Mont Blanc 80 km

Marathon du Mont Blanc 80 kmWhen I last wrote I was sitting on the plane on my way to Chamonix, very unsure and a little terrified of whether it was a good idea to being running this race because I didn’t feel the ‘itch’ to race and it had been a long recovery after some other big races.

Now I am sitting on the plane, heading away from Chamonix with even tireder legs but a full heart of happiness and a renewed sense of self belief but also appreciation for everyone in the running community. 1 week and 1 race can change so much.

The race was a rollercoaster; both in elevation but also in feelings and emotions. I respected this terrain and this distance, I knew 20 km of the race course being the first last climb and descent and when I finished the first climb in the very early hours of the morning with the sun rising over Mont Blanc I looked over the valley and imagined doing the only other bit I knew that laid ahead—a point at which seemed so far away now but once I was there I knew I could make it.

Marathon du Mont Blanc 80 kmI ran smart. This is something I rarely get to say. I knew it was going to be hot, I knew I was going to be stronger on the climbing then the descents and I knew that I couldn’t go out hard in this terrain. I kept within myself: I took the time at the fountains to keep cool, drink and refill all my water and when my stomach refused food I assured myself that I had time to change.

“Control only the things you can” is something I was told going into this race. The weather, the terrain, the competition were things I couldn’t control, so I accepted them for what they were, embraced them and smiled at these challenges. The things I could control however: eating, drinking, gear and mindset were things that I could control and I made sure to do everything I could to get these things right.

Marathon du Mont Blanc 80 kmI had a great battle to the finish with Landie Greyling and Ekaterina Mityaeva, we were 2nd-4th on that
final climb that I had imagined 12-hour prior. Passing Landie was like leaving my sister behind, with both of us in the Salomon family and knowing how much this race meant to her and also hearing the whole day about how strong she was running. Catching up to Ekaterina at the last aid station was mixed feelings, I had accepted 3rd and now I had the chance to go for a place higher on the podium and to say I used every piece of energy to make that place higher would be an understatement. On the final descent, I felt my toe nails being pulled off, I had my quad beginning to cramp and I ran into the street of Chamonix with Emelie
Forsberg on her bike telling me to run the fasted mile I can to that finish line. It was a moment I will never forget.

I saw this race when I came to Chamonix for the first time in 2014 with the Australia/New Zealand team for the skyrunning world championships and watching Ben Duffus, Blake Hose and Caine finish in the top 10 running through Chamonix with nothing left after that final step over the finish line. Finally, I was old enough to race and raced I did. Another dream achieved.

What’s next? #timetorest … before I begin to train for the big dance of the TDS 125km.

Race Gear

  • Salomon S-Lab sense Ultra shoe
  • Le Bent ‘Le Definitive run micro’ sock
  • Salomon S-Lab sense tank
  • Salomon S-Lab light skirt
  • Salomon S-Lab Modular belt
  • Salomon S-Lab brief
  • Salomon S-Lab sense ultra 8 set pack
  • SKIN SLICK- anti chafe

Race Nutrition

  • CLIFBAR gels (chocolate, citrus, razz)
  • CLIFBAR shotbloks (margarita, black cherry, tropical)
  • PRECISION HYDRATION (4 x 1500 strength electrolyte mix)
  • COKE 1L… gross I know

The game of racing

UTA 100 kmI am currently sitting on a plane to Chamonix, France and thinking about what is ahead with the Mont Blanc 80 km race being held on June 23rd. It makes me nervous. Not because of the distance, the time that past results predict or the course. Because I don’t know if I am ready to go again.

After Ultra Trail Australia 100 km I rested. For the first time in I believe 3 years I took 2 weeks of hardly a step where two feet were off the ground; I swam and I cycled but more so just to get to the supermarket or to meet up with friends. I gave my body rest after what was a big race for me and well… 100km is a long way, this should have felt right. But for some days after the race it felt so wrong.

I was in good shape, I had just had the race of my life and here I was doubting whether I deserved 2 weeks of resting, eating and generally being a normal teenager—how outrageous.

Reunion Island ChampionshipsMy mind continued to look forward and plan the races and travel that awaited me. First, the French university championship race on Reunion Island. Here, I had to let go of expectation and use the race as a welcome back to running, waking the legs and lungs back up and I was happy to do this. I embraced this change of pace and self-expectations and chose to ignore any external pressures I knew were out there. I loved this week on Reunion and I finished the race having given my best with what my body was able to (6th) but still felt tired and not in shape at all. My first thought was “how could I lose everything I worked so hard to build up for so long, so quickly. I don’t deserve anymore rest. I need to train”. This is crazy talk. I know it, but I am also honest about my feelings and I know that I am not alone for these emotions.

I have run 5 other 100 km events prior to this race and I have always bounced back so quickly and always kicking to get a bib back on to go again, this time it was different (maybe now I am 21 it’s not the same ha-ha). I understand that the competition is stronger, the training has been tougher, I choose this to be my life and I gave it the respect that this decision deserves. I am proud of what I can do, how I do it but I don’t feel pleased with this need to consistently keep pushing. Starting at 15 years old running, I always believed the sky is the limit and since then I have floated my way up always improving and getting faster and stronger but I think now it’s time to stop pushing up and instead look back down to earth and where I began, soar at this altitude and enjoy the view.

Mont Blanc 80 km was a big goal for me. For 2 years I have run the Mont Blanc marathon and now I am finally old enough to compete in the 80 km. It’s disappointing to be sitting on the plane not ready to go. Of course, I will enjoy it, I will run as hard as my body will allow and of course I will smile because I am so lucky to be in this position. However, I think that this is where the potential to lose the love of running, to only have a short term running life and the risk of injury can become dangerous. This is why I am writing this down, accepting the truth, recognizing these feelings and just enjoying the ride believing that my body will tell me when it is time to go again.

I can’t wait to return to Chamonix and to feel this mountain energy and to share it with you all!

Time to play!