If you turn up worrying about how you’re going to perform, you’ve already lost. Train hard, turn up, run your best and the rest will take care of itself.

Usain Bolt

It’s the morning after the day before, and I’m thinking about preseason, yesterday’s race, and what’s to come in only a few short weeks.

I can look at yesterday in a number of ways. I can analyse pace, or how I climbed. I can consider the mental side of the day, where I hiked when I could have run, where I pushed a little too hard. I can look at the event itself, or my preseason as a whole.

I think the best way to consider the race is bits of each of those.

Firstly, the race as a race. My time for the 10.5k was (officially) 1:21:58, so under my ‘c’ goal time of 1:30:00, but a fair distance away from my stretch goal of 1:10:00 (for some reason, I had it in my head that I’d set a stretch goal of 1:15:00), and no chance of hitting my BFG of sub-60.

So the first question I need to answer is: could I have reached 1:10:00 or was the ‘stretch’ target closer to a BFG than an proper stretch goal?

I’ll answer the second part first – the stretch goal was a good stretch goal, and not at the ‘BFG’ level of thinking. A lot would have needed to go right to hit 1:10:00, but having now run the course and knowing the climbs and descents better, that mark is certainly achievable with training. So whilst yesterday I don’t think averaging 7min/km was a viable mark, that’s exactly what ‘stretch’ targets are there for – those perfect scenarios where everything is on the money.

If I look at my race, I could have run a few more sections where the climbing grade wasn’t too step, which would have saved a bunch of time and that’s where real gains can be made in trail running. Looking at the Strava data and predicted finish times at various times during the race, in the first half there were moments where I pushing a sub-60 predicted time – that in itself is a cool thing to consider and something to work on.

But a lot happened yesterday which meant that a perfect scenario was never going to play out.

I’ll just be blunt here – whilst I know that this was the first ‘Spartan Trail’ race in Australia, it was still the worst organised event I’ve ever run in.

The race program didn’t come out until 4 days before the race and it was completely bereft of any real relevant information – where to park, where race registration actually was, even what the course was (more on this below). I’ve mentioned before the lack of published course maps on the website,so I won’t go over old ground here, suffice to say things didn’t improve from the website experience.

When I arrived at race registration (essentially guessing what would make the most sense), I asked the ladies where the start line was for the 10k – they had no idea and ultimately just went along with what I was suggesting (based on the published course map for the race), and there were no actual race organising staff around as they were getting the half marathon runners away at the time.

What I found out later (literally by guessing based on where people were gathering) was that the course for the 10k was vastly different to the advertised 10k – so all the prep work I’d done creating a map that I could study, and my training run last weekend, were all for the wrong course. The course had varied by so much, that none of my prep was now relevant.

A minor point – there was no water station for the 10k past the 5.5k point. Not really an issue seeing I was carrying my own hydration anyway, but to have the two water points on the course done by half way was a bit odd – in essence though, it was the same water point just doubled up on. As I said, this really isn’t a big issue in a 10k race, but I found it a bit emblematic of the haphazard nature of the race organisation.

So despite all of this, to run well under my ‘c’ goal for the race is something that I should be happy about, for the most part.

And with that, preseason is done and we start to prepare for the first race of the season at the Jabulani Challenge half marathon on April 6. There is lots of lessons to take out of preseason, and a lot of work still to do, but I’m glad I’ve looked at my 2024 running calendar this way as it has brought a new focus to my running and made motivation a lot easier to come by.

My discipline still needs work, but there’s time.

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