Monday, 23 September 2013

2013 Salomon Trail Series - Race 4 results

Well folks, the 4th of the Rapid Ascent Salomon Trail Series has been run and done. 

I was able to get the family to the 1st of the races in Kew, and it was brilliant to have them come and cheer me home at Anglesea on Sunday. 

I had entered the 'medium' race series with the intention of enjoying the trail racing circuit in a range of new locations and hopefully racing with some level of success. 

Earlier this year I set my racing target of finishing in the top 10% of each race. So far I have hit that goal and more , especially in the Salomon series where I have finished top 35 @ Kew, top 15 and top 10 divisional @ Studley Park and in the top 20 at Silvan. I had set a secondary goal of finishing in the overall top 50 for the entire series, so you could imagine my excitement when the September newsletter hit my inbox and I was sitting 4th in my male 20 -39 division! Woo hoooo! So I was equal 4th with 6th only 3 'placings' behind over the first three races. Things were looking pretty damn exciting! 

So it was with a little in-trepidation that I made my way down to the race expo at Anglesea. How would I go? What would the field be like today? Would the conditions suit me? 

As dad dropped me, off I saw inov-8 athlete and trail racing superstar Brendan Davies making his way across the car park towards race headquarters. Brendan had run in Saturdays Surf Coast Century 100km event, finishing an epic 3rd, in an amazing 8 hours 55 minutes. I was a little bold and caught up with Brendan to say G'day and congratulate him on his efforts in the SCC 100. For such a superstar, Brendan is an amazingly humble and welcoming guy (perhaps the inov-8 wragg and the trailrocs broke the ice). We eased into a great conversation about his run yesterday and what our plans were for today's race (yes, he was backing it up with the 14km race today). I was also lucky enough to meet inov-8s Shona Stephenson who battled out an incredible 55km before having to pull out. Shona was also such a welcoming person to talk to, and she was chomping at the bit to get out and run... I can't thank Shona and Brendan enough for their words of encouragement and the way they the two of them made me feel like I was one of the family. I had to be a groupie and ask for a happy snap!

Ultra elite atheltes - ThisFish with invo-8s Brendan Davies and Shona Stephenson

Well, time had come and I made my way down to the beach for the race start. I caught up with a few of the Dandy runners: Patricia, Travis, Bryan and Lucy (who had finished 2nd in the 100km and was also running again!!!). It was a little quieter down there without CammoMan.

The gun went and we took off down the beach for a 300ish out and back section on the sand before smashing our way through river mouth and up onto the path that lead us along the clifftop beside the caravan park. I settled into a moderate pace and was enjoying the atmosphere, but was soon hit by a bunch of doubts. I was thinking about my pace, was it fast enough, could I hold it, why was my calf talking to me so early and 'what am I doing here?' 

The course elevation and map
After a while we turned off the paved path and onto a gravel track that started the first climb. It wasn't steep but it was constant. I played cat and mouse for a while with a number of runners, mainly Emily who I had raced home in the 3rd race and the leading females. At this stage I was happy to let them pull ahead, but I was always just a corner behind them. The race then hit the trails and the fun factor was ramped up big time. 

If anything, I'm calling that this race was the best 'instinct' running. There were low and fallen trees, massive bush grasses and shrubs trackside puddles and ruts all over the trails. It was truly the time to run on instinct, as when you weren't running through a puddle or sidestepping and angling up the track to avoid the holes and scrub you were ducking a branch or having a near miss with a tree (and I'm all of 5"6!). It was why trail running is dangerous, but also such great fun. 

The trail continued to climb, and the twists took a little of the sting out of it. But damn the legs were starting to hurt. The game of chasey continued as I passed a few and had a few stronger runners pass me. The doubts were starting to disappear as I enjoyed constant challenges being thrown at us by the trails. 

About 7k in we reached the peak and went down this amazing descent through the bush on a steeply raked track that had all sorts of twists and turns. The terrain was quite varied, dirt, rock and a little sand and I don't think there was a stretch that was straight for more than 50m. You really had to be quick on your feet and just hit your mark. This is the section where I felt most at home and was able to make up some ground on the runners ahead. LOVED IT!

The trail flattened out before another climb and I was able to pace really well with those in front. We passed the Hydralite station and after a quick top up started on a short section of gravel road which was really soft under foot. This soon leveled out before it became another risky and fast downhill section. I call it risky as it was a little clayey and extremely rutted. You ran at your own risk - I had a massive smile on my dial. From here it turned into the last of the climbs as we headed back up to the cliff top track. I was able to pace well but could feel the enthusiasm starting to lag. I managed to run with a few other runners and had a bit of a motivational chat as we neared the top. From here it hit the Surf Coast trail path and leveled out a fraction before the most crazy section of the trail - rather large boulders pretending to be stairs with hairpin turns. It was a real high speed high risk section. I remember saying few choice words about this part of the trail and wishing it would end. I just wanted to get out safely

As it bottomed out we ran along some great little boardwalks and the gravel trail again, mingling with the short course runners. A few of the runners I had been running with pulled ahead and I steeled my nerves to try and hang on my placing. My watch said we were about 13km in and I thought it was closer to 15km to the line, so I plugged on, just wanting to see the beach again and that finish line. I dug a little deeper and as we entered the path along the caravan park I figured we were close to the end. 

Finally we turned onto the little ramp that hits the beach and it was game on. I could hear my family in the distance 'wheres daddy? he must be coming soon) and the adrenaline hit. It's amazing what a little voice saying 'there's daddy!' can do for you. From there it was all smiles as I made one last crossing of the river mouth and waved to the kids and my mum and pushed it hard to the big blue flags that lined the finishing chute. 
So the tide was out....
My emotions - relief and excitement. I was relived that I had finished, that I had battled a few demons and made it to the end. I was excited about what I had achieved and that my family were there to celebrate it with me. 

If you know me your waiting for the stats... Well as posted here they are:
43rd over the line, (top 10%!) and 29th in my division. 

When I looked at the quality of the field today I am stoked with my finish. Did I retain that 4th position in the overall standings? I think it was great to see while it was there but... I'm super stoked to finish up equal 7th! Woooohoooo!

The trail running bug has certainly bit me, I've got 12 months to enjoy the Dandenongs and fine tune my technique, build up my endurance and learn to run faster and harder. 

Rapid Ascent, can I sign up for 2014? - get your Aussie inov-8 gear here - fish10 makes it cheaper!