Everybody loves an orange and almond cake.

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 Especially when it’s a birthday cake with candied peel and sweet dried figs, marscapone frosting and raspberry chocolate hearts.

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I was determined to create something to equal this amazing cake.

In the end I used a very simple whole-orange-almond-cake recipe from The Cake Mistress. I didn’t boil my oranges for quite as long as she did, mostly because I didn’t want to be up til midnight! So the oranges only got boiled for an hour, and they didn’t have a lot of cooling time either, once I’d pulverized them with my stick blender.

Orange Almond Cake

  • 2 Navel Oranges, washed
  • 220g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 250g almond meal
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Place the whole oranges in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Drain and replace the water, then boil again for another 30 minutes. Drain. Roughly chop the oranges (navel oranges don’t have pips, but if you use a different fruit you will need to remove any pips at this stage) and then blend or process to a pulp.

While the oranges are boiling, start working on the candied peel and raspberry hearts (see below).

Prepare a 22cm round springform pan: spray lightly with oil and cut baking paper to fit the bottom and sides. Preheat the oven to 160C (150C if fanforced).

Using a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on a high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the baking powder. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and use a spatula to carefully fold in the almond meal and orange pulp.

Pout the batter into the pan. Bake for 45-50min or until a skewer comes out clean and the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the sides. Keep an eye on your cake from the 30 minute mark – if it starts to brown too much, place a piece of foil over the top.

Remove the cake from the oven. Leave in the tin, and place on a rack to cool completely before removing from the tin. (At this stage, I drizzled the leftover zest syrup over the cake while it was still hot. You don’t have to do this but I love syrup cakes!)

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Decorations

Using a zester, remove peel from 1 or 2 oranges. If you don’t have a zester, use a regular peeler, but make sure not to remove too much pith with the peel. You want long thin strips of zest. Put 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup caster sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the zest and simmer for about 20min, until the liquid has reduced. Place the zest and syrup in the fridge for a while. When cool, drain the zest, keeping the syrup.

Cover a small tray with foil. Place the sweet, sticky zest on the tray. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of caster sugar, and toss well to coat. If you’ve timed this right, your oven will still be hot; put it on the lowest setting and put the zest in for about 15-20 minutes, tossing once or twice. It should go crispy and crunchy. Remove from the oven and allow to air-dry for as long as possible (I left mine overnight, covered with a clean cloth).

Take about 4 dried figs and slice them thinly. If they seem a little dry, soak them in warm water for a couple of hours.

For the raspberry hearts, take a piece of baking paper and draw some hearts on one side, about 3-4cm in diameter. Turn the baking paper over and place onto a clean board. Melt about 150g white chocolate (I do mine in the microwave, short bursts at low power, stirring in between). Add a few drops of raspberry essence. My chocolate went a bit stiff at this point so I added about 1/4 teaspoon of peanut oil. Using a small spoon, dab chocolate onto your baking paper, filling your heart lines.

Awww. Filling your heart lines. I like how that sounds.

Pop the board into the fridge until the chocolate has set, then carefully peel off the hearts and place in an airtight container until ready to use. I did two batches.

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Frosting

A search for ‘mascarpone frosting’ turned up an amazing looking almond praline cake which I pinned to try some other time! I used their frosting recipe, but I only made half the batch which turned out to  be exactly right for my cake. Basically just marscapone, heavy cream, vanilla and sugar (I added a little extra icing sugar as well). I whisked mine by hand and it thickened almost instantly – be very careful not to overbeat or it will start to separate and curdle!

Slather frosting all over your cake. Sprinkle with the candied peel and sliced figs, then decorate to your chocolate heart’s content.

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Hi guys!

Well the main reason for the dearth of recent posts is THIS:

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Thank you to the BBC for deciding this was a good idea! To promote the new Doctor, played by the craggy yet handsome Peter Capaldi, the first episode was screened in select venues around the world, followed by a Q&A with Peter and Jenna Coleman (the Doctor’s current companion, Clara). I was beside myself with excitement when I realised Sydney was on the tour itinerary! Literally; I was reading my emails at work and this popped up. I actually grabbed my computer screen with both hands and yelled ‘oh my GAWD!!!!!’ – to the utter bemusement of my collegues in the open-plan office where I work.

After several urgent texts back and forth with my sister, we decided that yes, it was worth the slightly pricey tickets. And as I said in one of those messages, ‘the question is not will I go, but what will I WEAR?’

And so I set myself yet another nigh-impossible dressmaking deadline.

I was going to cover all the process and construction, but that post was leaning towards ‘bigger on the inside’, so for now let’s just have a big reveal!

Coat 1

The Gallifreyan Coat

 

TAH-DAAAAAAH!

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(These photos were taken at work, just before I headed off to the premier.)

So, what does it all mean?

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I used a neat little app I found on Googleplay to translate into Gallifreyan symbols.

 

Time And Relative Dimension In Space

The other sleeve says ‘Gallifrey Falls No More’. Awwww.

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Martha Jones, Amy and Rory, Jack Harkness

Yeah, I named a bunch of the Doctor’s companions on there.

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And that’s River Song up there over a TimeLord’s second heart.

I’m not going to lie. The couching and embroidery took FOREVER. There was a point at which I really wasn’t sure if I was going to get it done. I had to fly interstate one weekend – to Perth – which is a five-hour flight. I packed needle and thread in my carryon and hoped it was okay to travel. Thankfully it was, and I sewed for the whole flight. Needless to say there were quite a few late nights in the leadup to the big event.

I was sewing on the buttons at lunchtime on show day. Oh! The buttons! Big thanks to my mate Steve at work who burned his fingers making these buttons for me. They were plain gold (well, plastic gold), but with the help of some tiny printouts of the TARDIS and some heatshrink, they became TARDIS buttons!

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The starry print is the lining fabric. I actually bought that new – shock horror, I know, I bought something new? But I didn’t have anything that worked. And the Doctor always wants to show people the stars, so I thought I could just have some with me.

I would have used this, but there wasn’t enough. So I just used it for the pockets. Thanks, Allison!

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But I made it! Hooray! Thanks to Kylie for supporting my geekery and taking some piccies.

At the beautiful State Theatre in Sydney. After the show, I got as close to the TARDIS as security would allow.

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No, not very close at all. Not to worry. I went to the popup shop on the weekend.

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Wearing my Dalek beanie! (Thanks again, Allison :-) It was raining, and I didn’t want to risk The Coat getting wet. Hence my incredibly attractive army-green rain jacket.

I’ll follow this up with another post about materials and construction. For now, to any Whovians reading this, Capaldi is gonna be a great Doctor, and that first episode is a cracker!! (Oh, and Adam Spencer was a hilarious host as always. Although that crack about Prince Charles may have gone a teeny bit too far…..)

 

PS. Did anyone catch the Bowie reference in the blog title? How awesome would it be if Bowie ever did a cameo on Doctor Who!!! 

I made muffins.

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These are fruity coconut cream muffins. I had some coconut cream left over from the lamb & macadamia nut curry I made last night. So I thought, you know, I haven’t made muffins in ages. So I trawled the internet (and by trawled I mean a rather brief search) and slightly modified this recipe.

Fruity Coconut Cream Muffins (Dairy Free)
3/4 cup SR flour
1/4 cup ground oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 Tsp baking powder
3/4 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup almond or almond & coconut milk
1 egg
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 apple, coarsely grated
1/2 cup diced dried apricots

Preheat oven to 180°. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper cases.
In a bowl mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate jug or bowl combine all liquid ingredients. Add liquid to dry mix, stirring until just combined. Gently fold in apple and apricot.
Divide mixture between muffin cups (I only made 10 because they looked a little small).
Bake for 20min or until springy when touched.
Cool in tray for 5min before removing to a wire rack.

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Delicious when eaten warm!

I have been a bit lax with the posts, haven’t I? The fact is, I have had heaps of projects on the go – but quite a few of them haven’t turned out. Sad face. I haven’t even had any amazing finds at the op shop (well, except for the pie dish I found for my sister, but really… it wasn’t exciting enough to post.)

Then to top it all off, I got my overlocker out to use on a very simple project, only to find it kind of … doesn’t… work. I googled the fault; not a lot on the internet about a Huskylock 435, but the few I found with a similar fault all said they ended up taking it to the fix-it shop. Sigh. So that project went on the back burner, too.

So, being all frustrated at my lack of success – and lacking a bit of creativity, too, at the moment – I decided to fall back on some mending.

I picked up this fine merino thermal on my overseas trip last year. It was cold in San Francisco, and this was on the sale rack!

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You can see the big runs in the elbows and the frayed edge of the sleeve cuff.

I’ve been admiring all the beautiful Alabama Chanin creations exploding all over the internet. Amazing what you can do with two layers of cotton jersey and a needle and thread.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to attempt anything quite so glamorous with my daggy little thermal top. I don’t even really know the techniques – I don’t have the book, I’ve just looked at loads of pictures.

I remembered some stretch fabric left over from a top I made a couple of years ago, a whacky purple floral that I adored (and I wear the top all the time!) that would perfectly complement the purple thermal. One line of running stitches didn’t seem quite robust enough for me, so I enhanced it with a second line of running stitches and some decorative blanket stitching in a varigated embroidery floss I dug out of The Stash.

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Now I have cute little elbow patches! (oh, yeah, you’re not imagining it. Top left there is a pink, heart-shaped clock with a picture of Jensen Ackles as the face. There’s a guy who knows what time it is.)

There was another couple of small runs on the left sleeve there, but they were very narrow so I just seamed them out.Oh, and please don’t look too closely at the mending on the cuff – it was meant to look rustic but it just looks like a 5-year-old did it. Ah well.

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And just so you know I’ve not been just locked away in my sewing room moaning about all my failures, here’s what I did on the weekend.

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No, I’m not wearing my karate uniform in the picture, but I was when I won those medals I’m wearing!

sewing challenges 2014

I’ve actually managed to complete another of my sewing challenges for 2014! And it’s only, er, halfway through the year….

So I used an old Butterick pattern, number 6572.

Butterick 6572

I say ‘old’ rather than ‘vintage’ because as usual Butterick haven’t put a copyright date anywhere on the pattern, envelope or instruction sheet. This drives me nuts. However, there are ways to roughly date this pattern. For instance, the price there is in dollars, which means it’s post-1966 (when Australia moved to decimal currency).  Also, at some point in the mid to late 80’s, Butterick stopped printing the price on the envelope. So we’re somewhere between 1966 and, say, 1987. My best guess, based on the style and the artwork, would actually be very late 70’s or very early 80’s.

I tried Googling ‘Butterick 6572. Apparently Butterick has used this number more than once! I only wish I had this version. And then there’s this one! That second one is listed as 1970’s, which makes my earlier guess fairly likely.

Anyhoo, the reason I chose to make this one was all because of the Archer. I lurk around many blogs that have featured this sweet indie pattern, like here, here and, well, here. It’s pretty popular, and I do covet it. However, I steeled myself against buying another pattern (no, really, I have so many I need my own catalog) and decided to use one I already had.

I had a piece of vintage fabric too, and when I say vintage I mean I picked it up in an op shop for a couple of bucks. It’s a sort of brushed cotton/flannelette, brown with teeny white polka dots and little orange flowers.

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The pattern was completely uncut, which was lovely, so I copied the pieces I needed onto my old pattern standby, kitchen paper. Did some measurement checks, shaped it a little at the waist, pinned, and cut.

And, I used my beautiful 1962 (or possibly 1963) Pinnock “Zig Zag Deluxe” sewing machine for the whole project. It’s so very smooth and sweet to use. It’s a flatbed, rather than a freearm, which makes tubular sewing a little fiddly; and that’s my excuse for the ease in the sleeve heads being a little lumpy.

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So it does look a little like pyjamas, but I tried it on with jeans and it looked kinda cute. (I still have not found my camera tripod. I think perhaps aliens have taken it.)

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Oh, things I learned while making this shirt: curved hems are painful. I should have basted the d*mn things but noooo, I chose a marathon pinning session instead. This fabric presses really well though, and it looks fine on the outside, so as long as the dressmaking police don’t want to check my construction I’m good to go. (Although, having watched The Great British Sewing Bee, if Patrick Grant wanted to check my work I wouldn’t be arguing with him!)

Cream jacket

Last year sometime I went on a road trip through some country towns. As all op-shop-fanatics know, you can find some crazy bargains in the tiniest of country op shops. When I left home I had a list of op shops and their opening times and a schedule of which order I should attack them in. (I like me a list!)

And so it was at the Red Cross shop in Wangaratta I found this boxy blouse in a heavy cream polyester. It’s main redeeming feature was the draped collar. Also, it was on the sale rack.

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I held onto it for a while, but I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted to do with it. When the weather started to get cooler I decided the time was right to make it into a lightweight draped jacket.

First of all I chopped off some of the length.

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Then I made a bunch of pleats in some strategic spots at that new lower edge.

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I pinned those pleats, then stay-stitched them. Using the offcut piece of material, I fashioned a band which got sewn onto that bottom edge.

As usual, I forgot to take pictures of the middle of the refashion. Sorry, guys. I chopped the sleeves as well at the three-quarter mark and gave them a nice wide hem.

I still had the original buttons and buttonholes at the front of the shirt which didn’t look all that pretty. I removed the buttons and used the sleeve cuffs, salvaged from the sleeve offcuts, to make little epaulette thingies to cover up the buttonholes.

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And that was it! I think I’m getting better at these on-the-fly refashions. I tend to dither a lot, but this time I managed to stay focused.

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I have worn this once already and received a few compliments! I’m still working out what it goes with in my wardrobe though :-)

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Because I’m daggy, I want to share this one with you as well. I have this little table-top ironing board, which is the handiest thing EVER in my sewing room.

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As you can see, the cover is getting a bit grotty. Sadly this cover is actually stapled to the board so I couldn’t just take it off to wash it. To be honest, it wasn’t that attractive anyway. I decided to make a new cover!

I turned the board upside down on some cute fabric and drew around it.

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Leaving a wide allowance, I cut that out, then folded over the edge and sewed to make a casing.

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Then I threaded some narrow elastic through that casing.

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I fitted the new cover over the board and pulled the elastic tight, then tied it off.

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(See that price tag? Three bucks! Thanks, Vinnies!)

After that, because I still had some of that fabric, and also because I am a total nerd, I did the same thing to my little sleeve pressing board.

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Cute, isn’t it? It gets cuter.

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Wait til you see the two of them together.

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Awwwww. What a cute couple.

 

The North Face 100 2014

 

About 18 months ago, I got the urge to do something a bit crazy. Two weeks ago, I did it – the North Face 100 ultra.

The race took me a bit longer than I expected, and so has getting this race report together, partly because I wasn’t going to do one, until I started reading those of other runners, and partly because I had a small hiccup in getting my race images. But here it is.

TNF100 had ups and downs, both physical (stairs, stairs, stairs…) and mental (er, stairs there too, actually…) but it was one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever done. Big thanks to Geoff Evison and Lisa Brentnall for encouraging me to go for the big one, rather than the 50km option. You see, outside some runs around the paddocks up at the family property in Qld, I’d done no trail running whatsoever when I entered TNF.  I hadn’t run further than 42km either, and I’d only done that twice, in two road marathons. So no trail experience, and I was going to do 100km over the ups, downs, ridges and creeks of the Blue Mountains…

Things didn’t start well. As Christmas, and the temptation to do less and eat more, approached last year, I came across an online run challenge: run every day from Christmas to New Year. Great motivation to keep active, but on New Year’s Day I woke up to discover my right knee was protesting this unusual running streak very, very loudly. Four days off to rest and all felt ok. Until I ran. A week off, and the same result. Another thanks goes to Lisa here, as she recommended a chiro who she said was brilliant with knees (Brett Edmunds at Paramount Sports) – and he was, although he was on holidays and I couldn’t get in to see him until the end of January. Between Brett’s magic hands and a careful return to running, I was eventually able to return to a decent training load. I was a good six weeks behind on training, but I was just happy that I was going to be able to toe the starting line, something that had looked pretty doubtful for a while.

In the lead up to the race I had a lot of fun buying gear – the mandatory gear list for this race is looooong, but I kept finding bargains. Very satisfying. I did pay full price for my new hydration pack, the Salomon S-Lab 12 Pack, but it was worth every cent. Love that thing.

So on to the race weekend…

My sister Laura was my crew for the race, and we drove up to Katoomba together on the Friday afternoon. We went straight to registration, and that’s where the nerves hit.

It had occurred to me several times during the week before the race that given my lack of training (only two excursions to the mountains, and only one run over 40km), swapping down to the 50km race would have been the sensible thing to do. And it occurred to me again at registration. Because here I was, undertrained, doing my first trail race, and with no experience of about half of the course, and around me were all these fit, confident people who clearly knew exactly what they were doing. I felt physically ill. But I completed registration. When we came back later that evening for the pre-race briefing, I felt sick again. But a stirring “welcome to country” helped rekindle some of the enthusiasm, and surprisingly, that night I slept fairly well.

On race morning, Laura and I, and Lisa and her support crew, and “Tall Geoff” Evison, who’d snagged a last-minute entry – we’d all shared a house ­– headed up to Scenic World. A huge thumbs up for the start/finish, lots of music and a great atmosphere.

Laura and I at the start. It was a bit chilly!

Laura and I at the start. It was a bit chilly!

 

I didn’t know anyone starting in my wave, but I was soon chatting to a gal beside me called Justine. And then we were off. Less than 2km later I realised I had forgotten to apply Body Glide, and given the length of time I was going to be out there, is seemed like a pretty bad omission. I stopped to put some on – if I’d realised there would be bottle necks at the stairs and the landslide, I would have done it then. Beginner’s mistake. But it was good to start with a few kilometres of road to get the legs moving.

Only 90-something kilometers to go...

Only 90-something kilometers to go…

We were soon through Checkpoint 1, at 10.5km, and I was right where I expected to be. Somewhere not long I tripped – on a flat piece of road – but there was no major damage so Justine helped me whack a plaster on my hand and on I went. I knew that after Checkpoint 2 there was a challenging climb ahead and my fantastic dietician, Rebecca Hay, had warned me I should eat before I got there.  I had made a mental note (actually, I’d made a note in bright red bold type on the little race plan I carried with me, detailing distances, expected arrival times, cut-offs and what would be available to eat. Yes, I do like a list…) to eat plenty at CP2. I filled my water bladder, went to the loo, ate some fruit and a muffin, and headed out, feeling fine. It didn’t last. There’s a small hill just out of CP2 and I think the combination of sudden effort after a break, and an over-full stomach, meant digestion didn’t kick in properly. By the time the climb up Ironpot started, I was feeling odd – not nauseous, but vaguely light-headed and with no energy. I fell over again. And my calves cramped on and off the whole way up, and along the ridge too. That doesn’t feel like the safest place for your legs to be doing unpredictable things! But seeing two guys up there, playing the didjeridu and the sticks, in front of an amazing view, reminded me what a privilege it was to be out there, in such fantastic surroundings.

One of the other brilliant things about this race was the other runners. I am just so amazed at what a friendly, helpful, lovely bunch ultrarunners are. Everyone seems to be out there to have a good time and, even when they are suffering themselves, offering encouragement. I ran most of CP2 to CP3 with the same small group and it was fantastic to share stories and hear about how other people had ended up doing this race.

CP3 was a welcome sight, as it was the first time I’d see Laura since the start. Laura is officially Super Support Crew. I’d packed everything in three separate labelled bags, one for each checkpoint she could come to, and asked her to put everything from the appropriate bag out on a blanket so I could see it all easily. (I read that somewhere; I can’t remember where, but I’m so glad I had, as it made checkpoints very low-stress. I saw quite a few people pawing through one big bag trying to find things, and looking various degrees of frustrated and desperate). I also made a list (like I said, I like a list!) for each checkpoint, so both of us knew exactly what I needed to do/eat/take each time. Laura not only put it all neatly out, she made me a banner that said “GO KYLIE” and managed to make me drink plenty at each checkpoint. That was the item on the top of each CP list. (At the bottom of each list it also said “forgive me if I am cranky”. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that!) She got me in and out of each checkpoint feeling happy and I got everything I needed each time.

The perfect check-point set up - with banner and all! This is at CP4.

The perfect check-point set up – with banner and all! This is at CP4.

CP3 to CP4 wasn’t too bad initially; mentally I was feeling fine after seeing Laura and then passing through some nice spots, including a very unexpected farm. But then we got to Nellie’s Glen…

My plan had been to eat several kilometres out from the foot of this 500-stair climb, and I did, but at the bottom I tried to eat something else and suddenly everything made me gag. And as soon as I started climbing, the cramps in my calves came back.

This was the low point in the race for me. It was a very slow ascent, and many times I thought “I can’t walk and I can’t eat, how can I possibly go any further.” But I was lucky to have someone behind me who kept encouraging me the whole way up. I was worried I was holding people up and she kept assuring me they didn’t want to go any faster and I was doing a good job. Thanks “other Kylie”!

The camping and inability to eat continued after the top of the stairs, but on the way into Katoomba for CP4, I had time to convince myself that if I wanted to quit, I could do it at CP5, but right now I had to keep going. I told myself Laura hadn’t taken time off work to come up to Katoomba so I could stop at 50km. And a few more personal things that reminded me giving up right then just wasn’t an option.

There’s also a small downhill section of bitumen on the way in that gave my legs a break and the cramping stopped. Thankfully, that was the last time I had to deal with that.

I tried to eat some of the supplied food at the checkpoint but that still wasn’t a happening thing. I filled my water bladder, drank some of my home-made sports drink (I’d made plenty to leave with Laura because I knew from experience it was one thing I could get down even when I didn’t feel good), changed into warmer clothes and finally managed to eat a bit of banana. So I grabbed another piece of banana, and a crust from one of the loaves of bread on offer, and headed off into the night.

This is where I got very lucky. I ran into a gal called Hailey who was limping a bit, and we decided we’d both be very happy to take it a little bit slower and we’d travel together to CP5.

Hailey's TNF pic

Hailey and I, heading down stairs… boy, were there a lot of stairs on that leg…

There are what feels like never-ending stairs between CP4 and CP5 and poor Hailey couldn’t climb them easily. Her injury was getting worse and worse, but she’s one strong woman; she just kept going and going, and she never complained once. By the time we got close to CP5 it was clear the pain must be pretty bad, but she just kept moving. When we popped out onto the road leading into the checkpoint, I asked if she would mind if I started running. The road was well marked and I could hear some other runners behind us, so I thought she’d be okay to make it in from there. Having taken things slowly, I’d gotten over the problem with eating, and been able to take in plenty of fluids, and my legs were feeling fine too. She waved me on, saying she was going to have a lie-down at the checkpoint and see whether things improved. I discovered later that she wasn’t able to go on, but she should be hugely proud of the guts she showed in getting to CP5. And I know she’ll be back next year to go all the way. Thanks for the company, Hails!

I trotted into CP5 feeling positively perky. Poor Laura had been out in the cold for ages waiting for me, but she was up and in Super Supporter mode as I arrived and helped me stock up, don another more clothes (including a second layer of gloves, nifty fingerless woollen ones knitted by my other sister, Allison) and get going again.

Progress wasn’t fast on this last leg, and the lack of training was pretty clear on some of the long climbs, but there was something really special about being out there alone in the night. I did pass a few other folk and we exchanged hellos, but for most of the last section I was by myself. We’d been very lucky with the weather, so it was a still, full-moon night, quiet and calm and not too cold. I guess that’s one bonus of being slow – the fast folk finish don’t get the chance to enjoy those quiet hours just after midnight.

The North Face 100 2014

Alone in the night… huge thumbs up to the photographers who set up all the cameras in scenic spots for the night shots.

By the emergency aid station at 91km I had realised I really didn’t need the extra layer I’d put on, so I stopped to strip it off.

Then it was a matter of counting down the kilometres. They felt like some of the longest kilometres I’d ever run, not the hardest, just long. But eventually I got to the bottom of the Furber Steps. I had to stop a couple of times on the way up, but near the top some folk had come down to encourage us back-of-pack runners who were trickling in after dawn and it was wonderful to hear the words “you’ve only got a few steps to go”.

Then it was along the boardwalk and into Scenic World, with a brief smile for the wit who’d put up a handwritten sign that said something like “the last stairs you have to climb” beside a small set of about five stairs on the way to the finish.

And suddenly it was all over, with Laura there to hug me and Tall Geoff there too, unexpectedly.

I'd say that's about 99.99 kilometres...

I’d say that’s about 99.99 kilometers…

It took me 24 hours and 36 minutes.

As we were walking back to the car, Geoff asked me if I’d do it again. “Ask me again in a day or two” I think I said. It only took one. I can’t wait. Bring on 2015.

Why? Because that was one of the best things I’ve ever done. The organisers and volunteers did a brilliant job (one of the many nice moments in the race was running into a former work colleague, volunteering at the 66km aid station), the checkpoints were all really well organised, with heaps of food even for those of us at the tail end, and the course was very well marked. The other runners were the friendliest bunch of people I’ve ever spent a day with, and the scenery is amazing. And because I want to do it faster, next time.

 

PS. I mentioned at the start that initially, I wasn’t going to write a race report. Then I read lots of others and it helped make the week after the race almost as much fun as the race itself. In one of those reports, the runner said he wanted to write it so he could thank a bunch of people. That was one reason I changed my mind and wrote this. A pile of people helped me get to the start, and to the finish: lots of fellow runners, including Denise, who loaned me equipment and gave me good advice, Matt M, who was so patient with my plodding pace on a training run  – I was SO glad to have done that second half of the course – and Lisa, who did a brilliant time and deserved it; Brett and Rebecca for the expert advice; David Jones, my personal trainer – all those kettle ball swings and squats definitely helped; Ant, for the bars; Pace Athletic, for getting me a Salomon pack when there were none to be had, Australia-wide; Geoff, for telling me there really wasn’t an excuse for not finishing, because the cut-off was generous and people could walk most of it and still finish in time – you probably didn’t expect me to take you quite so literally!; all the runners out on the course with me, especially Hailey; all the family and friends who thought I was crazy but wished me luck anyway, especially my Mum, who listened to me talk about the race for months and months and months; Allison, for the mittens, and the Facebook posts during the race – it was lovely to read after; and especially Laura, for lifts home after training runs, and for giving up her weekend and being calm and organised and everything else you could want in a support crew. And finally my Dad, who is often with me when I run. Thanks all.

(Pics during race by Aurora Images)

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