In the expect low-key style of Coburg club the race was under way. Fighting the urge to jump in with the lead few runners I managed to hold back a bit. Later it was revealed to be a very good idea. Most of those shooting off at the start were in the 6km. Another bonus was it only took a couple of kilometres for the fast start to takes its toll on the others. Into the 3km turnaround I knew I was now at least in the top 6. Maybe better placed.
The first was completed with a shot around the athletics track. Those ahead in the 6km were enjoying the finish. In 12km we had more fun in store.
What had seemed like a reasonable conservative pace over the first half wasn't feeling that way any more. It still felt sustainable, but I was very relieved I hadn't gone any harder. The loop around the track gave everyone a good look at their competitors. Surprisingly I was up in 3rd place, but 4th was making a concerted effort to change that. Back out on the trail towards the turnaround I stuck with what I had. No point pushing harder yet. That would be a guaranteed blow up.
Back to the far turnaround it was clear that 2nd place was safe from me. My speed had dropped a little, but my effort was increasing. 4th place had closed the gap to me and he was looking comfortable. I was hunted, and knew I was likely to be caught.
No pain, no gain... I pushed it some more, making the most of the small downhill undulations to pick up some leg speed. Now I knew I was racing. The burn flooded my legs and kept increasing. This is exactly where I was caught, at approximately the 10km mark, 2km left.
There was no point trying to break away. I was at my limit, and a serious risk of a drastic slow down. My opponent seemed to notice this fact and put in a surge that I couldn't answer. He steadily pulled away for a clear 200m gap by the finish line. My legs blew, yet I didn't slow too much. Nothing to be embarrassed over.
Crossing the line in 4th overall, with a time of 46:53 I was happy. That was probably the best time I could have achieved on my current fitness. Plus this week really did feel like a race, and not just a stupidly hard run. The basic tune up is complete. Now I can really get to work.