Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The North Face 2010 Reflections!

It is now less than 13 weeks to the 2011 North Face 100km race…here is my reflection on the 2010 event.
At the start with my training partner Andy.  All smiles here!!

Well....I have arrived back into the land of the living....just! The North Face 100km was singely the greatest challenge that I have ever undertaken. Amazing, breathtaking scenery, heartbreakingly challenging terrain like I have never seen or travelled over before. This event leaves an indelible mark on your heart and soul.  Every person who reaches the start line and commences this event will have a story of blind elation, devastating lows and periods of vague incomprehension.  Here is a small snipet of my experience.  Reaching the start line of this event  saw me wade through a myriad problems from over training, under training, training for non related events, troubleshooting injuries and general stubborness!  It was mentioned to me that simply getting to the start line was the hardest part of this event…………well………maybe not!! 

Didn't get much of this to stay down!

The day started at 4am for me with attempts at getting food and fluids in and keeping them down.  Anticipation was now my major enemy resulting in nausea; nausea; nausea.  Crisp and cold (for a thin blooded QLD'er anyway) air greeted me at the fairmont resort, along with 650 odd other competitors.  Race brief completed we now stand waiting for the starter's gun.  It was an amazing sight………650 people, nearly silent, arms interlink, kinds words of encouragement and support being offered.  Stark contrast to nearyl every other race I've entered.  We start and make our way along the streets and into the bush…now along single file tracks.  The pace was steady, I start to wam up and take some layers off.  we now start to descend into the valley and I begin to feel cold again with some monor cramping in my fingers and toes.  Not paying attention to the early signs will come to haunt me later on.  By the time I reach the first checkpoint I now have cramping in my quads.  I've never had cramps during any training or competition, however this is my first cold event.  I battle through and continue and find my toes are getting extremely painful from butting into the front of my shoe.  By the time I reach CP2, damage has been done.  I take shoes and socks off, therafix all my toes, heels, arches and then double sock.  Off I go toward CP3.  Some really tough terrain is encountered. 

The race traverses around the bottom of the 3 Sisters and then up
and out on the other side of the valley!
Amazing scenery!

I'm not getting the fluids or fuel in, my gut rebels and I am now struggling with nausea again.  By the time I reach CP3, I'm vagued, glazed over and not making very good decisions.  Thank God my husband was there and new what action to take……lemonade, lollies, salty chips.  BANG!  I'm back on the money!!  Change socks, restock the pack and get back on the trail.  some nice undulating hills and lanes lulls me into a false sense of security.  Then I am confronted with 'The Stairs".  There is no description, no adjective!  I push on up, and up, and up.  Gut rebels yet again.  At the top of these stairs, on the road to the 67km mark after 12hrs in near subzero temps, in a hypoglycaemic, hypothermic haze of vomitting, abdominal cramps, unconrtrollable shivering and vagueness, I end up in some poor unsuspecting person's garden.   The medics are nearby (not sure how they got to me!!) but I get up and am escorted to the glowing, warm tent of heaven!!  My husband and children are waiting as well.  What a welcome sight! Swift action of hot milo, sticky buns, warm balnkets and mushroom heaters from team Woodward saw me return to the land of living...just….barely. Strict instructions from medics, covered in 2 layers of thermals, polar fleece, gortex jacket, beanies, buffs and gloves, I leave toward check point 5 at the 89km mark. First I had to descend into th valley of the Blue Mountains, then I start the ascent on a forest trail 500m steeper in altitude and 5km longer in distance than Breakneck. After several hours I am feeling good and then..I fall awkwardly into a ford of freezing cold water trying to jump over and not get my cramping feet wet....bang...there goes my calf and an injury to my hip. So much pain I can not think straight..no phone reception..do I go back or do I go on. Glad for long life batteries in my head lamp!  Onward I go...at a limp, hobbling on one leg,  I find that I can go quicker up th hills backwards…there goes the decision making ability!! Increasingly, I get colder and colder and in more and more pain. I cover another 10km of Big Brother Breakneck and the vomitting, abdo cramps and vagueness returns.  I sit on the side of the trail for a break.  No one in front of me, no one behind.  I could very well be the only person out here. 

Coming up and out of CP1.

I feel I am in an alien world when at the 87km mark the SES approach and put me into the back of the car...shivering uncontrollably, retching and dribbling all at the same time!!! A total of 17.5hours after starting. Then out of the haze...my wonderful, ever supporting, amazing husband; who drags me from the car…doctors and paramedics at the ready.  The medic tent is full so I am placed beside a big drum of fire and a mushroom heater above and a space blanket around me.  I'm force fed fluids and food under the threat of hospital assessment if I can't keep it down.  Amazing what a gentle threat can do!!  All is well after several cups of hot sweet fluids, warm blankets and another visit from the paramedic and doctor as I get the clearance to go home and not to hospital. I make it home with assistance….sleep for 10 hours…get up and can't weightbear on my blown out calf.  A set of crutches later and I am mobile!!  Two days later, as I reflect on my adventure; (it has taken me that long to be able to eat and drink again) there is definately unfinished business for me here...2011 here I come!! Thanks to all for all your support. xxx