Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Leaving home

As we drove away from Victoria Park on Sunday, I wondered at this outside world that existed, that had kept going in its usual rhythm the whole time I had followed my own rhythm around that racetrack. Time was distorted—the previous weekend's visits to shops and cafés felt like yesterday in a strange, I–have–no–memories–outside–of–this–venue kind of way, as if I'd been asleep for a week.

I felt as if I were leaving home—a home I both loved and hated. A home where I couldn't bear to stay and couldn't bear to leave. And there is always so little fuss at the end of these races!

I need to ponder this six day race before I can write properly. In some ways it was easier than a 48 hour race—for a start, I got to sleep—and in other ways much, much harder.

But this bit can't wait—because when I am running, it is so hard to communicate how much I appreciate everything that others are doing for me. Thank you to:

  • my wonderful crew, Carol Russell and Chris Knowles. Both of you are phenomenal runners with a strong history of crewing and I'd recommend you for any crew duties. There is no way this sport is an individual one, and you guys made the perfect team. No way would I swap you. (But I'll add Ruth once she's available—and she gets a special side mention for lending me her husband for a week!)
  • my brilliant friend and future dietitian, Mandy Noble, who not only wrote my nutrition plan but also answered every question my crew sent during the six days, and kept checking up on me when she didn't hear news. I think it's the combination of being an elite ultra runner, a scientist, and a mum—wrapped together with passion and intelligence—that makes you so good at what you do. Your nutrition plan worked so perfectly that aside from the shin pain, I had no muscle soreness the whole time. The massage therapist was amazed.
  • the medical team: RebeccaMichael (whom my crew hassled at all hours), Jens (who never signed up for the gig, but saw we needed help and stepped in), and Susan. One word for your work: wow. You all worked so hard to keep the runners on track (literally) and it's no coincidence that many runners attributed their final results to your awesome work. And I'm not using 'awesome' lightly—on more than one occasion, you worked miracles for me.
  • my old and new friends at the course—you all had a kind word for me when I was struggling through severe shin pain. It's a special kind of friendship that forms at these events, and it's the reason why even if you're crew-less, you're still part of a team—we get each other through these races. I can't speak for everyone, but I believe I speak for most of us when I say there is no pleasure in this game without seeing our friends reach their potentials. The usual suspects were all there—crazy bastards like Billy and Barry L and Kevin—and the wonderful SARRC guys, especially Barry M and Matt, who are like long-lost brothers for me. Special mention to Karen B for the laughs, Sarah for keeping me honest, Dave for the heckling and banter about our relative positions—you certainly pushed me to a higher total—and to Vlastik and John, who freely shared their knowledge and experience with less experienced runners. (And I stole John's wear–a–towel idea. Brilliant!)
  • a super special mention goes out to Annabel and Karen C who have been my race sisters for several events now, and are always so supportive, kind and gracious, no matter what they're going through (e.g. horrendous shin pain or the world's nastiest sunburn)—two absolutely beautiful women who don't mind getting a little feral when it's called for. Another special mention to Cassie, who should've been there—we missed your smiles and your determination.
  • those of you who kept in touch throughout the race. I'm sorry I couldn't respond to everything on Facebook, but my crew gave me a rundown and it gave me a real lift. Extra special thanks to those of you who took the time to call or send a text message—I loved reading them before nap time.
  • everyone else at the venue—other runners' crews; the race staff, who took excellent care of us; the randoms who came along to see the freak show (some of whom kept coming back to check up on us); the council security guard for not locking the toilet block; and everyone else that I've probably forgotten.
  • my parents, who think I'm totally mad, but still picked my whole team up from the airport late at night. Love you guys!
That's enough for now, and I apologise to those whom I failed to mention. It is definitely my failure, because you were all so wonderful and made a significant contribution to my achievement.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Glasshouse 100

I've entered the 100 km, but my main goal is to have a good time and get in that last training run. If it starts to feel like I'm pushing, I'll pull the pin.

I still did up a race plan, though. I've assessed the relative difficulty of each section and factored that in, working off a goal time to approximate time through each checkpoint. It doesn't factor in stoppage time—it's your average pace from leaving one checkpoint to leaving the next checkpoint.

Here it is, in various formats:

Please don't ask me to fix it or change it for you, as I'm extremely busy at the moment and the best I can offer is this upload of files you can work with yourself.

Happy trails!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Life, too, is temporary

Last night I heard the news of a friend's death. It hit me hard; I felt stunned and disoriented, as if I'd been sucker punched by a stranger on the street. The news had gone around earlier in the day on Facebook, but I'd been busy and focused at work, and I'd completely missed it.

So the first I heard of it was while I sat waiting for my enchilada at Guzman y Gomez, nibbling on jalapeños and sipping a frozen margarita, and flicking away from a rather frustrating Skype conversation with some developers. Messages in his memory flooded my stream; I sent a few messages back and forth with some friends and then wandered around the CBD in a daze, struggling to come up with what a few hours earlier had seemed like a very simple public transport plan.

Roger was a permanent feature at Glasshouse events, and several other events in Australia. He was very much a part of my extended running family. He was a quirky runner—everyone had heard of his shirt-in-the-bucket trick—and humble, too. Many of us expected him to pass us (or just be ahead from start to finish) but he never made a fuss about it.

I'm generally pretty good at letting go of things. I dropped my bike the other day and I'm spewing to have damaged it, but ultimately I recognise that it's just a bike, a thing. Its perfect condition was only ever going to be temporary.

I am reminded that life, too, is temporary.

I am reminded that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. There is no guarantee of later today. There is only now.

If I want the important people in my life to know I love them, there is only now.

If I want to run another beautiful step, there is only now.

If I want to eat a scoop of gelato, even though it's 9 p.m. on a cold, windy night in Brisbane, there is only now—which I like to think is why so many people were queued up last night to do exactly that.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Top Ten Tips for Caboolture 48 Hour

Next Friday marks my third visit to the Caboolture 48 Hour race. I've greatly enjoyed both prior experiences, so I thought I'd share a few tips:

1. Take it easy

That means don't go out too hard. It's easy to do, but you'll want plenty of energy overnight. It's easier to stay awake and alert if you're running, which in turn makes it easier to run—it's like a magic upward spiral!

I like to nap if I'm falling asleep, too. But it has to be legitimately falling asleep on my feet, slowing me down to the point that there's no use to being on the track any more. This works well in those nasty hours between 1 and 6 a.m., when I fall asleep on my feet and spend more time zigging and zagging than progressing around the track. For me, if my pace drops to 4 km/h, I know I can spend 20 minutes off the track and still manage 4 km in the remaining 40 minutes (which is only 6 km/h). I rarely take that long off the track, though. I like 12 minute naps, and I sleep on my belly to stop my hip flexors from seizing up.

I take walk breaks on my eating laps. I try to run most of the event, not because I think it's faster but just because my body seems to hold together better. Most of my biomechanical issues were associated with my particular variation of heel-striking, so I switched styles, but walking is now an awful experience for me.)

2. Protect your feet

The track at Caboolture is made of decomposed granite (or something that sounds like that, and is effectively dirt and little gravelly bits). The dust has a way of getting into your shoes, as do tiny pebbles. So I highly recommend wearing trail gaiters—the kind that fixes to your shoe with Velcro and/or hooks.

I also like to clean and dry my feet when I change shoes and socks every 12–16 hours. I usually just bring ample baby wipes.

My feet swell by the end, so I bring some slightly larger shoes.

This year I'll also be using ENGO patches.

3. Be prepared for the heat…and the cold

Most people thing that, being in South-East Queensland, this race will be hot. It usually is, so be prepared to keep yourself cool. I like to keep ice in my esky for cool drinks, and I soak a Buff and wear it as a neck tube to help cool me down.

I also wear a hat and sunnies, and cover a lot of my flesh and wear sunscreen. I love this sport but I don't want to die for it—I'll skip the melanoma thanks. I use a spray sunscreen that doesn't need to be rubbed in, so it's quick to apply and doesn't get my hands greasy—the easier it is, the less likely I am to delay using it. I like the Neutrogena ones, and they offer some that can go on wet (i.e. sweaty) skin.

Caboolture is usually hot, but not always. It can be cool. It can be darn cold overnight, with mist. I've seen a foreign runner circling the track in a space blanket, which I don't recommend. When I first spotted him, I thought he was some angel of death wandering through the mist with gossamer wings. Yeah, I was pretty out of it.

I like a balaclava to keep my neck and face warm, and to cover my nose if the air is cold enough to unsettle my asthma. I wear windproof gloves and several layers, and I usually don't bother taking off the bottom layers until I start to get warm on day two. My favourite garment is a windproof soft-shell vest I bought at Kathmandu (similar to this one) because it keeps my core warm, and my extremities can do what they like.

4. Be prepared for the wet…and the dry

When the track at Caboolture is wet, it feels more like concrete. Maybe even like concrete that hasn't quite set. My feet swelled up on the wet year, which caused more blisters than grit ever has.

At the opposite extreme, this race occurs during the time of year we get our famous Westerly Winds. These winds will suck the moisture right out of you, even when it's not hot. I got quite dehydrated in the first few hours of my first attempt, because of these winds. Sweat evaporated from my skin before I noticed it was there, and I was constantly losing moisture with each exhaled breath, and needing to moisten my mouth all the time. I get around this by covering my face when the conditions are dry, but it takes some getting used to.

Be wary of drinking too much plain water when it's dry and windy. Often I find I'm not thirsty—I just have a dry mouth. So I rinse and spit, and save the drinking for when I can guzzle a good cupful.

5. Nutrition: have options

I find it easier to manage my nutrition if I can top up electrolytes, energy and fluids separately.

That said, I prefer solid foods in these long races, so I always have a plenty of options. Some of my favourites have been: Snickers bars, cheese and tomato sandwiches, felafel patties, plain yoghourt with raspberries, pasta, liquorice, cookies, chocolate-coated coffee beans, liquorice tea, baby custards in squeeze packs, flavoured milk, soft drinks, hot coffee with sweetened condensed milk, and Peach Tea GU Brew (I seriously can not get enough of this stuff).

I keep gels on the table, but I rarely want them. I force-feed them to myself when I don't want to eat at all but know I need the energy.

It's nice to plan everything out but sometimes you just need a quick fix. Fortunately, ultrarunners get a miracle cure for this: soup. It's got calories, electrolytes and fluids all rolled into one convenient and tasty package!

6. Be kind to your crew

If you're fortunate enough to have conned someone into sitting there and handing you food for 48 hours, and maybe even helping you change your shoes, you better show it. Be kind to your crew, even if they don't get things quite right first go. They'll be the ones waking you up when you're falling asleep at 3 a.m., so don't give them an incentive to leave you in the tent.

If you didn't bring crew, be extra-super-nice to anyone who helps you out along the way. They'll feel appreciated, and be more inclined to help you next time you need something. But if they're at the event specifically to crew for another runner, respect that and expect them to address their runners' needs first.

Warning: you're about to hit the hippy shit here.

7. Give and receive energy

It's the people that make these races special. Participate fully. Encourage others. Be encouraged by others. Get to know your competitors. Share stories. Share highlights and lowlights. Feel the energy that everyone brings to the race and contribute your part. It's these emotions that you'll remember long after the pain fades away.

8. Make every step beautiful

The harder it is to run beautifully, the more you need to do it. As we tire, our form may slip. If that happens, we are more likely to hurt our bodies. Forces become unbalanced, we end up with twisted hips or too much weight falling on one foot, and as we compensate it gets worse and worse. I often find I can fix these niggles by focussing on making every step beautiful. And if that fails, I get a massage.

9. Make every breath perfect

Nutrition is important, but it's got nothing on oxygen. Stand tall to make space for your lungs, so you can breathe fully and deeply. If the air is dry, cover your face or breathe through your nose when you can. I often find my intercostals and diaphragm are very fatigued at the end of the race. Breathing deeply helps me relieve some discomfort in these areas. More importantly, it helps me focus on something simple, and clear my mind of worry.

10. Enjoy every moment

There will be challenges. It's how we face those challenges that will determine how we feel about our race. Ultimately, most of us do this event for the challenge, so when these things crop up we should be delighted.

If you can find the humour in your discomfort, and take joy from small victories along the way (yours or others'), celebrate the sunrise, celebrate the sunset, dance to your favourite song, smile at someone, you will find this one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life. Not just in hindsight, but throughout the whole thing.

Have fun out there!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Race day is nigh

Another taper is upon me. I've tapered a little earlier this time, I guess, though not intentionally—just a few busy weeks.

I have big goals for this race, and no niggles (yet) to give me an excuse not to race. It's not that I don't want to race, of course—I'm just scared of these goals I've set. This fear has the potential to make the next couple of weeks far less pleasant than a taper should be.

Thinking more carefully on this experience, I realised: my goals for this race are fundamentally the same as for every race I do. The only difference is that, this time, I've actually encapsulated those goals in a model of my capabilities and printed a number on that metaphorical package. At the moment, the number is 340. It might change, which is OK, because the number is arbitrary. It doesn't really mean anything.

It's about the feeling.

So, here are my real, deep-down, honest goals for the Caboolture 48hr:

  1. Make every step beautiful.
  2. Make every breath perfect.
  3. Enjoy every moment.
To my fellow runners—

I look forward to bringing my energy and joy to this event, and to partaking in the energy and joy that you bring. I look forward to working with you to create meaning in these meaningless numbers with kindness, compassion, camaraderie and a darn good sense of humour. Because we all know we're going to need it ;)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Results

Well, that was a surprise: 100 km in 9 hours, 37 minutes and 15.10 seconds.

And not just a road 100 km—this was the Gold Coast 100, on an out-and-back course we repeat four times, which features not only road but also footpath, and a dirt track, a park with some sandy bits, lots of pedestrians, narrow bridges, road crossings without marshals, hills, etc., and this year a nasty headwind every time we turned south.

I fell into step with a runner called Chris and we chatted our way through most of the first 22 km. I kept my iPod running, not because I needed it but because the on/off switch is broken and if I leave it idle too long, it shuts down and I have no way of switching it back on. There were a few spots we weren't entirely sure of whether we were in the right place, but I don't think it'd make a difference to the distance.

At about 15 km, John Pearson came out of the loo at Bilinga Surf Club in front of me. I thought, poor bastard, he must've been in there a while if I've caught up to him. After sussing out his goals, I was only mildly concerned, because he said he'd have a lot of work to do in the back half, but wanted to head out easily.

But then as we approached the 22.5 km checkpoint, Chris pointed out we were almost on five-minute pace. OOPS. I backed off in a hurry, hoping I hadn't done too much damage.

I felt comfortable, and I'd been chatting, already consumed four gels, and even tried a bite of banana. The various niggles were still present but not constant, just reminding me occasionally that they hadn't forgotten me. I knew I'd make at least one more lap.

The downside of running too fast (aside from fear of blowing up later) was that I beat Mark back to the checkpoint. Luckily, Geoff Tomlins was on hand to help me get organised, put my gel flask away and my vest, get some fresh gels out, etc. I hope I can repay his kindness at the 24 hr this weekend.

The next 25 km was quite painful, but I pushed on. It was cool weather but quite dry, and I was trying to get in as much fluid as possible. I also needed some salt as I wasn't absorbing enough fluid. In this lap, I had a few tummy cramps, though I think they were muscular rather than related to gastric upset. I'm guessing this is where my psoas muscles were sorting themselves out.

I finally found the boy at 37.5 km, where he rode up on his bike complaining that I ran too fast. Hey, not my fault! I pushed on, and by the time I got to 50 km he'd picked up Radar along the way, so I got a full cheer squad. Sadly, they then went to the pub to celebrate Radar's birthday, and I didn't have anyone to prep my sports drink for me. I didn't know this, so I got very worried that he'd been knocked off his bike by a bogan or something. I even took my phone out and switched it off airplane mode to see if anyone had called me. I also waited longer than I probably should have to mix up a sports drink, hoping rather lazily that someone would show up to do it for me—lesson for next time.

I really didn't enjoy all the traffic on the course, with some of the drivers being quite aggressive, and the views were excellent as we went along the beachfront, but not so great in Jefferson Lane. The pedestrian traffic was also annoying—most were happy to make way for us, but it took a while to get their attention! It was a real comfort when Mark came back to cheer me along, or as he rode past and I knew I'd see him at the checkpoint…but despite his calming effect, I still had a strong urge to elbow strangers out of the way! I consoled myself with the reassuring thought that I could drop out whenever I wanted, if it got too painful or if I dropped below the goal pace.

The problem was, it didn't, and I didn't. Okay, that's not really a problem, it's a blessing. My body was actually feeling better and better with every step I took (aside from the one where I nearly tripped over the kerb). And I was still well under my ten hour target pace (which I'd mocked up the day before the race, factoring in time at checkpoints and a slow down rate). So I kept going.

As I came into the 62.5 km turn I realised I'd just hit a significant 6 hour personal record. My previous best had been the 61.7 km I clocked during a research trial at the University of the Sunshine Coast, but as that had involved rest every hour in air conditioning, I wasn't sure how that would compare to a continuous 6 hour run. But I turned in under 5 hours 50 minutes, so I figure I must have gotten up over 64 km this time. I couldn't believe it when I went through 75 km in 'about 7 hours 10 minutes' (actually five minutes faster).

And then I had to run another 25 km. Whose idea was that, anyway?

By now, some of the runners were really struggling. To a few of the walkers, I said, 'Don't lie to yourself. Does it really hurt any more when you run?' When I saw them later on, they were running again. Even though we're competing against each other, it's a very supportive sport. We know our biggest opponents are our minds and bodies, not the other runners. And sometimes, spurring on another runner can give you the motivation you need to move quicker towards the finish line. It's a strange hobby, this one.

Marita Eisler's focus was very impressive as was her resulting 8 hour and 8 minutes run—she still gave me a wave every time she came past, though. And Nikki Wynd looked like there was nowhere in the world she'd rather be, as if every step was an absolute joy. Shannon-Leigh Walker also ran strongly for the whole run, but in the end was lucky not to be overtaken by Kerry Hodge—there was only a minute in it, and I reckon Kerry could've run for another hour, easily. (See the results!)

When Kerry had passed me approaching the final turnaround at 87.5 km, and Mark told me I could catch her but, quite frankly, I knew I couldn't. I had enough left to run strongly to the end, but that was about it.

As I went through the turnaround I told him that I was stuffed but I was 'damn well going to make that ten hours'. I'm always doing the math in my head, trying to figure out if I'll make it. I was pretty sure I was going to make it, but there's always a chance the math is wrong. Mark told me I was going to make it. And I think he even gave me a kiss even though I had severe gel-and-Coke breath. Ew.

That final turn was also the highlight of my race because I realised I'd eaten 17 gels and could probably get by on just Coke to the end…though at 90 km I reconsidered, and decided I best take one more just in case—my last Salted Caramel GU.

I ran the best I could all the way to the finish, coming in 10 minutes faster than my 'if everything goes perfectly well' plan, and some two hours better than I've ever done before. More importantly, I felt better than I had before the race, with my niggles all ironed out by the distance.

It's taken my tummy a while to recover—it took me five small meals to add up to a whole dinner—but I'm back to eating normally now, and I even managed a 5 km walk the day after the event.

What would I do differently? I'd go out a wee bit slower, but not as slowly as I'd originally planned. I'd put my phone upright in my pocket instead of on its side, so it didn't bruise me. I'd keep my face covered to reduce dehydration, and I'd drink my GU Electrolyte Brew sooner, for the same reason. And aside from that, pretty much nothing.

Except maybe pick a nicer course.

Caboolture counts as 'nicer', right? ;)

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Expectations

With this post, I aim to set realistic expectations for tomorrow's 100 km.

I've had worrying niggles since last Wednesday and thought I might not make the start line.

Concentrated rest, stretching, massage and a couple of test jogs (plus a tasty bolognese with a charming young man, oh and Mark ;) LOL) lead me to think the start line is mine.

The finish? Well, that depends. I want a good time, preferably in both senses (speedy and fun). But at least in one.

If it's neither, I'll probably drop out, and that 'probably' becomes a 'definitely' if I think I'm doing long term damage to these niggles, because Caboolture 48 Hour is soon after, and way more important to me. 

So if you see along the way that I've dropped out, please don't be disappointed for me—it just means my body wasn't ready on the day and I made a decision to look after it, rather than push it beyond repair.

Thank you, and goodnight!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Time passes, things change

Somehow, Alpine Challenge stopped being my goal race, and it has become something I'll do simply for the pleasure. (Or maybe the stupidity. I'll let you know which one it is, after Adelaide. Which is after Caboolture.)

I've been doing some big training lately, with back to back long runs or multiple sessions per day, trying to get my endurance fitness up. I guess I was supposed to do more quality training, and focus on getting faster, but it didn't happen, and now it's just shy of two weeks until the first of three races I'm doing this year: the Gold Coast 100.

As I started to build my base I branched out into multisport (again), and I can honestly say that while I preferred Clive's overnight adventure paddle/run up at Cooloola, the company at the Kingy Tri was hard to beat.

Having completed a 40 km cycle as part of the triathlon, my next step was (of course) to sign up for the Ipswich Imperial 100 mile bike ride. Many thanks to Gooner for the 90 km training ride I did on the weekend in between, and to Susannah's bike mechanic who gave me an excuse to rest part way through the event.

This weekend just gone was the Warwick Pentath-Run, which I haven't been to since 2006. Here's a photo from my first year there, in 2005:



Back then I scored a whole lot of medals in my age group. It was for the same reason I was getting medals at most events—because I was so young. Back in the mid-noughties, there weren't so many under-25 distance runners as there are now.

When I went back in 2006, I entered the opens because I figured I was in a more competitive age group and wouldn't get any medals…and if I did, I didn't really have any use for them. I remember picking up a lot of prize money that year, because most of the good runners entered age groups instead of opens. Right place, right time.

Back then, my overall time was 3 hours, 27 minutes and 33 seconds. I was over five minutes slower in the half marathon, 90 seconds faster in the XC, 40 seconds slower in the 5 km, a minute slower in the 10 km and…

Wait for it…

I clocked exactly the same time for the 1500m—5 minutes and 54 seconds.

So maybe that's one thing that doesn't change.

I've done a quick calculation and I come up with a total time this year of 3 hours, 23 minutes and 38 seconds. Yeah, happy with that. I'd like to be able to push myself to hurt, though—I always seem to stop short of that, often due to my breathing getting out of control (in a not-asthma-just-a-lack-of-fitness kind of way).

So here are my real successes for this Pentath-Run:

  • I ran without a watch. The whole thing. Well, without a clock, anyway—I accidentally wore my watch, so I just switched the watch face to show that it was always Beer Time, like this:


  • I ran without being plugged in. As I ramped up my training, I got into the habit of listening to music for company. But sometimes my batteries will run out and sometimes I won't find the track I want—I must not become dependent upon this 'friend'. 
  • It kinda goes with the other two, but I also ran with no heart rate monitor or GPS tracking.
  • I ate hash browns for breakfast both days, proving that (contrary to popular belief amongst runners) fried food does not* unsettle one's stomach (where one equals me).
Until next time!

*It might. It just didn't upset mine.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

USC Research Project—6 hours of running, with crew, for free!

So my morning involved climbing out of bed at 2:45 am to jump in the car and drive to the University of the Sunshine Coast for a research study into the effect of a 6 hour run on brain activity (tested via EEG both relaxed and carrying out maths tasks) and mood (tested with some quizzes).

The first delightful discovery was that I have brain activity. Win for Tam!

Then I saw a stunning sunrise with colours scattered across the clouds. Soon after, those clouds dumped their contents on me, which provided blissfully cool relief from the steamy (but not yet hot) morning, but sadly caused a little chafing. A guy who seemed to be an electrician joked that I only had 50 laps to do. Not far from the truth, buddy. (He acknowledged this some hours later.)

Things took a turn for the worse when the little rugby dudes and their parents turned up, and suddenly my 1.2 km loop was scattered with obliviously roaming individuals…but I kept plodding out my laps, trying to avoid them.

When the sun came out I forgot to apply sunscreen for a few laps, so I came out with a shockingly uneven leg tan and a little redness on my nose. Bugger.

It was nice to chill out every hour in the air conditioning (for about 7 minutes), even if it involved having an EEG cap on my head and carrying out various tasks, but it wasn't so nice starting again afterwards. Still, after half a lap of discomfort I felt better.

The researchers were ever attentive, with offers of cold drinks and gels and even a bakery run. I've had a lot of good crew at races over the year, but with these guys I really felt loved. It was awesome! :D I stuck with Hammer Gels, an Emma & Tom Bar and a can of Fanta (plus water and salt). And a post-run can of Coke, which was the one disappointment—where was my beer? ;)

Emanuele was there to recharge and switch on my iPod, which has a broken power button and therefore runs itself to flat and can only be switched on when it's plugged in. It came in handy during the last two hours when the heat started to get to me. It was fascinating to watch the heart rate monitor and see my heart rate jump 5–10 beats per minute every time the sun came out and drop again the few times the clouds came in.

In the end, I did 61.7 km around a 1.17 km loop (approx) in 6 hours of run time, and about 6  hours 35 minutes of elapsed time (allowing for the 5 x 7 minutes of testing, during which the clock was stopped). I'm super happy with this because I'm not training much at the moment and it was hot and humid. At 6 hours of elapsed time I checked the distance, too, and it was about 55 km, which I think is a 6 hr PB. Double extra win for Tam!