Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Extravaganza

With Easter falling a perfect 4 weeks out from The North Face 100, it was an ideal opportunity to log some serious miles. For my first time over 100k I felt like I needed to be running some long distance on very tired legs, and carrying my full TNF kit, so I set down the following plan for the four days:
  • Friday - 26k (run to Mt Eliza Regional Park - 6k, 2 loops of park @ 7k/loop, run home)
  • Saturday - 33k (as above, but with 3 loops)
  • Sunday - 42k (Dromana Info Centre - Waterfall Gully Road return on 2Bays Trail x 3)
  • Monday - 56k (Two Bays Old Course)

     Total - 157k

The idea was that by the time I finished the Arthurs Seat Triple on Sunday, I would be that stuffed that the next day's run would feel like the back half of a hundred. There was plenty of climbing involved, so I would get lots of of hiking practice, especially since I didn't want to totally flatten myself so that it would take a week to recover.

The first couple of days were pretty easy, keeping a pace around the low 6min/k mark. I actually felt better after Saturday's run than I did on Friday, so that was encouraging. There was a bit of rain about on both days, so I got some good practice at retrieving and stowing my waterproof jacket.

The next day I drove down to Dromana for my assault on Arthurs Seat. It was pretty hard going, particularly with the full pack, but after 4 hours and 52 mins and 1900 metres of ascent/descent, it was done. It was half an hour outside my best time, but considering the weight I was carrying and the previous days' runs, I was reasonably pleased.

Come Monday, and it was back down to Dromana at 8:30am for the full Two Bays trail. I felt pretty tired right from the start, and the first climb was very slow, but once the trail flattened out a bit, I got a bit of a rhythm going. At about 26.5k, I hit my three hour limit, and even though I was only about a kilometre from the Cape Schanck lighthouse, I was at a nice spot looking out over the ocean, so I paused the Garmin for a couple of minutes, then turned around and headed back.

The majority of the return journey was exactly how I imagine the latter stages of TNF100 will be. Barely moving at stages, trying to keep the legs turning over, wondering how I'm going to make it, lots of walking, wanting my mummy. Curiously though, with about 3k to go, I felt the best I had felt all day, and arrived back at the car feeling like I could run another 10k, with only a 5 min positive split for the second half.

Easter Monday on the Two Bays Trail

In summary, the four days were exactly what I needed both physically and mentally to prepare me. I would prefer another couple of weekends like it, but with a rushed preparation, it is as much as I could hope for. I've done a bit of damage to myself - ligament strains on the inside of both knees (right one was already there from Roller Coaster), strained right achilles, all of which were quite painful at times, but definitely bearable for the race as long as they don't get worse, and I'm hoping they'll improve.

Over the four days the stats were:
  • Distance: 153.89 km
  • Time: 17:11:39
  • Elevation gain: 5723 metres
  • Average speed: 9.0 km/h
  • Average pace: 6:40 min/km
This week, I will start to scale down and from Thursday to Saturday my runs will be 15km, 20km, 42km. Then next week, reduce again by about 25%, then the same reduction % the week after. Mondays I will do intervals or fartlek, and Wednesdays will be just easy jogs of whatever feels comfortable on the day. Tuesdays and Sundays I will just go for a walk to keep things moving.

A little worse for wear on Easter Monday