Running Wild Lawson Long Course

I think i’m still in shock!

Yesterday I somehow managed to score my first ever trail running podium and I was so overcome with happiness when I crossed the line that I burst into tears.

Last weekend while I was sitting in the car being chauffeured home from the Six Foot Track Marathon, Maria and I got talking about the Running Wild race in Lawson that was being held the next weekend. I had contemplated entering earlier in the week when I received an email reminder about the race letting me know that registrations were still open, but hadn’t fully committed as I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel a week later. Somehow Maria and I came to the conclusion that it was a good idea for me to enter and before I got home I was registered for the 17km event.

The Monday after Six Foot was tough. My quads and calfs were very, very sore and I was hoping that my massage on Thursday would help alleviate some of that before the race. Thankfully it did and by Saturday my legs were feeling normal again.

I spent Saturday morning taking the walk/run group at the gym where I work and training a few PT clients, then headed into Pyrmont for the Nike Training Club Tour Sydney, a day of fitness and fun. I took it pretty easy as I knew I had a tough run coming the next day.

Sunday I was up at 4.30am and heading to the Blue Mountains. I had convinced my friend Amanda to come and join me for the run too so I was looking forward to seeing her. We are both doing UTA100 in May so we have been trying to schedule some weekend runs together and this would be the first! (ha ha)

I parked at the Lawson Bowling Club and headed down the (hilly) road to the start/finish area and collected my bib. There weren’t many familiar faces but a few people said hi and asked me about 6 foot (I wore my race t-shirt). My plan was to take the race pretty easy as I knew my body would still be recovering so this was to be my long, slow run for the week.

Amanda and her friend Vicki arrived and we chatted as we waited for the race to start.

There were 2 distances being run on the same course at the same time, so the 17km (long) option were doing 2 laps of the course, and the shorter course was just 1 lap of the trail. We eventually started and the pack seemed to be very slow moving. I had planned to stick with Amanda for the first section of the trail, but as I started to overtake people I noticed that she wasn’t behind me anymore. I didn’t think i was going that fast but maybe she was still recovering from her run at 6 foot the week before, or perhaps she had decided to run with Vicki. I hoped that she wouldn’t be upset I had abandoned her as it was not intentional.

There are thousands of thoughts that go through my mind while running, sometimes they are run-related and sometimes that are not.

The first out and back section was short and brought us back past the start area where we made a left turn onto an uphill section, we would have to do this section 3 times. Most of this course was fire trail so it was quite wide and meant for easy passing, which I seemed to be doing without too much effort. I noticed that I still felt cold as we went up the first incline, my hands were freezing so I decided to keep running up the first hill so I could try and warm up. Normally I would have walked a hill that steep but I was feeling pretty good and was keen to get warm.

The trail was very rocky and I was thankful for my new Brooks Adrenaline ASR shoes, today was the first time I had worn them on trails as I was breaking them in and they felt really good. There were lots of ups and downs and I worked hard to overtake several people on the down sections as this seems to be my strength.

We passed through a gate and headed down another steep hill as I shuffled my feet in small, quick steps moving fast and calculated. My left eye kept watering which blurred my vision a little and make it tricky, but I didn’t let that bother me.

Eventually (after another short uphill section & a spot for a photo) we got to the turnaround point and I saw my friend Luke who is a volunteer for the Running Wild Club and he cheered me on. I made a mental note to grab food there when I came past next as I knew i’d be out of my drink by then. I was carrying a 600ml soft flask with Tailwind (grape) and it was already over half empty. I had started the race with a grumbly belly (even though I had eaten breakfast before I left home and had also eaten a banana as I walked from my car to the start line) so I had been trying to get the liquids in for my body to use during the race.

We passed back down the steep hill and along the trail seeing many runners coming the other way. I cheered them on and chatted to a few others near me too, it always helps make the time fly past.

As we went through the gates we were directed down a trail to the right and it was a beautiful downhill single track section, my favourite! I raced down there to try and make up some time and really enjoyed this section. I was already  looking forward to doing it again on the second lap!

The single track ended and we were back near the start area and heading off up to the original out and back section. I saw many of the front runner as they motored back towards me and noticed that there were lots of females breathing down my tail. Little did I know that these ladies were all doing the short course and there run was almost over as they were only doing the 1 lap.

I got to the turnaround and headed back trying to keep up a descent pace on this flat section. My friend Kathy caught up to me and we chatted about Mile 27 and our coach Andy. I learned she was only doing the 1 lap as she was taking it easy and it got me thinking about how many other runners were almost done too, or were they speeding up trying to catch me too?

She motored off towards the finish line and I pulled up my socks for another lap of the course. I hit the steep first hill again and this time I power walked up that section. I kept trying to maintain a comfortable breathing pattern and staying positive. It was about this time that I met Dave and we chatted about 6 foot which he had also done the week before (and had beaten me by 10 minutes, ha ha). I ran with him for a while but he kept pulling ahead of me on the flats and the uphill. My plan was to try and stick with him as long as i could, so i kept him in my sights and caught up to him a few times on the downhills.

I got to the turnaround point and I had been pushing it a bit harder than the first lap so was starting to feel a little tired. I grabbed a piece of banana and scoffed it down as Luke cheered me off down the hill again. It was the last leg.

There was a lot of downhill here and I managed to catch up to Dave again so we chatted some more. I had been cheering on the runners coming in the other direction and if I was correct there were only 3 ladies in front of me, could that be right? Oh well, surely I was wrong and I should just stick to my race plan and enjoy the trails.

And then I saw the photo man again who confirmed it for me, he told me I was in 3rd place (but I knew he meant 4th place, surely I could not be 3rd!). How the hell did that happen?

And then the brain started ticking over….. would it be possible to get a podium? If i pushed it here and caught up to that lady I could see ahead would I be in 3rd place? Was it possible? Should I go for it?

I told Dave about my debacle and he made the call for me. He was going to help me get 3rd! (I owe him big time for that, thanks again Dave!). I told him I’d be happy with Top 5 but he said ‘screw that we are getting you 3rd place!’

And with that Dave motored me up the hills and told me that I would catch her on the downhills as she was slow and cautious going down. He was so encouraging and positive and his winning attitude seemed to rub off on me. The lady in front seemed to be pulling away from me on the hills but we had a lot of downhill coming and I hoped it would be her weakness (sorry Ros).

We passed through the gates and Dave cheered me on to “go for it”, so I turned right onto my favourite single track section and (with a hidden smile on my face) gave it my all as I headed down the trail and motored past the lady in front as she slowly clambered down the rocks. I felt like I was flying! I was now in 3rd place – far out! Really?!?!

Now there was the pressure of thinking about her creeping up behind me trying to catch up. I kept telling myself that she was closing in, that I could hear her breathing down my neck and it kept me pushing all the way down to the bottom of the track and also as i climbed back up the final stairs. At the end of the single track I turned right and just had the original out and back section to conquer.

I took a quick glance behind me to see if I could spot the other lady and she was nowhere to be seen. Could this be possible? Keep your head down Hailey, it’s not over yet. I knew I had about 1km to go so I tried to find another gear to increase the gap so she wouldn’t come flying past me on the last section, but I also wanted to leave something in the tank in case I needed to make a sprint finish. God this was stressful, but so exciting!

I’ve never felt anything like it.

We got to the turnaround and I anxiously kept an eye out for the lady runner behind me. Eventually I saw her and she wasn’t that far behind. She was smaller than me so probably much quicker on the flat sections so I had to keep up my pace and finish strong.

The trail went up and down and around and eventually I could see the finish line, this was it. I was going to do it. Oh my god!

I crossed the line and a lady walked over to me holding a wine glass and a voucher, she congratulated me and told me that i was the 2nd female. 2nd female! Was that right? Surely she was wrong. I burst into tears and bent forward as I tried to catch my breath and let my legs rest. She asked me if something was wrong and I told her it was my first podium, then she gave me a big hug and congratulated me again. Her name was Annie and she told me to go get a drink, some food and then come back for a photo.

As I wiped my tears I saw Dave crossing the finish line and I made my way over to thank him for pushing me and helping me so much, what a great guy. Trail runners really are a whole different breed of awesome humans!

After some food and water I walked bak over to Anne and we got a photo together. I think I was still in shock at the result, but you could not wipe the smile off my face! 😀

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I chatted to some other friends Stephane, and Jill and then I found the ladies who had come 1st and 3rd and congratulated them on their race. They were both super friendly and really nice, genuine people. Below is a photo of us, there’s Ros (3rd) on the left, Alicia (1st)in the middle, and me (2nd) on the right.

I’m so glad i got to meet these 2 ladies, they were so kind and I wish them both congratulations again 🙂

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A big thank you to all of the volunteers and organisers at the Running Wild event. They do an amazing job and it really is the quality people who bring it all together so well. Thank you for such a well organised and well supported event. I’ll be back for Series 7, see you then!

😀 😀 Happy Running 😀 😀

Careflight Woodford to Glenbrook 2015

It’s been a long while since my last running blog and there’s a very good reason, I took a break. After 18 months of training for the 2014 TNF100, getting injured, recovering, running Oxfam 100, then more training for the 2015 TNF100, I figured I should really give my body a well earned break. So I have spent the past 4-5 weeks enjoying no set training schedule and catching up with friends and family. There have been only 2 occasions that I have run during that time and both were for less than 7km each (and only as I had to take a run group for work, a great crew to run with). However I have done some cycling and some swimming to keep up a little cardio, but again they were not of a high intensity so i’m not sure they count.

After such a long break I was a little nervous going into Sundays race, a 24km trail run in the beautiful blue mountains, but I knew the course (which was all downhill after the 12km mark) as I had run it last year for the first time and managed a half marathon PB back then.

So Sunday morning I met Maria (my most awesome running buddy) at her place for 6:45am, then we picked up Fran and were on our way to the mountains to park at the finish line where we met Liz & Nigel who were transporting us to the start line (thank you so much guys!). Thankfully it wasn’t as cold as last year, but this also meant that I was dressed inappropriately as I probably should not have worn my long thermal tights. Oh well – too late now.

I ditched the gloves and the arm warmers and we got ready at the start line. Maria and I had decided to take it easy today as we both had done little to no training, but I knew she would probably kick my butt. Here’s a shot of a few of us goofing around at the start (below).

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We saw some others Sydney Striders and had a photo with the group before the gun went off and we were running up the first hill under sunny blue skies. We chatted and wished each other well for the run and Maria and I stuck together as the gun went off.

There were lots of ups and downs but nothing like some of the mountains I have run in the past, so I tried to run most of them or at least power walk up the ones that I walked. I felt great. I was slamming it down the hills and the body was feeling fantastic. I was so happy to be back out running on the trails and felt lucky to be there. I pushed myself a little more at the start than I probably should, but I knew the second half of the course would be a lot easier as it was a gradual decline to the finish after the 13km mark.

I realised early on that my Garmin was still set to Bike mode which was a bit annoying, but after both Maria and I trying to change it and failing I gave up. I left it on bike mode and relaxed back into my run feeling great. Somehow I managed to lose Maria when I was going downhill but she caught up to me again further along and I was happy to see her face. My right knee had started to hurt a few kms back. I had feared that it might flare up again after little to no running or strength work over the past couple of weeks, and I don’t think it had fully recovered since TNF.

From here the pain got progressively worse and I slowed my pace and added some walking (with lunging strides) to release some of the pain, but it didn’t get much better. I decided not to push myself and cause further injury and cruised home in the slowest possible speed to try and avoid making it worse.

I got passed by just about everybody, which wasn’t much fun. But I was still happy and kept smiling and chatting to the other runners as they came past. Some of them even stopped to see if I was okay. Trail runners are the nicest people 🙂

The last 4km seemed to go on forever and I was relieved to see the finish area when I eventually reached the Euroka clearing. There was a nice long downhill & an older lady in a hot pink top that I could not let beat me, so I blasted down that hill (with a lot of knee pain) and sprinted up the final hill to the finish line. I was so glad it was over so I could sit down and rest the knee.

I found our crew and we all chatted about our run and picked a lunch venue for celebrations (yes, there’s always something to celebrate). We ended up the Ori Cafe which is at the Oriental Hotel in Springwood and the meals were fantastic, I highly recommend that place if you’re ever up in the area.

My run didn’t go that great, but sometimes they don’t. It’s reminded me how important strength work is and that you really should not attempt a run of that distance with no training. Looks like some more rest and strength work is needed then i’ll be back into it again soon.

Stay tuned & happy running 😀

Redemption at The North Face 100

Like most of my race reports this is a long one, so grab a cuppa and get comfortable while I take you on a ride through the 2015 North Face 100.

On the Friday before race day I picked up my running buddy Maria and we made our way up to Katoomba in my little Toyota Yaris. I wish I had taken a photo of the boot of my car as it was chockers with gear for the run. We looked like we were going away for a week!!

When we got to Katoomba we did a grocery shop and the amount of food that we bought could probably have fed a small army. It’s quite hard to know what sort of food you’re going to feel like eating when you’re out on the trail for such a long period of time, so you always end up taking more than you actually need. And we only ‘just’ fit the shopping bags it into the boot with our gear, ha ha

We then checked into the 3 Explorers Hotel which was old but very comfortable and cosy, as it had a working heater and electric blankets. Maria and I carted our gear up to the room on the first floor (and spoke of how much we would hate these stairs on Sunday, ha ha) and got our gear ready for race day. My sister (Shelley) who had generously put her hand up to be our support crew (for a second time) would arrive on race morning to drive us to the start line.

My training in the lead up to this race had fallen (very) short of the kms I would like to have run, but a few small niggles had held me back along with starting my own business and not having the time to fit in as much training as I would have liked. I had spoken to my coach Damon about these issues in the weeks leading up to the race and to be brutally honest we thought that perhaps I should drop back to the 50km event, which I almost did. But my stubborn Taurean nature kicked in and I decided to lower my expectations for the race, so instead of aiming for a time my goal of 18 hrs that Maria and I had previously spoke of, instead I would be just aiming to finish the race. This decision meant that perhaps Maria and I would not end up running the course together because I did not want to hold her back from her goal, especially when she had been running up a storm and smashing her running goals lately!

So Maria packed her drop bags in case we did not end up running together and then we caught up with our good friend Emma who was staying at the same hotel. I helped Emma with her drop bags too, as she was missing her ultra buddy Dominic (our team mates from Oxfam last year), and we all jumped in my car and headed to Registration near Scenic World. Both Emma and Maria had never run this race before and were very nervous, okay I was very nervous too but I was just trying not to thin k about it!!

We had a fun time at rego and saw lots of our running mates, it seemed everywhere you turned there was someone that one of us knew. I saw friends who were doing the 50km for the first time, a friend Todd from High School, some friends from old workplaces and other running friends I had met on the trails over the past couple of years. The excitement and buzz in the room was electric!

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For some reason it didn’t feel quite real to me yet, that I was actually going to attempt this run again and I think I had been in denial about it all for the past week. Last year I got injured on Nellie’s Glen (halfway) and I pushed on for a long while, but eventually made the tough decision to pull out at 78kms or risk further injury, I was devastated. I had trained so hard for the run and felt more ready than ever to finish, but (like life) sometimes your run does not go to plan.

This year I was going to be rocking up to the start line with a race plan that i’d prepared the day before (last year I worked on it for weeks!!) and with no expectations, just the goal of crossing that finish line. My race plan is a document that I give to my support crew which has goal times and items needed for each checkpoint, and is usually 4-5 pages long but that’s because it also includes directions and maps to each of the checkpoints.

Now where was I? After a lovely welcome from the local Aborigines from the area, and some funny antics and information provided by the race director and the safety crew, we left rego quite late and headed back to our hotel for some much needed sleep. Setting and checking the alarm had been set a few times before our heads hit the pillow.

Our synchronised iPhone alarms went off at 5.00am, so we got up and prepared ourselves for race day. I had some breakfast (banana, muffin and a coffee) then dressed for the start. Shelley (support crew and sister) arrived at the hotel on time as planned and drove myself, Maria and Emma to the start line. Emma was starting in the wave before us so we let her out of the car close to the start line and then parked the car.

We made our way nervously to the start line and wished many friends well along the way. As we walked up I managed to see Andrew (a friend from my gym) and several of my Sydney Striders mates as they set off in the earlier wave. It was starting to feel real and I could not stay in denial mode for much longer.

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Maria and I chatted to Leah and Liz and slowly made our way to the start area where all too soon the gun went off and we were running!!

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

Start 6.40am at Scenic World (10.5km to CP1) 

The first section of the course is road and includes a few hills, it’s also an out and back which I like in this race because you get to see your mates running back towards you and wish them well for one last time before hitting the trails. It’s also nice to run back past the start/finish area and be cheered on by all of the many supporters, including my wonderful sister, as we would not see them again until we hit CP3 at 46kms.

After the road section you head down Furber step and then head right towards the Landslide and the Golden Stairs, before heading up to Narrowneck. Just after Furber steps somebody had managed to fall and was being taken care of by some other runners, and as I approached them I also slipped and managed to land on my (well padded) butt, cut my hands up a little, and ripped a hole in my tights! But thankfully I was not hurt and I’d chosen to wear black undies that day!! 😉

This section was lots of fun and we chatted to many runners through the different terrain. It felt cooler than last year and there was some cloud cover, and I hoped it would not rain. A man playing music and wearing a fluorescent vest (already) went past us up the hill, so we chatted to him and many others who were all in high spirits at this point.

CP1 at Narrowneck (20.5 to CP2) ETA 8.25am 

Maria and I arrived at CP1 10 minutes ahead of schedule (8.15am) and it was nice to know we had a bit of a buffer up our sleeves, even if only a small one. We both had a quick toilet stop, I grabbed a band aid for my finger as it had been bleeding since my little stack earlier on, and then we got back out onto the trail.

This section had some magnificent views as we run at one of the highest points on the course, however I did not stop to take any photos this year as I wanted to keep my momentum going.

Maria and I enjoyed running together and were keeping the same pace, much to my surprise as I thought she would be much speedier than me on race day (but that came later, ha ha).

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

We took in the views and eventually got to Tarros Ladders to find a short queue and we waited for our turn. If you have read my blogs before you will know that I do not like heights, so I was a little nervous about climbing down these ladders strapped to the side of the cliff. Okay, I was VERY nervous about it!

It came my turn to climb down the ladders (after I let MAria go first) and I tried to calm my breathing and my nerves. And I was doing really well until I got to about halfway and had to walk the narrow ‘plank’ to the next ladder, which meant that I looked down and freaked out. I lost control of my breathing and water started coming out of my eyes, but I just kept saying to myself “One step at a time, keep moving and you’ll get there”. Eventually I got to the bottom, after some much needed encouragement from Maria who was counting the steps for me to let me know how far until it would be over. And when i got to the bottom Maria gave me a big hug and we carried on our way down the mountain.

CP2 at Dunphys Camp (15km to CP3) ETA 12.00pm

We got into Dunphys Camp at 11.10am which was 50 mins before our scheduled arrival time of midday. Woohoo!! We got some food, filled up our water and queued for the toilet. We spent a little too much time here queued for the toilet, but I did not want to have to go in the bush later down the trail.

After a quick chat with our friend Paul we left Dunphys Camp and headed for the next landmark, the Ironpot Mountain. Most of this section of the course is on Private Property so not very many people get to train on this section of the course.

There is a very steep hill section up to the top of the Ironpot Mountain and Maria is much better on the hills than me due to her smaller frame. My goal for this early stage in the race had been to just stick with her for as long as I could and so far it had been going to plan, but I feared she would move ahead of me soon.

Partway along the ridge Maria got ahead of me and I got stuck behind some runners. On top of the ridge there is an out and back section again, so you get to see many other runners coming back towards you and wish them well. I really like this and just about every runner gives you a smile and wishes you well. The camaraderie out on the trails is amazing.

On top of the ridge there was a gentleman playing a didgeridoo, the same gentleman who had welcomed up at the registration the night before. I didn’t stop to listen like last year, but I thanked him (both times I went past) and continued up to the turn around point hoping I would catch up to Maria again soon.

After the turn around point I eventually caught up to Maria and we headed down the slippery section off the Mountain and into the beautiful fields that greeted us at the bottom. Then it was onto some fire trail and up a large windy driveway which met the start of the Megalong Road. It’s a tough, continuous slog up that hill and every bend reveals another incline. So you just keep moving and pushing and praying it will end soon.

We got to the top and Maria started to run, I needed a minute to breath (or so my head was telling me) so I walked for a little while at the top before gathering myself and catching up to her again promising myself not to lose her yet.

Just before the checkpoint there was a professional photographer and we got some great shots (below).

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

CP3 at The Six Foot Track (11km to CP4) ETA 2.40pm

We arrived at CP3 at 1:48pm which was again 50 mins before our scheduled time and we could not locate my sister who was set to meet us there. I gave her a quick call and she was shocked to hear we had already arrived! She was just leaving the car and she sprinted up to meet us with food and clothing while we filled the water up in our packs.

My awesome trail running buddy Sarah-Jane was the first person I saw coming into the checkpoint and I have to thank her for the photo below. It was great to see a familiar face and seeing all the support crews waiting and cheering us into the checkpoint was such a lift!

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I changed into some warmer clothes and we chatted nervously to my sister who was so happy that we were progressing as well as we were. She told us we looked fresh and gave us a big hug before we headed out onto the trail again.

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We left the checkpoint after a 14 minute stop (longer than planned) but felt much better to be in warmer clothes. Maria and I both knew the next section of the course very well as it traveled along the Six Foot track, a trail we had raced and run many times. So we knew the joys of the HUGE stairs that awaited us at the foot of Nellie’s Glen.

Maria was looking strong and I was starting to fade a little. We ran together for a while and we collected and chatted to a lovely lady called Ellen who was from the Mountains (Glenbrook I think). Eventually we got ahead of Ellen and then I also had to let Maria go ahead of me. My head was telling me to walk (stupid brain). I was angry with myself for walking these flatish sections, but felt I needed the break to prepare myself for the 900+ muddy, uneven stairs that were coming up.

I ended up power walking with a gentleman who was doing his 6th TNF100 and another lady who was running it for the first time. We got to Nellie’s Glen together and I let them go ahead of me as I thought I would be quite slow on this section. Unfortunately I was right and soon I could not see them ahead of me, plus I got overtaken by some speedy runners who were doing some very heavy breathing as they went past. My friend Rob from Nike caught up to me at one stage too and we chatted for a while. He had taken a fall and was not doing too well, he wasn’t very optimistic about making it to the finish line, but I tried to change his mind and keep him positive.

To my surprise I caught up to a lady, but she was not in a good way and was vomiting on the side of the trail every 10-20 steps. I didn’t want to get to close for fear that it might make me feel sick too, but I kept an eye on her and talked to her to help her get up the stairs one at a time. Taking the focus off myself for this brief section seemed to make the time pass more quickly and before we knew it we were at the top of the stairs and celebrating!

It was about here that I realised how light the sky was. That might sound a bit silly, but at this point last year it had already gotten dark and I had needed my head torch to see the trail and stairs coming up the Glen. But today it felt like there was a lot more daylight left which really lifted my spirits as it reminded me I was well ahead of schedule.

At the top of the stairs there was a short section of trail followed by some road into the next checkpoint. As I ran along the street there were people out the front of their houses who cheered me on and wished me well, and I actually overtook some runners before I got to the checkpoint.

CP4 at Katoomba Aquatic Centre (21km to CP5) ETA 4.40pm

I arrived at CP4 at 3.55pm which was 45 minutes ahead of schedule, so I was still traveling quite consistently and on target to an 18 hour finish. Was that really possible!! I started cry…

My sisters smiley face was waiting to greet me as I came into the checkpoint and she helped me change and feed. I put on some dry clothes (thermal shirt) and picked up my AyUp headlamp (thanks Nigel). I also had some help from Sarah-Jane who came over to assist and got me moving and out the door again quickly to make the most of the daylight that was left.

I saw Maria just before she was leaving the checkpoint and I would have loved to leave with her but I still needed to eat! So off she went with my blessing and I stuffed some food down my gob. I think it was rice pudding and nutella sandwiches. I only stayed in this checkpoint for 12 minutes, much quicker than last year when I spent more than 20 mins here, and felt elated to be out the door with the sunlight still beaming through the trees.

How good was this!! I was so happy!! But this next section was one of the toughest parts of the course, full of stairs and I had bad memories of it last year when I had hobbled most of it in pain. But this year I was determined to run a lot of this section, even the stairs, and I really was feeling fantastic so I pushed it a little harder than I had all day.

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

And eventually (to my surprise) I managed to catch up to Maria who I think had stopped for a toilet break. I was so happy to see her again! You can tell by the smile on our faces below.

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

This section included some really pretty areas. We ran past Echo Point where you could hear runners being cheered over the finish line in the distance. The beautiful Leura Cascades where I had stopped many times for photos during training runs. There was also Lillians Bridge and Wentworth Falls but it had grown dark before we got to these and so the starry sky was now our only view.

There was a water point at 66km and we were delighted to see our friend Brad here to greet us with a smile. He had been following our progress after he had completed the 50km race earlier in the day (what a LEGEND!). I quickly made a toilet stop here, then grabbed some lollies and we got back out onto the trail again, into the darkness.

It was somewhere in this next section that I lost Maria again. She was still looking so strong and I was still struggling a little, so again I pushed her to go on ahead and kept moving my legs as fast as they would carry me.

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

This year there seemed to be much, much less stairs than last year. I don’t know why, but the mind does play tricks on you when you’re fatigued (and injured like last year). I kept moving at a consistent pace and hoped I would catch Maria at some point.

I was still feeling very positive about how I was travelling and even though the legs muscles were feeling tight I did another check of my body and was feeling much better than I had expected to feel at this point. I had changed into different shoes at the last checkpoint and so was enjoying the luxury of the extra foam in my Hoka One One.

When I eventually reached the end of the trail and hit the road section which I knew took me down into checkpoint 5, I started to cry. Last year I had started to cry at the same spot but for a totally different reason. This year I was still running, and I promised myself to run all the way down the hill and into the next checkpoint. And I did.

CP5 at Queen Victoria Hospital (22km to Finish) ETA 8.20pm

I sobbed my way into CP5 at 8.06pm which meant I was still on track to finish in under 18 hours, it felt like my dream was still within reach. Some of my beautiful Sydney Strider friends were waiting at this checkpoint for their runners and they cheered me in very loudly. Leonor and Margaret had a hilarious sign that said “F**k the wall” and I agreed!

Shelley and Brad greeted me with big smiles and were excited at how well I was doing. They told me that Maria had only just left the checkpoint before I arrived and I was thrilled to hear she was doing so well, she would definitely crack the 18 hour target. How exciting!

We got me into some more dry clothes and I put my CHeBA (UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing) singlet over the top of my thermal. I had been raising funds through this event to help Dementia research, as my grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and the singlet reminded me of her and would push me through the hard parts of the next section of the course.

I then scoffed down some noodles that I had been craving too and got myself moving again before I got too cold (and comfortable)!

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Finish at Scenic World ETA 12.15am

I spent 16 minutes at CP5 which wasn’t too bad considering all that I got done and in the back of my mind I was trying to calculate whether or not I had a chance of making the finish within our original 18hr goal time. I headed out into the darkness up the hill towards the start of Kedumba. Kedumba is a 10km downhill section that would tear up your quads and knees if you let it. I had promised myself that I would run down all of this section and despite having some knee pain I stuck to that plan all the way, passing many runners as I did so. It felt pretty good to be moving past people and keep the legs ticking over, and it also meant that I kept warm.

Mos of the downhill here looks the same, wide fire trail with trees either side. There are a few small concrete sections but not very much.

I reached the clearing at the bottom of the mountain at 11.05pm and there was a water stop at the 91km mark. This meant that I had about 1.5 hrs to get to the finish line. It was do-able, but there was a lot of up hill to come so I would need to keep moving, no walking.

Here a girl called Ellen caught up to me, we had met earlier on the trail, and we chatted some more as I sat in behind her and just tried to keep up. We were moving at a pretty decent pace (or so I thought) and this section of the trail was  very muddy and tricky in some parts. I managed to stick with Ellen all the way to the bottom of Furber steps where I proclaimed to her that I had 20 mins to get to the finish line within 18 hrs. She moved aside and I shot up past her to push myself and use up every last bit of energy I had. My breathing got really heavy and so did the legs, but I wasn’t going to slow down now, I was too close and had come too afr to give up now. A gentleman moved aside to let me past and nicknamed me “Darth Vader’ due to the sounds that were coming out of my mouth (not the first time hey Damon, ha ha). They seemed to be a bit longer than I remembered.

When I reached the top near the boardwalk I was completely out of breath and thought I still had about 1km to go. As I looked at my watch I saw there was roughly 5-6 minutes till 18 hours and my head dropped as I feared that I wasn’t going to make it.

But to my surprise as i rounded the next corner the finish line was only 50 metres away and I sprinted over the line with the biggest smile on my face! I had done it. I had come back and finished the 100km course in 17 hours 55 minutes!!

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

Getting to bthat finish line is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It had taken me 18= months of training and preparation, but I had finally beaten the TNF100 course. I did not let it beat me a second time! It just goes to show that you should never give up on your dreams, no matter how big they are or how far away they might feel at time, just keep striving and learning and planning and you’ll get there. Never give up! Here’s a pic of me holding my Bronze Buckle which is given to everyone who completes the course in under 20 hours.

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And for all the statistics lovers, here are some more numbers for you:

Distance: 100km

Elevation Gain: 4,308m

Rank: 546th overall (out of 840), 95th Female (out of 187), 45th in my age group (out of 75)

The above results do not take into account the large amount of people who withdrew from the race on the day (DNF). There were actually 1,126 Entrants who toed the start line on Saturday morning but only 840 people who actually finished the race. That means 25% of people who ran did not make it to the finish line, a true testament of how tough this race really is.

So if you include all of the runners who started the race then my ranks looks more like this:

Overall: 546th out of 1126

Female: 95th out of 249

Age Group: 45th out of 102

tnf100 with shell

Now I must say a big thank you to my beautiful sister (pictured with me above on race day) who was not only there for me at this race, but has always been my support crew and motivator at every big race in my life. It has meant the world to me and I will be forever grateful.

Thanks Shelley!

And a big thanks also goes to the generous people who have have supported my running and helped me raise over $5,000 to help UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA). They are:

Kristian, Ganesh, Leah, Don, Sharon, The Tracey Family, Keira, Brendan, Lisa, Rebecca, Anonymous, Carol, Duncan, Anonymous, Matt, Kelly, The Roland Family, Joyce, Angela, Claire, Toni, The Hall Family, Sam, Anonymous & Anonymous

If you would like to donate to Dementia research through CHeBA you had better do it quickly here: https://cheba2.everydayhero.com/au/haileyrunstnf100

 

Happy Running 😀

(Mini) Megalong Mega

The other reason why I knew I’d be sore last Monday morning was because last Sunday morning I woke at 3.15am to get ready myself and drive to the Blue Mountains for a long run with the Sydney Striders 6ft training group. When the alarm went off I remember thinking about when I was younger and used to get home at about this same time, how things have changed…. for the better!

I met Maria and Troy at 4.30am as I was driver for the day and we headed for the mountains. The chatter in the car at the start was good, although it got very quiet once we hit the motorway.

After a scheduled toilet stop close to the start we parked the car and rushed to catch up to the group that started at 6.30am (we were running a tiny bit late). Its was a little chilly when we started, although once we sprinted down the first hill and when we hit our first uphill we were much warmer.

After the first little uphill section there’s a lot of undulating single track all the way down to the Cox River, which we were hoping wasn’t too high and easy to cross. One year the race had to be cancelled because it was like rapids going through the river after heavy rainfall in the prior week.

So we made our way down to the river and caught up with some Striders along the way. Most of them had not run on the course before so they told me to take the lead, look out! (Did they know I’d gotten people lost before, ha ha). So I led the way down to the river which is about 6-7km from the road and they all followed me across, with huge smiles and lots of laughs.

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When we got to the other side it was the start of the mountains. Some big climbs were coming up and as I was running on tired legs I decided that I wasn’t going to push it too hard today and so walked most of the hills. Most of the girls took off ahead and I ran for most of the rest of my run with a friend Amy who ‘d run with at Quarry Rd the week before. Maria went flying up the hills in front of me, way to go!

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There were lots of uphills and w chatted and ran some and walked some and ran into lots of other runners from other groups who were out at part of a training camp. I ran into Alia who I had met at the Narrabeen Allnighter and saw the winner from the 6ft Track Marathon the prior year, he went flying down the hill towards us. I wish I was that fast!

After the turn around point Amy and I ran into Gilbert and he turned back to run with us too. As we were making our way back up another hill hill we heard some motorbikes blazing up the trail behind us. They came revving up the hill and stopped in front of us at the top of the hill. They had trail bikes and quad bikes, you can see them in the background of the photo below. We said hello and they offered us a lift, very tempting but the down hills were upon us now so no time to rest.

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We caught up to some other Striders and I felt like I had some gas in the tank so I left Amy & Gilbert and used my downhill skills to gain speed and i lost them in no time. Downhill are my strength and I never saw any of the group again until I hit the finish.

I felt like I was flying down the hills and it felt great not to have any knee pain too, sometimes on the downhills it can really smash your legs but I was having a blast!!

I hit the river and decided to sit and soak my legs for a minute as the cool water felt great. I chatted to some other runners who I had caught up to and some others who came in behind me, but I still didn’t see my mates from earlier.

Finally I got myself out of the river and headed back up the nasty trail to the Megalong Road, it’s quite deceiving this single track as it’s a continual uphill battle to the road. I felt good, I felt strong so I kept moving at a consistent pace and overtook a few people which surprised me. I also got overtaken by a few people so my head wasn’t getting too big. But it felt so good to be feeling strong and confident.

I got back to the road and said hi to some friends and other runners who had finished and then made my way to the car for some food & drinks. I’d packed an esky with some of my favourites like Chocolate milk, yummo!! Andy came over to chat and looked a little worse for ware, I gave him a blanket to sit on and he came good. We chatted and made our way up to greet the other runners as they returned from their slog.

I saw Nicole from RMA (Running Mums Australia) and Emma & Scott from Trailblazers who were doing a massive 52km feat that day and were just passing through when I saw them. It was a great day and so many familiar faces, we had a bit of a road party celebrating the long long training run that we had all conquered. It was a great day and smiles all round 🙂

We eventually packed up the car and made our way home and again it was a very quiet trip with a few snoozey people to keep me company. When I finally got home I hit the spa and then snoozed on the couch, a recovery snooze as I like to call it.

Happy running 😀

Tis the season to be running

Wow! I just realised it’s been about 3 weeks since my last post (slacker) and there’s been a lot of running in that time, fantastic runs too. You might want to grab a cuppa, it’s not a short read but it’s an enjoyable one 😉

Firstly, I was really happy to hear that ParkRun was starting in Menai on Saturday 13 December and one of my coaches from RunLab was going to be the Race Director. So instead of doing my long run that Saturday my friend Troy and I decided to volunteer and marshall for the first race. If you have never done Parkrun then you should definitely look it up, great for runners of all abilities, ages and speeds (they even have people who walk the whole way), they have kids and dogs running the event every week and it’s a great community atmosphere.  Troy and I decided to run to Menai, volunteer, then run home which meant we would get in about 20km (with a big break in the middle) to cover our long run that we’d be missing, score. It was really great to be a part of the first race and there was a great turnout so hopefully the council will be happy with the trials and permit it to be a permanent event. And our long run was lots of fun, we even found a trail to explore on the way home.

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The Sunday after ParkRun was the Sydney Striders STaR as Middle Harbour, followed by the end of year Awards Brunch. So we all set out for a morning run, had a showers and then headed to the Yacht Club for a cooked brekkie AND I won an award! I won the Super Series for my age group, and if you’re wondering what that is then click here to find out more information. It really has been such an amazing year for me and to get this award really meant a lot to me, I may have even shed a little tear on the way home, but don’t tell anyone.

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Last weekend our Striders 6ft training crew headed out to the race start for an out and back long training run and it was most enjoyable. Maria, Troy and myself car pooled our way to Nellie’s Glen for an early start and to try and beat some of the heat. Lots of others had the same idea so we set off with a big group at about 6:30am. The start of this course is 500+ stairs all the way down to the valley floor, they were relatively dry compared to the other times I have been there which meant they felt a little safer, but these steps have ruined runners for many years, so it’s always best to take it easy for this section. The trail then opens up and is made up of mostly fire trail and some single track. We got to about 11km and then turned back and when we did we started to see many other runners who had started later and it was great to see their smiley faces and have a (quick) chat to everyone as they passed by. I was feeling really strong that day and was charing up most of the hills and really pushing myself more than normal. When you feel good I think you just have to go for it. We eventually got back to Nellie’s Glen and made the slow trip back up the 500+ stairs, it was tough going but eventually we got to the top and we were very pleased with how much ground we had covered on the return trip, much faster than the first half of the run. Well done team Maria, Carolyn, Troy and I 🙂

Photo Credit: Andy Stiddard

The next day I (stupidly) decided to do a soft sand run with my dog down at Wanda and although we had a great time as my dog loves the beach, my legs afterwards were pretty shattered. The accumulation of those stairs and the sand meant my quads were not very happy with me. It had been a tough training week so I eased off a little in the days after and feel like i’m getting stronger.

On Christmas Eve I went for a trail run with Damon and we did around 24km in the Royal National Park. This run included a huge hill near the very end. If you know the road from Audley Weir up to the highway then you’ll know what i’m talking about, it’s steep, it’s long and it’s tough. When we approached the hill I was thinking to myself, “just run as far as you can and then give yourself a break”. Early on we had been moving at a faster pace than I was normally comfortable to run, so I felt like I was struggling even before we got to the hill. But Damon encouraged me to find a rhythm and keep moving, no matter how slow, all the way up the hill. And it seemed to go forever, and ever, and ever….. I was breathing like Darth Vader (his new nickname for me) but I was comfortable and steadily moving up the hill without walking. And the road just kept on going…and going… but I kept on running and eventually we made it to the top of the hill. I had run the entire hill. Wow! I never could have done that by myself and Damon’s encouragement is what got me there so thanks Damon – you really know how to get me to work hard and push myself. What a great run!

Then on Boxing Day, Maria and I headed to Quarry Road for Horrie’s Bush Bash, as many laps as you want. We decided that 1 lap would be enough and so we pushed each other and our pace was much quicker than usual (there seems to be a patter forming!!). We ended up doing our fastest lap ever and were very proud of the achievement. It also meant we felt better about all the food/drink we’d had the day before! Great running everyone and great to see so many familiar faces out enjoying this trail.

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Yesterday I ran ParkRun for the first time ever and I managed to drag along the hubby, my friend Nat (Birthday Girl) and her daughter Chelsea so we were all running it for the first time. I finished in 23:56 and managed to beat my hubby by more than a minute, yay! ha ha Thanks for taking our dog too Nat, I know she can be a bit painful on the lead but she loves to run!!

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And now I have saved the best update for last.

Term 4 of RunLab came to a close with a week of high intensity training followed the next week by our 3km time trial (TT) and I was thrilled with my improvements. The first TT we had done at the beginning of the term was tough and I had run 3km in 14:53, at the time I was pretty happy with that pace (4:58/km) and felt it was a true indication of where I was at the time in terms of speed. So after weeks of training under (majority) Damon and a few other coaches I smashed the TT and finished in 13:05, a pace of 4:22/km – what an improvement! When I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch I actually thought it was wrong as my goal had been to try and get as close to 14:30 as possible….. Ummm, smashed that!! I will definitely be back in Term 1 for more RunLab sessions and I look forward to pushing myself to see how much faster I can go.

Seeing such big improvement and getting results has led me to reflect on all of the running I have done recently. It has really given me boost as I never thought I’d be capable of such things and I wonder what else is around the corner for 2015. It just shows that with the right kind of training, and with the right work-hard attitude you can absolutely achieve anything.

Happy Running 😀

2014 Woodford to Glenbrook Classic

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Just looked up my results from Sundays Woodford to Glenbrook Classic and I came 15th in my age group (out of 41) – I’m so happy with that. I had so much fun running on that course, especially the last downhill section where I felt like I was unstoppable.

It started out a very, very, very, very chilly morning but I was thankful of the late start time (10am) as it would have been even worse if we started at sunrise like most trail events. So I got a little sleep in and drove to Glenbrook to park the car. I easily got a spot and headed for the train to Woodford.

I ran into a few of my running mates John, Andy, Georgie and met a guy called Joe. We chatted about current training and our next big races and the weather was feeling quite lovely at this point. The train pulled up and I sat with Georgie from SHR all the way to Woodford and when we got off the train it was  FREEZING!!!! The wind was so much stronger up here and the chill factor was – 4, yuck! The only good thing was that it would provide a lovely tailwind during the race, it would be very unfortunate if it has been blowing the other way. We met up with Todd & Michael from SHR for a coffee at a place on the highway and then headed for the start area.

When we got there we huddled near a rock wall in the sun, trying to shelter from the wind as it was bitterly cold. At that point I wished I had worn log sleeve pants and top, however in hindsight my choice proved to be right. (that’s me second from the left with my blue pack)

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We talked ourselves into giving up the jackets at the bag drop and headed for the start line with teeth chattering. We found a spot in the sun and wished each other well (after a few photos of course).

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And then we were off. Georgie was super fast so there was no way I’d try and keep up with her. My plan was to use this as a training run so I went very slow and steady at the start, which would hopefully leave me some energy at the end if i felt like kicking up a gear.

The course was fire trail the whole way and there was actually a bike race that started before us, so that’s why we had the later start time. Maybe next year I should come back and do the ride instead? Something to think about as I’m getting a MTB next month – woohoo!

Back to the race. I warmed up quickly and even got a cheer from one of the SES Volunteers who yelled out “Go Hails!!”. At the time I had no idea who he ways, but later I found out he was my friend Nigel’s friend, Eric a fellow Corporate Cup runner.

The trail was up and down and I only walked about 3 or 4 of the hills, they were not as big as some of the mountains I’ve conquered this year! I eased into pace and let people go past me. I had a chat to Anne from work who is lovely as always. I ran past Michael getting a pedicure (and secretly hoped that he would not catch up to me). I chatted to Todd from run club for a bit when he caught up to me too and when I got to the 16km mark I decided to go for it. I put the foot on the gas a little more and decided to use my downhill strength to pick up the pace and start drawing back some places. It worked and I quickly began to overtake people who seemed to be doing it tougher than i was. I looked at my watch at one point and saw that i was running at 4’45” min pace – very fast for me!

The km’s seemed to tick away very fast and soon I was sprinting down the last hill, rounding the bend and sprinting up a small hill to the finish line. I had made it and I had felt fantastic the whole way. What a wonderful experience!!

finish line

I highly recommend this race to anyone, especially beginners as there’s no technical trail sections and it’s not as hilly as some courses. I even managed to get a new 21km PB… and it was on the trail. How awesome is that!

A huge thank you to all the volunteers for making the day run so smoothly, it was a very enjoyable event. Even when the announcer stuck the microphone in my face at the finish line to interview me….. ha ha

For anyone who wants my run details see screenshot below from the Nike+ App, I still can’t believe my average pace considering it’s a trail run, but i’ll definitely take it.

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I watched some more of our crew come through the finish line and we celebrated with some sausage sandwiches and coffee while sitting in the sun and sharing our experiences. Everyone had really enjoyed the course and vowed to be back next year. Will you join us?

Happy running trailies 🙂

 

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 😀