Monday, 20 July 2009

Aths vic Bundoora Park 12k

I managed to drag my poor body out to Bundoora Park to run the 12k race there. It was extremely tough with a massive headwind blowing straight at you for about 1.5k of every 3k circuit. My plan was to try and stick with Martin Spiteri from my club, who'd beaten me by about 15 seconds at the Lake Wendouree 15k race. I was hopeful that even with my lack of running training that I'd still have improved since then. It wasn't to be. I did a 4k warmup with a few guys from the club, including Stephen Paine who'd recently won the Phuket Marathon. My legs were already feeling dead after that slow jog, and when the race started, I realised within 500m that I didn't have what it took to stay with Martin (who incidentally is an extremely nice chap and had given me a lift to the race).

I really struggled the first km which was uphill and into the wind, and wasn't sure that I'd even be able to finish the race. Fortunately when the course started to go downhill, my legs responded instantly, and I went from feeling awful to feeling great. I picked up about 15 places within 200 m and was back within firing range of Martin. Still pushing hard (second km was 3:33), I managed to catch him at the bottom of another downhill, and tried my best to stick with him for the rest of the lap. I'd done my dash though and found myself floundering without a group as we passed the lap marker and headed back into the wind.

The rest of the race basically followed the same pattern. I'd struggle big time into the wind and then sprint gleefully down the hills, leaking time quite badly as the race progressed. In the end, I finished in 46:22 (~3:52/k) - 48 seconds behind Martin, showing that it was quite a significant dip in performance. On the other hand, I was quite happy with the way that I had kept up the intensity throughout the race, not giving up even as my speed began to drop off, and I managed to outkick a few people at the end, which had been a bit of an issue in the Lake Wendouree race. Hopefully in the next race at Geelong in two weeks, I'll do better.

My plan for the next five weeks is to concentrate on hills. I'm doing the Birkebeiner 21.1k xc ski race at the end of August, and it's one of my goal events for the year. I've done it the last three years, and what always gets me is this 3km long hill called 'the paralyser'. It really is a killer, and I always find myself doing well until that point before losing a stack of time up the hill and having no leg strength left for the final 10k of the race. So this year, I'll be hitting the hills hard. On the bike, on skis, on foot - it doesn't matter so long as I strengthen those muscles. I reckon I'll come out of it in very good shape for running as well, so it seems like a good strategy all round for me.

My injury woes appear to have abated naturally. I was in quite a bit of pain during the first week of the bike tour, but after that my legs seemed to heal and get stronger, and since then I haven't had any issues. Fingers crossed that it won't happen again and I'm going to keep on doing the exercises my physio gave me. I'm planning a slow build up of running with just 70k this week, which should be very easy even if most of it is uphill.

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