I've also undergone some professional coaching with Sally Lynch from Barefootinc.com.au 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.