LARISSA TICHON ran a brilliant sub 9 hour 100km in NZ last week. Read her race report.
It was definitely a long journey to this.
Most people knew this race as ‘the mystery race.’ I’ve found over the past few months the races I’ve done best in are those that are kept low key. It was a weekend warrior trip – a 7:30pm flight out on Friday from Sydney to Christchurch and arriving back in Sydney at 7:15am on Monday. NZ has a special sweet spot for me, having lived there for two years growing up as a child. It evokes a number of wonderful memories for me from rolling in dirty clothes baskets down our three flights of stairs with my brother to learning the emergency earthquake drill at crèche to my watching my dad catch a flying fox to work (I think this was my imagination as a two year old playing tricks on me!).
After a proper taper week rekindling my childhood passion of rollerblading to replace running, I arrive at the race start with my fundraising buddy Vajira who is attempting his first 100km. The race organisers warmly greet us in the cool crisp air of Christchurch. Before no time the gun goes off and we’re off! I love the freedom of running and not looking down at my watch so do the same for this race, trying to go ‘to feel’ and settle into a comfortable pace.
Q1 – ‘Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us cast aside every sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:1-2)
There are a couple of team runners and 50km runners so I try and not take notice of the other runners around me. I’m tuning out, listening to a selection of German techno and hymns feeling pretty bouncy! I’m eating natural confectionary snakes (4 per hour) and a selection of alkaline foods from the cheering volunteer table (chia pudding, mashed sweet potato and, my favourite, watermelon – apparently a scarcity in NZ bro!). Every lap I sip on some water as I run along in the sub 10 degree temperature drizzle in all but a singlet top, shorts and a pair of gloves.
I pass the marathon at 3h24min and am feeling pretty strong. As I pass Vajira, I adopt the persona of a ‘crew-that-you-talks-the-needed-facts-and-you-thank-greatly-for-after.’ Vajira is stretching and walking feeling the impact of his recent stint of weekly work travels and consequent halted training.
‘Remember every second counts! I know you’re in pain, I don’t want to hear your excuses. If you are going to walk you’d better walk with purpose!’ I tell him as I ran past him walking.
I pass the 50km mark at your second best time of 4h10. A bit faster than I would have liked but that gives me a buffer for your sub 9 hour target. I treat myself to a quick stretch and bathroom break and continue on feeling much heavier in the legs…
This quarter of your race is where all the complications arise. Think of the worse thing that could happen to a female when running, think of that feeling when you have built up lactic acid in your legs and your body just doesn’t want to co-operate, think of a cold wet singlet top with no spare change of clothes and you run through sub 10 degree temperatures. It is very rare for an ultra to not have some form of complication. I know the most important thing is to keep moving, even if a bit of walking, it’s walking with purpose. As I run I just keep wanting to walk. I’m looking around for differing means to get my energy back from using my speed-eating-sauerkraut skills to quickly ingest some custard and stewed apple to taking my wet singlet top off to run in my crop top to cheering on other very strong girls running loops with me.
Q4 – “those who hope upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall soar on wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary and they shall walk and not be faint”
As you pass through 75km, the announcer yells out:
“Here’s Larissa who at her current pace is scheduled to finish the race in 9 hours. Hopefully she can finish in less than 9 hours.”
You sure didn’t come to Christchurch to do anything other than that. Changing your music to your home stretch ‘Keep on ravin’ baby’ happy hardcore tune, you pick up the cadence and charge off into afternoon. Vajira has decided to stop at the marathon and is now handing you food and water as you pass by each lap. You are very thankful for this but also make a note to have a debrief with Vajira afterwards on lessons learnt and how to better prepare for upcoming races.
It is just a whoosh of focused running in your Zen, utterly grateful for the volunteers and your now-support crew.
You cross the finish in well under your 9 hour target at 8h54min27sec and notice your watch is showing 99.6km so run an extra 400m to cater your maths persona, even though you know the course is accurately measured and GPS signals are sometimes slightly off in loop races. Super cold in just your crop top and shorts, you hug the winner, snap a few photos and get multiple layers and blankets over you, gleefully getting in touch with Jerel straight away to share your excitement.
Thanks Sean and Warren for all your speed training – it helped immensely in bouncing back from the Q3 lull!