Running the Deep Space Marathon last weekend and the lead up to it was a reminder for me of the journey I have taken over the last year.
I ran DSM in 2010 as my first off road marathon and to use as a qualifier for a trail ultra marathon. Going in to the race last year I spent lots of time planning my race, organising gear and second guessing how I would go over a tough, hilly trail course (I had run two road marathons in the lead up in 2010). On race day 2010 I was lucky enough to find another runner (experienced ultra runner) who was travelling at about the same pace, so lots of chat, plenty of advice and his good pacing helped me get over the finish line in one piece and feeling ready to take a step up to longer races.
Since then I have run Bogong to Hotham 64k, 6 Foot Track (46k), North Face 100k and the Great Ocean Walk 100k – so a huge year of ultra races. Each race has brought it’s own challenges and plenty of opportunities to learn about myself, nutrition, gear, pacing, mental toughness etc. I am getting better at pre-planning based on the course and sticking to a plan (mostly!!). I have spent plenty of money trying different gear and nutrition options and have gradually worked out what suits me at this point (a topic for the future!!).
My training hasn’t really hit huge kms (compared to most doing ultras) as it really is a struggle some weeks to get runs in. Days like today where husband is away, one daughter is up at 6am and the other has just fallen asleep at 10pm – so no chance for a run at either end of the day. Mostly I do my runs early before the family is up and about, so have gradually got use to early starts (great practice for running by head torch!). I look forward to running more during the day as the girls get older and off to school! NO complaints though as I am lucky to have family who are supportive of me heading off to do races that take me away for a few days or coming along & finding other things to do while I run all day then cheering me over the finish.
I have seen my attitude to long training runs change over the year – a 20-25k run on a Saturday use to be long, now that is a nice easy weekend! 30k – 40k perfectly normal, the hard ones being the 50k plus, but with only a few of these over the year they are manageable.
So as Deep Space approached again I reflected on my year, but also on my attitude to it. Having only run 100k at GOW four weeks previously, I was treating this as a training run and therefore very relaxed about pre-event preparation, no carb load (a kids party the day before – note, this is not a good idea, it may result in side-trips during race) and only getting gear organised late the night before. Race morning it was lovely to just get out in the bush and run, lots of company, but no pressure to perform and knowing that the distance was well within my ability. I stuck to plan, kept it easy, walked when too steep to run comfortably (starting to prep my legs for Bogong in January) and enjoyed chatting and the scenery! Finished 2nd female, but actually more happy that I took it easy, followed plan and didn’t get caught up in pushing hard – need to leave that for goal races.
Great day out and a fitting completion to a fun year of adventures. Now trying to plan the races for 2012, lots more trail, return to some of the ones I raced this year and perhaps a couple of long road events.