Sunday, November 22, 2015

Moving forward

We are making some progress with Kikka, but it isn't always easy. She didn't get to parkrun last week and was without any good reason for not being there. She still isn't at the 'newly formed habit' phase, so it takes a much bigger effort. However, after another pep talk she made the effort to get to parkrun on Saturday, with faithful Yogi Bear by her side. Lou and Gregg also joined us to form Team Kikka for the morning. I am leading the 'Kikka challenge' due to her defaulting last week. However, this time around it was a draw, with Kikka making it to about the 3.5km mark around the same time as my jog back (with Lou) to run with her to the finish. We all made an improvement on our recent performances, with Lou really smashing her Gindy PB to finish in 19:03, oh so close to a sub 19. I managed a sub 24 - 23:43 and Kikka finished in 42:17 a 1:38 improvement on her run 2 weeks ago. Gregg is not a runner, but still managed a respectable 46:22 for his first ever 'park walk'. Kikka now has the challenge to get up a bit earlier next week so she can make it in time for Gunners parkrun.
Team Kikka and the faithful Yogi Bear
No sign of my purple patch yet, but things are moving in the right direction. Lou is in her own purple patch setting PBs in the Mt Ainslie run up, the Black Mountain run up, Gindy parkrun, as well as some pretty impressive running in the Triple Tri. I have managed a couple of 1km interval sessions in the last couple of weeks, trying to improve fitness and pace. The positive is that there have been no neural/muscle problems. Long runs are pretty slow and hills are harder work at the moment. But distance is back up to 19km, so hopefully pace and hills will improve with better fitness. Here's hoping Kikka easily cracks the 42:00 at Gunners next week.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Motivating Kikka

It's proving to be a slow painful comeback from the yellow patch. A good thing there is the distraction of 'motivating Kikka'. Back in 2013, Kikka started running and was part of my GCC team. She was awesome and made tremendous progress, including losing something like 30kg and improving her 5K time by 16 minutes! Unfortunately at the end of 2013 her wheels fell off and she was away for an extended period. Over the next 18 months she made the odd appearance at parkrun, but then it all stopped. Finally she is back and we are trying to get her focused and motivated. It is very hard as she has regained all the weight she lost and this is hard on her knees and back. So it is one step at a time. So far I have joined her for 2 parkruns at Gindy with her trusty furry friend 'Yogi Bear'. I power walked with her for the first one. We took it easy so she didn't end up super sore and disheartened. For her second one back she managed to power walk/jog and cut a couple of minutes off her previous time, yay! I ran and then jogged back to meet her and encourage her to the finish. She has been set the goal to be ahead of where I met her (at about the 3.5km mark) next time she does parkrun. She didn't make it to parkrun today due to other commitments and a sore knee. Phew, as my performance was shocking today and she would have likely won the challenge! I'm struggling at the moment (but no neural/muscle problems), I hope things get better soon!
Kikka and Yogi Bear
Fingers crossed we can keep Kikka motivated!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A yellow patch

I'm having the opposite of a purple patch, so based on the colour wheel, that would be a yellow patch. Since the end of August I have had a sprained right ankle and wrist, a torn left soleus muscle, a strained right gastrocnemius muscle, a nasty case of tonsillitis and the icing on the cake - a thrombosed right great saphenous vein extending from the foot to the upper thigh. Fortunately the latter is NOT a DVT, it is a superficial vein. But there is a risk of it becoming a DVT should it so choose to. Understandably this series of events has been reeking havoc on one's running. It was a fluke to get to the start line for the final QOM at the handicap at the end of September. It was only a few days later that I was hit with the tonsillitis, which was closely followed by the thrombosed vein. This means I missed  competing in 'Run with the Wind' and 'Two Peaks', both of which were on my wish list. The loss of fitness and ongoing necessary conservative training means there are others on my wish list that I may yet again miss out on as I have in previous years. Seriously isn't it time for a purple patch?! The focus this year has been to try and be consistent and manage the 'muscle issues' that have been a problem over the last few years. It's been slightly better this year, but a long way from what one had hoped for. And then all this garbage happened!
Thrombosed dorsal arch of the saphenous vein
Gungahlin parkrun  had its 2nd birthday on Saturday. Although racing was out of the question, a trot around the course was within one's current capacity. It was a pleasure to catch up with Ruth, Margaret and Gary as well as the hoards of other runners out there just 'doing it'. The birthday cake was a yummy moist chocolate cake with icing depicting a lovely park scene, capturing images of the ever present magpies. We all ran well within ourselves on a very warm morning. It's hard to know when I will be able to up the intensity again. In the meantime, it's good to be able to enjoy the amazing Spring weather on display in Canberra.
Great cake!
Beautiful smiling Ruth.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Vets handicap and the QOM

The final KOM/QOM series race in the Vets handicap was today (best 3 results out of the 4 events decides the winners). In the past this event has been scored on age% results, so I would never factor in the placings. For some reason this year it was switched to a point score, which depends on where you finish overall in each series event. Going into this final event, to my surprise, I was leading by 14 points. To seal the victory I needed to finish close enough to the next closest rival (Nadine) to retain the lead. Nadine was starting 2 groups ahead (1:30 head start) and is a stronger runner than me. So it was going to be a challenge. The numbers said the following: if Nadine finished in 12th place or lower, it didn't matter how far behind I finished as my top 3 scores would be enough; if she finished 11th place or higher, I had to be within 14 places of her to get enough points to stay in top position. To add to the challenge, I've been injured and unable to do much running, let alone any hill training and the right calf has been sending threatening messages all week. The goal for the handicap was to show up and run and hope the right calf didn't follow through with its threats!
Altitude profile of the event

This is probably the toughest of the KOM/QOM events, it gets a difficulty factor of 1.14. Total altitude gain is 173 m over 8 km, ups, downs and lots of turns. I have only run this course once before back in 2011 and it's been a really long time since I ran on these trails. I forgot how tough it was. The first mistake was to go out too quickly, and at the 2km point I regretted the fast start. However, I had made up a lot of time on Nadine and could see her ahead. From there I hoped I could stay close enough to complete the challenge! But with the fast start and lack of adequate training, my pace slowed substantially and it was strugglesville out there. At the turn around point I noted I still wasn't far behind BUT we were catching all the slower runners and that meant more people finishing between myself and Nadine. Add to this that I was really struggling, so in my mind it was going down to the wire. I tried to reel in as many slower runners as I could, but I honestly felt like I was going backwards! I came across the line in 30th place and the score sheet showed Nadine had finished in 18th place. Official finish places (eligible for points) were 14th and 25th, so I had done just enough to finish 5 points clear in the QOM.

It was a beautiful morning for the event with a good turn out. It was nice to see Speedy Geoff back and healthy and Maria O had a great run to take the bronze medal just behind Dave C who took the silver. Finally Spring is in the air. It was lovely to finish the morning with a coffee at Sea Salt with Ruth, Jen, Margaret, Gregg and late comers Sheryl, Beryl and a couple of others I don't know. Here's hoping the right calf has been silenced and I can get back out in the hills.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Injuries and magpies

I think I have a subconscious love of being swooped and hit by magpies. I say subconscious as my conscious mind lives in fear of aggressive magpies. It seems I have a pretty good record of getting injured during the magpie swooping season. This is problematic as cycling becomes the mode of exercise and on a bike you are more likely to encounter more magpies by virtue of the extra distance you do. I also think magpies are more aggressive towards cyclists than runners/pedestrians, so you just get hit more.
They hit hard, they probably need their own helmet!
There's been a frustrating series of injuries that started with a fall while running in Mulligans flat resulting in a sprained the right wrist. Obviously not a running body part, BUT clearly I was distracted by this injury as about 200m later I rolled my right ankle. I felt lucky to get out of Mulligans flat in one piece that day! The ankle had a mild sprain, running was still possible without much pain and strapping helped keep things stable. However, it is likely this meant I was putting extra load on the left leg, as a week later while out doing a long run, I developed calf/achilles pain in the left leg. This was unpleasant enough to make me cut the run short. A follow up run a couple of days later confirmed this was an injury that needed rest and recovery, which brings us back to the magpies! Yes, since then I've been spending more time on the bike and am paying the price! Spring is in the air, babies are in the nest and magpies are sending a 'message'.

Please let this calf injury heal quickly or those magpies might run me off the road and who knows what other damage I might do!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

38th in #38

It was parkrun #38 on Saturday and as has been the case of late, numbers are being quirky and coincidental. I came across the line in 38th position for #38. Physio advice is to stay away from going flat out or doing fast intervals until the neural symptoms are under control. For now parkruns are a good way to get in a training session by running them at a hardish pace. So for #38 the splits were 4:38; 4:40; 4:31; 4:41; 4:44 - 23:15. A good effort that should have a beneficial training effect.
Sunday run around Ainslie

The downside in doing some harder training is that it leads to tiredness for the long runs. A lap today around Ainslie and along the Ainslie/Majura saddle was to tough slog. Ah well next week is the monthly handicap on Sunday, so no parkrun and a shorter long run will hopefully help manage that tiredness.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Parkrun #37 in some mizzle

The grey skies and light mizzle were not a hindrance at Gungahlin parkrun today. The conditions were actually pretty good for running. All the Gunners runners were joined by Gary Wilmot and his crew from Hearts Across Australia. It was good to have some red hearts to brighten up the day. Gary (aka no more Mr Fat Guy) is doing good things to raise money for the Heart Foundation.

Go Gary (B)!
Familiar faces doing the run today included Gary Bowen and the ever consistent Margaret McSpadden. The approach to parkruns in the next little while is to try and do them at a tempo pace. Intervals and racing are a trigger for neural symptoms, so it is best to limit those!  It took about 500m to free things up and get a bit of rhythm. However, it was not a tempo rhythm, 'twas a tad quicker, oops. The original goal was to be just a bit quicker than last week and get in under 24 mins. As it turns out, I judged the pace poorly and got in under 23 mins (22:59 official time). Ah well, it was probably good to 'clear out the cobwebs' as some like to say and it didn't trigger any neural issues. Km rates were 4:41; 4:41; 4:35; 4:41; 4:40. Pretty consistent!
Now the question remains what to make of number 32? At last month's handicap I ran off group 32 and finished in 32nd position. Last week I finished parkrun in 32nd position. This week there were 132 runners and I finished in 32nd position........ hmmmmm. Gary B managed 24:06 today and Margaret M 30:49. Gary Wilmot took it easy to finish in a leisurely 32:41.