Tri Run Coach NZ

Day 3 – Ultraman Australia with more Uncharted Territory (Double Marathon)

Tri Training NZ
Startline selfie with Coach Ray

Hi Team

Firstly apologies for the delay in this article.  As you can imagine once back at the apartment I slowly got my spent body into bed after a shower.

So how did it all go.?

I woke with a sore ankle from all the hill work on the bike.  It had been a slight niggle from the outset so Ray was sorting it with a sports massage.  It was okay once I walked around on it, but something I was conscious of with what lay ahead.

Once the team was up and about we headed to the start line.  Ray checked me in and left me to get some final hydration in.  With a few minutes to go the Race Director gave us all hugs and spoke a few words to each of us individually, then as a group.  There were many comments of people saying after that bike course, they don’t want to even look at their bike again.

Tri Training NZ
ANZAC Camaraderie with Dave Carroll from the Australian Defence Force

The double Marathon got underway and the plan was for the support crew to meet up with us once they picked the best place to park up.  Coach / Team Captain Ray filmed the start then had to run to catch up with me on the course shortly afterwards.

Ray’s instructions were very clear to get me through this uncharted territory, as I had only ran a distance of 46 kms previously.  This was in training at Easter in the heat of the Hawkes Bay.

It was a simple plan of run for nine minutes, walk for one minute throughout and between 6:00 to 6:30 minutes per km. My Garmin was set up for alerts for both, plus I would be drinking Gatorade at the start of the 1 minute walk and at the end of it before I switched to run mode again.

It was dark when I started so nice and cool.  Once the sun came up the sunrise was beautiful, particularly along the beaches.  A couple of hours into it I noticed I was running over the 6:30 pace but staying under 7:00.  I was happy as I had worked out previously that I could power-walk at 8:34 and get in with no fudge time up my sleeve.

UltraMan Coaching
Scott pacing me during the double marathon

The crew had their own pacing plan of switching around the person running with me every 30 minutes and that worked extremely well for them.

I made it to the completion of the first marathon in sub 5 hours, but once I turned around to head back my legs became heavy.

My Garmin was telling me I was doing over 7:00 minutes per km.  At one stage when running with Derrick we missed the turn.  Someone had pinched the direction sign and I learned that we weren’t the only ones to miss it.  This meant we had to turn back.  It only cost us about 100 metres, but it razzled me.

At this point Ray spoke to me with confidence and added flat Coke to my diet and a sticky donut, which went down extremely well.  Throughout the whole course I was fed honey sandwiches, boiled eggs, banana’s, the odd Gel, snake lollies and a sausage roll.

Once the heat came up, another athlete’s support crew ran over and wrapped a towel soaked in ice water around my neck. My crew had been pouring ice water down my back and over my head which felt brilliant.

We were blessed with Simon and Debs Pohatu turning up about mid-morning and following us to provide support.  It was absolutely awesome.

I have a history of calf strains and are well aware of the tell-tale signs. Once the first half marathon was completed I added a second calf compression sleeve to my left leg and then from about 25 kms I would occasionally ask the support vehicle to bring me ice and shove it down my calf sleeve.  They would whip my running cap off and place some ice under it returning it to my head.  Initially I was sitting in a fold-out chair, but as the race progressed I chose to lean against the vehicle or a fence.  The chair was becoming increasingly harder to get out of.

The hill section were killers.  I still ran, but it was slow work and going down hill was disagreeing with my knees.

I had already met the first time checkpoint of 6 hours for the first marathon and rolled into the 63 km point of a marathon and a half well within the 9 hour cut off.

Around the 70 km mark I hit the dreaded brick wall.  I simply had no option but to continue with the run / walk plan.  My support crew were great.  Flat Coke and various food items became more frequent.

The last 10 to 15 kms to go was really hard.  My brain was signalling my legs to go faster.  My legs were saying “whatever”.   I was doing over 8:00 minute kms by now and over 9:00 minute kms when tackling hills.

I had entered a dark space and Rob Hoult’s Facebook message kept running through my mind “when in pain, just enjoy it” or something like that.  I kept singing to myself one of our team theme songs for the event from The Hollies “The Road is Long”.

I was starting to take note of my Garmin.  That was a mistake.  I could have sworn it was broken as the kilometres weren’t ticking away.  However it wasn’t broken.  This was just hard work.

A Singaporean athlete and I had starting playing cat and mouse.  He would sprint (well run faster than me) ahead and then completely stop without walking.  I would catch him again.  Then it would be repeated all over again.   His support crew were great offering me support each time they went past.

I eventually worked out I only had a RFL (Army Fitness Test) to go.  I said to Ray, “Don’t you dare set your stopwatch for this time”.  He said “too late”.  It was probably the most words he got out of me for the last 10 kms.  I had been chatting with the crew for the first marathon and a half, but now I was down to one word responses and only when they did the talking.

Tri Run Coach NZ
All the UltraMan Australia finishers at the finish line

At the Sheraton Hotel we turned into their area and had to try and get down a small flight of steps. My knees were screaming at this stage.  I was informed that there was only one kilometre to go.  At my first Ironman in 2012 I remembered jumping with joy realising I was going to do this.  This time I managed a smile and that was about it.

That last kilometre took the athletes out to the beach where we went  close to the surf to get hard sand, but there was hardly any there.  So that last 500 metres on soft sand was hard work, but I didn’t care as we could see the finish chute.

Sunbathers were watching us wondering who all these teams were coming in.  At this point I wanted my support crew with me as it was ‘our’ finish not mine.  I could hear Steve King giving a running commentary on us as we approached with the support team holding up the NZ Flag behind me.  I crossed the line with over an hour to spare and I hugged the Race Director.   I was spent – absolutely broken and could feel the emotions.

Marathon Training NZ
Feet post-event (yes that is a piece of skin hanging down)

We did the 22 press-ups or rather the support crew did while I counted and challenged the Army hierarchy back home that they were next. The 22 press-ups is becoming a global internet challenge.

Next I went into the massage area.  It was comical to watch me sit on the table let alone lay on it.

I ate a sausage roll with the sponsors coconut milk.  My support crew removed my running shoes and calf sleeves. My left foot looked ghastly. I had a wet running shoe for the second marathon from all the water poured over me and the skin was peeling off.  I couldn’t feel it and was laughing as I wanted photos of the state of my feet.

Dave Oliver, the other Kiwi entrant who came 6th overall, came to find me with his support crew to congratulate me.  They were awesome.  I was informed I came 25th overall.  That created a beaming smile.  I wouldn’t of cared if I came last.  Finishing was winning. It was all about completing not competing.

We had steak, prawns and chips for dinner.  I couldn’t eat it all so took a doggy-bag home as I knew I would devour it during the night.

Once home Derrick had to help me climb the 16 stairs to our apartment.  It wasn’t so much muscle fatigue.  My knees kept locking up.  Into the shower then into bed just after 7:30pm and I was out for the count.

Thank you everyone for your support with messages throughout the day.  My crew read these out to me or wrote them on the road with chalk.  As I ran past the messages, it truly lifted me, as did the attendance of Simon and Debs Pohatu and my support crew.  Without my support crew, there is no way I would have made the finish line in the time cut off.

Regards John Humphries (UltraHumps)!

Day One 10km Swim 3:53:02 29th place
145km Bike 5:27:17
Overall 9:20:19 25th place
Day Two 275km Bike 10:06:44
Overall 19:27:03 21st place
Day Three 84.4km Run 10:52:44 29th place
Overall 30:19:47 23rd place

UltraMan Training
The sun goes down on our UltraMan adventure

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