I think I’m still in shock! I looked up the results from this Sundays trail run around Manly Dam and I came 4th in my age group! I can’t even remember the last time I came anything, maybe it was back in primary school when I used to win medals for athletics and netball. As an adult it’s quite humbling, especially for someone as slow as me.
Last Sunday I met up with some friends from the Sydney Harbour Runners group and we chose our start groups for the 10km course option. I decided to hang at the back with Todd, Pras and a few others as I planned to take it easy. After all, I had done 32km the day before and was running on tired legs.
As our group set off I tried to get to the front and stick with Todd and Pras, they are usually much faster than me on the road but I’ve had a lot more trail experience than they have which I thought might work in my favour. So I sat behind Todd for the first few ams, but then the groups in front of us got slow and were walking some of the sections. And because it was so narrow it was really holding us back.
So I took a chance and sped past Todd when I saw a break appear. I wanted to stay in good pace but nothing too uncomfortable. And I wanted to catch Pat. He had started in an earlier group and I really wanted to see if i could catch him.
What happened to my ‘taking it easy’ plan? Good question. And I don’t have an answer for that except that my competitive side won.
And I caught him. When I got to him I stayed on his tail for a while and we chatted. I had thought at that point I might stick it out the rest of the way with him. But that competitive voice in my head won over again and after a km or so I overtook him.
This race was totally different to the long runs that I have been doing lately and it was great to try and get some speed up on the course. I felt like I was flying down some of the hills and I heard people behind me commenting on how fast I was going past them. I felt really confident and comfortable on the trail. Maybe I will have to stop saying that i’m a beginner trail runner now. Or maybe that will come after 6 foot track in a few weeks….?
So there I was puffing and pushing towards the finish line.
We got to the bridge at the end of the Dam and I felt fantastic. I knew it meant there were only a few more ams to go and only 1 steep, rocky, single-tracked hill.
I had run this course back in December and loved it, but I had lots more experience now and have learnt that knowing the trails is sometimes half the battle.
The last hill came and I went past many people here. They had either stopped to rest or walk and I just kept moving. Forward, upward, past them. I felt like nothing could stop me. A huge difference to how horrible I had felt on my trail run the day before. I was very grateful.
We rounded the last bend and I heard the crowd so I gunned it. I sprinted to the finish and ended up with a time almost 4 minutes fast than my run back in December. And I now know that I came 4th. How exciting is that!!
I am so grateful for the good running days when everything works and you feel unstoppable. Let’s hope in just over 3 weeks time I feel the same on race day. Fingers crossed.