Coolrunning.com has a little history of the Fat Ass, and it turns out this particular one evolved from the granddaddy of em all, which was originally run on Hwy. 1 from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay.
About 10 or so people showed up for the 8am start at Saratoga Gap. I had a chance to meet and run with a number of people including Brian Robinson, Adam Blum and Sean Lang. We headed north from the parking lot at Saratoga Gap, eventually crossing Hwy. 35 going west. We crossed through Portola State Park, Pescadero County Park, and Big Basin State Park eventually ending up back at Saratoga Gap.
I did my best to stay with Brian and a friend of his, Adam Blum, and Sean Lang on a long uphill section in Portola State Park, but ended up redlining my heart rate and dropping back. Actually, I hit a new maximum heart rate on that climb (gotta remember to reset my HR monitor)! I caught up with Sean a little later, which I couldn't believe, as he is really speedy. As we ran together for a while, he mentioned that he had taken December off, and had been nursing an injury, so my catching up to him made a lot more sense at that point. :-) We hit the lone aid station at China Grade and stopped for a few minutes to munch on some chips before hitting the trail again.
A little later we hit the Skyline to the Sea trail. I was feeling pretty good at that point, and picked up my pace. By Waterman Gap, though, I tired somewhat as the weather turned overcast and cold. With 7 miles to go, I pushed as hard as I could but still had to walk some of the uphill sections. With about 3 miles to go, I caught up to Adam Blum and we stayed together for a little while. He was struggling a bit, and stopped to rest at the overlook pullout on Hwy. 9 a couple miles from Saratoga Gap. I continued on, again, pushing it when I could but still walking some of the uphills.
At this point, I just wanted to get back so I could get my sweat soaked clothes off as I was pretty cold. The temperature had dropped noticeably as some cloud cover moved in and the wind picked up. I made it back to Saratoga Gap with a time of 5:44 to find Adam there. Turns out he got a few crackers from someone at the pull out and rebounded. He started out back on the trail, but ended up running part of the Saratoga Toll Rd. missing a turn off for the SttS trail, which is how he passed me.
In talking to Adam as we logged our runs on the sign-out sheet, he figured he was getting a bit hyponatremic, and the salt helped restore balance to his electrolytes. I had thought of it, but when I asked him if there was anything he needed, he said no he had water and food, and I just figured he had electrolytes too. Next time I come across a situation like that, I'll make certain to go through the laundry list to make certain. Lesson learned!
I had a great time, and felt pretty good throughout the run (except for getting really cold the last hour or so). The course is beautiful, and challenging, and I think it's one I'll have to get back out on in the future for general training, not to mention running the "official" Fat Ass run next year.