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!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

M -1

Well, it's Saturday morning already. One sleep to go! Marathon day minus one. It's a glorious, perfect, Queensland-like day. That means brilliant for biking but not quite so for marathon running. The weather is predicted to be the same on Sunday.

I'm feeling pretty good. Managed a solid 9 and a half sleep last night. I still feel a little tired though. Not sure what the story is there.

Some breaky then find some SCT stuff for the Expo and check the 1400. See you fun runners, bikers and bloggers this afternoon. Maybe also a few marathoners and 50k weirdos! By the way, the temperature at 8am in the shade was 19C. Thanks all for your good wishes!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Playing catch up

I just thought I'd mention to readers that I usually only write something for this blog once per week.

I've been writing a bit more regularly lately in order to settle my nerves. Yes, I'm worried about the marathon and/or 50k ultra on Sunday. One of the reasons is that I don't particularly like bitumen. Most marathons are about bitumen and Canberra is no different.

Another reason is that I'm planning to 'have a go'. By this I mean that I want to run the quickest possible marathon that my current form dictates. I think this is somewhere between 3:35 and 3:50. Yesterday down at Calwell I ran what was supposed to be a 'marathon pace' session (4x1000m at marathon pace with a full 3 minute recovery).

I ran these without looking at the watch, just on feel. The result was 4:48, 4:38, 4:30 and 4:31. I was wearing my clunky marathon shoes too (not the gorgeous feeling Nike Frees). The grass was lush (we hadn't mowed it for a while ;-) and there was a slight breeze. I'm very worried that I'll run out too fast come Sunday.

Chris also ran a 'marathon pace' session of 1200 repeats which, for him, was successful!

By the way, the weather this morning was perfect for motorcycling (too hot for marathon or 50k running). I did catch up with some much needed sleep after work with a 2 hour nap! Yeehah! My chest is still sore from all the push ups and chin ups we did on Monday evening. I must learn one day to ease into new things!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

I must work out a ‘Plan B’

It was T-shirt weather when I stepped out the door this morning. This was a planned rest day. I rode the 1400 in to watch the Women and Girl's Fun Run. It was quite warm and the wind picked up right on queue at 9am. The girls had to contend with a head-wind for the last 2km of the run.

The winner of the fun run was Emily Pluck from SCT. She out-sprinted veteran Joy Terry in the last 400m to run 17:58. The course may have been slightly longer than 5km as it had to detour around some new garden beds.

After the presentations I rode over to Joy and Mal's. The wind was really strong now – blowing leaves and twigs all over the road. You would not have wanted to be running a marathon or 50k in these conditions! I'm hoping the weather will return to normal by next Sunday.

I've dug up the times of the marathons I've run since starting running in October 1979. Yes, I've only finished six of them.

Canberra       3:41:14  1981

Air NZ NSW     3:28:28  1981

Canberra       DNF      1985

Canberra       3:11:02  1992

Canberra       3:54:23  2001

Alice Springs  4:11:07  2002

Canberra       4:09:02  2004

I think 'Plan B' in the event of bad conditions will be to forget the 3:45 and aim for a sub-4 hour time. That would be a good trend! This time next week it will be consigned to history and I'll be thinking about the next race.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hot in the City today

My plan for today was to run a ‘marathon pace’ training session. It was a beautiful sunny morning – perfect for running, but as it turned out, not perfect for marathon running.

At 1pm I lined up with Garry at the back of the pack for the ACT Cross Country Club Regatta Point 4km race. We ran evenly, gradually picking up a few people in the second half including Neil and Charmaine. The Forerunner was pretty much spot on showing the course as being about 30 metres long. Our GPS splits were 4:56, 4:49, 4:48 and 4:55. Garry was a bit quicker in the race as he put on a bit of a sprint in the last 300m to catch a couple of runners.

It only took a minute or so to have my name recorded then I headed back towards the Carillon. I was drinking from my trusty Thorpedo bottle but perhaps not enough. It was hot. The temperature was in the high 20’s.

Prior to starting I was thinking about running 14 to 16 kilometres at ‘marathon pace’. I continued on under Kings Avenue Bridge and wondered when I should turn back. My splits for the 6km after the race were 4:48, 4:54, 4:51, 5:01, 5:00, and 4:58. When I reached Duntroon I decided to ‘pull the plug’ on the session. Breathing was fine but I was not liking running in that heat. My legs were also feeling it a little.

I racewalked the last 4km back to Regatta Point averaging 8:10 per kilometre. Not very quick but I didn’t want to hurt the legs as I haven’t racewalked much lately. Back at the car, the Forerunner said I’d done 14 kilometres at an average speed of 5:49/km.

This session hasn’t exactly filled me with confidence for the marathon. I’ve learned that I definitely want to be outside 5:00/km pace early. I don’t want the old legs to be feeling sore after only 10 kilometres. Maybe they won’t. Here’s hoping!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Canberra Marathon Countdown

I’m starting to feel nervous. Clairie just reminded me there are only 9 sleeps to go! It’s a different kind of nervousness to what I felt prior to Six Foot. This is going to hurt.

In recent marathons I’ve been running with friends who haven’t had time-based goals. On Sunday week I’ll be running by myself. I’ve decided to aim at 3 hours 45 minutes which is 4 minutes slower than what I ran for my first marathon way back in 1981. Then it was all so easy because I had the innocence of youth and didn’t know the pain of marathons.

Speaking of youth, a runner from my club (SCT) will be making their debut in the Canberra Marathon. I’m not sure why he wants to run that far. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him develop as a runner since he joined Mike’s group as a 12-year-old. He became a fine middle distance runner winning at the Australian All-Schools in 1999. He still holds a number of SCT club records including the 1500 metres for Under-16’s at 4:10.89. On Sunday week he’ll become a marathoner at the age of 19. Chris was encouraged not to run a marathon at such a young age but he had his mind made up. He’s very ‘strong in the head’ which will help in the marathon. I hope it all goes well for him.

For myself I need to get a few things going right in the last week. I’ll be staying off the computer and getting some early nights. I’m hoping things will be quieter at work. This past week has been busy. I’ve been so tired! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if I can run the marathon and finish without any ‘injury-type’ soreness I’m going to continue on and do the 50 kilometre ultra. Probably with a fair amount of walking but most people walk at the Six Foot so I see it as a legitimate technique.

Goodnight and see you all soon.