Friday, December 23, 2005

Bad Wombat

At this time of the year I need to look back and see what happened in 2005 and do some planning for 2006.

I'm not happy with how I ran in 2005. I enjoy my running the most when I'm racing well. In 2005 I was a bad wombat. A bad, slow wombat. I raced lightly - only 25 times compared to my usual 35-plus - but this didn't have a positive effect. Being a track tragic I've picked the 5000m Vet's championship race in 21:03 as my best of the year. The time was only eight seconds slower than the previous year and I managed to beat my rival Jim White.

Still, I'm not happy. I was light years away from achieving the ridiculously ambitious goals I'd picked out of thin air in early January. To remedy the situation in 2006 I need to concentrate on the rest of this track season, then the winter season followed by the 2006/07 track season.

Will I be happy with my running in 2006? I guess I need to define what 'racing well' means to me. To most runners, including myself, it means achieving certain time goals as we're never in a position to actually win races. I've selected the following time goals which are challenging but not impossible:
Run 800 metres in 2:34, 1500 metres in 5:14, 3000 metres in 11:33 and 5000 metres in 19:59.

To achieve these goals I'll have to practise and train well. I'm not that concerned with non-track goals. If I achieve the times mentioned above I'd hope to run the City to Surf in 60 minutes, a 10k road in 42 minutes and a half marathon in 93 minutes. It goes without saying that I also want to finish the Six Foot Track under the 7 hour time limit and hopefully faster than my 2005 PB of 6:18:10.

Although I wasn't happy with my own running, I was happy to be associated with some very talented and determined runners. I'd like to particularly mention the runners from Calwell, Team Moore, and Luckylegs.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

An argument yet to be resolved

Did 2005 really happen? I can see the end of the year approaching and it looks like my running is finishing on a bit of a flat note. But, were there any notes run in key? When I look back through my 2005 diary there are zero races that stand up and say: "Look at me!"

My one track race in the period from January to April was a rather inglorious 10,000m in which I kept the officials waiting by finishing last, two laps behind the poor sod who finished second-last. In the current track & field season I've run just two 3000s, both well outside 12 minutes. Do I really want the highlight of my racing year to be a 3000m race-walk in 16:33?

I guess if I was being coached my coach would have had me doing a good build-up during the winter and now be well into the track racing season. Then, perhaps, a short mini build-up over the three weeks covering Christmas/New Year then more racing on the track through to March.

Instead, I find myself doing this rather serious plan of long runs in preparation for the 2006 Six Foot Track Marathon. "Why am I doing this!" I keep asking myself. I mean, I like doing long runs in the bush. Anything up to 24 kilometres is quite challenging and enjoyable. But, doing the 3-hour-plus, massively hilly long runs required for Six Foot is not exactly compatible with fresh enjoyable racing on the track.

I keep having this silly argument with myself... "You love racing on the track - why not cut back on these foolish disruptive long mountainous runs?" To which I reply: "Yes, but Six Foot is the epitome of running in the Aussie Bush. Don't you want to do a half decent one?"

One day soon I hope, the argument will be resolved.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

St. Elmo’s Breakfast

The morning of the ‘Six Foot Track – Slow Version’ had finally arrived! At 7.30am we assembled in the dining room of The St Elmo Heritage Hotel for breakfast. Six of us were fueling up for the long day ahead – I was joined by Wildthing, Mr WT, Luckylegs, Flash Duck, and Peter. A tempting cooked breakfast was included ‘free’ with our accommodation, so how could we resist?

I started with my usual 4 Weetbix with fruit then tucked into scrambled eggs, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, French toast and hash browns, all smothered with tomato sauce, washed down with a couple of glasses of OJ. To my slight surprise, Chickybabe and Peter were doing the same (minus the Weetbix) even going back for ‘seconds’! Carolyne was ‘enjoying’ a big mug of coffee with her Fortijuice. This would surely keep us going until our picnic lunch!

We arrived at the Explorer’s Tree a little after 8am, meeting Horrie, Belinda and Chonky. With strange optimism we tried to keep dry whilst photos were taken in front of the very unhealthy looking tree. Then, it was down to the starting line near the shelter shed and at 8.18am, watches, Forerunners and footpods were started.

The descent of Nellies Glen was full of wonderment and anticipation. Carolyne was busy taking photos whilst Chickybabe held my hand to make sure I didn’t slip on the wet timber steps or mossy rocks. After 42 minutes we hit the valley floor and were off and running. Chonky had well and truly disappeared but we’d meet him later on his return from the river. Belinda and Horrie ran out in front, followed by Carolyne and Peter. Chickybabe, Wildthing and I settled into a steadier pace which would serve us well later in the afternoon.

The run to Megalong Valley Road was very enjoyable. There were many puddles to negotiate and the Bellbirds were in full song. We managed to sight some of these tiny rather plain looking birds which I wasn’t able to do when running the Six Foot back in March. Lines from the poem by Henry Kendall almost do them justice: “The silver-voiced bell-birds, the darlings of daytime! They sing in September their songs of the May-time; When shadows wax strong, and the thunder bolts hurtle, They hide with their fear in the leaves of the myrtle”.

At the bitumen road crossing more photos were taken and we bid farewell to the Wildthings. It was all lightness and excitement! Little did we know how much we’d look forward to seeing the Pajero in another 3 hours or so. After running through some cow paddocks (full of curious cows) we were soon on the lovely single-track I’ve enjoyed so much during my previous two ‘Six Foots’. The rain had stopped and our CoolRunning gear was being dried by the sun as we ran. Although we took great care not to hit the deck on this tricky section one of the faster runners in our party was successful in losing some skin.

Soon we reached Bowtell’s Swing Bridge. Peter was keen to try it out and he persuaded a tentative Belinda to do the same. I said ‘why not’ and followed. After 20 minutes or so of ‘fun’ we continued on to the official crossing point of the Cox’s River. We filled our water-bottles from the ‘honking big tank’ and set off up the first hill. At the first ‘steep bit’, Horrie and Belinda said ‘goodbye and good luck’ and headed back to the Explorer’s Tree as they only had time for a ‘short run’ [32k!]. Carolyne might beg to differ but there are only 3 hills on the Six Foot Track – the one up to Mini Mini Saddle, the one to the Pluviometer and the one on the Deviation. Carolyne and Peter started running up Mini Mini with the enthusiasm of novices but soon switched to walking.

We had hiked less than half way up to fenced yards of the old Kyangatha Homestead when I noticed Chickybabe had dropped behind. I was quite shocked to see the worried, confused and helpless look in her face. She was struggling to maintain a slow walk with still the Pluviometer and 28 kilometres ahead of us! This was not looking good. How could she possibly make it? With some encouragement from Carolyne and Peter she kept moving, just taking it one corner at a time on the switchback ascent of Mini Mini. Even the waiting cows near the fenced yards seemed unable to cheer her. The final nasty steep pinch to the summit of Mini Mini was truly awful. I kept thinking ‘if we can make it to the Pajero, have a lie down and get some food in, things might improve.

Welcome as waters unkissed by the summers
Are the voices of bell-birds to the thirsty far-comers.
When fiery December sets foot in the forest,
And the need of the wayfarer presses the sorest,
Pent in the ridges for ever and ever
The bell-birds direct him to spring and to river,
With ring and with ripple, like runnels whose torrents
Are toned by the pebbles and the leaves in the currents.

We had a long rest sitting on a fallen log in the shade of some gum trees at top of Mini Mini. I borrowed some Bodyglide from Carolyne to put on a blister I could feel on the back of my right heel. The next couple of kilometres are flat and downhill to Alum Creek. You would normally run this bit but I knew Chickybabe would be better off walking, so we walked the sometimes slippery downhill. On one corner we spotted our second red-belly-black snake for the day disappearing into the grass. We were soon in the welcome shade of Alum Creek. The three crossings of Little River necessitated walking through the ankle deep water. It was so cool! The water made my poor tired and dusty feet feel alive again.

Chickybabe was moving a little better and enjoying the change in scenery. We had four kilometres of climbing to go. After passing through an open gate Peter and I decided to walk to the next shady tree. Carolyne walked with Chickybabe a little way behind. Our ‘shady tree’ was around a few left-hand corners. We waited for 10 minutes but there was no sign of the two ladies. Had they slipped off the edge of the track, or, worse still, been bitten by a red-bellied black snake? Peter suggested we go back so we jogged and walked back around a few bends. To my horror, Chickybabe and Carolyne were sitting on the side of the road. Carolyne walked over as we approached and told us the story of the demise of St Elmo’s breakfast.

It was then decided that Carolyne and Peter would continue to the Pluviometer and request assistance from the Wildthings while I sat with Chickybabe. She was not well. I gave her some water and after a while suggested we try walking slowly as the Pluviometer was at the end of a long straight around the next left-hand bend. I knew it was closer to two kilometres away but I dare not say that. We slowly continued. After the next bend we spotted two hikers far ahead with big packs. We were not gaining on them!

When Chickybabe asked “how far”, I replied “I was wrong, it must be around the next left-hand bend”. We kept walking. Finally, like a mirage in the desert, the Pajero appeared, being driven slowly by Mr WT down the rutted track. Wildthing jumped out with a cold water bottle: “There’s not far to go – you’re nearly there!” when I asked “How far to the Pluvi?” Chickybabe took some of the water but couldn’t bare the thought of eating anything. She decided to keep walking. This was a huge decision as a ride in the Pajero would have been tempting and entirely justified considering her fragile state.

Mr WT found somewhere to do a 3-point turn and then drove on ahead. After one more (final) left-hand bend we three walked up a straight section and saw the sight we had longed for – Carolyne and Peter standing at the Pluviometer waiting for our arrival. Chickybabe was helped into the back seat of the Pajero and tended to by Wildthing. I made two tomato sandwiches for a very subdued picnic. To my annoyance, the dreamed of bottle of Coke was missing from my Esky. I’d left the bloody thing in the fridge back at Katoomba! I made do with Gatorade to go with my sandwiches and tin of fruit. As I was finishing lunch and chatting to Peter, Chickybabe got out of the Pajero. During her rest she’d managed to eat some creamed rice provided by Wildthing and was now ready and obviously determined to finish her glorious quest.

Soon we were off on the ‘relatively flat’ section along the Black Range. We had about 9 kilometres to go before the Deviation turn-off. We were in good spirits along this section, buoyed by Chickybabe’s excellent progress and cheered by the company of Wildthing. Mr WT demonstrated the patience of Jobe by driving ahead to various spots and waiting our arrival. I would have been happy to walk the rest of the way but Wildthing insisted on a ‘run two minutes, walk one minute’ routine which kept us going at a good pace. After 7k or so we finally caught the hikers we’d followed up the Pluviometer. At this stop Wildthing provided a special treat – Salt and Vinegar chips! She then decided to ride with Mr WT before joining us for the final section from the Binda Flats to the finish.

The three novices were wondering “how far to the Deviation?” I replied with authority “It’s just after we come to an open section where the road turns left”. This provided great amusement for Carolyne as she debunked my expertise every time the road veered even slightly to the left! The open section and ninety degree left corner finally arrived and it was downhill to the Deviation intersection where the Pajero waited. The Wildthings were chatting to ‘Alan’, an orienteer who was holidaying at the Black Range camp ground. While the others were eating and talking I changed my socks. My blister was starting to hurt!

I was feeling good as we hiked along the Deviation. We only had about 9k to go and I was sure, barring accidents, we’d make it! Chickybabe was moving well and didn’t even blink when we arrived at the final nasty rock-strewn hill on the Deviation. “This is the last hill Carolyne!”, I said with confidence. When we reached the Jenolan Caves Road, the Pajero was waiting. We arranged to meet Wildthing at the Binda Flats so she could run with us to the finish. “It’s only about 3k to go from there” I said. In reality it was closer to 4 and a half kilometres!

The single-track to the Binda Flats was great fun and we were running on the easier sections. Carolyne would run ahead occasionally to take a photo with her mobile phone. “So, this is not a hill Ewen!” she counseled at every slight upturn of the topography. She will do well in the race I contemplated, as will Peter who was cruising along in total ease. Before we knew it the track finally did tilt down for the last time. Just two kilometres to go! Chickybabe, Peter and myself took great care on the loose, rocky surface. Meanwhile, Wildthing and Carolyne walked along as though on a city footpath, chatting the whole way and not seeming to notice our perilous descent.

After what seemed an eternity the track finally relented in its downward obsession. We stopped for a last ‘photo opportunity’ in front of a spectacular rock archway. Then it was on to the paved track and with Caves House in full view, the final metres to the finish. We rounded the last corner and Mr WT was waiting with camera ready. Photos of our ‘Slow Version’ group were taken in front of the ‘Six Foot Track’ sign. Then, we walked the final finish straight to complete our epic 45 kilometre journey. Mr WT announced the time was 7:22pm. We’d left at 8:18am, so we’d been out in the bush for a tick over 11 hours. Much of this was spent either stationary, playing, bent over or lying down as the ‘time in motion’ recorded by GPS was 8 hours and 13 minutes. It had been a long day!

We shared two cans of Coke purchased from the machine on the verandah of Caves House. Then, after one last photo, we piled in the Pajero for the long drive back to Katoomba. We were like excited children as we chatted about what we’d achieved as Mr WT concentrated on missing the fallen rocks on the zig-zag road out from the Caves. I know there were five of us in the car that were in awe of Chickybabe’s achievement. She is sweet sixteen and a number of score-years for goodness sake! She finished the Six Foot Track – Slow Version after using considerable willpower to overcome a looming ‘DNF’. If only that determination could be bottled and sold! Later during the drive we were treated to a show of lightening from a gathering storm and an amazing clear patch of sky amongst the dark clouds to the west.

Often I sit, looking back to a childhood,
Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood,
Longing for power and the sweetness to fashion,
Lyrics with beats like the heart-beats of passion -
Songs interwoven of lights and of laughters
Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest-rafters;
So I might keep in the city and alleys
The beauty and strength of the deep mountain valleys;
Charming to slumber the pain of my losses
With glimpses of creeks and a vision of mosses.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Setting goals is not easy!

At the beginning of my running diary for 2005 I wrote down some goals I hoped to achieve this year. Looking back I now realise I didn't really give this much thought. I just picked out some numbers that looked good. These numbers included running 1500m in 5:08, 3000m in 10:58 and 5000m in 19:08.

As 2005 draws to a close it's obvious I'm nowhere near running these times. In bid to be a touch more scientific I've gone back through my diaries and found the best times I've run in the 45 to 49 age-group. I've listed these in a table in the right column of this page. I've decided I should try and better these times before aiming at anything near the stratospheric ones I picked out of thin air. The M45 PB I feel most confident of bettering is my 11:57 for 3000 metres.

I think I've been guilty of delusory optimism when it comes to my ability in the year 2005. I see women my age running sub-11 for 3000 metres and say to myself "I should be able to do that" ignoring the fact that the last time I ran that fast was ten years ago!

I've also been ignoring a body that seems unable to do the training it did to run a 3000 metres in 10:58. I can't sandwich a Wednesday long run with two solid interval sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. I've tried 'just speedwork, rest days and 10k runs' training but that doesn't work for me. I'm a person who runs poorly off low weekly mileage.

I can vividly remember a period of low-mileage training at the end of 1993 when I was training with Dave Gates. Our speedwork was fairly intense such as 8x200m in 32.5 and 6x400m in 78 seconds. I ran a tired 1500 metres at Interclub in 4:55.7. Three weeks later I was scratching my head when I could only run 10:52.8 for 3000 metres. At the beginning of 1993 I'd run 10:40 at the 3k split of a 17:59.8 5000 metres. The difference was I'd been training 100 kilometres per week at the beginning of 1993 and 65 per week at the end.

I realise I need speedwork to run well on the track. I also need more weekly kilometres than the 59 per week I've run over the last six months. The next thing I need to do is to work out a plan. Perhaps I should consult a coach!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A walk down memory lane

I can't remember exactly when I started race walking. I think it was around 1997. I'd do the walk at Interclub to earn some extra points for my club. The points table was a little 'soft' as I could get the same number of points for a 1500 metre walk as I could for an 800 or 1500 metre run and that's when I was running 5:10 or so for 1500 metres!

I never trained for race walking but got by on running fitness and adequate technique. At the end of the season I'd walk the 5000 metres at the ACT Championships and amused Peter Waddell by picking up a few medals. I didn't do many 3000 metre walks but tonight I looked up my diaries and found a PB of 16:16 from the year 2000.

I was planning on racing the 5000m run at Vet's track tonight. Unfortunately on Monday I was half way through training when my left calf cramped. It was a bad cramp! I limped to the side of the soccer field and sat down. It was hurting as I walked back to the car. I had Tuesday off and by some miracle on Wednesday I was able to run.

Tonight I drove out to the track with the vague thought of running a couple of races 'easily' as training. After arriving I decided to start with the 3000 metre walk. It was a handicap and I started with Robin Whyte 10:30 after 'go'. There were only three walkers starting behind us.

Robin started rather quickly and it was a major effort for me to keep up with his frantic pace. I just concentrated on 'sticking' to him. We were having a good race and passed 1000m in 5:40. I moved ahead then Robin returned the favour. I said "how many laps to go?" The reply was "Three." Thank goodness for that!

I managed to overtake down the back straight and stay ahead until the finish. I was very happy with my time - 17:07 - so, less than a minute slower than my PB. It had been hard work. Walking fast is not easy! With the slow six foot coming up I thought prudence was in order and decided not to test my calf in any other races.

I watched Jim run another good 1500 in about 5:42, just ahead of Maria and Katie. He'd been with Garry for the first kilometre but Garry kicked away to run 5:32. When I can get some speedwork happening I'd like to try some 1500m races - they look like fun!

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I'm just back from the Vets track meeting. Racing is fun! Well, this particular 3000 metre race was fun. My legs were feeling 'normal' again after last Thursday's disaster. At 4.40pm I warmed up at Calwell running our 2.5k loop with Karen nice and easily at 6:18/km pace.

I arrived a little late at Bruce, 20 minutes before the 3000 was due to start. I jogged a lap then it started raining quite heavily. Everyone retreated to the Grandstand. It was decided to start the race as soon as the black cloud passed so we were on our way about ten past six.

A 'split start' was used so I started in the outside lanes. The two groups merged after 100 metres. I tried to start a little faster than last time and found myself tacking on to the Ken White/Katie/Mystery-female group. The 'mystery-female' is Charlie, so I guess her identity is longer a mystery! I passed the start (200 metres) in 46 seconds, so, a bit under 4 minutes per kilometre pace.

After 600 metres I felt our group was going a little slow so I moved ahead. From then on I focussed on the red singlet of my rival Jim White. He was about 80 metres ahead and told me later he passed 1000m in 3:43. I was gradually catching Jim and Geoff was encouraging me to chase him. He was also encouraging Katie to chase me!

Before the race I really didn't entertain the idea of beating Jim. On Tuesday day he'd run 20:43 in the Spring Series Boathouse 5k. This was much faster than I'm capable of right now. Before tonight's 3000 he said he'd try and break 12 minutes.

With about 1k to run it looked like I might catch Jim. I ran harder as this was a rare opportunity. I drew alongside with 560 metres to run and went ahead. I kept running hard as I didn't want to give Jim a sniff of catching me in a sprint finish. The same went for Katie as I knew she had a good sprint.

I put in whatever kick I had in the last 100m and crossed the line in 12:21.06 for 15th place. I was very pleased to beat Jim and also run 11 seconds faster than a fortnight ago. My 1k splits were 4:03, 4:11 and 4:07. Half an hour later I placed third in the 2000m walk in 11:12. Then it was over to the high jump. I only managed 1.25 metres and had one good and two disastrous attempts at 1.30. I jammed my elbow under the bar in one and rolled my left heel in the other! Frees are not good high jump shoes when the fan is wet and slippery.

It had been a fun night!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Gravity is getting heavier

I didn't race on Thursday night. I wasn't happy. Earlier in the week I was looking forward to running my first 1500 metre race for some time and possibly doing the 3000 later in the evening.

On the night my legs felt terrible during my warm-up. Earlier I'd jogged 2.5k at Calwell with one of our sprinters and she was having to slow down to my feeble pace. Why were my legs so creaky and stiff? Well, having thought about it, I think I probably ran too hard and long the previous day. It was only 13.5k, but for me, at the moment, this is long and I'd run the middle parts fairly hard.

I watched the 1500 metre races. In the one I would have chosen, my rival Jim White was beaten by Katie in a sprint finish. Jim ran 5:43 and Katie 5:41. Had I run I would have struggled to break six minutes. After that I jogged 5 or so laps with Aki. She had done the race walk earlier and seemed happy to do this little amount of running.

Then I decided to do the high jump. I like the high jump! It's an event you can do that has no pain. It feels great when you clear the bar and land on the mats. I used to do the high jump quite a bit some years back when chasing points for my club at Interclub. I would often compete against Gerard Ryan who is an ACT running legend and former Canberra Times Fun Run winner. The high jump was the only event in which I could beat Gerard! He would bow out at 1.45 metres while I could clear 1.55 on a good day.

On Thursday night I jumped 1.30 metres and had a close miss at 1.35. Where has that 20 centimetres from 8 years ago gone? It must be the hole in the ozone layer. Yes, that's it! Gravity is getting heavier.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I've just run my first race of the 2005/06 track and field season. It was a 3000 metre event at the ACT Veterans Thursday night meeting. I finished 13th in 12:32.59. Electronic timing. You've got to love that - especially if you're a pedantic bastard like myself.

The 3000 metres is a true test of speed and endurance. If you've been weak on either or both parts of your training you can't hope to run a good 3000 metres. I don't like having results in 3000 metre races that are twelve something. I guess it's a true indication of my lack of race fitness.

Conditions were near perfect. No breeze at all and mild. The track was wet from earlier rain. In the first lap I found myself running with Peter. My rival, Jim White had arrived late and with no warm-up said he expected to run 13 minutes. The Frees felt good! I moved ahead of Peter but could never quite catch the Mick/Trevor/Ken and Mystery-female group.

My kilometre splits were 4:07, 4:13 and 4:12. Next time I'll start a little faster. Geoff has also recommended arriving at the track at least 45 minutes before the race in order to do a good warm-up. I was only able to run about a kilometre for a warm-up.

Although the race took a long time it was great that I didn't have any injury problems! No dodgy knee, bothered hamstrings or tender heels. Now I just want to get out and train hard for the next one!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My knee's not hurting!

I was down at Calwell again this afternoon to run on the grass track. I always go there with the intention of doing something 'good'. For about a month this has been difficult because I've had a strange knee injury. I could run at a steady pace such as 5 minutes per kilometre or slower with no problems. As soon as I tried running 'fast' the back of my left knee started 'grabbing' and hurting.

Why should I worry about such a minor niggling injury? Just go and run steady kilometres. There are plenty of runners with much more serious injuries such as Louise, Miners and Geoff. I guess right now I'm not happy to just run slow. I want to race 3000 and 5000 metres on the track this Summer and to do that I need to practice running fast.

This afternoon I ran our normal 2.5km warm-up with no problems. Mike suggested that Karen try some 500 metre repeats. We ran a few 'strides' on the straight track and my knee seemed okay. The Frees were feeling good. Karen took the lead for the first 500 metre run and I followed. 2:05 and I wasn't thinking about my knee, just that this speed wasn't easy. Then followed runs of 2:01, 1:58, 1:57 and 1:54. My knee wasn't hurting!

I usually run six 500 metre repeats but stopped at five as I didn't want to push my luck. I was so happy my knee wasn't hurting. After Kathy finished her amazingly long and fast session she joined us for the 2.5k warm-down. It was a warm, breezy evening and we were all feeling happily tired and satisfied after another successful session on the lush grass at Calwell.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

School's out for summer

I didn't run today. I worked for 10 hours and by the time I arrived home I just felt too knackered to run. Now, if I'd been still experimenting with 'running to school' I wouldn't have missed my run!

Back in July I wrote about Eliud Kipchoge and how, as a child, he ran 5 kilometres to and from school, usually 4 times a day. I took inspiration from Eliud and started running to and from work. I kept this going for six weeks but with quite a few missed days along the way. I wanted to see what would happen. Would I benefit from the increased volume of running - 80 to 100 kilometres a week compared to my usual 60 to 70?

This is what I learned from my brief experiment:
1) I am not a morning person. Well, I knew that already. I've always run in the afternoon. Strangely, I did have some quite good and enjoyable morning runs. The first kilometre or so was always a creaky shuffle but there were many times where, in the second half of the run, I'd be running along smoothly at a good pace of 4:45/km or thereabouts.
2) Running home is not easy. After working for 8, 9 or more hours my energy levels were not great. My run home from work was never as good as my run to work. This made me think that maybe I'm not an afternoon person! Perhaps I should be running at lunchtime? Unfortunately that won't happen as my lunch 'hour' is only 30 minutes.
3) I wasn't getting enough sleep. To keep this routine going I'd need 9 or more hours sleep a night. This wasn't happening. I couldn't get to sleep early enough.
4) It was fun. There was a unique satisfaction using running to get somewhere rather than using it to 'train'.
5) Running twice a day could make you fit. Well, it didn't make me fit. My City to Surf time was 3 minutes slower than last year. The main problem for me was that I wasn't absorbing the running. I wasn't getting enough recovery in the form of sleep. I couldn't do a good 'hard session' in the afternoon because I was too tired.

So, for me, running to school is out for summer - and probably forever! I'm back to running in the afternoons. I can plan to run a good track session at Calwell or an evening track race with the ACT Vets. I realise now that the goals I stated at the top of my other blog were too ambitious. For this coming track season I now have two main goals... to run 3000 metres in 11:33 and 5000 metres in 20:50. This would be an improvement on what I ran in 2004 and a step towards perhaps running faster in 2006!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The 2005 Canberra Times 10k Fun Run

Canberra's extended winter abated today leaving 4,000 runners and walkers with almost perfect conditions to attempt a PB or just enjoy the beautiful day and company of others.

At the beginning of the year I had a goal of running 39:58 for 10k. This would have been the day to do it. Well, I missed by a kilometre! 44:03 when I passed under the clock a few strides behind Katie as she left me floundering with her finishing sprint. forerunner man forgot to stop at the finish!So, I guess I'm in 44-minute shape for 10k, well behind my rival Jim White (42:10) and Geoff who ran a very speedy 40:41.

After finishing I collected one of the Canberra Times 'fat bags' (I knew they contained a water bottle) and chatted to Garry, Jillian, Peter and Greg in the chute. Then I collected my clothing and started walking back down the course a bit to watch out for Luckylegs. On the way I bumped into my cousin Don who had run with a couple of mates in 48 minutes.

I walked down that nasty speed-bump 100m before the finish, across the bridge and waited near Blundells' Cottage. In no time at all Luckylegs arrived, running very fast. How could this be? I thought she'd run about 70 minutes. I quickly yelled out "Go Norma!" She disappeared up the hill towards the finishing chute. I ran around to greet her and found her with Flashduck and Strewth. "Wow, what time did you run?" "65:46 and I had a fantastic time!" "Good stuff" I said. I was very happy that she'd had a good run.

The winners of the run were a surprised Anthony Haber who ran a brilliant 29:41 and Jackie Fairweather with 33:37. Anthony has only been running for 5 years and is coached by Hugh Ford. Jackie has been running for slightly longer - she said 20 years when she collected her trophy! After the presentations Katie organised a few CoolRunners for a group photo. You can see Griffin, Luckylegs, Speedygeoff, Aki, CJ, Flashduck, Strewth and green, mauve, orange, blue and other coloured shoes!Wombatface looking happy in yellow and blue with various coloured shoes.

Forerunner Man forgot to stop after the finish and did 12 kilometres. His 10k time was 43:42 so, I guess he thought the course was 10.1k. My real watch splits were 4:20 at 1k (felt very easy), 13:11 at 3k and 22:22 at 5k. My last 5k was 21:41. It's rare that I manage a negative split on this course so I'm thinking the 5k sign may not have been in exactly the right spot.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Blackmores Sydney Half Marathon

What can I say? In short, it was a brilliant weekend!

I had entered early for the half marathon as Karen from Calwell encouraged me to try it. I thought it would be a fun event to do - running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, through the city on parts of the famous Olympic Marathon 'blue line' course and finishing at the Opera House!

Karen ended up being a non-starter as work commitments resulted in a lack of training. I knew Luckylegs was running so I made arrangements to share a room at 'The Vibe' which was about 200 metres from the start line. On Saturday morning I drove through light rain to Mittagong. Chickybabe was standing on the steps waving blue and yellow streamers, saying later she'd done this to a couple of other white cars that drove past before me!

After meeting the family (and Jim) we enjoyed a cuppa and two slices of that delicious running shoe birthday cake! Then, it was off to Sydney via an Oxford Street traffic jam and the Harbour Bridge to book into our digs at Milsons Point. We went for a walk down to the harbour foreshore where a wedding was in progress. It was a lovely warm afternoon.

Back at the hotel we arranged to meet Carolyne and Bob for a meal that evening. Unfortunately, at the allotted time, Carolyne wasn't feeling the best so we left her to sleep and wandered up to an Italian place in North Sydney with Bob who told some fascinating stories about his travels by bicycle through North Vietnam.

The wake-up call did the trick at 5am and we were soon breakfasting on muffins, jam and coffee. From the hotel window I could see runners walking down the hill to race headquarters. I was unusually nervous about this race. Not for myself, but for Chickybabe who was hoping to run 'not so slow'. We found the tent which was handing out the 'free early-bird' race singlets and met a few CoolRunners including Eagle, Benny and Tesso.

There was a queue for the baggage trucks and more at the porta-loos. Our line was painfully slow so Chickybabe gave it a miss. I was sitting down when the gun went off! Luckily the porta-loos were close to the start and I began my journey just 55 seconds later.

Around the corner and up onto the bridge I was looking out for CoolRunning shirts and hats. I spotted The Owl and Omni running easily together but they didn't know where Luckylegs was. I finally caught her a couple of minutes later - she was looking good and running strongly! As for myself, I was feeling a bit wonky and lop-sided. On the downhill of the bridge into the city I started to feel a bit smoother.

It was crowded! A bit like a mini City to Surf start. I had to weave a bit trying to find some space to run. At one point I followed 'stroller man' through the throng. I caught and moved ahead of 'black balloon man', who I guessed was the 2 hour pacer. Forerunner Man was not too far short at the 3k mark but soon after he yelled out 'Weak GPS'. As we crossed the Pyrmont Bridge light rain started. I spotted 'red balloon man' (the 1:50 pacer) way in the distance and set about trying to gradually catch him.

The leaders were coming back from the turn and I was quite surprised to see Vince Craig from Canberra in about 7th place. Not far from the turn there was a yell from the sidelines "hey, wombat!". It was Plu, standing there clicking away with his digital camera just as a tropical downpour commenced. What dedication!

I felt pretty good after the turn and finally caught the red balloon group which included Kevin Tiller. Then, coming the other way was a very good looking group - Luckylegs, Omni and The Owl! "Go Chickybabe!" The rest of my race involved trying to get a bit of a gap on 'red balloon man' before the 'killer' Observatory Hill at the 19k mark. Running up this hill I could hear his voice getting ominously louder as he encouraged runners to "work your arms" and "this is the last hill". It was like the grim reapers at the six foot track all over again!

I crested the hill and ran down the corkscrew and onto the Cahill Expressway trying to keep pace with 'red balloon man'. Lulu was cheering madly at all the CoolRunners! I would try and stay with RB man! Just before the 20k sign he accelerated and left me floundering. I had to run the last 1.1k in 3:34 to break 1:50 which was impossible... however, the 20k sign was in the wrong spot and I ended up running a net 1:50:01 and an official 'loo-included' time of 1:50:56.

After finishing, 'de-chipping', collecting my medal and taking a couple of drinks, I walked back up the Cahill Expressway to see how Chickybabe was going. I waited at the corkscrew and it wasn't long before they arrived. Only The Owl and CB - no Omni whose knees had called it quits. I tried to run with them but Chickybabe sprinted down that hill. I had to put in a major effort to catch up and thought to myself "I'm not enjoying this!". I gave up in Macquarie Street and let Owly and CB sprint down that last hill to the finish. They made it in about 2:32 which I thought was excellent on such a hilly course. I was very proud of Chickybabe - her running was out of sight.

In the recovery area we caught up with a number of CoolRunners including TA, The Gnome, Sparkie and the poetic Go Girl. Then, the long walk back over the bridge. We bumped into Bob who had already showered at the hotel after running 1:31 in the half and was on his way back to meet Carolyne who was running the marathon. We all had a late lunch at a cafe in Kirribilli. Carolyne had run an excellent 3:48 in the marathon. Then, it was the long drive home to Canberra via Mittagong and one last piece of moreish birthday cake!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The green, green grass of Calwell

Some of my most memorable training runs were with Jim Tucker on the 400 metre grass track at Calwell. Like many grass tracks Calwell has a hill. From the finish line you run gently up to the summit of the hill at the 200m mark then gently back down to the finish. When I trained with Jim, we liked running 300 metre repeats, thus avoiding 100m of uphill.

Now, back in those days, which was not that long ago when I think about it, maybe the mid-1990s, Jim was a seriously quick runner. He regularly ran sub-60 seconds for his 400m races which was a time I could only dream about. Using my endurance I was able to beat Jim in 1500m races, but in an 800 he'd be running sub-2:20 leaving me 3 or 4 seconds behind. I think our ideal race would have been a 1000 metres.

In our 300 metre repeats at Calwell, Jim would leave me struggling in the first 3 or 4 such was his natural speed. It was frustrating but fun training. I'd be killing myself trying to keep up and he'd casually look over wondering what my problem was. My problem was that I was just plain slow! There's a runner in Geoff's group who also has plenty of natural speed. Jim is usually a good judge and he's predicted Katie will run 2:35 for 800m, 5:30 for 1500m and 12:00 for 3000m this coming track season.

This afternoon I was back on the green, green grass of Calwell. I ran my first serious track session for a number of months. For quite a while I've had this niggling hamstring soreness which has hampered my feeble efforts to run fast. I can handle long slow runs but anything quick and my hammy starts saying "don't do this". Today I said to myself "stuff it, I'm going to try something faster".

I decided to run some barefoot 400s starting at the summit of the track. My recovery was 1min 30secs of walking. The 400s were 97.7, 97.6, 93.8, 92.6 and 90.9. These times aren't all that quick, it's equivalent to a pace of just under 4 minutes per kilometre. The thing is I didn't feel too bad and my leg didn't say "stop, or else". Afterwards I ran a comfortable 2.5k warm-down with Kathy and Marlene. I thought to myself, if I can keep up this training my running might go somewhere.

This weekend it's going to Sydney! The Blackmores Half Marathon is on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to running across the Coathanger with thousands of others and cheering on Luckylegs to the finish at the Sydney Opera House.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A good student

About eight years ago my athletics club was looking for more coaches. They offered to pay the course fee which was about $100. I said to myself "why not, I might learn something" and after two weekends of lectures and practical demonstrations at the AIS track I became a Level 1 coach in the very general field of 'endurance and walks'.

Prior to this I had been training with Mike Sainsbury's Calwell group for a couple of years. This was (and still is) a group of mainly teenage middle distance and cross country runners with the odd adult like Marlene, Codger and now Karen and Kathy. I've been down at Calwell almost every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon ever since. I know every pothole, blade of grass and crooked line-marking on that 400m track.

In my early days at Calwell I was keen to find some of my old running form after being side-tracked for a while by triathlons. It's not easy to enjoy triathlons when you swim like a brick. My running form returned and at the end of 1997 I ran 4:58 for 1500m and 10:53 for 3000m. I know these are pedestrian times but at my best I could only run just under 10 minutes for 3000m.

After 1997 I became less interested in my own running. It was more exciting to watch the kids training and see how they improved over the months and years. Often they would start as awkward looking beginners who couldn't run out of sight on a dark night and progress to winning medals at state and national championships. This was exciting!

These days I'm still down at Calwell on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Usually I chat to Mike about the kids' training and might have a run with Karen (if it's not raining in Curtin - she has an aversion to running in the rain). I'm too slow to keep up with even the youngest runner on the track. I think Mike puts up with me as 'assistant coach' as I'm the only one who laughs at his eccentric jokes and brilliant puns. The kids just roll their eyes, turn around and walk away. We have an on-going joke about who was the last person to mow and rake the track and did they use a push-mower or nail scissors which the kids don't think is even slightly funny. I also know off-by-heart every inspirational speech Mike has ever made to the kids. If one's called for I'll say "how about trying number 47".

Over the years you see many runners come and go. There have been the sublimely physically talented runners who, sadly, haven't got it 'in the head'. There have been the beautifully smooth naturals who retire at 18 to take on an apprenticeship. There have been the moderately quick runners who win national medals through simple hard work and determination - the good students. It's exciting to see kids learn how to run and improve to the point where they can compete well at state or national level. Although it's sad to see some of them stop for whatever reason, you hope they've learned a love of running that might see them return to it later in life.

I've recently written a training plan for Luckylegs. She would like to improve her speed at distances up to the half marathon. Writing this plan hasn't been an easy thing to do. How do runners who are somewhat older than fifty respond to different methods of training? I don't know (but, through feedback, I'm learning). From personal experience I know that older runners don't recover from training sessions as fast as younger runners. I also know that 'speed' needs to be practised or the body forgets how to run fast.

For Luckylegs I've started with a fairly conservative program. There are two hard sessions per week. One is a time trial over 2km or 3km. I've decided to use this as an introduction to speedwork as it's less likely to cause injuries than interval training. The other hard session is either a long run or a medium long run which includes a faster paced section (around half marathon pace or a bit slower). We'll see how it all works in two week's time!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

My 22nd Sydney City to Surf

Sunday August 14 was a typically spectacular day for the 35th running of the City to Surf. This was my 22nd, although not in a row. In 1981 I had a knee injury, in 1982 I was 'out on the highway', in 1993 my foot was badly bruised after hitting a kangaroo on my motorcycle and in 1998 I was visiting Oregon with Gordon and Maggie.

This year Gordon offered me a lift to Sydney as he had to collect some plans and discs at Girraween and also wanted to give the mother-in-law's car a run. We stayed with Bruce in Artarmon and went for a walk down to the park on Friday afternoon. Late on Saturday afternoon we caught up with Andrew Shaw in at The Rocks. Andrew is a very talented runner who was recently training in Cairns with triathlete Simon Thompson. Unfortunately a calf injury meant that Andrew would miss the City to Surf.

On Sunday morning we found a parking spot near the Domain. I introduced Gordon to 'The Legend'. Keith was in high spirits and we chatted about races, training, the form of 'Fast Kath' who was doing the Sydney Marathon and some battles with Geoff Moore in recent Canberra Times Fun Runs.

Just after 9am I jogged with Gordon over to the start and left him in the 'A2' group while I joined the 'A1' group. This is the first time since 1994 (when I ran with Dad) that I didn't try and get close to the front. I talked to Rae Palmer and a girl from South Africa who was doing her first City to Surf.

Liz Ellis fired the gun at 9.30 and we were off! I started my watch at the gun and Forerunner Man when I got to the starting line which only took 25 seconds. The new grouping system worked amazingly well. I stayed over near the right hand gutter and had a reasonably clear run although we all came to a brief stop at the far side of the Kings Cross Tunnel where three lanes had been reduced to two. My first 1.2k to the far side of the tunnel was at 5:02/km pace which wasn't too bad.

Forerunner Man said the blue line to Bondi was 14.1km

The 5km mark at O'Sullivan Road came up in 24:10, just over 2 minutes slower than last year when I ran with Tanja and started with Jim White near the front row. I caught my cousin Don at the start of Heartbreak Hill. The kilometre to the top took 5:49. The Nike Frees were feeling really good and I reached the 7k clock in 35:14. My left hammy had been feeling bothersome but now I was confident of finishing so I stretched out a bit along the top.

Finally, down that beautiful hill with the sparkling Pacific Ocean in the distance. Along Campbell Parade, around the corner and a bit of a 'sprint' to the timing clocks. 66:35 was a bit ordinary as I'd been hoping to run 62 minutes but how could I feel disappointed on such a corker of a day? After the finish I had a brief chat to Aki (74:40) and Tesso (63:30). Then I bumped into cousin Don (70:22) and eventually found Gordon (64:21).

We walked up to the buses and arrived back at the Domain with the parking meter expired by 35 minutes but no ticket! Must have been our lucky day. It sure was. It was one of those days you felt privileged to be a runner and sharing the experience with 50,000 others. What made it even more special after I arrived home was a lovely email from Luckylegs who'd had the "very best time (of my life, not of the clock!) of any of my 17 C2S!!"

See you all again in 2006!

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Legend's contagious enthusiasm

I first met Keith Mayhew when I joined the Pennant Hills group for a light run a week before the 1997 City to Surf. He was excited! He chatted away continuously about the upcoming race [he would run 53:34], rivals he was aiming to beat and the old days. For Keith, the 'old days' happened a long time ago. He ran in the first ever City to Surf and is one of a handful of people who have completed every run.

Keith is a very accomplished distance runner with a City to Surf PB under 44 minutes for the 14 kilometre run. This year I ran with Keith and the Pennant Hills group before the Gold Coast Half Marathon. He was his same enthusiastic self, full of beans and excited about his goal of the 'Big Triple' in 2005. The 'Big Triple' is a sub-90 half marathon, a sub-40 10k and a sub-60 City to Surf. These are very respectable times, especially for a bloke who is 64 years old.

He didn't make the sub-90 at the Gold Coast but he's in great form and a sub-60 on Sunday looks very likely. When we were running through the bush at Pennant Hills I asked him once again about the 'old days'. He told me many stories. Like how John Andrews, on a training run, blew everyone away up the last big hill at Pennant Hills. The time when he ran an 'A-grade' 3000m at Bruce Stadium with Andrew Lloyd and Rob de Castella in the field and battled with a Canberra runner for second last place in 8:57.

I asked Keith how he trained back in the old days. Did he run twice a day? "I tried that but it was too much time away from home. I usually ran 20 kilometres through the bush every morning before work. On Saturday there'd be a cross country or track race. On Sunday it would be a 20 miler with another 10k in the afternoon." Along with his very impressive City to Surf results Keith was also an excellent track runner with PBs of 8:28 for 3000 metres and 30:19 for 10,000 metres.

All the best on Sunday Keith! Your enthusiasm is contagious and your lifetime of running and racing is a great inspiration.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Running to school - first report card

I've been trying to emulate Eliud for 5 weeks now so I thought I'd 'act the teacher' and write up a report card. Here it is:

Attendance - 7/10 [planned to run to and from 'school' 4 days out of 5 but didn't quite make it]
Creativity - 9/10 [found a number of different courses ranging from 6.7 to 10.3 kilometres and varying from 20 to 100% bitumen]
Neatness - 6/10 [my running form varied from a creaky, tired shuffle to a half decent impersonation of a runner]
Attentiveness - 5/10 [found out you can run with one eye shut but that is not the best way to catch up on missed sleep]
Efficiency - 8/10 [early days but I think my race at Goorooyarroo indicated a positive effect on my fitness]
Enjoyment - 7/10 [there is a unique satisfaction to be had from running to get somewhere rather than just running to 'train', although some of my runs home were very ugly shuffles counting down the minutes to when I could collapse on the couch]

Overall - 70%.
This week I'll make some changes. The runs 'home from school' have been quite tough because they happen after running 7 or 8 kilometres in the morning followed by reasonably physical work for 8 to 9 hours. Here is my plan for this week... Monday, bike to school, Action bus home, run at Parliament House. Tuesday, run to school, run home if I feel okay or else Action bus. Wednesday, run to school, run home. Thursday, run to school, run home if I feel okay or else Action bus. Friday, run at Lane Cove in the afternoon. Saturday, not much. Sunday, City to Surf!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Emma Murray: Fastest Enigma in the South

I was listening to ABC 666 radio last Monday morning. Tim Gavel was chatting about the weekend's sport. I was hoping for something memorable like 'Queanbeyan's Mark Webber has won the German Grand Prix' or 'Grant Hackett has broken Ian Thorpe's 800 metre world record'.

What Tim said made me stop work and listen: "... and in France, Canberra's Emma Murray has won the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships". Wow! How brilliant is that! "By 18 minutes from Austria's Marion Kapuscinski". Eighteen minutes. It's the Six Foot Track all over again, but this is the World Championship!

I found out later in the day that Emma had defeated some very well credentialed athletes. Such as Isabelle Guillot who has been World Mountain Running Champion on four occasions and Chantal Dallenbach, the French marathon record holder with 2:28:27 in 2002. That same year Dallenbach also ran 32:51 for 10km and 71:33 for the half marathon.

Emma is the definitive 'unknown runner' who has stunned the world's best mountain runners on one of the toughest courses in the French Pyrenees. The Marathon du Vignemale climbed 2000 metres over the first 21 kilometres. For those who have run the Six Foot Track that's over twice the climb from the Cox's River to the Pluviometer but on a very rocky track rather than a smooth dirt road.

Emma has no traditional running background such as cross country runs, track races or fun runs. She was a bush walker who developed into an orienteer and 6/12/24 hour rogainer. She only joined an athletics club this year. The first 'traditional' race I remember her doing was the 2004 Brindabella Classic which she won easily at an average pace of 5 minutes per kilometre. After that performance I predicted Emma would win the 2005 Six Foot Track 45km Marathon with 'daylight' coming second. This happened.

I was thinking about Emma's amazing performance again on Saturday when I was running up the only significant hill on the Bush Capital 16km bush run. This hill climbed a meagre 152 metres over 3 kilometres. I even walked a couple of times on the steep rocky parts. If this hill had climbed to twice that height it would have been the same grade as on the Marathon du Vignemale. Then you would have to keep on going for another 18 kilometres! It makes me tired just thinking about it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Earth to Ewen

I'm into my second full week of 'running to school'. Is it getting any easier? On my real blog I said I've developed a new appreciation of sleep. Running twice a day has me dreaming of lying down - hopefully not on my back with four feet in the air as Luckylegs has suggested. Sleep is good!

In times past I've visited Joy and Mal after doing a long run in the morning. Embarrassingly I'll 'nod off' on the couch while watching a DVD. My slumber is interrupted by Joy constantly repeating 'Earth to Ewen, Earth to Ewen'. If I don't get good sleep during this 'running to school' experiment Joy will need 'Earth to Ewen' over a loud-hailer and maybe a spray of icy water.

This means my visits to CoolRunning and the CR Blogs will be less frequent. At least until things settle down a bit at work. I've been very busy with 'real work' of late which is somewhat sad. I prefer the 'unreal work' that I do on the computer at home.

I've started using 'Google Earth' to map out some of my runs. The detail in the satellite photos of Canberra is amazing. When you zoom in cars and 2 metre wide footbridges are easily spotted. It's scarily like the spy satellites demonstrated in 'Enemy of the State'! The map on this page shows my two weekend runs... an 8.3km lap around the suburb of Theodore and a 21.2km out and back run to Fadden. Maybe in future I'll ask Joy to use the words 'Google Earth to Ewen' to jolt me from my peace. That is sure to work!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Eliud runs to school

Did somebody once say 'wombats are slow'? I've finally figured out a practical use for running after doing it for 25 years. I can use it to get places! No longer will I shrug my shoulders when friends like Joy and Mal say "Why do you run? You're not getting any younger you know!" I can simply reply "So I can get to work".

Running for me has always been a leisure-time activity. I've run and trained so I can race. I love racing. I've always been aware of how much running the great African runners did as youngsters. They ran to and from school. An early running hero of mine was Henry Rono. In Seattle in 1978 he ran an astonishing 3000m Steeplechase world record of 8:05.4. In 2004 Eliud Kipchoge at age 19 won Olympic bronze for 5000m in Athens behind Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele. Eliud said: "When I was in Primary School I used to run every day four times about five or six kilometres to and from school. I was always running. You know, the time is limited, so if you don’t run you don’t have enough time."

Ewen runs to work.
I've been doing this for less than two weeks. How has it been? In brief, fun and satisfying. By the shortest route I live 6.7km from work. Luckily this is about the perfect distance for an 'easy' morning run. If I want to avoid hills I can skirt them on the bikepath but this way is 8 kilometres. The 'short way' takes about 39 minutes to run which is 30 minutes longer than if I rode the GSX. This means I have to go to sleep half an hour (or more) earlier.

On the way home I can make the run longer and take in some of Tuggeranong's excellent fire trails and bush tracks. When I get home I don't have to think about making time to go out for a run. This past week I ran 97 kilometres which is a fair bit for a lazy wombat. It will be interesting to see if these extra kilometres make a difference to my running. I hope it's not just training a keen eye for good places to lie down during my races.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Perfect the next...

I'm writing this on the morning before driving away from this golden place. Yesterday was a near perfect day for running - nice and cool at 5.30am when we walked over to the start followed by a pleasant southerly breeze for the last 10km of the half marathon on a sunny perfect Queensland day.

Saturday after breakfast... we met Luckylegs for lunch at a cafe on Tedder Ave. A phone call and we were joined by Plu resplendant in CR gear. Johny Dark and Tesso (half of Clairie and Tesso's blog) also dropped in for a coffee and sandwich. Afterwards I walked over to race HQ with LL. Met a couple of CR bloggers for the first time in the flesh - MPHaz, minersrun and the wordy, wise Owl.

Sunday, the perfect day... Met LL and other runners staying at 'Oscars' to walk to race HQ at 5.30am. I lined up at the start near Cato and a lady, both were waiting for Puntermatt who was to run 5:00/km pace. I decided to run at the start near Pat Carroll's 1hr 40min pacer who was tied to green helium baloons (very easy to spot).

This turned out to be a good decision as I was not finding it easy sitting on 4:40-45 min kms. My race went okay with 47:52 at 10k. After the turn I gradually lost touch with 'green balloon man' and ran 49:00 for the next 10k. The Forerunner was almost spot-on with the 1km splits. With 500m to the finish the 'CR Cheer Squad' was in full voice led by Jen_runs. The "go wombat!" calls were much appreciated. I finished in 1:41:57 after a bit of a battle with sore legs and achilles over the last 3 or 4 kilometres. Had a brief chat with MPHaz (82min PB), Miss Skarmel (PB) , Johnny Dark (96 mins) and Chris from Calwell (77mins PB).

After a shower at home I walked back along the marathon course looking for Jennifer and Luckylegs. At the bridge I watched the 10km runners start and spotted Mr G doing his second 10k race for the weekend. Slow Sue was also there and ran a PB of a touch over an hour. I didn't spot LL so walked up to the 40km mark. I saw Cathy Montalto running well in her ACT team gear. Jim Moody then Kevin Chapman came past followed a little later by Jennifer. She was doing okay if looking a little hot and bothered and ran 4:40.

Then, a long wait for Chickybabe. Where was she?! After 5hrs 30mins had elapsed I walked back to race HQ as Jennifer was waiting. I must have just missed LL as she finally finished in 5:57 after having a real strugle with leg soreness and feeling unwell and wobbly in the latter stages of the marathon. The 'CR Cheer Squad' had run with her to the finish. In the afternoon I made a brief appearance at the Clairie/Tesso drinks at the Surf Club and was pleased to have a chat with Courtley Love and Fast Sue. That evening I joined Luckylegs for a gourmet meal. Thankfully she was feeling much better - almost back to her (some would say) 50-year-old self.

Shortly I will be leaving paradise but I think I'll be back next year - it's a great place for a run!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Beautiful one day...

The rain has finally stopped! Yes, it's a beautiful sunny Gold Coast day. It's the Saturday before the half marathon. I'm typing this in a bit of a hurry so forgive my dodgy typing and plu-like spelling.

Yesterday evening I phoned Luckylegs and we arranged to meet her for a walk on the beach. Guess what? In spite of all the best Telstra technolgy we got lost! We must have been waiting at the wrong yellow surf lifesaving tower. So, my male sense of direction is not all it's cracked up to be!

Later I went out for a walk and heard somebody call out "Hey, Ewen!". It was Kerrie W who was with Maria's group from Canberra. They were sitting on the sidewalk at 'Tooley's' just up the road from our digs at Pacific Views. They had just placed their orders so I joined them for dinner. Enjoyed a superb pasta meal and a quiet ale. All except for Kevin are lining up for the half marathon tomorrow.

This morning it dawned a perfect day and the view of the sunrise over the pacific from the 21st floor was beautiful. We went for a 5k jog up to Seaworld following the bush track until we were stopped by flood-water just past Mirage. While having breakfast on the balcony I spotted Jackie Fairweather (I think) running back towards Surfers. There were many Japanese runners out - clad in full tracksuits! How ridiculous! It's hot!

We're meeting LL for lunch at 12.30 - if we don't get lost looking for her! Then, a relaxing day of doing nothing much at all in paradise.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Back in the High Life Again

On a trip to Surfers Paradise back in 1990 there was a CD we played which, when I hear it these days, takes me back to that time. It was 'Back in the High Life Again' by Steve Winwood. I remember the opening lines from the title track... "It used to seem to me, that my life ran on too fast, and I had to take it slowly, just to make the good parts last, but when you're born to run, it's so hard to just slow down, so don't be surprised to see me, back in that bright part of town."

In a little over a week I'll be back in that bright part of that brightest of all towns - Surfers Paradise! On Sunday 3 July I plan to be running hard. When I'm running I want it to be 'hard to just slow down'. At the beginning of the year I wrote my 2005 running goals at the top of my other blog. One was to run a half marathon in 91 minutes. I don't think it will happen at the Gold Coast. However, it'll be fun to see how close I can get!

On a different subject, I keep remembering something Dr JH said in a recent CoolRunning discussion... "I watch what I eat, avoid late nights and feel guilty if I haven't run twice that day, and I've done it for the last 25 years. If I'm not doing it that way I feel slack. It's the only way I've been able to run as well as I have (and certainly that hasn't been Mottram type levels). To me anyone can get out and jog 10k a day. Going out twice a day most days, going a few years without a day off, racing most weekends, doing hills, track, etc each week - that's running."

Jamie certainly knows how to make a 'once a day slacker' feel guilty! The only thing I don't feel guilty about is that I haven't wasted whatever modest talent for distance running I might possess. I realised in my twenties that a 62 second 400 metre time would only take me so far. I did experiment with some twice daily running back in the early nineties. In the eighth week of 1992 I ran twice on three days for a total of 118 kilometres that week. Four days later I ran my second fastest 3000m time - 9:56.9. Would I ever run twice a day again? Maybe. It would be interesting to see what happens...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Dazed and Confused

Tonight I didn't enjoy running. I joined Geoff's group at Parliament House for our usual hill session. I wanted to run the hill circuits with some sort of purpose and aggression. For the past 6 weeks we've been running a 637 metre loop with includes a 70 metre 'decent' sloped hill which is run three times each circuit.

We've been running 6 repetitions of this circuit starting every 5 minutes. Last Monday I ran pretty hard after a sluggish start and averaged 2:55 for each circuit. Tonight I could barely muster enough energy to run 3:30. I felt bad!

Why can't I predict the days when I'm going to feel good? My weekend was, for me, a big one as I ran 42 kilometres. On Saturday I ran the Cotter '15 mile' with a fair bit of effort averaging 5:22 per kilometre over a hilly course. On Sunday morning I ran a very easy 18 kilometres in the Frees. I thought the easy Sunday would leave me feeling OK tonight. It did not.

I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I'm just a little dazed and confused. I can't plan when to have a hard session. I don't want to have a rest day before every hard run. I think I'll just have to tough it out and run hard when those 'good feeling' days come to me.

At least my bad training day wasn't in the public spotlight. There was an important race on Saturday afternoon up and down Mount Majura where a couple of runners I know had 'off days'. It's particularly sad when you've predicted somebody to put in a spectacular performance but for some unknown reason it just doesn't happen. I'm sure these runners will bounce back in the future and leave spectators amazed and delighted.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A beautiful weekend

Okay, so it was just about running! I'll start with Sunday. An early start - I left home at 6:30am for the 30 minute drive to meet Flashduck at the Shell servo. Unfortunately Flash thinks she's a real duck and played too much in the rain the previous day, catching a cold, so she wouldn't be joining us on the Mittagong adventure. She lent me a lock for my Apollo and also had a packet of Gels for Luckylegs.

The roads were still wet but the fog lifted to reveal a welcoming blue sky. I found Luckylegs and Tim waiting patiently at the Mittagong railway station. I was 10 minutes late. We drove up to the Sturt Galleries and the two marathoners ran away up the road while I assembled the mountain bike. I rode off in pursuit but had neglected to pump up the tires so I returned to the car. What a forgetful wombat!

Eventually I was on my way but the road went up and up. I dismounted and walked at some points as the Sunday traffic was pretty scary. I didn't want end up in the ditch by the road with my feet in the air.

I caught Luckylegs and Tim just after 4k and we found an abandoned shed right at the 5k mark where I locked my bike. The rest of the run was very enjoyable. Fantastic highland scenery and great conversation. We chatted about training, ultras, various CoolRunners, messageboard controversies, KT26's, clothing and getting lost.

At about 10km we stopped at the church on the corner for a quick prayer and a drink from the rainwater tank. Then it was off down the winding Macquarie Pass Rd and past the Polo Fields. When the GPS said 17k (12 for me) we reluctantly turned back. I was a very weary wombat on the return journey and walked some of the hills but Luckylegs was having none of that, powering up in top gear!

Before long we were back at church (for Sunday school) and then off up the steep pinch of Range Road. I was very glad to retrieve my bike for the final 5 kilometres. I'd been running for over 3 hours. Tim could smell lunch cooking so he put in an impressive surge on the final section. I coasted along and talked to the cows.

Us at the Sturt Galleries Cafe

Back at the Sturt Cafe we were ravenous and so looking forward to lunch, but, it was off! We had to make do with cake, ice cream and coffee. The waitress was apologetic and offered to take our photo. We then went our separate ways but we'll meet up again for a three course meal at the Gold Coast.

On Saturday morning I ran part of the Bush Capital Marathon course with the 'Cotter group'. We had two newcomers on the run - Andrew and Bronwyn. The first part of the run was a bit 'all over the place' but once into Goorooyarroo Nature Park we were on a fantastic smooth gravel road.

Andrew and Bronwyn turned back early and I continued on with Steve, Elizabeth, Carol, Chris and Cathy. I was feeling good and ran this 10k in 51 minutes, which is pretty quick for me, especially as the course was undulating as can be seen from my GPS profile. At the turnaround point it started to rain and we all headed back except for ultra-man Steve.

It was raining quite steadily by the time we reached the cars. The GPS said 20.97 so I felt compelled to run an extra 30 metres! It had been a good workout - 21k in 1:58:01 with a solid middle 10k. Maybe the Gold Coast half marathon will be a good one.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Bush and Range Road are calling!

It's early Saturday morning and as soon as I finish typing this I'm off on a long run. The 'Cotter Group' have decided to run over a section of the Bush Capital Marathon course. I'm thinking (hoping) that 20 to 23 kilometres might be their choosing. This is because tomorrow I'm joining Luckylegs, Flashduck and Tim for a run along the famous Range Road.

I'll have assistance tomorrow. Not just the pleasant company of three lovely people to pass the time, but my trusty Apollo mountain bike will be minded by a cow so I can ride 10 of the 30 kilometres.

The forecast is for rain! Will we break the drought? Will it rain on us for 5 hours solid? I hope so. I hope it also rains over the cracked and dusty catchment areas in all the ACT and NSW!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ewen wasn't always this slow

There's been a bit of discussion on the ACTrun group about ageing and injuries. Trevor Jacobs is often described by John Harding as 'evergreen' which is apt as Trevor holds his own against twentysomethings in mountain and ultra running. John then went on to 'expose' a few of Trevor's secrets...

Such as:
  1. The fitter you are, the faster you recover. Trevor (and Emma Murray) are extremely fit and both recovered quickly from this year's 6 foot track.
  2. Running lots of hills and not bashing the legs too much on bitumen.
  3. 'Recovery sessions' in the form of cycling to and from work and slow recovery jogs when taking the dogs for a run.
  4. Cross training with mountain biking, 12/24 hour rogaining and mountain bike orienteering.

This got me thinking that I need to become fitter. Pretty obvious really. I had a chat to Flashduck last weekend about what to look for in a mountain bike. My ancient Apollo 15-speed badly needs upgrading. I don't ride it much as it doesn't even have such basics as quick release wheels. I'm worried about having to push the thing 20 miles home if a flat tire stops the fun.

I also need to realise that I should back off a tad on the speedwork while getting my base fitness back to something half decent. This will be a bit of a sacrifice as I like running fast - especially in my luscious Nike Frees. I hope improved fitness will have me recovering faster.

At the moment I'm taking two days or more to recover from a hard training session. Back in the old days I could recover with just one easy day. When I think about it I was running nearly twice the kilometres per week back then - 80 to 100 compared to 55-60 right now. My aerobic fitness was helping me to recover quickly. The body would say to itself "there's a hard session coming up in 48 hours you'd better bloody well recover".

My fitness will receive a big boost this weekend with a 25km run Saturday morning followed by a 10km bike ride and 20km 'recovery run' along Range Road Sunday morning. I hope I don't fall asleep in the car on the drive home!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Running in borrowed shoes

I waited until the last day of 'early bird' entries at the Gold Coast. I was still wondering if I could (or wanted to) run a slow marathon. I've been gradually rebuilding my training since the Canberra Marathon.

In the past month I've been doing some reasonable long runs. Not good enough to do a 'fast marathon' but there was a possibility I could somehow survive a slow marathon. I even had a rough plan. This was to jog for 5km then do a 5km walk thus leaving a 32km run to complete the marathon.

In the end I decided I didn't want to risk a recurrence of the hamstring soreness that slowed me in Canberra. I sent off an entry to race in the Gold Coast Asics Half Marathon. Now I feel a little lonely about the Gold Coast as I'm not running with anybody.

Don't you hate it when you drive to a run and forget things? Like your sunglasses, or GPS, or tracksuit, or towel, or spikes or any number of things you 'need' to run. Running was supposed to be simple. You head out of the cave and run. Yesterday I forgot my shoes.

I was half way to the Cotter when I realised I was wearing the racing flats I'd slipped on to retrieve the newspaper from the front lawn. It was too late to go back as I was meeting the group at eight. Running 18 miles in racing flats was going to kill my feet, not to mention my legs and back.

Luckily when I arrived Chris offered me his spare pair of size US-13 Asics 2080s which he keeps in the boot of his Peugeot. They felt better than the flimsy flats so I ran off up the bitumen hill in borrowed shoes.

Only three of us were running the Cotter '18'. Mick was hiking while Anna and Graeme were doing shorter loops. Carol took off up the bitumen and waited for us after 2.7km at the gate. There was a small crowd of runners and cyclists inside the gate preparing for a 'Treeathlon'. This was a run, plant, bike event organised to replant trees on the burnt out Mount McDonald.

The rest of our run went well. We paused a couple of times. Once to chat to Graeme at the top of Jellylegs and again at Padovan's crossing for a drink before tackling Cliff Road. I could still remember the twists and turns up that hill but the track was much rougher than when I last regularly ran the '18' more than twelve years ago. With the top of 'Cliff' behind us it was the smooth run along Wark's Road and over the creek to the Yellow Rabbit Road intersection.

We waded through the freezing water at Vanity's Crossing and then the long drag up to the summit of 'Ma and Pa'. It was on this climb that Carol once again demonstrated her Ultra-running prowess. She just kept on moving showing no weakness at all on the climb while Chris and I steadily lost ground. Finally, a clear view of Black Mountain Tower in the distance on what was now a beautiful winter's day.

The steep down on the other side of the 'Pa' hill was followed by a bit of a struggle up to the Pierce's Creek settlement. Then it was the long, winding run down to the Cotter Reserve before finally handing back my now very dusty but trusty borrowed shoes.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Is a world record is the answer?

By Bruce Glikin
Amber Fields Publishing

The breathtaking first race that opens Distant Runner leaves the reader wondering in open-mouthed amazement what will happen next. What is the secret behind a 5000 metre performance that stunned a knowledgeable Hayward Field crowd? Is it possible for such prodigious talent to burst onto the world stage out the anonymous heartland of America? What is the real story behind Danny Murray, the newly definitive ‘unknown runner’?

We are soon taken on parallel journeys chronicling the lives of athlete and adviser. Danny Murray is the disturbed child prodigy who is on the cusp of graduating from the toughest school of hard knocks. Gabe Seward is the former Olympic Trials runner from the seventies who counsels children from the wrong side of town.

The two meet by chance on a darkened road out of Eugene, Oregon with Seward befriending the guarded, mysterious Murray. What follows is a rollercoaster journey of drama, tragedy and passion not unlike the ups and downs experienced by an Olympic marathon runner. Glikin skilfully draws the reader into the outwardly different yet spiritually similar worlds inhabited by Murray and Seward.

Distant Runner builds with such momentum we anticipate with page-turning speed a dramatic climax. Scripted is an adjective that springs to mind when describing the novel’s structure and street-wise dialogue. In a youthful lifetime we are taken from the vast plains of Kansas to the Douglas-fir shaded mountain trails of New Mexico. From the jasmine perfumed gardens of River Oaks, Houston to the synthetic 400 metre running tracks of Oregon, Dubai and Europe.

This is not just a story about a distance runner and his counsel. It’s a story about characters and life. These characters are expertly drawn so that we care about their lives and fate. We hope for a good outcome but one that remains real. Distant Runner delivers an oxygen-debt laden punch and on the way shows us that runners can’t be simply categorised. They are complicated individuals living real, sometimes tragic but always hopeful lives.

This is novel for all lovers of a great yarn, not just readers who happen to be runners.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Murray masterful on Mount Majura

I achieved two goals yesterday on the rocky slopes of Mount Majura. Goal one was to witness firsthand the stunning potential of Emma Murray. Goal two was to finish the race un-injured and have as much fun as possible on the toughest course I've ever seen.

By strange coincidence Emma's athletic ability is similar to that of Danny Murray, the protagonist in a novel I've just finished reading. I'll tell you more about this book in my next post. In this year's 45km Six Foot Track Marathon I staggered home two and a half hours behind Emma. She smashed the course record running 3:44:05 for eighth outright and since then has joined my athletics club.

The pre-race banter was somewhat subdued as we looked straight ahead at an horrendous near vertical rocky track. The 5 races started together with runners completing either one, two or three laps of the course. One lap climbed 320 metres. The open men ran three laps for a total climb of 920 metres.

After 220 metres of running I switched to walking very early on the slopes of horror hill. There was a dip half way up which I ran, then it was a walk to where Scotty McTaggart was marshalling at the gate. The final climb along the ridge to the summit had some sections where I could run. Very early on this part of the course CoolRunner and eventual race winner Stephen Brown came zooming back down. John Winsbury was clearly in second place followed by a number of fast males and then, Emma, wearing the gold and black of SCT.

I decided (hoped) to get around the course quickly enough to try and see Emma again and also perhaps to avoid being lapped. On my second lap of the course I was not far past Scotty's gate when the phenomenonal Emma came flashing down the mountain appearing to strike firelight from the flint stones every stride. I plodded ever upwards having my own private battle with Carol Baird and a couple of the Albury runners. After the turn I was quite surprised to see Flashduck not far behind. Did she not run a half marathon last weekend with a dodgy ankle!

Near the end of my second lap on the winding downhill single-track section I stepped aside to let CR Steve run past and on to a decisive victory. I faced the daunting prospect of a third climb to the cold blue sky. Most of my running group finished their races after two laps and I thought my destiny was to once again place last. I turned near the top of 'horror' and thankfully saw another lonely runner hiking up the hill.

My plan for the last lap was to maintain my postition by lifting my tiring legs high enough so as to not do a downhill face plant on the rock strewn slopes. I said a final 'thanks' to Martin Fryer who was jumping around trying to stay warm at his windswept outpost. Then, a slow hike up the last single-track hill before the long awaited final 200 metre run to the finish to be greeted by John Harding and Doug Fry.

My three laps took 30:31, 31:35 (200m shorter) and 34:36 for a finishing time of 1:36:42, an average of 7:16 per kilometre.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ain't Mount Majura High Enough?

I've entered the ACT Mountain Running Championships. Having twice run and walked the course at least I have some idea of what I'll be in for next Saturday. I pity the poor visitors when they look straight at the first hill and see a vertical-appearing rough track of dirt and rock. We have to do 3 laps of the bloody thing! Maybe it won't be that bad. At least it's so steep in parts that I have a legitimate excuse for walking. When I ran this event at Mount Coree the whole course was runnable. Not this time.

I've allowed myself to be talked into this event by a young runner from our club who's entered the 2-lap junior race. I don't know why he's doing it -- is not a 3000m steeplechase a painful enough experience?

Miraculously the soreness in my left shin has disappeared. My left hamstring is still bothersome but it's not stopping me from doing long runs. On Saturday I again ran at the Cotter. We started with a fairly large group -- some splitting at Padovan's crossing to run the '18'. Debbie, George and myself ran the '15' (mile). I felt pretty good until the 'Ma and Pa' hill. Back at the Cotter Reserve, my GPS map showed we'd run a distance of 23.9km. The pace felt good (5:34/km) but in the 'old days' we usually ran 5:00/km or faster without too much trouble. Must be getting old.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Running fast is fun

I usually run on the 400m grass track at Calwell once or twice per week. Since the mid-1980's I've always been interested in trying to run faster rather than further. Why would a plodding wombat want to run fast? This is why...

I've been semi-injured with a dodgy hamstring since the Canberra Marathon. I've still been running, but with less volume than I like and taking quite a while to get warmed up on each run. Last Thursday I was down at Calwell and decided to run the last 300m of each repeat that two of our young runners were doing.

I had to run fast (for me) to keep up and averaged a fraction over 60 seconds for each of the five 300m runs. Sprinters probably think this is 'crawling' but for a very average distance runner like myself it felt like I was flying. It's 3:20 per kilometre pace which is much faster than my 5km race pace. I ran fast because it was fun!

On Saturday I ventured out to the Cotter again for a long run. I ran with Carol and Chris on a similar course to the previous Saturday but in reverse and including the summit of Mount McDonald. Here is a GPS profile and map of the run:

I really enjoyed running on the smooth gravel trails. I was feeling good. Our slowest kilometre was a 7:53 up the mountain and fastest a 4:53 down Jellylegs. At the end of the run my shins were hurting a bit - I think from the downhills.

Today I helped out at the Canberra Half Marathon and afterwards wandered over to The Yacht Club for the first ever Canberra CR Drinks. I could only stay for a while as I had to get out to Fadden Pines to help at my club's schools cross country event. It was great to catch up with some people and bloggers I only knew as 'names' on CoolRunning. Thanks Carolyne for organising this and I hope to see more CoolRunners at the next one!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Back to the Cotter

Late in the week I decided to join the Cotter group for a run on Saturday morning. I usually prefer to sleep in on Saturdays and run the ACT Cross Country Club race in the afternoon. I jumped in the car at 7.25am for the 30-minute drive. On the way I caught up to Steve Appleby in his 4WD and followed him.

There was quite a large group and Mick lined us up for a pre-run photograph. We jogged off over the new concrete fire-proof Cotter bridge at 8.10am. The usual shortest option is the 'Cotter 15 mile' (24km) but a number of runners were going to turn back at the top of the Jellylegs hill which would be "about 18k".

Back when I was 'fast' I ran many Cotters. This was in early 1992 in preparation for the Canberra Marathon where I happened to run a PB. As well as the '15' I ran the Cotter-18 (mile) and the Cotter-21. We usually ran the second half of these runs fairly quickly. A good day was under 1 hour 50 minutes for the '15' and under 2 hours 15 minutes for the '18'.

Yesterday I ran very gingerly up the first 3km long bitumen hill. We re-grouped at the gate where the dirt road starts. Then we ran pretty much together to the top of Jellylegs (9.6km). The group that I ended up running with included Debbie, Cathy, Carol, Steve, Chris and George.

I hadn't run this part of the Cotter since they felled all the burnt trees after the bush fires. It was quite amazing to run on those same trails that had once been shaded, damp and cool. I recognised the ups, downs, twists and turns of the trail but I couldn't take my eyes off a view that had always been hidden by dense pines.

Now you could look into the distance at rolling hills and see many kilometres away the exposed trail you'd soon be running. The brim-full Cotter Reservoir was in plain view and looking quite strange in a dry, dusty catchment bare of vegetation. You could look ahead and see where 'Jellylegs' went. Previously it was a mystery hill that tilted up and up at each turn.

At the top of Jellylegs, Steve ran on alone to do the 'real Cotter'. The rest of us turned back on the 'wimps way' trail which skirted the burnt-out Uriarra settlement. I was enjoying the run and even put in a bit of an effort on the downhills to keep the free-falling Chris in site. The Garmin showed one of these kilometres as 4:43. On the rare flat sections we were running about 5:10/km pace. My average pace for the 18.6km was 5:27/km.

It had been a run of mixed feelings. I was very pleased my dodgy hamstring didn't complain. It was sad to see the pine forest gone. Then again, it was amazing to run on the now well-graded trails in full sunlight on a brilliant blue-sky day.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Runners make good Bloggers

Running is an individual sport but most runners these days enjoy the support and encouragement offered by group training. Some of these groups are 'real' and some are 'virtual'. I'm a member of the CR Bloggers family which is a 'virtual' group of individual runners who keep blogs.

I also run with a few 'real' groups in Canberra. They are all important to me and I enjoy the social as well as training benefits my groups provide. One is Geoff Moore's School of Running which I usually get to on Monday nights. Another is the Graeme Small/Cotter group which I like for 6ft training and social Wednesday runs. I also run with Garry when he's in marathon training mode.

The Calwell grass track is usually where I can be found on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. This is Mike's group - it's mainly for teenage middle distance runners with a few sprinters, a parent and a movement therapist thrown in for good measure. One of these teenagers came back from the Australian Little A's championships with a silver medal.

This girl began the season as a 5:35 1500m runner and last Saturday morning ran 4:50.86 to win the silver medal! The funny thing is, she's a better 800m runner. The 800m race was held on Saturday afternoon and she was feeling a little tired. We know she will run something very special for 800 metres later this year.

I think runners make good bloggers because blogging is also an individual sport. We do it for our own satisfaction. We don't blog to please our 'readership', our peer group, our friends or our parents.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Beautiful one day in Tassie, perfect the next in July

I've booked accommodation for Gold Coast! Because my recovery from the Canberra Marathon has been slow I've decided to miss the Canberra Half Marathon on 15 May. My next major race will be the Gold Coast Half on 3 July. I ran in this event a number of times last century including an 83:31 in 1995. It's a good flat course, ideal for even-paced running.
This weekend there's a carnival in Hobart, Tasmania. It's the Australian Little Athletics Championships. Four kids and one adult from the Calwell group will be there. I want to wish them good luck. When a chance presents itself, don't ask questions, just go for it! A runner named Chris Williams did just that many years ago and came away with two gold medals.
Chris was a middle distance runner who loves running and challenges. You'd think a young sub-2 minute 800m runner would keep running middle distance. Not Chris. He likes running the long and winding road. He ran a half marathon last year and, against advice, decided to return home and run the Canberra Marathon this year at age 19.
Like many runners Chris found the going tough and couldn't keep his early 2:40 schedule going. He still ran 2:56:09 on debut which was a great effort. You learn a lot about yourself running a marathon. I hope Chris learned to embrace the challenges that running offers and to take this great sport with him through the rest of his life!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

"What has passed is already finished with...

What I find more interesting is what is still to come." is a quote attributed to Emil Zátopek.
And so, I will put the 2005 Canberra Marathon behind me. I once wrote an editorial about "never making excuses". It was written for the benefit of young runners. Specifically teenagers. Be prepared for your race and do it to the best of your ability. If things don't go well, congratulate your rivals and train better for your next race. Don't make excuses. Teenagers are lucky. They (usually) don't run marathons.
In my own mind I have figured out what may have gone wrong with my marathon. Some would say I stuffed up the pacing but that's not true. I felt comfortable at the 20km mark. Things can go wrong quickly in marathons. I needed to walk and stretch my hamstrings at 24km.
Flash and Miss Pink had just run past. They were looking good. I walked and then ran for a while with Mr G, Spud and Truckie when they caught up. Soon after I decided to walk to the finish. I wanted badly to get there. I took off my shoes with about 4km to go and walked barefoot. The bitumen was hot. After 400m I put the shoes back on without socks. That felt good. I walked to the finish.
For the record, here are my splits: 35 seconds to the start line (started at the back of the field with Plu). 5km 25:26, 10km 50:25 (24:59), 15km 1:15:59 (25:34), 20km 1:41:48 (25:49). Half marathon 1:47:33. Second half marathon 2:50:06. Finished in 4:37:39.

Monday, April 11, 2005

M +1

I am writing this on Thursday 14 April. It's been a bit of a traumatic week. Last Sunday I ran and walked a marathon that didn't turn out the way I expected. I was hoping to run 3:35 to 3:45 and finished with 4:38. I wasn't too upset as the previous day I'd finally met a lady who is quite an inspiration to many people.

I wrote 'M +1' about her and then found out the following day there'd been a mix-up on the course which meant she'd run a short marathon and 50k. The effort she put in on the day was worthy of the Australian record that should have been hers. The following is what I wrote on 11 April:

How can you be so proud of a person you've only just met the day before? I didn't see Luckylegs cross the finish line yesterday to establish a new Australian 50 kilometre record as a W75. She wasn't supposed to be that fast. Griffin said "She's in the hall".

I followed him in and Luckylegs was sitting on a chair. It's hard to remember, but there was a photographer and maybe one other person talking to her. A handful of volunteers were busy packing up the venue. She had just run a personal best. Faster than her W70 Australian record! We had a short chat then Griffin helped her back to the hotel.

The previous day at the Expo I'd arranged to take Luckylegs for a ride on 'Mizuki'. That's my Suzuki GSX1400. I borrowed Mal's spare helmet which luckily fitted pretty well. It was just about a perfect day for riding. We took off to take a look at the marathon course.

That was a little tame so we rode that nice section over Scrivener Dam then out to the summit of Mount Stromlo. We stopped to stretch the legs then rode back via Parkes Way and Kings Avenue Bridge. It was a fun ride and Luckylegs was an excellent pillion. What a lady!