Don’t Lose Touch.

Picking off from last post, Yarra Ranges Athletics hosted an Cross Country Open Day at equestrian Wandin Park. Now, as a runner who learnt his chops from the road fun-run scene it’s always an interesting experience when thrown in the deep end with different terrains as cross country does. While the terrain is not as challenging or technical, the element of speed is always a difficult factor, and I recall blazing my first two kilometers in 8 minutes leading to a blow out climbing a hill on the 4th kilometer.  Clearly, such lessons were eluding to be learnt.


In action at Wandin Park Cross Country. Note the untied shoelace.

The next week Athletics Victoria hosted the 15km road race looping around Lake Wendouree, Ballarat. Having learnt my lesson from the previous races and around a high calibre of runners from around the state athletics scene, I decided to this time start from the back of the pack, and work my way into the race that suited my racing style. After the tame and congested start, I worked into my style running on the road parallel to the famous Steve Monaghetti Track that circles the lake, finishing with a time of 1:08:14 to a average race pace of 4:37/km.

It’s an interesting experience racing as an ‘outsider’, in that as an observer to the camraderie and team mentality that goes into a cross country event and the support within teams for what is essentially an individualised sport. At this point time I’ve contemplated with the idea of joining an athletics club, though I suspect my reluctance has something to do with the perceived gap in talent and ability even though those kind of barriers exist when entering any sporting club on any level when in reality most would be quite welcoming and excited for new members.

On the parkrun front it had been a period of consitent times for me. My parkrun home of Lillydale Lake had it’s first anniversary and to top it off I was given the honour of being named parkrunner of the month for May. The day’s theme was ‘Ties & Tiaras’, which gave me an excuse to dust off the tuxedo from Halloween in New York.  I was able in later weeks to hit a PB for Lillydale Lake and for the year with a 20:29, my fastest 5km time in nearly a year and a half. Some parkrun tourism was also done around Jells Park and Coburg with sub 22min runs. It was encouraging and a sign was getting back to my best.

Accepting my award for parkrunner of the month. It’s like I preemptively knew what to wear for such an occasion.

Surf Coast Trail Half was a race I had pencilled in at the start of the race, and as you may have seen earlier I was battling some knee issues throughout the year. Nothing too painful, just something I minded throughout the course of the year and had to manage. Given this was a trail run I had to be mindful that this wasn’t going to be like a flat road race and be able to run the pace I would normally especially with stretches of sand and lot of  uphill sections – I employed a race tactic to make a note of where the uphill sections were by writing on my hand (though when I spent sections tired and walking, all this did was

I’d expected my left leg in some shape or form to feel sore or difficult at some point of the race so ou can imagine my surprise and dismay when my RIGHT foot decided to cramp up after a stretch of sand running going up some hills. Trail running seems to be something of an Achilles heel for me because of the dynamic nature that the terrain can have (especially running on sand) it was a lot tougher on my body than I am used to. Ultimately I pulled through to finish in 2:19, not a great time for me but a good challenge nonetheless.

Surf Coast Half Marathon

Spoils of a great day.

Surf Coast Half Marathon

The stunning scenery we got to run through.

Now I’d like to take a brief moment to deviate in explaining the naming convention for my infrequent blog posts is that each blog. Each post title appropriately sums up the feelings of the time just gone and in relation to running, but also to a song in my personal collection. As is the case in this awesome song from Against Me!:

Which brings me to how and why I’ve been so negligent when it comes to writing this blog.  You see, with Surf Coast Trail Half done and dusted it was time to fully hit my straps and start training specifically for the Melbourne Marathon. I had intended from the start of the year make 2015 the year I would run a new marathon PB, and I had this beautiful dream of doing so in front of all my friends and

Something happened at training though. Midway through the session I pulled out when a sharp pain in my foot flared up when I made impact. I knew better than to push on and make things worse, but the truth is the damage had all been done – I limped my way home to the station and after a few (stunted) runs, some scans and visits to the podiatrists my worst fears were confirmed.  I had a stress fracture in my left foot, and running the Melbourne Marathon wouldn’t be possible.

Gone. Done for the season. Scratched out. Crossed off.

Just like that.

I was a shattered man sitting in my podiatrist’s office, and remained a shattered man that first Sunday I sat at my computer desk with my left foot in a moon boot. It wasn’t a great 5 weeks, though the time gave me more time to focus on my TAFE studies and the like.

After many sessions in the gym with the odd occasion dip in the pool, I’ve been out the boot for a couple of weeks and out walking again. The emphasis until and during when my podiatrist gives me the all clear will be making my legs and core stronger and more durable.

And maybe with consistent training and recovery will come more consistent writing. Maybe.


Rollin’ and Tumblin

First, some post race analysis from Two Bays last month. Coming into it this time around, I knew what to expect and adjusted my pacing to the course accordingly – saving my energy climbing Arthur’s Seat and making gains for the rest of the course was my plan and amazingly I made the whole course without tripping and rolling over. Two Bays is a stunning course that runs from Dromana to Cape Schank across 28km, or Cape Schank to Dromana and back for the 56km ultramarathon, all along the Mornington Peninsula with a challenging trail course with lots of incline and decline.

For the most part it felt like I was running a strong race, not pushing it too much and managing myself on the inclines and declines. I felt that a course PB, or the very least another sub-3 hour finish was on the cards. My steady pace dissipated however once I crossed 22km, where my right calf had enough and refused to function properly, leaving me to hobble and walk the remaining 6km and with finishing in a time of 3:19. This was maybe to be expected having effectively one month of training after another month of recovering from New York City Marathon, little technical trail experience, and/or not enough long training milage in my legs. So time was the element working against me, despite taking a much more (comparatively) conservative approach to post marathon recovery (where in 2013 I was back running a week after Berlin Marathon, in Munich during my visit to Oktoberfest (yes my love of running only slightly eclipsed my love of beer)).

Looking back now it was a pretty good day for running, but at the time after finishing I was pretty despondent, having fallen away so hard at the later stages and especially feeling let down in front of my running club for what I felt was a poor performance. I even wondered if it was even any point in racing anymore (very dramatic, I know), but ultimately decided this one poor performance and I had time to make a lot of improvement.

Doing it tough at this year's Two Bays 28km

Doing it tough at this year’s Two Bays 28km

Touching base properly for the first time in 2015. I’ve laid down my plans for this year, and for the first time this year I’ll be running the Melbourne Marathon this year. Focusing on shorter races in the interim, starting with a Sri Chinmoy 10km race, followed by a return to Run for the Kids and the Great Train Race hoping to have made significant improvements with my form and technique and translating them into good times and better performances across the longer races and training runs.

I’ve got two major half marathons lined up in the first half of the year – the first one being the Geelong Half Marathon. I’ve heard this is a flat course and I entered mostly on impulse, but I’m looking forward to see if I can challenge my 2013 PB of 1:38. There’s a couple of weeks to go and a few other races I have lined up so it will be good experience for this year.

The next half marathon will be another trail race also in the Geelong region, the Surf Coast Trail Half Marathon – Great Ocean Road Half Marathon was an option but taking into consideration training and travel options The main challenge will be first of all terrain – being a trail race interspliced with sections of sand, stretching up to 4km. Secondly, a fairly minor one is distance in that Surf Coast Half is slightly longer at approximately 22.4km, which isn’t too much of an issue, considering that Two Bays is 28km and by then I’ll have already raced a standard-length half marathon.

While I’ve only been running for 3 and a half years, I’ve seen quite a lot of newcomers to both my running club and in general. A week ago I decided to undertake a Community Coaching 1 course, which I found very .  I’m taking in a long term view to build up before doing Level 2 Recreational Running Coaching, given that 30 hours of coaching are required and have a lot of my own running to focus on, but hopefully by the next year or so I can take the next step and be valuable to runners of all levels. This will be through my experiences both on and off the track, building on what knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained throughout my running and racing as well as through academic articles.

With the ultimate goal for the year to run a sub-3:20 at Melbourne Marathon this year, 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year in running – hopefully I can manage my body well and mitigate any injury that might arise.