Crossing Over to the Dark Side- My Ultra Blog

       

 

Race Day- 10th September 2011

  I felt good, it was cold, bitter in fact, my type of weather. Coming from Victoria five years ago, I have improved with running in the heat, but my preference is still chilly, sunny running. Had breakie at 4am, then to Anton’s at 5 and we headed to Beerburrum together. Met a few Lazy Runners there who were doing the 30km and the only whinges any of us had were how bloody cold it was, the wind chill was bitter. Also I found out 30mins before we started that the 50km was actually 52.4km…too late to back out now, but I knew that 2.4 could just do my head in! 

Started at 6.35 , ran with Anton for about 500metre and then did my usual pull away. He believes in starting slow and I like to get off to a normal start and see where it takes me. I was determined to get this race right. One thing Anton has taught me about trail running (especially ultra-trail running) is be prepared and leave nothing to chance. My theory was take three swigs on the drink bottle every 15mins and eat every hour on the hour and I set myself a goal of trying to run for 2.5hours and then if I ended up sliding into the gutter after that, so be it. I know, all very anal, but it does  distract from the tedium of just running for 6 hours and it keeps you focused.

Not only that, beside checking my watch every 15mins, I also had to look in the trees for white ribbons continually, look to the ground for white arrows or a white unbroken line(that’s a bad thing as it mean you have gone out of bounds) and make sure you get to the check point and get your number checked off,  and no the check points do not go in order, we had seven, and they were all random numbers like 2, 1A, 4, 5, 6, 5, 1A , 2…my God, I’m only a runner not a mathematician with a degree in cartography.

The thing that amazed me and scared me a little, was how soon I found myself alone in the bush. I would look behind me, no one coming, and not a soul in front of me, just me looking for ribbons. We were told if we didn’t see a white ribbon after 10 mins of running, we were lost and should turn back, so you can imagine the stress when I would get to 9 and a half minutes and no ribbon. I was frantic, but they always seem to turn up, just when your stress levels were at breaking point, a lovely white ribbon casually blowing in the breeze, ahhhh relief again for another 10 mins!

I was still running at 2 hours and feeling good, that means the hills had not started yet. Just as I was thinking I would reach my 2.5hour goal, I turned a corner and saw my first hill/mountain. These hills are not just your normal path, or track or grassed hills. The best way to describe them; imagine the entire machinery fleet of Rio Tinto had just gone up and down them 10mins before you arrived at the bottom. The have the largest craters and crevices, in fact some of the ground cracks were hills in themselves, if you tried to run in the cracks you could hang onto the ground either side to keep your balance….I may not be explaining this very well, but My God they were tough and steep and nigh impossible to run on.

The up hills were boulder like so it was like running up rock faces, however once again you need so much concentration to deal with the terrain, you didn’t think much about the pain, and remember the white ribbons were still at the forefront of everything I did, so it was like crawling around on the ground and trying to look up at the trees, Goodness know what type of running form I was exhibiting at the time.

When I headed up my first hill like this, I was lucky that a 100miler (160km) entrant came along, I so wanted to have a chat with one of these guys as I felt that I was bordering on mental with what I was doing, so I really wanted to talk to someone who had obviously tipped right over the edge to insanity. He was  young and fit and a solid build. He ran it last year in 24 hours 15mins, and he was back to break the 24 hour mark (see what I mean about mental, he was coming back to do it again!!). I asked him how much training he had done, he said ‘I did 30 a couple of weeks ago’, I said “OMG 30 hours’, he laughed and said ‘no way 30km’. 30km is all he trained to, I couldn’t believe it. His theory is that he runs a lot in the Glasshouse Mountains, every week in fact, but he doesn’t worry about the long distance stuff. He claims you can’t train like that for the 160km, you just have to run lots of trails all year round and then trust in your ability and get out and do it. I asked him about sleeping, he said ‘no you don’t sleep, you stay upright the whole time’, but he said there were parts of last year’s race he can’t remember, he thinks he may have been having nano naps while he was running! All I could think of was how many white ribbons you would miss on a nano nap!

After he left me, I was on the 16km loop of pure toughness. Every hill was just as I described above, there was no flat, no levelling out and the main question was do I get down and run in the crevices and gullies or try to balance along the sides of them, and hope I don’t fall in; and then on the uphill the choice was, try slipping and sliding on the boulders, or run to the side hanging onto branches and tufts of grass.

It was at this point that I felt very small and very alone. No other runners were coming through and my obsession with the ribbons was at fever point. It was very scary but to be honest really exhilarating at the same time. My training had all been with Anton, and I am a self-confessed follower; I just ran behind him and trusted him to know the way and get me home, even if we did split for a bit, one of us always waited at the top of a hill for the other to catch up. But I knew no one was waiting for me now, I knew to succeed I was in charge of getting myself out , in charge of my own safely, and of course my own destiny…very dramatic sounding I know, but it really was empowering...it was all up to me, to get out of there and finish this race.

Now, just when you think that was pretty bad and how much worse can it get, along came the trail motor bikes. You could hear them before you saw them and they came in groups, up to 10 at a time. So not only did I still have the hills and gullies to deal with, but I also had to be aware that loud large motorbikes where trying to get past me as well. One guy did a dramatic crash just in front of me and came off, his bike went sliding down the hill, I had no idea what to do, so I just kept running. I was at the point where it was all men for themselves, better him than me, was my theory.

At the base of a lot of the hills were large pools of muddy water from all the rain the previous day, mostly I could run around them, on one occasion, I was running down a hill and there was a huge mud pond at the bottom, and then I heard one of the bikes coming down after me. I ran as fast as my little legs could carry me, I thought for sure he and I would meet the mud at the same time and I know who would finish off the worse for wear out of that encounter…it just goes to show that even after four hours of running you can run fast if you have to.

Four hours in I was so over this 16km loop of hills, a girl ran up beside me and said the tough stuff was nearly over, when we get back to Checkpoint 5, it should be fairly easy from there with about 10km to go. Her and I ran for a while together. However I was desperate for a whinge, I kept looking back for Anton, hoping he would have caught me by now, as he is much better in the rough stuff, but he was nowhere to be seen. I asked a couple of runners how they were feeling and they said things like ‘Yeah not bad, feeling pretty good’ and I would think, ‘oh go away you’re no good to me”, I needed to have a whinge about that last 16km of hell, tell someone how terrified I had been, whinge about the bloody motorbikes….Bloody Hell Anton, where are you?

Check point 5 was like a mirage in the desert, the best thing I had seen out here. They had my favourite race drink, Coke. I never drink coke, ever…except… if I see it at a drink station on a run, and I think in my 25 years of running I have come across it three times at drink stations, I downed two cups and then grabbed three strawberries, got a few stones out of my shoe…asked the marshall how much further, he said about 11km and thought Ok this is it, time to turn yourself into an ultra-marathon runner.

The last hour was hard, the body was Ok and I was still running, but the head was sore! I wanted it to end. The last 10km were on a great course, but I couldn’t enjoy it because I was over it. A saw a couple of quick moving little brown snakes in the last 5km and I thought, Ok the motorbike never got me, maybe a snake will ruin my party! The best bit about the last few kms (on hindsight!) was that I thought I had another checkpoint and drink station to go, so I was thinking come on, it must be soon, I was getting to 5.45 on my watch and thinking I’m not going to get under 6 hours as I have another checkpoint to go through. I saw and heard the train go past me and I knew it was very close to the town, I came around the last bend and saw lots of cars…and the school…I was so obsessed with the white ribbons and chalk arrows that I thought I had mucked it up and gone the wrong way…I took a chance and ran through the school car park and then I saw the best sight, Vicky waving to me and telling me I was going the right way…and there it was the finish line! What a great feeling to finish after 52.4km by yourself in the bush and see all the Lazy Runners waiting for me and cheering me on.

 

I was desperate for a cold drink, and once I had that I was fine. I felt good.

It was great hearing how the other runners went, the white ribbons were the downfall of some of the runners (i.e they got lost) but everyone finished and was pleased with themselves, and it was great to see my running buddy and coach cross the line not far behind me as well.

 
 

I sat in the sun for a while and finally got to tell Anton all my whinges, a bit belated, but still good. TRAQ provide you with great hospitality after the runs, you get a BBQ, drinks, cakes and fruit. But after all that running the stomach isn’t really up to a big hamburger just yet.

Got home, had a spa and showered and was feeling pretty good, when David broke the bad news that he smashed my Ultra Mug. All you get to show for running 52.4km is a big mug with a mountain on the front…and mine was broken!

 
 

 

The day after I feel great after a good night sleep that was full of white ribbon dreams; body a bit stiff and sore, and letting me know that I did something quite unusual yesterday, but I have felt a lot worse after shorter runs, so I am quite pleased

The amazing thing about this Ultra training and adventure is what it has taught me about myself and my running. For 25 years I have been a self-confessed road runner, I am ruled by my pace and clock, all my training was all geared to a time and an event and the PB I want to get.

The best thing I did was ask for help. I am the best coach around! But even I can learn from a master…I asked Anton to train with me, and help me run my first ultra-marathon. You will know already by reading my blog that the training doesn't all go smoothly. I couldn’t understand his methods...going slow, walking (unheard of for me) conserving energy, fuelling up, drinking litres out there, having respect for the terrain and distances. I just thought, run the kms do the training and you should be right.

The major things that I have learned about ultra-running and myself over the past 9 weeks

  1. Suck it up and do as you are told
  2. Listen to someone who has been there and done that
  3. There is running and there is Ultra trail running and the difference is huge
  4. Plan your run
  5. You need to drink and eat out there, all the time...so sort that out
  6. I am so much tougher than I realised
  7. Respect the terrain, 22km is not the same as 22km on the road; last Wednesday a 22km run took us 3.5hours!
  8. When Sir Isaac Newton...said ‘What goes up must come down’ he was talking about gravity, not bloody forest hills. I went up lots of hills and they never really came down.
  9. To Be prepared...it is so easy to get lost on the trails, I would never go out alone on a trail I didn’t know
  10. This is something I have always known and preached, but I saw it truly work over the last 9 weeks….Training really does work…If you do the training you will succeed, and you have nothing to be fearful of on race day. However, you need to train for the race you have entered. If you have never done that race, then find someone who has and ask them to train with you or to set you a training program. I would of never taken the approach that Anton did and yet I know now that his way works and that is because he has been there done that.
  11. Listen to race instructions ...very, very carefully
  12. I have to change my Lazy Runner mantra now to Everyone Can Run/Every Runner can run and Ultra Marathon!

Footnote: I have to go right back to week one. One of the reasons I took on the ultra is that I had got a bit slack with my running and fitness. Sure I could run, run marathons in fact, but I wasn’t pushing myself, I was always in my comfort zone and I didn’t have any running goals to keep me motivated…so I took on the challenge of the Ultra marathon

I checked my body composition before I started and I was a bit surprised to see that even though my weight was the same and I was still running several time as week and quite a few kms, that my body fat reading was creeping up, in fact the highest I had been in several years…this morning, I checked it again for the first time in 9 weeks

9 weeks ago

Weight 64.9kg, Body Fat 33%, Hydration 47%, Muscle Mass 33%

Today

Weight 63.9kg, Body Fat 26%, Hydration 48.4%, Muscle Mass 36%

More Proof… training, goal setting and getting out of your comfort zone does work

So there is no more to say, except thank you all for following and supporting me with words of praise along the way…and a huge thankyou to Anton, who took me from a humble road runner to the an Ultra Trial Marathon runner.

 
 
Week 9-Party Time
  I have a strange approach to my event training. I whinge, moan and struggle all the way through and then when I get to the final long run and complete it, I am ready to party. Crazy, because I still have the race to go (in this case my first Ultra marathon of 50km in the Glasshouse mountains), I should be worried, nervous, running away!

But my theory is, after that last longest run, that’s it...there is no more I can do. I’ve done the hard work, ran the kms and all I have to do is get up next Saturday morning arrive at the race start and run.

After that it’s anyone’s guess how I will go, so worrying is not going to help me. I have similar feelings to my first marathon (10 marathons ago), in that I’m heading into unknown territory so the best I can hope for is to finish, which is my goal. Naturally I have other little wishful thoughts in my head, like finish under 6 hours, not fall over, beat Anton etc…but I’m not going to mention those things here in this blog, because how embarrassing would it be to tell everyone and then not achieve any of those things!

I have been so lucky over the years of coaching Lazy Runner. I have met some fantastic people and I have had the best running buddies. Over my last few marathon efforts I have been able to train alongside Lazy Runners, we have run for miles and miles, and had plenty of laughs, whinges and I am sure they have all loved my nice long chats!

Everyone has their own idea of a good running buddy and what best suits them and their way to run.

At the moment I have a perfect one for me...Anton. He fits my running buddy bill for all the right reasons. I am not a leader; I’m a chaser, so my running buddy has to be a bit faster than me (not too fast though) which Anton is. I am not good in the bush or trails and Anton is good, so I know I am safe in there, and he will end up getting me out…eventually! I have to be the designated whinger. It is no good having two whingers it just wouldn’t work, we probably wouldn’t get to 5km without chucking it in. Therefore, I nominate myself as the whinger and the other person has to just listen and nod and give lots of encouragement or in Anton’s case just tell the whinger to ‘shutup’. And most importantly, like me he has the gift of the gab, so we can both ramble on for hours about innane nonsense! You may ask how you can continue to talk to someone whilst running for 3, 4, even 5 hours or more…and I do admit that usually in the last couple of hours only two lines are repeated…they are ‘Come on Marie’ and ‘Shut Up Anton’ in that order…hey but at least the lines of communication are still open! However, like all great relationships, there are faults and it’s not perfect…well really what I am saying is Anton has faults and he is not perfect.

For Instance- When we arrive together (we usually pick each other up) at the start location, I like to jump out of the car and start running, I hate hanging around and I just want to get started so I can get finished. But oh no, not Anton. Usually he is wearing an outfit over this running gear (God knows why), that all has to be taken off and neatly folded and put in the back of the car. Then he starts arranging all his bits and pieces he is taking with him, I swear I have seen brides get ready quicker on their wedding day than he does to get himself organised for a run.

Then he starts off slowly, a bit too slow for my liking. I’m cold, I want to get moving to warm up, but oh no, Anton is still adjusting all his bits and pieces, checking and rechecking. He also feels the need to stop at every T intersection or sign in the parks, and have a big discussion about which path we should take and why…so he is a bit of a time waster…And he is a nagger…you’re not drinking enough, you’re not eating enough, I need a laugh cant you fall over again…it just goes on and on.

On our longest run the other day we got lost, not his fault of course (I just rolled my eyes when I typed that), just ended up taking the wrong turn. Luckily it was all downhill for 4 kms, when we realised our mistake, and thought oh no we have to go back, we looked at that hill and thought stuff that. However, we had a problem, poor David was to meet us at the halfway location to run back with us, and we didn’t know where that was. So off comes the back pack, out comes his mobile (in its own little plastic bag!) and next thing he is on the internet (thrilled with the reception he was getting) , then ringing David and arranging a new meeting location. This was too much stuffing around for me, we were 2.5 hours in and I was fearing I would lose my mojo if I stopped, so we headed out onto the road, another big conflab at the next T intersection, we thought Right to head back to Kin Kin….we ran for another hour before Anton asked a guy in a ute, were we heading in the direction of Kin Kin? This guy a typical country lad, said with loud surprise  ‘KIN KIN…nahhhhh mate, you are nowhere near Kin Kin, you are just out of Gympie, it’s around the corner’…’GYMPIE’ Anton and I said together in disbelief…we had run to bloody Gympie.

 Long story short, David who had been driving around for two hours looking for us, finally picked us up on the Bruce Highway heading into Gympie. We then had a big problem, we had been running for 4 hours, we needed to tack on an extra hour, too far to run back to the bush, and I didn’t like taking my chances on the Bruce highway in the hot sun. So David took us back to Anton’s car and we all decided to run back through the bush for a half hour in and back, but for once I got my second wind and ran in for 45mins.

Once again my pheromones were picked up by a big brown dog, who decided to run with us for the last 1.5 hours. I was really worried about the heat though, all the growling and panting and tongues hanging out…but that's enough about Anton and David…The dog was fine thank goodness.

Five and a half hours of running (and that doesn’t include the 10 minute car ride), the longest I had run ever…and I felt ok...lots better than the 5 hour run I did a couple of weeks ago. It is always a great relief when your last long run is OK. But full credit to my buddy, I took on board all the things he had been nagging me about over the past 8 weeks and finally did what I was told.

Anton said I need 100 calories every hour (apparently four jelly beans over 5 hours just doesn’t cut it), so I took an energy muesli bar, a Bellis fruit bar, jelly beans and fruit chews, Every hour on the hour I got out my snack and ate it, I usually did that when I was walking up a hill...so I could keep moving but still eat. For the first three hours of this run I had bad stomach pains, which is so not me, I have the worlds best cast iron gut. It was driving me crazy, but now when I think about it, it wasn’t such a bad thing. I had to slow down because if I strided out the pain got worse; I just had to take little steps so I must of conserved energy. I didn’t feel at all like eating, but I kept making myself and I think the digesting of the food made the cramps less severe, and because they were annoying me so much they masked all the other usual aches and pain I am plagued with. I only had one thing to worry about...running with a pain in the belly. The best thing was that once the pain disappeared in-between 3 and 4 hours, I felt so much better, I had conserved lots of energy so I finished really strongly.

My last full training week went like this

Wed-5.5hour run in bush

Thurs-Easy 5km with LR

Fri-7km with LR

Sat- 7km with LR

Sunday (Tommorrow) -14km very hilly run…Crazy Lazy Run
Then one week of tapering…my favourite thing to do

My running plan this week is a two hour bush run on Wednesday that I plan to enjoy, a few runs with LR and then a nice easy 50km Ultra next Saturday!!

 Week 8
Another unusual combination, tropical holidays and ultra training, do they mix?…read below to find out…

On my first morning in Bali, I thought I should (and even would like to) go for a run, we were staying on the beach so it did look inviting. At 6am, pre dawn, I stepped out into an air I haven’t felt in about 4 months, a thick, sticky humid air.

It is commonly believed that everyone has pheromones which are very individual to each person; it’s like a scent, that is picked up by others and can be a very primal form of attraction. Many people are attracted to each other just by the scent of the other persons sweat.

I learnt a few years ago when I moved to QLD that I must have been standing in the canine line when God dished out my pheromones. Humidity causes me great distress when running, I sweat profusely and over the last few summers, I have noticed a few dogs have got very excitable when I run past, or if they are locked behind gates I can hear them whining and howling at me (or for me).

Then there was my drama on Fraser Island when the dingoes chased me into the sea and wouldn’t let me out. It came to a head last Summer when I was running up Gyndier Hill in Noosa by myself, when an older gentleman and his dog (who was not on a  leash) were coming the other way. Once the dog (I soon learnt its name was Honey, the most unsuitable name for a dog who looked like Mike Tyson) ran past me, she high tailed around and began chasing me up the hill. I was so scared, I was trying to run faster, Honey was gaining on my ankles with teeth bared and her poor master was going ballistic at her. I could feel her breath on my skin and I thought that’s it, I’m a goner, when a long tongue came out and licked my leg, I stopped running and by the time her master appeared, she had licked up and down both my legs, and I must admit it felt pretty good.

That made me realise that my sweat had certain chemicals, that attracted canines. I retell this story, because I was only 10 mins into my run in Bali, and the familiar discomfort of sweat stinging my eyes began and my running gear sticking to me. I got down on the beach as I thought it may be cooler there, it was, but I felt I was breathing pretty heavily and noisily until I looked behind me to see at least 10 stray dogs following me. I think they thought I was a fountain, as every time I turned my head a spray of water sprinkled them; some were even leaping to get a taste.

It was a pretty embarrassing sight, but at least I thought if I decided to relocate to Bali, I could easily get a job as a pied piper and lead the stray dogs out of town. Luckily for me they got bored with all the running, but one very dedicated pup followed me the whole way. I ran out 45mins and back in 46, and discovered a couple of important things, take a drink when running in Bali and I’m not looking forward to the QLD Summer.

Second run in Bali was the next morning at dawn, this time took a drink, stayed up on the coastal footpath and had a goal of running out for one hour and back for one hour. The first 40 minutes where great, mostly on paths and road, but then of course I ran out of coastal path and thought, ‘well I will turn this corner and see where it leads me’, that exact thought has got me to where I am  today...a marathon runner training for an ultra marathon!

Every time  I turned a corner to see where it lead, I always got lost, so had to run further and further each time, it wasn’t long before I realised I could run a long way, when I was lost and looking for home ….it was no different in Bali.

I soon realised I may of gone a bit too far when I was running past rice paddies and cows with bells around their necks and I was starting to get some strange looks, not from the cows, but the Balinese villagers (come to think about it though the cows were giving me the stink eye as well).

I turned back when my watch hit the hour, now comes the easy bit, just run back the way you came! My aim was to get to the beach, but it just vanished on me! After an hour and not knowing where the hell I was, I thought I had better ask for help. They tell me 95% of the Balinese people can speak English, unfortunately for me the other 5% were out and about this morning. I even tried a pathetic charade of me swimming, which would of looked pretty scary to the locals, but they just shook their heads...more running, more sweating, more finding non English speaking Balinese, when finally I ran past the Bali Bombing memorial in Kuta…aha, a landmark I knew from strolling around the day before, two minutes to the beach, half hour from my resort…3 hours later I made it back!

I thought I should have a couple of days off running when I got to Ubud, a mountain village. On day one in Ubud I walked for four hours and on the second day rode a bike downhill for three hours (yes down hill!), sadly by the time I had done all that I was up to the last day of my holiday.

Saturday morning in Ubud, 6am, me lying in bed with a million reasons why I shouldn’t get up and run today, here’s a few of the million

‘This is your last day and you have done some form of exercise every day, in some cases hours!’

‘When you get out of bed now you will not get back into bed for another 36 hours!’

‘You are back at work Monday so this will be your last lie in until after the Ultra on Sept 10th

‘It’s David’s birthday and you should be here when he wakes up’ (yes I know, they are getting pretty lame, but the fact was I had bought him a packet of 5 ferraro rocher chocolates, and I was really worried that he would wake up and eat them all whilst I was out running)

‘You are on holiday for goodness sake’

Yes I thought , lots of good solid cases for staying in bed. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to ignore the other voices in my head…’you are supposed to be up to 7 hours of running this week and you have only done 4.5’, ‘You have two weeks to go from today, do you think you are ready?’’

Agggghhhhh, bloody Ultra training! I pulled the blankets back, got my gear on, this time took water, hotel card and money for taxi (I am learning) and crept out into the Bali dawn (which was pretty amazing). I ran 45mins out, once again my canine friends came along for some of the ride, and 40mins back (don’t know how that happened). I must admit that I felt a lot better for doing this run, it got me up to 6 hours of running, but better than that the Ferraro Rochers were still intact!

I have my last longest run next Wednesday; I am so looking forward to that one!!

Week 7

Talk about the highs and lows of running!

On Sunday I ran the famous City2 Surf, in my best time of 69 mins (14km),I  powered up Heartbreak Hill like a woman possessed. I put that success down to my hilly, long hours out on the road training for my Ultra. At last I was seeing some positive results from all the hours of pain!

But as usual with running, the euphoria quickly evaporated, and the dread of my 5 hour run that was due on Wednesday was weighing heavily…It started off badly, when I received a missed message from Anton asking me to ring him…that can’t be good! He wanted to change the time of our 5 hour run, some lame excuse about taking the family to the Ekka, I’m sure he was just responding  to the call of the Dagwood Dog. I know now that I can’t do this on my own, and I was running out of time to find another day with an extra 5hours for a run!. His suggestion was slotting it in from 5pm to 10pm on Wednesday evening, which left me all day long to stress and worry about it.

Once 5pm came, my attitude was ‘come on let’s get it over with’. It started with running to the park, Anton suggested one loop while it was still light, then he thought another loop to get more off road running in, halfway through the second loop, in the pitch-black, we stumbled across two very pretty but pretty stupid English backpackers roaming about the park in the dark.  They were a bit scared and lost...Anton thought he had gone to Heaven, I just thought...how stupid! They asked could we take them back to the entrance, I said ‘yes, if they ran’, bugger it I thought, I have been stressing about his run all day, I’m not sabotaging it now. One of them jogged along behind me, with her oversized handbag, and inappropriate shoes, but Anton’s girl, had trouble keeping up. Any way we got them back to civilisation, my girl asked where the nearest pub, she said ‘I’m going for a cider, do you want to come?’….I haven’t had many regrets in my life, but I think turning her down was one I will carry with me to my grave!

We finished in the park and ran along Sunshine beach in the dark, I must admit it was pretty amazing, by the time we got off the beach 2.5 hours had passed and I felt good, so good in fact that when we hit the road and started heading towards Peregian Beach, I thought this is going to be Ok. WRONG…the footpaths were hard and it undulated all the way, by the time we turned at Castaways, both of us were not looking or feeling so good. I kept thinking ‘get back to the park and then only one hour home’, but I was deteriorating quickly, not so much my legs, but my head was very much over it. I thought the park may revive me, but no such luck.

 However to my dismay, Anton’s Dagwood dog must have been on slow release, as he started to have a second wind, I kept waiting for mine to come, but I’m afraid 4 aniseed jelly beans is no match for the Dagwood, and my energy levels were dissipating  fast. Even a stunning full moon, all the way along the coastal path couldn’t revive my spirits. Once out of the park and knowing I was 7km home, didn’t help, the legs were turning over , albeit very slowly, but the pain going through my head and the rest of my body, was just getting worse and worse.  Noosa Parade stretched out in front of me and all I could do was just follow Anton, and watch as he grew smaller and smaller, as I got slower and slower. When I stopped at my house it was 5 hours 23 seconds on my clock…the longest I have ever run in my life.

Although Anton is a true Alpha Male, even he had the sensitivity to say nothing, and I think he knew he would have one very frustrated, tired, blubbering idiot on his hands if he tried to say anything about the previous 5 hours of hell.

I went inside and was greeted by my son Jon (he had eye surgery in Perth a couple of weeks ago and is recuperating with me in Noosa). Now that he is a half marathon runner and talking about maybe running a marathon, he was very excited about this 5 hour mission I was on.  He was in the roll away bed in the lounge room waiting up, as I staggered into the room…how ironic is that, my 23year old waiting up, and me staggering in!

I relayed the whole sorry saga to him and then headed upstairs, for the shower, it was 10.30pm and I had to be up at 5am for LR in Mooloolaba, if ever I wanted to take a sickie (which I never have) it would have been the day for it. Two Voltaren and off to bed!

The next day, I couldn’t believe how well the body was. Five hours of running and a bit stiff but nothing compared to some of my runs and marathons that have been a lot shorter. I went for a big leisurely bike ride with Jon (I swear the bike riding has been the best recovery for me after these long runs) and then Jon drove me to Brisbane (thank goodness, I even had a snooze!) and I ran a nice slow 5km there with LR and I felt really good…physically… mentally I was still shattered. My thoughts were basically… What am I doing? Why am I doing it? And I don’t want to do it anymore!

 My coach rang for a debrief, and he did point out a few home truths that  believe it or not, I do plan to take on board! I do not drink  or eat enough when I’m out there. I know I should, but I don’t feel like it and sometimes it makes me feel worse or a bit sick…I’m a bit like a spoiled brat out there, Anton has a smorgasbord stashed in his back pack, and he is constantly saying, have a jelly baby, and I’m ‘no I don’t want a jelly baby’, have a macadamia, ‘no I don’t want any nuts’, have  a drink from my camel back, ‘no I don’t want anything from your stupid camel pack’...get my drift…I must admit, I do spit the dummy quite a bit! However, we both agreed to put a submission into the TRAQ organisers to maybe get a Dagwood Dog vendor on board for their races, he could just push his little cart up hill and down dale, and we could grab one whenever we wanted…we thought that was a bonza idea.

Anton also pointed out that I run too fast on the road, using all my energy and then tiring too quickly. He is right, I am so slow and hopeless through the bush and he is such a gun in there, that once I hit the beach or road, I take off, I guess I feel I am making up for lost time, but he is right, I still have a long way to go, and I need to conserve my energy.

At this stage I don’t know where I am at now with my ultra-training...sure I ran 5 hours, but could I run for much longer? Anton says the 50km in the Glasshouse will take me 6 hours or more, and after Wednesday I cannot see me doing that, more to the point, I dont want to see the finished result of me if I do finish it!

However, I do like to try to find some positives after a horror run like that, and I found three

Highlight 1

Once it gets dark in the park, I just follow Anton. His camel pack has three reflecting lights and his shoes have one each. So after four hours of running the other night, all I did was put on foot in front of the other, and followed those 5 lights, I got mesmerised, even hypnotised by them.

Then out of the blue on the way back through the park, the little lights started jumping about all over the place, it got me out of my trance and I soon realised…he was going to fall…’oh Joy I thought he is going down’. However, after a few dramatic stumbles, he managed to stay on his feet. I know, not very exciting but after four hours of running, it was enough to  crack me up, I laughed for about 5 mins, so it did break the pain for a short time, and I still live in hope that he will hit the turf one day!

Highlight 2

After I said goodnight to my son Jon,  turned out the light and started the slow climb to the bedroom, I heard him say ‘Wow five hours of running, you really are a legend’, thank goodness he couldn’t see me hanging on to both banister railings and taking one step at a time...but it’s good to know your kids can have some admiration and I felt a little bit of pride, that he thinks that is mum is pretty amazing, and not an absolute raving lunatic (which is how I felt)

Highlight 3

I ran for 5 hours!

Week 6

I would have to say I am was very happy with my ultra training this week. I was not looking forward to running for 4 hours on Wednesdasy, but in my mind I knew I could do four hours of running as I have run that long before, so there was no fear of the unknown, its next week that I dread, 5 hours of running, this it unknown territory to me!
I felt a change in myself this week though, its like the effects of training for an ultra have kicked in....two words dominated my week..Tired and Hungry. Basicly if I wasnt feeling tired or asleep I was ravenously hungry! I wake in the middle of the night (3am) and discuss with myself if its too early to get up and cook breakfast...then I tell myself, it I do that what will I call that meal that I must have after the LR sessions at 7am, could I get away with calling it morning tea, so does that make morning tea lunch? If I keep moving everything forward, I guess I have to slip in another meal, we could call that supper! Which would take me up to 6 meals a day, any wonder I'm tired, that a lot of work just to organise my meals.
Long run - 4 hours with Anton, we ran from my place in Noosaville to the top of Timberwah Lookout, 15km with 7km of that going up a hill, we were pretty happy when we got to the top, then ran down and went into the forest at the back of Tewantin, got lost in there for about an hour, found lots of new paths to run on. Then we had 45mins to go and got out of the forest, with empty drink bottles and back to civilisation, conrete paths and blistering sun! It was 9am by this stage, and we had already run for over three hours and the sun was pretty high. We were like a couple of little dogs, trying to find the shade and a tap, which we finally did at a football ground. The run back was tough, but we even managed a big finish along Gympie Terrace. I do have to credit to my little running buddy, he had ran a marathon only three days before he did this run with me, and I really dont know how he did it, I think my talking for four hours along the way helped him through it!
My other runs were all LR runs that involved tired, heavy legs...6km on Thursday, 9km Friday and 9km Saturday...hoping for a good run in City to Surf today , that rounds my week off with a hilly 14km.

 Week 5

Well I achieved a trifecta in my training this week, my third fall of my Ultra training! Once again in the bush, but this time a good fall (if there is such a thing), I went down as if I was diving onto one of those water slip and slide mats that my kids had years ago, however, as there was no water to make it slip, it ended up being a dirt and sand slide, but so much better than crashing into rocks. I did coming up eating dirt, but that is sweeter than spitting blood. As usual I jumped up very quickly and looked back to see if Anton saw it, and he had that ‘you call that a fall’ look on his face, he was most disappointed, but it goes to show you can train yourself in anything, even falling better!
This was during my 3 hour run, that was partly ok and partly torturous, but Anton assures me that is what ultra and trail running is like, you get comfortable and then around the next corner is the unexpected. In my case on this run, shocking hills, that had a sandy base, so it was half hour of really tough resistance work and because I had already run 2.5hours my head was over it, it was one of those finishes that just got worse and worse! We got to nearly three hours and I was following Anton, and I wasn’t sure where we were, it was sort of off track on the off track, but then I saw normal road, it was Viewland Drive and I thought 'oh yes, turn left and downhill back to Hastings street'. It was like a mirage and I was so tired my head obviously was playing tricks on me…I must of forgot who I was running with, and then a blunt reality check kicked in when I saw him turning right, up Viewland drive, heading to the look out. 'OH Come on'..I thought, he said quite pleasantly, remember this hill, ‘Of course I remember this bloody hill, I’ve driven up it plenty of times, and measured it (in my car!) and made the Noosa runners do hill repeats on it’….but of course I had never run it myself, why would I? Not only did I drag my sorry butt up the 1km steep winding hill , of course he had to take me down the other side and then back up again, all the while saying, 'remember this one too', 'yes this one the Noosa runners did hill sprints on', I used to call it bucket hill, because whenever I did this session, I would think, oh I should bring a bucket with me, as some of them seem to need one… I felt like I was Ebenezer Scrooge meeting the ghosts of Christmas past, except I was meeting the Lazy Runner Hill sessions of Noosa past…and Oh dear it wasn’t pretty….A long time coming I know, but Anton finally got his revenge for himself and all the Noosa runners who I used to make run up and down those hills hundreds of times…. Finally we made our descent into Hastings….I was so happy we had done it, but it does make me worry about what is next…4 hours next week, followed by 5 hours…I am really heading into unknown territory now, which is a little scary.

So all up- 11km cross Country last Sunday (was to be 22km, but a man down, not the usual woman down, cut it to half)

Wed – 3hours, we don’t count kms in trail running, just hours!

Thurs and Friday-  easy 6km and 8 km
Today- 1.5 hours road run, with a 7km up hill thrown in. David said if I ran up to the top of Mount Timberwah Lookout (15km) he would meet me up there with a bottle of champagne...I've never moved so fast to get the running shoes on!


Four weeks to go- so far body good, recovering really well from the long runs, which is unusual for me, I tend to suffer more after runs than during them

Looking forward to trying to belt the City 2 Surf 14km next weekend, with the Lazy Runner tour, I figure after all this tough running,  a 14km road run should be a breeze…however, I have a four run with Anton 4 days  before that, so if I survive that, bring on City 2 Surf

PS. I registered last week for the Ultra, so it really is official!

Week 4
- Last Sunday I made the decision to soldier on and continue with my ultra training, and run the ultra marathon (50km) in the Glasshouse Mountains on the 10th of September.

 

I really enjoyed last Sundays 25km in there, despite falling over, and even though I think the Ultra will be more than double trouble, I think its best to push on and get it over and done with.


On Monday I told Anton that I would be running the Ultra and I sent him a running program which I thought we could follow, he in turn sent me his version of the running program that he thinks we should follow, which was double the running, double the kms and not in so many words, double the pain…unfortunately I wanted to tell him what to do with his program…but as I have never done this sort of thing before and he is the guru of off-road ultra running (this is the lunati…oh I mean man...who ran across the Sahara Desert in what is known to be the toughest race of all time, 250km across the desert), so it was tough to argue with the idio…oh I mean expert.


I assume he knows what he is doing. However, I can’t believe how tough, mean and often just downright rude he is, I don’t know where he got his coaching techniques from!


So this week, 25km run in Glasshouse, loved the whole race, was going really well until 20km and then fell on rocks again, but I jumped up quickly and finished in 2 hours 22mins, I was happy with that as I was expected it to take over 2 and half hours.

I thought I would be very sore the next day from the fall,  I was bruised but Ok, I figure it’s so much better falling up a hill rather than down one! In future I will try to do this.


Didn’t run Monday or Tuesday, and then ran half cross country/ half road with Anton on Wednesday, supposed to be a two hour run, but it took us 1.45 that must have been because of our big finish. We had an option to run for another 15mins or have a coffee in Hastings Street, I will let you guess what we chose to do!

Ran 6km Thursday and 8km Friday with Brisbane Lazy Runners

That’s Approx 54 km for the week, and all good.

Tomorrow I am running 22km in the Kondallilla park which is ideal off road running for the Glass house events


 
Fall 2
Week 3-Two falls in a week! this one on my 25km trial trail run in the Glasshouse mountains yesterday. Ran the first 20km well, a bit nervy but was handling the terrain and even enjoying myself...then with 5km to go and probably relaxed a little too much, thats when it happened, on rocks going up the last climb (there was plenty of mud in there, but oh no, no chance of slipping and falling on the lovely soft mud), once again ripped out the knee but this time, not the cheek, just the big snog hit the ground, causing a bit of a bleed. First thing I did was look behind, Anton wasnt there, so I took off as fast as I could, but I was feeling a bit sore and stingy...Anton did finally come along, and yes he had a bit of a laugh and we finished together.
I had three goals for this run
1. Not to fall over
2. Not to let Anton see me fall over
3. To finish
I guess 2 out of 3 aint bad...now the biggie, will I continue on and train for the 50km in Sept and become an ultra marathoner??

 

 
Fall 1

Its official, honeymoon over, not in the divorce courts yet, but lets put it this way I have some irreconcilable differences with my Ultra training program.
You can probably tell by the picture that I went for an almighty gutsa in the Noosa National park on my 2 hour training run. Went down like a bag of excrement…, loud, heavy and I think the earth moved, in fact I'm sure the bush turkeys are still discussing the score it was on the Richter scale.

 

Now I know you are all very concerned and I will answer all your questions,
Was I alone? No, I had what I would loosely term a running buddy with me
Did I have help? Yes, if you call help, someone laughing so much that by the time he finished I had myself picked up, dusted off and was checking the damage…once he saw me upright, he said ‘Oh your ok, lets keep going’ and we ran another 5km!
Where did I hurt myself? Only all over, knee took the brunt, then hip, then arm and elbow, shoulder and last but not least face smacked into the rocks…my body has always worked on the premise, one in all in, so the end result was lumps bumps and bruises all over.
However, I will finish this saga on a positive...Icepacks truly are a runners best friend.I got home and tried for most of the day to ice all the lumps and bumps, even falling to sleep with one on my very swollen knee that night. Next day all swelling mostly gone, and even ran with Brisbane LR group that evening.
I think the body should be Ok for my first trial at Glasshouse running tomorrow, but the confidence is low...so if you see someone crawling along on all fours through the bush...dont laugh!
Stay tuned..... 

 

Week 2
I didnt have a honeymoon when I got married, so not sure how long they last, but I think I am still in the honeymoon stage of my ultra marathon training!
Had another good week of running

Run 1-My 10km run last Sunday night was hard and I did get under my 50mins, but felt a little better than the 10km that nearly killed me in Brisbane the week before...so that is a positive start to the week

Run 2-Long run- 3 hours with about 2 hours being cross country and beach. I loved this one (once I got going that is). Being in a job where the alarm goes off anywhere between 3.30am and 4.45am, 5 days a week which sees you stumbling around in the dark or driving in the dark for half hour to 2 hours, doesnt actually leave you jumping out of your skin when your alarm goes off at 5am on your day off and you are supposed to get up and run for 3 hours! However, having to meet someone (especially if that someone is Anton, and you know the stick you are going to get if you dont turn up or turn up late), made it a bit easier. I ran 5km to meet Anton and then through the National park, along A Bay beach to Sunshine beach and return, then 20mins home by myself. I enjoyed the run but I was pretty stiff and sore for a few days afterwards, must of been the different terrain.

Run 3 and Run 4- with Brisbane LR, 9km on Thursday evening, 8km Friday morning ( few hills in each run but all on road)
Run 5- was teed up for Saturday, Gyndier ( a very tough hill run, 14km, with the first 7 straight up!). Anton txt me to say he and Danni were going to meet there at 3pm Saturday, I said I was in. Weather turned very nasty Friday night, the LR Saturday morning group only saw 6 runners turn up in pretty wet conditions, we ran, but I got really wet and felt a bit of a chill, got home and was not looking forward to 3pm coming around.
So it was with some delight, that I got a txt saying Danni had pulled the pin due to the bad weather, did I still want to do it? Now this is when all the mental play comes in, of course I didnt want to run 14km in the rain, but do you think I was going to tell Anton that?, So my reply was 'I'm still in, up to you', ha ha, now the ball is in his court, about half hour later the txt came through, 'no I'm out, I know I will never live it down, but I am going to watch the footy instead', 'Yes' I pumped my fist, I got him, and he is right he will never live it down, and I got out of running in the rain...Yahhh....However, after half an hour, the little white angel appeared in my head (yes I have the red devil and white angel in my head like the loony tune cartoons), saying... is this what your ultra training is all about? pulling the pin as soon as you get a chance, thrilled that Anton has cancelled so you can get out of doing your training and never let him live it down, always looking for an excuse to drop a run, letting the weather dictate what you will do, what if the weather is crap on the day of your race, are you going to pull out? Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh....I couldnt stand it, so dragged my sorry butt upstairs and pulled on the running gear and off I went for two hours, didn't do Gyndier, but did the run I ran last Saturday, and I never got a drop of rain on me!
One week to go to test if my cross country training is working for me, next Sunday I run 24km through the Glasshouse Mountains!

Start of my Ultra training
In 2010 at the Gold Coast, I ran my 10th marathon, I thought that was a good number to finish on and hang up the marathon shoes. However, over the last year of just running (not that there is anything wrong with that), I am starting to wonder what is next for me with my running.

I always have felt that the marathon distance is the ultimate challenge and have enjoyed (well mostly) all my marathons for differing reasons. I do have one long term goal with my running left and that is to complete my mission of running a marathon on every continent, 6 down one to go...but that on is in Antarctica and will cost at least $20,000 to do, so as I save my pennies, I’m thinking should I have another interim running goal.

At the present my running consists of running 5km, 3 times a week with the Lazy Runner clubs, I did train with the Gold Coat marathon crew over their 20 weeks and it involved long runs of up to 32kms, and I really enjoyed that, but it was a lot of stop and start running and just running along for fun...as far as extending myself or pushing myself, I can't remember that last time I did that!

Usually if I am at a marathon, like last week, and I’m not running it (very rare occurrence) I really envy the runners and wish I was lining up at the start with them...but last week ...nothing.…I wasn’t envious, wasn’t restless to get involved ..in fact I was thinking “glad its them”. Now that is not a good attitude from a running coach…but on the bright side I absolutely loved watching all the Lazy Runners crossing the finish line and achieving their running goals.

Afterwards I was talking to John from GC LR , he suggested I do an ultra with his group in November on the Gold Coast , 50km! I have always looked on the marathon as being the ultimate in running and thought those crazy people running more than that maybe needed some professional help and no I’m not talking about running coaching! However, it did make me think, could I run more than 42.2km and maybe one ultra would look good on my running resume (although I remember saying the same thing about my first marathon)

Anyway, I got back from the Goldie and made one vital mistake, I mentioned my thoughts in an email to Anton (one of those crazy ultra runners, I mentioned above)! I got a phone call straight away to meet up and discuss ultra training tactics over a coffee…then two days later, his car screeched up next to me as I am walking around Noosaville, he wound down the window and said with a grin and a psychotic look in his eye, ‘so an ultra marathon? are you looking for a running buddy to train with”, it was then I thought , and I’m sure it won’t be the first time over the next few months that I think, ‘OMG what have I done?’. I told him I needed a couple of days before I decided, and I would let him know on Monday.

I follow the same rules that I set my runners when it comes to running and training, I like to assess where I am at with my running, then set some goals and follow a program…I think all goals should be measurable and achievable and that can only be done by collecting some information and devising a plan

So I thought I would test my health and fitness as it stands right now

I got out my the scales that I use for my runners. They measure weight, body fat, hydration and muscle mass, I very rarely get on them and I think the last time I did was when I did the Summer weight loss challenge in Feb.

Firstly it showed my weight, 64.9kg, that is the same as I weighed in last time, and my ideal weight for my height. I am a lifetime member of weight watchers and they set my goal weight at 68kg, so I am always happy to stay a couple of kilos under, gives you room for a blow out! Great I’m thinking but then…

Body fat 33%...my last reading was 25%, I have never been over 30% (I am still in the healthy range, but in the upper level)

Hydration- 47%- I recommend all runners be over 50%, which I usually always am

Muscle Mass- 33%...usually I am about 40%....women should have a third more muscle mass than body fat... up until now I have always had that equation!

Wow I was flabbergasted! It just goes to show, that your weight can remain the same, but it really is the make up of that weight that is very important, that is why people who look thin, can have a really high body fat that goes undetected….the body fat reading is not just the fat we see on the outside it is also the visceral fat that is on the inside, usually lining our organs

Now the above results are ok, but my worry was the change in just three months to my body composition, ,and the fact that I have been marathon training, two weeks ago I ran 32kms…I should be at the peak of condition…wrong…I am not pushing myself to my level of ability. The body only reacts when you change what you are doing or are pushing yourself to a level that causes your body to respond. I may of been running the distance, but I was only in my comfort zone and not pushing myself at all...there the body was becoming complacent and slowly I was losing my fitness even though I was active

These results only reflect that I have not had a fitness or running goal for a while and obviously for me that is something I need, as it makes me train and keeps me focused.

The other test I wanted to do for myself was to get out and run 10km under 50mins. I have always felt if I can run under 5 min kms that is my personal test for me to see that I still have the running fitness I like to have, everyone has their own pace that they can sit on in the 10km run and feel they have pushed themselves and mine is 10km under 50mins. So I was in Brisbane n thought I would belt out a 10km before I did the 6pm session down there. I did it on a nice flat river path that I knew to be 10km, 5 out and 5 back. I started off, and soon realised I have taken off too fast, one km in and I was feeling it, breathing heavy and struggling, I decided to continue to push, so the method I use when I do this, is to make sure I am continually out of my comfort zone, therefore if I start to enjoy the view or feel ok, I lift a notch until I am feeling crap again!. I di this all the way out and turned at 24.30, but let me tell you, at this point I was feeling a little lightheaded and a bit sick! I always like the turn, as I know I just have to get back, but boy it was tough. I decided to chase a blue shirt, he was a fair way in front and kept checking his watch all the time, I didn’t know if he was running to a time or just wanted to get home in time for ‘deal or no deal”, I was lifting and drawing him in, but at the same time, I was not feeling so good, when I got closer, I notice he didn’t look back, but he moved over very closely to the railing, as I’m sure he thought a head of buffalos or a council garbage truck was coming up behind him, it was not pretty but I passed him, I felt so bad, I thought I would have to stop, but I saw lots of walkers and runners out there, looking at me sideways and I thought if I stop now , they will have their finger straight onto 911 speedial, so I kept going. With about half a km to go, I thought of that stupid Big Finish that some smart running coach has devised and I thought the big finish may mean my real big finish, anyway I didn’t think I could but I did find something else and I sprinted to my car….once I go there, I grabbed my drink and sat on a bench in New farm park with my head between my legs gasping. Yes I think I achieved my goal of getting out my my comfort Zone…the clock said 49.45, and I should be happy with that, but I wasn’t really…I felt so bad, so unfit, and I thought to the times that I could do that without being BND (bloddy near dead)…straight away I txt Anton and said I’m in, I’m doing an Ultra!

Next day I bought myself a pair of trail shoes (fire engine red) and I booked in for the 24km Glasshouse run on the 24th July with view to doing the 50km ultra in September, if I’m not ready for that I will do the Gold Coast Ultra in November

I’m basing my training on three components; speed, distance and cross country running, so I will put all three into my week. My speed session will just be working on improving my 10km time. The distance runs will range from 20km to maybe up to 45km!! as the race gets nearer; and I will work on hilling running and trail running one day a week to get used to the different terrain

You can follow my Ultra training ups and down here, or better still join in with me

Week 1-

I’m counting the 10km killer run- that’s my benchmark now, not too fussed about improving the time, and would like to improve how I feel out there whilst running it..and afterwards

Last Night- donned the new trail shoes, thought the distance I may be running was about 18-20km, I never run  all of this course before, so wasn’t sure. I ran from where I live (Noosaville) around to the Civic and got on the new Eenie Creek drive footpaths, I swear the longest piece of concrete ever, it goes for miles,( I was running on it for an hour) and was pretty happy when I got off it at Sunshine Beach and headed for the Noosa national park entrance. I decided to run through Tanglewood track to the main entrance, it was only 5pm then, but in the park it was getting dark, so I had to lift my pace a bit, but the difference of running on dirt to concrete felt amazing.However I was starting to regret going out for so long in new shoes. The park run is just stunning, got to the end, and then straight up Park road hill on the boardwalk and saw the sun setting over Noosa Beach, pretty amazing. Then decided to belt down Noosa Parade, once again starting to get the water buffalo look and noises happening, and I did do the Big Finish, of course I have to practise what I preach, I was out there for 1.51 and it felt good.

I have registered for the Glasshouse 24km on 24th July, it cost $45…I have never run in one of these events but I hear they are good

I’m hoping that my new running goals will automatically improve my results from the scales, but I have also decided to take a look at what I’m eating and drinking to see if I can improve on that front as well. I am off alcohol (not permanently!!) and just trying to eat a bit more healthily.

Stayed Tuned….

 

 


 

 
     
 
 

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