Rogaine (State Champs) 12:00:00  60.1 km (11:59 / km)
72c shoes: O-Roc 340
Hmmm... Lots to write, so I'll start with the important part first, to remind myself if I ever come back and read this later. I do not get any great enjoyment out of rogaining through an entire night. Even when things are going well. I have no desire to do that again (I'm already having trouble typing this by Monday night though...)
This was always going to be a bit of a trip into the unknown. A couple of months ago, leading up the the marathon, training had been going well and I was very confident in my physical capability to take on a challenge like this. The last two months have not been so good and I have only done 1 run over 90 minutes. I have also had some niggles from both my achilles and hip flexors. I hadn't done a 24hr rogaine for 2 years, and that one only lasted 10.
Craig hadn't done a serious 24 for 11 years, so things had vast potential to go pear shaped.
We weren't really sure what was going to be an achievable distance for the event. The bush looked pretty open on the way in, but we were pretty suss that the south west corner was going to be nasty and the setters' comments about random patches of nasty stuff throughout added to the thoughts that there was probably lots of other thick stuff out there too. Given our uncertainty, we had vaguely mentioned the thought of about 100km being achievable, and set about trying to do what every rogainer starts with (I think ;) ) of trying to make the shortest loop possible that clears the course. First effort at this came in at 112km, and with a bit of playing we got it down to 111km. Given that when Craig mentioned one 10km length of his string against the scale on the map and it came in at 9.5ish, we thought that maybe (if the string was uniform) it might be closer to 105km, but we never bothered to check with a ruler or anything sensible like that.
A quick mental check says 6km/h in daylight and 4km/h and we can cover 120km. Sounds overly optimistic given the conditions we were expecting, but decided (again, as I'm sure everyone else does) that we should go for it anyway. In any case, we had some good cut-off options at the end that cout cut the loop by between 3 and 10km without losing any really big points, so there wasn't much else to do for the last 2 hours of planning time other than go and bother Wil and Andre, pretend to take a photo of their map etc Figured I'd better have a little fun before things started, as I figured there wouldn't be much after midday. In hindsight, it may have been an advantage to bee-line it for the SW corner to get through it in the daylight, but that would have meant a more catastrophic ending if things didn't go to plan, and we really weren't confident of finishing the lot, so thought we'd just have to deal with being slow and accurate through that part of the course.
We started pretty well and had a fair bit of open terrain early. The pace felt comfortable. Much more so that I am used to, but I figured this was probably a good thing, given my propensity to self destruct in less than 12 hours. We made it to the second water drop (the first one that we actually stopped at) at pretty much spot on 5pm and 33km in and hit our 40km mark, just heading into the thick crap at 40km, just as it got dark. Over the next 25km, we made several mistakes. Nothing big, and Craig did a great job of figuring things out before we did anything too costly in the dark. One particularly annoying one was when we must have been very close to a control and hit a weird magnetic anomaly that had us walking in a circle before getting re-orientated and heading back to where we started, from where we could pretty much see the control. We were right to be worried about how thick the steep corner of the map would be, as one 500m section took us 15 minutes to hack through.
In terms of navigation, we had a few other errors in really flat non-existent creek systems, but kept moving steadily through the rest of the night. We passed a few of our earliest decision points (Through our 60km point just after #22 at midnight) and still thought we were in with a chance to finish it off, so kept plugging away. I had a couple of worrying aches from my hip flexors when I stumbled on branches and things, but they were well behaved, and by 15 or 16 hours in, was pretty sure I was going to be able to finish things off OK. Blisters had started to develop too, due to the huge amount of crap that was accumulating in my shoes (Didn't realise quite how much until after I finished) and, as expected, wearing the ankle braces was starting to become pretty unpleasant.
We hit the water drop at #53 (about 77km in) where I re-filled my bladder for the last time (I finished with over a litre left, so probably didn't drink enough for the remainder of the race, but it was cool, and I didn't feel dehydrated at any point.) I'm a bit hazy on timings by here, but I cretainly remember the extreme pain of hacking up the hill after the water drop through dead, scratchy rubbish. Really regretting wearing cut-off O pants and long socks, as dragging my knees through this stuff was really unpleasant.
I think it got light (about 0620) around #55, by which time were were well past 80km and committed to seeing our plan through until at least 95km.
Started to feel more confident about finishing things off here, as long as there weren't more of the nasty surprises we hit periodically during the night. We knew there was no way we could pick up the pace to what we had done on the first afternoon, but were confident that we could at least be faster than at night. Daylight naviagtion was clean through to our second last control, where we had the last of several scale fails, reverting to looking for orienteering sized features far too close to our attackpoint, but it didn't matter by then, as we had gradually been pulling further in front of where we needed to be to finish.
Never felt totally physically exhausted while out there, but the last 4 hours or so, my feet were getting pretty tender and I was really struggling to jog due to straining something on top of my foot tripping over a log. My failure to find my car after we finished, my slow hobbling and unintentional nap during presentations suggest I was pretty much spent by the end, so I guess the pacing was pretty good.
Was it perfect? No - but it was pretty good. Yes, we made some mistakes, but we recovered from them well, and Craig nutted out a few where I had vagued out a little and really couldn't be much help at all. And given our lack of experience and rogaine race-hardness I was really happy. One of the main reasons for doing this was that I really wanted to get through a 24hr rogaine, going all night and feeling like I'd gotten things pretty much right, both physically and navigationally. I reckon I can tick that one off now. Whether we won or lost was pretty inconsequential in that regard, but I reckon it was a good enough effort to have won many other rogaines.
Wil and Andre deserve the win. They certainly have the finer points of planning these things down to a fine art and have the experience to know what they are capable of, which probably helps a little with the planning, but they've also got the physical side covered and I'm amazed that they can consistently power through these events, even when they're only a few weeks apart. To top it off, Wil looked half dead before they started and was coughing up gunk all over the place, which makes it even more impressive.
Now, to disregard what I said at the top... What did I learn, in case there is a next time:
- Less carboshotz, more food. Shotz aren't free any more, and stock standard choc-chip muesli bars go down a treat. So do jelly snakes. Jam sandwiches were OK but perhaps unnecessary. Chips are good for the emergency salt hit, but very bulky.
- Drinks-wise I find it much more pleasant drinking Powerade mix that Shotz stuff too. I had some of each, and suspect that I need to be drinking the Shotz tabs for some of the race to keep the cramps at bay (none for the whole race) but the flavour leaves a bit to be desired.
- Don't start too hard. And it's OK not to push so hard uphill if you still want to be going at the end.
- It's nice to have a partner whose navigation is so reliable. I allowed myself a few mental breaks during the night where I just fell in behind, ate and plodded and it was a good break.
- A 6hr Ayup that has a low power mode can last the whole night.
And what could I change so that there might be some way to actually enjoy these things and do a few more?
- Long training runs??
- Softer shoes (the OROCs were pretty good, but I felt it on the track runs)
- Long O pants. Absolute must.
- Debris gaiters or full gaiters. Gotta keep the crap out of shoes to avoid blisters. Not so much of an issue in farmland, but when there is heaps of thick bush, I'm surprised my feet still fit in the shoes by the end of the race. Apart from that, there would have been no blister issues at all with these shoes.
- but most importantly, and possibly most difficult, I need to find an alternative to wearing ankle braces. Would tape be comfortable enough for that long? If I put heaps on, would it provide enough support for my ankles to survive? Not sure, but the amount of pain they cause over the second half of the race, or even the second half of a 12 hour, not to mention how bruised and puffy my ankles are now is one of the main contributors to me not particularly enjoying the overall experience - that and the 12+ hours of darkness, but that one ain't gonna change any time soon.
Will stick route on routegadget soon, but it won't be a GPS trace. EDIT: No I won't. Craig beat me to it.