Coburg Lake Classic 10km

A few more training runs have passed since my last attempt at racing the shorter distance. There have been improvements since the Hurstbridge Fun Run. The Coburg Harriers are definitely one of my favorite race organisers. I usually get the opportunity for some head to head racing.

A wet course, that somehow managed some reprieve from water falling from above. No flooding this time, just some puddles on the concrete bike trail and about 50m worth of muddy grass make up what's underfoot. The topography is fairly flat, with some undulations that can drag some speed out of your legs.

Both the 5km and 10km started at the same time, with the 5ker's having their startline about 20m in front. I lined up at the front of the 10km runners and weaved through the slower of the short course runners before the events split in different directions. I found myself out in front at this point. I dropped down one gear and let a small pack of 4 others form around me. We looked like we were all going to be traveling at the same speed so I decided I was happy to sit towards the back and monitor. The gap to the rest of the field was clearly opening.

We bunched tightly and one guy tried to show some muscle and try some intimidating tactics by throwing his arm and shoulder across and trying to break my stride. Not even a kilometre covered, this was early for that style. I thought the best approach was to throw it back and told him very clearly if he wants to cut in then he better make sure he does it properly. It worked, he stayed clear and I could run without stress.

The 10km course is made up of two different out and back segments. We take the first turnaround at 1.8km and make our way back past the startline. During the return trip we drop one of group and four of us head out for the second out and back. I formulate a plan to keep things as they are, knowing I only have one big move in my legs, but am confident I can keep the current work rate up. If possible I think I need to wait for at least the 8km mark before attempting a break.

Just past 4km is the only real hill. We hit this on the way out as well as on the return. Uphill we stick together, but everyone responds differently. Over the crest and on the downhill, I relaxed and took it easy. These sorts of descents are definitely my strong point, and I moved out in front. It wasn't deliberate and I wasn't sure if this was in my best interest, but by the bottom I had opened a small gap. Deciding to stick with the general concept of my earlier race plan, I stuck with the same pace that had been struck over the first section. This kept me out in front to the second turnaround at near 7km.

Making the turn I get to check out the three challenges. The gap isn't exactly a safety margin, but I feel confident there is only one I have to worry about. He is in second position and looking more than comfortable. No point doing anything drastic at the moment. I know I won't recover from a big surge and could throw my lead. I'm not feeling comfortable in the front, there is a need to know more about those behind me. That creates a bit of a fight for my limited racing head space. I realise I am in the latter stages of a 10km as my brain tries to convince me to slow down and let those behind catch me. Then I can see how they are going and save myself for a sprint... what sprint? That's not my best chance at the win. Instead, I put my focus on keeping the speed up and work at making the most of the small undulations that are good at sucking a few seconds out of every hundred metres if you're not careful. I'll let the others work to catch me if they can and will likely make my move on the main hill.

Of course plans also seem better before you put them into action. At least I was right about who I had to worry about. Right on about 8km he came hurtling past me. A good 30sec/km faster than my pace. I hope that's a big surge and he's not feeling comfortable. I lift my effort and speed somewhat. I know I am working hard, but it just doesn't feel right for a 10km race. The burn isn't deep, it is just mild, but the acidosis is clearly limiting my higher end speed. If I drop 10sec/km off the pace I know I won't have much trouble maintaining it, but it won't get me back up to first. Even the fastest I can muster won't do that. Still it's an improvement on a few weeks ago.

The hill makes it's second appearance and to be honest it's a non-event. My focus is on the man in front. The final kilometre is by far my fastest for the race, but it isn't enough. I take second place about 20 seconds behind. On the clock I had 38:54. A result I am very happy with. While it isn't my fastest 10km, it is nearly 2 minutes faster over the same course as 2 years ago. I'm heading in the right direction.


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