The Equiliser‏ – Sydney Striders

After running 21km the day before my plan was to use the Equiliser as a training run last Sunday. We all know how good I am at slowing myself down, not!! ha ha That was the plan.

So again I got up super early and promised myself that I would get a sleep-in at least one day next weekend. I threw on my gear and shoes and headed for Belrose via Haymarket to pick up another fellow Strider who needed a lift.

When we got to Belrose it was still dark but there were plenty of runners already lined up and ready to go. A group of slower runners were starting at 6.30am, but the actual start was set for 7.00am. So I threw down a gel as I’d only scoffed down a banana when I got up and got a bit of water into me. YOu have to be careful not to have too much or you’ll end up needing the bathroom.

I saw lots of people I knew and felt comforted that I wan’t such a newbie anymore. I had my Striders singlet on and I felt like part of a wonderful group of people. We runners are such a crazy bunch, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

The course was manly fire trail and a small section on the road. I wore my Nike Wildhorse to gives the Salomon shoes a break and because I didn’t think it would be much technical trail today.

It was a beautiful run through the national park and I saw lots of familiar faces at the water stations and on the course running. Emma ran the first section with me and then I let her get ahead as she’s faster than me usually.

For some reason it always takes me at least 7-8km to warm up, so I was pretty slow up until that point and then I decided to have a crack. I started moving very quickly down the hills, and at one point I went flying past a lady and man who had overtaken me earlier and they mentioned how fast I was going. They also mentioned that they would bring a stretcher so I must have been going at some good pace. I felt really confident that day and I’m scared sometimes at how fast I move downhill, but I think it’s one of my strengths, especially on fire trails where there is a little less risk than single track.

I caught up to Caroline Yarnell who was one of the ladies that I did the relay with a few months back and I went flying past her. She’s a gun for her age and I don’t think you’d veer want to get in her way! I almost caught up to Jo Cowan too, she is one quick lady!

We were getting closer to the finish line and I could see Emma ahead on=f me on one of the last hills. I’m not sure if she knew I was there but she stopped and started to walk so I thought I’d give it to her, I yelled out “Come on Em, you can do it”. She was alarmed that I had caught her walking and began running immediately. It’s funny how a little encouragement can get your butt moving! ha ha Go Em!

We got to the finish line in 1hr 26 minutes, I was pretty happy with that as I had pushed myself a little but not over the top. I felt good, strong and ready for whatever came next.

Happy Running! 😀

Buffalo Creek Reserve

A group of us organised an unofficial Striders 6Ft training run at the Buffalo Creek Reserve in North Ryde last Saturday, as there was no official run set for this weekend aside from a 14km race with the Striders on Sunday (which wasn’t quite long enough for some of us). So we rocked up to the park ready to run at sunrise which was 6.30am.

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Today we had 8 victims running through the trails in the area and we were lucky to have Alex along as he knew the area well. It was such an enjoyable run and we really had a lot of fun.

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The morning was quite cloudy and cool which was a nice change from some of the hot and humid runs that we have had in the past couple of months. We ran through some swamps and single tracks and boardwalks. We had a bit of everything on this run.

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We even cut across a construction site that was block our path.

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There were a couple of road sections that took us to the next trail, so I was very thankful that Alex led us because I never would have found this course without him.

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There were a few small bridges to cross and the water was very calm in all places we stopped to look. It was a beautiful area.

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We even had to rock climb around one section of the track and use some metal prongs haning out of the rock to hold ourselves up. Here’s a shot of the group about to climb across the wall. You also had to duck quite low while climbing across and unfortunately I whacked my head quite hard when I was too busy trying not to slip and fall into the water below.

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We ran across part of a golf course, for about a kilometer and I think we surprised the golfers who stopped to let us pass.

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There was a beautiful little running waterfall that we ran past, nothing like Wentworth falls but pretty nonetheless.

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We did an extra loop section at one point and the trail was covered with a few fallen trees, but we didn’t let that stop us.

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After a few final boardwalks we hit the road and ran down the last section back to our starting point. I was very thankful to be back but I had a very enjoyable run.

I had worn my new Salomon vest today which fit like a glove right from the first step, so I was very pleased with that as I planned to use it for the Northface100.

I was also trialing Tailwind Nutrition for the first time, a mixture you add to your water which replaces all other fuels. I must say my energy levels felt very consistent throughout the run and I will be testing it again on some longer runs after the 6Ft track marathon. Only 2 weeks to go!!

Happy Running 🙂

The Hornsby ‘Hurricane’ STaR

The alarm went off at 4.00am last Sunday and I sleepily went for the snooze button until I remembered today’s alarm did not have a ‘snooze’ option and I had to get myself out of bed now! I felt very sluggish and sleepy but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I got a banana and a coffee into me and got ready to hit the road. I left a little bit later than I wanted to as I was struggling to get going, but I knew I had a bit of time up my sleeve, as I kind of new this might happen.

It has become regular practice for me to get up earlier on the weekends than during my work week and i very much look forward to a sleep in for a least 1 day on the weekend over the next couple of weeks. 

I had an hours drive to get to Hornsby and I always leave a bit early in case I get lost and also so that I can make a toilet stop before I get there, as most of our start locations don’t have amenities.  I got to the park about 5.40am and was happy to see a lot of familiar faces from our 6 foot training group, plus a friend of mine Simon who had recently joined the Striders too and I’d seen him a few weeks back at their 10km race in Homebush.

Sunday’s run was organised by a lady called Dale from the Sydney Striders and her trail was named the Hornsby Hurricane. She had maps for us all to use and also had been out on the track the night before pinning arrows to the course so we knew where to go.

The first section of the run was about 5km of road running until we hit the national park and I must say I did not enjoy it one bit. They had set off super fast, much faster than I would run on the road normally plus I was already running on tired legs. I did my best to keep up with them until we hit the national park and then there was a huge concrete descent which slowed me down as my knees were doing it tough.

I got to the bottom of the hill and the group had gathered near a toilet block for some last minute pit stops. A few minutes later we headed over a grassed section towards the start of the trail section which was quite narrow and very technical in some spots. I let quite a few people go past me as I knew that I needed to take it slow and easy today, it was all about getting time on my feet and not pace today. So I settled in at the back of the group and took my time.

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We tran along next to the creek for a while with glimpses of the water to our right. There were some beautiful little spots on the course and it was very pretty with the fog which also made it nice and cool for the run.

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There were some very steep, technical sections on the course and because of all the rain it was very slippery. I ran a lot of the first half of this course by myself. I think it took me a while to warm up but even tually I caught up to the lovely Leonor who I have mentioned in my posts before. And I ran the second half of the course with her.

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Some of these sections you could easily get lost or turn the wrong way but luckily I didn’t get lost this week. And I had a backup map if needed.

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Here’s Leonor showing me how to climb this steep section, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Never seen anything like this before so we had to stop for photos. More like rock climbing than tail running, though i’m sure rock climbers have a lot less to hand onto than we did.

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The rest of the course was tough, physically and mentally. I felt very sluggish and sleepy and the muscles were feeling it from the day before. I’m lucky I ended up running with 3 lovely ladies who helped keep me on track and focused on doing the full course. I honestly would have turned back a lot sooner than I did if they were not around.

We ran the last road section which was nasty. Very nasty. An extra loop that took us on the road again and was an out and back section. But we did it, we kept running in the pouring rain and we didn’t stop till we got back to see Dale’s smiling face and some snacks she had saved for us. Unfortunately there were no snags left as the crew before us had demolished them.

I might add that Dale told us we were the only group to do the extra lap at the end and so we decided to call ourselves the Dream Team. So here’s our Dream Team celebrating the finish.

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A few moment after this shot I found a leech on my shoes, thank goodness it hadn’t found my skin yet, those creepies are disgusting!!

Stay strong, believe in yourself and happy running!!

RunningWild at Wentworth Falls

Yesterday we were lucky enough to run 16km at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains and it was one of the most spectacular courses I have had the pleasure of running on, even if it was pouring with rain the whole time!

Wave 1 were the first group to go and they lined up before us ready to run. We even had Brendan Davies competing who had won The NorthFace last year, a very skilled runner.

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And here’s a shot of me, Rach, Emily & Kate, representing Sydney Harbour Runners waiting for our wave to start.

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The first section of the course was down a trail, some slippery boards and very muddy patches as it had rained lightly for most of the night. It was a very green spot and there seemed like a lot of hills at the start, though mostly down (always worrying, ha ha).

We broke out of the greenery at one point and the view took your breath away….. the fog was eerily covering some of the mountains and about 30 seconds after this shot below you couldn’t see the mountains at all. We timed it well.

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There was a lock of single track and stairs and running along the edge of mountains, very slippery. I had actually worn my new Salomon Speedcross 3’s to give them a go on the short course, I thought with the weather conditions they’d be a good test and they did not let me down. They fit so comfy from the moment I put them on and they held up great through the different and slippery trails that laid before us.

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I remember having to concentrate a lot on this run as there were lots of trip hazards and puddles and everything was slippery. But when you did remember to look up it really was quite amazing.

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Below is one of the driest sections of the course. It looked so different in comparison to the rest of the very green rainforest that we ran through for most of the trail, such a vast comparison.

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And this next section was one of my favourites. We crossed the water going over the waterfall and got to climb back up the mountain next to the beautiful sounds of the running water. If you look carefully you can see runners on the left. How magical is this!?!?

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I had to slow myself down a few times during this run as it was a training run and I was meant to be taking it easy. And i’m so glad I did because it meant I got to enjoy the area we were running. I just love running up here in the blue mountains, every time I do it takes my breath away.

Kate and I came to a lovely fast downhill section with some stairs and we started leaping through the air! We felt like kids again and laughed our way down that section. What a blast!!

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This was such a great course!! Breathtaking views, stunning trails and very technical in parts so good practise at all types of terrain. At one point I even lost my foot under the mud, gross! ha ha I highly recommend getting your butt out of bed even when it’s wet as it was more than worth the effort.

It got very cold straight after the race too, so always pack some dry clothes so you can get changed and warm quickly. Thank you RunningWild for an awesome event!!

And here’s a nice muddy shot of my shoes/legs after the run – dirt rules!!

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Happy Running 😀

Sydney Corporate Cup

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to be a part of my company’s running team for the Corporate Cup held in the Domain every fortnight. It’s a 6km course shaped like a horseshoe around the park, an out and back. They give you a timing chip and you have to run with your team number on the front and back of your shirt. We had been given PwC branded singlets and they were quite comfortable.

You can read more about the Corporate Cup Series here http://www.corporatecup.coolrunning.com.au/

I also ran into 2 of the lovely Sydney Striders ladies who I had done the relay with a couple months back, it was great to see some familiar faces.

So last Wednesday I met up with a couple of the ladies who were also part of this team and we made our way up to the Domain, a park in Sydney’s CBD. Angela has been a part of the team for a while and Sarah had run the course once before, but I had no idea where I was going so thought I’d stick with them so I didn’t get lost.

We started the run and thankfully it was a nice down hill section to start, a good warm up for the legs. It was very humid that day and by the looks of the people coming back up the path towards us it was going to be tough. We got down a bit further on the path and I decided to speed up a bit, there were plenty of people around that I could follow along the course so I wasn’t too worried about getting lost.

Aside from an extra loop near the turn around point I petty much got the course right, and I had done extra not less so I didn’t feel too bad. I didn’t feel like I had cheated as I’d made it harder for myself. And in fact I caught up to one of the ladies I had left behind as she had gone the right way (I think).

I felt pretty good and knew that I was making great pace, but it was so hot. I was sweating a lot and breathing hard in the humidity as the air was very thick.

I swung around the last corner and cranked up a gear for the last up hill section to the finish line, I even over took some people going up that hill. I love to finish strong and today was no different.

Overall it was a great run and I am looking forward to next weeks session.

Happy Running 😀

Sydney Trail Series – Manly Dam

I think I’m still in shock! I looked up the results from this Sundays trail run around Manly Dam and I came 4th in my age group! I can’t even remember the last time I came anything, maybe it was back in primary school when I used to win medals for athletics and netball. As an adult it’s quite humbling, especially for someone as slow as me.

Last Sunday I met up with some friends from the Sydney Harbour Runners group and we chose our start groups for the 10km course option. I decided to hang at the back with Todd, Pras and a few others as I planned to take it easy. After all, I had done 32km the day before and was running on tired legs.

As our group set off I tried to get to the front and stick with Todd and Pras, they are usually much faster than me on the road but I’ve had a lot more trail experience than they have which I thought might work in my favour. So I sat behind Todd for the first few ams, but then the groups in front of us got slow and were walking some of the sections. And because it was so narrow it was really holding us back.

So I took a chance and sped past Todd when I saw a break appear. I wanted to stay in good pace but nothing too uncomfortable. And I wanted to catch Pat. He had started in an earlier group and I really wanted to see if i could catch him.

What happened to my ‘taking it easy’ plan? Good question. And I don’t have an answer for that except that my competitive side won.

And I caught him. When I got to him I stayed on his tail for a while and we chatted. I had thought at that point I might stick it out the rest of the way with him. But that competitive voice in my head won over again and after a km or so I overtook him.

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This race was totally different to the long runs that I have been doing lately and it was great to try and get some speed up on the course. I felt like I was flying down some of the hills and I heard people behind me commenting on how fast I was going past them. I felt really confident and comfortable on the trail. Maybe I will have to stop saying that i’m a beginner trail runner now. Or maybe that will come after 6 foot track in a few weeks….?

So there I was puffing and pushing towards the finish line.

We got to the bridge at the end of the Dam and I felt fantastic. I knew it meant there were only a few more ams to go and only 1 steep, rocky, single-tracked hill.

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I had run this course back in December and loved it, but I had lots more experience now and have learnt that knowing the trails is sometimes half the battle.

The last hill came and I went past many people here. They had either stopped to rest or walk and I just kept moving. Forward, upward, past them. I felt like nothing could stop me. A huge difference to how horrible I had felt on my trail run the day before. I was very grateful.

We rounded the last bend and I heard the crowd so I gunned it. I sprinted to the finish and ended up with a time almost 4 minutes fast than my run back in December. And I now know that I came 4th. How exciting is that!!

I am so grateful for the good running days when everything works and you feel unstoppable. Let’s hope in just over 3 weeks time I feel the same on race day. Fingers crossed.

Happy Running.

Pit stopping

Yesterday I had an extremely uncomfortable run which was the inspiration for the title of this blog. I had to make several unexpected stops during the run and it made it very tough on top of an already tough trail.

Let me start at the beginning. Yesterday at 6.00am I met with our Striders 6ft training group to run the Quarry Road Track in Hornbsy. We had a pretty big turn out and it was a lot darker than usual when we started this morning too. It’s a bit hard to see me but i’m wearing a blue t-shirt and a white cap front row, 2nd from the left.

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Todays coarse was an out and back lap that we planned to do 3 times and which would add up to 39km. It’s a very hilly course and the only flatter section is right at the other end from where we started. Most of this course is fire trail so it’s not very technical, I think looking back it’s more of a mentally challenging course than anything.

So the first section was a whole lot of downhill which when you’re a runner you know can only mean one thing…… what goes down, must come up. And it did, lots of ups and downs but before the first real ups there was a beautiful historic military bridge to cross.

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And the view looking both ways on the bridge wasn’t bad either.

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On my first lap out I ran into some stomach pain and was starting to get desperate for a toilet when we luckily came up to a camping ground with a pit toilet. I’m so glad Maria knew where she was going and told me it was coming up, it was a lifesaver (more than once). And I have never been so happy to see a pit toilet, lol (they are not the nicest of places but when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go). And unfortunately I had to visit this stop a few times during my run as I had an upset stomach for the entire run.

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Here’s my trusty pit toilet in the distance. It was so good to see it and so well placed in between the middle section of the course. And in my tradition of being totally honest in my posts, I did have to visit the bush toilet a few times too. Not pretty, but had to be done.

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So aside from the horrible pain in my stomach, it was hot and getting very hot. I got worried about becoming hydrated and almost pulled out after the first lap. But I hung in there and set out for the second lap. It was nice to be able to see everyone running past and encouraging each other. They really are a lovely bunch of people to run with.

So after a few more pit stops on the second lap, we noticed a sign in the trees on the way back to the start area and that’s when I realised what the banging noises where I had heard in the background all morning!!!!

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I got back to the start area after the second lap and I thought I was done, I felt dizzy and horrible. All the way up the last steep hill I thought “this was it, I couldn’t do another lap. There’s no way”. I had fallen behind my group of runners and was feeling the pain. Then I experienced something I’ve never experienced before….

My legs got me up and started running, even though my head was saying “stop you fool, you can’t do this”. But my body wasn’t listening. My head had no control and the legs kept moving. I felt cramps in my stomach and pain in my legs but I kept moving. I was running so slowly. But I pushed on and when my watch hit the 30km mark I turned around and ran back to the start.

The 30km mark also happened to coincide with the camping area and another pit stop so it was well planned 😉 LOL

So I slowly, trudged my way back to start and felt a little beaten and actually a little better than I had done at the end of the second lap. Okay, maybe not better. I think I felt better because I knew it was over!!

A group of us sat in the shade sharing stories and recovery remedies and talked of upcoming races and training. We waited for a few other who were still out on the trail and i really enjoyed that time.

Although it was one of the most painful runs I have experienced due to the upset stomach, I’m really glad that I hung in there and overcome as much as I did. I was sad not to have done the full 3 laps, but I was also glad to have not given up after lap 1 or 2. Go me!

I haven’t posted a picture of my watch before, but thought you might be interested to see the data. So this screen tells me I ran for 4hrs 31 minutes, did 32.87 km with an average pace of 8’17” and burnt 2383 calories!!

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After fuelling up with water, powerade, bananas and chips, I jumped in my car and headed for home. I had some friends coming over in the afternoon and wanted to fit in a nap before they arrived. Plus I had another run on sunday to prepare for. I will write more on that race soon too. But it’s been an awesome weekend of running!!

Happy Trails 😀