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.

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