Learning Something about Myself

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Everything was feeling pretty good when I woke up this morning, my hands and arms were moving much more freely, and I felt confident that I had ‘turned the corner’. Both Bob and I were confident about heading down to Orroral Valley in the afternoon for a gentle trot, even though the weather was not looking at all promising. The predicted ‘clearing showers’ hadn’t seemed to have eventuated, which was an advantage. The localised weather 70-odd kilometres away at the base of the mountain range in a spectacular bush valley could be anything though!

It was spitting with shards of icy rain when we got away – and I think Bob would have been happy to have retreated inside before we got to the end of the grove. Driving the long, scenic route through the Cotter and past Tidbinbilla, Bob punctuated each curve in the road or rise with puffing noises or ‘pedal pedal pedal’ to aurally illustrate his experiences at Vets Cycling Club Races over this stretch of rural road.
Orroral location
The drive through the Naas Valley was gorgeous; the recent rain had turned the surface layer a bright, albeit temporary, green which was almost alien in these parts. Up through Fitz’ Hill (renowned among cyclists in these parts and the focus of the long running annual Fitz' Challenge), we arrived in the valley not long before the 2:00pm start time. Despite miserable conditions; a strong wind that seemed to come straight off the snow, there was a large turnout including some running luminaries such as Jackie Fairweather and Emma Murray.

Rad was looking his usual fit and enthusiastic self, a good foil for Friar with whom he carpooled. Friar had spent the morning helping to set up and run the Mental Health Fun run/Walk at Black Mtn Peninsula that morning, and was a vision before the start in his trusty blue tracksuit with over over-sized boardshorts over the top. Unfortunately no camera was available!

A quick visit to the hi-tech compost-a-loo and we lined up on the start line. In the conditions I settled on wearing my CR tri-top with ‘arm tights’, and a Netti cycling skull cap under a R4YL cap. I wouldn’t normally wear a cap, especially with the wind blowing a gale, but it was cold I the lycra thing on my noggin looked really bad on it’s own!

I wasn’t feeling so enthusiastic now. There were no race numbers (very few had pre-entered so it hadn’t seemed necessary) and as the 8km, 20km and 30km events started together I was starting to think that maybe the 8kms was a good idea as hypothermia set in. Peter the PRB and I huddled together at the start although conversation was nigh impossible with the wind howling. John gave a pre-race briefing but it was impossible to hear in the conditions. Soon enough, we were off.

The first section was on the only part of sealed road which led to the car park. It then led over a boulder alongside a locked gate to the trail proper . . . and the great views and real slog started. We were possibly around the middle of the field at this early stage, however the gentlest of inclines saw me really struggling to breath easily and move forward. My legs were, understandably, dead although on reflection not as bad as during the Sri Chinmoy 10k on Monday. I was trying to run fast then (hah!), and had no intention of during anything of the sort here. The PRB commented with concern at how I had begun to wheeze again, and I was excelling my ‘Gross spitting when running’ habit with the count reaching an all-time PB.

I tried to extol the PRB to go on ahead as we were passed by an increasing procession of runner after runner until we were right back at the end. I felt shocking! The wind blew hard, and showers of rain past over proving the worth of the stiff brim of the R4YL cap to protect from the rain. The fire trail was undulating at best, certainly not hilly at this point, but I considered turning around and pulling out. Around 3k was the turnoff for the 8km course, I slowed here and seriously thought about it but continued on. Just after this, the real hills began. It was just a long, slow slog which I remembered from last year, although on that occasion I was passing others, while today it was a matter of moving forward, ever so slowly, and being passed and watching those now in front disappear from view.

At the top of the rise (around 1,200m elevation) was a water station. How can one thank those who volunteer for these duties sufficiently? While running (or more accurately, just moving) the wind and the rain was OK. Standing, alone at the peak for hours at end whilst dribs and drabs of spitting, huffing, sniffing runners came through deserves much more than thanks!

I took a sip, although couldn’t stomach more, and swished it around my mouth and spat the rest out. A long, essentially downhill section started here, which was especially welcome. My legs were still heavy, but starting to loosen up. Unfortunately, (warning Aki, too much information follows) the ol’ gastrocolonic reflex was sparked into action by the sip of water. Increasing pain led to a sudden diversion into the bushes besides the track requiring some bush bashing and a sharp descent. I felt far more comfortable, and before I caught up with the PRB who had jogged slowly on ahead of me, the sharp drops at the side trail gave way to far friendlier terrain. Doh!

I remembered that the trail turned off on the right hand side somewhere along here, so I was constantly keeping an eye out for the turn-off. It was around the 10k mark, and also coincided with me feeling sooo much better. The long sweeping downhill stretches certainly helped, but my breathing was easier and legs moved of their own accord for the first time. It certainly made me think that just doing 10k at Fitzroy Falls next week (if I make it to the starting line). Built for distance, not speed.

I loved this section, and wished it could go on forever. I kept an eye out for the PRB behind me, and we hurdled a few rivulets in the gullies along the way. Coming up to the next turnoff, a drink station manned by the evergreen Hugh Moore, the PRB and I shared our water with a fellow Team Moore member, Geoff Barker who was moving along well. The trail changed here to a kind of single track in open forest. An elaborate network of speedbumps constructed of hesian and chicken wire, interspaced with logs extended widthways across the track reinforced the sense that this stretch was used for MTB riding.

A couple of runners appeared in the distance, a relief after having been passed by so many in the early kilometres. I recalled that once the open woodland cleared, we were to follow a rough mown section through paddocks littered with kangaroos and frequently boggy ground. I felt great now! The PRB had been his usual accommodating self, restricting himself to painfully slow running to keep me company, seeming to go backwards at times. Now, the slow pace and a long session in a Cotter Run yesterday was starting to tell and he was ever so slightly slowing his pace behind mine. There was a magnificent sight as five runners stretched out across a lush green paddock, dotted with ‘roos and a thickly forested mountain as the backdrop. A perfect arc of a rainbow stretched across the scene, seemingly pointing to the finish at the end of the rainbow.

Around some of the boggy ground I drew even with Anna T running in front of me and we chatted briefly. She had dynamic looking legs! Great shape, great musculature, great tan! I dropped back to keep the PRB in touch and the (alleged) 15km drink station and turn-around came into view. As attractive as the 30km event looked on paper, the turnaround was closer to the 16½ km point, and the hills one needed to do in reverse weren’t encouraging, especially in these conditions.

Too late I realised that it was John Demitriou manning the windswept drink station, before we were off across the paddocks once more, and then on a short climb on a trail which led to the first section of the track we had started along. The PRB had largely run out of juice here, so close to the finish, the Carpark was in sight in the afternoon light in the valley and I was raring to go. I jogged a bit from one side of the fire trail to the other until I looked at my watch and estimated that there would be a bit less than a k to the finish. I vaguely remembered that last year I did 1 hour 53 minutes, and contrary to all expectations over the first 10kms it seemed just possible to equal this if I put on the finishing burst of my life.

Guiltily I bid PPRB farewell and started to run with an energy that surprised me! Onto the final stretch on the sealed road, a headwind struck which required every bit of energy to make any forward momentum! A few friendly, fast faces in vehicles leaving the site waved as I went past, teeth gritted and arm warmers raised for warmth.

Bob was at the finish, and although I missed my finishing time expect that it was roughly equivalent to last years which I have since confirmed as 1:53:55. This was unimaginable an hour earlier when I was doing it really tough. Thank heavens I preserved and continued for the 20k route so that I could hit my stride. The PRB finished soon afterwards, although Bob had whisked me away to put on warm and dry clothes, shoes, and socks. Over the last 7kms or so, I was aware of the fairly unfamiliar feeling of blisters developing as a result of wet socks.

Bob had rescued the PRB to sit in our car as all his warm gear was locked in someone else’s vehicle who was yet to finish and it was freezing. I would have loved to have caught up with people, however after seeing Rad sprint to the finish, leading the Customs Joggers triumvirate of Rad, Friar and NB home, Bob and I retreated to move the car closer to the finish line, and sit there listening to the ODI on the radio. My lips started to turn blue again and neither of us could feel our fingertips. Somewhat reluctantly, we headed off early, just as Mick Corlis had finished the 30k, for the long drive back home to thaw out and scrub the mud off.

To my delight, Aki rang almost as soon as we walked in the door to check how I went and if I survived the outing. Gotta love the CR sense of camaraderie and care that is so evident. It was wonderful talking to her, unfortunately Bob had been rapidly filling my bath which was soon to overflow! I planned to call back, but both Bob and I found ourselves rather exhausted, and I couldn’t even watch more than a few overs of the World XI batting before retreating to bed.

The Verdict?
Loved the event (once I finished). It was good to see how I was once I got warmed up and had done at least 10k. So much of running is mental, although I’m sure that my early malaise was largely physical. It was a good learning experience, although I am worried about the PRB’s health. He had a headache to begin with, and wasn’t well at all at the finish if he would admit it to himself. He is losing too much muscle mass, too fast and certainly bonked before the finish. I hope that he takes care!

6 Responses to “Learning Something about Myself”

  1. Anonymous aki 

    I did find out you did the 20k and not the 8k earlier and I'm definately not happy, lol, what ever happened to taking it easy? :rolleyes:

    Still I'm happy that things went ok.

  2. Anonymous Gronk 

    Sounds like a great day FD, well done. I hope you can make it up to FF on the weekend.

  3. Anonymous allrounder 

    and there i was thinking you were doing the 8k and not the 20k!

    glad i'm here & not there for the weather though!

  4. Anonymous strewth 

    Wow - what a fantastic run - well done! You never cease to amaze me!

  5. Anonymous Tesso 

    Wow FD, that run sounds so tough, yet so beautiful. Man, that elevation chart looks scary! I'm so happy to hear you started to feel better as you went along.

    All the best for a healthy week.

  6. Anonymous minersrun 

    fantastic report Carolyne - wonder how you can back up and do all these things!

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About me

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Fellow Bloggers

  • Aki Runs!
  • allrounder
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  • Distance Swum
    February 17,400m
    October 3,800m
    November 4,150m
    December .
    Distance Cycled
    November 120km
    December 297 km