The North Face 100. Part 2
Here it is….the silver belt buckle.
This damn piece of metal kept me going for 13 hrs and 28mins. I knew that i had to do 7-8 km per hour to get under 14hrs and that meant that i could not stop. It was going to be a big call but as we started and i saw the first 10km go past in about an hour i knew that i had to make time on the front end of the course while i was fresh.If i was able to run faster then my planned pace at the start then i would have time to spare at the back half.
The course was brutal, massive hills, stairs carved into cliff, long gradual climbs, and quad shattering descents. Starting in Leura we dropped down into the Jamison valley, past the scenic railway and back up on top of the escarpment of narrow neck. The course took as back down to the valley floor and into the Wild dog mountains. We climbed Ironpot Mountain which had beautiful views from the top, however there was no time or conviction to look at them…the quads were getting smoked up the hill. Up on top were two guys, one playing the Didgeridoo, and another playing sticks. This was all before the 54km check point and was the major point for competitors to drop out. As I was running along a fire road towards this first supported check point another runner came along side. He was a former pro ironman, and he was not in a good mental state. He was really struggling mentally with the course. He did not expect the terrain to be so hard and was only thinking of having to do another brutal 50km. you cant think like this. Imagine going out at the start, running for 2-3 hrs and thinking of the WHOLE course in front of you. It would seem way to big to complete.
I break it up into small portions. Check point by check point, this hill to that hill, only a marathon to go, now only a half marathon to go…It helps.
During the run i would constantly think about a few different things. Firstly it was of that dam silver belt buckle. I would imagine crossing the finish line to get the belt buckle, taking it home to take a picture of it and posting it on this blog for you guys. I didn’t want to return home with a bronze and have to post that after i said i wanted the silver. I put expectations on myself and i wanted to live up to them. By me telling you that i wanted that belt buckle i knew i was installing that motivation factor in me before the race.
My second point of motivation was Amanda. During the race there were 3 supported check points, one at 54km, one at 65km and the other at 89km. Amanda was my support crew and I wanted to get to her as soon as I could. I also wanted to finish the race as soon as I could so I could get back to the hotel with her….to rest.
I think the third motivator was that I knew that as soon as I crossed that finish line I could stop running. I knew that I would cross it, it was just a matter of when. So if I stopped, took to long at check points, walked when I could run, it would all just add to the time I was out there. I had a job to do, I just had to dig in and get it done. JUST GET IT DONE is a mantra that I use a lot in life.
The last 20km is killer!!
You know you are going to cross the line but it is still so far away. The km’s seem to take forever to tick by. I use my watch and make calculations constantly to keep my pace on track and as a form of distraction. After leaving the last check point with only 11km to go i was bursting with energy to be finished. I think i ran faster, running up stairs in order to hurry up. The last 5 km was excruciating, as the distance cards counted each km. The last 3km were up and down, and up and down, stairs and more stairs, and more stairs…aahhhh come on, give a guy a break!!!! I could hear the compare on the microphone during the last km, I could see the lights through the tress then the track would turn away..nooooo. Finally I popped out of the trees and a guy said “not far now, only 400m”.
Running up past the Fairmont resort to the finish was wonderful. Amanda was there to great me, a Silver belt buckle was placed in my hand and all I had to say was “I got to sit down”.
This type of race is best felt retrospectively, I believe. The next day you recover then you get to think about it. You think about the hardship you put yourself through and all for what, a silver belt buckle? No. You go through the hardship to try to become a better person, to gain strength, to test yourself, to train yourself mentally. The mental skills I have learnt during my races have helped me to get out of bed in the mornings for training, to get through a stressful work day, to persevere through hard times both physical and mental.
I hope to see you out there, enduring, testing, getting stronger.