Tuesday, 31 March 2009

My love/hate relationship with Trailwalker continues

Limited internet access since TW (still in Melbourne for Sunday's Frankston to Portsea), so a brief report on the Team #65 Upstream Foundation Org Experience.
When i was called in as a replacement a few weeks back i knew the team was looking at around 10 Hours according to the Teamspace on the web but really had no idea whether this was realistic or not, certainly we had two well known Ultra Runners Mal Gamble and Sydney's Michael Lovric, but team organiser Rob Hall although a multiple trailwalker veteran was an unknown to me.
With a seemingly endless queue for check in just wondered whether we would even start close to time (i think race start was about 5 minutes late?).
A good sign for me was the fact i'd had a very nervy sleep the night before (definitely better than having nightmares about Richmonds performance), waking frequently, better for me to go into a race thinking about it (albeit negatively) than going in unfocussed.
Early on i was running with the eventual winners as we talked football, but realising i was getting a little too far in front dropped back and rejoined my team. Lot's of kangaroos about as we were in the lead 3 groups and they hadn't been disturbed as yet by the herds of teams to follow.
All running comfortably at the first checkpoint, although the feast at each checkpoint that i'd recalled in my other 4TW's didn't look like it was going to eventuate as it appeared we were getting in too early, so just a couple of cups of sports drink for me.
Next section again pretty cruisy, personally i was content as i was sure that if i was to have stomach problems (my biggest worry after Six Foot Track) they'd occur early on in the race. By now we'd settled at a certain pace and could see no one either ahead or behind us, 3rd place was ours alone. Mal was pretty much setting our pace and whilst i would have liked a little more speed, it was one i could live with.
Next Checkpoint i had a Gu Gel and some more sportsdrink and also got our crew to give me my handheld (or as Rob speaking to the crew on walkie talkie said "Kelvin want's his hand held" - maybe that just sounded funny at the time :roll: ).
More easy running and i'll admit i was a little worried about "The Leyland Brothers" (ie Mike and Mal), as me and Rob continued very steadily and easily and they seemed to be getting further behind.
Got a little confused at Checkpoint 4, a little misunderstanding meant that i went and had a Gu and filled my bottle whilst the team continued but ultimately this cost at worst 2 minutes so no big drama.
Next was a part i knew very well, through to Olinda, certainly Hacketts Rd hadn't grown any less steep but all the familiarity made it feel like a casual stroll. My ultra lightweight Nike Free 4.0's complete with holes did let me down here with a stick coming in the hole meaning i had to pull up and take the shoe off, otherwise all good but a little worried about how some members were going.
We made it to Olinda Oval and i admit i was disappointed i didn't see one of the lead teams come back out towards us, found out we were a good half hour behind. Another Gu and filled my bottle up again with the Powerade / Endura Mix (Rob's secret weapon).
Good running down some hills but Rob and i did keep on having to look back, the others were far from struggling but just weren't going quite the pace i'd have picked.
Silvan Dam and we found we were 37 minutes behind the leaders, i had a meat pie thinking that i may as well have some real food to get me through the last half (asked for a coffee flavoured Gu but was invited to have a coffee and a cup of GU2O not quite the same !!).
Back out and i realised that with 5.5 Hours gone, even with the dead flat Rail Trail 10 Hours wasn't going to be an option. All team members appeared to be in reasonable shape but i was beginning to feel a sore back as i was running just under optimal slow speed.
Finally we hit the rail trail (i kept my mind off the speed by taking mental note of the electrical equipment etc dumped on the side of the road), now we could put the foot down.
Not quite as planned, Rob and i were still going cruisily and Mal appeared to be back but Michael was having nausea problems, ultimately it meant i walked alot as i simply couldn't run as slow as necessary. We got the news that Bryan had dropped out from Team Muttley, so we were now officially in Second Place, sort of nice but i knew it was a case of the Midday Milers needing to blow up badly for us to improve, would much have preferred fate to be in our hands.
Another Gu washed down by Coke at the next checkpoint and finally removed my gloves and Moeben sleeves, and then an easy, albeit slow, run and walk along the trail to Checkpoint 7. Had a chat with Bryan there about his problems (remembering well his problems there in 2007 where our team had spent an interminable amount of time), and took it fairly easy leaving as Michael was in worse shape than before with nausea.
Lot's of walking sums it up, a vomit did help Michael and off the paddock section of the trail we started running again.
Our crew had bought some chips and a half a dozen chips and half a stubbie of VB was a treat awaiting me when we hit the pub on the Highway, if i was feeling a little frustrated before now i was a little more mellow. Cruised nicely into the last checkpoint at least i wasn't going to have to worry about finding my headlamp.
After some coke at the checkpoint and some more chips i was positively jumping out of my skin to get the thing finished again, we knew by now a win wasn't an option but still we would get under 12 hours.
A fair bit of walking and then at last to the Little Joe track, at last we could all easily move at the same pace to the top. Once atop me and Rob headed off and ran easily knowing we'd have a walk stage a little on, i was full of beans but really no point as we needed to finish together.
With the race finish in view, i had our crew give my our race T Shirt so we'd all come in looking the same and then regrouping just outside the oval we ran in together in 11:44.
As fast as we could go under the circumstances and i admit was still very fresh but doubt i could have gone fast enough to have beaten the 10:33 of the Midday Milers. Overall a good team performance, but again frustratingly close now the third time from 5 Trailwalkers that i've finished on the podium but not won.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Just one of those days

I'd been looking forward to the Six Foot Track Marathon for weeks now, having been in really good form prior to Caboolture i'd struggled a bit with the layoff, simple fact is i'm much better at racing week after week than just doing long training runs.
I suppose firstly there's the fact that when i head out on a training run, i tend to get carried away and pretty much say to myself just one more hill or just till the next corner etc, but whatever it is i often end up biting off a little bit more than i meant to (i'm sure some would also question the fact that i don't drink or eat on these runs, as i'd much prefer to focus on pushing myself hard and don't want to ease that pressure by wandering around looking for taps and the like and as for food as far as i'm concerned all i need is a front door key when i'm out, money would only give me a soft option !), so in short i flog myself way worse than when actually racing.
Leaving the coast early afternoon meant i got within 200K's of Sydney by bedtime, so curled up in the car and had a very deep sleep at the old Leyland Brothers World servo, it's quite amazing the deeper sleep you get in cooler conditions, i'm quite convinced i'm never as refreshed after a sleep in the humidity back home.
Slept in a little so decided best option to get to Katoomba was to cut across and avoid Pennant Hills Rd, ending up going via Berowra Waters (and the ferry which just like when running there i was just in time to miss) and hitting the Great Western Hwy at Springwood. By 11, i'd made it to Katoomba and similar weather too home, wet and grey but without the heat, first time i'd ever been to the Carrington (way back in 1992 when i first did this race it was a ramshackle building looking to be prepared for demolition). Picked up my race number and discovered that i'd actually not bought a ticket for the bus to the start, just thankful i was able to remedy that, really wasn't anxious for a 12 Foot Track.
With bad weather looking a real possibility decided the old faithful Nike Free 4.0's would be struggling to last out the 45K's so it looked like i'd be using the 7.0's in which case new shoelaces would be a good option (as the one's in them always undid whether double or triple tied - frustrating), so bought a flash new fluoro green triathlon pair wondering just whether they were the go.
After catching up with a few mates at the Expo and also a little shopping headed off to Jenolan Caves and by 2 was settled in, nice lazy afternoon as the rain also settled in.
Awoke at 4:30 for the 5:30 bus, great nights sleep (not a good sign usually i'm awake hourly pre race - i shouldn't be that relaxed !). Deciding it would be cool, broke with tradition and put on my Lululemon Bike top (if i can wear it across France twice, Germany, Death Valley and numerous other places couldn't see me being uncomfortable spending less than 5 hours in it), and took my Moeben sleeves with the thought they may be needed.
The usual mixing bowl of Vita Brits and banana and fruit salad and being still a bit flat from the previous weeks also mixed my Ultra Muscleze Magnesium stuff in with my juice although not often having that sort of thing race morning, could only do good (so i thought !).
5:30 we were off and by 6:50 were at the start line, strangely uncrowded (no portaloo queues), obviously things were happening slowly at the Skyway buses.
Caught up with heaps of people and laso saw many strange sites, numerous blokes wearing pink running skirts in aid of breast cancer (some notable names including my "twin" Paul Every and previous race winner Paul Arthur as well as numerous others).
Finally decided the Moeben sleeves wouldn't be needed, it actually appeared to be perfect running conditions, a little cool, but clear and looking like being a marvellous day.
At 8:01 we were off, was happy with my position in the field when hitting the Nellies Glen steps, and was comfortably behind one of the Canberra "Gramps Army" contingent making a good pace. Down to the valley in nice time, and i felt very comfortable and now ready to put in some solid running.
First drink station and was disappointed to see only water (no sports drink or coke), so whilst not overly happy with that decided it was best to have a cup.
Around a K on i was still having that water, personally i thought it was a little cold and as sometimes happens when that's the case, it just seemed to sit on my stomach, definitely not good.
For the rest of the run to Cox's River ran reasonably but was holding back a little (and sometimes dropping off packs) as the stomach was an issue. Made it to the river in 1:20, probably 5 minutes slower than i'd have liked but was thinking i had plenty left if only i could sort the gut.
With more uphill now i realised this was causing me more and more grief, couldn't even walk up the hills with my usual speed and was passed by numerous runners heading up Mini Mini Saddle, things weren't looking good. Bit of downhill but even then i had to back off as i wasn't feeling comfortable and then struggled as i went for the last steep bit up the Pluviometer.
Last year the Black Range had been bit of a Death March as i hadn't handled the cold, this year much better weather conditions but it still didn't look promising.
By now my stomach was churning badly, i'd been having coke at most of the drink stops hoping to fix it up all with one big burp but all i'd managed to do was pile more stuff on the gut and i was simply getting fuller and fuller.
Decided now the idea was to get rid of all that stuff via the other end. Wandered off into the bush and had a toilet break, relief of sorts maybe now i'd be right.
Within a few minutes my gut was back to feeling as bad as previously not a good sign, and with this all my muscles around there were feeling pressure resulting in some pretty horrific cramping. More and more people passing me, talk about frustrating many recognising me and saying gidday and then passing easily if nothing else my ego was taking a hell of a battering.
The ups and downs of the Deviation were knocking me about badly and by then all i could think of was another toilet break, but upon reaching the checkpoint discovered the real toilet had a fence between me and it, and climbing over wasn't an option considering the cramping hell.
Again wandered off the track and again momentarily better, but on hitting the road crossing was back to gut plagued. Really no option but to just keep on moving as best able and simply getting to that damned finish line.
A few ups and downs but maybe a little better, at least i knew i'd get to the finish line, certainly wasn't bothering with eating as all it did was fill my stomach further, so a cup of Hi5 was my aid station drop each time.
Finally made it to the last stop along the road, now only heading inland past the cabins and to the finish line. Normally i'd be disappointed if i couldn't pass 10 runners from this point, today they'd have to have been nailed to the spot for me to pass. Was at least keeping pace with the runners around me, but if there were any lip readers around they'd have been disgusted as i said the "F" word to myself frequently just to ease the pain. Was pleasantly surprised to find the steepest downhill was less leaf littered and easier to run than usual but i wasn't exactly making the most of it.
Finally hit the stairs and in one of my most degrading racing moments, moved aside to be passed by a runner half way down the stairs, simply couldn't fire up, certainly that passion was burning deep inside but my body wasn't capable of responding this time. Finally it was all over a 20 minute Personal Worst 5:11:31, 18 years after the previous worst time, very forgettable day indeed on a day that should have been memorable as i'd later get my 18 race jacket.
Having had a few days to think about it all post race before i wrote this, believe me this is almost a happy smiley version compared to what an immediate post race copy would have been, still not sure what went wrong, maybe too much magnesium, maybe the water at the first aid station was crook (some say chlorine was in it as a disinfectant), but whatever it was life goes on, and i live to race another day.
Just got to put it down as a shocker and as sometimes happens, a shocker often produces that boot up the bum that's needed to bring out the best in upcoming races.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Time for a race: Half Marathon March 1

I'd been putting of doing this post as i was waiting for official results and possibly a picture so i could be a bit less vague, but with none forecoming i'll just have to ramble on with my thoughts.
With no races since Caboolture i freely admit i was hanging out for a race, any sort of race as long as it was at least a half marathon.
Me without races sometimes is a bit reminiscent of the quote
“All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal.”
from the New Zealand running great Rod Dixon
tend to push myself well over fatigue point when i go on a training run when there isn't a goal that next weekend, would some it up and as for the drinking beer best said i always do find beer (and wine) a great recovery tool !.
Having noted that there was a Half Marathon in Brisbane on the Sunday (at the ungodly hour of 6AM meaning i'd be up and having breakfast at 4 with the 100K drive to follow from the Coast), decided that was my best option.
Only one Half Marathon last year (Warwick in May) and before that my previous two were in April 2006, so admit that nowadays they aren't really my thing (not sure of exact figures but have listed 58 since 1992, quite possibly another 70 odd in the years before - once upon a time they were my "thing"), so it really was a case of going in with no specific training and hoping the legs would remember just what was needed.
Went for a run on Saturday morning, but was feeling so fresh at what i considered to be my standard turnaround point that i decided to go on a bit, the hills of Bilambil Heights did eventually knock the stuffing out of me and what was originally an easy 2 hours turned into more like a tortorous 4 hours, not exactly a brilliant way to freshen up for a half the next day !.
With the petrol gauge light coming on at Beenleigh, spent the rest of the trip looking worried at it, and it was only once i got of the M1 at Stanley St that it dawned i didnt actually know where the Brisbane Road Runners Club venue was, a little worry. Thankfully after a few wrong detours i saw runners parking cars and so did the same.
Running a little late was relieved to find a queue of people still entering so had time to take a breath and relax a little.
Thankfully only hand written numbers, so i could race as i train, topless, lots of familiar faces but a course that i knew from the Brisbane Marathon as being somewhat mind numbing !!.
First up was 550 metres out and back and then we would do 5K loops, however i was a little worried when the 550 metres went on and on, surely i wasn't running that slowly. Went under the clock for the first short lap in 8 minutes+ (bit unsure of exact time), evidently something wasn't correct and was a little peeved, this wasn't going to be a good one, sometimes you can just tell.
Was chatting with Adrian for a while and he was saying we'd gone 1K out rather than the distance meant, was almost relieved thinking it might mean a 22K race instead of a dud half marathon time. Let him and then Keith go as i was still struggling to get the rhythmn needed, i was hoping distance was on my side. Was surprised to see him coming back towards me, sure enough with the wrong distance for the short lap, they had remeasured for our second lap so that the last 3 would all be 5K's, suppose all i could do was keep on going and maybe sometime i'd get that something that hadn't appeared so far.
Another lap and pretty much i'd revised my goal to just making sure i wasn't lapped by the winner, a course that to some degree should provide enough variety (turns, little climbs, etc) but one that just doesnt seem to suit me, still struggling and definitely p*ssed off as i realised sub 90 was going to require speed that my legs didn't appear to have on the day.
One lap to go, and at least the winner was within a lap of me, didn't look back to see him come in but i'm sure he wasn't far behind, i then had another Gold Coaster come up beside me (names aren't my strongpoint as i type this his escapes me !) and then pass me, finally i was a little fired up and made sure i was back in front the next turn. However i then heard footsteps and a strange noise, damn it was Aussie 24 Hour Rep John Pearson complete with running stroller and his son Jack, i do recall having been beaten by a bloke with a dog before but now one with a kid !!, definitely one of those days.
Was glad to at least get in before the clock ticked up to 93 Minutes, 92:3? i think, not a great time and it means i'll have to front up at Warwick again for a faster half. Still next week it Six Foot Track, finally i can get back to doing Ultras, been training hard this week and i'll even try to taper a little next week.
AC/DC tribute band tonight ought to give me some non running exercise