Ultratrail Australia 50km had always been on my rader after I discovered trail running last year winning the first ever 22km pace athletic run in 2016. I had also been on the spot on the microphone last year and when asked “Will you be back for the 50k next year?” my enthusiastic Yes! had mentally locked me in 12month ago.
Unfortunately my foot injury continued to plague my training efforts and at a Parkrun in early May I injured the other side- my left foot (compensation from the r stiff Achilles) with an acute plantar fascia and metatarsalgia making me unable to push off to run at all…
Resting had never been my strength and it is something I had identified as a weakness since starting coaching under Brendan Davies 11months ago- i was a work horse and loved to run and I used running to solve most things!
Brendan once said to me your problem is you cant separate emotional running and performance running. You want to be an elite athlete but unless you start treating it unemotionally and as what it is…just running…it will be difficult to deal with setbacks. At the time I knew it was a potential problem however at the time I was not injured…
Ironically as a physiotherapy I would encourage rest and pacing for my injured runners yet I struggled to apply the same to myself- I enjoy pressure but when your body is not agreeing with your mind and your play time is reduced it is no fun at all! As an athlete you always toe the line between health performance and injury and I finally realised I was still over stepping the mark- I could not push off without my foot collapsing under me and I had to take stock- I really wanted to do UTA and I needed to unload both feet and look a bit more long term.
So I joined the gym and spent the next two weeks cross training (elliptical, bike, rower, gym and swim) and walking and lots of mental games…I am a big fan of podcasts though and had a listen to some great interviews from POGO physiotherapist Brad Beer and was inspired by everyone’s stories and battles with injury, doubt and certainly put my own issues in perspective.
To take the pressure off and enjoy the experience (because really… beside for the pursuit of excellence and to be better… that’s the reason I run and particularly trail run!) I let the organisers know I would not be a major contender but I would still run and just do my best.
On the Thursday morning before the event I tried my first jog with James- 4ks at 530pace..R Achilles was stiff but left foot was relatively normal. I was going to be able to start! I knew if I started I would finish…even if I had to walk…and I promised myself I would not push if an injury pain came back.
So…It was a tough day at the office..my feet were good..well they hurt from the start but more in an aching way than an injury way…thankfully my footwear choice was spot on! I would not have been able to do it in any other shoe than my pro max! But my 2 months of interrupted training saw my legs not conditioned particularly for the descent so the changed course and going down the fuber steps and being careful to not hurt them saw my quads take a big battering..no cramp but close!
I was just repeatedly saying steady and light Steph and the single track along landslide was fun! The hike up and out of the valley was good -cardio wise I was fine but I was caught in a train of people but mentally used this as a positive – pushing now could be detrimental later!
Once we got to the road I just started a careful run along the ridge- I ran up all hills – well shuffled as I was determined to minimise walking- as my legs were now aching like crazy through this section- like on the verge of a cramp but all over… I put that down to being de-conditioned to the terrain. I kept shuffling and chatting to runners until we reached the camp-I ran with fellow Salomon runner Fiona at this point and both shared how it was not going to be our day today and hopefully we can just finish! The hike out of the valley hurt (I didn’t want to hike but it was as fast as I was shuffling) and the next bit was a bit of a blur through to the 6 foot aid station.
Up Nellies Glen I power hiked around the 100k runners but I was struggling- everything was burning and I felt sickly but knew the quicker I went the quicker I would finish. The down technical trail hurt more with my feet and quads protesting with every step. Out of the bush onto the road and thankfully I found Glenn and Tammy two of the Sapphire Coast Runners-I was hurting bad but thankful Glenn offered to run with me to the end which made those final 5ks so much more bearable- even if I couldn’t really talk and thank him enough!
I had made it. 5hrs 31 later. I sat down unable to speak, shattered but relieved to have reached the end- I certainly felt I had earnt the medal around my neck! I managed 9th female and although disappointed I had nothing else to give that day. At that point I got a message from James – his hips were shot and he would not get past the QVH at 78k- we hobbled back changed and went and picked him up. What a day! Home made pizzas in our house and many stories shared between all our club runners (18 of them!). The club had awesome results across the 3 events and I think we will be all back next year! I am certainly keen to give the 50 another crack!
Back home and a week to the Merimbula Fun Run. My feet were still questionable and I was worried about going quickly so designated myself as the 5min k pacer across the 10 and 5km events. Being apart of the committee it was great to be involved behind the scenes and see the hours of effort that goes into a fun run. From a night time letterbox drop on the Monday night to hammering in tomato stakes to phone calls for top soil to minimise trip hazards I was only a small part of the massive team that made the event happen.
With May finishing and winter approaching my goal is to get to The Gold Coast Marathon start line pain free and fit- sub 3 would be good and 2.45 would be out of this world! And Melbourne will now be the quick atttempt…
Get outside and Play!
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