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.