Hour 1: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
So you’re standing there with the inland late afternoon-sun warming your compression-pants covered legs, speaking to the race-director of your previous 12 hour race, distracting your mind from the mixture of nervousness and energy. The biggest fear is knowing that all you have on this Ipod is classical music. It’s pure. It goes hand-in-hand with those twelve Bible verses you have memorised – one for each hour to meditate on.
The gun goes off and you look down at your watch – 3min37. You are surrounded by a mixture of runners – somehow it’s your competitive racing side wanting to come out and match the paces of the faster ones around you. You pull back to your targeted start pace of 4min48seconds per km.
“Never run more than 1km more than your average pace. If you are aiming for 120km, then your average pace is 10km/h so you shouldn’t go above 11km/h.” It’s the race director, Martin’s words. A recent Australian record holder for 24 hour running, you can’t help but apply that from the experienced in this ultra-sport.
You settle comfortably at a sub 5min per kilometre pace with Vivaldi song on repeat. You’re overtaken by Bren, your friend who got you into this, multiple times as he aims for his 50km goal of just above 3 hours. You remain like a horse with tunnel vision, avoiding being influenced by the pace of others.
Karen recites the next verse for the hour.
Hour 2: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. “ (John 3:17)
At the end of the hour you’ve reached your target – 12km with time to spare for a quick stretch, gel and trip to the toilet – something that doesn’t often occur but your stomach seems to be mimicking the array of musical instruments vibrating in your ear.
Upon returning to the track from the toilet you hear something loud so turn down your music a tad from the full blast you love to run to:
“You shouldn’t be entering here!” You’re running so don’t recognise the face but stop to talk, still a bit dazed but only later to find out you were speaking to Martin.
“Oh sorry would you like me to go back?” You are turning around into the stampede of runners that all decide to cross the circuit 1km lap mark at the same time.
“No it’s okay but if you do it again, you are disqualified.” You make a note to yourself to ask your crew on your next break what the toilet protocol is. Somehow your mind was racing in the race de-brief and you didn’t pick up that bit of information.
You are still cruising to Vivaldi, looking forward to the arrival of your special someone and your family. You are feeling grateful for the distance travelled by each and every one of them to support you.
As your mind is thinking you look down at your pace – it’s fluctuating. Classical music has its downsides…
You put your next slightly more upbeat song on the playlist on repeat.
Jerel and your parents have arrived and are taking pictures – you can’t help but smile and pose for the photo with what Jerel, Gale and Ollie call “Takapuna”. It’s an “in-joke” amongst your crew from your previous 24 hour race in Auckland.
You’re on your “updated target” by hour 2 and get to hug everyone and eat your favourite hazelnut praline in the world from Leura.
Jerel recites your bible verse to you and it brings a smile to your eyes him saying it.
Hour 3: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
You continue on, stomach not feeling the best and looking forward to the drop in pace in 2 hours. You don’t remember much of this hour apart from eating half a banana – the only thing you could stomach.
At the end of hour 3 you are hugging Jerel “this hour is going to be the hardest but then I can drop back to a 10km per hour pace. I gotta do this.”
Hour 4: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
You are running but feeling the need to go to the toilet again. It just doesn’t seem to be your night. It’s frustrating sitting on the toilet, knowing you should be running, and finding the bathroom trip actually didn’t benefit you in anyway. The problem is still there. The post-bathroom pikelets are not what you are wanting but you nibble on them anyway, knowing the calories are necessary.
Hour 5: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
You are rejoicing at the premeditated drop in pace. Back onto Vivaldi, a different track. But again, you need to go to the bathroom. After your trip you are given some salted chickpeas from your crew and manage to ingest a bit and continue on, still feeling unsettled in the stomach. You begin on your sticky rice and reach the halfway point – 6 hours, 60km. Exactly where you were in the Narrabean Allnighter. Somehow 120km seems unattainable and this puts you in a negative mindset.
Hour 6: For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:16)
You are now powerwalking, popping a no doze caffeine tablet, rugging up in a jacket, listening to the classical music and spending unnecessary amounts of time with your ever-so-encouraging crew, stretching and getting massaged and hugged.
You are doing this race not only as a spiritual race but as a selection race – to be selected to go to the World Championships in May.
You request for an IPod change and change your song to an upbeat song – “gotta get through this” for a lap and them bam! Your favourite happy hardcore song is playing.
So baby put your trust in me!
Your pace has picked up. You are setting yourself targets – only a marathon until 100km! And at 100km I will wake up that special someone so I have something to look forward to. You demolish the rest of your pandan sticky rice.
Hour 7: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:17)
The song is bringing back such fond memories – you are in Victoria with Jerel travelling Apollo Bay, Phillip Island, running Moe’s 6 hour and just feeling “YES!”
Hour 8: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;” (1 Timothy 2:9)
Gel, Endura and banana are your main sources of energy now – making sure you get your 200 calories an hour. Your hand is now hurting from holding the bottle. You insist on only having your smash bottles passed to you.
“Wasser. Pink Smash please.” Your comments are now in a mixture of German and English for some reason, directed at energetic Karen.
Your sign language attempt this time was a bit of a fail – you can’t remember what hand signal you allocated to Gel – all you know is you were handed Chocolate from your crew once when you signalled what you thought was gel!
Hour 9: “But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”
You’re already looking forward to Jerel waking up. Not too long.
You’ve gone through the cold patches of the race and are getting warm, wanting to run in your crop top.
“How about you put this on?” Jerel is pointing toward your basketball jersey as you stretch next to them.
“You are prematurely up. Go back to schlaf. I want to have something to look forward to.”
Hour 10: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
You are now changed, music still pumping and it’s.just.amazing.
Your songs are pure and you are smiling. Your positive energy is radiating to the first lap counter, pre-the 1km lap marker.
Hour 11: “[Christ] He must increase, but I must decrease.”
You reach your 100km mark at 10h17 – it’s a pb. You keep going.
Hour 12: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
Everyone is here now. You are feeling great.
“Can you find out what the course record is?” You direct at your crew
“It’s 113km” they tell you as you pass by again.
Somehow you didn’t want to do research before you started this race into course records, Australian records – it would hamper your personal goals, limit them.
“I just beat the course record!” You say running past. Your feet now feel like there is a knife in them.
You stop at 114km and change shoes and socks, noticing the blood.
Somehow this change works wonders and you are now joyously doing your victory lap with Spongebob. It reminds you of and somehow symbolizes your first significant running achievement almost three years ago.
“Larissa, put that away.” You place Spongebob on the grass, realizing it impedes your running performance and carry on, now listening to the track you’ve been listening to on repeat for the past two hours “The Stand”.
The race is over.
“Do you want to do some cool down laps?” It’s Malcolm, the male winner.
“Yeah sure…” You trail off, both knowing it’s the last thing you want to do.
You go over to hug everyone – it’s all you can do to thank them all. Without your crew, you wouldn’t have got this pb, this Australian u25 12 hour record, this course record and this spiritual growth that comes with it all. A race well organized and a blessing with the weather, you walk off to shower, eat runny pancakes, collect your trophies with the accompanying happy snaps and thank the organizers.
A big thanks to my parents for driving me down there, picking me up, taking those happy snaps and for that surprise amazing almond croissant.
A massive thanks to Karen for coming to Stromlo just to support my race, for always thinking 3 steps ahead, for being so organized with everything and remaining so positive and energetic.
A massive thanks to Jerel for coming down to support me, keeping me smiling through the great times and the tougher times, for the high-fives that were something to look forward to each lap and for the hugs and massages throughout the race.
Thanks to all my colleagues, family and friends for wishing me well in this race
Thanks to Miguel for his Ceviche-food offer of motivation
To Kai, as always, for letting me borrow his Ipod
Thanks to Sean for the training over the past 2 months and for helping me with my race goals
Thanks to Meredith for firstly giving me her entry and for her encouragement and advice
And of course thanks to the volunteers, to Martin and all others involved in organizing the Stromlo running festival.