Running on Empty

Posted: September 2, 2010 in Running, Training

This is really turning out to be an unlucky year for me race wise.

The Trans Rockies Run turned out to be a very different experience to that which I had imagined.  The trip started out well with a smooth flight and travel up into the mountains.  I was feelling well rested and ready to push it hard over the coming week. That is certainly what I did, but not in the manor I had planned.  The day before the race I came down with a serious stomach bug and was pretty much unable to get out of bed.  Just walking the 500m to the race registration was more that I could handle.

The next morning I was feeling a bit better and positive I would be able to race.  This was not the case.  It became quickly apparent that I had very little to give and after about 6 miles I felt like I was at the end of an Ironman which had gone badly wrong.  I put my head down and struggled on through most of the run, but at mile 17 I pulled out of the stage.  I was well and truly broken and thought that if I wanted to stand a chance of completing the race I needed to call it a day.  The rest of the afternoon was a blurr and I think I passed out in my tent pretty soon after reaching camp.  I had not been able to eat a thing!  Never a good plan for a multi-day race.

Morning two of the race and I was feeling considerably better.  I tried to eat some breakfast but found this almost impossible.  Still, in my warped sense of reality, I was feeling positive I would be able to race.  Day two was only 14 miles and despite the 900m of climbing I was hopeful I would not be holding my team mate back too much.  I actually managed OK on the climb, and while I was only at around 40%, we made good progress relative to the other teams.  The descent was hard work for me as my legs were just dead weights.  The last 3 miles were relatively flat but it took pretty much everything I had to give to keep on running.  We crossed the finish line probably 15 minutes slower than my team mate would have hoped, but I was amazed to be crossing it at all.  Again I felt like I was at the end of a Ironman gone very horribly wrong!  Back at camp I tried to eat, but the little I was able to take on was just going straight through my system.  Still in my mind, I convinced myself I would be OK to race the 24 miles ahead of us in the morning.

Day three ended up being the toughest day of the week.  My body was truly broken and as we jogged down the first hill I knew it was going to be a very long day.  Nonetheless, I managed to make it through the first 10 miles in reasonably good time.  Then the wheels well and truly came off.  My stomach was so bloated I could barely jog and I could not really take on any food or drink.  The next 14 miles was a case of survival and simply making it to the finish line.  After quitting on day one I really did not want to repeat that again.  In the last mile I think I must have needed at least 4 loo stops.  Not a pretty sight and by the time I crossed the finish line I thought that my week was well and truly over.  I could just not imagine myself making it to the start line for stage 4 of the race.  Later on in the day I was able to eat my first proper meal for 4 days and the temporary cap on my front tooth fell off in the process.  Eating a dorito of all things!!!  Anyway, during the evening I was given the chance to swap team mates and race with a girl called Leslie.  The idea being that I could take it easy with her at the ‘back of the pack’, while Leslie’s team mate (a stronger runner) could race with Scott and save him from another day waiting for me.

Chilling at the back of the race ended up being a life saver.  For the first time since I started the race I could actually appreciate where I was and the people racing around me.  Both of which were awesome.  I think I talked non stop all day and was just loving every second out there in the mountains.  I was feeling more like myself with every step and to be honest did not really want the day to stop when we reached the finish.  When it did, things just kept on getting better with a pub by the finish serving cold drink and food, which I was able to eat.  Happy days!!!!!  Having eaten a proper meal in the evening I was really much more like my normal self and probably could have raced stage 5 with Scott at a decent pace.  However, I did not want to make the same mistake I had done over the first few days so opted to take it easy at the back, as I had done on stage 4.

Stage 5 was another awesome day out in the mountains and made even better by the people I was chatting to along the way.  Just as the previous day, I did not want the stage to end and I could feel a bounce come back into my step by the end of the day.  I was back 🙂

Stage 6 and the final day of racing.  I knew I was back to full health now and was confident I could race all out.  The plan had been always to race the last day with Scott and I was just glad to be doing so, feeling 100% better.  As we all lined up at the start of stage 6 it really did feel like the first day of racing to me.  We went hard from the gun and it felt great to be bouncing, not crawling, up the mountain again.  The day flew by, as did the 20 miles and 2000m we climbed.  We came home in 3hrs 39mins and I think were the first non professional team home.  It was a great way to finish the race and at least showed ourselves what we could have done had I not been ill.  Maybe next year 😉

Massive thanks for all the help and support from everybody during the week.  It was an amazing event to be part of but was made legendary by the people doing it.

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