Thursday, June 29, 2017

Marathon number 3...

What a wonderful event, I'm still on a high. There is such a lot swirling around in my head to process about this latest achievement.

My first trail marathon was a long affair. 7 hours and 5 minutes of running on beaches, trails, up and down steps and hills. It was completely different to any other running I have done and I loved it.

We ran from Torquay to Fairhaven winding through the scrubby coast and along the beach.

the beautiful surf coast
Fishermans beach was abuzz

chilly start to the day

Trail running is so different to road running and as I have found out time goals are not part of it. I had thought roughly it would take me 6 hours, I thought that was achievable but it was not to be. The course was tougher than I was prepared for and king tides and huge swells meant the 4 beach sections were very challenging. More experienced runners struggled with the conditions so I don't feel disappointed in this effort at all. It was tough but I enjoyed it. It was completely new and I embraced it. At each aid station I stopped and refilled my water bottle, fueled up with some food and chatted to the volunteers and found out what the next section had in store. In every other race stopping for a drink is a no no, you grab a cup on the run, slurp a few sips and then keep running, tossing your cup towards a bin and try not to shower a  fellow runner. I ate chips, muesli bar and lollies in addition to the gels I had in my vest.

Someone had told me the course was flat. Not even close, Sure the beach sections were flat but they were really tough. I couldn't run on the soft sand and spent a lot of the time dodging the waves lapping at the dunes.

the water was lapping at our feet

the swell at Bell's beach was huge

there was no hard sand to run on 

the soft sand was hard going
 The waves and swell were so good at Bell's beach a surfing comp was underway in this '50 year storm' conditions - perfect for surfing but not for running.

we had to scramble onto the dunes
 Normally there is a long sections of bare sand to enjoy.

a beautiful day for a run
Other parts of the course were also beautiful. It had started out cool but sunny, about 13 degrees by the afternoon. I had my arm warmers on and they were up and down the whole day. In the sun I would warm up but in the foresty bits I would get cold again.

A lot of the time I was on my own, looking out for the pink tape tags to guide me and reassure me I was on course. There were loads of wonderful volunteers at many spots along the way who directed and encouraged me. Everyone was so nice, they were out in the cold conditions for many hours.

This inlet crossing was not something I was expecting either. I picked my way across and ended up with water logged shoes and then squelched along for a few kms, wet feet just adding to the adventure.

After the long 3k section along Urquharts beach I came to the 34km aid station manned by my wonderful friends of MCR

The last 8kms were the best, I cruised along up to the light house at Aireys Inlet and onto the beach at Fairhaven and up the steps to the surf club and across the finish line. Melissa was there to cheer me over the line and help me when I needed it most. After a long run like that your brain doesn't work very well and she got my bag and ushered me into the change room to put on warm clothes. She then presented me with a hot coffee and we had a little debrief and shared stories of our run.

this is a cool trace of the route

another medal for my collection
 A truly wonderful experience and another event to tick off the list

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Getting close now...

just under 2 weeks until my next marathon, its actually a 43km marathon so the longest run ever for me. And this 3rd marathon will be my first on a trail course. It won't be nearly as tough as Mt Macedon but longer with sections run on the beach, so a real mixture.

Our last long run was along the bay. Together, before we go in different directions but still with full support for each other.

with the Sea Shepherd 'Steve Irwin' in the background

bad ass, hard core defenders of the oceans. docked at Williamstown until the next campaign
We ran from Altona, touched the Westgate Bridge, up to Yarraville Park and back. The morning was really cold but it was a beautiful morning for a 4 hour run! Plenty of time to solve the problems of the world.

While I was running I was thinking about how far I had come and the things I had learned along the way. I have had several people say to me recently 'I don't know how you do it' and 'I couldn't run 100m'. I always reply the same. That it has taken me a long time to get to this point, none of it has come naturally or easily but it has been worth every step. I wasn't all rainbows and positivity either. I didn't enjoy the last 10 of the 32.5k and wanted it to be over. But soon enough it was over and we were dissecting the run and patting ourselves on the back.

I feel ready and philosophical about this next challenge.

What will be, will be.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Tough trail report...

the mountain beckons

I did the toughest trail so far in my running journey. 21.6km along the trails of Mount Macedon. The day started out freezing cold but clear and frosty. I chipped the frost off my car to head to Gisborne to meet up with a fellow MCR runner who happens to have the same parking anxieties I do and was happy to carpool early.

freezing conditions
We made it in good time and got one of the few good car parks remaining. Lots of runners had our same thought and had arrived early also. But we managed to miss having to use the bus shuttle which turned out to be running late so our start was delayed 15 mins until they arrived. Our early arrival meant we could warm up with a coffee, get our bibs and not have to queue too much for the toilet. It was really frosty and we tried to find a patch of sunshine to keep warm(ish).

when you are so cold you don't care what you look like
MCR crew all doing different races

The first 3-4 km were what they call 'technical' not very steep rather undulating but rocky. It was one of these little rocks that tripped me up at the 2k mark and I fell.Luckily no injury just a bit of mud on my hands and knees and on I went. The trails were beautiful, ferny and covered with leaf litter. Most of the field charged ahead and I had to give way to runners belting back on the narrow trail. We climbed up to the lookout and I paused to take in the view and get my breath back.

There were many challenges, steep slippery descents, steep slippery ascents (I couldn't get up one particularly slippery section without grabbing a stick to help me get some traction), lots of up and down but I pushed on with my mantra of 'do your best' in my head.

As the morning progressed members of the public started appearing on the trails and in the picnic grounds that we passed through. As I ran through I suddenly heard a women shouting NO NO, STOP and COMEBACK!  I then heard the sound of dogs running up behind me and I was frightened what might happen when they caught me. She struggled to get control of the dogs, they were in for a big run.

I heard of one person behind me getting lost and I nearly did too.

some of the markings were not so obvious
But I managed to stay on track and finish in 4 hours. Not the fastest time but I was never going to win. Today was all about the massive challenge and finishing. All the MCR crew were happy with their efforts and as always it is an amazing feeling to be cheered on by your squad.

So it was eventful day including a fall and being chased by dogs, eek and tonight I am pretty tired and a little sore but looking ahead to the next challenge.

Edited to add these photos, taken by a lovely Mum who passed the time waiting for her daughter to run the 50k race by taking just about everyone's photo. Thankyou  Michelle Knoll

at the start

nearly there, close to the finish

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The trail awaits...

at Mount Macedon.

I'm a little anxious tonight about tomorrow's 21k trail run around the top of the mountain. The race briefing was not reassuring at all and full of don'ts.

Don't go off the path, look for the markers and be aware that sometimes nasty people like to tamper with them. Take a map or use your phone...that may not help me.

my mapping skills are lost, hopefully I wont be also

Don't use the cafe toilet or go for a squat in the bush,,,big no no!

Don't park in an unauthorised they not know the anxieties I have with parking!!! I'm going super early and carpooling.

Don't leave any rubbish behind, not even the tiniest tab off a gel packet, it could jeopardise future events. I'm all on board with this one.

Don't go too quick on the slippery sections, you might fall over. Steer clear of the shiny bits. No danger of my going too quick. Which takes me to the next one...

Don't go too slow or you might get swept up and DNF. I am determined to come home with a medal.

Don't go home without having your number marked off. No timing chip here, a volunteer will mark everyone off, at aid stations and at the finish.

And the weather bureau isn't helping either with a 0 degree forecast, will feel like -6!

It wasn't all doom and gloom though. The positive message was enjoy the view, enjoy the trails, help each other get through. Thank a volunteer. I'm told these trails+ events are well organised and quite a few MCR people are attending and planning a pub debriefing afterwards. Experienced trail runners have given advice about gear and clothing

I read an interesting article today saying that if you voice your concerns or worries, give them a name, then the brain can process them, make sense of them and then you feel better.

Well bring it on, here I come!