VRR Yara Bend 12km

While this training thing is fun, you just can't go past a good race. After busting out my first Park Run a couple of weeks ago I realised I have missed racing. This year I will be making an effort to get out and race more often. I do like getting out to the smaller, lower key races, that focus on just doing the basics really well. The Victorian Road Runners specialise in exactly that, and I have been going back to their races since I first started fun runs. This last Sunday they dished out their Yarra Bend 12km (also a 6km option).

This is a course I quite enjoy. Two 6km laps on a mixture of bitumen, concrete and gravel over a variety of moderate hills and some flat sections. It's definitely not the type of coarse for a PB, but if you are race fit it can help you along. On the other hand it has the ability to show where your preparation is lacking.

The weather was about perfect. My warm up started with a few aches and pains that eventually evaporated as the race start came nearer. I lined up front and centre on the start line and noticed there was a reluctance for anyone else to do the same. It was at this point I settled on some sort of race plan:
  • go out quick over the first 200m through the first bends
  • assess who is around me and try and keep myself up near the front
  • adjust after the first 5km
"....set.....  go!"

The first part of the plan did feel quick and to my surprise put me out in front. Past the turns I settled back into something a little more sustainable. For a short period I had an extra level of concern about being out front and keeping it that way. Used to chasing, this felt a little strange. Soon enough I was put back into a little more familiar territory as I was over taken about 1.5km in. I wasn't able to see his race number so couldn't tell if he was in the 6km or 12km event. So I assumed he was doing the full 12km.

Wanting to stay in contention I tried to keep in touch with the leader. That was more difficult than I wanted it to be. Trying to strike the balance between running fast enough versus blowing the race fell on the side of not blowing the race. Between 3 and 5km as the hills got a bit bigger the gap stretched out. If he could hold the pace he was definitely going to win.

The last bit of the lap gives a nice view down towards the finish line. I watched the leader smash it down the hill and stop after he crossed the end of the lap. Turns out he was the 6km race winner. With a boosted ego I took the luxury of checking out the race behind me. Another nice surprise, there was absolutely no one in view.

Into the second lap I had the challenge to keep the pace up. I'd gone through the first 6km a little quicker than 4min/km and I really wanted to keep that average. As I worked my way back over the course it was clear this was going to be a tough ask. The style of fatigue that crept through was interesting. Strangely I just never felt the burn that I am used to over the years at this sort of distance. Instead, there was a just a steady loss of power through my legs. My technique seemed reasonable, but I was definitely loosing stride length and was dropping my cadence a little. Even though I tried to push, this drop in power and therefore speed continued. It seemed like my muscles just weren't conditioned to sustaining these sorts of paces, rather than anything else. This would fit in with how my training has been over quite a while. Even so, I continued time trialling to the finish and stayed well clear of the rest of the field.

Taking first place felt pretty good and I marked it with a time of 49:06. Not my fastest on this course, but my first win here. I guess you can only race those who turn up on the day. Usually I am chasing that guy out front. It was fun to be that guy for once.


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