Monday, February 14, 2011

Significant failure at Caboolture Dusk to Dawn


Bandana on head, shirt off.
Nic Moloney to the left, John Pearson to the right.
500 metres of track in front.
Twelve hours running and walking.
Pretty simple, really.



We started out hard; I was attempting to keep to Nic's race plan. As a result, we clocked 12km in the first hour, and just under that in the second. After draining myself of excess fluid, I ran hard to catch up to Nic, causing my hamstrings/hips to flare up. As a result, it was just over 11.5 in the third hour, marginally ahead of Nic. The next one and a half were all centered on getting to 50km in under 4:30, which I did (4:28).
Such a strong focus on an interim goal is not desirable in a race of this type, and I payed dearly. I spent the next thirty minutes stumbling and waddling around the track, dazed and decimated. The enormity of the task ahead was playing on my mind, and I could not think of any good reason to keep running. I was fixed on dropping out after six hours.
As always, ego came to the rescue, reminding me that, when asked how I went, I would have to tell people that I dropped out after six hours. Why? There would be no plausible explanation.
No reason to keep going, no reason to quit.
So, I just moved forward, running where possible and walking otherwise.
I put in the headphones (to my disgust) after this and cranked out some good laps to the funky tracks on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, before crashing again.
The body was holding up pretty well, but the mind was not.
Hours 8-11 were largely hard to remember, but a few moments (maybe not even from this period) stick out:

Flirting with torill, the women's leader.

Me: Man, you're doing really well for your first 12 hour.
Relentless Caboolture Road Runner: Yeah...but the last two and a half hours have been...sad.

John Pearson (men's winner): I like the serenity of the back straight at night, it's just you and the demons.

Receiving encouragement from Steven, the 50km treadmill world record holder, and a great bloke.

Seeing the very attractive girl (sadly, the girlfriend of another young runner) sitting on the edge of the first/last curve every lap.

Me: My toes hate me.
Nic: Hate them back!

Trevor flying past every-so-often, exclaiming "Come-on!"

The most beautiful smile of encouragement that I have ever seen, coming from Eric's wife.

Walking laps with Libby, who put up with the nonsense that I was gibbering due to lack of sleep.

Finally getting to sleep...on a wooden bench for 20 minutes.

Realising, somewhere around 3am, that my life is perfect, and that there is no other place that I would rather be than here.


In the last hour, my feet became pretty unbearable, so I took my shoes off and just walked. I just wanted it to be over. And pretty soon it was. While Nic ran to get the first shower, I walked over to the benches, and sat down. After about half an hour, Mallani asked a question, and I gave some completely irrelevant answer. She stared at me blankly, then said "your eyes look different".

Because of the electronic lap-scoring, we didn't know the results immediately. I found out the next day; 98.797km. Wow, that was much below the 120 that I was hoping to achieve (or the 110-115 that I realistically believed that I could). The weekend before last at Kozzie, the two races the weekend before, and the 18km run with Matt Meck on Thursday night had all finally caught up with me. That, and I wasn't in the right mental place to give it a nudge when shit got real after I hit 50km.

I am so grateful to Mallani and Libby for crewing for Nic and I. I felt guilty yet thankful to have someone doting on my every wish for a whole twelve hours, another experience basically unique to ultras (atleast for non-royals). Everyone there was so nice and helpful, even if it was just a word or two of encouragement, or a quick chat.

For me, the race ended at 10:30pm. It was over. The weight of my arrogance had crashed down upon my shoulders, and relegated me to the middle of the pack.
I was reminded how much harder ultras are when you aren't running for a high position.
And, I was reminded why many people consider 50ks to be just a long marathon. It's true. Twelve hours is completely different; metabolically, muscularly, structurally and mentally. You have to break through the wall two or three times. You have to move forward; to will yourself to move forward; for more than a working day.

Despite putting up a lowly total, I am glad to have finished what was surely the worst race of my life. I didn't achieve what I had sought to; for that I've been humbled. I perseversed; for that I'm proud.

The day after, I feel great; my feet are intact, and my muscles aren't too sore, aside from the pesky hamstrings/hips and calf. The next two weeks will be pretty quiet. I may put in a climb of Mount Barney with Mike next weekend, but aside from that, it will be next to nothing training-wise.

I have decided that, once I return to uni, I need a certain measure of consistency/routine in my life. as a result, after this brief repose, I will start putting in 18-22km every weekday morning, running everything possible, doing 2km at sherwood on Saturdays, and some miscellaneous run at a harder pace on Sundays (or a rest if I need it). Then, in April, we'll start hitting the track on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a faster-paced long-run (20-30km) on Wednesdays, a race on Saturday, and easy 8km runs otherwise. The first half of April will involve a taper for Cook's tour, before running that one with serious intent. The rest of the month will be taken easy, before running alot of tempo stuff in June/July in preparation for Flinder's Tour. After that, running will be concentrated into a few days per week of long stuff in preparation for Glasshouse 100 mile. This plan is ambitious, to say the least, and could easily be derailed by injury. But I will stick to it if I am able.

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