Friday, January 22, 2010

4. Tunstall Junction - Doncaster East

After taking my son to an event last night, it was back to the Northern series to compete for myself. So out to Doncaster East and a pretty similar course to the others with a few reserves dotted throughout the map. Sometimes you don’t realise just how many parks and reserves are situated in these residential areas until you have to run around them. They offer great short cuts, and they helped more tonight than in previous events.

My calves had pretty much recovered from last week so I was confident of performing better and was hoping not to make time costly mistakes with my route choices. The C-course tonight gave us the chance to visit 10 controls compared to the 12 we had last week. Like the Mill Park map, we also stared near one corner of the map so there were really only 2 direction to head from the beginning – south or west. Based on the blank map at the beginning, I’d already decided to head west from the start as I knew there would be options to come into the finish if I went in an anti-clockwise direction. This turned out to be true. At the first working out of my route, I could see 3 controls to finish with (#5, #9, #19).

My original plan was to get 7 – 12 – 10 – 16 – 14 – 5 – 17 – 15 – 9 – 19.  At the start there were quite a number of runners heading towards #7. It was the only logical control to start with by heading west. At #7, I decided to leave out #12 and head to #10 as it was a more direct route and I thought #8 would be a better replacement. Now, looking at the map, I probably should have stuck to my original plan as the detour to got 7 – 12 – 10 is much less than that for 16 – 8 – 14. The road from 8 – 14 was also a hard slog being completely uphill. After #17, I decided to finish with 20 – 15 – 9 instead of 15 – 9 – 19. #19 looked a bit out of the way, although it probably turns out that #20 was just as much.

After #9, I was determined to run the remainder of the way no matter what. I did and it was painful, but I recovered quickly at the finish. It took 45 minutes. The route was 5.85 km in the end which wasn’t much over the suggested distance for the C-course.

In hindsight, there were probably a couple of better routes to take, although I’m not going to work out the exact differences in distance. After #8, I could have headed over the freeway to 1 – 4 and then back on the north side of the freeway to 6 – 18, then just up the reserve to 14 – 5 – finish. This would’ve eliminated the meandering around the east side of the course to get 17 – 20 – 15 – 9. (I've just worked out, this would save about 400 metres) Another option would be to go directly from 14 –17 and leave #5 until the end after #9. (this works out to be the same distance)The third alternative might have been to head for 18 – 6 after #8 and get #5 at the end. This would leave out the 2 controls in the middle where there was no real direct route (#14, #17). (this saves only about 40 metres).

So I’m not too unhappy with my choice and there were definitely less runners at the finish before I arrived. It turns out I was the 4th of 11 to finish the C-course. Still about 6 minutes slower than the leader. A much better performance, although only a small handful competed in this course both last week and this which makes it a little difficult to compare. My right calf didn’t cause me pain at all during the run, while my left calf only started hurting about 1/3 of the way through. My body may well be getting used to the effort its putting in. I’m comfortable with the pace I’m running, while not trying to go out too hard from the start. It’s really helping me to continue running for most of the course, bar some uphill sections.

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