Monday, September 22, 2014

Surf Coast Century - DNF

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later. You're not a real ultra runner until you've had a DNF! I suppose in the back of my mind I had real doubts about whether I was going to be able to get through a 100k with my current issues, but I tried to go in with a positive frame of mind and hope for the best.

All set to run 30% of my race!!

The race started promisingly enough, cruising through the 4k out and back feeling good, chatting with Stephen Rennick for a while, then settling into a nice pace with Andy Turner as we went back past the start line and started the long haul up the beach towards Torquay. The first sign of trouble came at the 8k mark, as we scrambled over rocks going over a small headland. I slipped a couple of times, and each time there was a sharp tug of pain in my stomach as the injury made itself known.

From that point on, a dull ache gradually became a sharp stabbing one each time my left leg came forward, and another couple of minor slips on the rocks at around 15k, further exacerbated the situation. By the time I reached CP1 at 21k, I pretty much knew my day was done, but in another one of my questionable in-race decisions, decided to press on to see if it got any worse. And sure enough, worse it got. By 28k, it was like a knife going into my stomach, and I could no longer run. I limped the last 4k into CP3 at the 32k mark, told a marshall I was dropping, and got a lift back to the start from a lovely couple who had witnessed my less than speedy arrival at the checkpoint.

Once back at the start, I sat down with Allie for a while, and we watched the leaders come through at the half way point. Andy was travelling beautifully, and went on to have a great race, finishing 7th in 9:27. He also raced in the Salomon series event the next day, and won the concrete shoe for the fastest combined time over the two events. A great effort and result from a bloke whose company I have really enjoyed in training runs over the past couple of months. Seeing him do so well was a silver lining to a pretty shitty weekend.

Winner of the concrete shoe - Andy Turner!

The Monday after the race I saw the surgeon my GP referred to me to. The consultation lasted all of 5 minutes, and was easily the quickest I have ever spent $150. He decided immediately that I didn't have a traditional hernia, which I had already worked out anyway, and referred me to a sports physician down the road. Before rapidly dismissing me from his esteemed presence, he mentioned possible causes which were already on my radar such as ligament damage, impinged nerve, and Osteitis Pubis, which had been my original self-diagnosis.

So far I haven't seen the sports physician, or even made an appointment. I've decided just to rest for a couple of weeks to see if it improves and go from there. I'm still getting out 3-4 mornings a week with our kelpie Billy, just for an easy 8k at 6+ min/km pace. I find if I don't run any faster than this, then the injury doesn't get any worse. Icing and Neurofen also seem to help, which does tend to suggest that inflammation in that area is the root cause.

Hopefully I can get this right within a month, which will still leave me plenty of time to get ready for Two Bays.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Surf Coast Century - Preview

With Surf Coast Century 100k only 5 days away, I'm well in to my taper, and gradually the accumulated fatigue is falling away. I went out for a cruisy 7k with our kelpie Billy this morning, and while still a bit tired, was starting to feel a bit of pep back in the legs.

The injury is still bothering me, but improves a bit with rest, so I'm hoping I can get through at least the first 20k relatively pain free. It appears I have a sports hernia rather than the regular type, which is a tear to one of the tendons that run from the groin through the inguinal canal to the abdominal area. This explains why I have no bulge though the stomach wall, and why the pain radiates down through the abductors and groin area. The upside is, I may be able to avoid surgery, though a long stint on the sidelines will be unavoidable. For now, it is what it is, and I'll just have to accept it on race day.

Apart from that, the training has been going reasonable well, although I have held back a bit in intensity, not wanting to risk too much damage. In August, I logged an all time high of 605k, with 62 hours of running. This may have put me over the top a bit, as I was pretty tapped out all last week, and ended up doing less than 50k in the first week of my taper, when I had planned to do about 70k.

The highlight for me was a great day out with Andy Turner and the guys from the Peninsula Trail Runners a couple of weeks ago. Andy and I started in in Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park at 6am, running the first half hour by head torch, until we climbed out of a little gully and all of a sudden we were running in the morning light, through the beautiful bushland, with not another soul around.

Andy and me. 6am Greens Bush.

We ran steadily through the park, out of the Greens Bush section, and across Boneo Road, then on to the Bushrangers Bay track towards Cape Schanck where we were meeting the PTR guys. We arrived at the car park with 14k done almost exactly at the planned time of 7:30, then we all headed along the Coastal Trail towards Gunnamatta. We then ran along the beach to Rye, before turning around and heading back to Cape Schanck. The PTR boys called it a day, and with a marathon already in our back pockets, Andy and I set off towards Greens Bush for the final 14k.

Mornington Peninsula - St Andrews Beach

And then, what I had been hoping was a casual jog back to the cars, turned into something completely different! Andy gradually cranked up the pace until we were absolutely hauling through the final 5k, dropping a 4:30 split for kilometre 56, and leaving me absolutely spent when we arrived back. In the end my Garmin said 57km in 6hrs 20min, but that didn't really reflect the effort, as the beach sections were very hard going on the soft sand.

In the end, it was probably a bit silly of me to chase Andy that hard. I had come off a big week, with that run putting me up to 175k, and he was a bit fresher, and is absolutely flying at the moment. I'm predicting a big race for him on Saturday, where I think he could potentially run top 6. As a result, I couldn't hit my sessions properly during the week, cutting my Wednesday long run short, but I was able to recover enough to go back to back the next weekend, with 37k on Arthurs Seat on the Saturday, then running the full 56k Two Bays old course on the Sunday to top out at 152k for the week.

I've never run this sort of mileage before, so it's a bit of a crap shoot whether it will work out for me or not. Whatever the case, I'm really looking forward to the race. The course is said to be stunning, combining beach, single track and forest, in a figure 8 that loops back to the start at the half way point. The scale of the event probably puts it up there as the biggest event in Victoria, although it has some way to go before rivalling TNF100.

Surf Coast Century Course Map

Allie and I will head down to Anglesea on Friday afternoon, and after I register, we'll just have a quiet dinner, and relax in the motel. I'm staying away from all the pre-race stuff, as I don't think it helped me at TNF, and hopefully I'll get some good rest and sleep, and be ready to go at 6am on Saturday morning. I'd like to run 9:30, but with my issues at the moment that could be a bit optimistic, and it might be closer to 10:30. If things go completely awry, I'll just be happy to sneak in under 12 hours and score the one litre beer stein, which apparently they fill for free at the Anglesea Hotel post race!