Catch up time

I've been a bad blogger.

It's been over 70 days since the CCC and I haven't posted a thing.

Most of you will know from my Facebook page that I DNFed. I was withdrawn from the course at the Triente checkpoint, 72ks into the race.

I'm sure I'll write a post at some point about the CCC. But the short version is, it was brutal. The hardest thing I've ever attempted. I underestimated just how much up and down there was in the damn thing, even after studying the course and elevation profile. You just can't fathom hills that go for hours until you're there and doing it.

We travelled home from Europe not long after After that I took some time to recover and lick my wounds.

Then it was maintenance and rebuild time.

I started running again after a few weeks, just short runs. New shoes, new orthotics, and

I have already set  some new goals, the first one being to run 150ks this November for the Indigenous Marathon Foundation Virtual Run.

I’m 43% of the way through November and as of this morning I’ve covered 51ks, or 33% of the goal. I’m a tracking a little behind but I’m confident.

I’ve also entered the Strava challenge to run 10ks in one run in November. I’ve achieved this (but not publicly). So I have at least another 10k run to tick off.

This is all building to running 21ks by the end of the year, so I can build into my 2017 goal ultras. I'll join the December Strava

More on that later.

Until then, I think I can say, I am back.

A prelude to the CCC

Tomorrow when I run the CCC at the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, I'll carry with me this photo.

I don't know this young man, and I'll never meet him.

The photo is of my husband's cousin, and it was taken on the morning he set out with his university mountaineering club to summit Mont Blanc. His eyes, to me, sparkle with adventure and expectation, and his smile radiates happiness.

Ian didn't make the top of Mont Blanc and sadly he didn't make it back from that trip. He died on the mountain, decades ago.

Last time my husband and I visited Chamonix we visited Ian's grave.

At that time I knew very little of Ian's story. I hadn't seen the image I now carry, I had no connection to this person or this place. When we reached Ian's plot, I realised how young he'd been when he'd made his perilous pilgrimage. How long ago it was and yet how current his loss still is.

All of a sudden I was overcome. With sorrow for the loss his parents probably feel acutely still today. With respect for them, and for everyone who makes what must be a difficult decision to bury their loved ones' remains here, in Chamonix, in the climbers cemetery, instead of repatriating them to their home. Because this decision is made with the idea of living a life of adventure at its centre, even though that adventure may take life away.

In that moment I felt such a human connection to Ian, to his parents and friends. It was unexpected and therefore immensely powerful to me.

You might be thinking that I'm running here for Ian. But I'm not that honourable - I didn't choose the UTMB for that reason. If anything it's a coincidence that the world's biggest trail run happens to be here. 

I don't think for a minute that carrying a photo of Ian with me will give anyone that loved him, and still misses him, comfort or solace.

For some reason though, in this place, with this connection, it feels like the right thing to do.

Ten things to do while tapering for an ultramarathon

Taper can be challenging to get right. Your active kilometres, well, taper off to allow your body to recover from the slog of endurance training, and feel fresh for event day.

The challenges include too much time, not enough activity, still too hungry and logistics to get your head around.

I'm writing this from Briancon, in the week before the CCC at Chamonix. I've dubbed our Airbnb my "Briancon Bunker" where I'll finalise my preparation for the epic challenge to come, and this has inspired this post on things to do right before an ultramarathon.

European training #2: Hamburg Alster Lake

After Morzine I headed off to Hamburg to indulge my other life as a triathlon technical official.

I knew there wouldn't be a lot of time to train but I managed to get in a 10k run around the Alster Lake.

I had intended to run more through the city and take in the architecture but as I headed out from my hotel I followed the other runners to what seems to be the city's primary running track.

There's even a self-timed running route around the lake - just purchase your chip from the official website of Alster running and you're away!

It was a bit of a gloomy morning but I still took the time to take in the views including this small harbour at the end of the Lake.

And, I still got my architecture in - stopping by St Georg's Kirchen on the way back to the hotel.

Even though 10ks isn't really a lot of mileage for where I'm at with my training I found out later in the day that none of my technical official friends went out in the rain that morning. I felt good at having done *something*

Check out the Strava file for this run.

European training #1: Morzine

I was looking forward to Morzine. We'd visited on our previous trip to France and it was a beautiful town with lots of great cycling nearby.

We'd been struck by how many mountain bikers had been in town. So I knew there would be trails there and I was relishing the thought. I found there was a trail up to the top of Avoriaz, a nearby ski station that I'd cycled up on our previous visit so that was my choice.

I wasn't so excited at the weather forecast - 14 degrees and rain.

I decided I had to go out for a run anyway - particularly after being all gloves off about my training in my previous blog post.

With a map from the Morzine tourist office I head up the mountain confidently.

That didn't last long - I found a trail marker outside a row of houses - but couldn't find the trail. Consulting my map, I saw that the there was another trail junction a few switchbacks up, so continued up the road in search of it.

However, I failed in this quest. The cold and dreary weather got to me and not even the sight of the cable car gondolas through the mist helped.

Reluctantly, I turned back down the mountain, and came across a mountain bike trail back to Morzine. I headed down that instead of the road, and by the time I got back to Morzine the rain had stopped. I made up some ks by running along the river to the outskirts and town, then back to our accommodation.

Check out this run on Strava.

I'm back and I'm here!

I'm writing this on the flight to Geneva, with just over six weeks to go before the CCC at the UTMB.

I should be excited, but right now, trying to get my thoughts together - I'm not quite there yet. 

When I found out in February I'd been drawn in the lottery for this event, I wanted to do it justice. I decided I wanted to have a similar preparation as if had for the GNW100 last year. I wanted to be as fit as I'd ever been. I wanted to be ready. 

I wanted to be many things, but now I'm looking back wishing.

I wish I hadn't sprained my ankle in February. I wish I had have lost a couple more kilograms. I wis I had have gotten up in the cold a few more times. I wish I hadn't gotten sick a few weeks ago. 

But that's all done now and I'm on the plane and I'm telling myself I still have time for some good solid training. And that's true. 

I can also feel satisfied that I made my last weekend in Brisbane count. 

On Saturday I ran one of the city's most popular cycling routes, the river loop. It was a solid 36 Ka on the road. I felt strong and I felt fit. It's a run I have up my sleeve for when I need the confidence boost that comes from knowing I was running what must others ride.

On Sunday I covered 22ks out at Bunyaville. It wasn't really enough - I should really have gone for 25 - 30ks. But it was the first time I'd really attacked a trail run since my injury. I didn't make excuses, I just ran the way I want to in my upcoming event - consistent on the flat, confident in the downhills, and steady and strong up hills. 

In retrospect, I think what I was trying to do last weekend was rule a line under all this doubt so I can start fresh for my last training push, unencumbered by work and by winter. 

The forecast for our first stop, Morzine, doesn't guarantee the latter, but I've promised myself some adventure and some space to reconfigure my thoughts and energy. 

Paying it forward

I get so much support when I do big events, from far and wide.

Friends that pop up unexpectedly, friends that track me remotely, friends that think to send me a text, or an email, to wish me well.

I had the pleasure of paying that energy forward last weekend, to my dear friend Donna, who tackled the Oxfam Trailwalker with her team the Wander Women.

Running winter errands

Each year I find myself with a short lived bout of winter sadness.

Last year I beat it through a combination of public transport and obligation.

This last weekend I ran an errand.

It's global running day and I didn't run

I know right.


Though I feel like it's *really* a day for northern hemisphere runners, where it's the first day of summer. Here it's the first day of winter and it felt like it.

That's not why I didn't run today though. I promise!

Doggone... And back again!

I fell in love with this little furry friend a few months ago. How could I not. This little fella was so cute and polite. There's no barking, he would just sit there at his spot by the fence, watching the passers by, and to me, looking like he really wanted a pat.

I took this photo after I'd noticed him standing in this spot by the fence a few times. I'd stopped and said hello but I'd never had the courage to pat him... just in case.

Prelude to an injury

My stupid ankle injury happened in New Zealand.

The day before I stupidly fell over nothing and moderately sprained my ankle, I spent a few hours running and trekking through the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. 

I'm glad I took the time to do so - the place is breathtaking. Keep reading for a glimpse of the beauty and adventure.

What I didn't need

OK, so this happened.

Yes, that's ice on my ankle, a couple of weeks ago now.

I put ice on my ankle because I had a nasty fall when out running. I haven't run since.

New friends, old friends and parkrun friends

Tomorrow is parkrunday.

I'm running at Michelton with some friends - some old, some new.

This is not my normal operation at parkrun... usually I fly solo. I've gotten in the habit of picking up friends along the way.

Don't eat the dirt

When I'm out running I often find myself drawn to things that strike me as unusual. I probably should be focusing on running but let's be honest - part of why any of us run is to enjoy being outside and to take our surroundings.

I've come to realise that there's a good reason why many of the things I'm drawn to don't seem to fit - they are often of another time. 

Cue the "accidental historian"...

My running carrot

I just finished reading The Way of the Runner: A Journey into the Fabled World of Japanese Running by English journalist Adharanand Finn.

He travels to Japan and visits a monastery where monks run a thousand marathons in a thousand days in search of spiritual enlightenment; and trains with university and corporate teams who compete in the lucrative and prestigious ekiden - a long distance run covered by a team rather than an individual.

He surmises that the team environment of the ekiden encourages competitors to beyond what they could as an individual, and vows to test this theory. But...

The "consolation" prize

My goal for the last couple of years has been to qualify for the UTMB.

It took me a while to out myself on this goal and when I did, I admitted to being fairly fearful about it. There was a good reason for that. It was a lofty one and in the end, it turned out I'd bitten off more than I could chew. I failed to finish my final qualifying race, so came up short.

I've been awarded a consolation prize though.

2015 goals... 2016 goals... it's all the same to me.

It's that time of the year when all good athletes set their physical goals for the year.

I could just repost my "Goals for 2015" post as "Goals for 20156". I didn't achieve my main running goal last year so it's still good to go.

But it seems I didn't write a post about my goals last year. There are probably two reasons for this.