Saturday, April 28, 2012

TNF100 Fairmont, Golden Stairs, Narrow Neck, 6 Foot Track, Nellies Glen

I had the best time for a long time running in the mountains all by myself on Saturday. The Running Wild NSW Mt Solitary Ultra 45km was cancelled due to the deluge of rain that the Sydney area received a few days before. I’d already organised my mum to look after my kids for the weekend so nothing was going to prevent me from missing an opportunity to train in the Blue Mountains.I decided to head out and train on The North Face 100 (TNF) route the Fairmont, Leura Forest, Narrow Neck, Danphy’s Camp, 6 Foot Track, Nellie Glen route, then decide how I was going and what time it was and try and find a way back to my car at the Fairmont Resort. 
I started late at 11am because I had to take 2 “Make Up” personal training sessions on Saturday morning due to the wet conditions we have suffered in Sydney. So even before I started my run I had already spent 2 hours on my legs. It was just going to be one of those days for a fantastic day to run. The weather was just perfect, still really warm, no need for gloves or a beanie. I was just running in my Inov8 singlet, compression socks and shorts, visor running belt and as much of my mandatory gear I could find in my UltrAspire Surge back pack. Just perfect. I have put on weight since 6 Foot Track Training, I am a kilo heavier, but I am two kilos lighter than last year. I think I put on extra weight in my quads and glutes to carry the extra mandatory gear that is required to run in the event and keep all the runners safe.
I left the Fairmont Resort a few minutes after 11am, I had the pleasure of spotting the great runner Andrew Lee out training as I drove into the resort. Everyone was going to be out training this weekend, with only a month until the big TNF it is so important to get extra mountain training in.As soon as I headed up the hill, a local wanted to chat to me. I stopped my watch, stopped running and walked next to him while we chatted about the up coming events Wild Endurance and TNF. I think it is important to chat to as many people as possible when I am out training. Trail running is an emerging sport, and I am running though these locals back yard. I have to be respectful everyone I meet, maybe my good manners will pay off someday. If you know me personally I can talk your ear off for hours.
He turned right and I started to run and continued straight, then turned right onto Willoughby Rd and hit the bush track. I ran along the trail and I was soon spat out onto the streets of Leura for the next few kilometres before I was again on the trail at Abbey Rd near Gordon Falls. I check my maps, followed the signs and before long I was stopped again by some very confused European Tourists. They were lost and I was the only one in the vicinity carrying a map. I gave them some simple directions which they were not to pleased with. I told them to follow the Cliff Walk to Katoomba, or the Leura Falls route to the Federal pass. I don’t know what they wanted me to do. But they still had 5km to go until they were at Katoomba.
”These trails are like spaghetti, it is easy to get lost” I cautioned. I guess in Australia everything does seem further away than in Europe. I explained to them that they would be okay and told them that I was planning on doing about 60km so 5km was not really that much. 
“Do you have food and water?” I questioned.
“Yes plenty”.This shut the bloke up at least. “I’m a runner, I love to run,” He then added “I’m not a navigator” He admitted.
“I know, that’s why you are lost”. With that I was off and running.I ran on before I again could not help myself I had to help out another European tourist taking photos of the Leura Cascades with a 1/2 decent camera. I lined them up and took a shot for them. They were of both a large frame so I was having a few problems fitting both them and the cascades in the shot. I showed them the shot on the view finder and I asked them if it was okay. They were satisfied with my shot and with this I was off again.
I descended the stairs to the bottom of the valley passing an annoyed Aussie mother with her young kids flying through the trails chasing after them. I stepped in a puddle and splashed mud on her.
“Thank’s a lot” She said. 
“It’s just dirt it’ll wash off” I yelled behind me. I don’t know what she expected from a bush walk in the Blue Mountains after the biggest rainfall Sydney has seen for 15 years. She was going to get dirty no matter what. I really felt like saying "Toughen up princess". But I guess that would not have gone down too well. I sped on up a set of stairs and  just enjoyed the freedom of running on my own at my own pace. I love descending especially on single man tracks, so when I passed through the Leura Forrest down the endless sets of stairs and onto the technical Federal Pass I hit my rhythm and enjoyed the ride. My shoes were fantastic. The more I wear my Inov8 shoes the more I love them. I have been wearing the same pair of Inov8 Roclites since December for all my long trail runs and they have looked after me. Initially I did not like them so much.  They are different from regular shoes. I found them a bit too flexible at first. My feet did need to become stronger. I have built up my strength in my lower calves and my feet I just love the extra kick I have developed in my running action. My husband has commented that I look effortless when I am running. I make it look easy. I am faster than before and I can now run faster without so much effort.
My favourite Road shoes at the moment are the Inov8 f-lite 195. They are just pure freedom in a running shoe. Since I wear these shoes on the road then I swop to the Roclites on the trail I know my feet are stronger. This especially comes in handy when I am threading my way through the muddy, rocky , uneven single man track of the Federal pass. My agility has to be lightening fast to keep my speed through this section of the tack. The stability must all come from my feet and work it’s way up.
Soon I am stopped again my a group of three young Northern European guys. They are freaking out. One of them had a leech on him. The three of them were all huddled on a rock less than a meter squared. “Excuse me what should we do? A leech is on our friend? Is it dangerous?”.  They did not have a lighter, they did not have salt or aeroguard, so I asked them. 
“Has it attached? “. I asked as I checked my own feet and jumped up onto a rock out of the leaf litter and ferns.
“Yes” One replied.
“Just leave it on, it will drop off when it has had its fill. If you pull it off it will just bleed and you won’t be able to stop it, if you leave it on it will clot the wound when it’s finished, it won’t hurt you.” I advised. Still checking my own legs. They did not seem too pleased with this thought.
”You guys are moving too slow, run and then they won’t get on you”. With this said I was off and running. I was later than normal, starting at 11am and all the tourist were out in the tracks. I feel bad when I come running up behind them. I am a silent runner, landing on my toes, light on my feet, not making a sound. I usually scare the crap out of tourist. Sometimes I warn them calling out ahead. But I find this this can scared them just as much as just running fast up behind them. The ladies are especially frightened when I call out to warn them. I do apologise when I scoot past. I came across the Scenic Railway, and advise a pair of Chinese tourist to take the tourist broad walk, but they were determined to check the Landslide out. This impressed me. I soon came across another pair of Chinese guys who were almost at the Landslide. They asked me how far I had come and where I was going. They were really interested in what I was doing and what I was wanting to achieve, as well as what I was carrying in my back pack, and what I was wearing. I showed them the maps, and started flipping the pages, following the route I was about to do. They were pretty impressed. My goal for the day was just to complete as close to 60km as time would allow. I had already completed about 7km. I needed to be at a friends birthday party later that day too. I was on borrowed time. Everyone wanted to chat to me, and I love to talk, I love telling people about my passion and I wanted to set an example to these people of what was achievable if you trained for it. But I was losing time, I was going to be coming out of Nellies Glen in the dark if I was not careful with all my chit chat to tourist. I left the guys with this in mind and started to run again.When you are training for an event like TNF you just do the training because you have to, I just get the job done. I was on my own and this was how I liked it. I needed to sort my head out and work on my fuelling, hydration and pace. Work on my self belief. This I needed to concentrate. I started to work out which songs I would sing to myself to have the correct tempo for the flats and the climbs.
I pushed on and soon twisted my ankle whilst passing the Landslide. The trail turns from a single man track to a rocky, clay ankle killer. I tape my ankles to prevent a sprain. I am double jointed. I can click out my jaw, hip, wrist and now one ankle can click out. My knee caps use to slip around to the outside of my knee. But that had stopped the last time it popped out was after having my second child 5 years ago. I have built up a balanced muscle strength around my knees, I try not to pop my hip out , again I have built up strength in my glutes to prevent this from happening also. But my ankle is a bit of a lost cause at the moment. I did feel it pop out but it pops back in just as easily. It does hurt, but not enough to prevent me from running fast.
I carried on down the even ground. I hopped on through the landslide and soon I scared the crap out of another  pair of Northern European guys as I dodged through the heath scrub just past the Landslide. I did not have enough time to warn them before I frightened them. The look on his face was of primal fear, then relief. I again apologised and headed on. I enjoyed more rolling up hills of single man track on the Federal Pass and then I stared to worry, as I crossed over three large trees that had fallen over due to the soft ground. I petrified of the possibility of leeches attaching to me as I passed over these fallen trees. I scooted over the first tree soon to be followed by another then another, then another. The final tree was almost un-passable. But I found a hole through some branches. I barged my way through but I was caught on the vines that was tangled in the tree. I tried to make the least amount of contact with the tree thinking that the longer I stayed still the higher the chance of a leech attaching to me. I scraped my knee and elbow in the branches trying to free myself but within thirty seconds I was running again and I soon came across the Golden Stair case.
TNF100km 2011 was my first ever solo 100km. I had the pleasure of running with the world best. In 2011 I managed to hold off the World Champion Nera Martinez up until this point. I just had to pass her through the Leura Forrest but she passed me on the Golden Stair Case. I was pretty proud of myself, even just running along side these professional athletes was a privilege and I cherished every minute of it. Again those stairs stung my quads but I did my best to run when I could. I came across some “Wild Endurance” Team runners. I would like thank all the organisers of these amazing events. When I am out training for TNF, I am constantly passing “Wild Endurance” runners. They are usually running the opposite way to TNF so I pass them regularly. This makes training so much safer. Especially for someone like me who has a family and can’t just train without negotiation from my parents and husband. I usually find it hard to find runners who can train when I can. I also run differently to the other top runners. They are usually amazing climbers but I am the opposite, I relish the descents. I gain valuable time running down hills lightening fast. I usually end up “Yo Yoing” runners when I am racing them, they beat me on the ups, I pass them on the downs.
I got to the top of the stairs and it took me about 2 hours with getting a bit lost adding about 500m of walking on running in my aerobic system. I made it to the gate to Narrow Neck in 2 hours 13 minutes. I felt good. I was going light on my fuelling holding off my glucose making my aerobic system work harder. I kicked on along Narrow Neck hurting a bit from my ankle twist at the Landslide. I told my pain to “Fuck off” and I started to analyse the pain and adjusted my running action to eliminate to sharp stabbing sensation I was feeling on the medial side of my right ankle. I suffer from an ankle impingement, but I ran the GNW with it. It felt the same as it did out on Narrow Neck. So I knew eventually I would block out the pain and it would just go away. Soon my body would work out that I was not going to stop so the pain receptors will just shut off. Pain is felt in the brain not the muscle. When you realise this you will be able to work through any injury. (Apart form a broken bone or a completed muscle tear, you will know when to stop).
I ran along Narrow Neck remembering the last time I was out here. It was the day the “6 Foot Track” was cancelled. I ran with my local heroes Brendan Davis, Beth Cardelli, Alex William’s, Mick Douges and many more. Only the week before I’d run 50km in a team event Coastrek and won with a new record of 6 Hours 14 minutes in gale forced southerly winds. My allergies were preventing me from breathing properly. I was in so much distress I really did think I was asthmatic. My husband and a few of my close friends were really worried about me. I then went for an exercised induced asthma test and I was cleared of asthma. I just had really bad hay fever. I then went out again with Beth for a training run after having a flu shot and I was sick, fevered with ache and pains, sweats, the works of Flu symptoms plus allergies and I failed miserably I could only complete 36km. I did just complete a Long Course Tri of 2km swim, 120km bike and a 20km run the week before in 6 hours 50 minutes, so I was not fresh.
But today I had it all under control. I am taking antihistamines everyday as a preventive and I am finally able to breath properly through my trachea. My trachea in the past would become swollen when I exercised, meaning that I was struggling to get more oxygen into my lungs.  My nose would also become blocked and I would not be able to breath and run up a hill.
But I was in control for the first time in a long time, and I felt great. My legs felt like they were full of strength, and I was ready for all the climbs the Blue Mountains was going to put in my way. Last year I could not do any flat speed interval training, as it would flare up my stress fractured feet. I could not do any training on the road at all. This made it really hard when I live right in the middle of Sydney. There is concrete everywhere. But this year I could run anywhere without thought.
I ran along Narrow Neck, again the views were amazing along the wide fire trail. I was able to run up all the climbs and I soon came to the Pluviometer 25km. Some of the climbs do sting your quads and calves, but today I felt awesome. I came across two Aussie Chinese husband and wife hikers. They were so impressed when they saw me coming up the fire trail they stopped me and wanted to chat. I guess it is not often that you come across a young female running on her own in the mountains.“I want to get into extreme marathon running” The guy said to me. They were dressed head to tow in bone hiking chinos and shirts with hiking boots on. I mentioned that I was a personal trainer and that I love teaching people how to run. I told him I had a blog and he could read about trail running and the races I have completed. He was interested in what I was wearing, and the pack I was carrying. I excitedly told him about the up-coming runs that he should try. He'd heard of "Coolrunnings" I mentioned that my first trail run was "The Great Nosh". I could have chatted all day to this lovely couple but I had to keep moving if I was to get out of here in sunlight. I had a funny feeling I was going to come out of Nellies Glen with a head torch on. I ran on to the end of Narrow Neck and thought about taking a photo but the light was not good enough. I headed to the right down the single man track, descended the narrow ladder and I soon came across a pair of climbers assailing down Tarros Ladder. I felt really under pre-pared, they had full climbing gear on, helmets, harnesses, ropes. I was willing to trust the climbing spikes that I had descended a few times previous. I felt safe though. If I did slip and fall I had two people here to rescue me. Before long I was off and running again along the gorgeous single man track. I purposely packed the large compression bandage, knowing that I was running on my own. The chance of a snake bite through this area felt plausible. I just wanted to get through this section before it got too late. There are a few climbs through this section, but they are over soon enough. I was able to run over most of them. When I did slow to a walk on one of the rockier sections of the climb of Mount Derbert 30km, I just said to myself "Don't Give Up", and I was running again.
I hit the open fire trail at Medlow Gap and I immediately felt safer. The fire trail took the fear of a snake bite away, and I coasted down the hill to Breakfast Creek and I started the climb. The last time I was out training I had a "moment" here. And I was slowed to a walk for a few minutes. But today I was stronger and I was able to run the entire way over Sliprail Creek 35km up the two climbs to Bellbird Ridge, where I ate again, finished the last of my fluid. I had only consumed 2.6L of fluid in 37 kms, and I felt good.
I rolled down the incredibly steep rocky fire-trail and jogged into Danphy's Camp 38km. I drank some water and re-filled my UltrAspire Hydra-pack Bladder and my 600ml water bottle then headed on down to Green Gully. In TNF you continue on through to Iron Pot Ridge. But this is out of bounds for training. I hooned down Megalong Valley Rd and came to the Cottage at Green Gully. I was stopped by the owners of the property. They were curious about where I had been, where I was going and what I was training for. When people find out I am a personal trainer the questions just come flying. I felt obliged to answer them all I was running through their land but the sun was fading and I had to get going if I was ever going to make it back to Sydney in time for a party.
I ran along the fire trail and followed the road straight up a massive climb of 300m. I ate and chugged into my rhythm straight up the climb. I felt good and just concentrated on my legs and keeping them strong. This climb always hurts but it is over in 3km. I just punched through all the way to the top of Euroka Ridge. When I was at the top and waved to the farmers and some other local of the area. I then stopped and took advantage of the warm a setting sun light. I posed for a self photo and then kicked on down the descent into the Megalong Valley. Any "6 Foot Track" Runner will know this section well. I turned right onto the 6 Foot Track and followed Nellies Glen Road for 8km back towards Katoomba. The sun was setting and I was surprised when I saw  a pair of hikers heading out from Nellies Glen near one of the locked gates."How far to the Cox's River?" One asked.
"It's 15km from the start, we are about 7km in so you have 7-8km to go, do you have head torches?" I asked.
"Nahhh, we will be right we will just camp when it gets dark". He replied.
The land in between basically Nellies Glen and the Cox's River of the Megalong Valley is private land. Technically he will need permission to camp there. I was not want to be in his shoes later on that night. I pushed on myself knowing that it was soon going to be dark. I heard my phone go off. I stopped and sent a text to my friend and my husband telling them where I was and that I was about to come up Nellies Glen. I switched my head torch on and ran up the fire trail. Again this is a steep climb that hurts like hell, before it just hurts some more when the trail narrows down to single man track. I had not had the opportunity to train under ahead torch since August Oxfam. GNW I did not need one. So this was perfect training for me.
Coming up out of Nellies Glen in the dark all by yourself plays havoc with your brain. I was convinced that there was someone lurking in the bushes. A crazy hermit, living close to the fresh water source of Nellies Glen, hiding amongst the small creek caves. Adrenaline is an amazing thing, I was flying, hardly noticing the burning in my quads. Breathing heavily as I climbed up the wet narrow creek bed. I was so frightened, I kept checking behind me to see if I was being followed. Any noise I heard in the bush was being investigated. The sound of the creek washing into the vegetation freaked the pants off me before I realised it was just the sound of the water washing through leaves, not a monster about to grab me. I soon pulled my head back together. I realised that I was a sitting duck to any attacker that may be living in this gully. There was no way out if I did come across someone. But reason came back into my thoughts. If there was a crazy hermit living down here he probably did not have a job. If he did not have a job, and he did not have an address to get dole payments, then he probably could not afford batteries for in his torch, and he had run out of batteries, sohe was in the dark with no light and I would blind him with my head torch if he came to attack me. Nice thinking? Always look on the bright side....
The steps of Nellies Glen never looked so good. I was close to the top and I was going to get out. I pushed up the massive set of bush stairs, only allowing one step for every stair and I was soon out on the fire trail at the start of the "6 Foot Track". I ran out onto the Western HWY, put on my high vis vest and headed back to Katoomba. I felt great, I had a kick on in my run and I was doing really well. I followed the footpath along the road. I checked my Garmin and it said I had completed 57km. I'd already completed 7km that morning and I needed to get back to Sydney to see my friend and Husband back at a party. I was worried that I would not be able to get a taxi at Katoomba. I was worried that I was going to take too long running to get back to my car. I hooned along the path and I then spotted my way out.
I saw a young girl with "P" plates on a car start her car. I asked her. "Can I have a lift to Leura or where ever you are going so I can get back to Sydney?" I asked. I told her what I have been doing for the past 7.5 hours, 6.5 hours of running. I chatted to people through out the day for an hour.
Her dad soon got into the car and he dropped her off at her work and then he did the nicest thing, he dropped me back at my car at the Fairmont Resort. After finding my car, with it's door ajar and unlocked I must to have left it opened, I was so happy my car started first time and nothing was stolen. I then drove home back to Sydney, jumped in the shower and I was at the party my 8:30pm. I do have good luck. Or is it just good karma.

Monday, April 9, 2012

TNF100km Training Session Roc Lite 268 UltrAspire Surge

I headed out with a new training buddy Beth from Katoomba on Easter Sunday. I almost called the session off. I'd had the Flu shot on the Wednesday before the Easter long weekend in the hope to safe guard myself against the Flu virus with TNF and other events coming up. I was feeling a bit sick, with flu like symptoms, but I did not want to let my new mate down. I guess that is why you schedule in training sessions with friends, they make sure you complete your training goal.
Our intended training run was to head out from Katoomba, down into the Leura Forrest, over Sublime Ridge, up Kedumba, across the Kings Tableland, through Wentworth Falls , past the Fairmont Resort and back to Katoomba and depending on how we were feeling add on another 15km to make it a 50km plus session. Both Beth and I were not feeling the best. She had only just completed 60km on the Friday, and I was feeling a bit feverish. It was a foggy morning, not too cold, as soon as we ran off the ridge and entered the Leura Forrest I was stripping down to just my sports Bra, compression shorts and socks. The mountains were warmer than the year before, and this surprised us both. We cruised down through the Leura Forrest and hooned out onto Sublime Ridge where we enjoyed the long descents into the Jamison Valley. We past Leura Creek and started the climb up onto Sublime Ridge, before we again descended to Jamison Creek before we started the real climb of the day. I was feeling feverish, my head felt hot and cold all at once. I was not feeling the best but I had enough energy to completed the session. My goal for the day was just to climb with Beth. She is one of the best climbers going around. Her cadence is extremely high, like a humming bird and she just can turn her stride rate up to propel herself up the long 9km climb.
I am so use to training by myself that it was really weird training with someone matching your pace for every step. I did my best to stay with her and by the time we made it to the Swine Fence close to the top of the climb I was achieving my goal.  On my feet I was wearing Inov8 Roc Lite 268. They are just great, perfect grip, enough protection for my speedy descents and enough traction for the climbs. I wear compression shorts and compression socks. I tape my ankles and my big toe where I have lost a toe nail from my last training run in the mountains. I even tape one of my big toe straight. I'm rehabbing it at the moment. My Inov8 road shoes, Inov8 f-lite 195 and 230 are helping realign my big toe whilst running around the city. 
The compression socks help with the blood flow back up to my heart from my feet. I use to get pooling of blood under the balls of my feet. I would loose circulation under the balls of my feet and then not be able to feel my big toe. Since I have been wearing compression socks I don't suffer from this annoying side effect of running on my toes.
Two weeks ago I was sent off for a lung function test. I was concerned that I may have been developing exercised induce asthma. My results came back all clear for asthma. However it did show that I had a narrowing in my trachea when I exercised. I have to now go for allergy test, to see what could be causing this reaction when I exercise. When I breath heavily whilst running up long climbs you can hear me struggling to get enough air through to my lungs. I am finding antihistamines and anti-inflamatries are helping relieve this sensation. (I never take anti-inflamatries whilst exercising, I always will take them the day or night before an event to refuse the risk of a stomach bleed).  I did not take them before this training run, I probably should have considering I have just had the Flu shot. But at the moment I feel like I don't have a plan. I know my allergies are holding me back. So with this feeling and with the flu like symptoms I was doing well to be staying with Beth up the Kedumba climb. I need to sort out this problem before TNF100km so I can breathe normally when racing.
We made it to the top and ate some food. We both ate together. I was eating Gu Roctanes and Beth was eating rice crackers. We are different runners, with different strengths. Beth is so talented, she is  like a rabbit when she runs, hopping her way along the track. We past the old Queen Victoria Hospital and headed towards the Fairmont Resort. Beth filled up with water at a house. I was wearing my UltrAspire Surge caring 2.6L so I had enough water for the time being. I was really surprised that I could fit in so much of my mandatory TNF100 gear in my pack. Head Torch, thermal top, thermal pant, wet weather jacket, bandage, phone, whistle, laminated maps, Hydra-pack bladder 2L, high visibility vest, plus my gels and hydration mix in a separate 600ml bottle. The only things I was missing were my water proof pants, fleece, back up head torch and emergency blanket and jiffy fire litters and matches. But I think I could possible fit them in if needed. The UltrAspire Omega, is a better choice for TNF100. But this pack the UltrAspire Surge, is a good choice for early on in the race, when you usually don't have to carry the fleece and water proof pants. (Last year we all had to pick up our water proof pants and fleece at Katoomba Aquatic Centre, the officials also do a spot check along the course to make sure you are carrying your two head torches). I had my gloves and beanie on my running belt so they were easily accessible when I was running. I could even fit my running singlet in the back compartment with my maps. I ran with my sports bra on, and lathered my back, underarms with Paw Paw ointment and I only chaffed a small amount on my front where I forgot to put the paw paw ointment. The pack fits perfectly to my small frame, and it barely moves when I run.
I was feeling a bit flat, the flu shot was catching up with me. Last Sunday I had just completed my second Long Course Triathlon, a 2km swim, 120km Bike Ride and a 20km Run. I managed a 20th place, I was 2nd last out of the swim and I just had to work my butt off to ride and run everyone down. It took me 6 hours and 50 minutes. I had gut issues during the run, and it took my longer to recover from the Tri than expected. I had gastro for a two days, so it was probably not wise to get the Flu shot and then attempt a 50plus training run the week after the longest Tri I had ever completed. But there is never a good time to get the Flu shot and life is not perfect, you have to take your chances to train when they come up.
We ran along the Kings Tableland then headed back onto the single man track back towards the Fairmont Resort. It is a really good idea to familiarise  yourself with this part of the track. In TNF this section will probably be completed under head torches. Last year in my first solo 100km, only my second 100km event I made a few rookie mistakes. I forgot to change my batteries in my head torch. I'd run out of water 10km back and I hit the wall. I was in the worse way possible. I remember a runner giving me some of their water, then another runner made me get my back up torch out and use it. I was a real mess. I can't wait to attempt it again, but with a years more experience hoping I'm a better climber, and that I have my nutrition and hydration sorted out.
Beth and I headed back through the bush and past Wentworth Falls and followed the signs to Conservation Hut. Beth was relieved that I knew my way through this section of the course, as it can be very tricky. It is a spaghetti land of trail around this section. But if you just follow the signs to Conservation Hut you will be okay. Last year I spent most of my time lost whilst training. It's nice to come back this year and cut out heaps of time just though my navigation skills. We then followed the trail to Edinburgh Castle then down to Lillian's Glen then over Lillian's Bridge where we then climbed back up to the Plateau along a kilometre of bush stairs across a broad walk then we spotted the golf course and re-enacted the finish in to the Fairmont Resort. 
We were then disgusted by a group six of the Fairmont Resort guest who were riding on two wheeled electric scooters. It was the total opposite of what I am about. I'm a personal trainer, my job is to get people moving. I was shocked that these people could not be bothered walking 500m from the hotel to get to the bush track. No wonder Australia is the fattest nation in the world. Sometimes I feel like I am fighting a loosing battle against obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
I always find it hard to start up again after leaving the Fairmont Resort. It is the finish of TNF so I feel I should be finishing here. Running on the road again just does my head in. I was feeling lethargic, sweaty and run down. My breathing was starting to get harder as I could feel my throat getting swollen and running on the road is so boring. It's hard to add on extra kilometres at the end of a run to make up distance for your goal time, and Beth mentioned that she might just stop at her house and let me run on by myself. She had already completed enough training for the weekend. With all this in mind my heart just was not in the training session. 
We ran along Sublime Point Road and after consulting the maps turned onto Willoughby Rd and stopped at the sign to take some pictures. I love this section of the track, the views are amazing. The Three Sisters are visible and the amazing beauty of the sand stone cliffs are showcased from this vantage point on the track. We descended a set of stairs to then climb straight back up another set, and we were then ejected back onto the streets. Again the thought of running on the roads did my head in. I am so happy this is the start of the race. Here I said out loud "I feel so bad". I must have said it in such a way that Beth immediately replied. "Oh Shona, you poor thing, let's find our way back the quickest way via the roads". It's funny my guard was let down. I was tired, feeling sick, I had a temperature, my joints were starting to ache, I felt like crap and I just did not want to risk getting really sick. I'd rather cut this training session short 14km , still be able to complete my job as a personal trainer with 30 sessions of face time a week, plus my own training and then come back next week and complete a 60km training run when I am feeling better.
I pulled out my maps and we then decided on a route to run back the quickest way possible. Beth was so nice to me. She lead the way, chatted to me trying to take my mind off my rotten illness. I kept checking the maps, seeing where we were, those maps acted like a security blanket. I could concentrate on them and take my mind of how I was feeling. I had a bad day out there. We were 2km from her house but I was adamant that I had to know exactly where I was. It must be a coping mechanism that I have from training on my own. Quiet often I will go out by myself for 60km and run by myself, just me, the bush, my maps and my head. We ended up completing 36km plus in 4 hours and 11 minutes, including navigational pauses water stoppages....
Beth made me a hot chocolate, fed me some lollies, gave me a cookie whilst her dog Jack demanded a pat by growling at me constantly and resting his head in my lap. Normally after one of those training runs I am buzzing off the wall, and I have trouble sleeping. Whilst driving on the way home from the Blue Mountains back to Sydney, I was almost fell asleep at the wheel and I had to try my hardest to stay awake and alert. I was shattered. When I arrived home, I could barely muster the strength to get out of the car. I was lethargic, feverish and just plain old sick. I just needed to rest and get my energy levels back up again.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bateman's Bay Ultimate Tri and Inov8 f-lite 230

I geared up for my longest Triathlon ever in the Bateman's Bay Ultimate Triathlon of 2km swim, 120km bike ride and a 20km run,as part of my cross training for THF 100km. It was t be my second Triathlon.
I knew I was going to be on my legs for a long time, and what better training for me than to have to chase down an entire field of people.
The swim leg is the first leg of the event and it is my weakest leg. This time I had a new wet suit, and I hoped that it would help improve my swim leg. It was a mass start of about 240 people entering the water at once the guys and the girls all starting together. This did not bother me. I had a wet suit on and I was more buoyant. I'd only swam with a wetty once before, a week earlier and I found it much easier so I was hopping that I would improve my time.
The siren went and we were off and running into the water. I ran into the water of Bateman's Bay up to my hip then took a few dives before I started to swim. One of my coaches said to go out as fast as you can for twenty five meters then recover. This should get me into a better position in the pack and hopefully reduce drag and I will get pulled along with the main pack.

I did my best to swim as fast as I could, but the murky water with no visibility just did my head in. From the start I was having problems with my navigation and my head space. I need to see where I am going to feel comfortable in the water. I could not see a thing, the water was brown and there was not way of navigating from the sea bed below, to navigate I had to keep lifting my head to spot the buoy whilst trying to swim. I hated it, but that's life and we don't just get to do what we want all the time.
Then the funniest thing happened, everyone stood up and started to run. We hit a sand bar, and it was shallow enough to run for 20m. I loved this, and it gave me a chance to rest and recover. Before long the sand bar disappeared and I was swimming again. The wet suit was great, I was so buoyant and it was so easy to kick, but the arms began to get heavy with the lifting and stretching of the wetsuit fabric. My arms started to burn, and I had to resort to breathing every second stroke and just hoped the pain would go away. I passed the first buoy and turned left to swim to the second buoy. I tried to put my head down and find a rhythm that I could hold for the 2km and attempt to breath every 3rd stroke. I soon found out that my navigation was crap due to my inexperience and the murky water and I would find myself five metres of course. It was better for me to breathe every second stroke and to check my position than to breathe every 3rd and go off course. I soon passed the second buoy, and then the 3rd buoy, and past the start finish line to complete the first lap of the two lap course. 
By the time I passed the start and finish line I was at the back of the pack and I was just thankful that I had not gotten lapped. I swam on throughout the murky water, ran over the sand bar and swam again. I was determined that I was not going to come last. I knew my speed was better when I breathed every 3 strokes, but with nothing to line up with in the soupy water I kept going off course and I was just so frustrated with myself and my broken arm. My left arm has been broken three times and the third time it was not set properly, so it is on a 66 degrees angle. When I was free styling I would always over steer towards the right, and would soon find myself on my own five metres off course in the murky water with nothing to navigate from on the sea bed. I'm just learning how to swim correctly and I just have not got the knack of it yet so my unbalanced body sends me a off course to the right if I can't see anything below to line up my position.
I passed the 1500m buoy and tried my hardest to think about my stroke and work on my kick. I was close to last and I was adamant I was not going to be that last person out of the water. I passed the finishing buoy and I turned on my kick. My feet hit sand and I started to run. I passed some mates who cheered for me as I exited the beach and ran across into transition.

I was knackered, but so happy to be out of the water, my legs were flying and I was so proud of myself to have achieved a personal best in the 2km swim by over a minute, 46:03. I could have been so much faster if my head was in the right place, but hey a PB is  PB. I was second last female, fourth last out of the water.

I got out of my wetty, put on my helmet and sunglasses, sat on my towel, ate a gel, drank some sustain, dried my feet put on my socks, cleats and tri belt, checked that I had not forgotten anything , turned on my Garmin bike computer and ran out of transition.
I felt good, I was on my bike and I had set myself strict goals. I had to keep my heart rate over 155 bpm for the entire 120km. The bike leg ran along the coast from Bateman's Bay to Broulee Heads, near the airport then it turned around and returned back to Bateman's Bay. It was a 60km loop so we had to compete 2 laps. The first 17km was cruel, creasty rolling hills. I passed about 4 people within the first five kilometres. The next 13km were flat, with a slight climb. Again my legs could handle more strain than my competitors and I continues to pass people as I put my head down and concentrated at keeping my speed as close to 30km as possible. I turned the bike around at the airport and did my best to keep my speed at 32kms per hour for the next 13 kilometres. I was passing people the entire way, and I was unsure of the drafting rule, so I pulled out of the other competitors draft zone to pass. I soon learned from the officials that this was called blocking. I was blocking the traffic that was driving beside the race. I was confused, but as long as I was not yellow carded or worse off red carded and end up in the penalty box or disqualified I was happy. 

I then hit the climbs, and continued to pass people for the next 17kms. Climbing up the steep hills my speed would reduce to as low as 10km/hour in some sections but riding down them I would be able to reach speeds of over 60km/hour. On one particular descent  I was almost run off the road by a truck, and I missed out on gaining the best advantage from the long roller coaster of a descent . 

I was so happy to see the start of the event at the 60km mark and just knuckled into my rhythm to climb for the next 17kms back out again. The farthest I'd ever been before on my bike was 83km. I was riding almost 50% more. But I knew that if I just kept my heart rate in cardio, I would be able to have some legs after the 120km of the bike, to run 20km even on this cresty course.
I hit the flat and did my best to spot riders in front of me and ride past them. I soon made it to the turn around and started my final straight back. I switched to a bigger gear and tried to ride at 34km an hour for the next 13kms. At the end of the straight I caught a group of people , grabbed some dextro hydration mix, as I was out of Sustain and Hydralytes and started the last of the 17kms of climbing. I realised I was heavy from the extra litre of hydration added to my bike, so I tipped out half of it and rode up over the 17kms of crests back to Bateman's Bay.

I descended the last hill and dismounted my bike and ran into the transition area. I covered the 120km in 4 hours and 17 minutes. Averaging 28kms per hour. I was stoked with my time, as it was a tough course , even the leaders had to resort to using a low gear to conquer some the climbs. I hung up my bike, threw off my helmet, sunglasses, and cleats and put on my Inov8 f-lite 230, inov8 cap, grabbed my nutritional pack full of hydralytes and Gu Roctanes and started to run. I felt great, unleashed. I bounded out to the transition and started my 20km run. I felt great, my shoes were awesome, the Inov8 f-lites 230 were nice and light and I was flying. I was bounding past all my competitors. The first kilometre was 4:07, my 2nd was 4:27, 3rd 4:30, 4th 4:44, 5th 5:10, 6th 4:49, 7th 4:55,  then my battery on my Garmin ran out and I was lost. I had no way of telling how fast I was going. I was not even wearing a back up watch. I spotted Mikey my husband and he said I was flying. I was passing people all the time and I felt great. 

I ran around the Start Finish Line and proceeded to start my second lap. I must have slowed down too much and my digestive system started to kick in. 3kms later the cramps were unbearable and I started to loose the spring in my legs. I ran across the bridge and spotted a SES volunteer. "Is that a public toilet?" I asked almost pleading. "Yes, I think it could not have come soon enough" He replied, almost laughing at me. I ran into the toilet and dressed my Tri suit and relieved myself. Never before in a race have I ever had such gut issues. I am blaming the French meal Mikey suggested we have the night before. I ate too much protein and not enough basic carbs. What made it worse was that the meal was a tomato based broth, the acid from the tomatoes must be mixing with the lactic acid from my exercise and I then have been adding a acidic tasting dextro energy drink on top. My gut was in agony.
I got out of the toilet in quick time, and I continued to run down competitors in front of me. It is a tough run the 20km after a 120km bike and 2km swim. No hills, or descents just straight flat footpath. But is is boring and I needed to set myself a heart rate goal. I felt sick, and my cramps kept coming in waves, so I could not push too hard in fear that I would lose my guts. My watch had lost it battery and I ended up just cruising the final 7km back to the finish. I still caught people right up to the finishing line, and I finished in 1:42 including transition. It was to a good time, and I will have to do more brick sessions to improve this.
I spotted Mikey and I gave him my medal and towel, and headed straight to the port -a -loos. My gut was in a bad way. How was I going to drive back to Sydney. After I had finished in the toilet, I grabbed my bike and things and walked back to the car, got changed, I went to the toilet yet again then proceeded onto buying some hot chips and strawberry milk. I ate the hot chips slowly whilst I drove Mikey back to Sydney. I may as well practice my concentration, I was going to have to concentrate for 12 hours for the North Face 100km in a few weeks time, so the drive was a nice way to train my brain.
My gut was screwed, I informed Mikey that I was going to need a toilet before we get back to Sydney. To cut a long story short , my gut was shocking for the next day and it took me so much longer to recover. I gave my all on the bike, I but I need to get all three disciplines right to move up the field. I managed a 20th place out of 44 women and 4th in my Category. It took my 6 hours and 50 minutes. It is only my second tri, and I love competing in them because they have helped me stay nice and lean throughout summer. I am injury free, no hamstring strains, no stress fractures, no ITB band or hip issues. I really have to put it down the the cross training that I have been doing across the swim, bike and run. I think completing in the Triathlons will help me be a better trail runner, it just works my cardio so hard and it challenges me mentally. I start at the back of the pack and I have to ride or run everyone down.