Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Here Comes the Sun

There are two camps of runners, loosely those that run in the morning and others that run at night.

Last Friday the 9th of March I ran a marathon with Leah and Rodney, the full moon rose over Mt Archer and it was like I was on another planet. I couldn’t stop staring at it. It was breathtaking. It took me a week to work out why it was so intense – and it isn’t because I am half man half wolf like Teen Wolf!
You see I run in the morning for 99% of my runs, I get to see a sunrise at least 5 days per week. I am up and running in the dark and have the pleasure of watching the sun rise over Mt Archer, the very moment of day break. It is awesome, but you sometimes get numb to it. The moon rise the other week was so weird to me, because I hadn’t seen the moon for so long! Usually I am inside doing the daily dinner, baths, stories, bed for the boys – so I had forgotten what it was like to run at night under moon light.
Which gets me to last Saturday’s run.
Another 3.15am alarm and at the car park at 3.55am in preparation of the 50k double summit of Mt Archer. The butterfly’s about the distance I used to have are now long gone, replaced by a sense of purpose and concentration that comes with a lot of miles under the belt.
It is PITCH BLACK. I am using a head lamp to light the trail. Benny, Rodney, Gav and Raelene are joining me for the first 25km of the run – I am prepared for it to be slower due to the lack of light and if the trail is a little overgrown.
There is no moon this morning due to the cloud cover, its super dark and our 5 lights travel along the trail. Early on Raelene decides that the pace is too quick (or too much testosterone) and drops back to her pace. We take turns, fighting the massive spider webs and hit the first overgrown patch. I had run through it on Thursday but today it seems worse. Once we are through that the first 6k was pretty enjoyable, the trail is dry and the first creek crossing isn’t so bad.
The thing about running with a group of runners where you are the slowest is that you are always worrying about your pace, making sure you are running FAST enough and not slowing everyone down. I need not have worried, after 8km the “trail” became an impenetrable force, super overgrown. It was so bad we couldn’t sustain 8min pace. This was so surprising, the lantana was so overgrown I felt like I was in a jungle!
The next 40 minutes repeated: lantana, massive spider webs and falling hard on the dodgy trail.
Boom – Benny falls badly.
Boom – Benny falls badly again.
Boom – I fell heavily.
Boom – Gav falls and splits his knee.
Boom – Rodney falls on his bad arm.
Outwardly I am trying to remain upbeat and positive, the “adventure” is awesome I keep saying. Deep down I worry about Rodney’s arm and think about myself, writing a post on The North Face website selling my rego if I snap my ankle. This was a bad idea. Stupid. I hadn’t mitigated the risks well enough. F#$k this shit, I just want out and off the mountain.

The lantana clears and I find the 500 meters of climbing up Mt Archer to be much easier than the last time we ran, I cruised up in front of Gav and just behind Rodney, I pass Rodney – although he was walking. He has a lot on his mind after his fall and just wasn’t pushing at all now. I finish a couple of minutes behind Benny at the summit.
The sun had just come out, here comes the sun I thought. My friend. Just when you feel low the sun always recharges your spirits. The mist/fog prevented us from having a super sunrise, but it was sort of worth it. I switched off the head lamp and let the suns rays soak into my bones. My confidence up and my thoughts switched to the double summit, I felt it was still doable.
We filled our bladders at the summit, Gav had a Pepsi and said our good-byes to Rodney. Rodney had the right idea, he was running back down the road. Smart man. Ben, Gav and I had decided to head back down the trail. This was a mistake. A testosterone caused mistake. I wasn't prepared to tap out ,so the three of us proceeded to head down the mountain. 

It was worse underfoot on the descent. About a km down the trail where it becomes extra rocky,  I rolled my ankle badly. F*@K! What am I doing here?! Ben and I decided to take it easier from that point on. I was on the edge, I could go from hero to zero really quickly.

We found Raelene and all headed back to the car park. Moving as best as we could through the thick dense lantana.
By this stage Ben had enough. He convinced me that we didn’t need to do another lap. He was coaxing me, saying that I had enough in the tank for Nerang and The North Face. We talked a lot about it. Risk v Reward. Another 4 hours on my feet at risk of snapping an ankle, or pulling the pin. Will not finishing this run come back to haunt me?
We got back to the car. Pete was waiting, by that stage Gav had caught us, he had also rolled his ankle badly going through one of the creeks. I felt guilty telling Pete that we were bailing on the second lap. Gav and Ben said it was the safest thing to do, that the trail wasn’t runable and posed too high a risk for the upcoming races. Pete understood and went out for an hour by himself.
Raelene had joined us and we all had a great chat about The North Face, Gav and Raelene had been to the Blue Mountains the weekend before when 6 foot was cancelled so did about 80k training over 2 days to make up for it. I had this sinking feeling that I was missing a key session. But had to take the advice of the more experienced runners.

I got home early, Bel was really surprised wondering what had happened and why I was home at 8 o'clock. I was in a funk. A really bad mood about bailing on the session. It took a whole day to get over.

Half of me (the sensible "Safety Sean" half) knew it was the righ decision. I have run over 1000km in 10 weeks, heaps of hills, lots of quality. The other half (the nervous rookie Ultra runner) wonders if I would of benefitted from another 4hrs of mountain slog.

I used to always take the easy option, cut long runs short, miss sessions, sleep in. The old me had turned bad habbits into an art form. I was never worried about missing a session or not running enough. The new me hates it. It certainly is a weird feeling to have 24 hours of guilt by missing half a session. At the end of the day, I am fit, healthy and able to run. Who know's what would of happened had I slogged back up the mountain - maybe I would of enjoyed it, maybe I would of snapped an ankle or an arm. Maybe I would of been selling my rego like a heap of others on the North Face site. Safety first won out, which is good considering my day job! Ha!

I am starting the taper for my next Ultra, the Nerang 50km on the 1st of April. The next 2 weeks are lower km's so less running not more. I am going to refrain from writing a pointless taper blog, so the next blog will be a race report.

My most awesome sister and Crew Chief Mon will be looking after H.U.R.T (HRE Ultra Race Team) at Nerang. Gavin, Raelene, Benny, Rodney and I will all be running for H.U.R.T in our HRE jerseys. I've included a photo above of the Gav, Raelene and Ben in the gear from Saturday. We are going to rock!

Gav, Benny and Rodney will be up the pointy end, I am planning on running close to Raelene. Save some in the tank for the second lap. Oh and drink plenty of water!

PS - Luke is making his Ultra debut at Nerang. I expect him to smash it and run hard from start to finish. His training runs have been unreal, some blistering times over some crazy elevations, so I am really looking forward to watching him run. It will be great to see him realise some of his running potential.  
There are a heap of Rocky athletes heading away this weekend to swim/bike/run. This is a quick shout out to them all to wish them the best of luck, I hope they race well and crack a PB. For those that are going to Melbourne for the Ironman - I wish you all the best for your Kona qualifying attempt. I hope I havn't missed anyone!

Melbourne IM
·         Scott Lawton
·         Kelly Spottiswood
·         Rohan Smith
·         Leigh D’Arcy
·         Josh Bell

Mooloolaba Olympic Tri
·         Chris Pollock
·         Raleigh Wallace
·         Ronan Foolkes
·         Aiden Trevan
·         Leah Cheal
·         Sasha King
·         Morgan Wass
·         Penny Bryant
·         Jim Griggs
·         Emma Townsend

Stay safe catch you in 2 weeks


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