Friday, August 31, 2007

Trailwalker August 07

NOT BAREFOOT!! (though parts of it I was tempted)

This would rate as the most incredible thing I've done. Truly spectacular bushland, tough trails, rain, mud... Doesn't get any better than this.

Our running club (Western District Joggers and Harriers) had 2 teams entered, and we mostly stayed together as we were sharing a support crew. Starting out I must admit I was mildly terrified, having never tried my body over this type of distance or terrain.

The first few checkpoints went by without much fuss, and we managed to avoid most of the rain. Our crew were awesome, having everything ready for us as we came into each rest stop. Hot food, doughnuts, drinks, lollies... fill up and move on.
The last 3 sections of the course were incredibly tough, with thousands of rock stairs and seemingly endless uphill sections. One of my team members summed it up profoundly with his theory of relativity "For every up, there is a down, and then another up".

The night walking/running was fun, and time seemed to fly by. Having the company of and odd bits of conversation with team members made for an enjoyable couple of days.

Having been running for so long barefoot prior to this event, I managed to avoid any blisters, as the skin on my feet was just too hard. I'm grateful for it now, though it wasn't planned. I wore Nike Frees for the whole trail, and ditched the socks after about half way, as I felt they were starting to squeeze my toes up too much.

Bring on 2008, I just can't wait to do it all again! The most fun I've had, the most challenging physically and mentally and the most rewarding experience. Twelve months ago, even a 10km left me hurting and tired, and now to finish this in good spirits was just a huge thrill for me.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

First marathon July 07

Wow, what a day! I thought I'd wait a couple of day before writing about how I feel, so the high would wear off. It hasn't so far, so here's the whole story, mostly for my benefit...
It was freezing at the start, gloves long shirts and woolly hats a-plenty. My feet were frozen before I started, even though I had the Vibrams on. Fell into a good rythm at a comfortable pace right from the start, determined not to try to keep up with everyone else, but to do my own thing. With only 130 odd runners, this meant I was soon running pretty much on my own, with only a handful of runners behind me.

It stayed this way for most of the run, which is how I imagined it. Having said that, it was a very lonely marathon to do as a first timer. My wonderful family and friends drove up the motorway to meet me a certain points along the way and other friends from running club popped up here and there to cheer me on, which was a welcome break from the quietness of my own thoughts.
I felt great and ran well up to about 31km, when the stomach/abdominal cramps started. My body playing tricks on me because I was so nervous before the start that my usual 'routine' for such things just wouldnt happen!! I walked/hobbled to the nearest portaloo, which resulted in a huge 'weight off my mind' and a return to comfortable running, albeit at a much reduced pace. I found I just couldn't up the pace at this point.

My knee then became a bit dodgy and hurt on and off through to the end. I ditched the Vibrams at around 12km when the ground became warm enough for barefeet. This saw a much faster pace, as I finally felt like I was running properly. It also helped to amuse the volunteers at the drink stations... "Did you get mugged out there lady?"... "Did you forget your shoes this morning?" .... "Are you insane??"..... "You'll be sorry at the other end".

It was a huge thrill for me to be in the same run as the original Sydney barefoot runner, "barefoot" himself, Steve Mifsud. He inspired me to try running this way, and to have a like minded person out there was a boost for my confidence.

I finished in 5.19.xx, which in some ways was a slight disappointment, as I thought I was capable of about 4.45, but I have decades to improve on that time. More importantly, it was fun.

In all, it was easy to see where I can improve for next time. The last 8-10k were hard work, but still not horrible or overwhelming, so that was a huge positive. I wanted to finish enjoying it, and wanting to do another. Tick both of those.

So many people encouraged me when I set out to achieve this, and I'm grateful to the running community in general for supporting the slower amongst us... its such a buzz to run with the top guys and girls. Bring on the next one I say!

I'm doing City to surf and Trailwalker next month. The first will a slow barefoot run with both daughters in tow, and the second... NOT barefoot (my team isn't keen on that idea) and no kids. Then if I pull up ok from that, I'll be mighty tempted to have a go at the Sydney marathon in September. Am I crazy?