I had Rio Del Lago 100 (RDL) in my mind as a backup if I didn’t finish the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 (TRT), but after not even coming close to finishing TRT, I thought that maybe 100 miles was something I just couldn’t do.
I was encouraged by knowing that Kristin had finished it last year, so I added RDL to the watch list just in case. As the race began to fill up, I signed up.
Maybe the third time would be a charm in trying to finish a 100 miler, and with less elevation gain, and at low elevation, the chances were better than TRT. I saw Alex and Sean (Alex’s pacer) at the start, and coach Peter, while we all waited in the dark for the start. A headlamp would be needed for nearly 2 hours.
With less time to finish than TRT, I couldn’t walk as much, but tried to walk for a minute every mile to be sure to drink and take in a GU every couple of miles and not build up lactic acid. GN passed me and I stayed near her for a while, but kept to my mile plan walking. The rain started about mile 9, and my Houdini jacket didn’t keep out the water, so I changed into a dry shirt when returning back to Beals. The pavement portion (first 20 miles) went quickly and I did feel a bit of strain in the right hip, but after getting on the dirt trails, it went away and I forgot about it. As I was crossing the road before the Rattlesnake Bar station, it was nice to see the familiar faces of Jill and John Trent going to crew for their daughter, who later passed me going up Cardiac Hill walking easily and talking.
Another shirt change at Rattlesnake, then meeting Diane at Overlook for the last change into a long sleeve wool shirt and a more waterproof jacket, which I was happy I did since it started raining steadily again about an hour later, after the crossing at 49 after No Hands Bridge. There along the river, the sun was setting and we got to see a gorgeous scattered cloud covered sunset to the west and a rainbow to the east.
The trail became muddier after Overlook and there were many muddy sections with puddles, not as much as on the Way Too Cool course last year at least and no deep creek crossings. In the dark, it was hard to see where we were, I was so glad to have Diane keeping me company. I had finished the first third in just over 8 hours, so was thinking that now I had 11 hours for each of the next thirds, it was a little over 10 for the next one, so it felt good to have 12 hours for the last 33+ miles, even with all the climbs, Goat Hill was the grueling section, steep, muddy and very slippery. We arrived back at Overlook and I changed out for my socks and mud caked shoes, then got moving again with Lesley as my pacer.
I had been taking in Tailwind and GU’s, that seemed to work well for the first TRT attempt, I did get a bit nauseous when I thought I wasn’t taking in enough and then was able to eat some tortillas and avocado. I tried eating more food at TRT this year and it didn’t go well, intestinal problems caused me to drop out at mile 69. I did eat a few potatoes and occasional part of a peanut bar this time and I tried to eat some sweet potato chips I had brought in my drop bags, but after the first attempt to eat a bag of them over 5 miles, I didn’t try another bag, eating and walking were just too time consuming and hard to get the food down. Alternating Tailwind and GU’s seemed to be working. I had just water in my hydration bag and sipped that with the Gus. I don’t like most of the flavors of the GU, but found some at Overlook that were chocolate peanut butter with caffeine that were wonderful, I packed several in both times stopping there, and would eat one everytime I thought I couldn’t eat another of the other flavors. I also carried salt tablets, only used them the first time through Overlook when I noticed my hands looked a bit swollen.
We moved along at a steady pace, even passing people, as the sun was up it had stopped raining long ago. We saw Julia cheering on the course with 9 miles to go and were happy to be almost done, but a mile later I started to do the lean to the right that had taken me out at the first TRT. I kept going, there wasn’t any pain again, just tight back muscles and not being able to stay upright for long, I kept stopping to stretch my back was we went even more slowly and people started passing us.
My 12 hours was being used up quickly and I worried about getting to the finish at all. Lesley coaxed me along: stop to stretch, walk a bit and repeat. For the last mile it became impossible to even be upright, so I put my hands on my thighs to support my back and found I could move more quickly that way. We missed the turnoff back up to the levy to the finish line and kept going on the trail to the road, where the Haen family happened to be driving by and directed us back to the course, which added extra distance. Abe Haen had finished many hours earlier, and they had come back to see the end.
I got to the finish with 18 minutes to spare, just happy to have made it in at all, as one of the last finishers, but also as the oldest woman and the only one in my age group.
Many, many thanks to my wonderful pacers, Diane and Lesley, who got me to the finish before the cutoff.
Gear: The things that worked for me were the Altra Olympus shoes, Drymax socks (no blisters, but a little chaffing on the tops of my feet underneath the ties and a little on one heel that I didn’t even feel when running). I did put lube on my toes and feet at the start and other places likely to have friction. The waist lamp that Lesley gave me and that she wore also was great, the light didn’t move as much as a headlamp, that I also wore, and was closer to the ground and bright. The last minute purchase of Solomon shell gloves that were waterproof and breathable, were a great recommendation by coach Peter. They kept my hands warm and dry and had a slit in the palm to easily use the fingers without taking them off. They didn’t overheat and kept the wind off later in the race.