Friday, September 14, 2012

Lake to Lagoon Fun Run, September 2012

The Lake to Lagoon is Wagga's biggest (and, um, only) road race and afforded me a minor degree of local celebrity last year, when I won it mostly untrained and in not much style at all (ending up in the medical tent is never a good look).

This year, the pressure was totally on to repeat my victory, especially after my success in the Trail Marathon 3 weeks earlier. I knew that I was in great running shape - 2012 has been my best year of running ever - and that barring someone speedy showing up from out of town, I had a good chance of winning again.

BUT - my immune system apparently had other ideas. The head cold that had me feeling disgusting on the morning of the City2Surf passed quickly enough, but in the week before the Lake to Lagoon I realised I was now getting laryngitis. On Friday morning I started coughing, and by Saturday it was clear that the virus was planning on heading south to my lungs. I prepared myself with a ventolin inhaler and some cough suppressant, which at least meant I got a reasonable sleep on Saturday night, but when I awoke on Sunday not really any better, I knew anything could happen during the course of the run.


The Training
Nothing specific - I just ran as much as I could in the week after the trail marathon (on VERY sore legs) and hit 76 miles the week after that. I cut back on the distance some in the lead-up to the Lake to Lagoon, left out the weekly long run altogether, and just counted on the race distance (9.5km or just under 6 miles) being short enough that I could treat it as a tempo run and not die. Also, the knowledge that I had run the City2Surf at an overall pace that I would happily accept for this shorter race meant I had some measure of confidence going into it.


Race Day
A chance to sleep in! The ridiculously late 10:30am start for this race has at least one advantage: I get to snooze until 7am, when the kids come in and jump on me, demanding raisin toast and my undivided attention. It's a cool and cloudless day, perfect for running, although I know it will probably get quite warm later on.

My husband is running the race too, so we drop Mum and the kids off in town at the park where the race finishes, and drive home to finalise our preparations. I run a 2 mile warm-up up and down our street, and make two important decisions - I need less socks, and MORE PINK. I ditch the black compression socks in favour of some grey/pink Injinji toe socks that I love (it's too warm to wear long socks) and change my black shorts for the pink ones that have been my lucky racing charm this year.

We run another mile together to the start, where we easily insert ourselves right behind the start line - a big advantage of this small race, although the large number of young kids also lined up right there is a distinct problem - and mooch around chatting to various acquaintances. Our friend Paul is there - he who made me start out way too fast last year - I tell him impertinently "I'm going to beat you this time" and he just laughs knowingly.

Before too long it's time for the dorky warm-up stuff and I find myself right behind the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott. Can't say I respect his politics, but I respect a man who can run. Right up until the gun goes off and he sets off at a snail's pace, forcing me to dodge and weave like a maniac in order to get in front. What a loser!

The start, with many tweens and teenagers right at the front

Mile 1: 6:03 (pace in min/mile)
Hurtling along the first mile, the kids are thick and fast in front of me, but all totally dying within about 200 meters. At one point I grab the two in front of me by the shoulders and say "LOOK OUT" whilst moving them as gently as I can to each side - they're zigging and zagging for all they are worth, and the last thing I need now is to be taken out by a 12 year-old. Thankfully the crowd thins quickly and by the time we pass the 1km mark I've overtaken the last female ahead of me. Now to see if I can hold onto the lead.

Mile 2: 6:29
Oooof. This whole mile is uphill: not a steep incline, but it goes on and on and on. I know I've slowed down, but the guys ahead of me are slowing down more, so I concentrate on staying comfortable and in control. We're out in full sun on Lake Albert Road now, and it's a lot warmer than I was expecting. I grab a cup of water from the table halfway up, even though they are both plastic and WAY too full. Water goes all over the place, but at least some of it makes it into my mouth. Yay, I think.

Mile 3: 6:17
Halfway through this mile we crest the hill and start the descent towards town. A couple of men go pelting past me - I'm vaguely wondering if one of them is Crazy Downhill Guy from the Trail Marathon - and then it happens: I start catching up to the cyclists, who started the race 30 minutes earlier than the runners. Uh oh, this might be a problem.

Newspaper clipping, with extra quads muscle on top


Mile 4: 6:01
Around the corner into Copland Street and into the steepest part of the descent. A couple of kids on bikes go whizzing past, with their parents in hot pursuit screaming "WATCH OUT FOR THE RUNNERS!!" But I'm in no danger, thank god, and I'm feeling a LOT different to last year - this is around where I started to feel dizzy and weird. I do a quick check: brain, breathing, legs, it's all feeling good. It's pretty much all flat from here, time to dig in and go as fast as I can to the finish. Without hitting the wall, of course.

Mile 5: 6:19
Now we're running along beside the river, on a path that was part of the Trail Marathon. It's rough in places, with a few undulations and some narrow sections, but I'm ready for it this time. A guy in front of me is wearing a t-shirt with "THE JUDGE" printed in black across the back - but before I can wonder what the heck that means, we come around a corner and encounter a small child on a bike.

He's right in the middle of the path, stuck halfway up a short but steep incline. His mother is standing next to her bike at the top, begging him to move, but the poor little guy just can't. Does my maternal instinct take over? Do I stop and gently push him to the top? No bloody way! And anyway, I don't need to because the Judge - an obviously fast and competitive runner - has just stopped to help the child.....while I neatly side-step the whole debacle and keep going. Winning!

Mile 6 (0.88 miles): 6:18
We finally leave the levee bank and drop down to the road. The finish area is almost in sight! I'm not sure if I have much of a kick left, but I know I'm probably well ahead of the nearest female runner, so I'm not exactly motivated to kill myself in the home stretch. The Judge reappears next to me and, with about 400m to go, he suddenly takes off at a sprint. Good for him! I'd like to do the same, but I'd rather not fall in the lap of the timing lady as I cross the line this year, so I'm not trying very hard.

As we get closer to the final turn there are people yelling my name - I can't make out any of their faces, although the ones yelling "GO MUMMY!" are hopefully my children -  and as I turn into the finish chute I hear the announcers declaring that I'm the female winner. Hooray, I did it! Again!

My husband finishes strong in 44:07, a substantial PR for him (and he's beaten that politician by over 2 minutes), so we're both beaming and strutting around the Lagoon area when our son takes this photo of his overexcited parents:

Fastest married couple in the race??


Finish time: 36:39 (6:15 pace and a new race record!!)

Placement: 23rd OA, 1st OA woman

The kids are beyond excited that I won again, and I get my photo taken with a humungous trophy that I've never seen before, yet it has my name on it already from last year. Weird, but whatever! The prize money is rather different to the trail marathon spoils (a $20 gift card for a local sports store) but the race is free and I'm so excited to have finished upright that I really don't care.


Man, these trophies are HEAVY. And why is mine smaller??

The Analysis
Not much brainpower required to figure out why I felt so much better this year than last; the challenge is going to be seeing if I can run it faster next year or not. In theory (according to the McMillan calculator) I should be running close to 6:00 min/mile for this distance, although the hill might give me a little bit of wiggle room, so I guess 36:00 is the next goal.

Meanwhile, here's a clip of me talking REALLYFASTANDOVEREXCITED on local TV!

video