Long run day woohoo

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Our timing is on track! this is today’s run.  We want to be doing 25kms in 4 hours.  This was 3 3/4 hours running just on point!

Today’s food was thick sausages ha ha yum.  Loving the pace, I feel like I could run all day like that…..oh wait we will be LOL

Next week we are taking ourselves down to the mountains to run the only section of the trail we haven’t done so far.  The plan is to run for 4 hours.

A delightful swim afterwards in the bay.  Cool salt water so refreshing.  Came home and had a nana nap after breakfast and a shower.  Never want to get out of that shower, there’s something about that delicious hot water running over your tired body.

Then made some absolutely delicious ice cream  mmmmmm LML!

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More hills and stairs

Today our training consisted of 9.6kms of 4 hill repeats and then 4 stair repeats.  And then a delicious swim in the bay.  We are very fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world.

Each time up the hill trying to run further and further before stopping to hike.  My quads and knees were certainly getting a workout.  It was super humid so sweating a LOT!  I used more water than I usually would on such a run.  I was glad of my running pack.

My running pack is new a Salomon 15L (has a 1.5L capacity water bladder) is so great I love how it hugs my body and doesn’t ‘flap’ around when I run.  There are many pockets for extra bottles, phone (to capture runs on Strava), mandatory gear and food.

There is quite an extensive mandatory gear list for UTA100.

Thermals – long top & bottom made from polypropylene or wool (no cotton)

breathable rain jacket

beanie or buff

full fingered lightweight gloves polypropylene or wool

high vis vest

headlamp

small backup light source

mobile phone in working order and fully charged

compass

whistle

emergency space blanket

compression bandage

lightweight dry sack

water bottles or bladder up to 2L

food portions/bars

ziploc bag for rubbish

waterproof map case

long leg waterproof pants

100 weight long sleeved fleece top

course map, emergency card, full box of waterproof matches, firelighter block, race number and timing tag (all provided by organisers)

this mandatory gear list has to be checked and signed off prior to race day.  If the weather looks like it’s going to be fine then the organisers relax the need for waterproof jacket and pants.

One thing that is a recommended item is wag bags.  As we will be running predominantly through National Park these are kind of important.  When we hiked the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) last year there was a lot of inappropriately disposed of ‘stuff’.  And our training area has multiple opportunities to use public facilities but in the mountains wag bags will be our go to for #2.

This morning when the alarm went off I thought “Oh no!” but once we are out there I just love it! especially the swim at the end.  This reaction still surprises me as all my life I have resisted running and declared my inability to run.  I have never felt more alive.

Low carb love

I thought that maybe people might want to learn about what we eat.

So I thought I would provide links to the recipes I use.

so here is the Bacon & Egg Quiche recipe I use.  So I always thought when I saw the words ‘heavy cream’ in a recipe that it was thickened cream but in the USA it’s just pure cream!  I cook it in a rectangular dish so it’s great to carry while running.  mmm yum

We are both pretty no fuss creatures of habit as far as breakfast goes we have bacon and eggs every single day.  Having said that I made myself a vegie scramble today as I just felt like something a little different.  At the moment I am still working night duty so I need great nourishing snacks and my go to snacks at the moment are either Low-carb chia breakfast Cinnamon coconut is my fave or Fennel and Ginger Grain free granola both on the Ditch the carbs site linked below.  The granola is very fiddly but soo worth the effort.

The other great low carb/keto recipe sites I have found are Mad Creations, Wholesome yumDitch the Carbs and Low Carb Love.  They all have different great recipes.  I just pick and choose depending on what I want to make at the time.

Mad Creations has THE BEST keto ice cream recipe that is sooooo easy and so creamy.

I have also rediscovered my slow cooker, in fact, I purchased a bigger one $35 at Woolies.  Can’t beat that right!.  There’s nothing better than chucking all the ingredients into the slow cooker, set & go and come back to a house filled with awesome aromas!

So two books I use a lot are Easy low-carb slow cooking by Robin Donovan (subtitled A prep-and-go cookbook for ketogenic, paleo & LCHF diets) and low-carb meals in minutes by Linda Gassenheimer cause my beloved likes to be able to prepare meals with a minimum of fuss and time.  He is a great cook and does probably 60% of the meals in our home.  I like to make bitsy, fiddly things like Mad Creations’ savoury crackers or chocolate caramel slice.  So we are a good team, that way we are fed and there are always a few treats in the house.

For electrolyte replacement while running we are currently using Endura low carb it tastes great not too sweet.  We used a lot of different other drink options when not low carb and found after hours of sipping on them they became very unpalatable.

 

UTA 100 training

Our next big adventure is to complete the UTA (Ultra Trail Australia) 100km run.  Some of you may remember Chips completed the GNW (Great North Walk) 100km in September 2017.  I was his support crew for this run but this time we will be each others support crew using ‘drop’ bags and carrying our running packs.

We thought many of you would not know what is involved in training for a run of this magnitude so we thought we would share this journey.

It’s been a case of research and learning for us too.  Being a NON-runner until my late 40’s means it’s been a steep learning curve for me.

We eat low carb so our nutrition and hydration strategy uses these principles too.  Chips ran the GNW100 low carb.  What that means for us is, instead of using gels, chews and sugary electrolyte drinks for nutrition we use real food.  So part of our training involves trialling different food and drinks to see what works.  Each week we have a long run for example this week we were up to 3 hrs 20 mins of time on our legs.  Before leaving the house at 5am we had a peice of bacon & egg pie (basically just bacon, egg and cheese) and a coffee.  On the run we take more bacon & egg pie (probably 2 hrs in), sugar free electrolyte drink and water.  I could go into why this method works so well ie minimal carbs but that would be heaps boring to some people.  If you want to look into it more The Art & Science of low carbohydrate performance by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney should answer your questions.

Our training run this week started at 5:30am.  Beginning at the playground end of Dutchies Beach near Nelson Bay we headed to Mt Tomaree where we then climbed the mountain, those stairs are tough!  We then headed out towards Fingal Bay and turned around at the surf club and headed back towards the bay, along the foreshore and back past the car to a hill which on Strava is known as Angie’s hill it’s a nice training run for those beautiful Blue Mountains hills then back to the car and one lap up those famous Dutchies stairs.  If you are not familiar with the UTA track then you will not know about the 951 Furber stairs at the end.  So after running 99km there is a killer staircase at the end cruel eh!?

So how do you spend 3 1/2 hours on your legs and still be able to function?

We start our run at quite a slow pace, Chips is always telling me to slow down!! ha ha  Taking smaller steps as we climb small inclines and then fast hiking up the steeper ones.  The goal for us is to run further and further up the inclines each time we train.  It’s amazing the numbers of people that are out walking dogs, walking and running at that time of the morning and we have never seen the parking lot at Mt Tomaree empty!

After we run we have been swimming in the bay and then rinsing off at the shower in the park it’s very refreshing and the cold water on your leg muscles is divine!

On another day (sometimes Tuesday with my girlfriends) we run up Angie’s hill a few times and then do a few laps of the stairs that is a great workout!!!  So glad that my friends introduced me to it.

And then of course there is parkrun.

The last time we ran at UTA was a 50km run in 2017 and we were a little underprepared so we are hoping that because we are training better this time we will be able to run a little better.

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We did it!!! UTA50 2017

Happy New Year from us.

My NYE will be spent working in the Maternity ward on night shift.

Chips will be in bed soon after I leave for work at 8:30 ha ha.

This year has been so amazing it’s hard to put into words.  It was the culmination of Chips’ dream of hiking the PCT.  He worked very hard on maps, working out resupply points and places to stay off trail.  All I had to do was agree to go and actually turn up!

I’m so glad that I changed my mind because my first response when he suggested hiking the PCT was and I quote “ppffftt NO!”

For me, it pushed me to the limits of my many fears.  Heights and snakes to mention a couple.  On a daily basis I was forced to face them.  All the while Chips supported and encouraged me in his gentle, fearless way.  At times taking my pack as well as his own to get us through a section.  I thought after 34 years of marriage that we knew everything about each other but I certainly did not know everything there was to know about my awesome husband.  Spending 24 hours a day together for six months was the best time of my life.  He is my best friend and this has not changed and I find that I want to spend way more time with him.

Making decisions since we got home has been very difficult.  We have both experienced a certain amount of post trail depression.  We have started planning a hike for April next year so that has given us something to focus on.  It hasn’t helped that our future here at the farm is uncertain.  A few things need to fall into place before we can make a decision to stay or go.

We have learnt

that God has our back ALL. THE. TIME.

that family is our greatest asset.

that we can live out of a backpack for an extended period.

that we don’t need a lot of stuff.

that people are more important than stuff.

that the best thing we can give others is our time.

that we love each other very much.

 

So HNY! and may 2019 be a stellar year for you all!

God Bless

 

 

PCT Summary post

It’s about time I gave you all those stats you’ve been soooo looking forward to.

Life after the trail has been very very strange……..

We didn’t think that either of us would get post trail depression but there ya go!

We will be OK, it’s just very difficult to go from six months in the wilderness to full on life.  We have very different priorities now and have been finding it hard to make decisions.  In hindsight, not selling the farm was the best thing that could have happened.  We have come back to our serenity, our little piece of paradise.

Work for me has been overwhelming at times – I have a brand new appreciation for the massive responsibility we have – it’s life and death!!  With that in mind I am decreasing my work hours from March to 3 days a week.

Work for Chips has been hectic as he picks our blueberry crop, as of today he has picked (with minimal help from others) 500kg/1100lb of product!!!  He has also taken on a small amount of building work.  We now employ a lovely young woman, Katherine, to man the farm gate sales for us she is amazing!

What does the future hold?  We’re not sure….. in the immediate future (April 2019) we are planning a northbound (NOBO) hike of the Great North Walk from Sydney to Newcastle NSW.  Yes you are right we hiked this trail in 2016 SOBO, we missed a few sections and we are a lot fitter now.  We will be trialling new lighter packs, new hiking poles and breaking in our new tent liner (We got a replacement under warranty from Wild Earth)

PCT Statistics and facts

Total PCT adventure from whoa to go $24K AUD

included flights (international and domestic USA), car rental, hotels, food and activities.

Total trail cost $10 – 11K USD this was for the two of us and included all food (trail & off trail), accomodation and gear.

We broke our tent (Big Agnes Copper spur 3), stove (Soto), Chips’ watch, several fingernails, water bladder and my walking poles.

We both went through 5 pairs of shoes (Altra), 3 pairs of toe socks (Injinji) and swapped out 4 pairs of Darn Toughs (have a lifetime guarantee)

We walked 2670 miles – 4272km

156 days on trail 28th April – 8th October

19 neros

7 zeros

+8 days off trail at midpoint (and 1 day doing trail magic at Chester which was a blast!)

California 106 days (4 zero)

Oregon      21 days (1 zero)

Washington 29 days (2 zero)

Accomodation

Idyllwild 2 nights

Wrightwood 1 night

Tehachapi 3 nights

Independence 2 nights

Burney 2 nights

Ashland 2 nights

Cascade Locks 2 nights

Snoqualmie 1 night

Holden Village 1 night

Campsites – stayed in each one night

Warner Springs

VVR

Reds Meadows

Burney Falls

Mazama (Crater Lake)

Trail Angels – you ALL rock!

Scout & Frodo  one night for orientation, marquee accomodation, dinner, breakfast and transport to the trail

Mike’s Place one night – water, food and tent site with dual occupancy loo LOL

Muir Woods @ Mary’s place one night iced water in a cooler on arrival, interesting shower/toilet setup and tentsite.

ZZ & Top Mockey @ Big Bear one night with transport to & from the trail/grocery store, shower, laundry, bed in the trailer out front with own bathroom, dinner & breakfast

Hiker Heaven @ Agua Dulce one night with transport to & from REI/grocery store via In & Out burger LOL, shower, laundry and tent site

Casa De Luna @ Green Valley one night with yummy food, hugs from Terrie, transport back up to the trail with Mary and tent site in the magical manzanita forest

David & Rosy our own private trail angels @ Chester Five nights (three separate occasions) with absolutely delicious home cooked meals, amazeballs margaritas, shower, laundry, bed in the trailer out front and transport to & from the trail/grocery and post office.

Kyle & Mick in Yakima friends of my cousin Sue.  Picked us up from Packwood Lake took us home to their beautiful home in Yakima where we had a bed, did laundry and were fed delicious food.  Then dropped back up to White Pass

After the trail transport from Manning Park Canada to Langley Canada (2 1/2 hours!)

a night in Bellingham with Kim and Pat and another night in Chester with our amazing trail angels David & Rosy now more like family!

Trail Angels met along the way

Couple at Barrel Spring our first encounter of trail magic

Hamburger Helper and his friends at Scissors Crossing

Coppertone your spiders (root beer float) are the best mate!  We should know I think we ended up being treated to them 5 times!

Large group of dayhikers at Vasquez Rocks

Kathy, John and Scott at Ebbets Pass

Ally and the ladies at Carson Pass plus Laurie in the carpark.

The amazing secret squirrel effort along the way sorry can’t give details it would spoil the surprise for future hikers.

Random boxes all along the way on highway exits ie Big Bear, Cascade Locks, I10 near Snow Canyon Rd, Mazama Village and Rainy Pass

Animals – seen

Bears: black  6, Brown 0

Pika several but only one photo

Deer several hundred

Elk a few

Rattlesnakes 1 but heard 6

snakes many including a really big python near Hauser Creek

Lizards thousands

Marmot many

Chipmunks many

Squirrels many

Skunks 3

fluffy ants? a couple red and beige

goats a whole herd

horses 3

Birds – Eagles, condors, nut crackers, falcons, sparrows, starlings and many more

Diversions

FOR FIRE

Holcomb Creek

Spitler Peak – Taquitz Peak

Elk Pass – White Pass

Suiattle Pass – High Bridge

Harts Pass – Woody Pass

For Endangered wildlife

Eagles Roost for the yellow-legged frog

There you have it our hike in a nutshell.  If you got this far congratulations.  Writing all this down brings back reminders of all the wonderful people we met along the way other thru-hikers, day/section hikers, trail angels and just people.  It blows me away just how kind and generous people are!

We also want to thank Randy & Terre Krotzer for keeping all our surplus gear and luggage safe for us until we picked it up we really enjoyed dinner with you guys it was a lovely reunion albeit too short.

When we finished the PCT we both said “What now!?” and pretty much both agreed, at the time, that we would not go away for six months again.  Well now that the dust has settled and so have our minds and emotions we are reconsidering that wild claim and even considering another PCT thru-hike!!!  I KNOW!  So stay tuned folks this could get very interesting…….