Sunday, 6 January 2013

2013 Portsea Twilight Run - An ordinary runners recall

Another run and another great result. This blog hopefully gives a little description of the course and how I was able to run it.

The Portsea Twilight Run – As described by Start to Finish, the promoters of this great event:
At twilight on Saturday, 5 January 2013, participants are invited to run/walk through the spectacular Point Nepean National Park in the 2013 Food for Health Portsea Twilight.
The Food for Health Portsea Twilight is one of Australia’s most scenic and challenging courses, boasting breathtaking vistas of Bass Strait and Port Phillip. With a 7.75km or 3.75km run/walk along the roads and trails of the Point Nepean National Park, the course takes in undulating short, sharp hills and exquisite natural landscapes.” Would this be the case? More to come later.

The evening was certainly set, an ambient temperature of about 26 – 27 C and a light breeze. I had the Trailrocs on and was ready to roc! If you are like me and my wife, and were first time runners of the course, you may have tried to do your research on this event and possibly came up empty handed. The best we could find was a course that was posted 4 years ago, after studying the map we had our race plan and may our way down to the point. She had the new Garmin F10 and was set to target 5 minute kms, I am currently heart rate training and was planning to race at my theoretical 90% heart rate threshold. Toeing the line we anticipated a gradual start, a 600m incline at about 2km, an 800m incline at about 4km and rolling hills right throughout. Perfect for our recovery sessions and time to make up time on the downs. Well, we were about to be truly proven wrong… 

A group of runners beside us were talking up last years times, about 31/32 minutes for the 7.75km. This was a little quicker than I was aiming for. I was hoping for between 32 and 35 minutes or about 4 minute  kms, so I got chatting and asked about the course. ‘’About an easy k, then the first long hill, a slight down then the next long hill. When you hit the top it flattens then descends for the next long hill, at the turn around point you get a slight break then have two more hill climbs. When you leave the bitumen for the gravel track it flattens out and you can make your own pace for the last 2-3km.” Awesome, thanks for the heads up. How wrong we were… last minute change of race plan any one?

The gun went off and so did we. We started within the first couple of hundred runners and shuffled off. The course took us along Defence rd towards the point. The first km was indeed easy, 4:08 and the HR at about 159BPM. I was feeling good, passing many and having a few pass me. From here it was the first of the hill climbs. The HR raced to 165 BPM and I was breathing hard but still holding my form and now starting to pass a few more runners. The road meandered along towards the point and continued to climb. To the left was the Bass Coast, breathtaking views of the coastline where waves were breaking against the rocks and providing an incredible sound track (second only to the breathing and the thumping of feet). Eventually the first plateau was reached and I thought time for the recovery stretch – wrong. A short flat session and then we turned into the next hill, steeper and more gruelling than the first. The HR was creeping up to and staying at about 167 BPM – roughly 87% of my max and a rate I could comfortably push on with. At about this stage the last of the people who were to pass me did, and after a brief chat with a fellow runner I pushed on and stole a few more places before the next descent allowed a little respite. The last of the long hills was to come next, and as I took another look at the scenery – truly spectacular I pushed on. I could feel my breathing become more laboured so I extended my stride a little and held my position until the turn around – 3 of the 5 or so hills done as I reached the lighthouse and the turn around point!  

A check of the watch and my BPM had settled at 161 as I pushed the descent again, picking off a few more runners and encouraging a few more as I moved along. The next hill approached and again I pushed onwards, another look at the watch and more of the ocean and bush setting around me – it certainly was enough to keep me going. As I neared the end of this descent I saw my wife coming up the incline – positioned really well and running strongly. A quick ‘keep going beautiful’ and a smile as we both ran our races. The last of the hills now approached and I checked the BPM – 167-169 and I was feeling good. The plan was to race at this level as I knew I should be able to maintain it – no cares for time or distance, just the BPM and my own gut feeling. I was starting to tire a little but I could sense the respite coming. Again I managed to pick up a few places on this section as runners were staring to tire. Finally the last of the hills was broken and the course was about to flatten out as I turned off to the Coles Track – the last section of the course and the flat part we were now expecting.

The temperature dropped a little as we were afforded more protection from the falling sun and so did my HR – well if you count 166 BPM a drop. I was able to push my own pace and really enjoyed this part of the run. The softer gravel was wonderful and I was able to keep my speed and HR steady and I really enjoyed passing quite few runners as we moved towards the finish line. At the 6km mark I knew I had another 8 -10 minutes to go and I was feeling good. As each corner came and went I was able to pass each person I saw. I put in a further burst and the HR jumped to 171 BPM, the theoretical 90% of my max and I could feel the chest tighten and breathing intensify. Strangely I felt I sounded a lot quieter than those that I was passing and this provided great encouragement. At the 7km mark I felt great and pushed a little more – a 200m or so burst at 175 and the body said “easy tiger, you’ve still got to finish!” so I backed off a little and but lengthened my stride. At this stage I could hear the crowds and smell the sausages being cooked and the flouro girls that were on the track certainly kept us going – thank you cheering peoples!

With the finish line nearing and finally insight it was all or nothing for those last few places I could snatch. I turned on the taps and sprinted out the last 200m or so. The body straightened and my arms were pumping - it felt great! I passed a few more runners and powered over the finish. The feeling was great – I hit the stop button and eased up – exhausted but ecstatic. At this stage I had no idea of the time nor did I care; I had run my race according to plan. I grabbed my Emma and Toms juice and a quick check of the watch suggested 33:28 a time I was wrapped with.

I made my way to the last 100m mark to wait for the wife. I could see 37 min on the clock and new she’d be in soon, hopefully before the 40 minute tick over. There she was, a distinctive flouro pink coming home strongly! A final cheer and last minute eye contact and she shot past a few more runners – under 39 minutes,  a time she had dared to dream of and one that made me incredibly proud of.

The course was certainly as described. We both felt it was more challenging than the Marysville 10km we did in November but the scenery and twilight timing made it spectacular. The course was gruelling but with the right hills training it was also just forgiving enough. We both enjoyed the flatter finish to the race.

The final figures… 33:15, a time I am very proud of – roughly 4:17min kms in a predominately hill climb race. 

I placed 128th over the line, 117th male and 45th in my division. So, I nearly hit my goal time on a course harder than expected. I exceeded my 2013 race goal of a top 10% finish (1600 + runners) and I learnt an some valuable lessons about how I can run. My average HR was 168 and maxed at 180 over the line. Could I have pushed it those extra few BPM? Possibly had I known the course.

The ever amazing wife finished in 38:39, 486th over the line but... 102nd female and 40th in her divison - better than me! Told you I was proud! 

Again I hope you have enjoyed your reading and found what you were looking for. If you’re planning this run, put in some good 1-2km hill climbs into your training in the 6 weeks leading up. Know what you can push your self to do and don’t be afraid to try it.

Happy running!


No comments:

Post a Comment