Monday, 15 October 2012

Ups and Downs

It's been quite the year of running for me, not that you'd know it from the blog. 

After Alpine, I sorted out my health and decided to do the Coburg 24 Hour race. Then Pop (my paternal grandfather) fell ill and my brother came home from Singapore to see him on the weekend of Coburg. That put me in Victoria on the right weekend, but several hours outside of Melbourne, so I missed out, although I got to watch a bit of it after dropping my brother back at the airport.

I caught a cold or the flu in June, just in time for the Oxfam Trailwalker, which I did with Mallani, Ruth and Sara. We were the second female team home in 19 hours 45 minutes or so. It was probably a fair bit slower than what we were capable of, but these things happen. I had a nasty cough—my asthma always plays up after having the flu (which is why I suspect flu, not a cold, was the culprit)—and by the end of the race I had lost my voice. I had an asthma attack on the way home, but the next day I did a few gentle reps up the Kokoda Track in Mt Coot-tha. I was pretty fit.

I went on to try the Sri Chinmoy 24 hour race at Blacktown (west of Sydney) the following weekend, but that nasty cough wouldn't leave me and as the sun went down my peak flow plummeted with it. By 8:00 pm I was wearing nearly all of my clothing and still feeling cold; having only covered 80 km in 10 hours I decided it was best to go have a hot shower and a sleep. The temperatures went negative that night, so I think it was an excellent decision; the following week, my doctor agreed with me. 

A longer course of Prednisone sorted out my asthma and got me back to a decent level of respiratory health ready for my New Zealand ski trip in July. I didn't sign up for anything until after this, lest I break a leg on the slopes. I am a klutz, after all. When I came back, I signed up for the Caboolture 48 hour race and then panicked at the thought of it. But I calmed myself with the thought of having run in the wilderness for 46 hours before; I fronted up and ran 272.822 km to become the women's national champion and third place overall.

Five weeks later I went to Matt Cooper's Ultra Made Spring Training Camp at Fitzroy Falls, with Ruth. It actually snowed on us as we drove in, which was a bit crazy, and the whole weekend was cold. The people were amazing, though, and I made many new friends. Coops has a great philosophy on running and life and how to experience 'Present Energy'. The camp focused on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels of running rather than the physical. I noticed during the camp that my hip flexors were still very fatigued from Caboolture, but this didn't stop me from running up a hill with 480 m vertical in 4 km of track; nor did it prevent me from running up 5 km of a big hill 15 km into a run on the Monday.

Glasshouse rolled up two weeks after camp. It didn't sink in until much later that this was only seven weeks after Caboolture. So my hip flexors were still sore. But the whole run was a comedy of errors for me. I had been too optimistic in my planning, so lights were in the wrong drop bags; it was colder than expected, so I dropped my morning thermals in the wrong bag; my shoes were too loose at the start (toe jam) and too tight later (foot cramps and bruising) and my spares were a long way away at the 107 km checkpoint. My tight hip flexors ended up upsetting my lower back badly (perhaps the sacroiliac joint) and I ended up quite swollen in the region. Despite that, I ran a 2 hour 20 minute 100 mile PB of 26 hours and 4 minutes and I didn't get sick, lost or run over by a 4WD.

Now I'm seriously enjoying relaxing, studying and fixing my back up with some Bikram yoga. The focus is all on Alpine next year, where I am going to run 32 – 36 hours, but preferably the former.

I've been sharing lots of my knowledge with friends recently, and I've realised that I should share some of this knowledge with the world instead, so that's what I'll be blogging in the near future. Here's an outline of some things I've learnt, which I may post about in the coming weeks:
  1. Iron deficiency can apparently lead to stomach upsets in races. Both Mallani and I have been less sick during races since sorting this out.
  2. I can run up most hills, so long as I keep it light and relaxed. 
  3. I can get by on much less food and water than I think I need.
  4. I don't need to sip water; if I am thirsty I can drink, and if my mouth is dry I can rinse and spit.
  5. Power naps work a treat in long races.
  6. Not all foot care routines are equal, nor are all foot fungus creams.
  7. I make the best trail bars.