Sunday, September 27, 2015

Vets handicap and the QOM

The final KOM/QOM series race in the Vets handicap was today (best 3 results out of the 4 events decides the winners). In the past this event has been scored on age% results, so I would never factor in the placings. For some reason this year it was switched to a point score, which depends on where you finish overall in each series event. Going into this final event, to my surprise, I was leading by 14 points. To seal the victory I needed to finish close enough to the next closest rival (Nadine) to retain the lead. Nadine was starting 2 groups ahead (1:30 head start) and is a stronger runner than me. So it was going to be a challenge. The numbers said the following: if Nadine finished in 12th place or lower, it didn't matter how far behind I finished as my top 3 scores would be enough; if she finished 11th place or higher, I had to be within 14 places of her to get enough points to stay in top position. To add to the challenge, I've been injured and unable to do much running, let alone any hill training and the right calf has been sending threatening messages all week. The goal for the handicap was to show up and run and hope the right calf didn't follow through with its threats!
Altitude profile of the event

This is probably the toughest of the KOM/QOM events, it gets a difficulty factor of 1.14. Total altitude gain is 173 m over 8 km, ups, downs and lots of turns. I have only run this course once before back in 2011 and it's been a really long time since I ran on these trails. I forgot how tough it was. The first mistake was to go out too quickly, and at the 2km point I regretted the fast start. However, I had made up a lot of time on Nadine and could see her ahead. From there I hoped I could stay close enough to complete the challenge! But with the fast start and lack of adequate training, my pace slowed substantially and it was strugglesville out there. At the turn around point I noted I still wasn't far behind BUT we were catching all the slower runners and that meant more people finishing between myself and Nadine. Add to this that I was really struggling, so in my mind it was going down to the wire. I tried to reel in as many slower runners as I could, but I honestly felt like I was going backwards! I came across the line in 30th place and the score sheet showed Nadine had finished in 18th place. Official finish places (eligible for points) were 14th and 25th, so I had done just enough to finish 5 points clear in the QOM.

It was a beautiful morning for the event with a good turn out. It was nice to see Speedy Geoff back and healthy and Maria O had a great run to take the bronze medal just behind Dave C who took the silver. Finally Spring is in the air. It was lovely to finish the morning with a coffee at Sea Salt with Ruth, Jen, Margaret, Gregg and late comers Sheryl, Beryl and a couple of others I don't know. Here's hoping the right calf has been silenced and I can get back out in the hills.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Injuries and magpies

I think I have a subconscious love of being swooped and hit by magpies. I say subconscious as my conscious mind lives in fear of aggressive magpies. It seems I have a pretty good record of getting injured during the magpie swooping season. This is problematic as cycling becomes the mode of exercise and on a bike you are more likely to encounter more magpies by virtue of the extra distance you do. I also think magpies are more aggressive towards cyclists than runners/pedestrians, so you just get hit more.
They hit hard, they probably need their own helmet!
There's been a frustrating series of injuries that started with a fall while running in Mulligans flat resulting in a sprained the right wrist. Obviously not a running body part, BUT clearly I was distracted by this injury as about 200m later I rolled my right ankle. I felt lucky to get out of Mulligans flat in one piece that day! The ankle had a mild sprain, running was still possible without much pain and strapping helped keep things stable. However, it is likely this meant I was putting extra load on the left leg, as a week later while out doing a long run, I developed calf/achilles pain in the left leg. This was unpleasant enough to make me cut the run short. A follow up run a couple of days later confirmed this was an injury that needed rest and recovery, which brings us back to the magpies! Yes, since then I've been spending more time on the bike and am paying the price! Spring is in the air, babies are in the nest and magpies are sending a 'message'.

Please let this calf injury heal quickly or those magpies might run me off the road and who knows what other damage I might do!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

38th in #38

It was parkrun #38 on Saturday and as has been the case of late, numbers are being quirky and coincidental. I came across the line in 38th position for #38. Physio advice is to stay away from going flat out or doing fast intervals until the neural symptoms are under control. For now parkruns are a good way to get in a training session by running them at a hardish pace. So for #38 the splits were 4:38; 4:40; 4:31; 4:41; 4:44 - 23:15. A good effort that should have a beneficial training effect.
Sunday run around Ainslie

The downside in doing some harder training is that it leads to tiredness for the long runs. A lap today around Ainslie and along the Ainslie/Majura saddle was to tough slog. Ah well next week is the monthly handicap on Sunday, so no parkrun and a shorter long run will hopefully help manage that tiredness.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Parkrun #37 in some mizzle

The grey skies and light mizzle were not a hindrance at Gungahlin parkrun today. The conditions were actually pretty good for running. All the Gunners runners were joined by Gary Wilmot and his crew from Hearts Across Australia. It was good to have some red hearts to brighten up the day. Gary (aka no more Mr Fat Guy) is doing good things to raise money for the Heart Foundation.

Go Gary (B)!
Familiar faces doing the run today included Gary Bowen and the ever consistent Margaret McSpadden. The approach to parkruns in the next little while is to try and do them at a tempo pace. Intervals and racing are a trigger for neural symptoms, so it is best to limit those!  It took about 500m to free things up and get a bit of rhythm. However, it was not a tempo rhythm, 'twas a tad quicker, oops. The original goal was to be just a bit quicker than last week and get in under 24 mins. As it turns out, I judged the pace poorly and got in under 23 mins (22:59 official time). Ah well, it was probably good to 'clear out the cobwebs' as some like to say and it didn't trigger any neural issues. Km rates were 4:41; 4:41; 4:35; 4:41; 4:40. Pretty consistent!
Now the question remains what to make of number 32? At last month's handicap I ran off group 32 and finished in 32nd position. Last week I finished parkrun in 32nd position. This week there were 132 runners and I finished in 32nd position........ hmmmmm. Gary B managed 24:06 today and Margaret M 30:49. Gary Wilmot took it easy to finish in a leisurely 32:41.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Parkrunners in the mist

After a long hiatus away from parkrun, today seemed as good a time as any to head back. There is no real resolution of the muscle problems, but as they will remain a part of life, it's all about 'management'. Craig Wisdom from Kingston Physiotherapy thinks the tight muscle issues are probably neural in origin thanks to a very stiff lower back. Oh the joys of aging! He has advised that for the time being it is better to stay away from interval training and to not push too hard during parkruns. The plan also includes trying to introduce more flat terrain runs with the aim to build distance. There are also plenty of back exercises and 'nerve flossing'.
Nadine speeding through the fog
There was a thick fog around Yerrabi Pond for the start of parkrun. Many thanks to the hardy volunteers out on the course! Nadine and Margaret (who finished in 31:35) were 2 familiar faces in the crowd at the start. As expected I lost sight of Nadine very quickly, she finished in a sharp 22:10, a good 2 minutes ahead of moi. It's been a while since the legs have been asked to go any quicker than 5min/km pace, so it proved challenging convincing them just to do that. In the end it was a nice negative split run. Kms were 4:54; 4:58; 4:42; 4:46: 4:40 = 24:06. Not bad going off a tough half marathon last weekend. It didn't feel easy, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Bush Capital Half Marathon Post Mortem

After managing to do some decent long and hilly runs over the last few months, it seemed like a reasonable idea to sign up to do the half marathon in the Bush Capital Bush Marathon Festival. I knew I could run the distance and I've run most of the course in training. Unfortunately my taper failed to freshen up my legs and I struggled out there today in the mud and puddles. My legs have been pretty tired over the last few weeks with a combination of leg exercises and long runs. Still I thought that a short long run (12 km) in the lead up weekend as well as few less leg exercises during the week would be enough rest and recovery. Unfortunately things weren't looking good with very tired legs on a run on Thursday and during a 4km light jog on Saturday.

There was torrential rain overnight and the course was wet and muddy with puddles and streams to traverse. We all had soaking wet feet from the 800m point and this soaking was reinforced in many locations around the course. Fortunately for those of us running the half marathon, the rain stopped and stayed away for the duration of the event. Big kudos to the ultra and marathon competitors who also had to contend with rain and the challenging slippery muddy course.
Plenty of this greeted the runners today

It was relatively warm and there wasn't much wind for the 9:30am start, shorts and t-shirt running conditions! As we started our way up to the Mount Ainslie trails, I knew I was in for a tough day as my legs were still tired and some neural symptoms were resulting in niggly muscles. I managed a tempo effort for the first 16km and was able to 'run' all the big climbs. However, at the last drink station, which was 5km from the finish, the worsening neural symptoms combined with fatigue saw my running grind to a halt, with the last 5km taking over 33mins!

I am left wondering what went wrong with the taper? It was so disappointing to turn up for the event with such tired legs. Clearly as one gets older, you need to look beyond running mileage and see what effect other activities are having on your ability to recover.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

More work in the hills

Keeping the runs in hilly terrain is helping keep the muscles happy and that means it is keeping me running! After an analysis, the evidence points to tight hip flexors and very weak glutes and core. Not at all surprising for someone with a desk job. The task now is to consistently perform a series of dynamic exercises that target those weaknesses. Each week will be reviewed and the exercises adjusted depending on progress. The good news is after only a couple of sessions, at least my balance is improving. Dynamic exercises are proprioceptively demanding!

Today was the monthly ACT veterans handicap held on the hilly Mount Ainslie course.  A good course to test the legs, despite it being cold and foggy. The start was chilly, but eventually I found some rhythm even if the heart rhythm was a bit dodgy between 2-4km. This odd heart rhythm thing keeps cropping up and I'm not sure what to make of it! However, such arrhythmias are not uncommon in older endurance athletes, so nothing to get too excited about at this point. 

I ran a tempo pace as best I could remembering there is a tough hill not far from the finish. This worked well and I gradually passed people that had started in groups ahead. As I neared the top of the climb I had passed at least 30 people and had not as yet been passed myself. However, I could easily hear Speedy Geoff coming up the hill and knew I needed to accelerate if I was to hold him off. This was also a timely reminder that I need to try some hill intervals to stop that backwards running feeling! It was a good thing it is a downhill finish and I fanged it as quickly as my legs would allow me. Indeed it was the lack of neuromuscular coordination that was the limiting factor running down that hill. However, it was good enough to hold off a fast finishing SG! I came across the line in 6th place, good enough for a silver medal on the day and SG was 8th good enough for the bronze! There was a bit of a mix up with the results, so we were incorrectly initially award gold and silver and thought we both had completed our medal sets. Alas it was not to be and we will have to hope for continued good form for future events.

Some results from the handicap (Thomas 9.3 km)

Position Name Time Age group Age grade%
6 Janene Kingston  47:40    W50    75
8 Geoff Moore  44:37    M65    81.5
15 Nadine Morrison  46:41   W45    70.3
16 David Clarke  41:40   M55    79.2
25 Steve Appleby  46:10   M60    74.5
42 Maria O'Rielly  48:01   W60    82
43 Helen Larmour  45:31   W55    82.2
55 Louise Sharp  41:34   W30    72.8
64 Roger Pilkington  51:41   M55    63
66 Stuart Doyle  35:58   M45    85.7
68 Ruth Baussmann  64:24   W65    65.2

Speedygeese Ainslie collage