Hi again guys! I thought I’d drop back in and give you an update on what has now become my 2nd and 3rd 50k trail ultras.
Blacklall100 50k: 9th place (8th male), 5:13:13. 50.1kms / 1600m elevation gain.
The Guzzler “Glass Half Full”: 5th place (4th male), 5:32:13. 51.5kms / 2100m elevation gain.
The Coastal High 50: 22nd place (20th male), 5:54:24. 48.5kms / 2000m elevation gain.
The Guzzler Ultra “Glass Half Full”
As I said in my previous post (“1st Ultra: A huge success thanks to Training For The Uphill Athlete”), The Guzzler Ultra “Glass Half Full” was 3 weeks after my first race at the Blackall100. I was careful about recovery between races and only did 1 long run on the Guzzler course which was really a middle of the day heat acclimatisation session as it really started warming up down here around that time. The Guzzler is a slightly longer course (51.5km) with incredibly steep hills and ~2100m of elevation gain. I knew 5:30:00 was going to be a good time for this course and set my goal there.
I went out hard from the start to keep the front runners in sight after the opening hills and ran the flat section around the lake fast but easy (at 6’3″ my easy flat ground running pace is naturally swift) and went into the first aid station in about 12th (I think). At the top of the first big climb up Mt Nebo someone at a water station told me I was in 7th. Things were going well. I think I held close to that position until the 38km mark when I went into the final aid station at the end of a loop around another lake. The climb out of this section I thought was my weakness going into the race but it turned out it was everyone’s weakness. I passed some people going up the wide fire trail that leads away from the lake as the day was warming up and the lack shade through this section was taking it’s toll on everyone. Lucky for me I still felt strong.
I passed 2 more runners soon after heading back under the canopy and realised I was the 3rd placed male, 4th overall. I needed to make up 1 more spot at least. Soon I could see the 2nd placed male ahead of me and I started hunting him down bit by bit.
By the time I reached the last big climb, a track called Kokoda (The name “Kokoda” has huge significance in Australian wartime history, being a treacherous trail in Papua New Guinea defended by ANZAC troops in WW2 and the name is reserved for trails that have a reputation of breaking people), I was closing in on the 2nd place male and the 5th placed male had closed in on me. I was certain however that if I could at least see my pursuer at the top of the climb I could easily reel him back in as I had been running the downhills and flats faster than him all day, but he was faster on the uphill sections. I got to the top of the hill and was ecstatic to have held my position. I walked a few steps to let the lactate drain from my legs then dropped the hammer, it was either flat or downhill from here – my speciality.
Then both VMO’s cramped. And cramped and cramped. Every step. So I ran like a drunken 2 legged donkey on tranquillisers for 100m and realised I needed to stop and walk, eat and drink. So I did and I watched 2nd placed male/3rd overall run away from me and soon after I watched 4th placed male/5th overall run by me, and he was kind enough to offer his condolences as he went past (distance runners are a friendly bunch).
With 2kms to go I thought I may catch him on the downhill but unfortunately I wasn’t able to close the gap and I finished my 2nd ultramarathon in 5th place (4th male) in 5:32:13 – 2:13 off my target time.
And I was stoked! I was so happy that I gave absolutely everything and left it all out there on the course. Upon reflection of the Blackall race I had realised I fell apart mentally in the last 7kms and left a lot of time on the table, this time I remedied that. I may have gone out too hard and made some other mistakes but you’re supposed to when you’re starting out. And after some time reflecting on the race I still see it the same.
The Coastal High 50
3 weeks after The Guzzler was The Coastal High. It turned out this one had some lessons in store for me.
I recovered poorly from The Guzzler and mad the mistake of trying to make some gains in the middle week between the 2 races. I overdid a stairs session straight off the bat and spent the rest of what was supposed to be a training week trying to fix my calves. I then did a long run that was too long and with too much elevation too close to the event. My hip flexors locked up and I spent the rest of the week trying to fix my legs but making little progress. (I think you guys talk about not doing this in your latest podcast on overtraining lol!)
The race started poorly, I felt rough and I went out too hard on the 3km uphill road section at the start. I’d recovered by about 15kms in and started running well on rolling, technical single track. I rolled my left ankle 3 times in about 5kms but it didn’t seem too bad and by the time I hit the first aid station at 23kms I’d made up a lot of places (no idea how many).
At about 26kms however my hip flexors seized up on me again and they stayed that way until the end of the race. My training partner, Reesha (she’s the woman who beat me in all 3 of these races, she’s a savage!) ran past me on a downhill section and stopped and asked me if I was okay because I was moving so poorly. I told her I was fine, my legs just weren’t working. I checked my split time on my watch and realised I had just run a 6:30 kilometre, all of it down hill. It was going to be a long day.
So I threw my goal time of 5:20:00 in the bin in my mind and decided I needed to get in under 6 hours Nothing really improved or got worse from that point, I just shuffled my way to the finish at a consistent pace and a fair amount of pain finishing in 5:54:24, 22nd place (20th male).
I will say this though, I felt better at the end of the race than I did the previous 2, much better. I suppose not being able to push yourself has some upsides. And I had a lot of fun. I saw people I knew, the weather was great and the scenery in the Gold Coast hinterland is unbelievable. And I learnt some lessons I think I needed to learn.
Now, I am in a bit of an overtrained state and I’m resting. I’ve done a few runs but they’ve gone poorly so I think it’s time to have a break, spend some time with the family and read Training For The Uphill Athlete again.
And also try to pick up and entry to Ultra Trail Australia in May 2021.
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