Fernleigh 15 - Matt Hutton
Race Date: October 21st Results: 2012
My Fernleigh 15 experience started on the Friday night at the Friday Fire Up event hosted by the Naked Runners. I was keen to go and be involved but not quite sure what to expect going in so I was very pleased to find a relaxed social atmosphere and some really good nibbles. I’m no social butterfly but food always helps. The panel got started a bit late (although I didn’t realise that until the end) but it was very interesting to hear from the athletes about their experiences. It was obvious that the panel members were at varying levels of comfort on the stage; Kurt Fearnley is a particularly good speaker and got lots of laughs from the audience and Kirsten Molloy seemed comfortable and articulate. I also enjoyed hearing from Nat Heath about his experience in the Indigenous Marathon Project. Finally, at the end of the night I won the last prize in the draw, a print of the Fernleigh track tunnel by a local artist. I knew this was about the only thing I would win in the Fernleigh 15!
The morning of the race I was quite nervous, unsure of how I would do. My training has been going well in recent months, spurred on by consistency, regular fast 5km Parkruns and joining the Flyers for 2 hour long runs at the weekend, however in the last few weeks I’ve felt very tired and lethargic. I knew I should take confidence from the good training I’ve done but that’s not always easy when you’re doubting yourself. I’d set myself a goal of ‘around’ 60 minutes, hoping that I could actually get under that but hedging my bets a bit.
I arrived at the start with my Father in Law Kevin, greeted by Dave Robbo’s familiar voice over the mic and it wasn’t long before it was time to make my way to the start. I struggle to eat first thing in the morning and my pre-race nutrition consisted of some nibbled toast at 5:30, a banana I managed to get down at around 7 and, despite always being told not to try new things on race day, I scoffed down a gel just before the start. I don’t know how much difference this made to my performance, but it didn’t adversely affect my stomach.
After we were gathered in the age group area the kids from St. Pius X school walked us down to the start behind the seeded group. From my perspective the seeded group start seemed to sneak up but once they were off they disappeared into the distance quickly and my group had its briefing with a rev up by Mossy. I got positioned at the front of the wave and pretty soon it was time to get going.
A pretty big group from the front got out quickly but by the end of the first kilometer i’d gone past most of them and could spot just three people in front of me. Two of them pulled out into the distance but one I had in sight. My plan after hearing about the course was to take it easy for the first five, get fired up in the second and to hold on for the final five. As it turns out I found the incline in the first couple of kilometers deceptively easy and my first few were quite a bit faster than I planned with 4:08 in the second and 3:53 in the third. That was a mistake and bit me later on.
Kilometers 6 through 10 were pretty much as planned but after finding the hill easier than expected, the downhill seemed harder than I was hoping for. It certainly didn’t seem to give me the boost I was hoping for. After catching the runner in front of me and eventually dropping him in Redhead I had the next one in my sights and despite being in front of me, he had me in his sights too. Every couple of hundred meters he turned to look over his shoulder and I couldn’t tell whether he was looking for someone specific or if he really, really didn’t want me to pass him. I told myself to try and catch him but couldn’t do it, despite him slowing to walk through the final drinks station!
When I hit the flat I tired quite a lot and slowed to 4:03/4:04 in the 11th, 12th and 13th kilometers which was disappointing, however, looking at my watch I could see that I was close, very close, to being able to go sub 60.
In the last two I caught up to and managed to pass one female and one male runner from the seeded group that had started 5 minutes before my wave. That was a bit of a mental boost and combined with the finishing high I managed to kick out a 3:57 followed by my best split of the race, a 3:45 to bring me over the line in 59:50. I was extremely pleased to have come in under the 60 and to be greeted at the finish by my wife, who made it just in time. Great to chat to Dave Mantle and Shannon Fulwood at the finish too and to hear myself announced over the line by Dave Robertson.
So despite not structuring my race in the way I wanted, I definitely achieved the goal I’d set and another tick on my 2012 list. That gives me my first sub-20 5km, first sub-60 City2Surf, 1st sub-90 half and technically, my first sub-40 10km, however i’m really hoping to put in a good effort at Run4Fun in Sydney to secure an actual sub-40 10km time. Fingers crossed for that one!