Fernleigh 15 - Shannon Fulwood
Race Date: October 21st Results: 2012
Earlier this year I was excited to hear that a new running event, ‘The Fernleigh 15’, was going to be held right here in Newcastle, starting just down the road in Adamstown. Without hesitation I decided that I would run it, and planned on making a pace breakthrough. For the last ten years, I have been stuck in a pace rut. Be it a tempo training run, half marathon or marathon; I didn’t seem to be able to run much (if any) faster than 4:40min/km for any decent length of time. I could get away with running a half at the same pace as my marathon; but 15kms needed a bit of a shake up. I had been enjoying my racing for too long; and in Paul Murray’s words after my less than spectacular Central Coast half last year: “It’s not supposed to feel that good, it’s supposed to hurt!!” Oh dear, so if I wanted results I was going to have to hurt??
As there were no triathlons on the horizon, cycling became ‘cross training’ only. No more triple figure rides for the foreseeable future. Now apart from a sporadic hash at intervals here and there, I hadn’t ever really done interval training in the true sense. I came across Scott Westcott’s training program on the Fernleigh 15 website and decided to follow that for the 6 weeks leading up to the race. After all, it was called “Breaking Barriers!”
I selected four key runs from the program each week and followed them to the letter. To be honest I got a rude shock during the first interval sessions when I was well off my intended pace for 800m repeats. Yes, my dear. You are S-L-O-W!! Much to my delight however, my body soon responded quite readily to the new stimulation of (proper) tempo runs and interval sessions and the improvement was tangible. How exciting.
Six weeks flew by and I was confident I could execute my planned pace breakthrough of ‘anything less than 4:40min/km’. The Fernleigh Fire Up was a nice lead up and race day was soon upon us. Speaking of race day… that is one I won’t forget in a hurry.
I apologise to many of you whom I have already blathered this story to, however it must be included here. In a comedy of errors, Ethan left home at 4:30am to go cycling and locked the screen door on his way out. I arose not long after and busied myself with my race preparation. The clock was soon showing 6:50am and it was time for me to jog down to the start, 2ks and a perfect warm-up. “Now is the time” I thought calmly to myself.
As I went to leave for the race much to my dismay I couldn't find my house keys. I searched high and low, what must have been about 6 times and then in my exasperation phoned Ethan, he was arriving in Dungog by this stage. After re-tracing my steps from the previous evening I came to the realisation that my house keys were out in the (locked) garage, and I was trapped inside the (locked) house!
Every single window on our house has a screen. A very secure screen, like screen door type. So just to confirm in my mind, yes I'm trapped inside the house and time is ticking before race start. The clock on the microwave blinked 6:59am and I felt like a frantic caged lion - I reeeally didn't want to miss this race and race start was just 25 minutes away.
Suddenly my eyes were drawn to the two-louvred window above the screen door at the back. I did a quick size match of my waist to window and knew what had to be done. With a surge of adrenaline I climbed up on the laundry basin, cracked the glass louvres with my hands (later realising I could have just slid them out....), threw my backpack through and then (somehow?) limbered up and through the opening on my back. I leapt down three steps onto the concrete path and was free! In my haste of course I did not grab my car keys so I shot off down Lockyer Street on foot, arriving at race start just as the first wave were heading down. With five minutes to spare I was toeing the line!!
As this is supposed to be a “race” report I guess I should add a paragraph of the race. After being told by a fellow Flyer on the way to race start that my goal time (67 minutes) “was a bit soft”, I set off at a pace a little bit faster than the plan – though so did everyone I suspect, as the majority still started much faster than I. Nothing unusual there. Soon after the tunnel I spotted a familiar pair of heels. Andrew Dodd. I sidled up next to Doddy and although he was going a bit faster than I had planned, I decided to try and stay with him. It was such a help to have an experienced runner to pace off, even if he hadn’t signed up for the role.
Approaching Burwood Road Doddy and I were joined by another young female runner. I knew I was running faster than my plan, so decided not to look at my watch at all. I could tell by my company’s breathing that both were working as hard as I. Being in new territory I just accepted how it felt and kept up the rhythm.
It must have been after the Belmont Road crossing when I managed to put some time into my two running friends. Oh boy did those last four k’s hurt. I could hear the other female runner breathing hard behind me the whole time and this was enough to keep me holding onto the pace despite the fact that my hips and glutes felt like they were seizing up and not allowing me to run properly. Over the bridge and concrete sleepers and the finish was in sight. A high 5 from Robbo in the chute and I was soo excited to have finished feeling so spent!!
Net time across the line was 64:31 which is 4:16min/ km. Needless to say I was thrilled with this result and excited to have finished third fastest female of the day! The finish area was a hive of activity with array of runners, families and stalls. Thank goodness, as I had five hours to kill before I knew Ethan would be getting home and couldn’t get back into the window I came out of. So subsequently I hung around like a bad smell out at the race finish until stumps and then got dropped home. It was now 12:00 and i had not had anything to eat since 5am. Ethan rolled in the drive around 1pm and I was out on the back step, extremely pleased to see him. Sitting down to lunch it was time to reflect on a great race…and very big morning.
Well done on some incredible results all round. Hope some of you can share your perspective of the day.