The Eltham Fun Run teamed up with the Pat Cronin Foundation to combine health and fitness with a very important cause.
Head over to the Pat Cronin Foundation and to help Stop The Coward’s Punch.
You can train all you like, but it takes a race to show up your weaknesses. The Eltham Fun Run did that for me.
Joining a few friends from work we made an event out o this event. We even managed not to talk shop the whole time.
A massive crack of thunder shook the house. Not sure what time it was, but it was dark. The rain was torrential. I wondered if this would race weather.
My alarm woke me. I must’ve crashed back to sleep and skipped time. It was till pouring rain, but no thunder. Could be a wet run. Because this race was local to me it felt like a late start. A few minutes up the road is very different to an 1 or 2 hour drive.
At registration the rain cleared up and some blue started to poke through the clouds. Maybe it was going to be good conditions. Out for a relaxed warm up and the blue sky spread. Conditions were going to good. A little windy, but the sun was now winning.
Time went quickly as I talked rubbish with friends from work. Soon enough it was time to start.
Out under the starting arch the trail was narrow. It looked like there were over 200 people and I was skeptical about how we would fit.
Hills Of Eltham
3, 2, 1… and the starting bell was rung.
Self seeding seemed to work. There was no issue with space as we headed. We spread out in a long line. Starting to clump up as more distinct groups after the first 200m. I was out of the top 10, but everyone was in view.
Thoughts of tactics and what ifs cascaded through my head. I didn’t know what shape I was in. Changing up training meant I wasn’t sure how my body was going to respond. No pointed thinking too much. I decided I’d be better served by just running.
Latching onto a pace that felt about right I moved up a handful of places over the next kilometre. I was feeling good. This course is one of the hilliest 10km races around Melbourne. As a result I refrained from checking my paces. Instead the focus went towards technique.
First climb pointed out I’m nowhere close to where I want to be running uphill. I’m still running up like an ultra marathon runner and not like someone trying to be fast over 10km. Forcing the technique got me somewhere close how I want to run up hill. Over the top I was sure there would be a cost to the effort.
No time to worry about that. It was now down hill time.
Down Hill Is More Fun
I love a smooth and steep down hill. Gravity becomes my friend. The first down hill lived up to expectations. I gained a few places as my effort level dropped back a little. Lean forward into a controlled fall.
About 3km covered and it was the next climb. Shorter than the first, but steeper. It was harder to make my legs do what I wanted. I was sucking air and couldn’t get enough. The burn tried to stop my legs. This was hurting, but I reminded myself it was meant to.
Down hill again. I don’t think I noticed much around me. The intensity of the last climb had created a fog through my mind. I pushed on but was already feeling too much grief in my legs for this early in the race.
Too Early For This
Through 5km and the return trip is more moderate terrain. Best described as undulating. My effort was up but already the power had been sucked from the legs. Maybe I was just out of practice. The elastic band to those in front had stretched out. Surely I could push faster.
So I did. I made those legs turn over a little quicker. Pushed down through ground to get the most out of each stride. It resulted in some faster running. It also leg to a deluge of acidosis in my legs after 6km.
I’d caught the group in front, but it was at a cost. Once with them the path turned upwards for a bit. I couldn’t stay with them. The gap stretched out and the elastic band broke.
Refusing to accept blowing up this early I tried to push the speed. Instead of going faster I just tightened up. The harder I pushed the slower I went. It was battle I wasn’t winning. I didn’t want to give in take it easier. That would leave regret.
How was I going to cover the last 3km as fast as I could?
Relax And Run Faster
Changing tact I focussed on relaxing. Keeping the legs loose. Aiming to be quick with the arms and knee lift. I was careful to avoid over striding and made sure I kept I high heel flick at the end of each stride.
The new approach gave my legs the variation they needed. My pace came up a little bit. It was definitely the faster way to get to the finish. No longer any idea what my placing was. I was now out by myself. Good sized gaps in front and behind me. This didn’t change until the finish.
Weaving around the last couple of bends the finish line came into view. For a small race the atmosphere at the finish was big. Crossing under the arch and everything hurt. The brought me across in 15th place in a time of 41:13. It’s my slowest at for this race, but it gives me true feedback where my fitness is truly at.
It’s not where I want it to be. That’s ok. The first step in getting there is to know where you are now.