Trials and tribulations of the KSR trail running team.
To be honest, at first I wasn’t exactly sure about what to think of the title. Was this a hunting party now, a race for life or death? The latter would surely make me run faster and the normal excitement that you get when you stand at the start line would do the rest. So I signed up… hoping the Hounds (relay teams) would not have riffles tied to their waist-belts, running-packs or wrists!
I needed a race early in the year to assess whether my training had gone well over Christmas break and if I was ready to compete. 2013 had been great but as it works for most runners the holiday period had left its mark on me.
I know, I know. With about 63kg I shouldn’t be complaining about some extra weight. But especially when you are that slim, loads of Christmas turkey, gravy and beer will get you lazy.
Anyway, I was looking forward to the race and spent an extra day with two friends at the Sunshine Coast, of which one hosted us at his place. I felt great and enjoined the time away.
But the 3:30am start the next morning was terrible. Seriously, how do you Aussies get up that early, ready to chat, be active and even drink beer..? Us Europeans are a little different. We like to train in the arvo and races usually don’t start before 6am. So my ability to have a proper prerace conversation was limited to a couple of words such as “mornin’”, “yaaaaaaaawn” and “where is the toilet?”.
Since I expected the field not to be too strong, my plan was to start off hard and pretty much stay by myself throughout the entire race. The idea behind this was that I wanted to use this run not only to see how good my running was, but also to strengthen my mental skills during racing. If you can run 55km at 90% of your capacity on trails and on your own without struggling mentally, then you’re good to race anywhere!
So I kicked it off with a couple of kilometers at about 4min pace on easy but undulating terrain. But already about 500 meters into the race I was in the lead and all by myself.
What a pleasure… I truly hope that most of you have had this feeling of running trails, pumped up with excitement, just feeling close to nature. This equation to happiness is so easy, yet only a few of us have encountered it.
So the kilometers started to pile up and out of a sudden I was at the halfway mark. Had I missed anything? I was definitely feeling way to good. But after checking my GPS-watch I had proof. Half of the race was over. I am usually so in love with getting information from my watch while running that I am always up-to-date about distance, splits etc. But here, at this race, I had completely forgotten about it.
The best of a description that I can provide is a runners’ high. You run, but it doesn’t actually feel like it. There is no pain, no fatigued body and no mental challenge. You run and all you feel is the pure pleasure of being out there.
After I had turned around I quickly discovered a reason to speed up though. Two young guns (yup, even younger than me) were just about 5 minutes behind me and looked even fresher than I felt. We high-fived each other when we passed, but right after I picked up the pace. 😉
There’s not much to tell about the way back. There was definitely some more uphill but overall it pretty much felt the same. After turning around and picking up the pace I saw the sun moving over the hills for the first time and the temperature started to rise. But with just about 25C it was nothing to be scared of. Over the entire course I only had about 500ml of fluids and 3 gels..
The last 10km were a bit of a challenge though. Not that I was hurting too much, but for some reason I started thinking about things like ice-cream and ice-cold swimming pools. Yup, that surely did not help! To give you a short backstory, I tend to crave plain mustard when I race. Don’t ask me why…
I finished after about 3h 50min, more than 15 minutes ahead of No.2, and felt great. The race had given me assurance that I was ready to face 2014. And with races like the Buffalo Stampede and the Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon coming up soon, I am definitely happy about that.
For those that are interested, here’s my run on Strava:
And on a last note: I was never caught by the Hounds. 😉