Ups & downs - Clare Valley 2018 race report
Alternative title for this report could be 'doing it for the bling'. I was seven days post Five Peaks Ultra, this was never going to be pretty. Add to that playing a gig the night before, 8 hours on a hard floor, and a not much sleep. My fancy new Garmin decided to send me an alert a few days later recommending consistency in my sleep pattern.... thanks mate!
I rolled out of bed, groggily pulled on my clothes, dumped a few scoops of Torq powder in my drink bottle, and started filming a bit of a pre-race report on my GoPro. I then placed the camera on my kitchen bench and left without it. Kicking goals already. My partner, Rachel, and my mum were both running so we all piled in the car and made the trek to Clare via McDonalds for some sustenance.
We arrived with some time to spare and stopped by some toilets on the main street, we found out later that there were toilet issues at the start line (Quick plug for the app ToiletMap, it's saved me many times. There were two unused toilets across the road at the skate park). Grabbed our numbers and found our way to the start line.
The course was slightly different this year; instead of walking about 200m to the start line, things kicked off on the oval. Glad that this happened as numbers for the race had significantly risen since last year and the little bit of road at the start allowed people to find their place before hitting the main track for the race. I found my place in the middle of the pack, wished my buddies well, and kicked off in an uneventful way. Missing my headphones, and my GoPro... Fun!
The majority of the run takes place on the Riesling Trail, an almost-asphalt-but-not-quite bike track of compacted stone. One thing I knew from last year was the elevation. It’s so subtle you barely notice it, a little 1-2% gradient the whole way out. If you are not careful it can sneak up on you and really get you down. You will run slightly slower, you will hurt more. For me it was a trudge either way, sitting on a pace which would bring me in 10min slower than my PB.
Towards the middle of the run things really started to heat up, the sun was strong for this time of the morning. I was really glad I brought my drink bottle, and towards the end of the race I added a few extra cups of water. My nutrition plan for halfs is pretty simple - a stronger mix of tailwind/torq powder in my drink bottle, consume as needed, aim to finish the bottle about an hour in. I keep it really simple. For marathons, I do the same but add in gels. I'm also experimenting with some Cliff chews on longer runs. I don't like relying on aid stations for anything but water, I know they will have water and I want my nutrition to be consistent for every run I do. If you are struggling with gels, or with getting enough nutrition in, I can't recommend the drink bottle and powder combination highly enough.
My bottle of choice is a Camelback hand held, it just works for me. For any run up to and including a marathon, it is all I take. There's a pouch for gels, for a car key, and I can carry an hour of liquid fuel which is perfect for halfs. Prior to this combination I used to really struggle with getting my nutrition in; it's something I can use in training, on races, it's consistent and repeatable. I'm going on a nutrition tangent because my run was uneventful. I struggled, which is to be expected given the circumstances and timing of the race. But I ran well, consistent, and I got my bling. Coming in at a respectable 1:45 on the nose.
I bloody love the triple crown, it's a great concept, and I can't wait to stick my three medals together (yes they have magnets and go together!). Bring on Greenbelt!