Monday, October 8, 2012

Rio del Lago 100k: Recap

I love new race distances. No matter what, it's a PR race. I PR'ed my 100k this weekend. Nevermind that I finished about 2 hours off my target time - but what was I really thinking?! I had no idea what I was getting into.

The 3:20am wake-up hurt a little. I was still incredibly full from eating my weight in pasta and sourdough the day before (even though I knew better) so breakfast wasn't really happening. Butterflies in my belly were, however, definitely happening.
With Peter and Laura. I procrastinated putting my bib # on...
That would mean it was really happening.
As we got to the start line and I watched the 100milers take off, stuff started getting very real. I force-fed myself a bagel and banana for good luck, drank some water, found a new BFF called Dagny (my crew, Peter's, adorable dog) and off I went to line up.

Still smiling @ the start
The first few miles were relatively uneventful. I got to know some fellow runners, we kept an easy pace and I tried not to think about the fact that I will be running from before sunrise until...past sunset. I was happy, my legs and stomach were cooperating and miles really flew by. I was approaching mile 10 when it occurred to me to eat something, so I had a few bites of a CLIF bar.

My strategy was to eat solid food for the first 20ish miles and then switch to liquid calories (Heed and Perpetuem by Hammer) exclusively to stay away from stomach problems. Peter was the most amazing and resourceful crew I could wish for and had my liquids pre-mixed and ready to go (along with a pep talk and ice to keep me cool) at each crew-accessible aid station.

Coming in to Horseshoe, mile 10.8

The people, energy and food at the aid stations were amazing - and they really helped to break the race down to mini-distances, so all I had to think about was running from one aid station to the next. But despite RDL being an out-n-back course, those same stations seemed much farther apart in the second half. "Who moved my aid station?" became the title of that chapter.

Once the sun came up, the most amazing scenery greeted me. I remembered (and was super thankful for) pre-running the course a few weeks ago but it blew me all over again.

And then mile 17 happened...and I rolled my left ankle. Badly. Ouch. A few tears and a few minutes spent hardly moving, waiting for adrenaline to kick in and the pain to subside a little. I took some ibuprofen (my kidneys will thank me later) and chose to suck it up. I would roll the same ankle again around mile 40 and then the right ankle around mile 55 (even worse)...just because, clearly, all good things comes in threes.

Getting to the turnaround point at around mile 31, I was still (generally) all smiles. I talked to some friends, stretched and was on my merry way in a few minutes. The climbs were a little tiresome, but I had enough energy to give them a good powerhike so I was still on pace. In my head, I was going to negative split the race and I was on a mission.

I'm not even sure when, but a little after ankle trouble #2, the proverbial poop hit the fan. My pace slowed, but I was still moving forward. When I got to the aid station with about 10.8 miles to go, I was crying hard (making boys around me a little uncomfortable) for no apparent reason. I refueled and wobbled on...

The sun set soon thereafter and I was alone in the woods. I was hoping someone would catch up to me, but the next person was about half an hour behind. Just me, darkness and all kinds of animals, who, in my mind, were all out there to eat me. Note to self: I really need to practice night-time trail running. 

So, there is a section called meat-grinder. It's about 4-5 miles long and the nickname is very fitting. In daylight it's manageable, but still slows you down. At nighttime...not only do the rocks talk to you and morph into the shape of animals (I swear that happened) but they really get in the way of forward motion. Despite a second wind of energy a few miles leading into that section, I averaged a 21min/mi pace between miles 51-57. So that negative split thing went out the At mile 55, my right ankle went out..with a crack and pop. I fell down into a bush and sobbed for a minute. The only thing that got me up and going was a strong desire to get the heck out of this "enchanted forest". With only about 3 miles to go, I pulled something behind my left knee. But by this point, nothing really mattered. I was determined to finish, no matter what.

the finish!
So I did. I finished! I don't know my official time, but it was somewhere over 16 hours. I was the 4th woman to cross the line, which is a fun number. (edit: that's what I was told when I finished. Official results put me 6th. Strange but I truly don't care.) And I got my first pretty buckle!

Needless to say, I would have never finished (and 80% enjoyed) a race like this if it wasn't for my amazingly supportive friends, training partners and my race-day crew. So thank you, all. And no, I am definitely not done.


  1. I'm in pain just reading this... Congratulations, what an amazing achievement! :) Now make sure to take care of yourself!

  2. OMG! great race recap! aletta! you are such a survivor! i seriously cant wait to do an ultra with you. also- you have all of my respect and run-adoration for keeping with it even when it got close to unbearable! so proud to call you my solemate! ;-)

  3. I'm reaching out to you on behalf of the Men's Health Urbanathlon. We are seeing if you would be interested in blogging about the race and your training up to the event (11/18) on your blog. We are able to provide a complementary entry if you are interested. Please let me know if you are and if we can work out the details!

    For information about the race:

    Also, if you know of any other running/fitness bloggers in the San Francisco area, please let me know, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

    I can be reached at !