When you have what appear initially as completely unachievable goals, you have to break them down into manageable chunks – any book, coach, sensible friend or counsellor will tell you that. So my goal isn’t just to complete the Six Inch marathon, it’s actually a lot more detailed than that.
Over time thoughts have spun through my head and made each chunk of my goal ever smaller. I started off with a list of 3 goals that went: To finish; to finish within the time limit, and then to finish with a better time than Jeremy and Vince’s time last year. That simple list of three goals has since been extended somewhat.
So, my goals are, in order:
1) To wake up in time for the race
It’s a daft thought, but the race does start at 4:30am. We have to be at the volunteer fire brigade hall for registration at 4am, the briefing is at 4:20am. Waking up in time will be slightly easier because there will be two other participants in the house who will have to be up at stupid o’clock as well.
2) To make it to Aid station 1
Aid 1 is roughly halfway, at the 23km mark. It will be the furthest I’ve run in a race setting, and I know that I can do it. Also, if despite all the training and planning it all goes pear shaped, off the top of my head I can think of two different points (about 8km in and about 18km in) where the course reaches bitumen road, which would mean extraction would be easiest there. All I would have to do would be to get to those points.
3) To make it to Aid station 2
Aid 2 is at the 34 km mark, so only 11 km from Aid 1. This is simultaneously the most beautiful and most difficult section, as it includes two hills – the hill that runs parallel to the Alcoa conveyor belt through the arboretum, and the Escalator and on-ramp hill on the out and back spur to Aid 2. I’ve been up the Escalator two and a half times – the half was when it started raining and the small rivulets of water in the deep ruts on the steep hill suddenly began gushing quite quickly and we all upped and evacuated the area as fast as possible. I’ve only been through the arboretum once, but there are signs next to the trees along the trailside in this section, and they are numbered from about 79 through to 29 at the top of the hill. The top is the highest point in the race, and it has a dirty great Telstra communications tower to emphasise the fact.
Actually 29 is an important number, because when you finish coming down from the arboretum hill and turn left to head over the conveyor belt you are at the 29 km mark in the race. When you go past the conveyor belt it marks the start of a stonking downhill where at one point in training I was making six minute pace when on trail I normally do 8 minutes 30 seconds.
4) To make it back down the Escalator without faceplanting
It’s an impressively steep hill, it seems to increase in elevation by about 50 metres in the space of about 100 metres. It is also quite rutted from water gushing down it. Sensible descent will be slow and steady, without feeling pressured by other competitors and their speeds down the hill.
5) To finish
Once we pass the 29 km mark, it will be unchartered territory in that I’ve never run further than that in training. I had hoped to run a 35 km run or two long runs back to back but it never happened. However I have faith that I will make the finish.
6) To finish within the time limit
You have seven and a half hours to finish the race. I know that I can finish the race, but a reasonable chunk of my brain still won’t let me think that I can finish the race within the time period. It may be that I will just have to complete it before I can believe it. It may also hinge on weather. If it is ridiculously hot – and it *is* December in Australia, so it’s not exactly snow weather – I may have to just be happy with finishing.
7) To finish the race with a time that starts “Six hours…”
I would love this. I have set up the Garmin Course on my watch so that it is timed for a 7 hour finisher. This way I will know if I’m feeling good and I want to try for the time, I need to pull my finger out and push on or if I have time up my sleeve to allow for a longer than usual walk break in an attempt to regain composure and energy.
I’ve already run every centimetre of the 47 km course at least once. I’ve seen two snakes and a few lizards, I’ve got trail shoes that haven’t caused blisters, and gaiters that have a Spider-Man design. I’ve trialled every piece of clothing that I will be wearing, and struggled with my nutrition until I felt I had a solid plan.
I know that if I want a competitive time, I haven’t done nearly enough training, but as I just want to finish, I am sure I will.
I guess I’ll find out next Sunday.