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.

NSW Orienteering Sprint Champs

The orienteering NSW Sprint Champs! A very different event to what we are used to where you just turn up and run whenever you feel like it. We had to pre-register for this one, choosing which difficulty level we wanted to do and this, combined with our age, would put us in a specific competition category. There were three different “Hard” categories of varying distances, but controls would be located in a way to provide a challenge on every leg on each. Hard 1 was only for the youngest and fittest male competitors (very sexist), Hard 2 was for most men and the start of the women’s classes, while Hard 3 was for the more senior age groups and for those that wanted a slightly shorter but still challenging course. Nick and I both entered the Hard 2 course – the most difficult/longest we could.

There were also a Moderate, Easy, Very Easy and Wheelchair course along with a String course for the little kids and a maze challenge. We had been assigned set start times – they were 40 minutes apart, they must know we have to keep an eye on kids so can’t be running at the same time. Nick had the first start time at 10:17am and as we pulled up to the venue (a school) we could see tents and flags set up along the oval. We parked on the street near an entrance gate which turned out to be very close to where we were headed – very convenient with two girls in tow.

We wandered up to the main oval where everyone seemed to be gathered. There was a large inflatable finish arch, a control set up in the far corner of the oval which forced most runners to do a “spectator leg” and the loud speaker system set up to provide commentary. We passed a small sign with “Start” written on it and an arrow pointing down the hill away from everything else, but couldn’t see where it led. So we checked out everything in the main area before finding someone to ask how the whole thing worked and what we had to do – this was on a much bigger scale than we usually see. not long until Nicks start time, so we made a pit stop and followed the start sign to find ourselves at the start corral.

There were two clocks set up, the first 3 minutes ahead and when your time showed up on it you made your way to the starting area to get checked in. Then it was a step forward at each minute – two minutes to go you could pick up a control list. 1 minute to go and you picked up your map (but no peeking!) and waited for the countdown as you are given final instructions which are just a repeat of things already mentioned – don’t cross the flower beds, olive colour on the map is out of bounds – then BUZZZZZZ – and you’re off. Two runners head off at the same time, but each running on different courses so there can be no following.

It was an unusual start to an event, since no one has looked at a map at the start, you don’t even know which direction to start heading in. Look at the map, make sure you are on the right side of it, find the start, find the first control, pick a route and only then do you start moving with any sort of purpose. Nick was off, so the girls and I headed back to the main area to have something to eat and look out to see when he would make the run across the oval to the spectator control. It seemed to come around very quickly, with his name called out over the loud speaker giving a time and current standing, time behind/ahead of other competitors in his class.

We finished our snacks, had a quick chat with my uncle – who had just finished running the Hard 3 course – and before we knew it Nick was finished in around 23 minutes! We had both been expecting the course to take closer to 30 minutes, so this was a surprise and a nice indication to me that the course wouldn’t be as long as we had feared. Unlike most courses where you already have a map and can compare course notes, the only “advice” Nick could offer up was that the start was “hard”. Which is what my uncle had already let me know and didn’t offer anything in the way of guidance – just as it should be. Although I think he did say there were a lot more stairs than he expected.

Event photo of Nick running around the side of the oval – ha has air!

Not long and it was time to head down for my turn. The start area was thinning out a bit now with only one runner starting in the group ahead of me and no other runner starting with me. I nervously waited my last couple of minutes in the corral, picked up my map, listened to the final instructions and then I was off! Well, I wandered off looking at my map – upside down, then the wrong side, then struggled to find the start location (got it) then had to find the next control – the only leg that wasn’t drawn asa straight line on the map! Then tossing up which way to go, dammit, stop wasting time, pick a line and just get moving – so off I went. Despite the dithering, once I got going the first control was an easy one as was the next. My Garmin buzzed – huh? There’s no way I’ve already done a kilometre. Nope, I’d forgotten to start it and it was threatening to turn off. Great, get the Garmin going, better late than never.

I made my way to the third control and it wasn’t where I expected. Was I in the right building? Had I somehow gone straight past it, or not gone far enough. I wandered a bit further, back again, off to each side, but I couldn’t see it. That was it, I saw another control and thought if it was on my map then I could confirm my location and work backwards. Yep – this control was on the second side of my map and had me exactly where I thought I was. I headed back again – aha! It was tucked away just inside the building stairwell, if I had looked over my shoulder just a smidge further when I first stopped I would have saved nearly two minutes! Can’t dwell on mistakes though or I’ll bomb the whole thing, move on and just keep running. Controls 4, 5, 6 and 7 passed by and I started getting in the swing of things. Quick decision to be made about route choice from 7 to 8, up dozens of stairs, then down some into the middle of a small amphitheatre.

My event photo – I smiled, but it doesn’t look like I’m doing much.

Back up and out of the mess of buildings and into the open for the longer legs across ovals. This was easier and I could just run without having to glance at the map every 2 seconds. Straight across the large oval, up a road and then back in for the spectator leg. The runner before me was announced, but as I ran across, nothing was said – wow, I must be doing badly! A glance at my Garmin showed I was doing sub-6 minute pace which I was happy with. Picked up the control and turned to make my way back out of the main area, two more controls, a run back past the start area and time to flip the map to the second side!

I’m in there somewhere!

First control on this side was all the way up to the top of the ridge and back down the other side – so many stairs. Then another longish leg to control 15 that had me winding my way up stairs and around buildings. A quick dash out to 16, split decision as to which way to head for 17 as two speedier runners behind me caught up and headed the opposite way I did. One beat me there but then took longer getting to the next one – then it was up more stairs and the both passed me. Finally, the end was in sight. One more control, smile for the photographer as I run past and on up through the finish arch. Done.

My final time was 27:59 and as the final competitor in my age group put me in fourth place.  There were only five in my category, but shhh, no one needs to know that!  I was less than one minute off third place and fifth place was just under a minute after me – so it was all pretty close.  Other than when I thought I was completely lost at control 3, I had so much fun doing this event.  I started slowly, but by the second half of the event I was picking up a lot – only one of my legs between controls in the second half wasn’t a top 3 effort, I even had one that I was fastest for.

While I ran, Nick had taken the girls off to do the string course which they loved.  On bumping into my uncle again after my run, he asked how the girls went on their course at which my youngest declared “We won!”.  She was terribly proud of it.  So I asked my uncle if he won too – and he did, first in his age category!  Got to be some good genes in there with my uncle still running well at 80.

Summer Series – Belrose

A bit warmer than recent weeks but the wind kept the heat off, although the headwind was a bit rough at times. There was no apparent design to the way the points had been scattered across the map, with high and low points placed all over. A lot of the points were “in and out” options, positioned in dead end streets or trails, making it trickier to piece together a smooth route.

With almost identical plans in place, Nick and I headed off at the same time for the first in and out 30 pointer. As usual, the first kilometre or so was a struggle and only a couple hundred metres in my breathing was rough – no idea what my pace was, but probably too fast as I struggled to keep Nick in sight.

The controls were fairly easy to spot, so there was little stopping to search anywhere, but I slowed to a walk on the short hills. A decent bit of bush track which we covered half of. I felt almost on my own out here, there was a young teenager out getting a bit lost on the map, but he had the advantage of speed on me – after tagging a few controls ahead of him we parted ways as we chased different controls. My brain was in gear at least and tracking my location was easy, not so good for one guy I passed looking a little confused on the trails who I ended up passing again later on as he flew straight past another control.

Unknowingly, Nick had me in sight from my third control (his fourth) and was able to conveniently follow me around the course for the next eight controls!! He gained on me almost every step of the way, but never quite caught up as we then headed in different directions. I had a long but easy run ahead of me still, I had planned for avoiding hills this week and luckily the map allowed for it. The final section of the map was a constant debate working out which controls to get in the time remaining to ensure I made it back under the 45 minutes.

I grabbed the high scoring controls, but made the (wrong) decision to leave a 10 pointer out as I was worried about time. In the end, despite some walking, I was back with nearly two minutes to spare and could have picked it up. I was reasonably happy with my effort – the course required a lot of distance for the points, with many in and outs and a couple of big hills (which I avoided) to get many of them.

I finished with 320 points in just over 43 minutes and covered spot on 6km. Nick picked up 360 points, having picked up the extra 30 pointer near the start and the 10 pointer I had left out. Other than those, the only difference in our routes was an extra 30 pointer we each picked up – mine left me with an optional 30 pointer near the end which could be added on if time permitted, while Nick finished with 4 minutes to spare but no extra controls to add on.

My legs were tired at the end, I had pushed them a bit this week, but my pace is definitely picking up – it’s nice to see some improvement. The most obvious sign to me is how long it took Nick to catch up.. I still managed to come last in my age group, however since there were only 3 of us in it this week and the other two are very strong, I expected nothing else.

For those following the map, my route was 27-4-24-14-3-23-13-12-5-16-17-30-19-29-18.

More Events!

Most of the orienteering we do can be entered on the day of the event.  You turn up, pay your money and run.  If you don’t feel up to it on the day, the weather is complete crap or the kids are sick, then you don’t turn up and nothing is lost.  So it was a bit unusual this week to enter TWO events in advance.

First up is this weekend – the Bandaged Bear Boost.  This is an orienteering Sprint event that also happens to be the NSW state championships in combination with a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.  There are multiple different courses available and we’ve decided to go all out and entered the Championship event.  I’m sure it will be a lot tougher than the sprint events we have done so far, but that’s half the fun.

At the other end of the spectrum, this morning I signed us up to the final rogaine for the year up near Newcastle.  Calling itself the “Huntergaine“, it is on the weekend after the sprint and is a 6 hour “social” rogaine.  This one will be similar to the metro events as there will be a considerable amount of road navigation along with some bush sections.  The convenience of shops for extra food or drink is always a nice bonus.  I’m really looking forward to this!

In the meantime, we have another Summer Series taking place this evening (first time this season I get to run in a location I’ve done before).  And another Summer Series only a couple of suburbs away next week as well.  I’ve only managed one non-orienteering run in the past couple of weeks, but hopefully I can slip in a couple more to build up my consistency.  My goal for Summer Series tonight is to see if I can cover more distance than I did last time – I managed 5.6km last February, so it may be a tough call.

Summer Series – Up and Down in Woolwich

Another hilly week by the water for this weeks Summer Series out at Woolwich. More cool weather, which has been fantastic for running, but with brilliant blue skies made for a very picturesque evening looking out over the harbour – if only we had more time to look at it! No easy path to take on this weeks map, so we pieced together a route, slightly different ways of putting the pieces together but basically following a similar path with Nick adding a few extra points on the end than I expected to pick up. The map covered most of the point which is basically a ridge line with steep hills to the water on either side.

The girls went in search of a playground (with grandparents in tow), Nick headed off a few minutes early while I chatted and waited for my gps to pick up a signal. A short walk to the start, I eyed the location of the first control and headed off. An easy first pick before heading into the network of trails in Kelly’s Bush – a chance comment before starting out had warned me of the potential confusion that lay within this area – so I kept it simple for the start. Darting in and up some stone steps I landed quickly on control 16. Down some more well worn steps and across to the paved path down to the water and the control sitting on the end of the sculpture.

It was a gorgeous location down by the water, with yachts moored nearby and the Harbour Bridge in the background. I had foolishly forgotten to take my phone out of my pocket before starting, and was carrying it with me. A perfect photo opportunity, but there was a gaggle of school kids also doing the course that were right on my heels that I didn’t think would appreciate being part of my picture. So I left them to it and headed back up into the scrub to the next control.

My route then popped me back onto the roads again and up a short bit of hill to a control midway up some stairs before having an easy run along flat roads to the next control before heading back downhill again. It was a beautiful area to be running through, with gorgeous old stone houses aplenty and jacarandas in full flower against the clear blue sky. Many of the roads followed the contours which made for a surprising amount of fast, level running, while the hills on either side slowed things right down being difficult to run comfortably either up or down on some.

Down through some long grass (probably should have stayed on the road there!) and spotted Nick with us both landing on the control at the same time, coming at it from either side. This made it easy for me, as I knew we had the same route planned for the next several controls. I was a bit slower than him this week, but kept him in sight for the next five controls before we both headed in different directions to pick up a control the other had already grabbed.

Time was starting to get away and I knew I needed to head back, but it still looked like I should get back in time with my planned route. I hadn’t expected to be running as well I was – I’d had head cold for a few days that was affecting my breathing – but when I got the chance to check my watch on a flat running section, it was showing sub 6 min/km pace. Past the playground my girls were playing at and a quick wave before the next control. And this is where I made my mistake. I thought there should be a “quicker” way through the dense scrub to where I wanted to go, but a few minutes meandering around, a branch across my eye, several scratching my legs, I was out to where I would have been in just one minute if I’d followed the longer, but clear, route.

I still had time, but couldn’t find the trail entry into the bush again and ended up far too low. I headed up the trail, picked up control 8(!) and headed up some more to see if I could quickly get 20 as well. A check of my watch and I realised if I wanted to get back before time I had to pick up the pace and get straight back. So I turned around and pushed on out of the bush tracks towards the finish line. A headwind and less than 30 seconds on the clock were not doing me any favours. It felt like I was pushing through jelly, my Garmin showed 44min and 52sec… 53. 54. 55. 56. so close… 57. I fumbled to get my stick in the finish control. Did I make it under 45 minutes? I think so, but it was too close to call, I would only know once I made it over to get my results on the computer.

I headed over and – yes! I had made it with 2 seconds to spare. Admittedly, I might have scored higher had I picked up control 20 and only been one minute later, but I hadn’t been prepared to take the risk (plus I’m really trying to be back within time this year). A final score of 310, not amazing, but not too bad either. I covered 5.7km and according to Strava took in 160 metres of elevation.

Running over our different paths later that evening, there were a couple of things we might have done differently, but overall I was satisfied with my results. I’m running better (very surprising given my head cold) and we’re paying more attention to our route choices. Nick picked up an additional 80 points over me, but also had a 3 minute time penalty, so was 50 points up for an additional kilometre of distance. For those wondering where on the map I went, my route was – 7-16-17-29-15-9-14-25-19-27-28-4-26-11-8. Without the mix up around 11, I should have had time to pick up 20 and also 1 on my way back in. A decent run again this week, especially with the elevation involved. My quads and glutes were feeling the workout and needed a good stretch but pulled up well the next day – the interval and hill work I have been trying to make a regular habit this year would appear to be starting to pay off!

Summer Series South Turramurra

We were in for a surprise with this weeks map at South Turramurra. At the sign up desk the notifications let us know this would be a high scoring course and it certainly looked that way. All the 30 pointers were clustered in the centre of the map with very little change in elevation involved. It looked like an easy pick up even for those walking the course. The 20 pointers were distributed in the next “ring”, but still on roads and with a little more elevation involved but nothing like the past couple of weeks. The 10 pointers were then tossed in the outer ring of the map and mostly out on the bush tracks involving a good amount of elevation. So high scores should be on the cards, but it looked pretty challenging for the top scorers to be able to string together all the controls in the allowed time.

Nick and I planned similar routes, stringing together all the 30 pointers – I had thought about dropping one, but Nick convinced me to add it in – and most of the 20 pointers as well. I guessed my route at around 5.5km while Nick estimated his at 6.5km – a good bit more than we had managed at an event so far this year, but we were hoping the lack of elevation would let us get there. I still had a plan to be able to head back early if I started running low on time.

Time to head off and we set off together, not a good start as we dropped down off the corner of the oval to pick up control 27 and didn’t see it. We ended up making our way to pick up 28 first, then 29. Our pace was fast! Checking my garmin it showed 6min/km pace or quicker, if I kept this up I would crash pretty quickly. So I let Nick pull away and tried to settle into a more sustainable pace. Control 21 was down a short trail between houses, and with plenty of people heading for it, there was no problem finding the flag.

Back up and out onto the road again for a 500m loop out to control 22, again, flat and fast. Control 23 was an easy grab, then slight backtrack to start heading down a hill (faster) and onto the fire trails that surround the suburb. I got a little mixed up here and misjudged distances. I stopped at the trail intersection I though control 3 should be at, but couldn’t see it. No point wasting time here though on a 10 pointer, so on I went. Not much further and I spotted control 14 a little way up a minor trail, then it was back to the roads and up the gentle hill towards control 12.

Hindsight being what it is, I should have done the out and back for control 15 here, but I decided to stick to my plan and keep moving, picking up controls 24 and 17. This is where I saw Nick again, the only difference in our routes to this point was that he picked up control 15 while I didn’t, so my pace was still surprisingly fast – Nick would usually be far ahead by now! I kept moving, trying to see how long I could stay ahead of him, but was overtaken just before we reached control 25 – that hill had been a bit steep.

I could just slip in behind him now and follow to control 30. He turned and headed off for 26, while I did a quick check to see if I could grab 27 first, but the dog park was solidly fenced off, so I turned back and headed for 26 as well. Some more gentle hills, moving comfortably still and keeping Nick in sight, I picked up 18 then 19 while he headed farther afield for more points. I stuck to the plan and headed for control 20 while my stomach started cramping again. I slowed to a walk for a little, it settled and I picked up the pace again.

I knew I was making it back with plenty of time to spare so it was getting difficult to convince my legs to put in some effort. I came upon another person looking for control 20 – they were expecting it in plain sight, but it was on the far side of the transformer box from where they had approached. Then a quick trot up the trail to control 27, scaring some bunnies along the way, up onto the oval and getting control 7 on the far side and on to the finish. Wow – 4 mintues to spare, 5.9km covered and a respectable 430 points picked up. Nick came in 3 minutes later having picked up an additional 50 points and covering 6.9km.

It was a very satisfying run this week and I felt great afterwards. I had settled quickly into a good pace on the roads and my legs felt really strong and I didn’t feel like I had overdone it. I averaged a sub-7min/km pace, which is a very quick (for me) orienteering pace. This was definitely a feel-good week after a rough one last week – just what I needed!