Great Nosh Footrace 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race Day!

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

For reference, times from the last two years:

2015 (15.7km):

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

2016 (16.5km):

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

Cronulla Rogaine 2017

I’ll start by saying this was by far the least enjoyable rogaine I’ve done to date.  This had absolutely nothing to do with the rogaine itself and everything to do with me.  The weather was perfect – clear, sunny blue skies and very warm.  The course was interesting and varied with plenty of options for route choice.

So what went wrong?  I had a low grade cold for a few weeks leading up to the event culminating in two days of high fevers 5 days before.  I only ran twice in these three weeks, so I was feeling pretty run down.  This also kicked off my seasonal asthma, so everything was a bit of a struggle physically.  But I woke up Sunday morning feeling good and ready to get going again.  Then the babysitter didn’t show up.  Luckily, we plan to arrive in plenty of time, so by the time we got hold of her and she made it over we still had enough time to drive to Cronulla (traffic worked in our favour!) and some planning time.  This placed a bit of stress on us though and we ended up forgetting our pre race munchies of hot cross buns and bananas – BIG mistake.

The individual competitors started off at 10am with the teams trailing after from 10:15.  This worked really well to split up the pack and meant the early controls weren’t overcrowded and we experienced zero queueing at controls the entire event – amazing!  We jogged along as we made our way around Cronulla point – beautiful part of the world with some amazing water views and small, sandy beaches.  The fast teams were all ahead of us, the walkers behind, we were collecting points as planned and keeping an easy pace.  Then I hit the wall.  Completely and utterly.  Only 45 minutes in.  This was not good.

I was exhausted, depleted and had no energy to walk anything more than a very gentle pace.  Grabbed a Powerade at the first shops we passed as planned, carried it to the next control and then walked another 5 minutes before finding a spot in the shade to sit and drink it.  My coordination was failing me and I hadn’t been able to walk and drink, my legs were too tired to even stand.  We decided to continue on, even if it meant walking the whole rest of the way.

I continued to struggle through the next couple of controls.  We grabbed some chips at the next shops we went through.  The following half hour was awful.  My mind sunk as my body refused to play.  We shuffled along, there were many pauses.  I doubted my ability to run, I was convinced I should just give up my ambitions to run any sort of distances.  That I was stupid to think I could possibly run a half marathon at the end of the year, that maybe I should just give up running altogether, I obviously wasn’t cut out for it.

I very, very slowly started feeling a bit better, still only up for walking though.  We had dropped off a couple of sections we had planned to get when we thought we would be able to run most of the way.  45 minutes to go, we stopped to reassess.  I was still tired, my legs were aching so we sat down – and were promptly scolded by another pair of rogainers passing by, you don’t get points sitting down!

Plan made, we walked on, pushing a little more now.  My legs were hurting, I had blisters forming on the inside of both heels and was till pretty unhappy but had pulled my self out of the doom and gloom of earlier.  With just under twenty minutes to go, we realised we would probably have to pick up the pace a little to get done what we wanted, so I tested the legs out.  It actually felt ok!  So from there we did an easy jog on flats and downhills while walking on the uphills.  With about one kilometre to go, we realised we were going to have to really push things to make it back in time.  Uh oh…

Up the final hill and about 600 metres to go and less than 3 minutes to go.  All downhill and we ran and ran.  6min/km pace, then 5min/km pace then faster still and we were in!  40 seconds over time so we would lose 10 points, but we were certainly not the last ones in.

An interesting postscript to the event – we failed to register at one of the checkpoints.  It seems that only one of us was recorded as being there.  I queried it, was told basically it was bad luck and move on.  No big deal, we’re not competitive.  Shortly after that, a follow up email said there had been more than one query on this particular control and we should challenge it.  End result – it seems the control was tampered with and while it worked perfectly for most people, there were several that didn’t, so we got the points.  Bumping us up a decent number of positions.

End results:

  • Score: 1010 points
  • Distance: 16km
  • Overall team position: 25/95
  • Mixed teams: 12/59
  • Mixed veterans: 5/19

In the end it was a surprisingly good result for what felt like a completely rotten event.

Summer Series – Curl Curl

It was hot, it was humid, as usual we were rushed despite being on holidays. At least I had remembered everything – until the minute before starting I realised I had forgotten the Garmin!  Dammit – this completely threw me off, it helps me plan, lets me keep an eye on pace and make sure I don’t head out too hard, plus I love doing the post run review of distance, elevation, timings.  I had my step counter, so at least I knew the time and could try and make sure I was back on time.

Our plan was made, alternate finishes plotted out depending on time left and off we went.  Nice and steady for the first several controls, a guy just in front of me set a steady pace that worked for me until we split off after 4 controls.  Then, for me, it was up, up, up the hill.  I saw Nick at an odd location, but thought no more of it – he should have been well ahead of me still.  I continued up the hill and then the long slog to the next control out near the coastline. Overshot the next control – misread the description – and probably lost about 2 minutes here as I headed down, then back up, about 15m.  Some downhill next to push and try to make up the time I lost, replotting my course as I went, knowing at this point I was probably going to be late back.  Nick swung past me as we hit the flat again having taken a different, longer and higher scoring route.  Close to the end and I tried to push, but I was all out of puff.  Made it back 3:30 over time for a 40 point penalty on my already low score.  Not my best effort, but a good run for a hot day.

sss-curl-curl

Plotting my course later on Google Earth gave me 6.3km!  My longest Summer Series this season, including an extra 100m+ of elevation.  Nick covered 129m up and down, and my route looked a bit more than that.  No wonder I was tired.

sss-curl-curl-elevation

Post run review pointed out that I had forgotten to pick up a 30 point control before heading up the hill… This is why I caught up to Nick in the middle, it would have cost me maybe a minute to grab the control and even adding that minute to my late penalty it would have put me further ahead.  Ah well, better luck next time!

Of course, manually entering the run into Garmin/Strava has meant it doesn’t show accurately on anything, so it hasn’t been counted towards any of the sites that I link to.  Ah well, can only improve on things for 2017!

Wahroonga Rogaine – The Numbers

We moved house last week and had so many things go wrong or cause delays that it almost seemed we would never get there.  But we’re in and life is somewhat back to normal.

The timing wasn’t great for a rogaine, but being only a 15 minute drive from our new home, I knew we had to do it.  A 6 hour “Socialgaine”, we decided to limit ourselves to a 3-4 hour stint and just enjoy the day without trying to push things too hard after a long week.  Since this post is just going to stick to the numbers (next one will give a full run down of the day), I’ll get on with it.

Summary stats:

  • Distance: 19.6km
  • Time: 4:05:38
  • Elevation: 518m

We were the third team back in, with the vast majority of teams returning within 15 minutes of the 6 hour time limit.  As you can see by the elevation, there were some BIG climbs in there as we made our way from North Wahroonga down to Bobbin Head, up to North Turramurra and then back across to the starting point.

View from the second checkpoint

View from the second checkpoint

So given we used about two thirds of the time everyone else did, how did we go? Overall we came 72 out of a total 123 teams.  In the Mixed Open category we came 35 out of 70 – not too shabby!  If we take a look at those who came home early – we came 1st out of only 10 teams returning in under 5 hours; and we came 4th out of 24 teams returning in under 5hr 45min.

Pretty happy with those results, now to learn from what we did right and wrong on the day to put in some good efforts for next year when we enter the Veteran category!

Orienteering again

We’ve had a pretty good start to the summer orienteering season – in terms of attendance anyway.  Out of seven Summer Series events to date we have made it along to five of them.  This week it was at Sheldon Forest, a steep, narrow, forested area following a creek with the remainder on road.  In the middle of a very stressful week it was a good bet we weren’t going to beat any records, but a run out in the trees should have been good for our heads if nothing else.

After a screaming farewell from our girls (they did NOT want mummy to run today!) we were quickly out of sight – and apparently instant stop to all screaming as well as they headed off to a playground.  The trails were steep!  A normal Summer Series map is 1:10,000 or 1:7,500 with 4m or 5m contours.  This was a 1:7500 with 10m contours! We knew we were in for a lot of climbing.  The trails were rocky, steep, with lots and lots and lots of steps.  We started off mainly downhill knowing there was a long slow uphill slog on the way out of the trees and then slightly more level back on the roads.  It was still damn tough though!  The controls were mostly easy to find and as marked – although a few seemed to be a little out of place.

Nick and I headed our own way after the first few minutes, I couldn’t keep up the pace once we started going uphill more and he was quickly out of sight.  I made a big mistake at one point, thinking I was out of bounds and doubling back for a 3 minute (and 400m!) detour, when I had actually been probably only metres from the connecting trail.  I struggled and started doing far too much walking.  And road shoes really, really suck on technical single trail.  Then I needed to pee.  With no toilets in sight. Sigh.

Back on the roads things improved again.  I didn’t have a lot of time left, but I was running again and collecting controls nicely.  My road shoes were a definite advantage here.  I ended up with my course pretty much as planned, although none of the “extra” sections I had hoped for.  My score was pretty low, but the run helped my head, which really is the main thing, and there was a pretty decent amount of elevation involved.  No photos today.

The numbers:

  • Distance: 4.96km (so close!)
  • Elevation: 143m
  • Time: 44:18 (woohoo! still getting in under the 45min limit)
  • Effort: 6.4

A Tale of Two Runs

Run One

I woke up Sunday morning to find myself with no voice.  The cold that had been hanging around the past few days had gone in for the kill and I was miserable.  A couple of codral and a cup of tea had me feeling a bit better, but still unsure if I would run or not.  We got everything sorted and headed out for our orienteering event out at Lake Parramatta.  Nick would run first and there was bound to be a playground for me to entertain the girls while he ran and then I would see how I went.  The only option was a circuit of the lake, so it would be open for me to run and see what I could do or walk and aim to just get around in the allotted time.

My turn came and I set off, the usual warm up niggles, and then I hit my stride.  It was my ideal setting – single track trail full of twists and turns that make you pay attention to where you put your feet.  I was mindful not to push too hard, didn’t want to risk going over on the ankle again and I wasn’t sure how much “puff” I had in me.  I had put in some steep climbs in my planned route, and I reeled them in, feeling strong and hoping that the fire trails on the return side of the lake would be a bit less demanding.  I ran most of the time, walked up the hills and quick stepped down.  Not all the controls were quite where expected, but I found them all easily and made good time. I judged my timings and my route perfectly.  I made the full loop I planned (plus an extra 20 pointer) and was still running at the end as I clocked back in with less than 20 seconds to spare and a score of 450!  Finishing in second place (for my category) by 10 points with a series score of 98. One of my most enjoyable runs in a long time!

Run Two

Oh boy!  Wednesday Summer Series in Lane Cove, I was keen to check this one out.  Getting my gear ready in the morning to put in the car, I nearly forgot my shoes.  I finally made it after work a little later than hoped and walked up to the oval with shoes and socks in hand to put on when I got there.  Put sunscreen on, forgetting to take my makeup off first (lucky I don’t wear much!).  I forgot my Garmin.  Nick and I were both feeling pretty under the weather and grumpy, so it took no convincing for Nick to run with me for the first time this season (I wanted to get the route of his Garmin at the end!).  We made a plan, with lots of options towards the end depending on how we were going for time.

Started off ok, tough getting going and we knew there were plenty of hills, but made what felt like a good pace and I was able to keep moving on most of the hills.  That first half took a loooong time though, a lot more than we had hoped.  There was much negotiation over the final part of our run and I think we made every wrong decision we could.  Cut straight to 19 and along the creek back to the start – nah, lets go long.  Skip 3 and go straight to 28 – an 8 minute gap between controls! Go for 30, the extra time will be worth the points – it really, really wasn’t.  By the time we finished, we were both grumpy and tired, to find we were 6 minutes over time for a paltry score of 270.

Reviewing the course, we made the call that no one would manage the 600 points within the 45 minute time limit – at least we were right on that!  I made a throw away comment, that I would probably do ok within my category, not great, but 60+ points IF rogaining superstar Gill Fowler didn’t make a showing.  Which of course she did for the first time this season.  Beating the rest of the pack by 100 points and pushing my weeks contribution down from a 64 to a 51.  It was a miserable run and I didn’t feel at all energised afterwards.  At least there was one compensation – I had an amazing nights sleep afterwards!

Sydney Turkey Trot Race Recap

We didn’t come last – mission accomplished!  And while our time was longer than last year, so was the distance we covered.  Our average pace was quicker, so I can’t complain too much.

On to the event itself.  Started off on the wrong foot when I realised I was out of jelly beans!  My only tried and tested fueling for running and definitely required for this event. Quick stop at a petrol station and I had to make do with whatever I could find – ended up with some fruit chews of some sort.  Individually wrapped so I could just put a handful in my pocket and hopefully they wouldn’t make a mess everywhere.

Dropped my car off near the finish and we both headed off to the start location in Baulkham Hills.  We were pretty early, but a good number of people were already there with more turning up right up to start time.  The long event runners headed off at 9:00 and we headed over to the start area to pick up our first maps and wait for it to begin at 9:15.  The idea of this race, as with many orienteering events, is that you don’t look at the map until your time starts.  But with most of the field already studying and planning their route we didn’t see why we should be the only ones left out!

Map 1

Map 1

A quick countdown from the starters phone and we were all off.  The rest of the field quickly pulled away from us – it was fast!  Only one checkpoint in the first kilometre and we clocked a speedy sub 6 minutes.  Way too fast, but we were already being left behind with only one or two other runners still in sight.  It had felt a fairly easy run at the pace, but it was early days yet with approximately another 11km to go.

Through a small network of overgrown bush tracks for the next point and then on to what would feature for a large part of the event – smooth, paved bike paths through peaceful parkland.  The gentle slopes made for easy running (and walking) and the majority of the controls were easy to find.  Up over a hill on some roads, then down to another parkland following a creek bed.  Under some major roads, a few short hills, a bit of backtracking and we were still moving well.

Map 2

Map 2

There was only one other person from our event in occasional sight at this point when all of a sudden we were being surrounded by the lead runners from the long event.  The two events overlapped for a short time before we found ourselves at the water drop where we also picked up our third and final map.  At this point we had covered close to 9km and I was looking forward to a short run to the finish.  No such luck – this map listed the distance as just under 5km!  Nothing to be done but to keep going.

More roads, I planned a zig-zag route through the streets ignoring contours – oops!  Took us over a hill, not the best idea, but at least it wasn’t too big and we had some fast downhill on the other side.  Again crossing paths with runners from the long event, and stopping to remove some bark from inside my shoe.  Onwards and more roads with runners going in all different directions as we all headed closer and closer to the finish line.

Map 3

Map 3

An hour and a half in and we hit the most technical, single track of the whole thing to find the next control at a creek crossing.  Started seeing a lot more people now as this area was covered in the short courses which all started and ended at the finish location.  Four more controls to go and we were in the final bit of bush.  A tangled network of tracks to find our way through, multiple other orienteers to dodge and controls everywhere as we tried to keep some speed up.  Into the finish area – but where was the flag?!  Everyone was milling around for presentations while we scanned the area looking for that final point to beep into.  Ah – there it is, behind everyone!

Not last.  A few more long coursers still to come in, a final medium course runner and plenty of people still out on the shorter courses.  While our time was slower than last year, there was more than an extra kilometre on the length we ran.  Our overall pace was 20 seconds per kilometre quicker and moving pace was almost a minute better.  Which just shows that I needed too many stops this year.

Again, the first 8km I stuck to my goal of 8km/hr average.  The next 2km weren’t too far off and then it started creeping up a little more.  I still had a good bit of running left in me at the end though, unlike last year where my energy levels crashed after 8km and by 12km I was dragging myself along.  A good greasy lunch before heading home refueled us enough so we could still entertain the girls when we got home.  While tired, I felt good at the end and my recovery wasn’t too bad.  My calves and quads gave a few twinges over the next couple of days, but otherwise I’ve just been a bit tired.

Now just to hope I’ve got enough in the tank to follow it up with the NOSH Footrace on Sunday!

Stats for the Turkey Trot:

  • Distance: 13.5km
  • Time: 1:48:48 (moving time 1:38)
  • Elevation: 114m
  • Average Pace: 8:05min/km (moving pace 7:17min/km)  last years pace was 8:24min/km

 

Today

Today is the Sydney Turkey Trot which is listed in my goals.  We ran the medium course last year – an approximately 12km straight line orienteering course.  Last year my aim had been to stick to about a 7:30/km pace which we managed pretty much bang on for the first 8km.  After that first hour though, I didn’t have anything more and it took close to 45 minutes for the last 4km.

This year the aim is to stick to the 7:30/km pace for the whole thing – possibly a little optimistic at this point, but let’s see what happens!

A couple of days ago, there were less than 50 entries overall and only 3 in the womens medium course – basically a guarantee of a placing.  Checking now though, there are over 75 entries with six entries in the womens medium course.  Oh well, maybe another time.

I’m really looking forward to running tomorrow.  I’m not getting to run anywhere near as regularly as I would like over winter, but at least the runs I am doing are longer than what I usually manage.

Saturday Results

Turns out we didn’t do quite as badly as we first thought.  We compared to previous Saturday events and this one was a lot longer overall, with most people taking over an hour to complete the same course we did – other events were closer to half an hour.

With numbers seeming well down on average, probably due to the rain, we came 12th/13th out of 20 who took part in the same course.  Quickest on course was under 50 minutes while a couple took over two hours and a couple mispunched – very easy to do here.

In hindsight, this was a really good course.  There was a lot of running across the entire map, the trails were mostly clear with the controls set out partly in full view, partly hidden – enough that you had to pay really close attention to the map, anyway.  I’ve pulled up well, my legs know they worked but still feel strong.  My ankle is sore from when I went over it, but I can walk comfortably enough.

On to the next challenge!