Sydney Turkey Trot 2017

A couple of weeks ago now – I’ve been wiped out with the lurgy of the year for nearly two weeks now.  Still have a lingering cough that leaves me gasping for breath every now and then, so no running as yet.  Hopefully that will be rectified sometime this week!

But… the Turkey Trot.  It was cold, just above freezing in fact, but it was clear and not a breath of wind, so the cool air wasn’t too bad.  We arrived with plenty of time to get ready, have a snack and check out what we needed to do before starting.  I took a couple of precautionary puffs on the ventolin, determined not being able to blame breathing issues on this run.  The start was a good 10-15 minute hike from the parking (and finish) area – through some steep single trail, down, up and down some more.  Spied a few controls around, not knowing if they would be in the final stages of our own event or if they were there for the short courses that would start later.

There was some sunshine at the start area, we were all checked in – about 25 of us there for the medium course – maps were spread out and we were told the direction we would start, but no viewing of the maps until the clock started.  The walk over had been enough to warm us up enough to take jumpers off and put them in for collection as they would be taken back to the start for us.  Not long to wait, then we were off.  All trying to look at maps while running along a path and not run into each other.  From Lapstone it was straight through the underpass, around the edge of the RAAF base and people started splitting out for different routes to the first control.  By the time we got to the first control, it was just under ten minutes in and most of the pack had already left us behind.

With multiple ways to move on to the second control, Nick and I had a brief “discussion” of the best approach – not a great start to a joint effort event!  On we went, starting to see a few other competitors around the trails – no idea if they were on our course or another for the most part and knowing we were well behind most, if not all, the others on our course.  As usual, the first couple of kilometres seemed to be the hardest and I was conserving energy, knowing we would be out for a while.  We made good time between controls three and four – some of the navigation was a bit tricky and we actually caught up to some people that had been well ahead of us.  We made some mistakes getting to five though with a misreading of some map markings and then the quick run to six for a map swap and a water stop.  Around 40 minutes in and only 4km gone.

Map two was same base as the first and while there was a little overlap in some of the trails, it also led us to areas we had never been before.  The next control was about one kilometre off, and after a short climb it was an easy jog along smooth fire trails.  We picked up pace, which I forced slower, again, to conserve energy that I probably didn’t need to do.  We were still a good few minutes behind anyone else in our event, but it was a glorious day to be out for a run in the mountains, we were navigating well and the company was good.

From control eight to nine we took longer than we should – Nick had been having issues clearing his nose, while I needed another puff on the ventolin – but it had little impact on our position.  This leg and the next actually had us moving up a few places due to some other competitors making some wrong moves and dropping back considerably.  Nine to ten had us heading down the gorge.  The contours were insane with possibly the scariest part knowing that what went down had to come back up again.  We dropped 110m elevation in 700m.  They were bush stairs, uneven for the most part and many of them had been washed out making the going precarious and very slow in places.  We passed several hikers heading up the other way and let one fellow competitor pass us.  We plunged from open, scrub on the top down into lush rain forest in the gully, passing under a high sandstone bridge back-dropped to a stunning blue sky.

The decision had to be made which path to take to head up, I chose the road over the trail and we set off.  While heading up the long, slow hill, my achilles gave a tug.  No – not now!!!  I walked a few paces, slowed and modified my gait, testing for any tightness before picking up again.  Phew – my physio exercises and hill runs seem to be paying off and my achilles didn’t bother me again during this run.  Up the hill a little more and back through the underpass from Glenbrook to Lapstone to the start and the final map change.

The final map was small, the routes overlapped and trails went in every direction.  Despite the short distances, this would probably be the toughest navigationally.  We made our way back across the trails we had used to walk to the start initially and then Nick and I kept up a constant discussion of which direction to go and which route was best.  There were some markings between control 13 and 14 we weren’t sure of, so we worked around them, only to find it was a small ditch and even had a bridge across it.  Then a dash along some narrow single track, never quite sure we were on the right one.  We were crossing paths with many others at this point as all events started overlapping.  Heading along one section some vicious barking started chasing us.  Nick was behind me and turned to face it down, while I just stopped and kept my back turned.  The owners were around somewhere and we were left alone quickly enough, but I think that was the first time I’ve been chased during an event.

The next control was the busiest we had been to since the first one, and we recognised several people from our event.  We must have caught up to a few others along the way!  Only two more controls to go.  I was starting to get tired, we had been out for around two hours now, with only water to keep us going and it was a long time since breakfast.  After passing a competitor from another event, I stumbled at the top of a drop towards a dry creek crossing. Luckily I caught myself, only to stumble again on a stick on the uphill as we approached control seventeen.  I reached out to steady myself on the control as my knees hit the ground, grabbing… part of a rusted out car wreck!  Really not a good move.  I took stock, as others in the area checked I was ok.  My knees  took most of hte impact, but seemed ok and somehow, miraculously, I haven’t cut my hand on the rusty car.  Up again and moving on.  Only one more control to go.  The competitor ahead of us took a different route and I forced my legs to pick up the pace, we headed straight for the final control then it was across a car park, along the edge of the oval to the finish.  I spied another medium course person ahead of me and pushed my legs as hard as I could.  I passed him with less than 100m to go (I don’t think he was very impressed) and pushed on to finish in a little under 2hrs 15mins.

I checked in to record my results to be told I had just missed placing – what?!  Given I thought there were 7 women competing in this event and I usually come last (or as good as), this came as a massive surprise.  And I was actually concerned as to where the remaining competitors were if they were coming in behind me.  Having taken longer than we expected, we couldn’t hang around and headed off to get back to our girls.

It was only later, when we checked the full results, that I could see that while the first two female finishers were well ahead of me, I had finished less than two minutes off the third place finisher.  And the competitor who just beat us to the second last control, had gone off track again and ended up finishing two full minutes behind me.  The final competitor had mispunched somewhere along the way, so her results weren’t counted.

Overall, a great morning out in the mountains.  Our navigation was great and we worked well as a team.  We were slow, as usual, but finished strong and recovered easily.  I probably could have pushed more in the easy parts.  In the end we covered 11.3km in 2hr 14min with over 300m of elevation.  I had some impressive bruising on my knees from my stumble, a little stiffness in one for a couple of days, but no lasting impact luckily.  A very enjoyable event, one day we will finish it a little more quickly!

Mid Week Runs

I think I’m starting to like the idea of getting a run in while working from home.  This time I braved the cold and headed out after the kids left for daycare and before settling in for the days work.  It was still damn cold, so I trialed a long sleeve top I had bought during the recent 2XU flash sale.  Bargain – $100 top for $40!  The fabric felt quite heavy, so I wasn’t sure what it would be like for running in but figured it was a good time to try it as I wouldn’t be too far from home.  Plus, if it worked, it would come in handy for the weekend run up in the Blue Mountains.

The top was magic!  Even before I started running I didn’t feel cold.  The long sleeves with thumb holes, I could pull right down over my hands and kept them toasty warm too.  I kept it on for the first 4km before heating up too much, then a double knot around my waist and I barely even noticed it for the rest of the run.

A 10km run was on the schedule, easy pace but I didn’t feel like doing the flattish runs from last time around, so I plotted out a hilly route to see how much more elevation I could add after my last hilly run.  It started out easy – 2kms of flat and downhill.  Third kilometre kicked things up a notch being pretty continuously uphill, starting with 300m at average 9% grade.  After that there was a bit of up and down and it took me through some pretty suburban streets in perfect weather.  People nodded hello, there were autumn leaves still in the gutters to crunch through, a garden of beautiful smelling lavender and minimal traffic.

A wrong turn had me facing a very steep hill I wasn’t’ prepared for which had me walking once I hit the top (I was determined to run up the damn thing, but my heart rate was telling me to slow down by the end of it).  Then, a slight reprieve before the final long, steep hill and then two blissful, easy, flat kilometres home.

It felt like a much hillier run than the previous week, so I was pretty disappointed to see that it was only about 15m more of elevation in it than the 6.5km run the previous week.  I probably pushed too hard again based on heart rate, and my pace was slower than my goal, but it was a good run.  I felt strong, the daily calf raises are definitely helping and my fitness hasn’t dropped off too much with the reduction in weekly runs.  The time was pretty good too – only a couple of months ago this would have been my time for 10km with barely half the elevation.

Numbers

  • Distance: 10km
  • Elevation: 152m
  • Time: 1:16:11

Now we’re half way through the year, I’ll have to do a post soon to see how I’m going on my goals for the year.  But first – the annual Turkey Trot.  Approximately 12km up in the Blue Mountains waiting for us.

Finding the Hills

The first couple of weeks of the training plan have me back at shorter distances for a little while.  Which is a good thing, since it feels like I’ve barely run at all for a month or so.  I’m still struggling with the colder weather and fitting in my runs.  My plan on how to manage it was good, but the reality of living in a cold house is making it a bit harder.  It’s tough to talk myself out into the cold for a run when I’m inside and cold to the bone already and know that after the run there’s no nice, warm house to return to.

Last week I managed a couple of runs – one on the treadmill, a quick intense interval session.  Mid-week I worked from home and headed out for a local 45 min run.  I’m lucky to have this option and with the commute time removed I can fit in a run in my lunch break and still get my hours in.

The lunch time run was my first outdoor run since the NOSH and my first steady run in ages.  The plan was for 6.5km at “recovery” pace which has sped up to 7:10/km.  I plotted a route on google maps around my suburb taking in as many hills as I could without doubling up anywhere.  Perfect planning had me finishing at the local shops (to pick up lunch) on target for distance and with close to 140m elevation squeezed in.  Some of those hills were hard, but my goal was to keep moving, don’t stop, don’t walk and don’t push harder on the flats and downhills to “make up” time.  I ended up averaging a 7:30/km pace, but with that much elevation in it I’m not going to lose any sleep over it!

Unfortunately, since then I haven’t run.  The weekend was perfect weather, but Saturday morning was freezing cold (for me!) and then the day got away from us.  Sunday was spent in recovery mode after a big night out – first hangover in absolutely years – ouch!  I “should” have been back on the treadmill last night, but home life with kids got in the way.  I’ll probably head out for a run again tomorrow when I work from home – a full week since my last run and with an event this weekend that we’re completely under prepared for.

Back on the Treadmill Again

Well, I didn’t get going on the day I wanted to, but I got there.  Treadmill run at lunch time today while working from home so that I could squeeze it all in.  Started the program with a bang – I’ve increased my paces for intervals by two levels in the Nike training plan which made for a pretty full on session today.

Tempo pace, which was my “easy” today has increased from 7:10 to 6:30min/km.  Fastest intervals were kilometre pace, which has increased from 6:15 to 5:35min/km.  I didn’t do this exact session last time around on this plan, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but intervals last time were always relatively easy.  I don’t think that’s going to be the case this time!

I have a couple of sessions to catch up on, but if I can squeeze one in every other day for the next week I will be all caught up.  Good things about my run today were my heart rate recovery between intervals was great dropping back under 120bpm every time and usually a lot less.  My cadence was also looking good with my fastest intervals jumping to about 170spm on average – so much better and I wasn’t even focussing on it.  I’m also looking forward to seeing the impact the faster interval sessions will have on my pace overall!

What’s Coming Up?

Confession time – I haven’t been for a run since the NOSH event.  We even just had a long weekend, which usually means a great opportunity to fit in two longer outdoor runs – this time, nothing.  I’m not injured, the kids aren’t sick, we didn’t have plans that stopped it from happening, I just didn’t want to.  So I didn’t.

But, that has to change.  It’s 14 weeks away from my first official half marathon event.  I’m going to give the same training plan another go and this time I’m going to stick to it and try not to make the same mistakes again.  I need to actually DO the simple strength training, stretching and foam rolling my body needs to keep running.

So other than a half marathon at the end of September, what else is lined up?  (Because with orienteering going on, there’s never just one event within a three month period!)  In three weeks is the annual Sydney Turkey Trot – a line course orienteering event usually taking in urban bushland, but this time up in the Blue Mountains.  Assuming we can get baby sitting lined up, we’ll be up for the medium course (approx 12km) again.  There’s a 6 hour rogaine in Canberra in mid-August that I’m trying to sort out too.  The in-laws are lined up to come down with us and look after the girls while we do the event and we can all hang out together the rest of the time and get to check out some of the fun things Canberra has to offer.

Hopefully we can get along to a few other smaller orienteering events in between these and, despite the half marathon being a road race, I’ve eyed off some local trails I haven’t been on yet to check out for some of my longer runs.  I need to get back on trails again – my mind doesn’t get the same refresh from the road runs that it does from an hour or two on the trails.

Now I just have to make sure I get back on the treadmill, starting tonight!

Asthma and Winter

After finding out last year that I have asthma, I followed my doctors instructions on managing it last winter.  Come spring, I  gradually weaned myself off the preventer until I was able to go drug free for over 6 months during the warmer weather.  With the first cold snap around Easter and a mild cold virus, symptoms kicked back in again and I started back on the preventer.  I was nearly through my script though, so it was time to go back to the doctor and get a plan together as to how I should properly be managing this, as I felt like I was making it up on the fly with no real guidance.

Since we moved house at the end of last year, I hadn’t needed to visit the local GP and find myself a new doctor.  So off I went, was told how damn healthy I was, but that I should get a spirometry test to check things out.  I was booked in for the following week and, following some reading on the internet, took myself off my preventer for the week prior.  Luckily things had settled down and nights weren’t nearly as cold, so it wasn’t too much of an issue.  Turns out I did the right thing, although I probably didn’t need to stay off it for quite so long.

The test itself was pretty simple.  Breath out into a tube as hard and for as long as you can.  It took a couple of goes to get the hang of it and then turned out 3 fairly similar results in a row.  That gave us a baseline.  Then it was two puffs of ventolin, wait 10 minutes and go again.  All done and dusted and I was booked in to get the results later the same afternoon.

My GP was happy with the results.  They showed that I do have asthma, but it is very well controlled and has likely not caused long term damage to my lungs at this point.  After the ventolin, my output increased by approximately 5%.  He helped me put together a bit more of a plan on how to manage things.  Two puffs on the preventor each morning during winter, adding in two puffs in the evening as well if I start to get any sort of cold/virus/respiratory infection.  Ventolin as needed if I start feeling like I can’t quite catch my breath.  Then, as spring starts, as long as I’m not needing to use the Ventolin I can start backing off on the preventor with the aim being to wean off it for the summer again.

Other things I found out is that I have excellent lung capacity at approximately 120% of the “normal” for my age/sex/ethnicity/height.  I also seem to be taller!  I’ve “always’ been 168cm, last year at the GP I was 169cm and this year I have reached 170cm.  When I mentioned this, they re-measured only to confirm that I may even be a bit over 170cm.  Both of these things I’m going to give the credit to running (well, ok and genetics, especially for lung capacity).  My posture has definitely improved since I started running and I stand taller and slouch less.

So management has started.  I have a healthy baseline from the spirometry testing which can be used for comparison in the future.  I am more confident in what I should do daily and how to manage any minor issues that crop up.  Fortunately, other than when I had swine flu a few years ago, I’ve never had a major asthma attack and hopefully with good management, I can keep it that way.

Best part – all the doctors I saw (three different ones) told me to keep up the running!

Lessons Learnt

Some big lessons, some reminders and some things I really should know better after last weekends trail race.

  • Don’t ignore your asthma, just because it’s seasonal, mild, whatever. You have it.  Carry a puffer. Don’t be slack with taking the preventer.
  • In preparing for a hilly trail race, run hills and trails in training. To be fair, I knew this  and had planned more hills and trails. Calf issues early in the year and achilles pain more recently had me pulling back on this and running mostly flat road runs. Which would have been great for a flat road half marathon. Not so much a lesson as a reminder that the way my training went meant that while I am fitter this year, I’m still not trained for the terrain. It did at least have me fit and able to run, rather than injured and having to sit it out completely, but I was never going to get my time goals training this way.
  • Strength training will help! Yes, of course I know this. But I’ve never had it thrown in my face quite so effectively 🙂 Those calf raises, squats and bridges my physio keeps telling me to do? I need to start doing them. I worked out a bit too late the perfect time to do my calf raises – while I wait for the train in the morning on my way to work. Every day from now on! Now to find the perfect time for the others.
  • Sort out fueling. My husband told me after the race that I need to start fueling earlier as I was getting snappy. I think my first thing was less than 40mins in though.  Personally I think I just don’t like people talking to me when I’m not in the mood for it as I often do runs over an hour without anything. But I do need to sort it out, I just didn’t prioritise it. Work out if trailwind, nuun, whatever, work for me and test them – preferably before I hit a trail with no nearby toilet stops!
  • Make sure I get out on the course a couple of times in training where possible. I had been on the first part several times in the past six months which made it a comfortable, known section. While this is our third year running the event, having a couple more outings on the latter parts would definitely help.

Plenty to work on for next year and I’m sure it will help with everything in between as well.  There were some things I did right as well though, so maybe they will make it for another post.  Next up, Sydney Turkey Trot on 2nd July!

Great Nosh Footrace 2017

The day started out overcast, but slightly warmer than the previous couple of weeks
had been in the morning. Big relief as it had been getting damn chilly in the mornings! I even had hopes that I wouldn’t need to wear a hat if the clouds could hang around. But the clouds cleared to a gorgeous sunny, cool morning – perfect weather for some time on the trails. Nick dropped our girls off to spend the morning with the grandparents then we headed off to the start. Easy pickup for our race bibs, a quick snack and join the queues for a last minute toilet stop.

Made our way down to the start about 15 mins before time, not many down yet and most people didn’t head down until right before start. It seemed a lot busier than last
year. Realised near the start that I had forgotten to take my asthma preventer this morning and didn’t have my ventolin with me as planned. Shouldn’t be an issue though since it was a warmer morning than usual with a gorgeous sunny day ahead, so I wasn’t expecting any problems. Our pace was steady and constant in this first section. A pause only to eat my first bit of cookie and take a look at Nicks pack to see if we could work out what was jingling around. Had a few people sitting on our tail in sections that were happy to pace from us – annoyed the crap out of me though as they were sitting too close on my tail which is uncomfortable on technical track. Managed a PR on a couple of strava segments in this section. Get to the first checkpoint and same time as the last two years! I really thought I would gain a couple of minutes on this one. Admittedly we were still surrounded by people this year, whereas previously we had already been dropped by nearly the entire pack.
CP1: 48min (6km) – no change

This section always seems to be hillier than we expect and I could feel the start of a
blister on the edge of the ball of my foot – a surprise since this shoe/sock combo has
never given me any issues before and is my go to trail wear. There was a photographer
sitting about half way up the first bastard of a hill which we were walking up (much
more strongly than last year). Had a chat, started jogging and thumbs up – gotta look
good for the photo. Chatted with a bloke wearing a parkrun shirt who was a much
stronger walker than us on the hills but not as quick when we got running again. He
was up in Sydney visiting his daughter and had jumped at the chance for a trail run
while here. We spent a lot of time playing leap frog with him all the way to checkpoint 2, I always enjoy the chatting on these events. Made sure we had a few words, or at the very least a good morning and thank you to all the volounteers along the way. Happy to pick up a few minutes here.
Mid point: 1:13 (8.7km) – 3mins saved!

Started well along here. We had dropped a few people and with no one for a fair way in front of us we were able to move at our own pace. This is generally a bit faster than average on the downhills and slower than average for the rest… So if we’re around people it tends to get a bit frustrating (for everyone!) on this very technical single track. Was starting to struggle a bit with my breathing along here, having to stop several times to get it back under control, really wish I had my ventolin with me at this point. Caught up to a couple of others at a tricky creek crossing /boulder crossing. One was an older guy with headphones in. He really struggled with any climbing but flew along in the running sections. Very frustrating as he never heard us coming and it was hard to get in his line of sight so we could get past him. Mostly walked quite a bit of this due to the technical nature and my fear of doing something nasty to an ankle. I had one twinge from my achilles which had me swearing and slowed me for a little while, but it didn’t cramp and I was able to move comfortably again pretty quickly – phew! By the time we had climbed out of the single track and had a bit more space to move my blisters started to really bother me on the rocky surface. See the gate at the end of the trail, checkpoint should be just around the corner, but wait – it’s not there!!! Kept going an extra couple hundred metres to finally get to the checkpoint. Spent a bit too long here (again), topped up my water bladder which I had emptied (and then didn’t drink from it again…). Nick mixed up some Nuun and shared a bit with me to keep us going for the final few kilometres. Lots of strava PRs in this section, picked up only a couple of minutes though which was disappointing, however there wasn’t much I could do about my breathing.
CP2: 2:09 (13.4km) – 4 mins saved!

The final big climb and my glutes were really starting to bug me. Gees – I’ve finally got my running sorted so I use my glutes more and not just my quads/calves and they go and wear out first. Continued having trouble with breathing which was getting more frequent and not helped by my muscles desire to stop. For the first time we’ve done this race, the trail was completely dry – a very different race from last year.  Almost at the end and I started coughing and coughing. Stop. This wasn’t a “cough”, I was struggling to get enough air. Make myself stop, relax, stand up straight, breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Stay calm. Tell Nick to stop and come back to me. I was ok, time to get moving again. Out onto the oval and the final 50m dash for the finish line. Nick  comes around and beside me, we lengthen our stride and start sprinting. Around the  finish chute, people are clapping, cheering and calling out to us, encouraging me to “stick your elbows out” to make sure Nick doesn’t get past me. I think he pipped me at the post though, but we finished with big grins and a bit of a laugh. Apparently we finished too quickly though and the photographer missed it!
Finish: 2:39 – 5 mins faster

While the photographer is suggesting we “re-run” the finish so he can get a photo (not going to happen!) I’m busy trying to get the words out to ask for a ventolin. After a couple of attempts, Nick manages to ask for me and I’m whisked off to the medical tent. Spend way longer than needed, but appreciate that once they treat me, they have to take all the details and make sure I’m 100% ok. Can guarantee I won’t be doing a long run again without my ventolin on me. Another one to notch up to experience.

While I was (very) disappointed with our time. We finished in much better condition than previous years. Given the slow pace, caused mostly by my breathing issues, other than my blister and slightly tight achilles, we’re both feeling pretty good today. Muscles know that they did a decent run yesterday, but there were no issues going up the stairs at the train station this morning and I reckon I’ll be back out again mid week. As it does every year, there is plenty to learn and take away and work on to make sure I do better next year! But that’s for another post.

Results were online straight away due to the use of timing chips this year. We were in the final 10 runners again, although they separated out the walkers for the first time and another 20 or so finished after us there. We both came 33rd in our age group – last for Nick, but 3 more in my age group came in after me. Photographs were up Monday, but sadly none of us. It looks like in most cases the photographers had left before we got to their locations and then they missed us coming in at the finish as well. Bit sad about that one. But I have the shirt!

Race Day!

It’s finally here!  I’m not sick or injured and my tummy seems to be behaving.  Today is my chance to do better than I have the last two years on this course.  The big question is, what can I do?  I’ve looked at my past two years and each time it’s been the hills in the middle section that have done me in.  Hopefully I’m a bit stronger and have a bit more cardio fitness to go the distance this time.

For reference, times from the last two years:

2015 (15.7km):

  • CP1: 48min (6km)
  • Mid-point: 1hr 11min (8.3km)
  • CP2: 2hr 6min (12.5km)
  • Finish: 2hr 38min

2016 (16.5km):

  • CP1: 49min (6km)
  • Mid-point: 1hr 16min (8.8km)
  • CP2: 2hr 13min (13.3km)
  • Finish: 2hr 44min

April-May Stats

Well, it’s been a while since I looked at my stats for a month.  The last two months have been my biggest ones so far – even with a few skipped runs this month due to the wrong shoes.  So, with no further delay, here it is!

April

  • Distance: 85.6km
  • Elevation: 873m
  • Number of runs: 10

May

  • Distance: 75km
  • Elevation: 559m
  • Number of runs: 8

That’s 160km in two months!!!  That’s huge for me.  Two years ago I was lucky to hit 30km in a month.  I’m now kicking close to 600km in the last year.  Even better, my new shoes arrived yesterday so here’s hoping for more pain free running in June.  But first, on Sunday, there’s the NOSH 16km trail race!