Monday, January 16, 2012

Coastrek Training 35km North Narrabeen to Palm Beach

Above is a picture of my Trail Shoe down the drain.

It was again cold, and raining day for our 50km Coastrek Training. We had 3 separate teams head off on Saturday to train for Coastrek. I ran with Jeff. Brain, Renae, Liz, Zandra were away. 
Jayne, Kellie, Lauren, Mia and a new runner Gemma, worked together in the 2nd team. Jane and Leanne worked together in the 3rd team. Both Jane and Leanne have had injuries, so I placed them together so they could be nice slow pacers for each other, they could run without any pressure and just nurse their injuries back into running.
Jeff seemed to have learnt his lesson from out 6 Foot Track Training session. He started to take note of the descents he was running down, and he made sure the kept some glucose in his blood for the return. Coastrek will be his first Ultra, and his first Trail Run, so his training is very different from marathon training.
Coastrek 50km seems like it should be an easy run. Only small climbs of a few hundred metres compared with the Blue Mountains. But the sand running and the constant descent, and climbs in and out of the 18 beaches to Palm Beach and then return back again, just works your an-aerobic, lactic system hard. It is really hard to find a rhythm, especially when you are working in a team.
Jeff and I started off and we soon lost the other runners. We were just happy to run at 6 minute pace. 
We climbed the first headland then quickly descended into Warriewood Beach, ran up a set of stairs then over the Robert Dumn Reserve, then down a set of stair onto Mona Vale Beach. Here we found the wet sand and followed the footprints int he sand for a few hundred meters, then ran up off the sand onto the footpath past the SLSC, past Basin Beach, up over the Mona Vale Headland through some heath scrub along wooden stairs, then onto a suburban street. The course took us out onto the main road, where we spotted NSR (North Side Runners) training, running the Opposite direction. We waved and cheered them on. 
The trail then dropped Jeff and I down a really steep drive way followed by some wooded framed sand stairs onto Bungan Beach. We ran along the soft sand dunes, then onto the wet sand  along the beach for a few hundreds metres, then started our steep climb out of Bungan Beach straight up to the top of the Headland. It was the steepest climb for the day so far. Jeff took his time and decided to walk and have a gel. I had a gel too, but decided that I wanted to run it as part of my training. I ran up to the top and waited for Jeff. I was happy that he was being smart about his training today, taking it easy.
We hit the top of the super steep climb and ran down the super steep descent, avoiding the un-expecting traffic in the back streets of Newport. We made great time, but we were not pushing each other as we had in the past. If he was faster than me up a hill, I just tried to stay with him. Giving just a little more. We started to work better as a team. And I knew that this pace would still get us the record for the Event. I am also mindful, that there is no point being quick, and burning your team mates up, and have them slowing to a walk after 30km.
We ran along the reserve and up and over the Newport Headland, through some heath bush, then down another wooden set of stairs and onto Bilgola Beach. Any other day I would want tho jump into the water here, but it was drizzling, and there was a strong cold Easterly blowing. We past a really good Cafe at Bilgola, where last year we had breakfast after the race, and headed onto the soft sand, but tried to run along the sand dunes of Bilgola Beach then to another set of stairs. We ran up the stairs climbing out of the gorgeous beach and past some of the most amazing houses in Sydney. We ran around Bilgola Head, along a street, then onto the Barrenjoey Rd, and found our way through a col-de-sac past some houses and units down to Avalon Reserve.
We ran along the footpath, up the street climbing over the Avalon Head, through a hidden footpath and out onto Bangalley Head. Bangalley Head, has just the best front yard in Sydney, a lush green lawn, that meets the jagged cliffs that make up the Head Land. Jeff and I looked into the front rooms of the multi million dollar houses. No one was awake. Who would be up early on such a awful day. It was not beach weather, it was great running weather, about 19C. 
The trail turned from a lawn into a uneven sand stone stairs to climb over the headland, I trailed Jeff on this climb, and did my best to keep him in sight, then catching him at the peak. We rose to the top and ran though the scrub along a single man stone track. I then lead, showing Jeff the way. Like anything in Coastrek, as soon as you are up, you are running back down a set of stairs. This was the biggest descent of the day. Jeff was mindful that he was going to have to come back up them soon. I just enjoyed myself, letting my body go as I flung myself down the ribbon of a trail down into the suburbs of Whale Beach.
Cool, only 1 more climb before the return. We ran along the streets again, then headed down to Whale Beach. On Whale Beach we scooted along the dunes, past Ripples the restaurant, and more beautiful houses, and found a hidden set of stairs to climb. We ran up the stairs, out onto the road, around Little Head, then when you think the climb has finished, the course of the race takes you up over the highest point in Palm Beach, through a slither of a reserve which is only really a path between houses, then down a driveway, down a set of stairs past the rock baths and onto the dunes behind Palm Beach. I ran with Jeff to the Start line, and we stretched. The 17.5kms took us 1 hour 50 minutes. So a manageable speed. A speed I hoped my whole team would be able to manage.
After stretching, I did not want to stop for long, my hamstring was sore, but it is always sore. I still had water. So after a few minutes we started our long journey back. Back over the 9 climbs and almost as many beaches. We walked and ran back up the Palm Beach Headland, over little head and back to Whale beach. On the sand we spotted Jayne, Gemma, Mia soon followed by Kellie and Lauren. They looked great. Still smiling, but they were not enjoying the constant climbing up stairs, and running on the sand. They were almost 1/2 way. So they were only about 5 kilometres behind us. They were doing really well and they were on schedule. Their goal was to manage 10 minute Kilometres, so 6 kilometres an hour.
We said our good byes, and headed along Whale Beach. Jeff was out of water. We filled up at some of the nicest public toilets around. I think the timer on the tap was for exactly 1.5L of water for my back pack. I chatted to a few locals and then headed off up the hill out of Whale Beach.  Jeff discovered his pack was leaking. I informed him that my Oxfam Team Mate, Suzy had the exact same problem with her pack by the same company. "Send it back, it's faulty, poor design, whole puts a bind on a water bladder, that's crap?" I said. His back was wet. The pack had been leaking for the 20kms or so that we had been running.  
We ran on along the suburban streets I picked out the trail that was covered with over grown trees and started the climb back up the Bush Stairs to Bangalley's Headland. Jeff started to slow down. He was feeling the effects of the 10 climbs that he had already conquered. When he caught up, we ran down the stone trail then rolled down the lawn past the Multi Million Dollar houses, where I waved at one of the owners. We ran out onto the road, around the back of Avalon Beach, where I looked at the surf, thinking that I was suppose to be doing a Ocean Swim there the next day. The Easterly winds, chopped up the surf, and turned it into a washing machine. I was not looking forward to swimming in it.......
We ran around Bilgola Headland, descended the stairs onto Bilgola Beach, ran past one of my favourite cafes, back up a set of stairs, over another headland, down a set of bush stairs and down onto Newport Beach. Jeff was getting slower on the climbs, his back was hurting and he was running out of energy. We ran and walked up Bungan Head. I tried to convince Jeff to walk 20 steps,then run 20 steps. But he was having nothing of it. He was knackered. We made it to the top and speed down the concrete driveway down to Bungan Beach.
Another Beach conquered, only 3 beaches to go. Jeff and I ran along the now soft sand of Bungan Beach, noting a mistake that I made in the race last year, and made the correct turn up the soft sand dunes, up a set of stairs, up a steep concrete private driveway and back out onto the main road. Jeff's back was really sore now. He took his pack off. Trying to relieve some of his pain. I suggested that he tried to stay more up right, "Ear's over your hips, and switch on your glutes". This seemed to help elevate some of the pain.
We ran through the Hill Crest Ave, over Mona Vale Headland, and spotted our finishing point. We flew down the stone stairs down to Basin Beach.
We made some turns and made our way along the streets behind the SLSC and down onto Mona Vale Beach. The tide had risen, we were forced onto the soft sand. This hurt Jeff. He had not run on much sand in the past. Soft sand running is all about technique. You have to lift , not push. Jeff was having trouble with this on tired legs and could only manage to walk. I suggested that he head down to Cronulla sand Dunes for some "Dune Running". They are the biggest dunes in Sydney, and they just take your breath away. I usually have to crawl my way up them at the top. They are just so steep. It also takes a "lap" of the dunes to work out how to run on them. By the 2nd lap, your brain and body works out how to run on them. Just lift, lift, lift. I use to spend 2 hours running up dunes, talking to myself saying "Lift, Lift, Lift!"
We ran up the stairs, up the Robert Dumn Reserve, along the street, and down a set of stairs, past Warriewood beach, past a cute cafe at the SLSC, and up our final set of stairs of Turimetta Head, where Jeff spotted his car, and scooted down our final set of stairs, through the scrub and back to the cars.
I was sore, my hamstring was hurting, but not that bad, just over used. I was sore, but happier to be finished. The 35kms to us as a team 4 hours 18 minutes with stops.
I got my stretching mats out of the car and got Jeff to stretch. We were soon joined by Jane. Jane only completed 25km. She is recovering from an Achilles tendonitis, and we thought that that was good enough distance for her. Jane seemed to pull up okay. She ran with Leanne. Leanne only completed 12.5kms. Which was a huge improvement for her. She has been suffering from a hip bursar. It was her first time out on the track and the longest she had run since her injury was for 45 minutes. She ran for 2 hours, and I think she will pull up okay.
After eating some of my cookies, drinking hydralytes and choc milk for our recovery, I sent Jeff and Jane on their way. I still had to wait for the others. I changed into my swimmers. I had been suffering from hay fever, and I was hoping that a recovery dip in the ocean would help me out. In the process of getting my things together I managed to drop my trail shoe down the drain. Bugger. I was so stupid. I was clearly tired from the 4:30am wake up, and a bit fragile from the training, and the hay fever was playing havoc with my concentration . Bugger. 
I tried to think what I had in my car that I could use to hook onto and pull it back out. But I had nothing. So dressed in my bikini, and one trail shoe, I used my childhood skills of drain exploration around the streets of Turramurra, to lift the heavy drain grate up. I almost did my back, I can't believeI use to do this all the time as a kid. I dragged the rusty metal grate to the side, I checked for any creepy crawlies that may be hiding in then the frame drain, and I then threaded my head and shoulders down the square man hole and reached for my trail shoe. I grabbed it and put it back on my foot, and lumbered the metal grate back into its original position.
I headed down the stairs to the Turimetta Beach for a recovery soak. The weather was still crap. Drizzling and a strong easterly blowing. But I had to soak my legs to speed up my recovery. I stayed in the water until I started to shiver, about 15 minutes. I then made my way back up the beach stairs and to a wooden platform, and decided to have a rest and wait for my girls to finish their session. I must have looked like a hobo, dressed in a bikini, a fitted spray jacket, with trail shoes on, all covered in a big towel that wrapped around my small frame.
The girls emerged from the bush, happy but tired and sore after 6 hours exactly. They were on target and that had completed the hardest section 17.5km of the course twice. They are on track for a good time.

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