The One Where You Accidentally Run a Marathon

I remember the first time I crossed the finish line of Run Melbourne back in 2012, I thought there is no way that I could run a full marathon.

The half distance is challenging but it’s not time-consuming, which is why I stuck with it for so long.

My fitness journey has taken me a lot of places, from various half marathons to Spartan Races and Tough Mudders.

Trail running is my love

You wouldn’t think that considering my first trail run was a real disaster, with my training being hindered from getting sick I would hate it.

Yet, even though I didn’t have the most ideal race there was something about trail running that fits me to a T.

Soon enough I dropped the obstacle events and stuck with the trails.

That thought of a marathon became but a distant dream.

Then in 2017, I ran leg 3 of Surf Coast Century.  It was the furthest I had ever run (close to 30km), and I felt amazing.  The seed was planted for an ultra.

I knew that if I ever wanted to run a marathon, it would have to be on the trail.  And why not do one better and skip the marathon and go straight to ultra.

There were two things holding me back.

  1. I had to get the half marathon pb out of me.
  2. I had to increase my training load

So I spent 2018 doing that.  Running a personal best at the Australian Running Festival, and running the year (aka 2018km).

When early bird entries opened I entered immediately, got my training plan and made started building my base.  Training wouldn’t officially start until June.  Events like UTA, kept me entertained until the time came.

Each week the long runs would build in time.  Soon enough peak training week arrived.

Rather than feel overwhelmed by the load, I decided to simply take each day as they would come.

One of my running goals for the year is to run the plateau but in reverse (from Jimmy Creek to Mt William). This track was going to be my goal track for my 5 hour-long run.

That stupid polar-vortex, however, had other ideas, and it left Mt William and the Plateau covered in a blanket of snow.

I was only ever going to do this track in ideal conditions, which now meant with snow, completely ruled out.

My long run got moved from Sunday to Monday (my other day off).  Conditions in the Grampians were still not optimal, so I elected to keep things local.  Using my house as an aid station, I settled on 3 laps of approx 14km each of around town.

The plan for this run was to run 7-8km per hour, making sure I took plenty of walk breaks at the start, knowing I would take them later.

Track 1 was the rifle range, with an extended loop around the back of the mine, through moonlight reserve, where I had to do the avian dance, as the Plovers had decided this would be a good location to nest. Stupid birds.

Refueling back at home, I headed out for Track 2 – Nuggety Hill.

On my return I Siri’d Tom to make me lunch (salami and cheese crackers).  Giving me watch a quick charge, making a pit stop to the loo, and check my pack I went out for my last leg, Deep Lead.

I ran, I walked, I shuffled.

I listened to podcast and music to help me stay sane.

Arriving back home I looked at my watch and saw 41.5km.

Hmm, do I go back out and run another 800m?

Damn straight you do.  Dumping my gear, I headed back out to the gift to do a few laps.

Sure my watch died, (GPS and heart rate tracking turned off to conserve battery life), but I did it.

5.GOD.DAMN.HOURS and a marathon to boot.

I never intended to run a marathon.  In fact, I barely looked at my watch, so I had no idea how far distance-wise I was actually running.  My watch is set up so the first screen I look at is heart rate zone, and duration.

Things I learned

  • Running on your own for this distance is hard work, and BORING
  • Splitting the run into 3 legs, was a fantastic decision
  • Having the house as an aid station, brilliant idea!
  • Fueling on point
  • Ran out of water on the last leg
    • Yes, I checked before I headed out, but obviously, I had less than I thought.  I shall remember to refill.
  • Glee music saved the day
  • My watch went on power save mode approx 20km in.
    • quick charged my watch while I was eating lunch, and took my cord with me so I could charge while I was running.
    • I later realised 2 things about my watch
      • I have to turn the blue tooth off my phone, as that is one of the reasons why it eats up battery
      • My user profile (ultra running), wasn’t on GPS power save mode (where it locates satellites every 30 seconds instead of ever 1 second.  Needless to say that error has been rectified.)

Now I know this Ultra is totally possible and I will totally enjoy my taper until race day.