Sunday, March 29, 2009

100km in Less than 18 hours!

Two weeks ago I agreed to be part of a four person team to run/walk 100km in 48 hours in the Melbourne Oxfam Trailwalkers. One of the team members had previously told me that if I could train for the 32km run on King Island than I would get through 100km. My running coach also told me that if I kept my heart rate at 130 bpm, I would be able to get through the distance in 18 hours!

Early Friday morning I met the final member of my team - three tall, strong, fit guys and me! We made our way to the start line and waited for our 8.30am start. The gun went and we were off at a very slow jog. Interestingly we started passing teams in the first 2-3km - obviously some teams had sprinted off running to get ahead of the pack and then commenced their walk!

Start-CP1 - the first section was 12.5km and it took us 1hr 24min, unfortunately I was already starting to feel some blisters forming on my heels!

CP1-CP2 - the next section was an easy 9km in 2hr 4 min obviously there is a HUGE hill here in Lysterfield Park that slowed us down a little! But the view at the top, Trig Point, did offer spectacular 360 degree views of Melbourne. It was around this point that we started catching up with walking teams - that had started 1.5 hours before us! I also taped up my heels to help deal with the blister issues (total=21.5km).

CP2-CP3 a casual 13.3km section which took us 1 hr 33 min. This was also a hilly section the trail climbs up into Belgrave, past the home of Puffing Billy, before heading north through the heavily wooded Sherbrooke Forest trail that leads into Grants Picnic Ground. It was during this section that on some of the steeper parts walkers were overtaking me. I really struggled with being overtaken and to make sure I stuck to my race strategy - keeping heart rate at 130 bpm and not trying to catch and overtake them. Pacing was more important here then beating them to the top of the hill. I just told myself 'they might pass me going up the hill but I will definitely catch them going down the hill and beyond!' (total=34.8km).

CP3-CP4 was 11.7km in 2hr 13 min. I enjoyed overtaking the walking teams and it was interesting hearing the response to the people we were overtaking while we were running when they realised that we had started 1.5 hours later than them! (total=46.5km).

CP4-CP5 - just an easy 8km in 1hr 26 min still mixing our running and walking (total=54.5km).

CP5-CP6 the next section was 8.5km in 1hr 55min (total=63km).

CP6-CP7 - we now started on the Warbuton Rail Trail - long and flat for 13km. It was at this point I wasn't having fun anymore. I spent the whole 13km wondering when we were going to start running again and too nervous to ask in case I had to run more - as it turns out we didn't do any running after this point! It took us 2hr 35 min and it had gotten dark during our walk. I was trailing behind the guys although I wasn't that far behind and I was feeling tired, achy legs and weary. We got into the rest stop and I had a peanut butter sandwich, an ibuprofen, a caffeine tablet, chocolate, Endura drink, put on my skins and warm clothing and I felt fantastic (total=76km).

CP7-CP8 - I am not sure what helped me after that rest stop but I sure got my second wind and in fact I took off walking so fast that I left all the guys behind! Actually Gary ended up doing a little run just to catch up with me! This section was 14.5km and we even managed to pass a number of teams - not bad considering these teams had started at 7am - a full hour and 30 minutes before us!!!! To entertain ourselves we decided to overtake the next team we saw by running! it amused us greatly and spurred us to keep on moving! This next section took us 3 hr 3 min (total=90.5).

CP8-finish - 9.5km in 1hr 53min. This last section was perhaps the most challenging with a really big hill to climb that at one point was so steep we almost had to crawl up on our hands and knees. The boys again took off on the steep mountain trail but they waited for me at the top of the trail. At this point I overtook the guys and basically left them behind. I was walking on this mountain road side in the total darkness just with a head torch to light the way and I was entirely by myself. I actually really enjoyed it, it was kind of surreal, then I hit the really steep section but just kept powering on. I must have been speedy because at one point I heard some scrambling in the bushes - I think I scared a kangaroo who wasn't expecting some chick to be walking past at 2am in the morning! I got to the top of the hill and waited for the guys and then called out 'I'm the king of the world'. As a team we all then travelled down that steep hill and ran across the footy oval to finish 100km in 17 hours and 56 minutes. We were all so happy to be finished. The first thing I did was to take off my shoes and check out my plethora of blisters!!!! (total=100km).

Of the 714 teams registered for the Oxfam Trailwalkers, 18 teams didn't finish, and only 436 teams completed the event with a team of four people - which really puts our teams efforts into perspective. Of the 436 teams of four that finished we placed 34 and of the mixed teams we placed 16/387.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

No Rest for the Wicked!

Last weekend was the first weekend since Christmas that I have not gone for a run. I think that running a 32km race the weekend before means I have earned a little rest break. But strangely enough I actually missed my weekend run! During the week a friend emailed and asked if I would be part of an Oxfam Trailwalkers team. For those of you who haven't heard about it, the Trailwalkers is an event where a team of 4 people have 48hours to travel 100km - and no you can't use your car or bike - its all on foot! My team 'Falloo' are planning to slowly run the flat sections until tired/dark and then walk all the uphills and to finish in about 18 hours!

So today was my one and only training run/walk with two other members of the team. We met at the bottom of the 1000 steps in Ferntree Gully and then travelled all around the country side for 1 hr 50 min. My running coach had advised me that the best way to pace for a 100km event was to keep my heart rate at 130 bpm or below so that was my game plan for today. I did my best to keep my heart rate at 130 but found it hard to slow down when other people on the track easily passed me or my team mates started to move way ahead of me. Yes my competitive drive was pushing me to go faster and on the shorter stuff this is okay but I have to slow down to make sure I can finish the 100km!!

Hmm, so what did I learn today well it is actually quite nice to run slowly and just enjoy the experience. I am usually travelling so fast (well fast for me!) that I don't often take the time to enjoy what's around me - a typical case of focussing on the destination and not making the most of the journey! It will be really important in the 100km to forget all about any sort of speed and just focus on pacing so that the whole team gets there in a relatively good condition.

Run/walk: Time 1h50min, Distance 10km, Location Bush Trails around Ferntree Gully, Temp 21C.
Gmap of run course:Have no idea where we went!

Monday, March 9, 2009

100 Mile Club

On Sunday morning I successfully completed my fifth King Island Imperial 20 race and hence I joined the exclusive 100 mile club (I get my own race number '30'). Just for all of you born after the conversion to metric, 20 'imperial' miles is 32 kilometers. Yes that's right I raced 32km across King Island a point to point race, from the West coast to the East Coast of King Island.

My day started early, catching a bus at 7am to take us from the finish line (in Currie) to the start line (in Naracoopa). I was starting to feel a little bit nervous but also excited I just wanted to get out and run! My starting time was 8:36am, I had carefully calculated out what running pace I needed to sustain to finish in less than 3 hours. My race strategy was to run every kilometer at 5min30sec per kilometer. Unfortunately when I am running long distances my ability to do even simple mathematic calculations (like adding 5min30sec to 5min30sec) becomes non existent and in the end I just decided to run has well as I could without stopping. I felt really good between 10 and 20km - it might have had something to do with the fact that I could see people running ahead of me, which motivated me to keep running well to catch them! I started getting tired at about 2 hours of running but then convinced myself that I had less than an hour to run and I was very capable of doing that! The last section of the run is actually quite hard work - a short but steep hill into town and then a 1km loop around town to finally cross the finish line in 2h 53min 33sec! Once again I managed to finish with my finishing pose - both arms in the air and jumping (I promise to the post the photo when I get it). A really successful run, better than I had planned with an average pace of 5min25sec per kilometer.

So what did I learn from this race? 1) I always want to do better and although improving my previous time by 3 minutes was good, 10 minutes would have been better :) 2) Even when I am hurting I can keep on running 3) Having someone ahead of me that I can try and catch motivates me more than trying to stay in front of someone 4) The reason I keep coming back to this race is because of the fantastic organisation of the whole weekend, my Gunn runner buddies and to try and be that bit quicker - oh yeah and the 1kg bag of King Island Cheese is also very nice!

Race: Time 2h53min, Distance 32km, Location West coast to east Coast, King Island, Temp 22C.
Gmap of run course:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Just do it

This weekend was the last 'long run' before my race in King Island. This meant I only had to run for 10km or about an hour - after all the running I have been doing it really wasn't much to do but I really struggled with the motivation to get out there and run. It took me an hour before I managed to convince myself that I really needed to get out of my apartment and go for a run. Probably the biggest motivator that finally pushed me out the door was the fact that I would regret more NOT running than I would regret going for that run!. And you know it wasn't until I started running that I actually was happy that I did. It reinforced to me that sometimes we all just need to push ourselves to get out there and do something and 99% of the time you will be glad you did!

My other activity for the weekend was the Open Day at Cruden Farm (Dame Elisabeth Murdochs stunning home and gardens in Langwarrin) which was a fundraising effort for my work the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. I volunteered for the afternoon and spoke to people about the steps we all should take to stay heart healthy. One particular woman said to me that she wanted to be more active but was too busy at work. My immediate reply was that her health should be the number one priority and good health would make her a better employee. Even busy at work we can all do at least one thing good for our health - maybe parking further away and walking an extra 10 minutes, going for a 10 minute walk at lunchtime, taking the stairs and not the lift, going to see that colleague and ask a question instead of calling or emailing!

Training run: Time 1h04min, Distance 12km, Location Mentone Beach to Mordialloc Pier and back (plus a bit extra), Temp 22C.
Gmap of run course: