Tuesday, 30 October 2007

As i turn back time

With injuries and now a cold (i'd say that's my 5th since the Australian 100K Championships in Mid June, i think the body has had it for the year running wise), taking there toll, finally got a chance to work out how to download my video of the Western States 100 Miler. Unfortunately, although only 6.5 minutes long it is way too big to put anywhere bar on my pc hard drive, so had to play around to make it loadable. Making the file smaller meant i lost all dialogue in this version (not a bad thing as i cringe at my cockiness prior to the race essentially because i wasn't going to say exactly what i thought at the time - which would have been along the lines of "i've been as sick as a dog all week and need a miracle to get through i know my limits and because of that know i can do it but doubt that any medical person worth their diploma would pass me as fit to start, still it's a long way to come for a DNS so i'll be out there until someone drags me off the course" - which ended up a bit too close to the ultimate result) So i couldn't resist dubbing it with my signature tune "Start Me Up" (not the Stones greatest song, having been first recorded by them in 1975 - originally a reggae type track built around a guitar rift essentially the reverse of the classic "Brown Sugar" and with the original working titles of "Start It Up" or "Never Stop" but not released in a much rockier version until 1981 with "me" replacing the lyric "it" - nevertheless still good enough for me to put it somewhere in the middle of my top 30 Stones songs of all time), with the line "If you start me up I'll never stop" always appropriate to us Ultra runners (that's the problem i get injured i start digging out bits of Stones trivia from the deepest recesses of my memory). A big thanks to Lisa for the actual camera work, just a shame i wasn't out there longer so that possibly we could have got some more footage. As for me and Western States, here we are 5 months down the track and i don't regret going to the US for it, but very unlike me i don't (and even more strangely for me) and haven't in any of that time since, have a burning passion to go back and get revenge on that course. There is a little of me say's if i wanted to go back i'd do it totally different, pretty much just rock up on the Friday and run on the Saturday (and avoid the hype) but frankly i'd be happy just to do some other Ultras over there when i get the chance, was surprised just how much i enjoyed the US (well California at least) and with the number of Ultras there not a hard thing to do (damn that means at some future date there will be a new AussieRunner blog just don't hold your breath :-)).
Anyway at present refuse to plan ahead racewise, first to recover from injuries and then i guess we'll see what happens. It'll feel strange this Melbourne Cup long weekend, the last 17 years have been either the 4 Peaks Run (9 times) in Bright or the Three Bays Marathon in Portland (7 times) the only time in recent history i've haven't raced was injured and living in Sydney back in 1995, at least i've got a good gig to enjoy on Friday night James Reyne & Mark Seymour.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Looks like my racing year is pretty much over

Having rather less than intelligently run the Brindabella Classic
on the weekend looks as though my racing year is close to over (at best a Kurrawa to Duranbah 50K, simply because it's just down the road for me).
I think my race report sums it up pretty well:

I think to some degree i needed to do this run simply to give me a reality check as to where i was in terms of GNW & C2K, so i definitely don't regret running yesterday as it certainly gave me that feedback in no uncertain manner.
Somehow i think i should have realised from Saturday morning that this wasn't going to be my weekend as it started off with 25 minutes just to get from one side of Caulfield race course to the other in the car (Never thought they'd be doing things with Cup traffic at 8AM !), and then once i'd made it to Robert's (who i was driving up with) suburb i then discovered his street didn't exist in my 1995 Melways so spent lot's of time driving around (and i'll make no comments about mobile coverage in suburbia !).
Finally we got there, first and probably last time i'll stay at the Embassy (ought to stick to Quenbayan), room was too hot too sleep and wedding reception meant that really didn't get to sleep till near midnight (the only positive being that i caught up with a number of running mates at a dinner organised by last years winner Martin Fryer - who was unfortunately injured so not running this years event but still manning an aid station. Good food, but i reckon i could have easily had a second serve of Spag Bol, washed down by a very nice locally brewed beer).
After that rather less than fantastic Saturday i was hoping for a better Sunday, wasn't too fussed about the heat but did have the injury worries in my mind.
Interesting bus trip, particularly the hole we got in the bus just before the top !!! - we had a large stick poke through.
Certainly the road was rougher than i can ever recall in 10 downhill Brindys, so was very careful watching where i put my feet making me a little slower but other than that seemed to be all right.
Once we were back on tracks was feeling good, so after being passed by the group with Horrie earlier, i caught up and then decided to put a bit of speed on as i was definitely planning to take it easy on the ups. That worked for a while, but then at around 20K's, the right knee just "locked" on me momentarily and that was essentially my race over, hard to explain but the muscles in that leg seemed to spasm upwards to the side of the hip and from then on my whole body was out of whack.
My guess is sciatic nerve, as the calf problems in my left leg are related to it and i have a decent idea of how it affects me but i will need to get it checked out.
From there onwards it was a case of only being able to do what my body let me in terms of movement.
Had a chat with Kerry, the first lady, on the way down from Bulls Head and seemed to find a bit of running ability (at a guess my strides were about half there usual length), probably just my typical racing mentality meant i did feel the pain for a little while so had to use that while it lasted.
Absolutely broke down with around 15K's to go, me and Mick Corlis taking turns to walk, run and mainly hobble and from then on can't say i've ever enjoyed running downhill so little.
Was passed by numerous runners and totally frustrated when i was no longer even able to walk decently (it was more crablike), was not happy watching walkers streaking away from me , but by now finishing was my one goal.
Didn't enjoy the climb over the gate (had thoughts of me being stuck there for a while with one leg on either side), but once over knew it was mainly downhill and tried to run. "Tried to run" was the operative word as sometimes i could and sometimes the body just stopped pretty much seized up.
Best i can say is my PW here is now just under 6 Hours by 15 seconds, don't reckon i've ever been so happy to see a finish line as the last couple of starts.
Would have loved to have stayed around and had a longer yarn, but had to head back as i knew that sitting in a car was going to be rather hard knowing how the muscles were so was expecting numerous stops.
As usual well organised and a great course but the fact that the minimum temperature recorded at Mt Ginini (the start) was 10.1 (usually it would struggle to be zero) always meant that with minimal tree cover the last half (because of the bushfires)it was going to get hot and be a hard one (apparently it reached the forecast 31 degrees), meant it was inevitable there would be a few dnf's, with 33 finishers from the original field of 37 and me in a very ugly 20th place just over 2 hours behind the winner.

Was very thankful Robert did all the driving on the way back as i had enough problems just lying in the car seat, and by the time we'd got back to his place (after 10), was happy to stay the night (even happier to have half a pre ordered pizza washed down with a VB before turning in).
At the moment i am being treated by a manipulative physiotherapist, if amount of pain caused during treatment is anything to go by i must be well on my way to being fixed, but certainly running seems out the question the next few weeks, personally i'm more worried about what effect it will have on my plans for next year but on a more serious note first i have to be able to run (walking is a struggle at present).
One more blog post to go as sooner or later i will complete a Melbourne Marathon report,

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Trust a German runner to do a blog of the race with great pictures.

I've, just had the following blog passed onto me, although it's in German (hey i'm trying to sort out exactly the comments where i'm mentioned actually mean :-)), it's got some great pictures and has brought back so many memories i thought it was worth passing it on (unfortunately blogger refuses to show these links if i put them in correctly so i've just had to copy the exact links themselves):
Days 0, 1 & 2
Days 3, 4 & 5
Days 6, 7 & 8
Days 9, 10 & 11
Had to include the above picture, i'm sure some people think i've deserted the Glasshouse 100 Miler, this at least shows i was thinking of it (the T Shirt !),

The return to Australia

As the edit to my last entry mentioned i had to spend an extra day in Lorrach (no umlauts i could find on an Australian keyboard) as my accommodation in Zurich was booked for the day after, after making that edit to my last post the weather cleared. That gave me the chance to walk into two other countries, when the weather cleared, i followed the bike path along the river (The Rhine ?) into Basel (Switzerland) and seeing signs that i was only a few more K's to Huningnue (France) thought i may as well go there as well. Seems strange after running 17 days in one country that in the space of a few hours i can visit another 2.
By the time i left France it was pretty much evening, so followed the road rather than the dark bike paths, was glad when i finally saw the McDonalds (by my calculations a mile or two from the hotel), and even went in and got a cappucino and chips (ah yes the simple pleasures !!).
Only problem in the dark, what were big intersections in daylight looked no bigger than other corners and i eventually missed my turn off, thankfully decided i need to head away from the river and eventually made it to the railway, on seeing a station had a better idea of where i was and followed the line back backwards, eventually making it back around 10. So another 8 hour day on my feet (i must be nuts).
Beautiful to finally sleep in a double bed (as opposed to a sleeping bag on my air mattress), it's amazing how a stage race makes you appreciate the simple things, late breakfast and then the train to Zurich.
Shame i never did any shopping in Basel or i would have realised a problem (money), i got out of the train (the TGV from Paris to Zurich), and went straight into the supermarket and then had this shocking revelation, Switzerland doesn't use Euros !!!.
So funny enough my first stop (as threatened long ago in this blog), was at a bank, needed to change Euros into Swiss Francs.
Thankfully my hotel was nearby, right above a disco actually that explains why the rooms were cheap !, and just happy to collapse upon my bed and have a rest (unfortunately my suitcases, although now without the weight of the air mattresses, still added up to around 27 KG's).
Not sure if it's the fact that your body is now used to being on it's feet for hours everyday or whether i'm just a cheapskate tourist, but the next two days were spent walking all over Zurich. Saturday it's a look around the city proper (and a bit of window shopping - pretty sure Zurich is not a cheap city to live in), but then follow the Limmat out to the edge of suburbia (out to the grapevines)a place called Oberengstringen, lovely mountain views and in the distance the city. Walk back on the other side of the Rhine as night falls (even Doner Kebaps are expensive here), and finally back in time to hear the disco i must have slept through on the Friday night.
Sunday was off to the Zurich See, couldn't help thinking of Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin, all the footpaths are also bike paths so when i see i'm actually 15K's away from the centre of town (and still over 10K's from a place i had plans to visit real mountains from), decided to cut my losses and head up and also find some food (not easy on a Sunday believe me !).
First place i saw was a Starbucks, so rather famished ordered a "normal size" Cappucino, reckon that's the last time they ever get my business, a mug of coffee is fine, but when over half of it is foam and approx $5 (5.40 Swiss Francs), ridiculous and even then all i could get was a donut (at 1.80 CHF). Thankfully just down the road, there was a railway station and yet another Doner Kebap stand, had a slightly different one this time just what i needed. Great walk back, over the high route, no idea where i was heading but as long as the city was in front i was fine.
Thankfully the City Centre supermarket was open on Sundays (nothing else was) and even better open till 8, so just in time to buy something to make dinner and for lunch before Mondays flight back.
With a 3PM flight on Monday (scheduled to get back to Melbourne 1AM Wednesday), had a feed then thought i may as well have a look around the town by dark, alot of people about especially as the Zurich film festival is on (saw the red carpet but no stars i recognised). Shame i've never worked out how to get decent pictures in the dark, i'll just have to have them as memories.
Anyway full plane from Zurich to Dubai (somehow i had the very back seat nearest the toilets, poor fellow in the next aisle had a non working seat(they actually took the seat apart to try to fix it but couldn't and were unable to move him as all seats were taken. 2AM at Dubai and 41 degrees, walking from plane to airport bus (airport renovations meant a 10 minute bus trip to terminal), was like wandering into an oven.
Three hours in Dubai (possibly the worlds worst free airport internet computers, if they worked the odds were the characters were rubbed off the keyboards - i'm no touch typist !), and then Melbourne via Singapore.
An hour stop at Singapore (and unlike the trip there we had to get off the plane), with 20 minutes to get out the plane (again i was at the back but this time with a window seat), and then a queue of another 20 minutes to go through the machines etc to go back on (me i never cared whether i saw Changi airport again, i'd had a gutful of it last year !!!), so maybe a chance for a real toilet break.
Finally back at Melbourne 1:45 AM, and by the time i'd cleared customs etc, was home at around 3:30, only a few days to recover for the Melbourne Marathon (above is the article that had been in the local paper while i was away), now that's another story (and probably a good way to finish this blog).