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)

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