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.

Cronulla Rogaine 2017

I’ll start by saying this was by far the least enjoyable rogaine I’ve done to date.  This had absolutely nothing to do with the rogaine itself and everything to do with me.  The weather was perfect – clear, sunny blue skies and very warm.  The course was interesting and varied with plenty of options for route choice.

So what went wrong?  I had a low grade cold for a few weeks leading up to the event culminating in two days of high fevers 5 days before.  I only ran twice in these three weeks, so I was feeling pretty run down.  This also kicked off my seasonal asthma, so everything was a bit of a struggle physically.  But I woke up Sunday morning feeling good and ready to get going again.  Then the babysitter didn’t show up.  Luckily, we plan to arrive in plenty of time, so by the time we got hold of her and she made it over we still had enough time to drive to Cronulla (traffic worked in our favour!) and some planning time.  This placed a bit of stress on us though and we ended up forgetting our pre race munchies of hot cross buns and bananas – BIG mistake.

The individual competitors started off at 10am with the teams trailing after from 10:15.  This worked really well to split up the pack and meant the early controls weren’t overcrowded and we experienced zero queueing at controls the entire event – amazing!  We jogged along as we made our way around Cronulla point – beautiful part of the world with some amazing water views and small, sandy beaches.  The fast teams were all ahead of us, the walkers behind, we were collecting points as planned and keeping an easy pace.  Then I hit the wall.  Completely and utterly.  Only 45 minutes in.  This was not good.

I was exhausted, depleted and had no energy to walk anything more than a very gentle pace.  Grabbed a Powerade at the first shops we passed as planned, carried it to the next control and then walked another 5 minutes before finding a spot in the shade to sit and drink it.  My coordination was failing me and I hadn’t been able to walk and drink, my legs were too tired to even stand.  We decided to continue on, even if it meant walking the whole rest of the way.

I continued to struggle through the next couple of controls.  We grabbed some chips at the next shops we went through.  The following half hour was awful.  My mind sunk as my body refused to play.  We shuffled along, there were many pauses.  I doubted my ability to run, I was convinced I should just give up my ambitions to run any sort of distances.  That I was stupid to think I could possibly run a half marathon at the end of the year, that maybe I should just give up running altogether, I obviously wasn’t cut out for it.

I very, very slowly started feeling a bit better, still only up for walking though.  We had dropped off a couple of sections we had planned to get when we thought we would be able to run most of the way.  45 minutes to go, we stopped to reassess.  I was still tired, my legs were aching so we sat down – and were promptly scolded by another pair of rogainers passing by, you don’t get points sitting down!

Plan made, we walked on, pushing a little more now.  My legs were hurting, I had blisters forming on the inside of both heels and was till pretty unhappy but had pulled my self out of the doom and gloom of earlier.  With just under twenty minutes to go, we realised we would probably have to pick up the pace a little to get done what we wanted, so I tested the legs out.  It actually felt ok!  So from there we did an easy jog on flats and downhills while walking on the uphills.  With about one kilometre to go, we realised we were going to have to really push things to make it back in time.  Uh oh…

Up the final hill and about 600 metres to go and less than 3 minutes to go.  All downhill and we ran and ran.  6min/km pace, then 5min/km pace then faster still and we were in!  40 seconds over time so we would lose 10 points, but we were certainly not the last ones in.

An interesting postscript to the event – we failed to register at one of the checkpoints.  It seems that only one of us was recorded as being there.  I queried it, was told basically it was bad luck and move on.  No big deal, we’re not competitive.  Shortly after that, a follow up email said there had been more than one query on this particular control and we should challenge it.  End result – it seems the control was tampered with and while it worked perfectly for most people, there were several that didn’t, so we got the points.  Bumping us up a decent number of positions.

End results:

  • Score: 1010 points
  • Distance: 16km
  • Overall team position: 25/95
  • Mixed teams: 12/59
  • Mixed veterans: 5/19

In the end it was a surprisingly good result for what felt like a completely rotten event.

Wahroonga Rogaine – The Numbers

We moved house last week and had so many things go wrong or cause delays that it almost seemed we would never get there.  But we’re in and life is somewhat back to normal.

The timing wasn’t great for a rogaine, but being only a 15 minute drive from our new home, I knew we had to do it.  A 6 hour “Socialgaine”, we decided to limit ourselves to a 3-4 hour stint and just enjoy the day without trying to push things too hard after a long week.  Since this post is just going to stick to the numbers (next one will give a full run down of the day), I’ll get on with it.

Summary stats:

  • Distance: 19.6km
  • Time: 4:05:38
  • Elevation: 518m

We were the third team back in, with the vast majority of teams returning within 15 minutes of the 6 hour time limit.  As you can see by the elevation, there were some BIG climbs in there as we made our way from North Wahroonga down to Bobbin Head, up to North Turramurra and then back across to the starting point.

View from the second checkpoint

View from the second checkpoint

So given we used about two thirds of the time everyone else did, how did we go? Overall we came 72 out of a total 123 teams.  In the Mixed Open category we came 35 out of 70 – not too shabby!  If we take a look at those who came home early – we came 1st out of only 10 teams returning in under 5 hours; and we came 4th out of 24 teams returning in under 5hr 45min.

Pretty happy with those results, now to learn from what we did right and wrong on the day to put in some good efforts for next year when we enter the Veteran category!

Wolli Metrogaine

We nearly didn’t make it – a sick kid, non-responsive babysitter and at ten minutes to 10am we still weren’t sure if we were going or not!  To say our prep wasn’t ideal is possibly an understatement.  I had been up half the night with a toddler with croup, had hydrated well, but other than my usual breakfast before 6am, hadn’t eaten anything else.  At just five minutes to 10, the babysitter confirmed and chaos ensued as we finished getting ready and ran though things with the carer.  A good run to the starting point and a lucky car spot (even in the shade!) had us checking in as planned.

We picked up our wrist bands and maps, a quick toilet stop and then set to studying the map and eyeing up potential routes.  Our aim was an incredibly optimistic 20km in the three hour event, so had to include a number of decision points where we could cut things short.  We reviewed the “suggested” 6km, 8km and 11.5km routes for novices and used them as a starting point for our plan.  The aim (as always!) was to maximise points, while minimising hills to try and protect my still not 100% legs.  Then with a rough anti-clockwise plan in place (chosen for the convenient placement of a toilet stop around 6km in!), we listened to the pre-race briefing and, three minutes early, we were off!2016-04-11 08.34.23

Everyone hurried on out the school gates and quickly dispersed in all directions following their own plans.  Quite a few were heading the same way as us, but a steady jog had us behind the speedy runners and in front of the walkers.  A short down and up and we were at the first control, turn around and back down past a steady stream of people with maps in hand and then we were heading along some pretty single track to our next checkpoint.  Our third control was a little trickier to find, Nick thought we had gone past it already, I was convinced we hadn’t reached it yet.  We kept on a little further only to come across someone just ahead of us searching for the same place.  A careful walk across slime covered rocks near mangroves and we were back off again.

2016-04-11 08.34.51

Back up into the streets of Earlwood for the next section and a duck and weave out to the lookout and first photo of the day.  Lots of people around this one and the next few before things thinned out and we were on our own again.  About an hour in and I was desperate for a loo stop which showed up right on time.  Five minute break for toilet, muesli bar and a powerade.  While it was a fairly mild day, the humidity was a killer and it was a relief to get my hands on a cold drink.  Took a little while to get going again after putting all that in my belly, but we saw plenty of people at the next checkpoint before crossing Cooks River and on to a couple of long slogs between controls and some more short but steep hills.

2016-04-11 08.35.31

The next hour saw fewer controls but some good points in them.  We realised our original full route had been optimistic, so picked which route to cut it back to.  Some route changes on the fly – an extra 20 points here and a bonus 90 points we hadn’t counted on.  While my mind kept flagging, Nick is fantastic at reminding me to eat another jellybean.  It basically goes in a cycle… Running happily.  I get cranky.  I get told to eat a jellybean.  Eat jellybean.  Running happily.  Repeat.  My legs felt great – we were keeping up a slow but steady pace, walked up any hills and just kept on going.

2016-04-11 08.36.50

Into the third hour and just street work left, mostly flat and some long, gentle inclines.  Then I felt the first twinge in my achilles.  Ten metres on the second twinge – time to stop running and start walking.  I tell Nick, that’s it, we grab the last two controls and head in.  He responded with, I was thinking we could grab this one as well in the time easily.  No, it’s time to head in before I hurt myself.  Walking was a breeze, so I tried a jog again – nope.  Ah well, checked the time, bugger it, let’s grab that extra one.  Hmmmm, can we nab one more??  No, definitely time to head in now.

We returned to the start about 15 minutes before cut off time, handed in our trackers and joined the queue for food.  No soft drinks (I was looking forward to a Coke), so we headed back to the car.  A few stretches, then in for the drive home.

The numbers

  • Distance: 16.7km
  • Time: 2:46:48
  • Elevation: 200m

Results

  • Controls: 21
  • Score: 1170
  • Position:
    • 63/149 overall
    • 10/58 mixed teams

This is the first rogaine we’ve been in where they permitted single entries rather than teams.  Which goes a fair way to our overall result nearly half way down the list.  It did give us a great result in the mixed teams though which we were really pleased with, especially given our slow finish.  There was only 100 point between us and 5th spot.

The best part of the whole thing.  While I was unsurprisingly tired, I felt generally fantastic.  I had no leg pain while running, and no post run aches either.  A beautiful day and a great run, can’t wait for the next one!