Coastal High 50 2017 September 03 2017
Coastal High 50 2017
Woe, where to start. Hmmm.
6 years ago I started running again after 2 years of no running. Not because I was lazy or lacked motivation, but because of a bad back and upon Doctor’s advice, I gave up running. I was so sad. I used to dream about running in a glide through the Queen Street Mall. I loved running and missed it so much. As luck would have it I met Dr Mark Craig aka “The Back Doctor”. I went to him after a recommendation by a friend. I was so sick of having a numb left foot and sciatic pain. He saved me. I clearly remember him telling me that my back was rooted (well he may have used a doctory-term) and running could not make it any worse so I should run whilst I still could. That first appointment when the anesthetic and cortisone shot through my sciatic nerve was the first time in years I could wiggle my left toes and feel them.
I had no sooner started running then I got bloody crook with pancreatitis and a twisted stomach and bowel (blah). But I was determined to keep running, so another 6 month break and I got back into it. I ran my first EVER fun run, Bridge to Brisbane in 2012. Somewhere along the line parkrun came into my life and running became so much more than running. It was a community. A community of slightly insane people who pay money for a bit of bling, maybe a shirt and varying levels of pain and discomfort along the way. If they are really lucky they get a banana at the end of the run. Winning.
5k was my gig and I had no desire to do more really and I scoffed at those people who felt the need to run further.
A couple of fun runs here and there then I thought about ½ marathons and ticked Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Twilight off that list. Ugh Twilight, that was the worst experience of my life. Only I can fall over and give myself whiplash on a bitumen road.
In dispersed with all this fun was still my bad back. But a good weights regime was getting it stronger and the cortisone/anesthetic injections less often.
parkrun became a staple and I became quite the tourist and parkrun competitor with another band of merry ladies. Through North Lakes parkrun I met a group of ladies called “Girls Run This Town” or GRTT for short. What an inspiring bunch. Eventually in October 2015 Petrie parkrun became my home parkrun as I am the co-event director and co-founder. I love giving other people the gift of running. Then through Petrie parkrun I got to meet some local Dayboro runners. What a great bunch they are.
In late 2015 my son started mountain bike riding and I mused what I would do to while away the hours whilst he was out there in the bush. A friend suggested trail running and it seemed like it might be ok. Eventually on a sweltery December in 2015 I gave this trail running gig a go with “Trailblazers Run Coaching”. Omg I was hooked, even if I did hit the dirt hard. After run coffee was my fatal error. Some how I came home straight away and signed up for the 2016 Coastal High 50. Haha, after one 5k trailrun!
Anyway, my Trailblazers family became a great group of people to hang out with and the Super Coach – Michelle got me training for this goal. I was going great guns with this and never missed a training session until disaster hit and my boobs turned rogue on me. With 6 days til Coastal High 50 2016 I was hospitalized with bordering septicemia from a breast infection. I cried and sobbed on race day as I watched my friends’ progression through each checkpoint from my iPad in my hospital bed. I wanted to give up, fuck that stupid race, what was the point?
Well the point is that I wanted to do this. So I was going to. I got myself well and in the new year of 2017 I started another training plan from Super Coach Michelle. I was going great guns again then in March I sprained my ankle a beauty. It took months to get back to sort of normal and even then I wasn’t my best. I cried quite a few tears this time too. But I was doing Coastal High 50. My Dayboro running friends and "Coach Steve", aptly called this because he rode his mountain bike beside me often so I wouldn't be alone, got me through many a long run.
Fast forward to today; the Sunday after Coastal High 50 2017. I bloody well did it. Once I got to the start line I had no doubt I was going to make it. There was nothing that was going to stop me.
I took three days off work before the race, just in case I got a paper cut or something equally as devastating. We travelled down on the Friday afternoon with Ms 14 in tow and stayed in a swanky Sky Lodge at Binna Burra. It cost A lot of money, but I think two kidneys was a bit a selfish of me anyway. The spa bath looking out to the mountains was money well spent and the bed and pillows were like sleeping on a very firm cloud.
We had the buffet dinner at Binna Burra on the Friday night. I overate I am proud to say; I had roast beef and potato galore with gravy and a shit-tonne of salt… mmmmm. I even had desert and ice-cream and custard, all those things I never eat. I went to bed with a very happy tummy. I got to talk all things Coastal High with Jen (Trailblazer) and her hubby Kas at dinner, it was fabulous. I briefly saw Brad (Trailblazer) on the Friday night too, but the drive to the coast on Friday afternoon nearly did him in.
I woke up on the Saturday morning of the race like a bloody Walt Disney Princess, the birds were chirping and I felt great!!
5:30 am, time to leave Ms 14 sleeping and Mr Bright and I walked down the hill to the start line (2 and a bit k). I felt like I needed to walk off the nervous energy. We got there and went straight into the portaloo line, quite a social place where I got to see Tash and Jules (parkunners and Girls Run This Town). Some obligatory photos all round with Andrew (another parkrun Event Director), Jen and Brad (Trailblazers). The first wave went, then us. Downhill for a bit then uphill back to bloody Binna Burra. Well played “Those Guys”, well played you funny buggars.
As I walked up that hill back toward the start line, there was no queue for the portaloo, I so could have waited to do my nervous wee. Up, up, up, luckily, I love hills and into the Lamington National Park; “ooh, look, a toilet, better do another nervous wee”.
Beautiful, beautiful single trail, technical-as-fuck, tree roots everywhere, hanging vines, debris, rocks, but it was THE best, I felt like I was in heaven. 15k into it, I am by myself. I Might stop for another wee… stuff the toilet. SPRUNG, my first wet shoe of the day from the fright and my “aim” went awry.
Running, walking, beautiful. Up. Up. Up. “Shit, single track on a cliff edge, don’t look down. Don’t trip”. Luckily I am not ambiturn and can only turn left or I would be toast. Stuck behind slow people, I try to go around, poor Nelly gets her foot stuck in a root and goes down, I feel bad because it was kinda, sorta, not really my fault, so I hang back with her to make sure she’s ok for a few k’s, then downhill she leaves me for dead, I think she was ok.
Bit further along a group of girls are behind me, I really need to fart, but I can’t because they are so close, I offer for them to go ahead but they decline, then boom, one of them trips and falls into me. Lucky for my strong back that it hold us both up. I said to her “you nearly wore me like a hat”, I don’t think she got it. She should go buy a lotto ticket because I saved her ass. Nearly at the checkpoint and another chick impales her leg on a tree root, gnarly, someone else is giving first aid.
Bit more of ridiculous cliff edge stuff where I am terrified to run fast because I might fall to my death. Another girl ran too close to the edge and the ground gave away under her foot and she went down (on the trail). Faaark. Bit of first aid in the form of “are you ok”, bit of love and walking with her and I am off again. 20k in, oh god, I need to poo. I can’t go in the bush; cliff on my right, sheer rock wall on my left. “Hold on, ok, walk to get rid of the pain”. I come into the 24k check point and there is a massive line for the ONE poraloo. “Dear god no”. By the time I got to the loo that feeling had passed and 20 minutes of my life faded into nothingness. Mr Bright and Ms 14 joined me the queue and refilled me and regaled me with how great I was, so it was not a true waste of 20 minutes I suppose. I got to see Jen (Trailblazer) in the line too.
Off I went again, 1k in, Mr Poo Pain returned, fuck it, I pop an Imodium and walk for a bit. Start running because I felt good. A chick went down and rolled her ankle. I stopped to console her as she realized her dream is buttfucked. She was crying and I got it. She just had to wait for someone to carry her back up that insane hill to the 24k checkpoint. I felt so torn leaving her.
Run, run, run, slide, “shit this stuff is shaley”. Shit “keep out, prison reserve” signs on the border fences. “Great, today is the day I meet a toothless inmate and I have to remember that new take down move they taught me the other day at operational skills training”. Lots of stairs and tree stumps to help you get up and over fences, that is cruel. “Oh look there is a marshal, it’s beautiful Shelley”, I know her and I give her a sweaty hug, something I am sure she will cherish. Ok, we are on the grassy shoulder of the road, an unnecessary, but fun creek crossing. “Nice, Ok, we are crossing the road and we are on the bitumen, hello there I am in my natural element, just like running on my local roads here in Dayboro”. Under the bridge to do another creek crossing. I stand in the flowing creek to let my feet cool, BEST FEELING EVER. I was in no hurry and enjoyed that cool water.
Run, run, run, “ooh there is the 32k checkpoint”, I nearly ran past it. “Ok, let’s mix it up a little”; coke and a no doze. Mmmm, what the hell, I had been fueling myself on lollies and tailwind til then, why not throw caution to the wind?
Run, run, run. Another creek crossing, stand there and have a chat with another lady about what awaits us. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. Trainer-wheel-stairs to prepare us, then the never ending hill of insanity, OMG! I stopped for a partial second and I nearly fell backwards. Up! “For god’s sake, there are easier ways to run a marathon. I could have been finished Gold Coast Marathon by now”. Up, “this is really hurting”, I start singing “put one foot in front of the other”, taken from “Santa Claus” the animated movie when they teach “Winter” how to walk again. “Ok, so here are the stairs that are lamented as being so horrible”. I didn’t count them, but I am pretty sure there was not 900, more like 898. I did not stop on those stairs aside from when I found, Andrew, a fellow parkrun Event Director. He was in a bad way and had no water. I am pretty sure there were vultures circling above his head, just waiting for him to drop. Luckily, I am like a girl scout and I am always prepared, so I gave him 500mL of tailwind, a mental hug and a sympathetic look and back to up, up, up, I just kept eating those stairs up and an inordinate amount of lollies. There was only one way to get the pain over and done with and that was to keep moving. Buggar it, my watch died half way through the stairs. “ I am not certain whether this counts”. Finally up, yippee and I ran into the 42k checkpoint. My first marathon is done and dusted. I take my time have a chat, took two no doze and a 600mL of coke (aren’t I naughty?), use the toilet and I realized when it was tricky sitting down and getting back up that this next 8k might hurt a lot. Mr Bright yells out that once I cross the road, then I am an ultra-marathoner. I do a silly thing and pretend to get hit by a car and then have to wait to bloody cross the road, stupid traffic.
I took Mr Bright’s watch and it took ages to hook in. Finally, a bit more up and some more surprise stairs and bloody tourists. “Get out of my way, I am important you know”. I didn’t really say that “I kept saying G’day, how ya goin?”.
Funny thing, every time I passed another runner I would ask them how they were and runners will always tell you why this run is not so good, lack of training, injury, nutrition, whatever… What about if you just said “good thanks, or this hill sucks, or shit I am unfit I really didn’t think this one out before I signed up”.
“Ok, so a parkun to go, wahoo, wonder what my time will be?” More stairs, more tourists, concrete, I can hear the PA system, must be close. All of the sudden I saw CH50 flags, “is this it?” I ask and around the corner and wahoo. I am screaming in sheer delight. I get to nearly the end and perform what I consider a great attempt at 3 year old’s version of a cartwheel. I get up, across the finish line and get a hug from one of the big spunks from “Those Guys”, the big, guy, not the little one with the dreamy eyes. Wahooo.
Ms 14 gives me a hug and whispers that she is proud of me, she would never say that out loud. I see Jen, Kas, Brad, Jules and Tash and life is pretty bloody good!
I am an ultra-marathoner. I got a shirt, I got bling, but most of all I achieved what many people think is impossible. I got to show my daughter what not giving up looks like. I got to share this with some dear friends and my some of my family. Mr Bright was my biggest supporter along the way, putting up with my tiredness, my hunger and that was just the training. He never says any of my bad ideas are bad ideas.
Before I started the race Ms 14 wrote on my arm “The one who falls and gets back up is so much stronger than the one who never fell at all.” That wasn’t about falling over out there on the trail, that was about getting knocked down last year and coming back and keeping true to my course. I had no doubt once I started that I wouldn’t finish. My goal was to finish, taken in the beautiful course and to help people along the way. Sure! I probably could have come in faster but I highly doubt I would be remembering this run with joy, it would be more like remembering my disastrous finish at “Up the Buff”.
Running is the best metaphor for life, you get out what you put in and hard roads can take you to beautiful places. Yahoo ULTRA MARATHONER, never, never give up.