Bilby's on the loose

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A new event on the calendar of the Canberra Bilby's, an innovative social triathlon club, is the Marshall/Farrell Cup - a 10k 'turkey' running event around the base of Mt Ainslie on the city fringe. It was another cold morning, and the wind was biting right through to the bones. A smaller than anticipated group gathered, in part due to some other events on such as the Metrogaine at the same time. With sixteen registered runners, each contributing $5, it was decided to divide the kitty into cash prizes for the three runners closest to their predicted times; the winner picking up $50, second $20 and third $10.

Arriving well ahead of time, I quickly returned to seek shelter and long daks in the car after registering with an estimated time of 54:13. I knew that I was leg weary, my performance would be slower without km markers and a watch, and the weather was frankly cold! Familiar with Mt Ainslie, but unsure of the course this event was to take exactly, I also knew that while the surface was great, it was not flat, with rolling hills most of the way.

Most people also estimated very conservatively, having had hard sessions yesterday. Knowing Bob was very leg weary after a hard training week and long hours in the saddle yesterday I nominated 44:21 for him as he was going for a ride on his MTB, and was likely to be late. With such a small field, runners were sent out in handicap order, with the slowest predicted time (1:07:00) going first and the fastest (Bob, with his amended estimation of 43:00) 24 minutes later. The rest of us were ranked and sent off at the appropriate interval.

Starting fourth, I jogged up the summit trail to join the track which we were to follow in a clockwise direction. I saw no indication at the first junction and looking, I stopped and waited until the next runner (28 seconds behind) was within 'talking loudly' distance. She confirmed that I continue up, to where blue and yellow streamers (Bilby's colours) marked the turnoff. It was much easier from here, although Bob had warned me not to wear my long sleeve top, I had turned the collar up close to my ears, and had nestled my hands into fists inside the sleeves. I was cold! Near the next junction I saw Jason (no. 3) ahead and followed him, soon passing. From here it was straightforward, however very lonely. There were many people, sensibly rugged up, out walking and mountain biking, but I could only concentrate on looking for white arrows on the ground to indicate the way, and attempting to run reasonably hard with no one in sight in front or behind.

I enjoyed the running, especially when I eventually warmed up enough to slip off my long sleeved top, but the legs were heavy and it was too long a distance to keep pushing hard over on one's own. Without a watch, one couldn't even comfort oneself with the notion that there is 'less than halfway to go', or 'only another 20 minutes'. At the back of Campbell offices I saw the woman who started no. 2, and began to think that if I was able to come in first I might actually do a respectable time. This thought bubble disintegrated with a pop when I was overtaken by two tall, lean guys running easily and whizzing past with maybe 2kms to go. As usual, my pace dropped after being passed, yet more evidence of the huge impact of mental toughness and self talk in running.

Dodging a track width family of three generations, multiple prams, dogs and children, the turn off to the finish eventually neared, with the downhill track much easier than the climb at the start. Within a second or two of finishing though, I found myself freezing again, and quickly rugged up.

Both Bob and I missed out on the prizes by a fair margin: Bob finished, tired and leg weary, in 44:30; I did a surprisingly slow 52:50. I felt that I was running better than that, especially the last half, although with no heart rate or watch data I can only put this down to lack of pace experience. Thanks to The Runners Shop, Canberra, almost everyone got a barrel draw and results and prizes were collated and awarded quickly.

Unfortunately, I have been having the Osmolite HN since Friday, and I don't think that it suits me. Despite fears of it being completely unpalatable, I consume it very cold, and add vanilla essence, and it is (just) bearable. However the fat content is high - for all the fat soluble vitamins or something - and while this makes it very filling, it is upsetting my gut terribly. Having just invested in a couple of cases, I'm not too sure what to do. I see the dietitian again on Thursday, but don't feel that I could possibly have a minimum of 1,500mls of this a day until then. On a high note, it makes me think that FortiJuice and Gels are exciting foods with a great flavour!

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  • Distance Swum
    February 17,400m
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    December 297 km