Fatdog 120: An extra long walk in the Park.

A vibrant green log sitting next to the river bank beckons me to come over, welcomes me to sit on it's ever so soft seat. I'm about 85 miles deep and still have a grueling 40 more miles to go and have spent the last 24 hours questioning my life decisions. Trying to hold back tears, I quickly inhale another gu energy gel without gagging. 

"This taste so good" I say out loud, trying to persuade my taste buds that this consistency I've been eating for 24 hours is actually what my body wanted. My two friends I've made during the race, Denis and Andrew, are already out of view now. I've fully excepted the idea that the rest of this quest may be ran alone. I start to cry; shoulders tense up, face goes into an awkward and seriously ugly expression but tears do not flow as they normally do. Acknowledging that I'm dehydrated I quickly snag a few more gulps of water and begin jogging again. "Don't be such a baby" I tell myself as shock waves ripple through my calves and crash into my quads, completely fighting my commands- nay my begging, to continue forward, but against the pain I persevere. Salt stained faced, dirt covered legs, oh so tired legs, I continue forward... one foot after another, one gel after another. 

 

Wednesday, August 9th. 

I hop onto a greyhound from Squamish back to Vancouver to meet up with Oliver and Molly, both whom will be racing this weekend. A ping of sadness flows through me as I spent the last week here with my fellow RLAG crew and making new friends while working their Adventure Retreat. Hailey, Eduardo and their fur kid Paxi opened there house and hearts to me and I will forever be grateful for their friendship. 

I wave goodbye to some fun filled memories as one adventure door closes and another opens to the unexpected. I look forward to the next bunch of adventurers, Oliver who is running the 120 miler and Molly her first 50 miler. Once together we talked, laughed and bantered as if old friends our entire lives, a bond merging by a shared passion for the trails.  With a pit stop at a grocery store (and liquor store- because in Canada you can't buy beer where you buy your groceries) we were off to Manning Park, where the reception scarce, the trails vast and the smokey air dense and slowly coating our lungs. 

FATDOG 120

The 120 mile event is considered one of the top 9 toughest ultras in the world by Outside Online. Difficult point to point trail race with elevation gain 28,453 feet (8672.7 metres) just less than Everest 29,029 ft.(8848 metres). You cross three stunning provincial parks and one recreational area in British Columbia, BC: Cathedral Provincial Park, Cascades recreational area, E.C. Manning Provincial Park and Skagit Valley Provincial Park. Scenic, technical and non-technical trails, one river crossing, and sumptuous aid stations. Well rewarded for climbs with top of the ridge vistas and a very demanding final leg to finish. Starts near Keremeos and finishes at beautiful Lightning Lake. Racers of all distances are required to carry several items with them at all times in case of emergencies and/or weather changes.  Unlike most 100 mile races, this particular one begins on Friday morning at 10am. 

Thursday, August 10th

I woke in a pool of sweat. I look around and can't quite place where I am. As the room begins to come back into focus, remembering how just the day before we all jumped on our beds like young kids at summer camp (4 beds in the room) checking which were the softest before claiming our own- I suddenly begin piecing together my dream. There is nothing quite like dreaming of running a 100 miles without shoes on while searching for your hydration pack with zero assistance from the volunteers. It was a silly dream that I obviously knew will not come to fruition.

After packing the last of my drop bags we were off to Manning Park where check in would be held and a few miles on course to be ran.

MANNING PARK: 

E.C. Manning Provincial Park is a provincial park in British ColumbiaCanada. It is usually referred to as Manning Park, although that nomenclature is also used to refer to the resort and ski area at the park's core. The park is 70,844 hectares (273.53 square miles). The terrain in the park, which includes most of the Hozameen Range sub-range of the Canadian Cascades, varies from wet coastal rain forests, to jagged snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, to a chain of small lakes, and broad river beds along the valley floors. A network of trails crosses the park, some of them following routes used by the fur trade and native hunters and traders. The park is best known for its midsummer displays of subalpine flowers, but there are other flora such as at Rhododendron Flats(If you run Fatdog, you'll get a constant eyefull of the most beautiful flowers that even having a rough day can't make you not enjoy), near the park's western entrance, which has a substantial colony of pinkish-red rhododendrons, a protected indigenous species that blooms in early- to mid-June. Some of the less common species the park aims to protect are the mountain beaver and the wolverine.<-- So cool

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. The entire day my stomach was churning. I felt like I didn't belong in such a race. I couldn't hold any food down, the toilet and I became dearest friends and I was just filled with butterflies. During the race briefing in Princeton my stomach screamed. Searching the room I couldn't help but feel intimidated by my peers. I couldn't help but to continue asking myself WHAT AM I DOING HERE? With Javelina Jundred being the only other hundred mile distance I've completed I couldn't help but let my insecurities get the best of me. Ay caramba, what have I gotten myself into? 

Friday, August 11th

I had my race kit ready and even slept in my American Flag BoaUSA shorts. Brad and his wonderful wife Johanna (she made all the vegan pumpkin pies for Hardrock, among other yummy goodness) led the way in their car as Oliver, Molly and I followed in ours. The night before we spent around the dinner table laughing at Brads jokes and just enjoying each others company before the big dance as I inhaled my dinner and most of Mollys. 

We parked alongside the dirt road and instantly I had to go find a bush to pee in. The 2 hour drive deeper into the smoke haze was spent with decent cell service and I was able to talk to my coach Chris Vargo, my parents and some friends before heading back into the back country for the next few days. Shockingly enough my nerves had disappeared. With so many friendly faces around, I didn't feel so intimidated. A group of coyotes were out here running as well; Vishal the 120, Anna the 50 and Gwendolyn the 40 miler and of course a few of my favorite PNW friends were running as well; Colton and Lisa Large. I tried to take photos with as many people as I could! I mean that's what I'm here for, right? To socialize!

Well, I did sign up for this right? After a final gear check we were sent off! We ran up the dirt road and looped back down to disperse a bit before the inevitable konga line that will form. I began hiking after fellow Territory Run CO Wilder runner Jennifer Love and her runner Larry who she was pacing and basically ran with them for a bit. 

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How I feel...

My mind began to wonder. Extra effort given to push through the dense air, my lungs not agreeing with the quality of air mixed with 90 degree temps I was forcing into them. The climb seemed never ending, was it a mistake to not have hiking pole? Probably. My breathing short and shallow, unable to fully gasp in a complete breath I continue in a forward motion, climbing upward. In the dark haze of the distance I can make out the mountains, it may not be picturesque but still oh so beautiful. I stop to take it all in. Despite the idea of running this kind of distance, I promised myself I'd enjoy the views- no matter how terrible I felt. Using the moment I attempted to catch my breath, still unable to breath to my full capacity- I continue. This was only the beginning, I had no idea the magnitude of suffering I'd endure within the next several hours. We have only reached 10 miles of the race and I couldn't breath properly.

I begin running the decent, remembering some advice Nick Coury gave me during Hardrock and I immediately slowed down. People passed me, sure, that was inevitable, but my thought was to save my quads. We were descending into the next aidstation and I was ok with taking my time. The girl with the red shorts passes me and we begin talking. I'm in no place to be competitive but we chat about the race- her third time running it and other races we've both ran. Despite the inability to breath properly, it was nice to have a friendly conversation. Almost a constant during the beginning of this race!

Running into Ashnola I was completely out of water. I instantly spot Randy Duncan and am overwhelmed with happiness! So thankful for the incredible volunteers! I am full of smiles, quickly forgetting how I had been feeling the last few miles- lets be honest, since mile ONE.

All photos above by the talented and amazing Jeff Fisher! 

I leave the aid station fully stocked and begin running the fire road to the next climb. I run into Nik, originally from Russia but is living in Issaquah. I lose any concept of time at this point. We had spent a few miles talking and that slowly just faded. I stopped to pee and Nik continued on, I knew I wouldn't catch up to him, my spirits began to spiral down. I continued forward and slowly but surely my stomach began to turn, next was cramping of all different locations, and my energy level began to plummet. I took electrolytes and began drinking even more water, worried that my body was starting to shut down. At this time the terrain was a bit more manageable, rolling hills along a meadow filled with an abundance of wild flowers of all colors. I find myself stuck in a mix of emotions, fighting my body's lack of strength and my minds will to shout in immense happiness over these beautiful colors. THESE ARE AMAZING! I wanted to instantly take photos of all these glorious colors and send them immediately to Rhea, my wild flower trail runner best friend back in Los Angeles- yet the will and energy to do so was too much to bear. The ripple effect of these cramps, up my calf and quad reminded me to stay focused. I verbally apologized, and mentally snapped a photo of the moment in time- the sun castings it's rays oh so delicately upon the pedals as they sparkles there well wishes and happiness to me. I drank it all in but still with the aftertaste of regret. I continued forward, ever so slowly. 

Breath, Sawna, breath.

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I force myself to stop running, forbidding my legs to continue if I am unable to breath fully.  If I have to hike- so be it. I spend the next mile, although on a flat trail, just walking. taking in Deep breaths, forcing more electrolytes down to possibly stop the cramping along with more water- stomach disagreeing with every action. 

I continue on, my motivation was to catch up to Nik, to have someone to chat with. My body, although still moving well, didn't feel right. I could see him running in the far distance and I knew I wouldn't catch him. Attempting to run along the mountain meadow, the view was breathtaking, quite literally and figuratively. A guy passes me and is extremely chipper, points out the incredible smoke cloud behind us of a fire that just began. Yeah that's interesting but my real question is how are you so happy? Instantly I knew I had to stick around this guy: Denis from Seattle I quickly learned. I ran close by him and another runner during the Flattop Descent. It was nice to have some people to run with but my mind was focused on how badly I had to pee but with nothing coming out. I continued to drink more, took an electrolyte tablet and continued forward listening to the two runners talk. I was worried. The drops of pee that were coming out were dark dark brown and I couldn't tell if it was brown or red. It felt as though I had a bladder infection, not a fun feeling and one I wanted to resolve quickly. As we run down Denis starts conversation with me and I quickly begin talking about my issue. I need advice. More electrolytes and more food. I take two more electrolyte tablets. I was thankful to have the gu roctane drink pretty handy, the fruit punch one that I could easily sip on! (The Summit Tea one, the only thing I could describe as the closet thing to human flavored throw up, not a flavor id be sipping on anytime soon). Slowly my stomach began to settle and we both celebrated an hour or two later when I was able to pee more than a few drops. Phew- a sigh of relief. 

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I may be able to pee but the leg cramps and low spirits continued. There's a very sad Sawna running through the mountains right now and although I was acknowledging the feeling, I couldn't mend how broken I felt. I craved a familiar face, a family member, a friend, a loved one... I craved a hug. A warm embrace, a shaken too- saying "Sawna you can do this". Every molecule in my body was telling me otherwise, telling me my body wasn't ready nor happy about the toll I was putting it trough. I hoped that I'd be surprised at an aid station and looked forward to each one to come... thinking maybe. Yet when I arrived, my mind wondered, there were so many loving faces, although strangers, each embraced me with warmth and kindness and any other expectation flooded my mind. 

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Crossing the Pasayten River around 8pm my spirits were at an all time low. Although I had only ran a mere 39 miles, my quads felt as though I had already ran 100. They were beat up and I was ready to sit down and not get back up. I was still running with Denis, who provided great company and conversation but I was done, physically and mentally with this course. I didn't want to go any further. I held onto the rope as my legs emerged into the water, trying not to let the force push me aside I hold back tears. Reminding myself that this is something I wanted to do, something I paid to do. I go to sit down and realize Denis is putting the reflector jacket on and I don't even stop. I knew if I wanted to drop I couldn't do it at a minor aid station and may as well continue forward than prolong the inevitable.

I just want to get this over with.

It's only two miles at Bonnevier where I can drop. One foot in front of the other I follow alongside of Denis as we continue running along the road toward Bonnevier. 

What an aid station! We got there and it was full of crew, pacers, and volunteers. I am instantly greeted by Jeff Fischer, fellow Territory Run CO Wilder runner and I hold back the tears that want to flow out. "Don't be a baby Sawna, MAN UP" I tell myeslf. My body cramping up like crazy I express how terrible I feel and without a word he is helping. "I cant drop now" I tell myself. This is so embarassing!  I make my best effort to smile and try to portray that I don't feel like shit. "I can't drop" I repeat. I try to put fresh socks and shoes on and my leg goes in a full cramp. Jeff the angel that he is, remedies it. Gives me a banana (none of the aidstations carried bananas) out of his car, some electrolyte tablets and forces me to eat. Just having a friend around my spirits begin to rise.

Dang it, am I really going to continue? All sorts of cuss words flow through my mind. 

I search for Denis and he's waiting for me. 

More cuss words flow through my mind.... HERE GOES NOTHING.

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Dang it, Sawna.

I grab my 1,000 pound pack which barely has room for water due to the long list of required gear and profusely thank Jeff for his help. As we exit a volunteer asks to check our required gear and I simply asked her to look at how bulging my pack was and ensure her that I have EVERYTHING. It was heavy. The next section is 11 miles of climbing toward Heather aid station and it was already dark. We began to climb and think it's not too late to turn around but quickly notice a pep in my step. Whoa, the cramping has completely disappeared and I instantly feel like chatty Cathy. Denis and I chat the entire climb, talking about his wife and baby, my fur baby... really just anything and it seemed as though time flew by. With only 129 pee breaks and 1,452 farts we arrived at Heather and were able to restock on food, water and some laughs with volunteers. All the chairs were filled with runners looking a bit disheveled and I was amazed at how well I felt. My body didn't feel so good, but my spirits were high. 

We thanked the incredible aidstation volunteers for being there and were off on the next section. It was a runnable section toward Nicomen Lake. 10 miles it said, it felt more like 16. We ran for what seemed like hours upon hours and only passing one or two runners. This is where we ran into Vishal sitting on the side of the trail, not feeling so well. After offering help we continued on and met up with Andrew a fellow runner who just like us, didn't have any pacers. We continue onward together as a group for what seemed like another hour. 

Arriving at Nicomen we were shocked to see that they barely had any water left and only a batch of saltine crackers. Maybe that's only what I saw but I was relieved to just be there. We only stayed a minute or two before we continued on. It was a long trek toward Cayuse Flats. It was late and we were all tired and overwhelmed by the miles that we have ran already. My eyes were getting heavy, my feet were clumsy and before I knew it I was on the ground- not remember the last few seconds. Had I fallen asleep? Who knows. 

Denis, Andrew and I continue forward at our best attempt to run. Eager for the next aid station We try to calculate how much more time we had. I had already ran out of food and was quickly draining my water yet was still peeing every ten minutes. I had started with two flasks and a bladder and somehow my bladder was already out- not realizing the there was a tear in the spout and had been leaking water this entire time. Great. I've had this pack for not even a month and a half and its ripped during the most important race. 

We continued forward, our hopes high that we were getting close to the aid but the trail continued onward and so did we, in silence. My mouth dry, pack light from lack of water and nutrition, I dig for anything of substance and find a packet of Nutzo butter and I was elated. FOOOOOOOOD. 

After much walking the last mile and a few whimpering on my part we arrived at Cayuse Flats. I was happy to be there! They had breakfast burritos and bacon cooking and my mouth was salivating. As I eat some watermelon and wash it down with another Gu... If there was a time I didn't choose to be vegan, this would be it. I ate watermelon, avocado and some blueberries but I felt as though I couldn't catch up to how depleted my body felt from running out of food. The next aid, Cascade was only five miles away of steep climbs and descents, yet my eyes could not stay open. Fatigued, tired, overwhelmed, I don't know what it was but I was struggling to keep up with the guys. They wouldn't have any of it! I looked at each log, each patch of leaves as an opportunity for sleep but if they kept going, as did I. I wasn't going to loose these guys now. At this point I was getting really irritated about my peeing situation. It continued every 10 minutes or so. A problem I wished to have at mile 25 now seems like such a chore. I need more food. Cascade aid came up quickly and I was able to devour some pickles, more avocado and chips. I ran into Nick Knipe, fellow Coyote runner and pacer to Vishal and explained to him how poorly Vishal felt and how worried we were for him. 

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2 miles from Cascade was Sumallo aid. It definitely wasn't two miles but at this point nothing matters. Vishal comes sprinting in with Nick and I'm floored by how amazing he looks. What the holy Crackers. WHAT drugs is he on and how do I get some... is my thought as I pick my jaw off the ground, unable to wrap my mind around how he's actually here. 

We depart the aid as a group. How am I still here? My eyes won't stay open and I'm struggling to keep up with the guys. 13 miles until the next aidstation seems unbearable. I've eaten 4 gu's in the last 20 minutes. Why you ask? Well, I eat a gu and instantly feel better for a minute or two and then crash hard, then repeat. The trail is rolling and manageable, a runners heaven if, maybe,  we haven't ran over 80 miles already.

A vibrant green log sitting next to the river bank beckons me to come over, welcomes me to sit on it's ever so soft seat. I'm about 85 miles deep and still have a grueling 40 more miles to go and have spent the last 24 hours questioning my life decisions. Trying to hold back tears, I quickly inhale yet another gu energy gel without gagging. 

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"This taste so good" I say out loud, trying to persuade my taste buds that this consistency we've been eating for 24 hours is actually what my body wanted. My two friends I've made during the race, Denis and Andrew, are already out of view now. I've fully excepted the idea that the rest of this quest may be ran alone. I start to cry; shoulders tense up, face goes into an awkward and seriously ugly expression but tears do not flow as they normally do. Acknowledging that I'm dehydrated I quickly snag a few more gulps of water and begin jogging again. "Don't be such a baby" I tell myself as shock waves ripple through my calves and crash into my quads, completely fighting my commands- nay my begging, to continue forward, but against the pain I persevere. A flashback of last months Hardrock 100 flies through my memory. "You have no right to complain, Sawna" I scolled myself. This shit is easy compare to what Katie went through. I remember how her knee locked up just before Chapman yet, despite the elevation, the pain, and the time already on feet- she pushed through. I remind myself that I have no reason to complain, do I want to run Hardrock 100 one day? Hell fu**in YES, so I wipe these invisible tears, suck it up, and cancel the current pitty party I was throwing myself. But boy do I like to throw a good party! Salt stained faced, dirt covered legs, oh so tired legs, I continue forward... one foot after another, one gel after another. 

A few runners passed me as I plastered a smile on my face and greeted them with enthusiasm. Maybe if I pretend to feel good, I'll trick my body. I begin whimpering as I jog ever so slowly as I repeat to myself "it could be worse, I could feel worse!". I hear talking and fast feet approaching as I'm shuffling along and see its Gwendolyn, another coyote flying by. Note to self: sign up for shorter races. She's running the 40 miler and I couldn't help but feel jealous. I feel the ugly face crying approaching and I pushed it aside. STOP IT SAWNA, MAN the F- Up! I could feel my brother by my side, cheering me on- he was always the one to say if your dreams didn't scare you... they're not big enough. Always pushing me off the skate board ramp or toward the next black diamond with my kid snowboard strapped to me feet, or toward the next big wave. Well, Tono I'm pretty sure this is as stupid as it gets. I snap back to reality, hopeful, I think the aid station is soon, I could feel it. 

Saturday, July 29th...

I woke up to car lights. Parked at the Red Box ranger station in the San Gabriel mountains, I can count on one hand how many times I've slept in a bed since I left for Colorado in June. After being in Colorado for a month training, pacing for Hardrock and drinking tons of beer, I came home and continued to Airbnb my apartment- hoping to make some extra money before leaving again for almost two weeks in Canada. I assured myself that it aided in my trail running. Instead of sleeping in my apartment all the way in Hollywood- I'd sleep at trail heads in my car and wake up right where I'd want to run. A few times I'd sleep at my parents but the majority of the time I tried to live out of my car, shower at the climbing gym or lets be honest- not shower at all. It was an adventure! I can honestly say my vegan dirt bag dishes I put together were ON POINT. Everything I'd ever need is in my car, an ice chest, cooking supplies, change of clothing, my computer, books, my journal, and of course my fur baby. At times I found myself questioning why I pay so much to live in an apartment when I seem so much happier being mobile.

Juniper and I set out to run Strawberry peak and perhaps a bit more. My coach, Chris Vargo, put together a great training plan for me and this was the last week of training before the big dance, Fatdog120. Today I was tired, but was set out to snag back my CR for the climb that was stolen sometime this month by Rhea (get it gurrrrl). At the peak, tired and already sweating at 6:30 am my semi long run turned into only a summit. I was ready to go home. Yes, my car is great but I could use a real bed for a good nights rest and tonight I'll make that happen at my parentals house. I have one last hard run tomorrow and three days to deep clean my apartment for the next visitors as I attempt to pack for two weeks in Canada. I'm excited but mostly overwhelmed. I could use a nap- but I'll settle for pancakes at Cafe Gratitude. Taper mode is fast approaching, nerves starting to kick in. 

This is really happening...

Saturday, August 12th

This is really happening...

I'm not going to continue writing about how terrible the race was, how terrible I felt, how much I cried, or how much I wanted a hug... wah wah wah wah wah. That's what you have been reading and I apologize for that but I'm trying to describe exactly what was going through my mind and how I truly felt. At times throughout the day I'd force myself to smile, wow I felt so stupid, but honestly it helped, I forced a smile and eventually it came naturally. This race has been on my bucket list since my first year running Rainshadow Running Gorge Waterfalls 100k back in 2014 where I met Dave and a few beers and Project Talaria videos later he described how incredible this particular race was, it's trails and how it needs to be on my bucket list. Three and a half years later here I am. 

I'm running into Shawatum aidstation, thankful those 13 grueling miles are over. My pack gets refilled as I ask for a banana. The aid station has none. Shocking. I then start asking the spectators and others cew if anyone has a banana and a girl runs over with one. THANK YOU again! (Literally walked around yelling if ANYONE HAD A BANANA- I've gone looney) I spot Andrew and wave as I down another half of avocado and wait for some veggie broth to be poured. My mouth is salivating for calories other than gu. Don't get me wrong- gu has been working. But honey, it's been 93 miles, I want a pizza or like a good brown rice veggie bowl. My pack gets filled and the water automatically starts spraying from the nosel. It's completely torn, and I don't think I bite that hard on a pack I've only had for one month and two weeks... just saying. Knowing I have only 6 flatish miles till Skyline I opt out of filling up both my flasks. One flasks has water flavored throw up and the other still has the rest of the actually good tasting roctane in it. I finish my banana and jug the veggie broth and Andrew and I jog out. My legs are tense but my spirits high. The peeing every 10 minutes continue but my heavy eyelids begin to lighten and I become energized- finally. Andrew and I slowly make our way to the next aid as we talk about life, adventures and our homes. After awhile Anna, another Coyote who's running the 50 miler, passes us. It was so nice to see a familiar face! I was elated that she looked so happy and so strong, this girl is a beast and shes running fast! Dreaming that I could be running her speed I pick up my step, and ask Andrew if I could lead the way for a bit. 

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A this point the sun decided to pay us a visit. It's rays shining through the trees and kissing my skin with its warmth. I accept it's offer of warmth, embracing it's instant energy and positive charge. Everything around me seemed to perk up, the trees sang against the light breeze, the leaves greener, the ground softer. I begin to sweat heavily, but it felt more like a detoxification, my body riding of all the crap I've been eating. Weirdly enough my speed began to pick up. One step in front of the other, faster, and faster.

What is this feeling?

My legs! I don't feel them, or should say I don't feel the lactic acid build up. I'm running and running a good pace. I've somehow lost Andrew and continue forward joyous on how my body was feeling. 

I FEEL GREAT

I don't know what the cause of rejuvenation is but I gladly accept it- I felt better running at mile 95 than I did at mile 1. I caught up to some of the 40 milers running and ran with them straight to Skyline aid where I was greeted again by Randy Duncan, Lori and so many runners. It's a party! I have my hydration pack refilled again, letting them know not to drop the spout or all the water will spray out as I downed a blueberry smoothies a volunteer made me. For once during the race my face hurt- from smiling so much. I spot Denis sitting in a chair and he tells me I've passed a female runner and am now second female and I couldn't care less. I was high on life and I couldn't wait to continue running. I grabbed a gu, and filled a flask with veggie broth and at 2:20pm was back on the trail. 

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I recite a mantra that I have used since my first year at Javelina Jundred (Thanks Mike)

I am cool.
I am calm. 
I am powerful. 
I am a machine.

I'M A MOTHER FU**ING MACHINEEEE

I start singing "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen as I continued running up the trail. 

My legs, my body, my spirits all feeling great! I didn't want to stop, knowing I had ONLY 20 miles to go! The thought of finishing was now a sure think, never seemed like a reality most of the race. I told myself "this is just like any other run, pretend Vince is in front of you and you're just trying to catch up" a constant occurrence in all of our runs together. So I continued running, singing to myself, passing other runners, completely alive, as alive as the water draining currently from my hydration spout. 

I continue, feeling strong, up the mountain. At this point I stopped looking at the distance on my watch because it seemed as though every aid was off. My pack had already been drained of water and I only had the veggie broth left. I began to hike, hoping that thirst will not become an issue before the next aid station in god knows how long. I didn't mind, yes I feel great and could keep running but the views were incredible! Why not enjoy the moment!?!

Arriving at Camp Mowich I explain my water leakage and request only partial refill and just relied on both my flasks. My spout continues to spray and I give up, I leave it leaking as I talk to Vishal who sitting at the aid station trying to fix his stomach pains and then I continued on. 

Did I mention how great I felt? Because I still didn't believe it!

Is someone playing a trick on me? How is it that I feel this good now? Was it worth suffering for 95 miles for a glorious 25 miles? Maybe not, well obviously yes... I'd do it again. I stopped to snap a few photos of the snow capped mountains in the distance. I realize I hadn't taken any photos since around mile 10 yet held onto my phone the entire time. The views, although still hazy, were breath taking... in a good way. I continued running along the ridge line toward sky junction. 

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I was flying!

Once I was at the aidstation I grabbed a mini cliff bar and immediately left- the finish line was at my finger tips and I was only 8 miles away. 

8 miles. 

That's it. 

Since Skyline I had only eaten my gu gel and the flask of water down veggie broth and my body wasn't hungry. Now this is Sawna, the mountain runner I know! Don't ask me who that whining baby was before- I don't know that girl. 

I grunt as I am forced to hike up a climb, why did I think it was all down hill from the last aid station. There has been several mini climbs along the way and on this one I hear "Oh hey Sawna"  I've caught up to Gwendolyn. Whoa. I ask her opinion on how many miles we had left- and continued forward. Thinking these mini roller coaster climbs will inevitably end and we'll have a sweet steep descent to the finish. 

 Finally hitting the descent after Skyline Ridge. Photo by:  Brian McCurdy

Finally hitting the descent after Skyline Ridge. Photo by: Brian McCurdy


 ̶I̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶c̶o̶o̶l̶.̶
̶I̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶c̶a̶l̶m̶.̶
̶I̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶p̶o̶w̶e̶r̶f̶u̶l̶.̶
̶I̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶a̶ ̶m̶a̶c̶h̶i̶n̶e̶.̶

I'M A MOTHER FU**ING MACHINEEEE
I'M A MOTHER FU**ING MACHINEEEE

I repeat to myself as I begin running the descent toward the finish line as the last 33 hours events flash through my mind. Two days ago I was on the same trail thinking how would I feel at this exact moment and I would've never guessed. Not for a million bucks. I knew exactly where I was. 

Two miles left from this tree branch...

1.5 miles left from this junction... 

One mile left from the bridge... 

As I run along the river toward the bridge, the Finish Line is just across the water. As much as I wanted to cry this entire race, I was almost emotionless. I couldn't put into words how I managed to get to this point... how did I do that? I feel as though I was asleep for half of the race, not quite remembering certain sections or how time flew by. 

And just like that I ran underneath the Mountain Madness arch with the sun still out and I was done- 2nd Female finisher and 14th overall in 33 hours 30 min. Something I wished for the entire race yet was a bit sad that it was over. Yes, there was cheering from spectators but the finish line was anticlimactic. With no pacers, crew or friends it seemed like any normal day in the park. Not that I expect a party at the finish line but it just wasn't what I expected. I quickly spotted a familiar face, Oliver, and all those feelings disappeared. His genuine happiness and enthusiasm for life is contagious and I was so happy to see him, although that meant he dropped. 

What can I say? I crossed the finish line at 7:30 pm with the wind in my hair and sun on my face. The last section took me exactly 5 hours and 10 minutes, being the fastest section of the race for me. How? Don't ask me! My body hated me for most of the race and then finally agreed with what I was actually doing. I scarfed down a veggie burger and a few water bottles while chatting with Oliver before showering and returning to the finish line to wait for Molly. I grabbed a chair, and used one of the emergency blankets from my pack that I carried for two days and watched the others run in. It was around 11pm Molly, pony tail flying in the wind, smile on her face, sprinted toward the finish line and completed her first 50 mile run! I was elated for her! 

The next day was a blur. My body felt great except my right big toe tingled, almost in a ticklish/painful way. Molly and I went back to Manning Park for the awards and we were able to see several familiar faces! We also both received free entries for next year. Is this something I'd like to relive? During the race I would've cussed a ton and said you're crazy if you think I'd run this race again- but considering the race if over and I have time to reflect, I definitely would. I don't think I gave it my best effort- if anything it was just about surviving. I have a lot to learn about the 100+ mile distance, nutrition and knowing more about my body. Good thing I have time to think about it. Still bitter about not getting into AC100 for the 3rd year, but I hear Cascade Crest is lovely(when it's not stormy or smokey). ha!

If my race was a movie, this would be the soundtrack:

GEAR LIST:

Inov8 Trailroc 285. (Best damn shoe I've ever ran in and it's not because I was on their #getagrip challenge this summer, but I have had ZERO feet issues since wearing them and my feet, and myself, are uber thankful!)

Boa USA American Flag Shorts

1. California Socks 2. Territory Run Co Getaway Sock

Territory Run Co Singlet

Inov8 L/S half zip up (My favorite L/S but I never used it- it was way too hot and stayed around my waist to collect the water spraying from my pack- it was lovely)

Nathan VaporHowe 12L Vest (Super awesome vest minus the whole spout tear and completely leaking of water when, you know, I'm running 120 milers- note to self... carry another bladder in drop bags- still love the pack!)

Goodr Sunglasses

Territory Run Co Gorge Hat  

TONS OF Bandanas- RunLikeAGirl, Inov8, TerritoryRunCo, I had tons of snot rockets and used them to dip in the streams and clean my face with. Necessity.

MANDATORY GEAR LIST THAT ALL RUNNERS MUST CARRY:

  • 2L of water minimum

  • Pants/tights

  • Tape seamed rain jacket

  • Long sleeve

  • 2 forms of light (headlamp and hand torch)

  • batteries

  • Personal cup

  • Warm Hat/Gloves

  • Whistle

  • TWO Survival Blankets

Which made my pack extra heavy!

 

Would I run this race again? Yes!

Would I recommend this race to others? Yes!

Alright folks, this is my best account of what went down for the pre, post and during Fatdog120 event. I hope you enjoyed it!

Till next time,

Peace, love and happiness.