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!