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A Few Things Learnt - Surfcoast Century

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If you are going to race a 100km trail run, then chances are you will learn a few things along the way. Here are a few lessons I have taken away from this year's Surfcoast Century.

New Limits
This isn't about how fast I can run. It is about how much I can get out of myself. It isn't something I can objectively measure or fully explain. The biggest thing I learnt is that I can push myself further and dig deeper into whatever it is than I thought possible. The combined onslaught of the body's defence mechanisms creates a situation where it feels almost impossible not to slow down at the very least. I've been there before and pulled out some efforts to be proud of, but this time it was a new level. Does that push my threshold out further? Will I be able to tap into it again?

Mental Training
It is cliché, but so much of an ultramarathon is mental. Without a wide selection of well practised mental techniques I would not have performed so well. 100km means for a long day, …

Surfcoast Century 2013 - Race Report

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I'll start by giving away the ending. This was definitely my best race ever. It goes beyond that initial caught up in the moment reaction, I dug deeper and got more out of myself than I thought was possible. The result was I smashed the race with a result I am absolutely stoked about. This report is how it unfolded. It isn't whole lot of number crunching, heart rate analysis and dry facts. That isn't how I raced. Here's my attempt to convey my best day of racing.

Grand plans and big goals initiated my training months ago. Having covered the 100km in 12:26:01 last year, I was thinking I could slash that down towards 11 hours. The training did not go as expected. No runs longer than 40km, and not much over 30km, plus quite a few gaps. I was genuinely worried about my ability to finish let alone be happy with my time. In the final two weeks I spoke about running sub-12 hours with the full size beer stein as incentive. Honestly, I didn't believe that was possible at al…

Ticking a Box, Run

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After watching the reconnaissance videos of the course that I posted in my last blog, Number 43, I remembered a section from the SCC Back Fifty video that I was really looking forward to running last year. Unfortunately it was this section where I was really struggling and had been reduced to a walk, despite the very runnable terrain.
This year I plan on amending that. The section is in Leg 3, in the Otways on the trail loop through the Currawong Falls. Last year I recognised an exact spot by the rock step, that I found myself slowly stepping down over, instead of smoothly running through. Below is a still capture of that spot...

This gradual descent followed by the 7km climb afterward is where I should make up the most time compared to last year. Now get out there and do it.

Number 43

Only five sleeps to go, or 4.3 if I follow Harro's thinking. The traffic on Coolrunning.com.au/forum has increased as D-Day approaches. The training has been done. Just a handful of comfortably quick 200m reps tomorrow, an easy 10km on Wednesday and then complete rest for the final two days. My main aim this week is to get in as much sleep as possible.

For those who want all the details check out the full race program here.

The weather is looking pretty damn good. 9-19 degrees Celcius, with a possible shower and light winds. Looks like a bit of rain at the start of this week, should leave a few wet, muddy and slippery sections. Maybe that will make some of trails a little slower, but it should mean the sand will be harder packed. Swings and roundabouts with that one.

Some details:

Solo Competitors: 155

My Race Number: 43

Live Race Day Tracking:http://m.bluechipresults.com.au/Search.aspx?R=61

Twitter: #surfcoastcentury

Course Video:


Working Out The Details

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Only eleven days to go to the Surfcoast Century. The training is what it is, nothing I can do to change the past. The focus is now on making the most of what I have. That involves a few things, but for the most part it comes to sorting out the logistics.

I've been looking at the race maps, looking at how people went last year, how I race last year and comparing it to what I see as my current strengths and weaknesses. I've crunched a lot of numbers, paces, distances, heart rates etc. and looked at things in a scientific, objective way then added a few layers of art over the top. That's led me to settle on some time goals for this year. I'm not as optimistic as I was a few months ago, reality has crept in. Still, I am looking to running faster than last year's 12:26.

The biggest influence on goal setting is the 1 litre beer stein. To get the full size, I need to run under 12 hours (not 13 as per last year). Essentially my race plans are geared to achieving this.


Look…

Three Weeks

Six days straight of no running due to illness brought me up to exactly three weeks out from the Surfcoast Century. The rest of the month had further gaps too. My long runs never exceeded 40km. So what am I doing to make the most of what I have?

So far the runs have been:

Saturday: easy 14km, with some hills. Run at what feels like my natural running pace, which is turning out to average around 5:15/km at the moment.

Sunday: Long with full race kit. 26km. Some trails and good hills thrown in. This was about hitting what I thought would be the appropriate feel for race day. Unfortunately that turned out to be a bit slower than I wanted, but it is what it is. The run still felt about right.

Monday: easy 14km. Same as Saturday, except I ran the loop in reverse.

Tuesday: Hill reps. Not exactly what most people would picture. I have a hill that varies between 10-14% gradient, 1/3 is even stairs and the remainder rocky and grassy single track. On the up, I alternated between one repetition …

Back On It

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Well overdue for a check in. I'm still racing the Surfcoast Century and it is less than three weeks away. Has the training gone well? Am I ready?

The short version is no, the training hasn't gone well. August was meant to be my biggest month of training. Hitting about 120km or so each week, with long runs of 40-60km, plus an assortment of hill sessions and prolonged tempo runs. Training went in the opposite direction. A mixture of extended shifts, a mild back injury, kids waking at night and destroying my already limited sleep, then some illness and this August saw the least amount of training and greatest number of days off. Not the ideal build up to a 100km race.


Prior to this my training had been going well, and I was quite happy with the base I had developed. Now I'm healthy and feeling surprisingly fit. I need to get in some good training, but there is a definite limit on what I can so close to the race. So the is two weeks of solid, persistent training without any ri…