Rail Trail Fun Run

I have a couple requirements for doing a race.  Actually, not really – I will race almost anything, anywhere! But my favourite races are generally ones that are fairly small, low key but well organised. And if friends are running it’s always a bonus. I’ve been running less fun runs this year, but some are a ‘must-do’ – like the Rail Trail. This run is on a stretch of rail trail from Lowood to Fernvale, or the reverse. The trail in its entirety is now 160km long, but the original section that they opened up was this 8km stretch between Fernvale and Lowood. Rail trails make for great running – wide, smooth trails that don’t climb too many large hills.

When I left home to drive out to the race on sunday it was a bit overcast, a bit drizzly. I figured that there was just some fog lifting and once I got out of Brisbane and into the country it would fine up. Spoiler: it didn’t. We had a big day planned. One of my friends is deep in the guts of marathon training at the moment, so she wanted to run 33km for the day (including the 8.3km race). Another friend offered to run with her, so I decided to come along for some of the ride. I wasn’t sure how my legs would handle 21km+ with a race sandwiched in the middle but I decided to find out. We headed out to run 5km pre-race, no drama. Weather was miserable (overcast and colder than Brisbane) but I still had hopes it would start to clear up.

My primary goal for the race was enjoyment. I’ve started reading Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel, and the message so far has been to enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re having fun, you’re going to run well. I like this idea, because at the end of the day running is a hobby and I shouldn’t be doing it if I don’t like it! I worked through a couple mantras during the race, like

This is fun! I am happy!

This is a beautiful place.

I believed that I could, so I did

It actually worked. For the first time in a long while I didn’t feel like a slowed down during a race (not that I have any data to support this). Because I was happy, or occasionally pretending to be happy, I was able to objectively monitor my legs and my breathing. I was working hard but I could manage it. A young kid passed me after around 5km and stayed in front of me for another km or so, then stopped and walked. Seeing that I was being all happy and stuff, I decided to call out some encouragement. He started running again not long after, and we ended up running side by side for a while. I tried to keep encouraging him a bit (thinking that if I say something positive to him I’d believe it myself), and he stayed with me until pretty close to the end. I thought he was going to out kick me, but I think he ran out of juice! Yes, I was happy to beat a kid. I finished in 37:09, which is a course PB for me (I’ve run this race twice before).

Fueling for a long run with a race in the middle of it was actually pretty straightforward. After our 5km warm up I ate a handful of sports beans, and then tucked the rest of the packet in my pocket. After the race I grabbed a bottle of water and an apple, then ate a few more sports beans. Easier than eating a gel on the run!

I was a little concerned about cooling down too much after the race. A typical winters day in Queensland is normally sunny and warm, but it got darker and cooler throughout the morning. Thankfully I had arm warmers with me to throw on after the race, and I ended up wearing them for the entire return trip. When we set off on our journey the 3 of us were likely the walking wounded – sore hamstrings, ITB, calf, you name it! We took the pace pretty easy and warmed up again soon enough. The time flew by – I always do long runs by myself, so having a bit of company was a really nice treat. I was amazed at how good I felt, until about 2km to go.  By then I just wanted it to be over. At least I could stop there, unlike my friends! I think they make me look a little bit less nuts in comparison 😉

It was a day of discovering new limits, not so much in distance but definitely in effort. I am stronger than I realise.

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