Monday, August 29, 2011

My biggest ultra training 'Bonk'

This weekend I experienced my first real ‘bonk’ on a long training run. I set out at 9am in 88 degree F/31C , hot, humid weather up the steep Kealia Trail  switchbacks on the Dillingham airfield side of the Waianae mountain range. My plan was to run ‘Loop 1’ a(30+ mile/50km )of the “Peacock 100km” race course. I was training by myself which I often do and had stashed some water and Coke under some bushes at the bottom of Long Rd which was a turn around point to go back up the mountain.

 I thought  this would be enough to get me through  the last 10mile/16km leg of the route.I had plenty of water, adequate electroltes and glucose in the form of Gu, Gu chomps and Shot Blocks as well as NUUN. Unfortunately I had only packed 1 Lara Bar in my camel back, thinking that this would be enough to sustain me in terms of solid food. I hoped that the run would last no more than 9 hours bearing in mind the heat, steep terrain (at least 9500ft accumulated elevation gain).
 The run started out really well as I managed to make it up the steep switchbacks and “Oh S#*t Hill” without feeling like I was being murdered. I was doing well for the first 22miles and then bonked in the most horrible way after having come down off the mountain on Long Road, replenished my water at the stash and turned to go back up in the searing heat of the only stretch of paved road on the entire course....I ate my snack bar at the turn around and started back up the hellishly steep hill, where ¾ of the way up I actually fainted ~ (my life went into a black tunnel so I lay down on the side of the road, lost consciousness, woke up, had a Shot Block and carried on to finish a very slow 30 miles).

After I had gathered myself together again at the Peacock Flats camp ground at the top of the hill I called my friends to excuse myself for being late to the birthday dinner party they had invited me to that evening. Upon explaining why my run was taking longer than I had anticipated, my friend offered to come and look for me to get me off the mountain or help. I declined the offer as I was sure I could still make it on my own steam. The last 7-8 miles just seemed to go on and on endlessly and I was jogging along at a painfully slow pace. The cell phone reception on the mountain is patchy and  finally Steve managed to get hold of me at one point, it must have been a very low point for me because I bust into tears. He also offered to come and look for me but I declined.

 Eventually after what seemed like an eternityI reached the Kealia switchbacks going down to where my car was parked and Steve called again saying that he was at my car and would come up the mountain to give me some moral support. This was really awesome of him as it was getting dark and he would be late for his gig in Honolulu at this rate.We witnessed a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean as we snaked our way down and stepped off the trail as it was getting dark....what a day!I ended the day with doubts as to whether I will ever be able to train enough to complete Peacock 100k within the 18 hour cutoff time, but I still made it to the dinner party on the beach!
I had made mistakes leading up to this event:

1) I stayed out late the night before at a party.
2)I drank a glass of wine the night before which I don't normally do before a long run
3)I started out late in the morning when it was already hot
4)I didn't pack in enough food. This was the biggest mistake.
The next morning I awoke with the following thoughts:
Peacock" is not like a bird, it's more like a brutal beast with sharp, gnashing teeth and long talons. Going back there now to show the mountain that I'm not scared...but will do a short loop of 14miles/22.5km today as a 'recovery' run.I had a big breakfast and no wine last night...

The second run was successful!I guess I'll keep on truckin'. There is magic up there....


  1. Great Chronicle, and much learning.
    Remember that man is the only animal that trips twice with the same stone. Courage, sure you can.
    Greetings from The Lone Start State.

  2. Its good that you learned some valuable lessons on this run, and that you are brave and tough enough to tackle the mountain again, and share your humbling experience with us all, and we are all glad you are safe and sound! you one tough koekie!

  3. Thanks Tom and Steve....I would really like to get this "Peacock" off my back, check the box and move on.It's wonderful having encouragement!