‘D-Day’ had finally come…
After a flat-out week at work, on Friday 17th I found myself sitting in the waiting room of the Base Medical Flight waiting for what I referred to as my “go/ no-go appointment” with the RNZAF Physiotherapist. This was the time where I would find out her best prediction with regards to how my knee would perform on race day, and perhaps some recommendations with regards to what I should do…do I run and risk making things worse? Or do I watch from the side-lines and try again next year?
The pressure is certainly there…besides internal pressure from my own thoughts, I have spent $330 to enter, have my parents flying up from the South Island to watch and have raised nearly $3000 for charity from people that I told I was running the full 80km Ultra.
At the conclusion of the appointment, her verdict didn’t exactly fill me with confidence!
She rightfully pointed out that if it hurt whilst walking the Tongariro Crossing (~20km), then running 80km through the Waitakere’s probably won’t end favourably! She also stated that there is a risk that I might do permanent damage if I push too far. After just successfully passing the selection board to retrain as a Pilot for the RNZAF, this isn’t something that I want to happen: my new career as a RNZAF Pilot would end before it even begins!
Now, I know that there are a lot of people that are about to say “yooooouuuu absolute nit-wit”, but rightly or wrongly I have decided to ‘crack-on’ and attempt the full 80km. From a rookie’s perspective: both good experiences and bad experiences are still experience…and it’s this that I will need going forward.
So what’s my new race-day plan? Well, it’s simple really! My sub-12-hour goal is out the window and instead, my aim is to take it easy near the rear of the pack and get as far as I can before my leg starts hurting …be it 5, 25 or 80km in. With a bit of luck though, it will be the finish line!
Before closing, I just wanted to quickly touch on post-race recovery. Take it from someone that has learnt the hard way over the last few weeks: recovery is almost as important as training itself. While I feel that it’s important to keep moving after a long run, I urge you to take at least a couple of weeks off running following this event; just to let your body process what it’s gone through.
You will be extremely run-down, so remember to be nice to your significant other, get lots of sleep, eat healthy and stay hydrated. Go get a massage, foam roll until you’re sick of it, and even have a siesta if you need to! For those with “itchy feet”, there’s plenty of non-impact active recovery/ cross training (i.e. swimming and biking) that you can do during this time to keep yourselves occupied. If you have entered the 80km race: a course of Vitamin-C (or similar) is also recommended for 2-3 weeks after the event, as your immune system function will decrease significantly while competing, and you will be at an increased risk of developing a cold/ getting sick.
Anyway, it’s time for me to go and get my gear ready for tomorrow! I hope to see you all out there on the trails, or at least at the finish line for a drink once we’re all done! If you have trained adequately and have your nutrition sussed, the rest of it is down to mind over matter! Despite the pain that you may feel along the way; remember to think positive, push hard, keep smiling and enjoy the experience!