Sunday, November 30, 2008
After reading a rather interesting post by the paleo runner last week in which it lead me to read about Tim VanOrden and what he has achieved with running by adhering to a strictly 100% raw vegan diet has inspired me to make some changes in my own nutritional habits. His site also led me on a path to other raw eating websites, communities and podcast interviews and my interest has been captured.
My reasoning behind thinking about making the transition from the paleo diet to a largely raw vegan diet is based on a number of reasonings.
The main issue I have at the moment while following paleo/primal eating guidelines is that while the diet has provided everything that I expected from it and what others have claimed it would. It’s just not giving me everything I need. The diet stabilized my energy levels so that I don’t experience the post-carb lows that I used to have before but the trade-off was that I don’t seem to be experiencing any highs - physical, mental or spiritual. Everything feels just a bit - how do it say it - BLAH. I am also missing what I will call my vitality or life energy. Running is not the only thing in my life that defines who I am and what brings me joy and I am in need of feeding my other personas.
Vitality is something that I experienced strongly during my university years (my mid 20’s) when I ate basically as a vegetarian/vegan for three years and during the period of time I regularly practiced periods of fasting and raw food eating (mainly fruits). I read a lot of Arnold Ehret’s work I don’t ever remember thinking about my lack of energy for any of the numerous physical pursuits that made up much of my day. Perhaps too much at times when class lectures needed to be attended.
Arnold Ehret has been described as inspiring many prominent people in the raw food movement including Gabriel Cousens and David Wolfe amongst others whom I am yet familiar with. I still have on my bookshelf at home two of his books – RATIONAL FASTING and THE MUCUSLESS DIET HEALING SYSTEM. During my first year at uni these books became my bible. At the time I was searching to rejuvenate my physical, mental and spiritual aspects of my life and over a period of 12 months I had completed a big change.
Other reasons for wanting to make a transition are based on some changes that we have made in respect to the health of our children. We have virtually eliminated all preservatives from our menu due to health reasons and have introduced some non-dairy items as one of our children appears to be lactose intolerant. Our shopping cart is also being filled with more and more organic products as we are questioning the way products are grown and produced. This is also leading us on an ethical journey as our family is questioning how our food reaches the shelves of the supermarket and into our homes. I won’t go into ethical arguments here as there is a lot of information out there to provide some interesting reading for those so interested.
And finally on a last note I’m just starting to get sick of cooking and consuming large amounts of animal-based proteins. I’m even losing the taste and smell for it. It’s like listening to new music released on the radio – it sounds great at first but after listening to it over and over again you end up not being able to listen to it anymore.
Monday, November 24, 2008
During some quiet introspective thought last weekend I was toying with the idea of finding another challenge. I looked through my books, notes and blog favourites - ultra books, 50 marathons-50 days, detox, master cleanse, crossfit, raw food, primal blueprint, paleo diet, etc. By the time Sunday evening had rolled around I was ready. I had decided that I would jump back on the paleo diet but I had also set myself a daily mileage goal minimum of 21km which I would try and stick to for the next 21 days - 21 in 21 had a nice ring to it.
Well by the time Monday evening (day 1) was upon me, things didn't go quite to plan and thoughts of a 90 minute run were laid to rest with the setting of the sun. It also signalled the end of my motivation. However a text message from a friend which I read while getting the kids ready for bed was enough to change everything.
More details to follow....
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I have run every day this week for about 20 to 50 minutes (covering about 3-6 miles) and together with my diet I have lost the 5 pounds that I gained during my holiday and exercise lay off. At least that is a good starting point for next week as I increase the volume of training.
While I had my break I spent some time thinking about my training and decided that I need to add more volume and increase the duration of my daily runs. I find that my fitness quickly improves when I increase my run duration to longer than 100 minutes of running. On some runs it takes about an hour for me to feel comfortable and I generally start running better for the remainder of the session. So as I like to have a written plan to follow I have roughly drafted my weekly schedule to look something like that shown below.
Monday - AM) Run easy 1h-1h40 (8-12 miles) PM) Ride home
Tuesday - AM) Ride + Short interval of fartlek session // Easy run
Wednesday - AM) Run easy 1h10 (10 miles) + Strides PM) Ride home
Thursday - AM) Tempo run + Hills (total 12-14 miles) PM) Run home 1h
Friday - AM) Long trail run 2-3h (20-25 miles) + Strides (barefoot)
Saturday - AM) Easy run 1h30 + drills, hill strides or bike if tired
Sunday - AM) Longer tempo run or long intervals
Along with all the running I'm hoping to get in at least two yoga sessions per week.
Monday, November 3, 2008
I started running again yesterday. Well actually that statement is not entirely true as I was forced to run to work yesterday as my stepson had borrowed the car while I was away on the weekend and drove several hours away to spend some time with some friends while he is over here on holidays from the UK.
The running felt OK but the heat was something I wasn't expecting and about 30 minutes into the run I was overheating. I also decided to wear the polar to see how my heartrate responded. Well it looks like I have some work to do as my HR drifted up to around 185bpm and sat there until I decided to walk to allow it to drop back down to a more acceptable 150bpm.
I just checked my Garmin and it is evident where I went wrong. The kilometre splits started out at 4:30 pace before dropping to 4:15 and then I followed it up with another two kilometres at sub 4:00 pace. Strangely this happens whenever I start back running as my legs are refreshed, refuelled and free of the usual niggles and fatigue that they are plagued with from the repeated abuse they receive.
Gradually after a few weeks building the volume back up my pace gradually goes back to a more sustainable pace and the HR drops.
Post-run my legs feel completely toasted and it took several hours before I could walk without discomfort. I'm not a fan of the transition period as my legs and body become reacquainted with their friends the road, pavements and trails.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Friday’s morning run started out with a surprise. I felt better than good! My legs, body and mind were all agreeing that it was a beautiful morning to run to work and that’s what they did.
I had planned yesterday to make this morning my longer run of the week when the alarm went off. But at 5am after a restless night of sleep I made the decision that an extra hour of snooze time would be time well spent. When I climbed out of bed an hour later I expected to feel some soreness after yesterday’s hard interval session and the run home that it came as a shock that my legs felt exceptionally good.
During the run this morning I really tried to keep this run easy and not get too carried away pushing the effort so that I can go into the weekend feeling as fresh as I can considering that I have run about 75 miles this week since last Sunday. My running this week has gone great and I want to have a good hard run tomorrow and back that up with a long run on Sunday morning to complete the week on a high note.
On the diet front, things had been going well all week and stepping on the scales yesterday I could see that I had lost a few pounds since last weekend but sadly I caved in today. During another work colleague send off I slipped and ate some very non-paleo foods. I also had lunch with an old colleague at a local Indian restaurant and ate some more non-paleo but terribly yummy food stuffs. I’ll call this my day of reckoning and will get back onto it tomorrow. Dinner will be a salad! I am weak!!!!
Thursday (PM): 5.8 miles (0:46) – nearly all of it uphill. Completely empty!
Friday: 6.3 miles (0:45) – nice and easy.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Well that’s what my legs were telling me this morning. And it was great to see that they have returned and they are feeling stronger than ever. I find it amazing that I have to run close to 60 miles in four days with 1-2 higher intensity sessions thrown in to get some life back into them but that’s exactly how things have gone down.
I went into yesterday’s run with some doubt about how the run would go. I was right to be a little concerned as from the start my legs felt tight and heavy from the previous day’s killer hill session. Running with a couple of fast dudes kept me honest though and didn’t allow me to slack off for one second.
I don’t know why (but perhaps it has something to do with my enjoyment for pain and suffering) but even though I felt like I was struggling I was the one that was pushing the pace at the front. We started off easy through the first few miles as we talked about our previous training and races and upcoming events but shortly after I barely uttered another sentence or sound other than the occasional grunts. We covered 9 miles in just over an hour but then if that wasn’t enough we left the road to head onto the trail which parallels the river and we started surging the small climbs and the pace got faster. I’m already looking forward to next week’s run!
Weight: 166lb and dropping
Sleep: 6h good
Wednesday: 12.8 miles in 1:27 – I was hurting.
Still to come -
Thursday: Track session (lunch) and run home (PM)
Feeling good is good enough!!
Breakfast: Typically 3 eggs (any style) with spinach, mushrooms, etc, piece of fruit (cantaloupe, orange, berries, etc) + coffee
Snacks: apple, mandarin, almonds, carrots, etc
Pre-run (2 hours prior): Some form of carbohydrate (fresh and dried fruit about 200-300 calories worth) - need to experiment more here.
Post-run: Will try and get in 20g PRO and 80g CHO to optimise recovery. Oatmeal, dried and fresh fruits, smoothies, protein drinks etc.
Lunch: Typically tinned fish w/ small salad
Dinner: Typically meat (kangaroo, beef, chicken, pork) w/ vegetables
I decided not to go out for a run either this morning or at lunch and instead try and go into this run feeling as fresh as I was going to get with only day between my last hard session.
I have been reading what I can find on the internet about the Paleo Diet for Endurance Athletes as I am still waiting for the book to arrive. It was purchased as a birthday gift and has mysteriously got lost in the mail somewhere. What has got me interested is the ideas about the various stages and I look forward to get a better understanding when I get the book.
I have been trying to follow along with what little information I have. So today I followed typical paleo eating for breakfast and lunch and two hours prior to heading out I consumed some high GI carbohydrates in the form of a couple of organic date and coconut rolls that I discovered in the local fruit markets. I had better be careful as they are a little addictive. I did however check the nutrition label and try to stick to no more than 80grams of Carbohydrates.
I won't go into the details about the run but it was tough. We covered almost the half marathon distance on a rolling course in about 1hr 27mins. The last 4 miles were covered in just over 24 minutes which brought me a little undone and brought on the dreaded bonk. Strangely enough when I started falling apart I started running faster as my sole goal was to get done.
Thankfully the car was full of healthy goodies and a large bottle of water and I consumed most on the drive home. Food included an egg salad wrap which I scored from the leftovers of a meeting at work, a banana, several organic date and oat rolls and a litre of water.
Returning home I continued with the recovery nutrition theme and enjoyed a smoothie which I made for the kids consisting of milk, honey, cocoa and goji berries.
Monday, September 8, 2008
My legs are starting to come around again. After what has been a very long period of recovery following my marathon and ultra races in July and August I’m finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I logged my fifth run session in three days and it was a tough one. The session called for hill repeats and looking around I found a nice hill close to work. During my initial investigations I checked it out on the computer and I was thinking that it was about 8-10% gradient but after running it today and checking the map again it turned out to be in the range of 13-15+% gradient. The last 120m was a real heart burster!
During the final two repeats I’m sure I maxed out my heart rate as I started feeling the light headed sensation of working at close to 100%. Great stuff!
Starting to feel fit again and this is getting me excited to run. Tomorrow evening I am meeting up with the fast guys that I ran with last week and I’m looking forward to getting smacked.
Almost predominantly fruit and nuts today. Post-run meal consisted of a tub of berry yogurt (high protein and fat) that I picked up earlier from the fruit market.
1 slice of fruit loaf with 100%PB and a banana (pre-morning run)
60g goji berries
Think I’ll pick myself up some kangaroo steak for tonight’s meal…
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Another weekend has come and gone and I can at least say that I found some time to get out and run. With father’s day on Sunday my wife encouraged me to get out for a long run before the day of family action started and that’s what I did. While the scheduled run was for 2hr 45mins or something I decided to just get out and start with getting in a 2hr run and see how I felt. Well I never really felt that great but after 2hrs time spent recharging the soul I felt much better than I have in weeks. Followed that up with a full day of family action including a game of ten pin bowling and a couple of hours spent at the indoor climbing gym. Recovery sessions? Maybe.
So with a long run yesterday which I struggled with over the last 30mins it came as a surprise during today’s run to see just how good I felt. On Monday’s schedule are two easy runs with one including some strides at 90% effort. After an easy 20mins I found a nice stretch of road before the turn around and started opening up with the 80m of effort. All my focus was on maintaining good form and picking up the pace gradually with each subsequent effort. During the first I started feeling lose and by the last I felt like I was flying with very little effort. My average pace during the strides this week was also much improved by about 30sec per km. Hopefully this indicates that I am finally cresting the mountain of fatigue. Getting excited to get out and train again.
I still have loads more running to get through this week.
None recorded. I don’t think I will bother about the daily weigh in at this stage.
Saturday: 35mins with 6k hard - struggled in the wind and rain.
Sunday: 2hr long over undulating terrain – the hills during the last 30mins felt like walls.
Monday: (noon) 45mins (6.5 miles) w/ 5x80m strides @ 90% (1min jog) – and then I felt great!
(pm) 60min run home w/ 30mins on long climbs
Tuesday: (am) 40min easy run to work (pm) Big Hill Session!!!!
I gave myself the weekend off. I enjoyed a nice Thai meal with my wife during which a bottle of white was consumed and followed this up with an ice cream cone. I was hoping to get in a long run the following morning so wasn’t too concerned about my over indulgence. During the week while at work I usually find it easier to make good choices but at home with the family during the weekends it is easier to consume meals together which we all enjoy. More often than not they contain a few extra carbohydrates to replace my depleted glycogen reserves.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
After a long day at work, a hard running session and three hours spent at the shops picking up some clothes for the children and a gift for father’s day by the time I got home I was completely stuffed. That is when I weakened to the smell and look of the blueberry and white chocolate scones that my wife had made. There were also some very yummy biscuits that contained apple and cinnamon. A favoured combination of mine and even harder to resist. I gave into temptation and enjoyed every morsel. I can’t be 100% primal and continue to enjoy some of the happiness around me from time to time. My wife and young son spent yesterday cooking together and I was excited (as my son was) to enjoy his offerings. Very special indeed.
After the late night eating though as much as I tried not to, I fell asleep sitting on the lounge while my wife finished reading the last of her book.
So where is this all leading? Well when the alarm went off at 5am to get up for my planned weekly long run of 2.5 hours I hit snooze put the alarm under my pillow and sleep through the next two wake up calls. When I got out of the house at 6:30am it immediately felt like the right decision was made. I struggled through a 30 minute shuffle around the neighbourhood and hopefully that will now allow me to recover before the weekend of intensity that I am now planning.
Now that today’s focus will be on recovery tomorrow’s plan for a long tempo and big hill climbing session – think about 90 odd minutes of solid work in the middle of a 2 hour plus session is back on the agenda. Sunday will hopefully be the long run that I missed today but at a somewhat easy pace.
With the sessions getting longer, harder and more specific the next step in my education will be on the recovery side of things. I am going to try and go with the small window prior, during and immediately after my sessions to get in all (well most) of my carbohydrates needed to fuel my workout and replace the glycogen that I use during the session so that I can go into the next session ready to perform at an optimum level. I am also going to look at using recovery aids such as cold baths, hot/cold, compression garments, massage, etc and see if that helps too.
Weight: 168lb (still no change)
Legs: 6/10 they feel good but rather lifeless.
After three solid days of back-to-back-to-back it came as no surprise when I got out the door that I was a little less than enthusiastic to run either long or fast. With the well-worn Nike Frees on I tried sticking to the grass verges and enjoy the increased cushioning to give my legs a little break. The cool of the winter rain was a refreshing way to end the run.
The email reminder about the morning tea for charity at work made me think today was going to be a little less than primal. Perhaps a traditional low fat, low protein, high carbohydrate eating plan typical of most endurance athletes is the order of the day. I will be interested to see how I perform during my training over the next day and two. If they go well then I will look at eating more carbohydrates prior to hard intense sessions and reserve the low-carbohydrate, high protein and fat days for the days when training is low intensity, highly aerobic and on recovery days.
Breakfast: 3 hard-boiled eggs and 2 blueberry and white chocolate muffins with butter + black coffee
Snack: goji berries
Morning tea: where do I start – homemade pastries, date scone, gluten-free chocolate cake (made with 85% dark choc), lemon cake, and a few others a less grandeur
Lunch: yoghurt w/ berries, date/coconut rolls (better not buy these again except to carry while running perhaps)
Late lunch: 200g salmon, carrots, tomato
Dinner: bacon and spinach quiche w/ salad
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Yesterday I really made sure to get in enough energy for the anticipated 90+ minute run and really focus on nailing my post-run recovery. Stepping on the scales this morning I think I got it right. No change in bodyweight from the day before and I am feeling great. My legs aren’t even as sore as they have been day-to-day over the last few weeks. And this is where I have noticed the greatest benefit of eating primal. I’m not exactly sure what, how or why my recovery is boosted but I’m not going to argue about it.
Sessions lasting about 100 minutes also seem to be my training sweet spot. They get me fit and leave me feeling good.
I also noticed someone commented on the primal compromises for athletes post and I need to read it more closely when I have some free time but he made some interesting observations. I can confirm after having my VO2/lactate tested only a few weeks back that following a lower carbohydrate diet limits your ability to sustain speeds close to or above your VO2max speed. My aerobic system is very efficient though. The lactate test produced some interesting results and I need to explore this topic further to see what’s going on there. Do you need more carbohydrates to be able to handle and produce higher levels of lactate?
Weight: 168lb (no change from yesterday)
Sleep: 6h broken
Legs: 7/10 feeling a good tired, no niggles.
After a great run yesterday I’m hoping that my session at the track (or on road) will be as successful. Coach has given me some hard sessions over the last few weeks and what’s coming up over the next three days should leave me nice and toasted and looking forward to an active recovery day on Father’s Day (Sunday).
On today’s schedule is a solid fartlek session of descending intervals from 10 minutes in length down to 30” all out. I’ll start at 10k race pace and work my way down aiming to run faster throughout the session. Can’t wait!
I think I might be in for some new shoes. I have been doing all of my running in a pair of Adidas Adizero RC racing flats and they have been great but I am looking for something that is light but has a little more forefoot cushioning for some upcoming time on the trails. Perhaps some mountain races during the summer months coming up.
Diet has been going well and I will continue to refine it until I get it right.
Breakfast: 3 scrambled eggs w/ mushrooms and spinach, carrot, a handful of goji berries + black coffee
Snack: banana, apple
Post-run: Up'n'go drink, banana and goji berries. Will try and get in 20g PRO and 80g CHO to optimise recovery (?).
Lunch: 200g salmon, carrots, tomato
Dinner: Warm Moroccan lamb salad
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Weight: 168lb (-4lb…I was nearly 172lb 3 days ago)
Injury: slight Achilles tendonitis (getting better)
Session: Run (MLR)
Time of day: 4:30pm
Course: streets around work
Shoe: Adidas RC
Distance: 14 miles
Run time: 1:40
Comments: Met up with 2 very fast dudes after work. Great run!
Breakfast: fried mushrooms, peppers, spinach w/ 2 eggs and corned beef + orange
Snack: carrots, apple, figs
Lunch: cold meat, ½ avocado, tomato, carrot
Snack (2h prior to run): bananas
Pre-run (10mins): Sports drink
Post-run: bananas, goji berries, walnuts
bananas, goji berries, walnuts
Dinner: bolgnaise w/ steamed broccoli
Weight: -2 pounds (from yesterday)
Injury: slight Achilles tendonitis
Session: Running (HM pace tempo)
Time of day: 4:00pm
Course: bridge to bridge river loop
Shoe: Adidas Adizero RC
Distance: 7.1 miles steady
Run time: 46:30
Comments: It felt harder than it should. Struggling to regain fitness and speed that I had prior to July’s marathon.
Breakfast: roasted corned beef and ¼ cantaloupe + black coffee
Snack: carrots (2)
Lunch: sardines, ½ avocado, tomatoes (2), apple and figs
Post-run: figs, banana
Dinner: cold meat w/ green salad and steamed broccoli
Late snack: apple, carrot (2)
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Weight: 169lb about 6 pounds more than last month…
Injury: slight Achilles tendonitis
Time of day: 5:00am
Course: streets around home (undulating)
Shoe: Mizuno Wave Rider
Distance: 5.5miles easy
Run time: 45mins
Time of day: 12:30pm
Course: streets around work (undulating)
Shoe: Adidas Adizero RC
Distance: 6.2miles easy w/ 5 x 20sec fast (1min easy)
Run time: 45mins
Pre-run: black coffee
Breakfast: fried mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes w/ 3 eggs + banana
Snack: carrots (2), handful almonds
Lunch (post-run): chili tuna (tinned), ½ avocado, tomatoes (2), apple
Dinner: roast corned beef w/ green salad
With the completion of my goal races for the year I have been less than strict with my diet and training. While I mostly make good choices along the guidelines of the primal challenge (see www.marksdailyapple.com for details) during my downtime I have also indulged in many a sugar-laden carbohydrate treat. Last night signified that last day before I start on a 30-day personal primal challenge again and I was happy to enjoy three whole servings of self-saucing chocolate pudding, custard and ice cream. While I have more control when I am working towards a goal like a race I am not too concerned about what I eat at other times.
I had a fitness test two weeks ago which had measured my bodyfat levels at less than 8% which was a surprise to me. My VO2 and aerobic condition were all good too. Now I just need to work on my anaerobic ability to get faster at the shorter distances.
Today marks day uno of my primal challenge. If anyone wishes to join me add your name to the comments or drop me an email and together we can help each other achieve our 30 day goals. And for those that read this or followed along on the last 30-day primal challenge and wanted to give it a go….. START TODAY!! What are you waiting for…. you’ll have more energy, feel good and along the way drop a few pounds. Sounds good?!?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
weight: not recorded
feeling: good but a little heavy/bloated
sleep: a poor 4 hours
legs: worked but good, niggles improving
run: am) 45' easy (6.2 miles) w/ 5x80m strides (1min jog)
pm) another planned easy run
breakfast: scrambled eggs (3), eggplant, spinach, corned beef
pre-run: handful of sultanas
post-run: bowl of oats w/ orange juice and dried fruit
lunch: cold meat (turkey and leg ham) w/ blue cheese, lettuce, carrot, red pepper, black olives and strawberries
planned am session: 6x4min hard w/ 90sec recovery
Monday, August 18, 2008
after achieving all of my running goals that i had set myself over the last few months i have decided to take the plunge and get myself a running coach. i'm quite excited as he thinks i can improve significantly if i focus on a few areas of my training. he also knows something of me having competed with me at some of the ultra events and has been behind my thoughts of having a go at some of the overseas ultras like western states to see how i would stack up.
well after considering a few things i have decided to take a break from the ultras for a while and try and concentrate on improving my speed across distances ranging from 5k all the way through to the marathon.
i also started a new 28 day primal challenge (ok it's more a paleo modified endurance challenge but primal challenge sounds simpler). i started it yesterday to signify the start of the four week program i received from my coach and well it was my birthday so i thought now was a good time to get back into it.
personal stats (starting point):
monday and tuesday:
weight: 168lb (5 pounds up heavier)
sleep: always poor
legs: a few niggles but getting stronger
monday: am) 50' run (7 miles) // pm) 40' run w/ 9x80m strides (6m)
tuesday: am) 75' run w/ 30x100m hills (9m)// 40' run (6m)
breakfast (post-run): oatmeal w/ honey, cinnamon
lunch: bbq chicken, blue cheese, berries
dinner: chicken & veg korma w/ sweet potato
breakfast (post-run): chocolate milk, powerbar, bananas (2)
lunch: smoked salmon, prawns, blue cheese, dates, berries
dinner: bolognaise w/ steamed veggies
Friday, August 15, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
this week i am taking as an opportunity to embark on a little detraining as i aim to lose a little fitness and condition before beginning on the next cycle of athletic pursuits. i have recently hit a new performance level and i think i need to back off and allow all the gains i have made to be absorbed before laying down the foundations to take it to up another level or two.
with a little down time i am trying to make some decisions on what my next goal should be. my focus will likely change from ultramarathons to faster, shorter races on the roads, trails and in the mountains.
but serious goals? break 35mins for 10k, 2:4x something for marathon perhaps, make a national long distance running team, mountain running....? someone even put the idea on me that i should run an international ultra like western states and see how i stack up.... maybe 2010!i'll leave you with a photo taken at the start of last weekend's run. enjoy!
Monday, August 11, 2008
When I started running in 2004 I discovered an online running community and was in awe of people that would run these crazy fatass events (generally long trail self-supported running events). There was one event that really stood out for me. The people that I would see on the finishers list year after year and get to know a little about in their race reports gave them in my eyes a certain legendary status.
Who knew that two years ago when I responded to a message from one of the famed ultrarunners looking for someone to run with on the trails around home could it lead to so much? I have to someone to blame for getting me into this. During a somewhat innocent hill session at Kedumba in preparation for the Western States 2007 assault he mentioned that he was thinking about organising a "Rebel" 12 Foot for himself and other WS participants who were all heading over. Even though I had never run longer than 45km (earlier that year) I thought that I would maybe give it a go. Well that was last year where I amazed myself and finished in 11:10 (6th fastest time). It also got me thinking that a sub 11 hour time was possible but when it came around to run the official 12FT in August I was injured and unable to run. I would have to wait another 12 months before I would get another chance.
This year 2008 has been a roller coaster of highs and lows. The year started with some health issues which resulted in me not being able to compete at 6FT this year as I had surgery scheduled eight days prior to the start. Thankfully the surgery went much better than expected and I was able to resume running a couple of weeks later. I have to say a big thank you to my wonderful wife and friends who helped me though this stage of my life.
After running a 100km event in May this year my running hit a bit of low point as I struggled with motivation to start getting back into it and picking up the volume. I was eagerly reading everything I could absorb about running and training but when it came time to lacing up the shoes and getting out there I was finding too many excuses to leave it for another day. But things started coming around and I found myself entered in a local marathon. I made up a rough schedule to follow with the thoughts of running my first sub 3 hour. While the training didn't all work out as planned I found myself getting much quicker during my sessions but I couldn't get excited about getting in my long runs. With two long runs completed in the three weeks prior to the marathon I managed to achieve my sub 3 hour goal. But my body paid a penalty.
The two weeks between the marathon and 12FT was a lesson in terms of recovery and running. It took nearly a week of rest before I could start running again and in the second week I found it mentally hard to run slower than the marathon pace I had recently set. I don't think runs quicker than marathon pace for up to an hour were a good thing during a taper but I was finding myself quickly bored while running over the same routes that I regularly use in training. By the time Wednesday came I was worried that my legs would not recover enough to get me to the starting line. Thursday night I considered not running and I even told my wife that this was going to be my last ultra event for a long time.
Friday night before the event I was ready to pull out but I had offered to drive my mate up and he was meeting me at my house in the morning. I was thinking damn I'll have to run now!
After a short, sound sleep I got up early and ate my bowl of oatmeal made with rice milk, berries and dates and followed that up with a glass of apple juice, a banana and a strong cup of coffee. Mty friend arrived on time and we headed up to the start getting there nice and early which allowed us time to organise the last of our gear and catch up with the other runners. I was surprised after two days of rest how good I was feeling and it made me think that I would be able to run close to the goal I had messaged a friend the night before.
After the obligatory photo the race started right on time and we were under way. I was feeling relaxed and was running behind one of the faster runners thinking I would try and stick to him as long as I could (which I didn't expect to be very long). The track was quite wet and 300m from the start my foot slipped out from under me and I came down hard on the rocks. The pain was intense and I was immediately thinking that was it I'm heading back to the car. Runners around me offered to stop to make sure that I was alright but I didn't want to ruin anyone's run by having them wait for me. So I told them to go on. I was feeling crushed and a little emotional at how quickly my race had changed. I started running again and fell in behind just trying to take it easy down the stairs. Every step hurt and all my thoughts were of dropping out. I was thinking that I could at least get to the river and I will then see how it goes from there. This thinking started getting me angry with myself and when there was a bit of room on the trail I decided that I would start running and see if I could catch up to some of the runners ahead. I was mainly thinking that I might be able to catch up with spud and run some of the way with him.
While it hurt to run it felt great being out there again enjoying the day and trail with some other runners. I opened up my stride a little and it felt like I was running with a limp but I was making progress and before the bridge I had caught up with spud. The running between the road and the river was sensational single track at its finest and I was moving fast.
Together spud and I reached the River in 1:24 and we managed to get across without getting our feet wet. I was worried about how I would fare on the climb up to summit as my hill training was limited to a single session during my marathon preparation and I had only been on the trails once since my 100km in May. I was thinking that I would try and run with Spud as long as I could and when I went on ahead of him I fully expected that he would catch me on my next walk break. It didn't turn out that way and as I had made an arrangement with myself that I would take two of my four nurofens at the top that is what drove me on.
It felt like a real struggle on the hills reaching the top in 2:46 but luckily I felt no worse. I was running along the Range with not a lot of speed but I was still running which was a good sign. Moving along it was with some shock that I saw Tim moving up ahead and I could clearly see that he was shuffling and not having a good day. For me it was good to have his company and we ran, shuffled and walked our way to the Cabins. I was struggling a little through here but I told myself that I would be able to have a good walk break and something to eat when I reached the Caves. So with that thought I started pushing a little more and didn't realise that Tim was no longer there. When I turned around I couldn't see him and I while I thought of waiting I wanted to keep moving to closer towards the finish as I could get.
As usual the run down to the Caves felt long and steep and I was trying as hard as I could to take it easy to avoid killing my quads with the impact as I still had a long way to go. I reached the caves in 4:39 and was amused when I was running down the road towards the tap to fill up my camelbak to see someone taking pictures of me. It was great to meet Kevin Cassidy who had just made it out there to report for one of the running mags. After a brief discussion and a little difficulty turning the tap handle I filled the bladder up about three quarts and said my farewells to start the arduous climb back up.
I actually enjoy the climb from the caves as it allows me time to enjoy my surroundings and eat and drink a little more than usual. Also the pressure of running is removed for some time. I consumed a powerbar, a packet of salt and vinegar chips and washed it all down with a good swig of water. The climb out was long and uneventful and it was great when people starting passing me on the way down to the caves. I passed Tim while he was walking down to the caves and he was not looking good.
About 15 minutes later spud passed me and we exchanged encouraging words and a little after that the slow flow of other runners began passing by. By this time I think I had nearly completed most of the hard climbing and I was about ready to start running again. It's always a fun game to play with oneself trying to guess who the next runner that comes into view will be and today was no different. I expected to see some runners further along than they were and there were some that looked like the were having good days and were further along than I expected. The encouragement from a passing runner is a much welcomed reprieve from the endless hours of time spent alone on the trails.
Running from the Cabins to the campground became a bit of a blur for me and I found that I fully entered the zone where just running along is about all that I notice. I passed a few runners but the time and distance was moving along and before I knew where I was I was running down the Range. The sound of rain falling snapped me out of my trance but then I realised I wasn't getting wet and upon closer inspection I could see tiny balls of ice bouncing off me. Wow it was sleeting. I was thinking that I hoped it would snow.
By the time I had reached the summit before the long downhill back to the river it was about 2pm (6:58) and I realised that I had forgotten to fill up my bladder at the campground. With the cold weather I wasn't drinking much but I knew I was dehydrating and I needed the fluid to be able to take in my main source of calories - energy gels. I was worried being seven hours into the run with no food or water but I spent the next hour running down to the river feeling the best I had all day.
Arriving at the campground at the River I made my way straight to the tank and filled my bladder and started taking in some food, another Powerbar. Everything from my waist down was tight and feeling like it was on the verge of cramping up so I decided to wade straight through the river and see if that would bring my legs back to life.
It was now 8:06 into the run and with the coldness of the water, the food in my stomach and the drink picking me up I had a good run from the river along the single track to the Road and I was even beginning to entertain thoughts of a low 10 hour finishing time. Well those thoughts were quickly diminished when my legs starting seizing up and I was finding it harder and harder to lift up my feet. Thankfully by the time I reached the stairs (in about 9:36?) I still had plenty of light as I wouldn't have liked to have navigated my way up there in the state that I was falling into. I was now forced to use my hands on my thighs to push myself up each step and I was quickly forgetting about finishing in 10 hours and more interested in reaching the top so that I didn't have to take another step. I wanted it to be over and done with. By the time I had reached the car park it had taken me a full 46 minutes to get up those damn stairs and with Kevin and Brick egging me on to break the course record I found myself running again to the finish and the tree. I hit the stopwatch and looked at the time. 10:23!!!!!
Yahoo.... a new course record!
Here is a list of my nutrition for the 90km/10 hours or running:
* 15 Energy Gels (assorted brands and flavours)
* 2 Powerbars
* 2 Muesli bars
* 1 packet Salt and Vinegar chips
* 1 Turkish Delight (small)
* 3 litres of water
* 1 litre of Coke
* 600ml of Gatorade
* 10 Succeed caps
Looking at the list now it doesn't appear to be a lot of food considering how much energy I was likely to have burnt. Someones garmin GPS recorded 57+ miles with over 13,000 feet of elevation gain.
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