Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Katoomba Aquatic Centre to Queen Victoria Hospital CP4-CP5

At the 67 km mark I had just caught up with 3 blokes, they went straight for the drinks stand, I went straight for my support bag. I filled up with water 1.5 litres, put more food in my running belt, and emptied out my rubbish. I had a look for Mikey and the Kids, but could not see them. I put my mandatory gear, a fleece and water proof pants, in my back pack. These items had to be carried from Check Point 4 until the end of the race in my bag. An official checked that I had all my gear, asked if I wanted a hot drink, I said “Do you have Milo?”, I was trying to get out of there as fast as possible, I had no Idea where the next female was, and I was coming 4th at this stage.
I was on my way out when I has handed a steaming hot milo. It was too hot to scull, so I said no to it and ran out the door of the aquatic centre.
I had planned my water for the previous leg perfectly, I had just run out in the final kilometre the 66km mark, so I was as lite as possible when I was climbing out of Nellies Glen. There always seemed to be a line at the check point drink stations, and I just did not want to have to stop. It was like I would enter a different world of the living if I started communicating with anyone else. I was so focused on getting in and out of the check points as quick as possible that I may be doing myself some damage.
When I ran out of the Aquatic centre I came up behind the Blue Shirt Guy. I told him I was a head of schedule by an hour, and I felt good. “I’ve been eating every 30 minutes” I told him, he replied “I’ve hardly eaten at all, are you tired?” I said “I’m a mum I spend my whole life tired.”, we ran together through a reserve in Katoomba, he let me lead, I set a cracking pace on the soft and spongey grass patch called Mc Rae’s Paddock, a place of significant Aboriginal Heritage, I can see why, this place was fantastic, it was like running on springy pillows, I was loving it. It should be respected and looked after.  I avoided this section in training because I was lost and it looked like it was house hundreds of leeches! I was training in torrential rain, so I was sure the leeches would be out, especially after my 6 Foot Track experience I was convinced they were everywhere.
We ran along chatting, I told him “ I have missed my kids, my family was not at the check point, I don’t have a support crew.”, he replied, “That must piss you off”, I said “Nah, I am an hour early, it is a good thing, I hope they work it out by themselves, they should be tracking me”.
We ran along the cliff for a while, then up some stairs, he started to cramp. I offered him some hydrolytes. He said he had some salt tablets. He just wanted to stretch, so I left him there and ran on. He seemed to be okay. The track was covered with tourist, some of them were great, cheering for me, others just got in my way. I tried to call out to them in advanced but some of them did not speak English, so I had to be a bit more forceful than I would have liked to get past them. 
I hit another set of stair to climb and I was swearing again, “Fuck, Fuck, Fuck”. One tourist from England asked “Does that help?” I replied “Yes, it makes me feel better, after 68km it all hurts you have to do anything to keep yourself amused.”
I ran out and past the Echo Point, then down to the Three Sisters. I came to the Giant Stair Case and there was an official warning tourist that we were coming through. I was so thankful that he was there and I did thank him for his help. I had my gloves on, so I used my hands as a brakes as I tried to stop the controlled falling that I was doing as I flew down the stairs holding onto the banisters for balance and to control the speed of my descent down these incredible staircase. I caught one runner, then another, then another. I was flying. I was doing it. Only 1 more check point, and this long down down hill section I was going to make great time.
More tourist were climbing the stairs, but they all saw me, I tried to work out where they were from, “Mesice” I said as I ran past the French tourist.The was a few groups of them , I was impressed that they went down so far.
The stairs just go on forever, they changed from sandstone to metal  stairs then back to sandstone again. I caught my finger on a pole and jarred it as I ran down them. I thought that was going to hurt later. I was flying, swopping angles of my knees from side to side to reduce the impact as I descended.
I hit the bottom of the stairs I turned left onto Dardanelles Pass, and hit the Leura Forest floor. It was beautiful, warm and I knew which way to go. In training I had no idea where to go and spent most of the time lost, but on race day there is a marker every 500m. I then followed Federal Pass towards Fern Bower, over a cute little bridge then I turned onto the Track that I missed in training, and smiled to myself that I was doing it all so much easier compared to training. The markers made it so easy to navigate and I lost no time as I followed the path with ease. I knew I had a massive down hill section coming up. I ran onto the single man track which soon became a fire trail and I caught another runner, I passed some officials who where checking in the runners at the bottom of the canyon and started to feel hot.
My head was hot, my body was hot. I remembered my near muscle melt down insadent that I had at Oxfam last year, when one of my legs had to do the work of both of my legs. I suffered some muscle damage in my right quad due to me over using it because I had multiple stress fracture in my left foot. I carrie that injury into the event, not wanting to let my all female team down. Our team ended up coming 2nd female team and 10th overall in a time of 17 hours and 9 minutes.
This thought crept in, and I decided to slow a bit, drink water and try and cool myself down. I thought about all the caffeine gels I had consumed and all the drink stops I had missed, and I knew I had to cool off. I was going at a cracking speed, but I was worried. Your mind can play tricks with you when you are tired,dehydrated and low on glucose. My nose had stopped running, I had a head cold, it had been running all day, so I knew I needed more fluid. I had a big drink, and kept running. A man from the Sunshine Coast ran up next to me and passed me on the Hill. He looked at my name tag, and asked me how I was going. I said “ I’m okay, just hot” I was dressed in just a singlet, gloves, cap, compression shorts, compression tights, bra and undies, running belt, back pack and that was it. He was in a beanie, thermals, top, long compression tights, gloves, shorts, back pack and all his smalls. He was covered head to toe and he was still cold. I was hot, I felt hot in my head. I had consumed too much caffeine and not enough water, and I was feeling it.
I let him go on, I said, “I’ll catch you on the down”, I ran on knowing that a massive descent of 3km was up ahead, followed by another awesome descent of 2km, so I knew I could recover there. 
I stopped to have a wee, at least that was working, I had only done 3 the whole day. I felt lighter and kept running, trying to keep myself positive. I hit the descent and just relaxed, and tried to left my legs go and make gravity do all the work for me. My Garmin watch was no longer working so I had to rely on my own senses to gage how fast I was going. I caught the Sunshine Coast Man, and another runner dressed in Camo. He asked me if I was on a team, I said “No, it’s my first solo 100km and I am just a mum.” He replied, “A pretty ballzey effort for your first 100km, you are making great time”, I replied “I’m just hot, I’d rather do it faster and get it over and done with”. We ran on together as a three some for a while. They asked my where the bottom was, I said “We still have 2 more creeks to cross”, I hit another steep hill and left them behind again, we hit Leura Creek and I ran straight through, then I hit a climb. I walked for 20 steps, then ran for 20, and continued on until I could run up to 100. I was slowing, but I felt in control. I was just over heated and I knew what was ahead. On this climb I turned around and saw a female runner. She was from Hong Kong, but she was English. She was the loveliest person, and we ran together and chatted to each other for the next  2km. She asked me “Are we were on the climb out yet?” I replied, “No, we still have 1 more creek to cross”. She asked “Where do we head out?” I gestured up towards to sky, where the towering sand stone cliffs of the Kings Tableland over shadowed us. The look on her face was of pure horror. The climb out was to take us 859 meters above Sea level and it ran for 9km along a fire trail. It was going to hurt, and it was the only way out.
We hit Jamison Creek as a group, I let them all go on without me. I needed to run at my own pace, and I was due to eat. So I slowed and started to walk. In training I was able to run up the climb, but today I was just too hot, I took my cap off my head, to try and realise the heat from my body. I was pushing myself hard and it was showing. I drank again, with my food, trying to find something without caffeine in it. Everything had caffeine in it!
I was alone for most of this climb, I hit a rhythm, counting again, 20 steps, tried to run,but I could not run. Then it was 40 steps, then 60 steps, then 80 steps, 100 steps. I then tried to run for 20 steps. Then I walked again, then tried to run for 40 steps, then walked then tried to run for 60 steps. the tried to run for 80 steps. My goal was to try and run for 100 steps. I only made it to 70 steps before I had to walk again. I was tired and negative thoughts were entering my head. I kept checking my watch and I kept reminding myself that I was still making great time.
I came across the Mount Solitary Walking Track, and I found 3 hikers, “Hi” I said and kept walking, I was amazed that I flew straight past them at a cracking pace even though I was walking. I reminded myself, that I was cool, I’m not a good climber, so I was doing just fine, I walked a few hundred meters and they were no where to be seen. This was the first time since August 2010 that I have been able to walk and push through my feet, my stress fractures have prevented me from walking for over 8 months, no wonder i was still making great time, my feet had finally healed. I was still doing okay. This spurred me on. I was able to walk at an amazing pace straight up this mountain. I felt a bit better, I tried to run again. I tried to drink some water, but I had it use it all up. Great I still had about 4km until the check point to try and stay focused on the race without water. Again I could only make it to 70 steps before I had to walk. But I knew I was near the top, I saw the “Swine fence”, this gate was wide open and been held open with a rope, I thought this was hilarious, and they let the wide bores run freely for our race! Great, someone is going to get attacked by a wild bore later tonight. This marked the steepest section of the climb, and I was so happy to be putting it behind me.
I now started to feel the cold, the sun had almost set, it was about 5pm and I was almost at the top of the climb and the light was fading and the temperature was dropping. Finally I was starting to freeze. I needed to eat again, but I realised I was out of water, you need to consume water with your gels otherwise it can upset your stomach. I found a power bar, and just took small bites of it every now and again.
I found my gloves and pulled out my head torch from my bag. I was feeling quite weak by now, low on glucose and tired that I could not work out my head torch. I swear I had it pointing up to the sky. I had it on up-side down. I played with it again, trying desperately to get it working, the light of my head torch was so dim, something was not right. I was too delirious to want to slow and stop again and use my other torch. I was not thinking straight. What made it worse was that every time I breathed the condensation from my breath made a white cloud in front of my face blurring my vision, making it harder to see where I was going. I kept checking for someone to come up behind me and helped me out, I needed help. I was not well, and I was at my limit.
I was slowing down, another runner came up next to me, I said “I’ve run out of water” I think I had been without water for about 3km by then. He replied “Don’t worry the Check Point is just up ahead”, I pushed on slowing down and getting unsteady on my feet, almost falling over. He came up to my left side and offered me some of his water, I had just a sip, but it made me feel better. i ran on trying to stay on my feet.  After a few more kilometres I saw the lights of the check point. It was pure bliss, I could drink again. I could get warm I was freezing, but I did not want to waist time stopping to get something out of my back pack again, so I kept moving. Finally I ran into the check point number 5. At the 89km mark, a few tears in my eyes, knowing that I was going to get some water, and a thermal on and re-group.

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