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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Back to the hills

Oh the irony, as a 'flat lander' hills have always been a huge weakness, I feel like I'm going backwards most of the time when I run up hill. However, it seems hills are what have kept me running these last 6 months, not just the HRT. Going back to doing more runs on the flat has really aggravated my hamstrings. They get super sore and tight and are certainly not interested in racing parkruns. However, when I go back to running on short, steep rocky hills, the hamstrings stop complaining. Case in hand, I ran a hilly 21.3 km last weekend and it went pretty well all things considered. It was further than planned, but I didn't suffer any serious consequences from the run (except for a couple of unhappy toenails from the downhills!).  It is unclear why I am overloading the hamstrings on the flat, it could be to do with muscle weaknesses elsewhere such as the glutes and core. So I am currently consulting with someone on how to correct these imbalances and see if I can banish tired and tight hamstrings. Only time will tell. Watch this space.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A little bit of training

When I first moved to Canberra, I joined the speedygeese training sessions held at Dickson oval. This was a fun way to meet other runners and boost fitness. Although I have occasionally joined in on speedygeese sessions over the last few years, I have not been able to consistently participate and it's been a while since it was in Dickson. It's a great venue, and they have recently improved the track's grassy surface. The grass is now lush and green and relatively even, making for a solid workout.

The sessions so far have been long intervals. All the sessions I've been able to attend have been 800m intervals with a 400m jog recovery. However, other interval lengths have been 1000m and 1200m. I think I'm glad I missed those sessions!

Unfortunately as has been the case in the past, I am not recovering well from these sessions. The muscles get very sore and tired and take days to recover. Trying to follow up with a parkrun on Saturdays is proving to be a big ask. It seems a bit of mixing and matching will be needed to avoid getting too fatigued. It would be a shame to stop the Thursday sessions as they are a nice way to train with a great group of people.
Mmm work those glutes
The focus over the next while will be to try to assist muscle recovery with regular foam rolling sessions of the major muscle groups. Stretching isn't proving to be enough given the degree of fatigue and soreness present even after 48 hours with a day off in between. I managed a comfortable 15km long run today after foam rolling yesterday and again pre-run. So far no major soreness post-long run after more foam rolling and wearing compression tights. No doubt aging muscles need all the help they can get.

It is interesting to note speedygeoff also has issues with overworked muscles as mentioned in his blog today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An ACTVAC handicap in April

Sunday was the ACTVAC handicap held near Mt Majura, only my 2nd handicap since July 2013. As I was not eligible for the point score or placings and with a head cold settling in, the goal was to take it easy. The start is up hill and the pace of my fellow group 25 runners felt pretty easy thanks to my regular Black Mountain lunch time runs. At the top of the climb I settled into a comfortable tempo pace and surprisingly my fellow 25ers dropped behind. At the time I assumed they would catch up further along the course. However, when I reached the 7km marker, no one had gone past. At this point I slowed for fear of acquiring a nasty handicap. Poor Lou and Stu were savaged by the handicapper last month, ending up in the wilderness in groups 44 and 54, respectively. With only about 800m to go John Harding advised me I was in 4th position. Arggghh, the handicapper would be rubbing their hands together with glee. The brakes were heavily applied and finally some people went past on the downhill finish. I finished in 8th place after sheepishly walking across the finish line. My time wasn't anything special around 53:45, pretty close to my 'group rate', so I hope not to be too heavily punished by the handicapper for next month.
Happy handicappers
It was good to see so many familiar faces out there, with a special appearance by speedygeoff, who was very happy with his run despite the ever fogging glasses issue. It was off to Wilbur's after the handicap, a favourite place for coffee and brunch.

Friends' results for the Thomas Series (10km)

Position Name Time Age group Age grade%
5 Helen Larmour  47:56    W55   84.5
8 Janene Kingston  53:45    W50   71.1
15 David Baussmann  50:02   M60   75.3
27 Nadine Morrison  50:47   W45   69.9
34 George Kubitzky  53:16   M60   69.8
42 Margaret McSpadden  70:35   W65   67.2
49 Geoff Moore  51:45   M65   74.5
51 Louise Sharp  44:00   W30   74.4
54 Ruth Baussmann  67:04   W60   66.9
57 Stuart Doyle  39:17   M45   84.8
59 Steve Appleby*  64:12   M60   57.9

*Steve kindly stopped to act as a marshall as cones and signs were taken away too soon!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Against medical advice

Standing at the start line of today's Australian Running Festival 5 km the starter advised us that if we've been sick in the last 2 weeks that we shouldn't be running today. Oops! I guess I was about to run against medical advice. I was in bed asleep for most of the day on Thurs with a lurgy. Fatigue, sore throat, headache and mild snuffles. However, while not 100% on Friday, I was well enough to go back to work. I did a light lunchtime jog on Friday testing the waters so to speak and was still feeling pretty flat. Thing is, we pay money to enter fun runs, unlike parkrun, so it's hard to walk away with an entry fee on the line. Worst case scenario, I'd feel like shite and drop out, so it didn't seem like a lot to lose. A week 'under the weather' can also classify as a taper ;-).
Start line - ready to go
The warm up jog left me feeling optimistic that it wouldn't be a worst case scenario. The weather conditions were absolutely perfect, not too cold and no wind. A shame about the little hill in the middle of the course! It was a nice downhill start, which probably explains the rather quick first couple of kms. Although as the course distance did not match up on the Garmin, it is hard to be sure of actual km points. The Garmin said a 4:13 1st km and a 4:17 2nd km. Then as the course started to climb, the km rate dropped 4:35 for the 3rd and a tough going 4:50 for the 4th. At least the final km was mostly downhill to the finish, 4:16 + :16 for the bit where the Garmin disagreed. Final official time 22:31, not bad off an illness and with that tough little climb in the middle. Maybe the climb would not have seemed so bad with a slower start.
Course elevation
I did not see anyone I know running in the 5km, most were focusing on the longer events. Tomorrow it will be an opportunity to pedal around LBG and cheer on the hardy marathoners and half marathoners. Here's hoping for similar perfect conditions for them.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Trending faster

Most runners (and cyclists!) are aware of Strava. It's a fun motivational tool for those that like to use it and it's kind of addictive as well. The app for mobile devices is fun as it shows you what segments you are getting quicker on, how you compare to other people doing the same segments and also how you are tracking on any course you have run before. At the moment I'm regularly setting new PBs on various segments and also 'trending faster' on most of my favourite running routes. It's a nice feeling after years of struggling (HRT rocks!).
Run with Strava
The latest 'trending faster' run was today's Gungahlin parkrun. It was a perfect morning, with crisp, clear and windless conditions. As I did a long run last Sunday, the running pattern this week meant a day off on Friday. A good opportunity to see how well things would go following a rest day. Alas, there wasn't a lot of optimism at the start as I was still feeling a bit tired despite the rest day. With Julia and SpeedyGeoff in the bunch, the plan was to sit behind them and see if I could get 'dragged along' so to speak. This was good, as the first km was a more sensible pace (4:35) than I have run for my last 2 efforts. At the 1km mark Julia pushed on, but I thought I should sit with SG for a bit longer. There is one little hill on this course and I noticed SG was slowing here (he's been doing some hard racing of late, so no real surprise there!). He indicated to me that he was feeling pretty tired, so my plan wasn't going according to plan! When the Garmin vibrated on my wrist, I noticed a quite slow 2nd km (4:47), time to pick up the pace! Fortunately there is a little downhill after that hill and the course is pretty well flat to the finish. I used the downhill to pick up the pace and get a good rhythm going. The whole time I expected to hear SG coming up from behind, but that familiar sound never did eventuate, he was indeed very tired. The 3rd km was 4:30, 4th was 4:29 and 5th 4:23 - a negative split, woo hoo! The 5th was the result of having passed two (young) women not far from the finish who weren't happy being passed and then tried to pass me again, this meant a hard push for the finish. Julia ran well, just a second off her PB 22:12. I managed a 13 second improvement for 22:39 - a Gunners PB, not as tired as I thought. SpeedyGeoff still managed a respectable 23:15.

Running on the trails will continue, here's hoping the 'trending faster' continues as I run with Strava :-).