I’m a sucker for an event. 9 times out of 10 I would rather be out there participating in a race – regardless of terrain or distance – than doing the hard yards in training. This is probably not the best plan if I am trying to focus on a particular event (that I want to do well in!)
I can think of a few examples from recent times. Last year I ran the UTA 100km event as well as a few Masters track races (ranging from 800m up to 10000m) when my primary focus was always getting a Boston qualifier at the Gold Coast Marathon. Fortunately, despite this, I did manage to get my BQ!
This year, I was supposed to be training for the Boston Marathon (although having qualified, time was less of a concern for me than it had been at Gold Coast in 2016) but couldn’t resist going back for another crack at the SA 100km Track Championships in January which probably did set my Boston training back a bit.
So now I’m back from Boston and as always, I have to have a ‘next race’ to focus on.
For me, probably my ‘A’ race for the year (even including Boston) is the upcoming Adelaide 6 hour. This will be my 3rd time running the 6 hour (and hopefully my last, at least for a while).
In 2015 I went into it with no expectations, 6 days after running what was then a marathon PB at Gold Coast. I pulled up surprisingly well the day after Gold Coast so immediately went online and entered the 6 hour event. I exceeded my modest expectations (I was aiming for at least a marathon and hoping for 50km, but ended up getting just over 60km) and even got a surprise podium finish!
6 days after my BQ, I went back for another 6 hours and actually managed slightly further this time. And another 2nd place finish – although there was a bit of controversy surrounding that – I won’t go into that right now but suffice to say, I have ‘unfinished business’ with this event!
This year is a bit different. With no Gold Coast 6 days earlier, theoretically I should have fresher legs this time around. However, on the flipside, I won’t have the training mileage in my legs either. So this year I actually have to train specifically for the 6 hour!
The 6 hour takes place at the Uni Loop which most Adelaide runners would know well. So I figured, what better way to train than by running laps of the Loop? The loop is 2.2km so I’ll park my car on the side of the road, leave all my food and drinks in there, in the knowledge that I am never more than 2.2km from an ‘aid station’! That means I don’t have to run with a backpack which is quite liberating – plus on race day I won’t be using a backpack anyway.
Prior to Boston I used the Uni Loop for some of my long runs, partly to get the mileage in without needing to stop for traffic, but also thinking ahead to the 6 hour in July. Killing 2 birds with one stone, if you will.
Since returning, I have done one half marathon around the loop (as preparation for my Barossa pacing gig) and in the past 2 weeks I have done a 3 and a 4 hour run. I might try to squeeze in one more but I don’t want to overdo it!
I had entered a couple of events in June. Firstly there was the inaugural Yumigo! Cleland 50k ultramarathon which took place last Sunday. “My finger slipped” and I entered just before the earlybird cutoff. I had a birthday party to go to that afternoon but I was sure I could get it done, get home and showered and maybe just be an hour or so late for the party. Then I bumped into course designer Stephan on one of my pre-Boston Uni Loop training runs, and pretty much by the time we’d finished our run I’d decided to pull out – it would be a tough course, and it would probably take me a lot longer than I had anticipated!
Next weekend is the Trail Running SA Mt Misery trail race. I have managed to avoid Mt Misery so far – in 2015 it conveniently coincided with the City2Surf in Sydney, and last year I was only a few weeks out from Gold Coast so I volunteered instead of running.
This year I did enter Mt Misery (‘just’ the 16km) but after taking a few days to recover from one of my long Uni Loop training runs, I decided to be sensible and pull out of Mt Misery. Another fairly tough trail race – which is not really what I need when I’m really focused on a long, flat, ultramarathon. My morning will be better spent with one last loopy run.
Then comes the Tower Trail Run in Mount Gambier. I’ve entered the half marathon and I’ve seen the bling – it’s pretty sweet!
So I reckon, even though it’s another hilly run, I will probably still do that one. If I decide on the morning that it’s going to hamper my preparation for the 6 hour I will pull out, but I’m happy to just take it ‘easy’. Plus, it’s a good opportunity for a weekend away with friends so even if I do decide not to run, I will get a trip to Mount Gambier (and if I play my cards right, a little Coonawarra wine tasting action!)
So for once I’m actually being ‘sensible’ and being a bit more selective about the runs I do, rather than trying to do everything as usual!
Time will tell if it was the right decision!