Sunday, 20 December 2009

A Good Year

Sitting here still owing 2 race reports to my blog (Badwater and my last event Coast to Kosci), the long runs demand long reports and sometimes i have no interest in writing them, hopefully soon.

Anyway my results are on the above link, my shortest year race wise since 2005 with only 1991K's but with no Trans Gaule or Deutschlandlandlauf that was to be expected. Essentially ran without injury right up until the last 6 weeks when back problems sent me backwards, and it became a race against time to be ready for Coast to Kosci, but overall a good year.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Marysville Marathon (and 45K Ultra) 8th November

After the 4 Peaks i had decided to stay in Bright an extra couple of days and do a couple more mountains, first of all Mount Bogong (Victorias Highest Peak and probably my favourite trail run up Staircase Spur) and the next day Mount Porepunkah which had been day 1 the previous 9 times i raced here and deserved a 10th outing

from me.

In theory i was either going to be superfit for my next race or worn out, as it turned out i was somewhere in between. Running (maybe that's an overstatement - walking quickly might be more accurate) a steep uphill 0n Porepunkah i disturbed one rock and the one behind it crashed onto my left ankle, nothing much but i seemed to get an immediate bruise and bit of a "sting" from it, not enough to worry me at the time but just enough to remember it and two days later begin to feel it when do two laps of the Tan (at the Monthly Victorian Road Runners Tan Time Trial, that would make this twice here this year probably more than when i was living in Melbourne !!).

With a 9AM start it meant we virtually had a sleep in before Marysville, i was driving my car giving Robert Boyce a lift as had plans o drive straight back to the Gold Coast from there (and Robert to get a lift home), with the shorter races not on till much later was somewhat shocked to find large crowds at the registration area (whilst there were only 90 in the marathon there were 2,000 pre entered in the other events and ultimately another thousand entered on the day).

Still got my number and ankle chip quickly and still had an hour before race time, walked over to the start area (a few hundred metres from the finish) and had a chat with a number of familiar faces as we waited for the race briefing.

Lachlan (who was not only Race Director and inspiration behind the event was also competing in it) gave the race briefing but when asked about how we would do the extra 2.8K's to complete the Ultra came up with, what seemed to me, a vague "it will be obvious when you get there", certainly the rest of the course sounded good but i now had lingering doubts about the Ultra.

Soon we were off, with the race started by a set of Bells, one of two sets that were all of remained of Lachlans' Marysville House, and was comfortably away on a good road, settled somewhere in the top dozen and still continuing my chat from the Tan with Steven Barker (we'd ran together most of those 8K's to finish in around 35:10 the previous day where i just outsprinted him at the end), with the obvious leader Traralgon Harrier John MacKenzie (a 2:30 Marathoner) leading a pack of 3, and more surprisingly a runner with a running stroller (and child) making good time a couple of places in front of me. Also saw early starter, walker, Brian Glover coming towards me, we had a good 11K before the turnaround, only problem i had was having to stop at the first drink station as the Sports Drink was at the back (water in front).

Once we turned i lost Steve and was making ground on the two in front and feeling good, was definitely going to be a warm day so it was best to make use of the easy running on the road whilst i could as apparently the course would get harder.

8K's on the return and we then turned onto an unsealed road, a bit like the Melbourne Marathon a month back i ended up running straight into a herd of Half Marathoners but with a much smaller field this wasnt a great problem, soon the unsealed road had deteriorated into a road with large rocks and my ankle wasnt really appreciating this, nevertheless i was beginning to make good ground, last drink stop before the other runners turned and it was too crowded to make the effort to get a drink so i was relying on our turnaround not being too far after. Can't say it was that far away, but with heat and no shade i was beginning to struggle and really look forward for the turnaround and was relieved to get there, was soon back to the drink station and had a much easier go at getting a drink as well as now passing the runner with the stroller (hardly a bit of road for a stroller so he was doing it hard).

By now i was regularly passing the runners in the Half and getting a good pace going was just looking forward to getting of the rocky road and soon enough we were, grabbed a GU although at that point didnt see the drink station just needed something and then it was a run towards the oval where we would finish complete with steep downhill section.

By now it was very hot and with the bushland decimated by the fires there was no shade to be found, best thing was the sight of the creek as we ran along, i had no idea where we were heading next as i knew that although we would be passing the finishing line we still had at least 10K's to go.

We were sent along the road towards Steavensons Falls and again i was confronted by a herd of runners, the 3 & 10K events, thankfully with witches hats in the middle of the road i simply stuck to the wrong side of the road with no one returning yet i had a very comfortable run.

I'm sure years ago i'd been to Steavensons Falls but with a totally different landscape now nothing was familiar and every time we went around a corner i was dismayed to see still more runners ahead, reached a drink station where i was informed they were out of water but had sports drink (what a relief!, other way round and that would have been a disaster in my eyes) and still we kept on going, soon we could see the beautiful, refreshing falls in front of us and so knew where we were headed (only wish it was possible to run under them !!), now it was just a case of heading back, thankfully mostly downhill, i'd seen the leaders in the marathon and also had a good idea now of who was around me, so it was a case of run as hard as possible then see what was needed to make it an Ultra.

As we hit the oval i was passed by a runner who i was pretty sure was in the marathon but with only a few hundred metres to go didnt want to take him on as i knew i still had 3 or so K's to go and conserving what little energy i had for that was my plan.

Ultimately i crossed the line in 3:24:59 or thereabouts by the clock (which doesnt seem to agree with my chip time of 3:25:14), far from fast but when you consider John won in 3:02 (A PW for him) you can see this was no ordinary Marathon !!!.

The question then was where do i go for the Ultra ???, and that i asked and the officials didn't know, i thought i should at least have a drink while someone found out but even that was thwarted as they were just getting water in (hot weather and the bigger than expected on the day crowds made organisation very difficult), eventually speaking to Brett Saxon (who was there as photographer rather than runner and who took most of the above photos, thanks) i was told to continue out so decided the logical thing to do was simply add on the 3K run although in theory that made the 45KM Ultra long, so it was back up the hill to Kevin Cassidy's turnaround and i then found a new lease of life as tried to chase down Trailwalker Team Mate Robert Hall who was finishing the marathon (after winning the 50KM Upstream Challenge the day before !!).

As i reached the oval it was announced that Malcolm Gamble had just crossed the line to win the Ultra, so a few muffled curses and i crossed the line in 3:47 and went straight over to the timekeepers to lodge a protest.

Spoke to Mal straight after and seeing that he'd run two minutes slower than me in the marathon and been given a totally different extra run to me decided i was the winner, even more curiously Robert then finished his Ultra by running laps measured by his Garmin until he had 45K's up, so ultimately as first 3 had all done different courses after the marathon.

Despite the very strange finish after the Marathon (and i have yet to find official times for the Ultra in theory it really shouldn't exist on the records ???, but yes i will take the win), this was a great run and a triumph in terms of support for Marysville and congratulations to Lachlan and all his team, will definitely try to make it back next year.

Certainly one of the hardest marathons i've ever done made harder by the weather conditions, ultimately not making it home until Monday evening (was worried by reports of flooding on the Mid North Coast of NSW but thankfully rivers had subsided over my next day of driving), and as i type still troubled by the bruised ankle, still got to commit to my next start.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Mount Buffalo Day 4 November 3

After 3 days in the 30s i knew that the fine hot weather would eventually end and sure enough during the night i heard the gentle pitter patter of rain on my corrugated iron cabin roof, definitely not as hard as some i have experienced here over the years but finally the meteorologists were right !.

Woke in the morning to find it a little cold with some drizzle but really there wouldn't be too big an issue here as this is the easiest of the four runs (in my opinion), although the question was would i take my non compulsory rain jacket or just get it sent to the top ??.

Ultimately decided i'd send up the camelbak with my gloves, jacket and bandanna and travel light, had time to check out yesterdays results (2:16, not flash but around what i was expecting), and also noticed i'd just sneaked into the first page of the results (right at the bottom in 25th place !).

Plenty of time to hang around and chat at the start and also have a toilet break, but by the time i was ready to go the guns were leaving last thing i wanted was to be in a group where the other members left me looking like i was nailed to the floor !!.

Did eventually leave before Twitey but was expecting him to pass me before the next intersection and sure enough that was he case as well as another runner, although at least i caught up with some walkers.

Bit of running and more walking and a constant though light drizzle, meant that by the time i hit the exposed face of Mackeys i was beginning to feel the cold, passed a number of walkers as i zig zagged across the bare face and was looking forward to getting off the rocks and heading back into the bush.

Finally reached there and it was getting seriously colder so once i hit the very runnable last 2K's i took off and did as close as i could to a sprint !!.

Finally reached the steps of the Chalet but my cold addled brain meant that i actually went the wrong side of the tape to the finish line (a tape was dividing the BBQ queue from the finishing line), somewhere between 90 and 100 minutes off hand.

After a chat with a few people i headed off to find my camelbak and warmer clothes really needed the gloves, and not having brought any money with me decided i was best to head back as the weather was deteriorating almost sleeting.

Thankfully this only lasted a couple of K's and by Mackeys there was a bright sun and warmer conditions so i relaxed and took pictures.
Very vague on results, but i know Dave Osmond was overall winner and Hanny Alston First female (and i think second overall), two very prestigous names to add to the perpetual trophy.
Thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and will have to make it back sooner than another 10 years, big thanks to Reg and Elaine and all the helpers, as for me i'm thinking of making Mt Bogong my 5th peak tomorrow dependent on the weather before i head south for Sundays Marysville Marathon.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Mount Hotham Day 3 November 2

Arriving at Tavare Park this morning found yesterdays time was 1:46, another so/so time, still Mount Hotham promised to be much more runnable and i was looking forward to the extra distance.
Nice easy start along the Ovens River but soon we'd hit the trailhead and was rapidly passing early walkers, was happy to spot 25 time Four Peak Veteran Peter Le Busque just in front of me (having started 5 minutes? earlier) as i knew he was always good to follow though not as fast as when i was last here, actually passed him on a downhill stretch just before Washington Creek (complete with bridge i can remember unsteadily using a log in the old days !).
Here was my first navigational mistake, having immediately passed some walkers after crossing the bridge i then had the trail (on the sharp right by a walker coming the other way) and led us all into a dead end, barely lost any distance but it meant Peter was back in front again.
From then on it was up and up and i continued walking at essentially the same pace as Peter in front, we kept on passing more and more walkers and even the odd runner (i'd been passed by two runners in the first section and was hoping that not many more would though i knew my old sparring partner Twitey would be an issue later).
A few nice runnable sections but then Bon Accord Spur got it's revenge, steep and relentless uphill i was sweating heavily and on really steep parts was putting my hands on my knees would the spur ever end and we finally hit the Razorback ???.

Finally we hit the intersection and i knocked back the offer of a lolly as i simply didn't have the energy. Unfortunately at this point Twitey caught up to me and we both pushed hard along the Razorback but eventually he broke away from me (as had Peter), and i finally made Diamantina Hut.

After 10 slices of orange and some water i did what i consider to be the finish of this run i headed off to the summit of Mount Hotham.

I then headed back (as usual one of only two to do so), which is the reason for so many pictures on this blog entry, was feeling really good so my uphill times may well be far from crash hot but i'm definitely in good shape, now if only we could race down.
Was glad to make it back to Harrietville and the Ovens River as it was still 35 in the Ovens Valley, apparently a change is coming through tonight.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Mount Feathertop Day 2 November 1

Got to Harrietville a little later than i did the start yesterday, new that was best or me as waiting is not my strongest suit.
Gave me a chance to talk with few mates and also check yesterdays results, can't say i was too rapt with 1:16 when the winning time by Dave Osmond was 54 minutes and i was barely in the top 30, but i think that sums me up as a mountain runner sure i run mountains but it's like my golf i do play golf but if you then looked at Tiger Woods play you'd find it hard to believe we were doing the same thing and that's a bit like me against real "mountain runners" The Dave Osmond, Robin Rishworth, Greg Mandiles etc of the running world, if i ever need an ego check a race against mountain runners on mountains is ideal!.

Still the course was marginally different than my previous 9 years and in theory that should have been a help as we had an extra K or so to run along the road to the start as we were now starting in Tavare Park to avoid traffic congestion around the camping area.

Set off with Traralgon Harriers Richard Comber and Kathryn (who has run in the World Mountain running Championships), and was happy to let her go and run with Richard but once we hit the trails he was too good.

Strangely seemed a little less runnable than some years (i've probably been up Feathertop a couple of dozen times in all one of my favourite mountains), and seemed to take a long time to work up the speed to pass the walkers.

I was regularly passed by some of the faster runners and was happy to finally make it to Federation and be greeted by a perfect sunny day for the final assault on the top. Was surprised to find my old sparring partner Ian Twite in front of me, obviously i didnt recognise him as he passed me (giving me a 5 minute start !), and kept chasing him but ultimately unable to run him down, again vague with time something under 2 hours but that was about it !!.
Was thankful for jacket, gloves and bandanna at top although i admit eating snow was very thirst quenching as well great when leaning on knees getting it.
Now at least it was time for my fun part, the run down.
Tonight it's the Pasta Party and tomorrow Mount Hotham at least the runs are getting longer with Hotham being 15K's nowadays (and as usual i'll be the solo runner on the way back).
Very hot here as i type (i've been told 35), time to enjoy the Ovens River.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Mystic Mountain Day 1 October 31

Finally after 10 years i'd made i back to the Bright Alpine Climb (4 Peaks Race), and today was to be my mystery run, in previous years we'd done Mount Porepunkah, but now we had a uphill/downhill race at Mystic Mountain.

By memory this would be really steep, and the beginning confirmed my suspicions with a short flat bit then straight up !.

Eventually hit the top after a number of false summits (surprisingly with artificial grass where they launch paragliders - which is not the top !)and then downhill at the start very steeply then really beautiful downhill running, really enjoyed that as i had plenty left, was almost a shame when i hit the finish line.

Looking forward to being a tourist today and unfortunately i have no idea of my race time but will admit i'm in way better shape than i usually was after Porepunkah - bring on my old favourite Mount Feathertop tomorrow !

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Lamington Classic 24 & 25th October

Having been sick with a cold for the week following the Melbourne Marathon i'd pretty much been forced to rest and freshen up for this race.
At a distance of only 21.8K's each day it wasn't ever going to be a race i was going to excel at, so essentially i was going to make it a long training weekend running back to the start after racing each day.
Thing most in my favour was simply local knowledge, i'd probably run the total course a couple of dozen times over the years, even when i was in my 20's and spending a week or two on holidays up the Coast i'd inevitably spent one day there each trip, by now i pretty much knew the course backwards.

I arrived at Canungra at 8AM for day one from O'Reillys to Binna Burra but first of all it was the longer pre race event known as organising runners and lifts to the start line.
Firstly we were given our race numbers, mine was number 14 apparently our ranking as we had to start in groups of 10, rather surprisingly last years winner Peter Hall was ranked behind me so a little unsure how these actually worked !!!.
After a 50 minute drive (with 3 passengers as most people were running only one way and staying at Binna Burra) it was almost time for race start although at least i'd be waiting 3 minutes for the first 10 to head off.
I handed my camelbak in to get it taken to the other end (containing some food and clothes for the run back) and decided to just take my handheld and also wear a newish Headband (an orange "Foxtel" one that i'd been given by Brett Saxon with the warning "they are a little tight so put the logo around the back" i was to find soon just how correct that was !).
Took a while to get a rhythm going but seemed to soon cruising along, only then to be passed by Peter Hall (and another very strangely ranked runner Michael Page) from the group behind.
Soon i was running again against my own group and was passed by one runner and then repassed him on the steeper downhill sections, then Arnstein Prytz passed me i then thought i'd have someone to pace well against, but by then we hit the hard rocky section (as hard to run as i've ever experienced it due to lack of rain) and i fell behind rather frustratingly. With 5.8K's (by track signs) finally got going nicely and was content how i got home, even did 4 minutes faster than last year, probably helped by the warm conditions (as opposed to last years too cold conditions), although only in 19th place.
Tasty sandwiches and fruit (and a light beer) was enough to set me up for the run back (and having drank my whole 600ML of Sports Drink filled up with water), and also replaced a safety pin on the infamous Nike Free 4.0's .
Started slowly and wasn't really feeling that well, it then dawned upon me sure enough i had a headache, maybe that headband was too tight ???. Was happy just to make it back but around Mt Merino noticed it was getting very dark towards O'Reillys and soon thunderclaps proved the weather was deteriorating, ending up running hard the last 7.8K's just in time for lightning and heavy rain as i got back to the car.

Day 2 was much more relaxed as i could have a sleep in and then have the easy 45 Minute drive to Binna Burra for the 9AM start.
A few less starters so we split up into two groups (there had been earlier starts at 8:30) and i was happy to start in the first group and drop to the back of the pack. From then on it was the typical 5K's to get into a rhythm and then a struggle on the rocky section and then fly home passing many of the 8:30 starters and thankfully not being passed by the next group, personally i do find this as a much more runnable (and quicker) direction but was only 3 minutes slower than the previous day (with 44K's more in my legs !!) to finish in 11th place (and 11minutes faster than last year).
Pretty happy with that and curiously i finished 14th over all the same as my race ranking, so just under 4 Hours for a solid trail 44K's showed i was in good shape.
Still i had to make it back and again it was a casual 3 Hour run, if nothing else it'll be good training for this weekends Four Peaks in Bright (where finally i'll run my 10th, a task that's been 21 years in the making !!), assuming i have internet access i hope to update the blog after each day there.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Melbourne Marathon 11th October 2009

With my 24th successive Melbourne Marathon my next race i was stuck with a strange quandary simply i had no idea what sort of shape i was in for a race of that distance.
The previous weekend had been spent bushwalking on Fraser Island and whilst that showed my fitness it was hardly speedwork, i guess in all honesty my most recent speedwork had been doing the Warwick Half Marathon back in May !!.

At least the forecast was good, looked as though Melbourne was putting on good weather for the race, so at least it wasnt going to be a case of re acclimatizing.
I was staying with Robert and family at Chirnside Park so it was to be an early start with apparently no parking at the MCG and with a 7AM race start this (with daylight saving) seemed like a real early 6AM and meant i was up very early.
Ultimately as we drove past the MCG we saw that the car park was open so were actually there over an hour early, meaning there was even time for a high priced coffee from the vendors setting up stall.
Dropped my gear off at the Spartans Tent and decided with the slightly cool weather i'd stick to the Yellow Buff Bandanna rather than my headband.
It was then a 10 minute walk to the start and time to catch up with a few mates, a few nerves (as usual) but essentially i was going to have to run this one by ear.
For a race with over 4,000 starters was pretty happy to make it over the start line in 10 seconds or so but then found the next few K's to be simply a case of finding a bit of room to run and get a good stride going.
Once we'd headed off StKilda Road decided it was time to finally use a drink stop, but the crowds meant i took the easy option in Aughtie Drive and just grabbed a waterbag, not a great waterbag user but have more or less worked them out by now.
I hadn't taken much notice of the webpostings about the course changes (well i was hardly going to get lost in a field that size), but it was soon evident we'd be spending more time in Albert Park, not ideal but still the scene of my first Sub 3 back in 1991 so hardly too much of a drama, this also meant i got an idea where other runners were in relation to me.
Finally i was getting some good running room and getting a good pace up but could see the Sub 3 Bus was well in front so i was still going to keep improving if i was to get the result i dreamed of.
After what seemed to be just running loops we were then back out onto Fitzroy St and then down to Beaconsfield Parade now we were getting somewhere, and i was beginning to make up ground on some familiar faces, chatted with one fellow just before half way and i'd apparently made up 5 minutes since Albert Park however the split was 90.5 Minutes so i'd have to do what i've never done before and negative split.
Heading towards Elwood was feeling good but was bemused by the fact they sent us around the Elwood Life Saving Club carpark just to get some extra distance in !!!, still a little further on and a 180 degree turn and we were heading home.
Once i hit Fitzroy St i did my maths and wondered just how we were going to make extra distance up, by now my bandanna was being used as a headband only, sun was out and it was a glorious day, just wondered where the hell we were going !!!.
Once we got towards Aughtie Drive i was in for a shock a herd of half marathon (and i think also) 10K runners, not a few but hundreds, frankly i thought this sort of stupidity in race organisation had died out in the 90's when the last few K's of the Gold Coast Marathon would bring you upon a wall of 10K walkers oblivious to everyone around them so absorbed they'd usually be in conversation !!!.
Less said about from there and along St Kilda Road the better, i spent most of my time cursing inwardly and i'm sure if there were photographers about there would have been steam coming out of my ears, from being near 3 hours i was rapidly self destructing, plenty of energy but nowhere to move as i sprinted between runners often sideways, when would they be out the way ???, finally we went under the Arts Centre and back now on the Tan section we got our split, way too late to make up all the ground i lost but i certainly ran hard just to get the frustration out of my system !!!.
Down Domain Road and soon again back amongst the other events, more frustration, from then on it was sprint look for a gap and so on, no way of getting a good rhythm and very frustrating, eventually onto the MCG but even there we were running in big herds certainly i vented my annoyance by taking in the longest outside course and ducking in sharply when sent into finishing lanes, not a good way to end (and a time of 3:05:27 and 261 according to the Herald Sun two days later, still cant get the website to work for official online results ???).
Not sure what to say about this one, was pleased how i'd run myself into a position for a good time after an ordinary start but frankly once we hit the other runners at 31 K's that was about it, couldnt get a clear run and to some degree self destructed with frustration, think i've still got a fast marathon in me this year but not sure what that'll be (Marysville logically but not sure what the first time course will be like), having spent most of the next week in bed with a cold Toowoomba was ruled out, so we'll see what happens.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

DELXC 6 Hour Trail Race 27th September

After Glasshouse i'd taken it easy with plans to essentially do one race per fortnight, so with that in mind i entered a trail run based on a 6.5K trail just out of Warwick. I'd seen this advertised on when i'd got back from the US and after checking that it was actually going ahead reckoned it was the sort of timed race i'd be way more suited to than on a track.
With the AFL Grand Final the day before decided the best option was to drive (around 2 Hours) and camp the night before giving me plenty of time for a walk of the course the next morning with a relatively late 9AM start.
With a "cockatoo alarm clock" at 5:30 or so getting up in plenty of time was never going to be an issue !, so after breakfast i walked a lap of the course and was pleasantly surprised, essentially runnable the whole way with enough ups and downs to keep it interesting.
Not a large field in the solo race (8 runners) as well as a similar number in the teams including many familiar faces, but 2 weeks after Glasshouse and being a new event this was to be expected, i'd love to see this grow in later years.
It was still pretty crisp at 9 so i had the gloves and Buff Bandanna on, but had a bag with headbands and also GU and drink in the feeding area so that i could do any changes and toss off clothes when necessary.
Wasn't quite sure who was in each race but certainly Michael Page (in a team with Peter Hall) took off and i was pretty certain he wasn't a solo which was a relief, only one runner in the solo backing after Glasshouse, Rodney Ladyman and he was essentially using it for training for a 190K race in two weeks time.
Definitely found the course was as runnable as it seemed, however a cool breeze meant the back half was quite cold (to me at least) so the Buff and Gloves were going to stay on a little longer.
They were still setting up aid stations on our first lap, but really i wasnt needing a drink for only 6.5K's, once that was over i'd worked out that the only section worth walking was the only road section less than 500 Metres into the course, very steep and then really good runnable stuff so not worth the extra effort required to run. Was passed by a number of fresh team runners but was keeping up a very comfortable pace although at a guess was third of the solo runners.
Next lap was a little faster and i was beginning to work up a good rhythm only downside being i'd get warm the first half and think of removing my gloves and then cool down the windier second half !.
Third lap was my fastest (by around a minute) and i was making rough calculations of the distance i'd be looking to cover, i certainly had my eyes on 60K, as that would be relatively easy on a quarter mile track but definitely a challenge on trails.
By now i was leading the solos and also seeing less of the teams, although they often gave me something to chase.
Three more laps and finally i was ready to take the gloves off and swap headband for buff and it was getting warmer, there was a aid station (with electrolyte drink, water and fruit) around half way but by now i was appreciating another water stop around a mile further on (after some solid uphills), by now it was time to get a GU out as well.
Was now beginning to pass many of the solo runners so was feeling very confident although was disheartened whenever i got "windburn" from a team runner passing me !.
By lap 8 found the electrolyte drink wasn't quite doing the job, so got out my bottle of Gatorade and had half as well as washing down another GU. By this point i'd also gone through 8 Succeed Capsules, the ups and downs and not totally flat trails were gradually taking a toll on my legs but nevertheless i was still doing 40 minute laps so it appeared the wheels wouldn't fall off.
After 9 laps i new i had 60K's in the bag and it was just a case of how far, although i admit i wasn't quite sure how we were going to end as unlike a track race we could hardly stop in the middle of nowhere and get an exact distance. By my calculation i'd done just over 63K's when time was apparently up (not having a watch wasn't definitive but had a rough idea what the time was), and wasn't sure what to do, did slow down a little (and get a stone out of my shoe - the only problem with my Holey Frees being that there are plenty of spots for stones to get in), and cruised in to find i'd a total time of 6:07:48, first of the solo runners by quite a distance.
Pretty happy with that, i've done worse distances on ovals, so this definitely suited me and to top it off there was prize money and free beer (provided by local Microbrewery sponsors Bru4U), what more could i want.
As i rather superstitiously hadn't put the tent down pre race (after Mt Disappointment and the post race medical problems i'll never put at tent down until i'm sure i don't need it post race), meant i could actually stay around and have a number of beers (and some great spaghetti bolognese) and have a good long chat with the race organisers and helpers and then head back home the next morning.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Glasshouse 100 Miler September 12/13

With this year being the 20th Anniversary of the Glasshouse Trail runs (the first ever Australian Trail 100 Miler was held here in 1996 and my first in 1998, but shorter races had been held earlier), i was really wanting to do the 100 Miles there for the first time since 2005.

With a good 2.5 weeks since my return to Australia i'd had plenty of time to acclimatise and get back to something akin to normal (after all 3 weeks between races is a luxury i don't normally give myself), on the Friday i'd seen some of the course on the traditional pre race tour (which i was only able to make it for the last half), and funny enough by now there were many familiar bits, although i'm convinced that all 5 100 Milers i've done here have had different courses, but at least there were many bits i felt quite a home.

With a forecast for warm weather i'd made the decision to wear my race number on my shorts as then i wouldn't be wasting time changing numbers when i inevitably changed tops. For the first time here i had drop bags many of them had shoes as i wasn't convinced that the Nike Free 4.0's would survive another race this long (i'd had that same thought at last years GNW 100 Miler).

As well as various tops (singlet for the heat of the day, thermal top for nightfall etc), as well as cans of baked beans and similar luxuries in case i tired of the magnificent banquet that is the checkpoints at this event).

With a 5:30 start i was glad to find i didnt need my headlight to start with (though carried it throughout in my camelbak - just in case !), but with a 10K loop before heading back to the start decided the best way to start was with my other thermal top on over my long sleeved "Badwater Running Shirt" and only carrying my handheld before picking up my camelbak as well as wearing my gloves.

A record field of 35 headed off and those numbers were inflated even more by having the 100K runners with us, was almost surreal a Glasshouse start surrounded by runners so used am i to running by myself here and occasionally seeing another runner.

Ran very comfortable and was feeling good, perfect way to ease into the long day ahead, at the first checkpoint i picked up my camelbak and threw off my thermal top, it was getting warmer and i quickly put my gloves in my bag.

Next loop brings you up to the Mount Beerburrum lookout and this makes it much easier to work out where you stand in the field, i had pretty much the people in front of me that i expected (and again was camelbakless for a couple of K's as we simply went up and then down the lookout track).

Now it was time to just set the mind on the long run, as we would now be heading out onto the "real" course, first checkpoint and i couldn't resist a chocolate brownie a bit of sweet food was exactly what i needed as soon we would be heading to my least favourite part "The Powerlines", thankfully this was dry this year as when muddy the downhill section always feels like a greasy accident waiting to happen, still i this was one place where i'd use my non handheld holding hand to give me a better balance, some people are able to go down here like mountain goats unfortunately i'm not one of them and always lose time here, although was glad i had someone to chase with Terry just away in the distance throughout.

Strangest sight had to be an abandoned car half way down the hill, made me very thankful when i was on foot and this was reinforced when i saw a 4wd pulling another one out of a bog near the bottom, certainly not my idea of a fun Saturday morning. From them on it was a case of dodging around big puddles and the seemingly endless climb from the floor (with more downhills just to frustrate me when i was thinking i was reaching the end). One of the biggest goannas i've ever seen moved rapidly out the way in one section, i was just happy that with my flailing arms coming down it didn't mistake me for a tree.

Finally i made it out of there and it was more very familiar sections as i made it to checkpoint 8, now it was easy running time, off with the long sleeve shirt and camelbak and back to the singlet and handheld, as i was changing (and eating - what a banquet), Deb Nicholl doing the 100K came through she had already finished the first loop and was looking in great shape, continuing on an incredible run of form at Glasshouse the last year.

Always find 8A an easy run but maybe the loop was longer than previously as everytime i got to what i thought was a turn i found i had further to go, nevertheless i was in good shape and feeling confident out there. Back to the checkpoint and another feast (and drink some more Coke) and off on loop 8B certainly early on a chance for a breather before trying to make some ground up on the really runnable bits. By the time i'd finished this loop i'd seen Bill Thompson starting his 8A loop, so knowing his timing i guessed i was at least 4 hours under cutoff time, strangely reassuring !.

Another good feed at CP8 (loved those sandwiches) and as i left Terry caught back up with me, from then on we ran together but not together so to speak (he was often just in front of me or vice versa but never far away), at one point he stopped and pointed out a very thin and smallish snake, we both assume it was actually a legless lizard, much better to see that than some red belly black snake or similar (which ive seen in other years).

Enjoyed this section of the run although at times i felt i was adrift in sand, but soon we were at Checkpoint 7, quick drink and again dropped the camelbak and headed out for out 5K loop (in the early days this loop was run at night and always felt so much longer) .

Had some orange slices and some salted potatoes the days heat was taking it's toll a little and i'd already consumed 8 Succeed Capsules, much better to be safe as i had less than fond memories of horrific cramping in previous years.

We headed off and was thoroughly enjoying this stretch as i knew in a few hours it would be dark so was trying to get as much done as possible in daylight.

Checkpoint 6 again had a great array of goodies, so had a good feed and headed off again, just behind Terry, soon i came to the hardest part of this section although i must admit i was surprised to see Terry having a lie down stretching preparing for this (i always find stretching much harder on my body than running), we took off together and i was pushing hard as i really wanted to finish this part by dusk, the Frees were doing what they do best which is thump the heel down on the top of a downhill section and stick like glue perfect for here.

Was rapt to hit the dirt road and was soon at Checkpoint 5, was very happy with this as we were in before nightfall, perfectly timed as well as i had another thermal top and my back up torch in my dropbag here.

Had hot pasties and soup as once the sun was down it was noticeably warmer and also had a quick chat with Wayne Gregory (Blue Dog), who i was very surprised to see in a camp stretcher he'd had osteitis pubis problems, obviously seeing me made him head off quickly as they both disappeared into the darkening night.

From now on i knew it would simply be an issue of how well i could run in the dark, i'm fine on roads but give me a headlight (and in this case also a torch) and i'm next too useless, having to walk as i simply fall over anything that's marginally non flat.

Wayne and Terry flew out out of view but i simply kept to my game plan of just going smoothly and not breaking my neck somewhere on the dark trails, also meant i was passed by a 100K finisher but frankly i was dying to get to base and then onto the bike/walking path which i know backwards night time or not.
Finally made it and had a cup of soup and a good meal as i knew this was going to be my hard part although a number of people suggested i leave earlier.

Finally i was off and i was surprised to see Robert Hall early on the trail, had thoughts of reeling him after but thought he'd be way ahead, certainly his first 100 miler was causing him problems he hadn't experienced before. Flew through the bike/walking path and then onto Moffats Rd, this was all good stuff to me as it was the eastern section i feared in terms of time.
Headed onto the trails and for the life i me i could work out whether i headed straight ahead or took an early turn as i could see no arrows, that was to be my sole navigational mistake as i decided to back track and take a right hand turn eventually turning back again and bumping into Rob.
The original way was correct so i had wasted a couple of miles which was not making me happy still the Bruce Highway was close by so things were looking good.
Navigational errors are one thing, but being stuck in the mud !!! is something else, misjudged where it was dry near the Highway and after 6 foot steps i was bogged, panic set in a little and i tried to move backwards, but two footsteps seemed to take an eternity and i knew Rob was not far behind so i waited and got him to give me a hand out, first i had to get out of my shoes and stand by the side in my Drymax Trail Socks (i know i'm biased but these are the best trails socks i've ever had for a while there i thought i'd have to complete the race in them !), before i pulled my shoes out and put them on, suddenly my lightweight Frees were many kilos heavier.
Was quite happy to go under the highway through the creek as at least it meant my shoes got a wash, but was very worried that wet gloves and wet feet may have meant hypothermic issues soon, so was very happy to hit the next checkpoint where i got stuck into soup.
Off with the camelbak again as i went up to Wild Horse Mountain and back, now it was just a case of getting through the rest of the run and maybe a sub 24 Hour.
A little disheartening to see the leaders coming towards me, but still i knew i had this thing beat and it was just a case of being able to retain enough heat.
Next aid station was rapt to find a fire going as well as hot soup and i toasted myself, will admit i was not happy to be passed by Alun and then Dom with pacers (freely admit i don't believe in pacers except in cases where crew is compulsory - fires me up no end but usually the fact the runners are being paced means i don't catch them to get my revenge !!!), and was warm (and fired up !!) for something like 8K's shame the last 2 K's i was freezing again.
No question i simply had to thaw out again and that i did, probably wasted time but for mine it was well spent as i headed off for the other lap, again was good for 8K's and then the cold set in, no choice again but to cook by the fire and eat hot stuff as i knew now the worst was over and i was having dreams of Moffats Rd.
On the way back i saw Bill and Nick and calculated that sub 24 was still possible.

Last checkpoint i made sure that i had lots of warm food and now it was a case of get through the trails and sprint once i hit Moffats Rd as after all the legs were still very fresh after my easy night of walking.
Was very careful dodging my bog spot and once i hit Moffats road it was pretty simple run like a sprinter, ultimately i finished in 23:45:21.
My 5th finish from 5 starts in the 100 Miler and my second fastest time although ultimately in 13th place, as far as i was concerned i'd set out to do what i wanted to.
Looking back over a week later, i'm convinced this is one race i'll never run to my true ability, firstly me and the Powerlines is never a good mix but probably more importantly i'm a useless runner at night i actually need longer or tougher courses so that i have more of the next day to make up for those failings.

Still this one was for Uncle Cyril, who had passed away 2 days previous, a great bloke, a great fan and a great friend (i was wearing a black armband in his memory but long sleeve shirts tended to negate that), whilst he wasn't a runner he had done way more tough stuff than me as he defended our country against the invaders at Milne Bay in PNG during World War II, as well as a great sportsman keeping a scratch handicap for over half a century.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Badwater Interview on Channel 7 Brisbane June 2009

Now that i'm back in Australia i've finally had a chance to see my Channel 7 Video. I do cringe about the inaccuracies (there are a number starting with my age and going right through my employment status and the time i was hoping to do and various other things), however at least the pictures look good, don't know if it's just me but i hate my voice on TV !

A big thanks to Darren Curtis and all at Channel 7 Brisbane for at least giving Ultra Marathon running a TV presence and letting me tell my story

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Bulldog 50K Trail Run 22nd August 2009

With two weeks between races some people may have suspected that I was rested and fresh for the last race of my American Campaign the Bulldog 50KM Ultra at Malibu Creek State Park.
That was the theory but the fact was since Mt Disappointment i'd spent 9 days in Montreal, now I was told to expect cold weather and that i'd need to wear layers (rather difficult as i'd mailed a lot of clothes back home by now), what I come upon was a heat wave, whilst temperatures were only in the low 90's (30's ?), incredible humidity meant it felt way over 100 and pollens in the air gave me more problems than i've ever had before. Starting with a sore throat and escalating to sneezing coughing and seemingly a full blown cold. Not to say I didn't have fun in Montreal, went as far as Ottawa and the ski resort of Mount Morin (blessedly cooler on my last full day) as well as exploring the Old City and Olympic stadium as well as other trips shown around by Anna Maria (who i'd shown my sort of local place the Californian Central Coast to).
What it did mean though was I landed back in LA on the Wednesday, with a very sore throat and nose and sinuses blocked something shocking, it may not have been an actual cold but I was washed out so much that a 50K run 3 days later sounded like very wishful thinking.
At least back in LA (actually Calabasas only 3 miles from the race and 30 odd miles from LA City along the Ventura Freeway), it was consistently a dry heat, so maybe I could get my act back together in time. Wednesday was essentially a write off as I was jet lagged (getting out of bed at 3AM Canadian time – Midnight LA time) didn't help and by the time I got to my motel all I could do was sleep (and sneeze and cough).
Come Thursday I was freshened up and did the tourist thing going to Beverly Hills and Hollywood (and misplacing the car – all the backstreets of Hollywood look the same !), and exposure to sun and heat seemed to be doing the trick.
Friday I decided the best way to work out where I was running was to actually run to where the race would be, so I did and then ran a couple of easy nearby trails before heading back home, a good solid 2.5 Hour hitout and after a quick dip in the pool I was feeling reading for the next day.
I'd woken at 4:30 so that as usual I'd have breakfast (not my usual cereal but by now i'd grown begrudgingly used to American Cereals), but originally the plan had been to drive to the start, however a very mild morning made me decide that a better option would be to run there as the 3 mile run would be a perfect warm up as the first half loop seemed to be mainly uphill.
Arrived with a good half hour to spare, certainly the mild morning had potential to become a very hot day, just thankful we were only talking 50K's.
Large number of starters, the race itself was sold out but I assumed with a 25K (one loop as opposed to our 2 loops) our field would be noticeably smaller but with our race starting an hour earlier we appeared to have pretty impressive numbers (I was t find later that there were 185 Competitors Huge by Australian Standards).
With warmer weather it was time to retire the Buff Bandanna and go back to my old faithful red headband, so it was AURA singlet and my Nike shorts to complete my genuine summer ensemble as well as my Handheld with a couple of GU's and some S Caps.
Obviously I'd been here too long as I was starting to see the odd familiar face, including Deb the lady who had sorted me out in First Aid last time (was happy to see her at the start just did'nt want to see her post race again :-) ).
Soon we were off, local Guillermo was leading the way (race director Nancy had said early on that he was the man to follow as he did all his training here), and despite it initially being flat I could see quite decent hills ahead.
I'd settled in to a good comfortable pace but once we got into the hills I decided walking was the way to go as runners around me were not getting much further away and if I read the race notes correctly the first half was uphill the second half mainly downhill. First drink station soon appeared and all I really needed was a couple of cups of Gatorade was feeling good, from then on it was becoming hard work, clouds or smog were trying to hide incredible views but eventually I worked out I was looking at the Pacific Ocean and towards Catalina Island. After many ups finally some downhill and I cut lose for a while was chased by one fellow and we were having our own little war as we passed numerous runners, wasn't really sure whether this was good for me, but testosterone got the best of me.
Finally after a Brindabella like downhill section I felt the sciatic nerve giving problems, this could be interesting, after all I hadn't come all this way for a dud performance in one of my shorter runs, the next section was flatter and did my back more harm than good particularly on a creek crossing where I was desperate to keep my shoes dry (with a flight back in only two days), finally we finished our loop and if I heard correctly I think I was 18th.
Wasn't really looking forward to this second loop and I now new what was ahead of me and with the sciatica (or back or whatever) on bit of a razors edge I knew i'd have to run (and walk) a little smart.
By now I was in a pretty \familiar group and we'd been chatting for a while which at least took my mind of my pain, but I was also starting to get into my S Caps and handheld of Accelerade, so before the big climb filled the bottle and also had a biscuit and a hammer gel.
Walking wasn't losing me ground but it was tiring me as it seems to take more out than free flowing running on the flat so I was just making sure I had something left for the downhill by this point.
From the ego's point of view I was starting to enjoy the race as I was beginning to overtake the slower 25K runners and passing quantities of runners is always good. Next Aid Station I saw Deb helping out, we had a quick chat and I was off, didn't want her to see me looking pained again.
Finally i'd made it to the top and after a few hard rocky sections the beautiful downhill trails, now the question was whether I could hold my body together. Ultimately all was good and I chased down a number of the runners i'd been bunched with at the start of the second loop, but just in the distance was a fellow in a red singlet, just teasingly always the same distance ahead.
We were now back to the flat, thankfully the creek crossing seemed easier than previously, and I was soon at the last aid station, I knew I wasn't carrying much liquid but decided that instead of wasting time filling the bottle i'd just have a couple of cups of Gatorade as well as a couple of orange slices.
Really i'm not sure whether that was the correct strategy as towards the end I had my one gulp of remaining drink and then had a very hot uncovered section, seemingly going forever as we looped the carpark to the finish line. Ultimately I finished 17th in 4:58, to be second in my age group (sure enough the fellow in the red singlet just out of reach was also in my age group !!).
Now it was time to rehydrate and have pizza, as thankfully this was supplied.
After eating and drinking and receiving my trophy an hour or so had passed and it hit me I still had to get home, just thankful that I was offered a lift at that point I was still very flat (not as flat as the next day when I accidentally did a 8 hour hike through the Santa Monica Mountains but that's another story !).
By the time this tale is up on my blog i'll be back in Australia, i've typed this whilst recharging the laptop at LAX but with no internet access can't put online till i'm back home.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Mt Disappointment 50 Miler 8th August 2009

After last weeks trail run I was looking forward to a tougher course and a longer distance, as I felt that was really what I needed to get the best out of me.
As it happened there were two Californian Options the Headlands Hundred Miler
(and 50 Miler) just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin or the Mt Disappointment 50 Miler (and 50K) in Angeles Forest near LA. I was pretty convinced that a 100 miler so close to Badwater was going to be way less fun than a 50 Miler and I guess ego dictated I did the event where the 50 Miler was the major event.
As it worked out this was a good idea, as our road trip had continued another week and from the Castro Valley had gone down Freeway 101 and to places such as “The Pinnacles” (a US National Monument and very much like the Australian outback and having a fantastic hike requiring a torchlit walk through an underground cave) and Paso Robles before hitting the coast again and San Simeon and then Morro Bay, meaning we could hit LA via Highway 1 (culminating with a magnificent rising full moon over Malibu) and spend a couple days at my favourite South Bay places before dropping my travelling companion off at LAX on the Friday.
Reading Fridays emails it appeared the simplest way to get to the race start was simply to camp there, so with tent and sleeping bag I was fully prepared although frankly I was relying totally on my sat nav as I had no idea where I was heading.
After a beautiful drive up (would have been magnificent views except for the fog !), came upon Mount Wilson apparently home to numerous astronomy telescopes and huge power poles (and strange considering all the electricity etc around us no mobile phone reception), eventually quite a number of us made it there (although only three of us pitched tent, essentially the camping area was rocky car park) and we met the race director and got our race numbers and goodie bags.
Having brought food up with me I had no problems dinner wise but with no choice but a sloping campsite I did wonder just how I was going to sleep without rolling out (as the above picture shows at least my tent was sloping away from the cliff face !).

Good nights sleep except for the fact it had become really windy around 1 and later had got really cold, but was awaken by traffic controllers directing parking at 5:30AM. Bagels for breakfast (left overs from the previous days Hermosa Beach breakfast) and I then headed out, definitely cool so I decided to start in Moeben Sleeves with my Lululemon top as well as gloves and the Buff Bandanna.
Ultimately decided i'd be using my camelbak but instead of using the bladder would have both handhelds in it (as well as a myriad of energy food and clothing options).
Caught up with my Badwater Crew Matt and his girlfriend before race start and had our pictures taken and bit of a chat, I was my usual nervy self pre race especially on seeing it was a race with 100 odd starters (as well as another 150 in the 50K), a massive field to me.

A talk from race director Gary and then he called the Military (both serving and ex) Personnel up to lead the countdown (including former Marine Matt) to race start.
Apparently our first 5 Miles (all downhill) was now going to be road rather than trail as the RD had not been able to obtain a permit, no difference to me and to be honest a relief as a fast downhill trail start is not my specialty.

Had a chat as I ran with a few of the locals but I was really more focussed on getting to the trail section, absolute feast at the first aid station at Red Box, but at this point hadn't even given my bottles (filled with Accelerade) a thought was quite content just to use what was supplied.
By now the cold morning had warmed a little but I thought gloves were still the way to go as we finally made it onto some very nice trails. Was moving along nicely and enjoying some great views in this section and was soon at the next aid station (shortcut canyon) where I appeared to have my own cheer squad (not sure who was calling out to me by name was concentrating to much on getting up the hill).
Again a feast and I decided a Hammer Gel would top off real food quite well and also that I should finally drag one handheld out of the backpack as we were told it would be 7 miles to the next aid and noticeably warmer.

Lots of runners around me as at this point both races were still as one and really I had no idea who was in which, so every runner was a potential opponent.
Whilst the course was now getting harder i'll admit it was going by quickly as we got incredible views, the towering “Gotham City” of Los Angeles only 20 odd miles away looked incredibly different to the scenery around me but the view was so clear you could almost reach out and touch it !.

Spent quite a bit of time with another runner who'd done this before and he gave me a better idea of what the course ahead would be like. Another aid station and it was definitely getting warmer, was finally getting into my fluids and eventually decided Moeben sleeves and gloves were no longer needed, was actually beginning to work up a sweat.

Definitely getting warmer now and I was beginning to feel as though this would be a very tough workout so soon after Badwater as simply you can't tell just how well your body can handle heat so soon after an event such as that.
We soon hit the checkpoint that differentiated between the two distances, now there was only one way to go and I would be committed to completing the 50 Miler.
For a while we were now protected from the heat by lovely sheltered gullies, but soon I caught up with another runner who had done this before and gave details of what was ahead including the fact we would repeat some of this section on a 2 mile loop after the 28 mile aid station. It was soon after this that one of the leading runners suddenly popped out from off this loop and lead us the last mile into that aid station, apparently he wasn't even top 15 so it gave me a better idea of my standing at this point and a good reality check.
After a quick drink and fill up of my handheld it was off on the two mile loop, at least I now had a good idea just where I was going !.
Once returned we were told that the next section would not only be long but also essentially unshaded and hard so I filled both handhelds, and also adjusted my bandanna to make it more headband like as I knew i'd be sweating heavily soon.
A good section for me as I could see runners quite a way in front and could gauge that I was making good ground on them, however the heat was beginning to take its toll. Eventually we reached a turn which directed us to the next aid station manned by search and rescue, this one was a welcome relief but due to constraints in actually getting to it was not as well stocked and I was a little unhappy to find that only iced water was available (whilst water may be an acceptable beverage in the first 10 miles or so of an Ultra personally I find that after that it is way more of a danger than a help as it doesn't have the extra nutrients required and essentially is a waste of stomach space and a risk of hypnotraenia), in need of some fluids I reluctantly filled both bottles and headed off as I wasn't really sure just how far to the next real aid station.
Thankfully the next aid station at around 41 miles was only a couple of miles away so I tossed the remaining water from my bottles over my head and also made sure I had a lot of “real” sports fluids as well as Mountain Dew and Coke as well as a good feed on cakes and hammer gel, interesting warning sign as I left which mentioned that bears had been sighted in the last few days where we were now heading.
The next section appeared to be downhill so I was hoping to make up some ground on this part before the long haul uphill. Caught up with the fellow wearing the “San Diego Bad Rats” T Shirt who I had chatted with early on and I found that he had been to Australia and had been involved in the 2001 Trans Australia Race (as well as having “barhopped” with Aussie Multi Day legend – and now politician – Pat Farmer). We had quite a good chat which helped keep my mind off the long stretches of rough rocks that we crossed on river bed crossings, these were unpleasantly unexpected and I was finding these hard on my body.
Eventually I made it to the last checkpoint, this was the same one that we had seperated from the 50K runners previously and was a very long 2900 feet height gain over 4.5 Miles, this was definitely going to be tough.
Refueled but not really refreshed I headed onwards, I calculated that walking was pretty much the only option now as I didn't have enough left in me to run uphill.
At least we got to see heaps of runners as we were now catching up with the slower participants in the 50K's and certainly some of them looked quite distressed. By now I was pushing hard and breathing very heavily and probably due to this my sports drink was no longer really effective, instead of my body soaking it up I simply felt as though it was just sitting on my gut (I still blame the iced water section around 38 miles), so I decided that i'd risk dehydration and give up on the fluid intake and simply just look real bad at the finish line.
The last section seemed endless and by now I was feeling quite nauseous from the gut problems basically my main goal was to finish, at least now I had people to pass as many of the 50K's (I assumed) were now really suffering. Finally I could see some of the Mt Wilson Towers and my only navigational error an extra 100 metres towards the road, forgetting what colour marking tape I was meant to be following, with less than a mile to go.
Having sorted that out it was now simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and not cramping up (not having fluid that last section was always going to be a balancing act), finally over the line in 9:44 and 15th place, not to bad at all, although probably a little slower than my original aim.
My specialty of looking rubbish at finish lines certainly came to the fore and I was directed to the medical section where I was given soup and chips and soft drink, but typically for me I then had issues with getting too cold, so ended up under blankets shivering, don't really remember much of this (except for the kindliness of the medical stuff and also the fact they arranged a massage for me) as I was shocked to find 2 hours had passed when I returned to my car. A long day, now it was time for the post race feast of pizza, sandwiches and soft drink before the drive back down the mountain and accommodation somewhere (really wished I had left the tent up), but a very worthwhile one I was very glad I had done this race and look forward to doing it again some other trip.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Skyline 50K 2nd August 2009

After having done the Skyline 50K at Lake Chabot in the Castro Valley (not far from San Francisco near Oakland) last year i had been in a quandary as to whether i'd do this event again, i'd already entered the SF Marathon the week before and the Mt Disappointment 50 Miler the week after so really questioned whether three successive weeks so closely after Badwater was going to work. Ultimately i decided (one day before online entries closed) that i really needed a trail run before the 50 Miler as after all i wasn't travelling with my falling apart destructing Nike Frees.

During the week i'd been having a great road trip down the Californian central coast, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel and areas down to Big Sur, heaps of hiking as well as a bike ride from Monterey down past Sand City (one of my favourite places) so was either going to be ultra fit or worn out. Had made a motel at Monterey our base for 3 days and returned at dusk on the Friday, not quite sure what the problem was (microwaved soup or microwaved pasta ??? or the fact i'd got very cold before my return - always a problem warm days and always out just that little too long and then i feel the cold), long story short went to bed at 9 and at 10 the next morning i was told horror stories by my travelling companion of me doing "Exorcist style" projectile vomitting, couldnt remember anything at all but vomit covered shoes and very sore carpet burnt knees (from trying to make my way to the bathroom) gave evidence of the night i'd had.
Ultimately i turned our 11AM checkout to a midday checkout (takes that little more to return from the dead), but the thought of a 100 Mile drive to the race area was my idea of hell. Ultimately we made it to Lake Chabot, first thing i needed to remember was "where is it ??", so satisfied (and still braindead and weak) checked into a nearby hotel, my biggest wish being a good nights sleep and to wake up in the morning feeling "normal".
Ultimately i did wake feeling normal, and things fell into place, leaving at just after 6 (continental breakfast wasn't supposed to start till 6 but we got some early things) was at the race area by 6:15, plenty of time to pick up my number and check out the weather as i was planning to wear my AURA singlet (as well as gloves and Buff Bandanna) and only carry one handheld.
Pleasant conditions at race start, off hand in the 60's and pretty clear but as we moved out of the flat ideal running conditions towards the hills before Grass Valley i found it was getting quite foggy and the cold was biting into me.
Real good trails, nothing too thin and technical (an issue for me in my Badwater ASICS DS Trainers) but i was beginning to feel that cold, so had minimal liquid at the first aid station (think the handheld was going to last the whole way on the one fill), bit of a downhill into the valley and then some steep uphill towards Boort Meadow, a few runners in front of me but ultimately i was holding my ground well.
A very nice run down to Big Bear but then a long haul up to Skyline Gate, main issue being the many cattle on the track (i like steaks but being surrounded by them can be worrying). Once at the top we had done the hardest parts but in some instances downhills are harder and this was one of them, by now at least i was regularly passing runners (including the second place lady who'd already fallen twice), so adrenaline was kicking in and finally i was getting warm as we got out of the fog of the highest sections.
Incredibly well stocked aid stations S Caps, Mini Brownies, Fruit and plenty of other goodies as well as coke, mountain dew and sports drink just had to make sure i didnt waste time chosing.
Back towards Bort Meadow and it was just like a day on Aussie trails as we were surrounded by Gum Trees, had chatted with a few runners as i went along even finding a fellow a minute slower than me at SF Marathon, and just like last year was just picking out people in front and then "nailing" them.
Once past Honker Bay (maybe named after all the geese there ??), it was an easy couple of miles alog mainly sealed tracks and plenty of opportunities to run down people, although hindered slightly by the number of people now having a day out (very popular area as evidenced the day before).
Ultimately i ended up 12th in 4:40:49 shaving 9 minutes of last years time (although missing out on an age group placing by less than a minute - could see two runners turn just in front of me).
Pretty happy with that, no effects from the previous day and now i could enjoy the BBQ.