Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Race Report: Kilcunda Half Marathon

I feel like I need to start this off with a warning. In you, ‘the reader’s’, opinion some my previous race reports may have been a little boring to read (where as I am super-biased and have loved reading back on all of them) but this so far will have to take the cake. I’ve had long runs which have been more interesting. So, with that mind, this race report is mainly for me, as a chance to look back on what is my first planned ‘b-race’ (or training race).

So, I went into the race not knowing anything about it, apart from the fact that it was a half marathon and run along the coast. I usually try to research a race before I run in it so I can have some sort of plan, but since for this one I didn’t care how I went, I didn’t do any. But I tell you what, I probably should’ve. And my race day went a little something like this…

Wake up 3.30am Sunday morning, have breakfast, grab my stuff, jump in car, drive over 2 hours, get out at Kilcunda, watch epic sunrise, look left, look right, right seems good I’ll go right to do my warmup, warmup run is dead flat and on rail-trail, assume all of run is going to be flat, decide that I’ll try to have an average pace of 4.30min/km and go to the start-line ready to run. At the briefing we runners are told that it’s an out and back course, first running in the direction of my warm-up, for 2km before turning around and running back past the start line and then in the other direction for another 9ish km, then turning around and heading for home.

Epic sunrise
The race starts and I, as per usual, start out faster than intended running a 4.07 first km, but surprisingly this didn’t put me up in the pointy end. I was sitting in around 10th position and here I would stay until around 9km, where I climbed one spot to end up finishing in 9th overall. In the first 4km’s nothing interesting happened, if anyone has run on a rail trail you know what I’m talking about. But hey, at least I had the ocean on the right side of me heading out, and on the left coming back, that was pretty cool. And there was a good group of 4 of us (leading female and 3 dudes) that were running at the same pace as each other, and it’s always better running as a pack then individually, but this only lasted until the 7km point where we either sped up or slowed down. I suppose I should also mention that I had a bit of pain on the left side of my left foot but it was minimal and went away at around 5km (I was wearing my Speed Instincts). This run, for me, went from boring to really, really good about 6km in where I discovered there were in fact, hills, and single trail and epic cliffs to look at! This was the start of the George Bass Trail and boy, was it good. The sea views though, were the highlight. The trail twisted and turned, dropping down to sea level then climbing to be on top of cliffs. It went from grass, to gravel, to dirt and a lot of it was single track, but the killer that I wasn’t expecting was soft sand 9.5km in that lasted for 500m on the way out, and the course changed slightly so that on the way back it lasted about 800m, and this for the most part is where my training race was derailed.

Up until this point I was still on an average pace of 4.30min/km but after the sand I wasn’t able to get another km under 5min. The sand just knocked everything out of me, and I wasn’t willing to push myself from 10km onwards as I knew I still had to train the next day and the next week. So I changed tactic, instead of focusing on overall pace, I would focus on my transition from running uphill to downhill, downhill to uphill, etc. etc. because as you can see, this course is super undulating. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever done a run prior to this that is so up and down so frequently. Apart from the first 4km, there is barely a section that is flat. And I know from previous experience in other races, a weak spot of mine is going from climbing or running downhill back to running on relative flat. So this race was the perfect opportunity to try a few different things, such as feeling like I’m lifting my knees up higher on the flat after I’ve just finished climbing. Or trying to get my legs turning over quicker. I’m still not sure what does work best, but at least I’ve got some idea, which means this training race was useful!

Up and down, Garmin tells me I climbed 299m

Thanks goes to Running Wild and all the volunteers who helped make this day happen! And special mention goes to everyone at Marriot Support Services who participated, well done 😁. I can’t imagine a better way to finish my racing season in Victoria (though hopefully I’ll be back in 2018). Onto to QLD!


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