So my iPhone 4s perished. But phoenix-like, in its place, my iPhone 6s arose, golden, beautiful, and larger than ever. It would even synch to my computer, something my old iPhone had refused to do. I wondered, belatedly, if I had done this thing on purpose. I contemplated jumping in the pool with my very old HP computer, but only briefly, as sadly, the early photos of my new puppy Billy seemed to be gone, and their loss taught me to be more careful. The photos remain, elusively, somewhere in iCloud storage. If ever I find the courage, I will try to retrieve them at the Apple Store in Southland, but that is looking increasingly unlikely.
Meanwhile, Two Bays race day approached rapidly.
So did Christmas.
And it was seeming like one of the hottest summers I had ever experienced, at least in the pre-Christmas period. I was officially signed up for Two Bays 28k, but still uncertain about my race fitness.
I should tell you I was trying a novel approach to long-distance running. After the repeated injuries of the last couple of years, I had decided to go back to cross-training. For most of my running life, I had only run once a week, 1o miles on a Sunday, and the rest of the week, lifted weights, cycled, did classes, swam. I didn’t want to give up any of the things I loved doing in pursuit of just running. Until I found ultra-running, and completed my first 50k event. Then running took over. I got faster and stronger, but I crumbled over time without cross-training to support my muscles.
So in 2015, I was experimenting with replacing 20-40% of my running kilometres with swimming, as well as teaching three Bodypump classes a week. It worked for Marysville – I completed the half-marathon there feeling stronger than ever before. But Two Bays? I kept checking the online training guide, my mouth dropping open each time I looked at the suggested weekly distances. I’d never reached them; I would never want to.
The week after the iPhone debacle and my 20k run, my feet hurt again. I cut my long run back from the planned 23 in the Dandenongs, to 12 on the Bayside Coastal Track. The next week, again, I aimed at 22, but my long run in my training diary at the end of that week was only 13, with the notes, “Too hot, too tired.”
Now, this was 17 December. I was undecided if I would go ahead with Two Bays. Christmas with two young kids was exhausting anyway – did I really need the extra stress of training hard? I didn’t want to hurt myself, more than anything.
16 December came, the last week before school holidays. I didn’t even dream of training in the Dandenongs, though I needed some hill training. There were school parties and presents to buy and wrap, there was last-minute everything plus dozens of Christmas Carols to attend (maybe it just felt that way), and there was a new trampoline to build for the kids.
But I was getting a bit angry – my own goals kept slipping away. So on Monday, I ran 16k Bayside. It must have been hot; December seemed hot every time I ran, except when the cool changes happened every other day, and then it rained on me. But I did it.
Now, I was obsessively checking on the distance one needed to run in training to complete 28k. I quizzed my husband, who had done a half-marathon once in the late 1980s. He thought 18k was far enough. I doubted him. I asked my Facebook Groups, pleading for reassurance and selecting the answers that fit what I wanted most to hear (thanks everyone!).
Then the unthinkable happened: the air conditioner in our car died. You have to live an Australian summer to understand the drama – we traveled with our cats, dogs, and kids to our beach house two hours away. Someone would die without that a/c. So 23 December saw me at the car service centre, paying out a small fortune to fix the a/c. And I had to get home. Perfect! I had a 10k adventure run from the middle of nowhere off a major highway, navigating my way home.
And something stirred in me. Awakened. The thirst for adventure; the quest had begun.
That’s about when I started taking some risks. I made it through Christmas (joy, presents, blah blah blah), made it to Ocean Grove, and then dashed into the distance to complete a 22k run on the Surfcoast Trail from White’s Beach in Torquay to beyond Bells Beach and back. Beautiful. Brilliant. People celebrating all along the trail (It was, after all, the 28th of December). I was a tiny bit bereft to be all alone, running so far, but I was determined. Celebrating in a different way. I was utterly exhausted at the end, but thrilled.
This race was seeming do-able. Some runners had said 20k was long enough to guarantee a finish at Two Bays, and I had conquered this. It wasn’t pretty, and there weren’t enough hills, but maybe, just maybe I could do this.
After three years, and two DNS, perhaps I was going to make it to the start line.
I had just one more bright idea – a 24k run on 4 January, along the Surfcoast Trail again, just to be sure. Because I don’t like to feel unprepared.
Race day was looming – the 17 of January, a few short weeks away. I wondered if I was pushing too far, too late. I wondered if it was safe to run so far alone along the Surfcoast Trail when the summer holiday crowds were dispersing.
And I wondered about snakes. I’d read many people’s posts noting the increased presence of venomous snakes on every single trail this summer.
So much was riding against me. Was I going to make it?
To be continued…