Tantalus Triple Trek: Race Report
Gathering at the start of the Tantalus Triple Trek (3x 10mile loops) on Saturday morning was slightly daunting because last year I’d dropped out of the same race due to IT band/ knee issues. I also knew this was going to be a real test of how the transition from marathon to ultra running was progressing. But it was reassuring to congregate with the familiar intrepid faces of the Oahu trail running crowd and turn our headlamps on for the 5:30am start. Any nerves were frazzled by smiles and laughs, especially when a kindly gent reminds you that headlamps are not the most effective when pointing at the sky… no comment.
Trek 1: Go! Purposefully setting out at a conservative pace I tried to settle into the first climb by making sure that my breathing rate never reached the level it might in a shorter run, such as it did in the Mango Madness race. But when I caught up to local runner Steve (aka @vo2_max), apparently he knew it was me from the noise I was making – yikes! But then again, if I sounded like Darth Vader, that’s music to my yogi ears. But more yoga later. So I ploughed on, grabbing watermelon at the aid station, catching a guy in a white shirt.
Trek 2: Let the mental battles begin. This was the first race for a while when my mind just ran amuck. And wow getting through trek 2 took some serious mediating, with myself. Amazingly the guy in the white shirt, John, turned out to be just the person I needed part way through a long steady climb which had turned into a debate over details such as ‘Why do my hamstrings feel like this?’ & ‘Have I been doing too much/ too little?’ etc. I think you know what I mean. John had caught up whilst I was internally wasting energy, and as he ran past I knew it was time to turn things around. It was then that I remembered a post from Instagram a couple of days prior, by @runemz. If you use Instagram, I highly recommend that you check out Emzs’ posts which detail her preparation for a 100mile treadmill run on September 19th for Effect International. When Emz is feeling low, Post-it notes on her training treadmill list people to think about – others to run for, rather than slipping further down the slope of self-pity. It’s a wise technique that nods to Buddhist teachings, Karma yoga and the practice of seva, selfless service. It’s good to be aware that you are in control of your thoughts and therefore can choose to act selflessly. And it works. I began to mentally list people to think about and before I knew it the aid station appeared with a beautiful tray of watermelon, and then it was on to the last section of trek 2.
Trek 3: Final trek. Hold on. By the start of the last loop, with a refilled CamelBak (thanks volunteers!) I was ahead of John and feeling back to normal, or whatever that might be when you’re at mile 20 of a 30mile race. The hamstrings by this point were resigned to the fact that they just had to keep going, and my legs actually seemed to take over. Thankfully this allowed my mind to simply focus on keeping up a routine of drinking every 10-15 minutes, and eating something small every half hour. One new addition to my pack for this event was a tube of homemade, taro based ‘goo’, with added honey & salt (all Hawaiian). It tasted good and was a starchy substance that my stomach could handle. The citrus nuun electrolyte drink in my Camelbak was also fantastic, as usual, and just seemed to taste better & better as the race went on! Funny how that happens. (Makes me think of the Oatmeal Cartoon shared by runner/ surfer Shawna, which is a must see: CLICK HERE.) The final half of trek 3 is a bit of a blur, but at the aid station for the last time the volunteers in pink tutus were a welcome sight – and I carried on for one more descent of the infamous Hogs Back, excusing myself past numerous day hikers whilst trying to tango stylishly with the roots and rocks… to finish.
Thanks Tantalus Triple Trek. Thanks HURT team. You showed me things I need to work on for the HURT 100, and oh, how that list is long. But it was a beautiful morning on the trails and I even stopped to snag a few strawberry guavas along the way. #luckywelivehawaii
Next up a post about running for Team Oiselle, and a review of another recipe for the Eating For The Long Run Project.
Happy Trails, Susie.