Emergency Services 10km Cross Country 2016

That time of year has come around again. Time for the Victorian Emergency Services Games. A chance to mix it up with the other services (because we can be a weird bunch), forget about work, have some fun, friendly and if wanted, some fierce competition. First event for me was the 10km cross country.

My fitness seemed reasonable going in. Originally I had planned to train through the race, but the week turned out to be an inadvertent taper. A lot of training was missed for a few reasons. The main one being sleep. Fifteen and fourteen hour back to back nights took their toll on me this time. So I turned up expecting to feel pretty fresh. Instead my legs felt quite flat and heavy, at least until the gun sounded. Then my legs just kicked straight into race mode.

There were some course changes this year. More country and less bike path, some extra hill and a bit less flat. I liked the difference. The field had plenty of new faces and missing some of the regulars so I had no idea how the race was going to unfold. There wasn't much to my initial race plan. It was try to stay up near the front and see how the field played out.

Well the opening was fast and I immediately found myself back in 9th place. Reminding myself I tend to do better as the distance extends out I relaxed, but a good effort was needed. That I put in and within the next kilometre worked my way into 6th place. The following section is an out and back with the turnaround a bit before 3km in. A good opportunity to check those in front. The leading four were packed together, moving quickly and looking pretty comfortable. Already over 30 seconds ahead. Fifth place looked to be starting to struggle and I was confident in stealing his spot.

A bit of thieving brought me into 5th overall just before 4km and heading into the main uphill section. According to the elevation profile this is a 400m 8% followed by about 200m at 7% with a short reprieve in between. When already redlining, this hurt. Technique, technique, and a little more focus on technique is what kept me moving. Around the top and back down the hill, through the first of the two laps. The leading four had put a lot more ground ahead of me. My wife called out "Are they fast or are you just slow this year?"

They were fast, I was definitely travelling quicker than last year. The second and final lap was a matter of struggling to hold it right on that line of blowing up and getting out the best time I could. A few seconds were sucked out of my legs in each kilometre and I despite my efforts I couldn't close the gap out in front. In fact, that gap got bigger.

Around the top of the hill and I was sure my lungs were trying to jump into my head to throttle my brain. You'd think the last 100m or so of downhill would feel good, but my legs protested every step. Finally I gave my body what it wanted and crossed the finish line. Placing 5th overall and 2nd in the male 34-39 age group. A result I was happy with. The winner ended up a good 4 minutes ahead of me. A great event with work colleagues where we manage not to talk shop. Looking forward to the half marathon next Sunday.


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