Friday, 20 March 2009
I'd been looking forward to the Six Foot Track Marathon for weeks now, having been in really good form prior to Caboolture i'd struggled a bit with the layoff, simple fact is i'm much better at racing week after week than just doing long training runs.
I suppose firstly there's the fact that when i head out on a training run, i tend to get carried away and pretty much say to myself just one more hill or just till the next corner etc, but whatever it is i often end up biting off a little bit more than i meant to (i'm sure some would also question the fact that i don't drink or eat on these runs, as i'd much prefer to focus on pushing myself hard and don't want to ease that pressure by wandering around looking for taps and the like and as for food as far as i'm concerned all i need is a front door key when i'm out, money would only give me a soft option !), so in short i flog myself way worse than when actually racing.
Leaving the coast early afternoon meant i got within 200K's of Sydney by bedtime, so curled up in the car and had a very deep sleep at the old Leyland Brothers World servo, it's quite amazing the deeper sleep you get in cooler conditions, i'm quite convinced i'm never as refreshed after a sleep in the humidity back home.
Slept in a little so decided best option to get to Katoomba was to cut across and avoid Pennant Hills Rd, ending up going via Berowra Waters (and the ferry which just like when running there i was just in time to miss) and hitting the Great Western Hwy at Springwood. By 11, i'd made it to Katoomba and similar weather too home, wet and grey but without the heat, first time i'd ever been to the Carrington (way back in 1992 when i first did this race it was a ramshackle building looking to be prepared for demolition). Picked up my race number and discovered that i'd actually not bought a ticket for the bus to the start, just thankful i was able to remedy that, really wasn't anxious for a 12 Foot Track.
With bad weather looking a real possibility decided the old faithful Nike Free 4.0's would be struggling to last out the 45K's so it looked like i'd be using the 7.0's in which case new shoelaces would be a good option (as the one's in them always undid whether double or triple tied - frustrating), so bought a flash new fluoro green triathlon pair wondering just whether they were the go.
After catching up with a few mates at the Expo and also a little shopping headed off to Jenolan Caves and by 2 was settled in, nice lazy afternoon as the rain also settled in.
Awoke at 4:30 for the 5:30 bus, great nights sleep (not a good sign usually i'm awake hourly pre race - i shouldn't be that relaxed !). Deciding it would be cool, broke with tradition and put on my Lululemon Bike top (if i can wear it across France twice, Germany, Death Valley and numerous other places couldn't see me being uncomfortable spending less than 5 hours in it), and took my Moeben sleeves with the thought they may be needed.
The usual mixing bowl of Vita Brits and banana and fruit salad and being still a bit flat from the previous weeks also mixed my Ultra Muscleze Magnesium stuff in with my juice although not often having that sort of thing race morning, could only do good (so i thought !).
5:30 we were off and by 6:50 were at the start line, strangely uncrowded (no portaloo queues), obviously things were happening slowly at the Skyway buses.
Caught up with heaps of people and laso saw many strange sites, numerous blokes wearing pink running skirts in aid of breast cancer (some notable names including my "twin" Paul Every and previous race winner Paul Arthur as well as numerous others).
Finally decided the Moeben sleeves wouldn't be needed, it actually appeared to be perfect running conditions, a little cool, but clear and looking like being a marvellous day.
At 8:01 we were off, was happy with my position in the field when hitting the Nellies Glen steps, and was comfortably behind one of the Canberra "Gramps Army" contingent making a good pace. Down to the valley in nice time, and i felt very comfortable and now ready to put in some solid running.
First drink station and was disappointed to see only water (no sports drink or coke), so whilst not overly happy with that decided it was best to have a cup.
Around a K on i was still having that water, personally i thought it was a little cold and as sometimes happens when that's the case, it just seemed to sit on my stomach, definitely not good.
For the rest of the run to Cox's River ran reasonably but was holding back a little (and sometimes dropping off packs) as the stomach was an issue. Made it to the river in 1:20, probably 5 minutes slower than i'd have liked but was thinking i had plenty left if only i could sort the gut.
With more uphill now i realised this was causing me more and more grief, couldn't even walk up the hills with my usual speed and was passed by numerous runners heading up Mini Mini Saddle, things weren't looking good. Bit of downhill but even then i had to back off as i wasn't feeling comfortable and then struggled as i went for the last steep bit up the Pluviometer.
Last year the Black Range had been bit of a Death March as i hadn't handled the cold, this year much better weather conditions but it still didn't look promising.
By now my stomach was churning badly, i'd been having coke at most of the drink stops hoping to fix it up all with one big burp but all i'd managed to do was pile more stuff on the gut and i was simply getting fuller and fuller.
Decided now the idea was to get rid of all that stuff via the other end. Wandered off into the bush and had a toilet break, relief of sorts maybe now i'd be right.
Within a few minutes my gut was back to feeling as bad as previously not a good sign, and with this all my muscles around there were feeling pressure resulting in some pretty horrific cramping. More and more people passing me, talk about frustrating many recognising me and saying gidday and then passing easily if nothing else my ego was taking a hell of a battering.
The ups and downs of the Deviation were knocking me about badly and by then all i could think of was another toilet break, but upon reaching the checkpoint discovered the real toilet had a fence between me and it, and climbing over wasn't an option considering the cramping hell.
Again wandered off the track and again momentarily better, but on hitting the road crossing was back to gut plagued. Really no option but to just keep on moving as best able and simply getting to that damned finish line.
A few ups and downs but maybe a little better, at least i knew i'd get to the finish line, certainly wasn't bothering with eating as all it did was fill my stomach further, so a cup of Hi5 was my aid station drop each time.
Finally made it to the last stop along the road, now only heading inland past the cabins and to the finish line. Normally i'd be disappointed if i couldn't pass 10 runners from this point, today they'd have to have been nailed to the spot for me to pass. Was at least keeping pace with the runners around me, but if there were any lip readers around they'd have been disgusted as i said the "F" word to myself frequently just to ease the pain. Was pleasantly surprised to find the steepest downhill was less leaf littered and easier to run than usual but i wasn't exactly making the most of it.
Finally hit the stairs and in one of my most degrading racing moments, moved aside to be passed by a runner half way down the stairs, simply couldn't fire up, certainly that passion was burning deep inside but my body wasn't capable of responding this time. Finally it was all over a 20 minute Personal Worst 5:11:31, 18 years after the previous worst time, very forgettable day indeed on a day that should have been memorable as i'd later get my 18 race jacket.
Having had a few days to think about it all post race before i wrote this, believe me this is almost a happy smiley version compared to what an immediate post race copy would have been, still not sure what went wrong, maybe too much magnesium, maybe the water at the first aid station was crook (some say chlorine was in it as a disinfectant), but whatever it was life goes on, and i live to race another day.
Just got to put it down as a shocker and as sometimes happens, a shocker often produces that boot up the bum that's needed to bring out the best in upcoming races.