As I said in my earlier post It was “probably my worst feeling race ever” at the Wanaka Skyline Challange this past Saturday and after having a few days to think about it and go over the race, I am sure that this was the worst state I have ever gotten myself in – yippy for me!
Our little trip south started pretty well. We finished work in Arthur’s Pass at 4.30 on Thursday afternoon after making coffees for all the 2 day C2C racers on their way to Kumara. We headed west and I was amazed at the scene in Kumara. Kayaks and road bikes as far as the eye could see………. We stopped in Hoki for some very average fish n’ chips (we opted for the quiet shop…) and made our way south. This drive never stops amazing me. It is such a joy to drive along the west coast and the drive has a lot of cool memories for me as my brother lived on the coast and I spent a winter working as a fisherman, of all things, in Jackson’s Bay, so spent a heap of time in the area. We got to Bruce Bay right on sunset and then to Haast around 11pm. Friday morning was pretty relaxed, we had breakfast with my family before heading to Wanaka to run over part of the Skyline course. We enjoyed a swim in lake Wanaka, had west cost white bait for lunch and rested up.I awoke early Saturday morning to the sound of rain on our tent, heavy rain and strong wind. Stoked, I love running in the weather, it sorts the men from the boys. I almost lost the tent as I was packing it away and then Jane and I headed to the race start. only to find they decided at 7am to postpone the race start from 9am to 11am because of the weather. It was of course starting to clear at this time and at 9am it was great running weather- a little cloudy and still cool. We drank more coffee and lost layers as the temp started to climb. By 11am it was a stinking hot day, or at least we knew it would be. Not the kind of weather that sorts the men from the boys, but rather sorts who grew up in freezing cold Southland and who didn’t.
The pace seemed fast right from the start for the same reason, even though I knew it wasn’t. We got the flat 7km along the lake front out of the way and the real running started. I passed about 6 people within 5mins or so and was in the lead and things felt good. Others wanted to push so I let them at it, sitting back into 2nd/3rd, running and talking with James, who I raced against in the ’08 Flagpole. Next thing I knew James dropped me, it happened without me even realising and then I was being passed like my 90yr old grandma when she drives. People walked passed me, that’s how slow I was moving! By the water station 3/4 the way up Mt Roy I had drank 1.5L and refilled my water bladder. My stomach was messed up and my legs had nothing in them. I reached Mt Roy over 12mins slower than what I ran it in a month ago in training, and in 6th place. I felt better as soon as the downhill started but we then climbed again to Mt Apha, again I was passed. I figured I would run for 6th place, but then we passed a guy that was cramping up and were catching 4th place. I left the last aid station in a group of 3 and had 2 choices – run for 4th place or put my big boy running shorts on and actually do some racing. I had no idea how far away 3rd place was, I could see someone way off (and was so frustrated with myself for having such a bad race thus far) I figured it would be fun to beat myself up and see what happened.
I got the fellow I had seen pretty quickly, only to realise he was an earlier starter. At this point despite being pretty hot and feeling bad I could see the funny side of running down a guy that started an hour earlier than me. Still in 4th I pushed on as the farm track steepened and got hot. I then eyed 3rd place, no wait, 2nd and 3rd! They were going slow, like me on the climb and I past them and they were gone in no time. I held out hope than 1st would be just around one of the switch backs, but James was long gone. By the time I got to the streets in Wanaka I had trashed my quads and was now in very bad shape. Despite the final K’s being gental downhill, I could stride out and rather than looking ahead I was looking back, sure someone was going to run me down. I had drank another 1.5L and some at aid stations, yet I was still pretty dehydrated. I crossed the line and lay down in a heap. Terry the RD was nice enough to bring me some water that I dumped over my head. I finally got up and made my way to the bathroom to power chuck 3 times and have a cold shower. I then waited for Jane who was the first woman to cross the line! Her 3hr44min time was pretty good! Jane was also feeling the heat and threw up and then lay in a fetal like postion until prize giving.
My goal pre race was to finish top 3 and run in the mid to low 2hr50’s. I did 2hr58mins and was 2nd. Given the heat I am pretty happy really, but know I could go 2.40s on this course. Next year I guess………..
It seemed like everyone was hurting one way or another from the heat and some dealt with it better than others.