With the record set at 10:10 for a supported run and a 10:25 for unsupported, this was always gonna require a big effort. Both these runs had be laid down in good track/running conditions and I knew that my attempt would be in the worst possible track/running conditions. My training had encompassed a myriad of intentions. I had been out on long runs (4+hrs) with minimal fuel and only water to condition my body. I had raised my long runs gradually up to 7hrs. Over the last three months I had started training with a pack containing far more weight than I would be carrying and had gone out and ran the course in three sections including 2 loops. I got advice from those who know the trail well and experimented/risked giardia, by drinking from the streams along the trail.I gathered information on nutritional/calorific needs and experimented with these over 6 months.
The middle of winter would see either a start or finish in the dark. I weighed up the pros and cons of either and opted for a start before daylight. The morning was hot and humid and a mist obscured the track initially but cleared slightly as I entered Hamiltons. In the daylight I am able to pinpoint, accurately and quickly connection points and hop at speed through this treacherous trail. It soon became apparent to me that this was not gonna be the case this morning. I was unable to work out the 4 or 5 connection points in advance that allows me to maintain speed. The obvious answer was to slow down, which I did slightly and reluctantly. I must have been about 500 metres from the end of Hamiltons when my left foot slid away to the left. Usually my body is able to respond quickly to any unwanted movements and auto-correct but under these conditions there was nothing. My foot twisted and jammed and I was sent slamming knees first into tree roots. I managed to smack my elbow and wrist and recieved a blow to the head which sent my lamp flying.
My first thoughts were of my children. I swore there and then laying in the mud that I would never attempt running through here at speed in the dark ever again. I knew I had recieved a blow to the head and reached for my lamp which was just infront of me . I washed my hand in a puddle and dried it on my vest and checked for blood......there was none. I slowly started to move my legs to check their function and then got to my feet. I walked a few paces through the mud and to my relief realised that I was not seriously injured.
I made my way to the Ascent at Karamatura knowing that I was in some pain from my left foot and right knee but hoped that these would fade by the time I reached the top. The descent to the Whatipu road was awful. The easily run tracks of the summer were gone and the feet were constantly re-adjusting to maintain balance. By the time I reached the Omanawanui ridge the pain in my foot had not gone away. I didn't stop at Whatipu (3hrs) and ran over to the Pararaha Valley. The tracks were in the same condition and being unable to move as I usually would on slippery surfaces due to the pain in my foot and now knee to improve on my speed bored me beyond belief.
I replenished my water supply at the Pararaha stream and changed my socks after the crossing, hoping wildly that this might make my foot feel better. Never in my life had I been so pleased to be running on sand as I made my way to Kare Kare. I didn't stop and climbed over to Piha (6hrs). Here I seriously thought about stopping and contacted my emergency support. I decided to strap everything that hurt and continue. By the time I reached the Kuataika track it was obvious this was over. I contacted my emergency support (top tip: at the gate of Whites there is cell phone coverage on the track side but none on the otherside of the gate) and told them to meet me in Bethells. I slowly walked and limped my way to Bethells.
So lessons have been learned. The obvious about dangerous running but a great lesson in stamina. I knew I could just have easily dropped back into Piha but psychologically felt it would be better to go on to Bethells (10hrs). I used a walking stick so was able to keep the pressure of my foot and strolled along like some happy tramper. I had felt great all day, apart from the injuries, and the nutrition, water and calories were perfect.
We are tough but we are fragile, we are many but we are few, we are stupid but we are also amazing.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
No races for me sadly life has got complicated. I have still been training but have only done 5km road races (around the 19 min mark). Still try to get a long run in on the weekend. Things will get better.....runnning demads it. On the upside though, I can say that running has kept me sane, focused and has provided me with tools that I am learning to use to beat the well poisoners.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
22K run at Hunua yesterday. Last year I injured myself when overtaking on a narrow track and would you believe it... I did the thing again. About 28 mins into the race I decided to overtake a few runners to keep up with my mate Wattie. As I passed a girl I had to go off track and kicked a stump at full pelt. My foot gave way and I landed on one knee but was travelling at such speed that I instinctively forward rolled back into an upright position and straight into running. Amazingly I finished the race. My knee, which had gushed blood throughout the race only had a few deep cuts but I had broken two toes in the collision. Still, felt strong and finished in 2:30 something. A good rest is great.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
As usual the first race of the X terra series found me with a heavy cold and in no way race fit. I started the race not knowing if I'd be choosing the shorter long course at the split with the superlong. I felt sluggish and ill for the first 10k and it was a stuggle to keep going. My training of late has seen me not using gels anymore but getting my body used to using the food and fat supplies within it and I sure could have used a gel after 10ks. When the split came I decided against wimping out and was starting to feel a little better (psychologically that is). The next 5k I concentrated on picking up my pace and was getting close to my usual race pace for the last 6k. I finished in 2:11. The usual cramps on the last km were the only signs that I had been running a race (and the mud). Back to back long runs continue for the Hillary trail run in July.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
So I had the minimus for about two weeks before I attempted to run a 100 km race with every type of terrain you could ask for, from tarmac to gnarly mountain trails and stoney forestry roads. I broke the shoes in during my taper and put about 100 kms on them over two weeks. The longest run I did in the Minimus before the race was 30 kms on dusty angled single track trails. The shoe felt great and made you want to run lightly, improving the overall fluid motion of running. The night before the race it rained heavily ensuring that there would be enough slippery slopes to give the Minimus a good test. Race day started with a forestry road ascent that turned into single track then descended on single track to a tarmac section of about 8kms, then climbed to a forestry road. This was the first 20 kms or so and the shoe felt great, especially on the tarmac. The next section was a technical single trail ascent. The lightweight minimus made the ascent effortless with enough grip on the descent to make the slippery trail no problem. Next was a real technical runners dream, 20 kms of root infested ups and downs, rocky, slippery drops and switchbacks. This gave the minimus a real good sole test. I have been running in Inov 8 X-Talons for over a year so am no stranger to harsh underfoot conditions. My feet loved the contact that the Minimus allowed on this type of trail. Like a light footed ballerina I danced my way over and in between the roots. I played it safe on wet rocky drops as I did feel the shoe give once or twice. Alas all good things come to an end and here is where the shoe, for me, fell down. The minimus had performed well over soft trail, even gnarly roots and large stones, for 55kms but the next 15 kms involved long sections of stoney forestry road. I found myself looking for grassy patches or where the pine needles covered the track to run on and at one point yelped in pain as a real sharp stone poked into the soul of my foot. At the 70 km aid station I was told that the next 30 kms would be much of the same so I changed shoes. So for soft, grassy and even tarmac tracks the minimus is fine and would probably be ok over stoney ground for short periods when the footfalls are fresh and light, and are able to counter the harshess of sharp stones. They performed well over technical trail and their lightness was a great asset to fast uphill ascent. The day after the race I had no injuries or discomfort that I would normally have if I had used shoes with much thicker soles but my midfoot sole area was sore after thousands of strikes in this area. A great training shoe and brilliant sole toughener, I foresee an entry level shoe for minimal running but no 100km all terrain racer.