Running in Rome

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Running has always been an integral part of traveling for me.  It offers a mechanism for experiencing a new place – including it’s natural or urban landscape and people – from a perspective that is different than your typical tourist activity.   In some cases, travel has been a means to run (i.e. for races), whereas in other cases, like my recent trip to Rome, running has been a means to travel.  Nothing arouses the sense of curiosity and wonderment while traveling like running through a new city for the first time.

I put this post together to help inspire others who are looking for a similar running experience while in Rome.  I didn’t do any exhaustive research, but i think I found a nice cross section of urban and trail running opportunities in and around the Eternal City that others might enjoy as well.

1. City Tour

If you only have one opportunity to run in Rome, it must be a city tour.  You can see more sights in 2 hours than most tourists would otherwise see in several days.  And that’s not to say that these sights aren’t worth spending several days enjoying (they certainly are), but there’s something very special about connecting them all together in one run that puts them all into context with one another and the city that they occupy.  It also is a great way to get one’s bearings at the beginning of the trip, making subsequent excursions to the places of interest a little easier.

On our city tour we ran alongside the legendary Circus Maximus, circumnavigated the Colosseum, linked up the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, and finished by looping around the Vatican City with a pause in St Peter’s Square.   On another we linked up the beautiful Villa Borghese and Piazza de Poppolo.  We went back to each of these places during the rest of our trip to experience them with more time, but we both agreed the first impression we had on these runs were the most magical.

>> Strava Route 1: Colosseum, Trevi, Spanish Steps, Vatican, St Peters

>> Strava Route 2: River path, Piazza de Poppolo, Villa Borghese, Centro Storico

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Colloseum

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Villa Borghese

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St. Peter’s Square

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The Spanish Steps

2. Villa Doria Pamphili

If I lived in Rome and wanted to run every day, this is the place I would do it.  Villa Doria Pamphili is located in the southwest side of the city, easily accessible from Trastevre, and other adjacent neighborhoods.  It used to be a massive estate for an uber-wealthy family but now is the largest landscaped park in Rome.  The park features a nice variation of open space, trees, gardens, ponds, fountains and structures that remain from it’s original function as an estate.   There is a nice combination of dirt roads and singletrack; a  welcome break from the hard cobblestones of the City.

The network of trails, while unmarked, are quite logical in their layout, making it easy to cobble together a route of any distance from 1 miles to 10 miles.  By staying to the perimeter of the park, a very nice 5 mile loops can be completed.  Note that the park is bisected by a very busy highway, but a pedestrian bridge is located on the south side.

>> Strava routes 1 and 2

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Villa Doria Pamphili

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Villa Doria Pamphili

3. Via Appia Antica & Parco della Caffarella

Via Appia Antica (or Appian Way) is an historic road dating back to antiquity that connected Rome to the surrounding regions.  It was home to many historic events, including the crucifixion of Spartacus’ army and more recently, the 1960 Olympic Marathon!  There are many old tombs and catacombs that line the route, and there is  certainly a sense of history that one feels when traveling along its cobbles.  The first few miles are prone to traffic (except on sunday), but after that, it becomes quite peaceful and quiet and can be run for about 10 miles in each direction.

I highly recommend linking it up with the Parco della Caffarella as shown in my Strava route.  The park is absolutely stunning, and has miles of singletrack on rolling grassy hills.  There are also several archaelogical sites of interest within the park, but i was mostly captivated by expansive views, soft trails, and the herd of sheep we encountered (complete with a sleeping shepherd in the grass).

>> Strava route

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Parco della Caffarella

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Parco della Caffarella

4. River Path

Finally, if you just want to log some miles without leaving the city or having to think about route finding, the path along the Tiber River will certainly be of interest.  The path is sunk below the elevation of the roads and the rest of the city, which has a nice effect of reducing noise and stress of the traffic, but it also has a bit of a “concrete jungle” vibe to it.

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Path on the River Tiber

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Another Look at Ultras – TNF50 Round 2

A weary runner (Brett Rivers /San Francisco Running Co)

A weary runner (Brett Rivers /San Francisco Running Co)

Here’s the irony of ultra running: When you are on an easy run, you have time to think about a lot of things. But when you are racing an ultra, you have a lot of time, but somehow can only manage to think about one thing: how uncomfortable it is. Or maybe it’s just me.

I ran my second 50 mile race on Saturday, the North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge. I ran the same race last year as my first serious ultra, and let’s just say things didn’t really go as planned. So i was determined to learn from the experience, and come back to do it right this year.

I focused more on the long runs in the months leading up to the event, and got to the point where clicking off hilly 25 milers on the weekend was relatively casual. I built recovery weeks into my training cycle, ensuring that i would not show up to this late season race burned out (like last year). And i got my nutrition dialed… namely by discovering that the best way to survive an ultra without bonking and getting sick is to drink the most un-nutritious beverage on the planet: Coke. Lots of Coke (Sorry Mrs Obama).

And all that stuff worked fantastic on race day. I showed up well rested, didn’t bonk, and ran like a champ… for 25 miles. I chatted quite a bit with Rickey during the early miles, agreeing that biding our time, running a consistent pace would be key to running a successful (or at least satisfying) race.  I was feeling confident about this plan.  Although i realized that the pace I was running for the first 25 miles (7:30 min/mi) would win the race most years, it felt comfortable and sustainable.  But the last half of the race felt almost as tough as i remembered it from the year before: numb, battered legs that simply refuse to go any faster down the stretch.

And who can blame them?

Strava course profile

Strava course profile

47 miles, 9000+ feet of climbing, darkness, rain, and mud.  Ultras are hard.  Really hard.  You have to be willing and able to run uncomfortably for a long time, which is as mentally taxing as it is physically.  How the leaders manage to run sub 7 min/mile pace over that course is beyond my comprehension, but i suspect it is has much do to mental conditioning as physical training.  I suddenly feel like an amateur in a pro sport.

Good gear helps

Good gear helps

In the end, i would finish in just under 6.5 hours for 21st place.  Kristin and Autumn, who crewed for me the whole day in the rain, were waiting for me across the finish line.  I could finally enjoy their company.  Autumn gave me a thumbs up.  You know you have a family that loves you when they are willing to embrace you even though you are sweaty, muddy and smell a bit like urine.  I couldn’t talk for the first few minutes, because i just wanted to cry.  Not out of disappointment, and not out of joy, but rather tears of relief, that i had persevered and gotten through it.

At the finish line with Kristin and Autumn (Brett Rivers / San Francisco Running Co)

At the finish line with Kristin and Autumn (Brett Rivers / San Francisco Running Co)

Although my pace slowed in the end, i ran every step and never lost my composure.  I climbed well.  I fueled well.  I wore the right shoes and socks.  And i never gave up.

But i question if i have the ideal physiology to run ultras as hard as one needs to be competitive   Maybe i’m not robust enough.  My quads don’t look like the tree trunks.  But most of all, i question if i have the desire to train and race such long distances.  Running is more special to me when it is kept in balance with the rest of my life, and i think to be competitive at these ultras you need to train more than i do.

Remember when marathons used to be considered long distance?  Well, they are sounding pretty good to me right now.

Congratulations to everyone who ran their heart out in such a challenging race.  It was inspiring to be a part of it.

-Galen

Links:

iRunFar Article

Full results

Jungfrau Marathon 2012

Wide awake.

I look at my watch: 1:30AM.  I groan, and try to go back to sleep, but my heart starts racing as soon as i remember what i’m about to do.  I finally drift into a state that is neither sleep nor awake, only to repeat the cycle less than an hour later.

Such is the life of a jet lagged long distance runner the night before a race.

On this particular race morning I was the a small Swiss village of Wilderswil awaiting the start of the Jungfrau marathon, which is said to be the most beautiful marathon in the world. While that claim sounds entirely too subjective, I had run this race once before back in 2007 and found myself in complete agreement. Consider the following:

Roaring rivers, 800-ft waterfalls, quaint villages, clinking cowbells, glaciers and mountains are all discovered along the course. And not just any mountains. The race finishes on the steps of three of the most legendary peaks in all of Europe: the Eiger, the Monch, and the Jungfrau. It’s a mountain lovers dream.

Course map

The gun went off at 9am and a colorful stream of runners, 6000+ in total, burst across the starting line (it is now the largest marathon in Switzerland, road or trail). Crowds lined up along the starting chute pounded the barriers, rang cowbells, and cheered, as firecrackers exploded nearby. Ah, racing in Europe, there’s nothing like it.

Unfortunately, there were no such fireworks happening in my legs. In the proceeding days I had felt a tightness settle in to my calves that made them tender even to the touch. Perhaps i did one too many workouts the week before, and the air travel probably didn’t help. Whatever it was I didn’t have the spring in my step that you always hope for on race day. But i didn’t want that to be an excuse not to run my best, so I tried to remain patient, hopeful that the legs would eventually come around and loosen up.

I was here to participate in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge (or Championship, depending on who you ask) with a USA team that included 5 guys and 5 women. We would compete individually for overall placement in the race but with the added context that our three fastest runners would score for team honors. The unique profile of the race (and significant prize money — $56,000 in total) draws an impressive pool of backgrounds and talent. 70 countries in total were represented, including usual suspects such as Switzerland, Austria, Germany, but also speed powerhouses like Kenya and Ethiopia. Reading through the bios of these athletes, it was not uncommon to see marathon PRs in the 2:14-2:20 range, with mountain experience to boot. Mountain racing in Europe is the real deal.

Mens 40+ runners and women raced the day before. Here, going through 10km. (Galen Burrell photo)

After running through the first 10k in 36min (5:47 pace) a lead group of ~20 had already gone off the front and I had no choice but to settle in with an equally sized chase group to continue running what felt to be a sensible pace. Although my breathing felt relaxed, my legs were feeling flat, and it seemed like my calves might cramp up at any time. This is just the warmup, I kept saying to myself.

From 10km to 21km the course is gently uphill (2% grade avg.), and I could see our pace slowing on my Garmin. At that point I went off the front of our chase group to push the pace a bit, because I knew I wanted to go through the first half in 1h:16m or faster.

My goal for this race was to improve upon the time I ran in 2007 (3:11:05), when I finished 5th. To do that, I knew I had to train smarter and more effectively to make up for whatever natural speed I’ve lost (and work/life responsibilities gained) since then. So I studied the course in great detail over the summer and identified each unique segment of the race, noting it’s length and grade (steepness).*

I used this information to match similar sections of trails and roads near my house (with a little help from Strava!) and trained assiduously on them with hill repeats and tempo runs to get my body dialed to those gradients. I love this kind of focused training and i saw considerable improvement along the way.

Going through Lauterbrunnen at the halfway point I was elated by the hundreds of spectators lining the streets cheering and screaming. High fives were exchanged as I floated through the crowd. But it was only temporary relief from the sinking feeling of seeing my time (1h:19m:33s) nearly 4 minutes slower than in 2007. I was way off my targeted pace.  I needed a hill.

USA’s Melody Fairchild at km 26 from the day before. (Galen Burrell)

The start of the climb finally arrived just before km 26 and i was in 25th place, with the chase group not far behind but nobody in sight ahead of me. I told myself “the real race starts now”.

The first few km of the climb are outrageously steep), and although I felt my confidence returning in more familiar terrain, I was gaining little ground on the runners behind me. For the first 8km of the climb it felt like i was running by brute force and will, with little energy to enjoy the incredible event I was participating in. The realization that I wasn’t enjoying myself frustrated me even more than my pace.

A view of Lauterbrunnen valley from the course near Wengen. (Galen Burrell)

At around 33km, the first glimmers of hope started to appear. I could see runners ahead of me for the first time since the first 10km of the race. Despite how poorly I was feeling, I was finally starting to reel people in. After passing the first few stragglers, i felt some adrenalin releasing, and the tension and tightness in my legs start to ease up. I pounded my 4th gel to try and supercharge the sudden wellspring of energy.  Boom!  It worked – before I knew it, I was dancing up the mountain with lightness and joy that I hadn’t felt all day, and was passing people like they were standing still. I was finally running the race I had imagined all along, and it felt spectacular.

Adam Campbell running near the top of the climb back in 2007. (Galen Burrell photo)

I ended up passing 10 people in the last 10km and ran the fastest split among all competitors on the steepest and most spectacular final climb before the finish. Near the top of the climb, I passed a dazed and stumbling Ethiopian, clearly out of his element. Knowing that his 10k PR is likely 5 minutes faster than my own, i sprinted down the last kilometer to the finish with reckless (and fearful) abandon and crossed the line in 3:10:58 for 11th place.

In the end, I felt elated by my strong finish, relieved to run faster (incredibly, by less than 10 seconds!) than in 2007 when I was 5 years younger, and yet puzzled by how poorly I felt early on. Under-trained for the flat stuff maybe? Over-trained in general (i won the Mt Tam Hill Climb six day prior, maybe i wasn’t recovered)? Or maybe I’m turning into an ultra runner and need 30km just to warm up. These are things to ponder as I take a little break from training this month…

As for the team competition: my time, combined with Sage Canaday’s 5th place time and Zac Freudenburg’s 32nd place time, earned Team USA the silver medal, with the local Swiss team taking gold, and Germany staking bronze. Josh Ferenc and Jason Bryant put in gutsy performances for the US as well, finishing 43rd and 63rd respectively, despite some hardships in the second half.
The women put in a great performance the day before, taking home the gold in the team comp.

The gang of four, without Zac. (Melody Fairchild photo)

*The breakdown of the course looks alittle something like this:
10km (flat) + 11km (2% grade) + 5km (flat) + 4km@18% + 8km@7% + 3km@18% + 1.2km downhill = 42.2km with 6000 ft of climbing.

Pikes Peak and Yosemite

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Running near the summit of Pikes Peak in 2003

Each year when Pikes Peak race weekend nears, I feel a deep yearning to return. It’s as if all the years of training and racing up that mountain have left something inside me, (or more likely I left something on the mountain), and there is a sense of wanting to reconnect. I discovered myself as a runner on its slopes during the 4 consecutive years that i ran the marathon (9th in 2003, 1st in 2004, 2nd in 2005, 2nd in 2006). During those years, I discovered the patience, focus, and determination necessary to succeed on the mountain, and those qualities have defined my approach to training ever since.

I look forward to returning to my favorite race on my favorite mountain, but this year it was not to be.

So this past weekend I looked for an alternative mountain endeavor to take its place. Coincidentally, 6 month old Autumn was clearly jonesing for an adventure and Kristin’s brother Logan was visiting from mountain-deprived Michigan. So on Saturday morning, Kristin, Autumn, Logan and I packed the car and set off to Yosemite for the weekend.

For me, arriving in Yosemite is like a Catholic arriving at St. Peters Cathedral: An architectural masterpiece presided over by powers higher than your own. It’s at once humbling and empowering. No other place inspires me to explore its reaches more than Yosemite.

Pleasure to see you again mr sentinel.

Yosemite Valley from the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point

Once arriving in Yosemite Valley, we immediately set off on foot toward Glacier Point on the Four Mile Trail (it’s actually 4.6 miles to the top). Kristin and Logan hiked up with Autumn in the baby bjorne while I ran. Once the valley rim is achieved 3200′ of climbing later, spectacular views of Half Dome, Nevada/Vernal Falls, and the rest of the Valley are awarded. Tour groups and buses notwithstanding, it is one of the finest viewpoints in the Valley. [see the Strava route]

The Mist Trail. One of the finest short hikes in the world.

On Sunday, we collected our free coffee from the Lodge and ate breakfast while pouring over maps to plan the day’s adventures. Kristin would do a 10-mile loop around the valley’s scenic bike paths with the baby jogger, while Logan would do his own hike up to Mirror Lake. My objective for the day, was to run from Yosemite Valley (4000′ elev) to Tenaya Lake (8200′) via Clouds Rest (10,000′), 18 miles in total with 7000′ of climbing. The route was gloriously scenic, following the Mist Trail past Nevada and Vernal Falls and the John Muir Trail around Half Dome. The views from Clouds Rest, a massive granite formation perched high above the valley, are stunning. [see Strava route]

Yosemite, steeped in climbing lore and tradition, is also an ideal playground for the vertically inclined runner. The view from Clouds Rest.

The run finished at Tenaya Lake, where I took a bus back down to the Valley after a cool dip in the water.

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Tenaya Lake. Where rock climbers meet mountain runners meet standup paddle boarders.

It was a wonderful weekend in Yosemite. Only downside was not being able to do the hikes with the fam…

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Kristin & Autumn hiking up the Four Mile Trail. Autumn’s first visit to Yosemite!

The Kepler Challenge

 

The premise

Lake Te Anau from the Luxmore Hut

Prior to registering for the Kepler Challenge, Kristin and I had been living in Sydney for about 9 months.  During that time, running had largely been placed on the back burner while we adjusted to our new surroundings and I focused on my new job. Training for a race was the last thing on my mind during that adjustment period, but after 9 months I was ready to get back out and run again.   Plus we really wanted an excuse to return to New Zealand.

Objective

I entered the Kepler Challenge back in June 2009 to inspire myself to get back outside and enjoy the pleasure of running again.  I knew my situation in Sydney (where trails and mountains are hard to come by) wasn’t ideal for training for my first ultra distance mountain race, so instead of aiming for a specific result at the race, I made my goal simply to have fun, get fit, and above all, not get injured.  (of course, if you know me, you know that those goals are nice before the race, but once i toe the starting line i’m out to compete and give it my all)

Result

I’m happy to say I accomplished all these objectives.  The Kepler Challenge inspired me to start run-commuting to/from work, as well as to get out of Sydney on the occasional weekend for some nice long runs.  It was the most relaxed training approach I’ve taken in recent years.  And while I may not have been as fit as I’ve been before, I had fun, kept my life in balance, and never got injured.  Mission accomplished. (and i had a pretty good result at the finish, all things considered)

Read on for more…

I first came to the Kepler Track 5 years ago during my three month campervan / mountain running tour of New Zealand.  I hiked the track in three days like pretty much everyone else, and I was completely smitten by  its spectacular scenery and diverse landscapes. Half way through the track, I remember one of the hut wardens (keepers of the rustic mountain huts that trampers sleep in while on the track) remarking that the course record was a little over 4.5 hours set by a runner in The Kepler Challenge, an annual running race on the course.  Course record? They have a race on this course??

From that day, I knew I would be back.

Great field

It turns out The Kepler Challenge is the recognized as the Jewel of the New Zealand mountain running scene.  It has great organization, top competition, and without a doubt the most spectacular course in New Zealand, and among the best in the world.  Despite its ultra distance of 60 km, it somehow manages to attract everyone from collegiate cross country aces to Olympic marathoners, in addition to the ultra running crowd that one would expect for this distance.  But then again, that’s New Zealand for you.  Unlike in the US where people tend to be good road runners, good mountain runners, or good ultra runners, but very rarely more than one of those, this distinction in New Zealand is much less prevalent.  It’s all just running.

Great course

 

Course map

The Kepler Track has all the makings of an epic course; in fact it goes right up there on my list of the Top 10 best running trails of the world.  Bold statement you say?  Well let’s run through some criteria:

  • Loop course. No out-and-back sections, no contrived add-ons… The Kepler Track is beautiful in its simplicity – a circular loop that starts and finishes just outside the small town of Te Anau and runs around the Jackson Peaks range.
  • Views. Once you get above tree line, the course follows undulated mountain top ridges for about 15km with unbelievable views of the snow capped southern Alps of Fiordlands National Park (they make the Colorado Rockies looks like big rubble piles), stunning lakes (Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri), and lush glacially carved valleys.
  • Diverse landscapes.  Like many tracks in the South Island of New Zealand, the course starts in temperate rainforests (think lush fern understory and trees covered in green moss), through sub-alpine bush, and then barren alpine landscape (complete with the occasional snowfield).
  • High quality track.  The entire 60 km track is totally runnable, ranging from soft and spongy forest track to hard packed gravelly mountain track.  Any boggy sections are boardwalked.

Great organization

The race is flawlessly executed by a huge group of local volunteers, has great sponsorship that provides impressive prizes and support for elite runners, and still maintains its egalitarian vibe that makes it a fun event for all abilities.  This is a world class event for a world class course, but has the atmosphere and friendliness of a community event.  Perfect.

All these factors contribute to the Kepler Challenge being the most popular mountain race in the country (the field of 400 runners limited by the national park service is filled within a matter of minutes).

On Saturday December 5, I discovered first hand what all the excitement was about.

My race

Race start and finish line

The gun went off at 6am below a nearly full moon that cast a glow on the formidable peaks ahead of us.  The race started out fast and I found myself scrambling to get into good position before the track headed into the forest.

Kristin and I had run on this section of track the day before and it was gorgeous; the lapping shores of Lake Te Anau on the right and lush forest on the left.  On race day, however, I was focused on counting the number of guys ahead of me so I could keep track of how many I would need to pass later on.  It’s fun to pick off runners one by one throughout a race, each one a little victory in itself.  Of course, this mentality can have the opposite effect if you’re the one getting passed, as I would experience later.

The climb up to Luxmore Hut ascends about 3000 feet over 8km.  I was in 4th position at the start of the climb, and before too long caught up to Martin Lukes, the winner of the previous two years.   We had a quick chat about the nice weather and after a few minutes I continued on my way. The two guys that remained in front were clearly after the King of the Mountain prize; an intermediate prize of $500 awarded to the first runner to Luxmore Hut.  I had no intention of trying for it unless it came easily, as I would rather reach the finish line first, not the hut.  Nevertheless, I caught the #2 runner John Winsbury (4th place in 2008) just before tree line and we ran together to Luxmore Hut (1 minute behind the leader) while enjoying the spectacular views that unfolded around us.   At the hut we had our gear checked to ensure we were carrying all the compulsory gear (2 thermal tops, rain gear, hat, gloves, emergency blanket); if not, immediate disqualification.

Running on the tops...

After Luxmore Hut, the course continues to climb another 800 feet or so up to Luxmore saddle, the highest point on the course.  I put some time on John here, and by the top of the climb I was comfortably in 2nd place and within sight of 1st place.  This was the best part of the course… for the next 15km the track followed undulating ridges with 360 views of snow capped peaks and giant lakes.  Bluebird skies all around.  It’s this section that really positions the Kepler among the finest mountain races in the world.  For a good 15km – or 1 hour – you are truly running along mountain tops… racing across the sky.

After a steep descent from “the tops” (as they call the alpine section) the race gently descends the Iris Burn valley for about 15km.  I finally caught the leader, Norman Dunroy, at the beginning of this section, just after the Iris Burn aid station, and found myself in the lead with 28km to go. I was feeling quite confident at this point, and the race was unfolding pretty much like I had hoped it would.  My pacing felt comfortable, my energy was good, all I had to do was not hit the wall.

And hit the wall I did.

After running in the lead for about 10km,  I started to get waves of dizziness and feeling “out of it”.   In other words, I was bonking.  But I didn’t realize it at the time because I thought I had my fueling dialed and I had been taking it in as planned throughout the race.  I kept running through it, not realizing that my run had slowed to a meager shuffle. Then all of a sudden Martin Lukes, winner of the previous two years who I had passed several hours ago on the climb, came charging past me like i was standing still.  It was only then that i realized how much i had slowed down.

As he ran past, he actually slowed down, clearly worried about my condition, and gave me a few strong words of encouragement.  With my senses somewhat impaired and his words forced between heavy breathing, I couldn’t make out half the things he said, but what I did get out of it was this: WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T HIT THE WALL.  Sorry, too late for that one.  DRINK AND EAT AS MUCH AS YOU POSSIBLE CAN. This one took a few minutes to sink in.  But in the mean time, I thanked him for his encouragement (what a nice guy), and he stormed ahead on his way to a 3rd straight Kepler Challenge victory.  He would put 20 minutes on me in the last 15km.

As I forced down a GU and a bunch of water, Norman Dunroy (the runner I had overtaken about 10km back ) passed me.  By now I was I was feeling the reality that not only was the win slipping away, but the race as a whole was starting to completely unravel.  But I slowly started to regain my composure with the additional fuel in my system.  The incoherent waves of fatigue went away, and I could concentrate again on my form and the task at hand.  But the damage was already done; my legs were pretty depleted and I had a feeling the two guys ahead of me weren’t coming back.  Now I just needed to fight to not lose any more positions.  Then John Winsbury passed me and I was in 4th with about 8km to go.  But I didn’t let this get to me.  I knew I was coming back to life and he looked like he was struggling.  I stayed within sight of him, pounded another Gu, and about 10 minutes later I passed him back.

The finish...

I finished in 3rd place in a time of 5:18, which was much slower than I had hoped for.  But that’s how it goes when racing a course for the first time.  You have to throw times out the window and just compete as best you can.  I truly enjoyed being out on the course, experiencing the mountains, running hard, and competing again.  I realize now how much I missed it.

Lessons learned:

I calibrated my fueling (rate of caloric intake) based on what worked in my training runs.  While this was good enough for the first 3.5 to 4 hours of the race (the length of my longest runs), it was not enough for 5 hours of racing at that effort.  I think i was slowly being depleted without knowing it, and completely ran out of gas after 40-42km.

My longest run was 4:20 and only did a few at 4:00.  Most of them were around 3:00 due to the lack of good places to run in Sydney.  I think I probably needed some longer runs in there, if for no other reason than to practice with the fueling.