Unfortunately the Mini-Mos is billed as "the toughest 10K you'll ever run" and having lived almost 24 years in the area, I knew when I clicked on the course map that it would be an interesting and challenging race. Many, MANY hills, and the worst of them in the final 3kms. The results from 2012 are telling - the fastest woman in my age group ran 44:09 - and I was frankly amazed when I read that the qualifying time for a preferred start is sub-35:00 for a female. Last year the female winner ran 37:07; does that mean the course is at least 2 minutes slower than your average flat 10K??
It's all so confusing that heading to the race on Sunday morning I seriously have no idea what is going to happen.
|Course map - no elevation profile because that would be too cruel.|
As ever, I'm in the middle of a marathon training cycle (for Gold Coast, in just 3 weeks' time), and the only concession I make is to move my LR for the week to Friday morning. This is my 3rd week in a row of running 100 miles (160km), so "fresh" is not exactly the word I'd use to describe my legs. But I don't have any niggles or concerns, and I've always wanted to run this race, so off we go regardless.
It's very dark and cold at 5:45am as I walk over to borrow my Dad's car and drive to Mosman. I've managed to forget my Garmin so my wonderful friend Polly has lent me hers, and I'm wearing some groovy new INKnBURN gear but I'm sort of in denial about the whole thing, really. Which is fine since it's not a goal race or anything. I'm not even interested in eating breakfast (and it's almost too late anyway) so I sip on some chocolate milk while driving and am very pleased to find a parking spot just a few hundred meters from the race start/finish area.
I set off for a 2 mile warm-up and realise just before I'm about to turn around that I need to visit the bathroom, but if I wait til I get back to the school I'm not going to have enough time before the race starts. In my head I'm yelling "Idiot!" at myself until I spot a toilet block in a nearby park. Bonus! Back at the car I strip off my warm gear and head to the start line, noting with satisfaction the enormous queues for the bathrooms as I pass the school. I manage to insert myself right up the front of the start area fairly easily, and count 10 women warming up in front as preferred runners - wow, that's a lot of competitive young chicks right there. Top 15 finish might be my ultimate goal now.
|Cool new stuff!|
First 5K: 20:11 (6:29 min/mile)
No starter's gun - someone says "Ready set GO!" - and off we all rush, UPHILL. Ugh. I've switched Polly's Garmin to miles for distance and pace, but forgotten to change the auto lap, so it beeps at me a lot sooner than I expect. I look down to see 3:43 for the first kilometre - which converts to 5:58 min/mile. Ok, that's pretty much as fast as I ever run, so at least I'm off to a good start.
But the course is relentlessly undulating, and although at first it's not too bad, the constant sharp ups and downs start to get tiring. I've also noticed that I don't run well downhill - people keep thundering past me on each steep slope - but then I promptly pass them back on the next uphill. There are a LOT of women ahead of me, and at the first short out-and-back - around the 3km mark - I break my usual rule of not counting (well, not unless I'm a lot closer to the front, at least) and see that I'm in 14th place. I hope I'll be able to catch a few of them on the upcoming hills of death, but we'll see.
As I pass the 5K marker I see 20:11 on the Garmin - wow, slower than I'd hoped, but given the terrain it's probably not bad. I've hauled in at least one girl by this stage, and a few more are not too far ahead.
Second 5K: 20:02 (6:27 min/mile)
A couple of fairly flattish kms go past, and I'm holding steady around 4:00 min/km. Sub-40 is still possible but only by a few seconds at the most, and the worst is yet to come. Just after the 8km point we head down to what I know is the absolute lowest elevation on the course. It is a LONG climb back up to the school, and we're within a street or two of where my old house is - I know exactly what's ahead.
Heading up a very steep little bugger of a hill I finally pass a girl in blue who has been ahead of me for ages, then fairly quickly after that I pass another in pink. There's an older bloke with a gait not unlike mine - I take him out too as we race along Glover St where I used to play. Dooowwwwnnn we go again on Cowles Rd - this is torture - and then it's into the final uphill stretch, which seems to go on forever.
The only good thing is that on this hill I manage to pass a woman in an orange singlet, which means I'm now in 10th place! Woo hoo! The bad part is that just when I think the hill might be over, oops we have to go back up through the start before looping around the school again to the finish. The hill goes on and I start to feel faintly nauseous. Thankfully I feel better when I hit the top and soon I'm powering along into the final stretches. I don't even think to look up at the clock until the last few metres, and sadly it has just ticked over to 40:00 but whatever, I'm just glad to have finished!
Finish time: 40:13
Placement: 10th female, 3rd AG. Pace - 6:28 average
Orange Singlet girl (whose name is Laura) comes up and we chat for a while; turns out her 10K PR is 37:30, so I'm impressed with myself for beating her! She ran Gold Coast last year too, and got her sub-3 at Tokyo - we discuss Boston 2013 and then part ways.
I'm contemplating the water table nearby when suddenly I hear someone calling my name and there's my cousin Shann right behind me, sweaty and panting. We grew up on the same street here in Mosman - he still lives in the area and has just run 42:13, impressive! - seeing him rounds out the morning nicely and I head off happily to eat breakfast with my Mum.
This race, whilst murderously hilly, was actually kind of fun! The time was slower than I'd hoped, but I showed myself quite definitively that my endurance is still as good as ever, and that hills are probably my other great strength. It's almost a pity there are none of those at the Gold Coast!
I'm also starting to quite enjoy the 10K distance now. The much-flatter Rebel Run4Fun in November is shaping up to be a good PR chance - but there are a lot of races to be run between then and now! Watch this space.....