Gulf & Ranges Pichi Richi Marathon

 

ALMOST THE PERFECT RUN... ALMOST

I wish to dispel the growing rumours that my win at the Pichi Richi ½ marathon was a lucky bumbling hangover run rather than the strategic, well thought out & executed plan, under sub optimal conditions, that it was. Well sort of! below is what really happened, straight from the gooses mouth!

 
 
Firstly it was important to me go back & do the same run again as some sort of confirmation to myself. I completed the full marathon last year but in 2013 the Pichi Richi ½ was my first ever event run of any distance was with a time of 1:41. But the Mighty West Augusta Hawks were to celebrate there 100 years on that week end (Trouble was it was with 3 days over the week end). So it was also important to me to catch up with old & new footy mates & have a great time. So it was going to be challenging but not impossible with the correct plan.
 
On Saturday I only had a couple of cans at the footy in the arvo. But did consume some Coopers Stout at the club after until deja vu struck with Judy kicking us out at last drinks, just as she did on many occasions 20 years ago!
 
I am a True believer in muscle activation & warming up so we slow jogged home where it was decided to sample some red wine for recovery. It’s not unusual for top level athletes to fuel up in the wee am hours before an event. It works for them so it was decided to fuel up on a serve if bacon & eggs. It was nearing breakfast anyway. Then it was off to bed to hopefully get a sleep of longer than my 2013 race time.
 
Only 2 things could stop me from completing the run. Number one was not getting to the start line. So I organised the most dependable person on earth Brian Morgan to act as a second alarm clock, pick me up & drive me to the start which Dad did. The second was ‘gastro intestinal distress’ essentially squirting what you should be snapping & crapping your pants on the run! This can be a side effect of having such a non-traditional pre-race nutrition plan of stout, red wine & bacon.
 
If this was to happen on the run it would be highly embarrassing. So my bottom attire of black shorts & skins were chosen to colour match any minor leakage. Should a major eruption happen I planned 2 options, 1 if no one sees it happen jump on the next dead Roo on the road & say I slipped or 2 if it was witnessed simply run off the road into the hills & live the rest of my life in solitude living like Grizzly Adams on wattle seed & saltbush!
 
Thankfully this didn’t happen but i couldn’t believe how the run unfolded. I had the time of my life & got to use what I learnt from an audio book that I had listened to on many training sessions. My time was set from training, from my training data it theoretically projected a finish time in the low 1:30’s (4.18 m/k or 14km/hr) with a bit of a finish kick. The trouble with the Pichi half is it’s an overall climb where the start is lower than the finish & basically broken into 2 half’s.Tthe first being hills to the summit then the second is a gentle downhill slope & flats. Making an even pace throughout impossible.
 
So my plan was to hold 4.30 pace in the hills & around 4.15 hoping for a finish time in the low 1:30’s. At the start line I popped my earphones in with my ipod loaded with AC/DC & the Angels & we all headed off. I started out on my planned pace & was genuinely surprised to be in the lead after 1km. This was the first time I have known my position in a race let alone been in front. Most races have been staggered starts or I’m just not up there. But I've also learnt to ‘run my run’ as well. I've done a few runs where I've been behind people they have taken off at a pace I couldn't sustain but eventually passed them before the end. So I was determined to stick to my plan.
 
I will admit I did look over my shoulder to see where others were plus I also did stop & photo bomb a couple of starters taking a selfie at the 10km start line near the willows! Any way all went well in the hills to the summit achieving my planned pace & I started going by some of the 10km walkers. You’ve got music on but many things go through your head. This is where the Audio book came in.
 
In Chris 'Macca' McCormack’s (an Aussie) book there is a classic bit where he was considered to old & to big to win another world title. But he is in the lead in the final stages of the run in the 2010 Kona World Championship Ironman race but a much younger Andreas Raelert is running him down closing in fast. Instead of panicking he uses his experience slows down takes the pressure off lets Andreas catch him, ready to dig in for a war knowing his capabilities to make a last push at the end to out run Andreas. So this is what played out for me.
 
I still couldn’t recognise anyone behind me but I could now see a runner, then it clicked, ah Andreas! So I approx held my planned 4.15 pace with about 8ks to go I was still leading. Looking back again the runner (in my mind Andreas) behind me was closer & gaining. Any way I thought must be a 10km runner at that pace, regardless I was going to get caught so backed off a bit took the pressure off (hangover kicking in). I think with around 4km to my Andreas had caught up to me & shit Andreas turned out to be an Andrea! Thinking she must have been 10k runner but I needed confirmation so I could do a thorough situational analysis. I enquired along the line of ‘Hi great day for a run are you doing the 10 or 21K? Her reply was “21” ‘Ah shit this is gonna hurt’ was my first thought but I was prepared if I’m not gonna win I’m going down swinging & you’re gonna hurt as well. Now you always leave a little bit in the tank for the finish & I was getting ready to make my move just as Macca did. I know i can run sub 4 min km for a while, but for how long after 16km mostly in hills I calculated probably 3km so i was going to give it a shot, this was only about 1km away.
 
We ran side by side for a bit she picked up the pace a bit too probably 4.15 pace so I stayed with her. Then with just over 3kms to go I hit the boom button 3:50m/km (15.7km/hr) & I shit you not with all the sweat my ear plugs popped out & I had to sing ‘Why do I go to extremes’ by Billy Joel to myself. Luckily my body held out the lady that caught me was fantastic but I managed to just out run her winning by just over 10 seconds! My time was 1:31:56 bang on my predicted!
 
The whole Macca comparisons during the run seems silly but it kept my mind occupied I wasn’t thinking shit this hurts I drank too much the night before. All I was thinking is how good is this to be able to come out & run never did I really think I was going to give in & stop. Maccas approach to finding solutions to problems immediately gelled with me & that’s all I’ve done & had fun in the process. I actually had the opportunity to get a hard copy of his book signed by him earlier this year at the Tour Down Under. What’s next? Im not getting competitive but. A benchmark for me depending on the event is to be within 10% to 20% of the leader in my age group that means I could be only just behind the winner but still come 5th but be pleased with the effort. I’d also like to go back & repeat the events I did in 2013. But the big goal is to run under 4 hours in the run leg of the WA Ironman in December.

 

The disappointment of failure is bugger all, compared to the regret of not trying. I'm far more worried about not trying rather than failing. So for those who took the time to read this to the end. Yes my pre run preparation wasn’t perfect but never waste time waiting for the perfect time & have fun trying! And yes I couldn’t wait to get back to the club for some celebratory drinks & catch up with mates as the show was still going!

 
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