The lead up to this race wasn’t very good due to injury. I’d been getting acupuncture treatment which helped a bit, but all that work was undone in the actual race.
I went in confident I could handle any conditions. I wore my Inov-8 Talon 190 shoes that enable me to run through ankle deep mud and grip the trail like nothing else. I noticed a few other people wear them too. I also knew I could handle any wild weather as I have been training in crap weather over the past few months and got used to it. All the mandatory gear could be packed in my small Nathan pack and I was very happy not to carry a big pack like so many others out there.
The day before I worked out what was the slowest possible pace I could do while making the cut off times. It seemed I could even do better than “just make it” so I aimed to have a 30-60 minute buffer on each cut off time.
The run started at 6:15am and the weather was perfectly mild. The start is very flat so everyone was off to a cracking start, I hung on near the back of the pack quite well and my ankle warmed up after 5 minutes so I felt quite comfortable and confident.
There was quite a bit of mud in the first section, but nothing like last year. I was so happy to be wearing the most awesome shoes ever that enabled me to be confident and not slip at all. When the mud was super deep I just walked so my shoes would not get sucked off but I was able to keep moving about a million times better than last year.
I made it to the first checkpoint at Blanket Bay spot on for my slow pace, about 45 minutes before the cut off time. My legs felt good and I only had the occasional twinge from my ankle. I stocked up on food and head off again happily.
Unfortunately things started to come undone here. The softer sandy beach and trail sections wreaked havoc with my ankle and I could no longer run on any flat sections. I managed some hobbling where the left leg would run, and the right leg would drag along but it was getting uncomfortable. At times it rained heavily and it was very cold while not running.
At Cape Otway Lighthouse the trail became very runnable – if there wasn’t anything wrong with my ankle. I just couldn’t manage it. I walked as fast as I could on the ups and the flats, and jogged the downhills. There was one tree that had fallen down and there was no way around it. I found myself on all fours crawling through the branches.
I thought I was coming dead last the whole time but 2 people overtook me here. I was surprised! But soon enough the sweepers caught up with me. They backed off a bit so I didn’t feel rushed and I made it into Checkpoint 2 at Aire River with 20 minutes to spare, briefly catching up to the other 2 that had passed me. I stocked up on food and water, happy I’d made another cut off time.
There were 3 hours to get to Johanna Beach, just 13km away. I thought even if I have to walk it, I should still make it. This section was gently undulating and the most runnable section in the first half of the course. Unfortunately because there were no steep downhills, and the sandy surface had well and truly ruined my ankle, I had to walk most of this. It was even hard to walk some parts and my right ankle just wasn’t functioning as it is supposed to. I was devastated. I knew my time was up and I would not make it to the next checkpoint in time.
When I hit Johanna Beach the sweepers caught up to me and they joined me for the 2km strip of soft sand. We walked and talked, occasionally wetting our feet in the ocean. The ocean is so powerful and it just roars constantly. This is a lovely beach, but I wouldn’t want to be caught in the water! There was one river crossing at the end of the beach before hitting the dirt road to the next checkpoint. I was about 20 minutes too late. My leg muscles felt fairly fresh but that was it for me.
It was such a shame to not finish this course AGAIN. I was so upset at my stupid ankle. I was also annoyed at myself for even thinking I could do this with an injury. I know that if I was injury free, I wouldn’t even have to train more than I do now and I could finish this damn race! This is so annoying because now I have to go back again next year and do it again!
I came up with a plan this week to see my old physio and get him to fix me. Unfortunately he’s not practising any more so I am still trying to get a good recommendation but no one knows anyone as good as him. I would continue with acupuncture but it is very expensive and hurts so much I can’t face going back just yet. We’ll see what happens, but I will fix my ankle and I will be back. Meanwhile, I have a strongman competition in a couple of weeks to train for.