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My First ‘Post-Lockdown” Race Experience

The Two Bays Trail Run has been on my goal list for years but for a variety of reasons, one being the time of year it is on, it hasn’t happened for me. After coaching one of my girls to complete the 28km event 2020, it was firmly on my radar as my first event for 2021… then COVID struck!

Pre-Race Prep

When entries opened, COVID limitations meant that there were only 500 spots available. I was too slow off the mark so missed out. They were gone in eight minutes! When 150 entries for a ‘first time ever’ reverse 28k were announced, by pure chance I was home, ready and got that entry in. Yes, finally! Then I did the math. Shit! Five weeks until race day and at the time I was feeling the most exhausted I had in many years after a mammoth house rebuild project and move. Training had been far from consistent. Oh well... I had entered now!

It might have been a short and far from ideal prep, but I wasn’t heading there to stand on top of the podium, I just wanted to be part of an actual event! My first in almost a year. Besides, I’m a Mum to a toddler, so I gave up on perfect race prep around 2.5 years ago!

Every Melburnian knows what a crazy time 2020 was, how much we have faced and of course how much it has affected people in different ways. At the start line I had my first realization of how much I was used to being in my bubble. Through the pandemic I was able to leave home to work three days a week (emergency services), but as the excited runners lined up for the portaloo’s, I was incredibly aware of all the strangers around me and how many there suddenly were.

The Race

It was an interesting feeling, to feel ‘crowded’ and it stayed with me for a good 15k’s into the run. As groups surrounded me during the run I felt dwarfed, closed in and without consciously realizing I was dropping back to find my own space. Not that I was afraid for my health, just that I wasn't used to all these people! We were on single track a lot of the time and of course it couldn’t be helped, it was just the post lockdown state of hyper-awareness that I was in. When I managed to find my own space and pace, I was able to relax into the run and gradually found my old ability to block out those around me.

Two Bays is 100% my type of run. It was undulating at first and then bloody steep in the final few k’s. That final section was broken into 1.2km of steep uphill (at 22km/h walking pace) and then 2km sharp downhill to the finish line. I love running down hills and feel like I’m stable and full of momentum, however I still feel slow on the uphills. With such a short training block and far from ample hill work in my legs, I really noticed how much my pace slowed. While it was tough, I loved it and with each ‘false hilltop,’ the bigger my smile became. It was a mental battle and it felt great to be back pushing myself mentally and physically in an organized event. The terrain offered everything too; dirt track from Cape Schanck, railway line rocks in patches, a cheeky uphill sand dune to climb, boardwalk, single trail lined with tree roots and bitumen road to finish. I’d made a last minute switch to a new pair of Hoka trail runners and I was glad I did. They gave me all I needed and the blood blister on my right foot was worth the stability and faith I had in them.

I flew down the final hill that comes off Arthurs Seat, powering to the finish, determined to come in under 3 hours. My estimate, with zero information to go on given it was the first time a reverse 28 had been run, was just under 2 hours 50 mins. My family were set up around 30 metres from the finish line and as I ran towards them my 2 year old launched herself into my arms. At my last marathon back in November 2019 I carried her over the finish line. A rookie error with over 100m to go! This time she ran beside me, arms raised and a grin on her face to match mine! She gratefully accepted ‘her’ medal, asked where Mummy’s was and helped herself to a banana. There is no doubt she is destined to follow in her parents footsteps!

Will I be Back?

I will 100% be back!! I look forward to comparing this new course to the original Dromana to Cape Schank direction, but I wouldn’t hesitate to do this newer course again. I’ll be doing far more hill training for next year though and at least a couple of on course reccy’s!

When a medal comes with a bottle opener, who am I to say no to entering in 2022?!


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