Friday, 13 April 2012

Day 19………………Not an Inch a Road Runner.

A simple little half marathon was all I had to run today, up a paved road, through the good old Aussie bush. It seems funny to say “just a half marathon” many train for months to complete such a distance and I’m running one off the back of 565km through the mountains, and days of 45 and 60km.

This is not arrogance, but it lead me to thinking what is an ultra-marathon, ultra runner, or whatever else you might like to call it? Of course I know that an ultra-marathon is anything longer than the marathon distance, but does 45km count? If you complete such a distance do you become an ultra-runner, or does that take a longer distance or just more of the same events. Or is it just the fact that you log a significant amount of mileage each week?

I feel the term ultra is being missed used these days; it seems that every man and his dog reports to be an ultra-marathon runner. But, as I like to class myself as one, I base that totally on the 250km weeks I was logging before this attempt, and based on the mileage to date I would consider myself to be named an ultra-runner.

I remember knocking off half marathons on any given Sunday afternoon in 1hr 30mins comfortably, and dropping a further 10 minutes or so off that on race day. But, this morning’s run on the paved road beat me up a little, I would rather be doing the 60km days in the mountains then be running 21km on a sealed road. I never used to notice it when running the road back in Melbourne between trail days. But after spending the last 18 days running for hours solely on trails I could certainly notice the difference. I really pushed it, wanting to rap the day up in that 1 hour 30. But, it was never going to happen, even in the back of my mind I knew it was going to take two.

It was an undulated road out of Tom Groggin up to Geehi Hut where I would be done, and it would be the shortest day since starting this journey. So, why should such an easy day and such a short distance in my terms anyway, be such a slog? I realised that I was not just simply running a half marathon, I was doing so off the back of some high mileage, with serious mountains climbs, with some extremely technical terrain and wanting to be back where I was some six months ago, when I was used to running roads, having the odd speed session and with lower mileage each week. If I really thought about it two hours was good going.

I stopped at a road marker, you know the ones that are thin and you can bend back? I used to use them as catapults as a kid. And yes, I did, and I giggled for five minutes, wondering what had come of me since crossing the border! It was a break from the inner me wanting to make this short run, just that.

As the road descended to Geehi Hut over the next 8km, the road was pounding my joints more than ever, and the niggle I used to get in my right hip came back, just like it did when I used to run more on the road. Have I made a complete switch to the trail? I used to have this dream of living at the base of the mountains and running them every day, complete devotion to them, almost becoming a sole mountain running man. Has it become who I now am, in such a short time, and what would become of me over the next five months?

I made it to Vickie in two hours as I thought, no longer the road and trail runner mix I used to be. I feel like I belong totally on the trail now and I’m happy to slow in down in the name of dirt.

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