Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Abel Tasman Coastal Classic 36k race

In short: I placed 8th F (out of approx 130), 4th FU40. Stoked! The coastal track from Totaranui to Marahau in Abel Tasman National Park is stunning! Meant to be a 36k race, but due to recent rebuilding of the track, it was 41k. I think everyone knew this fact but me. I was DONE by 36k mark, but no finish line in sight. At the time, any additional km's were seriously unwanted. But I passed 2 girls in the last 1-2k, so maybe it was worth it?

The nitty gritty: Family road trip! My partner and I drove up with our two dogs, fully loaded the car with gear, tent, food etc, and made our way up past Nelson to Marahau. All the driving reminded me of when I lived out of my car for 3 months traveling throughout the US of A two years ago. Except, in stark contrast, I was 100% on my own solo, which presented its own unique challenges. Both enjoyable in very different ways.
Obligatory photos of the Zeus-meister...

Race day rolled out like this: wake up, eat breakfast and change, make sure gear is all sorted, register at race HQ (about 80m walk from where we were camping), grab a bus to Kaiteriteri, grab a boat taxi to Totaranui -- all went smoothly, couldn't have asked for better race organization.

Once in Totaranui, I held on to my winter jacket for as long as I could; I get cold easily. The wind was blowing like crazy, sort of but not really raining (blue skies but still drizzling, I don't understand). At the race start, every single person's gear was checked to make sure all had their required gear (polypro LS top, hat, gloves, seam-sealed waterproof jacket, survival blanket, whistle, bladder filled with water). Out of 300+, only 3 fucked up. That's pretty good! Race brief, and we were off. In speaking with my coach, I made a comment about how I very rarely go out too hard in a race, in fact I'd say I'm rather conservative. She suggested that I go out slightly (SLIGHTLY) harder than I normally would and try to hang onto that. In the last couple weeks, it has been what I've been practicing as well. Getting comfortable being uncomfortable right from the get go, not 20k into the IM marathon.

Well, we were off, running comfortably with everyone all bunched up at the beginning, only to spread out in the first climb less than 1k into it! Did my job: went out harder than I usually would. How did this pan out? Well, I seriously seriously regretted my decision to go out and attempt to stick to such an effort from the 13-18k mark. Not even halfway, and I'm tired already. I did have a wee cooldown (water to my hips in places, yes!) crossing the Awaroa Inlet, so that was a nice break from the head-pumping, calves screaming beach running or single track hills!

And from there the pictures stop... which pretty much means: feeling progressively more fucked but trying to control it, staying on top of nutrition (100cals every 25min), avoiding rolling an ankle, etc. Once the race had spread out, I had this tiny voice in the back of my head saying: "Ease up, there's no one around you, you can take your foot off the pedal and just trot it in". Only, I would see someone every couple of minutes and race mode couldn't really switch off: I NEEDED TO PASS THEM! So the burners stayed on, my legs were fucked, I power-hiked some of the steeper hills, but in general I tried to run run run. Finally, as I approached the 36k mark (and the official race distance), I realized there was no finish line in sight. 36k's came and went. I had prepared and perfectly meted out my energy to be 100% DONE by 36k's, so where was this fucking finish line???? 5k's later... I'm still running... sort of hallucinating, grimacing like crazy, still passing people left and right in my "100 rpm-you-can-do-it" leg turnover mode, but in so much pain I could die. FINALLY, finally, we dropped down, hit the boardwalk and ran the last 500m to the finish line. Oh my god, my legs have never been so fucked. I was hissing and wheezing and panting/crying. I think my partner was smiling and simply saying: "This is why you sign up for these things, to feel this sort of pain". I was also 8th F, TOTALLY AWESOME, not expected. I wanted to be somewhere up there, but top 10 is choice. Out of like 130 or so? Neat!

Officially: Fucked.
4:22:13 (1st F was 3:57:xx), 8th F, 4th FU40, 64/314 OA. 
End of race day rainbow.

Did some post-race exploring but the end of the road trip can seriously be categorized by this:
Halfway down the West Coast on our way home, we got news that the Haast Pass had indeed been closed again (it had closed due to a major slip taking out the road, but had been reopened again during daylight hours last time I had checked). Well, a 600km detour later to return home by the East coast and Lindis Pass, we were back home in Wanaka. Ouch!

Extra pics:
Sunrise in Marahau the next morning.
Top of Takaka hill somewhere.

The white one
In the mystical faerie forest, West Coast

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