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.

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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…

Huntergaine – The Map

Forgot to post the map in my main blog for the rogaine, so here it is.

This is Nick’s copy of the map and shows our initial plan – there was a slight change at the start and we added on a lot of the south west corner at the end.  Having it marked up like this also meant that as our brains got tired towards the second half of the event, we didn’t have to try and remember what our plan was and could just follow the lines – much easier!

Newcastle Rogaine – The “Huntergaine”!

Uninjured and with a little more consistent running in the previous couple of months, I was looking forward to this rogaine and seeing what ground we could cover. The weather forecast had progressively improved from a max of 28, down to a max of 25, although the humidity wouldn’t be pleasant. We made good time heading off from home and arrived at the hash house with around 45 minutes to go. Quick toilet stop and in to pick up our maps and tags.

The map was A2 at 1:20,000 with 10 metre contours – and damn, there were a lot of contours! Nick scanned the map for routes, while I marked up mine highlighting the highest point controls purple, mid point controls in orange and leaving the lowest scoring controls unmarked. We had also brought along some knotted and marked string for measuring our route, so as Nick plotted a course we had a rough idea of the distance we would need to cover to complete it. Our chosen course was approx 22km taking straight line between controls – perfect! We hurriedly shoveled in some food, marked up our proposed route on Nick’s map and the “flight plan” that we had to hand in and finished getting set up for the start.  This was definitely the quickest we had put together a route that we were still happy with after the event as well, maybe there’s something to this highlighter/string/organisation thing.

Before we knew it, the siren started and everyone was off. Well, sort of. First point of call was another toilet stop – and we weren’t the only ones with the same plan! Then we headed of for an easy walk towards the first control. Our plan was to start easy and warm up our legs before doing any running, knowing that there would be plenty of opportunity to stretch out the legs later.  Others were also taking their time and the first few controls were quite busy. It was actually the “busiest” rogaine we have been on – there was barely a control all day that didn’t have at least one other group around it while we were there and other than one quieter section, we would have had barely 5 minutes go by without seeing another team.

We managed to separate from the bulk of other competitors by the third control as we headed up our first hill for the day. It was stinking hot already and we were already starting to raise a sweat despite not having gone above a walk. I had to get Nick to slow down a bit a couple of times as we were pushing quite hard and my tummy wasn’t feeling great either. I tried to shake it off – drank some of the tailwind I had filled my hydration pack with and we managed to finally raise a jog along some gentle downhills and flats towards the next control.

We had been warned of daleks on the course and found our first (and only, for us) dalek here. There was a photo competition for the best snap of a “team with dalek” and some teams had some great entries. With all the hills on the course, there were also some fantastic views on offer. On we went, along hot, open streets that seemed to head straight up and down the steepest part of the hills. An in and out to grab a control which headed first down a steep hill, steps and then back up and out to continue on was especially cruel. Then it was finally in to the first bush area to grab some controls there. Finally, some shade!

But of course, it wasn’t going to be that easy. Yes, there was shade, but parts of the course were a popular mountain biking area, with trails criss-crossing all over the place. We avoided the worst of it thank goodness, but still hit a few patches where a compass would have been handy. Sections of the trails were very pretty and quiet. But for the most part it was steep up or down, with controls predominantly set in gullies or on watercourses where the mossies were gathering and it was rare to not be either within sight or earshot of another team.

Back out onto some roads briefly and I was struggling with the heat, humidity and my stomach. There were no shops indicated in the area but I didn’t think I Was going to be much good unless I could get something to eat soon – I was craving salty chips. So we took a slight detour to the local hospital and picked up some chips and soft drink (didn’t really need the drink…) and stumbled across another team enjoying the air conditioned cafe.

 

We didn’t stay long and pushed on still finishing off our drinks. Back down into the bush again on wider, easier trails this time. Still all hills though and after collecting a couple more controls and seeing yet another loooong hill, we were passed by another team who informed us that the hill formed part of the Blackbutt Parkrun – yikes, we’ve only been to flat parkruns, this one would be hard! The first hill was followed shortly after by another, steeper hill to take us up and out of the park and spit us back into the heat of the streets for the remainder of the event.

The chips had worked some magic, and we had refilled our hydration packs while in the park – me with some caffeinated tailwind, yeehaa!! We found ourselves able to start jogging parts of the course and making ground on several other teams in the area. The roads were still steep though, so running was saved for the flat or gentle downhills – walking on uphills and anything steep. We managed to do a decent clip this way and after several quite busy controls we took stock and realised we were well ahead of schedule. We updated our route to add in several more controls (and hills!) and continued on.

We then hit a long stretch between controls and it was all uphill… I think it was just over 1km of steady up, the body was unimpressed at this point and my calves started giving the occasional jab. My knees were feeling a bit wobbly after a bit too much downhill running, but otherwise I felt good. The tailwind was brilliant to keep me going and we paused briefly at the control once we got to the top of the hill – although the control itself was slightly down again with the description being “a gully”. We were seeing fewer other teams around at this point with around an hour to go and several kilometres ahead of us still.

With two controls to go, there were other teams all over the place picking up some final points before finishing up. We made it in with 10 minutes to spare – perfect! We had planned an appropriate route and were able to add on some extras when we realised we were ahead of where we expected. In the end we covered over 26km in just under 6 hours and picked up 1690 points (out of a total 3310 available). A quick check of the scoreboard showed the highest score that had been logged was 2800 with most under 1500, however we had not been added yet and we knew the majority of high scoring teams would probably be cutting it fine and coming in close to the buzzer.

Final control!

We had to get going though, so made our way back to the car to stretch, get changed and head of in search of a servo for some food and drink. We heard the final siren just before we got going and could see some of the last teams charging to the finish to reduce any point loss. I did some quick sums in the car while Nick drove, my guess was we would be around 1/3 of the way through the overall standings, while Nick was more pessimistic and thought we would be in the bottom half overall.

Despite stretching before we left, we had over an hours driving ahead of us and by the time we stopped our feet and legs were feeling a bit tender. Nick had some sunburn and I discovered some nasty chafing. Overall we felt tired, but generally pretty good. We had walked for most of the day which helped, although our running shoes are definitely not the best walking shoes. One day later, and my glutes are really the only thing giving me grief, seizing up whenever I sit at my desk for more than 10 minutes (ie all the time).  We both got a little much sun, but nothing too bad.

Elevation profile – so many hills!

So how did we go? Results were out quickly and our 1690 points gave us an overall standing of 34 out of a total 90 teams. The highest scoring team collected 3170 points! Within the Mixed category we placed 21 out of 52 teams and in Mixed Veterans we were 13 out of 23. We’re pretty happy with that effort. We covered 26.5km and strava gave us 750m elevation for our route – no wonder we were feeling it!  Another awesome rogaine – and the final one for the year.