Monday, 16 March 2015

A Pleasant Surprise In The Highlands

Surprising someone can be a lot of fun and often very fulfilling, however there may be no better feeling than when you surprise yourself.

I had already done that a few times in 2015 but really didn't think that the Highlands Community Fun Run on the 15th of March was going to be one of those occasions.

I had set myself just a couple of goals for 2015. One was to run 1000km which I should do easy. Another was to break 25 minutes for 5km, something that I thought would take a long time, I achieved that on February 14th.

 Another goal was to run 10km at least once, I have also done that on multiple occasions. My only other goal was to enter as many events as I could, when time permitted.

Leading up to the Highlands Community Fun Run, I had discussed with my partner the need to possibly reassess my goals now that I had achieved them. I had mentioned 24:30 for the 5km as a good starting point given that I had only improve nine seconds to get it to 24:38. I thought it would take a good run to beat it.

Heading into the fun run, I wasn't feeling fast or overly ready to run well. My warm up was pretty good but I was far from jumping out of my skin.

Once we got off and running, I had decided I was going to push early and try to maintain the pace. I had fallen apart a little in the final kilometre of my best run so maybe, just maybe, I could do better.

The first kilometre had a sharp downhill section and, being an out and back course, I was dreading going back up it at the finish. I covered it in 4:36 which was somewhere around where I wanted to be.

Putting in for the last 500m
I pushed on in the second and third kilometres, producing 4:46 and 4:54. I was still feeling good and ran 5:00 for the fourth.

I felt like I had enough up my sleeve to give the last kilometre a good crack, despite the hill. I concentrated on my form and cadence and was happy to churn out a 4:39.

Looking at my watch I was most surprised to see 23:59, especially after stopping it a little late. It was the first time that I had felt I had run the full 5km with no lengthy flat spots. Sure there is lots of areas I can improve in but this was a major step in the direction of where I wanted to be.

Maybe I did still have some decent time to shave off my PB, especially if I could finish races off like this consistently.

I will get another chance this coming Sunday at Parramatta when I run in the Sydney edition of FunRun Pink, the same event that I ran at Albert Park in January. It should be a lot of fun.

The totals for the week were;

Running - 30.5km in 2:59 with an elevation of 153m.

Cycling - 99.4km in 4:11 with an elevation of 920m.

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Monday, 9 March 2015

A Triathlon Debut

Exiting the water
Since taking up running and participating in a few fun runs, nerves have not been something that have really not played a part at all.

Compared with my sporting endeavours from years gone by they could be considered almost non-existent.

Going into my first triathlon was a completely different kettle of fish in that department.

I am not sure what initiated it but can only assume it was a combination of a venturing into the unknown and a little bit of fear of failure.

Simplifying it, I really had no need to worry, I could swim, I could ride a bike and I could run. Maybe I'd pictured myself running out of transition with my helmet still on too many times.

There was zero expectation on myself in the event for a couple of reasons. The fact that I had only trained for a week and also not really knowing how I should be performing meant it was more about finishing and doing as well as I could.

When it came to the day, it was a drizzly morning, nice cool conditions possibly barring a slippery road.

A few pre-race mishaps ensured that my nerves stayed with me. Firstly I had made a slight error on the entry form and entered myself as a female. After a few jokes and a quick filling out of new paperwork that was rectified.

Working hard on the bike
I had set up in a prime position for transition after we were directed to our row. A late change from the organisers saw the group of us that had gone to the trouble of getting there early shifted to another row just before start time. It wasn't a big inconvenience but enough to keep me on edge.

In the lead up, I was probably most concerned about my swim leg. In hindsight, it is not as bad as I thought and, with a bit of work, could actually be one of my better legs.

I was away mid pack and covered the 300m in 6:30 which is about what I'd been swimming in practice. The refreshing part was that I managed to stay out of traffic for the most part and that was the part I had been dreading most.

I felt like the last 100m of my swim was my best and I will definitely be looking to go a bit harder next time. I finished 6/12 in my age category for the swim which is better than I thought I could do.

My debut transition went smoothly. I had practiced a few times the night before with the help of my partner which meant it had become a little bit habitual, that was a great help.

After taking a little while to clip in and get going, I enjoyed the ride on the bike. Having not ridden for a long time it is something I am relishing at the moment.

Despite riding as well as could be expected, I have realised that it is a facet that I really need to work on, particularly my climbing.

Brick running
The course was a short loop which we completed four laps of to total our 7km. It had one short rise which was where I lost most ground. Despite averaging almost 30km/hr, I finished 9/12 in my age on the bike and I suspect that it is where I lost most ground.

My second transition also went smooth and I found that running in with the bike helped loosen the legs for the brick run.

As expected, my legs felt like a pair of anvils as I tried to carve out a good 2km to finish it off. I thought I was running 7:30/km, dragging those buckets of lactic acid along.

Luckily, it was a misconception and I managed to break 10 minutes for the run and finish 4/12 in my category. A pace of 4:58 was as good as I could of hoped for but also another thing that I would like to improve next time.

The run home
I was pleased to have finished, the final time was 34:41. 65th of 130 overall and 9/12 in my category, which again highlights the importance of the bike given that I finished much higher in the other two disciplines.

I knew straight away that I wanted to do another one and set about entering a similar length race at the Challenge Bateman’s Bay event on the 28th of March.

The test with that will be an increased bike leg (10km) while the others stay at the same distance. While I will keep running at the core of my training, I will cram as much cycling and swimming into my program as I can.

It is an exciting sport and, with so much to learn, I am loving it. I'm already looking forward to the next challenge.

The totals for the week were;

Running - 11.2km in 1:04 with an elevation of 92m.

Cycling - 124.3km in 5:58 with an elevation of 1,029m.

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Monday, 2 March 2015

Squeezing The Most Out Of Orange

The above heading is not in reference to extracting juice from a citrus fruit, but rather to the Orange Colour City Running Festival in the central west of New South Wales.

While the pun may be mediocre at best, the aforementioned festival was the antithesis of said play on words.

It happened to be the run that would be the culmination of my eight-week 5km training plan and one that I hoped to d well in.

Running in Orange
Having recently set a new personal best of 24:47 on an athletics track, I was realistic that I would probably not break that but I did hope to go sub-26, hopefully a low 25.

A quick drive around the course the day before quickly made me think that my estimations may have been a little ambitious. A couple of decent inclines towards the latter part of the run would make things interesting.

From the online entry to the finish line, the organization of this event was flawless. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the environs of a country town and a friendly, well-run event.

If there was one slight hitch with my 5km run it was some competitors approach to self seeding.

With over 1000 runners lined up for the start, there were signs with your estimated time on them. I put myself in the 20-25 minutes zone but was surrounded by young children.

I do not doubt for one minute that there is plenty of primary school students who are faster than me over 5km, but I was surprised that there was seemingly whole classes.

Once the run began it became obvious that they'd simply wanted to be up the front. Trying to weave a path between them was absolute madness. Some stopped suddenly, some cried out that they had a stitch after 200m, others walked.

It was actually quite dangerous, hoping that you would not trip over someone and cause serious damage to one of them. It must have been frustrating for organisers who had gone to great lengths to ensure a smooth start.

After about 800m I'd managed to find a bit of space to move and really started to enjoy the run. It was a beautiful course with the race run in warm conditions but free from the humidity I was used to in the coast.

I was hoping to set up my time with a nice, quick opening kilometre as it was partly downhill and mostly flat. While 4:30 was something I had in mind, I was not disappointed with the 4:46 that I churned out. The fact that I was able to back it up with a 4:49 and a 4:47 was very pleasing.

My fourth kilometre had been notoriously bad so I made a conscious effort to maintain the quality and managed a 4:59. I was on track to break 25 minutes and possibly even give my PB a nudge.

Them last kilometre found me out, I battled and felt like I was losing grip on all the work I'd done.

Holding the finisher's medal from the Orange Run
I knew it was going to be over five minutes but tried my hardest to squeeze out what I had left to minimise the damage. My partner was waiting about 300m from the end and her support helped me find a bit to get home as well as could hope for.

The result was great for me. I'd set a new PB of 24:38, shaving nine seconds off my track run.

I felt like I was getting closer to running a full 5km although the last part of the race had found me out on this occasion.

I was also left wondering if the days of taking big chunks off my PB’s were over and that it will only begin to happen in small increments. It is inevitable that it will happen and there is every chance that it will be sooner rather than later.

For me, the most satisfying parts of the result were twofold. Firstly the fact that I had beaten a time that I set on a track whilst running on a road course with hills and secondly the knowledge that I still had some improvement in me if I worked hard.

The totals for the week were;

Running - 21.2km in 1:59 with an elevation of 130m.

Cycling - 40.3km in 1:42 with an elevation of 237m.

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