(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.

megalong

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!

megalong 2

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.

megalong 4

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 😀

Oxfam Training run on the Coastal Classic Course

Last Sunday our Oxfam crew (minus Roger who was doing a First Aid course, very handy) ran the Coastal Classic course from Otford to Bundeena. I opted for the one-way version, however our team mates Dom & Em decided to try Otford to Buneena to Otford, which sounds crazy right?! Well I would have joined them but as I had run the M7 road marathon the week before my body was still recovering from that and I knew it would be tough just pushing myself to go one way.

We were so lucky with the weather, it was very cold to start but the day cleared up and got warm while we were running. You should see my tan lines, hilarious!!

The first 5kms felt great and we ran into some wildlife before hitting the first big hill, below you can see a Joey and a Deer (they tried to tell me it was an Alpaca but it doesn’t have the long neck of an Alpaca so I didn’t believe them!)

1_Joey

2_Deer

We also had the wonderful Scott (who is training for GNW 100 miler!!) join us for the trip, he had already run 50km on the previous day so the picture below shows how he was feeling. Great guy and very knowledgeable!

3_Scotty Tired

As I stopped to get some photos, Em and Dom made their way up the hill towards the sunrise so I snapped the below shot, one of my fave pictures from the run now.

3_Sunrise

And of course because I was going super slow Dom decided to take a seat while he waited for me. My legs were feeling very heavy and I felt like I didn’t have much gas in the tank despite my constant food & drink.

6_Dom patiently waiting

And then there were more hills, some of the steps were huge even for 6 foot tall me, I’d hate to be any shorter and trying to climb that one below.

4_First Big Hill

And the view from the top was beautiful. This whole course is beautiful. The coastline we ran past the whole time was nothing short of spectacular and I’d have to say this is my favorite run in terms of the view.

5_Heading North

We stopped at Garie beach for the bathroom and then we kept heading north. I ran ahead to get a shot of the guys who had probably fallen behind talking about food. So here’s Dom and Scott running right beside the ocean.

4_Dom on coastline

4_DScott on coastline

And at the top of the next hill i turned around to see where we had come from, wow!

6_Beach crossing behind us

At about the halfway point we had run into my mate Nigel who had run from Bundeena to meet us and run back with us. So here he is below with Dom and Emma.

6_Group shot

And he Nigel is trying to motivate me up the next hill, I think I was walking a lot by this stage. It really wasn’t a pleasant days run for me, so thank goodness for the views!!

7_Heading north with Nigel

And what we like to call the White Cliffs of Dover…

7_White cliffs no people

My favorite spot.

7_White Cliffs looking south

Nigel and I ran together for most of the last 10kms as the rest of the gang had gone ahead. I had told them earlier to not stop for me as I knew they were going to be out for much longer as they were doing the return trip. Thankfully I had Nigel to keep me moving, as i honestly think I would have walked most of it if he had not been there.

After feeling the way i did during that run I knew that I had not recovered from the marathon yet, and that i needed to take it easy over the next couple of weeks as there was less than 3 weeks till Oxfam Trailwalker. I really need to be in my best shape for Oxfam so my eyes are on the prize and I won’t be letting my team down.

I got home and was wrecked. I ate everything I could fine and then tackled the couch for a snooze, but I was unable to sleep (not sure why). My knees were stiff and my hips were feeling worn out. Later that night I had a red wine and ended up sleeping like a baby.

Emma and Dom managed to finish the double journey in 10 hours and my hat goes off to them, they would have been exhausted by the end but very good preparation for our jorney that lies ahead.

If you would like to sponsor our Oxfam team, please use this link: https://trailwalker.oxfam.org.au/team/home/17564

Happy Running 😀

Sydney TrailRunning Series

Yesterday I competed in my first ever trail running race, an event organised my Mountain Sports and held at the Manly Dam about a 30 minute drive north from the CBD.

I arrived super early as I had been slack and missed out on the online entry cut off date and had to register on the morning, but it meat I got a great parking spot which would come in handy if my legs were sore after the race.

One of my old work mates Sam spotted me and came up to say hello, he was running the half marathon (2 laps of the Manly Dam) which was more than I wanted to bite off and chew at the moment with my limited trail running experience. However I found out that he is also registered for some of the trail races i’m planning to do in 2014 and it sounds like it’s going to be a big year for both of us.

I wished Sam well and the half marathoners set off to start their journey. Apparently the gentleman who had won the Northface100 was also competing so there was some tough competition.

My mates Todd and Claire from Sydney Harbour Running club also turned up for a crack at the 10km trail run and we were in for a tough course.

They split us up into groups of about 30 to send us off in waves as apparently a lot of the course is single track. This made me a bit nervous as it can be hard to stay on your own pace with people breathing down your neck, or people in front who you catch up to and can’t get around…. I always get nervous before races, don’t we all.

And the count down began, we were off. Most of the first part of the race was single track and very uneven surfaces which would be good experience at dodging and weaving. Some of the time I was too busy looking down and got wacked with a low branch, so after that I kept reminding myself to also look up. You really have to be on your game and alert the whole time, it’s not like road running at all. I wore the Nike GPS watch but I don’t think I looked at my pace even once, whereas on the road you look at it all the time, the only time I looked at my watch was to check km’s.

A small part of the course on a fire trail and then it was back into the single track and then it opened to a lovely bridge crossing at the end of the Dam which was quite high but had some great views. Then it was hill time, the last one and by far the hardest part of the course. I walked it mostly as my legs were struggling, but I didn’t stop. I just kept moving, that’s my motto…… just keep moving. Then I tripped and fell. I landed on my wrist which softened the blow for my knees but it meant there was blood. I did a quick body check and it was only my hand that hurt so I got up straight away and kept moving. My concentration was lacking as I was getting tired, something I would need to work on. I ran very slowly on the down hill section and before I knew it the finish line was in sight. I dug deep and made a sprint for the line, it was done.

We were then spoilt with fruit, water, coffee and a bbq to replenish and I even went for a quick dip in the Dam to cool down.

Over all I loved the race, it was hard an it pushed me to test my limits but I kept going. And what a beautiful location, great track and having the dam to cool down was awesome.

I met up with the others to share our stories and we all had a fun time. As this race is the first of 4 races, we all decided that we had a blast and would be back next year!!

Happy running! 😀

Dirt rules

I dedicate the title of this post to SJ my running buddy!

Last Saturday I ran my first trail run with the Sydney Striders 6ft training group. It was an early start as I had to be at Mosman for 7.00am and the drive would take me 45 mins to get there (plus I was a little worried I’d get lost, even with a GPS), so I left my place at 6.00am.

When I got there it was pouring with rain, just like it had been for the past day or two. But us serious runners never let that kind of thing dampen our spirits or stop us from training. I sat in the car for a little while waiting for others to arrive and secretly praying for the rain to stop. We eventually got out of our cars and I introduced myself to the team and they seemed like a very friendly bunch.

I got some brief advise from Pete and changed into my new Nike Zoom Wild Horse trail shoes as apparently my normal sneakers would be too slippery, and then we set off onto the trail. I was told it would be a part walkway and part trail kind of course, so probably a good way to start for someone who was new to this type of run. And it was awesome!

We ran up and down rock stairs, over boardwalks, through puddles and streams, and we even shared part of the track with a bush turkey who showed us the way. It was truly an awesome run and I haven’t even mentioned the views yet. They were magical. We ran along the coastline for and when we got to the turnaround point we had views of both north and south head from an old gunners barracks. We also ran past old cottages that are now heritage listed and it truly was a beautiful part of the world.

Unfortunately I didn’t take my phone with me so I have no photos but next time i’m up there I won’t be making that mistake again.

I think that’s one of the main reasons i’m attracted to trail running, the views and the different locations and the variety of landscape. It’s an adventure even more so than a road race and after Saturdays run I know it’s going to be a very tough training program from now until the 6ft track trail marathon. A challenge I accept and look forward to conquering!

Happy Running!