Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012
It was a big ask to back up for Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012 only one week after Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012. I would not normally enter a race so soon after an Ultra. My sponsors Barefoot Inc with Inov8 shoes were the featured sponsors for the event so I felt compelled to show my support for the brand. Last year I had an extra week to recover and relish my energy stores, so I was not sure how my body was going to react. I am the current female record holder for the course and last years winner with a time of 2 Hours 57 minutes. I had to give it a go. You just never know how you are going to feel.
Mikey, my husband knows how well I’m going to run before the event better than I do. When I was figuring out my splits the morning of the Coastal Classic 2012 in the car on the way to Otford, Mikey insisted a personal best and breaking the record by 2 minutes was not enough. He suggested a 7 minute personal best just to keep me honest. Fine. I thought. I have not had a good PB since TNF100 (50 minute PB and City2Surf 80 second PB) so I would have loved a 7 minute personal best over 29ks. But was it possible so soon after Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney?
It was to be the start of a weird and wonderful day. At the start of the event my mate Brendan Davies approached me an offered to run with me as my pacer.
“How fast do you want to run it?” Brendan asked.
“A 2 minute PB should be enough to win I think……I did Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney last week. I feel good, better than last year, I’m not injured so I should be in for a good run”. I replied. He thought I was not going to run so well, I could tell and showed concern, and wanted me to race safe.
I warmed up by dodging my kids as they chased me around the start line and readied myself for the start of Coastal Classic 2012. I was allowed in the first wave of runners. After Vlad, Matty, Scott took off at 5 second intervals Brendan and I started the Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012. I waved to Mikey and the kids and enjoyed the ride down the first hill. Brendan and I hit the first climb and he soon showed his strength and pulled away from me, chasing down the leading guys. I smiled knowing that Brendan would have problems running slowly to pace me.
I ran up the climb and acknowledged that it really did not hurt as much as last year, I crossed the road and hit the first of many bush stairs for the day. I waved at Lyndon the photographer perched high on the cliff and I dodged the grassy tuffs and entered the single man track. I conserved myself on the climb, chilled out and waited for the terrain to turn to my favour. I moved over to the left and let the guys were running faster than me pass and worked my way to the top of the climb. Marc, Damian, James all flew past.
The terrain turned to my favour and I stretched my legs and rolled down the wide fire trail.
The track soon narrowed and my speed became faster. I caught the guys in front of me and I was soon calling ahead.
“Hi Guys, first female coming through”,I warned ahead of me and I tried to control my kamikaze descent. I managed to pick the boys off one by one through this ruggered and technical single man track. This is my strength, fast, down hill, dangerous, tight and technical single man track. This is where I had to push to win Coastal Classic 2012.
The guys were all amazing. The all move to the left as I called out to them I soon hit the bush stairs on the climb. I pulled over to the left and waved the boys all through as worked my way to the top.
Coastal Classic 2012 is so technical. The most agile runner will win running through this shoulder deep, clay track which has been made by walkers over hundreds of years. I then rolled down the other side of the grassy hill and caught up with Brendan.
“Ah here you are”, He said. “My hamstring is buggered and I can’t run fast down the hills”.
“Hey Brendan”, Was all I could say at that stage. I had to push fast through this area to get my lead on the other females who were at unknown distances behind.
“I’m just going to keep this pace for the rest of the way, I’ve already been lost about 3 times”. He said to me.
Brendan and another guy were running down the hill in front of me and I was busting to get past. I felt a bit rude asking Brendan to move aside. It just felt so wrong.
“Come on guys run faster.” I urged. “Go, go, go”. I encouraged.
Eventually I had to jump ahead of Brendan , I was too busy worrying about who I was passing, and feeling so bad for him knowing that I should not be able to pass him because he is such an amazing runner, I really felt for him, he must be bloody injured if I could catch him. With all these thoughts going through my head I forgot to warn him when I jumped ahead of him while racing down a technical single man track. In doing so I caught a massive branch and twisted between my shins and it rotated around and caught Brendan on the leg. Oh no now you’ve done it.
“Track etiquette Shona”. Brendan called out to me.
“I’m so sorry Brendan, I did not mean to hurt you.” I sheepishly replied. Point taken.
He caught me on the next climb and just like he said he would he wanted to pace me. Brendan then put his hand in my back just like I do sometimes with Personal Training Clients and said “Come on push up this hill”.
I felt his hand in my back and the burn in my legs and self doubt entered my mind. I had no idea how much glycogen I had stored in my muscles after last weeks Oxfam TW 100km so I decided to take it easy up the climbs and stay under my an-aerobic threshold.
“Nah Brendan, I did Oxfam last week and I don’t know what I have in me”. I explained. I felt like I’d behaved worse than one of my most unfit Personal Training Clients. Could I have pushed up that climb? I don’t know, probably yes but I just did not want to. I took the safe easy option.
Brendan took off up the climb. He could run up the hills without pain so he had to run his own race. My race plan was the total opposite to his. Attack the descents and conserve energy on the climbs.
I passed a few guys on the descent and they caught me on the next climb. When I came to the bush stairs at Little Garie Beach, I took my time and re-arranged my water bottles, looked after my hydration and conserved my energy. My running mate Marc caught me on the climb and we chatted for a while before I moved aside to let him pass.
On the next descent I passed him on the sandy bush stairs. I looked up and spotted Garie Beach and I knew I was almost through the toughest section of the track. Cool almost there. I looked back for another female running down into Little garie Beach but I could not see any.
I ran past the head land at the south end of Garie Beach and chose to run past the drink station. I carried 1L of water on me from the start. It’s about how much I usually carry. I still had 600ml left so I did not need to stop.
I ran along Garie Beach trying to pick the firmest part of the sand to again conserve energy. This technique allowed me to pass a few guys running in the soft sand and I started to enjoy myself knowing that I had put in some nice fast descents so I should have a bit of a lead over the next female.
I exited the beach and started the climb at the north end of Garie Beach. Again it was tough bush stairs, but they just did not seem to hurt me as much as last year. I looked at my splits, and I think I was running on time. Amongst my splits I wrote the words “Legend” because I’d be a bloody legend if I could back up after the win at Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney and win this also. I also wrote “Heart of a Champion” on my right hand. It’s from my favourite movie Secretariat and I just like to remind myself that I needed to start to run fast. Come on the next female is trying to get you run faster I said to myself ignoring the pain.
Climbing up the Garie Beach headland my quads and calves were burning but for once I did not have asthma. I felt really good. Still fresh. Again I looked back to check on the next female along Garie Beach from my view at the top of the headland but I could not see any.
I pushed up the climb and knuckled in for the next few kilometers along the sand stone single-man track. Come on the females are chasing you. Run faster.
I heard someone running behind me.
“Hey, I’ve caught you again, I’ve been lost about three times and I was in free fall off a cliff for about 3 meters and I almost came to a messy end. I’m so lucky” Brendan said.” I was falling and I just did not know when the fall was going to stop”.
“Hey Brendan, far out man, run with me I won’t get lost”. I said noticing his right leg covered in blood. We pushed on together chatting for some time. I really felt for him. I felt obliged to chat to him and take his mind off the crappy race he was having. Every descent was giving him so much pain.
We ran into Watamala and again I went straight through the aid station, I still had enough water on me for the next hour so I pushed on. I crossed the creek and waved to my awesome sponsors from Barefoot Inc Sally and Anastasia, feeling great and happy to jump across the rocky creek. The water level was much lower than last year and it made for an easy creek crossing
Brendan soon caught me on the next climb and after about 8ks of chit chat and yo-yo racing of me flying away from Brendan on the descents and him passing me on the climbs Brendan noticed that I was not working hard enough. I did actually find it a bit distracting running with Brendan. We are great mates and I like to chit chat.
“Shona, your doing this at conversation pace” He said slightly concerned worried that I may lose my lead.
“Should we run faster? Where is the next female?”I asked starting to worry too.
“You have it in the bag”, Brendan replied “Just do what you have to do to win”.
Cool, we both knew that I had a massive race the week before and I just wanted to get through this on without an injury.
We ticked on together and found another runner who was forced to walk due to dehydration and or over heating with out any water. We both offered him some water. I probably had the most fluid on me but blokes hate accepting water from females, I even had a spare water bottle he could use for the rest of the Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012 which I offered to him also. He refused assistance from me and he accepted water from Brendan. Men. Hmmmmm.
We kicked it on and I started to smile. I’d caught my good friend Damian. Last year I caught him 800m from the finish and I refused to pass him and we ran across the line together. This year I caught him at the 20km mark.
“Damian, I’m going to catch yooooooou”. I yelled ahead of me. Too funny. We ran across the cliffs and I spotted the metal poles drilled into the sandstone cliff top and followed these trail markers until we hit a single man track. I felt great. My hamstrings were just amazing they were carrying me up every climb and I felt like everything was just so easy.
We ran together in a threesome for a while and Brendan jumped ahead when we reached the turn off to Marlie Beach.
My heart felt like we should turn to the right, but Brendan turned left and followed the Coastal Classic 2012 signs and we started to run up the wide fire trail. We ran about 10m and then Brendan turned around.
“That’s not right”. He said.
“Yeah, we should have gone to the right to the beach”. I agreed. I was so lucky that he realized his mistake. It’s easy to put your head down and blindly trust the person running ahead of you. I’m also not one who will run up a hill for no reason. I was glad to turn around and run back down the hill. We looked at the signs.
“That’s wrong”. We all agreed and we tried to fix it. I pulled the “X” off the brush and threw it on the ground facing down, hoping that would help stop other runners from getting lost. I thought Damian switched the “arrow” around, but we were racing, and I’m not sure if that happened…..It may have been too hard to remove…….
We continued on towards Marlie Beach and Brendan suddenly found his legs. I think he realized that some of the leading guys may have been lead up the wrong trail. After about a minute of running we were bombarded by a group of about 10 guys all looking extremely hot and bothered and frustrated, Marc, Matty, Scott were amongst them.
“We’ve been lead up the wrong track for so long”. They all said. “The signs were wrong”. They all muttered. The poor blokes looked knackered, overheated and bewildered. I felt for them. I must say it made me feel all the fresher. I was really having a nice run, I was smart and bloody lucky that I did not get lost. I knew the track and I was not pushing myself so hard and I was so lucky I did not make a mistake.
We ran along Marlie Beach and I marveled that they all wanted to run in the soft sand rather than get their feet wet on the energy saving wet, hard sand. The look of horror flashed across some of their faces when they all realized that there was a chance of them getting “Chicked” today. They were all going to have to work their butts off get past me again.
We pushed on along the sand and they exited Marlie Beach and we ran up the bush stairs. I felt good. I checked my splits and I was so surprised that I was hitting Mikey’s estimation splits. Excellent. Too easy.
I kicked it on up the climb and across the final cliffs of the day. I was then greeted by James. He must have disappeared up the track further than the other guys.
“I’m so happy I’ve caught you”. He said not wanting to get chicked.
“Hey, you poor bugger, you went the wrong way, not long now”. I replied as he past me.
A few minutes latter I was caught by Vlad. He must have journey way further up the trail, being possibly in first position.
“Hey Shona, how are you doing?” Vlad said.
“I’m good, just chilling, Oxfam last weekend. You went up the wrong trail?” I asked a bit concerned. Vlad has come first in the Footpoint Trail series race 1, Woodford2Glenbrook, one of those crazy mud runner’s , Pub 2 Pub, and 20th in the City2Surf. They are the races that I know about. He would have been up for a podium finish in the Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012 for sure. He is fairly new to trail running and he would have been on his own and the most lost, and lost for the longest, so he had to run the longest way back and catching me 3ks after the junction. I really did feel for him and he is a nice guy.
“Yeah, I’m just running to finish now”. He matter of factly replied as we took off up the trail and he soon disappeared ahead of me.
I ran out onto the road and readied myself for the 3.8ks of sand running. I caught a few guys and a few guys caught me as I pushed along the long rolling dunes. I chose to run along the side of the dunes looking for the firmest sand to run along. There was a guy ahead of me that I was using as a pacer. I just wanted to run him down.
We exited the dunes and ran along Jibberon Beach and I tucked in behind him using him as a wind break. He was wearing earphones and had no idea he was about to be chicked. He exited the beach and he noticed my presence and he kicked it on along the road. I tried my hardest to stay with him but he was just too strong. I looked at my watch and I was stoked that I was running into a massive PB in the Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012.
I spotted Mikey taking photos, and I started to smile. I’ve done it. I’ve kept everyone happy. I’m adding another race win and improving the course record for the Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012 for the females.
I turned right at the Bundeena RSL, and started to celebrate. I crossed the line first female with a personal best of 8 minutes with a time of 2 hours 49 minutes. I could not be happier. I raced smart. Conserved my energy, finished not injured and ready to race the Surf Coast Century in 3 weeks time.
I spotted Brendan.
“How did you go?” I asked. Poor Brendan looked a bit guilty.”Who won, did you win?”
“I did, but I don’t deserve it”. Brendan replied. He felt so bad for winning and really did not feel that he deserved the win. I guess that is trail running through and through. It’s not just about running, it is also about navigation. Brendan was lost well before the Marlie Beach sign. He had is fair share of trail trauma, with his cliff free fall. You do need a bit a luck with trail racing. A huge meeting was taking place with the race organizers and the unhappy lead guys. But in the end what could the organizers done to prevent the guys getting lost? Maybe a few more volunteers at key positions along the trail would have helped.
Coastal Classic 2012 in an amazing race, and the post race atmosphere is really chilled out and friendly. We all hung around on the grass shared a beer and cheered, caught up with friends and watched all out mates as they crossed the line. It was not until the presentation that we all realized that Brendan in fact was not the race winner, Matt Webster finished in 2 hours 35 minutes beating Brendan by 3 minutes on the count back with the wave starts.
We hung around for the lucky door prize for my mates to possibly win a pair of Inov8 Shoes. For my first place win I won a pair of trail shoes (Thank you Barefoot Inc) which I will give to my husband Mikey. I like to give Mikey my race prizes. I nice to repay him for all the support he gives me. We have two amazing children and he is always so helpful with allowing me to train and race while he minds the kids. Now he can come and train on the trails with me……He is suppose to enter the Coast to Coast in New Zealand 2013…….