Friday, March 30, 2012

Bateman's Bay Ultimate Tri Final Training Weekend

Bateman's Bay Ultimate Triathlon is to be my 2nd Tri. Again it is a long course Tri consisting of 2km swim, 120km bike and a 20km run. My goal is to beat my swim leg of 47 min and my run leg of 1 hour 36 minutes and to harden up on the bike (Hardening up on the bike is much like hardening up on hill climbing when you are running). 
The start of the Tri will be a mass start of 900 people entering the water at once. This will either scare the shi#t out of me, or get my adrenalin pumping. I think it will suit me more putting me up amongst the better athletes rather than being in the 2nd last wave like my first Tri. I am looking forward to this new crazy challenge of a beast of a swimming pack starting like a huge uncontrollable tidal wave. It shall be interesting. Thank goodness I have just bought a new wetty.
I have a brand new wet suit that I tried out on the weekend swimming about 1km along the Shelly Beach to Manly Broad Walk Return and a few extra hundred metres to get use to my wetty. The first thing I noticed was that I did not need to kick my legs to stay buoyant, I was able to just float in the water with just the wetty keeping my a float. My legs will be used for speed. 
I think this will make the 2km swim a breeze down at Bateman's Bay. The 2nd thing I noticed was that within only a few hundred metre my neck was chaffed raw, and I lost a fair amount of skin from my neck. I will have to wear body glide or paw paw ointment around my neck, wrist and ankles. I also did not have the wetty pulled up high enough so it did drag on my neck, so I have to make sure I pull it up my legs more. I may even cut a inch or two off the hem to allow for me to get out of it more easily in transition.
The ocean swim, or bay swim for me in training was a bit nerve-racking. The wild life beneath the sea was just amazing. Huge schools of fish, kelp, and a few baby sharks were spotted as I made my way along the edge of the bay. I was just so distracted by what was going on underneath the surface that I was having trouble concentrating on my stroke. I am still learning how to swim properly and i have just joined a squad session a week plus I attend a stroke correction session a week.
I have one every bent arm that I broke if 3 times when I was a kid. The first time I broke it when I fell off the fence in the backyard of my suburban house in Turramurra when I was about 5, the second time I broke it was only 6 weeks later when I fell out of the bath whilst my mum answered the phone. "Saty in the bath" She said to me. So what did I do? I stood up on the side of the bath and slipped and fell on the hard tiled floor.  The third time I broke it showing off, as a ten year old attempting a roundoff back flip in front of school friends. I was staying at a friends house for a sleep over for a few days and I did not want to go home, so I put up with the pain of a broken arm for two days before I told any one about it. I told my Mum when I arrived home and I eventually went to the doctor, and the doctor said that I was not in enough pain, so it must not be a break, even though the x-ray showed clearly I had a broken elbow. I'd broken my arm twice before and no one could remember what it looked like previous to the accident. My elbow was never re-set and I still have a angle of 66 degrees pointing away from my body or up when I straighten my arm. It took my gymnastic coach to pick up the break, and I was then sent to specialist....to cut a long story short, I was still good enough to become an elite gymnast, even with my crappy bent arm but not good enough to make it any further. 
This arm does not make a good swimming arm for full extension or technique in the water or power for the pull under the water. Finally my swimming coaches are just starting to realise what they are dealing with when I am swimming, and we are working on the angle that I put my arm into the water. If I straighten my arm on the surface of the water, my arm points up at a 66 degrees angle to the sky, totally in the wrong direction to where I need it to be pointed. But hey, that's life and I will be able to work around it. 
That arm has given me so much more than just grief, it has taught me how to toughen up, work through the pain and believe that anything is possible as long as you work hard enough and do the training. Every time I think or mention my arm, I look at it like a gift. It has helped make me into the person I am today. I love showing people, it looks pretty bad, and no I can't straighten it, that is straight. Check out the picture below.
Whilst swimming near Fairy Bower,at Shelly Beach I stopped and chatted to a middle aged swimmer and her friend. I had decide that I was not going to swim the full distance to Manly, I had just spotted two baby sharks and I felt extremely vulnerable in my seal like brand new wet suit. I felt like a shark snack.The lady was swimming with her girlfriend who was recovering from a stroke. She could not walk but she could swim. She had swum that route for 20 years once a week and she just enjoys is so much that she just had to continue on with the ritual that she loved. Swimming was a form of exercise she could still preform and her friend felt free in the water. She was looking after her girlfriend making sure she was safe, as her friend was disabled from the side effects of the stroke. I chatted to this lady for a little while about my new wetty, health and fitness and started to swim back towards Shelly beach when the husband of the stroke effected lady came over for a chat. This entire scene just amused me. Here we all were in the bay, swimming along enjoying the most amazing scenery having a chat about health and fitness just like we were on the side of the road. But we were all in this bay swimming along this amazing swim route like it was the most natural thing in the world. The water was so clear and clean I could not believe I have never swam that route before. I had scuba dived around that area, but never really swam in it .
I expressed to the Husband my goal,  and that I was turning back because I was a bit distracted by my fears.
"I spotted two baby sharks over there", I gestured out towards the opening of the bay.
"They won't hurt you". He assured me. This I knew he was right. It was just my head that was letting me down. So I decided to go on and finish my initial goal and I swam all the way to the point, just before Manly beach and I then swam back towards Shelly Beach again. I passed the ladies again and thanked them for distracting me from my fears. Because of them I went on and achieved my goal. I thought the stroke effected lady was just an inspiration. She made my bent arm look like a well angled ore. 
To finish off my final weekend of training, I'd complete  small bush way with me kids and a 13km run and on the Sunday 60km bike ride around West Head over rolling cresting hills and down to Akuna Bay, with a nice 9km climb out, then West Head Circuit again, followed by a 5km sprint along a trail in my Inov8 f-Lite 195. I felt good.  Just a week of resting as much as I can with over thirty face sessions a week with personal training and bootcamp clients. Life is pretty good.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Oxfam TW Sydney Team Work Tips

Oxfam Tw Sydney is tough. The first 60km are murder there are over 12 major climbs on mostly on single man track climbing bush stairs. The start is just cruel, climbing straight up to elveation of 200m in the first 10km. But with the correct training, preparation, nutrition and hydration you will be able to finish this rewarding event.

Team Event
Oxfam TW is a team event. If you do not finish as a team your time does not count. You need to work together as a team to have the best experience over the 100km. Delegate jobs to all team members. Navigation, Hydration, Fuelling and Timekeeping tasks are to be divided up between the team.

Navigation.
Map reading, and GPS positioning are a skill that is needed in your team. Assign this task to the best person for the job. The person should always run with a map in my had. Constantly cross referencing their position to land marks on the trail. Look for creek, street, and track crossings. Also gauge position from power lines that are over head. Wear a Garmin GPS watch or any GPS watch to tell the team how many kilometres you have covered or watch also gives me pace /kilometre too. The Navigator will be constantly communicating with the Timekeeper and their other team mates.

Hydration.
Oxfam TW Sydney is in the last week of August. The temperature usually reached about 24 degrees. 
This sounds like perfect exercise weather. However, you and your team are emerging from training in winter. So this sudden increase in temperature can play havoc with either you or a team mate.
Drink fluids every 15 minutes. This is done by having small sips out of a hydration pack. Drinking too much water without enough salt in it is dangerous too, and will only make you feel sick. 
It is encouraged to drink every 15 minutes, and have hydralyte tables on hand to have every 30-60 minutes or Salt tablets can be taken every hour. This keeps your electrolytes at a nice level allowing your muscles to function, preventing cramping and helping for your body to sweat properly.
1L of water should be drunk for every Hour of exercise that has taken place.
Hydralyte Icy Pols are fantastic to have at the check points. 
They cool your core temperature down and hydrate you at the same time.
Carry 2L of water on you.

Fuelling
The first 60km of Oxfam TW are brutal. 60km of climbing in and out of gorges works your anaerobic system to the maximum. You are burning so many calories, and most of them from glucose. Your legs are burning and it just hurts.
If you fuel your body correctly you will be able to continue on for the next 40km. 
I encourage my clients to eat every 30-40minutes. My experience has shown me that any less eating than this only leads to your body running out of glycogen in your muscles and you "Hit the Wall".
The fuel needs to be easily absorbed. I recommend energy gels. They take a while to get use to, but it is too hard to do it any other way and this is what works for me.
After 3 hours of exercise pushing your body to its limits, your digestive system starts to shut down because your blood is delegated out to your legs. So your body will not be able to break down any solid food. If you try and eat a cookie or a chocolate bar you may end up feeling sick. 
Eat a gel every 30-40 minutes.
If you and your team mates have enough glucose to run and for your brain to function properly it will be a much nicer and safer experience for all. You will have less falls, and you will have less personality clashes between team mates. Running low on glucose will mean that team mates will get grumpy. So avoid unnecessary lows, and look after your body by keeping your glucose stores high.
Caffeine should be limited to 30-35mg per gel. Any more than this I have found makes some people aggressive.
Caffeine is great as it increases your muscular endurance by up to 28%. But have small doses regularly.
Eat well and you will preform better, safer and you will have more fun over the 100km.

Time Keeping or Goal Setting
Time Keeping or goal setting should be put under the same heading. Set small achievable goals for the team to work towards. Remind them of the team goal, and keep everyones mind focused on the what team goal is.
Goals can range from pace per kilometre goal, 5km, 10km , or check point goals, then the ultimate 100km goal.
For the race, I set the 100km at the pace of the hardest section of the track that is complied twice. For example if we train from Mt Kuringai to Brooklyn Return. What ever the pace per kilometre that the team achieved for that section of training I take the pace and extent it to the 100km.
The time keeper then will work out the pace for every kilometre and times it out over all the sections of the course.
The Timekeeper will keep the team focused on the goals of the team and will make sure the team makes it to the check points in the time frame set.

Mental Challenge.
Oxfam TW is 50% physical and 50% mental. Self belief is the most important aspect of completing the 100km course. You can always run or walk twice as far as you think you can. I usually only train up to around the 60km mark before a 100km event I'd rather avoid injury and be fresher for the event. 
The training your body for an event like Oxfam TW is as much physical as it is mental training. Understanding what your body is going through and knowing that you were able to work through many problems that were faced in the training means that the event will run more smoothly and you are stronger for all your training. Believe in your training and know that the training is enough.
It is a mental challenge for the team as a whole too. You have to look after your team mates. Care for the person struggling the most. You can only go as fast as your slowest team mate. So if you look after each other you will go faster. You may know you can make it to the end, but not believe that your team mate can get to the end too, so you have to work together as a team, communicate regally and believe in each other and know that your entire team will do it for the each other no matter what. That is how you will make it to the end as a strong team of four.

Team Rotation.
There are natural leaders, followers and team players. There will be a difference in fitness levels in the group also. However it is so important to rotate the team formation on the track to keep everyone's brains a break, or to look after a team mate who keeps falling behind.
The hardest position is actually at the back. So put the strongest person at the back. They will be feeling great and constantly chatting and communicating to their team mates.
Put the slowest person at the front, they will push harder knowing that their team mates are just behind them , supporting them and encouraging them up every climb. 
Then rotate the team between every check point or climb, to swop positions around. Everyone will be feeling strong at some point and weak at another point. Switching positions in the group will also help with team bonding. Allowing everyone to really get to know each other.
Switching team positions and staying together as a group also means that everyone can check on their team mates, making sure they are eating, drinking and are safe on the track. The teams that look out for each other will finish together as a team.

Friday, March 16, 2012

6 Foot Track 2012 Cancelled. Katoomba Aquatic Centre, Narrow Neck Circ Instead

Over 700 runners were gutted on Thursday the 8th of March. All the training and the opportunities that come from running in the world famous race, the 6 Foot Track Marathon, were washed down the Cox's River. It was the first time in the races' 24 year history that the race had to be cancelled. I really admire the race director Colin Jeftha and the Rural Fire Fighters, they put our safety first, in the end that is all that counts. 
The 6 Foot Track 45km race was cancelled but I would never miss a chance to run in the mountains. I booked it in with my family so I was going no matter what. So when the race was cancelled I started to get organised. With the help of Facebook and my many Facebook friends, a group of about 50 runners was rallied together to meet at the Katoomba Aquatic Centre . There were runners of all different abilities, from the ultra fast Brendan, Alex, Beth, Ewan, Campbell, Marc, through to the solid runners of Kevin, Naomi, Jodie and then the back of the pack for the day only, Mia and Nagire.
I grouped my girls together on Facebook informing them that I was leaving a map with Mia. Naomi, Jodie and Nagire had never been on that section of the Blue Mountains before so I knew they would be nervous. With the 6 Foot Track being cancelled I knew there would be about 300 runners roaming the mountains on the TNF 100km track getting in some early training. 
It was going to be the safest day in the history of trail running to train in the mountains that day. There were runners everywhere, all enjoying the friendly race between friends. Mia and I ran from our hotel to the Katoomba Aquatic Centre. I was on auto pilot enjoying the cool mountain temperatures of 11 degrees running to Katoomba Oval instead, but I soon realised my mistake and we headed back to the Aquatic Centre. Runners slowly started to appear, one by one we all meet up and started to chat and grouped ourselves into running ability. I introduced Mia to Naomi, Jodie and Nagire. Mia had a detailed, laminated map of the route so I knew she would be okay and would not get lost.
I meet up with Marc and he introduced me again to Beth. We chatted and knew that we would all be running together. All the big guns started to appear and the unofficial 6 Foot Track Race began. I had no idea where to go, I thought we were taking a different route but we soon were following the road out to Narrow Neck. After 10 minutes of running I had to strip down to my brand new Inov8 running Tri-Top, thanks to Barefoot Inc.  I was head to toe in Inov8, Inov8 Cap, Inov8 Bra, and Inov8 compression shorts, Inov8 Roc Lite 268 Shoes, I was supporting my brand, running for my chosen code, Inov8 and Barefoot Running Inc. I think Brendan wanted an outfit made up for him too. Brendan managed to obtain a 2012 6 Foot Running T-shirt from Colin Jeftha on his feet he wore Inov8 Talons 212. I was wearing the UltrAspire Surge pack, with 2L of water in the Hydrapack and a further 1.2L of Hydration mix in 2 plastic bottles with pop top lids.
We rolled down the hills of Narrow Neck Rd and soon hit the fire trail of Glenraphael Drive at the first CP of the TNF 100km. We hit the climbs and immediately I realised that I was carrying way more water than anyone else. I was a bit clueless on where I could re-fill so I was carrying enough water for the entire 45km loop. This did not really bother me that much. Training for TNF is tough and the mandatory gear list is insane. I will end up having to carry over 10% of my body weight in gear so carrying extra water will just help me to build the strength that will be needed to survive the race.
I have been in following Beth's form for the past few years. She always seems to fly past me whilst climbing up to the Pluviometer in the 6 Foot Track. So, if I could just climb as fast as her I may be able to get a great result in any event that I enter. It's great to have her back on the circuit as she is such a lovely person and an amazing athlete. On this training run my goal was just to try to stick with her for as long as possible. We hit the first climb and she gained 5m on me, we hit the second climb and she gained more. For the next 10km, I did my best just to keep her in sight and to try and make up ground where possible. I felt a bit silly carrying extra fluid in my pack but I knew it was going to pay off in May.
I followed her until we reached the Pluviometer at Bushwalkers Hill. She had gained about 150m on me. 
I was suddenly surprised when I came across the leading guys in the group, they had all stopped and were waiting for the guys to go to the toilet that was located there and for all of us to catch up, a few seconds later we were joined by Marc. He too was also heavy with water and suffering from asthma. We all chatted for a while and then when everyone was finished we started running again together as a group, gas bagging  and enjoying the roller coaster of descent until we reached Clear Hill. I had been fighting of hay fever for the past week. When we stopped I had a few puffs of my ventolin hoping it would improve my breathing. As group we all continued on for a few more kilometres then we stopped and took in the amazing view and just had to take a few photos. I was formally introduced to Alex. An amazing young runner also on the Inov8 team, Brendan, Alex and I then posed for a Team Inov8 Photo.
After this intermission we hit the single man track and I giggled to myself as Brendan asked me the way. I thought he'd know these mountains like the back of his hand. We ran along together having a ball, we soon caught up with the others and started our descent down Tarros Ladder. 
Last year I had to conquer these climbing spikes all on my own, freaking out, hoping that I would not slip with my maps in my mouth and my then heavy pack on my back, feeling really unstable, trusting the spikes and myself not to fail. The climbing spikes are pinned into the cliff face about one meter apart. This year I felt as safe as could be in a large group of people. I'd been down them before and I knew I'd be safe. When we all made it down the 10m of ladders, we were joined by Kevin, he took a photo from the cliff top. We waved to them standing above and then headed off not wanting to be caught by the next group. Our completive nature took over.
The shoe of the day was definitely Inov8 Talons 212. Their tread was unmistakable in the soft trails. Brendan, Alex and a few of the others had them on, and I had on the Inov8 Roc Lite 268. They are a good lite weight racing and entry level shoe to minimalist running. Inov8's are just so good over rocky uneven terrain. I could trust my Roc Lites no matter where I put my foot. They treated me well on the descents, gripped to the rocky outcrops at Mt Debert and dried quickly at all the creek crossings. They ate into the fire trails and I felt great all day in them.
After Mt Debert we again re-grouped again at Medlow Gap, we lost Marc and Alex who vanished from the trail and took time to find it again. I was not used to all the stop starting that we were doing, I usually train on my own, trying to keep the group together it was just allowing the lactic acid (Hydrogen Ions) to build in my legs. We then climbed out of the valley past Breakfast Creek, Sliprail Creek and then headed up to Lyrebird Ridge. Here I had a little moment, all the super speedy had gone on ahead and it was just Beth, Marc and Myself left. I was feeling a bit flat and I had to slow to walk for twenty steps. I rested for a bit, ate my food, made sure I was hydrated and then worked my way back into a run to catch Beth and Marc at the top of the climb. I thanked them for waiting for me but they assured me that they only stopped to eat. I was buoyed by this, thinking that I was not doing as bad as I thought.
We ran along in our group of three when we picked up another runner, Christian. He had stopped to pee and the others had run on. We picked him up and he ran with us, he was hurting but still looked okay. We hit the top of the climb and made our huge descent down to Danphy's Camp. Beth ran on and filled up with water. I had enough, for the entire 42km plus kilometres so did Marc and Christian. We soon rejoined Beth and headed down Megalong Valley Rd, past a farm. I started to freak out, there was livestock near the track. Beth said it just horses. "I am afraid of cows" I admitted.
We did spook one of the horses so we slowed to a walk so we did not upset it any further. We then hit the climb out of Green Gully up to Euroka Ridge. Again Marc and Beth gained some distance on me. I stopped and walked for twenty steps, ate some food and  re-hydrated,  then started my run up the ridge to catch them. I was feeling tired, I think the 50km Coastrek the week before was starting to catch up with me but I pushed this self doubt out of my head and did my best to catch the others. At the top I caught up with them and was ready to descend as fast as I could down to the start of the 6 Foot Track on Megalong Valley Rd. I took off and Beth followed, we had a ball chatting together about training, nutrition and running. At the bottom Beth and I had to wait a while for the boys to catch up. They were not as fast as us on the descents. 
We waved to a group of three females on the trail and wished them good luck as they ran past. When the boys caught up I handed everyone a gastrolyte. Beth, Marc and Christian all downed a fizzy tablet. We chatted about GNW100km (Great North Walk 100km) and how I was drinking three Hydralytes at every check point. Beth was concerned, "Man how many did you have?" She quizzed me. 
"I was only following the directions, it say three per half and hour". I replied." I thought that on a hot day I could down three at every check point, it added up to way less than three per thirty minutes". Too funny, I must have looked hilarious, the check points were about 30km apart and it was about 27 degrees out on the track, hydration and keeping cool was the most important factor of the GNW. You had to carry at least 3L of water, so when I came into the CP's I was needing some replenishment in the form of Hydralyte Icy pols. They were just gold.
We hit the single man track of the 6 Foot Track and again we passed more runners. It was highway of trail runners out there, people were running all over the place. We waved, cheered and well wished all the other runners. We soon caught the group of girls and spotted a few mates and headed up towards Nellies Glen. It was the first time that I did not notice the climb to Nellies Glen, the fire trail up to the base of the Glen usually always kills me but this year I did not feel it. I only started to feel the climb when the trail narrowed to a single man track. Christian ran straight past me and Beth, then Beth like the rabbit that she is hopped her way up the track and was soon out of sight. Bugger, I'd lost her. I ate again and tucked into my running walking rhythm. I soon reached the stairs and promised myself to only take one step per stair as I climbed the thousand odd stairs out of the Gully. I passed a runner two thirds of the way up. I pointed straight up, and suggested that he should just get it over and done with. 
"Training for TNF? Just go, don't stop" I encouraged. He was knackered. I soon lost him and was up on the plateau running towards the Katoomba Aquatic centre.
I did not have a map and I was left alone. I had to use my intuition and my memory of the trail from a year ago to find my way through the single man spaghetti land of tracks. I followed the trail almost tripping over, willing myself to stay focused. "Keep your eyes on the prize", words came into my head. Too funny, these word were from kids movies, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I then ran out on to a street, turned left, and then followed a sign that said "Pedestrian Access", scooted along a wire fence and out onto a wide street. I ran to the top of the hill and I was soon amazed by the sight of Beth and Christian running out onto the road in front of me. They must have taken a wrong turn adding about 100m to their journey. I watched Beth and Christian fly down the hill and I smiled to myself, knowing that I had stayed with them and I was catching them on the final descent. They finished and turned around and spotted me immediately. When we finished I was only 5m behind. I still had more to give.
"You guys must have taken a wrong turn" I said. "Where are the others?" I asked expecting the speedy guys to be already here waiting for us.
Marc soon appeared, he was not feeling the best, his asthma was playing up, he grabbed a lift off another runner on the track at the top of Nellies Glen.
Okay, now the story of the other runners (speedy guys) is that they all got lost near Danphy's Creek and added 8km onto their run. They then calculated that if they ran to where the Megalong Valley Rd meets the 6 Foot Track then it would be about the same distance run as us. They then called for help from friends and family and they were all deeply sadden that they did not have to climb 800m of elevation out of Nellies Glen. The 42km took us 4 hours and 10 minutes. So we were happy with the pace, it was a friendly, so we all could have run faster and we had Nellie's Glen Climb at the 40km.
Naomi and Jodie managed the entire route in a solid time about 5 hours of running and Mia got her period when she was out there. I don't know how but she always manages it. And Nagire had a dangerously low iron blood count so she was a champion to even finish it. She also had a ITB injury flare up at the 40km mark. They were both looked after by the un-official 6 Foot Track sweepers. Two guys had come out on the track that day with first aid packs to sweep the track, give directions and to generally look after everyone's safety. Whoever you are, thank you for looking after my mates. I think you two are the reason why I love trail running so much. We do all look after each other out there, from sharing a gel, water, salt tablet or offering a lift to someone to get them home safely. We do genuinely care for each other.
I personally had the best day, I was able to run with all my local heroes, I just feel so humbled that I was invited to run with them.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Coastrek 50km Record Winning Time

(I have to excuse the above pic, it was torrential rain, and my husband only has one good camera, and he had to shoot a wedding the following day so he used his crappy iPhone.)
I was going for 3 records in 3 trail races when I was lining up for the start of Coastrek Trek 50km, a trail event that runs from Palm Beach to Balmoral Beach to help raise one million dollars for the Fred Hallow Foundation.
I had the best team of four, Brian, Jeff, Renae and myself . Renae and I already hold the course record with a time of 7 Hours 42 minutes. I guessed we were going to be pushed this year and a time closer to 6 hours and 30 minutes will get us first position. I knew with the right team, I could get across the line close to the 6 hour mark. I hand picked my team mates. I was so was fortunate that Renae knew a super fast runner, Brian, who narrowly beat me at City2Surf 2011 (I did have the flu, he he he), and I then found another strong runner, in one of my bootcamps, Jeff. Jeff is a machine, and he can run a Marathon in 3 Hours 24 minutes, without knowing how to properly fuel himself, and Brian ran the Blackmores Marathon, his first ever Marathon, in 3 hours 41 minutes in scorching temperatures of 37 C. So my boys were strong and the girls, Renae and myself are great mates, and we would do anything for each other. Our kids go to school together. Renae and I love to head out to the mountains and get lost , have an adventure and then live to tell the tale.
I set a time goal for our team of 6.5 hours, taking the splits from the slowest training session, knowing that you can only go as fast as your slowest team mate. My husband was on support crew, I warned my team mates that there was going to be swearing, and to ignore Mikey and Me, as I get a bit temperamental  coming into the check points, especially the first one. It is something I need to work on. I'm a control freak, and I am not use to leaving things in other peoples hands. Also, I hate to generalise, but husbands never listen to exactly what you say, and Mikey has an uncanny ability to tune out to the tone of my voice. So there is always a communication break down between Mikey and myself. But this year, thanks to Barefoot Running Inc, http://www.barefootinc.com.au/?gclid=CPrhybqe064CFQYdpAod5ma8bw I was given two UltrAspire packs to try, which I love, and with all my other hydration packs that I have accumulated over the past 3 years, my team had enough packs to do a bag swop at the only check point. So bags, hydration and nutrition were totally pre-packed the night before, all we had to do was put one pack down and pick the check point 1 pack up. I also had a secret weapon on the check points, Mia, my Oxfam and Coastrek Team mate from 2011. I spoke to her before the event, and CC'd her in the many emails were sent with support crew check list of what to do when the runners come in. So for once I felt like I was in good hands.
The rain was torrential at Palm Beach for the 6:30am, at the start of Coastrek. We were told to prepare for the wet. Due to the climate of Sydney in March, Race Day being 21C, and the access to the course from the roads, I thought it was safe enough to say that A Cap was sufficient wet weather gear for the race that day. We lined up at the front, my team, plus 2 more teams of 4 females which I had been training since October.
I had 3 teams entered under the Great Outdoor Runners name, we are a motley crew of mum's, chicks, party animals  and blokes who half of the team of 12, have never really run in an event like this before except for Renae ,Gemma , Jane, Margaret K, Margaret C and Myself.
The count down went off, 10, 9, 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, and we were off with a cheer, along the sand and quickly off the sand and onto the nature strip at the back of the sand dunes. We were in the lead and I wanted to keep it that way. Renae was nervous, she is always nervous, her anxiety gets to her. But this year, I told her it was just adrenaline and to use it. Off we went, out in front and we ran past Palm Beach, the first of 20 Beaches to be crossed for the day and up a set of slippery wooded stairs. There was a fit looking group dressed in blue behind us. One of their team members left his group and ran with us. I ran up the first step of stairs passing my team mates and waited for them at the top, looking back to see who was coming up behind.
Renae was struggling a bit, she had been ill with the flu only the week before, and was a champion to be even at the start line. I took note of her exertion rate as I  ran across the road and up the drive way through to the nature reserve. I waited again for my team and noticed that Renae was hurting. I ran along side of her. I lifted her heavy back pack up with my right arm, taking all the weight of gels and water in my right arm. The Blue Guy ran with me, but when I got Renae onto the single man track, I told her to push. "Let's get some distance between us and them, I want a beach between us, then we can rest, we are going to have to work hard for a bit now, run, take little steps, push".  Renae being an absolute fighter, pushed, she ran, and we were soon out of the track onto another steep climb on a road. She needed to rest. "Walk 20 , run 20 until we make it to the top". That we did and we hit the top and the Blue Team were out of sight.
"Well done guys, but we need more distance between us and them, release your breaks and roll down this hill, let's go". We rolled off the top of the Hill at Little Head, Palm Beach and rolled into Whale Beach, ran down the stairs, calling to the 100km event racers who left 30 minutes before us "Runners, on your right.Thank you. Sorry, Well Done" Half apologising, half asking permission to pass, as we scooted down the slippery stairs to Whale Beach. 
We hit the sand and we were running, Brian and Jeff out the front myself and Renae in the back. The Blue Guy, Mick, caught us again, leaving his own team mates 50 m behind and ran with us along Whale Beach chatting. "I'm just us here trying to find out your tactics". He cheekily said. 
"Our tactic is to stay together and work as a team". I bluntly replied. Imagine someone trying to give me shit? (If you knew me a person this would make you laugh). We compared Oxfam and 6 Foot Track Times, and I decided that he was going to be tough to beat. We hit the climb out of Whale beach and Mick ran straight past us, proving that he was the business, but soon had to walk. I again helped Renae with the weight of her pack up the climb, staying with her, chatting with her, encouraging her , reassuring her and reminding her, that she could do it and she was more than good enough. Renae, had to walk, 20 on and 20 off running and walking, until we soon caught and past Mick.
"Guys, slow down a bit, just a bit, and let Renae warm up". I shouted to Jeff and Brian. The two guys were so powerful and they were just doing it so easy at the front. We then rolled down the hill and chatted about the pace we were running at. We felt good, Mick's team mates were no where to be seen. We headed straight up another set of stairs, the biggest climb of the day, again trying to be as polite as possible to the 100km Racers.
I'm petrified of leeches, and I was stuck walking behind Renae. I probably pushed her harder than she would normally climb, just so I could get out of the rainforest and away from the possibility of a leech attack. When ever there was a flatfish section, I said to Renae,"Run, take small steps and run it, you can do it, flush out the lactic acid in your legs, go, go, go". Renae had me as her personal cheer squad for every step she took, I just wanted to get out of the leech farm. 
The boys were are the top, and they took the wrong turn, "Wrong Way!" I shouted, with Mick just behind us. "Renae let's keep going they will soon catch us", and Renae flew down the single man track using all her agility not to slip on the flooded bush stairs. We ignored the photographer wanting us to stop and pose for a shot and flew down the remaining bush stairs and descended the grassy headland of Bangalley Head, past the multi million dollar houses, and out onto the road towards Avalon.
This year the course had changed, including more beaches than ever before. More than 10km of sand had to be crossed out of the 50kms of the course, and Avalon Beach was the first beach to be crossed. I kept checking for the Blue team to follow us out onto the beach and they were no where to be seen. Excellent. I have my beach. Cool we can recover.  The tide was low, and the sand was thankfully wet from all the rain, so the sand running was much easier than expected. But it still not as fast as running on grass or concrete, and when the waves come in they wet your shoes, and no matter what shoes you wear they will always be heavier than running dry. The beaches are more exposed than running on the foot paths, and on  the event day there was a strong gale forced southerly blowing. It felt like we were running in a wind tunnel.
We ran along Avalon Beach pushing into the wind, waved to the Coastrek Staff, and headed up the climb between the houses towards Bilgola. Again Renae was slow on the climbs. I grabbed Renae's bag and exclaimed "What have you got in here? It weighs a tone!" While I was running, I started emptying out the contents. A bandana, strapping shape, bandaids, gels, compeed blister pads, hydralytes, 500ml water bottle filled with hydralyte mix, plus 2L of water. I even saw tampons in there, but I left them alone, and started to put the remain contents into my bag. I emptied the extra water out and stored the container in my pack. I think I took 700grams off her back. Jeff helped me store the hydralytes in his pack also.
While we were reorganising ourselves the persistent Blue Team showed up on our tails again. Bugger. Jeff and I looked at each other and ran. We flew down the hill, I was going so fast and distracted by them being on my tail that I over shot the turn off to Bilgola Beach. My team mates called me back and we bounded down the stairs again calling, thanking, well wishing and apologising as we passed the 100km Racers. We hit the beach and again Mick left his team mates, I turned back and noticed they were suffering on the descents. We crossed Bilgola Beach along the sand dunes, and entered the car park on the other side. I sent Brian and Jeff up the stairs as I stayed with Renae. Mick followed us up.
"Did you run along Avalon Beach? I did not see you run along Avalon Beach? Or did you run along the foot path?" I probed.
"I ran along the path just like everyone else, I ran along the Yellow Brick Road" He said. "Everyone else went that way".
"We did not, the course had changed, you have to run along Avalon Beach this year." I showed him the map, I'm a control freak, and I love to run with a map in my hand, I can constantly check that we are taking the right course. "It's a new course and you are meant to run along Avalon Beach. By the way where is your mandatory gear? Wear is your high visibility vest for running on the roads, we have ours?".
Finally I had shut him up.
He stopped pestering us and said. "I'm going to run with my team". Good I thought, it is a team event. Normally I would not be so prickly, but we were doing the correct thing, following the course in entirety not taking short cuts along footpath to avoid running along the beaches, and wearing all the mandatory gear, and we were sticking together as a team. You don't take short cuts, it just ruins the integrity of the event. In the end I knew his silly antics won't pay off in the long run. But it still just sucks, knowing that you have run the full distance and another team did not.
We climbed out of Bilgola Beach and Renae and I ate. Renae and I were eating every 30 minutes and I let the boys decide how often they needed to eat. We ran along the back of Newport Beach then started the steep climb out of Newport. At this point the Blues were still in sight, so I took Renae's Hydration Pack off her and I wore it on my front, making the climb easier for her. The Blues were hot on our tails, less than 50m away, but we needed to show them how strong we were, by running up the longest climb of the day. We ran up the gradual climb, and when it was only 25m from the top, we walked and ran 20 on and 20 off to the top. We gained an extra 50m doing this. At the top we were greeted with the steepest descent of the day, and we zigzagged our way to Bungan Beach and zapped the first Check Point of the day.
We ran along the soft sand down to the tide line for a few hundred metres then straight back up the steepest climb of the day out of Bungan Beach. I looked back and watch the Blue Team, again they looked unstable on the descents. This comforted me, knowing that descending was a strong point for our team. We ran up through the soft sand dunes. Again Renae struggled. I was carrying her pack, and she was still showing signs of fatigue. The week of illness was starting to bite her. I waited for her and encouraged her up the climb, Renae may have a different word for it. The climb was a quad burner, but we all hurt, and the climbs are small compared to the Blue Mountains. Renae has accomplished most of her training out in the Mountains so she should be preforming better. 
We hit the top and we were running. We ran along the streets and out to Mona Vale Headland, and zapped into CP2. We hooned down to Basin Beach, so fast that Renae lost her footing and ended up on her arse, I picked her up, brushed her off "It will only hurt for 5 minutes, get up and run", I ordered, we zoomed down the single man track and ran along the sand. This year both Basin and Mona Vale Beach were added in, 1500m to the total of extra sand running. The sand was on an angle and it put un-even pressure on your hips, knees and ankles. I looked back a few times and we managed to get a few more hundred metres between us an the Blue Team. "I'm Sorry" Renae said. She knew how close they were, and she is one of my best mates, and she knows how I love to win. 
"What are you sorry for, let's just stick to the plan and make our splits, you can do this". I replied. I tried to run in front of Renae, sheltering her form the strong wind. I watch some of the other 100km contenders running on the soft sand, trying to keep their feet dry. I thought they were nuts, struggling in the energy sapping sand. I felt so sorry for them I even yelled out to them and told them it was easier to run on the wet sand. I hope they listened to me, as there was over 10km of sand running and that was just in the first 50km, they were doing the 100km event.
We crossed Mona Vale Beach, then headed up the sand dunes to the wooded stairs up to Robert Dunn Reserve. We passes the houses and headed down another set of stairs to Warriewood Beach, we glided past the cafe and headed up a set of stairs out of Warriewood Beach through a Nature Reserve, following the markers around Turimetta Head. Last year at the 16km mark Renae was already starting to cramp. I chatted to her about how much better she was feeling and preforming this year, and that she was doing really well, we were ahead of schedule. We crossed the soft sand of Turimetta Beach, with another set of bush stairs to climb and prepared ourselves for the 3.5km strain of sand running ahead.
Narrabeen and Colleroy Beaches were included into the course this year. The two beaches joined together added up to 3.5km of continuous sand running. It hurt physically and mentally. I was still carrying Renae's pack for her hoping it would help with her speed along the sand. Jeff and Brian were up the front dragging us along, their coping mechanism was just to get the sand running over and done with. It just hurts so much, and even though it was low tide, the sand still saps energy from your legs, especially when you are carrying a pack, I was carrying two. I looked back a few times and noticed we had about 500m between us and the Blue Team. I noted the splits we were running every kilometre, and told Renae if she needed to run faster.
Renae is fast, faster than what she thinks she is, so when I asker her to push more she did it. By the time we were off Narrabeen, and Colleroy Beach we had gained enough of a buffer for me, for the time being.
We ran across Fisherman's Beach, calling our support crew, warning them of our arrival, making sure they were ready for us, and we hit the climb up to CP6 at Long Reef Point. I handed Renae back her pack, I'd carried it for her for 14km straight. We rolled down the hill past the golf course and prepared ourselves for the first and only Manned Check Point of the day at the 25km, Long Reef SLSC. We were 10 minutes ahead of schedule, 3 hours 25 minutes to complete 25kms.
I waited with Jeff just out of sight, for Renae and Brian to catch up, then we all ran in together to our support crew. Mikey, Mia, Zandra, Ben had all come out to see us and cheer us on. I was in race mode, most of my friends, family and clients don't see me get flustered, but with the extra adrenaline, and knowing they there was a team just behind us I wanted to get in and out of there ASAP. Last year I forgot I was racing. Then Mikey screwed with my head telling me that there was a team ahead of us. "No there is not, we are coming first, it's a 100km Team, you idiot".
I ran in dropped my bag picked up my replacement pack and emptied my rubbish and noticed I was a bit aggravated so I took a few steps back, to get out of the action. Bloody Mikey telling me we were not in the lead. Mia handed me a Hydralyte, I told the Race organisers that the Blue Team took a short cut. And I felt like I was still in everyones way, pissing them off, so I said, "I'm going", and took 10 steps saying that I am leaving. Our packs were pre packed and we just had to pick them up and go. Jeff and Brian had never run in a Team event before, and they had never raced with packs before with check points, so it was all new to them. They just needed a bit more time than me. I was of no help, because I am me, and I know I am shocking at CP's so I tried to stay out of the action.
With in a minute they organised themselves and they were up and running. I realised I forgot the map, and had to double back for it. But we were though the check point , and we had gained 11 minutes on the following team. We did not know this at the time, we could only see how far behind they were by looking back along the beaches. We shot out onto Long Reef beach, soon to be followed by Dee Why Beach, and we all felt better knowing they we were over the 1/2 way point. We were 10 minutes ahead of schedule and I was just so happy. Everyone was doing their job in the team. "Shona you just need to calm down, and let's have some fun out here", Brian rightly said to me. I know Cp's are a weakness of mine, and I need to improve on it. "Cool, Brian, I'm sorry, but I only managed to keep 2nd place overall by 2 minutes in the GNW by being as quick as I could in and out of the check points, and that was over 100km, every minute counts". I think we both understood each other. But I still needed to calm down. So I did my best to stay clam and focused on the track ahead.
We ran along Dee Why Beach, then along the coastal cliff broad walk, through a single man struck, around Dee Why Head, under the Curl Curl SLSC and out onto the last long beach of the day, Curl Curl Beach. At the end of Curl Curl Beach, Renae and Brian emptied their shoes of sand , my Inov8 Roc Lites 268 were keeping the sand out, even without gators, I did not need to stop, but I still waited for my team mates, and looked back for the Blue Team. We had about 1500m between us and them. We ran up the hill around McKillop Park and descended the stairs, rocked hopped our way onto Fresh Water Beach. I love this beach, it is short, flat and sweet.
We hit the climb, up over Queenscliff Head, and again I noticed Renae struggling under the weight of her pack, close to the top I took it off her and ran with it on my front. We passed  the Blue Team Support Crew, and then descended the stairs crossed the bridge, and ran along the Esplanade at Queenscliff Beach. I stopped here and emptied out some of Renae's water. She was carrying too much, it was a cold, wet and rainy day, stark contrast to conditions last year, we just did not need at much water. Wheni finished organising her pack, I had to work hard to catch up to my team mates. After a kilometre to gave Renae back her pack, now that it was lighter and she then knuckled in and found a rhythm.
"They are going to fast, I can't keep up". She said. I looked at the splits they were doing and it was not that fast.
"They are just setting the pace and dragging us along with them" I replied, hoping this would change her mind set. Within the next kilometre, Renae just started to fly, she was on a roll, with only 18kms to go and she was finally starting to feel good. We managed a 5 min 53 sec kilometre as a team, then hit the loos, at Fairy Bower. Jeff was starting to slow, but Renae was looking great, I ran on with Renae keeping her rhythm going. We all re-grouped at Shelly Beach, I took Renae's pack off her of the climb up to North Head. And I started to worry about Jeff. In every training session, he would make it to the 30km mark and start so show signs of fatigue. I don't think he was eating enough. He is such a strong and powerful guy, setting the pace winning the race across every beach, leading the team to the top of every hill. He has killed himself to get us up the front and the keep us out in front of the Blue Team. On the top of the single man track I gave Renae back her back pack, as she seemed to have recovered and was handling the climbs much better and I turned my attention to Jeff.
"I need a red bull"Jeff said. I forgot to pack some yesterday, we could buy one at Manly Wharf. We conquered the tough climb of North Head, and looked for the support car. Mikey was no where in sight, bugger, and I just saw a silver commodore driving past our location, just out of view, but in the wrong meeting place. Jeff sat down for a stretch, we decided we did not need the support crew, we had enough food and water on us.
Renae was on fire, and I wanted to keep her moving, so I ran on with her, down to Collins Beach. We decided to push on. Renae and I took off, it was nice to be leading for once. She needed to set our pace for the team now. We rolled down Collins Beach Rd, and spotted Mikey and Matt, Renae's Husband waiting for us. We grabbed the voltaren and gave ourselves a rub down, cut the hydralytes and I was ready to go, we had to wait a minute for the boys to join us. Mikey gave Jeff and rub down handed out hydralytes to the team, and with in a few minutes we were off. Mikey my awesome husband  then waited for the Blue Team to come past this point, before heading off. Our mucking around at the top had cost us about 6 minutes. But we were un aware of this.
We past Collins Beach, climbed up over Little Manly Reserve, and descended into the Manly Promenade. Jeff was desperate for a red Bull, I forgot danger money, I had Renae and Jeff run on and Brian and I searched through Brian's Pack for a $20 which we could not find. We then chased down Jeff and Renae and had to sadly inform them that we had to do it all on Gels and Hydralytes. This did not concern Renae, she became our pacer now, but Jeff hit the wall, and was jogging slowly. I offered him a hydralyte and a gel. I ran on with Renae for 500m, and soon realised that I had lost Jeff and Brian. I was starting to feel the effects of the southerly wind. My allergies were playing up, I was having trouble breathing, and I was wheezing. Renae later told me I was going white in the face. Shit. Oh well I thought, let's just keep going and get this race over and done with. Renae and I ran on ahead for a few hundred meters before I stopped to check back on the boys.
Jeff hit the wall. In training for Coastrek Jeff blew up at the exact same place. Brian soon came running around the corner near Forty Baskets Beach, he told me Jeff was suffering. I back tracked to find Jeff. He was exhausted. I handed him a Hydralyte, making him eat it.  Now he wanted the salt tablets. I felt guilty again, because I left them back with Mikey, at Collins Beach. Bugger. We soon re-grouped and I slowly got Jeff jogging again. But he soon had to walk. When we were climbing the bush stairs up to Dobroyd Head, he started to stumble. I made him have a gel. I also told him he had to now have a gel every 30 minutes and hydralyte every 15 minutes. He then proceeded to crawl up the stairs on his hands and knees. He was at the 42.2km mark, that is the furthest he has ever been. He was amazing earlier on in the race, his team work with Brian was the reason why we were doing so well and he was paying for it now. We were on a single man track. I started to complain of hamstring soreness.
"Man my hamstrings are killing me from carrying Renae's Pack for her". I grumbled as we climbed slowly up onto the plateau.
"Can you carry my pack for me? Nah, don't worry". Jeff half asked.
"Hand it over" I reluctantly agreed. But with that I had something to work with, Jeff was lighter and more balanced. We made it past the final CP, and Jeff was moving again. I was having trouble trying to stay with them. Jeff's pack was big and bulky, and hard to see over when while I try and watch my footing on the technical single man track. For the next 3 kilometres we ran as a team threading our way through the harbour cliffs of Sydney Harbour National Park. The minute we Clontarf Beach, Renae, Jeff and Brian took off. I was too heavy carrying two packs, so I stopped and emptied some water out. There was 5km to go and we really did not need all this water, so to lighten my load I emptied the pack to nothing. I was getting tired, and I needed some help. I asked Jeff if he could carry is now light empty pack. He agreed I then informed him that he was due for a gel.
Renae and Brian were still out head, and I hung with Jeff, staying behind him making sure he was okay and running. We entered a section rain forest near sandy bay, and whilst holding onto the railings to keep my balance on the wet track I was horrified to discover that I had  leech on my had.
"Eeeeeek, I've got a leech on my haaaaandd!" I yelled as I flicked it off as fast as I could before it attached itself. I then ran along stupidly, running on my heals, looking down at my feet checking for more leeches. Doing this unbalanced me and I slipped on the slimy wooden broad walks and fell flat on my butt. Like an embarrassed cat I was back up on my feet hoping that no one saw my graceless fall, but Jeff spotted it.
"Are you Okay?" He asked. I was too embarrassed to answer. I narrowly avoided falling off the boardwalk and onto the rocks below.
We pushed on as a team and ran across Fisher Bay, and ran up onto the Spit Bridge, thankful that it was not going to open and let boats through while we wait on the Clontarf Side. We made it across in time and we were feeling great. I told Jeff how well he was doing,
"We are probably going to break the record by 1.5 hours, only 27 minutes of running left". I remarked.
 A few cars tooted us and we spotted Mikey and Matt waiting for us near Parriwi Park at 47.5km. They had hydralytes ready for us.
"The Blue Team are only 5 minutes behind." Mikey nervously informed us.
"Jeff , Renae you have to run, we did not come all this way, and hurt this much to be beaten in the last few kilometres". I said. "Come on run. 20 on 20 off". We ran and walked our way up the climb to the top of the hill where Brian was waiting for us. He had been so solid all day. Such a fantastic team mate. I did not have to worry about him once, and he took the pacer, and just kept them going.
We ran up past the Rosherville Lighthouse, down the stairs, along the steep descent to Chinaman's Beach, past the kids play ground and up the final climb of the day. Again Jeff and Renae slowed, but we used the 20 on 20 off rule and before we knew it we were at the top of the final climb of the day, and descending down to the final beach of the day to Balmoral Beach.
We ran along the last few hundred metres of sand, past the photographer, who we dare not stop for and have our photo taken with,  and crossed the final patch of soft sand back up onto the Esplanade. We jogged together, quickly at first, but we soon had to slow.
"This is the best I have felt all day, I can finally stretch my legs" I said.
The finish line always seems so far away, at the far end of the beach, I looked around a few times and I could not see the Blue Team Following us. We past the expensive restaurants, and tried to ignore the bemused faces of the locals of Mosman, and we just kept our eyes on the finish line. Again we slowed, sorted ourselves out and held hands and ran across the line. We completed the 50km plus is 6 hours and 14 minutes and 54 seconds.
We did it, we preformed better than expected, not once could the entire team get together for a training session, but it did not seem to matter. We all knew how to run, and we all knew how each other ran. We proved ourselves as a true force in the trail running world. Renae and I now have the title back to back. I can't wait to make it 3 out of 3. Winning Coastrek meant that I have 3 wins from 3 trail races, 3 records from 3 Trail Events. It's been a great 6 months.
We narrowly beat the Blue Team by 11 minutes. My two all female teams finished 2nd, 8 hours 18 minutes and 3rd 8 hours 44 minutes. It was an awesome effort for our humble running club.