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!

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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!

2017 Goal Wrap Up

December was a slow running month for me and I finished it up with “not running” for the final two weeks of the year.  I just wasn’t feeling it and was struggling to get myself out and about and moving.  The new year is starting well though.  But first, let’s see how the year went based on what I hoped would happen at the start of the year.

  • Sydney Summer Series – improve map reading, route planning and distance.  The end of the 2016-17 season wasn’t too good on distances, I did improve slowly but steadily over the season though and my comfort level of heading out on my own with a map increased.  The start of the 2017-18 season has been good.  My distance covered is increased and consistent, route planning has improved (although still some good mistakes in there too!) and confidence is increasing.  I’m not letting my mistakes get to me as much either which is good.  I’m only covering around 1/2km less than Nick most runs which is a huge improvement on previous years.
  • Rogaines – I wanted to do 3 or more and we ended up hitting 5!  Other goals were to reach 30km in a 6hr (achieved!) and 21km in a 3hr – didn’t happen.  Loved them all.
  • Great NOSH – goal was to hit sub-2hr, time was almost exactly the same as previous years.  Not a good run.  Asthma played up, but basically I had dropped my training right back due to injury and wasn’t well prepared for it.
  • Turkey Trot – aiming for sub 1hr 40min.  Didn’t happen.  Was a bush course for once with considerable elevation and some very slow sections of track.  Happy with my result/time though as I came in just shy of a place in my category.
  • Manly Trail Series – wanted to get along to one of these, but didn’t.  After checking it all out and looking at it several times, I’ve decided it’s not for me.  The $100 entry fee for a 10km race (same fee for all distances) is something I can’t justify when I can just go for a run on trails myself for free – I’ll save event entries for things I wouldn’t usually do, or cheaper events eg the NOSH is only $30 or so.

Non-even goals:

  • Increase long run distance – hmmm, not sure I really succeeded on this one, although I did several runs throughout the year of 15+km and 10km is a longer but comfortable run now.
  • Increase cadence – Still a work in progress, but progress is being made.  When my pace is hitting 9km/hr or faster I’m now mostly in the “green”.  Road and treadmill definitely make this easier.
  • Explore local trails – didn’t really happen.  I tried a couple of times, but other than one good trail, others tend to be mostly overgrown or too rocky for running.  Haven’t stopped looking though!
  • Consistency – hmmm, did better this year then previous years, but can still room for a lot of improvement.  Probably only averaged 2 runs a week for half of the year…
  • 600km total distance for the year – I did it!!! Now, what should the goal for next year be?
  • NO overuse injuries – failed.  I slowed down over January to prevent this, and was a regular at the physio for a while in May too.

Now for the stats for 2017:

  • Distance: 631.8km
  • Elevation: 6766m
  • Time: 104hrs
  • No. of runs: 85

A decent increase on the previous years, let’s see if I can do even better in 2018.

A Change of Pace – Volunteering

Orienteering with a difference last weekend. As part of the social contract of orienteering, there is an expectation that if you attend events regularly, that you will take your turn and volunteer to help out at a couple each year as well. This weekend was our turn. It had been set up so that if you also want to get a run in, you can, but we decided that this time we would just help out and if time allowed, we would take the girls around the mini course at the end.

So we turned up early, helped to get the start area set up – the girls even helped carrying equipment up from the car and then doing a great job of keeping out of the way kicking balls on the oval. We were looking after registration, maps and money while the more experienced members were there to talk to people and help out any newbies when needed. It was a slow but steady stream of people coming through for the hour and a half we were on and the girls behaved beautifully (for the most part), kicking balls, colouring and eating. We could see a couple of the mini course controls from where we were sitting, and sent the girls on “missions” to check them out. They got a bit bored towards the end, so we put them to work passing registration cards over to the computer guy – they were thrilled to help and be part of it all!

Not long after 10am, we were booted out of our seats for the second shift of helpers to take over and we started off on the mini course. The girls had already spotted exactly where to head for the first one – one girl with the SI stick for beeping and the other with the map. They even picked the right direction off the map for the second control and with eagle eyes spotted the controls from quite a distance.

On we went, only needing assistance on spotting a few controls once pointed in the right direction, and half the time Nick and I didn’t even need to walk the full distance. They worked together as a team, encouraging each other on, and despite the heat, still picking up to a run most of the way (even more impressive given our oldest was suffering from tonsillitis…). We all made the final run back across the oval to the finish – the girls completely done in by then – and very proud of themselves. We tracked it all on the Garmin – Nick and I managed 2km, and the girls covering a bit more than that. Nearly 50m of elevation and taking 35 minutes. We came 13 out of 19 groups on the mini course – a fantastic effort from the girls, we’re pretty sure they were the youngest out on the day.

It was fun to head out to an event with zero expectations of running and putting some names to faces that we see at them regularly. The girls got to feel part of it all, help out and have a go themselves – we’ll get them reading maps on their own before we know it!

November Stats and Goal Achieved!

November felt good.  I finally felt like I was running regularly again and we snuck a rogaine in at the end of the month.

  • Distance: 67.7km
  • Runs: 9 (was that all?!)
  • Elevation: 976m (strava gave me 1450m, I like that better)

Best of all, my second run for December has kicked me over the 600km for the year – distance goal for the year achieved!  Since I didn’t make 500km last year, I am really happy to have made this years higher goal with time to spare.  Now I have a few more weeks to decide how optimistic to be for next years goal…