The sun was shining and after much talk of it being cold and rainy, it was turning out to be a hot and windy day. As a group of like-minded trail loving crazies, we stood on the grass by the ocean at sunrise ready to embark on this epic adventure together. The vibe was electric and before long we were off. I hadn’t run in over week due illness and felt like a bird un-caged. I fell into a rhythm and made the most of the flat running! I was smiling and felt so free. It didn’t occur to me that being out front was an indication I was running too fast. Hmmm…
As I crossed the first beach I was stunned by the beautiful scenery, this course was going to be breathtaking! As I hit the trail off the beach I started to get overtaken by some of the guys. I ran past the assistant RD Brett, he snapped a photo of me and suggested I was going too fast and needed to be careful not to ‘blow up’. Hmmm. Shortly after this I went to take my first dose of Perpetuem. It didn’t go well. My stomach instantly went into severe cramp. This was new and not at all cool.
I ran into the first checkpoint (22km) and my family was shining. The kids were excited to show me a koala they had found, and Tessa was asking me if she could have a snack. I blurted out how lovely the course was whilst Joe helped me top up and I was out of there! I knew something wasn’t right but I just hoped it would pass. The time came to ‘eat’ again and the same thing happened. Now water wasn’t staying down either. I took a breath. This section of trail was simply spectacular; I decided to send my energy away from my stomach and just focus on the fun, winding and beautiful single track. This worked for a bit.
* Forehead slap *
As I left the checkpoint and started the climb up a 5km fire trail hill I looked over my shoulder and said to Joe ‘I don’t think I want to do this’. He instantly replied ‘you don’t have to’. Perfect response. I smiled and trotted up the hill. Man Joe is excellent. 10km into this 25km leg I was cooked. I felt detached from what I was doing. I’m certain the scenery was amazing and the trail as sweet as they come, but the truth is, I can’t recall any of this. I started to think I was lost. I even got my phone out to call for help at one point but had no service. I wasn’t actually lost.
* Second forehead slap *
At the 80km checkpoint I was still in first place but losing physical and mental faculties fast. I thought of stopping….
If I pull out now my kids will think I’m dropping out because I know I’m not gong to win. That’s not cool.
I want to show my children that it doesn’t matter if you have to go slow, walk or come last, as long as you keep trying, that’s good. Right?
I really want to see the 12 apostles…that’s the best bit!
I have come 80kms…sheesh!
With 7km to go I was stumbling and nearly planted my foot on a tiger snake lapping up the hot road. I barely flinched. In hindsight this was a big sign that I wasn’t ok. As I staggered up onto some single track a spectator (Mick) asked me if I was ok. ‘Actually, I don’t think I am’ I replied. He chased after me. I explained that I hadn’t been able to keep anything down the whole race. He said ‘what about water?’ ‘It doesn’t stay down long’ I replied. ‘I’m just going to stick with you for a bit and make sure you are ok’ he said. ‘You can’t help me’, I babbled, ‘I just want to make sure you’re ok’ he reassured me. Mick started to ask me about my family. ‘How old are your children?’ he asked. This was the moment I knew I was REALLY not ok. I stared at him blankly, with tears in my eyes. Mick distracted me and kept me lucid and talking.
At 97km’s my friend Kathy McMillan passed me to take a very well deserved second place. Kathy is an authentic and beautiful person who has been running so well and I was thrilled for her. With 500M to go Mick encouraged me to soak it up and never forget how it felt to complete something so difficult. I ran up onto the road and spotted my crew. The kids ran towards me and held my hands as I crossed the finish line, third female in a time of 11hrs 46mins. I vividly remember exhaling, looking up and smiling. I paused momentarily and then my knees buckled underneath me. Jacinta floated in and gently looked after me.
It has taken me three and a half months to write this. I guess I needed to wrap my head around a few things. For me, I feel a sense of disappointment with my run. Not in my time or place, but in how I ran my race. I believe so strongly in listening to my body and being guided by instinct. I didn’t listen. I should have taken time at the checkpoints to reboot. I should have stopped and fuelled myself then eased back into it, I know this. My competitive brain and my ego were driving me that day, and it was a humbling disaster.
* Third forehead slap *
In this race, my body was the teacher and my ego the student. It was a transformative lesson that I am grateful for. I will never run like this again. Ever. (Ever, ever, ever)
I really look forward to running this event this year in the way I know how to run with my spirit free and my body guiding me. I can’t wait to truly see and feel the trail for the full 100km’s! Thank you to Andy, Brett and their team for putting on such a fantastic event and for looking after me. To my trail angel Mick…you may have very well saved my life, thank you. Thank you also to my wonderful coach Matt Cooper for guiding me so well and to my dear friend Jacinta for supporting me so beautifully. To my family, in particular Man Joe, I love you. I’m sorry for the stress and thank you for the watermelon.