Sunday, 25 November 2012

Blogging, Racing and Saying Goodbye

So I have been in Blog overdrive this week. 3 posts in a week is some sort of record for me!

SO how did my race go?! Well I can honestly say that I have never felt more in control of a short sprint race ever. As it was 8km (5 miles for my USA readers) I had a well constructed plan, which was to start easy then settle into a pace and actually SAVE some juice for the last km.

Yes I can hear Jason saying "you never stick to plan" "you always blow yourself up early" - which is true, I always log a sub 3.45km first k BUT I knew that I had the pace and am in good shape to run a negative split if I just got my excitement controlled at the race start.

"3, 2, 1, GO" we were off for the Rocky Road Runners Movember club race. Now here is the point where I relaxed, and actually slowed and let a couple of groups of runners through. I was sitting on 4.00 pace but that was still too quick so I slowed, let another couple of people past. First KM 4.17! YES I actually felt like it was easy, so the plan was to run another 4.15-4.20 then start running sub 4.15s. Second KM takes us all the way down to the water stop, great to see Benny there handing out cups (hope his back is better by our next race) - I started to eyeball who I was going to catch on the 3rd KM. Second KM 4.12 feeling great!

So as we wound our way through the gardens I start to pick up some of the other runners - wow this is weird! I NEVER pass anyone. Thats the problem with starting too fast, people are always coming past you as you fade! Not today thought. We run past a couple of people with kids and strollers on the path which slows me from 4.10 to 4.15ish - then just as we get to a fork in the course



My right foot doesn't land on the path but on the edge and my ankle just rolls under me. I immediately stop and it hurts enough for me not to run another step. So I walk slowly back to the race start. Frustrated that I have rolled my ankle - my mind switches on the big race is coming up in a couple of weeks down on the Gold Coast, so no point wrecking it.

Rest, Ice, Elevation and it is looking and feeling heaps better this morning. I'll take it easy today and see how it is on Monday.

Jason thinks it is Mo Karma as I had accidental shaved my Mo off trying to trim it up Tuesday. Lets hope I have paid the Mo gods back now!

Very impressed with Jacob "Hammer Time" Williams cleaning up Miles, Michael and Gav for the win! It is his first race win, really pumped for him! He was sandbagging all week!

The other big news this week is that Geoff the Grandfather of the Road Runners is leaving for Brisbane. I have said it before but Geoff is the only reason I kept turning up to Saturday morning running. He always ran back and checked on Jason and I as we were struggling out the back.

I have turned into a bit of a Saturday long run snob, running my own pace as prescribed in the session. Saturday group running are a bit daunting, as there are always a heap of faster runners there. When I started running I had Jason to run with, but he improved faster than I did, Geoff was always there to come and run some k's with me, making sure I was OK, and giving me the encouragement to keep running. Geoff encouraged Jason and I to turn the idea of HRE into a reality.

Geoff hasn't run for most of the year, as he has had a few injuries. It was great to see him at running Thursday night, looking forward to seeing him at our Brisbane races.

Thanks for keeping us running Geoff!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Run Rails Run – Interview

It feels good to be back blogging!

As I said last week I promised when I kicked the blog off that it wouldn’t be a training diary and for me, and that’s all I have been doing. Who wants to hear about me doing 1km repeats or those 400m track sessions....if I am bored thinking about writing it, I can guarantee you would of been bored reading it.
A few weeks ago Australia’s hardest 100mile race “The Great North Walk” was run. Now I know half of my blog readers would be thinking “yes I know that race, it is insane and only for crazies” and the other half of you would be thinking “never heard of it”. So the abridged version of the course description is that it is a point to point 100 mile race run in NSW along the Great North Walk track. The 100 mile race is actually about 175km, insane – the elevation profile is ridiculous and normally the heat (over 40 degrees in the middle of the day) makes dropping out from dehydration is near certainty.
Taking all of that into consideration two runners braved the elements and embarked on the challenge last weekend. Marty “White Caviar” Hack and Raelene “Rails” Bendall both had signed up for the 100 mile race, but with different goals. Whilst Marty was focussed on the pointy end, Rails hadn’t been training too heavily and was really just focussed on finishing.
To paraphrase Rail’s “I didn’t do anything special anyone could do it” – this statement pretty much sums up her unassuming, self deprecating approach to her own achievements. Raelene has completed the 100k at The North Face and 100k at Glasshouse 100 in September and now Australia’s toughest 100 miler, by anyone’s standard this has been an absolutely stellar year, but as I try to load on the compliments Rail’s brushes them aside.

When it comes down to it, she is mentally stronger than any of the crew we train with. If I am a mixed up mental mess when it comes to racing, Rail’s is the opposite a strong willed and focussed racer, she knows her limits and races within them.
So you haven’t been training much due to work, uni etc – have you just been doing a long run a week to prepare?
I’ve been doing two hours of hill intervals every Wednesday on the Mount Archer and a long run including hills and trails on weekends. Leading into the GNW my largest weekend was a 4.5hr run on a Saturday in the middle of the day, followed by a 5hr run at Byfield on the Sunday. Gavin and I also used the hill at Kemp beach in our training and also ran a loop around the Razorback Road and Mount Morgan Range to mix it up one day.

You mentioned the cool conditions helped this year, how much did that factor into you finishing?
It got hot on the second day and I really started to struggle keeping enough fluid in. I felt like I was cooking from the inside out and having to drink so much makes it even harder to keep solid food down. The middle section of the course is known as ‘The Basin’ and I guess it’s really a big volcanic iron kettle with a rainforest in it. There is no airflow and two years ago they reckon it was over 46 degrees. I honestly believe that with my present fitness, as slow as I ran, I would not have made the finish line if the temperature had been like it was in previous years. I used this as motivation many a time to make it to the finish line. It was obviously my lucky year.

For myself, being caught by the sweepers would mentally snap me. How did you use being caught by the course sweepers to your advantage?  
Having the sweepers meant that I didn’t have to navigate for the entire back end of the course. It guaranteed me that I wouldn’t get lost and that is a huge relief. Having to navigate takes up heaps of time reading through maps and double checking directions, and until you saw a GNW marker, which were sometimes quite spread out, I was always fearful that I had taken a wrong turn. (Again) I also got to meet some really interesting people. Gary Pickering and Rob Scoines are both running the Coast to Kosi in a couple of weeks and Matt O’Shea broke his ankle less than 11 weeks ago. They also kept me on pace ensuring that I made it to the next Checkpoint in time. Most people run with their own crew and pacers to keep them moving at a descent pace, and as it turned out I had the best local running legends.
For a runner who loves the numbers – it blows my mind that you didn’t run with a GPS to track distance and pace. Another great example of how different we all are. Have you considered using a GPS for your races coming up? 
 I do own a GPS but lately it has been unreliable and gives me the shits. It’s a constant reminder that I’m too slow. I did take Gavin’s GPS with me to help track with the directions and Navigation, but the batteries were playing up, so I turned it off. (I probably put them in upside down) I tend not to use my GPS during races anyway as I find them distracting. I’ve often found them telling me I’m going too slowly, but there’s not much I can do about that. If I could be going faster I would be. I tend to try and listen to my body and put in a certain effort for an event. For a 36hr race I ran at about 75 per cent, but in a 5km race I’d run at 95 per cent. (

To answer a couple of the questions that have been posted, yes you do walk in Ultra Marathons. Walk/Running (that is transitioning from walking to running) is a learned skill. Once you power walk a hill, it can often be the case where it is difficult to start running again. Mentally you can use little tricks like “I am running once we get past that tree” etc to get you going again.
Footwear is also a personal choice. You ran most of the race in Salomon Speedcross 3 – the racing shoe from Salomon. It is light and doesn’t provide much cushioning, but has excellent grip which is important on the muddy trails.

How did your feet cope with the 36hrs? I expected them to be worse. Unfortunately I carried some pre-existing blisters over from my last 100km run and training that hadn’t quite heeled, so they flared quite quickly. The pads of my feet got pretty sore after about 30 hours and the last few hours of rock jumping were fairly uncomfortable. I didn’t lose any toenails though. I wore two pairs of socks on the first day because it was cold and my feet didn’t swell like they usually do, and changed my shoes at the 85km mark. I use lanacane on my feet and wear sockette stockings under my socks to prevent general rubbing.

You said you didn’t drink once from her hydration pack, instead preferring to drink from two handheld water bottles. You said one contained endura the other a really weak endura mix (personally I hate endura). How many gels/cliff shot bloks did you consume? I thought I was taking heaps but when I got to the end I found I had only used 5 packs. I also drank 7 poppers, 15 cokes, 4 cups of tea, pretzels, chippies, bananas, porridge and some vegie soup.
Yes to answer a question posted, you do go to the toilet during a long trail race usually off in the bushes out of everyone’s view. Going “number 1’s” is a good sign of hydration, not going number 1’s is a not a good sign, a point Raelene made that she went a number of hours without needing to go to the toilet.

Another question from a Facebook stalker – did you get tired? And what motivates you to keep going? No I didn’t get tired. I did have some low blood sugar problems just before sunrise which left me a little faint and slowed me down for about 45 minutes. I guess with all the panic of being last and barely making the cut offs with only minutes to spare I was also busy busting my guts to get somewhere so I just didn’t have time to be tired. I never had a problem with motivation. I wanted the finish soooooooo bad that to deny myself the finishers medal would have been certain heartache that I just didn’t want to contemplate. The GNW has a lot of credit with other race organisers and a finish here, even if it is in last place, is worth a lot on future race entries. I also had a stressed out husband at home who I knew was following me every step of the way, and I couldn’t come up with a single excuse for not finishing that was better than a finishers medal.

Besides running with the sweepers at various points later in the race, you spent time between CP 3 and CP 4 with a running buddy who she has run with from a number of other Ultras, how did you help each other get through the rough patch?
My friend Siev did not want to leave CP3, but she agreed to come with me. We got lost together and it ended up costing us an hour. Between the two of us we were able to work out exactly where we’d gone wrong, turned around and kept going. Seiv had decided to pull out at CP4 after running 110km, so she wasn’t too concerned about how long it took her to get there, but as I was continuing, I needed to get there before the 4am cutoff. Without a GPS I had no idea how far to CP4 or how fast we were going. Seiv had it sorted and took charge of the pacing. She was determined to get us there with at least 20 minutes of time to refuel. And she was spot on! Two headlamps at night are certainly better than one. Seiv got another 100km finish instead of a DNF and she gave me the chance at my 100mile finish.
When did you realise you were going to make it?
About 4km out the sweeper had left me and run back to a guy that was behind me on the last leg. He was positive that I’d make it if I ran all the way but I still wasn’t sure. It wasn’t until I came around the last lookout, turned the corner and finally saw the beach and the finish line a km away with about 15 minutes to spare. Even then there is a really steep descent down on to the beach and I was hoping that it was pretty much straight down, not too much zigg zagging or it would take too long. It was my quickest descent of the entire race.

So what’s next? You just finished Oz’s toughest 100 miler so what else is there to run?
There’s heaps of Australia I haven’t seen and even more to explore overseas. But I’m broke. So the big plan is definitely the Coast to Kosi next year. It’s a 240km run from a beach near Eden in NSW to the Summit of Kosi in the first week of December. Gavin and I would both like to run it.  You need to submit a resume to the race director to be accepted, so the rest of the year will be building that resume. We’ll certainly try to do the Glasshouse trail runs, starting with the 50km Hares and Hounds in early January. Because I like mental things we’ll do the 12hr track race in Caboolture in Feb. We are hoping to do 6 foot track and the North Face 100 again, as well as the 100miles at Glass later in the year. The rest of the year is needs to be flexible around injury and finances. Gavin wouldn’t miss the Goldcoast and there are also other 12 and 24hr track races in winter.
There are a couple of gems of information in our conversation that  I needed reinforced, we joked that I am a messed up racer – in particular when I start to get negative thoughts I let those dominate my thinking, called negative self talk. Raelene said she just snaps herself out of those negative thoughts, she doesn’t let them fester or dominate her thinking for any extended period.

That is good advice for everyone, especially new runners where the going gets tough and you just want to stop – don’t. That feeling and moment will pass and you can push through it and come out the other side to feeling OK again.

Thank-you so much Raelene, I know you weren't too keen on the interview, but you have acheived so much and it is so great to share it with everyone. Congrats again on the finish!

As a note, Marty was up the front in the top 4 but took a wrong turn and ended up doing an extra 16km before finding the checkpoint. He then dropped from the race. White Caviar will be back to smash up a race near you soon!

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend - hope to see you at the Movember run.



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hard Running

I sometimes get nervous going to a training run, recently it is just because I know it is going to be hard, it will require me to concentrate on holding a set pace or not getting dropped with the faster group.

Last Thursday I ran with Rod on his "Range Loop" and he purposely smashed me. Just really run the legs off me up the hills and I know he enjoyed it.

Are you having fun yet PEX?

Tomorrow morning I face the music again. Hard Running. I know it is going to painful - I am planning to hold on for a little longer and not die.

Will it be easy? Nope. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Lost and Found

Cannot believe that it's been 2 months since I blogged. Plenty of crazy stuff happening, just not motivated to put pen to paper.

Sorry I have been lazy with the blog posts. I am back on track now!

I have started the "Run Rails Run" interview, it is in draft and should go up by the end of the week. Thanks for the questions - I have tried to include them in the blog.

So what's new?! Jason and Vicky have had their baby, a little beautiful girl Makenzie. She is nearly 3 weeks old now, it certainly is bringing back some memories for Bel and I remembering when Hayden and Joel were born.

Hayden and Mak

On the running front, I had a tough run down at Toowoomba half marathon. I blew myself up running too hard too early! WHEN WILL I EVER LEARN!

A week later I ran the Rocky Road Runners Pink Ribbon Run and finished 5th overall, my garmin had me finish at 20.37 for a touch under 5km. Not quite a PB as I have recently run a 19.48 with Benny, but the course was a tough one. Besides winning the short course duathlons last season, this is the highest I have ever finished at a running race, pretty happy with the progress so far.

Rod and I did a 3hr Mountain Bike Enduro - we finished 4th in our category! Which is pretty awesome considering I am a runner, and Rod is tentative riding hard on the trails with that huge plate in his arm. It was great fun, I am keen do more MTB riding in the future. I came off a number of times, nothing bruised but my ego!

Post race beers

What is next? Well we have the Movember run coming up this weekend, which is another local race. There is an 8km event, which is perfect as I have been doing some harder running in preparation for a 15km race on the Gold Coast on the 9th of December.

Whilst on the subject of Movember - I am doing it again, which is my 7th year of trying to grow a Mo! If you have a spare $5 please pop over to my Mospace and donate. It is for a great cause.

I've tried to use Instagram to make my mo look better FAIL
Of course the planning has started for 2013 including what races I am thinking of running. I am locked into doing the Great Ocean Road (GOR) Marathon in May. All of the local guys have said it is a ripper of a course, everyone has run a PB there. The other reason is that Greg has moved back to Geelong so accommodation and sightseeing is already locked in! It will end up being a pretty cheap trip (note the fun police are onto me about spending too much money on races).

So thats about it. A new blog is coming this week and then a Movember Race blog, so I am back on track with some content for the next month!

PS - I found an insanely funny running blog whilst I was "working" hard last Friday afternoon. Check it out if you like funny running blogs :) 

Be safe running out there!