Category Archives: Race

Ultra Spirit Run

The Ultra Spirit Run was on this past Saturday. 100% of the race entry fee goes directly to Kate & Turia, who now have years of medical bills, rehab, surgery and more as a result of being burnt in a race that should not have gone ahead last year. Details are on the site and all over the media if you Google it.

I got there early with ChocChilliMango and we collected our race bibs and had a coffee while waiting to start. Just before starting, I spotted Turia amongst the crowd! I was very surprised, happy and excited for her that she could come out here and join in 🙂

The route was 2 laps of the Tan track – one for each of the girls. It was a pretty cold morning, but not raining, so I was happy with that. Neither me nor CMM have done much (any?) running over the past 12 months so 7.6km was going to be a bit of an ask. We took a few walk breaks so CCM did not die of asthma, which meant our actual running pace was surprisingly not bad. We finished in 50:18 – so pretty much exactly where I expected.

I didn’t feel the need to stretch afterwards, so that meant my right achilles was screaming at me later in the day and my FHL was click click clicking even more so than usual and I could see the tendons click and move in my ankle. Now my hamstrings remind me that they do get used while running.

It was great to do a small friendly run again. I think I might get back into the Sri Chinmoy races again, even if I don’t bother training for them.

By the way, if you’d like to donate to Kate & Turia, you can do so at any time here.

Sri Chinmoy 5km

I’ve got a few goals for the year so I decided to enter this race last weekend as 5km has always been my ‘fitness test’ kind of distance. It’s my base measure.

So… I have been running approximate once every 10 days or so since November last year. Until today it was all a run/walk type of thing. So I knew I’d do kinda crap, and I exceeded my expectations.

I woke up early so did a lot of foam rolling on my calves. For some reason, no matter how early I get up, I never seem to leave the house when I intend to so as usual with these races, I arrived with about 3 seconds to spare and had to run to the start line. There were so many people here I think this could be the most packed I’ve seen this particular race.

I seeded myself in the middle of the pack. I wasn’t surprised to see quite a few people wearing Five Fingers. I was wearing my TrekSports and thinking how interesting it is that this is no longer abnormal.

When the gun went off I was a little annoyed that everyone around me was moving so slow. I thought maybe all these extra people here today were slow people. This awkward start hurt my stupid ankle a bit but after overtaking a bunch of people I could run properly. My form was great, my legs and feet were relaxed and I was moving close to my former 5k pace – stupid thing to do, really.

After 1km my lack of running caught up with me and I couldn’t maintain my pace. At 1.5km the people I overtook earlier were overtaking me. At 2.5km I was counting down the kms left. At 3km I let myself slow even more. At this point the heat did start to bother me a bit. It was 28 degrees already although it felt more in direct sunlight.

For some reason my triceps were sore. They were the only part of me that was totally relaxed and it felt weird. My legs were moving fine and strength wasn’t an issue there, but I couldn’t keep up with them.

5km suddenly felt like a long distance run and I realised my cardiovascular fitness wasn’t up to scratch. 50km is so much easier than 5km. Every time. I just had to remind myself that after being injured for so long I shouldn’t even have any expectations of my finish time. This race fits in with my goals this year and serves as a test so I know how far off I am from where I want to be.

With 400m to go I picked up the pace, but my Garmin was out quite a bit and it turned out that there was really 600m to go so I had started my kick too early. I was expecting to finish in around 26 mins, although secretly hoping for closer to 25mins. I couldn’t believe the clock when I ran past – I think this was my 2nd slowest 5km ever at 28.18.

Km splits were: 4:56, 5:07, 5:32, 5:57, 5:53
Plus there was 0:52 extra somewhere in there too as my Garmin measured long.

I stuck around to see what the winners in my age group did. And wow are these people getting faster! I have to totally thrash my PBs if I want to get a placing again.

In the past I would usually have a pancake afterwards, and always would have at least enjoyed the smell of them all cooking on the bbq. But since I have not had any sugar this year, the smell of them made me feel nauseous! What is the world coming to?

Bestest friendliest atmosphere of any road race. Pancakes provided.

You Yangs 50km 2011

I was secretly very happy this year when the You Yangs 5050 was postponed due to flooding in July because it meant a) I had more time to train and b) It would fit in nicely as a decent long run before GOW which is 4 weeks after.

Unfortunately (what I thought was) my achilles troubles has been holding me back from specific running training. I’ve been hitting the trails once a week, aiming for difficult terrain with GOW in mind. I’ve run in ankle deep mud, through thunder, hail and snow, and climbed up hills that would have been easier with an ice pick. Although I haven’t done long distances, I’ve done long times!

Last weekend was the You Yangs 50km and I was terribly under prepared. Since my running partner for most of this year is in hospital due to a tragic experience in a race, I did this for her. I have done some crazy runs with Kate this year, and her strength always amazes me. It doesn’t matter how tiring it all is, how long and steep the hills are, she just keeps going. Running when able, walking the hills the rest of the time. So this year even though I knew I would be slow at the You Yangs, when the going got tough, I always asked myself, “What would Kate do?”.

The course changed again this year, and I think for the best. I liked NOT going to the top of the hill and back multiple times, and I enjoyed the technical circuit around the hill. The first 10km went quite well for me. Although slow, I was feeling good. At 15km I was still feeling good and hopeful I was on track for under 8 hours. At the half way point, although I was starting to get even slower (how is that possible?) I was still on track for under 8 hours and I thought if I could just keep running on the flats and downhills that I would be ok.

My achilles (which now isn’t that… more later) issues meant my running speed was walking pace. I had no power in my right leg and I was going so slow that I was naturally breathing through my nose much of the time. There is a section through gum plantations that is quite flat. Flat bits are a problem for me as you really need to keep up your momentum. I just couldn’t do it. At 30km I was feeling ok but then at 40km I was back at the plantation area and it was a real struggle. I ran as long as I could (at walking speed), while knowing that Kate would be running there too. It was so unnaturally slow but I just did not have the power in my right leg to run at any normal running pace.

At around 45km I started walking. This run was much harder than it should’ve been. There were (dare I say it) too many flat runnable bits! I realised I was going to be way over 8 hours and decided my ultra career is over until I sort out this leg problem. If you can’t train, you can’t run at any speed. My leg strength from weight lifting enables me to complete these distances, but is not enough to actually run properly. Getting over the injury and being able to run in training is the only thing that is going to help.

I decided I would pull out of GOW this year. I couldn’t get my money back on the accommodation so worked out a really nice weekend away. I even planned some nice walks and it was going to be the relaxing holiday I’ve been in need of all year! At this point in the race, I had reached a calm. This was it for me! The last long race of the year! Yeah!

With Kate in mind, I still kept running when able, and walking when I couldn’t. I don’t know what time I crossed the finish line, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I came dead last! I quickly found Andy to withdraw from GOW before I changed my mind. But he told me to think about it… ugh…..

So anyway, since then I have had some acupuncture and it’s been discovered that my achilles is fine. A bit thicker than usual, but functionally fine. It’s the flexor hallucis longus that has been killing me. This muscle originates near the calf behind the achilles so it has been making me think the achilles is to blame. This makes perfect sense as I had problems with my big toe a long time ago, and it is still quite tight and inflexible. Now the source of the pain has revealed itself, the acupuncturist reckons it wont take long to fix. I am hopeful this time! And I am doing GOW! Even though I shuffle at a snails pace, provided I don’t get lost, it will still be enough to make the cutoffs.

Mt Macedon Trail Run 30/50km

Yesterday was the Mt Macedon Trail Runs. I entered the 50km, thinking it would be fine. The last time I went for a run was my last post – 6 weeks ago. At least then I was running 1-2 times per week including hills or intervals. Since then I focused on a grueling hypertrophy program, often spending over an hour at the gym every single day. The volume got to me and I got sick twice in 2 weeks. Then somehow I still thought I didn’t need to run in order to complete 50km. What a stupid idea!

It was so cold at the start line, there was frost on the ground. I wore my arm sleeves for the whole run, which is very unusual for me. At the race briefing Brett warned us about some sections. I am not good at paying attention here as it is always a bunch of words that don’t mean anything until you’re out there.

Once we were off I felt awkward from the start. I was wearing my MW101 trail shoes, but despite being minimalist, they felt clunky compared to my usual flats. My fingers were freezing and I was trying to find a good spot in my pack to keep my Garmin watch (since it is almost dead and I knew the batteries would go flat so I just wanted what data it could manage but didn’t want to wear it). The ground surface was really nice and soft, and it was such a pleasure to run on. I was thinking about this, while my frozen fingers fumbled with my watch, when I literally fell into last place. My main concern was not landing in kangaroo poo. I managed to land on some rocks, with massive scrapes on both thighs. Fortunately it was so cold, I couldn’t feel if anything hurt. In hindsight, I think Brett mentioned something about being careful about the rocks in the first 200 metres.

It took about an hour for my achilles to warm up. It was really painful to start with but I have been vigilantly doing my achilles exercises for the past week so I was able to run the rest without achilles pain. I quickly caught up ahead of a few people and finally settled into a rhythm.

The hills in this run are so mean. Both up and down. Some of the downhills were not even runnable. I found one was very smooth dirt, and everyone was sliding down. I was stepping carefully on the grass on one side, whilst holding onto ferns for balance.

It was very windy out there, and after Hells Hole, on the top of Mt Towrong, it was very exposed and it was very chilly. Climbing back down was difficult as I was being blown about in the wind, while trying to navigate the tricky rocky trail. My legs were feeling shaky and unstable from my trail shoes and the fall early on so I was taking every step very cautiously.

At about the 20km mark I considered dropping out at 30km. I just felt so slow and cumbersome (remember, 3 weeks of hypertrophy training and 6 weeks of no running or metabolic work of any sort). This should really have felt comfortable and the run just wasn’t working for me.

Look, no knuckles! Does anyone know what causes or how to cure the hand swelling in some long events?

Heading up the Zig Zag track, I decided that even if I made the 30km cut off time, I would drop out there. 50km would have been unnecessarily torturous.

I missed the cut off by about 7 minutes. Brett said I could continue but I said no way. I think at least 3 others DNF’d at 30km.

It really was a lovely trail and it renewed my enthusiasm for trail running and ultras. I feel like I have run a lot of crap races recently and it’s time for me to step it up. I want to run comfortably again and I’m going to hit the hills and trails a lot more often now. The You Yangs 50km is on in 6 or 7 weeks. I originally thought I might volunteer in this but now I am going to train and I am going to do it well.

Maroondah Dam 2011 – volunteering

I’ve wanted to do the Maroondah Dam run for a while now, but I hate running in hot weather and this year I felt my conditioning not up to scratch to tackle the hills. So this year I decided to volunteer.

I was at the 25km aid station with Bruce and Gilda. We had a table full of sports drink, water, jelly beans, snakes, chocolate, salt, fruit cake, chips, sandwiches, oranges and bananas. It was a smorgasboard of ultra food!

We were taking photos, ticking off names as they went through and constantly topping up supplies. It was super busy and a real frantic hive of activity! We got into a good rhythm with Gilda taking photos, Bruce filling cups and me ticking off names.

Gilda also drove further down the course a few times to pick up several injured runners. Once she had 3 DNFs and the flow of runners started to slow, she drove them back to the finish.

Soon enough the rain and fog set in. We sat in the car, only getting out when the occasional runner went past. In the afternoon Andy, the sweeper, came through and we could pack up our soggy chips and fruit cake and drop all the gear off at the finish.

It was a great event and fun being part of it. My fellow aid station-ers were great people and we worked well together. I will definitely volunteer again in the future and highly recommend it!