Four years ago I sat at the GH100 finish with head in hands crying. It had taken me 3 hard years to get there. I had gone through many of the ups and downs that people reading this blog would be all too familiar with. 1 failed start, 1 failed finish, 4 cortisone injections, thousands of dollars in physios fees and 28.5 hours of gut busting running later I had finally done it. I cried for 10 minutes.
This year I entered with less determination (or is that desperation?) but much more experience and I would like to think toughness too. This year was about getting my 100 mile mojo back – confidence in myself at this distance and confidence in being a part of the Hardrock 100 ballot next year!!
Rather than give a blow by blow description here are some high&lowlites…
• At the conclusion of the traditional pre-race ‘tour’ some of us went to cp10 to view Tibrogargan creek which usually passes under the road but now was over it! After this I didn’t want to see what it was like under the highway (Javes pool) but heard it was a long crossing of at least knee deep. Describing this to Team Mellum Spud said ‘well that’s gonna be hard to run a quick time then’. Figuring he didn’t understand the gravity of the situation I scowled and said: Phil this isn’t a race this year …. This is survival!
• The night before the race sitting in mellum HQ listening to vegie ask whippet and tim how much vegemite they want on their drop bag sandwiches and if they want margarine and if they want the crusts cut off and how many they want in each little baggie. For some reason I was expecting their answer to finish with … yes mum :)
• The nighttime. I just love running at night. All the hustle and bustle of the daytime has passed. People racing in and out of checkpoints and shouting at crewies is all gone. Its just you and the trail. So peaceful.
• The first ‘creek’ crossing under the highway seemed to go ok but unfortunately I had an audience at the second (Javes’ pool) as Schultzy and Julian were there waiting for Susannah. Trying to be tricky I decided to try the right hand side and see if I could jump across the first section but when that wasn’t going to work stepped into the ‘pool’ (which was actually flowing reasonably fast) and went straight down! The only reason nothing above my nipples got wet was because I swam a couple of strokes to the other side, grabbed the bottom of a tree and slid my bum up the bank while my legs were being washed down stream. Arrived at cp9 10mins later, went straight to the car and proceeded to strip down in front of anyone who cared to take a glance. Was absolutely buck naked in about 2 seconds. At the time it did remind me of the George Costanza ‘shrinkage’ episode of Seinfeld and I hope that the checkpoint people are aware of this well known medical fact!
• Crossing Tibro Creek on my way ‘home’ (via cp9) I was rather chilly exiting the water and was trying to zip my jacket up (which wasn’t obliging). When I looked up an epiphany appeared in the form of a goldylocked girl (Vegie). It said “ Dave you must help us as we are lost”. (Yes those exact words!) It took me some minutes to figure out who ‘we’ were (as she was actually alone – Tim was maybe a km down the road) and where ‘they’ were heading but it appeared Tim and Veg (pacing) had brain-freeze on exiting the cold water and missed the left turn back to cp9. I dutifully showed Veg the turn and suggested she “Better go get him then” and buggered off!
• Getting an encouraging text message from Jen_Runs at 4am!!
• Went through a really bad patch just before dawn Sunday – won’t give too much detail but it involved looking a tad pale and some vomiting… been there before!
• Tim arrived at cp9 to find me looking rather disheveled slumped against a tree only to have me exclaim: “It has to be one of life’s most fulfilling experiences to sit in a pool of your own vomit at 5am!”
• Andrew my crewie saying confidently “Oh youre going to finish” to which I replied mate I will crawl the last 14kms on my lips if I have too. No sh*t I will finish!
• When I was more lucid (the following day) Ruth reminding me of my ‘inappropriate voiding’ episode at cp9. I had decided that I needed to wee but wasn’t confident of making it very far so decided to walk behind the checkpoint peoples van (vain attempt at privacy) and do it there basically in the middle of the carpark. Not one of my proudest moments.
• A lot of weird things seem to happen to me at cp9!!
• Tim and Susannah caught me at cp9 and went up and came back down Wild Horse Mountain (a 20min trip) while I still sat there feeling sick. I was chatting to Susannah’s other half (and crew) about how much time people can make up at the end of a 100 mile race: the point being I could have headed for home whilst Susannah was still going up Wild Horse Mountain but she would have caught me easily because her pace was much quicker.
• After they both left I sat down for a while, then lay down then sat up again for a while and eventually left maybe 30mins later.
• About 400m from home I saw Schultzy who I figured had come out to meet someone. Then as I rounded the corner saw Susannah next to him and her pacer next to her. OMG she hasn’t finished yet!! Seemed ironic after what I had said to her other half a few hours earlier. After criss-crossing one another all day I was very pleased to cross the line with Susannah – probably the first ‘true tie’ in Glasshouse history!
• Can’t wait to see the splits – I think I did Hamburger Hill in 30-31mins. Last years quickest split was 30 so I have to be happy with that! It was so much fun going through all the puddles knowing that the wet feet would only last another half-hour. I am such a little kid!
• What photos Tim will put on his blog! http://timothyturner.blogspot.com/
For the record I finished in 27.23 =14th/24. A pb by over an hour. The first 147km (23hrs) of the race was perfect for me – great pace, eating/drinking well, minimal foot problems. I thought of Tim’s comment from last year: “It was just one of those perfect days where everything went right”. Things went rapidly awry only 14km from home and although initially frustrated by this I’m the last person to worry about finish times and places. Now my only worry about this race was the fact I enjoyed it much more than in 2003 and I may have to do another one!!
Reflecting back on 2003 I wonder how I ever finished that race – being so sick for so long (basically over half the race). People often talk about the mental strength in ultra events but I think determination is a more accurate description of what is needed. I have seen people come to glasshouse and finish only to return the following year and DNF. Were they weaker physically or mentally? No – they were just less determined.
So did I cry at glasshouse this year? Not at the finish-line, no ;)