The Whole Truth
"There is magic in patience, you know." Zedd.
The Sword of Truth, Terry Goodkind.
My 2017 running goal, set at the end of last year, was to complete the PTS Bloated Goat trail event.
On March 26th, after 18 weeks of training, I did just that.
I wasn’t fast - taking just under 5 hours to finish the 30km, 1400m vert course - but, I didn’t die either.
And I loved it! The challenge, the solitude; me against the hills, me against the distance, me against me.
To cap it all off, Melina Mellino surprised me with a gift - a lamb that turns into a pillow.
I must have looked like I needed a rest.
With ‘the goat’ complete, I pondered, what next?
The answer came, naturally, in the form of another animal. The Wild Goose.
With my longest ever run being the above mentioned 30k event, I figured how hard could it be to just tack on another fifty percent or so, and finish my first ultramarathon. And with the same elevation as Bloated Goat, spread out over a longer duration, surely it would feel easier.
Of course, I was wrong.
But, I completed the Wild Goose 45km event, crossing the finish line with 47km on my GPS watch.
No, I hadn’t gotten lost.
I’d just completed my first USWA run and found out that Shaun Kaesler likes to under-promise and over-deliver when it comes to pain and suffering at his events.
If you are not into running long distance this probably sounds a bit much?
Not to me.
In fact, I was having so much fun that I signed up for three more ultramarathons -
Yaberu, a flattish 50km run in the beautiful northern bushlands of Perth;
Truth or Consequences, a gruelling 50km, high elevation gain event in Jarrahdale and Serpentine including two climbs of the ironically named, ‘Three Steps’;
Feral Pig, also 50km, which would be run for the first time on the amazing Bibb track where I have done so much training with my mate, Ian Dunican.
There were 8 weeks between ‘Goat’ and ‘Goose’. It was 5 weeks between ‘Goose’ and ‘Yaberu’ and another 5 more weeks till ‘Truth’. It seemed reasonable at the time and ‘Feral’ at least would be a little later, giving me a chance to rest.
You might guess where this is going.
Perhaps you can spot my ‘small error of judgement’, my ‘rookie mistake’.
Looking back it seems pretty damn obvious. My idea of reasonable was just a little skewed.
Despite being sick for the week prior to Yaberu, I made the start line. And the run felt good. Even Shaun's bonus 3km didn’t bother me because, this time, I expected them.
But, after that, the wheels started coming off.
Two weeks after the ultra, I headed out to a very hilly PTS 21km event called Jolly Jumbuck. It was brand new, so I simply had to go and for about half an hour it was a good idea. The first few kilometres were okay but after the second time going up ‘the hill’, my left ankle really started hurting.
And it didn’t stop hurting for about six weeks, when I finally stopped denying I had a problem.
In those six weeks, I continued on - not quite reckless but still running. With my ‘rookie’ naivety assuring me it would all come good soon.
I downgraded to the 25km half Truth, ran City to Surf, and continued training in the hills.
And it was at a run in the Lesmurdie hills when I finally acknowledged I better do something about the ankle.
On 1st September, I went out for my ‘last’ run, then went home, booked into see a physio and cancelled the next three months of events. Including, sadly, the Feral Pig.
Two and a half months later, having listened to Brad Hart’s advice - he’s a long distance runner and a physio, so I trust him - I am finally getting back on the trails.
I’m taking it easy and building up slowly. I’m way less fit than I was this time last year but I do have two significant pieces of knowledge now that I didn’t have before.
My limits are well beyond where I think they are; if I work hard and train smart I can reach out to them.
Be patient, don’t be stupid; there are plenty of great events to do, you don’t have to do all of them at once.
And next year?
Well, firstly, there’s a 50km event called Truth or Consequences that needs my name on the finishers list.
After that, who knows? Maybe I will go looking for a Feral Pig.