How to run Tower Trail Run
Running tourism. It’s amazing the places the simplest form of exercise can take you. Our most recent trail race, a race part of the SA five 50 ultra series had me road tripping across South Australia to Mount Gambier, 425km from home. This short but sweet weekend away reminded me how much I love a road trip; car snacks, planning the mandatory 2 hours rest & revive stops and singing car karaoke to play lists you spent hours putting together. In 2020 we basically had our wings clipped however things are looking a tad brighter in 2021 and we have a little more freedom to spread our wings and fly, or drive in this case.
Apparently, I was taken to Mount Gambier on a family holiday when I was little, by little I mean around 40 years ago. We visited the sink hole and walked around the Blue Lake. My fading memory is struggling to recall this holiday (much to the disgust of my Mum) but I made up for it over the weekend as I travelled to this township for The Tower Trail Run where I ran around the Blue Lake a total of four times.
No harm in repeating a good thing
The 56km course was made up of four 14km laps and for some people this type of race conjures up thoughts of boredom but for me, I was a little excited about the opportunity to see where each lap took me and just count them down until I was comfortably on the last lap.
Despite running the same course, the terrain and environment did change because nature does not stay stagnate, not for one second and with each pass through the finish/start area, you learnt to reset and notice that the course and environment around me transform right in front of my eyes.
When we started at 7am, the sun was rising, sitting comfortably on the horizon in her yellow and orange glow. During my meditative warm up I just stopped and appreciated the glory we were about to run into; today was a perfect day to run. As we ascended the course you looked out over Mt Gambier to see the morning frost just settling on the town; another moment of appreciation was felt. I wished to take actual photos of the changing landscape but reminded myself that I was racing so today mental photographs were taken in which I look back on and smile.
Work towards a goal
I had done my research on this race; I had looked at previous results and despite not knowing the runners, based on my times of similar elevation and distance I estimated that each lap would take me around 90 mins. It’s good to have some idea of where you are aiming for, it gives accountability and as an athlete and coach, I believe setting these parameters are crucial. It turns out my predications were just about spot on.
No two races are the same
Makes sense, right? You are racing in a different place, on a different course, at a different time so we can’t expect to race the same as we did the last time we lined up on a start line. I am only learning in 2021 how to run a 50km ultra race; they are very different to a 100km race. They are faster and for me, this is something I am still learning to get use too.
I’m the tortoise not the hare; I endure with a consistent semi comfortable pace so am learning to find comfort in being uncomfortable; I’m beginning to like it too. I’m learning to quieten the voices in my head that scream STOP and just keep bringing the focus back to the moment, to each step and try as hard as I can to focus on that. Its bloody hard but then again, I remind myself that I don’t do this for it to be easy, I do this to grow.
Push pain aside
I couldn’t tell you the last time I got a blister, actually I think it was 2017 during the Great Southern Endurance Run (182km) or any feet issues for that matter. I have been extremely lucky with the combination of both shoes and socks however on this run, I started to feel an uncomfortable blister on the left inside ball of my foot. I felt the pain become more present in my mind, it started to bother me, I was focusing on it and then I realised, I was giving the pain a voice.
I was not going to let a blister derail my race or change my running form, it was only then, around the 20km mark I made the conscious decision to quieten down (ignore) the murmurs in my head and set aside the pain I was experiencing. It was only when I took my shoe off at the end of the race that I remembered that I did in fact have a blister, the process of setting the pain aside had worked.
As I build my physical strength, I am constantly building my mental strength too and the strategy and implementation to be able to set aside pain was proof that my hard work is paying off.
The strength of women
There were three women that finished in the Top 10 and out of a field of 55 runners, 21 were women. That’s something to be proud of. I feel proud to be running in such a supportive field of both men and women; the beauty I have found with running more in SA especially these regional races are; there is no ego just 100% support and encouragement and pure admiration for the efforts you put into making the race something special.
When I finished the race, a little high on caffeine I might add both the women I shard the podium with; Dannielle Vanderfeul and Anna Mitchell each came up to me and congratulated my efforts, not to mention a few of the men I was racing alongside with too. I couldn’t help but continue to smile, this race overflowed my cup with happiness and appreciation, this sport is more than just running; it’s a community who build you up.
The course marshals & volunteers
100% made my race. As I came through on my fourth and final lap I couldn’t help but give thanks and praise to the men and women on the sidelines who gave kudos and much needed support each and every lap. From the two gentlemen at the top of a hill who I joked with that I was loving the hill so much I would ‘come back and run up it again’ to the team of volunteers who said ‘they would miss my smile’ as I race past them for the last time. A race couldn’t be run without these selfless individuals whose guidance, support and just general chit chat is essential to any race so as I did on the race, I put together my hands and give my race thanks for helping me achieve my goal.
Keep on stepping up
I am stepping up onto a podium more often after a race which is a good feeling, I like these steps but I don’t expect to always be up on there. The last time I felt this good running/racing was October 2018; it’s been a long time since I have been both mentally and physically consistent with running and I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.
Despite the step on the podium (1,2 or 3), I am just happy to be rewarded for my training efforts. The Tower Run saw me finish 3rd Female in a time of 06:07:58 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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