Who Would have thought?
On Saturday 17 March, Adrian Nicholson stood on the start line of the biggest race of his life. Here’s his journey from uninterested to Ultra Runner!
“Going for a run? I couldn’t think of anything worse. How boring…” These words often come back to haunt me. Whilst I was living in London I can clearly remember telling one of my clients my thoughts on him going for a 6 mile run.
Actually, I can also remember my P.E teacher in high school Mr Richardson yelling at me “ if you stand still with your hands in your pockets much longer you start to grow roots” as all the others ran around effortlessly. I stood there with my asthma puffer in my pocket and could not care less about all this running around. I was an active kid, I used to surf and skateboard but I had never contemplated running.
It was November 2010 I had just proposed to my beautiful wife Cristina, we were sitting in a hot tub on a deck overlooking the Blue mountains. It was time to celebrate of course, but after a weekend of drinking and eating copious amounts I looked at Cristina and said “ I need to get fit”. She didn’t quite roll her eyes at me but as good as.
So the next weekend we went down to the local shop and I purchased my first pair of running shoes. $260!!!! ……..sucker.
Do you want to think about it?…… NO. Are you sure? …….YES. Really? YEP. Ok, They better not just sit underneath the bed. They won’t ! Our conversation went something like that. Poor Cristina didn’t know what she was getting herself involved in. Neither did I actually.
Cristina used to run a little bit 20 minutes here 30 minutes there. To keep fit. Keen to try out my new kicks we had decided to run from South Bondi where we were living to North Bondi. I didn’t even make it 500 meters. I was huffing and puffing and definitely beaten. I got my breath back started to run some more then stopped a while then ran again. We made it home in one piece. Broken and in pain but we made it. From that day not once have I said or even thought to myself I’m done with this.
Call it obsessive, compulsive, focused or whatever you like but this new thing really resonated with me.
After a few months I thought ,What if I tried the City to Surf in August? Ran some more, well there is a Half Marathon in May maybe I could do that before I did city to surf……
In hindsight it wasn’t the best approach. I got injured, recovered. Ran, did my first marathon. Injured again….. you know how it goes.
In the last few years I have really found my groove….the trails. I love getting up early in the morning driving to the bush putting on my pack and going. Sometimes never seeing a single person. It’s that isolation, the freedom and escape I feel when I’m out in the bush. It’s that place you reach mentally, the place that you can only reach by hard work, by hours and hours of hard work, there are no short cuts in this game.
So with months of solid training, some very tough races, hundreds of kilometers and thousands of meters of ascent finally bring me to the eve of The Northface 100. I lay in my bed, in our room which was on a section of the course. I could see people running by outside having a look at the course and running off some pre race nerves. As I lay there in bed with my compression on, my electrolytes in one hand and race briefing in the other I thought to my self I LOVE THIS. I have loved the journey to get to this point , I love that my wife and friends are coming up to support me and do this with me, I love the fact that I am about to run for 100 kilometers and I know that I will make the distance 100%. For this I am thankful. I will remember this for the rest of my life.
Race morning came and we were up early and off to the start line. We met Sarah Anne, Warren , Tom and Beyer.
Hugs all round and Tom and I made our way to the starting line….
We were off! 1hrs……2…..3….4 they were passing by quite nicely. Time was flying. I really looked forward to seeing Cristina and my crew at every check point. Checkpoint by check point we chipped away at the beast. I had never planned to run with anyone but Tom and I had been running side by side from the start. We looked out for each other gave encouragement when needed. We were all in this together, The camaraderie out in these races is unbelievable everybody is looking out for everybody! It really is something special.
80km , 90km . 4k to go 3, 2, 1 a few more steps and I crossed the line in 15 hrs 15 mins. Without to many low patches I had completed my first 100k. Yep, my first. I’m keen to give it another crack. What is learnt from these races is invaluable.
Upon reflecting afterwards I was thinking , 15 hours. Hmmmmm …… I love driving but a 15 hour drive would be tough. I love music but could I sit and listen to music for 15 hours non stop? I like food but could I eat for 15 hrs……this made me realize that there aren’t many or any other things I could do for 15 hrs straight and not get bored. It really is a pleasure to be out there running free. People ask how? People ask why? People ask if I listen to music? I don’t need to be distracted from this, listening to my footsteps crushing twigs and flattening pine needles splashing through puddles is the best soundtrack for me. Sometimes I don’t know how, I don’t always know why. But I do know I love it. I love being a trail runner.
Every time I walk past my 100km belt buckle I look at it and smile and think to myself I did it !
Thanks to Cristina for all her support and patience. Karmea for all the guidance, preparation, support and direction. Stephen and Courtney for making the day go so smoothly. To Tom for bringing it home.
Anyone know a good 100 miler …………