Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Red Rock to Coffs Jetty

Having run from Currumbin Creek to Surfers Paradise and back via the beach on the Thursday (approx 30K's ?, with Burleigh & North Burleigh Headlands the only non sand sections), i reckoned i was in pretty good shape for Red Rocks to Coffs.
Having successfully completed the training run in my old Nike Free 3.0's reckon i had the shoe issue pretty sorted although a couple of holes in them meant that i was sure to let some sand in.
Come Friday night there was plenty of lightning and thunder on the Coast but barely any rain had no idea what it may have been 300K's further south, but on wakening the next day to find a very windy day (with a wind from the south) had the feeling i'd be experiencing similar the next day, unfortunately that did prove to be the case.
With an April event this year (a little later than usual and out of daylight saving), it meant we got daylight for the start, very pleasant but with the headwind as predicted it just meant we could see the sand being blown about further ahead.
A still largish field of 43 surprised me somewhat as this was really one of those weekends for Ultra runners, with a choice of this or the Coburg 24 Hours or the Canberra Marathon and 50K events, having done all 3 last year not exactly an option this time so i'd chosen the easiest to get to.
Many familiar faces including Steve Sayers who would certainly have to be favourite having won twice here before (and second his other start), but looking around was not really sure if there were any i'd be able to pace off of.
This became evident early on with Steve in the distance and then essentially two lots of two runners in front of me and then a gap after, this could well be a solo run i feared (interesting thought considering my navigational ability on some of those headlands).
Early on i was trying to keep my feet dry, but the camber of the beach and the unpredictable nature of the waves meant that i'd soon given that idea up, salt water was hardly going to kill me.
Couple of beaches solo, but made a mess of the the headland before Woolgoolga Beach as i found Bomber Hutchison coming towards the next beach entry from the other direction, saying he'd made up 500 metres on me. Talked for a little but was soon by myself again, was now starting to catch the early starters unfortunately only whilst on the beach.
Was certainly begin to feel the affect of the soft sand on the calves and hips and also cramping a little so had a couple of Succeed Capsules, was glad to see coke at the next aid station and had a couple of cups of it as the sportsdrink didn't seem to be quite doing the job.
Was beginning to see people out on the beach now so knew it was more civilised hours now but if i was honest really wasn't sure which beach and headland was which.
Even had the odd dog join me (note to self people don't have a problem with me calling dark coloured dogs "Snowball" but get less than happy looks when i call light coloured ones "Blackie").
Not sure which headland it was but after following bunting for a while had no idea where to head so followed a track thinking it would lead down, only problem being that i seemed to be getting higher above the beach, ultimately reaching an exposed cliff face with plaques in memorial to people who had died there, evidently this wasn't the way to go !!, so backward turn and more wasted time.
I'd love to know just how much time i wasted on headlands but i suppose this is one of the challenges of this race, certainly finding a set of steps boarded off from pedestrians (at Sapphire?) meant i was thoroughly confused, i had vague ideas that i'd experienced the same last year and had simply climbed over and used them, but seemed much more tired and proned to cramping this time and had thoughts of being just stuck on top, so with a seemingly fresh landslide fenced off nearby decided i'd find another way around. Interesting sums it up, muddy trail and then a little swim (at least i picked up a golf ball) and i'd reached the base of those steps.
Frustration had got me a bit fired up by that point so took off with new determination, by the time i reached Park Beach was busy avoiding casual strollers but was finally getting my best pace up with the finish in sight.
What more can i say finally made it in 4:31:37 for sixth place, my slowest performance in three starts there (4:13:12 for sixth in 2007 and 3:53:02 for 6th last year), only consistency being the placing as the weather conditions and state of the beaches meant every race was virtually totally different to the other, so honestly not unhappy with the time except for the fact it looks bad for that short distance.
Was glad for the warmish water at sea although my tired body struggled with a strong undertow so wasn't quite as carefree in the post race swim !!!.
Long time till the next runner and then over the next few hours the rest of the field made it in, coffee and great homemade sandwiches and cakes making the wait very easy to bear as well as good conversation with runners i don't often see.
Big thanks to Steel and all the aid station people, this run is definitely one of those little gems.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Frankston to Portsea 55KM

After having had a reasonably easy week after Trailwalker, thought i'd better get some of my usual high mileage in again whilst on holidays.
After waking up with a sore neck on Thursday (that "LA Freeway neck" seems to be a twice yearly occurrence for me unfortunately) i ran 100 minutes that night mostly around Lillydale Lake although spent a little time lost as i tried to find my way back to a bike path from between houses in the dark.
The next morning my chiropractor rang me back and slotted in appointment for that afternoon, that being the case i could go for a long run beforehand.
Starting in still warmish weather black clouds rolled in and before i was back thunder and lightning were about everywhere and i'd had a good drenching, was alarmed to find i'd been out 3 hours and it was now 11:58 i was going to be late for my 1PM appointment, very quick shower (and quickly manhandling the dog back outside - don't think he liked the thunder), knew it was just a case of how late i'd be for my appointment, ultimately the answer being half an hour.
Much better after that i ate cheap food (food discounted after the lunch hour rush) at the 1 Queens Road Food Court whilst waiting for the rain to clear, eventually it did and i decided this would be the ideal chance for a quick drive down to Elsternwick to see what had become of my old house.
Pretty simple really, my old 15 Square home with massive pine out the front had become a huge 40 Square McMansion complete with swimming pool and minimal yard, quite staggering, still they'd paid what i considered over the odds for it so of course could do whatever they liked.
Popped in and said gidday to some neighbours and more relaxed now was ready for my next race.
Being the first Saturday of the Month it was Tan Time Trial time for the Victorian Road Runners and Robert was running that Saturday morning, ultimately i ran one warm up lap, then the 8K race itself in 33:56 and then a warm down lap before heading off for a little jog with the Nike Run For The Kids Team at Fed Square (and Easter Egg hunt). So in total i'd done a little over a half marathon (and 8K of that at full pace) the day before a run over what (to me) was virtually a sprint distance Ultra, possibly not my greatest move.
Lazy afternoon, at least Richmond gave a reasonable account of themselves against Geelong, much better than the shocker the week prior.
With daylight saving ending on race day it was early to bed and an alarm set for 5, obviously i had slept too well during the week (the lack of humidity a godsend for sleeping) and was awake at 4 and showing no signs of getting back to sleep, so an early 7 Vita Brits etc, and Robert and i were off by 5:20 or so meaning that with new tollways we were at race start around 6AM, an hour earlier.
With the end of daylight saving we'd definitely also got an end of the summery conditions, and there was a decent chill whipping off the bay.
Time for a stroll down to McDonalds for a cuppa (and a toilet stop with the public conveniences being renovated), and also the shock that Dimmeys was no longer on the Highway (and even bigger shock was to follow on reading that their Department Store in Swan Street Richmond had closed the day before - this was Melbourne but not as i remembered it).
A number of runners used the facilities there, definitely a change from the regular crowd i can imagine coming through the store early on a Sunday morning and then it was back to where Kevin Cassidy was still busily signing in runners (almost a record field with 43 Starters).
I'd finally decided i'd wear the bike top and keep my buff bandanna on my head as well as wearing gloves, with the trademark headband in the top pocket (as well as 3 GU's and a muesli bar) for when it got warmer later.
A little after 7 we were off, comfortable pace and reasonable, though cool, conditions. Settled into a good pace and for a while ran with local Mike Wheatley, a former winner here and just out training locally today, we had a good chat and time went fast before he turned off.
I had a number of runners in front of me including my Trailwalker Teammates Michael Lovric and Rob Hall, our TW opposition Rohan Day, and around 8 others from what i could work out, definitely had a bit of work ahead of me.
Had a fill up of Rob's Powerade/Endura Mix (Mal who had crewed at TW was crewing for Rob again and generally lending a hand to all), and i was a a little worried as the clouds darkened and the rain started to get heavier. By now i'd passed the ultra consistent walker Bryan Glover (starting an hour ? early), just before the Freeway overpass, and could no see Michael as well as two Peninsula Road Runner Runners.
Just before we hit the beach road i was a little surprised to catch up with Lachlan Fraser, possibly the lack of training after his Marysville bushfire problems was doing his running harm.
From then on i was following Michael and the Peninsula Runners, another half a bottle of sports drink was needed again just before Rosebud and thankfully the sun emerged again.
Eventually beat them off and on the longer stretches heading towards Blairgowrie could see Rohan in his distinctive red board shorts and Rob in his long 2XU socks bit frustrating but i really had no more speed.
Just before Sorrento got my second bottle of Staminade (so approx 1.8 Litres of fluid would last me 55K's - it was that sort of temperature !) from Malcolm Gamble as well as a couple of lollies.
Typical me with lollies they lasted for ages and seemed to expend more energy than they produced. Still moving well but making no ground on the leaders, then i saw the Chris McTaggart struggling (virtually on the footpath) and then the Japanese runner with a back pack on the other side of the road (i will always run into traffic, if worst comes to worst i'm quite sure that on my deathbed my dying words would be the number plate of the car that came towards me and hit me and put me there).
Piece of Fruit cake from Malcolm seemed a good idea, but my energy wasted chewing (and virtually choking) said otherwise (cake's usually the easiest thing to eat).
For the first time i was struggling as i went up the Sorrento Hill to the shopping centre, so got a GU out on an uphill stretch and washed that down with my Staminade, thankfully that was enough for me to pass him on the next hill
From then on it was a case of just block out everything, don't look behind, don't feel any pain (was beginning to feel the infamous neck), and just get there.
Finally i was there in 4:32, close to a 7 minute PB, frustratingly within 9 minutes of 2nd to 4th places.
Overall a good run, about as good as i can do on the shorter stuff at present and on this hilly course no great complaints.
As i type this i'm back from a 22 Hour (plus 3 Hour sleep in back of car just outside Grafton) drive, already focussed on the next starts and what i can do to improve (some people would say "have a shave", others don't run 70 odd K's in the 2 days preceding), whatever it is i'm pretty content, bring on Red Rocks to Coffs in two weeks time !!!.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

A week of interesting training

Having spent the week in my old hometown of Melbourne, i've had some interesting between Ultra runs.
After 33KM's at Humevale on the Sunday, fronted up and did the 5KM with the Gunn Runners (along Beaconsfield Parade) as Albert Park was still in Grand Prix Mode, finishing second in a bit over 20 minutes (no exact time as this pc has no pdf reader), reasonably content with that.
After a number of glorious days in the mid 20's to low 30's (32 degrees on Thursday), did 100 minutes of running at Lillydale Lake, very comfortable but not timing nightfall to well (rather dark as i tried to find my way out of a housing estate and back to my parked car).
Thursday morning i'd woken with a very sore neck (the really bad sort of neck i get about twice a year), so had booked an appointment for Friday with my old Chiropractor Andrea Bisaz.
3 Hour run yesterday to Ringwood and then following the Eastlink Trails and back following Dandenong Creek (so long since i've run there) to Heathmont and then Bayswater, a little before home lightning and thunder showed that the summery weather was well and truly over and ended up a little waterlogged by then and more importantly only giving me an hour (after a very quick hot shower) to drive to my chiro appointment.
This morning it was the 8K Victorian Road Runners Tan Trial, so did a pre race warm up lap and then the actual event in 33:56, again very comfortable and feeling good.
Couldn't resist a warm down lap with two of the original Spartans (including another visitor Bruce Hargreaves) and also an easy trot with the Nike Run For the Kids Training group, good way to get the legs ready for tomorrow.
So tomorrow it's my Third Frankston to Portsea, haven't run this since winning in 2004, but in those intervening years the class and numbers in the field has improved exponentially so no big predictions but reckon i've got a pretty good one in me.
Bit of a worry looking at the weather on the drive back, recently Coffs Harbour has been flooded and the northern NSW appears to have been indundated, so could be an interesting drive back home !!!.