Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 FatDog 120 Race Report - Part 3

Welcome back to the continuing saga of my FatDog experience. I left you last time just after Shawatum aid station. At this point it was just my dad and I as Diane Van Deren had run ahead. This section of the race will be the hardest to blog about for a couple of reasons. The first is that I was in incredible agony because of my feet, and the second is that I simply don't remember all of it. So, this post will be fairly brief.

I'll sum up the run from Shawatum to mile 98 as an ever increasing struggle to overcome my increasingly sore feet. At mile 98 I lost. I simply couldn't keep going, and as much as I don't want to admit this, I cried a little. Diane had warned me that ultras make you, and everyone else around you, emotional, but I don't think that was the reason I broke down at mile 98. Sure I had been up for the past 36 hours, and ran the last 33 of those, but I don't think that was the reason either. The reason was that I wasn't sure if I could finish. In fact, for a moment there I totally didn't think I could. And that was when I got to thinking about everyone who had put in so much time and effort to either run with me or to cheer me on. I thought of Jenna who hiked in and froze her butt off for 5 hours before running with me through the night, my mom for organizing everyone, cheering and keeping my pacers alive, and my dad who was right there beside me doing his best not to break down with me. I thought about how I had been looking forward to finishing this race for the last two years. I also thought about how much it would suck to be stuck at the Skyline aid station seeing as it is in the middle of nowhere! But mostly it was how much I wanted to finish so that everyone-else's effort wouldn't be wasted. So, with only a few hundred meters to Skyline aid station, something clicked and I pulled myself together. I'm not really sure what happened, but quite suddenly I was as determined as ever to finish.

Warming up at Camp Mowich. Great photo...
At Skyline aid station I had part of a cheese quesadilla, drank some gingerale and had a coke to go. After this things get fuzzy, but keep in mind that the last 20 miles of this race include some of the toughest climbs in the whole race. Anyway, the next thing I remember was undergoing what I'll call an involuntary gastric reinitialization. Not fun. After that I remember curling up on a space blanket on the side of the trail. I slept there for about 15 minutes according to the flat portion on the elevation profile I posted in Part 1 of this race report. After that, the next memory is of reaching Camp Mowich aid station as there was a nice little fire and hot chicken noodle soup. I'm pretty sure the soup was actually burning hot and I couldn't drink it, but that might just be a hallucination. Next up was Skyline Junction, the last aid station. Upon reaching here I instantly fell asleep on a mat they had there. Supposedly, a few minutes later someone looked over at me and asked my dad, "Is that your son sleeping face-down in the dirt?" To which he replied that I was probably fine, an opinion he quickly changed once he looked over too. What's more, even after righting me, I rolled right back into the dirt!

Thank you Ken!
I do remember some of what happened once the sun was starting to come up. The sweep for that section caught up with us somewhere after (or shortly before) the last aid station. Ken was truly fantastic and kept me moving forward, and eating! A big thanks to him.

The final descent into Lightening Lakes is a mean one given the rockiness of the upper section. Reaching the valley bottom I looked at my watch and saw that I had exactly 15 minutes to get in before 47 hours (the cutoff was 48). This triggered an all out sprint to the finish. The final result was a 47h01m finish, my first DFL (dead last). Though only 18 of 31 registrants complete the race.

I was greeted at the finish by my mom and Jenna, who apparently didn't really sleep at all the last night since they were hanging out at the finish area worrying about me the whole time. So with that, a big thank you to my family and all the volunteers for their tremendous support throughout the race! It really wouldn't be possible without them.

Jenna's Follow-up Comments:
This race report would not be complete with my two favourite parts of the weekend:
1) After Chris finishes the race, we head back to camp to get some well-earned rest. After about an hour of sleep, we both got up out of the tent to use the washroom. As we get back to the tent, I start to crawl in when Chris says "What are we doing?" (As if an hour of sleep was enough after being up for 48+ hours) to which I respond "Well I'm going back to sleep!" and I start to zip up the tent. Slightly irritated, Chris reluctantly climbs back into the tent. Of course, he falls asleep immediately... on my side of the tent!
2) After the race, we went to talk to Peter to thank him for making sure Chris got out alive. I'm so glad we did, because this is the best thing I heard all weekend. Peter was helping out at Skyline Junction - I don't remember exactly how he said this, but it went something like this. "At one point I heard these strange sounds coming through the forest, and I thought to myself : SHAMU IS COMING." Turns out it was just Chris.

As a follow-up, Christine Blanchette wrote this Article (or alternately available here) profiling my FatDog race attempt which appeared in the Sherbrooke Record.

Go to parts 1 or 2 of the FatDog120 Race Report

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