Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Somewhat better

After Sunday's performance and the fact that i was still stuffed the next couple of days (and still had that cold to some degree), i'd waited eagerly to do at least one longish run this week, just to see whether Sunday was just one of those days or whether i did have a few problems with a hard May, June, July & August ahead of me running wise. So with half a day available this arvo went out and ran north, got bit of a feeling for the Australian 100K Championships in June (still convinced the new 4 lap format will bore me to tears by race end) doing most of the course although i did take the North Burleigh Hill (the old course) simply to get a bit of hill work.
Great day for a run along the beach and then back through Broadbeach and ultimately following the Bermuda St Bike Path. Quite happy ultimately 3:02 of running and did just over 32K's and still felt good and fresh, all i needed was a litre of mixed cordial when i got in and i was fine, possibly i should have booked that flight for Wilsons Prom this weekend ??.
In short, seem to be back to where i was, the cold still lingers but no effect on me today and felt like i could have gone much further (and faster).

Monday, 28 April 2008

The Cold wins by knockout

After a week of recovery from my cold, thought i was finally ready for a run, had a good walk along the beach on ANZAC Day (after the beachfront service at Currumbin's Elephant Rock) and by Sunday was dying to get back on the road.
Was awake too late to run down the the Gold Coast Runners, so took it easy and finally headed off at 10, beautiful morning and looked as though it could have been warmer than usual so ideal for a solid hitout.
Best summed up this way, ran nicely for the first 22K's and then just hit the wall, by the time i'd hit the Tally Valley Connection Rd / Trees Road intesection my body had just had it and possibly stupidly i decided i'd head off to the flat of Kornhauser Park and then see how i was after walking up the back trails to Westminster Blvd (pretty much my reverse standard run), basically just got worse and was very appreciative of walking slowly up the trails. Was hoping that the downhills of Westminster and Cornwall would have got me moving but instead struggled and really didn't the enjoy last stretch up to Simpsons Rd.
Even the rolling downhill run of Simpsons didn't inspire and by the time i'd reached the bottom of the hill was really battling to walk, so it was a very tough last 2 K's. Pretty much staggered in the front door and grabbed a bottle of Solo out of the fridge and collapsed into my recliner, definitely not feeling well and just needing to lie down. And that was me for the next hour, a litre of Solo and two donuts and i felt a little more human or at least enough to head off to the shower.
Still can't explain why i was that bad but i'd guess the cold had knocked me about, also worth noting that i'd been 67KG during the week and after this run i was down to 64.7KG quite possibly i was dehydrated certainly not good.
Decided easiest way to put a bit of weight on quick was beer, and remembering very good local blues band Mason Rack were on at the local SLSC decided that was the place to be.
Apparently the Club had managed to double book so instead we had a solo performer Mark Divola, but considering i could hear him singing "Honky Tonk Women" thought it was at least worthwhile to pop in and have that beer or two. Great show, lots of familiar songs (including Satisfaction) as well as a few songs from his mate Roscoe with "The band played Waltzing Matilda" being a very appropriate performance at this time of year.
Back in time to hear the last of the Richmond match (unfortunately no Fox Sports 1 there to watch it live) and i was at least feeling better, only shows i'm not indestructible and i think that the 100Ks at the Prom on Saturday is not a good idea, better saving myself for Grafton to Coffs the week after.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Which came first ????

In theory i should have funnily done my race report on the 24 Hours, but have simply been not been well enough the last few days to spend 40 odd minutes comfortably in front of a computer. Logically most people would conclude that i'm still feeling effects from the run but actually it's a damned cold, firstly i'm not sure whether i was coming down with a cold before the race or whether i just pushed my body into it during the race (i keep thinking of the chill i was feeling after running 15 2 minute laps wearing a polypropylene top and jumper and sweating heavily only to find that heavy dew had made my change of dry, warm clothes no longer warm or dry so having to remain in what i had on), so have been through the sniffle, the sneeze, the sore throat and the chesty cough and hopefully am almost through it.
With a 9:30AM Flight to Melbourne, i knew i'd have plenty of time to walk down to the airport as my last bit of training on the Friday morning but by the time i was half there the heavens had opened up, so sheltering under the Tugun shops i was quite content to catch the bus the rest of the way (a princely $1). Knowing that Tiger was at a completely new terminal (read tin shed at the fair end of Coolangatta), decided i may as well get off a stop early (rather than take the airport shuttle which goes nowehere fast), good theory as it meant all i had to do was cross the GC Highway and go back a block but didn't realise the rain was now very heavy and ended up at Tiger check in looking like a drowned rat (just thankful i didn't wait for lights crossing the Hwy !!). Good flight down, not overly full and i had two empty seats beside me, meant i could have a lie down, arrive at Tulla on schedule to find a pleasant sunny (only 19 degrees) day and after picking up my luggage the hike to the other end of Tulla. Unfortunately the Skybus queue was like one for concert tickets and something like half an hour later was on the bus and in the city by 1:30. Decided it best to get rid of my luggage at Athletics Australia (and to check the time of the AURA AGM) and then headed down to my favourite cheap pizza place in Chapel Street (nothing like a Caesar Pizza with eggs and large lettuce leaves freshly made), resisted the temptation for a beer (it is a pub after all) and made it back for the AGM at 3:30.
At that time of day we were struggling to make a quorum with me, Rob Boyce and Mick Francis in person, and the AURA President on speakerphone caught out by his flight from the Coast being cancelled (obviously the weather had deteriorated back home).
South Australian David Billett turned up a little later (he was to run Coburg but injury had forced him out but he still had the flights) and we had a meeting, nothing too unexpected, except that i am now a Queensland AURA rep (being well known is a positive for the position but being out the country for 3 months won't help much !!).
It was then off to Curly Joes Restaurant in Brunswick for the pre race Carbo load, unfortunately with only me and David going there it meant public transport, so ultimately with his travelcard expiring at 5 meant we had a nice little 5K walk from Lonsdale St to the restaurant, bit of a walk down memory lane as i recalled many runs at Royal Park and Princes Park and probably a good way to work up an appetite.
Lots of familiar faces, and a very good feed of Penne Bolognaise for me as well as Garlic Bread. Was lucky that fellow Gold Coaster Geoff Last and his wife had a car and were staying at a nearby motel so that i got a lift to the Harold Stephens Athletics Track where i was to spend the night. A number of tents up and some familiar faces so a few quick giddays a cup of coffee and then off to my sleeping bag for hopefully a good pre race sleep.
As usual slept as well in my bag (if not better) than in my bed at home so was awake by 7:30 with plenty of time for the 10'O'Clock Start.
Brought a couple of chairs out trackside to put my clothes and food (7 Muesli Bars, 2 GU's, 1 Powerbar, 3 Bananas, 3 iced buns and a pack of lollies) on and i was pretty much ready to go, looked like being a lovely warm day.
Very consistent first few hours, spent alot of it just watching Tim Cochrane fly past repeatedly, but was making sure i drank every twenty minutes and ate every hour. Nothing spectacular but did the marathon in under 4 (as opposed to Tim's 3 HR) and it was looking like Tim, Mick Francis, David Eadie & John Pearson as the pace setters and me, Geoff Last, Scott Orchard, Danny Hooley, Dave Sutherland as the second group with time ultimately telling as to what would happen.
My highlight of the first part was definitely a choc top soft serve ice cream bought from the Ice Cream Van about 4 hours in (thanks to Deanne Nobbs crewing for Tim).
After 6 Hours i had just over 60K's down so i'd definitely backed off a little but was very comfortable and felt as though i could keep going like that for a long time but by now the sun was on it's way down and i knew this was where i'd have to be careful (nothing to do with the fact there was a full moon and bearded me was probably the most werewolfish looking competitor !!). Once the sun was set, it was off with the legionnaires cap (which i'd changed into after 3 hours) and back to the headband (good way to keep ears and forehead warm) and a polypropylene top, for the time being i'd stick to the shorts as usually my legs are last to feel the cold.
Once it got cooler i eventually put the yellow track suit pants (not trusting running in Skins i'm quite sure they affected my legs adversely using them in my only other 24 Hour run), beanie and my large blue gloves (using them as they are rather less tight on the hands than the racing gloves) - definitely making a fashion statement of some sort (like what not to wear :-)).
Aftre a while i'd found that my sciatic nerve was feeling very tight, i concluded that it was the constant going round in circles so i thought it was worth the risk of heading off track and getting a rub down. The Masseur Michael i can recall from Centurion Walks and i know he does more naturopath type stuff so wasn't sure i'd get an exact fix but knew a 15 minute lie down and some work on muscles could only do me good.
Went back out feeling good, but not long till again i was struggling very tight between the hips and back to a walk. Thought it was worthwhile to see if a re-do would help (he'd said that now my muscles were fixed they'd need to be retweaked a little later), but was told that first i'd be better off resting, probably the one thing not to say to me !!!! (basically rest was going to be the thing i'd do at the end of 24 Hours), so it was back out onto to the track.
At this point my recollections are a little hazy, i know i'd backed down to only 6K's an hour walking and i'd been given some pasta with meat sauce by Deanne as well as some chicken soup but simply seemed to have slowed to a point of no return.
At 12 Hours had done only 97.6 K's and i was beginning to worry that if i slowed further i'd do the whole 24 Hours and still not make 100 Miles as i'd simply run out of speed.
A bit later it was getting cooler so decided i'd risk 15 minutes and head in for a rub with the physio and some hot food and drink. A not particularly gentle rub, but thankfully right on the sorest muscles and then a potato pie, followed by pumpkin soup and i was ready again. Not sure what the temperature had dropped to (lowest for Tulla Airport was 6.7 so probably something similar) but it was no very cold and i found after a few cautious laps that i'd better now put my fleece top on (as well as putting on Nike Free 3.0's to replace my ASICS DS Trainers), good theory but i wasn't to know that a couple of laps later i'd be back to two minute laps and after 15 or so of them i was dripping sweat. So it was off with the jumper and then finding my dry clothes were wet from the heavy dew, so was rather chilly for a while there. One thing i had noticed was silence and was thankful when David Eadie suggested his crew put some music on just what i needed.
I mightn't have quite hit the dancefloor but was singing along with Meatloafs "Bat Out of Hell" and a couple of Cold Chisel songs and really started to feel back into it again, that was definitely what was needed.
Eventually the music stopped (some sort of curfew after all it is a residential neighbourhood), so i was back to singing to myself (everything from the Stones "Start Me Up" and "Star Star" to The Bosses "Born to Run" and a helluva lot in between), just thankful for the other competitors i don't sing loud when running!!!.
I'd now put bit of a safety barrier between me and the 100 Miles, basically worked out how many laps i'd done at the end of the lap and how many more required and soon enough i was now working on having to do 2K's an hour (so essentially all i had to do was remain on the track and remain vertical). In the the meantime tearaway leader Tim Cochrane had slowed down and ultimately had pulled out with ITB problems at 186 K's (approx 50K's in front of me !!!), Mick Francis had been gradually grinding him down and was now in front, with another early leader David Eadie having injury problems and heading off for a rest as he could now see 200K's wasn't achievable this time. It had become a war of attrition, Robert Boyce (with a best last year of over 200K's) hadn't been having a great day and after catching up with me had then gone off for a rest as had 206K runner Rob Ware and former winner Garry Wise had headed off earlier as well, so it was Mick, John and the ever enduring Geoff Last (seemingly going round and round at the same tempo throughout as the leaders fell away) and apparently (i didn't realise it till after the race as i was wasn't really taking much notice of the 12 Hour race runners lapwise) Sharon who had won the 12 Hour race and decided to upgrade to the 24 Hour (certainly a brave action).
Somewhere around the 21:15 i hit the 100 miles, frankly i doubted i had much motivation left but now the sun was out and first thing was to see what i could do in 22 Hours (the time i was on the track at the Gold Coast 24), although now i can't remember what that distance was.
By then i was back in Singlet, shorts and headband and happy to walk a steady 7K's an hour, walked with Rob Ware for the best part of an hour and had a good chat, seemed we both needed to take our minds off the track and by 23 Hours i saw i'd a reasonable shot at 180 (and would need it to keep Danny and David at bay), so a couple more walk laps and then judged i could handle 40 minutes, shame i forgot to have a drink !!! (had drank half a drink bottle of sportsdrink at 22:30).
From then on it was consitent 2 minute laps and by the time our 24 Hours were up a little under 2, ultimately giving me 181.639 K's (112.8 Miles), enough i thought for 5th overall (not realising Sharon had upgraded to 24 Hours till Monday didn't curse and regret not running that whole last hour at that pace rather than just the last 40 Minutes until the next day, simply didn't think there was any point as i knew 180 would be the next milestone and was going off the leaderboard placewise not noticing other changes to it).
Totally stuffed when finished and took the next 20 odd minutes to drag my carcase back to the clubrooms, a shower and then a lie down in the sleeping bag was really all i needed, sitting or standing just weren't options. Ultimately missed most of the presentations (and i think i still owe some people money for food !!! - we'll sort that out next time), and finally the long day was over.
Lift back to the Tullamarine - thanks Brett - (and a 4 hour wait for my plane, lovely nachos at the Irish Pub washed down by a beer) and finally homeward bound.
No walking home that night, straight across the highway to the bus stop and 10 minutes later i was on my way and about 10 minutes further on happily at home.
Still convinced this will be the last 24 Hour Track race for me as i find the track finds too many little niggles that you'd normally not get when doing a race on a road or trail, but i'll never say totally never and still reckon one day i'm capable of the Centurion Walk.

Monday, 21 April 2008

181.639 Kilometres in 24 Hours

Report will follow in next couple of days, very flat (my body isn't made for running in a circle for that period of time) and with a very cold night i feel like i'm coming down with a cold.
Best thought is now i have a 100 Mile PB (21:15 ?? - beating my trail PB by an hour), so really i have nothing left to prove in track races so can go back to doing the sort of Ultras i enjoy.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Close but no Sub Three

After my last post here, i headed off for a shave and 30 minutes later i was beardless just the feeling i needed for a fast marathon. With a 2 o'clock flight to Canberra there was a rather unsettled feeling as well, i'd have much rather been there or on my way under my own steam. Ultimately ended up having my most relaxed wait for a plane ever !!, made some sandwiches and put them and a towel in my carry on baggage, and walked the 7K's down to Coolangatta, put my other luggage in and checked in and then went over the road to Bilinga Beach and had a paddle (still very iffy about the calf so bathing it in cold water seemed a good idea).
Got back just in time to board more relaxed than usual, very small plane (an E370 holding only 76 passengers first time i've had a seat over the wings but no emergency exit). We actually hit Canberra 15 minutes early, i'd certainly never seen the place from the air before so it was all pretty new to me, was fortunate to bump into a couple of Gold Coast Road Runners as we had a chat and i mentioned i'd forgot to put any heat rub in thankfully he had a tube almost finished i could use.
Picked up the hire car and then listened to the footy as i had a mate from Melbourne coming in 45 minutes later and i was going to give him a lift to the number pick up and expo.
Picked up my number and "bag with stuff" and was a bit embarassed to find i was number 44, definitely not running well enough to be ranked that highly (and one year too young for it to be my age !).
Garry Wise, who had crewed for me at Coast to Kosi in 2005 and was now living near Darwin and had come up by car from Melbourne, was to share the accommodation at my old Quenbeyan "home away from home" The Village Cabins so picked him up and did some shopping before checking in.
Canned Bolognaise Sauce and Spaghetti may noy have been quite gourmet but pretty well exactly what us ultra runners need (as well as a cup of coffee).
Early start and i woke up before the alarm set for 5, and by 6 we were off, we were driving towards rather menacing lighting but i was hoping that it was weather heading away.
Spent the next 45 minutes chatting with people and by the time the 10 minute call came found it was raining, far from ideal.
Started in drizzle and very comfortable conditions (the cloud meaning not too cold) and felt really into it and focussed always a good sign, and was doing a very comfortable (and relatively fast pace), at one point didn't realise i was running in a group with former Olympic Marathon runner Pat Carroll (who is nowadays a coach and was running an hour or so) and when he pointed out to our group that we were running a little too fast and if we just wanted to break 3, i couldn't resist a comment along the lines of "i've never worn a watch in 133 marathons so pacing isn't something i'm interested in" (it may be true but you don't tell that to blokes who have done marathons 40 odd minutes faster than you can !!). Lap of Parliament House and all was still good, was surprised to pass Canberra Legend Trevor Jacobs (winner of the first ever 50K Option - a race put on for him to have a shot at a world record which he achieved) and really felt on my game.
At some point the rain stopped and it suddenly was cooler, this ultimately was my downfall, once cooler my hands were numb with cold and frankly i was feeling ordinary and i knew i was wasting alot of energy trying to stay warm (sometimes a problem for me). This went on for around 5K's and i'd guess i lost a couple of minutes off my time (i'd say i was 20 seconds slower per K), but once the sun came out i was pretty much back to right.
Lots of familiar faces, both in the run and amongst the spectators, gave me a great boost and heading back towards the turn (25K's ?) still appeared to have some speed left.
Was running amongst a group and constantly changing places which was great in the competitive sense as i definitely need to race rather than just run.
With no idea of the time (and apparently no 3 Hour pace group), felt like i was about right, but with the drinks at the 38K mark (just off the bridge) on the other side of the road thought i'd save as much distance as possible and miss out on them, possibly not a great move as i was really drained and in need of a drink at the last aid station, in short my dreams were shattered when i turned the corner (42K) to see 3 Hours just ticking over and i'm sure any pictures of me in that last 195 Metres show me looking pretty miserable (and i'm hoping there are no lip readers as my thoughts uttered as i went up that straight were essentially "F***, F****, You get the idea), i could have sworn i went under the clock in 3:00:19 (possibly i just took my eyes off it and swore from then to the finish line ???), but officially i finished in 3:00:31 (and 7 seconds faster on chip time).
Simply this meant instead of my 134th Marathon i'd be heading off and finishing my 196th Ultra, no option but do the 50K, had no motivation the first couple of K's but ultimately passed one runner and eventually was 12th of 115 in that event in a time of 3:42:47. Best i can say was that it was a 50K PB on that course (which was logical as the previous 3 times i'd done the 50K i'd done slower marathons).
Definitely not happy with the performance as i realised this was more than likely my only realistic shot at a Sub 3 in 2008 (a 4 week rest after Trans Gaule may mean i come back rested, fit and fired up for the Melbourne Marathon but anything can happen in 6 months !).
Chatted with many people (with 1,000 marathon runners get the feeling at least a third new me by name and me them by sight !!) and come the six hour mark the heavens openened up and hail fell, was very thankful i wasn't still running.
On fleeing to the dry of the hall was rather shocked to find i had a trophy waiting for me, third AURA Member in the 50K's (as the above pic shows really i don't need any more trophies just what i did i need was another Sub 3 !!), so in theory the day wasn't a complete waste.
A Cappucino, 2 cheeseburgers and a serve of chips at the Kingston McDonalds and now i was back to feeling good and so off to the Rydges Post Marathon Drinks and my first beer for a week, and a chance to catch up with some other good friends.
Having to leave early as my hire car was due back at 4, had a few hours to kill at the airport but thankfully had a chat with an Adelaide runner and then a fellow and his wife from Melbourne who had helped me at the Frankston to Portsea run in 2004 (and i can't at this point remember their names !!!).
Coolangatta by 9:30 and by the time i'd walked home finally i was feeling more content.
Bodysurf down the beach this morning (and a paddle in the Currumbin Creek Lagoon, many people would pay good money to swim with dolphins, but with one very close to me this morning what was going to be a swim turned into a paddle i'm just not into swimming around dorsal fins !!!) and the body feels good, it'll be a 4 day taper until Saturdays 24 Hour Race.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

It's showtime !

With a fairly busy week, i thought i might have a real taper and actually not run the whole week, but of course that running addiction is not one to go cold turkey easily, so by Thursday it was one last "safety" run.
Basically wanted 20K's and flattish to small undulations more or less like the Canberra Marathon, so headed out the back and avoided the temptation of the long, steep hills by using some of the long drives around Elanora. After getting lost somewhere through the industrial area of Currumbin (it's easy to get out of the industrial area by crossing the creek and making it to houses although i've yet to work out how the people in those houses get out of that area ????), had made it to the beach by 14K's and it looked as though there was a storm heading north from Coolangatta. By then i had a little niggle in my right calf (an occasional problem i've had ever since doing the 2005 Coast To Kosi, and one i can usually sort with a few stretches), so ignored it and worried more about the downpour that i'd be struggling to beat in. Typically the heavens opened up very soon after and by Currumbin even the gutters were flooding, at the moment Currumbin Beach is being used as "Malibu Beach" California for a movie "Goblin Shark Attack" complete with US Style life saving building on the beach but obviously there are no storm scenes in this (apparently a sci-fi thriller to be completed at Dreamworld once filming here is over) as all the cast and crew were huddled under tarpaulins (or in the stars caravans) trying to stay dry as i sloshed past.
Once along Currumbin Creek Rd, the rain eased but this gave me more time to feel my calf, not great i fear, still 20 and a bit K's at easy 4:50 K pace was pretty much what i was wanting, so overall reasonably content.
Friday, no run (and still no booze at least that part of the taper stays intact !), and spent a little time in the evening bathing that calf in the cold sea.
Calf feels less sore this morning though may end up having a paddle before i fly off this arvo.
Having grown a beard specially for extra heat for Badwater training, i'm now in a quandary, though not superstitious i know i've never ran 3 three with a beard (back in the late 80's i'd never run sub 3 anyway but that's another story), so i think today it'll probably go and i'll be shaved down for a fast time at Canberra.
So picture above is probably not the man that people will see at Canberra later today (well unless someones casting for Ned Kelly :-)), i'm sure eventually some race pics (or post race pics) will show whether that is the case).
Onwards to Canberra Marathon number 14 !!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Finally a decent run

Having had some glimpses of decent racing form (as opposed to just running to finish) in Tassie, i was looking forward to backing up for the Waterworld Red Rocks to Coffs Harbour Ultra .
After all the steep hills and technical tracks of Tassie in theory nothing could be easier than a nice flat run along a beach, all i was hoping was that the weather was better than lasy years "45K's all the way into a gale", my first shot at this run.
Unlike last year, where i had to drive 1,200Ks from Melbourne after finishing Trailwalker, this year would find me with an easy, relaxing 3 1/2 hour drive south so left just before lunch with the intention of getting down for the recce of the headlands, typically forgetting daylight saving realised that wasn't going to happen once i got 5K's down the road and over the border and found it to be an hour later.
Lovely sunny day and one of my favourite stretches of highway, not often i can really claim to be happy to behind the wheel but this was one of those rare days. Picked up my post office box mail on the way through meaning i even had a CD to listen to (Shari's newly released second album "Down the Road" ) - i tend to wander off track enough in this blog without doing album reviews but will admit that despite being a little less "Blues" and more "Southern Rock" orientated on this release than either live or on her previous album found my drive passed rapidly as i got into the music and enjoyed her memorably soulful, crystal clear voice with its incredibly versatile vocal range as well as very good, sometimes quirky, lyrics.
By Grafton thought i'd better take my mind of the music and think about petrol as i'd noticed the rising prices as i went further south but thankfully, with petrol warning light flashing, i had enough to make it to my usual cheap servo half way between Grafton & Coffs, and then to find a motel at Woolgoolga and bit of a walk around the beach when i arrived (the picture is Woolgoolga Back Beach a point somewhere in the first half of the race), seeing i'd already done a dozen K's earlier that morning a run definitely wasn't needed.
By 6 headed off to the Pasta Party only to find a Angie Grattan and a group of Queenslanders heading the other way and to be told this was now at the Caravan Park where a busload of runners were staying but that Steel would be down to check in runners at 6:30.
Wandered past the pasta place a couple of times and no sign of anyone and then i see Brisbane runner Michael Schultz turn up (last year we had been the first two to arrive at Red Rock and had looked around in the dark trying to find the start which unbeknown to us was just around the corner).
6:30 Steel arrived and by then Geelong Ultra legend Peter Gray and some other runners had turned up (not realising one, Sean Williams, was to be the winner the next day), so we checked in and had our numbers written on our arms (just thankful we don't have to hand our numbers in after for spot prizes) and a description of the course and any pitfalls that may have been awaiting us gone through.
Us smaller group had the all you can eat pasta, pizza and dessert, great feed and good company as we swapped running yarns and by 8:30 it was time to head back and have a good nights sleep.
No need for headlamps this time for our start on the beach as dawn was breaking, but it also meant that i could see just how little beach there was with three hours to low tide possibly the stormy summer had washed some of the course away.
Started slowly as i struggled to stay out of the water as i tended to run too close to get away from the very soft sand. The leaders had well and truly slipped out of view and i'd have been pushing to be in the top 15, managed to time one wave so that i had a head high sea bath and this was only a few K's in, really didn't look like being my day.
The first section would be around 10K's and whilst very soft and not great running it did at least mean i got into some sort of rhythm and by the first drink stop was feeling more like racing than i had the year so far. Once the waist deep creek was crossed was glad to find firmer sand and a beautiful sunrise and found i was starting to put some distance between myself and runners that had been around me and ultimately found myself a target to chase in the form of a fellow in red shorts who i was to find out later was Andi Aman.
The next few k's were essentially spent chasing him and eventually i passed him, at this point really enjoying the beach running, and now had local legend Jim Bennington (Course record holder as well as record holder for number of starts here) in my sights. What i was finding by now was i'd make up ground on the beach and then lose it as i clumsily got over the headlands and this was my undoing, after one such occurence i was back behind Andi with Jim behind us and we appeared to have a choice of a treachorous rock climb or an ocean swim of unknown distance. I followed Andi up the rocks but he turned back as we appeared to dead end but fortunately with Jim knowing every inch of this course he told us to follow him.
Best thing i can say is we did follow, i often felt i was going to lose grip and be washed out to sea or plunge of a cliff face but the fact there were three of us (although both rapidly getting away from me, i'm definitely no mountain goat) was reassuring that we were doing the right thing.
I don't reckon i have ever been so happy to see a stretch of sand as when we finally reached the end of the headland and hit beach (the leaders had swum the headland ironman style i found out later, but also heard that many of the later runners had a very exciting time here), but by now was a good K or so behind the other 2 and could see them in the distance. Again my superior beach running meant i caught up with them, but Andi's daredevil approach to running down thin, steep headlands meant each time they were back in front of me post Headland.
Made sure i followed the course correctly at Sapphire (did miss a ribbon but for the last time Andi was behind me and pointed it out, after that a couple of trails and he was away not to be seen till the end).
Once we hit Diggers Beach i could see Jim in front but looking out of reach, but still chasing is what i do best, ultimately ended up in sixth place in 3:53:02 35 seconds behind him (a massive PB, admittedly in much better conditions than last years windswept 4:13:12) and 2:54 behind Andi, with Sean and defending champion Steve Sayers having a great battle way in front (Sean 3:26:21, Steve 3:27:46 with Armidale runner Michael Smart 10 minutes behind). Basically the perfect way to finish a run was straight off into the sea and have a swim, beautiful sunny day and already lots of people on the beach, certainly idyllic and enough to erase memories of last years cold, wet & windy event !!.
A hot shower followed by coffee, cakes and sandwiches and lots of chat sums up the rest of the afternoon as the remainder field of 64 slowly made their way in.
Peter Gray, with an early start, did as planned as beat his 7 hours by 58 seconds and our last runners (also with early starts) were in before 10 hours were up.
Great food and great hospitality really make this one of those little "must do at least once" races and i know i'll be back again, big thanks to Steel and Lyn for organising.
By 4 Steel gave me a lift back to the start, meaning i was home by 7 (QLD time), end of a really good day (although to find Richmond had lost to North Melbourne was not ideal when turning on the tv news !).
Now for a taper until Canberra Marathon, certainly my speed on the flat gives me new hope of a sub 3 Marathon there, two longish runs later in the week (24K and 33K's, made necessary as by Tuesday was feeling the sciatic nerve problem a little so really felt i needed to test it - thankfully came through with flying colours) but now with one week to go it'll be no booze and no running of a serious nature until Sunday

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Three Peaks - The Conclusion

Most people reading this blog would have a fair idea of who i am and what races i've done over the years so would wonder why a race over 131 K's spaced over 3 runs would be such a challenge to me ?. I think it can be best summed up by the uncertainty, you get into a boat and at some point you get out and run you have no control over when that may be and in the meantime still have worries like "will i get seasick?" (i still don't know the answer to that one as i've never worked out what the symptoms are !), "should i be sleeping now ?" (an interesting question to ask yourself in the middle of a glorious day) and similar.
Normally when you do stage races the answers are easy, you wake, you have breakfast, you run and then finish, maybe have a massage but at least relax and then have dinner and then sleep and do all the same again, it may sound a bit like a treadmill existence but it's an easy rhythm to get into, races like Three Peaks are something totally different !.
Anyway we spent 22 Hours at sea the next leg, some of it was truly enjoyable lounging around on deck feeling like you wouldn't want to be anywhere else, beautiful sunny weather, great scenery and wonders of the natural world such as dolphins and albatrosses all around, but always at the back of the mind the thought that eventually we'd be off on - what was by memory (and doubly so if at night) - the toughest run Mount Freycinet.
About an hour before nightfall we hit Cole Bay, quick gear check and i was surprised to see Victorian runner Jane Sturzaker over as an official (back in 2005 she was the one who had brought up my name when a team was looking for a runner - i think i was thankful for that ??).
First 5K's was fading light basically long enough to do this easy road section in daylight, Clarence had got a friend to stow a couple of litre plastic bottles of water at the start of the trail as we knew water could be a problem here (going by run 1 the race organisers appeared to still have similar supplies out for runners as in previous years however this year there were twice as many so i definitely wouldn't have wanted to be last to start). Steep steps and paths sum up the start of the trail but at least it was downhill and we were making good time when crossing beautiful Wineglass Bay and were very thankful there were people at the end of the beach directing us on to the trail out and i'm sure much time could have been wasted here. From then on it was skinny, rutted, stony tracks as the mist rolled in (i know it makes it sound like some on Hammer Horrors Gothic Movie !), and the actual track to Mt Freycinet was simply a case of spotting and then following arrows not sure how much involved actually being on the trail with numerous times just clambering up rock faces and using trees. I'd remembered this was very hard in daylight last time, at night it was lots harder, but nevertheless we still completed the proclaimed "2 Hour return walk" in 40 minutes so had done pretty well.
From then on the difference of us two runners was apparent, me the lumbering runner never tiring but with no speed over technical trails and struggling by headlamp over the uneven ground and Clarence the nimble footed mountain runner as home on this ground and in this light as i would be on a road in the middle of nowhere. By the time we hit Davey Bay (the next aid bin), i'd had a couple of falls and was possibly a little shattered confidencewise as i seemed to spend most of my time recovering from stumbles, definitely not the place to be for my size 13 feet in dark.
Not helped by the fact that my Nike Humara's were falling to pieces by now, all the scrambling up rocks had made some cuts through the upper so they weren't solid on my feet.
In an attempt to make up time Clarence offered to carry my pack so i could run easier (for the first time in weeks i was beginning to feel the sciatic nerve again, not sure if that was simply because i wasn't used to running with the new pack or by its weight), which even double laden still put him quite a few steps in front of me as i huffed and puffed behind.
Finally back at the carpark (and the remains of our bottles of water) and i admit i was rapt to be back on road, still struggled up the two hills (sciatic nerve/back was a worry to me knowing we still had a run to go) and finally back in 6:42:12. Around 100 Minutes slower than we had set out to do, logically the night running added an hour but nevertheless not really a time we were happy with being 11th fastest and over two hours behind the fastest who'd done it in daylight.
Just happy to be back on the boat, a bottle of powerade washed down with a beer and then a shower and i was more content (don't know about the ego, not easy to hand the pack over and have a team mate run with two packs, but from a team result point of view this was the way to go). By the time i hit my bunk it was around 3AM and had a beautiful nights sleep, easily explained there'd been no wind and no tacking etc and ultimately we covered 20 miles in 12 hours immediately after. Lunch was delicious pizza (and knowing we wouldn't be running for a long time) washed down with a beer, if we weren't in a race i could live this life for many weeks !!.
We even had a fishing line out the back and ultimately caught a tuna, and for entertainment a pod of dolphins and some seals but despite all this it was hard to relax as it seemed like we'd be at days before the next run.
After a while i headed back to bunk for a lay down and again the little wind had so calmed down that we had the crew watching "Wild Hogs" on DVD, a film i'd seen on last years flight to the US but nevertheless something to take our mind of the long wait.
Finally after 20 odd hours we had sighted Hobart, but again the wind stopped and ultimately it wasn't until he had been at sea 26 hours that we finally hit Constitution Dock.
In the meantime the weather had worsened and just before leaving ship i decided to put on my goretex jacket as the rain was getting steady and at 4AM it was far from warm.
First 8K's or so are all sealed roads, taking Davey Road out of town, in theory ideal running for me, however nowadays taking 5K's or so to warm up meant i was keeping up with Clarence but my heavy breathing gave me away as not used to that sort of speed so early !!
From then on it was trails, and my incipient clumsiness, but many parts were quite runnable so was able to keep up reasonably well. Again for the sake of team speed Clarence took my pack for 3 or 4K's on the hardest bits of trail and soon enough we were headed towards the summit.
Best summed up as absolutely freezing and no visibility as we made our way to the pinnacle.
Was very happy when our crew caught up with us (in cars) just as we started to head down, not only was it great to see them but also Powerade was a godsend but most importantly their vehicles headlights provided that bit of light we needed to see the road. So for the next road section we simply thundered along making good time and were all fired up for the downhill trails. After that it was all relatively easy and we hit the road section as the sun was rising, not quite fast enough to catch the Launceston Apartments Crew (who started 10 minutes before us) but nevertheless a very fast pace (around 18KPH) so ultimately made it in in 3:06:18 within 40 minutes of the fastest time (and 5th fastest overall).
A cold beer, followed by some Captain Morgan Rum and i reckon i could have happily gone out and done it again, strange time to finish as the city was just waking up after the long weekend.
So in total we did 16:55:23 for our 131K's, which was 8th fastest over all (not sure this is exactly correct as some teams had injuries etc so possibly some teams of two were not the same throughout), not quite up to my 2005 effort of 15:58:52 but probably better overall considering all the running in the dark.
I basically spent the rest of the day walking around the city (enjoying being back on dry land) especially as 8AM isn't really a time i think of sleeping.
Back by 4 and a nap before the post race get together which started at 6.
Actually at 6 we had to move the boat (otherwise it would be in a locked position we couldn't access) so didn't make it till 6:30 and then found they had run out of food, so instead it was off to the Courthouse Restaurant down the road with our remaining crew Drew and Toni as well as Vanessa and Fay. Great fish and chips (i did have one oyster just to prove i could but really they aren't my thing) and then back to the boat and a good nights sleep.
Next morning one last run with Coolrunner Milov (Michael Lovric on Boat 25 Epsilon) and an easy run to Wrest Point Casino and return.
Certainly looks like i am the man to bring rain, by the time i got to Hobart Airport (by bus) it was bucketing down and ultimately our flight was an hour late, sure enough i hit Tulla and it's raining just as bad. With 4 hours to kill there was no point waiting at the tiny "Tiger Airways" terminal, so it was off to an Irish Pub at the Qantas Terminal, great nachos and coffee and basically killed time for two hours.
Couldn't believe it when i found that i'd now had 4 out of 4 flights delayed, my flight back home was an hour late !!!, interesting trip to the plane as the rain was so heavy they took us on a bus across the tarmac to the plane (and we then got wet climbing up the stairs !), still eventually back at Coolangatta by 9 (and it had been raining but thankfully had now stopped). Very pleasant walk home (sick of sitting in terminals and on planes) only made more exciting by a plastic bin burning in the park behind home (hopefully my one 000 call for the year).
So three days to recover then it's off to Waterworld Red Rocks To Coffs 45KM Ultra .
A huge thanks to Drew and all the crew Toni, Tony, Jules, Shorty, Royce, Alan, Simon and James and to my running team mate Clarence, interesting to note though maybe i was too well fed, started the race 67.2 KG and am at present 68.5 KG, obviously all that great cooking meant i spent too much time carbo loading while waiting for our runs to begin.
Note: for people reading this and confused i'm about a week behind blogwise ! there will be a Coffs Race report soon, but i'll admit that after my best run this year on Sunday i seem to have taken a couple of steps backwards sciatic nervewise, maybe i just can't run fast and stay injury free anymore ????