Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Flat glorious trails!

Well there we have it! Finally a somewhat normal week of training and exercise. It was such a buzz getting through to Sunday and having the body feeling in good shape.

The plan after seeing my physio was to run every second day and doing plenty of stretching/strengthening in between.

Monday involved a casual half hour paddle before work. Was going to have the day off but the weather was so nice so I decided to have a quick one before work.

Tuesday was a 10km run along the Heritage trail. It is  really nice and flat trail from Boya so good to utilise this area while I am staying away from the hills in my build up. Ran approx.  47mins for the 10km increasing the pace once I turned around and things felt really good.

Wednesday was a gym session doing my exercises and also some upper body weights as well. The exercises have now had 5kg weights added to make them a little harder which I am finding is going really well. My core seems to be stronger and have more control doing these. Nice to do something different in upper body weights which I very rarely do.

Thursday's run was bumped up to 15km along a different section of the Heritage trail with Adam. The plan was to take this really easy as it was the longest hit out since my time off running. I planned on about 5min k's for the first half and then speed up a bit on the return. We were soon doing 4:50min k's on the way out which was seeming easy and came home a touch quicker. Average pace was 4:44min k's so pretty quick but felt well within myself which was great. It was a good run also in the sense that as we went along I felt like I hadn't lost too much with my time off and the pace was really comfortable (conversation pace).

Friday was a complete day off with plenty of stretching and hydrating in preparation for Saturdays run. 

On Saturday I met with James and his sister Amy at Helena Valley Primary School to head out for 20km along the Western Australian Marathon Club King of the Mountain course. James and Amy planned on doing the full 15km out and back to make 30km but I was strictly sticking to my gradual increase up to 20km for today. My personal plan was to take the first 10km really easy and then when James and Amy carried on I was hoping to increase the pace slightly heading home. It ended up that James and Amy decided to do the 20km with me so the final 10km ended up at a nice pace back to the cars. It was a really nice run and nice to run somewhere different.

Sunday was a rest/gym day. Working on some more core exercises and stretching.

It feels like I have made a real turn in the right direction with my training this last week. I feel like I am in control of how things are going and I feel I have more purpose with each training session/strength & stretching routine. I truly feel that my exercises have assisted hugely with getting me back on track and happily running again. I'm really enjoying being back on the trails and looking forward to another gradual increase in training next week.

Start of the Heritage Trail from Boya

James and Amy on the King of the Mountain course.

Me on the KOM course on Saturday.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Finding light in other places...

Something doesn't quite feel right.... nah it's getting better.... I think it's gone! About 5km later it's back... damn I knew it wasn't right! It seems that scenario has been playing over and over in my training the past while before the recent 5 weeks off I have had, hence the lack of exciting blog posts with photo's that make up for some pretty random running stories :)

It has been a bag of emotions the last couple of months, the elation of finishing my first 100km trail race, feeling unstoppable the days after, and then a little over a week later feeling pretty weak and sore. The only problem was that during my approximate 6 days of invincibility I managed to convince myself (which didn't take much!) that it was a good idea to enter in the Great North Walk 100km. At the time it was 8 weeks away and I thought there was going to be no problem at all in recovering and then getting another nice training block in before tapering and then racing again.

The problem/dilemma I have always had is that I find any way humanly possible to find positive light amongst injuries or body aches. If it feels microscopically better then surely I am good to go right? Since the Glasshouse 100km in Brisbane I have had a hamstring tendon issue. Initially nothing too concerning hence why after a 2 week break I felt good to go and run the half marathon in Esperance, running 76mins.

Fast forward 7 weeks and here I am after having the past 5 weeks or so off after tearing my calf muscle and also trying to deal with the persistent hamstring tendon injury. There was some slight hope that the Great North Walk was going to happen after a couple of solid weeks training but before I could gain full momentum my calf was more than happy to let me know this was in no way going to happen!

So after a few physio acupuncture sessions and the final call to have a rest to get things right, I was left with the prospect of time on the sidelines waiting for the legs to come right. For once I felt like I was really listening to my body and not just taking the "it'll be right" attitude like usual. After reading blogs and listening to the Talk Ultra Podcasts, I realised that I don't have to be racing/training full on for every minute I am awake. We all need rest and downtime to get refreshed and ready for the next challenge ahead. I have learnt that there is no point in going all guns blazing for as long as possible and just seeing what happens. "What happens" I have found really really sucks! What happens can also come along really quickly and can leave you wondering how the hell did that happen?

Lucky I am new to this whole ultra running thing and can be excused for making so many rookie errors. So much of this year has been in the unknown. How long do I need to recover? How many races is too many? How many km's per week is too much? How many hills per week is too much?

I have been taking on board everything that has happened the last 5 weeks and have been thinking as the year comes to an end of what went right and what could have gone better. I'll go into this more in another post but It is safe to say I will be doing my absolute best to find the balance with training and racing and also non-running activities. Balance is so crucial in everything, whether you are an Olympic runner or a high profile businessman. It doesn't matter what you are trying to excel in, you need balance to prevent tipping the scales and burning out.

The past week has been fantastic, getting plenty of kayaking in and after a final visit with the physio I have been given the all clear to ease back into running. I ran 5km on Thursday which was amazing and then 7km on Sunday which was even better. For the first time in what seems like forever I am running without any niggles or pain.

Something else that has been awesome was last week when Liz and I went for a "walk" out at Lesmurdie Falls. I decided that it would be pretty cool to try and climb up the side of the falls. Part scrambling/part free climbing, this is hands down the most fun outdoor activity I have done in a while. I have since been back finding new routes up the falls having an absolute blast doing so!

Another great thing to come out of the downtime was the creation of a new strengthening program that I am now using in order to help strengthen my core muscles, mainly glutes, hip flexors etc.

So things are definitely looking up and I am really looking forward to easing back into things and coming back stronger than before. Only a few weeks left of work for the year and then have a decent break so I'm hoping to make the most of the time off, especially when the old man is here so we can go for plenty of runs!

Me at the start of the climb

The view from the bottom of Lesmurdie Falls, not much water now we are heading into summer but nice there is still a little.

Half way down a pretty sketchy descent on the second outing.

After the final ascent on Friday I went for a walk and this is looking back towards Perth City.

2012 is by no means over, but I am really looking forward to seeing what 2013 is going to bring. For the month of December it will be mostly easy running with plenty of cross-training to keep those scales level, and likely numerous Lesmurdie trips as well!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Hills, Hills and more hills!

The goal for this week was to get into the hills and get some confidence back in the legs and know I am going to be sweet tackling the hills at the Great North Walk in a few weeks. Since the Glasshouse 100 I hadn't been able to train much due to a few niggling injuries so I was really excited about starting a week feeling good and with the body in much better shape.

Monday was a pretty quiet day as planned where I saw Nathan in the morning before heading to work for my first day since the holidays. The massage went awesome as usual and I ran a nice 7km after work to Burswood to meet Liz to go for a walk.

On Tuesday I left home early and headed out to Kalamunda to spend the morning out there on the Bibbulmun and Munda Biddi. I always love going out there and it is definitely a favourite spot of mine. I ran along the Bibb to where it joins the Munda Biddi and then took to the MB for just over an hour. Along the MB i had my first stack in a while. I was so zoned out that I clearly forgot to lift my feet and fell over. I first thought that I might have popped my camel back bladder, luckily I hadn't. However I had managed to scratch up and bang up my near brand new iPhone that I always use for the camera. After that I headed out to the Mundaring Weir which was the turnaround point. All up it was bang on 4 hours and 43km with just under 1200m elevation gain. I felt really solid throughout the session and ran the final few hills back up to the car really strong.

Wednesday morning involved meeting Dan at the Fire station where he works to leave from there. Looking back at this run it was probably one of the most enjoyable runs I have done in a while. Some new scenery, new trails and more road running than I have done in recent times. We went up a really cool path up to Kings Park called the Kokoda Trail which was pretty steep with some nice steps. Once we were up at Kings Park it was follow the leader as Dan seemed to find every hill imaginable up there which was awesome. The hill of the day would have to be this 1.2km grassy clearing that leads up to the DNA lookout tower. The hill itself was nothing too steep but so much different from most of the running I have been doing lately. And the view from the top was pretty choice too!

After catching up with Liz for lunch I was out to the old stomping ground at Lesmurdie Falls. I have spent so much time out here the last few months but seemed I hadn't been there in a while so was stoked I was going to be able to squeeze in an hour or so before heading to work. It was a bit warmer this afternoon which worked in with my whole 'trying to run in the heat' preparation. Just over 11km with a few nice hills was a great way to end the day training.

Thursday morning was back to the Bibbulmun with James coming along as well. The plan was to just go for a couple of hours but ended up being a bit longer. It was an absolute cracker of a morning to be running. The legs felt a little tired today but pretty good considering the week to date. Once again it was a tad warmer which was good weather to be training in.

I ended up taking a rest day on Friday with the intention of freshening up for Saturday's run. I also went in to see the physio today to get some more acupuncture done on my calf muscle and hamstring to loosen things up. Initially after the physio appointment I was a little worried as my calf muscle was feeling really really tight and sore. However this passed as the afternoon went on and I was hopeful that Saturday's run was going to be a good one.

Saturday was another relatively early start meeting James and an Irish bloke Thomas in Kalamunda. The plan was to meet there and then take one car south to start on the Bibbulmun around the Mt Cooke area. I was really excited about today's run as it involved running up and over three of the highest points on the Darling Scarp. Mt Cooke stands at 582m, not overly high but high enough that it is a decent climb up to the top. We parked on Millar Log Road and planned to do an out and back over Mt Cooke and then another out and back the opposite direction over Mt Vincent and Mount Cuthbert. The pace was relatively quick from the get go this morning for some apparent reason. Probably due to me having rather fresh legs after taking Friday off. I was also pretty keen to get a really good session in today and also do it in the forecasted 28deg.

What can I say about the run itself.... It was by far the most fantastic run I have done on Australian soil. The single trails leading up to Mt Cooke were fantastic and then the final grind up to the top was great also. The decent over the other side was truly awesome!! There were these amazing rock slabs that went on for hundreds of metres. For once on Australian trail there were no markers and just rock cairns to lead the way. I was like a kid in a toy shop running down there, just hammering it down the side of the mountain.

Once we got back to the car after the first out and back we headed off in the other direction along the Bibb to tackle Mt Vincent and Mt Cuthbert. The initial climb up the trail from the road where the car was parked was relatively steep but runnable. It was here I said to James and Thomas that they were more than welcome to push ahead on this out and back if they wanted to as I planned to take it a little easier. That plan didn't really last long at all. The main problem I have with running trails and in particular hills is that I hate taking hills easy. They are by far the most enjoyable part of trail running for me so love the challenge of a grind to the top. Once we go to the top of Mt Vincent, James decided to cruise back to the car from there. So Thomas and I carried on to go over Mt Cuthbert and then drop down to the Monadnocks Campsite which was just over 5km from where James left. The climb up to Mt Cuthbert and return was pretty tough. By then it had heated up to around 28-30deg and Thomas was definitely feeling the heat. I don't blame the poor guy, coming from wearing gore tex jackets, beanie and gloves to this was a huge difference!

On the way back we ran pretty solid and I also managed to completely miss a snake I had jumped over top of. Just a small one but big enough that Thomas called out for me to come back and have a look. Really makes you remember that you have to keep an eye out as sometimes they are so hard to see.

It was such an awesome run and great to be running with two super fit guys to push each other along. Thomas is also looking to qualify and then run at the World 100km Champs in 2013 in South Korea, something that I am looking into as well so will be great to get many more training sessions in like this one. Thomas currently holds the Irish record for the 100km at 7hr5min so If I can learn as much as I can off him I will be in good stead.

It's now less than 3 weeks until James and I head over to run the Great North Walk 100. I'm really looking forward to this challenge and relishing the opportunity to get in the hills and have a tough task ahead. I have been reading through forums and blogs about the GNW which all mention how tough, hilly and technical the course is and also how hot it normally is. It seems like everything about this race is going to suit my strengths being hills and technical terrain. The more of that there is, the less flat fast stuff I have to run :)

It was fantastic to get some good quality training in this week with also having a few rest/easy days to keep the legs in good shape. I am now in preparation for the GNW and thinking about getting my body in the best possible shape for the race. The training build up has been no where near as settled as the lead up to Glasshouse, however my legs are feeling stronger than they did despite this. Only time will tell!

Total km's for the week was 155.2km
Total elevation gain was 4102m

The awesome rock slabs coming back up to Mt Cooke from the South

Mt Cooke hut is only 5.5km from the car park

Thomas doing an Irish pose....?

Thomas at the top of Mt Cooke (582m)


Thomas running some rocky downhill

James and Thomas on the top of Mt Vincent (486m)

Sunday, 14 October 2012

All aboard the Ultramarathon Roller Coaster....

The past few weeks have involved a lot of ups and downs. Since the Esperance Half Marathon on the 30th September I have been having a few issues with my hamstring tendon and popliteus muscle which has meant I have done very little training, and the training I have done has not had much quality to it at all. On the Thursday after Esperance I met Adam and James out at the Heritage Rail Trail to do an easy 1.5hrs along there. To be honest, the most exciting part about this run was trying out a new nutrition product from Hammer Nutrition called Perpetuem. Perpetuem as far as Ultra running nutrition goes is the bees knees from what I had heard so after completing the Glasshouse 100 I was pretty keen to try some of this.

The Perpetuem seemed to work a treat and my energy levels maintained consistency throughout the run, although it's hard to get a real gauge on such a short run. The rest of the run with Adam and James was pretty average. My leg wasn't too happy, not enough to make me stop or slow at all but enough to keep reminding me it was there. I decided after this run that I really needed to get things right before I even thought about running again. Back to the drawing board...

The day after the run along the heritage trail I went and saw a new physio to get his opinions and thoughts on what exactly was going on with this leg of mine. After a quick analysis he told me that due to having really tight upper hamstrings & glutes it was putting a lot of pressure through the hamstring tendon and in effect causing pain in the popliteus. So..... five minutes later I had a leg full of needles and was clutching at the sheet on the physio table.

The next day I was feeling the benefits of the physio treatment and was optimistic things were going to turn for the best. Liz and I were heading down to do the Cape to Cape for our honeymoon/one year anniversary which is a 135km hike from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin on the south west coast of WA. After 13km and 5 snakes we decided to pull the pin and take an alternative route down the coast. I was pretty happy with this decision also for the fact my hamstring tendon wasn't too happy being under the load of a 20kg pack walking along the sandy beach.

I didn't run again until the Wednesday with frequent self massage and icing during this period to try and get things to settle again. By this stage I was starting to get pretty annoyed with my current situation as it had been near on 4 weeks since Glasshouse and all I had really done running wise was the Esperance half marathon. So in the space of a little over 2 months I had gone from running near on every day and absolutely loving how things were going, doing Glasshouse and then seeing things slowly ease back to basically no running at all. It has mainly been so frustrating because my body apart from the mentioned injuries has been feeling absolutely fantastic, I started feeling much better even only 3-4 days after Glasshouse.

I got a short run in on some really nice trail in Margaret River on Tuesday 9th October, only 30mins which went pretty well, no pain as such but things didn't feel 100% still. No snakes so pretty stoked with that too!

On Wednesday, I managed to get a 2hr run in when we were in Augusta on a relatively warm day. The Great North Walk 100km in November is likely to be very warm so I was pleased to get a run in and also in the heat. The run went pretty well, apart from forgetting to take any food or gels (I'm pretty good at forgetting that!). I ran some really cool trails in and around the air strip and then headed out towards Cape Leeuwin. It wasn't until about 3km from the house that I started feeling the leg again. Nothing too major but definitely that same pain. A pretty good run and saw a really cool Monitor Lizard which was pretty awesome!

When we returned to Perth on the Friday I was feeling good and optimistically hoping I could go for a run. I headed out to Kalamunda aiming at around a 1hr30min jog/run along some of my favourite trails. FINALLY!!! I managed to get through a run with NO pain at all. I was so happy running along and just loving being back on the trails. If anyone was watching me I would have looked like a real loose unit gallivanting around the bush with a massive smile on my face. I just couldn't get enough!

Saturday morning involved an early morning run around the Swan River with fellow Hoka lover Dan. We did an easy 14km with the final few km pushing into a fresh breeze. Dan has just been getting back into running since footy finished for the season in preparation for the Anaconda Adventure Race and is already running pretty well with a month or so to go before the race!

Saturday afternoon was a catch up with James on the Bib again for 2hrs of great trails. Once again I finished this run feeling really good and stoked with the progress I was making and how the body was pulling up after each run.

Sunday morning involved meeting James at his place in Kalamunda and then we headed to the Bib again but much further south in search of some new trail. The run started off with a bit of drizzle but that soon passed. We just planned on doing an out and back to keep things simple. I tried the Cafe Latte flavour of the Perpetuem in a 3hr bottle today which was interesting. I based the mixture off the directions online and then soon found out that there were new directions based on body weight and I had put too much powder in. Whoops! Long story short, I was thankful for the huts along the way and more so the long drop toilet facilities that they had. Rookie error number one with the Perpetuem, fingers crossed there aren't too many more. It was great to get out on a new trail and explore a new part of the Bib. I also managed to convince James it was a good idea to run back up a few hills just off the Bib which was real fun too!

So basically the last week of running has been going really well! I have managed to put together a pretty solid week and I am really happy with how things are going. I am seeing my massage therapist Nathan tomorrow so looking forward to giving the legs a good shake out.

The other super exciting, absolutely awesome news that has happened in the past 2 weeks is that I now have RaceReady Australia taking me on as a sponsored athlete. I am stoked to have their support and am really looking forward to seeing where things go with it as they have some truly outstanding products, mainly their super pocket shorts. I have been running in these shorts religiously since moving to Australia so I was over the moon when they approached me. Go to if you would like to check out some of their gear. The shorts are outstanding and really awesome for carrying gels, tablets, gloves, cell phone etc etc and as I have found out this week the shirts and singlets are really comfortable to run in as well!!

The last couple of weeks as you can see have been a real roller coaster of a ride and I am so happy to be where I am now, 4 weeks out from the Great North Walk 100 and starting to feel like I am getting back to normal and I am excited about the next few weeks training and getting some really good hills in.

Total distance : 116.7km
Elevation gain: 2,184m

Running along the Bib with my flash new RaceReady gear :)

Some colourful flowers :)

The trail I ran along in Margaret River

The Blackwood River in Margaret River at sunset

Along the Airstrip

Running alongside the Airstrip in Augusta

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse viewed from the scenic route

Amazing coastline in Augusta

Monitor Lizard on the scenic route to Cape Leeuwin

Brookton Hut on the Bib

Some nice fast Bibbulmun trail

Top of Mt Dale

Monday, 1 October 2012

Esperance 1/2 Marathon - 2012

This past week has been another week of ups and downs as far as how the body has been feeling. After having a recovery week last week the plan was to do much of the same this week in hope I would feel ok heading into the Esperance 1/2 Marathon. This hamstring tendon niggle I have is getting a bit tedious now, it decides on a daily basis of how it is going to feel. 

I had a couple of massages from Nathan at Massageworks HQ this week. It's great having so much confidence in someone who seems to always work things out regarding any niggles or tight muscles. I made an executive decision early this week that I wasn't going to get a hell of a lot out of pushing it too much and running this week before Esperance. 

On the Friday after we arrived in Esperance I decided I should probably test out this damn hamstring tendon and see if he was going to play nice for me. The plan was a short 8km along the Esperance sea front with a 2km interval at race pace. The whole run went really nicely. Liz my wonderful wife came along on the bike which was fun. The 2km at race pace went awesome and the hamstring felt fine. Stopping about 300m from home and walking the last wee bit was good to shake the legs out.

I find it really interesting running fast for such a short time. I think that is the ultra runner/trail runner coming out in me but I find myself questioning whether I enjoy running fast or not. I appreciate all forms of running being 100 metres or 100 miles, and I think it's great that there is a distance for everyone. 

The forecast for race day was near on perfect and Esperance certainly delivered! The forecast read 23deg and sunny with the wind not coming in until 11am. I am pretty naive in general when it comes to warming up and for most of the running I do I tend to plug in the headphones, crank on some crazy fast dance music for a couple of minutes before the race and pretend like I know what I'm doing. As far as warming up for a half marathon, I wasn't too sure what to do. Thankfully I remembered Nathan mentioning something about stride outs at race pace or something similar so I rolled with this. 

I got on the start line feeling quite chuffed that the body was really warm and feeling pretty good. I was pretty nervous before the race started as I really had no idea how this was going to pan out. I had a rough time in mind but no idea if this was really achievable based on my current training and also coming off the Glasshouse 100km 2 weeks ago.

We started and quickly there was a lead group of around 5 runners cruising along at 3:30 pace. Almost instantly we were feeling the wind as it had picked up in the last half hour before the race. After the first lap of 7ish km (22:46) the 5 soon became 2. A couple of young guns had pushed the envelope a little too hard early on. Starting out on the 2nd lap I worked out I had about a 5 sec lead on 2nd place who was breathing down my neck and appeared to be running strongly. The main issue with the wind was heading out to the Castletown turnaround point which was a mere 3.5km so I was pretty happy to push a little harder to maintain a reasonable pace. By the time I got to Castletown I had extended the lead to about 30 seconds.

The tail wind on the way back to the start finish line was awesome. It certainly made maintaining pace a little easier than on the way out. I ran pretty cautiously on the way back as I knew I still had another stint into the wind coming up which I wanted to run strong. A quick swig of water at the start/finish turnaround and I was off on the final push of the race. As I headed off on the final lap I soon realised I had a pretty comfortable lead which was pleasing. I still wanted to run well into the wind as anything can happen. The final km before the turn was where I think the memories from the Glasshouse 100km came back to say hello. The quads pretty quickly became heavier and I was quite thankful that I only had a km or so before I got to bring it home with a nice breeze at my back.

The final 3.5km to the finish was really fun. Seeing second place a wee bit behind enabled me to ease back slightly and really enjoy the final few kms. Running past the 5 & 10km runners as they were heading out was fun and good to say hello to a few people as they went by.

I crossed the line in 76:42 to win and beat my only other half marathon time of 84mins. I was really stoked with how the body held up after how the last few weeks had gone and considering Glasshouse was only 2 weeks earlier. After a quick dip into the ocean to cool the legs down I headed back to the start finish area where a good mate of mine Grant Wholey came in at 93mins. A PB for him I believe and well under the running calculator time of 97mins. Good luck to Grant at the Melbourne Marathon in 2 weeks time.

I had new shoes on my feet for the race being the Hoka One One Stinson Evo Tarmacs. These shoes arrived on Thursday before the race so I wasn't going to have weeks to wear them in and soften them up. That didn't really bother me in the slightest as I had pretty much done similar things when I got the Bondi B's. I was able to do my quick 8km on Friday in them to at least see how they felt. WOW! Talk about comfort. It literally feels like you are being propelled forward with every step! I'll do a full review of the Tarmacs once I have put a few more km's in them but they were outstanding as far as performance goes and I was really happy to be running in them on race day. They made running on bitumen fun ;) A huge thank you to Roger at Hoka Australia for organising those for me. 

A big thank you to the race directors and all of the aid station volunteers for running such a smooth race. Your smiles and cheering was awesome! It was great to race in Esperance this year, as last year I was busy getting married! A pretty good reason to skip a race ;) Thanks to the number one cheer-squad in WA - Livy, Madi, Amitty, Faye and of course Liz for cheering me along on the way.

I'm almost glad in a way that this race is over now so I can get back to the trails and back to a part of running that I really love. It was really cool to run a relatively quick time and know I still have speed despite my current training regime being a bit slower and longer to get ready for 100km races. I cannot wait for the Great North Walk 100, bring it on!!

And we're off!


Running along the sea front

Stretching that damn hammy!
Cooling the legs down after the race

Before the start

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Week Summary week ending 23/9/12

This week was always going to be interesting for a few reasons. How was I going to pull up after running my first 100km race, was I going to bounce back quick enough to do the Esperance Half Marathon in just over 10 days time? The first few days were as expected, the quads felt a bit ginger but nothing too serious. Then by Wednesday I was feeling a lot fresher and feeling pretty good about things. Apart from a slight twinge in my quad and Popliteus (Muscle in back of the knee) my legs were feeling outstanding. The quad niggle and popliteus pain came on at probably the 20km mark in the race so I knew they were going to be a bit inflamed post race.

I decided to go for a really quiet jog on Wednesday as I was getting really itchy feet having so many days off running. I only went 2km as I didn't want to overdo it. My quad was a bit tight still but popliteus was fine.

I decided to take the next few days off as I figured it would do no harm to rest up some more. Despite feeling really great I still had lingering pain in those two areas.

By Sunday the quad niggle had completely gone so I decided to head out for a short run around the river with Dan. We only covered about 6km at a pretty steady pace. Things felt quite good in general but still a lingering pain in the Popliteus. What does this mean for Esperance.....? I'm not too sure. I need to listen to my body despite what my head is telling me to do. This is probably the hardest time for a runner, when you feel just about 100% but you aren't. The need to relax and rest up is so crucial, as recovery is a huge component of training and racing.

I have a massage appointment booked with Nathan next week so no doubt he will know what to do. He has a knack for getting me back on the trails!!

Some more exciting news this week included me entering in the Great North Walk 100km race in November. I decided after Glasshouse and how things went there that I would love to give a tougher race with more elevation a crack. I think the GNW race suits me better as there are just more hills and it is more technical. I can't wait for this challenge.

Now I just need to shake a couple of niggles before I can get back to my favourite part of the whole running and racing thing, training. I get such a buzz out of being able to run trails every day. Have an escape from cars, cell phones and copious amounts of people. I am really hanging out for Esperance to be over so I can concentrate on that.

So overall it was a pretty interesting week with lots of things happening and things to get excited about for the near future. 1 week on and I feel I learnt so much from Glasshouse and I will take a lot of it with me into my next training block for GNW100.  Also a massive congratulations to my running mate James who placed 5th Overall at the Surf Coast Century 100km on Saturday and he also ran the quickest individual time for the final 14km section, good job!!

Some useful links:

A beautiful morning running along the Swan River

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Glasshouse Mountains 100km Race Report

I have been writing notes on the back of napkins and on my phone to ensure I capture and remember all of the wonderful parts that made up the Glasshouse 100. The lead up to this race was like none other that I have been part of. I have never had to physically or mentally prepare myself for anything like this.

Training wise leading up to this race it went really well. I was so excited at the prospect of actually being able to train consistently leading up to a race and not use the excuse of surgery or recovery as my reasons for why I didn't train much. For those that have been following this blog I had been ticking over training weeks of around 130-180km for the past 5 weeks. Apart from a 5 day patch that I had off due to rolling my ankle things went pretty well.

On the Friday, the day before the race, the plan was to have a pretty casual morning getting a few final things sorted. I even managed to get hold of the same protein drink in Brisbane that I used in the Kep Ultra back in June which was a bonus. At 2pm Dad and I met up with my mate Rob D and his new friend Chen from China. Chen is a runner who has competed in the Western States 100, The North Face Endurance Challenge, Gobi Desert Race and many more. He doesn't speak a word of English but through some modern technology being the iPad and a translator app we were able to communicate.

We took off and drove around a fair chunk of the course checking out some of the aid stations and track crossings and pretty much taking in everything we could. The Glasshouse Mountains area is truly fantastic with amazing scenery everywhere. It was a real bonus being able to look over some of the course albeit from the car. After we got back I picked up my race number and race pack with my event t-shirt which was pretty cool.

We hung around the Beerburrum Primary School for an hour or two waiting for the race briefing at 6.30pm. Dad and I decided to go for a walk along the first 9.7km section from the school covering about 2-3km before heading back to the car. It was really cool having pops there to share what was going to be one of my biggest challenges to date. Dad has a really good way of putting things into perspective and just generally being a great person to talk to about all things running.

The race briefing was exactly that. A pretty brief chat covering everything that needed to be said. When the Race Director Ian Javes was explaining the course it was quite remarkable and as if he was literally walking you around the course as we were there. Upon arriving home, Mum, Auntie Mitzi and Liz had been preparing a massive pre race meal for us. Some yummy chicken and this crazy rice pasta. The Italian name I can't remember but it was great.

The rest of the night was spent making final preparations and making sure I had everything just where it needed to be before the big race.

Now I know they say you don't get much sleep the night before a race but I think I took this theory to a whole new level. I was in bed by about 9.30pm, and nearly to the minute 1 hour later I woke up feeling like it was morning. I was absolutely gutted to look at my phone and see 2230 on the screen. However, I managed to be back asleep not too long after and didn't wake until 4am after running through the race in my sleep numerous times.

Race morning was fantastic. After attending a Hammer Nutrition seminar held by Steve Born (a multiple RAM finisher amongst other incredible feats) a week before the race I was trying out his theory on pre race nutrition. The biggest thing I took out of this was that it was better off for me to not eat breakfast before the race if I couldn't do it at least 3hours before hand. I'll go into this more another time.

We were all packed up and made our way back to Beerburrum Primary School. We weren't there long before I was setting off on what was going to be my toughest physical and mental adventure yet. 

The race started with a really nice 10km loop which finished back at the school. It was a pretty flat loop and really enjoyable. For the first time this year I wasn't the first one off the start line and in fact there were several people ahead of me. For some reason I was just so content on cruising along and taking in some of the scenery. Chen had the right idea and had a camera in his pack and took a few photos during this loop. There were numerous guys and girls that took off ahead of me including pre race favourites Ben Duffus and Dan Nunan and Chen. After 3km I kept thinking when am I going to see these guys again, am I going to be able to catch them later on??

Upon returning to the school I swapped my handheld bottle for my pack and headed off up the road to tackle Mt Beerburrum. This was my first eye opener on the course as we headed up Mt Beerburrum. The initial 4wd trail heading up was all runnable and relatively tame. Then once we hit the bitumen single path things got fun. It was a really good slog up the hill, steeper than anything Perth has on offer and I actually enjoyed it. Upon reaching the summit I was being passed going the other way by quite a few runners. I had gone up the hill with eventual 100 mile winner Ian Gallagher and last years 100km winner Oliver Zambon so thought that the pace we were going must be sensible. 

I ran the next section from the bottom of Mt Beerburrum through to Checkpoint 4 with the two 100mile runners Ian and Oliver and also Damian, another 100 miler. We were going along pretty cruisey and I was really enjoying the scenery and having a chat with them. It was more or less fire trail through this section with a nice section of single track thrown in there too. After running through the checkpoint at CP 5, I started pulling away from the 100 mile guys, not through intentionally doing so. During this section I caught up to a guy who had taken off from the start line too fast and he wasn't really moving too fast. Not long later i caught Ben Duffus, one of the pre race favourites and we ran together for about 6-7km. It was nice running along with someone and we had a pretty good chat. We passed through checkpoint 6 and then soon caught the race leader Dan Nunan. We then all ran together along some technical trails with some nice elevation gain thrown in and it was here when I started thinking that maybe I was going to do alright in this race. It was great fun running along with these guys and they seemed like top blokes. I seemed to pull away from the two guys on the hillier sections and then they were running faster to catch up on the flat. We did a bit of cat and mouse through to CP 6P before dropping down into the valley to tackle the power lines section. 

We had gone to CP 6P the day before with Rob and Chen to check it out as we heard that it was the toughest part of the course. We didn't run any of the course itself but had a look and took a few photos of where the trail went. After dropping into the valley I needed to take a nature stop so let Ben and Dan take off ahead of me. Once again I was left thinking when am I going to see these guys again. It was a decision I had to make to stop but I knew I would run better afterwards so wasn't a hard decision. About 10 minutes later I caught back up to the guys without expending any more energy than I wanted to which was pleasing. Gradually as this section went on I started to pull away from the two guys and entered the aid station at checkpoint 8 on my own. Here I had my weight checked for the first time which was bang on where I had started which was cool. My hydration and nutrition must be working I thought.

I then left CP 8 in really good spirits and I was just having a fantastic time. As I left in conversation with Liz I said my legs were feeling really good. At this point an aid station volunteer said that will change after the loop. The loop at CP 8 was really cool, some really nice trail through here and I was running along well. I had forgotten to ask what pace I was targeting for this section so stayed around 5min10sec per km as this was achieved quite easily. On this section I had my closest encounters with some wildlife being this big lizard thing and a big snake of some description. Seeing the snake definitely made me realise I needed to keep an eye out as I didn't want to have to use my compression bandage if I didn't have to. 

After the loop and returning to CP8 Liz told me that Uncle Glen and my wee cousins Harrison and Connor were going to be at CP7 waiting there. This gave me a real buzz and something to look forward to. This section was pretty good going, a few hills thrown in but all went well, and still no sign of Ben or Dan. In the back of my mind I was still thinking that either one of those two were going to come roaring past or even my new friend Chen the Chinese Ultra Man. I made sure I didn't do anything silly or get too carried away as there was still a loooong way to go. At the approach to CP7 I heard Liz calling out support and cheering and I could also see my wee cousins standing on the trail and as I got closer I could hear Harrison yelling run fast Scotty, run fast. It was so cool to have my family there cheering me on and supporting me. There was no sign of the other runners along the dirt road so things were still going well.

I headed off to do the loop at checkpoint 7 which I think was about 7km. About 4.5km in or 68km into the race disaster struck. I got to a track intersection which was a little confusing to say the least. Long story short, I missed the painted arrows on the ground on the inside left turn and carried on straight ahead following the usual white tape tied to trees. Turns out there was an equestrian event on the week before and they used the same white tape as we were. I think I got about 1 to 1.5km along here before deciding to head back to where I knew I had last seen Glasshouse markers. On the return I saw the painted arrows indicating to go left and when I looked further down the trail I saw Dan coming up towards me. I yelled out to him to turn left here so he didn't risk doing the same as me. I was a bit frustrated about getting lost but that's just part of trail running. Dan was walking up a hill that I ran up when I saw him so despite being gutted he had caught up I was confident that I could pull away from him again.

By the time I got back to CP6P we think I added about 4mins during a 7.5km section. By this stage Nana Shirley and Auntie Mitzi had tag-teamed with Glen and the boys to cheer me on. A quick drink change and some protein shake and I was away again heading for CP5. Checkpoint 6 through to Checkpoint 5 was by far the toughest section of the course. What I thought was going to be relatively undulating turned out to be just that, but some of the biggest undulations I had come across in a while. There was basically just a lot more power hiking in this section than I predicted. This was fine though as I was still feeling strong and happy to get the job done. Arriving at CP5 I was feeling pretty hot and had been having problems with my visor feeling too tight so I decided to change to my old hat and Liz being the clever one poured some ice cold water into it which was awesome!!

As I left CP 5 (89km) to head for the finish, Dad called out and said I just needed to do sub 6min K's if I wanted to break the old course record. By this stage after getting lost I was just hoping to maintain 1st place and concentrate on finishing well. As I left I began running downhill and felt remarkably strong. I ran the last 11km to the finish really strong and felt great. I kept thinking why am I feeling so good after running 90km already? I put it down to my training and getting some good mileage in the weeks leading up to the race, and also from wearing my Hoka One One shoes. I managed to sneak in a few 4min40sec K's leading into the finish and when I saw my support crew with 2km to go I felt I was going to get there.

I crossed the finish line at the school in 9:04:09 and in first place, and breaking the previous record by just under 10 minutes. I felt overwhelmed with excitement as I had just finished running 100km over some pretty rough terrain with some nice elevation thrown in to keep me honest. We stayed at the school for around about 20mins in which time no one had come in. We then left to go back to Nana Shirley's place to have a rest and get ready for her surprise 60th Birthday Party.

It was an absolutely fantastic day that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was such an awesome experience running that far and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. 

For the surprise dinner that night, despite being dressed up in pants and a dress shirt I convinced Liz that it would still look flash if I wore my Hoka's with my jeans. I tried putting on some other shoes but none compared for comfort with the Hoka's.

I need to thank so many people for helping me achieve this massive goal. Thanks to Cleggy from and Clontarf for covering my Sunday shift allowing me to go. Thanks to the wonderful kitchen ladies at the boarding house for giving me all the food I needed in the weeks leading up to the race. Thanks to all my friends and family for all of your positive messages along the way, they all helped! Thanks to Roger at Hoka One One for suggesting the Bondi B's for me, they were outstanding!! Thanks to my family who were there on the day, it was so special having you there for such an occasion. Thanks to Mum and Dad for being such an awesome support crew with Liz and always being there for support along the way. Thanks Dad for your straight up approach to running a race and getting it done.

A huge, Mc Massive, never going to be big enough thank you to my wonderful wife Liz. I could not achieve any of this without your constant love and support. All of the time we sacrifice spending together so I can head off into the trails and everything you do from cooking wonderful nutritious meals, somehow justifying spending 100's and 1000's of dollars on gear and race stuff, massages at 9.30pm at night and the list goes on. 

This probably/definitely isn't a text book race report by any means as I feel there is more to running a race than the boring nitty gritty details of every kilometre. I hope it gives you a bit of an insight into what made up the Glasshouse 100km for me and feel like you were there for some of the way. 


Me, Rob D, Chen Penbin at the Powerlines section (CP6P)

Just after the start
Near CP8

Along the first 9.7km loop

Mt Tibrogargan

The Hokas and jeans combo, I feel it's working for me ;)

Bill Thompson, 69 years old and finishing the 100miler strong. Inspirational!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Week Summary: 3 Sept - 9 Sept

Mon - AM: Kalamunda - Camel Farm Return
Today's run was the beginning of starting to ease off the training a wee bit leading up to the next race. I started off really casually and got into a good rhythm early until an early pit stop. From here the running was smooth and I was really forcing myself to go slow and not to do anything stupid. My plan was to run to the Camel farm and back. When I arrived at the camel farm I stopped the clock at 41:56. Nearly a whole 2mins quicker than my previous best time and I was taking it really easy and stopped to  go to the toilet. The run back was fun and I managed to hold myself back from hammering the final uphill section bar a couple of spots where I must have 'forgotten' to take it easy.

Tues - AM: Bold Park - Zamia Trail
An easy hour was on the cards today as part of my taper. It was really wet today and I was thankful I had left my rain jacket in the car from the weekend. Despite the lousy weather I had a really enjoyable run taking it super easy. At one point I came across a lady whom I thought was going to catch me based on the speed I was running. I said to myself, even if she does pass me let her go. It never eventuated but reminded me of my competitive nature even on the training grounds against a lady likely double my age. I ran another PB for the Zamia loop on my second lap which was really nice to do despite what seemed like a lack of intensity.

Weds - AM: Munda Biddi Trail - Pickering Brook
I have wanted to head out here for a long time now and finally did. I covered about 5km out here a few weeks back at the end of a big run before turning back for Kalamunda and was really impressed with the quality of trail in this section. I ran 15km total which was a really enjoyable run again. The track is pretty overgrown out here and in need of some track maintenance especially for the cyclists. It was easy enough for me to tip toe around parts but definitely a bit more difficult for the bikes.

Weds - PM: Massage with Nathan at Massage Works HQ

Thurs AM: Munda Biddi Trail - Pickering Brook
After having such a blast out here yesterday I decided to suggest it as an option to Adam and James to head there today. They were both keen for around 15km (ish) so it suited perfectly. After about 4km we missed a turn and gained a bonus km or two before realising and turned around. It's funny how easy it is to miss markers when running with other people and when you are talking. After the turn around point and about 3km, the pace picked up drastically thanks to one Mr A Chinnock. I decided to go with him and discarding my 'take it easy' approach to the next week or so. We managed a 4:03 and a 4:14 and then later on closer to the finish with a 4:13. A great run and really fun to run a little faster for a few km's and not anything too crazy.

Fri AM: Rest day.
I wasn't planning on having a rest day today but it kinda just happened. A few jobs around the house and before I knew It I was at work again. Having the day off made me realise that taper for me needs to include something every day as it was driving me crazy not being able to squeeze a run in.

Saturday AM: Railway Heritage Trail & Eagle View at John Forrest National Park
Meeting time for this mornings run was 7.30am. It was an absolute cracker of a morning apart from a fresh easterly early on. Once we hit the Eagle View Trail we were out of the wind and on some really quality trail. The team for today was Me, Adam, James and Adams mate Simon. It was a pretty leisurely pace for the whole run today which was absolutely fine by me. I was just keen to get 20km or so under the belt niggle free and feeling good. There was only one point on the biggest climb of the run where I once again accidentally took off up the hill. I got 3/4 of the way up and remembered I was tapering. It was also hard today to not get carried away in trying to keep up with James who was running really well despite having calf problems lately. Towards the end of the run a bloke came from nowhere and flew past us going fairly quick, Adam was quite impressed I didn't take off after him and I surprised myself through having the control to stay with the guys. That probably sounds ridiculous to most people but for the people who know me well it is easier said than done :)

Sunday AM: Swan River
WOW!! What a beauty of a morning it was to be running. Probably one of the most enjoyable/funny/nice runs I have done in a few months. Enjoyable in the sense that the weather couldn't be better and nice because I had my lovely wife on the bike again joining me for a training run. And funny because of how hard a time I was having trying to run the pace I am going to have to run at for the beginning of my race. I'm looking at approx.. 5:15-5:20 per km for the first 25km or so and today I was finding it ridiculously hard to run slower than 5min per km. I just took it as it came and really enjoyed a great morning.

Hours: 8:26:15
Distance: 96.1km
Total Ascent: 1817m

This week was really fun. It was cool to run with a few mates later in the week and mix things up a little by heading out to Pickering Brook. Sunday's run was great as it was making me try and prepare myself mentally to have to run slower early on in my race in order to run the latter stages well. It was a big decrease in mileage but still good to nearly get 100km in. The body is in absolute top shape at the moment and I am really enjoying myself.

Eagle View Trail @ John Forrest National Park

Eagle View

Heritage Rail Trail

Monday, 3 September 2012

Week Summary: 27 Aug - 2 Sept

"I decided to go for a little run."
- Forrest Gump

Mon - AM: 15km Around the Swan River (Speed Session)
My first speed session in a long time/ever today! Not too sure what brought it on, but I felt like running fast so I did. After 2km warm up I took to the next 3km in approx.. 3min50sec per/km. Those first 3km felt like a real struggle which left me thinking that today wasn't the best day to try to be running 'fast'. After a recovery km at 4min30sec I got stuck into the next 3km block. I managed to push out the 3km at approx.. 3min34sec, much better. And I felt like it was coming pretty easy so that was pleasing. Another 4min30 km after that and then I was into my 3rd and final 3km set. I picked things up a little on this final set clocking about 3min29sec per km. It was a really fun session and I quite enjoyed running relatively fast for a change. It was also great to see how the Hoka's went running fast, the Bondi B's were bloody outstanding. I have found an all round beauty in the Bondi B.

Tues - PM: 9km at Lesmurdie Falls
I decided today that I wanted to go for a night time run as I hadn't done so in a long long time. I just went for a pretty short one but it was really fun, especially with a less than ideal head torch showing me the way! I did the usual 1st loop, taking the down hills really easy under low light and not wanting to roll an ankle or anything silly like that.

Weds - AM: 23km along Munda Biddi Trail
Really easy run today as my right Popliteus was a little upset with me. Nothing too major just a bit tighter than usual. The run itself was really enjoyable, I hadn't been out to the Munda Biddi in a while so was cool to head back. Managed to scare the c*@p out of a few mountain bikers when I ran past them. I have a bit of a knack for spooking people on the trails. I feel like I need to start yelling out 500m before I get to them informing them I am coming past so I dont scare them. About 20mins after I got home I had one of the biggest scares for myself over the past 5 weeks of training. My left calf muscle felt like I had been shot. It really had me worried. Luckily I had a massage booked for tomorrow so Nathan could have a look and sort it out.

Thurs AM: Massage with Nathan @ Massage Works.
I gingerly walked into Massage Works today knowing all too well I was going to have a tough session. I already brought the session forward due to my Popliteus being tight, and now I had this calf muscle problem I had to deal with. It's pretty fair to say I was in a bit of pain for the 1hour with Nathan. If he had a swear jar I would have spent more on that than the massage itself! Really awesome having such a professional sports massage therapist who really knows what he's doing and knows running too!

Fri AM: Rest Day

Saturday AM: 16km run to work and back.
I needed to head into work this morning to print a few things out so thought I'd go for an easy stroll getting there. It was the first run since the calf problem so I was pretty anxious to see how it went. I knew if it flared up I was going to have a real problem on my hands. The run went awesome thankfully, I felt really good and It was nice running in my new pair of Hoka's I got for my next race.

Saturday PM: 30km along Bibbulmun & Munda Biddi
I decided to park at the Camel Farm this afternoon to skip the steep downhill and uphill sections just out of Kalamunda. With the legs recovering well since the massage I wanted to take things easy. I didn't leave the car until 4pm so it was a bit cooler. I had an absolute blast running this afternoon, cruising along just really enjoying the birds chirping and hearing the trees blow in the wind. Two of my favourites as to why I love trail running. As the evening got nearer it cooled down a fair bit pretty quickly and I was stoked I remembered to put my sleeves in my pack. It also got dark pretty quick. The last few km were pretty funny trying to stay on the trail and not branch off onto other tracks. I wasn't too keen on stopping to get my wonderfully rubbish head torch out so took it easy back to the car. Not a bad run, came in averaging 4min53sec per km average. Pretty stoked to get a good trail in after the 16km on bitumen this morning.

Sunday AM: 23km around the Swan River
Todays run didn't start all that smoothly. Liz decided to come along to keep me company on the bike and about 2km in she got a flat tyre so decided to walk home with the bike. I carried on and ran a pretty cruisey 23km around the river to the Narrows Bridge and back home again. I was running along at mostly 4min10sec per km and feeling pretty good. I eased off the pace with about 3km to go and treated that as a bit of a cool dawn. I ran with the hand held water bottle today to mix things up. That was pretty comfortable and looks like a hydration option for the next race.

Hours: 9hr 15min
Distance: 116.7km
Total Ascent: 1707m

The Amphipod 600ml handheld I use.

My brand spankin new pair of Hokas!!

In hindsight it was a pretty average week training wise. I really don't know why my calf decided to pipe up and say something to then settle down 2 days later. After the great speed session to start the week I was hoping to follow on with good training. Over 60km down from last weeks cracker it was a little disappointing, but I'm happy now the body has bounced back so quickly. Despite the hurdles, I managed to get a few decent runs in which is the main thing. My phone/camera died earlier this week so no photo's from training unfortunately. I've added a couple to show some of the gear I am currently using. Looking forward to a week of more consistent training next week.