26 May 2014
The Cyborg Doth Protest Too Much
For years now the Cyborg has been telling us he is not a runner - despite having completed several Canberra Times Fun Runs and attending multiple running festivals. And he doesn’t just turn up to these festivals to wander around the various marquees and look at the sponsors’ wares, he enters several events-all the events that he can do in fact. Somebody really should tell him that a running festival isn’t a buffet.
So, when the Australian Running Festival announced they had a different hub, and brand new courses for all of their events, we knew exactly who to send along. No, not Flying McFly, who completed the North Face 100 in just over 12 hours. No, we sent the Cyborg. Who is definitely not a runner. Not even close.
This is, of course, to our advantage. You see, sending the slower Cyborg means he has more time to take in the course, and the field. So we should get a better overall picture of the race. In theory anyway.
10 km Run
I was kind of excited about the 10km run. Of the three events that I had entered, I felt most comfortable about this one - after all, I had been more or less training for it (though, I never actually did a 10km training run - instead I used my 7km running commute to work as a training run). It was also the first run of the festival, so I was coming into it fresh.
And this was the first run on the new course. In previous years, the 10km had been three and a bit laps of Telopea Park (or so), which tended to get a bit boring; but now it was a single, quite scenic loop. What’s more, there wasn’t much in the way of climbing involved - not that there was much at Telopea Park.
After a quick (and by that, I mean nowhere near long enough!) warm up, I headed into the starting corral with many other runners. I had placed myself in the punters section - well behind all the lycra, and closer to the costumes.
The run started on time at 7 and, as with so many of these events, the competitors shuffled along - by the time I reached the start line I was almost jogging. But with the course running around West Block (of old Parliament House), then taking on the slight incline up to the front of New Parliament House the pack soon began to spread out, giving everyone room to find their own way.
The course didn’t go around Parliament House, just up to the front - which still provided some nice views - before heading back down past old Parliament House, and down Langton Crescent to the lake. But we weren’t taking the scenic walking path, the whole course was on closed roads.
Then it was under the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, and along Flynn Place on the other side; with some of the nicer lakeside views making an appearance again. There is something easing in having a nice view while running; it takes my mind off the plod, and helps me just sort of drift along.
And before I knew it, we were approaching the yacht club. I knew this section well from riding around the lake, and for some reason today the climb just seemed a little bit longer, and a little bit steeper. Runners were beginning to drop off, but I took heart that we were now at the halfway point.
A little after the halfway point, the race leaders began to come into sight running the other way. This meant I was in the top half of the field! They were running fast, and comfortable, bouncing down the road; while I watched, amazed, while wondering where my bounce was.
But the turnaround came soon enough, and for some reason - even though it was only just over half way - I just felt as though all the hard work had been done. The return trip does always seem faster and easier than the trip out, after all. So, it was back down the road - on the lake side this time, which not only meant nicer views, but more chance of a cool breeze blowing in, then back down Flynn Place, before turning onto Langton Crescent.
Now the course took us straight through the intersection of Langton Crescent and King Edward Terrace, at which there are lights. Lights which turned red as I approached. And I actually started to slow down for them! Fortunately, I was not completely fooled, and picked up my pace once more to run the last kilometre to the finish.
Unfortunately, because I wore both the 5 and 10km bibs during the 10km race, my time was not recorded. It seems the sensors may have been a bit confused by the mixed signals!
The 5km run was an entirely different beast to the 10km, I found myself sharing the starting corral with fairies and super boys - though I tend to wonder if it’d be considered cheating should SuperBoy wind up helping his father through the race! And while the morning was warming up, it was still quite comfortable for a run.
The five started along the lake, which was (again) nice and scenic. It was along this section, while the pack was sorting itself out, that I found my nemesis for this race, running just ahead of me in the same high performance shirt as me, save that his was red (which explains why he was ahead of me).
We reached the turnaround point in short order, and nothing ill-fated had yet befallen the red shirt, so I continued to chase back towards the hub. In an interesting twist on such a race, I noted that there were far more people still coming down the road towards the turnaround than were ahead of me. Could it be that I was moving into the top half of the field?
Red shirt started to pull away as we climbed up to Parliament House. I increased my cadence to try to catch up, to no avail. Fortunately, I was faster on the downhill, and managed not only to catch up, but overtake, with only a few hundred metres to go! But my victory was short lived as he caught, and overtook me once more on the home stretch! I watched as he pulled away once more, running under the finish arch, and right into the arms of his mother.
Yes, I was beaten by a 10yo boy. But I’m pretty sure I beat the 7yo girl in the fairy outfit, so it all kind of evens out really.
Sunday morning arrived, and that meant the half-marathon - which was really just the same as I had done yesterday, with an extra 5km run thrown in - and the 5km wasn’t that hard, so really, how much harder could the whole lot be?
But the dogs weren’t so sure, so they made me take them for a walk first. Noting that I did not have a bad case of jelly-legs they let me return to the running festival for my last event.
And the day was turning out to be beautiful; clear skies, with a slight breeze and the sun just starting to shine through as I arrived at the hub; which was growing more and more crowded with each passing moment. I found a free area and started a little warm up in a vain attempt to loosen up my tightening legs, before heading up to the start corral.
The corrals were organised with pace runners who had big flags indicating their finishing times, which was handy, so I moved into the 120 minute corral, and continued my warm up, which looked absolutely nothing like this.
Shortly thereafter we were off and racing, well, off and jogging across the front of Old Parliament House. That actually worked well for me, as it ensured I had a nice, slow pace to warm up with. The course wound up around Parliament House, doing the full block, before heading back down towards Old Parliament House again. It was about this time that I finally started to feel a bit warmed up, and settled into a comfortable pace.
The next part of the course covered a similar path to the half marathon course of the year before - back up to Telopea Park - which marked the 8km mark of the race. It was as I was running back down that I noticed the 120minute pace marker coming up the other way - which meant he was behind me! That spurred me on, as I moved from warmed-up to heating up, and continued back to and across the King’s Avenue Bridge.
In a variation on last year’s course, we turned east, along Parkes Way before returning west again - looping on ourselves. I kept an eye out for Mr 120minute and noted he was still a way behind. The Parkes Way section of the course went for about 7.5km, but felt like forever! Some sections, particularly next to Kings Park provided for some nice views out across the lake, but once we’d passed the Adelaide Avenue bridge it became quite boring.
It was about this time that I stopped counting the number of kilometres I’d done, or the kilometres I had yet to do, and started cataloguing my pain. It’s amazing how clearly you can focus on little things; I thought there was a blister forming on my little toe, then there was some niggling in my left knee. And what was that pain in my right abdomen? All these, and more, were added to the list, as I watched the runners around me, most of whom looked far more comfortable.
This process was broken at the turnaround point, when I saw Mr 120 had closed some of the gap between us. I attempted to step up my pace, I was on the return journey now - with less than five kilometres to go! I had done that yesterday, it was easy! Surely I could do it again!
So it was across Adelaide Avenue Bridge, to loop around for the last (and hardest) kilometre to the finish. King Edward Terrace was lined with spectators cheering everyone on, but by this stage I had absolutely nothing left! I turned the corner, and couldn’t even manage a little sprint for the hundred metres or so to the end!
But I did finish; and I finished before 120 minute man (and actually under two hours, which was my goal - and I beat last year’s time, which was also nice). And I could still walk, which was amazing. But I had real trouble with stairs - not so much going up, but coming down, which was an issue as the toilets at the hubs were toilet trailers, which mean we had to climb stairs to get to them...
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.