How to run Belair Marathon
Still feeling like a tourist in my new home town, I entered into this race not really sure what to expect. I was keen to run another marathon distance as I was enjoying the shorter races although the faster pace was still something I am getting use too (sign me up to a 100km race any day).
The Belair Marathon read well; running in the country’s oldest national park surrounded by giant trees and endless kilometres of stunning trails, this is trail porn if I have ever read it and it certainly did not disappoint.
There were glorious switch backs to navigate, challenging but not too brutal climbs, bitumen roads to keep you honest and untouched by blackberry bushes trails that had you marvelling in the beauty of terrain unaffected by these devastating weeds.
This race was more than a marathon, literally. It’s actually an ultra-distance as it is over 42.2km, officially 43.3km (but who’s counting) with an elevation profile of almost 1500m.
I was unable to download the gpx file of the race onto my Garmin and had only briefly looked at the Strava profile recorded by Race Director Barry McBride so loosely knew where I was going but in reality, I was running blind. I was hoping the course markings were good enough in order to not get me lost and that I was not going to be running solo or leading the pack as I expected others around me to a) know where they were going and b) to lead the way.
In short, I put my race navigation in the hands of others and that of the course markings not really taking any responsibility for my knowledge of the course. Sensible? Hmm not really, you should always know where you are going. Lesson learnt.
Unlike 5 Peaks raced 5 weeks prior, I was tapered for this race although there is always something that troubles you into the lead up to a race and this one was no different.
While at work on the Friday before the event on the Monday I leaned down and felt this excruciating pain in my head namely my sinus that at first didn’t have me too worried but by later on in the evening, my head was pounding and I just felt terrible (no it wasn’t COVID).
Trying my hardest to ignore body fail, I headed to the pharmacy on the Saturday to dose myself up on Sudafed in order to help elevate any issues that might be brewing in my head. I just had to hope modern medicine would work. Lucky for me, it did although even the evening before the race I was not feeling 100% but good enough to know I was in a decent position to race.
Dialled in on nutrition
I have been testing out various new nutrition brands in order to further train and test the gut with different options when it comes to race nutrition. Day to day, I am all for real wholefoods however the consumption of adequate carbohydrates and calories during a race is somewhat easier pre-packaged than created, cooked and wrapped myself.
I call my experimentation the ‘degustation’ of nutrition and to date, it’s all been pretty successful and dare I say it, tasty. The brands I have been experimenting with are:
- Spring Energy (vegan varieties only)
- Maurten gels and drink mix
- Pure Energy Gels
- Skratch Labs Hydration Drink
What do I look for in nutrition?
Carbohydrates! I am a carbs girl, I understand that carbs give me the energy needed to fuel for endurance endeavours and based on the scientific research and recommendations, I aim for anywhere between 30g – 60g per hour depending on the pace and terrain in which I am running/racing.
For the Belair Marathon, my nutrition looked something like this:
- 1 x crumpet with vegemite and avocado
- Superfeast Cordyceps with MSM powder
30mins before start of race
- 1 x Maurten gel (25gms carbohydrates)
Every 60mins during race
- Combination of Maurten Gel and Spring Energy Awesome Sauce (45gms carbohydrates)
- Continually sipped in 500ml soft flasks
- Maurten Drink Mix 320 CAF (80gms carbohydrates + caffeine)
- Nuun Sport Lemon Lime (15 calories)
- 500ml Coke (Liquid black gold strikes again)
Being ‘ON’ from the get go
Years ago, I transitioned from a runner to a racer, I realised I was a competitive soul who wanted to see where a bit of hurt would take me a in a race. Physically and mentally I am always challenging the racer in me, it can be hard to switch the brain the be ‘on’ or ‘hurt’ for the duration of anywhere from 20mins (park run) to 12+ hours (100km) but each race gets me closer to being more comfortable with this feeling.
The goal for this race was to be ‘on’. I could not rest easy for one moment if I was to chase down those in front of me or even those coming up behind me. Physically upon finishing this race, despite fending off a calf cramp in both legs as I entered the finishing shoot I felt pretty upbeat, my fuelling had been spot on which meant I wasn’t chasing energy at the end but mentally, I was a little spent.
I was 110% focused during the race telling myself to constantly keep pushing no matter if I was running on the flat, going uphill or navigating some of the descents. Towards the end of the race I almost felt myself stepping backwards as I waivered in my focus but a quick reminder of my goal for this race, I engaged every muscle including the brain and pushed on forward.
Always a lesson to learn
Each race offers me a new lesson about myself and my capabilities, each race I turn a corner of some sort which will assist me in training and future races. This race taught me how to push just that little bit harder, to find a new level of racer within myself.
This race installed just a little bit more trust in me which after 2 years of battling an Achilles injury has been most welcomed. I am happy to be finding some sort of form again, finishing this race 2nd Female in a time of 04:42:46 and 5thoverall.
Footwear – Salomon Slab Sense 8SG
Socks – Injnji toe socks
Pack – Salomon Sense Ultra 5 Set
Shin Gaitors – Moxie