Monday, 12 September 2016

Race Report: Walhalla Wound Up

Yesterday’s race at Walhalla certainly was far more interesting than it should’ve been. I should’ve been able to write that I took it easy and crossed the line in my desired time, and that today I don’t feel sore at all, but that’s not the case, unfortunately.
The centre of town and one of the hills I had to run up
The Walhalla Wound Up is definitely an event that everyone who has an interest in trail running should do, it’s super low key but has such an amazing vibe and the scenery is stunning. The hills are doable and there are distances for most fitness levels, with a 10km, a 21km and a 50km. I did the 21km; even though I raced last week, as I ran in this event last year and wanted to see if I could beat last year’s time; as well as to see how much my fitness has improved.
Some of the single track Walhalla has to offer.
The morning was stunning, cool but not too cold, with the sun shining, which was starting to warm up the valley by the time the race started. I, as per usual, got there an hour early to warm up, and was excited to see so many Sale and District (SAD) runners starting to turn up before the 21km started. It was during this warm up period that I was speaking to a SAD member and realised what this run was going to be; a ‘training race’. I was always going to take it fairly easy, but with it being a ‘training race’ I started to think I might be able to try out a different race strategy and see how it would work.
The SAD crew
I had a goal of running it in about 1 hr 40 mins and this was close to the time of the winning female from last year, Katie (who is a SAD runner) so for the first couple km’s I decided to run with her and let her set the pace, which was nice as it wasn’t too fast and I got to enjoy the view, and because I wasn’t racing it I stopped to take photos, which I haven’t done before. All my trail races this year have been stunning and now for the first time I tried to capture that, which partially worked but the photos don’t do the trail justice, you’ve just got to run it.
At the start line, first time wearing my Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin3 12Set (that's a mouthful) for a 'faster' run. Great pack, well done S-lab.

Starting to head up into the hills

After about 5km I decided to run that bit faster than Katie and left her, which she said was fine at the time and latched onto the leading female and used her as my pace maker. When I stopped to take a photo, she gained a bit of distance on me, when I started back up I had to speed up to try and keep the gap at an even distance. And I think that helped to keep my splits fairly consistent, even with all the stopping and starting.
Just happened to be a waterfall on the side of the trail
I felt great come the 11km point, which is where I had to cross an old, wooden, slippery bridge. It’s a beautiful bridge and I had to take a photo of it, so when I actually turned on to it I was only just starting to start running again. As I wasn’t going fast I didn’t think I would need to grab onto the handrail as I turned onto it, I should of. My right foot slid from out underneath me and as I was falling over my left foot/shoe smashed into the inside of my right ankle, which hurt, a lot. I then proceeded to hobble for the next 500 meters, as I couldn’t put any weight on my right ankle. The pain slowly subsided over the course of a km and soon I was able to almost run normally on it. I just adjusted my technique to focus heavily on landing on my left foot, which is why when I got to the aid station at the 15km point I decided to keep on going rather than DNF. The ankle wasn’t too bad at the time and I was about to run up the hill that I seriously struggled with last year.

Damn you bridge! Why do you have to have wooden planks?!
The hardest hill of the race climbs about 100m meters in the space of a km and I had to walk up all of it last year, and when I made it to the top I told myself that the next time I attempted it, I had to run all of it without stopping to walk. This year I felt great by the time I got to the hill (ankle not withstanding), muscles were fine and I wasn’t feeling puffed and I was feeling confident that I could run up it all. And I did, I didn’t see my watch drop below 9.30/km and I managed to pass 2 people whilst doing so. It was an amazing feeling once I reached the top, I had proved to myself that I’m much, much better than I was last year.
A view out into the surrounding bushland
I then pushed myself that bit harder for the final 5km (mainly flat) testing to see how that race strategy might work for me, where I passed two more people until I reached the final downhill (about 800m to the finish) where my ankle pretty well blew up on me. My brain must’ve just said, ‘you’re nearly done, no need to mask the pain anymore’ and man, that final bit almost killed me. Absolute agony. I managed to hobble over the finish line, and straight to the first aiders. It was amazing to see how swollen the ankle was, so was glad for the ice and the compression bandage that they put on. 
Whilst I was getting treated my mum came over and told me that I finished 3rd overall, which was a complete shock! Since I started out towards the back of the pack I had no idea how many people were in front of me, and that I was slowly working my way though it, especially towards the final stages of the race.
Representing both SAD and Wellington Aths! And yes that is a baby shoe that I'm holding, best trophy idea ever
Overall it wasn’t a bad race, finished on the podium and beat my desired time coming across the line in 1 hour 38 mins 56 secs without feeling too tired, here’s hoping the ankle heals up in time for the Hoka One One Night Race at Stanley Park in two weeks time…

No run would be complete without post-race beers, a great turnout for the SAD crew. Well done finishers! (and to mum for taking photos and being support crew for the day!)


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