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Some people never learn

Berowra Creek

After little sleep (got up at 2:45am to watch the Rugby World Cup final), I left home at 5:30am and drove 45 minutes to Brooklyn station and caught a 6:34am train to Hornsby where I started running soon after 7:00am.

I was planning to run the 42km along the Great North Walk trail back to Brooklyn to check it out before the Trotters trail run I am organising along the same course in two weeks time.  The trail has a reputation for being gnarly, with lots technical single track, and I wasn't in a hurry, so hoped to finish in six to seven hours.  It took me over nine!

Going off course at one point cost me 20-30 minutes, and I was nursing my right heel on the descents, but that doesn't explain the delay.

I have a well-earned reputation for not carry fluids when I run.  I do find I don't drink nearly as much as other runners, but know that on hot and humid days even I need to do some drinking.  I thought I was addressing the need by carrying a litre of watered-down Powerade in my new Salomon pack, knowing that water was also available at several points along the track, and maybe even a store.

Berowra Water in the background

After the first hour the temperature, which had never been cool, climbed rapidly and the sun blazed down.  The technical track was wearing me out and by half-way I was feeling very tired and had been sweating profusely the whole way.  The next section included some tough climbing and my running slowed, my right hamstring threatened to cramp and I drank what fluid I had, dreaming of a store and cold Coke and Powerade when I crossed the highway at Cowan, the 30km mark.  Alas, no store; just a water bubbler on the railway station that issued a trickle.

Jerusalem Bay

At this point, I had the option of catching a train to Brooklyn and bypassing the last 13km of trail.  However, this seemed like a cop-out, so I drank as much as I could of the tepid water and took a litre with me.  I suspected there was going to be a lot of walking in the last section, and I was right.  After the descent to the scenic Jerusalem Bay, I got to the point where I couldn't really trust my legs any more on descents, nor did they seem to have the strength to climb the rugged hills.  My neck and right shoulder were aching and I was not in a good place.  I could feel I was badly dehydrated, and cursed myself for not preparing for the forecast conditions.  Based on how well I performed in a very hot 50km trail race in Canada a few months ago, I knew that if I had kept drinking today, I would have been travelling faster and with less problems.  Apart from some shuffling here and there, I pretty much walked the whole of the last 13km, and even found that very tough.

I was a happy man when I got back to my car, though unhappy that it had taken me all day.  The right heel that has been bothering me, was sore, but it always is at this distance these days.  I'm hopeful that I haven't made it worse.  Next time it's hot, more fluids!