So there we have it. Yesterday was three weeks until race day and the start of the big dance. I say the barn doors have been shut, but what we mean here at Ultra168 is that 98 per cent of the training is done. The kilometres have been completed and put in the bank in readiness for this Mother of a race.
Of course, different people have different styles and ways of tapering. I know of some that don’t taper at all, I know of others who saw last week as their last long run. We’re all different. But, if the kilometres aren’t in the bank now, then there’s very little time to add some more into a door that’s already fast closing.
All that’s left now is the chance to freshen up and lighten the load on the legs. Keep the intensity going, but draw back on the distance and get those hours of sleeping in, in readiness for 6am, Saturday November 12th.
So what did we do yesterday? Well as is the beauty of having your own training plans, is the ability to do what you need to do. My taper is, I guess, slightly different to those of Andrew, Marcus and Darrel and saw my last really long run the 100kms at the Great Ocean Walk last weekend. That run took quite a bit out of me I must admit, so the intention was to always have three days off after that race.
A leisurely Wednesday lunchtime run this week just gone saw me in bed by 8pm that evening. I was suffering from hot and cold sweats, a blinding headache and the feeling of having just been hit by a bus, so achey was my body. It was all rather bizarre as four hours earlier I’d felt fine. This continued into Thursday and Friday and I’d all but written off my weekend run and just wanted to focus on getting better. It was a shame, but at least I’d got my big run in and was happy with the training I’d done.
Come late on Friday afternoon however all was feeling a lot better, and I even started thinking about a lighter run on Saturday. Maybe not the big 65kms I did have planned, but a casual 25-30kms from Cedar Brush Creek just to do something. To be honest, anything was a bonus for Saturday now. I met with Marcus at 4am in the Eastern Suburbs and off we went to Cedar Brush, with me still not knowing what the day would bring. As we climbed up the big ridge for the first 3kms, it was blatantly clear to me that any form of climbing was going to see me really struggle today. My legs were also screaming, and again it was pretty obvious they were still in recovery mode from last week.
Halfway up the hill I’d made my mind up that I was going to stick to the wide open fire trail that sits at the top of the climb and make my way along there for as much as was comfortable. Marcus very kindly joined me and off we set, chatting away and just enjoying the open road. Before I knew it, we’d clocked in 18kms, which meant at least a 36km out and back. Feeling good, we carried on and before long 25kms was dusted off in 2.5 hours. This really was our critical turnaround point as there was no available water and to make sure we had enough for the day, we had to turn around now. Still a 50km run was a massive bonus for me given that on Friday morning I rated my chances of a run at 0 per cent.
Admittedly, elevation was lacking in today’s run, but for me personally it was great to be able to back-up from last weekend’s hard 100km and knock off 50km in 5 hours. We had some fun along the way, including an encounter with a Tiger snake that was unfortunately dead on the side of the road. It’s the first one I’ve seen in Australia, plus a wild dog and the obligatory bush turkeys floating around too. The weather was nice and warm too, which was great to start running in those types of conditions ahead of what is sure to be a roaster on race day.
So there we have it. I’m sure the other guys will offer their perspectives on the training and the impending race, but the good news is that I’m feeling good, the training has been done and there are no injuries lurking around that I know of. All focus is on aiming for a finish, but in my heart for that silver medal. As long as I get in anytime before 11:59 on Sunday morning, November 13th then I’ll be a happy man indeed.