Friday, May 25, 2012

Check Point 4 Katoomba to Check Point 5 Queen Victoria

I ran in the the Katoomba Aquatic Centre feeling tired but oh so happy to be up and out of Nellies Glen. I had a huge down hill section waiting for me and I was on the home stretch with only 35kms to go. I quickly found my drop bag. I removed my water proof pants and fleece from my Solomon Advanced Skin Lab 5 Set back pack and dropped off my UltrAspire pack.
"How far ahead is Beth?" I asked the Marshals.
"10-15 Minutes". The marshal replied.
Cool with this I was off and running out of the Check point area. My pack felt tight. Immediately I hated it. I stopped and dropped it to the ground and checked to see that I had my gels. I was starting to lose my concentration a bit. I forgot that I packed everything into the pack so I would be totally organised. I just forgot how organised I was.
I put my pack back on and it again felt so tight. It was making it difficult to breathe. I undid the bottom strap and wished that I had my UltrAspire pack back on. It just felt so much lighter, softer and it fitted my body so much better. This particular Solomon pack just felt totally over engineered.
I caught up with another Kiwi guy. We chatted for a while. He, like the other Kiwi's hated the stairs. "There are a few to come." I said thinking of the Giant Staircase just up ahead.
We followed the road around Katoomba past the three sister and heaps of tourist. It felt to surreal running this 100km race and passing the tourist just going for a little walk. I felt so special running past these amazing Australian land marks and having crowds of people to cheer me on. I tossed away one of my water bottles in a bin hoping that it would give my chest more room to expand in the tight Solomon Vest like back pack.
I soon descended the Giant Stair case. I always hold the railings and try and take 2 steps at a time where possible. There were heaps of tourist on the track who kindly moved over for me acknowledging that I was in a race. I love this section of the track. I just have so much fun hooning down the stairs trying to catch myself from falling whilst trying to have a few glimpses of the view. I spotted the 70km mark. Only 30km to go I thought to myself. Your on target for a great time.
I hit the bottom of the  stairs and I started to feel sick again. I have been fighting the urge to vomit for most of the day. My gut felt like it was full of mucous. I slowed to walk for a few steps. I ate some food then continued on. I was soon passed my another Pairs runner. I tried to re-focus and enjoy the ride along the single man track down to the valley floor.
I past through the Leura Forrest over a small bridge then onto the small goat track to follow the trail deeper into the valley. I then caught up with the Kiwi guy again filling up his water bottle in the creek. I did not stop to tell him that I probably would not drink out of that creek......(I hope he was okay the next day. If he was out of water here he is in trouble because there is not any water for 20km......That is why I did not tell him not to drink the water in the creek. He probably needed the fluid even though it was most likey contaminated. I will only drink out of Nellie's Glen).
I leaped over a fallen tree and I was filtered out onto a grassy meadow of the Jamison Valley. I past a marshal and stopped to have a pee. When I turned around I spotted Julie Quinn only a few hundred meters behind. I ran on. Knowing that she is an amazing climber, and I was almost defenceless on Sublime Ridge and I was going to be a sitting duck on Kedumba.
She soon caught up with me.
"Hi Shona I've been trying to catch you all day. They kept telling me that you were just up ahead. That was from the 54km mark it's almost the 75km mark." She said pretty impressed with my run so far.
"Hey Julie, I knew you were going to catch me. Well done. Beth's just up ahead. About 15 minutes". I tried to encourage her.
"I'm not running this to chase down Beth I'm just trying to finish. The next girl is just behind me. About 150m back. She looks like she is starting to hurt though". She warned me.
"Thanks Julie." I replied and we ran on together for a while. But at the first incline she started to build a gap on me. I did not panic. I just nutted out my rhythm and soon the biggest descent of 100km began and I soon caught up with Julie and then past her. I lead her for the next 5km before the biggest climb of the day started to Jamison's Creek at the 80km mark.
"Man you can run down hills". She said as she past me for the last time that day.
I smiled to myself. Knowing that I was mixing it with the best. I pulled of to the side of the track and had a nature-stop my guts were not feeling the best. I wanted to be as light as possible before I tackled Kedumba. By the time I had finished a guy ran past. I was starting to hurt and it showed. I had run 80km and I was tired. My right knee was starting to play up where my hip flexor inserted into my knee joint. My hamstrings were screaming at me. My gut felt rotten. I had just lost 2nd place and the 4th place lady Bernadette was hunting me down. I jumped up just infront of a guy running down the track near Jaimson Creek. We ran along beside each other for a few minutes hurting. The 9km climb had just begun.
"What's your goal time?" He asked
"Twelve hours." Was all I could manage.
"Just keep going and you will get there". The way he said it was just so unforgetable. It was almost straight out of one of those war movie scenes when they tell the blood soaked dying solider with his guts hanging out that he is going to be just fine when everyone knows he is stuffed as they inject morphine into his veins. He was hurting just as much as me. We both only half believed what he said about making it under the 12 hours. I looked like crap. I was slowed to a walk because my knee was starting to give me grief with every running step.
Another guy can up behind me with a beard and a red shirt. "There is a lady wearing an orange top just behind you. She is running all the hills." He warned. Knowing that I was in the places and I was just about to be knocked off the podium.
"There she is" I said looking back.
I put my head down and tried to run. I counted out my steps 12345678910, 22345678920, 32345678910, 4234567890, 523456789210, 62345678910. I then lost concentration and had to walk. I was hurting. I ate my gel and had a rest. I looked back and Bernadette was just nudging closer. I tried gain to run. 12345678910. I again could only make it up to 50 before I had to walk. By the time we had made it to the 84km mark Bernadette was next to me.
"Hi Bernadette, where are you from?" I asked trying my hardest to sound friendly. I was losing 3rd position and it hurt.
"WA" Was all she replied back. With that put her head down and ran past me up the massive 9km climb.
Bugger. I tried to run. I could only make it to 20 before I had to walk. Again my knee and my head just got in the way. So I tried to walk and run 20 steps at a time.
I started to cry. I felt like crap. The climb was huge. I felt like I had failed. I'd lost two spots on this one climb and I was not happy with myself about it. I held both women off for 40km and I lost in the last 15km. I cried. Tears rolled down my face. I won't be on the podium I thought. I felt so low. I was tired, sore and now in 4th place. Who was this Bernadette lady? I also noticed she had one of the elusive UltrAspire Omega back packs on. Bugger. I wanted one of those packs I thought as the much desired back pack disapeared off in the distance 400m ahead of me.
I past the turn off to Mt Solitary and I spotted another check point and Bernadette was just leaving it not looking so fresh. This spurred me on.
"Do you have your Thermal Top and Compass?" The marshall asked.
"Wow, I feel out of it....whhhooo. Here they are" as I found my Thermal Top and Compass. " Thermal Top and Compass, far out man I'm pretty out of it. Whhohoo". I said swaying in front of the desk.
"You still look pretty fresh." The Marshal said.
"Fresh, you've got to be kidding. This is me looking really out of it." I replied.
"Do you need any water?" They enquired.
"Nah, where were you guys last year. I ran out for 10km last year through this section." I informed them.
With this I was off and chasing down Bernadette. I again tried to run. I could only manage 50 running steps. I decided that I was just going to power walk the rest of the climb. My knee was hurting and I needed to rest. I settled into a strong rhythm.
At the top of the climb I begged myself to run. Run, run, run. Urged and I slowly got myself moving. I knew I had only 3 km to go before the next check point and I had to make to most of the fading light. I put on my head torch and made sure it was working. I fastened to my head and arranged it so it was nice and comfortable. I use Led Lensor with lithium batteries. It's nice and powerful and so light. I ran along and I tried to remind myself how far I had come in a year. At this section last year I was without water. Totally delirious and hardly able to run. This year I still had legs.
I hooned along the gravel road and tried to stay positive. My knee no longer hurt and I was starting to recover. Bernadette and Julie could only catch you on fire trails. They can't catch you on single man tracks. You are a single man track specialist. I reminded myself. There is 8km out of 11km of single man track ahead. You will chase down one of them there. Come on dig deep you just never know what is going to happen. I told myself. You have your trusty Sustain mix up ahead. I decided I now hated the Hydralyte mix. Too much glucose for my body weight and glucose needs. It is probably better for a 75-80 kilo guy not a 52 kilo girl. I really believe I use more fat now when I am running and less sugar so my nutritional needs have changed. I kicked it on past the top gates of Kedumba Track and coasted into the cheers from the crowds of Check Point 5 at Queen Victoria Hospital 89km 10 hours 29 minutes. I still had a chance of finishing in less than 12 hours. Come on Shona I said to myself.

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