Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Rainbow - it dominated us

Some lessons are hard to learn, the Rainbow was all about some tough schooling

One week after Karapoti Ant and I had scheduled to take on the ultra marathon feet and ran 106 km along the Wairau Hanmer Springs Hydro Road. having just finished karapoti I rested up all week and was feeling okay heading down to Nelson. While on the plane i contemplated how tough this could be. A week after karapoti i knew the body had no way of being full recovered and adding to this the fact that i'd run all of about 40km since the heaphy (all my efforts were on the bike in prep for karapoti), it was going to be real tough. I came to the conclusion though that when the going got tough and the body started to feel the pain I'd just dominate the body with the mind and that would be the end of it - man was i wrong!

The weather forecast was for clear skies with no wind (hot) or clear skies with driving southerlies (freezing cold). With this in mind and considering we had 106 km in front of us we started early. Two bright eyed, naive runners began the trek to Hanmer at 5.00am on the 13/03/10. We had no idea what was to come

We definitely had clear skies, and there was no wind, in it's place was a bitterly cold frost. Ants was rolling skins but in my stupidity i had not even thought about it. The cold started to creep into my legs as soon as we started running, this coupled with an early stop to tape my feet for blisters which i could feel developing where early signs that this was going to be an interesting run.

We set a reasonably fast pace for the first two hours and we'd covered about twenty kilometers in the first two hours, a good pace for an ultra. It was nice running, a few mobs of cattle and some lambs kept us company along the way. It was undulating terrain but we were gradually climbing the entire way. At the first food stop I was feeling good, railing back some bars and gels and we were off again.

Over the next twelve kilometers I started to drop off the pace and Ants was pulling ahead. I was struggling. The cold was killing my legs and it was only getting worse. Ants was doing his best to take my mind off things and the scenery was awesome but it was starting to get tough.

At the 32 kilometer mark my legs were shivering but i was determined to go on. Making things worse was that any water that we drunk was freezing and chilled our core even further. The next 15km was probably the hardest i have traveled in my life. While the sun was up it still hadn't reached the valley we were running in. We could see it coming down the hill to our right but it wasn't directly on us. It wasn't till 40 km into to run, after four and a half hours of running that we got our first glimpses of direct sunlight. Those first few rays were awesome.

A few kilometers later and we were in constant sunlight, my legs were still rock solid but had begun to warm. A packet of lollies left by the support crew kept us going over the next few kilometers. The running had really slowed, the scenery was awesome and we had started to see cows and calves which was awesome. If you haven't been through this country you really should, it is pretty awesome. When we caught up to the support crew again it was two hours since we'd last seen them. It had taken two hours to cover 15km. Things were going really slow.

Ants still seemed to be doing all right but was battling internally, I'm more of an external battler and usually voice how I'm feeling. Once fueled up again we set off again. With the support crew still in sight Ant and I had our first and only argument of the run, he wanted to run and i was sucking on a lollie and wanted to walk. It's interesting how when your down and out even the smallest things can set two people off. The next few kilometers were run in silence but looking back it was barely running. My body was stuffed. Moving at barely a walking pace i was puffing hard just to be moving. Things weren't going right but i was still possessed with the desire to complete 106km.

While i was engaged in a battle between mind and body Ant had done the math and was trying to think of a way to tell the determined (Like the most determined any one could be determined) sole behind him that there was no way we were going to make it. in my mind we were still going to get there by seven but in reality we weren't going to get there at all. In the end all it took was for Ants to stop, look back at me and say, "bro you might as well be walking" and then go on to explain the maths for me to realise how wasted i really was. It's funny how when your that determined it takes someone else to pull you out of it.

We walked the final eight kilometers to catch up with he support crew and then pulled out at the 57km mark. The hot pools at Hanmer were a nice treat for our damaged bodies and by Sunday morning we were walking again.

Looking back the rainbow definitely brought us back to earth and exposed us as mere mortals. It taught us that you can't just go out and smash 100 km based on a heap of cycling fitness, that running muscles need to be built up for running and to be prepared for any conditions. The biggest lesson was that eventually after a period of the mind dominating the body, the body will eventually come back to dominate the mind. At this point the mind has two options either ignore the body and keep moving down the path of destruction, or wake up to reality and change tactics.

All in all it was a positive experience, and i now know i can really push myself onto the pain train. Now the trick is to stay motivated, find another challenges and get back to base training.


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