Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fitzroy Falls Marathon

Check out the awful photo above that Mikey took of me after I ran 42.2km. He could not be bothered going back to the car to get his camera so he took the pic with his iPhone and then he did not check to see if my eyes were open! Thanks Mikey!!!!
I had a great run, I did not really feel my best, I was tired from the switch of the clock due to Day Light Savings, and my glands in my neck had been up all week (I had glandular fever as a teenager). I was also nursing a suspected shin splint injury too. I was on holidays the week before and I really did not feel like running a Marathon. i felt sore and unconditioned. My but was killing me, I was obviously tired, the day before the race I slept through the start of Friday’s 6am Bootcamp, I woke up at 6:05am, luckily I only live up the road, so I got 1/2 dressed in a rush and jumped into the car and finished getting dress while my group completed their warm up. So I was knackered. I finished my 5 sessions on Friday and rested.
The Fitzroy Falls Marathon 42.2km was in Morton National Park in the Southern Highlands. I have not been on the course before, so I was kind of running “blind”. I could only go by the course profile and previous years race results to work out a race plan. And even that race plan was pretty vague as I had no idea what I was able to do on this particular track.
I woke up at 5am to drive down to Moss Vale, I ate a power bar on the way to start the race at 8am. I did a warm up and had my energy gels and lined up at the start line.
I spotted 1 girl who dared to be at the front, and gave her a smile. I did not recognise any other female runners. I knew most of the male front runners, all the favourites were there, and after a few words from the race organiser warning us about potential dangers that we were about to come across on the track, the race was abruptly started and we were off.
The race was on a Fire Trail, so the ground is loose, rocks, muddy, uneven and in some places under water however it was wide , 6 feet wide in most sections so you could pick a path through the the obstacles that laid in your way. The first 11km was mainly down hill, I knew I had to go out and lead for as long as possible without going into my red zone too early. So I went out and just tried to hold on for as long as possible. At the 3km mark, I was passed by a female wearing Pink named Sarah. Sarah was going out hard. So hard I thought that if she could hold that intensity until the end of the race she was a champion. She caught me on the first major climb of the event, but as soon as the gradient changed I soon ran past her again and gain about 20 m on her before the next climb. I know climbs at the moment are not my strong point of my running, I try to take as much advantage out of the hills, letting gravity do all the work, but on the climbs I just try and punch out a nice rhythm and try and stay under my an-aerobic threshold for as long as possible.
Sarah caught me again on the next climb. “Hey well done, it is an up-hill finish so you will probably stay ahead of me now.” I said to her as she past me. “I don’t know” she replied. “We will look out for each other” I added as she grinded her way up the steep climb. She was making the most of every step and really pushing through every limb. I felt really “soft” next to her. Like I has a wimp. But I just had to let her go and run my own race. I too had gone out hard and I needed to look after myself. I had really only completed 1 long run since Oxfam, that being the 29km Coastal Classic, so I was feeling a bit under done. But some times you just have to use a race like this to get back into form and that in the end was my plan for the day.
The next 4km were all down hill and I loved it, making great time and allowing my body to recover. The track was steep, wet, slippery with huge boulder to cross and you tried to pick your path along the orange clay trail. We were warned about the instability of these boulder so I was cautious across this section where in the past I would have attacked this section with real agility, but my right ankle was feeling the strain, and I probably should have put a few figure 8’s on it. It was starting to hurt, so I went a bit slower than normal on the descent. When I hit the bottom, I missed a marker and I was on my way to running off the top of the Water Fall before I spotted a marshal seated on the other side of the creek in the opposite direction to where I was running. I quickly changed direction in the whilst running across the top of the Water Fall and started the steep climb.
It was a up hill struggle for the next 8km, so I was past by Louise, from Canberra. I wished her good luck and she was off and looking strong. I accepted 3rd pace but I was not going to let another place slip away. So I knuckled back into it again, trying to stay focused and to make up some time in the next section. I spoke to a few people I had seen at other races and I discussed times with them. I worked out that I was on track for about a 3 Hours 39 finish, so I just had to keep my head and my hydration and glucose levels in control and I would be okay.
There was a switch back at the 22km mark and I noticed that the leader was only about 400m ahead I looked at my watch 1 hour 40minutes. I was buoyed by this, and it reinforced that I was still moving at a good pace. I thought about my running action and tried my hardest to be as efficient as possible and headed off into another steep climb and I just tried to keep the pace going. I spotted a few fellow runners in the crowd that was passing on my turn around on the course, I waved and wished them luck before I had to try and avoid a huge muddy under water puddle in the middle of the track. I ran into the wrong section of the puddle and I was thigh deep in water. The course was littered with these huge puddle to avoid. You can either run around them, or take your chances and run through them. This time I chose wrong and I was  under water.
I ran on with heavy shoes, we soon hit another switch back and I saw Louise, she was charging up a climb and a terrific pace and still looking strong. I thought I had lost contact with Sarah but after another 500m I soon came across her. “I’m dead, I’m Cramping, My legs have died” She managed to utter as she climbed up a 150m climb. “Eat some more salt, and you will be okay.” I replied as I flew down the hill to the final turn around. I was actually really worried about her she looked broken and totally out of any energy. She looked like she could go into muscle meltdown if she was not careful.
I carried on, hit the final turn around , waved and thanked the marshal at the 29km mark and took off up the hill knowing that Sarah was only just ahead of me and not looking like she was much left in her.
It was a foggy day, with low cloud cover, so I had no idea where I was running, and my lack of knowledge of the trail meant I had no idea how big the climbs were to come or how it would effect me. I just knew that it was up hill for the last 19km until the finish. With this in mind I had to control myself. Stay focused and try my hardest to keep the tempo going. I hit the 30km mark with Sarah in sight, and because it was an up hill climb for the next 12km I just tried to slowly reel her in. At the 33km mark I had caught her. “I’m done, you go, I have nothing in my legs”, she said. “If I had a spare energy gel I would give you one” I replied. But I still had 9km to go and I knew I would need my last 2 gels to get me up and put of the gorge to the finish line.
Only 9km to go. I had less distance to run than from my house up over the ANZAC Bridge and Back again, I said to myself and I swallowed my favourite Roctane energy gel. I hit another steep climb and I started to count 10 steps walking, 10 steps running, 20 steps running 30 steps running, 40 steps running, all the way up to 100 running and then you can run. I was at the top of the climb and I hard a sharp decent. On the decent my rib cage started to hurt. I felt like I was cramping in my abdominal muscle that I used for breathing. I had another gels and pushed the pain out of my mind. On every hill I ran down I groaned with pain it felt like my chest would not expand any further. I was hurting, hurting so much but I was so close to the end. I ran through another creek, followed shortly by another freezing cold creek and the cold water made my left calf cramp. Not now, I was all out of gels and I only had 2km to go. I needed a Cadel Evans Gel, but I have banned myself from taking them, as they over heat me too much. But I only had 2km to go and I was out of energy.  I hit the final climb, and I had to walk for 10 steps. I crossed the top of the Fitzroy Falls again and joined the track to the finish line. Before I knew it I hit the ground, I tripped on a rock and I was down on my front. Bugger I tripped on a small rock and I was hurt. I picked myself up and struggled up the trail to the finish line.
I crossed to line and I had finished in 2nd position 3 hours 37 minutes 53 seconds ( I think it was 3 hours 37  and 7 seconds or less I always start my time early) Their time is a bit wrong. Not to complain. It was a podium finish on a track that I have never seen. I bet the Local Girl Sarah, and I was beaten by 11 minutes by a Canberra Girl, in wet ,soggy and foggy conditions.
I will be back.