My memories of primary school athletics are crystal clear, I was the "bigger" boy who tried his hardest but regularly came nearly always last. In general I was a tryer. I would never skip anything I would never fake it or sit out, I was just never that good.
That moment when I realised I might be an athlete came when in Year 7 I was trailing running dead last in the cross country, I surged up the oval and put the hammer down and out sprinting two of the other boys to come third last! I threw up a little and layed on the ground trying to breath, I was happy with my "win". The memory is still fresh in my mind.
It's an interesting observation that most runners talk about a shared lack of "athletic" ability from an early age. I've lost count the amount of blogs I've read that start "I hated running, until XX happened - then I ran, now I am a marathoner".
I certainly believe getting started is the hardest part of running. "I'm too unfit, too fat, too slow". Last week I was reminded that runners come in all shapes and sizes, Step Into Life (personal training group) were out running at the same time as we finished our Saturday run. Here was a lady in her mid 40s - running, then walking to catch her breath, then running again. I slowed and spoke to her for a couple of minutes and encouraged her. She is at the start of her journey - in 12 months she could be 30kg lighter and runner her first half marathon.
All week I have been thinking about that lady and the others like her. Those that don't look like the Olympic Marathoners, but are out there running, getting fit and striving for their own goals.
Which gets me onto this week - its race week. Races arent the reason I run, they are more like the icing on the cake. I always have an event coming up - something to plan and train for. Having a very goal orientated personality, it helps give me some focus to what I am doing.
This week though is a little different, for once I am not doing a mega event. This is the first of my "shorter" races. I havent really explained, but after my marathon PB at Gold Coast, I became even more motivated to run faster. I am hungry for a fast marathon time, like the others from our running group that have gone under 3.20, or even faster. So after spending the past 3 and half years building my marathon war chest (7 marathons and 3 ultras) - I have switched to shorter races to build speed. I never did this as part of my running journey, I went for the big fish, the marathon, and have tried to improve by just running more marathons.
So I am running half marathons from now till Gold Coast 2013. Loosely my goals are to improve my pace so by the Rocky River Run next year I am running close to 90 minutes for the half marathon.
This weekend is the first step in the process. Jason, Lawto and I are in a team for the Yeppoon Ironman 70.3.
Simply I have been training to run a 1.35 half marathon. As you know from my previous blogs, my half PB is 1.42 from 2010 - so it has been a while since I have had success over this distance.
As boring as it sounds, training has been going very well - hard sessions are hard and the easier sessions have been enjoyable. It has taken me 8 weeks to get used to the idea that a training session might only include 25 minutes of really hard running. Most sessions are over and done within the hour. Saturday long runs are finished before the kids are out of bed!!!
The other fun part of this weekends race is the "team" competition. There are 3 other local teams who are all trying to win the mens team event, and without going right into all of the athletes I will be running agains Paul "Tex" Tucker (yes 2.42 marathoner and 1.12 half marathoner YIKES!), Gav Bendall (TNF finisher and 2.58 marathoner) and Aiden. I have no idea what Aiden will run, but he was a national level swimmer so fair guess he has a massive engine and eye of the tiger when he races.
So what does this mean for our team? Well on paper we certainly will match it with the other teams in the water and on the bike. My race plan is to run nice and evenly through the 21km, so maintain an even 4.30 average pace the first 10km will be OK at that pace, but I know I will need to dig deep to hang on for the second part of it.
The course isnt the easiest to run on, nor is it ideal that you have to wait around for your team mate to come in on the bike (the waiting killed me last time). Getting nutrition and hydration right is a bit of a juggling act, and keeping cool on the run is also important as it can be hot out on the exposed part of the road.
So I will be out there chasing 1.35 trying not to let Jason and Lawto down. Hopefully it all comes together, I can hang on and we can finish somewhere near the pointy end for the men's teams. If it comes down to a sprint finish, which it may do, I hope my leg speed and memories of that Year 7 cross country will get me to the finish in front of the chase pack.
“You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.” - Henry Ford
PS - If you are in Yeppoon on Sunday why not come out and watch the race, there will be PRO triathletes in town, and as a spectacle it certainly is an awesome sight watching them race for the cash!
Also if you havent registered yet....DO IT! Less than 40 singlets left! www.cqphysiosc.com