About the running I do, wherever I go. It's the greatest thing in the world to seek out fresh places to run. With a map, a river or lake or even city streets, I can plot my own adventures and be an explorer. I almost always end up with a totally positive experience.
Four races and some patchwork
I’ve been doing a few trail races over the past month, actually one each weekend for the past three weekends, and then a road race, my only road race this year. I started with the Hume and Hovell 50 km along the trail of that name just out of Tumbarumba, NSW. This is a fabulous trail with lots to look at and some tough climbing. Last year I dehydrated badly but I had high hopes this year as I used my hydration vest and was able to carry more water than previously. I secretly wanted to break 7 1/2 hours.
The route starts with an out and back across farmland and in a bit of forest. It’s not hilly but the ground is rather rough, pockmarked with ruts and holes made by the cows. Plus there are numerous stiles to clamber over, which is ok at the start when you’re fresh.
Then you pass the start/finish and head out on another, longer, out and back, starting along the Tumbarumba Creek. It’s lovely. There are some good waterfalls and the creek flows fast, and then you cross on a big swing bridge. On my return I saw an echidna along here; actually I think I saw it before it saw me because it looked startled and then stepped off the path, but by the time the runner behind me reached it he said it was all curled up.
The climb up and over and down the other side of Mount Garland is the main feature after the creek. You climb for a long time through the forest, with several false summits and several slight descents. Both years I’ve been climbing here as the half marathoners, who start from Manus Lake, have been coming down, fast. Eventually you get to the aid station at the top, which was very enthusiastically manned this year with lots of food and loud music. From there it’s a descent to Manus Lake and I’d forgotten about going right down to the lake and then having to climb all the way back up on the trip home. Once you hit the lake shore there's a very difficult out and back to some point further up the road. It’s mildly undulating but what makes it hard is that the road is in the full sun and seems far longer than the 2 1/2 kilometres it is supposed to be.
The climb back over Mount Garland was hard and I walked a lot, but on the whole I felt better than last year. I felt my time goal slipping away however and settled for enjoying the great scenery. The last five kilometres along the creek were fun despite my fatigue.
As I came back to the start/finish area I made a spurt and passed a couple running just ahead. By doing this I was not only able to scrape in under 7 1/2 hours (in 7:29:38) but also made third in my age group. That was a big improvement on last year and I was happy. But I had really rinsed myself (my favourite expression these days).
The next weekend I went to Canberra for the Bush Capital Bush Marathon which is usually held in early August. So I was a bit worried about the heat. Last time I ran this one, two years ago, I had a terrible back problem and could hardly stand up, but I ran fine in the race; the following day I couldn’t move at all.
The race was lovely, as always, and there were more kangaroos out than ever, so I loved that. I ran alone most of the time, playing cat and mouse for a while with another female who had also been at the Hume and Hovell. Then I concentrated on catching another female ahead of me, which I finally managed with five kilometres to go. Then I had to work hard to be sure to keep ahead; exactly the same happened to me at this race once before in the same place, but that time I ran into third whereas this time I was running into fourth. I ran the whole way, unusually for this hilly course, and I’m not sure if it helped me achieve a great result, since I was slower than last time, but maybe due to the higher temperature. I can’t say I rinsed myself at this one!
The following weekend I decided to do the Halloween Howler 50 km at short notice. It starts at 3pm on Saturday. I made it a part of my training for my next trip to America, and planned to run about 100 kilometres over the course of three days, going 16km on Thursday, 16km on Friday, 16km in the morning and the 50km in the afternoon on Saturday.
It was very warm at the start in the You Yangs. We had to do ten laps of the five kilometre course in the forest. Quite daunting as I don’t like running laps, but it turned out fine. I was in dead last place out of 13 by the end of the first lap and I felt lightheaded in the heat, but this proved to be my fastest lap. For the next two laps I carried a water bottle. Some of the course was very sandy which made for slow going but it was very pleasant with lots of birds. By lap three I passed one of the five women and hoped to get onto the podium. I ran lap five with Cheryl (who was doing the marathon not the 50) and we passed another women so I was in third place. By lap six it was cooling down but I was starting to get bored. Laps seven and eight were the hardest from the boredom factor. On lap nine it was dusk and I looked forward to finishing. I ran lap ten in the dark with my head light. I passed a few runners who were walking but I didn’t realise they were in the ultra. So I was most surprised when I finished to find that I was half way up the field in third place and ahead of the male third place getter.
And finally I went to Portland for the marathon on Melbourne Cup weekend. As part of my heavy training I ran 20 km on the Friday then drove to Portland; I ran 20 km on the marathon route on Saturday in Portland and did a six km walk to see the seals; I ran the marathon on Sunday.
The marathon went well although I was still tired from last weekend. I started out with David Styles to make sure I didn’t slack off at the beginning and we ran together past half way over the big hills. Then I thought I should get on ahead but he remained at my shoulder. Every time I broke away it wasn’t long before he was back again. I knew that if he made a spurt ahead of me I would not be able to match it, but fortunately that didn’t happen. At the 35 km aid station I managed to get ahead. The last kilometres were hard and I was well on the way to rinsing myself. I passed a youngish guy who clearly didn’t like being chicked - I had to pass him three times to get clear. The late hills in the race were a surprise, as they are every time. In the final kilometre I passed Brian Glover who was walking his 200th marathon, so I was able to see him finish. I finished in a respectable sixth place, in 4:18, not as fast as four years ago but the conditions may not have been as good. We had a head wind for the last part. This marked the end of my six week training block.
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Kumano Kodo Trail, an old pilgrimage route across the Kii peninsula, through the mountains from Kii Tanabe on the west coast to Kii Katsuura on the east coast. From Kii Tanabe to Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine (the goal of the pilgrimage) it’s the Nakahechi route and from there it’s the Kogumotori-Goe route to Koguchi and the Ogumotori-Goe route to Nachisan near the coast. Monday Train from Himeji to Osaka, dropped my main bag off at Osaka left luggage, train to Kii Tanabe, bus to Takijiri and then I could start walking. There was a little shrine at the start and then the path went straight uphill into the forest. Mostly it was big, rocky steps or steps made from logs. I was taken aback at the steepness, having assumed the route description was an exaggeration. But it was lovely and quiet. I stopped at a cave, some tiny shrines and lookouts over the mountains and had lunch at the top of the first hill. The path was crisscrossed by tree roots and rocky, and the forest was dense with spindly,…
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