Two Bays write up
Yesterday I finished my forth Two Bays 56km trail run. My first ultra-marathon was Two Bays back in 2013 so this race has a special place in my heart. It’s also just a bloody fantastic event. The entry fee won’t send you broke, the volunteers are outstanding – you are taken care of, supported and looked after like a queen and the trails are just beautiful.
The race starts from Cape Schanck. You run 28km along the trails to Dromana, ring a big bloody bell and then run all the way back.
I got to the race start at 6am as I had to pick up my race bib. I had made a thermos of coffee but I couldn’t stomach it. I was feeling a little queasy. I wondered if it were just nerves. It had been a while since I’d entered a race like this.
The weather was cool and wet. I wasn’t impressed. I feel the cold dreadfully and whilst it certainly wasn’t freezing, by my standards it was. Part of the appeal of this race for me is the hot and dry conditions we normally race in. It didn’t feel like Two Bays.
We all miled about the start line and there was so much chatter. I was feeling very sensitive and the chatter was making me feel insane. It was coming at me from all directions in such a fast rhythm that I felt overwhelmed.
Then we were off running, I tried to go as slow as I possibly could go. I was thinking of a blog post my running coach Matty Abel had written a while back – something about challenging yourself to go slower than you normally would at the start of a race. I normally bolt out the gates at Two Bays, but this year I let everyone go ahead. I had my heart rate monitor on and I wanted to keep my heart rate fairly low for at least the first 5km.
Two guys started jogging behind me and one wouldn’t shut the fuck up. He was talking really loudly, going from one heroic story to another. I’m being a total bitch here, but there was just so much sound going on at the start of this race that I wondered why I race. It was really affecting me. I thought about running faster just to get away from this dude, but lucky his ego kicked in and he overtook me and I didn’t have to hear him for the rest of the race.
You might be thinking right now that I sounded pretty cranky. I wouldn’t say I felt cranky, but I felt hypersensitive and I just wished everyone would shut up. I wanted to hear the hum of the ocean as we traversed along the cliff tops, not the sound of people.
I wasn’t in the mood to chat to anyone so I didn’t, until suddenly I realised I was frowning. I stopped myself and my face felt lighter, my body felt lighter. I felt new.
I realised I was running very well. I felt really strong and was able to run most of the hills still keeping my heart rate in a conservative zone. I wondered whether it was worth pushing for a PB, but I had to remind myself I hadn’t had the best lead up to this race. I returned from Argentina at the end of November, started training in December and then developed acute bursitis in my heel and so couldn’t run hills or do any speed work in the weeks prior to Two Bays. I felt strong but I didn’t have much speed in the legs. So I focused on the first goal which was to get to the half way point before cut off.
I had thought the cut off was 3.30 at the 28km mark, but it was actually 3.45. Lucky as I got in at 3.28. That was the exact time I got in to the checkpoint the year I got my PB, except this year I had run as easy I possibly could (whilst still mindful of cut off times) to get here. I had so much in the tank. Still, let’s not get reckless.
So I just continued on, putting one foot in front of the other. This was when I really started to enjoy myself. I no longer had to be mindful of the cut off times – I was doing fine, so I just tried to make sure I looked up from time to time and enjoyed the scenery.
I started talking to other runners at this point to and met some awesome new people – this is the spirit of Two Bays – its exceptional volunteers and the friendships that are made on the trail.
The last 6km of Two Bays are always when the wheels fall off for me. I’ve cried myself to the finish line many times. I find every excuse to walk. This year I challenged myself to find every excuse to run. Taking the first half of the course conservatively really paid off as I had a lot of energy and I just started running as strong as I could. I was overtaking people instead of being overtaken. I was even energetic enough to yell out words of encouragement.
I came through the finish line in 7.29. Five minutes slower than my PB, but six and seven minutes faster than my previous two runs at Two Bays. I felt ecstatic. After the long year of ups and downs that was 2017, it felt good to be back, to have had a good race and to have finished strong.
At the end a lovely volunteer held out a bunch of drinks and snacks to me. I sat in a chair unable to speak and just pointed at the banana. It took me another hour before I could eat the banana. I’d done my best and I was pleased that I was too tired to speak or chew.
A summary of the day’s highlights:
– Seeing Kate at the half way mark and then again at the finish in her crazy green shoes, ringing that cow bell like no body’s business. I met Kate at Two Bays a few years ago when I was face down in the dirt and she had to step over me in order to get to the finish – “trail kill”. That’s what this race is about – repeat offenders – you come back time and time again whether it’s to race, volunteer or encourage.
– Stopping at the porta-loo which I don’t normally do (I’ll usually hold on till I get a kidney infection) and seeing that someone had left Donald Trump toilet paper behind. That was totally worth stopping for a few minutes and missing a PB.
– Ashley Bennet giving his podium prize to the woman who came in last just before the cut off. If I wasn’t so dehydrated and could afford the tears I would have cried. We all know that it’s the person who is out there the longest that has the toughest job. I don’t know Ash that well but he became a gold class human being to me after seeing him do that yesterday – he was also the nicest person in the elite field still managing a few words of encouragement and a smile to those of us who were plodding along at the back while he was tearing up the front (the front runners will pass most of the field as us plodders head into the half way checkpoint as it’s and out and back course).
– Eating the value of my entry fee in V-Fuel gels and sports drink. I don’t normally use electrolytes but I had a massive headache yesterday and battled with nausea all day. After the half way point I started drinking the V-Fuel electrolyte drink offered at the aid stations and my headache went and it did seem to help my nausea. As someone with fructose malabsorption, I don’t usually get the luxury of eating the food offered at aid stations. I hadn’t tried V-Fuel prior to the race but knew it was fructose free so I took a gamble and gave it a shot and I was really impressed. I felt like I had a really consistent energy buzz from the gels, they seemed to help my nausea rather than contribute to it and the flavours were pretty nice too.
Things I didn’t love so much:
– Having the same song, same riff stuck in my head for 7 hours and 29 minutes. I chose not to listen to music this race, but my brain got stuck on the opening riff of a song I heard a band play a few weeks ago. It just played on repeat in my brain the entire run. I now can’t stand that song.