|6am start line. Strutting, unaware. Photo by Nora|
It’s easier to write about success than it is to write about defeat. There are lessons in reflection but why dwell. It’s all in the stats. Knee Knacker was one of the hottest. There was good carnage and extra suffering on the course … cramps, sobs, vomit, blood, a lot swearing and misery.
Tom later tried to console me by saying “if it makes you feel any better, only nine runners finished in sub six hours”.
Sub six was my goal time.
Who knows if doing this or that differently would have changed the outcome of my day. What did make me feel better was, well, the event is special in my heart. Many of my friends were there, and the volunteers were so excited for everyone. That joy was somewhat contagious – I was quite grumpy by the end. Blame it on the random instrumentals, dwarfs and bright popsicles … it was hard to stay grumpy, especially with Gemma beaming “this is just magical”.
|The Bluffs with Ann-marie Gill. Dry mouth. Photo by Herman Kwong.|
Oh taper, my nemesisI was a volunteer crew for eight days with BC Bike Race the week prior to Knee Knacker. This seemed like a good idea at the time. I would be away from running-adventure temptations, perfect taper. I thought a bit of travel on the Sunshine Coast, camp, mingle with racers, and a lot of lounging? Not so much. I was a labour horse and returned home completely wiped-out with a sore throat to boot. My symptoms subsided some, but by the Friday before race day I had a full-blown head cold.
KK was the last ultra scheduled in my season, so I wanted to still run it. I could have adjusted my time goals and therefore enjoy the experience, but nooo I was going to kill it or it was going to kill me.
When Jackie passed me in Leg Four she scolded “you’re forbidden to taper ever again, you always get sick when you taper.”
|Top of Black MTN. Photo by Nora.|
Don’t move, don’t talk, don’t think, don’t worry everything’s just fineI was sluggish from the gun. No rhythm, breathing was difficult, my limbs felt like foam and my brain just didn’t show up. All I had going for me was rage and confidence. Convinced I would surmount whatever the day would throw at me, I just needed to drink and eat my way out of this stupor. Except I didn’t.
"Where are we? Is this Black now … hey, was that Ed McCarthy?”
Then I was with Marieve and Julien. We were trying to enjoy Cypress, chirping a bit but mostly quiet. Julien took a sharp tumble down the chute but he shooed us away, saying he was fine. I trotted forward on numb feet.
British Properties, pitty patter, then that little climb nearing Capilano Canyon, then CRAMP. Both legs seize and I summersault down the descent. I shoo my companions away, then awkwardly roll into Cleveland Dam. Half-way and all considering only four minutes off target. I smile for the first time as Munny nudges and heckles with his GoPro “how’s it going buddy?!”. Quick refill by Dave and Munny and I start walking up Nancy Green Way holding a salty potato. Walking?
|Hollyburn Chute with Julien Henley. Photo by Pat Malaviarachchi.|
I think I saw hell, then I swallowed the sunThe rest is just an agonizing, tearful, bizarre blur. Between laying on the ground or against trees screeching with full-body cramps, there were burst of autopilot running.
I recall Marieve’s fiery hair showing the way in slow motion like red streamers through narrow green towers. I clung to her voice, soothing she said “let’s do this together” as she pulled away. I don’t know what happened to Julien, he mumbled something. Was he ahead or behind, I lost track but wished he would be there again. Tom had advised me the day before to find a runner to pace with. I was mad, lonely.
Matt’s face popped from above, mouthing gibberish in an amused tone. As I looked up the climb where his glowing beard was perched, I replied… “I’m actually kind of cold”.
And the hallucinations crept on “where … hey was that Snow White?”
|For real. Photo by Cindy Hartford.|
Tick tock. I’m late
The one time I ask friends to be there for a finish and I’m over half an hour late!
“Wake-up! Get it together girl. Go GO move it!”
It wasn’t the finish I envisioned, not with the passing out and snot, and aloof responses to simple questions (forgive me Sammy, Ellie, Enzo and Dr. Richie). I had requested hot shirtless men with beer at the finish. Too bad I was “out of it” to better enjoy the moment, however thank you Aran and Graham for playing along. You guys are good sports and I owe you still.
Let’s go out and feel the night
I know it’s just a race. And in a few days (or weeks), the sting of disappointment will dim and I’ll remember … Not very much actually. The second half is a blackout, and so I’ll remember only that I survived another darn ultra. “A real character builder” as Tom said.
Time to enjoy the night’s breeze on a mountaintop and no more 4:45am alarm clocks for a while.
Finished in 6h31, 2nd age group, 10th overall female. Full results KK 2014: here
PS: Hey – I bet you wished you’d wagered on our predictions. Jeff and I nailed the interviews for top three male and female podium spots!
Next up: 5Peaks Trailstoke race report (don’t worry Jackie, I’m just doing the relay)