(The benefits of coldral and jetlag)
So you’re standing there feeling that fresh breeze on your skin, fixating your body in between other competitors to avoid your coldral-drugged throat from having any relapses. Fresh off the plane from Spain 36 hours ago you are looking at the positives of this jet lag – it’s 10am in Spain now – Narrabean All Day-er more like it! You’re doing the usual sipping of Endura and gel 20min before the race but somehow just can’t seem to finish the gel – you’re simply not hungry enough.
“We’ll now be starting at 8:15pm”. It’s the race director.
“It’ll be one of those moments at 8am where we’re wishing we’d started at 8pm but we still have 15minutes to go…” It’s Natalie, the record holder for the 12 hour and the first competitor you remember from your first ultra-marathon three years ago today.
8:15pm start now becomes an 8:20pm start. “Well we get to experience more of those wonderful early morning daylight hours!” It’s your positive mindset expressing itself.
“Where is your music?!” You’re talking to Emma and Natalie in these 20 minutes before the race.
“I don’t really like running with music…but I remember you last time…singing…shouting…you were the comedy of the night!”
Running without music is a concept you just can’t grasp. You’re looking forward to indulging in the latino and happy hardcore podcasts and for the harder moments when you just need to block everything out and focus, you’re excited putting a song on repeat.
It all seemed to happen so quickly from the static bunch of keen runners to the stampede rush – the team relay participants going off at about a 14km/h pace, the other competitors ranging in speed. Your race plan looks something like this:
Each lap is 3.33km and you plan to go out relatively hard (18 minutes per lap for the first 2 hours) and finish at a cruisy pace. It leaves you the option to finish hard if you feel like it too.
DJ Pablo InDaMix – Tropical Sounds Mixshow is pulsating through your headphones. It’s bringing you on a journey back to Spain. You’re thinking of that amazing night in Barcelona dancing Bachata and Salsa with Colombian Ivan – somehow it was one of very few despite your pre-conceptions that ALL Spaniards danced salsa.
“Only when I’m absolutely and utterly borracho” – Bruno’s response when asked if he danced salsa.
You’re cruising along loving this – you’ve been confined in a plane, sick the past week so the liberation of running is amazing! You are beyond target, reaching 12km in one hour but feeling darn fine! Somehow the supplies of food you thought you would devour seem so kotzübel – it’s too hot for Turrón, muesli bars, chocolate or anything dry like pikelets…even sushi!
You reach half marathon at 1h49 minutes – that’s only 19 minutes off your PB half marathon time! You aren’t puffing; you are just wet with sweat, looking forward to the aftermath of your wet crop top on your body…the token rash of ultra-running…
You are now onto DJ Kensta – your thoughts wander to your exchange in Freiburg.
She took the midnight train going anywhere…
You’re thinking of your train trip to London, the BBQs around the lake you lived, your regular weekend trips to different countries – loving the scholarships and exchange rate! Not to mention the 0.80 Euro gelati scoops… What an existence.
You hit the usual wall at the 36km mark wanting to slow down but think of your goal – 108km. Changing Ipods, you put Agachate on repeat – it reminds you of New Year’s Eve Salamanca. Starting dinner at 10:45pm, eating 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of 2012, continuing dinner until the early hours of the morning and leaving the house at 6am to go to the discotheque. “Agachate” dancing in the apartment happened sometime between dinner the discotheque venture. It brings back fond memories of the hilarious duo of Rosalia and Sara dancing like crazy to this questionable-lyrics-song.
“You are going very well!” It’s Ron.
It’s marathon distance now and your clock reads 3h49min – that’s only 23min off your PB! You push on to your next goal – 50k, reaching it in 4h45min.
Your shirt is now drenched in sweat. It’s partially to do with this concept you have in your head – if I wear long skins I won’t get injured…
Shirt changed you plough onto 60km, reaching it in under 6 hours – this is better than your result for your last 6 hour race – you are soaring…like a penguin!
“Robert, I’ve made 60km in less than 6 hours. Now I can slow down to my 24 hour race pace”. You’re expressing your joy to the president of Australian Ultra Running, who is also a competitor for tonight.
“Oh no you won’t. Push out that pace.” Somehow there is some wisdom in his words – the more I dig deep now, the more I can look forward to a treat of some slower laps towards the end.
You are living off watermelon and banana and sipping on Endura with ice cubes in it – a refreshing combination.
“Do you know what you are coming?” It’s your crew as you pass by.
“Yeah. I’m first and feeling great.”
“I thought so. You are amazing. You should go for the record.”
“I’ve got the 108km goal. I am definitely going to achieve that!”
You just can’t stop smiling knowing that you have made this. The minimum pace to get there is 8km an hour – you can power walk half of this now!
The runners seem to radiate from your smiles (when they can see you – it’s usually the rave glowsticks that indicate a runner is about to pass on this rather dark course).
You are approaching this Hawaain hut in this distance. As you near it you realise it is only a bunch of trees – your first hallucination. Time for No Doze! You pop 1.5 tablets and feel pumped and awake again!
82km and you’re replying to messages and facebook as you powerwalk half a lap, making sure your eyes can readily adjust between the brightness of your phone and the darkness of the course. You’re already looking forward to seeing your supportive crew in the morning – somehow wondering whether you will be conscious when he arrives!
The light is beginning to glimmer across the lake and you are now at an 8.3km/h pace embracing the wildlife – ducks and ducklings crossing the path in front of you, possums climbing up trees and kookaburras sitting on telegraph pools cheering you on.
“Next lap will be you 100km Larissa”. It’s the race director.
“Nooo. This lap was my 100km.”
Your watch is reading 102km
This puts you in the biggest negative mindset yet – to make the 108km according to those results I would have to run just over a 5min per km pace!
Your sad face is noticed by Emma – who puts her hand on your shoulder: “Are you okay?”
“They’ve miscounted my laps. My watch reads something different.”
“My watch is 3km out. It tends to happen.”
“My watch would be 5km out if their results are correct!”
“Don’t worry – they can look at your splits – it will be sorted.”
You just want to walk in this negative state and it’s not until you put on the song “Pretty Rave Girl” that you jostle out of that negative mindset – there is no point dwelling!
The song is reminding you of the beginnings of your short-lived raving day.
You lighten my life like laser beams.
The romance in raves limited to lyrics of songs – something that you can’t help chuckle about looking back.
“Ron could you please confirm the number of laps I have done?”
“Larissa yes sorry we miscalculated before. You are on 103.33km.”
“Such a relief! Thank you so much!” You drop your drink bottle in joy and sprint off singing and rejoicing!
It’s a thumbs up as you pass Emma, a big smile as you pass your signature fellow-smiling competitor and you are loving life! You have 4.7km to do in 43min – that’s as cruisy as it could get!
You decide to treat yourself to walk to last 0.67m with your newly arrived supporter. Its great catching up on the last 12 hours with him – the world beyond thoughts and steps on cement. You’re so happy. You’ve made this.
“Larissa, stop fuckin walking! Push out the last 7min!” It’s Keith, your adopted support crew on the night of your first ultra-marathon three years ago – a time you had no idea about race fluids nor nutrition
“But I’ve already reached my target.”
“C’mon push it out and see how far past it you can go!”
“Yeah Laz. You do that!” It’s your crew, encouraging Keith’s words.
You push on, squeeze in another lap and BEEP 12 hours. 109.5km.
You feel slightly faint but can’t stomach anything at the moment. A shower would be nice.
After the water painfully washing the rash from your crop top, you make your way out for the presentation and a failed attempt of eating one of your favourite foods – mango.
“Well at least you don’t need to eat at the moment if you can’t. It’s not like you are going to run anymore.” It’s your crew putting a positive on your body’s inability to eat.
“And the furthest distance tonight was achieved by Malcolm Gamble with 131km! Lauren Hamilton did her first race beyond a half marathon, clocking an amazing 94km.” You are amazed at the achievements, the comradeship and the personal growth each of these individual athletes undertook.
“And in 2nd place with I’d say a personal best of 108km.”
“109.5km…” you begin to correct him but simply walk up to collect your trophy with a happy snap, all in a uniform of Narrabean All Nighter Shirts.