The last three days have felt like a drunken three week bender from my lack of sleep. So much happening in a short space of four days. My pace22 on Friday and Grants 100 the next day…
Thursday we left for Katoomba. It was nice at home, around 24 degrees. Arriving in Katoomba the temperature dropped to around 14 degrees with massive winds. It was freezing.
After checking out the three sisters and race check in for the Ultra Trail Pace 22, we headed to our apartment and I cooked my pre race meal- steak and Dianne sauce. It went down a treat.
Packing my race vest, I packed everything I could, should or would need. I haven’t ran a half since November last year and my run training has been minimal with maybe four runs in the Watagans this year meaning my prep for the UTA pace22 wasn’t good.
Sunday morning we drove to race briefing where I met Libby and Kathleen then jumping on buses to be taken to the Queen Victoria Hospital start. This is also CP5 for the hundred.
It was cool in the morning but not too bad. The start came quicker than anticipated but I wasn’t nervous- the worst that could happen is that I walk, and I had 7 hours to do that.
Before we knew it the race was on. Kathleen, Libby and I all started together at an easy pace. Before we knew it we were walking up inclines that I wasn’t even aware of around the start. Kedumba was up next and it was a never ending fire trail road going down. Libby and I discussed if we would hate the downhill more than uphill as it just punishes your knees and quads. We decided at this point the downhill would be the worst. Reaching Jamison Valley we were pretty excited to have reached the valley floor although this meant that we had only one way to go and that was up. We had some happy snaps just after the river crossing and were feeling fresh after 8km or so down in just over an hour. We were flying. By this stage Kathleen was in front of us as she has this amazing ability to fly down hills (I’m too scared I’ll fall flat on my face, as I have demonstrated several times at cross country)
Looking up leaving the dry river was not what I expected. I has heard how bad this was going to be but I don’t think I ever visualised it. This was a never ending hill- and it hurt to just walk it.
Every few hundred meters people were stopped on the side of the track sitting down or hunched over. Some I weren’t sure if they would even make it.
I was huffing and puffing with my hands on my hips. Libby looked fresh as and I’m pretty sure she was just waiting for me. Somehow we made it to the emergency checkpoint and shoved in chips and lollies before heading to Leura forest via the old sewerage treatment works timing point followed by a muddy delicious swamp we had to go thru. Leura forest was cool compared to the fire trails and was mostly single track, undulating and quiet dark. I had to check a few times to see if I had my glasses on (they change to clear in low light anyhow but had to check). There was a fair few stairs and water crossings mixed up with some mud and a lot of stepping stones. We were able to jog along most of this section. It was a bit of a cat and mouse with Kaylene as she is faster on the downhills than I am but I seem to catch her with the inclines. After somewhat leaving Leura forest started some long stairs, even though I hadn’t seen a sign for Furber stairs I figured these must be it. Some stairs were short and some long paired with some parts you could get a little jog up. A couple of sections of this and some actual stairs with handrails I thought we must be nearly at the finish. Soon enough we hit a checkpoint with some crew to be told that Furber starts now. Fuck. I had been getting some cramps for the last few km but was able to keep running but hoped my calves would keep up for this next challenge. Every set of stairs I hammered up them followed closely by Libby. Kathleen was a little behind as we passed her just before Furber.
My heart rate must have been skyrocketing as I was on the verge of vomiting so I had a few breaks on the stairs. My legs were cramping pretty bad too but with help from Lib I kept going. I think it was the second last lot of stairs my calves cramped so bad I couldn’t move so I tried to stretch for a few seconds before going up to just before the finish line. My calves had me stopped in my tracks and I couldn’t move. Libby grabbed my hand and we (somehow) ran to the finish. Maybe it was a fast hobble, I’m not sure.
So many people in the finish Shute were yelling out and cheering us- it felt like everyone was- I have no idea who everyone was, but Thankyou!
We crossed the line and got our medals and visors. Then I was stuck and couldn’t move. I had to do a very very slow penguin walk to the fence and was given a firm talking to by a crew member to have water and magnesium when I’m home. My legs uncramped and I was able to go get some churros and coke.
Originally my race goal was under 4 hours but after my last training run from Heaton to Mt Faulk I knew I was in trouble and quickly changed that goal to 5 hours of under. This would be my longest race of any sort. Even though it was 22km; the elevation was down thing I have never an before. Libby and I come in at 4:05:28 so I’m really stoked with the result.
A big Thankyou for Grant for being my Sherpa and helping me before and after the race, to Libby for holding back and running with me (I know you could have done it faster), Kathleen for also running with me- you’re a bloody champ!, Anastasia for house sitting and looking after furbaby Oscar while we are away racing and anyone from the Newcastle region of runners that gave encouragement, hi5s and advice along the way.
Looking back now I know that my nutrition leading up to the race as well as under training were to blame for my leg cramps, but I guess it all comes down to experience and learning what did and didn’t work. Up for the 50 next year Libby?