Monday, July 22, 2013

Madness Triumphs (aka Solo NZ Running Camp Pt. 9)

I accidentally ran a marathon the day of Brett and Hollis' wedding. Yes, such a thing is possible.

The morning dawns warm, calm, and clear. I haven't run a whole lot the previous 2 days (12 and 10), and I am kind of itching for a big one. The festivities don't start until 5pm, so I have allllllll day to get myself into trouble. And how...

I am sorely in need of breakfast, coffee, and email, and taking care of those, along with some general route-finding for a run, pushes me 'til nearly noon before I lace up and get underway. I am looking for a ~20mi-ish run, figuring that will be a good way to cap off the previous 9 days of destruction. I know I'll need something to eat, but the best I can do is a bag of sour gummi worms from the market, whom (?) I de-bag and stuff wholesale into the little pocket in my water bottle. I'm already channeling that line from Ferris Bueller (2:43 if the link doesn't take you there).

I figure I'll head over toward Le Bons Bay, snag a nice view of the open ocean from up above, and head home. Once again, I climb up and out of Akaroa, winding through farmland as my view of the harbor grows and grows. The road goes up and up and up. And up. Uh oh.

Akaroa from waaaaay above

Turns out that the climb is a little over 2100' in 3 miles. That hurts A LOT. But hey, I've got sour gummi worms to dull the pain! The road along the top goes up and down and up and down, and that roller coaster is a very welcome reprieve from the horrific climb. When I finally get a view of Le Bons Bay (stunning), I'm rather looking forward to not going the whole way there. When the road leaves the ridgeline and pitches down, its steepness immediately takes a toll; I'm working hard just to keep my legs underneath me. I suppose running down this road in search of a ~20mi run is my first mistake (OK, second; leaving at noon would be the first), and it directly contributes to my next mistake: trusting the nice lady.

As I've seen no water source in ten and a half miles, the little trinket shop in the historic library alongside the road seems like a good bet; the day is now blistering hot at >90deg and, while I've been conserving water, I will eventually need more if my goal is making it home alive, which it is. I stop and chat to the woman running the shop, and she's super friendly. She asks if I've come up from the beach, and she raises an eyebrow when I tell her that I've come from Akaroa. I infer that this is not a normal occurrence.

She says "well if you've come that far, you really ought to see the beach. It's only 2k down the road and it's amazing!" As she's a local, I have every reason to believe her, and hey, what's another mile each way? I refill my water, tell her I'll be back for more, and set out towards the beach and further away from home. My internal distance-meter may not be great, but I know about when a mile's gone by, and there ain't no beach. By now, I'm fairly committed to seeing this bloody thing, so I march on. Subsequent research has indicated that she was only off by a factor of 2 or so:

2k my ass

I arrive at the beach, pull my GPS out of my pocket, and dejectedly eat a gummi worm while I stare at the numbers "13.1" on the screen.

Well, fuck.

Gonna be a long day.

OMFG, aka Le Bons Bay

So in all fairness, the beach is stunning, and I'm super glad to have seen it. But as badly as I want to dive in and douse myself in freezing radness, this ain't my first rodeo, and running half a marathon home covered in gritty dried salt water sounds considerably less pleasant than running half a marathon home already does. So I call upon every last ounce of restraint, turn my back on the ocean, and point myself towards Akaroa.

Home is somewhere this way

The curious thing about starting and ending a run at the ocean is that the climbing to get home is as much as the climbing to get to the turnaround. After a brief stop back at the trinket shop for more water, I begin the slog up this godawful 2100' climb to the ridge road. The day has proven to be baking hot and totally windless, and the landscape is filled with that particular sound of buzzing critters that strongly invokes buzzards picking away at dried carcasses. Like mine.

If I could bottle this special flavor of misery, I'd be a tycoon.

I'm now milling through water, and any hope of conservation ended about 15 degrees and 5 miles ago. At the top of the climb, I flag down a tourist car and beg for water. Knowing that the big climb is out of the way, I feel good about actually making it home, but it's not in the bag yet, even though I can see Akaroa.

Home in sight

Upon reaching the end of the road up top, I stop another tourist, beg for water again, eat my last gummi worm (breakfast of champions), and take a deep breath. Because the 2100' and 3-mile climb to get up here earlier is now a 2100' descent over the same 3 miles. Oh good lord. Within a mile, E-V-E-R-Y-thing starts seizing, and it's not pretty. The toll has been taken, and every stride downhill is accompanied by unrepentant screaming from all available nerve endings.

"Now imagine your pain is a white ball of healing light." If my power animal was a penguin, it would have melted and perished hours earlier.

When I reach the bottom of the descent and begin the last ~mile back to Akaroa, I'm reduced to a rather unattractive hobble. It takes everything I've got to run the last 50m to the house, and my sense of humor has decidedly seen better days. I'm a total shambles. And surprise, the bus to the wedding leaves in just under an hour. YAY!

Lest you think I'm kidding

I rapidly prioritize the requisite tasks to get me to the wedding. In order:
1) Ice cold beer
2) Big glass of water
3) Ice cold Red Bull
4) Hobble upstairs to get towel
5) Hobble downstairs backwards to shower
6) Hobble back upstairs to get dressed
7) Hobble downstairs backwards again to leave house
8) Beg for ride to bus pickup (about 1/4 mile away)

The wedding is lovely, albeit in the beating sun. Afterwards, I drink a prodigious amount of alcohol and remain strangely sober. My body seems to be converting everything to Repair Calories, and the booze kills the pain, so let's call that a win-win.

While I don't yet know it, this glorious destructo-run will cap off my impromptu running camp, totaling 148 miles over 10 days. Woohoo!


1 comment:

ethelm said...

You are not right in the head! :-P

Past Detritus