Monday, 2 May 2016

Race Report: Puffing Billy 2016

This blog post today is tinged with tragedy after finding out that my friend Caitlyn died riding her horse over the weekend. So before I go on with my report I'm going to write a quick tribute to her; as much as for me than anything, just try to try and make sense of this accident that no-one could've predicated happening.
We won the Aths Carnival!
Photo Credit: Lisa Baker Gippsland Grammar
Last year I was a sports captain of my high school house; Cranswick Dargo, and one of the roles of this position is putting people into events for our sports carnivals. For the swimming carnival we were really struggling to find people to do U21 female events. I went up to Caitlyn and asked her to help out by doing some of those events and of course she said yes, that was the type of person she was. The athletics carnival was up next and is known for the amount of people who pull out of the events that they are put in, I didn't hear her complain once, she showed up and did well in those events. She was also a great asset in helping us captains out by making sure that the people who were put in events showed up on time. For that I'll be eternally grateful. She was also in my English Language class and very good at it, super smart. I often went up to her to ask for help and she always gave it. For that I'll be eternally grateful. She also took biology, but was in a different class with a different teacher. As part of assessment, the teacher of the other class marked my class' tests for every second test we did. The other teacher, Josh was a much harsher marker than my teacher and had a different marking style. At the beginning of the year when I was still learning Josh's marking style and after finding out that Caitlyn was acing bio I went to her to ask for suggestions and help so I could do better. She gladly gave it. For that I'll be eternally grateful. I guess the picture I'm trying to paint here is one of a person who was kind and generous, well liked and dependable. The world is worse off without you.

Onto more lighter news, I beat the train! Puffing Billy's Great Train Race is when runners race against an iconic train in Victoria's Dandenong Ranges across a 13.5km distance.

Not a photo of me, thankfully I was long gone by the time the train reached the bridge
Photo Credit: Paul Jeffers
When I lined up at the start line on Sunday I was feeling tired, both mentally, physically and emotionally due to being at a music festival the day before which was a 2.5 hour drive from the race start in Belgrave, along with finding out the devastating news. Never-the-less I was ready to go as I could've given the circumstances, but never expecting to beat the train, it seemed way too fast, but I guess I forgot just how much easier it is to run on road then trail. The first time the course crossed the train's path was at the bridge pictured above and I had beaten the train at the point, by a long way. At this point was the first time when I started to believe I could actually beat it.

The picture above shows elevation in grey and my pace in blue. The biggest climb was between the 5 and 7.5km mark of about 100m, at the 6.8km there was a level crossing and I beat the train there, which is when I knew that I could beat the train overall. I'm happy that my pace didn't drop below 5.30 during any part of the climb and looking back at that picture I'm seeing at the lot of positives. One of my weaknesses is returning to a fast pace after climbing a hill and it looks like I was able to do just that during my race. I'm also liking the the huge spike in pace at about the 12.5km mark as it shows that my legs still have enough strength in them to fly down a hill, which is a promising sign for my upcoming trail races. One thing I would like to improve on though is my pace consistency, I know there were hills but next time I don't want my pace varying from a bit below 2.30 to almost 5.30 and I think the only way for that to be better is to be stronger so I can run up the hills faster. 
The first time I saw the train come up beside me was about the 12.5km mark, unfortunately for me that was when I pretty much ran out of steam (haha geddit as I was racing a steam train, no? never mind) but unknown to me at the time, the train took a slightly longer route to get to the train station. This meant that I beat the train by 42 seconds and was in the top 5% of the runners, which also meant that I was a very happy person. Now to set my sights on outrunning a car as I run in the Wings for Life race this upcoming Sunday.

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