Tag Archives: Race Report

Eltham Fun Run 2018 10km: Race Report

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.

 

Melbourne Weather

 

 

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?

 

10km fun run Eltham Fun Run 2018

 

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.

 

 

Surf Coast Century 2018 Relay: Race Report

There is something extra special about the Surf Coast Century 2018. This race has become an annual trip. It is more than just a run. If you want to experience some of the best the running community has to offer, then try out the Surf Coast Century.

Now an annual trip with some mates from work. This year we had two teams in the relay. We hardly even talked about work. That’s a good thing.

Friday was a beautiful sunny Spring day.

 

Mother Nature

 

 

Race day was Saturday.

Cold, wet…. let me correct that…. very wet. Windy, hail with a little sunshine and blue sky mixed in.

 

Start time is dictated by the tides. Unless it’s low tide, some sections on the first leg are impassible. Good news was the race started after the sun had gotten out of bed. A relative sleep in. Bad news for those running the first leg, they didn’t get to experience the amazing sunrise that has made this leg phenomenal in previous years.

 

 

Leg 1

 

 

Running along the iconic beaches of the surf coast is amazing. Rory got to enjoy this leg. He showed his fitness and running pedigree by smashing through the first 10km nice and quick. The slippery and sharp rock beds in the remaining 11km presented him a new challenge. I was impressed he stayed upright. Rory closed down the first leg at Point Danger looking like he pushed it hard.

 

Leg 2

 

 

The changeover was fast. Paul took on the 28km of Leg 2. Returning back to the start across the cliff tops. Straight into the wind. He took off at speed. I wondered if he would hold it or crash and burn.

 

The weather went from unpleasant to disgusting. At the half way mark I waited for Paul to arrive. A short warm up didn’t warm me up. I hid amongst the people hiding under the shelter. It helped me go from freezing to cold.

 

Paul came running in. He was saturated. A fist bump and it was my turn.

 

 

Leg 3

 

 

Wearing only a light spray jacket I wondered if it was a mistake. As the rain fell harder and harder I was wet through. For the first time we didn’t have to crawl under The Great Ocean Road. The river was too high. Finding gaps between the cars instead. After crossing the rain turned to hail. It was at this moment I wished I had worn a cap.

 

In these conditions there was only one way to stay warm…

 

Surf Coast Century Moggs Creek end of leg 3 start of leg 4

 

 

 

… run hard

 

That First Bit

 

On starting the first main climb the rain eased. Still cold, but I was happy little bits of ice were no longer bouncing off my face. Soon enough I was feeling a bit warm. I walked a few steps while I took off the jacket up the steep climb. Then it was on.

 

Mud, clay, water and more mud. The trail so slippery. Up and down, over and over. Staying upright was harder than usual. The clay slid and slipped like crazy. Confidence and technique kept my speed high on the descent. Leaning forward what felt way too far kept my feet from skidding out in front of me. In some sections you could ski on the mud for a few metres.

 

The more I ran the better I felt. My legs were responding well. First time in a while I felt good going uphill. An extra boost came from passing many of the 50km runners who had start about 25 minutes before me. Surprisingly social while racing so hard.

 

After the hills and clay it was time for some flowing single track through The Otways. Some protection was given from the icy winds by the trees and hills here. A mild downhill brings you to the start of a steady 6km climb. It is runnable, especially if you are only doing one leg of race. What got me over this climb was the anticipation of the 3km descent over the other side.

 

Definitely my favourite part of the course. The terrain isn’t super steep or crazy technical, but it requires concentration and confidence. Lean forward, open up, pick your line and fast feet. Down and down in a controlled fall. Weaving through the bush with the twists and turns. I found my flow. This is why I love trail running.

 

That Next Bit

 

Check point time. 21km covered of leaving only 7km for me. It wasn’t so much of a check point for me, more of a boost from the amazingly enthusiastic volunteers and supporters who had made their way out. Extra spring in my legs and into the last section.

 

Each year I forget just how hard this section is. Why don’t remember how steep and long the hills are?

 

Over the climbs I was sucking air. Heading down my legs threated to cramp. Despite this I was able to hold my speed into the check point to hand over to Mick. The hardest part of this was trying to coordinate my fingers to pass over the mandatory first aid kit. They were frozen.

 

Next challenge was trying not to bring up my breakfast.

 

I was successful…. just.

 

Leg 4

 

 

Mick smashed out the final leg. After an almost sunny start to his run the weather came back with a vengeance and threw hail down at him. He returned with stories of runners missing turns and a high tide forcing everyone into the softest of sand. Another solid run.

 

There is something extra to running when it is a team event. It brings out something extra in everyone.

 

 

Thank You

 

The Surf Coast Century is probably the most social of trail ultra marathons out there. Way too many people to mention everyone I met, chatted too, cheered, was cheered by or otherwise had some positive vibes. Still some shout outs are needed. To our other team, Jane, Jerome who were the solid rock of the team. Thank you to Jason who filled in at the last moment. Kudos to Rory from Leg 1 who jumped across and ran Leg 4 for so the others could record a finish due to an extra late withdraw. Extra thanks to my understanding family who tolerate and support me in this running thing.

 

Well done to all those who braved the conditions at Surf Coast Century 2018.

 

 

Coburg Half Marathon 2018: Race Report

Caught in between wanting to race and knowing I’m not as fast as I want to be. Leading into the Coburg Half Marathon the excuses not to race built up. None of the were good reasons. Only excuses.

 

My training has been the basics of base training. Most of it is easy. Where I gently push up my capabilities. A half marathon is that chance to really push out the boundaries to add a little extra.

 

My top end was definitely limited. A lack of high intensity training will do that. This meant a conservative race plan would get me my best result.

 

The Plan

 

* Relax and find a race rhythm
* Keep it feeling easy for the first half
* Gradually pick it up in the second half

 

I wasn’t expecting a personal best. I had to ignore placings. Time to relearn some self control in a race.

 

 

Let’s Go

 

Melbourne’s recent weather had seen some crazy winds, rain and cold. As seems to be my trend of late, the weather cleared up for close to perfect conditions.

 

Relaxed and easy.

 

Surprisingly this kept me up with the front runners. The opening out and back makes for a nice relaxed undulating rhythm. My legs felt fresh. It was easy to run too fast. I didn’t have the right fitness to go out hard. Being in this pack was forcing my pace up.

 

Today I took a different approach than usual. I backed off.

 

It was a subtle slow down. Hardly noticeable. A few seconds per kilometre. Gradually falling off the lead group.

 

This was a race and it didn’t feel right.

 

I reminded myself I knew my body. More than just understanding where my fitness was at. Here was the opportunity to bring back a bit of patience in my racing. If I was fitter than I thought I could attack later in the race.

 

Coburg Half Marathon Coburg Harriers Jason Montfort

 

Go Again

 

Halfway brought us back through the start line. It was a 2 lap course. For a half marathon it was feeling relatively comfortable. Definitely not easy, but I was in control. Working at the level I could hold my form together.

 

Curious to see how I a repeat over the course would go.

 

Out in 5th place. A gap of about a minute off the lead and 30 seconds from 4th place. Could I bring it back? Would anyone fade?

 

Sticking with the plan I gradually picked up the effort into the second half.

 

Despite a mild increase in heart rate, the resulting pace averaged about 8 seconds/km slower than first time over.

 

After the 16km mark I felt my legs change. They weren’t really hurting, just fatigued and losing power. My pace dropped and I struggled to keep the intensity. In no-man’s land. A good distance from 4th place and well ahead of 6th. This forced the race into being me against myself.

 

The Lead Runners at the Coburg Half Marathon 2018

 

Mind Games

 

It is a good place to be if you want to learn something about your mind.

 

Plenty of excuses presented themselves to justify slacking off. Mainly I could hold my place to the finish. That would be a way to finish with regret.

 

Instead I let those excuses continue on through. Refocused on form and tried to absorb myself in the process of running.

 

I’ll have to say I struggled with this. The negative thoughts kept creeping in, trying to distract me. For the next few kilometres it was a constant exercise in refocusing the mind. I was glad for the mindfulness training I do. It certainly got me back on track faster.

 

One last hill and a little under 2km to go.

 

My legs sucked. They didn’t want to run anymore. Luckily my mind started to enjoy itself again and over rode those legs. Looking at my splits I didn’t get any faster, but I definitely felt better. That brought me through the finish in an official time of 1:29:36 and 5th place over all. Well off my faster times, but where I should be based on my fitness.

 

Coburg Harriers Fun Runs

 

It was great to back at one of the Coburg Harriers Fun Runs. They have been amongst my favourite runs for the last 2 decades. Low key. Accurate courses. Super friendly. Crazy value for money. Get onto them.

Hard Core 100 Mile: Anatomy Of A DNF

What does it take to DNF at a 100 mile race and still be happy?

My first 100 mile race didn’t go to plan. It was cut short at 110km. In the hours and days following I’ve gone through a mix of emotions. Mainly flipping between disappointment and happiness.

Let’s break it down and put it back together.

In choosing the Hard Core 100 Mile Race I was aiming for something on the edge of my ability.

 

Preparation

 

This called for some solid training. I wrote out an amazing training plan. It was pretty impressive. Problem was I overestimated how much training I could fit into life. Instead of the plan, I did what I could. Some of the best training I’ve ever done, but one important element was still missing.

 

The really, really long run.

 

I never got over 40km for any of my training runs. Still a long way, but there is a big gap between 40km and 160km. I incorporated some work arounds to bridge the gap. Would it be enough?

 

Let’s Do This

 

Race morning felt good. Coffee, breakfast and my “race ready” tunes accompanied me on the drive down. Set up was simple and there was time to relax around the fire to chat. I felt nervous about not feeling nervous.

 

The 100 miles is broken up into 8 x 20km laps. The start of each lap takes us straight up Flinders Peak. About 300m elevation gain in only 1.5km. Just walking up can put your heart rate through the roof. Travelling back down with gravity is a technical descent that can beat up your legs if you make it too much fun on the way down. The remainder of the each lap is mainly runnable, with a moderate climb back to start / finish line.

 

Of utmost importance is not to go out too fast in an ultra marathon.

 

I went out too fast.

 

For the first 20km lap I was 30 minutes faster than planned. It felt ridiculously easy. Fresh from a taper. Excited with the race. Distraction of some good conversation with fellow runners. Caught up in the beauty of the You Yangs. All combined to for a fast start.

 

Better fix that.

 

I dropped back the pace and came in off of the second lap on pace. A good 30 minutes slower. This seemed right. My legs were hurting. That’s okay, I’d just run 40km.

 

What does it take to DNF at a 100 mile race and still be happy? My first 100 mile race didn't go to plan. It was cut short at 110km. In the hours and days following I've gone through a mix of emotions. Mainly flipping between disappointment and happiness. Let's break it down and put it back together.

 

Thinking?

 

What goes through your head when running so far?

 

Over the first two laps it was just enjoyment. There is a rhythm to the running that the mind follows. Relax, run, absorb the down hill softly, eat, drink, look around, relax…

 

During this opening time there isn’t much conscious thought. The process has been trained and I am just absorbed by it.

 

Beyond Training

 

Past 40km and I beyond anything I have done in training. What will happen from now?

 

Still in day light and moving well. Keep on doing what you are doing.

 

Simple. I had a patch where my body felt generally flat between around the 45km mark for a few kilometres. It soon passed. I was aware I had slowed a little bit, which wasn’t a concern. My legs weren’t hurting as much as they were back closer to 40km.

 

Another lap. This time a bit slower, but not deliberately. Still well in front of any time goals I had considered. Surely I couldn’t keep this up… oops… a little bit of doubt snuck in for a second. Better just climb Flinder’s Peak again.

 

Off the Peak and it’s time to pick up my headlamps for later in the lap. As the sun goes down so does my ability to run. My quads and calves are locked up. Not cramping. More like they are beaten and swollen so they just don’t very well. This is where I ignore my body’s pleas to stop.

 

Food Is Balance

 

If there is one thing I got right on the day it was my nutrition and fluid. Averaging 220 calories each hour made up of a mix of Hammer Perpetuem and Hammer Gel. Plus a Hammer Bar after every 2 laps. This worked a treat.

 

Only one slight issue was around 9 hours my stomach clearly wasn’t emptying. I had a mild slump in energy as I wasn’t absorbing what I had been taking in. The main contributor seemed to be I’d be a bit heavier on consuming the Perpetuem and Gel mix over the previous hour and was down on the water. Easy fix. Drink more water and back off on the Perpetuem and Gels for a while.

 

Knowing that fine, moving line of what the body can absorb and adjusting as needed makes a difference.

 

100 mile nutrition #howihammer

 

Shut Up Legs

 

It wasn’t reduced effort that had me travelling slower. My intensity was definitely up. I could feel my heart beating faster. My breathing rate increased and my legs went slower.

 

Up the Big Rock climb towards the end of lap I checked my dashboard:

  • Headspace: good, a few negative thoughts, but none taking hold
  • General energy: surprisingly high
  • Nutrition: on track
  • Upper body: tending to tighten up, fixed with conscious relaxation
  • Middle body: back is getting lazy, need to make sure I hold posture
  • Legs: locking more and more, left leg is very tight laterally and pulling my kneecap across, should be able control with some taping
  • Pace: slower and slower

80km completed. A restock of food and water. Tape around my knee. Back up and down Flinder’s Peak. Out for another lap.

 

Pain in the legs was irrelevant. It was getting worse, but that was always going to happen. My legs were having moments where they would just fail. Loss of power and coordination made for some questionable footing over rocks. It was a stretch to describe my movement as running.

 

Past 90km and I could hardly force my legs to move. It was slow.

 

Decisions

 

Make the right decision.

 

I told myself this on the climb up to Big Rock. At this point I couldn’t see how I could keep going. My legs had almost completely shut down. I kept doing the maths and the numbers weren’t good. A lot was telling me I couldn’t keep going. If I went with the flow, then I was going to pull at 100km.

 

Instead I made a decision.

 

Take your time at the aid station. Change into warmer clothes. Sit down and eat some real food. Some pasta found it’s way into my hands because this race has the most amazing volunteers. Give your body a chance to recuperate. Then go out easy and keep moving.

 

This decision was extremely important. With the value of hindsight if I pulled out at that 100km mark I definitely would have had regret. It would have been giving up.

 

On my feet. Up Flinder’s Peak again. Going up was slow. I keep knocking my feet on the rocks as I failed to lift them enough. There was a disconnect between what I was trying to do and what my body would do. The descent was ridiculous. It was constant problem solving on how not to fall on steps and rocks. I stayed upright, but it wasn’t pretty.

 

Onto the relatively flatter portion I forced myself along. Running was no longer possible. My left ankle and leg was giving me problems. I thought I’d gotten past those injury issues, but I guess this is the sort of race that will show up your weak links. I got out the tape and added more to my mix.

 

It didn’t help much.

 

Other’s came past me. No longer were they just asking how I was going or having a chat. There were genuine offers of help. My struggle was that obvious.

 

Eventually I made it to the Sandy Point aid station at the 110km mark. I would have described myself as stumbling in, but I was moving too slow to stumble. The body had gone past it’s limit. I had passed the point of mind over body. My mind still was trying to move, but my body had finally failed.

 

 

Summary

 

Writing this report up helped me work through how I feel about the event. I’ve settled on a small dose of disappointment wrapped up in happiness and pride on achieving my further distance so far.

 

Could I have finished the race?

 

In the state I had reached I know I couldn’t finish the full distance. However, I got myself into that state by missing out on some important training then going out way too fast in the first part of the race.

 

Even without changing the training, if I had of raced smarter and slower over the first 40km I definitely would be in a different state. I would likely have been able to finish. I was stripped down to my absolute basic and found my current limit. Next up is working to push that limit out further.

 

Thank You

 

Thank you to everyone who was ever involved in any way in this event. The volunteers are unbelievable in their commitment. I cannot thank them enough. The race organisers, especially Brett who put on this race and even drove me back to the start after I failed. My family are amazing. Your support for my craziness makes life awesome. My friends who are just so cool. Plus all you others who inspire me through your own running and achievements. The online running community is something to be proud of.

 

Wings For Life 2018

Putting down some big goals for Wings For Life 2018. I hoped to regain the running form from 10 years ago. Back when I had less commitments in life. From where my fitness was back in December last year, it was going to be a very big ask.

 

The training went well. Each month I went from strength to strength. It was hard to complain about improvement. I didn’t hit the numbers in training I considered were needed to run beyond a marathon at Wings For Life 2018. I was somewhat close, so I hung on to the hope of pulling it together during the race.

 

No point in being conservative. Might as well put out the effort to reach beyond the marathon. I wasn’t going to fail from lack of effort.

 

Wings For Life Event Hub

 

Keeping to usual form I arrived early.

 

Being early allowed me to have everything sorted and ready. Then time to relax and socialise. This was one of the best parts of the event. The vibe was positive. Many familiar faces. Some new faces. Unfortunately I didn’t get to catch up with everyone I wanted to.

 

Time for business. Stiffness has seeped into my joints. A brief warm up and I was feeling ready. The mass of runners worked their way down to the star line. Near the front with a couple of friends, we talked rubbish waiting for the countdown that seemed to take for ages.

 

A few minutes out an official picked me out and asked if I was going to run beyond 40km. I told him that was the plan. That meant for a shirt swap. The race shirt I was given at registration was orange. Apparently they wanted the runners out front all to be in yellow. So yellow it was. It created an obligation to run well.

 

Event Hub Wings For Life World Run Melbourne 2018

 

World Run Global Start

 

As one we all started around the world.

 

Running for those that can’t.

 

My legs had practiced race pace so they knew what to do. Straight into it. The seeding seemed to work well. There were lots of runners, but plenty of space. Taking over a freeway probably helped with the space.

 

At the 5km mark I hit my target split of 22:05 to the second. I wasn’t feeling great. A headache was crashing in and I just felt tired. It was early days, so I just sucked it up and expected to feel better as the run unfolded. When I’m fit I often find something tends to click about an hour in and running can feel easier. I knew I was that fit.

 

For the next 5km is the majority of ascent on this course. When driving the Monash Freeway you don’t notice the hills. Running is a different story. None of the hills are steep, but they are long and steady and can be risky. The sort of hills that can have you run too hard and come back to bite you later on. My plan was to allow for only a slight increase in effort. Thinking if I crossed the 10km mark at 45:00 then I would be spot on.

 

So close, 45:01 was the 10km time. The clock I was on target. My body was having doubts.

 

Fight It

 

The headache had increased. That was something I could put up with. Worrying me was the fact most of my joints hurt. Feet, ankles, knees, hips, shoulder and elbows just hurt. It didn’t make sense. Certainly wasn’t something I was use to feeling when running.

 

Rationalising it was a bad patch I pushed on. Maybe the uphill was just harder than I gave it credit. Now slightly down hill I could spin the legs and let gravity do some of the work.

 

Gravity worked. The landing of each foot not so much. My joints became stiff. They felt almost like they were swollen. Running became more difficult. I was maintaining my pace, but it was far from my usual efficiency. Something wasn’t right

 

Around the 14km mark and my body decided it wouldn’t play nice. There was only a semblance of strength left in my legs. Despite plenty of mental effort, I just couldn’t make them go any faster. I’d completed plenty of training runs that were faster and longer than where I was now.

 

Fighting back got me to the 15km mark and my 3rd 5km split. 22:35. Those extra 30 seconds were all added after 14km.

 

Acceptance

 

That was it. My running continued to slow step after step. I continued to hang to hope of “coming good” at some point. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a way to make it happen. My head hurt with the mix of emotions churning around inside the headache. Gradually I accepted it wasn’t my day.

 

Now with a bit of mental freedom I was able to find enjoyment back in the run. It was still a struggled, and despite pushing I kept getting slower. I smiled when I realised this race was probably the only way you could enjoy being on the Monash Freeway.

 

The inevitability of the catcher car crept into my thoughts. When hurting a race I often latch onto the concept that if I run faster I can finish sooner. In the Wings For Life World Run running faster would prolong the pain, but also the enjoyment. A tug of war between wishing the car would catch sooner versus wishing to run further rage amongst my grey matter. I wondered what could have been if the race went somewhat close to plan. This had become an event I will be definitely be back for.

 

You feel the buzz of energy approaching as the catcher car comes into range. There is an excitement and celebration. A mixture of enjoyment and relief hit me as the catcher car passed. 24.8km. A long way off trying to go further than 42.195km. I was disappointed with the result, but I still enjoyed the Wings For Life 2018 World Run. Definitely a race to come back to.

 

Race Coverage

 

Check out all the coverage from the event around the world:

 

 

 

Half Marathon Emergency Services Games 2018

There’s racing. Then there’s racing the hard way. The Victoria Police & Emergency Services Games Half Marathon 2018 was definitely the hard way.

 

Even though my training has been aimed at future events, I felt it would have me on track for this race. During the week I was confident in the running over the last couple of months. I thought I knew the course. All I had to do was put it all together on the day. A last minute change in venue meant I no longer knew the course. Full credit to the race director, Tamara who pulled the race together at the last minute.

 

The Scene

 

Ballarat is notorious for being cold. The drive over reinforced that. The temperature started out at a nice 22 degrees Celcius at home, but when 20 minutes out of Ballarat plummeted down to 15. A few minutes later down came the rain.

 

Once at the race start, the rain decided stay away. The sun even snuck out from behind the clouds. Conditions were looking pretty good. The wind was trying to make its presence known. I remarked to someone, “It’s only wind, doesn’t look like it’ll be too bad.”

 

Today I felt ready.

 

A new, last minute course. The format for the 21.1km was simple.

⦁ 1.1km out and back loop
⦁ 4 x 5km circuits of Victoria Park

 

The track is a mixture of bitumen and gravel. All considered flat. It was pretty similar to the usual course around Lake Wendouree, just with a few more twists and turns. Other than the wind, the run should just be a matter of effort and whatever my fellow runners can deliver.

 

Flat Lay Emergency Services Games Half Marathon

 

Half Marathon Time

 

“Runners ready…”

 

Bang

 

I ran.

 

There was a simplicity in the opening loop. No clock watching. No over thinking. Just running. It came naturally. It felt right.

 

Coming into the wide turn around I was in second place. Coming out of the turn I was in first. As we finished the opener 1.1km I noticed there was a slight gap behind me already. Time to start the first of 4 laps.

 

The wind picked up. It gave me a nudge from behind and threw an acorn at my head. Might get interesting on the other side when it would be a headwind. I could make use of this.

 

I increased my speed. Seeking that balance between fast enough to gain an advantage, but without blowing my race later. It’s something I don’t get it right very often. This time I had a lot of faith in my training. While it wasn’t directed at the half marathon it should have given me a solid base. I’ve strung together a few 100km weeks. That should allow me to surge and recover more than usual.

 

Keeping this up for the next 2km put me a good distance out in front. I guessed it was something between 20-30 seconds. From here I thought I could settle back into something a little more sustainable. The plan was now to time trial to the end and respond to any attempts to catch me. Confidence was high today.

 

Which Way?

 

Suddenly the gravel path came to an end.

There were two options:
1. Cross a large intersection over a 6 lane road
2. Run on the verge of the road without a path

No way would the race course take us over either of those options.

 

I stopped. Weighed up my options and struggled to make a decision. Checking behind 2nd and 3rd were almost with me. We all decided we had missed a turn somewhere. Behind them we could see a lot of other runners. Had everyone just followed me?

 

We ran down the verge of the road. It was the most likely way to get back. The three of us discussed where we may gone wrong. We weren’t sure. After some running we could make out the track over in the distance. We cut across the grass. Back on course. Looking over my shoulder the other runners followed.

 

Closing down the lap. The detour didn’t add much distance. Maybe a bit over 100m. It did cost me time and gave away the lead I’d built. Running over the line I let the organiser know what had happened.

 

Some paranoia had entered my thoughts. Looking at every possible turn or side trail I now wondered where I should go. Other than that I was pleased my thoughts were in check. Not worrying about what could have been, my mind looked ahead and focussed on the now.

 

Let’s Try This Again

 

Again I pushed the first 2km of the lap. It was less effective this time, but I still create a gap. Around the back of the course and returning into the headwind. There was no obvious turn off to me. I was running with confidence when Mark who was in second place called out to me.

 

I’d missed the turn off. Mark had been smarter and asked a couple of random guys who appeared to be local. They pointed him in the right direction. For the same reason, the lead was gone again. At least I knew where the course went. That would be handy in for the last two laps.

 

My earlier viewpoint on the wind was now null and void. It wasn’t “only wind,” anymore. This was really hard. So hard I made a point of checking the weather observations after the race. Looks like we were battling 40km/h winds. That’s why it felt so easy to let it suck the speed away. If I’m feeling it, then others might feel the same.

 

With that thought I came up with a new strategy. I was worried I’d used up any kick I had in my legs. My best chance was to make the most of the volume I’d been running over the previous weeks. I pushed in against the wind. Only 9km in. This was going to hurt.

 

Somehow that had me out in front again at the end of lap 2. A boost from the wind at my back helped me find a solid rhythm. My mind was clear. I had found flowstate. The intensity was up, but I wasn’t having trouble maintaining it. Through the trees and the wind threw another acorn at my head. I was glad it wasn’t one of the pine cones.

 

Around the back of the course and up to the infamous turn off. There were now some markings to make sure nobody ran the wrong way. I certainly didn’t this time. Back against the wind and across the line marking the end of lap 3. I was proud of that lap.

 

Last Lap

 

The final lap. 5km to go.

 

Now the event was catching up with me. I was able to keep my cadence up, but each step was covering a little less ground. Despite increasing the effort, my pace was down slightly.

 

One advantage of the twists and turns on course is it makes it easy check out what’s happening behind. Second place was a new person. He was in a bright orange singlet, making it easoer to keep tabs on him. The gap was closing at a convincing rate. With how much I was hurting, I was concerned.

 

The finish line came closer.

 

The gap behind narrowed.

 

Into the final kilometre. I could feel my competitor behind me. I could hear his feet and breathing. Without looking it was clear he doing everything he could to pass me.

 

Now about 500m out. I’d invested too much into this race to give it up now. I felt sick as I forced my legs into a sprint. They responded and I was moving faster. It didn’t seem like it was enough.

 

Only 300m left. Somehow I found more than I thought I had. This was outside my training. Outside my fitness. The foot steps behind me seemed to vanish. Maybe I pulled away. More likely it was just too hard to pay attention.

 

The Victoria Police & Emergency Services Games Half Marathon 2018 was likely the hardest half marathon I have run. Consistent training put me in a good position. Happily I got more out of myself than my fitness suggested. My mindset worked. It was a throwback to my younger days when I used to be able to race above myself. This day I achieved exactly that.

 

It feels great to come away with the win.

10km Cross Country: Emergency Services Games 2018

Days like today are needed. Running provides more than just fitness and competition.

 

Motivation for running has been low this week. My mind has been on other concerns. Things I cannot control. Challenges and worry many of us face. A good run can help get those thoughts on track. The right kind of run can also remind you about great things in life. Today provided one of those runs.

 

Victoria Police & Emergency Services Games

 

Get Ready

 

My playlist spun out some tunes on the drive down. Gradually my mind absorbed the music and began to feel some relaxed readiness.

 

The race has such a low key feel. I arrived extra early as usual. This gave the opportunity to explore the top section of the course. The ground was so dry it was like concrete. A far cry from a muddy cross country. It would still provide it’s own challenges.

 

Eventually I started something resembling a run to warm up. It was probably the most easy going warm up I’ve ever done.

 

There was once a time when I hardly spoke to others before the race. It wasn’t deliberate. It was a byproduct of what I thought I had to do to become focussed. To reduce the nervous feeling. To be at my best. That has changed. I smiled to myself as I realised I was so comfortable socialising before race start.

 

 

Thinking

 

A bit of spraypaint between two witches hats marked the start. My foot pressed in on the dry grass behind the paint. I looked up at the small rise we were about to run over. Heard the call “On your marks…”

 

Pressed start on my watch.

 

“Go.”

 

That rise felt hard.

 

It shouldn’t feel hard. Why did it feel hard?

 

I’m in 4th place and the three in front look too comfortable. My mind flicks back through the previous week of running. At the start the of the week I procastinated and gave opportunity away to the unexpected. I missed some training. Delayed my key run. That key run went well. I nailed all the intervals. Now I’m thinking I did it too close to the race. The legs haven’t had time to recover.

 

Only 200m into the race. Why am I thinking all this? It certainly isn’t going to help.

 

Now heading down hill. I know I’m good at using gravity, but I’m not feeling the flow. Thinking is getting in the way.

 

Bringing my mind in on my breathing. The single point focus happened quickly. Using the mindfulness I’ve been practising do it’s thing. It was only four or five breaths and I broke the cascade of negative thoughts. It was a reset.

 

Thinking was overrrated. My body knew what to do. It had practiced it. Time to give it the freedom to get on with it.

 

 

Racing

 

The pace didn’t change. It didn’t feel so hard anymore. No clock watching. Instead I ran at what felt right. Comfortable in the uncomfortable.

 

Third place became my new position. The field spread out behind me, while the 2 up front still looked comfortable out there. Already 26 seconds ahead at the 2.5km turnaround. My mind was clear enough to allow some simple productive thought. I made to the decision to free myself from tactics. They were only going to get in the way. My best shot was to try to run the course as fast as possible. Basically continue doing what I was doing.

 

Just before 4km the hills start. Going up still isn’t my best point, but I have been working on it. I’ve improved my speed going up, but it now comes at a cost that I can’t pay back within a 10km race. So I approach the climb more like an ultra runner. Upping the cadence, keeping the stride relatively short and reducing the toe off I made my way up. My pace was a result of leg turnover and not from any power in my stride. It worked better than I anticipated. On this hill I moved up into 2nd place over all.

 

Briefly down, up again and down over the spray painted line. That’s the first 5km complete.

 

Repeat

 

A low grade burn was building throughout every part of my legs. The welcoming relief of dropping back into an easy jog touted a sales pitch. Luckily I was distracted with chasing down the remaining runner. Not that I closed down the gap since the turnaround. Let’s see what that gap is second time through.

 

My intensity was up. More effort was put into lowering my mental load. I lost myself for a moment in the irony of the concept. Which was also counterproductive. Breath in…

 

…breath out… back on track. Luckily my body was mostly on autopilot. It was doing what it was supposed despite my brain.

 

At the turnaround again.

 

No gain and no loss on 1st place.

 

A different runner was gunning for me from behind. He gave me the familiar competitive look. I love racing. This moment pushed the away my negative thinking. I was again back in the moment. Back to feeling the mix of intensity and movement.

 

Ambulance Vic Medals Cross Country Emergency Services Games 2018

 

Results

 

Along the path, back to the hills. My body didn’t slow. Running became physically harder. I was at the limit of my fitness. My lungs felt like they wanted to leap out of me to catch a break. The contents of my stomach considered following the lungs. It wasn’t enough to take the out right win. But it was more than enough for 2nd overall and 1st in my age group (40-44 male).

 

Flicking through my GPS data showed I managed to negative split the race. Gaining 1-3 seconds in achieving kilometre on the second lap. That’s something I don’t usually do in 10km.

 

This race more than just a simple cross country. It’s the people who make it.

 

Coburg Lake Classic 10km: Race Report 2018

Coburg Lake Classic 10k

The Coburg Lake Classic could well be Melbourne’s longest running fun run. The inaugural event was back in my birth year of 1977. I

didn’t run it then. A classic it is. In charge of the event are the Coburg Harriers. They focus on getting the basics right. No extras.

No fanfare. Just a friendly, relaxed and accurate race. I really love the old school style.

 

During the week I wondered if I should skip the race. I knew I wasn’t race fit. A combination of school holidays and some unexpected extra

work hours meant a lot of training was skipped. My long run earlier in the week was missed. I could justify not racing the 10km event

and just put in some longer and easier kilometres. It would also be pretty easy to write a blog post about the importance of not missing

the long run. But that would just be an excuse. The reality is I was scared of racing 10km.

 

I know I raced 5km a couple of weeks ago. To a degree I can fake a 5km. Doubling the distance will show up fitness gaps. It

could be better staying in ignorant bliss. I could skip the 10km and claim I’m an ultra runner. Sprinkle over a bit of acceptance

and go on about still coming back from injury. The truth is racing a 10km hurts and it can hurt a lot.

 

At times we are faced with a choice between what is easy and what will be best.

 

Don’t choose what is easy.

 

The not so easy option

On the morning I didn’t feel like was about to race. I didn’t have my usual buzz of anticipation.  Best to take a long gradual warm up. Working up from a ridiculously slow shuffle to a few run throughs at race pace eventually uncovered some of that buzz. We assembled in the club rooms for the briefing.

 

I was now ready to race.

 

Simplicity is my preferred option in race plans.  I haven’t trained at around 10km race pace. Best to avoid smashing my weakness and try to suck some advantage out of my endurance. The plan:

  • Go out conservative for a 10km.
  • Ignore the front runners. Today is not the day to try and stay out front.
  •  Keep that pace until 7km and try and pick up in the closing 3km.

 

That seemed doable when bounced around inside my head.

 

Time to Race

 

The opening kilometre is interesting. The 5km runners start about 200m ahead of the 10km. Despite the faster 10’ers passing the slower 5’ers  it works. The numbers are small enough. The path is wide enough. Plus the friendliness of this race shows up. No one is held up.

 

The course can be thought of as 2 main sections. First is a mildly undulating out and back covering 4km. The return takes you almost back to the start before turning into a different out of back of 6km with a good size hill in the middle. You get to hit the hill from both sides.

 

I keep my speed in check and feel I could hold it for the full distance. The legs are happy. I’m not breathing too hard. I trust my experience to know I am a bit above threshold. Hopefully I’ve picked the sweet spot.

 

Over the mild undulations of the 2km brings up the first turnaround. I find myself in 5th place. The front 3 are moving off ahead and I know they are likely to stay that way. I’m feeling pretty good at this point. Retracing my steps back over the 2km seemed ok. I didn’t feel as comfortable and my pace seemed a little erratic. Honestly, I just felt out of practice.

 

Onto the second section. Out by myself, 3rd place was well ahead of me. It was just myself against the course. A brief flat section and then into the first climb. I tried to make the hill feel good.  It didn’t work.

 

The down hill is usually my friend. Not for today. I felt like I was playing just behind the beat.

 

Part 2

 

Off the hill and it’s mostly flat with some very mild undulations to the turn around. Now past 5km I was struggling. My pace was lagging. I knew I was working hard, but it wasn’t hurting in the way a 10km should. It was more I lacked the strength to keep up my speed. My legs just seemed to be failing me. This was disappointing. It wasn’t part of my race plan. I was still meant to be running at my opening speed. Picking it up over the final 3km seemed unlikely.

 

The turnaround allowed me to check on the top 3 runners. First and second were challenging each and well in front of me. Third certainly had a clear gap on me. Just not as big as I thought it would be. Maybe I could catch him. It was a thought I made sure I grabbed hold of. Maybe I could get myself out of this slump. The idea was appealing. Make it more than just an idea.

 

Now I was hurting. Around the turnaround. Forcing the idea out of my head and into my legs. I managed to get my pace back up. There was plenty of space between those behind me, so no point looking back. Best to set my sites in front. Over the next kilometre I was able to keep up the speed. The lactic acid burn flooded through my legs. In a strange way I was enjoying the burn. It made me feel like I was truly racing again. My muscles didn’t enjoy it. They reminded me I wasn’t race fit. They struggled in the acidic environment and just wouldn’t fire properly. Running coordination seemed to dwindle quickly, and with it went any speed I’d been able to muster.

 

It wasn’t through a lack of trying, but the final 2km were relatively slow. I’m not so sure I could call it running. Was I getting any air time in my stride? Maybe I was just walking quickly. This took me back over the hill, which wasn’t pretty. Eventually back onto the athletics track and across the finish line. Still in 4th place, and a time of 41:52. Far from my faster 10km races and slower than predicted off my 5km race time. I learnt a lot this day.

 

 

Wellness Walk and Research Run 5km: Race Report 2017

Preamble

 

Time to test the ankle. I pulled through 50km last weekend without injury problems. Some conditioning issues, but no injury concerns. This weekend it was time to test how I held up against some speed.

 

It was a last minute decision. My Dad told me the before he was going to run 5km at the Wellness Walk and Research Run in support of Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre. A great cause. With no other plans, I had to join in the fun.

 

Usually I pick the longer option. I tried something different and ignored the 10km, opting to run the 5km instead. There was a little bit of safety in this decision. I haven’t run faster than 5:00/km since May this year. If my ankle didn’t hold up, there would be less damage at the shorter distance. Of course I was hoping there would be no problem.

 

The morning was cold. I had to clear the ice off my car to head down. A Melbourne Spring morning. Cold giving way to a warm, sunny and clear day. For the 5km run, the numbers weren’t huge. The masses were turning up later for the walk instead. However, there were enough to make a good event. The mood was exceptionally positive. Such a feel good start.

 

I attempted to shake out the heaviness my legs seemed to be carrying over from last weekend. During the warm up I realised it wasn’t heaviness. My legs just haven’t run fast for months. They didn’t know what to do. Can’t change it now. Best not to worry. Chatting with my Dad passed the last few minutes. I moved to the front for the start. Even if I couldn’t stay there, I would see how I compared to the front runners.

 

Oliva Newton John appeared, shared some awesomeness. Then we were off and running.

 

WWRR2017 Map

Racing

 

I ran out. No checking pace. Just relying on what seemed to feel right for a 5km race. That feeling erred on the side of feeling a bit too fast. Surprised, I found myself in the lead. I could here footsteps right at my heels. No point looking behind. Aim for the lead cyclist. Run the lines well. Keep the cadence up.

 

This was a road race. No technical trails or slippery surface. Black bitumen flowed underfoot. It is a style of racing that clears away the distractions. It shows your weaknesses easily. This race did exactly that.

 

I kept the lead position for maybe the first kilometre. The road became a mild hill. I’d almost forgotten how a small gradient can be a big obstacle when the pace is high. My legs wanted to run the slope as an ultra runner. That wasn’t going to help. I forced the legs to keep some semblance of 5km stride in them. This certainly wasn’t my strong point. I was relegated to second place. My legs weren’t really hurting, but I couldn’t make them go faster. Interrupting my racing brain a realisation crept in. My ankle seemed to be handling the faster running!

 

With my fear covered, I now had permission to just race. I pushed the cadence and tried hard to toe on each stride. Run tall. Hips forward. It was a small battle against some bad habits that had crept into my style. For the most part I won that battle. It wasn’t a completely convincing victory. The mild climb crested and became a very mild down hill. I loved it. Gravity was again my friend. I focussed on keeping my body forward, and pushing quickly through my toe off. Feeling fast I gained a couple of metres back on first place.

 

Now about halfway. The remainder was almost completely flat. A few turns. Nothing hard. The course weaved through the buildings of La Trobe University. It had been many years since I last had a look around this campus. I was impressed in how much nicer it now looked… oops… where was I? Oh yeah, I’m meant to be racing. Not sure how long I was lost in other thoughts. Did I drop off the pace? Maybe a little, but hard to tell. First was moving further away. I couldn’t see any challenges coming up behind. Safe in second. But this is a race! Nothing exceptional comes out of being safe. A little over 1km left. Better make the most of it.

 

I know I put all my effort into the closing section. I felt like I couldn’t suck in enough oxygen. My legs developed the lactic acid burn I haven’t felt for so long. Despite this increase in effort, I didn’t really go any faster. I just stopped myself from slowing down. Which I am happy with. Across the finish. Aaron who took first place was waiting across line. He deserved the win. I was happy with my effort combined with the bonus of taking second place.

Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre Race

Afterthoughts

 

After crossing the finish I made my way back to find my Dad. It was quite cool to run a bit with him as covered the final section.

 

Most people will be touched by cancer in some way. I was impressed with positivity this event created in the fight agains cancer. It will be good to support the event next year.

 

I knew I’d missed racing. I’d forgotten just how much I love racing. Well off my fastest times (and I should be at this stage). Now I know I am ready to really train. No longer just building back from injury. Time to work out what goals to chase.

Surf Coast Century Relay 2017: Race Report

There is so much to love about this race. I’ve only missed one year since the inaugural Surf Coast Century in 2012. I plan to keep coming back.

 

If you are looking to try out trail running or an ultra marathon this would be an event to get to. The atmosphere is huge. The course is spectacular. It is a challenge whether you are doing a 21km leg or the full 100km, but there is so much support this event lifts you to achieve more than you thought you could.

Surf Coast Century Race Start Head Torches

It’s becoming an annual event for me with some awesome work colleagues. Our numbers seem to be growing. Fielding 3 teams this year. Two as 4 person relays. My team was 3. Andrew taking out the first 21km leg. Mick for 28km in leg 2. Myself given the job of two people and covering the 52km of legs 3 and 4.

 

Racing this year was an important benchmark. After injury at Wilsons’s Promontory 100km in May it is my first event back. Still no where near what I consider race fit, it was a challenge to get up to cover 50km of trails. If I can do this, then I can start thinking big for next year.

Anglesea to Torquay to Anglesea: (0-49km)

Having others run makes the first 49km a lot easier. It’s one of the advantages being part of a relay. It’s still an early, predawn start. Andrew trained well. Despite some injury issues got himself into great shape to smash out the  21km of Leg 1 across the beaches.

 

Mick took over at Torquay. Putting his hyperactivity to good use, set out and gained many spots over Leg 2. Face planting into a puddle didn’t seem to slow him down much. He ran hard and fast over the 28km of trails, hills and hinterland.

Surf Coast Century Leg 1 to Leg 2

 

Anglesea to Moggs Creek: 0-28km (49-77km)

Half way through the race (or near enough) for the team. One difficulty in ultra length relays is timing being ready for your leg. It was a mixture of trying to relax and keep moving. A balance that would be more difficult if I was aiming for a fast time. The pressure was off on my speed. The challenge was to see if I was able to cover the distance. Recent rains resulted in a minor course change. Bringing the distance up to 52km for the two legs I was about to run. We’ll just ignore the extra distance. I just wondered if I could make it.

 

Mick returned looking like he had run it hard. Passed over the first aid kit which was operating as our relay baton. Over the timing mats I went. My test had started.

 

The first few steps felt great. My body felt smooth and relaxed. My mind was a different story. A flood of what if scenarios smashed through my thoughts. None of them particularly positive. I knew the stretch between where I had trained versus what I was attempting was big. Thinking about all the possible reasons of failing wasn’t going to help. I distracted my brain by attempting to count my breaths per every 10 steps. Trying to count different breathes and steps at the same time fills brain space. Using numbers often overrides my subjective thoughts. It worked.

 

The trail takes us under the bridge of the Great Ocean Road. It is a narrow space to crawl through. A solo 100km runner in front of me was cramping through this crawl. I had an appreciation for doing this move fresh.

 

Into the hills. Nothing technical for the next few kilometres. Just lots of up and down. Not putting time pressures on myself allowed me to really enjoy this section. Mostly wide fire trail here. When focussing on the few steps in front it has felt a bit bland in previous years. Now I had the head space to look around more. The views into the Otways are spectacular. I’m surprised I haven’t appreciated this before.

 

Venturing off the fire trails it gets a little more interesting under foot. A few more turns. A little extra concentration on where you land. I started feeling pleasantly lost in the bush. No longer thinking about how much further I had to run. Instead I was looking forward to the journey.

 

The sound of cheering seeped through the trees. Indicating I was almost at Distillery Creek Road. This was exciting. The trail beyond the road crossing is some of the best single track in the country for running. I was excited. So was the small crowd at the road. My sis and bro-in-law were there giving me a boost. As was a girl dressed up as a strawberry!

 

Off the road… “it’s swim time!” I announced as I took the straight line through a knee deep puddle that others were taking the long and muddy way around. My shoes were already wet, and the dip seemed to clean off some of the mud I’d previously accumulated. A slippery, muddy and flowing single track led down into bush paradise. There was a lot of variety in speeds of runners through this section. Some were doing the 100km solo, others the 50km option and the remainder one leg of the relay. It was an interesting mix up. Quite social.

Surf Coast Century Leg 3

In trail running what goes down must come up. In this case it was 6km of moving against gravity. Not too steep. In my frame of mind it was very enjoyable. I also knew better was yet to come. Over the top and the trail travels with gravity for my favourite 3km of the whole 100km Surf Coast Century course.

These 3km is steep enough you can allow gravity to do almost all the work. It is just technical enough you need some agility and skill. It is a combination that hits my sweet spot in trail running. Because there is a risk to my ankle from going hard down hill I modified my stride a little. I made an effort to shorten the stride length and avoid any big step downs. Taking multiple steps down any drops where I normally just would have just jumped down. This worked. My legs spun. The impact seemed light. My ego was boosted as I passed a lot of other runners. It felt perfect. This is why I run.

 

Moggs Creek to Anglesea 28-51km (77-100km)

The checkpoint was full. So many people to support all the runners. It’s amazing as it is the most difficult one to get into. So it is an effort for spectators and supporters to be here. It was crowded.

 

I’d absolutely loved the previous 28km. Some warning signs of fatigue were showing up in my ankle. There was also some pain in a risky spot. Maybe I’d taken that 3km down hill a bit too fast. Part of me wished I had a relay runner to swap over to. Turns out my head wasn’t working very well. Having attempted to calculate a finishing time I asked my team to make sure they got my head torch to me later. They had to explain to me I could walk the remainder and be in before dark. Not sure what was going on there. Mick gave me an espresso, I ate some food and my mind cleared. Eventually I left the checkpoint. It was only 6 minutes, but I felt like I’d kicked back for an hour.

 

Fueled and refreshed. Climbing up the single track. My ankle was hurting. This made me worry , so I walked a lot of the next couple of kilometres. Gradually I added in more running. A process of trial and error revealed what hurt and what seemed to allow me to keep running.

 

With a careful style I ran slowly. I really wanted to go faster. Instead I erred on the side of caution. I didn’t want to take another month off running. This race was meant to be my springboard into more. In a lot of ways it didn’t feel right to hold back. It created a lot of conflict in my thinking. It was much harder than I realised to be in a race and not racing.

 

The battle in brain distracted me until the trail spat me out at the Great Ocean Road. Another bridge to go under. My mind clearly wasn’t working well. This bridge is much easier than the first, but not for me at this time. With no ability to focus or decide where to put my hands and feet I was embarrassed in my efforts. Jane from one of other teams caught me here. She was polite enough not to openly laugh at me.

Check Point 7 Surf Coast Century

On the other side it was good to run with her into the checkpoint. Only 14km left. I stopped and smashed down a Red Bull and Clif Bar. Jane ran off ahead. There were no doubts now. I knew I was going to finish. On and up towards the Airey’s Inlet Lighthouse. The trail was easier here and allowed for some better running. I got into a disconnected zone and soon had over 7km covered.

 

This brought me out to the beach. Sis and bro-in-law were nailing the supporter roles big time. The muscles of my feet and lower leg were cramping and basically failing to do their job now. Sand didn’t help. Luckily I was caught by a blast from the past of my triathlon days. We had about 6km to the finish. It was good having Christian to run with. Catching up and reminiscing helped distract the mind and we pushed each other to cover the final kilometres faster. My technique wasn’t the prettiest, but it got me through. This the was first race I’ve ever run where I didn’t try to beat those around me in the closing stages. I finally understood why many cross the finish together. It is a different feeling, but it is a good feeling. There is more to racing than just racing.

 

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Also check out the race site itself at Surf Coast Century.

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