Sunday, March 22, 2015

Race Report: Twilight running series

Twilight Running Series! Now THIS is a fun run I won't forget!

Twilight Run at St Lucia has been a run I've had my eyes set on in the lead up to Gold Coast Half. Really trying to get that balance between solid training, and race experience going.

It was a good solid lead up. The plan by #coachrell had been excellent at keeping me focussed, and despite needing to shuffle it a lot - I had stuck to it solidly. I had come to accept a lot of slow runs - I just wasn't getting the speed increases I wanted and after several 10k runs in the 1hr20 vincinity I had set my eyes on a dream goal of 1hr 15 for twilight.

The week before race week my legs felt tired. Rell kept telling me the plan would give me speedy legs Sunday ... can't say I was too convinced but what do you do! Can't force speed from a tortoise!

Race day was set for 4pm for Miss E (running the 5k) and 5pm for me. Earlier rains had made the day hot and humid. It was sticky and awful. I was NOT looking forward to the run.

What I did enjoy was the social. Catching up with our five30runners was fantastic! Being with friends gives a new energy to fun runs I never had when I first started running. I love how we can share the excitment before had ... and then go on and run our own races at the start.

E and I had plenty of time to check things out first ... and then she was the first to start!

Big thanks to local parkrunner Sandi who took E to the 5k start line and made sure she didn't get squashed! I love how my running family looks after my girl!

I was a bit worried about how she would perform. It was SO hot out there. But she was off - and let's face it - she is too fast for me - nothing I can do about it once she is gone!

And then - we saw her coming down the straight. She was running easy - and it made me laugh when my friend told me she could see her - she was the one checking her garmin!

She told me afterwards she loved it. Her favourite thing was the people singing at the water station! Funny thing is - it was mine too. She finished in 25:49. 13th in her age category (which was under 14! She is 9!)

Then it was our turn. It was so hard to get your head into race mode at that time of the day. It just felt like a big social catch up!

And how good was it to go to the start line with friends! five30runners family !

This is our last picture dry. At the start line. Seconds before the rains came in.

And when I say rain I mean pouring downpour.

 To start with it was awesome. The heat broke and the rain was gentle. And then it got harder. And harder. And we realised we were going to get VERY wet. Soaked before the start gun went. Absolutely drenched. So what was there to do - but run?

The first k was awesome. I was running strong. It felt good. My body which had been niggling for days was behaving and I was making very good pace. I did pretty well at not getting too caught up in the crowd. Although it was a fast pace km for me - it was one I knew I could do and wasn't ridiculously speedy. It was more about finding legs in the rain (and funnily enough - me trying to keep my feet dry! Really! What a joke!)

The first couple of k's of the race were just run. Running in the rain. Avoiding puddles. And embracing the atmosphere. The water stops were incredible and really added to the fun. (not that I stopped for water - there was enough falling on my head!) There were a couple of little hills but they felt strong. All those bloody hills in Warwick are paying off I think. It would have been a very pretty route (if you could see past the rain!) but really - the weather meant scenic was not happening that day.

Km 3 was one of my slower splits. The reason was really that I kept getting caught behind groups of runners and prams. It took a little bit to get past them and get my momentum. I do think that slower k helped me still have energy later in the race.

By now - after crossing the main bridge - the rain was bucketing. Water on the path/road became a real hazard. There were rain made waterfalls in several places. Water was often above my ankles for long stretched and at times mid shin. There was no way to avoid it - some puddles were 5m long. You just had to embrace it.

Getting close to the turnaround point was awesome. Seeing my friends and getting to shout encouragement was great! And I got to high 5 Sonja which was awesome! It did of course leave me wondering HOW MUCH FURTHER to turnaround!

At 5k there was a timing mat and I reckon I hit it very close to 35/36min. It made me realise how strong I was running. It was just past the turnaround point I heard the first rumours that the race was cancelled and that there was a bigger storm coming. Not the news you wanted to hear - especially after hearing a fair bit of thunder on the course. A few people slowed to a walk then. I figured that I could NOT get any wetter, and quite frankly there was no other way home so I better keep going and try to keep it strong. I did NOT want to be stuck out there. So back it was. Through the puddles. Or lakes. Creeks? On we went. I heard someone saying "I better still get a medal". All I could think was "I better still get my hot cross bun!" as these were promised in the recovery area.

I really can't believe how strong I kept going. Around 8k I realised I had a hope of smashing my 1:15:00 and that really kept me going. That and the thought of getting my family and friends out of the storm!

Towards the end it was dark. And wet. And slippery. And then I heard the best sound ever. The first water stop (which had men playing "drums" on plastic bins as we ran past) were drumming in the distance. And singing in beautiful harmonies. It was magic. They sang us past and it brought tears to my eyes.  They sang and smiled and cheered us home.

I LOVE the names on the bibs too - Go KATHARINE. You can do it - I heard my name over and over. The volunteers rocked.! With about 500m to go - I could hear the crowds cheering and see the lights. I pushed home as hard as I could I wanted done.

And then I saw the finish line. And Sonja and Linda right there under it waiting for me!

Best ever! Done in 1:11:37. Goal smashed!

Then the funniest bit of the night. Sonja's husband PP trying to gather us up - like herding kittens he said. The whole stadium was being evacuated and he wanted us out of there! Hot cross buns were collected, and he got us away to an underground carpark where our family and friends were waiting.

Most crazy fun run ever done.

(almost as crazy - I ended up piggybacking a stranger back to the car. She was barefoot in a prickle patch. Guess that post race adrenalin was still pumping.)

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