Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tummy Bug

Today Total: 4k
Week Total: 4k
Month Total: 293k
Year Total: 293k

Yesterday I came down with a recurrance of a tummy bug I had a couple of weeks ago which was no big deal as I had Monday off as a leave day anyway and had scheduled it as a total rest day.

This morning I got up ok with the alarm which I took as a good sign, I didn't feel great (but who does at 5.30am?), got dressed and headed out the door. I was determined to do 12k which would give me over 300k for the month, something I've wanted to do since I recommenced running.

Alas it was not meant to be, the first k which is gentle uphill felt very ordinary but then the second k felt much worse and it's downhill! I just couldn't get out of 2nd gear and when I started to get the first twinges of pain in my stomach I decided it just wasn't worth pushing - I've got bigger fish to fry than clocking up 300k, so turned tail and headed at a shuffle back home and back to bed.

I'm still pretty happy with my monthly total though as my previous highest was in Feb '05 of 234k. Good thing I had this week slated as an easier week, it's not so hard to bear being crook.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Mile High Club

Today Total: 26k
Week Total: 81k
Month Total: 289k
Year Total: 289k

Backed up with 2 laps of Quarry Road this morning to give me 81k for the week which is my biggest running week (training only) since Feb '05, but what is more pleasing is with all the cumulative ups I've also climbed in excess of a vertical mile - definitely a first in a training week for me.

Plenty of people out there today - I reckon I might set up a lemonade stall - I'd make a fortune. Spud was looking good as always and I also caught up with an indecisive Dash who is not all together sure about this Six Foot thing..

I felt really crap on the first drag up out of the creek with my calves and glutes screaming in protest and I lumbered through to the Western trail head in a personal worst first split of 50.23. I was starting to think 1 lap would do me but I got a pleasant surprise when I realised I was speeding up and the pain was was considerably less on the haul up the Eastern side..

I finished with my 2 outbound splits being:

50.23 & 49.25

And my 2 inbound splits (slightly easier) of:

47.40 & 46.18

So instead of fading like I have in the past I finished the 2nd lap 2mins 20 secs faster than the first to give me a total of 3.13.46 for the outing. The most pleasing aspect being that on weary legs this is a minute and a half course PB for me. Happy 2P :-)

I am going to back off a bit now and build up over the next 3 week cycle to make my toughest final session the 3rd week out from the race - at this stage I'm thinking either 3 laps of Quarry Rd or a return trip to the Pluviometer.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Granny Gears

Today Total: 10k MTB
Year Total: 44k MTB

This morning I added the Google Earth map and the Garmin elevation profile to yesterdays post if anyone is interested?

Also no I don't carry a laptop when I run - for those who enquired the Blackberry is a hideous device not much larger than todays standard mobile phone that my company has got for me so I can receive email and phone calls 24/7 - it's redeeming feature is it has a qwerty keyboard and I can blog via email from anywhere that has GPRS reception :-) Hence blog postings from places like the pool, sitting waist deep in the Megalong Creek and my place up the lake.

My morning mow the lawn recovery session didn't quite cut it with my legs which feel very weary today after yesterdays run and an absolute flogging at training last night - so this arvo I took the mountain bike out for a very gentle 10k doddle around Canada Bay. Barely worth blogging - I hardly raised a sweat - but it does seem to have freshened up my legs a bit.

Would have liked to have taken up Dave's offer of another run along the track tomorrow but I don't feel comfortable to commit - might opt for a couple of laps of Quarry Rd instead - that way if I bonk I can bail out after one lap.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Slow Recce

Today Total: 24k
Week Total: 55k
Month Total: 263k
Year Total: 263k

Edit: Well Steve, I can't do the action video from Bowtells Bridge but I can do the Google Earth map and Garmin elevation profile :-)

The very top left of this image is Nellies Glen and where the race starts at Explorers Tree - the red line commences where I left the car at Megalong Valley Rd and from this perspective you get a good indication of the cleared land over Pinnacle Hill and the drop down and then along the Cox's River Gorge (click on the image to enlarge and see more detail). The Cox's River crossing is almost at the centre of the red line. You can also see the cleared exposed sections going up Mini Mini though this angle really doesn't show the steepness of the climb (lower right hand segment) but I think the elevation profile below takes care of that! NB the scale below is marked in 200m intervals.

Hopefully these 2 images give those who have never been there an understanding of what Six Foot is all about - the other point of note is that the climb to Mini Mini only peaks out at about 750m ASL - you then drop about 200m and then have a climb of even steeper proportions (albeit less exposed to the sun)to take you to the Pluviometer at just on 1,000m ASL i.e. 450m over about 3.5km's - then a grinding 10k or so drag up to 1,200m ASL before starting the descent to Jenoloan.

Well this is a first - I'm blogging sitting in the middle of the Megalong Creek from the cackleberry after just completing the 24k round trip from Megalong Valley Road to the top of Mini Mini and return - part of the Six Foot Track.

After the rigours of this week so far I took todays run at a very conservative pace heeding DJ's advice to set the toaster to light. LOL my average pace today would not have seen me make the 7 hour cut-off - but I was out for a good time today and that is what I had.

It was still a bit foggy when I set off from the car at about 6.45am - saw a wallaby, some bunny rabbits and lots and lots of cows all in the first little bit. The first stretch, once you get past Pinnacle Hill down to the Cox's is always a delight. The technical trail undulates but trends downwards passing through some limestone outcrops that always excite the amatuer speleologist in me - there are even some little stalagtites.

I had a little play on Bowtells Swing Bridge - that is one cool piece of engineering but it's easy to respect the one person at time rule. Judging that the river would be crossable I kept on the track and meandered down. Probably could have kept my feet dry - but that has never been my style - I like to splash about :-)

Once across I topped up the Gatorade and headed up. I walked more than I ran wondering why have I let myself in for this again. At one stage I considered pressing on to Pluvio but I made the right decision to turn around just before the fire trail drops down into the saddle.

I flew down the hill back to the Cox's and then started the grind back out. I managed a shuffle run thingee most of the way only walking the steep bits to get back to the car in about 3hrs 40mins - like I said slow but fun. Though I must confess it was a tad warm on some of the more exposed parts of the track.

It was nice to reaquaint myself with the track and there is nothing like a doddle along part of it to crystalise your thinking on what you need to do for preparation.

Well my feet are getting wrinkly so I better stop and get out of the creek :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Baby Brick

Today Total: 10k (+20k MTB)
Week Total: 31k
Month Total: 239k
Year Total: 239k (34k MTB)

I took the mountain bike leg out hard, deliberately using the toughest gears I could handle and really taking the hills (not that there where any monsters) as aggressively as I could standing right up over the peddles and cranking hard. A fat labrador on a treadmill would have looked in better shape than me I was breathing that hard.

My belief is that the key to pegging a good time for Six Foot is being able to hold it together on Blacks Range. For the unintiated that is the 10 or so k section that trends upward after the big climb (around 1,000m cumulative by that stage) from the fabled Pluviometer to Caves Road.

The score for me on Blacks Range is Blacks Range 2, 2P 1 and I aim to even the score. Last year I carked it after getting to Pluvio in 3.30 (right on schedule) all I had to do was maintain a better than 7.50k pace to go sub 6 hours and I  couldn't hack it. When the demons visit and the buzzards start circling overhead it really comes down to what you can maintain as your minimum trudge pace and for less than the elite at Six Foot this is the key.

Enter todays session. At least twice per week for the next few weeks I intend to toast my legs either on the bike or stair/hill repeats and then run and try to maintain a reasonable trudge. As the Romans used to say "better to hurt in training than bleed in battle" and by the time I get to Blacks Range this year I'm hoping my legs will say "oh this session again".

So onto the run - yikes! The first 3k were ugly with the 2nd k split dipping to 6.45 (yowser - I wanted to say to everybody I saw that I'd just done a hard session - really!) but after 3k I came good for the next 5 and they were not too shabby at all. But I bonked big time at 8k - I didn't just hit the wall I stood there head butting the bastard, just after 9k (I'm guessing my energy system switched to burning fat) I managed to get going again at a reasonable pace and actually brought the last 500m home at a 5.30 pace. Total for 10k - 63.04 - fairly pedestrian.

All up I'm satisfied with this session but it does show I still have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Not So Bad

Today Total: 13k
Week Total: 21k
Month Total: 229k
Year Total: 229k

My calves and hammies have been pretty miserable over the last 2 days so I decided not to run yesterday or this morning to give them some chance to recover. I did however manage to convince myself that going for a run tonight would be a good thing - and it was :-)

I set out at an experimental pace of around 6 min per k for the first 2k to see what that felt like. It felt ok so then I jacked it up from there for what felt comfortable for the rest of the run i.e. solid run but nowhere near flat out. I ended up finishing the 13k in 1.12.22 (5.34 av) which not so long ago would have been my tempo pace. Considering the slow start I was very happy with it.

What I really need to do now is crank up the weekly mileage and hills - I'm not at panic stations yet, but I really do need to get more serious if I am going to peg a PB for Six Foot Track this year.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Easy 8

Today Total: 8k
Week Total: 8k
Month Total: 216k
Year Total: 216k

A short flat white would have been nice, but I opted for a short flat run instead. The twins having been on their best behaviour of late have started to get restless again so I thouight a light run would help me loosen up for training tonight.

A shorter run would also be a good opportunity to break in my new Asic Nimbus's as my old pair are literally falling apart after less than 600k - a bit disappointing because they are very comfy. As a comparison I've got an old pair of Kayanos that have done just under a 1000 k's and they are still fine, but they weigh a ton - guess that is the price you pay.

After applying Nurofen Gel to about 96% of my body I headed out to Canada Bay along the foreshore. It was fairly warm (34 degrees) and as always with new shoes I got hot spots on the balls of my feet almost immediately which made for an interesting run.

Managed the out and back uncomfortably in 46.33 - the only redeeming feature being I ran the last k as my fastest - now for training :-)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Gwandy Special

Today Total: 26k (+14k MTB)
Week Total: 50k
Month Total: 208k
Year Total: 208k (MTB 14k)

2nd Edit: Thought I'd add the map of where I ran - and to answer a question - sorry to disappoint but no the Big T isn't some giant statue of a big black guy covered in gold chains where you can buy buy cheezy souvenirs - it's the name of a fire trail :-)

The map shows the run - the Big Prawn is at the apex where you can see the Pacific Highways scarring the land. The only flat part of this run is the bit around the lake.

Edit: Couldn't resist going for a quick 14k sprint on the trusty mountain bike when I got back to Sydney to add just on another half an hours training for the day.

Up at Gwandalan for the weekend and decided it was time to do my first long run since Gosford before my legs and mind forgot how. I feel like a bit of a drama queen as after Fridays tumble and carrying on like a pork chop all I have to show for it is a mildly bruised left knee and a grumbly right shoulder.

Went to the bowling club for dinner last night and then sat (in a blissfully smoke-free environment) and listened to the band for a while - they must have been the only good old boys not in Tamworth (country music festival) for this weekend and I have the lines "he's a member of the outback club, he don't back down and he don't give up" seemingly indelibly printed on my brain. Usually I hate it when this happens - but as a mantra to adopt for Six Foot Track preparation you probably can't go past it.

I headed out for 26 hilly k's through the fire trails in Munmorah State Rec Park and Crangan Bay - not as steep as Quarry Rd but bugger all flat sections either. I had 2 goals in mind: one to run all the hills and two to not have any double figure 1k splits (some of the hills are fairly steep and long) - mission accomplished.

Emerging out of a fire trail onto the road to Catheriine Hill Bay I bumped Sydney Strider Michael who is just getting back into it after a couple of years off and we had a bit of a natter. From there I made my way up to the Big Prawn on the Pacific Highway for a water resup and then headed home via The Big T and Crangan Bay Fire Trail catching sight of a couple of kangaroos on the way.

I really started to suffer over the last bit and when the Garmin clicked over the 26th k I decided discretion was indeed the better part of sore legs and hit the stop button at 3 hours 11 mins and elected to walk the last 500 meters home.

Not the most encouraging run but I guess there is still 7 weeks to go.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Today Total: 12k inc 10 x (40 stairs) repeats
Week Total: 24k
Month Total: 182k
Year Total: 182k

Dear Running Gods, whatever thy humble servant has done to offend thee thou art truly contrite. Please forgive thee who hath not the foggiest what thou hast done to incur thy wrath.

You guessed it, I came a real gutser on my run tonight. I took the Foreshore Trail (what's left of it) to Kokoda Memorial where there is a set of 40 stairs - 24 normal ones and 16 brutes that are just far enough apart to make you feel like you are playing flea, fly, flow (sic?). On the way I zigged when I should have zagged and lost my footing in the mud and came down a cropper cracking my left knee on the only football sized rock on the entire trail grrrrrrr. My knee is a little grumpy with me and sporting a nice lump (not juicy like CJ's knees though).

The bummer is one of the hiccups I referred to recently was a fall where I jarred my back - I only hope I haven't stuffed that again too.

The idea today was to run there and then run 10 repeats of the stairs as hard as I could jogging back down after each lap then run back home on the trail. The vague hope being to replicate the conditions of fatigue you get on Blacks Range after the Pluvio ascent

Well I got to experience the almost mandatory stumble one has heading down to the Cox's River as well - frankly I think I am over-doing the realism thing :-) The damage doesn't seem too bad yet - I'm typing this from the pool at the moment to cool it down then I'll apply ice and pop the skins on for the night and see what hapens. I was going to rest tomorrow anyway in preparation for a longer bush run on Sunday.

BTW I intend to repeat tonights session fairly regularly (sans falls) in the lead up to Six Foot and increase the stair reps. It seems like the best "close to home" option..

Did someone say they were taking up a collection for cotton wool for me?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

2 Steps Forward......

Today Total: 12k (+ 10mins WT)
Week Total: 12k
Month Total: 170k
Year Total: 170k

A couple of hiccups that I'd rather not go into meant that running or training of any sort wasn't an option for the last 3 days - so much for my hill quest!

Oh well nothing like having to implement 49C - so I took today out as a kind of medium distance tempo run. I had a rush of blood on the 3rd k and ran it much too fast which meant I struggled for the next 9 - numnuts status confirmed.

When I got home I thought what the heck and jumped on the wind trainer for 10mins. The couple of times I've used it before were for recovery but today I went at it as fast as my stumpy little legs could make it happen in the third lowest gear. Checked my cadence a few times and it varied between 72 and 97. Couldn't go for any longer because of a dinner engagement but I enjoyed finishing my run this way.

Might have to do it again, now my hiccups seem over.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Today Total: 12k
Week Total: 31.762k
Month Total: 158k
Year Total: 158k

Operation Recovery complete :-)

Had to drop the Halfpenny back yesterday, so Mrs 2P and I took the opportunity to do a short bushwalk up the mountains afterwards - we walked the first lil bit of the Six Foot Track to the top of the stairs and poodled around some of the tracks on the plateau. The quads still murmured a bit on the ups and downs and I was feeling pretty lethargic, but it was a nice wander through the scrub with some spectacular views.

Decided not to do a long run today even though the legs were feeling pretty good. Apart from anything else I had the worlds supply of chores to get through before going back to work tomorrow, but I finally got enough done to justify going out for a run about 3.45pm and took off around the foreshore bush loop. The Central Area Health Service have finally signposted a detour (which cuts out THE best bits - naturally) but it is still a nice run through to Rhodes. I contemplated doing an out and back but in the end decided to cut across Rhodes railway station (for the stairs) and then through the back end of Bicentennial Park. This gives another hill opportunity at North Strathfield station - not a big hill, but a hill nonetheless.

Ended up doing 12k in 68 mins which is about right for me considering there is about 5k of trail included in this run - so it looks like the legs are back to normal :-)

Going to have to find some serious hills to play on now!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Getting There

Today Total: 10k
Week Total: 19.762k
Month Total: 146k
Year Total: 146k

Just time to squeeze in 10k between legs of the Last Day of Holidays with Dad Double for the Halfpenny. The first leg was a trip to China Town, then Sushi Train for lunch, then Paddys Markets. The second leg is the Bass Hill Drive In for Rumour Has It & Narnia.

Quads are still pretty stroppy with me but at least I took 12 minutes off yesterdays miserable time to finish a smidge under 59 minutes. Still not quite back to pace but I'll take it :-)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Poppy 2P

Today Total: 9.762k
Week Total: 9.762k
Month Total: 136k
Year Total: 136k

The 2 of my 3 step grand daughters that can talk call me Poppy and by jingos, by jillaby, I felt like one today.

The weekends little jaunt well and truly freshened up my lurgy and took a bit out of my legs too :-) - anyhoo I thought it was time to get my bludging lazy butt back out on the road. I huffed and puffed my way through a tad under 10k (got to round the numbers off for the totals) in 71 minutes!!! Not to put too fine a point on how pedestrian this is - I was running faster at the end of the 12th hour last weekend!

For those who asked questions I hope I got them all covered in my last post - though Kit asked one I hadn't contemplated - "how did I keep going when I wanted to stop"? Well Kit, I can honestly say the thought never occured to me - my burning passion was to cover as much ground as I could - there were times when I wanted to walk a bit earlier than scheduled but because I had broken the race down to 20min chunks I could always kid myself to keep going till the 20min mark then I could walk for a minute - after 10hour 40mins I actually had to force myself to walk more often (as I was shuffling) because I knew this would increase my pace when I got going again and my overall performance would benefit - but this took more will power (to walk that is) than you might think. I can be a bit of a single-minded SOB at times.

As for the recovery, well Monday I embarrassed the Halfpenny by crabbing sideways down the stairs of the cinema (Fun with Dick and Jane - give it a miss), Tuesday and Wednesday I spent about 20mins on the wind-trainer just gently turning the legs over. All my muscles except my quads seem to have rehabilitated - but as you can see from the above run the quads are still giving me some grief and as stated the lurgy has grown a bit stronger and I've still got a bunch of crap on my chest. I'm hoping todays run helped more than hindered progress but I guess I'll have to wait till tomorrow to find out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ultra Post-Mortem


This post is mainly for Tesso and Clarie - Tesso is doing her first 12 hour in a few weeks (Team J and CR legend that she is) and Clarie is supporting her - remember you said you wanted to hear about everything? - well you should be more careful with what you wish for because here it all is! It also may be of use to any others contemplating a dabble on the dark-side. And sorry Tesso and Clarie there are also lots of quite long narrative bits in here that I wanted purely for myself for posterity.

Mostly it is a squiz at a novices (mine) thoughts and approach to their first ultra. I've also included my experiences on the night and my recovery, but be advised - I am far, far, far, from being an ultra expert and this is just my humble story about one run - take or leave from it as you will.

Why 12 hours on a track?

Simple - it's a safe option - not too far to walk back to your car if you conk out :-) But probably like most others I really didn't see the appeal of it till I did it - but in fact there are many advantages to a track run and it was very enjoyable for runner and crew alike but more about that later.

The Decision

I decided a while back that 2006 would be the year of the ultra for me with my first scheduled race to be Six Foot in March but I had also decided that I wanted to do a long run in January and had mentally been nutting out some courses to do around 60k, though when I came across the Central Coast Classic on CR a few weeks before Christmas a plan started to hatch. It wasn't a very good plan, it was full of "what ifs" and "buts", but I sent my application in on my last day of work for 2005, the week before Christmas - hey if I blew $45 and had a DNS - no biggie.

The difficulty was making it fit with holidays and getting a lap scorer/crew - this was hard for me, I'm not good at asking for help. I finally did ask Mrs 2P and the Halfpenny and they said yes but I kind of got the vibe that they only agreed out of a sense of duty - one of the real joys I took away from the night was that it ended up a very positive experience for them too. Due to a whole range of other issues I really only commited to the race about 5 days before the event.

The Training - Physical & Mental

Not a whole lot of race specific physical training, but then I've never let that stop me doing stuff before. After a 3 month layoff I did 165k in October and 200k for both November and December. I had 2 x 30k (one extremely hilly) and 2 x 26k efforts at Quarry Rd (all 4 runs over 3 hours and carrying weight) under my belt + I had really toasted my legs at the Central Coast Half on the 4th of December.

Whilst I am a novice at ultra's I have done endurance stuff before in my kung fu gradings, bushwalking, caving and canyoning. Reading Phil Essams "I finally found my hero" the week before the race confirmed what I already knew - that success in endurance events is to a large degree due to your mental preparation, having the right equipment for the task at hand and looking after yourself right from the start.

For me the mental preparation isn't just about the positive "I can do it" stuff - it is about scenario planning eg I had a number of scenarios for what to do if I found I couldn't maintain a certain pace etc (I ended up needing these) another scenario involved cramps, another blisters, one for shoe failure and yet another for blown calves - I had a gazillion of em. I mentally rehearsed and visualised what I would do in each situation so that if it happened on the night I wouldn't view it so much as a disaster but as a scenario I knew how to deal with and flow smoothly into the correct drill.

I was also realistic about what I could achieve - no bones about it on an emotional level I wanted 100k - but I also knew that was very ambitious (2 months ago I couldn't run 10k at the pace I would need - including break time - to achieve 100k in 12 hours). Crunching the numbers on what I know to be my slowest trudge pace I reckoned my low end range was 80k, so I accepted this before the race as an acceptable result - less meant that I was injured and therfore it was out of my control - less for any other reason was just NOT an option! As it turned out - in all honesty, even if I had not had the tummy probs I had on the night I now know I wouldn't have made 100k - 96 or 97 - maybe? But I was stoked with 93 because it was the best I could do on the night and because I hadn't hinged my continued happiness on the ambitious 100k.

I don't see this approach as a cop out - rather it lets me set ambitious goals and that if everything goes perfectly are just achieveable. If things are less than perfect then I can accept the result and get on with my life with no need to throw my teddy out of the cot.

For the avoidance of doubt the above attitude only applies when the things I have little or no control over go less than perfectly - if I felt I had dogged it I would sulk in my cave and pout for weeks!

The Preparation - Taper & Carb Loading

Nothing scientific about the taper - my weekly mileage wasn't high enough to bother - I just did my last long run a little earlier than usual in the week on the Friday 1 week before the event and didn't do any running on the last 2 days before the race.

From experience I prefer to eat just normally the day before a race - I hate toeing the line feeling heavy or wanting to go number twos during a race. The fact that this race started at 7.30pm also was a consideration. So Thursday I ate like a pig, if it had a carb in it, I ate it - mostly brown rice and wholemeal spaghetti, but also some mountain bread, bananas and muesli bars - I also had a couple of eggs and some meat to top up the aminos.

Friday was similar, just not as piggish as Thursday and Saturday (race day) was normal meal sizes of brown rice with an egg and some ham for breaky - lunch was deliberately a bit later than usual (2.00pm) of some wholemeal spaghetti with a light sauce. I snacked on a muesli bar about 4.30pm.

30 mins before the race I took a caffeinated Power Bar and 10 mins prior a Gu - this is my normal long run procedure.

As for hydration - Thursday & Friday if I wasn't eating I was drinking water. On race day I just drank normally and concentrated on conserving sweat rather than take in too much fluid - as like with the food - except in this case it is because I hate wanting to do a wee not long after the start.

On the day of the race I probably spent too much time on my feet pottering around - I don't mind running through the night but I must say I'm not a fan of the 7.30pm start. I tried a nap in the arvo and dropped off for about 10 mins that's all.

The Preparation - The Gear

One of the advantages of a track race is you can take the worlds supply of gear - and in this case I did!

Garmin - not much use as on a 400m track as it measures way long - it gave me over 99k when I only did 93 but once I realised this was going to be the case it was still useful for monitoring relative increases/decreases in pace without doing complex maths with the race clock and I would use it again should I do another track race - the tip for new players being add a fudge factor to the 1k lap pace it is showing.
Spare running socks
Spare running shorts
Spare running singlet
Spare running T-shirt
Spare shoes
Long Skins
Beanie (in case I got cold if I needed an extended break - I didn't)
Waterproof jacket (as above - if raining - it did rain but I didn't need a long break)
Post race clothes
Soap & shampoo
10 litres of water (so I didn't need to queue for a shower afterwards)
Fuel belt & bottle (just in case I wanted it - for the record I didn't but I noticed some people did)
Fold up chairs
Fold up table
Sleeping bag
Tent (in case I had a disaster or any of the crew needed a nap - or if it pissed down and the food/gear needed protecting)
Sleeping mat
Towels (including one really big one for wrapping myself in if I needed an extended break - I didn't - but it was great at the end - Mrs 2p had the foresight to bring it to me when the gun went off - I love that woman)
Instant Ice (the kind that freezes when you squeeze and shake it)
2 x Elastoplast cans of cold spray (these were fantastic on the night - I will detail their use a little further on)
Elastoplast plastic skin spray (to cover any blisters or abrasions if I tripped/fell)
Sports tape
2 x conforming roller bandages (in case my calves blew)
Needle (for lancing blisters - I put the sharp end in a wine cork so it would be easy to find and wouldn't stab myself trying to find it in poor light conditions)
Insect repellent
Locktite type superglue (long story involving a flap I had with shoes coming apart once)
Esky & ice

I didn't use everything I took but I would take it all again and for the record I wanted for nothing on the night.

The Preparation - The Food and The Lotions & Potions

Again, an advantage of a track race is that weight is not an issue - from experience I took stuff I knew worked for me. In a nutshell I wanted 7 categories of food:

1. Stuff that would give me the quickest fix for low spots - glucose

2. Other simple sugars - pretty much as for above

3. Complex carbs - this was no sprint race I needed energy sources that would last

4. Salt

5. Legal stimulants - caffeine & guarana

6. Vitamins and minerals - B complex (just because) and magnesium (to ward off cramps)

7. NSAID's

So I settled on:

8 x 600ml bottles of Gatorade
4 x 375ml cans of Coke
2 x cans of VIG
3 x tetrapaks of Up & Go (breaky stuff)
Mountain Bread (didn't use it)
Peanut butter (didn't use it)
Honey (didn't use it)
2 x bananas (didn't use them)
Salt & Vinegar Pringles
Jelly Beans
4 x small Goulburn Valley fruit salads
1 x can of creamed rice (didn't use it)
1 x can of spaghetti (didn't use it)
Horlicks and hot skim milk in a thermos (in case it rained and I got cold - didn't need it
Coffee (didn't use it)
10 x Gu
3 x Power Bars (didn't use it - except for the one pre-race)
No Doz tabs
Voltaren Rapids
Nurofen Gel
B complex vit tabs
Magnesium tabs
Guarana & Ginko tabs
CoQ10 tabs
Panadeine (only for use if injured)
Thought about L-Carnitine but didn't have any and too tight to buy any at Central Coast prices :-)

Obviously I didn't use everything I had - my theory was that I knew what the merits of each of these foods was and I would just take what I felt like at the time but - and it is a big but - ensuring I got a reasonable mix of the top 5 groups mentioned above within every 1 hour period. Another for the record - I didn't run out of anything or want for something I didn't have either! I also had no energy problems or cramps during the entire 12 hours - just muscles that fatigued naturally over time.

I will detail what worked for me and what I did on the night a little further on - but if I was ever asked to choose just 3 things from the above list it would be jelly beans, pretzels & Gu.

The Preparation - The Race Plan

This was all new territory for me but I figured I needed a plan - the promise I made myself was that I would stick to it religously for the first 2 hours - then if I wanted I could tinker with it I but whatever I then decided was inviolate for the rest of the race. The rationale being I couldn't and wouldn't trust myself to make good decisions when tired. The only caveats being I could at anytime choose to walk more or stop to address any emerging niggle/injury. As it turned out I stuck with my original plan and invoked caveat 1 :-)

My most ambitious goal was 100k - so that is 250 laps at 2m 52s average or 7m 12s per k av - of course this has to include all breaks.

Mathematically it was then easiest to break the race into quarters ie for even splits it would be 25k (62.5 laps) in 3 hours, 50k (125 laps) in 6 hours etc.

My strategy to achieve this was to run at between 6m30s and 6m45s per k pace or between 2m36s and 2m42s laps. This meant that I would be "banking" between 10 and 16 seconds per lap for rest breaks - doesn't sound much - but as an example by 20k I would have somewhere between 8 & 13 mins up my sleeve.

The other part of my strategy was to operate to a 2 hour cycle (right from the start). Every 20 mins I was to take a 1min walk break - I've practiced this a lot and can do it without dropping averall pace - just run a tiny bit quicker going into and out of the break - by walk break I mean a comfy "sort yourself out" kind of walk not the full power ubangi (it's a variation on the Galloway model). I must take a drink and a nibble was optional on every walk. Then on every odd hour I had to eat something more substantial eg pretzels - within every hour I must have something that contained elements of the top 5 foods above. The final part of the cycle was to stop every 2 hours for as long or short as I needed to sort myself out eg I could sit down, use ice out of the esky to cool my legs, lance blisters, use cold spray etc etc. The only mandatory thing on the 2 hour breaks was to re-apply the Bodyglide whether I felt I needed to or not.


I knew there would come a time when I would have to walk more - I just hoped the plan would prolong my overall run time and that I had enough time in the "bank" to cover more walking later on.

Oh - one last bit - I had a can of VIG to take at the 3rd & 9th hour and a little vial of vitamins and drugs (B complex, No Doz, Guarana, Magnesium, CoQ10 and Voltarin Rapid) to take on the 6th hour - only little doses of each - I didn't want kidney failure!

The basic premise of this plan is that it broke the race down to 20min segments and had key milestones along the way. Psychologically this was good because the concept of 12 hours was a little daunting - yet I KNEW I could run for 20 minutes and then get a break - what could be easier? I'd just have to do 36 times - that's all :-)

The Preparation - At The Track

The format at Gosford is good - you can drive your car right into the centre of the track and set up a tent, table and chairs right on the edge of the track (in hindsight - I should have found this out prior).

Lap scoring was something we had to find out about - we were so naïve we didn't even know this meant logging the total elapsed time on each lap - go figure.

We arrived 1 full hour before race start to give plenty of time for setup. I just tried to do everything slowly and calmly - being anal (surprise, surprise) I had a checklist of everything I wanted to do.

Bodyglide, Amoline & Vaseline in that order (taking no chances) to inner thighs, nipples and inner arms.
30 mins out eat Power Bar
30 mins out take a multivitamin
Running singlet complete with number on
Double knot shoe laces
Garmin on
10 mins out take a Gu
9 mins out drink 200 mls of water
Relax till gun

The Race

Bang! We're off - it was a bit tough hanging back as the field raced away but there were enough walkers to make me feel ok about my slow start. I really didn't want that first break at 20 mins but I made myself take it and so it went for the first couple of hours.

For the first 2 hours 40 I called out the lap before my break was due what I'd want and Mrs 2P or the Halfpenny would get it - I didn't feel comfortable with this though as they had to walk from the scorers tent to our camp each time and sometimes they would miss-hear me or I would change my mind on what I wanted so in the end I just told them to put everything on the table and move it and the esky closer to the track. I wasn't grumpy - far from it, I was having a ball - it's just that being independent suited me better and I really didn't lose much time by doing it myself.

At first I lived on Gu, Gatorade and water with a few pretzels on the hour. On my first 2 hour stop I took an Up and Go which was fine. At 3 hours I re-discovered the value of the humble jellybean - that and a can VIG did amazing things to my pace and my disposition.

I went through 25k (first quarter) with 16 mins banked and it felt fantastic.

By 4 hours I was getting some groin pain in the adductors (same place I cramped at 6') so I gave my inner thighs a blast with the cold spray which worked fantastically - I had no further problems from them for the rest of the night. I also tried my 2nd Up & Go then but my tummy didn't want it so I put it down and had Gu, some pretzels and water.

I kept circulating a fraction slower but still nicely until just before the 5 hour mark (and our 2nd direction change) I felt discomfort in my tummy - I tried to ignore it but when I turned around the cone at 5 hours I knew I needed to RUN! I won't go into detail but it hurt and it went for a long time, stank and was accompanied by the most horrendous carcophony of sound. I thought I was only gone 7 or 8 mins but Mrs 2P who recorded it in the margin of the official lap score sheets (bless her) reckons it was longer - will find out when they post the sheets out.

I went through the 50k mark with 14 mins in the bank which meant in a relative sense I was going backwards. I wasn't too concerned though because a fair chunk of the deterioration was due to the toilet break and whilst I wasn't overly confident, I still thought 100k was achieveable.

At 6 hours I took my vitamin pack with some coke - but I reckon coke is over-rated in distance events (it's real value for me came in the 12th hour when I was over Gatorade and Gu - variety can be good). Even when flat, coke always makes me feel a little bloated.

At 7 hours I tried Pringles but found the pretzels suited me better and stuck with them for the rest of the night.

Unfortunately, my tummy went off twice more - I'm a little hazy on exactly when (I will know when I get my sheets back) and when I went through 70k in 8 hours 29 mins even my dulled cerebral processes could dredge from my memorised splits that I'd blown out to a smidge over the 7.12 per km average I needed - not by much - but enough to tell me the 100k was not on anymore. It was a case of "accept the situation 2P and move on". As Mrs 2P walked over to camp I just looked at her as I rubbed Nurofen Gel into my quads and said "well we can kiss 100k goodbye - looks like we're shootin for 90 something".

My tummy problems cleared up around 80k but by that stage fatigue (particularly in my quads - which only responded in part to cold spray and rubbing with chunks of ice & Nurofen Gel) meant I needed longer and more frequent walks and my running pace dropped right off - just after the 10 hour mark was my darkest time and I realise I made a mistake here - my pace was down to a trudge at times dipping to nearly 9 mins per k pace and with it my moral dipped too as I realised I was in danger of missing even 90k - it took me far too long to realise I needed to walk a few laps to recover enough to get running again at a reasonable pace.

My heart resisted walking but my brain insisted on it. I tried it - walking 3 straight laps and then got running again and was heartened to see that I was back to about a 6.30 pace. A few laps whizzed by and I had a new plan - whenever my pace dipped worse than 7 mins I would walk, recover and then run again.

It was here that Mrs 2P intuitively knew what to do - a whiz with maths in her head -she started coaching me on exactly what I needed to do time wise per lap to get to 90k and slowly but surely I grew more confident I was going to make it - in fact I made it and managed a further 3.2k but it had taken me three and a half hours to travel my final 23.2k!

One further point - I never bothered to change any of my clothes - I sweat buckets and realised that anything fresh would only last maybe a lap and it would be in the same shape as the stuff I was already squelching in.

The Recovery

To be honest I was worse after Six Foot - my quads are still very sore though and 2 full days later I still need to crab sideways down stairs. Yesterday my biceps, back and tummy were also sore but they are fine today.

After the race I went home and had an hour nap, but wanted to get back to regular sleep patterns so got up. I had another nap around 4pm for 2 hours.

I've had no cravings since which indicates my nutrition plan worked well. And I am blissfully injury free.

I don't think I'll be ready to run tomorrow but a light cycle appeals.

What Have I Learned?

Whilst I knew walking was good and had a scheduled walk break every 20 mins I learned that walking for longer than what I was allowing myself as I fatigued (I don't think I walked more than three quarters of a lap at any time up to the 10 hour 40 mark) would get my pace up and improve my overall performance.

I don't know if I learned anything about my tummy or not? It wasn't the types of food - all were tried and tested, maybe it was the amounts? Or maybe it was just my bodies way of reacting to stress - only further experience will tell.

I learned that I want more info from my crew on progress and need to brief them in future to this effect - I really liked it when Mrs 2P took the initiative towards the end to break goals down for me to bite size chunks complete with time requirements.

I learned I like the cold spray - tis good!

I learned I prefer to get my own food and drink - I'm not sure why - just finicky I guess.

I confirmed the value of the humble jellybean and the pretzel.

I confirmed that whilst I enjoy exchanging banter and encouragement I prefer to run alone.

I learned that track runs are fun - the constant contact with crew and other runners is nice. Being passed and passing people is both good and bad but at least you get to see folk a fair bit including the gun runners - something you don't get in point to point. And everyone finishes at the same time - And before anyone asks no it is not boring - in fact the crew who were not so secretly dreading the night both reported they had a very enjoyable night and have yapped on about it non-stop since. As a runner I didn't find it in the slightest monotonous.

I learned I could still run after 93k - so what's next? :-)

I think that's about it!

Oh no its not - PS Tesso if a slow fat bastard like me can do 93k then an athlete of your calibre will romp in a hundred :-)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Night shift - Central Coast Classic

Today Total: 93.238k
Week Total: 126.238k
Month Total: 126.238k
Year Total: 126.238k

Well what a way to round out the first week of running for 2006! Twelve hours of fun doing a hamster impersonation (well that's how my 14 year old daughter - the Halfpenny - described it)  running around a 400m track at Gosford.

I only hatched this plan just a few weeks before Christmas - trolling through the calendar on CR one night I noticed this event and slowly the wheels and cogs started to clunk and whir - hmmmm a 12hr, why not?

Being my first real ultra (previous Six Foot campaigns aside) I played my cards close to my chest and very few people knew I was going to have a crack. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be able to pick some of the finest (and nicest) ultra running and crewing minds around - those of Paul Every  and Diane Weaver (Paul has won this event previously) and with my naïve questions answered I felt my confidence grow.

The three hurdles to overcome were to engage a support crew (Mrs 2P & the Halfpenny), get permission from the evil Gastroc Twins and to get rid of the last of the lurgy hanging around on my chest. Well the twins could not have been more cooperative in the lead up - nary a murmer from them. The support crew whilst not exactly wildy enthusiastic were at least willing and for that I am extremely grateful. As for the chest - well 2 out of 3 ain't bad - at least there didn't seem to be any infection - just the dregs......

I approached this event like a long training run for Six Foot rather than a race for 2 reasons. Firstly so I really didn't care how far I ran as long as I lasted the 12 hours (though I would have been disappointed with anything less than 80k and my race plan at least gave me the chance to get into triple figures). And secondly I didn't want this to consume my life - I'm on holidays :-)

I went through 50k in around 5hrs 45mins which meant that 100k was theoretically possible particularly considering because I hadn't gone out too hard but had been exceptionally disciplined about my pace from the get-go - but operating off a base of approximately 50k per week it just wasn't on - I went through 80k bang on 10 hours but all I could manage was 13.238k in the last 2 hours. Mind you I ran further in the 12th hour than in the 11th.

My race plan was to run about a 6.30 to 6.45 min per k pace and to walk for 1 min every 20 mins and eat and drink. This worked really well at first, but from the 6 hour mark I needed longer walk breaks. What really killed me was 3 x 7 or 8 min toilet breaks - I can only assume I was eating too much - on the bright side, I didn't get any cramps :-)

There were a few other CR's present - Barney, So Lucky, Miss Skarmel, also Paul Every and Jan Hermans of C2K fame who I knew were also there - but the standout performance of the people I knew was Horrie - he had an absolute blinder racking up over 102k! Well done Horrie. There were other stellar performances too, particularly from the top 3 women who also all went over 100k including the female winner who was 2nd outright with over 115k.

I ended up 13th (I think) overall from 45 starters an couldn't be happier with my performance - this represents more than double the furthest distance I have ever run in one go and I am stoked.

Mrs 2P and the Halfpenny were simply brilliant and I can't express how thankful I am to them. What a brilliantly run and organised event! NB I may edit this post when I eventually get back to Sydney later next week when my sleep deprived thoughts are more more lucid :-)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bonanza & Bitumen

Today Total: 10k
Week Total: 33k
Month Total: 33k
Year Total: 33k

Cooler misty conditions today on the lake so it was road trip time to Tuggerah. I finally managed to locate A-Mart and commenced my search for the fabled Landreth.

I found the Landreths which was great but was a little disappointed to see the sale price was $129 (Miners got them much cheaper) but I picked up the last pair in my size and also the last pair of Nimbus 7 in my size at $116 - when I went through the checkout the girl scanned them pressed some buttons and said "$60 please" - I asked her if she was sure and she said "yes", I asked her again and she looked at the receipt rolled her eyes a bit and said "yeah" with that God I'm so over this job look -  so who was I to argue?  $400+ worth of shoes for $60!!!

So thanks Miners & Myrtle for pointing me to A-.Mart and I absolutely love the Landreths. I got Mrs 2P to drop me at the Chain Valley Bay turnoff and made my way home via a circuitous route on the bitumen (mostly) - LOL this is because I didn't want to get the new Landreths dirty :-) Because they are lighter I want to keep them for racing.

I was happy with 10k in 56.01 (av 5.36) in new shoes and over some big hills. I'm intending to do a very long run on the weekend, so probably won't run again till then.

I'm missing reading other blogs but I do think of you guys often - happy training.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Point Wolstoncroft

Today Total: 12k
Week Total: 23k
Month Total: 23k
Year Total: 23k

I've wanted to do this run for a long time - I last ran out to Point Wolstoncroft when I was 11 years old with one of my primary school teachers an Irishman by the name of Mr Cameron. So todays run was full of nostalga - most of it bad - I got into soooo much trouble on that school camp :-)

Running from my place the route goes past the infamous Ray Williams (of HIH) mansion and through the sport & rec camp. Strictly speaking there is no public access except for residents of the park but I figure my taxes contribute to the upkeep of the place and the employees wages so that should entitle me to at least one run through this lovely part of the world.

The trail goes through delightful eucalypt forest with ocassional views of the lake. The point itselt looks out onto the lionlike Pulbah Island and I spent a few minutes taking in the beauty of the place. In the local dialect Gwandalan is Aboriginal for peaceful waters and I certainly couldn't argue with their nomenclature.

It was with a happy heart that I turned tail and headed for home.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Odometer Reset

Happy New Year everyone and thanks for all your kind comments in 2005 - may all your hopes and dreams come to fruition in 2006 - if you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it.

Today Total: 11k
Week Total: 11k
Month Total: 11k
Year Total: 11k

Time to set the old k counter back to zip and have my first run for 2006..

After yesterdays scorcher it was blessed relief when the cool Southerly hit last night at about 11pm ensuring some sleep. We pretty much just mooched around reading this morning and then headed out to the shops for a resupply of victuals.

On the way home Mrs 2P jettisoned me from the car at a much lower speed than she would have liked and her and the halfpenny continued home. I set off for a jaunt through the fire trails on an exploratory trip around Crangan Bay.

Things got a little more "technical" than I would have liked when one turning took me to a dead end. Reasoning that to head West (rather than back-track) through the thigh-high ferns would get me back to a trail I knew to exist in that direction I did the highland fling with gianormous knee lift hoping like hell that all the joe blakes in the area were hung over from their New Years celebrations.  I started to doubt my wisdom for a while but after about 800m I hit pay dirt and continued on my merry way.

All up I was pretty satisfied with 11k in 65 mins over fairly undulating ground - so far so good for 2006.