Friday was a welcome end to the working week with it’s ’do what you can manage’ training philosophy (although not yet recognised in the Australian Marathon Handbook). I had enjoyed recent training successes with last week being particularly pleasing in both volume and quality running. The danger was to travel through this week with the same gusto as the last few but down the track run into trouble. So Friday, being Friday was particularly easy with a lazy 5 mile in the morning and 6 mile on the Alter G this evening (I am not sure what the Australian Marathon Handbook says about Alter G training, I suspect it may not be recognised).

So hopefully the approaching storm of fatigue and burnout has been avoided. Good news. The first of my marathon pace surges is tomorrow; 15km along the Fernleigh Track. It’s a workout I thoroughly enjoy and have been planning for some time. The problem this weekend is the dreaded ’east coast low’ and with it rain. Lots of it. It seems that although one storm has been avoided, another approaches.

It was unique for a kid from Parkes, a hockey, footy and cricket town, to feature in a NSW Cross Country Carnival. In 1987 aged 11 I scrambled a 4th place at the Western Region Cross Country Carnival to grab a spot on the team. It had been a gradual rise for me through the past three years where I had progressed from school level in ’85, District level in ’86 and then finally from Regional level in ’87.

These cross country races were brutal as no kid knows how to pace themselves which meant the first 150m was always a mad dash. From my recent observations of school cross country carnivals that is still the case and does not appear to change until runners reach the ’Open’ or over 20 category!

The 1987 NSW Primary School Sports Association Cross Country Carnival was to be held at Wangi Wangi on Lake Macquarie. Being such a big deal dad, Lawrie Westcott, parked the tractor for the day and brought me across with mum. We stayed in a cabin in a nearby caravan park. It rained. All night it rained. We only have 500mm annually at Parkes so the intensity of rain belting down on a thin cabin roof on the edge of Lake Macquarie was a little unnerving. Not nearly as unnerving as ’the walk of the course’ the next morning though. The term ’mud run’ would be more apt than cross country. I am not sure why school carnivals persist with the ’walk of the course’. It only affects the 2 kids who are going to battle it out. The rest of us would happily follow! I have a theory that it’s just there to help the carnival fill in the whole day….

Watching all the races head off in a blur of mud and spray was nerve racking. Particularly when I was the last race! Every race got quicker and quicker at the start. Obviously kids like me were all watching and thinking we just had to run like the group before, just faster because we were older!

It didn’t help when dad dropped his one piece of advice for the day. A real gem;

“Got to get out quick son.”

I remember going out as quick as I could jolly well sprint and that still wasn’t quick enough! The rest of the race is a blur of bush trails with water careering down them forming gullies before our very eyes. I held my own once the pace settled down but I never made up the ground lost to the freaks in that crazy sprint at the start. My finishing card said 18th. I thought it was pretty cool  and vowed that I would be back. The next year I returned and finished 3rd in the bright sunshine.

But for this weekend and my 15k marathon pace run, there will be rain.