On Sunday I finished the Woodford to Glenbrook Classic. It is a 25km trail run for Careflight in the beautiful Blue Mountains of NSW, starting at Woodford train station, running along The Oaks Firetrail and finishing in Euroka clearing at the bottom of the trail. This event is open to both Mountain Bikes and Trail runners, with the Mountain Bikes heading off at 9am in waves with the runners starting at 10am.
We left the house early and dropped the kids off at the Grandparents for the day before the drive up to the Mountains. It was close to the coldest day so far this winter and the winds were really strong. So we were really rugged up with multiple layers. We arrived in Glenbrook early and were able to get a good parking spot close to the train station. We made our way to the platform to get tickets and were able to catch an earlier train than we had planned.
We arrived in Woodford all warm from the train and quickly realised it was much windier and colder up higher. We were wishing we had spent some more time in the car. In an effort to warm up, and because we still had well over an hour until our start, we grabbed a coffee and headed up to watch the Mountain bike start.
The bikes were away about 10 mins late (they had to clear debris off the track from the wind) but it was interesting to look at the different bikes that people ride now and try and stay in the sun to keep warm. As it got closer to our start, we made our way down the hill to strip off the warm clothes and hand over our bags to be transported to the finish. It was COLD! So I left my new wind jacket on for the start along with arm warmers underneath. I tried to start my GPS watch and it wouldn’t turn on. The battery hadn’t charged properly overnight and it was flat! I was so annoyed with myself but there was nothing I could do about. We headed back to the start and I said goodbye to Matt and that I’d see him at the finish. I knew I’d be on the slow side so hung around at the back of the pack.
It took a while for me to cross the start line once the gun went and I eased into the run pretty nicely. I didn’t start to get warm until around 5km (I am guessing here). So I took off the wind jacket and tied it around my race for the rest of the run. The arm warmers came off not long after and went into my back pocket. I was feeling pretty good and didn’t need to walk until the first really steep hill. I walked most of the steep hills in the first half of the course because I just wanted to make it to the end and since I had no idea how I was going pace or distance wise I decided not to push it. The first time I asked someone how far we were we were at the 11km mark. I was happy I was almost half way. It was also at a hard part of the course and just before a drink station.
I remembered the “high point” of the course from when we used to mountain bike along the trail at just over half way. I confirmed it with one of the fire service volunteers (great effort by all the volunteers on the day). It was then that I got to the continuous downhill section which felt awesome. I felt like I had really hit my stride with my breathing even and my pace steady. I finally saw the 10km to go sign and felt happy but I was also starting to get tired. My longest run was not much further than 15km prior to this so I guess that wasn’t surprising. I just kept going though and found myself with a few other people running around the same speed as I was. It was great to have perfect strangers all supporting each other to get to the finish with a conversation or two here or there. Sometimes it’s all you need to keep you going to the finish.
With about 6km to go, my knees started to really ache across the fronts of the kneecaps. I have never had pain like that before but I was simply trying to push through it. Towards the end I was asking people far more often how far I had to go as I got more and more tired. About 10m from the 2km to go sign, my left knee decided it had had enough and buckled. I had to walk for a little bit to see if I could get the pain to ease up, but it wouldn’t. I thought I could quite easily cry at this point but I didn’t. I could now hear the loudspeaker at the finish which was enough for me to want to keep going. Despite the pain I decided to run again, albeit much slower than before. One of the people I had run for the last 8km or so with let me know when we were nearing 1km to go and to check on me which was great and made me keep my legs moving. At last I could see people and cars etc. through the trees and I was so happy to be nearly there. I didn’t even care what time I was crossing the line with, I was just glad I got there. Then as I got closer I saw Matt and gave him a smile and a wave. It was only 50-100m past him to the line and I just kept going.
I crossed the line, exhausted, but so happy I had made it. I then went and sat in the sun with Matt and he let me know my (rough) finish time. I couldn’t believe I had made my 3 hour goal. Yay me 🙂 We had something to eat and then I hobbled my way down to wait for the shuttle bus. It was taking so long I just sat on the ground to give my aching knees a break. I was so exhausted I swore never to do it again. But now, two days later, with my knees and legs still aching, I am thinking I might train for longer distances and give a half marathon (a flat one) a shot at some point. Never say never!