World Trail Championships 2015

It’s the about the journey more than the destination.

These worlds pretty much sum up my feelings towards competing in the World trail Championships on May 30th.

 I’ve now been in Europe just over 4 weeks and it has been more amazing then I could ever dream. I have run some amazing mountains, met some incredible people and consumed some dead good food in between. I have already grown as a person and a runner but more importantly I am learning through every experience and every person I encounter along the way…and I still have another 3 months here!

When I was selected as part of the Australian team I was motivated by the idea of representing my country and wanting to do everyone proud including myself, my family and my team. I want to use this experience to help me develop as a runner as well as see some amazing environments and share the trails with some world class runners…and weather I come first or last I will accomplish this dream.

The lead up to this race has been less than ideal for me. I have had my dad sick, my mum move back home to London and just a whole lot of things that I have always found hard to deal with and thus taking my energy away from my training and instead being there for my family. Priorities.

I know going into this race I might not be at the stage I wanted to be but in my head I know I can do this, maybe slower than planned and maybe a whole lot more pain after… but I can’t wait!  I am hoping this race can bring back some confidence and help me move forward. Sometimes I forget how young I am and how crazy this sport is but nothing in the world gives me a bigger smile then when I am out running myself or seeing others running achieving something that seems impossible.

I love where I am, what I am doing, where I am going but I couldn’t do it without the support I receive every day from near and far. On the internet and in person, I couldn’t ask for more. So more than anything I want to say THANKYOU, for being there; weather I have actually met you or you comment or like something I post it all adds up to get me going every day. I am one very lucky teenager. 

 

Reflections

I feel very fortunate for the year I’ve had. The races I have competed in, the places I have gone and the constant support I receive from family and friends makes every kilometre I run that much easier and that much happier.

On Saturday I ran the Great Ocean Walk 100km which marks the end of my racing for 2014. It wasn’t a race for me, but a run to use of some energy before sitting down and finishing off year 12. Mum came along and had her first experience of crewing which I think was a success; she said she made lots of friends and now understands the whole ‘trail running’ thing.
I was very happy to finish as I was going to quit before the race had begun due to feeling very tired and unfit- but I think I just discovered how strong our body and mind is, and how mentally refreshed I was from the lack of training.

For me it has been a long year of racing. I started strong with winning Two Bays 56km, Mt Buller Sky run 45km and Big Forest 42km and then took on some of the bigger races including The North Face 100km (13th) and Tarawera 80km (10th) where I was able to see how I compared to some of the best runners going round. During this time I turned 18, making me no longer that underage, pestering girl to race directors and meant I could finally sign my own permission slips and accept bottles of wine as trophies!!!
In June I was then selected to run in the Sky running World Championships; Mont Blanc Marathon. As much as we were there to race, it was the whole Australian family trail running thing, French culture and being surrounded by the likes of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg but to then run and take out the junior’s world title was simply the unexpected as well as celebrating all the achievements by the Australian team!
The last bit of the year has been a bit spontaneous, just entering races a few days before for a bit of fun. Winning the 50km Surf Coast Century on the first half of the course was a massive surprise. The previous year, I ran my best race there and watching mates finish this year and achieve something that is so far outside their comfort zone was amazing.

Yurrebilla was a race I had been super excited for, having gone over and done some training runs with locals, I really wanted to impress but it wasn’t meant to be. Instead I was pulled through the roughest 56km I had ever done by volunteers, fellow runners and the trail running community that never cease to amaze me in their acts of kindness
It has been a year of highs and lows, but it will never be the result that I will remember but where I ran, who I was with and the smile that running puts on my face. My next goal is to finish year 12 and then set some new goals for 2015.
You’ll still see me on the trails this year, just rolling the legs over and doing what I love best, just getting outside loving nature and sweet single trails.

I want to thank EVERYONE who supports me, comments on my pictures, comes up to me at races, looks after me and inspires me every day. Obviously thanks Mum and Dad, Footpro, Oakley AUS/NZ, Suunto and Salomon Australia.
Onwards and upwards or maybe faster and stronger.

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Finding a Balance

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For those that don’t know I have exactly 71 school days till my last exam, actually 30 school days until my final day at school. This is surely the longest slowest “event” I have ever done.

I have been told by many running companions that VCE is like a race; you need to do all the prep work, do specific sessions and then taper down all ready and prepared for when the race starts and exams hit.
There have been a lot of sacrifices and compromises along the way. I made it pretty clear early on to my mum and dad that there was no way they could take away my running or blackmail me into studying. We compromised on using races as rewards.

I don’t dislike school and I know that when I look back I’ll remember school fondly, but right now I feel constrained and suffocating under the weight of pressure the expectations. I want to run. I’ve made lots of sacrifices and I’ve been happy to do so – early to bed for early starts the next day, missing 18th birthdays or leaving early and working to contribute to some of the costs. Mum and dad have also made sacrifices and I appreciate it even if I don’t say it enough.

For me running is a time where I can do what I want. I can forget about work, school, family, friends and focus on me. I run to escape the challenges of everyday life and because it’s something that at the end of it I’m better then when I began. I think a better person.

Running used to be something I did if I had time, now I make time. Running was something I shared with my dad and was all about getting to the finish line after having stopped and enjoyed the views, enjoyed the best brunches and wandered around lost without a care. Now it’s a necessary part of my life and whilst I still start races with dad, we meet back at the finish line both having endured our own challenges.

This year things have been different;
I train specifically; much harder and much longer. I enter races to go faster, push times and limits and to see how I go against some of the best. I’ve realised leading up to year 12 and VCE that this was going to be hard to maintain – attending compulsory classes, studying, working at Bakers Delight and training let alone finding the time to go to 18th parties, graduation dinners and formals. It’s a busy time and a time where I realise I need to take a step back and look at where I am and where I want to go.

I know I’m only 18 and if I can pace myself I should be able to keep running and tick off my enormous bucket list of events and challenges I have set myself, but I am impatient and want to start now and not in 72 days, but I also appreciate all the others that have supported me – my family, my extended trail running family, Simon (footpro) and so many others in the trail running world.

Leading up to exams, I have entered the Surf Coast Century 50km (13th September), Yurrebilla 56km (28th September) and GOW100 (18th October). Exams commence on November 2nd.
That’s a lot, I know, but a good amount if I change the way I approach these runs. I haven’t trained how I normally would have liked and will enter these races with a different mindset. The body might be slightly under done but the mind will be free, hopefully these races will let me release the shackles and run for the enjoyment. I’ll still attack the course; I have that competitive nature and white line fever. I’m going to enjoy these runs for all right reasons a private celebration and liberation.

It might be the break I need to improve or may make the race day a struggle but all the more enjoyable at the end. I won’t stand on the start line and say I won’t push and try hard, I will, but I won’t be disappointed if I don’t get the result I always strive for. I will just be satisfied and happy to be out on trails, in a time where most kids are sitting at a desk doing practice exams. I am very lucky for what I can do and what I am apart of and the people that support me.

And schoolies… will be spent summiting mountains, exploring the wild and smashing myself in a different way to how others might be during this time 😉

42 days and I’ll be a free bird yippee! 

More than just a race- Sky Running World Championships Mount Blanc Marathon

Whilst the whole point of traveling to France was to compete in the Sky Running World Championships as part of the Australia/ New Zealand team, it wasn’t the race itself that made the 3 weeks I spent overseas my fondest memory. It was a host of things; to be part of such a talented team and the Australians do so well, to crew Blake into a 6th place, to watch Jacinta push through 17 hours of running, to meet elite runners who I wasn’t quite sure really existed and to simply ‘be’ in the French mountains were the highlights of the trip and the moments I will remember most.

For me, this race was all about experience. I don’t live in the mountains nor have any access to them. I live in Melbourne, I run on roads, on flat trails along the Yarra river unless I can beg someone to drive me to the small hills of the Dandenong’s on the weekends- I don’t have a lot to work with.

I found it really hard to train in the first few days in Chamonix as my legs felt awful, my heart was going a million miles an hour and I was tripping over every second root because I couldn’t stop looking up at the mountains and taking pictures (yes, selfies too). I came across to France with a slight pain in my left knee that restricted my downhill running and flat running (lucky there was no flat) but on the uphills I was strong which made me very happy as the marathon is an uphill course with the finish 1000m up from Chamonix in Planpraz (2090m).

Friday 27th at 4:00am saw the start of the 80km ultra and meant the day was spent chasing the Australians around the checkpoints, being both inspired by the performances of so many individuals but also slightly concerned at how destroyed people were coming through the checkpoints. The day was long, but a day full of adrenaline and watching people come though the finish line gave a burning desire to have that same satisfaction of completing what is undoubtedly an epic adventure.

Saturday was spent trying to relax, hearing stories from out on the trails, eating food, watching 80km finishers hobbling around the town sore but proud and following other races- from over in America with Western States to back home in the Surf Coast marathon; there was no lack of continuous inspiration from what people were achieving all over the world.

 

 

Sunday came around way too fast and it was time for me and the other Australians to gather the motivation to run 42km through what had turned into a very wet and cold morning- so cold that the course was re-routed due to snow. The change in the course meant that instead of the uphill finish it now descended back down into town making me concerned for me knee and my ability to run downhills! We took off, running thought the streets of Chamonix and then onto the flowing trails. I started off fast and then sat back as I knew the one big climb in the middle was where the race began. I had run this section in the lead up and wanted to make that the time to move up in the field. Blake and Jacinta divided to crew at more checkpoints and cheer on other Australians. As I passed one of them it made me so happy that the smile lasted till I got to see the next one, and it made for a very happy run even though I felt bad because they looked terribly cold and I didn’t stop or say anything nice!!

I started the final descent back down into town and knew my knee wasn’t enjoying the pounding downhill so I adopted a very spastic running style that took the pressure off from my left leg- fairly sure I looked like I’d never run in my life but as long as I was moving forward I was content. I came down this hill like no hill I’d ever come down before until slowly the streets became lined with supporters yelling “Allez, Allez, Allez, Go, Go, Go!!” In the pouring rain, it seemed everyone was there yelling and cheering it was a surreal moment. People who had done the 80km course had described the final run through town as the highlight of the race but to actually be in that moment was something no words could explain and a very big positive that came from the course change. Crossing the finish line I had no idea where I had come or what time I did. It didn’t matter.

It was an amazing day out in the mountains that showed how one day it can be sunny and calm and then turn so rapidly. To finish was one thing, to finish as the junior world champion was another and a title that I feel honoured and still don’t really believe.

One thing that has come out of this trip is the reassurance that this is what I love and that I’m doing it for the right reasons. It’s the people that make this sport, the elites and the back of the packers. Everyone sets out to achieve their best and this is no different for first place to last place. I was there to give my best, experience the next level of racing and represent my country (…And miss a few weeks of school 🙂

But to do what I love surrounded by people who share this desire to run and challenge themselves against some of the steepest and brutal part of the French alps, experience buckets of self-inflicted pain for no other reason than to get the finish line at the other end and receive a medal. It’s crazy but it’s awesome.

 

I couldn’t have done it without everyone.

The explosion of messages on Facebook from my good friends to complete strangers,

My family especially my parents for letting me do this in my final year,

Footpro, who look after me, dress me in cool gear, but also make these opportunities come alive

Optimus health, who somehow manage to keep my body working and reduce any injuries as well as putting on a fundraiser to help me fund this trip.

….And everyone else.

 

The smile will never fade when I think back to what has just happened.

TNF100- Pure Happiness

“At the end of the day

Some you win,

some you don’t

So I’m glad that I’m here

With some friends that I know

Always there with a smile

Saying you’re not alone.

Yesterday is history

You gotta get through it

Tomorrow is a mystery

So let’s just do it” – Que Sera, Justice Crew.

The song that got me to the end.

Thinking back to the race it’s hard to believe that is was only a few days ago – yet it feels like years. It still makes me smile; I did run well but that isn’t the thing that makes me most happy, it was the atmosphere in the lead up to the event, the energy, the town filled with runners and being surrounded by new and old friends who were all committing to the same extreme challenge of running The North Face 100.

The Blue Mountains were spectacular under the cloudless sky; it eased everyone’s concern over mandatory gear and excited me that I would be getting a winter tan throughout the long day!

I started in wave 2, a decision I consciously made from a lesson learnt during the Tarawera 100 where I went out with the elites and blew up. I took it easy and chatted with numerous runners as we descended the Furber stairs and carefully made our way along the landslide. I don’t think I have ever talked so much in a race but I had a blast discussing nutrition and races with surrounding runners who knew me and were genuinely interested in my life story.

I got to the first checkpoint at Narrow Neck and ran straight through. I chose to walk the hills but when I got on to road sections I stretched out and felt pure amazement at how good my body felt. I ran along on my own, gobsmacked by the views and picking runners I wanted to catch up to.

I was joined by one guy who surprised me by asking if I was Lucy, and then went on to say he had been messaging me about tips in the lead up to this run, clearly I was either giving away great tips or I should have been asking him for advice because he ran on up iron pot ridge. I had been told this was one of the least loved part of the course which is understandable as you run an out and back loop and end up where you started- but I loved it! I love having runners coming in the opposite direction as I can’t help myself but encourage others and smile as we listened to the tunes of the didgeridoo!!

I got to Dumphys camp at 31km and picked up some water and cold watermelon and ran on. I knew I was 30minutes in front of my goal time; I had told Dad I was going for a sub 14hr finish (Silver Buckle) and felt like I was running within myself.

The kilometre’s ticked over slowly and time raced past as I shuffled my way up the last hill into the checkpoint. Then I saw someone who I could distinguish a mile away in running gear, my trail running mum who has seen me do so many races, Jacinta. She gave me a wave and told me the best news of the day – she would be running the next section with me. I was feeling thirsty from the increasing temperature and again filled up water and got some more watermelon. We took off, it was a long road section before a shady climb up Nellies Glen up to the Katoomba Aquatic centre where I knew my Dad was waiting. I was kicking to see him!

It wasn’t easy; the flat road tired the working muscles in my feet and knees, Jacinta insisted on making small talk and celebrated the 50km (half way)mark wildly. We ran constantly and as much as I didn’t say it, her presence was what I needed more than anything.

Running into Katoomba I had a sudden rush of adrenaline as supporters lined the entrance to the hall and cheered me in. I arrived in, spotted Dad and was unintentially blunt; I wanted electrolytes, I wanted watermelon (again) and I needed my iPod.

With that I left and as I did I realised that was probably the stupidest thing because I was a getting low on food. And a few minutes there would make little impact with 43kms to go. Lesson learnt. (Mind you when I was told of the men’s finish, every second counts).

Jacinta and I ran on a little more through the tourists at the 3 Sisters and down onto the fun trail that followed the cliffs out to Leura and onto Wentworth Falls. Jacinta left me at the giant stairs and I made my way down preparing myself for a long leg but was enjoying the beautiful, dark trails and being alone in such a surreal place it felt unreal.

Kilometre markers were every 5km but it felt like every 10. When you live where I do and 10km takes 40 minutes you get used to k’s ticking over in no time, in the mountains 10km takes closer to 90minutes and involved stairs upon stairs. This killed me mentally. but I knew all I had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to the final checkpoint, to see dad, get some food and get onto the one part of the course I had run previously.

We ran through the Fairmont and memories returned of waiting for my Dad 1n 2012 at 11:00pm to come across the finish line and dreaming of myself doing the same. Today I was; this run was two years in the making.

I got to the next checkpoint with 2 other ladies who were doing their first 100km and absolutely smashing it. I ran in, looked around and didn’t see Dad; I got some water, some more watermelon (serious addiction) and ran out. It didn’t quite hit me that I still had no food on me for a long 22km leg that would take up to 3hours after nearly 10hrs of racing. I knew this section and allowed my body to fall down a 9km descent knowing that it was all up from the bottom. I was okay for the first few hills with music blasting in my ears, until I had to put my head torch on and I lost all strength in my legs and found it really hard to grasp where I was, the tunnel vision of the head lamp is quiet new to me and this affected me mentally as well as digging myself a hole with no real food or calories to consume.

Finally I found myself with other people after being alone for a while; I was running along with the 50km sweepers and back on to the final trail that led to the base of the Furber stairs. This was the longest trail ever. I had nothing left for this near flat trail and was concerned for my body as I zig-zaged my way across the trail. Reaching the 1km to go sign all I wanted to do was to sit down, cry, take a picture, text my Dad, and laugh all at once.

This 1km will go down as the hardest 1000m I have ever experienced, with steps that were descended in the early hours of the morning I was now endeavouring to ascend after 99km of happiness running. But every step was a step closer and I knew that I was going to make it, I had hands on the steps in front of me and bear crawled my way up. I paused to let the dizzy spells pass until I got to the wooden boards when a couple yelled 80m to go!! I jogged (sort of) down the finish shoot absorbing the people and the support I was getting. I found Dad waiting at the end, collapsed on to him. 13:02:00. Job done.

 

Thanks to everyone; The vollies, Race director and team. You just can’t do this stuff without support.

All ten of the sponsors supporting the event but my sponsors of Footpro and Optimus who are the glue that hold me together!

“So you gotta be strong

Live by the words of the song

Together is where we belong

never stop dreaming

Keep holding on”

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Birthday Race- The North Face 100

I always forget to write a race report after a race, and these days there are so many great post race blogs, I thought I would get in early and take some of the pressure off, so I thought I’d  share my thoughts on The North Face 100km, being held on the 17th May in the Blue mountains, Sydney – Two days before my 18th birthday.

TNF100 has always been a race I had big goals for. When Dad ran it in 2012 and I managed to follow him on some of the trails I was in awe at the course and the beautiful surroundings, Dad crossed the line with minutes to spare before my 16th birthday since then TNF has been on my bucket list to run on my 18th. Many thanks to the Race Director of TNF for allowing me a few days grace in entering.

It’s amazing to think that that two years have passed and how many great new friends, races and trails I have encountered. My original plan was for a present from mum and dad of entry into TNF100,  flights, accommodation and to run side by side with my dad- well maybe not side by side.

Unfortunately things change, and so far in trail running and in life I’ve learnt that adapting is the key to success;

First, the course has changed, something I don’t adore nor despise but apparently making it marginally harder to finish witch may be in favour of the way I run.

Secondly, Dad won’t be joining me after tearing his hamstring he’ll be crewing where possible and taking advantage of my last few moments of me not being an adult and being able to order me around!

Lastly, I never dreamed of being selected to run in the Sky Running World Champs in Chamonix, France which falls on June 28th, making me having to prioritise one or the other.

NONE THE LESS.. it will be awesome. It will be an experience and no matter what at the end of it I will be smiling (maybe on the inside).

All in all, I want this race to be a positive experience, It has been a dream two years in the making.  I’ve changed as a runner from just entering races to COMPLETE to entering to COMPETE, but I think for TNF100, this race will require greater adaption. I’m not as prepared as I would like; year 12 studies, constantly interrupt my running along with the cold dark mornings- I run better in sunshine! and consistency /specificity in running hills and steps have been absent over the last period.

These are no excuses but merely me trying to get my head around that this wont be the fairy tale race I wanted but yet another learning experience. I look forward to the run next weekend with one of the strongest female fields I have ever been in, I want to represent myself well and I want give back to those who have supported me, and most of all have fun, to run with a smile

This will be my last run as a junior and I’m planning on a running gap year in 2015, so ill just have to come back, easy!

As always none of this would be possible without the help and support of my family, Footpro, Optimus Health, my trail buddies and friends.

Life is pretty good! 

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Photo: Lyndon Marceau Photography!

2014 first steps

IMG_2164This year was always going to be a make or break for me. I’m studying my VCE, turning 18 in a few months and can finally run in all the incredible events that are out there. I’ve really enjoyed the last 18 months, I’ve enjoyed running as junior and the title of “young up and comer….” I’ve enjoyed races for the scenery and the people I have met, but now I want to prove myself against the best and I want to race the best in the best locations.
With just under 2 weeks too what will ultimately be my first international race, the Vibram Tarawera 100km has really been my first race that I have truly focused on, trained specifically for and tried to build a nutritional plan for. I am beyond excited, counting down the days and driving anyone who will listen crazy.
Here is a quick jot down of what’s been up:

-Tarawera for me is a funny (defining) race. I want to do well, really well. I want to feel like I am running fast and I have been training very hard for it. I don’t have a place or a “top whatever’ that I want to reach. The competition is huge, the resumes of the people running are insane and that makes me excited. I want to see how I go, how hard I can push myself against the other world class males and females that have far more experience then I in ultra-running.

-Year 12 has begun and has been a real challenge. I’ve done a few SAC’s already and my time management skills are improving. I’m balancing my running, schooling and work. It’s all good at this stage but I’m not looking forward to winter. All my teachers are aware of my ‘’full on” training and I now do almost all my sessions in the morning, they realise I will be running late and I rush to school with wet hair and some food to eat during class, none the less most are very supportive.

-Mick Donges has been training me for 3 weeks now, former winner of Tarawera back in 2012, I met Mick last year when he won the Mt Buller 45km and I was first female. He passed on his prize to me for encouragement and showed that ultra / trail running should be fun. He once seemed like a trail god that would never remember my name, but is now emailing me training plans, giving me advice and a place to stay if I go train in Bright!

-I have never been trained by anyone before, I usually just run, fast or slow, long or short with no structure and have always pushed away the thought of a coach because I didn’t want to burn out, the thought of structured sessions to early would have taken the fun out of running, I thought I could build my aerobic base with my Dad. We both agree now is the right time to become a little more structured in my training and a coach now can help me with training smarter. The whole less is best idea this year has real appeal this year. The cost of the coach also didn’t appeal.
-I want to run Tarawera at my strongest and I realised that I needed to get faster and that’s when I decided I’d probably injure myself if I randomly started doing fast sessions. Also watching other people progress rapidly under the training of a coach I realised there must be something I’m missing.

-Dad’s injury has thrown a spanner in the works as it has meant that I don’t have a training partner, a taxi nor a person I can talk about running with for hours. It kills me that it’s killing him but I am so proud to have him crewing for me at Tarawera and he has practiced peeling bananas for me!

-Footpro as usual has been simply amazing, looking after me, listening to my excitement and plans and supplying me with gear that will make me look fast even on a bad day and also 32GI nutrition that has pulled me through the long training runs and will do the same on race day. I can’t thank then enough for looking after me and making me look super cool.

-Finally I’m 18 in 78 days so all race directors can heave a sigh of relief and I can finally sign my own permission form!

It’s been a crazy lead up to this run, and I am so excited to get over there and hopefully give it my all. I want to be proud of my efforts, I want to make dad proud and I want everyone else who is attempting to run this monster distance to be proud of themselves.

It’s going to be epic, and I just can’t wait. I love this sport for so many reasons. I know I won’t get rich trail running, but the scenery, the places I have travelled to far and wide make it worth every training session. The way people have looked after me as the ‘young one’ and ran with me every step of the way is priceless.