𝗪𝗘 𝗔𝗥𝗘 𝗔𝗟𝗟 𝗢𝗡𝗟𝗬 𝗛𝗨𝗠𝗔𝗡
– CUSHLA HOLDAWAY
– TEAM CP DIETITIAN
You know those races where everything comes together, you feel awesome, and you know that you gave it everything you are capable of? Well, that definitely wasn’t me at the recent Mt Oxford Odyssey. (Mt Oxford Odyssey)
This is the first time I have taken part in this event; however, I was tail end Charlie for the 33km course last year, and have had a few social missions up the climb. This was by no means a ‘key’ race for me, I was just excited to have an 𝗮𝘄𝗲𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗹𝗼𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗱 and entered on a bit of a whim, needless to say, training leading up wasn’t super specific and I was probably a bit undercooked.
What happened? Well, nothing in particular, I didn’t fall and break my leg, or have tummy troubles. It simply just wasn’t my day. I woke up feeling pretty good, enjoyed my breaky, and finished getting my gear ready before making the journey over to the event. I saw a few friends whilst grabbing my race pack, listened to the briefing and felt pretty ready to go.
𝗥𝗲𝗳𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗯𝗲 𝗮 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗼𝗼𝗹. Looking back, I wasn’t even nervous on the start line which is unusual for me, maybe it’s a sign I was too relaxed, I mean this event was just for ‘fun’ right? As you are about to find out, I think defining this run for me as ‘fun’ would be a bit of a push. Once we got underway, I realised my headtorch sucked (great) and was getting low on battery. Did I pack spares? No. I could hardly see a thing so was trying to use the light of those behind me, not easy on a muddy climb up a mountain. It wasn’t long until some daylight helped and I could see where I was actually putting my feet. Up we went, the never-ending climb that only gets steeper as you go. I forgot how much climbing there was and started to have regrets. Why did I enter this again? I felt like I had nothing to give, and the harder I found it the stronger the wind belted us, the more sideways the rain got and the colder I started to feel. Begrudgingly I stopped to get my thermal out (I hate wasting time in events) and then five mins later had to stop again to then find my rain jacket. We finally got to the summit running sideways into the howling wind. By this point I was questioning if I had anything to give to actually finish the 33km, I just felt empty. Should I go back down? Am I actually going to finish? Are my legs going to give away? I had already consumed the limited Tailwind I packed for the ascent but planned to refuel at the 13km aid station. I stuck to my 20-min carb strategy and continued on, pulling it back to basics and trying to focus on anything else besides my increasingly negative mindset. I kept feeling worse. This was so unlike me, I felt like I had no mental grit and I was struggling to enjoy what I love so much.
Coming off the descent I came to some marshals where I realised was the turning point for the half marathon runners to go or the 33km to continue on. I was getting a bit desperate and asked if I could please change from the 33km to the half. By this point it was that or DNF and there was no way I was not going to complete some form of the event. They said it was fine and they would radio it through (phew). This improved my mind-set a little, but I still had about 12km of trails to battle through. I then realised with the change in my course I would now have no aid station and I was SO INCREDIBLY THIRSTY. Big mistake there. I was so thirsty it got distracting. You know, where all you can think about is a nice cold drink? This then affected my fuelling as I struggled to want to eat, I just so desperately wanted fluids. This is a great example of why I say as a Sports Dietitian a race plan can look great on paper, but racing can be unpredictable and it’s important to know how to tackle unexpected obstacles that come your way to try and be consistent with fuelling as best you can. Although my fuelling was now sub-optimal, I did my best to keep it consistent, listening to my own advice.
What’s hilarious now (but was very embarrassing at the time) is because the 33km runners started at 7am, and the half marathon started at 8am, I was now literally miles ahead of everyone, even the top men. I came to this realisation when no one had yet passed me and I started to panic that everyone will think I’d won by miles when it was quite the opposite. Surely the marshals radioed it through to the start line and they will be aware that I had changed courses, right? On and on I jogged/crawled, where every km literally felt like 10km and every time you look at your watch you can’t believe more time/distance hasn’t passed. I started to pass the 15km runners who were heading out on their loop, all cheering me on with awesome spirits, but embarrassingly thinking I was absolutely smashing the course time when I was actually just feeling pretty sorry for myself. I just smiled politely and cheered them on in return.
As I was running down the finish line, I could hear over the speakers shouting out what an incredible time I’d done, first female home etc. etc. Crossing the finish line, I cracked up laughing and tried to explain to the cheering spectators that I had only done the half, definitely not an amazing time or run, please don’t congratulate me (so embarrassing but also kind of funny). Laughing with everyone else and at myself I soon felt better and was just relieved to have finished. It was so nice to have some fellow 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗖𝗣 𝗰𝗿𝗲𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗹𝘆 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 and a bit of a debrief.
𝗠𝘆 𝗸𝗲𝘆 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀:
– Finishing in any shape or form will always feel better than giving up.
– Get a better head torch!!
– Ladies, always take into account where you’re at in your cycle and don’t be too hard on yourself. I’m not using it as an excuse but it definitely affected me on this day.
– It’s ok to not have a good day, the bad days make us appreciate the good.
– It’s important to be able to laugh at yourself, don’t take yourself too seriously.
– Put your rain jacket on before you get too cold.
– Get more vert in if you want to get better at vert.
– Trail shoes are probably better if they don’t have holes in the side.
I think it’s 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗱𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝗮𝗹𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝗴𝗼 𝘄𝗲𝗹𝗹, especially in the age of social media where all we seem to see is people’s highlights reel on Instagram. This is my𝗵𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗰𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 and having a pretty average run.
The 𝗠𝘁 𝗢𝘅𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗱 𝗢𝗱𝘆𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘆 𝗶𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘄𝗲𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁 run by equally awesome people. The course is tough and a good challenge for everyone. The 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗿𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗳𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗰and was likely amplified by the fact everyone was so excited to be out at an event again. I am so grateful for the effort that went into this event. However, regardless of the event, some days with running it is just not our day, and that’s ok, 𝘄𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻.
Thank you to Kerry and the team for hosting yet another fab event, I will be back