Saturday, 21 May 2016

Ready as I'll ever be

Runner, interrupted 
Winter, rather than building up the mileage, involved trips to the physio. I'm still working on fixing the imbalance identified back in January. A late start for Calgary Half Marathon training then, but things are on the up, and it's been a fun build up to the big day. It always is. 

Aprillian Amazement 
Sweet medals. The blue one in the middle will be mine in a week. 
Speaking of which, I had quite an April. 3 countries, 3 races. 
Singapore's overwhelming heat made for a very different kind of race. I judged my dehydration well, and keeping an even pace throughout, overtook people for the entire 10k. 
Run Calgary does Australia. 
A week after Singapore then, the Jabulani Challenge 12k, a trail race outside Sydney. A couple of minor falls and a wrong turn, another runner badly wiping out downhill, clambering over rocks and crossing streams: a most unique experience. 
Back in Calgary for Eyball the Wall 15k, I made good use of a pacemaker (unofficial) to finish 2 minutes quicker than expected. It was a welcome boost in more ways than one, returning as I had from holiday to my erstwhile employer laying off staff (myself included). 

May Musings
Saint Patrick's Island fun run on May 7 featured almost Singapore-like weather.
A fun gathering with food truck, my plan was to have it fuel my run home, some 27k away. 
Industrial vistas on one side, and nature on the other, I walked the last few k due to dehydration. 

Race plan?
At time of writing, race day looks like it will rain. This won't be too bad as long as it isn't too windy. 
My benchmark for the half is usually 1:30 (PB 1:26:44). At the moment my form is hard to predict, so I'll just try to go with whatever pace feels good, while keeping on track to get that 89:59 at least. 
So, which version of me will show up? Place your bets, that's part of the fun.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Eyeball The Wall 15k -

Uniquely YYC
Race #3 in April, this time back in Calgary. Rather than the exotic locales and formats of the other 2 (reports coming soon), Eyeball The Wall was either a 15k or a 30k around the Glenmore reservoir. 
The 30k got started first, half an hour before the 15k. A clockwise loop of the reservoir, with the longer distance turning around to do the second lap anti-clockwise. Everyone would get to see everyone somehow, a well worked angle for a race many were using to prepare for the Calgary Marathon or half.

Just the one, dear
Once the 2-lappers were off, time to stretch and limber up on this fairly cold, but good race conditions morning. 

I had predicted a time of 1:07. Building back the mileage amid my ongoing recovery and gait work, I felt that perhaps on the first 2 flat sections (before the 5k point) I might manage 4:15 per km - 90 minute half marathon pace. 
Otherwise, the sections of serious gradient would leave me unable to regain that pace later on. 
Not the best self-seeding from some, who found themselves quickly swallowed up at the start. 
I had a new strap for my camera which was poorly adjusted, so no video. 
"Not doing 2 laps" pose. 
I felt sluggish to begin with, but it passed as I settled into a higher pace, and concentrating on my technique, overtook a few. 

Runaway Train 
About 2.5 k in, the extremely steep downhill to the valley floor. 
The 30k runners would have to come up it shortly before finishing, quite a task. 
I registered 4:00 for the next 2k before going back uphill. That was good for a 5k, but too quick for this race. 

I Will Follow 
The next guy I caught (hereinafter known as "cap man") seemed a good pacemaker, or at least I could restrain myself by not overtaking him. 
I took the hill back out of the valley slowly, and he pulled away, but I was back with him again within about half a k. Strange, as I'd assumed I'd be wrecked by this time. 
Signalling when overtaking, cap man knew I was there. He slowed a few times, possibly trying to encourage me to pass. "Slower, good idea," I thought, so I stayed behind. I honestly didn't think I could manage to run any quicker anyway. 
Cap man pulled over to grab a drink just before the 10k point, finally finding a way to have me overtake. 

Millennium Falcon 
I flew down the 1,000 metre stretch of Glenmore Trail, catching up the next guy. I took the following hill and undulations gently, or so I thought. 
At the top of one crest was one guy doing his tai chi/ a tribute to Ministry Of Silly Walks. 

Leaders Of The Pack
Already passing a few 30k runners still on their first lap, on my approach to Heritage Park, Simon came steaming uphill in the lead. 
About a minute later came a relaxed looking Scott.
Then Brent.
& Rich in 5th. I know all the leaders?
After that excitement, I took the chance to look behind me at a virtual hairpin bend just after Heritage Park. Cap man was nowhere to be seen. 

Arrival Procedure 
There were still plenty of ups and downs, which I was taking on in relaxed fashion. I looked to be easily ahead of my target time. 
Crystal came dancing past on her way to finishing the second loop. I think I didn't react straight away, hence the two-handed wave. 
I began as I'd started, with v-sign and grin. 
I finished in 1:04:47, a major surprise. I'm hoping to do 4:15 pace for the Calgary Half Marathon, and I did this seriously hilly 15k course at 4:17. 
My medal hit my teeth as it was hung around my neck, slightly unexpected. 
Cap man came in, he seemed slightly annoyed about my drafting. Perhaps I had been pushing him along rather than being pulled. 
This guy didn't collapse as it looks like here. He collected his medal, looked to check he wouldn't get in anyone's way, and slowly laid down. 
I iced a mildly swollen achilles afterward. On reflection, I'm in far better shape than I had imagined. It's probably due to improved running economy and longer term base of fitness going back several years. Can I add to my sub-90 half marathon collection at the end of the month? 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Jabulani Challenge, Australia

Upside Downunder
Run Calgary does Sydney. I planned that photo for weeks. 
The Bridge? I found it behind a giraffe. 
There were, of course, plenty of beaches which we hit on Sydney's hottest April day on record. This one's Tamarama. 

The race was one week after our arrival in Sydney. 

Off we went, driving my first right hand drive car in 17 years to Bobbin Head.
This is in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase national park, just 50k outside Sydney. The Jabulani Challenge is part of a area series of trail races. There was a 45k, 25k, and a cautious-trail-running-tourist-friendly 12k. 

Staggering Start
The organizers decided that runners would start in pairs every 5 seconds to reduce congestion. 
That turned out to be a great idea. Just the start was in a wide open picnic area. 
12k road? Under 50 minutes. I tried a prediction of 1:15, with only a vague idea of what lay ahead. 
Just 3 minutes in, my first inkling I'd be in for a slightly longer morning than I thought, with the boardwalk flooded. If that guy had fallen to the left, it would've made for a great film highlight. Thankfully he didn't, making it through at about the same time I decided to just walk straight straight through the ankle deep water.

Ay, 'Ere's Rock
There was lots to clamber over. 
A traffic jam or 2 also, though as the runner least familiar with the course, it was good to have someone in front most of the time. One simple rule: do as the runner in front, but if she or he falls, don't.
The steepest part was about one third around. At points, I was using tree trunks to pull myself up. 

Queen Of The Desert 
At the top was the only truly fast section, flat and untechnical.  
Half way point, and my obligatory water on head.

Cartwheeling & Skippy
What happened next was rather shocking. On a downhill section with lots of hidden rocks, an extremely fast guy came flying past. 
He had looked impressive until he didn't: 
The branch slightly blocks the camera's view. At the time, it looked like a cartwheel. He landed on his back with a deep thump. 
Groaning as I caught up, and staring into the sky, another asked, "mate, can you breathe?" "I'm probably just in shock," came the slightly unexpected answer. One runner went back for help, while I said I'd tell the next marshal I saw as well as the organizers at the finish line. 
10 minutes later, another guy provided a memorable moment as he hopped 2-footed past. 

Bush Whacked
I fell gently backwards into some fern a couple of k later. 
I actually got a bit lost too, along with plenty of others. 
As I contemplated the biggest ants I've ever seen on this tree, I thought it best to turn around. Making my way back through bushes and sharp wild grass, my hands, forearms and shins got quite a few cuts. 
I came across some who hadn't turned around a bit later. 
One more water crossing, nice and slow. 
Then a proper trip and fall. No harm done, but great to watch the replay.

Emerging quickly back onto pathways, it seemed to come to an end quickly.
Just a few towed boats to get past. 
Finish line. 1:36:37 and 46th place was quite a way back, but the aim was pure fun and not getting hurt.
Mission accomplished! 
There were a few ankle twists at the finish, my cuts were nothing to worry about. The poor guy from earlier was listed as a DNF. 

Manley recovery 
A day lazing around beaches followed. This race was totally different from anything else I've ever run, a unique thrill.
A great urban escape, not that Sydney needs to be escaped from. 

The film: