Too much but never enough

Speak your mind,

But wait, that is too much!

We do not want to hear,

About your crutch

 

And my crutch is my mind

It flies and it flows

Words fly with it

Sharing what it thinks it knows

 

I reel it in

Like a fish on a hook

But at the last minute

My plan goes crook

 

Out the words fly

Hitting all in their path

Watch out for the deadly

After…. math

 

The guilt is immense

Or sometimes not

At times, it is just passion

Escaping its knot

 

Unravelling me

As I dive deeper still

Join me I say,

Come along for the thrill

 

The voice is there?

In the back of my head

Shut up, tone it down

But it’s already been fed

 

I used to not notice

Anybody’s reaction

Caught up in excitement

Thoughts gaining traction

 

But now all that was natural

Has been beaten into submission

Filled with doubt

Is my new condition

 

Somehow, I am too much

But I am never enough

Years of trying

And I am still not tough


If only my weapon’

Was much thicker skin

But instead, I get

Words mixed with chagrin

 

Maybe one day

I will master the art

Of conversation

Not feel so far apart

 

But right now,

I am doing the best that I can

I guess that is okay

If no one is a fan

 

Different, always different

When will it end?

It would be a little easier

If I could share with a friend

Post-race interview

Welcome back to interviews with myself!

Did the day go how you expected it to?

Yes and no. There were a few surprises out on the trail. For one I did not expect the traffic jam heading down the golden stairs. We were almost standstill for about an hour. It was frustrating but sometimes in big races things like this happen, so you roll with the punches. It was a precarious slippery slide downhill so understandable that people would be moving cautiously down it. Also, even though I was excited for the lead up I really struggled on the actual day to feel enthusiastic.

What was the toughest part?

Stairs. The stairs. About 5000 stairs total in the new UTA 22 course. Furber steps are well known for their relentlessness. Luckily, I had a lot of fantastic companions to traverse them with so mentally it was a great distraction. People have an incredible ability to band together and help each other out in tough times. Its one of my favorite things about trail running. Feels like more of a team effort than an individual one. I can do it alone, but its better with others.

Any injuries or issues?

I was comfortable out there overall. I did have an ankle rolling scare but overall went well and do not have any significant aches or pains.

What was your best moment out there on the trail?

I really enjoyed cheering others on. For me I was not in my best form, but I was enthusiastic in my encouragement of others. It was a bumpy race and I felt like I never really hit my stride. When we hit Ferber steps though I was super proud that I climbed steadily without stopping.

What did you learn from this race?

Great question. I found it hard doing this race in the order that I did it. The fact that I ran my first 50km about 6 weeks earlier. I was struggling with the concept that I could have gone farther and that it was “not enough”. It sounds a bit stupid I know, but I guess I was feeling like I was moving backwards rather than forwards. The actual truth is that I can move in whatever direction I want, I can run whatever distance I feel like whenever I feel like it and I do belong in this space regardless of how much I feel like I do not sometimes.

Were you worried about the driving; did it impact you?

Yes. I drove about 900 kms the day before the race. And It took a bit of energy out of me. Ideally, I would get there earlier next time and set myself up for success. A girl can dream. I may consider flying at least. Or I may be living closer than I was now. It did not stop me though!

Anything you would do differently?

Honestly considering my lack of training I am happy with my performance. But I really like to walk up to the start line feeling like I have respect for the race and my body by being prepared. So that is a goal for my next race.

What does your post-race recovery look like?

I go for the three S’s every-time: Sustenance, stretching and sleep. Getting some calories in post-race is important. I had a big meal that was full of carbs and protein. I went for a cool down walk with my dog and stretched out my legs a lot. Then I had an exceedingly early night and got a huge sleep. The body uses sleep to repair everything.

Will you be back?

Heck yes, I will be back! Potentially 50 or 100k next up! Or if anyone wants to join me, I will do the 22km with a friend.

What is next for you?

Great question. Honestly, I think I just need to take a moment to recalibrate and rest. I have a lot of things to sort out and some big changes ahead. But I am already looking at races near the end of the year and early next year. I am interested in both another 50k and my first 100k looking ahead. Again, I will need to honor the distance and my body and go into it feeling somewhat prepared.

Any advice for someone out there who is reading this and would love to do something like this?

Yes definitely. My biggest advice is probably that I think 22kms is a very achievable distance for almost everyone. If you are interested, then I would go for it. The great thing about UTA is it is a very accessible event, the cut off times are generous, and the atmosphere is electric. You can walk and eat and talk and laugh and have a great run!

If anyone has any extra questions let me know!

Pre race interview

The questions answered, before you even asked them…

Welcome Beth, first of all can you tell us about what race you are doing this weekend?

Thanks so much for having me here, I am doing the 22km trail race at Ultra Trail Australia (UTA)

Where is this race? What sort of terrain are we looking at?

Its in the Blue Mountains in NSW, which I am not super familiar with. The terrain is going to be lots of stairs from what I have read. It has got about 910+/- of elevation so it is going to have some hills!

Why are you doing this race?

Well, there is two answers to that question. Both why I am doing THIS race and why I like to run long distances at all. Firstly, UTA has been on my bucket list ever since it came on my radar in my early days of running. It is a world class race that attracts a lot of different people. Obviously, this year it is mostly an Australian field but its still a hugely popular race, tickets sell out super-fast.  To answer the second half. I am running this race to test myself, to feel the fire that is inside me when I push myself, to have a great day out in nature and to have fun.

What is your goal for this race?

Well truth be told I am not as prepared as I would like to be for this race. But regardless of that I am excited to be a part of it. My goal is to finish the race, to not be last and to not be injured! I like to keep it simple.

What are you most excited about for this race?

Honestly, I am excited to cheer everyone on! And the views, I am always keen for the views.

What sort of gear are you carrying for this race?

Well, there is a list of mandatory items that all runners must bring. Including potentially a rain-jacket and thermals depending on the weather which fingers crossed will not be an issue. Its going to be cold but I am hoping for a blue-sky day. I will be mostly fueling with spring energy gels and potentially some fruit and nuts.

Is this your favorite distance?

It is a funny story, but I have never actually run this distance in an official capacity. I have done it on training runs though. To be honest, I am expecting the race atmosphere to fuel me more than the runs by myself in my neighborhood during lockdown did.

You mentioned your training has not been where you want it, what has that looked like for you?

Well, when I first booked this race back in 2019, it was supposed to be my first trail half. But COVID had other plans. I did a 50k just under 2 months ago. So, I have had about a 6 week in between stage. I have mostly been doing shorter training runs when I can fit them in. But I have done some long runs and some higher intensity runs. The thing that has really been missing from my training has been the hills. But I am a strong hiker so I think I will be okay with the hills. Talk to me after and I may not feel the same way…

What does your race day breakfast look like?

At this point its looking like some porridge washed down with a red bull. I struggle to eat in the morning so no promises for what I will be able to keep down.

What is your worst fear for the race?

Honestly for me its probably that I will sleep in and miss it. For me winning is about showing up and giving it a go. Sometimes other factors are out of my control and that is okay. But I will be setting a lot of alarms for the morning!

We heard a rumor that your dog will be travelling with you, is that true?

Yes, it is true. I swore on my last holiday that I was done going places without my bestie, so he is coming with. Of course, he is not allowed in the national park so he will be staying at home for that one. But we will be going on a fabulous cool down walk together and that means the world to me. Helps me stay moving in post-race recovery and he is a great road trip buddy!

What does your lead up to this race look like?

It looks like 10 hours of driving unfortunately. Due to circumstances out of my control I will likely have a bit of a driving hangover. But at least my legs will be excited to stretch out on the trail. And I plan on having a good sleep beforehand.

How would you describe your running style?

I am not super majestic, I just kind of clomp around until I reach the finish line. I tend to hike my hills and hammer my downhills and flats, like a lot of trail runners.

What would you say is your greatest strength as a runner?

Probably my positive attitude. And my resilience, both are essential in running and in life. I may not have had that much race experience, but I have had some life experience that has helped shape that.

Do you have any last inspirational words or mantras?

One of my favorite quotes to lean on when things get tough is “Only you can decide what breaks you”. I also tend to tell myself to keep smiling and to just put one foot in front of the other. I really try to stay in the present and not think too far ahead or that can be a bit demoralizing.

Well best of luck for the race, we are sure you will smash it!

Thanks so much for your time!

As one door closes……

I finally did it. For those of you who know me, you probably know that I have always worked somewhere. Since I was 15, I have had the same job and always been employed there. I am now 25, so it has been nearly a decade of working for the same place. And I loved that job as much as life itself.

When I was in high school and I wanted to upgrade from my first job-a paper round in my neighborhood. I applied at a chocolate café at my local shopping center. I was so excited I could barely sleep the night before my first shift. When the day finally arrived, my mum dropped me off, so proud of me for going to my first “real” job. We were shown a whole bunch of things, and I was busy trying to get the hang of everything. I was only 14 and 9 months at the time. Not even 2 hours into my first shift ever, the manager of the business came over and told me that it was not going to work out, I just was not picking up how to make pancakes fast enough (jokes on her because I make incredible pancakes). But at the time I was absolutely crushed. I had to call my mum to come pick me up early and she was confused on the phone, but I managed to hold it together. By the time she picked me up out the front I immediately started bawling as I told her my sorry tale. She was comforting and told me all the right things, like that woman did not know a good worker when she saw one.

A week later I had recovered from my incident and I decided to get back on the horse. I applied for local jobs. I got two interviews almost immediately. One at the local supermarket, and one at a local fast-food chain. I went to both interviews, but I picked the fast-food place simply because they offered me a job first. Once again, I was super nervous for my first shift, but I need not have worried. My trainer was lovely, and I got many training shifts before I had to venture out on my own. Even after that I had a lot of time to adjust to my new workplace.

I threw myself into it wholeheartedly, a classic Beth, is what I would call it. I was not enjoying high school a whole lot. Just like primary school, high school had become clique and I did not fit in. I was no longer teased for being Canadian, but I was apparently still different. Too loud, too enthusiastic, and just generally no one’s cup of tea. Hard to believe at a school of 300 people per year level. Scouts, my extracurricular, just was not doing it for me anymore also. I had broken up with my ‘’on again, off again’’ ‘boyfriend’ and he was probably most of the reason I had been doing scouting. At home I was coping with helping my mum out a lot around the house due to my dad having left a few years earlier.

Finally at work, I had something that was completely mine. This was my world. And I rocked it. I worked fast at a hustle pace non-stop. It was chaotic but once again absolute signature Beth. I was always willing to help, cover a shift, start early, or stay back. Work was a world I understood. I knew what I needed to do and when I needed to do it. I had work friends who I could talk to and felt part of something important. It meant the world to me.

Within a year, I was promoted. I officially dropped out of scouts and threw myself at work. I even preferred work to school. I kept doing school of course, but it was only so I could go to work afterwards (sad I know). I studied work procedures the same way someone studies for a test. I was always doing extra credit stuff for work. When I got my heart broken for a second time, I just kept working. When my best friend stopped talking to me, I picked up more shifts. Started doing all my homework at the library and getting more work done in class.

My mum by this point was thoroughly sick of dropping me off at work and picking me up, but she was proud of my achievements as I continued to gain recognition and awards through work. My best friend joined me at my job, which was so fun! Of course, I was all about the work. No time to talk when I am busy working. But I enjoyed sharing my world with her, nonetheless.

When I finished high school, I took a few weeks off work to go visit home. My trip in Canada was fantastic and so nostalgic. By the time I arrived back I was booked into a management course on my birthday. I was so excited! I took a gap year and took a huge step up in my job. It now became a full-time thing. I was challenged in huge ways. I had to learn to deal with crazy things happening on my shifts and I was the one responsible for it. I had to deal with people, people, and even more people. People in every direction. I like to think that I had it all figured out in that first year, but honestly that was just season 1 Beth….

I loved my job so much by this point. Despite the long hours, the crazy shifts, the constant chaos of the workplace, I still loved it. I loved it despite the burgers thrown at me, the customers that made me cry and the junkie I had to call an ambulance for. But I had to make an incredibly tough decision. Did I want to climb this ladder and see where it took me? Or follow a different dream, one that I had always had, and go study at university the degree I had gotten into but postponed for the last year? The decision-making process was not easy, it never is. I thought about it for months. I was so lucky to be offered two fantastic opportunities. Ultimately, I went for the riskier choice. The more unstable, wild, life changing decision. I chose to move 5 hours away to do a degree in horses even though I had barely been around horses my entire life. I had been riding while working on my gap year and had done some courses, but I was a complete newbie to the horse world. Still, I think I am an adventurous bold spirit, whether I have always had that, or it has been forced upon me, I am that person.

I do not regret my decision for one second. I had a ridiculously incredible time at uni. I grew and changed in many ways. Becoming truly independent and facing even more challenges that I had to learn from. The piece of paper means absolutely nothing to me compared to the experiences I had because of my decision to go to uni. And as for my job? The people and friends I left behind? I somehow ended up in an arrangement where on my breaks I would come back and work with them again. It worked well, I got to see my family and catch up with all my Melbourne friends, while still earning money on my holidays. And I did not have a job for most of first year, so it was incredibly handy. Even when I got a job at up there and put down more roots, I still regularly returned home only to slip back into my old life. It was comfortable, familiar, and fun. It was hard to keep up at times. Not having practiced my skills for 52 weeks a year I struggled at times, but overall, I made up for it by working super hard and showing up as the same high energy human I had always been. And I got to keep a piece of my heart close by.

When I finally finished my degree, it was only natural to keep working at the job I had always loved, rather than the toxic one I had at university, although I loved that one too, despite its flaws. So, I returned, not really having any idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Yes, I had ideas, but how to implement them? Before I could even draw breath on what I was about to do next, the pandemic hit the world by storm. Taking away most opportunities anyway. I huddled down, stayed put (because there was literally no other choice), kept working and did a ridiculous amount of self-work. Looking inside myself to find out who the heck I was, why I was this way and how I wanted to be in the future. I found out I am an incredible human capable of many things. I learned that I love my own company and can be my own best friend. I learned that I do not need to have everyone’s approval if I can accept myself. I spent a lot of time figuring out myself. I have not got it all figured out even now. But I am grateful for the time that I had and that I was lucky enough to have work and a roof over my head during a pandemic, many others were not so lucky. But as much as I still loved my work and put my full effort in, I was no longer thriving in the way I once did. It was essentially my choice but work was no longer a challenge and I was no longer climbing the ladder. I still enjoyed helping develop people on the team, but began to feel irrelevant and outdated. And so I was at yet another crossroads…

I began to regroup out of lockdown, and tentatively think about doing something else. So, I did some more halfhearted applications, not expecting anything of it. But to my complete and utter shock I received two interviews and two job offers, both in different cities but similar roles. I will admit I was not even excited at first. I am so comfortable in my discomfort that it has become a rock for me to crawl under and pretend that my future does not exist. But I know thanks to all my self-awareness that I need to step into my next challenge. So, after weeks of agonizing, I said yes to something and put myself back out there. I am not just dipping my toe in either. I am diving headfirst into a new city, a new industry, and an entirely new life. It is terrifying.

But I have been scared before. And I have taken the big risk before, I can do it again.

The hardest thing? That I did not anticipate? Quitting the job that I have now held for a decade. Saying bye to a workplace that has been a second family to me. Sometimes I love them, sometimes I hate them, but they are always there for me, and me for them. So many people have come and gone, so many different chapters of Beth have worked there, so many memories that I will never forget. I am so lucky to have had that.

Farewell old friends, because of you I am now an absolute boss, and I am about to go out there and smash this thing called life. Thank you for being a part of creating that.

Miss you already,

Beth

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 10)

My last day in Tasmania *sighs*. Feels like an age ago now, pretty much has been. But got to finish one adventure to begin another, or so i’ve been told.

Cool things I saw on my last day. Lots of bikies getting onto the spirit of Tasmania. A whole flock of geese on the side of the road, a really cute kitty cat, lots of cows, really cool stacked firewood piles-yes mum I was thinking of you, a mailbox fashioned out of a horse feed bucket, so many gorgeous roads and trees.

The day started with rain yet again. Tasmania certainly does love its rain. While I also love rain, I do not enjoy the packing up in the rain part. I won’t lie and say I was eager to get on the road. Similiar to yesterday, I was feeling a bit legless with fatigue. But I knew I would still see some beautiful things today if I managed to get my show on the road.

Once packed up and ready for my day I drove to a roadhouse, knowing the general direction I wanted to head. Once there and eating breakfast I got to googling. Sitting on my phone in the dry of my car trying to figure out where on earth I was going to go in the rain. I picked a waterfall to chase and headed off. It really wasnt far so I got there in no time. Did a short walk and walked around what had to be one of the biggest trees i’ve ever seen. Even in the rain, I appreciated Tasmania once again and all of its beauty as I wandered.

My next stop was a bit more of a challenge but eventually I picked a Gorge that had very good reviews. It was a bit more of a drive but the drive was stunning. I had my first maccas in over a week because I just couldnt resist as I wound my way to the gorge. When I arrived, there was a small walk to the gorge which was definitely a stretch for the legs. Lots and lots of stairs. But I got to the first lookout and the view was breathtaking. I took it all in.

I descended further down what felt like a million stairs before arriving at another lookout. The mosquitos came for me then, which was motivating for me to move. The next lookout was lower but still beautiful. I would definitely recommend this as something to see if you are in the area. It is called Hellyers Gorge.

I was a reluctant traveller by this point. I had squeezed so much adventure into my ten days and so much beauty I was beginning to feel numb to it all. But regardless I was still incredibly grateful to have seen yet more of beautiful Tasmania.

Once I climbed back up to the car. I sat on a picnic table for a while, absorbing the nature around me and reflecting before reluctantly getting in the car. Despite exhaustion every step that led me closer to home was hard to take, I never was good at goodbyes.

I spent my last few hours in Tassie organizing my car, getting a rather delicious dinner at Zambreros, and then eating my burrito on a beach in Devonport as I watched the ferry sail in. I slept hard on the way home and woke up in Melbourne.

What an incredible adventure. Tasmania, I will be back.

For those of you who have been reading along, thanks for coming!

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 9)

Alrighty. Two days left, lets finish this series, it has taken me long enough.

This was a hard day for me mentally. I was starting to feel a little bit homesick, missing Finn and knew that all the major highs of my trip were over and that I was going back to some tough weeks. All of that was hanging over my head.

I did not set an alarm for the morning. I deserved a sleep in after yesterday’s effort and so I did sleep, for about 12 hours. I had plans of lounging on the beach with my banana lounge and reading my book. But it was not a particularly warm or sunny day when I awoke. I packed up and left my home, the first place I had stayed two nights in for my entire trip in tassie. So, it was the closest thing I had to home. I almost thought that this was to be my last day, but I was not booked on the spirit until Monday night. So, two days for some R and R.

First up on my agenda for the day was a good breakfast, which was more challenging to find than you might think. On my way into town, I wandered into a farmers’ market. I mostly browsed; I saw lots of people walking their dogs which just made me miss mine. I went to three cafes in town and none of them had anything I felt like eating which is crazy. Eventually I just gave up and left town to go to the beach which I had ran through the day before. A sleepy little town called Boat Harbour with a beautiful beach. It was the beach I ran across at the halfway mark.

I ended up giving in and getting a fish and chips by the beach, it was incredibly bougee though and not all that great, but it was food, and I was very hungry by that point. Afterwards I wandered along the beach barefoot and confirmed how freezing the water was which only made me not feel like swimming even more. Yesterday mid ultra-I wanted to jump in, but today I was feeling less hot as I was not in the middle of running an ultra. Go figure.

After the beach, I drove along the coast towards the Nut (see above). Got yet again more petrol and ice and a lady at the petrol station also driving a RAV4 asked me what sort of petrol to put in her car. I traversed the other end of the 100km race. Driving all that way really highlighted how far it was. On the way I drove past a campground and checked it out as a potential place to camp for the night. It was on a beach and you had to pay a small fee to stay. It was busy so I was not sure if there was a lot of options for me. I continued driving and reached the quaint little town of Stanley.

When I got to the car park at the base of the Nut, I was faced with a dilemma. The Nut is a volcanic plug, a huge rock formation jutting out into the ocean. There was both a chairlift to the top, for a short fee of course and there was also an option to walk a steep path directly to the top. Even though I would have full permission to catch the chairlift. I decided to walk, maybe I am insane, but I cannot resist a good summit. I was not as sore as I thought I would be post run, but I still moved slowly. Going down was harder than going up. Did two and a bit kms slowly. It was the highlight of the day, the view of the north coast from the top was beautiful.

When I got back down, I was still determined to go for a swim in the ocean sometime today. I drove down to the beach and jumped in the water. It took a fair bit of effort, but it felt refreshing. When I got back to the carpark, I observed a lady in a brightly painted van cooking dinner with her doors and windows. Her dogs lounged, one of them outside in the grass and another inside on a bed. They looked so completely at home and happy.

I drove back to my camping spot I had scouted earlier in the day and set up. I had more space than I had at any of my other spots and was sheltered by the trees, which made it feel semi safe. I wanted to go watch the sunset, but my tired legs just did not have it in me. The challenging part of being on the road but with no real go in my legs post-race. It is hard to explore when you do not feel like moving as much. On the plus side I was not as delusionally tired like I was earlier in the trip.

I finished the day sitting out on my chair eating my wrap as the sun set. Listening to the sounds of nature around me and recording the day’s events on my voice recording. While I talked to myself, I made a list of all the things I was grateful for. Because today had been a hard day mood wise, I needed to practice gratitude. Here is what I said to myself that day:

“I’m looking forward to getting the photos off my camera, I think there will be some really beautiful ones.

I am grateful for my podcasts.

I am grateful for the freedom and confidence to explore and travel solo, I think it takes quite a lot of guts, so I am proud of myself.

I am grateful for everyone who supported me and congratulated me on my ultra.

I am grateful for all my feelings; all the places I’ve seen on this trip and all of the people I’ve met.

I am grateful for my badassery of asking myself what if. What if I CAN run 50kms? And turns out I can. So proud of myself, even though I was underprepared and questioned it 1000 times whether I should drop down and do less distance. Although I still would have struggled through the 25 without a doubt. At least I knew I was going to struggle through 50ks, no illusion there. Incredibly happy that I did it. Ticked off a big item on my bucket list. Excited for UTA but not keen to a 50k super soon. Been good to get out of my routines and shake it up.

I really like living like this, despite feeling a little homesick. The planning aspect is hard, but I really like this. “

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 8)

`”GONE NUTS”

“When it’s your Time, is the goal to leave behind a well preserved body, or do you really want to use it?” -Billy Yang -The Why-

Groggy. I was groggy when I woke up. But the day awaited me and I wasn’t about to snooze the alarm. My anticipation and nerves got me out of bed, I’m a little surprised that they let me sleep at all. I knew I needed food, but that was the last thing I felt like as my stomach roiled. I had some caffiene to look alive. And snacked on a random assortment of foods. Really I knew I should be eating something hearty like porridge but my time and options were very limited. So, I winged it, not probably the wisest decision, but the only one I had.

Luckily I could leave my camp set up, and simply get changed and leave my stuff there. I dressed warmly, as it was cold at 4am. I drove the short way into town, listening to some tracks to pump me up as I went. Leaving my car I had to make final decisions about what gear to take with me on the bus, as I would not see my car for many hours. In the end I probably took too much clothes, only because it was so cold and I would have froze at the startline without my longsleeve. And of course raincoats were mandatory gear, although there was absolutely zero need for them that day.

Loaded onto the bus, I breathed a sigh of relief, at least I had made it this far. Everyone was in different moods, but I laughed at an overly exuberant girl who was chatting to the lady in the seat next to her. She was very much like me. I wanted to pipe in on their conversation the entire time but thought the better of it. Funnily enough, I ended up talking to the young girl when we got off the bus. I never saw her again though after the start line. She had never run a trail race before, or run further than 20kms. I thought she was brave and maybe a little crazy. But I saw her later on the race photographs, and she made it to the end. She looked like she had been through the wars, but she had made it.

There was a wild line for the three portapotties they had deigned to place at the startline, not enough for about 160 ultra runners who needed a nervous pee. I got in first luckily. But I groaned looking at my watch, we had 45 minutes before the start of the race, and it was cold. What did they expect us to do with 45 minutes? Eventually they lit a fire, which everyone huddled around desperately. But time went slowly as I made idle chit chat with others. Finally it was time for the breifing and we huddled around the start line. Although it was still so dark I wasnt sure what direction we were even heading in.

I dont even remember what signal they used to set us off, but everyone started moving and I figured that was my cue. It was a relief to finally be moving, to be starting, to be going somewhere. And the start was easy as we ran down a wide gravel road, the group stretching out as we went. I spoke to myself out loud to slow down, as the starting pace as everyone bunches together can be a bit wild, and I knew I was going far too fast. I found a nice break between big groups where I had space to run and just chilled there. Another lady joined me and we started chatting, I was feeling confident. And then we hit the single track. The gravel road sloped down towards a spectacular sunrise as runners started to wind up a rocky track that led into the hills. That was the end of most of my conversation as all of our concentration went into the trail before us. And so we climbed.

I was hot very quickly. Layers stripped even as the air was still cold. The sunrise over the water was blindingly beautiful. The power of the sun indicating we were in for a pretty warm day with blue skies ahead. There was someone in front of me, and someone behind me, but it didnt take long for the group to spread out severely. I was definitely at the back of the pack already I knew. And before long I was essentially alone out there, which was how I would spend most of the day. A fact that surprised me in the moment.

I gave in on listening to nothing but nature after about an hour and got my earbuds out to listen to my book. Despite being in my own little bubble, I was not in paradise, I was tripping on the narrow single track as I went, and i couldnt stop tripping. I faceplanted once. Then continued to try and avoid tripping, to which I was deeply unsuccessful. My frustration grew and I was swearing as I continued to make my way. Ive run a lot of single track, but no one so narrow and overgrown that only one foot could fit directly in front of the other. I ended up walking some of it, just to save myself from breaking my ankle too early in the race, that would not be a worthwhile way to end the day.

It just went on and on though. And so did I. Plugging away at the first 10kms. Finally the track widened out and I was so excited to actually stretch my legs and find a bit of stride. Some others were with me and we all enjoyed the openess. We both encouraged the other. “Girl you are smashing it” they said and it made me smile. Made me remember to smile. This was my day. And I wasnt going to let some trippy roots stop me from having a good time. Shortly after the trail opened up I found myself running across a beach, then the beach led back up a rocky trail, then back onto a beach, and so it continued.

About 20kms in, I came through a small township, and found my first aid station run by the firehouse in the town. I filled up my water eagerly and grabbed some lollies to much on as I continued on my way. From there I ran on some road, I enjoyed road running for the first time in my life because of how easy it was to put my feet down and find an even surface. Although I was in deep doubt the entire time that I was on the correct route, luckily enough I kept seeing the telltale pink markers every now and then that signalled I definitely was. The oddest feeling was just passing all the normal people going about their daily walks while I was just casually struggling past them.

Getting to the halfway mark felt like a grind. I was eager to reach the point but the trail had other plans. Namely a few rocky beaches that really tested my sense of self preservation. It was very dicey going in terms of foot placement, and often I picked a rock only for it to move on me unexpectedly. When I did eventually stumble into the aid station, running to look like I was trying. I was very excited. I didnt stay long though, I was afraid if I stopped moving that I would never start again. While I was there I overheard a guy dropping out. It hadn’t even crossed my mind, so onwards I went, after grabbing some potatoes of course.

I ran across the beach, doing my best impression of an ultra runner as I passed many beachgoers who cheered me on. But I could see that the only way out of the beach was going to be up, and I was not looking forward to it. I began climbing again, and at some point I came back down, the second half of the race was set mainly on private property that was totally innaccessible to the public. I was excited for this section of the course, little did I realize how brutal it would be to run on literal paddocks.

I could go on and on about this second half. I was starting to feel the struggle by the 25k mark thats for sure. I was expecting it too as I had never run further than that before. But the next 25kms were some of the toughest mentally that I have experienced in my time of running. It went on and on. I scrambled down sideways on single tracks that my feet wanted to murder me for. I hammered my knees on the downhills, too tired and letting gravity take me. I had my head down as I climbed up millions of grassy tracks, convinced that I was going to run into a snake as the sun beat down heavily. In hindsight I had a little bit of heatstroke. I ran down gravel roads and past cows, through sown paddocks and random side of paddock areas. At one point I reached an oasis of chocolate and ice and gatorade and I stuffed my bladder with the ice, loving the freezing cold water it produced.

I saw very little others during this time, and I didnt have enough energy to really do anything other than nod in acknowledgement. Getting out my phone was an effort. And I decided not to really update anyone until I was closer to the finish. Climbing yet another dusty switchback that had me slipping and sliding through the trees, I promised myself that I just had to get to 40kms and then it would be all downhill from there, I mean not literally, but surely the last 10kms would be a breeze, I knew I could run 10kms, was my rationalization.

My weary butt stumbled into another aid station with a little over 10kms to go. I was fighting negative thoughts left right and centre. An old dude I had been chasing since the start dropped right out. He was done. I had no idea why but I walked out of the aid station and kept going. I celebrated at 40kms, but it was far too premature. I passed a couple and they said it would be cruisey rolling into town. I believed them, but in my opinion it was not çruisy at all.

The paddock tracks destroyed me, I know what paddock ground is like, and these were anything but even. Every single step threatened to roll my foot in a new direction. Pain lanced through my feet and through my entire body. I jolted along awkwardly. Running and singing for a bit to keep my morale up. To get across the fences we had to climb these little step ladders. I couldnt lift my legs high enough to get over them. And jumping down on the other side I winced hard every time.

Town was finally visible as I left the paddocks and I was excited. So close. So close to the end. A runner passed me and I was so in the zone that they scared me. They were flying. “Good job, good job”. I almost stopped in shock as I realized the first of the 100km runners was overtaking me. They had started at the same time but 50kms behind us. And he was running like he was fresh out of the gate. A wave of imposter syndrome hit me like a ton of bricks. Who was I to be out here thinking I could actually run? I was just a glorified walker. I would never be that fast, that effortless. But this race was not going to beat me. I was going to finish this, even if I had to crawl across the finish line.

I hit the river as I came into town. And I will be honest, any other time I would have loved it. But I loathed that river as I followed it further and further inland, leaving the coast behind. Every step I took I could see that I would have to come all the way back down the other side of the river. And I just kept thinking that surely I was about to cross it. But no, on I went. I started walking, but that hurt just as much as running, so then I went back to running but it looked more like hobbling at this stage. Each footfall was a stab through my body no matter what pace I was moving at. I stared longingly at dead leaves and forest on either side of the trail, thinking all of it looked like a good place for a nap.

I crossed the river at last, knowing pretty much that it was a long way back down the river before I got to the end. I started crying softly as I went. Exhausted and spent. I looked at each new tree and tried to get to it. Then would set my sights on another tree. Finish line thoughts and mental stubborness kept me going. I would never tolerate “almost finishing” a 50k. That was just not what I wanted. Not after this. I fantasized about jumping in the river too, it was still so hot, and I was sweaty everywhere. But my fate was to keep moving. Finally I recognized my surroundings, and my pace increased a tiny bit as I saw my car in the distance, and knew I was almost there.

I pounded the concrete through town, knowing what lay at the end, finishers already walked away, heading home. I ran through the gates at the club, and the soft grass of the oval greeted me as I finally saw what I had been longing for the last year. The finish line.

New energy flooded me and I ran. I gave everything I had left on that victory lap around the oval. The announcer was commentating as I came around. They actually got my last name right, for once. The sheer effort of it brought tears to my eyes as I neared those arches. Ten more metres, then five, then two, then nothing. Finally I stopped and stood still, fully sobbing as I put my hands on my knees and braced. A microphone was shoved in my face and a photo snapped, I remembered to smile. How was that? I was asked. “Hard” was my response.

They asked me a bunch of questions and I felt like I was some famous ultrarunner. Not just a random mid pack runner who had struggled through her first 50kms. I stopped to take it all in. I did it. I made it to the end. It was somewhat unbelievable even with all the evidence in front of me. I limped to the car with my medal around my neck to get some change for a coke. I sat on the grass of the oval and drank my coke. Absorbing the finish line atmosphere and cheering other finishers on. Sitting down for the first time in about 10 hours. The ground had never felt more comfortable.

I was cool fast. And with no one to really talk to and fatigue setting in, I headed off. I called my mum, and then a friend, to tell them of my adventures. Back at the caravan park, I attempted to shower but basically sat down in the shower for 20 mins before finally taking my shoes off and marvelling at my filthy feet.

I got a hearty pub meal for dinner and got an early night as my body was screaming for rest. What a day.

Hindsight: Overall I am incredibly proud of how well I handled this race. I stayed positive even in my darkest moments. And I handled my pain cave with mental fortitude and resilience. Part of the reason that I decided to do this was just to see how I would react to being in a tough situation mentally and physically. Given some of my life has been painful and hard to endure, I drew strength from that. Looking back I do think this was one of the hardest things I have done in my life so far. It could have been made easier if my training and leadup had been better, partially a timing issue and partially a me issue, given that training for an ultra while always on low battery is going to be hard regardless. But I came out of it with no injuries, just a little bit of soreness and importantly, I want to do it again.

Listening to my voice recording of the day from that very day over a month ago now, I finished with a “Fuck yes, go me!” Which I think just about sums it up.

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 7)

Cradle Mountain –> Launceston –> Wynyard

After the huge day of hiking previously, we were entitled to a small sleep in. We got up around 8.30am and made quick work of packing up in the frosty morning chill. After settling up at the caravan park office, we dressed for walking and headed straight down the road to the Dove Lake carpark. However we were dissapointed to find a locked boom gate with no access. Instead we had to drive back to the visitors centre and catch a shuttle bus to take us down the narrow roads to access Dove Lake. It turned into a bit of a drama because of me. I forgot my parks pass in the car and so when we had lined up and had to present it to the get tickets for the bus, I did not have it. I got all flustered and then we had to walk back to the car to get it and line up again. Eventually we got onto the bus, after my fun overreaction. I like to think I add spice to the simple things.

What struck me the most while visiting Cradle Mountain was just how well the infrastructure had been set up for this world heritage area. For the thousands that visit it, they had really set it up so that they could protect the area and the people visiting it. But personally I really did not enjoy that we could not explore at our own pace as much. I also dislike large tourist traps. I am impressed by Tasmania’s National Park culture though. Clearly they spend a lot of time and money maintaining them.

After all that, arriving at Dove Lake the views were very pretty. The world heritage area is rugged and pristine with huge towering rocks over the alpine lake. Once again though, Tasmania showed me that it was a windy place. The weather being what it was and our legs being in the shape that they were, we opted for a simple circuit of Dove Lake. An easy and well maintained boardwalk that gave us some nice views of Cradle Mountain. A summit was in my heart, but I still had to run 50kms the next day and we had a lot of driving to do still and not a lot of time. Perhaps I will return one day to do one of the summits around Dove Lake.

The walk was simple, and sweet, and very beautiful. I challenged Tash to come up with new words to describe the scenery as we went. We finished it in good time, and it was a great way to stretch the legs. I did not envy those going up even higher to windier wetter areas.

My next stop was a reluctant one. After another car boot sandwich lunch, we headed off towards Launceston. Out of the mountains and towards the city. I still had a few hours left of driving so I let Tash drive herself to the airport. Hard to know what to say at the end of a few days of exhausting adventures which had some trying times to say the least. Roadtripping is an intimate activity but overall if you can tolerate living in a car with someone you can probably tolerate anything.

The airport drop off was practical and short. Tash was off for a fun weekend and I was already mentally absent as I tried to prepare myself for the next days activities. I decided with myself, in my head, that this was not an ideal lead up to my first ultramarathon, but also that this was what I had chosen, so I would have to face my fate regardless. I drove north, not knowing where I would stay when I arrived in Wynyard, and a little bit worried that accommodation would be booked out due to the race. I was worried for no reason though, and I found a super cheap caravan park that was happy to put me up for the night. The lady at reception was so nice, and even had a gorgeous dog.

Once camp was set up, I went off to get some supplies for the next day, and to get some dinner. The North Coast was different to the East and the South. It was very rocky, but a different type of rock, that I would experience a lot of the next day in the Rocky Cape National Park. I was excited to see more of it.

I wandered town for a short time. But knew I needed to get an early night. So after packing all my gear for the morning in the boot of my car using my headlamp, I headed to bed. It was not early enough I thought, as I set my alarm for 3.30am. Before I went to sleep, for motivation, I watched Billy Yangs youtube special on “The Why” where he runs 100 miles. It definitely inspired me and mentally I felt ready for the next day, if not nervous.

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 6)

Liffey Falls to Cradle Mountain

I sighed as the alarm went off. Yes even on holidays I set alarms, I just be out here without a body clock of any sort. Welcome to my life. It was wet again when we got up. Just a light rain, but a little frustrating given I had just dried everything out the day before.

Once again, Tash was the perfect helper for packing up. I would 10/10 take her anywhere again. She is a worthwhile team member to take places. We rolled the swag-a team effort on either end and had a rough breakfast. I didnt quite get breakfast right for this trip, but I struggle with morning eating anyway so its hard.

We were underway not long after. Rattling out the road on the gravel. It was nice to hit the smoothness of paved roads again. Before not too long we hit Deloraine, and I already had an idea in my mind: small town bakery. So I found one with ease, we had a second breakfast. I tried what was essentially a bacon and egg pie, it was incredible.

The drive into Cradle Mountain was a treasure in itself. Huge towering outer mountains loomed on the bright sunny morning as we drove in. It just made me want stop and take photos every 10 seconds. Instead we took a quick car photo which is one of my favorite photos of the trip.

But alas, we had a mission to do. As we entered the mountains the weather changed drastically. By the time we reached the carpark at cradle mountain it was raining and deeply overcast. The beautiful day was gone up here in the mountains. We lined up at the visitors centre to talk to the rangers. They said that the visibility was about 40 metres and extremely windy and cold. After a brief discussion we decided it was just not worth it. The wind in the carpark alone threatened to bowl us over. So we decided to drive out of the mountain again, back to the sunny day on the outskirts. We decided if we couldnt climb the mountain we wanted to, we might as well climb one nearby. And the beautiful mountains on the edge of the range were still a worthy challenge.

We set off in the early afternoon to attempt to summit Mount Van Dyke. After a quick sandwich lunch at the dam. We packed some snacks and water for the trip. Tash sang bad Taylor Swift as we walked up the road to the trail. But quickly the singing ended as the path took us up. Straight up. We were panting and sweating pretty fast. Many breaks were had on the way up. The leaves were slippery on the path as we climbed. After about an hour, the trail changed, turning into a steep rock scramble. It was nice to have something different to focus on, and we could tell we were getting much higher due to the insane wind whipping through the trees. I was beginning to think maybe we had bitten off more than we could chew.

As we started to reach what we assumed was the summit, we reached a new challenge, instead of the endless climbing with pounding hearts and burning legs. We faced a very overgrown track, scratching at our legs as we tried to figure out where the path went. Turns out it went on and on. Huge boulders were on either side and we started to see some obstructed views as we peeked through them. But as we continued on, we had no idea if we were anywhere near the summit, the mountains seemed endless. We attempted to go off track at one point and climb up but that was a fools errand and we returned to the track. The wind was like nothing ive ever experienced up there as well. It took all the heat from our bodies and also threatened to throw us off the edge. Running out of light and with no end in sight, we decided to call it a day and head back. We had been hiking for a few hours, and the way down was perilous even in full light. We looked for a safe spot to have a snack but the wind was everywhere. Finally we were just too hungry so we just ate right there on the track, at the beginning of some of the boulder scrambling on the way down. There was no view, just the alpine forest surrounding us on all sides as we chowed down on salted nuts and m&ms. We made it back down a few hours later, and followed a creek trail back to the car, it was beautiful and peaceful, and a stark contrast to the harshness of the mountain. We found out later that we never made it to the summit, we were close, but not quite there. It was a decent hike none the less.

I decided that we deserved a pub dinner after our adventure and my suggestion was greeted enthusiastically. We drove into the pub and it was absolutely packed. Clearly a hot spot for the locals. The food was delicious and the people watching was spectacular. We were fully knackered by the end of it though. The adrenaline well and truly wearing off and the food coma setting in. Its a a feeling of deep satisfaction I find, when you have exerted yourself physically and pushed yourself.

We didnt get far out of town before we pulled over and swapped the jeans for pajamas. We had decided that even though the weather on the mountain was terrible we would drive back in as that was where our accomodation was for the night (a caravan park spot 2 metres x2 metres), and that way we would have close access in the morning to the mountain. It was about a 45minute drive though, so we settled in. I of course, put on a dog training podcast.

Upona arrival, the setup was swift, and it was heaven to take off my contacts in front of an actual mirror instead of using my rearview. We hopped into bed with relief. And left some of the flaps of the swag open so we could stare at the stars. The cold was no joke but the view was incredible. We knew we had made the right decision coming here.

TASMANIA ROADTRIP CHRONICLES (DAY 5)

Hobart –> Mt Field National Park –>Liffey Falls

I was extremely reluctant to get out of our very comfortable hotel bed but it was for a good cause. We packed up mostly in silence as we got organized. Walking back to the car we scored a morning coffee and breakfast. We had planned to eat on the way up to the mountain but turns out the drive up was no match for our appetites. We were more than finished by the time we arrived at Mt Wellington, we had debated walking up but I am glad we did not.

Once again Tasmania made it clear that it was serious about its wind, I could barely open my car door thats how strong the wind was. I added several layers before removing myself from the car, an act that was deeply necessary. The sunrise took our breath away.

We said goodbye to the coast today, and I would deeply miss it. All of the beaches I had been to in Tasmania I had loved, but I would return to the coast once I journeyed North. So we wound our way into the hills. Stopping to get some fresh raspberries and raspberry jam for the road. The scenery though, was a bit derelict-as Tash described it. A lot of houses looked like they could use a coat of paint.

After not too long of a drive we arrived at Mt Field National Park, we were the reluctant adventurers as we sat in the car outside the visitors centre. Finally we rallied and gathered ourselves for a walk. I was rather slow even though the trails were easy and moderate at best. We wound around the rainforest, passing waterfalls as we went.

Tash powered along the trails ahead of me while I struggled to move at any sort of signifigant speed. My legs were a little tired and my enthusiasm doing the same. But nature is always the winner and before long we were warm and chatting as we walked along and as a bonus found a few less crowded trails.

Food was very much needed after the kms so we prepared our picnic then sat in a field-appropriate given the national park we were in and its name. As we ate we watched some people playing disc golf and practicing throwing frisbees, I thought of Finn and of our disc skills.

I feel like we never really saw the true inside of Mt Field, as we were very much on the outskirts of the vast forest. But we decided to carry on instead, keeping it as more of short day stop than a sink your teeth into it kind of vibe. The only issue was I had no idea where we were going next. I knew that we had about 3ish hours or more to Cradle Mountain, the next days destination. We sat furiously googling free campsites in an attempt to find somewhere on the way. Eventually I reluctantly picked a spot on a lake and we began to drive towards it to check it out.

Tash napped as we drove through rolling hills as I listened to my book about thru hiking. Winding our way into what could only be described as the “middle” of Tasmania, although signs described it as the central highlands. More rocks started to appear as we approached the spot, and finally we wound our way towards a lake. We arrived though, to a weird vibe. The site was mostly weird old caravans with fencing around them, and it seemed deserted. And it was not even free, it was a 3 dollar fee. We did an awkward lap around but I was not feeling it. It gave me murder vibes. So we drove back out again, still no idea where to camp.

Back out on the main road, we began another research attempt. Tash found a place that sounded and looked decent so we plugged in the new destination. Finally well and truly sick of driving, I allowed Tash to take the wheel and it was a much needed break. Coming out of mountains I hadnt even realized we were in, the views were “pretty” as Tash would begin to describe everything. Sheep dotted pastures like grass. When we finally pulled in it was a very different vibe. Heaps of nice empty flat spots along a beautiful creek and travellers just like us, camped for the night in a van, tent or even a hammock. We made quick work of making camp, although Tash had to watch me reorganize everything in the car again while she helped dry out the swag, which was still soaking wet from the bath it had taken in Fortescue Bay.

A wooden sign on the edge of camp pointed to a waterfall, Liffey Falls it read, 3 hours return. So we headed off down the track towards the waterfall. Not knowing what we would find. The track followed the creek all the way, and it was a stunning walk. The last little bit I ran to the falls when I could hear them, so excited to reach them. Clearly my legs were not too tired to chase waterfalls. We sat for a while just breathing them in.

It was hot work all that hiking, even as we raced the sunset. As the light left the forest we dipped ourselves into the water. It was so cold that for a moment I couldnt breathe. But it was invigorating in every way. Luckily we still had a few more kilometers to traverse before making it back to camp, so I hoped it would warm us up as we went. The headtorch came out now, as it was hard to see anything in front of our feet, and it was a highly trippable trail.

Finally we made it back and prepared yet another good sandwich dinner, before getting into warm pajamas and crawling into bed. Another day done and dusted. Sleep took us both quickly.

"Until one has loved an animal, ones soul remains unawakened"