The 2011 North Face has been run and won for another year! 2011 was my second attempt at completing this highly challenging event that claimed me as a 'non-completer' in 2010. There were several problems last year that led to my ultimate hypothermic demise (poor gut tolerance of food and fluid, struggles with overwhemlimg nausea triggered by travel sickness in the days before race day and failure to adequately thermoregulate....to name but a few!!). With the memories of nausea, vomitting and retching fresh in my mind from 2010, I began to focus my training and preparation for 2011 on these so as to not be claimed by them again! This was certainly not an easy task (as my training partner will attest to! www.ultramarathonrunning.com.au) but eventually my gut began to cope with being physically hammered whilst still being able to digest a stomach soup of endura, vegemite sandwiches, muesli bars and lollies!! Many occassions nearly saw everything come back up but willpower prevailed!
|Jaci, Dean, Andy and I at race registration|
There I was in 25 layers of thermals, beanie buff and 25kg of polar fleece, gortex, waterproof nylon in my pack and there they were in sleek racing gear! (even my tough Welsh training partner was geared up for the cold weather… he had sleeves on his shirt this year and a beanie!!!) I decided to start in wave 3 as I was aiming for a sub 20hr completion….or simply a completion! I tried from the start to move along at my own pace and not get pulled along by others ….this year was about me getting through and to do that I needed to pay attention to what my body was telling me and not ignore it like last year! I made it to CP 1 in a slower than expected time due to all the congestion on the trails.
|Running along Narrow Neck toward Tarros ladders|
|TEAM WOODWARD! The Best Support Crew EVER!!|
Coming into CP3 was a huge mental lift for me…. all I could look forward to was seeing my amazing husband and children who are the best support a running mummy could ask for. Blanket to sit on, noodles at the ready and little cheer squad to boost my morale!! I was feeling pretty good at this point as I'd managed to eat and drink and keep it down during the 54km. I ate what was put in my hand, changed into additional long legged skins and set off for Katoomba via the imfamous Nellies Glen. This bastard set of stairs up a 750m vertical ascent was not forgotten to me from last year. The mistake I made here was eating too much and then running….jigging my stomach contents up/down/side to side proved too much for my willpower to overcome the inevitable tsunami of nausea and several near vomits…..certainly not helped by Nellies!! My old nemisis nausea had returned :(
|Feeling pretty dreadful at CP4!!|
By the time I reached CP4 I was not in a good way. A bit vagued, disoriented and overwhelmed gastrointestinally. My left knee was also violently complaining, so at this point my ability to run was gone. The outside temperature was very cold at 6pm so I arrived at this CP wearing the entire contents of my pack! Coming into the basketball stadium was almost suffocating…exteme cold outside…..hot and stuffy inside……big wave of nausea….near retch….near vomit in the wheelie bin in the middle of all the supporters inside the stadium…..I thought that this was going to be a pretty untidy little episode….not to mention embarrasing!! I managed to quell things down (don't know how but probably through many times of practicing this this so as to not disgrace myself infront of my ever forgiving training parter…..thanks again Andy!!). Somehow, I stifled the retch reflex and drank and kept down a hot hospital grade sustagen, a handful of ibuprofen and paracetamol! My ever amazing rusty ironman husband (www.therustyironman.blogspot.com) got me too my feet, put the pack on my back, snapped the headlamp onto my beannie covered head and pushed me out the exit door. I was then confronted by a wall of icy air which shocked me back to reality and bought with it another wave of nausea. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other but the words of my good friend Andy and my ever tolerant husband rang in my head…"just keep moving forward…..and don't stop". So that's what I did. I pulled out the ipod which I have very rarely used for running…plugged it into my ears under the beannie and buff…cranked it up and stormed off like a woman possessed…..for the next 4hours and 23minutes to CP5…..ipod, iphone and some very frank text messages to my besties and family. What a better way to glean motivation from your loved ones to make you move forward!! There was something in that long lonely leg of 4hrs and 23mins that strengthened me; the steeled my reserve to move on and in the words of my ever eleoquent brother "don't let this bitch beat you!" that resonated in my soul.
|Feeling great at CP5!!|
I simply disconnected my mind from my body, put the misgivings and negative thoughts aside and simply put one foot infront of the other…again and again and again. It's not until you think you can't, that you really discover that you can. You really discover what lies deep inside you as a person and come to the realisation that the limits you have are not limits at all…somewhere in your deepest being you know that you are taking the road least travelled. It isn't until you reach these points in your life that you discover who you are and what you are made of. You realise that life is not about how many times a week you mow your lawn, how pretty your garden appears to the passers by or how many things you can sell….all the superflous miscellaneous nonsense that superficial people think makes them worthwhile. You discover that what makes you worthwhile is what lies inside, it's what you feel, what you think, how you act. To be a person of significance requires deep self reflection on what you do and why you do it. It was somewhere in this 4hrs 23mins that I had that 'epiphinous' moment. To be a person of significance is to lead by example and not by verbosities.
Once I reached CP5, I was on fire! I was greeted once again by the rusty ironman who was visibly relieved at my exuberance and obvious good condition (I think he was expecting a repeat of last year). I felt great…was even making jokes with the paramedics…a stark conrast to last year. I drank down another sustagen, put the pack on and set off into the dark again. I forged on, ran some down hills, ran some uphills and took some photos! I most certainly felt the magnetic pull of the the finishline. I reached that finish line in 18hours and 48 minutes and ran into the arms of my ever amazing husband and two incredible little children who were still up at 1.50am to see their half crazy mummy!! After I look up, I see my wonderful friend Andy who had waited the better part of an eternity to see me cross that finish line!
|YEAH BABY!! 100KM DONE!!|
I have had many people ask me "WHY did you do that race?" and my answer is "To see if I can"