I flew out of Blenheim on the "flying pencil" on Saturday and met up with Terri and Phillip in Wellington. From here we drove up to Palmerston North and arrived in time for the AGM of the Race Walk committee. Pus it was a good meet and great with all of the walkers who had turned up.
We headed around to Sue's house were we settled down for the night. By now I was about to throw my cell phone out the window. It had fast become an expensive paper weight. I had been unable to send any texts or get onto the internet, so I was totally off the grid for the weekend.
I had the best sleep ... I am known to get so wound up before a race that I dont sleep at all but for some I had settle down and slept well. We got up early and had breakfast, it had been raining through the night and was still a little drizzly in the morning. It was so muggy and warm, even at 7am I was only in a tank top and shorts. We travelled to the course and I found out that it was on a 500m loop and I must admit at first not liking the idea at all. But on thinking about it, last year the Long Distance Walks were on a 500m loop (1 km laps) so it was nothing new really. We headed out and warmed up, it was I am told 90% humidity and about 13 degs at race start.
We were called over to the start and had to make room for Graham Jones who was the solo 50km walker and had started at 7am (2 hours earlier) The officials opened up the course to fit us all on. The only negative I have to say is that they asked for all the 10km Championship walkers to line up first...when they should have had the 20km and TT trial walkers as I ended up boxed in behind an older walker and two juniors who started way slower. The gun goes off and away we go, I am stuck behind slower walkers and unable to get around them for a good 20m then when I finally broke clear of them I was faced with the speed hump that they had opened up for us to go over (all of us were asked if we wanted it opened or closed for the first lap - and we opted to have it open to not make a bottle neck) So I still aimed for the side that was to be used in the race that was flat. I settled in behind Eric and wished I was able to keep up with him for the whole race.....(next year, that will be a goal) by now Graham Jones walked past me (at 2 hours in to his 50km he was still faster than me!!!)
My plan had been to do a quick couple of kms and then settle into my pace but I wanted to try hard not to go slower than 5:50 per km. I must say that I pretty much stuck to that too. I felt good and strong as I walked through 5km and on through to 10km. On my 10th km lap I was starting to feel light headed and I had been drinking each lap, but I had brought some gels and had set up a bowl on the drinks table (a first for me) so I asked the lady to pass me my gel as I came back past. The sachet was ok, taste was a little blarrkkk but it was STICKY and I end up with a very very sticky hand and chin. I was surprised at how quick it seemed to work as my legs picked up very quickly. I pressed on and again still felt good and strong at the 15km.
I knew I would be chasing Rosie and she was a good 5mins a head of me, but I had NO idea of what Leslie was capable of. So I kept an eye on the gap between us and by 10km I was pulling away by a good 10m each km so at the 15km mark I would guess Leslie was 2mins behind me.
My back had so far held together, I had no pain in my feet and was still feeling strong. I got to 16km and saw that my split was slower and so as I headed into the lap I decided that now was a good time to pick up the pace and start to push - and this was when the wheels feel off. I picked up my pace and within 50m of increasing my pace I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my right hip flexor and had trouble pulling my right leg through to make the next step. I slowed up instantly and took check of myself and realised I was limping badly. I looked ahead and saw I was coming into the next judges zone so pulled my self up tall with my core and pushed hard through my glute to get my leg to function. I managed to carry on but as I went through the turn I knew I was in trouble. The turns for todays race were right hand turns, and so as I put my right leg down and put my weight over it to step on, the pain was sharp and intense instantly. From this turn there was 100m to the start / finish mat and it was here I got my first and only caution. It was going through my mind to pull out but as I crossed the line I figured it was 3km to go and even if I slowed right down I would still hold on to 2nd and qualify. I was just worried re the judges. My pace dropped to 6.06 per km and I limped on ..... share grit and determination was the only thing that was going to get me through this. The bell sounded and it was one lap to go. I tried so hard to pick up my pace and I did managed to do so for a small section. I rounded the last corner and knew then it was only going to hurt for 100m more and I pushed as hard as I could and crossed the line with everyone cheering and calling out to help me keep going.
1:55:55 OMG, I even achieved a Pb too but most importantly...............I had made the auto selection for the NZ Team!!!!
Now I get 2 whole weeks off and in this time I am to start working on my right glutes but the best part of this time off...............I fly to Cairns tomorrow and get to send a week with my girls, josh and grand children................I just cant wait!
So thank you to my sponsor's Health 2000 Ltd, Sports Therapy and the best husband in the world - Shane.