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Ultra-Trail Australia 100km 2016

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Ultra-Trail Australia 100km 2016

Unless you're a pro or one of the elites, you too are likely juggling a myriad of responsibilities that affect not only your available time to train, but also your general stress levels and associated fatigue, immunity and general health. I'm of the opinion that lots of runners run too much given their other responsibilities, so it was refreshing for me to prove (to myself if nobody else) that to balance your overall stress (be it training, work, family etc) less running can actually be a good thing.

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The 2016 Adventure Plan!

2016 is upon us, and I've again inked in some events which I plan on tackling over the next 12 months (and perhaps pencilled in a few others...don't tell my wife).

The first six months is focused on Ultra-Trail Australia in May, specifically the UTA100 event. After what was (for me) a solid first crack at the iconic Blue Mountains course in 2014, I have high hopes of chipping a chunk of time off my 2014 result.

As a lead-in to UTA100 I will again be running the ridiculously spectacular Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon (SMMM) across the ditch in New Zealand (Feb), followed up with Running Wild's Mt Solitary Ultra (MSU, Apr), which covers a section of the UTA100 course (albeit in reverse) as well as the peak responsible for the name of the event. SMMM and MSU will be "B" and "C" races respectively, with the eye always being on UTA100. That said, I'm particularly excited about having a trot on the MSU course, given I have run both UTA100 and SMMM previously. Opportunities to run new courses and locations are what really get me excited.

My second half of the year is less clear, but I have plans to atone for my DNS at Great Ocean Walk 100s (GOW100) on the Surf Coast in Oct. My back was extremely unkind to me the week prior to GOW100 in 2015, which saw me laid up on the couch instead of flying south to run, meaning I missed the chance to run on what has been described by many as the most authentic 100km ultra in Australia. Much like Mt Solitary, the Surf Coast is somewhere I haven't run previously, so I'm uber-excited to see the area and put last year's disappointment of missing out behind me.

If last year proved anything to me, it's that even the best laid plans can come unstuck, but body and circumstances willing, I'm hopeful of having a fun and adventurous 2016 of event running.

What are your plans for 2016?

See you out there - Juddy

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GOW2015 - Race Report (yes, you are reading this before the race that won't be)

This blog has been barren for months - a lesser priority in a long list of to-dos - but there has still been plenty happening. One such happening was signing up for the GOW 100km trail run on the "shipwreck coast" in Victoria.

Fast forward several months. I type this blog from home, shortly after what should have been my departure flight time from Coolangatta airport. But I wasn't on that plane, and until yesterday - heck, this morning - didn't know that. And the only thing that keeps going through my head is this particular line from the ever-insightful Step Brothers:

For the previous 11 weeks I had been training purposefully for this year's GOW100s event, by all accounts one of Australia's most scenic ultra-trail runs and one which I had been eagerly awaiting. I had been patiently balancing training, family life, work and race directing easing back my running when other commitments took over, and grasping the opportunity to train more heavily when I could. I had been smart (some would say for a change).

Week 11 - last week - began with both my children developing nasty coughs and fevers. Week 11 - last week - finished with me having possibly the worst case of man-flu I have ever had. Not pleasant sure, but not race fatal. It was a concern for me, but given I'd already banked all my training I just bunkered down and rested.

Wednesday of race week - as in yesterday, as in 3 sleeps to race day - involved taking both kids to a kindy playground. I chase our kids around parks all the time. I have experience here.

And yet yesterday, on reaching down (in hindsight awkwardly) to collect our ducking-and-dodging 1 year old daughter from the ground, my back went into spasm. Badly. I couldn't stand back up straight, and it didn't improve. I spent the rest of the day either lying awkwardly on my side in the only comfortable position I could find, shuffling around like Quasimodo, or laying on a Chiropractic table in an effort to right the wrong I had done to myself.

It didn't work.

I gave myself a very early night last night in the hope that a good nights sleep would see me wake up somewhat improved, with the plan being that as long as I could at least stand up straight I would get on my flight to Melbourne and hope for the best come Saturday.

I still can't stand up straight. So I wasn't on that flight. And I won't be running on Saturday.

So what happened? I have no fucking-fuck idea.

I play with my kids all the time, and stuff like that doesn't happen. Perhaps the past week of laying low trying to get rid of the man-flu left my back unhappy and prime for a tweaking. Perhaps. Perhaps not.

The lost flights and accommodation doesn't concern me - it's only money. I'm bummed to be missing the race, but the opportunity to run GOW100s again will hopefully present itself. The biggest frustration is for the previous 12 weeks of being smart, balancing my life to get my body in great shape to run 100km, and then within a moment - 3 sleeps out from race day - it's all for nothing.

The racing of an ultra is simply the last piece of a large puzzle, and I had worked tirelessly getting the rest of the pieces to fit, only to drop the second-to-last piece over the edge of no-returnsies. There are so many sacrifices made in preparing for an ultra, but none moreso than that of your own free time, and the "time with you" that you steal from your family when you choose to train. Ultra running is a selfish sport, and the selfish pay-off for that is the massive sense of achievement on crossing the finish line, knowing that all that stolen time resulted in something. Except this time, all of it amounts to zip. Donuts. Nada. And that sucks.

So what happens now?

At this point I have no idea, other than to work hard over the next day or two to stand up straight again.

I'm about to sign up for Ultra-Trail Australia for 2016, and I'll be running the Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon again next year, but between now and then running-wise I don't know. I kind-of don't want to waste the last 12 selfish weeks of training I've just done, but there aren't any races in the coming month that really suit my schedule - I'd love to have a crack at Blackall 100 next week, but I'm already away elsewhere that weekend so it's not an option. So I don't know.

This isn't intended as a sob-piece, and I don't need your sympathy. I'm venting frustration, sure, but if this is the worst thing that happens to me this year then it hasn't really been that bad a year. I'm alive, my family are healthy (except for a few coughs), and generally I am too.

I'm not sure what lesson the universe has tried to teach me this week, but I'm sure there's some overriding message I'll take out of all this with a few days hindsight. But for now, my question to the universe is this:

"What the fucking-fuck?"

And on that note, I'm going to go lie down (on my side) and watch Step Brothers.

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