Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mini-Mosmarathon 10K, June 2014

This preposterously hilly 10K is actually one of my favourite Sydney races, mainly on account of the fact that it takes place in the suburb where I grew up and serves as a fundraiser for the school where my twin brother and I started our academic careers (ahem) way back in kindergarten. It’s most definitely not a PR course, but still fun to do, in a masochistic sort of a way.

Elevation profile: not for the faint-hearted

There’s also a kids’ 2K race that I really wanted both of my kids to run, given their excellent results in the Mount Beauty and Yarrawonga races they’ve done so far this year. Somehow along the way I managed to convince my brother to not only sign his oldest daughter up for the 2K, but also to run the 10K with me himself. Well, “with me” was initially up for debate – “You always go hard don’t you?” was his first question when I mentioned running together.

It’s true that I tend to be competitive – although generally not with him, even when we were kids – but my initial thought was to just take it easy for this one. My justification was two-fold: not only was I pretty much destroyed from the May Madness (not to mention last weekend's RunCamp!) I was also mindful of the fact that the Mini-Mos is an insanely competitive field. Last year I raced my heart out yet only managed to finish 10th overall and 3rd in my AG. So this year I figured, why bother? As a result I was feeling pretty darn relaxed as the kids and I flew up to Sydney the day before and settled in to stay with the little cousins, even with the inevitable wild kid chaos that ensued.

It also should be mentioned that none of the fun that the Mini-Mos turned out to be would have been possible without my sister-in-law, who uncomplainingly took on the daunting task of getting 5 kids age 9 and under ready to leave the house by 8am. Rob and I therefore got to head off early and unencumbered, with the kids arriving later but in plenty of time for their own race. Thanks Claire!!

The Training

In detail: see my 4 latest posts. 

In brief: lots of racing, lot of mindless jogging, and a weekend of high intensity running just 7 days earlier. Taper? What taper?

Race Day

It’s a perfect morning for running as we leave for Mosman: a crisp 10C (50F) with light cloud cover to keep off the sun. Rob and I go our separate ways to warm up – I do my customary 2 miles while he wanders around to keep warm – and meet again by the car to walk to the start line. He laughs when I insert us both right up the front; his style is more suited to casually starting at the back of the pack, or perhaps in the middle. But I know he’s capable of running close to 4:00 min/km (6:26 min/mile) in a race – I haven’t forgotten the many times that he beat me in the Biathlon at the Boy when we were in our twenties – so I laugh back and insist we stay here, which is about 4 rows back from the front.

"I can't believe you talked me into this"

Miles 1-3: 6:27, 6:50, 6:38 (pace in min/mile)

The gun goes and we set off, uphill of course. I'm setting what I think is a reasonable pace and Rob is keeping up without a problem as the first mile beeps - so far, so good. The undulations start for real during mile 2 and we slow down a bit, but since I'm not planning on racing anyway, I'm not too worried. During this mile there's a sharp uphill and then we're on the out-and-back part of the course where I counted the women in front of me last year. Uh oh......

Much as I try not to, it's irresistible; quite a few of them are wearing pink, too, and they inevitably catch my eye. One, two, three, four....and then quite a break until I count another 4 women...and that, apparently is all. My eyes widen: could it be that I'm already in the top 10?? This knowledge speeds me up during mile 3, and just as we approach the 5K mark there's another out-and-back stretch. Time to confirm that, maybe?

My brother is about 10 seconds behind me at this point, and I check my watch as we approach the 5K mark. I'm counting women on the other side of the road again - I was right the first time, I'm in 9th place right now - and a few of them are closer than I thought!

5K split: 19:45

Miles 4-6.2: 6:36, 6:26, 6:42 and 5:57 to finish

I round the turn out near the zoo and wave to Rob as I see him on the high side of the road; he gives me a grin and a thumbs-up, which I interpret as a free pass to do whatever I like (twin telepathy is good like that) so I step up the pace ever-so-gently. I have a very good idea of what's coming up and it includes some very unpleasant uphills, but my killer instinct has been ignited and I want to see if I can catch some of these girls ahead.

With the usual retinue of guys trailing me

Quite easily I catch and pass the first - obviously she's slowing down - but the second (also in pink) takes a bit longer to reel in. I finally pass her on the sharpish downhill to Cowles Rd and right before what I know is the steepest uphill of the course; I'm guessing she won't be catching me back anytime soon. Then, as I grind painfully up the hill I am VERY surprised to see yet another girl ahead. She's dressed in a white shirt and is clearly much younger than me (aren't they all these days?) - aha, a challenge! Let's go!

I'm in hot pursuit as we turn down the street on which I grew up and then down the only remaining downhill; she gains a bit on this stretch, but I know what lies in wait. I catch and pass her on the small flat stretch that follows, and it's a great incentive to keep pushing - because the final mile is pretty much ALL uphill. Crap, this is going to hurt! But I'm now quite unexpectedly in 6th place, and there's money for places 1-5: can I catch another female before the race is over??

Up, up, up I go and it's torture - through the start line again, up past the school and the park we used to play in at lunchtime. Finally things level out again and the 6th mile beeps. I'm giving it everything I've got left as I sprint around to the final small out-and-back; I glance behind me and nope, White Shirt is nowhere to be seen. But the nearest female is already on her way to the finish as I'm still heading the opposite way - there will be no cash reward for me today. All of which is irrelevant, anyway, I just want to finish and finish I do, hammering it all the way (in sharp contrast to my earlier expectation for the race).

Finish time: 41:03  (6:36 pace)

Placement: 3rd in AG (F40-49), 6th OA female.


It's a little disappointing to be so close to winning something yet miss out, but I have no time to dwell on it - I spot Sebastian from RunCamp and go over to say hello (he's off to run the 5K and will set a surprise new PR) - then I look back and Rob has appeared already! He's run 43:10, a very respectable time for this course (and for not having actually trained at all), so we grab some water and eventually make our way to a local cafe to warm up. The weather has taken a turn for the worse - it's cloudier and even colder than before - so it's very pleasant to sit and drink coffee while we wait for Claire and the kids to show up.

The organisational side of the 2K is absolutely wonderful: all the kids are lined up in age groups and marched out to start in wave fashion, which is enough to motivate Amelia to run the race on her own and spare me having to go with her, and I'm thrilled with this because I'm bloody FREEZING! Her start is later than Jack's, so I barely have time to run up to the finish line before he appears, striding along like a champion. In fact all 3 kids do extremely well and are very proud of themselves and their medals - many hours later they are all still wearing them.

Mini-Mos mini-champs
After the race there's a fair held in the school grounds, so we wander around and the kids choose some rides to go on; Rob and I predictably remark on how much smaller everything seems to look now, and after a while it's just too cold to stay any longer so we head home.

In retrospect, if I had been all-out racing the whole time I might well have finished 5th rather than 6th, but I wasn't - and I'm actually very happy with how I caught those 3 women in the final stages of the race. And I negative split a notoriously tough course, where the worst of the hills are in the second half, so I feel great about that too. Bring on next year!


  1. Love that you ran with your brother! And nice racing with a great finish on such a tough course. Those hills would kill me.

  2. Yes, tough course - only ran it the once. Good finish and place in a competitive race. Hey, I was expecting your "Hansons" 20k report. C'mon!