That’s it. DONE!!
Goal fulfilled and one happy me! The above photo pretty much sums up my day: I was running my own race, out to prove to myself I could put in a big effort and sustain it for 34km, not out to beat anyone, just work hard. Honestly, why else muster up a finish line sprint with no one ahead to catch and no one behind to be over taken by?!
The day started early for me. 4:24am to be precise, in a mad flurry of panic as Steve had overslept and missed the 4:15 bus to the 80km start. Fear not, he took our rental car, made it there on time and we worried about the car collection later (Thanks Tammy!). I sent Steve on his merry way, slept a little longer, ate vast quantities of porridge and turned up in plenty of time to catch my bus to the start line. A bit of chat with fellow 34km-ers and a can of creamed rice later and it was time to head to the start line! I felt excited and ready!
I started well towards the back of the field for a few reasons; Steve’s pre-race advice was not to go out too fast as you can always spend extra energy towards the end but you certainly can’t recoup that once its lost, secondly because I intended to empty my shoes of sand after the beach section and there’s no real rush to get going since I’ll be sitting down emptying my shoes in a few minutes and lastly because I thought the bunch would disperse pretty quickly …. that sure didn’t happen!
I ran along the beach in the massive mob keeping an eye on my heart rate. As soon as I was off the beach I sat to empty my shoes, I think pretty much everyone passed me at this point. I was very happy with my decision to empty my shoes as my feet were comfortable for the entirety of the race. After this I must have been right at the very back of the pack and started passing some heavily puffing people immediately, up the steps I went, “excuse me, on your right”, “excuse me, just sneaking through” all the way to the top. And so it continued, eye on the heart rate monitor and smile on my face. Stoked to be out there. The kilometres passed away merrily with lots of company and a bit of chat to be had, and to my pleasant surprise mostly from people who recognised me from this blog. The first 8 or so km of the race went too quickly, up … down …. up …..down. The downs were really fun. I passed one guy who was stopped due to cramp. He declined any assistance and I carried on, concerned that my sore legs may cramp too and reigned it in a bit. Somewhere around the bottom of something a fairy in a sparkly wig bearing jetplane lollies materialised from no where. Thank you Fairy, you were there just at the right time!
The river section around Wainamu was so nice! Refreshing and runable. I hauled into the Bethells aid station and scoffed some magical watermelon as my water cup and bottle were being filled and left with a couple of sandwiches in hand. A fellow runner said to me she thought we’d make the five hour mark. I was delighted to hear this, that was my ultimate goal of the day. I don’t think anyone passed me that I didn’t overtake again after Bethells, I was a girl on a mission! Grin on my face up, up, up (or so it seemed) I went. Running wherever possible, eye on the heart rate and chin up…”excuse me, on your left”, “excuse me, just sneaking through”, up to the smiling man at the top of the hill who was cheering me on, up those steps … oh what a glorious moment that was … “excuse me, on your right”, “excuse me, just sneaking through” … to the merry crew at the top who quickly filled my cup and bottle, watermelon in hand I stumbled on through. Then I heard it, “5km to go!” what?! I thought I had eight to go?! “five!”, nearly lost my s*!t right then and there! I was definitely going to beat my goal of five hours. Tears prickled my eyes, the image of my young friend Jake (see previous blog) entered my mind and I was off again. Off as fast as my little legs could carry me to complete my last five km!
The shoes, oh the shoes! My only pre-race dilemna was which shoes to wear. My old favourites, comfortable as old slippers with minimal treat left or the Ice Bugs, super grippy and confidence inspiring but nowhere near the comfort of slippers. Given that I was preparing myself mentally to be out there for 6+ hours with possibly swollen feet due to the heat the debate raged in my head. In the end I chose the Ice Bugs and as soon as we got onto the first descent and every kilometre after that I was very happy with my choice. I didn’t loose my footing once and the shoes drained incredibly well so I didn’t bother with rock hopping in the rivers I just plunged on in, confident in the knowledge the shoes would empty out instantly on exit. The socks? The magical socks! For those of you wondering, no they don’t fall down. They didn’t budge for the entirety of the run, in fact significant effort was required to remove them.
The finish line came quickly. Up off the beach (so much up) and mustering every last bit of energy I had, off I trotted to be greeted by a man with a magnificent beard and flowing locks. THE END! Well, not quite. I anxiously checked the tracker results to see where Steve was. I knew he’d be hating it in this heat. What English man likes that kind of heat when out for a run?! A text message came through from him, “The wheels have well and truly fallen off for me … been mostly walking since Bethells … really struggling in the heat… Can’t keep food or drink inside. Shame as I was going great.” I quickly found someone to drop me at Constable Rd so I could finish the last 5 km with him, but before I got out there he’d gone through the aid station! I got myself down to the beach and a few minutes later there he was moving along looking so strong! Up up up that nasty sandy wee hill we went together and to the finish line we went, and a top 10 finish for him! What a great day! What a great man! SO proud of him for pushing on through in conditions that don’t work well for him. THE END!
It took many people to make it possible for Steve and I to train for and attend this event. A big thanks to my Mum, Irene for having the kids for the weekend, Rebecca for looking after the kids for those glorious long runs we got to do together with the kids returned washed, fed and ready for bed (such a treat!), all our Playcentre friends for looking after the kids and joining me for intervals, Roberta for getting me out when I’d rather be in, everyone who joined me on various other runs, my mountain bike from Santa that has been waiting very patiently for me to ride it, Steve and the kids for being interested and excited about me running, and lastly to Jake, for inspiring me to really put my heart into doing the very best I could.
Whaia te iti kahurangi,
ki ti tuohu koe,
me he maunga tei tei.
Seek the treasures of your heart.
If you bow, let it be to a lofty mountain.