A wake up call…. that’s exactly what the Macedon 30 was. It made me remember that I’m relatively new to this running game, and I can’t back up a 100km event like some of the more experienced runners (Toby Wiadrowski backing up from TNF100 to win the Macedon 50 for example).
The Sunday between TNF and Macedon I went for a nice 10km run with a friend. This was my first run since The North Face 100. We didn’t run hard or fast, and it felt brilliant. Just to be ticking the legs over again, feeling strong, and I remember thinking I had recovered from my first 100 in a week. (I can see all the ‘experienced’ runners smirking here)
Geez was I wrong. After I finished the little training run, I jumped in the car with some mates, and went up to Marysville for a bit of a day out. Coincidently we walked some of the trails that had been part of my first ultra back in November 2012. When I got out of the car, my right leg was in a fair amount of pain, and I hobbled up and down some of the trails. Looks like I hadn’t recovered as good as I thought. It felt like my TFL but I’m still not sure.
Anyway after this little hiccup, during the week leading up to Macedon I did what I thought would get me to the start line. I just stayed off my legs and used the foam roller and spiky ball. Come race day, I felt fine. In fact, I was feeling like I was going to run a blinder.
The weather at Mt Macedon was average. By average I mean horizontal rain/sleet, freeze your ass off cold. All in all, very unpleasant. Unless of course you’re surrounded by a hundred or so other runners out to tackle the hills with smiling faces. There were a lot of familiar faces, and great to see a young fella Joel (who dominated the Baw Baw half marathon back in March) make the trip up for the run. I was fairly confident he’d podium after the speed I’d seen him run earlier in the year.
With the race briefing done, the thermals on, and some borrowed gloves from my mate Simon (yup, the same bloke that told me to smarten up at the 54km mark of TNF), we all made the way up to the start line. Race Director Brett Saxon played the last post as we walked up to the Memorial Cross, and it was something I’ll not forget quickly. I found myself walking up at the front of the pack, and just the sound of the Last Post and the hundreds of feet hitting the ground, with the wind and sleet swirling around us.
We got to the start line, turned around to run back in the direction we had just came from, and waited. I wished a few of my mates best of luck, and then we took off. It felt great to be racing again, and as I rounded the first bend Mooney yelled out that I was going out too hard. I should have clicked that he knew what he was talking about, but I felt SO GOOD!
My mate Bazza who previously focused on the Ironman events was making a come back from injury, and was powering ahead. I tried to stick with him, but decided it was a bit fast for me and backed off. Looks like he was going to have a day out.
I dropped in with AB and Daniele, and we joked about the three of us running together again. We had all finished TNF100 within minutes of each other, and it was great to share the trails with these blokes again. As we got up towards Camel’s Hump, the front runners were coming back towards us. Young Joel Claxton was sitting with the first few and flying. Then a few places back Bazza was looking strong, then a few more runners including first placed female, then I was at the turn around. Hmm, in about 11th place.
This is where I should have realised I was possibly pushing a bit hard.
At the turn around, Lucy (a young up an coming star) caught up to me, and we ran down the hill together. I asked how she was going, she was feeling great. By the time we got to the bottom, I couldn’t match her sentiments. My right leg had started to tighten just like after my training run a week earlier. It didn’t feel too bad, but I noticed it. Not good signs a quarter of the way into a race.
Lucy was preparing for the Big Red Run, a 5 day race across the Aussie Outback. She had clocked up a fast 30km run the day before, and was not ‘racing’ today. We ran the next few kms together and decided we’d stick with each other for a while.
We managed to hold our place in the field and clocked up some fast kms through the single tracks. Some of the single tracks in the first half of this race were just amazing. Undulating, technical, and just damned fun.
At about 15k we came up to a checkpoint where my brother was. By this stage I was walking hills because of the TFL, and it was a welcome sight seeing my brother up the top. We didn’t stop for much chit chat, just said g’day and pushed on.
As for the trails, I was pretty surprised how well they were holding up considering the rain from the previous day, and the drizzle that had fallen on race day. There were definitely some slippery bits (as per Dandyrunners photo below), but not as bad as what it could have been. In saying that, I did end up on all fours a few times and unfortunately came across my mate Bazza with a sprained ankle. Looks like his day was over which was unfortunate, he was sitting in 6th place.
Actually, without wanting to contradict myself, there were a few sections that were amazingly slippery. One was a real steep climb up a fire trail, and it was a case of two steps up, one slide back. There was about 5 of us trying to make it up this damn trail and all of us slipped and ate mud at one point. Quite amusing.
Anyway, Lucy and I ran strong off the back of Mt Towrong and then we dropped down off the steps onto the dirt road that lead up to the zig zags. We were told by the little support crew/aid station at the bottom of the stairs that Lucy was second place female. I told Lucy if 3rd place catches us she is to take off. I wasn’t going to be the reason Lucy missed out on a 2nd place finish.
Unfortunately this was where I started walking…. a lot.
Before here Lucy and I were looking comfortable for a 3:15 finish. Faster than I would have expected, but after tackling the zig zags and my leg getting a bit worse, we were going to be pushing it for a 3:30. I shouldn’t say ‘we’. Lucy was running as strong as ever, she just chose to stick it out with me. I recall joking that this was the day I finally stopped talking… If my blog doesn’t show it, and you haven’t spent much time with me, I’ll tell you now. I talk a lot.
Just not when I’m in one of those ‘lows’.
Some people seem to think they only happen in marathons, or ultras. I don’t know if I’m just mentally weak but I’ve hit a low in a 30km event twice. The other time I bitched and moaned as much as I did for the next 10kms was Maroondah Dam 30. I’d decided to help set the course out in 38 degree heat for 9 hours the day before the race. Not the smartest move, and Brett I’m sorry but I wont be doing that again.
There were glimpses of speed (ok, by this I mean I jogged and didn’t walk) over the final stretch. Lucy motivated me by getting excited with every km we knocked off. We overtook a few people that were in the 30, who I couldn’t recall ever overtaking us. This got me confused because Lucy and I hadn’t stopped at a checkpoint for the whole race. So how did people get in front? Turns out a group of about 15 runners in the 30km event went the wrong way. Having talked to a mate who was part of this group, he’d been lucky enough to miss out on the slippery hill and the technical down and up through the pine section where Dandy Runner (Erwin) took the happy snap of me doing the one footed ‘slide’ dance. This was confirmed when we compared the GPS maps after the race.
The joys of running trails 🙂 Actually, having talked to the sweepers (who did an AMAZING job), apparently they found a fair few arrows thrown off the side of the tracks. Looks like some of the many walkers out there had decided to play a prank on us.
With a few kms to go we overtook some of the 50km runners and they said Lucy and I looked fresh. I don’t know if it’s etiquette to say people look good when they are in pain but there was no way I could have looked ‘fresh’. I felt like I’d received the ultimate corky on my right leg.
With 2kms to go I did something I never thought I’d do… I used a walking stick. Well, it was a branch, but it allowed me to take some weight off the leg. This eventually got thrown in the bush as Lucy pointed out there was 1km to go. We got to the car park with a few hundred metres to go, and broke into a trot. Through the mist I could see the gantry lit up, and we were going to finish in the 3:30’s. The little victories 🙂
We ended up crossing in 3:37 and I have to admit I was absolutely stoked to have finished. Less then a minute later 3rd place female crossed over the line, looks like if I was any slower Lucy would have had to leave me. Adrian and Daniele came in within the next ten minutes, and they looked as relieved as I did. Not long after finishing, the Trails+ race director Brett Saxon called myself, Matt Bell and Jamie Smith up to the front of the crowd. He kindly presented us with a donation for The Milk Run. A fundraiser Matt and Jamie with their partners and support crew set up to raise money for The Royal Women’s. For more information check out the websitehttp://www.thewomens.org.au/TheMilkRun
Thank you very much Brett, donations like this are very much appreciated. You helped us put The Milk Run tally up over $18,000. Thank you.
Once I had changed into some warm clothes, I joined some friends and fellow runners to cheer on the winners of the ultra and other runners coming in from the trails. The results went as follows;
Dan Beard (winner of the Prom 100 two weeks earlier)
Joel Claxton (Knew he’d smash it!)
Lucy ‘life saver’ Bartholomew
I ended the day having a few drinks in a friends spa (who put in a great performance in the 50km event) reminiscing about the day. This is what trail running is about… or at least part of it. The friendships and the laughs you have on and off the beaten track.
All in all a great day, and can’t wait for the next Trails+ race up in the You Yangs. Thanks for taking time out to read my blog. I’m now taking 3 weeks off… completely. These legs need a rest.
Run strong and enjoy the trails