So before I go and muddy the waters further, I thought I should see what I recall about last years Nosh Footrace prior to heading out again this year. From my Goals post, at this point last year, the farthest I had run was 6km and the longest I had run for would have been 45 minutes to an hour. I think there had also been a very slow 12km in there somewhere too. I had also been pretty sick in the lead up, still had a snuffly nose and a bit of a cough that wasn’t letting go. Not an ideal way to head into things.
The day dawned clear and sunny, which since it was at the end of May, it was absolutely freezing. Organising our own transport, we had dropped my car near the finish line the day before. The girls were dropped off to the in-laws early in the morning and we found a lucky car park right near the start point. We had a bit of time to kill, so kept our warm gear on while we checked in, got our race bibs and timing chips, lined up for the loo and had a last minute bite to eat.
Then it was time to ditch the jackets, attach the bibs and make our way back over. My first race, it was all about to start! There was a 10 minutes stroll from registration down to the actual start line. It had already started filling up when we got there, the fast runners up front in singlets and shorts (brrr!) and everyone else milling about sorting themselves roughly into one of the four start zones. We were at the back of the pack, apparently planning to take over two hours meant we were in the “walkers” category.
Then we were off. The start was crowded and slow as people jostled for position on the firetrail. A slow spread was starting to take place when we hit the single track climb – this was slow walking all the way, but for the most part everyone just stayed in line and plodded on through it until we started to spread out again as the trail levelled out and widened a little. From here it was very pretty trail through bush with small waterfalls off to the side and very little change in elevation. I struggled to maintain pace though, but it was still fun. Nick encouraged me to try and eat something (we had muesli bars with us), but I was finding it difficult. He had also brought along water, so at least we could drink as needed along the way, and I definitely needed more than just the two water stops available.
Through the first 5km and it was under the Roseville Bridge, scramble up some rocks to the clamour of cowbells to be pointed onward and over the bridge to our first checkpoint and water stop. Only six kilometres in and I was finding it pretty hard, still had some energy left but knowing that we still had the hardest part ahead of us wasn’t encouraging.
So we kept going and finally, we were on trail, no one else in sight, on a perfect autumn day. Just us. Then, at the 8km mark something magical happened. My nose and throat cleared, and for the first time all morning I could breathe properly. It was like a jolt of adrenaline and I started feeling like I might be able to do this. I was running freely, having fun. The trail was reasonably level, no huge ups or downs, and vaguely along the waterfront. A gorgeous part of Sydney.
Then a wrong step gave me a strong jolt of pain in my ankle. My dodgy ankle, the one I had recently hurt again while running, was not happy about this. It was around the same time we were hitting the uphill though, so slowing to a walk wasn’t such a bad thing. From there it felt like a bit of a slog. I had no energy left and I struggled. We made it up to open firetrail – beautiful, wide, open, rolling firetrail. And I walked, and I whinged, and I was sore. Some people caught up to and overtook us – including some speedy walkers.
Finally on to the second checkpoint. I didn’t want to move on. I chatted, and joked and drank some water and we eventually left – there was only three kilometres to go, after all!
Straight out of the checkpoint it was more hill. Then it was along behind some backyards and onto a couple of suburban streets – a brief stint back in civilization. Then back onto gorgeous, wide, flat firetrail again. I was getting some energy back and picked up into a slow trot again. Then my right achilles cramped. Badly. Pain all down the back of the ankle and along under my foot Walked a few steps, tried again. This time cramping both sides. Ridiculous, agonising cramps. More walking, possibly tears of frustration.
We walked a bit further, then tried a few more jogging steps. No cramps! The gradual downhill for the last couple of k’s toward the finish pepped me up and we kept moving at a slow jog. The finish came closer, I managed to pick up my pace a little and we even passed a couple of people!
Then around a corner, the finish line was only 50 metres away – and look! There was a person, just in front of us. Maybe if I really ran, I could get in front of him. I mean, he was walking the race and had passed us several kilometres back, but it didn’t matter to me at this point. So ten metres from the finish, I pushed. He saw me out of the corner of his eye, grinned and said “not bloody likely!” and we raced across the line. I pipped him to the post, but couldn’t get my timing chip ready as quickly, so ended up “finishing” later. It didn’t matter, that final stretch was fun – and probably the only part of the whole race we actually interacted with any of the other competitors.
The finish line photographer had already left. The presentations had been and gone. We weren’t last, but we were certainly amongst the final stragglers in a time of approximately two hours forty minutes for the 16km.
Overall, I guess it was a bit of an eye opener for me. I had hoped to finish with a faster time than we ended up with, but it was always going to be a stretch having never attempted anything like that sort of distance or elevation – I actively avoided hills if anything. After the event, I was happy to have finished. My legs and body were exhausted, but there were no specific niggles the next day and after a few days I was feeling pretty good again.