Sunday, 28 July 2013

2013 Salomon Trail Series results: Race 2

Dear readers, sorry that its been a while between drinks. Since my last post on the Salomon Trail Series race I've been training hard. 

I've also undergone some professional coaching with Sally Lynch from who is a certified POSE trainer .... 

Why the delay? I've been eagerly awaiting this race to put all the theory and training into practice before I tell you how it has worked out for me. 

Back to the 2nd race of the 2013 Salomon Trail series: 12km at Lower Plenty Gorge. 

It was a blustery and cold morning. I had the trailrocs (A link to my review if you're new) all laced up and was ready to roll. I picked up Steve and we made our way to the gorge. We arrived with plenty of time to park and check out all the tents and to have a chat to the many Dandenong Trail Runners that were entered in the three events: 

The 6km short course, 12km medium course and the 17km long. 

Todays events promised it all: Grueling hill climbs, water crossing points and fast, steep technical descents. I was amped. 

The course outline is below: 

Thankfully Steve was running the short course today, and he would go out to smash it and finish top 5! 

With about 20min before the scheduled start I went through my warm ups, practising my Pose lifts and drops and working on my lean. 

I found a few of the Dandy runners at the start, Cameron and Nick and wished them luck. Nick and I weaved our way to the head of the line and then we were off! 

The first 1km was quick. We headed off along the gravel road and before quickly heading off the beaten path through fields, along fence lines before heading bush.

The tracks were winding under and between trees and you had to keep your wits. We were running a tick over 4 minute to the km pace. I focused on my 180 bmp leg speed and tried to find the Pose lean as I settled within the field, watching Nick creep ahead alongside a younger girl in a bright yellow top and and few guys our age while I sat just behind a young kid and possibly his sister. 

After some ups and downs we weaved our way down to the first river crossing. It was brilliant!

I eased my way across, the provided ropes more a hindrance than help, and also made sure the young lad got across safely.  We walked up the opposing bank and I played it safe by walking up the rocks and track until it levelled out again. At first I was surprised at how heavy the trailrocs had become but they soon drained and the only squelching was the last of the water being forced out of my socks.

The next km or so was a beautiful run through low scrub and bushy trees before hitting that long hill. I enjoyed this challenge and it was rewarding to watch so many people start the long walk as I picked up the cadence and leaned into the hill. 

At the top and the 6km mark I grabbed a drink of Hydralite at the rest station and planned my next attack. Nick was pulling away a little so I picked up my feet and took off again. This was the most level 500m of the run and I eased into the Pose lean and I seemed to just take off. I quickly picked off another of the runners I had been pacing and started to reel in Nick and the girl in the yellow t-shirt and a few runners that were pacing with them. 

Here the trail got tight and technical. It wound its ways through the trees and it became instinct running - my high cadence Pose style was incredibly effective as I just lifted and placed my feet among the roots, rocks, cracks and holes. The pace we were at left no time to think. You just did it. 

As we tackled a few more short climbs then descents the trail began to take its toll. I was almost breathing down Nicks neck when he slipped and fell. I offered him help but was told to push on, so I did. Within the next km I had caught the girl in yellow and a few others. Her running partner was amazing, offering words of encouragement and wisdom all the way. I was feeling strong but willing the end to be near. 

We started our final descent into valley on this insanely steep track of exposed rock bed. This was a great leveller as your speed was restricted to your braveness and agility. I certainly had the agility and was able to reel in another couple of runners. I was however more than a little scared about what could happen if you lost your footing. 

We hit the 2nd water crossing and I flew into it and passed a few of the longer runners who were gingerly picking their way across. 

I looked at the bank where everyone was heading up the single track that was worn into the embankment. I toyed with the idea of skirting straight up the 1/2 meter climb beside them but relished the 30 odd seconds that this near vertical climb claimed as I became a sheep and we single filed it along the track. Next time I would take no prisoners. 

I was at about the 10 km mark and nearing the end. Straight after the river was the start of another long climb. There were some quite steep sections and then more crazy instinct running along a single track by the river. I was hot on the heels of another runner that I had played cat and mouse with over the last km and the leading girl (I found out later) was hot on my heels. There was no time to think, just do! 

We rounded the last corner for one last steep climb through the grass and as we reached the top I turned left and took off. I sensed something was not right and turned back to see that I should have gone right. NOOOOOO!!!!! 

I turned and tried to chase down those last two runners up the hill but I was spent. Finally the track levelled and I turned towards the finish shoot. 

The final surge and I crossed the line in 1:02:26. I was stoked. I was confident I had hit my top 20 goal. But had I? 

I found Steve who was confident that he had finished about 5th. After a quick change I grabbed the phone to look up the results. Thisfish had finished...

13th. Wooo hoooo! Top 20 achieved. 9th placing in my division, a kind of top 10! 

I was stoked. Nick also finished strongly and came over in 15th. 

Once again full Kudos to Rapid Ascent for organising such a great run. It was tough, it was brutal but oh so rewarding. I loved it. 

If you ran this year or last, I'd love to hear your experiences, please leave a comment below.

Cheers, The fish

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Monday, 1 July 2013

2013 Salomon Trail Series results - Race 1

On a crisp 4 degree morning this fish and the family bundled into the station wagon and we all headed down to Studley Park in Kew for the 1st of the 2013 Salomon Trail series races - the 10.8km medium course.

We arrived in plenty of time for the start and I was able to collect my 2013 Salomon trail series shirt, drink bottle and free mag as part of the series entry package. We met B and Steve - the in-law that had been playing on my mind all week. How would this all pan out?

With the inov-8 Trailroc 235s laced up and the inov-8 tee on, number 163 eagerly toed the line. I'd seen a couple of other Dandy runners but as the family had been there part of the warm up routine was entertaining the kids. It was a nice distraction.

As Steve waited for the Suunto watch to find the satellites Camoman did his best to entertain the crowd. 3,2,1 the countdown finished and we were off.

Steve and I had found our starting point at the front of the field and rand together for the first 2-3km. Steve was running well and I had settled into a comfortable 3-2 breathing routine and was enjoying the run.

The first section of the race was around the park and then along the road for a while before turning alongside the golf course. We were both running well and Steve started to pull ahead of me. I was passing a few runners and a couple passed me. I was happy with this as I know that generally once I find my place I run fairly true.

At the end of the golf course we turned off for the trails. We rushed down the first slope and under the bridge before hitting a well paved running track. Not a true trail in terms of what the Dandenong Ranges had challenged me with but very serene and calming. The field was pacing well and there was minimal place shuffling going in.

I was really enjoying just running under the gums and alongside the river. After a short section we turned up a short series of steps to cross a bridge and head onto the other side of the river. The track here was equally as nice, a few rougher sections and you had to watch your footwork but nothing to untoward.

At this point we were mingling with the slower 5km and long course runners so there was a lot of 'passing right' and 'coming through' being called out. Everyone was great about it.

At some stage the track became single file and a lot more technical. It was a real blast. I had a couple of guys breathing down my neck but they were happy to pace with me. It was a lot harder passing along here but everyone running ran well and everyone except the numbats with earphones and music were really obliging with moving out o the way.

This was essential as two steps of the track and it was a 3-5 meter tumble down the banks of the river was an early morning swim...

The track carried us along the river before turning away from it a little. Eventually we hit the 'stairs' which took us back down to the river again. I skirted down the very narrow track on the side rather than going down them. I don't know if this saved time but it felt easier.

Back on the trail and the pace was lifting with the slight descent and again a lot of skill and care was needed on the single track - keeping your pace and footing and trying to navigate the slower runners and the Sunday morning runners as well.

Eventually we hit the second lot of stairs - up them. This threw me a little and I shot past a couple of people. I hesitated briefly for a one step walk but then got running again. We finally hit the top and turned onto the road - The Avenue. This was a minefield.

There were slower course runners to navigate and more Sunday runners to navigate, both going with the flow and against it. I found out the hard way just how many were going against it.

Hoping we were nearing the last few kms I put in a harder effort and started to pull away from the guys behind me and pick a few places (well, it was possible, they may have been long or short course runners...). As we neared the end of this section I pulled out on the left to pass someone as he was running close to the fence and  BANG!! I ran smack right into a Sunday runner. Somehow we both managed to avoid smashing into the parked cars and kept our feet. I looked back and he was on his way and so was I.

We turned back onto the trail for the final stretch home. This section was again mostly single track and was very tight. It had a few good turns and smaller trees that lined the track quite closely so you had to keep your wits and watch your step. People were starting to tire here so there were lots of moments of daring and care needed as I tried to keep up the pace. After one last turn and course photographer who gave us the '100m to go!' spiel I heard the buzz of the timing mats and the crowd so I pushed it hard for the final stretch home. I saw and heard the cheers from the family and the look of surprise as I raced past them. 10m, 5m and the race was done. I had crossed the line in... ???? I forgot to look and had started the watch late!

B and Steve were at the finish line and B was surprised to see me finish so close to Steve. She was in fact amazed at both of our results. Steve had finished in 47 something and she thought I was about 2 minutes behind. It looked like we had achieved the 44-50 minutes that I was hoping for.

I checked in with the family for sweaty kisses and cuddles and tracked down some of the other Dandy Runners who had also been very successful. All of us agreed that running the hills and learning to control your speed and footing on trails was a massive strength.

So how did I finish and what were my 2013 Salomon Trail series race 1 results... Overall time was 48:14, tick. Across the line I came 34th, big tick! I was hoping to run 44-50 minutes. I was hoping to run top 10% and top 50. To finish 34th out of 486 odd runners gave me a massive buzz. And the brother in-law. I should have stuck with him. He finished an incredible 18th. Well done Bro.

The day had been brilliant. Big thumbs up to the 2013 Salomon Trail Series course organisers. The trails were indeed very easily followed thanks to the coloured tags and surveyors tape. The displays were informative and the buzz of the crowd was very cool .

One whinge - Folks, DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES AT A TRAIL RACE!!!! On tight trails you really need your wits and senses. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the trail and be at one with your running.

Cheers for now, but stay tuned for the photos I hope to put up :) 


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