The day didn’t start well - my alarm was supposedly set for 4am and I was awoken at 5.20am by Peta asking if the alarm should have gone off yet. It was going to be a rush to make it to the start…
However, I left just after 5.30am with just a chocolate milkshake for breakfast, and headed north on what I thought would be a tight hour drive - in the end, it was closer than I expected and I parked at around 6.10, and was registered, numbered and ready to go at 6.20.
At 6.30 we got to see some of the longer distance runners go past after their first lap (as we would do around an hour later) and then we were off. I kept my pace as gentle as I could, not trying to keep up with the faster runners and letting people go in front if they wanted.
I settled into a rhythm, and kept it very easy uphill (I ran almost no hills the entire day). The first loop was relatively comfortable.
The next bit was the run up to the carpark at the base of Beerburrum. This was again pretty easy if you walk it. Once at the car park you get to run straight back down again, past all the runners behind you. I made the most of this section and just opened up, enjoying a quick descent. For some reason I thought that was going to be the worst of the hills.
The next hour was pretty much fire trails with no significant terrain at all - but I must remember to keep an eye out for route markings - I was lucky to only go 100m or so off course before meeting other people coming back. A narrow escape for me.
At checkpoint 4 I took on some more nutrition - a pikelet, some chews, coke - a quick stop before continuing. I was still doing very well at this point, the first two hours I did 22km.
Between checkpoints 4 and 5 is really where it started to go wrong. It was mainly the ascents that hit me hard, but also the increase in temperature. By the time I got to checkpoint 5 I was definitely walking a lot more often!
At checkpoint 5 I took on some more food and also refilled the camelbak before heading on for the next epic bit. I made a catastrophic error at what was termed checkpoint 6a - I thought the sign was pointing to it, not saying I was there. For the next hard 5km, I was convinced I’d missed a checkpoint. This had a very demoralising effect - I was concerned I’d be disqualified. I found it very difficult to stay motivated and my walking became more frequent. In addition, the terrain was very tough - steep descents down dusty trails, tough climbs that were hard enough even to walk.
When I reached the road, I decided to head back to find 6a (not realising I’d already been there). This added an extra couple of km (although it felt like more) - when I arrived and discovered I’d misunderstood, I was merely a little deflated, and just headed back on the run back to 5 along the short path. At this point a marshall was driving past, and was concerned I was going the wrong way. I explained the situation and that I’d already done the hard bit and he drove me back to where I’d rejoined the trail - that probably saved my mental state no end! It does make my pace look a bit odd for 1 km where I do 40km/h!
After checkpoint 5 it was a quick descent past the Glasshouse Mountains scenic viewpoint and a chance to get some quick kms out - unfortunately my body just wasn’t that willing to cooperate and while my legs could do some quick bits for a few hundred metres, there were no more fast kms after that. Occasionally I’d round a corner to get a blast of heat.
At checkpoint 2 it was good to take some water on again for the last 5km or so. There were some tough times but I bumped into a couple of people on the way - noone seemed to be having much fun! There are some questions to be had regarding my hydration strategy at this point - I was drinking plenty but it didn’t seem to do much good - perhaps I’d have been better pouring some of it over my head, especially in light of recent events
The last couple of km seemed to take forever, considering I’d already run the same course in the first 10km, but in the end I was caught by surprise by the very end as I just wasn’t sure how far it was one minute, the next it was 200m to go!
In the end it took 6:07:13, two hours longer than the winner. But I can console myself with being middle of presumably a reasonably elite group (there’s not many people that would start a 50km run), placed 32nd out of 64 starters. Had I not had my route error, I would have saved the 20 minutes taken there, and any time lost to due to loss of focus at the time.
I was very happy to finish, and I love my souvenir ultra finishers mug! (the qualifier is important as I think I’d have done far better on the 30km run, but I wouldn’t have got the mug!)
So. Would I do it again? Yes. I’d hope for a cooler day (but realise I could get a warmer day). My goals of going longer in 2013 have been cut back - I may well have a couple of cracks at the 50km distance again, but I’ll concentrate on improving upon that distance before going any longer. And I can definitely improve just by trail running more frequently, even at the shorter distances.
And finally, the Garmin data. Obviously the bit where I go 40km/h (and indeed the following km where I go sub 5:00/km for the only time) should be ignored.