Scheyville Minigaine

The forecast was for a hot day, the only question was – how hot? With the event running from 12-3pm, we would be out in the hottest part of the day, not something I particularly looked forward to. In the end I think it hit 32 degrees, not the most pleasant running weather especially in open areas, but bearable under the cover of trees and helped by the low humidity which almost instantly wicked any sweat away.

We made good time out to Scheyville National Park, arriving with just over an hour to go before the midday start. Checked in, toilet stop, then back to the car and pulled out the table and chairs to find a spot in the shade to set up and sort ourselves out. A quick look over the map, sunscreen on, sandwich in hand and then settle in to study the map and plan our route. There were a couple of suggested novice routes indicated on the back – these are always helpful as they give a point tally and distance to cover which can then usually be extended on to give a longer route. We pulled out the highlighters and string and linked some controls together and started putting a plan in place. The route looked a bit long, but there were a couple of places we could adjust and make changes based on how we were going, so we were happy enough with it as a starting point. Made sure our packs were ready, put everything else back in the car, a final toilet stop and then join the rest of the competitors up at the hash house for the final briefing.

There were over 300 people entered and at the sound of the siren people headed in all directions. A good number of people went the same way we had planned, so we settled in behind them, letting them trample a path through the hip high grass for us. We came on the first control easily – there were people everywhere still – someone had already ended their day with what was hopefully nothing worse than a bad ankle sprain, and then we followed more people streaming up the hill towards the next control. After the second control, numbers started thinning quite a bit, but there were still enough to lead us almost directly to the next couple of controls with little effort. This was nice, as they were “off track” controls and there was no need to pull the compass out. The footing was pretty uneven, but it was still possible to make decent time through most of it.


This first five controls were out in the open, then our plan had us heading for the trees. A short section of road before we cut across to the southern portion of the map to pick up the next 5 controls there. These were reasonably easy, mostly just off track with slightly overgrown gullies leading to them. Plenty of people on this section in both directions – we picked up the pace on the downhills and some of the flats while walking the uphills. The heat was already starting to take its toll hough, and despite having kept on top of my asthma meds after an annoying cold two weeks ago, I needed a couple of puffs on the ventolin in the first hour (once I realised my shortness of breath was possibly more to do with this than my current lack of fitness). Lots of kids out on course too doing an amazing job in the heat.

Not a cloud in sight

Back up to the road, and an unplanned stop while Nick had to do a bug check – he’d had several attach themselves to him in the last section we had gone through and we weren’t sure what they were. He was all clear though, so we continued along the road for a short while again before getting back on to wide, smooth gentle trails and jogged our way along to the next dam and another control. We realised we weren’t moving as quickly as we would have liked, and with water starting to get a bit low too, we changed plans to just grab a 90 pointer and head straight for the water drop. The 90 pointer proved a bit of a challenge to find the right entry point off the main track and a lot more pushing our way through scratchy tea trees than we would have liked. We saw more people making the same mistake we did as we returned to the main path and jogged our way along to the water drop via scenic control 36.

Water drop

The water drop was well stocked and looked like very few people had taken advantage of it when we were there. It was a time consuming stop and the national park sign was just the right height to clip Nick on the head while we were there (leaving him a nice bruise on the forehead today). We left here feeling refreshed and we hit an extended downhill section of the course making good time along clear paths to the next control. We had to pay attention in the next bit with a network of trails and then a very faint trail leading off for the next point. Another fight through the tea trees left us a little worse for wear but another 60 points in hand. With 45 minutes to go, we needed to start making a beeline back to the start, so we dropped our planned 80-30-50 route and went for a 30-50-20-20 instead. Probably the wrong choice, and the final section saw me in a world of pain on very tired legs as we pushed to the end. We finished in a clean 2:57, three minutes before finish.

The queue for the bbq was long, I would have loved a bit of fruit or cake, but Nick was keen to get moving and I had no energy to argue. We still had water in our packs and that would do for now. We slowly made our way back to the car. Now that we had stopped, I realised just how much I had pushed my body. It hadn’t been a hard run, but the heat, lack of running over the past couple of months and my recent head cold had conspired to ensure that the 15km we had covered felt more like twice that distance. I struggled to stand, to talk, to sit, my feet tingled and my legs ached, I was shattered.

A bit of shade

As always, the results were up within a couple of hours. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t do as well as we would have hoped, but we didn’t completely disgrace ourselves either. Our score of 980 put us in 6th spot (out of 17) in the mixed veteran teams with only 50 points between us and 4th place – the first 3 teams doing much better. In the open mixed teams we placed 15th out of 57, and overall we were 26th out of a total 96 teams. There were another 69 solo runners out on the course too.

Fuelling with Tailwind worked brilliantly again, but overall we were both disappointed with the day (Nick more so than me). We had planned far more optimistically than we were going to manage, and in cutting short our route we dropped a lot of planned points. In hindsight, an alternate middle section to our plan would have been much better – there was a lot of distance and time for few points in there. The tea tree was an unwelcome fixture in the northern parts of the course, a much hated obstacle for us and while I had knee high socks on, Nicks legs were fairly bare and copped a good scratching from the day. But mostly it was my current lack of running that slowed us down, so it’s back to regular running following physios orders to make sure I can stay uninjured and get back some consistency before we hit the trails again!

Two days post rogaine and my calf muscles are still suffering – more so than almost any other event we’ve done.  Dozens of scratches on arms and around knees from the tea trees, but otherwise pulled up ok after a good nights sleep.  Nick has a bump on his forehead from hitting the sign, but is otherwise fine.

It’s been a while since I posted, so will try and get maps up for this rogaine in another day or two and then do a catch up post – there’s been a lot happening!


Metrogaine – Bondi to Bar

A week out, the forecast was for a humid day with temps around 30. Three days out, 3-15mm of rain and max of 26 – that sounded a lot better! By Saturday the forecast was 25-40mm of rain and temps around 21 – this did NOT sound so good. I don’t mind a bit of rain while running, being drowned in a deluge and squelching along in sodden shoes and clothes while trying to read a map was a whole different thing though.

Sunday morning was warm, overcast and humid. Checking the radar, storms were raging to the south of Sydney, with small patchy showers creeping north. We crossed our fingers that the bulk of the rain would hold off until at least half way through the event and headed off.  We picked up our maps and tags and headed back to the car for planning. We had been lucky and found a park 2 spots away from the entry gate, so we could stay warm, dry and comfortable while we prepared. We followed a similar plan to our last rogaine – I highlighted the high and mid point controls on my map to give us a visual overview of what to make sure we looped in, and Nick’s map had our eventual route plan. There were some course planners notes on the back of the maps with warnings like – this control only for experienced navigators – and – cliffs are unfenced and dangerous near this control – as well as some recommended routes for novices. The recommended routes are usually a great starting point for putting our routes together, and this one was no different.

We plotted out a route that looked like it would take us to around 30km, with multiple places towards the end where we could easily alter plans to lengthen or shorten as needed while still maximising points. We gobbled down a honey sandwich, put on our wrist tags and made our way to the hash house. A quick loo stop, pre-race briefing and we were off. People headed off in all directions and within 100m of the start we were on our own! This was incredibly unusual and we didn’t see another runner for over half an hour. We headed straight south, planning to get around Malabar headland and pick up the 500 or so points in the area as quickly as possible. With it pretty much guaranteed to rain at some point, we didn’t want to be caught in the exposed rock platforms and dirt trails when it came.

One of the controls was down on the beach – we took it slow as I HATE getting sand in my shoes and were overtaken by a couple of teams here. Then it was up on the headland proper and keeping an eye out for what was described as “indistinct trails”. We ended up on an old rail line which made for easy running and then had to rock climb out of it to get to the control above us. We led another team through this section and saw several other teams as we headed out again. The exposed cliffs were incredibly windy and we could see the rain to the south. The coastline here was rugged and beautiful, I love how rogaines get me out to explore new areas of Sydney that I haven’t seen before. Then it was heading towards Maroubra Beach and a quick in and out along the new boardwalk for a 80 pointer, time to empty the shoes of dirt and sand before hitting what would now be almost all road.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a rogaine without some sort of injury, so I fulfilled this requirement as we headed back down the boardwalk. There were double gates at the entrance and as I lifted the latch and pushed the gate open, my thumb was squished between the two. Damn that hurt. The pain hit and a wave of nausea swept over me as I swore and held my thumb as still as possible – we kept walking though, after all, we still had a long way to go. Fortunately it was just soft tissue and despite continuing pain, it didn’t seem that anything serious had happened. And on we went…

A couple of shots from the organisers – we’re running in step!







The next section of our route was taking us along the coastal walking path that goes from Maroubra to Bondi – we would be turning off probably around Bronte. This was going to be a continuously hilly section as the path headed from beach to headland cliff tops, again and again and again. There was clambering over slippery rocks, slow uphills, easy running downhills and a detour through Waverley Cemetry.

I had been keeping fueled using Tailwind – an energy/electrolyte mix added to the water in my hydration bladder. It had been working brilliantly, despite my legs getting a bit tired, I felt great and had needed no other fuel. It was time to move onto the caffeinated tailwind though for that extra boost for the final stretch. Good timing had us passing a water fill station at exactly the right time. In hindsight, I should have had less water this time around, as I didn’t drink it all, and a more concentrated solution would probably have helped. But otherwise it was brilliant! Still some fine tuning needed, but I think I’m finally getting fueling right.

It was time to head away from the coast – more hills to come and some decisions to be made regarding our route. We had covered about 20km in 3.5 hours, so were making good progress. We decided to combine our options and hit some really high points on our way towards Centennial Park. This involved a LOT of hills. Our legs were getting really tired now and starting to hurt, but on we went, running when it was flat or downhill and walking when it wasn’t. My walking pace slowed as my muscles tightened up and I couldn’t stretch out as much. We made it to the high point of the course at the Waverley Reservoir and picked up the 100 points on offer. Thank goodness for the long downhill that followed from there towards Centennial Park! Some nice flat running through the park, and then easy going for a while.

We were constantly reassessing our route now and dropped a couple of low point controls to take a more direct route and ensure we made it back in time. Our legs were really giving us problems now, but we knew we had to be able to push into a run wherever we could to make it back. One final steep hill (the footpath was just steps!), a long easy downhill and we were back on flatter ground again. And of course, less than 30 minutes to go and the rain hit. None of the light, misty stuff that had hit several times earlier in the day, this was serious cold, stinging, windy rain that quickly drenched us and started making the shoes soggy.

Still more steps!

It didn’t take long until we were soaked, but there was no point calling it quits now, so on we went to get our final 80 pointer. Thank goodness for waterproof maps! Cold, wet and almost hitting “miserable”, we made it back to the finish with less than 2 minutes left – perfect timing! We packed under the shelter along with everyone else, grabbing some of the food on offer – fruit, cake, and Nick joined the queue for the sausage sandwiches. I desperately needed to sit down and get off my feet, and was lucky to find a seat under cover and away from things to eat up the cake and biscuit I had nabbed. Nick headed inside to see if scores were available, but nothing was up, so he generously headed to the car to get towels and our dry gear and bring it back so we could get changed. What a relief to get the soggy shoes off and some dry clothes on. We made our way back to the car and “recovered” for a bit, getting some food and more drinks in before heading home.

Preliminary results were posted incredibly quickly – we’d had a great run!
Mixed Veterans: 4/30
Mixed Open: 6/65
Overall: 22/137
Distance: 34.5km
Points: 2080

Only 25 teams scored over 2000 points (out of a possibly 3070), and we were only 10 points behind 3rd place in our Mixed Veterans Category. The first two teams were 500 and 600 points in front of us, so a long way ahead, but this was by far our most competitive result to date.

A hot shower, putting on some compression tights and bbq for dinner had us feeling a lot better, although completely exhausted. We were very happy with our effort though – we had covered further than we’d managed in any previous rogaine and our placing was also our best effort yet. So what did we get right, and wrong, this time…

What we got right: A good, solid dinner the night before had both us feeling well fueled from the start. Last rogaine we made the mistake of trying to get too much fuel in too close to the start, so we stuck to a simple honey sandwich (after a decent, but normal breakfast) then just tailwind for fueling throughout the event. Tailwind worked a dream – can’t say enough good things about it, we usually lose over an hour of “stopped time”, mostly due to eating and needing some rest. We had it down to 40 minutes, most of which was probably map reading, a couple of toilet stops and refilling water. We got our planning right – we had the distance right and our points picked up right. For what we are capable of at the moment, we got it right. Not perfect, but we’re not complaining. My phone still takes a decent enough photo from inside a ziplock bag, and it stayed dry the whole day. Putting my hair up in pigtails removed the issue of it getting in my face and draping on my neck with sweat/rain and bugging me – another thing to get used to with shorter hair…

What we got wrong: My second Tailwind fuelling should have been stronger, that’s an easy fix for next time. Our changing of route right towards the end probably did us out of a number of points. We need to look at elevation and routes at the end more closely before heading out so that we’re not trying to make decisions when our brains are fried at the end. I need a good waterproof, running jacket. While we likely still wouldn’t have used it yesterday, it was pure luck that the rain didn’t hit earlier, and it was freezing! We would have had to finish early if that had happened, just because I would have been cold. Going to the physio and having him get stuck into my calves two days out from an event is too close – I still felt bruised on Sunday morning and was surprised they held out so well in the end.

The day after, I ache in my hips, the bottoms of my feet feel bruised and my knee is giving a few niggles. I’m tired, and all my muscles know they had a good thrashing yesterday, but I’ve already pulled up better than before. We got lucky with the weather – we ended up with over 70mm of rain falling in 24hrs, thank goodness it waited until the end of the event to hit. Here’s hoping that we can do even better next time!

Feb Stats

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog for the last month.  It’s been a busy one for us, with the oldest starting school and all the adjustments to routines and additional tiredness associated with it all.  I also haven’t run as much due to a niggling calf/shin injury after doing a bit too much at the end of January.  Looks like I got to it in time though and with some help from the physio my running didn’t have to slow down too much.

Stats for Feb:

  • Distance: 72.15km
  • Elevation: 978m

What else has happened…  I finally made it to Brisbane in Run Down Under, it’s only taken me a little over two years to do the 1244km.  The next “big” town is around 4000km, so even with an increase in my annual distance, it might take me a while to get there!

Nearly half my kilometres this month were from a single rogaine last weekend (blog post coming tomorrow).  Despite the fact that I didn’t quite hit my goal this month that I need to reach the 1000km for the year, I still ran further than all but 2 months from last year.  It’s also the most elevation I’ve ever done in a single month.

January Stats

With January ending up a bit of a bust the last two years due to starting too enthusiastically and ending up with overuse injuries each time, this year is off to a much better start.  First, the numbers:

  • Distance: 92km
  • Elevation: 606m

Woohoo – biggest month ever for distance!  This month my focus was on taking it easy for all my non-orienteering runs.  I did a lot more on the treadmill than usual to escape the sun and heat, and this let me focus on keeping the pace down while I listened to some podcasts to pass the time.  As a result, I’ve hit my target of 20km/week and I’ve managed to avoid injury.  There have been only a few orienteering runs in there where I have pushed things and have been feeling  a lot fitter for it.

My goal of doing “something” active each day was almost achieved – I missed one day in January, close enough for me.  February has been off to a terrible start though with one run done and nothing else, at best that’s three days missed already.  Will have to see what I can do about that!

Weekend Finished on a Winner

The weekend just gone I managed two very different runs. The aim was to get a long run in Saturday morning before it got too hot and then, depending on the weather possibly do another sprint orienteering event on the Sunday evening.

Off to a bad start on the Saturday morning, when my stomach was rebelling – not sure if it was the curry I had for lunch on Friday or the meatballs we had Friday night… Whatever the case, I opted for the treadmill as it seemed quite likely some mid-run stops would be required. Then the bluetooth headphones wouldn’t connect to my phone. I’ve become used to listening to podcasts while I run on the treadmill to make the time pass, so no headphones and I had to focus to listen through the phone speaker to the chosen TED talks. Just over half a kilometre in and my watch buzzed a few times – connected to phone, disconnected to phone, buzz, buzz, buzz… tracking of my run stopped and started a few times. I ticked over a kilometre and checked how it was going on my watch. Only 740 metres registered. Somehow, my gps had kicked in again and, of course, it wasn’t recording any more distance – great! Turned gps off and kept going.

The run was already hard and with the issues already I was ready to quit, but I talked myself into doing a bit more. The first kilometre or two is often harder until I settle in, hopefully this would be the case here too. 1.5km and I was struggling badly and ready to call it quits when I reach 2km, instead, I dropped back the pace and talked myself into doing one more kilometre. Still wanting to quit, I told myself I could stop at 30 minutes. I was over 4km now, so how about I just go to 5km. Then, if I just go to 5.5km, I will only have 2km left to reach my weekly goal and sprint courses are usually at least 2.5km, so I can still reach my goal. Not wanting to fail in my weekly goal so early in the year, I talked myself into finishing the 5.5km, just as my stomach started to let its presence be known. Phew! Most uncomfortable run in a long time, my planned 8-10km didn’t happen, but I certainly did better than the 2km I had nearly stopped at, so I’ll count it as a win.

Sprint orinteering this week and it was our turn to help out. We had been put at the registration desk for the “first shift” – helping with set up of the tables and course info, then handling registrations, payments and handing out the control lists. Much easier job at a sprint event than a normal Summer Series for a few reasons – no maps to manage, only a single course and fewer participants with almost everyone a regular and knowing how it all works. We had a lovely area under some big gum trees for shade, the temperature had dropped back under 30 degrees and there was a lovely breeze. We also picked up our new Garingal team t-shirts. We had made the right call on sizing and they were lovely, light and comfortable.

We finished up our shift and sorted ourselves out, ready to run. Main problem was the site had no access to toilets or water. Water wasn’t an issue as we had brought our own, but no toilets was a bigger problem – we always try and do a “final visit” before a run, especially in summer when we have been drinking more water throughout the day. But today, it was not to be and we headed to the start, ready to make the best of it. It was the longest sprint course we had hit to date being advertised as just shy of 4km on the optimal route and was also called out as “flat”. Which it wasn’t. Admittedly, it didn’t have the steep hills of a typical north shore suburb, but it was enough to let you know there was definitely some elevation involved.

As a single option sprint course, a runner was given a map every 30 seconds to ensure no immediate following or crowding at the early controls. Nick took off before me and I followed next. First look at the map and it looked to be a tricky course, with a good number of route choices to be made getting around buildings between controls. The first few controls had Nick and I passing each other as we criss-crossed the map, until Nick got a bit more of a lead on me. Apparently he also saw me as he headed to the final control, as I headed towards the final 3. I passed a few people early one, and was passed by several more throughout the course.

The map was well marked, although I still had trouble at a couple of locations where controls were located up stairs, but I was looking at ground level. Overall though, with 23 controls to track down, I really only took more than a few seconds locating the control once – my gut and my brain disagreed, the brain took over but it turned out the gut had been right… Ah well, not too much time lost. And of course it was the only control I didn’t see a single other person nearby!

Around 2km in, the lack of toilet facilities at the start was starting to let itself be known. Yep – thanks very much kids for giving me a dodgy pelvic floor. The final 2kms was an exciting game of how fast can I run and not have a problem, and can I run down these stairs or not? Usually the answers were – not very – and – no. Not happy. As I approached the second last control, I was pushing along a flat stretch on tired legs and could hear someone just behind me, running ever so slightly faster than me. I just couldn’t push any harder though and they overtook me, getting to the last control slightly ahead of me. This wouldn’t do. It wasn’t far to the finish, downhill over ground littered with sticks. So I ran. Faster and faster. I overtook him with less than 100m to go and kept sprinting. That final 100m was at 3:30/km pace! And I was done.

Reviewing our runs later in the evening, our paths had been remarkably similar, with alternate routes taken only twice. While Nick was faster than me by almost 4 minutes over the 4+km course, I at least managed a few splits that were quicker than him. The results were published later the same night (very quick!) and we saw them this morning – neither of us came last in our category! We both came second last… Admittedly, for me at least, this was a great result as it meant I also came FIRST in my age category. Very happy with that . My only complaint regarding the event was the lack of toilest available. For future events, if there are no toilets available, I don’t think I will be running unless we can start as soon as we arrive…

Rogaining for 2018

The NSW Rogaining calendar for the year has been updated and there are now locations against most of the events. This lets us start looking to see if any of them are feasible for us to get to.

There are usually two within metro Sydney – the 6hr Metrogaine and the 3hr Minigaine – and both again look like we should be able to make them. The big one we want to get to is the 24hr NSW Champs and then it’s a matter of looking at how far out any of the others are and whether we can look at getting a babysitter for the day for the girls, a day or overnight visit with the grandparents or see if we can convince the grandparents to join us for a weekend away somewhere and turn it into a long weekend holiday for us all. There’s also the ACT rogaining calendar, dates are available but locations for these aren’t up yet, so decisions there will have to wait until closer to the dates.

So far the event list looks like this:
– February: 6hr Metrogaine – Coogee
– April: 3hr Minigaine – Scheyville
– May: 6/12hr Autumngaine – Wingello
– June: Paddy Pallin 6hr – Cessnock
– August: Lake Macquarie 6/12hr – Sugarloaf SCA
– September: 24hr NSW Champs – Abercrombie NP
– November: 6hr Socialgaine – Berowra

Out of these, it again looks like we should be able to make the Metrogaine, Minigaine and Socialgaine as they are all within the Sydney Metro area with less than an hour travel time each way. The three 6/12hr rogaines are all under 2hrs drive away – makes for a long day for a 6hr event, but could be fun to do the 12hr and make a weekend of it.  We also need some practice at night orienteering before we hit another 24hr rogaine!  The 24hr is very near the location of last years, making it a 3:30-4hr drive, this one will definitely be a full weekend away.

It is exciting to put this together. While we enjoy the pace of the shorter orienteering events and getting to regularly explore areas close to home, it’s the rogaines that we really enjoy. The longer style event really pushes us physically – as we slowly get fitter we have adjusted our goals from merely lasting the time out, to gradually increasing the distance we can cover. We also get to work as a team and spend an extended number of hours together.  Mostly we have to stay focused on the task at hand, but there’s time enough too for rambling conversations and contented silence, just enjoying being together, with a common goal in the peace of the bush. It’s a far cry from the constant busyness of life in the city with young kids.

Bring on this year!  I know we won’t get to all of them, but rogaines provide a great motivation to keep moving and getting fitter and stronger.

It’s All About The Base

Surprisingly I’m still going strong with my decision to do something active every day.  Between running, yoga, pilates and keeping up with our girls it hasn’t been too hard.  My husband being keen to join me in some of the pilates and yoga hasn’t hurt either, and we’ve been doing some together and some separately.

The part that is surprising me is that I can already notice the impact of these extra sessions.  My core is getting stronger, my tummy slightly flatter, the niggles in back, shoulders and hips are reducing and my running feels stronger.  It might just be all in my head, but I’ll take it!

My focus at the moment is to try and keep most of my runs nice and easy and build up how many k’s I do each week – which I need to do without getting an overuse injury if I want to hit that 1000km annual goal.  They’re boring, especially on the treadmill, but it’s all going to help.  I needed to get outside earlier this week though, so I headed out after work Tuesday and hit the road.  I was smiling in the first kilometre and refused to look at my garmin for the rest of the run.  I ended up doing my quickest run on that route, and beating my PR on a 700m strava hill segment by 30 seconds – and it felt great!

Orienteering hasn’t been happening as much lately, the locations for Summer Series events hasn’t worked out for us.  We did make it to a Sunday Sprint though – our first one of these which was good fun.  Despite both of us having slightly upset tummies, we made it around without any mistakes and in a reasonable pace.  The results had us both coming last in our age categories!  Hopefully we can make it along to another couple of the Sprint event over the next month or two.

Exploring Bare Creek

On the last Friday of our holiday leave, Nick and I decided to head out on an exploratory trail run together.  I picked the Bare Creek trails just to our north, as I have been wanting to check them out for a while now and they are close enough to become regular trails if we want them to be.  It was shaping up to be a hot day and after swimming lessons in the morning and then getting our girls to daycare, it was a later start than either of us would have liked.

My expectations of the outing were to be running on nice, wide fire trails and a fair amount of elevation as we ran down into the valley, out the other side and then back again in a vague figure eight loop, covering approximately 13km.

As expected, the start of the trail was steep!  The first kilometre we dropped over 70m and a further 40m in the second.  While the trail was wide and well defined, because of the grade there was a lot of rock to help prevent erosion which meant constant concentration was required for foot placement so as not to roll an ankle.  I hadn’t thought to tape my dodgy ankle for the run, so I took things carefully and while I didn’t go over on it, the constant strain left me with a swollen and sore ankle for the next few days.  Having said that, the first couple of kilometres were fun – I love a good downhill, and it was great being out in the bush together.  The cicadas were loud without being deafening, it was going to be hot!

The creek was pretty, and luckily easy to cross without getting our feet wet which isn’t always the case.  From the creek it was an almost constant uphill trek, again on wide, rocky fire trail – not terribly conducive to running.  We jogged were it leveled out and walked the hills up, reaching the top of the Heath Trail and looking forward to the single trail ahead.  We were a little familiar with this area from previous orienteering events and knew there would be at least a short section of easy, runnable trail.  It was really hot by now, but this was much more pleasant.  In one stretch of about 50m there appeared to be yellow butterflies everywhere, on closer inspection it turned out to be crickets – leaping to shoulder height on our approach, with yellow undersides to their wings, it looked amazing.  With them leaping so high though, I firmly clamped my mouth shut, just in case!

The track narrowed and we had to check the map a couple of times to make sure we were on course as we then wound our way back down into the valley on the sort of trail that makes being out in the bush fun and challenging.  We made one minor wrong turn (couldn’t see a trail that was marked on the map) before we were back down the bottom again and too soon we had to make our way back up again.

We followed a longer, supposedly gentler track out of the valley this time.  The first section though was a 10% grade!  This was followed by some more hills and some gentle runnable sections of trail – which would have been nicer if I wasn’t completely out of puff from the previous hills and the heat certainly wasn’t helping.  This is were it definitely turned into a “bushwalk” as opposed to a “trail run”.  I did still jog some sections, but decided we were better off walking and enjoying it a bit more.  The final kilometre was uphill/flats along road and approaching midday in the full heat of the sun.  But we did it, with our hydration packs drained of water and looking forward to a dip in the pool once we got home.

I’m glad we checked out the trails, but I doubt we will be making it a regular route.  While it was nice being on open trail, the rockiness and grades made it a lot less enjoyable.  We miss our old trails which still had some hills, but for the most part were gentle, smooth, rolling trail along the valley, not just the hills in and out.  There’s still more to explore though, and hopefully that will open up some more options for us.  I became very frustrated with myself on this outing – I feel like I should be able to run most of these types of trails.  I’m happy to walk the steeper hills, but even towards the end of the run, I should still have the energy left to pick up the pace again and not be so exhausted by the end of it all.  The heat didn’t help, but I can’t blame it all on that.  I’ve been trying to make sure I add hills to my regular road runs, but I miss the trails and obviously need to hit them more often to get “trail fit” again.  Maybe I’ll get back to these trails again for some shorter outings and focus on “running” the hills…  We’ll see.

The numbers

  • Distance: 13km
  • Elevation: 342m
  • Time: 2hr 23m

First Week of the Year

Well, at least after a complete slow down of any activity at the end of December, I’m off to a decent start for the year.  I’ve hit my distance goals and my “stay active” goal, with the week looking like this:

  • Monday: 6km road run followed by 20 minutes of running around a bike track at an oval.  Our girls got bikes for Christmas and the local oval has an 800m paved path around it with a small hill.  The 4yr old flies around with training wheels on and gets us running intervals at up to 5:30/km pace.  Our 5yr old has had the training wheels taken off already and so we hold onto the bike as she gets comfortable with her balance and she can also push the pace a bit.  We will be in trouble once they really get the hang of it!
  • Tuesday: 2 x 30min sessions in the pool with our girls.  Not massively active, but definitely constantly on the move.
  • Wednesday: 6.5km treadmill run – steady pace with some quicker strides thrown in throughout for a bit of variety while listening to podcasts.
  • Thursday: 30 min in the pool with girls in the morning and tried out a post-run yoga stretch video.
  • Friday: Trail run with Nick. Turned into a walk as it was so hot and humid and the trails were steep.
  • Saturday: 2km chasing the girls on their bikes again – my oldest now only needing help to get started and riding on her own! 30mins in the pool and 2 x kids yoga videos.
  • Sunday: 1hr at the beach playing in the surf with the girls. 1 x kids yoga video, 1 x beginner pilates video, 30 mins in the pool with girls.
  • Monday: Nearly missed this one, but spent 10 mins stretching before bed.
  • Tuesday: 5km treadmill run followed by 10 min yoga for runners.

So far so good.  Nearly stuffed it up at the start of the second week as I’m back at work now, but I made sure something happened.  No excuses – yet!

Goals – 2018

So now to put together my list of goals for 2018 – to be honest, I haven’t put much thought into this at all this year, so I’ll be pulling it together as I write this…

  • Summer Series orienteering – continue improving route planning and increase distance.  I seem to hit around 6km on the flatter courses this season which I’m happy with, but my scores are still lower when compared to the rest of the field than I would like.
  • Rogaines – Aiming for 4 this year, I really want to include the 24hr NSW Champs again, and this year it just happens to fall on the same weekend as my birthday!  Would be good to get along to one other bush rogaine as well – maybe a 12hr!  Distance-wise, still want to hit half marathon for a 3hr if we do it this year and increased goal to 35km for a 6hr metro.
  • Sydney Blackmores Half Marathon – I entered this year and deferred due to getting the flu just two weeks before the event.  So I have to do it this year.  The aim will be to complete it happy.  Not sure of any time goals on this, that can be worked out closer to the time.

Non-event goals:

  • Consistency!  This is my biggest downfall, so I’ll try again.  2-3 runs a week, every week.
  • Realistic stretch distance goal of 800km for the year, with a “can I do it?” goal of 1000km for the year.  That  means, on average, 3 x 6.5km runs, every week for the entire year…
  • Introduce regular yoga/pilates/strength training.
  • Do something active every single day.  Whether it’s a run, 30min yoga, chasing the girls for 30mins on their bikes, a walk at work during lunchtime or even just 10min strength work in front of the tv of an evening.  Just. Do. Something!

So that’s it.  A shorter list than last year.  Definitely less “event” type goals.  Hoping for some more variety in the orienteering and maybe get along to a few more things over winter.  I’d love to do the Women Nav Training Weekend and actually get some instruction in orienteering, which is run each March, but that might have to wait for next year.  Let’s see what the year actually brings!