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!