Desert Oaks 17.3KM Trail Race Recap

Today was the culmination of the Desert Oaks Veterinarian Trail series. It debuted last year after the vision of Jamie Lines to share his passion for some of the Alice Springs trails. Fiona and I volunteered last year with an aid station blasting music for the short course (5KM) and long course (15KM) athletes. It was great to be out there and we would have loved to compete but held off since Ironman Cairns was only 2 weeks away and we didn’t want to crash and break something before our “A” race.

Fast forward one year and last week I was in Tucson, Arizona buying a house for Fiona and I, meeting my new work-mates, and climbing Mt Lemmon. I also did a 5K out there finishing 5/167 in 20:30. After the training weekend, I traveled 36 hours over 4 flights back to Alice and  was off for 3 days. Friday I got back into it with recovery 35min swim, recovery 75min trainer ride, and recovery 16min run w/ Sydney. The jet lag beat me up and my body felt like shit with water-retention and from all the shit food I ate in Tucson. So I missed Race 1 of 2.

I was one day off from the Peak Phase plan but didn’t force it to recover. So Saturday I did Brick 1. The 52min ride to the airport included 20min at IM Race Pace of 272NP and 138HR. It was obvious my body was still under stress and my legs felt yuck. I quickly transitioned to a Run Brick and ran 19KM in 91minutes. HR was in Z3 Tempo at 138avg and I ran a loop around Alice Springs. At 7:46/mile, I ran a bit too fast than expected IM Race Pace but stuck with it. An 80min 4.4km quality swim finished the day w/ a 1K TT in 16:26 and a pull/paddles in 16:11. I then did 8×100 on 2min of 1:33, 33, 33, 34, 35, 36, 36, 36.

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After a late night of drinking wine, dinner out, and a comedy show we were in bed around 11:30pm.

6AM wake up, English muffin & Red Bull. 10min before the race I had a full package of Clif Shot Bloks. We saw several of our mates and the 17.3km run long course runners started first. My goal was to stick to Ironman HR of 133-135… but it’s a race and that never happens.

Ben Bruce went out fast as usual and I was able to see him for several KM. I had someone right on my heals and I didn’t look back. I soon realized it was good mate Tim Seagler. I was running at Zone 4 threshold and it was quite enjoyable to have him right there. I can’t remember the last time I ran with someone like this; it could potentially be about 7 years. Fiona and I hold the same pace on pavement but I’m much faster on trails as she hasn’t nailed quick feet on technical grounds.

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The course was amazing with lots of up and down climbing nearly 250meters over the course. It was sunny and cool at times and half way through I heard Dingo’s howling nearby. I also saw 2 random dogs w/out an owner and several mountain bikers including my bike mechanic Shane, from Smith St Velo. I also saw one trail runner who missed out on the race. At one point I saw a 14yr old kid not far back and tried to maintain consistency. I ate a pack of Clif Shot Bloks over the course and had 4 glasses of water from the 2 aid stations. At the 8mile/13km mark, Tim passed me and then dropped me like I was standing still. He’s definitely a fast runner and later said that he was hanging onto me at a Z3 Tempo Effort while I was sustaining Z4 Threshold. Less than a minute later I heard someone behind get confused at the direction to go at a sign. All I could think was who the hell is that? I thought it was great runner Matt Grant and then when I realized it was Mark Russell who then over took me and looked amazing powering up the hills,.. all I could think was “What the f**k?” I then remembered how good a runner Mark is having gone sub 90min for the half marathon several times. I gave him shit at the end saying “What the hell happened at Ironman New Zealand?”. It is evident that with developing more bike strength, Mark will be able to take off at least 30minutes in the marathon of an Ironman. So, by now I was sitting in 4th and the legs had been feeling the fatigue from the half way mark. I kept thinking to stay vertical and stay focused. With 1KM to go I heard crowds and was thinking that a bunch of the 5km athletes must have been cheering in the long course athletes. But when I came up to the dry river bed of the Todd River, there must have been at least 200 young spectators. I’ve never experienced this in Alice and I had a big smile on my face and accelerated. I was wearing my compression socks and USA Flag socks and they said “I like your socks”. But they were cheering me in like a rock-star. It really felt like an Ironman and I realized, 2 weeks to go. I rounded the cones and finished with a happy time of 1:27:25. On HR 3BPM higher than the day prior I covered 22miles or 36km over the 2 days. I believe this will really help me with 14 days to go and accelerate by body adjustment to the taper.

Fiona and her sister Jennifer finished close to 30min later as they just took it easy and they got medals (Fi got 2nd) for both completing the trail series. But these two aren’t very competitive w/ each other so it’s pretty cool to see them just enjoy racing alongside each other and being out enjoying nature.

I wore compression shorts to avoid chaffing and a 15km Trail Shirt finisher’s shirt that I had completed back in 2009. That was my first trail run and I’ve come quite far since that run. Running out there today in the desert Outback will be the thing I miss most when we leave Australia in just 8 weeks.

So, a big Thank You to the ASRWC and Jamie Lines for his vision of the race and sharing his passion. I know what it’s like to RD a race and all that goes into it. It reminds me of the Hatt Rd Duathlon that I created several years ago. It doubled in size the next year but w/ out my support it evaporated. Club’s are founded off of the passion of it’s members. W/ out passion you have nothing. So thanks for bringing this course since it was great, will help me with Ironman Cairns, and pushed me. As always, thanks to the volunteers and sponsors as well! Big thanks to Tim for keeping me honest out there. Lastly, please keep this course. I believe it is the most legit, honest course that exists in Alice Springs.

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