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Cyborg scores about average!

19 April 2013

19 April 2013

Cyborg scores about average!

I was really hoping to go well in the Running Festival this year; I was hoping to go well in the Stromlo Running Festival as well. Unfortunately, a tear in my calf in January dashed those hopes - at least for Stromlo (I still tried, but had to pull out before even completing 5kms in the cross country!)

My running training was replaced by rehab. On the bright side, rehab was structured; it was planned. It was - dare I say it - almost a training program! Well, it was the closest I’d ever been to a running training program at any rate. Morning walks with the dogs began to include interval runs on a nice, flat oval and, in some instances, a bit of sprint work when Buddy spied something attractive on the other side of the oval (like a small person!)

So, it was with great trepidation, and somewhat low expectations, that I headed out for the Canberra Running Festival in 2013.

10km Dash

Route for the Canberra running festival 10km run
10km run course

The 10km event was the first one of the day; starting at 8:30 in the morning. I actually took time to warm up for this one, running around and limbering up a bit, during which I managed to pull my hamstring/glute a little tight. But it only hurt to the touch and stretch - not when I was jogging, so that seemed okay.

Having done this event a few times now, I was familiar with this course, and confident my calf would hold up given there were no real climbs (though there was a bit of undulation). It consisted of three and a bit laps of the Telopea Park course (as shown on the map). From the start, it was sort of downhill running over the timing mats - where I spied the familiar face of Tom from AROC - and onto Wentworth Avenue, then up Telopea Park and through the hub to start the full first lap.

It was a cool, crisp morning, which was ideal for my running, given I had seemed to be overheating a bit of late. More importantly, I had once more signed up for the dash, so there was a smaller field to contend with. Though, this time around the time limit was 60, rather than 50 minutes, which probably brought a few more punters (such as myself) into the field. In another difference to last year, I wasn’t dropped on the first corner; in fact, I managed to hang onto the pack throughout most of the run, even overtaking a few people.

And I was feeling surprisingly good on this first lap, so for some reason I elected to click my heels as I ran through, which resulted in me running a bit faster up hill. Not sure how that works, but it did, so I continued it throughout all the laps. Similarly, just past the water station there was an island with a traffic cone on it, which I took to jumping over in each lap - partly to break up the boredom, and partly to shake up my body and not get stuck into the routine.

It was downhill around New South Wales Crescent from the traffic cone back to Telopea Park, where it bottomed out and we ran until turning into Darling Street, taking the first right, and back onto Brisbane Avenue before finally reaching Wentworth Avenue and the final straight again.

It was only on the final lap, at around about the eight kilometre mark that I began to feel myself fade; it was then that I realised that what little training I had done had been in the region of 7km runs (three, to be precise...) so lasting until eight kilometres was pretty good going! Knowing I didn’t have far to go pushed me on though, and I didn’t have any trouble finishing (nor could I resist a final click of the heels as I jumped over the line!)

5km Fun Run

Route for the Canberra running festival 5km run
5km run course

With 10km under my belt for the day, the 5km didn’t seem very daunting at all. Little did I know that the biggest challenge of the day was yet to come!

Given I had hours between the end of the 10km and the start of the 5km (due to the 10km fun run being run in between them (hmm, I could probably squeeze that in next year) I decided to go home and have some food (okay, coffee) and rest before the 5km. But I made sure I left with plenty of time to make it back - aiming to be in the area around 11:00, which would give me a full hour before the start to find a park, check out the various stalls, and have a decent warm up after cooling down.

Runner jumping over the finish line.
Cyborg happy about finishing the 5km!

And it was lucky I did! I spent a good 30 minutes doing laps of the precinct trying to find a park; noting that the inspectors were out in full force (first I saw the telltale signs - yellow envelopes on windscreens, then I found them roaming the streets in a pack). It turns out there was also a game planned at Manuka Oval, which reduced available parking even more. I don’t actually know of any parking around this area, apart from side-street parking, so it’s probably a good idea to plan for that next year. In the end, I found a spot in a most unlikely place (which I’m not going to mention - parks are, after all, like hidden treasure, mention it once and it’s lost forever!)

So I had a very curtailed warm up, and a quick chat with Tom before heading back to the marshalling area for the 5km. This event didn’t have a dash version, so everyone was lined up for it. I thought I had placed myself into the forward to mid part of the pack for the start, but once the gun went off, I spent a lot of time ducking and weaving to find some clear space for my own pace.

But, once I did, I ran quite happily despite my stiffening legs, rolling around the course at a slightly slower pace than that of the morning, but only by a few seconds, and all in all, I was still (surprisingly) very comfortable; it was all over in a couple of songs, and I found myself back at the car, putting on compression gear and sticking ice on my legs for the drive home. Because that’s what you do.

Half Marathon

The half is interesting, and kind of fun. While the 5 and 10km events start somewhat crowded, the half starts absolutely jam-packed, though in the case of the half, this doesn’t seem like a bad thing. Maybe it was my place in the pack; maybe it was a pack of more “serious” runners - but I felt more as though I was being swept up in a current of human effort rather than being blocked by human bodies.

In no time at all we were off, around the corner and running along Wentworth Avenue which, even at this early hour, seemed to be lined with spectators cheering us on. Then it was around Bowen Place, and that familiar path to the Canberran jogger - the lakeside run - before turning up in front of the library, then taking on one of the only climbs of the day - a gradual gradient up to Parliament House. A quick lap of the Pollies’ Palace, and we were back down again - somehow I’d managed to catch Forrest Gump on the way.

The day was mild, with a slight breeze to cool everything off, making it fantastic running conditions. All the same, I don’t know if I could do a half marathon (at least, I hope he was doing the half, and not the full!) in a Forrest Gump costume (including the huge beard!)

Route for the Canberra running festival half marathon
Half marathon course

Along King Edward Terrace I ran past some of the happiest, most excited spectators I could imagine seeing! They were jumping up and down, waving placards - I think they were expending more energy than me! But it was a welcome treat, and I’m sure they perked up all the runners significantly.

Wentworth Avenue marked the closing kilometres of the first lap; with a water station before the turnaround at about nine kilometres into the race; so I slowed down and walked taking on my first cup of water (I really need to learn that running-drinking business!) and tried to speed up again. It’s funny how it can seem so hard to get some momentum up again; but with crowds looking, I couldn’t slack off.

So, before I knew it, I was running over the Kings Avenue Bridge, a slight incline, and familiar ground from last year’s event, and numerous Canberra Times Fun Runs, save that this course continued right up to Parkes Way, where we turned down and ran across clear, double-lane road (although, far less scenic than the rest of the course)!

Approaching Commonweath Park, I spied many runners heading off the road and down the hill; which reminded me of how I couldn’t be bothered waiting in what seemed to be a 21km queue for the toilets in the morning (and suddenly feeling my full bladder bouncing up and down with every step!) I headed down to reduce my handicap as well. It’s handy having some nice dunnies on the course like that!

When I rejoined the pack, I noticed a lady riding a mountain bike next to the road; I mentioned the fact that I could sit quite comfortably on the handlebars - but she wasn’t receptive to such suggestions. So I offered to pedal with her on the bars for a while... She reminded me of how good I would feel once I’d finished, and how she’d feel terrible at ruining my sense of achievement, and left me to my own devices. So, I swallowed a gel, and some water at the next drink station and continued running. After all, there was only about six kilometres to go - I’ve run six kilometres before; heaps of times!

Then it was under the footbridge over Parkes Way - where there were heaps of spectators lined up. I was really hoping there wouldn’t be a Bart Simpson up there, ready to spit on us runners; I didn’t have the energy anymore to dodge! But we ran under without event, then turned around a little further down the road.

While running over the Commonwealth Avenue bridge, just after the turnaround, some of the marathon runners began to pass me. And I don’t mind being passed. It was just that they seemed so fresh, and so happy - running nice and loose, while my legs were starting to stiffen up! And they were running at quite a pace too - passing me easily and heading off into the distance.

A gentle breeze cooled me as I crossed the bridge, and some water while running around Flynn Place helped with rehydration; however it didn’t help my stomach which, with the water and the gel, felt like it had a little ball of lead in there. But I only had about five kilometres to go, so I ran on. After all, I’d run five kilometres plenty of times - I’d just run a five kilometre race the day before - how hard could it be!

Back down King Edwards Terrace I ran, where those enthusiastic spectators were still bouncing and cheering. Bloody happy, cheerful, energetic kids... And my pace began to slow.

Bowen Drive and Wentworth Avenue passed by ever so slowly - my trusty Garmin was showing me over 6:00 kilometres - that was the slowest I’d been all weekend! Though, in my defence, I was up to about 35km for the weekend (not including dog-walks!) But it was a quick few kilometres - just a couple of songs, and I was back onto Telopea Park.

The final stretch is ever-so-slightly uphill. Though, with 20-odd kilometres in my legs, it felt very uphill! Yet, I managed to push on quite well, considering. Even better when, as I rounded the corner for the finish stretch, one of the many helpful volunteers out on the day let me know I was on target to come in under two hours! So I picked up my pace.

About 20 metres from the finish line I came into sight of the race clock, which read 1:59:54 and somehow that spurned me on for a sprint finish! And there was no need really; I had started a bit back in the pack, so my time would be shorter than the official race time. I had seconds to spare!

Race Stats

Date: 13-14 April 2012
Location: Canberra, ACT
Rating: Reasonable Adventure
TriHards: Cyborg and Doc Runaway
Event website: Australian Running Festival site
Event Time Place Gender Place Category Place
5km Fun Run 0:26:43 142/705 93/248 15/51
10km Dash 0:51:08 262/459 191/261 43/53
Half Marathon 1:58:33 982/1,797 628/882 168/224
Doc’s Half Marathon 2:10:58 1409/1,797 630/915 240/321


Our thanks go out to the organisers of the event, the fantastic army of volunteers who made it happen, and everyone who turned up on the day to cheer the runners on! It all made for a fantastic event with a very enjoyable atmosphere.