A brief update…

I’ve been a bit slack on the writing front!

Running-wise, I am now up to 3 runs per week, 2 of 45 minutes and 1 of 30 minutes. Next week, all going well, I’ll be up to 3 x 45 minutes. And when my regular running groups start up again (with the COVID-19 restrictions gradually easing from Monday, I imagine it won’t be too far away) I’m hoping to be able to join them!

I am lucky enough to still have a job, ‘business as unusual’ as they say, and to still be able to GO to work rather than the dreaded WFH (I say dreaded because if I were to be working from home I could go days without seeing another human – turns out I needs my human contact!)

Other than at work, I don’t see people IRL other than my family, but I do love randomly running into people I know, and I do mean running into, because it almost always happens when I’m running (or occasionally walking through the cemetery at lunchtime – always lovely to see you Deb!)

I’ve signed out of my Facebook and Instagram accounts and turned off my notifications. Best thing I ever did! There was way too much negativity and scaremongering on Facebook in particular, and it was almost ALL COVID-19 related. Now I just check a few news sites once or twice a day (ABC is a good one) and limit my mindless scrolling.

My hairdresser closed (temporarily I hope!) the day before my last appointment so it’s now been nearly 12 weeks since my last cut and colour. I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands – I’m not quite game to cut it myself (when I do it will be #2 clippers) but I thought what better time to try something a bit different…

I haven’t really experienced any boredom from ‘lockdown’ – because I’m still working full time and commuting, I’ve just got evenings and weekends to fill. I still have a lot of books left to read (and many I’d love to re-read) and a similar story with my DVD collection. There’s also the recently-discovered joy of the streaming service (I know, a bit late to the party, but what better time to rock up?) – I’m now up to Season 6 of The Office on Amazon Prime and have also finally got around to watching The Godfather trilogy (first two WOW, third one less so!) and a few other great movies including The Big Lebowski and No Country For Old Men.

I’ve also been getting REALLY into music. I’m still playing my piano and guitars, although not every day, but I’m really committed to the drums, practising every day since I got my first kit. I’m now planning to buy an acoustic kit (I’ll keep the electronic one for evening and early morning practice, of course!)

(I’ve also managed to save a bit of money AND annual leave, and with my planned US trip in October looking less likely than Donald Trump saying something intelligent, I reckon when I eventually get to go, I might be able to afford to do it in style!)

That’s about it for now, I’ll update in another month or so, or if I have something interesting to report!

Opportunity knocks!

Seems a bit weird to be talking about opportunities when each day more and more places/activities/events are being cancelled or shut down? Stick with me!

First things first, I should provide a running update! This week I was cleared to start running solidly for 30 minutes, and yesterday, for the first time in over 6 months, I ran nonstop for 30 minutes!

Since resuming running in January I’ve done most of my running either around the oval or the Uni Loop, to avoid having to stop for traffic like I would on a road run. With social distancing being the new normal, I find the Uni Loop is a bit busier than I’d like, so I think I’ll be sticking with early morning oval runs for now! (Although, it seems more people are getting the same idea – it’s quite busy on the oval too now!)

A lot of people are now going to have to adapt to solo running after being used to running in groups, with all the running groups being put on hold and running events being cancelled. For me it just means continuing doing what I’ve been doing, because I haven’t got back to any of my groups and events are a long way off! The only thing I’m really missing out on is parkrun (insert sad face here) although I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be doing it right now even if it was on!

As we all know, this is a temporary situation. It could be a long temporary, but eventually we will be able to go out freely and socialise again and won’t we all appreciate it then!

For now, we have to work out different +/- innovative ways of doing the things we love! This is where the ‘opportunity’ bit comes in!

I don’t especially like talking on the phone, I think it’s because I like using my hands and also I use sarcasm a bit, and without face to face contact it’s easy to be misunderstood! So staying in touch with friends by phone instead of in person doesn’t really excite me, however I am pretty excited about trying out the group video chat apps. Imagine being able to go to a party with friends and not have to worry about how you’re getting home? Amazing! So there’s an opportunity right there – after this I may never want to go out again!

The other big opportunity I can see is time on our hands, with a lot of our regular activities off the cards, to try new things. Sure, the options are a bit limited, but what better time to learn a new skill, new language, finally get around to doing stuff around the house… so many things we can do if we focus on what we still can do rather than what we can’t!

6 months ago when I last had a lot of time on my hands (and was mostly limited to seated activities) I was planning to buy or rent an electronic drumkit. I soon realised I had plenty to do to fill my day, and the drums fell by the wayside.

Then last weekend, with the threat of lockdown looming, I put the call out on social media, asking my friends if I should buy an electronic drumkit. The response was a resounding ‘YES!’ and as luck would have it one of my friends had a second hand kit she was wanting to sell very cheaply! I got it, started taking some online lessons and I’m pretty sure I’m hooked now! (And my neighbours will be very grateful that I haven’t figured out how to make it make noise other than through headphones!)

I’m interested to know, are you trying something new during these ‘interesting’ times? Any suggestions?

Warning: mostly non-running content…

Mostly words and few pictures, sorry!

It’s been a little while since my last post – yes I admit I have been a slacker on that front.

I have upgraded my running – from 4 weeks of 20 minutes of 1:00 run and 4:00 walk, I have now been doing 30 minutes of 2:00 run/3:00 walk for the past 2 weeks. I reckon I need 1 more week of that and I’ll flip the run/walk intervals around. Still a long way from a marathon but plenty of time for that! Oh and the best bit is that after 5 months I finally started doing parkrun again – oh the joy!

And I got to see this again for the first time in FOREVER!

OK so there’s not much more to say about running so let’s talk about some other stuff. Because there’s more to life, right?

I have nearly finished Season 4 of The Office. Unfortunately I have no more DVDs after season 4 so next it’s either a box set (yeah, people still do buy DVDs!) or a Netflix/Stan/Amazon Prime subscription. If you, like me, have been living under a rock for the past 15 years and haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favour! (I think I appreciate it even more now that I work in an actual office!)

Let’s not forget one of the other joys of life, music! A couple of weeks ago I bought a last minute ticket to see Alice Cooper who is still killing it after over 50 years!

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Queen and Adam Lambert live for the third (and hopefully not last) time! I was a bit dubious about Adelaide Oval as a venue, although I had previously seen 3 very excellent bands there in AC/DC, the Rolling Stones and Guns N’Roses – personally I think the sound and atmosphere is much better in an indoor, more ‘intimate’ space – however I was not disappointed with the show and the venue! Only with the old stick-in-the-mud who had a go at me for standing up during We Will Rock You (in the freaking ENCORE! She’s lucky I sat down up until that point!) – give me standing tickets any day!

I only took a couple of photos – this one doesn’t come close to doing it justice but the light show during ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ was a showstopper!

In a couple of weeks I have the privilege of seeing The Darkness at the ultimate intimate venue, The Gov – all standing, Thankyou very much! And I only recently found out that their drummer is the son of Queen’s Roger Taylor – quite the pedigree! A few months later I’ve got Iron Maiden and Faith No More, both at the Entertainment Centre – can’t wait! (And hopefully there’ll be another gig or 2 for me to go to when I finally get to the USA in October!)

I’ve really got into eco stuff, recycling, decluttering, all that stuff! I am going to see how long I can go between putting out my red bin (landfill) – last time it went out was 15 December and it’s not even close to half full! My recycling bin hasn’t gone out since 5 January and I reckon it’ll be another fortnight until it’s full. I try to avoid buying ANYTHING in plastic, and I get all my dry goods/cleaning products from bulk stores. It’s a little thing but every little bit helps! (And I hope SA soon follows in the footsteps of some Victorian councils and introduces a 4th bin for glass recycling!

Oh and of course it’s Fringe time again so plenty of eclectic shows as usual! Music, comedy, cabaret, even a Silent Disco walking tour – you name it! Great time of year in Adelaide, especially now the car race is over!

That’ll do for now – see you out running somewhere, or at a gig soon!

It begins…

I’m allowed to run now! YAY!

It’s only 20 minutes of 1 min run/4 min walk, every second day…

But it’s still RUNNING!

Next stop: parkrun! (OK maybe parkWALK but still…)

Once a loopy runner, always a loopy runner!

Perspective!

So today I got the all clear to start walking (just short distances) without crutches.

So that’s pretty great!
I didn’t bother asking the doctor if I could do parkrun this Saturday! Well, she didn’t say I COULDN’T!
She got me to stand on my left leg, and I couldn’t balance for some reason!
I’m keeping the crutches in the car now.
Things I have done in the past month.

Flown interstate, 4 flights in total. Given the sticks and the impossibility of carrying or pushing around a suitcase, I had to drag out my old backpack from my early backpacking days. It did force me to be a bit more circumspect about packing than I normally am! The only real issue was the one flight from Canberra to Melbourne on the ATR 72 with the walk across the tarmac and boarding via the very steep back steps. I decided to get on the lift to get back down at the other end. That was fun!

Went to the Pink Ball Test Match at Adelaide Oval for 4 days, up and down steps (my choice – there’s plenty of accessible seating.) Big plus – being able to use the disabled parking area right outside the gate. Minus – being unable to carry a drink so requiring other people to get them for me!

Prior to the cricket I went to the annual Members’ Test Match Dinner – fantastic night, I managed to wear stilettos and not fall over, and we were lucky enough to get a Rock Star Table right up the front!

Last weekend I went to see an 80s cover band at the Gov, the crutches did get in the way a bit (it was a bit hard to wave my hands in the air without the risk of taking someone out!) but despite that, it was a great night!

More parkrun volunteering, plenty more coffees and lunches! (And black and purple ice cream on a 40 degree day!)

Started swimming, overdid it a bit in the first few weeks, had a few weeks off and just started up again. As of today I am now allowed to start using my legs! Didn’t stop me from recording a 33 second 100m split yesterday (to put that in perspective, the current MALE world record for 100m is just under 45 seconds). Maybe I have a new career ahead of me!

I know I’m a bit late to the party but I’ve just finished watching the first 2 seasons of The Office. Such a great show!

Oh and the BBL starts tonight so there’s the next month taken care of!
For the next month I’ll be gradually building up the amount of walking I do, and starting to do some hip muscle strengthening, with a view to maybe starting a bit of gentle run/walking in 4-6 weeks.
Where’s that perspective?
It’s certainly going to come in handy when I eventually get back to my proper job, this experience will give me a much better perspective of what it’s like to be one of my clients (and I won’t have to hear the old “Oh, you wouldn’t know what it’s like! You’re young and (relatively speaking) fit!” Well, actually…
It’s only been a few hours, so I haven’t experienced all the joys yet, but here are a few that spring immediately to mind!
  • The joys of being able to just walk from one room to the other! I just know that when I wake up tomorrow I’m going to wonder where those damn things are!
  • Going out to lunch and not having to select seats based on where I can put the sticks without them getting in the way!
  • Being able to carry stuff!
That’s probably about it for now – see you in another month or so!

From ‘athlete’ to sloth – aka ‘The Summer Of Jane’

Hey friends, it’s been a while, and although very little has been going on in my world since my last post, I thought it would be nice to post a little update in case anyone is interested!

If you’re a Seinfeld fan you may understand ‘The Summer Of Jane’. If not – Google ‘The Summer Of George’. Basically, George gets a 3 month ‘holiday’ from work and starts with all these grand plans of what he was going to do with his time, and finishes up as a sloth!

So last time we met, I had just been diagnosed with a fracture of the pelvis and had been instructed to do minimal weightbearing on the affected left side, no lifting, no swimming or cycling, basically no exercise at all, with the possible exception of some light seated upper body exercises.

I did go to the gym once. It was a logistical nightmare – while I could lift 4kg dumbbells sitting down, I somehow had to get them from the weight rack to the seat. So I put my gym membership on hold for a few months.

I bought a set of crutches (the thinking being that it would be cheaper than hiring them for 8 or more weeks – not that I was expecting to need them long term). I definitely made the right choice with the elbow crutches – have you ever used underarm crutches? I have. Forget about it! The big advantage is that I can let go of them to do stuff, and they stay attached to my arms. They say you have to have slightly more upper body strength to use them, but if you can manage them, they’re definitely the way to go. (Interestingly, I read that elbow crutches are the preferred option in most of the world, except for our friend America. Over there, they are specifically for people with long term disabilities. Another good reason I didn’t go over there with them!)
I kind of figured that dragging myself around on crutches was more than enough upper body workout without having to go to the gym. I’m fully expecting to end up with Michelle Obama arms!
Oh, and I wore out a pair of crutch tips after 7 weeks. I’m going to say it’s because the crutches are cheap and nasty and not because I’ve been walking too much!
OK now to the plus sides of having to use crutches to get around.
Disabled parking, aka ‘rock star parking’. I don’t use it all the time, only if there isn’t a normal park close by – the proximity to where I am going, is more important in my case than the size of the park. Although, given that I am unable to unlock my door from the driver side, the extra width does come in handy sometimes! (And before you ask, yes I do have a permit!) Free parking in the city is also a bonus, although I don’t go in there too often – again I’m not supposed to walk too much, and going to town invariably requires a fair bit of walking!
People are generally pretty courteous – opening doors (although I have worked out a pretty good method of doing it myself) and bringing coffees to me rather than me having to carry them (Spoiler alert – I can’t carry a coffee!) A couple of times at winery cellar doors I was looked after very well – special shout out to Alpha Box & Dice where we were seated on a very comfy lounge chair and the guy brought the wines to us rather than me having to flamingo at the bar!
I have to get help with putting the bins out/bringing them in, doing my weekly shopping, putting clean linen on the bed, and washing my sheets/towels. HATE THAT! Luckily for me I am able to do everything else I needed to around the house. And If I need just a few things I can manage a small shop myself. The first time I put the goods in my backpack to carry them, but then I decided that was a bad idea. Although I don’t think that anyone would suspect I wasn’t going to pay for them, it would be a pretty damn good scam if I was dodgy!
Carrying stuff around the house is the biggest problem. I did fashion a carrying tray out of a (never used) kitty litter tray, reusable bag, bulldog clip and a lanyard, and that worked well the one time I used it, but I didn’t trust if for anything heavier. Consequently I ended up eating a lot of meals sat at the kitchen bench (which I often do anyway, as I usually end up with a cat or two on me or in my food if I sit on the lounge!)
I spent the first week or so trying to find a plastic stool so I could sit in the shower to wash the lower part of my right leg (the only bit I couldn’t do standing up, because I can’t stand on my left leg) – you know those plastic stools that are shaped kind of like an hourglass? Many’s the time I’ve seen them in client’s houses and advised them against using them in the shower for safety reasons. But do you think I could find one? In the end I managed to find one from IKEA (I did have to assemble it myself but it was one of your easier assemblies!) which worked a treat!
Logistics aside, probably the thing that concerned me most in the beginning was, what the hell am I going to do? No work, no running, minimal walking – doesn’t leave a lot, does it?
Firstly I set myself a few rules. One, once I got out of bed in the morning (which was usually quite early as my cats would need feeding), I would close the door and not go back in there until bedtime. Two, no TV until 6pm (except on weekends if there was sport on, of course! And if there’s cricket on during the week, of course that’s an exception too!) Three, I have to leave the house every day, even if it’s just for a coffee!
Coinciding with the start of my leave was the Adelaide 6 Day event – a running event that is of absolutely no interest to me in terms of participating, but was a great way to spend a few hours each day, hanging out at the track, cheering on the runners and chatting with the volunteers and supporters.
Coffee. Well, maximum 2 cups a day, and never at home (I currently don’t have any coffee in the house). If I didn’t have a post-run coffee group to join in with (Thursday and Sunday are regular days) or a friend to catch up with, I’d try out a few new local coffee shops each week. We are definitely spoiled for choice!
Going out for lunch on a weekday is a rare treat, something I have managed to do quite a few times! And I even got to go to a “Not The Melbourne Cup” lunch that was catered by my favourite vegan Greek food truck (Staazi and Co – is there another one?)
I don’t normally watch a lot of TV but given that I don’t have to get up early for running or gym, I stay up a lot later than usual so I watch a bit more TV than I normally do. (I really got into the later seasons of ‘Two And A Half Men’ and also ‘The Office’)
One thing I was doing before that I am thankfully still able to do, is sort of play a bit of piano and guitar. I can now play pretty much the whole of Bohemian Rhapsody on piano (not particularly well, but you’d be able to recognise it!)
I tried colouring in. I bought a couple of books, one which was a Monet book. As you can see from the picture, I am not about to quit my day job!

I did a couple of jigsaws. I found I couldn’t sit and do it all day, 90 minutes at a time was about the max! I did 2 1000 piece puzzles (with the ‘help’of my cats), the first one took me a week and the second one 9 days.

I’ve done a bit of tidying up around the house – sorting through papers, books, CDs, DVDs. I got rid of a box that had been in my lounge room for 6 years. (That box contained my 72 Derwent pencils from school – which was my inspiration for trying colouring!)

I managed to cull 4 boxes of work stuff down to 1, using the scanning app on my phone and ditching the hard copies once I’d scanned them. That was VERY satisfying (and cleared my dining table so I could do jigsaws!)
I’ve made a few trips (OK, a lot of trips) to second hand book stores and op shops – partly to donate stuff, but mostly to buy more stuff. I could have spent a lot of money at the Lions Bookmart in Tusmore, the Oxfam shop in the city, the OG Book Exchange in Klemzig, and 2 different Savers stores. Luckily for my bank balance, I was limited to buying what I could carry!

I read a lot! I’m not normally a big reader but I can happily sit all day on the couch reading and listening to Triple M Hard N’ Heavy. I mix it up between mostly novels and biographies. In particular in the beginning I was looking for inspiration in the form of stories about people who have overcome challenges far greater than what I am currently dealing with!

Special mention to Adelaide’s own SJ Morgan’s new novel ‘Hide’ – I went to the book launch on a Sunday afternoon and had finished reading the book by midday the next day – genuinely unputdownable!

To stay in touch with all things running, I volunteered at a few events (Heysen 105 and Cleland trail championships) as well as at a few different parkruns – running or not, Saturday is ALWAYS parkrun day! It’s a great way to keep involved when you can’t participate yourself – the free coffee is just a bonus!

I started a social media detox. Initially, because I wasn’t enjoying seeing everyone’s running posts. And although I’m sure I have missed out on a lot of news and events, it was actually really great. I hate to think how much time I’ve wasted in the past on mindless scrolling! Instead of the aforementioned scrolling and posting about every incredibly tedious thing I was doing (actually, I don’t think I post THAT much) I’m focusing on actual proper human interaction and doing stuff. I highly recommend it!

2 months down and another month to go before I can get rid of the sticks and hopefully start walking. On the plus side(s), I am now allowed to start swimming, AND the cricket is on.

So hopefully soon this screen on my watch will stop taunting me!

Well that’s about it from me – might post another update around Christmas time!

Change of plans…

So, it turns out I’m not running Chicago Marathon anymore. Or New York. Or even going to the USA for 5 weeks. Instead I am on my couch watching crappy daytime TV – yay!

I think it goes back to the 24 hour race in July, and the training that led up to it. The training and the race all went really well, and I eased back into running not too long afterwards.

4 weeks after the 24hr I ran a respectable half marathon.

After 8 weeks I did my first trail race in ages and had a fantastic run.

5 days after that I had a twinge in my hip during a run which steadily got worse (thought it was an adductor muscle), walk/jogged the rest of the way, and contemplated not running the City-Bay Half Marathon that Sunday. I got on the Voltaren and rested and it seemed to have settled so I turned up to run on Sunday.

I managed to run 1km super slow and it flared up again so I decided to walk/run the rest of the way. Whatever it was, there was the possibility I might have to run/walk Chicago and NYC so this would be good practice. I tried to run a few times but it just wasn’t happening so I decided to walk the rest of it. I really wanted that medal! (Plus, I’ve never DNFed and I certainly wasn’t going to start now!)

The 21.1km took me 3 hours 10 minutes I was very close to last place. But I got there. (And I wasn’t last!)

Last piece of bling I’ll be earning for a long time!

Once I’d sat down in Nat’s car for the drive back to her place (from where we had carpooled) I could hardly walk – I managed to get home and put my feet up on the couch for the rest of the day.

On Monday Beck messaged me telling me I needed an MRI ASAP as she strongly suspected a pelvic stress fracture. Wednesday I got the MRI. If you’ve never had an MRI before, it’s vey loud so they give you headphones with music to distract you from the noise. The first song I heard was Bon Jovi’s ‘Keep The Faith’ which I thought was a good omen.

It was not. Beck’s suspicions were correct. Chicago was out, NYC would be a walk at best.

On Friday Beck had received the MRI results and essentially there was no chance of walking NYC. It wasn’t just your standard stress fracture – the bone had broken right through in one place and a second stress fracture could result in an unstable pelvis if it progresses to a full fracture. She indicated that the likely management would be minimal weight bearing for at least 8 weeks.

Initially I was keen to go ahead with the trip – there were a lot of things I WOULD be able to do – but over time things started to pop into my head. Getting around airports, wrangling luggage. shopping, stairs, bunk beds… All would be tricky if I was essentially on one leg!

So I decided that if I was to be on crutches I would postpone the trip – I deferred my Chicago entry to 2020 so I would not need to re-qualify. (Having said that, there is no guarantee I will be able to run a marathon by then, but I have nothing to lose!)

It’s likely to be at least 4 months before I can slowly get back to running.

As someone who used to run 5 days a week, it’s a bit of an adjustment – at the moment I can’t even swim or ride to get my cardio! (And my 1300+ day streak of doing a 5 minute plank every day has come to an abrupt end!)

My Garmin is taunting me! YOU JUDGEY BASTARD!

So yeah it’s pretty shitty but not the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone and I will definitely come out with some good lessons (‘don’t run City-Bay on a broken pelvis’ being one of them!)

What to do for the next 8+ weeks? I am going to spend more time practising my piano and guitar (and even thinking of taking up drums – for a upper body workout!), watching bad TV (and hopefully some good!) and doing a tour of Adelaide’s coffee shops! Gonna smash some upper body workouts at the gym! Maybe do some kind of online course? Or maybe I’ll just watch the first 14 seasons of Supernatural – all 300+ episodes!

If anyone has any other recommendations for things I can do sitting down, I’d love to hear them!

Race report – TRSA Mount Crawford Challenge 2019

What a fab morning we had at Mount Crawford!

On Sunday I took part in the Trail Running SA Mount Crawford Challenge for the first time. I had previously volunteered at this event twice – most recently 2 years ago when it was a rain and mud fest (and I was very glad to be wearing gumboots, and doing roles that allowed me to be undercover most of the time!) I’d never run there before, until TRSA put on a social run a few weeks ago where we ran in the rain for most of it but managed to dodge the worst of the weather (the hail and epic winds came later!) and our leader (who shall remain nameless) managed to get us lost several times!

It was my first (and most probably last) TRSA trail series race for this year. I had run their Five Peaks ultramarathon earlier in the year and I still stand by my statement that I’m never doing that one again!

I had volunteered at a drink station at the previous event at Kuitpo Forest, and although Mount Crawford wasn’t in my plan (I am, after all, supposed to be training for 2 road marathons) the joy and enthusiasm of the runners at Kuitpo was infectious and I couldn’t help signing up!

Preparation was ideal – I had a few glasses of wine after parkrun on Saturday (as you do) and then that night celebrated a milestone birthday of one of my awesome running buddies (leaving early of course as it would be an early start!).
At said birthday drinks, which happened to have a unicorn theme, I wasn’t sufficiently ‘unicorny’ so Tracey put a unicorn headband on my head. I jokingly said I would run in it the next day, to which she replied, “You totally should!”

Being a ‘cupless’ event, I was prepared with my race vest and 2 bottles of Gatorade, plus a Clif bar. I had no idea how long I would be out there for my 24ish kilometre run but I figured that should be enough to get me through. Knowing that there was likely to be some rain, I put my rain jacket in my pack ‘just in case’ – that would only be used if the rain was really heavy, as it does get a bit warm when running (I ran a lot of the 24 hour in it, but I was expecting to be moving a bit faster on this occasion!)

The other distances on offer were 35km starting at 7am (that was a big ‘NOPE’ from me!), 15km and 8km. I was tossing up between the 15 and the 24, and in the end chose the 24 as I don’t think I have done enough long runs for my marathon prep (the first marathon being in just under 5 weeks, and the second in just under 8), and a 24km trail would probably equate to a 30k flat road run.

I got a lift up with regular running buddy Riesje who was also doing the 24km. TRSA strongly encourages carpooling due to lack of parking space at their events (and the huge numbers of runners they attract!). Personally I prefer to drive by myself but I am happy to comply with their request because I can understand it would be a logistical nightmare if everyone thought like me! The parking situation was that people who carpooled got priority parking (ie rock star parking right near the start/finish

area) and those who didn’t had to park quite a long way away. As we went past the ‘park of shame’ (not really) where the solo travellers had to park, Dej who was one of the attendants, said if one of them got in our car we would have 3 people then we’d get chocolates (for having 3 or more people in the car)! Win-win, win for us and win for the extra 2 people we picked up who didn’t have to walk all that way! I thought that was a great idea!

Amazingly given the numbers of runners we didn’t have to queue up for the portaloos – that’s usually the way it goes, if you’re running a little bit late you can guarantee there will be a huge queue! The 35km had already started and the 15km didn’t start until 45 minutes after us (I think the 15km was the most popular option) so the crowd wasn’t too bad when we arrived. (I think having the 2 longer distances worked really well – there were 103 finishers in the 35km and 120 in the 24km, if there had been only one ‘long’ distance that would have been quite a crowd setting off all at once! Plus it weeded out all the silly people who did the 35km)

It wasn’t as cold as I thought it might be – I had layers on at the start but I was down to my usual T-shirt and arm warmers well before the race briefing. There was a fire near the start line which many people were gathered around, but I didn’t want to get anywhere near it – I might get just that little bit too comfortable and not want to leave! I had left my sunscreen in the car because I thought it would be very optimistic to put sunscreen on, but I noticed Jim putting some on in the bag drop area and he offered me some, I figured it couldn’t hurt – the sun MAY come out at some stage! I asked someone else if they thought sunnies were required and the response was an emphatic “No”, plus she said it was just extra weight to lug around! I’m not sure how much her sunnies weigh but I don’t think that would have been too much of an issue for me, however I did not want to carry anything in my hands and they wouldn’t fit easily in my race vest front pockets, so I opted to go without.

I wanted to wear my cap to keep the rain out of my eyes, however I did also want to wear the unicorn horn which would have looked a bit silly over a hat so I decided to put up with the rain and be a unicorn!

The elevation in the 24km course was not huge, so I was able to run MOST of it (and probably COULD have run all of it if I’d wanted to) – however I did have to take a long hard look at myself when I took my first walk break going up the first biggish hill, and I was being overtaken. Now I have no problem being overtaken by runners when I’m walking, well I do have a problem with being overtaken by anyone at any time but at least in that case it is understandable. I do however have a problem with being overtaken quite comfortably by people walking! (At least it’s not as bad as being overtaken by walkers when you’re running – although that’s usually just a sign I need to stop running and start walking!)

Early stages – I didn’t see this photographer! Pic thanks to TRSA.

The course was very scenic, through a pine forest, some narrow bits and wide fire trails (which were super muddy!). It rained a little bit but never heavy enough for me to put my jacket on.

There were 2 drink stations along the course. Approaching the first one, there were some mysterious signs stating “Devil’s Head” with little pictures of devils on them. I had run through this area only a few weeks earlier and didn’t remember having seen these signs! Then we reached the drink station and there was the devil himself, it was all an elaborate promotion for the next TRSA event, “The Devil’s Nose” which unfortunately I won’t be able to do. I thought this was really clever, and just added something extra to the run, which I already enjoyed anyway!

The devil made me do it! Pic thanks to TRSA.

The second drink station, with an 80s theme, had funny signs on the way in and out, and 80s music blaring from the speakers – luckily I didn’t need to stop for a top up there, because otherwise I may have been tempted to stay and join the party!

I ran a lot of the first bit of the 24km on my own – once I’d settled into my place in the field, I didn’t overtake too many people, nor was I passed by many. We ran an approximately 8km loop before passing through the start/finish and commencing a larger loop which was identical to the loop the 15km runners did. The 15km runners started not long before I came through, so consequently it wasn’t long before I started catching up with some of them which was nice. Another big tick for TRSA and the way they design their courses – I saw quite a few of the faster 35km runners as well, and towards the end started to catch up with some of the 8km runners too.

On the second part of the course I caught up with 15km runner Glen, who the previous day had run his 64th marathon in a 12 month period. His goal was to run 65 marathons in the year leading up to his 65th birthday, which is on Thursday. He is going to run the 65th on his actual birthday. Most of the marathons have been informal (ie not official events, just a marathon distance). Quite a feat, and especially backing up from a marathon and doing a challenging 15km trail the next day!

All smiles with Glen! Pic thanks to TRSA.

When Glen started walking, his watch showed 11.8km and mine was just on 20. That meant that probably the 24km was not quite 24km. I don’t think I’ve ever complained when a trail course has turned out to be slightly less than advertised! (And to be fair, the times it has been longer has usually been due to navigational ‘mishaps’ on my part!)

The last bit of the course was along a fire track which was mostly clay-like mud and puddles. At this stage I didn’t care how muddy or wet my feet got! (I did tend to try to avoid large puddles early on, because you don’t want to run TOO far with wet feet, but with only a few kilometres to go it didn’t really matter anymore! Fun! And that was where I saw a few familiar faces, well actually it was a few familiar ‘backs of heads’ at first – Geoff and Janet in the 8km, Geoff doing his first trail event, and Janet who was well hydrated after the aforementioned post-parkrun wine!

Towards the end – still loving it and not regretting the unicorn at all! Pic thanks to TRSA.

The very end of the course was uphill. Of course it was, thanks TRSA, bit of a brutal way to finish but I definitely earned those brownies at the end!

In the end I stopped my watch at around 2 hours 20, I didn’t have any idea before the race what sort of time I might do, I had sub 3 hours in the back of my mind but having never run it before I didn’t really have a point of reference.

My main goals were to finish before all Maurice’s vegan brownies were gone (tick) and so Riesje wouldn’t have to wait hours for me (knowing she’d be well ahead of me) – another tick!

We stuck around for the presentations and to enjoy the fire for a bit, because the sun had come out towards the end of my run and it was very pleasant (once I’d changed out of my wet running gear into something warmer and drier!) Neither Riesje nor I won anything in the random prize draw, and as the prize draw wound up the rain started again so we legged it to the car (me by now in my Birkenstocks which are not exactly conducive to fast running in mud!) – another tick for carpooling and getting a close park!

I really enjoyed this run, one of the most enjoyable races I’ve done this year! Thanks to the TRSA committee and all the volunteers for making it a truly great morning – having been on the other side at the last event and seeing the volunteers briefing, it is a really well-oiled machine and no stone is left unturned, making for a fab experience all around! Well done to all the runners too especially those doing their first event!

Next up for me is something completely different, City-Bay half marathon next Sunday, and then hopefully will squeeze in a few more long road runs (ugh) before leaving for the US and the Chicago and New York City marathons – can’t wait!

Race report – Adelaide 24 hour 2019

Warning – long report ahead – best grab yourself a tea or coffee and make yourself comfortable!

This has been a very very long time coming.

I first heard about this event when I was running with the Nike Run Club in the city, quite a few years ago now (2013, from memory) and the leader of the group I was running with, Graham, was telling me about the Adelaide 24 hour race. Just as it sounds, it involves running for 24 hours, around the 2.2km Uni Loop, and seeing how far you can go in that time. I thought (and I told him) that this sounded incredibly boring and wondered what kind of mad person would do such a thing! Around this time I was introduced to Karen who had recently done this event. My opinion remained the same.

Skip forward a couple of years to 2015. “This looks like fun” I said. A 6 hour fundraiser run to help local runner Emma get to the 24hr world championships. My marathon training plan said to do about 30km that day, so I figured I could go along, get my 30km in and that would be it. As the morning went on, the goalposts kept shifting. 30km turned to 36km (my scheduled longest run before the marathon) and then 40, then I thought I might as well do a marathon, then I just kept going to the end of the 6 hours. From memory one of my running buddies Denis turned up after his long run, and just when I had decided I was done, he encouraged me to do one last lap with him. Garmin tells me I did 46.9km and I seem to recall there were quite a few food and drink stops in there.

I then signed up for my first 6 hour in 2015, going again in 2016 before stepping it up to the 12 hour in 2017 and 2018.

Every year, I’d enjoy what I was doing, and I’d come back on Sunday morning to see the end of the 24 hour. The first year I was like, “Nah, 24 hours, not for me” but then slowly but surely I started to seriously contemplate doing it. Especially after I’d stepped up to the 12 hour. After my first 12 hour, I thought “Yeah I’ll probably do the 24 one day, but I’m not ready yet”, especially knowing that I could improve significantly on my 12 hour. Finally, after last year’s 12 hour, I figured it was the only natural progression and I’d signed up for the 2019 24 hour as soon as entries opened!

Later this year I’m off to the USA to do both the Chicago and New York Marathons which is a pretty big deal. However, up until 10am on Sunday 14 July, the 24 hour race has been my primary focus since the beginning of the year.

I had planned to get a coach and a proper training programme when I did the 24 hour but somehow that didn’t happen. It’s really a step up from the 6 and 12 hour and while I had sort of ‘winged it’ the first time I did both the 6 and the 12, I couldn’t imagine that ‘winging it’ was a good tactic for the 24. However, knowing my penchant for signing up for events that add absolutely no value to my programme, and do not in any way contribute to my achieving my ultimate goal, I was pretty sure that no coach would approve of what I chose to do (prime examples being the Victor Harbor Triathlon and the Clare 5k race). So although I wasn’t exactly winging it, I was a little bit Hansel from Zoolander.

I ran the Track 100 back in January as part of my training programme (such that it was, with no coach and very little clue what I was doing!) and then went to Canberra to run the 12 hour event there. The Track 100 started at 7pm and I finished a little after 6am, and CBR went from midday to midnight. So I’d had a bit of practice running in the night.

I’d also done a fair bit of training on the Uni Loop, the site of the 24 hour event. Much more than I’d ever done in training for my previous runs there! I was curious to know just how much, so I added it up. Since the start of the year I had done 14 runs on the Loop, a total of 48 hours and 485km (220 laps!). That actually blew my mind a little bit when I worked it out! You could say I knew every damn piece of gravel and every speed bump/hill/mountain (depending on how many laps I’d done) in either direction!

My last training run on the loop was originally going to be a 12 hour overnight run, which gradually became shorter and shorter and eventually turned into a bit under 5 hours, 4 weeks out, which was my first time running the loop at night. Although I knew it exceptionally well in the daytime, I had heard stories of people getting lost on it at night (possibly delirious!) I was pleased to find out that, although there are a few little dark patches, it is exceptionally well lit and I wouldn’t need to run with a head torch!

May and June were pretty big months for me distance-wise, in fact my 2 biggest months ever. I had run 374km in May and then backed that up with 415km in June. Compare that to my weekly average over the last 12 months of just 57km, it’s quite a big jump!

A few weeks out from the event, I put the call out on the trusty Facebook asking for advice from people who had done the event (or similar) before. The most common piece of advice that came through again and again was to keep warm, especially overnight! This was something I hadn’t really had to deal with before – I’d always been able to get away with shorts/skirt (even in the hail in 2015!), and even on the overnight track races getting cold wasn’t exactly an issue (last year the temperature didn’t drop below 32 celsius!). The only time I had really had to deal with potentially getting cold overnight was in my last UTA when I ran in my fleece top for quite a while (but still in shorts) and in Canberra when I walked the last 4 hours (that time, I had changed into a hoodie and tracky dacks!)

2 weeks out from the event I was running with club coach Kent and we were discussing the merits of caffeine during an event. He said he’s not a coffee drinker so he finds caffeine very effective. Meanwhile, me over here, 3+ cups a day – possibly less effective! He suggested going off coffee for a week prior to the event. I thought that was a great idea so after my Friday post-run coffee a week out, it was decaf all the way! (I thought it was a great idea until I actually had to do it! But it would be worth it in the end, I told myself!)

Regular running buddy (and previous 24 hour runner) Michael had very kindly offered to lend me his van as a base during the event. That would mean I didn’t need to worry about setting up a gazebo/tent, and the bonus was that if I needed to have a power nap (I wasn’t planning to) I had an actual bed to stretch out on! And assuming that I wasn’t going to need it, my supporters Kate and Tracey would be able to have a nap in there! I could literally just rock up on the morning with all my stuff, put the stuff in the van, and away I would go! Simples!

I caught up with Kate and Tracey, both veterans of the 24 hour, for lunch on the Sunday before the event where we discussed logistics, and the kinds of things I might need her to do (ie make some sandwiches and mix up some more Gatorade) and she offered to go and get me coffee and donuts if I wanted! I picked both of their brains for advice but they both jokingly said they were probably not the best people to ask for advice on how to run a 24 hour, unless it was what NOT to do! (To be fair, both of them have completed at least one 100 miler!)

In the week leading up to the event I did very little running. The plan was a normal run on Tuesday, walk on Thursday, and nothing on Friday. I hadn’t run on the Loop (other than just passing through during a run) for 4 weeks so I was ready to face it again!

My ‘goal’ was to get to 100 miles (160.934km) which I think is a pretty common goal in a 24 hour. Looking back at the results from 2014-2018, 100 miles would be a guaranteed podium finish – however you never know who’s going to turn up on the day so let’s not think about podium finishes just yet! As is usually the case in these types of events, I would only be able to run my own race, couldn’t let myself get distracted by what other people were and weren’t doing, and the rest of it would take care of itself! (And if I had to do a sprint finish at the end of 24 hours for a placing, well let’s hope I’d be able to do that!)

I had been advised several times not to set a distance goal, because once I got there, I would not want to keep going! I seem to recall I set a goal of 50km in my first 6 hours and managed to get over 60, so it wouldn’t hurt to have something in the back of my mind, but I needed to be thinking “I’m going to run for 24 hours” rather than “I’m aiming for 100 miles”. Based on my 12 hour distances, on paper 100 miles looks very doable. But you never know what’s going to happen when our friend Fatigue pays a visit!

On Friday I took the day off and got myself a massage to loosen up the legs (turns out my quads and calves are very tight and massage therapist Amanda SO would have loved to go in with her elbows but knowing what was coming the next day, she took it easy on me! It really helped though!

There was a LOT of prep to do! I had a box of food, an esky of drinks, a bag of clothes for during the run, another bag of clothes for after, a bag of miscellaneous stuff for during, a chair, table, blanket, sleeping bag and pillow! Food-wise I made 8 sandwiches (4 peanut butter and 4 Mayver’s cacao spread) and I also had a bunch of Clif bars, Snackaballs, protein bars, Lemon Crisp biscuits, and salted chocolate! I wanted to have a variety of different flavours.

As per usual I didn’t look at the start list before the event (only to make sure my name was on it) because I prefer not to know – I can only do my own thing, and knowing who else is going to be out there shouldn’t change that! I knew Vicky was doing it, and I knew she’d been training and running really well, so I definitely saw her as a serious threat! Other than her, I didn’t know of any other big names on the female side, but this event always attracts good interstate runners so there were bound to be some!

My pre-race dinner broke with tradition, only because Friday night happened to be the annual Long Service dinner at my work, and I’d recently clocked up 20 years. I normally would have a big bowl of pasta, but I didn’t want to miss the dinner, so I put in a request for a vegan meal, and somewhat cheekily (assuming I’d be the only vegan there) asked for something with lots of carbs! It was an enjoyable night but I did feel like I needed a few extra carbs afterwards so on the way home I popped into the Bakery on O’Connell for a donut, planning to eat half and save the other half for the next day. Needless to say the second half did not survive the journey home!
I set my alarm for 7:30am, and had a quick look at the progress results for the 6 hour and the 12 hour. It was so weird to wake up knowing that the event was already happening!
I arrived at the Uni Loop just before 9am, and Michael arrived not long after me with the van. Given that the 6 and 12 hour runners were already out there, we both had to park a fair way away from the timing area, however we would be able to move the van closer once the 6 hour event was done and dusted.
He had thought of everything – in the van was a fully equipped bed, torch, all of the wet weather gear, spare beanies and a very warm hi-viz jacket. This was a man who knew what this event was all about!
Another 24 hour runner, Jac, arrived at around the same time as me. I don’t think she’d done the 24 before but she had done the 48 hour last year. Definitely another contender!
I collected my bib and attached my timing tag to my ankle. I did it up too tight. I realised this a few hours in, at which point I loosened it, but the damage had already been done…

The original plan was to use the van as the base and leave everything in there, however when Kate arrived we decided to have the food and drinks, a table and chair out in the NRG (Northern Running Group) tent, which was very conveniently located near the aid station, timing area and portaloos. I decided to leave my clothes in the van, because the last thing I wanted was for them to get wet should it rain! (And of course it was going to rain!)

With former 24 hour winner Barry, Kate, and fellow debutant Vicky!

Just before 10am we all gathered at the start line for the briefing by Race Director Ben. Not much different from my previous years running the 6 and 12 hour events, except he did make it clear that we could have ‘buddy’ runners to run occasional laps with us after the 12 hour race finished at 6pm as long as they stayed on the grass and not on the track itself. In previous years ‘buddy’ runners had been allowed on the track but the rules had been tightened up this year.

📷 Lachlan Miller

And away we went!

And about half a lap in, the rain started! GREAT, I had left my rain jacket in the tent. My rainbow arm warmers were wet by the time I got back there at the end of the lap, so I took them off and hung them up to dry, and quickly grabbed my rain jacket which would see quite a lot of action over the next 24 hours!
📷 Lachlan Miller

I used the same strategy I’d previously used in the 12 hour and 100km track events – run 25 mins and walk/eat for 5. Only differences were, the running would be a bit slower, and there would be sit down rest breaks. I had a vague aim of getting to 90km at the halfway mark, assuming I’d slow down in the second half and 70km in 12 hours is very doable, just over 10 minutes per km, actually walkable! However, I didn’t set any other goals or have a pace in mind. It was all very much by feel.

📷 David Fielding Photography – twinning with Ryan who was doing the 6 hour! A rare moment of sunshine!

The first milestone was the finish of the 6 hour at midday. With 45 runners in the 6 hour event, this would significantly reduce the number of runners on the track. I reckon between 10am and midday there were more runners on the track simultaneously than there had ever been before!

Early pic from Chantel while the sun was out, with Rhys.

I wasn’t really keeping track of distance, and the only reason I was looking at my watch was to know when my walk breaks were. I remember in previous years I’d make a note of where I was at after each hour, but I couldn’t be bothered doing that this time! According to the post on the Ultra Runners SA Facebook page with the 6 hour results, I was on 45.5km after 5 hours, 2.5km behind the leader, Sabina. I might have had an idea of the distance but I definitely had no idea what place I was in, and who was leading. It’s pretty pointless knowing that at such an early stage, so much can change in such a long event! Jac and Vicky were both looking super strong and could easily have been ahead of me too as far as I knew. That’s the beauty of these loop events!

📷 Lachlan Miller
Another great thing about this event is the camaraderie. I got to spend time with a whole lot of fantastic people, friends old and new. You’d run with someone for a few laps, then you might not see them for a few hours, and then there they were again. I shared laps with Glen (aiming to do the equivalent of 3 marathons, as part of a very admirable goal of running 65 marathons in a year, the final one to coincide with his 65th birthday), Ian (aiming for a PB, a legend of the SA marathon and ultramarathon scene and all round good guy!), Adam (originally from SA but now living in Canada) and Annabel (Australian ultra running legend who was not enjoying our ‘balmy’ Adelaide weather!). Stephan was another one I ran into regularly, he was using the 24 hour purely as a training run for the upcoming 6 day event. People have asked me if I’ll do the 6 day. The answer is 100% no, especially when I looked at the dates and realised I will be in San Francisco when it finishes! No, definitely not my thing. Huge admiration for those who can back up day after day like that!

One of the great stories from this event was Rhys from Melbourne. A few days before the event, Ben posted on the Facebook page that there was only one place available in the 24 hour race. A sellout, that had never happened before! Who knew there were so many crazy people out there? My crew, Tracey and Kate, both joked about taking the last place, but in the end it was Rhys who made the last minute decision to come over for the event! All of 19 years old, he had never run more than 50km before! We had some great chats during the course of the day and night, he has got some big goals and I wish him all the best! In the end it wasn’t to be his day, he didn’t quite make it to 100km but still a huge distance PB!

📷 David Fielding Photography

And of course it wouldn’t be the Adelaide 24 hour without Merle and Trish, always cheerful and happy for a chat! And Merle was hard to miss in the dark with her head lamp with the red light on the back!
Speaking of head lamps, I opted not to use mine (I’d brought it along just in case) but there were times when I wished I had worn it – the rain we’d had over the past few days had left a few significant puddles on the loop, mostly in the aforementioned dark patches, and it seemed like I managed to step in all of them!
Backtracking a little, back to when it was still daytime! I ran half a lap with Amelia, eventual winner of the 12 hour (that half lap nearly killed me!) who had been planning to do the event anyway but fortunately it also coincided with her being in Adelaide for work for a week! Apparently I said something to her about her doing the 24 hour – I can’t remember exactly what I said – Amelia perhaps you can enlighten me? (Actually, if you’d like to do the 24 next year that would be great, give me a fighting chance in the 12 hour!)
Also back again for the 12 hour was Kay, who last year had wanted to get 56km and ended up getting 60 before stopping. This year she went the full 12 hours and got 87km – a huge PB – and also got 4th place and narrowly missed a podium finish! Well done Kay!
The 12 hour event finished at 6pm, as the smallest group of the 3 events, it didn’t make a huge difference to the numbers out on track. It was an ideal time to stop, regroup and re-evaluate. 8 hours down, 16 to go!
I think this was the longest break I took over the 24 hours, about 10 minutes. I did a wardrobe change, knowing that keeping warm was one of the most important things to do in the 24 hour! I changed from my T-shirt and skirt into leggings, and 2 long sleeved lululemon tops – the thin Run Swiftly underneath the thicker and warmer Runderful which I’d only just purchased for this very event, and which proved to be just perfect! (The zip pocket was also handy for snacks!)
I also changed socks – I had a few spare pairs of socks so I decided to change every 8 hours. Nothing like a fresh pair of socks after running for 8 hours! Didn’t stop the blisters though (I was glad it was dark in the tent when I changed socks – I didn’t really want to see what my feet looked like!)
At the halfway mark I was on just over 101km – just 1km short of my 12 hour total from 2017. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was still in 2nd place, 6km behind Sabina. The men were clocking up some incredible distances – at the same time I’d just ticked over 100km, Matt (who never changed out of his singlet all night!) was on 143km and 2nd placed Kay was on 129!
It was time to re-evaluate my goal. With 60km to go and 12 hours to do it, unless I took an extended break, 100 miles was a no-brainer. I told Kate, on our first lap together, that I was re-evaluating my 100 miler goal. I said my new goal was 170km.
Before the race, I had ‘secretly’ set 170km as my ‘pie in the sky’ goal to keep myself motivated in the unlikely event that I reached 100 miles with time in the bank. Now, it had become a reality!
I had been told that the ‘witching hours’ between 2 and 4am would be the hardest, and also that once we hit 6am and it started to get light, everything would be all OK again!
Kate was off to Melbourne on Sunday to meet up with her girls who had gone over for a dance competition, so she had told me prior to the event that she was going to need to have a few hours sleep. No problems as far as I was concerned – she had put my food out on the table and made sure there was plenty of Gatorade there for me, and then disappeared to the van for a few hours! Between her and Tracey I always had everything I needed, for a while there I wondered where they were as I went past the tent, turned out for a lot of the time they were either running laps with Vicky, or sitting in Vicky’s tent next door to the NRG tent, because they had a heater! (Actually quite glad I didn’t have a heater, might have been too tempting to sit down for an extended break! Great for the crew though!)
I had brought 3 mobile chargers with the idea that I would keep my watch running for the full 24 hours. The battery life on my watch is meant to be 14 hours (I later found out that heart rate recording reduces the battery life significantly) so I was surprised when, just after 9 and a half hours, the watch died without warning, and just after I’d started a lap, too! My parents had come down on their way to dinner, I’d just had a 5 minute walk break not long ago but I figured an extra 5 min walk wouldn’t hurt, so Mum came and walked for 5 minutes with me, and that was when it happened. I was very annoyed, I was looking forward to having a 100+ mile run on Strava, as it is unlikely to happen again!
As soon as I got back to the tent, I got one of my chargers, plugged the watch in and kept moving. The watch turned on straight away when I plugged it in, so I started the GPS mode again. However, after only a few minutes, it died again (turns out you can’t record an activity when there is no charge in the battery, even if it’s plugged in) so I lost another lap! Finally, when I got back to the tent again, I went with plan B which was to carry my phone and record directly on Strava, while leaving my watch on charge at the tent. Thanks to Kate for keeping an eye on it, and also to Linna next door who has the same watch and helped Kate to make sure that it was charging properly!
For a couple of hours I let the watch charge and ran with my phone, it was a bit annoying to have to keep looking at the phone to see what time it was, but at least my run was recording and surprisingly it did not drain my phone battery that much in the 2 hours before I went back to my (now fully charged) watch!
I think it was probably around 8pm (10 hours in) when I started listening to music for the first time. Up until then, there had been enough going on with the 6 and 12 hour runners out on the track. I was glad I’d been able to get that far without music – I like to use it sparingly rather than relying on it all the time. I used my iPod shuffle (the waterproof one I bought for swimming, because I find lap swimming intolerably boring!) so it was a nice mix of upbeat music. I’d also downloaded some podcasts onto my other iPod. Normally I just listen to music, and occasionally on a weekend training run I’ll listen to sport on the radio. I once tried listening to a Dr Karl podcast while running along the coast, but it was so windy that I was struggling to hear it over the sound of the wind, so I gave up after that!
From 8pm onwards, I stopped every 2 hours for a 5 minute sit down and recharge the batteries (my batteries this time, not the watch!). That worked out well with my caffeine ‘schedule’ where I would have something with caffeine every 2 hours – mostly that would be a shot of cold brew coffee, but from 8pm I started on something that Kate and Tracey had put me onto, Panadol Extra, with caffeine – which worked a treat! I ended up using it at 8, midnight and 4am.
A little later in the night I decided to switch things up and change from music to podcast. I started with a few Hamish and Andy podcasts which resulted in a few LOLs!
I kept my 25/5 strategy going until 3am (17 hours) when I decided to change to 15/5. The idea was that it would be easy to keep track of where I was at (20 minute chunks was easy on the brain!) and that I would never walk more than 5 minutes at a time. There might be a point (like at Canberra) where I made the call that I was going to walk it in from here, but until that happened, I would not walk more than 5 minutes.
Somewhere around this time I met up with Annabel, and commented on her super efficient and fast walking! That was when she told me she wasn’t enjoying the cold weather. I didn’t actually think it was that bad (I’m sure the overnight weather conditions this year were better than what we typically get) but she is from Sydney and having lived there myself, I can definitely agree their winters are a lot milder than ours!
I think this was when she put the idea of 180km in my head. 100 miles was practically in the bank, 170km was firmly in my mind as my goal, and then – 180km? Dare I even dream?
Someone who is a fixture at this event is David. He does incredibly well on these loop events (I’d run with him this year at the SA Track Championships, and he had been doing the 48 hour at Canberra and also the coastalfunruns marathon back in June). He just goes and goes. He commented to me at one stage, that I was ahead of him (I think he was a bit surprised!) I was surprised too, but it wasn’t the first or last time I’d be surprised in this event!
The 15/5 strategy lasted for 2 hours. At 5am I dropped it back further, to 10/5. The 100 miler was imminent – I made the decision that once I reached the magical miler, I would walk. My legs still felt really good but my feet were burning and blistered. My running pace had slowed to the point where walking would not actually be that much slower. It was an easy decision!
Unfortunately due to the f***-up with my watch, I had to look at the screen at the timing area to know what distance I’d done. I was able to keep track of time still for my run/walk using the clock on my watch or phone, but the distance showing on my watch was meaningless.
I knew 100 miles was getting close, I think Kate was still asleep in the van and I wasn’t sure where Tracey was (Vicky had stopped by this time due to a leg injury – she’d done 127.6km and finished around 4:30am so I think she would have got the miler had she been able to keep going). I stopped at the aid station quite regularly through the night – it was nice to have some variety in my food, as much as I like my peanut butter sandwiches! I came up with the idea of taking one of my sandwiches and putting potato chips in it – yum! I got stuck into the chips pretty much every lap after that! I also started drinking Coke after about 13 hours and that went down a treat!
By this time I had changed from listening to H & A to a podcast Michael had put me on to, ‘Your Favorite Band Sucks’ – the Bon Jovi edition. Definitely recommend this podcast, it is pretty brutal but equally hilarious!
Anyway, as I was getting my Coke, I told the volunteers there (Debbie, Dione, Craig, Mandi and I think Cherie – apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone!) that I thought I was getting close to the miler. I knew where the marker was, having seen it on my previous lap. It wasn’t far from the aid station. The only thing I wasn’t sure of, was whether I would get there before or after the 6am turnaround. Craig checked on his phone and said I was on 160 point something so yes, that meant I was about to reach that magical milestone! Mandi went and checked the screen to confirm it. (The screen was visible to runners, however it was only useful when we were running in an anticlockwise direction – when running clockwise, we passed the screen BEFORE crossing the mat, and our name only appeared at the top of the screen when we crossed the mat). Debbie (as always, dressed to entertain, this time in a unicorn onesie – warm AND colourful!) offered to come with me and take a photo to mark the occasion! (Debbie also posted the pics on Facebook, and as I came past each lap, she would read me the comments people had posted – that was so nice to hear, thanks Debbie and also everyone who commented!)

From then on, it was walking all the way. If Canberra was anything to go by, I could do another 25km (although, the gravel surface of the Uni Loop was somewhat less forgiving than the athletic track in Canberra – every now and then I’d step on a bit of gravel the wrong way and I could swear it went straight through the sole of my shoe and into my foot!) which meant 180+ was definitely in my sights!

I figured it was time to go back to music, and I started with my favourite ‘go-to’ album, Def Leppard’s ‘Adrenalize’. Actually I thought I could probably listen to their music for the full 4 hours, but I didn’t even get through the one album, because as 7am approached, the 24 hour runners tended to liven up a bit and more people started coming out to watch/support, so there wasn’t actually that much time to listen to music!
There weren’t too many people still running by this stage, other than the 3 leading men, Matt, Kay and Darren (although I did see Darren walking at one stage, possibly eating noodles at the time – probably a good thing he was walking!)
6am, 20 hours down, 4 to go, and I’d already achieved my goal. I understood now why setting a distance goal could be problematic!
This was familiar territory to me. I am very used to running at 6am. Not so used to running at 6am after running for 20 hours with no sleep!
SARRC, the club with which I do the aforementioned 6am runs, has 2 running groups on a Sunday morning, at 7am and 7:30am, starting at the clubrooms on the Uni Loop. So there was something to look forward to – a few friendly faces heading out on their morning run! It was great to see so many familiar faces!
Around this time, David caught up with me again and said we were dead level. I said, you’ve got me then, because I’m only walking now. He congratulated me on a great debut 24 hour event – 180km was a great distance, he said it had taken him a while to get to that!
A few others came out in the later stages of the race too – Beck came along with her daughter Alice to run a few laps (and walk one with me!) and Chantel came and walked with me for a bit too, and took some photos.
📷 Blinkz Photography Australia – with Chantel. For more pics from the last hour, see https://www.facebook.com/296866950715728/posts/751777915224627/

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t super kind – the BOM had forecast rain in the afternoon which would have been fine, but it rained (not heavily, but solidly) for the last few hours. I guess it wouldn’t be an Adelaide 24 hour event without rain! Still, it could have been a lot worse!

Mum and Dad came down again, and Mum walked a few laps with me.

Around 9am my friend Tracie came down to take some photos. She is doing a photography project about ‘Emotions’ and was looking for subject matter. I suggested the last hour of the 24 hour race would be a good place to capture a few emotions! She got some really great shots! For the full gallery, see https://www.facebook.com/296866950715728/posts/751736968562055/
📷 Blinkz Photography Australia. With Kate, Tracey, Chantel and Mum.

Somewhere around this time I cracked the 180km barrier. Never in a million years would I have dreamed of a number like that – and still an hour to go!

Not long before the end, Tracie told me that she thought I was in 1st place – she said I’d passed Sabina! (At that stage, I didn’t know that I was in 2nd or that Sabina was 1st) I couldn’t quite believe that! But then, 180km was more than the winner did last year, so I guess it was possible! (She was a bit confused though because there was someone called Kay on the list who was ahead of me but I was first female – turned out Kay is actually a guy, pronounced ‘Ky’)

I’d told Kate and Tracey I didn’t want to know where I was placed, because I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it, especially once I’d made the decision to stop running and walk it in. However, as we headed out for the last lap, Kate asked me if I wanted to know, and she confirmed that yes I was indeed first. And by quite a margin too, she said!

And then, that magical moment – getting my ‘sandbag’ with my number on it, which I would drop when the hooter went off at 10am. I’d seen the 6 and 12 hour runners collect theirs and thought my turn would never come! Chantel, Mum, Kate and Tracey joined me for the last lap. They suggested that I might even get another full lap in – I never thought that would happen, although we did get quite close (Mum was setting a cracking pace).

And then – the hooter went, I dropped my bag, and it was over!

Amazingly, everything felt pretty good, except my feet. I put it down to a few things – the massage on Friday, the slower pace, and the flat track. After the Tower Trail Marathon 3 weeks ago I couldn’t really run properly (and walking wasn’t all that easy either) for a good few days, but after this one, sure the legs were a bit stiff but nothing I hadn’t experienced before! If not for the feet, I might have even been able to go out for a sneaky jog on Monday!

Thanks Gary for this pic, with Mum and Dad.

After celebrating briefly with friends and family, I headed back to the van to get changed into warm clothes. I got a bit light headed after I’d been sitting for a bit, probably not surprising after going 24 hours with minimal stopping and no sleep. Susan from First In Sport First Aid came to check up on me, my blood pressure and heart rate were fine but my blood sugar was a bit low, which was easily fixed with some Coke! Kate had got me some hash browns which also went down a treat!

I laid down on the bed for a few minutes while awaiting the presentation. Luckily it stopped raining in time!

The 24 hour perpetual trophy is named after (and endorsed by) ultra running legend Yiannis Kouros, who still holds the world record for a 24 hour track race, a phenomenal 303.5km, set right here in Adelaide in 1997. He is one of the few ultra runners that I’d heard of long before I even considered taking up running (I remembered him from the old Sydney to Melbourne ultramarathon days back in the ’80s!) When this trophy was first introduced in this event a few years back, I never in a million years would have imagined that one day MY name would be on it! And yet, here I was!
📷 Blinkz Photography Australia. With overall winner Matt who clocked up almost 253km!

As I write this, it is now Tuesday morning and I am amazed at how good my legs feel! I managed a short recovery walk today – hampered only by blisters on my feet, which should heal pretty quickly!

So, what next? My next scheduled event is the half marathon at the Barossa Marathon, I won’t be setting any time goals for that one (at least that’s what I’m saying now!) – I’m treating it purely as a training run for the Chicago Marathon.

And now for the thanks!

Firstly, thanks to every single one of the runners out there in the 6, 12 and particularly the 24 hour event for making it actually kind of fun! It’s hard to believe if you’ve never done something like this before, but I never once got bored running round in circles (OK sure the direction changes helped!) because of all the encouragement and chats with the other runners. You are all awesome!

Thanks to Graham for planting the seed by telling me about this event in the first place (even though I thought you were insane at the time) – great to see you out there albeit briefly this time around!

Thanks to Emma for really properly introducing me to this type of event! It’s an honour to have my name on the Kouros Trophy along with yours!

Thanks to Amanda (Glide Massage) for freshening my legs up on Friday! I will be back!

Thanks to the spectators who came out to watch, particularly in the later stages, it was great to see such a big crowd at the finish, despite the weather!

Thanks to those who were crewing for other runners, who never failed to give encouragement to me as I went past!

Thanks to Tracie for coming down and taking some great pics, hopefully I gave you what you needed for your project!

Thanks to Chantel for coming down on Saturday and Sunday, for some fantastic photos also, and for sharing a few laps with me!

Thanks to ALL of the volunteers, particularly those who were out during the ‘Witching Hour’, you must have been very cold and tired and everything you did was appreciated! But anyone who volunteered in any small way, I can’t thank you enough. (Special kudos also to those who did the measuring of the part laps, particularly the 12 hour which was done in the dark, and the 24 hour which was done in the rain!)

Thanks to my crew, Kate and Tracey, for ensuring that I could keep rolling on and making sure I always had everything I needed – and for joining me for the occasional lap too! Legends the both of you!

Thanks to Susan and her crew for always looking after us! Susan, be thankful you didn’t have to deal with my feet!

Thanks to Michael for supplying the van, a whole lot of extra gear I hadn’t even thought I might need! And for helping me get my shoes off afterwards and guarding the door while I got changed – your help really made a huge difference (and I know Kate appreciated the van too – although I hear she had some trouble getting out of it!)

Thanks to Mum and Dad for coming down to see me on Saturday night and again on Sunday morning, and for driving me home afterwards and helping me with getting the gear into my car and then back out again, and basically for everything really!

And I think that sums it up, epic report from an epic event!

Oops I almost forgot. One last one. Thanks to Ben for putting this event on every year, for without you none of this would have happened! Every event, every year I go on and on about how I don’t know how you do it and how you ever find time to spend with your wife and 2 (soon to be 3) kids, and yet you do. Event after event. You are truly Superman!

OK, I think that’s it. I’m out. See you at Barossa!

Race report – Tower Trail Run 2019

This was my 3rd straight year running the Tower Trail Run. You can read about my 2017 experience here and 2018 here.

I will try to keep this one brief. I have said that before.
The original plan was to do the 21.1km, as I had done the 2 previous years. In fact, I had entered that distance when the earlybird entried opened.
Then, I looked at the calendar and realised that the Adelaide 24 hour event was just 3 weeks after Tower (as it always is) but as I am doing the 24 hour this year (as opposed to the 12 hour the past 2 years), I thought I’d better up the distance. Call it a long training run. Time on legs, and all that. So I upgraded to the marathon distance.
This is the first year of the Five 50 Ultra Series, the brainchild of Steve, one of the Trail Running SA committee. The Tower ultra distance (56km) was the second leg of the five (Five Peaks being the first, and the remaining 3 being Federation Ultra Trail, Yurrebilla and Heysen). Consequently, the ultra distance numbers were WAY up on last year! Nothing like an extra bit of bling (a bonus medal awaits the finishers of the 5 series) to encourage people to turn up!
I had considered the ultra, but as I am not able to complete the series this year, and I wanted to be able to do a good run at the 24, I thought the 56 was a bit too far. 42 was perfect!
The course for the 10.5k, 21.1k and 42.2k was the same, just with a different number of laps. The 56km, like the 42, was 4 laps, but the laps were longer, including a lap of the iconic Blue Lake.
The now traditional pre-Tower dinner took place at the famous Metro Cafe, and my choice of meal (which may have raised some eyebrows) was a curry – one of several vegan options on the menu, and the dish I am almost certain I had last year. We had the back room pretty much booked out, with a large contingent of Adelaide runners having made the trip down to the South East.
We were led to believe that it could get as low as -4 degrees overnight, so I was prepared with my fleece gloves and fleece jacket I’d bought for UTA. I still went with the skirt and compression shorts, as my legs don’t tend to get cold. I also put on a fleece headband to keep my ears warm. In the end, it was fortunately nowhere as cold as we’d thought it might be, and I didn’t end up using the fleece. And there was only 10% chance of rain, so I threw my rain jacket into my drop bag but was pretty sure it wouldn’t be needed.

I ran with my large race vest, although with drink stations every 5km or so it is entirely possible to run this one without carrying anything. I prefer not to stop if possible, so I had on me 2 bottles of Gatorade, some ‘Snackaballs’ (salted caramel are the BOMB!), a Clif bar and a peanut butter sandwich cut into quarters. In my drop bag (left at the finish line, which I would pass 3 times along the way) I had another sandwich, more balls, more Clif bars and some more portions of Gatorade powder. I figured I’d probably stop halfway and top up whatever I’d used so far.

I knew the field for the marathon was small, but I hadn’t looked at the field before the race. I find it not very useful – firstly, people enter on the day, so you can’t get complacent if you don’t see any ‘big names’ on the list, and you might get ‘psyched out’ to see a name on the list of someone who doesn’t even turn up on the day. So I was surprised to see, at the start line, that I was one of only 3 women in the field of 15. Guaranteed podium finish! Beauty!
4 laps was going to be a challenge, but probably good preparation for the 24 hour, come to think of it!
I decided to go uber-conservative for the first lap. This one would be a warm-up.
During the race briefing, Race Director Phil pointed out (specifically to me!) that the tripping hazard that had been at the start line last year, had now been removed, but there was another one elsewhere in the course to look out for. This could be fun!

And they’re off! Photo by K8 Photographics.
As we set off up the road for the first section, I sat back around mid-pack and watched a few of the faster runners, including the eventual winner, Howard, take off. Before too long I caught up with them, including Dannielle and Adrian (both from the South East) and ran with them for a short while. Adrian said he had only taken up running in November last year! It wasn’t too long before we came to a steep, ‘rooty’ downhill section, and they both took off, no way was I going to try to keep up with them at this point! Adrian got so much speed up going down one hill that he overshot a turn-off! (No danger of that happening to me!)
The great thing about this run was that there was no pressure. I knew I was going to get top 3 as long as I finished, there was no goal time (I did estimate, based on my previous runs here, that I’d do between 5:00 and 5:30, probably closer to the latter), and I figured, the slower I went, the more time I’d be on my feet, which would be all the better for the 24 hour! So no matter how well (or badly) I ran, there would be something good to take out of it!

In the forest. Photo by Debra Thompson.
On this theme, I ran with my watch covered up, as I had in my previous marathon. Time was essentially meaningless!
The course is really challenging, scenic and varied. Quite a lot of steps. I wonder if anyone counted them? The first lot of steps was just after we went past the Blue Lake. I remembered from previous years, not to even bother trying to run them. I experimented with walking up the side rather than using the steps, but I found that a bit slippy (the ground was mostly pretty dry) so just plodded my way up the steps.
Early on in the race I encountered some of the ultra runners. While running very briefly with Joel (before he took off) he asked me what my goals were for the race. I first said “Well, to finish in the top 3”. He was probably thinking “Wow, that’s a bit arrogant!” before I quickly pointed out that there were only 3 of us in the race! I then said “To finish, and not break!” and “5 to 5 and a half hours”.
There were 2 places on the first (I like to call it the ‘reccy’) lap where I wasn’t quite sure which way to go. Firstly, after the first Tower climb, we descended and came to a field with a sports oval on it. Landing on the oval, I couldn’t immediately see where to go, and I stopped, initially planning to wait for the next runner to come along, before I saw the arrows along the side of the oval indicating the way. The second place was probably with about 1km to go on the lap, after the climb up the grass, and there was a group of hi-vis volunteers up the top of the hill. I started making a bee-line towards the people, until I realised that there was a path I was meant to follow. From then on, I had no issues with navigation! That’s the beauty of a looped course!

Oh and I thought I found the tripping hazard too – a large tree had fallen across part of the track. The options were to try to limbo under it (I’m not that bendy), to take a running jump over it (I just know that would have ended in disaster) or option 3, to stop for 2 seconds and carefully climb over it. It was kind of fun the first time, but less fun as the race wore on! (Incidentally, ultra runner and housemate Mark later showed me a photo to prove that on his last lap, it was gone – someone had come along during the race and removed it!)

Turned out that wasn’t even the tripping hazard Phil was referring to – he didn’t even know about the tree until well into the event!

Back in the forest! Photo by Debra Thompson.
First time around, and I remembered this from last year too, at the bottom of the grass hill, there were a few tables with containers of snakes, ‘to help you up that bloody hill’ as the sign said!
Speaking of snakes, I had my snake bandage in my pack – it just lives in there, I certainly did not expect to encounter any of our slithery friends out there. I did notice a few signs along the trail that said ‘Shared environment’ with what I later realised was a picture of a snake! So they are around the area, but unlikely to be out and about in the cooler weather! I later saw a post on Facebook that a snake was spotted on that very trail that very weekend!
Towards the end of lap 2 I caught the first of the half marathoners, I could recognise them from a mile away, housemates Daryl and Kym. They were on their first of 2 laps. A bit later on, heading up to where the (lolly) snakes were, we found that the ultra marathoners (I assume) had eaten them all! The signs were still motivating though!
I thought I might have had a problem getting past the halfway mark, given that I’d originally been doing the half, and having only ever done that distance here. However, as it turned out I had hardly used any of my food, and less than half of my drinks, so there was no need for me to stop. So I ran through the finish line as quickly as I could, and back up to the road, before I could think twice about it. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. My mind was prepared to be running 4 laps, so the thought of stopping after 2 didn’t even enter my mind!
Let’s talk a bit now about the Tower climb, the hardest part of the course. According to the Strava segment it is 400m long with an elevation gain of 70m, a grade of 15.2%. That is pretty damn steep! I think with the success of the event this year, it’s time to put that escalator in, OK Phil?

The marathon and ultra runners had to do that climb 4 times.

I had in my mind that when I reached the Tower on my 3rd lap, I’d have broken the back of it. Don’t get me wrong, the 4th climb was still a beast, but at least I knew that once I’d done that, I only had 3km to go. Walk in the park!

I was tempted to stop and take a photo at the Tower but ‘race mode’ kicked in and I just kept pushing on.
On my 3rd lap I ran into Sally and a few others doing the half marathon. I hadn’t known it up to this point but Sally told me that the top of the Tower was 3km from the end, and the top of the grassy hill was 1km to the end. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable a run can be when you have no idea how far you have to go until the end!

Pic by K8 Photographics.
I reached the end of my 3rd lap just after housemate Karen finished her half marathon – I thought about trying to catch her (I now like to call it ‘doing a Graham’ after an incident at the finish line in 2017) but again with the big picture in mind, I decided a sprint finish with a lap still to run, would be asking for trouble! It got a bit congested at that stage – I think some people had forgotten that some people still had further to go when they crossed the finish line! Again, I quickly ran through the start/finish area and back out for my last lap, before I had too much time to think about it! As it turned out I didn’t need to stop at all, I still had plenty of food and drink left.
It was really handy actually. I had 4 pieces of sandwich, and given there was absolutely no way I was ever going to be running up to the Tower, I ate one piece on each lap, which was also helpful in case I forgot which lap I was on! (I did sneak a look at my watch once, on the final lap, JUST to make sure I was indeed on my last lap. I saw 35km on my watch so I knew I was definitely on the home stretch! And quickly covered my watch up again, all the way to the end!
On the final climb up the grassy hill I thought I may have been hallucinating as I saw what looked very much like a unicorn coming down the hill towards me. I wasn’t hallucinating, it was a unicorn (or at least a girl in a unicorn onesie) – I didn’t get her name but she was out there encouraging people on the last climb! It was great to see her, especially considering I was into the last kilometre or so by that stage! She would have got some serious hill reps in that day!
The finish line kind of snuck up on me the first time. There were a few signs – one I remembered from the previous year “The Tower Trail Run is not fun, it is HILL AREAS” which I found quite amusing, and after seeing the sign I looked over and saw the finish line! That happened again on the second lap! By the 3rd lap I was all over it. And finally on the 4th lap, I decided to drop my race vest by one of the signs so if there was a finish line photo I could get one without my vest on, and made my way to the finish line!
MC Nikki announced my name and asked if I was finishing, I quickly checked my watch again just to be sure – yes this was definitely the end for me! As I was getting myself a long-awaited cup of Coke from the drinks table, I heard Nikki on the mic suggesting that I would do the ultra next year. I very emphatically shook my head. I most definitely would NOT be doing that!
It wasn’t until a minute or so later that it occurred to me to look at my time – I was pleasantly surprised with an official time of 5:02:46 – and only about 5 minutes behind the winner, Dannielle!

Slower with each lap – but still reasonably consistent!
My first priority after that was food – loaded fried from Natural Born Grillers – I probably could have had a second serve of those – so good!
Presentations followed not long after 3rd placed Dawn finished, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my prize was a $75 voucher from The Athlete’s Foot (I treated myself to a nice new pair of Skechers casual shoes – because it seems like the only shoes I ever buy these days are running shoes!)

Presentation!
It was a great day all around, all my housemates had a good day out too – celebrated that night with some delicious curry (another tradition for our group – takeaway Indian in a nice warm house!). And the weather could not have been more perfect!

All of the housemates at the finish line, not long after Mark had finished the ultra! Thanks to Karen for this pic!
Thanks once again to Phil and Nikki and all the fabulous volunteers for putting on another great event! And well done to all the runners – it’s not one of your easier runs, and you all did brilliantly!

My new shoes – feels just like wearing slippers! Thanks again to The Athlete’s Foot Mount Gambier for sponsoring the prizes!
Definitely recommend this event – from the new 5km event to the 56km for the nutters, there really is something for everyone!
See you all next year!