'Twas naught but a journey into the mind:
Sights ugly and vistas magnificent.
Resolute steps leaving long miles behind:
A gift from a heart so very gallant.
Came first the pain in the early going,
Then a drooping of the happy spirits;
Will this race end because of this aching?
Thus roamed the mind in negative circuits.
And then the Rock within whispered "I WILL",
And then the faltering steps gained new life,
And then the race was now just a molehill,
And then came fun and games, gone was the strife.
This mind is a wondrous thing I confess:
It is most refulgent under duress!
Date: Sep 23-24, 2007
Race: Rio Del Lago 100M
Location: Granite Bay, CA
I went into this race with an injury I had suffered in the Lean Horse 100M. Two weeks after that race and the pain in my arch, under the navicular bone, had still not gone away. It did not hurt when walking, just when running. It had healed to the extent that the pain was not as sharp when running and, with every passing day, happened later on in a run.
Nevertheless, the pain had not gone completely. After a lot of research, I had come to the conclusion that it was not Plantar Fasciitis but a case of Posterior Tibialis tendonitis. This tendon originates behind the 2 calf muscles and attaches, after passing around the bony projection of the ankle, to the cuneiform, the navicular and a few other bones in the big arch of the foot. Tightness in this tendon was causing pain in the area where it attaches to the navicular.
I went to SMI (http://www. smiweb.org) the Tuesday before the race and Gary worked me over so bad that I was screaming in pain! I stood in their cryogenic tank (water at 53 degres F) after the massage. The masochist that I am, I went back for another session on Thursday.
Friday, Sep 22
Anu had offered not only to drive me to the race but to crew during the day on Saturday in the Auburn Overlook AS (miles 22 & 45) and pace me the last 10 miles (assuming I got to mile 90).
We picked up Nattu Natraj from his hotel in Emeryville and reached Cavitt Middle School, race HQ, around 4:45 p.m.
Norm had just started his briefing. I had myself weighed after the briefing as did Nattu. A whole bunch of us, part of a Yahoo group called the Ultraholics, were running the next day. Michael Kanning, a 15-year old Ultraholic, was running his first 100-miler! Alan Geraldi, Chihping Fu, Anil Rao, Nattu Natraj, Rashmi, Michael and his Dad and Anu and I went for dinner to Pasta Pomodoro and then retired to our respective rooms to try and get enough sleep for the long day and night ahead.
Saturday, Sep 23
(With Anil, Chihping, Nattu and Alan in the hotel parking lot at 5:30 a.m.)
Anu and Rashmi dropped us off to the start at 5:40 a.m. It was still dark but not very cold and we entered the school gym to hear Norm repeat his instructions from the evening before. I met Jennifer Griste here as well as a bunch of other friends. Scott Dunlap looked ready to roll in spite of his injury from the Tahoe 100. Pete Lubbers looked in great shape too. They were both running the Sierra Nevada 53.2 mile endurance run. This race turns around at the No Hands Bridge AS and returns to the school.
The race started in darkness. I trusted my normally poor eyesight to guide me up the incline leading to the levee and it did not fail me. The first 67 miles of the course mostly follow the last 18 miles of the AR50 race and then head towards Cool where the 100 milers run 7 miles on the Olmstead loop. This loop was the course for Nancy Warren's 12-Hours at Cool race earlier in the year (August).
My left arch was feeling good but I stuck to a slow pace. Anil disappeared from view, running with a friend named Todd. I enjoyed myself almost in the back of the pack taking pictures of the course (once the sun came up).
(Smiling John Rhodes, Terry Rhodes and Carol Cuminale)
The Twin Rocks AS came and went as did Horseshoe Bar. I caught up with Anil (he actually slowed down for me!) just after Horseshoe Bar. We made quick work of the 1.9 miles to Rattlesnake before heading out on the long 9 miles to Maidu. This stretch had just one AS (water bottles in the Power Plant, 2 miles from Rattlesnake) and the first of the 2 major climbs in this race - Cardiac Hill as Norm likes to call it.
I twisted my left ankle stepping on a hidden rock and suddenly there was the familiar pain that had haunted me since Lean Horse! All along until then I had been entertaining visions of a pain free race and those visions fled my mind as fast as rats deserting a sinking ship. My normally high spirits wilted. Here was the mother of tests in this race. What should I do? Quit? Walk? Could I walk 70+ miles and still manage not to exacerbate the injury?
The first thing that I felt after those depressing thoughts was the fact that I was going to slow down Anil. I first informed him about my pain and then repeatedly asked him to leave me and continue to run his race at his faster pace.
The amazing friend that he is, he refused. He refused to listen to my logic and insisted that we would do the race together even if it meant that he had to walk with me. I was so moved by his support that I stopped pressing him to run his own race.
The next few miles were spent (a) digging deep, (b) slightly changing my foot strike to minimize the pain and (c) sending positive energy to my ankle.
Approaching the Auburn AS we met Pete Lubbers going back to the school. He was in second place and looking strong.
Anu, in the Auburn Dam AS, learned of my pain and promptly promised to send me all her positive energy from there on out as did Sam (she had called just after the pain started to inquire about my race). Looking back I am sure that it was their love and caring, coupled with Anil's support and kindness, that helped the pain disappear. It did so a few miles out of the Auburn Dam AS going towards Cool.
We met Scott on our way to No Hands. After seeing Pete Lubbers outside the Auburn Dam AS, Anil and I had wondered about how Scott was doing. We soon found out. He was in first place coming into No Hands and had been directed to continue up K-2 and onto Cool by a volunteer. Instead of turning around poor Scott climbed the steep slope and went all the way to Cool before being turned back. Better luck next time Scott.
We did not linger long in the No Hands Bridge AS. We soon found ourselves climbing the dreaded K-2. This is one of the steepest climbs I have ever done in any race I have run in. It is 1.25 miles long and has 6-7 false flats. The flats do, though, give you some respite before the next steep section. Anil and I went up K-2 in the company of Carol Cuminale.
We met Alan about a mile before the Cool AS. He told us about his stomach problems in the first 15 miles of the race! We wished him good luck.
Rashmi, Arul and Abhijit had gotten us pizza from Mountain Mike's that we ate with relish and gusto when we came into the Cool AS at mile 29.
The Olmstead loop was so different this year. It had been hot and dusty last year. Much cooler weather made it a beautiful loop to traverse. It was very runnable and I did a lot of running in that section (mile 29-36). I spent the next 100 minutes with visions of more of the same tasty pizza at mile 36. Sure enough that pizza went down wonderfully well too!
We were back in the Auburn AS (mile 45) around 5:15 p.m. (45 minutes faster than I had reached there last year) and Anu, Sunil Shah and Shekhar Hemnani were their usual loving and helpful selves. We left from there after donning jackets and pciking up flashlight and gloves for the night part of the run.
We would have missed the descent down Cardiac had it not been for Christina Bronson and Diane Vlach who shouted out Anil's name when we overshot the turn. Thank you ladies.
The descent was uneventful. It was in the section towards the Power Plant that we passed Carol Cuminale and her pacer, Karen Hanke. We hugged each other and then continued past them. Anil used the port-a-john in the Power Plant AS and I refilled my water bottle. I had decided to stop drinking the Perpetuem+Heed mixture that I had been drinking all day and start on gels+water.
We could hear the Rattlesnake Bar AS approaching from 400 yards away. Cowbells? It was none other than the 2006-2007 Asha runners who had come out, all 9-10 of them, to crew in Rattlesnake and Cavitt. They too had brought pizza with them and those 3 slices I ate were some of the sweetest tasting slices ever. Thank you CK, Mouli, Chakri, Arpana, Anurag, Gayathri, Vivek, Veena, Divya and Raman. I apologize if I missed someone. You are in my heart and I am eternally grateful for your support and kindness.
We left the AS to find ourselves in Horsehoe Bar not soon afterwards. The next 6 miles had been very tough for me last year. They were no different this time around. It took a lot out of both Anil and me. Vinod, our friend and pacer from TRT, had joined us in the Rattlesnake Bar AS and he too found the going tough.
We finally made it out of there and into Twin Rocks. We did not linger long in Twin Rocks. The road back to the school was all rolling hills. About 0.25 miles from the turnoff leading down to the school, we met Gary Friedle and Rajeev Char heading in the direction we had come from! They were supposed to go south (in the opposite direction) but had missed seeing the signs pointing them that way. We had them on their right way promptly. Apparently Gary had been lost FOR 4 HOURS after the Rattlesnake Bar AS and had come into the school only 30 minutes before us!
The Asha party continued in the Cavitt School AS (mile 67). There were pizza slices galore. I changed into warmer clothing and tights and picked up my first pacer for the rest of the run. Chandramouli who ran his first marathon with Team Asha in 2006. Like Vinod, Chakri and Anu after him, he was an amazing pacer. Ever helpful and concerned about our needs.
(The ever smiling Chandramouli escorting me into the Cavitt Middle School AS, mile 67)
We left the school at 12:15 a.m. 33 miles to go. How long could they take? 10-11 hours tops. They were way flatter than the first 67. They took us another 12 hours and 9 minutes!
Sunday, Sep 24
The section from the school to the Folsom Dam AS and then to Negro Bar was fun. Mouli had run 20 miles earlier (he is running the Marine Corps marathon a month from now) and was now going to cover 10 mile scant 12 hours later. That prompted Anil to urge him to give a 50K race a shot!
We ran some and walked more. The Hazel Bluff AS (mile 77) came surprisingly later than we had counted on. We left it at 3:45 a.m. The Asha crew was there too with the ubiquitous pizza! Mouli handed the pacing duties to Chakri, a 2005 Asha runner. Chakri looked out for all of us. He would make sure that we were together and would slow down for me and wait for me to catch up. We met Alan about a mile after the AS. He had missed checking into Hazel Bluff on his way out to the turnaround. Besides that, his stomach had gone south again and he could not keep anything down. We learned later that he walked the rest of the way to the Finish. Tough, tough man.
The turnaround at Mountain Lion Knoll took an interminably long time to arrive. Along the way there we met Gary and Rajeev Char going back to Hazel Bluff as well as Michael Kanning (he finished a minute behind Alan) and Chihping who looked the worst of the lot. I have never seen him in such a bad state in some of the other races we have run. He was very tired, very sleepy and very hurt. Apparently the new day brought him renewed energy and determination and he finished a few minutes ahead of us.
We crawled our way back to Willow Creek (mile 86) and then in sight of Hazel Bluff. This is where I decided that I had had enough of walking. I ran all the way up the bridge, down the other side and then up the trail that leads into Hazel Bluff. Anil Vaidya, the giving soul that he is, had finished his crewing duties in Cavitt and had come to Hazel Bluff to drop Anu and take pictures of us.
(Running up the incline leading to Hazel Bluff, mile 89)
Anu and the 3 of us (Vinod, Anil and I) left the AS after Anil and I had handed over our night running stuff to Anil Vidya to take back to the Finish. After walking a half mile, we started running. I ran really fast (7:00-7:30 min/mile) the next 1.2 miles just so I could reach the port-a-john and use it as soon as possible. That's how bad my condition was!
The last 8 miles were spent walking slowly from one AS to the next. Our only running was done during the last 0.4 miles leading down to the Finish.
Norm's races are wonderful parties. The volunteers are superb and he and Helen make everyone feel special. Thank you all for this wonderful race.
Congratulations to Carol Cuminale, Alan Geraldi, Michael Kanning, Anil Rao, Chihping Fu, Gary Friedle, Nattu Natraj, Jennifer Griste, Nancy Warren, Wini Jebian, Scott Dunlap and Pete Lubbers for finishing their respective races.
Anil and I are ever grateful to Vinod Vishwanath, Chakri and Chandramouli for pacing us.
What can I say about our crew? They were the most fantastic crew in the world.
Our heartfelt thanks to Anu, Sunil Shah, Shekhar, Rashmi, Arul, Abhijit, CK, Arpana, Anurag, Mouli, Chakri, Gayathri, Vivek, Veena, Raman, Divya, Renuka and Anil Vaidya for their unstinting and ever generous help.