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.