Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Mansfield to Mt Buller 50K

After a rather humid week on the Gold Coast (with only one 2.5 Hour training run) was quite glad to be heading south for Mansfield to Buller. Apparently Victoria had been in a grip of a heatwave (as usual for the Australian Open Tennis), but by Saturday Melbourne at least had cooled down, however i was to find that over the dividing range it was still well in the 30's.
Bit of a saga at the airport, i'd been upgraded to a Toyota Prius but with non key operation i'd first tried to start it and then got the person from Budget to try and still unable to, gave up and was instead given a Toyota Aurion. Once i'd worked out how to operate a car without a handbrake !!!, had a good drive to Mansfield and then on to my accommodation at Merrijig. Relaxing afternoon (it's not as though Merrijig has shops !) with a dip in the pool being about as touristy as i got.
Unfortunately the pasta on the restaurant menu (where i was staying) had Carbonara (ie white) sauce, but whilst it wasn't my usual favoured Bolognaise doubted it would be an issue.
Set the alarm for 4:30 as i didn't want last years saga where i managed to almost miss the start, and being 15 minutes drive from the start couldn't take chances.
Good nights sleep, but was worried to find it so cold, probably explains why i slept so well as i was used to restless nights in heat recently.
Made it to the start with a few minutes to spare and was tossing up whether to keep the gloves on or not, but eventually convinced myself i'd never worn gloves there before (may have something to do with 13 of my previous 14 starts being at 7 !).
Without previous race winner Tim Cochrane there, i saw no obvious race leader so with hands numb with cold i grudgingly took off to set the pace. 5K's and i was running well but hands were frozen and i could feel i was wasting my energy trying to maintain my body temperature being that the running was taking way more out of me than it should have. Thankfully between 5 & 10K's i was beginning to hear footsteps and whilst refusing to look behind me i was very happy to ease back a little and swap the lead with Lachlan Lewis at the next aid station.

I was confident i had Lachlan's measure as he'd done Bogong to Hotham two weeks back and having done this double 11 times knew just how hard it is to back up here.
Peter Gray had set out at 4AM and he was the next runner i was to see, just before Merrijig, looked like he was in for a long day (and quite possibly out to erase Drew Kittle's 1992 slowest time record).
By the 15K mark i was finally getting feeling in my right hand, but was still struggling with the left and it wasn't until almost 20K's down that i finally had feeling in both. By this point the cool day had grown a little warmer as the sun had risen and i was beginning to get a good rhythm, but after having a lolly at the 20K aid station knew i'd wasted way more energy than was good as i still hadn't chewed through it by the next one 5K's away.

Lachlan was still a consistent distance in front and i was happily tracking him down as well as not hearing foot stops behind me. This continued until the 35K mark (although my mind was distracted somewhere around 30K's by the odour of dead wombat), by which time i realised Lachlan was beginning to weaken a little, i pushed along a little faster and by 37K's passed him and was relieved to not here him giving chase. Probably only a mile of good thoughts as i then heard new fresher footsteps, and was soon overtaken by Greg Love (like me another winner of this race in the 90's, whilst a little older definitely a faster Marathon runner than i).

Can't say i was surpised i knew Greg was well suited by this distance and he's a very tough, old runner so pretty much my only option was to let him run his own race and if he weakened i'd be along to pick up the pieces.
Had the one GU i was carrying and decided i was better off saving energy on the steep uphill turns by walking, in theory leaving me with something for a finishing kick. Was a consistent distance behind Greg and at the 44K Aid Station he was leaving as i arrived, had a feeling i might have him before the end.
However i got to the ski village (beautiful conditions by now, showing 20 degrees on the thermometer there) and couldn't see him. Found out later he'd gone by the slightly longer, but easier road whilst i'd used the steeper, shorter path and saw him going around the turn as i was half way up the village. Hit the Arlberg (Finish line) and had a couple of cups of coke as well as washing down a couple of Succeed Caps, knew this last leg was make or break.
Can't honestly say i was making up much ground, particularly walking the uphills but by the time we hit the grass ski slope reckoned i may get him on the down hill.
We were both on the stone path to the Cairn at the same time so definitely not much in it, but all i could do was what i could on the way there, it was downhill would make or break it.

High fives and words of encouragement as we passed each other (him on his way back, me on my way there) and once of the path pushed it harder down the ski slope, by my calculations i was gaining ground. Walked fast uphill and was within 5 yards or so with all downhill ahead, and was already planning to catch up and put thoughts of a dead heat in his mind as frankly had nothing left.
Unfortunately here the wheels fell off, tried to sprint downhill but hamstring and calf were way too tight and was having thoughts i being marooned there with snapped hammie and placegetters went by. I had no choice but to ease back and gingerly get back in one piece, by now i'd seen 3rd and 4th coming towards me and knew that bar fatal injury i was safe so sadly just did what i needed to to finish, ultimately finishing 43 seconds behind.

Ultimately my second fastest time there (with 11 BtoH MtB Doubles and a couple of injured runs over those years, not that surprising to be honest), and definitely not embarassing to have been beaten by Greg.

A good start to the year, now for the chiropractor, knowing my body that sort of muscle tightness is always back related !.

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