Saturday, November 28, 2009

Proud Moments

It's been a big week for achievements in our household. The most minor of these was my effort on Thursday at the pool in swimming under 30-minutes for 1500m. I've been going there for a month now with my mate Mark as we train for the Pier to Pub in early January. Our times have been around 32-minutes up to now with a best of 31.45min last week. So imagine my surprise when we tipped in at 29.50min this week. Wow! Very happy with that one.

Stopping halfway for a quick picThe biggest achievement this week was from the littlest member of our family, Keira, who decided at the grand age of just over two years she would finally walk her first steps! It has been a very long journey with two worried parents trying their best to remain calm whilst every other kid crawled, walked and ran when ours just bum-shuffled her way around. But she must have been paying attention to how it is done cause when she finally did walk it was for a very long way, 20 or so steps, rather than the 2-3 you'd normally expect first up. Go figure!

Finally, it was the turn today of our biggest girl, Brooke, to chalk up a first as she competed (?) today in her very first fun run. It was the 2km junior event run as part of the Great Australian Run. Brooke was so proud as she did her warm ups at the start although her running is a little odd. She prefers the sprint then walk method ... with the occasional stop to say hello to the swans which grace the lake we ran beside. At the finish she outsprinted dad to take her first medal. A big morning, finished off with a play at the nearby adventure park and some yummy food from our favourite cafe. What more could a girl want?

And what more could a dad want?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Drought-breaker Dave and the would-be triathlon

A mate of mine called David Hansen (Super Sprint Promotions) has been running triathlons in Melbourne for over 20-years. In that time he has organised hundreds of events including triathlons, runs, bike rides and even the Olympic Games Triathlon in Sydney. He really knows how to put on a show and his events are normally sold-out.

In the last couple of years, though, his season-opening race has become better known for something else. Today - as last year - the swim was cancelled because of a Noah's Flood rain storm that hit Melbourne before, during and after the race (my rain gauge overflowed at 50mm). Throw in a reasonable dose of wind and it was quite an apocalyptic scene.

Which makes it all the more amazing that about 1500 folks braved the conditions to turn up and race. I had been looking forward to the swim (NOT!) and so wasn't too upset when it was replaced with a 1.5k run. My age group was off 41-mins after the gun so I had to wait around a bit till we got underway.

Run 1.5k
This run was more a token to break up the field a bit before we got on the bike than anything else. About 300m in there was an enormous water crossing which you could either ford for a few steps or leap up onto an uneven bluestone wall and run along. I rekindled my childhood and took to the wall. After a little more than six and a half minutes it was back to my bike.

Bike 20k
The ride has always been my favourite leg of a triathlon, but generally not my best one (hmm, strange that). And whilst I have spent most of this year focussing on improving my run it has been the cycling that has given way. So much so that it was only today that my yearly cycling distance outstripped my running distance.

The ride at this race is a two-lap affair. It is dead flat with only wind - and rain - to contend with. My cycle computer had given up the ghost in the rain so I had only a passing notion of how well I was going. But I felt good and in control despite the conditions. That said, a few folks blew by me like I was standing still. Sheesh!!

Happy to get off the bike in just over 37min for an average speed of just over 32kph (20mph). Not quick by normal standards but a good yardstick of my current condition.

Run 5k
I was really looking forward to this bit. Though I've not done much for a month I thought I was still in reasonable nick to run a fast 5k. Again, tough conditions with a headwind on the way out and my feet already soaking wet from the ride. Then, to make it worse, a torrential downpour on the return leg.

Funniest thing was the aid station attendants asking me if I wanted any water - as if I didn't have enough!!! Had a great run in any case and no-one passed me whilst I cruised by a lot of folks. Went through the (slightly long) 5k in 21.37min (4.14m/k pace) so my fastest triathlon 5k in about six years. Very happy.

As if it had not rained enough during the event, after the race it came down in biblical proportions. I was lucky enough to be 'rescued' by my long-suffering-and-very-understanding-wife, complete with two kids, and this saved me a miserable ride home. At least I feel as though I did some decent training today!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Warm Weather Running

For as long as I can remember I have suffered intolerably on my first few warm weather runs each year. No matter how great a shape I am in beforehand, when the temp's ratchet up from 15 degrees (59 F) to 25 degrees (77 F), my pace suffers a precipitous fall. I thought (hoped ... prayed) that today it would be different. After all, I am now super-marathon-man!

Alas, it was not to be :-(

I set off on a regular run down South Road hopeful of setting a 'PB' for this course, especially seeing as I had run it so well in my marathon training. It is a 12.5km run with a net elevation drop (it is undulating) of 40m on the way out and obviously uphill the same on the way back. Not hard, but not easy. And so often my nemesis.

I have never run under the hour for this course - except for my last 32km training run for the marathon where I covered it in around 59.50min as the first 6 and last 6 k's of that run. Certainly I could now run a similar time or better without the 20km in between!

I cruised down to the turn in 28.46min (4.36m/k) at a pace that felt very controlled, but getting harder as I heated up. Surely I could run back home in 31 minutes???? Ok, I'll cut this bit short. No I couldn't. It was run/walk/jog/walk/walk/jog all the way back. A return leg of 36.05min (5.46m/k) and a total time of 64.51min (5.11m/k). Aargh!!!!!!

Well, I did it. But it is clearly not one of my more convincing efforts. Hopefuly as I get used to the warmth (this is not heat, I will run in 100+deg.F later in summer) my times will come back down.

Or maybe I'll just focus on my cycling for a while. After all, my training calendar does have six of our state's highest rideable peaks on it over the next few months (Mt Buller, Lake Mountain, Mt Buffalo, Mt Hotham, Falls Creek and Mt Baw Baw). Goodness knows we'll probably throw a seventh (Mt Donna Buang) or eighth (Dinner Plain) in our pursuit of "stampys" for the Alpine Ascent Challenge. But that for another post.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fighting the Sloth Within

It is 34-days since the marathon. In that time I have run a grand total of three times for a sum of 15-kilometres. Hmmm. Not much, eh? In so many ways it is like the whole thing never happened. Or at least happened so long ago to be just another distant memory in my sporting annals. How does that happen? For eight months it was hard not to run; it was what I did, it was my routine. Now it seems hard to do; I have no routine.

Not that I've been completely lazy. I've been swimming a few times (not with the jellyfish and stingrays at our beaches here) and have entered the Pier to Pub swim I mentioned in my last post. Crikey, I've even got my first triathlon for the summer next weekend. So I have a lot to prepare for. Just not the dedicated motivation to do so in a structured way.

And I still dream of the Boston Marathon. I've even ordered some books from Amazon about the race. I am not sure if it is because I really want to do the race or if it is just because it is the first major race I have ever qualified for on my own athletic merit! In any case, my qualification (as far as I can read) will also cover me for the 2011 race, so I have some leeway there.

Must go now ... my two-year old Keira has just woken from her slumber and the song-like sound of "dadda ... dadda ..." is coming from her room. I wonder what she thinks about in her spare time .....

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