Friday, April 07, 2023

Running even faster!

It's hard to know where to start with the ACT Masters' 5000m Championships, held last Thursday evening in Woden. Coming into the race I knew my form was good, having run the 25:47 parkrun in December and 14:57 for 3000m in March. My goal was to improve on my last 5000m track race, 26:04.67 in 2021 and be under 26 minutes. I reallly didn't think I'd be close to 25 minutes. How did that happen?

We nineteen starters were blessed with good weather conditions, a light breeze (tailwind in the home straight), a temperature of 13 degrees and low humidity. I knew the form of my competitors and thought Jacki, Dale and Gordon were good for a 26-minute 5k. At 7:15 PM the starter's gun fired and we were off. I settled in behind Jacki, with Geoff, Dale, Gordon and Robbie up ahead. After two laps I passed Jacki into the 15 metre gap to Geoff. The clock at 1k read 4:57 and I was feeling okay, but thinking maybe the pace was too quick.

During the next five laps I concentrated on not letting the distance to Geoff grow larger and was surprised when he began slowing (due to a pre-race calf injury). My time at 3k was 14:59 and I thought 'that's quick, can I keep it going?' I passed Geoff and spent the next three laps closing the 25 metre gap to Gordon. I sensed my pace was slowing down (the 4th kilometre took 5:11), but Gordon was slowing more. I was excited that a finishing time close to 25 minutes was happening. I just had to maintain the pace. I passed Gordon and ran the final two laps as fast as possible, finishing in 12th place with a time of 25:07.60. 'Wow, that's good!' was my immediate thought on crossing the finish line. When I got home I checked my previous 5k results; the last time I ran faster than this was in July 2019, 24:51 for the Runners Shop 5k. I'm excited for the rest of 2023.

The winner of the race was M40 Jeff van Gangelen in a fantastic 16:49 ahead of M50 Steve Rohan-Jones in 17:30 and M45 Grant McKay in 18:39. The first lady was W55 Ann in 23:27 from W55 Jacki in 26:00. Dale ran 24:40, Mark 24:46, Robbie 24:46, Gordon 25:22 and Geoff 28:56. There was also an Australian Record for W80s run by the amazing Caroline Campbell, 28:52 to break Norma Wallett's equally amazing time of 31:11.58.

A few Speedygeese, including Caroline in the red cap

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Finishing 2022 with a fast parkrun

It's been a long time since I rock and rolled
It's been a long time since I did the stroll
Ooh, let me get it back, let me get it back
Let me get it back, baby, where I come from

This is the first verse of Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin where Robert Plant sings about the long, lonely time since he walked in the moonlight with his love. For me it's been a long time since I did the full effort stroll at a parkrun 5k. It was way back on February 22, 2020 at Tuggeranong where I placed 99th in 26:33.

On December 10 I decided to make amends for my inattention and see if 'having a crack' would carry me back to the days of fast times at parkrun. My confidence was high, having trained well with the Speedygeese and resuming racing on the track with the ACT Masters, recording a 14:50 3000m on the Thursday prior to parkrun.

I arrived early enough for a good warm-up with strides, then lined up next to Kenny, not too far from the front. Start was fast and after 500 metres I was happy to find myself behind Adam (a consistent 25-26 minute runner). Crossing the footbridge just before 1.5 km I eased ahead of Adam and followed a young lady, Rachel, towards 2 km. It was about here that David flew past (he would run 24:52).

My legs were still feeling good after the 2.5 km turn. Go legs! I knew I was running fast enough to run under 26 minutes as I was maintaining my position in the group of runners. The little down slope after the footbridge is perfectly placed before the 4 km mark. The effort was now hard and lonely, the finish a long time away! 5 minutes feels like a long time when everything hurts! Finally, the parkland finish was in sight and a final sprint to the line. 61st place in 25:47. Yeah-hey, ooh yeah!

The 1 km splits were: 5:27, 5:12, 5:06, 5:14 and 4:48 at an average heart-rate of 143, maximum at the finish was 152. Bring on 2023!

Dec 16 photo with the Friday Customs Joggers runners

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Running faster

2022 is turning out to be a good year for running. I've entered a new age-group, the 65-69s, which means a new pack of runners to race on the track and at parkruns (although we all know that "parkrun is not a race!"). In recent years I've concluded that if I can finish in the same times as the previous year, that counts as improvement. Physical decline as one ages through the pensioner years is real!

I've raced two 'peak' 5k races this year (and plenty of low-key events). Both have been improvements on the same races in 2021. Back on January 8 was the Athletics ACT Stromlo 5k road race in which I placed 41st from 50 in 26:13, an improvement of 2 seconds from 2021. I had the incentive of racing my mate Jim and a few other Masters runners. On July 23 was the annual Runners Shop 5k held on an out/back course beside the Monlonglo River. I was very motivated to run under 26 minutes (my goal for this year). I had Jim for company early, then caught and passed a lady around 1.5k. For the rest of the race there was a gap of around 150 metres to another lady which I couldn't close. I could hear the steps of a man from behind in the final kilometre. When he kicked past I couldn't stick with him, finishing 12 seconds back in 20th from 29 runners. My time of 25:33 was very pleasing, faster than the 26:15 I ran in 2021.

For the second race, new shoes contributed quite a bit to the improved time, new Nike Alphafly racers being a faster shoe than the Nike Pegasus Turbos I normally use. Still, I'm running faster than last year, which is quite exciting. The hands of time can't be stopped but they can be slowed! Consistency in training is making a difference this year. I'm hoping to continue that trend into 2023.

Training with the Speedygeese at Parliamant House

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Finally, we're back racing again!

Hopefully for good! Various states of Australia were in Covid-19 lockdown in the middle of the year, which meant it was impossible to plan with certainty for running in 'big' fun runs. At the beginning of August the ACT also went into lockdown (getting around 20-40 cases per day) for three months. In the early stages we were able to exercise with one other person for 60 minutes per day and had to wear masks outdoors. Gradually restrictions were eased and in early November smaller local races resumed with parkrun commencing on 13 November.

I've enjoyed this freedom, racing twice per week. On Tuesday evenings in the Canberra Runners 'Spring Series' and on Fridays at lunch time in the Customs Joggers 5k Handicap run. The other days of the week are easy 'MAF' effort runs or Easy Interval Method runs for around 70 kilometres per week. My fitness is slowly improving.

The 'Spring Series' races have been particularly enjoyable (this event has been held continuously since the late 1980s). I've varied my participation between the 5k and 2k races. The short race is quite challenging as the fields mostly contain younger fast-starting children and slower 'broken down' masters. The 5k Barrenjoey cross country race was sandwiched between two 2k road races. In both the 2k races I battled to catch youngsters, ran with them for a brief time, before finishing with a sprint. Good fun! My times were pleasing, a 9:47 and a 9:40. In the 5k race I started conservatively, catching my rival Jim at the end of the first of 3 laps. I then chased a few other runners (feeling like 5k was a long way), finally placing 32nd from 44 in a time of 26:17. The variety of participants evident in that the winning time was 16:49, first female 21:20 in 14th, last place 34:19, with runners aged 10 to 71 taking part.

This will be my last post for the year, so all the best to readers for the season, holidays and 2022.

Runners in the Black Mountain Peninsula 'Spring Series' 5k

Lush grass showing the wet and cool weather we've been experiencing

Monday, May 10, 2021

Canberra Marathon Festival 5.45k Fun Run

This race was held on 11 April and to fit the course in with the half marathon and 10k events we raced over 5.45 kilometres. It was sure to be a PB as I've never raced that distance before! There were large fields for all events, these being the first 'mass start' races since Covid-19 restrictions started in March last year. There were 702 runners in the 5.45k race.

My start position was good, about 10 metres back from the line. After the initial rush I settled in behind my rival Jim, following him around the first bend before easing ahead. I was more or less maintaining position on the gradual climb up to Parliament House (first kilometre in 5:26). Around the back of PH I passed a few of the fast starters and was feeling fairly comfortable with the pace. The second km (a bit of up, then flat) took 5:20 then we enjoyed the downhill from the other side of Parliament House — 5:06 for that split. There was plenty of space to run now as we headed towards Lake Burley Griffin. I was sticking with the nearby runners pretty well and feeling good. The next two kilometres passed in 5:01 and 5:13, then 2:13 for the 450m to the finish.

I was pleased with the result, 65th place and 1st in the M60-69 group, and how I felt during the race. Average pace was 5:12 per km, so a better result than the 26:04 track 5000m, considering the hill early in the course. I'm looking forward to the Autumn/Winter races with their typically calm and sunny conditions.

Races are back! With Jim (red singlet) for the Sri Chinmoy Cooleman Clip 5k trail race.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A 5000 metre race on the track

I have a soft spot for the track 5k — 100% accurate course, 100% flat, not having to deal with the crush of 300 people at a parkrun. On Thursday evening, 11 March, I raced in the ACT Masters' 5000m Championship race at Woden Field. The conditions were good for fast times, calm and around 17 degrees. I was hoping to run '25-something' as a stepping stone towards breaking 25 later this year.

With a field of just eighteen, I was able to start with my toe behind the curved start line, so no metres lost at all! At the gun, I settled in with Angel, Sue and Roger, Jim ahead and intent on also running "a 25" having been in the 26s at 5k parkruns. We were right behind Jim through the first 1000, 5:03 the split so perfect pacing. Jim started slowing after another two laps so Roger, Sue and myself went past, my watch showing 10:10 through 2k. I was finding the going tough, Roger forged ahead with Sue also stretching out 3 or 4 metres. I passed the 3k mark in 15:23, so 5:13 for that kilometre, not good! Roger was gone but I managed to hold the gap to Sue at around 10 metres. The fourth kilometre was covered in 5:20, slowing further! I rallied in the last lap, catching and passing Sue to finish 14th in 26:04.67. Roger ran a great race to run 25:14. At the pointy end, an excellent run by Bruce Graham (16:59.93 at age 59!) from Jacob (17:06) and Alistair (17:39).

For myself, it was a somewhat disappointing result — under 25 is still over a minute away. My recent form is showing improvement though which gives me confidence a '25-something' will be run soon. The photo below was taken at the Coombs parkrun last Saturday, demonstrating good running form, both feet in the air at the same time!

You are not walking if both feet are in the air

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The RunACT Stromlo 5k Road Race

It's been a while! There wasn't much to report during the final two months of 2020. I was happy to be able to run consistently throughout the year, averaging 49 kilometres per week. My goal for the year was to break 25 minutes in a 5k race, so a fail there — my fastest 5k was back in July, 25:38 for the Runners Shop race.

For 2021 my goal remains the same, under 25 minutes for a 5k race. In my current form, that seems quite a difficult goal! The first test was at the RunACT Stromlo 5k Road Race, held last Saturday evening. The course was 5 laps of a 'AA-Certified' accurate 1k loop on the smooth bitumen of the criterium circuit. It was a relatively flat course, just a short rise into the U-turn at the northern end of the course.

I started out at what I estimated was 5-minute per km pace — my 'opposition' (Jimmy and Zoe), not far ahead. My first lap, in retrospect, was too fast for my fitness level, 4:57. I was already slowing, but still going fast enough to pass Jim and gradually catch Zoe. I moved ahead going into the third lap (5:09 for the second) but it was feeling hard already, far too early! There were around 65 runners in the race and there were a couple I slowly pulled in during the third lap (5:19). For the last two laps I tried to maintain pace but was getting slower, eventually crossing the line in 52nd (5:29 and 5:20) for a time of 26:14. A long way from 25 minutes, but I'm looking forward to the challenge of chipping away at that time during the course of 2021. I hope you are all well, and looking forward to more running events than were available last year.

Start of the Community 5k race at Stromlo, myself in yellow, Jim in blue singlet

Thursday, October 08, 2020

The Easy Interval Method

Back in July of 2017 I wrote a blog post about my discovery of the Verheul method of training for running, following up with further posts about my experiences training this way. Last Christmas I received a book — Easy Interval Method by Klaas Lok (one of Verheul's original pupils). I was excited to read the book and find out if I'd been doing Verheul training correctly back in 2017.

The book has many examples of runners who improved and ran successfully using the Easy Interval Method, from 'average' club runners to Olympic and World Champions. An example of the former is Bertrand Maas who improved his 10k from 52 minutes to 44:21 and half marathon from 2 hours to 1:47 — of the latter there is Faith Kipyegon (gold in the 1500m at Rio) and Geoffrey Kirui (26:55 10k and World Marathon Champion in 2017), both coached by Piet de Peuter in Kenya. There are examples of Masters runners such as John van der Wansem who switched from high mileage (Lydiard style) training to the Easy Interval Method at the age of 35. John ran 14:21.6 for 5000m as a 40+ runner and 31:49 for 10k at the age of 51.

For ACT Masters runners, track racing has commenced again (there have been no Covid-19 cases in the ACT for a number of weeks). Last Thursday night I ran the 3000m with no expectations besides putting in a solid effort. I found myself racing Roger and Thea in the early laps. After 1k I passed Rog and tried to keep the gap to Helen ahead from growing larger. This was a successful strategy and I placed 10th in 14:52.16, with Helen running 14:36.58. The winner (M30) Adrian ran 9:22! I will continue to race on the track for the remainder of 2020 with perhaps a parkrun 5k if we get started again (Tasmania is starting on October 17 so it's likely we won't be far behind).

Easy Interval Method book by Klaas Lok (available on Amazon)