Monday, 28 January 2008

Oranges save the day

Woke at 6 and again rain was bucketing down (well it was supposed to be "The Wet Weekend" somehow i just couldn't see people hosing down their cars now !).
Thankfully stopped after a while, so i went for my walk to the airport (so much better than an hour drive), very full flight and i had a aisle seat, left 30 minutes late so didn't get to Tulla till Midday (Day light savings time), first bag off (i was probably last there - typical being the closest to the airport) and then off to Hertz.
I'd hired a Hyundai Getz, but strangely they gave me a free upgrade to a Ford Fairlane Ghia, realised it would eat the petrol but still sounded a great way to cruise the Hume to the Mansfield Turnoff. Can't honestly say i've ever driven a V8 before so i did find it enjoyable (only wish i'd had a CD with me to take advantage of the umpteen speaker premium stereo).
Got to Mansfield around 2:30 and it was 34 degrees outside, was thankful the Motel had a pool (shame i'd pre booked could very easily have slept in the car at the start - heaps of room). Went for a walk later and there were numerous thunderclaps so possibly a change was on it's way, bumped into some other runners at another motel (Julia, Jane and John - obviously i should have been "Jelvin") and had a chat for a while before heading back and having a swim.
Microwave 750Gram Lasagne for dinner seemed the ideal pasta loading and then a bit of tv then bed.
Shock of my life when i woke at 5:16, must have slept straight through my alarm which i'd set for half an hour earlier, not a good sign, pretty much breakfast, shower and then rush out the room, arriving about one minute before race start not ideal !!.
A field of 27 runners, with Tim Cochrane (multiple winner here and 2007 Ultra Runner of the year) the stand out, took off fairly fast as i was still rushing and really hadn't had time to settle.
Tim disappeared into the distance as did the first woman (an American i can't recall the name of), in front i had Townsville runner John Nuttall, Steven Barker and Deanne Nobbs and a couple of others i couldn't place. By 10K's i'd settled nicely and i guess i was a bit more relaxed and by 15 i'd passed Deanne and was being caught by a group of 3.
Ran with the group of 3 for a while (Robbie Gray and the Callaghans), before deciding i'd ease back and let them either use each other to run well or self destruct, passed Peter Gray (who'd started an hour early) and then it was a case of just watching what happened in front of me and hopefully pouncing.
That's when the plan became unstuck just before 25K's i'd walked a couple of the ups for the first time in 15 starts here and was feeling really flat, so in desperation instead of having a piece of banana i had pieces of orange, this appeared to give me that extra energy and i was soon up with John who was now suffering, passed him but i realised the group of three had now really got away from us as were out of sight.
More pieces of ornage than i've ever had during a race sums up the next 16 odd K's and i passed another couple of runners (including an early starter), by the time i'd hit Mt Buller Village (45K's ?), i'd been running for 4 hours 20 minutes (about the same time as my 1997 winning time !! so not good) and it was only 17 degrees.
By the time i hit the Arlberg Tim was already in and changed (winning in 4:06 - a comparitively slow time for him but very excusable considering his Coast to Kosi effort only a month prior), saw the next 4 runners coming towards me including the first woman who was now 5th on the uphill stretch and struggling a little in the cold (with windchill would struggle to have been 10 degrees), was happy to make the top and then head back down, had a couple of runners coming towards me on my way back but knew 6th was all mine (not that 6th was exactly my aim), ultimately finished in 4:56:46, my 11th fastest time on this course (or 5th slowest !), certainly feeling the piriformis a little towards the end but reasonably happy considering how i'd felt at 23K's.
Was soon feeling very cold, so got changed and had a cappuccino inside the Arlberg.
The first lady had already left when i got in (i'm assuming she didn't have a plane to catch back to the US ???), but presentations were given when most the field were in, for the first time since 1992 we got finishers medals !!!.
First time race organiser Robert Boyce did a great job, and his team of helpers had everything that was needed (and the aid stations where they were needed) at their aid stations, so i'll certainly be back again next year.
Had a lift with Tim and his father back to my car and fish and chips and chocolate milkshake at Mansfield, certainly by then i was feeling good. With a bit of time to spare before my 7:55 flight decided i may as well enjoy the Maroondah Hwy trip back, however a accident somewhere after Buxton meant the road was shut, so i had to head back to Yea. Looking at the time thought i may as well have a lay down in the back of the car in the shade of a park before heading to Tulla, my mistake had too good a nap and ultimately only just made it in time to check in.
In my rush i managed to leave my mobile phone in the console of the car, so on touch down at Coolangatta first thing i did was ring Hertz Tulla, so hopefully i'll get the phone back on Wednesday. Balmy evening for the walk home and then off to bed, it had been a long day !.

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