It feels like a long time ago that I ran this 100k. In reality, it was just over 3 weeks ago! But I have been still training pretty hard for my end goal Uberman in October. It has taken me a while to get my head around what the race was all about and how I feel about it.
I didn’t think I would be running a 100k this year. I had thought it would be more of a ‘post having a baby goal’ when I was ready to get back into longer racing again. But since I have the Badwater Run as the run leg in Uberman, I thought it would be a good idea to do a longer run to get some learnings about running longer. After 5x50ks this year, I was ready for something longer!! 🙂
You Yangs is where I run a lot. I love running out there. The trails have a bit for everyone. Easy fire roads up to rocky trails. I had run pretty much all of the course except for about 7k of it so I knew most of what I was in for.
But in my usual manner, I didn’t really look too much into the course and elevation, figuring that I would just get it done and deal with whatever came along.
I only found out about the total elevation at the race briefing when the race director said the 100k had 3000m elevation and the 160k (miler) had 5000m elevation. Hmmm. Good. Good that we are starting in a few minutes so I didn’t have long to dwell on this fact!!
The race started before I knew it. It was a bit of a weird start as we just went straight up! I think I ran for about 50m before I started hiking up to Flinders Peak. It’s roughly 3.5k up and back with most of the track being stairs with the final part on metal stairs to the sun dial at the look out. The course was 5 loops so I knew I would be going up and down a few more time yet so I didn’t want to push it too hard too early. But at the same time, I had no idea how to pace 100k. I didn’t know how slow or fast to go. And I was okay with that. I knew that this was all about learning so I just tried to let that go and just get through the distance whichever way it was going to happen.
I ran the first lap really well. Felt strong, ran into a couple of friends as I went along, managed to have a quick chat as we were on the trail together. One of the things I love about this community is how friendly everyone is! And willing to support and help each other out.
The laps had most of the elevation in the first half, then it was mostly flat with a little rise on the fire road along the fence line and back up to the start/finish line for another lap!
On my second lap, I made a friend who made me laugh. He told me that he had signed up for the race during the week, had never run 100k before and this was very typical of something he would do. We chatted about what to expect over ultra distance running, like when you start vomiting or have blisters, chaffing. All of the good things that come out of it! He followed me until we got to the 10k aid station when he stopped and I kept going. Pity, I was enjoying some company. Most of the rest of the rest of the second and third loop I spent alone. I enjoy my own company, but I was also super excited that on the 4th lap I was picking up a pacer.
My husband Michael was crewing for me for most of the run, but he headed off to do a bike race during my second loop. We had managed to grab a spot right near the track so I didn’t have to go too far away to get some resupplies whilst he was away. Plus the volunteers at the aid station were also amazing at helping refill my pack with water as I went and grabbed some nutrition.
My laps times got worse and worse as the run went along but I tried not to think about that too much. I was just enjoying the experience as much as possible!
At one stage, no idea when, it was still light, I was coming back down Flinders Peak and one of the other guys told me off for the state of my shoes. Yes, they were a bit torn up and I planned to throw them in the bin once I was done, but they were super comfy. Plus I had brought my road runners incase they completely fell apart. It threw me for a bit as he seemed to be really full-on about it. Not sure what he expected me to do about it either!? Very strange.
We were allowed to pick up a pacer when it started to get dark. That meant that on my 4th of 5 laps, I knew I had my amazing friend Mark waiting for me. He was very excited to come and join me along for a lap. I was equally as pumped to have some company when I was on my 3rd lap. It kept me moving as the sun was setting. I have no idea about what Mark and I talked about for most of the time but I loved having someone join me.
One of the things that stood out for me was how much fun we had. It was great to have someone experience the You Yangs for the first time, even in the dark and be amazed by the beauty of the area. It was really cool.
We also had a chat about how I feel uncomfortable when talking about what I do in terms of sport and my achievements. I find it really hard to manage the response I get from people when they are like – wow, amazing…etc. I mean, I’m very grateful for this and feel overwhelmed but I don’t actually know what to do with that emotion from the other person. It’s also the reason why I don’t tell people I’m vegan. I realise that I pre-judge people on their reaction so it’s much easier to avoid.
Clearly a lot of deep thinking and talking was had when we were out for a few hours plus some!
Mark was gracious enough to head up to the Flinders Peak then it was Michael’s turn to head out to finish it off for me.
At about 12 hours in during my 4th lap, my stomach turned on me. I started to feel sick. I was still able to get food and drink down but I wasn’t feeling great. This then slowly turned into stomach cramps on the last lap where I couldn’t take anything in. Whenever I tried to have a sip of water, I would dry retch and my stomach would feel like it was turning inside out.
Even though this felt like hell, it was actually a good thing. Stay with me on this one. I have been working with a nutritionist this year to try and figure out how to manage my gut issues that I have had over longer distance races. But I hadn’t done any long enough to bring on any issues so I couldn’t tell if what we had been doing to this point had been helping or not. Usually when I get symptoms, they seem to be around 8 hours in so having my stomach cope until 12 hours is a massive win, plus I had some real data to use from this point.
Always a bright side to everything. Even if I couldn’t vomit. No matter how hard I tried!! That part wasn’t so fun.
When I had pacers, I try to make sure my pace is fast enough that they are also forced to run, not walk alongside me when I am shuffling faster than a walk! Unfortunately, the last lap was mostly walking. As always, I was determined to get it done, however long it took me.
I got really angry at myself when I went off track for a short part. I had done the loop 4 times without running off course, then on the last lap, I managed to miss a ribbon in the tree and not turn. I was SO MAD!! I think I only added on a couple of hundred meters but when it’s over 100k, every extra step counts.
I knew the rest of the loop very well, especially the section coming alongside the road. I cannot remember how many times I have been along there so I had certain landmarks to look out for. Sadly, those landmarks felt like they took forever to get to. I was trying to walk fast but it was tough! Especially when I was doubled over at times dry retching.
Then I was there, at the finish line. I ended up doing a little shuffle down the little declines to get there faster. I just couldn’t wait to get it done with!
The finish line was really strange. They had a computer with people’s laps and times so they knew where people were in their races. When I finished. I walked up to the timing tent where the guy behind the computer shook my hand in congratulations and handed me a belt buckle. My first belt buckle from a race. And that was it. No fan fair. No big celebrations. Just wandered off to the car and waited while Michael packed up and we headed home. It was perfect. Very low key as the whole race was.
When I looked at my time initially, I was a little deflated. 17:42 is pretty slow for a 100k run. But then I looked at the other people who did the same race.
36 people started. 20 finished. I was 12th. The fastest woman was 13:30 (ish) with 3rd place 15:30 (ish). So in reality, I wasn’t that far behind as 4th female. So yes, felt a little better after that!
PLUS, I have now done my first 100k!
Again, initially it felt a little like – good, done, now onto the next thing. Until I started getting a lot of love from friends near and far congratulating me on my race. I realised that yes, that is actually a pretty incredible achievement and I should take a moment to sit with that and celebrate my finish. I think because it wasn’t my ultimate goal for the year, it didn’t feel as big as it probably would have normally.
So yes, I do think my legs are pretty amazing to take me 100k with 3000m of elevation. Because, just in case you don’t know, 100k is actually a pretty long way!!!