Six Foot Track- 1st place

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A relatively quick turn around between the In2Adventure 50k and the Six foot track kept me motivated and mentally race ready. A couple of quick sets with the Sapphire Coast runner Bega boys (15min TT and 8 x 500s max) kept the legs honest and I pulled up a bit sore in the 2nd week so took the days leading into the race very cruisy- I did less running less bike and used the water as much possible – I was mentally quite relaxed too and the nerves from the year before were gone- I  felt I had the preparation and had learnt from last year. Even my sore leg didn’t phase me-  My self diagnosis was extensor digitorium and tibialias anterior irritation and ill save my tricks of the trade to manage that for another post 🙂

I travelled to Kiama on Thursday arvo and had a great Friday morning running the coastline and swimming a km in the Shellharbour ocean bath! Back when I did triathlons I did a 13.20 PB for a 1km swim TT and averaged 46 strokes a lap-on the Friday it took me 21.30 and I was doing 62 strokes a lap! And I have never been fitter…it’s amazing how specific training is and how things change with time!  I always found swimming was forced and I was never at one in the water like I am running…but will continue to use the water as a recovery and cross training medium!

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I met my parents and grandparents in Katoomba before we drove down in to the Jenolan Caves where we would be staying the next 2 nights. An early dinner and to bed before a 4am wake up breakfast and bus to the start. My parents and grandparents slept in and were to wait at the end for me to arrive- although a fantastic course to run it’s not the best for spectators so it was best for them to just track me from the caves for me to hopefully pop in round 11! The bus trip left my HR high arriving just 10mins before the event so no warmup! Not ideal but I just told myself to warm up through the race instead!

The vibe was awesome as ever and even though it was still dark but there was lots of familiar faces and I was surprisingly calm- I knew what I had to do and was very determined to run my own race and get it right this year!

 

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Kitted out with the new ultras 🙂

 

At 7 the gun went off and we were hurtling down the 6 foot track- everyone started super fast! I counted 4 girls ahead as I hit the stairs …here I grandma run it down- it was wet and still lightly sprinkling and these stairs are all uneven and slippery and I knew though I couldn’t win the race here a bad fall could end it!

I lost a bit of time to the others down but wasn’t phased and although my quads nearly cramped at the bottom I used the next part of the track which is fairly flat to gently stride out and kept reminding myself not to chase- last year I ran this much harder to make up time so this year I just rolled along- I used the first check point and cattle grids at 8k as a signal to start eating and over the next 7kms to the river I really enjoyed the single track.

Crossing the river with a group of guys I saw Kellie Emmerson ahead in addition to the large wall that signalled the first climb! Again I reminded myself it was “my race my pace” as I started up – though I took it fairly easy here I passed Kellie and caught Sophie easily- My mountain goat legs were on song and I enjoyed chatting to the runners and taking in the sights as we went up. It was still misty and rainy but gorgeous!

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First hill done then down again and through half way I  started my 1k 1 bite strategy of fuelling and then again began to climb- I had no visual on the girls ahead but knew I was running strong.

This climb is not as steep and I eventually got sight of the 2nd lady Victoria- I also had a man in blue doing almost exactly my pace so used him as a marker to drag me up. Again My race My pace was my motto and got to the top of pluvi without  issues.

Through 27k I caught Charlie (I guy I know from school running) and we ran together through the flatter section for a k or 2- they had told me I had a minute to gain on the lead girl but it seemed like in less than a k she was in sight!

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I caught her (Katie from America) and we ran together through the rolling bits for a few ks- she ran well on the flats but struggled on the hills and I used this to pull away on a small climb-I was infront with round 14k to go! I felt good here and used the flatter sections to really put some time in with the guys in front go rabbits to catch- I didn’t want to have to race the last ks on the tricky descent so I made up the time here instead.

Through this section I thought of how lucky I was to be in this moment and used my family and friends energy and that of the 100s of volunteers to will me to the finish.

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I really enjoyed the last 10k- I had no recollection from last year ( I was not in a good way at all!) so it was like a new run and I had a big grin on my face as I came past people.

The last bit is tricky and steep down and I backed it off and relaxed as I wound down the switch backs- I could hear the crowd and I could here them say the first girl is close and it was such an amazing experience to then run into Jenolan Caves and cross that line in first in 3.57- 7 minutes quicker than last year with a big grin on my face!

I was walking talking and it was so nice getting a big hug from all my family- mum dad ma and pa at the end. I had an interview with Robbo and swapped stories with other runners before heading for a shower.

It was great over the next few hours to talk to other runners and volunteers and see the sweepers bring everyone home before the presentation. Talking with Vlad, Lou, Brendan, Kellie and some new friends too was great and I’m sure I will see them all at another event soon!

So thanks to all the organisers of 6 foot track it such a well run and supported event and its an awesome track to be able to experience and they do such a great job Its much harder for them then us runners! Thanks to my family for coming, my running family and friends old and new (especially those on the Sapphire Coast), James who is organising our next running adventure so had to work instead, to Salomon and Suunto for kitting me out and their ongoing support, to work for letting me go adventure and thanks to the Buller family- Chris was their watching I’m sure.

Get out each day and play 🙂

Steph

 

 

 

 

 

 

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