Sunday, 19 February 2012

John Forrest Cross Country... plus a bit

Something fun and different... was the description for this race in my program this week. I have never ran off road or trails before. I've done nature hikes but all at a walking pace. With my poor eyesight and motor coordination, I get too worried of tripping, twisting an ankle, rolling down the hill etc.

So I was pretty nervous as to how this would turn out. In the morning, my legs still felt a bit like jelly from the long ride in the hills with the BYL group a.k.a. the epic Wusa hills ride. One good thing was the trails in Perth are pretty dry, compared to the muddy, yucky ones in Malaysia. Although, some might prefer the latter...

I met up with Shao, Sandy and Bill at Bilgoman Aquatic Centre, had a quick warm up and then walked across the Great Eastern Highway for our race start. The race director briefly explained the course and told us to follow the pink ribbons - basically, the onus is on us (no pun intended!) to run the right course! Here's the course map taken off the WA Marathon Club website.

From the start, Bill and Shao took off with the front pack. Myself and Sandy stayed in a group of our own just a bit further back. I was actually enjoying the run, though I made a mistake of wearing my Saucony Fastwitch racing flats. I could feel the pebbles and twigs poking through my feet. I wore our Louis Garneau BYL running singlet for the first time, which felt really comfortable and light - and it dries really quickly too. Going through the ascends and the descends of John Forrest National Park, I surprised myself more than anyone else at the pace I was going. Agility was never my strong point and there were moments when I was leading our group for quite a fair bit. Running up the boulders was quite an exhilarating experience.

It was just after then, around 2/3 into the course, I was a bit further ahead of our group and chasing a girl in red just a bit further in front. She soon disappeared into the horizon and I kept going, not knowing that I have taken the wrong route! I knew something was amiss, I was running alone and there were no more pink ribbons! But I decided to keep going, even if I have gone off course, at least find my way back to the finish. It wasn't long until I met up with Bill who was walking back from the opposite direction, he too took the wrong route. And very soon the group from behind caught up with us. So we all back tracked and finally found the intersection, where we took the wrong turn. We continued running... back on the right course this time! And we came to the infamous Faithful Hill. Boy, did it live up to its expectations! It just kept going up, and up, and up!

After that, we got onto the main road and it was about 2-3kms left to the finish. It was main road all the way until about 200m from the finish line. And then, guess what? We took the wrong turn again! Quickly back tracked and got onto the right one - myself, Bill and Sandy were all running together and each of us got into a sprint, finally finishing within seconds of each other.

According to Bill's Garmin, we did 17.6km - 5kms more than the race course. I had a time of 1 hour 22 minutes. Taking off that 5kms should give me a sub 1 hour race but I guess we'll never know... until next year. Although it was a pity not to have a true official time, it was still great fun. Hey, it's not everyday you get to finish a race with your coach right? Shao (the only one among us who ran the correct route) met up with us after that. And my post race nutrition was well taken care of - Bill brought lovely florentines baked by his wife, and Shao made these delicious chocolate tarts. Thanks guys!

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