Monday, September 29, 2008

Fitzoy Falls Fire Trail Marathon 2008

My quads are still aching but the satisfaction of beating my course PB by 17mins eases the pain.

This is a great event, well run and orgainised...kudos to Max and his hard working committee and sponsors.

I really like how the presentations start after most of the competitors finish. That has the 6 foot feel about it and what better way to pass the time than chatting to other runners and relaxing on the lawn on the beautiful property while tucking into a killer steak and egg roll.

My race went to plan...go out reasonably solidly and hold on in the back half. Knew the back end was a lot hillier and wasn't proved wrong. Some of those gradual inclines are killers too. What about the hill at 38km?? Somebody take that out of the course please!! Managed to maintain form up until 38km and the last 4 were the crawl to the finish. Definitely benefitted from the 2 week taper I had leading into this.

Managed to keep within a minute or two of Tim Cochrane and Jo Blake up until about 30km before the gap widened but was thrilled to hear at the finish it was only 3 minutes difference in the end.

MrsD and I wound down what was a wonderful weekend by visiting the tulip festival. My mother is Dutch so I have some affinity with tulips!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Three in a row!

Well it's three squash final victories in a row and this one was the sweetest of all!

The venue was Northmead. Our opponents were Northmead. Victors were US, Wenty Leagues! What a night it was, a true grand final in every aspect.

We knew this would be a tough match up. Although we had beaten our opponents in the regular season a couple of times, my recent poor form and their recent good form (including knocking off Hawkesbury in the semi) had us all worried. Before the game we had a good team chat about how we were going to slay these guys. My ankle, which I had rolled in the adventure race last weekend, was thankfully much better. We were all fit and healthy and ready to rumble!

I lost the toss and our opponents sent Number 1's on first. That's me and I was playing Peter, whom I was thrashed by in my last comp match 0-3. Due to the ankle being sore all week, I have been thinking about my game plan a bit, knowing that I may not have been able to run as much as I usually do. I think this extra bit of strategic thinking helped tonight. In the first game, I got my eye in nice and early and was hitting the ball quite nicely. My plan was to boast a lot more and these shots seemed to be taking Peter by surprise. Also, as my ankle was fine I was picking up a heap of his killer drops and boasts and putting them back into the back corners so he was working a lot more too. I like it when my opponents go and ask the ref after I have picked up a drop shot of theirs whether I really got it before it bounced twice too. It's a real confidence booster as I know my opponents are flustered and won't be playing too many of those shots again if I keep hitting winners off them! So I won the first game, but it was tight.

I think Peter took the first game a bit lightly after thrashing me the last time we matched up, so he really came out in the second and third games fired up. He began to find his rhythm and was forcing some unforced errors from me. He won the 2nd and 3rd games to 10 and 12 from memory which meant I was down 1-2 in a best of 5 and facing defeat. As the captain, going on first and having a first up win can give the team a huge boost. So I gathered my composure, and set myself the challenge to win the next two games and get the match.

The fourth game was make or break and I came out with purpose and composure. I was a lot more relaxed and as a result was hitting the ball with cleaner. Peter was beginning to show signs of fatigue and he was trying his damnest to get the match over with. At about 11-10 to me I jagged about 3 shots in a row with a couple of nicks and mis-hits and I had the game! The fifth game was a little anti-climatic. Peter was absolutely spent and I had just warmed up and I think he chucked the towel in once I got to 10-3. I ended up winning the game without losing to many more points.

So, up one rubber to nil, we were confident Paul, on number 3 who was on next, could do the business. It was a real close encounter from the outset. I forget the correct order of games won but it went down to the fifth and final game again right up to 14 all. Paul, true to his form all comp, called ‘short’ which means that the player who wins the next point wins the game, and in this case, the match. Unfortunately, he lost the point and suddenly the balance was even again 1 all with exactly the same number of games won.

Next on was Jean-Luc. He has been our most consistent player all competition and I was sure he could inflict some pain on his opponent. His opponent, Brett, is a crafty player. I found it difficult to play him in the round match ups and he has a couple of big weapons, notably his forehand drive. From the outset, Brett was using his experience and calling a lot of ‘lets’ when he probably wasn’t entitled to many of them. The referee, once they give some lenient ‘yes, let’ calls, then have in a way set a precedent for the rest of the match. So Brett continued to call a lot of ‘lets’ when maybe he could have made a greater effort to get to the ball. This is frustrating, but totally within the laws of the game. What it did do, however, was upset Jean-Luc and he lacked composure and focus all game. The result was a quite comprehensive 0-3 loss and suddenly our backs were up against the wall.

What we then needed to win the night, going into the final game, was a 3-0 victory. It would then comeback to a count back of points won. We quickly applied some maths and worked out a victory was good enough as we actually were only down by 2 points. This kind of situation suits Joe down to the tea. He relishes in the pressure and we all had faith that he could do the job.

And indeed he did! What a sight it was too. Since all the other finals had finished already, all the other teams came down to our court and watched the gripping game. Lots of people were cheering for Northmead and this only added pressure to them in my opinion. Joe showed his class and a very cool temperament. He had a job to do and he did it with style.

For the full results of the night, click here

Monday, June 23, 2008

RNP Kathmandu Adventure Race 2008

What a day, what a day!

Dans and I came 3rd overall!

Stuffed up on a couple of sections which probably cost us a second place. Had a blast!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bay to Bay Fun Run

Driving into Woy Woy, I always have a little smile in remembrance of one of my favourite comedians, Spike Milligan. I even calmly asked my passengers "Why do they call Wagga Wagga 'Wagga' but they don't call Woy Woy 'Woy"? To then get a response in song was unusual and very unexpected to say the least!

There was quite a large Woodstock contingent which was pleasing to see. At 8 the race started and off we went, over, you guessed it, the Spike Milligan Bridge! It was quite a frantic pace from the get go and I had to hold myself back a bit and play it sensible. All the kids who had taken off like whippets were all struggling after 1km so there was quite a bit of dodging going on!

Finally settled into a very good rhythm. It was my intention to go hard on this run and keep the pace around 3:40 or lower. I was on target after 5km, but slipped back a bit by 10km (36:40) but my position in the race never changed. Young Charlie Brookes (a star in the making, he is only 15!) was ahead and I just could not bridge the gap at all. The last 2kms were very tough, battling into a fierce headwind (which meant I had a tailwind for a large part of the race?) but finally got there in just just under 45 minutes. Was happy with that.

Bonus was I finished 3rd in my age group and should receive a nice package in the mail shortly. I just couldn't bring myself to hang around in the wind and cold for the presentations! I got to say I think I jagged this really as 14th overall is no great thing and normally out of category placings. Got to thank all those speedy Central Coast juniors for filling a lot of the top 10. Managed to get third in my Age Category and pick up a pretty neat towel!

On the weekend I am going to do the Kathmandu Adventure Race. Should be fun, did the same race last year with Teeds and we had a great time. This year I am doing it with my mate Locky. Unfortunately received an email today from race organisers saying the course would be shortened due to the tracks and the rain. This is a little disappointing as it turns the race into more a sprint than a test of endurance. We would fair better in the original format.

Have also changed my Woodford to Glenbrook from mountain biking to the run. Did this for three reasons. Firstly, Woodstock has organised a running team, Secondly, need the long run training run, and Thirdly, Ferran, my Spanish mate wants to borrow my bike to do the race as well. Should be fun!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Marathon PB! Macleay River Marathon 2008

Macleay River Marathon - South West Rocks. On Saturday I travelled up with Eagle and PlodBod to South West Rocks to run in the Macleay River Marathon. This was the 27th running of the event, but for me it was number 1. It was the same for PlodBod but for Eagle it was a simple case of 'been there, done that'! The man is a living legend - he's up to 90 odd marathons and still pumping out sub 3:05s and on special occasions sub 3's.

After a very enjoyable trip up chatting to both my passengers about all things running and other matters we arrived there in time to meet up with a few other runners and head out for dinner together that Emjay had organised. Some more runners turned up and it was a very pleasant evening. I was trying to put up a calm exterior but on the inside the nerves were starting to hit already, I knew I hadn't prepared that well for the race as my longest run since the Canberra marathon was a 25km run at SMC about 3 weeks ago.

We got down to the start at about 6:30 and collected our race numbers and had a bit of a warm up. I said hello to a few folk that had made the trip north from Sydney as well. At 7 we were off and I set off at a comfortable pace with Silver fox heading out of the Trial Bay Gaol Caravan Park and down into the township. We were joined by a Port Tri Club runner. We had a brief introduction and chat and it was clear he meant business when he told us that his target was around 2:45.

At about 3km I increased the pace a bit as I thought it was a tad tardy. Both silver fox and the 'Port' dropped back a bit. We were still heading out of town at this stage and I was just concentrating getting into a good rhythm and making sure the breathing was fine. The lead bicycle that led us out of town made way for a 4WD and before long we were on the long straight, flat roads that run parallel with the river. It felt great along this section. The wind was gentle and filling the lungs and the scenery was really good.

I went through 10km in 37:30 and thought this was a bit fast so backed right off but maintained the lead from 'Port'. 14km passed in 53:00 and soon after this marker is when the headwind hit and really made life a little difficult. It wasn't a strong headwind but it was enough to make it a tad uncomfortable. I was really looking forward to getting to the 21.1km turnaround point so I would have the wind at my back!

Unfortunately this was not to be and as soon as I turned around I suffered 2 blows; I was passed by 'Port' and the headwind that was now meant to be a tailwind disappeared! Nada, nothing, not a breath. Heading back in along the long roads I never let the leader get more than 20m ahead and I felt I was always in control of the situation maintaining that distance. My tactic was to stick to him and then at some point put in a big effort and see if he had the strength to respond. On the way back, I was able to see all the guys still heading to the turnaround. Silver fox was running 4th and looking good, Eagle had barely warmed up and Seris and Pete were cruising along very nicely together of course!

Heading back into town, the lack of long training runs was beginning to show and I never got around to putting in that last big effort. I could see 'Port' pulling away and all I could do to respond was to raise the effort slightly. I had my first GU hoping that the second wind would kick in but to be honest I was beginning to look back fearing that my pace had dropped enough for third place to make inroads. I was relieved to see no one in sight.

So heading back into Trial Bay Gaol, we had to run along a bike path that weaves in and around some bushland. I could not see the leader anymore but I decided that it was now or never and really dug deep for the last 5 km. It was a hard slog but I eventually got to the entrance of the van park to hear the race announcer call over the PA that the race leader was about 200m away. That really surprised me...that meant I was about 400m behind. I really sprinted the last section and finished in 2:47:36. which was a minute and 3 seconds behind the winner. I was ecstatic, surprised and buggered!

I got a lot of hugs and handshakes and pats on the back. I really appreciated every one's congratulations. The Coolrunning crew, the Woodstock crew and the Bankstown crew were all there. I was really pleased with my race. It was a PB and my first time under 4 minute kms for the marathon distance. Coming second was a huge bonus too.

Shortly after I watched Silver fox come in for a superb third place, arms raised and fists clenched! I was so pleased for him and knew that he would be a pleased man. At the presentations we both got a nice glass trophy that I'm sure has already taken pride of place in his pool room as I know it has in mine!

On the way back, Eagle and I chatted about some our races and how they panned out. Eagle had a real tussle for the age category win but gutsed it out and showed his class to win. He is a legend, but even legends can't convince me to run for 36 hours in the GNW100 miler (but I enjoyed listening to his tales!)

This was one fantastic weekend and I reckon that this event is just tops.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Busy Weekend Take 2!!

Life's starting to feel about like 'Groundhog Day' at the moment. Talk about getting the most out of life.

On Saturday I made my debut appearance for Bankstown Sports at the NSW Cross Country Championships at Miranda. As stated in an earlier post, I am not entirely happy that I was left with little choice but to change clubs for ANSW events. But on the positive side, all the Bankstown folk made me feel very welcome and I even received a nice photo in the email from one of the members!

As far as the race went, 4km (and I think it was much shorter than that) is definitely not my ideal distance! Way too short! I do think, however, that I did my best and held my own in the race. I was in the open males and just running with the elite of NSW was enjoyable in itself, even if they were flying past me at ridiculous pace.

On Sunday, I had planned two runs: the MS Fun Run at North Sydney (8km) and the Great NOSH (15km). It was always my intention to take the MS run hard and then lay off and coast around for the Great NOSH. After all, I did not want to pick up an injury or overdo it with the Macleay River Marathon next weekend.

Anyway, I ended up coming 4th in the MS run and first in my age group. This is my first major prize at a fun run. It was a tough little course too. Of course, I wouldn't be a runner if I wasn't entirely happy! I was holding on to 3rd for a section of the run, but lost 3rd place in the last 2 kilometres. Something to work on for next time I suppose.

What can I say about the Great NOSH? I think this is one of the best running courses I have ever done. I mean it does involve a little more than just running, with elements of rock climbing, bush bashing and mountain running constantly making it interesting and keeping the mind busy. I ran around with a fellow Woodstock lady and we had a great time just soaking in the atmosphere. I can't wait until next year. I will make sure I don't have a run before the race or a major run the following weekend and I will give this a real bash. I think I could do well on this course. I am a bit of a mountain goat on tight, rocky singletrack!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Busy weekend!

A busy weekend of running!

Started off on Saturday morning with the Woodstock Handicap run around the Bay. I love this race, it's always a great way to catch up with my fellow club members and I love the handicap race format-each runner theoretically finishing at the same time (and as close to their estimated time as possible). I put down 26 minutes for the 7km route, which I thought was a good estimation based on my current form. The rules are quite simple. Beat your estimated time by more than 1 minute and you're disqualified. So I knew that I would be safe!

Ended up doing the course in 25:48 which in an Iron Cove PB. Overall I finished 4th in the handicap. To finish up the morning, Woodstock put on a BBQ and breakfast. We are having a bit of a member drive at the anyone reading this and would like to join a fantastic club - look no further than Woodstock!

At 3pm I then headed out to Dundas to compete in the West Metro Cross Country Series. These races are growing on me. They are hard and tough (today's course was the toughest so far) but this can only be beneficial. The competition is very good too, with runners from many local clubs participating. Today I took it out too hard, trying to go with a few others I have finished close too in the past races. Bad mistake...the morning run combined with the tough, hilly, grass course took it out of me and I was shot after the first of 4, 2km laps. I soldiered on and finished in 33:19 for the 8km course. A lesson learnt!

On Sunday morning I rose on time (made sure of it after last month's race) for the last long race of the SMC series. Having to run this race to qualify for the awards, and still tired from yesterday's races, I didn't expect great things. But once again, SMC brings out the best in my running for some reason. It must be the course and the superb organisation as lately I have been running some pleasing times out there.

It turned out to be a very interesting race and in the end, 15 seconds separated 2nd and 5th place. Positions 2 - 4 swapped places many times throughout the race, while I was always just hovering behind the pack waiting to make my move in 5th place. Unfortunately, the move occurred a little late and I couldn't quite reel in any positions. But it was a good time 1:35:50 for 25km and am happy with that going into Macleay River in two weeks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

SMH Half Marathon 2008

An absolutely beautiful day for running in Sydney today. Geez, these weather reports can be so wrong sometimes! I hardly felt a breath of wind all morning (except those wind tunnels in between skyscrapers) and so much for the rain that was predicted - just lovely blue sky nice and cool conditions.

I crossed the finish line in about 80 and half minutes. About 2 minutes outside my best, but I am very happy with the run, despite not achieving my pre-race goal of sub 80 (which would have got me a preferred start for next year). Ironically I finished a place or two behind Anita Keem (I heard the race announcer call her name as she was finishing). At the State 10k two weeks ago I finished one place ahead of her!

Righto...the race report. I'm not quite sure what the plan was today except to get away quickly to avoid the human traffic at the start and get into a pack and pace it out with someone else. Unfortunately, I seemed to be always on my own for a lot of the race, and, while I think the 'passing' ratio was pretty even, I never really could get into a real steady rhythm. I hardly looked at my watch all race too...I'm sure I could have gone under 80 had I been more attentive to the time. I remember going through 5k in 17:20, which suggested a good time was on the cards. I didn't see the 10k marker, so have no way of knowing my split but I have an inkling between 5 and 10 was quite a bit slower.

After passing the start line for the second lap, things did improve slightly and by the time I reached Hickson Rd for the second time I was beginning to reel in quite a few. But the Hunter St hill undid a lot of this good work and I really struggled to get my flow back up the top on Macquarie St. It was until the run down to the Botanical Gardens did I feel like I was back on track. I was pleased with my finish, although the new finish line position is not as 'finish friendly' as last year's. Two 90 degree turns slows down the momentum I had built up running up to St Mary's Cathedral.

This race last year was my first race after picking up running again after a long, long retirement! I have come the complete circle and I am stoked about the lifestyle choice I made in April last year. So a big tick, I beat last year's time! Now to tick off other corresponding 2007 events!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

SMH eve and I'm running?

Headed down to Winston Hills for the West Metro run to get a little speed into the legs before tomorrow's SMH Half Marathon. Yes, some would call this foolhardy but a small trot before a big run has never done me much harm in the past. I intended to do the 4km run but got there a little late for that so entered the 8km with the intention to take the first 4km reasonably hard and then coast around for the remainder. Was happy that for once I actually did stick to the race plan...well almost. I couldn't resist doing a little bit of 'racing' with one of the fellows from Hills who tried to take me at about 4km. We played a little game of cat and mouse for about a km before common sense prevailed and I dropped the pace right back to save the legs for tomorrow.

I came in 6th in about 30:00. The second lap would have been at least a minute and a half slower than the first but that is a good warm up for tomorrow...I hope! They are forecasting rain and wind so it's sounding like it's going to be a real slog out there. Should sort the men from the boys! A nice big dinner tonight and a few beers while watching the dragons play is just about the best preparation one could have!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mothers Day Classic - Parramatta Park

Headed down to Parramatta Park on Sunday morning to have a crack at the 8km race. Lining up on the start line were all the usual suspects that I run into at most races now. There must have been some prize money on offer, although the money offered these days is nothing compared to 10 or more years ago when running was in vogue.

Started off again way to quick and was feeling the pain by 5km. The legs felt OK but it was the engine that was complaining. Was happy to see the results have my as 12th home and 10 male. And it was an 8k PB.

Good to see some other Woodstock Runners there this morning.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I Think I Can...I Think I Can....

Australian Mountain Running Champs - Mt Tennant, ACT

Why am I putting myself through this hell? Seriously someone answer me because I'd love to know. The only justification I have is that it will toughen me up and make me stronger on the flats. That's the theory anyway.

After my very fortuitous 3rd place in the NSW champs (see previous post), I thought I'd give this a go as it may be the one and only time I'll do it. Anyway the course was tough, 2.5km up a mountain, then back down, then back up another 6km to the summit. But steep and unrelenting pain and anguish. Shut up and toughen up Mr D!

Finished in 10th spot in a pretty good time that wasn't too far off the pace. I am getting better at running this uphill stuff. Its all about rhythm (if you can call it that) and breathing and having the balls and heart to keep going when all you want to do is dig a hole to lie in.

ANSW wield the axe.

Damn ANSW and the bureaucracy of running administration and their brutal policy decisions.

I have just found out that Woodstock can no longer be an affiliated club with ANSW due to 'new policy' recently tabled by them. Seems for an athletics club to remain affiliated it must have at least 30 members who are registered with them. Not only is this a little unrealistic for Woodstock, but I'm sure there's many smaller clubs in the same boat that have now been relegated to the 'second division' of running clubs.

Woodstock has a proud history. It has been at times in its past a very strong running club. However, it's charter has always been to promote health and running around the inner west, rather than competing with the top tier clubs such as Striders, Hills etc. It has had its fair share of fine athletes, and still has many runners who consistently win their age categories at fun runs.

The recent decision now closes the door for any members to represent its club at ANSW events. That means that the 5 members (me included) who do represent Woodstock at these events are forced to join bigger athletic clubs. This stinks, and no disrespect to other clubs. I'm sure that its just a way that ANSW is trying to cut down on their paperwork and therefore save administration costs, or force these smaller clubs to pay up to 30 members. They say it is for 'insurance reasons', but I still stand by that it's just crazy that any policy that pushes any athlete away from their local club.

Woodstock will go on. It has some great masters runners and a good mix of younger males and females. Unfortunately the more serious athlete looking for a club will no longer see the club as an option. Look out for me wearing the colours of Bankstown Sports in the future. Hey, at least this way I can now compete in the relays...some small consolation.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Broken Bike but no DNF!!

Seriously need to go shopping for a new with dual suspension! I didn't realise how tough this race would be. The track is one tough mother...unrelenting and torturous on the bony arse if you have a hardtail like me.

My brother-in-law Ian and I entered this race a while ago. It seemed like a good idea at the time but we both knew we were using it as an excuse we could give our wives so we could go out on the weekend and bash around the Shire. Running every day is one thing but training for a 100km mountain bike ride through mountains on filthy, muddy, rocky, sandy, slippery track is another. To summarise, I finished, I managed to add an extra 10km onto the ride and I even managed to turn it into a triathlon of sorts!

We made it to St Albans the night before at around 11pm and I slept in the back of my station wagon (very comfortable) and woke to a very cool morning at 5am. Sorted out the equipment and race package and we made our way down to the start area for a 6:30 start. Being stupid enough to believe I could match it with the best of them, I convinced Ian to start in the second wave (wave 4 probably would have been more appropriate like Ian was saying!) Going up the first hill and beyond we were being passed by heaps of riders all on duel suspension bikes, it was then I started plotting how I would convince my good wife that a new bike was in order!

And it was cold! At about 30km I actually started to get in a good rhythm as I was warming was so cold condensation was dripping off my helmet. I Was tackling the drops and jumps and uphills quite nicely and although my speed was much slower than other riders, I knew that I would make the 100km at that pace and not be too taxing on the body. I was giving it my best go without being stupid.

Until about 35km when I finally dropped far enough back in the pack (or is it they caught up with me?) where there were other riders of similar speed around. I was trying to weave in between two large rocks on the side of a trail as a massive puddle was taking up almost the entire width of the trail. As I was pushing out of it my pedal clipped one of the rocks and sent me sideways almost into the puddle. Being clipped in - my knee and my pride took a knock as the riders behind me took off.

I made it to the 50km mark in about 3 hours 40 minutes. Probably put me middle of the field. I was feeling strong and was even looking forward to catching a few riders in the next 50 when I was hoping my endurance would kick in.

Not to be. At about 60km a giant stick poked out from the depths of hell and got sucked into my back wheel and 'snap' there goes my end bit (the 'bit' that holds the derailleur to the frame). I thought my race was over. I really didn't know what to do...except walk back about 5km to a checkpoint and wait for a lift back to the marshaling area. The lovely SES ladies manning/womanning? the checkpoint didn't really know what to do so I just sat down and contemplated my first DNF while watching other riders cruise past.

Lots of riders showed concern and offered to help but not much could be done (not many people keep spare welders in their back packs!) so I just decided to lay back and soak up some sun while waiting for Ian to come past and tell him I was pulling out and I'd see him at the finish. I was there for about 40 minutes until a rider who asked what was wrong with my bike told me there was a workshop set up at the 50km checkpoint, about 10km back the way I had come. I guess I should have known that so I will be reading the race instructions more closely in the future!

Thankfully the 10km back to the checkpoint was mostly all downhill and I ran/coasted my bike down there in double time (the run leg of my own personal triathlon). On the way down I met another guy who had the same damage to his bike so we both limped into the workshop and in unison asked for the same thing! About 3o minutes later I was back on my bike so to speak and redoing 10km of uphill that I had already done.

Riding past, I said a cheerio to the lovely ladies who kept me company in my enforced break and not long after was riding in virgin territory. Just on a side, the countryside around here is absolutely beautiful; so lush, green and untouched-and some of the views are breathtaking.

The next 10km was easily the hardest riding I have ever done.Just loose rocks, sand and boulders everywhere. There is absolutely no good lines to take and if you have a hardtail bike - good luck. I was spending 90% of the time out of the saddle which is incredibly tiring.

At 70km there is a river crossing that is a makeshift bridge (about 40m) made up of metal planks (about 1m wide) being floated up by ropes and canoes. Other riders were walking their bikes across but I was at the stage now where I had to find the funny side of things so I decided to give riding across a go. After calling "all bets in" to other competitors and marshals I headed across. Hello swim leg!!

It was actually quite a good dive, many said it was worth a 8.5 for sure! It was refreshing to say the least. Following this section was some road riding and then the last 15 or so km back on the dirt. But first, of course, the sadists in charge made us climb another monster set of hills. About 5km up later I caught up with Teeds who was suffering a bit with cramps and fatigue. We stayed together for the rest of the race.

So 9 hours, 16 minutes and 29 seconds after we set off, we crossed the finish line, arms raised together in triumph. We had done it and it felt great! (until we had to line up to get over at Wiseman's Ferry for 2 hours)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

State 10K PB

I can't believe it but I achieved another distance PB this morning. Finished in a time of 35:49 and have cracked the 36 minute 10k for the first time. From the results it looks like I finished 64th. That means I am the 64th quickest person over 10km in the State!! Of course I'm not including the thousands of thousands of others capable of beating that time that didn't run on the day, but hey, I like the sounds of 64th in the State!

There were lots and lots of athletes out there this morning. Gorgeous running conditions, the course was flat and the turnaround points were very wide enabling the momentum to be maintained. Lots of PBs out there today. Well done everybody!

I tried to stick with some of the big guns from the start but as the race developed I just couldn't go with them as much as I tried. I just don't have the maybe some more intervals might be in order. I will also look at my technique as it could quite possibly be working against me.

But am happy as Larry that these P's are coming thick and fast. Surely now they have to stop? Who knows until next weekend!

On a side note, I have to buy a smaller running singlet. That chest hair can be no good for wind resistance!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sydney Marathon Clinic PB

I set the alarm this morning for 5:46 to give myself plenty of time for the morning rituals and the travel out to Smithfield for the Sydney Marathon Clinic series. I'd love to know what happened because after I turned off my alarm the next time I opened my eyes it was 6:36 giving me about 20 minutes to get there!

If it wasn't for the fact that I have to run the rest of the races to qualify for the awards at the end of the series, I would have gladly gone back to bed. Being on holidays and Indian Premier League has cut into my sleeping patterns! So I grab whatever gear I can find and race off still wondering whether this would be in vain. I did have a backup plan of doing the 10k that starts at 7:30 in any case. Let's just say it's a good thing there wasn't any highway patrol out because I managed somehow to get there and register and get myself over to the start line with about 3 minutes to spare. They kindly started the race a little late too which even gave me time to pin my number on and take a quick leak in the bushes.

It must have been the adrenalin from the drive over already circulating around the system because it just felt so good out there this morning. The conditions were great for running and as always the SMC people and volunteers had the aid stations well stocked. I ended up running 1:18.18 which is a massive PB and came in 2nd place. A lot of the big guns were missing today (probably recovering PROPERLY from Canberra) so that placing is a little skewed in terms of the series as a whole but I'll take it!

I always knew my old half PB (1:24) was on the way out but I didn't expect a sub 80 minute half so soon and so soon after a marathon. Maybe I should run late for every race!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I went over Ian's house last weekend for some mountain biking around Engadine. When I got there he showed me a photo on his computer of me taken at his engagement party in November 2006. I think it was this one. I think I am the one on the left..but like Ian said he wasn't sure who that was when he saw the photo!

This would have been taken around the time when I was at the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I may even had been a little heavier the following January as I did have a 6 week holiday in Vietnam just after this photo was taken! Yum!!

It was the following March when I decided that I no longer wanted to have the lifestyle that led to me looking like that. It wasn't a decision based on body image or appearance, but purely on health and lifestyle choices. I see the physical changes as a bonus. I have to thank Ian for giving me the kick-start that I needed. It was Ian who first floated the idea of running and mountain biking together. Since then he has become my brother-in-law and have spent many hours together training and just 'chewing the fat' together. I look forward to riding Dirtworks 100km race in a few weeks with him heaps. So thank you Ian. By the way, he has a great new blog here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Doing a Bradbury! NSW Mountain Running Championship 2008

NSW Mountain Running Championships - Figtree

The vernacular 'doing a Bradbury' is a term most typical Australian sports lovers would understand. Much less would actually get to experience the phenomenon in the sporting field.

Yesterday I did.

I headed down to Figtree for the mountain running champs. I love the bush...whether I'm hiking, running or biking through it, so this event was always on the cards. I knew it would be a hard run, 12km of almost vertical climbing with only a few brief reliefs. But after 6 foot track I was up for the challenge.

When I got there I was surprised to see how small the open men's field was. For a state championship event I was expecting over 50 or closer to 100 competitors. But only 9 men had made the trip down to Figtree today. That's a long way from the 800 or so the similar, yet longer, 6 foot track attracts.

So at 9:30 off we go in what had to be the slowest start to any race I have seen. Tony 'Fats' Fattorini and Stephen Brown go 'jogging' off up arguably the steepest street in Wollongong while I settle into 5th or 6th and the legs start burning like nothing else. I would have walked if it wasn't for the marshals and other competitors around. After all it did say mountain 'running' not mountain 'get yourself up to the top any bloody way you can' championships. Last weeks marathon was definitely still lingering in the legs.

So up this fire trail we go and it thankfully starts to level out and I get some rhythm going before we hit a road and up we go again. I knew we weren't meant to stay on this road long before we hook to the left and follow the track to Mount Burelli. Unfortunately not many other runners knew.

I knew something was awry when I asked a marshal working at the bordering motocross track if he had seen a mob of runners come through on this track. His answer was "Yeah, but only one or two". Hang on....the maths isn't right here?? So I continue on and I get a confirmation from some of the juniors and masters runners (that ran and finished earlier) that were coming down the trail, perhaps as a warm down, that I was on the right track. "Thank God for that", I said. On this part of the trail there was also some large stretches where you could see way ahead. I couldn't see my closest opponent which surprised me as I had picked up the pace and settled into a nice steady pace. I was sure I was getting closer to at least one or two of them.

As I passed the summit checkpoint which was also doubling as the finish line, I knew that there was only a long downhill and then back up the hill to go so I was expecting to see the runners ahead of me coming back up the mountain as I was running down. First I saw Stephen Brown, then Fats about 20 seconds later. Then no one. When I got to the turnaround point at the bottom it confirmed what I was already thinking, what the hell happened to all the other runners?

About half way back up the mountain there come the runners coming down, well three of them anyway. Seems they had taken a wrong turn into the motocross track and ran an extra km or two before they realised their mistake. One other runner, who was running a clear third at the time, later informed the group that he had inadvertently just kept running up Mt Kembla until he got to the top.

So while I pick up a bronze medal, I feel terrible for the other runners. It was probably a combination of not knowing the course area and not enough officialdom that caused their mistakes. I must say all the other runners were great about it...very accepting and they all genuinely congratulated me even though I knew I didn't deserve it. While I may have been able to pick up a place or two, there was no way I was going to get third if the runners all followed the route truly.

Oh well, I suppose this does justify the registration fee for NSW Athletics after all...and who would of thought that a runner from the tiny Woodstock stables would win an open athletics medal? You could have taken millions on that.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sydney West Metro X County Race 4

Finally got around to attending a run in the Sydney West Metropolitan Cross County series. I haven't run a club X Country since I used to go around with St George at Scarborough Park eons ago. After a quick drive from Engadine following the days mountain biking, we made it with about 5 minutes to spare before the start of the long race. When I found out it was 10k today I was less than impressed as I was looking forward to just doing a gentle 7 or 8.

After about 2km it pelted down and knew that would be the end of Nadine's spectating as she made a dash to the car for shelter and to read her uni notes. But the good news is I am winning her around and spectating two weeks in a row is a huge victory in my eyes! Back to the was 2 laps of a 5km course. I recognised a few faces. As per normal there were the token 1 or 2 other Woodstock runners among a sea of Striders, Girraween, Hills et al. Really wet and muddy course and was quite cold my feet were toes were numb for a while.

Checked the Telegraph today and found out I did it in 38.24 and finished 1st in the 30-39 age bracket. I hope to get to a few more of these races this year.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Canberra Marathon 2008

What a day! Canberra put on 4 seasons in a day yesterday.

I'm over the moon with my result, made even better because a lot of my family were down there to welcome me into the finish line - thanks guys! Ye old sage Colin said at the 10k on Saturday I'd do 2:48. He is a good judge of form. I finished in 2:49:49 and 23rd position.

From starting out in rain I got to 10k in 38 something and knew it was quite quick but that did include some large downhill stretches, especially around Parliament House. Between 13 and 19 km out on the deserted highway I hooked onto a mini pack which was being well driven by a classy athlete. Lost touch with this group around the turnaround point and got through the half mark in 1:21 something. Normally I would be stoked with a half PB but not when I have another half again to go! So knew things were going to get ugly. Was passed by a few others including the 3 leading ladies on the way back. Was getting very fatigued by 33km and the sun didn't help here. Splits were slipping away but was constantly being encouraged by the crowd, some fellow Woodstockians and of course my CoolRunning buddies! Thanks heaps, was trying to do the same back in vain with my gasping for breath.

At 38km something strange happened and I got another wind and thought I 'mentally' picked up the pace. Did some quick calculations and had my sights set on a sub 2:50. I pushed hard the last 5 km a lot harder. At this point I was having second thoughts about the 50k option. Coming into the last stretch which is a lot longer than it looks and I was racing the clock to get under 2:50. Got there with 10 seconds to spare and then literally yanked the little red ribbon off my number and threw it down in very dramatic fashion. There was no way I was taking another step! Sat down and almost threw up 5 GUs next to the lovely lady helping me to take off the timing chip but managed to hold it down.

A new marathon PB but I think I can shave a few minutes more off with some consistent pacing. Bring on Macleay River!

Monday, March 10, 2008

6 Foot Track 2008

I'm confined to sitting on the couch and nursing a very sore right hamstring following an awesome day at the 6 Foot Track Marathon. Boy I had fun yesterday!

I started in Wave 2. On advice from some seasoned 6 footers I got to the front right from the start and sprinted down to the start of the narrow descent of Nellies Glen. There were one or two other second wavers in front and were hopping down the stairs like mountain goats and I felt that this was the way to go so latched on to them. Probably could not have pushed it any harder down there. I was jumping two and three stairs at a time, and paying caution to the wind. Started collecting the back markers from wave one half way down and they were very considerate, moving aside at appropriate times to let us pass. The fella in front of me was very good at asking them to move…think his mate was calling him 'Whippet'. So whippet thanks for not only getting me down quickly but for showing me how to ask people to step aside! Then got stuck in to the run earnestly at the undulating kilometres before Cox's river. Was really pushing the pace and remember seeing the 10km marker and looking on my watch and it said 44 something. Got held up by a small conga line for about 10 minutes in the thick overgrown singletrack section coming into Cox's River but looking back that was probably a good thing as it forced me to slow down and think about the climbs ahead instead of going as fast as I could now. Only thing I didn't like about being caught behind other runners was that it doesn't give you a lot of time to scan the ground for rocks etc and in this section rolled the same ankle twice but managed to run out the pain both times. Was encouraged by a first waver who told me I was on pace for sub 4 but this meant little to me. It was my first 6 foot and I was just enjoying the moment! Got to Coxes River in 1:11:26 - 20th quickest according to the results.

Leading into the race I had read on the coolrunning forums that if you go too quick early you pay for it later. I was definitely going to test the theory! Started up mini mini jogging but realised that I could probably power walk as fast and save some juice in the meantime. So employed a 'powerwalk then surge' policy, 25 metres walk, 50m run and that seemed to work well. Knew it was the way to go when I was continuing to pull in first wavers using this method. In the saddle section I really put the hammer down again and got into a good rhythm before reaching the next big climb up to the Pluviometer. Again employed the same uphill method but the power walking wasn't quite as powerful and the running surges were becoming shorter and shorter in length but somehow I got to the top in 2:21:54 - according to spreadsheet had dropped 5 spots to 25th. Along Black Range Rd I really struggled to keep up the leg speed but persevered at a slow pace. I remember being passed by a couple of second wavers who were obviously treating this section like the business end, while I was desperately trying to hang on. I was spurred on and thankfully the form and leg speed did return and I was running the smaller hills again nicely. I kept a few runners in my sight and actually started to pull in a few more first wavers and early wavers. The little deviation of a hill before Caves Rd (probably the steepest on the course) made me think of digging a hole to die in but I soldiered on. Crossed Caves Rd and tried to open up but was really struggling. I remember walking at some points up hills that weren't really even hills so lost some time here. Was passed by my running mate Bear whom I had passed all the way back going up Pluvi. Thanks for your words of encouragement mate–they spurred me on just when I needed it. He told me that it was all downhill from here, so that was a real boost.

As I started the descent into Jenolan I was struck by the worst stitch imaginable so was really constricted in how fast I could run. 500m into the drop the stitch did start to disappear so I really put the foot down. I could have easily done some major damage like an ankle or knee here, I was just trying to get to the bottom now ASAP and didn't care about anything else. Along the handrail section I was literally sprinting and even managed to catch a first waver right on the finish line (see photo). Finish time was 4:04:47 and 28th position. After a shower, massage and some food, I watched some competitors come in and this was the icing on what was a brilliant day. To see some of the expressions, the images of joy, determination and encouragement reminded me why I love this sport. I saw people finish arm in arm, others limping in cramping up, others fist thumping, some being hugged by spouses and kids…yeah that stuff is priceless. Listening to the announcer, it sounded as if everyone got a PB or achieved their goals for the day and boy she knew a lot about the competitors! I have never felt the camaraderie or encouragement in any other sport before. If you finished 1st, 101st or dead last, everyone that finished was treated like a champion. This is one tough race and if you finish you have achieved something that you will hang onto for the rest of your life.

The track was awesome, the weather could not have been any better and the aid stations resembled smorgasbords. I loved every second of it and am looking forward to next year already. This would have to be one of the best races going around! If you ever get the chance 'just do it'!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Two Fun Runs In One Morning!

Well 6 weeks in Europe has left me pretty starved of races. Despite my best attempts, I couldn't find a race anywhere in any of the places we stayed at that particular time. You'd think there would be a race in Paris somewhere during the week leading up to New Years wouldn't you?? But no, seems the French are too busy smoking their cigars and drinking their fancy wine to organise races around this time of year! Mind you, I don't blame them...way too chilly to get up at 7 in the morning and go running (even though I managed plenty of training runs).

Germany was probably my best bet as it seems every second person is a runner over there. Seriously, runners everywhere and it was colder there than France! But no, the boss was in charge and there were no gaps in the itinerary for me to indulge my obsessions!

Well I bottled up my frustrations and let it all out this morning by doing the Menai Marketplace Fun Run (8.2km) which started at 9, then hurrying back along the M5 to make the Canterbury Fun Run (6km) which started at 10:15. The Menai Run was a tough course with lots of challenging little hills and I was happy with my result coming in 6th over the line (all the altitude training in Germany came in handy!) The Canterbury Run was a flat out and back course that followed the Cooks River. It was encouraging to see some fellow Woodstockians there. With me in the photo is Derek White, an octogenarian and still running strong! I ended up in 12th place.

A top morning and I'm glad to be back in Australia!