This is the eighth time the Run for the Kids event has been held; raising funds for the Royal Children's Hospital (another $2M this year); and I have been lucky enough to do seven of them. But this year was different. Not only had the course been changed (and lengthened) slightly to 15km, but I had a few of my cycling buddies - and some of their families - along for the run too. For Dave Weeks it would be his first ever race, having only taken up running a couple of months ago. For David Wilkinson - with wife Alison along too - it was a return to running after a marathon a couple of years back (he and I are currently in training for the Great Ocean Road Marathon in May - aargh!) And for Andrew Matthews it was also a return to running after many years of other stuff; this time with son Darcy running. 15k for all these guys was a big achievement. Very well done!
Race morning dawned beautiful temperature wise, though just a little windy, enough so that the Ironman race a little further south in Frankston had the swim cut in half. And I thought those guys were tough ;-) Thankfully it would only be a minor nuisance as we crossed Bolte Bridge, the high point of the course, where it would be directly in our faces for a couple of km's. Otherwise, no big deal.
Also for the first time I caught the train to the start. And wow, it was busier than peak hour during the week. Standing room only and lots of people left on the platforms who could not get in as we made our way into town. I think maybe next year I will be back on the bike!
The start for the 15k event was at 8.50am and about ten minutes before this time I made my way down to the marshalling area. With a little know-how and bravado I managed to find myself a great spot just five-people deep from the start line. No point running further than the allotted distance I say. And as I was to find out later, my friends who started in the Orange group spent the entire race dodging and weaving their way through crowds. So even though lots of people ran past me early on it was fairly good going and I could run unimpeded the whole way.
The most important thing for a longer race like this is not to go out too hard. It is so easy to get carried away with the momentum and excitement and find yourself swept along running a way-too-fast pace only to blow up spectacularly later on. So with a target average pace of 4.30min/km it is possible to say that my first km in 4.01min was a little quick! The second in 4.01min wasn't much better. (Ok, the entire first 5km in 21.00min flat probably wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done.) By this stage I was just trying to recover a little before the "small climb" up Bolte Bridge at about 6km.
My time up the Bolte was about 15sec slower than last year; and I felt every one of them. I found it hard going into the wind and with tired legs under me. I had not paced well and was paying for it. Last year I had paced really well and ran strongly over the bridge and through to the finish. That said, my split for 5-10km was 22.10min this year, only one second slower than last year, so perhaps it just felt a lot worse. At the top of Bolte I also suspended photo taking. I needed to save all my energy for running.
I ran comfortably along Docklands, wanting to save something for my nemesis - the small rise over the Collins St railway bridge. For some reason this little pinch has always troubled me. I guess when you are flat out and getting tired it doesn't take much and again today I really struggled over here. Still, it was a fast split through here averaging 4.17min/km over the bridge and along Spencer Street through to Southbank. The path narrows through here and so did my vision. I hardly recall this section, remembering only the busy Sunday morning crowds of people being very close to us.
The final kilometre was a real struggle. This is where the course had changed the most and it did my head in as I thought I was closer to home than it turned out to be. Add some solid fatigue into the mix and you have the recipe for a slower run to the finish rather than the "final kick" you try to muster. In any case, my time of 1:04.59hrs (ok, Strava thinks it is 1:05.00) was my best pace ever at this race. A very satisfying last 5km in 21.49min also meant an average overall of 4.20min/km, something I have not run for a distance run over 10km in more than a decade. Very happy :-)
Next stop: Puffing Billy, then the Great Ocean Road Marathon. Best I don't get too carried away!
Previous Run for the Kids blog posts:
2011 - "Doing it for the Kiddies"
2010 - Run for the Kids