Sunday, November 30, 2008

200s and a rare win

This is funny. I actually won a race on Thursday evening! The circumstances were curiously strange. It was a combined 3000/5000 metre event at the ACT Masters' track meeting. I had intended to compete in the earlier 1500 metre race but my legs were creaky, and complained incessantly during the warm-up: "I don't want to do this!" they whined in unison.

I relented, and told them "we'll run the less intense 5000 metre race instead". My decision was fortuitous — the field of 22 had been running for 7 minutes when rare summer rains started drenching the track. I caught and passed my rival Jim. I knew he was running the 3k, so wasn't surprised when he regained the place during the 6th lap.

After 3k I splashed on. Coming into the home straight with 4 laps to go I took a quick look around the track. I was the only fool still racing! All the other runners had bailed out at 3k. I was going to "win" (or come last) — take your pick. I'll call it a win, as for mid-pack runners, wins are rare. I crossed the finish line in a fairly pleasing 21:44.8 — not far from an M50 PB in a race I wasn't targeting for a fast time. Salchows — 4:11, 4:14, 4:22 (12:47), 4:33, 4:25.

It's been a happy week of running. 103 kilometres (64 miles) covered, including a half-decent race and some good 200s down at Calwell on Tuesday. The 200s showed a little speed at last — 39.5, 39.1, 38.5, 39.8, 38.1, 38.5, 38.3, 38.1, 38.7 and 37.9. If I can turn those numbers into 36 to 37s I'll be confident of running a respectable 800m race later in the season.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I've had a fairly quiet week of training — four easy runs of 10 to 12 kilometres, one rest day, one struggle of an upper-aerobic run, and one track session. As is my habit, I ran the track session on the sumptuous grass at Calwell, using my lane — the one with the gentle curves — lane six.

The grass track at CalwellThe grass track at Calwell is my second home

I modelled the session on a few from Sky's blog. It was a mix of distances (200 metres, 500 metres, 1000 metres), and therefore speeds — from 800m race-pace to 10k race-pace. I ran three "sets" of 200, 500, 1000; taking a 2 minute walking recovery between repeats and 4 1/2 minutes' recovery between sets. It was raining lightly and comfortably mild, so pretty good conditions. My times for set one: 44.3, 2:02, 4:27. Set two: 42.7, 2:05, 4:26. Set three: 40.8, 2:05, 4:31. I found this a good session, as it combined some fast and moderate running speeds.

I want to keep doing some 800m race-pace training, as well as begin some all-out sprinting and short hill work. I think this might help reverse my tendency to run low to the ground. I'm too grounded! I'd like some spring and power in my stride, like that shown by Adriana Pirtea on the cover of November's Running Times.

I need to run like a girlI need to get off the ground like Adriana

Friday, November 14, 2008


Putting it bluntly, my 10,000 metre race last night was a failure. I was attempting to improve on my M50 PB set in December last year, but missed by 28 seconds. I placed 11th (from 18 finishers) in 45:21.64.

The conditions for the ACT Masters' track race were pretty good for November in Canberra — about 23°C (73°F) and calm. I had a plan in my mind to try and run about 1:45 per lap (4:22 per kilometre), which, allowing for a slight fade, would result in a time of under 44 minutes.

Despite having an easy 3 days (including 2 rest days) prior to the race, my legs didn't feel fresh at all. The race was hard from the start, and that feeling lasted for each of the 25 laps. Initially I ran behind Dale for a couple of laps until I sensed he was slowing. I moved ahead and ran through the first kilometre in 4:23 — not bad, but it was feeling ominously harder than it should have. I picked up the pace a little, and could sense Nadine (breathing heavily) and Roger on my heels.

At 4k I started to slow, and Roger moved decisively ahead. There was nothing I could do to keep up with him. Nadine's breathing became quieter, so I was by myself through 5k in 22:14. For the rest of the race I was running alone, and wishing for it to be over. I thought I had enough of a buffer to come in under 44:54, but my pace drifted, and it was not to be. I was close to an M50 PB, but not close enough. To do it in January I need my legs to cooperate, and be feeling fresh and eager to run. Come on legs!

Salchows — 4:23, 4:20, 4:26, 4:29, 4:36 (22:14), 4:35, 4:42, 4:46, 4:42, 4:23 (23:08).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

91 miles

In the end, I ran 147 kilometres last week. Canute was perceptive — the temptation to try and surpass my previous high week from 1991 (140k) was overwhelming. Especially after Speedygeoff dragged me along on an unexpected 14k "warm-down" around Lake Ginninderra after our equally woeful 1500 metre races on Saturday.

I'm glad I did it. Elite distance runners do this type of mileage year-round, and I now have a little appreciation of what it actually feels like to run twice-daily. And Bill, there's no secret (unless durable genes are a secret) — I just completed most of the runs at an easy pace — except for two races, which were more like speedwork than races.

A tale of two weeks:

1991 (140k)
Monday 25 Feb - 20k on bike-paths in 95:01 (4:45/km)
Tuesday 26 Feb - 2pm, 6k easy in 29:03. 6pm, 14k including 10k race in 41:30
Wednesday 27 Feb - 12.3k on trails in 56:06 (4:34/km)
Thursday 28 Feb - 17k at Aranda, including 8 x 600m in 2:03
Friday 1 March - 15k on trails in 71:24 (4:46/km)
Saturday 2 March - AM, 33k at The Cotter in 2:39:30 (4:50/km). PM, 7k including Interclub 4k Fun Run in 15:11
Sunday 3 March - 16k at Stromlo very slow in 84:00 (5:15/km)

2008 (147k)
Monday 27 Oct - AM, 13k trails in 1:28:27. PM, 6k moderate in 34:37
Tuesday 28 Oct - AM, 7.3k trails in 45:54. PM, 13k trails in 1:14:54
Wednesday 29 Oct - AM, 7k easy in 41:48. PM, 14.3k flat in 1:28:53
Thursday 30 Oct - AM, 7k easy in 44:54. PM, 10.5k including 5k track race in 21:53
Friday 31 Oct - AM, 10k trails in 60:42. PM, 13k trails in 1:18:38
Saturday 1 Nov - AM, 10k trails in 62:18. PM, 17k including 1500m race in 6:02
Sunday 2 Nov - AM, 7k easy in 45:47. PM, 12k trails in 1:11:24