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COMRADES 2020 – STATUS REPORT AT T MINUS 22 WEEKS

Figured this blog entry will just be about how everything is progressing along with the campaign started. Once again it has been far from easy and never going according that what I plan (or anyone else has planned for that matter), but it’s still all systems go and looking forwards rather than backwards for June 14.

TRAINING REPORT

Distance hasn’t concerned me in the past as it has other Comrades runners through January and this hasn’t been an exception, even if personally I would have preferred to get through some longer distances and reach the 50km/week goals that I’m setting through the month. Yes work has an impact but the next 2 weeks see me on shifts that make training easier to schedule through the week rather than relying on heavy weekends. I know I’m also content with lighter workloads compared to other runners as I assume that the bulk of the field, particularly local runners, are yet to run their qualifier and as such need to have a heavier workload in order to get their qualifier done and dusted before preparing for the big dance.

Wangaratta has been entered (and hopefully the conditions will be substantially better than what they have been in the last few weeks, but this blog isn’t going to get political or argumentative, social media is sufficient to see how this has again proven how divided Australia is), and the bib has already arrived as if to remind me to get my butt into gear. There are no expectations on a time for the whole journey but if I can get somewhere between 1:55 and 2:05 for the first lap of the 2 lap course I’ll be delighted. To take that back to training, some of the runs I did last weekend and will be doing in the next few weeks will be to search for the consistency in kilometre splits that I’ll be after in these lead up events, as well as searching for the consistent pace that will not adversely affect me later in the races.

Next Saturday I’m hopeful of doing a triple header consisting of a relatively easy 7-8 kilometres to Parkrun in Rockhampton, the 5 kilometres of Parkrun itself (including the hill to kick off the final kilometre, always a favourite of locals!) and then an easy 7-8 kilometres back to home base. Just like that it’s a simple 19-21 kilometres covered with ample recovery time, as long as the parkrun is done at a quicker tempo than the other legs (I’ll be looking for a timeĀ  somewhere between 27 and 28 minutes).

Either someone overestimated my ability to get a low number, or someone knew I was a Bulldogs fan knowing how revered the number 3 is at the Whitten Oval…..

RACE ENTRY STATUS

In the last week I have had the bib for Wangaratta posted to me, and I’ve also lodged the entries for Port Macquarie and Canberra. Planning to enter the other lead up races in the next fortnight as at this point there isn’t a massive hurry to enter. I still need to confer with work over what shifts I will be working in the weeks these races will affect (relatively easy task) so I can swap shifts if necessary. Still waiting on the actual course for Wings for Life in Perth but from what I’ve read roads near the river will be used. I’m guessing the course will head south towards Mandurah along the Kwinana Freeway but I guess like everyone else (including the 130 or so that have already entered) we shall wait until the course is released before we know where we’re going.

 

OTHER LOGISTICS

Been a few alterations to the accommodation for the week of training in Melbourne and the Easter weekend, as my original choice is undergoing renovations. It has meant going inner city which isn’t so bad (I can still get to most of the places I want for the week), but the plans for a long run on Easter Sunday as well as a midweek decent run has had to be altered. Perhaps this year I’ll be able to do what I had planned a few years ago when I first entered Comrades, taking a train all the way out to Craigieburn (North-Western suburb of Melbourne) and running the 30km or so back to the city using rail trails and other park trails. I just hope if I do this and I take the early train on Easter Sunday I just may be able to knock over the kilometres I want.

The recent influx of Asics products being processed at work has also got me thinking about when I need to order new footwear for myself. Usually I like to order the Comrades race shoes around Easter so I can get a number of training runs and at least one race run under the belt before the big race, plus another pair at the start of the year. This year however I’m still using a pair purchased last year for training purposes throughout January and I won’t consider another pair until February at the earliest. Same with clothing, especially now that I already have the race shirt in possession and I’ve already had a race run (albeit an aborted race run) in the shirt. I’m likely to have a race run in the Australian top at Noosa or even Gold Coast if I enter that event.

 

The next blog entry I’m anticipating will hopefully be a number of Vlogs during the week of Brisbane in late January. While I have some sort of schedule in mind, it is open to change and I’m considering doing one of (but not both) a run from the City around the river, through University of Queensland’s St.Lucia campus and up over Highgate Hill back to the City, OR doing a lap around Mt.Coot-Tha alone midweek either running in or taking a train to Towong and having a midday or mid afternoon start. I guess how I feel during that week will determine which choice I make as unlike last year I want to make the week in Brisbane count.

COMRADES 2020 – A TYPE OF ROAD TO REDEMPTION

So with a new decade (at least for those who consider a decade being years ending from 0-9) upon us the road to redemption which this year’s Comrades tilt is clear. I’m aware some are saying I’m mad for trying again once, let alone after three successive attempts that ended with improvements each time without the ultimate prize. Yet here we are yet again, ready to get stuck into training and eventually into a race program leading up to the second Sunday in June as we go DOWN to Durban.

There are a few changes to the schedule for this year’s lead in with some events like the Rocky River Run reverting back to the favoured May time slot, but Cairns this year is now pushed back to September on the same weekend as Sydney. Looking for runs under race conditions of sufficient preparatory distance in April after Canberra is a challenge, but maybe concentrating on training could be more beneficial. I’m also not anticipating being involved in football as a player this year, although umpiring games is likely on weekends where I’m available. The anticipated schedule therefore is…..

23 FEBRUARY: WANGARATTA MARATHON

Usually I enter the half marathon, enjoy cruising through a 21.1km training session, taking in the country air and a medal before getting the train back to the big city. This year however with a lack of runs later on, plus the changes to Port Macquarie (more on that in a moment) and looking for other challenges I’ve decided to step up to the marathon distance. Heck if I run quick enough to break 4:20, I may even get myself a sneaky start pen upgrade that I wasn’t banking on!

8 MARCH: TREBLE BREAKWALL BUSTER, PORT MACQUARIE

In spite of the drought conditions and hopefully with the fire and smoke situation long put behind them, the second stop again is a familiar one. It’s going to be a thrill to be back on the start line to become just one of a handful to complete this on a 3rd occasion (this is the 4th running), but this year will be more challenging. Time limits have been introduced to try to reduce the burden on volunteers being out on the course amongst other things. Therefore it will be imperative to run a fast half marathon in the first leg to maximise the time to complete the 10km. Getting somewhere near the 2 hour mark which coincides with the start of leg 2 (10km) is the main goal, then it’s a case of getting close to the pack so I can make it for the 5km final leg, and hopefully be somewhere outside the last 5 to finish!

There’s also another alteration to the calendar post this event. In past years I’ve taken a solitary day off work and travelled to Brisbane, ensuring I stay somewhere with a fitness area to do some gym work to recover before returning to work on the Tuesday. This year I’ve taken a week of Long Service Leave and will travel to Melbourne for a week, with a motel containing fitness centre booked and close to the running trails for longer recovery runs in the middle of the week. Hopefully the week dedicated to training in familiar yet different surrounds to normality will bring an edge that I haven’t had for a while.

ARPIL 5: CANBERRA ULTRA (50km National Championships)

You read correctly, there’s a possibility of me becoming the Australian Champion in the 50km Road event. Sure I’ll need to improve my best time by about 2 and a half hours but still we can dream can’t we? In all seriousness it’s the kilometres I’ll be chasing as opposed to a time that I’m sure a few will be chasing in order to qualify. If a time goal is going to be set, then the first goal will be to break 6 hours, the second will be sub 5:39 (Personal Best), and a third will be sub 5:19 which if Wangaratta’s time doesn’t cut it will enable a seeding upgrade that I may not have been necessarily chasing.

The change for this apart from race organisers (Fairfax are getting out of the race promotion business, a group called Sole Motive who organise Run Melbourne are the new promoters) is accommodation. Instead of the longer trip out to the University of Canberra dorms near Belconnen, I’ve decided to stay closer to the city at ANU’s dorms. The taxi fares to and from the airport will be cheaper and I can walk to the start line from there rather than get a cab whose path is closed. Despite the change in organisers it appears the course is the same as this year’s, and with the timing of the race a week before Easter the next weekend should see me do a trio of 5km’s on the Saturday with Coburg Parkrun being the middle leg, and a 30km day on the Sunday.

APRIL 26: GOLD COAST RUNNING FESTIVAL HALF MARATHON

With a lack of races about but with a public holiday on the Monday to observe ANZAC Day (falls on a Saturday this year) I may or may not enter this race. Should I choose to do so I’ll probably look to do either an extra run later that afternoon depending on whether I’m required for work on the Monday, as if I am required I’ll be commuting back from Brisbane later that afternoon or evening. Again this is just for the kilometres rather than a specific time although there may be stages where I’ll incorporate speed work into the run. I haven’t appeared here for a number of years so I may not be certain on what to exactly expect from the course or conditions.

MAY 3: WINGS FOR LIFE WORLD RUN, PERTH

Yes a change for this race being the location rather than the date, which again falls nicely on a long weekend (Labor Day public holiday on the Monday in Queensland). Obviously I would have preferred to keep this in Melbourne for logistical reasons (and to possibly do a double header with the Puffing Billy Race, which will be on the bucket list now), but perhaps the trip to Perth will have advantages. Can’t wait to see what the course will entail (hopefully it won’t piss footy fans off as it’s Western Derby day), which combined with spending the night in Perth rather than rushing for the red eye may be a better experience. With the move to the west coast, it’s anticipated that the local start time will be 7PM based on past years. The aim is again get some experience running on roadways that normal training can’t provide, which for Comrades I feel is helpful with many kilometres around Durban run on similar surfaces.

MAY 23: NOOSA

New to the schedule and part of a double header weekend, the hardest part of this will be commuting to and from and timing it correctly. From what I’ve researched the easiest way returning is to make the slow train that runs from Brisbane to Longreach at Nambour station (an hour and a half away) by 3:50PM. This means that I’ll need to be out of Noosa by about 1PM, whilst communicating with others who need to look after logistics on the home front.

The run itself (a 31.6km event which is practically a 3 lap race with their half marathon being 2 and their full marathon being 4) seems relatively straight forward, and I felt running that distance would be more beneficial at this stage of the preparation when combined with the plan for the next day. This may change should I be required at work the next day rather than running on the Sunday (I’ll likely be stepping UP in distance if that’s the case).

MAY 24: ROCKY RIVER RUN HALF MARATHON

With the return to the May date (I’m guessing changing to June was basically to stroke the ego of the mayor, or maybe it was the fact a motorfest is running that weekend now) the intention is to run the half marathon of this event. The difficult parts for this event are both logistical, where I’ll be hoping someone will be able to collect my race pack on my behalf, and physical given the train trip and the previous day’s running. No time expectations although I’ll be looking to run a strong first lap as a minimum as this is a multi lap course (I believe for the half marathon it’s 3 laps), and this will be the last major training run under any conditions (race or training) prior to South Africa.

 

In effect training has started already, but in reality training commences this afternoon with a quick 5km. At a later time I’ll go through the travel details to get to and from Durban which has been slightly complicated thanks to financial issues for South African Airlines. Some have decided to take the direct Qantas flight to Johannesburg but I’m after frequent flyer points and I’m not in the Qantas program, so I’ll finalise the details closer to the end of January. The drive to avoid being labelled a “Buffalo Bill*” amongst the Comrades Fraternity has begun.

*: For those that don’t know, the Buffalo Bills made 4 consecutive Super Bowls, a reasonable equivalent for runners….they LOST them all! I don’t want to be like that.

SINGAPORE MARATHON 2019 – WELL THAT WASN’T ANYWHERE NEAR THE SCRIPT

One moment you’re all pumped up in anticipation for doing the extraordinary and perhaps improving the Comrades seeding, the next moment you’re exhausted, drenched and heading home (almost) empty handed. That’s the brief summary of the Singapore Marathon experience for me, but as usual it’s how we arrive at the conclusion that requires further investigation.

Truth be told I probably was so afraid of not preparing well on raceday that I struggled prior to boarding the MRT to the race precinct. I may have been so fearful of eating so close to the race start or drinking something that I wasn’t meant to that I ended up not consuming anything at all until purchasing an Ovalteenies drink and some Skittles at a nearby 7-Eleven. The fact that I couldn’t find a Gatorade or Powerade type drink (more on the electrolytes used in the race later) added to the fear, especially when I was still uncertain of the bottled water I received upon arrival on the Wednesday night at my motel. The fact that the last semi proper meal that I ate was some Singaporean KFC (cheesy bolognaise on french fries was too great to resist) at Friday lunchtime didn’t help either. Not that I felt sick or anything like that, but the fact that almost all the nearby establishments were seafood outlets (I don’t consume Seafood) and the fact I was a little scared to go to the Canadian Pizza shop across the road must have had some impact.

The previous night may not have helped either, although I probably wouldn’t have changed what I did for a second. Desperate to get in some sights I was determined to have a look at Gardens by the Bay at Sunset for spectacular effect. The flipside to that was instead of either resting up or having a nice meal somewhere, the night before the big race was spent cruising around nature and even doing a spot of Christmas shopping (one sibling complete for S$23). Soul food to relax the mind could be seen as a key preparation element for some runners, so doing this and wandering through the gardens and the domes would be something I’d do again (tourists note: if doing the flower dome it’s the SMELL rather than the LOOK that is the attraction), although I may have been better off doing this on Thursday Night to free up the Friday.

In any case, the MRT trip was smooth enough but for the first time in a while I didn’t wear my race shoes until I got off the train, having to store thongs (OK, flip-flops) in the transparent gear bag. I was switched on enough to do this whilst indoors near the MRT stop, knowing that doing this outside in the warmth would be undoubtedly tougher for the feet to handle. With all the gear including blue zinc applied, some happy snaps taken and a shorter less intense warm up undertaken in light of the failings post warm ups in Melbourne and to a lesser extent Hobart, it was time to wander through the pit garage of fate and onto the track for a date with destiny.

The date with destiny had a slight delay before it became reality. I’m used to waiting on the start line before crossing it, three trips to Comrades will do that to you, but this was the first time since the City2Surf in 2017 that I took part in a wave start. For marathons they probably are in bigger events a necessary evil, but I’m not a massive fan of them, particularly in the warmer climate of Singapore. Waiting around in the start precinct may have been taxing enough, but to wait for over 15 minutes and 3 waves (plus the wheelchair athletes who started 5 minutes prior to the elites) in oppressive heat without access to fluids unless you were self sufficient and crammed in to a relatively tiny space was ordinary. What made this worse was that the Half Marathon starters were also mixed in with their start being at the same time. Given the Singapore Marathon is ambitious in wanting to be the 7th Major, perhaps they need to look at the timing of the half marathon in order to avoid two separate races mixed in together for 17 kilometres, unless the elites want to use a half marathon runner as a pacemaker for the early stages which I would imagine is slightly against the norm.

Eventually the horn was sounded to release the D wave, and it was practically a slow burner for the first mile or so. With everyone so bunched and half marathoners either getting in the way or trying to get out of the way of marathoners, the pace would well and truly be off, not that I minded that much. Then the troubles really started. Usually in marathons I’m not looking to do any type of walking until the second or third drink station (climate dictated that I would be planning to be stopping at every station for water only), but the heat and humidity was such that I was walking through station one, and walking for longer than anticipated. Still things were running relatively smoothly for the first 7km or so up to the first changeover point for racers in the Ekiden (for want of a better term, that was a 6 person relay). The legs started to feel sore and heavy and the body was feeling warmer than usual. Not wanting to panic I decided to revert to a Comrades cooling strategy that seemed to work reasonably well, splashing water down the shirt front and back and on my cap. It didn’t really help save for a short ‘sugar hit’ before I started running again.

It started coming to a head just prior to the halfway mark. The legs were very heavy particularly in the quads, it wasn’t a cramp but the weariness rendered me useless. I was praying that the forecast storms (which never came) would at least cool the residual heat off the road to make it bearable for me, but I was really struggling. My head was also starting to throb and the sight of a medical tent was welcomed. I remember asking someone if I was still “with it”, as in was I still functioning well to them as I was unsure myself? They decided to take measures of heartbeat and blood pressure, then proceded to lay me down and douse me with half a dozen bottles of water before providing me with the electrolyte drink I was keen to avoid due to not testing it before (they do say never try anything new on race day). They had also seemingly put some of this in another bottle of water which tasted like absolute crap. I basically lay on the ground hoping the headache would clear, although at times the lights of a nearby tower seemed fuzzier than normal.

After about 30 minutes they repeated the dousing of my body with water, which my body reacted to with a little shock, it had been some time since the body felt that cold. Conversation was made with a couple of the volunteers, although even if I was in reasonable condition I’m not sure if they would have fully understood me, such was the language barrier even though I was speaking English. It took over an hour before I felt in reasonable condition to keep going, even if I was given the option of either waiting for transport to take me back to the start precinct or to walk there of my own accord. Given the wait time for the bus, I decided to walk, but if I was going to walk it would be continuing on the course.

For the next 7km I was able to walk relatively briskly and I also managed to pass other walkers with ease and regularity. Still I felt as though walking was the only thing I was able to do, although I did tell myself that if I saw any semblance of a downhill section I would attempt to jog it. Everything seemed reasonable until I just passed the 27km marker, when the eyes started going weary as though I needed to fall asleep. I’m not sure if I was staggering across the road or not (nobody could confirm this) but I knew if I saw a medical tent I would at least seek some advice to see if anything could be done. Instead of this though, I just asked for a chair, leant my head against a lamp post, and started dozing off. I don’t think those manning the tent had seen anything like this, but for me the exhaustion was such that I couldn’t help seeing if a power nap would assist. It turned into a full on snooze until the last of the competitors wandered through the area and a bus came to collect a number of those unable to continue. I simply found a seat by a window, and went back to sleep such was the weariness that I was feeling. This was something I’m not sure if anyone has done whilst exercising, so I hope I’m not alone. The reality though was if I was struggling to stay awake on the course, I knew I would be a danger to those still on the course.

Post race was a little shambolic, starting with my mother (who had flown herself over a day after I flew in) not sure why I was on the other side of the barrier. Finding a way back to baggage drop at the F1 pit building meant a walk over a bridge, but by the time that happened I had to find a taxi or other mode of transport back to the motel knowing I had to be back at the airport in a matter of hours. The lesson for tourists is to download the ComfortDelGro Booking App, where a taxi would be confirmed at a set price in a matter of minutes, rather than downloading the Grab App whose vehicle “booking” was still pending over an hour after the request was made. At least I made it back to Changi with plenty of time to finally refuel thanks to Lounge Access.

So what did I learn for any potential return appearance in Singapore?

  • Well perhaps not wearing so much upper leg clothing may have helped. I was wearing 4 layers incorporating shorts, skin coloured tights, half dark coloured tights and standard underwear.
  • For night racing, eat properly and have some sort of lunch before the start.
  • Perhaps arrive at the start precinct later to keep the body temperature as normal as possible, arrive just over an hour before, warm up as you head to bag drop and go from there.
  • Listen to the body, perhaps this was one race too many given I had never done so many kilometres in a year
  • If it gets desperate, lure 5 other mates to do the Ekiden so we could share the glory!

In the next week I’ll be able to confirm next year’s schedule. With the 4th attempt at Comrades being the centrepiece the planning for that starts now in a logistical sense. Physically, I’m just looking forward to having a full month off running, the legs I know need it and the mind will be occupied with other things.

SINGAPORE MARATHON 2019 – PRE RACE VLOG

I must be thinking it’s fun to make vlogs because I’ve decided to make another, this time prior to the Singapore Marathon. After some of the sights of the city/country has in many ways intimidated me, later this evening it’s down to a little business taking in parts of the Grand Prix track and passing by and through some of the sights. I’ll give a travel guide after the race has been completed. For now here’s just a sample of what actually should go in a race pack, something Australian events have obviously forgotten over the years.

 

 

The race itself begins at 9PM on the East Coast of Australia, or 8PM in Queensland given that Singaporean time is identical to what Western Australian standard time is. Personally the first aim apart from enjoyment, is to finish the race in plenty of time to make one of the last MRT services to Aljuneid so I can save some money. If I finish late there’s a chance I’ll need to make my own arrangements, which I’d prefer to avoid given I’ll need to do so for the early morning departure following the race.

POINT TO PINNACLE 2019 – SEMI OFFICIAL UNOFFICIAL VLOG

Disappointed that for the 2nd time in 4 years the pinnacle was unable to be conquered, again thanks to icy conditions at the top (in particular the last 4km). Still the race was run and unlike the 2016 event which pretty much divided Hobart, the course was diverted to Longley Pub, which was a few km beyond the finish line for the Point to Pub race. Sure there were plenty who had some difficulty training who were delighted in many ways not to have to climb all the way, but like myself I’m sure the feeling was flat.

Despite this I was still able to record much of the action on the old phone (maybe I’ll remember next time to turn my phone horizontal to make the full picture much better than it is. I also apologise for the camera being less stable than it should but this is a runners eye view without the professional GoPro gizmos. Further I apologise for blabbering on so much but I feel as though my spontaneous commentary was worth including over another boring 36 minute music video. Yes I couldn’t edit this any further, and the editing process was as long as I had ever done so hopefully the final product does race day justice.

Will I be back in harness next year or in the future? Probably once more to say I’ve been to the pinnacle 5 times. Will I commit to this race next year? I’m not 100% sure, it depends on what I schedule in the months before and if I feel as though my legs can physically stand running by November. For now the focus turns to Singapore, and more on that will be posted over the coming days.

NOW FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT, JUST SOME STORY TIME

It may be part test session with other events in mind, and part a nod to the past, but here’s a little something I came up with that perhaps only runners can understand. Perhaps I can do a similar thing with the medals one day, but for now here’s some sort of effort to remember the races I’ve done through the bib collection.

MELBOURNE MARATHON 2019: SEVEN DOWN, THREE TO SPARTAN STATUS

Who can believe it’s nearly been a fortnight since the Melbourne Marathon for 2019 has been run and won? Perhaps I’m getting forgetful as I get older as I’m sure what happened a couple of weeks ago may not be overly relevant, but in the end who really cares. It won’t be as exciting as a Kipchoge sub 2 hour special, but the story I hope will at least fill some time leading into the end of season events.

It probably wasn’t the most ideal lead in only arriving in Melbourne after midnight on the Saturday Morning of race weekend, but when you’re like me and tend to go on some sort of misadventure when booking itineraries, perhaps I’m thankful that I got there at all. Certainly using points to fly to Brisbane, then getting a train and bus to the Gold Coast isn’t everyone’s preferred method of getting to race central, but it did save me some coin that I’ll need for later on. However the late arrival did mean a planned parkrun appearance had to be curtailed, as sleep was a little more important and I had too much to do at the expo precinct.

Gladly I was able to get what was needed on the Saturday done without great hiccup, apart from the fact that I had to visit a 3rd supermarket before I could find Lucozade for the personal drink stations, and even then it was only original rather than the orange I much prefer. Still the whole process of obtaining the race number, collecting the t-shirt which thankfully unlike last year’s model was suitable to wear as opposed to being only useful for ball tampering, taking the relevant Instagram photos and dropping the personal drinks off didn’t take all that long and I was able to basically chill for the remainder of the Saturday. In fact the only panic was after picking up my pizza for dinner when the stream for Kipchoge’s sub 2 hour tilt temporarily froze, but given they probably ran another couple of 2:50 kilometres I probably didn’t miss all that much.

After a decent night’s sleep (as opposed to many first timers whom I’m sure had a restless night) it was decided to wear the long sleeved shirt for the run, a decision that I’m sure would have raised a few eyebrows. Perhaps I was banking on stronger winds or colder Southerly breezes keeping the temperature down, but it turned out to be one of those “ideal for football” type days. Still I had no reservations using the long sleeves having done the Canberra Ultra in the exact outfit in April, and I could always roll them up if I found them a little restrictive. This decision did have some benefits pre-race, as the temperatures were a little cooler than normal (but not freezing), meaning taking the tram to cut some travel time off was a decent option. Construction work on one of the footbridges though meant getting to the MCG was more of an adventure than normal. Luckily the gate leading to the tram stop outside Melbourne Park was open, and the volunteers instructing runners to get to the start line using the other bridge further down the concourse hadn’t been delegated their areas at 5:30 AM.

Having given myself plenty of time to get everything done that I needed to, I probably made the one mistake for the whole weekend that upon reflection may have cost me some time. Normally when I do a warm up it’s taken seriously but with a little less intensity than what I’m hoping for in the first half of the race. By the end of the warm up I was doing it with such intensity and speed that if I didn’t have to make a toilet stop I probably would have ruined the whole race. It went against the whole relaxed persona I wanted to carry from warm up into the race and beyond.

The start was as frantic as ever, with the best laid plans swept up in the rush of those trying to make up time they lost crossing the mat (and no amount of saying your time starts when you cross the mat will ever change that). But at least the hydration plans were on track and my pace was just behind the 4 hour pace group. Thankfully the site of last year’s meltdown (18km) came and went without any fanfare, and I still felt in reasonable shape as I crossed the timing mat at halfway. The mindset was as calm as I had been for many years running this course, and this was even knowing I would be likely falling behind the 4 hour pacer as the second personal drink station approached at the 23km marker.

It was anticipated that based on past races I would have a drop off in the second half of races, which may of course mean I should be pacing myself better than I do. That said the aim was to keep up with the 4 hour crew until the southern most point of the course before dropping about a minute per kilometre. Whilst I fell off the back a little earlier than anticipated, I wasn’t fussed given it was actually embedded mentally in my planning. What I ended up struggling with was the uphill section passing the Shrine of Remembrance on the run up to the final personal drink station with about 5.5km remaining. Perhaps I should have tried to use a little more gas getting over the rise rather than being overly conservative, as it lead to my slowest kilometres of the entire day and in effect blew out any prospect of a 4:20.

By the time I was reminding others rounding the turn at Federation Square heading back towards The G to smile for the cameras around the corner, I was resigning myself to a 4:30 finish when alongside me came a familiar sight. Last year during the Point to Pinnacle race I saw a group called “Just Like Jack” who helped Jack, who was confined to a wheelchair, up Mt.Wellington. As an encore they had also decided to run in Melbourne which according to the chair pusher was as hard if not harder than the uphill climb to the top in Hobart. Figuring that I might get some TV time, pictures, or for that matter a bit of a cheer from the crowd I tagged along for the last kilometre trotting behind them on the hallowed turf. It ended up meaning my time was 4:32, which was slower than I wanted but at least it wasn’t as poor as last year’s effort!

Pleasingly I didn’t feel pain in any of my areas that I’m usually concerned about. A new strap for my knee for the IT Band helped immensely, meaning I no longer have to worry about strapping up the knee or carry a cumbersome brace on it. The new calf socks also worked well, again eliminating the need to look for scissors in order to secure the K-Tape that often falls off. The sole concern was a little cramping in the left hamstring as I was changing clothes post race, but the fact I didn’t even need a massage and was able to resume training the following Wednesday afternoon was a big plus. After all, finishing this race for the 7th time shouldn’t be sneezed at, and the photos below are just proof of what hard work can deliver (or maybe it’s just me being crazy to think that the 2019 medal has a life of its own and wanted to meet the other 6 medals).

Next on the agenda lies another run up Mt.Wellington in Point to Pinnacle, and this year with the local roads around Mt.Archer open I’m hoping to get some decent runs up prior to race day rather than trying to rely on base fitness from races to survive. Then less than a fortnight later comes Singapore, a race that I’m looking forward to as much as making the trip itself.