Hey Beth. I’m a little OVEREXCITED and am ready a tad early. See you soon.
You’re standing on your driveway with enough luggage for six months in Europe’s Winter awaiting Beth to drive you to your pinnacle of excitement – Blacktown Olympic Park.
Arriving at the oval you are greeted by a sea of familiar faces. You share your happiness with some tight hugs and happy snaps.
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son (1 John 5:11)
Following a moments silence, a tradition at the Sri Chinmoy events, you set off on your first hour target:
Number of laps per hour Time per lap (in minutes) Resting lap (in minutes)
28 2:00 4:00
You’re smiling, it’s a blissful day with magnificent weather – such a blessing. You’re listening to your ‘Untitled Playlist 4’ – varying between hymns courtesy of Jess and your current obsession of a song – ‘young and beautiful’. The song reminds you of that warm winter evening double date of dumplings, ping pong and Gasby and failed match-making endeavour. You somehow want to dance swaying ballet meets gymnastics. It’s a very worldly song it its words; rather superficial – “will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” Quite contrary to the agape love talked about in the Bible; charity or the highest level of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
After your premeditated 28 laps you cruise to your stretch spot to hug, chat and debrief. You are ahead of target – feeling great but weary that you need to be conservative despite that urge one gets in racing.
“It’s really tough in long races. You’ve been training alone and suddenly all your loved ones are there supporting you and cheering you on. You can’t help but want to go fast. But you’ve got to be tactful and hold back. Even reward yourself with your partner arriving at the end of the race.” It’s Pat Farmer’s words resonating as you stretch.
In response to your hand signal gesture of four fingers (one finger = endura, 2 = gel, 3 = too hard to raise, 4 = sustagen, 5 = water), Beth prepares you some tasty sustagen that you demolish, leaving residue on the sides of your mouth. No kissing your special someone with these lips!
The 2nd Hour
1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
You have changed your playlist to a more contemporary song. You don’t like Hillsong as a Church, but can meditate on the words of your favourite contemporary Christian song – ‘the Stand.’
Your second hour is the same speed as your first hour at a conservative 11km/h; you are focused and conserving energy hand signalling your snack and liquid requirements.
You hug good-bye Beth and thank Miguel in utmost gratitude as he arrives as crew member number two.
The 3rd hour 1 John 5:13
“Has hecho una vuelta en dos minutos diez segundos. Necisitas correr mas rapido.”
“That spreadsheet hasn’t been updated correctly” your brain somehow can’t fathom speaking Spanish at this stage. You’re in liquid carbs and sign language mode as you endeavour to cover as much km’s possible in the first 12 hours, knowing that’s how you work best.
“He cambiado el plano esta manyana” you add in Spanish as you pass by the next lap. It’s funny how the first language you speak to someone somehow becomes impossible to eradicate. You met Miguel at the Spanish Society – when he sees you he sees Spanish language; it’s almost unnatural to converse in English.
It’s not until your stretch lap that you properly explain that you actually are required to run laps of between 2min10 and 2min20 (obviously the faster your lap time is, the longer your stretch or ‘rest lap’ is). You’ve now hugged Emily and are ready for the next bit with some nutella and ricotta calzone!
The 4th hour
Psalms 119: 9
10km/h is quite a nice pace. You’ve settled into a rhythm and are really looking forward to the five hour mark where you get to slow down to 8km/h! It’s a bit warm now and you’ve requested Thiroul arrive with some Frosty fruit and sunglasses (you’ve avoided the blind bank robber look with contacts today – exhibit A blind bank robber below)
Thiroul arrives; you can’t remember if you hug, kiss or simply smile and wave frantically upon his arrival. He pulls out his bag of goodies:
Sunglasses? He asks raising up the green sunglasses you got at the careers fair.
You shake your head horizontally.
Too warm for that.
You’re like a seven year old shaking her head in utter glee at the thought of that refreshing cold Popsicle. It’s something you have only dreamed of eating in a race but always seemed to forget to pack that into your esky.
The 5th hour
“Maybe don’t quite slow down to 8km/h. That’s a big jump. Why not 9km/h? But then again women are good at being consistent in their pace.” It’s Robert’s advice on your strategy.
You’ve reached marathon at 3h50min and are able to now slow down to 8km/h and still make the 60km in 6 hours. You even go on to 60.8km – a personal pb! You’re feeling great.
The 6th hour
You are finally eating more solid foods – a bit of sticky rice now. You’re feeling very positive and looking forward to seeing your Bec, Bron and Victor in the coming hours (the sandwich as Thiroul would say). You’re still not quite liking the sticky rice so continue on with calzone, sustagen and endura as your main forms of energy. Somehow gels are vomit inducing.
The 7th hour
Bec has now arrived and you barge her over with the hug you give her. You notice her talking with Robert as you run by and signal 5. She provides you water on the next lap as Thiroul goes to pick up Victor from the station. You take your happy snaps at the end of the hour whilst stretching and grabbing your next slice of nutella and ricotta calzone.
The 8th hour
1 Peter 5:8
You reach 50 miles at 8h10.
“Robert my stomach isn’t feeling too well.”
“Here have some ginger and stop drinking sports drink. We need to de acidify your stomach”.
You proceed on nibbling on some sugared ginger.
“This is kotzuebel! I can’t eat it.” You place the ginger down on the table as you run past.
The stomach improves and you soar on.
“Bye Bec! Thank-you!”
You thank Bec for coming as you briefly exit your ‘zone.’
The 9th hour
“Good to see you Bron! Where’s your pumpkin suit?” You run over to hug your new crew member and costume buddy.
“Unfortunately I came straight from work. I’m sorryL. Good to see you too! You’re looking strong.” You know that the combination of being a doctor and being in a pumpkin suit around kids could turn into something, well, undetermined?
You hear of Gary passing the 100km mark in around 9 hours. It’s something on your plate to tick off, but not in this race. Your focus is on consistent, slow and planned. You are starving for this >190km.
The 10th hour
“Sally! Bren! Give me a hug!” It’s your closest school friend and her husband. She has this aura about her that just wants to make you smile. That’s your first memory of your friendship – her fun nature. That friendship has evolved from one of silly teenage games and jokes to the formation of a sisterhood; sisters in Christ sharing, loving and caring.
They are warmly attired passing you the last of your nutella and ricotta calzone. You’re not eating the doughy bits – just the moist bits of nutella and ricotta – it’s easier to swallow.
You pass the 100km mark at 10h45 – you are on track with a BIG buffer for anything that should and does come your way.
Sally, giving the way her and her family perceive you as slightly quirky, decides to journal your behaviours:
Currently at blacktown oval as part of Larissas crew for her 24 hour race
She has just entered her delirious phase, her latest comment being “there’s no ginger left”
Sally Smid 7:46pm *sings* “you’re in motionnnnnn” la la la
Saturday at 19:46 via mobile • Like
Sally Smid 7:50pm “you can eat the sushi, I have an aversion to rice right now”
Saturday at 19:51 via mobile • Like
Sally Smid 8:09pm said “ok” in response to us saying “go Larissa!”
Saturday at 20:09 via mobile • Like
Sally Smid 8:16pm: *eats rice pudding thing* “mmm num nom nom, oops I broke the spoon!”
Saturday at 20:19 via mobile • Like
Sally Smid 8:21pm “I need to fart!”
Saturday at 20:22 via mobile • Like
Sally Smid 8:51pm Larissa has made 100km!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wooohooooo!!!
Saturday at 20:51 via mobile • Like
Sally Smid 9:00pm *larissa puts up 4 fingers when she wants water* lucky we had both ready
Saturday at 21:00 via mobile • Like
Sally Smid 9:06pm *sings* “I’ll stand!!”
Saturday at 21:06 via mobile • Like
Sally Smid 9:18pm *puts her drink bottle down on the table to get pants to put on. Puts on pants. Picks up wrong drink bottle.* “pah! That’s not water!” *throws drink bottle on ground*
Saturday at 21:29 via mobile • Like
Sally Smid 10:11pm “I’m just gonna go over here and do a fart… Oh no that’s not coming out”
The 11th Hour
“I need to change my socks”.
Robert helps to take your shoe off, discovering a fresh blood blister wedged between your toes.
“You’ll just have to keep running”. He says, handing you some voltaren.
You are still steady at 8km/h. You’ve sent Thiroul to help out with the ‘sandwich’; him Victor and Bron have gone to dinner. You can’t fathom rice. Your stomach is feeling not quite happy. The watermelon is helping as you alkalise your body. You are having a slice each lap with a sip of water.
“They have ice-cream!” You know that despite it being your favourite food it won’t be too great for the stomach right now.
The 12th hour until 3am
You’ve kissed Thiroul good-bye, Sally and Bren are supporting on and James arrives whom you hug in warm welcoming.
Your stomach still isn’t that great and you get a little tired, popping your first 150mg of caffeine at midnight.
At 2:30am you need to call your dad. You are grateful for the time difference in Italy right now.
“Dad. I’ve covered about 150km but am really negative and low. My stomach isn’t good either.”
“Larissa you’ve covered so much. One step in front of another and you have this. We are very proud of you and love you very much. We are about to a lovely dinner in Tuscany. It’s lovely warm weather, very green…” Your dad distracts your mind from the cold and pain you are feeling. It’s something he is very good at.
“Dad I love you too. I know I have this. I just need to get through this.”
You plough on thinking of your strong grandfather, surviving the prisoner of war camp – this is nothing compared to that.
“Oh Meredith it is so good to see you!” You hug Meredith and do another lap, poising yourself in the comfy chair upon returning.
“I am not eating. I am tired.” You are making excuses.
“Here have some warm apple pie and in 5 laps I’ll give you some no doze.”
In five laps you sit down again and she feeds you some gel which you dry reach and the caffeine.
You continue on, noticing that the chairs have now been folded as you pass by the next time.
“You are going really well Larissa but you are fading. You need to replace your electrolytes. Here take these 3 tablets.” It’s a kind volunteer.
“But I haven’t taken these tablets. Nor have I eaten.” You are scared of health ramifications.
“That’s fine. These will help.”
You take them and continue on.
At 4:17am you message Thiroul
“Thiroul I only have 37km to go but am so negative. My stomach is really bad. I’m not eating. I feel like crying. I miss you x”
Immediately, in utter UNSWOC care mode, you get a response “I am on my way. You’ve got this. Chin up.”
You let out your tears in what you like to call your ‘two tear laps’. It starts off feeling sorry for yourself, turns to utter gratitude for everyone who has come, for Thiroul who is coming especially early and to prayer.
As you are crying you are slightly aware of people watching you and somehow their pitied looks turn into a positive surge for you as you think “this just has to be done”.
“Your special someone has now arrived” Meredith remarks
You excitedly kiss him twice.
“Yes I know” you manage to smile beneath your pain. “And he is wearing the shirt I got him in Spain!”
5am til finish
You only sip on bits of Gatorade and eat a bite of some slice from now til finish.
“You’ve eaten well until now. Don’t worry about how much you eat for these last few hours. Just keep your lap times under 4min!” It’s Robert encouraging you.
You can no longer run by 7am – the air is too cold and your stomach hurts with the jolting of running. You continue on at a fast power walk, making solid progress of 6.5km/h.
You are made aware that there are only 3 laps between your win and second place female.
“Larissa you have to win this. Be motivated by the pain and upheaval that went with this year’s selection for world championships. That pain is worse than what you are feeling now.”
You keep Sarah exactly parallel to you on the track. She is running whilst you interval between walk and run.
Vivian arrives and you hug her as you momentarily pause from frowning (exhibit b below).
Sarah is now 2 laps behind you. You stay focused.
You reach 190km and have no voice to cheer but are congratulated as you eagerly run up to the powerwalking machine Sharon Sholz.
“Now I just can’t let Sarah overtake me”
20 seconds to go. 10 seconds. You know you have won this. BEEP.
The race is over. You have won. 192.935km. Hugs from people you have just met; Rick.
Hugs from Thiroul and Viv and collapsing onto the crash mat being hand fed grapes.
You did it. We did it. God did it.
A – 1 John 5:11-13
B – Psalms 119:9,11
C – Hebrews 10:25
D – John 15:7
E – 1 Peter 5:8
G – Hebrews 11:6
I – Acts 2:41
J – John 1:1
L – 1 Corinthians 11:26
M – Mark 16:15
N – John 3:3
O – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Thanks to everyone who helped out – Beth, Miguel, Emily, Thiroul (x2), Bec, Victor, Bron, James, Meredith, Sally, Brendan, Viv and Robert. I am so appreciative for you all and can’t wait to spoil you the way you deserve to be over some fine food at my place!