Heading to my happy place

While many of the worlds elite trail runners are taking part in Western States and Chamonix this weekend, i’ll be heading to my happy place in the Blue Mountains for the 25km Woodford to Glenbrook Classic along with many other running friends from SHR and Striders. The course is mostly fire trail and from about 13km onward it is mostly downhill to the finish.

Woodford to Glenbrook - Course profile

I’m really looking forward to this course and only 2 more sleeps!

Happy Running 😀

What’s next?

A lot of people have been asking me “What’ next?” on my running journey and that’s a very good question.

If you’ve read my earlier blog about my TNF100 experience you’ll know that I plan to be back to conquer the course in 2015 so that’s the next big goal, however it has left me wondering “What else” I should do in the meantime. I had spent so much time and energy preparing for that 100km race and waiting 12 months for it to come around again would be painful without some small goals in between. So let’s see shall we…

Maybe I should find another 100km run in Australia that’s within the next 6 months?

Maybe I should do another marathon?

So I started looking back through my running CV (I have an excel spreadsheet, very nerdy) and I thought I might share the following information on the number of races i have done.

Ultra Marathons x 4

Marathons x 1

Half Marathons x 4

Looking at the above it seems i’m a bit lob-sided so my plan is to run another marathon within the next 6 months, now I just need to decide which one….?

Happy Running 🙂

Goals

The Longest Run

This Sunday I will attempt to run my furthest distance yet, a 50km road race as part of the Australian Running Festival in Canberra. I’m getting very nervous about this event, which is probably a good thing, but it’s going to be a great weekend as I am travelling down with the SHR crew and lots of my running mates from the Striders are competing too.

The Ultra Marathon course covers the same course as the marathon, with an extra loop at the end.Below is the elevation chart, which looks much easier than some of the tough climbs that I have done on the trails over the past months, however I know it will be challenging in many other ways (especially that last 10km – ouch!).

Canberra Ultra Marathon Elevation Chart

Originally I was signed up for 10km run on the Saturday, but my training buddies (after much heckling and encouragement) told me to pull up my big girl pants and sign up for the 50km, so I did!! Geez I have rubbery arms!!

The plan for Sunday is use it as a training run for TNF100, as it’s only 6 weeks away now. So i’ll be taking it very slow and easy for the entire run as it’s going to be about getting the time on my feet. I’ve been reading up about the course and the toughest sections are from 20-30km and 40-50km, so about halfway and right at the end, which means that most runners shouldn’t be pushing it too hard to early anyway.

It will be so nice to know that lots of my running friends will be the course that day too and I hope to encounter them all at some stage, even if it’s only at the start line to wish them good luck (Shaun Hardy).

The rest of my week will be spent doing yoga, getting a massage, walking the dog around the block and taking it easy. Tapering is much needed but very hard at time so I just need to keep my mind busy.

Happy Running 😀

Fessing up

I”m not sure if I should be admitting this, but early on Thursday morning I got up and got dressed to go and hit the Honeymoon Trail for a stair session before work. It’s an awesome 1km staircase through the bush in the Royal National Park.

I packed my headtorch as it was still dark and set out in the car. What I failed to remember when I planned this session in my head the night before was….. spiders. I hate them. I’m scared of them and I will avoid them at all costs. So I got out of the car and proceeded towards the steps and did a few warm up exercises. I then started the ascent and went up about 4 stairs before I froze at the sight of a giant, no humongous, hairy spider that was blocking the path. Needless to say I legged it back down the stairs and quickly got back into my car. There was no way I was going up those stairs.

What a wuss!!

I know, I can hear you saying it. But i didn’t let it stop me from training as I drove to the local running track in Sylvania and punched out some intervals instead. Now that I have gotten that off my chest and it is out in open I can start from the beginning….

In preparation for the killer mountains that I am going to face during my races in March and May, I have decided to make stairs my friend. So last Tuesday a work colleague and I set out to run some stairs in Woolloomooloo, Sydney and it was not as hard as I had expected. I”m not sure if this is because we only did a short session or if I am getting stronger. I have been doing some hilly loops around home more frequently than usual so maybe it was helping. So when I got home that night I made a plan to incorporate more stairs into my training, and that’s when the Honeymoon Track came into my mind, and you know how that turned out!! ha ha

Anyway, last night while I was taking  my dog for a walk around the neighborhood I decided to go a slightly different way and I’m very glad that I did because I found a large staircase that will be great for training (and won’t have any spiders). Yay!!

Happy Friday and Happy Running! 😉

Get Lost!

Last Saturday our Sydney Striders crew ran a trail in the Ku-Ring-Gai National Park which was named after one of the group’s runners who created the course, Clare’s Calamity.

We had a huge group of over 40 runners show up for this run which was great to see. And with just 7 weeks until the 6 Foot track Marathon it’s clear everyone was putting in the kms to be as prepared as possible. I can’t believe it’s only 7 weeks away, scary!!

group shot

Andy met us at the start and gave us all a map of the course with some directions on the other side, and it looked like we were running the shape of a butterfly. I stuck the map in my front pocket and hoped that it would stay dry. Must remember next time to bring a plastic sleeve to put the map in!

So we started off down the first section of the course which was fire trail and then hit some single-tracked rocky section down to the water. I could not believe the view with the fog over the water, it was supposed to hit over 40 degrees that day! Check it out!

PICTURE 1

PICTURE 2

We also came past a local toilet block and everybody ducked in for one last pit stop before carrying on the trail. We crossed a bridge and made our way along some beautiful trails along the side of the mountain. It was very narrow and there were a lot of fallen trees to contend with but it was a lovely place to be.

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Here is a shot of my running buddies Lorena and Karen contemplating a river crossing, there were a few tricky spots but we helped each other across.

PICTURE 3

It was really heating up and the humidity meant that I was going through water quicker than normal, so I made a note to slow down a little to make sure i had enough to last the whole 30km trip. I had also put 2 Shotz tablets into my 2 litre hydration flask today, just trialing it to see if it makes a difference. I wanted to put it into a separate, smaller container but I didn’t have one so I guesstimated this measurement. Funnily enough I did notice that I felt better and more consistent for a longer period of time this week, there didn’t seem to be any peaks and troughs so maybe this had something to do with it.

I have put in an order for 500ml soft hydration flask but it hasn’t been delivered yet. I will use this to put 1 tablet with water and have it separate on my runs in future, well that’s the plan.

PICTURE 7

Leonor even decided to have a little rest on the wooden bench that had been provided, ha ha Actually she’s the fittest of us all and we thought it was hilarious that there were benches at every bend of this steep section on the course.

Leonor is running through the Sahara desert in April and is doing the equivalent of a marathon each day for 5 days, how hardcore is that! She’s an inspiration let me tell you. Such a bright, bubbly lady and I got some really good tips from her during the run too. Like the Gurney Goo, stops blisters entirely and is killer stuff.

This course had some really steep, hilly sections and most of them we walked. The view in my next photo below shows a spot that we had just run from, on the top of the other side of the valley.

PICTURE 5

And then we got lost… ha ha. In the photo below you can see a bridge that we stopped at to take photos and this is apparently where we went wrong. Ooops! We went over this bridge when apparently we should not have, and we ran quite a distance after this photo was taken.

PICTURE 6

When we eventually realised that we didn’t know where we were going, we turned back around and headed for the road section we passed a little while earlier. We knew how to get back to the start point from the road so we decided to take the less risky option as we had already been running for over 3 and a half hours.

So just before turning back we decided to have a selfie…. so here’s Karen, Leonor and myself on the right laughing and having a blast. It really was such an enjoyable run sharing the road with them and I hope I didn’t slow them down.

gals shot

So we ran along the road back to the cars and gossiped the whole way. What a hoot! A most enjoyable run and it’s thanks to Karen & Leonor.

Thank you so much ladies and happy running 😀

Find Your Feet Training Camp – Day 3

I woke up feeling only a little tired and kind of sad that I knew it was going to be our last run for the weekend. We had breakfast, checked out and geared up ready for the run.

We met at the bus and headed back to the spot where we had ended our run on Day/Night 1, Furber steps. This time when we got to the bottom we turned right, the guys were a bit ahead of me but I got to take this great shot below.

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This was probably my second favorite run of the weekend. Once we got through all the tress the sky opened up and I stopped for a moment to look around me…. we were basically running on the side of the mountain with nothing around us for miles. It was brown and dusty and a totally different perspective from the views we had seen on the other trails this weekend. It was very tough terrain, and I wish I had taken some time to get a picture of that spot. I made a mental note to return and do this run again, breathtaking!

Julie, Louise and i kept moving and every so often we stopped so Julie could point out landmarks and mountains and just to take in the view. I got a great silhouette shot of the Three Sisters too.

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We followed the side of the mountain for a while and eventually got to the bottom of the Golden stairs, these were going to be hard work. I had been told it was a very steep ascent and the steps were all different sizes, shapes and surfaces, so my plan was so take it slow and keep my breathing steady.

Boy were they tough! I’m a tall girl and even I struggled with the height of some of these steps, so I wasn’t sure how my shorter mates were going to find them. I even had to use the railings to pull myself up at some points. This was seriously tough and i’m thankful this part would be closer to the start of the course on race day.

When I got to the top of the Golden stairs I was lucky to have a few minutes spare to catch my breath while I waited for the other runners. It also gave me some time to take some more pictures.

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When Julie & Louise got to the top we still had some time to kill before we had to be back at the bus, so we decided to head north up the path to our left and run for another 20 minutes before turning around. And I’m glad that we did, the views up the top were magical.

It was all Fire Trail so nothing too technical which meant that we had time to admire this beautiful view. The Blue Mountains truly is a spectacular place to run. I’m so lucky I had been a part of this camp and got to experience this place. We live in such a beautiful world.

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photo-9

We turned around after a short run up the hill and made our way back down towards the bus. Along the way Julie told us about the Trigger Plant, a small pink flower that has a trigger-like arm that snaps forward quickly in response to touch, harmlessly covering the insect in pollen. We found one along the path and used small sticks to get the trigger moving, it was pretty cool stuff and I would make sure that I looked for them again on race day. It could be something that I need to take my mind off the running 😉

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We got back to the bus and did some much needed stretching. I felt sad that our running weekend was coming to an end, but felt so lucky to have had the experience. I thanked Julie for her hours of putting up with my questions and probing, I was very fortunate to have spent so much time with her and I hope she knows how much I appreciated it.

Here’s a shot of Julie, myself and Louise before our bus trip back to showers and lunch.

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I headed for the showers as soon as we got back and then headed to the garden for a snack and a final round up with the crew. We went around the group and shared what we loved/learnt most from the camp and I had trouble picking just one.

I guess the whole camp had made me feel more confident that I can actually run 100km. I’ve now seen some of the course, the hard parts, and through each run, each session and each tip/technique, I now feel like I have the tools to get me to the start and finish line feeling positive (and not shit scared like I was last week, ha ha).

A huge thank you to Hanny, Graham, Simon, Julie & David for all their time, hard work, effort and encouragement throughout the camp. To all the other athletes it was a pleasure to meet you and run with you, as you were a lovely bunch. The camp has been one of the most positive and inspiring things I have ever done and I hope to attend another one very soon.

Happy trail running 😀

Find Your Feet Training Camp – Day 2 – Nutrition / Hydration

After a much needed shower due to the sweaty-but-totally-worth-it trails, I scoffed down some lunch & got my notepad and pen ready to learn all the Nutrition / Hydration tips I could from these experts.

I won’t go into all of the detail here, but there is some really good info on the Find Your Feet website. One of the articles on ‘Fueling for Performance’ you can view here: http://www.findyourfeet.com.au/blog/files/fueling-article-oa.pdf

From now on I will be hydrating with water, Shotz (electrolyte tablets mixed with water) and isotonic gels (as they don’t have too much sugar in them). I will probably be trialling some of the bars too so I will keep you posted.

After the session I had to leg it back to Sydney for a concert with my best mate, Melissa. I had bought us tickets for her birthday (which is next weekend) to see Paramore. Thankfully it was being held at Homebush and not all the way in the city. So after an enjoyable night with Mel I drove myself back up the mountains and tried to get some sleep for tomorrow morning’s run. I knew I was going to feel tired, but it would be the shortest run of the camp so I thought I would be okay.

I got back to our room at 12.45am and crashed……..zzzzzzzzzz