Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Queen Victoria Hospital to Fairmont Resort CP5- Finish

I ran into Check Point 5 in a time of 10 hours 49 minutes, relieved, freezing and dehydrated .The sun had well and truly disappeared, and the temperature had drop to just above freezing. I swear I could see some tiny snow flakes floating just ahead of me. Or was it my vision playing tricks on me? I could barely operate my back pack to get my thermals out. I was having troubles with my head torch also. An official who I had met a week ago came to my aid and helped me out. I had no support crew to help me. “We don’t want to to stop for too long, we have to keep you moving” He said. I was of risk of hyperthermia. I quickly put on my thermal top and gloves, I was ready to go, when I almost forgot to fill up with water. I found it so hard to get all my mandatory gear back into my bag that I had no idea how I was going to fit water in my back pack too.
The official said “What have you got in here?” , I replied “All my bloody mandatory gear!”, we had to carry a crepe bandage, compass, whistle, emergency blanket, thermal top, thermal bottom, wet weather jacket, beanie, gloves, fire lighter, matches, maps with their water proof map case, a fleece, 2 chocolate bars, 2 litres of water, a safety vest a pair water proof plants, plus any gels or power bars I may want to consume. So no wonder my bag was jam packed. I think it weighed over 5 kilos. It was heavy, and it was stuffed full. It was costing me time as I could barely fit all the gear in. 
Someone yelled, “There’s ‘Just a Mum’”, to his wife, implying that next year she should do the race too. I met this nice English runner about 70km ago, he still remembered me, and it was nice to see him again. It also meant that I was probably slowing down if people were catching me. This gave me the motivation to want to get out of the final check point and to finish the race.
We filled up with water, but it was too full to fit in my bag, it was full of air, we tried to stuff the bladder into my bag, we tipped water out, finally I said “I’ll have a drink to release some of the pressure”, I was dehydrated, so I better start drinking to help my recovery. This was costing me minutes, I knew there would be another female on my tail. I quickly drank the excess water from my bladder and we were able to fit it into my camel bak, barely closing to zip. I put my own back pack on, and he helped me put on my safety vest for night road running.
The official said “Go for it!” and I was off. There was only 11km to go. Thats just a short run for me, I can do it.
My head torch was shit! I could hardly see where I was going, every time I breathed out my breath created a white cloud to obscure my vision. I ran off trying to navigate, following the glowing pink and white ribbons. I knew there was about 3km of road before it hit a single man track again. I was hoping my head torch would improve. 
I found the track, following another runners light, trying to keep them in sight. But I was slowing, I almost tripped a few times. This head torch was not preforming like it had for Oxfam, I was slowing, and it was dangerous. I passed Wentworth falls and Breakfast Point. I was still going okay, I had no idea what the time was, or how fast I was going. I just had try and be safe first, then quick second. There was no point in falling over and injuring myself now.
The English runner came running up behind me, his head torch made a silhouette of my body, creating darkness in front of me. My light was nothing compared to his. I asked him to go in front. We ran on for a few hundred meters, then he stopped, “Get out your other torch, and use it also, it will help you .” he said. I quickly got my back up torch out of my bag. It was brighter than my main torch. I used this one as a hand torch, running with it in my hand using it to find the path as I ran along this cruel way to end an event.
I was low on glucose, dehydrated and I was now just trying to hold on until the end. There was little lights dotted around the trails in the bush. I felt like we were blind mice stuck in a maze, and we were trying to find our way out. I needed to eat, so I let the English guy go on.
I saw the 5km to go marker, I was amazed that there was less than a short 30 minute run to go. This was when I saw a runner come up behind me. “Hi, go past” I said to the runner, “Thank you” She said, from her accent I could tell she was a Kiwi. I said “Good Luck, well Done”. And off she went. She looked great. She replied “Are we on the right track?” Man if she looked good and was having troubles I did not feel so bad. Jean Beaumont was on the Solomon Team, and even she was having troubles navigating this spaghetti of tracks, I was not doing so bad then.
I ran on, past Edinburgh Castle and the track dropped down again, another set of stairs, this section was dangerous. There was safety tape marking cliff drop offs. I thought this again was hilarious, as it was just so hairy, any false move and you drop to a nasty injury or worse.
I descended to stairs to Lillian’s Glen, and I found the English Guy again, I said “It’s only 3km to go” He replied “Yeah, but they are tough 3km, they don’t make it easy”. I passed him and another runner on the stairs and ran across the bridge and walked up another set of stairs. I was due to eat again. I could not believe that I caught these 2 guys again. They must be hurting, My legs still felt good, I just felt weak. I had another gel, and kept going. I was only a lap, around Sydney park to go. I made it to the top of the stairs, knowing that it was only 2.5km to go. That is just a run to Glebe from my house. I can do it. I had lost track of time. I was just putting one foot in front of the other and just trying to run where it was safe.
I saw the 2km mark. I started to run, up small stairs, then  some flats, tree roots, stones, sticks, logs were everywhere, I took a running step, and “Bang” I was on my front.I tripped over a tree root, got my arm caught in a vine and I was flat on my front. “Shona, you idiot”, I picked myself up, untangled myself from the vine, swore a few to myself and kept going. I must be only 1500m away. That was only 3 laps around Sydney Park Oval. I can do it, it is almost over.
I ran on, trying to get a rhythm back, I looked up and I saw the lights from the Fairmont Resort. I started to cry. I did it I was home.
I ran past the golf course, up the front lawn, I looked back and there was a light behind me. I put my head down and ran with all my strength to pick up some speed and to maintain my position. I was on the back lawn of the Resort looking for the finish line, I asked a spectator “Where’s the finish?” He gestured  to the finish line which was positioned behind some bushes, and up one final set of stairs. “Not up more stairs!” I exclaimed.
I ran up the final set of stairs and along the final straight. I was so exhausted, sick, happy ,excited all at once that I forgot to pose for the cameras at the finish. Obviously I was delirious, I always pose for the cameras at the finish. I had no one I knew waiting for me at the finish, Mikey said he would not meet me as the kids would need to go to bed. This saddened me, that that is life. I was ahead of schedule and Mikey was not expecting me until later. The kids would be ratty, and he would be tired, so he and my kids were not at the finish line of my first Solo 100km. But that is life when you are a mum.I ran straight inside. I just wanted to hop in a cab and get to my family who were staying at a cottage in Leura. 
Whilst I was inside, I lined up to collect my certificate and to check my time. I started to cough, and cough, and cough and cough, I drew a fair amount of attention I was so loud and sick sounding. Everything that I had breathed in , including my mucus from my nose needed to come out. I was sick and it showed. I coughed so much I needed to sit down. I then realised I was really delirious. I said “I don’t feel really with it” The bright lights, people, dehydration,  the warmth activity of the finish was playing tricks on me. I was back in the real world. And it felt weird. I was low on glucose. “Have a Lollie” An Official said. With in a few minutes I was feeling better. Still coughing, but better.  “I need a chocolate milk”. I was exhausted. I needed replenishment. 
I waited for my certificate.  “What is your last name?” An official said, “Stephenson, Shona Stephenson”. I realised that there was another Shona, Shona Scott. I beat her by about 50 minutes. I felt like saying, The Shona who has finished! Must be something about that name. I saw the winning female. She said her time “11 hours 38 minutes” I said “ Did you win?” she replied “Yes”. I congratulated her, she was over the moon with her performance, and pretty impressed with my first Solo effort. She was a really nice person, I wished her good luck. I told her that I had to get going as I had kids waiting for me. She was amazed that I could get any training in, I told her I was only able to train for this event on 2 occasions, 2 times 54km loops.
I was given my certificate, it read, 12 Hours 50 Minutes 42 seconds. I was over the so proud. 40 minutes in front of my goal for the day, 20 minutes behind my ultimate goal. I was even more blown away by the “Silver The North Face Belt Buckle” I was handed. I forgot that if you go under 14 hours you were award this prestigious prize.
I grabbed a milk, and walked out to the foyer of the resort and ordered a taxi. I wanted to get back to my family. I heard a voice, “There’s Shona” I turned around, I did not recognise the people at first, my eyes and my brain still had not adjusted to reality. My brain was fried. It was Brent the trainer from Sydney Park. They saw me at the 54km mark and they were looking out for me all day. Their friend was still out there running. They were blown away with my effort. I really did not recognise this guy who I see every week that is how altered my vision was. It is crazy that lack of sleep, dehydration, low glucose stores and a whole heap of caffeine can do to your mind. We chatted for a while, until my cab came.
I arrived at the cottage freezing, only in a thermals, running gear and some gloves on. I knocked frantically on the door. Mikey opened, and gave me the biggest hug. He just put the kids to bed when he realised that I had already finished. They could have been at the finish line I was so fast. Maybe next time.
I jumped in the shower, I had 4 bad chaffing marks on my back that hurt when they were wet, I washed my hair, got dressed and sat down to eat a well deserved pizza. I waited an hour, hydrated, ate some marmite on toast then lied down on the lounge had a long awaited glass of champagne. Job done, I can’t wait to do it all again next year. But do it better!

Katoomba Aquatic Centre to Queen Victoria Hospital CP4-CP5

At the 67 km mark I had just caught up with 3 blokes, they went straight for the drinks stand, I went straight for my support bag. I filled up with water 1.5 litres, put more food in my running belt, and emptied out my rubbish. I had a look for Mikey and the Kids, but could not see them. I put my mandatory gear, a fleece and water proof pants, in my back pack. These items had to be carried from Check Point 4 until the end of the race in my bag. An official checked that I had all my gear, asked if I wanted a hot drink, I said “Do you have Milo?”, I was trying to get out of there as fast as possible, I had no Idea where the next female was, and I was coming 4th at this stage.
I was on my way out when I has handed a steaming hot milo. It was too hot to scull, so I said no to it and ran out the door of the aquatic centre.
I had planned my water for the previous leg perfectly, I had just run out in the final kilometre the 66km mark, so I was as lite as possible when I was climbing out of Nellies Glen. There always seemed to be a line at the check point drink stations, and I just did not want to have to stop. It was like I would enter a different world of the living if I started communicating with anyone else. I was so focused on getting in and out of the check points as quick as possible that I may be doing myself some damage.
When I ran out of the Aquatic centre I came up behind the Blue Shirt Guy. I told him I was a head of schedule by an hour, and I felt good. “I’ve been eating every 30 minutes” I told him, he replied “I’ve hardly eaten at all, are you tired?” I said “I’m a mum I spend my whole life tired.”, we ran together through a reserve in Katoomba, he let me lead, I set a cracking pace on the soft and spongey grass patch called Mc Rae’s Paddock, a place of significant Aboriginal Heritage, I can see why, this place was fantastic, it was like running on springy pillows, I was loving it. It should be respected and looked after.  I avoided this section in training because I was lost and it looked like it was house hundreds of leeches! I was training in torrential rain, so I was sure the leeches would be out, especially after my 6 Foot Track experience I was convinced they were everywhere.
We ran along chatting, I told him “ I have missed my kids, my family was not at the check point, I don’t have a support crew.”, he replied, “That must piss you off”, I said “Nah, I am an hour early, it is a good thing, I hope they work it out by themselves, they should be tracking me”.
We ran along the cliff for a while, then up some stairs, he started to cramp. I offered him some hydrolytes. He said he had some salt tablets. He just wanted to stretch, so I left him there and ran on. He seemed to be okay. The track was covered with tourist, some of them were great, cheering for me, others just got in my way. I tried to call out to them in advanced but some of them did not speak English, so I had to be a bit more forceful than I would have liked to get past them. 
I hit another set of stair to climb and I was swearing again, “Fuck, Fuck, Fuck”. One tourist from England asked “Does that help?” I replied “Yes, it makes me feel better, after 68km it all hurts you have to do anything to keep yourself amused.”
I ran out and past the Echo Point, then down to the Three Sisters. I came to the Giant Stair Case and there was an official warning tourist that we were coming through. I was so thankful that he was there and I did thank him for his help. I had my gloves on, so I used my hands as a brakes as I tried to stop the controlled falling that I was doing as I flew down the stairs holding onto the banisters for balance and to control the speed of my descent down these incredible staircase. I caught one runner, then another, then another. I was flying. I was doing it. Only 1 more check point, and this long down down hill section I was going to make great time.
More tourist were climbing the stairs, but they all saw me, I tried to work out where they were from, “Mesice” I said as I ran past the French tourist.The was a few groups of them , I was impressed that they went down so far.
The stairs just go on forever, they changed from sandstone to metal  stairs then back to sandstone again. I caught my finger on a pole and jarred it as I ran down them. I thought that was going to hurt later. I was flying, swopping angles of my knees from side to side to reduce the impact as I descended.
I hit the bottom of the stairs I turned left onto Dardanelles Pass, and hit the Leura Forest floor. It was beautiful, warm and I knew which way to go. In training I had no idea where to go and spent most of the time lost, but on race day there is a marker every 500m. I then followed Federal Pass towards Fern Bower, over a cute little bridge then I turned onto the Track that I missed in training, and smiled to myself that I was doing it all so much easier compared to training. The markers made it so easy to navigate and I lost no time as I followed the path with ease. I knew I had a massive down hill section coming up. I ran onto the single man track which soon became a fire trail and I caught another runner, I passed some officials who where checking in the runners at the bottom of the canyon and started to feel hot.
My head was hot, my body was hot. I remembered my near muscle melt down insadent that I had at Oxfam last year, when one of my legs had to do the work of both of my legs. I suffered some muscle damage in my right quad due to me over using it because I had multiple stress fracture in my left foot. I carrie that injury into the event, not wanting to let my all female team down. Our team ended up coming 2nd female team and 10th overall in a time of 17 hours and 9 minutes.
This thought crept in, and I decided to slow a bit, drink water and try and cool myself down. I thought about all the caffeine gels I had consumed and all the drink stops I had missed, and I knew I had to cool off. I was going at a cracking speed, but I was worried. Your mind can play tricks with you when you are tired,dehydrated and low on glucose. My nose had stopped running, I had a head cold, it had been running all day, so I knew I needed more fluid. I had a big drink, and kept running. A man from the Sunshine Coast ran up next to me and passed me on the Hill. He looked at my name tag, and asked me how I was going. I said “ I’m okay, just hot” I was dressed in just a singlet, gloves, cap, compression shorts, compression tights, bra and undies, running belt, back pack and that was it. He was in a beanie, thermals, top, long compression tights, gloves, shorts, back pack and all his smalls. He was covered head to toe and he was still cold. I was hot, I felt hot in my head. I had consumed too much caffeine and not enough water, and I was feeling it.
I let him go on, I said, “I’ll catch you on the down”, I ran on knowing that a massive descent of 3km was up ahead, followed by another awesome descent of 2km, so I knew I could recover there. 
I stopped to have a wee, at least that was working, I had only done 3 the whole day. I felt lighter and kept running, trying to keep myself positive. I hit the descent and just relaxed, and tried to left my legs go and make gravity do all the work for me. My Garmin watch was no longer working so I had to rely on my own senses to gage how fast I was going. I caught the Sunshine Coast Man, and another runner dressed in Camo. He asked me if I was on a team, I said “No, it’s my first solo 100km and I am just a mum.” He replied, “A pretty ballzey effort for your first 100km, you are making great time”, I replied “I’m just hot, I’d rather do it faster and get it over and done with”. We ran on together as a three some for a while. They asked my where the bottom was, I said “We still have 2 more creeks to cross”, I hit another steep hill and left them behind again, we hit Leura Creek and I ran straight through, then I hit a climb. I walked for 20 steps, then ran for 20, and continued on until I could run up to 100. I was slowing, but I felt in control. I was just over heated and I knew what was ahead. On this climb I turned around and saw a female runner. She was from Hong Kong, but she was English. She was the loveliest person, and we ran together and chatted to each other for the next  2km. She asked me “Are we were on the climb out yet?” I replied, “No, we still have 1 more creek to cross”. She asked “Where do we head out?” I gestured up towards to sky, where the towering sand stone cliffs of the Kings Tableland over shadowed us. The look on her face was of pure horror. The climb out was to take us 859 meters above Sea level and it ran for 9km along a fire trail. It was going to hurt, and it was the only way out.
We hit Jamison Creek as a group, I let them all go on without me. I needed to run at my own pace, and I was due to eat. So I slowed and started to walk. In training I was able to run up the climb, but today I was just too hot, I took my cap off my head, to try and realise the heat from my body. I was pushing myself hard and it was showing. I drank again, with my food, trying to find something without caffeine in it. Everything had caffeine in it!
I was alone for most of this climb, I hit a rhythm, counting again, 20 steps, tried to run,but I could not run. Then it was 40 steps, then 60 steps, then 80 steps, 100 steps. I then tried to run for 20 steps. Then I walked again, then tried to run for 40 steps, then walked then tried to run for 60 steps. the tried to run for 80 steps. My goal was to try and run for 100 steps. I only made it to 70 steps before I had to walk again. I was tired and negative thoughts were entering my head. I kept checking my watch and I kept reminding myself that I was still making great time.
I came across the Mount Solitary Walking Track, and I found 3 hikers, “Hi” I said and kept walking, I was amazed that I flew straight past them at a cracking pace even though I was walking. I reminded myself, that I was cool, I’m not a good climber, so I was doing just fine, I walked a few hundred meters and they were no where to be seen. This was the first time since August 2010 that I have been able to walk and push through my feet, my stress fractures have prevented me from walking for over 8 months, no wonder i was still making great time, my feet had finally healed. I was still doing okay. This spurred me on. I was able to walk at an amazing pace straight up this mountain. I felt a bit better, I tried to run again. I tried to drink some water, but I had it use it all up. Great I still had about 4km until the check point to try and stay focused on the race without water. Again I could only make it to 70 steps before I had to walk. But I knew I was near the top, I saw the “Swine fence”, this gate was wide open and been held open with a rope, I thought this was hilarious, and they let the wide bores run freely for our race! Great, someone is going to get attacked by a wild bore later tonight. This marked the steepest section of the climb, and I was so happy to be putting it behind me.
I now started to feel the cold, the sun had almost set, it was about 5pm and I was almost at the top of the climb and the light was fading and the temperature was dropping. Finally I was starting to freeze. I needed to eat again, but I realised I was out of water, you need to consume water with your gels otherwise it can upset your stomach. I found a power bar, and just took small bites of it every now and again.
I found my gloves and pulled out my head torch from my bag. I was feeling quite weak by now, low on glucose and tired that I could not work out my head torch. I swear I had it pointing up to the sky. I had it on up-side down. I played with it again, trying desperately to get it working, the light of my head torch was so dim, something was not right. I was too delirious to want to slow and stop again and use my other torch. I was not thinking straight. What made it worse was that every time I breathed the condensation from my breath made a white cloud in front of my face blurring my vision, making it harder to see where I was going. I kept checking for someone to come up behind me and helped me out, I needed help. I was not well, and I was at my limit.
I was slowing down, another runner came up next to me, I said “I’ve run out of water” I think I had been without water for about 3km by then. He replied “Don’t worry the Check Point is just up ahead”, I pushed on slowing down and getting unsteady on my feet, almost falling over. He came up to my left side and offered me some of his water, I had just a sip, but it made me feel better. i ran on trying to stay on my feet.  After a few more kilometres I saw the lights of the check point. It was pure bliss, I could drink again. I could get warm I was freezing, but I did not want to waist time stopping to get something out of my back pack again, so I kept moving. Finally I ran into the check point number 5. At the 89km mark, a few tears in my eyes, knowing that I was going to get some water, and a thermal on and re-group.

6 Foot track to Katoomba Aquatic Centre CP3-CP4

I arrived at the Check Point 3 after a long low hill run of about 5km so I felt fresh, I had covered 54km in about 6 Hours 6minutes hours give or take a few minutes. I saw the drinks table and again it was full of blokes filling up and having a drink. I avoided this area and ran straight to my support bag.
Mikey and the girls were at a Regional Show In Windsor. I did not expect my husband to come to that check point. I thought it would be silly to drag the kids out  in a car following me around the mountains. So I quickly grabbed my food bag, filled up my running belt with as many gels as possible and felt my back pack, decided that there was enough water still in the Camel Bak and kept running. Just when I was exiting the check point I recognised another personal trainer who I see a few times a week, he was supporting his mate in the race. He saw me and said, “Wow, Shona your doing really well” in a astonished , low, voice, like he could not even believe how well i was going. It was so weird seeing him that just out of pure realisation of how well I was going, how hard I was working , and I still had 46km to go, I tilted my head back, looked up to the sky and, I let out an all mighty “FUCK!!!!!!!!”. This received a few laughs and cheers from the crowd, and made Brent Laugh also.
I ran past him, really happy with my progress, started eating again, ran past the turn off, and had to double bag for about 5 meters. I was on The 6 Foot Track, a track I know well, and I was over 1/2 way and I was still feeling great, and I speed on. I let out a few tears, I was so proud of myself, I said “Your doing it”, I thought about my kids and how I was going to make them and my family proud. I was just so emotional, living my dream and doing it so well.
I was happy to find that this part of the trail was shorter than I had trained for, as the private land cut off a massive corner of The 6 Foot Track. I was making great time, I started the long climb of 8km up to Nelly’s Glen. I felt a little heavy, so I stopped for a quick wee, there was no one in sight. Just as I pulled my pants up a female runner came flying up behind me. I noticed that she had a Team Bib on, so she was not racing against me in the Solo event, she had only just started. I wished her luck, she was running with 2 hiking poles. I thought that was over kill... But when she about 10 meters past me she let out a scream. A red belly black snake was slithering across the fire trail in front of her, I am sure her hiking poles helped her avoid the venomous snake. I giggled to myself, thinking what awesome luck I had to avoid the snake.
I ran on until it became too steep to run. I then started the steady steep climb out of Nellie Glen up to Katoomba. It switched back to a single man track, crossing rocky and slippery creek beds before you hit the stairs. There are over 800 steps that you have to climb. There is just no use looking up to see where to top is, the climb is 1000m above sea level, so you just have to put your head down and accept that your quads are going to burn and it is going to hurt. I was just really happy it was a dry day, and the leeches would not be attacking me. I kept looking behind me thinking that surely someone will be catching me. But no one came up the Glen. I kept checking my watch, trying to decide wether or not I should call Mikey, but I just did not want to stop and lose precious minutes.
I arrived at the top of Nellies Glen, feeling tired, but so happy the final massive stair climb had been conquered. The trail followed the cliffs for a while and I checked my watch again. I was about an hour early. Mikey would not be at the check point yet. This did not bother me too much as I had pre-packed my bags and they would be sitting there ready for my at the check point.
After a few kilometres of bush track and a few kilometres of road, I came up behind 3 men who were running together. I recognised one of them, the Blue Shirt Guy who I spoke with earlier. I was blown away that I was able to catch men on a climb. I was really proud of myself. Even more proud of my time, I was hitting Katoomba CP4 the 67 km mark at 2:30pm. Meaning that I had completed the 67km in 7 Hours 37 minutes. 53 Minutes ahead of schedule.

Narrow Neck To Dunphy's Camp CP2-CP3

I arrived at the first check point right on time, I had just completed a tough section, with all the stairs to be climbed and the Landslide to be crossed, the first section of the track was really technical. I still felt fresh and I had heaps of water still in my camel bak, so when I saw the line at the check point for water, I decided that I did not need to fill up, or event stop for a drink, I just grabbed some caffeine gels and kept going.
Nerea, stopped only to say Hi to her Team support crew, and she was off also, up the long fire trail of Narrow Neck Plateau. She was a fantastic climber, not really fast, but just consistent, she just kept powering on up the ridge. I put my head  down, took 20 walking steps then took 40 running steps, then 20 walking steps then 60 running steps, then 20 walking steps then 80 running steps, until I was at 100 running steps, and then I could run up the climb.
Nerea was the world champion who was tipped to win the event,  I wanted to run at my own pace and own rhythm, there was no point trying to keep up with her on a climb, she was from Spain! Their mountains are huge over there, I live in Camperdown, I only have 100m climbs near where I live! 
I was running along Narrow Neck Plateau, making great time of about 6 minute kilometres, then under 6 minute kilometres. Narrow Neck  is one of the most gorgeous places in the mountain, it is a sandstone plateau that reaches an elevation of 1072m, the day was clear and when I could take my eyes off the track,  I tried to take in the view, it was such a perfect day, the sun was shinning and it was clear, I could see for miles. I kept saying to myself, just perfect, beautiful,awesome. I was having a ball. And at about the 25km mark I was still fresh, and I was making great time.
Close to the end of the Plateau, there are a set of “climbing spikes”, at Tarros Ladder, near Duncan's pass. In training I found these most humorous, because I was by myself and I did not read the track notes, so when I was trying to figure out a way to get off the plateau, and I spotted the spikes, I thought it was the funniest joke of the day! I am only 5 foot 2 and 1/2 inches, and in training when I was descending these spikes, every step down was a leap of faith, I had to trust that there was a step, or a spike where my foot needed to go next. However, in the race there was a ladder with a rope net around it so prevent any falls. So this section was so easy. We hit a single man track again, then another set of climbing ladders. Again we followed the line down the caged ladder. Back onto another single man track, I caught another group of guys, then passed them on the track, just before it opened back out onto a fire trail at Medlow Gap.
I rolled down the hills, passing more guys, one staid I was in 4th position, I said, “It is a long race, and it is my first SOLO 100km”, he asked me “What team I was on”, I said “I’m just a mum”, he laughed, “Just a Mum”. We ran together for a while, then another climb came, and I let the guys go again. Again I started my counting, 20 walking steps, 40 running steps, 20 walking, 60 running, 20 walking 80 running, 20 walking 100 running. When I got to 100 running steps, I could run until the climb became more challenging. 
Another guy in a blue shirt asked me what time I was aiming for, I said 13 and a half. He said “we wree right on time for 13.5 hours, but he got 13:42 last year.” I said cool, he asked “What time I did you get at 6 Foot Track ?”  I replied “4 hours 32minutes”, He said “I ran it in 4Hours 22 minutes”. This kind of put me off a bit. He was faster than me , and fitter than me and he still still did not make it in under the 13 hour mark. I disliked him  from then. I wanted to prove him wrong. I knew I was going well and I was right on time. He said “it will all depend on how you deal with the last section”.
We climbed up and onto Bellbird Ridge which was 800m above sea level,  I pointed to another runner the gap in the trees, meaning that we were close to the top, and it was not far until the check point. 
We climbed for a few more hundred meters, then descended a steep gravel track to a camp Site called Dunphy’s Camp. This was the Check Point 2, at the 38km mark.
I was still on time, it was about 10am, so I had been running for 4 hours.

The North Face 100km Start Fairmont Resort to CP2 Narrow Neck

I’m just a Mum” is what I said to the other runners who were asking me if I was on a Sponsored Shoe  Label Team when I was running The North Face 100km event on Saturday. 
Solomon, a trail running shoe brand sent out an entire Team of about 15 Trail Runners to steal the lime light off The North Face, a rival adventure brand. The competition was going to be tough this year, and records were going to be broken. The times that won the event in the past, were not going to be good enough, so for me to try and be top 10 I had to run as fast as the top three girls did last year. This was my challenge in my first ever 100km Solo Event.
The Solomon Team were the people to beat, to check out,  and to admire for their strength, skill and speed. They were in the crowd, they stood out dressed in their Red Solomon uniform and they were the ones to stick close too. They were the ones being paid to be at the event and to win it. It was in my best interest to be as near to them as possible. Spain, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia were all represented in their Team, and even one of my role models was in their Team , and on The North Face Team was Ultra Endurance Runner Lisa Tamati. I was looking out for her in the crowd. 
So at the start line, I made the bold decision to start right beside them, not to be a scared of them, to run out with them and hope that I could hold on for as long as possible. I know I am a great starter, and a fantastic descender, so I needed to be up at the front so I could run at my speed and not have anyone slow me down.
I always chat to people at the start line, I spoke to the lady next to me, she was freezing, she was from Singapore, and she was on the Solomon Team. She then asked me what team I was on I said “I’m Just a Mum”, “no I’m not a sponsored runner from a shoe company!  And no I have not run this event before, and this was my first Solo 100km”. This was the first time I was asked this...Too funny!
The gun went, and we were off, I ran straight up a hill with no warm up, through the streets of Leura, I ran next to a Solomon Runner, I wished her good luck, she was an Aussie, and she wished me luck also. She was just as nervous as me, and hated being on the road, I was having a ball running next to all these professional runner and at this stage, and I was not doing so bad, they did not sprint off into the distance, they were running at the same pace as me. A hill came, and I moved ahead off her, I found the next Solomon Runner, from the back she looked like she could be Lisa Tamati, from behind, long dark brown hair, a more solid build. I caught her, and said a few words to her, wished her good luck, but she said nothing in return. I ran next to her again, said a few more words, then she said “Non English”, I then worked out she was the Spanish girl to beat. 
We hit the bush for the first time and the view was amazing, we had a beautiful clear day, and I could see all the amazing rock formations of the Blue Mountains canyon, I love it, I was finally running in this world Famous event next to some of the best athletes in the world and having a ball. I was following Nerea Martinez, a Spanish Runner, she was setting the pace, and it was slower than I like at this stage, I knew that I wanted it a bit faster, but there was no where to pass, I had no idea who was out in front of me, how many females, and she was slower than I would like on the stairs, so when we came back out on the road again, I felt good, another hill came and I just rolled down and passed her. A few more climbs, a few more hills and then the 30 minutes came and I eat, I tried to eat a “Ride Bar” but it was too big and bulky, my noes was running like a tap because i still had that cold I have had for a few weeks now,  so I could not breathe if I was eating, so I slowed a bit and Nerea passed me again.
We hit the bush, and she slowed down again. I did not mind this as it was along race and I felt really relaxed, so I allowed her to lead for a few kms, but it was getting to the stage that I thought she was slowing me down on purpose...She was too slow on the stairs climbing, so I said the the guy in front of me who was called Scott, he was in the Navy, “We have to over take her, she is too slow for me and I feel good now, I have to run my own race, she can catch me on a climb later”, so on the next set of stairs I used my “fast feet” technique and flew past her with Scott following me close behind. 
Scott had a cold too, we were both sniffing as we ran, I think most of the people from Sydney running the race that day were sick with that awful head cold. We ran together chatting, for a while, he too had a child, but she was 20 and and in her Third year of Uni! I soon became quite as the climbs became more challenging along the Federal Pass, we ran up behind another runner, and he was setting a nice pace, we rested for a while behind him and we were in a team of 3 for a while, we slowed slightly and let him set the pace, the pace was quick, but manageable. So we started  chatting, calling out to each other if we saw danger, looking after each other.
I was talking to the guy in front of me when I forgot to tell Scott to “duck”, and poor Scott, who was a foot taller than me got an all mighty head hit from a low hanging tree branch. I checked to see if he was okay. He was cool, but a bit shaken. We lost him off the back for a while, he was hurt, he slowed slightly, but he was okay, with in the next kilometre or so he was back on our little train again. We came to the “Land Slide”, and slowed, we had to take it easy and we scampered, crawled, jumped and climbed over this scaring the earth, when we passed, we hit our rhythm again over the rolling hills of the Federal pass until we hit the “Golden Stair Case”.
This was the first real set of Stairs that we had to climb for the day. I started swearing at them, cursing them, I got angry with them. It was a way that I did it. It made me feel better about the situation, and brought a few laughs from my fellow runners and the few spectators who braved the cold and windy conditions. The burn in my legs was insane, I knew that eventually the burn will stop, I think my brain knows that there is no point telling me that it hurts, because I am not going to stop, so it stops sending the messages to my legs!
I got to the top of the stairs and Nerea passed me again. I knew she had more to give, and she was resting and trying to slow me down. She was a professional and she was doing her job, she was in a team and I had know idea who was out in front of me. We hit the check point 1, The Fair Mont reserve to Narrow Neck at the 18km mark and I was dead on schedule for my spits, 2 hours and 5 minutes. Ahead by 1 minute.
Well done.

The Great NOSH 2011

I ran through the crowd, running late for the start of The Great Nosh, I usually warm up on the Trail, but this year I had 12 of my clients running the historic event with me, so there was toilet stops, bag drops, coffees to be drunk and warm ups to be done on the oval, before I let out a call to head down to the track. I knew that if I did not go then, I would not be able to get a good position at the front of the pack.
It was a beautiful sunny mild winter morning for the 37th Annual The Great Nosh a 15km trail run from East Lindfield Oval to Seaforth Oval, NOSH stands for Northside Orienteers and Sydney Harriers, a club which amalgamated with the Bennelong Orienteers. It is Sydney’s oldest Orienteering club founded in 1971. My Uncle Ian use to run The Nosh back in the 70s and 80s, and as I have said before his time gets faster every year! I am still trying to beat his time of 70 minutes. Last year I managed 82 minutes on a wet track, my first attempt I managed 87 minutes. This year I set my goal this year for 78 minutes as last year the winner only beat me by 3 minutes. I hoped that 78 minutes would be good enough to get me a great position.
I spoke to a few of the regular guys at the front of the pack, one of them I ran with for a while on The North Face 100km, we wished each other good luck, and pre-pared ourselves for a very different race.
The siren went off and I sprinted down the fire trail, as fast as my body would allow, I let the blokes pass me, after the 2km mark I was hurting. I was panting, but I got out all my nervous energy in the first 2km.  I was in my anaerobic system and I felt like crap. Doubts crept into my head, I felt sick, I thought there were women catching me, but I just had to say to myself , “Just run to your target time, and you will be okay” I went out hard, and that is just how I do it, I always feel rubbish for the first 30-40 minutes and I just have to wait until I to feel better. 
Straight up the bush stairs I went, panting, trying to catch my breath. “Oi, oi! This way” I called out to one of the men in front of me as he followed a path to a dead end. I shot up another set of stairs, my legs were burning, but the climbs were short so I knew I would have a quick recovery if I got my legs moving fast again, up another set of stairs and I was on the flat at the top. The lost bloke ran past me again “Thank you” he said. “I have to help someone every year at that spot” I replied back still trying to catch my breath. After a few short climbs I had to run the gauntlet of “single man track”, along descending bush stairs, rocks, creeks, under a cliff of a rock over hang and over few small wooded bridges before I started a climb from water level at Gordon Creek up to the Roseville Bridge. I was still the first female at the 5km point, last year the winner past me at the 6km mark when I was on the bridge, I was pushing my self as hard as I could to hit my splits and to stay in front.  I hit the 5km mark in 21 minutes,  4 minutes ahead of schedule, cool I’m on target. I scrambled up the loose and dusty dirt track that is under the Roseville Bridge, past a few blokes. I screamed and yelled, as my legs were killing me. But I knew it was only a short distance to climb before I got a rest so I pushed through the pain and I was up on the Roseville Bridge.
At this point I was able to take a look down to see there was a red headed female behind me, but just one. I kicked it on. I was strong from my training and races in the Blue Mountains, and I thought she would have to be a tough chick to catch me. I knew I could hold her off if she did not catch me in the first 5-8km.
The first time I ran The Nosh, I got to the top of the Roseville Bridge and I looked for a taxi to get me the hell out of there. If I had $50 on me I would have caught a cab to the finish line to meet my dad to pick me up and take me home. I was in so much trouble 3 years ago. No water, no gels, all heart. I have learnt so much about nutrition and how to fuel my body. This time I felt great, I had made it first to the bridge, and I was flying.
I ran down the hill off the Roseville Bridge and consumed a gel and some water, I pushed on up a set of stairs past some Oxfam Trail walkers training for Oxfam. They seemed amazed that we would run up that section of the course. I hit the top and started a slow climb to the 7.5km point. I always smile at this section, as the race is almost over, it is such a short distance after you have just completed a 100km event. The was still a heap of climbing to be done though.
A bloke ran up behind me, I asked if he wanted to pass, he said “Nah, I’ve been trying to run you down for 8km now” after a few hundred meters he recovered and I let him pass. I noticed he was the guy from Northside Runners, we spoke a while about shoes, and the races we entered.
I hit the junction of the Magazine track and where The Nosh split, there was a rock to scramble up, with a rope, then a creek crossing, and a narrow heath track. It was steep and I was hurting again, I was out of breath, I saw the houses and the grassy lawn, of the next climb, I looked behind me and I saw a female. The red-head had caught me.
“You caught me, well done” I said expecting her to fly straight past. When she did not I put my head down and started the climb. I caught the Northside Runners guy, he was walking, “Come on” I said, to get him running again, “I know what this race has in front of me, so I am taking it easy, have you done it before?” I replied “Three Times”, so he started running again. I was pushing with all my power in my legs, I looked back for the red-head, she was still behind but not getting any closer.
I made it to the top, and I excelarated, overtook a few guys saying “I’m first female, there is a female just behind, you can catch me on the hills”, They let me through and I jumped and leaped, and rabbited down the boulders of the ridge, through scrub along a tiny track, out of the bush across more back yards, across a creek crossing and I hit another set of bush stairs. I let the blokes pass me again as I climbed the stairs, they were quicker than me on the climbs.
I hit the top and took off again back down into the glen, out onto a fire trail and I took off again, trying to stay with the guys ahead of me. A South African Man ran past asking me “Is my ear bleeding badly?” There was blood coming from his ear, I panted back “Nah, it will bleed anyway your running so fast”.
We crossed another creek crossing, then up a set of bush stairs. I again checking to see who was behind me. I think she was there but I could not tell.
I ran on feeling strong, cardiovascular I felt great I just could not extend my legs any further, so I was at top speed. I consumed another gel and some water at the 12km drink stop, and continued up the hill, passing a few blokes,as I ran past the football fields,and then up another set of bush stairs, some more rock scrambling, but I knew it was the last climb to be done, so I pushed up it as fast as I could, and I ran out behind more back lawns of houses, where I caught a group of guys, and directed them the correct way to go. I looked back and I could not see the red-head. I sped up, we hit the final fire trail, I was running as fast as I could stretch my legs, looking back a few times and checking for the red-head. I told the guy next to me,“When we hit the bush it is 1km to go, we are almost there” In return he offered me some water “Nah, I’m good.” He looked like he was really pushing it. I checked behind me again, I could only see a guy coming. We hit the final bush section, and I could not go any faster. I knew I had won the female race, and I was happy. I ran over more slippery rocks, up some more bush stairs, and I knew I was getting close.
300m to go and I was still in first position, I did it, I could hear the crowd at the finish line, I was almost there when a young guy ran up behind me, and we sprinted down the to the finishing line racing each other flat out. He just beat me on the line, even though the officials gave us the same time. I checked the ticket and I did the 15km in 77:50. 10 seconds under schedule. I was stoked. A week ago I was on crotches, with a strained calf muscle and a suspected stress fracture in my foot, and only a week later I was winning another race. I was over the moon. Finally I was able to win one of the toughest trail runs in Sydney, and I did it on a wet track. I was ecstatic.

Newsletter The Great NOSH

HI All,
We have had a busy weekend, we had our Friday Night Drinks and Oxfam Team Launch Night on Friday Night, followed closely by The Great Nosh on on Sunday. Milla had a quick over night stay in the hospital on Friday Night with gastro so she could be re-hydrated, but I still managed to get to the start of The Great Nosh.
It was a picture perfect day for the 37th The Great Nosh, one of my favourite trail runs, from East Lindfield Oval to Seaforth Oval and my first ever trail run that I ever entered. It has a long history in my family, my uncle Ian ran in it back in the 70s and 80s, and every year I ask him what is fastest time is, and every year it gets faster. But I am slowly catching his elusive time of 70 minutes!
This year I was the proudest Personal Trainer in Sydney, possibly Australia when I had a team of 12 of us , Great Outdoor Runners entered into this historic event. We were the biggest group in attendance and we were all female ,(plus Tim, Sophie’s Husband, Janet’s Brother). 
312 people were running and walking the 15km wet and variable course. There was everything from mud, creek crossings, back lawns of houses, single man trails, fire trails, the Roseville Bridge, roads, rock hopping or scrambling, sand, puddles, bush stairs, all this with an uphill finish at Seaforth Oval on the Seaforth Plateau. It was tough, and the terrain was extremely wet and slippery, everyone did so well under the extreme conditions. The men were dropping like flies, there was blood, and muddy runners everywhere, finishing the event was a huge achievement in itself and any time close to 2 hours and under 2.5 hours was a fantastic effort.
Everyone met their own personal goal and achieved so much more than they thought they could. Everyone had a ball. It is not like running in a road race, Trail runs are so much more fun, they keep you guessing at every turn, and there was a great community feel to the events. I am sure everyone will be back next year to try and beat their times. Here are their times below for the tough 15km.
Shona Stephenson   77:50
Renae van der Pol    93:40
Lesley Greenwell      94:45
Kellie Ellis                 95:09
Mia  Rose                  95:10
Suzy  Cipollone         99:53
Julia Hoets               107:11
Liz  Humphreys       110:58
Zandra Rhodes        111:43
Sophie Roberts        127:25
Tim Higginbotham    127:25
Katherine Cheeseman 127:31 (Cheesy)
Gretel  Connell         131:44
Kim Grant                 131:44
I was the first female to cross the line smashing over 4 minutes off my time from last year, of 82 minutes, this year I managed 77:50. Renae, Les and Kellie were all top 10 in their age group, Mia missed out by one place. Renae has now proved herself as my fastest client in 2 races in a row! Go Renae. 
Suzy has secured her position in our Oxfam Team with an awesome time of 99:53 seconds. I set her a goal of under 100 minutes and she achieved this goal. She has come a long way in the short time she has spent with us training to be an endurance runner. I can’t wait to get out there and start training with her, Les and Mia as a group. Our reserves for our Oxfam Team will be Renae and Kellie. We are looking to be a strong team, with some great back up runners if we have injuries.
Great Outdoor Training Drinks and Celebration Night!
Thank you Everyone who was at the Friday Night Drinks Night at Zanzibar to help us kick start our Oxfam Fundraising. In the Night we managed to raise over $400, from selling raffle tickets and from asking for spare change off the Zanzibar Pub Patrons. A huge thank you to Claire Harris from Zanzibar for supporting our course and allowing us to fundraise in her Bar. Thank you to Les and Mia for taking the bucket around to the patrons so I could look after my clients, and thank you again to everyone for buying tickets for the raffle.
There are still tickets for the raffle available until the 25th of June.
The Prize is as Follows;
Guinot “Younger with Lougue Vie’ Skin Care Anti Ageing Skin Care Package
Beauty Flash Facial at Canvas Essential Therapies
Boot Camp/Mum’s and Bub’s Pass or 
3 One-On-One Pt’s Sessions with Shona  from Great Outdoor Training
Total Value of $500.
Tickets are 1 for $10, 3 for $20 or 8 for $50.
Buy tickets by going online and Donating directly to our Oxfam Page and donate either $10, $20 or $50, send us an email and we will write out the raffle Tickets for you, click on the link below and donate now!
Prize will be drawn on the Saturday the 25th of June. 
The Winner will be notified by Canvas Essential Therapies Face Book Page and will be contacted via email or mobile phone by either Les or Myself.
Weight Loss Tip Of the Week
Spinach Is Your Pasta
Use Spinach, Rocket, Cabbage, Bok Choy, or any Leafy Green instead of a fast burning carb in your meals. They are high in nutrients, but so low in calories. 
2 Handfuls of Spinach has only 14 calories in it!!!!! 
You just can’t go wrong, compaired to 1 cup of pasta 254 calories.
This is a great way to cut out some calories from your day. I use Spinach with my protein when I am making meals, check out the recipe below for a meal idea. When I want to drop some kilos, I cut out the quinoa.
Recipe Of the Week
Bean, Pumpkin, Yogurt and Quinoa Curry
I ate this in the Lead up to The Great Nosh, it must have done the trick.
1/4 Can Kidney Beans                                                                    Serves 1 345 Cal
1/4 Cup of Quinoa
1/2 Cup of Water
1/2 Can of Diced Tomatoes
1    Cup of Pumpkin Diced
1    Grated Carrot
1/4 Avocado
2    Handfuls of Baby Spinach
1/2  Cup Of Greek Yogurt
1    Teaspoon of Curry Powder, I used madras Curry Powder.
Place Quinoa into a saucepan, add in 1/2 cup of water, cover with a lid, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
Rinse and strain Kidney beans, place into a separate bowl, add curry powder, Tomatoes, Pumpkin, Carrot, and 1/2 cup of water and bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the water has evaporated.
When Quinoa is cooked, stir in baby spinach, and place into a bowl, spread out Chopped Avocado pieces, and pour the Curry Vegetables on top of the Quinoa, add the yogurt and salt and pepper to taste, and eat.
Winter Weather Gear
Rebel Sport has thermals form $19.95!!!! I just purchased another top!
A great website to check the gear out on is http://www.wiggle.co.uk/run/
Then you can buy it on Ebay. There are some great sales happening in the city at all the Adventure stores, I picked up a great fully waterproof light weight jacket for $125.00, reduced from $250.
I went to Mountain Designs check out their website.
I wear Thermals, Gloves and long Skins or 2XU. Go for a cool max sock as the cotton socks are freezing at the moment!
Trail Shoes
My favourite Trail Shoes are the Brooks Cascadia 6. I have been wearing this model of shoes for 2 years now and I have the least amount of blisters, they have the best traction and are super light weight. I have minimal foot problems in these shoes and they also have a “Rock Plate” for stone protection, good for preventing stress fractures on those rocky fore trails.
I always tape my ankles to give me more support, and to prevent an ankle injury, so these shoes are perfect trail shoe for me, and I recommend them.
Check them out on Ebay below.
Race Ticket Swops
Renae has a spare ticket for the Mini Mos for anyone who needs to do a 10km before the City2Surf. Anyone who is thinking of doing the City2Surf really should be running in the Mini Mos. So before entering the Mini Mos, contact Renae or me and we can pass the Ticket onto you. Renae just did a ticket swop with Kellie for the Coastal Classic 29km trail run which is on in 2 weeks!!!!.
Running Singlets
Get the singlet of the best all female running club around at the moment!
They are $40 each, you can either pay by cash for put the money in my bank account.
we are starting to get a name for ourselves, so buy one and be part of the gang.
Winter Holidays
I am on my Winter Holiday from the Saturday 02/07/11 until the Monday the 11/07/11
I will be in my childhood holiday seaside town of Yamba, in the same unit block I use to stay in. I can’t wait to hit the 25 plus degree heat and chill out and not worry about the wet weather we have been experiencing.
Running Club Training Dates and Events!!
Put these dates in your Calendar!
11/06/11 Mini Mos Training Day  ON THE COURSE
18/06/11 Coastal Classic Maybe try and make this week into a 40-55km for the Oxfam girls!
19/06/11 Mini Mos (I won’t be running it, I am doing the Coastal Classic the Day before)
24/06/11 Oxfam Training 30km (Friday Night Training, easy as we have the  Woodford to Glen brook on the Sunday)
26/06/11 Woodford to Glenbrook 25km sprint in the Bush.
02/07/11 City to Surf , Oxfam Training (I’m away in Yamba). 54km about.
15/07/11 Oxfam Training 56km
06/08/11 City to Surf Training
14/08/11 CITY TO SURF!!!!!
21/08/11  Oxfam Training Light Session only 20km
26/08/11 Oxfam! 
New Book Release 
The Australian Women’s Health Diet.
Order from