I ran up the 494m climb before the first CP of the day Watagan HQ, realising that I was safe from running out of water before the check point so I emptied any excess water I was carrying to take some of the weight off. The first 28km were almost all up hill, I had climbed from just above sea level up with 3 major climbs over ridges, and up bush stairs, though a rain forest and I was feeling the strain on my legs. I just wanted to be as light as possible.
I ran past the marshals, showed them my number and found Mikey, I was in a panic. Mikey is not the best person to have as a crew member. He has not really run these sort of distances himself, so he just does not get it. He tries his best but is easily distracted by a good book. I did chat with him before the race about the gear, supplies and what I will be wanting, but he is a bloke, and he was reading a Neal Stephenson Book, and he is my husband so I just have to hope half of what I said will be remembered.
I found my Gear and Food Box, switched my food bag, filled up with water, switched my water bottles that I was carrying in my front filled with Sustain, a high salt electrolyte mix. I asked “Where are the Hydrolytes?”, I knew Mikey would forget something. He left the Eski in the car. “Don’t worry!”. And I was out of there. I ran 1/2 way down the hill and realised he forgot to get the rubbish off me.”My Rubbish, you forgot to get my rubbish off me!” I yelled. I emptied it out on the track hoping Mikey would be allowed to come and collect it. I wanted to leave it on the trail, trying to conserve my energy and avoid running back up the hill. “You have to come back” the marshals said. “Fu3k”, and with that I flung my back pack on the ground, picked up the rubbish and ran it back to a rubbish bin in the fenced off check point area. “You need to calm down”, A female marshal said to me. Bugger off I thought, you try and be calm when you are pushing it as hard as I am, on a trail that you have never been before, with a husband who is not a skilled support crew member. But I said nothing, and just ran off back down the hill enjoying the leg stretch I was having from being so light. I soon started to panic again, as one of my wrist bands broke off. It must have ripped when I removed my back pack from my body.My stupid outburst was costing me. I called back to the marshals, telling them what had happened fearing disqualification. They could not hear me, so I decided that I was sick off running around waisting precious energy for stupid reasons, so instead of running back to the check point to tell them what had happened so they could hear me properly I decided to place the stupid wrist band in my Tri-belt pocket and keep moving, fearing that if I waisted any more time at this stupid check point I was going to explode.
My adrenaline was pumping, I had the shits. I had no idea what the rules were about the wrist band, and all I could think of was that this incident better not get me disqualified. Another runner came up next to me. “Are you okay?” He asked. It was Darren, another PT but from Terrigal. “I have the shits, my husband is a terrible support crew and my wrist band was broken.” I said, trying to remain clam. We spoke about the climb coming up. For the next 10km we would be climbing up a ridge to a height of 521m. “I don’t want to know”, he replied. I walked for a bit, trying to recover from my outburst. I tried to think of positive things whilst running along this featureless rolling fire trail. I was feeling slightly sick, the day was starting to warm up, and I missed my hydrolytes. All I could think of was the stupid wrist band! The uneven ground really played havoc with my ankle which had been giving me problems in the last few weeks. My tendons on my inside ankle were being pulled, with every step on a descent at just the wrong angle on the rocky fire trail I would feel a sharp stabbing pain. Thoughts of a stress fracture entered my head. I do have a very recent history with stress fractures, and I would hate to have another one appearing in my foot. I had been running for over 3 hours now and I was starting to get bored with the monotonous trail. Darren soon disappeared out of sight.
I decided that I was too heavy, and I would empty out some water, I carried too much water for to the first CP, and I was not going to make the same mistake again. Immediately I felt relief, I felt lighter. Before long I was joined by Mal, the guy I spoke to before the Race. “You’ve done well to catch me”, I said a bit depressed, as his time last year was not so good. He was either running super well or I was just getting my first taste of reality. I waved at him, encouraging him to join be on the climb. But at the top of every climb I would float off down the hill and be just out of reach. This happened for some time. I even invited him to pass me again, wanting to take the pressure off myself so I could just concentrate on my own race. “Nah, your just to fast down the hills for me” He grunted up the climb, “I’ve run too much and I have taken Voltaren to help with the pain.” Knowing this I left him, he would not be able to catch me if he was injured. The pain in my foot had stopped, and my body was feeling pretty good, except for some tightness in my hamstrings.Voltaren also decreases your performance by up to 10%, and it plays havoc on your stomach and kidneys when you are taking them with any endurance sport. I tried to manage my own pain my being smart with my hydration. If I felt tight, I just tried to have a small sip of my electrolyte mix, it seemed to help relieve the strain on my body. I was moving at a better pace, and loving the long descents into the valley. My body had recovered from the climbs that i had conquered earlier in the day and we had past the 40km mark and I knew it was pretty much all down hill for the next 12km. I pushed on at a great speed, managing sub 5 min Kilometres again.
Suddenly I had to stop and wait for Mal, I hit a turn off and I was unsure of which way to go. We both checked my map. “Follow the sign posts for the GNW”, he said, even though there was a bright Pink arrow pointing in the same direction as the map notes in another direction. I had to trust him as he had completed the course before. I continued to rolled down the hill, using my speed and agility to gain some distance between myself and Mal, I hit a turn off for a single man track descended from 521m down to 160m I was having a ball. I just enjoy running down the side of ridges on a single man track at top speed, picking out the trail ahead of me, quickly deciding which rocks would hold my weight at the same time using my gymnastic skills to keep me from over balancing on the even ground. I listened to the lizards, snakes and other animals rustling in the bushes as I come pounding past. The thought of snake bites do cross your mind, you are made to take a compression bandage in your pack just in case this happens, with every stick that brushes your leg you do just hope that it was not anything sinister.I could only wish that the males running ahead of me have scared all the Dangerous Australian Animals away.
I made it out of the bush, through a paddock where I hoped there would not be any cows, or bulls waiting for me. Here I quickly peed , checked to see if Mal could follow me down the descent and crossed over a fence and continued onto a country road.
I was making great time, I was back on track for my splits and even made up some time. But I soon realised that I was out of water. I had my last gel and finished off my last mouthful of water, cursing myself for tipping it out on the climb coming out of CP1. You idiot. You have 100km to run, not just 50km, and I had just made such a stupid mistake. It was now midday, and I had only a cap on to protect me from the scorching suns rays. I forgot to put suncream on at CP1, as Mikey did not have it ready. I again did not want to wait any time waiting for him to get it at the last CP. I had 5km of open exposed road to go before I could have another drink. I was so stupid. De-hydration is just so hard to recover form, there is a reason why they are going to weigh you in at the next check point. I usually have heaps of little tiny sips of water or hydration fluid every 15 minutes. But I was dry, so for these last 5km I will be running as fast as I could to get to a water source.
Fast feet, was all I could think of. I have been spending some time a a bike of late trying to work on my cadence whilst resting any injured part of my body. I just tried to move as fast as I could without expending too much energy. But I was hot, and thirsty. I was running past ponds, and puddles on the side of the road contemplating having a drink from the murky water. But I thought better of it. We were surrounded by farms with cows and cow shit. I’d hate to be running the next 50km with gastro. So I pressed on willing myself to get to the Check Point as quickly as possible.