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Heavy weekend

The runners gather at Somersby for the start
of the trail run.

The weekend proved to be a test of stamina, and not just running stamina.  It started with the Terrigal Trotters' run "Tegart's Revenge", a 14.5km course, early on Saturday morning.  I expected it to be my hardest run for some time, and it didn't disappoint.  It's not that I went out quickly, but it is one of those courses that has long stretches where you build momentum and then maintain it - good for tempo running - and I regretted not being fit enough or healthy enough to mix it near the front of the pack where I knew it would be fast and competitive.  Still with an underlying anxiety that my heart problem will return, I stuck to my pre-run plan of never stressing myself to the point where I was gasping for breath, but the long sections of concrete path and road were punishing for my unfit legs and I was very tired by the end.  It was a pleasant surprise to find I had averaged 5mins/km pace for the distance which also included some significant hills.

On the early part of the trail run.

The afternoon and evening were then spent at an outdoor rock concert in the Hunter Valley where many of the audience and performers were my vintage, though few looked capable of running 14.5km.  By my standard it was a very late night, and I didn't get to bed until after midnight.

The 4:45am alarm on Sunday morning was unwelcome, but unavoidable.  I was the organiser of trail run with my fellow Trotters and had to meet the bus at Staples Lookout, the finish point, soon after 6:00am for the drive to the start.  At Somersby we began for the 29km run back to Staples along The Great North Walk trail.  This section is a particularly nice run, but the terrain gets progressively harder, and the warm and humid weather had us all soon sweating.  I knew my legs would be tired from yesterday's hard run and that the lack of sleep would take its toll, so I started out very gently, close to last of the 30 runners.

Looking west from Mt Scopus on the trail run.

I settled into a gentle rhythm, my stiff and tired legs gradually loosened up, and I really began to enjoy the running.  I did have a couple of stumbles and two falls, neither of which did any apparent damage, perhaps because I was carrying my feet too low on the technical trail.  I reached the drink stop at 16km in good shape, but aware that the remaining trail was very challenging.  Even though I walked up the steep rocky stepped climbs, they took their toll in the heat and I knew I should have carried more fluids.  My tired legs began finding the descents just as taxing as the climbs, and with about 5km to go I began to feel a little light-headed, struggling to keep my balance at times.  Despite my disorientation, I was aware that my heartbeat was still regular and strong, so I wasn't too concerned.  I pretty much walked the last 3km, which was almost entirely uphill, but that was OK.  My time was slow, but it was a great feeling just to have finished.  I recovered quickly, very happy to think that trail runs of this length were now back on my agenda, even if slower than I would like.

After getting home in the early afternoon, I began sneezing a lot and my sinuses became congested.  It proved to be the start of a heavy head cold which was worse today, so I didn't bother going for my planned walk.  I usually wouldn't let a head cold stop me exercising, but after the solid weekend, I figured it would do more good than harm to have the day off.