Monday, 21 May 2012

My best yet???

Well, Sunday the 20th of May, 2012 may have seen my best ultra yet, the 50mile (81km) Cooks Tour at the Glasshouse Mountains.  But I wasn't so sure it was going to be that way?!

Cooks Tour 50miler in Yellow
During the lead up to the race, as most of you would know, I have been still doing my barefoot running along with my now usual sandal running.  Due to this fact there have been a few minor hiccups and issues to deal with and over all I felt like I was going into the race a little underdone.  I have been running some quick times in training (for me anyway) but at the same time would like to have done a few more longer runs.  This was the first run I would be going to where I was on my own too.  No dad, and all my other usual mates were away at The North Face, so just me!  So it was with a little anticipation that I was going into the race and was actually a little nervous.  This event would also see the longest run I have done in my sandals, so it was a bit of new ground!

The race was to officially start at 4am with a 10hour cut off.  Now that mightn't sound that quick to some of you for that distance, but if any of you have ever done any trail running events, you would understand that that is no-mucking-around timeframe!  There was also a early start option of 1am.  I umed and ahhed and eventually decided I didn't want to be looking at my watch the whole race so I would do the early start.  If I came in under 10hours, so be it.

The night of the race we were to stay at the Woodford Hotel which is close to the start line.  This was so Tegan and Pria wouldn't have to be roaming around the bush at all hours of the night and could just come and meet up with me when they woke up.  We had a awesome dinner at the pub and then went to the room for an early night as I had to wake up at midnight.  Soooo...we were not told, but that night the pub decided to do karaoke from about 7:45pm-Midnight...and it was I have been in a hardcore band in the past for a number of years and been to a number of shows during my time, but this bloody karaoke was LOUD!!!  I hated karaoke before but now if anyone mentions it to me I may kill them!!!  So, no sleep for me...a good start when your about to run for about 10hours!

Anyway, after the ruckus, I got ready and headed to the start line.  We got a short briefing and I quietly looked for someone that I might be able to run with.  As we started (love ultra starts, mill around in a group like browns cows and the organizer says, 'Everyone ready?' then he quietly says 'Go'!  No dramatic, nervous build up (like cough cough road runs cough cough), just a simple beginning to another adventure) I looked for someone about my pace.  A few of us had a joke and after about a k, I fell in with a fella.  We were running the same pace and hit it off straight away.  I found out his name was Daniel and conversation ensued.  I found out he was in the same boat as me with not being sure about the 4am start and was aiming for about the same finish time.  I also learnt that he hadn't done an ultra past 50k, so we would see how things panned out.

We started the race with a 30km loop.  The first 20 odd k was pretty uneventful.  Just chatting with Daniel and enjoying the beautiful array of stars on an amazingly clear morning.  We had a on-going joke through the run that we were the leaders, which we were...mainly because we had a 3hour head start on the fast blokes!  Never-the-less, we were still the leaders!)  We got through some pretty rough trail (I only kicked one stick which hurt a bit) and then, true to form, I stacked it on a relatively flat fire trail!  I thought I had really hurt my foot but after a bit it was ok, just some skin off my knee and sand everywhere.

We arrived back at the Woodford Pool (start/mid way point/finish line) in about 3hours 16min.  We were both very happy with that having done the 30k loop in that time in the dark.  We had a quick pit stop and re-fuel and we were off again.

Huaraches dominate with Powerlines trail in the background
Again, we continued to trott along and things were going great.  We continued through the race eating and drinking to plan and there was no drama (apart from some serious farting sounds that continued through the whole race!  Lucky no one was too close to us during the race!)  As the sun came up things got a little cooler  but was still lovely weather for running.  After a turn around at Checkpoint 6 we hit the infamous powerlines.  They are FUN!  Quite hilly with some very chopped up four wheel drive tracks.  It was here that we met another ultra character Jeff.  He runs a Pod Cast and was a great fella to chat with.  During our chat, we found out he was aiming to do a minimum of a marathon a month for a year, this was his number five.  I like his idea, might jump on that bad boy soon enough!  After a couple of k's, we left Jeff and completed the Powerlines.  Daniel and I got a couple of photos at the top of the climb (you can see the trail in the background along with Mt Beerwah) and continued along our journey.  Things continued to go well and I was now looking forward to seeing Tegan and Pria just before checkpoint 6.  We were a half hour early from what I told them, so I was just lucky that Tegs was early other wise they would have missed us!

After a quick G'day and a few kisses(from Tegan and Pria!), we continued on.  At this point, we had to do a 11kish loop from Checkpoint 8 and also a 6ish k loop as well.  During these loops, Daniel and I started to feel the pinch a little as there were some decent climbs...a few hands and feet stuff.  These were a bit tough, but we trudged on and things were still going to plan.  We arrived back at Checkpoint 8 and everything was going to schedule... apart from having seven missed calls from Dad, stressing what was going on and where I was!  I had left my pack at 8 so didn't have contact.  After chatting with him and re-assuring him all was ok, we were on the homeward stretch!  A quick 'I love you' to Tegs and Pria again and we were off.

At this point, even though we were getting a bit tired, our pace remained constant and might have even increased!  There were alot of runners around at this time from the 50k and 30k race so we encouraged them which also kept our spirits up.  I think Daniel was starting to tire a bit but to his credit, he soldiered on like a champ!

We lapped up the last 10 odd k and before long we were back at the Woodford Swimming Pool with a time of 9hours 43minutes, coming in in 9/10th in the 80k event!  We were both overwhelmed at how well the race went and then went about celebrating with our families, a swim and some good food.

My new mate Daniel
I just want to thank my new mate Daniel for his constant support and company during the event.  Over the time of 10hours together you get to know a fair bit about a bloke and his family and it was an absolute pleasure to chat with such a top fella.  During our run we discussed how we gently pushed each other during tough spots and how mentally having a mate to run with made the experience that much more enjoyable!  We both agreed that if we wouldn't have stuck together for the duration, we may not have gone under that magic 10hour mark.  I know now that I have a mate I will keep in touch with and meet up with at runs and continue to get to know.  Daniel mate, thanks again, you are a true champ and a gentleman and you did a ripper job!  For your first race of that distance...AMAZING!  Oh, and as I said...tell your lovely wife that I take no responsibility for any tattoos or barefoot antics in the future!

So in the wrap up, what an event!  I was very happy with how it all went and it has given me alot of confidence for the 100miler in September!  My feet have pulled up sore, but not too bad considering.  I hope to start some light running tomorrow (Wednesday) and then full training again on Monday.  My legs are not that tired and everything else is stella.  I again put this down to my change in running gaite and my glorious sandals!  They were super and I am sticking with them 100%!  Luna all the way!

So friends, keep smiling and running your little hearts out!  I will be back into the full swing of things next week and I hope this might have encouraged some of you to join me on the Flinders Tour in July or even an event in September!  I am still hoping to do my first barefoot marathon at the Gold Coast in July but we'll see how we go!  If your keen for a run, give me a hoy!

Rip in friends, I love you all, Run Free, love each other, smile, do a cartwheel, live life like a child and take care of each other!  Until next time...RUN ON!  

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Great White Horse

Gday crew!  Hope this finds you all well and ripping in training for...somethin!

This blog has been on my mind for some time now and I think it is important that I write it, for me anyway! 

Let me start by saying that if you haven't read the book 'Born to Run' by Christopher McDougall, do yourself a favor and borrow, buy, steal it (OK, I am not endorsing crime here people, I'm just sayin!) and read it!  It is a little slow at the start but once you get into it, it is a compelling and very well written book!  McDougall is an amazing writer and even if you are not a runner, I guarantee you will enjoy it.  I don't guarantee much so that is telling you something!  It was this book that initiated my journey to minimal/barefoot/sandal running.  One of the main characters, Barefoot Ted is the creator of Luna Sandals (who's namesake is also based on a key character Manuel Luna).  Apart from work, Luna Sandals and barefoot is my sole footwear.  Excuse the pun!  This is a story for another time however!

So as you can see, my day to day life has esentially been affected by this book.  This is not the reason for this blog however.

Micah True, aka, 'Caballo Blanco', aka, The White Horse is the reason for this blog.  True was a pivotal character in the Born to Run book and a real mad man!  He had a beautiful and free spirit which was incredibly contagious to all who came into contact with him, so I'm told.  True knew his adapted homeland of Mexico like the back of his hand as he ran countless k's in the canyon and spent all his time traveling in the area, assisting the indigenous Mexican people, otherwise known as the Tarahumara Indians.  True would try his hardest to assist this very shy group of people by getting them food, blankets, supplies, and probably what he is now most known for, organizing the Caballo Blanco Ultra Marathon in Copper Canyon Mexico where the Tarahumara would race some of the best elite ultra marathoners in the world.  Prizes would be cash and a vast quantity of corn which is a stable for the Indian people.  Caballo, from ALL accounts, was a 'crazy gringo', but one who essentially gave up his 'normal' life to help others.  True touched so many lives and inspired so many people to run free and keep things simple.

On March 27th, 2012, Caballo went out for a run as he usually would in Mexico.  Sadly however, after four days of searching by volunteers, including some of the best American ultra marathon runners of all times and even McDougall himself, True's body was found lifeless near a stream.  I have read many blogs and tributes to True, all reflecting the contagious, crazy, free man that he was.

I don't know why, but Micah's death has really affected me.  I never met him and have only read about him.  His life and character however is one that you really take to heart and can relate to, well I can anyway!  I have read a lot about him since him dying and watched a number of clips on YouTube with sadness.  It has been strange to me, feeling this way about someone that I have never even been in the same country as, but it is what it is.  It feels like I have lost a friend...

It has also prompted me to think about people that are close to us and people that we love.  We never know when might be the last time that we see them.  Life is so precious and something that we need to grab a hold of and share together with joy.  We need to cherish our loved ones and tell them often how we feel.  Life is too short to NOT live that way.  So much of what we argue about and complain about in life is so stupid and un-important.  We need to toss this garbage aside and move forward together, enjoying the time we have.  Love is the key people and we need to keep that at the center of all that we are, otherwise what is the point!?

'Run easy, light, smoooooth, happy...and run free!'  Was something that Micah was heard laughing just before he passed away.  For those of us who run and can appreciate the link between its simple movement and life will know how well the attitude from this quote can be used in every day life to stop worrying, live life to the full, easy of burdens and enjoying every moment!

I know that my little blog is only a drop in the ocean in the big scheme of things but for what its worth, the world will miss you White Horse...if we all had an life like yours, the world would be a better place.