By ioMerino Outsider Jess.
So, there I was standing at the start line for my first ever ultra-marathon. I had woken up earlier that morning and as predicted it was a full-on storm. Gale force winds, sideways rain and on the way down to the event even a hint of hail. Irrespective of the weather I was fully prepared for whatever this run was going to throw at me. I had packed every piece of ioMerino clothing that I owned and was ready to wear it all. Two days prior to the run, I saw the forecast and I called upon my friend Jon to find me a waterproof jacket. I was pretty confident that while my race kit wasn’t perfect, it was sufficient to get me through the race.
For this particular run I wore a sentimental favourite ioMerino Altitude tee. At the time, they hadn’t released their Newton arm warmers, so a tee was still a better option for me than a long sleeve top. This green tee was the first ioMerino top that I bought and I seem to always pull it out when doing something new. Other than the tee, my running kit contained the following extras including Clif blocks and bars.
Jon and I arrived at Foxfield Oval and were milling around chatting with a number of familiar faces before the start. I bumped into an old mate from school that was there cheering on his wife and before too long, we were waiting at the start chute ready to go. There was a nice break in the rain, so the rain jacket was packed snuggly into my vest and after a slow count down, we were off and running. The first 20km from Athlestone to Norton Summit was a real test. Having run training session, I knew that it was really important not to go out too hard, because in this first leg there was a huge amount of climbing. I was playing it safe and running along with Jon, probably a bit quicker than our training run, but still nothing ridiculous.
After re-fuelling at Mt. Lofty, I started pushing on towards Brown Hill and it was here that I hit the next hurdle. Just coming down from the Summit, I felt the little foam thingy that sits under your foot (technical name I think). Well whatever it is called, it was starting to slide forward and bunch up under my foot. I wriggled my toes a bit and continued to push on, but decided to stop and try to fix it up. I thought there would be nothing worse for me than running another 20kms with a messed up shoe. After a quick fix, I was back on the road for about another minute or so until it happened again. I fixed it and did this two or three more times, before pulling the bloody thing out, stuffing it in my vest and running without it. Again, the doubt of a novice runner was creeping in. I was wondering how long I might be able to carry on without the little foam thingy that sits under my foot. Turns out that this didn’t seem to be a massive issue.
From here on in it was all fairly smooth sailing. I really enjoyed the descent down the old freeway and over Brown Hill. For anyone else that ran across the top of Brown Hill, it was ridiculously windy. At one stage I stopped and walked across the top, not because I couldn’t run, but just because the headwind was so strong that I was pretty much going at walking pace anyway. I dropped down off of Brown Hill and made my way into Belair National Park. Just as I was really starting to fatigue, I bumped into a dude with a massively long beard (I now know was Ryley) and the bonus was, we were both struggling about the same. We had a bit of a chat and then he took off a bit further. At the time I thought he had a massive burst of energy, but what I later found out, all he was trying to do was burn me off a bit so he could quickly do an Instagram story without me in the background.
So, I made my way down into the park, went through Echo Tunnel and gave my wife a quick call just to let her know that I’d be at the finish line in a few minutes. As it turned out she was a little lost (this only happens to her a few times a day) and unfortunately she was still navigating the carpark when I got there. Regardless, I heard the cowbells in the distance and picked up the pace a little bit as I knew I was getting close. As this was my first ever ultramarathon and coincidentally my first actual marathon, the feeling of relief and elation when crossing the finish line was something I hadn’t felt before in a sporting sense. I was met at the finish line by some family and a few friends and actually felt in pretty reasonable shape.
So there I was, I had gone from a couch dweller to an ultra-marathoner in a little over twelve months (thirteen to be exact, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it). So what have I learnt…
- Preparation and training is everything (massive thanks to Jon for all of the advice and training runs).
- The right gear is a must (once my geographically challenged wife found the finish line she commented that “you don’t smell as bad as I thought you would.” – Credit to ioMerino for their brilliant running gear).
- If you’re in South Australia, you really need to try Trail Running SA events (the vollies are just the best).
- Don’t doubt yourself. Set a goal and bloody do it.
- The little foam thingy that sits under your foot is actually called an inner sole.