Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney Training Run

Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney Training

by Shona Stephenson on July 11, 2012

Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney Training Session Brooklyn to Turramurra, my parents house.

I woke up on Saturday and I knew I could not run. I had gastro. Either it was the end of the flu. Or it was my stomach reacting form the antibiotics that I was prescribed from the doctor for my tonsillitis and chest infection that the flu developed into. On Thursday my asthma was still shocking. I’ve never heard my chest gurgle so much. I was having problem breathing and I was just having ventolin just to get through the day. I went to the doctors and got my asthma and what ever sickness I had sorted out.
I called Beth, and postponed my session for an extra day. I’ve been running in Bali with gastro before. It is not training. It is torture. When you are sick in your guts and you are training it is not training. I moved my session to Sunday in the hope that my lungs would recover as well as my guts.
Now that I was all on my own for my training session ,(or so I thought) I decided that I’d call on a favor from my Dad to give me a lift to Brooklyn from their house in Turramurra. I grew up in Turramurra. Our picnics were at Bobbin Head or Apple Tree Bay near The Oxfam trail on the Great North Walk (GNW). Recently my immediate family would take our boat out wake boarding at Apple Tree Bay before my running started to take over our weekends. Whenever I enter the Kuringai National Park it always feels like I am coming home. I do love that part of Sydney.

I let Beth know that I planned on training the next day and that I was going to start at Brooklyn and End in Turramurra. Beth being Beth, jumped on the opportunity of getting a lift to the start of the event and decided to run back to her house in Berowra. She was going to cut her session with me short as she’d run just under 40km the day before.

Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney Training Sunday

My Dad dropped Beth and I at the start of Oxfam Trail, near the fire trail and we headed straight up the massive 100m climb from sea level on the fire trail. Beth was able to power walk up the ridge, but I had to run a bit as my calves were screaming at me. So I ran and walked my way to the top. I coughed, blew my nose and spat my way to up the climb. It was not until I had a rest from the gradient that I settled into a rhythm and I was able to run without gasping for air. My trachea felt blocked and I just had to wait for my body to clear what phlegm I had sitting on my chest to be able to breath deeply.
I have been put on stronger Asthma Drugs to help me get through winter, races and my day job without me wheezing. So when my lungs had warmed up and I was able to preform some diaphragm breaths I felt so much more comfortable. Before long Beth and I picked up a runner who was clearly way fitter than his team mates who he was running with. I think he jumped on the chance of running with two girls at his pace and enjoyed stretching his legs. We passed the Brooklyn Dam and continued up along the fire trail chatting amongst the group about shoes, injuries, kids and of course the dreaded Flu that everyone seemed to have.
After 9km the fire trail turned into a single man track and I lead from the front enjoying the ride. I chose to wear my Inov8 Roc Lite 268 (295 if they are the male version) for the day. I’ve had an ankle injury so I was resting my tendons in my ankle by wearing a shoe with a slight heal. My injury relates to how I have been kneeling with my clients when I am Personal Training. I have not been even on both feet and it has caused one ankle to tighten. I am massaging and stretching the tightened muscles around the ankle and it is already on it’s way to recovery. I will be wearing the Inov8 Roc Lite 285 for races (my 285’s weigh almost nothing, only 214 grams I think, I have a small size of 5.5). I wore my injinji medium crew socks, Line-breaker calf guards, 2XU elite compression shorts, Great Outdoor Runners Singlet, The North Face Visor, Berlie Tri Bra and my trusty and much loved UltrAspire Surge back pack. Again Thank you to Barefoot Inc for supporting me. I chose the Surge over the Omega for the day because I planned on running as light as possible. There is no mandatory gear list for Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney.
The trail turned technical and our little group of three all had a ball, running down the roller-coaster of a track, jumping over boulders, ducking under rocks, catching trees to keep our balance, and as soon as the first climb of bush stairs came, I invited the others to jump ahead of me to lead up the 100m vertical climb of sandstone stairs but Beth and the guy who we picked up along the way seemed happy to follow.
“Beth did you want to lead up this climb, am I going to slow?” I asked knowing that Beth is a rabbit of a climber and this is her back yard.
“Shona you will never be too slow for me”. She kindly replied.
Beth, your too nice I thought. She is the stronger runner out of the two of us. Cool, with this I was off and climbing. I felt good. I had strength. I was not 100%. But my body felt like it had enough energy in its muscles. The track soon started to descend again and we rolled down into Jerusalem Bay. Here we said our good byes to our new found running mate who I asked his name about five times and I still can’t remember what he said his name was. After some chit chat Beth and I headed off along the single man track across the creek and up the gorge towards Cowan.
We climbed up out of the gorge and crossed the footbridge ran towards the train station. Here Beth filled up with water. Beth is a total local. She knows where all the taps are around the tracks. She is a very handy running partner to have on your side.
We crossed the Pacific Highway and headed down the fire trail for the next kilometer until we crossed the turn off to Check Point 1 Cowan Fire Station.
Beth and I pushed on along the GNW and soon the trail narrowed descended steeply down steep stand-tone bush stairs to Berowra Waters. Again the local knowledge of Beth came in handy as we filled up at a previously unnoticed tap my me along the trail just past the ferry crossing. I chucked in some Sustain into my 600ml water bottle which I was carrying in my UltrAspire Surge pack.
My nutritional plan for the day was to go 50/50 Gu Roctane and Hammer. I’d never tried out Hammer Products before. I wanted to see if they were as good as Angela Bateup has said. I’d chosen the Hammer Tropical Gu with 25mg of caffeine. I weigh just over 50 kilos. I can consume 1mg of caffeine per kilo of my body so the Hammer Tropical is a great match for me. I also made rice crackers, peanut butter and honey sandwiches for when I felt hungry. My kids and my husband ate all my “Run Balls” last night so I quickly made these sandwiches up as a back up. I was going to drink Sustain mix (not the one you buy in the stores, a low cal product from the US with only 36 cal per serve in a yellow packet), and have hydralyte tablets when ever I felt a bit green.
I ate some crackers whiled I refilled my hydration water bottle. The rice crackers went down like a dream and Beth and I headed up the climb to Berowra. The track is a tough, rocky, sandstone single man track but soon enough we were at the top of the ridge and running.
We then bumped into Beth’s husband Brian running along the fire trail. He ran with us for a few kilometers, the track transformed back into a single man track of sand stone stairs and Brian then turned off and followed another fire trail. Again we were sent back down into another gorge, across another creek and back up the other side and on climbing up the gorge towards Berowra I spotted two mum’s from my kids school with their Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney Team. We chatted for some time and then wished them a safe journey and we were off and climbing. Beth mentioned earlier that I would not find Oxfam Climbs as hard as The North Face climbs. She was right. The climbs are much shorted, steeper and more often but they are over and done with soon enough. Beth and I then exited our last climb that we were going to share that day turned right onto the fire trail until we found the turn off to Mt Kuringai sign posted Crosslands. Here Beth and I had a photo taken of our newly formed “No Roads Expeditions” Team. I had a ball running with Beth. In this terrain I felt like we were a well matched training partners.
We said our good byes and I decided to avoid the 5km up to the check point CP2 at Berowra knowing that I was running an extra 5km at the end to make it back to my car parked at my parents house in the middle of Turramurra. I headed down another gorge towards Crosslands. I stayed to the left at the turn off to Crosslands and headed into the boggiest area I have ever seen. The ground was water logged. Black and muddy. I tried to passed it by heading to the right. This was a huge mistake. I almost lost my shoes in the bog. I quickly nipped across the bog to the left and avoided being stuck in the mud. I giggled to myself thinking this was just amazing place. Almost un passable mud section of the track. I have competed in Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney 2 years previous and I had never seen it so boggy.
I made it out of the bog and ran along the track onto the foot bridge that I call the “Savannah”. I stopped and took a photo of my feet. They were covered in thick black mud. I then marveled at how warm it was. It was the most beautiful day. In the valley, so close to the sea. The temperature was so mild. I’d been training in the Blue Mountains or on the South Coast and I’d been hit with strong southerly winds, so this protected trail of the GNW was just what I needed. It was what my lungs needed too.
I passed a few more walkers and I soon came across my good friend and client Mia. Mia had joined the Wild Women On Top Team (WWOT), my first Oxfam Trailwalker team in 2010. I found Mia vomiting at the base of the climb up to Mt Kuringai. This was the exact same place that she spewed a projectile vomit in my Oxfam Great Outdoor Runners Team in 2011.
“Shit Mia. This is where you vomited last year, we will have to call it vomit valley” I said. Mia looked as white as a ghost. She was wearing woolen gloves, singlet, thermals, beanie,3/4 leggings on her body. She was covered in sweat all over her back too. She must be over heated, fevered, just plain sick.
“She’s okay, she did not eat last night after our 28km training session last night so I think that is why she is sick.” Kel my old WWOT team mate said.
“Mia, this is exactly where you spewed last year! You know better than that not to eat between sessions. Are you hot? Your covered in sweat?” I asked concerned for her welfare but amazed that she is spewing at the same place again. Then straight away thinking that on another run that she spewed too. I wrote a blog about it. It is called “Dead Wombat Creek”. She drank out of the creek at the base of Mt Solitary where we found a dead wombat and started to vomit within 5 minutes of drinking the foul water. Maybe “Dead Wombat Creek” is not really dead wombat creek. Maybe she is vomiting because she has her nutritional plan all wrong. I thought this my head but did not want to say it out loud. She looked too sick to start thinking of another time she was vomiting.
I stayed with my two friends and kept Kel company while Mia vomited her way up out of the gorge towards Mt Kuringai. Mia was going really slow. Taking tiny steps. If she moved too quickly she would soon have to lean onto a tree and vomit. Kel and I chatted our way along the track caught up on what we have been doing over the past year. The trail soon widened. To prevent myself from walking to fast for Mia I decided to walk backwards up the fire trail towards the Pacific Highway.
At the top of the climb I ate some rice crackers and said my good byes to my mates. In my head I wanted to take Mia home myself and look after her. But my car was miles away and her team mates would have her home faster than me. I was now of no help.
I started to run again. My legs had stiffened from the slow walk up the gorge. I pushed on knowing that it was mostly down hill for the next few kilometers. I crossed the foot bridge, ran across the free way and turned left onto the walkway towards Apple Tree Bay, the Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney Checkpoint 3. I then turned right too early onto High Street and I knew almost instantly that I’d taken the wrong turn. I asked some local residence where I’d join the track again and ignored their advice of not going on and that was as it was a “Long Way” to Apple Tree Bay. I guess it is all relative. These locals have probably never even walked the 2km along the track that would deliver them at the Boat Ramp at the National Park. They had a kid in the car and I instantly felt sorry for him. He was missing out on so much.
I re-traced my steps and I was soon running along Harwood Street, which lead onto the Mt Kuringai Walking Track. I resisted my urge to pee, as I like peeing here (long story),Beth would say that I was just being a dog again, wanting to pee in all the same spots along the track. I followed the sandy track along the rocky ridge down the bush stairs towards Apple Tree Bay. I used the Public Toilets and refilled my water bottle at the kiosk and then pushed on knowing that I was almost home.
I turned right onto the single man track and headed up the bush stairs where I was stopped by a group of about twenty senoir walkers all dressed in khaki. We chatted about what I was wearing, what I was eating, where I’d been, where I was going. They would have chatted all day and I was stuck chatting to them too because there was a massive group of them and I was held hostage by the position on the narrow single man track. I stepped aside to let them pass. But they seemed to want to talk forever. I was then saved by a local running fast along the track named Murray.
He was flying along the trail and I decided this was exactly what I needed to get me home in a nice time. Murray was also training for Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney but was only running 10km to try out his new Brooks Cascadia’s. I’ve worn them in the past and they are a nice shoe.
Murray was the perfect running mate at just that time. He was fresh and fast. I ran along with him showing him the way. We chatted about families, gear, nutrition and shoes and he was only running to Bobbin Head to a kids party and then stopping.
At Bobbin Head we said our good byes and I headed up past the Marina. I soon caught a lady walking up the track and again she wanted to chat. I really need to get some business cards or something on me for when I meet people running I could send them to my website. I climbed another set of Bush stairs and readied myself for the 150 vertical climb up to the top of Bobbin Head Ridge.
I ate some food and noticed that I was choosing the Hammer over the Gu Roctanes. There is something in that. The Hammer just felt nice and clean. Maybe I’ve had too many Gu Roctanes in the past, but the Hammer Tropical just felt like I was drinking a nice juice. It tasted nice and natural. Not artificial. Time for a change I thought.
At the top I kicked it on and tried to make the most of the flat fire trail. I was hurting. I’d run for 45kms so far so something was going to hurt. I counted off the over head power lines and I knew that when I’d past the third I was on nice flat ground and descending. I past some more Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney walkers and was soon exiting the National Park and running along Bobbin Head Road.
I ran past the golf course and spotted a runner a kilometer ahead I could use to try and catch. I downed my last Hammer Tropical Gel from my Gel Flask ( I knew I had to be at work at 6am the next day running around with clients so I had to look after my muscles) and rolled my legs over on the foot path knowing that it was all down hill to my parents house now. I past the shops and caught the runner and powered on until I came to a stop at the traffic lights at Burns Road.
The lights finally changed and I rolled down the road and turned left onto the Chase Rd then right onto a walkway and right again onto another street I can’t remember the name of. I then turned right to head through Turramurra Park, across another road through another park and back to my parents house. I stopped my watch. I’d completed 50km in 6:15 minutes with chit chat and stops and walking slow with my mate Mia. I was happy with that, especially after my two weeks of sickness and little to no training.
The Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 Sydney Training is on Friday the 24th of August