Running my first ultra marathon

On Sunday 7 June, I woke to my alarm going off at 2am. It was dark and cold, but I was excited to get out of bed.

About two weeks earlier, Janine and I decided to enter the 50km run at the Gold Coast Super Marathon. We wanted to support the amazing Liz, who had been training for the 80km, and we thought if we were going down for the event, we might as well do our weekly long run at the same time. We considered entering the 25km event, but were already past that distance in our marathon training, so we thought we would have a crack at the 50.

Here is a little photo journey of the day.

*********Warning! Photos of super-sexy naked feet below.

Feet prep #1

Feet prep #1 – band aids, toe sausages and strapping tape

Feet prep #2

Feet prep #2 – injinji toe socks!

Feet prep #3

Feet prep #3 – Altra Intuition 1.5

My Altra Intuition running shoes are pretty much brand new. Before the run on Sunday, I had only done 5km in them. After running the 50km, I can’t sing their praises enough. All Altra shoes are zero drop, and this is my second pair. I got them online at Injinji Performance Products. I have to give the guys there a plug – their service is excellent, they have free delivery, and they often dispatch on the same day that you place an order.

New shoes on, bags packed, we made it down to the Gold Coast with plenty of time to spare. We cheered the 100km runners off as they started at 6.20am, and Liz was next off at 6.30am. Janine and I watched her until she disappeared from view, then we quickly made our way back to the heater to wait for our event to be called at 7am.

Before we knew it, we were at the starting line, and then we were off. We had a plan of running very slowly so that we could keep going for as much of the 50km as possible. We were strong and confident for the first 25km, but there were a few challenges after that. Without going into too much detail, long distance runnning can do unpleasant things to your body. Luckily, as we were running at the beach, there were plenty of toilets along the way. It wasn’t all bad, though. Because it was a looped course, we got to know the drink station people quite well. They were so friendly and supportive, and really added to our enjoyment on the day. One of the women was knitting a pillow case, and we were amazed to see the progress she made between our sweaty visits.

Just under 7 hours later, we made it over the finish line. The man who won the 100km event had crossed the line a few seconds before us (that’s right – he had finished his 100 in the time it took us to run our 50) , and he was in the middle of his winner’s interview when we came in. I think we must have been a bit delirious because we gatecrashed his interview to congratulate him, but he was wonderful, and told his interviewer that the support you get from other runners is one of the best things about long distance events.

Approaching the finish line

Approaching the finish line

Gatecrashing the winner's interview

Gatecrashing the winner’s interview

Nice and sweaty at the finish line

Nice and sweaty at the finish line

For the next two hours, Janine and I waited for Liz to finish her 80km. We cheered all the runners as they came through, but two amazing women from China deserve special mention. Running together in the 50km event, one of the women was blind, and the other was acting as her guide. It was just incredible to see them come over the line together. Truly inspirational women.

Amazing women running together

Amazing women running together

Just after the 9 hour mark, we caught a glimpse of Liz coming towards the finish. She had picked up the pace and crossed the line looking as strong as she did at the start. She was the first woman to finish the 80km event. I can’t say enough about her strength, determination and focus. Mostly because it makes me teary. Just wow!

The three of us when Liz finished

The three of us when Liz finished

One last thing………………………..

Since I started running and participating in organised events, I have come to understand two very important things.

  1. The official event photos will, without exception, be awful.
  2. The shirt or singlet you get for finishing the event will easily rate as the ugliest, most ill-fitting item of clothing you own.
Behold the Gold Coast Super Marathon shirt!

Behold the Gold Coast Super Marathon shirt! The cut! The colour! The puff paint-like finish of the design! It’s a keeper.

A big thank you to Erica from Running Divas for the amazing work she does to empower women so they can achieve their running goals.

What difference does a year make?

Sitting here on the eve of our return to Australia, and I am finding it hard to put a finger on how I feel. There is a lot to do once we get home because we both start work within a week of our arrival, so at times, the main feeling I can identify is stress/anxiety. And as Jeremy would tell you, I am coping with that very well – I am a pillar of calm. Yes, it’s true. Apart from that, I am excited about seeing everyone and moving into a new place, but I am also sad that this journey has come to its end.  One more pack of the luggage and we will be home.

Jeremy bought wine for our last night in South East Asia. Is he trying to tell me something? Is it time I started shopping in Fat Lady?

FatBird

The wine Jeremy bought for our last night in SE Asia. Is he trying to tell me something?

Having lived out of a suitcase for the last four months, and with minimal possessions for the eight months prior to that, I feel that my desire to consume has changed. When you have to carry everything you have with you, it’s interesting to discover that you can get by with very little. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and reading a lot about the minimalist movement that seems to be gaining momentum around the place. I think I am in a unique position to re-evaluate my addiction to recreational shopping, and to reconsider my attachment to all the things that I already own.

We have made a conscious decision to live in a smaller space when we get back to Brisbane. A smaller space means fewer pieces of furniture, less stuff, lower energy consumption, but on the plus side, it means more time, more money and more freedom. I am looking forward to cleaning one toilet and one bathroom per week rather than three toilets and two bathrooms. Jeremy already travels pretty light, so this will be a challenge that mainly affects me.

What difference does a year make? Who has changed their hair? Who has grown a beard? Got a tattoo? Started a new relationship? Gone paleo?

What difference did a year make to me? It can be explained by my running shoes.

Day 1 – So new, so beautiful, so fresh.

Then

Day 365 – Past their retirement date and smelly, but they have experienced a lot and they’re still up for a new challenge!

Now

What a wonderful time we have had, and what a wonderful time awaits us at home.

Be warned friends, I haven’t had my hair cut or coloured since September. That’s five months.

See you on the southern continent.

Claire x