Wednesday, December 30, 2009


2009 is almost over. For me it's been a year of happiness and sadness; of Yin and yang; of pleasure and pain; of fast and slow. In short, the year has been just like running.

December 16 was the saddest day. After returning from a run with the Wednesday group I received a phone call from my sister Jane. Dad had passed away — he finally succumbed to complications following heart valve surgery. His passing came as something of a shock, as he had seemed to be rallying after many weeks of intensive care. He was 84.

I ran my first marathon with Dad back in '81. It was also his first. We completed our weekend long runs together on quiet roads through the flat farmlands south-east of Wagga. On other days Dad would sometimes accompany me on his Malvern Star 10-speed and urge me to run at 14 or 15 kilometres per hour. I think he was impressed with such running speeds because at age 55 they were beyond him. They are now beyond me! In the marathon I ran 3:41, and Dad 4:38. Both our marathon careers soon stalled, although not before Dad had improved his PB to (I think) 4:10. He took up competitive kayaking while continuing with sailing and 'fun running'. He completed many City-to-Surfs during the 1980s and early '90s. I gave away marathoning in a quest to improve at shorter races.

The funeral was on December 22 near Chinderah in northern NSW. I arrived on a flight from Sydney and Jane from Tasmania via Melbourne. My brother rented a holiday unit near Coolangatta beach for a few days. It was great to spend time with him, Catriona and the kids — Nathan and Claire, now teenagers — how fast they've grown! Also, a rare meeting with some of the cousins — Mike, Col, Jan, Wendy (Granny Lulu), Rob, and Rob's wife Sherry. We don't see them very often, so enjoyed their company in spite of the circumstances.

Anyway friends, back to running — which I guess this blog should be about. In terms of Yin and yang, the year was a failure — although not as disastrous as the year experienced by Julie. I wanted to run 11:39 for 3000 metres, but could only manage 12:26. Are times that important? Yes. And no. Enjoying racing and training is important to me, and I had fun with both. It was also my good fortune to meet some new friends, while trying to keep up with the old ones — they all run so fast! Here's to more of the same in 2010, and here's to you too — may you enjoy a year of happy and successful running.

Us and the cousinsJan, Jane, Ewen, Wendy (Granny Lulu), Graeme, Dot, Nathan, Rob, Sherry, Claire, Mike, Catriona, Col

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


It's been a while since I've blogged. Do I have permission to say 'It's that time of the year'? You know — parties; shopping; chat over coffee; BBQs; running. My apologies in advance for absent comments on your blogs for the next few weeks. I'll still be reading, so keep writing!

We all have our preferred race distances. For many of my readers, it's the marathon. I like track races — from 800 to 5000 metres. Of those, my favourite these days would have to be the 3000 — short enough to need some speed, yet long enough to require endurance. In spite of my love of track, I've habitually run one long race during each of the past six years. It's Australia's major trail race — The Six Foot Track 45k 'Marathon'. If you have a spare 10 minutes, this video will give you some idea of why Six Foot is so popular.

The 2009 race was fully subscribed over a month prior to the March race weekend (there's an 850 runner limit). I arrived home from work on December 1 (online registration for the 2010 race opened at one minute after midnight), to find the race had 'sold out' by mid-morning. Six Foot had out-Bostoned the Boston Marathon for popularity! So I'm out. I'll have to console myself with frequent track racing for the remainder of the summer season and regular coffee talk-fests with friends after training.

I hope everyone has had fun with their year of running. Catch you all (if I'm fast enough) in January.

The swim leg is one of my favourite parts of Six Foot!Crossing the Cox's River in 2005

I finish this year in 6 hours 23 minutes!A low-five coming up in 2009. After 45k, am I permitted to be a heel-striker?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Wanting Comes In Waves

I did a boy-thing last week — made a bet with Steve on the outcome of the Vets' 5000 metre race. If he managed to lap me, he'd win a beer. I thought I was safe. Surely Steve's tired ultra-running legs would struggle for track speed and he'd run about 20:30. Therefore I'd need to clock 22:15 — a time I was confident of running.

Now then, I'm very serious about track races — my PBs in this most universal of racing locations mean the most to me. I didn't think the beer-bet would come into play. So, it came as quite a shock when I heard Steve's pitter-pattering feet closing fast when I still had a lap and 150 metres to run. Steve was on his final lap, and he drew alongside as we entered the home straight. I sprinted as if the beer up for grabs would be my last! We ran shoulder-to-shoulder towards the 'finish', but the bastard got the better of me in the final metres. He'd run 20:10! Feeling sheepish and deflated, I then dragged a pair of protesting legs around my last lap for a time of 21:59. Although losing the beer, I was happy enough that running 30 seconds faster later in the season seems possible.

The above video is a day in the life of Jennifer Barnes, produced by her loving husband Zach. I've been reading Jen's blog for a couple of years (we have similar running PBs). She's raced the Boston Marathon, and is now an Ironman. A warning though — have some tissues handy, if like me, you're touched by emotional stories. Yes I admit it, there was moisture in my eyes.