It wasn't pretty, but it's over. And all I want to do is the next one.
It started with a pleasant Hauraki harbour cruise out to Home Bay, Motutapu. On the way we got a good close look at Rangitoto.
|It doesn't look so big from here!|
|Not Remotely Intimidated|
Find more Run in Auckland
The map doesn't really do it justice... Check out this short vid from the clever people at 123runwild. Note: I am not in the video!
Here are some shots I did manage to get in, though...
|The first hill. I trained for these, you know...|
The first 27km were kind of what I expected - certainly very hard, lots of climbs, stunning views, rocks. But nothing I hadn't really prepared for. I beat all the hills, including the Rangitoto summit (which was about the 1/3 waypoint of the course) - but things got really "technical" after the climb up Rangitoto. The descent was sharp, and the coastal track, about 8km around the southern edge of Rangitoto back to Motutapu, was an unending, toe crushing chain of jagged scoria. Every stubbed left toe would bring the warning twinge of a right-leg cramp and vice versa. About 10 days later the toenail on my right second toe is black and about ready to come off.
|Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 way! Rocking it out.|
I went to a lot of strange places on the last third of the course. This comprised a big figure-8 loop back on Motutapu. No rock. Nothing steep. Just long meandering climbs up and down big grassy hills. Windswept. Lonely. The first 2/3 of the course had been shared by the other events - two mountainbike courses, a half marathon, and the shorter runs and walks. Sometimes using the same trail, sometimes criss crossing, sometimes passing each other in opposite directions. But always someone to follow or pass. But the last third of the marathon (except for the excrutiating transit through the event base) was very isolated. By that stage even the other marathon runners were few and far between - always someone about half a mile ahead, someone about half a mile behind, obviously struggling with some or all of the same mental and physical demons because they never seem to get away or get much closer.
I think I was on track until that 2/3 mark - probably got there in about 2.5 to 3 hours. Then the wheels completely fell off, and I had cramp everywhere on and off for the rest of the course. More on than off, truth be told, and every everywhere. I thought I would give up - convinced that I couldn't survive the 32km decision point (where you have to run through the middle of the event base and past the finish line before heading out to do another 10km of tussocky hills). But something (will, pride, adrenaline, fear, shame, some bizarre combination of all of these) was able to overcome the temptation and I pushed through. I guess it was never really an option. But on the course I regretted the decision from the 33km mark until I crested the final hill and descended into the event base for the second time, almost 2 hours of rediculous pain later.
I got a bad full leg cramp on a relatively steep descent just short of the 38km aid station, and fell. It's an interesting sensation - aside from the pain - to have your legs just seize, just lock in mid-air, a mid-stride mechanical failure. After the rather undignified tumble I was cast for a few horrifying seconds, lying in the damp grass, legs sticking out in the air, unable to push my toes against anything to alleviate the cramp as it spread from leg to leg and up my torso. I had to roll over and just basically tilted myself up onto my rigid legs from a pressup position. Actually a pretty nifty trick which I guess I pulled off out of sheer desperation. At the aid station the marshall helpfully suggested I have a seat but I declined - I didn't think I would ever get up again if I stopped.
I also ran out of music at that point, so that must have marked 4:36. With 4km still to go...
|Finish line! I lost three hours in between those two photos... Lost time probably indicates aliens... I do feel probed.|
In the end I posted 5:35, which is about an hour slower than I thought I wanted to go if I was going slow.
At first I was very sore and grumpy and wanted to take the next ferry back to the mainland. But I rinsed off in the ocean, and got outside of a cold Speights and, while I was getting a leg massage at the Body-Need tent, Don Macglashan got his set underway on the main stage. I lay in the grass with beer and chips and blissed out to Don Macglashan and the trauma of the previous 5 hours kind of melted away. All running should be this. I caught the next ferry instead.
|Rangitoto hides in cloud, refuses to look at me after the violent probing.|