Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Running With The Devil 50 Miler June 27th

After a number of runs during the week and much time spent outdoors (was very thankful i'd found a running group in Henderson on the internet before leaving as it meant i could find places to run much easier as well as really enjoying being with them), it was finally time for race number pick up time for my 50 Miler at Lake Mead "Running with The Devil".
Hadn't been to Boulder City before or the Hacienda Hotel/Casino where the race numbers were to be given out as well as our goody bags (Great T Shirts !), was early so that i could have bit of a look around the area as well, but come pick up time me and a number of others seemed to wander all over the place before actually finding the right room (sometimes it doesn't pay to be early).
I had numerous questions for Joyce the race organiser, as everything seemed to be marginally different to Australian Races, particularly the timing chips held on by little plastic strips ???, eventually she also convinced me to buy a 24 OZ (and i'm no good at fluid conversions other than litres to gallons) bottle rather than using my 20 OZ UD Handheld.
Was too early to see see my Badwater crew Steve and Matt, who were coming for the marathon, so decided to have Walmart Macaroni Cheese as my pre race carbo load.
Early morning start (seemed to be sleeping in more than usual whilst in the US), meant i was up at 5 and by 6 was at Lake Mead for the weigh in.
Mystified by the scales, surely i wasn't 15? LB's ??? (70Kilos), still not a big issue as these same ones would be used when weighed later.
Decided i'd put the camelbak and also the 24OZ Bottle in the drop bag as well as numerous other bits and pieces so i'd have them if required at 16.5 Miles and 33.5 Miles.
Not sure exactly of the number of starters, at a guess 30, massive by Aussie standards (and with timing chips !), i was pretty much outfitted in all clothes bought this week, new REI Long Sleeve Top, New Nike Shorts, New ASICS DS Trainers, Drymax Ultra Heat Socks that i'd run in only that week only old stuff was the Legionnaires Cap bought for Badwater last year (and falling to bits, now needing a safety pin to hold the veil on), a bandanna from Badwater around my wrist (with plans to use as an ice bandana later and also my Trailwalker Buff Bandana around my neck (with same idea in mind). Had a GU in the handheld pocket and another one in my shorts as well as 8 S Caps (more of these in the drop bag).
Finally the waiting was over and we were off, i probably lead the first few steps but was very happy to relinquish the lead to other runners who may have known where we were going. Not sure of the temperature but at Boulder City at 6 it was 85, so i'm guessing a few degrees warmer.
A few undulations but was feeling very comfortable had quite a long chat with Brian from New Jersey (doing his second 50 Miler), was quite content just to run my own race with two leaders in the distance, so had settled very comfortably into 5th Place, although was disconcerted as two 10K runners flew past.
Had no idea where we were going but had great views of the lake and also of steep canyons by the side, was almost 9 Miles in and feeling like a local when i spotted Running Club Member Peggy driving along (thanks for that middle photo), spotting a familiar face is always good and i probably picked up a little pace. By now i had passed 2 aid stations and by number 3 was ready for a top up, the Heed they supplied thankfully tasted exactly the same as the one i'd been training with, also decided it was time for a couple of S Caps. Another pleasant surprise at the next aid station was seeing another runner from our group, Richard, with camera (thanks for the other pictures, the top one i took today looking toward Lake Mead).
After 15 Miles i'd worked my way into 3rd place, and at 16.5K, decided it was worth getting another stash of S Caps out (i'd had 4, i had two other bags of 8 in the drop bag), other than that i saw no point in changing.
A Cinnamon Apple Hammer Gel and a banana and i was off reinvigorated, giving chase to the second placed runner (first was out of sight), winding road with many up and downhills and it was getting warm, as well i had to keep on reminding myself to run on the side of the road as on the way out we had traffic going the same direction as us. By the next aid station i was in second place and just hoping to spot the leader (i was to find later this was last years winner Dan Kuch). Eventually saw him coming towards me still 1.5 Miles from the turnaround so i'd have been 3 miles behind !!.
Got to the turnaround and was 154 LB's, i'd lost 2LBs (i think), quite happy with that as i knew i hadn't hydrated fully on the way out, knew what i needed to do.
Ate a bit and instantly regretted having pretzels, suddenly my mouth was dry, at least that forced me to drink more.
Was happy to see the next runner a good mile and a half from me, so it was a case now of giving chase.
From then on it was getting hotter, initially used the buff as the ice bandanna but found it was a little tight so next aid station used the "real" bandana, was finding my usual Handheld still had quite enough fluid (usually a little left at each aid station), so there were to be no dramatic changes when i reached my drop bag, just a quick toss of the buff into the bag.
The odd Hammer E Cap (i'm guessing similar to S Caps) and bits of banana were my usual aid station food now, was feeling strong but was looking as though the only way i'd catch the winner was if he really fell apart (and anything can happen over this distance), by now i was around 12 Miles in front of the last runners.
By 35 Miles we were also getting Pepsi Cola at aid stations, a very pleasant change, although i was filling the bottle with Heed and ice each time.
Finally we hit the Marathon Turnaround, Matt was just arriving as i was leaving and as yet i hadn't spotted Steve. With the Marathon field now in sight (they started 3 Hours later at 10), i had a new spring in my step as i had plenty of people to chase, but my calves were now starting to feel a little tight so wasn't getting carried away.
Saw Steve soon after and then resumed my chase, was certainly putting away cola at the aid stations and fresh ice bandanas each time, it was getting hot (apparently between 110 and 116 ??). Decided that walking was the best option on some of the steeper hills as i knew there were plenty of downhills ahead to make up ground, by now there were marathon signs, half marathon signs and distance out signs so i had plenty of stuff to read to take my mind off it.
Last aid station and i was feeling it, i knew i wasn't going to win but also knew there was no point easing back as i wasn't going to look behind me, it was now a case of finishing and making sure i didn't damage myself for Badwater. Could see the finish line 1.5 Miles out and that energised me for one last burst, finally finishing in 7:47:40.
I'd suggested i'd be happy with 8 Hours, so whilst between 30 and 50 minutes slower than my usual time over the distance i was pretty rapt, time for a rest and more fluid and maybe yoghurt !.
Writing this a couple of days post race, i can say that after 3 hours resting i was finally back in shape to walk to the car, after that i joined Steve and Matt and their partners for the Buffett Dinner at the Hacienda (had been so tempted by the Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood Gig at the MGM, but ultimately decided my body wouldn't handle along time sitting or standing and a big crowd could have been an issue.
Next morning i was fine (as i fine as i could be after listening to Richmond being throttled by StKilda via internet radio), a lazy morning by the pool was in order.

Really good race, a big thanks to Joyce and her helpers, personally i think it was the perfect Badwater leadup positioned perfectly datewise before, i did see a number of Badwater starters but apparently many opted for the Marathon, i guess time will tell just who was right.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Before and after !

You can tell when it's getting near race time, i start losing hair (obviously it's the stress :-)), it took me a while to adjust to the beardless look but now no hair and no mo i think i'll be looking at mirrors in shock for a while yet !!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Greetings from Las Vegas

Having just returned from a 2 Hour run in what various temperature guages here show as being somewhere between 105 and 108 degrees (ie low 40's), thought it was a good time to update the blog with a race coming up this Saturday.
3 Days in LA seemed to be enough to get my body clock back into normal time and each day i'd head off for a 2 hour run and because of my inimitable ability to lose myself it would end up being a 3 Hour run (it's fine knowing the names of streets the problem is sometimes i had no idea which way i should actually head).
Whilst i could quite happily live in the "South Bay" area of LA have to say that the weather this time was rather disappointing, it was actually cooler than back home and despite annoying winds 2 of the 3 days the smog simply didn't lift.
I actually ended up with a sore throat from it, which really wasn't what i was looking for. Friday Night at least was time for some fun of the musical variety.
Shari had a gig with her other band "Blues Bettie" www.bluesbettie.com, and were the first support act for guitarist Eric Sardinas at The Coach House (www.thecoachhouse.com) at San Juan Capistrano, a good hours drive away and ultimately meaning a very late night. Great night and the place was packed, seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere but i guess that way there are no neighbours to complain about the noise !!!.
Shari, as usual, was great and her band of 8 horns (there were trumpets and various other wind instruments i couldn't name) really worked well together although i was hanging out unsuccessfully for an original song rather than all covers, still an hour later and i was wanting more.
Ended up next to relatives of the next act Brenda Harp and was having a chat with them for a bit, Brenda too was good, only Blues singer i've ever known to be accompanied by a violinist, few covers (including a U2 song) and some original material.
Next on was the main act Eric Sardinas, pretty straight forward him doing guitars and vocals, a bass and a drummer, good performer and really good guitarist but as tends to be the case with singer/guitarists did tend to get get carried away with guitar solos at times.
By the time this was finished it was 1AM, so didn't make it back till the Beach till 2, hardly ideal for the long drive to Las Vegas.
In short, as anyone having read this blog previously would know i really don't like Las Vegas it's just too over the top for me, however thankfully i'm staying out of town in Henderson (20 miles away ??), a place made for running with heaps of tracks, and also Sloan Canyon walking distance away. Having planned a little ahead i've also found myself a running group, so can do my main heat training in the middle of the day and then join them for an hour run of an evening (or Sunday morning as was the case this week - where those pictures are taken).
All is good so far trainingwise especially now the weather is heating up for Saturdays Running with the Devil 50 Miler.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Time to be a nomad now !

Tomorrow i fly off to the US for Badwater.
Above is the race number signs i'll have this year (a change from my graffiti type ones last year :-)), thanks to Drymax Socks (http://www.drymaxsocks.com/index.php )
Actually it's more like a long solo running tour (freely admit it's not the same without Trans France or Germany this year).
I've got a week of acclimatization around Las Vegas and then the
Running With The Devil 50 Miler (http://www.calicoracing.com/)on June 27,
it's then 2 weeks to Badwater, just how i spend that depends really how well i feel i've acclimatized after that race.
A week and a bit after Badwater i'm doing the San Francisco Marathon (http://www.runsfm.com/) on July 26, i may possibly do the Skyline 50K (http://www.skyline50k.us/)the week after (really enjoyed it last year just not sure where i'll be), but i'll be back in LA for the Mt Disappointment 50 Miler
(http://www.mtdisappointment50k.com/index.shtml) the week after.
The Bulldog 50K(http://www.trailrunevents.com/bd/index.htm)on 22nd August will round off my trip as i manage to squeeze in one last race before i return.
I'm hoping to keep the blog fairly up to date, and will probably have extra non running posts simply so i know where i am when looking at photos later.

Of course all that, in theory, means i should be in good shape for the Glasshouse 100Miler when i return, time will tell i guess.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Mini Kokoda 29KM 14th June (was it a race or a long training run ???)

Having not been able to go to the chiropractor during the course of the week (he was on holidays), i hadn't done much training as i still had back problems after last weeks fall. I'd decided that seeing i'd see him the following Monday i was better off simply doing the only race available this weekend. The 29KM Mini Kokoda at Numinbah Valley, bit of a nothing distance for me but as someone who's done much training here (usually from Binna Burra to Springbrook on the only tracks i know), was interested to see what other tracks were available out here, for training later in the year.
Every time i'd gone for a short run during the week, the body didn't seem quite right so it wasn't until Friday arvo that i finally bit the bullet and put my entry in.
Waking on Sunday morning at 5 i was glad to find it wasn't quite as bitingly cold (yep i must be getting soft - back in the days in Melbourne our Gold Coast cold snapped would have been looked upon as quite mild) as the previous few days, but i'll admit that i struggled to get out the door by 6 after breakfast and a read, sometimes these shorter distances just don't inspire me.
Arrived at Numinbah with 15 minutes to spare but was shocked to see a paddock with over 100 cars parked, being the training run for the Kokoda Challenge next month there were hundreds of people there.
Ultimately this meant the start was delayed (i assume not having a watch with me) as i queued for quite a while to get my timing chip (another surprise), even saw the odd Ultra runner, John Lindsay (nowadays a grey nomad) and Nic & Mallani Maloney, as well as Ultra Legend Don Wallace there as a pace leader.

Decided i'd stick with the Buff Bandanna and keep the headband in the back pocket of the Tri Top as it was still pretty cool, with water carrying compulsory decided i'd take the handheld with fruit cup cordial mix, all being well 600Mls would be quite sufficient for 29K's.

Ended up leaving with the second group of runners to set off, in theory a good idea to start at the front but was soon dodging the people from the first group, will admit i was finding this frustrating but realised this run was more for the people training for the actual event (and in teams) rather than us individuals wanting a fast hitout, so just put up with it.

Finally some good downhills gave me some space and i took off, shame i hadn't looked at the course map the day before, as i came to a T Junction and looked for orange tape and headed right, surprisingly people free early on, with one runner at my heels, after a couple of creek crossings he said to me that we were accidentally on the second loop but may as well continue and restart. I had a vague recollection of 7 creek crossings at the race briefing but having not looked at the course didn't realise we only covered them in one of the loops.

Ultimately we took about 80 minutes to get back to the start line, at least now we were going to have a good long run undindered by teams of walkers. Was chatting with my fellow navigationally challenged runner for ages but have to admit i still don't know his name, just that he's done the Kokoda Challenge before.

Finally made it to Checkpoint 1 just as they were packing up, actually had Don Wallace coming back towards us by that point we were that far behind, after a while going up the steep hills towards Pollys Kitchen i finally started to run into teams of walkers and also to get a number of people running towards me, i've never seen so many walking poles in my life, it was reminiscent of hiking in Europe, certainly all these people were keeping me on my toes as i ran as acrobatically as possible to dodge the logjam of people in front of me, thankful for wearing the old Nike Free's but also wondering with all the creek crossings whether finally this may be there last stand.

Finally made it to Polly's Kitchen, by that point i'd only drunk half my bottle so didn't bother about enquiring about a top up, something i'd begin to regret later.

Was amazed to see just how many were still making there way down as i was heading up, definitely a very hard track to run on and a tough course i was certainly beginning to feel that extra loop in my legs. By now i was out of fluid and was thinking i'd get some at the next checkpoint however was directed to the nearest tap which i couldn't find, so decided i'd take a drink from a creek later on.
Ran/walked with Brisbane runner "Radar" for a while as the trail here really left no passing possibilities and decided i was better off saving myself for the parts i knew well.
Finally back to the road and a wider track from then on just kept passing people, my biggest worry being weather my waterlogged shoes would actually hold together until the finish line.
Typically i never did have a drink crossing creeks, was usually approaching them and i'd look bemusedly at people trying to get across without getting their feet wet as i just charged through enjoying splashing through the water (if ever people wanted evidence that Ultra runners really don't grow up they've only got to watch me the 45 year old little boy !).
Caught up with John Lindsay and his Kokoda Team on the uphill stretch after the creeks, finally somewhere that i could make intelligent comments about navigation and where we were with regards to the finish line. Chatted for a while but decided i'd better finish this thing off as soon as possible, was definitely feeling thirsty and fatigued as my run now would be closer to marathon length, much longer than planned.
As usual i enjoyed passing people, seeing that Peter Hall had introduced me at the start as an Ultra runner gracing this event last thing i wanted was alot of non ultra runners beating me (no idea if any people had recognised me from the interview on the previous Mondays Channel 7 news but part of me just didn't want people being able to say "i saw that bloke from the news today i beat him !").
Finally finished in 5:15:11, way behind Don Wallace in 2:45 and way behind any time i should have run, take that first loop 80 minutes off and even then 3:55 was nothing crash hot, i'd certainly paid for running that extra distance, although 72nd place of 469 actually doesn't sound that horrific.
Interestingly after post race Hamburger and a chat with a few others the cold really got to me, ended up needing to turn the heater up to full blast on the drive back, obviously i'm ready now for the heat of a US summer, now only a couple of days away.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Gold Coast 100KM June 7, 2009 (National 100 KM Championships)

After what seemed like a long layoff since my last race (a whole two weeks, admittedly with some pretty heavy training mileage), it was time for the Gold Coast 100KM race, always an important one to me firstly because it's the national championships, but also it's always around my birthday date so always a chance to give myself a present money can't buy.
This years race would actually be one day after my birthday, so would be my first run as a 45 Year old, maybe an indication of the rest of my year if a good one, maybe something to improve on if i wasn't happy with my performance.
Having the 12.5KM turnaround just down the road from home it meant i'd run laps of this course countless times (as well as in last Decembers' Kurrawa to Duranbah 50K), so not only knew the course intimately but also knew that it could be very hard mentally as at times you'd spend time dodging tourists and cyclists and families out for the day, not to mention the inherent boredom of a lap course, Laps 2 & 3 would also be the testing ones.
I ended up with a number of runners staying with me in the "Kelvintorium" (as it was dubbed last year when i had 6 running guests), but with the World Championships in only a couple of weeks time the field was not looking as full and neither was my house with only 3, Lachlan Fraser, Michael Lovric and Malcolm Gamble, nevertheless we would go on to make over %20 of the field.
A big issue was always going to be the weather, the storms had settled down since the big waves etc, but still we'd been getting heavy rain at least daily, often with dark clouds coming out of the blue, so imagined at some point rain would be an issue, temperature wise though it was looking perfect.
Arrived at Kurrawa at 5:15, plenty of time to get sorted and it was looking a really good day, only 18 Starters in the main event, but cloudless skies meant it looked that once the sun rose we'd get some beautiful conditions.
Pretty easy to see the main contenders, Jackie Fairweather seemingly a certainty for first woman and to my mind a big chance overall and Terrence Bell a big chance as top male, with Wollongong runner Tim McKenzie also in the mix, although i wondered whether inexperience (third Ultra start), may count against him, i was certainly there somewhere but really my goal was to run sub 9 and maybe PB if all went well.

Cool to start so started in the Lululemon top (it's probably done enough race K's now to run by itself), Buff Bandanna and gloves, with the theory i'd ditch them after one lap. 1:49:55 the first lap, within 5 minutes of the leaders and feeling very comfortable, decided the gloves and top were no longer needed, but discovered i'd left my headband at the drop esky at the turnaround so kept the Buff on. Pretty much running dressed exactly as i train now (not always with the buff though) and couldn't help but feel at home and comfortable.
Did the headband change at 37.5K's and also decided that instead of taking a big swig from my Gatorade bottle i'd carry it till i'd emptied it, at this point i'd just been passed by Jackie, but i was feeling good, however once out of the tunnel that is Jefferson Lane i noticed big black clouds, to me that 3rd or 4th lap was going to be real wet.
Best said i'm not a weather guru, within 5K's it was raining heavily, was just hoping i wasn't going to pay the price for running topless as the rain was a little cold, best thing being that recently these sort of storms had been short and sharp.
Sure enough we only got 5K's worth of rain and it had actually done us all a favour getting people of our paths as they scampered for shelter.
As i approached the turn around it was as though the rain had brought on a urge for a toilet break, so with two toilets just behind the turnpoint decided i'd just keep on going. This was to be my mistake, with only one toilet (not a block) i noticed someone approaching them so sprinted, not a good idea on wet Kurrawa Park grass as i found that when i tried to stop i had no brakes and ended up flat on my back, right on the tailbone, not good.
Did what i needed to do and headed back off, was still in good shape time wise, just under 4 Hours (and only 2 minutes slower than my winning time at the 50K and within 20 minutes of the leaders), if this fine weather kept up i was thinking i could make up good time, but was wondering just what affect my fall would ultimately have.
It winded me a little but all seemed fine, but by 60K's i was beginning to feel back spasms, at 54K's i'd managed to drop a GU when getting my Succeed Caps out, so knew i had this awaiting me (with luck) on my return, made it through to the turnaround but was now feeling the odd sharper pain radiating out of my hip.
I discovered a new way of opening Gu's, my dropped one evidently had been run over by a car (i was using the road not the beachfront path) and it had split in the corner, i'd barely lost any and just got gravel off the corner.
Certainly that 3rd lap hadn't been good to me and i turned in 6:23:30, almost 50 Minutes behind the leaders now, it was now a case of just holding it together.
got through the next lap a little warily as did ocassionally feel the odd sharp However coming to the 79K mark the wheels fell off, back spasm also went right down my right leg and i simply couldn't move, Struggled through to the 80K aid station and had a banana and creamed rice and for a little while could run, but reaching the Goodwin Tce aid station was back in pain. Thankfully Brett Saxon was there and knows massage, maybe it helped although any casual passersby may have thought Gordon Ramsay had arrived early the langauage that came out of my mouth as i got that massage (if it hurts it is usually means it'll do you good ????), Tamyka gave me some Nurofen as well, but it was to no avail, after being almost 3K's in front of Mal Gamble at the 75KM turn he passed me around 83K's and powered up the hill to Burleigh Heads and disappeared into the distance.
Had a couple of spasmodically pain free running moments and made the 87.5K turn thinking i may be able to hold the run together for a while. That lasted till around Tallebudgera Creek (91K) but from then on i was struggling to do much more than walk, was absolute hell coming down the steps from North Burleigh and very relieved to hit the 95K aid station and have a banana. Forced myself to run as i was positive Milov's footsteps would appear soon, and ultimately made it in for 5th (a few minutes behind Martin Edwards, who i'd passed coming out of 75KM and had then repassed me when i was on road and him on track - and four minutes in front of Milov).
Disappointed with 9:19:46 as it meant i was almost a minute per K behind the winners, but this just had to be one race i simply survived and i did.
Still back problems this week (and my chiropractor not back till next Monday), so have taken it easy, however with the 29KM "Mini Kokoda" in the Numinbah Valley on Sunday i will have one last hit out before heading of to LA on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Warwick Half Marathon 23rd May

With 10 inches or so of rain in the week between Glasshouse and Warwick, i had done minimal training, in theory a good idea for this my shortest event for the year, however the little training i had done had worried me as my calf rather than improving was getting worse. I have a fair idea of the exercises from when i'd been to the physio with issues in late 2005, but basically once running and trying to go faster than usual i was feeling pretty lame, although pre entered i was tempted to give this one a miss.
Ultimately Friday lunchtime i decided i'd book accommodation down at the local boarding school and drive down, i'd run a little (and been side tracked by the huge surf brought in by the storms) and felt the calf was less sensitive than it had been.
Arrived down in the dark, was a little worried to find the Condamine River (pictured) was over the road, possibly our course would be modified this year ???.
Was great to catch up with some friends for dinner, although the less said about the service the better, one positive feature of this meal, it was icy cold so when i ordered i mentioned i'd have a nip of Bundy, to my surprise that was supplied gratis, maybe i should have quit while i was ahead.
Absolute saga finding my accommodation as i'd been giving a key which said "Roberts House", a number of buildings there and none lit up !!, so it was door to door and fit the key, unfortunately they were all keyed alike so it was a case of finding a dormitory with mattresses and blankets etc in it !!.
Eevntually Michael Schultz (another Brisbane runner, he'd given me the key at dinner) turned up and we made our way to the correct building (which actually wasn't Roberts House !), heaps of room and good, cheap place to spend the night.
Throughout the night i'd heard rain, so got up with trepidation, definitely looked pretty bleak, still we wouldn't be out there too long.
Off to the start and caught up with lots of familar faces, decided to wear my gloves, but thought that anything more than a singlet in a half was really whimping it, though i did decide the Buff Bandanna was the way to go again.
Drizzle at the start and our course avoided flooding but more or less the usual, ran with Ultra Runner Martin Schott for a while but he was moving too well for me, the calf simply wasn't warming up and because of this just couldn't get a good pace going.
Rain would come and go, but was actually good conditions, finally 13K's in i seemed to find a rhythm and enjoying the undulations started passing runners although by now Martin was a dozen or so in front in the distance.
Put together a good last 8K's, although i was shocked to see previous winner Peter Hall catch up with me (he should have been far ahead), we had a quick chat (him saying that he was finding it as hard to run 5 minute K's as to run 3.5 minute K's, neither i which i could relate to if honest !!) and then he took off, i wasn't chasing him down !!.
Ultimately Martin was crossing the finish line as i turned the corner a couple of places in front with Peter in between us.
Later i was to find i'd done one of my slowest ever times 1:33:08 for 51st place (54th place was a spot prize, i was definitely there sometime in the last couple of K's), not happy but really not to unhappy the calf was in one piece and i'd had a good solid hitout, two week break and then for my local favourite the Gold Coast 100 KM.

Glasshouse 50K's 17th May

With a field of close to 50 in the 50K event at Glasshouse i was almost destined to feel crowded after the previous weeks run.
Whilst i really think 50 Miles is my best distance, starting a race at 3AM and needing a headlight the first few hours just doesn't do it for me, so was happy to front up at 6AM for the 50K's, still meant an early start seeing that i like my breakfast at least 2 Hours before.
Once the sun was up, it was looking a great day, no strong winds like last year, just a nice still day with a prospect of warmth later.
Michael Page and Keith McKay took off fast and i was quite content just to follow, leaving the others behind, after a few K's i ran with them for a bit, but at this point was trying to get a good rhythm going and they were just a little faster than i was comfortable with. I was a little worried about my calf, stupidly on the Friday i'd done a session of hills around Elanora and around 3 Hours in decided i'd do one more, not a good idea as i was a little fatigued and it seemed just one hill too many, so was deliberately taking it easy.
Different course this year as i was surprised to see the lead two (as well as numerous 50 Milers) coming back towards me when i was approaching the first manned checkpoint. Ann Raftery and Di Schott were there and had beautiful chocolate slices, not really a distance requiring food but those things are irresistible !, turned around and then i could place where the next two runners were. All was good until then as the trails were relatively good underfoot but it was soon to change with the dreaded "Powerlines", Ian had found a new track onto them so that we would be having trail bike issues and ultimately this was an easier course but seemingly went on for ever, it seemed much longer. I was now beginning to have problems as i was needing to use the legs (and hence putting pressure on the calf) to go up and down dried mudslides, definitely not having fun, was passed by Arnstein and Ross the next two runners who were doing it much easier.
Finally off the Powerlines and the strained muscles (calf muscles connected to hamstrings ultimately to stomach) meant i wasn't feeling great at all, at least i knew exactly what was ahead of me. Ran down from checkpoint 8, and saw a number of the 50 Milers coming back towards me, quick chat and off, by now i realised i really needed to empty my stomach, so headed off trail as i was approaching a group walking the course as Kokoda Training, did what i needed to do and felt so much better for it, maybe now i could make up some ground. Loop 8A, seemed longer to me, but simple fact was i had no one within sight so possibly wasn't running that hard, back up to the Checkpoint and then a loop of 8B and that damned hill, best part downhill to the Checkpoint again.
By now was in good shape and i picked up Arnstein and Ross between there and the next checkpoint, and kept on passing people in other events, certainly keeping me motivated. Ultimately i was just over 4 minutes behind second placed Keith in 5:02:44 but a long way behind Michael. Pretty happy with the run, but wary of the calf, a dip in the Woodford Pool at the end pretty much being the equivalent of icing it.
Lots of socialising post race as i knew there would be many people i wouldn't see again till September.