Dave Byrne – What a Moron!

DSCN0332There were several titles I was going to give this blog. ‘Pull Your Head In’ ‘Practice What You Preach’ ‘You Get What You Deserve’…in a nutshell, this is about doing something that deep down I knew was a bad idea, but being a greedy little bugger I figured I could have my cake and eat it too!

The North Face 100 is an event that rekindled my interest in running. I filmed the race in 2013 and seeing the amazing spectacle, camaraderie and jubilation of competitors was inspiring. It was a matter of a few months later that I decided I’d like to give trail running a go.

In the lead up to the 2014 edition I decided I didn’t have the time or legs to train for the 100 and with the World SkyRunning Champs race in late June and my race being only 42km in distance, I figured the 50km option at TNF100 would be the best option. So at this point I had my shit together. The theory was I could train through the event and keep building the snowball. Well, that went out the window when after a great three week block of training I overdid things and a sore left hammy combined with a buggered right knee forced me to take two weeks off. That’s all good and well. Have a break, get on top of things and start training again. That’s what a smart person would do. I on the other hand am a Moron!

10313886_646254755463211_3017105978219368596_oThinking I was superhuman I decided a 50km run, with loads of stairs to climb and a mountain to descend would be fine. After all, a couple days before I managed 15 minutes of jogging before the knee hurt. With that in mind I set sail on race day, feeling great and moving well. In retrospect I know that of course I would feel like this, after all I was fresh! I kept running along, building a nice lead until reaching Queen Vic Hospital, the only checkpoint in the race. This is when the wheels began to fall off.

As the descent down Kedumba began I could feel the body start to get shaky. A sore knee turned to agony and a tight hammy turned to cramps. A run turned to a jog. A jog to a walk. A walk to stopping. It was during the jog phase that a smiling Matt Cooper came bouncing past. Moving nicely up the hill he gave me some encouraging words before disappearing into the distance. Shortly after, at the 9km to go point I stopped, perched myself on a rock and made a couple phone calls. First one was to tell my family at the finish that they should go and grab a coffee as I would be a while, and the second one was to check how my film crews were going out on the course.

Usually at this point in a race, when essentially it’s all over, you could step off and call it a day, earning a DNF (Did Not Finish) for your efforts. In this instance, I had no choice but to walk the hills and stairs to the finish. It’s that or turn around and walk the same distance back to the checkpoint. This gave me a good 90 minutes to ponder over my stupid decision to race and also to enjoy the scenery. See how I can turn a negative into something quite good! In the end I hiked out and managed 8th place. It was disappointing and in the big picture a terrible day out. Why? Well it means I’ve made my injuries worse and subsequently will miss a lot more training. Not ideal prep for the Mont Blanc Marathon on June 29th. The moral of the story: You cannot bluff your way through a trail race of this nature. Any weakness will be exploited and this in turn will be detrimental to the longer term and bigger picture plans. Stay focussed on the A races and if need be, let a B race go.