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#124 : Matt Scrafton

How a first timer cracked a 100km ultramarathon

This week Lisa interviews one of her athletes from our Running Hot Coaching Tribe, Matt Scrafton. Matt joined Running Hot with the goal to run a 100km trail race at Taupo in New Zealand. 

Previously he had successfully run a couple of 50km events and really wanted to push himself but as a Dad, husband and having a full on career he wanted to do this challenge without breaking himself.
Matt shares his triumphs and struggles on his road to 100km glory in this no holds barred honest and raw account of what it takes to run 100km when you have a full on life and you don't have the luxury of being a full time athlete or having all the talent of a Scott Jurek or Dean Karnazes.
Many will relate and find inspiration in this story. 
Matt describes himself as “An incurable dreamer. An unapologetic introvert. A Husband and father. Just a guy who loves life and running long distances.
Since moving to New Zealand 14 years ago, Matt has swapped the rugby boots for endurance sport. He’s completed Coast to Coast, cycling round Taupo and and a few ultra races.”
You can follow Matt on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/mattscrafton/

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Transcript of interview:

Speaker 1: (00:01)
Welcome to pushing the limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host, Lisa Tamati brought to you by LisaTamati.com.

Speaker 2: (00:14)
Well, hi everybody. Lisa Tamati here at pushing the limits. Fantastic to have you back again. I really appreciate your naughty checking in on the show every week. Today. We've got a little something special for you. I've got actually one of our athletes it running hot coaching has agreed to come on and share his story. So it's a little bit of a debrief, a little bit of a coaching call. Hopefully you guys will pick up some gems of wisdom. We're gonna, she's gonna. She has insights and the journey that he went all to get to a hundred K, which was his ultimate race recently. So welcome to the show Matt Scrafton how are you? Morning, I'm good. How are you? Very, very good. So I met his sitting in Wellington. You got to sunny day down there.

Speaker 3: (00:56)
Yeah, it's beautiful and it's, there's no wind for once. So yeah, really nice.

Speaker 2: (01:01)
That's unusual. So I met let's step back at the beginning. So tell us a little bit about yourself, where you come from and then we'll get into the running side of it.

Speaker 3: (01:13)
Alrighty, Um so I'm British. And I've be, I moved to New Zealand in 2005 where I met my now wife. So I grew up in, in the UK and political Brighton by the sea. And we live in the mighty Waikato in Cambridge and we've been all over the place. You know, Alton, Wellington, Melbourne, but Cambridge is home and some my wife and I have a baby girl, Darcy's four, and we have a crazy eight months old poodle, Daisy. So life is pretty full. But yeah, no, I've been, I'm, I found running probably about six or seven years ago. I've been doing endurance sports or Madi sports, probably longer. But as time went on, it got harder to balance all three disciplines. And then I decided that I really wanted to do something that had an endurance element to it and trail running or running was the easiest, you know, put on your shoes, get out the door and go.

Speaker 3: (02:07)
So yeah, so I got into sort of trail running proper about six or seven years ago and set myself the goal as I kind of do with, with life of, of running a 50. And and we were living in Melbourne at the time and the North face 50 was a, an annual event in may of each year around the blue mountains. It's just outside of Sydney. Gorgeous rice. Yeah. And so I spent probably about a year building up for that with a few feeder events. But the big goal of running the 50 yeah. And did that eight hours, 39. And that was really tough. It was quite a hard race. But yeah, I was surprised that what I now understand to be that mental state that you there are so important to an athlete. That went, that race went really well mentally for me.

Speaker 3: (03:02)
So I thought, yep, this is definitely not a one off. So a couple of months later, Darcy arrived and, and life changed. So took a while. Yeah. Yeah. It took a while to find that, that rhythm. We moved back to New Zealand and I then locked in the terror wearer this year, actually, 2019 and so spent it about, you know, another year building up for that. But I was kind of, yeah, so doing the, I'm doing the 50, I did have aspirations to run further, but my wife said, no, no, get another 50 under your belt before you, before you go further. You know, that it definitely wasn't a one off. So yeah, spent about a year building up for the 50 and did that in I think it's February of this year. So came home in about seven hours and yeah, it was just a really hot day.

Speaker 3: (03:55)
And I thought there's no way I'm running and as our ultra in the middle of summer, it's just crazy times. Which probably discounts the marathon disabler but there we go. But the it was, it was pretty cool race fantastic atmosphere and some really great support crew and aid station folk that rock up and make it a really memorable day. And then I woke up, I got home, woke up the next day and I had this, this kind of overwhelming feeling that it wasn't, you know, it wasn't a sense of mission accomplished. I had done that, but there was more. And I didn't quite know what it looked like. So before everyone else got up, I was looking online for big events or things to do, you know, huge running goals to chase and telco was on in October, so it was always,

Speaker 2: (04:45)
Let's back up a little bit. So you ran 50 Ks, paid him some seven hours or something and the tank wasn't in thi the next day. Like most people get to the finish line on any race and go, never again. Well that's it. Unless a very experienced one or something, they know that that's, that's going to be temporary. But you in the very next day started looking online. Usually it takes at least five days.

Speaker 3: (05:11)
Yeah, no, I think I'm really like goal-orientated I I think I, you know, you, we do what we do during the hours of nine to five to make ends meet and pay the bills, et cetera. But running is I've come to learn that it's a, my thing, it gives me that time and space. And it's, you have a, there's a fantastic mental feeling that goes with running. And if you marry that for me with huge, big, hairy audacious goals it gives me that balance. And if I don't have that big hairy audacious goal on the horizon or near, then I start, I start to struggle. Yeah. And my life is a bit out of balance. So I think it was physically I was, I was a bit poked, you know, my legs hurt and you know, I had a few tight muscle groups.

Speaker 3: (06:09)
But there was definitely a sense of there's more in the tank. And for me it was a case of you've got this base, you've legs, you've come through, okay, yeah, they're gonna hurt, but whose legs wouldn't after running 50 a day and let's use that base as a launching pad for the next big hairy audacious goal. And the counsel or guidance from my, from my wife was find a 70 or 80 K wise woman. This lady, she is, yeah, very, very wise. She's my CEO, my CFO and everything else. But to ignore that, no, she's a lovely lady. See no, I, I did ignore it and as I tend to do with some guidance and I thought, no, let's go a hundred now. Let's lock it in because there was nothing else on the horizon that was closer and telcos on our doorstep and yeah, it was on. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (07:05)
Well, so Topo 100 K for people who, let's see, from overseas. So taco is universal part of the country in the North Island of New Zealand, and I have a hundred K of the year, which is, can be a muddy, muddy, and hilly fee. So you signed up for that already straight after, straight out of the gate after Tyler WEDA. And what happened then?

Speaker 3: (07:28)
Literally I text my brother in law and said, what are you doing on the 12th of October? I have a deal for you. And I, then you came back and said, yep, nothing. What have you got in mind? I said, Oh, would you like to be my support crew for 'em a hundred K? It's like, are you sure? It's crazy idea, but let's do it. When Shelly and Darcy woke up, I kinda very casually dropped in conversation and yeah, it, you know, I gave myself a good few weeks to recover. Possibly from what I've learned from Neil subsequent after the a hundred possibly digging it myself long enough to recover which then is how I, I met you Lisa. So yeah, so I started training and, and literally followed the same sort of process and build up that I'd been doing for the 50, but obviously slightly longer distances for the a hundred. And I think it was around may or June of this year that I started to realize that what had got me through the 50 wasn't necessarily gonna get me through the a hundred. And that's when I, yeah, that's when the world changed.

Speaker 2: (08:35)
And that's when you found us.

Speaker 3: (08:37)
Yeah. So I was looking for not only coaching but a community that I could connect with. Cause I think when we run, we do a lot of this stuff in isolation. And I think I was looking for more than just a frequent, frequent contact the coach. I wanted to understand how everyone else was doing the trials and tribulations irrespective of distance and just share that knowledge. And yeah, I did my research and I think you and I had a phone call and yeah, gave it a go and yeah. Jumped on board

Speaker 2: (09:11)
And yeah, so we were, we were start the heavy onboard and we've now got this 100 K goal. And you said, I think it's what's important is a lot of people stand out on their own and they, they, they do fine for a little while. And then you start to either run into injuries or you go weeks bigger or you start to have troubles in some way, shape or form. I begin a bit burned out, maybe lose your motivation. And that is some people often come to us and say, Oh, I need a bit of structure. And it's an, it's not like probably 90% of people who join us have hit the wall in some way or hit a big, big, big scary goal that they know they need to take a little bit more seriously. So it's one or the other. Or they're just starting out that that's another thing and they want some really good guidance and structure. So what was the main difference like when you came to running hot coaching and jumped into our planes, what was the major difference that you found campaign to say and screeching off the internet?

Speaker 3: (10:17)
Yeah. So I think the catalyst for looking beyond our training in isolation on my own was I wanted a more rounded approach to the a hundred. I realized that I wasn't spending enough time on core strength for example. And I also knew that my own knowledge and experience wasn't enough and that there were people out there who had years of experience and I'd be daft not to tap into that. So recognizing that I had my own limitations. So from a knowledge perspective and actually I, the biggest thing for me is that I was starting to get a sense that I wasn't approaching my long runs fresh. Yup. So I was going into the weekend quite fatigued and I wanted a more, I wanted to know if there was a way to balance training for a hundred so that you didn't feel you know, shot all the time and fatigued.

Speaker 3: (11:11)
So that was the catalyst. And and then the conversation with yourself and then actually working with Neil, it's on pick the a hundred K plan. I was like, wow, the longest run in the week, mid week is actually shorter than my current longest midweek run. So automatically the, I'm going to start feeling a little bit fresher. Yeah. And then I started getting actually the first core strength session I did, I probably couldn't walk proper for about a day or two. I remember doing the lunges and I was like, Oh wow, I'm going to, yeah, this is, there's a reason why I'm doing this.

Speaker 2: (11:46)
Oh, that's fine. So, and like [inaudible] that is a key thing. Like you don't know what, you don't sometimes how weak you've gotten to, like when you run, it's a catabolic exercise. So it starts at eight, you eat away at your muscles. And so if you're not counteracting that with strength training, with a, also with your mobility and for, for different reasons then over time you're going to get weaker and more flacid than the, in the, in the core for example, you'll have strong leaks, but that's what, you know, run isn't going to have strong links obviously, but the rest of you will, will suffer from. And that's when things can come unstuck as well, especially if you're not 20 anymore, you know, you need to start thinking about muscle max loss, which is, which we sort of lose around 200 grams a year after the age of 40 on average. So let's say they say so we want to be counteracting that as well as the fact that you are in a catabolic sport that is actually eating away at you and you want to be able to maintain. So, okay. You started into the strength program is think, well this is, this is different. Yeah. And how, how, how was it for you when the mileage, like a lot of people think, okay, I've gone from 50 to a hundred, I have to double the mileage. Doesn't work, does it?

Speaker 3: (13:00)
Absolutely not. No. So the a hundred, the leap from 50 to a hundred was for me, surprisingly manageable. I'm working in within the a hundred K plan that you guys gave me. So midweek run automatically shorter. So there's some gains there. And actually the, the longest run was actually comparable to my 50 K. Yeah. And I think we added maybe another hour onto it just because I was questioning, well, if I'm going to take 15 or 14 hours, then you know, do I need to run a little bit longer than what I've been doing? 50. And then it was like, you know, if you want to run a little bit longer, that's okay. But there isn't a one size fits all. You've got to just make it work for you.

Speaker 2: (13:42)
Yeah. Yup. And this is a, the thing that's like, I've said to people sometimes when they think, how the hell am I going to double that? And, and I'm not actually doubling the distance and I say to them like, when I'm running or set of 200 K race or two 50K race, I don't double it again, because you can't double it. You can't keep doubling that. You're training distance to suit your and with, we've come from, you know, most people have come from maybe a marathon,udistance training. We are, you know, from half marathon, two marathon, you steeping up your mileage a lot more and your long run does get a lot bigger and you're doing sort of three quarters, you know, 32, 33 K run as your longer time before Marisol. So people extrapolate that and think that that's what happens when you're doing a 200. Okay. And it isn't, you can't, you cannot physically recover from training intents on this. You kept choking or somewhat [inaudible].

Speaker 2: (14:39)
But generally you can't recover. And that's where the wheels start to come off. People if they start to try to do this high mileage, so we're not high mileage coaches. And we get a lot of people coming to us who've come from high mileage coaches and that approach would work at the beginning and it will work when you're younger. When you've got kids in careers and you're getting a little bit older, they had approached that to unravel. If you're a lady, you can often start getting hormone problems as well. And so both sixes adrenal exhaustion is on the horizon too. So those are things that we always very aware of and you're trying to keep you from tipping over there. It's a very fine line to walk sometimes. Okay. So walk us through the next part of the process.

Speaker 3: (15:23)
So I think we're just on that around the longest run. So I training was going really well. You know, mobilization work, strength work, and then I got through what I turned my apex weekend, the longest run weekend. Yep. And I run it as per the schedule where I may be through one half an hour for mental confidence and yeah, it's about 43 K I think in total. Five and a half hours in the Hills. Yeah. And then that the following week is when it all came crashing down, fell off. The wheels did come off big time. Yeah. Yeah. I, I'm

Speaker 2: (16:03)
You run into an injury problem.

Speaker 3: (16:05)
I did. I had basically an absolute awful pain sensation in my left ankle tendonitis. They turned out and that, yeah, that happened literally on the Wednesday after my long run. I could feel it. You know, in the sort of the Tuesday morning and then I went for another run on the Wednesday, which I shouldn't have done. And it was hurting like never, like no other pain I'd had before. So I knew something wasn't quite right. And managed to get to see my awesome physio in Cambridge and and she said, yeah, you've got some, some tendonitis. And we basically worked up a plan where I would, and I, I think at that point, if I don't take it back a step, there was a day, I think it was a Thursday where I was sitting in my office in Cambridge and I was literally in tears because I thought, how am I, how am I going to get to the start line, let alone the finish line and put all this effort in. And you know, I spoke about the balance or the need to have balance in professional life and personal life. Suddenly I could see the Seesaw completely, you know, mounted as broken for overseas friends. And I I was just learning bits because I thought, I can't run. How the, what am I going to do? I can't walk this thing. So I think I flipped you guys a note and said, how do I typo?

Speaker 2: (17:35)
You were in immediately black spice and you, you reached out and I could tell from the, you know, you asking about specifically about the, the injury I think, which was part of the same, but the what, what, where I jumped in was more the, the meaningful side of it because you were, you were taking the deep dive. So when you've put your heart and soul into something massive and then it starts to unravel and then you're thinking you're fearing not being, because it's not along to the race now that you're not going to get there. And every decision that you're missing in this is very, you know, normal things that though it still starts crashing down around your ears. So how did they, so I, I jumped on a call with you and we started to work through some of the, the mental stuff. How did that help you?

Speaker 3: (18:18)
Yeah, it was, it was really interesting cause I, I went straight to the physical side. So how do I taper? How do I still do these sessions? You know, I've got an internal session tomorrow. How do I run that with an ankle that I can't run them? And you're like, no, no, no, no, no. Take a step back here. This is you, you, I think you actually said you've got this your legs have got all the miles they need to do to do the a hundred is now about the upstairs. How do you mentally stay, stay in the fight to get yourself to the start line and through the race. And I was, I was actually quite taken aback about that because I thought, well, I'm missing all these sessions or I'm going to be missing all these sessions.

Speaker 3: (18:59)
And I'm generally fairly confident person, but I guess susceptible to blows from life as, as anyone is. Yeah. And I couldn't, I wasn't listening to you, I think at first. And then you followed up in an email and it, I actually, it took me three or four attempts to reread what you'd written. And then we communicated over the next 48 hours. And you said over the weekend, I want you to read a book if you can. And the book is the biology of belief. Yeah. Bruce Lipton. Yeah. And it was a little too it took me way beyond my, my scoring. Yeah. School level science around biology, but it was the last section that really knitted it all together, which is about how your perception and beliefs influence your physiology or can influence your physiology. And I think that's when the penny dropped for me that this is all about the mind going into these next three and a half weeks.

Speaker 2: (20:06)
Yup. And that's the key point because the situations happen, the injuries happen.

Speaker 3: (20:12)

Speaker 2: (20:13)
What we've got, we can, we can, the, the, the, the thing that you're going to do wrong is to keep training over that injury and to try and fight through it when you've got a rise at the other rains. So the panic is that I'm not going to be fit enough when the reality is if you, if you get through 70, 80% of your total training malls, you're going to be fine. And I, and as a coach, you don't, you, you trying to get your people, I'm a bit more than that, but if something happens, you, you will get there. The best race I've ever had in my life, one of the most amazing races put that way, let have, was that one that I did in the Himalaya's, which I shared with you, that 222 K rice. So of the two highest mountain passes and in the world mudroom bubble passes and I ripped the ligaments off my league team weeks out from the rice.

Speaker 2: (21:01)
I couldn't run for seven weeks and I had a hypoxic brain concussion from doing altitude training. So I didn't have enough oxygen in my body. So of course all these evictions and so on. Some of the listeners would have heard this story, but eh, when I, and I was either I'm going to pull out or I'm going to carry on. And I decided I'm carrying on because I'm put in so much. If it as you know, the effort that goes into training for something like this, we need alone the sponsorship, the foam, the documentary that, you know, the whole works just made that I couldn't just pull out. And so I had to try and face it with only a couple of weeks training at the end of that seven week. So not being able to train on my foot. So I did cross train, I didn't want to cook with my body and I spent the rest of that time on my mindset.

Speaker 2: (21:44)
And when I got to the stat line, my body was actually in better shape than if I'd smashed it right till the end because I'd actually given my, my body hadn't had a recipe years putting it, you know, mildly. And so this actually was the best thing that could've happened and it was fit. And I did the 222K race mind do like a really hard, tough, long at altitude, extremely dangerous race and, and killed it, you know, was, was briefly had, I've got documentary if anyone was walked,uI'm slightly simplifying it, but the point was you didn't need to do every one of those training sessions that you think you need to do. And when you don't have the choice, it's either you change your mindset to the whole thing and you stay on board with it and you better, or you give up and you pull out or you keep trying and you and yourself even more, and then you might be out for six months, you know?

Speaker 3: (22:37)
Yeah. And I think the, the biggest thing as human beings, we often always easy to do, is to, is to not learn from the mistakes as we go through life. You know, to the definition of madness is to repeat the same action and keep expecting the same or different outcome. Okay. And, yeah. So, so I think you know, when I spoke to you in that scenario that you described around that, that race, you said to me, the one thing you did do was you asked your support crew and those around you on that day or leading up to the event and through it to be 100% positive that you didn't want any negativity around you. So when I was going through this over that weekend I said to my wife, you know, do I pull out? She said, well, you can't because you, there's no point.

Speaker 3: (23:20)
You missed the withdrawal date. Yup. No, you might as well just take each day as it comes, see where you are. We're going to go down, everyone's booked in to come down and stay, et cetera. So that's just do it and just see what happens. My wife is a Kiwi. She's her world view is inherently positive. I'm, I'm British and naturally cynical about most things in life. So glass half full glass half, we kind of marry each other out. But yeah, so, so I I got through that weekend and I jumped in the pool and on the bike and I was having physio, physio sessions and I wasn't running and it was a really weird sensation. Weight in the sense I felt like I was getting behind. So that's when I, little things like, you know, I did that accountability mirror exercise where I took post-its and wrote down in a motivational statements or words on a mirror and I took a wee picture and I know it's a silly thing I did just to hold myself accountable going through the next three and a half weeks to do towel pose.

Speaker 2: (24:28)
And that is not silly. That is really, really good. Anything, any positivity that you can surround yourself with is, is the mental game, is everything in ultra?

Speaker 3: (24:37)
Oh, it is totally. And this is the biggest, you know, you do these events in life and I've, the one thing I've learnt this time round is that it is all mental. It is a hundred. I mean you're also, you're palsy, you know, needs to be conditioned. [inaudible]

Speaker 2: (24:52)
Healthy and you need my foot. But the rest is in your head. And Oh man, I'll say next weights, you know, finish races that they shouldn't have been running cause they went far enough to do it, but mentally they were strong enough to get through it. We don't recommend doing that because you're going to scroll your body in the long run, but it is about this up here. How much, how much pain can you suffer, how much can you overcome, how much, what's your why and how big is that? Why and how strong is that? Why you really, really want this? And then you find ways around obstacles. And, and I think having seen what I've seen in other athletes, I've seen people with incredibly bad injuries survive races. I've seen you know, people who are blind run across the Sahara. And I've seen this before. People with, with one leg run across your belly. And a whole bunch of people who carry kids who had cerebral palsy is to give them a cross them a mouth on the Saturdays, you know incredible stories. People who really believed in saving the rhinoceroses and addresses the rhinoceros the entire time across the Sahara. You know, absolutely crazy things that physically shouldn't be now able to do. But they did.

Speaker 3: (26:05)
But because of their why and their purpose, they did. Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 2: (26:08)
In a very, very strong why. And there has to be the, the ultimate. OK. So you, you started to tune your mindset around, so this positivity and surrounding yourself with positive people and your wife's telling you, you could, you know, you got this, we started, we just starting and that is the thing. Get to the stat line, start, see what happens.

Speaker 3: (26:24)
Yeah. And I think the biggest thing they have along the way, I was training with a guy it lives in Oakland and we've done a few training runs together and I sent him a text set, ah, you know, with start together, but we'll be finishing separately. I don't know if I'm going to finish in my current state. And he phoned me and he, he's a really happy go lucky guy, positive outlook. He said, no, no, we will walk this out together if we have to. And I thought, wow, okay. That's, that's pretty cool. So yeah.

Speaker 2: (26:58)
Oh yeah. This guy gives us his name. Give them a shout out.

Speaker 3: (27:01)
Johnny. Johnny, Denise. Yeah. Nice. Good guy. So yeah, so Johnny and I were, we ended up training separately of those last couple of weeks. And I was trying not to look at Strava and you know, get envy about long runs that he was putting in. And I was in the poll in my Emma Speedos. It wasn't good. But anyway yeah, no, so sorry, go on. Yeah, it worked. It worked. Yeah. So we got through that through those last few weeks. I'm in the pool and on the bike and having some fun on the mountain bike. And actually it was really nice just to get out in the Hills and just turn around. And then I remembered actually coming down one single track in, in Cambridge that I was actually doing a race the following weekend, so I should probably take it easy and not go too fast in case it came off. But yeah, no. So I, I started just to test the run walk literally the Monday before the race on the Saturday and that was the first time I'd got back on my feet and it was a really tentative run walk. And then I did another one the next day. And then the final one I think was on the Wednesday and no reactions from the ankle. So I thought, well, yeah, big, big mental hurdle cleared. You know, we're locked in to do this and we're going to do it. And yeah.

Speaker 2: (28:18)
And that's pretty like, it's pretty ballsy to be fair. You know, like it is hard when you're facing a hundred K and you haven't been able to try and fill the last few weeks and you're in the last phone a week, people before the race and you're like, can I even walk, run, walk, run in a couple of days you can change it. We'll be trying this out. And you're standing on the start line and said, and the morning it a hundred K, you know, it takes a lot of mental strength. So well done. Thank you Chuck it all in.

Speaker 3: (28:44)
No, definitely not. And I think at that point even I think my physio had said to me you are doing this, you can do this. And that you will break, you will not break anything in your ankle if you do this. And it hurts. It's just, it's not just ligaments, tendons, just tendons and they will recover. And I think that hearing that actually, I was like, okay, so if my body hurts, it's going to have to live with it and my mind is going to tell it. And that was the process I was going through. I think I spoke to you in the buildup and you said to me that this could be the body's way of trying to tell your mind that this isn't a great thing to do. Let's just sit back and watch some Netflix on the Saturday.

Speaker 2: (29:20)
Yes. Let's dive into that for a sec. The, in my experience in nearly every big race that I've done and the week before or two weeks before, something goes wrong on my body. Like I get sick, I'll get a cold, I get the flu, I get something, some, some single play out. And I, and I S I think it's the subconscious we aiming already actually body because it knows that you've got this big race coming up and it's trying to stop you. We'll throw everything at you. Just stop you.

Speaker 3: (29:50)
Yep. And that book I mentioned earlier yeah, a lot of it was about using your conscious mind, so not drifting off into unconscious thinking, focusing on the now using your conscious mind. And there's a lot more power in, in, in potential, in the using your conscious mind rather than the subconscious mind. So if you play it forward, then my subconscious was trying to tell me not to do the race because it's going to be tough. It's going to hurt. But my conscious mind was going, no, you've got this, you can do this. It's going to hurt, but it's gonna be fine. Yeah, yeah. We are doing this. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So we got through that last week and you're headed off to Topo and it was just a really interesting segue the night before Johnny and I, we've got a big house in our families came down and my, my mother and father who I love them to bits and my father in law was chatting away with Johnny who was really laid back and Johnny was having a, just the odd beer, one beer before the race.

Speaker 3: (30:55)
And I'm quite serious about my prep. I was not talking to anyone. I was going through my mental checklist and all that stuff. And my father in law said to me, man, why aren't you more like Johnny lay back and relax? I was just like, nah, we're all different. You know, everyone's got a little different around different ways of preparing. So yeah. So there's nothing wrong.

Speaker 2: (31:17)
And by the way, cause I mean, I talked to me the night before you know, I'm in the zone, you're in the zone and, but there are people who are just totally chilled out and whatever happens happens when that, the different personality types, unless I wasn't really be confused because everyone has their own way of preparing for such a battle because it is going into Epic bed already.

Speaker 3: (31:37)
Yeah. I think physically I'd appreciated the difference prior to this race around ultras and running and athletes, you know, we all come from different shapes and walks of life, but mentally as well, I was seeing some really interesting sides of people and athletes. So yeah. So yeah, John and I were up the next day about I think four o'clock got to the start line half five. It was absolutely freezing and telco. And I actually, I've never done this before, but I fell asleep again in the car on the way to the style line is about a 40 minute journey. But for me it was a sign of just how relaxed I was and whatever was going to want to fold was going to one fold, but it was going to do so in a way that was going to have a positive outcome. I was, I was quite relaxed about it. Which was really bizarre. So

Speaker 2: (32:27)
Thanks. Turn around to the T is three weeks before and the

Speaker 3: (32:31)
Oh, chalk and cheese. Yeah. Chalk and cheese. Yeah. I yeah, so there's, so we got going and Johnny had forgotten his headlight as usual, so I let us out and I said to John, look, we're going to run, run what I call fifteens, which is you run 10 minutes and maybe walk for five minutes. And I think I said to Johnny that it's going to be the pattern for me throughout the race. And he was like, yep, sweet. I'll run with you would walk this together. You just set the pace you, you'd be mr timekeeper. And we go so we we started off and are we running really comfortably? I think we ran the first 20 miles you know, I don't know, roundabout, just under four hours or something. Yeah. and at one point we were, Johnny was leading in and we were running up the Hill, then we were running down a Hill and he said, Oh, I probably ran that a bit hard.

Speaker 3: (33:21)
How's that? Yep. So but we were trying not to get too excited and carried away with ourselves. So to got to that first checkpoint, all good. And then I think it, it started to hit home around the, you know, you get into the race and we were running this sort of 15 thing where you run 10 and walk five. And I had this little checklist in my head where I'd come up with four things to think about on a rotation deliberately so that I could focus on the now using my conscious mind. Does that make sense? Yup. Yup. Yeah. So I, I'd ran through this little cycle where I'd go you know, what's my effort? Am I running comfortably? Am I running too fast or too slow check. My nutrition you know, have I eaten in the last half an hour? Have I taken some water in fuel?

Speaker 2: (34:11)
It's called association. I call that association where you're associating, you're actually checking in with your body. Yeah. And then another strategy, which is just association, when you're in pain that you're actually go off and do your heavy place and might be visualizing, may swimming with whales or something like that, that I'm in somewhere else or I'm renovating my house or I'm doing something like that and I'm taking my mind somewhere else. So these two strategies are really, really good to open to your practice.

Speaker 3: (34:37)
So now I know that I was doing the disassociation thing around the ADK Mark, but the yeah, so I was, and the other thing I deliberately, I was checking, you know, am I in touch with my environment? Can I feel with my feet and in whatever, my body, the physical environment, just to make sure that I was using my conscious mind. And I would go through this little checklist again, every 20 minutes or so. And so we got through the first 20 miles, it felt quite, quite quickly. And we hit the farm lands, which is a really monotonous physical environment, more walking or hiking than it is running. And it's not fun. It's not inspiring. But we got through that, hit the first major aid station, I think it was around the 50 K Mark. And I said to Johnny I'm now running into territory unknown territory from a distance perspective, even though I've technically run longer time on feet, this is going to be your ground. Yeah. so they'll talk about the different approaches. Johnny and I Johnny got to that big ice station and he had a white bike fritter. And I was like, no, I cannot stand that stuff.

Speaker 3: (35:53)
So yeah, so I, as, as we left the ice station, my wife said, how you feeling? And I said, honey, I'm really suffering. She said, well, you're halfway. This is all upstairs now. I see the neck see you at 75 K or whatever it was. I was like, Holy moly. So here we go. I'm sorry. It literally felt like I was stepping off an area called comfort and known into the unknown and uncomfortable, and this is going to hurt. It's gonna hurt. And this is where growth happens. Yeah. Yeah. So and we were running together, but we were always about, I don't know, three or four meters apart just because that's how you find yourself. And I think I got to about 65 K in Kinlock or something like that. And I said, I was crying behind my glasses, my sunglasses, because I was going through this dark patch where I was like, if I stop, I'm going to stop and I'm going to let all these people down and I will have this sense of underachievement pressure, yeah.

Speaker 3: (36:59)
For hanging around my neck. And as we approached, or one of the mini stations, I said to Johnny, Oh, you run on now, I'm I'm close to DNS thing. I'm gonna work through this. He said, no, no, no. We are, we're going to walk. We start if we have to together. Wow. He's doing. Yeah, he is. He's a really good dude. So so then our run at that point became a shuffle and you know, you're tired, you're physically tired. You can't run at that same pace. So we're still running, but it was just a, a shuffle and yeah, Johnny dragged us into the into the Kinlock aid station where we picked up our pacer. And my wife's friend who's training for coast Hannah, so she she signed up to be a pacer and yeah, my my wife took a video.

Speaker 3: (37:48)
She she asked me a question and she was videoing the response at the, at the 74 K line and a station, sorry. And she said, how do you feel? And I said explicative tired. And she said, Oh do you want to do a another hundred or on 160 after this? And there were a few more expletives that followed. And she she's kept the video and I've, it's a nice reminder, but so then we, yeah, we Johnny had another white bite fritter and I was just like, my God, he's going to suffer in a minute. And yeah, so we hit the Hill behind Kinloch and off we went. And that's, I think when the disassociation came in for me, cause my, my body was really hurt and my feet were really broken, like listers, toenails, just feet were sliding all over the place in my shoes. And it got through Kinlock with a reduced shuffle. And then I think we popped out around the 90 K Mark and into the, off the Hill. And I think that's when I th I finally felt that I was going to do this or sort of finish it. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (38:58)
That's a good feeling when you think, yeah, I've got this now. Like,

Speaker 3: (39:01)
Yeah. I mean I think we are our pacer was really good. She, you know, was checking in and if you're pacing someone that you've, you, you know, haven't done that sort of distance with, it's you've got to find your rhythm. And when we got to that last day station, I think, you know, eight K to go or whatever it was that's when we all thought, yeah, this is this, we're on the home stretch here. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And across the finish line and yeah, happy days

Speaker 2: (39:30)
Come back to like be like you've been in the, in the hurt locker for a good city. K so 25 Ks or something, which is an awful long time by the way. And I always say to people, the rice doesn't really step from Sydney. [inaudible] Usually that's when you know, when you pace yourself, right, with you hydrated, right. Whether your nutrition was right up until that point. And there's always going to be a time in those big long races and that can laugh for hours when you're absolutely miserable and you just want to die every second and give out. And if you can get through that, sometimes what happens is very often as you come into another space where suddenly it's all good again, you don't know how or why, but you, Bonnie sort of comes back. Did you experience that?

Speaker 3: (40:09)
Yeah, I think so. I took the, I spoke about in that 60 K Mark, you know, where I was close to DNF thing and you know, when Johnny said to me no, we're going to walk this out if we have to. So let's just keep going. I think what I now understand a little bit more about, I was going through a battle with my body and mind and what my body was going. Now let's just stop, you know, there's an aid station, there should, it can come pick you up. We'd go home and my mind was like, no, no, you were going to do this. And it was, it was like there's a little war going on between the two. Totally. Yeah. And

Speaker 2: (40:39)
Welcome to the, I enjoy the devil, the lion and the snake. Yeah. Louder. And it gets more and more frantic up there. Right.

Speaker 3: (40:46)
And I, I'd, I'd heard about it from, from you and others around in that war, your, your mind is telling your body, no, we're going to do this. So just shut up and just live with the pain. And that pain that I was experiencing physically actually reached a point and it didn't go any further. It just settled, it dissipated. And and then I got into a happy, happy place where I thought, yeah, I've got a shuffle going on. I'm not gonna run this full bore, full bore. I can't, but I'm moving forward and I'm getting closer to the next stage station and we're going to pick up HANA, you know, 74K and then we're going to do the same from there, up and over. Kinlock. Uand even with my, you know, like going through that,uI found a way to keep moving.

Speaker 3: (41:39)
It was almost as if the blisters, they were just blisters, they were going to go away. Toddlers grow back. And that's how I kind of quickly processed it. But it was just keep, even if you have to walk up the Hill, walk up the Hill, yeah, it's fine. Cool. so yeah, we got to, you know, from the 63 to Kinlock, which is a 74 and I think I mentally was getting into happy site. You know, like I, my body had quiet and down. The pain had kind of reached a point but hadn't got worse. And mentally I was I was over, you know, picking up the pace of 74 was a significant milestone. And we were, I think I could see the end you know, it was, we were close and it was just a case of getting through it. Yeah. And I was, I was still trying to bring myself back to the now going through my little checklist I mentioned earlier. And it was a way of just kind of putting into a little box the different pains or feelings I was experiencing. Discomfort around my feet, discomfort around my legs, you know, it got worse or sorry I've got bad, but it wasn't gonna get any worse.

Speaker 2: (42:58)
It's quite funny on that point. That yeah, when the body starts to scream at you, it's a bit like when it does pre-race, you know, when it throws it, you know, a sickness that you at the cold or some something that or try and stop you doing it and also does it arise. We are getting to the point where you like, the pain is so bad. You're thinking, how the hell am I going to carry on? And then when you do persevere, once again, the brain seems to go, Oh well she's not stopping. We've got to keep going. So I better stop putting those signals out. I don't know how it works. And I'd be interesting to see if other athletes have experienced the same thing, but it doesn't actually get any worse than bad. It's already bad, but keep getting worse.

Speaker 3: (43:40)
Yeah. And you know, it's, I don't know whether it was a combination of you know, mental fortitude or whatever word you wanna use or we'd reached a significant milestone. So getting up and over Kinlock Hill was huge cause it in 90 K there's two little eight stations and hitting the eight, the ice station at 90 K, as soon as you turn the corner off the ice station, it was like a wall of noise from the finish area had made its way up to up. You could hear it. And it was like, wow, we are so close. So any, it was like another wave just picked you up and was going to carry you down this, this fricking mountain. And you know, you could just, where that point, we were kind of walking shuffling and it was in the dark and it was quite wet.

Speaker 3: (44:30)
So you'd probably didn't have any other choice to be honest. And it was just, you know, you could feel the end. So we just made our way down the mountain. And we were joking amongst the three of us, you know, pace from Johnny about, you know, what we're going to have to, we was our favorite post race mill, just really silly crabs that was just getting us through the finish to the finish. And yeah, so yeah, we, we, we hit that last cause like a sty that you've got to climb over and it's like a physical barrier where you're leaving the trials to a four wheel drive tack that literally throws you out at the finish line and climbed over that STI. And it was just, we've done it. We know we're almost there.

Speaker 2: (45:20)
And you can see, you know, you can see that you can hear the people and you can feel that you're getting near and you can light at the end of the tunnel after a very dark long tunnel.

Speaker 3: (45:29)
Yeah. And it was, it was funny. It's like, wow. You know, you crossed the line, we crossed the line together. I had a big of a bit of a hug and you know, like we've, I think it was a realization for me that, wow, we'd, we'd just done this. There's a huge achievement personally, yeah,

Speaker 2: (45:48)
It is a huge achievement. What did you feel at the finish line? Because some, sometimes in sunrises I felt like, you know, I've just broken down in tears, absolutely with relief and I can actually stop because you dream about being able to stop and other times it's just no emotion because you just like numb. You sort of wanted that beyond anything. What was your reaction?

Speaker 3: (46:10)
So what I didn't mentioned is on that way up and over Kinlock Hill towards the 80 and 90 K stations, I, I was going through a real roller coaster of emotion, you know, just trying to get to that final eight station. When I'd, I was on the home stretch, I was, I'm really struggling to hold back the tears. And Johnny was in front of me. My pace was behind me, so they had no idea what my facial expression was. But so, so I thought, and I actually Johnny Johnny and I said, look, there's going to be some tears at the finish line, Hannah pacer b

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