Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Redemption Run

So it begins at 3.15am - I have been laying half awake for 15 minutes waiting for my iPhone alarm to go off. That familiar sound means it's time for Redemption. Redemption, a chance to clear my head of the "what if's" since my Ultra debut. Its been 5 weeks since the race, all I have thought about is this run - I've had it marked in my training diary since January 9. A training run the same length as the Ultra, time to run to the plan I SHOULD of executed at Hares and Hounds.

I'm up, all my gear is layed out on the table. I go through my normal routine, coffee, half a peanut paste and jam sandwich then a toilet stop - then gear up.

I'm feeling a little tired, its early, even for me - BUT it was save me an hour of running in the heat leaving at 3.50am. I've already run 70.5km for the week - this shapes as my biggest training run ever and my biggest training week ever.

My newest edition of gear is the new Team HRE jerseys which arrived only 1 day earlier. Its a great chance to test it out on a mega long run - I'm kitted head to toe in orange and black. HRE corporate colours...time to get started.

I walk down the driveway and hit "start" on the Garmin. Its 3.55am - 53km awaits me. A Redemption run. Jason designed this run for me after the Ultra - it is specifically designed to practice my nutrition/hydration and pacing. Jason has put together a number of these tough as shit runs, runs which he thinks will be key for my North Face prep and give me confidence come race day. Benny has designed the overall TNF plan with KM's and volume but has left the details of the runs up to me, so Jason has been providing input into the sessions to provide some variety. Jason knows me as a runner the best, where my weaknesses are mentally, and where I have cut corners the most in the past. They are all designed to test my limits, his sick idea of fun includes;
  1. 4 x Laps of Mt Archer up the road, thats 40km of running with over 2100 meters of total elevation
  2. 2 x Laps of First Turkey for 50km total (25km per lap)
  3. A fatigue run, which includes getting up at 4am riding 60km on the mountain bike then staying awake for 17 hours then doing a double lap of Mt Archer up the road - this one is meant to similate running tired like I will be at the end of TNF
Its not as dark as I thought it would be, the moon is high in the sky and there is no traffic. I am getting into a groove running comfortably, 3km clicks by and I start up the hill out of Rocky towards Yeppoon. Water and perpetuem in, feeling a bit head tired but legs feel surprisingly good for having 70.5km in them this week.

This first 11km is tougher than what I expected, its fairly undulating which you dont really notice driving - I am a little dissapointed with this section, my pace is closer to 7 min km's not the 6.20 pace I wanted to run. BUT I didnt get stressed - I just kept to plan, water and perpetuem, and my electrolytes.

Next minute I am at the Cawarral turn off - and BOOM I am feeling good, running 6.10 pace and feeling awesome. Weird, it shouldnt be this good!

Pete Reaburn has planned to meet me at The Oaks (23km into the run) - he passes me just before Mt Jim Crow and yells out some encouragement, I continue on, invigorated knowing I'll soon have some company.

I refill the bladder in the service station at The Oaks and as I suspected find running with Pete easy, and my pace increases again to about 6.00 pace. We chat and cruise along. Pete has given me so much guidence, training advice and support I almost forget he is The GURU on Exercise Physiology, author The Masters Athlete, an Australian Ironman Age Group Champion and Hawaii Ironman Finisher. I pinch myself often that I get his free advice!

We are really cruising along, I purposely fill my bladder with 2 L of water and have stashed a few extra items in it to weigh it down. I am running with about 3kg of weight, plus my fuel belt. I am waiting for the wheels to fall off, waiting for tired and heavy legs which will force me to slow, to a run/walk - but it hasnt come...yet.

An hour later we crest the last hill into Yeppoon past the golf course, Pete wishes me luck for the remaining 20kms and he turns and runs back to collect his car. I cruise down the hill, around the round about and head for the information centre where I planned to fill my bladder and take stock.

I hit 35km in under 4hrs and the tempurature is starting to heat up, there are also LOTS of cars out now - I get a few beeps, unsure if they are poonies which I know, or just randoms. I blow through my water stop and keep running, I set my sights on the service station at Lammermoor Beach - I am feeling way too good. I'm drinking plenty and the last 2 weeks have backed off the fuel slightly, its seems to be working a treat. The km's keep clocking by, no tired legs like I usually get - just a steady 6.10-6.25 pace cruising along.

At the servo I take a decent break, maybe 5-10 minutes. I buy a bag of ice, 450 ml coke, 1.5 L of water and 45g packet of plain chips. I shove as much ice as I can into my bladder and fill it with water. I give the rest of the ice to an old fisherman, who must of been wondering where the fu#k I had come from, and why I was dressed like I was from the Sydney Mardis Gras.

This was now my chance to test out a walk break, I purposely walk 1km from 38km to 39km I drank about 300ml of cold Coke and eat half a packet of plain chips.This is also the first time I turn on my iPod. I have run purposely without any music for over 4hrs and now I get a reward! Red Hot Chilli Peppers 'Suck My Kiss' is the first song, next up the Gunners with 'Paradise City' then Foo Fighters 'Pretender' - I am feeling amped and set off again, rounding Statue Bay and into Kemp Beach without any dramas. My walk break km took 9 min 30 secs, and has recharged me.

FARRRKKK.... That bus was close. This section of the run is a bit dodgy, there is no shoulder on the road - so I have to run in the grass, I am sure I'll snap an ankle in a hole, but come through this section ok. On the open road it is HOT, the heat coming off the ground is pretty intense. By now I am usually looking for a reason to stop and walk, but surprisingly feel good.

I walk up the hill between Kemp and Mulumbin and run the rest of the way to the Causeway. This feels WAY too easy, I am on top of hydration (that cold water is awesome) and the Coke and chips provided a nice change from Perpetuem and Honey Shots.

I roll into the Causeway well in front my my predicted split times, still running 6.10-6.25 pace. I make a call to Bel and text to Mum (who is the taxi to bring me home) - I then refill the bladder with 750ml of pump - I have a full bladder ready to rock and roll to Emu Park.

I had visualised this last 6-7km as the toughest part, in my head I would be walking, shuffling along with hate and hurt driving me to the end. It wasnt like that at all. It was easy. I say easy becuase it felt very comfortable running along, my pace wasnt falling to pieces and I actually was still smilling!

LMFAO 'Sexy and I know It' comes on the iPod - my boys love that song, it makes me laugh as I think how easy this has been. Its my day today, the hundreds of hours I have invested are paying off. I go through 50km in 5hrs 29 mins which includes a couple of short walk breaks to play with the volume on the iPod.

The last 3km just vanishes, I'm not struggling doing 11 min k's like I was at H&H - I actually put the hammer down a little and run a 6.01 km for km 51!

Mum is waiting for me at the Emu Park bakery and after a couple of quick photos - we head home. Mum has seen me in a bad state a couple of times after marathons, she is amazed at how fresh I look. I sit back and enjoy the trip back to Rocky, a shower then off to Sizzler for a family lunch.

After my H&H Ultra I did feel a tiny bit embarrassed that I had made such a rookie mistake. I do know now that I didnt drink because I was talking to Ben too much - I nearly fell into that trap when I was running with Pete, I had to really think about drinking instead of talking!

I often wonder maybe I just like the romance of running Ultra's more than the actual effort it takes to get there - during the really hard days, or mornings when you struggle to get out of bed, I wonder if it would be easier to run half marathons, most people think 21km is extreme enough. What am I trying to prove by doing something that seems so hard and requires so much committment and effort?

I have a Karno quote on my desk, next to my pens - it sort of sums it all up.

"Most people never get there. They're afraid of or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you're not pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, if you're not constantly demanding more from yourself - expanding and learning as you go - you're choosing to live a numb existance. You're denying yourself an extraordinary trip"



  1. Jason (HRE Partner)15 February 2012 at 14:33

    Mate, it is amazing to be a part of this journey. You are biting off more than you can chew and then finishing it asking for more! Inspiring read. Find your limits, redefine them, repeat.

  2. I've been inspired by a few people in my 45 years of involvement with sport. Sean has joined that list. His commitment to his goal and, more than anything, his commitment to doing the hard yards and lonely miles, is something only few can do. It's these characteristics that make the difference between the 'dreamer' and the 'doer'! Go you good thing!