Marathon Number 44
60 km or Six decades and Sixty Years
Not sure I will be doing 70 km for 70 years, so enjoy this post.
In October last year I turned 60 and set the goal of running 60 km for my 60th year. With Covid and life I could not find the time and the motivation to do the run. Last weekend on the spur of the moment I went for a run.
On Friday night I saw some posts about the Six foot Track race which was being held the next day. I last did the race in 2005 and 2007 and no longer would be able to qualify nor finish under the cut off. I noted it was the last fine day for a number of days and I had a camp for three days and know I would not get any runs in. So, I decided to wake up naturally in the next morning and head out the door for a Virtual Six Foot Track.
My run around Sydney has two rules where each leg has to be more than 42 km and the course has to touch on the course of any of the previous courses. I naturally woke up and was on the road by 10:05 am. I was organic in my approach to this run. On the back of little much preparation and minimal gear I packed into my Salomon pack, two bottles of water and a carry bottle, two boiled potatoes and a few Nutri-grain bars, some cash and a spray jacket.
0-10 km 10:05-11:37 am
I had mapped out a course in my mind and wanting to get some easy km into my legs before the slower trails, I headed by road to Westleigh. I went past the station up the Esplanade, left into Duffy’s Road and right out along Quarter Sessions Road. This course was actually the 10 km look of my cycle course and it was a different experience running it. On one such I had a moment to pause where Cliff Young had passed me in the Westleigh half marathon in the 1990s. Although I had ridden the section hundreds of times it was the first time, I had run it I decades and the memories came flooding back.
While on this section of the run I was working through how the day could plan out. I thought I would do 10 km social media posts letting people know about the Virtual Six Foot Track run I was doing and perhaps someone might see me on the course. I was hoping my first photo would be on a nice bush trail, but it was a suburban street in Westleigh. Taking the photo also meant I would walk or stop to write, compose and send the posts, giving me a bit of a break.
10-20km 11:37 -1:25 pm
Within a km I was in the bush heading back to Pennant Hills and welcomed the coolness of the bush after the heat of the road. I crossed Zig Zag Creek and turned right to track the creek along the walking trail to Jungo Jungo. I was not on my 6km trail run course. After a 1.2 km I hit the fire trail crossed back over the creek to the northern side and started the climb into Cherrybrook. The time was passing quickly along this section of the course. I was just at peace with my own mind and the environment because I had decided to run the course with no podcasts or music.
It soon got hotter and all my clothes were soaked. I have been working on the clothes I wear because in the past with these long runs I have been wet the whole time because the clothes had not dried properly during the run. This time I had purchased and had experimented with some outdoor shorts and briefs from Wild Earth. The test would be if they would dry over time. I came out of the bush at the fire station at Cherry brook and after speaking to a hot looking mountain bike rider about my age gazing in a trance at a map I popped into the service station to buy a vanilla coke. It was a treat because I normally only buy diet products so real sugar was going to be a great, and I suspected most needed.
I had now broken my running into walking the hills and jogging the downhill and flat sections along the roads to Purchase Road Cherrybrook as it made its way to New Line Road. I knew I was coming up to the first real steep climb while I was in the run walk mode. As I headed down the hill, I could hear a siren behind me, and the traffic was backed up in both directions and I wondered how the ambulance was going to get through. I started to give the drivers on both side of the road the sign to move over as I suspected they could not hear the approaching sirens.
As I was cresting the hill Ian called me to see how I was going. He joined me o the manly run a few years ago. We finished up the call and I had the trickiest part of the course from a traffic perspective. The downhill to the Hastings Road turn corner had no foot path and I had to run into the oncoming traffic with very little verge. Right at the lights was 20 km and I stood on the medium strip and too the 20km selfie.
20-30 km 1:25- 3:12 pm
The bush track adjacent to the road up the hill to the McDonalds Dural was rough and overgrown and not easy to post while on the move. Also, it was hot and found the hill hard, so I welcomed the break to get the social media posts organised while I sat on a rock. I only had a km to go to the service station where I was going to have a feed.
At the service station opposite Quarry Road, my next leg, I purchased a sandwich and a 1.25 litre coke and smiled when he tried to upsell me three for $8 – it was good deal but not practical for the run. I collapsed with my back to the gas bottle as I could not find any grass sitting looking at Quarry road and planning how I would approach it. The sandwiches seemed a bit too much but thought I needed to food to keep going. After transferring the coke to smaller bottles, while having a cup of tea, I was soon on way. As I set off, I was going to be out here for 7- 8 hours for 45 km, which is the Six foot Track distance, I was contemplating doing the whole 60 km which I had planned to do in October 2020.
Any way that would sort itself out I thought to myself – one step at a time I headed out. Now I changed the way I was approaching my running. Given I now had undulations and downhill I settled into my Day 2 training routine of running 400m of each km and walking the next 600m. for about 4 km I ran past Pacific Hills Christian School on the left, the Dural Tennis Courts on the right and a couple on trail bikes trying to do wheelies on the road.
I was now on what I thought would be familiar territory – the Quarry Road trail where I had done a lot of training for my Six Foot Track races in 2005 and 2007. It looked different now. There were gates blocking the traditional path and a more formalised track at the Trig Station by-passing the rifle range.
I hit 30 km on the Dural side before the decent into Berowra River Valley in about two hours and was immediately daunted at the time of 5 hours and another more than 5 hours to get to 60km.
30-40 km 3:12- 5:41pm
I pushed the thoughts to the back of my mind and trotted briefly down the hill , stopped and sat on a stump to do my 30 km social media post and eat one of the cooked potatoes. I took a moment to observe a fast runner on the course thinking about the days when I could run like that. With the social media post done, and in an attempt to make up time, I ran all the way to the river because I knew I would not be able to run the uphill on the other side.
I closed my eyes for I reached the top exhausted but was looking forward to the grass at the end of the trail to lie down on. Since last hear the house on the right had taken off the tap so I could not get any water. After a while enjoying the soft grass and warmth of the sun and be stirred by a mountain biker touching the gate for his out and back ride. We chatted for a while as we both rested and soon, we were both on our way.
At this stage it was too early to head back towards to Pennant Hills if I was going to go get to 60 km. I had thought I could go through Bobbin Head and around but was not sure how much sunlight I needed to do this. So, I decided to run towards Turramurra via Hornsby and Edgeworth David Drive where I looked at the houses opposite Waitara Oval wondering which of the houses, I was passing on the left was the family home of a friend of mine. I got up the hill near the shops and that friend Graeme actually called me to see where I was. He was on a run and checking in if I was in his area.
I soon reached the shops on Eastern Road Turramurra at 40 km and was able to combine at the same time an ice coffee, banana and the 40 km social media post. I was still 5 km from the end of the Virtual Six Foot Track and had passed the cut off tine in this section of the course. In the real race I would have been pulled off the course – at least now I could keep running.
40-50km 5:41-7:35 pm
This section was to be mainly uphill and I did not feel running along the Pacific Highway. It was more peaceful for me to track along the back streets reaching the marathon as I crossed the railway between Turramurra and Warrawee. If each km section had hills at the beginning, I noted the distance and made up the 400 m running per km in other sections of the km.
Now and then as I got tired, and needed a seat, I gave up on the run for that km and started again at the next km. After a small section of running along the Pacific Highway I headed down Fox Valley Road, turning right at the SAN Hospital to go through the bush coming out on Pennant Hills road Normanhurst. I had to sit on a stump again as I climbed out of the creek.
I knew that when I was at Penno Road I was 4 km from home but 14 km from 60km. Psychologically, I did not want to get to Pennant Hills too early. In decided to turn right and run back towards Hornsby. Now for the first time I felt like I was struggling: the balls of my feet were hurting more than usually; I wanted a cuppa as I passed McDonalds but did not have the energy to stop and start and my stomach was playing up – maybe the iced coffee. Strange because I thought three hours earlier the sandwich would be causing me grief.
Between Hornsby and Normanhurst, I made 50km just as it was getting dark. As I did the social media post – I was getting faster as I fatigued more – I noted I was 6 km from home and needed a 4 km detour without crossing over any of the course form 10 hours earlier.
50-60km 7:45- 9:26pm
As I reached Normanhurst Station my plan was to run along the railway line along Penno Road and then through to West Pennant Hills and back to Penno for 60 km. Passing Penno Station and coming back was doing my head in. I realised I could cross over the railway line doing the rat run to Duffy’s Road then back to Penno Road added another km. Once on Duffy Road I knew it was flat and downhill for the next km and I ran a 7 minute km past McDonalds at Thornleigh.
The next km took me to the Toyota dealership and managed 1 400m run non the downhill section. At this stage I knew I had to do a loop to get to 60 km. I went down Boundary road, Bellamy Street, Stevens Street past the station and up Trebor to Weemala, my street, and passed my house at 59 km. By now I was worried my watch and phone would runout of battery and I was making mental notes of km markers in case I had to run a bit extra to assure I passed 60 km if my devices ran out of battery.
I did a loop and a half of a small block in front of my house and walked into the front years and home exhausted.
It hurt the pad of my left foot metatarsal area of my foot pretty much from the beginning, but this is something I have been contending with for a while now.
It flared up after 6 weeks of barefoot beach running. I actually found it easier to run slowly than walk but in the hills. I just had to walk because understandably the hills were pushing my heart rate too high.
Other than that, I had no stiffness or soreness at all. My weight when I finished was 76 kg down from my normal 78kg.
I remembered at about 47 km I had not been to the toilet at all. I forced myself to go just to be sure I could but did not need to go. There were signs of some dehydration in my urine colour, but I judged it was nothing to worry about. Actually, it was nice being able to run without worry about where I had to find a toilet. I had kept the fluids up all day with plenty of water and 2 litres of coke.
This is the first time I did not take any salt tablets and except for a brief moment near 30 km I never felt like I would throw up which had happened a few ties on these runs in the past.
In relation to food, I think the two potatoes with some salt hit the spot. I had been reading in in ultra-running books that fat burning id the key but a little bit of carbo on the run accelerates the fat urning and it would be fair to say I did not feel week on energy. There was a small period of time when I felt like a sleep at around 10 km and it was after I had a Nutri-grain bar – it was like a post sugar sleep. So, I made a mental note of this effect.
I really was quite exhausted immediately after the run. When I spoke, I could not get words out. It was like I had been at a #parraeels game and cheered for 8 minutes, however, it was almost 12 hours of speaking to no ne and it was the first time I was required to speak. Jenny had gone to the shop to buy me some food, but I could not eat anything. After a swim I went the bed with the fan blasting as I was very hot. After about an hour jenny went to bed I got up and I had some yogurt, ice cream a schooner of diet coke and a piece of chicken.
I spent Sunday on the lounge just slowing reloading with food I felt like. I was conscious I was going on a three day camp on the south coast and I wanted to make sure I was not ravenous on the camp and walks.
That’s a wrap for marathon distance Number 44
Pace per km:
6 km in the 7 minute km range
5 km in the 8 minute km range
20 km on the 9 minute per km range
12 km in the 10 minutes per km range
11 km between 11-15 minutes per km range
3 km in the 16-20 km per min range – must have had three stumps to sit on.
3 km in the 22-24 minutes per km range – some food longer than usual social media posts and a lie down.
Average Pace 9.56 minutes per km
Average speed 6 km per hour
Moving time: 9:55:50
Average Heart Rate: 131 bpm
Cadence: 110 steps per minute
Stride length: 0.85 m
Elevation gain 2049 m – Six Foot Track is about 1500m
Average temperature 31 degrees
Heart Rate Zones
Zone 5 >167bpm
Zone 4 150-167 bpm
Zone 3 131-149 bpm
Zone 2 112-130 bpm
Zone 1 94 -111bpm