Saturday, November 19, 2011

West Sydney Worlds & The Week Beyond

So last Sunday saw the 30th running of the West Sydney Worlds, at the comparatively new location of the Penrith Lakes. I had some fairly clear goals laid out this time round, having spent a number of years pretending the time didn't matter. All the time dragging my finishing the down with each new attempt on the current return to such events over the past five or so years.

The preparation had been adequate. With a lot more swimming than I have done since Uni, which to be fair is now long enough ago to sound a little sad when I reference it as a point of athletic performance. Cycling had been mixed with significant increases in the weekend long ride, but way to few mid week rides to add that bit extra really needed to continue improving here. Whilst running just ticks along really. Some good weeks some poor. All the time with very little change to running seed.

2011 was about clocking some times that in my mind place me back in a competitive grouping. Although not at the pointy end of it, just close enough to feel comfortable mixing my name back in the conversation really. Targets had been set with a desire to go sub 18mins for the swim, sub 50mins for the ride and sub 40mins for the run. Giving a sub 1hr 50min including transitions.

The day was perfect for solid racing with enough cloud cover to prevent temps going crazy hot. But warm enough to make getting into the water quite pleasant. A no wetsuit swim is never on my wish list but what can you do. Decided the best option was to push out past the boat and utilise the second line of lane markers. Providing clean water to swim in rather than battling the whole way for position over the 1st chain. The focus was from the outset on maintaining technique and at time I found myself quite surprisingly swimming round tiring swimmers ahead of me. On standing a glance at the watch provided evidence of my thoughts over the final few metres. A touch too easy with an 18min 12sec swim to the ramp. 12 sec's off the target but still a good 2 mins plus up on the past few years.

Transitions just happen after 20 odd years. However it was with absolute frustration that I reversed from the final meters prior to the mount line to gather the race number I had left lying on the ground at the rack. I believe the verbalisation in screaming "Beginner" at myself may have alerted a few surrounding people to my frustration with myself. The bike was bizarre really. I fluctuated from comfort to feeling like I was turning the bike inside out at times and then back to comfort all ride. Never really settling into a rhythm but never unhappy that I wasn't building power into the bike. In the end a bike computer measured 49mins ##sec ride for a 51min ##sec transition included ride put me parallel to 2010 for bike times. Satisfactory but not overwhelming.

Onto the run and I knew from the outset it would be a better run than 2010. An immediate comfort in my stride at a tempo I knew would build to discomfort over the middle third and yet allow a pickup in pace over the final kms. The feeling of satisfaction as you keep passing the faster rider/swimmer but slower runner egging me on targeting one back after another. Looking for fellow Panther Tri Club members amongst the crowd to set specific targets ahead. The first lap sat right on the verge of my target time, hitting the half way a touch under 4min km pace. However as always the back straight on the lakes for the second lap is my mental hurdle. It was here that splits began to slide a bit with km pace falling above the desired 4min pace and dragging me outside the target time. Despite a strong final 2km it was just short again with a 40min 17 sec run again being some 1min 30sec better than 2010, but again falling short of the target.

Over all. A 1hr 50min 5#sec race time for a near on 3 minute PB on this course. Thankful for the improvement but tainted slightly in the knowledge I had missed the targets across the board by such small margins. On the trip home it was suggested I don't look like Im putting in, and in reflection Im beginning to question if this is in fact the case. At the time I would swear Im pushing hard, but in reflection am I pushing hard enough? Have I learnt after 20+ years to hide from this extra level of hurt that has previously lead to vomiting post race/training session? Who knows, I guess I will find out over the next 6 months to Ironman.

The week following has not been the best in training. I pretended I would move straight back into a week of full training in planning the preseason phase. However fatigue on Monday followed by a ridiculous week at work soon instituted the flexibility clause. A couple of good runs, 1 swim (all be it filled with butterfly) and no rides till tomorrow morning hardly equates to a week to look back on with pride.

Next week however is booked in with the animal, and though he doesn't know it yet Dr Phil. As a week of no missed sessions. Canberra is now 3 weeks off and whilst it is far from a goal race for the current season, I still have redemption on my mind following a dismal performance there last year.

And so as I prepare to move into a week worth reporting, a song for Evie. Enjoy:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Full Steam Ahead

First of the preseason tris this weekend. With the 25th running of the Nepean Triathlon, otherwise known as the West Sydney Worlds. Even with a few disruptions over the past few weeks. Largely due to an extended stay as DP of all things Gnome related, things are going well in the lead up to this.

My initial plan was to train through and race tired. Keeping the big picture in mind. I have however adapted this to ease a little in distance over the last couple of days leading in to actually ensure I make it to the finish rather than fall over half way round. With the training to resume straight on after the race. Pushing through to the major preseason goal of Canberra in a month.

A couple of consistent weekend on the bike and a stringing together of more regular and desirable length swim sessions seems to have me coming into this in quite reasonable condition. Im certain the swim will be some minutes faster than previous years, and after today tempo session on the bike Im sure that the bike leg should improve on last year. These aspects combined with linking in a similar run to last year has me hopeful of a considerable PB over this course. So putting it out there, sub 1hr 50mins. Now to see if it can be put together on the day.

A song for Evie:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Running Wild On The Other Side

Been having a few weeks living on a different side of late. With this week being my 5th as relieving Deputy at Gnome central. It has been very interesting to sit in another chair around the School, getting a feel for the larger picture on how things operate. It will certainly change my perspective of how I approach certain aspects back in PE land when I finally get the chance to get back into the less formal attire of the PDHPE teacher.

It reminds me of talking with one of my Uncles a few years ago about his move into management of some of the larger Hotel chains floating around the place. In particular his scheduled times getting into various roles in the Hotel to keep his mind clear on exactly what the various jobs involve. So he can make knowledgable judgments in terms of managing the big picture.

With this concept in mind I was super pleased to have the chance to experience another side of Running Wild on the weekend. Being given the chance to run in one of our events for the first time since we kicked off at Mt Portal last year. We have heard for the past 18 months that the events, though low key, seem to meet the needs of the runners really well. A benefit of trail races being put in by people currently racing trails regularly.

However I think for this to continue to be the case, it is going to be vital for us to continue to take turns running in the events. If for nothing else to pick up the little things that can soon grow into big things when a lazy mind has the chance to take over on organisation.

Over all must say I had a ball on the trails around Wentworth Falls. Im sure I could have been out for a solo training run and still loved every minute of it. Of all the events we put on each year, this course is number 1 on my wish list. For its views and tight single track, the massive cliff faces and the challenging nature of the track under foot. It will be hard pressed for me to find a race I enjoyed better in 2011. A strange thing to say publicly when on the organising committee.

True to form though it was good to see some little things that Im sure will make everyones experience that little bit more enjoyable. Given things don't always go to plan. Not sure on the logistics yet, but one thing I think needs to be explored are sign posted and well advertised evacuation routes. In terms of mass evacuation and or individual evacuation in case of injury. This builds some interesting dilemma's in it self. So to the critical analysis board we go I guess.

In terms of the run itself I was pumped to drag myself around the course in 9th place of the 220ish starters that took on the course. A strength focused brick on Saturday had the legs under strain from the gun and a quackish pace from the start to secure an uninterrupted early pace along the Charles Darwin walk soon had the lungs pumping at a challenging level.

To me the section immediately leading into the drop down to National Pass and the Pass itself make this run. The views of the Kedumba Valley opening out in front then the Falls dropping water down towards you make for truly majestic trail. I was sitting round 11th or so at the start of this descent and was amazed to see John Glen and Tony Williams tackle this descent 3 steps at a time. In a section of track many would have slowed to a walk to ensure life was still present upon reaching the bottom.

The climb up the other side had the quads and lungs extended. However I managed to work my way back from 13th into the top 10 on the stairs into Valley of the Waters and on to the Nature Track as we wound back into The Conservation Hut. The final few kilometres along the Over Cliff-Uner Cliff track then the steady climb up Charles Darwin speed by with my legs feeling great through to the end. 1hr 41mins being just inside 15mins off the winner new course record. Pumped really knowing these are the events I love and hopeful that others are getting the same through their participation.

Bring on the next session, event, what ever. Enjoy.

Then their was a song for Evie, this time bought to you by a great new band whose CD launch I missed due to racing the next day. Best part is I hear 2 of these guys like nothing more than getting out for a touch of trail running themselves. Hope to see them at Running Wild in the near future:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Goulburn to Picton Revisited

13.10.2006: Goulburn to Picton

Stats: 124.45km, 4hrs 1min 56sec, 30.8km/hr
Weather: Hot, Hot, Hot, Hot

To quote Stuart, "Ground Hog Day" is fast coming to an end. The longer this ride continues, the more my legs work in automatic pilot and the more my body tells me to lie down and go to sleep when ever we stop.

Today was the first day on the ride that I began without a vest and arm warmers. Goulburn had been hyped up as a cold cold place. However today we might as well have been cycling out of Cairn's mid summer.

The majority of the day was spent on the shoulder of the Hume Highway. With trucks and holiday traffic whizzing past continuously and the associated derby creating havoc with ride formation and bicycle tyres. Four more flats in the C-Group certainly hindered progress, allowing the B's to once again beat us into morning tea and lunch.

The heat beating down on the exposed highway also contributing to the difficulty of completing what should be a simple 120k's. With such impact that by lunch all I could stomach were drinks and a water based ice block purchased at a local shop.

It was discussed amongst Perth to Sydney riders that the last three days almost felt like a completely different ride all together. As we are way too familiar with the surrounding environment for this to be part of the same trip that has taken us across Australia.

The final moment for today being best summed up by the fact that in talking to Kel on the phone we were able to say:

"See you tomorrow"

Punctures: Me (1), Group (18)
Brain Snaps: (Mild (2), Moderate (1), Max (0)

What can I say who would seriously plan a 1st Birthday for up to 120 guests in their own home. Managed to run bmmc standard run today amongst all this craziness, missed the ride to protect the longevity of all things relationship.

So a song for the near to be debutant birthday girl:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yass to Goulburn Revisited

12.10.2006: Yass to Goulburn

Stats: 100.58km, 3hrs 23mins 23secs, 29.6km/hr
Weather: Hot all day, Clear skys, Late breeze largely tail

The all clear record came to a devastating end today. Over 3700km across four States of Australia, numerous highways - byways - and back roads. I awoke this morning to my first flat tyre of the journey. A miserable slow leak care of a slither of glass that had worked its way through, what up till now had been, the impenetrable walls that are my Continental Gatorskins. My quest to last the longest without a puncture snatched from my grasp with the finish line in sight. Not even providing the common curtsy of a break whilst out on the road.

With tube replaced and glass removed, we left Yass around 7.30ish in order to complete our planned 89km ride today before the predicted heat really hit. Ten minutes into the ride and the first stop had already been called to remove layers as the sun's morning rays beat down on to us.

At this point in the ride I also decided it was a good thing that it had not been left up to me to find our way to Goulburn by my own means. As in my state of complete disorientation I think I would have had us bunking down in Cooma for the night.

We quickly departed from the busy roadway that is the Hume Highway, for the rural settings of a Jim Blaxland backroad. Nichollete's son, Anthony, joined us here seeing the inaugural breakaway formation of the C-Team Youthworks edition. Nichollete, Roger, Edna, Allen and Steve C taking him into their undoubtably expert tutelage.

For the following 30km I wished I had joined the Youthworks edition as numerous (I think all but myself at times) of our riders decided it was time just to see how much we could push it. From recollection I'm sure mention was made of a survivor style section with riders being voted off (i.e. dropped out the back) each 5km.

How i stayed on I'm still not too sure of. At one point we were climbing a considerable hill at excess of 40km/hr. Clearly the final push to push me out the back only failed to eventuate as I was carrying the directions and walkie talkie to communicate with our support vehicles.

Having barely caught my breath at morning tea (Gunning) we set off again. This time reconfigured with all C-Team members (less Anthony) fortunately easing the pace to finish the day.

89km soon turned into 100km and with none of us wanting to spend the night on the side of the road at the Canberra turn off, the extra 11km were punched out without a word of complaint. A generous tail wind helping sooth the issue. With the rest of the day free to eat, drink and then eat some more. Much fun was had in Goulburn refuelling some very spent legs.

Punctures: Me (1), group (16)
Brain Snaps: Mild (2), Moderate (1), Max (0)


One thing has been consistent over the past few nights. Evie has not slept well meaning neither Kel nor I have slept well. SWMBO of course will quickly point out I do manage to sleep through approximately half the resettles though. Funny how I never learn and keep saying things like, "wasn't it good Evie only woke twice last night" in the morning to a clearly fatigued SWMBO.

After some early negotiations and laying of plans to try and fit the morning swim int the afternoon. It was with external encouragement that I made it to the Woods for a swim at 6.03am. Just three minutes late, but then when the others don't show at all I guess there minutes doesn't mean too much. Having said theta Sleep Train arrived at his pre scheduled 6.37am time slot. Just in time to do a warm up and then join me for the main set. Timing being perfect in that it gave me another person to hold me accountable in the point of the session at which Im most likely to make compromises to the session. In the end all done as per the plan for 3100m. Having started in the first week of a twelve week plan, things are just starting to build on distance and in intensity. Fun.

Another day pushing papers and pretending to be important, dressed up in adults clothing. At least today I remembered man pants don't have velcro fly's and as such require manual manipulation to ensure they are closed on leaving for work. I think if I had got this wrong for the third day in a row I might be up for a sexual harassment case with the lovely lady's in the front office :)

The afternoons session switched out for another session with the physic on the ribs. The good news being that as I sit behind a desk all day at the moment. The recuperation of the ribs has moved much quicker than last week. To the point that should be my last visit to Ollie and a process of rebuilding training to it's full process is now at its starting point. Happy days.

So a happy song for Evie that is most appropriate to her current gross motor training regime:

And while IM at it today I stumbled on this, the first song I heard that had me thinking there is more to the world of music than video hits and the repetitive nature of so many songs I heard on the stations just down the dial from triple j. My recent discovery in the late 80's: