75.699km!!!! Trophy!!!!!! A week later and I can’t quite believe that it’s real. My last post I said I was aiming for closer to 80. Soon after starting and the temperature dropping significantly, it became more about just finishing rather than any km target.
I arrived a the track just before 1pm to see some of the 6hr runners and to support MsMook running her first ultra. I was a little concerned that she wasn’t drinking enough and must admit to thinking it was warmer out on the track than it was, but when negsplit arrived ¾ hr or so later…he confirmed…more fluids needed! She was running so well and was like a metronome….and stepping up the pace a little every few laps...to finish 2nd female under 50..and a trophy!!! Woo Hoo! Eagle was out there looking strong, Buzz alternated from looking good to looking in the wheelie bins! But seemed to come good again. Slash was walking well for his first 24race and it was all a buzz on and off the track. I didn’t really want to go, but knew by 3.30pm that it was time to head off and try to get some sleep before my race…so reluctantly I did.
Not sure it was sleep, but definite snooze, pasta, shower got ready and set off back to the track. When I got there at 8.45pm it was already only 7 deg and dropping! The 24hr runners were getting rugged up and the sri chinmoy team were looking like setting in for a night of cold weather. I set up crew spot (thank you to slowmo for helping me down from the car with things) and started to get organised. I had planned my layers and figured I would warm up fairly soon once moving. Time to meet our lap counters – what a friendly team of volunteers the lap tent were – a very big thank you!
Then we were off! I was running prett ywell for my first few laps and figured I should probably drop back the pace a little as I had 12 hrs to go, but I felt good and wanted to warm up, so kept it up. Negsplit commented on it too, but let it go for a while to see what happened. I took off my top layer after about 7 laps I think, my first stop…..and not long after that, went back in to get my ‘wind’ jacket as it was cold! And that’s how I stayed for some hours – off and on with layers and couldn’t get settled. I think the first 2 or 3 hours were good, then I just started to get cold and quite flat, no energy. I hadn’t counted on using so much energy to keep warm! At one point my ribs and torso were so sore, they were aching. I couldn’t work out why, but figured it was the cold. So, added another layer on and off I went again. It’s very hard to run in so many layers…….and it was a battle each lap. Somewhere in here, I realised that it was just getting colder and colder, the layer of frost on the ground on on top of everything…..was turning to ice and becoming thicker. (-3 degrees at 2am we found out later). Some of the runners even had a layer across their backs. The table I had was all slippery and uneven with ice, the top layer of my clothes box had ice on them (so quick shake off and lid back on), my food was frozen! Snakes, jelly tots, mars bars – all solid. Nutella pikelets are a little tricky to eat when the nutella is frozen. I went to put some more vaseline on my waist – and it was solid too. Negsplit and moondust (who came out for a few of the coldest hours!) did a great job keeping my layers that were coming on and off, as dry as they could, and warm, although one of my pairs of gloves pretty much froze on the table. Each time I stopped I wrapped myself in my sleeping bag to try and keep warm – until the layer of ice was more hassle to brush off than not…so it stayed on the chair where negsplit was perfecting the art of sliding out from underneath it without disturbing the ice layer! Hot ribena is awesome!!!!! Except for the extra toilet stops….which were good and bad ….I visited the portaloo once only – too cold to be peeling off compression pants in a portaloo trackside, so I would go into the toilet block…..it was warm in there, so not as bad, but very difficult to come back out again in to the cold! At one point, negsplit offered to move everything in under the cover under there, but I knew I’d never get moving again if we did that.
By this stage I was walking. Too hard to run in the layers and not enough energy. I was trying walking. I was actually coming good a little and wondered if this might become a walk event for me…and promptly decided that wasn’t an option! I would get running again, or I’d stop. And that ‘s the argument that played around in my head for the next few hours. Will I keep going, or stop? I found out that you can move a fair way around the track, with your eyes closed wishing you were curled up sleeping somewhere warm!
Neither negsplit or I wanted to make a call on pulling out……so we kept looking ahead in small stages – to the turn around at 4hrs (which didn’t happen until 6hrs), to 5hrs and then I decided that I hadn’t put both of us through 5 hours of freezing temperatures, to not finish it off with a good effort, so decided I was there to stay and to get running and some sort of routine going again. And then promptly changed my mind a number of times after that as it seemed to get even colder! I got to 6 ours somehow - walking, running, layers on and off, and had a look at my km total…..and realised that even with all my difficulties, I was on Narrabeen pace or maybe even a fraction faster…those first few hours of faster laps were worth it. So, time to really get back into it and get moving. So I did. I started off with a run 3, walk 1 lap then come back in, and I think changed to walk 1 lap and eat, then run 3 or 4 then come back in……not really a set routine, but it worked and I was feeling better. Negsplit was doing a great job of keeping tabs on my fluid and food intake and keeping my energy levels as good as they could be. All the time, freezing once he was out of his cocoon of sleeping bags and blanket when I came in for a break.
The support from everyone on the track was great – we were all cold, and it seems as if most people had good and bad times out there. Some outstanding running and walking from everyone. Sarah Jane was always cheery, even when she was doing it tough, ERB was always cheery fullstop!, Slash was always just out there and moving – well done. To Wadaye and Rocky – great to see them both out there, although Rocky thought better of the cold a few times and didn’t want to come out. Robert, the barefoot champion – what an awesome achievement. I don’t know how he kept going, but he did!
I don’t usually like sunrise when I’m running - I like the dark, not waiting for the light to keep me going (although I do love watching the sunrise for the colour spectacle)….but I was desperate for the sun to rise this time- it would bring warmth! Well, I didn’t feel any warmth until about 9.30am, by which time I was running hard to get as far past my Narabeen distance as I could. I clocked through 73km, a pb, about 40 min to go I think, and then decided I wasn’t stopping……and I got to 75.699km! My last 3 or 4 laps were 2:30 or there abouts, which after the night I had, I was pretty pleased with! When it was finally over – I said never again in those conditions! It was the toughest race I think I’ve ever done – not so much the 12hr part, the laps didn’t bother me at all, they were great, but the temperature!!!!! It was just soooooo cold. I love the cold, but not that cold to run in.
Sitting and waiting for presentation was wonderful – it was in the sun…….but then we had to get up and walk again!! My first ever trophy and who would have thought it would have been for running! 3rd female under 50. As it happens, there were only 3 of us, but I still say I earnt it, and am very proud of it. I couldn’t have possibly got through, without Negsplit – on the night and all the training leading up to it. Awesome job- thank you. Thank you to moondust for coming out and keeping me going too, and for some good training runs together – nice to have you back out and running too (although now I have to find a way to catch up with your speed!). A big thank you to the gadfamily too – Mr Gadfly, Gadfairy . I couldn’t possibly have done it without all their support through months of training and planning, and for coming out to see me through at the end!
Definitely more 12 hr races to be challenged, and maybe more beyond that, but for now, a few quieter weeks to recharge!