Race report – SARRC Dolphin Run 2017

Obligatory post-race selfie for Strava. That is NOT my shadow, by the way!

The Dolphin Run is the first SARRC race of the year, which is an out and back run along the coast at Semaphore. It was also the very first 10k race I ever ran, back in 2013, after only having started running 3 months earlier, in a very respectable time of 48:10. It is a tradition for me, one of only 2 events I have run every year since I started running (the other being City-Bay). In the past there has always been a 5k and a 10k and I have always done the 10, even though it is probably my least favourite distance! It is my one token 10k each year!

This year for the first time there was also a 15k on offer which proved popular. I did consider it – it probably would have been a better option given that I have a marathon in 8 weeks (let’s just gloss over that for now shall we – I’m not quite ready for it to be so soon!) but tradition won out and I entered the 10k.

So 2013 was a triumph of sorts, being my first 10k race (and from memory I hadn’t run 10k too many times in training). 2014 was the year I did my first marathon. Traditionally the Barossa Marathon 16 week training programme begins the day after the Dolphin Run. However, in 2014, the Dolphin Run was postponed by a week due to extreme heat forecast on the scheduled race day (certainly not unheard of in February!) meaning that it then clashed with my first scheduled long run (21km). As I’d already entered, I was committed to run the race, but inexperienced me decided I needed to get my long run in as well. So I did an early coastal 21.1k (had to get that half marathon distance in – the first of many!) by myself on the Saturday, and then ran the Dolphin on Sunday. Unsurprisingly it was a PW (Personal Worst) partly due to what I’d done the day before, and partly due to the brutal headwind for the last 3km.

In 2015 conditions were much more favourable and I broke my PB from 2013.

In 2016 I broke 45 minutes for the first time and you can read my report here.

My first sub-45 minute 10k and therefore (at the time) a PB! (I have since run a faster 10k in a different event but this remains my Dolphin Run PB)

So 2017 was my 5th straight 10k Dolphin Run. I didn’t really have particularly high expectations although I had told the volunteer coordinator that I expected to do sub-50 (so they would know what time I’d be available to volunteer afterwards). The weather conditions are so variable and can really affect times! Obviously everyone has to contend with the same conditions so if you’re going for a placing, the conditions shouldn’t matter, but if you’re going for a time, they can really make a difference!

I wasn’t too fussed about times for a few reasons. One, I’m not setting my expectations too high for Boston. Two, I’d had a pretty high mileage week (I’d done 65km before Sunday’s race). Three, I had been at the Guns N’ Roses concert at the Adelaide Oval (dancing for most of it) and it was so good, it was hard to wind down and go to sleep when I eventually got to bed!

With the lovely Mel just minutes before the start! Not my real hair! It got cool during the night so despite it being quite scratchy, I was glad for the warmth the mullet wig offered!
One of only 2 photos I took during the concert. Because I was too busy enjoying it rather than, you know, filming it like EVERYONE in front of me!

Pre-race nutrition was interesting to say the least. Dinner was a vegetarian pasty from the Bakery On O’Connell before heading to the Oval, and I had to make tracks back there after the concert to have one of their legendary head-sized vegan chocolate donuts at 11pm. Perfect!

It was an early start on Sunday as I was to be there at 7 to help out with bib collection. As a member of the SARRC Board, I had offered to help out with any volunteer gig, on the condition that I still be able to run.

As someone who is into colour coordinating my running outfits, I was excited to discover that I had a top that matched my green running skirt perfectly – conveniently also a SARRC top, last year’s Adelaide Marathon singlet. As it was chilly (and raining) I decided on rainbow arm warmers. I wore my new favourite Steigen socks and finally my usual running hat, more so to keep any potential rain out of my eyes and to reduce the chill on my head, than to protect me from the sun. Sunglasses were not required!

I helped out with the bibs for an hour or so (I quite enjoyed that, there were a lot of familiar faces and a lot of people I hadn’t met before) before Voula told me I could head off for my warmup. I just ran about 1.7km to get the legs loosened and to allow myself to peel off a layer, and on the way back to the start line I saw the 15k runners head out for the first part of their race. The run out (south) was into a stiff headwind so I decided that it definitely was NOT a PB day!

Pretty soon it was our turn – I was probably mid-pack at the start. As I said, I wasnt too fussed about times. The 10k was the most popular of the 3 events with 164 finishers. And the weather turned nice – the wind dropped to nothing, just before we started!

There’s probably not a lot to say about the race itself. The 10k was a straight out and back, heading north first and then turning at 5k. The 15k had headed south first, then back past the start and did their last 10k with us. MANY of them passed me. Some had already passed even before we started (they started 20 minutes before us, so therefore they were running well under 4 minute kilometres!)

The drink stations were only a few kilometres apart but I don’t tend to drink in the shorter races so I didn’t need to stop, although I tried to thank as many of the volunteers as I could!

Pic thanks to Rachael, one of the awesome volunteers!

I knew my friend Tracie, one of the official photographers, would be around the 3k mark so I was looking out for her. I was conveniently all out on my own at that stage so I hammed it up a bit, taking my hat off to show my still relatively shorn scalp! (I thought maybe I might be a bit buggered to do anything fun when I passed her on the way back!)

Official photo from Tracie of Geosnapshot! See, I even coordinated my bib with my outfit!

I was sitting on 4:33 min/km at the turnaround so sub 50 was a no-brainer unless a gale force headwind suddenly popped up (it didn’t).

I was conscious of not trying to work out where I was placed in the field. As the faster runners started heading back towards the finish line at Semaphore (as I approached the turnaround) I didn’t let myself look at their bibs. I knew there were a few ladies ahead of me and a couple had flown past me after a few kilometres, but what I didn’t realise at the time and probably should have, was that they were actually 15k runners! The 15k had orange bibs and ours were red – it was kind of hard to tell them apart!

After the turnaround I started paying attention to who was behind me and encouraging as many of them as I could. If I knew them, or if they had their names printed on their bibs, I would call out their name. I can still remember being pretty excited when I did my first half marathon and random strangers were calling my name! I was slightly freaked out that they knew my name, until I realised it was right there on my bib! Duh!

I even got in a few high fives to runners coming the other way – Min-Qi and Allen both got a high five (actually Allen’s stung a little bit!) and a few others including Ellen got ‘virtual high fives’ because I wasn’t quite quick enough to get the hand out!

I saw most of the 15k runners as well as all the 10k runners – the 5k went the opposite way so we didn’t see them at all.

On the way back past Tracie I saw her but called out to her that I was in serious mode. So I just left the hat on and ran normally – so there might be a bit of a contrast between my photos! (Race photos 101 – try to be out on your own, or with a friend, when you see the photographer, so you’re not just a face in the crowd. Nailed it both times!)

With around 2km to go I ran past a small personal training group at one of the playgrounds. They were doing leg kicks on all fours but what really got my attention was their choice of soundtrack – ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ by GN’R! I complimented them on their choice of music and carried on, that definitely gave me a boost!

Then towards the end I was just saying hello to everyone on the path – runners, walkers, dogs… amazingly a lot of the walkers didn’t bother to respond! (The dogs were very polite though!) And I was high fiving marshals at every opportunity!

With a few hundred metres to go there was a bit of a headwind but with the finish line in sight it wasn’t a big issue. I did a sneaky look behind (the only time I allowed myself to look back) and couldn’t see any other females, so I knew that whatever place I was in, was where I would finish!

I was pretty excited when I saw Voula at the finish line and she told me I was 3rd! (First thought – how do I break the news to my cleaner – my mum – that I’ve just created more dusting work for her?)

My official time was 45:16 – less than 30 seconds off last year’s PB. Very happy. My average pace for the second half was 4:30 – a negative split!

I was happy with my pacing overall – relatively consistent (as it should be, on a flat, calm course!)

The trophy was pretty cool too!

My first ever 10k trophy! And see, it’s got a girl on it! Looks just like me too, with the flowing ponytail… oh, wait…

Of course I have to thank the 15k event for taking some of the super fast ladies away from the 10k and allowing me to finish 3rd in a slower time than last year  (when I finished 13th). Also the always popular Yumigo! Summer Trail Series clashed with the Dolphin Run this year which would definitely have affected the numbers! Still – a trophy’s a trophy, right?

I finished off the morning by helping out with the merch sales. I used an EFTPOS machine for the first time – conveniently the first customer was a retail worker, so she was able to show me how to use it! I may have a future career in retail! 
Well done to all who ran/walked, and a massive thanks as always to all the fantastic volunteers for making this a brilliant event once again (and making it possible for me to run it)! A perfect way to kick off the running year!