Sunday, April 23, 2006

West Met 3 : Dusty Blues

That's how I felt during and after the race. Good news is, the points scoring system means we don't ever have to run that course again. Even Macquarie Hospital course seems better. Concord XC ended up a sort of steeplechase/goat track.
I'd planned to hang back a little and let the pack through, as a wooden fence greeted us within 100m. Wait, squeeze or hurdle. Unfortunately, the dustiness of the surface stirred up not just much dirt but disturbing memories of childhood asthma.
Dust, grass, cat's hair... all these could have triggered an attack way back when. As it was an allergic reaction, I was able to be innoculated against this form of asthma - it took a weekly needle, over a full year. Not much fun for a 10 year old. Still, since then, hardly any repeats of a frightening illness. Unfortunately, dust is now the only major potential trigger for it, and I had visions... so I held back.
The course was a really winding XC, looping in and out of paths, grass, across low timber barriers... at least we only did the 2k - the longer runs were just more laps of the same course... boring!
A huge field in the 2k - I finished in 47th place (approx 9:05 min); there must have been 80 starters. Son leapt away at the start and completed the course in about 8:02 min. Good result. I could have shaved another 25 seconds off the time by going hard at the start, but ran an even stronger dust risk.
We agreed we won't return for this course next year. A shame, as there are some wonderful areas to run around Concord/Burwood North. I guess it's just hard getting traffic-free areas nowadays, especially with the difficulties involved in getting council/police permission and support.
Postscript to last week's 2k race : official times BB 8.47 min, BB Son 7.58 min.
Saw Bethroid and had a quick chat before the start of the 2k : she was there nice and early for the 4k at 2.20pm, all keyed and and excited. Saw on her blog a good consistent time of 21.40 min - well done! Should make a note to check out amenities blocks prior to all races. Beth, just to let you know - unless things have changed there are NONE close by at Macquarie Hospital, Dundas, Cowells Lane or Crestwood. Go early. Good luck with the training plan for CTS and HM.
A break from West Mets now for 2 weeks, then Meadowbank 13/05. A nice, scenic, flat, dust-free course.

Exercise this week has been pretty good:
Easter Monday 17/04 10k Rouse Hill
Tue 18/04 9k extended Clean Streets
Wed 19/04 9k Scotchman's Creek bike path (Melbourne-Glen Waverley)
Thur 20/04 rest day-sleep in until 6.30am
Fri 21/04 11k M7 east from Rooty Hill
Sat 22/04 10k extended Clean Streets followed by West Met #3; weights
Sun 23/04 17k home/M7/home

Important milestone
Saturday was Mrs BB's birthday! Some nice pressies and dinner at Pizza on Bella with ED, S, YD. YD as always was centre of attention, with pictures to colour in, gallons of drink to consume and nuggets/chips to peck at before offloading them to BB. Mrs BB had a rare evening not sharing the driving (ie driving home) but chose not to cut loose. A wise decision, as BB is happy for her to continue her focus on fitness and just being a good sort.
ED gallantly joined us for dinner before heading out with Boyfriend and friends fashionably later. Home by 1am as agreed. Even managed to get to bed without waking the household!

Just finished Caroline Roe's "Consolation For An Exile". HM set in 1355 Spain. 8th in the series, very well researched and wittily written, it revolves around Isaac, a blind Jewish physician in Girona. This one is what is commonly known as a rollicking good read, following the trip to and from Grenada of Yusuf, Isaac's pupil. Interesting blending of Christian and Islamic court lives.
Next up, Margaret Frazer's "Ther Widow's Tale" featuring the very popular Sister Frevisse, set in England in the mid 15th century. I've always found this series very compassionate as well as realistically portraying human behaviour. Sister Frevisse displays tenacity, perspicacity as well as gentle understanding. Time to read!

Currently two new releases are getting airplay : Donald Fagen's "Morph The Cat" (his first solo release since Kamakiriad 1994) and Jeff Duff's "Lost In The Stars". Astute readers would know Fagen as being half of one of the greatest bands ever : Steely Dan. His latest offering - allegedy the last of his trilogy which started with "The Nightfly" 1982 - is more of what I would term late Dan; jazzy, complex and polished. Some good tracks here.
I doubt that anyone other than Robert Song would know of Jeff Duff - former frontman for Kush, Australian glam band of the early/mid 1970s. He has a good voice, and this album is the second of a concept series. The concept is : what would happen if Frank Sinatra and David Bowie accidentally turned up at each other's scheduled concert? Jeff's answer is that they would each do the other's song list, but in their own style. His first album "Ground Control To Frank Sinatra" started this theme, and I must say he carries it off well.

Previewing the week : 3 days off work (Tue-Thur) so a chance to do a few longer runs to ensure a record April and possibly all time record month!
Also planned are trips to library (YD), park (YD) and optometrist for the yearly check-up and new reading glasses. For those in their 40s and above : don't you hate it when someone says "you look great for your age". What am I supposed to look like?!?!? An embalmed corpse given an electric shock every day? It says more about the speaker than the subject. Anyway, I'm getting ready for that same yearly comment from my optometrist. I've often wanted to pick up on the comment and provide him with some pointed commentary about his own lifestyle, coupled with some witticisms and optometry puns, but sometimes in life it's best just to have the test, get the specs and bolt.

"Exit, stage left"

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A little housekeeping

The Blog has changed Template yet again - and this time I've remembered to create the Links section (forgot you lose the customisation when you change). Hope you are curious enough to click on a few!

Today was anticipated well in yesterday's post - could have a new job as Nostradamus, although much of today was within my own control.

Good 12k run (Clean Streets) early on followed by easter egg hunt, followed by lunch and an interesting Verdelho. Further intellectual stimulation was provided by a viewing of Donald Duck's "The Three Caballeros" with YD.

Been meaning to post : almost in inverse proportion to the housing development going on in KR, I continue to see bunnies jogging nearby; I must say I was surprised two weeks ago to see a fox likewise ( animal lovers can rest easy - the bunnies had a head start and I think the fox was on a LSR, not hunting dinner).
I look forward to Second Ponds Creek development roads opening : more variation possible, less traffic and greater scenery!
Next Saturday is West Met #3 at Concord (XC); may do an M7 run on Sunday if up to it.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

West Met 2 : "so there's a trophy?"

My son has now realized that he could get something if he gets the most points over the season.
14 races, best 10 count. 10 points for 1st in division, 9 for 2nd etc down to 1 point for competing.
His approach is simple : run hard, and nobble the competition. Basically, you can run any of the races you like (or all 3), but you must nominate only one distance you want points to count towards (short, medium, long). While he was beaten into second place last week for U20s, he is confident Andrew has nominated for the middle distance, thereby giving Son 10 points.
As it turns out, he is doing well in his school's XC racing : a tough 4.5k circuit within the perimeter of the school : plenty of hills, path and grass. He managed @ 17 min - finishing 9th out of about 60.
Postscript to last week's 2k race : official times BB 8.17 min, BB Son 7.33 min.

This week we headed to South Strathfield : Cooks Park, a flat concrete bike path. No walkers, but some cyclists to avoid. Not having done this race before, I thought I'd just go out and do the best I could depending on how I felt.
"How I felt" was a little tired : during the week I managed
* 8k on each of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday around the Clean Streets at 6am
* 16k on Good Friday along the Rouse Hill/Beaumont Hills Smalls Creek Walking Trail.
* 10k this morning followed by a weights workout at the gym. So the legs were a little tired, especially after the last 2 days runs and weights (which include plenty of leg weights).

A goodly field was once again entertained by Merv's warm-up and helpful instructions (run towards Strathfield) while Son and I enjoyed not having to line up to register and pay, as we were locked away for the season already. BTW, we arrived very early, so Son decide to warm up by bowling a few overs at me in a nearby cricket net, with a tennis ball he had fortuitously brought along.
As we started, I had the feeling it would be a slightly slower run than last week. I timed my 500m splits : 2.15, 2.12, 2.18, 2.00 for an overall (unofficial) 8.45 min.
Finished 23rd overall, happy with the run, and a good last 500m.
I lent Son a spare sportswatch to check his times. He got it half right : he told me his 1k split was 4.15, but forgot to look at the end of the race!!! By a process of elimination, I checked with runners either side of him (8th and 10th), and believe he finished in 7.50 min, giving him a brilliant negative split of 3.35 min! He was happy when I told him, and felt that, yes, he ran hard the second half of the race.

Worked out that, lining up for the start of the middle distance race at 2.20pm, was BethRoid from Team H of coolrunning's bloggers. Introduced myself, and wished her well for the slightly tougher course ahead. Look forward to hearing how she went in her second race. Hopefully no blurking.

It's no secret our family has a Christian focus, with school and new church playing an important part in our lives. Funny, you almost have to apologise for professing religious beliefs nowadays.
My point is that while - for us - Easter has a special significance, we are also pragmatic enough to know that five year olds have mega expectations of Easter Sunday. So, tomorrow morning we hope to wake to find the easter bunny has visited, so we can have the annual easter egg hunt, joined by Son and Eldest Daughter (the latter dutifully there, having long discarded memories of similar fun 12 or more years ago).
When they depart for family picnic with mum (ex Mrs BB), we will greet BB's MIL for a family BBQ and quiet wine appreciation session.
Monday it's off to Richmond Mall to see Angelina Ballerina in mouse-person on stage. What an Easter for a five year old : two parties, eggs, church, AB on stage, Dad home for 4 days, painting and drawing and swimming...
I'm hoping to get in a 12k run tomorrow, 10k plus gym workout on Monday, then off to Melbourne for 2 days of meetings. At least I'll be able to do an early run Wednesday around the Glen Waverley Waterboard Basin bike path. A pleasant 9k through trees and semi-bushland, yet surrounded by suburbia. Hope the weather holds up. Still, Melbourne is always prone to tease the runner with hope of good conditions, only to burst forth with icy winds and a downpour. Other than Nov to Mar, it's best to have a rain jacket slung around the waist - just in case.

"Exit, stage left"

Sunday, April 09, 2006

West Met race 1 Haberfield report (beware:some tedium below)

After some months of waiting, West Met 2006 is here! Race 1 was held at Haberfield. It's weird, but every year we all say the same thing : "the first race day is always very warm!". Yesterday was no exception : around 26 degrees, little breeze.
A veritable swarm gathered to register for the season. HillsAths did a sterling job of taking registrations and cash upfront. A solid turnout of clubs, with Hills runners highly noticable.
Now, a preamble and then a brief description.
1. The runs are short (@2k), medium (@4k) and long (@8k). Generally, the races comprise runners as follows :
* 2k Little Athletics members plus some parents, 4k runners doing a warm-up
* 4k Semi-serious runners plus 8k runners doing a warm-up
* 8k Invalid runners who miraculously recover when they hear "go!"
2. In response to a blog-reading lurker, I am doing the shorter course because I am running with my son, who understandably won't do more than 2k - since his training has so far comprised playing cricket since September.
So, Saturday dawned fresh and crisp with a hint of warmer-than-average conditions. I decided to do a LSR, and headed off around the Clean Streets around 8am for 12k. Refreshing but uncomfortable. Weird, but with the extra distances this year, mentally I'm thinking 12k is just a nice jog, whereas 16k is a real run. It wasn't too long ago 10k was the LSR.
So, strangely unsatisfied, I spent the rest of the morning trying to motivate Son. His preparation involved putting on his soccer clothes, filing up a drink bottle and getting his runners out of his bag.
A few years ago - when he was a good Little Athlete - we did a few West Met 2k races together, as preparation for his school then zone then region XC runs. He did well, even pipping me at one stage. A natural athlete, he excelled at soccer until injury and a bad coach made him decide to quit after last season (along with half his team-mates). So, winter meant Playstation or Dad Intervention. Ex Mrs BB agreed with me (noted for memoirs) and so here we are. On the way to Haberfield, he asked me my PB. I explained it was 8.22 for 2k, but that I had also run 3k and 8k. His goal then became
a.beating 8.22
b. beating me across the finish line.
For me, I was very unsure about my speedwork, as I have been doing plenty of k's this year, but little speedwork - deliberately so. To state the obvious, I run for health and enjoyment, not competition against others. Except some individuals (won't say who because I'll see them again and again at West Met this year).
I secretly thought I might do 9 min, but was determined to do under 9.30.

Race report: it's always the same at the start of the season. Heaps of runners waiting at the start, plenty more still filling out the forms at the desk. 1.55pm. Lined up. Wonderful old Merv wandered over, and did his welcome and description of the course. He's a legend. Don't know how many years he's MC'd the show : at least since 1993, but I suspect many years before that, and many years helping out at Asics Wests. Just like an MC, he was told to stretch, as not all runners were ready. He did. As usual, grumbles from those at the start. This year was a little tricky. The flat grass and bike-path surface was easy, but avoiding the race-walkers on a similar course wasn't. Still, they were also official, and were there first.

Son got to the front of the pack, and importantly in front of me. I knew he'd beat me. But what time would I do?
As we took off, I resisted the urge to sprint and run over about 15 under-10 year olds; instead I held back and steadily wound in a few. Turning at the 1k mark, I was dismayed to see my watch showing 4.20 min; obviously my sub-conscious had decide I was trying for a PB. For the next km, the field had settled down, and I kept pace with a lad of about 11, who had apparently decide his race goal was simply to beat me home. He did well, as I really picked up the tempo but he did likewise. I had no idea until about 200m to go where the finish line was, but then I took off, and encouraged him likewise by yelling :"keep going - don't let me catch you". I didn't, and he was happy. So was I.

Unofficial time (my watch) 8.16 min, meaning I covered the last km in 3.56 min. PB !!! Very happy Jan (and Nat)!!!
Son didn't have a watch, but I estimate he finished in around 7.45 min, a fantastic achievement given his normal exercise level and the fact that he previously developed a huge stitch before halfway. Not today. He was excited - smashed Dad's PB and did sub 8 min. We'll get the official times when posted during the week. Next week : South Strathfield bike path - an unknown as I haven't run that one. Still, a good one for Easter Saturday and a great excuse to have to share a few Easter Eggs on Sunday with YD.

I managed a 14k run this morning along the Windsor Rd roadworks to Kellyville, followed by a weights session at the gym.What else during the week?
Apart from 62k for the week - a goodly total - I also found a coolrunner at Lennox Head : Lennox Loper, who is a pretty good athlete judging by the times on his profile. It was great to find someone with a running interest up that way : we love Ballina and surrounds, and want to move there in a few years, but do you think that I could find any local runners while there on any of our holidays? Not one - unless you count the Harriers. But I'm not a drinker with a running problem, so not a great fit. And it's such a wonderful area for training.

So Peter, good luck with the Banana Coast run 14/05, and Happy Birthday next Thursday!
I don't know if you feel old, but if you do, take heart - you're still younger than BB!

Looking forward to catching up on a few of the Bloggers over the next few days. Keen to see how Go Girl did in the Canberra 10k, and Robert Song in the Canberra Marathon...

"Exit, stage left"

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A welcome and timely change

Having sprinted ahead of myself with a post 2 days after the last, I thought it wise to implement the blogger equivalent of the LSR. So this post is some time later.
March is over. April - a month of mysteries:
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen" G Orwell 1984

In some ways we felt the same today, as some clocks were on 12, others on 13. Daylight Saving ended. The cows can relax and now the carpets will fade less.

March running saw a record month : 276k for a YTD 795k (record YTD). An unfortunate slip of the mouse saw an incorrect YTD km claimed on coolrunning, but fortunately attention-to-detail coolrunners spotted the error and told the world.

April has started off well:
Sat 01/04 24k home/M7/Quakers Hil/home
Sun 02/04 8k Clean Streets (37.20 min)
Now, I'm happy with these for two reasons. One, I completed 24k without collapsing for the rest of the day. Two, I was able to back up the next day for a run - and it was a PB by about 2 minutes.

Next Saturday is the start of the West Met series, at Haberfield. Son will be running with me this year, so it will probably be a 12k run in the morning (solo) then the shorter WM run with him in the afternoons. Tried to convince Go Girl to join up; Hills Aths has likewise strongly encouraged her. Perhaps she will change her mind and improve even more by participating.

This is a great time of year : running in the morning is crisp and cool, and there is daylight at 6am! (until May). So, singlets are still possible; it's not until June that the long sleeves, long pants and gloves make their entrance. Often accompanied by the fashionable beanie.

Books : John Maddox Roberts entertains with The Princess And The Pirates (SPQR 10). Both his character and Lindsey Davis' Falco are very entertaining : gumshoes of ancient Rome, although JMR's is aristocratic so things are a little easier. Both wives are rather clever.

Music : The Producers Movie Soundtrack (2005) has been just about worn out in the car; can't wait for the DVD release 03/05. It has to be one of Mel's best. Love the 1967 movie, loved the Stage production in Sydney, will love the movie...

Had BB's Dad and his wife to visit this weekend. A convivial time was had by all, especially Friday night, when modest amounts of libation were poured to ensure a relaxed atmosphere. This is why the 24k run the next morning was so impressive. Thank goodness for the Fuel Belt.

6 days to go!

Exit, Stage Left...