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!