The long version: Before we came to Australia, I looked around online to see what potential races or runs I might do while here. I came upon the Bilpin Bush Run 35k and sent some emails off to the organizers to see exactly how technical it might be. I’m not a trail runner, and on the rare occasion that I am off-road, I’m incredibly timid with my footing (read: slow). The race organizer assured me that it wasn’t too technical, but to keep in mind that the last 7k was all an ascent. Well, I should have kept in mind that I was speaking to an Australian, to whom “not technical” is very technical to me.
I had no intention of racing this–I needed to do a 20-miler for my marathon training, so this 21-miler fit nicely into the schedule. No tapering was involved–in fact I did hill repeats two days earlier (dumb mistake I learned!). We got started and within 1k I knew that for me, this run was going to be about survival. I checked competitive Amanda at the door. The first 15k was, to me, technical. It was also all up and down; no flat to be found. A pattern began to emerge–on the ascents, I ran, while everyone else walked. On the descents, they all passed me back. This worried me–did they know something I didn’t?We drove out to the race, which was in the Blue Mountains at about 3,000 ft. elevation. It was freezing up there–I could see my breath. But, I knew it was going to be a hard run, so I forced myself down to shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.
I decided that I would stop at all aid stations to give my body a break, something I never do when racing at home. My low point came quite early, around 12k into the event. I was feeling lonely, missing my running friends, and also a bit scared about what lay ahead. Everyone kept talking about how hard that last 7k was going to be. Could it possibly be tougher than the front part?
At 20k, finally, we got off the single track and hit a small stretch of road. Then began the 8k descent on fire roads. While it was really hard to descend for so long, I was happy to be off the really technical stuff. We then headed up for the final 7k. Again, tough on the legs, but easier mentally on my wimpy trail running self.
I finally hit the last aid station and knew that I only had 1k to go. Let’s put my time in perspective here–it took me 3:30 to run 35k. My last marathon, which is of course 42k-plus, took me 3:32. Yeah, this was hard. My legs feel like they DID run a marathon!
When I finished, I had the treat of hooking up with Barbie from Trying a Tri, and her lovely family. They drove over to meet us from their home more than an hour away. We spent the rest of the afternoon with them, which was so pleasant–the kids hit it off from the start and my husband and I really enjoyed getting to know Barbie and her husband. They once again showed us that Australians are some of the nicest people around. I really hope that we can return the hospitality to them if they ever come our way.
Tomorrow–time to concentrate on recovery. These old legs are hurting!