New Year's Resolution Run - Race Report

It's been about a year since I last raced one of the Coburg Harriers fun runs. Yet again I am reminded why I keep coming back. Low key, simple, well organised, friendly events that are often at a level that gives me a shot at the podium too. Last year I came into the equivalent run with just a bank of runs slower than 6:00/km and posted one of my best results. This time I'd put a good four weeks together, with runs averaging around 5:00/km, coupled with some hill sprints and a 28km trail race last weekend. I was hoping to be quicker this time.

Interesting morning. The air temperature was quite nice for a summer race, the sun turned out to have a kick to it, that was contrasted with a cool southerly breeze. The course is fairly protected, with a reasonable amount of shade over most of it, so nothing in the weather should play a factor. It was just a perfect day to be running.

Six kilometres worth of warming up and I was relaxed and ready. The race has a 6km and a 12km option. The course is a mostly flat out and back 6km stint on paved walking/cycle path starting and finishing on the Harold Stephens Athletics Track. One lap for the 6k'ers and two for the 12km race. The one hill is mild when compared to most of the other racing I've done over the last year. However, it gets hit from both sides each lap, that means up and down a total of 4 times for the 12km. When the rest of the run is flat, this hill plays a role. Compared to last time I raced, the 6km and 12km runners started on opposite sides of the track, before converging through gate and onto the bike path. This seemed to work, plus it allowed me to get a better idea who I was competing against in the longer option.

The start line was marked with a traffic cone and I positioned myself there. Strangely everyone stood a metre or two back. No one appeared to want to be right on the line, until the absolute last second when a few stepped forward. Marks... Bang...

I stepped out at what I thought was comfortably quick. A pace I knew would be too fast to hold, but would keep me near the front over the first 500m so I could sort out who was who and get an idea how the race would roll. The merge with the 6km wasn't a problem. A handful moved ahead of me, but I could ignore them. From the 12km mob, two guys pushed out hard and put in some distance on the rest of the field immediately. They looked like they were working excessively hard to achieve that, so I was comfortable I could draw them back in. One guy in a pair of oxymoronic barefoot shoes moved in front and it looked like he would be worth watching. I was in fourth place and feeling pretty good.

The hill hits a bit before the 1km mark. As the climb started a runner came grinding past me. I recognised the style and bandanna. It was a runner who always beat me by about 3 minutes on these races. He was moving as usual so I let him do his thing. Through the climb, I eased back into what felt like the appropriate level for the race. A little slower than the opening section, but hopefully just sustainable to the end.

Swapping position with the barefoot guy was easier to achieve than I thought it would be. At the 3km turnaround I was in 4th place. First was 45 seconds clear, but 2nd and 3rd were only 12 seconds ahead. Without any undue effort I was pulling back up to the pair who had gone out so hard at the start. Over the next kilometre the two split apart and I managed to pass them one at a time, getting into 2nd place. First had continued to pull away was now out of sight.

The status quo remained as we came back to the track. Heading out onto the second round I was about 1:20 off first and 20 seconds up on third place. I tried to take in my actual time and work out what pace I was hitting, but all the maths got jumbled. Settling the focus on keeping the running form at a good standard was really all my head space could handle. Nothing really changed on the way back out to the turnaround. The familiar battle of keeping the body moving while it tries plenty of tricks to slow you down was in full swing. The intensity wasn't over the top. The legs weren't screaming, they were just developing a gradual increase in burn. I could maintain what I was doing with effort, but pushing any harder felt like it would be a fast track into undoing all the previous work.

Around the 9km turn and I was surprised to see I was within 90 seconds of first. Usually he puts a lot more time into me as these races progress. Was I really that much better, or was he slowing? I actually had no idea. That 20 second barrier off third was still intact. It was clear he had me marked. Definitely worth making sure that gap doesn't close.

On the way back in I pretty much felt the same, except the mental game of moving was a lot harder. I felt too anxious about what was happening behind, and struggled to keep my mind on just making sure I ran well. Back up the hill and I dropped into a shuffle for a few steps, but forced the legs back into a proper stride. Coming off the downhill I realised I'd reverted back into the shuffle. For how long I don't know. Clearly I had tuned out for some time. Now into the final 800m and there wasn't much trouble in kicking the legs back up to speed.

That got me across the line in second place, with a time of 46:58. 1:34 in arrears, but not the 2-3 minutes as usual, and still 14 seconds up on third. It wasn't my fastest time on the course, from memory it may be my third best. A solid run, and one which I have plenty to be happy about. It did show up a few issues to work on, and will be worth factoring in to the next bouts of training. More importantly, the watermelon off the food table was excessively good.


  1. Enjoyed reading that Jason. You raced well -- good time too for 12k. Nice to be closer to the first bloke than before.


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