Race Report: 2014 Canberra Running Festival

This was my third year participating in the Canberra Running Festival. The first year I was pregnant, ran 5km (I think I even walked some of it) and didn’t run again until after Emma was born. Last year I entered the 10km, trained my butt off beforehand doing the Michelle Bridges 12WBT program, and did a PB of 1 hour 2 minutes. Given how much I’d prepared, I declared that was probably my peak and I’d never do better than that time. I do not have the natural ability. I do not have the motivation. I do not have the time. I was comfortable with the idea that I would never run 10km in less than 60 minutes.

And thank goodness for that, because I was woefully unprepared for my second 10km at the Festival.

April snuck up on me this year. I registered for the run with less than a week to go. Two weeks before that, I’d realised I had not run 10km since November. I’d been in what my dad called lazy maintenance mode – an easy 5km run, once a week or once a fortnight. I’d only done one fun run all year and it was the 5km Colour Run back in February. So I went out one afternoon to do 10km, got lost around Red Hill, went over Red Hill instead, walked for that bit, and got home an hour 20 minutes after I’d left. Toby was just about to send out the search party.

The next weekend I didn’t get a chance to go for a run, and the weekend after that was the event itself. I managed to fit in an easy 5km a few days beforehand, but otherwise I was woefully unprepared. The weather forecast was 10 degrees and raining. The start time had moved from a very respectable mid-morning to 7am. Despite all these negative signs, I was looking forward to it. I’d be ably accompanied by speedy Jude, who’d been religiously following the Lazy Runner 10km program. It was becoming a tradition for us to do this race together.

Photo: Yay lets run

Super excited at the start line!

But then…oh the pain. Here are the problems I encountered.

I hadn’t trained. Duh. At every single distance point, I was disappointed. ‘Only 3km?’ ‘Only 7km?’ The only flag that did not make me want to stab myself was the last – 9km. ‘I can totally do one more k.’

I overdressed, expecting higher winds at the lake. 30 seconds before the start time, I suddenly realised I didn’t need my extra layer. But my number was pinned to it with 4 safety pins – no time to strip down.

I bought new songs for my running playlist, but didn’t go through the playlist itself. There were songs in there that shouldn’t have been, plus a few odd remixes. I think I heard Bastille’s Pompeii three times in different tempos. ‘Shuffle’ is not random.

Photo: Amazing daughters who like running. We cheered them over the line at the end of 10 kms. The mystery of genetics!!

Jude looking refreshed and relaxed, because she prepared. Me looking shit-faced, because I didn’t. Lesson learned.

The course had changed this year for the 10km. Instead of three laps around Telopea High School you went up along the front of Parliament House, then down along the lake for a bit, then back up in front of Old Parliament House. The parts around the lake were a bit hilly and I stopped at the 7km mark for a drink, which I don’t usually do, but as feared my overdressing meant I overheated a bit. The last kilometre was all flat or downhill, which was an improvement on the uphill at Telopea. And the final stretch was the tree-lined walkway between the Finance and Treasury buildings in front of OPH. During the week this is crowded with suits walking from one building to another, but on race day it was lined with cheering people and was an awesome way to finish.

I was very, very happy to cross the finish line. My official time of 1 hour 5 minutes wasn’t as shocking as I was expecting, only a few minutes longer than last year and considering the additional pain this year, that was a pleasant surprise. I had a cheer squad of Mum and Dad and Dave and Jude, whose preparation paid off when she shaved a minute off her time from last year. Cheer squads are the best. Jude and I went home for showers and then met up again for breakfast and a debrief. It’s very important to re-fuel.

My next run will be the Mother’s Day Classic in a few weeks, but I have intelligently agreed to be on a friend’s 5km team. And after that, I will surely have to sign up for the next Bush Marathon. For which I will train. At least twice.

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