Loop after loop after loop

Last weekend was the biggest running weekend I've ever compeleted - 82ks in two runs.

On Saturday I met up with a friend who dragged me halfway around the river loop before I headed for home a little slower.

On Sunday I started in the dark, and took in this view on a loop around Enoggera Reservoir at the Gap.

Then ran up South Boundary Road, did a loop of Gold Creek Reservoir, then back down to The Gap overlooking Enoggera Reservoir again.

And that's it.

My hard training is over.

Just four weeks of taper before The North Face 100.

It's at this time of a training program that I start wondering whether I've done enough, whether I could have done something different, or whether there's something more I should have done. 

There is no way of knowing until event day, and even then, sometimes there's still no way to know.

It's at this time of a training program that too much thinking can drive you loopy.

My doctor is awesome

The fact that I had to visit my doctor this week is not awesome and neither is the abundance of vitamins I've been taking for the last week.

Vitamin C, horseradish, garlic, and zinc tablets for my cold.
My self prescribed cocktail of vitamin C, echinacea, garlic, horseradish, zinc.

I went to the doctor yesterday as a precaution. I've had a cold in the last week and with The North Face 100 only four weeks away, I wanted to be sure that it is just a cold, and there's no hidden infection, or worse, lurking about.

My doctor though, is awesome. I went in feeling like I was being high maintenance for presenting with barely a sore throat. I walked out feeling like an elite athlete.

Wild Horse Criterium - a good hard training session

In my last blog post I hinted at what the next few weeks of training looked like for me. Right there are the very end, after all my feeling sorry for myself, it's there.

I wrote that I still need a few good hard training sessions before The North Face 100.

I can now say that I've got one of these under my belt. Over the weekend I completed the 55k event at the Wild Horse Criterium.

Now, before we get on with how the event unfolded, first things first. My last blog post was fairly negative. From time to time I get like this. I let my self doubt take over for a bit and there's a bit of negativity flying around.

I know I get like this. Generally speaking I don't dwell on it. Often by the time I get around to tapping out a blog post, I've already come part of the way towards getting over it. Sometimes writing the post helps.

This time was no exception. There IS still a lot of work to do but in writing my blog post, I reminded myself that I do in fact have a plan. I just need to keep following it.

I did exactly this over the weekend. The Wild Horse Criterium ticked a few boxes in my prep for TNF100.

Early start

A 4am start meant a 2am alarm and this meant running in a slightly sleep deprived state. It sounds a little unhinged but as I'm preparing for a race that's likely to take me a little over 24 hours, this is good practice.

Race nerves

I don't mind admitting it - I was nervous. The night before I had a little bit of a nervous cry and at registration I asked how their time cut off worked. It was likely I'd be towards the limit so thought it would ease my nerves if I knew what the process was.

Race conditions

As I stood on the start line with the other 19 runners taking on this distance I noticed everyone else had packed light. This was a training run for me so I had committed to carrying my mandatory gear for The North Face 100. It seemed like a stupid decision at 4am on Sunday morning but now I'm glad I did.

A long, long run

I probably wouldn't have run this far in training without this event and if I'm really honest, I think it showed. In retrospect I probably wasn't quite ready to run 55ks. My last 11k lap was markedly slower than the others, so in essence I ran a good strong 44ks, and then just toughed it out to get home. A strong 44ks is still a good long run. The extra 11ks, no matter how slow, is a bonus.

Confidence on trails

I ran this event last year and it ended in disaster. I still had a few slips in tricky conditions (including a slo-mo face plant in the mud in the dark) but I noticed how much stronger I felt running through the sand and how much more confidence I had over in general.

River crossings

This course has terrain with a bit of everything, except elevation. At the race briefing we were assured that the river crossings were only shin deep, but they omitted to tell us that it was shin deep if you happened to be a giraffe. No harm, both crossings were manageable, even the first time in the dark.

The final washup

The course was muddy. The final washup needed to be comprehensive.

(Sorry. That one's not even funny.)

What you probably want to know is, was my nervous question about time cutoffs just me being negative, and did I get home in time after all.

I never found out what their policy was. All I got at registration was a cheery "you'll be right" and I have to admit, at the start of my fifth lap I was on schedule to finish within the nine hour limit. But my last lap was slow.

When I finished after 9:17, I figured I wouldn't get an official time. I was OK with this. It was a training event. I know I did it, and I've got the Garmin file to check my time and pace.

I've checked the results - not only did I get an official time, but I placed first in my category. There is something to be said for choosing the longest distance at a smaller event.

Six months to six weeks. I still need help.

Late last year I enlisted the services of a personal trainer.

This was a confronting thing for me to do. I have the core strength of a dead fish and the coordination of a fence post. This was not going to be easy.

But this is why I hired a trainer. When was the last time you heard about a dead fish, or a fence post, or with someone of the attributes of these things, finishing mountainous 100 mile ultramarathons? The comparison is perhaps ridiculous, but the point is, I needed help.

Need a cure for ornithiphobia? Don't ask me.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter would already have seen this photo. I snapped it part way through my weekly run to work.

Nice isn't it?

I have a confession to make. 

Taking this photo got my heart rate up more than the run did. I think I'm ornithophobic. While sneaking up to take photos like this might be considered therapy, I don't think my fear of birds is going anywhere, anytime soon.

Beerwah @ Night

This weekend saw the first of the Run Queensland day/night series - Beerwah@Night.

It was my first event of the year, first trail run for a while, and first time out in the dark since the Glasshouse 100. I was happy to find out last week that for once I'd have some reinforcements. Daggy and Matt, who both trained in the same triathlon squad as me many moons ago, were having a hitout too.

Glasshouse Mountains National Park is a beautiful place but the 200mm of rain that had fallen in the area in the few days before were bound to throw in some challenges.

The guys both gave me a bit of stick for writing out the directions like I always do, but I don't know whether either of the understand what it's like to be a back of the pack athlete. I can't count on having someone around to help with directions so it's comforting to me to know I have a bit of extra help if I need it.

As we stood at the start line they announced that they'd had to change the course at the beginning and I wondered whether that preparation would be in vain and the km pointers I'd written down wouldn't match up - but just a few ks in I found that everything lined up perfectly. Alun and Brett had worked out their contingency route with great precision.

With this stress out of the way there was time for a couple of snapshots along the way. I couldn't resist the sun setting on Mt Beerwah.

And halfway through "The Dungeon" I tried to capture the ruggedness and steepness. There was a good few ks of this. I was pretty happy it was in the first half of the event when we had natural light.

This shot doesn't do justice to the sun setting and a sliver of moon poking up over the pine forest but I'll use it anyway.

Of course the question I get asked most is, "don't you get frightened out in the dark by yourself?"

At night time the wildlife is more noisy and less visible, and that's a bit unnerving. On Saturday night I saw countless cane toads which quite frankly, freaked me out. (I screamed quite loudly when I saw the first one, less loudly for the second, and then just tried to ignore them.)

Not to mention, they were deafening! I wish I had have taken some video so you could hear how loud mating frogs and toads are.

I didn't take any pictures of the creek crossings and mud holes - my shoes and socks probably tell the story.

I didn't do a great time but that's no surprise, my fitness isn't the best right now after my Christmas lurgy. But I felt so much more confident climbing up the steep bits and stepping down off rocks than I ever had. The strength work I'm doing is paying off.

The only real down side is that I rolled my ankle slightly at one point and I'm still getting a bit of discomfort. A trip to the physio may be on the cards this week but hopefully it won't be a lingering injury.

How to do a one legged burpee

Firstly, don't ask me. I didn't even know they were a thing until this week's PT session.

Suffice to say - I'm pretty sure I didn't look like this.

Obviously I don't really know what I looked like but I felt like I looked like a cross between these next two videos.

(I've always maintained that I have the coordination of a dead fish so the title of the second video is apt.)

I promised my trainer I would practice. I will. Tomorrow.