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March 24, 2016

If you can’t remember back 12 months, and let’s be honest many of you readers out there can’t remember what happened 12 minutes ago, the Twilight Run based in the Brisbane suburb of St.Lucia was probably more suited to be held at Wet N Wild on the Gold Coast as opposed to the University of Queensland. With unfinished business and preparation for the big event in Canberra in less than a month away providing the motivation, it was a no brainer to return to UQ for the 2016 renewal of the event.

Much like in 2014, my pre race preparation involved football on the Saturday in Bundaberg. Unfortunately the oppressive conditions at game time and the reduced numbers in our side probably made me use more petrol than I had anticipated. Still the plan to catch the overnight bus from Bundaberg to Brisbane before a train commute to the Gold Coast for a recovery swim went without a hitch. It was during that swim however where doubts over my physical being surfaced, particularly in my right knee and groin areas. I was convinced that the knee was basically bone bruising as opposed to any type of ligament or nerve damage, and I felt I would be able to run through that pain. The groin however required massage treatment, and it wasn’t until I applied some heat cream to the area (making sure I didn’t spread it to more awkward areas which I had done in the past) saw the groin loosen.

It was a relief to see the organisational aspect of the run had improved this year. Last year there were issues with the lack of portable toilets until it was too late for the longer runners, but upon arrival seeing a whole row of loos near the start area (which I never had to use) was a relief. If anything else it meant heading into what was usually the visitors dressing rooms during Rugby season wouldn’t mean fighting the crowds. Bag drop had moved to upstairs into the grandstand this year, which took a little time to find but in it was probably a better area to keep my belongings.

After deciding to wear the long sleeve shirt that I ordered in addition to the singlet (still in the packaging but I intend to use it in training over the course of the year) it was time to enact the race plan. It turned out to be a blessing when my position in the start area was right behind the 1:55 pace runner and his wife. The plan was to run splits that would help me to reach the goal of a sub 5 hour run in Canberra. After all, this event doubled as the best training run I could possibly want.

In thankfully dry conditions (and no threat of rain or storms ever eventuated, must have been a relief to the organisers) I set off with a small group around the pacer at a comfortable tempo. As usual I was looking for fluids every 2nd or 3rd station, a tactic I will look to repeat in Canberra at least for the first half of the event. The kids on the drink stations like in previous years showed greater enthusiasm than a kid who had consumed 10 coffees with 3 teaspoons of sugar in each. We were right on the pace at the halfway point, although the group started to dwindle.

I began to lose a little touch crossing the bridge across the Brisbane River for the second time, but I thought I was going OK and keeping somewhat in contact until the 15km marker. It was at that stage where instead of the right leg starting to show signs of fatigue and hurt, it was the left lower calf region that started to tighten. Despite others trying to persuade me to keep going, I could only jog for about half a kilometre before needing to stop to stretch the calf. What made it worse was that the loop at Yeronga that would make the extra kilometre for the half marathon (the course on lap 1 catered for the 10km racers which once again started at the same time) had a lack of lighting (not so bad for me given where I’ve done early morning training runs in the past) and was made narrower by a World Game match being played at an adjacent venue. It wasn’t easy to stay in the middle of the lane trying to watch out for slower runners/walkers ahead, trying to keep out of the way of quicker runners behind and looking left to make sure you don’t get skittled by a vehicle.

By the time I passed the 20km marker, I had conceded that at least I had matched what I had aimed for with Canberra on my mind, which was breaking 2 hours for 20km. The intention was to cruise towards the athletics track and the finish, but of course I started to increase the tempo with not a lot to gain. I was then considering launching into a cartwheel just for the cameras and the crowds that were still in the venue. The launch was about to take place………….and then came the cramp in the left hamstring. Fortunately I knew it was only a cramp and not a pull or a tear given I’ve had a history of hamstring injuries (one of which I feel completely ruined last year’s program). It took a couple of minutes for the cramp to ease so I could walk somewhat properly, but the leg now feels normal a few days later.

Ripper Dipper or just another bib for the collection? You Decide!

Ripper Dipper or just another bib for the collection? You Decide!

So another Twilight has been done and dusted, another running year has commenced, another pair of legs has been battered into submission so badly training this week has been minimal. Hopefully the legs hold up for the last long run this weekend in Melbourne, where conditions thankfully may be conducive to better training compared to up here!



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