Monday, June 11, 2012


Last weekend was the “Kep Ultra”, the race that first sparked my interest in “ultra- running” a few years ago.

I knew I wouldn’t be entering this year as I was only just getting back into training…but I had a plan, a cunning plan. I’d run my own “Ultra” during the race, watching and encouraging racers along the way. I’d call it “ultra-watching!” Little did I know this plan would be my undoing…
From the time I arrived at the finish line (my starting point) I had a plan in mind. I’d start at the finish line for the race and run the 23km down hill to the final check-point for the 100km racers, there I’d refill my water bottles and run the 23km back up the hill to the finish line, grabbing some photos and saying “hey” to racers as I went. (46km/28ish miles in total)
From the time I set out I felt bad, about two kilometers in I stopped and ate the total of the food I’d brought along (some baby food I’d been “experimenting” with) hoping it would give me some energy, I felt as if I were stuck in sand, even on what seemed flat ground my energy was being zapped fast.
I pushed on knowing that I probably just needed to warm up and then things would be smooth again. At about 8km I ran into some volunteers setting up for a final check point at a crucial intersection. They seemed awful surprised to see me and mistook me for a racer, shouting at me that I was “going the wrong way”.
“I’m not racing” I shouted back as I headed downhill toward the oncoming 100km racers. By my calculations’ the lead runners should be coming through in about in hour I thought.
I was running downhill now but the effort required was still very hard. “What the hell is going on?” I was starting to wonder, normally I can smash the descents but today I was struggling to keep going. I pushed on…
An hour passed and I was at the Darlington Station, A major landmark in the race, I filled my water and waited for the runners to come…they didn’t, my calculations were wrong, my head was hurting, I was getting a migraine. I felt cold and decided to put on my jacket (best decision ever) after waiting I pushed on toward the bottom of the hill. Almost immediately my head began to throb. I pulled into bushes and tried to pee…it came out brown.
“Oh shit” I was dehydrated…badly.
I walked back up the hill to Darlington and refilled all my water bottles, drinking them entirely twice before doing the sensible thing and back tracking back toward my car.
It took me a long time to hike the distance I previously ran, but hiking was making me feel better.
I was enjoying the view and listening to my music. Two hours later I was in Mundaring and there I met the front runner in the 100km race, he was running well and I couldn’t help but envy how well he was going (considering he’d just run 90 km!!).
As we approached the summit a massive crowd appeared to cheer him on, (people were cheering for me too, as they had mistaken me for a racer) I pulled right off the track to make clear that I was only there to watch, I saw a lot of fellow runners that I know in the crowd and stopped to talk with them. I was feeling pretty terrible, I thought about asking them for a ride to the finish, but too full of pride I didn’t ask for any help. I just shrugged it of and told them all I was going to get some pictures and I’d see them all at the finish. I'd been running for four hours now.
I was now only about 8 Km away from my car and decided to try running again. This made my brain hurt and my legs were begging for mercy but this was meant to be an “ultra” …it’s supposed to hurt.
Then a rouge honkey nut caught me unaware and I rolled my ankle so hard that I heard an audible “POP.”  I fell forward in agony and lied very still for along time afraid to look at my throbbing ankle. In the fall I’d knocked my head on the ground and my vision had started to go funny.
“This is not ideal.” I thought and I eventually got to my feet.
Three more miles…the longest three of my life, my water had run dry. My ankle was sore, and my brain felt swollen in head. Finally a finish line approached and runners were coming in and basking in the glory of their achievement. They are all heroes. If you ever want to witness somthing special, hang out at an ultra finish line.
I sat down and talked to some fellow runners and passed on my congratulations
I'd been running for 6 hours...Felling ill, I headed home.

No sooner had I parked my car in the driveway then projectile vomit began to erupt violently from my mouth, my headache was now unbearable, and i was strating to shake...My next stop was the ER.

I got to Royal Perth Hospital in bad shape; I was taken in immediately and given an I.V. drip to rehydrate me and something else to take away my nausea. After a few hours I was released…I got home and had heart palpitations for the next week. My heart would beat, and then beat, and then stop……and then beat again. “Now you’ve done it” I thought to myself. Had I tried to run the entire Kep race like I wanted to…well, I’m not sure I would have been okay. My Heart was speaking to me and it's message was clear.

The end game is I need to take a break for awhile, fully recover from Ross River Virus (see previous post) and then reassess. It looks like my ultra days may be over…for now.
It was a huge wake up call, to have a heart scare. I have a lot to lose and I know I’m too stubborn to run a sensible 10 miles a week (total) like the doctors recommend. I’m an "all or nothing" kind of guy, always have been.

So, what now for this Blog? …Well, I thank you for reading for however long you’ve been following. I hope you’ve had a laugh or you’ve been inspired.
I wish you all well.


Sunday, May 27, 2012


There is not a lot to report this week, a nasty cold has brought my training to a complete halt and I’ve been catching up on rest. Feeling better this morning, I was itching to go out and run something, anything, but I’ve only just started to feel better…so I let myself rest… By noon I could wait no longer and found myself driving wildly toward Ellis Brook.

My plan was simple enough, a bit of light hiking, “there will be no running.” I told myself.
“I must recover before I start running again” I stated, I was wearing jeans to further cement my commitment to keeping this outing sensible. Parking my car in the “Honey Eater” car park, I slipped on my Montrails and gazed skyward at the goliath climb that snakes its way to the ridgeline. I took a deep breath, and set off. My lower extremities are very used to running this path so I indulged them for a few minutes, falling into a gallop to get it out of their system. “At the base of the climb I’ll stop and hike it.” I thought.

I hit the hill and started to power hike, I was making damn good time. I soon reached the ridgeline and on feeling the flat my feet instinctively again started to run and hop over rocks. “Oh, well” I thought, they’ll tire soon enough.

A descent approached and instead of working my way down it slowly, and sensibly, I sprinted, and the more I sprinted, the harder it was to stop sprinting!…so I just kept it up.
“This is starting to look more like a run!” a voice was saying in my head.
“This is starting to get more FUN” another replied.
And from then on it was a run.

I’d have looked pretty silly sprinting around in blue jeans and with no water…I’m sure I was mistaken for a lost hiker with “Canyon Fever” when I finally saw another person half an hour later.

“Oh who cares?” I thought, I found another hill…a big one…a steep one, I saw it from a few kilometers away and spotted the narrow trail to its summit, it called to me.

I ran what I could and hiked the rest. On reaching the summit I was astounded at the view, absolutely breathtaking…and then I made a familiar mistake, I went exploring.
I was totally out of water and about 5km from my car, but I trudged on, following several dead end trails, before finally having enough sense to backtrack back down the big hill.

I’m home now and itching to go out again, I’ve even debated the benefits of backing up today’s adventure with a quick 20k, but I know that will not help me get over this cold, it’ll make it worse. I’m looking forward to getting back into again later this week.

Happy trails.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The City

It’s been a big week. I’m finally recovered enough to attempt 5 runs a week and I’ve logged some pretty decent mileage.
The highlight of the week was my Saturday run in the city, normally I’d cringe at the idea of running in the “concrete jungle” but, as I haven’t done it in so long the novelty of it appealed to me.
I parked my car along the river at South Perth and ran east toward the causeway, it was dark already and the path was dimly lit and offered a lovely view of the skyline as it reflected off the Swan River.
On reaching the causeway I discovered a pair of runners ahead going in vaguely the same direction as I wished to go…so naturally I had to race them. I clearly set out on this run with the intention of this being a LSD (long slow distance run)
But once I got caught up in racing I forgot all about that. I was about a minute behind them and closing fast, about two KM’s later I’d closed the gap to around 15 seconds. It was around this point that one of them turned ‘round and spotted me closing in on them. Suddenly they took off like a bolt and the “secret racing” had begun. 4 Kilometers passed and they were looking back frequently to gauge their position relative to mine. I was still closing…8 seconds now. I kept pushing a few minutes later they gave in and started to walk. Giving me a coy look as I passed as if to say. “What? This is always where we’d planned to stop!”
It’s an unwritten law in running; any two runners going in the same general direction are racing.
I past them and kept up my crazy pace until I’d well and truly dropped them.
I was nearing the end of the loop  and decided to head up into Kings Park, leaving Mounds Bay Rd. I found myself at the base of “Jacobs Ladder” a huge staircase that summits at the Kings Park entrance. I ran into the park and enjoyed the view of the city and beyond. The park was filled with tourist and couples making out on the grass, I passed them and made my way into the dark trails that skirt the perimeter. I eventually reached and climbed the DNA tower and stood for a long time on its peak enjoying the view.
It was getting cold now and I decided to head home…summiting and descending “Jacobs’s Ladder” a further three times for good measure. I love distance running!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shoe Nerd..

Somehow my running shoe collection just keeps on growing, Minimus’ for fast short runs...Pumas for track silliness...and now the Montrails for long range fun.
I broke in the Montrails last night after two days of them sitting in a box begging to be thrashed; after two years of running in ONLY Minimus' I was a bit worried when I first saw the Montrails looked high! Well everything looks high compared to the zero drop Minimus. First impressions when slipping the Montrails on, is how good they fit. (always a gamble when you buy over the net)  when the back of the shoe fits over my heel it sucks in tight around the back of my foot and I feel as though I don’t even need to tighten the laces to keep this shoe firmly attached. Also noticeable is the very aggressive sole of the shoe, it’s got big lugs underneath and I suspect it’ll be fantastic grip on the many pea gravel trails that dot Western Australia. My route yesterday took me from road to trail so I got to test them on multiple surfaces and was very pleased to see that these shoes still encouraged a midfoot strike and had a bit more padding to help on longer road runs. The real test will come this weekend on some glorious single track!
Happy trails!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Out at Serpentine this morning to look at some serious hills, Coming off a very successful hills run on Wednesday I was feeling confident that I’d be able to cruise up the hills at Serps…halfway up the first hill however any ideas that this were going to be easy were evaporating fast. It's pretty demoralizing to give in and walk a hill, the time it takes to cover distance when walking only added to my disappointment. I finally reached the summit and struggled to suck in air. My legs felt very fresh but my lungs were screaming. I felt like giving up. I stuck with it and fell into a more sustainable rhythm, eventually I recovered enough to keep up.
Luckily what goes up must go down, on the descent I hammered my way down the rocky trail and finally started to feel good, it just goes to show you that you can feel like crap one minute and be cruising the next!
On the “Three Steps” I took a much more sensible approach and hiked it, letting my lungs rest but still giving my legs a work out. Running at this stage is all about compromises and listening to my body. I’m still nowhere near 100% and I often forget this when I get overzealous on a big hill.

Finishing the run I have a mixed bag of feelings, I’m disappointed at not being able to float up hills like I want to, but still stoked to be out there…even if I’m bringing up the rear.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

They only come out at night!

I was out at bold park last night for some mid-week hills fun, I’ve been recovering a lot quicker now that I’m back into it again and was able to run all the hills…albeit not at top speed. There is nothing better then trail running with good friends on a beautiful night....Happy days!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

No Pain, No Gain!!

It back out to Kalamunda today for some more hills and single-track. Saturday night found me debating the idea of running at all as my sciatic nerve has been driving me crazy, but when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. I figured I may as well give it a go. I arrived at Jorgenson Park about a half an hour early and tried to motivate myself with loud music in my car while I waited for the others to arrive.

The running group regulars soon appeared and we shared some light banter before things got serious, Now Bernadette, who normally coordinates these little excursions  has neglected to tell me that today’s outing would be speed specific…or so it seemed.
It all started innocently enough as we meandered down a section of the Bib Track. However, about 5 minutes later things kicked into high gear and the pace setters (you know who you are) descended into a valley at breakneck speed, disappearing into blanket of fog on the valley floor.
“Holy shit!” I thought. Surely they don’t intent to keep this up…but they did.
Sucking hard at my camelback straw, I dug deep and followed as fast as my feet would go. “Kamikazing” my way through ankle breaking rocks and slippery mud slicks, eventually reaching the fore runners at the intersection and trying in vain to catch my breath, next would come the climb!

Climbing used to be my forte…(Note: Used to be) I had to dig deep but I made it up and over the hill without losing too much time, then into another neck breaking descend…and on, and on, and on it went…until it was done.
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel dead, I’d even say I felt okay! I was pushed beyond my limit and I’d passed, that’s progress!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Run in a group…preferably in a group full of sadists and watch how fast you’ll improve.
An hour later I was home…and still mobile; I headed out to the park with the kids and had a nice barefoot recovery run. Big gains this week, and recovering much better than two weeks ago. Watch this space.

all pics by Bernadette.