Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Kedumba Half Marathon: Race Notes

A bit like Danny Wallace, I'm currently saying Yes! to everything. When my friend Trish asked me if I wanted to run the Kedumba half marathon I instinctively said yes. I thought a run in the Blue Mountains would be lovely and scenic.

When I hopped into the car on Saturday morning Trish handed me the race pack. As I checked for the directions some worrying phrases started leaping out at me. If "Strap yourself in for... the toughest half marathon in Australia" wasn't enough to put me off, "approximately 800m of elevation change" definitely had me feeling queasy.

To give you some perspective, 800m is equivalent to climbing up 2,900 steps to the top of a 160 storey building. And I was just about to run up 800m. Gulp.

The start of the race had a relaxed and family atmosphere reminiscent of the Sutherland Half Marathon I did in August. Around one hundred and fifty of us assembled at the start line. At exactly 07:30 we were off.

The race was on a gravel fire trail through the bush. It started with a slight rise before descending constantly for the first 10km. On the first descent I realised I was using more energy 'braking' than letting myself go. Off I went flying down the hills. It was quite enjoyable to be running downhill, although I was conscious that I was still using quite a lot of energy and my heart rate wasn't as low as I would have liked.

Three sections of the track were too steep for me to safely 'fly' down, so I had to slow down to stay in control. There were amazing views of the forest and down into the valley below.

When we got to the valley floor the course flattened out and we had to cross the Kedumba river before turning round ready to re-trace our steps. My calves were burning. I stopped briefly in the river to try and cool them down and to splash some water on my face. How on earth was I going to get back up?

I should have tried to stay fresh going downhill. However, I'd been running far too quickly and the unfamiliar terrain had given me quite a few aches.

As I approached the first hill I noticed that one of the Running Wild club members was walking and not running back up it. I decided to do the same, mentally justifying it to myself that I couldn't run and eat my energy gel at the same time.

This more experienced trail runner, who was constantly 20-50 meters ahead of me, was my saviour on the way back up. When he walked, I walked. When he started running again, I marked the tree and did the same thing.

It took enormous physical and mental energy to start running again when the ground flattened out. I was soaking wet with sweat, heart pounding and feeling a little dizzy. When I started running again I felt ok, it was just near impossible to get going. I can't convey how mentally hard it was.

If I am going to do more bush running I will need to quickly learn how to judge gradients and work out which hills to walk and which to run.

The final drink station was 5km from the finish. It was tough to start running again after I had stopped for a couple of glasses of water. Several people in front of me used their final reserves of energy to run up the last hill. I didn't have enough gas left in the tank so had to walk. I did, however, manage to sprint the final 500m which was level / downhill.

Just after I crossed the line one of the event organisers came up and shook my hand. I'm taking this as a sign that I did well for a first timer.

It took about 20mins for the pain to fade before the selective memory started to kick in. It wasn't that bad really! The views were stunning! What an achievement!

The data from my watch is here.
My total time was 1hr 58min 22sec. I ran the first 10km in 43min and the second in 70mins. No negative splits this time,

The official results are here. My official time was 1hr 58min 41sec. This placed me 22nd from 161 finishers. Twentieth in the men's race.

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