Race Report – Yurrebilla 28km 2021

Last weekend was the Yurrebilla Ultra Marathon (commonly known as YUM)

I had run the 56km previously in 2015 and 2016 after having volunteered at the finish line in 2014 and deciding, “I need to get involved in this!” 2015 was my first trail ultra, and 2016 I had had a bit more experience but the last minute course modification made for a pretty hard day at the office (especially the last 12km!)

In 2017 and 2018 I MC’d the event, and it was pretty awesome to get to see every single runner start and almost all of them finish, without having to do any of the hard work myself!

In 2019 I think I was considering doing the 28k (newly introduced in 2018) but stress fractures put an end to that plan. 2020 of course was cancelled due to the plague.

Which brings us to 2021. It wasn’t part of my plan for this year. The only event definitely on the plan was the City-Bay half marathon, as I have some serious unfinished business with that event. City-Bay was scheduled 1 week before YUM, so I thought it would be a bit ambitious to do both. On 13 August the announcement was made to reschedule City-Bay to November, which got me thinking about potentially entering the 28k at YUM, using it as a training run for the Heysen 50k in October. I had been doing trails on the weekends pretty much every week since the Adelaide 6 hour event in July, and it’s nice to mix it up with an actual event. Plus, when doing an event rather than a solo run, I can’t plan on running 28km and decide 20km will do! I eventually entered the 28km on 24 August.

Having not planned to do it, I had missed all the training runs, and figured my weekly trail runs (plus I’d started back with my Friday hills group for the first time in 2 years) would be enough. I’d also done a couple of Heysen training runs. I figured that would be good enough.

The weekend before, I’d done a Saturday afternoon Heysen training run, there was a lot of walking with one especially big climb, and I’d managed the 23km (700+ metres elevation gain) in about 2 hours 45. YUM 28k had an elevation gain over 900m so probably overall similar, or so I thought!

In the week leading up to the event I was driving around Athelstone for work, caught a glimpse of Black Hill, and for a moment I thought “What the actual F was I thinking?” (That thought would recur throughout the race!)

Saturday I fuelled up like a champion – a winery lunch with a few glasses of wine, then watching the AFL Grand Final at a friend’s place with curry and a couple of ciders (everyone knows curry is the best pre-race fuel, the spicier the better!) The 11am start on Sunday was good, I’d been used to having to get up at arse o’clock on Sunday for YUM so it was nice to be able to go out and not having to worry about getting up early!

It was chilly in the morning – I was glad not to be doing the 56km – even at 11am when we started, my toes were still numb! It was going to be a warmish day, with no chance of rain, but to start with it was hard to believe! My kit was similar to what I wore the last time I ran YUM 5 years ago – green T-shirt, black skirt, rainbow arm warmers. I also wore my fingerless cycling gloves for hand protection. Food-wise I had 2 Clif bars and some Tom and Luke’s salted caramel balls, I wasn’t expecting to need any more food than that. I had 2 bottles of Gatorade, and because it was going to be warm, about 1 litre of water in the bladder. I also took a tin of mints in case I wanted to get rid of the Gatorade aftertaste (and as it turned out, annoy everyone around me with the constant noise of mints on tin!)

I got to the finish line in plenty of time for the bus back to the start at Ashton. The bus ride almost put me to sleep! It was an interesting ride up Greenhill Road, anyone that has driven up there on a weekend, especially on a nice day, would know it’s a favourite place for cyclists so we had to avoid a few of those, and it’s quite a narrow road so overtaking is problematic. We had to stop twice for a convoy of motorbikes –  I wondered if we’d ever get there! Just as I was about to doze off, the bus PA system started playing the acoustic version of ‘Hotel California’ from the ‘Hell Freezes Over’ album which woke me up instantly – such a great song! And if that wasn’t enough, for some reason we got to hear it twice in a row (not that I was complaining) and it was the song I had stuck in my head for the first little bit of the race (you could definitely do worse – those around me should be grateful I didn’t start singing!)

Having never done the 28k before, and having not run on the course for 5 years, I didn’t really know what to expect, people asked me about my time goal, I didn’t really have one, other than to finish under 4 hours so I didn’t have to reapply my sunscreen (I figured that was realistic – I’d run the 56k before twice under 7.5 hours, and the second half is the hardest, but you never know, having not done it for so long! I had a little bottle of sunscreen in my pack just in case.

It started with a nice little downhill section into Horsnell Gully and then the first of 3 big climbs to get back out again. Very early on the run I was going back and forth with Riesje and Zorica, two very fast runners who I have at times been able to keep up with. Zorica had been planning to do the 56 before having a stack on a trail run the previous weekend. In typical runner fashion, the ‘not running’ option was not even on the cards, instead ‘upgrading’ to the 28k. Zorica had kindly worn a fluoro singlet so I could easily spot her and attempt to keep her in sight!

I didn’t know too many other people in the 28km, other than Nick who I’d met the previous week on the Heysen training run and we’d run together for most of that run, so I figured we would probably see each other! We crossed paths a few times but he ended up finishing a good 10 minutes ahead of me!

I instantly regretted the mints. Firstly, the rattling would annoy the hell out of me for the next 28km, but secondly, IF I happened to be in a position to overtake someone near the end, I could hardly do it in ninja fashion – they’d hear me coming from a mile away! I figured if that situation arose I could always tip out the mints! So, my apologies to all those who were running near me on Sunday!

From around the 12km to the 14km, running through Morialta which is quite technical, I seemed to be tripping and/or almost rolling an ankle every 30 seconds or so. It became very annoying! Around the 14km mark I nearly fully rolled my left ankle and had thoughts about potentially DNFing at the next drink station but nothing came of it and I’d forgotten all about it by the time I got there. Sometime just after 14km (past the Bon Jovi moment – this time there was no singing) I properly tripped and went down (thank you cycling gloves, I landed on my hands and only ended up with minor grazing on my left arm and thigh), and somehow that seemed to sort me out altogether, there were no further incidents after that!

I didn’t stop at any of the drink stations other than the last one when I really felt like some Coke. The volunteer there offered to fill my bottle but with only a few kilometres to go, and the promise of icy cold, fizzy Coke at the finish line, I figured half a bottle would do! (Note to self, Coke has bubbles in it so if you put the lid on too tight, the result can be explosive!)

There were 3 big climbs, the last and the biggest being the notorious Orchard Track which was part of the course when I last ran it 5 years ago. I’d forgotten what a b*tch it was! Lucky for me I had managed to pick up a sturdy branch earlier in the course (I’d been looking for a suitable one for a while) but by the time we hit f***ing Orchard Track, it didn’t quite cut it. So I offered the guy in front of me $20 for his hiking poles. In hindsight I should have offered more (He did say he’d let them go for $200 but I only had $20 on me) but I think he was doing the 56km and probably needed them more than me.

Can I just give a quick shout out to the volunteers, one of the great parts of this event. It seemed that I knew almost all of them (along with a lot of the runners) which is one of the things that makes this event so awesome. I’ve been on that side before and it can be a long day but very very rewarding and enjoyable. (Almost certainly more enjoyable than crawling up f***ing Orchard Track!)

After Orchard we finally got to some downhill, I may have got a bit excited at the prospect of actually getting to run, I could feel my quads screaming at me but I didn’t care too much, it was so nice to be making some forward progress!

I decided to get rid of my branch with about 1.5km to go, surely there couldn’t be any more uphill?

WRONG! (There may or may not have been some more swearing at this point)

And then we approached the finish line, this was the first time I’d experienced the new finish line, it was quite nice, plenty of cheering going on (being a lovely day to be out on the oval!) and the unmistakable sound of cowbells!

And there was Zorica again, I hadn’t seen her for some time, and in the finishing chute I decided to give it a crack, she must have heard me coming with my rattling mints, but afterwards she said she didn’t have anything left by the end. It is a rare occasion when I get to finish in front of her (and it takes her being injured for me to do it) so I have to take it when I can!

Official time was 3:23:52, so I was pretty happy with that. And I LOVE the cowbell medals!

There was carnage out on the trail – heaps of people with blood dripping off their legs, dressings all over their arms and even bandages on their heads – I definitely got off lightly! Morialta was a popular place for falling, as was Horsnell Gully.

I first got myself a Coke, then some Vegemite sandwiches from the lovely RMA ladies, and finally a special vegan pizza. I was a tad disappointed that there wasn’t a bar there this year, but I had probably had enough drinks the previous day that I didn’t need any more on this occasion!

Congratulations to all the participants in the 28km and 56km and thanks again to the volunteers and also the weather gods for turning on a cracker. It was a fantastic day!

Next time (and there will be a next time) I will do the training runs. It is always worthwhile, if possible, to train on the actual course. Nothing I had done in my training could have prepared me for Orchard Track. Also, I will make sure I take some photos, because all words and no photos makes Jane a dull blogger!

Other than that, I think things went as well as could be expected, and you can expect to see me lining up for the 56km next year!

 

Race Report – Adelaide 6/12/24 Hour 2021 – The End of an Era!

I’d like to start by saying that this is my favourite running event of all that I have done. It’s hard to fathom for those that haven’t done it (even some seasoned ultra runners) but it is genuinely the best. Even when it can be the worst! I don’t think I can do it justice but I’ll give it a crack.

For me, the last 2 years since the last ‘proper’ Adelaide 6/12/24 even in 2019 has been a long and bumpy ride, but I don’t think I’d change any of it! It would have been rude not to be a part of the final running of this event in its current form…

As regular readers of this blog will know, I have a (relatively) long history with this event, having participated in the 6 hour in 2015 and 2016, the 12 hour in 2017 and 2018, and the big one, the 24 hour in 2019, which I later found out, pretty much broke me!

Due to COVID the event took on a slightly different form in 2020, with it being later in the year than the traditional wet, cold July, and with just the 6 and 12 hour events taking place. This time I was NOT involved, although I did put in a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameo appearance, courtesy of ‘dropping in’ for half a lap during my own training run for a half marathon. Given that I was focused on said half, and was nowhere near ‘match fit’ enough for a 6 hour, there was never any temptation to get involved. Plus, if it’s not raining, is it really even the same event?

2021 was an entirely different story. Since the 2020 event I had done 2 half marathons and a bunch of shorter (mostly trail) events. I didn’t really have the 6/12/24 in my sights this year, even though I knew it was going to be the last one in its current form. I just did not have enough training behind me to do it justice. And then…

On 27 April, (74 days before the event) ED Ben announced a special memento for all runners, in addition to the finisher bling, given that it was to be the last event (and the 10 year anniversary of the first 24 hour). That was all it took to pique my interest.

Could it be done? Normally (and especially given my recent history) I would want a solid 4-5 months to get my mileage up gradually. 10 weeks was less than ideal. (If I had more time, I would have seriously considered giving the 12 hour a crack, but the only realistic option at this point was 6 hours or nothing)

The cut off date to get the memento personalised (as well as the early bird cutoff) was the following Wednesday so there was only one thing to do. Get my arse down to the Uni Loop on the weekend and run some laps!

 I managed just over a half marathon distance in 2 hours and decided yes, I could definitely do this so quickly got my entry in, after checking with Ben that I could keep my name off the start list because I wasn’t quite ready for my physio to know about this yet! I sent fellow runner Kate a private message to let her know and that she absolutely could NOT tell Beck, and after very little arm-twisting, she decided to enter too! (Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for Kate, with an injury preventing her from lining up on the day)

This (assuming I would complete more than a marathon distance!) would be my 19th ultra,  2 years after my previous one. It would be my 11th track ultra, so you can see I like the loop format! And 12 of those 19 ultras will have been Ben’s events, so he must be doing something right!

In the coming weeks I upped the time by half an hour each week, each time estimating how many laps I would do and reversing the distance at about the halfway mark, and using a 28 min run/2 min walk strategy. This would be my first time adopting strategic run/walk in a 6 hour (I had previously successfully used it in 100k, 12 and 24 hour track events). During each walk break I would eat something – half a Clif bar, a couple of protein balls, a 1/4 sandwich or a brownie. I would have a few different options so I could keep it varied and avoid the dreaded flavour fatigue!

Distance wise I was not even contemplating the possibility of a PB – in fact I was pretty sure it would be a PW, with my previous 6 hour distances being 61.436km and 62.199km. I was pretty sure the magical 60km was a bit ambitious but it was still good to aim for. Just being there was all that mattered.

I kept my long runs private on Strava because there is only one reason I would be doing runs like that, and if anyone saw it, they’d know straight away what I was up to. However, Adelaide being Adelaide, and the Uni Loop being like Rundle Mall for runners (only Adelaide people will get that reference!), people were bound to see me and wonder what I was up to! If I saw a fellow runner once, they wouldn’t bat an eyelid, but if they saw me again, and again, and again, and then possibly going in the opposite direction, then they’d know!

I had planned to tell physio/running buddy Beck once I got up to 4 hours. One Tuesday, after having done a solid 3.5 hours on Sunday, I was having the traditional post-run coffee with Kate, Beck and Leanne, and Leanne, having seen me in passing on Sunday, asked me how many laps I had run. I casually responded ‘a few’ and then Beck asked me what I was up to – the jig was up! I still decided to keep my long runs private on Strava – some things should remain mysterious – but I didn’t need to worry anymore about Beck finding out from someone else!

After Beck found out, I didn’t really need to stay anonymous on the start list, and I gradually let a few people know I was doing it. A few people questioned the wisdom of doing this event, and I decided, you know what, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. I wouldn’t do it if I thought I might end up in the same situation as a few years ago, it was a long time ago and I have rehabbed very well and been über sensible ever since, so yeah it was a risk but a calculated one. And I decided to leave myself as anonymous.

At the time of writing, I haven’t seen Beck but I’d be interested (after the fact) to hear what she REALLY thought when I told her I was doing it. I guess it was a win-win for her – either everything went well, or if it didn’t, I’d be throwing more business her way!

6 weeks out from the event I did a 4 hour run, which was so close to a marathon distance I had to do the extra little bit to make it up to the 42.2 (I was only 500m off the marathon after 4 hours, and I was coincidentally also 500m from my car!). Surprisingly, the next day, my legs did not feel the same as they have in the past after running a marathon – it was ‘just another long run’ and I am sure that the walk/run had a lot to do with that.

It’s not on Strava (well, not publicly anyway) but it did happen!

As had been the case in the past, my training runs would all be on the Uni Loop, with my car parked next to one of the distance markers on the War Memorial Drive side. There were several reasons for this. Firstly, so that it was easy to do a quick stop off at my car to grab a full water bottle or a snack, and not waste too much time. Secondly, because history shows that GPS is notoriously inaccurate on multi-loop runs, and ALWAYS gives you a longer distance than you actually run. This way, I was able to have an accurate measure of my distance (I could easily count laps – I have become pretty good at my 2.2 times table over the years – and then if there was a part-lap at the end I could work that out reasonably accurately.

A beautiful misty morning at the start of one of my training runs!

I had initially planned to do my longest run as 5 hours, then I decided that was unnecessary and that 4.5 hours would be plenty. Then, after having run a marathon distance in my 4 (ish) hour run, I realised that a marathon was the longest distance I’d ever run leading up to a 6 hour, so there was no need to go any further this time. (This was the first time I’d actually trained for a 6 hour event. The previous 2 times I had done it on the back of a marathon training programme).

Following on from the ‘marathon’, I backed it up with 3 hour runs for the next 2 Sundays.

Adding up the 7 training runs prior to taper, it added up to a total of 21 hours and 220km (exactly 100 laps!). It was a steeper curve than would have been ideal, but hopefully it would be enough!

On the Sunday before the event, after a few weeks’ break, I did a 2 hour reccy around the Loop, just to re-acquaint myself with every piece of gravel, blade of grass and minor undulation/mountain on that track (I ran with Cecile, doing her first 6 hour, so I could impart some of my ‘wisdom’ and as a thank you she treated me to a glass of sparkling wine after the run! I’ll run with you any time Cecile if it ends like that!)

Prior to the aforementioned 2 hour run, during the week my UTA 2016 buddy Anna talked me into teaming up with her for the Adelaide Trail Runners Winter Teams Challenge on Saturday afternoon, which meant I was running on tired legs on Sunday – back to back runs is something I’ve been steering clear of lately but as it turns out it was probably not a bad idea – presumably at some point in the 6 hour I would be running on tired legs!

With Anna during the Winter Teams Championships. Photo: Lachlan Miller Photography

After the Sunday run, I did an easy solo 45 minute run on Tuesday and that was my only run prior to Saturday.

On Wednesday prior to the event I got a massage – prior to the 24 hour I had a massage on the day before, but that was not ideal as my massage therapist (and fellow runner!) Amanda was not able to go as hard on my muscles as she would with a bit more time. So consequently she held nothing back! Glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, they all got the treatment!

I also did a bit of a caffeine detox. For the 24 hour 2 years ago, I went off coffee for 1 week prior to the event, so that the caffeine I used during the event to keep me moving, would have more of an effect. Now I don’t drink as much coffee now as I was drinking back then (1 cup a day, occasionally 2) but I had a bit more time to wean off so unlike last time I did not have to go cold turkey. I started about 4 weeks out, dropping back to 3 cups a week, then 1, and then for the 11 days leading up to the event I existed on decaf (a.k.a ‘brown sadness water’). Which can be surprisingly not terrible!

I re-read my 6 hour race reports from 2015 and 2016, specifically to see what I ate the night before (see – if it’s not of interest to anyone else, at least it pays off for me later on down the line!). In 2016 I had been to my favourite stall in the Market Plaza Food Court at the Adelaide Central Market – Pure Vegetarian. And that was a 6 hour PB, so naturally I decided to replicate that this time!

It’s not exactly ‘Insta-worthy’ but damn it was good!

The alarm was set to go off at 4:10 (and 4:15 and 4:20, just in case) with a view to getting to the Loop at 5am for the 6am start. The only reason for getting there so early was to get a good parking spot, as I was planning to use my car as my base, like I did in 2016. I was fortunate enough to snag a rock star park right outside the (one and only) aid station and also close to the start/finish line. That was good because the aid station would be attended throughout the event, so my car could safely be left unlocked, and also because the aid station was easy to spot so I could be prepared to grab and go as I went past!

It was amazingly not as cold as I expected (I was prepared with layers as well as a change of clothing in the unlikely event of rain) so I was able to start in a thin long sleeved top over a T-shirt, and a skirt. I also had fleece gloves on just for the start (because I needed my hands to work in order to get snacks!) and a fluoro pink headband, as the event had a ‘retro’ theme. I had my hat and sunnies ready to go on the back seat of the car, as well as my rain jacket.

On the front seat I had my snacks – 3 Clif bars, a bag of salted caramel balls, a couple of PB sandwiches and some brownies. There was also an esky with a bunch of bottles of Gatorade and also a few of water in case I felt like a change. (As it turned out, somewhere between 3 and 4 hours I got sick of Gatorade and switched to water for most of the rest of the event – I normally have to force myself to drink water but on this occasion it tasted like liquid heaven!) There were also 3 shots of cold brew ready to go – I downed one of those about 15 minutes before the start, the others I would have at 2 and 4 hours or thereabouts.

It was an amazingly foggy morning! Normally you expect to see fog in the hills, not on the flat. It was foggy for my whole drive and it stayed foggy for quite a few hours during the run. It made for a really cool atmosphere!

I started with super speedy Jenny and Sandy for the first couple of laps, it was way too fast and I knew it, but I also knew that at 28 minutes I would be walking and then probably wouldn’t see them again (until eventual winner Sandy lapped me BEFORE the halfway turnaround!). It was nice to have a chat and run while getting warmed up (it didn’t take long to warm up – the gloves came off pretty early, but I was glad to have had them!)

Not long after I dropped Jenny and Sandy (OK OK OK, they dropped me), other ‘randoms’ (I use the term to refer to people who were running on the Uni Loop but were not part of the event) started to come out for their Saturday morning runs. I ran with one such group for a (very) short time, they are a fast bunch but to be fair were only warming up, and as luck would have it one of the awesome volunteers Brenton happened to come by with his camera at the right time to capture me ‘leading the pack’!

It’s a bit hard to see in the fog, and because we’re so fast we’re a blur, but that’s me on the right in the pink! Thanks Brenton for this photo!

I could probably sum up my run in a couple of sentences. I managed to keep up the 28 minute run/2 minute walk for 5 1/2 hours, and then ran the last 30 minutes (because, who needs a walk break with 2 minutes to go?). Everything went according to plan. Most importantly, I DID NOT BREAK!

Just a few little milestones because I like numbers! Based on my electronically recorded lap times, I reached the half marathon distance in a little under 1:59:24. I hit the marathon distance just under 4 hours (I completed 19 laps in 3:54:53 and the marathon distance was 400m past that.) 50km was a little under 4:49. I’d like to compare those times to when I last ran the 6 hour but unfortunately that level of data is not available – Event Strategies only started timing this event in 2017. All in all, I was happy with those numbers!

To be fair, really I was happy just to be there! I actually enjoyed every minute. I had a mini slump between 4 hours and 5 hours (because after 4 hours there’s still 2 hours to go, and that seems like an eternity!) but the introduction of the 24 hour runners was a welcome distraction! David and Colin were the only two to have run every 24 hour run since Ben’s been putting them on, and there were a bunch of other familiar faces from previous years. I was NOT sorry not to be among them on this occasion. (I do, however, reserve the right to have another crack at a 24 hour one day!)

In the zone, definitely did not see the photographer here! Photo credit: Ian Lilburn

The field was pretty big (helped by the fact it was our last chance to run this event, but hindered by COVID-related border closures) – with 58 starters in the 6 hour, 14 in the 12 hour (traditionally the smallest of the 3 events, but definitely my favourite!) and an impressive 40 in the 24 hour. Yep – 40 people who were insane enough to want to run for 24 hours. 4 of whom (Katie, Jac, Stewart and Tamas) had also been insane enough to run a 200 mile trail race a little while back. Insane is probably not strong enough a word – but in all seriousness, much respect!)

One of many great things about this event is there are no DNFs – if you start, you get a medal. There is no ‘finish line’ as such, the finish line is wherever you choose for it to be! And that is what makes this event so special. For some people it might be running a marathon (often a first marathon) or maybe cracking 50km for the first time. For some it’s just about getting out there and socialising (I’m looking at you Kym Williams, one of two runners to have participated in every event since the first 6 hour way back in 2009 – Colin being the other. A third, Graham, was missing for the first time this year, being interstate, potential snap border closures made it too risky to make the trip)

Border closures nearly robbed Tash of her chance to be part of this event but as luck would have it she got let out of home quarantine just in the nick of time!

With Tash, fresh from home quarantine! Photo: Lachlan Miller Photography

For me, it was a bit of trying to test myself to see where I’m at compared with pre-injury, but mostly just wanting to be a part of it one more time. It’s always been about more than running! Really, a fun, social day out with a bit of running thrown in!

Thanks to Brenton for this photo from when the fog had somewhat cleared. Behind me is his wife Karen who would have to have been one of the best dressed, really getting into the ‘retro’ spirit of the event!

The field, owing to the aforementioned border issues, was a lot more ‘local’ than usual. This event has always been held in high regard and attracted a large field from interstate, many elites. That in itself is pretty cool, getting to share the track with some pretty big names, but I am more interested in the ‘ordinary’ people like myself. With the exception of a couple of Victorian entrants who had been regulars over the years, it was mostly a SA-based affair.

Thinking of wine perhaps? Photo: Lachlan Miller Photography

The supporters were fantastic. I think the excellent weather helped, it encouraged a lot more people to come out and support particular runners or just everyone! One guy, Stuart, who everyone probably knows by now, was the guy doing the one-man Mexican wave pretty much from the start! I very much looked forward to seeing what he would come up with each time, and I definitely noted his absence when I missed him for a few laps when he went to get a coffee (how dare he!)

There was another group of ‘Mexican wavers’ on the other side of the track, where there are generally less spectators, so it was nice to see them and to have some distraction on the ‘dark side’ for a few laps!

Getting back to some of the other runners, Cecile, who I had done my last training run with, had a goal in mind and didn’t quite make it but she was having some major hip issues and somehow managed to push through to the end! There was also Marc, who had been told by his physio that he should be running no more than 10km but still managed to crack 50km! (Apparently the physio knew he was doing it, so I haven’t just outed him!)

I love my music, it’s a big part of my life  and it is a non-negotiable on my solo runs, but I use it intermittently during these events (I only ever use music in track events, not road or trail, for safety reasons). This time I grabbed my iPod just before the halfway turnaround. The first song was ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ by the Eagles, closely followed by the obligatory ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ to signify that ‘we’re halfway there’ (I tried not to sing too loud in case some of the runners around me were in the 12 hour and were most definitely NOT halfway there). I don’t have a specifically curated playlist, just a list of about 1000 songs because I never really know what I will feel like listening to! Some of the slower songs that I would skip when running, might be just perfect to listen to while walking. I would just run with one earbud in when going past other runners so I could still chat and hear what was going on around me. It was a nice mix! One of the songs that was ‘just right’ for me this time was ‘Karma Chameleon’ – so much so that I had to play it twice back to back, and yes, there may or may not have been some singing! Another great one was ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ by Blue Öyster Cult – perfect running tempo! Conversely, I regrettably had to skip one of my all-time faves, ‘Wasted Time’ by The Eagles because it’s just too slow for running, and Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ because that would have resulted in some serious air drumming, and I don’t think air drumming while running is the best idea! The last song I heard before I ditched the tunes with about half an hour to go, was ‘Everlong’ – I think we can all agree that is a pretty perfect song – for running or otherwise!

Approaching the end, getting a bit silly… Photo: Lachlan Miller Photography

Getting back to numbers again (sorry I’m a bit all over the place, it’s a while since I’ve done one of these!), once I got to 50km under 5 hours the 60km was looking pretty comfortable so all of a sudden the possibility of a PB was on the table! (my previous PB being 62.199, almost exactly one lap over 60km). Dare I even contemplate the fairytale ending? Whatever happened, it was as good as I could have hoped for!

As it turned out, I managed to complete 28 laps for a total distance of 61.677km (just over 500m short of a PB, but I could not have cared less at this point!). I had grabbed my sandbag with about 15 minutes to go, not sure if I’d make it around one more time before the 6 hours was up. As it turned out I just made it back past the start/finish and as luck would have it the air horns went off just as I got to Cecile’s car, and right near where a few of our supporters, Ryan, Naomi, Heather, Peter and Christine had been enjoying a wine while cheering us on over the last little while. The bottle was empty by the time I got there but happily Cecile had some in her car and we had a celebratory glass while we waited for the final measurements to be done.

Rehydrating with Naomi!

The weather was perfect, the early morning mist really added to the vibe and the sun came out just in time for us to collapse in a heap and rehydrate while watching the 12 and 24 hour runners continue on their merry way! And not having to get my raincoat out, well that was just a bonus!

After the presentations I went home to get a few things done. Remember my detox and subsequent race-day caffeination strategy? Well, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it WORKED. I’m not sure exactly how much it helped my run, but when I got home I powered through the unpacking, bottle washing and laundry and a really solid drum practice session, then couldn’t get to sleep and as a result got up to watch Ash Barty win Wimbledon! I had rather ambitiously told Ben I could volunteer from 5am for the end of the 24 hour – I’ve had such a great time over the years running this event, it was my last chance to see ‘the other side’ of the event! Finish running at 12, home by 2, in bed by 9, up at 4 – too easy, right? Turns out 3 x 50ml shots of cold brew, 2 caffeinated Clif bars and some caffeinated brownies is not a good recipe for a restful night’s sleep!

I got back down to the Uni Loop at about 5 after a sneaky bakery stop for donuts and coffee, and had the rather easy job of sitting at the aid station, eating potato chips and occasionally making a coffee or washing a cup. (I made myself a couple of PB and chip sandwiches – so good! It should be noted that I did make sure there was enough food left for the runners) It was great to see the runners in action, some rarely stopping, some stopping on almost if not every lap. Thankfully there hadn’t been any rain and it wasn’t even all that cold – perfect overnight running weather! I was there with Adam and his son who had also been there for the duration of the 6 hour but I hadn’t actually made a stop at the aid station during my event (which was why I figured it was OK to be eating the food now!) Also there was Ian who had been there for the duration of the event, maybe slept an hour or two, and took a bunch of photos throughout.

AND most excitingly I got to see my name engraved on the perpetual 24 hour trophy from 2 years ago – now THAT was a fairytale (closely followed by a nightmare!)

See! My name! It’s official, it really happened!

Many of the 24 hour runners were still out there – some were resting, others had already gone, things having not gone to plan. Sonja was leading the women’s race by a long way, but the men’s race was an exciting battle that went down to the wire! When I arrived, Travis was leading, but within the last hour or so he was overtaken by David, one of the originals, and David managed to hang on but only by a bit over 100 metres – I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a close finish in a 24 hour race! And how fitting that after being one of only two runners to complete every 24 hour race over the 10 year history of this particular event, he would win for the first time at the final event! Now THERE’S the fairytale ending! He’s a sneaky one, he doesn’t look like he’s going hard but lap by lap he just wears you down and keeps going like the Energizer bunny! (I know this because he did just that to me in 2019!)

Two of the four 200 mile crazies (Jac and Tamas) incredibly managed to finish top 3, and Stewart still managed to rack up 100 miles. Tamas was incredible because he seemed to be smiling and just loving every single minute – his enthusiasm was infectious! Katie had pulled the pin early (a sensible decision by the sound of it!) but still managed a not too shabby 50km before doing so!

Another honourable mention must go to Hoang, who managed both her first 100km and first 100 mile – I don’t think in the history of the event any woman has completed 100 miles and not been in the top 3!

After the presentations Jenny came back down and with Ian and Ben we managed to get the gear all packed and loaded before a few light drops of rain began to fall – it was like Ben had made a deal with the universe to keep the rain away for this one last time, and the universe held up its end of the bargain – so very fitting!

So this event as we know it is now over, but maybe someone might decide to take the challenge of putting it on in future. I hope so, as I said at the start it is my favourite (the 12 hour is my favourite favourite, the 24 hour definitely has some great memories for me, but I am not sure I’d want to run another 6!) If not, I can definitely see myself, once border closures are a thing of the past, going on the occasional ‘runcation’ to do a similar event interstate. But there’s really nothing like running an event like this in your home town!

To the runners that I have shared the track with, encouraging others as you work towards your own goals, this year and in previous years, you are my kind of people, you just GET IT. I don’t have to explain to you why I love this event.

To all the volunteers that have put in countless hours to make all these events happen, well you know we wouldn’t be here without you.

And last but definitely not least, to Ben for putting this event on for all these years with your ever growing family commitments not to mention everything else, I still have no idea how you do it, but I am so grateful that you do! It has been a privilege to run so many of your events over the years, thanks for everything!

SO many fantastic memories – 5000 words doesn’t even scratch the surface!

And if you’ve lasted to the end – well done, it’s been quite a ride!

Punkt Zu Punkt 2021 (aka ‘Will Run For Wine’)

This weekend I took a cruise up to the Barossa to participate in an event I’d never done before. Punkt Zu Punkt (German for ‘Point to Point’ is a trail run presented by Chaffey Brothers Wines with Adelaide Trail Runners as part of the Barossa Vintage Festival. This was the third running of the biennial event. The 2017 event had only the 33km from Bethany to Angaston, which I opted not to do as I was in Washington DC at the time, having just run Boston (has it really been 4 years???). In 2019 an out-and-back 7km was added. This time I was in peak training for the Adelaide 24 hour, so I’d decided to go and run the 5k at Clare instead.

I was keen to run it this year, until i realised it was the week after McLaren Vale. This year another shorter distance, 14km, was also included. That was the one I had been looking at. I knew that the 33km participants all got wine at the end, but I was nowhere near ready for that sort of distance! The tipping point was when I realised that 14km runners ALSO got wine (1 bottle, with the 33km runners getting 2 bottles) and that was when I threw reason out the window and thought, WHY THE HELL NOT run back to back events?

After McLaren Vale I just had the one run during the week. My pre-race meal consisted of paella and a cheeky glass of red wine while watching the final episode of The Sopranos (I have mentioned before that I have a history of being late to the party when it comes to TV series – this time I was only 14 years late!) – how about that ending?

Gear-wise, I decided to leave the bottles at home and get my bladder out of storage – I figured, while 500ml (2 x 250ml bottles) was enough for the shorter distances of the Summer Series, I should probably have a bit more fluid on board for a longer event, plus the VERY CIVILISED 10am start time meant it would likely be a bit warmer than I was used to! (As always, for anything less than an ultra, I prefer not to have to stop at the drink stations).

For once I decided not to wear pink (2 events 2 weeks in a row, I can hardly wear the same outfit now, can I?), instead I went with a nice green T-shirt which would go nicely with my purple race vest (green and purple in a wine region, how appropriate!). I also pulled out my rainbow arm warmers for a pop of colour. What I didn’t realise at the time, until I looked at my Facebook memories on race morning, was that it was exactly 4 years since Boston, AND I had worn the very same arm warmers that day too! Spooky!

The 10am start was a bonus – I didn’t need to leave home until around 8am! As I was on the way there I was kicking myself for forgetting to bring a change of shoes – if it was muddy out there, I could hardly walk into a cellar door afterwards with muddy trail shoes! However there hadn’t been too much rain so I was hopeful it wouldn’t be too bad.

I kind of wanted to know what the course was like – I had been assured that it was very well marked, and there were maps on the website that meant nothing to me, not knowing the area, but what I really wanted to know was the elevation – I knew the 33km had a lot of elevation near the start, but we wouldn’t be running that bit. At the start line, I saw Mal who always has all the info (distance, elevation, etc) and he told me it was around 200m and showed me an elevation plot – nothing too dramatic, being out and back it was a mirror image, and there was a bit of up and a bit of down both ways.

Doesn’t look too gnarly! Bit of a climb at the start but a nice downhill finish!

There was a fair bit of road in the course but the website showed it was 85% trail and 15% bitumen. The roads weren’t closed so we had to give way to traffic, but being a Sunday morning in the country, there wasn’t a heap of traffic.

There were 42 runners in the 14km, a nice smallish number, so no wave starts this time, we all set off together. No-one seemed to want to be at the front! But when you see someone in an Adelaide Harriers singlet you know you’ve got someone to chase (if you can keep them in sight for long enough, that is!). Early on, the top 3 females were clearly a long way ahead of me, so I just tried to keep them in sight for as long as I could. With a few stretches of open road, it was easy to spot them. It wasn’t too bad running on non-closed roads – given that I was in trail shoes I tended to try to run on the gravel shoulder wherever possible. There were a couple of road crossings, and I was kind of hoping a car might come along to force the girls in front of me to stop and give me a chance to catch up, but no such luck! It wouldn’t have made a difference anyway, they would have been well ahead of me soon after!

Near the start. Official photo by Lachlan Miller.

The course was well marked, and there were plenty of times when I was running on my own and often without being able to see the runner in front, but I never took a wrong turn or missed a turn. There was one section, in a field, where the 2 lead females had taken a wrong turn, the 3rd female was far enough behind to see their error and not make it herself, and of course I was well back enough to do the same! I can see where they went wrong, the signage could have been confusing given that there were arrows to mark the course in both directions, and it made perfect sense when I came back through the same section. Just goes to show that blindly following the runner in front of you is never a good plan!

There was one non-runnable hill, a bit of rock climbing. I saw the girl in front of me start walking and that was my cue! I tried the ‘8 step run, 8 step walk’ technique but eventually realised that was futile and just walked until I got to the top of that hill. The other hills on the course, I either ran or walk/ran.

On the way out to the turnaround, the faster 33km runners started to come through (the 7km and the 14km were out and back along the same course that the 33km followed, which made perfect sense in terms of minimising the amount of marking and drink stations required, plus it meant the runners got to see more people out there which is always nice especially in a small event) – of course they were all wearing red and white!

When we reached the turnaround, I was a bit pleased to see that we hadn’t quite reached 7km so that meant it would be a little bit shorter than 14km all up. No problem for me! I was pushing fairly hard trying to maintain my position so 13.5k would be more than enough, thank you very much!

On the way back I saw the rest of the 14km runners coming towards me, there was a guy and a girl who seemed to be a little bit close for comfort and I didn’t want to be overtaken by anyone else (since the start I had so far only been overtaken by the 2nd and 3rd male in the 14km, as well as the fast 33k runners, and I didn’t want any other 14k runners to pass me!) so I had to keep working!

I swore I could hear a conversation quite close behind me and I could hear a female voice, so I picked up the pace a bit.

I think it was on the last road crossing, after I went through I heard a voice very close behind me, and event though you NEVER look back, I did – there was a guy only metres behind me! This would not do! I picked up the pace again.

Before too long the finish was in sight and he eventually caught up with me, he said he’d been following me for the last 40 minutes! Turned out he had run the first half with his brother and then taken off on his own, and had been running 4 minute kms to catch me – I told him he definitely deserved to be ahead of me, ultimately he finished 4 seconds ahead of me and I ended up finishing 8th overall in a time of 1:09:46. And that female voice I heard? Probably not my imagination, the next male finished only 9 seconds behind me and the next female just 13 seconds behind me.

Not quite sure what I was thinking here! Official photo at finish line by Lachlan Miller.

The finish line atmosphere was great, with lots of stalls set up, including a wine bar (which I may or may not have checked out before the start of the run – just looking to see what I would have afterwards, I did not indulge in a pre-race tipple!) so I hung around there for quite a while, waiting for the other runners to finish (there were a lot of familiar faces out there!) and watching the presentations. (I was a solid 1 minute 30 behind 3rd place so I was pretty satisfied that I could not possibly have done any better than I did!)

I didn’t end up stopping for a wine after all – a few of us popped down to the main street to get a coffee, and by the time we’d finished there, I needed to head back to Adelaide for a Zoom conference so I didn’t even have time to stop off for a wine tasting while I was in the Barossa! (I did, however, make a quick stop at the Barossa Valley Chocolate Company)

I heard some talk about this becoming an annual event – I hope it does, and next time I might even think about doing the 33km (2 bottles of wine AND a sweet medal might just get me across the line!)

Congratulations to all the runners, and thanks to all the fantastic volunteers as always! Well done to Daniel (Chaffey Brothers) and Brett (Adelaide Trail Runners) for making it all happen!

(This is probably going to be my last post for a while, with no events on the immediate horizon!)

I will very much enjoy drinking this, knowing that I earned it!

Great Southern Runs Leconfield McLaren Vale Marathon – The Running Company Half Marathon

Official photo from Marathon Photos

Last weekend was the inaugural running of the Leconfield McLaren Vale Marathon, presented by Great Southern Runs. It seemed like an age ago that I entered, so I checked my emails and yeah it was 4 September 2020. I’m pretty sure “Early bird entries closing” and “Winery” got me over the line! It was the first event I’d entered since the stupid injury (the Murray Bridge half happened back in November, but I entered that in October).

The event took place over 2 days, with the shorter distance events being run on the Saturday (in pretty gnarly weather!) and the half and full marathons being run on Sunday.

I had entered the half marathon, with plenty of time to train. I got mixed up in the ATR Summer Series so that made it a bit challenging to fit in the longer runs, but I managed to get up to 20km a couple of weeks ago. I had never really done this before but I did a few long runs combined with parkrun (because I am rapidly closing in on 300 parkruns and I didn’t want to miss a parkrun if I could avoid it!). Because I like to socialise after parkrun, I didn’t want to have to do a parkrun and then keep running, so I decided to suck it up and start at arse o’clock to get the bulk of my long run in, and then finish it off with the parkrun. (And to time it so I had a short break between the two runs, but not so long a break as to cool down too much!). Having now done the half, and with no more events to train for for a little while, I am QUITE glad that I can go back to ‘just’ running 5k on a Saturday!

Great Southern Runs, if you recall, is the same mob that put on the Great Southern Half Marathon. Probably most memorable for its RIDICULOUS bling!

I was back in the vicinity of that very event earlier in the weekend. I have recently signed on as an Event Ambassador for parkrun in SA. There are quite a few of us now (I’m not sure of the exact number) and each one supports a number of existing parkrun events as well as helping set up new ones. This weekend the group of us were volunteering at Aldinga Beach parkrun, spending Friday night in a lovely beach house (a stone’s throw away!) for a little team bonding! It bucketed down with rain just before the parkrun start at 8:00, making me VERY glad I had opted for the half marathon over one of the shorter events, as I would otherwise be running in that! I was assured the weather would be better on Sunday!

RD Michelle multitasking like a boss!
The tail walkers are in – time for coffee!
A sea of purple!

The half started at 7:15, so I was up at 5 for breakfast before hitting the road just before 6. I didn’t put too much thought into what I would wear – in the end, because I haven’t done a lot of long stuff recently, I thought it would be safest to wear the same gear I wore for Murray Bridge. Plus, fluoro pink against an overcast sky, surely that would pop in the photos? (OK I didn’t think of that, I’m just thinking that now, but I’m definitely glad I opted for pink over black!)

After the Belair leg of the ATR Summer Series, you’d think I would have been more prepared for the cold start (and ESPECIALLY since I’d been down that way the day before!) but no. Still no gloves in the car! I did however have a hoodie and a beanie, so that’s something!

Not long before the start time, the half marathon runners were called over to the start. I had checked my bib and I was down for Wave 1 which I presumed would be the first wave. Malcolm, the timing guy, invited those in Wave 1A to step forward, the idea being that there would be approximately 50 runners in each wave (for COVID reasons, of course!). I figured Wave 1A would be followed by Wave 1, but he then said Wave 1B runners could line up behind Wave 1A. So where was Wave 1? In the end he said it didn’t matter which wave you actually started in, and I was getting cold standing around, and there was space in Wave 1A, so I decided to go. I crossed the timing mat which signified that there was no turning back, at which point I realised I may have just made a huge mistake.

What was I doing here? This was no Summer Series, with 2 waves, and me quite rightfully belonging in the first one.  In the half marathon there were 321 finishers, and with max 50 per wave, presumably at least 7 waves. I definitely did not belong in the first one! Plus, with the rest of them all being fast, I would be at the back of the pack, so all by myself! For the sake of 2 minutes (the time between waves) I could very well have waited for the second wave.

Anyway, I was committed now, so there wasn’t anything left to do but run!

I didn’t know much at all about the course. I seemed to recall someone mentioning hills, and it was cold and windy. So, I decided there was no point setting a goal time, although sub 1:45 did have a nice ring to it. I had had a shockingly good run at Murray Bridge and there was no way I was going to replicate that, so I might as well forget it! Just go out and run, and enjoy it! (I had arm warmers on, which conveniently covered my watch, so that made it easy for me to not look at my watch and ‘just run’!)

If you use your imagination it kind of looks like an emu with a really tiny head…

I wasn’t right at the back of the pack (The Running Company, the sponsor of the half, posted a video on Facebook of the first wave start. I was probably about three-quarters of the way towards the back). I was hoping that I would not end up last in the wave! I knew that I had to be relatively conservative at the start and not get dragged along by the fast ones (not that I had a snowflake’s chance in hell of keeping up with them!)

Looking back at my splits, I probably would have been a bit alarmed had I known at the time but my first 2  splits were 4:34 and 4:39. Looking closer at the analysis on Strava, they were both quite cruisy downhill kilometres so that seems about right! The 3rd kilometre brought the first uphill bit. This, I think, was when I started getting overtaken by people from the later waves. Every time someone passed me I died a little inside and it confirmed my hypothesis that I definitely should NOT have been in this wave! Looking ahead I could see Erin, who is a much faster runner than me, but I figured if I could keep her in sight on the straight bits, I would not be doing too badly! I actually almost caught her on that first hill but knowing my prowess (or rather, lack thereof) on hills, I figured there was no point as she’d only cruise straight back past me, as a lot of the other later starters were already doing!

Quite early on (arm warmers in use). Still reasonably happy at this stage! Official photo from Marathon Photos.

One of the things I really liked about this course was the multiple out and backs, where we got to see all the other half marathoners, and later, some of the marathoners!

Loved the out and back aspect! Official photo from Marathon Photos

I think it was around the 6k mark where I realised there weren’t any kilometre markers, and then I got a bit excited to see one with ‘7’ on it – had I somehow run 1km more than I thought I had! (Don’t you just LOVE it when that happens? It doesn’t happen very often, I can tell you!). No, the sign actually said ‘7km TO GO’. And it was LYING! We had at least 15km to go!!! (Turned out we’d go past that sign again, and this time it would be telling the truth!)

I actually liked the ‘to go’ markers. With a marathon being 42.2km and a half being 21.1, markers that tell you how far you’ve gone, let you conveniently forget about that pesky extra 100 or 200m!

Meanwhile I was trying to break the half down into parkruns (keeping up the parkrun flavour of the weekend!) by listening out for the beeps on my watch and trying to keep count. Until we started seeing the ‘to go’ markers at which point I started counting down the kilometres.

At the 10km mark I started to notice a light drizzle. I was weirdly hoping it would stick around but it didn’t last. I definitely remember at 15km willing it to start up again! It wasn’t exactly warm but a few light spots of rain definitely helped to cool off a bit!

I ran with my hydration vest as I had at Murray Bridge, the thinking there being that not having to stop at the drink stations should save me a little bit of time. As it turned out I didn’t end up drinking anything until after I’d finished, probably not the smartest move. Ironically, I reckon if I’d not carried hydration I would have drunk more! This time I only had water because I couldn’t be bothered mixing up any Gatorade – perhaps I may have been more inclined to drink if I’d had something other than water? Certainly it was nowhere near as warm as it had been at Murray Bridge, so hydration was less of an issue.

Towards the end there was another biggish hill (there were quite a few little ones, with two main ones, at the 3km mark and right near the end. I’m not the best going up hills. I may have mentioned that before.

YAY for hills! NOT!

I was pleased to see that Erin was still in sight, therefore I was keeping consistent. I had a bunch of people breathing down my neck and I was trying desperately to stay ahead of them, and in the process I actually managed to catch up with Erin!

Right near the end, within the last kilometre, I saw some bunting which I was sure signified the turn into the finish area, however I could also see a bunch of runners ahead of me who did NOT turn there! (You will just have to imagine the words that went through my head at that point!). Thankfully the turn was not too much further up the road (up, of course it was up) and then we were onto the grass to pretty much run a lap around the entire finish line village before finally hitting that magical finish line! (Forgive the self indulgence with the photos but the different facial expressions really tell the story!)

FInish line feels! Official photo from Marathon Photos.
FInish line feels! Official photo from Marathon Photos.
FInish line feels! Official photo from Marathon Photos.
FInish line feels! Official photo from Marathon Photos.
FInish line feels! Official photo from Marathon Photos.

My finish time was 1:42:24 (official time was 1:42:23.29 so presumably that would be rounded down to 1:42:23?) – given that I would describe it as not the easiest course and definitely not flat, I was shocked to realise it was nearly 20 seconds quicker than Murray Bridge – I’m sure the cooler weather conditions had something to do with it, maybe the fact that there were a lot more runners out there and I had people to chase/try to keep ahead of, not to mention the fact that I have an extra 5 months worth of training under my belt. Whatever, I’ll take it! This was half marathon number 26 (not counting trail halves as you can hardly compare the times!) with 7 of those being as a pacer. Of those, this was my 4th fastest (after 2015 Masters Games, City-Bay 2018 and Barossa 2016 – and all of those were significantly flatter according to Garmin. So yeah I have to be pretty happy with that!

With Kate and Tom at the end. Me looking very happy because I gots my coffee!

After the obligatory post-race coffee (because the wine bar was not open at 9am) I went to have ‘second brekky’ with regular running buddy Kate, her workmate Tom (doing his first half) and former running buddy Alison, back in town for a visit. And then of course, being in McLaren Vale, it would be rude not to stop off for a sneaky wine tasting on the way home…

OK it’s not the sponsor but to be fair, they weren’t open when we left the event – will have to come back another day!

A big CONGRATULATIONS to all the runners in all the events, especially those doing their first marathon/half/running event! And of course a huge thanks to all the organisers, sponsors and volunteers! I reckon I’d do this one again 🙂

Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series Race 4 – Belair

Yesterday was the fourth and final race in the 2020-2021 Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series. Just to explain the series briefly, it consists of 4 races across the summer, at Anstey Hill, Cleland, Onkaparinga and finally Belair. It was originally put on by Yumigo! which then became Ultra Runners South Australia, and this was the first year it was under the Adelaide Trail Runners banner. The 4 events have short, medium and long courses, and each event is a stand-alone event but participants also accrue points towards age group awards at the end of the series. It is a great incentive to enter the whole series rather than individual races, especially for those who are unlikely to be at the ‘pointy end’ of the field! I have run a number of events in the series in the past, and once I managed to run 3 of the 4 races which allowed me to scrape in for 3rd place in my age group (1st and 2nd in my age group also happened to be in the top 3 overall for the series – tough age group!). I don’t quite understand the point system but all I know is that going into the final event I was 1st in my age group for the short course and the points system is designed that only your best 3 points scores are counted. Which basically means that I would still win it even if I didn’t show up to Belair. But where’s the fun in that? I’d already paid for it, plus, I’m training for a half marathon and if I didn’t run the 10k at Belair I was going to have to do a road 19km. So naturally I went to Belair!

I hadn’t run recently at Belair – I think probably my last time running there was 2 years ago at the end of Five Peaks. Belair was also the site of my very first trail race in 2015, one of the very first events put on by Trail Running SA. My run itself was not particularly memorable (14km in 1:31:12, average pace 6:30 per km. 126th out of 188 and 44th female out of 96). Sadly I had only just started my blog then and I didn’t write a report on this one – I’d love to read it now! I was, however, lucky enough to win the random draw prize for a pair of Salomon trail shoes – and I’ve been running in Salomon trail shoes ever since! (I’ve paid for the rest of them, by the way!)

As for the other events in the series, the short course started after the long and medium so theoretically we could get there later, however I did get there about an hour before my event was due to start, to ensure I was able to get a car park. It also gave me time to go for a little wander to loosen up the legs, and not have to rush around.

With a bit of rain having fallen on Saturday, I was expecting it to be somewhat muddy out on the trails so I had decided against debuting my brand new trail shoes which have been sitting in my wardrobe patiently waiting since August 2019! What I was NOT expecting (but could quite easily have known, had I checked the weather forecast) was that it was COLD at the start! I even contemplated running in long sleeves (luckily I’d put a thin long sleeved top in my car as an afterthought, as well as a thicker one) and was annoyed to find that my fleece gloves were not in the car!

Standing at the start line, I was probably towards the middle of the pack (as per the other 3 events there were 2 waves and I was in the first wave) and there were quite a few women in front of me at the start. I had my long sleeved top on over my singlet at this stage and with a couple of minutes to go, decided that I would take it off and shove it in my race vest. That ended up being a very good idea – it gave me an extra layer to put on at the end, and it didn’t take long once we started, for me to warm up!

Given that we all finish at the same place and all courses share one common drink station, there must have been runners from long and medium courses that I encountered along the way. It was difficult to tell as I came up alongside someone and (hopefully) passed them, whether they were in my event, whether they were long or medium, or indeed whether they were just members of the public out for a nice run/hike on a Sunday morning! And I was trying to hold onto the ‘don’t look back’ philosophy so I couldn’t very well turn around once I’d passed them to see if I was in fact competing against them! So I just went with the assumption that they were ALL in my event and I would try to pass any female I happened to see (and hopefully not let them pass me again).

Pic courtesy of official photographer Lachlan Miller. Steve’s arm just in front of me (we’ll get to that!)

One such person was a girl in a dark green long sleeved top, who I later found out was Amy. I knew she was in the short course as I had seen her at the start – I’d noticed because she was wearing the same long sleeved top (albeit in a different colour) as I now wasn’t wearing. She seemed to be just that little bit too far in front of me but I decided to keep her in sight and hope for a bit of a surge at the end. As per the previous races I didn’t know what position I was in, although I did know that Anna and Rosie were both ahead of me again, so I was well and truly out of medal contention even if there were no other ladies in between Amy and the other two.

I was also trying to stick close to Steve, who I knew from many previous running events, and who had been within sight of me throughout the whole event. We had gone back and forth, sometimes I’d lead for a while, then he’d lead and I’d try to keep him in sight.

Pic courtesy of official photographer Sputnik. Again Steve setting the pace!
Pic courtesy of official photographer Sputnik.

I reckon around the halfway mark I did eventually catch Amy and pass her but I knew she was not far behind. Uphills are not my strongest point and there was a bit of uphill in the course, and I think she passed me a couple of times on the uphills (I went with the 8 step run/8 step walk strategy again – that seems to work well for me)

There wasn’t so much single track as at Onkaparinga so I didn’t find myself in the same situation as last time where I’d either be stuck behind someone and unable to pass, or have someone breathing down my neck (and often both!). There was really only one spot where I remember it being a bit of a bottleneck and that was the infamous Echo Tunnel at around the halfway mark. I hadn’t realised that the tunnel would be part of the course, but when I found out during a conversation with Heather and Peter at parkrun the previous day, I thought it would be a good idea to take my head torch to navigate through the tunnel. Well it doesn’t really require navigation, it’s a straight tunnel but VERY dark so a little light would make things a lot easier! (At the start line Heather said she also had brought her head torch!) As I saw the sign indicating that the tunnel was just ahead, I opened up the pocket on my race vest and took out the head torch and put it on. What a difference that made! I’m not sure why I didn’t run/walk on the low side of the tunnel (often filled with flowing water, but on this occasion it was bone dry) – not only would I not have to bend like a pretzel to avoid bumping my head on the roof, I could also theoretically overtake the conga line of people feeling their way through the tunnel! Anyway, if anyone is reading this in preparation for doing this event in future, if you take nothing else from this race report, TAKE A TORCH! Even your phone torch will do!

I had been thinking prior to this event, trying to guess what theme the RMA ladies would go with at this event (following on from Christmas in December, cricket in January and tennis in February) – and when I saw them I thought ‘OF COURSE! How did I not guess that?’ – they had gone with an AFL theme, with the AFL season due to start this week. Bravo ladies – definitely a welcome sight as always!

This pic was taken at the end – captured this shot of official photographer Sputnik taking a photo of the RMA ladies doing a jump shot at the finish line. I think it turned out pretty well (bet Sputnik’s shot was better though!)

The last little bit of the course was fun! Lots of downhill! Keeping Steve in sight became a bit more challenging because he was going SO FAST. At one point I thought I saw someone on a bike flying down the hill, but no, it was just Steve! It was great to have him to follow because it made me run faster to try to keep up, and forget about the potential threat of Amy looming behind me!

Pic courtesy of official photographer Sputnik.
Pic courtesy of official photographer Sputnik. All smiles because we’re near the end and it was literally all downhill!
Pic courtesy of official photographer Sputnik. All smiles because we’re near the end and it was literally all downhill!

And, just as I had at Onkaparinga, when I saw the finish line I had a sneaky peek over my shoulder and couldn’t see anyone. Whatever position I was in now, that was where I would stay!

As soon as I crossed the finish line, my first thought was ‘coffee and a brownie’! It was Caravino, the same coffee van as last time, and last time I had opted for an almond croissant over a brownie, so I decided this time I needed to test out the brownie! (Spoiler alert, it was TO DIE FOR!) I was also pleased to see that they had compostable coffee cups, one small piece of feedback for next time, it would be good to have some kind of sign that the cups are compostable so that people know they can take them home and put them in their green bin. I saw the rubbish bins overflowing with cups at the end, and I know trail runners are generally pretty eco-friendly types (most trail runs now having moved away from plastic cups at drink stations) so I am sure that many of them would have taken them home if they’d known.

When I did eventually look at the results I saw that Amy was less than 14 seconds behind me! If not for me trying to keep up with Steve, she probably would have caught me!

Overall it’s been a really great series, and well done to Adelaide Trail Runners and all the fabulous volunteers for making it happen! At the end of Belair I was KIND OF glad it was over (only because I had to work so damn hard at the end!) but now in hindsight I kind of wish there were more events as I feel like I have been improving throughout the series. Which I guess is what you want! I definitely feel like I earned my bling at Belair more than at any of the other events! I look forward to running it again in future, and I think now that I have a bit of trail momentum I might have a go at the Trail Running SA winter series!

Until next time…

Just a cat wearing a medal…

 

Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series Race 3 – Onkaparinga River

Pre-start pic stolen from Scuba!

Never before had I run at the site of Race 3 in the 2020-21 Summer Trail Series – Onkaparinga River. In fact, I didn’t even really know where it was, other than ‘way down south’. I was pretty sure I’d seen once from a winery at McLaren Vale but that was about it, so it was a bit exciting to be running in parts unknown! As usual I didn’t pay much attention to the map or elevation, although at the start, Mal had a printed map that indicated the short course was 9.4km (so in other words, somewhere between 8 and 10km!) and the elevation was less than Anstey Hill and Cleland. Plus the finish was uphill. I didn’t really want to know that but it was helpful to know.

Numbers were good again – almost 400 finishers all up, with 147 in the long course, 127 in the medium and 122 in the short.

As I did for the last event at Cleland I had a bit of a ‘taper’ week – I did my usual Tuesday and Thursday runs but abbreviated, aiming for about 45 minutes – and then gave parkrun a miss on Saturday.

Being Fringe time I went to shows on both Friday and Saturday night – Saturday night’s thankfully was not a late one and I was designated driver. I was seriously craving Coke when I was on the way home and was planning to stop at a servo to get one after I dropped my friends home, but one of them, Chris, suggested that Coke just before bed was probably not a good idea. I thank her for that because she was right, and when I got home I drank some water which tasted pretty damn good and did not interfere with my pre-race sleep! (If it matters, pre-race dinner was a mushroom pizza from Anchovy Bandit. So good. Didn’t need to eat the whole thing but did anyway. Even though I was only running 9.4ish kilometres the next day!)

Given that I didn’t know where it was, plus as usual the short course started after the long and medium, meaning that I would need to allow more time for parking and walking to the start, I allowed plenty of time to get there, meaning that I arrived early enough to see the medium course runners set off before joining the (at that time non-existent!) portaloo queue. I mean the queue was non-existent, the portaloos were very much existent. Plus they were the fancy ones with the mirrors so I could check my hair on the way out – bonus!

Again the weather was pretty good – it had been a hot week but thankfully had cooled down by the weekend. It was sunny – which wasn’t so much an issue during the race, more so on the drive down, on a narrow windy (not to mention unfamiliar) road where there were times I was driving straight into the sun!

As in the other 2 races, there were 2 waves for each distance. Having started in the first wave at the first two events, I figured that was the go again! We all lined up by the timing mats only to be told that we were starting in the opposite direction – if the race director wasn’t sure about which way we were going, I’m not sure there was much hope for me being able to find my way (especially as a virgin in these parts!)

Anyway, we eventually set off in the right direction and I figured I’d just follow the crowd as I normally do, except then I couldn’t, because they all took off and I knew better than to try to keep up. That would only end badly for me!

I was on my own for a little while before encountering some of the longer course runners. That was when things started to get interesting!

You see, one thing I didn’t know beforehand (not that it would have made much difference) was that this course has a lot of single track. A LOT. While I don’t mind a bit of single track, what I don’t like so much is being caught up in congestion on a single track, which was exactly what happened. For the longest time I was either wanting to overtake those in front (but not being able to) and/or having people breathing down my neck (but with no room to overtake). I figured I’d best just suck it up and wait for the trail to open up a bit. Some people did stop on the side and let others through – I thank them for that but it’s not my style to do that myself – unless I personally need to stop for some reason, I’ll just keep moving.

Given that people were behind me, I didn’t feel like I could do my ‘walk/run’ that I normally do on some of the longer/steeper hills – I felt like I had to keep running. So that took a bit more out of me than I would have liked, but conversely the times I got ‘stuck’ behind someone, I was able to have a bit of a rest and give the legs a break. So it probably all evened out in the end. Not that it mattered. The lead pack was so far in front at this stage (I assume – I hadn’t seen them since about 200m from the start) there was no chance of getting anywhere near them this time!

Having never been here before you’d think I would have taken a moment to take in the views – but nope! After the race several people were commenting on how lovely the scenery was. Luckily some of them had stopped to take photos otherwise I would have had NO IDEA! I must go back there one day and just walk it.

Even though I was watching my feet and straight ahead of me instead of admiring the scenery – I did trip on a rock once. Luckily I managed to maintain a vertical orientation and hopefully helpfully pointed said rock out to the person behind me. I didn’t hear a crash or any swearing so I am assuming they didn’t trip on it! (There was a bit of carnage on show at the end though – quite a few people had gone arse over, possibly admiring the view? Susan and her first aid team had a bit of patching up work to do!)

Official race photo – Thanks to Lachlan Miller!

There was only one drink station on the course (for all 3 distances) which was pretty smart – given that we don’t do cups anymore, many people take their own hydration, and given that due to COVID now we aren’t allowed to fill our own bottles/flasks/bladders, drink stops take longer than they used to, so a lot of the faster runners don’t stop. Therefore, it was manageable having only one drink station and it meant less volunteers were required. It was the RMA crew again and this time they had adopted a tennis theme, given that the Australian Open finals were on that weekend. It was also quite funny for me because prior to going out on Saturday night, I was at a friend’s house and his son asked me if I wanted to play tennis with him. Having not played tennis (and I use the term ‘played’ VERY loosely) in… at least 20 years, it could have ended in disaster but I sort of remembered how to hit a ball. Still can’t serve to save my life though! So that was a bit of a highlight for me!

Did I mention that there was a lot of single track? For quite a while in the back half I was following a guy in black with blue socks (I believe his name was Sam) and at one stage he asked me if I wanted to pass him – I didn’t at that stage, he was running at just the right pace for me so I sat behind him – not too close, mind you, but he must have got sick of it after awhile because just as I was thinking about possibly making a move next time I got enough space to do so, he took off! He ended up finishing about a minute ahead of me. Not long after this I was overtaken by Darren, who I encouraged to try to catch him but he didn’t quite get there – he must have had a very strong finish!

Now I try to go by the rule “don’t look back” MOST of the time. There are a few reasons why it is not a good idea. One, you might trip over if you try to look back while still moving forward. Two, you’re letting the person behind you (if there is a person behind you) know that you’re aware of them and that you might see them as a threat. Maybe I am over thinking this but I know if I was following someone and they kept looking back, that MY first thought would be, “I’ve got this!” So I try not to do it.

On this particular occasion though, I DID do it. I looked back 4 times in the final stretch – there were definitely people behind me but estimating the distance to the finish line and the distance that they were behind me, after the 4th look I was confident that there was no way they were going to catch me. If they were fast enough to overtake me now, they would surely have done it earlier. And there was always a good chance they were not even in the short course event, as the finish was common to all 3 distances. So long story short, I was pretty comfortable with my position at that stage. And those in front of me (nearest were Sam and Darren) were too far ahead for me to even contemplate catching.

So I made my way up the hill to the finish line. For me it was probably the most challenging of the 3 races so far, even though elevation-wise it is technically the easiest. And I’m not the best going up hills so generally less elevation is good for me! In terms of average pace it was the fastest, but again with less elevation you’d expect that. I was pretty spent by the end so I just kept walking back to the car to get my reusable coffee cup, because, will run for coffee! (Unless there is also wine, in which case wine might win out!) When I got back to the coffee van (a new one to me – Caravino) – I was super excited to find that not only did they use Sublime coffee but also they had a number of different vegan goodies! I asked the girl to choose for me between an almond crème croissant and a chocolate brownie. She chose the croissant for me and it was way delicious!

Not long afterwards they started the presentations, I had only just got back from dropping some stuff off at my car and didn’t realise until then but I had managed to scrape in for 3rd place behind Anna (doing her first race of the series) and Rosie (who beat me in Race 1, but pleasingly I had closed the time gap slightly – from close to 3 minutes at Anstey Hill, to about half that here at Onkaparinga. I was surprised to find out that 4th place was only about 20 seconds behind me – she must have been in that pack that I kept seeing when I looked back – I could have sworn they were further away than that! Out of all the races so far I think I definitely earned my place most in this one!

With 2 of the fabulous tennis-themed RMA ladies at the finish line – look how colour coordinated we are!

Thanks again to all the fabulous volunteers and Adelaide Trail Runners for putting on another fantastic event – as I said before I definitely intend to come back and actually appreciate the scenery (although I may have to supply my own coffee and croissant next time!)

Race 4 is only 3 weeks away at Belair – can’t wait!

Happy days!

Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series Race 2 – Cleland

This weekend was the second race of the Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Trail Series, at Cleland. You can read my report from Race 1 at Anstey Hill here.

I have run this event once before, in 2019. Last year I was volunteering – it would still be a few days before I was cleared to start running again after 4 long months! So it was good to be back out there again running!

This is my closest event in the series, and an area where I run pretty regularly. As per last month I hadn’t done quite as much trail running as I would have liked in the leadup to the event. I think I did maybe 2 trail runs?

Prior to my half marathon in November, I was in a pretty good routine of having a ‘drop down’ week every 4th week. After the half the routine kind of fell apart as I had a very easy 4 weeks to recover from the half, and never really got back into the ‘3 weeks on 1 week off’ routine. So I decided at the start of this year to get back into it again, and this week seemed as good as any to have a quiet week. So I ran 8km Tuesday and Thursday (aiming for around 45 minutes where I would normally run for about an hour) and then volunteered at parkrun on Saturday, hoping that this would lead to fresh legs on Sunday!

I entered the whole series, short course, and as per all the other events the long course started at 7, medium at 7:30 and short at 8. I still needed to get there early though because there were a lot of medium and long course runners, therefore the carpark would have been pretty full had I got there after 7:30! (Plus it turns out a lot of people don’t know how to park between two white lines, so there were less parks than there should have been!)

Earlier in the week I had to clean my front windscreen as I could hardly see through it. I did a really crappy job of it, leaving streaks right in my line of sight. I thought to myself, next time I go for petrol I’ll fix that. Then, on the drive up to Cleland, it started raining lightly so I put my wipers on. And then it dawned on me – why did I not think of doing that a few days ago! Windscreen = clean! *facepalm*

The light shower on the way up was all the rain we got, and really the conditions could not have been better. I had my arm warmers on as it was a bit chilly at the start, but while standing on the start line with about 2 minutes until go time, I quickly took them off and put them in my race vest. I had my sunnies on my head but it was overcast throughout and I didn’t actually have to put them on my face until well after I’d finished running.

Being there so early I went for a short walk to loosen up my legs, and taking note of some of the course markers along the way. While walking back through the carpark to the start line, I came across a marshal with 2 big foam hands and asked her about the course, she informed me that the medium course runners were about to come through. So it was good to see that part of the course in action (tight turn past a red car) before having to run it myself half an hour later!

I ran into Robin, a regular runner with the Sunday group that I occasionally run with, who was also doing the short course. I realised that I didn’t know how long the short course was (other than that it should be less than 10km) so I asked him, he said 8.6km. My response was that I would estimate the distance to be anything from 7km to 10km given the notoriously approximate distances on trails!

Once again we had a 2 wave start, and I went in the first wave. This time I was closer to the middle of the pack. Race director Brett warned us of a ditch about 100m in, so we wouldn’t trip on it. And I remembered the tight hairpin turn a little further along, from running the event in 2019.

‘Don’t trip on the ditch!’ Official photo courtesy Lachlan Miller.

The start was pretty kind, a bit of downhill and some small hills which were runnable. There were 2 main big climbs which you can see from the elevation map. I ran/walked all of the steeper hills – instead of 20 steps walk/20 steps run, I went with 10 and 10 – I’d managed to conquer the ‘Big Dipper’ on the Chambers loop using this method and it seemed to work relatively well on this occasion as well, although a lot of people did tend to pass me on the uphills. Uphills have never been my favourite! I think maybe overall there wasn’t as much climb as at Anstey Hill.

For a lot of the race I was following Troy, who was wearing a dark green shirt and therefore blended quite nicely into the background, making him a bit difficult to follow! (Meanwhile I, in my fluoro pink top, would have been quite easy to spot for whoever was behind me!) He ended up finishing about 30 seconds ahead of me, and despite the camouflage I was able to keep him in sight for the most part!

At one of the drink stations the volunteer told me I was in 2nd place, I said ‘let’s keep it that way!’ I knew there was one short course runner, a young girl in an Adelaide Harriers singlet, who was ahead of me. At the time I thought it was the same girl who beat me at Anstey Hill and she beat me by a number of minutes, so I wasn’t expecting to catch her and 2nd place would do nicely (even though only 1st place got a bottle of wine – a very nice drop from Chaffey Bros!). I later found out she was a completely different person!

I intentionally didn’t look at my watch the whole time – no idea how far I’d gone, or how far I had left to go. I think that added to my enjoyment – I was just appreciating the moment and taking it all in (wank wank!)

The first photographer I actually saw (Lachlan was at the start line as well as later in the course but I was too busy telling myself not to trip over on the ditch to notice!) was Sputnik. As I ran past him he told me I could use his photos in my blog, I always ask for permission before using official race photos in my blog but he thought he’d save me the trouble!

Captures the mood perfectly! Official photo courtesy Sputnik.

Later on down the road I saw Lachlan and I thought I might as well ask him while I saw him, he of course also said yes, and the photo he took captures me asking him if it was OK to use said photo in my blog!

How very meta! Official photo courtesy Lachlan Miller.

Probably the highlight of the race for me was the RMA drink station, they were all dressed up like Test cricketers! Not only was it extremely entertaining but as a huge cricket fan it totally made my day! (As per normal in the shorter races, I prefer to carry my own drinks so I don’t have to break up the momentum by stopping, but I still appreciate them being there!). As I approached I asked Voula, who had a bat, to hit the imaginary ball to me, and I took what I can only say would have been described as a ‘classic catch’! So much fun!

Best drink station EVER! Thanks to Michelle for the photo!

At one point in the race I passed Emily, who was leading. Not long after that, we came to a sign that had 2 arrows, one pointing left and one right. This indicated that two of the distances would go one way and the other distance would go the other. I wasn’t able to see until I got right up to it, which way we had to go. I couldn’t rely on following the person in front of me, (not that you should ever do that in a trail race because it assumes they know where they’re going) because by this stage all the distances were mixed up. I worked out that we had to go left, which was uphill and a bit of a tight turn, and in the process of slowing down to take a look at the sign, Emily passed me. Oh well, it was good while it lasted!

Around the 5km mark we started going downhill, and that was really fun! I was fully expecting more uphill, having not studied the course. At one stage during the downhill section I passed Emily again, knowing that she would pass me on the next uphill section. Then I got a bit confused when I went past the volunteer who had told me I was in 2nd place, and he told me I had held my spot – then I thought maybe someone ELSE was also ahead – oh well, I can only do what I can do, let’s just enjoy all this delightful downhill because at some point we’ll start going up again!

Coming back along Steub Track there were signs indicating how far to Cleland Wildlife Park (the first one I saw was 1.8km) which is not far from the finish line, but I didn’t know whether the course designed had added on an extra loop at the end so I didn’t assume we were close to the finish. But when I came back into the carpark and saw the volunteer with the foam hands again, I knew we had to be near the end – and miraculously we hadn’t had any more hills! The last kilometre or so I’d been trying to follow Troy while occasionally taking a sneaky look back and not seeing anyone, so I thought there was no way Emily was going to catch me now (unless there was a big arse hill right near the end). As it turned out there was a slight hill near the end but a short and runnable one and I managed to hold off Emily who must have finished quite strongly as she was only 15 seconds behind me!

My time was 44:47.58 – having never run this particular course before I had no idea what to expect but I was pretty happy with how it all went. And most importantly, I enjoyed every minute – yes, even those damn hills!

As always it was great to be able to catch up with some fellow runners I haven’t seen in a while (most since the last race at Anstey Hill and some since long before that!) and have a coffee from Neil at Stir.

All in all another fantastic event, thanks to Adelaide Trail Runners and all the fabulous volunteers!

Wine and bling – a pretty good day!

See you at Onkaparinga in February!

2020 hindsight

I don’t think there is anything I can say about the shit show that has been 2020, that hasn’t already been said – a year like no other, unprecedented, blah blah blah!

However I did feel like it would be nice to farewell the aforementioned shit show with a ‘year in review’ of sorts as well as a bit of a look forward to 2021.

Personally 2020 started with a return to running in January after 4 months (seems so long ago now!) – here is a screenshot of my first run for the year – albeit a 1 min run/4 min walk scenario. That’s right, I ran for a whopping 4 minutes! And man, was it good! Running was initially every second day but then I changed to 3 times a week so I could have regular ‘running days’.

Things slowly progressed from there…

In early February I incorporated my 20 min run/walk into a parkrun for the first time (and as it turned out, first of not very many times before parkrun shut down for 40 weeks!) – after I’d finished my 20 mins I just walked the rest of it. Around the same time I ventured from the oval to the street and then back to the ‘scene of the crime’ aka the Uni Loop.

Later in the month I graduated to 30 mins of 2 min run/3 min walk and managed a couple of sub 30 minute parkruns before the shutdown in March.

Other than the couple of parkruns I managed to get in, most of my running up until June was on my own – partly because it was such short distances that it wasn’t worth trying to get anyone else to join me, and partly because the running groups also shut down in March. I doubt I would have been running with them anyway until I got to the point where I could run for close to an hour. Once parkrun went on hiatus, I would go out and do a ‘notparkrun’ every week (basically just a 5km run, anywhere, anytime) with Mum, but that would really be my only social running. It was probably a good thing as I can definitely say that during that period I was running at my own pace.

Late March I was allowed to run for 30 minutes nonstop – back on the oval again, running in the dark in the early morning to avoid crowds (but often failing to avoid sprinklers!) Over the ensuing weeks my distance increased in that 30 minutes as I got used to the idea of ‘proper’ running again!

April saw one of my 3 runs increase to 45 minutes, then in May it was 2 x 45 minute and 1 x 30 minute run. Once I hit 45 minutes I started venturing further afield as I have never enjoyed running in my area. I did a lot of early mornings on the Lochiel parkrun course – in the dark with my head torch, it was glorious!

From memory I think the next milestone was 1 x 1 hour run per week (1 hour seemed like such a long time!), soon progressing to 2 x 1 hour (still with the one shorter run) and I alternated Lochiel parkrun course with the uni loop. The uni loop kind of sucks!

The programme also incorporated some ‘drop down’ weeks which I have now forgotten about (I’ll get back to it in the new year!) – so every 4th week I’d back off the distance.

June 21 was a milestone of sorts, my running group had an unofficial Winter Solstice Run (10km or 21.1km) and I did the 10km – first group run in a really long time! From there things quickly got back to normal as the following week, the running groups that had been on hold due to COVID, started up again. So Tuesdays and Thursdays were back to normal programming and I’d do my ‘notparkrun and a bit’ on the weekend.

From there I decided I wanted to run a half marathon before the end of the year, which I eventually did in November after City-Bay was cancelled, and after that I thought the Summer Trail Series would be a good way to end the year and kick off 2021.

Every year I like to illustrate my running mileage in map form – this year is nowhere near as impressive as previous years but I’m pretty happy with it considering I started halfway through January with less than 8km per week. I ended up with 1393km which gets me to Gosford. That’s an average of a bit over 26km per week. I’ll take it!

I’ll keep my 2021 running goals brief – for the first half of the year I’d like to work on getting my parkrun time back down (sub 22 minutes is the initial goal, ultimately I’d love to go sub 20 but I’m not sure how realistic that is!) and then in the second half I’d like to do a marathon (probably Melbourne). I’ll try not to fall into my regular habit of entering events like they’re going out of fashion, and being attracted by shiny things (ie medals).

So that’s running covered.

2020 was also the year I had more time to think about sustainability and environmental stuff – that really came to the fore when dining/coffee all turned to takeaway – think plastic containers and those dreaded takeaway coffee cups. I quickly found the places that used compostable cups and food packaging and that was definitely a big factor in deciding which businesses to support! Moving from an office with a decent coffee machine in the kitchen to one that had the choice of a pod machine (ugh!), instant coffee (not a chance) or an excellent café downstairs – I’ve never been a daily coffee buyer but it seems like I am prepared to pay more for things if they are more eco friendly. Especially this year.

Towards the end of last year I decided to only put out my landfill (red) and recycling (yellow) bins when they were full – having converted to compostable kitty litter, all the potentially smelly stuff now goes in the green bin which I put out fortnightly. My red bin went out once this year (only slightly less often than I did!) and that was only because of an old wedding dress that my cats had used as a makeshift litter tray – that was back in May. Recycling I put out 5 times this year but most of that was due to my 2 new drum kits and drum amp which I purchased throughout the year. More on that later!

I did try for the most part to avoid social media especially Facebook, I find I now have so much more time on my hands and I had found a lot of the drama on there very draining, however I have joined several groups which have helped me on the sustainability path (although I do feel like many of the people in those groups are doing it so much better than me – ah well, baby steps, right?) – I joined the Refuse Reduce Reuse Recycle group which is an abundance of knowledge, any question I have had about what can be recycled and how, has been very quickly answered – one of the good aspects of the dreaded socials! More recently I discovered the Buy Nothing Project and my local group, basically it is a local neighbourhood group where, among other things, you can ask for things you need (to keep or even just to borrow), and give away things you don’t need, and I have been amazed at the type of stuff I have found ‘takers’ for that I would have been sure was destined for the red bin! It’s always worth putting things out there even if you think no-one will take it! (Note to people with hoarding tendencies – perhaps this group is not for you – so much free stuff!)

2020 was the year of going nowhere – I literally have not spent a night away from home this year! I think I was going a bit stir crazy towards the end of the year so I definitely plan to do a bit of travel next year. To start with, I’ll probably stay within the state (to avoid the risk of getting stuck interstate if there is an outbreak somewhere!) and maybe later in the year I might venture outside of SA. Definitely by October for the Melbourne Marathon!

2020 was also a year for getting stuck into music – as you may or may not be aware I bought a secondhand electronic drumkit in March, a week later decided to upgrade to a new entry-level kit and then in November I upgraded again to a very nice mesh head Roland kit which I think will last me quite a bit longer than the first two! Since I got the first kit I have been practising every day, maybe in the new year I might get some proper lessons! I also have been playing my piano and guitars more and everything is all set up nicely in my lounge room. (I think the acoustic drumkit will have to wait until I get a bigger place with a soundproof room or better yet, a shed that I can convert into a music space!

My 3rd and final drumkit for 2020!

I also decided to buy a record player and start collecting vinyl records – bit late to the party I know but that’s pretty standard for me!

Finishing up the music part, early this year I got to see a few awesome gigs – Alice Cooper at the Entertainment Centre, the mighty Queen + Adam Lambert at the Adelaide Oval and a very weird night seeing The Darkness at The Gov in March, literally the night before everything stopped! Awesome gig but a very strange vibe given that we all knew things were going to be VERY different from the next day! I have a ticket to see Guns N’ Roses in November – not convinced that will happen but I sincerely hope I get to see SOME live gigs this year! (And hopefully we are allowed to dance!)

The last night before everything changed!

Speaking of being late to the party I have watched a number of TV series that I only ‘discovered’ late last year and this year – I originally signed up for Amazon Prime as a free trial to get free shipping and also to watch ‘The Test’ documentary series – but I soon worked out that $6.95 a month is money well spent, especially this year! Between my growing DVD collection and the aforementioned Amazon, I have watched all of The Office (US – the UK version is on my watchlist) and Arrested Development (well the first 4 seasons anyway), most of Parks and Rec and well into The Sopranos and 30 Rock. Nothing recent in that list but some really good quality viewing!

So my non-running goals for 2021 (I won’t use the term ‘resolution’) – first and foremost, to go somewhere (anywhere!), to start a vinyl collection, to continue to declutter and contribute as little as possible to landfill, to get good at drums, to do more reading (I’ll have to come up with some kind of quantifiable goal around that because otherwise it won’t happen), to expand my cooking repertoire (easy, vegan and bulk cookable/freezable – any ideas please let me know!) and to listen to some educational podcasts to broaden my mind (suggestions welcomed by the way! So far I have been listening to mostly comedy which is great but I want something a bit more thinky too!)

And that’s it from me for 2020 – hope everyone has a happy New Year and I’ll see you all on the other side! 😊

Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series Race 1 – Anstey Hill

Official photo by Lachlan Miller.

I last ran this event (then organised by Yumigo which then became Ultra Runners SA) in 2017 after first running it in 2015 when, sucker that I was at the time, opted to go with the long course. The latter time was my first time running in the Summer Trail Series. I have run it somewhat inconsistently since then, and have never managed to run the full 4 races in one series (3/4 was my best effort).

This time around the Summer Series has been taken over by a new player in the Adelaide running scene, Adelaide Trail Runners. I believe this was their very first event!

This season I have entered the full series for the second time and hopefully this time I will run all 4 races! (Last time I entered the full series, I totally forgot about it until I received the race briefing email, at which point I was already committed on the day of Race 1, hence the reason I didn’t run all 4 events!)

Like last time, I decided to do the short course. Mainly because I have done 3 trail runs in total since Mount Crawford in September 2019 (after breaking down quite spectacularly a week after that!).

The day before the event, finally after 40 weeks, parkrun returned to South Australia after its enforced COVID hiatus (delayed by 2 weeks by pizza boy and subsequent statewide lockdown). Knowing that Anstey Hill was on the next day, I (sensibly) decided to run with Mum, as I have been doing pretty much every week since parkrun went on break in March. I am quite certain that I would not have been able to contain my enthusiasm had I run on my own, and despite telling myself I would take it nice and easy and save my legs, I know me better than that!

After parkrun I caught up with one of the event team, Mal, who was also doing the short course (although he did use the ‘O’ word – ‘ONLY’…)

There was no special preparation for this particular event – it was ‘only’ 8.6km so there was no need for carb loading or whatever. The short course was the latest to start (long started at 7, medium at 7:30 and short at 8) – there’s another excellent reason to choose the short course – a sleep in!

Gear wise it was all the usual stuff – compression shorts, calf sleeves, black socks and trail shoes (black is generally a good base colour for trails, although it was pretty dry and not much mud!) with the old favourite pink tank top which I’d used for my first 2 marathons as well as the last 2 events I have run in – not sure what I’ll do when that finally falls apart! I took my arm warmers in my race vest just in case but it wasn’t too cold so I was confident I wouldn’t need them! I also wore padded gloves as protection in the unlikely event of a fall. Given the COVID regulations, there were no cups at the drink stations (that is probably more of an environmental consideration, which I applaud!) and runners were not allowed to fill their own cups or bottles – I figured that would add more time than a ‘normal’ drink stop, so I decided not to bother with drink stations, just running with my small race vest, with one small bottle of water and one of Gatorade (which I didn’t end up drinking until after the race). Plus, realistically I was going to be done inside an hour, and I often run for an hour without any drinks on cooler mornings.

I got there earlier than I probably needed to, given that I was not sure about the parking situation – the race briefing had very helpfully outlined all the parking options, but being the latest starting group, I wasn’t sure how far away I would need to park. I didn’t want to park in the recreation park itself as it might be a bit slow getting out! I ended up getting a park easily about 5 minutes walk from the start line. I made it in time to see my regular running buddies who were doing the medium course, and it was great to see a whole lot of people I hadn’t seen for ages, some more than a year! With many of them doing the whole series, it is nice to know it won’t be that long before I see them again!

Pic stolen from Beck – the rest of them were doing the medium distance. I was the token slacker!

As is traditional, I didn’t look at the course map, given that I don’t know the area well at all, so it probably wouldn’t help me that much! Also I usually prefer not to know what is coming, especially in terms of elevation! I was assured that it was very well marked and it would be difficult to get lost – my only danger would be blindly following the person in front of me, who may very well be doing a different distance (or even just a random out for a Sunday run!)

There were 2 waves for each distance, 5 minutes apart. The ‘super fast’ wave went first, followed by the ‘very fast’ wave. I’m pretty sure super fast was meant to be the faster of the two! I figured I’d be somewhere in the middle, so I had planned to go towards the front of the second wave, until I saw Amelie who asked me why I wasn’t in the first wave. Seeing that there weren’t too many people lined up for the ‘super fast’ wave, and the idea was for about half of the 100-ish runners to go in each wave, I decided to join the back of that group. Which was an excellent choice, because I realised that if I’d gone with my original plan, I would be LEADING that second wave and therefore everyone would be following ME!

Near the start – deep focus! Official photo by Sputnik.

As always I think I went out too fast (you’d think I would have learned by now, but no!) although the start was relatively downhill. Then we hit the uphills. As I said earlier, I haven’t done a whole lot of trail running recently. The 3 runs I’ve done in the past year and a bit have all been around the Chambers Gully region, and I have walked the steep uphills. Previously, I probably ran the hills here at Ansteys (presumably I wrote about it in my previous blogs but I can’t be bothered re-reading them – ain’t nobody got time for that!) but after a little bit of running uphill, I started to see people walking so I naturally decided to copy them (sheep that I am!). Trouble was, the hills were LONG (about 200m elevation in 3km) and I didn’t especially want to be walking for 3km in an 8.6km race! Not that I was ‘racing’ as such but I still wanted to go as fast as I could! So I went back to an old strategy I remembered from way back, run a bit and walk a bit. And by ‘a bit’ I mean a really small bit – 20 steps walk, 20 steps run. I found that really manageable, and I am certain that it was faster than if I’d walked the whole thing (naturally!) and also faster than if I’d attempted to run the whole thing (mountain goat that I am NOT!!!) I must try to remember that for next time!

The offending section of the course!
The offending section of the course!

After the uphill bit, it was mostly downhill which was a joy! Some slightly technical rocky downhills, but not much congestion which was good – I didn’t want to hold anyone up that was behind me, but by the same token I did not want to step aside and let people past (if I’d been walking I would have, but not while running)! The fast runners should have been well ahead of me by the time we hit any of these sections, anyway.

Running down that hill! Airborne and smiling! Official photo by Sputnik.

It was nice to intersect with some of the long course runners, who I hadn’t seen at the start (because they’d started long before I got there!) I ran with Matt for a while, who I hadn’t seen in ages but still had the trademark bright shorts so when he inevitably went off ahead of me, I had someone that I could easily follow!

Approaching the end, and very much enjoying the downhillness, and knowing that there wasn’t much longer to go, I saw volunteer Justin and asked him “is it all downhill from here?” to which he replied in the affirmative!

It was lucky I wasn’t following Matt too closely towards the end, as I later found out that the long course runners had to do an extra loop before the finish. Me, on the other hand, just had to cross the carpark and run straight across the grass to the finish line! (The finish line was not as easy to spot as it might have been – the traditional finishing arch had not been put up due to high winds – a good move, I have seen what happens to finish arches under these conditions!)

After crossing the line, I checked my watch (8.7km in 48:09 – official time was 2 seconds faster) – pretty happy with that considering my lack of recent trail running – I really had no clue what kind of time or pace I would do but I figured that was about as good as I could expect!

The very first thing I did was make a beeline for the Stir coffee van to get myself a long black (I had spoken briefly with Neil when I arrived, and told him I’d see him very soon!) – there’s nothing quite like a post-run coffee!

I chatted with Zorica and Riesje who finished the medium distance not long after me, while waiting for the rest of my crew as Kate had organised post-run brekky at a local venue! I finished just before 9 and they were expecting to run about 2 hours, but Beck and Kate finished not too long after me! The rest of the group were not too far behind, and once everyone had finished, we left for brekky as we were getting a bit cold.

As a bit of a postscript, while at brekky waiting for my peanut butter toast (not a whole lot of vegan options!) I thought I’d check to see how I fared in my age group (the always competitive F40-44) I was surprised to see I was 1st in my category, and even more surprised to see I was 2nd female overall! I thought maybe it was a mistake and maybe someone had changed distances and it hadn’t been updated in the system yet (I was sure there were a lot of fast females ahead of me at the start line) but it appears that the result was correct, as evidenced by a message from Linna later in the day advising I was indeed 2nd and she had collected my medal for me!

Congrats to Brett of Adelaide Trail Runners for an outstanding first event – ideal weather (the rain held off ALMOST long enough for me to get back to my car) and a downhill finish certainly helped! Thanks as always to all the fab volunteers (including one dressed up as a Christmas tree… because, why not?)

And of course to Neil of Stir for the coffee – because if there’s no coffee, did we even run?

See you at Cleland in January for Race 2 – to kick off a year that has GOT to be better than this one!

Obligatory bib photo – bling to follow 🙂

Race Report – Glenelg Classic 2020 (5km)

After an extensive break between my last two events, it’s only been a 2 week break this time! Entering this event was a no-brainer (after I got the physio’s OK!) as the former Henley Classic (now the Glenelg Classic) was my first ever fun run, 8 whole years ago! I try to do it every year where possible. There is a 5km and 10km option, and I always go with the 5km as that was what I did 8 years ago and it’s nice to sort of be able to compare each year.

My first Henley Classic was in 2012 (signed up a week before the event, and at the time I wasn’t a runner so I had to become one very quickly!) where I ran a very respectable 26:29 (I don’t think I had a goal time in mind – I don’t think I would even have known what a good 5k time was at that stage!). 12 months later I returned, and predictably improved significantly on that time, running it in 23:09. That was the last time I ran it at Henley, as the following year I was interstate and the year after that it was cancelled due to works in the area and subsequently moved to Glenelg.

I don’t really look like a runner here! My first event in 2012.
One year later – much better – AND I ran in the same top this year!

I’d only run the Glenelg Classic twice before, in 2016 (PB of 22:24 and a bonus 3rd place!) and 2017 (22:33 and 4th after going out way too fast – if only I’d re-read THAT report before this year’s run!)

In 2018 I was in Hobart tackling the Point to Pinnacle, and let’s not mention 2019!

The course had changed from my last time running it – previously the start/finish was at Glenelg North but this time it was in the heart of Glenelg, starting and finishing at Wigley Reserve. I allowed extra time to get there, given that it is a more popular spot and I thought parking may be an issue, but fortunately I was able to get a street park very close.

With social distancing being a thing, we were discouraged from arriving early and hanging around afterwards, so I made a quick portaloo stop (you know the permanent facilities are pretty rank when the portaloo is the better option – actually they were very fancy portaloos, with mirrors and everything!) and then went for a quick warmup run along the foreshore. It was already getting quite busy (it would only have been about 7:15am by this stage) so I expected the route to be quite congested by the time we started running about half an hour later!

This was the first SARRC event I’d done since COVID (and indeed since Barossa Marathon Festival in September last year) so the ‘trickle start’ was new to me but did seem to work very well. The only issue I could see was that if you were a podium contender it would be hard to know who was ‘ahead’ of you and who was ‘behind’ you, as we were in 3 chutes, setting off at 10 second intervals, and the timing started from when you crossed the mat. This was not an issue for me, fortunately! (We had had to indicate an estimated time at registration to aid with the wave starts – I forget exactly what I put down but I think it was about 22:40 which at the time I thought was pretty ambitious but hopefully not too far off the mark)

The numbers were pretty impressive given the current (COVID) climate and the forecast maximum of 37 degrees (admittedly most people would have entered before they knew that). 322 were registered for the 10km of whom there were 277 finishers, and in the 5km there were 172 registered and 163 finishers (I guess the weather was less of a factor for the 5km which started earlier and hopefully would be over relatively quickly!)

The course was well marked and marshalled, so there was never any danger of making a wrong turn. The timing of the 5k and 10k start was perfect as we got to see the 10km runners heading out as we were on our way back but the course was never congested that I saw (randoms with dogs aside, of course!)

Early on I heard someone cheering for me, I couldn’t see who it was so I said “I have no idea who that is but thanks!!” – turned out to be regular running buddies Kate and Beck (also the aforementioned physio – good thing she gave me the all clear to run – might have been a bit awkward otherwise!)

Early on – before I realised I had forgotten how to pace a 5k! Official pic from Geosnapshot.

I only took advantage of one drink station, just past the halfway mark, just a quick grab, gulp and go! Ordinarily I wouldn’t drink in a 5k and I probably would have been fine without it, but it was very much appreciated! As far as I could tell there was plenty of water out on course especially given the weather.

On the way out I was running on the right side of the path for a bit, people behind me were probably wondering why, but there was method in my madness – I was trying to get one of the sprinklers to go on me! Eventually I succeeded, and moved back to the left, where there was a group of RMA runners cheering us all on.

Thanks to Voula with the RMAs for this pic!
I really do look like I’m walking here, but I can assure you I am not! Thanks again to Voula!

After what seemed like an eternity I reached the turnaround (Lachy was the turnaround marshal who commented that he was looking forward to my race report – which was the furthest thing from my mind at that stage!) and the aforementioned drink station. Not long after that, it started to rain very lightly which was very welcome relief but unfortunately it was very short-lived. As I passed the RMA group again, Michelle said she had ordered the rain for me!

Now there was not a lot of elevation in this course as it turns out (according to the source of all knowledge, Strava, it was only 11m) but on the way out there seemed to be some very steep hills! Maybe it was because I had gone out too fast. (Had I learned nothing from 2017? Apparently!) Maybe it’s time to start using pace alerts again!

My splits were:

  1. 4:21
  2. 4:23
  3. 4:45
  4. 4:45
  5. 4:34

The last kilometre seemed to go for an eternity especially when we got back to the reserve and the finish line was right there but we had to run a lap around the reserve to get to it! Seems a bit unfair if you ask me!

Photo from Geosnapshot – looks like the finish but I think it’s actually the start – hence I don’t look as pumped as you’d expect!

I’m not sure exactly what the MC was saying as I was approaching the finish line, I heard my name and I think something like ‘hotly contested’ which I took to mean there was someone breathing down my neck so I did a bit of a sprint finish which probably makes my last km look a bit more respectable! My official time was 22:57 which I later found out put me in 4th out of the females (eerily similar to the last time I’d run this event – albeit slightly slower and definitely way hotter!) so I was pretty happy with that.

The medals were really nice too!

The obligatory ‘bib and bling’ photo!

After having a couple of waters and an apple to rehydrate and refuel, I went back to my car where I had a message from Beck to say she and Kate were nearby at Henley if I wanted to join them. I found them in the water by the jetty and it seemed very appropriate that I would end up there given that that was where my first running event had been held!

Taking the bling for a dip at Henley!

Thanks to all the fantastic volunteers who were out there on a hot morning (again, they had probably signed up to volunteer before they knew how hot it was going to be, but were still there with smiles for all) and congratulations to the organisers for putting on a great event in challenging circumstances!

Next year I hope to pace it more evenly – I blame COVID and the lack of parkruns since March for my inability to evenly pace a 5k – at the time of writing we were due to have our parkruns back this coming weekend but that has now been put on hold due to the recent cluster – fingers crossed it won’t be too long before I’m back running 5k’s every week!

Oh and this is completely unrelated but here is my new drum kit – I am sure we are going to be very happy together for a very long time! (And the cats are super excited about their new temporary playground!)

My new toy!
…and the cats’ new toy! (Stay off the kit, kitties!)