Am I Crazy?

Moving straight on from the fact that I didn’t get to do my half marathon this year, I’ve signed us up for our “next big thing”.

Earlier this month I checked out the rogaining calendar for the rest of the year and identified two rogaines that we could potentially get to. Both of them were going to involve our girls staying with their grandparents overnight, so we decided it was only fair to let the grandparents decide which one worked best for them (if either). The stars aligned and everyone is excited to have a sleepover in about three weeks time.

Now, this isn’t just any rogaine either. We’ve done a couple of mini rogaines (3 hours) and several 6 hour rogaines – only one of which we stayed out for the full six hours. And they’ve all been in metro areas, so a good amount of road navigation or easy bush nav, with shops easily accessible. This time it’s the NSW Rogaine Championships – 24 hour event. You know, a big one. And it’s all bush, carry everything with you, camp out type of event. I’m equal parts excited and terrified!

Obviously there’s no way I will be out there for 24 hours straight. I value my sleep way too much and the legs just aren’t anywhere near ready for it. So our vague plan (for now), is to head out for 4-6 hours from the midday start with a goal of covering up to 20km. Back to base for regroup and some dinner, then with a full moon rising, head out for a small night navigation loop (1-2 hours?) to pick up a couple of controls and see how we go with it. More food and a good sleep. Up bright and early on the Sunday to head out for a further 3-4 hours and add some more points to the tally.

We will need to plan well for this three pronged approach, so if we need to take a bit more time at the start to make sure we’re happy with our starting plan, then that’s what we will do. We could be hopelessly optimistic with our planned routes, so we need to make sure there are options within each for cutting them short or, we can always dream, extending them if we’re making good time and feeling good. There’s a lot to organise as it’s a very long time since we’ve been camping. Luckily the event provides plenty of good food from dinner Saturday onwards, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Now to sort out camping gear, clothing and all the bits and pieces we need to carry with us.

It’s going to be a crazy weekend – I can’t wait.

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One Word: Flu!

Yep, I’ve been completely wiped out all week with the flu… A vaguely tickly, sore throat on Sunday evening turned into that overall ache and unwell feeling by Monday morning.  Lunch time saw me heading home early from work and I’ve spent the rest of the week either in bed or on the lounge.  Not a fun week.

A combination of either having had the flu shot earlier in the year and starting on Tamiflu by Tuesday meant the symptoms never progressed as much as it felt like they should.  I’ve been exhausted though, and a week later, my head is almost back in gear but I’m physically as weak as a newborn kitten – grocery shopping this morning was too hard and walking more than 100m had me feeling dizzy and nauseous.

I have a feeling that my half marathon plans are completely shot at this point.  With not enough training in the lead up, I really needed these final weeks to have some strong, regular running in and it’s just not going to happen.  Luckily(?), there is the option to defer my registration to next year.  I have to make the decision by 8th September, so there’s still another week to decide but I’m 99% sure I’ll be deferring at this point.

At first I was disappointed that I’ll have to push my goals back a year, but in the long run, it’s not such a big deal.  I don’t have any urge to run multiple race events each year, or to do a marathon following on from the half, I can still do all my orienteering and rogaining events.  Now, to just get better!

The Final Long Run

Ooops!  This post has been just sitting here, forgotten about.  Bit late, I did this run last weekend of August and little did I know that the next day I would start coming down with the flu – might explain how rotten I felt.

Saturday saw the longest long run in the build up to the Blackmores Half Marathon in three weeks time. I’m following the Nike beginner half marathon training plan (same as I did for my 16km trail event) and the longest run is 17.5km. I decided to aim for 18km but would be happy as long as I reached at least the 17.5km mark.

Keep in mind that I’ve done very little training the last few months. In fact, I’ve done a total of 8 “training” runs, with 5 of those in the last two weeks and the others were in June. I’ve had 3 orienteering events in between, but they are all much slower paced so while they help out with giving me time on my feet (2hrs, 1hr and 6hrs), it hasn’t done anything for my pace. My goal was to hit about 8min/km pace and get it done in 2hr 30min. My other aim was to keep it slow and not speed up in the final few kilometres as i tend to usually do. I knew I could do the distance, but I also knew it would hurt having missed pretty much all my other long training runs.

Saturday morning didn’t start out well. I was tired and my headspace wasn’t really good. But I knew I had to do this if I had any hope of doing the half marathon and not ending up walking it in. First I had trouble sorting out my hydration – I was planning to test Tailwind in my hydration pack and managed to drop the packet in twice, causing it to glug up and not pour out. Finally started and my water was sloshing around like crazy, I’d forgotten to squeeze out the air… Finally got going just before 8am.

The route I’d planned was roughly based on a 10km road loop with several big hills in it. I added a 3km out and back on right at the start, another 3km loop around 5km in and tacked another approx. 2km loop on straight after that, leaving the last 7km or so as straight run home and the final 5km on very familiar territory to help me get there.

That first 3km out and back was so damn hard. My head was fuzzy, it was cold and I was out of sorts. The running was comfortable though and I had picked the hills I was giving myself permission to walk up in advance – one at only the 2km mark! I bumped into a man walking two little sausage dogs at this point, and he urged their little legs into a run to race me up the hill, then urged me on when I started walking. Then I had 2km of easy flat/downhill effort. A steep hill at 5km and straight into the next 3km “extra” loop. This was quite hilly, but took me through some pretty suburban streets. Spring is hitting with full force and the air was thick with the scent of jasmine and freesias and even a hedge of lillies in full bloom.

I barely paused at street crossings, even the ones I had to wait for lights to change, which was a big difference to my usual runs. OVerall I only had 1 minute of “non-moving” time according to Garmin and Strave, where it would usually hit 5 minutes plus for this route. It was around here I hit the half way mark – yes! I was already slogging it out though and my pace was over the 8min/km pace I had hoped to stay under. Nothing to be done about it though, so I just kept on plodding and envied the light-footed and faster runners that crossed my path.

Each of my “big” hills I aimed for a street sign or road crossing about half way up and made a deal with myself to run to it before I started walking. 14km in and I was on the home stretch. Still one more decent hill to go. My legs were approaching jelly-like status, my knees were complaining but my ankle was strong and my cardio fitness was up tot eh challenge. On I plodded. One final hill and then 2.5km of flat and very gentle downhill to get home. It was so tempting to pick up my pace a little, but my legs didn’t really want to and it wasn’t part of the plan – save that for race day!

1km left and unless I picked it up I Wasn’t going to make it under 2:30, but my aim today was to NOT go faster at the end, so I stayed at my plodding pace, desperate to just finish by now. The final 200m was uphill (I really hate my street sometimes!) and I did it! My 18km long run was done in a couple of seconds over 2:31 total time. My average pace was damn slow, but I don’t care, I did it and I know now that I will make the half marathon.

The numbers:

  • Distance: 18km
  • Time: 2:31:04
  • Elevation: 279m

The test run of the Tailwind for hydration/nutrition worked brilliantly with no tummy upsets and just feeling a little need for something non-salty to drink. This will be easily solved on the day of the event by having Tailwind in my hydration pack and just drinking the water at a couple of the water stands around the course. My ankle strapping worked perfectly and a little tape on the other foot prevented any blisters. My knee still needs some strengthening, but that’s a work in progress.

Two days later, my quads still ache, but everything else has settled down. Now just to keep working on my pace and make sure I do all the training sessions scheduled over the next few weeks. Do I dare utter my goals? They’ve changed a little from the start of the training period when I had hoped to get through all 16 weeks of it! Now, my overall goal is to finish, still running, within the cutoff time of 2:45. My “can I do it?” goal, which I will be amazed if I manage, is to finish in 2:30. Let’s see what happens in three weeks time.

Training?

There’s now less than four weeks to go until my first half marathon. Crazy stuff given my complete lack of training, or really any running, to date. Last week though, it was time to kick things back into gear, strap up the ankle and see if I could run.

My first two attempts were shorter interval style sessions I did on the treadmill, so that I could stop if my ankle or knee were giving me too much pain. I taped up the ankle both times and each session was around the 4km mark. My knee ached badly by the end of each session, although my ankle held up well. My fitness was surprisingly good and while the intervals were relatively tough, I managed them pretty comfortably. I was also really happy my cadence in each run was mostly in “green” zone for each.

This week

A couple of weeks ago

I didn’t do the planned long run on the weekend – many reasons, but mostly just too tired. So Monday was my next session and I pushed straight into the next weeks program with a “faster” 10km run. This was going to be a real challenge as I had no idea if I could do the distance and how my body would hold up. It had been close to two months since I had last “run” this distance rather than completing it as an orienteering shuffle. I stuck to the treadmill option for this run as well, taped up the ankle a little more securely and started up.

After a little over 1km, I had to stop and adjust the taping on my ankle as it was uncomfortably digging in on the side of my foot. Surprisingly this was easily done and didn’t bother me again. I took a 10 second or so break every couple of kilometres to have some water, but otherwise was going along pretty comfortably. I had some music going and covered up the distance tracker on the treadmill so that I wouldn’t watch it constantly, and just ran. As the pace increased, my stomach started giving me issues – this wasn’t good. Kilometre seven was very uncomfortable and I was incredibly glad to be running at home and as I finished the kilometre made the dash for the toilet.

Stomach issues resolved, I picked up the pace again for the final three kilometres and finished with tired legs but feeling great. Amazingly, my knee had given me no issues at all for the entire run.

Splits – happy with my last few kms!

The next day I had booked in to see the physio to make sure everything was ok with me ankle and knee – just to be sure. It was all healing ok, but with the half marathon coming up I couldn’t really give it the rest that it probably needed. Happily he gave me the all clear – ligaments on the ankle are still a bit stretched but should be ok with taping properly. The knee is running a bit off due to strain caused by the ankle, but there’s no ligament or other damage directly to it. I need to do some single leg squats to strengthen up the right muscles and that should help it out too.

There’s hope yet that I can make this half marathon. It’s less than ideal preparation for it, but pending how I go on my long run this weekend it’s looking ok. Since it’s the only road half marathon I plan on ever doing (pretty sure I Will stick to trails after this!), I wouldn’t mind giving it a decent shot.

Mid-year goal update

I meant to do this post a while back, better late than never!

  • Sydney Summer Series – while I’m definitely improving on my route choice and distance covered, there’s still plenty of room to improve.  I’m happy with how it all pulled together for the season though and am looking forward to the start of the next.
  • 3+ Rogaines: Woohoo!!  Have already managed 3 rogaines this year and hoping to get in one more (maaaaaybe two).
  • Great NOSH Footrace: hahahahhahahaha!!!  Sub 2 hrs my ….  Good to dream big though, maybe it will happen one day!
  • Turkey Trot: Since it turned into a bush course rather than a suburban navigation, the time goal was out the window.  I managed a very creditable “not last” this year though, so I’m very happy with that.
  • Manly Trail Series: Maybe next summer!

Non-event specific goals:

  • Increase my long run distance from 10km to 15km – not there yet, but I’ve done multiple 13km+ runs, so I might be able to claim it by the end of the year.
  • Continue focusing on increasing my cadence – this one is finally coming along nicely! On road and treadmill runs, I’m finally regularly getting cadence in the green zone.  Still a work in progress, but I can finally see progress being made.
  • Explore the local trails and find some good regular routes – finding a couple of routes, but still need to explore a lot more.  Maybe after the half marathon I can hit the trails regularly again.
  • Consistency: 2-3 runs per week, every week – when I”m not injured or sick, I’m doing pretty well on this, pity I seem to be out of it as often as not!
  • Aim for 600km total distance for 2017 – another goal well in hand.  I’ll have to do something really wrong to not reach this one.
  • NO overuse injuries this year! *sigh* – maybe next year.  At least this time I’m still doing the exercises I was given and can notice the improvement they have made.

Overall I reckon I’m hitting about half my goals.  Not ideal, but I’ll take it.  There’s still a few months left and if I don’t reach things this year, there will always be next year!

ACT Metrogaine 2017 – The Long Version

Disaster struck early.  I was pulling clothes out of my bag – looking, searching, but something was missing.  No sports bra. Shit, shit, shit.  I had everything else, I had two types of socks to choose from, short sleeve top, long sleeve top, headband or cap, half a dozen different types of food to take.  But no bra.  Event starts at 9:30, now to find a shop in Canberra that opens early enough to get there, try some on, buy one, get changed and then get to the start with enough time to sign in, toilet, snack, plan… Could we do it?

In short – mostly.  The miracle happened and we were in and out of the shops in 10 minutes, Nick picked up snacks and we made it to the hash house by 8:30.  Checked in, picked up our maps and headed back to the car to start looking over the details.  Read all the course setters notes, checked out the novice route suggestions and quickly picked a direction to start in.  Seemed like an ok route, plenty of points, a couple of long slogs between controls, but not too bad.  Then we checked some other areas and realised we probably hadn’t made the best choice, but only ten minutes until start and we still had to check in a planned route and make toilet stops, so we locked it in.

With minimal running this winter and still having a slightly dodgy ankle (it was firmly taped up!) the plan was to walk the first couple of kilometres, so to help out with that we had put the biggest hill on the map up first.  The weather was much warmer than we had even hoped for, so the fleece was left in the car and at 9:30, along with everyone else, we headed for the hills.

It was a great course and had people heading off in all directions straight away, always a good thing for reducing queues at the first controls.  The first two controls were still quite busy but the speedy people were well ahead and the walkers had all spread out.  A steady trail of competitors were heading in the same direction and we soon started the steep climb up Mt Arawang.  It certainly got the heart rate up and by the time we got to the trig point at the top we were more than ready to take off the long sleeved tops and comfortably spent the rest of the day in short sleeves.  The control was down in the saddle and then the field spread further apart, we saw half a dozen groups heading to the same next control as us and then we didn’t see anyone else for almost another two hours!  We made our way along some very pleasant farm trails, with amazing views to the mountains and wattle in full blossom everywhere.  We had to make one change to our route due to an unmarked gate that was marked “strictly no access” – luckily backtracking wasn’t too far.  Had a chat with a cyclist who actually asked if we were out for a rogaine!  Very unusual to bump into someone who knows what we’re doing.  Then it was into the streets of Kambah for the next several controls.  We were able to hold up a steady jog along much of this area, most of the area was pretty flat, navigation is a bit curly in Canberra thanks to the street layout but luckily it’s very pedestrian friendly, with connecting paths everywhere.  For the first couple of hours we were feeling good with no particular aches or pains.

We had been snacking on tiny teddies (remnants from the 5 year olds birthday party the previous weekend) and sipping on water from our hydration packs, but after a couple of hours I felt the need for something saltier.  Checking our location, we could make the nearest shops via a couple more controls and with any luck might be able to pick up something hot and salty to eat.  I was starting to struggle a little, desperately in need of something a bit more substantial to eat and my hip was starting to niggle a bit.  Beautiful location for a couple of controls around the north end of Lake Tuggeranong and stopped in at local shops.  Unfortunately there wasn’t much choice, but we ordered some hot chips from the local pizza joint, picked up powerade and chips from the IGA and waited for the hot chips.  And waited.  And waited.  What a disappointment… Not cooked enough, not crispy, oven fried so minimal fat content, not much salt.  Ate a few but let Nick polish off most of them.  Had to do some walking shortly after this too as they did not sit well at all in our tummies.

We had lost a bit more time than expected for our lunch, but had still managed to cover 16km in under three hours (including the break)!  Wow!  Well on our way to a best effort, distance wise anyway.  We had also dropped visiting one high point control due to time/distance, but saw where we could pick up some others instead.  A slight route change also gave us more potential for adjusting our route on the fly depending on how our bodies were holding up.

First control after lunch was labelled “Nissan Hut” – that sounded pretty easy to find.  How wrong we were…  Probably the hardest control to find for us in the entire event.  We went round in circles so many times until we finally found it tucked in the corner of a shed and the fence for a community garden, everything sitting on the ground so that you would only see it once you were almost on top of it.  Certainly nothing saying “Nissan” or anything car-like anywhere near.  We took a quick break for Nick to look after a blister that had started on his foot, I polished off the last of my chips and we headed off again to find a way to cross the dual carriageway and get to the next control.

At this point we were still able to raise a jog and alternated jogging and walking making decent time.  We found a path not marked on the map that gave us a nice shortcut through to the next set of shops which conveniently had some toilets for us to make a much needed stop at – those hot chips really hadn’t been a good idea!

On we went, both hips starting to give a little trouble, less jogging and more walking taking place.  The ankle was still going well though and my knees weren’t troubling me at all.  A few easy points and a few more people around in this area – we were actually passing within less than a kilometre of the hash house, but we had a very adjustable loop planned out which we would modify on the go based on how we felt.  The loop rapidly got smaller as we went.

Lake Tuggeranong

With an hour to go, everything had started hurting and our brains were starting to fade a little.  It required a lot more effort to push into a jog now, although we still pushed it on the flats and downhills.  One final uphill and we made the call that after the next control, even though there was only 40 minutes to go, we would stop at the nearby shops for a coke – caffeine and sugar hit was much needed.  Nick stopped in and grabbed the cokes and we drank while we walked.  I was also out of water at this point, lucky we were nearly done.  Within minutes, the fog lifted and with 20 minutes left, we were confident it would be an easy finish – one final control and then straight home.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy!  We crossed the road and started across the park when a stabbing pain inserted itself in my ankle.  I was gasping in pain and grabbed hold of Nick.  The pain continued on and off for the remaining time, we grabbed our final control and then limped towards home.  That 1.3km from the final control to home, with 15 minutes remaining, was starting to look a lot less of a sure thing.  I wasn’t game to run, as if the stabbing pain hit while running I would probably go down, but it was getting really, really tight.  The scout hall finish line was in sight and my watch was telling me we had less than two minutes – we were going to have to run…  So run we did.  Kind of.  But it was enough!  We made it with barely 20 seconds to spare – not too shabby.

We went inside to drop off our navlight recorders and find out our score.  A different approach to the rogaines we have been to before and gives an instant gratification that we were more used to with orienteering events.  A disappointing score of 990 (our original route had mapped out just over 1400).  But – we had hit over the magical 30km in a 6hr event!  I was pretty stoked with that, now to improve our route planning and we can achieve a lot more now that we can cover more distance.

Our legs were complaining loudly from the way we had pushed them and feet were aching.  Nick stopped off for a bite to eat while I made my way to the car and took a seat without even bothering to stretch.  My ankle was throbbing, my hips ached and it felt like the bottoms of my feet were bruised.  The shoes had to stay  on though, as I didn’t like my chances of making it from the car to our hotel room without the support of shoes and my compression socks still in place.

The shower back at the hotel was bliss.  Taking stock afterwards, apart from the puffy ankle, the worst I had was tired legs and slightly achy hips – we were actually in pretty good shape.  We had kept enough food up, sipping constantly from our hydration packs, a little more substantial food midway through had seen us through.  I had put some fixomull tape on some hotspots on my feet before we started nad I came out of it with no blisters – pretty impressive since the longest run I had done on these shoes prior to this had been 10km which had given me an annoying blister.  No chafing from the new bra or anything else.  Nick didn’t get out quite as well, some chafing and a decent blister was the worst of it though, so it definitely could have been worse.

A fantastic day out in the fresh air, together and rounded the day out with a steak and a pint at a nearby Irish pub.

ACT Metrogaine – The Short Version

A sketchy start to the day and poor route planning (in part due to limited route planning time) meant we had a pretty disappointing score for the day. However, given all the other positives about the day and the event, I’m calling it a success. Full report coming soon, but for now – the numbers:

Score: 990 (possible 3000 points)

Position:
Overall – 67/84
Mixed – 18/24
Mixed Veterans – 5/6

Distance: 30.6km
Time: 5:59:32

A stunning winters day

I’ve had a long standing goal to reach 30km in a 6hr event which we achieved and scraped in under six hours by the skin of our teeth. Our route planning needs work and we can only get better the more we do. Right now – I am recovering well with only slightly stiff hips and sore glutes to show for it. No blisters, chafing, sunburn or even any scratches to show for the effort – that has to be a win in anyone’s book.

Orienteering – For ALL The Family

First weekend in August brought with it an orienteering event we had signed up for in April and was then postponed to the start of August.  Needless to say, with my ankle in the condition it was, I wasn’t running this one.  I was tempted to sit it out completely, but I was walking comfortably so decided to see if it would be ok to transfer my entry to the shortest/easiest course and then try and convince our girls that it would be great fun.

Another gorgeous winter morning greeted us on arrival at the oval and I easily transferred my entry across to the “Very Easy” course.  The girls were surprisingly agreeable, and even excited, to go orienteering with mummy – especially since they would be allowed to carry the “beeping stick”.

We set off 10 minutes before the main events would begin (they were a mass start at 10am) and, with the girls in fancy dress, Doc McStuffins ran for the first control.  I kept up a steady walk behind and in short time we had the first control in hand.  There was some bushwalking coming up and we were already warm, so we dropped jackets off at the car before nabbing the second control in the middle of a bridge.

Doc McStuffins and Super Girl enthusiastically headed up the stairs in the trail, not realising at this point that we hadn’t stopped for the promised blueberries and cookies at any of the controls.  Super Girl had the beeping stick for the next one and had to do a  bit of a stretch to reach it – success!  Time for some fruit and cookies after this one.

Doc McStuffins turn again, and after studying the map and discussing where we should find the next one, she ran ahead, proudly letting us know when it was found.

Back into some very overgrow bush trail for the next section.  About half way down the hill we could hear other runners approaching.  Luckily we came across a small clearing at the same time and stood off to one side while they all came past.  Just as they finished we heard something crashing through the bush towards us.  Curious as to what it might be – dog? oversize rabbit? – we waited until a wallaby burst out of the bushes and sped by only a couple of metres from us!

On down the overgrown trail, needing to watch very carefully where we were stepping, we found the next control before Super Girl took over again and led the way again.  The trail was quite indistinct at this point, but well marked with pink tape and the occasional obstacle to get past on our way back to the bridge.

Back across the bridge and we studied the map again to see which way to go next.  Doc McStuffins set off at a run and made good time to the next control where we needed another break and more snacks.  Only two more controls to go now.

Heading back towards the start/finish area we found the final two controls, then I sent them both off at a run towards the finish line.  Off they ran, and ran, and ran.   They were greeted by three enthusiastic organisers from the event who cheered the girls towards the finish, made sure they made the final beep and encouraged them to head towards the table to record their results while I caught up.

We then hung around the finish area, playing on the swings, having some more to eat and Doc McStuffins running around like crazy while Super Girl had a rest on the grass, waiting for daddy to finish his event.  All up, we probably covered just shy of 2km in around half an hour – a good distance for their age.

This is definitely the most enthusiastic and focused our girls have been while getting them involved in orienteering to date.  Super Girl is still a bit young for the map to mean anything, but she enjoys beeping the stick at the control flags.  Doc McStuffins was more interested in the map than I have seen before, and even picked the right direction to go a couple of times.  As an added bonus, both girls wanted to take the map and printouts of some of the photos in to childcare this week as their “news” day item.

Whale Rock – Bonus numbers post

Because I love my numbers, and it’s so rare I come anywhere near the top few in an event, I grabbed the splits and had a look at how the top four compared.  Each runner has two rows – top row is cumulative time, second row (in bold) is split time.  Split time highlighted in green for quickest between those two controls, yellow for second quickest and orange for third.  First column shows final overall time.

You can see the first two people shared nearly all the fastest splits between them – I managed to nab one!  They also hogged the second fastest splits for the most part, but I managed to get three of those off them.  Then the fourth fastest person was actually much more consistent in getting a good number of third fastest splits.  Luckily for me, my faster splits got me ahead enough as I easily lost 2-4 minutes on the last two splits after hurting my ankle.

I love that all this data is available and shared so readily.  While interesting, it also lets me see where other people had trouble finding controls as well so I can see how my navigation compares and where I need to improve (there’s a LOT of room to improve at this point!).

Whale Rock Orienteering

July was a very quiet month on the running front. Two runs at the start of the month – the Turkey Trot and a very quick treadmill run a couple of days later. I was then hit with a nasty virus which had me knocked out for a week and then the following two to three weeks struggling with breathing courtesy of the combination of respiratory virus, asthma and winter.

Finally, by the last weekend in July, I felt good enough to get outside and made it to a local orienteering event back near our old place. It was a stunning winters morning when Nick dropped me off, then he and the girls headed to an old favourite playground while I ran. I wasn’t planning to do anything too adventurous, so I stuck to the moderate course, which was a nice loop through the bush on familiar tracks with some navigational work on finding the actual controls – none of which were on track and rarely visible from on the tracks either.

This was a line course, so all controls had to be visited in order without missing any. While not overly busy, another competitor had headed out shortly before me and I passed him about half way to the first control – I would end up seeing him several times along the course. Being out again – moving, running – in the fresh air was just glorious! I felt great, the weeks off hadn’t done too much harm and I was feeling strong. The first control was at the end of a trail, over a small drop and hidden between a couple of rocks – good timing had me arriving just as someone else was leaving, so finding it wasn’t an issue.

Back out the small network of trails and along the back of some houses to the next control. I passed a couple of people intently studying maps and looking around trying to find the right spot, but I knew it was a bit further on and found it before anyone else came near. Back on the roads, a couple of puffs on the inhaler as my breathing seemed to be struggling a little more than was warranted before plunging back into the bush again.

Control three was tucked up above some rocks, again, not easily visible from the trail and a little clambering involved. Then it was down, down, down the bush stairs into the valley. Control four stumped me a bit. I went too far along the trail, thinking it may be accessible from below, but I misjudged and went to far. Walking my way back along, I finally caught a glimpse of orange and promptly lost it again! Just as another person showed up and I managed to take them directly to the control…

I trotted off again pretty quickly, it was a longer way between controls along here and I Was hoping to get a bit more distance between me and some of the more mature competitors. I was also pretty familiar with the location of these controls having taken part in another event in the same area and at least one of the locations was re-used from that. Controls five and six were nabbed and then control seven proved tricky again. There were a number of people around here as it was just below the start and few of the different courses crossed paths in the area. I managed to find the one I was after and overtook one person and met another couple from my course on my way out.

Control eight – oh boy! This was the killer for me. Such a small area to find it and it proved so damn hard. Steep ground, 4-5m rock faces and the control was buried somewhere between them all. Of course, once I eventually had it, two other people turned up and nabbed it straight away as I showed them where to head in!

Another decent trot along the valley to control nine via Whale Rock. Up into the bush and I made a beeline straight to it while listening to someone else crash about in the bush having a bit harder time locating it. Then it was up, up, up out of the bush towards the scout hall. I passed another competitor who was searching for a control – same as me – but she was in the wrong area. All I said was “it’s not around here”, and headed a little further up the hill and nabbed it.

Whale Rock

One more to go. A final jog along some roads, with a lovely hill in the middle, and I was nearly there. Overshot the trail onto the rock platform, so angled back towards it and – BAM! Down I went. Searing pain in my ankle – I’d rolled it in a damn bandicoot hole. I was 100 metres from the finish and the final control was around 15 metres in the other direction from where I sat. I didn’t know if I could walk, I sat there and cried for a couple of minutes. The pain was intense, but I also cried because it was my first run after a month off and this meant more time off running, I cried because I did a really bad sprain on the same ankle almost exactly a year ago – and it took me 6 weeks to get back on my feet again. I cried because I had, just that week, signed us up to a 6 hour rogaine and organised accommodation in Canberra for a weekend away.

But crying about it wasn’t going to get me anywhere and from previous experience, if I can keep moving then I have a better chance of making it to the end on my feet. Stopping for too long was the best way to make sure I would end up crawling there instead. And I wasn’t going to miss that last damn control! So up I got, hopped and limped my way towards the final control, wiping the tears off my face and doing my best to just keep moving. On my way back out I passed the person I had overtaken just before the previous control – she made sure I was ok before continuing and shortly overtaking me as she moved smoothly towards the finish. I tried a couple of cautious steps running – hell no! A hobble and a limp along the final stretch to the finish and I was done.

I found a comfy rock to sit on while I waited for Nick and the girls to come back and pick me up. Made it home and the pain was increasing, iced for a while then put on the moon boot from last year – great compression and support and enabled me to move around a little when needed for the rest of the day.

Results: Distance 6km, approximately 100m elevation in just over one hour. Out of 12 people I came in a respectable 3rd place – the speedy people did the longer courses, so it’s not quite as impressive as it sounds. I was less than 10 minutes behind the first two people and another 10 minutes after me to next place, so it would have been a much closer thing if I hadn’t gone down at the end.

The ankle – 10 days later: The bruising was pretty spectacular and I still have a fading multi colour bruise about the size of my hand wrapping around the front and side of my ankle. The swelling wasn’t as bad as I had expected though and after strapping it for a couple of days I’ve just been taking it carefully and after a week was walking without a limp. I can now manage several calf raises and hops on it without pain, although if I get the wrong angle it lets me know all about it. Walking is fine though, so I’m hopeful that if I strap it up that we can last the full day for the rogaine this weekend.