The long day is over and we are now sitting around a campfire, nursing our wounds and feeding our bellies, happy the day is over but wishing that the race was almost done!
All I can say is romance isn’t dead. From pooing, to peeing, to farting, to bum chafing, Stuart and I have now seen every horrible bit of each other…. and we’re still completely attached at the hip (sometimes literally!). Bottom line is that we had a FANTASTIC day yesterday, but it wasn’t without its ups and downs. This time, Stuart definitely carried me, rather than the other way around. The competitors were divided up in the morning into the slow group, which would start at 8:15, and the fast group, which would start at 9:00. To be honest, I have never been a part of the slow group, but I was quite happy to be this time around! We were bused out to the start line, which was right in front of a steep climb up a hill and some rock faces. The first stage was absolutely stunning. Jo (the South African now living in NZ whom we got lost with yesterday) set off blazing ahead with Christina from Bermuda, and Stuart and I fell in behind. It was a lot of sandy track to checkpoint 2, which was nice on the feet but definitely tough when the sand came in. The lack of gaiters was a bit of a problem, but it just meant we had to stop about 10-15 times throughout the course to dump the beach from our feet.
Breezed through checkpoint one and boldly headed to checkpoint two… It was hot and dry, but lots of water along the way. Everything was looking good. We were in good spirits and crossing our fingers we would finally have a good day! I think the fact that Stuart was able to eat a full dinner and breakfast really helped his energy levels, and I was relieved, to say the least. It is tough going through a hard time yourself, but perhaps tougher to see a partner go through it because there isn’t a lot you can do sometimes.
At around 30 km, that’s when things took a turn for me. Yes, the dreaded bum chafing. Arg. If you haven’t experienced it before, it has got to be one of the worst pains. I would rather fall on my hamburger knee multiple times than get bum chafing. It came on all of a sudden and I was crippled – tears streaming down my face, interrupted by the occasional “what the heck are we doing” laugh and a side of “this is ridiculous, get me the hell outta here” rant. No amount of lube seemed to help. I was practically bathing in vaseline and yet my bum was chafed to the point of bleeding! (Sorry if this is too much info – reality of ultrarunning!!). I finally decided we needed to cut the underwear out of my race spandex, so thanks to Stuart and a pair of scissors, I was soon “running free”. We took a great photo of me in tears holding my cut underwear in my hands, wearing now slightly see through pants. Hehehe…. pretty funny….
I was worried I might not actually be able to continue, but seriously, who drops out of a race due to bum chafing?!?! So Stuart loaded me up with pain killers scammed off of a chinese pharmacist in Hong Kong and soon enough we were flying again. Ooooooh pain killers. Best thing ever.
We kept trucking along and weren’t passed by the leaders (Salvador, Stefano aka the manimal and another italian) until the 4 hour mark, which gave us a confidence boost. We stayed firmly behind Jo and Christina, but ahead of the whole rest of the pack, which was amazing. The chafing kept coming and going in terms of PAAAAAIN, but I kept chewing the pills…. yes, I definitely over-medicated, but we both agreed kidney failure would be better than more bum chafing pain!!! At one point after the third round of drugs kicked in I hit a total high and the singing ensued…. I treated Stuart to a FULL rendition of Adele “someone like you” with my headphones in, meaning I REALLY couldn’t hear what I was singing at the top of my lungs. This is, unfortunately, on video as well, so you’ll all see it soon!!
Stuart was amazing. We trucked along over the sand, climbing a fair amount of hills, and counted the checkpoints down one by one. We went through some trails set in between two pink rock faces with forest in between… the colours were a bit of a shock to the senses (but in a good way!). Poor Stuart saw three snakes, which set his heart rate up around 200 beats per minute I think. Having grown up in Australia, he is primed to be deathly afraid of them and wow, I saw it!! Hehehe, he didn’t find it funny, but seeing him dance around screaming in a high pitched voice (mainly profanities) gave me a much-needed giggle. It was actually kinda serious at one point though as we pretty much jumped over a rattle snake right on the trail!!
Just before sunset we reached the sand dune stage. The dunes glowed in the light and the moon started to peak overhead – quite the sight. Stuart was flagging a little so I forced him to take a couple of gels and then HIS runner’s high set in. As I grumbled my way across the sand, he ran along all googly-eyed and smiley, taking photos of every identical sand pile that he could. It was a tough 5-7 km over the sand, particularly when it got dark… Our shoes would fill up with so much sand that our toenails felt like they would pop off due to the pressures… But we made it through. Just a few more checkpoints to go.
After that I think it was the forest/bramble bush maze, which was quite technical and slow-going in the dark. My knee bandage had fallen off around 55 km, so every time I ran through the high grass or passed a bush I winced in pain… but spirits were high. We were rocking it! Slow but steady. We took our time, took photos, dumped our shoes, took bathroom breaks, laughed, cried (okay just me), ate…. pushed ourselves but not so much so that we hated ourselves for it.
The last couple of kms Stuart hit the wall, but he made it to the end without barfing. And me without falling!! HUGE achievement!!!! What a great day.
Well, it is back to the campfire for me. Thanks for the messages and keep ’em coming!! I think I finished actually in second female yesterday, which is cool, but the important thing is that we had fun and we got through it together – again. Our collective stink is rising so the sleeping bag spooning in the tent may have to come to an end (ha)…. looking forward to Vegas very much. Wish it was tomorrow, but just a few more marathons and we’re there. (How ridiculous is that sentence….?!?)