Note to self (1) : there are always steep sections when running near rivers.
Note to self (2) : get better at running uphill.
The hilliest course this month was set around the area north-east of Essendon Airport and around the Merri creek. And once again the temperature was in the low-20s.
I like to look at the blank map before hand to get my bearings. For some reason, I found it very difficult this week to align myself as I planned to set off running along the creek. This event was a Score event rather than the previous Scatter courses. Like the first event in Darebin Parklands, we had a set time limit (in the case of the C-course, 45 minutes) to take, while completing as many controls as we could, the higher numbered controls being worth more points.
At the start, I mapped out a suitable route comprising the southern section of the course. After seeing a good number of higher numbered controls in this section, I decided to ignore the northern section and not waste time looking for better routes there. As it is, it was probably the right decision, also considering the limited number of crossing places (4) across the creek. After seeing the control locations, I decided against running along the creek and instead take in #13 & #17 as they were high scorers. The main problem with this route is that it meant having a 100 metres section of steps at a very steep incline right at the beginning. This slowed me down to start with as my lungs were burning as I headed towards #13. Despite being relatively flat after the steps, I still needed to walk some distance to recover. After a little difficulty in locating #17 at the end of the court, I headed down towards #6 and to cross the creek again.
As I saw other runners heading in the opposite direction, I probably should have cut through the oval towards #15, rather than around it. In this case, it would have saved some of the steep climbing as I approached the control and also having to pass through a section of thick grass. I found a narrow path heading out of the reserve then meant I didn’t have to get down to the driveway and back up, then headed to the southern boundary to collect 4 – 18 – 5 – 14. By now, I think there was about 10 minutes remaining and I had to decide what to finish with. I discounted #1 which was in a closed section of the course and, of course, worth little points. I thought I may be cutting it fine getting both #9 & #12, but decided to try both anyway. After #9, I thought I’d probably just miss the deadline if I headed to #12 as well. Given it was worth 4 points and I’d get a penalty of 3 points for every minute after the deadline, I thought it was worth it. It was a little tricky to find, hidden under some small bushes, but there were a couple of other runners coming from the opposite direction who managed to locate it before I had to search too hard. And with the final sprint back to the finish, I was late by probably about 30 seconds.
There were parts of the course that cost me those few seconds – not immediately locating #17 and #12 for instance, and a shoe lace malfunction heading in to #6, and not cutting across the oval towards #15. These things are manageable though as I get more experienced.
In the end I finished 4th in terms of control points gained, and even with the 3 point penalty, did not lose any positions. I was pleased with the run overall. I do need to get better at managing uphill sections, but the route I chose was a pretty good one for the conditions. It also puts me in equal first place for the C-course, although only 2 others have competed every week. After I complete 6 events, others will catch up as only the 6 best scores count for each person.
Tonight, I ran 6.4km at a speed of 8.5km/h. An alternative course could have seen me heading out towards 12 – 16 – 7 – 11 before continuing from #13. This would eliminate the steps at the beginning, while mostly travelling along the slope. That would require finishing with #5 and leaving out #9 and possibly #4 & #14 as well. It would’ve generated a couple of extra points (more so, if I didn’t have to leave out some controls along the southern boundary). (Without leaving out #4 & #14, this course is about 300 metres longer.)
An easier course would also have seen me take in 3 – 10 – 8 along the north-west boundary, but that would mean missing out on more controls later on, and these controls were worth fewer points.
Next week is on 'home' turf as the area around the council offices/library and Apollo Parkways in Greensborough is one I'm familiar with.