Nick Moore on the National Road Champs
10th September 2023, Massey Campus, Palmerston North
When it's your day, it's your day...It doesn't often all come together very often when you're racing and result in a national championship and a 10k pb! Here's a write up of the build up and how the race went down.
I barely finished last year's national road champs in Upper Hutt so knew I was in way better shape this year. Under Bazyl Piotrowski's guidance, I've dropped my mileage a little to around 80-85k a week. I've kept the key Tuesday and Thursday sessions, the long Sunday runs and an hour a day on the bike a day but on days where I've felt tired, I've just rested whereas before I would have pushed myself to get out the door and struggle through 5 miles.
I've also raced a lot - and there's been a race effort most weekends ( - B or C priority races) since April. The cross country season was good if a little unspectacular for me ... but I've been feeling OK in races and picked up a few local wins. National Road Champs was an A priority race in my calendar this year - one that I tapered for.
Training's been fun this year. Adam Gallagher and I started running the Waitakere hills way back before the start of the winter and we've had some awesome Sunday runs with Simon Mace and a few of the others joining us on occasions. The Tuesday and Thursday sessions at the track have been perfect 10k training. Bazyl usually gets us running longer intervals on Tuesdays (e.g. 3 or 4 minute efforts) at around 10k to Half Marathon pace and shorter slightly faster ones on Thursdays - 1 minute or 2 minute efforts. We clock up decent volume with an amount of intensity that I can recover from without too much effort. It's been so good to have a group to start and finish every effort with and awesome to see the gains the training group are making. We've put on a couple of 10,000m track efforts on Saturdays which I've been pacing - kind of an 80% effort - enough to feel pretty happy it's over but again nothing that is going to take too long to recover from.
I travelled down on Saturday morning with some of the Auckland team and we stayed in the rugby accommodation at the Massey campus. It was great - big beds for big rugby players. Lots of grass which didn't need mowing. They fed us well on Saturday night. There was nothing much to do. Ruth and I checked out the course on Saturday and I spent the rest of the day with my feet up, reading my book and drinking tea. First impressions of the course were good. Big trees. Tuis singing. Nice road surface and a hill (up and down) which we would run 5 times over our 10k. It was nothing compared with a Waitakere hill but significant in a road race and you felt it would be where the race was won and lost.
Race day started slowly. Nice day - virtually no wind to speak of. Again - I kept off my feet until 90 minutes before the race. We were racing at midday so I kept eating all morning - bananas, muesli bars and a gel 30 minutes before the start - often I've felt empty standing on the start line for a lunchtime race and that's not a good feeling. Did a warm up and strides on my own to stay away from the noise at the start / finish. Then lined up and eventually the gun went off.
Dwight Grieve (Southland) set off at a red hot pace down the first hill with Brian Garmonsway and Dan Clendon (both Wellingtonians) and me following. They are all awesome competitors and we are all in the M45 grade - so I knew I'd have to run well just to medal. We've all raced each other lots over the years - they'd all beaten me in the past and I'd beaten them too - so it would just come down to the day. We caught Dwight on the hill the first time up and then ran together for a couple of laps. I just tried to stay relaxed, get used to the pace and clock off a few ks without expending too much energy.
I felt good on the hill each lap and could hear the others working ... Brian dropped off the pace a bit just before the 5k mark so then there were the three of us. We ran up the hill together and again I could hear them working. At the top as we went past the start / finish area, I took the lead, increasing the tempo a notch and then put in a little surge which stretched the others out. Over the last 2 laps, I was able to keep notching the pace up and got to the final hill far enough ahead to negate Dwight's finish. He buzzed me at the finish in Auckland a few years ago - you don't forget things like that.
It's very rare to feel in control of a race like that and to actually feel you can call the shots to some extent rather than just hang in there to survive. I had no idea of the pace or time when I was racing - I never looked at my watch but it turned out that I'd run a 12 second 10k pb. Super happy with that - it's been a couple of years since my last pb and I was beginning to wonder if there would be any more!
The future of the event
There's lots of talk about the future of this event - should Athletics NZ drop it and just include it in a commercial event? There are certainly lots of opinions on facebook ... Yes - we need bigger fields for Senior Mens and Womens races - although actually the racing in both these top divisions was great to watch this year.
I think it's pretty special that the NZ Athletics community comes together for the event - there are selectors, managers, top athletes, officials and supporters from all round the country together and it's a great chance to catch up with people from other provinces and clubs. All that would be severely diluted if it became part of a commercial event. It's also superbly organised, measured, officiated etc. It's a genuine national championship event - you lose all that when you hand it over to a commercial event organiser. Hard to know what to do other than keep supporting it and encourage more athletes to head down and give it a shot.
Other Owai results
MU20 (8k) Jack Jia 40:29 W35+ (5k) Ruth Gluckman 20:48 M35+ (10k) Nick Moore 32:40 (1st overall and 1st M45-49) M50+ (10k) Troy Harold 34:30 (2nd M50-59) Jerym Brunton 38:47 Robin Miller 39:24
Troy led home an Auckland M50s team that took silver in the teams comp for Auckland with Jerym and Robin.