Firstly apologies for delay in posting. DS has currently absconded with my home laptop whilst his is getting repaired and I’ve had to ban myself from uploading from my work one. You see my last post was my virtual Pikermi entry and somehow my picture of me in 80’s blonde mullet wig, pink flouro shirt and smiling loopsters race bib ended up embedding itself as my lock screen. As it turned out even the administrators in Chennai couldn’t reset it so for the next 6 weeks I was having to explain “virtual races”, “pikermi’s” and “loopsters” every time I went to meetings!
Anyway back to racing. It’s been a very slow build to this. This time last year involved a couple of extended sick leaves including a nasty spell in hospital (with my swollen...recovery was slow ...)...so first races for a year. Yippee!
First up was the Great Train Race. It’s a 13.5km run through the beautiful dandenongs trying to beat the old steam train. It’s a challenging course, net uphill despite the last few kms downhill (~300m elevation gain). There’s also 4 level crossings and the train has priority so stay ahead!
With an initial downhill and tight pack (I was in 2nd group but only 10 meters or so back) it’s a case of quickly hit your stride and don’t drop your lollies! My goal was to try and hold ~4:30 k pace (7:15) until the main hill which starts at the 5k mark and climbs for about 2 then push hard and bust a lung the last few. This worked well and despite being a little toasted by the time I reached the top just past halfway I forgot one important thing. If you’re trying to beat your previous times it helps to recheck what they are prior to the race! So whilst I pushed on through the 3rd quarter my quick sums told me I was off pace to get near my PB and probably eased off too much. I finished off the last quarter strongly with all I had, remembering to “double bangle” at the finish (no photo!) and a 61:57. So slightly down on my PB but not as much as I thought! D’oh.
The following week was the Red Bull Wings For Life world race which is where all the races around the world start at the same time. The “catcher cars” then set off half hour later at 15km/hr and speed up each hour. Once they pass you your race is done. For Melbourne this meant a 9pm start and our course is south east along a motorway heading out of the city. My best run was 33km 2 years ago (31 last year) so I had an idea of pace. Was hoping to at least get to 30k, maybe amongst my previous efforts. Whilst my run the previous week suggested I wasn’t quite finding form I knew in hindsight I probably mucked up my pacing so who knows.
This race is unusual on a number of fronts and doesn’t have the usual cross section of road runners. The upside of this is based on my previous run I’m in the first group. So like a good running geek I spotted myself in the start pic under the N in run about 8 rows back (looking down at my watch haha). Conditions were ideal, cool but not cold, dry and for a change we weren’t running into a breeze so I was feeling somewhat confident of a solid run. They sound the horn and we’re off!
The freeway is undulating with some decent climbs, the biggest around 11k another at 20, and 28. They’re long slow climbs not steep so manageable if you can stay mentally strong. In my head I’m thinking stay under 4:50 (7:45) pace until top of peak at 11k and see how I’m feeling. I should point out despite my long slow build I’ve been struggling with a few ailments but mainly R shin soreness (hoping not shin splints). Anyway I took an extra light week leading to last weeks race and whilst it’s feeling “puffy” it’s ok tonight.
The first section goes well, I find a few unlucky new chums to chew their ears and time passes quickly. I get to that 11k point and whilst I’m feeling a little flat I’m in a good rhythm and have tagged with a nice lady who’s pacing around 4:45 so just perfect! 4:45 is my PB pace so if I can hold that at least through 25 I’m thinking I should make 30 or so. As I get closer to 20 I can feel signs in my R hammy. Yeah I’m yet to finish a marathon without both hammies cramping so I know the signs well. I back off a little for the hill at 20k and push back on pace crossing my fingers.
Lots of runners bail at certain points like 20/21 so by 25k mark there’s a good chance you’re stretched out like a (night time) trail race. This is where it gets tough mentally (especially if you’re balancing a testy hammy on edge)! At 25 I’m really tiring but feel like I’m closing in on goals. I get to the hill at 28 and try and hold as much pace as I can though I’ve also reached for my homemade “hotshot” concoction which hopefully will keep the cramps at bay. Ok I’m now getting to 30...yes! First goal ticked off. Fatigue has really set in but I’m pushing hard as I can & faintly hear the catcher car tooting. As I pass 31 I know I’ll beat last year which helps me lift slightly. Car is really getting close now but I can see the 32km sign. It’s a little uphill (not good for the hammy!) but I push harder, pass 32 and here comes the car. Done and salute the driver at 32.2km. Too tired to notice who the celebrity is. There’s a dude just behind so we walk to the next pickup spot and luckily it’s not too long before we’re on a bus and heading back to the event hq.
It’s a bit strange sitting down in front of a big screen watching other runners from around the world whilst chowing down on pizza and coffee in a largely empty event zone trying to get warm at 1am...but it was soo good! Pretty stoked with my run. It was good enough for 62nd here and 2nd in my AG (60 something AG worldwide!).
I pulled up well that week and I’m now in peak training weeks for Gold Coast marathon next month. My shin which continued to be problematic is finally showing improvement after lots of massage, rolling, strength work and KT taping. Now I just have to decide whether to shave my other leg to match or just look odd when I get the short tights out again in 5 weeks haha.