A slow and hard 10k

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Monday, 3 October

After yesterdays surprisingly fresh run at the Jogalong, I was unsure at how I would go at the Sri Chimnoy 10k today. I had been uncommonly tired after Newcastle, probably the result of a number of factors, including a very poor diet and lots of work in the days preceding the race. I recovered from the marathon instantly, so I was surprised at the need for so much recovery.

Since I recommenced being able to exercise eighteen months ago, I have only given one 10k race a good shot – the Red Cross run at Homebush in July 2004 when I was rapt to be under 50 minutes (49:59 to be precise!) after struggling at 7 minute pace for distances of four and 5 kilometres when I had started 2 or 3 months earlier. Although there have been a few Sri Chimnoy, two Canberra Times, and a Terry Fox runs in that time, I have either been crook or backing up from some bigger, tiring events on the previous day.

I thought it was time I gave 45 minutes a proper shake-up on the way to looking at replacing my 43 minute PB. Today (and I suspect the immediate future) is not going to be the day for that.

There was an enormous turn out today, traditional after the flyers are put in the bags at the Canberra Times Fun Run. The weather was spectacular; an intense blue in the sky and on the lake, and a verdant, un-Australian green hue to the grass and trees that belonged to Ireland, not an inland sheep paddock. With most people turning up at the last minute to register, the race was underway a few minutes late, although it was great to see a large chunk of Customs Joggers regulars there, especially allrounder, Jodie, Aki, Nick, Yumiko, Kym and Friar. Jackie (Gallagher) Fairweather was there warming up to provide truly elite competition, while many were there to walk or jog the 4kms for the first time, one only six years old.

It was very warm at the start, and I linked up with Peter the PRB; we did a short warm-up before the customary moments silence to collect our thoughts at the beginning of the race. Having reminded all of those around me ‘Not to go out too fast’, I took off at 4:30 pace as planned. Even before the Hospital Hill underpass I wanted to stop; while there was no pain or muscle soreness in my legs moving them was a concerted effort with every foot strike. I reminded myself that I always started slowly until I warmed up and attempted to keep going. Through the underpass and at Hospital Hill (only a pimple, really) I was passed my hoards as my struggle to move my legs forward and upward resulted in an 8 minute pace turnover. The PRB commented on my ‘musical’ breathing which was uncharacteristically laboured and noisy. I spitted and splattered at frequent intervals without much relief.

Allrounder passed us early on and then as I crawled up the hill. I was still able to open up my stride a bit on the downhill run and caught up with her then; however this was painfully short lived as she turned on the decades of athleticism and flowed past me. The PRB was kindly staying at my side despite my poor, slow form. It certainly helped enormously, although I feel guilty about dragging his times down so much once more. From Black Mountain Peninsula I was really wondering what I was doing . . . I had to make a decision whether to divert via the toilets there and turn around and leave it a 5k event.

I kept going.

Wombatface (Ewen) passed us here and I croaked out a noise that was meant to be encouraging. Nearing the four km marker, I saw the teal Blackmore's running singlet of allrounder disappearing into the distance, along with wombat. At an inopportune moment I spluttered to the PRB that ‘I would catch up with him’ (a noble gesture, although one that was ludicrously optimistic) and made a quick Exit, Stage Left and diverted some distance away to a large, secluded clump of bushes. Making my way back on to the bike path, I saw the PRB pretending to jog a few metres ahead, and just as I joined him, a great vortex acted like a mini tornado as Jackie Fairweather streaked past on her return leg. I estimated that she had run nearly 6kms in a little over 21 minutes, and found this difficult to comprehend.

A long way behind was the first guy, and none of the men looked nearly as comfortable!

At the turn around, I grabbed a cup of water and tossed some over my head. It was hot. I still struggled on the slightest rise, and found breathing really difficult. I couldn’t see the point of slowing down even further – I was already at a pedestrian pace, and just wanted to finish. Besides, if I tried really hard I might be able to draw level with allrounder! Apart from the ‘musical’ sound of my wheezing, it was a quiet run with the PRB back to the 8km drink station. My enthusiasm for cheerful ‘come on Fred, looking good!’ greeting had not diminished, but just getting to the finish line was taking everything I had. More water in and over at 8k, and a concerted effort to finish. My watch beeping at every 4 ½ minutes reminded me of how close I was to 45 minutes ~ although unfortunately this was at the internationally recognised 8.987 km mark!

Over hospital hill, I knew that it was just downhill and a long flat home straight to go. The downhill through the underpass was my only chance to make up ground on allrounder. I tried to remind myself to relax, and just let myself roll and flow down. I certainly sped up ~ I peaked at nearly 20 kph or 3:00 pace! I seemed to make up ground, but was I imagining it, or did allrounder pick up the pace too? Nearing the line, I knew I had no hope, and faded a bit in acknowledgement. I asked PRB to pick up my number for me (there weren’t any, as Prachar enters every number into a laptop as they cross the line) as I had to dash to the toilets once more with great urgency.
Aki, the PRB and Me (Flash Duck)
I was knackered! Jodie had a satisfying jog on the 4km course, and her injured ankle didn’t cause any grief. Aki rescued a distressed child who had walked off course, and her ITB was ‘happy’. Bob felt like I was, and couldn’t spark today, and struggled through in a similarly disappointing 42:47, feeling shocking. Jackie Fairweather won outright in around 36½ minutes, not fast for her, but it transpired that she had done a hard 30k on Sunday and ran the 10kms there from home that morning.

The PRB, Aki and I wandered over to the Deck of a humanising coffee – a perfect setting on a perfect day, it was surprisingly easy to get a table with a cast of thousands milling around Floriade merely metres away on the other side of a fence. Aki joined Bob at our place for a sandwich and a pleasant day was had by all.

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