OooOooOOooo yeah. After discussing last time about my Pre-Season, it was time to put the body into first gear this past Sund’y. Kicking the season off with the same race I did last year, Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series Race # 3 Belair – Long Course 21km (That Is A Mouthful). This time last year I was easing back into running full stop. I won the race due mainly to the leader getting lost but felt kind of fit. This year, I’m easing back into running just for 2023 and pre-race, I felt a little fitter than 2022 and a lot more confident about my racing ability.
At times last year I was getting to races pretty stressed out, really wanting it all to just go well. When it did it was a relief. Until the next race when I’d start stressing out about the competition, the weather, the carb-loading, the taper etc. Whether it’s the confidence I have in my racing, or just in life at the moment, or whether I am closer to the stoic outlook towards the outdoor performance I dream of, it was different on Sund’y morning.
Sure, I’d done my research on the podium finishers of Race # 1 and #2 in this series (neither were TRSA regulars so I’d never raced against them). My training looked OK on paper too. But race day is a different feeling right? Nah not really actually. What have I got to worry about in this race? I’m getting to go out and just fang it ’round Belair for an hour and a half. If I win I win, if I ‘lose’ so what, I’ve still hopefully fanged it round Belair, my home amongst the gum trees (without any plum trees), with a purpose.
To show how relaxed it all was on Sunday morning for me is best described in the relaxing comfort of my what is now quite a normal routine on race day morning. 5am. Wake-up, couple of bits of honey on toast, one extra bit of bread with some peanut butter and a coffee. 5:20-6:10. Do some research and writing for The Blue Line. 6:10-6:40. Stretch at home, get dressed, get my after-run clothing sorted. 6:40-6:50. Nip up to Belair. Immediately bump into Port Willunga Brad and chat about life updates. 7:00. Grab my bib, warm-up with Brad, take a piss, final music adjustments, chat to Sonia from Snowys about running and Snowys stuff until two minutes to go. 7:30. Off and racing.
No time to stress, no time to over-analyse the race plan (run strong) or my goals (get uncomfortable, finish top three, prepare mentally as if it were the Robe Marathon in a month’s time). Just do it!
Into the first km Brett, TRSA regular, took the lead out through a few twists and turns at a good clip but then pulled up a bit when the trail spread out. I thought the pace he set was fast but good so I just stuck at it, simple as that. 500m or so later and I had already dropped the main pack. Well, seems like if I just keep running like this, this’ll go pretty smoothly for me.
So off I went, powering through some of my regular training routes, looking over my shoulder every now and then, enjoying life. The course wound it’s way up to the top of Belair in the first 10-11km and then wound down the other side. In my head, it was essentially a 10km effort up the hill, pushing hard while I had the energy and then a 10km float back down, using gravity to bring me home. With 7km’s in the bag, no sight of 2nd place it was time to dip into the music world to get some extra motivation. I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I didn’t get up to at least 4th gear in this race and without any direct competitors next to me, it was up to some absolute bangers to get me there.
Cue the following playlist.
X Gon Give It To Ya – DMX
Gimme Some Lovin – The Spencer Davis Group
Spirit In the Sky – Norman Greenbaum
One More Time (The Sunshine Song) – Groove Terminator
Hot For Teacher – Van Halen
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Eurythmics
Arnold – Luke Million
Pinball Wizard – The Who
Gangsta’s Paradise – Coolio
Ni**as in Paris – JAY-Z, Kanye West
Gonna Fly Now – Theme from ‘Rocky’ – Bill Conti
Mama Said Knock You Out – LL Cool J
Highway Star – Deep Purple
Black Betty – Spiderbait
Some highlights in that playlist were definitely hitting up the top of Queen’s Jubilee Drive (a very nice fire track/road, with a slight incline but very easy to run 4:00-4:30/km pace on) to Hot For Teacher. Rolling down a steep singletrack, with the sun casting a great shadow while Gonna Fly Now played was also up there. But the MVP song of the race was the second to last song as I dropped the final couple of km’s.
A very English style forest almost closes in on the trail for the last couple of km’s and then opens out again. As it closed in on and I realised I was going to win Highway Star by Deep Purple kicked in.
Fanging it on a slight downhill with the bush almost on top of you and then suddenly opening out to the wide expanses of some of Belair’s picnic grounds made me almost feel as if I was coming out of the player’s race onto the MCG. Dropping some sub 3:30min/km pace from here into the finish meant I had ticked all my goals for the race and got to enjoy doing so. As I came across the finish line Team Mum and Dad were there cheering which was great because I was slightly ahead of schedule! Not to worry though, can always trust Mum and Dad to be there. My time was 1:22 for the 21km, a little over 7 minutes in front of everyone else. Not too shabby.
Being slightly pleased with myself at my result is a good indication of how much of a little confidence booster this race was. At times in November/December of 2022 I didn’t know if I’d be able to get back to enjoying running as much as I did at times in 2022. Add one Belair race, some consistent training and some good summer livin’ and I’m feeling I’ll be up rock’n’rolling throughout 2023. I’ve still got a fair bit of work to do to get to the level I’ll be satisfied with for this year but at least I’ve put the first real deposit in the bank. Back to Quorn it is though for another month or so of training and watching tennis (and then the cricket in India!) after another successful trip to Adelaide in more ways than one.