Tuesday, 22 September 2015

My Final 2015 Salomon Trail Series race - Race Four, Anglesea

Righto, and just make sure you listen to Grandma and Grandpa’. These are the famous last words of a parent leaving the kids behind on their way to Race Four and the final race of the Salomon Trail Series down at Anglesea on Victoria’s majestic surf coast. 
Kid free!
After catching up and checking in with Coach Bec and the Generation Run crew, Emma and I made our way down to the starting line down on the main beach. One final happy snap was taken before our warm up started in earnest. At the moment, I can’t think of a better place to do my pre-race run throughs than along a surf beach. Sure the sand can make it a bit tough but then we were about to start a trail race…

Could I beat Steve? Is David here and will I place ahead of him? These were my final musings as the race began. We took off down the beach on the 200m out and back and the pace was pretty hot. I was content to let the top of the field do their thing and I settled into a good rhythm. We soon hit the steps and began the run alongside the caravan park and up to the trail. The pace was a comfortable 4:25 for the 1st km and we soon hit the real trail.
Easing into a slightly quicker pace I enjoyed the little ups and downs of the 2nd km and was able to slowly reel in some of the fast starters who were now starting to feel the pinch and slow down on the hills.  As we navigated the first of the single trail and hit the track that started the big climb I had my eyes set on those who were around me. Mr Red top and Young Waverly Aths lad were running well, there were a couple of ladies and Mr Ironman all within a couple of hundred meters. This 2nd km was a quicker 4:18.
Finally the track broke open and over the road for a short blast be launching up the steps that took us up the long, winding hill behind the footy oval and to the high point of the course. This trail rose and rose, fell and twisted and rose some more. I was able to reel in Mr Red and one of the girls quite quickly while the others ran on. With each rise and turn they seemed a little closer and as the girls broke into a power hike I was able to move past them and focus on Ironman and Young Waverly. This was a gruelling km at a slower 5:46 pace, (But according to Strava the Grade Adjusted Pace was 4:23 min km) so I knew we were pushing it.
On the final rise I caught and passed Ironman, and put in a little spurt before he caught me again just before we hit the flat, winding, fast and fun section of single trail that lead us to the open land near the look out. Just as we broke out of the trail I passed Ironman for a final time and dug deep on the flat. In the distance I could see and reel in another runner and Young Waverly Aths lad was not too much further ahead. This 4th km was a solid 4:21 pace through the trails.
Uh, your f$#@&!g kidding was all I could say as we hit the stairs that started the decent down and the Suicide sorry, Suunto Sprint down the rocky ‘stairs’. Waverly Aths and I hit the stairs together and I made my move, trying to use the side of the track as opposed to the rocks of death. He was hot on my heels and all I could think was that I hope he knows what he’s doing. It was also a little buzz running past the small group that had gathered there to watch the sprint. Km 5 was done in 4:46.
Right now was the time to dig deep, and I spent the next 2kms chasing Steve down, catching a glimpse of him at each rise or round the bends before losing him as the trail turned or dropped. Even though the trail was a steady drop towards the beach, you still had to make your own pace and I was nearing my limits. Every time I felt I had him covered, he seemed to pull away, it was a real cat and mouse race to the finish. #These last two kms were covered in 4:03 and 4:01 and before I knew it I was hitting the sand for one last time.

A smile through the pain
Try as I might, I couldn’t reel him in and damn, did that soft sand hurt. It was all I could do to keep pushing through to the finish, and when I finally hit the firm sand again just 200m from the finish I could let it all go. I was thrilled to cross the line in 35:21, almost a minute quicker than last year, and to run 6th over the line was a rewarding finish to my winter training and the series.
As I regained my breath and waited for Em to finish I really got to enjoy the company and support of the Gen Run crew and to watch Em smash her goal time and finish in the top 40, and 8th female gave me an immense feeling of pride and joy. The smile on her face is what running is all about.

So, while I didn’t quite pull off the two placings ahead of David that I needed to secure 3rd for the series overall and divisional I loved every minute of the series and to finish 4th was a brilliant achievement. Thankfully the last race of the series was on the coast, in full sunshine and 20 degrees C weather. Gotta be happy with that! 

Series gear check:
Inov-8 f-lite 252, x-talon 190
Skins A400 compression tights, powershorts
Generation Run singlet
Suunto Ambit 3 HR 

Thanks again to Erica and Rapid Ascent for putting on the series and Baden @ Royal Bay Australia for the onsupport. 

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Group training or solo? The power of a great group...

'I think I'll just take it easy and cruise with you tonight Martin. Works been nuts, I'm tired and just feel like going through the motions.' 

When you train solo, these can be  famous last words. That tempo run that was due becomes another easy (EZ) run. The high intensity (HI) session that you should have done was run too easily. Your running plateaus and you lose your mojo.

This was a trap that I almost fell into before some careful negotiation with Mrs Fish allowed us to both attend one of a few of the offered Generation Run sessions once a week. While one of us gets to go out and for some professional coaching with Coach Bec and play with a great group of runners, the other gets kids duty. 

Running with Gen Run has been a revelation for my running. I'm still loving my twice weekly MAF 145 BPM heart rate runs in the morning, but the chance to run with the group for my tempo or HI runs means I get out there and do them. 

Coach Bec is amazing. she caters for runners of all abilities, and the mix of talent in her groups means that there is always someone who is going to make you push yourself that little bit harder (if that's what you need), or there's someone there to provide you the support when you need it most. 

I've always had a little bit of speed, and been respected for it, but to get the edge I want I need someone to push me as well. Running with a group and Gen Run has provided me with the opportunity to be pushed. When you get assigned your reps and expected intensity level, that little fella called 'ego' means that you want to perform. The fact that my brother-in-law also runs with the group sparks a little bit of friendly competition.  

So how has this translated in terms of performance? I've not yet raced since commencing my group training, but my opening lines were from last Monday night. 

Bec threw me to the lions (or the brother-in-law) pairing us up for the 6x1km tempo runs off 2 minutes static recovery. These were to be at our 10km pace, and consistent. No going out too hard and flagging on the last couple of repeats. 

If they say an EZ run pace is when you can run and talk in broken conversation, then these reps turned out to be just on the verge of and EZ run. The exciting part is, that we were runnning at 4:05 min/k pace, which dropped by a few each time to average 3:53 over the 6 reps. That kind of pace would not have happened if I were doing my own reps on the trail. Nor would I have done 6km. It would have been 4, maybe 5. 

I said it last year in my wrap of of the Salomon Series, that I felt my endurance was down by dropping my long runs with the Dandenongs Trail Runners and I've really enjoyed the weekend runs with them when I can. Now I know it's out there in the running world, but the power of a great group is something I underestimated. Big time. If you can, find your local group and make it happen for you. 

Cheers and happy running,