Last week was the third race in the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series, at Te Rau Puriri Regional Park! I hadn’t been there before, so that was exciting in itself. Some googling had shown it to be an as-yet undeveloped park at the top of Muriwai Beach. A bit of a drive, but worth it, especially as the weather totally turned it on again (though fortunately not as hot as Labour Weekend and the previous race at Tawharanui).
After the second race I had decided to be much more careful about hydration and drank a lot more water in the days leading up to the run at Te Rau Puriri. In fact, I was managing about 3L of water a day for the three days leading up to it. I also used this as an opportunity to try another Camelbak accessory for the Circuit Hydration Vest I’ve been using – a quick stow flask! This was so I could take an electrolyte drink with me (I prefer to keep a source of fresh water with me on races as well, just for variety). All up I ended up with 500ml of electrolyte drink in the quick stow flask (kept in a front pocket on the vest), and approximately 1L of water in the hydration bladder. These and a couple of spare water bottles spent the night in the fridge to cool down, which worked particularly well.
Ended up getting to the regional park a little later than planned (one of these days I’ll learn to get petrol the day before!), but still with enough time to do the usual pre-race registration and sorting out of self and stuff. An early start to get there for the expedition race, but I was mostly awake. Our pre—race briefing was marked by a minute’s silence for Armistice day, and then we were down to the beach and off!
We started with about 2km along the beach (largely flat, largely firm-ish sand, lots of water puddles / surface water…) before heading inland along a grassy stretch to the first hill. I recently discovered an ability to do box jumps in cross training and I’m not sure if this helped (already!) or not, but the hill didn’t seem too bad. Either it was a nicer hill, or the legs have gotten stronger… Up and over that, into a valley (where there was hardly any breeze, so that was a bit painful), see the aid station then realise you’re actually no where near passing it (didn’t need anything, it’s just a mental marker on how far we’ve gone really), and then around undulating terrain until… We do actually get to the aid station! Back down a slope and… Deja vu! Back to that first hill. This time it was a bit more painful getting up to the top, with the bonus being the race photographer was hiding up there this time. Managed to run a few steps up the final slope by where he was waiting, but my legs decided to stage a protest at this point.
Took it easy going down the other side of the hill into the valley, which helped. Then it was back to pushing through the second loop to the aid station. This loop was heating up a lot more and the sun was pretty strong – turns out by this stage I’d probably sweated off all my sunscreen again. Kept pushing on, got to the aid station for the second time, then turned off to head back to the finish line. It was all pretty easy from here, in terms of terrain. I just had to make sure I watched my footing so I didn’t faceplant, then it was under some trees and across the finish line!
One thing I was doing more of – micro-goal setting. “I will run to that post then walk”, and “I will walk to that clump of grass then have a rest”. I used that to get up the hill (walk to a certain post before I could “pause to admire the view”) and to decide when to slow down the pace (I’ll run to a certain part of the bottom of the hill then try to power walk the rest). I’ve found that breaking down long races like this helps a lot (to any definition of ‘long’).
I’m absolutely stoked with how I managed in this race. The second race was a major learning experience with regards to dehydration (something I should know about and remember, but I have a tendency towards short termed memory for this apparently, probably because I prefer to run in colder environments), and I can definitely say the lessons learned were appropriately applied in this one. I felt good going into the race, I managed better with the weather and exposure, and I was able to keep up a good pace for the entire morning. My official time for the 20.5km run was 3:15:26, which I’m quite happy about. The thing that gets me is that I ran most of it with Brent Tucker (Kiwi Trail Snail!), and we were running at conversational pace the entire way. To me this means I possibly could have pushed myself harder, but probably would have resulted in a less consistent pace. I’m really happy with the energy / pace management over the course of the run. The food truck at the end was a nice bonus, too; celebratory pulled pork toastie, anyone? I figure I deserved that!
So I’m super happy with this! It’s boosted my confidence after the effort at Tawharanui, and I got to explore another regional park I’d never been to before! Good day all up.
Race Motivator for the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series