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CANBERRA ULTRA 2017: TRAINING RUINED, PLANS STILL UNALTERED

April 7, 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve touched base and I wish the news was more positive than I had hoped to bring. Physically I’m fine if not a little weary thanks to work commitments, but since Wangaratta the Central and North Queensland climate has dealt savage blows to my preparation for both Canberra and Comrades. I’m certainly not in a panic, in fact Canberra was always intended to be a good training run with a few weeks of hills after prior to a taper period. It’s just frustrating that everything was set up to go on a decent trot, and then heavy persistent rain followed by a force of nature named Debbie ruined just about everything.

Having said all of that and with a lack of recent training under the belt, the plans for running in Canberra this Sunday are largely without major alteration. Sure flooding has meant a deviation in the travel plan but seasoned travelers like myself can keep calm and have a plan B. So having departed Gladstone, a 90 minute trip from home base, I’m delighted to say that flooding in Queensland isn’t stopping me from towing the start line this Sunday. It’s probably made this blog entry a little more rushed than I would have liked but sometimes there are more important matters than simply sharing thoughts with the population.

The race plan itself is much like last year in terms of pacing. Twelve months ago I had anticipated running each 10km split in an hour, and if I had finished inside the hour marker I would walk from the time I reached 10km to when the hour mark was reached. Of course that plan was ruined by a knee problem but a little strapping and support should help me through this time. This plan is not altogether dissimilar to what I would like to use in South Africa but the hills on the Comrades course would mean my plan would be closer to what I would use in an event such as Point to Pinnacle (i.e. jog for a minute then walk for a minute going uphill, whilst saving a little bit when on the flatlands).

There is an alteration to the hydration and nutrition plan for this year compared to last. In 2016 I felt as though I had over indulged in food the day before the race so eating less on race eve will be a priority. As usual my last meal will probably be before 6PM to give myself a little time to unwind before hitting the sack sometime around 10PM (I’ll be lying down earlier, but that’s probably the time I’ll be snoring). Fluid intake will be a little different to previous years as well. Most marathons I enter have a plan where I take on board fluid at every second drink station after about 8km or so, skipping the final station. This weekend I am anticipating having fluids at every second station to the mid point of the event, then I’ll be stopping at every station until the last which usually is too close to the finish line.

Hopefully travel within Canberra will also be more useful this time around. Reading the address where I need to go may help, but instead of booking the cab from the Uni dorms where I’m staying for a 3rd successive year, I’ll make the short walk to the major shopping precinct in nearby Belconnen to take a cab from there (hopefully it will save me a few dollars too, not that finances at this stage concern me). At the very least I’m hoping I don’t have to feel rushed to get close to the start area unlike last year where I probably wasted energy worrying about how far it was from drop off point to start zone.

There are 2 goals for this year that I have in mind for Canberra. Unlike last year where I had to withdraw after 38km I’m planning to finish this year (if I don’t then I’d probably need medical assistance beyond what is offered on the course and in the first aid tent). As was the case last year, I’m hopeful of finishing the course in a time around the 5 hour mark, which should mean I’m averaging 6 minutes per kilometre. Final position doesn’t matter, improving my seeding for Comrades won’t matter unless I’m well ahead of expectation (I was told this when deciding if the 50km or the marathon would be the choice of entry this year from people who know). All that matters is that I get a positive experience out of this weekend moving forward. After all, there’s only 8 weeks left before the big day!

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