Sunday, 3 March 2013

Coastrek: The highs, the lows and the chafing.

Raring to go!  6:55am.
Thank you for reading this, it is very self indulgent.  But I have to download my experience somewhere and so here I am.  
The start.  Our wave.  Palm Beach and Careel Head.  

Of the nearly 13 hours we walked, it was raining for about 9 of them.  It would have been pouring for about 2 of them.  Big drops.  Sometimes horizontal. 

The rest of the time was a sort of uneasy not raining state which could change at any time.  In fact, if a big wind blew and you were on a bush path, the trees threw so much water around it may as well have been raining.  

The wind was pretending to be a hurricane all day, but our path was often sheltered by the varying angles the coastline takes.  When we did come upon an unsheltered spot, we knew we were alive.  

The best part:
The second headland, between Whale and Avalon beach is called Bangally Head.  It consists of about a hundred million vertical steps.  Pure steepness without a break forever.  

We were dreading it.  It was almost the end of us during our last training walk.  

But wait!!  What was the friendly, smiling man standing at the path's entry saying?  

Is it true?  Path closed?  


The torrential cyclonic conditions during the night had rendered parts of this either unsafe, impassable or something.  I don't care.  We didn't have to do it, and were allowed to walk on a road instead.  I know, a road.  

There were plenty more bush paths to come and they weren't closed.  And they weren't pretty.

Every single one was flooded.  Massive pools of water lay in our way.  They stretched the width of the path, and were often several metres long.  We would leap, like (un) surefooted gazelles, from side to side on the path, avoiding these puddles, and ultimately it was completely futile.  

Just one example of what we were dealing with.
Our shoes were soaking.  No matter what we did, we'd eventually misstep and end up with a shoe full of water and mud.  Yet still we tiptoed through the tulips. 

Looking down at Mona Vale Beach.  When we were 3. 

The worst part:
After 12 km at Mona Vale, our gorgeous, beautiful and talented team mate, who shall here only be known as K, had to withdraw due to tonsillitis that refused to play nice.  She had rested all week, she had stuffed herself with antibiotics and vitamins, it wasn't enough.  Normally one tough cookie, she came to a stop on the beach and couldn't take another.  

Our support crew, our fabulous and sensational fourth member whose nearly broken toe prevented her from going further than the first part of Palm Beach (she had known this and made her peace with it) came and rescued us.  She brought coffees and a warm car.  K climbed in and was whisked away from us.  It was a sad moment.  

So then there were two.  For 38km.  If I had to spend 38km on a rainy, windy walk with someone, this chick would have been in my top 3 anyway.  Now she was number 1.  

Now, another good part that makes up for the above sad part:

The awful conditions, combined with a massive tide and huge surf, meant many of the beaches were impassable.  The worst one, Narrabeen/Collaroy is four treacherous kilometres of soft sand and uneven terrain.  It is by far the worst part of the entire 50km, it's worse than Bangally Head and that's saying something.  

If we'd been in the first wave of walkers at 6:30 we would have had to walk it, because the tide wasn't as high when they arrived.  An hour later it was impassable and the powers that be decided, too dangerous for walking on.  

Another VERY exciting moment.  Although we did feel bad for those who went before us.  And I reckon it sapped their energy badly.  As if the horrendous weather wasn't already doing that.  

At Dee Why our stupendous support crew G, met us with hot chips and loads of encouragement.  We changed our socks.  And were amazed by how lovely our feet felt.  This lasted about 5 minutes until we took on the Dee Why Headland and discovered worse puddles than we'd ever seen in our lives.  

By North Head, we were walking straight through puddles.  No longer giving a s**t.  Just trying to get there. 

Another best part:

At Clontarf our gorgeous families and as an added bonus, two girlfriends and their kids came down to wave us on.  It was a badly needed lift.  Seeing them all jumping up and down as they recognised us was a massively excellent moment I won't forget in a hurry.  We had lots of cuddles and love and energy from them.  The energy rush they gave us, helped us get through the final bit of bush between Sandy Bay and The Spit.  

And then there was the chafing!  Oh the chafing.

When you are soaking wet to the skin, your undies are wet too.  And wet clothes cause chafing.  Nearly 13 hours of walking in this state can cause some serious damage.

I call it...the RING OF FIRE!!!

When I showed my husband, the only person in the world who I can show, he was suitably horrified. 

As we approached the finish, I could tell I was not the only competitor suffering from their own ROF.  You can tell by the walk.  It's like trying to walk without moving your legs.  Completely futile, but still you try.  

At 48.5 km we were so exhausted, in pain and stiff we wondered if we could break into a run to save one of our kids.  We decided we'd just shout loudly and break into a fastish shuffle.  

At 49.5km families joined us for the final stretch.   We really needed to be held up at that point so it was lucky they came.  Joshie kept running up and throwing himself on me and I nearly fell over about 5 times.  

My balance was gone, my strength was gone, my will to live was fading.  

For the final steps, C and I held each other up, and crossed the line.  It was over. 

If someone had said, actually let's do the 100km I would have dropped to the ground sobbing.  I have NO IDEA how anyone did 100km.  I couldn't have done 50.1km.  They must have, at the very least, changed into dry undies a few times.  

Ate hot pie, drank one glass of French, went home, had hot bath, attempted a red wine.  Got out of bath, nearly threw up.
The end.  At 19:50.  That's nearly 13 hours. 

Went to bed.