I left Rotorua so pumped after an incredible weekend! Something great about pushing boundaries and finding new limits – and doing it with other like minded passionate people.
My build-up was mixed. 2014 was a good year, with my most consistent training to date and new half and full marathons pb’s. I started ramping up in December, then crash. Mid-December hit a wall and my body shut down with fatigue. I would finish a 5km run feeling like I had run a marathon. Unsure whether this was due to increased training (most likely) or something viral, it ended up in 4 weeks of rest and frustration. Especially as this was over the summer holidays when I was planning to do my long runs.
In January I managed to get 3 long runs in (30km Bethells / 43km Top of the dome to Waiwera / 40km Cape Brett). It wasn’t until mid-Jan I committed 100% to doing the run and the fatigue I was feeling finally went away. Not the quantity of training I wanted, so had some nerves about how I would go.
My race plan was to stick with Brent. We ran well together in 2014 and both were expecting similar times. Walk the hills, eat regularly, fuel up at aid stations – take the start nice and easy, reassess at 60km/80km. The start was great, awesome atmosphere and great support from MEC friends/families and general spectators who cheered us on. The first leg went quick and we got to Okareka around 15mins ahead of plan. up and onward we ran. Was great to run with Brent for the company, to keep each other in check and discuss our plan, and how we felt – as well as reminisce of a year earlier on this leg when Brent’s guts let loose. We got to Okataina on schedule and feeling good. I got some supplies from Alice, Mum and Dad, a few photos and then on we ran into unknown territory.
Okataina to Tarawera falls was beautiful. Incredible terrain and views, great trails. My legs started feeling tired around 40km, earlier than I was hoping and made me nervous. Mike managed to sneak past us at 60km. If it weren’t for the MEC singlets, we wouldn’t have picked him out ahead of us. Even with his easy start, he had smoked the last leg and overtook us (can’t say this was a surprise).
The Titoki 70km was the turning point for me. I replaced my pack for handheld bottles, got some encouragement from the whanau, some kumara fries and off I went. Almost heading off down the 85km track to my inattention (thanks Stuart for correcting me). I took off without Brent and thought he would catch me shortly after. The 70-80km was my best leg, I felt great (relatively), ran freely and felt like I was at the loop of despair in no time. I had prepared myself for this climb to be quite horrific, however I was ready for it. I was glad in one aspect – that I was forced to walk and it was some relief to have a break from running.
Leaving Awaroa, I caught up with mike, had a quick chat and then kept going. The ultramarathon changes your perspective, and now it was less than 20km to go and I felt l was on the ‘home stretch’. The long straights were tough on the mind and there were long patches of no one around. Most of this time on my own I was thinking of my pace and whether I could now make it under 12 hours.
I had been battling eating for the last half of the run, I wanted to stop eating food /gels but kept forcing it in. Just before fishermans bridge, I forced myself to down one last gel – it was 1 too many. It went down, then came straight back up – with my nuts, fruit, sandwiches, lollies…. This actually made me feel better – and made room for some pizza (real food) at fishermans bridge aid station.
In my head I had calculated Fishermans bridge was 12km from the end – this meant I had to run 5:25 min/kms for the last 12km to hit sub-12. I ruled this out, as this wasn’t going to happen. The next sign said 10km to the end – I had just run 2km in less than a minute! Perhaps there is a chance. 10 minutes later my watch ran out of battery (and I had left Ron’s gps in my pack when I ditched it at 70km). I tried to keep my pace up, with the now unknown goal of if I could finish sub-12 and also of more importance to me – finishing strong. Coming into the Kawerau fields was great, knowing the end was near – I dug it in. You could hear the finish line well before you could see it. I was determined not to let a guy in yellow overtake me, which kept me going. Coming into the finish, I was under 12 hours. So happy. Official Time – 11:51:52.
Massive thanks to my family for their awesome support over the weekend and Alice for supporting me through the training! Driving back to Auckland after the MEC brunch, I felt extremely satisfied. Had such an amazing weekend, not just the race and reaching new goals, but getting to spend the weekend with my family and the MEC crew & their families.