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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Training Log Archive: blairtrewin

In the 28 days ending Feb 28, 2014:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Run24 26:44:28 179.49(8:56) 288.86(5:33) 640108 /118c91%
  Pool running3 2:15:00 1.3(1:43:27) 2.1(1:04:17)
  Swimming3 1:47:00 1.86(57:24) 3.0(35:40)
  Total30 30:46:28 182.66(10:07) 293.96(6:17) 640108 /118c91%

» now

Friday Feb 28, 2014 #

(rest day)

Was never likely to find time for anything today - headed off to start the return journey at 6.15, a little apprehensive about the potential for transport connections to go wrong after my experiences on the way here. (It turned out that things went much more smoothly this time and I got to the airport in Casablanca 3 1/2 hours ahead of time). The walking distance at the Dubai airport end was almost long enough to constitute a session but that was after midnight anyway.

With this train trip being in daylight I got to see a lot of things I didn't see on the way here; at the Marrakech end there was again a hint of South Australia, as there was yesterday, but this time low rocky hills of the sort you might see around Whyalla. In the northern half of the trip it was flat coastal plain, quite green at this time of year. One is reminded that it is still a poor country on seeing an increasing number of (in the South African euphemism) "informal settlements" on the approach to Casablanca, although it's always a slightly incongruous sight to see crumbling shacks festooned with satellite dishes - something first encountered in the back blocks of rural Kazakhstan on the 2004 trip, where the extent of the local cash economy in semi-subsistence agricultural communities was to sell a few cows each year and buy satellite dishes with the proceeds.

Something I neglected to mention earlier is that maps can be a sensitive issue here: Morocco claims the Western Sahara as an integral part of its country and showing maps which indicate the existence of a border between the two is poor form in these parts, although I'm not sure if it's actually illegal or just impolite. (In India it's illegal to possess a map which shows the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir where it actually is rather than where the Indians think it should be, which is why you'll often see disclaimers in atlases and travel guides). I found myself applying a bit of last-minute virtual whiteout to a couple of world maps with national borders in my Monday morning presentation, which had a broader public audience (nobody cared within the smaller group meeting).

Thursday Feb 27, 2014 #

6 AM

Run 1:01:00 [3] 11.2 km (5:27 / km)

Another early start, this time because we were leaving early for a day in the mountains (it is a school holiday week in Morocco and local advice - correct - was that the traffic would get congested, as opposed to moving but anarchic, if we left it much later). Headed for the Menara Gardens which I'd heard good things about, but they weren't open yet so instead my route took me through the sparsely built southern part of the city and signs advising of various real estate developer's fantasies (several of which involve resort hotel/golf course combinations - I was thinking that perhaps the developers got sidetracked on their way to Phoenix, but in fact the Marrakesh area already has more than 20 of these). A somewhat different sight was seeing the palm trees which had been used as a platform for mobile phone antennas.

I don't normally do as much as this the day after a long run, and it showed a bit - various creaks and pretty slow most of the time, although picked up somewhat in the last 10 minutes.

The rest of the day was spent in the nearby Atlas Mountains, first going up to 2700 metres and seeing the country around what passes for a ski resort in these parts (it's been a drought year and the snow cover was thin, and visibly covered with red dust), then down into the valleys. Beautiful country - in the lower parts the mountains had a lot in common with the Flinders (at least if you mentally subtracted the villages clinging to various hillsides), higher up they were rockier still and almost devoid of vegetation (which didn't stop them being used for grazing sheep). Something you wouldn't have found in the vicinity of Wilpena, though, was the strip of cafes/restaurants intermittently scattered along one of the river valleys over a distance of several kilometres - the ones on the far bank being reached via footbridges of varying degrees of dodginess.

Also ventured into the local public transport system last night (our hosts would probably be horrified if they found out) - perfectly fine if a bit crowded and on a somewhat ancient vehicle (though it doesn't qualify as a genuine developing-country bus because there were no chickens on board). As regular readers will know, I enjoy exploring foreign public transport systems, definitely not being a subscriber to Margaret Thatcher's supposed dictum that anyone who finds themselves on a bus after their 26th birthday can count themselves as a failure in life.

Heading back tomorrow morning. It's as long a trip as the one here was, but the gap between flights in Dubai (9 hours) is long enough to go to an airport hotel (it's the middle of the night - if it were during the day I'd take it as a chance to look at Dubai, February being a much better time of year for that than August).

Wednesday Feb 26, 2014 #

6 AM

Run 2:01:00 [3] 23.0 km (5:16 / km)

All the ingredients were there for a lousy run this morning - doing it off no breakfast (too early), and not much sleep after waking up at 3.15 and not being able to get properly back to sleep. With that in mind, I should be pleased that this run passed as a fairly routine session - and it's been a while since I've been able to treat two hours as purely routine, even if it wasn't sparkling.

Started out on the main road to the station and past into the northern parts of town - a 6am start means doing the first 40 minutes in the dark, so I didn't want to hit the medina too early as I suspect its lighting is limited or non-existent. From about 7km, the next section was through the 'normal' suburbs - passing on the way various football murals and graffiti, some of which even pertained to local teams and not to Barcelona or Real Madrid - before hitting the medina around 12km (where I kept better map contact than yesterday). Briefly dipped out of it before going back into the casbah section, before finishing around the open land between the city and the hotel.

A bit of left Achilles soreness today: something I often experience when travelling so I'm not overly concerned (yet). As noted earlier, Marrakesh is dead flat (though there is a range of hills just outside the north edge of the city, which I saw at the far end of the run today), but the gutters are high and going up and down a lot of them is slightly draining.

The meeting finished today. Even though I'm not officially chair I seem to have ended up as the de facto leader of the group (whose official title is the Task Team on Definition of Extreme Weather and Climate Events). The good news is that this means that most of the recommendations are mine, the bad news is that it means most of the action items are mine too.

Tuesday Feb 25, 2014 #

7 AM

Run 1:01:00 [3] 11.5 km (5:18 / km)

The session I'd been looking forward to most on this trip - plunging myself into the heart of the Marrakech medina (after dealing with the 15 minutes to get there). As expected it was an absolute rabbit-warren; I had a decent street map but there were still a few points where I lost contact and wasn't quite sure where I was, but did know which direction I was heading to know roughly where I would end up.

I was early enough in the morning to miss most of the crowds in the medina, although the traffic on the boundary roads was noticeably heavier after 7.30 than it had been at earlier times yesterday - there were a couple of points where I had to revert to the Hanoi road-crossing method (maintain a predictable course and let the scooters go around you). The medina itself is mostly carless - the streets are too narrow - but still has enough scooters and donkey carts that you have to keep your wits about you. Couldn't help but fantasise about what an amazing place this would be as an urban orienteering venue - probably at least the same level of complexity as Venice (and, because most of the smaller alleyways end up in mazes that don't go anywhere, a lot of potential for 'you can't get here from there' route-choice legs).

As a run, this started out well, but tailed off a bit in the section coming back - possibly because I was feeling the boringness relative to what had just preceded it.

(In very marked contrast to the medina, where I'm staying is just down the road from Marrakech's version of a modern shopping mall, where I ventured this afternoon to get more bottled water. The food court would definitely not have been out of place in Northland).

Monday Feb 24, 2014 #

7 AM

Run 41:00 [3] 8.0 km (5:08 / km)

The first exploration of Marrakech - as often on my first run in a place, mainly about getting my bearings and finding out where things were. The hotel we're in is in a new part of town and a bit further from the centre than I thought, so the medina wouldn't really have been in range on a run of this length - tomorrow will be the day for that. Instead I headed for the "gardens" on the map (actually an agricultural area - in a city with vast numbers of productive orange trees - and not open to the public, but not much traffic around the edges). Most of the run ended up being a big loop around the outside of the Jardin Agdal, at the far end going past a grand entrance with police outside which I assumed had to be something important (it turned out it was a royal palace). Marrakech is not an early-rising city and there was little traffic around at 7 (and in this part of town the blocks are big enough to mean not many road crossings, which is as well because the driving is anarchic).

The run itself was OK without setting the world on fire. Didn't feel as sleepy as I thought I might have, particularly after being woken up by a 1.30am mobile phone call from a journo who didn't know I was overseas.

Sunday Feb 23, 2014 #


A long trip which became even longer than originally planned - the Dubai-Casablanca leg was two hours late (playing catch-up from fog in Dubai the previous day), then the Casablanca-Marrakech train that put me on was another two hours late, meaning that I didn't get in until 10pm instead of the originally planned 6 (at least this meant I could go straight to bed). Obviously that ended any thoughts of doing any sort of session after I arrived. One plus was getting an upgrade on the second leg.

Saturday Feb 22, 2014 #

Event: NOL Round 1
9 AM

Run race ((orienteering)) 17:24 [4] *** 2.3 km (7:34 / km)

First leg of the NOL sprint relay on Roma Street parklands - a tricky map with a lot of multi-levels, and a small area well used. The first leg was quite long and I felt initially that I hadn't got the route right, but looking at the map it looks like I did. Was then with Jas for a bit on a common section before splitting off. A generally decent run though lacking top-end speed. Definitely not as humid as yesterday.

Run race ((orienteering)) 18:02 [4] *** 2.4 km (7:31 / km)

Second leg of the NOL sprint relay. Mostly reasonable, but one significant error when I didn't see that a track passed under another one rather than join it, and pulled up when I realised I was going into the out-of-bounds area (perhaps I'm fortunate that the precedent established at WOC is that if you turn around and exit at the point you entered the result stands) - probably dropped 20-30 seconds there. Was dicing with Mat McGuire for most of it but he got the jump on me with the route choice into 15 - turned out this was academic as his team was already DNFd.
2 PM

Run race ((orienteering)) 24:13 [4] *** 2.7 km (8:58 / km)

Sprint qualifying at Griffith Uni. I was never likely to qualify with only 10 to go through (5 from each heat) - and even if I did qualify I wouldn't have been able to take my place in the final because by the time the final takes place I'll be in Dubai. In any case, I didn't feel as good running as in the morning, and made sure of it with several bits of technical dodginess. Drifted a bit on both of the bush legs and also missed 8 a bit. My objective had been to stay ahead of Simon (4 minutes); he caught me at the spectator about 3/4 of the way through, and then I had a blowout on 19 - ran within a metre of the control without seeing it, convinced myself I'd gone in one building too early, and wasted about 90 seconds confirming this wasn't true. This turned a mediocre result into a bad one.

My one moment of triumph was getting Lachy on a route choice from 3 to 4, whereupon he said a word which has been known to get people disqualified at orienteering events in Queensland back in the day. Not even Andy Hill (the 6th placegetter in Lachy's heat) thought that saying that in front of the presidential ears would be worthy of disqualification these days (saying it to an event official would be a different story - but I've only seen that happen twice, with the offenders in both cases being middle-aged men).

We were a touch later getting there than I would have planned because of a traffic jam getting out of Sunnybank shopping centre. This has a place in Queensland political history because the development of it was what landed George Herscu in jail for bribing Russ Hinze (Russ himself died before facing trial). The ostensible purpose of the bribe was to facilitate easier access to the shopping centre; on the evidence I saw today, I'd suggest that the money was wasted.

Now at the airport about to head to Morocco.

Friday Feb 21, 2014 #

1 PM

Swimming 34:00 [2] 1.0 km (34:00 / km)

Flew up to Brisbane in the morning (mainly because I had work to do in the Brisbane office). The original plan was to go for a swim after work but the inner-city pools close at 6 on a Friday, so went to Spring Hill at lunchtime instead - about a 15-minute walk from the office past tomorrow morning's venue (enabling me to scout out potential parking spots, and note that the venue is definitely not flat). As previously noted, this is an 1880s-style public baths and has a lot of character to it, though I wouldn't fancy being there when there's a crowd around. On a day when I was rediscovering serious humidity, the water was also seriously warm - at least 30, I would think.

The swim was reasonable - good to get a bit of a hit-out, and not floundering quite as much as usual.

Thursday Feb 20, 2014 #

7 AM

Run 2:06:00 [3] 24.0 km (5:15 / km)

A slightly later long run than usual because of the timing of a massage appointment which had been rearranged at a late stage; also starting from the somewhat unusual location of East Melbourne. Started down past the MCG and then along the river and the Gardiners trail, then across Hawthorn and Kew to hit the river again near Warren and Tash's before heading south and west.

Plugged away for much of the way without feeling as if I had a lot of energy (and had enough throat-clearing to wonder whether I'm getting sick), and slow up such hills as there were. Picked up a bit as it went on, though, and a pretty good last 15-20 minutes - definitely something I like to see on a long run at any time, but particularly given what's ahead of me. (I'd hoped to go about 2.15 today, which will probably be my last chance for a proper long run unless I can fit one in in Marrakesh, but was running a bit late).

Wednesday Feb 19, 2014 #

7 PM

Run race ((street-O)) 46:29 [4] 9.25 km (5:02 / km) +150m 4:39 / km

Summer series at Dandenong Creek, which had plenty of water in it tonight thanks to a line of storms which went through about 5 (still fairly tame compared to Geelong's 40mm in 30 minutes, or in Canberra, Gilmore's 28 in seven). It was a bit moist in the first half of the run, too - a bit of a novelty this season.

This course was a three-leaf clover - probably more interesting for B (who had to pick whether it was worth dropping one of the leaves altogether) than for us. (I left 13 and 17, in the core of the middle area). Started out north, something not too many others did, and struggled on the climbing through the first 2km (back a bit tight tonight). Settled a bit after that. Someone who said they'd lost their map (possibly it had dissolved to mush?) latched onto me for a few controls (but then disappeared, not sure to where). Enjoyed a small bush pocket at one point before the flat last section. Still a fair bit slower than I'd like to be, but a bit faster than last time. No hamstring issues tonight.

Control 19 was described as being on a "fie hydrant". Presumably this is what you use if you've got a Shakespeare that needs extinguishing.

Tuesday Feb 18, 2014 #

7 AM

Run 1:00:00 [3] 11.1 km (5:24 / km)

Fairly early start after dropping Jenny off at the airport, then coming in towards work and doing a run from North Melbourne - out along the west bank of the Maribyrnong past the Merv Hughes Oval, then back through Ascot Vale. A fairly nondescript run, though hamstring better than yesterday with only a very slight twinge.

Slept pretty badly which probably didn't help (not for the first time, I remedied some of the deficit, not entirely intentionally, during a 2pm meeting). I might have slept worse if I'd known what the Australian was going to do with the quotes I'd given them (the quotes were reasonably accurate, but they framed them in a 'this proves the Greens are wrong' context) - though it might mean that the sceptics are under the illusion that I'm on their side.

Was also putting together some material today for my monthly talk on global climate. The flipside of the unusual cold in eastern North America (apart from a dry and warm west) has been exceptional warmth in parts of the Arctic - Svalbard is running 13 degrees above normal for the year so far - and the flipside of the storm track parking itself over the southern UK for the winter has been extraordinarily dry conditions in central and northern Norway (I'm guessing it's not widely known in these parts that more properties have been lost in bushfires so far this year in Norway than in Australia). Most areas from Trondheim northwards got no, or almost no, rain or snow for all of January.

A couple of positive bits of news (no, they don't involve drug tests) for orienteering in Australia in the last couple of days, though I can't say much publicly (yet).

Monday Feb 17, 2014 #

7 AM

Pool running 45:00 [3] 0.7 km (1:04:17 / km)

Early session in the Fitzroy pool (as with last week, doing this session on Monday because I won't have my belt with me on Friday). Reasonably routine, with sunglare an issue later on.

Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of "does this rain mean the drought is broken?" media enquiries today. (Answer: not yet in the core areas but will make a difference around the edges, and there's more coming later in the week in many areas).
7 PM

Run 31:00 [3] 6.0 km (5:10 / km)

Jenny was keen to get out on the All Nations Park sprint map (left over from a summer series event last year) so I was quite happy to come along for the ride - some tricky route choices to be had (though in a proper race you'd definitely need officials to police the crossing of 'uncrossable' walls). Left hamstring a little tight - first time I've had any sign of trouble since November, and something to watch given the trouble it caused me then. Cruised around without pushing it too hard.

Sunday Feb 16, 2014 #

8 AM

Run race ((orienteering)) 1:12:03 [4] *** 10.2 km (7:04 / km) +370m 5:59 / km

Second day of the Bendigo weekend (free of serious heat and, unusually, free of spider webs). Didn't go quite to plan on the way to the event - someone (presumably a friendly local) had turned the sign around and we ended up going most of the way up One Tree Hill Road thinking the assembly might be up there. You'll be shocked to hear that a bitumen road to nowhere through the bush shows visible evidence of erratic driving; the end of the road has been closed off now but I don't think having to do a U-turn at the end (or perhaps more likely, an O-turn) will deter the local hoons too much.

As expected, got left behind at the start and took a bit of time to pick my way through the middle of the field, but hit a few controls well which others didn't and gained some ground there in the earlier stages. Eventually settled into a group which featured James Robertson, Simon Rouse, Geoff Lawford and one of the Goonans - oddly enough, the first three were also in my pack last year. Ended up chasing James and Simon after the longest legs at 17 and 18; I knew I couldn't outrun them in a sprint finish and took a different route choice on 21 which sort of came off, but it only brought me level and I needed to be ahead.

As with yesterday, this was a steady run in terrain without a top gear; only two trivial wobbles, though not a lot of pace on the hills today. Don't seem to have gone backwards since last year at any rate.

Saturday Feb 15, 2014 #

7 PM

Run race 26:43 [4] *** 3.4 km (7:51 / km)

Sprint component of the Bendigo weekend at La Trobe, featuring a few more 'you can't get there from here' legs than we had at Easter. Got the course reasonably right technically - and think my major route choices were no worse than par. A tropical downpour (good practice for next weekend) unloaded in the later stages, making me paranoid on stairs given my Canberra experience; Geoff Lawford, whom I'd caught a minute (and then gone through when he went into a dead end on 13) got ahead of me again there. (Bryan had earlier blasted through me like I was standing still three minutes into the race). Steady but lacking in top-end speed, but then top-end speed is not exactly what I'm training for at the moment. About 5.5 minutes down on Bryan.

Friday Feb 14, 2014 #

6 AM


Despite the impression that may have been given by a picture caption in the Mercury yesterday, I haven't secretly got married while I've been in Hobart.
7 AM

Run 46:00 [3] 8.0 km (5:45 / km)

A fairly lacklustre recovery session in the Domain - didn't feel stiff but not very much energy, and very slow climbing.

It's state election season here. The Liberals are dominating the sign wars so far - I've only seen two non-Liberal ads, and one of them was outside a union office. (I expect the Liberals to dominate the election, too - 16 years in power is a long time). Somewhat bizarrely, the other one was part of a pair of bus backs I saw at traffic lights - one bus had a Police Association ad attacking Labor, the other had a firefighters' union ad supporting them.

I made it in time for the 8.15 session start this morning. Plenty didn't (and some were rather the worse for wear, as is traditional for the morning after the conference dinner).
10 AM

Swimming 36:00 [2] 1.0 km (36:00 / km)

Noted there was a section in the conference program of limited interest to me (sorry to the oceanographers out there, though I did come back for the Hoggster's keynote - and actually understood it), and swapped water temperatures in the Southern Ocean for water temperatures in the (nearby) Hobart Aquatic Centre. Turned out there was a school swimming carnival happening - a long time since I've seen one of those in action (you won't be surprised to hear that my only role in school swimming carnivals was as official scorer) - but the diving pool had been turned into a lap pool for the regular punters.

The conference finished today - went very well. I did say in my departing remarks last night that I wasn't going to do a Juan Antonio Samaranch and declare it the best-ever (he used to do that for every Olympics, except for Atlanta which he merely called "exceptional" - which everyone took as shorthand for "exceptionally bad"), but it probably was just about the best ever. Having the dinner at MONA was a particularly inspired choice by the conference organising committee (certainly one I was happy to endorse when they put it to me).

Thursday Feb 13, 2014 #

6 AM

Run 2:00:00 [3] 21.0 km (5:43 / km)

I quite often take to Mount Nelson for longer runs when in Hobart, and had a particular reason to do so this time - I don't have a lot of recent experience of prolonged downhill runs and the vital statistics of the descent (5km of continuous downhill at an average of around 6%) are very similar to the drop to the Cox's River at Six Foot.

It was a bit of a slow grind climbing (though felt more awake than I expected to, given the early start and the long days at the conference). It appears, though, that one benefit of having done a run beyond three hours is that two hours seems short; didn't really feel tired at all in the closing stages. The other pleasing aspect was that my sometimes-fragile quads gave no trouble whatsoever either during the run or afterwards. Achilles a bit sore on some of the climbs later on.

Wednesday Feb 12, 2014 #

7 AM

Run intervals 20:00 [4] 3.0 km (6:40 / km)

10x1 minute on the flat strip of park next to the Hobart Cenotaph. Felt rather sleepy for most of it, starting to pick up a bit towards the end. Even then, not particularly sparkling, but it's the first time for a long time that I've managed to get through an intervals or fartlek session in the morning so I guess that counts as progress of a sort.

In Melbourne doing something like this close to the war memorial would be considered to be desecrating, but Hobart seems more relaxed (the amount of rubbish on the ground left over from Monday - it's a good vantage point for the Hobart Regatta - suggests any desecrating has long since been done). The memorial has an impressively long list of conflicts, from World War I to the Indonesian Confrontation (which the present Australian government appears to be attempting to revive).

Run warm up/down 21:00 [3] 4.0 km (5:15 / km)

Warm up/down from the session. Better going back than heading out.

The conference first day went well, though I didn't get much of a chance to relax (my tally for the day was two talks, two sets of opening remarks, four media interviews and two meetings). Managed to get through without too many issues - the main one was that there were numerous spelling errors in the slide displayed when the Governor was speaking (but even that was perhaps fitting because one of the things he mentioned in his speech was poor literacy standards in Tasmania).

Tuesday Feb 11, 2014 #

7 AM

Run 1:02:00 [3] 11.5 km (5:23 / km)

Headed out this morning, partly to check out the remnants of our local fire (a single-hectare affair in the Darebin Creek valley on either side of Bell Street; given the ignition point I'd say a cigarette is the likely cause). Felt reasonable on the run, and quads better than I thought they might be, but rather slow - until the end I was doing slower kilometres than I was in the last stage on Sunday. Lots of smoke haze during the day today but it hadn't really set in by the morning.

Now down in Hobart - cut it very fine to perform my first conference-related duties (there was a public lecture tonight which I was supposed to open, and after running up the hill into the UTas campus I made it with 2 1/2 minutes to spare). My biggest conference worry isn't my talks, it's either (a) making a protocol faux pas when introducing the Governor (who's doing the official opening) or (b) mispronouncing the name of the traditional owners.

The taxi driver coming in from the airport said it was too hot for him (today's maximum in Hobart was 22.7). It is perhaps as well that he hasn't spent the summer in any of Adelaide (11 days over 42, previous record 5), Bendigo (13 days over 40, previous record 9 and no others above 6) or Canberra (20 days over 35, previous record 18).

Monday Feb 10, 2014 #

7 AM

Pool running 45:00 [3] 0.7 km (1:04:17 / km)

Swapped with Friday because I didn't want to take my belt to Hobart (where I'll be for a conference from tomorrow afternoon until Friday). The object of the exercise was to loosen myself up a bit; felt like I'd achieved this during the session itself but was then tight again during the afternoon, so not sure if that worked or not - tomorrow's run will tell us more.

My faith in the good taste of the Australian people has been restored - INXS got double the ratings last night that Schapelle did. (I'm guessing that amongst the readers of this log, Torah considerably outrated both INXS and Schapelle).

Sunday Feb 9, 2014 #

9 AM

Run 3:07:00 [3] 36.0 km (5:12 / km)

It would be fair to say that I went to a fair bit of trouble to make this run work - not least travelling 300 kilometres to somewhere where the conditions this morning were likely to be more favourable than they were in Melbourne (you'd have had to have looked fairly hard to find conditions this morning less favourable than those in Melbourne).

In the end I did essentially what I wanted to do. I was looking for something in the 3+ hour range at least once before Six Foot, and having missed the chance last week, this weekend was the last realistic window of opportunity. The only drawback of Port Fairy (from the viewpoint of Six Foot preparation) is that it's flat, though the wind created a few pseudo-hills (of which more later).

The change went through Port Fairy just after 8, and 20 minutes later I was off and running, on the rail trail to Warrnambool with Koroit as the turnaround point (had there been someone to pick me up at the other end, going all the way to Warrnambool, about the same distance, would have been a good option). Quickly settled down on a track through farmland - an environment I've often run well in - and was going smoothly on the outward journey; the first 20km was the best I've felt running, over any distance, since before Two Bays.

Took a gel (second of three) at Koroit, and then started the trip back. I'd thought the W/SW wind in the wake of the change might have dropped out by the time I started heading back, but it didn't, and the stretch from 20-26k was fairly hard work (though only about 8 seconds/km slower than with the tail wind), straight into a 20-30 knot wind across open country. The trail turns around a bit from there, but the 30th kilometre, on an elevated embankment, featured a buffering crosswind. That seemed to take a bit out of me and from there I was hanging on, though it was never as bad as the later stages of Two Bays.

I'll probably need to find another 75-90 minutes on top of this in four weeks' time, which won't be easy, but enough things went right today to give me a bit of confidence. (In particular, the gels seem to have worked; I didn't feel as if I was getting enough water flow out of my pack, but the bladder was nearly empty by the end so I must have been taking some in). Quite drained by the end without being totally flattened; thought the drive home might be tough but was fine once I'd spent 45 minutes snoozing under the trees in a Warrnambool park. Longest run I've done since 2008, I think.

Saturday Feb 8, 2014 #

8 AM

Run 1:09:00 [3] 13.0 km (5:18 / km)

A morning run at home before heading off. Not exactly sparkling but definitely a step up from most of my runs of the last fortnight. Slowed down a bit later on after taking to the small tracks on the east side of the Yarra (which didn't link up quite as well as I'd remembered them). The mild, but humid, surface layer was still well and truly intact - on the way out of town it rose from 26 to 34 between Bacchus Marsh and Ballan (normally the change is in the reverse direction).

I did end up taking the southwest Victorian option and am now in Port Fairy - hopefully this will work out for tomorrow morning. Took the chance to look at a couple of potential areas for the 2015 Australian Sprint in Ballarat on the way (one is very complex but possibly too small, a second more conventional). Also had a look at the Mount Eccles lava flow terrain, although not very much of it because the northeast approach track on the VicRoads map didn't exist, and the southwest one became progressively grassier which meant it was somewhere I didn't want to be driving on such an extreme fire weather day (although by then the seabreeze had pushed in). Looks potentially interesting if tough, but it's probably fairly academic because I had a look at the (fairly ancient) management plan for the park the other day and orienteering gets a cross in the list of permitted activities (and, to add a further level of complexity, the park is now co-managed by the traditional owners). One thing I did note is that a lot of the products of the 1990s/early 2000s boom in bluegum plantations (many of them founded on the principle that it's better to lose a thousand dollars in a dodgy investment than give one extra cent to the taxman) are now mature enough (and sufficiently undergrowth-free) to be very nice running; I didn't see any which were planted on technical terrain but there may be some elsewhere.

The news coming from across the border of the Belair fire was certainly concerning, but it seems like it's worked out better (at least for now) than I thought it might on such a challenging day.

Friday Feb 7, 2014 #

7 AM

Pool running 45:00 [3] 0.7 km (1:04:17 / km)

A standard Friday session at Fitzroy. Nothing to be especially excited about, although I was glad I was in the water and not on land on a morning like this.

Thursday Feb 6, 2014 #

7 AM

Run 1:31:00 [3] 17.0 km (5:21 / km)

Not really a proper Thursday long run, but given the way I've been feeling this week felt it best not to burn too much before what will hopefully be a big weekend. Also as flat as it gets - was having the car services at Fishermens Bend so did what I usually do on such occasions - out to the beach, southeast along it until 50% of the allotted time expires, then back via Albert Park Lake. The only "hills" are the pedestrian ramp across Beaconsfield Parade, and the Fitzroy Street rise which only feels big when you hit it at the 37k mark of the old Melbourne Marathon course.

The first half of this run felt no better than the last couple of days did. Started to get into it a bit more in the second half and by the end felt like going for another 30 minutes wouldn't be totally ridiculous, but still have a fair way to go. Still cool enough in the morning that the northerly breeze was cooling; won't be the case for the rest of the week.

Wednesday Feb 5, 2014 #

7 PM

Run ((street-O)) 46:34 [3] * 9.01 km (5:10 / km) +120m 4:51 / km

Continuing to feel not quite 100% well, and struggled again on this one - no energy as soon as it got challenging and drifted away in the second half. This was a pity as Blackburn Lake is one of my favourite areas, and I appear to have made a decent job of the route. A warmish night (high 20s) but certainly not as bad as what we'll see later in the week.

I've occasionally posted before on oddball things which come up when you do searches for obscure places. Today's effort came when I was searching for information on the old Acton Racecourse in Canberra (where our observing site appears to have been in the 1920s and 1930s); one of the top links which came up was to a site which was promising the best tips on horses running there. I hope the horses they were tipping have good wet-track form - Acton Racecourse has been under water for the last 50 years (it was south of what is now ANU).

Tuesday Feb 4, 2014 #

7 AM

Run 59:00 [3] 11.0 km (5:22 / km)

Still struggling - feel a bit out of sorts at the moment (a runny nose suggests I'm fighting off a cold) and it certainly felt like a bit of a sick run (and not in the "fully sick" sense either). Weak early on, some decent patches in the middle but never comfortable on the hills (of which there were a few, this being an Ivanhoe/Eaglemont newsletter delivery run).

My colleagues have, rather bravely, forecast a minimum of 30 five days out for Sunday morning. I'm starting to think seriously of heading for southwestern Victoria on the weekend to maximise the chances of getting a run in after the change (and because at some point I need to look at 2015 sprint venues in Ballarat, and because I've long wanted to look at Mount Eccles too) - the drawback is that I probably don't then have another weekend at home until at least the end of March.

Monday Feb 3, 2014 #

7 AM

Run 40:00 [3] 7.3 km (5:29 / km)

Felt a bit out of sorts before this run but once under way it turned into a reasonably standard Monday recovery run, with a bit of residual rear-end soreness in the mix (though that side of things continues to improve). 28 degrees at 7am isn't worth batting an eyelid over any more in the Melbourne summer of '14. (Current forecasts suggest that after tomorrow, there will be at most one sub-30 day between now and the later part of next week).

The run was done from outside the North Melbourne pool (which is next to the North Melbourne football ground). At the start I saw someone I didn't recognise in North gear getting out of a car with South Australian plates and heading into the club; possibly one of their new draftees? Reminded me a bit of a case some years ago when a group of yahoos started kicking the doors in of a car with Victorian plates in the car park at Football Park in Adelaide - turned out the car belonged to one of the Crows' new recruits who hadn't changed his registration over yet.
8 AM

Swimming 37:00 [2] 1.0 km (37:00 / km)

Second stage of the Monday morning duathlon at North Melbourne. A rather slow session although I'm not totally sure that I went up and down 20 times and not 21 (which may be an indicator that I was feeling somewhat vague this morning).

Unsurprisingly, a lot of things had piled up in my absence - my colleagues did their best to treat the end of a month when I was on the South Coast and not so easy to contact as a dry run for the end of a month later in the year when I'll be somewhere in the back blocks of Patagonia and impossible to contact, but there was still a bit of stuff waiting.

Sunday Feb 2, 2014 #

8 AM

Run 1:16:00 [3] 13.0 km (5:51 / km)

Not a good day. My buttock is gradually becoming less ugly (the purple zone is about a third the size it was two days ago), but there's enough soreness there to suggest there's still quite a bit of swelling, and although it doesn't feel like it's affecting my running form, the watch suggests otherwise. (I didn't notice so much on Thursday, probably because that track was so rugged that I just attributed any issues I was having to the difficulty of the terrain). The original plan was to run to Green Cape from a road junction about 12km short of it, but once it became apparent that the body was struggling, I decided to settle for the Disaster Bay lookout a bit after halfway - I probably could have got through, say, 2.20, but pushing the boundaries with an injury in a remote area is perhaps not the most brilliant idea - not so concerned about the bruising itself, more about the risk of doing something else if, as I suspect, I'm running with irregular form. Still a hard and humid morning's work on a hilly track (one short but very steep climb made me thankful I hit it at 10k and not 21 as originally planned).

Two positives to draw from this run: my first testing of gels worked (I took one about 3k from the end, mainly so that if I reacted badly to it it wouldn't be a problem for too long), and the view from the Disaster Bay lookout was stellar.

I definitely hope this settles properly during the week; having missed a few other possibilities, the window for a serious long run in Six Foot preparation is closing. Next weekend's forecast isn't looking great either; if that holds I'm thinking seriously of going somewhere with at least a bit of altitude.

Came back to Melbourne during the day, a somewhat tiring drive (even stretched out the beach towel under a tree in a park at one stage), although I got through East Gippsland before any significant fire action (most of it's currently well north of the highway in any case). Just to show what I've missed out on, the car thermometer (over-reading, as usual, by a degree or two) was registering 44 as I pulled in.

Saturday Feb 1, 2014 #

8 AM

Run 1:01:00 [3] 10.0 km (6:06 / km)

Moved down to Tathra to spend the night with the Hogg/Walter/Jones collective (having hung out with them for most of the last two days). Perhaps surprisingly, I didn't have running company this morning (mainly because I didn't feel like getting up early enough to join Nat and Cathy, who went out at 6.30 because Cathy and her kids needed to be back in Canberra by lunchtime), but did the next best thing and followed in their footsteps, loosely speaking - on the track around the headland at Tathra and then along the beach north towards the Bega River outlet. It turned out I wasn't exactly following in their footsteps, as their footsteps would have been washed away - the tide was a couple of hours further in and the beach was hard work much of the way (the headland track also had its moments, but was nowhere near as rugged as Thursday's). Came back along the bike path. Felt a bit sluggish, if OK for strength on the climbs, and perhaps a bit thankful that I now have only a minor epic planned for tomorrow, not a major one.

The last time I was in Tathra for any length of time was in March 1985, just after I'd started running regularly. From memory I think my "long" run then was vaguely similar to this one, but going a bit further north on the Bermagui road (which was mostly gravel in those days and consequently had much less traffic).

Those of the relevant age who had any connection with the ACT junior (or sub-junior) scene will be pleased to hear that Camy Koala is still alive and well.

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