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 2:30...as 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)!



Gear:
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

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