I’d been wanting to race this one for the last few years, however the race has always coincided with weddings. Fortunately this year the wedding was the week before so it was game on.
As per usual my training really didn’t stack up to anything special. I averaged about 60 kilometers per week over the 12 weeks leading up to the race. Not ideal but it seems to be the norm for me the last couple of years – the motivation to run every day isn’t really there. Weekly training consisted of 3 sometimes 4 commute runs averaging 11 kilometer a piece with a hard, solid long run on the weekend.
In the race lead-up there was some great banter on the NSWIB facebook page which was a pleasure to be part of. I was ambitiously predicted to run 3.35 which I think was more of a ploy to encourage me to smash myself to the river. I felt 3.35 could be achievable but not off my piss poor training – anything under 3.50 i’d be happy with for debut.
On to race day and I was super pumped to catch up with all the Beer Betters finally. There was a great buzz around the start line. There was some talk about Nellies Glen being wet and slippery so I was a bit apprehensive about wearing my road shoes but there was no going back now. I lined up on the front row in amongst all the studs and studdets. I felt a bit out of place but before I knew it the frantic race to the stairs began. I had in mind a target of 1.07 to the river. After a bit of shoving and hard running I settled in behind Hanny Allston down the stairs. The pace felt really comfortable which was a welcome surprise. This was the part I was fearing the most as I’m rubbish at descending but I came out unscathed. Once on the fire trail I was able to stretch out a bit and ran along with Tony Fattorini then Andrew Tuckey. Chatting to Andrew we both agreed that the front runners were setting an awesome pace – as we certainly weren’t just jogging along.
Further along we caught up to Mark Lee and then Mick Donges. I was running behind Mick for a little while until he suddenly tripped and landed hard on his shoulder. He was rolling around clearly in unbelievable pain.Tucks and I stopped however being a few kilometers from any kind of support I told the guys that I’d run off to alert the volunteers that a man was down! I felt like a bit of scum bag running off and leaving Mick there but I had to get some help – i had no phone or first aid gear on me. Like a true champ though Tucks was more than willing to give up his own race to stay with Mick which shows the type of guy he is.
I was immensely relieved a few minutes later when I heard Tucks running behind me and soon passing me – i was glad that his race was still on (he recorded an awesome time which would have been a few minutes quicker had he not stopped – monster!). We alerted the volunteers of where Mick was and that was that (turns out that he had stitches, pneumothorax and ended up in hospital – poor bloke).
The river was crossed in 1.04 so i was slightly ahead of my goal pace but I was feeling good. The came the climb up Mini Mini Saddle. I passed Andy Lee at the start of the climb and then set out in pursuit of Tucks and Jono. This proved to be rather futile – they were both on fire and cruising. Meanwhile I was redlining and just hanging on. Looking back, my ego got the better of me and I probably would have been better off walking some of this section.
After finally cresting Mini Mini, Tucks and Jono were slowly pulling away and I was well and truly in the hurt locker in complete oxygen debt. I struggled on to Pluvi where Mitch Dean and Luke Preston shot by me. At this stage I had absolutely no climbing in me. All I could think about was being ridiculed by the Beer Betters as they would inevitably pass me curled up on the side of the trail – a thought too bad to bear!
Moving up Pluvi, Mitch Dean was gone but Luke was still in my sights. I tried to focus on not letting him get away so I would try and run for a few seconds before surrending to walking. However I only let myself walk for 10 seconds before trying to break out into a run again. I was feeling completely hopeless and surprised that no-one else had passed me. I dared not look behind me. In training I had climbed Pluvi with relative ease a few times, this time though I felt like I was going backwards.
Finally at the top of Pluvi the volunteers said I was in 8th. I didn’t think anything of that as I knew I’d be relinquishing my position pretty soon. The climb from Cox’s to the top of Pluvi took 1 hour, so 2 hours 5 total race time. Noting this time gave me a bit of a boost as I figured if I could just keep moving I might still be able to do ok. I thought I was much further off the pace. I was glad not to be climbing however the douche grade still felt harder than it should. There are still some climbs peppered along here which I had to walk. I really couldn’t believe the amount of walking I was doing – but when I was running the pace was low 4 min/km’s so that kept me in the game a bit.
Along the Black Range the dreaded cramps started to kick in. I was expecting them as I tend to suffer from cramps If I havent done the appropriate training – just a lack of conditioning. The cramps were teasing me at first and then ultimately I had to stop and stretch out every couple of kilometers.
Slowly but surely the race was nearing an end and I was becoming more and more disabled! The adductors went, calfs had gone and the hamstrings were cramping. Hugely frustrating as there was so much good, easy running to be had – but I just couldnt take advantage of it.
Finally on the steep rocky descent Robbie Neil flew past me. He bombed the descent like a rocket and there was nothing I could do, there was no fight in me. Then running down the paved path to the finish Hanny screamed from behind for me to let her past as she was trying to break the record. She was probably wondering who the guy in front doing a robot impression was! I gladly let her pass and then finally I was done!
The atmosphere at the finish was superb, such a great vibe!
Chuffed to bits to see the time, 3.35, but now i’ve run the course I know what to do for next time. I can’t wait to go back!