Well it’s now been 4 weeks since the 12 hour epic and I was beginning to wonder if and when I’d ever get back to running ‘properly’ again!
Saturday was my first ‘proper’ parkrun since the one I ran in Mount Gambier about 6 weeks ago. Even that day, I was holding back a bit, saving myself for the Tower Trail half marathon the following day.
I opted to make the journey down to Victor Harbor parkrun, because they were celebrating their 3rd birthday, with birthdays always come cake, and with Victor Harbor birthdays come VEGAN cake! It’s also a fast, flat course (albeit often with a fairly nasty headwind one way) so it was the perfect way to try to get a bit of speed back!
I ran a respectable 23:16, much slower than I have previously run in my 8 parkruns at Victor, but my fastest in nearly 2 months and my second fastest in 4 months. The wind wasn’t much of a factor, I felt like I had something left in the tank, and the cakes were well worth the long drive!
Next on the agenda was something completely different. I was volunteering at a trail race at Mount Crawford the following day. A lot of people had planned to camp there the night before, and I thought that might be a bit fun, so I signed up despite not having a tent! Not to worry, Tracey had one I could borrow. On the day, Tracey (along with a LOT of other people) decided the weather was too gnarly for camping, but still offered to get the tent to me somehow. I decided that if the weather was looking pretty horrendous, I might as well sleep in the car – at least the car wouldn’t leak or blow away (hopefully!)
So from Victor I made my way home to collect my stuff and then made the long drive up to Mount Crawford, planning to get there well before dark so I could get my bearings! I made it in plenty of time, and parked near where fellow runners Kristy and Trevor were swagging. Most of the hardcore campers were still going with tents!
We went to the local pub in Birdwood for a meal (I had a very nice curry) and then back to the campsite, by which time the rain had started. It would continue for much of the night and on and off the next day. I went to find the hut with the open fire, trying to warm up a bit with a glass of wine and some chocolate while Linda was toasting marshmallows! Even though it was still early it seemed much later (I guess I’d had a long day of driving!) so I hit the ‘hay’ reasonably early, listening to the end of the footy on the car radio and reading a few chapters of my book before attempting to get comfortable in the Corolla!
It wasn’t the worst, I had the seat reclined right back and changed position often. I figured it couldn’t be any worse than trying to sleep on a plane!
I woke up naturally just before my alarm and all I had to do was throw some clothes on and make my way across the campsite to the registration tent. I was lucky enough to have 2 ‘undercover’ jobs – firstly registration manager, then MC. I felt for the people manning the drink stations and the car park – in the rain!
There were over 900 people registered but the forecast nasty weather deterred quite a lot of them – there were a few hundred no-shows, and quite a few people decided on the day to ‘downgrade’ to a shorter distance. Amazingly, 6 people registered at the last minute, even knowing EXACTLY what they were getting themselves into!
The 35k run was the first to start, a short hailstorm coinciding nicely with the start of that event! Then an hour later was the 24k, then an hour after that the 13k. As soon as the 13k had started, we packed up the leftover bibs, and the registration tent was taken down. I had about half an hour to spare before I would need to be in position to call the first finishers over the line.
The timing system was really good. There was a timing point about 100m from the finish line, and the timing guy, Malcolm, gave me an iPad with live results on it. At that stage nothing was happening, but when the runners started to reach the last timing point, their names would pop up on the iPad so I could announce them as they approached the finish. At times there were a LOT of runners coming through at once, hopefully I didn’t miss any of them!
I had fun! I had wondered how I was supposed to know who was coming, considering I didn’t know more than half of the runners, but the system worked really well! Unfortunately we had a few technical issues with the PA system, and I wasn’t able to call the later finishers over the line, as Claire had needed to take the microphone away to do the official presentations. But it’s definitely a job I’d be happy to do again!
I stayed right till the bitter end, when 35k sweeper Ziad came back. I realised how important it is to make sure you let someone know if you don’t start or finish, because first aid officer Susan was calling around all the people who were ‘unaccounted for’, some of whom had not actually started the race! By the time Ziad got back, all the runners were accounted for which was good!
MASSIVE congratulations to all the runners who completed this event, the conditions were challenging to say the least! And also kudos to the volunteers that had much harder jobs than I did!
This morning I finally went to see physio and running buddy Beck to try to get this hip flexor issue that has been bugging me since the 12 hour, sorted once and for all! Happily it seems to be something that will be relatively easily fixed if I do the right thing and do my exercises!
Which brings me to next weekend – the City2Surf. Up until Saturday’s parkrun I was debating how I would approach it. The 2 options were: Plan A to run it ‘properly’ if I thought a sub-70 minute finish was achievable (it’s 14km so that’s 5 minute kms), and if I thought that was unlikely, Plan B I would dress up and just run for fun, like so many people do in this event! After Saturday I am confident that Plan A is a goer!
It would appear that my idea of ‘recovery’ after a marathon or ultra, is a little off the mark.
My rule of thumb is, skip the gym Monday, walk Tuesday, and be back running by Thursday. That’s seemed to work pretty well for me up until now.
I did just that, after last Saturday’s ultra. Thursday’s run was frustratingly slow, and punctuated by 2 unexpected showers. (My rain jacket was conveniently in my car). The I second shower was heavier than the first, and I knew that on a ‘good’ day I would have already been back at the bakery having coffee by the time it hit. Oh well – at least I could run!
I sensibly opted to give myself another week off speed training, initially planning on a spin class at the gym but then changing my mind at the last minute and going for a walk with the running group instead.
There was no run on Saturday as I was volunteering at parkrun. Second time ever on the stopwatch – I had sworn ‘never again’ after stuffing it up the previous time, but actually this time it was really easy and kind of fun!
I knew I wanted to run on Sunday, and there were plenty of options. Kate wanted to hit the trails, Leanne and a few of the other girls were also doing an ‘easy’ trail run, and there was a trial run for the new Cleland parkrun as well as a training run for Heysen 105, and James and co were doing a run down West Lakes way (about a 40 minute drive from my place). None of those runs suited me – I wanted to stay on the flat for another week, and James’ run was starting at 0630 which was not exactly compatible with a late Saturday night! There was also a half marathon down at Aldinga – I ruled that one out too because it was too far away and I didn’t think there was any point entering a race when I knew I wouldn’t be competitive!
So, rather than convince myself I could go for a run later in the day on my own, I decided to join the SARRC Sunday run group. There was a range of distances on offer, but I figured I could cut it short at any point. The group is geared towards marathon training (at this point they’re training for the Adelaide Marathon) and I’d run with them a few times in the past, but hadn’t made it a regular thing. Mostly either because the distance I was needing to run was too different from the distance they were doing, or because other commitments necessitated my running at a time other than 0730 on a Sunday! I had seen the group a few times during my training runs for the 12 hour event (the Uni Loop goes right past the clubrooms) – I’m sure most of them thought I was completely insane! Sometimes I’d see them gathered out the front of the clubrooms before starting their run, and then when they came back after their 30km run I’d still be running laps around the loop!
The 6am alarm was a bit unwelcome after not getting to bed until about 12:30am (tearing up the D-floor at a gig by regular running buddy James’ party band) but I got up and made my way to the clubrooms to run probably around 15km. I was surprised and pleased to see Beck pulling up in her car as I walked to the clubrooms – I hadn’t expected to see her there and I thought we could run together, as she is on the comeback trail after injury! She was planning to do 15km so I thought “Perfect!”
The first indication that I may not be doing the right thing was when coach Kent asked me what I was doing there – he would have expected me to be still resting! (I do have City2Surf coming up in 4 weeks – I have no expectations of getting close to the time I ran 2 years ago, but I would like to come in under the 70 minute mark, so I do need to get back into it fairly soon!)
It was a pretty hard run – pace was OK but the legs just felt really heavy especially on the hills! We were doing a lap of the Adelaide Marathon course which brought back memories of 2016 for Beck, Gary and me! In the end I didn’t run much with Beck as she was well ahead!
To get to 15km I would have had to run past the clubrooms and do another 4km loop. In the end, I got to the clubrooms at 11km and decided that was enough. And by then I’d made a decision.
It’s probably not quite enough, but it’s better than nothing. I’m going to take a break from running for the next week and a bit. My next run will be on Tuesday 25 July. The plan is to hit the gym for BodyPump and spin classes, and walk on Tuesday, Thursday and at the Cleland parkrun launch on Saturday. It will be my first ‘parkwalk’ but being reportedly a very challenging trail course, I’m more than happy to skip the run that day! Sunday I’ll be volunteering at a SARRC event, so I wouldn’t be running that day anyway.
Something exciting that happened this weekend was that I got my first road bike! It was the same bike I did a few rides on about 18 months ago – its owner has now grown out of it so I didn’t hesitate to say yes when it was offered to me! So as part of my ‘recovery’ I might get out for a gentle spin or two!
I think social media might have a lot to do with why I possibly don’t allow myself adequate recovery time! On my Strava and Facebook feeds, I’m constantly seeing people run an ultramarathon one day and a ‘recovery run’ the next, and I think to myself, “If they can run the day after an ultra, why can’t I?” or words to that effect!
I have cut back a lot on events this year. My list at the start of the year was quite a bit shorter than my 2016 list, and I’ve already cut a few out (with possibly more to come) so I guess you could say I’m learning… slowly!
Do you have any surefire recovery tips? Do you have a plan you like to follow? How much of a break do you give yourself after a big event?
You know that scene near the end of ‘Wayne’s World’ (repeated several times with the multiple ‘endings’) where Rob Lowe’s character gets out of the car after having been, err, ‘internally searched’ by the local police? Well, that’s kind of how I think I look when I get out of the car at the moment!
Perhaps I should explain myself a bit more here.
The Yumigo Adelaide 6/12/24 hour event has become a fixture in my running calendar over the last 3 years. I have now run the 6 hour twice (see my report from 2016 here) and after having a brief taste of victory last year, within a week of the event I had signed up to do the 6 hour again this year.
Since coming back from the USA this event has been firmly in my sights. With no Gold Coast Marathon this year to give me my distance legs, I have actually had to train for this one. As well as doing a few of my long training runs for Boston at the Uni Loop, since returning I have done 3 x 3 hour runs and 1 x 4 hour run. As stated in previous blog posts I have dropped a few other events to focus on this one.
Then something changed. Firstly I found out that Coralie, super fast marathoner, was doing the 6 hour. I don’t know if she’s ever done an ultra but looking at her marathon times I kind of thought she’d have me covered! Then another fast runner who HAS done ultras, Tracey, was also doing it. The last straw, so to speak, was when Louise, entered in the 12 hour, mentioned that she was thinking of ‘downgrading’ to the 6 hour. Now Louise is a faster runner than me, and has some great recent ultra form, having finished 3rd at the Cleland 50k event only a few weeks ago.
I entered the 6 hour again purely to try to go one better than last year. I actually didn’t expect to get a PB – I couldn’t really see how I could improve on last year distance-wise. And when these fast runners started to pop up – well it looked like winning was becoming more and more unlikely. And even though Louise later told me that she was going to stick with the 12 hour, I had already kind of made up my mind.
So here’s my logic. First, I have run 2 x 100km track races, finishing both in under 11 hours. Looking at the results of the 12 hour from previous years (2010-2016), only once would someone running exactly 100km have missed out on a placing. And given previous results over the distance, you’d think I should be able to get a bit OVER 100km (105 had a nice ring – that would then be my longest run EVER!)
Plus, being my first ever 12 hour event, it would be a guaranteed PB!
And with my 100k track experience, pacing wouldn’t be an issue – I would use exactly the same strategy I used for the last 100km race (link here). From the start, I would run for 25 minutes and walk for 5. And repeat 23 more times. Simples!
And nutrition was going to be the same too – I would take in some nutrition on every walk break – I had 4 white bread sandwiches cut into quarters, 2 with peanut butter and 2 with chocolate spread, plus some nut bars, Clif bars and mashed sweet potato. In training I’d only used nut bars and sandwiches, and in last year’s 6 hour that was all I’d needed, but for 12 hours I needed a bit more variety. I’d put the sweet potato into tiny containers (picture the types of containers you get sauces in when you get takeaway Indian or Chinese food) and brought a spoon along. I’d previously experimented with putting it into reusable flasks and Ziploc bags, which is probably the best way to go on a trail ultra, but on a 2.2k loop event eating it out of a container with a spoon would work fine.
Hydration-wise I went with the same strategy as the 100k in January – 6 x 500ml bottles of Gatorade ready to go. So I literally just had to grab one and keep going. I didn’t want to waste any time on food/drink stops.
Super support crew Simon had kindly offered to bring a gazebo for our unofficial ‘Team Vegan’ and get us chocolate donuts from the nearby Bakery on O’Connell! So I’d have a small table undercover where I could lay out all my stuff for quick access. No using my car as an aid station like I did last year! (That had worked OK last year, but with less than ideal conditions forecast this year, I didn’t really fancy my ability to operate a key in a lock, plus I have a history of losing car keys in ultras! Best keep the key somewhere safe, not to be touched until it was time to go home!) Simon would be joined by Sheena, who had hoped to be running the 24 hour event this year but sadly due to injury it was not to be. Happily for us, she would be supporting instead!
Gear-wise I’d been training with what I planned to use on the day. Starting from the bottom, my trusty Salomon trail shoes, which had served me well last year. My old favourite Nike trail socks (they’re just normal running socks but they’re black, hence they’re the ones I tend to use for ultras). New this year was a pair of gaiters, because on one of my training runs I’d been bothered by rocks in my shoes – the Uni Loop being a gravel track. I’d done my last training run in them, and all had gone well! On the legs I had black calf sleeves (I know, boring, huh?) and then 2XU compression shorts under a plain black lululemon skirt.
I’d gone with 2 Spibelts this year – Karen had kindly given me a spare, so I’d have one for my race bibs and one for my phone. The race bib one could also hold snacks and/or my iPod, should I need to use it.
On the top I went with my favourite lululemon green T-shirt, rainbow armwarmers (see – there was some colour after all!), a zip-up jacket over that, rain jacket, gloves, a buff and a beanie for the start at least. I had a hat and sunnies which I would change into once I got warmed up and the sun came out! I put in a couple of spare tops in case I got drenched like in 2015! And after getting pretty warm last year, I threw in a singlet as well. I had contemplated putting it on under my T-shirt, but in all likelihood I wouldn’t need it, and with the 5 minute walk breaks, I didn’t have to worry too much about wasting time changing!
Because it’s important to know this, my race eve dinner was an old favourite of mine, sweet potato mac and cheese from the awesome vegan website One Green Planet. I had this before this year’s 100k track championships and I’d been super organised and made a big batch last week and frozen it in meal-sized portions. Pre-ultra nutrition for me always consists of lots of carbs – I don’t ‘carb load’ as such but always have a good high-carb meal the night before (or on the day when it comes to overnight ultras) – usually pasta or noodles of some kind!
I taped my feet before I went to bed – rigid sports tape under my arches, and Hypafix around each toe to stop them rubbing. I imagine toe socks (or as I like to call them, ‘foot gloves’) would have done the same job, but having never tried them before, I wasn’t game to try them in this event! I did try to buy a new pair of Nike socks but the socks I have been using are no longer available, and I figured it was best to go with tried and tested (albeit somewhat past it) than something brand new!
With 3 alarms set for 4am, 4:05 and 4:10, I went to bed early, around 9ish. Amazingly, I woke up just before the 4am alarm!
I was already pretty pumped up but to put it beyond any doubt, before I got out of bed, the first order of business was a little motivational music. I went with a recent track from one of my all-time favourite bands (possibly THE all-time favourite, now I think of it!) – “Let’s Go” by Def Leppard, which starts with the line “Do you really really wanna do this now?”. At the time, my response was “Hell yeah!” (Their music was also pretty much the soundtrack to my Uni Loop training runs and one of the few things that made those runs tolerable!)
I had already got everything organised the night before so all I had to do was eat my breakfast, get dressed and put my food and drink in the car. There was one small hiccup when the fastener on one of my gaiters broke as I was putting it on – I figured a half-fastened gaiter was better than no gaiter, so I left it on regardless! Despite this small inconvenience, I managed to get out the door by 4:45 and parked in prime position, near the timing area, just before 5am, plenty of time before the 6am start! It wasn’t especially cold this year – I had my hoodie and track pants on but I was able to remove them well before the start time.
Simon was there around the same time with our gazebo and managed to find a great spot not too far from the timing area, near the portaloos (but not TOO near), in between Team Barry (2016 24 hour winner Barry McBride along with long time wine sponsor and fellow 24 hour runner Paul Rogers along with their amazing support crew Liz) and Team Katie (another 24 hour runner from last year back to do it all again, along with a number of her sisters and cousins tackling the 6 hour for the first time!). I brought out most of my stuff – a chair, a bag of stuff I might need during the race (spare socks, spare tops, rain jackets, sunglasses, iPod and headphones), a bag of clothes for AFTER the race as well as a warm blanket, and my food and drink. Oh and a bottle of red wine and a few glasses, a bottle of vegan Bailey’s I’d bought in San Francisco 2 months ago and amazingly remained unopened, and some shot glasses. (That was for AFTER!) In the car, I left my pillow, sleeping bag and acoustic guitar!
One last minute addition to my kit was a newly purchased ‘Team Vegan Beast Mode’ tech band by Mekong Athletic which Simon had organised (proceeds to animal charities – what’s not to like?) – given that it was dark and I didn’t have a mirror to put it on properly so the logo could be seen, I just put it around my neck for the time being. As it wasn’t super cold at the start, rather than have to worry about keeping my ears warm, I went straight to my old favourite 2XU running hat.
I decided not to go with the tunes to begin with. I thought I probably wouldn’t need to worry about that until after the halfway point when the 6 hour people finished. At the race briefing, Race Director Ben said that the weather looked like it was going to turn in the afternoon. So, I thought that I might not use the iPod at all, as I wouldn’t want it to get water in it.
The first hour or so was fairly quiet, possibly because it was still dark and we were all still half asleep!
A few things were apparent early on.
Firstly, the girls from NRG (Northern Running Group), Mel, Tania, Vicky, Cherie, Karen and Debbie, resplendent in their matching tutus and socks with wings, were a shoo-in for the non-existent ‘best dressed’ award.
Secondly, barring disaster, a girl called Amelia from Melbourne was going to win the 12 hour event – she was already lapping me before the sun came up!
Now, I’m going to stop trying to keep things chronological because it’s really hard to do that over 12 hours!
I want to start by talking about the people I ran with during the course of the day, all of whom had their own reasons for being there and goals they were hoping to achieve. There were quite a few runners out there so naturally I’m not going to be able to mention all of them! The 6 hour had the biggest field, 53 starters. Then there were 19 in the 12 hour. The 24 hour event boasted 27 entrants – they would start 4 hours after the 6 and 12 hour runners.
Early on I ran with well known running identity Sputnik, wanting to test out nutrition and hoping to complete a marathon – he ended up running the full 6 hours and clocking up over 55km!
Also in the 6 hour were a few more familiar faces – Stu who I ran with a couple of times, at one stage he was troubled with cramps but ended up completing 51.7km and a marathon PB along the way! Then there was Scuba who powered to an impressive 58.7km and his better half Chantal smashed out 51km which was her first marathon and first ultra!
My old ‘nemesis’ and the person to blame for getting me involved in all this silliness in the first place, Graham, was back again (he, along with Kym, have completed every 6/12/24 since the event’s inception). Weirdly, the only time I saw him in the 6 hours was at the 3 hour turnaround. (The turnarounds became a huge highlight! Believe me, when you’ve been running around the same loop for 3 hours, turning around and going back the other way almost feels like a change of scenery!) I told him I wasn’t going to chase him to the finish (like he did to me at Mount Gambier) and then he said he might come back and chase ME at the end of 12 hours! Despite the lack of ‘encouragement’ from me, Graham managed 58km. The aforementioned Kym, always one to encourage the newbies in the event, still managed to clock up nearly 44km and probably chatted with every single runner along the way! Another familiar face, Tim, was hoping for 50km but at least a marathon, in the end he was only a few kilometres off achieving the 50!
In the 12 hour event we had Leon, who had originally entered the 24 hour but due to work commitments he had to drop back to the 12 hour. Then there was Ciaran, who I had met last year at one of the Heysen training runs. We ran together on and off for short periods. Notably he had the most amazing support crew in wife Jenny, who was always encouraging to ALL the runners as we went past – either with a different dance for each lap, some singing, and the occasional quiz question! She really added a huge amount of enjoyment to the event, even during the few ‘dark’ hours when I was seriously questioning my sanity!
Other than Amelia who seemed to be a class above everyone else (and I suspect she would have also given the 6 hour event a good shake if the rules which applied in previous years, allowing 12 hour runners to get placings in the 6 hour event, had not been changed this year), there were a few strong looking women in the 12 hour. Firstly there was Michelle, who I knew was a really good runner (and definitely faster than me, although ‘fast’ is not exactly the most important thing in a 12 hour event!) and also Lynda, who I hadn’t met before, but looked strong every time I saw her.
The thing was, while I was hopeful of a podium finish (there were 11 females starting in the race, but I didn’t even know that at the time), I didn’t want to let it mess with my head. All I could do was run my own race. Knowing that I was 1km ahead or behind of someone else wouldn’t necessarily change what I was able to do. So my tactic for the race was to try NOT to look at the live results screen at the timing area. The way it worked was, as you crossed the timing mat, your name and position etc would appear at the top of the screen. At one stage early on, I wanted to see my lap count, because that was really the only reliable way to know how far I’d gone (GPS watches being notoriously inaccurate). At the same time I also saw that I was in 5th position. That was 5th overall, not 5th female, but even so, it was something I really didn’t want to know. After that, I avoided looking at the screen altogether! I asked volunteers near the timing area to tell me what lap I was on a few times, and the rest of the time tried to keep a mental count. The magic number was 45.5 – that would be 100km. That was all I needed to focus on.
Also in the 12 hour was Caitlin who was aiming for 50km which would be her first ultra. Her plan was to complete 50km and then stop. I had a George Foreman grill in my car that I had been meaning to give to her for quite a few months (since well before I went to the USA in April) but our paths had never crossed! Today I was determined to give it to her! As she was walking a fair bit, I passed her a few times so we were able to make the ‘transaction’! Firstly I had to tell her what my car looked like and where the grill was in the boot, then I had to describe where my tent was and where I’d leave my keys so her husband Matt could get the grill out while she was completing her 50k! She later told me that Matt had got the grill and she was almost at her goal distance! So not only did she complete an ultra and get a nice piece of bling, she also got a nice new(ish) kitchen appliance to go along with it!
The first turnaround was around 9am. In the past, when I had done the 6 hour event, that had been the ONLY turnaround. This time, there would be two more!
While I didn’t opt to run with my music, there was a guy in a ute near one of the soccer fields, I’m pretty sure he was associated with the soccer rather than our event, but he was cranking out some classic rock on his car stereo. On one occasion I ran past to the unmistakable sound of Def Leppard’s classic, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” which got me a little excited – I guess that was a sign it was going to be a good day!
Around this time, regular running buddy Kate arrived with my pre-arranged long black. I’d had one at this stage of each of my previous two 6 hour events, and had found they gave me a huge boost! This time I had a tent and a table, so I was able to tell Kate where my ‘base’ was, and she could leave the coffee there, so I could try to time my coffee drinking with my scheduled walk break. Given that it was a 2.2km loop, it would have been pretty lucky if I had passed by just at the right time for a walk break, but given that I was well ahead of schedule at that point, I could afford an extra few minutes walking to get the coffee in – and as it had cooled down a bit by the time I got to it, I was able to drink it relatively quickly!
The timing was perfect too, because just as I finished drinking it, I saw Daryl, there with Karen, not far from the start of the 24 hour event. I handed my empty cup to Daryl and asked him to put it in the bin for me, to save me carrying it around for another lap!
Among the 24 hour runners were two fellow vegans, Kate and Tracey, who were sharing the tent, and the support of Simon and Sheena, with another runner Georgy who was doing the 6 hour, and myself. Other notable entries were Barry, defending his title from last year, and Tia, who you may remember from last year’s event, who ended up winning the 6 hour trophy from the 12 hour event (which triggered the change in the rules this year!)
The first big challenge came at the halfway point, when the horn sounded to signify the end of the 6 hour event. 6 hour runners dropped their personalised rocks as soon as the horn sounded, and made their way back to the timing area, their race done! For the next hour or so, they were hanging around waiting for the presentation while the final distances were added up, meanwhile the 12 and 24 hour runners carried on! That was pretty hard, mentally! In the 100k track event, I had been used to the 50k runners finishing before me, but as that was a distance rather than time based event, they weren’t all finishing at once like they did here. Suddenly, well over half the overall field was gone!
At the halfway point, as well as singing a bit of ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ as I ran past Jenny’s tent (I figured I owed her a bit of ‘entertainment’ after all the entertainment she’d given me so far!) I had an energy drink, the effect of the coffee having long since worn off!
Around the 7 hour mark, the sky started to look ugly. I didn’t want to end up over the other side of the track without a rain jacket if the heavens opened, so I played it safe and put on my rain jacket as I passed my tent. It wasn’t at all hot, so despite the fact that it didn’t actually rain until about 4 hours later, I ran in the jacket for the rest of the 12 hours, quite comfortably.
I’m not sure exactly what point I started having really negative thoughts, but I think it was somewhere just before the 8 hour mark. I remember one of the volunteers at the food tent asking how I was going, to which I responded “Shithouse. SHIT HOUSE”. Hopefully I wasn’t rude – maybe they thought I was just being funny!
This was the point where I was kind of hoping some random would ask me what I was doing. Rather than Ben’s suggested response from the race briefing (“being a total legend”) I was planning to say “Seriously questioning my life choices!”
Up to the 8 hour mark I was able to keep up my ’25 minute run/5 minute walk and eat’ strategy going, but it was becoming more and more of a struggle. I decided to change tactics at 8 hours, and for the next hour I tried ’13 minute run/2 minute walk’ and every second 2 minute walk I would also eat. That lasted for an hour, as I quickly realised 2 minutes walk break was not enough to be of any use.
It was probably around this time that I ran into Karen, at this stage she was walking with Daryl and their dog Feebee. Although I was running and they were walking, it seemed to take me ages to catch up with them. Karen was having a bad day, she had revised her goal and had decided that she would be happy with 100km in the 24 hours. Not too long after this, she informed me that she was too sore and decided to pull the pin after having completed a marathon distance in around 6 hours. Catching up with her a few days later, she was not regretting her decision! She also told me she thought I looked terrible at that stage, possibly even a little on the green side!
(Food-wise I was quite happy with what I’d brought – in the end I only had half a sandwich left out of the 4 that I’d started with, and 2 of my 5 tubs of sweet potato. I think I also had 2 out of my 4 nut bars, and one of the 6 bottles of Gatorade. So that’s pretty perfect! The only thing I ate during the race that I hadn’t supplied myself was a couple of Maurice’s famous vegan brownies!)
So from 9 hours I dropped way back to 10 minute run, 5 minute walk and eat. I was pretty much running at walking pace anyway by this stage!
Not long after this (and another turnaround) Beck arrived with my afternoon coffee! I happened to be walking at the time, so I took it from her and we walked together as I drank it. The conversation went something like this:
Beck: You’re limping.
Beck: What’s hurting?
Beck: Oh, that’s good.
Of course, what she meant was, (and I knew this) you EXPECT everything to hurt when you’ve been running/walking for over 9 hours. What would have been more concerning would have been if one particular area was hurting (like, for example, a troublesome hamstring tendon!)
At that point I told her that I was going to get to 100km and then that would be it, I would stop. I didn’t know how far from the end I would be at that stage, but I didn’t care. 100km was all I cared about by now.
I think maybe that second coffee was the boost I needed to get me through the rest of the 12 hours. It may have also been the fact that there was only 2.5 hours to go. We’ll never know, but the below graph makes interesting viewing. I kept a manual note of my distance (by my watch) at each hour. I then made this into a graph – showing the distance I covered in each of the 12 hours.
I managed to stick with the 10/5 run/walk for the rest of the 12 hours. Except at the end of course – I was hardly going to walk the last 5 minutes of the 12 hour event, unless of course I was unable to run at all! I think this worked really well – 10 minutes was not too long to be running, and 5 minutes was enough time to get a decent amount of food and recovery. And I covered more ground than I would have had I just been walking.
As I got closer to the end, I realised that the hundy was definitely going to happen, and I reached a point where I knew I’d be able to walk it in, but I didn’t want to do that if at all possible. I didn’t know if I was in the top 3, and how close/far away I was from the other competitors, so despite the fact that 100 was at the front of my mind, I knew I had to keep going after that, to get as far as I possibly could.
45.5 laps, as I mentioned earlier, was the magic number. The ‘0.5 lap’ mark was the bollard that signified the 3 hourly turnaround point, so it would be easy to gauge when I’d got there. In fact, 100km was a bit less than 45.5 laps. I realised when I had a couple of laps to go to reach the milestone, that there was actually a yellow marker on the ground next to a bench, that said ‘100km’! To think I had run past it probably 43 times without even noticing it! Probably a good thing. It probably would have messed with my head!
Around this time I saw a familiar face, Brody, another ultramarathoner who I’d met at one of the Heysen training runs, who had come to run some laps with Barry in the evening. He ran about half a lap with me as I got ever closer to the three figures. He was the one who suggested we run on the inside of the loop which, as we were going clockwise at the time, was the right hand side. This felt very unnatural and I was a bit worried about getting hit head on by some of the fast young runners who were out there running in the rain, but it made sense – it was the shortest distance after all! How was I only just learning this now?
Probably with about 20 minutes to go, I reached the magical milestone as I passed that 100km sign for the penultimate time. I raised my arms in the air in a victorious pose (not that there was anyone there to see it!) and kept going – how much further could I go?
When I got back to the timing area to complete my 46th lap, Michelle was there ready to hand me my personalised rock. I loudly and clearly called out “I want my rock now!” so she’d be ready with it by the time I got there, but she was already on top of it! I grabbed my rock (which Michelle very kindly kissed for me before handing it to me!) and set off on what would be my final lap.
It was dark by now, and the watch I was using didn’t have a backlight, so I had to rely on the path lights to see how much time was left. I knew it was only a matter of minutes. I didn’t want to miss hearing the horn!
And then, there it was! 12 hours, done! I dropped my rock and walked back to the timing area. I wasn’t sure of my exact distance (that would need to be manually measured) but I knew I’d done at least 102.2km, as I’d passed the 100km mark one more time and a full lap was 2.2km. But would it be enough to get me a placing? I’d have to wait and see! (Or, I could look at the live results, but I wouldn’t do that!)
As far as I could tell, I was 2nd, 3rd or 4th. I would have been very disappointed if I’d clocked over 100km and not made the top 3! Even so, I couldn’t have done any better, and I was ECSTATIC to have got the 3 figures.
Time to relax! As the volunteers went about the task of doing the final measurements, I got changed into warm clothes (I left my compression shorts and calf sleeves on, partly for recovery and partly because, well, they were too hard to get off!) and hoed into a vegan chocolate donut that Simon had picked up from Bakery on O’Connell – THE BEST!!!!
Michelle, one of the two women (other than Amelia) who I thought might have been ahead of me, came past, and I found out she’d had a few injury issues and got about 98km. So by my calculations that would put me in at least 3rd place.
Then it was time for the presentation when I would find out for sure! As it turned out, Lynda was just behind Michelle in 4th place, and I’d managed to get 2nd! The down side of being 2nd versus 3rd was that I had to climb up onto a slightly higher podium. That was nothing though, compared with how high up Amelia had to get! I was gobsmacked when her distance was announced – just a touch under 130km! If only I’d tried a bit harder and run another 28km, I could have won!
So that was pretty exciting! And for the second year in a row I finished second to a Victorian!
After that it was time to just chill out and support Kate and Tracey and the other 24 hour runners. I got my guitar out at one stage and messed around a little bit with a few chords (Kym, who is a bit of a muso himself, came back to see the end of the 12 hour and we had a bit of a chat about bar chords and other things I don’t know a lot about!) and Simon, legend that he is, went to Crust Pizza to get us some vegan pizza! Fellow member of Team Vegan, Greg also turned up with coffee! Another team member, Dave, was unable to run due to injury but did come and volunteer as well as taking some awesome photos – thanks Dave!
One of the things I had been looking forward to for some time was finally cracking open the bottle of vegan Baileys. Well known trail runner Wendy had happened to drop in at the right time, with dinner for Simon, and was more than happy to sample my wares! The verdict from everyone who tried it was that it was delicious – even the non-vegans! I think devout non-vegan Maurice even enjoyed it a little bit! (Now we just need to get them to sell it in Australia – it’s pretty expensive when you have to fly all the way to the USA to get it!)
Before long I decided I wanted to try to sleep, and Sheena offered to put up the tent that Tracey had brought, so I could sleep in there. I gratefully accepted, and managed to catch a few hours kip in between hearing people shuffle past me, and the general chit chat from Team Vegan and Team Barry next door! I couldn’t really get comfortable, but I don’t think I would have been able to get comfortable in my own bed at this stage either!
Probably around 5:30 I woke up, I could hear Susan, the first aid boss, in the tent next to me, asking people as they went past “Are you eating? Drinking? Weeing?”. I could hear something was going on in Team Vegan, I realised that something wasn’t right with Kate, and before too long I heard Susan calling for an ambulance! That didn’t sound good, but everyone seemed quite calm. Turned out she was having blood pressure issues and while she did go off in the ambulance to hospital, we got a message from her not long after saying that all was good after being put on a drip. She eventually made it back in time for the presentation which was good as she won a voucher for The Running Company in the lucky prize draw (you had to be there to claim a prize!)
I made my way to the food tent. Michelle had offered me a range of vegan slices during my 12 hour run but I said I’d wait till I was finished. Now I was finished so I made a point of sampling all of them. Most of them more than once (I had to be sure) – they were all delicious! And of course, I earned them!
Once the sun was up I decided I couldn’t face the gnarly portaloos anymore, so even thought it involved a fair bit of walking, I made my way to the proper, clean, toilets at the Adelaide Uni clubrooms! I think the walking actually helped relieve some of the stiffness!
I snuck back out to Bakery On O’Connell for a coffee run and a few vegan pasties (breakfast of champions!) for myself and Simon!
One memorable moment from the closing stages of the 24 hour was getting to see Stephan running backwards! I can understand why – you get to use different muscles! Afterwards he estimated he had done about 1km in total backwards!
One of the pluses of staying overnight after finishing the 12 hour was getting to see the 24 hour runners through the middle of the night. Watching them made me decide I NEVER want to run the 24 hour. Although, I do want to do a 100 miler one day and I’m sure a trail miler is not in my future, so I guess I will have to do it eventually. Give me a few years!
First overall in the 24 hour was Tia, first male again was Barry (both of them cracking the 200km barrier), and Tracey ended up getting 3rd behind Anna (it was Anna’s first ever podium finish!)
I then hung around to help pack away (the benefit being I got to take home a container full of leftover vegan brownies!) and got home around 1pm! It was a long, exhausting but seriously rewarding couple of days!
From ‘never again’ I am now pretty much certain I’ll do the 12 hour again next year. Let’s call this year a ‘reconnaissance mission’ and I’ve learned a lot that will hopefully help me make it bigger and better next year!
HUGE thanks to the following people (and massive apologies if I forgot anyone!)
Ben, the seemingly superhuman Race Director, for putting on yet another epic event!
All of the amazing volunteers who helped to make it all happen!
All of the other runners in the 6, 12 and 24 hour events for the chats, company and encouragement along the way!
All the supporters along the course – most of them were there to support one particular runner or group of runners but all of them gave encouragement to all the runners as they passed! Extra special thanks to Ciaran’s wife Jenny – you were the best, with encouragement every time I went past!
My wonderful support crew, Simon and Sheena and the rest of Team Vegan
My caffeine suppliers, Kate and Beck! Lifesavers!
All the people who dropped by to see me – including Mum and Dad, Robyn, Gary (who also ran with me briefly in his dress shoes!), and Voula (who ran with me after having completed her long run!)
Because there are no photos to illustrate this week’s post, I have decided to ‘pretty’ it up with some (mostly nonsensical and completely irrelevant) words of ‘wisdom’ from my favourite new time-waster (and LOL generator) – inspirobot.me! (You’re welcome, by the way!)
You know FOMO, right? Fear Of Missing Out.
Social media has a lot to answer for here. In the past you wouldn’t necessarily know what you were missing out on. But now you can’t even open Facebook or Instagram without seeing a post about somewhere you wish you were, and/or a race you wish you were running!
This time last year, and the year before that, AND the year before that, I was up on the Gold Coast for marathon weekend. Not this year though. I know a lot of people who were there, and had no end of posts popping up on my news feed. The fact that the weather here in Adelaide this weekend has been spectacular (if a little chilly in the mornings) makes it a bit easier to see the pics of people up there in the sunshine!
And you know what? Even if it had been raining all weekend, I think I’d still be OK with not being there! Been there, done that. Having said that, if I ever want to give Boston another crack, that’s where I’ll be going for my BQ!
Then there’s Yurrebilla. The Yurrebilla 56km ultra is the biggest ultra in SA in terms of participation, and one of my all time favourite events. I volunteered in 2014 and then ran it in 2015 and 2016.
This weekend was the first of the 3 traditional training runs for Yurrebilla. Essentially, the course is split into 3 sections, so if you do all 3 runs you’ve seen the whole course. Unless, of course, a freak storm hits Adelaide a week and a half out from the event, rendering parts of the trail inaccessible and forcing a last-minute re-route. As if that would ever happen!
Given the ‘loopy ultra’ (as I like to call it) next weekend, I thought a little ‘time on legs’ was called for, so I had planned to run ‘back and out’ (starting at the finish, running back to the start to meet the main group and running with them back to the finish – about 36km all up). That was, until I realised that I was going out on Saturday night and probably wouldn’t be too keen on starting a run at 5:45, or even 8:00, for the standard distance, so I pulled the pin on that idea.
Then I realised I would also miss the second run as I will be in Sydney. So, given that I find it hard to get motivated to do these kinds of runs on my own, that would leave just the final stage. Last year I was in the same boat and ended up doing stages 2 and 3 together (about 40km – a LONG day out!). I did an OK time in the event but I had been hoping for sub 7 hours (after having run 7:07 in 2015) – the extra hills in the re-route probably didn’t help my cause there!
So I came to the conclusion that I could either run it (with low expectations and minimal training), or I could just take this year off. And I opted for the latter – I’ll go out and volunteer this year, and get my trail legs primed for 2018!
On Sunday morning, having done my long loopy run on Saturday, and waking up at a civilised time with nothing I had to get done (pure luxury!) I decided to head up to the finish of the training run to chat with fellow runners (spending most of my time in close proximity to the very welcome portable heater!). As I drove up the old Mount Barker Road I passed a number of runners (and some walkers) approaching the end of their run. And some who were on their way back down to the start at Belair! No FOMO! I got to the finish line ‘aid station’, kindly provided by super volunteers Mal and Merrilyn every year, and saw all the runners with their smiling faces and still no FOMO! It was a beautiful day for a run, too – but I made the most of it by getting out for a long walk to stretch the old legs after Saturday’s 3 hour training run.
So after this weekend I am confident I’ve made the right decision about Yurrebilla. And now I’ve said it here, it’s official (and the volunteer coordinator has undoubtedly already got me slotted into a role!)
I’m pretty sure I won’t be experiencing any FOMO next Sunday morning either, wishing I’d done the 24 hour event instead of the shorter option. I ran intermittently with 24 hour entrant Tracey on Saturday, and I was complaining about having to get up at 4am for a 6am start, while she would get a nice sleep-in for the very civilised 10am start for the 24 hour. I then fast-forwarded to 4am Sunday, when I would be fast asleep in bed (hopefully) and she would still be going! So 4am on Saturday suddenly didn’t seem so bad!
There’s a theory – go in with low expectations and you won’t be disappointed.
I used this theory with some success on Thursday night when I went to see the recent three-peat premiership winning but now cellar-dwelling Hawks take on the top-of-the-table Crows at the Adelaide Oval. I was not particularly confident but hoping for a good contest. Against all odds (unbelievably paying $7.50 in a 2 horse race!) the Hawks managed to pull off a miracle win!
I don’t often subscribe to this theory in running events. If I don’t expect to do well, I generally don’t run. (As evidenced by my recent ‘wussing out’ of the Mt Misery race, and to a lesser extent, the Cleland 50k).
This weekend was different. I’d been running laps around the 6 hour event course for the past 3 weeks, and it was time for a break from the monotony! Never mind that I have done next to no hills training (Sturt Gorge 6 weeks ago was probably the last time I ran any kind of trail).
But, it WAS an excuse for a weekend away with friends, so it was with little hesitation that I signed up for the 21.1km.
The course was a 10.5km loop, with the options being 1, 2 or 4 loops. The mathematicians among you may have worked out that 4 loops = a marathon. This was the first year that the Tower Trail Run included a marathon.
With running buddies Karen, Daryl and Wendy, I hit the road at reasonable o’clock on Friday for the drive to Mt Gambier. The journey was uneventful but I did insist on a rest stop at Coonawarra, which just happens to be one of Australia’s leading Cabernet Sauvignon regions. So, naturally there was some wine tasting (and subsequent purchasing) on the cards! Majella was our hydration stop and let’s just say it’s a good thing Karen and Daryl have an SUV with a big boot!
Our AirBNB accommodation was in a great location – before we headed out for dinner, we went for a walk to the parkrun start location where we’d be heading the following morning, and were pleased to find it was only an easy 7 minute walk away! (As it turned out, it was also walking distance to the Tower Trail Run start!)
The accommodation was nice – although my room was what appeared to be the back porch before an extension was built. It had no door (a doorway, but no door), it was a through room to the laundry, and there was a (frosted glass) window just above my bed, on the other side of which was the bathroom!
On Saturday morning we walked to parkrun and it seemed like half of Adelaide was there, including my Boston buddy Maree who happened to be in town for a party!
It was my second time doing Mt Gambier parkrun so it held no surprises for me (Maree was also a ‘veteran’) although I had forgotten that the first climb is practically right at the start!
The last time I’d been here was in December when the famous Blue Lake was at its picturesque blue best, and was constantly distracted by its beauty during the run! Now, it was more of a slate grey but I was still distracted, thanks to an amazing rainbow which seemed to end in the lake – I would have stopped and taken a photo had I brought my phone with me!
I ran most of it with Andy, one of the guys from SRG (Adelaide’s Southern Running Group), until he took off at the end – a few of the guys who had already finished were egging me on to chase him but I was ‘supposed’ to be taking it easy so I declined. Turned out he was just trying to get under 25 minutes, which he did, as did I. And Maree was first female!
As per tradition we gathered at the fantastic Metro Cafe and Bakery for coffee and some pretty spectacular looking cakes!
We ended up booking in there for dinner as well, as they have a good vegan-friendly menu.
In the afternoon we headed to check out Mt Schank. You can hike down to the bottom but we decided to save that for AFTER the run! The weather was pretty perfect on Saturday afternoon, though!
I had an email from our AirBNB host, checking if everything was OK. I asked if there were any spare blankets, as it had been a little cold on Friday night. Later that afternoon she turned up unexpectedly with 3 brand new faux mink blankets which were much appreciated!
Sunday morning was chilly but fortunately there was no rain at that stage, so we were able to walk to the start/finish line. We were all doing the half marathon which had a very civilised start time of 8:30! The marathon had started at 7, just before it got light.
My pre-race preparation was nothing out of the ordinary other than a fair bit of angst and swearing while trying to put on my new gaiters – this would be my first time ever using gaiters. I had brought a singlet, T-shirt and long sleeved top with me, so I could decide on the morning what would be best. In the end I went with the T-shirt and arm warmers, as well as gloves. Sunnies did not look like they would be needed but I thought it best to take them just in case. Ditto with my cap, which would also keep rain (which was forecast) out of my eyes!
With plenty of time to spare we made the short walk to the large permanent concrete shelter that served as the start/finish area. It was the ideal spot, with plenty of parking nearby, several permanent toilets (as well as portaloos!) and ample shelter. And the obligatory coffee van, which I was looking forward to patronising after the race!
We got to see most of the marathoners coming past during the time we waited for our start. There were plenty of familiar faces among them, including Mick and Howard at the pointy end! Howard’s partner and support crew Pauline had kindly offered to look after our bags for us while we ran!
I ran with my small race vest and 500ml of Gatorade – I probably could have got by without anything but I like to be able to keep going without needing to stop at drink stations. Having the vest also allowed me to carry a light rain jacket just in case. With minimal weight in the pack it felt like wearing ‘Nothing at all!’
We got started at 8.30 and very quickly we were running uphill. The race started on road, and a few of the marathoners passed us coming back the other way. One of them was Graham, who has a very distinctive running style. We greeted each other, and he said he could spot me from a mile away – I replied ‘I could say the same about you!’
At first I was running with Glen, one of the SRG runners, but it wasn’t long before he was ahead of me. I intentionally started conservatively. I had not much idea of what to expect, having not studied the course beforehand. I just didn’t see much point!
The course was interesting, challenging and scenic. Being 2 laps, I used the first lap as a bit of a ‘reccy’. Quite early on I saw Sputnik, who took a pic of me and said “There’s one for your blog!” to which I replied that I was looking for suitable selfie spots on the first lap, then I’d actually take photos second time around!
There were stairs, which I quickly realised I was better off walking up rather than trying to run. Alongside the stairs I’d generally find a well-worn mud track, which I figured out was sometimes easier to walk or jog up than the uneven stairs.
There were also some nice downhill bits – some nice wide flat dirt track which I could fly down, and others that were a bit treacherous with moss and tree roots, and I had to exercise caution.
And of course there were uphills – some short and sharp and some longer but not too steep, both of which I would try to run up. The longer steep hills I wouldn’t even attempt to run.
I kept my gloves on until about 6km in, and during one of the long steep climbs I had time to take off my pack and put them in there, to save having to carry them. Another reason why the pack was worth having!
The course was impeccably marked. I could always see the pink tape in the trees or on the fence to signify that I was on the right track. And there were arrows and ‘Wrong Way’ X signs wherever there might be some ambiguity. This was particularly helpful on my second lap, especially just after passing the start/finish line where Nikki, one of the awesome Race Directors along with husband Phil who also happens to be the man behind Mt Gambier parkrun, was announcing all the runners as they passed by – a lovely touch! As I started my second lap I was on my own, and the route I’d run just over an hour earlier now felt unfamiliar! I was a bit confused when I started to see half marathoners as well as marathoners coming back the other way – I hadn’t recalled that on the first lap, but the pink tape let me know I was on the right track!
There were plenty of marshals out there as well as frequent drink stations – a very well supported event! FABULOUS volunteers and in a lovely touch, they all got medals too, with special ‘VOLUNTEER’ ribbons.
I had gone in with no real expectations and not really even a time goal, although it’s funny how these things change when you cross the start line! Initially I had said ‘sub 3 hours’ as a conservative goal. However, cutoff time for the half was 3 hours 50 – I would normally be WELL under cutoff time so I thought maybe 3 hours was a bit TOO conservative! I had 2.5 hours in my mind but, not knowing the course and knowing that going up hills is definitely a weakness, I wasn’t sure how realistic that was. I ran the first lap without exerting myself TOO much, knowing I had to do it all over again. I only occasionally looked at my watch, mainly to see how much further I had to go, not so much to look at time or pace. I had forgotten to turn off my pace alerts from training – consequently my watch was beeping at me every time I went under 5:30 and over 6:00 minutes per kilometre (which was often!)
I was pleasantly surprised to reach the halfway mark in just over 1 hour 10 minutes. That gave me roughly a 10 minute buffer for the second lap to still run 2:30. I was expecting to run the second lap slower but not 10 minutes slower, so I was pretty confident.
I wasn’t racing anyone else, although every time I passed another woman I did try to sneak a look at her bib colour. There was one girl ahead of me for quite a long time who I eventually passed going up a hill on lap 2 – after I passed her I noted she was a half marathoner but actually I was thinking more of an age group placing than an overall placing! I was one of 7 in my age group so I was hoping for a top 3 placing there. As far as I could tell, an overall podium finish was out of the question!
Not long into lap 2 I was passed by Mick, the eventual winner of the marathon, on his final lap. He was well ahead of Howard who ended up finishing second, and in fact Mick was the only marathoner who passed me. He called out to me before he passed me – he must have recognised me from my signature striped arm warmers – and congratulated me on Boston before flying off into the distance! Well, actually I kept him in sight for a time, and was heartened to see him walking up one of the steep hills, but by the time I got to the top of the hill and back on the flat, he was long gone!
One of my favourite bits was a downhill section that was all stairs. A few people I encountered on the second lap were having knee and calf issues which were aggravated by the downhill (and down stair) sections, but I was able to get into a good rhythm, and the evenness of the stairs meant that, even though I was being a bit cautious (it had been raining on my second lap, so everything was a bit more slippery), I could get up some decent speed. There was even a photographer at the bottom of the stairs who would have got some great shots! (I made sure I gave my nose a quick wipe with my sleeve before getting to him on the second lap – didn’t want any errant boogers ruining my race photos! Although, when I said that to the photographer, he jokingly replied “That’s what Photoshop is for!”)
Speaking of race photos, I had decided that on my second lap I would stop for a quick selfie at the Centenary Tower, after which the race was named. However, as it turned out, I didn’t need to, as a photographer had been posted there! He was asking everyone to stop for a couple of photos – given that it was at the end of a fairly long climb, I wasn’t exactly moving that fast anyway, so stopping was not an issue – I think he got some great shots too!
It was all (mostly) downhill from there. I started passing a lot of 10k run/walkers and some marathoners too. With only 1k or so to go, I caught up with Glen who informed me that he thought I was in 6th or 7th place. I decided to go for it in that last kilometre and once I reached the 2 girls with the cowbells (who really added hugely to the atmosphere – thanks girls!) I picked up the pace and (politely of course) passed everyone I could, including one familiar face in Ros, who was in the 10k event.
Before too long I could hear the finish line festivities and knew I was nearly there! Up ahead I saw a familiar figure in Graham. I realised I would need to pass him so snuck past him to keep my momentum going. He realised who it was and he wasn’t having any of that, so he picked up the pace and practically sprinted past me to the finish line and into the aid station, me giving chase but unable to catch him! After receiving my awesome medal, I went to jokingly have a go at him for making me sprint, and was gobsmacked when he told me he still had a lap to go! I had assumed he was finished!
A little later, his partner Vivienne told me she’d seen him a little further up the road and he’d said he was regretting the sprint finish! I was looking forward to exacting some ‘revenge’ when he came back on his final lap!
I had finished in just over 2 hours 20. In fact, when I later checked my results, I had managed a marginal negative split by around 16 seconds (I guess, in part, I have Graham to thank for that!) – well beyond expectations! I ended up in 5th place out of the women – less than 5 seconds behind 4th (thanks again to Graham!) and less than 2 minutes behind 3rd place! And I did manage to place first in my age group too – all of that was just a bonus. More importantly I had a most enjoyable run, got out of it unscathed and did a surprisingly good time considering my lack of recent trail running! I had started to think I just wasn’t cut out for trail running, even though I really enjoy it! I don’t imagine I’ll ever be a podium contender but to be able to go out there and do reasonably well and enjoy every minute is encouraging!
I’d only drunk one of my two Gatorade bottles during the race (250ml in total) so I finished that off after having annihilated a can of Coke and a long black – then I eagerly devoured the nut bar I’d brought with me! (I’d been thinking about the nut bar from about halfway through the race but when I finished, all I could think about was Coke and coffee!)
Not long after that Karen and then Wendy finished, both happy with their runs – both under 3 hours. Daryl was still out there and unfortunately got caught up in a pretty heavy shower! Eventually we saw him coming in the distance and gave him a great reception as he finished! Not long before Daryl, Kristy crossed the line, also to a great cheer, and she was also very happy with how she went!
I decided to head along the course to meet up with Graham, being careful not to go near any of the timing equipment, given that I was still wearing my race bib! It wasn’t long before I saw him coming, quickly passing my bib to the marshal to look after for a minute, before chasing Graham to the finish!
We were all getting pretty cold by then so headed back to the house to get into some warm clothes and defrost! And of course, eat all of the things!
Unlike most of the Adelaide people we opted to stay another night in the Mount and have a leisurely drive back on Monday – including another winery stop of course – this time at Wynn’s!
On Sunday afternoon we went for a drive to Port Macdonnell for chips by the sea while watching kiteboarders. Karen and I had a disagreement about feeding chips to the circling seagulls (she was pro, I was very anti, and of course I was right!) before heading back to town for the perfect recovery meal, takeaway from Gourmet India and red bubbles from Majella!
It was a fantastic weekend all around – and just a wonderful, scenic, friendly and enjoyable event. I hope to be back again to do it all again next year and would recommend it to anyone who loves trail running! I won’t do the marathon – 4 laps of that course is just not for me, but I would absolutely do the half again!
Congratulations and thanks again to Phil, Nikki and all the amazing volunteers for making it all possible!
This week, we go back to where it all (ie this blog) began!
2 years ago I ran the Barossa Marathon and wrote a little report about it, which I posted on my Facebook page. The positive feedback I received about this report (in some cases from people I hadn’t even met before) in the subsequent days, led me to create ‘Random Thoughts and Race Reports’ and I guess you could say the rest is history!
I am in the process of creating a new blog which I’ll share when I’ve finished playing around with some of the formatting (amid much swearing, at times!)
Anyway, back to Barossa. Some months ago, knowing that it was 6 weeks after Boston and 2 weeks after I got back to Australia, I volunteered to do the 2 hour pacing gig for the half marathon. I figured, I wasn’t really going to be in ‘race shape’ and I find pacing really enjoyable and rewarding, so it would be a great way to be involved!
Up until last weekend, I hadn’t run 21.1km since Boston, so I was actually a bit unsure if I could even run a sub 2 hour half, let alone pace one! So I went out and ran about 10 laps of the Uni Loop (2.2km) and came in about 4 minutes under the 2 hours. I wasn’t trying to push hard but by the same token I wasn’t trying to run ‘slow’. I was just running at the pace I was comfortable with. So that pretty much confirmed to me that I could do the pacer gig!
Ideally you want to be able to run about 15 minutes faster than the time you’re pacing. I don’t think I could run 1:45 at the moment but I was definitely confident I had this!
I bought a new costume to run in – ostensibly to make me easier to spot for those trying to run with me, but just quietly because I kind of enjoy dressing up in wacky outfits! This one was a psychedelic hippie dress, complete with belt and headband. I even found a pair of sunglasses which were left at my house a few years ago but never claimed, that fit the outfit perfectly – and my yellow Boston calf sleeves were a perfect match! Underneath was another brand new item, my new 2XU compression shorts.
The weather wasn’t looking too good! There was a lot of rain overnight (both at home in Adelaide and up in the Barossa) and more rain forecast for race day. I was not looking forward to the idea of running in the rain – mostly for the reason that it would slow me down, and I couldn’t really afford to lose too much speed!
I went up with Beck, who wasn’t running this year due to injury but was still happy to go up and cheer! She picked me up at 5:45am so we would get to Tanunda in time to see the start of the marathon at 7. (The half didn’t start until 7:45)
Fortunately, although it was cold (and colder when we got to Tanunda), the rain appeared to be holding off.
We made it with minutes to spare – just enough time to wish the marathoners all the best and see them set off! (One thing I like about Barossa and Adelaide as opposed to some of the larger marathons, is that, as spectators, we could actually get into the starting area literally minutes before the start!)
The next 45 minutes went very quickly – just enough time to collect my bib and pacer balloons, stand in a lengthy toilet queue, then attempt a contortionist routine in trying to change out of my warm multiple layers and into my race ‘kit’ within the confines of a small toilet cubicle. Once that was done it was pretty much time to go to the start line! Luckily I had Beck there to take my bags as I probably would not have had time to getto the baggage tent!
I was one of 3 pacers in the half. We had Bryn doing 1:30 (his first pacer gig) and Jim 1:45 (Jim’s a veteran pacer and pretty much has the 1:45 slot sewn up!) with me doing my favourite, 2:00. I wasn’t sure exactly where to stand, as I couldn’t see Jim. In the end I just chose a spot well behind Bryn, and behind a few people I knew were planning to run sub-2. It didn’t really matter that much – 21.1km gives plenty of time to sort out pace and position!
(As it turned out, Jim wasn’t there – he actually missed the start due to bib issues, and went flying past me a little while after the start! He did eventually catch up to the 1:45 group and expertly paced them to the finish!)
I started my watch on the gun, rather than as I crossed the line. That way, if I crossed the line in 2:00 exactly on the clock, everyone who was with me would get under 2 hours, regardless of whether they started in front of me or behind me. (That was a lesson I learned during my very first pacing gig!)
For those who aren’t familiar, the role of a pacer is to run as close as possible to a specified time, and people who want to run that time (or thereabouts) just need to stick with the pacer and don’t need to worry about their own pace. It is particularly useful for runners who don’t use a GPS watch. As a pacer, there is definitely a bit of pressure but it’s also really enjoyable and rewarding to see your pace group achieve their goals.
I know I’m going to forget some people so apologies if I do! There were a lot of runners either with me or just ahead of me. Michelle was trying to stick with me as long as possible but her main goal was a sub 2:15 to qualify for Wonderland trail run. Eventually she dropped off my ‘bus’ but she got in well under her goal time! Regular running buddy Nat was with me for a while and ended up finishing just a few minutes behind me, saying that she really enjoyed the run.
Sally thought she would be running just ahead of me but ended up smashing out a huge PB and on top of that won 2 bottles of wine in the random prize draw!
Others running ahead of me included Gary (different Gary from the one we’d seen off in the marathon!), Victoria, Ali and Peter. There were definitely a few PBs among that lot – they didn’t need any pacing help from me!
With me pretty much from the start were Brianna, fresh off a PB at the Paris Marathon, and first time half marathoner Kathryn from Brisbane (who was unaccustomed to the cold weather that we turned on for her!) Brianna was hoping to go sub 2 but hadn’t run that far since Paris, and Kathryn was just hoping to stick with me as long as possible – she’d done a half distance in training, in about 2:10.
Due to the staggering of the start times for the marathon, half, 10k and 5k, there were never any issues with congestion. We didn’t see the 5k or 10k runners at all (in fact, I never even saw race ambassador Jess Trengove, who won the 10k race) but we did get to see the marathoners on multiple occasions, and due to the ‘out and back’ sections we also got to see all the half marathoners (over 500 finishers!) – from the leaders all the way to the back of the pack!
Pace-wise it took me about 3km to hit my goal pace of 5:37 – 5:38 mins per km. I found Barossa the easiest out of all the halves I’ve paced – due to the flat nature of the course and the favourable weather conditions. Once I hit my pace I managed to hold onto it. Towards the end I did a few calculations so I would come in JUST under the 2 hours, so I did need to slow down just a touch!
I think with about 5km to go, Brianna took off but Kathryn was still with me! She was determined to stick with me until 16km, then it would be ‘just a parkrun to go!’ Personally I don’t find that comparison super helpful but it certainly works for a lot of people!
Eventually we reached the ‘parkrun turnaround mark’ (2.5km to go) and it became apparent that Kathryn was going to get under 2 hours! It was kind of like a proud mother bird moment for me when she took off with around 1km to go – I had to hold onto my pace so couldn’t go with her but I was thinking ‘Fly, my pretties!’ as each runner left my ‘nest’!
There were a few other runners around me who were looking good for sub 2 – some just in front and some just behind. One guy, Gerard, had not long given up smoking and was on track for a PB (and finished just seconds behind me) and regular running buddy Deb was ahead of me for a good portion of the race, but stuck with me after I passed her, and also came in under 2 hours. Another girl, whose name I didn’t get but who was wearing a Step Into Life top and not wearing a watch, was also hoping for a sub 2 and I’m not sure if she finished ahead of me or behind me but she came up to me afterwards and told me she got the sub-2! And then there was another regular running buddy Fiona, who was determined not to let me pass her (jokingly telling me I was going too fast) and ended up finishing about half a minute ahead of me.
I crossed the line with 1:59:42 on the clock. My official time was 1:59:18 which I was pleased with!
And the timing was perfect because not 5 minutes after I finished, the heavens opened! Unfortunately that meant missing the presentations for the 5, 10 and 21.1k as I hightailed it back to Beck’s car to get changed into some warm, dry clothes and then head back to see our friends finish the marathon!
There was a large group of runners around the 3:30 pacer (I think the only pacer in the marathon) including Coralie, Rebecca and Jenny. Not long after that were Carrie, Amanda and Leon (doing his 347th marathon for the year, by my calculation!) with a small gap to my 2015 Barossa running buddy Kay and fellow 2017 Boston Marathon finisher Graham! Then came a few more familiar faces, Peter and Dave, but for me the best moment of the day was seeing Gary finish.
Gary’s daughter Tahlia had run the 10k, and as I approached the end of my half, I saw Tahlia running back to meet her dad. We waited what seemed like ages at the finish (but it wasn’t actually that long – we were just cold and in need of wine!) until we saw Mark, who had been running with Gary when I’d last seen them, so we knew Gary couldn’t be far behind! And sure enough, around 30 seconds later, there was that distinctive purple T-shirt! We gave Gary a huge cheer and I think he might have been a bit fired up (after pretty much crawling across the finish line in his first marathon at Adelaide last year, he had, as he put it, ‘some running demons to vanquish’) and was yelling and cheering and high fiving! It was definitely a highlight for me and I’m sure it was a very special moment for Gary and Tahlia!
As we were getting cold and Beck had post-wine family commitments, we left pretty much straight after Gary finished, for a well earned wine tasting at Hentley Farm (I tasted 9 wines and liked them all – unfortunately the budget would only stretch to one bottle – I went with a Grenache Shiraz Zinfandel, mainly because I’ve never tried or even seen that blend before!
So once again, SARRC have put on another excellent event – the weather wasn’t kind to everyone (the marathoners and some of the half marathoners behind me certainly copped it a lot worse than I did) but it was ideal running weather for me, the volunteers were fabulous as always, the spectators were great, and my fellow runners were always friendly and supportive!
Thanks to everyone involved in making this such a great day! And especially to Beck for chauffeuring me – I owe you one!
I describe my recent USA holiday as ‘epic’ but as we know, that word is thrown around waaaay too much. It was amazingly fun, and action-packed, but epic? Probably not. I don’t think the tale of my month in the States will be handed down from generation to generation, somehow!
I do want to do something proper epic though, one day. The idea of running from one city to another has definitely entered my mind (Melbourne to Adelaide maybe? Mount Gambier to Adelaide?) and with the right support, could happen! (Actually with a good group of people it could be a lot of fun!)
One race that I would LOVE to be able to do, but which is WAY beyond me at the moment (never say never, but I can’t see it happening anytime soon!) is Coast2Kosci – about 240km from the coast at Eden to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, the highest point in Australia. I’m not particularly interested in mega long races (although I do want to tick off a 100 miler one day) but this one appeals to me greatly.
Maybe not so much ‘epic’ but something that would take a lot of work, would be the ‘Not The Adelaide Cup’ human races (as opposed to horse races) – pretty much all the fun of a day at the races but with humans racing instead of horses. That WILL happen one day!
I don’t have to look far to see actual epic adventures. I just have to go down my Facebook news feed and I thought this week I might highlight a few friends who have done (or are in the process of doing) freaking amazing stuff!
First cab off the rank, being freshest in the mind, was David Turnbull’s record-breaking run which ended last Wednesday night – the entire Heysen Trail, just under 1200km of it, from north to south in 13 days 16 hours and 16 minutes – breaking the previous record by a massive 16 hours!
I first met DT after The North Face 100 (now Ultra-Trail Australia 100) 2 years ago. He did brilliantly that day and made a good first impression on me by buying a bottle of wine for fellow ultra running legend Andrew, Andrew’s wife and crew Lara, and myself!
We’ve shared the track a few times since then – I got to watch him smash out 130+ km in the Adelaide 12 hour event in 2015 while I was running around in circles for 6 hours, and we were both winners in the 100km state track championships earlier this year (although he was long gone by the time I eventually finished!).
I was fortunate enough, along with fellow trail runners Tina and Ryley, to be able to join DT for a very short section of the trail (around 4km!) last Monday, and was amazed at how well he was travelling, despite the fact that he was approaching 900km at that stage! On a few occasions he would start running up a hill, and I’d be thinking, “Are you kidding? I’m not going to be able to keep up with a guy who’s run almost 1000km?” but then after a few steps he’d be walking again and Tina and I would be able to catch up!
DT was posting his location on his Facebook page every hour or so, which allowed people to find him and run with him for a bit – if they could keep up! It was a privilege to be able to share a small part of what turned out to be a FKT (Fastest Known Time) and a real eye-opener to see what goes into these audacious (and in this case ultimately successful) attempts! I believe there will be some kind of book about this and I really look forward to reading it!
Still in progress is another massive undertaking, The Million Dollar Run. This is a 3000km run from Adelaide to Brisbane to raise $1m for DEBRA Australia. I first met Andrew in December 2015 at a birthday run for fellow runner Barry, 6 hours around the 2.2km Uni Loop, sounds like fun, right? Well I only did 5 laps that day (my excuses being that it was a stinking hot day and plus I had to go to work!) but Andrew completed his first marathon and as I recall in not too shabby a time! The Million Dollar Run was already on the cards then, but it’s taken a while for it to actually happen! At the time of writing he’s pretty close to Melbourne! Amazing stuff!
Finally for this week we have School of the Road – last year, fellow runner Travis, Fiona and their son Patch, who has autism, embarked on a truly epic adventure, cycling from Washington State to Washington DC, around 5000km, an absolutely amazing and inspiring journey, showing, as they said, that ‘anything is possible’!
So there you have it, 3 inspirational people doing amazing things for very worthy causes! Hopefully I will be able to come even remotely close to such epicness one day!