Yes it’s true, yesterday I beat my Husband Pauly at the Launceston Running Club’s Lilydale Lope.
Yesterday saw me line up with 48 other runners in this iconic event. It was my second time running this and Pauly’s first. He had missed it last year due to a pulled hamstring. This is 16.6kms of hills. There’s quite a bit of downhill and quite a bit of flat but the hills are mega! Huge! Inclines of the excruciating heart-breaking kind. Hills that challenge, confront and downright exhaust.
Pauly had to be in the dairy at 4:30am so when I got up at a more civilised 6:30am I laid out all the gear. Would it be warm? Long sleeves, short sleeves? Shorts or long tights? Jacket? Vest? Oh dear. The weather in Tasmania has been very changeable of late. So I laid it all out, gear for all seasons and what we didn’t put on I took with us in the car to be prepared. It turned out to be a wonderfully mild 13°C, slightly cloudy and perfect running conditions.
Another dilemma was to carry a water bottle or wear a hydration belt. Ummm…decisions.
Arriving at the event (an hour and a half drive from our farm) I started to get nervous. Some lovely texts from Janette helped me out here and boosted my confidence. This is an epic run and yesterday it was the 40th running of the event so quite historic.
My handicap was 23:15 and Pauly’s was 37:40.
The Launceston Running Club is made up of predominately faster runners. There are only a handful of average to slower types like me. This is what LRC says about itself (taken from their website):
Dedicated to promoting fitness & fun in Northern Tasmania
The Launceston Running Club (formerly the Launceston Athletic Club) was established in 1954 and runs handicapped running races in and around Launceston Tasmania.. The races are run from March through to October each year.. As a handicapped race, everyone is given a different start time (assigned according to their ability) – this means that all the entrants should cross the line within a 5 minute window PLUS you don’t have to be a “fast” runner to win a race 🙂
It’s a wonderful group to run with. Some of the fastest people in Tasmania run with this Club and yet I’m welcome at the start line. Awesome!
After the pre-race briefing I made the landmark decision not to carry any form of drink bottle. I decided to give the three drink stations a go. This is a very big decision for me. My hydration belt is more than something to carry a water bottle in. On a long run it gives me a sense of security. I won’t die of thirst on the side of the road! I also had some chews in my pocket. But this time I was going to give the drink stations a go. Gulp! I was a bit nervous!
Off I went. Last year I was passed at the 3km mark. This year I got to the first drink station and no one had passed me. I knew where it was so I ate two chews just as I was coming into the stop. I carefully took a cup of water… took a few walking steps… gulped it down…kept running. My fear has been that if I stop to walk I might not be able to run again. It was fine, no problems.
I felt so good. There was I running the Lilydale Lope. I successfully had got up those first winding hills of steep corners and bends. Pretty little vineyards and farms were along the way. At one point I had to tell a vicious looking dog to SIT DOWN in a big voice…he didn’t but fortunately he chose not to get through the wires of the fence. Then I was down on the flat. At the 6.7km mark I was practically buzzing I was having such a great run. No one has passed me yet! I thought to myself in total amazement. I took a selfie and posted it to facebook as you do!
More flats, then the next steep hill. Chip chip chip. I could see a few runners in the distance who had gone out before me. Another chew and another drink stop…I pass the people in front! And guess what???
I was coming first! At the 12.67km mark I was leading the pack. Me the Unsporty Woman was coming first.
It didn’t last 🙂 At exactly the 13km mark the first runner passed me. The final drink stop and another heart-breaking hill to go before the run down and the zoom along the flat to the finish.
It wasn’t until the last 800m that I was passed again. I started to count as each runner went passed. 2nd place changed to 3rd and before I knew it I thought I was in about 10th or 11th place. I kept running.
Do you ever feel like a gazelle when you’re running along? You feel light and like your form is fantastic and running is the best thing ever? That’s was how I was feeling. I had a giggle when I saw the fast runners going passed me. They were the antelopes and gazelles, I was the armadillo waddling along. But who cares? I was having an awesome time!
I got to the finish and was handed my finishing token and guess what the number was? It was a beautiful number nine. I came 9th! And then I looked at my finishing time. I took a whole nine minutes of my time from last year. I cried. I was so proud of myself.
Then it occurred to me that none of those runners who passed me had been my Husband Pauly. I went back to see if he had pulled a hamstring and was sitting in the car (dread). No, he wasn’t there. Then it occurred to me that I might have beaten him. No! I would never be in front of my speedy Husband. By the time I got back to the finish line there was a very sweaty pooped looking Pauly just crossing the line. I had beaten him! Now that was completely unexpected.
The record for the 40th Lilydale Lope was broken yesterday. The fastest actual time was 53:11 with a handicap of 1:11:55 and a race time of 2:05:06 – the fastest runner had come in 14th place. Man he was flying!
The lady who won had run over 100 runs with LRC and this was her first win. Everyone was so happy for her. It was very well deserved; she was seriously motoring along with such incredible determination. She totally beamed when she received her trophy. Awesome! I love how fun and encouraging the presentations of this Club are.
And as for me I felt like a winner too. Last year my handicap was 19:20, I came third last with an actual time of 1:49:23 and this year 9th position with an actual time of 1:40:22.
I will never be a really fast runner like the elite people in the LRC. BUT I love running and am very happy and comfortable with where I am with speed. My biggest dreams now centre around longer distance running. Could I have run further yesterday? Yes I could. Another few kms to get to the 21.1km half marathon distance would have been very doable. I am grateful to my body for the buzz that running gives me. There is nothing like it. To train and work towards a goal and then to meet it all by your own steam? I love it. Handicapped races aren’t everyone’s idea of fun, but they certainly provide a great way to become more comfortable as a runner while getting outside the old comfort zone in a friendly supportive environment. If I can do these runs, me the Unsporty Woman, anyone can. Just like those epic hills yesterday – just chip away at your running goals and before you know it you’ll be there. Just don’t give up!
Oh and I love number 9, it’s my new favourite number hehe
Happy running 🙂