After trying Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) at the disapproval of my coach, I’m happy to eat humble pie and say he was absolutely right! After running and racing like a sloth for 2 weeks I had a blood test revealing low iron as I had suspected. I had not responded positively to the altitude training in any way so I scrapped the IHT and began taking an iron supplement (ferro grad c tablets). I have been feeling better and this has been showing in recent performances. I decided to enter the Sun Run a couple of weeks ago because my good friend Lisa Biffin invited me to join her and since attending the SWEAT Camp the weekend before, coping well with the training, I thought ‘Why not?!’
Not being very good at early mornings we managed to get there about 30 minutes before the start and still had to collect our race numbers. After walking all the way down the esplanade and retrieving them the next stop was a toilet, but the queue was agonisingly long! I took a chance and jogged back down the street searching for an open cafe. Shout out to the Seachange Cafe who graciously allowed me to use their facility (I wouldn’t have been able to start without it!) and then I was able to continue what warm up I could considering the time. It was 10km after all and it was also a humid morning, so I didn’t panic about the lack of warm up.
On the start line I sussed out the competition as one usually does. I was kind of surprised to see Clare Geraghty, as I knew this race didn’t have any prize money to draw in the elites, unless of course you have an awesome sponsor like McGrath (which I do) and they will support a top finish with some financial incentives. The last thing Sean (my coach) said to me at the start (he was racing too) was ‘Clare is pretty fit!’ so I took this as an indication she will be hard for me to beat. I took this as a kind of insult at the time and just told myself to do my best.
I went straight to the front and so after about 500m there were just guys in front of me to chase. I got into a good rhythm and thought the pace was good. I was absolutely shocked when a woman came up beside me just after 3km and then took the lead! I expected to see Clare but it was someone I didn’t know, so I hooked in behind her as she turned up the pace. The injection of speed didn’t last long and after a few minutes I was back ahead of her chasing the guys again, but it put me on alert for a while. I just focused on working and keeping pace. When we approached a hairpin bend in the last half of the race I got a quick look at where the rest of the field were. I didn’t have a big gap on Sean and wasn’t too far ahead of Clare. It spurred me on to tackle the hills. The last 1-2km was flat but felt like torture as we made our way down the ‘endless’ straight to the finish line. I felt like I was just hanging on but figured most people would feel pretty spent at this stage. I crossed the line 6th and had maintained the small gap to Sean which turned out to be 6 seconds, and Clare, 21 seconds behind. I thoroughly enjoyed the dip in the ocean followed by a hearty breakfast at a local cafe before we headed back to the eastern burbs.
The following weekend David Chamberlain of DC Run had asked me to join him at the Sydney Trail Series for the Manly Dam run. I had agreed without any thought to what the trails would be like but I overheard Sean (my coach) talking to another runner who was thinking about doing it and explaining how he thought it was too much of an injury risk, being too rocky and technical. How treacherous could it be?! I wondered, totally dismissing that it was at all dangerous for me and thinking Sean must be being over cautious. I didn’t tell him I was doing it, just in case he gave me the same talk.
Getting up at sparrows fart always seems a chore for me but when I get outside in the silence and stillness I really appreciate it. Especially when you are out in nature, such as the trails at Manly Dam. We milled around the start area and they announced that the 10km waves would go first before the 7km, my race. Immediately I thought they had made a mistake, surely they would realise that we would catch the slower 10km runners and it would be hectic trying to pass on the single trail. They gave us 5 minutes after the last wave of 10km runners but we still caught a bunch of them and had to yell ‘passing on the right’ as we navigated around them. Luckily when we hit the thick of it our course parted and we went right on a fire trail. I had got into third at the start and then the guy in second started to fall further behind Nick in first position and sensed my presence so allowed me to go past. When we hit the fire trail section I reeled Nick in and went past. Soon after the track resuming single trail. It had been pretty tough and hilly until now as we made our way down towards the dam crossing. I skipped, jumped and raced down, concentrating fiercely on the track before me so I didn’t put a wrong step. The single track made me feel fast and agile and a superb sense of freedom as I let my body grace down the track. Sean was right, one little mistake could cost you big time on these trails. I continued to pass a few 10k men and bombed along the bridge across the dam thinking there mustn’t be far to go as I could see where we started as I looked across to the right. How wrong was I! The toughest section was ahead, the steepest climbs with a stair section that brought everyone to a walk for 5-6 steps if they hadn’t walked already. I kept pushing along trying to catch the few I could see ahead and keep a distance between Nick and I, not that I knew where he was at all. We popped out of the trail at the car park and we were very close to the finish, so I did a final little dash to seal the overall win. I grabbed some delicious watermelon while I took my shoes and socks off to stand in the dam water. I reflected on the race and the rush it gave me and decided I would do more of this type of running, I loved it. But for now I better get back to the tartan and qualify for Comm Games!