It is hard to imagine it was just last Sunday I made that rather strained leap across the finish line, hammies hammered & fingers frozen, but with such sweet elation.. :) I have my wife to thank for these memorable finishing shots, completing the Macedon 50k felt absolutely fantastic only because it lived up to the toughness that everyone had described it to be. I'm proud that I finished with little left in the legs - I pushed myself hard in the final 2k climb & executed pretty much as planned!
And not-so-secretly it was also the mini-redemption for the DNF at Buffalo.. the 'rebound' run :) While the two are very different runs, Macedon is no push-over either & demanded serious mental & physical commitment (for me anyway!). It felt like I've tied up some loose ends from Buffalo & reinstated that important feeling of completion..
This year we also had a contrasting lovely weather. Personally I would've enjoyed a bit of rain & muck but the weather was certainly more welcoming in general compared to last year's weather el miserables.. race organisation was great but Brett seemed a little bit short on volunteers.. directions & ribbons were a-plenty but certain sections it was still possible to take wrong turns.
Anyway. Let's jump into the race recap....
The General Plan was very similar to last year's.. broke it down to chunks of 10k - I gave myself a bit more breathing space for the first 30k and set the target for 4:30hrs (1:20, 1:30, 1:40)... I knew I would be slowing down despite a general downhill profile for 30-40k so I planned for 1:30 for this section. For the next section heading out & back from the tunnels I gave myself about 1:00 & another 1:00 for the final big climb & finishing - 8:00 hours in total. I would remind myself to stay fresh for the first 20k... expect tiredness to kick going into 35k - and then good ol grinding as I push beyond 40k onwards.
|My Garmin recorded 2351m elevation gain & 52.5km in distance|
0-30k - Overall the first 30k was still tough-going despite a slower pace.. I wasn't going particularly fast but managed to catch up with some runners as the kilometres went by.. I was pleasantly surprised I could feel some energy surge with the Amazeballs & they seemed like a good complement to the Tailwind I was sipping (it doesn't fill my hunger pangs unfortunately)..
The technical downhills helped make up time & I thoroughly enjoyed descending fast & with confidence.. I was moving well on the muddy technical descents especially but the rocky bits were still a bit challenging - the Karrimor shoes I was wearing has been wearing thin & I would get a sharp jab every now & then from the rocks... I remember thinking HOKAs would've been perfect tackling all these blasted sharp rocks.. if only HOKAs made their shoes wider it would possibly be the perfect shoes for me.
It was great to see the lovely SCTR folks at the SCTR aid station 3 - seeing familiar friendly faces in the middle of the woods cheering you on is nothing short of golden :)
|Yuan, Erin & Gary showering wearied runners with their loving smiles|
|The views at around 18km mark, last year it was totally shrouded in mist..|
As I slowly approached 30k I was tempted to push for a sub-4 like last year but I had to remind myself to stick to the plan, the real goal is 52k! Besides, I could feel blisters were forming & I did not want to aggravate it by pounding the trails too hard.
|Blister woes.. (again)|
I started working on the blisters straight away as I arrived at 30k. The Injinji socks I was wearing were too thin for this rather technical terrain & fortunately I brought my thicker pair. I didn't rush myself as I knew I needed to get them fixed up properly or I'd never complete the run... after 8min of plasters, restocking of gel , Amazeballs & a kiss from the wife I was off!
30-40k - Heading out I got a bit confused with the directions, I asked some runners for direction but nobody seem to be sure. I slowed down & doubled-back a few times to make sure I did not take the wrong turn (I feel that pushing hard & finding out you've gone completely the wrong way is the worst possible thing to happen to runners..)
I enjoyed the short downhill from the Memorial Cross but facing the never-ending long undulations of fire trails between 30-40k was very mental for me. My legs were starting to feel the strain with every short & sharp climbs. I could feel a wall was coming & paid more attention to my nutrition intake every 20-30mins. Finally seeing the O'Briens at the 40k aid station felt like a mini achievement on its own!
|Sweet sweet trails along 30-40k..|
40-48k - Asking "where the hell are these damn tunnels??" is probably is the only thing I remember while running this stretch... I was happy a mini 2nd-wind came at around 43k & arriving at the aid station it was great to see a smiling Regan running out to greet me :).. it turned out the first tunnel was just a couple of metres down where the aid station was via a short unmarked trail..
|How beautiful is this..|
Heading into the the 2nd tunnel I was in familiar territory, Vonsy & I had done a short recce few weeks back in that area & I knew I was on the return loop coming out of the 2nd tunnel. As I made the turn back towards the 40k aid-station, the final 2k big climb had started...
48-52.5k - Waving goodbye to the O'Briens for the 2nd time, I knew I had less than an hour if I wanted to hit my target time. I must've stopped & stretched my tired quads about a hundred times as I plodded as fast as I could up to the top. At that point there was no question I would finish the run, it was just about how much I would push myself. Macedon gave me a great chance to exercise the mental fortitude lessons I learnt from Buffalo... I threw in all the positive thoughts I could think of I was almost nagging myself all the way to the finishing line!
"Everyone else is going through the same pain right now, what's the big deal? KEEP MOVING!!"
"What did you expect? OF COURSE the course is tough, that's why you signed up!! Move your ASS!!"
"It's Mothers Day, think of mom!! You CAN'T stop!!"
Seeing the Memorial Cross was such a tease. You knew you are so close now yet your legs can go no faster. You keep pushing but they are not moving, they only respond by staying in the first gear. And just when you're all numbed out, you finally pop out from the woods & onto the tar road filled with tourists visiting the Cross all looking perplexed, wondering why is there a man in running tights looking like he is running away from the Cross & about to collapse any time.. :)
But of course the final 2.5k is where it would mentally hurt the most. Almost by instinct your first thought is YES I've done it! I've conquered the mountain & the finishing line is just around the corner (& it physically is, I did nearly run direct to the finishing!).. but nooooooo... you got to loop round it for another 2.5k! And while you're quietly cursing away there's a little hill thrown in as well... the final icing on the quad-busting Macedon cake..
But alas, after 7:53 hours of sweet brutality & mountain fun - I would be finally done.
With my wife & friends cheering as I crossed the finishing line.. it was a beautiful day for a beautiful run. A happy day. Nothing beats the feeling of completing something that you know has pushed your boundaries & it's such a great feeling being able to share the experience with all the fellow exhausted runners :)
Macedon continues to impress & if you're thinking of a decent challenge for yourself or just to experience trail running in a beautiful setting - definitely sign up for 2015.. until next time folks, happy trail running!
|Finishing joys... courtesy of Yuan/Brett|
|Nutrition planning - Tailwind + Amazeballs + Gels + Snickers!|
|Dedicated to my dearest mom, Happy Mothers Day Ma!|