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CAIRNS MARATHON VLOG 2021: NOT ACCORDING TO PLAN

Going back to the vlog format to chronicle the events of last Sunday, which didn’t go how I had intended or even dreamed of. Thanks to the nurses, doctor and physio in Cairns Hospital for their assistance.

Still hoping to start on the Sunshine Coast in a couple of weeks, although I may consider downgrading to the half marathon owing to the fitness levels. That decision will be made closer to the Saturday before the event.

TOUCHING BASE AGAIN AFTER A LONG HIATUS

It seems like a while since I bothered to post a blog or a vlog, I suppose the situation has probably claimed a few scalps figuratively and literally over the last 18 months or so. While I’m not going to use this platform to portray my thoughts either way on the issue, for the first time in ages I feel as though I can at least plan for the future with some degree of certainty. Of course things can and probably will change as we go along, but from now until July next year I at least have a plan of attack of where I want to go and what I want to achieve.

This year hasn’t been a total write off, for there was a window between February and late April where I was able to take part in some runs and feel as though not much has happened in the past. Big ticket item of those was the Canberra Ultra which was postponed and eventually canned in 2020, but was back in just about all its glory in 2021. Certainly it was a cold morning to the extent where for entire race I wore 2 layers on top and for the first time since Comrades 2018 I even wore gloves. Embarrassingly the “pair” I had was basically 2 left hand gloves with open fingers, so it was lucky that wearing one of them inside out was sufficient for the right hand. These were discarded about 18km into the run, which is where I felt I lost the time that saw me run outside of my goal time of 5:30. In the end I was actually a little disappointed despite feeling a degree of satisfaction in finishing in a 5:50:32, knowing that in my view I dropped about 20 minutes from the time I discarded the gloves until the 40km marker (2:09 was the 21km split, 4:47 was the marathon distance split, felt I could have easily gone 4:27 given the conditions, and I expected the drop off in the last 8km).

Prior to that was the Port Macquarie Treble Buster trip which upon reflection was one where I was almost laughing, not because of how I ran, but because the town was obviously blessed (I have been known to use different, less PG terminology in other discussions) to be able to get through the event in successive years. Last year as we know about 3 days after the finish the obsession with case numbers began in earnest. This year it was a flood that destroyed a number of businesses a week after the run. I guess the run is best described in my own words rather than my prose (NOTE: This was recorded at a time where Sydney wasn’t locked down in March, and incorporates a trip down memory lane)….

A week after Canberra came a return to Robina to run a 10km event which I hadn’t attended for a number of years. Pretty easy day considering that I did run the 50km the week before so I was glad to tack onto the 60 minute pace runner and cruise for about 8.5km or so. The last 1500m I decided it was time to find another gear, and it felt great…..until about 300m from the stadium when a BMW driver decided it was also a good time to find another gear, and interrupt the final sprint into the stadium for a couple of others let alone myself. Still ran a decent 57:46 and everything seemed on track for the scheduled return visit in July to run both the half and full marathons given the cancellation of Comrades for the second consecutive year (I suppose attending was going to be problematic too given the international travel situation in Australia).

After fulfilling a commitment to run the local Rocky River Run half marathon in May, where I felt the pinch of playing a hard game of footy the previous day on the second lap to end up running a rather pedestrian 2:06 (1:02 at the halfway point of 10.5km, which actually was decent just hanging onto the tail of the 2 hour pace group), the manure hit the fan yet again. Gold Coast was canned in the week leading into the scheduled event, Sunshine Coast was postponed to Melbourne’s Date, Melbourne was postponed to later in the year, Auckland was pulled with travel bubbles canned with issues across the ditch much less in Australia and the body started failing me at the wrong time of the footy season. Still there’s some sort of “normality” in Queensland right now and with the promises of states opening up pending vaccination rates hitting certain thresholds I felt it was a good time last week to at least lock in some sort of tentative schedule from now until next year. Thus I have determined that from now until July 2022 I have the following plans.

19 SEPTEMBER 2021: CAIRNS MARATHON

The next Blog/Vlog Posts will be previewing and reviewing the race.

10 OCTOBER 2021: SUNSHINE COAST MARATHON

This was originally going to be run in late August with Melbourne scheduled to be on this date. Issues around the date on the Sunshine Coast meant that race was originally postponed, and issues in Melbourne leading to a postponement until December avoided a clash of events.

28 NOVEMBER 2021: GOLD COAST 50

What may well be the goal race, especially after recording an injury enforced DNF last year following a tumble on a section of course run on boardwalks as opposed to tarmac or concrete.

12 DECEMBER 2021: MELBOURNE MARATHON

8th scheduled appearance for me here, pending work arrangements and (more importantly) a re-opening where quarantining isn’t required.

6 MARCH 2022: TREBLE BREAKWALL BUSTER, PORT MACQUARIE

5th appearance running the treble, which is actually a personal big deal considering only a handful of others have done all 5 editions to date and not many others are also with me with 4 finishes. Hopefully too the transportation will be easier than this year in the hope that Brisbane-Port Macquarie flights with Virgin/Alliance resume as opposed to this year which involved train rides from Sydney and a Qantas flight back.

20 MARCH 2022: WANGARATTA MARATHON

Ran this even in 2020 and will have different goals this time around. Last time was about the kilometres with Comrades in mind, this time will be about just that, the time.

10 APRIL 2022: CANBERRA ULTRA (50km)

I believe this will be my 5th finish if I make it to the end after a DNF at the first attempt.

24 APRIL 2022: GOLD COAST RUNNING FESTIVAL 10km

Actually ideally placed where I don’t have to miss a day of work, and this may well be seen as sprint work rather than endurance running.

22 MAY 2022: ROCKY RIVER RUN HALF MARATHON

Obligated to a degree to run the home event pending work, looking for a sub 1:55 here.

12 JUNE 2022: COMRADES (DOWN RUN), PIETERMARTIZBURG

Well we can all dream now can’t we? By then travel to these places will be possible although quarantine arrangements are unclear (who knows with both this Government and the Opposition who may well claim power at the next election which needs to be held no later than May, but this isn’t a political blog), and the entry from 2020 is still valid so that’s a few hundred dollars saved. Plus flights are available at a relatively cheap price even if I won’t get any frequent flyer points from it…..

2/3 JULY 2022: GOLD COAST MARATHON

If the schedule that was proposed for this year remains it will be the half marathon on the morning of the 2nd, and the marathon 24 hours later. If Comrades isn’t viable next year then this will be a major goal for next year, if I do manage to get to South Africa then both of these will be fun events, if you can call 63km over 2 days fun.

At this stage I haven’t planned for anything further than this, partially because events that are usually run in August and beyond haven’t confirmed dates for 2022 if indeed they are going ahead (for example Perth’s City to Surf which I have run multiple times hasn’t gone ahead since I ran it in 2019 and I’m unsure if that will return, ditto Sydney’s City2Surf which is virtual again, virtual racing for time holds little to no interest), and partially because even though I’d have an idea of when events are scheduled accommodation cannot be booked more than 12 months in advance in almost every instance, hence penciling in events can wait a little while. You may also notice that Point to Pinnacle, an event where I’ve been a regular at for the last few editions and a rare event where running the virtual last held interest (rather than time the organisers decided to have their virtual based on elevation change, the point of difference luring me), isn’t on the list. It’s not because I can’t get to Hobart from Queensland or need to quarantine, but work commitments on the day of the race and the close proximity to Gold Coast 50 mean this year I’ll bypass the trip to the Apple Isle. But I’ll certainly come back to that event when the schedule allows.

COMRADES 2020 – COVID-19 INSPIRED VLOG

Just a blog recorded of thoughts for my upcoming schedule as Covid-19 climbs to levels before a plateau of fresh cases arrives sometime in the next 6 weeks or so (probably, who’s to say?). If there are any further changes or will likely be based on official correspondence rather than social media scuttlebutt which is the primary fear driver.

In case you can’t hear it, the gist is that I’m still intending to travel in June, with possible deletions to the schedule between April and early May.

 

 

 

PORT MACQUARIE – BUSTING FOR THE 3rd TIME

Three races, one day, one challenge, two running tops…..well that last element wasn’t exactly part of the script until the night before the race but we’ll get to that a little later. For the third consecutive year it was off to Port Macquarie for another crack at the Treble Breakwall Buster, which gives runners the chance to run a half marathon, a 10km and a 5km race all in the one day. Once again I’m using this run as part of the Comrades preparation as opposed to, for example, heading to Orange to run their marathon which was something I half considered in planning the whole “Operation Mabhida” last year before deciding it would be easier in terms of transport and logistics to head to the Port.

There were delays that would have made things for the average runner nervous, for the flight out of Brisbane was close to 40 minutes behind schedule. Fortunately with the renovations at Port Macquarie Airport ensuring baggage claim was relatively easy I was still able to make bib collection on the Saturday Afternoon with plenty of time to spare. Perhaps I could have used one of the three vouchers that would have given me a 10% discount on my pre-race shopping at the local IGA Supermarket, but it would have been pointless as the toilet paper allocation was exhausted (not that I need it). It wasn’t until I was laying out the gear that I decided to incorporate a second top (which was a long sleeved footy jumper) for the 10km. I figured that a fresh top may help me complete the 2nd leg a little quicker and that I could then make a choice over what top I want to wear for the final 5km.

Come race morning and the misty rain turned into showers. This was a little more concerning given the course, despite changes to combat congestion on a bridge, still had a fair bit of running on the grass particularly at the start and at the bottom turn of the half marathon loops. Despite the conditions the start went pretty much as planned, and I actually caught up to the pace runner that I wanted to be with almost at the commencement of the second lap. From there it was a case of trying to stay with as many purple bibs as possible, trying to find a little group to run with, but by the finish I was pretty much alone although certainly far from the last to finish.

It was a fairly quick transition which I felt was aided by a rapid top change. I initially tried to get my arms out of the sleeves before entering the finishing chute but found that to be too difficult to do on the run (plus my arms are probably too big to effectively do it quickly anyway). So as soon as I crossed the finish line for the first time the shirt immediately went off, and I managed to get through the crowds (some of them had finished their only run for the day, others were preparing for the 5km, and a few were after the coffee tent) to change shirts, down a water at the recovery table, then trudge off for leg 2. It wasn’t all that pleasant in that I had to stop with reasonable frequency with some soreness in the upper quad/lower groin region. That didn’t stop me from completing the 10km in a pedestrian 1:18 (official times would have it closer to a 1:30 as the clock for each leg started when the gun went off rather than when you crossed the line). Again I was thankful that I was able to see some purple bibs still completing the journey behind me, but I was also extremely mindful particularly on lap 2 of staying out of the way of the leading 5km competitors, which given the race was run on paths with runners coming in both directions, wasn’t as easy as avoiding the front running half marathoners at Perth’s City to Surf for example.

Three fingers signifying three Buster finishes. PHOTO CREDIT: TLC Photography Port Macquarie

The transition between 10km and 5km was a little bit slower, although I was thankful that nobody gave me a tap on the shoulder to say “sorry mate, you can’t continue”. Changing the bib was a little tricky, and I only bothered to pin the top of the bib to the top. I also managed to find the bottle of orange Lucozade which made the start even slower as I was making sure the fluids went down easily. I was able to run much of the 5km leg even if I was disappointed to not go all the way along the breakwall. Yet when I crossed the line I was pretty much on my lonesome, well behind the previous competitor, but well ahead of 15 others which was a change from previous years when I was closer to the last 5. There was even time to run a little bit of the last 200m backwards just for a laugh and to see if anyone noticed (the MC did), but it felt awkward around the final corner so I just wandered across the line to have 4 medals around the neck. Pleasingly this year for the first time, there were no duplicate medals to complete the set when in previous years I ended up getting 2 medals for 10km but no medal for say the 5km.

Apart from the blisters where my big toenails once were and a little fatigue in the legs, everything seemed to be pretty well fine post race. It would be the catalyst for the biggest block of training in the Comrades program, with my aims now being closer to 60-65 kilometres per week over the next month as opposed to the usual 50km. At this stage everything is all systems go, and unless we get told otherwise that we can’t go then I’m certainly planning to board the flight over on what would be the Queen’s Birthday in southern states, much less fly down for the Canberra Ultra at the start of April. For now it’s looking for climbs, hitting some 20km+ training runs, and generally getting myself more ready for this year’s edition than any other in my time running.

PORT MACQUARIE 2020 – RACE EVE

Twas the night before my 3rd run in the Treble Breakwall Buster, and I just had to get a few things off the chest. Looks like a lovely day for a training race run so hopefully everything goes somewhat according to plan.