I’m allowed to run now! YAY!
It’s only 20 minutes of 1 min run/4 min walk, every second day…
But it’s still RUNNING!
Next stop: parkrun! (OK maybe parkWALK but still…)
I’m allowed to run now! YAY!
It’s only 20 minutes of 1 min run/4 min walk, every second day…
But it’s still RUNNING!
Next stop: parkrun! (OK maybe parkWALK but still…)
So today I got the all clear to start walking (just short distances) without crutches.
Flown interstate, 4 flights in total. Given the sticks and the impossibility of carrying or pushing around a suitcase, I had to drag out my old backpack from my early backpacking days. It did force me to be a bit more circumspect about packing than I normally am! The only real issue was the one flight from Canberra to Melbourne on the ATR 72 with the walk across the tarmac and boarding via the very steep back steps. I decided to get on the lift to get back down at the other end. That was fun!
Went to the Pink Ball Test Match at Adelaide Oval for 4 days, up and down steps (my choice – there’s plenty of accessible seating.) Big plus – being able to use the disabled parking area right outside the gate. Minus – being unable to carry a drink so requiring other people to get them for me!
Prior to the cricket I went to the annual Members’ Test Match Dinner – fantastic night, I managed to wear stilettos and not fall over, and we were lucky enough to get a Rock Star Table right up the front!
Last weekend I went to see an 80s cover band at the Gov, the crutches did get in the way a bit (it was a bit hard to wave my hands in the air without the risk of taking someone out!) but despite that, it was a great night!
More parkrun volunteering, plenty more coffees and lunches! (And black and purple ice cream on a 40 degree day!)
Started swimming, overdid it a bit in the first few weeks, had a few weeks off and just started up again. As of today I am now allowed to start using my legs! Didn’t stop me from recording a 33 second 100m split yesterday (to put that in perspective, the current MALE world record for 100m is just under 45 seconds). Maybe I have a new career ahead of me!
I know I’m a bit late to the party but I’ve just finished watching the first 2 seasons of The Office. Such a great show!
Hey friends, it’s been a while, and although very little has been going on in my world since my last post, I thought it would be nice to post a little update in case anyone is interested!
So last time we met, I had just been diagnosed with a fracture of the pelvis and had been instructed to do minimal weightbearing on the affected left side, no lifting, no swimming or cycling, basically no exercise at all, with the possible exception of some light seated upper body exercises.
I did go to the gym once. It was a logistical nightmare – while I could lift 4kg dumbbells sitting down, I somehow had to get them from the weight rack to the seat. So I put my gym membership on hold for a few months.
I did a couple of jigsaws. I found I couldn’t sit and do it all day, 90 minutes at a time was about the max! I did 2 1000 piece puzzles (with the ‘help’of my cats), the first one took me a week and the second one 9 days.
I’ve done a bit of tidying up around the house – sorting through papers, books, CDs, DVDs. I got rid of a box that had been in my lounge room for 6 years. (That box contained my 72 Derwent pencils from school – which was my inspiration for trying colouring!)
I managed to cull 4 boxes of work stuff down to 1, using the scanning app on my phone and ditching the hard copies once I’d scanned them. That was VERY satisfying (and cleared my dining table so I could do jigsaws!)
I’ve made a few trips (OK, a lot of trips) to second hand book stores and op shops – partly to donate stuff, but mostly to buy more stuff. I could have spent a lot of money at the Lions Bookmart in Tusmore, the Oxfam shop in the city, the OG Book Exchange in Klemzig, and 2 different Savers stores. Luckily for my bank balance, I was limited to buying what I could carry!
I read a lot! I’m not normally a big reader but I can happily sit all day on the couch reading and listening to Triple M Hard N’ Heavy. I mix it up between mostly novels and biographies. In particular in the beginning I was looking for inspiration in the form of stories about people who have overcome challenges far greater than what I am currently dealing with!
Special mention to Adelaide’s own SJ Morgan’s new novel ‘Hide’ – I went to the book launch on a Sunday afternoon and had finished reading the book by midday the next day – genuinely unputdownable!
To stay in touch with all things running, I volunteered at a few events (Heysen 105 and Cleland trail championships) as well as at a few different parkruns – running or not, Saturday is ALWAYS parkrun day! It’s a great way to keep involved when you can’t participate yourself – the free coffee is just a bonus!
I started a social media detox. Initially, because I wasn’t enjoying seeing everyone’s running posts. And although I’m sure I have missed out on a lot of news and events, it was actually really great. I hate to think how much time I’ve wasted in the past on mindless scrolling! Instead of the aforementioned scrolling and posting about every incredibly tedious thing I was doing (actually, I don’t think I post THAT much) I’m focusing on actual proper human interaction and doing stuff. I highly recommend it!
2 months down and another month to go before I can get rid of the sticks and hopefully start walking. On the plus side(s), I am now allowed to start swimming, AND the cricket is on.
So hopefully soon this screen on my watch will stop taunting me!
Well that’s about it from me – might post another update around Christmas time!
So, it turns out I’m not running Chicago Marathon anymore. Or New York. Or even going to the USA for 5 weeks. Instead I am on my couch watching crappy daytime TV – yay!
I think it goes back to the 24 hour race in July, and the training that led up to it. The training and the race all went really well, and I eased back into running not too long afterwards.
4 weeks after the 24hr I ran a respectable half marathon.
After 8 weeks I did my first trail race in ages and had a fantastic run.
5 days after that I had a twinge in my hip during a run which steadily got worse (thought it was an adductor muscle), walk/jogged the rest of the way, and contemplated not running the City-Bay Half Marathon that Sunday. I got on the Voltaren and rested and it seemed to have settled so I turned up to run on Sunday.
I managed to run 1km super slow and it flared up again so I decided to walk/run the rest of the way. Whatever it was, there was the possibility I might have to run/walk Chicago and NYC so this would be good practice. I tried to run a few times but it just wasn’t happening so I decided to walk the rest of it. I really wanted that medal! (Plus, I’ve never DNFed and I certainly wasn’t going to start now!)
The 21.1km took me 3 hours 10 minutes I was very close to last place. But I got there. (And I wasn’t last!)
Once I’d sat down in Nat’s car for the drive back to her place (from where we had carpooled) I could hardly walk – I managed to get home and put my feet up on the couch for the rest of the day.
On Monday Beck messaged me telling me I needed an MRI ASAP as she strongly suspected a pelvic stress fracture. Wednesday I got the MRI. If you’ve never had an MRI before, it’s vey loud so they give you headphones with music to distract you from the noise. The first song I heard was Bon Jovi’s ‘Keep The Faith’ which I thought was a good omen.
It was not. Beck’s suspicions were correct. Chicago was out, NYC would be a walk at best.
On Friday Beck had received the MRI results and essentially there was no chance of walking NYC. It wasn’t just your standard stress fracture – the bone had broken right through in one place and a second stress fracture could result in an unstable pelvis if it progresses to a full fracture. She indicated that the likely management would be minimal weight bearing for at least 8 weeks.
Initially I was keen to go ahead with the trip – there were a lot of things I WOULD be able to do – but over time things started to pop into my head. Getting around airports, wrangling luggage. shopping, stairs, bunk beds… All would be tricky if I was essentially on one leg!
So I decided that if I was to be on crutches I would postpone the trip – I deferred my Chicago entry to 2020 so I would not need to re-qualify. (Having said that, there is no guarantee I will be able to run a marathon by then, but I have nothing to lose!)
It’s likely to be at least 4 months before I can slowly get back to running.
As someone who used to run 5 days a week, it’s a bit of an adjustment – at the moment I can’t even swim or ride to get my cardio! (And my 1300+ day streak of doing a 5 minute plank every day has come to an abrupt end!)
So yeah it’s pretty shitty but not the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone and I will definitely come out with some good lessons (‘don’t run City-Bay on a broken pelvis’ being one of them!)
What to do for the next 8+ weeks? I am going to spend more time practising my piano and guitar (and even thinking of taking up drums – for a upper body workout!), watching bad TV (and hopefully some good!) and doing a tour of Adelaide’s coffee shops! Gonna smash some upper body workouts at the gym! Maybe do some kind of online course? Or maybe I’ll just watch the first 14 seasons of Supernatural – all 300+ episodes!
If anyone has any other recommendations for things I can do sitting down, I’d love to hear them!
What a fab morning we had at Mount Crawford!
On Sunday I took part in the Trail Running SA Mount Crawford Challenge for the first time. I had previously volunteered at this event twice – most recently 2 years ago when it was a rain and mud fest (and I was very glad to be wearing gumboots, and doing roles that allowed me to be undercover most of the time!) I’d never run there before, until TRSA put on a social run a few weeks ago where we ran in the rain for most of it but managed to dodge the worst of the weather (the hail and epic winds came later!) and our leader (who shall remain nameless) managed to get us lost several times!
It was my first (and most probably last) TRSA trail series race for this year. I had run their Five Peaks ultramarathon earlier in the year and I still stand by my statement that I’m never doing that one again!
I had volunteered at a drink station at the previous event at Kuitpo Forest, and although Mount Crawford wasn’t in my plan (I am, after all, supposed to be training for 2 road marathons) the joy and enthusiasm of the runners at Kuitpo was infectious and I couldn’t help signing up!
Preparation was ideal – I had a few glasses of wine after parkrun on Saturday (as you do) and then that night celebrated a milestone birthday of one of my awesome running buddies (leaving early of course as it would be an early start!).
At said birthday drinks, which happened to have a unicorn theme, I wasn’t sufficiently ‘unicorny’ so Tracey put a unicorn headband on my head. I jokingly said I would run in it the next day, to which she replied, “You totally should!”
Being a ‘cupless’ event, I was prepared with my race vest and 2 bottles of Gatorade, plus a Clif bar. I had no idea how long I would be out there for my 24ish kilometre run but I figured that should be enough to get me through. Knowing that there was likely to be some rain, I put my rain jacket in my pack ‘just in case’ – that would only be used if the rain was really heavy, as it does get a bit warm when running (I ran a lot of the 24 hour in it, but I was expecting to be moving a bit faster on this occasion!)
The other distances on offer were 35km starting at 7am (that was a big ‘NOPE’ from me!), 15km and 8km. I was tossing up between the 15 and the 24, and in the end chose the 24 as I don’t think I have done enough long runs for my marathon prep (the first marathon being in just under 5 weeks, and the second in just under 8), and a 24km trail would probably equate to a 30k flat road run.
I got a lift up with regular running buddy Riesje who was also doing the 24km. TRSA strongly encourages carpooling due to lack of parking space at their events (and the huge numbers of runners they attract!). Personally I prefer to drive by myself but I am happy to comply with their request because I can understand it would be a logistical nightmare if everyone thought like me! The parking situation was that people who carpooled got priority parking (ie rock star parking right near the start/finish
area) and those who didn’t had to park quite a long way away. As we went past the ‘park of shame’ (not really) where the solo travellers had to park, Dej who was one of the attendants, said if one of them got in our car we would have 3 people then we’d get chocolates (for having 3 or more people in the car)! Win-win, win for us and win for the extra 2 people we picked up who didn’t have to walk all that way! I thought that was a great idea!
Amazingly given the numbers of runners we didn’t have to queue up for the portaloos – that’s usually the way it goes, if you’re running a little bit late you can guarantee there will be a huge queue! The 35km had already started and the 15km didn’t start until 45 minutes after us (I think the 15km was the most popular option) so the crowd wasn’t too bad when we arrived. (I think having the 2 longer distances worked really well – there were 103 finishers in the 35km and 120 in the 24km, if there had been only one ‘long’ distance that would have been quite a crowd setting off all at once! Plus it weeded out all the silly people who did the 35km)
It wasn’t as cold as I thought it might be – I had layers on at the start but I was down to my usual T-shirt and arm warmers well before the race briefing. There was a fire near the start line which many people were gathered around, but I didn’t want to get anywhere near it – I might get just that little bit too comfortable and not want to leave! I had left my sunscreen in the car because I thought it would be very optimistic to put sunscreen on, but I noticed Jim putting some on in the bag drop area and he offered me some, I figured it couldn’t hurt – the sun MAY come out at some stage! I asked someone else if they thought sunnies were required and the response was an emphatic “No”, plus she said it was just extra weight to lug around! I’m not sure how much her sunnies weigh but I don’t think that would have been too much of an issue for me, however I did not want to carry anything in my hands and they wouldn’t fit easily in my race vest front pockets, so I opted to go without.
I wanted to wear my cap to keep the rain out of my eyes, however I did also want to wear the unicorn horn which would have looked a bit silly over a hat so I decided to put up with the rain and be a unicorn!
The elevation in the 24km course was not huge, so I was able to run MOST of it (and probably COULD have run all of it if I’d wanted to) – however I did have to take a long hard look at myself when I took my first walk break going up the first biggish hill, and I was being overtaken. Now I have no problem being overtaken by runners when I’m walking, well I do have a problem with being overtaken by anyone at any time but at least in that case it is understandable. I do however have a problem with being overtaken quite comfortably by people walking! (At least it’s not as bad as being overtaken by walkers when you’re running – although that’s usually just a sign I need to stop running and start walking!)
The course was very scenic, through a pine forest, some narrow bits and wide fire trails (which were super muddy!). It rained a little bit but never heavy enough for me to put my jacket on.
There were 2 drink stations along the course. Approaching the first one, there were some mysterious signs stating “Devil’s Head” with little pictures of devils on them. I had run through this area only a few weeks earlier and didn’t remember having seen these signs! Then we reached the drink station and there was the devil himself, it was all an elaborate promotion for the next TRSA event, “The Devil’s Nose” which unfortunately I won’t be able to do. I thought this was really clever, and just added something extra to the run, which I already enjoyed anyway!
The second drink station, with an 80s theme, had funny signs on the way in and out, and 80s music blaring from the speakers – luckily I didn’t need to stop for a top up there, because otherwise I may have been tempted to stay and join the party!
I ran a lot of the first bit of the 24km on my own – once I’d settled into my place in the field, I didn’t overtake too many people, nor was I passed by many. We ran an approximately 8km loop before passing through the start/finish and commencing a larger loop which was identical to the loop the 15km runners did. The 15km runners started not long before I came through, so consequently it wasn’t long before I started catching up with some of them which was nice. Another big tick for TRSA and the way they design their courses – I saw quite a few of the faster 35km runners as well, and towards the end started to catch up with some of the 8km runners too.
On the second part of the course I caught up with 15km runner Glen, who the previous day had run his 64th marathon in a 12 month period. His goal was to run 65 marathons in the year leading up to his 65th birthday, which is on Thursday. He is going to run the 65th on his actual birthday. Most of the marathons have been informal (ie not official events, just a marathon distance). Quite a feat, and especially backing up from a marathon and doing a challenging 15km trail the next day!
When Glen started walking, his watch showed 11.8km and mine was just on 20. That meant that probably the 24km was not quite 24km. I don’t think I’ve ever complained when a trail course has turned out to be slightly less than advertised! (And to be fair, the times it has been longer has usually been due to navigational ‘mishaps’ on my part!)
The last bit of the course was along a fire track which was mostly clay-like mud and puddles. At this stage I didn’t care how muddy or wet my feet got! (I did tend to try to avoid large puddles early on, because you don’t want to run TOO far with wet feet, but with only a few kilometres to go it didn’t really matter anymore! Fun! And that was where I saw a few familiar faces, well actually it was a few familiar ‘backs of heads’ at first – Geoff and Janet in the 8km, Geoff doing his first trail event, and Janet who was well hydrated after the aforementioned post-parkrun wine!
The very end of the course was uphill. Of course it was, thanks TRSA, bit of a brutal way to finish but I definitely earned those brownies at the end!
In the end I stopped my watch at around 2 hours 20, I didn’t have any idea before the race what sort of time I might do, I had sub 3 hours in the back of my mind but having never run it before I didn’t really have a point of reference.
My main goals were to finish before all Maurice’s vegan brownies were gone (tick) and so Riesje wouldn’t have to wait hours for me (knowing she’d be well ahead of me) – another tick!
We stuck around for the presentations and to enjoy the fire for a bit, because the sun had come out towards the end of my run and it was very pleasant (once I’d changed out of my wet running gear into something warmer and drier!) Neither Riesje nor I won anything in the random prize draw, and as the prize draw wound up the rain started again so we legged it to the car (me by now in my Birkenstocks which are not exactly conducive to fast running in mud!) – another tick for carpooling and getting a close park!
I really enjoyed this run, one of the most enjoyable races I’ve done this year! Thanks to the TRSA committee and all the volunteers for making it a truly great morning – having been on the other side at the last event and seeing the volunteers briefing, it is a really well-oiled machine and no stone is left unturned, making for a fab experience all around! Well done to all the runners too especially those doing their first event!
Next up for me is something completely different, City-Bay half marathon next Sunday, and then hopefully will squeeze in a few more long road runs (ugh) before leaving for the US and the Chicago and New York City marathons – can’t wait!
Warning – long report ahead – best grab yourself a tea or coffee and make yourself comfortable!
This has been a very very long time coming.
I first heard about this event when I was running with the Nike Run Club in the city, quite a few years ago now (2013, from memory) and the leader of the group I was running with, Graham, was telling me about the Adelaide 24 hour race. Just as it sounds, it involves running for 24 hours, around the 2.2km Uni Loop, and seeing how far you can go in that time. I thought (and I told him) that this sounded incredibly boring and wondered what kind of mad person would do such a thing! Around this time I was introduced to Karen who had recently done this event. My opinion remained the same.
Skip forward a couple of years to 2015. “This looks like fun” I said. A 6 hour fundraiser run to help local runner Emma get to the 24hr world championships. My marathon training plan said to do about 30km that day, so I figured I could go along, get my 30km in and that would be it. As the morning went on, the goalposts kept shifting. 30km turned to 36km (my scheduled longest run before the marathon) and then 40, then I thought I might as well do a marathon, then I just kept going to the end of the 6 hours. From memory one of my running buddies Denis turned up after his long run, and just when I had decided I was done, he encouraged me to do one last lap with him. Garmin tells me I did 46.9km and I seem to recall there were quite a few food and drink stops in there.
Every year, I’d enjoy what I was doing, and I’d come back on Sunday morning to see the end of the 24 hour. The first year I was like, “Nah, 24 hours, not for me” but then slowly but surely I started to seriously contemplate doing it. Especially after I’d stepped up to the 12 hour. After my first 12 hour, I thought “Yeah I’ll probably do the 24 one day, but I’m not ready yet”, especially knowing that I could improve significantly on my 12 hour. Finally, after last year’s 12 hour, I figured it was the only natural progression and I’d signed up for the 2019 24 hour as soon as entries opened!
Later this year I’m off to the USA to do both the Chicago and New York Marathons which is a pretty big deal. However, up until 10am on Sunday 14 July, the 24 hour race has been my primary focus since the beginning of the year.
I had planned to get a coach and a proper training programme when I did the 24 hour but somehow that didn’t happen. It’s really a step up from the 6 and 12 hour and while I had sort of ‘winged it’ the first time I did both the 6 and the 12, I couldn’t imagine that ‘winging it’ was a good tactic for the 24. However, knowing my penchant for signing up for events that add absolutely no value to my programme, and do not in any way contribute to my achieving my ultimate goal, I was pretty sure that no coach would approve of what I chose to do (prime examples being the Victor Harbor Triathlon and the Clare 5k race). So although I wasn’t exactly winging it, I was a little bit Hansel from Zoolander.
I ran the Track 100 back in January as part of my training programme (such that it was, with no coach and very little clue what I was doing!) and then went to Canberra to run the 12 hour event there. The Track 100 started at 7pm and I finished a little after 6am, and CBR went from midday to midnight. So I’d had a bit of practice running in the night.
I’d also done a fair bit of training on the Uni Loop, the site of the 24 hour event. Much more than I’d ever done in training for my previous runs there! I was curious to know just how much, so I added it up. Since the start of the year I had done 14 runs on the Loop, a total of 48 hours and 485km (220 laps!). That actually blew my mind a little bit when I worked it out! You could say I knew every damn piece of gravel and every speed bump/hill/mountain (depending on how many laps I’d done) in either direction!
My last training run on the loop was originally going to be a 12 hour overnight run, which gradually became shorter and shorter and eventually turned into a bit under 5 hours, 4 weeks out, which was my first time running the loop at night. Although I knew it exceptionally well in the daytime, I had heard stories of people getting lost on it at night (possibly delirious!) I was pleased to find out that, although there are a few little dark patches, it is exceptionally well lit and I wouldn’t need to run with a head torch!
May and June were pretty big months for me distance-wise, in fact my 2 biggest months ever. I had run 374km in May and then backed that up with 415km in June. Compare that to my weekly average over the last 12 months of just 57km, it’s quite a big jump!
A few weeks out from the event, I put the call out on the trusty Facebook asking for advice from people who had done the event (or similar) before. The most common piece of advice that came through again and again was to keep warm, especially overnight! This was something I hadn’t really had to deal with before – I’d always been able to get away with shorts/skirt (even in the hail in 2015!), and even on the overnight track races getting cold wasn’t exactly an issue (last year the temperature didn’t drop below 32 celsius!). The only time I had really had to deal with potentially getting cold overnight was in my last UTA when I ran in my fleece top for quite a while (but still in shorts) and in Canberra when I walked the last 4 hours (that time, I had changed into a hoodie and tracky dacks!)
2 weeks out from the event I was running with club coach Kent and we were discussing the merits of caffeine during an event. He said he’s not a coffee drinker so he finds caffeine very effective. Meanwhile, me over here, 3+ cups a day – possibly less effective! He suggested going off coffee for a week prior to the event. I thought that was a great idea so after my Friday post-run coffee a week out, it was decaf all the way! (I thought it was a great idea until I actually had to do it! But it would be worth it in the end, I told myself!)
Regular running buddy (and previous 24 hour runner) Michael had very kindly offered to lend me his van as a base during the event. That would mean I didn’t need to worry about setting up a gazebo/tent, and the bonus was that if I needed to have a power nap (I wasn’t planning to) I had an actual bed to stretch out on! And assuming that I wasn’t going to need it, my supporters Kate and Tracey would be able to have a nap in there! I could literally just rock up on the morning with all my stuff, put the stuff in the van, and away I would go! Simples!
I caught up with Kate and Tracey, both veterans of the 24 hour, for lunch on the Sunday before the event where we discussed logistics, and the kinds of things I might need her to do (ie make some sandwiches and mix up some more Gatorade) and she offered to go and get me coffee and donuts if I wanted! I picked both of their brains for advice but they both jokingly said they were probably not the best people to ask for advice on how to run a 24 hour, unless it was what NOT to do! (To be fair, both of them have completed at least one 100 miler!)
In the week leading up to the event I did very little running. The plan was a normal run on Tuesday, walk on Thursday, and nothing on Friday. I hadn’t run on the Loop (other than just passing through during a run) for 4 weeks so I was ready to face it again!
My ‘goal’ was to get to 100 miles (160.934km) which I think is a pretty common goal in a 24 hour. Looking back at the results from 2014-2018, 100 miles would be a guaranteed podium finish – however you never know who’s going to turn up on the day so let’s not think about podium finishes just yet! As is usually the case in these types of events, I would only be able to run my own race, couldn’t let myself get distracted by what other people were and weren’t doing, and the rest of it would take care of itself! (And if I had to do a sprint finish at the end of 24 hours for a placing, well let’s hope I’d be able to do that!)
I had been advised several times not to set a distance goal, because once I got there, I would not want to keep going! I seem to recall I set a goal of 50km in my first 6 hours and managed to get over 60, so it wouldn’t hurt to have something in the back of my mind, but I needed to be thinking “I’m going to run for 24 hours” rather than “I’m aiming for 100 miles”. Based on my 12 hour distances, on paper 100 miles looks very doable. But you never know what’s going to happen when our friend Fatigue pays a visit!
On Friday I took the day off and got myself a massage to loosen up the legs (turns out my quads and calves are very tight and massage therapist Amanda SO would have loved to go in with her elbows but knowing what was coming the next day, she took it easy on me! It really helped though!
There was a LOT of prep to do! I had a box of food, an esky of drinks, a bag of clothes for during the run, another bag of clothes for after, a bag of miscellaneous stuff for during, a chair, table, blanket, sleeping bag and pillow! Food-wise I made 8 sandwiches (4 peanut butter and 4 Mayver’s cacao spread) and I also had a bunch of Clif bars, Snackaballs, protein bars, Lemon Crisp biscuits, and salted chocolate! I wanted to have a variety of different flavours.
With former 24 hour winner Barry, Kate, and fellow debutant Vicky!
📷 Lachlan Miller
And away we went!
I used the same strategy I’d previously used in the 12 hour and 100km track events – run 25 mins and walk/eat for 5. Only differences were, the running would be a bit slower, and there would be sit down rest breaks. I had a vague aim of getting to 90km at the halfway mark, assuming I’d slow down in the second half and 70km in 12 hours is very doable, just over 10 minutes per km, actually walkable! However, I didn’t set any other goals or have a pace in mind. It was all very much by feel.
The first milestone was the finish of the 6 hour at midday. With 45 runners in the 6 hour event, this would significantly reduce the number of runners on the track. I reckon between 10am and midday there were more runners on the track simultaneously than there had ever been before!
I wasn’t really keeping track of distance, and the only reason I was looking at my watch was to know when my walk breaks were. I remember in previous years I’d make a note of where I was at after each hour, but I couldn’t be bothered doing that this time! According to the post on the Ultra Runners SA Facebook page with the 6 hour results, I was on 45.5km after 5 hours, 2.5km behind the leader, Sabina. I might have had an idea of the distance but I definitely had no idea what place I was in, and who was leading. It’s pretty pointless knowing that at such an early stage, so much can change in such a long event! Jac and Vicky were both looking super strong and could easily have been ahead of me too as far as I knew. That’s the beauty of these loop events!
One of the great stories from this event was Rhys from Melbourne. A few days before the event, Ben posted on the Facebook page that there was only one place available in the 24 hour race. A sellout, that had never happened before! Who knew there were so many crazy people out there? My crew, Tracey and Kate, both joked about taking the last place, but in the end it was Rhys who made the last minute decision to come over for the event! All of 19 years old, he had never run more than 50km before! We had some great chats during the course of the day and night, he has got some big goals and I wish him all the best! In the end it wasn’t to be his day, he didn’t quite make it to 100km but still a huge distance PB!
📷 David Fielding Photography
From then on, it was walking all the way. If Canberra was anything to go by, I could do another 25km (although, the gravel surface of the Uni Loop was somewhat less forgiving than the athletic track in Canberra – every now and then I’d step on a bit of gravel the wrong way and I could swear it went straight through the sole of my shoe and into my foot!) which meant 180+ was definitely in my sights!
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t super kind – the BOM had forecast rain in the afternoon which would have been fine, but it rained (not heavily, but solidly) for the last few hours. I guess it wouldn’t be an Adelaide 24 hour event without rain! Still, it could have been a lot worse!
Mum and Dad came down again, and Mum walked a few laps with me.
Somewhere around this time I cracked the 180km barrier. Never in a million years would I have dreamed of a number like that – and still an hour to go!
Not long before the end, Tracie told me that she thought I was in 1st place – she said I’d passed Sabina! (At that stage, I didn’t know that I was in 2nd or that Sabina was 1st) I couldn’t quite believe that! But then, 180km was more than the winner did last year, so I guess it was possible! (She was a bit confused though because there was someone called Kay on the list who was ahead of me but I was first female – turned out Kay is actually a guy, pronounced ‘Ky’)
I’d told Kate and Tracey I didn’t want to know where I was placed, because I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it, especially once I’d made the decision to stop running and walk it in. However, as we headed out for the last lap, Kate asked me if I wanted to know, and she confirmed that yes I was indeed first. And by quite a margin too, she said!
And then, that magical moment – getting my ‘sandbag’ with my number on it, which I would drop when the hooter went off at 10am. I’d seen the 6 and 12 hour runners collect theirs and thought my turn would never come! Chantel, Mum, Kate and Tracey joined me for the last lap. They suggested that I might even get another full lap in – I never thought that would happen, although we did get quite close (Mum was setting a cracking pace).
And then – the hooter went, I dropped my bag, and it was over!
Thanks Gary for this pic, with Mum and Dad.
After celebrating briefly with friends and family, I headed back to the van to get changed into warm clothes. I got a bit light headed after I’d been sitting for a bit, probably not surprising after going 24 hours with minimal stopping and no sleep. Susan from First In Sport First Aid came to check up on me, my blood pressure and heart rate were fine but my blood sugar was a bit low, which was easily fixed with some Coke! Kate had got me some hash browns which also went down a treat!
I laid down on the bed for a few minutes while awaiting the presentation. Luckily it stopped raining in time!
As I write this, it is now Tuesday morning and I am amazed at how good my legs feel! I managed a short recovery walk today – hampered only by blisters on my feet, which should heal pretty quickly!
So, what next? My next scheduled event is the half marathon at the Barossa Marathon, I won’t be setting any time goals for that one (at least that’s what I’m saying now!) – I’m treating it purely as a training run for the Chicago Marathon.
And now for the thanks!
Firstly, thanks to every single one of the runners out there in the 6, 12 and particularly the 24 hour event for making it actually kind of fun! It’s hard to believe if you’ve never done something like this before, but I never once got bored running round in circles (OK sure the direction changes helped!) because of all the encouragement and chats with the other runners. You are all awesome!
Thanks to Emma for really properly introducing me to this type of event! It’s an honour to have my name on the Kouros Trophy along with yours!
Thanks to Amanda (Glide Massage) for freshening my legs up on Friday! I will be back!
Thanks to those who were crewing for other runners, who never failed to give encouragement to me as I went past!
Thanks to Tracie for coming down and taking some great pics, hopefully I gave you what you needed for your project!
Thanks to Chantel for coming down on Saturday and Sunday, for some fantastic photos also, and for sharing a few laps with me!
Thanks to ALL of the volunteers, particularly those who were out during the ‘Witching Hour’, you must have been very cold and tired and everything you did was appreciated! But anyone who volunteered in any small way, I can’t thank you enough. (Special kudos also to those who did the measuring of the part laps, particularly the 12 hour which was done in the dark, and the 24 hour which was done in the rain!)
Thanks to my crew, Kate and Tracey, for ensuring that I could keep rolling on and making sure I always had everything I needed – and for joining me for the occasional lap too! Legends the both of you!
Thanks to Susan and her crew for always looking after us! Susan, be thankful you didn’t have to deal with my feet!
Thanks to Michael for supplying the van, a whole lot of extra gear I hadn’t even thought I might need! And for helping me get my shoes off afterwards and guarding the door while I got changed – your help really made a huge difference (and I know Kate appreciated the van too – although I hear she had some trouble getting out of it!)
Thanks to Mum and Dad for coming down to see me on Saturday night and again on Sunday morning, and for driving me home afterwards and helping me with getting the gear into my car and then back out again, and basically for everything really!
And I think that sums it up, epic report from an epic event!
Oops I almost forgot. One last one. Thanks to Ben for putting this event on every year, for without you none of this would have happened! Every event, every year I go on and on about how I don’t know how you do it and how you ever find time to spend with your wife and 2 (soon to be 3) kids, and yet you do. Event after event. You are truly Superman!
OK, I think that’s it. I’m out. See you at Barossa!
I ran with my large race vest, although with drink stations every 5km or so it is entirely possible to run this one without carrying anything. I prefer not to stop if possible, so I had on me 2 bottles of Gatorade, some ‘Snackaballs’ (salted caramel are the BOMB!), a Clif bar and a peanut butter sandwich cut into quarters. In my drop bag (left at the finish line, which I would pass 3 times along the way) I had another sandwich, more balls, more Clif bars and some more portions of Gatorade powder. I figured I’d probably stop halfway and top up whatever I’d used so far.
Oh and I thought I found the tripping hazard too – a large tree had fallen across part of the track. The options were to try to limbo under it (I’m not that bendy), to take a running jump over it (I just know that would have ended in disaster) or option 3, to stop for 2 seconds and carefully climb over it. It was kind of fun the first time, but less fun as the race wore on! (Incidentally, ultra runner and housemate Mark later showed me a photo to prove that on his last lap, it was gone – someone had come along during the race and removed it!)
The marathon and ultra runners had to do that climb 4 times.
I had in my mind that when I reached the Tower on my 3rd lap, I’d have broken the back of it. Don’t get me wrong, the 4th climb was still a beast, but at least I knew that once I’d done that, I only had 3km to go. Walk in the park!
I have run one coastalfunruns event before – back in February 2017. The beauty of these events is that they are low cost, frequent, low pressure and super friendly! It worked out well for me that time as I felt like I needed a half marathon in the lead-up to Boston, and none of my usual ‘go-to’ events worked out timing-wise. I must have been going reasonably well back then because I ran with Coralie for quite a bit of it and also with Carrie. Couldn’t quite imagine being able to do that now!
Most of the events are held at Semaphore along a nice flat coastal path, and occasionally in Port Adelaide or further afield, but I got a bit (disturbingly) excited when the UNI Coastal event was announced. (The ‘Coastal’ part is purely because the organiser is coastalfunruns – it is in NO WAY coastal!)
I may have mentioned this before. The Adelaide 24 hour event is my main focus for this year. I have been doing a lot of training at the home of this event, the infamous ‘Uni Loop’.
As I may have mentioned in last week’s Adelaide Marathon report, I had intended to run the Adelaide Marathon, using my 25 min run/5 min walk strategy, possibly as a 4:30 pacer. Then this event, a week later, was announced, and everything changed. A marathon around the Uni Loop? How could I not? (And what is wrong with me?)
I hadn’t quite worked out how I was going to approach this one – did I treat it just like a normal training run (which, let’s face it, I would have been doing anyway had I not entered this event) or did I treat it like a ‘normal’ marathon?
In the end I decided to do a bit of a combination – I’d eat like I do in an ultra, but I’d keep the walk breaks to a minimum.
I’d done a ‘practice’ marathon at the same location 2 weeks earlier and done it in just under 4:30, and that was with the usual 25/5 strategy, so I was hoping to go faster than that. Sub 4 would be nice but I wasn’t sure how realistic that was, given I hadn’t really been doing any fast stuff.
Given that it was not your typical marathon and it wasn’t my goal race, I didn’t bother with the whole tapering thing, just doing my normal thing during the week. Tuesday morning, instead of my normal road run, I went out to do a ‘slow’ lap of Chambers Gully with Jenny and Dave who had both done the Adelaide Marathon 2 days earlier. They go out regularly on a Tuesday and I have occasionally joined them (especially when I have a big trail race coming up and need to get more hills in) but in
general they are way too fast for me. I figured if there was ever a good time to go out and run with them, it was 2 days after they’d done a marathon! (They’d also both done Hubert 100km in early May, and Dave had only just got back from doing the Boston Marathon prior to that).
Then on Saturday afternoon I got a message from Jenny saying that Dave had convinced her to run the UNI Coastal marathon with him, but not to worry as it would be at an ‘easy’ pace.
(Incidentally, I found out on Sunday that Dave had a slightly different interpretation of who convinced whom!)
Saturday night was a traditional pre-marathon dinner – pizza (from Sonny’s Pizza Bar – THE BEST!) and cider.
I wasn’t quite sure what the setup was going to be with the aid station. I have a preference for lemon-lime Gatorade so I had prepared 8 x 250ml bottles. I thought this was way more than I’d need but in my last couple of 4 hour runs I’d used 3 x 500ml bottles. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the small pop top bottles at Woolies so they were screw top bottles, but they would do! (As it turned out, they had lemon-lime Gatorade at the aid station so I needn’t have bothered!) I’d made myself one peanut butter sandwich (cut into quarters) and I had 2 Clif bars and a bag of salted caramel Snackaballs which I have recently found to be a great ‘on the run’ snack – compact, easy to eat while running AND delicious!
On arrival at the Uni Loop on Sunday morning I met Ryan and Randell and I remarked, “oh wow, there’s going to be some fast people out there today!” Ryan asked “who?” and I said, “obviously, you guys!” I knew Ryan was doing the marathon – like me, as a training run for the Adelaide 24 hour. Randell is doing the 12 hour event but as it turned out he was just out doing a training run.
I got my rain jacket (which I really didn’t want to run in – it gets too hot!) and my small race vest, as well as my esky with all my drinks and food, and made my way out to the start/finish area. There I ran into Dave and Jenny, Dave had brought a table and kindly let me share it! Ryan also put his gear on the table and I just had to take a photo…
(I don’t like bananas but there were a few times during the run when I was SOOO tempted to steal one… history shows they were FAST bananas too!)
There is a toilet in the clubrooms a little way along the loop, which would be open for most if not all of the race, however before we started, we were directed to the 24 hour toilet block. It’s a bit sketchy so Marlize, Dave, Jenny and I all walked over there together. (It was good to know where it is as I have an overnight training run planned and the one thing I thought might be an issue was a lack of available toilets. I will be advocating going there in ‘teams’ though!) It was a bit gross and completely dark, but thankfully Dave had his phone on him and very kindly shone his phone torch through the window which worked wonders (actually, on second thoughts, I may have preferred NOT to be able to see!).
Note to self – head torch required at night!
I was umming and ahhing about wearing the race vest – I could put 2 bottles in it, and probably the whole sandwich, and then I wouldn’t need to carry anything in my hands. I’d never done a marathon in a race vest before, and I’d never done a run at the Uni Loop with one, and ultimately I decided against using it.
Along with the marathon there was also a half marathon and a 10k (just the 4 laps – that sounded pretty appealing!)
I was happy to see that Marlize, who had beaten me in my first 6 hour race here 4 years ago, was ‘only’ doing the half marathon! Also doing the half were Dani (doing the 6 hour), Neil (also doing the 6 hour and who also ran in a ‘hot lap’ race just prior to the main event – not a bad warmup!), Erika (who, I seem to recall while I was running with her, is THINKING about doing the 6 hour), Gail and Trish (who is doing the 24 hour), Julia (who is doing the 6 hour and who I didn’t see at the start – turns out she couldn’t find the start location and started 10 minutes late!) and Kay (doing the 12 hour).
Not entirely surprisingly given the nature of the race, there was a small field of just 8 starting the marathon. David, who does a marathon practically every week and is also doing the 24 hour for the umpteenth time, the aforementioned Ryan, Jenny and Dave, myself, the organiser Chris (also doing the 24 hour), and two guys I didn’t know, Chris (who ended up not finishing) and Stephen.
The 10k had a few familiar faces in it too – Dani’s daughter Sammi (also doing the 6 hour with her mum!), Cheryl and Amelie. I didn’t see too much of them as they ‘only’ did 4 and a bit laps!
I decided to try and stick with Jenny and Dave, and if that didn’t work out, I’d grab my iPod from out of my esky (a good thing I’d put it in there too, as it rained for about the first half of the race!) That lasted maybe about half a
lap! I didn’t see them after that but towards the end I fully expected to be lapped! I was lapped (3 times) by Ryan, and once or twice by David, a couple of times by Neil in the half and I think once by Marlize in the half.
Given that I had decided to treat it as more of a ‘race’ than a ‘training run’, I changed my nutrition strategy. Instead of eating every 30 minutes while taking a 5 minute ‘walk break’, I decided to eat every 3 laps, and just walk for long enough to get my sandwich/Clif bar in. However, on my first ‘food break’ I started eating my sandwich while still running, and realised, it is actually possible to eat and run at the same time! So I ended up not walking at all during the race, and still managed to eat 3 of my 4 pieces of sandwich and 1 Clif bar! I realise that most people would use gels for this reason – to be able to get nutrition in while still running – but I have avoided gels all my running life and don’t intend to change that anytime soon!
At the same time that I got my first bit of food, I grabbed one of my Gatorade bottles. As it was a cool morning, I ended up actually only drinking two of them, but straight after the race I had one, and I had a couple more over the course of the afternoon. Ordinarily I’d probably drink a bit more than that (and probably should have drunk more on this occasion!)
I always listen to music in my Uni Loop training runs, but use it sparingly in races. If I’m running with someone else I prefer to chat, and the great thing about these loopy events is you do get to see people along the way (whether you’re lapping them or vice versa!) On this occasion, being a smaller race and with less and less people there as time went on, the music was called into play quite early (pun intended!) – although if I was running with people I’d always turn the music off and chat for a bit. The person I would have chatted with most was race organiser Chris – I think I ran with him about 3 times during the race – he was doing his 200-and-somethingth marathon, he had run Adelaide last weekend and he was just out for an enjoyable morning, socialising and chatting with all the runners. I think at some point I may have said to him “If you put another event on here, I’m in!”
I had a bit of unexpected company along the way, from people not in the race. I got to see a lot of the SARRC Sunday runners – there are 2 main groups, one starting at 7 and one at 7:30, starting from the clubrooms which are on the loop. The 7:00 group had gone by the time we started but I did see a lot of them on their way back, and I got to see the 7:30 runners before and at the start of their run. (Actually I shouldn’t call it unexpected company – as a runner you CANNOT go out on the Uni
Loop on a Sunday morning and not run into someone you know! It is an impossible task!) One of the 7:00 group, Maree (aka Supergirl) was running towards me, then past, then did a U turn and ran with me for a bit – she had run from home and was on her way back. We had a bit of a chat about our training plans for the Chicago Marathon which we’re both running.
Also out for a short ‘jog’ was one of the Garys who did the marathon last week and is also doing the 12 hour. He had come out just for coffee with the 7:30 runners but I think they’d done a short run post-marathon and had all finished coffee by the time he got there – so he came and ran half a lap with me instead!
I had recently acquired a new computer and put my iTunes library onto it. I had copied the library from an external hard drive but the playlists had to be manually recreated. As I had recreated them from scratch, I had got rid of a lot
of songs I never want to listen to, and had added in new ones I hadn’t listened to in years – it was fun to go through my entire music library of 9000+ songs! I had 2 playlists – one ‘general’ one of about 900 songs, and one specifically for swimming, which
was all upbeat songs and which was much smaller as it had to fit on my waterproof iPod shuffle. I’d opted for the iPod Classic and the longer playlist on this occasion.
I ‘discovered’ a few songs in this race that were great for running! Quite an eclectic mix too, as always – for example ‘Feel the Love’ by Rudimental and ‘F***ing Hostile’ by Pantera (I had to resist the urge to break into song during the
One familiar face who I had met at this very location during a training run last year (from memory we were running in opposite directions and she was wearing an Adelaide 24 top, so it was pretty obvious what she was training for!) was Kay. She was doing the half marathon but when I caught up with her she was thinking about pulling out as she had some leg issues (I can’t remember specifically) and her physio had instructed her that if she started limping, she had to stop. She didn’t have too far left to go and was pretty keen to finish! She was training for the 12 hour again after having done it for the first time last year. From then on when I saw her (I think only 2 more times), I’d say “No limping!” and then the next time I saw her she was heading to the finish!
One really cool thing about this race, and something that I’ve never experienced before as I’ve only done time-based rather than distance-based events here, was the fact that, given the length of the loop and the 3 distances, runners had to complete their last full lap, then head back out along the loop for various distances before turning around and heading back to the finish. Therefore, whenever I saw a runner with a bib on running towards me, I knew they were heading to the finish line so I could give them a bit of a cheer!
I had my watch covered up during the entire race and that was actually really liberating. I mentally counted my laps, which is not that hard on a 2.2km loop. At one point towards the end I snuck a look at my watch when it beeped to indicate I’d finished another kilometre, just to make sure that my count was correct (which it was) and then quickly covered it up again. (One of the tricks I find with counting laps is, always count up, never down, at least until you’re on your last couple of laps!) I ALMOST checked my half marathon time but decided against it. I had no idea what the time was or what pace I was running. Unlike when I ran ‘blind’ at the Great Southern half, I DID know how far I’d gone!
I had a rough idea of the placings in the marathon, based on how frequently people lapped me. Ryan was leading by a good couple of laps and not surprisingly was first to finish in 3:19:20. David, who we worked out was a lap ahead of me
(even though I was sure he lapped me twice!) finished second in 3:38 which is a phenomenal time especially when you consider how many marathons he runs! I actually passed both of them at different times when they were walking. Now that’s not fair – they both walked a bit during the race and still finished miles ahead of me! My marathon PB is a touch under 3:36 and I can assure you there was NO walking during that one!
Speaking of ‘not fair’, let’s come back to Jenny and Dave. Refresher – Dave had run Boston in April, both had run Hubert 100km in early May (Jenny’s first 100km ultra) and both had run the Adelaide Marathon just a week ago.
I’m grateful that I didn’t get lapped by them. It’s probably the closest I will ever get to either of them in a marathon! And I really like both of them, they are both great runners, and very modest about their achievements, but I just don’t think it’s fair that they can do all that in such a short period of time and STILL beat me by a good 10 minutes! (Chris jokingly said he was going to disqualify them if they lapped him!)
For a while there I totally forgot they were there! Being about 10 minutes ahead of me, they didn’t quite catch me to lap me, but when I occasionally looked across the sports fields to the other side of the loop, I never saw them (and Dave would have been hard to miss in his hi-viz yellow!). Unlike the timed Uni Loop events that I’m used to, there were no turnarounds where you got to see all the people who were less than a lap ahead of or behind you!
I managed to start my final full lap before they finished theirs – I was pretty confident they wouldn’t lap me! Small win!
I never did start counting down laps, always up. The end of lap 18 (so just over one lap to go) would have been a food break but being so close to the end I thought it wasn’t worth bothering – it wasn’t as if I was going to get any benefits from eating something now!
As I passed the start-finish line at the end of 19 laps (41.8km, to be precise) I saw Jenny and Dave for the first time since very early on in the race. I left my drink bottle and iPod on the table and said “I’ll be back” – I heard someone say “Sprint finish!” and I did start sort of sprinting – I forgot how far 200m is – that marker seemed to take FOREVER to reach! But that wasn’t the hardest bit – the hardest bit was doing a 180 degree turn, at pace, after running 42km in one direction, and running that last 200m back to the finish line!
As I crossed the line I heard Steve, one of the two main volunteers along with Antonietta who were there for us in the cold and rain all morning, call out my time, and it started with a 3! So after being just a little bit grumpy about Dave and Jenny beating me quite comfortably while taking it relatively easy, I was actually really stoked to get a sub 4 – I genuinely had no idea if I was or wasn’t going to get it, until I heard him call it out!
It wouldn’t be a race report without thanking the volunteers and on this occasion I can thank each and every one of them by name. Both of them, in fact! Both of them being regular parkrunners, I suspect both of them would have loved to be involved in another event happening that day, the ‘Longest parkrun’, 7 ‘unofficial’ parkruns in one day. I was a bit disappointed to find out it clashed with this event, because I was also really keen to give it a go.
Looking at the timetable for the day, and given that I was expecting to finish the marathon by 11:45 (4.5 hours) and the 5th of the 7 runs started at 1:30, it was entirely logistically possible for me to join in the last 3 parkruns (Lochiel, Pakapakanthi and Torrens). Logistically yes but physically? Who knew? I thought I’d give it a go. A 24 hour race is a test of endurance and running on tired legs. What better way to train for that than by running 3 x 5km runs, with about an hour’s break in between each one, and two hours’ break in between the marathon and the first 5k?
Thankfully for all concerned, there was time for me to go home and have a shower before the first of the 3 parkruns, and I made a stop at the Bakery on O’Connell for a pastie and a Coke first! I had just got a new pair of 2XU compression pants in the recent sale, and I usually wear compression pants for recovery after a big run, so I figured it would be a good thing to wear for the parkruns! (They were great, once I got them on. Getting them on was quite the manoeuvre! As was getting them off later!)
And I did manage to get through the 3 parkruns, and I am almost certain it was a good thing to do, both from a training point of view and also recovery (I find it helps to keep moving as much as possible, within reason!)
The ‘Longest parkrun’ finished with a dinner at the nearby Wellington Hotel. As I already had curry in the fridge at home (as well as half a pizza from Saturday night!) I just went and joined them for a wine before going home to eat ALL OF THE THINGS!
I gotta say, and I’m sure I’ve said it before, that a loop marathon or ultra is not for everyone, but it is most definitely for me!
Thanks Chris, Steve and Antonietta and all those involved, and well done to all the hardcore runners – I am sure I will see a lot of you on July 13!
2 weeks after deciding that half marathons were not really my thing, I was back again to do my 21st half (and 7th as a pacer), this time at Adelaide Marathon.
I have a long(ish) history with this event, having been involved in some capacity every year since 2014 (bearing in mind I have only been running since late 2012).
In 2014 I was that weirdo in the tiger onesie hanging out outside the zoo with a sign cheering on the runners.
In 2015 I ran for the first time, as a pacer (also for the first time!) in the half marathon.
In 2016 I ran the marathon for the first and possibly only time!
And here I was again, pacing 2:15 in the half.
I had previously paced 2:00, but the guidelines are that you should be able to comfortably run 10 minutes faster than the time you’re pacing. Given that I ran just under 1:51 at Great Southern, 2:00 would have been a stretch! We also had a 2:06 pacer, which seems like a really odd sort of time until you realise that it is exactly 6 minutes per kilometre. I probably could have done that but I figured 2:15 was a good option (and I had paced that time before).
Actually, I had originally offered to pace 4:30 for the marathon, as part of my 24 hour training, running 25 mins/walking 5 mins. I ended up changing to pace the half instead, and so glad I did! As it turns out, I ran 42.2km a week or so ago and it was only JUST under 4:30. I possibly could have paced 4:45 but 4:30 would have been a disaster!
I hadn’t thought too much about what I was going to wear – I always dress up when I am pacing, not just because it’s kind of fun, but mostly because it makes it easier for the other runners to see me. Then, a few days before, in a conversation on a running group Facebook page, one of my friends Maree commented that she’d be out in her Supergirl costume cheering on the runners somewhere in the latter part of the race. That reminded me that I had a Supergirl costume myself, that I had worn when MCing Yurrebilla last year, and I had not yet run in it! Perfect!
On Saturday night I went to a pre-race dinner which included a number of interstate and overseas visitors and was really enjoyable, and being a running-related event it was a nice early finish! (With WAY too much food!)
I had planned to get to the Adelaide Oval before the marathon started at 7. The half didn’t start until 8, and coach Kent wanted all the pacers there by 7:30. So I set my alarm for 5:45, and then quickly realised that I was going to have to get a move on to get there in time! With road closures, I needed to allow a bit of extra time to get there. As it turned out, by some miracle, I was at the Adelaide Oval by 6:40 – where else can you get up, get ready, drive to the race, park for free and be at the start line of a marathon less than an hour after getting up?
Rain was forecast, but fingers crossed it would not be until later in the day. I wasn’t sure if the dye in my Supergirl costume would run, and I didn’t really fancy dragging a soggy cape around 21.1km!
On arrival at the Oval I wished the marathoners well, especially Ben and Gary who were doing their first marathons. Ben had done a lot of halves and was significantly faster than me, but somehow hadn’t gotten around to running a marathon until now! Gary (aka the Paparazzi) had gone straight to ultras and then decided he might as well tick off the 42.2km ‘officially’ too!
Not so good for the runners, but great news for the pacers, was that there was no helium for the pacer balloons, therefore we wouldn’t have to drag balloons around! It did make it tricky for the other runners to find us, but luckily for the 2:15 half marathoners I was pretty hard to miss! We had pacer bibs as well as our normal bibs, the pacer bibs were to go on our backs. I decided there was no point putting my pacer bib on my back as it would be completely covered by my epic cape! So with some difficulty trying to get it straight, I pinned the pacer bib onto the cape.
There was a bit of confusion around the pacer bibs. I THINK that if we’d had balloons, they would have had our goal time on them. And that would have been the thing that people would have looked for. The pacer bibs had our goal PACE, mine being 6:24 (minutes per km). It probably would have worked quite well with the goal TIME on the balloons. Perhaps in future both the time and the pace could be printed on the bibs?
This was the first time I’d run this half marathon course. 2 years ago when I last ran the half, I think we were still doing that zigzag up to Wellington Square, which was sooo much fun the year I did the marathon and had to do it twice!
I really liked the course. This was my favourite of all the Adelaide Marathon courses I’ve run. I especially liked the bit where we ran into the Botanic Gardens, through a weird gate and along a path which I’d never actually run before, which is remarkable when you consider that I’ve been running for over 6 years and most of my runs have been in and around the city!
There seemed to be plenty of drink stations, although I only stopped at one during the race (and the Adelaide Harriers one RIGHT near the end, when I needed to slow down a little bit!). Normally in a half marathon I would carry a bottle of Gatorade but in cooler weather and at ‘pacer pace’ I figured I could probably do without it – as it turns out I didn’t really need anything during the run. Most of the drink stations were ‘manned’ by different running clubs/groups, with the most raucous being the RIOT Runners (complete with motivational signs) closely followed by the RMA station (complete with Louise in rainbow unicorn outfit – one of the kids had a little folding chair set up and I jokingly threatened to sit in it (except I didn’t, because I would have broken it, been unable to get out of it, or more likely, both!)
The only issue I had with the course, which was probably more of an issue for me being a pacer than it would have been had I just been running for me, was that some of the kilometre markers were not in the right place, and I completely missed seeing some of them (that could have been my lack of observational skills, or maybe they weren’t there). I’d run Great Southern with no kilometre markers, and although it was a bit weird, it was OK because I was just running by feel anyway. However, as a pacer, you do rely on the markers to get the pace right.
I had set my watch to alert me if I went faster than 6:20 and slower than 6:25. I also started my watch on the gun rather than when I crossed the start line about 15 seconds later – that meant that if anyone finished ahead of or with me, would get under 2:15. It did take me a couple of kilometres to hit my goal pace. And then the 2km marker appeared to be out by quite a way (my watch read 2.2km at this point – GPS watches are always a little bit out, but to be 200m out after 2km would be highly unusual!) so I wasn’t actually sure if I was on pace or not. Rather than relying on doing maths in my head every kilometre, I worked out that 32 mins for every 5km would have me spot on 2:15 pace. So every 5km I’d be able to gauge where I was at based on the marker. I think I was pretty spot on at 5km but unfortunately I couldn’t see the 10km marker!
Almost invariably my watch shows that I’ve gone further than I actually have. Therefore, if I ran at 6:24 pace by my watch, I would almost certainly be too slow. So I was aiming to run at about 6:20 by my watch – just in case anyone thought I was running too fast! (I was probably going marginally too fast in the beginning while I was trying to get my pace right. It’s an improvement on 2015 when it took me 7km to hit my goal pace!
The 14km marker really threw me – my watch said I’d gone about 13.6km. Most of the other markers indicated a lower number than my watch did. This was on War Memorial Drive, coincidentally almost exactly in the same spot I’d been in the tiger onesie 5 years earlier, and we soon figured out what the problem was – the marker was meant to be on the other side of the road, and when we went past it again after a little out and back section, we confirmed that it was pretty much in the right spot, just on the wrong side of the road!
There was another one, I think around 17km, where my watch said 17.5km. I don’t expect them to be perfect, they’re just a guide after all, but I know as a pacer I really do rely on them, and as other runners are relying on me to set the right pace, they are pretty important! (I wonder if there’s any way the kilometre markings could be spray painted or even chalked on the ground, as a backup?)
So now to the best bit about pacing, and the reason I come back and do it again and again.
Even though my finish line photo will show that I didn’t have any other runners on my ‘bus’ at the finish line, I know for a fact that I managed to get at least a few runners across the line in under 2:15, and others who were behind me and couldn’t quite catch me, were still happy with their times as a result of having followed my flowing red cape!
Early on I ran with Annette and Sarah, I can’t remember the details of what they’d done before but from memory I think Sarah was hoping for a sub 2:30. She was going to try to stick with me for 15km and then see how she went from there. I told her that if she stayed with me for 15km she would be able to do a lot of walking in the last 6km and still make it comfortably under 2:30. Annette had some knee issues so she was walk/running, and wasn’t loving the hills (a bit like me!) – she had been talked into doing the half by someone who had then bailed – from memory I think she moved interstate so I guess that’s a valid excuse! I saw Annette off and on during the race, she caught up with me in the last little bit where we had to run up Morphett St and back.
Then there was Kim, who had run the Sydney half marathon last weekend and was hoping to go a bit quicker here in Adelaide. She was in training for the most gruelling of events, the Marathon de Medoc, and she commented to me that she was dressing as Supergirl. (If you haven’t heard of Medoc, look it up, the gist of it is that they have wine and cheese at the drink stations and EVERYONE dresses up – this year the theme is superheroes! Could I? NO!!!!)
Running with me from about the 14km mark until I sent them on their way, were Katie and Phil, who had only recently started running, and who had never run 10km before doing the double parkrun on New Year’s Day. Since then they have done 5 half marathons, are doing their first marathon in July! And I think it all started with parkrun! (Recently I have been telling people that the 6 hour race, as part of the 24 hour event, is a ‘gateway drug’ – well I could very easily say the same thing about
parkrun!) I jokingly said to them that they’d be doing their first 100 miler next year…
When I went past the Oval to the final drink station (where I grabbed a drink) I realised I was a bit ahead of time and tried to slow my pace down quite a bit as I turned the corner into Pennington Tce. I realised that I was still going to be well under my goal time so I walked for a bit up the road, until I reached the driveway into the Oval at which point I started running again. As I was walking I cheered on all the half marathoners (and marathoners of course, although they didn’t really need my encouragement, being sub 3:15!) as they went past me to complete their race.
Onto the Oval I went, and once again I realised my pacing was a bit out, and I ended up having to really pick up the pace to finish on time! Supergirl #1 Maree (she’s the original Supergirl) saw me come in and ran with me to the finish which was quite cool – and on my watch I finished in 2:14:59. Which is not too bad for a 2:15 pacer, although you probably wouldn’t say it was great pacing if you saw my last few kilometre splits!
After finishing, and getting another piece of bling for the collection from Annie or Tina (I can’t remember which one of them actually gave me my medal) I caught up with a few of my 2:15 ‘bus passengers’ who had all managed the sub 2:15. Most excited was Katie who gave me the promised massive hug and got a selfie to commemorate the occasion!
I later spoke to a few people around the place (because I couldn’t bring myself to change out of my Supergirl costume) who said they were just behind me and although they tried to catch me but didn’t, they still achieved what they wanted to. Kim was one of those – she beat her time from Sydney last weekend and was happy with that!
During the week I had got myself some new shoes from Joggers World thanks to a prize I’d won from SARRC after the Clare event. I’d never run in Mizunos but I am extremely happy with these shoes so far!
I then went and got myself a well earned coffee, and caught up with Voula who had not long got back from doing the London Marathon, and who had done the 10k. Then we went out to the Plaza to see the runners in the last kilometre or so (it’s actually a pretty cool spot to watch from if you’re waiting on a particular runner – you can cheer them on as they go past, then have plenty of time to get back into the Oval and down to the finish line before they finish!) I saw 3:45 pacer Coralie go by with debutant Ben, and a few minutes back from them was regular running buddy Gary doing his 3rd marathon (his first being Adelaide 2016 which was the year I also ran).
After that I went back into the Oval to hang out at the finish line and watch other runners finish. I was down on the ground when marathon newbie Gary finished, and he barely had his medal around his neck before he had the phone out again taking happy snaps to mark the occasion!
Tina and Annie had to go at 12, and I don’t think there was anyone scheduled to take over from them on medal duty, and Sheena (who I believe had been there since 2am) said she’d do it, at which point I said I’d do it for a bit. It was actually
quite fun, I’ve never done that job before, probably because it’s a volunteer position that is never hard to fill! One guy wanted to be the one to present the medal to his wife, which was a pretty special moment! And a woman from Hong Kong, was really excited to see her husband finish, so I offered for her to present the medal which she did!
The weather turned pretty ugly later – I was very glad I’d decided to ‘just’ do the half – I got a little bit wet in the last kilometre but it was just a passing shower. Towards the end, I was sitting up in the grandstand, waiting for the
runners to get about halfway around the Oval before running down to present their medals, then straight back up the stairs again! One of the guys who was working the PA system lent me his jacket, and someone else handed me a Mickey Mouse umbrella while I was standing in the rain (before I realised I could just as easily do my job from undercover) – thanks to both of those guys!
Last year I was there to see the last finisher – with a generous 8 hour cutoff, everything was still in place. This year, with a 7 hour cutoff, once 2pm had passed, the staff had to start packing up so that the Oval could be vacated in time. (In fact, the finish arch had been taken down some time earlier due to strong winds threatening to bring it down on a finishing runner!)
In the final hour or so, we were constantly being updated re how many runners were out on course. (This illustrates the importance of notifying one of the organisers if you pull out of a race – if you don’t cross the finish line, and if you don’t tell anyone you’ve pulled out, we think you’re still out there!) At one stage MC Pat Carroll said there were 16 runners still out there in the rain and wind – by some amazing coincidence I happened to have exactly 16 medals in my hand! As it turned out some of those people had actually pulled out, and by the time 2pm rolled around I only had 2 medals left in my hand. With the remaining 2 runners (of which only one actually finished according to the official results) still a long way from finishing, I took advantage of a short break in the rain and made the bolt back to my car and off to celebrate with my running buddies!
Well done to all the runners that participated, especially those doing their first marathon or half marathon, and especially especially the ones who were out in the gnarly weather and still finished! In all my years involved with Adelaide I can’t recall it ever raining before! And from a selfish point of view, SPECIAL congrats to the people on the 2:15 bus!
The volunteers always get special thanks but never has it been more deserved. SARRC staff, Race Director Ben and Office Manager Sheena were there from arse o’clock till who knows when, and put on another stellar event. There were a lot
of volunteers involved – I can’t mention all the roles because I would forget someone. From those that helped with setup in the early hours of the morning when I was still in bed, to those who were packing up the gear while I was enjoying a glass of wine at the pub, and all those who were out on course and in the stadium braving the weather and giving amazing encouragement to the runners – THANK YOU ALL! And I’d like to take this opportunity to remind people who run these events, that there is always room for more volunteers, and there is always the opportunity to volunteer AND run as well. I particularly enjoyed handing out the medals for a few hours!
So there you have it, my 21st half marathon. And (possibly under the influence of a glass of red and the encouragement of my running buddies) on Sunday afternoon I signed up for half marathon #22…
You know what I really hate? When people say “Oh, I didn’t train, I’m just doing it for fun”.
I heard that a few times in a short period at the finish line of the Great Southern Half Marathon yesterday!
Now I’m going to talk about the fact that I didn’t train for said event either. That’s not to say I’ve been doing nothing – I’ve been doing plenty, just nowhere near enough training that is helpful for running a good half!
I entered really early – and I paid the extra $10 for the medal. I really like that concept. Plenty of people would rather the option of paying less and not getting a medal that will only end up in a shoebox or a drawer anyway. Me – I have plenty of shoeboxes! Bring on the bling!
Leading up to the event, initially I thought I hadn’t run a half marathon since September’s inaugural City-Bay half – which was actually a really good run for me, my second fastest half ever, and so it should be, being more downhill than uphill! Then I remembered November’s Point to Pinnacle. I’m not sure if I can really compare that to any other half marathon I’ve done, being 1200m of climbing. Even if I did count that one, it had been well over 5 months since I’d run a half marathon (and indeed, since I’d run 21.1km without walking!)
All of my long run training since then has been on trails (with plenty of walking) or on a flat track with scheduled walk breaks every half hour. So I had kind of forgotten how to run long without walk breaks!
My goals for Great Southern were modest. My A goal was to finish without having to walk, and my B goal was to finish. By this time I’d seen the medal and there was NO WAY this was going to be my first DNF! If I did have to walk I would
practise my fast walk I’d been doing in my last 2 parkruns and for the last 4 hours of the Canberra 12 hour (I’d got my time down to just under 36:30 for 5k).
I had no plan, no pacing strategy, nothing. I had no idea of the course other than the fact that it had a fair bit of sand running in it.
For me, this race was 100% all about the bling. It was ridiculous, huge, heavy, tacky, bright, outrageous, possibly even ugly. AND I WANTED IT!
The weather was good – it’s always a bit iffy with these coastal events – if you get a nasty headwind like they did down here a few years ago, it can be a very bad day!
It was a nice late start – 9:30, which suited me very well. I aimed to get there at 8:45 which as it turned out was not early enough – by the time we walked the 800 or so metres from the carpark to the event area, I barely had time to queue up for the portaloos, put sunscreen on, clean my shoes and drop my bag off before we were being called to the beach for the briefing and start! After nearly an hour in the car a little leg loosener would have been good so in hindsight getting there at 8:30 would have been much better and less rushed. (They did have the fancy portaloos though, with soap and all, so that’s a big tick!)
I was running with arm warmers, even though with the 9:30 start, it wasn’t actually that cold! The benefit of that was that I could start my watch and cover it up, and not look at it again until I had crossed the finish line.
It was very weird! With no kilometre markings, and no watch, I had no idea either how far I’d gone or how much time had passed. My watch beeped at me at the end of every kilometre but I quickly lost count of those!
The course, as I stated earlier, started with an out and back section along the beach, with the 10km runners starting 10 minutes after us. There was a bit of traily stuff through the scrub (nothing too technical – the general consensus from those who had run it before, was that road shoes were best) and quite a bit of road. It was relatively flat, and thankfully not windy. The conditions were pretty ideal.
We started to catch up with some of the 10k runners, and when we reached the point where the 10k runners turned left down the Esplanade to the finish line and we went right for who knows how long, I asked one of the marshals, “Is it too
late to change to the 10k?” I bet I wasn’t the first or the last to ask that question!
That Esplanade bit seemed to go on FOREVER! It wasn’t long before we encountered the lead runners coming back the other way, but it would be a LONG time before I would reach that turnaround point at Port Willunga! As I later found out, the point where we split from the 10k was approximately the halfway mark, and it was just over 4km to the turnaround. From the turnaround it was about 6km to the end.
I had totally forgotten how hard half marathons are! This was my 20th road half marathon, I later worked out! This was the one I had been most unprepared for, and it definitely showed!
By the time we got back to the beach again, I figured we were nearly there, and as I ran past 10k tailwalker Tim, I said “Please tell me we’re nearly there!” to which he replied, “Only about 2km to go!” I had thought it could only be less than 1km so I wasn’t too happy to hear that, but at that point I definitely was going to be able to achieve my A goal which was something!
The visibility was good, so I could see the runners ahead of me and where they were going. Much to my dismay, I saw them turn off the beach and go UPHILL to the finish line! How rude! I heard that in previous years they’d finished on the beach and that was kind of what I was hoping – again if I’d studied the course I’d have known where the finish line was but sometimes I prefer not to know! I was CERTAINLY glad not to have known about the 2km of sand at the end!
The first I knew of the time was when I ran up the ramp and I heard “1 hour 50” – far from my best, but still well under 2 hours, which, even though I didn’t set a time goal, was about as good as I could have expected! I ended up going just under 1:51 and promptly announced my retirement from half marathons. 20 is a good number!
Then I pretended to collapse under the weight of the RIDICULOUS medal that I was handed after I crossed the line! I reckon they need to have a competition where people have to come up with creative uses for the medal! I think it would be
really handy for self defence! I also believe that next year the fast runners should be forced to run with that thing around their neck – that’ll sort ‘em out!
All in all it was an excellent event – an interesting course, perfect weather, great atmosphere, wine at the finish line, and the epicest of medals! Congrats to Matt and team for a very successful 4th Great Southern event (over 1000 registrations this year compared with 18 for the first event!) As I have now decided that I should avoid races of distances between 5km and 50km, maybe if they put on a 5km event next year I will come back!
And yeah… I’m sure there will be more half marathons in my future!
Possibly even this one!