“At the end of the day
Some you win,
some you don’t
So I’m glad that I’m here
With some friends that I know
Always there with a smile
Saying you’re not alone.
Yesterday is history
You gotta get through it
Tomorrow is a mystery
So let’s just do it” – Que Sera, Justice Crew.
The song that got me to the end.
Thinking back to the race it’s hard to believe that is was only a few days ago – yet it feels like years. It still makes me smile; I did run well but that isn’t the thing that makes me most happy, it was the atmosphere in the lead up to the event, the energy, the town filled with runners and being surrounded by new and old friends who were all committing to the same extreme challenge of running The North Face 100.
The Blue Mountains were spectacular under the cloudless sky; it eased everyone’s concern over mandatory gear and excited me that I would be getting a winter tan throughout the long day!
I started in wave 2, a decision I consciously made from a lesson learnt during the Tarawera 100 where I went out with the elites and blew up. I took it easy and chatted with numerous runners as we descended the Furber stairs and carefully made our way along the landslide. I don’t think I have ever talked so much in a race but I had a blast discussing nutrition and races with surrounding runners who knew me and were genuinely interested in my life story.
I got to the first checkpoint at Narrow Neck and ran straight through. I chose to walk the hills but when I got on to road sections I stretched out and felt pure amazement at how good my body felt. I ran along on my own, gobsmacked by the views and picking runners I wanted to catch up to.
I was joined by one guy who surprised me by asking if I was Lucy, and then went on to say he had been messaging me about tips in the lead up to this run, clearly I was either giving away great tips or I should have been asking him for advice because he ran on up iron pot ridge. I had been told this was one of the least loved part of the course which is understandable as you run an out and back loop and end up where you started- but I loved it! I love having runners coming in the opposite direction as I can’t help myself but encourage others and smile as we listened to the tunes of the didgeridoo!!
I got to Dumphys camp at 31km and picked up some water and cold watermelon and ran on. I knew I was 30minutes in front of my goal time; I had told Dad I was going for a sub 14hr finish (Silver Buckle) and felt like I was running within myself.
The kilometre’s ticked over slowly and time raced past as I shuffled my way up the last hill into the checkpoint. Then I saw someone who I could distinguish a mile away in running gear, my trail running mum who has seen me do so many races, Jacinta. She gave me a wave and told me the best news of the day – she would be running the next section with me. I was feeling thirsty from the increasing temperature and again filled up water and got some more watermelon. We took off, it was a long road section before a shady climb up Nellies Glen up to the Katoomba Aquatic centre where I knew my Dad was waiting. I was kicking to see him!
It wasn’t easy; the flat road tired the working muscles in my feet and knees, Jacinta insisted on making small talk and celebrated the 50km (half way)mark wildly. We ran constantly and as much as I didn’t say it, her presence was what I needed more than anything.
Running into Katoomba I had a sudden rush of adrenaline as supporters lined the entrance to the hall and cheered me in. I arrived in, spotted Dad and was unintentially blunt; I wanted electrolytes, I wanted watermelon (again) and I needed my iPod.
With that I left and as I did I realised that was probably the stupidest thing because I was a getting low on food. And a few minutes there would make little impact with 43kms to go. Lesson learnt. (Mind you when I was told of the men’s finish, every second counts).
Jacinta and I ran on a little more through the tourists at the 3 Sisters and down onto the fun trail that followed the cliffs out to Leura and onto Wentworth Falls. Jacinta left me at the giant stairs and I made my way down preparing myself for a long leg but was enjoying the beautiful, dark trails and being alone in such a surreal place it felt unreal.
Kilometre markers were every 5km but it felt like every 10. When you live where I do and 10km takes 40 minutes you get used to k’s ticking over in no time, in the mountains 10km takes closer to 90minutes and involved stairs upon stairs. This killed me mentally. but I knew all I had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to the final checkpoint, to see dad, get some food and get onto the one part of the course I had run previously.
We ran through the Fairmont and memories returned of waiting for my Dad 1n 2012 at 11:00pm to come across the finish line and dreaming of myself doing the same. Today I was; this run was two years in the making.
I got to the next checkpoint with 2 other ladies who were doing their first 100km and absolutely smashing it. I ran in, looked around and didn’t see Dad; I got some water, some more watermelon (serious addiction) and ran out. It didn’t quite hit me that I still had no food on me for a long 22km leg that would take up to 3hours after nearly 10hrs of racing. I knew this section and allowed my body to fall down a 9km descent knowing that it was all up from the bottom. I was okay for the first few hills with music blasting in my ears, until I had to put my head torch on and I lost all strength in my legs and found it really hard to grasp where I was, the tunnel vision of the head lamp is quiet new to me and this affected me mentally as well as digging myself a hole with no real food or calories to consume.
Finally I found myself with other people after being alone for a while; I was running along with the 50km sweepers and back on to the final trail that led to the base of the Furber stairs. This was the longest trail ever. I had nothing left for this near flat trail and was concerned for my body as I zig-zaged my way across the trail. Reaching the 1km to go sign all I wanted to do was to sit down, cry, take a picture, text my Dad, and laugh all at once.
This 1km will go down as the hardest 1000m I have ever experienced, with steps that were descended in the early hours of the morning I was now endeavouring to ascend after 99km of happiness running. But every step was a step closer and I knew that I was going to make it, I had hands on the steps in front of me and bear crawled my way up. I paused to let the dizzy spells pass until I got to the wooden boards when a couple yelled 80m to go!! I jogged (sort of) down the finish shoot absorbing the people and the support I was getting. I found Dad waiting at the end, collapsed on to him. 13:02:00. Job done.
Thanks to everyone; The vollies, Race director and team. You just can’t do this stuff without support.
All ten of the sponsors supporting the event but my sponsors of Footpro and Optimus who are the glue that hold me together!
“So you gotta be strong
Live by the words of the song
Together is where we belong
never stop dreaming
Keep holding on”