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.