Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Grand Canyon

This time next week I'll basking under a summer sun in the city of angels with my mate Mal and his wife Joy. We're starting our tour of the western United States with two days at Disneyland, as it's been Joy's dream since childhood to get dizzy on the 'cup and saucer' ride!

After 6 nights in LA we're flying up to Vancouver BC, staying at the Buchan Hotel. Bruce reckons it's a 'buchan good place' and he's right, as it's within easy walking distance of Denman Street and Stanley Park.

We're hoping for goof weather so we can catch the train up to Whistler on one of our 5 days in Canada. We then bid farewell to English Bay before hopping a bus down to Portland, Oregon. This is where we hire a Chevy Impala for the rest of our holiday. It's a short drive down to Joe and Deb's place outside Philomath where we're staying for 3 nights at the Aboriginal Embassy, Oregon annexe. Joe is one of the best running coaches in the Pacific Northwest and he rates Percy Cerutty as his biggest influence.

From Joe's we head down the coast via the Redwood forests to San Francisco. We'll bust a few myths in this city before driving out to Yosemite National Park. Maybe I'll get to run with the bears? After a one night stay, we have a long drive to Las Vegas (Joy was keen to stay in a swanky place so she chose the Aladdin Hotel). With a bit of luck we'll win back a few US dollars.

We then drive to the Grand Canyon, staying at a lodge within the park on the north rim. The next stop after some photos of Route 66 is Flagstaff, Arizona, then it's over to San Diego. Here we spend 2 nights including the fourth of July before returning to LA for the flight home.

All this travel means my blogging and blog visiting will have to be curtailed. I'm having withdrawal symptoms already! I'll try and keep my running diary up to date while we're in various libraries checking emails. Good luck to all who are racing at the Gold Coast and anywhere else in Australia over the next 6 weeks. I can't wait to read all about it!

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon

Everything went so well. My plan for the half was to run in such a way that I could encourage Norma over the closing stages of the race. I decided to mix some walking with easy running for the first seven kilometres then run hard for a while before easing off again.

I was staying with Norma at the Phillip Street Travelodge which was within walking distance of the start down at the Rocks. The previous night we'd enjoyed a surprisingly good meal at the downstairs leagues club with Don and Bruce. Then, to relax that evening we watched an absolutely brilliant in-house movie - 'Good Night and Good Luck'.

We walked across town arriving about 20 minutes prior to the start. It was great to catch up with a number of CoolRunners including Blkbox, Johnny Dark, Gronk, Plu and Go Girl. Before long we were off, shuffling like cattle through yards directing us over the timing mats.

After we were released towards the Harbour Bridge I had to run with the flow of runners down the narrow streets. I briefly caught up to Horrie and Gnome who were pacing the 2 hour group before I found some space to the side where I could walk. Pretty soon the 'unstoppable ageless wonder' overtook me. She was running well.

When I reached the 7k mark I decided to run hard for a while. I caught Norma running out of the Domain, then shortly afterwards I was lapped by the leaders. I covered the next six kilometres in 28:27 then walked. It was fun trying to spot people in the crowd coming the other way. I saw Nick Mesher from Canberra, Go Girl, Don, Plu and many others.

I stretched for a while at the bottom of the Argyle Street hill and was happily surprised when Norma rounded the corner and admonished me for slacking off. We then ran the last 2.5 kilometres together. She was really powering along overtaking many runners. We were joined in the last kilometre by 2P and Gnome which really lifted our spirits. Gnome ran all the way to the finish with us while 2P joined us for a few hundred metres before going back to check on some other runners in his team.

It was hard to remain calm in the final minutes of the race as I knew Norma was going to beat her time from last year. She put in a very stylish sprint for the last 50 metres to finish in a net 2:24:47, over 4 minutes faster than last year! Perhaps she is ageless. After witnessing that race, I know she's unstoppable.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A base 5k race

On Saturday afternoon I ran in the ponderously named Canberra Half Marathon Eve 5k. The weather was close to perfect. Sun shining out of a clear blue sky, barely a zephyr disturbing the surface of the lake and a temperature in the high teens.

During my warm-up I didn't feel that great but was determined to race hard from the start and just see what happened. I was hoping to run under 22 minutes.

I positioned myself next to my rival Jim, about 4 rows back in the field of 169 runners. I was swamped at the start as Brian from The Runners Shop, Kerry and many others zoomed past. Jim had done his usual wheel-spinning start. It was amazing that he ran 21:34 and broke 1:37 in the half marathon the next day!

The first kilometre took 4:16 but soon after this I must have slowed, even though I felt I was keeping the pace going. I was having a hard time keeping up with a couple of young kids from our club. Not long after running under the bridge Eliza went past and for the rest of the race I tried not to let her get too far ahead.

As each kilometre mark came up I'd click the Casio for a split, look down and think: 'Is that all!' I lifted the pace in the last kilometre to close the gap to Eliza and finally finished with a time of 22:30 for 46th place. A bit disappointing but not a disaster. My splits had been 4:16, 4:30, 4:37, 4:40, and 4:27.

So that's where I'm at. Eight seconds slower than the first 5k of my Canberra Times 10k race last September! My goal of 19:59 for 5k is not looking easy.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Slip sliding away

The 2006 Nail Can Hill Run
It's hard to remember all the details about a run you last did 25 years ago. One thing I do remember about 1981 was the lack of rain.

This year it was wet. Ten minutes before the start only a handful of the 700 or so runners were lined up ready for their 11.3km journey. Most of us were sheltering under tents or up at the club 200 metres away.

I can remember running in worse conditions, such as the time it snowed at the ACT cross country championships, but at least snow is wondrous. There's nothing wonderful about a cold gusty wind and scudding showers. I felt woefully underdressed in shorts and a CR singlet. I'd have to run faster than I wanted in order to keep warm.

After we started I spotted Gronk in CR cap and Striders singlet about 20 metres ahead. I couldn't get through the crowd to say "g'day" and in any case he soon took off into the distance. The third and fourth kilometres are the hard ones, made even more so this year by the slippery clay soil. I walked and jogged these in 7:32 and 7:24. Once up on the ridge of the hill I found myself running sub-5 minute kilometres.

The downhill sections of the course were truly scary. There was a good chance of hitting the deck with every footfall. There were a few lurid skid-marks in the mud which really opened my eyes. Finally I was safely back on the bitumen for the last 2k down to the park. I spotted Gronk next to the finishing chute cheering in the runners. I found out later he'd run an 8 minute PB!

As for myself, it was a 10 minute PW. 60:56 placed me 262nd. Thinking about it a couple of days later, I really did enjoy the run. There's something whimsical about running through kilometres of mud, around puddles as big as small lakes and splashing straight through the little ones. Good fun! It'll be somewhat less than 25 years before I'll be back.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

My training plan for the 5000

It's the day before the Nail Can Hill Run. I'm getting a lift with Jim and he wants me at his place at 3.45AM! It should be a fun and memorable day - that's if I can stay awake. At least I shouldn't be coughing too much as my cold has decided to go somewhere else. Thanks everyone for your good wishes!

I've finally worked out my training plan for the sub-20 5k goal. I've decided on a 14 day program. The first 7 days are for mainly aerobic training and the second 7 days for anaerobic training. After 28 days I'll have an 'easy' week then start again. Recovery days will be run at a 'low to moderate' heart rate (bloody slow) sometimes finishing with a few 'strides' or 'downhill 100s'.

Geoff has suggested running lots of 50s, 100s and 200s within a longer run maintaining good leg speed. I'll try this on Day 4 and Day 8. Wannabecoach has suggested 'fast gradual downhill 100s' which I'll do on the downhill part of the Calwell track. He's also suggested I try surging on the uphill parts of my aerobic runs.

I'll be starting the plan on Monday at 'Day 8' as I want to do a 5k race next Saturday. You can follow the plan in my training diary.

Ewen's 20-minute 5k plan

Day 1 (Monday) - 9k aerobic run 'hard' (PH?)
Day 2 - Recovery run 45 to 60 minutes with 100s after.
Day 3 - 9 to 12k aerobic run 'hard'.
Day 4 - Recovery run 45 minutes including 50 to 100s.
Day 5 - Long intervals at 10k race pace - e.g. 3 x 2000m.
Day 6 - Recovery run 45 to 60 minutes with 100s after.
Day 7 - Intervals at 800m race pace - e.g. 8 x 200m.
Day 8 - Recovery run 45 minutes including 50 to 100s (PH).
Day 9 - Intervals at 1500m race pace - e.g. 300s and 400s.
Day 10 - Recovery run 45 to 60 minutes with 100s after.
Day 11 - Intervals at 3000m race pace - e.g. 4 x 1000m.
Day 12 - REST.
Day 13 - RACE - usually 3 to 5k cross country.
Day 14 - Recovery run 45 to 60 minutes including 50 to 100s.