Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tapering...



Not much to say about this...
Didn't run on Sunday,
Picked up a minor quad niggle cycling on Monday,
walked to Uni on Tuesday and Wednesday,
Had a 40 minute jog this morning, the first of spring: the quad feels ok.
Well, it'll be right by September 10 as long as I continue to taper properly
Otherwise, these two images are pretty indicative of my recent activities:






May it be noted that neither was staged.


Last night, the other Zac cooked an awesome Mexican meal and veggie soup. There was a bit left in the pot that I didn't want to waste, and V caught me in the act... We then proceeded to chop all of my hair off, the result of which is a lopsided buzzcut. Good night, that was.




Saturday, August 27, 2011

Training is over - Consider me mindf**ked...

...but prepared.




The train ride up to Beerburrum is long however you cut it. Especially with 125km in the legs for the week (knowing that there are another 20 some ahead), and with rain drizzling dully outside the window. I was completely engulfed with self-doubt and negativity as we rattled Northwards: ex-blisters - will they go septic? niggles - will they get worse? What am I even doing, I should be in bed, recovering.

However, as soon as I hopped onto the saddle it all started to fade, as I encountered that familiar and beautiful rhythm of spinning out the legs. Maybe the weather isn't so bad.

Arrived at the Mobil with minimal navigational difficulties, and waited around under cover. By 6pm there were about ten of us gathered, and we set off into the darkess and lashing rain.

Firstly, it was onto the grass next to the highway, and then came the trail. Or puddle, I should say.

It trumped the most soggy and rutted path that I could imagine. The two resounding feelings were surprise and despair.

The sand and clay underfoot were a slippery mix, and I was soon questioning the decision to wear racing flats on this run; the decision to wear flats for the 100 miler.

It took an incredible amount of mental focus to stay on the trail, to stay upright.

Kato, Brett and I fell in together, a little bit ahead of the others, and managed to sneak in a climb of Wildhorse before rejoining the group. We set off on the little loop, then managed to get a bit lost, before miraculously meeting the others at a crossroads. We cruised to Wildhorse, put in another climb, and savoured the view at the top. It was then just a short jog along the road back to the Mobil.

In all, a very, very casual 20km in about three hours. But it was just the wakeup call that was needed.
The back 50km of the Glasshouse course has left its imprint on my consciousness. It will be hard and long, and mentally draining, despite its lack of an incline. It will take everything that I can muster to finish. To finish strong.

Suzannah then kindly gave me some food and a lift home. From there, it was out to Peter's going away party, and then into bed at 1am.

So, training for the Glasshouse 100 is over.
This final week has involved:
23 hours of training in total, with
145.57km of running with 2,850m of gain,
110km of cycling, and
two gym sessions.

In the four weeks between recovering from Flinder's and finishing training, I've managed 84:24 of training, including 419.83km of running, 583km of cycling.

Why the gloating about stats one may ask? It's really just for the sake of self-confidence. So that I can look back knowing that I did basically as much as could be done.

The niggles on my right side have perked up, but I'm not really that bothered. I'll be doing little to nothing for the first half of the week, jogging lightly on Cootha over the weekend and then doing very little the next week.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

White's Hill

Once again, I only slept for about 6 hours last night: just as I was about to roll into bed, V came home, and two hours of mindless chatting ensued.

Anyways, woke up this morning feeling remarkably decent in leg and mind, so decided so run about 20km over to White's Hill - a little wood to which I hadn't run before.

The first 9km on the pavement were fairly easy - just ticking along the consistent rolling hills at something around 6:00s. Then came the "trail", which, as I discovered to my utter bemusement, was actually made mostly of concrete. I was pretty unimpressed with this small section of bushland and the trails that traverse it - reminds me just how great Mount Cootha is.

At some point in the forest, the niggley right quad started to flare, and posed a bit of a problem for the rest of the run. The final concrete kilometres were a fair struggle, but all worth it for two weeks time I suppose.

20.74km in 2:08:54, about 300m of vert. Running long and slow is the name of the game...

Now (in order): eat, massage, nap, work, curry, sleep, West End Markets, assignment, Wild-Horse at night, rest, rest, rest, rest, rest... Race.

Hopefully the quad is better tomorrow.

Edit: After downing that curry and spending a little while in the RE, I cycled home, put the kit on, and embarked on ten more painfully slow kilometres along the river...It's the stuff of dreams.

Siempre Adelante CompaƱeros



Ever onwards comrades.

I could have used Carlos Puebla singing that one in my ear this morning, as I embarked on the final long run before the Glasshouse 100 mile.

Only took a gel, a banana and two scoops of powerade for sustenance. The aim was to feel like crap by the end. Mission accomplished.

But before being squeezed into the hurt locker, I felt decent. The first 9 flat kms from home to Mount Cootha were completely effortless leg-wise. I was carrying a couple of handhelds to simulate race-day conditions, and they provided some pretty sweet bicep cramps - a great wake-up call. As I started uphill, it soon became aparent that the climbing machinery was somewhat overworked, so I took the least steep path up and over Cootha possible (Simpsons).

Descended Jacksonia at a decent clip, crawled up and over Boscombe Road, and then started running properly again at South Boundary (dirt) Road. Headed right down to the Enogerra Reservoir, being frustrated by the sponginess of the grass and the steepness of the hills. Ran through someone's backyard while they were chopping wood in it (luckily they didn't notice), then looped the reservoir using a combination of random backstreets and some sweet, previously undiscovered, singletrack. Back to Gap Creek Reservoir via the Highwood Road trail.

Then came the climb back over Cootha. It went better than expected, but was still friggin hard.
Look up at the slope ahead, sigh, look at garmin, sigh, repeat (x50).
Cruised the rollers over to the lookout side, and descended via the closed trail. Squeezed in an extra 50-80m of climb on some side trails, and pretty soon I was running on flat road again and had crossed the marathon mark.

The final 8kms were great in some ways: the legs felt almost completely fine and were running sub-6s comfortably.
Bad in others: deep mental low due to low blood sugar, flat road.

The last 4km after crossing the Go-Between Bridge were pretty struggletastic, but worth it for the meal at the end:

That isn't a joke, I love beans.

In all: 50.49km in 5:22:10, with 900-1000m of gain. I'm a little disappointed with the pace considering the low average gradient and the fact that I didn't walk at all, but that is the only infintesimally small amount of negativity that can be drawn from this run.
The positives:
1. I came through it unscathed,
2. It was great practice for feeling like dog at the tail-end of the 100 miler,
3. Holy crap, I ran an ultra without too much effort!

We'll see how it feels tomorrow - will have a crack at running flat(ish) for whatever distance seems comfortable.
Then Wildhorse on Saturday night.
And then nothing for two weeks.
All focus is on getting the miles in without getting hurt.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

100


A song to open:


As of today I have traveled on foot between the road at the bottom of Mount Cootha and the road at the top (or any point higher than it) 100 times. Although I was hoping to have knocked off about 180 by this time, I'll still take it. Besides, I've adopted a very strict definition of a full climb; for instance, this morning involved about two and a half climbs but only one was counted due to the aforementioned rule.

A glorious morning, the 11.32km and 450m gain route again. I'm so grateful to have the ability to get out there every day and, at the moment, run for 1:20 on steep terrain every day and still feel fresh otherwise.

And here's the other reason:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back?

Two identical runs on Cootha in a row.
With a solid gradient.
Without monumental calf cramps.
While feeling pretty decent.
Which MAY (capitals, bold and italics for extra emphasis) indicate the return of my running mojo.

Anyways, they were both 11.32km with about 450m of gain, completed in 1:20 and 1:22 respectively. I am even more pleased with this, considering that in both cases I hadn't slept very much the night before: on Sunday I went for an hour-long road run at about 9pm, and consequently had to spend an hour massaging the poor legs (never again); and on Monday I was up till 12 chatting with V, after swearing to go straight to sleep at the end of QandA.

Did some shooting for a uni assignment on the second run - hence the 2 minute difference. The subject is native species extermination... Joke. - It involved shooting photos for "Introduction to Visual communication". The assignment has inspired me to summarise (the non-social facet of) my life in two photos:
Obviously, the first gloomy day on Cootha of the past two months was the perfect time to showcase the beauty of my natural habitat.

I'll be trying to maintain this type of steep running for the rest of the week, possibly injecting a 40-45km longie on Friday (or maybe a 1000+m vertical run), and rocking up to the "Wild Horse at Night" training run on Saturday.
As much as I'd like to put in a huge three days of about 120km , which has become the norm before a big event, it probably wouldn't be wise from an injury prevention perspective. Oh, and I should really do some uni work.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dave Coombs Interview

In the interests of further building the hype for this year's Glasshouse 100 mile, below is an interview that Dave was kind enough to give for my group's JOUR1710 assignment. It is aimed mainly at those uninitiated to the arcane fringe sport that is ultradistance trail running, but has a few insights that seasoned runners may find interesting.
video

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Priorities

With 21 days until the biggest race of my life, there is a need to shift the mind set, and establish a new set of priorities. Here they are in descending order of importance
1. Sleep,
2. Eating well,
3. Moderately difficult training (60-90 minutes of running at a time) that will gradually become easier,
4. Uni work.
These have definitely been jumbled in the last little while, with sleep ending up on the bottom of the pile.
The event which prompted this introspection was this morning's run on Cootha; which was a calf-cramping abomination.

Running Recovery

Headed timidly over to Mount Cootha this morning to see if I could get to the top. It didn't look good 6km into the cycle to the base, as I started to struggle at 15km/h.
Park the bike. Flat ground. I'm feeling OK actually...
Incline. Alright, maybe I'm not OK.
Ahhhh, achilles cramps! Lower legs are a mess!
Then I got onto the single track at Simpsons falls, one of the few places in the world that I feel entirely at home, and started to feel more decent.
Grunt, step up, grunt grunt, step up.
By the time I had hit the tarmac at the top of Cootha, the niggles had all but disappeared, and my mojo was back. The human body is incredible.

Nevertheless, after a tough gym session and a subsequent sleep on the grass at uni, I lifted my backpack off of the ground a little too quickly and did a number on the right bicep. Hopefully it wont hinder me tomorrow, when I return to my favourite place in the world.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day off

It isn't even remotably bloggable, but I feel like writing something down.

Today has involved:
- not running,
- eating three times more than I should have,
- not running,
- writing an assignment,
- not running,
- going to the powerhouse for the Indonesian Independence Day celebrations (i.e. good food),
- not running,
- thinking about the Glasshouse 100 mile,
- worrying about niggles,
- Listening to cool Cuban dudes:
.

Since that big week, I've been feeling pretty damn low - hopefully the rest day will allow tomorrow to make me feel better.

24 sleeps to go. That's actually quite a long time. Enough time, in fact, for another big week next, provided my body has settled down.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Glasshouse 100 predictions: David(s) and goliath

The story goes that many thousands of years ago, the Israelites and the Philistines faced off in the desert, each group camped on either side of a steep valley. For forty days Goliath, at three metres in height and with a body full of muscle, stood proud; mocking and challenging the armies of Israel. The Israelites cowered away. All of them but one. David, only a runt of a teenager, was compelled by King Saul's offer of reward to have a crack. He knew that through the grace of God he would prevail, so thus picked up his slingshot (declining the offer of the king's armour), aimed straight and true, and smote the beast.

This great fable may be interpreted in relation to this year's edition of the Glasshouse 100 mile in two ways.

Possibility #1:
There are rumblings in the North. The giant of the triathletes, Mike LeRoux, is traveling down from Cairns. A myth who has ran a double marathon in 6:31, at the end of an ultraman. And he did it faster than anyone else in the world.
The king of the trail runners, Ian Javes, has offered a reward to any man who can smite this beast. Goliath has encroached upon the trailies' territory by completing the Angeles Crest 100 (in 27:24). King Ian will not let this offensive gesture go unpunished.

Three Davids have accepted the challenge:
Eadie - His forays into Queensland have thus far been successful; on the Gold Coast this year, he ran 100km in 8:02 to be crowned the Australian champion. Has twice battled the Americans at Western States, coming through unscathed. His times on the trail aren't quite as impressive as those on the road, but will that really make a difference on a course like Glasshouse?
Coombs - Fights tooth and nail as often as possible, fending off the those who wish to smite him down from his position atop the proverbial throne of trail running in South-East Queensland. His winning time last year of 19:09 showed but a glimpse of this man's potential for longer races which is as yet unfulfilled (in my opinion).
Waugh - Our Dear Leader has returned. He'll be spearheading the attack, armed with four previous wins and the course record of 16:37. I'm unsure of his current form, but he's certain to pull out a big one for the race he used to own.

It will be a battle to the bitter end, the Davids and goliath within ten minutes of each other upon returning to the school at 110km. Wild Horse Mountain will be the game-breaker, with Coombs and Waugh pulling away thanks to their proven climbing abilities. Goliath will perish on the mountain, taking Eadie with him. After another ten kilometres of flat running, Waugh will turn to Coombs, chuckle, and speed off to collect Saul's reward.

Possibility #2:
The Brisbanites are facing off against the assembled armies of the rest of Australia. In a twisted irony, Goliath AND the Davids are standing on the start-line, gloating in unison, daring anyone to run with them.
The youngest of the locals, Zac B-S, accepts the challenge. Armed only with a pair of torn shorts and holy (wait, I meant HOLEY) shoes, he knows he will prevail. He will prevail by the grace of his gigantic ego.
While the others weep in despair at the mud, ruts and 50% inclines of the Beerwah loop, this youngster bounds fearlessly along. In his pure enjoyment of running, Zac is oblivious to the risk of a twisted ankle or torn muscle. His leaps of faith are rewarded; the four giants vanish in sink holes, before the youngster returns to Saul to collect his reward.

#1 is certainly possible. As for #2, well, it belongs in an entirely fictional fairytale as oppposed to a religious text (this blog is no place to discuss the difference between the two). I know that all that needs to be done for a win in the points comp for the Glasshouse series is to finish, so that's what I'll be trying to do... Maybe within 20 hours.

Life is seldom so clear-cut that it may be directly related to a simple fable, so it's pretty likely that a "Possibility #3" will arise.
Don't be surprised if it involves:
Chris Noble - The toughest man out there,
Kevin Heaton - A brick of consistency to be hurled at the pace of the others,
Phil Murphy - Mr 100 mile mountain race,
Walter Brumniach - Third last year and has won Cook's Tour before, but has been off-form recently in the shorter races,
And a whole host of others whom I have been too busy training to do some research on.

Weekly Summary: BOOM SHAKALAKA

"I looked at his face and his colour turned white
he turned slowly and said 'I can't make it till night'
my body is broken and I'm bleeding inside
and the light slowly drained from his eyes" - Kev Carmody, 'Droving Woman'

Yeah, that best describes my physical and emotional state after that week of training.

It involved:
29:27 of training.
including:
- 166.68 km of running (no walking) in 17:07 with 3,050m of vertical gain
- 152km of cycling for transport
- a full day of climbing
- two 30 minute gym sessions
- a one hour steep hill hike.

Here's the breakdown:

Monday:
- Run 14.05km in 1:00 (flat)
- Cycle 13km in 0:40
- Gym 0:30

Tuesday:
- Run 13.5km in 1:31, 400m gain
- Run 11km 1:01 (flat)
- Cycle 30km in 1:40

Wednesday
- Run 10.56km in 1:07, 300m gain
- Run 11.77km in 1:08 (flat)
- Cycle 26km in 1:30
- Gym 0:30

Thursday
- Run (really easy pace) 22.33km in 2:46, 950m gain
- Cycle 26km in 1:20

Friday
- Run 10km in 42:00 (flat: 1km warm-up, 8km in 31:39, 1km warm-down)
- Run 14.1km 1:21 (rolling hills)
- Cycle 13km 0:40

Saturday
- Run 15.76km in 1:19 (flat)
- Climb 2hrs (net), but from 8:40am till 5:20pm
- Run 12.24km in 1:32, 550m gain
- Cycle 20km in 1:00

Sunday
- Run 22.8km 2:48, 850m gain
- Run 8.57km in 52:00
- cycle 24km in 1:30
- Hike 3km in 1:00, 300m gain.

It's definitely time to take it easy for a little!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

New Peak Maybe

Tonight, I sit here shattered, feeling the best that I ever have after excercise. It really seems as if the "zenith of my existence" barrier, fortified in stone by Flinders' Tour, has been broken. Thinking about it more thoroughly, this probably isn't the case, but that doesn't mean today wasn't awesome.
Just sat around the Kangaroo Point cliffs from 9 till 5 with Caine and Tymeka, alternating between climbing (+ belaying), eating and chatting. Beautiful location, like-minded people and a physical activity requiring intense concentration. In the moment.
Now, to struggle out the door and put in a short night run on Cootha. For glory in September!

So I have the musical taste of a 50-year-old whiskey drinker, what of it?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Grind

Alarm goes off at 6:15. No way. switch it to 6:45 and get back to sleep.
6:45. Groan, sniffle, cough. Managing sickness while keeping up the training is quite difficult.
So, instead of the 90 flat minutes at 4:45 pace that I'd planned, it had to be cut back to an hour.
Wasn't sure of what I could manage in a hard hour, with the glutes still sore from playing touch on Saturday.
Exited the door. False start, retie shoelaces. Ok, go.
First kilometre - 4:23 - Feeling pretty good actually, maybe aim to stay under 4:30
2nd - 4:16 - Wow, maybe go for three-hour marathon pace,
- 4:28 - Ugh, f**king roads, let's pull back
- 4:12 - Hit the groove, breathing under control, let's keep it here,
- 4:12 - Along the boardwalk, showing off,
- 4:13 - still feeling good, turn around soon,
- 4:18 - Hips are getting pretty sore,
- 4:14 - keep it together,
- 4:19 - ugh, let it end,
- 4:23 - oooh, getting close now,
- 4:28 - off pace, panic!
- 4:05 - back in business,
- 4:05 - just a little further,
- 4:12 - relief!
In all, managed 14.06km in 1:00:01, almost bang on three hour pace. Fantastic run, and I think my body is becoming comfortable with running sub-5s on flat ground, although my feet are pretty damn sore from the road/concrete, even with a new pair of road shoes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hills for Hipsters

Took the day off of running yesterday to allow the chesty cough to run its course, but still managed to get in about 43km of cycling for transport. That and the five hours working in the call centre should have negated any possible abatement of the illness, but I awoke this morning feeling markedly better.

I didn't have the time and couldn't really be bothered to cycle over to Mount Cootha, so I exited the door in search of this trendy suburb's best hills. The fabled Sankey Street did not disappoint - about 35% gradient for 100 metres - but aside from that and the Dutton Park end of Highgate hill, it was pretty damn flat. Probably had the vertical-per-kilometre equivalent of Glasshouse 100, so it can't be all bad as far as training is concerned. Running on pavement will be great preparation for the last 6 or so km of the course, which traverses the footpath beside Steve Irwin Way.

In other news, I've conned my group for JOUR1710 (Journalistic investigation) into doing our assignment on the 100 miler, focusing on a few entrants and their preparation/race. This means that three other people will be heading up on the day to cover the event (potential crew members?).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Intrapersonal Communication

"Intrapersonal communication is the process of understanding and sharing meaning within the self...Intrapersonal communication only involves the self, and it must be clearly understood by the self because it is the basis for all other communication. Although intrapersonal communication is almost continuous, we seldom focus on communication with ourselves."
(from Liu et al "Introducing Intercultural Communication", 2011 - the textbook for COMU1311)
...Except when running in general and running ultras in particular.

Had to engage in a reasonable amount of intrapersonal communication this morning to (a) get out of the door and (b) get my arse up and down mount Cootha. The cold acquired over that ridiculous weekend had moved to the "I don't want to get out of bed because it hurts to breathe" phase. Getting out there did help, although I have successfully re-niggle-ified both quads from that run and the gym session later that day...

Monday, August 1, 2011

40 Days

...Is the commonality between a song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (indie rubbish), the Flood, the length of Jesus' fast in the desert, the cycle of many ancient calendars and the length of time until I attempt to run 100 miles in under one day.

And on this 40th (or first, depending on how you look at it) day, I started to feel springy again. There are still plenty of niggles to contend with, but my muscles and tendons seem to have regained their elasticity, to a certain extent.
I ran 12.79km in 1:20 with about 400m of vertical gain, busting out some 4:10s when returning to where the bike was parked. I was engulfed in pure flow at times, as the trail narrowed and flattened and the legs quivered and flexed.
Add to that to a 9km cycle each way to and from the trails, and you have a pleasantly exhausting (but not entirely destructive) session that I feel could be repeated (maybe at a lower intensity) everyday. Let's hope so.