Saturday, January 18, 2014

Two Bays Trail Run 2014 - 56KM Race Recap

I can't believe a few days week has past since last Sunday's run! Photos and excitement from the event are still flying around Facebook in a flurry - it's as if nobody wanted the day of fun to end. The course photographers did a fab job and it's no wonder everyone's downloading their pictures! :)

I get giddy with excitement when I recall that day and I wished we were doing it again this weekend!

I mean the long run! 
Not at crazy race pace! :D

Group photo with some peeps from Surf Coast Trail Runners.

Date: 12th January 2014 (Sunday)
Venue: Cape Schanck for 56KM, Dromana for 28KM
Time: 7:10am for 56KM, 7:00am for 28KM
Cut Off Time: 8 hours for 56KM, 4 hours for 28KM
Technicality: 2-3 out of 5. 
Difficulty: Easy/Medium. No poles required.

I was all jitters two weeks before the race. I couldn't stop thinking about it while I was doing my training necessary runs. I wanted to ace it (hit my target time) just so I could rejoice and scream on top of my lungs, "YES! I DID IT!" and sing along to Katy Perry's "Roar".

But I had my doubts.

The strategy was to buy as much as time as possible by completing the 1st half in 3 hours, so I would spend 4 hours on the 2nd half if need be. I was sure that 30KM into the run, my energy would begin to wane and my mind would start jeering at me maliciously to be realistic and slow down.

Such is the mind of a quitter!

The problem was, I soon realised as the day drew nearer, that no way in hell was I going to make the 1st half in 3 hours. Let's be realistic, shall we? 

So I told myself to get it done in 3:15. Sounds less stressful!

(Well, maybe it was possible, but I would be too spent to run a good 2nd half!)

We stood somewhere in the middle of the pack before the start line. I believe those in Hawaiian clothes, board shorts and swimwear get the privilege of starting right in front. ;)

There was a bit of a traffic jam just a few metres into the start as runners had to run through a stile / barrier / gate (what do you call that?). Some climbed over while some of us waited patiently our turn to walk through it.

I was stuck behind a small pack of slow and steady paced runners during the first 5KM. It was good for me as I told myself that it was just a warm up and I'll break away after the 1st aid station.

Looking fresh as this was just 1KM into the run. :)
Photo credit: fstop5.

But oh gawd, it felt really slow at some points that I was getting rather impatient!

All smiles at the 1st aid station. :)

That's a lot of people ahead of me!

The next 5-6KM thereafter was a bit better. I kept to the left of the single track as much so as to make way for runners who would want to overtake me.

Somewhere after 11KM - 13KM (I can't recall the exact distance), I had to slow down. There was some guy hot behind my heels so I really didn't want to slow down, but ... I had to.

I had to take a picture to remember this moment.
I think this was along Rogers Road?

There was soooo much sand!

I kept trying to find a good spot along the sides to run. I kept moving as quickly as I could. I spotted the guy ahead of me who kept appearing and disappearing from my sight and really wanted to catch up with him.

But dang it, it felt like this beach was never going to end.

This darn stretch lasted for about 1KM or so!

I soon lost sight of the guy ahead of me and it amazed me just how fast he ran along the stretch.

It felt like an obstacle course!

It was such a relief to find my feet back on solid ground after that crazy workout. Came across Mark and Kathy (not in picture) in their bright red tall hats cheering the runners along. Loved their flip flops. :)

Moving on, I soon arrived at the Goolgowie Street aid station which looked like a rocking party. Drinks and power gel were abundant, there was a guy with a microphone announcing the arrival of runners, volunteers jumping around like energetic cheerleaders, service was good!

Ran along and soon came to the water spray section.

The wicked gleam in their eyes says it all.

They asked whether I wanted some spritz and when I said sure, they proceeded to spritz my face!

Ran past Mclaren's Dam and soon arrived at one of those 'mounds of opportunity'. At KM21, I still felt good and was prepped to tackle it - just walk up as quickly as possible!

Had to turn back to check out the scenery.

The congratulatory sign that greets you once you're at the top of the hill!

I knew I was falling back behind my target time so I hurried on, telling myself to stop taking pictures, geez.

Another hill was coming up and I told myself I'd speed up right after that.

I chatted a little with James whom I recognised from Razorback Run as we trudged up the slope. One guy caught up with us and was about the run off (uphill) but James told him to save his energy as there was another slope coming, so best walk for now. ;)

The 56KM runners were returning to the start/finish line!

Some runners were already on their way back and *cough* how could I miss a chance to snap a picture of  a cute guy? (I later found out that Dion was the men's winner finishing in 4:14!)

Bumped into Chris Roberts and soon I ran past Lucy who went on to be the women's champion in 5:02.

Moving too fast for me to snap a decent pic. ;)

I started bumping into a lot of familiar faces making their way back, Tim, Isaac, Daniele, Siqi, Rosa, Ron, Yuan Chao and many more. Running downhill, I felt reckless without a care for my poor knees but argh, it was good to feel the wind against me as I raced along.

I cursed myself for spending too much time chatting to the volunteers at aid stations (my biggest folly - always!!) and perhaps I wouldn't need to be in such a rush at this moment.

And the whole world chuckles at how silly I look!
Photo credit: Yuan Chao

Bumping into friends making the return journey just made me realised how slack I have been but I felt better knowing that I wasn't that far behind them.

Mr Wong trudges up Latrobe Parade.

Thank goodness it was a downhill slope as I picked up the pace to reach the turnaround point ASAP. 

Flower sisters!
Photo credit: Partnerunning / Andrew O'Brien.

I had not much of an audience when I rang the bell, but it didn't matter. I spent a good 3 minutes or so refilling my bottle and grabbing a gel. James and John (the shirtless guy) soon came in and took a rest.

My watched showed 3:23. Ugh, I had to make up for lost time. (We will eventually note that I was much slower on the return leg. :()

Nothing beats a motivational poster to push you on!

Walking up Arthurs Seat was good, I suppose, to get the biggest hill out of the way first. I spotted Jon in his orange t-shirt from afar.

My Garmin beeped to notify me it was low in battery. I felt pleased that I had brought my power bank so I could charge it, only to realise then and there, that I didn't bring the Garmin cable.Very clever!

Resigned, I chucked my watch into my pocket. The course itself was well marked with distance markers so I knew all I had to do was to keep on going.

Caught up with the O'Briens as we carefully made our way down the slope towards Mclaren's Dam. We chatted for a bit, catching up and swapping past and future running plans. As soon as we reached the aid station, they sped off very quickly, whilst I happily took my time to sip some Coke.

I soon found myself running with Morgan every now and then. 

Morgan didn't bother to pose for me!

We were back at the rocking party aid station and I had a chance to pet the parrot.

I suppose the faster runners didn't notice the parrot. My hubby didn't. :P
Not sure how anyone could miss it, it's so bright!

The snake and power gel fairies!!! :)

I sure hope no one missed these fairies because they were shyly asking runners if they wanted some snakes or gel and it would be rude to ignore them. :)

Hyslops Road is always a challenge for me. It's a long and dull stretch of dust and gravel, nothing much going on. Morgan and I were more or less running at the same pace. I was starting to daydream about hitting my target (*snort*) when he pointed out something to me.

"Look," he said. 
"We have an audience."

I ran towards it with delight, hoping for a good look at its face.

Durian! I mean, Echidna!

It kept scurrying away, refusing to make eye contact. It curled up into a ball whenever I got too close. So cute!

I gave up after 2 minutes and went my way.

Oh gawd, another 15km to go ...

The light at the end of the road was Mark and Kathy, still decked in their red top hats and red flip flops.

I was looking forward to running through Green's Bush because by then, I knew we were halfway through and it was just another 14KM to go.


Unmanned water station.

I like how someone left that orange looking fruit at the edge.

I'm not sure whether I was still running with Morgan at this stage as I eventually went ahead. I was getting psyched to finish the run as soon as possible (not to say I wasn't enjoying the experience) but it felt great to still feel this good that it was scary.

Or maybe I wasn't pushing myself hard enough.
(The hubby is not impressed that I failed to stick to my race strategy.)

I wasn't too pleased that sun was out, as my shoulders were beginning to sting from sunburn. I had forgotten the sunblock.

Carry on now, Yvonne. Let's get out of the sun soon!

I'm not sure what was going through my head during the last 10KM of the run. Elated, I suppose, although I wasn't even sure how well I was going to do. I knew 7 hours wasn't going to happen so I was half disappointed and half not bothered. :(

Photo credit: Benjamin Fox.

Spotting the course photographer amongst the greens shook me out of my reverie and I attempted a jump shot, hoping he would capture it. But nooo. Instead, he reprimanded me for doing such a silly thing, telling me I could have gotten injured or cramps. Sheepish, I admitted that my calves did kinda cramp up.

I was so relieved to spot the 50KM distance marker.

I asked someone (Was it still Morgan? Not sure. It may have been someone else) how much time had lapsed and he told me that it was 6:27. I made a grimace, knowing that there was no way in hell I'd run the next 5KM in 30 minutes.

But there's no time to be angry at oneself. 

I was still going on strong (oh, but let's pop a gel now, shall we) and to think that I was going beyond 50KM ...

I started to feel a wee bit emotional, thinking about how it was possible to come this far. Had to brush away a few tears (which threatened to blur my sight) as I didn't want to trip over a root and fall into the ravine. That would be an epic ending which I didn't want!

I spotted the O'Briens ahead every now and then which spurred me on to pick up the pace. But they kept disappearing from my sight once they turned a corner!

Thank goodness I didn't see a real snake along the trails!

I was getting excited that the run was about to end soon.

3KM to go!

I was so close to the O'Briens that I called out to them, "You guys are seriously fast!"

Only to find them scurrying off so quickly!

Sue hurries off - can you spot her?

Oh bugger the steps.

I asked one of the walkers for the time and he told me it was almost 2pm. I let out a growl.

He consoled me by saying it wasn't too far now.

After 52-53KM, all I wanted to do was run the last 2 - 3KM as quickly as possible. But no way in hell was I going to run the last 2KM in 10 minutes to achieve 7 hours. Nooooooo ....

It was a lieeeeeeeeee ... there was still a KM55 marker after this!

Buoyed by this encouraging sign, I picked up the pace but only to realize that and the end of the tunnel, the lighthouse you'll see was still about 2KM away!!

What a teaser!

The turquoise water was so inviting. I wanted to go diving and see the whale sharks!

Photo credit: Partnerunning / Andrew O'Brien.

Ran past a group of walkers who stood by the side, making way for the runners. Waved my thanks and the guy at the end of the line yelled out, "Two more minutes!" before letting out a chuckle.

Photo credit: Benjamin Fox.

Spotting the yellow arch within 100m was such a great feeling. You could hear the cheers coming from the supporters, preparing you for your grand finish.

I crossed the finish line with no hubby in sight (hmmfh!) and received my medal. Received great bear hugs from the O'Briens and soon spotted the hubby hobbling his way towards us.

I had fun chasing the Couple On The Run!
Photo credit: Partnerunning / Andrew O'Brien.
Two Bays Trail Run, done and dusted! Yay!

Event Summary:
True to friends' recommendations, this event is one that you should do at least once in your lifetime. Why?

1. Fun and crazy volunteers, very helpful, too!
2. You will run past 5-6 aid stations with gel, water, electrolytes and some have Coke!
3. The medal is a bottle opener. (But it doesn't really work, though.)
4. The trail runners are mostly very friendly and encouraging. Very sweet, too! :)
5. Cans of Coke or Lemonade at the finish line. 
6. Great photos from the course photographers.
7. Distance markers at ever km!
8. Silly signs peppered along the route - I love a good giggle!

Some of lovely volunteers at the finish line.

Photo credit: Benjamin Fox / fstop5.

Race Strategy / Thoughts:
Completing 56KM of trails in 7:14 is a completely new record, both distance and time wise. I didn't make it within my lofty target time of 7:00 but at least I was confident about completing it within my comfortable target time of 7:15.

I only have myself to blame for failing to execute the race strategy as strictly as possible - clearly I wasn't as goal-oriented as I was hoping to be. (Stop talking too much to the volunteers and everyone else you ran with! Could have saved yourself 10-12 minutes!!)

If I dwell on this, I'll get depressed and suicidal so let's move on!

I reckon I took 5 - 6 power gels, though I lost count.

4 electrolyte tabs were probably a bit much, but I was drinking more during the last 10KM of the run. When hungry, I would munch on trail mix, which included some peanut M&Ms and jelly beans - a bad mistake. It was weird to suddenly taste jelly beans in mouthful of raisins and nuts.

I was relieved to have had a decent breakfast so I wasn't having gastric / hunger pangs.

Mental Strength:
I was mentally good this time. I even hummed to myself at the beginning of the run (One Republic's "Something I Need"). Though if I could sing a few lines from the chorus, it meant that I wasn't pushing myself enough!

There were a few moments when the million dollar question, "Why am I doing this again?" popped into my head but I shoved it aside and focused on running km after km. Short term goals work better than telling yourself, "15KM to go!"

Frigging Melbourne weather is not to be trusted, and I made the mistake of not putting on some sunblock. As a result, the skin on my shoulders are starting to peel.


A few of us toddled hobbled off to the beach at Dromana's, exchanging stories of blackened toes (much to Siqi's horror) over takeaway coffees and my baked curry puffs. Refueled, we hobbled towards the sand and the boys went off to sit in the water.

I was expecting to have DOMS for the next few days after the race but to my surprise, I was walking fine albeit slower. (Noooooo, did it mean that I wasn't giving 101% for the race? That's baaaaaaaaaad!)

I had to deal with one blister, one blackened toe, two bruised toes, and sunburnt shoulders!

I had tons of fun during the run, probably because I was chatting non-stop to everyone along the way, from the volunteers to runners and supporters. It was very hard not to smile every now and then (especially when some blokes in grass skirts are running your way) as most of the runners who ran past me on the return leg also had super friendly smiles on their faces. 

Elevation profile.

I'm not sure what else I've got to say. I guess a good race is a good way to kick start the new year. :)

It has certainly given me a boost of confidence to take on new and challenging races, provided I work harder to work on my strength and stamina. More hill runs and core workouts - I tell myself this all the time but I am simply too lazy with the latter!

Many thanks for the support and encouraging words from everyone (and newfound friends), and compliments for the pink dress. I hope you had much fun as I did that day!

For more photos from the run, please head on to the Facebook album.


  1. 'I get giddy with excitement when I recall that day and I wished we were doing it again this weekend!' - Sadistic la, that's what you are.

    But congrats on the 56K, not an easy task. Was it 'fun', though? :D

    1. LOL! Probably because I didn't really push until I was cramping 100%, that's why!

      It's fun when you see these fast runners dressed up in their grass skirts/floral bras coming your way, and runners just encouraging you to keep going, volunteers and supporters cheering you on and making you feel like a hero. :)

  2. You made it sound like it's so much FUN!

    No jumping in front of photogs there hor? Aiseh :P

    1. I think I was high on power gel!

      There are crazy poses from other runners, like cartwheels and piggy backs!

  3. Congrats Yvonne, that's look like a fun race.

    i laugh about the Garmin cable fiasco, silly me did that too at TNF Philiipines last year, bring powerbank and forgot the cable, ran the final 9 hours clueless.

    I enjoyed reading your trail races, more running and blogging :)

    1. thanks, Razif!
      it makes running fun when the atmosphere is carnival-like, i suppose.

      hehe, but i don't think my watch would have helped me much except tell me how far I have run - running without a watch and going based on feel is always a good thing, except it doesn't help to push me to go faster. :P

  4. Well done on completing another ultra that surpasses the last one! Getting closer to 100km...

    1. baby steps!
      now i should do 70km, perhaps? :D