Monday, March 19, 2012

Tarawera 100km race report

I just need to start off by saying how awesome this race is and what a great job the R.D Paul has done growing this event down here in NZ.

I arrived in Rotorua on wednesday afternoon. I'll admit, I sure didn't want to leave Raglan as I truely fell in love with the place but there was a race that had to be run! My host lady, Robyn, came and picked me up at the bus station and so generously invited me into her home for the next 5 days. Robyn, you were such a great host and I thank you so much for all your generosity over that time.

I felt kind of guilty for just bumming around in Rotorua over the next few days. Besides walking around town I really didn't do a whole lot. I had a blast running on the trails for the 7.5km "Fun Run" Paul hosted in the Redwoods forest on Thursday evening and there was a great turn out of people. I'll admit, it was a pretty hilly run and I defintly worked way harder on that run than I had in the last days and was cursing him a little bit as if he were trying to tire us out before the race!

The run was followed by a showing of the Western States 100 movie 'Unbreakable'. We watched it in a beautiful outdoor sitting area in the redwoods forest. I was just smiling from ear to ear watching it as it was fimled the same year that Peter and I did it. Even though I knew how it all unfolded, it was pretty awesome watching it happen all over again. Friday was pretty uneventful. I went for a short 20 minute run and eventually made my way over to package pick-up. I was pretty stoked that our race shirts were going to be Ice Breaker shirts. They are awesome.

The next morning, I woke up at 5am, did my thing, ate some breafast. Actually, normally I have toast with PB and banana but my whole trip I had been having oats with seeds and raisins, banana, PB, and yogurt and I decided to have it that morning as well. Wow, I had such great energy levels at the start (and throughout) of my run that I think that combo is a keeper!

Ok the run...The first 60km of this run are unbelievable. You run on the most amazing single track and I couldn't help but compare it to trails back home in North Vancouver. They were technical and unlike North Van, were super flowy as they winded their way along and around lakes and rivers. A lot of people were pretty slow going along the technical stuff but that is where I know my strength lies and continuously passed others on these sections as well as going downhill. It's always a back and forth game as I do get passed going back uphills. There were so many people running in the Vibrum 5 fingers and minimalist shoes. Not a single Hoka one one found here! I even saw a guy running in crocks...and he came 3rd male in the 60km!

Early on in the race, we ran through some pretty flooded trails and my shoes filled with sand and rocks.

(One of the flooded sections)

I stopped once to empty them but I ran with sand in my socks for the entire race. I was actually surprised my feet were not in worse shape. It was hard to tell what distances people were running as out bibs all looked the same. However, from very early on I was the first woman and I held on from there. I felt amazingly good for the first 60km.

(Tarawera Falls- The only time I purposly stopped to take in the scenery)

The next 40km however, I will admit I was not looking as forward to it as I knew it was all gravel road. Mentally, it was very challenging. However, my body responded better than it ever has to fuelling. Normally, it a race this long I start rejecting my fuel plan but I was fine. I drank a lot of water and I am sure that helped. Everytime I filled my camelbak I put in about 45 drops of elite (a liquid electrolyte solution) and I had no cramping issues all day. My hands didn't swell at all and I was just stoked that I finally found something that worked for me.

In this race, if you feel good, if you were registered for the 60km you could carry on keep going, doing either the 85km or the 100km. Similiarly, if you felt like crap, you could choose to drop down as well. I did have thoughts of how nice it would be to stop at the 85km but once youve done 85km, your pretty much there. When I had 10km to go I pretty much jumped for joy! By this point however I was only consuming coke and watermelon. I'd choke down the odd honey stinger chew but those werent going so well anymore. I thought a lot about my family and Peter and the words of encouragement they gave me before the race. Tips to keep me lifted when I start to feel low. I didn't have a pacer in the end but managed to stick pretty close by another guy and his and that helped heeps. Also, having Robyn there with my fuel at the aid stations made for very quick transitions.

In the end, I finished first women, 9th overall, in a time of 10:26. I took 63 minutes off the old course record and I really couldnt have been happier with my performance out there. I was convinced that the 100km was not my distance having only completed 2 in my last 4 attempts but this was an exceptional day. The course only had about 9,000ft of elevation gain which suited me well as I am a stronger runner than I am mountain climber. My body felt great all day and I just seemed to be able to maintain a really consistant pace. I met so many great people over the course of a few days and everyone has been super awesome. I have had more than a few invites to come check out their home town here in NZ and run on the trails.

(Awards at Abracadabra)

There was a really great awards brunch the next day at Abracadabra- yummy food! It was great catching up with people and hearing stories about their day. I won a free day at the Spa to hang out in the hot pools and took advanatge of that, that day.

I had loads of people wondering what kind of shoes I was wearing. You don't see much La Sportiva shoes down here. It was great to chat about La Sportiva as I am obviously a big fan. The combo of Crosslites and the Defeet socks have proven to be a killer combo for my feet and I only had but one tiny blister which I will blame on all the sand in my shoes. This might have been a good race to have worn my hot pink dirty girl gaitors!

Now I am in Taupo. The weather here is pretty bad. Yesterday it was sideways winds and rain and today it's just windy. I'm off to explore the huka falls!

Thanks again to Paul and all the amazing volunteers that made this event extremely memorable! I am sorry if there are any spelling errors as I had no internet time to proof-read (sorry mom)!


Sara said...

Congrats, Nicola! I was very excited to hear that you won. CR too, nice! Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Derrick said...

congrats on a great race Nicola!

DanLeahy said...

Way to go nic!! We miss you!!!

kristinop said...

Congrats on an awesome race Nicola! You rocked it! Enjoy the NZ trails.

kristinop said...

Congrats on an awesome race Nicola! You rocked it! Enjoy the NZ trails.