Category Archives: Adizero PRO

Bruny Island Ultra 64km – 2010

Yesterday was my 3rd Bruny Island Ultra. They really don’t get any easier! Bruny Island is a small island not far from Hobart. It has a pub, a cheese factory, some shacks, lots of sheep and that’s about it! There is a new cafe at Dennes Point that looks really nice so even though I didn’t eat there, I do recommend checking it out if you’re down that way.

The trick about this race is you can start at any time you like, but you have to time it so you finish between 12:30 and 2:30pm. Then you have time to drive back to the pub for presentations at 3pm.

This year we decided to stay close to the start line at Dennes Point to maximise sleep time and minimise the early morning shock to the system. We were about 100m from the start line so after a good night’s sleep, I got up around 5am, had an avocado for breaky and walked to the start line for my nominated 5:30am start.

It was pretty warm, maybe around 20 degrees and muggy, with fog rolling in along the water.

There seemed to be quite a few of us suckers regulars who keep showing up each year. Davo and Chris were already there, but I was starting by myself at 5:30 while they were a bit after me.

The first 2km are steep uphill, but since I still haven’t wisened up to good ultra running technique I ran it since I had the energy. Once I got to the top I was greeted with a perfect sunrise over the water. This first part of the race is my favourite. It consists of lovely rolling hills and views of the water at sunrise. It’s very quiet at that time as not many other runners have started and the relay teams are a long way off starting. It’s just like going on a beautiful long run in the country with just yourself and the sheep. Every now and then a car would drive past and the driver would wave or offer words of encouragement.

Dad and J were meeting me every 8km for the first few bits and I was a bit ahead of schedule, which made a good change from my usual slow plod. Their mobile kitchen had my oranges, strawberries and dad’s homemade boysenberry cordial.

About 20kms into the race the road flattens out, you lose the scenery and I find it a real mental struggle to keep going. It was getting pretty warm, my lumbar spine was tiring from carrying my camelbak and I was questioning my sanity. What was I doing running ultras when I only run once or twice a week in training and don’t do any long runs?

From about here on Dad and J stopped more often. I didn’t need anything – I was just looking for an excuse to stop. In hindsight I was really stopping too often as it did slow me down, but I have always found this middle flat section draining. I was also eating too much and was having difficulty digesting it all on the run. I told myself at the first hill I got to, I could take a walk break. This was at the 32km mark, which is half way. This was great as it signaled the start of more undulating terrain, which I am much better at. The scenery also improved and I could see the rolling hills, horsies and sheepies.

There is a nice downhill section into Alonnah to the pub and I knew from here things could only get better. More runners were out and about now. The relay teams were out and spurring me on. And some more solo runners were out and passing me.

I was really getting hot and could feel I was getting sunburnt. Whenever I met up with dad and J I took the opportunity to pour water on my head to cool down. I was also really craving an icy pole.

At about the 40km mark there are more uphills. Previously I had found these difficult as my legs got sore and tired but this time, due to my weight training, my legs were feeling great. A couple of weeks ago a hit a 100kg deadlift and this strength was making running so much easier. All I have to do in future is run more to get some speed back. My achilles wasn’t even giving me much grief. When it did, I concentrated on relaxing my feet on landing (as I tell my clients, but this is the first time I’ve taken my own advice) and then the pain would disappear! Magic!

Although I was walking up a fair chunk of the hills from here on, my legs really were feeling fine. The soles of my feet were a little sore and fatigued from wearing flats (Adizero PRO, which are ripped but I keep forgetting to duct tape up), but generally I was feeling pretty good. I knew that if I just kept my heart rate low I could keep going forever.

Once I realised there were only 18km left I regained some energy and started to feel good about the run again. The weather was starting to cool down and the wind picked up. Most people would probably not like this but it was such a relief to me as I much prefer to run in the cold than the heat.

At the 14km-to-go mark I left my cambelbak in the car and took sips of water every 2km when dad and J stopped for me. Dad said if I ran fast enough I’d beat the wind and the rain. That was enough for me! The relay teams were cheering, cars were tooting their horns and I could feel the finish. It was mostly uphill from here but it seemed much easier than my previous two times here. I was able to really give it a good go on the downhill bits and I even managed to pass a couple of other slower solo runners.

Someone gave me a boost at the end by pacing me to the bottom of the final steep hill. Thanks so much for that! It was such a boost and it gave me the confidence to run the whole way up the steep hill and steps to the top of the lighthouse. I yelled at people “RUNNER ON THE RIGHT!!” so I didn’t have to stop and made it to the top of the lighthouse before feeling the need to puke. Fortunately I checked myself before I made a mess of things! I made it just under 8 hours 30 mins. Not sure exactly as my watch wasn’t exact and official results aren’t up yet.

Up until here my legs were feeling great but once the run was over my legs knew time was up and I could only manage a hobble back down the hill to the car.

I made dad stop off at a shop for an icy pole on the way to the pub. Presentations at the pub were great, with lots of fantastic free food on offer. I think this was the largest field yet with around 60 teams and 28 solo runners. All us solo runners got a $20 gift voucher for The Running Edge so I’ve left that in Hobart and will give dad a few ideas to spend it for me.

This is such a great friendly run. I think I will need to be back as I’ve got the leg strength, but I need to work on my pace to see how much faster I can do it.

First trail DNF

On Friday afternoon we drove down to Apollo Bay for the GOW100km. I was so nervous and excited, I was totally ready to smash my previous time.

Not far from Lorne, there was a landslide on the Great Ocean Road. Huge boulders covered the road and no one could get through. I said to A, “Is this a bad omen? A sign of things to come?” It was already late afternoon and I was stressing about our accommodation and race check in, which needed to be done by 6:30pm. Not only that, but the race briefing was due to start at 6:30 and I’d miss getting my drop bags in on time! My phone had no reception so I couldn’t even call anyone to say we’re running late! I checked the map and we could go back to Lorne and take an inland route. It looked like a long detour and our trip to Apollo Bay could end up being for nothing.

My phone had reception at Lorne so I called the hotel to say we were checking in late and they said they’d leave the key out for us in case they were no longer around. My phone received a message from Brett alerting us to the Great Ocean Road blockage – it had been sent over an hour earlier! So I called him to say we’re way late, but it was cool, they were allowing later registrations and the race briefing would start later. Phew!

The inland route turned out to be smooth sailing and not too long. As we got closer to rejoining the Great Ocean Road, suddenly there was a long queue of cars that had come to a stop. What now? After a while we started moving and passed another landslide that had just been cleared.

Finally we made it to the hotel then quickly scooted over to the pub where I checked in, got my drop bags sorted, and had the mandatory gear check (where I can’t believe one guy next to me had zero mandatory gear. What an idiot). The race briefing was over dinner and we were told of someone who had to be air lifted out the previous night. We were warned that there was plenty of mud on the course, river crossings were higher than usual, not to hold onto some trees as they may fall, and there is a hole in the ground where a tree had recently fallen out so careful not to fall in. Safety first.

After a night of tossing and turning I wandered back to the pub with a handful of diced coconut for breakfast for the 5:45am check in. I gotta say, this was such a nice touch to do the roll call at the pub. Thanks Andy + Brett for organising this. The pub opened up at 5:30am to let runners in and serve coffee! Just brilliant!

We gathered round the anchor over the road for the start and it was cold, windy and raining. Soon enough we were off and running. The first part of the course is quite exposed, over grassland and beach. The wind was blowing me sideways, I had to tighten my cap to stop it blowing off my head, and I couldn’t wait to get to the sheltered inland. It is so much nicer not being hailed on.

I saw some footprints in the sand and mud that belonged to a pair of Five Fingers. Well done to whoever that was! I hope you had a great run!

The ground was so muddy. I know we were warned about it and I knew it would be muddy but muddy doesn’t even come close to describing it. Running on the soft sand was much easier than sliding around in the mud. My glutes and hamstrings were feeling it just trying to keep myself upright. It took me 90 minutes to travel 10km. I then calculated at that rate I could finish in 15 hours. Maybe 17 to allow for fatigue.

There is a little 5km loop that the 100km runners do to get the distance up. This was quite slushy but not too slippery and I was actually able to run again. As part of this loop there is a river crossing we have to go through twice. It was about knee deep and icey cold. It cleaned the mud off my shoes though.

The rest of the run was a mix of me running through mud, walking through mud, having my shoes ripped off by the mud and skiing down the muddy slopes. At times it was shin deep and there were a few puddles that were knee deep.

There were some points along the way where some people just went running past me. How is it possible they can run through this? I could barely keep myself upright! Obviously I never train in the mud!

I checked my watch and noted I had 1 hour to cover the 8km left to get to checkpoint 1 at Blanket Bay before cut off. Not a chance I would make it. I thought I was dead last and every time I heard someone from behind I expected it to be David sweeping me, but each time it was a runner running through the mud. Why were they only picking up speed now? And why weren’t they slipping and sliding like me? Why couldn’t I run like that through the mud? I tried to pick up pace a few times but it usually resulted in me going for a little ski. If I had a sled I could could’ve done it.

A said he would surprise me and meet me at some checkpoints along the way for moral support. I hoped he was coming to checkpoint 1.

Blanket Bay was at around the 26km mark and I was about 15 mins late. 3 others also didn’t make it in time. It was so disappointing because physically and mentally I was feeling strong and fresh. A quarter of the way through and I felt great.

A was planning to meet me at checkpoint 2 rather than here, but fortunately a kind volunteer drove us back to Apollo Bay. I think we were all feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. This nice volunteer stopped along the way to show us the Manna gums where the koalas like to hang out. He pointed out some koalas and soon enough we were spotting heaps of koalas sleeping in the trees. Well at least something good came of the morning.

After spending ages in the shower (it was perfect without a water saving head) scrubbing the mud off my legs, we took a drive through the wind, rain and hail to the 12 Apostles. It was so wild there. The rain was horizontal and I had to hold onto my phone with two hands to take photos. It definitely lived up to its name of the Shipwreck Coast.

This race had everything. Wind, rain, hail and shine. Dirt, mud, sand, water and a few runnable bits. Many thanks to the organisers and great volunteers. This is the most well run race ever. Everything had been thought of. I was prepared and ready to smash my previous time based on last year’s perfect conditions. I will be back with a vengeance next year. I will buy some trail shoes (my Adizero PRO racing flats are great on dry rocks but not mud) and I will hit the trails and toughen up. Just you wait, GOW, I will conquer you yet.

The Tan Ultra 53.5km

The Tan track is a Melbourne icon. People travel there to run or walk it. It’s a wide footpath of fine gravel, a bit under 4km around the botanic gardens and the domain, and to be honest it’s not very interesting. I have never even considered going there for a training run.

Last weekend was the Tan Ultra 100km main event with 53.5km “fun run” option. I did the “fun run”. I did it to see how I’d compare against my previous time 2 years ago (6:06:50) and would have liked to have gone under that, but kind of knew I wouldn’t since I am not doing as much running now. After DNFing all the long road races I’ve entered this year, and after really killing both achilles’ after the You Yangs, I was a little hesitant about this. To top it off the weather was forecast to be rainy with 40km/hr winds. But I decided to tough it out. I was really curious to see what my 50ish km road time would be and this was the only run of this distance left in the year for me to do.

The fun run started at a leisurely 9am so it was nice not to have to get up super early for a run. It was so inspiring getting there and seeing the 100km runners who had been going since 7am and all at such a cracking pace! The guys go at a super fast pace and the girls were so impressive running at around my half marathon pace! I am in awe of everyone there. Maybe one day I can be that fast too!

My plan was to run to around 20kms then take walk breaks up Anderson St for the rest of the run. I was hoping not to walk as much as last time – I do remember last time struggling on the flats a lot. Unfortunately on the 3rd lap up Anderson St my left ITB twinged a bit so I had to hobble that before getting it under control, and from the 4th lap onwards I walked up Anderson. Last time I found the southern end of the loop quite a challenge but I’m pretty sure I only took 1 little walk break along there this time. Comparing the stats from previously, my running pace is much slower this time round. Last time I walked 4.6kms, this time I walked 3.9km. Last time the first 4 laps were all under 6min/k! That’s way fast for me now!

I took it easy this time going at my own plod of a pace. I guess I just like to be in my comfort zone! Each lap got slower and slower, until a running friend joined me in the middle of his Sunday long run. It was funny as I was running he was walking beside me! It is interesting looking at my stats as you can see where I tried to keep up with him on my 10th lap. Thanks Bruce for slowing to a shuffle for me! That was great to get me to that point as I knew I was on the home stretch from then.

I took a hand held water bottle and ran every 2nd lap with it, until the last 2 laps where I couldn’t be bothered with it anymore. From about the 1/2 way point it occurred to me I hadn’t even had breakfast so from then I occasionally stopped to eat some strawberries or orange slices, and take some sips of apple juice or my dad’s homemade boysenberry cordial. That was plenty of food and drink for me, although as usual there was a fabulous spread on offer including chocolate, chips, salted potatoes, fruit cake, sandwiches, bananas and probably more I didn’t notice. Thanks to RD Nick and the great volunteers for putting this all out there and also offering kind words of encouragement. It is always so welcome to be around friendly faces when you are really tired! And as usual all the other runners were super friendly and encouraging. I’m not sure that I’ve mentioned enough just how great the ultra running community is.

I had never worn an Ipod before during a run but decided this would be as good time as any. 14 laps could get old without some entertainment. Unfortunately since I had never done this before, I didn’t consider the chafing from the arm band! I didn’t bring any Bodyglide, since I don’t normally suffer chafing or blisters, but it wasn’t too bad in the end. I started off with the radio, then a Dvorak Symphony I hadn’t got around to listening to yet, then shuffled songs for a bit, and finally on the last lap a bit of techno to pump me up. I have selective hearing though, and despite being a musician by trade, I tend not to pay any attention to music if it’s background noise. I wasn’t really listening much until the end when I cranked it up to get me to the finish.

It was a good finish for me. I had picked up the pace in the last kilometre and felt like I was actually running. Dad, J, and 2 relatives visiting from Russia were all there at the finish so I made it across the line at around 6:41:xx with cheers from them and got my finisher’s medal from Nick with a few photos taken.

My achilles were quite sore during the race but because I was walking up Anderson St it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. I wore my Adizero PROs which were very comfortable and my feet didn’t get tired at all. Overall I felt my legs are strong and can handle any distance, but cardio-wise I felt unfit. The plan now is to work on my conditioning until the GOW100. My legs have the strength to run further, but they can’t go at any decent pace if I am getting puffed too soon.

You Yangs Ultra 50k (last Sunday 25th)

This was going to be an interesting ultra. The first of the year and the first in my low mileage experiment. I had not run over 30k yet this year and in the weeks leading up to it I didn’t run more than twice a week. I bet this is the exact opposite to how everyone else there had been training!

As soon as I got there I was amongst familiar faces and friendly people. Ruth, who won the women’s 50k barefoot last year was volunteering this year, and introduced me to Dave, who was wearing Five Fingers for the run. The surface isn’t that rough, but with some rocky sections and gravelly bits with big stones I think his feet must be super tough!

We ran together for the first bit at a nice easy pace. He was aiming for around 7 hours, which suited me as that would be just slightly faster than my pace last year. I thought if I can stick with him I’ll be right. Soon Matthew from Seattle joined us. This was very interesting as I got to learn about mountain lions and his encounter with a black bear! I am just fascinated by the wilderness, trails and scary animals in the States! We were all feeling pretty good after the first loop of 15k. Then there was the climb to the top of the hill. I swear that hill was longer this year. And this is where I fell apart.

Both my achilles tendons could not handle that steep climb. I was hoping to pick up pace as I ran down the hill but the forces on the achilles while leaping down from the steep giant stairs were too much and I was hobbling down the hill saying ouch, ouch, ouch with each step.

I tried to keep up with Dave and Matthew but at 20km decided to sit back and take it easier. It’s amazing how much power you lose when your achilles’ are not doing their job so from then I could only run the down hills and walked even the slighted incline. I was concerned about running by myself but the course was much better marked than last year. In fact, the course marking was exceptional so I just had to pay attention.

As I got closer to the 30k return-to-base my achilles were starting to feel a bit better. But then it was time for the second trip to the top of the hill and it got worse again.

It was interesting that there seemed to be quite a few international people there. Matthew commented on the fact you don’t need to do any altitude acclimatisation here and later I heard a German and someone else with an accent I couldn’t pick saying how nice and flat all the races are here! And this is not a flat course at all!

After the second trip to the top of the hill, and hobbling down saying ouch, ouch, ouch again, there was some really nice single trail running on a gentle downhill which made me feel much better. I was comfortable just spending a day out in the You Yangs and happy to take it easy from there. There was plenty of encouragement from other runners coming from the opposite direction as by now the 15k and 30k field were out and about and the whole area was abuzz with friendly runners saying hello and offering general words of encouragement. I love ultra runners!

Once I got to 40ks I was pretty happy there were only 10k left to go! My leg muscles were feeling great, but my achilles’ were not good, and I was ok with 1/2 walking and 1/2 shuffling the rest of the way home. I was thinking about how well marked the course is. Brett is a fantastic race director and it was great to not rely on the map to get around and to be confident seeing course markers every 100 metres or so. My mind was wandering, thinking I’d really like a nice cold beer when this is over, and which bottle shop should I stop at on the way home that sells the best ales. Once I got to 41k I was thinking how strange it was that I hadn’t seen a course marker in a while. Not that it was possible to get lost, so I must be on the right track.

I got to a junction and came across some markers for the 30k and 80k runners, but nothing for the 50k-ers. Well I just followed the 80k markers because I was pretty sure we were going the same track, but opposite directions here. Unfortunately my Garmin had told me its batteries were running low and I didn’t clear that warning, so missed the beep that should have happened much earlier to tell me I had gone off course! It said I was 500m out. Ugh. Nothing like going off course to get you back into gear and running again!

So I went back down the path I had come from. Or had I come from there? Where exactly was I on this map? My watch was telling me I was now 700m from the course! So I ran back to the junction. I still wasn’t on course, but I wasn’t as far. I found a km marker for the 80k course and worked out where I was. So I ran down some other path and managed to get back on course, after doing an extra 1.5km!

From here I picked up the pace as much as I could. I was previously on track for doing a similar time to last year but now I was ages behind! I got a bit confused at times, losing focus with fatigue, and concerned about wasting more time. At one point I nearly followed an 80k runner, thinking that was the right way despite course markers telling me otherwise. It was demoralising looking at my watch which said I had only 5k to go when it was really 6.5k due to the detour. I was even more concerned when sometimes my watch would beep saying I’m off course, but then 2 seconds later say I’m on course again. There was no way I was going to run any further than necessary!

Getting closer to the finish there was a slight uphill and my achilles’ couldn’t keep up with my eagerness to get to the end and not be much slower than last year. I was reduced to walking again, but fortunately managed to run to the finish line. It was a great finish with lots of cheers and friendly runners. Brett cheekily suggested I keep going and do the 80k. No thanks! Maybe if my achilles tendons worked.

So all up I did 51.5km in 7:49. Very slow. My leg muscles felt great though and I would love to know how I’d go if there were no injury issues.

During the race I drank about 1.2L water, ate 2 punnets of strawberries and a small handful of sunflower seeds and diced coconut. I forgot to take my dad’s homemade boysenberry cordial and I know that would have given me a bit more energy but it wouldn’t’ve fixed my stupid achilles. I wore my Adizero PRO flats. They were really comfortable and sturdy on the technical sections. No blisters, chafing or any of those uncomfortable things associated with long distances. At one point I popped a magnesium and electrolyte tablet when I thought my calf was going to cramp, but it never did. Not sure if it was the pills that fixed it or if I actually drank enough water for a change.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the helpful volunteers, encouraging kids on bikes, the amazing runners and RD Brett for making this a great day! I’m looking forward to next year already!

My legs are feeling fresh, despite hitting the gym a few times already this week so this coming weekend I will be doing the Sri Chinmoy 30km, then after that I have booked into the physio for his magical quick fix on my achilles, which will be just in time for the Tan Ultra 53.5km.

With the demise of my Frees, my last lightweight trainers, I’m deciding what to do next with my choice of footwear. I saw the new Nike Free Hyper TR online, but it’s too new for it to be in the factory outlet and I don’t want to pay full price in the store.

I’ve been reading some more blogs this week and I am really out of touch with what is going in the international world of barefoot and Five Fingers runners! This trend is growing much faster than I realised! Not only is there a Barefoot Running University and Barefoot Runners Society, but it seems thousands of people are getting into it in the states and it no longer seems to be considered abnormal! It’s been great seeing what these people are up to so I’ve updated my blog roll on the right for you to check out some more runners.

So this has all got me thinking. Currently I have 2 pairs of Adidas flats and 2 pairs of Five Fingers, which are also beginning to fall apart after a few years. The soles of my feet do tend to tire while wearing flats for long runs, but I have done an ultra in the FFs before, so maybe I should just toughen up again and do my long runs in the flats and short runs in the FFs. I’m really not bothered to toughen up enough to run trails in the FFs, especially since mine are the Sprints with poor grip. So it will be flats for the trails and FFs for the roads. My right achilles will hate it, but I’m running less than ever this year, relying on leg strength from weight lifting to get me through long distances. So just maybe I can do this.

I’ve got 2 trail ultras and 2 road ultras planned for this year. The road ultras will be tough in flats, but the trails should be fine. Next one is the You Yangs 50km on July 25.