Saturday, November 30, 2013

2013 FatDog 120 Race Report - Part 2

From Calcite aid, Diane and I continued running down toward Pasayten River. At the river crossing, the Pasayten is about 50 feet wide and 2 feet deep and has a very helpful cable strung across it to hold on to as the rocks can be slippery. The water was surprisingly refreshing, and exceptionally clear - when we looked down with our headlamps we could see clear to the bottom. After wading through the river I changed my socks and shoes and had something to eat courtesy of Don and his wife (we basically run through their backyard)! Next came the first road section. It was along this section that we started contemplating the uphill that was coming. It was to be our third large climb, and would take about four hours. Upon seeing a mileage sign for Vancouver, Diane and I joked that we should just keep running on the road; the 233km to Vancouver couldn't be nearly as hard as Bonnevier. I still think it might have been easier...

Reaching the bottom of Bonnevier, we were greeted by Diane's husband, a familiar face by now as we had seen him at Ashnola and Passayten aid stations. With a quick stop here we were off again, this time going uphill. Bonnevier isn't terribly exciting, it's logging road followed by tree-covered trail and, given the nighttime conditions, you can't see a whole lot. After a couple of false peaks and four and a half hours of hiking uphill we reached the Heather aid station.

Heather aid was definitely a highlight, primarily because Jenna was waiting for me there! And, to put Jenna's dedication into perspective, Diane and I arrived at about 3:30am on Saturday, whereas Jenna hiked in while it was still light out!! Anyway, when we got there, Peter's family cooked us up some very tasty quesadillas. On that note, I think quesadillas have to be one of my favourite ultra foods. They're crispy on the outside, hot on the inside and the cheese just hits the spot during a race, plus I haven't had any issues digesting them. If anyone RD'ing a race is reading this, please include more cheese quesadillas at aid stations!

2013 FatDog Race Report - Sunrise on Heather Trail
Sunrise from Heather Trail
2013 FatDog Race Report - Nicomen Lake
The absolutely stunning Nicomen Lake
Diane's pacer, Ward, also met us at Heather aid, so the four of us headed out into the darkness along the single-track Heather trail. Three hours later, with the sun just rising, we came down into Nicomen Lake aid station. The steep and rocky descent here brought about the realization that my feet were starting to hurt, mostly the balls of my feet, but also the toes. Nicoman aid was an interesting experience. Food and water was limited given the hike required of the volunteers, so all we had for breakfast were some Pringles. If anyone is free next year and wants to hike in with a stove and eggs and hash-browns we would all really love you! Just to be clear though, I do really appreciate those who hiked in to man the aid stations! The people sleeping on the ground were  amusing too since they had their space blankets pulled over their heads, causing their feet and legs to stick way out the bottom. It was quite the sight!
After Nicomen Lake there is one of the longest descents in the race and it was at this point that Diane and Ward took off. Jenna and I continued on, though we were going slowly due to the increasing pain in my feet and the fact I hadn't eaten much recently. At about the two-thirds mark on that descent, Jenna and I started singing while we ran and oddly enough I started speeding up. Singing, at that moment, helped lift my spirits just enough that we were able to catch up to Diane and Ward just before Cayuse Flats aid station.

Cayuse Flats aid was my next big surprise, this time because of my family. Everyone was there! My aunt and uncle, my mom and dad, even my sister made it out. The best part for me, and probably them too, was that they had made huge cardboard signs saying Go Chris! Although we didn't linger at this point, it was good to see them, and we knew we would see them again in a few miles.

Most of the family at Cayuse Aid Station, complete with signs!
Getting back to the grind, the section between Cayuse Flats and Cascade Aid Station was unexpectedly hilly and definitely a little painful! Don't let the elevation profile fool you, after going downhill for hours, these uphills are killer. Nonetheless, the first runners doing the 70M passed us along this section. Coming into Cascade aid station, my family was again waiting for us, signs and cameras in hand.

Changing into some Merrell Mixmaster shoes (never again, I gave them away after the race), and getting a quick massage on my right hip flexor, we continued on to the second road section. This section wasn't anything special, though we did manage a fairly quick pace. At Sumallo Grove Jenna switched out for my dad as he was to pace me the last 40 miles of the race. Ward also left Diane, with the plan to meet up again at Skyline aid station. After getting everything sorted out pacer-wise, Diane had went ahead and left my Dad and I to catch up. It wasn't for a couple miles that we did catch up, but only after asking a couple hikers how far ahead she was and getting some ridiculous answers (>10 minutes ahead, I think not!). Between Sumallo Grove and Shawatum aid station, there were a couple notable occurrences. The first thing was a rather steep, 200ft climb just before the the curve of the Skagit River. This 'hill' wasn't visible on any of the the elevation profiles, but, believe me, it hurt! The next thing was that I ran out of water a mile or so from the water drop. This was unfortunate as it was quite warm in this section! The third thing was sort of an ongoing problem - my feet were getting progressively sorer. It was obvious that I had some major blisters forming, and that they were slowing me down significantly. I think the first one popped just before Shawatum. If you've never had a blister pop while running, it's pretty much excruciating for the first bit, then it settles down into a dull stinging. Sounds like fun right?!

The Trail Effect FatDog Race Report - Fun in the forest!
Fun in the forest!
Anyhow, Shawatum aid came and went and we started running through some rather dense, almost tropical-like sections. Then the mosquitoes started getting bad! Thankfully, Ward gave us a couple head nets to wear to keep them from biting. I'm not sure what we would've done without them! Somewhere along here Diane left us again since I was clearly just going too slow. She is sort of a pro after all!

I will leave it at that for now. So until Part 3 comes out, happy running!


Go to parts 1 or 3 of the FatDog120 Race Report

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