Back to life in Australia and boy has the past few weeks reminded me how good a Melbourne summer can be! 2011 has been a biggie – completing my law degree, pushing the boundaries even further with my running and the clogs have constantly been churning on how to make a positive impact through the opportunities I have had and will continue to create.
After several months of travelling and completing RacingThePlanet’s roving race in Nepal, my body is in a bit of shock after a constant change of time zones and never ending flights. There is no doubt I thrive on my life being run at a frenetic pace however even I understand the importance for calmness and reflection. I have taken a few weeks off training, eaten copious amounts of good food and generally been merry seeing family and friends.
It was an unbelievable experience – the setting, the people and the race itself – tick, tick, and tick. In the lead up to the race I spent time with two of my closest friends (Jimbot and RB), two guys that I could travel anywhere with. I then absorbed mountain goodness in ascending 9,000 meters (29,500 ft) and descending 9,700 meters (31,800 ft) during RTP’s multistage event.
There is no doubt that this was a technically challenging race: the stairs were brutal and at times appeared to be never ending and many of the steep downhill’s were made complicated by being incredibly slippery. It required ongoing concentration, which contributed to mental fatigue and having diarrhea for the duration of the event contributed to physical discomfort. That said it is those components, of mental fatigue and physical discomfort, that are two of the enticing elements to this sport (with the exception of having diarrhea). It is this “unknown & uncertain” quantity that is drawing more and more people into ultra racing events.
I am now more aware that steps are certainly a weakness of mine – note to self: must run up and down the 1000 steps at least once a week (note to everyone else: there is actually only 776 steps). I did however learn the benefits of being more daring with my pace than I have in other multi stage races. Previous to this race I tended to err on the conservative side with the earlier/shorter distance stages to preserve plenty of energy for the long stage – which is always my best performing stage. This race I was on a high from the amazing surroundings that I felt compelled to push the pace, which resulted in challenging hard with the amazing Stephanie Case. I remember not being able to sleep before the long stage as I was wondering if my usual strength in “building up not blowing out” had been put into question and would I be able to deliver a good run the next day. I set out on the long 78km stage and was overwhelmed at every turn that I continually felt strong and was awe struck by the views & mountains – I placed 10th overall – which was the highest I had placed all week.
What did I learn from this:
a) With a few multi-stage races under my belt I had the benefit of experience. Experience in knowing what my body requires to be fueled; confidence that I can complete the distance and comfort that I have raced in far tougher climates. Therefore I was able to gauge and listen to my body’s limits whilst still pushing harder.
b) Doing interval and altitude work at Bodyology has developed my speed, particularly over the marathon distance.
c) Consistency always tends to be the winner in these races – which I would like to think, is another strength of mine. I would make the call that several of the competitors who placed after me are technically stronger runners but had one or two days placing significantly lower. In fact even though I never placed higher than 10th in any of the stage my final ranking was 9th overall…MMMyessss consistency pays off in the end.
d) With experience, more strategic training (including altitude work) and a consistent race approach I felt brazen enough to push harder and benefit from the competitive spirit of racing against stronger athletes.
So what does 2012 hold out for me? I will be donning the suit from March as I begin my graduate placement at Baker & McKenzie. However I will certainly be hitting some great trail races in 2012 and have some exciting adventures planned.
Stay tuned for a blog in early Jan, which will reveal my race schedule & upcoming projects.