Monday, August 18, 2014

Fat Dog 2014

Fat Dog 
Aug 14-17 2014

I ran Fat Dog because I did not get into Angeles Crest, Hardock or Tahoe 200.  I saw the link on Facebook that a friend of mine Jenn posted. This was no consolation prize, but what look to be a challenge for my 2014 running year.  The other events filled up early or I did not make the lottery cut. 

Leaving Seattle early before the traffic allowed me to get to Manning park BC in a little over 4 hours. The border crossing was a one car wait. With time before the packet pick up, I played tourist checking out the area there. This helped to calm the extra energy I had before my race. As other runner arrived, I chatted with them. 

Drop bag and packet pick up went smoothly. The pre race meeting was well organized. Next we shuttled our cars to a parking lot near the finish as this was a point to point race. A school bus transported us to the hotel in one of the two towns near the start. Dinner was good at the restaurant connected to the hotel in Princeton. It was nice to meet other trail runner from other parts of the country. We had breakfast at the same restaurant before loading the bus for the start. 

10:00am and we are off for the adventure of the Fat Dog. There is a bit of climbing in this section. One nice thing about here is the treeline is lower than I am used to. We had some nice views of of the mountains around us. We also got lucky as there was a high overcast and a few light showers. These did not last, but the clouds kept the temps in the comfortable zone. This section of the run had us runners packed in more than I am used to. I do not know if it was from the all the single track, level of runners or just one of those days. It took me a while before I found the space around me that I like when I run. The one memorable thing about this section was when I was up high. I was running through this open area with three runner 1/4 in front of me. It felt like I was part of the open prairies, I was constantly looking for antelope, buffalo  and other animals that might enjoy this terrain. 

There was this amazing downhill  I was running feeling great that lead us to Calcite Creek aid station. I had added Bruce Springsteen and the e-street band as my pacer. At one point along the way the sun was low, the running was perfect, I was feeling good, I was in low treed forest with great views,I thought this is why I am out there. Does life get better?  It continued down after this to the Pasayten river crossing. The river crossing was a little tricky with rope strung across it. I was getting wet from the fast moving water to my knees. The cool water did feel very good on my legs. 

It was getting dark now at Bonnevier aid station. I switched my thought process for the run at this point. I had been running along well so far. I knew I had some time in the bank so I started to use a little of it. I started hanging out at aid station longer, sitting down in the chairs their enjoying the atmosphere there. 

The next part found me climbing again. I like climbing in the dark. I have poor night vision so this suits my running style. Once I was up high again I hit a patch of trail with the dense clouds. This made for very poor vision. I and the other runner around could not see the ribbons but could see the reflective marker spaced further apart. The sun came up at some point so I could start moving faster and pass a few of those many people that had been passing me on this long down hill. 

At mile 78 I was at Cascades aid station and it was morning. I did a dumb thing planning for this aid station. I had my warmer coat and gloves here. Why I did this I have know idea. I had a jacket and gloves with me. They were just fine for what I needed. I was starting to feel the miles now. I could still run ok. This marks the easier part of the course. We were running flat city park like trail with a sections of short steep up and down.

There is a section of mosquito infested trail before you arrive at camp Mowich aid station to Skyline. If you have the strength to run they leave you alone. I was walking once I left camp Mowich. Luckily one of the runner near me had some mosquito repellent until I arrive at the aid station. 

I was a bit tired now. Once I arrived at Skyline I took a short nap. I figured 100 miles in, 20 to go with 7,000 ft of gain and 16 hours to make it happen. I can relax a little more. After leaving Skyline I caught a runner that turned out to be Jenn. It was nice to chat with her for a good section of the climb as it got dark. I was not able to hold with her at the top of the climb. She went ahead and I relaxed more at the last two aid stations. 

This section was starting to do me in. I made it through ok but a pacer would have been a lot safer for me. Each runner that passed me asked how I was doing. My standard answer was I was tired, I really was. I did not know how tired until I was having some little vision problem just before the sun came up on the second day of running. Once the sun came up I was on the back side of lighting lake. I knew I was close now. 

The course leads you 3/4 of the way around the lake. It was a beautiful morning. The lake was glass calm. The birds were singing their songs. It was a perfect moment.  

I was passed by a few runner that were running. I was walking and feeling great about it. I worked up the energy to run (ok run is a little exaggerated for what I was doing) the last 100 yard to the finish. It is 6:30 something in the morning, I have just run 120 miles with 28,453 feet of gain and about the same loss. Watched the sun set rise and set twice while I am out there on the course. What an amazing experience to have. 

A big thank you to all those volunteers that were out there doing everything they did to help me along the way. I could not have done this without you. This was a first class event. If you enjoy pushing yourself to these levels, please think about this event for your race calendar. It is worth the trip. 

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