Saturday, 31 October 2009

Mystic Mountain Day 1 October 31

Finally after 10 years i'd made i back to the Bright Alpine Climb (4 Peaks Race), and today was to be my mystery run, in previous years we'd done Mount Porepunkah, but now we had a uphill/downhill race at Mystic Mountain.

By memory this would be really steep, and the beginning confirmed my suspicions with a short flat bit then straight up !.

Eventually hit the top after a number of false summits (surprisingly with artificial grass where they launch paragliders - which is not the top !)and then downhill at the start very steeply then really beautiful downhill running, really enjoyed that as i had plenty left, was almost a shame when i hit the finish line.

Looking forward to being a tourist today and unfortunately i have no idea of my race time but will admit i'm in way better shape than i usually was after Porepunkah - bring on my old favourite Mount Feathertop tomorrow !

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Lamington Classic 24 & 25th October

Having been sick with a cold for the week following the Melbourne Marathon i'd pretty much been forced to rest and freshen up for this race.
At a distance of only 21.8K's each day it wasn't ever going to be a race i was going to excel at, so essentially i was going to make it a long training weekend running back to the start after racing each day.
Thing most in my favour was simply local knowledge, i'd probably run the total course a couple of dozen times over the years, even when i was in my 20's and spending a week or two on holidays up the Coast i'd inevitably spent one day there each trip, by now i pretty much knew the course backwards.

I arrived at Canungra at 8AM for day one from O'Reillys to Binna Burra but first of all it was the longer pre race event known as organising runners and lifts to the start line.
Firstly we were given our race numbers, mine was number 14 apparently our ranking as we had to start in groups of 10, rather surprisingly last years winner Peter Hall was ranked behind me so a little unsure how these actually worked !!!.
After a 50 minute drive (with 3 passengers as most people were running only one way and staying at Binna Burra) it was almost time for race start although at least i'd be waiting 3 minutes for the first 10 to head off.
I handed my camelbak in to get it taken to the other end (containing some food and clothes for the run back) and decided to just take my handheld and also wear a newish Headband (an orange "Foxtel" one that i'd been given by Brett Saxon with the warning "they are a little tight so put the logo around the back" i was to find soon just how correct that was !).
Took a while to get a rhythm going but seemed to soon cruising along, only then to be passed by Peter Hall (and another very strangely ranked runner Michael Page) from the group behind.
Soon i was running again against my own group and was passed by one runner and then repassed him on the steeper downhill sections, then Arnstein Prytz passed me i then thought i'd have someone to pace well against, but by then we hit the hard rocky section (as hard to run as i've ever experienced it due to lack of rain) and i fell behind rather frustratingly. With 5.8K's (by track signs) finally got going nicely and was content how i got home, even did 4 minutes faster than last year, probably helped by the warm conditions (as opposed to last years too cold conditions), although only in 19th place.
Tasty sandwiches and fruit (and a light beer) was enough to set me up for the run back (and having drank my whole 600ML of Sports Drink filled up with water), and also replaced a safety pin on the infamous Nike Free 4.0's .
Started slowly and wasn't really feeling that well, it then dawned upon me sure enough i had a headache, maybe that headband was too tight ???. Was happy just to make it back but around Mt Merino noticed it was getting very dark towards O'Reillys and soon thunderclaps proved the weather was deteriorating, ending up running hard the last 7.8K's just in time for lightning and heavy rain as i got back to the car.

Day 2 was much more relaxed as i could have a sleep in and then have the easy 45 Minute drive to Binna Burra for the 9AM start.
A few less starters so we split up into two groups (there had been earlier starts at 8:30) and i was happy to start in the first group and drop to the back of the pack. From then on it was the typical 5K's to get into a rhythm and then a struggle on the rocky section and then fly home passing many of the 8:30 starters and thankfully not being passed by the next group, personally i do find this as a much more runnable (and quicker) direction but was only 3 minutes slower than the previous day (with 44K's more in my legs !!) to finish in 11th place (and 11minutes faster than last year).
Pretty happy with that and curiously i finished 14th over all the same as my race ranking, so just under 4 Hours for a solid trail 44K's showed i was in good shape.
Still i had to make it back and again it was a casual 3 Hour run, if nothing else it'll be good training for this weekends Four Peaks in Bright (where finally i'll run my 10th, a task that's been 21 years in the making !!), assuming i have internet access i hope to update the blog after each day there.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Melbourne Marathon 11th October 2009

With my 24th successive Melbourne Marathon my next race i was stuck with a strange quandary simply i had no idea what sort of shape i was in for a race of that distance.
The previous weekend had been spent bushwalking on Fraser Island and whilst that showed my fitness it was hardly speedwork, i guess in all honesty my most recent speedwork had been doing the Warwick Half Marathon back in May !!.

At least the forecast was good, looked as though Melbourne was putting on good weather for the race, so at least it wasnt going to be a case of re acclimatizing.
I was staying with Robert and family at Chirnside Park so it was to be an early start with apparently no parking at the MCG and with a 7AM race start this (with daylight saving) seemed like a real early 6AM and meant i was up very early.
Ultimately as we drove past the MCG we saw that the car park was open so were actually there over an hour early, meaning there was even time for a high priced coffee from the vendors setting up stall.
Dropped my gear off at the Spartans Tent and decided with the slightly cool weather i'd stick to the Yellow Buff Bandanna rather than my headband.
It was then a 10 minute walk to the start and time to catch up with a few mates, a few nerves (as usual) but essentially i was going to have to run this one by ear.
For a race with over 4,000 starters was pretty happy to make it over the start line in 10 seconds or so but then found the next few K's to be simply a case of finding a bit of room to run and get a good stride going.
Once we'd headed off StKilda Road decided it was time to finally use a drink stop, but the crowds meant i took the easy option in Aughtie Drive and just grabbed a waterbag, not a great waterbag user but have more or less worked them out by now.
I hadn't taken much notice of the webpostings about the course changes (well i was hardly going to get lost in a field that size), but it was soon evident we'd be spending more time in Albert Park, not ideal but still the scene of my first Sub 3 back in 1991 so hardly too much of a drama, this also meant i got an idea where other runners were in relation to me.
Finally i was getting some good running room and getting a good pace up but could see the Sub 3 Bus was well in front so i was still going to keep improving if i was to get the result i dreamed of.
After what seemed to be just running loops we were then back out onto Fitzroy St and then down to Beaconsfield Parade now we were getting somewhere, and i was beginning to make up ground on some familiar faces, chatted with one fellow just before half way and i'd apparently made up 5 minutes since Albert Park however the split was 90.5 Minutes so i'd have to do what i've never done before and negative split.
Heading towards Elwood was feeling good but was bemused by the fact they sent us around the Elwood Life Saving Club carpark just to get some extra distance in !!!, still a little further on and a 180 degree turn and we were heading home.
Once i hit Fitzroy St i did my maths and wondered just how we were going to make extra distance up, by now my bandanna was being used as a headband only, sun was out and it was a glorious day, just wondered where the hell we were going !!!.
Once we got towards Aughtie Drive i was in for a shock a herd of half marathon (and i think also) 10K runners, not a few but hundreds, frankly i thought this sort of stupidity in race organisation had died out in the 90's when the last few K's of the Gold Coast Marathon would bring you upon a wall of 10K walkers oblivious to everyone around them so absorbed they'd usually be in conversation !!!.
Less said about from there and along St Kilda Road the better, i spent most of my time cursing inwardly and i'm sure if there were photographers about there would have been steam coming out of my ears, from being near 3 hours i was rapidly self destructing, plenty of energy but nowhere to move as i sprinted between runners often sideways, when would they be out the way ???, finally we went under the Arts Centre and back now on the Tan section we got our split, way too late to make up all the ground i lost but i certainly ran hard just to get the frustration out of my system !!!.
Down Domain Road and soon again back amongst the other events, more frustration, from then on it was sprint look for a gap and so on, no way of getting a good rhythm and very frustrating, eventually onto the MCG but even there we were running in big herds certainly i vented my annoyance by taking in the longest outside course and ducking in sharply when sent into finishing lanes, not a good way to end (and a time of 3:05:27 and 261 according to the Herald Sun two days later, still cant get the website to work for official online results ???).
Not sure what to say about this one, was pleased how i'd run myself into a position for a good time after an ordinary start but frankly once we hit the other runners at 31 K's that was about it, couldnt get a clear run and to some degree self destructed with frustration, think i've still got a fast marathon in me this year but not sure what that'll be (Marysville logically but not sure what the first time course will be like), having spent most of the next week in bed with a cold Toowoomba was ruled out, so we'll see what happens.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

DELXC 6 Hour Trail Race 27th September

After Glasshouse i'd taken it easy with plans to essentially do one race per fortnight, so with that in mind i entered a trail run based on a 6.5K trail just out of Warwick. I'd seen this advertised on when i'd got back from the US and after checking that it was actually going ahead reckoned it was the sort of timed race i'd be way more suited to than on a track.
With the AFL Grand Final the day before decided the best option was to drive (around 2 Hours) and camp the night before giving me plenty of time for a walk of the course the next morning with a relatively late 9AM start.
With a "cockatoo alarm clock" at 5:30 or so getting up in plenty of time was never going to be an issue !, so after breakfast i walked a lap of the course and was pleasantly surprised, essentially runnable the whole way with enough ups and downs to keep it interesting.
Not a large field in the solo race (8 runners) as well as a similar number in the teams including many familiar faces, but 2 weeks after Glasshouse and being a new event this was to be expected, i'd love to see this grow in later years.
It was still pretty crisp at 9 so i had the gloves and Buff Bandanna on, but had a bag with headbands and also GU and drink in the feeding area so that i could do any changes and toss off clothes when necessary.
Wasn't quite sure who was in each race but certainly Michael Page (in a team with Peter Hall) took off and i was pretty certain he wasn't a solo which was a relief, only one runner in the solo backing after Glasshouse, Rodney Ladyman and he was essentially using it for training for a 190K race in two weeks time.
Definitely found the course was as runnable as it seemed, however a cool breeze meant the back half was quite cold (to me at least) so the Buff and Gloves were going to stay on a little longer.
They were still setting up aid stations on our first lap, but really i wasnt needing a drink for only 6.5K's, once that was over i'd worked out that the only section worth walking was the only road section less than 500 Metres into the course, very steep and then really good runnable stuff so not worth the extra effort required to run. Was passed by a number of fresh team runners but was keeping up a very comfortable pace although at a guess was third of the solo runners.
Next lap was a little faster and i was beginning to work up a good rhythm only downside being i'd get warm the first half and think of removing my gloves and then cool down the windier second half !.
Third lap was my fastest (by around a minute) and i was making rough calculations of the distance i'd be looking to cover, i certainly had my eyes on 60K, as that would be relatively easy on a quarter mile track but definitely a challenge on trails.
By now i was leading the solos and also seeing less of the teams, although they often gave me something to chase.
Three more laps and finally i was ready to take the gloves off and swap headband for buff and it was getting warmer, there was a aid station (with electrolyte drink, water and fruit) around half way but by now i was appreciating another water stop around a mile further on (after some solid uphills), by now it was time to get a GU out as well.
Was now beginning to pass many of the solo runners so was feeling very confident although was disheartened whenever i got "windburn" from a team runner passing me !.
By lap 8 found the electrolyte drink wasn't quite doing the job, so got out my bottle of Gatorade and had half as well as washing down another GU. By this point i'd also gone through 8 Succeed Capsules, the ups and downs and not totally flat trails were gradually taking a toll on my legs but nevertheless i was still doing 40 minute laps so it appeared the wheels wouldn't fall off.
After 9 laps i new i had 60K's in the bag and it was just a case of how far, although i admit i wasn't quite sure how we were going to end as unlike a track race we could hardly stop in the middle of nowhere and get an exact distance. By my calculation i'd done just over 63K's when time was apparently up (not having a watch wasn't definitive but had a rough idea what the time was), and wasn't sure what to do, did slow down a little (and get a stone out of my shoe - the only problem with my Holey Frees being that there are plenty of spots for stones to get in), and cruised in to find i'd a total time of 6:07:48, first of the solo runners by quite a distance.
Pretty happy with that, i've done worse distances on ovals, so this definitely suited me and to top it off there was prize money and free beer (provided by local Microbrewery sponsors Bru4U), what more could i want.
As i rather superstitiously hadn't put the tent down pre race (after Mt Disappointment and the post race medical problems i'll never put at tent down until i'm sure i don't need it post race), meant i could actually stay around and have a number of beers (and some great spaghetti bolognese) and have a good long chat with the race organisers and helpers and then head back home the next morning.