A few months ago I made a decision to do something that excites…and scares me. After quietly contemplating the idea for a few weeks, doing a bit of research and speaking to a few people about it, I finally decided to take the plunge. The decision? To enter the Tarawera Ultramarathon.
Yep, an ultra. A distance longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.2 km (26.2 miles). In the Tarawera race, there are three options: 00km, 85km and 60km. For my first, I decided to play it safe, and smart, and go for the 60km option. Still crazy, still insanely long, and still rather scary.
Even after taking the plunge, registering online, paying my entry and even posting an update on my Facebook about this insane goal, my entry still didn’t feel 100% real. It still felt so far away, with so many opportunities to back out, so it hadn’t completely sunk in. So of course, with a new goal, and a new hobby, I had to go shopping! I felt completely unprepared for what trail running was going to bring – what do I wear what do I eat what do I bring how do I do it!?!? However, I soon stopped freaking out and purchased some ultra essentials:
- An Ultimate Direction hydration pack – I bought the ‘Ultra Vesta‘ pack, designed by Jenny Jurek (wife of vegan ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek), designed specifically for running and for women, and it had numerous good reviews online
- A really good running rain jacket – this decision took FOREVER to make, and I ended up going for the more stylish and perhaps less practical choice, being a Lululemon jacket…it still cost over $200…and to be honest was one of the best items of clothing I have ever bought!!!
- Trail running shoes – yes, not hybrids, but complete trail shoes, shoes that should not be worn on the road. Another $200 but a necessary investment – again after talking to numerous people, lots of online research and visiting stores, I purchased the Brooks Cascadia from my friend Anna at Shoe Clinic – they are so comfortable and stable and provide so much support to my feet, I love them! They also have an awesome hot pink color underneath…
Gosh who would have thought that running a trail ultra-marathon would be so expensive! The funny thing that even after spending about $500 on the above, it still didn’t sink in that ‘Ok you are running 60km, you are actually doing this.’ Because I wore my Lulu jacket running normally, I used my hydration pack while hiking in South Africa and my trail shoes I wore them in and got them muddy doing normal trail runs with the WoRM group. However, things have now got very real.
The race is just three months away. How did that happen! In three months today I will have finished a 60km race, I will be tired and aching and probably have a beer in my hand, being looked after by my supportive partner and other friends who are going to make the trip up that weekend. I expect I will experience a range of emotions, not just after the run but also beforehand and during, and need to start training myself emotionally to harden up and thrive off pain and despair (how uplifting!). But I also need to start doing some serious training. Luckily, I have a three month training plan all set up, starting tomorrow. It is a bit daunting, looking at what the next three months will bring. The gym and the trails are going to be my new home, and I am going to have to explore some new trails and get used to training no matter what the weather. But it is three months to ultra – this training plan and the lead up to the ultra is just what I needed for it to set in. I am doing this – I am actually doing this.
And if at any point denial starts to set in, all I have to do is go to the 2016 Starters Page…where my name is listed. How cool is that? A race where my name features on their website! You can scroll through and see who else has entered, what countries people are traveling from, and how many people have entered the various distances. It makes me feel much less alone.