Saturday, October 17, 2015

Run Y'ass Off 14K, September 2015

In previous years the Yass Valley Running Festival was held in October in the weeks after Melbourne marathon (a regular fixture on my calendar these past few years) and although I did participate in 2013, just 2 weeks after running 2:50:19 at Melbourne, last year I decided to give it a miss. My excuse at the time was that it was way too close to the other race; it would therefore seem ridiculous that I would decide to run it again just ONE week - in fact only 6 days - after running (not racing) Sydney marathon.

But ridiculous or not, I decided it would be a fun event for Joel to run (he does love our hilly Aussie races, after all) and not only for him but also the kids. Jack has been talking for a while about doing his first 5K and I figured that this would be a golden opportunity; plus, I already knew my friend Fleur would be running and that her husband would be able to watch the kids while Joel and I did the 14K.

Unfortunately I left it way too late to book accommodation for the weekend and when I finally got around to trying, the combination of school holidays and Canberra's Floriade meant there was nothing available in either Yass or our national capital. Bugger! But it's not that far of a drive, really, so I packed us up for a day trip and we hit the road at 6:30am on race day.

The Preparations
Um. None, really, other than a (relatively) easy week on the heels of last weekend's racing-while-not-racing shenanigans. And I make the small concession of entering for the shorter distance - the 14K in preference to the half - even though I know Fleur is also doing the 14K and is guaranteed to kick my ass comprehensively.

In a way this is also strategic: I know I can't beat Fleur, even at my fastest, so realising I can finish only 2nd at best, I definitely won't be tempted to race this one all-out. Well, that's the mindset I have going into the event, and all that can be said is that I am TRYING to be sensible. Benita appears to be in a state of disbelief that I'm even thinking of entering another event already and hasn't given me any kind of plan for the 14K; so I'll have to just see how I feel. Wheee?

Race Day
It's a slightly cool 12C when we roll up to Heritage Park and there are a few clouds coming and going: perfect racing weather, really! Um, running. Not racing. Oops. I don't really manage to get a warm-up in, somehow, and I find myself marching over to the starting area with Joel and Fleur in a fairly unprepared state. Oh well! Once again I'm not really racing so it actually doesn't matter.

The start is just as hilly as I remember. Joel almost passes out in shock at the sight of it:

But wait, that's just the FIRST hill.

We line up suitably far back from the front, although not TOO far because there are no mats and we'll all be going off gun time. We may not be officially racing, but the competitive spirit is never too far from the surface! And with that we are off, or perhaps it would be better described as "up, up and away....."?

Miles 1-3: 7:31, 6:38, 6:48 (pace in min/mile)
I'm trying not to kill myself on this first hill, but it's tempting: quite a lot of runners streak out way in front and part of me definitely wants to go with them. But it's just too much of a slog - my marathon-weary legs are having no part of it, thanks - and I have to settle for the moderate-paced jog that is the best they can offer. The first mile is a constant procession of inclines, one after the other; towards the top of it Joel pulls ahead of me and there's no way I can stay with him. Sigh - but on the other hand he needs a solid run after the disappointment of being beaten by me in the Lake 10K not long ago - and so I'm more pleased than peeved that he looks set to crush me today.

Then, to my very great surprise, just as we crest the final hill a bloke running directly in front of me abruptly slows down and actually starts walking. Doesn't he know there are more than 12km left to go?? But it's not the first time this will happen: another guy does something similar just 100m further down the road. At least I know by this stage in my running life that there is nothing to be gained by going out too fast - but it seems these dudes are yet to make that connection. Oh well - let's see how many more of them I can overtake!

Suitably ghastly elevation profile, note 1st mile

The second mile is mostly downhill, a pleasant reward for the suffering endured in the first one, and then things start to undulate upwards again. I'm catching a man who is clearly a triathlete, wearing a white singlet with "TriTravel" emblazoned on the back and the characteristic shorts-over-tights look that screams "multisport athlete" (well, really it's more like "tosser" but I'm trying to be polite). Just as he's in the middle of passing another fellow, I pull up alongside and sail past them both. Yippee, now I'm having fun!

Miles 4-6: 6:27, 6:57, 6:29
Having fun means I'm now running around marathon pace, which is not 14K pace but still somewhat too fast for today and for my poor legs. And what's this now? It appears TriTravel does not like being passed, not one little bit; as soon as the course turns downhill again he BLAZES back past me in a flurry of white lycra and over the next mile or so he puts quite a bit of distance between us.

Oh, it's going to be like that is it? I chuckle inwardly as the half-marathoners peel off to the right; we take the gravel road to the left and suddenly it's apparent that there are only 4 runners ahead of me, including TriTravel. We are spaced out fairly evenly: Fleur is way out ahead with another bloke hot on her heels, Joel is mid-way between Fleur and myself, and TriTravel is midway between myself and Joel. Hmm, this is going to be interesting.

Mile 5 is uphill and I'm still not sure what TriTravel has up his white lycra sleeve, but apparently it's not endurance. He fades consistently back towards me and by the start of mile 6 he's again within striking distance. Time to act! I surge past him again and he panics - he pushes hard and once again he's in front. But his breathing gives him away: he's not going to stay there for much longer. My legs may be toast but the engine is firing on all cylinders and I'm not even puffed yet - by the end of mile 6 I've gotten him once again and the noisy sound of his breathing fades rapidly behind me. I'm in fourth position overall, my husband is in 3rd and my friend Fleur is somewhere ahead of us both, possibly winning. This is a great day!

Miles 7, 8 & finish 0.9: 6:34, 6:30, 6:18 pace (0.24 miles long by my Garmin)
Shortly after I pass TriTravel we pop back out onto the roads and I'm back in my element. I remember this part clearly from 2013, also - there are plenty of undulations and one rather nasty hill coming up before we will finally be heading back down to the river and the finish line. Joel is far, far away now and Fleur is ahead of him still; I can see someone in yellow beside her but I can't decide if it's a lead cyclist or another runner.

Whatever's going on up front, I need to ignore it and focus on keeping my legs turning over comfortably. I'm focusing on running the tangents (although my Garmin will later disagree) and this keeps me mentally occupied until it becomes clear that I'm almost back in town - there's a familiar sharp downhill and I know what's coming next: that nasty steep hill with a church at the top. Ugh, it's torture, but I keep things moving and then it's wheeeee all the way down to the river. I can hear the announcer saying something about, he's announcing her as the overall winner!

As usual he's smiling while I'm all steely focus - at least we both have cool shirts

This knowledge is enough to spur me on to new heights of speed, despite the increasing protestations of my leg muscles. I power along by the river and now it's Joel's name I'm hearing - he's coming in 3rd overall and 2nd male. YES!! I'm almost there, it's further than it should be and according to my Garmin I should already be there, but finally I'm on the grass in the finish chute and over the line.

Finish time: 59:52

Placement: 4th OA, 2nd woman and 2nd in AG (F40-49) - Fleur, obviously has won (again).

Wow, what an outcome: Fleur has won the whole bloody thing and both Joel and I have placed 2nd in AG and gender! And he's crushed me by more than 2 minutes, in fact. Nevertheless I'm happy with my run: it's a lot more than I expected from my legs just 6 days after a marathon, that's for sure. But there is no time to gloat over our achievements: the kids need to be marshalled and prepared for their races too. Jack smashes out his first 5K on a very difficult course (a hilly loop that he has to complete twice) and manages to win his age group! He's a little crestfallen to discover he was the only under-10 to run the 5K but I tell him firmly that he deserves the medal even more because he was the only kid his age with the guts to attempt such a tough race, and he's pretty happy with that explanation.

First 5K, yay!

In the end everyone has a medal (Amelia gets one of mine for finishing the 2.5K with a smile) and we head out for lunch and then the trip back home.

The family that runs together, has a lot of laundry to do.

So I guess this was a strength/endurance workout in disguise? It was pretty daring of us to even attempt this sort of thing on the heels of last weekend's marathon, but it seems to have paid off. I know a few people who "race themselves into shape" rather than doing routine speed work - looks like I have joined their ranks! How it will all fit into the grand scheme is yet to be determined, but either way I'm having a ton of fun with the whole family, and nothing could be better than that.


  1. The family that runs together has a lot of laundry to do - how true!
    I really enjoy your race recaps - it feels like I'm out there running (only I'd not be so close to the front). Very impressive non-race so close to a marathon.

  2. Glad I caught up with this before "Run with the Wind" and Melbourne Marathon reports. I still can't believe that was your final competitive race. C'mon!