Monday, 14 January 2013

A Nice Surprise

What a year 2012 ended up being. It started off with a lot of rain, throw in some PB’s, a bit of travel, excitement, anticipation, trepidation and a few niggles (although not always in that order and the measurements were varied). Mix these ingredients up for 12 months. The end result was an unexpected reward.

As all my new years have started out since I started running, I turned up for the Beyond The Black Stump Fat Ass run. It’s always good to have a large social run around the local trails and it is a good indicator as to how well I have prepared for Bogong to Hotham which is usually held the following week.

As it turned out I should have been doing survival training for Bogong to Hotham. The weather forecasts for the event indicated that it would be wet. So at the start line we all had the full race packs and we stood around in a light drizzle. The race started and the conditions got worse the higher and further we went. The weather eventually got so bad the race was called off at Langford Gap (about the half way mark). The wind was so strong it felt like it was pushing me back and the rain was like needles hitting the skin.

Australia Day for me was a very busy day. I started the morning by doing the 6hr Knapsack trail run (around a 5km course) followed by a night at Darling Harbour celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday. Around and around I went on the Knapsack course, lapping Brian until he finally stopped. Shortly after the heavens opened up and I got wet. This was two races in a row that were wet. Surely it couldn’t happen again.

The next event on the calendar was Six Foot Track. I had a pretty good run the year before and wanted to give it another good crack. In the days leading up to the event the weather had been wet and the forecast looked no better. The Ultra168 boys summed the conditions up pretty well on their website. No matter how many prays were said the flooding at the river crossings was in full swing and the race was called off. Race day was fine though and I joined a large group who did the Narrow Neck/ Megalong Valley loop, so the weekend wasn’t wasted.

In April I had plans to do Mt Solitary. This was postponed until August due rain and I missed this event also. Was it me causing all this rain? If so it wasn’t intentional!

With pretty much no racing so far in 2012, heading into The North Face 100, Blue Mountains, I had no idea how I would fare. I had done some pretty good low intensity training in the lead up to the event and was pretty keen just to race. Everything turned out pretty good during the race and I was pleasantly surprised when I crossed the finish line with a new PB and course record.

Two weeks after TNF100 I made my way back up into the Blue Mountains and then down to the Wolgan Valley for the inaugural Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon. It was lots of fun and I enjoyed the challenging course. More surprisingly my legs were able to last the distance, just.

Following my last Trailwalker I vowed to never do a Trailwalker again but the opportunity to join team No Roads Expeditions was too good to refuse, so I vowed never to never say never again and upped my training. Heading into race day I wasn’t feeling 100% and was substituted with Shona Stephenson, which worked out well for the team who managed a well-deserved win.

The same weekend as the Sydney Trailwalker was Willy To Billy. This is a run I really enjoy doing but as with most races so far in 2012 the event was cancelled, not due to nature but this time due to bureaucracy. 2012 was not the year to be a trail runner.

My first race in the second half of 2012 was the Nepean Odyssey. This is another race that had to be rescheduled due to bad weather earlier in the year. Brian’s cousin, Stuart, was going to do this multi-sport event as a solo entrant but decided to change his entry to a team entry. He had a friend to do the mountain bike leg, Stuart was doing the paddle leg and in the quest to fill the vacant running leg he recruited me. I arrived when the event was well underway and expecting to see a few competitors return from the paddle leg before needing to run, I was in a great rush to organise myself when Stuart arrived in second place at the transition zone. So with a quick change over I headed out for the 19km trail run. I ran my pants off (not literally but you know what I mean) knowing that none other than Brendan Davies would be hot on my heels running for another team (No Roads Expeditions). I managed to keep him at bay and take first place to be the first team home overall, though a solo competitor managed to beat all of us home. This will probably be the first and last time that I finish ahead of Brendan, so it is a cherished moment.
With a large gap to fill before my last ‘A’ race for 2012 I entered the Centennial Park Ultra 100km. My loose targe was to qualify for the Australian 100km road running team with a sub 9hr time. I didn’t manage my goal but I still did the distance and wasn’t too far off to target time.

My last big race for 2012 was the Great North Walk. I had to sit on the side line for this race the previous year and I was looking for a good result. Originally I entered the 100mile event but my training wasn’t where it needed to be and my heart wasn’t in it, so I dropped down to the 100km event. This proved to be the right choice and I renewed my training with vigour. Come race day I managed to get lost several times, one time for about 45min, on a course I thought I knew. In those instances all you can do is laugh really, then get on with it. That aside I still managed a reasonable time to the finish, with room for improvement next year.

A few weeks later I teamed up with Shona Stephenson for the 30/50km Team Challenge down on the Mornington Peninsular in Victoria. We were doing the 50km together. The race consisted of three parts; the first chasing Shona, the second running through soft sand, and the third battling the heat. All up it was a fun run and we managed to get first in our division.

I have been following Coast To Kosci for a number of years with some mixed interest. This year I was supposed to be crewing my buddy Shane Simpson in his quest to run and finish this race for a second time. As things turned out I couldn’t get away from work so missed the opportunity to experience the race close up, but I’m glad it didn’t affect Shane’s performance.

And of course, throughout 2012 I regularly joined Berowra Bushrunners’ on their regular bush runs and 10km Road Handicap.

All up I was happy to be injury free, although there were a few niggles that I didn’t want to test from time to time.

I thought I had had a pretty good year, then on the way down to Mt Beauty for the 2013 instalment of Bogong to Hotham I got a phone call from AURA (Australian Ultra Runners Association) saying that they had awarded me Female Ultra Runner of the Year 2012. It’s an honour to receive this award and recognition, and to be considered along with current and previous recipients.

I couldn’t think of a better way to top off 2012. Thanks AURA.

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