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Tarawera Ultra The Build Up

by Shona Stephenson on March 13, 2014

2 Comments

Tarawera Ultra The Build Up

 

I have unfinished business at Tarawera Ultra 100km. In 2013 I had to pull out of the event in the most gory circumstance. I was shitting blood from about 30km and after working myself back into the event at about 60-75km I then was pissing blood. It was extremely scary experience for me. I decided to pull out of the 100km event at the 85km check point. No one wants to damage their organs whilst racing or training for a an ultra. It’s just not worth it. I’m a mum, a wife, a daughter, a sister and I have a family to care and provide for. I have to return home safe for them. I was given the 85km win however never felt like I deserved the award so I happily gave my medal to Jenni Hoogeveen who was the first female who entered and finished the 85km distance.

After a hospital visit and trip to numerous doctors I was cleared of any damage and I was told that all the bleeding was superficial. It was just a Hematuria which cleared up after 2 days. I also worked out I was gluten Intolerant and allergic to dairy. I changed my diet and just 1 week later I had one of the most successful wins of my short racing career. 3rd overall at Northburn 100 Mile and 1st female over the course. This instilled confidence in my own knowledge as a Sports Nutritionist but also my confidence in my own athletic ability and my body.

Being an athlete and pushing my body to the limits has helped me understand my body better. I have exercised induced asthma too, which goes hand in hand with the allergies and intolerance’s that I have. I also have PCO. Again this means that I can’t eat dairy, I must keep alcohol and sugars to a minimum, and keep the weight off my body. PCO suffers are usually high in testosterone, which means it is hard to keep the weight off. I feel like I am always struggling to keep my weight down. Yet ultra endurance racing with the high energy needs I do feel is the best exercise to help me keep my body weight and my hormones at the optimal level.

These conditions have just helped me live a clean and healthy lifestyle and emphasis how important diet and exercise is to your health and well being. I hate having anything hold me back or being told I can’t do something. So I just try and work around it.

After September 2013 I had an off season to rehab my body and an ankle injury. So with my body back in order, it was time to work on my family. Our family decided to move from the Inner West Suburb of Camperdown in Sydney to Brisbane for a Tree Change and to hope to reduce the instances of experiencing cold dry air on our lungs. I was sick of being sick with asthma. I was positive that the Sydney Pollution was not helping us either. I also wanted to move closer to the trails so I will get more family time back, be close to a CBD, have a more humid climate than Sydney hoping that Brisbane will solved all these problems for me. My husband, Mikey and I wanted less traffic, easy access to an airport, be closer to the rest of the world, be close to great cafe’s, close to awesome schools for my kids. I wanted an active outdoor lifestyle that I’d grown up in Turramurra in the Northern Suburbs of Sydney for my kids. Mikey also grew up close to nature, he always had the Avon River in Christchurch NZ at his front door. I use to spend hours exploring trails as a kid in my friends backyards. I wanted this experience for my kids who are aged 7 and 9. We want to be in contact of new places to explore on family holidays. We all wanted a new family adventure.

I sadly had to say goodbye to my Outdoor PT Sydney clients. Some of them I had been training for 5 years, right from the beginning before I’d even run my first marathon. I’d seen the changes in them and watched them grow as athletes and as people. Most of them I’d call my close friends.

We moved up to Brisbane, a suburb called The Gap. It is almost surrounded in National Parks or Parklands of some kind. I’ve joined the Brisbane Trail Runners and I’ve just started up my PT business here call Outdoor PT Brisbane. I’m now 2ks from over 100km of trails from my house and only 8ks from the Brisbane CBD. We back onto a creek and a reserve. We have Bush Turkeys wondering through my backyard every morning, 2 “street chickens” wandering down my street that the dogs, cats and cars leave alone. Water dragons live in the creek behind my house and I have a constant chorus of birds in the back ground. Everywhere I look in The Gap I can see the National Park or a Reserve. It feels like home to me now. It just feels right.

In my new training ground I have had the nicest possible build up to Tarawera Ultra 100km. A new trails to challenge and explore. An awesome training partner, Mandy-Lee Noble, great bike routes to ride, a house to renovate with my husband and a less stressful lifestyle for my family.

In late February I managed to join the Inov8 US and UK team in Big Sur for the athlete retreat for some amazing training on the Californian Coast Line in the Red Wood Forrest. I had such a cool time training with the other inov8 athletes. It never ceases to amaze me that we are all similar people. We had a chance to meet up and training with the Cross-fitters in a Crossfit-Trailrunner Rowing-Free Squat Training Drill. All the Inov8 Team Members are positive, kind hearted, genuine athletes, who all love an adventure and want to push their body to their limits. It was a real blast training with the Inov8 Group and clock up an average of 30km a day of running in between photo shoots and video and a paelo/vegan crazy cook off. It was hilarious seeing the different athletes diets in action. High carb trail runner verses the chicken salad with extra chicken Cross-Fitters. I was lucky to have Inov8 US Trail Runner Yassim Diboun on my Team who had restaurant experience. We made Fried Chocolate Bananas with Chipped Almonds and Melted Chocolate Chips and Almond Butter Truffles with Cacao, Walnuts, Maple Syrup and Coconut adorned on pineapples chunks.

At the retreat Inov8 also target group discussions about the Inov8 Shoe Line, Accessories, and Clothing. All the athletes were asked what they thought about the kit and what we thought would make the Inov8 Clothing, Shoe and Accessory Line better. As Inov8 Athletes we are asked constantly for our feed back on the product and are genuinely part of the Inov8 Design process.

The week before Tarawera Ultra 100km I was pushed totally out of my comfort zone mentally and physically at my first ever Spartan Sprint Australia Race in Brisbane. I had to cover 7km of trails with 12 obstacles that were positioned about 500m apart. This race showed me that my body is able to do more than I thought was possible. I’d never jumped over a 8ft wall, or completed a vertical rope climb, or carried a 35 kilo weighted ball around. I was stoked with my 2nd place. I still have so much work to do to catch Inov8 Athlete and super star Obstacle corse racer Deanna Bleeg. She just blew me away with her skill, strength and speed. She sets the bench mark high. I can’t wait to see if I can edge a bit closer.

In the build up to Tarawera Ultra 100km all I want is to enjoy myself, have fun, push my self to my limits and then finish knowing that I have had a great race. Thats all that matters. I made a promise to Keisha my 9 year old daughter that I won’t run Tarawera Ultra 100km in 2015 because it clashes with her birthday. On Saturday I will be giving it my all and running it for my daughter Keisha.

 

2 Comments

  1. You continue to amaze me with your honest and insightful reporting. Please keep it up and best of luck at Terewara.
    Take care.
    Brett x

  2. Beautiful write up! I can’t wait to see how you go over in NZ – Good luck! But by the sounds of it you don’t need it. You are my number 1 inspiration! XR

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