Sunday, March 15, 2009

Six Foot Track marathon

5hr 38.30min; 422nd overall; 33rd in age group

All those months of training came down to, in my case, 5hr 38.30min of the hardest running I have ever done. We arrived in Katoomba Friday afternoon to be met with overcast skies and drizzle, which soon turned into brief heavy showers. The Blues Festival was also on this weekend so there was a mixture of athletes and music lovers out on the streets and in the cafes. Once I had collected my race number and timing chip we returned to our motel for dinner and an early night.

Saturday morning came around all too soon and I was being dropped off at the park'n'ride location to catch a bus to the start at the Explorers Tree. Once there I managed to catch up with Mick, Nick, Elle, twofruits, Ewen, John, Roger and softshoeshuffle. Wave 2 soon got underway - we were off, down down down Nellies Glen, which was very muddy and slippery. Runners soon bunched up as we picked our way down very carefully - no-one wanted to sprain an ankle, or worse, so early into the run.

The path soon opened up and became a very pleasant run along fire trails. It is always easy to go too hard in this section down to Cox's River, of course, paying for it later on. So knowing this, why didn't I take it easier? In 2007 I took about 1hr 55min to reach Cox's River, yesterday it was 1hr 36.41min. Hmmmm. I crossed the river with John - runners were directed 'wet' (go through the river) and 'dry' (over the boulders). I was directed to the river, but it was only the first of several water crossings - the others to follow were only creeks but enough to soak my already soaked shoes again. At this stage twofruits was just ahead of me - that should've been a warning light that maybe I had gone just a bit too fast.

The less said about Mini Mini Saddle and Pluviometer the better, I think. Lets just say that I ran out of steam somewhere around here - going up one of the many hills. Even though my walking has improved, it seems that everyone can still outwalk me, and I can't blame it on my short legs. There were other people my height powering up those hills. Now it was a case of walk a lot, jog a little, walk even more, jog even less.

The Black Range should be a piece of cake after the Pluviometer, a respite from the hills. But my legs refused to play the game and I spent a lot of time also walking this and its not even hilly (compared to what we've just done). And then I did a CJ - hardly surprising as I was hardly lifting my feet and the trail is scattered with rocks and stones. It certainly caught the attention of those in front of me - they all turned to come to my aid but I gamely jumped up announcing I'm fine. To all appearances I did look fine - the only visual damage was split skin at the base of my little finger. My knees and elbows escaped unscathed but I was shook up and it took me a while to get back into any sort of rhythm again. I swore that this would be the last time I would ever do SFT again.

The last couple of kilometres downhill to the finish is murder on the quads. Some runners go flying down, others are taking it step by painful step. One runner went a cropper onto a rocky section - others went to his aid and I think he hobbled the remainder of the course, cursing as he went. Finally I was on the concrete path heading down to the finish - a lizard darted across my path momentarily startling me. Then it was down the steps, around the corner and through the finish - oh lordy there was no better sight! And Jen, sorry I couldn't chat for long but I was well and truly spent. All I wanted to do was lie down! But we will definitely catch up for coffee next month - I'm looking forward to it!

5hr 38.30min - 12 mins slower than 2 years ago, but 100 times more painful. Possibly going too hard to Cox's River was to blame. This is not the event to stuff up - because it can be a long and painful day.
Still, that was yesterday - this is today. It is 35 days to Canberra marathon, though the last thing on my mind is running. I am stiff, sore (where I landed when I tripped), tired and queasy. I feel hungover - its not a pleasant feeling. I have tomorrow off and i am looking forward to sleeping in. The next 5 weeks will be trial and error - I have no idea how to continue training for the next marathon when I have just completed a very challenging one.

According to February 2009 Runners World: 1 day to 1 week post-marathon (beginning today) - don't run; rest or go pool-running; work on flexibility in the morning and evening; eat healthy meals; continue to hydrate.

Comment: Couldn't run if my life depended on it - walking down steps is a challenge, particularly after sitting for a while,as we have done travelling back from Katoomba.

Flexibility - I'm too sore and stiff to stretch.

DOMS has settled in - DOMS may be the result of muscle tissue breakdown. Muscle biopsies taken from marathon runners after competition or training, have highlighted considerable cell damage in these athletes’ muscles. Although the actual pathophysiology of DOMS is debateable, most researchers agree that it results from strenuous eccentric muscle action such as downhill running, resulting in microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers.

Eat healthy meals - today its pizza and chocolate; tomorrow its a return to healthy meals.

Lack of Energy - a general lack of energy in the week following marathon is perfectly usual. Try to eat meals comprising 50-60 per cent carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen reserves, and foods rich in protein to assist your body in repairing muscle and tissue. Indulge any cravings you might have - these could be your body's way of telling you what it needs (pizza and chocolate?).

Scientific research also indicates that many marathon runners lose around 3mg of iron (about the amount in a serving of beef stew) per day for up to five days after the marathon, so eat foods rich in iron - including meat, spinach, beans, peaches, parsley and peas - during your post-marathon week. To promote iron absorption, drink orange juice or consume other rich sources of vitamin C with your meals.

Weight Gain - some runners complain of weight gain immediately after a marathon. This is most likely due to water retention as your muscles repair and rebuild. Don't be tempted to start (or resume) any weight-loss regime during this time - your body requires a full complement of nutrients to recover from the stress of the race. Of course, if you are still gaining weight after your first recovery week, you might want to consider adjusting your calorie intake to suit your new activity levels.

Hydration - I have to admit that I've not done very well with hydration - I don't feel thirsty and so I'm not drinking. Note to self - drink more water.
"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed" - Theodore Roosevelt


iliketoast said...

I admire you CJ, I have no desire to do that, ever. I think you can be very proud of your effort and achievement of getting to the end.

softshoeshuffle said...

Hey CJ, I'll second iliketoast's post. Having now run this race I think I'm qualified to say that no matter how the race pans out, a finish is a finish and you should take pride in your achievement. Hope to see you there next year.

speedygeoff said...

Well done, great effort, fantastic!

No running? I hope you are walking lots then, on the flat of course, the legs do need to move however sore they feel, or it gets even harder to start up again later.

Lots of fluid is however the most important thing, yes!

But congratulations, you are surely an over-comer. We ALL admire you heaps.

Ewen said...

Damn! I was hoping for a close-up photo of the "CJ".

It's a tough race to get right, so you'll have to keep coming back. Next one in 2011?

Have read a couple of interesting reports on ACTrun about 6' preparation. Dave O said he did 3 up/downs of Mt Ainslie, walking up and running hard down to toughen the quads.

Getting the speed right to the river would help, although 1:36 doesn't seem too fast for speedy you.

Jen_runs said...

It was nice to see you too CJ, albeit briefly.

Don't be too hard on yourself; it is a very difficult race to get (even close to) right. So I'll see you there in 2011? ;-)

Two Fruits said...

A finishing medal makes it all worth while. You did well, plan to get it more right next time. The team need a good leader next year.

strewth said...

Wow CJ - you did it - awesome effort in getting through all those difficulties and making it to the end in a very respectable time. Well done! Congratulations and do hope those legs recover soon - maybe a gentle massage would be a good plan! Great report!

Tesso said...

Man, what a race that is! Reading your story makes me realise why I don't want to do it.

Well done, that may be 12 mins slower than last time but its still a bloody good result. And you sound like you gave it your all, can't ask for much more than that.

Take care now. A few more days and you'll be feeling all normal again.

See ya soon!