The North Face 50 Newsletter came out this week….
The shop has finally opened…
Really proud of this and how hard John, JoeJoe and I have worked to get this to happen.
Lantau 70: Redemption
This was going to be tough. I knew that I hadn’t trained as much as I would have liked over the last month. Simple as that. It was going to be a long day in the office. My target was 15 hours. This I knew meant that everything that needed to go right, had to go right. I had to nail everything. Nutrition, shoes, pacing. Everything. Little did I know that in fact everything went wrong. Apart from one minor detail, I finished.
Kit at start:
North Face Flight series shorts and top,
Inov8 Terraclaw 250
Inov8 Mid Rise Socks
Salomon Sense 3 litre
4 x 500 ml Soft Flasks (1 x Tailwind (concentrated), 3 x water)
Changed into Salomon X Series
Start to Ngong Ping (CP1)
I arrived at the start line after getting the boat with Emily, Stuart, Dave, Mark and John. Saw many faces and said hello to many people. My plan was a slow start. I started in the middle of the pack and wanted to try and keep a nice power hike over Sunset. This felt great and for much of this my head was down and trying to get myself into a nice rhythm. I eventually found this and felt quite comfortable going over Sunset and then Lantau. Lantau I found someone who I spent the best part of 30km with who was doing the perfect pace. Not too hard and not too slowly. I arrived into the CP feeling very comfortable. Tailwind was working and the legs felt good, actually they felt bloody great. I came into the CP and filled what I needed and left quite quickly. A turnover of around 3 minutes at the most.
Ngong Ping to Tai O (CP2)
And then the wheels came off. I continued power hiking around teh Buddha and within 4 minutes of leaving the CP, I was suffering from cramp. I have never had cramp in a race before or a run. This was difficult. I had taken enough fluids, taken enough Tailwind, everything was fine. I sat for a minute massaging the thighs and then continued. Went through Ngong Ping, collected some ice cold water from 7-11. Two bottles for me to drink a a bottle for me to pour over my head. The weather was slowly heating up. I started to jog slowly down the road towards the next trail section of the Lantau Trail. Cramping quite badly and before I even got started on the jog vomited whatever fluid I had just taken on. My stomach was being affected and whatever was going on with the legs wasn’t helping either. I slowly started to move further down the road when Rob Demirel caught up with me. We stuck together till Tai O. Was good to spend time with Rob and was good to have someone to keep pushing. Got on to the next trail section which I remembered from last year. Just utterly beautiful and really enjoyed going through this section. Felt that my pace was good. Feet were starting to be a tad sore from the Inov8’s and their lack of ability on the road. Knew I had some shoes spare in Tai O and couldn’t wait to get there. Saw Roger Graham who was ensuring people didn’t take a short cut. Was nice to see a familiar face. Ended up coming down into Tai O feeling good and discovered the stash of peanut M and M’s that I had placed in my bag. Ate them. Moved on. Ran down into Tai O.
Got to the check point with nothing left. Remember stumbling in and collapsing on the floor. Was really in a bad place. No Tailwind for most of this section and couldn’t remember if I had taken on any of the gels. Remembered people helping me and pouring cold water over me. Jeri was there and made sure I was hydrated. Retha passed me a cold can of Coke and this was honestly the best tasting Coke I have ever drank. Changed my shoes and took a few minutes to get myself ready and cool. Rob came in looking tired. It had been a hard day on the trails for him and he did brilliantly. Saw a few other people and said hello. Got myself up and got out of the CP. Felt good and much better than I did when I got into the CP.
Tai O to Catchwater (CP3)
Jeri had given me some tips on how to combat the cramping before I had left the CP. I knew that this was going to be tough on this section with a few ups and downs. Ran along the path to get to the first turning up onto this section. The climb was arduous to say the least. I could take around 100 steps before the cramping started and wasn’t feeling overly energetic. I knew I needed to take on as much energy as possible or there was no way I was going to finish. I was in a major deficit now. I had eaten as much as I could at the CP. I continued on and slowly started the climb. I felt pretty good considering how awful I had felt after the previous section. Eventually, Jon Lee caught up with me as I was cramping at the end of the first major climb. It was just so beautiful. The sun was slowly setting and the views were just unbelievable. I ended up catching up with the guy I had paced with over Sunset and Lantau and stuck with him until the next CP. I was cramping badly now and every step was becoming more and more difficult. I got to the CP feeling pretty good and ate and drank and recovered.
Catchwater to Shui Hau (CP4)
After taking on water and eating some orange and watermelon, I left the CP. I felt pretty good and now knew the wort was over. Just knew there was going to be a long flat secton. I got the headphones on and got my head down and powered along. I knew that I couldn’t run as far as I would like so ended up jogging for a song and walking for a song. Felt okay. Bei caught up with me and she could see I was having some issues. I had 30+k to go and knew that this was a make or break section. I ended up feeling okay and thought I got through this section quite quickly. This section was semi-nondescript and wasn’t anything to write home about. The next section however…
Shui Hau (CP4) to Finish
This was tough. Coming into the CP there was a lady selling Coke and Snickers. I bought some, naturally. Got to the CP and refilled, ate all the pretzls and got myself ready for thsi section. After a small climb it was catchwater. 15k of it. At this point I knew my feet were in a state, my cramping was pretty bad and as I had adjusted how I was running to compensate, my left knee was now unable to take a lot of weight when running downhill. This last 20k was going to push my ability – both physical and mental – to the absolute limit. Time was becoming an issue. The hike up to the catchwater was slow. I arrived and knew it was now a case of head down and get to Pui O. I was entering a whole level of pain and the negative thoughts started coming through. Could I do this? Did I want this? The answer to both was yes.
I pushed as hard as I could to get through and off this catchwater. It felt like an age. At one point I lay on the floor in absolute agony from cramp. I didn’t know what to do. I spent three or four minutes just staring up at the stars. I cried. I wanted this badly. I got up and powered on. Eventually we came off the catchwater and down into Pui O. I knew there was around 5/6 k to go at this point. Following the markings, I knew there was one last climb and then it was done.
Got to the bottom of the stairs leading up over the last hill. I sat down, recovered my thoughts, remembered why I was doing this, remembered that this was what I wanted. After last year and the DNF, I knew that this was it. 65k done. I started walking up. Only being able to take around 30 steps at a time due to the knee. Slowly climbing and slowly trying to get the job done. Some people over took me and at this point that didn’t bother me. I couldn’t care less. Then the slow down hill. This hurt. I was hurting everywhere. My legs and feet were done. My head wasn’t. Nothing was going to stop me. My goal of 15 hours was gone. 16 hours was too. Now I just wanted to finish. This had been the hardest day Ive ever face. I slowly and finally got to the steps leading down into Mui Wo. I knew there was around 500m left. I pushed. I used up every little ounce to start jogging. This was painful. I wanted to finish. I slowly came round the car park and could see Martijn, who was at Tai O last year when i DNF’d. I could see Shane the RD who has been beyond supportive. I could see Michceala.
- Some days are bad days, some days are good – doesn’t matter what happens you have to keep going forward. There were ample times when I could have quit and could have gone “enough’s enough” but I wanted this. I respected this course and that is something I need to learn to do more often.
- Shoes need revising. Inov8’s were amazing on the peaks. Salomon X Series were amazing on the concrete. BUT they were neither perfect for the whole race. It may be time to get the HOKA’s once again.
- Nutrition plan – should have worked, has always worked – need a back up plan that I can move to in the worst case scenarios.
- Cramp – not sure what happened and not sure why it happened. But this needs to be addressed.
There are now 40 days until The North Face 50. Better get myself sorted and fixed and running.