This is Why I Run DVD - Coast to Kosciuszko: A portrait of an Ultramarathon 

Posted by Nick Sunday, December 05, 2010 6:43:00 PM

For all ultra-runners in Australia, C2K is the big one - 240km from the South Coast up to the top of Mt Kosciuszko.  Its on my todo list after doing a 100 mile run, with the Glasshouse Mountain run next year being the current target event.  This Is Why I Run have produced a documentary on the event, and looking at the online trailer, it looks like a fantastic production.  Looking forward to the DVD release.

Distance December Begins 

Posted by Nick Friday, December 03, 2010 8:53:00 PM

After knocking off four shorter events (3 marathons and a 30ker) in the last four months, the focus now is on distance, distance, distance.  Looking at my yearly totals after a CoolRunning thread on 3650km in 365 days I realised I was at 3515km coming into December.  Setting a monthly goal of 500km would take me to 4000km for the year, both of which are nice round numbers to reflect on.  I've only had my GPS watch for a year, but would estimate my 2009 distance as around 1500km. 

The big jump in distance hasn't caused any issues, and I have a lot less niggles now that I did a year ago.  The two chronic issues I regularly face are ITB (both sides) and achilles tendonitis (mostly left), and these have been very much in control since February.  I got a quick check of a bit of soreness in my left inner quad at the physio yesterday, and its all fine.

December began with a 20km tempo run over the Anzac Bridge and around the CBD, with Thursday a nice, easy 10km recovery run.  Today was 16.7km on some very wet trails on the Heathcote Loop, and tomorrow will be an easy 6-8km recovery.  Hopefully the weather will be better on Sunday, and I can bang out a 50km trail run.  If the weather is really bad, 45km on the road will have to substitute.  Either way, I should be through the first 100km by the end of the weekend, and past the magical 3650km on my Wednesday trail run.

Cotter Dam Trail Guide 

Posted by Nick Wednesday, December 01, 2010 9:47:00 PM

We've got a new trail guide up for the Canberra region - the Cotter Dam Loop.  We were down in Canberra a fortnight ago, and this run was a really enjoyable way to spend some of the time.  Navigation was hard with track closures and the network of roads in the forest, but by carrying a hand-held GPS as well as the wrist GPS, I could figure out alternate routes 'on the run'.  smiley

Give it a try if you are down Canberra way.  Feedback welcome!!

Glenbrook Marathon Report 

Posted by Nick Sunday, November 28, 2010 6:25:00 PM

[Expanded for a CoolRunning post after the race]

Saturday morning broke hot and dry across Sydney, with the temperature in the lower Blue Mountains expected to peak at over 30 degrees.  Leaving home at 5:30 got the family and I to the race at around 6:30, and we were surprised with the massive crowd that were peaking Euroka Crossing for the 25, 34 and 42km events.  Being the last chance to put in a qualifying time for 6ft before entries open on Wednesday, the talk of the magic 4.15 (34km) and 5.15 (42km) times were being discussed in many pre-race conversations.  All distance entrants had the same colored number and same start, so it wasn't possible to work out field sizes before the race (or even once you were out there - I talked to RD Rob after the event, and he said colored stickers on the number was one option being looked at for next year).  Given the heat, I guess that most of the 189 folks weren't there for the long one.

Like everyone, the heat was my biggest concern, and I set off really, really easy for the first section of the race. I didn't have the same level of taper as Fitzroy, and was content to have Glenbrook as a nice, hard training run given the hot conditions on the day. Watching the pace of the start only reinforced my resolve to hang back, and I mentally shifted into thinking of this as a short 42km 'ultra'. Sitting near mid-pack during the first half, it looked like there were a lot of folks putting plenty of heat distress in the bank for themselves for latter in the race - they were going out damn hard! Last week I hit 32km around Cotter Dam in similar conditions, and the last 10km was slow in the heat, so I was fortunate to have a recent reminder of the cumulative effects of running too hard in heat above 25 degrees.

When you do the maths, going out that quick is crazy. At my level, the difference between a 5.05 km pace and a 5:45 pace over the first 10km is huge in energy expended -a pulse difference of maybe 25 bpm. And with all the energy expended, I've gained 5 min. If I have to walk a single kilometre later in the race because I've blow up, all that time is gone almost instantly, and I'm still not back at feeling good.

My first half split was very slow - 2.05, but I felt great, like I'd just started running - actually better than the start. At 17km on a long run, I'm usually the freshest. Heading into the long 8km out-and-back at 28km, I was surprised by how few people that were in front of me (11 I think), and some of them weren't looking too fresh.  This photo of me from early in the race (about 1hr in) is testament to the relaxed start - not even breaking a sweat yet smiley

Race pic

Photo credit: Mark from Running Wild.

One of the biggest surprises on the out and back was no Part-Time Ultra-Runner.  I'd finally met Ian in person pre-race, and was sure he would be first or second.  I guess he'd missed the Pisgah Turn (course map is here) - it was marked with an A4 laminated sign in a tree, and there was no marshal at the turn-out directing marathoners onto the out-and back section.  With most of the entrants doing 34km (the 25km racers had already split off by here), someone with their hand down or eyes focussed on the runner in front could have missed this turn (I spoke to Buzz about this potential after the race).  I found out later Ian had taken a big spill, hurt his hip and puled out - get well soon Ian!!

I had planned to drop the pedal at 30km if I felt good, but with the uphill climb lasting until about 32km, I held back until then.  The plan worked well with 1km lap times of 5.40, 5.48, 5.14, 4.58, 5.10, 5.06, 5.05 and 4.56 at the end of the race to finish in 4.01. While it was my slowest marathon time of the year, it was the hardest conditions too, and I was extremely happy to have run the race I planned and let so many people get ahead of me in the first half. Its so much easier running at the end when you're passing others. On the Coastal Classic I went out too hard, and was watching folks pass me for an unpleasant last 25kms. I haven't cracked a top 10 before, and was pretty sure I'd come in 9th.  Spud's result list on CoolRunning confirmed this, leaving me stoked.  Along with a 40min 10km time and a Silver Buckle at TNF100 in May (which are two goals that are pretty much impossible to work towards simultaneously), a top 10 marathon finish was on my list of 'real nice to achieve' running goals, and I was stoked to tick this one of the list just over a year into running marathons.

I guess with such a big negative split (2.05 vs 1.56), dropping a couple of minutes off the first half could have bought me how quicker, but looking at the pulse rate over the entire race and thinking about the early difficult terrain, it was more a case of putting in consistent effort and letting the course dictate speed.

Hydration worked really well with the Nathan 500ml hand-held. I had Gu gels at 15, 25 and 35km as planned, and had plenty of water available the whole time. I filled up the Nathan twice (either side of the long out-and-back), and took two cups of Gatorade at each drink station except the first. I suffered no dehydration or energy loss, and was happy with the first time doing 42km with a hand-held bottle.

With my third regular marathon in four months (ironically, the 30km Coastal Classic was tougher than them all), the 42km distance is definitely getting mentally shorter.  I can break the race into little chunks now and complete each one in isolation, and the prospect of 42km is not daunting in any way now.

Thanks to Rob, the Running Wild crew and the wonderful volunteers for a superb event. It was outstanding. Absolutely great. Well done to all the runners who braved a hot day and put in a great run.

My GPS watch read the course distance as 42.21km - an amazingly accurate course match-up with the official distance. Awesome work!

Glenbrook Marathon Countdown 

Posted by Nick Thursday, November 25, 2010 8:04:00 AM

The focus this week has been tapering into this Saturday's Glenbrook Marathon.  Glenbrook will be the shortest race distance I've got planned for a long time (July's 32km King of the Mountain at Nowra will be the next time I plan to drop down to a regular marathon distance or lower) so the taper hasn't been too serious.  With a hot, windy day forecast for Saturday (the forecast maximum for the lower Blue Mountain's is 30), it doesn't look like being a quick race, and I plan to race a pretty consistent race, holding the pulse to 162bpm for the first 28km, giving me some breathing room to open it up in the later stages if the terrain, legs and weather conditions are conducive. 

Looking at the data from Fitzroy Falls, I'm getting good at distributing my effort evenly over the 42km.  My average heart rate was 164bpm, which is right on the goal of 165.  Early in the race my pulse was a bit higher (173 and 172 bpm for kilometers 3 and 4) but excluding this early excitement, every other kilometer was within a 13 bpm window of 170 (13km mark) and 157 (the last downhill section at the 39km mark).  164bpm seems to pretty much my marathon-distance sweet-spot - my King of the Mountain average pulse was 164 as well, and these two races have felt like the best balance between going too hard and holding too much back. 

Glenbrook will be closer to a long training run with like-minded trail enthusiasts rather than a A-race where I really focus on my own running and zone out from the other runners.  My only performance goal for the race is a sub-4 hour run - anything else is a bonus.  Going out easier will give me some reserve as the conditions get hotter, and there are plenty of kilometers in a marathon to drop the pedal if its feeling too easy.

After Glenbrook, the focus will really be on the long stuff.  With Bogong to Hotham (an extremely tough 66km), Cradle Mountain (a tough 82km), 6ft Track (a tough 45km) and TNF100 (an extremely tough 100km) in the first 5 months of next year, the post-race focus will be on getting the distance done.  Allowing a few days of post-race recover, having a 'Distance December' where I clock in at least 500km is the goal. 

New 10km PB and Off to Canberra 

Posted by Nick Thursday, November 18, 2010 9:04:00 PM

Inspired by yesterday's great PB by the Part Time Ultra-runner, I set off this afternoon to see how my 10km time was tracking.  Last week was great training wise, but after 35km in the heat Sunday, Tuesday's run from the CBD out to Gladesville felt like crap.  I was slow (5.18 pace) and almost felt disinterested.  Instead of a B2B hard session, I took Wednesday totally off running, and just relaxed.

With some renewed energy and inspiration, I set off today for a 10km time trial.  Warming up my legs felt tired and I decided to ditch the time trial, but seeing I had put in a fast-ish first kilometer (4.28) and feeling fresher after I got the legs rolling, I decided to push on and see what 10km would bring.  I'd run 45.29 two weeks ago, but knew that with my current training my max effort would be faster.

After a nice 3km heading into the Opera House, my pulse climbed up to 170, and by 5km and Hickson Rd, I was pushing it at 175.  At 37, my 'max' is 183, so I was really maxing out the effort.  A northerly tail wind down into Darling Harbour helped, and by 8km I knew I was on PB pace and just had to hold ~4.30 a lap and I'd be there. 

The slog up past the Maritime Museum was hard, but the final kilometer flew by.  Coming into Darling Island, the autolap rolled over to 10km in a time of 44.09, which was a great effort considering I'd still had a significant training week (66km at the start of today run).  The average BPM for the run was 171, with the last kms at 176, 177, 179 and 180 average.  At least I could be content that I'd given it my all.

This weekend we're off to Canberra for some camping in the Kowen State Forest, and I've got a nice 30km run planned for Saturday morning.

After that, its some rest and taper getting ready for the 27 Nov Glenbrook Marathon.

Great week of training 

Posted by Nick Monday, November 15, 2010 7:58:00 PM

Last week was an great week of training for me.  Sunday started with a stunning 33.6km on the Kiama Coast Walk, with a great tough last 10km on the mud, hills and loose sand.  My left hamstring was pretty tight after straining it running to get out of the rain the previous Wednesday, but that didn't impact the run a lot, and I had a great day.

Monday was the traditional 10km recovery run on the sand at Cronulla out to Boat Harbour at Kurnell and back.  Coupled with a dip in the surf afterwards, its a great way to start the week, and does a reasonable effort at keeping the weekend alive for a few hours more.

Tuesday I did a max-effort 20km run around the Opera House, Darling Harbour, over the Anzac Bridge and back via Black Wattle Bay.  I did the run with a 4.45 pace dialed in on the Virtual Partner feature of the Garmin 405, and aimed to be at least 90s ahead of that coming in to the climb up from the Fish Markets onto the Anzac Bridge.  I achieved this, and held the pace around the Bay and back up Pyrmont Bridge and down to King St to get a final time of 1.34.42 (4.44 pace).  My average heart rate was 169, and the day was damn hot - by the end I was spent.  It was one of those great runs where you leave it all out there - I pushed really hard, and despite the exhaustion at the end, I really enjoyed it.

After an absolute belting, I needed some recovery on Wednesday, and did the 10km Boat Harbour run in the morning and a 3km run with my 7yo daughter in the evening.

Thursday was a repeat of Tuesday's run, but with a hotter day and tired legs, I set a much easier pace of 5.08 and an average pulse of 156bpm.  Even with the slower pace, I was pretty toasted by the end.  Not wanting to let myself off easy, I belted out another 16km around the same loop on Friday (minus the Anzac Bridge crossing) to finish the week with 113.6km.  The hamstring loosened up during the week, and coming out of a pretty decent distance week, I felt generally great.

Over the weekend we took off down to Jervis Bay - it was my 37th birthday (its weird - I feel nowhere near 'old' - I'm the fittest I've ever been, and feel stronger and more active now than ever).  I got in a nice 1hr paddle from Huskisson out to Hyams Beach on Saturday as a huge storm brewed behind me, and got in 35km around the tracks between Vincentia and the Booderee National Park.

This is dawn on Huskisson Beach on my birthday morning.


Kiama Coast Run 

Posted by Nick Monday, November 08, 2010 8:18:00 PM

Finding a great running trail can happen entirely by accident.  After the Fitzroy Falls Fire Trail Marathon (FFFTM), we were heading home via the coast and happened to have a brief stop at Werri Beach near Gerringong for a leg stretch and a look around.  While doing this, I came across a sign for the Kiama Coast Walk, which was opened last year.  The sign-post indicated that the Coast Walk ran for over 20km, from Minnamurra in the north through to Gerringong Boat Harbour in the south.  I mentally added the route as a possible trail run for some time in the future.

The opportunity presented itself yesterday.  Linda was knocking off the Sydney to the Gong bike ride early in the morning, which left enough time in the day to knock out a lazy 30kms or so on the Kiama Coast Walk.  I found an approximate route for the main Coast Walk section on MapMyRun , and extended this about 8km out to Bass Point at Shell Harbour to make sure my long run was actually long. 

We reached Bass Point about 11:30, and with about 2 litres in the Camelbak and the HD Hero camera mounted on the head-strap attachment, I kicked the Garmin into gear and took off.  I had hoped to cut across (to be what looked like) some sporting fields off Bass Point Road, but these turned out to be fenced-off farming paddocks.  Luckily, I’d printed out the routes on 3 A4 pages and laminated them, so I could make a route adjustment without too much trouble. 

The ‘extension’ section off the run was pretty unimpressive, and involved lots of suburban streets and ended up pretty close to the main freeway south.  Despite a sore left hammy, my pace was good and although the scenery wasn’t fantastic, I was enjoying the run.  After a brief (accidental) section through the Shell Cove Links Golf Course, I cross the rail line at Dunmore Rail Station, and the scenic quality of the run improved considerably.  There is a gorgeous bike/ footpath that runs through a corridor of coastal forest and mangrove, and I peeled off a serene couple of kilometers.

At Minnamurra, the Kiama Coast Walk proper began, and there were a number of council street signs indicating the way to The Blowhole at Kiama.  After a nice tour of some parkland at the southern entrance to Rockblow Creek, it was the first beach section along Kiama Downs.  The low tide made the sand running easy, and I was soon at the impressive Cathedral Rocks area.  I had a course marked that took me up and over Cathedral Rocks, and that was a mistake.  After some scrambling through the thick, steep coastal shrub just back from the cliffs, it was apparent there was no path, and I back-tracked to the nearest road section, and went up and over the hill onto Bombo Beach.  There were plenty of signposts in this area, and confirming that my course was correct was easy.

Bombo Beach passed quicky, and then it was some slow travel as I small-stepped on exposed tidal rock platforms around to Kiama Harbour.  This section would be impassable if the tide was high enough or the sea conditions were up, so take care in this area.  Getting back onto the pavement at Kiama had me doing a lap of the headland around the lighthouse and past the Blowhole, with the area packed with Sunday day-trippers enjoying the sunshine and a warm (for a change) spring day.

I passed my family who were enjoying the park near the Kiama Surf Club, and travelled the paved path along the coast line out to Easts Beach, just south of Kiama.  At Easts, the newly-opened section of the Coast Walk is predominantly through cow paddocks (that have recently been opened for public through-fare), and up and over numerous ravines and small rock beaches along the coast.  While its only around 6km from Easts Beach to Werri  Lagoon, the track conditions here are the most difficult of the whole Coast Walk.  Because of all the rain last week, the gullies that drained towards the coast were quite muddy, and climbing up hills with mud-covered runners quickly becomes energy sapping.  The climbs are frequent and steep in sections, and my legs became pretty tired.  Seeing humpbacks breaching just off the coast was a great distraction.

The last decent into Werri Lagoon soon arrived, and after a knee-deep crossing that removed a lot of the accumulated mud, it was a quick 2km along the back of the beach, one final hill and then a steep descent (yet again smiley) at the side of the cemetery before arriving at Gerringong Boat Ramp.  The total distance was 33.62km with a total times of 3:28, which wasn’t too bad considering the steep and wet terrain, and the time lost looking for the track.

The only downer was the camera housing fogged up (I guess from the humid day and the warmth generated from my head), and this meant that all the footage I captured was rubbish.  Hopefully the application of some anti-fog coating on the housing will stop this problem happening next time.  My forehead is also a little bruised from the constant bump up and down of the housing over 3.5 hours. 

I intended to do the run again soon with the knowledge gained from the first pass-through and produced a trail guide of the route to encourage others to check out this great coastal trail.

Trying out a new trail run at Kiama on Sunday 

Posted by Nick Thursday, November 04, 2010 8:00:00 PM

This is a new trail (well mostly trail, with some road and beach thrown in) run that I'm going to enjoy this Sunday.  It incorporates the full length of the newly complete Kiama Coast Walk with a Bass Point extension thrown in to make it a linear 30km or so.

Hope the rain holds off, or at least decreases in intensity - its bucketing down now.  I get the feeling that crossing the beach at Werri Lagoon is going to be very wet.

Trail Guides now with Embedded Google Maps 

Posted by Nick Wednesday, November 03, 2010 8:40:00 PM

I've updated the Coast Track and Heathcote Loop trail guides to now include Google Maps overviews of the trail, so getting a quick feel for the course is now easier.

One of the interesting things I noticed doing the various GPS data file conversions to get the tracks into Google Maps is the huge difference between the MapMyRun and Google Earth elevation data for a course.  My Garmin 405 read the Coast Track as 1036m ascent and 1167 descent, MapMyRun has the same route as a pitiful 264m ascent and 272m decent, while Google Earth has 861m ascent and  976m descent.  Huge differences, to the point of making an elevation discussion meaningless without referencing the source.

Enjoy the trails, and feedback and track suggestions always welcome! :)

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