And it helps that the area where the race both starts and finishes is within easy jogging distance of my house! So this year it was a no-brainer to sign not only myself for the run and Jack for the ride, but I also included Joel for the 10K. So what if he was only due to arrive back from the USA a smidgen over 48 hours prior to the race starting time? Jet lag shmet lag, in my opinion at least.
I've run the new 10K course twice for one second place (2013 - 38:48) and one win (2014 - 39:06), and all that can be said is that it's not an especially easy course. The first mile is flat, the second uphill, the third down...but after that it undulates quite significantly as it winds its way along the shores of Lake Albert. I run in this area every single day and know it like the back of my hand - it's far from the ideal "fast and flat" 10K course that we all long for - but hopefully this counts for something on race day.
|A surprisingly tame-looking elevation profile|
Nothing much to say here, just the usual mileage-fest with a small dash of half-hearted speedwork thrown in.....oh, and that race last weekend. Almost forgot about that. I've been thinking for some time that my time has come to slow down, but last weekend demonstrated that I may have been premature in this belief. Tomorrow is going to be an interesting fitness test, if nothing else.
One of my favourite things about this event is the start time of 10:30am. Not only does this virtually guarantee a stinking-hot weather situation (good for weeding out the unfit and the unacclimatised), it also means I can sleep in, or at least spend the early morning hours lying lazily in bed devising excuses for why I'm not going to run the sort of 10K time that a person capable of a 2:47:57 marathon really should be able to run. What's not to love about that?
Jet lag is still making its presence felt in the household so I'm awake well before 6am, enough time to devise many useful excuses before rising to prepare and eat my usual toast-and-coffee breakfast, the one that so far has proven safe and effective for races of all distances.
With an hour to go we all head to the start, jogging comfortably along until the neighbourhood dogs inspire us to break into a few strides, with assistance from the local magpie in the form of dive-bombing swoops. It's all good fun, though, and a beautiful day - although this undoubtedly means things will be uncomfortably hot later on.
After Jack sets off on his bike we are milling about near the start line when I see young Hannah - the girl who came 2nd behind me last year - and a few other familiar faces, including Rob who is this year dressed as Flash Gordon. Gotta love small local races!
|Muscling our way to the front line, fake muscles optional|
I'm not really nervous this year because I know that it's all about who shows up on the day: I'm no spring chicken these days and it will only take one speedy twenty-something runner chick to leave me in the dust. Whatever happens I'm enjoying myself today because it's Joel's first race in Wagga, so we line up together right at the front, ignore the usual dorky warm-up routine, and get ready to have some fun.
Miles 1&2: 5:56, 6:20 (pace in min/mile)
ZOOM! Off we all go at breakneck speed - it's impossible not to join the mayhem and run way, way too fast over the first, flat mile. Hannah is ahead of me until about the 1km mark, and just as I ease past her, a girl in a blue singlet eases past ME on my left. Wait, what? She looks to be running strongly but who knows what will happen during the second, uphill mile - so I hold my ground and stay with her as we head towards the hill.
As usual, the incline starts and people are rapidly fading all around me. My marathon endurance is my strong suit here: I know I can keep going and hopefully even ramp things up again once the hill is over. But the girl in blue - whose name will turn out to be Emma - is showing no signs of slowing down at all. Hmm, this is quite interesting. Should I give up now, or keep trying?
Miles 3&4: 6:16, 6:01
If you answered "give up now", thanks for playing but clearly you've not been paying attention to this blog at all. I have no idea what this girl is capable of, but I'm not letting her get away with anything less than her best. Up to the turn and back down Lake Albert Road towards the lake again, I keep up the effort levels to stay maybe 5-10 seconds behind.
Plenty of people are calling my name and shouting words of encouragement from the other side of the road but I am way too focused to acknowledge many of them - my boss Charles will later tell me I looked very determined, as well as bright red in the face and very hot, when he saw me thundering along down the road. As I speed through the roundabout and back towards the lake I'm already thinking "god I hate short races", but at least there's not too far to go.
Miles 5&6: 6:15, 6:15
Just keep going, just keep going. There are quite a few innocent pedestrians out for a morning stroll around the lake, and dodging them keeps it interesting. Emma is not that far ahead now and she almost collides with a couple of women who are clearly quite oblivious to the torrent of runners that is about to envelop them. Well, now they know. I side-step them neatly and note with glee that Emma finally appears to be tiring - my chance may yet come!
But there's a huffing and a puffing behind me that I can no longer ignore: I'm wondering if it might be Joel but no, it's Marcus, my occasional physiotherapist who has rescued me from injury on a good few occasions now. As he moves to pass me I suddenly realise we are hot on Emma's heels, and the short, nasty uphill by the Boat Club is just around the corner. Ooh! Opportunity knocks - we catch her in the carpark after the sharp incline - and I open the door wide by powering past her without a second thought.
Good grief, I'm in the lead! There is less than a mile to go and I hate short races, I really do now, but it's not time to dwell on that. I have to try to build and hold some sort of lead....and in trying I also pass Marcus back. Perhaps 400m go by before I realise there's someone over my right shoulder - is it him? - oh god no, it's her. Youth trumps ambition as Emma surges past me again and I have nothing with which to respond. Oh well, I did give it my best, and so I focus on not falling too far behind as we approach the finish line and the 6th mile beeps on my Garmin.
Final 0.2: 5:55 pace
I glimpse Mum and Jack on the sidelines and hear him yelling "GO MUM!!" as I charge into the finish chute and finally, thankfully get to stop running at last.
Placement: 8th OA, 2nd female, 1st in AG (F40-49)
Well, that was fun! I didn't win, but I did manage to run a course PR by 28 whole seconds; it's amazing what a difference it makes when you have someone to chase. Joel arrives around 60 seconds behind me - jet lag has done a number on him for sure - and together we rehydrate and mingle until it's time for awards. I'd love to be holding that bloody big trophy again but I'm still very satisfied and happy with the effort I put in today. And I'm still Wagga's fastest old chick!
|Looking rather too pleased with myself, really|
Racing every weekend is sort of fun, and it so happens that Joel has convinced me to change from the half marathon in Sydney next week to the full marathon. I've never run a marathon as a training run, but there's a first time for everything, or so they say. Let's see what happens, I guess!