There's nothing like the feeling of running on a crisp cold morning. Condensation on your eyelashes, tingling cold fingers and the crunching sound of ice under your shoes. This year's Kinloch Marathon certainly had a cool start, but as the sun came up the the cloud lifted it turned into a glorious warm spring day.
The Great Lake Trails were in amazing condition and I felt invigorated by the cool air. I'd run part of the course a couple of weeks prior to the race which was good to be reminded of the course profile and that I needed to resist the urge to fly down some of the amazing downhills. Taupo has the benefit of free draining pumice tracks but the odd corner was still a bit greasy. I knew I wanted some cushioning in my shoes but also some decent grip. I was pretty excited when I learned about the HOKA TORRENT - super light, great grip and a lower profile making it really flexible and responsive. Unlike what I would normally do, I took them out of the box on the Wednesday, went for two short runs in them and raced on the Saturday. I think you know when I shoe is going to work and it certainly did. Not one blister, hot spot or stress point in my feet.
I can't recall the last time I ran in a group for such a long time, never once wishing them to go faster or to button off a bit. Our little bunch formed early on and we stayed together until the turn around at Whangamata road. We chatted a bit but mostly we listened to the birds, our steady breathing and the sound of our feet on the track. A strange fog rolled in just as we arrived at the lookout down to Kawakawa bay but it soon burned off and the sun penetrated the bush warming our exposed skin and revealing the stunning views over Lake Taupo as we made our way back to Kinloch.
This race was the first time I'd carried and used my reusable and collapsable keep cup. It is certainly the way of the future and I found it great. I chose not to carry a backpack and bladder as the aid-stations were spaced perfectly. Of course it took a little time to fill my cup but really it was just a few seconds longer than if I had picked up one of the plastic cups on the table.
Our bunch split up a bit after the turn around but I felt great both physically and mentally. I find running so good to 'think' but it is often a time to just 'be'. My mountain bike training and recent hiking must have paid off as I felt really strong on the hills. I also think knowing the course helped me pace myself and be able to finish strongly.
I was really pleased with my run and coming first woman was certainly a bonus. During the run I decided I really must enter the Taupo Ultra-marathon again this year. Not the 100km this year though, I'll settle for the 50km so I can keep up my training for the Pioneer in November.