Early March, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia – morning. Usually this time of year is quite hot. Warrandyte is in a fire danger zone and is prone to bush fires – so when I say hot, I mean HOT. Although, not so much of an issue this year. In fact, this may be the coolest Summer on record for some time. being a warmblooded Englishman, the reasonably mild (locally speaking) temperatures have, still, caught me sweating on a few occasions and being one who usually revels in a chillier running zone, the megastorm that blew through the area the previous night was quite a relief.
As it the Run Warrandyte running event, there were a number of runs going on that morning. The big one though took place on a 4K course that which spends the best part of 3.3Ks going up hill in a combination of long persistent rises and false flats culminating in a short sharp 100 meter (or so) ascent before the long 2/3 of a K down to the start/finish. As I was taking part in the 12K course, I had to do this three times. Not being a huge fan of running around in circles, I had mixed feelings about this race.
At 8am on Sunday, the field of 70-odd 12K runners sprinted down the road. We didn’t want to sprint, well, I didn’t – but the guys and gals at the front wanted to win and with a field so small and the knowledge that the 8K and 4K runners were a mere 8 mins (max) behind we all found ourselves running sub 4:30/min K’s to a) keep up with the leader and b) avoid the embarrassment of being overtaken by an 8 or a 4k runner.
Not that being overtaken by a faster runner on a shorter distance is anything to be embarrassed about but I was looking to get around in just over an hour which mean’t I needed to be doing a 20 odd minute lap.
I had run this course a few times, never the 3 laps but I frequently done one or two laps in the months leading up to this so I knew I could get around the course without having to walk, I had even run it in conditions hotter than this. Lap three was by far the toughest – knowing that it is merely 4K’s and that there is only one bastard hill really gets into your head, I had managed to cycle down my pace to something comfortable for the final lap and as I exited “the pound” for the final time I remember cutting a deal with my legs; Just one more steady uphill slog and then no more exercise for the rest of the day. About half way up the ascent, as my pace dropped even more I found myself searching my brain for an imagined rendition of The Beastie Boys Body Movin’ as some sort of power track, I wished I had headphones.
On analysis – while I chomped down on my free apple and plastic cup of water – I felt quite pleased with my performance. I managed to run the first 9K’s faster than the Sydney Bridge Run, which I did in September, and I nearly run sub 1:07 too. In fact with a little more training, I may have even got in under an hour. 11K’s in under an hour and 12 in under 1:10, with an average split of 5:30/K on a hilly course.
I am back in Blighty, temporarily, in a few days time and in about a week, I will be running in a 10K at Bushy Park. Jet-Lag aside, I think I should be able to run the extremely flat course, in a significantly cooler climate, in around (possibly less than) 45 minutes – which means with a little more commitment to training it may even be possible to shave a good 20 – 30 minutes off my current best Half Marathon time.