Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fat Dog 120 - 20 The Aftermath

Tale 20 - The Aftermath
I cannot believe I made it to the finish line! I just want to sleep. And to never eat again.
The finish line was cooking up food. I remember sitting in a chair at the finish, staring at a plate of food. People telling me I needed to eat. I couldn't. My tongue was so raw and cracked from salt, and my stomach so unhappy from eating for 46 hours straight. Steve eventually relieved me of my duties and ate it for me.
I finished in 46h 35m, which is about 6 hours and 35 minutes slower than what I was hoping for - but I finished! So none of that really matters!

I snuggled up on a thermarest for the awards, sort of trying to sleep, but mostly too uncomfortable to do much of anything.

Post-race banana slug!
We headed back to Lightning Lakes campground where we were staying to have a nice warm shower and get some much needed rest.
The shower was actually awful. The temperature never really got warm, and the breeze from outside was enough to keep me frozen to the bone. My ability to regulate temperature was effectively non existent.
I finally made it back to the tent and passed out nearly immediately.
Two hours later I was woken up by a brick to my face. Or at least that's what it felt like.
In reality it was my husband just trying to make sure I was still alive, and forcing me to come eat.
I love food a lot. But I was in no mood to eat. My family had prepared a delicious looking feast, but it was just that.
I was given a plate of food which I stared and, perhaps nibbled on, for a couple of hours. Then it was back to bed.
I woke up around 5am absolutely ravenous, and lucky for me Chris was willing to cook me up some nice eggs (now that's true love!)
Surprisingly, or not, my legs didn't feel too bad.
Since my stomach was the limiting factor most of the race - I was actually prepared to do a lot more running!
It took about a week before I wanted to eat things again!

I have so many people to thank for making my 100 mile dreams come true...

First off - Chris - for the hours you spent training with me, for believing in me when I forgot to, for letting me run my own race and not actually dying on flat top. For not letting me quit, and for becoming an integral part of my crew :)
My pacers - you guys got me through everything.
Shira - for picking my sorry ass up off the ground, and throwing me under the bus at Cayuse - thanks for being kind of cruel. I needed it. It takes a real friend to watch you suffer like that and somehow still believe in you.
Heather - for jumping in last minute and dispensing avocado like a champ.
Liz - for agreeing to deal with me yet again, for cheering me on, for promising me naps I never got to take, and for getting me where I needed to be on time.
Steve - for being my own personal aid station, for hand picking m&m's out of trail mix, for protecting me from falling to my doom on the false peaks, and for getting me to the finish line alive!
My crew - Especially my mom. First of all - you let me run 120 miles in the wilderness and didn't freak out! You coordinated and organized everyone and drove them around. You were in all the right places at all the right times, and knowing you were there made everything easy (well.. easier)!
Heather, Oliver and Hero (the dog) - You weren't really designated as anything, but you jumped in easily and became part of my crew, and even my pacers! You had beds for me to nap... even though I didn't get to. You kept me fed, and you stood by in support as I lost my shit at Cayuse. I couldn't have done it without you!
Grandma & The Vranjkovic Family - for lending me Liz, and for being the camp support crew! Jason - for coming out to support at Cayuse (sorry for the show).
My Daddy - for not supporting this crazy running habit at all - but still coming to watch me finish :)
All the race volunteers - Thank you for making the race possible, and for cooking us delicious food, and hiking food and water all over the place.

It really is an incredible community of people.

I will leave you with my favourite, and all too applicable quote - "NEVER Again. Until next time ;)"

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fat Dog 120 - 19 Dawn of a New Day

Tale 19 - Dawn of a New Day
I am only EIGHT "short" miles from the finish line.
I've got plenty of time to get there - I can actually finish this race!
There's only a couple of problems with that..
1) Daylight is coming, and if it's anything like the previous morning, I need to finish this race - fast!
2) What lies between me and the finish line is a few thousand false peaks. Yes, a few thousand. In 8 miles. No exaggerations here.
I don't know how to describe how I felt at this point. Exhausted I suppose. I ate one bite out of everything I had in my pack, but that's about all I could handle. Steve gave me some trail mix, which had some delicious m&m's.
Here's example #999 of how incredible pacers are: We have been running/hiking all night long, I obviously don't feel that great, and Steve is on the top of a mountain picking m&m's out of trail mix because it's the only thing I can choke down.
By the way, I ate about two more and couldn't stomach them anymore - so the rest ended up in my pack (sorry Steve). I wish I had a photo of the food I ended up with. Half eaten piece of pizza shoved haphazardly in the pack. A few nibbled shot blocks. Just gross..
Anyhow, I stuff in my music for one last round of motivation and stumble up and down the false peaks. I think stumble is pretty accurate at this point. Steve is wandering behind me taking stance so if I fall someone is there to catch me.
We make it over the false peaks to the final descent. I know this descent well, I've done it several times in training. I now know I have enough time to finish this race.

As I start the descent I have this unforgettable moment where it feels like all of the energy drained from my body in an instant. 
I am running on empty. I feel like I'm one step away from just passing out right on the trail. I'm worried I won't even be able to stay standing long enough to finish.
Now, you would think that knowing you're close to the finish line would spark some sort of motivation. But there was nothing. I remember Steve asking if I wanted to run, and all I could do was just zombie along the trail. As we finish the descent to the last couple miles around Lightening Lake I remember telling Steve - hold me up if we get over that finish line because I'm pretty sure I'm going to collapse.
I was maybe TWO MILES away from finishing my first ever 120 mile race, and I had no emotion, no motivation. Nothing.
We continue on around the lake - I can see the finish line. Still pretty sure I'm dying.
Then all of a sudden we hear cheering from across the lake - it's my mommy! They know it's us!
Suddenly I become a new person. I take off running like I need to be at the finish line right this instant! We rounded the final corner to my mom telling me people have put bets on my finishing time, and I guess that was enough to get me to sprint to the finish line with a speed nobody, including me, thought I had in me at that point.
Both Chris and Steve were there to hold me up as I crossed the finish line - but it turns out I didn't need holding up at all!
I could even have run a few more miles... I think I even said that after crossing the line!

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Fat Dog 120 - 18 Pie in the Sky

Tale 18 - Pie in the Sky
Somewhere in the alpine meadows and whipping winds between Mowich and Sky Junction I had to stop on the side of the trail and change into tights. Yes yes, my big brother was right. Always listen to your big brother (Well, maybe not ALWAYS)!
On the way to Sky Junction we came across a group of people who hadn't seen flagging in a while, and think we're off track. Shit shit shit I do not have time to be going the wrong way! But there aren't a lot of wrong turns you can take in this section. Steve and I continue on, pretty confident we're going the right way. We finally come across some flagging and yell back to the others, who oddly enough I don't think we ever saw again - where did they go??

The sun is coming up as we head into Sky Junction. My stomach, which shouldn't be a surprise as this is basically the norm, feels awful. All I want is a tub full of gingerale and to get my ass over the finish line so that I never have to move again. And Sleep. Sleep would also be great.
Back to this aid station. I am over 40 hours into this race, I have been nauseous for the better part of these 40 hours. They have pie. WHO CAN EAT PIE?! Even the fast people, I don't think they're going through this aid station like hmm, I've survived mostly on coke but maybe I'll stop eight miles from the finish and have some damn pie. I think not.
Not only that, it's a minimum 6km hike in!
I know I shouldn't be so bitter about the pie. But. Really? Pie?  #endrant
Thankfully they also have gingerale - so I fill up my flask and move right along.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Fat Dog 120 - 17 Marching to Mowich

Tale 17 - Marching to Mowich
We finally, finally, after hours of wandering the bush in the dark getting angrier and angrier - made it to Skyline! Wahoooo!
The final 21 miles of the race is the last big climb up and over to the finish line. There are two remote aid stations left - Mowich and Sky Junction. By the time you get there - it's longer to hike out than it is to finish. If you start this portion of the race - you damn well better finish.

I get to my crew, and they load me up with food, and my final change of clothes and shoes. Not surprisingly, I don't have time to nap here either!
Steve, my brother, is ready to rock with a full on hunting pack loaded with pizza and snacks - and anything else you could need. He was basically a walking aid station. The remote aid stations didn't have the best track record at this point, so we're going all in!
I stay here as long as I can before the looming cutoff pushes me out.
I've got a bottle loaded with coke from the last aid station. About 5 minutes out I go to take a sip, and as I pop the top I get a big blast of coke in the face. OKAY OKAY I'm awake! And a little sticky.
It's a good 4+ hour climb up to Mowich. It starts to rain, but I'm still really warm from the day. It's a tough balance between staying dry and overheating.
We stop several times to layer and unlayer as the rain and wind comes and goes. We see lights up in the distance and have a bit of an indication of where we need to go. Neither Steve nor I really have a good idea of whether we're moving fast enough to make the 48 hour cutoff time.
When you reach the top of the climb, you drop down into the Mowich aid station. I was convinced we still had a lot more climbing to do, but Steve was sure we were at the top, despite having never done the climb. Turns out he was right!
We're almost at Mowich - we might actually have time to finish this race!

We get to Mowich - it's pouring rain and pretty windy and cold. I'm still in shorts. There's a few other ladies doing the 70 miler around who are in shorts as well. We stop and chow down on pizza for a little bit, until I start to get cold and nauseous and need to keep moving. Steve told me to be a smart person and put my leggings on, but I don't have time for that.
We continue onwards, just 5 miles to Sky Junction.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Fat Dog 120 - 16 Suffering to Skyline

Image result for chevy bel air white with red flamesTale 16 - Suffering to Skyline
So Liz and I take off into woods as the sun starts to set on day 2 of this wild adventure. All I really want is a nap, I was promised a nap at Shawatum, but I guess I got too distracted by pizza!
Not long into the trail I see this beautiful Chevy Bel Air just off the side of the trail. Kind of like the one in the image, but with flames on that back. Now I am no fool. I may be a little out of it, but I'm not THAT out of it. So I laugh, and I close my eyes, and shake my head. And it's still there! Hey that's cool. So I wander over for a closer look. What a beautiful... pile of logs. Oh god that is a pile of logs.
Moving right along... This part of the course seemed to take forever. It's one of the only sections I hadn't done recently in training, and I knew it was generally rolling with a few good ups and downs. I remember in the 70 miler running through these leafy bushes near the end and then popping out at the aid station. I put too much hope into those bushes. Everytime I thought we were at them (which was far too often) I would get so excited that we were almost there. Then the trail would keep going up and down and up and down and ARGGHHH where is this aid station, how long can 6 miles be?! I am grumpy, and hungry, and I don't want to eat, or walk, or run. I just want a nap.
There was also one steep downhill that I really don't remember ever doing. It still bothers me. I need to go run this section in the light!
I just need to get to skyline so I can finally have my nap. Then I'll have gone 99 miles, so really I've done my 100 miler and don't really need to go forward. Who needs that last mountain climb anyways? I've done it before!

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fat Dog 120 - 15 Getting Serious to Shawatum

Tale 15 - Getting Serious to Shawatum
When we reach Sumallo I pick up my veteran pacer, Liz. She got me through the 70 miler, when my water bladder burst on my back overnight, and I was stopping to pee every 5 minutes potentially due to hyponatremia. She's also my cousin, and there's just something extra comforting about having family out there with you.
We've now hit the point where I think I can actually make the cutoff times. My crew, on the other hand, was not quite so confident. As everyone loads me up at the aid station, Chris is having whispered side conversations about timing, and how fast Liz needs to get me to the next aid station to give me enough time to finish. Most of which I'm entirely oblivious to.
The day is cooling off, there's clouds and even some light showers, but my body is just not ready to accept that it's cool outside.
Having Liz with me is like having a personal cheering squad on the trail. She would cheer me on even the smallest of runs and make me feel like just moving a little bit faster was the greatest accomplishment.
As we were coming into Shawatum I thought I saw a couple of people up ahead, but I had to confirm with Liz since I'd hallucinated more than a few people on the trail by this point!
This has to be another one of my favourite parts - she's like - I think those are horses! They were not.
Just people. Now I wonder which one of us had been out there too long? Hehehe.

We hit Shawatum in decent time, and the crew was there with a delicious pizza. Yum!
Liz, despite asking to pace me through a section in daylight, takes me on towards Skyline in the dark. To be fair, I was really planning to hit Skyline while it was still light out - but you really can't control these things.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Fat Dog 120 - 14 Slurpin to Sumallo

Tale 14 - Slurpin' to Sumallo
My stellar crew is at Cascade with a really nice napping set up waiting for me (thanks Oliver and Hero!). Ain't nobody got time for that!
My next two pacers have now joined the crew for the day, and have clearly been informed of my previous breakdown, and that I may not continue. They look so concerned for me as I roll in. Breakdown? What breakdown? I'm just fine!
The volunteers at this aid station cooked me up a wrap that I swear came from heaven. Loaded with eggs and bacon and avocado - it was the breakfast wrap of the century. Just what I needed to really start my day ( 1 pm)!
Heather and I roll on down the highway another two miles to Sumallo while I munch on my glorious breakfast. She's also carrying a nearly full can of gingerale, and running with it in one hand as we go. Pacers are actually the best.

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