Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Return to the road...M7 Westlink Blacktown Cities Marathon

I was excited to return to run the M7 Westlink Blacktown Cities Marathon after previously running in 2011, coming away with a good confidence boosting win in 2:32 but being unable to run the past 2 years after work commitments in 2012and fracturing my left humerus last year (2013), putting me out for 10 weeks.

I had a week to recover after the Shoalhaven King of the Mountain 20 mile footrace on 6th July and then got back into training, spending a week working on speedwork and hills, and subsequently some consistent tempo runs to improve my efficiency on the road. I felt relaxed and strong, ready for a real test on the road against strong competition.

It was an extremely early start, waking at 4am to drive to Blacktown International Sports Park to catch the Shuttle bus to the start at Prestons. After a quick rush from the car, I caught up with Brendan Davies en-route and had a relaxing chat about the past few months, racing plans and our feeling prior to the 42km ahead.

On arrival to Prestons, it was freezing and all runners congregated in the change-rooms where we were to collect race packs/bibs and after a short time , we were all out, jogging and stretching on the start line, trying to decide how many warm layers to discard and whether gloves might be useful.

It was always going to be a competitive race, with David Criniti and Brendan Davies toeing the start line. Especially after seeing Dave's race band with splits aiming for a 2:19.59 !!!

We were off on the crack of 7:30am and Dave Criniti unleashed a super-fast start, putting on a 20 metre lead within the first kilometre with Brendan Davies and myself chasing, wondering whether Daves's goal time of sub 2:20 might be at risk today! I had run 2:32 in 2011 and was hoping I could run around 2:30.

I was pushing to the limit but felt unable to stride out and catch Dave early, and settled into a firm but comfortable pace, able to see Dave in the distance but unable to breach the gap. Within 5km, I was alone with Dave just within site and Brendan just within site behind. I was running relaxed but weary of losing concentration and dropping off the pace so I focused on ensuring Dave did not get out of site as a marker of my pace, trying to be consistent and possibly catching Dave...also I thought it would be useful to see the lead cyclist so I didn't go off track!

The race continued with no real change in places in the top 3, but with Dave running strong, able to gain a 3 minute gap at 21km mark. At this point, I got my second wind, feeling strong but well behind, feeling that the best place I could be was 2nd, but confident on holding on! I downed my single gel and continued strong until I saw Dave, running strong after returning from the turn-around point at 34km, with a mutual "running well" greeting, and with a spectator informing me Dave was 4:30 ahead...I had been unable to hold or breach the gap, but still felt strong and hoping to run a PB on the course. I saw Brendan Davies after the turn-around, approximately 1km behind looking relaxed and smiling and used this as motivation to increase the gap so I could relax on the 400m around Blacktown Athletics Track, without having to worry about being run down by an ultra-marathon legend!

I was able to relax, once I entered the main drive of Blacktown International Sports Park, knowing there was less that 1km to run. I ran onto the 400m athletics track, excited about gaining 2nd place and a glance at my TomTom Cardio GPS watch, gave me confidence of running I ran down the finishing straight, I was relieved to run 2:30.54 (a 2 minute PB for the course) and achieve my goal, with a bonus of securing 2nd place to David Criniti (a real master of the road)!

Inov-8 Road Xtreme-178 (red)
Inov-8 branded singlet (designed by Kelly Gibson)
Zensah calf compressors
Zensah compression shorts
Injinji run 2.0 performance socks (yellow/mid-weight)
Inov-8 race gloves
TomTom Cardio GPS watch

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Redemption...Shoalhaven KOM 2014

The 2014 Shoalhaven King of the Mountain was certainly a must for me to run as I needed some personal closure after a disappointing race in 2013 where I fractured my L neck of humerus and ended up in RPA Hospital under the care of the orthopaedics team requiring titanium to hold arm together.

From the Nowra Athletics Club Webpage:

"Long distance runners love the Shoalhaven King of the Mountain! 
Whether you're a marathon specialist, a half marathon enthusiast or simply like running over mountains - then why not give it a go, you'll enjoy the experience. The "King" as it's known locally, travels from the quiet rural village of Cambewarra (10 minutes from the township of Nowra) via a series of bitumen and gravel roads to the historic township of Kangaroo Valley. A 32km journey that takes in the best sights and native sounds of the local area.
The "King" features several fresh water creek crossings (with concrete causeways), rolling hills through unspoilt bushland and glorious views of sheer cliff faces, valleys and ravines. The highest point of the race is Mount Scanzi - 24 kilometres from the start and approximately 360m above sea level. With breathtaking views at this point the course takes you down a steep descent and then on through the valley."  

I had run the 20 mile (32km) footrace previously in 2009 and 2011, coming away with a love of the race and being lucky enough to gain the win, finishing at Kangaroo Valley Showground. I was yet to run in an even year but I was motivated to turn the tables and conquer the mountain in what is my favourite race on the NSW calendar!

The weather was perfect, cool - just the way I like it!

Cambewarra Public School was again the event headquarters, providing a great atmosphere and with lots of distance runners in one place, it was buzzing and the scene was set for the perfect location for the start of the famous race.

The race was almost ready to start after a rendition of Advance Australia Fair and the race briefing. After stripping down to a singlet and a small jog with some strides and after a brief chat to Tony (Fats) Fattorini, we were off and the adrenaline kicked in!

After a brief tour of the suburban streets of Cambewarra, off into rural areas of Nowra.

After passing through some beautiful country roads, numerous deceivingly difficult climbs and the water crossing at the base of Mt.Scanzi (where I fractured my humerus last year) and I breathed a huge sigh of relief, I was running on adrenaline and excited to be feeling fit and strong. Once across the water, I was relaxed, with a huge weight lifted from my shoulders and could now focus on enjoying the amazing scenery and the race at hand!

I was ready for the 4km solid effort up Mt. Scanzi and a tough psychological battle, urged along by a bunch of great volunteers from the Nowra Athletics club every 5km at the aid stations, I reached Kangaroo Valley Showground!

What a relief I had finished unscathed without any broken bones - and with a win - but more so on a personal level, conquering the inner doubts I have developed after last year's dismal effort and poor decision making ability!

In a time of 1:58, a PB, time for a beer or two and a bacon and egg roll free for all runner! How could I possibly not return in 2015 for hopefully another amazing experience!

Inov-F-lite 195's (red)
Inov-8 branded singlet (designed by Kelly Gibson)
Zensah calf compressors
Zensag compression shorts
Injinji run 2.0 performance socks (light-weight)
Inov-8 race gloves
TomTom Cardio GPS watch