How to run Cleland 50
Cleland 50 – The Festival of Run! There are no qualification requirements to register for this ultra but race organisers do ask that you don’t take the terrain and conditions for granted. After all, you are partaking in a trail run and the great outdoors as beautiful as they are, they can be unpredictable too.
The temperature at the start line was predicated to be around 1 degree but thankfully the extra cold snap held off and we are lining up with a balmy temperature of 5 degrees; the perfect running conditions. Overcast was forecasted and we got that for 80% of the race and the other 20% well the sun graced us with her glory and heat.
You train on the trails that you are to race on, how spoilt could one be? But not only do you train on those trails, they are literally 5 minutes from your door step so logistically getting to the start line is one of ease, although isn’t it funny how the closer you are to the start line the later your arrival?
Race morning was pretty relaxed; I slept and woke in my own bed, ate breakfast at my kitchen bench and warmed up by just a short run to the start line – yeah, this convenience was not lost on me.
I am slowly beginning to get to know the Trail Running South Australia (TRSA) Community, I am a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to training so I haven’t met too many people via training runs but where I have met the community is through working at BKT-Trail; an independent retail store supporting the trail community whether you run, walk or hike.
The Trail Running South Australia Community is selfless, kind hearted and welcoming not to mention loud and always up for a laugh; these are my kind of people. The organiser of the race, Shaun gets the SA community, his races are challenging but scenic and it’s this combination that has me revaluating my 2021 calendar to make sure I do a few more of this Ultra Series SA plus Shaun likes hugs and despite COVID restrictions hugs were on offer BUT not mandatory.
Pick races that challenge your strengths
From the get go this race was always going to be a challenge; it was very much an up and down race with almost 2000m of elevation. In the words of Ben Lee ‘that’s the way I like it”.
I have always been an uphill specialist, my coach Kellie (Endurance Edge) taught me right from the get go, if you can’t run, just hike the shit out of it. And despite being strong, I need to be stronger. I need to be able to hold my posture taller, engage my glutes and power up and this is my next task; continue to work on my weakness but equally work just as hard on my strengths.
Running your own race
We often hear people say ‘run your own race’ and at times, this is easier said than done. When you are amongst other ‘racers’ in a competitive environment you can get caught up in the excitement of it all, no more so than at the start of a race where everyone seems to just fly out of the blocks and you want part of that exciting action too.
It’s taken many years to truly understand what it means to just ‘run your own race’; to continue to look towards your goal all the while being aware of what’s around you. But there is something, one thing that can derail this, yep the ego.
Ego; that sense of self-importance, that part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and something I have had to learn to keep in check. I am not driven by my ego, instead I am an own goal driven individual who isolates herself to run within and against herself.
I am however at all times aware of the race going on around me, where I am placed, who is in front of me and most importantly who is behind me. It’s my race to be lost should I become complacent and ego centric, this is why the narrative in my head is always looping ‘run your own race’.
When others see a competition and you are just running
I struggle with Parkruns having to be 110% ON for 5km…I know it’s a friendly and supportive environment and not a race by any means but it’s a race against me, against my PB and for that 5km I am battling (but still smiling and never not thanking a volunteer for their efforts and time) to see me ‘run my own race’.
Cleland 50 had me battling for no less than 17km (because second place female was at this point of the race, 200m behind me) which at the time had me momentarily have a FUCK moment but as in any race, short, long, fast, slow the action is still and will always be ‘one foot in front of the other’ until you cross the finish line. I continued to be physical and mentally ON and pushed until with 5km to go, my lead was no longer, I was now in second place.
I had led the way from the start, thankfully not getting lost or taking a wrong turn due to the GPX map loaded onto my Garmin but at the 48km mark, my lead was no longer and knowing the trail, ‘the only way is up, baby’ my fellow competitor was the stronger female out of the two of us and would power past me to finish with a 2-minute advantage.
Disappointed? Of course, I was/am but that’s racing for you. All I asked of myself was to run, there was no external competition in this race only an internal one with me, I was running my own race and having a ball doing so.
The fire is always burning
I haven’t run/raced well since October 2018; soon after one of the toughest and most memorable races to date, Blackall100 my right Achilles had been ever present and despite specialist and daily rehab the body was a little slow to repair so I have been in an uphill battle ever since. But the fire continued to burn, even during COVID lockdown in 2020 (in Victoria mind you) I have yearned to have the racing mentality back again and thanks to a move to the Adelaide Hills in December 2020, that feeling is starting to come back.
I realised at UTA, Blue Mountains in 2018 that goals don’t have an expiry date and despite not having a focussed race or time goal at present, my goal is simply just to run happy, run comfortable and run with confidence in my body and mind. Cleland 50 helped bring these goals together and for that, I am thankful to my local trails that now hold an extra special place in my heart.
Happy to be back on the podium again, finishing Cleland 50 (53km) 2nd Female in a time of 05:53:01 and 8th overall.
Footwear – Salomon Slab Sense 8SG
Socks – Injnji toe socks
Pack – Salomon Sense Ultra 5 Set
Shin Gaitors – Moxie
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