first 10 miles, allowing me to chat with him some.  It was interesting to meet someone more wimpy with the cold than I-- he had a much thicker jacket and full length tights on.  Chris took off before Horseshoe Bar aid station (mile 11) and won the race with more than a 90 minute lead.  Awesome, job, Chris!

Chris after winning Dirty Dare 25k three weeks earlier
I thought the lead woman would be Kelly Lance, when I saw the name show up on the registered runner list, but didn't bother to notice the "M" by his name (he would finish 2nd overall).  Coming out of No Hands Bridge on the return from Cool, mile 50, the actual female leader, Erika Lindland, caught up with me as I caught up with John (Jack) Finn.  We lost John, and I chatted a bit with Erika (whom I'd never me before).   I left her behind at Auburn Dam aid station (about mile 54).  Erika would win the women's race decisively (and beat me by 8 minutes). 

Erika with Karl Hoagland
from Western States 2011 in fb
since I didn't manage to get a picture of her at Rio
I didn't run that long with either of them, but the take home point is that if you are fast and slow down and chat with me for a while, I may magically transfer to you the mojo that will help you win the race.

The End of Rechargeable Batteries for Headlamps

So, while I was with Chris earlier in the race, shortly after we left the 1st aid station, my Petzl Myo XP headlamp started flashing the low battery warning.  This made it very hard to run, and so I had to keep up with Chris to get a sense of what the terrain was like up ahead, but essentially I was running half in the dark.

I had another Petzl headlamp with 3 rechargeable AA batteries in them at Auburn Dam.  Just like that morning, these also started to go out after only 40 minutes.  Ugh!  Erika caught up with me, with her then pacer Bob Gilbert.  Bob felt pity for me and lent me his spare headlamp.  Thanks, Bob, you saved me!  Still, it was a smaller headlamp, so I was slightly vision impaired. I brought my Petzl Nao which uses a rechargeable USB charged unit, but it was at Beals Point.  Later I passed this guy with an orange shirt who was struggling a little, and in passing told him my story of my headlamp and being saved by the guy pacing the 1st place woman.  "Yeah, that was me," Bob Gilbert informed me.  Major Duh!  But at least I got to thank him again.

Soccer Dads and Pacing Fails

As I mentioned, this same weekend was the Norcal State Cup soccer tournament, in which my older son's team was competing.  The dad of my son's teammate recently took up ultrarunning, so even though I normally don't go around looking for pacers, I figured I would invite him along.  I told him if I ran well, maybe I'd finish under 20 hours, so he figured he would show up at Beal's Point before the last out and back at mile 78 at 8:30 pm.  When it became apparent that I was going to most likely come in much earlier than that, I asked Dasie Yamagata at Cool to text my wife to tell him probably 7 to 7:30, as early as 630, but I think she punched in the number wrong since it never made it.

Meanwhile, my friend Ben was following the webcast anyway, and thinking the same thing-- better show up much earlier.  Unfortunately, my wife, who really doesn't really know how I run these things, told him-- "No, Ben, don't sweat it-- he's going to slow down, really, I'm sure.  I really wouldn't rush to get there so early."

So when I arrived at Beal's, a few volunteer's thought they had seen my potential pacer, but in reality it was probably Ultrarunning magazine's new editor Erika Lindland's boyfriend and end-of-race pacer, Karl Hoagland, who I'd asked to deliver some stuff I no longer needed on the trail and put it with my awesome Victor Ballesteros designed Victory Sportdesign drop bag.  The announcer called out Ben's name a few times, but no one showed up.  He ended up missing me by less than 10 minutes, and was quite crestfallen, apparently, since he was pumped up for his first 100-mile pacing stint.  My wife has since apologized to him for the misinformation. Well, next time....

Changing Goals

The only real race goal I had was finishing with enough time to nap if needed so I could safely drive back the half hour to Sacramento, take a shower, nap some more and be able to watch my son's soccer game at 8:30 am.   Once sub-20 (which would cover the above) became highly likely, I was hoping for sub-18, especially since I've never finished a race in the 17 to 18 hour range (one sub-17, two 18-19 hour finishes).  As that slipped the idea of finishing before midnight seemed intriguing.  Then I realized that thinking too much about that goal was decreasing the amount of FUN I was having, which both Ray and Catra told the newbies to make sure they had during the race.  Fun first!  Also, no one really cares or notices if you finish below or above 19 hours.  And for better or for worse, getting chicked really doesn't bother me much.  I guess if I hadn't gotten off course right after the last aid station (leading several others 22 miles behind me partially with me) and didn't have my light battery problem twice, I could've finished under 19 hours and also finished 5th overall and not just 5th male overall, but really, I'm so much less fixated on place than I was, say five years ago.

About my son-- after losing both games on Saturday, I got to see my son's team win both on Sunday, the second one in overtime penalty kicks.  Apparently, it was only the last game that determined whether they would advance to the next weekend, which still makes no sense to me.  

As soon as I came into the finish line, I must have been swerving (this happens when I push it to the finish), and I was ushered into the medical tent, where I happily laid down on a cot, put my feet up on a chair and was served an awesome vegetable soup and ginger ale by Dasie Yamagata.  Sarah Lavender Smith said hi and took this photo of me, catching all the crotch lube soaking though my shorts.  (Lube, not some gross bodily fluid!)

Regarding my shiny pants in the above photo-- I had forgotten to relube at Auburn Dam on the outbound, mile 24, and started to chafe going up to Cool.  And of course I didn't carry any lube on me.  I was literally grabbing my crotch to ease the friction.  So for the rest of the day, I was zealous about applying the Vaseline, which oozed all over my shorts.

race report on Massanutten 100, when I had my worst lube fail to date:

At the finish area, a U2 concert video was playing on a large screen, so I half-dozed off for maybe 15-30 minutes listening to their great live music.  (There is nothing bad to hear "Bad" blaring loudly right after finishing a 100-mile race.)  The atmosphere at the finish area was indeed quite festive, a huge improvement over the fluorescent lighting of Cavitt Middle School the 4 times I ran the race from 2005 to 2008.  The award ceremonies were eventful, but it did make for a long weekend (we wouldn't leave Granite Bay until early afternoon).

picking up a Masters award from then RD and race founder Norm Klein, 2007

Schwag Old and New

I used to get 2 to 3 of these little statuettes every year when Norm Klein directed the race.  We didn't have any space at my old house to put them, so they stayed in a box.  Our new house we moved into last year has more outside patio and yard space, so I keep them out there now.

grouped together for photo:  a deer, a mountain lion and her cubs, two eagles and a bunch of bears
the print on two of them saying what the award was for faded in the sun-- whoops
I think there are two more not pictured.
If these weren't large enough, here is the Race Director herself six years ago with her humongous prize for winning the women's race.

This year: medal for all finishers.  RD Julie Fingar hadn't mentioned the buckle on the website, but she apparently had enough leftover from the previous year when Molly Sheridan still directed it, so we also got buckles too-- the buckle is a sub-24 hour one too.  Will Julie give out buckles next and following years too?

with the formidable & indefatigable Ray Sanchez, who finished 3rd overall
official race video (I got into this one too!)

 by Ultra Sports Live.

Thanks, volunteers, and great job NorCal Ultras!


John Nguyen said...

Congrats on another speedy 100 mile finish! Mike Ganaka! Too funny!

Paige said...

Nice report, Mark! My husband and I were two of the runners that followed you off course near your finish, lol. I'm blaming it on someone else though, and my flustered state :) It was a great race this year, for sure! Congratulations!

Sasha Waring said...

Hey awesome finish Mark! I had a great time chatting for some early miles at the Berkeley Trail Adventure, before I split off for the 35K course. The fact that you find time for so many long races while balancing 2 kids and a doc job has definitely increased my excitement about doing the same with my similar commitments. Running North Face 50K in December and I hope to see you on a longer course in 2014. - Sasha

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your fine finish @ Rio. your lube photo is still cracking me up! RdL was my very 1st 100. i signed up because i knew Julie as RD the event would be outstanding and well supported/ and organized! She's the best:)! You would laugh @ ALL the stuff i had my poor husband & Crew transport to Aid stations...i did pack Tri Slide spray lube, and packets of Sports shield! (recommended by running pals) worked like a charm No chaffing! p.s. we were crossing our finger today for WS...i can't believe your ticket wasn't pulled :( #6 golden ticket maybe Yours for 2015! Happy trails! Still amazed how you balance family life, ERdoc and ultra running!
-patty shijo

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Shame on me for not responding here to your nice comments, John, Paige, Sasha and Patty. Thanks so much. Patty, guess they finally changed the Western States algorithm, though still might take me a few more years. Hope everyone is having a great New Year! Pray and/or dance for more rain and snow.