Being prescribed antibiotics 10 days before the big run is never the ideal situation to be in.
But thanks to a solid dose of the flu that I hadn’t been able to shake for 3 weeks, that was what the doctor ordered.
It took 6 days before there was any sign that the medicine was going to have any effect, on the amount of green I was coughing up.
I am lucky to have a large group of friends and family who were all concerned, about whether I was still going to or able to race or not.
The honest truth was I was hedging my bets. Hoping that I would magically wake up and I’d be fully recovered, super healthy, and ready to run…
But it didn’t happen…
I checked with doctor Google… “is it safe to run with chest infection?”.
Not liking the answer I tried “running with a cough”.
Finally I tried “how soon after a cold is it safe to run?”
The answers to those questions are:
Definitely not! And
If you have 72hrs clear of symptoms, it’s probably ok to go for an easy walk…
Consoling myself with the fact I could transfer my entry till next year, or change to one of the shorter distances at the pre-race registration if needed we set off to Taupo. The accommodation was booked, and we were long overdue a family holiday anyway.
On the drive up I talked with Jules about how I was feeling and the different options.
It is an unusual space you have to get your head into before you run an ultra, and for me that prep can take months. So to unprep and give away the idea entirely wasn’t something I could really fathom two days out from the event.
Even once I walked into the registration area the night before the race I still had this little internal voice “What if I just give it a nudge and I finish?….”
As a result I found myself standing in the line with a bunch people, who looked a lot fitter, and healthier than me…
Getting my gear checked…
Getting myself weighed…
Picking up my race pack…
For the 100km.
I’d like to say that it dawned bright and early. But actually I fell out of bed at 3am to shower and dress before trotting up the dark street to where 20 other people all stood around with headlamps on.
The bus took a good hour and a half to get to where the race started, as a result the rush to form a queue at the 4 port-a-loos was unanimous from all those on the bus.
The start area had the usual pre-race energy, thumping music and blaring announcements over the speaker system.
At bang on 6am we started, for the first 2km we ran mostly in single file, headlights lighting the way.
As we made our way along the track heading east the horizon in front of us slowly lightened and the spectacular scenery became more and more distinct.
Until at last we reached the lake edge.
The track then ran roughly parallel to the shore only heading inland to zigzag it’s way over one headland and down the next. I felt good through the first 15kms, then average through the next 10.
By the time I got to the 33k mark it felt like I was continuously breathing through a snorkel. Never quite being able to get my breath.
There was a short section up to the road, across farmland, when I realized I wouldn’t have the capacity to finish the race. Coming to that conclusion, I allowed myself the luxury of slowing down to the speed my lungs could cope with, and to enjoy the view.
The section through to the 50km checkpoint was a mix of farmland and forestry. And a final 6km along a blazing hot road under the constant glare of a unseasonably early summer sun. I reunited with my support crew as I came out of the forest and it was a superb boost to my mental state.
I crawled up the last few rolling hills that would normally be so enjoyable.
By the time I got to the checkpoint, the event staff had received word from my support crew that I wanted to withdraw, and even though I was at the official cut off time. They let me cross the timing mat to record a 50km time before they closed up the checkpoint.
It took me a week or so to come to some kind of acceptance within myself, that I had done all I could, and that it was the wiser move to to have let this one go.
But on the plus side, because we had booked a week long holiday, expecting that I would need recovery time after 100km. We were able to…. after a day or so of me hobbling around …. spend the remaining time chillin, and have that much-needed and long overdue family holiday.
What a much better way to spend time.