A month after having completed my biggest physical challenge to date – the Kathmandu Coast to Coast – I thought it timely to see if I could dredge up some memories and thoughts from this epic event.
On February 9th and 10th Moss and I ran, cycled and kayaked our way 243km from Kumara Beach on the West Coast of New Zealand over to New Brighton Beach on the East Coast through some of the best scenery that our country has to offer.
I am definitely experiencing some post event blues and starting to wonder what meaning my life will take after this. I think this is more of a “What Next?” feeling and the need to have some kind of physical challenge to focus on. The Coast to Coast has been on my list of challenges for so long now that it feels somewhat surreal that it is all over.
I could give you a blow by blow account of the race and there will be some of that as no good race report would be complete without some details. What I am going to do instead is give you a list of my highs and lows and a picture of the physical and mental roller coaster that was my experience of the Coast to Coast.
Low Lights Day 1:
(2.2km run, 55kkm cycle, 33km mountain run)
While day 1 was over and all I wanted to do was chill out, lie down and eat, there was plenty to be done to get ready for day 2. We had a wash in the river and put on clean clothes and started sorting out our gear. We got our kayaks and bikes ready for the next day, organised our nutrition and had a run through with our support crew. By then it was dinner time, some more last-minute organising and off to bed!
I enjoyed camping and the atmosphere of Kumara Racecourse the night before the race and also at Klondyke Corner in the middle of Arthurs Pass. It was great being surrounded by so many like minded and friendly people. There were a lot of things I would do differently next time, such as better air mattresses, better cooking facilities and maybe a solar shower! Maybe even a camper…
Day two dawned and soon enough it was time to get up and get ready for the final challenge! I was very nervous about how my body and energy levels would hold up and worried that I wouldn’t have the mental strength to push through when times got tough. I am very thankful that Moss and I were competing in the tandem event because we had each other there the whole way to reassure each other and talk through those moments of hurt and doubt.
Low Lights Day 2:
(15km cycle, 1km run down a gravel road with our bikes, 70km Grade 2 paddle, 70km cycle)
Total Time: 14 hours 45 minutes 06 secs
The Kathmandu Coast to Coast 2018 was an incredible experience and one I will never forget. I don’t think I am quite done with the race just yet and know that I will be back someday – I have a little score to settle with that Mountain Run!
1. It’s up to me!
You can have all the tools, the tricks, the apps and the gear in the world to help you, but at the end of the day it is entirely up to you. It is up to you to get up in the morning and put on your shoes and head out the door. It is up to you to put in the effort, the hours, the blood, the sweat and the tears. You will be the only one you are letting down if you don’t. On the flip side you will also be the proudest one when you achieve your goals!
I have found that it takes a while to build those habits and stick the plan and the training programme, but if you work at it, it becomes intuition. Find what works for you. For me, it is having people to be accountable for. Arrange to meet friends and family for training sessions; have a coach write you a programme that you must fill in when you complete a session; join a running or cycling group and join a swim squad.
2. Get enough sleep
I confess this isn’t always a strength of mine and I know how important it is to get enough sleep and how crappy you can feel when you don’t. Trust me your sleep and your recovery are just as important as the training. The training can only happen and progress if you first give your body room and time to adapt and recover.
Sleep is not only important for your physical performance, but your mental performance as well. When you start to miss sleep, one or both will start to suffer. Allow yourself a sleep in every now and then and set yourself a nightly bed time. Take time to switch off and relax prior to getting into bed in whatever way that feels most natural to you.
3. Find the balance
Training and working hard for your goals is important and you grow so much along the way. However, I have learnt not to let this get in the way of other priorities in my life, such as my friends, my family, my career and my health. Make room for all those things in your life and in your schedule and don’t stress if you must skip a session to attend a wedding, a birthday or even just be there for someone who needs you.
When you sacrifice those other important things, you lose a little bit of who you are. And it is who you are that lead you on this path in the first place.
In saying all of this – learn to say no too. But make sure that you explain your reasons for saying no and how important achieving these goals are to you. Help the other people and priorities in your life to understand and to share you and your time.
4. You can’t do it all
This lesson is almost the same as the one above – but it’s true in it’s own way also. Some weeks you will have amazing weeks where you complete all your training sessions, you eat well, your washing is done and you also make that important family dinner and get all of the Christmas shopping done. Other weeks – not so much! Lets face it, life gets in the way more often than not.
While I don’t have tricks or tips for ensuring that you always have great days and weeks – I can assure that I have learnt to live with the bad ones and to give myself a break when I have them. You can’t possibly do everything and do everything well 100% of the time. You are only human and there are many factors in our lives that we can’t control. Take a breath, reset, take the actions, and take each new day as it comes. Do not let the last day or hour or minute dictate what the next one will be like.
5. Training buddies
If you are anything like me, you love to be social! Training schedules don’t often allow much social time in between work and life admin so training with other people is a great way to get that social time in! And what would a good training session be without a hot cup of coffee afterwards??
As a bonus, it means you are accountable to someone to show up increasing the likelihood of sticking to the programme and achieving the goals.
6. You can’t do it alone
I know, I know, I know… I said before that it is up to me – and I stick by that. But on the flip side, don’t feel that you are out there alone and that no one can help you. Ask for advice and ask for help in whatever format feels best for you. For some it is observing others, reading blogs, watching videos, or trial and error. For me, it is asking those more experienced than me and seeking help from the experts.
As also mentioned before, you do need the support of your family and friends in whatever journey you are on. Engage them in what you are trying to achieve, and they will enable you to make those early morning sessions and cook the nutritious meals, and they will support you on the start line and be there for you as you cross the finish.
This is a lesson I have learnt the hard way on many occasions! Training and racing are hard on the body. I am very guilty of trying to train through sickness and injury and only making myself worse. This achieves nothing! You miss more training because of it. Take time straight away to get yourself healthy and well and whole. Much more productive!
Nutritious food is also an important aspect of this. I know I can definitely feel a positive difference when I am filling myself with nutritious and wholesome food. I personally follow a Low Carb Healthy Fat (LCHF) way of eating and it works for me. I know I am getting the nutrients that I need and the fuel to keep me performing and energised.
Sickness and injury prevention are also vital in self-care – make sure you are taking time to recover and structuring your training to include easy sessions in amongst the hard ones. Stretch, use the foam roller, get regular massage, eat well, and get enough sleep.