Sunday, 14 September 2014

2014 Salomon Trail Series - My reflection

     Well, 4 months of training and dedication all came to an end today at the last of Salomon Trail Series races at Anglesea. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and to top it all off, I had the whole family there to support me, Bex and Steve who were also running albeit in the medium course.
     This blog could go on about the race and the atmosphere and finishing in an overall third in my age division, but I want to step back and reflect on my series. I want to reflect on my training and mind set, and if it paid off.
     Way back in May, when I entered the series, I made the decision to drop my long runs over the weekend and turn them into shorter runs and to push myself closer to my threshold. So, did it work?
Early in race 1
     Race 1 was the 5ks at Kew. Secretly I had set myself the ambition of finishing the series in the top 10. I entered the run with an open mind, placing no pressure on myself to perform, only to go out and push myself as hard as I could yet still being able to enjoy the run. My concern was who else was going to show up and how fast they would be. Enjoy the run I did. I was able to run the early stages of the race at a steady pace early and held my position to the end. To finish just outside the top 10 was a surprise, and to be 5th in my division a real buzz. I felt I had the early speed and enough to finish strong.

     Race 2 at Lower Plenty was my run. It was my favourite course from last year and the terrain that best suited my strengths. My mindset was in the right place. I still felt strong from my summer into autumn running and I was on a confidence high from race 1. I went out fast and with the leading pack and ran to my threshold. I was able to keep just behind the pace setters for the first couple of ks before they turned on the afterburners and did their thing. Throughout the run I felt strong, and ran to my strengths through the single trails and up the hills. When I was pipped at the post in the Suunto sprint I knew I had given it my all. I was absolutely stoked to finish 5th  over the line and 4th in the division. A top 10 series finish was looking quite likely.
     Between Lower Plenty and Olinda I found myself in the company of a lovely little cold. I felt a little flat and I think my training suffered. I had been able to keep to my shorter, harder weekend runs and enjoyed them, but found that I wanted to be hitting the hills with my mates from the DTR for those 20k plus weekend runs. But, I’d made my decision to alter my training and I was going to stick to it.
     Race 3 at Olinda was fun. I’d run some of the course in the previous weeks and I was looking forward to it. I still had a touch of the cold but my lungs were clearer than they’d be in the weeks since Lower Plenty and I had ambitions. Hey, the series could be run and won from these results. My race strategy was to go out hard and fast on that epic downhill start and see how well everyone else could run uphill. Well, I did just that. I went out fast, and it was thrilling. Smashing it out down those hills was so much fun, and for the next couple of ks through the moderate climb I was going ok. 
Just before the cartwheels...
About 4k in I was reeled in by the eventual winners and try as I might, I didn’t quite have the stamina to stick with them. As the course climbed up I reverted to a power walk up the hills, as in doing so I could keep the runners ahead of me just in sight. Why this strategy? In many of my training runs with the DTR group I’d often only just crept ahead by running the hills when those beside me got their power stride going. It did help me conserve some energy and I was able to run the last km home and finish well, but I was starting to feel the pinch of my illness and not getting in enough training ks in the build-up. I finished 8th over the line and 7th in my division and after the results were updated, I was 99% sure that I had secured third place for the series in my division. This was a result beyond my wildest ambitions.
     Between Olinda and Anglesea I did have the weekends spare to do a couple of 12-15k runs in the ‘nongs and although I wasn’t running them as strongly as I had previously I enjoyed running the extra distance again. It was nothing as fast as I was able to, but it felt good to know that I could still do it.
Chilled at the start
     That brings us to today. In perfect conditions I drew the line in the sand at Anglesea and made the decision to just run this one and enjoy it. So with that 99% certainty behind me I took off at a more moderate pace this time. I enjoyed the start, took in the single track up and beyond the football club, whereas last year I was pushing myself to try and secure a top 10 finish for the series. I was more concerned about catching the next runner or being overtaken to really enjoy it. Today I wasn’t going to let that get the better of me. With that mindset the first 4-5ks seemed to be over all too quickly, and as we ran up towards the scout camp I was able to reel in a few runners ahead of me and pick up a few placing’s. I felt strong and was prepared for the finish. As we navigated the stones and steps of doom on the trail along the cliffs and hit the boardwalks I was able to turn on the afterburners myself and run down those ahead and pick up a few more placing’s. Last year I wasn’t sure about this course, but with todays strategy I was able to take in the twists and turns of the bush, the views of the oceans and the atmosphere of the run.
      Hooting down the track to the beach and onto the sand I was greeted not only by my family, but my extended family as well, which was a great surprise.
Loving the almost 'Pose' form.
Hitting the Suunto Sprint for one last time I finished the series the way I started it in Kew, nailing my final sprint. Finishing only minutes behind me was Bex, winning the medium course and Steve wasn’t far behind her. Sharing this day was the icing on the cake. I was also more than happy to finish in 12th and round out my divisional placing in 6th. 
      What I also loved about the series this year was how the Dandenong Trail Runners group has grown from a few regular weekend hill warriors into a close knit family. It was great to have the support of those who’d finished the relays, 50k and 100k events yesterday. Being able to catch up with them and to cheer on home the medium and long course runners added to the thrill. Hearing so many of our names called out for race placing’s and series wins today topped it all off.
      Finally that 99% certainty I had of finishing the series in 3rd? After patiently waiting for our division to be presented and the nerves growing, my name was called and I finally got to stand on the podium as the 3rd place finisher in the Men’s 20-39 year old division.

     So where to next? Yes, I’ll be signing up again next year. I’ll continue to fine tune my training, although I think I underestimated the importance of the weekly long run and getting the right amount of ks under your belt. I also missed running with my mates in the hills.
     Till next time, enjoy your running where ever that may be and wherever it takes you.

     Lachie, AKA the ‘fishthatcanrun!’


  1. Great race/series review Lachie.
    Congratulations on the series podium. and Good luck for next year.

    1. Hi John, thanks for the feedback and support. Did you run in the series or any of the events this year? Cheers, Lachie

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