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COMRADES TRAINING – THE FIRST BIG HILL

January 27, 2017

The main reason for the latest trip away from my Central Queensland base to the capital of Queensland was to tackle the climb around Mt Coot-tha, which many runners from the Brisbane area use to train on for their Comrades journey. Yes the workout was successful in many ways, but the lessons from this run would probably be more beneficial than any fitness advantages or strategical ploys that may come from it.

Everything started well enough, pre-planning of the route started a number of months in advance and I had some idea of where to go based on the online maps and route planning. Despite a false start on the Wednesday which was the original day where I was planning to go (a combination of soreness and sleeping through alarms the cause of delay), I was up and mobile just after 4 AM on Australia Day (January 26, the date where it should ALWAYS be). I also armed myself with some food for this run knowing that eating on the run would be required over a 12 hour sojourn in June. Mind you storing such items was a little tricky, with a small chocolate protein bar tucked below the Skins often digging into the skin and causing discomfort.

After a comfortable first hour along familiar pathways it was time to detour off the main path and onto a couple of streets leading onto Sylvan Road that would hopefully lead to the paths (as opposed to roads) up to the mount. It was all smooth until it came time to find the path over the Western Freeway (a road that leads to Ipswich) to start the climb. After a slight detour thanks to a pathway being designated for cyclists only, I managed to stumble upon ANZAC Park where instead of turning right I chose the left hand turn, and kept going left until the path flowed onto a back street. After some consultation with the phone GPS, I navigated my way back to the park, then after continuing to go right found the overpass that would get me onto the big hill. It seemed I was back on track especially after passing a couple riding some CityCycles that I thought nobody ever used (the lady couldn’t believe I was outpacing her).

The plan was to then follow the road heading anti-clockwise on Sir Samuel Griffiths Drive, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed the well known Powerful Owl Trail may at least keep me out of harm’s way and perhaps get me even quicker to the other side with the end of the trail being adjacent to the Channel 9 studios. What I didn’t anticipate was the fact that the trail was a typical trail as opposed to a covered or man made path, and that many parts of it were steeper than I had anticipated. Yes it meant that I had to walk several sections which I may have had to do if I had stuck to the original plan of being a road warrior as opposed to a trail blazer, in fact regular walking up the bigger hills is a key to success when June comes around.

It was close to the 1:45 marker in terms of active time when I had reached the Channel 9 studios, and I was at least determined to plunge downhill following the road even though the traffic was slowly building. It was at that point I noticed that there was another trail (named the Kokoda Track, though nothing like the real Kokoda in terms of distance) that perhaps I should follow to at least get back to the bottom. Perhaps reconsidering my options would have been better after I was confronted with a very steep downhill section where traction would be a major issue. Rather than trying the kamakaze approach which probably would have sent me to hospital or heading back to the road (which in hindsight is the best option, rather deal with traffic than have an isolated incident) I basically traversed from tree to tree using vegetation as a brake. There were a couple of slips but no tumbles, and after successfully negotiating the difficult section I decided once the 2 hour mark had been reached according to the watch that I would stop recording the exercise for the day.

Yes it was the longest training I had accomplished in terms of distance and for a single session (the previous marker had been split into 4 sections), but I still didn’t feel as happy as I should have. Partially because I felt that following the trails and paths were an error, partially because I was hoping to see 20 kilometres rather than 17, partially because it was still going to take a while to get back to base. It took another 90 minutes (and 2 stops to refuel) to reach Indooroopilly train station, where perhaps recording the walk through the back streets may have made for a more impressive day on the road.

There will be at least one more meeting with the mount coming up in March prior to departing for Durban. It is anticipated that I’ll be following the road for the duration this time, as I’ll also need to start perfecting the art of downhill running. With 5 climbs both consisting of uphill and downhill sections and plans to basically walk the bulk of the uphills, being able to control running downhill to leave enough energy to plough up the next hill is crucial. As long as I stick to the roads everything SHOULD be OK.

 

A progress report on distances traveled in training will come in a couple of days, there are another 2 sessions planned before next Monday so those will need to be logged and included.

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