Last weekend was the “Kep Ultra”, the race that first sparked my interest in “ultra- running” a few years ago.
I knew I wouldn’t be entering this year as I was only just getting back into training…but I had a plan, a cunning plan. I’d run my own “Ultra” during the race, watching and encouraging racers along the way. I’d call it “ultra-watching!” Little did I know this plan would be my undoing…
From the time I arrived at the finish line (my starting point) I had a plan in mind. I’d start at the finish line for the race and run the 23km down hill to the final check-point for the 100km racers, there I’d refill my water bottles and run the 23km back up the hill to the finish line, grabbing some photos and saying “hey” to racers as I went. (46km/28ish miles in total)
From the time I set out I felt bad, about two kilometers in I stopped and ate the total of the food I’d brought along (some baby food I’d been “experimenting” with) hoping it would give me some energy, I felt as if I were stuck in sand, even on what seemed flat ground my energy was being zapped fast.
I pushed on knowing that I probably just needed to warm up and then things would be smooth again. At about 8km I ran into some volunteers setting up for a final check point at a crucial intersection. They seemed awful surprised to see me and mistook me for a racer, shouting at me that I was “going the wrong way”.
“I’m not racing” I shouted back as I headed downhill toward the oncoming 100km racers. By my calculations’ the lead runners should be coming through in about in hour I thought.
I was running downhill now but the effort required was still very hard. “What the hell is going on?” I was starting to wonder, normally I can smash the descents but today I was struggling to keep going. I pushed on…
An hour passed and I was at the Darlington Station, A major landmark in the race, I filled my water and waited for the runners to come…they didn’t, my calculations were wrong, my head was hurting, I was getting a migraine. I felt cold and decided to put on my jacket (best decision ever) after waiting I pushed on toward the bottom of the hill. Almost immediately my head began to throb. I pulled into bushes and tried to pee…it came out brown.
“Oh shit” I was dehydrated…badly.
I walked back up the hill to Darlington and refilled all my water bottles, drinking them entirely twice before doing the sensible thing and back tracking back toward my car.
It took me a long time to hike the distance I previously ran, but hiking was making me feel better.
I was enjoying the view and listening to my music. Two hours later I was in Mundaring and there I met the front runner in the 100km race, he was running well and I couldn’t help but envy how well he was going (considering he’d just run 90 km!!).
As we approached the summit a massive crowd appeared to cheer him on, (people were cheering for me too, as they had mistaken me for a racer) I pulled right off the track to make clear that I was only there to watch, I saw a lot of fellow runners that I know in the crowd and stopped to talk with them. I was feeling pretty terrible, I thought about asking them for a ride to the finish, but too full of pride I didn’t ask for any help. I just shrugged it of and told them all I was going to get some pictures and I’d see them all at the finish. I'd been running for four hours now.
I was now only about 8 Km away from my car and decided to try running again. This made my brain hurt and my legs were begging for mercy but this was meant to be an “ultra” …it’s supposed to hurt.
Then a rouge honkey nut caught me unaware and I rolled my ankle so hard that I heard an audible “POP.” I fell forward in agony and lied very still for along time afraid to look at my throbbing ankle. In the fall I’d knocked my head on the ground and my vision had started to go funny.
“This is not ideal.” I thought and I eventually got to my feet.
Three more miles…the longest three of my life, my water had run dry. My ankle was sore, and my brain felt swollen in head. Finally a finish line approached and runners were coming in and basking in the glory of their achievement. They are all heroes. If you ever want to witness somthing special, hang out at an ultra finish line.
I sat down and talked to some fellow runners and passed on my congratulations
I'd been running for 6 hours...Felling ill, I headed home.
No sooner had I parked my car in the driveway then projectile vomit began to erupt violently from my mouth, my headache was now unbearable, and i was strating to shake...My next stop was the ER.
I got to Royal Perth Hospital in bad shape; I was taken in immediately and given an I.V. drip to rehydrate me and something else to take away my nausea. After a few hours I was released…I got home and had heart palpitations for the next week. My heart would beat, and then beat, and then stop……and then beat again. “Now you’ve done it” I thought to myself. Had I tried to run the entire Kep race like I wanted to…well, I’m not sure I would have been okay. My Heart was speaking to me and it's message was clear.
The end game is I need to take a break for awhile, fully recover from Ross River Virus (see previous post) and then reassess. It looks like my ultra days may be over…for now.
It was a huge wake up call, to have a heart scare. I have a lot to lose and I know I’m too stubborn to run a sensible 10 miles a week (total) like the doctors recommend. I’m an "all or nothing" kind of guy, always have been.
So, what now for this Blog? …Well, I thank you for reading for however long you’ve been following. I hope you’ve had a laugh or you’ve been inspired.
I wish you all well.