Monday, 27 October 2008

Lamington Classic Double

Well here we are after not having a drink (of the alcoholic variety that is - i'm not a camel) for ten days and a magnesium supplement for the same time and i'd be honest and say my body has handled the rough way i treat it runningwise pretty well of late. Two 20 mile runs (including one interupted by hail stones drawing blood - even i stopped for 15 minutes and sheltered, possibly wearing a top would have helped ???) and a 20K run last week as i thought i really should push it a bit.
Having got a late start in the Lamington Classic (a run with a field limit of 50 meaning i ended up on the waitlist) my intention was to do the actual race (Saturday 22K's O'Reillys to Binna Burra and Sunday the reverse on the glorious Lamington Plateau in the Gold Coast Hinterland) but to also run back each day, so just over a marathon on trails both days.
Was probably a bit overrated on the first stage as i ended up starting with the first group (fastest groups go off first a minute apart) and with speed merchants like Peter Hall and Michael Page i was somewhat outclassed and ultimately beaten in by the next group and 2 from the third. Was getting quite cold towards the end and struggled a bit because of that finishing 13th in 2:02:06 and wasn't surprised to see heavy rain as i was sitting in the cafe fuelling up on cappucino and beef lasagne. Waited for the rain to stop (and put on my rain jacket and bandanna) and ran back, very cold half way as i went through heavy fog and was very thankful the sun was shining when 2:49 later i was back at the car.
With a 9AM start on Sunday meant i could have a good sleep in as it's only 50 odd minutes to Binna Burra, slightly different a slower group at 8:30 and a faster group at 9:00. For mine this is the harder direction (although the way i've run this innumerable times over the years) so knew i'd be faster than my plodding solo return but not as fast as Saturday morning with fresh legs. Ideal conditions and ultimately did this in 2:12 for 13th again.
Again it was off into a line for coffee simply to keep me warm, and then a very pleasant lunch and prize giving. Ended up with 3 of us heading back to Binna Burra with overall third place Matt Carrick and Australian 100K representative Susannah Harvey-Jamieson, but with Susannah taking it easy after acting as sweeper ended up with me and Matt doing some decent time and ultimately 2:35, certainly a good weekends training.
With thoughts of Great North Walk i was content to find the back causing minimal pain, but had booked in for the chiropractor on Monday as really needed some feedback. Positive comments about the back so it was off for a solid 25K run this morning and again feeling comfortable (if only damned typing didn't do me more harm than running). If i'm up early enough i'll do another 2 to 3 hour run tomorrow morning and all being well put in a GNW entry, finally the comeback seems to be heading the right way (i am thirsty though :-) ).

Monday, 20 October 2008

Stuff all training this week, so i'd better run a marathon

Not quite sure where the rest of the week went to, obviously i was busy doing non running related things (also known as work !), the back and neck appeared to be all right but i'd felt flat so i decided to just do a long walk of a morning a couple of those days (as well as a wander along the beach of an evening - yeah cursing it'd be dark before i returned each time !). Finally decided on Friday that rather than a long training run, i'd go and do what i do best (in theory at least) and race, with Toowoomba Marathon only a few hours drive away. Had done the calculations and not being able to find my map of Toowoomba (and of course my Mio Car Navigator thing is still in LA) thought staying there Saturday night was the more relaxing option for optimal performance.
Strange thing is i can remember coming here as a kid and it was always colder than Melbourne, but of course nowadays i believe the weather forecast on the internet and weather sounded warmish, so turned up and then realised i didn't have my running gloves and only a choice of light singlets as tops.
Early start with the race beginning at 6, i'd found USQ the previous day and had a vague look at the course, definitely not exciting and probably one lap further than i'd really like (for mine the ideal lap course has only two laps, but 3 is manageable however anymore and i can almost guarantee a bored "nothing" lap somewhere between first and last from me).
Cool and windy sums it up at the start, was cursing not bringing the gloves and was tossing up as to whether where the bandanna the first lap rather than a headband.
With a minute or so to start time, decided i'd wear the traditional headband and also my slightly warmer "Team Ireland" singlet one i'd never raced in before but had often trained in (an Irish athletics team singlet given to me by Irish runner Ray McConnell when we finished the Simpson Desert race in 2002, incongruous on me considering there hasn't been a drop of Irish blood in my family for over 150 years - if not longer).
After last weeks field of 3,500 it was good to be back with 40 odd runners (36? in the full and 6 in the 3/4 marathon). First a lap round the Uni Buildings and then a cross breeze, definitely wasn't going to be a fast one as the next turn was straight into the teeth of the gale. Comfortable pace, but i wasn't really warm enough and the leading few runners were getting away rapidly. First drink station at 2.5K's was welcome but meant another turn into a strong cross breeze and then back into the wind, few more turns and frankly the wind just seemed to be there throughout against us. Happy to make it into the long stretch of South St where at least the houses appeared to provide a bit of a windbreak, finally the wind was behind us as we turned into a hooked bit of course then finding it against us on the way back. At least this gave me a chance to see where the other runners were without looking behind me (a deadly sin of racing !).
First lap in a bit over 48 minutes, a few calculations and i knew this was going to be a slow one (3:13 or so if i could run metromically), caught up with one fellow and we were having bit of a whinge about the weather conditions and course, obviously gave him the upper hand when i said 2nd and 3rd laps would be nothing laps for me (me and my big mouth) as he was consistently in front of me from then on. Running fair, but again feeling the metatarsal on my left foot, just like last week, made it around to go through the half in a bit over 1:39 ominously my slowest half marathon time since late 80's, really couldn't afford to slow down any further although really it's not as though i was flat out it was simply the best i could manage in those conditions on that course can't explain it better than that.
Third lap was much of a muchness, again getting a little bit further in front of the others but making no headway on the leading 4, relieved to get through in 2:30:?? at least i wasn't getting the wobbles. Not a fast lap but one of the stranger ones i've ever run, whilst running along the South St footpath had been stood on by a little kid waving at his parents in the garden (have occasionally had drunken "heroes" jumping in front of runners in early morning races but this kid was totally oblivious to me and just walked backwards onto my foot, probably only lost a second if that but was bemused for longer than that and also worried he'd got the new shoes dirty !!).
Caught up with my running partner from early lap 2 and finally fired up and got rid of him (he'd mentioned he may struggle in the 4th lap i was happy to keep him to his word). When the first lady and a local runner bother loomed on my shoulder in the first 2K's, finally i got a sense of urgency, can't say i ran fast but at the turnaround finally saw the leaders again for the first time since lap 1.
Ultimately over the line in 3:20:55, if my memory serves me correctly this was pretty close to dead on 50 minutes, so my second fastest lap.
So 5th of 33 around 12 minutes behind the winner and first in the 40 to 49 age group (possibly helped by the fact that first 3 placegetters can't get age group prizes).
Not a great time, but somehow i think within about 5 minutes of as fast as i can do on that course and in those conditions (too flat, too many turns, too cool unfortunately sums it up for me). Certainly no problems with the organisation etc, just seemed to be the sort of course made to keep traffic problems to a minimum but also meaning not a great race course.
I had at least lucked out with motel as the owner had said to come back post race for a shower and toast, definitely a good idea, hot shower and half a dozen slices of toast and i was in a much better state and ready to head back for presentations.
As i type i've got the chiropractor on Wednesday, no lower back problems but again the damned neck for mine that's what happens when you keep on going around corners.

Now that's the race report done, now it's time to get philosophical, definitely not in keeping with the usual nature of this blog, feel free to stop reading now !!!.
Three weekends, one Ultra, two marathons, the sort of thing i used to lap up week after week, but simply this body is just not handling that sort of thing well at the moment.
I guess at the moment i have two aims for next year:
A: to get back to Badwater and knock 5 hours off
B: to do the Melbourne to Brisbane race if it ever gets off the ground.
So i'll do what ever i need to get back into better shape so for the time being i'm off alcohol, not sure how long that will last but as a man who's basically spent most of his adult life being a somewhat flawed but indestructible ultra running machine with an ability to do all things to excess i feel i have to try something different. I guess in simple terms i know i don't handle being injured well and my main fallback when injured is booze - the easiest painkiller - so for now i'm just trying to see if i can recover better without as recovery at the moment appears to be more like stumble from one niggle to another.
With new qualifying standards ( for next years Badwater i'd love to be able to put in an application which has me qualifying in section 1: You have officially finished the Badwater Ultramarathon (the actual race held since 1987; “solo” efforts will not be considered, except those made prior to 1990), but also in section 3: You have officially finished TWO running races of at least one 100 continuous miles in length and/or multisport events that includes a running section of at least 100 continuous miles in length and having done 184K's at this years Coburg 24 Hours, really need to do either Great North Walk or Coast to Kosi. Having now been given a start in the Kepler Challenge, i may end up struggling logistically to do Coast to Kosi (simply because i don't really want a flight back to Australia until the Tuesday and i'd then need to head off to C2K one or two days after, interesting dilemma) so i guess the Great North Walk 100 Miler is the other option (particularly as it looks like i can get a few days off beforehand to familiarise myself with the course).
Aim at the moment is to do out on back on Saturday at the Lamington Classic (Gold Coast Hinterland next weekend) and possibly a similarly long bush run the Sunday and then see if i can get an entry in a few days late if i get through it.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Melbourne - Where it all begun

After the last chiropractor appointment on Friday i was reasonably confident i'd get through the marathon in one piece but i was really unsure just what sort of time i could pull out.
With the cheapest fare possible on Tiger Airways (maximum of 7KG carry on luggage only) i had an easy stroll down to the airport Saturday morning and shock of shocks a plane leaving on time, actually got to Tulla 10 minutes early, maybe things were finally going my way. Ended up at the Marathon Expo and spent quite a bit of time chatting with heaps of familiar faces (familiar faces being the operative word i'm not sure just how many people actually had to tell me their name - sure i knew them by sight :-)). Warm, sunny day in Melbourne certainly looking good for the day ahead although a forecast strong northerly could be an issue.
Gnocchi bolognese was my carbo loading for the night (okay there was a beer or two but still not confident about my back i'll take whatever painkillers i consider necessary).
The luxury of an apartment in Exhibition St (thanks Robert !), meant i could wake at 5:30 have a leisurely breakfast and then casually stroll down to the race, although typically a foreign pre race bed meant i woke up every hour or so.
Was at the G by 7 and wandered off to the Spartans tent to drop off my gear and then off to the start. Such an improvement in organisation this year, just like clockwork making it to the start line. Gidday to a number of people and then we were off, only 7 seconds to cross the starting mat as compared to last years 4 minutes !!.
Feeling good and comfortable early but did waste a little time getting to the outside of the field, really hate running in a crush i should have moved there beforehand !!. Wellington Parade and then St Kilda Rd, just at the back of the 3 Hour pace group really somewhere i didn't want to be.
Was rapt to find sportsdrinks in cups (water bags are a good idea but my teeth are badly aligned courtesy of a broken jaw in 1979 explaining why i just can't bite into an apple to eat it but can take the top off a beer), in a good rhythmn by Fitzroy St and the first of the Coolrunning cheersquads to motivate us. Still unable to run faster than the pace group was frustrating me but wasn't ready to push hard yet.
Just before Beaconsfield Parade, the inevitable happened was beginning to feel my back so eased back to see if that would help, spent the next couple of K's talking to a 79 minute Half Marathon runner who was also having a bad day in the marathon, typical me i guess i ran better on his suffering and once past Fitzroy St had got away from him.
Was now at a comfortable pace but simply could not crank it up and i'd let the pace group slip away, was passed by Coolrunner Tuttle when turning into StKilda St so i was hoping it was him having a real good day not me a sh*t one. By the time we'd hit Brighton Baths we were seeing the leaders running back towards me, somewhat demoralising but i did get a kick out of seeing the Daves (Criniti and Eadie) so close to the lead looked like they were in for good runs. Through the half in 1:31 (strangely no time clock but we had splits on the net on Monday), and basically was now running without backpain but simply not fast and with the wind behind us, this could get ugly on the way back !!!.
At least the Hampton turnaround gave me an idea where everyone was but it also meant we ran straight into the teeth of a gale but was now feeling stronger than earlier and at least passing people (as well as cheering on runners going the other way - saving my biggest cheer for Melbourne Marathon Spartan legend Shirley Young being paced by her husband Ron - was sad to here later she pulled out at 33K's but certainly one runner with nothing at all to prove only hope i'm still running when i'm her age).
Passed Tuttle strangely enough pretty much where he passed me originally and from then on continued passing people (sure beats being passed).
Knew i was struggling against that wind (at 6 foot and 67KG i'm not exactly built for running against the wind), again the Coolrunning cheersquad gave me a great boost as we turned into St Kilda Rd, but i was now beginning to feel the metatarsal in my left foot really strange as the last time i'd had any issues was the second half of Badwater (just can't explain that). Can't honestly say it slowed me down but it did give me something else to think about. St Kilda Rd was looking like a battle field as the weather warmed and a number of runners were strewn over the median strip (definitely not good), still i came home strongly, again buoyed by another CR Cheersquad at Fed Square then the Brissy invasion led by Tess in Jolimont enjoying the run on the G where i outsprinted 2 blokes to the line. 3:09:51 not great but not too bad and even better the back was feeling good, actually until i got of the actual stadium surface and then sore again (weird).
Being one of the earlier Spartans i had the tent to myself for a while (and a couple of cans of Coke) and was happy to sit and watch the runners come in on Brunton Ave.
Caught up with a number of people and time flew, by the time i realised there was a commerative towel to pick up it was 2PM and after a saga picking it up (note to organisers the day was perfect except for the towel pickup, only a minor point but the one thing to improve next year).
Had originally been going to join the runners get together at Transport Bar, but tiredness, back soreness and the fact i was staying with Richard and his family meant i headed off to a barbie and cricket with his boys, probably better from the health point of view (too many anti inflammatories and booze over the last couple of weeks probably not a good thing !!).
Loved the shoes, certainly the right foot was as good as running barefoot but with cushioning though a little mystified by the metatarsal problems and was able to run for 90 minutes in hilly Upper Beaconsfield on Monday morning (less said about my ability and soreness relating to backyard cricket the evening before the better though).
So here i am back home, back not too bad (haven't had any anti inflammatories since, okay the odd bit of alcohol but that's a pleasure not a chore !!), presently tossing up as to whether Great North Walk is a realistic thought as next start ?????

Friday, 10 October 2008

I guess i'm as ready as going to be

To say the least it's been an interesting week, Chiro on Monday, Chiro on Wednesday, Chiro on Thursday (and he doesn't work at the local clinic that day so it was off to Robina, a good thing as finally i was able to get what appeared to be the only remaining pair of size 13 Nike Lunarlite Racing Shoes in Australia, just hope they were worth the wait since April). Certainly there had been no running in this last week, but after the shocking Monday, i'd got up early (seeing no daylight saving means the suns up at 4:30 so it's not hard) and done a two hour walk both Tuesday and Wednesday so at least i was stretching the legs.
So this morning with new shoes waiting to be tested and a chiro appointment this arvo it was time for a run, pretty much my standard flat, relatively easy run but at a good tempo as i really needed to see if i was going to wear the new shoes in Sundays Marathon (and with a 7KG luggage limit on Tiger Air there's not a huge deal of margin for multiple clothing changes). Pretty simple, they felt good from the get go, was also wearing the unused Drymax Hot Weather Running lite-mesh socks as i thought they'd be a good option for what looked like a warm Melbourne Marathon. The back held up pretty much to 15th AVE on the return, but unfortunately was beginning to feel the neck, which i hadn't all week, possibly the lower back had given so much pain previously i hadn't been able to feel it ???. Anyway home and sore, good massage beforehand and then the chiro worked some magic on me, went for a walk down to Tugun and back along the beach to settle it and a little early to make rash predictions.
So tomorrow it's off to Melbourne where my running career began, actually 12th of October was my first ever marathon there back in 1986, pretty sure i never thought that 22 years later to the day i'd be lining up for my 23rd Melbourne and 136th Marathon (and i certainly was never thinking about running longer distances).
Not flying back till Monday night (not amused by Tiger changing their schedule starting that day, the old 5:50PM flight now becoming a 7:30PM flight), so i may well get the chance to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages post race, particularly as i've been trying to avoid them this week as my diet has consisted of Nurofen and Voltaren !!.
Really hate to make any predictions for Sunday, if adrenalin works as a painkiller and the back lasts i've got a 2:57 in me, but i doubt it's realistic considering all the recent niggles and i guess anything better than my PW (way back in my first one) will satisfy me but really sub 3:30 should be more like it.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Mt Tamborine man

After one final lot of adjustments on my back on Friday, i was given a couple of core strength exercises specifically for my weak neck and also the advice from my chiropractor that he doubted i'd be up for this weeks race but would be right for the Melbourne Marathon. Easy day Saturday but to be honest i had only one thing on my mind i wasn't going to dnf a race i'd won 8 times, so even if i had to take it real easy and break my record of 12 podium finishes there the only way i wouldn't be finishing would be death !!!.
Alarm went off at 4:15, the joys of being close to a race, time for my 8 vita brits etc and a good read and then hit the highway to Nerang. Typically hadn't read the race details too well and discovered there were a number of runners cars at the velodrome, just down from the usual start at the Guides Hall, so for the 4th time in the history of the race we had a slightly different course (first few years from Macintosh Island definitely my preferred option being all road and 68.8K's but incredibly dangerous with busy roads, then from Owens Park, then the Guides Hall and now here).
11 Starters, not huge but considering that it was looking a hot day and many events around fair enough, but certainly a class field with Sydneysider Jo Blake and local Susannah Harvey-Jamieson both in the world 100K's in Italy next month as well as a number of other good local ultra runners. Even at first glance i think i had 5th place in mind as both long runs this week i'd essentially run 2 hours and then the back had gone and 2 hours wouldn't even get me far along Guanaba Creek Road.
Settled midfield, happily walking some of the steep uphills hoping that would help me, and was bemused to see Keith Mckay (one of the runners) marshalling the field down the "Siberia" section (what had happened is there was a table which would be manned later but there was no indication that runners had to turn there for the 3K run to "Siberia" and then back). Ultimately this meant that Keith lost around 20 minutes and also one faster runner missed the turn completely, i was to see him later heading back.
Was surprised to see that only two relay runners and Jo were in front of me when they headed back towards me and that perked me up a bit but knew i didn't want to do anything stupid. Finally out of the bush and was glad to get rid of my compulsory handheld bottle, and thinking i could now make up some time on the undulating roads before hitting Mystery Rd (i swear it must have a silent "T").
Got to Mt Nathan road and the female relay runner was looking for directions so pointed her the right direction and gave myself something to chase, just beating her in at the tennis court changeover and major aid station. Frustratingly found the old Woolworths band aids just aren't as good as they used to be (i swear they must have changed suppliers for their plain label brand as once upon a time they stuck around like the guest who just won't leave), so not wishing to rip my nipple to bits thought topless was the way to go (nowadays i'd say racing is about the time i wear a top when running the climate here is too good :-)).
From then on powered on nicely and was finally getting a good rhythm, although was surprised to see a relay runner fall (and just as quickly bounce back up) on a flat bit of road only a hundred or so yards ahead. Finally starting to feel good about my running when i hit Mystery Rd, surely one of the steepest roads about, so it was walking time, saw one relay runner flying down before i hit the top but thankfully no others before i hit Henry Roberts Dve. Jo appeared very soon so any thoughts i had i tackling him on the downhill were gone but i knew i could still do something half decent. Glad to hit the top and have a couple of Succeed capsules as well as some coke and endura (one aid station in between also meant a couple of Succeed caps washed down with water), now for my favourite section. Was rapt to find there were no runners within a couple of miles of me as i knew i had my "pet" downhill section ahead of me and also knew i'd need all the lead i could get once i hit the forest trails. Down, down, down, so good but worryingly instead of feeling the neck i was trashing the quads more than usual and this seemed to be making my lower back very unstable. Another couple of succeed caps at the Whitting Road aid station and then the undulations all the way back to the tennis courts, my running went through a roller coaster of emotions in that time, sometimes my usual confident, cocky self running aggresively in the Frees and sometimes a shattered shadow struggling up hills feeling pains in the hips and quads as well as feeling i was a little dehydrated. Finally back to the Tennis courts and had a Gu (i had a stash of stuff there but couldn't be bothered battling a Clif Bar) now to finish it off. Mt Nathan Rd had been busy but obviously Brown Snakes aren't that damn as half way along a one around a metre long crossed, making me run sideways into the middle of the road (fastest i'd moved on an uphill all day), happy to see it get across and for me to get on my side of the road again. Finally back to the pre forest aid station where i picked up the handheld, a couple of lollies and two more S Caps washed down with water.
From then on it was a struggle, i'd be honest and say that i was probably dehydrated, looking at the the temperature it only hit 28.2 degrees at Nerang but clear skies (and no top or cap) probably made it feel hotter and went through the 650ml bottle (and last two S Caps) before hitting the "Siberia" turn checkpoint, cramped up a number of times and was crablike as i went uphill. Was so happy to see Peter McKenzie at his aid station, and coke and bananas and oranges (heaven !), quick chat and i was on my way, obviously i was a fair way behind by now as i made the turnaround and had still seen no one, coming back gave me a good idea where Adrian Pearce and Susannah (my biggest worries) were and it looked as though i might even beat a relay team. More coke and oranges at Pete's stand and i was ready for the last hard stretch, by then my hips and lower back were a feeble joke and cramps were an everpresent worry so it was a case of simply digging deep and knocking the bastard off.
Had a drink at the last aid station but only half filled the bottle knowing it was less than 4K's, definitely not my brightest idea as had finished that within two and after being passed by the relay runner (i was slowing rapidly) saw him coming off one track and heading on another, yelled at him that i thought where he came from was correct but couldn't stop him so went the way i thought was right (new start meant the familiar course was no more), typical me i was wrong, hit the back of some houses and ultimately consulted a map at an entrance, ultimately costing me a couple of K's (same course as Jo and a couple of the relay teams so i guess it's not only me). Jo had finished hours ago (5:15:17) and i'd just squeezed in under 7hours (6:54:09), still at least second. One of the later runners mentioned the course was 64.5K by his Garmin so i'd be guessing we ran closer to 66 on the day.
Usually i'm pretty stuffed after any race as i don't believe in leaving anything for the end but yesterday seemed to be worse than ever, very fragile with pain every time i moved my lower back and cramps always a threat. Basically an hour till i was capable of eating (although a can of soft drink did go down well immediately after), and another hour till i was capable of heading carward after seeing the last runners in. Terrible drive home having to stop a couple of times to stretch the leg when it cramped (as for getting out the car i'm sure there's people in their 100's could have done it faster), by the time i did get home it was a shower downstairs and then an Everest like ascent to my bed where i woke up (still in pain) 5 hours later !!.
Chiro today and have been told not to run until i see him again on Wednesday not as though i am physically capable at present. At least it's "only" a marathon next Sunday, the question being can i hobble to sub 3 ???