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Charles Kay Hill

The start of a Terrigal Trotters 10km Time Trial
Terrigal Trotters has a 10km Time Trial at the end of every month and alternates between a "flat" and "hilly" course.  "Flat" is a bit of a misnomer, as there are some hills, but it's certainly flat relative to the "hilly" course.  The latter has some significant early hills, but the grand-daddy of them all, Charles Kay Hill, comes soon after the 7km mark and climbs 75m over one kilometre.  That doesn't sound too bad, but after 7km of hard running, including the early hills, it's almost impossible to maintain any sort of momentum.  A helter-skelter descent, testing arthritic knees, bad backs and shoe grip, with a little over one kilometre to go, hardly makes up for the grind of the preceding ascent.
The Charles Kay Hill 10km Time Trial was scheduled for this morning at 6:00am, so I got to Terrigal at 5:20am and made sure I was well warmed-up, with an easy 4km through the darkened streets of Wamberal beforehand.  Running a race against your friends once a month makes for some longstanding rivalries.  I think all Trotters who regularly run the Time Trials have a pretty good idea of who they want to beat, and who wants to beat them.  Results are scanned and mental notes made.

Part of the dreaded Charles Kay hill
Based on my inadequate recent training background, and my mediocre City to Surf Fun Run and Six at Six performances, I had no expectation of running a good time this morning.  I still need another couple of weeks of solid training to get back within range of my best recent 10km times.  I did, however, expect to see signs of continuing improvement.

The longer warm-up certainly made me feel better for the first kilometre or two, and although I didn't feel I was running fast, I wasn't that far behind several of my old rivals.  I didn't expect to catch them, and was wary of forcing the pace, having done little fast running of late.  I resolved to settle into a pace that would get me comfortably to half-way and then see how I was going.  Perhaps the worst part of this particular course is the "foothills" that are encountered in the middle stages.  They cost you momentum, and it's hard not to think about the looming Charles Kay Hill.

Trotters socialise after a 10km Time Trial from a
few years back
As it turned out, my pace judgment proved to be about right and I ran steadily to bottom of the big hill.  From there it was a struggle up the hill, and then as fast as I dared down the hill to the finish.  My time of 44:18 (Trotters has calculated the course is equivalent to 10.4km on the "flat" course) was about what I expected, and my position relative to my rivals improved on two weeks ago.  My age-graded points score was about 800, which was OK, but a long way from the 900 I need for a sub-3:00 hour marathon.

Nevertheless, I do feel I'm on the way back to fitness and this hard run was a necessary step along the way.  I'm a great believer in hard running and hills as a way of building speed and this morning's race ticked both boxes.  There are no short-cuts, and there have to be runs and races where you perform below par relative to your benchmarks (aka friendly rivals).  Avoiding these runs and races just lengthens the process of regaining fitness.  The trick is to keep everything in perspective and remind yourself that things may well be different at next month's Time Trial.