My last full marathon was The Convict 100 in May and after a bit of a break I decided I needed a bit more of a structured training program. I approached Anthony and Kyle from Pepper Coaching and come July, Kyle was set to coach me and the Pepper program had started. Without going into the detail the commitment means now the alarm is set for 4:30am most weekday mornings.
A few training phases later the Kowalski Classic was set to be my first full marathon where my training wasn’t hindered by sickness etc.
Wayne and I drive down Saturday where we meet the crew for dinner at a local Italian place, what now has become tradition the night before a race in Canberra.
Race morning we get to the start and set out for the warm up. I couldn’t believe the pain my hands were in as they were absolutely freezing. Thankfully it started to warm up so come the race start the temp had risen to about 5 degrees which seemed a bit more pleasant.
After race briefing they get us to line up in our start waves. I had put myself in wave 1 with the plan that the elites would take off leaving me with open track. Normally when waiting at the start, being a bit OCD, I like to check things a few times and get myself ready for the gun. This wasn’t to be, we line up and thinking there would be a few minutes all of a sudden it was 5,4,3,2,1 go. Not even seated or clipped in, I start the Garmin and quickly get going.
I like starting at the back of the elites because you don’t get the crazy sprint at the start which seems to happen in the age categories. We’re cruising along the first fireroad at a comfortable pace but I guess the biggest difference is when we hit the first climb the elites just hold the same pace. Half way up there was a clear gap forming and I was about 10 or so riders back in the second group. The plan was for clear track so I pushed and when we turned into the singletrack it was clear.
Most of the race from here was ridden by myself passing a few riders and being passed a couple of times so I’ll just put a few points of highs and lows.
- Having the legs for the first hill to get clear track and not blowing up
- Having Kyle shout out words of encouragement during the race. I have no idea of what part of the track it was but there were so many times you would see other riders through the bush and you would have no idea how far ahead or behind they were. Obviously he was ahead :-)
- Nailing sections of singletrack. I’m normally a brake/accelerate type rider but I seemed to find the flow yesterday.
- Having a quick 50km stop to take on more water. Using a camelbak over bottles you normally spend a lot more time refilling.
- Crossing the line and finding out I was currently 2nd in category. Due to the wave starts you need to wait for everyone to finish to get the net time which ended up seeing me in 3rd.
- Starting the second loop and having the worst feeling of a wrong turn as we ended up on the same track for a section as the first loop. I started cursing thinking I was doing the 50km loop again. I had a rider come the other way on single track. It turns out she was a 50ker who took a wrong turn and turned around after she realized she was doing the 90ker second loop.
- Getting to the top of the last climb, having worked my ass of for a 20 second lead over the riders behind me, only having to stop because I couldn’t work out which way to go. There were arrows going left but there was bunting covering the track. 50kers on the other side of the fence said riders were going right. By then the rider caught back up and then got me on the line. Lucky he was in masters.
My splits were 02:26:58 for the 50km loop and 02:01:18 for the second loop. I have my race nutrition sorted so the only stop was at the 50km for water.
Thanks to the Pepper crew for coaching me. I’m loving the structure of coaching but its more than just training programs you bring.
It’s been said before but the group of guys in SXC Racing are awesome. Thanks for all the encouragement and pushing me on the weekend training rides.
The next race for me is the Scott where SXC Racing have a couple of teams entered and then it’s the Highland Fling to finish the year.