Homebush – not a PB course due to the twists, 800m dirt section and baffling humidity all-year-round. Speed-work has been poor and thus main goal is set a (bad) 10km benchmark.
Highly disorientated rolling out of bed seeing 6:30am, then panic! 7am start and 20 min drive. Main priorities are matching red visor and top (check), red racing flats (check) and out the door in 4 min (check).
Whoops, eerie silence in the car which means I left cheer squad (Lorie and Trinity) behind. Good decision given by the time I’m at the start, it’s 6:59. No warm up.
Nearby, HuRTS is well represented by the likes of Timmy, Eoin, Macca, Jackie O, Neil and even has a well-equipped cameraman (Champ). Despite the Sun Run in Manly being a talent sink, I’m nervous over the competition. Neil has pre-declared that 33:20 is ‘in the bank’ and Timmy points to a black-singlet (Robin) saying ‘he’s a safe 33 minute’. Time to self-seed myself upfront because red equals fast. Off we go.
Front pack of 4 includes Neil, Black Robin and a guy later identified as White Robin. Timmy is in close pursuit helped by calf sleeves.
First 3km is the easy part. Black Robin is pressing 3:20s whilst I elbow White Robin for the inside lane. I’m thinking, boy he has awkward moving arms. Elbow battle continues through a twisting bike path where I decide it’s time to get the best photo position from the overpass. Hi Champ.
Out onto the dirt loop at 3.5km and I can’t shake these guys. Inside lane on unstable sand or outside on concrete? Inside it is and Neil follows, then surges. It takes me 400m to wrestle the baton back by which time we’re on the cycle track heading home. Here, I’m distracted by Neil breathing down my neck like a drunk lover.
Ramp is where I shake my baggage loose. Quick surge then a kick over the crest… Back through start-line (5km) and I keep the pressure on. Now the mental demon pops up saying ‘slow up, let them catch up and draft again‘. Ignore! I turn the screws and that’s the last I see of Neil and White Robin, some 15m back as we leave the car park.
Glee lasts to 7km mark where I realise it will be a lonely 3km to go. As per High School Formal Night, I’m alone and hurting.
Holding pattern of hurt continues to the dirt track. Again, I’m slowed by loose gravel and there is where desperation kicks in. Gathering my form, I persist at 3:20s, lean into the up ramp again and straighten the spine as the finish chute nears. At last, that magical archway passes and what am I thinking? ‘Straight face, don’t stop the watch‘. It’s all about dignity in the finish line photo. I’d say that’s a sign I had some reserve.
33:02 at 3:19 min/km average pace.
First podium effort at a Striders helped by a course PB vs Feb-15 (33:16). Unlike 2015, no help in the back half. Great satisfaction given my 34-flat expectations. That said, fitness feels slightly short of 2015. Faster time today because I raced more aggressively.
1H 16:30 then 2H 16:32:
– 0-5km: 3:15, 3:16, 3:15, 3:19, 3:24
– 6-10km: 3:17, 3:20, 3:18, 3:24, 3:21
White Robin is 30s back (a PB for him) and after an intro, says ‘O you’re the breakfast guy‘. Neil tucks in under 34 min having faded from 7km. I also enjoy a Kiwi Mike and Fats sprint finish. Collating the team feedback, it’s a scatter of delight, indifference and then mild disappointment. To be fair, touch course, muggy conditions and crosswinds. Great morning all round and my hat goes off to everyone that showed up. Notable MIAs include Sam, Enda, Richard W and Birchy.
Brilliant camera work courtesy of Champ (album here). Simon, James, Timmy, Fats, Pete and the girls Renee and Jackie O below.
Same group with a ban on Six Foot Track winners (Fats).
I’ll add the official photos when available. Couldn’t resist a nice cool-down jog with Kiwi Mike and Simon, 3km in total. Post the presentations (free shirt plus socks), I politely declined Timmy’s kind invite for post-run coffee. With the wife and daughter stranded, I had to circle back and make amends. I hope Rini forgives me.
Thus, ended up at Marrickville on a breakfast date with the girls. Yes,I ate both.
Look forward to learning how the Sun Run 10km played out. The birds tell me Tom took 5th, Truscott 6th. Possible next race is SMC 30km in 2 weeks, or Striders North Head in March. We’ll see.
Have a great weekend all. The race link to strave is below.