Marathon — the obvious one right? After all, it’s a running blog, what else starts with ‘M’?
And yes it may be true that this post is going to conclude with thoughts on my next attempt at the M-word but the letter M has meant so much more over the last couple of months.
Post Surf Coast Century I was macaronic and miserable; a rolled ankle – just a flesh wound but compounded by a further 70km of hard punishment — had caused a bad case of inflammation on my right foot (not the one I usually roll) which made it pretty damn impossible to put any weight on it for the best part of a week.
In addition, I managed to get a blister under the big toe on my left foot.
All of this put me out of action for the best part of 10 days, which was frustrating as, apart from the rolled right ankle and my left toe nail looking well and truly dead, I felt pretty good, I felt like going for a run, my feet just wouldn’t let me.
Slowly I got myself back up on the metaphorical treadmill and began to eek out 5km runs, a few days a week, and I watch my weekly average drop from 60-100km to a mere 30km at best – maddening!
But then a serious bout of FOMO got the better of me and I found myself signed up for my triumphant come-back to running — but in New South Wales. Yup. I was going to Bathurst.
The marvellous and malevolent
Mount Panorama Punish
Just one lap of the Mount Panorama Racetrack is 6.2km with 182m of elevation gain, which is basically up one side of the mountain and down the other.
There are strict cut-offs in place – to top of the hill (about 3km) in 30mins or less then finished and off the course inside an hour.
6km inside an hour, easy right?
Well, yes and no. Yes easy, but it’s a steep hill and I wanted to get around quick.
A ‘practice lap’ on the Saturday night gave me a chance to eyeball the hill and make sure I can get around in good time.
The top of the uphill section was steep, very, very steep — as you wind through ‘the cutting’, but the opposite downwards run through ‘the esses’ is just as steep and 10 times as fun.
I completed my gentle run around the track in 40mins – perfect, call that qualification for race day and a target to beat.
Sunday morning comes and I was ready to go, the roar of a classic V8 signals the start of the run and all 600+ runners are off, running down the Start/Finish straight.
I powered up the hill as fast and as consistently as I could manage, although I did have to walk the final section of ‘the cutting’ but managed to hit the 3km timing marker at 17.10.
The course has flattened a bit up there and I go full steam ahead into the downhill section managing to get into the low 3min/k pace through ‘the esses’ before throttling back into the mid 4min range for the remainder.
An epically fun event that everyone should do at some point!
It’s been nearly two months and all this 30km/week stuff is getting metagnostic. In fact I am developing a serious case of monomania in my pursuit of understanding why when I choose to go and run 20/30/40km that my body refuses to play along.
I have heard people say that it takes a good month to get a marathon out of your legs, it makes sense that this would take longer for 100km, maybe 2.5x longer – but I am hopeful I can use my fitness and strength training to accelerate my recovery.
I know I said I was done for the year, in terms of mega-distances – but I want more.
So, on a whim, on pressure from FOMO, on the bloody mindedness that I can run another marathon this year and that – maybe just maybe – I can qualify for the 56k at Two Bays, I find I have hit the submit button on Run For The Young, in Lilydale. 42km – from Lilydale Lake to Woori Yallock and back.
This brings us to the second week in November and an impromptu trip to French Island for an impromptu 50k attempt with Chris Wright.
Nothing quite shocks the system into running for a long time than going to a place where:
- You have to carry everything you need (enough food and water) – no resupply.
- You have a time limit or you are stranded for the night.
- You want to run to the other side (some 30km from the ferry terminal).
It would be a long day, covering more distance in one day than I had accumulatively over the week for the past three or so weeks but this French Island trip had been on the wish list for a while and it was happening.
The lady in the shop, on the mainland didn’t think we would make it all the way around, she suggested a run to and from the general store on the island and maybe a run up to Fairhaven campsite and back were at the limits of what we could achieve, so challenge accepted.
We needed to be back for the 4:30pm ferry so at three hours in, some 25km around the island, we had to cut the intended route short – missing the northeast corner of the island by less than 10km – if only we had another hour or two up our sleeve, but we’d never make it back in time.
The biggest impact of the run, was psychological.
The island is long and thin – maybe only 7 or 8km north to south, but maybe 35km east to west and the road and trail system there is a series of patchwork squares bordering farmland and national park along roads which are dead straight and just never seem to end, I found myself wishing for a corner, a switchback, anything to change the horizon from the sea in the distance and this long, straight road heading towards it.
By the time I reached the General Store, with about 20 minutes to spare before it shut up shop for the day, I was spent, but I had achieved a slow 44km over the course of six hours and it was nice to sit down, and have something cold to drink.
By the time I got back to Melbourne, it was late and all I wanted to do was change into some non-running gear but as Chris remarked:
“You’re not moving like someone who has just run 44km”, which I guess is a good thing.
The next day I felt pretty good, minimal issues, just a bit tired. Prospects for the marathon, a week and a half away – promising.
Mabsoot (Arabic for happy) is the word of the week, a pacey run on Sunday (three days after French Island) has put me in the mood for this Sunday’s marathon and a sub 4:30 is on the table – not only will this give me the option to have a qualifier for the 56k effort at Two Bays but will also give me a new marathon PB so happy days all around.
I’ve just got back from another joyful M-word, running the old Templestowe Hillclimb circuit, which has been turned into a walkable (runnable) trail by Manningham, making my M-words Manningham and motorsport memorabilia.
At 2.7km the loop does not boast mega metreage but the climb about half way around, up ‘the wall’ is wickedly fun. As I proclaimed on Strava – this is my new favourite hill.
The countdown to Sunday has begun and I now have to think about the kit I am going to bring.
The event website says there are aid stations every 4 or so kilometres so I am thinking I might be able to get away with a handheld bottle, with some cliff bar stuffed into the small pocket on the hand strap. I will only need to refuel (re-cliff) around the half way point so I can go pretty minimal with this one, although it’s on ‘trail’ it’s a tame trail, basically a road marathon without the high impact on the knees.
Friday night I have a 30km night run around the Capital City Trail with #Getitdone which will be a great time to check out my ‘run light’ strategy.