Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Race Report: Aths Vic Trail State Champs

Wow, my last race report for the year, how the year has flown! Crazy to think I’ve raced 15 times throughout the past year, and I’m so glad this is the last one.

As I mentioned in my previous post (the need for speed), my preparation for this one probably wasn’t the best, and I had a few lingering doubts. I wasn’t running in my arch supports for the first time since seeing the physio, would my foot start hurting? What about my gut? Every time I’d raced in afternoon/evening I’d had some sort of problem, would it be fine for this race?

With these worries, along with the fact I didn’t know what the course was like; I went to the start line with a conservative race plan, don’t start out too fast and try to maintain a heart rate that wasn’t through the roof, and if I was still feeling good at the 10km point, push the last 2km’s hard.

Lining up at the start line with me were two top-notch trail runners that I’d come across at 4 Peaks, Ash Bennett and Mat Dore. So another thought briefly flickered across my mind, maybe try and keep up with them? As there were so few people actually running in this race (about 60) and I wanted to do well, I seeded myself at the front, which was a mistake as I forgot one important thing. This was an Athletics Victoria race, and I should’ve known from racing in previous AV x-country races that the starts are FAST! I got caught up in the excitement and ran my first km in 3.36, 25 seconds faster than planned. The second km was more what I was hoping for at 3.57 but the damage was done, my heart rate and breathing rate were sky high, and I struggled with the gradual climb over the next 4km’s. Such a high breathing rate also made my throat really dry, and I had to stop to grab a drink at the 5.1km point, which I’m mad about as it made me have a 5.05min km for my 6th km, which is just too slow for a race of this distance.

After 6km was the biggest downhill of the race where it lasted almost the full km, wasn’t steep and should’ve been a blast to run down, but my legs felt heavy and I only managed a 3.57 km, which is well below my standards. From 7km to 11km was a mixture of gravel and leafy understory, and was flat and was my hardest section of the race. I was pushing myself to go faster, but my heart rate still hadn’t recovered from the beginning of the race and my legs still felt flat, and I felt like I was bleeding time. I hadn’t actually seen another person in front of me or behind me from the 6km point, but from the 10km marker I was constantly looking behind me, expecting to see another runner come flying past me, but luckily that didn’t happen. However, something strange happened with about a km to go. I felt great! My pace dropped, my heart didn’t feel like it was going to beat out of my chest and I had more bounce in my stride. Unfortunately the race was over at that point, and I found out from a passer-by as I burst out from the eucaluptus scented trees (from which we'd been running in for the past 3 km's) and out onto the dam wall that I was 10th overall. This meant as I came across the finishing line 500m later in a time of 51.51 and 2nd in my age group, the first time I’d finished on the podium at any state champs race!

I wasn’t feeling very tired at all as I came across the line, which sucked as I felt like crap only 10 minutes earlier. I’ve got to remember that I’m not Zach Miller and I cannot do well when I start fast, I’ve proven this to myself time and time again throughout the year but I still do it. I only wonder if my time could’ve been better if I didn’t start out so fast and maintained a faster average throughout the race, instead of slowing down considerably in the last 2/3 of it. Oh well.

Thanks to Aths Vic in conjunction with Trail Love for putting on a great race, my parents for taking me down and lets just say I’m glad I’ve done my last race of the year!


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