Monday, July 2, 2018

2018 Tenderfoot Boogie 50 Miler - Race Report

The tenderfoot boogie was not on my bucket list by any means, it more or less fit my time/distance requirements in training for the FatDog 70 mile in August. I didn't know anybody that had run this race, so I really didn't know what to expect. The course looked fun on the map but I was in uncharted territory, sourcing info from old race reviews from runners in previous years. I spent the week before carefully planning out my drop bags and figured I had everything I would need to make it to the finish. I spent most of the night before panicking as I read through less than positive race reports from various different blogs and web pages, playing out different scenarios in my head. The race start was at 5am in Squamish so bedtime came early. I had no more time, I was packed and ready to go and the rest would have to be left in the hands of fate.

Race day morning 
-3am- loaded the car and drove from Vancouver to Squamish (~1 hr), eating breakfast along the way. We followed directions right off the website and found several people with bags and gear sitting at the steps of a closed coffee shop. I asked someone if this was the start of the 50 mile and they replied "I hope so" then a couple people showed up with a table and started setting up a place sign in. A few more runners were rolling in by then. I signed in and put my drop bags in their piles.

-4:30am- I needed to use the bathroom; I asked around but it appeared that there was no facilities. It looked like people were going and using the bushes across the road in the park so I followed suit. 

-4:45am- the race director gathered everyone in the street and spoke about some recent changes to the course and how to navigate through the first section. It seemed pretty straight forward, the course was supposed to be flagged with orange and black ribbon at every're thinking "how hard can this be? Right?
Tenderfoot Boogie Elevation Profile
-5am- The race started and everyone (about 26 racers) took off down the road.
Now, this is the longest distance race I've run so I was unsure about how to pace. All the big hills were at the end of the course so I figured I was best to just settle in at the back and take it easy. This worked well as we made our way through the streets. I chatted with another runner who had run the course before. He seemed to know all the hidden corners and we went on about 5 miles to a spot where he could have sworn the course went through the previous year but there was no flagging anywhere. We wandered around looking for a flag, by then about 8 people were all around this intersection trying to decide which way to go. I tried to use the gps map I had downloaded into my Suunto the night before but another racer informed me that the course had been changed last minute and none of the maps online were accurate anymore, and to not follow it. I tried to back out of the navigation but ended up cancelling the trail run instead. I then had to restart my watch, knowing that my time and distance would be off for the rest of the race. By this point some of the other runners had taken different roads and kept running, trying to find flagging. A girl on a mtn bike came flying down the one trail informing us that the ribbons had been "taken down." We ran up the road and yelled back to the other racers that we had found the proper route. We then continued on this route until the first aid station. By this point I was mad because all the reviews I had read had indicated the course was very poorly marked, and they were not wrong! Was this going to be my whole day?

Aid Station #1 - As I approached I saw a small table with not much on it - a few pretzels, 6 or 7 cookies, 2 or 3 pieces of  fruit (banana/orange), a bowl of candies and a 10L jug of water. The man behind the table almost didn't even seem happy to be there, I had lots of water and food in my pack so I just grabbed 3 candies and went on my way. Shortly after there was a section of overgrowth that no one bothered to clear out and a huge road deactivation to climb around. The trail then bacame a PowerLine cut that was overgrown and looked more like a garbage dump in places than a trail. It was barely flagged but there wasn't anywhere to get off course so I just pushed on.

The next section went back onto the highway. Finally there was flagging, an arrow tied from a pole to the bottom of the cement barrier that looked exactly like it was indicating to continue on the highway, so I did. About 500 meters up the highway I caught a glimpse of an orange ribbon in the bushes now down about 20 meters from the road. I continued up the highway scanning the ditch until I saw another flag off to the left that looked more like a trail so I had to jump the barrier and descend the embankment through the prickly bushes and jump a puddle to get back on track. I thought to myself "minor setback, no need to stress", but 3 minutes later I found myself once again searching for the elusive black/orange flagging tape. I followed the trail right back to the highway, finally turning around and heading back only to find more people coming my way. I asked them if they had seen a ribbon lately, but we found ourselves once again searching the trails for markings. I could go on forever about non existent trail markings but for the sake of not having a very long post, I will simplify it for you:
- If you don't know this course be very prepared to get lost 
- There are lots of sections with inadequately spaced flags or hard to see flags (some even tied on pebbles on the side of the road) which is confusing when you are trying to keep a pace and pay attention to a trail. 
- There are sections of the trail that are more like orienteering where you have to stop, take bearings spin around in circles and find the next flag, then you walk to that one and repeat.
- After the last aid station the course goes through a mountain bike system with trails everywhere and not a flag to be seen. To top it all off, for the last 3 km they not only had spacing issues but decided to change the color of the flagging... WHY?!
- The flags they used are the same color as old construction flagging in places 

Okay, now that's out of the way we proceed into the first nice section of trail to run. It was a great single track path that had some elevation to it - that was a nice change as most of the race so far seemed like it was on the road. We then got to a section that looked like an old blast site. I scaled over all the boulders looking around trying to make sense of where the trail went all the while trying not to trip and die. There was even one section with an old steep wood staircase missing 4-5 of the steps so you had to jump down and try not to break your ankle. I made a joke to another runner about how I forgot to pack my rock climbing gear. Just as I finished my sentence, a helicopter flew over, and he didn't miss a beat replying "there goes the helicopter, still searching for last year's DNFs." We both laughed as the trail popped out on yet another road. I'm going to pause here to talk about the road.

Sections of this course are long stretches right on the side of the sea to sky highway. They have no volunteers handing out safety vests, or even signs letting traffic know there is a race in progress. You are left to run yourself down the side of a major highway with cars whizzing past at 100km/hr+. You have the option to try to run the narrow soft shoulder behind the barrier or just suck it up and hammer on right down the highway. Pair that with a serious lack of flagging, sounds incredible, Right?

Aid Station #2 - This aid station had our first drop bags! I made the decision to change into different shoes, they were softer and better for on the road. This was the probably the best decision I made all day. As I was changing my shoes one of the volunteers went to fill my water but informed me they could only fill it with a bit as they were running low on water. WHAT!? I couldn't believe it, they told me that the next aid station was only 10 km away though. This aid station had the same limited stuff as the first one, good thing I packed my drop bag with lots of goodies! The volunteers here were amazing and helped in every way they could! All fueled up, it was back to the trails! Or in this case a long gravel road. Then highway again... it was a pretty boring stretch.

Aid Station #3 - As I rolled into this one, I ran into some of the runners that I was chatting with at the beginning. They asked me how I got behind them and if I had been lost. I laughed and said "I'm not even sure how I made it this far, I've been lost so many times" and laughed.  I asked for a water refill and the man behind the table looked horrified and asked how long I had been without water. I explained that the previous station was running out of water. He filled my water back up and I headed back out. My stomach was acting up now, I needed a bathroom. I had hoped one of the aid stations may have an outhouse but as it turns out there is only one bathroom on course and its 50 km into the race. Normally I would have resorted to the woods but the next section was up the side of a cliff and didn't have anywhere to even go... then it was more of you guessed it... Highway! Where are you supposed to use the washroom on the side of a highway?! It was an uncomfortable run to the Brandywine Falls aid station. 

Aid Station #4 - Finally a semi-decent looking aid station, paired with a bathroom! I dropped my bag and yelled my number as I ran for the can (probably the fastest I had run in the first 50km). I went back to the table and stuffed my face with boiled potatoes and chips. The volunteers filled my water pack while I grabbed my electrolyte from my drop bag, filled my bottles up, grabbed some candy worms and headed on back out on the trail. This section of trail is actually very nice, there were lots of people hiking that cheered runners on and were quite motivating. Now, I believe that there was supposed to be one more aid station that was removed at the last minute, so this section would be a 16 km stretch to the next station at 64km. It was a nice section of trail, a wide gravel path in most places and easy to run on... minus the obvious lack of flagging and constant "am I lost" sensation growing inside your head. I was having stomach issues again and had to take several bathroom stops. After passing another runner 3 times and chatting about my issues he offered me some Imodium. This cleared everything up (and probably saved my day... THANK YOU!). Time was looking good -  I figured I was going to clear the cutoff for the next aid station, my legs weren't hurting at all and somehow I was still keeping a semi-decent pace. A few more minor flagging setbacks in this section... one even involved a trail that looked like it was a river crossing, but I didn't remember seeing any river crossings listed. I instead opted to hike up onto the highway, playing frogger across 4 lanes and eventually finding flagging on the other side. I climbed back over the guard rail and down the other side to get back on the course

Aid Station #5 - I stumbled upon a table on the side of the trail with people cheering on the side.
I pretty much was headed straight for the table checking my watch to make sure I was still under the cutoff when I realized... Wait! I know these people! It was my sister and her husband. The sun was out by this point and the last couple hrs had been hot, I was a little out of it, but immediately ran over and hugged my sister. They had come bearing more food than the aid stations, with a cooler full of ginger ale and a domino's pizza and even an Iced Cap! The two of them being well seasoned racers sat me down in a chair and grabbed my pack, making sure I had everything I needed while they filled my water and checked my food supply! With a full pack and a full stomach I headed out on the last 10 miles of the race! Now this was supposed to be the "Big Climb" that everyone was talking about which looks intense on the profile but actually is quite a nice trail. My legs were still feeling strong - I even found myself running up sections of the hill. The hill finally crested and the descent was on! This section is in the mtn bike trails of Whistler so you have to watch out for bikes flying around everywhere. The bonus to this being that in sections it is soft dirt and there are berms on all the corners making fast almost enjoyable! I was gaining energy by the minute I knew the end was near, and I was going to make it!

Goofing Around for Finish Line Pics!

Aid Station #6 - I yelled out my race number as I grabbed 3 or 4 candies. I asked the volunteer how far it was and he said under 5 km to the finish. I said thanks and as I started to run he yelled "do you have enough water?" I took off thinking to myself "at this point who cares?! it's 5km" I ran off into the next section of bike park. I passed a few more people in this section enjoying the nice dirt bike trails. For some reason that I can't quite figure out,  they decided to change the flagging color in this section from orange and black to blue and white. By this point I had given up on even trying to find the flags, and I just stayed on what looked like the right trail, eventually popping out on a nice paved path in what looked like a residential area.  I knew I was close now. As I pushed forward down this path, a girl on a bike rode past me and looked back then stopped. I thought maybe I hit her with my pole, until she smiled and asked me if I was running a race. I told her I was and that it had started in Squamish at 5am. She informed me that I was within 2 km of the finish line and asked if she could ride to the finish line with me. I had been running for over 11 hrs by now so I wasn't going to decline! We chatted and she told me all about whistler almost like a tour guide as we wound down the path. As we rounded the last corner I thanked her for talking with me as I took off.

First 50 Mile Finish!
My adrenaline glands must have exploded when I saw the finish line and released a pre-workout size dose of energy throughout me.  I crossed the finish line at 11:32:06. I wandered around with my head spinning in the hot sun, the race director came over and gave me my finisher medal and shook my hand. I thanked him and went over to find my sister, drop my race pack, and jump (I ended up slipping on a rock and falling) into the beautiful cold water. I went to get some food from the BBQ but there was pretty much nothing left.. surprise surprise. I got a burger patty, a smokey, and a bun at least - but all the fixings and drinks had been cleaned out. They didn't even have water left (which amazes me because there was still racers left on course) overall I was just happy to have completed my longest distance run to date and a great training race!

It was sunny and beautiful in Whistler! There are great views from Meadows park and it is a nice place to end a race. I did spend most of the day angry and frustrated as I believe this race needs a whole lot more planning, but at the end of the day it was still a fun experience!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Brigade Trail Race Report

Start of the 30km Brigade Trail Race
The following is the collective experience of Jenna, Steve, Chris and Brad (Chris' dad) from doing the 2017 Brigade Trail Race from Tulameen to Hope. Your mileage may vary.

Pros of the Brigade Trail Race:
Great to be done!
Steve and Jenna happy to finish
with only a few wasp stings!
  • Free entry (we got ours at the end of Fatdog but they have been at several different races as prizes)
  • Some camping space is available at the finish area at Peers Creek Rec Site, but there really isn't much space, and amenities are nil, just an outhouse.
  • The course was beautiful! (at least when
    it wasn't clouded in)
  • Single track! 25 of 30km was single track for the shorter race, with the 80km race being similar.
  • The course was well marked the whole way!
  • The aid stations were stacked! So much food and drink, even for the last runners of the 80km and at the remote aid stations. Avocados, bacon, candy, pickles, chips! What else could you want?
  • Fresh cooked hot bannock at the end! They were even willing to experiment with candies and mars bars wrapped in the batter and deep fried!
  • Bbq burgers with all the fixings.
  • The finish area was well set up. There were tents with heaters and food and drink, music, and most importantly, bathrooms (portable ones, but we weren't complaining)
  • The volunteers! At Jacobsen Lake aid station they fixed Brad's hiking poles, while others were filling his pack and helping him change clothes.
  • Lots of prizes! A whole table full of stuff!
  • The two runners that were pulled at the last aid station due to time cut-offs got free entries for the next year.
 Cons of the Brigade Trail Race:
    Brad at Jaconsen Lake aid station.
  • Pre-race meeting was in Princeton, but the race started in Tulameen and ended in Hope. For those of us doing the 30k we spent 3 hrs sitting on a tour bus leaving Hope at 8am and driving down a gravel logging road that was surely never designed for a Prevost tour bus. Both distances ended at a gravel lot 8-10km outside of Hope offering the occasional shuttle bus back to Hope.  If that's not logistically challenging, I don't know what is!
  • STEEP! The ups were steep. The downhills were even steeper! Some sections with branches and rocks were almost UN-hikeable, though Chris opted for the reckless approach and ran the downs. Our legs hurt for a full week after the race.
  • The spongy ground was nice to run on, but then you remember that the course is filled with.. you guessed it, wasps. Stinging terrible surprise ground wasps that stung you and disappeared!
  • The cut-off for the 80km is 15 hours, rather short considering the extremely difficult terrain.
  • Weather in Hope-Tulameen can change quite quickly. The later finishers were subject to some cold wind and rain! (not a fault of the race, but definitely need to be prepared)
  • The awards and prizes were the next morning in Hope and a lot of people had already left by then and missed out.
It doesn't look that bad right?!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Introduction for BigBearRunning

Before my transformation.
My name is Steve Bowling and I am a beginner trail runner pushing boundaries; and now, pushing myself harder and further has not only become something that I do, it's become a way of life.

To begin this epic tail, we need to backup 3 years to a day in January 2015 when I looked in the mirror and though to myself "what have you done?" I couldn't believe I had let myself go that far, I stepped on the scale and it read "err." I pushed on the counter a bit and the scale fluttered back into a readable range of 330.  My fast food, fast pace life had finally got the best of me and I thought to myself now is the time. Now, there are a couple things I should clarify, my weight has gone up and down a lot over my life with times of working out where I could take myself down to a just above average size and then usually fall back into the beer and pizza phase and put most of it back on. I was always active, but my poor diet usually got the best of me. I have always been big, I probably never had a BF % under 25 even when working out, but it never bothered me much, until now that is....

My first 10km
I was done, now was the time. I've always known the basics to proper diet, but usually ignored them for the most part because, lets face it, pizza is delicious!  The first steps were small, switching to eating 6 times a day,  healthy foods, going to the gym, doing lots of cardio and before you know it the first 30lbs had fallen off [more on this in a future post]. I was starting to get positive comments from people and this inspired me to continue, so I downloaded a calorie counting program. Next thing you know I was down around 245lbs which is where my running career really started, with my little sister and her husband (Leap Frog and Little Fox) convincing me that I should train and run the Vancouver Sun Run.

I went down to the running store and got myself some runners and some shorts and a shirt and started trying to run. It was pretty hard at first with my longest run at about 2- 4 km, but I had signed up for the race and I was determined to do it. Somehow I kept pushing on until next thing you know I was running 10 km runs. I went down to Vancouver and had a great weekend and ran my first race. It was such a fun time I wanted to go further so I signed up for the Kelowna half marathon at thanksgiving, finishing that at just short of 2 hrs. I was feeling pretty happy with myself for how far I had come. Little did I know that my life was about the change...... forever......

My first half
Now this would be the time that I was told about trail running. It was described as a beautiful scenic way to run, being just like running on the road but through nice mountain trails around a lake. With a description like that and a love for the great outdoors who could say no? So we all signed up for the Around the Lake Give'r Take 30 km at Cultus Lake. This was going to be the longest distance I had ever gone in my life and further than I had ever envisioned myself coming - but here we were.
After my first trail race

Race day was a cold wet morning, I was wearing street running shoes, regular shorts and a running shirt. With a borrowed race pack stuffed with all kinds of bars and candies that had come from my sister's running stash, I had no idea what to expect. All I could think about was the nice mountain trails and how fun it was going to be. As the race started everyone sort of funneled through the chute and the park and out onto the road, thinning out before the trail head. I felt good and had a good pace, until the first climb that is. I watched people pulling themselves up the first section using trees and branches as the trail was wet and muddy. The first hill seemed to go on for miles. My body was sore as I wasn't used to any kind of real elevation change yet, my running shoes had horrible traction in the mud and I was slipping and falling all over the place, thinking to myself what have I gotten myself into? Somehow I managed to push on and make my way to the backside of the lake where there was a well stocked aid station with lots of delicious food. My legs ached by now, my feet were cold and wet and it was starting to rain. I grabbed some yummy candies and headed on up the next climb, which also seemed to drag on forever. By now the pain had started coming into my core which also was not used to this kind of torture. I climbed and climbed and climbed wondering whether my heart was was going to give up first or my legs. I was grumpy, I thought "this is nothing like the description, why would my sister tell me this was a good idea?" I marched on, pushing up the hill I finally saw a man at the top. He started clapping and cheering and as I crested the hill there was a table with a whole bunch of mini cups filled with beer. The volunteers told me that I was at the top of the last climb and it was all downhill from here. Every part of me was sore, I had nothing left. I drank a couple oz of beer and continued down the trail. I somehow managed to get down to the beach and cross the finish line where my sister laughed and said "Sorry, I forgot how hilly this course was". At the time I was not amused, but looking back now I see the humor in it.

Hiking the Chief
I went down to the store shortly after and bought a pair of trail shoes and started finding trails to run. I wanted to run all the trails and all the mountains. Somehow out of this crazy race experience I had found a true appreciation for the sport of trail running. I found myself googling course profiles and picking races that looked fun. I went on to complete a marathon distance trail race (Wandering Moose), a couple half marathons (Hallow's Eve, Phantom) and 27 km trail races (Dirty Duo,and brigade), a 50km trail race (Kal Park 50) and most recently, my first 50 mile trail race (Tenderfoot Boogie). I'm currently training for the FatDog 70 miler in August.

Chris (LittleFox) and Jenna (LeapFrog) have been my inspiration through all of this, helping with gear, food, training plans, and trail tips and tricks. They have probably forever changed my life, and now I have been added to their trail running blog! I look forward to sharing all my race reports and gear reviews so hopefully everyone can run their best run!


Sea Kayak Trolling

Exhibit A: Primitive kayak fishing setup without a rod
After some success last year with a very primitive kayak fishing setup (see Exhibit A), I decided to upgrade a bit to hopefully make things easier. The previous fishing setup was a 1x2 piece of fir with a carabiner on the end and 30-pound fishing line wound around it. I clipped that on the back of the kayak and ran it through a carabiner on a bungee cord. The idea was that the cord would stretch when something bit. That didn't work so well as I think the fish I did catch got pulled along for sometime before I realized it was there (there wasn't much of a fight to get it in the boat).

Sea kayak trolling setup from a Tofino-based kayak guide.
After searching for a way to upgrade to my set up, I realized there isn't too much info out there. And even less if you don't want to drill holes in your kayak for rod holders et and since Jenna would never let me drill into our precious kayaks I needed to figure out something that would work. The image to the right was posted on a West Coast Paddler forum, so that, plus some helpful advice from my friend Ed led to my setup below. Hopefully this post will make things easier for you to get set up for some kayak fishing!

Fishing in Haida Gwaii - first bite of the trip, just a little
lingcod (?). Sadly, it was too early to catch any salmon.
For my kayak I did the same for the front - PVC pipe tied on the left front deck as a rod holder and Scotty downrigger clip on the right to keep the line out of the way. Unlike the above photo, my rod was directed forward toward the bow since I figured it would be unruly to have it sticking up like above. However, for the back, I added a PVC pipe to hold my net on the right back deck and put a paddle holder on the left back deck. This made it quite convenient when trying to bring in a fish. You can see most of the set up in the photo to the left: bottom left of photo = paddle in paddle holder, middle under my arm = rod holder PVC, right bottom = downrigger clip.

A few more we caught while trolling
as we kayaked along.
The first real test for my kayak trolling set-up was on our recent trip to Haida Gwaii, and it seemed to work pretty well. Caught a several lingcod and some rockfish. (I'm assuming they were lingcod, as they didn't look like the rockfish on my identification chart, but if anyone has a better suggestion, please let me know) None of the fish we caught were especially large, and we didn't catch any salmon, but the ones we did get were extremely tasty! I was using a pink mini-flasher and a hoochie, and the lingcod seemed to love that.

If you're interested in a getting a groundfish identification card and/or a fish descender, the Oregon Coalition for Educating ANglers (OCEAN) will send you one. I highly recommend it! Just make sure to give them a donation so they can keep up the awesome work.

Stay tuned for a post about our crazy 2.5 week trip to Haida Gwaii, and how to plan your own! Actually, you may not really want to plan to your own, it was a lot of work... but you can read all about that soon.

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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