Category Archives: Hydration

GOW100km

This time last week I was in Apollo Bay having a most awesome breakfast at a fabulous cafe who kindly made up a breakfast not resembling anything on the menu for a perfect post 100km feed. My legs were sore, I had slept about an hour, and the courageous 100milers were still running through the bush.

This run is my favourite run so far. It has everything. Beautiful long stretches of beach, sand dunes, river crossings, mud to stuck your shoes off, forest, open farmland, steep steep hills with stairs, kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, the most amazing views that stop you in your tracks and finally a little bit of flat terrain near the end. It was the best organised run I’ve ever done. The pre-race briefing over dinner at the pub the night before was great, the volunteers at the checkpoints were just amazing (Have a seat, want me to fill your water bladder? Want me to get your drop bag? Want would you like? We have fruit cake, biscuits, lollies, sports drink etc) and for me they really made my day, so THANK YOU MOST AWESOME VOLUNTEERS AND FANTABULOUSLY ORGANISED RACE DIRECTORS!

The start. I’m at the back left:

I hadn’t done 100km before so my only aim was to finish in the cutoff. I knew there were 3 people behind me the whole time and the sweeper would be behind them so I just wanted to hold my position. I found myself counting the kilometres to each checkpoint and trying to keep ahead of each cutoff.

At the 2nd checkpoint I was getting a bit concerned when I had travelled the required distance but the checkpoint was nowhere in sight. I was expecting to be about 30mins ahead of this one. Finally I made it smack bang on the cutoff time with my watch telling me I had done several kms further. This was the case for everyone so they adjusted the cutoff times and there was an extra hour to complete the race. This made me feel much better.

It got dark during some difficult steep up and down sections and I had to use my headtorch on the trails for the first time! It really wasn’t bright enough, but fortunately I was only borrowing this one so I know now when it comes to buy one I need a brighter one. I also had a couple of little led lights on my fingers which helped brighten up the trail a bit.

When I got to the last checkpoint, Moonlight Head, I was told I had 4 hours to get to the finish which was about 20km away and this was the most runnable part of the course. “Easy!” they said. Off I set.

Moonlight Head, Final checkpoint – decked out in flouro gear:

This is where finishing in the required timeframe fell appart. At one intersection I saw a Parks Victoria sign pointing left so I went that way. Then I bumped in to someone as we both congratulated each other thinking the other person was the leading 100miler on their return leg. OOPS! This was Lynda telling me I was going in the opposite direction and nearly back at Moonlight Head. She kept going saying urgently, “I’ve got to make the cutoff”.

I stopped and looked at the time. I had spent nearly an hour running around in a circle. Now I had less time to make the finish in time and this was no longer a certainty. I stood there pondering what to do for a moment. There was no going back. I came here to complete 100km and that was exactly what I was going to do.

So I bolted off after Lynda, running faster than I had all day. I passed her and when I came to the intersection again, I noticed a couple of metres above the Parks Vic sign, there was a GOW100 sign pointing in the opposite direction. My light was not bright enough for the sign to stand out the first time. So I kept going as fast as I could. It was only 20k or so to the end so I wasn’t concerned about running out of energy. The road was occasionally unrunnable when it would turn from nicely packed gravel to soft deep sand but I kept going at a reasonable pace. It was difficult not knowing exactly how far to the end but I just kept moving as fast as I could.

Then after Princetown I saw a sign pointing to a beach. I was quite sure there were no more beaches in the run so I thought it was maybe a beach campsite or something. We weren’t supposed to enter campsites so I went down a different trail. After a while this trail became very overgrown. I was practically crawling through trees. Then the trail divided into 2 animal tracks. This was so wrong. Shit shit shit.

I turned around and went back to the beach sign. Checked the map – no sign of any beach on the map, but double checked and the sign did not say it was a campground and the Parks Vic arrow was pointing in that direction. I should have gone there. I was checking the ground for footprints to make sure it was the right way. It seemed right.

Now I knew I was not going to make the finish by cutoff but I didn’t care. I was going in the right direction and running as fast as I could considering I’d already done about 90km, I had a 2-3kg pack on my back and poor lighting. This path just seemed to go on forever. It was supposed to meet up with the main road but it just kept going and going and going. I wondered if I was actually taking a detour but finally after what seemed like way too far I hit the main road.

I crossed to the right side of the road and kept running. I was sure we were supposed to just go over the road and there would be the end in sight but I couldn’t see it. I just kept going. There were witches hats placed there so I guessed it was right. It was now 2am – 1 hr after cuttoff so I sent a text message to one of the race organisers to say I took some wrong turns but was now on the final stretch.

Finally I made it to the 12 Apostles! Everyone at the end had gone home but Whippet who was patiently waiting for the final stragglers. I was the last person coming in at 20:09. Lynda was being collected in a car further down the road. I quickly put on some warm clothes while Whippet woke up A who was sleeping in the car while waiting for me. We gave Lynda a lift back to Apollo Bay and I finally got to bed at around 4am. I hardly slept though as my legs were so sore they could not get comfortable.

The soles of my feet were quite sore during the run – it felt like I had been on my feet shopping all day! My legs were not so bad though, probably because of all the walking. Some muscles cramped that had never cramped before but I did take some Saltstick caps and magnesium which helped. My legs really only got sore once I sat in the car afterwards. Considering all the energy I had at the end to run to the finish, I know I could have pushed myself more early on. I wore my Adizero PROs which turned out to be great for the trail. Because the mesh is so open they let a LOT of sand in on the sandy bits. On a long beach stretch I deliberately walked in the water to wash out some of the sand. I didn’t get any blisters and I think they were a more comfortable choice than the Frees. I think they also made it easier to maintain better running form, especially at the end.

At each checkpoint I ate a punnet of fresh strawberries. I also ate on the run some dried fruit (mango, paw paw + pineapple). I had some apple juice and some of dad’s homemade boysenberry cordial. I drank about 3L of water. Food and drink-wise I felt I did really well. I did get some hand swelling from about 60km onwards – Does anyone know what causes this??

During the run I never really questioned my ability to finish, but I did wonder if I was cut out for 100km runs. But then I realised this probably wasn’t the easiest one to do! Would I do this one again? Definitely! Especially now I know the right way!

Now I have recovered, I am ready to get back into training for the Bruny Island Ultra in December.

You Yangs 5050

Last weekend was the You Yangs 5050. I had entered the 50mile event, but like a lot of people who had never run in the You Yangs before, I seriously underestimated the toughness of those hills. There was no way I was going to finish in the 10 hrs so I ended up pulling out at 50km. As the sole female 50mile entrant, it was a little disappointing to miss out on my trophy! But I had a great day, it was perfectly organised with great support and as usual the friendly runners made it for me.

There were so many steep hills. It was like running the length of Allendale Rd 10 times. Oh, and the stairs. We had to run up to the summit twice and I tell you it was very long the second time. Those stupid stairs to the top were only suitable for people who are 3m tall. Who put those there? The map was also quite confusing. Because the You Yangs is such a small area, we did about 50 different loops of various fire trails and single trails. I couldn’t be bothered looking at the map properly because I didn’t wear any clothes with pockets and I couldn’t be bothered getting it out of my pack. Fortunately I was running with others most of the way so I trusted their judgement when the course markers were unclear.

I spent the first 3rd just trying to get into a rhythm. My feet felt like they were landing really hard in my shoes (Nike Frees) and it took at least 10k to start to feel normal. There was a bit of tag going on between me and David, Michelle + Mark, who were running together. They were too cheerful and chatty for me on such a long run so I was always either a bit ahead or a bit behind them. The hills were draining and I was still tossing up between distances at that point so I wasn’t that chirpy about having to maintain a certain pace to make the cutoff time. After a while I knew I couldn’t keep up so just relaxed in my slow pace.

From somewhere around the 15-20k mark I started running with Kate. Somehow we just kind of ended up at the same pace and it was good having someone to chat to and someone to keep me going so I didn’t walk the few flat bits. Somewhere after 30k David decided he was not going to keep up with Michelle + Mark, and Kate + I caught up to him. Together we pulled each other up the hills, kept each other moving, complained about the stairs and took a wrong turn and ended up in some strange area with no course markers for a few km. I don’t know what happened exactly as I couldn’t be bothered with the confusing map of a million loops. We did end up doing 50k all up though so it worked out ok in the end.

We were walking up this steep hill but when we saw the aid station we had to run and look like we were having fun for the photo:

Once we’d eaten our food we didn’t think there’d be more photos so settled back into our walk:

The last couple of km were the hardest. We had to make our way around some technical trail up a hill then with the finish in sight we had to turn around and make the treacherous climb to the top of the hill up all those steps AGAIN. It was hard. Kate was good on the down hill and skipped ahead but waited for us just before the finish so we all finished 50km together in 7:22.

Last downhill to the finish:

I popped a magnesium and Saltcap tab before the run. During the run I drank 1L of water, a couple of punnets of fresh strawberries, a mix of dried fruit (pineapple, papaya, mango & coconut) and some fruit juice. Food wise I did really well but I didn’t drink enough water because my left gastroc and right hamstrings started to cramp towards the end. As soon as I finished the run I had another magnesium and Saltcap tab downed with a bottle of dad’s homemade boysenberry cordial. Pizza was dinner.

Incidentally the female 50k winner did it barefoot! She looked so light and graceful on her feet like she was just skipping along. Hopefully one day my achillies will at least let me do such a race in the Five Fingers.

This is now the shortest ultra I’ve done, and because of the soft trails and the steep hills, my legs pulled up really well. My quads were a little sore the next day but I have managed a couple of runs since and my legs are now ready to get back into their regular training again. Fastest recovery ever!! Now looking for the next ultra to do but logistically I think that will have to be the Bruny Island Ultra in December.

Melbourne Marathon – Carnage on the Course!

I haven’t got around to typing about my first DNF until now. I’ve had some mixed emotions about the whole thing.

As planned, I ate as healthy as I could in the lead up to the marathon, went vegan for the couple of days beforehand and of course drank plenty of water. The day before the marathon I went to the chemist to buy some Gastrolyte in preparation for the hot weather on the day.

On the day I woke up early. Decided I didn’t need any Gastrolyte since I’d already run an ultra without electrolytes, so why would I need them today? Wore my Asics DS Racers knowing that they would mean I recover quicker. Because I got in for free courtesy of Samsung, I wore the required Team Samsung singlet, which may have become my new favourite singlet.

The race started off well. It was warm but overcast. As we ran over the start line, the speakers played Angry Anderson’s Bound For Glory. Very appropriate. Even though I knew I was probably only in 4hr 30 condition, I felt good and headed off ahead of the 4 hour bus. It was amazing seeing the fast and fit leading HMers pass us by. A girl and a guy started talking to me and we ran for about a km together. The girl was aiming for sub 4hr and the guy was in the same boat as me, hoping for sub 4 but actually injured and knew just finishing was a more realistic goal. We lost each other at a drink station.

I was conscious of drinking plenty of water early on to avoid cramps. But because it was quite hot, I was naturally more thirsty so drank much more water than I usually would. My stomach was so full from all the water but I was still so thirsty. I felt like I was running with a water balloon for a tummy. I couldn’t keep going and had to take my first walk break at around 17k. This wasn’t so bad, as I did notice people as early as 12k taking walk breaks. I kept drinking water at each drink station but I just felt that my body wasn’t absorbing it and I was just pointlessly filling my tummy with more water. Why didn’t I take that gastrolyte in the morning again?

From about the 20k point onwards, I noticed bodies strewn along the side of the road. People lying on the ground with cramps, people on stretchers, people not looking happy. The clouds had cleared and the temperature was heating up to 30 degrees. There was no shade. Just a long hot road, with the beach to one side. Oh how I wanted to just skip the run and go into the water!

The support was great on the course. Kids were handing out jelly beans and snakes, one guy was offering 100 metre piggy backs for $10, all sorts of people had come out to watch people run by.
I was taking many walk breaks and finding it difficult to run. I had no energy, and when I thought I did, I struggled to run due to my bloated tummy. Both the 4hr and 4:15 buses overtook me and I knew it would be a long hard day.

Shortly after the turnaround Duckgirl from the Tan Ultra caught up to me. J, her friend, felt nauseous and pulled out at just 15k! This was so tough. I ran with Michelle for about a km but couldn’t keep up. She told me not to drink any more water, gatorade only. She knew the signs of hypnotremia and said I should ask the St John’s Ambulance people if they had any Gastrolyte. After I let her pass I half walked and half did the “Fuck This Shuffle” for what seemed like hours. I named it the Fuck This Shuffle because I was so over it and by shuffling and making up the Fuck This Shuffle Song in my head I was able to keep moving forward while attempting to lift my spirits. I walked up to a St John’s and asked for some Gastrolyte but they didn’t have any so I kept going.

I was watching the time tick by. My lower back got quite sore and every now and then I stopped to stretch. I was mostly walking by now and decided to call it a day at the next St John’s. Well, they had their hands full with a guy lying on the ground screaming. I kept going. The kms were ticking over so slowly it was unbearable. I was at the back of the pack with many other stragglers in the same boat. Bodies lay on the side of the road, those that were walking generally had their head facing down while they focused on their own private hell. Spartans, who had run a minimum of 10 Melbourne Marathons, were mostly walking or shuffling. Some of these people were getting on in years and some had even done every single Melbourne Marathon, this being their 31st.

I was starting to get waves of dizziness. The headwind was strong and the dust caused me to cough which made me feel sick. Finally at 33k I got to the next St John’s and said I was just dehydrated and needed some salts. They had none. They gave me some oxygen, which did nothing, and some glucose which did lift my spirits a bit. They said there was a bus coming in about 10 mins or so.

I sat in the gutter with two other guys. They both had cramps in their legs. As we waited for the bus, I watched the sorry souls with their heads down pressing onwards. I was in awe of their ability to keep going in such hot conditions and in such a slow time. I just didn’t want to walk all the way to the finish in the heat with no shade while feeling terrible. Was I a wimp for dropping out? Further up the road I heard a scream and saw someone collapse. Fortunately, nearby runners caught her fall. The St John’s near us raced up to help. I heard it was “the old lady”. Shirley Young. Nearly 80, she is the only woman to have done every single Melbourne Marathon. But she was to DNF with cramps this year. Amazing.

I got on the Sag Bus. They had apples and bananas on offer, but I didn’t have any, although I knew I should have. They said that there were 4 buses driving up and down the course picking up bodies. As we drove along, we stopped at every St John’s point to see if anyone needed collecting. At one point the bus even pulled over to a limping runner to see if they were ok. We didn’t pick up any other stragglers, although I heard the driver on the radio conferring with other drivers, volunteers and St Johns’ talking about how many other people were to be picked up on the course.

We got dropped off near the MCG. As I walked closer, I could hear ACDC’s Highway To Hell being played on the speakers. Very appropriate. At this point I was feeling much better and even thinking that I could’ve kept walking, like so many others I saw on the course. But I had already made my decision. I collected my things and heard from the volunteers that they had seen people collapsing and people being taken away on stretchers as soon as they’d finished. It really was a tough one.

I called A and he was already in town. He picked me up and we went to the market. I had some hot chips with salt. Just what I needed.

My splits are:
10k 57:25
21k 1:11:34

Obviously a big slow down even that early on.

I was feeling pretty shit about the whole event but I did learn a few things. I know that I should just bloody well take the electrolytes even if I don’t think I need them. I know I am tough and strong but there is a limit. I think ultras are easier because there is no pressure to go faster. I was reminded again how great and supportive runners are. They really are good people.

To get an idea of the marathon, here are some pictures.

And now for something positive…

Yesterday I ran a Sri Chinmoy 4k with E + M. I did it in 19:07 and came 3rd in my age group and got a medal! If only there was money involved like in eistedfodds. But then I guess there would be no slow people like me getting placings 🙂

Hydration

Occasionally during my LSD I have felt my legs cramp up. Not seriously debilitating cramps where I have to lie on the ground in agony, but my legs were tight and they wanted to cramp badly.

Last weekend was my longest run to date at 29.4k. My legs were feeling it. Starting to cramp. Feeling tired and just going through the running motions. I felt very slow (although the Garmin showed I had picked up the pace). I wasn’t drinking much water during the run because I didn’t feel thirsty. My previous long run, as mentioned in my last post, I felt 100% fine and I think I did drink more then.

I have read online that some people say cramps are caused by lack of salt. I have also read that that is an old school theory and it is actually lack of water. During my last run when my legs were cramping, I thought I could be approaching The Wall. I’ve never hit The Wall. The Wall is like a fabled myth that I would like to discover and learn how to overcome. I would like to learn how to eat on the run, to experiment with foods. At the same time I am enjoying training my body to run far without eating.

Whatever the official cause of leg cramps, I think for me it is lack of water. I actually have to make myself drink on the run. I don’t feel thirsty, I just get to a certain point and think Hmm I haven’t had anything to drink in over 5k, perhaps I should have a sip. But towards the end of the run I often think Well, I’m not thirsty so why bother? I’ll be home soon and can drink some nice homemade boysenberry cordial then. I think it is because I can comfortably run 20k without the thought of a drink but clearly I need something for the longer stuff. In future I must remember to drink at least every 5k even if I don’t feel like it.