Mikes Robins race report (4 months solid training) WTF28kmsSep 15, 2021
4 months of dedication towards this even, Mike first came to me with many goals over a 12 month period but really wanted to put all energy into this event getting the best time possible, and we made it happen, mikes goal was around 4:30hrs but I always have high expectation especially from someone so committed, I know mike would get the job done and be extremely happy with the results, such a great effort well-done mike.
“Whitsundays Great Walk” is An iconic 28k trail that meanders through a tropical national park in the Whitsundays and finishes on the foreshore of Airlie Beach. This event is part of the “Whitsunday Trail Fest” hence the name WTF28, or as I now call it, “What The F*%k 28” Coaching, training, mindset, nutrition, and equipment, over the past 4 months has been targeted specifically for this event which has all come together on the day to achieve what I would consider the perfect preparation. The weather also followed suit. Could not have been any better prepared.
Could not have achieved this without the guidance and accountability of Aaron with his training program and of course my wife Melly who’s been on this journey all the way and made the training and long runs enjoyable #Bettertogether.
A solid race plan was in place and now time to execute it. Tapering, good nutrition and hydration was on point. Early to bed and having a good night sleep found me up at 4 am rearing to go. Nutrition smoothie done, final equipment checks done, short walk to race precinct followed by a bus ride up into the hills for a 6:30 am started. Race briefing and a light warm-up didn’t need much as conditions were mild and knowing the first section of the run is an extremely easy decent so focused on stretching and loosening up.
Started at the back and set off at an easy effort building to a Z2 HR over the first 2k. This section of trail was wide with plenty of room to get comfortable and easy underfoot. As the trail continued its long descent, it rolled gently over a couple of minor hills at which time I was comfortable with the pace, but HR was on the up. Breathing and effort are still easy so all OK just go into recovery mode and settle HR down before the next hill, don’t blow out, recover at the top and on declines, then go again. I’ve been here before during training, although different trails, whilst visualizing this event so everything is familiar in my mind, however at the 10k marker as I started the first long climb it had become obvious good recovery was not happening and HR averages were on the way up.
Hydration and nutrition were perfect and consumption going as planned. No water on the trail so 100% self-sufficient with 3L all up being a combination of freshwater, nutrition, and salt tablets.
2Hrs in and approx. halfway the next 5k section of trail comprises an equal elevation loss/gain of approx. 80m so good opportunity to work on HR recovery before the extreme section begins around 20k (AKA Heartbreak Hill).
Close to 3 Hrs now and approx. 6k to finish as I commence the start of the last decline before heartbreak, slight cramping in abductors and calves. Short dynamic stretches and additional salt tablets did just before decline as per plan. Hoped cramping wasn’t going to happen but WTF strikes again. Hydration, nutrition, salt tabs and stretching have been perfect so nothing else I can do, just get on with it. A few more very quick stops to work on HR recovery and cramps with some limited success and ready to tackle heartbreak and the name did not disappoint.
The physical fatigue and pain have kicked in, HR is peaking and cramping getting worse, there’s nothing I can do so it’s now a mental challenge to keep going. Nothing new here, I’ve been expecting this and prepared. Focus on the result, visualize the success, work on your anchor point. Repeat, repeat, repeat. The hill is relentless and ridiculously steep with drainage culverts every 10m or so. As I dig deep, I’m barely walking and force myself to stop looking for the top and just keep going one section between cross drains at a time. I negotiate another turn and see a mountain goat on crutches being chased by a dingo carrying a water bag, or maybe just delusional at this point. Once over the top, it’s the same ridiculous steep grade and a very technical decline. Some good opportunities to recover HR but the cramping is getting worse and now the knees are becoming painful from the constant compression braking. Earlier in the trial, this wasn’t a problem as I have a good technique of keeping the weight on my forefoot, the centre of gravity slightly forward with a high cadence and short step that provides a cushioning effect which maintains a good pace, allows recovery whilst saving the knees from pounding compression, however having bad leg cramps, being fatigued and in pain, the only option was slow, steady to prevent slip and fall which would have not ended well.
The trail ends at 26k so approx. 2k from the finish as the course takes you down a flight of stairs and onto the road. A quick stop to stretch and it’s off with more downhill but now it’s on the road so I can increase the cadence, back onto the forefeet, pushing through the pain, I managed a pace in the mid 5min k’s. As the road flattens out the pace drops back to mid 6’s. Giving it every ounce of effort, I don’t recall crossing the main street of Airlie and heading along the foreshore to the finish line.
Enjoyment – started 10, finished 0
Intensity – 10+. Left everything on the course and then some.
Training and Lifestyle – 10. What can I say, 5 days in Airlie Beach?
Do Better – Can honestly say there is nothing I could have done better.
Goal – Good recovery and preparation for the next event.
Target Time – 4hrs:30min
Time – 4hrs:11min PB
Age Group – 7th place out of 14
Overall Place – 67th place out of 93