Sunday, 20 July 2014

2014 Salomon Trail Series - Race 2 Lower Plenty - Ambitions

     This race write up is a little more personal, a reflection on what I’ve been able to achieve.
     If you’ve found me on twitter or Instagram (My links are at the end of this post) you’ll know that I went into this race with some ambitions. 
     After my strong placing at Race 1 at Studley Park, and having loved this course last year I readjusted my race goal to what I hoped and dreamed was something achievable. This picture might let you in on what I was set out to achieve at Race 2 of the Salomon Trail series:
     I had followed a similar training schedule to last month, tweaking it to spend more time in the Dandenong’s with my friends in the Dandenong Trail Runners. I also felt I had lost a little stamina by sacrificing my long runs for more intense sessions on the trails. By spending the last two Sundays in the hills I regained that belief that I could pull away on the hills and run strong from go to woah.
     So, how did it pan out for me?
Race 2 was a tough race. I knew the initial part of the run would be flat to slightly downhill before the little rise up into the open plain. I set out with the field leaders, running the first kilometre at a quick but maintainable pace. It was a little difficult to get my rhythm over the terrain but I felt comfortable with my breathing and place in the field, roughly 6th or 7th. As we hit the plain I was inspired by Adam, who joked that this time he wasn’t going to spend the race looking at my back. He pushed on ahead and I made the move to go with him. As we turned towards the bush track I was able to pick past him and another and was sitting in 6th.
     Although I really enjoyed running through the trees and scrub, I was at that point where my breathing was getting laboured and I could feel my quads feeling a little heavy. I was starting to have just a little bit of doubt creep in, and regret for hitting the treadmill so hard on Thursday.
     As we reached the end of this section and hit the rise before the descent down the grassy hill I was ready for that relief, and also rather happy that I’d chosen to wear my inov-8 X-Talons. The grip they gave me in the grass and muck was brilliant, as it was here that the first of the slips and slides started to occur.
     When we turned up the hill and into the next section of track I felt this was make or break time and began to push the pace from the comfortable to the unpleasant. My breathing was laboured and I had to drop to a 2-1 breathing pattern to keep on top of things.
We cleared this section and started our last downhill section into the small valley. Here I was able to find the balance between using gravity to help push the pace and ease my breathing and heart rate a little and managed to make a jump on the runner in front of me. I now had a feeling I was in 4th or 5th and I wasn’t going to give it up.
     Again as we entered a new section of single trail that ran alongside the hill, I was glad to have the additional grip of my Talons, as I could hear those behind me battling with the twists and turns. Me, I was able to bite into the ground and push off with confidence. The meandering trail again made a turn upwards and I was starting to feel the pinch. What kept me going was hearing and seeing the frustration or slight fear (sorry if you’re reading this – but it got me going!) of my fellow runner as we started to climb again.
     My return to the long hill runs in the Dandenongs had given me the confidence to know that even though I may have slowed fractionally, I was going to smash the last of these hills. It was the moment of self-belief that I needed and I know that I was able to put some distance between us.
     Just as the demons of doubt were starting to gnaw away again, we merged with the long course runners and I was able to shake them off and kick on.
     The last 2ks or so were tough. The course was undulating with rises and drops and twists and cutbacks that needed sure footing and confidence. I was really feeling it at this point; heavy legs and laboured breathing ad a little bit of hope were going to get me over the line. As we ran along the riverside I remembered that little rise from last year and I was ready for it, no turning left for this little fish. I scrabbled up the last of the trail, up and over the ridge and steadied myself for the final surge. This last few hundred meters seemed to go forever, and I was nearing my limit. In previous runs this is where I’ve been at my strongest. This time I was spent, having finally pushed myself into that next zone.
     I heard the kids on the cow bells and then I saw the Suunto mat and told myself that this was it. As I hit the mat, I was hit from behind (not literally thank goodness) as another short course runner came from nowhere. We hit the sprint and I told him and myself it wasn’t going to happen. Not this time.
     Well, it did. In the final sprint I was pipped at the post. Hundredths of a second split us. I was totalled, physically spent having finally pushed myself into that zone of self-belief, that zone where you dare to dream a little and hold nothing back.
My kids came running over and just about cleaned me up. I was breathing so hard you could have knocked me over with a feather, so two little kids were almost more than I could take.
So this race was about dreams, hopes and aspirations. After my hard work at Race 1 I finally had the confidence to really believe that I could hit my goals. I finally had that taste of success that is needed to push you out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. Yes, it hurts and pushes your limits but it’s an amazing feeling when you finally nail it.
     So what was my aim? Certainly top 10, and that podium is tantalisingly close. To finish 5th over the line and 4th in my division is what I dared to dream. To have 3rd snatched away in the last moments is devastating, but it won’t happen again.
     If your reading this and keen to see what the hills of Olinda have in store for you, please follow along on my Facebook feed. I’m hoping to hit up the hills of Mt Dandenong over the next few Sundays for some fun 10-15k runs.

Cheers again, This Fish

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram as ThisFishCanRun


  1. Plenty was a great run, shame you got pipped like that. Looking forward to a chance to catch up with the Dandy Runners as you suggested, however, I will need my ankle to be a slightly less fashionable shade of black and purple..... As you mentioned it was a bit slippy out there but it was a crease that rolled my ankle about 3km in. Saw it through to the end easing off a tad, knowing i'd done some damage but hoping it was ok. Straight to the St John's for some ice after that chat with you for some of the best feeling ice! Still, I am very chuffed with my time and position given things. Did miss the river crossing from last year though. See you at Olinda - I will have to throw in a special performance if I want to challenge for a repeat of my 3rd place from last year overall! - Adam

    1. Hi Adam, great to hear from you. Yeah, I was annoyed about the finish but Michael who beat me had the second fastest Suunto Sprint time for the day. Next time I'll push the last little hill a little harder. But 5th, I can be happy with that... Shame to hear about your ankle, it was a little dicey out there. Well done for making it through though. That can be a significant physical and mental challenge for anyone. I think we will be up for a challenge at Olinda, both with the course and some pretty efficient rivals. I hope we can catch up before then. Cheers and best of luck with the recovery, Lachie