Race report – City2Surf 2017

For some reason I decided 2017 was the year to give the iconic City2Surf another crack, along with 80000 of my closest friends, after having had a fantastic run 2 years ago, ‘rewarded’ with probably the most disappointing medal I’ve ever received!
It was my first ‘proper’ road race since Boston (I’m not including the Barossa half as I was a pacer there), and there were many parallels.
Firstly, it involved travel. I flew to Sydney on the Thursday, having got myself a bargain fare, for the race on Sunday. Secondly, it involved a huge crowd (30000-odd at Boston, and 80000 in Sydney). Weirdly though, I don’t really like big crowds!
Like at Boston, I didn’t have any huge expectations. I had run the 14km in under 64 minutes last time, and knew I wasn’t going to get close to that. Still, I was hoping to get under 70 minutes (and thereby justify my red bib and my starting position just behind the elites) but wasn’t super fussed if I did or I didn’t. Also like Boston, with the huge crowd and the way the city really gets behind the event, I thought, why not give my ‘JANE’ top another run? Because it was easy, I decided to go with my whole Boston outfit! (A happy coincidence was the rainbow arm warmers, very timely given that the marriage equality question is so prominent at the moment! I had a few people ask me about them, and I had to be honest and say it was just a coincidence but it was a pretty cool one!)
I had only managed one ‘proper’ run since the 12 hour event 5 weeks ago. That was last weekend’s Victor Harbor parkrun, and on a flat and largely devoid-of-wind track, I managed to get a sub-24 minute 5k. It didn’t exactly make me think sub-70 for 14k C2S was a certainty, but at least it was a chance! (The lure of vegan cupcakes may have made me run faster on that particular occasion!)
I flew to Sydney on Thursday – I thought I might have given myself a bit TOO much time in Sydney but I managed to fill my time without too much trouble! I got to the airport WAY too early (after the foiled terrorist plot a few weeks ago resulted in heightened security measures).
After dropping my stuff off at my cousin’s place, where I would be staying for most of the weekend, I made the long trek to DFO for a bit of retail therapy. For some unknown reason shopping does not really interest me when I’m at home, but when travelling it’s often the first thing I want to do!
On the way back I made a stop at the Cruelty-Free Store at Glebe and found vegan foodie heaven!
On Friday there was more shopping, eating and coffee drinking, this time in Newtown, my old stomping ground from when I lived in Sydney 10 years ago, and neighbouring Erskineville. Erskineville is just as I remember it but Newtown has changed a lot! The op shops are still there though, I spent most of the day browsing through those, as well as second hand record/CD/book shops.
Lunch was a ‘fish’ burger from Bliss & Chips, an all-vegan ‘fish’ and chip shop. I don’t know what they make their ‘fish’ from but it was sooo good!
And for dessert I stumbled upon an all-vegan gelato shop, Gelato Blue. I was spoiled for choice! Rather than my usual 2-3 flavour options, I had the pick of the whole store! I opted for coconut and pistachio – an excellent choice!
On Saturday I did a little parkrun tourism with Sydney running friends Rob and Richard. We went to Willoughby parkrun, a very interesting course including a lap around the oval to start with! We took it really easy, given we were all running C2S the next day, but Richard couldn’t resist a little push at the finish, beating Rob and me by 1 second!
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With fellow Boston finisher Richard! Love the blue and yellow!
After parkrun and post-parkrun coffee in Crows Nest, I went to check out Paddington Market. It wasn’t really my scene, so I decided to make the journey to the Glebe Market instead – lots more stalls, second hand clothing and vegan food options (both within the market itself and on Glebe Point Road).
Lunch was a delicious ‘pulled pork’ burger from yet another all-vegan joint, Soul Burger. It’s perhaps a good thing none of these shops are in Adelaide!
I decided to stay at a hostel on Saturday night, the same one where Maree and I had stayed 2 years ago. An easy 5 minute walk to the start location. No messing around with buses and trains. Sounds perfect, right? I even booked a private room (shared bathroom though, but the room did have a TV – pretty swanky for a backpackers!)

I had a bunk bed, and even though I normally would prefer a bottom bunk, I went for the top, purely so I could see the TV! And I laid all my gear out on the bottom bunk – my own little private dressing room!

After I got settled in there, Sam came to meet me for dinner. We wandered down to Barangaroo, where I’d never been, and had a really nice Indian meal at Spiced by Billu’s (on the water) and shared a bottle of pinot noir. I wouldn’t normally opt for curry and half a bottle of wine on the eve of a race, but as I’d set reasonably low expectations, I figured it didn’t really matter! Dinner was followed by sorbet at the nearby gelato place (decision-making was not so difficult here!)

You know hostels are pretty basic. I was given a pillow case, a sheet and a blanket when I checked in. The sheet was so small it didn’t even cover the mattress. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to sleep on top of the sheet or under it. In the end I opted for the former. I know what hostels are like. I didn’t want any part of me touching that mattress which had undoubtedly seen some stuff over the years!

The pillow could be best described as feeling like a couple of bricks inside a pillow case. Not super comfy!

So I wrapped myself in the blanket like a burrito, but even so, I still got cold in the night. I couldn’t be arsed getting out of bed to get my hoodie off the bottom bunk, so I executed a daring manoeuvre – I leaned over the edge kind of like the way bats sleep hanging upside down, and somehow managed to grab the hoodie without falling head-first on the floor. Winning!

It wasn’t all bad though – I didn’t have any roommates so I was spared the usual hostel joys like snorers and amorous couples. I have had the ‘pleasure’ of both of these in the past and it was well worth the extra money to get a private room on this occasion!

I set my alarm for 5:45am but I was well and truly awake by 5:30 so I figured I might as well get going! I started the day the same way I started the day of the 12 hour event 5 weeks ago – with a little motivational music (‘Let’s Go’ by Def Leppard) only this time I went with headphones rather than the portable speaker. I presumed most of the clientele of the hostel would have only just made it to bed and probably would not have appreciated the unwelcome awakening! I needn’t have worried though – it seemed that everyone on my floor was also running C2S!
It was a warmish day so I decided sunscreen was needed – I had had to go and buy some, as I hadn’t factored it in to my packing plans (what with Adelaide’s Arctic conditions before I left!) I had a disposable hoodie which I did end up wearing but probably could have done without, and a disposable poncho that I had found during a decluttering spree a few weeks earlier, which most definitely would NOT be required.
Rob arrived at the hostel just before 6:30 so we could make the long 5 minute trek to the bag drop and then the start line. Our start time was 7:50am but the bag drop closed at 7am so we needed to be there before then. On the way we passed a Marriage Equality booth and were asked if we’d like to come and chat with Ian Thorpe – we said “no thanks, we have a race to get to!” In hindsight I probably should have stopped – I’m sure they would all have appreciated my rainbow arm warmers!
In the queue for the bag drop I saw 2 familiar faces from Adelaide, Rob and Des, within a minute! How Adelaide is that, you go to the biggest fun run in Australia (and I think maybe even the world) and don’t even get to the bag drop before you see 2 people you know!
We then made our way to the Red Bib start area via the portaloos, where I wondered if I’d made the right choice trying to run ‘properly’ rather than dressing up and just having a bit of fun! There was a woman dressed in a superhero costume right up front, who got interviewed! There was also a guy in a white suit, Afro wig and sunglasses – I called him Disco Stu, I presume that was the look he was going for! Most of the Red Bib runners that I saw were ‘serious’ runners though. I got to meet a whole lot of the guys and girls from Rob’s running club in Sydney, the Turramurra Trotters.
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Psyched at the start line!
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Just a small section of the Red Bib crew!

After the traditional national anthem we were away! Unlike last time, I managed to keep my feet at the starting mat – so far so good!

C2S is known for the notorious Heartbreak Hill, all 1.6km of it, but the rest of it is not exactly flat, nor is it all downhill. In fact the start seemed to be a little uphill! I had decided not to look at my watch where possible, and I had set a slow alert of 6 minutes per km, only so I would be alerted if my GPS stopped for some reason. (I was pretty sure I would also be going slower than 6 minutes per km up HBH but that didn’t really matter. What mattered was that the run was recorded in its entirety so I could put it on Strava – because we all know, if it’s not on Strava…)
Other than a guy pushing past me on my left (when I was running as close to the left of the road as I thought was possible), the crowd was not a negative factor for me at all – a few people accidentally bumped me but apologised which was nice!
The 14km route was lined with crowds of people and live entertainment. I didn’t find out until a few days later that among the army and police bands entertaining the runners and spectators, was legendary Aussie rock band You Am I!
So I wasn’t looking at my watch during the run, but on looking at the Strava data later, I was sitting on 29:17 at the 6km mark, just before the start of HBH. I’m not sure what I would have made of that had I known it at the time – I knew HBH would slow me right down, but who knew if the downhill bits that followed, would make up for any time lost on HBH?
The Strava segment for HBH is 1.3km with 85m elevation. In the official results it’s 1.6km. I did that 1.6km in 9:13. Out of the 3 segments (start to HBH, HBH itself and HBH to finish), I was ranked lowest in the HBH section. Not really surprising since I’ve sworn off hills for most of the year!
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Just a little speed bump!

According to Strava, the rest of the run from HBH to the finish was downhill or flat. There were definitely some little uphills in there though – I kept wondering when this big downhill was going to come!

The 12th and 13th kilometres were definitely downhill and were a lot of fun to fly down! I still had no idea what time I was sitting on, but I thought I might as well give it a crack! (There was a time clock at the 10km mark but I managed to avoid looking at it!) If Strava is accurate my time there would have been 50:38. That was just off 5 minute/km pace but if I’d known there was some nice downhills coming, I probably would have thought I was a chance of getting that sub-70!)
I did make up a bit of ground in the overall rankings in that last section. I’d dropped significantly in the rankings on HBH but I finished in a higher position than I had been in BEFORE HBH. My strength traditionally has been in my finishing – I tend to start conservatively and reel people in towards the end. It’s a great feeling!
When we had about 1.3km to go I accidentally saw a clock and somehow managed to do some quick mental maths to work out that sub-70 was definitely on the cards!
The last kilometre or so was a bit different to the last time I ran C2S. We ran seemingly MILES up Campbell Parade, past the beach, before making a tight U-turn and heading back to the finish. I had really picked up the pace by now – when we first approached the beach and I could see (on one of the rare looks at my watch) that we still had nearly 1k to go, I had managed to resist putting on a final burst, but with only a few hundred metres to go, I decided to leave nothing out there!
As I approached the finish line I saw the clock and it was just on 69 minutes, and I KNEW I had it! I was so pumped, there was much screaming and cheering and fist pumping! It was probably the most excited I’d been to see a finish line time clock, since I realised I had broken the 60 minute mark in my first City-Bay Fun Run back in 2013 (and on that occasion, I did not even have a watch, so I was pacing entirely by feel!)
I was pleased when I was handed my medal and it was VASTLY superior to the Westpac ad that I was given 2 years ago!
The gear collection was a bit of a shambles – it was kind of like bingo where you held up your bib and waited for your number to be called! Still, the weather was lovely so it wasn’t all bad, to be able to stand out and enjoy the sunshine!
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Can’t wipe the smile off my face!
From there, Rob and I went to meet the rest of his running buddies, I took a few pics with a few of the costumed runners (including the previously mentioned Disco Stu!) before we all went for a well earned beverage at Icebergs!
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Disco Stu!
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Last time I got a pic with Superman, this time it was Batman!
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Of course the guy in the onesie beat me!
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Perfect way to rehydrate after an awesome run!
Rob and I timed our exit perfectly, managing to get onto the bus that was already waiting near Icebergs, and then taking a train from Bondi Junction back to the city.
It was another brilliant day – I think my lack of expectation made for a much more enjoyable experience than it otherwise might have been! The weather was perfect, the crowd was awesome, and I managed to achieve my goal which I was not at all expecting!
The main reason why I came back to run it again was to get a decent medal. I did not think I would do another one after this, hence the reason why I wasn’t too fussed whether or not I managed to retain my sub-70 Red Bib status. Now, I am sure I will be back again before too long! If for no other reason, than to spend another weekend in the beautiful Harbour City!
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This view NEVER gets old!
Thanks SO much to my awesome cousin Hope for the amazing Sydney hospitality, and to Rob (and Richard and the rest of the Trotters) and Sam for the catch ups over the weekend!
We MUST do this again soon!

Hello Mojo!

Well it’s now been 4 weeks since the 12 hour epic and I was beginning to wonder if and when I’d ever get back to running ‘properly’ again!

Saturday was my first ‘proper’ parkrun since the one I ran in Mount Gambier about 6 weeks ago. Even that day, I was holding back a bit, saving myself for the Tower Trail half marathon the following day.

I opted to make the journey down to Victor Harbor parkrun, because they were celebrating their 3rd birthday, with birthdays always come cake, and with Victor Harbor birthdays come VEGAN cake! It’s also a fast, flat course (albeit often with a fairly nasty headwind one way) so it was the perfect way to try to get a bit of speed back!

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Beautiful morning for it!
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One of my favourite parkruns!

I ran a respectable 23:16, much slower than I have previously run in my 8 parkruns at Victor, but my fastest in nearly 2 months and my second fastest in 4 months. The wind wasn’t much of a factor, I felt like I had something left in the tank, and the cakes were well worth the long drive!

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Where was the pot of gold?
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Even better than gold – a veritable crapload of vegan cupcakes!
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And afterwards I got to test drive one of the AWESOME new Vegan Beast Mode Team tops by Mekong Athletic!

Next on the agenda was something completely different. I was volunteering at a trail race at Mount Crawford the following day. A lot of people had planned to camp there the night before, and I thought that might be a bit fun, so I signed up despite not having a tent! Not to worry, Tracey had one I could borrow. On the day, Tracey (along with a LOT of other people) decided the weather was too gnarly for camping, but still offered to get the tent to me somehow. I decided that if the weather was looking pretty horrendous, I might as well sleep in the car – at least the car wouldn’t leak or blow away (hopefully!)

So from Victor I made my way home to collect my stuff and then made the long drive up to Mount Crawford, planning to get there well before dark so I could get my bearings! I made it in plenty of time, and parked near where fellow runners Kristy and Trevor were swagging. Most of the hardcore campers were still going with tents!

We went to the local pub in Birdwood for a meal (I had a very nice curry) and then back to the campsite, by which time the rain had started. It would continue for much of the night and on and off the next day. I went to find the hut with the open fire, trying to warm up a bit with a glass of wine and some chocolate while Linda was toasting marshmallows! Even though it was still early it seemed much later (I guess I’d had a long day of driving!) so I hit the ‘hay’ reasonably early, listening to the end of the footy on the car radio and reading a few chapters of my book before attempting to get comfortable in the Corolla!

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Snug as a bug in a rug! Still with very cold feet!

It wasn’t the worst, I had the seat reclined right back and changed position often. I figured it couldn’t be any worse than trying to sleep on a plane!

I woke up naturally just before my alarm and all I had to do was throw some clothes on and make my way across the campsite to the registration tent. I was lucky enough to have 2 ‘undercover’ jobs – firstly registration manager, then MC. I felt for the people manning the drink stations and the car park – in the rain!

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Look at all those bibs!

There were over 900 people registered but the forecast nasty weather deterred quite a lot of them – there were a few hundred no-shows, and quite a few people decided on the day to ‘downgrade’ to a shorter distance. Amazingly, 6 people registered at the last minute, even knowing EXACTLY what they were getting themselves into!

The 35k run was the first to start, a short hailstorm coinciding nicely with the start of that event! Then an hour later was the 24k, then an hour after that the 13k. As soon as the 13k had started, we packed up the leftover bibs, and the registration tent was taken down. I had about half an hour to spare before I would need to be in position to call the first finishers over the line.

The timing system was really good. There was a timing point about 100m from the finish line, and the timing guy, Malcolm, gave me an iPad with live results on it. At that stage nothing was happening, but when the runners started to reach the last timing point, their names would pop up on the iPad so I could announce them as they approached the finish. At times there were a LOT of runners coming through at once, hopefully I didn’t miss any of them!

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Seriously though… who gives me a microphone?

I had fun! I had wondered how I was supposed to know who was coming, considering I didn’t know more than half of the runners, but the system worked really well! Unfortunately we had a few technical issues with the PA system, and I wasn’t able to call the later finishers over the line, as Claire had needed to take the microphone away to do the official presentations. But it’s definitely a job I’d be happy to do again!

I stayed right till the bitter end, when 35k sweeper Ziad came back. I realised how important it is to make sure you let someone know if you don’t start or finish, because first aid officer Susan was calling around all the people who were ‘unaccounted for’, some of whom had not actually started the race! By the time Ziad got back, all the runners were accounted for which was good!\par
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MASSIVE congratulations to all the runners who completed this event, the conditions were challenging to say the least! And also kudos to the volunteers that had much harder jobs than I did!

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Other than warm clothes, gumboots were probably the most important piece of kit I had on the day!

This morning I finally went to see physio and running buddy Beck to try to get this hip flexor issue that has been bugging me since the 12 hour, sorted once and for all! Happily it seems to be something that will be relatively easily fixed if I do the right thing and do my exercises!

Which brings me to next weekend – the City2Surf. Up until Saturday’s parkrun I was debating how I would approach it. The 2 options were: Plan A to run it ‘properly’ if I thought a sub-70 minute finish was achievable (it’s 14km so that’s 5 minute kms), and if I thought that was unlikely, Plan B I would dress up and just run for fun, like so many people do in this event! After Saturday I am confident that Plan A is a goer!

Decision making on the run!

If you’re a runner, at some point you would have made a big decision during a run, either in consultation with one or more of your running buddies, or when a solo run gives you that clarity you’ve been searching for!

I heard somewhere that if runners ruled the world, there would be no wars. Everything would be sorted out during a long run, or the post-run coffee (which, if you’re doing it properly, lasts longer than the run itself!)
Sometimes decisions are made, sometimes a decision you’ve already pretty much made is confirmed.

The best part of the run!

A little while back, I was pretty close to deciding to change from the 6 hour event to the 12 hour event, when I mentioned to Beck during one of our weekday runs that I was “having second thoughts” about the 6 hour. She, of course, knew that couldn’t mean I was thinking about pulling out, and that it must mean I was thinking of doing the 12 hour. By the end of that run, I had 100% decided that was exactly what I was going to do.

It was during another of these morning runs that we discussed my thoughts of not running the Yurrebilla 56km Ultramarathon, given my lack of trail running this year. Again, by the end of that run, I had decided that I was going to email the volunteer coordinator to get my name on the volunteer list. To stop me from changing my mind!

And just a few weeks ago it was during a Sunday run that (after the coach put the idea in my head) a full week’s break from running would be a really good idea.

That break ended on Tuesday with a reasonably comfortable and steady morning run. Thursday I decided to change it up a bit and make one of my bi-annual appearances at one of the Sema4 WRG runs. I ran 10km and the last 2km was nice and fast, thanks to Chantal, using her run as a speed session, who stayed just far enough ahead of me to make me think I could catch her. I managed to pull out a 4:45 last kilometre, which I haven’t done in who knows how long!

I also went back to speed training on Friday for the first time in 6-7 weeks. 8 x 400 was a bit of a shock to the system and it wasn’t until about the 6th rep that I got properly warmed up and started doing some reasonably fast laps! There were only 4 of us runners out there (the 5:30am start on a chilly winter’s morning really sorts out the fair weather runners!) – just 3 fast guys and me!

I didn’t really have a set distance I wanted to cover on Sunday – somewhere between 14km and 21.1km. 14km because that is the distance of my next event, the City2Surf in 2 weeks, and I hadn’t run that far since the 12 hour (now 3 weeks ago!) 21.1km because I’d signed up to be a pacer for the Adelaide half marathon in 3 weeks. Beck was planning to run around 18km as was Nat, so I thought that sounded like a reasonable plan!

At first the run felt really hard! I kept looking at my watch and couldn’t believe how little distance we’d covered – it felt like it had to be twice that! Not a good sign!

And then I started chatting to Beck about my upcoming runs.

City2Surf I would be running regardless. I’ve booked my flights, organised accommodation, booked annual leave, and I’m pretty sure City2Surf doesn’t do refunds. I can either run it ‘properly’ if I think I can scrape in under 70 minutes and thereby retain my coveted red bib, or if I don’t think that’s going to happen, I can dress up and just run it for fun, like so many people do! It doesn’t really matter about the red bib anyway, as I probably won’t run it again, and if I do, I’ll have other runs I can use as evidence to be able to obtain a red bib. If I decide to run it ‘just for fun’ I’ll start near the back of the red bibs, well behind the competitors, to avoid a repeat of 2 years ago when a particularly ‘enthusiastic’ runner knocked me over at the start line!

But on the plus side, I did get to meet Superman!

Adelaide half marathon I was signed up to be 2 hour pacer. I hadn’t run 21.1km since the 12 hour, and I wasn’t going to get another opportunity to do the distance before the event. Sunday’s run was a bit slow – we did pick up the pace a bit towards the end so we finished with a respectable 5:45 pace, but at the time we were discussing it we were sitting on 6 minutes per kilometre, and I knew I was going to need to pull out 5:35-5:38 to run under 2 hours. And 6 minutes didn’t exactly feel easy!

Good times early in the run!

So the decision was made to pull out of being the 2 hour pacer. I might do the 10km (just so I get to run on the Adelaide Oval) but would not expect any great things.

And I also all but decided not to run City-Bay this year. That’s not till late September, but I can’t see me getting back to close to PB form by then. And if I can’t run WELL under 60 minutes, I don’t want to do it at all!

This week’s Sunday run featured 2 post-run coffees. The first one was at the Lion, where I told everyone about my plan for the Adelaide Marathon Festival. I’d enter the 10k (I have a free entry anyway, so if I had to pull out at the last minute, it wouldn’t cost me anything) and just run it for fun. Sure, I’d try to go hard if I could, but if that didn’t work out I’d just enjoy it!

After most of the runners had left (including Beck and Nat) a few of us went across the road to Cibo where the rest of the runners were. I like the coffee better at the Lion, plus you get chocolates with your coffee there, which just so happen to be vegan!) I got to chatting with Voula about my plans, and got as far as getting coach Kent’s phone number so I could give him plenty of time to find another 2 hour pacer, when somehow the idea was put in my head that I could pace 2:15 instead. I did some quick calculations and that is about 6:24 minutes per kilometre. Yes – I could definitely do that!

So by the end of second coffee I’d texted Kent to tell him I’d be the 2:15 pacer if they didn’t already have one (Voula had already told me there wasn’t a 2:15 pacer) and so I was back running the 21.1km again!
Funny how these things happen! You make a pretty firm decision during a run and pretty much reverse it during coffee!

Anyway, it’s great to be back running again and I’m looking forward to pacing a whole different group of people at Adelaide!

What do I do when I’m not running?

A week or so after the 12 hour event which, let’s not kid ourselves, did kick my arse (even though I kind of kicked its arse too), I decided, on advice from the coach, to take an unprecedented week off running.

Since I took up running not quite 5 years ago, there has only been one time when I have gone more than a week without running. That was after my first marathon, in 2014. After that, I didn’t run for 3 weeks. Not because I couldn’t, I just didn’t want to. I was having way too much fun eating and drinking my way around Ireland!

I have always been reluctant to take more than a few days’ break even after a marathon or ultra. I have had it in my head that if I don’t run for a week or two it will be really hard to get back to it.

From memory, after the 3 week break back in 2014, I didn’t find it too hard to get back to ‘normal programming’. I arrived back in Australia on a Friday and was out at parkrun the following day. Yes, it was slower than I was accustomed to, but that probably had more to do with the epically long journey home (4 flights and about 40 hours worth of travel) from Dublin to Adelaide via London, Dubai and Melbourne than with the extended break from running.

The only other time I have taken a break from running was late last year when my foot swelled up for some reason (I assume it was some kind of bite) that made it impossible for me to get a running shoe on. That wasn’t even a week’s break.

So, how did I cope?

On the whole, things didn’t change much. I did my usual gym routine on a Monday and Wednesday. Tuesday and Thursday, normally running days, I still got up early and went out with the running group, but instead of running I did a brisk walk. (Brisk being the operative word – some of those mornings were pretty chilly, and I didn’t warm up as I would have had I run!). Friday morning, as I had been doing for a few weeks in the lead-up to the 12 hour, I went to a cycle class at the gym. (The 4 degree minimum temperature made the gym a much more appealing option than a walk outside!)

Saturday, traditionally, is parkrun day. It’s been a while since I’ve actually run a parkrun, in between volunteering and doing my long run instead of parkrun, in fact the last parkrun I did was in Mount Gambier when I was there for the Tower Trail Run. This weekend was a very special one, it was the launch of Cleland parkrun, SA’s first trail parkrun. I wasn’t going to miss that, but it was a perfect opportunity for me to do my first ever ‘parkwalk’! It’s not as if I would have run it all that fast anyway – trust me it is an exceptionally challenging course! It was amazing how many people we saw walking up the hill!

Yep – a 5k PB is going to be pretty tough to get here methinks!

Cleland is going to be a favourite among locals and tourists alike. Cleland Wildlife Park is a popular tourist destination as it is, made even more appealing by the prospect of a parkrun (or walk) and a nice hot coffee at the cafe in front of an open fire, before going to get up close and personal with the local wildlife!

Of course, we parkrunners didn’t have to wait for the park to open to see some wildlife! Karen, Janet and I spotted a few koalas along the way! You don’t get that in too many parkruns!

And then there was the OTHER wildlife…

At the halfway mark. No words…

And I’ve never been to a parkrun before, where almost everyone stops at the halfway mark to take a selfie – but when the view is like that, how could you not?

Massive congratulations to Jon and Sirelle for getting this off the ground – 220 people turned up for the launch, pretty much taking over the entire cafe afterwards – launch numbers are traditionally inflated, but if the launch was anything to go by, this parkrun is going to be hugely popular!

Sunday is traditionally long run day. Since the 12 hour has been and gone, I now don’t have a long distance event to train for, so I have the luxury of being able to pick and choose what run I do (or indeed, no run at all). This weekend happened to be a SARRC race day, so the obvious choice to me, on my rest week, was to volunteer.

This event has, up until a couple of years ago, been known as the ‘Hills to Henley’. Normally it starts at Athelstone (also the start point of the Greenbelt Half Marathon) and finishes at Henley Sailing Club, running the length of the River Torrens. It is a popular event, and the 30k distance is ideal for those training for the Adelaide Marathon. I have never run the Hills to Henley – I’ve run one of the shorter distances once, and volunteered twice. Last year I did the 30k for the first time but due to road works, it was not the traditional route. Instead it was an ‘out and back’ from Henley, in pretty appalling weather conditions!

This year the course was different again, but it was back to the ‘point to point’ format. The start for the 30k was at Somerton, and the finish for all 3 distances (30k, 15k and 7k) was at North Haven. The run was essentially along the coast, partly on pedestrian/bike paths and partly on closed roads. This year the 15k and 7k were also ‘point to point’, starting at different spots along the route. (Previously the shorter distances have always been ‘out and back’ routes).

I was rostered as a marshal right near the end – as it turned out, less than 1km from the finish. I was pleased to see my start time was 9am – hooray, a sleep in!

I can see why a marshal was required here – this was the point where the 7km and 15km runners went straight to the finish while the 30km runners had to do a bit of a loop to make it up to 30km. I am certain that many of the runners would have been confused without some guidance – I was a bit confused myself when I got to the marshalling point and tried to make sense of the instructions I had been given! Thankfully Voula, having just finished her 15km and heading back to volunteer at the finish line, guided me through it by phone and it all made perfect sense!

We were very lucky with the weather this year. Evidently there was a head wind the whole way (a frequent issue with coastal runs, and being one way, it was likely to be a head wind the whole way. Unless it was a tail wind. That would have been nice!) Initially rain was forecast, then a few days out from the event the forecast looked ideal. I believe a lot of people, possibly scarred from last year’s experience, waited until the last minute to enter! Looking at the forecast on Sunday morning, it was back to rain, but possibly not until the afternoon. As it turned out, the rain was nice enough to hold off until we’d packed up and left!

Marshalling is an interesting, and at times stressful, gig! I have only marshalled once before (at this very event, 3 years ago) and that was at the 5k turnaround. My job was to tell the 5k runners to turn around and the 10k runners to keep going straight. Even then I remember having to tell a few people multiple times! It was mainly people with headphones in who couldn’t hear my (what I thought were pretty clear) instructions!

This marshalling role was slightly more complicated, but on the plus side I would get to see every single runner. I’d be there from the time the lead 30k runners came through, right up to the cutoff time. Mind you, looking at Facebook later I saw people posting about it that I hadn’t even realised were there! (And I’m sure a lot of them didn’t recognise me either, given that I was dressed in street clothes rather than bright running gear or some crazy costume!)

There were a few challenges, other than having to repeat myself for those who didn’t hear me due to the aforementioned headphones (personally I’d like to see them banned rather than just ‘discouraged’ in any event that requires listening to marshals’ instructions).

Firstly, often I’d have a group of runners come through, some of whom were 30k and some of whom were 7k or 15k runners. So rather than being able to point or direct one way, I’d have to tell one lot to go one way and another lot to go the other way. At first I was saying ‘yellow bibs straight ahead, pink/red bibs to the left’ but then people weren’t necessarily aware of what colour their bibs were, so I started saying ’30k straight ahead, 7k and 15k to the left’ – even then some people needed a bit of clarification. Sometimes bibs weren’t visible so I had to ask people what event they were in. Sometimes they weren’t even in the event at all – just out for their usual Sunday run – in which case I told them they could go whichever way they wanted!

Possibly a bigger challenge was when people (usually friends or family of runners) would ask me where the finish line was and how to get there. This happened A LOT. It usually happened just as a group of runners was approaching. So I’d have to tell them to wait while I directed the runners. Then I’d tell them where it was, and that they could just follow the runners to get there. When they’d ask me how to drive there, I’d tell them I didn’t know, as I hadn’t been there! (I have since been there and I still wouldn’t know how to drive there, but I am almost 100% certain it would be quicker to walk!)

A few people went astray but the vast majority were able to find their way to where they needed to be!

Not long before cutoff time a group of 3 runners approached, followed by Voula’s husband John who had the job of being the tail cyclist – he had to follow the last group of runners, so the marshals and drink station attendants would know that they could pack up. As super volunteer Ron was already there to pack away the signs and bollards, the only thing left for me to do was follow John and the other runners to the finish!

The runners on the whole were very courteous, as were the supporters and random passers-by. Chatting with the supporters and passers-by helped to break up the monotony in between groups of runners! I certainly wouldn’t have expected much chatter from the runners, but many of them did say thankyou which was much appreciated! (I always try to thank the marshals and drink station volunteers, it’s not that hard, and you definitely appreciate it more when you’ve been on the other side!) From those who can’t quite manage to get words out, even a grunt of acknowledgement is appreciated!

From the demeanour of the runners as they passed me, the chatter I heard at the finish, and the comments I saw afterwards on social media, it sounds like the event went very well and the feeling was generally overwhelmingly positive! (I’m sure the weather had a lot to do with the positive sentiment, but a lot of people also put many hours of work into making it happen!) The medals, given out at this particular event for the first time (and for all distances too) seemed to be a popular addition!

So if you’re running in an event, it will make the marshals’ jobs much easier if you have your bib clearly visible on the front, and listen out for their instructions (ideally not listening to music but if you need to have music, make sure it’s low enough to be able to hear the marshals!) And always try to acknowledge them if you can!

And if you haven’t volunteered at an event before (or recently), I encourage you to do so – it’s very rewarding and can be a lot of fun (sometimes more fun than actually running!)

So my rest week ended well – I’m pretty proud of these numbers:

Back to normal on Tuesday – can’t wait!

 

 

Taking the coach’s advice (for once!)

It would appear that my idea of ‘recovery’ after a marathon or ultra, is a little off the mark.

My rule of thumb is, skip the gym Monday, walk Tuesday, and be back running by Thursday. That’s seemed to work pretty well for me up until now.

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I can relate to many of these – especially the first and last ones!

I did just that, after last Saturday’s ultra. Thursday’s run was frustratingly slow, and punctuated by 2 unexpected showers. (My rain jacket was conveniently in my car). The I second shower was heavier than the first, and I knew that on a ‘good’ day I would have already been back at the bakery having coffee by the time it hit. Oh well – at least I could run!

I sensibly opted to give myself another week off speed training, initially planning on a spin class at the gym but then changing my mind at the last minute and going for a walk with the running group instead.

There was no run on Saturday as I was volunteering at parkrun. Second time ever on the stopwatch – I had sworn ‘never again’ after stuffing it up the previous time, but actually this time it was really easy and kind of fun!

I knew I wanted to run on Sunday, and there were plenty of options. Kate wanted to hit the trails, Leanne and a few of the other girls were also doing an ‘easy’ trail run, and there was a trial run for the new Cleland parkrun as well as a training run for Heysen 105, and James and co were doing a run down West Lakes way (about a 40 minute drive from my place). None of those runs suited me – I wanted to stay on the flat for another week, and James’ run was starting at 0630 which was not exactly compatible with a late Saturday night! There was also a half marathon down at Aldinga – I ruled that one out too because it was too far away and I didn’t think there was any point entering a race when I knew I wouldn’t be competitive!

So, rather than convince myself I could go for a run later in the day on my own, I decided to join the SARRC Sunday run group. There was a range of distances on offer, but I figured I could cut it short at any point. The group is geared towards marathon training (at this point they’re training for the Adelaide Marathon) and I’d run with them a few times in the past, but hadn’t made it a regular thing. Mostly either because the distance I was needing to run was too different from the distance they were doing, or because other commitments necessitated my running at a time other than 0730 on a Sunday! I had seen the group a few times during my training runs for the 12 hour event (the Uni Loop goes right past the clubrooms) – I’m sure most of them thought I was completely insane! Sometimes I’d see them gathered out the front of the clubrooms before starting their run, and then when they came back after their 30km run I’d still be running laps around the loop!

The 6am alarm was a bit unwelcome after not getting to bed until about 12:30am (tearing up the D-floor at a gig by regular running buddy James’ party band) but I got up and made my way to the clubrooms to run probably around 15km. I was surprised and pleased to see Beck pulling up in her car as I walked to the clubrooms – I hadn’t expected to see her there and I thought we could run together, as she is on the comeback trail after injury! She was planning to do 15km so I thought “Perfect!”

The first indication that I may not be doing the right thing was when coach Kent asked me what I was doing there – he would have expected me to be still resting! (I do have City2Surf coming up in 4 weeks – I have no expectations of getting close to the time I ran 2 years ago, but I would like to come in under the 70 minute mark, so I do need to get back into it fairly soon!)

It was a pretty hard run – pace was OK but the legs just felt really heavy especially on the hills! We were doing a lap of the Adelaide Marathon course which brought back memories of 2016 for Beck, Gary and me! In the end I didn’t run much with Beck as she was well ahead!

To get to 15km I would have had to run past the clubrooms and do another 4km loop. In the end, I got to the clubrooms at 11km and decided that was enough. And by then I’d made a decision.

It’s probably not quite enough, but it’s better than nothing. I’m going to take a break from running for the next week and a bit. My next run will be on Tuesday 25 July. The plan is to hit the gym for BodyPump and spin classes, and walk on Tuesday, Thursday and at the Cleland parkrun launch on Saturday. It will be my first ‘parkwalk’ but being reportedly a very challenging trail course, I’m more than happy to skip the run that day! Sunday I’ll be volunteering at a SARRC event, so I wouldn’t be running that day anyway.

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This may be me for the next week!

Something exciting that happened this weekend was that I got my first road bike! It was the same bike I did a few rides on about 18 months ago – its owner has now grown out of it so I didn’t hesitate to say yes when it was offered to me! So as part of my ‘recovery’ I might get out for a gentle spin or two!

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My new baby!

I think social media might have a lot to do with why I possibly don’t allow myself adequate recovery time! On my Strava and Facebook feeds, I’m constantly seeing people run an ultramarathon one day and a ‘recovery run’ the next, and I think to myself, “If they can run the day after an ultra, why can’t I?” or words to that effect!

I have cut back a lot on events this year. My list at the start of the year was quite a bit shorter than my 2016 list, and I’ve already cut a few out (with possibly more to come) so I guess you could say I’m learning… slowly!

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I haven’t regretted any of the events I’ve run, or any that I’ve cut out! And I haven’t even regretted changing from the 6 hour to the 12!

Do you have any surefire recovery tips? Do you have a plan you like to follow? How much of a break do you give yourself after a big event?

 

 

Race report – Yumigo Adelaide 6/12/24 hour event 2017

You know that scene near the end of ‘Wayne’s World’ (repeated several times with the multiple ‘endings’) where Rob Lowe’s character gets out of the car after having been, err, ‘internally searched’ by the local police? Well, that’s kind of how I think I look when I get out of the car at the moment!

Perhaps I should explain myself a bit more here.

The Yumigo Adelaide 6/12/24 hour event has become a fixture in my running calendar over the last 3 years. I have now run the 6 hour twice (see my report from 2016 here) and after having a brief taste of victory last year, within a week of the event I had signed up to do the 6 hour again this year.

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Part of the pre-event race briefing. I particularly liked the bit about ‘being a total legend’ but unfortunately no-one asked the question on the day! And I was a bit bemused about the ‘noise’ thing – being right next to the zoo, I suspected the animal noises would have been more disturbing than any noise we would make!

Since coming back from the USA this event has been firmly in my sights. With no Gold Coast Marathon this year to give me my distance legs, I have actually had to train for this one. As well as doing a few of my long training runs for Boston at the Uni Loop, since returning I have done 3 x 3 hour runs and 1 x 4 hour run. As stated in previous blog posts I have dropped a few other events to focus on this one.

Then something changed. Firstly I found out that Coralie, super fast marathoner, was doing the 6 hour. I don’t know if she’s ever done an ultra but looking at her marathon times I kind of thought she’d have me covered! Then another fast runner who HAS done ultras, Tracey, was also doing it. The last straw, so to speak, was when Louise, entered in the 12 hour, mentioned that she was thinking of ‘downgrading’ to the 6 hour. Now Louise is a faster runner than me, and has some great recent ultra form, having finished 3rd at the Cleland 50k event only a few weeks ago.

I entered the 6 hour again purely to try to go one better than last year. I actually didn’t expect to get a PB – I couldn’t really see how I could improve on last year distance-wise. And when these fast runners started to pop up – well it looked like winning was becoming more and more unlikely. And even though Louise later told me that she was going to stick with the 12 hour, I had already kind of made up my mind.

So here’s my logic. First, I have run 2 x 100km track races, finishing both in under 11 hours. Looking at the results of the 12 hour from previous years (2010-2016), only once would someone running exactly 100km have missed out on a placing. And given previous results over the distance, you’d think I should be able to get a bit OVER 100km (105 had a nice ring – that would then be my longest run EVER!)

Plus, being my first ever 12 hour event, it would be a guaranteed PB!

And with my 100k track experience, pacing wouldn’t be an issue – I would use exactly the same strategy I used for the last 100km race (link here). From the start, I would run for 25 minutes and walk for 5. And repeat 23 more times. Simples!

And nutrition was going to be the same too – I would take in some nutrition on every walk break – I had 4 white bread sandwiches cut into quarters, 2 with peanut butter and 2 with chocolate spread, plus some nut bars, Clif bars and mashed sweet potato. In training I’d only used nut bars and sandwiches, and in last year’s 6 hour that was all I’d needed, but for 12 hours I needed a bit more variety. I’d put the sweet potato into tiny containers (picture the types of containers you get sauces in when you get takeaway Indian or Chinese food) and brought a spoon along. I’d previously experimented with putting it into reusable flasks and Ziploc bags, which is probably the best way to go on a trail ultra, but on a 2.2k loop event eating it out of a container with a spoon would work fine.

Hydration-wise I went with the same strategy as the 100k in January – 6 x 500ml bottles of Gatorade ready to go. So I literally just had to grab one and keep going. I didn’t want to waste any time on food/drink stops.

Super support crew Simon had kindly offered to bring a gazebo for our unofficial ‘Team Vegan’ and get us chocolate donuts from the nearby Bakery on O’Connell! So I’d have a small table undercover where I could lay out all my stuff for quick access. No using my car as an aid station like I did last year! (That had worked OK last year, but with less than ideal conditions forecast this year, I didn’t really fancy my ability to operate a key in a lock, plus I have a history of losing car keys in ultras! Best keep the key somewhere safe, not to be touched until it was time to go home!) Simon would be joined by Sheena, who had hoped to be running the 24 hour event this year but sadly due to injury it was not to be. Happily for us, she would be supporting instead!

Gear-wise I’d been training with what I planned to use on the day. Starting from the bottom, my trusty Salomon trail shoes, which had served me well last year. My old favourite Nike trail socks (they’re just normal running socks but they’re black, hence they’re the ones I tend to use for ultras). New this year was a pair of gaiters, because on one of my training runs I’d been bothered by rocks in my shoes – the Uni Loop being a gravel track. I’d done my last training run in them, and all had gone well! On the legs I had black calf sleeves (I know, boring, huh?) and then 2XU compression shorts under a plain black lululemon skirt.

I’d gone with 2 Spibelts this year – Karen had kindly given me a spare, so I’d have one for my race bibs and one for my phone. The race bib one could also hold snacks and/or my iPod, should I need to use it.

On the top I went with my favourite lululemon green T-shirt, rainbow armwarmers (see – there was some colour after all!), a zip-up jacket over that, rain jacket, gloves, a buff and a beanie for the start at least. I had a hat and sunnies which I would change into once I got warmed up and the sun came out! I put in a couple of spare tops in case I got drenched like in 2015! And after getting pretty warm last year, I threw in a singlet as well. I had contemplated putting it on under my T-shirt, but in all likelihood I wouldn’t need it, and with the 5 minute walk breaks, I didn’t have to worry too much about wasting time changing!

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Early days! Pic courtesy of super volunteer and photographer Gary! With me, Tania and Mel of the NRG!

Because it’s important to know this, my race eve dinner was an old favourite of mine, sweet potato mac and cheese from the awesome vegan website One Green Planet. I had this before this year’s 100k track championships and I’d been super organised and made a big batch last week and frozen it in meal-sized portions. Pre-ultra nutrition for me always consists of lots of carbs – I don’t ‘carb load’ as such but always have a good high-carb meal the night before (or on the day when it comes to overnight ultras) – usually pasta or noodles of some kind!

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And a vegan cider to wash it all down!

I taped my feet before I went to bed – rigid sports tape under my arches, and Hypafix around each toe to stop them rubbing. I imagine toe socks (or as I like to call them, ‘foot gloves’) would have done the same job, but having never tried them before, I wasn’t game to try them in this event! I did try to buy a new pair of Nike socks but the socks I have been using are no longer available, and I figured it was best to go with tried and tested (albeit somewhat past it) than something brand new!

With 3 alarms set for 4am, 4:05 and 4:10, I went to bed early, around 9ish. Amazingly, I woke up just before the 4am alarm!

I was already pretty pumped up but to put it beyond any doubt, before I got out of bed, the first order of business was a little motivational music. I went with a recent track from one of my all-time favourite bands (possibly THE all-time favourite, now I think of it!) – “Let’s Go” by Def Leppard, which starts with the line “Do you really really wanna do this now?”. At the time, my response was “Hell yeah!” (Their music was also pretty much the soundtrack to my Uni Loop training runs and one of the few things that made those runs tolerable!)

I had already got everything organised the night before so all I had to do was eat my breakfast, get dressed and put my food and drink in the car. There was one small hiccup when the fastener on one of my gaiters broke as I was putting it on – I figured a half-fastened gaiter was better than no gaiter, so I left it on regardless! Despite this small inconvenience, I managed to get out the door by 4:45 and parked in prime position, near the timing area, just before 5am, plenty of time before the 6am start! It wasn’t especially cold this year – I had my hoodie and track pants on but I was able to remove them well before the start time.

Simon was there around the same time with our gazebo and managed to find a great spot not too far from the timing area, near the portaloos (but not TOO near), in between Team Barry (2016 24 hour winner Barry McBride along with long time wine sponsor and fellow 24 hour runner Paul Rogers along with their amazing support crew Liz) and Team Katie (another 24 hour runner from last year back to do it all again, along with a number of her sisters and cousins tackling the 6 hour for the first time!). I brought out most of my stuff – a chair, a bag of stuff I might need during the race (spare socks, spare tops, rain jackets, sunglasses, iPod and headphones), a bag of clothes for AFTER the race as well as a warm blanket, and my food and drink. Oh and a bottle of red wine and a few glasses, a bottle of vegan Bailey’s I’d bought in San Francisco 2 months ago and amazingly remained unopened, and some shot glasses. (That was for AFTER!) In the car, I left my pillow, sleeping bag and acoustic guitar!

One last minute addition to my kit was a newly purchased ‘Team Vegan Beast Mode’ tech band by Mekong Athletic which Simon had organised (proceeds to animal charities – what’s not to like?) – given that it was dark and I didn’t have a mirror to put it on properly so the logo could be seen, I just put it around my neck for the time being. As it wasn’t super cold at the start, rather than have to worry about keeping my ears warm, I went straight to my old favourite 2XU running hat.

I decided not to go with the tunes to begin with. I thought I probably wouldn’t need to worry about that until after the halfway point when the 6 hour people finished. At the race briefing, Race Director Ben said that the weather looked like it was going to turn in the afternoon. So, I thought that I might not use the iPod at all, as I wouldn’t want it to get water in it.

The first hour or so was fairly quiet, possibly because it was still dark and we were all still half asleep!

A few things were apparent early on.

Firstly, the girls from NRG (Northern Running Group), Mel, Tania, Vicky, Cherie, Karen and Debbie, resplendent in their matching tutus and socks with wings, were a shoo-in for the non-existent ‘best dressed’ award.

Secondly, barring disaster, a girl called Amelia from Melbourne was going to win the 12 hour event – she was already lapping me before the sun came up!

Now, I’m going to stop trying to keep things chronological because it’s really hard to do that over 12 hours!

I want to start by talking about the people I ran with during the course of the day, all of whom had their own reasons for being there and goals they were hoping to achieve. There were quite a few runners out there so naturally I’m not going to be able to mention all of them! The 6 hour had the biggest field, 53 starters. Then there were 19 in the 12 hour. The 24 hour event boasted 27 entrants – they would start 4 hours after the 6 and 12 hour runners.

Early on I ran with well known running identity Sputnik, wanting to test out nutrition and hoping to complete a marathon – he ended up running the full 6 hours and clocking up over 55km!

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Thanks to Sputnik for this pic, taken not long after he finished his 6 hours!

Also in the 6 hour were a few more familiar faces – Stu who I ran with a couple of times, at one stage he was troubled with cramps but ended up completing 51.7km and a marathon PB along the way! Then there was Scuba who powered to an impressive 58.7km and his better half Chantal smashed out 51km which was her first marathon and first ultra!

My old ‘nemesis’ and the person to blame for getting me involved in all this silliness in the first place, Graham, was back again (he, along with Kym, have completed every 6/12/24 since the event’s inception). Weirdly, the only time I saw him in the 6 hours was at the 3 hour turnaround. (The turnarounds became a huge highlight! Believe me, when you’ve been running around the same loop for 3 hours, turning around and going back the other way almost feels like a change of scenery!) I told him I wasn’t going to chase him to the finish (like he did to me at Mount Gambier) and then he said he might come back and chase ME at the end of 12 hours! Despite the lack of ‘encouragement’ from me, Graham managed 58km. The aforementioned Kym, always one to encourage the newbies in the event, still managed to clock up nearly 44km and probably chatted with every single runner along the way! Another familiar face, Tim, was hoping for 50km but at least a marathon, in the end he was only a few kilometres off achieving the 50!

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Attempted selfie with Voula, about 4 hours in. Voula had just finished her long run! Mine was only just getting started…

In the 12 hour event we had Leon, who had originally entered the 24 hour but due to work commitments he had to drop back to the 12 hour. Then there was Ciaran, who I had met last year at one of the Heysen training runs. We ran together on and off for short periods. Notably he had the most amazing support crew in wife Jenny, who was always encouraging to ALL the runners as we went past – either with a different dance for each lap, some singing, and the occasional quiz question! She really added a huge amount of enjoyment to the event, even during the few ‘dark’ hours when I was seriously questioning my sanity!

Other than Amelia who seemed to be a class above everyone else (and I suspect she would have also given the 6 hour event a good shake if the rules which applied in previous years, allowing 12 hour runners to get placings in the 6 hour event, had not been changed this year), there were a few strong looking women in the 12 hour. Firstly there was Michelle, who I knew was a really good runner (and definitely faster than me, although ‘fast’ is not exactly the most important thing in a 12 hour event!) and also Lynda, who I hadn’t met before, but looked strong every time I saw her.

The thing was, while I was hopeful of a podium finish (there were 11 females starting in the race, but I didn’t even know that at the time), I didn’t want to let it mess with my head. All I could do was run my own race. Knowing that I was 1km ahead or behind of someone else wouldn’t necessarily change what I was able to do. So my tactic for the race was to try NOT to look at the live results screen at the timing area. The way it worked was, as you crossed the timing mat, your name and position etc would appear at the top of the screen. At one stage early on, I wanted to see my lap count, because that was really the only reliable way to know how far I’d gone (GPS watches being notoriously inaccurate). At the same time I also saw that I was in 5th position. That was 5th overall, not 5th female, but even so, it was something I really didn’t want to know. After that, I avoided looking at the screen altogether! I asked volunteers near the timing area to tell me what lap I was on a few times, and the rest of the time tried to keep a mental count. The magic number was 45.5 – that would be 100km. That was all I needed to focus on.

Also in the 12 hour was Caitlin who was aiming for 50km which would be her first ultra. Her plan was to complete 50km and then stop. I had a George Foreman grill in my car that I had been meaning to give to her for quite a few months (since well before I went to the USA in April) but our paths had never crossed! Today I was determined to give it to her! As she was walking a fair bit, I passed her a few times so we were able to make the ‘transaction’! Firstly I had to tell her what my car looked like and where the grill was in the boot, then I had to describe where my tent was and where I’d leave my keys so her husband Matt could get the grill out while she was completing her 50k! She later told me that Matt had got the grill and she was almost at her goal distance! So not only did she complete an ultra and get a nice piece of bling, she also got a nice new(ish) kitchen appliance to go along with it!

The first turnaround was around 9am. In the past, when I had done the 6 hour event, that had been the ONLY turnaround. This time, there would be two more!

While I didn’t opt to run with my music, there was a guy in a ute near one of the soccer fields, I’m pretty sure he was associated with the soccer rather than our event, but he was cranking out some classic rock on his car stereo. On one occasion I ran past to the unmistakable sound of Def Leppard’s classic, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” which got me a little excited – I guess that was a sign it was going to be a good day!

Around this time, regular running buddy Kate arrived with my pre-arranged long black. I’d had one at this stage of each of my previous two 6 hour events, and had found they gave me a huge boost! This time I had a tent and a table, so I was able to tell Kate where my ‘base’ was, and she could leave the coffee there, so I could try to time my coffee drinking with my scheduled walk break. Given that it was a 2.2km loop, it would have been pretty lucky if I had passed by just at the right time for a walk break, but given that I was well ahead of schedule at that point, I could afford an extra few minutes walking to get the coffee in – and as it had cooled down a bit by the time I got to it, I was able to drink it relatively quickly!

The timing was perfect too, because just as I finished drinking it, I saw Daryl, there with Karen, not far from the start of the 24 hour event. I handed my empty cup to Daryl and asked him to put it in the bin for me, to save me carrying it around for another lap!

Among the 24 hour runners were two fellow vegans, Kate and Tracey, who were sharing the tent, and the support of Simon and Sheena, with another runner Georgy who was doing the 6 hour, and myself. Other notable entries were Barry, defending his title from last year, and Tia, who you may remember from last year’s event, who ended up winning the 6 hour trophy from the 12 hour event (which triggered the change in the rules this year!)

The first big challenge came at the halfway point, when the horn sounded to signify the end of the 6 hour event. 6 hour runners dropped their personalised rocks as soon as the horn sounded, and made their way back to the timing area, their race done! For the next hour or so, they were hanging around waiting for the presentation while the final distances were added up, meanwhile the 12 and 24 hour runners carried on! That was pretty hard, mentally! In the 100k track event, I had been used to the 50k runners finishing before me, but as that was a distance rather than time based event, they weren’t all finishing at once like they did here. Suddenly, well over half the overall field was gone!

At the halfway point, as well as singing a bit of ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ as I ran past Jenny’s tent (I figured I owed her a bit of ‘entertainment’ after all the entertainment she’d given me so far!) I had an energy drink, the effect of the coffee having long since worn off!

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Thanks to Gary for this pic – taken around the halfway mark! Still smiling at this stage…

Around the 7 hour mark, the sky started to look ugly. I didn’t want to end up over the other side of the track without a rain jacket if the heavens opened, so I played it safe and put on my rain jacket as I passed my tent. It wasn’t at all hot, so despite the fact that it didn’t actually rain until about 4 hours later, I ran in the jacket for the rest of the 12 hours, quite comfortably.

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I’ve hardly used this jacket since I bought it specifically for UTA100 last year, but I’m so glad I got the purple one and not the black one!

I’m not sure exactly what point I started having really negative thoughts, but I think it was somewhere just before the 8 hour mark. I remember one of the volunteers at the food tent asking how I was going, to which I responded “Shithouse. SHIT HOUSE”. Hopefully I wasn’t rude – maybe they thought I was just being funny!

This was the point where I was kind of hoping some random would ask me what I was doing. Rather than Ben’s suggested response from the race briefing (“being a total legend”) I was planning to say “Seriously questioning my life choices!”

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This was only just past halfway (another one of Gary’s).

Up to the 8 hour mark I was able to keep up my ’25 minute run/5 minute walk and eat’ strategy going, but it was becoming more and more of a struggle. I decided to change tactics at 8 hours, and for the next hour I tried ’13 minute run/2 minute walk’ and every second 2 minute walk I would also eat. That lasted for an hour, as I quickly realised 2 minutes walk break was not enough to be of any use.

It was probably around this time that I ran into Karen, at this stage she was walking with Daryl and their dog Feebee. Although I was running and they were walking, it seemed to take me ages to catch up with them. Karen was having a bad day, she had revised her goal and had decided that she would be happy with 100km in the 24 hours. Not too long after this, she informed me that she was too sore and decided to pull the pin after having completed a marathon distance in around 6 hours. Catching up with her a few days later, she was not regretting her decision! She also told me she thought I looked terrible at that stage, possibly even a little on the green side!

(Food-wise I was quite happy with what I’d brought – in the end I only had half a sandwich left out of the 4 that I’d started with, and 2 of my 5 tubs of sweet potato. I think I also had 2 out of my 4 nut bars, and one of the 6 bottles of Gatorade. So that’s pretty perfect! The only thing I ate during the race that I hadn’t supplied myself was a couple of Maurice’s famous vegan brownies!)

So from 9 hours I dropped way back to 10 minute run, 5 minute walk and eat. I was pretty much running at walking pace anyway by this stage!

Not long after this (and another turnaround) Beck arrived with my afternoon coffee! I happened to be walking at the time, so I took it from her and we walked together as I drank it. The conversation went something like this:

Beck: You’re limping.

Jane: Yeah.

Beck: What’s hurting?

Jane: Everything.

Beck: Oh, that’s good.

Of course, what she meant was, (and I knew this) you EXPECT everything to hurt when you’ve been running/walking for over 9 hours. What would have been more concerning would have been if one particular area was hurting (like, for example, a troublesome hamstring tendon!)

At that point I told her that I was going to get to 100km and then that would be it, I would stop. I didn’t know how far from the end I would be at that stage, but I didn’t care. 100km was all I cared about by now.

I think maybe that second coffee was the boost I needed to get me through the rest of the 12 hours. It may have also been the fact that there was only 2.5 hours to go. We’ll never know, but the below graph makes interesting viewing. I kept a manual note of my distance (by my watch) at each hour. I then made this into a graph – showing the distance I covered in each of the 12 hours.

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An interesting analysis. Each hour I’d manually record where I was up to (according to my watch, which I know is somewhat inaccurate, but it does show trends). Clearly I got a bit excited early on, paid for it in the middle, and got my second wind near the end (after that second coffee)  to crack the hundy!

I managed to stick with the 10/5 run/walk for the rest of the 12 hours. Except at the end of course – I was hardly going to walk the last 5 minutes of the 12 hour event, unless of course I was unable to run at all! I think this worked really well – 10 minutes was not too long to be running, and 5 minutes was enough time to get a decent amount of food and recovery. And I covered more ground than I would have had I just been walking.

As I got closer to the end, I realised that the hundy was definitely going to happen, and I reached a point where I knew I’d be able to walk it in, but I didn’t want to do that if at all possible. I didn’t know if I was in the top 3, and how close/far away I was from the other competitors, so despite the fact that 100 was at the front of my mind, I knew I had to keep going after that, to get as far as I possibly could.

45.5 laps, as I mentioned earlier, was the magic number. The ‘0.5 lap’ mark was the bollard that signified the 3 hourly turnaround point, so it would be easy to gauge when I’d got there. In fact, 100km was a bit less than 45.5 laps. I realised when I had a couple of laps to go to reach the milestone, that there was actually a yellow marker on the ground next to a bench, that said ‘100km’! To think I had run past it probably 43 times without even noticing it! Probably a good thing. It probably would have messed with my head!

Around this time I saw a familiar face, Brody, another ultramarathoner who I’d met at one of the Heysen training runs, who had come to run some laps with Barry in the evening. He ran about half a lap with me as I got ever closer to the three figures. He was the one who suggested we run on the inside of the loop which, as we were going clockwise at the time, was the right hand side. This felt very unnatural and I was a bit worried about getting hit head on by some of the fast young runners who were out there running in the rain, but it made sense – it was the shortest distance after all! How was I only just learning this now?

Probably with about 20 minutes to go, I reached the magical milestone as I passed that 100km sign for the penultimate time. I raised my arms in the air in a victorious pose (not that there was anyone there to see it!) and kept going – how much further could I go?

When I got back to the timing area to complete my 46th lap, Michelle was there ready to hand me my personalised rock. I loudly and clearly called out “I want my rock now!” so she’d be ready with it by the time I got there, but she was already on top of it! I grabbed my rock (which Michelle very kindly kissed for me before handing it to me!) and set off on what would be my final lap.

It was dark by now, and the watch I was using didn’t have a backlight, so I had to rely on the path lights to see how much time was left. I knew it was only a matter of minutes. I didn’t want to miss hearing the horn!

And then, there it was! 12 hours, done! I dropped my rock and walked back to the timing area. I wasn’t sure of my exact distance (that would need to be manually measured) but I knew I’d done at least 102.2km, as I’d passed the 100km mark one more time and a full lap was 2.2km. But would it be enough to get me a placing? I’d have to wait and see! (Or, I could look at the live results, but I wouldn’t do that!)

As far as I could tell, I was 2nd, 3rd or 4th. I would have been very disappointed if I’d clocked over 100km and not made the top 3! Even so, I couldn’t have done any better, and I was ECSTATIC to have got the 3 figures.

Time to relax! As the volunteers went about the task of doing the final measurements, I got changed into warm clothes (I left my compression shorts and calf sleeves on, partly for recovery and partly because, well, they were too hard to get off!) and hoed into a vegan chocolate donut that Simon had picked up from Bakery on O’Connell – THE BEST!!!!

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My Instagram post just after finishing and tucking into my donut. Note the use of the hashtag #neveragain – we’ll see a bit later what that really means!

Michelle, one of the two women (other than Amelia) who I thought might have been ahead of me, came past, and I found out she’d had a few injury issues and got about 98km. So by my calculations that would put me in at least 3rd place.

Then it was time for the presentation when I would find out for sure! As it turned out, Lynda was just behind Michelle in 4th place, and I’d managed to get 2nd! The down side of being 2nd versus 3rd was that I had to climb up onto a slightly higher podium. That was nothing though, compared with how high up Amelia had to get! I was gobsmacked when her distance was announced – just a touch under 130km! If only I’d tried a bit harder and run another 28km, I could have won!

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Thanks to Amelia for the picture. That’s me on the left, Amelia in the middle and Michelle on the right.

So that was pretty exciting! And for the second year in a row I finished second to a Victorian!

After that it was time to just chill out and support Kate and Tracey and the other 24 hour runners. I got my guitar out at one stage and messed around a little bit with a few chords (Kym, who is a bit of a muso himself, came back to see the end of the 12 hour and we had a bit of a chat about bar chords and other things I don’t know a lot about!) and Simon, legend that he is, went to Crust Pizza to get us some vegan pizza! Fellow member of Team Vegan, Greg also turned up with coffee! Another team member, Dave, was unable to run due to injury but did come and volunteer as well as taking some awesome photos – thanks Dave!

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A great photo from Dave! Me looking like I’m enjoying myself!

One of the things I had been looking forward to for some time was finally cracking open the bottle of vegan Baileys. Well known trail runner Wendy had happened to drop in at the right time, with dinner for Simon, and was more than happy to sample my wares! The verdict from everyone who tried it was that it was delicious – even the non-vegans! I think devout non-vegan Maurice even enjoyed it a little bit! (Now we just need to get them to sell it in Australia – it’s pretty expensive when you have to fly all the way to the USA to get it!)

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Thanks to Glen for this pic, taken on Sunday morning – one of Maurice’s brownies in one hand and the Baileys in the other! I’d actually only had a couple of shots (despite what my appearance may suggest!)

Before long I decided I wanted to try to sleep, and Sheena offered to put up the tent that Tracey had brought, so I could sleep in there. I gratefully accepted, and managed to catch a few hours kip in between hearing people shuffle past me, and the general chit chat from Team Vegan and Team Barry next door! I couldn’t really get comfortable, but I don’t think I would have been able to get comfortable in my own bed at this stage either!

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In the tent, still wearing my medal!

Probably around 5:30 I woke up, I could hear Susan, the first aid boss, in the tent next to me, asking people as they went past “Are you eating? Drinking? Weeing?”. I could hear something was going on in Team Vegan, I realised that something wasn’t right with Kate, and before too long I heard Susan calling for an ambulance! That didn’t sound good, but everyone seemed quite calm. Turned out she was having blood pressure issues and while she did go off in the ambulance to hospital, we got a message from her not long after saying that all was good after being put on a drip. She eventually made it back in time for the presentation which was good as she won a voucher for The Running Company in the lucky prize draw (you had to be there to claim a prize!)

 

I made my way to the food tent. Michelle had offered me a range of vegan slices during my 12 hour run but I said I’d wait till I was finished. Now I was finished so I made a point of sampling all of them. Most of them more than once (I had to be sure) – they were all delicious! And of course, I earned them!

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Photo from Glen – with awesome support crew and volunteer Simon!

Once the sun was up I decided I couldn’t face the gnarly portaloos anymore, so even thought it involved a fair bit of walking, I made my way to the proper, clean, toilets at the Adelaide Uni clubrooms! I think the walking actually helped relieve some of the stiffness!

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Don’t want to see this again for a VERY LONG TIME!

I snuck back out to Bakery On O’Connell for a coffee run and a few vegan pasties (breakfast of champions!) for myself and Simon!

One memorable moment from the closing stages of the 24 hour was getting to see Stephan running backwards! I can understand why – you get to use different muscles! Afterwards he estimated he had done about 1km in total backwards!

One of the pluses of staying overnight after finishing the 12 hour was getting to see the 24 hour runners through the middle of the night. Watching them made me decide I NEVER want to run the 24 hour. Although, I do want to do a 100 miler one day and I’m sure a trail miler is not in my future, so I guess I will have to do it eventually. Give me a few years!

First overall in the 24 hour was Tia, first male again was Barry (both of them cracking the 200km barrier), and Tracey ended up getting 3rd behind Anna (it was Anna’s first ever podium finish!)

I then hung around to help pack away (the benefit being I got to take home a container full of leftover vegan brownies!) and got home around 1pm! It was a long, exhausting but seriously rewarding couple of days!

From ‘never again’ I am now pretty much certain I’ll do the 12 hour again next year. Let’s call this year a ‘reconnaissance mission’ and I’ve learned a lot that will hopefully help me make it bigger and better next year!

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HUGE thanks to the following people (and massive apologies if I forgot anyone!)

  • Ben, the seemingly superhuman Race Director, for putting on yet another epic event!
  • All of the amazing volunteers who helped to make it all happen!
  • All of the other runners in the 6, 12 and 24 hour events for the chats, company and encouragement along the way!
  • All the supporters along the course – most of them were there to support one particular runner or group of runners but all of them gave encouragement to all the runners as they passed! Extra special thanks to Ciaran’s wife Jenny – you were the best, with encouragement every time I went past!
  • My wonderful support crew, Simon and Sheena and the rest of Team Vegan
  • My caffeine suppliers, Kate and Beck! Lifesavers!
  • All the people who dropped by to see me – including Mum and Dad, Robyn, Gary (who also ran with me briefly in his dress shoes!), and Voula (who ran with me after having completed her long run!)

Apparently 2018 entries open on Thursday…

 

No FOMO!

Because there are no photos to illustrate this week’s post, I have decided to ‘pretty’ it up with some (mostly nonsensical and completely irrelevant) words of ‘wisdom’ from my favourite new time-waster (and LOL generator) – inspirobot.me! (You’re welcome, by the way!)

19650159_662621423930065_1495688693_o

You know FOMO, right? Fear Of Missing Out.

Social media has a lot to answer for here. In the past you wouldn’t necessarily know what you were missing out on. But now you can’t even open Facebook or Instagram without seeing a post about somewhere you wish you were, and/or a race you wish you were running!

19686521_662620243930183_1018248232_o

This time last year, and the year before that, AND the year before that, I was up on the Gold Coast for marathon weekend. Not this year though. I know a lot of people who were there, and had no end of posts popping up on my news feed. The fact that the weather here in Adelaide this weekend has been spectacular (if a little chilly in the mornings) makes it a bit easier to see the pics of people up there in the sunshine!

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And you know what? Even if it had been raining all weekend, I think I’d still be OK with not being there! Been there, done that. Having said that, if I ever want to give Boston another crack, that’s where I’ll be going for my BQ!

Then there’s Yurrebilla. The Yurrebilla 56km ultra is the biggest ultra in SA in terms of participation, and one of my all time favourite events. I volunteered in 2014 and then ran it in 2015 and 2016.

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This weekend was the first of the 3 traditional training runs for Yurrebilla. Essentially, the course is split into 3 sections, so if you do all 3 runs you’ve seen the whole course. Unless, of course, a freak storm hits Adelaide a week and a half out from the event, rendering parts of the trail inaccessible and forcing a last-minute re-route. As if that would ever happen!

Given the ‘loopy ultra’ (as I like to call it) next weekend, I thought a little ‘time on legs’ was called for, so I had planned to run ‘back and out’ (starting at the finish, running back to the start to meet the main group and running with them back to the finish – about 36km all up). That was, until I realised that I was going out on Saturday night and probably wouldn’t be too keen on starting a run at 5:45, or even 8:00, for the standard distance, so I pulled the pin on that idea.

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Then I realised I would also miss the second run as I will be in Sydney. So, given that I find it hard to get motivated to do these kinds of runs on my own, that would leave just the final stage. Last year I was in the same boat and ended up doing stages 2 and 3 together (about 40km – a LONG day out!). I did an OK time in the event but I had been hoping for sub 7 hours (after having run 7:07 in 2015) – the extra hills in the re-route probably didn’t help my cause there!

So I came to the conclusion that I could either run it (with low expectations and minimal training), or I could just take this year off. And I opted for the latter – I’ll go out and volunteer this year, and get my trail legs primed for 2018!

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On Sunday morning, having done my long loopy run on Saturday, and waking up at a civilised time with nothing I had to get done (pure luxury!) I decided to head up to the finish of the training run to chat with fellow runners (spending most of my time in close proximity to the very welcome portable heater!). As I drove up the old Mount Barker Road I passed a number of runners (and some walkers) approaching the end of their run. And some who were on their way back down to the start at Belair! No FOMO! I got to the finish line ‘aid station’, kindly provided by super volunteers Mal and Merrilyn every year, and saw all the runners with their smiling faces and still no FOMO! It was a beautiful day for a run, too – but I made the most of it by getting out for a long walk to stretch the old legs after Saturday’s 3 hour training run.

So after this weekend I am confident I’ve made the right decision about Yurrebilla. And now I’ve said it here, it’s official (and the volunteer coordinator has undoubtedly already got me slotted into a role!)

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I’m pretty sure I won’t be experiencing any FOMO next Sunday morning either, wishing I’d done the 24 hour event instead of the shorter option. I ran intermittently with 24 hour entrant Tracey on Saturday, and I was complaining about having to get up at 4am for a 6am start, while she would get a nice sleep-in for the very civilised 10am start for the 24 hour. I then fast-forwarded to 4am Sunday, when I would be fast asleep in bed (hopefully) and she would still be going! So 4am on Saturday suddenly didn’t seem so bad!

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Do you have any FOMO stories?

No FOMO!

Because there are no photos to illustrate this week’s post, I have decided to ‘pretty’ it up with some (mostly nonsensical and completely irrelevant) words of ‘wisdom’ from my favourite new time-waster (and LOL generator) – inspirobot.me! (You’re welcome, by the way!)

19650159_662621423930065_1495688693_o

You know FOMO, right? Fear Of Missing Out.

Social media has a lot to answer for here. In the past you wouldn’t necessarily know what you were missing out on. But now you can’t even open Facebook or Instagram without seeing a post about somewhere you wish you were, and/or a race you wish you were running!

19686521_662620243930183_1018248232_o

This time last year, and the year before that, AND the year before that, I was up on the Gold Coast for marathon weekend. Not this year though. I know a lot of people who were there, and had no end of posts popping up on my news feed. The fact that the weather here in Adelaide this weekend has been spectacular (if a little chilly in the mornings) makes it a bit easier to see the pics of people up there in the sunshine!

19686630_662619533930254_1061596463_o

And you know what? Even if it had been raining all weekend, I think I’d still be OK with not being there! Been there, done that. Having said that, if I ever want to give Boston another crack, that’s where I’ll be going for my BQ!

Then there’s Yurrebilla. The Yurrebilla 56km ultra is the biggest ultra in SA in terms of participation, and one of my all time favourite events. I volunteered in 2014 and then ran it in 2015 and 2016.

19650463_662620483930159_1026362961_o

This weekend was the first of the 3 traditional training runs for Yurrebilla. Essentially, the course is split into 3 sections, so if you do all 3 runs you’ve seen the whole course. Unless, of course, a freak storm hits Adelaide a week and a half out from the event, rendering parts of the trail inaccessible and forcing a last-minute re-route. As if that would ever happen!

Given the ‘loopy ultra’ (as I like to call it) next weekend, I thought a little ‘time on legs’ was called for, so I had planned to run ‘back and out’ (starting at the finish, running back to the start to meet the main group and running with them back to the finish – about 36km all up). That was, until I realised that I was going out on Saturday night and probably wouldn’t be too keen on starting a run at 5:45, or even 8:00, for the standard distance, so I pulled the pin on that idea.

19686492_662620820596792_1268358542_o

Then I realised I would also miss the second run as I will be in Sydney. So, given that I find it hard to get motivated to do these kinds of runs on my own, that would leave just the final stage. Last year I was in the same boat and ended up doing stages 2 and 3 together (about 40km – a LONG day out!). I did an OK time in the event but I had been hoping for sub 7 hours (after having run 7:07 in 2015) – the extra hills in the re-route probably didn’t help my cause there!

So I came to the conclusion that I could either run it (with low expectations and minimal training), or I could just take this year off. And I opted for the latter – I’ll go out and volunteer this year, and get my trail legs primed for 2018!

19688342_662621537263387_1457803261_o

On Sunday morning, having done my long loopy run on Saturday, and waking up at a civilised time with nothing I had to get done (pure luxury!) I decided to head up to the finish of the training run to chat with fellow runners (spending most of my time in close proximity to the very welcome portable heater!). As I drove up the old Mount Barker Road I passed a number of runners (and some walkers) approaching the end of their run. And some who were on their way back down to the start at Belair! No FOMO! I got to the finish line ‘aid station’, kindly provided by super volunteers Mal and Merrilyn every year, and saw all the runners with their smiling faces and still no FOMO! It was a beautiful day for a run, too – but I made the most of it by getting out for a long walk to stretch the old legs after Saturday’s 3 hour training run.

So after this weekend I am confident I’ve made the right decision about Yurrebilla. And now I’ve said it here, it’s official (and the volunteer coordinator has undoubtedly already got me slotted into a role!)

19650508_662620223930185_2087918980_o

I’m pretty sure I won’t be experiencing any FOMO next Sunday morning either, wishing I’d done the 24 hour event instead of the shorter option. I ran intermittently with 24 hour entrant Tracey on Saturday, and I was complaining about having to get up at 4am for a 6am start, while she would get a nice sleep-in for the very civilised 10am start for the 24 hour. I then fast-forwarded to 4am Sunday, when I would be fast asleep in bed (hopefully) and she would still be going! So 4am on Saturday suddenly didn’t seem so bad!

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Do you have any FOMO stories?

Race report – Tower Trail Run Mount Gambier

There’s a theory – go in with low expectations and you won’t be disappointed.

I used this theory with some success on Thursday night when I went to see the recent three-peat premiership winning but now cellar-dwelling Hawks take on the top-of-the-table Crows at the Adelaide Oval. I was not particularly confident but hoping for a good contest. Against all odds (unbelievably paying $7.50 in a 2 horse race!) the Hawks managed to pull off a miracle win!
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Thursday night well spent!
I don’t often subscribe to this theory in running events. If I don’t expect to do well, I generally don’t run. (As evidenced by my recent ‘wussing out’ of the Mt Misery race, and to a lesser extent, the Cleland 50k).
This weekend was different. I’d been running laps around the 6 hour event course for the past 3 weeks, and it was time for a break from the monotony! Never mind that I have done next to no hills training (Sturt Gorge 6 weeks ago was probably the last time I ran any kind of trail).
But, it WAS an excuse for a weekend away with friends, so it was with little hesitation that I signed up for the 21.1km.
The course was a 10.5km loop, with the options being 1, 2 or 4 loops. The mathematicians among you may have worked out that 4 loops = a marathon. This was the first year that the Tower Trail Run included a marathon.
With running buddies Karen, Daryl and Wendy, I hit the road at reasonable o’clock on Friday for the drive to Mt Gambier. The journey was uneventful but I did insist on a rest stop at Coonawarra, which just happens to be one of Australia’s leading Cabernet Sauvignon regions. So, naturally there was some wine tasting (and subsequent purchasing) on the cards! Majella was our hydration stop and let’s just say it’s a good thing Karen and Daryl have an SUV with a big boot!
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When in Rome!

Our AirBNB accommodation was in a great location – before we headed out for dinner, we went for a walk to the parkrun start location where we’d be heading the following morning, and were pleased to find it was only an easy 7 minute walk away! (As it turned out, it was also walking distance to the Tower Trail Run start!)

The accommodation was nice – although my room was what appeared to be the back porch before an extension was built. It had no door (a doorway, but no door), it was a through room to the laundry, and there was a (frosted glass) window just above my bed, on the other side of which was the bathroom!
On Saturday morning we walked to parkrun and it seemed like half of Adelaide was there, including my Boston buddy Maree who happened to be in town for a party!
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Just a small part of the Adelaide contingent!
It was my second time doing Mt Gambier parkrun so it held no surprises for me (Maree was also a ‘veteran’) although I had forgotten that the first climb is practically right at the start!
The last time I’d been here was in December when the famous Blue Lake was at its picturesque blue best, and was constantly distracted by its beauty during the run! Now, it was more of a slate grey but I was still distracted, thanks to an amazing rainbow which seemed to end in the lake – I would have stopped and taken a photo had I brought my phone with me!
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Luckily Kristy had her phone with her to capture the rainbow!
I ran most of it with Andy, one of the guys from SRG (Adelaide’s Southern Running Group), until he took off at the end – a few of the guys who had already finished were egging me on to chase him but I was ‘supposed’ to be taking it easy so I declined. Turned out he was just trying to get under 25 minutes, which he did, as did I. And Maree was first female!
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parkrun pic courtesy of Sputnik!
As per tradition we gathered at the fantastic Metro Cafe and Bakery for coffee and some pretty spectacular looking cakes!
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The parkrun crew pretty much took over the entire place! Pic from the Mount Gambier parkrun Facebook page.

 

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Karen trying to pick just one!
We ended up booking in there for dinner as well, as they have a good vegan-friendly menu.
In the afternoon we headed to check out Mt Schank. You can hike down to the bottom but we decided to save that for AFTER the run! The weather was pretty perfect on Saturday afternoon, though!
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Living on the edge!
I had an email from our AirBNB host, checking if everything was OK. I asked if there were any spare blankets, as it had been a little cold on Friday night. Later that afternoon she turned up unexpectedly with 3 brand new faux mink blankets which were much appreciated!
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Wine, cakes and warm blankets! Yep – we know how to party on a Saturday night!
Sunday morning was chilly but fortunately there was no rain at that stage, so we were able to walk to the start/finish line. We were all doing the half marathon which had a very civilised start time of 8:30! The marathon had started at 7, just before it got light.
My pre-race preparation was nothing out of the ordinary other than a fair bit of angst and swearing while trying to put on my new gaiters – this would be my first time ever using gaiters. I had brought a singlet, T-shirt and long sleeved top with me, so I could decide on the morning what would be best. In the end I went with the T-shirt and arm warmers, as well as gloves. Sunnies did not look like they would be needed but I thought it best to take them just in case. Ditto with my cap, which would also keep rain (which was forecast) out of my eyes!
With plenty of time to spare we made the short walk to the large permanent concrete shelter that served as the start/finish area. It was the ideal spot, with plenty of parking nearby, several permanent toilets (as well as portaloos!) and ample shelter. And the obligatory coffee van, which I was looking forward to patronising after the race!
We got to see most of the marathoners coming past during the time we waited for our start. There were plenty of familiar faces among them, including Mick and Howard at the pointy end! Howard’s partner and support crew Pauline had kindly offered to look after our bags for us while we ran!
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Here’s me collecting my bib – Gary was there ready with the camera, as always!
I ran with my small race vest and 500ml of Gatorade – I probably could have got by without anything but I like to be able to keep going without needing to stop at drink stations. Having the vest also allowed me to carry a light rain jacket just in case. With minimal weight in the pack it felt like wearing ‘Nothing at all!’
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Ready to roll!
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With the rest of the crew! Thanks to Wendy for this pic!

We got started at 8.30 and very quickly we were running uphill. The race started on road, and a few of the marathoners passed us coming back the other way. One of them was Graham, who has a very distinctive running style. We greeted each other, and he said he could spot me from a mile away – I replied ‘I could say the same about you!’

At first I was running with Glen, one of the SRG runners, but it wasn’t long before he was ahead of me. I intentionally started conservatively. I had not much idea of what to expect, having not studied the course beforehand. I just didn’t see much point!
The course was interesting, challenging and scenic. Being 2 laps, I used the first lap as a bit of a ‘reccy’. Quite early on I saw Sputnik, who took a pic of me and said “There’s one for your blog!” to which I replied that I was looking for suitable selfie spots on the first lap, then I’d actually take photos second time around!
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Thanks to Sputnik for this great pic!
There were stairs, which I quickly realised I was better off walking up rather than trying to run. Alongside the stairs I’d generally find a well-worn mud track, which I figured out was sometimes easier to walk or jog up than the uneven stairs.
There were also some nice downhill bits – some nice wide flat dirt track which I could fly down, and others that were a bit treacherous with moss and tree roots, and I had to exercise caution.
And of course there were uphills – some short and sharp and some longer but not too steep, both of which I would try to run up. The longer steep hills I wouldn’t even attempt to run.
I kept my gloves on until about 6km in, and during one of the long steep climbs I had time to take off my pack and put them in there, to save having to carry them. Another reason why the pack was worth having!
The course was impeccably marked. I could always see the pink tape in the trees or on the fence to signify that I was on the right track. And there were arrows and ‘Wrong Way’ X signs wherever there might be some ambiguity. This was particularly helpful on my second lap, especially just after passing the start/finish line where Nikki, one of the awesome Race Directors along with husband Phil who also happens to be the man behind Mt Gambier parkrun, was announcing all the runners as they passed by – a lovely touch! As I started my second lap I was on my own, and the route I’d run just over an hour earlier now felt unfamiliar! I was a bit confused when I started to see half marathoners as well as marathoners coming back the other way – I hadn’t recalled that on the first lap, but the pink tape let me know I was on the right track!
There were plenty of marshals out there as well as frequent drink stations – a very well supported event! FABULOUS volunteers and in a lovely touch, they all got medals too, with special ‘VOLUNTEER’ ribbons.
I had gone in with no real expectations and not really even a time goal, although it’s funny how these things change when you cross the start line! Initially I had said ‘sub 3 hours’ as a conservative goal. However, cutoff time for the half was 3 hours 50 – I would normally be WELL under cutoff time so I thought maybe 3 hours was a bit TOO conservative! I had 2.5 hours in my mind but, not knowing the course and knowing that going up hills is definitely a weakness, I wasn’t sure how realistic that was. I ran the first lap without exerting myself TOO much, knowing I had to do it all over again. I only occasionally looked at my watch, mainly to see how much further I had to go, not so much to look at time or pace. I had forgotten to turn off my pace alerts from training – consequently my watch was beeping at me every time I went under 5:30 and over 6:00 minutes per kilometre (which was often!)
I was pleasantly surprised to reach the halfway mark in just over 1 hour 10 minutes. That gave me roughly a 10 minute buffer for the second lap to still run 2:30. I was expecting to run the second lap slower but not 10 minutes slower, so I was pretty confident.
I wasn’t racing anyone else, although every time I passed another woman I did try to sneak a look at her bib colour. There was one girl ahead of me for quite a long time who I eventually passed going up a hill on lap 2 – after I passed her I noted she was a half marathoner but actually I was thinking more of an age group placing than an overall placing! I was one of 7 in my age group so I was hoping for a top 3 placing there. As far as I could tell, an overall podium finish was out of the question!
Not long into lap 2 I was passed by Mick, the eventual winner of the marathon, on his final lap. He was well ahead of Howard who ended up finishing second, and in fact Mick was the only marathoner who passed me. He called out to me before he passed me – he must have recognised me from my signature striped arm warmers – and congratulated me on Boston before flying off into the distance! Well, actually I kept him in sight for a time, and was heartened to see him walking up one of the steep hills, but by the time I got to the top of the hill and back on the flat, he was long gone!
One of my favourite bits was a downhill section that was all stairs. A few people I encountered on the second lap were having knee and calf issues which were aggravated by the downhill (and down stair) sections, but I was able to get into a good rhythm, and the evenness of the stairs meant that, even though I was being a bit cautious (it had been raining on my second lap, so everything was a bit more slippery), I could get up some decent speed. There was even a photographer at the bottom of the stairs who would have got some great shots! (I made sure I gave my nose a quick wipe with my sleeve before getting to him on the second lap – didn’t want any errant boogers ruining my race photos! Although, when I said that to the photographer, he jokingly replied “That’s what Photoshop is for!”)
Speaking of race photos, I had decided that on my second lap I would stop for a quick selfie at the Centenary Tower, after which the race was named. However, as it turned out, I didn’t need to, as a photographer had been posted there! He was asking everyone to stop for a couple of photos – given that it was at the end of a fairly long climb, I wasn’t exactly moving that fast anyway, so stopping was not an issue – I think he got some great shots too!
It was all (mostly) downhill from there.  I started passing a lot of 10k run/walkers and some marathoners too. With only 1k or so to go, I caught up with Glen who informed me that he thought I was in 6th or 7th place. I decided to go for it in that last kilometre and once I reached the 2 girls with the cowbells (who really added hugely to the atmosphere – thanks girls!) I picked up the pace and (politely of course) passed everyone I could, including one familiar face in Ros, who was in the 10k event.
Before too long I could hear the finish line festivities and knew I was nearly there! Up ahead I saw a familiar figure in Graham. I realised I would need to pass him so snuck past him to keep my momentum going. He realised who it was and he wasn’t having any of that, so he picked up the pace and practically sprinted past me to the finish line and into the aid station, me giving chase but unable to catch him! After receiving my awesome medal, I went to jokingly have a go at him for making me sprint, and was gobsmacked when he told me he still had a lap to go! I had assumed he was finished!
A little later, his partner Vivienne told me she’d seen him a little further up the road and he’d said he was regretting the sprint finish! I was looking forward to exacting some ‘revenge’ when he came back on his final lap!
I had finished in just over 2 hours 20. In fact, when I later checked my results, I had managed a marginal negative split by around 16 seconds (I guess, in part, I have Graham to thank for that!) – well beyond expectations! I ended up in 5th place out of the women – less than 5 seconds behind 4th (thanks again to Graham!) and less than 2 minutes behind 3rd place! And I did manage to place first in my age group too – all of that was just a bonus. More importantly I had a most enjoyable run, got out of it unscathed and did a surprisingly good time considering my lack of recent trail running! I had started to think I just wasn’t cut out for trail running, even though I really enjoy it! I don’t imagine I’ll ever be a podium contender but to be able to go out there and do reasonably well and enjoy every minute is encouraging!
I’d only drunk one of my two Gatorade bottles during the race (250ml in total) so I finished that off after having annihilated a can of Coke and a long black – then I eagerly devoured the nut bar I’d brought with me! (I’d been thinking about the nut bar from about halfway through the race but when I finished, all I could think about was Coke and coffee!)
Not long after that Karen and then Wendy finished, both happy with their runs – both under 3 hours. Daryl was still out there and unfortunately got caught up in a pretty heavy shower! Eventually we saw him coming in the distance and gave him a great reception as he finished! Not long before Daryl, Kristy crossed the line, also to a great cheer, and she was also very happy with how she went!
I decided to head along the course to meet up with Graham, being careful not to go near any of the timing equipment, given that I was still wearing my race bib! It wasn’t long before I saw him coming, quickly passing my bib to the marshal to look after for a minute, before chasing Graham to the finish!
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Graham still managed a jump at the finish line despite me making him work for it! (That’s me in the grey hoodie behind him!) Thanks to Howard for this awesome shot!
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With ‘nemesis’ (his words!) Graham!

We were all getting pretty cold by then so headed back to the house to get into some warm clothes and defrost! And of course, eat all of the things!

Unlike most of the Adelaide people we opted to stay another night in the Mount and have a leisurely drive back on Monday – including another winery stop of course – this time at Wynn’s!
On Sunday afternoon we went for a drive to Port Macdonnell for chips by the sea while watching kiteboarders. Karen and I had a disagreement about feeding chips to the circling seagulls (she was pro, I was very anti, and of course I was right!) before heading back to town for the perfect recovery meal, takeaway from Gourmet India and red bubbles from Majella!
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Bling and bubbles. Need I say more?
It was a fantastic weekend all around – and just a wonderful, scenic, friendly and enjoyable event. I hope to be back again to do it all again next year and would recommend it to anyone who loves trail running! I won’t do the marathon – 4 laps of that course is just not for me, but I would absolutely do the half again!
Congratulations and thanks again to Phil, Nikki and all the amazing volunteers for making it all possible!

 

Mixing it up…

I’m finding inspiration hard to come by when it comes to writing this blog every week – as I outlined in last week’s post, I have pulled out of events the last 2 weekends, and events are so much easier to write about than nebulous concepts!

At the moment my only real focus is the 6 hour event in just under 3 weeks. My training has been going well, and I’ve done 3 long training runs around the Uni Loop (the venue for the race) over the last 3 weekends. So it’s pretty safe to say there’s not an inch of that track I don’t know!

A ‘typical’ week for me would consist of 10-12k on Tuesday and Thursday (one of those, usually Thursday, at a faster pace), speed training on Friday, usually a parkrun on Saturday and a long run on Sunday. Interspersed with that would be 2 Pump classes at the gym and if I can fit it in, a BodyBalance class sometime over the weekend.

Since I did my last speed session on Friday a week ago, I have decided to skip the Friday run altogether, at least until after the 6 hour is over.

Prior to starting speed training just over a year ago, I would go out and run hills with the SARRC Burnside group. After I started speed work, I had intended to alternate between speed and hills each Friday, but as it has turned out, I have only been to 1 or 2 hills sessions in the past year. I have found speed training really helpful – I am sure it contributed to me running PBs for 10k and the marathon last year.

However, thinking about the event to come, I don’t think either speed or hills is what I need!

The Uni Loop is ostensibly flat (although, the small speed bump of elevation feels like a mountain after you’ve run it for about the 20th time!) although Strava very generously credited me with 800m elevation over about 41k last week!

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In addition, assuming I was aiming to run 60km, I would need to average 6 minute kilometres over the 6 hours. On paper that sounds reasonably doable, and I have done it before, and speed is not something that is really required for this type of event!

I was having a chat about this with some friends during my Thursday run last week – saying that I was looking to find something else to do on a Friday morning instead of speed or hills (and instead of running altogether, probably) and one of my friends made a somewhat hilarious suggestion.

“How about a rest day?”

I laughed. I think she knew when she said it that it was ridiculous and of course I wasn’t going to do that. Rest days are something I have just before and just after a big event.

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So, given that it’s too cold (in my mind) for swimming, and I don’t own a bike (yet), I thought a 6am cycle class at the gym was just the ticket! It would involve a slight sleep-in compared to speed training (my alarm was set for 5am) and it would be indoors which meant I didn’t need to wear all of the layers! My friend Beck decided to come along as well, both of us having not done a cycle class in MANY years!

I did take it relatively easy but it was surprising how sweaty I was at the end of the 45 minutes, even if I didn’t feel like I’d worked as hard as I might have! I was grateful that I’d managed to find my gel bike seat from all those years ago because I’m sure my ‘sitting bones’ would have made sitting difficult for a few days otherwise!

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And an added bonus was that after a quick shower it was only a couple of minutes down the road to join the Friday running group for their traditional post-run coffee (they very generously still let me come, even though I don’t run Fridays with them now!)

I didn’t parkrun this week as I was Run Director, so by the time my Sunday long run rolled around, I’d had 2 full days off from running. And of the 3 long loopy runs I’ve done, this one was probably the most comfortable and pace-wise it was the fastest!

So, I think I’ve got the balance right for now – just need to keep it up for another 3 weeks!