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Training Log Archive: blairtrewin

In the 31 days ending Aug 31, 2009:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Run27 34:27:25 249.62(8:17) 401.73(5:09) 247056 /66c84%
  Swimming8 4:32:00 4.97(54:43) 8.0(34:00)
  Total31 38:59:25 254.59(9:11) 409.73(5:43) 247056 /66c84%

» now

Monday Aug 31, 2009 #

Swimming 33:00 [2] 1.0 km (33:00 / km)

Morning at Fitzroy. In a bit of a rush because I was running late (on the way to VicRoads where, slightly to my disappointment, I had to hand in my NT plates), so it was as well that this was one of my less slow swims for a while. A bit of left arm soreness at times but didn't seem to affect my ability to push onwards.

Run 39:00 [2] 7.1 km (5:30 / km)

Monday night from my place, with a bigger crowd than I was expecting (still enough food to go around, though). Smooth most of the way after getting rid of some early hamstring soreness, but didn't really have anything for the hills - perhaps a sign of a long race yesterday.

It was a full-on day at work and tomorrow will be busier. I've already got two interviews booked in before 8 tomorrow.

Among the attendees were Rob Lewis and Anna Skarbek, back in Australia after a couple of weeks away. This led to some discussion of WOC and, Anna being a former Victorian ministerial staffer, some more discussion of the misadventures of the Minister for Water, who seems to been over-enthusiastic in investigating the status of Victorian alpine water catchments. Hopefully we won't have any cause to be discussing by-elections next time.

Sunday Aug 30, 2009 #

Run race ((orienteering)) 1:41:45 [4] *** 14.7 km (6:55 / km) +590m 5:46 / km

NSW Long Championships. Found out before the start that Julian wasn't running, which turned this into a potentially winnable race. As noted before in these pages the NSW Championships is one of only two state championships I've never won at senior levels, and opportunities are quickly running out.

They will have one more year to run out because I didn't win this one either, thanks mainly to a slowish start which saw Hoggster come close to catching me at 9. I got two route choices wrong, not dropping on 2 and dropping on 8 (an excellent leg), losing about a minute apiece, and was also a bit on the slow side, although my fine navigation was much better than yesterday. Missed 20-30 seconds on 12, not long before the map change, and thought Hoggster might get me, but he didn't. By this stage my running was going pretty well and I settled into a good stretch through the map change, only to be interrupted by losing 2 minutes at 15. (I don't think it was in the right place (and neither did anyone else on our course), but it ultimately had no effect on the placings). This was slightly rattling but things soon got back under control, and my last quarter was excellent - as strong as I've felt at the end of a long race for ages (which probably indicates that I didn't get my pace judgement quite right). Might have caught Ben if it had been an 18k race, but it wasn't, so had to settle for second place and fastest on the second map :-)

Ben 99, me 101, Hoggster 103, Rob 104.

I'm still getting my race judgement sorted out but this will do me good, and I think running a half-marathon next weekend will do so too. Australian Long Championships and WMOC are the main targets from here.

It was a cold day (although pleasant for running out of the wind); when my fingers have thawed out I'll have a report to write on how Australia is having its hottest August on record.

Saturday Aug 29, 2009 #

Run race ((orienteering)) 43:48 [4] *** 5.9 km (7:25 / km) +270m 6:02 / km

NSW Middle Champs at Burngoogoo, 5th. A rather scrappy run, perhaps not surprising as it's the first time I've been in technical terrain for a long time - fine navigation in the circle was a bit of a trouble spot. Also lacking power on the steeper climbs, although flowing OK elsewhere. Ground abit slippery in places but not as wet as had seemed likely (although the organisers got collected by a thunderstorm when packing up).

This was my first run in new shoes; still getting the lace tightness right.

Julian 34, Shep 37, Ben 41. Could see 40 with a good run but probably not a lot faster.

Friday Aug 28, 2009 #

Swimming 33:00 [2] 1.0 km (33:00 / km)

Swim at Ivanhoe. Seemed a bit better than in recent times, although a bit of left shoulder soreness at one stage.

Noticed on a look at the rankings yesterday that I'm currently 8th (and only 4 points behind Ryan in 7th). This is the highest I've been for several years from memory (and higher than I really deserve to be), and might creep up a bit more if I run well this weekend (small strong fields are often good for getting good scores, especially if someone has a bad run). Suspect it will drop again once we hit nationals though, especially given the depth of the field (apparently the top 13 ranked are all running, plus Runo, Shep and, for the sprint, Troy are in the mix).


Reasons to go to NSW Championships #1: not to be in Melbourne when there's a Jehovah's Witnesses convention in town.

Thursday Aug 27, 2009 #

Run 2:00:00 [3] 25.0 km (4:48 / km)

Headed out from near work out north-west as far as the vicinity of the Afton Street bridge on the Maribyrnong at Essendon. I thought I might be able to get further round the river but couldn't without going a fair way into the suburbs, so there were some meanderings at the front end before returning along the river (where the tide was just as high as it was yesterday). Never really able to get my legs moving on this run; I hope it wasn't an effect of yesterday's race as I would want to be able to go faster than that (and recover better).

I should have taken my phone with me: returned to messages from several journalists.

Wednesday Aug 26, 2009 #

Run 1:03:00 [3] 13.0 km (4:51 / km)

Morning session from home into Bulleen and North Balwyn, clear morning with a rather icy wind (at least by the standards of the non-winter of 2009). Didn't get a great run with the traffic (and it wasn't the nicest of mornings to be standing around). Felt reasonably smooth much of the way but not especially quick. Achilles, which has been improving slowly, went very tight on the final climb home, but no obvious lasting effects.

The winds from yesterday's front weren't as dramatic as advertised except in the outer eastern suburbs, but one consequence of the windfield and the low pressure has been to set up one of the more impressive storm surges I've seen in the bay and the tidal reaches of the rivers. Long stretches of the Moonee Ponds Creek trail under Citylink were inundated (not just the underpass which is a common trouble spot) and the water was probably only 5-10cm short of spilling over onto the lower-lying parts of Docklands between the NAB building and Newquay. I'm told parts of the Main Yarra Trail also went under. I haven't been able to find any sea level data for the bay, but Stony Point (Westernport) peaked around 0.85m above normal tidal levels.

Update on the trackworks: some, but not all, of it was done last night - I moved into the back room and slept through it without any dramas. Hopefully they'll get the rest done soon (if I'm really lucky it will happen on one of the nights when I'm out of town, but that seems unlikely).

Run race 13:39 [4] 3.83 km (3:34 / km)

First foray onto the Tan for the season - this time with a Bureau team in the Corporate Cup for the first time in a few years, including our new star recruit. Got dropped at the start but my 500m split wasn't terrible, and got into a nice rhythm after that, particularly on the hill. Also had people to chase most of the way which helps. A bit scrappy across the top with traffic (both pedestrian and vehicle) but lost a few seconds at most. Hints of a stitch on the later downhills. Not a bad day for it, with the wind not as much of a factor as I had thought it might be.

I'd want to be under 13.30, and hopefully will be sometime in the next couple of attempts as I build towards the championships season, but this is still better than anything I did in the autumn which is progress. Km splits 3.33, 3.42 (uphill), 3.35, 3.32.

My Bureau record is no more: Chris Bridge ran 12.14, taking a single second off my time from 1997.

Run warm up/down 30:00 [2] 6.0 km (5:00 / km)

Going to/from the Tan.

Tuesday Aug 25, 2009 #

Run intervals 20:00 [4] 3.2 km (6:15 / km)

Hit the track for the first time since returning for an intervals session - 8 x 400 on a 2.5 minute cycle. Fairly standard pace for the first part (coming down progressively 1 second per rep as I usually do) but couldn't take it down below 79 which was a bit disappointing. A little bit of wind but nothing of any significance (compared with what was forecast for later in the day, anyway). Felt reasonable without being really sharp.

Run warm up/down 21:00 [2] 4.0 km (5:15 / km)

Warm up/down for the intervals session. While I was driving to Clifton Hill the phone rang. I rang back when I stopped - it was 3AW (not sure where they got my mobile number from, and given that they have form for calling people at extremely early hours I'm not sure I'm too happy about the fact that they have it). They said no problem, we've got someone else - Stewart Franks (a well-known climate change sceptic).

I managed to restrain myself from uttering any naughty words to the producer.

Monday Aug 24, 2009 #

Run 43:00 [3] 8.5 km (5:04 / km)

A morning session starting near the Fitzroy pool because I'm otherwise engaged in the evening. Felt rather stiff and sore for a lot of the way but picked up in the last 15 minutes. Probably reasonably normal for a Monday morning.

The Merri path is finally open again, seven months after the major works were finished on the Clifton Hill rail bridge - a statistic which tells you everything that needs to be said about how much priority cyclists and pedestrians get in transport project planning. At least it's got some attractive new signs now.

Not a good weekend for the sporting causes I supported: Australian cricket (lost), Essendon (lost), Canberra Raiders (lost), Wallabies (lost), Mark Webber (didn't score a point) and Australian orienteering (OK, but not what we might have hoped for). Just as well for Dani Samuels and Steve Hooker.

Swimming 35:00 [2] 1.0 km (35:00 / km)

Second leg of the Monday triathlon. Again couldn't really get going. Some quite heavy showers came through during this session, but I was happy that they happened while I was in the pool and not while riding to work afterwards.

Spent the rest of the day keeping track of the vast number of August temperature records that either had been broken or were broken during the day in more northern parts, by up to five degrees in places. In terms of statistical improbability this is the equivalent of getting to 49 or thereabouts in Melbourne in summer.

Sunday Aug 23, 2009 #

Run race ((orienteering)) 1:22:41 [4] *** 12.0 km (6:53 / km) +620m 5:29 / km

State League 6 at Jim Crow. Hilly but technically moderate, with a bit of route choice but not much fine navigation. The most unusual aspect of the terrain was that a fair bit of the map was the subject of a fuel reduction burn which was perhaps a little bit too effective (I don't think fuel reduction burns are supposed to get into the crowns). Without much ground cover the damp soil was soft and very slippery in places, and in the more heavily burnt areas the carpet of dead leaves reminded me of deciduous forests in winter in North America or Europe.

I ran a good race technically, with the only wobble, a few seconds, coming at 10 - I saw another control on a boulder 100 metres before mine, and while I knew it wasn't supposed to be mine I thought I'd better check the number just in case. However, my running was lacking intensity, perhaps not surprising after a lack of racing in the last 2 1/2 months. I wasn't surprised to be a few minutes down but will be the better for this workout.

This was the last race I will run in the current pair of shoes - they give me blisters when wet (and started to again today). Got some new ones after the run.

Saturday Aug 22, 2009 #

Run 1:06:00 [3] 14.0 km (4:43 / km)

Sparkled early, then became a bit of a grind through the middle. Calves much improved but Achilles still an issue - I'd hoped it might have been a secondary symptom of calf tightness but perhaps not. Had to work hard up the hills later on but finished reasonably well.

There were a lot of trees down across the singletrack next to the river at Banyule Flats; not sure if this was a product of yesterday's squall or something that happened while I was away. Also saw a platypus in the river (with the help of someone who was looking for them more closely than I was).

This was coming off a pretty late night watching the WOC relays, from which all concerned emerge with great credit. (If karma means anything Thierry Gueorgiou or Anders Nordberg will win the long; Michal Smola isn't running). It was then followed by another equally late night thanks to a weather enthuasists' gathering in the city, which gave me the opportunity to see whether the central city on a Saturday night really is the hellhole that the Herald-Sun and Channel 7 would have you believe. I didn't see any evidence of it - in fact Russell Street, where we were, is a good deal less seedy than it was a decade ago when it was druggie central - although I still wouldn't go to King Street at 2am. Where the reporting is severely lacking in perspective is that none of this is remotely new (I've seen references to alcohol-related violence in central Melbourne in newspapers from 1851), nor is it anything which differs particularly from similar districts in just about any other city in the Western world. If people want to see what a dangerous city looks like they should try Johannesburg or Rio.

Friday Aug 21, 2009 #

Swimming 35:00 [2] 1.0 km (35:00 / km)

Swimming at Fitzroy. Thought I might be getting wet on the way in and out of the pool as well as in it but the promised rain failed to materialise (although I did cop the full force of the squall on the bike just before arriving at work). Never really got going this morning, which I probably can't attribute to getting up at 2 for a bit to watch Kathryn's run in the sprint.

Now at the end of the first full week back at work and starting to feel as if I'm making a bit of headway (although documenting all the records that are likely to be broken in the subtropics this weekend and Monday will be a major diversion next week).

This also means I'm exposed to the letters colmuns of the Weekly Times and its like again, but I now have evidence against one of their pet hates, allegedly higher country fuel prices. It was true once but, except in the really remote areas, it isn't any more. The most expensive fuel I saw on my way down the east coast was in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, and the current Melbourne price is the highest I've seen anywhere since Normanton. (On that theme, one of life's little mysteries is why some particular places are anything from 10 to 20 cents cheaper than their neighbours - I already knew about Bairnsdale, but Kempsey and, more surprisingly, Mount Isa are also on this list).

Thursday Aug 20, 2009 #

Run 2:00:00 [3] 25.0 km (4:48 / km)

I got up at 5, a little earlier than I might otherwise have done (even for a Thursday) to watch the 100m hurdles final - and found that SBS were showing soccer. Went back to bed for 30 mintues and predictably failed to sleep.

Hit the streets around 6.30 from Clifton Hill, in steady light rain almost throughout. A reasonably steady run in terms of endurance but calf tightness was again a significant problem; no pain, but definitely awkward on any sort of hill (so I didn't go up too many). Hopefully today's session with the needles will help here; past experience suggests it should. In any case I'll be swimming tomorrow as per my usual schedule.

Wednesday Aug 19, 2009 #

Run 1:02:00 [3] 13.0 km (4:46 / km)

A reasonable morning run without reaching any great heights, taking in the south end of Ivanhoe and then up Darebin Creek. No sign of any further physical process on the bike path but apparently the decade-plus of legal trench warfare to build it is finally over. Achilles not particularly comfortable again.

I was a bit surprised to see a new pharmacy in a largely derelict small cluster of shops on Upper Heidelberg Road - and then recalled that you can't set up a new pharmacy within, I think, 1.5km of an existing one (anyone with more knowledge care to confirm?) and this location falls just outside that distance.

May also need to consider an alternative route choice to work - a couple of sets of lights in the city have been retimed with the effect of causing long waits in places where I used to get greens most of the time.

Run intervals 15:00 [4] 3.8 km (3:57 / km)

3 x 1 km on the Tan, jog recovery. First outing here since returning - much as it was (although a bit less crowded than it can be on a nice day). Couldn't find any pace with the fast kms only around 3.50 speed. Calves were very tight today, and are in serious need of some needlework (which they'll get tomorrow). They're in serious need of a massage too, but I will need to find somewhere else to get that done because my long-standing masseur has had a career change while I've been away and has decided to go into the running shoe business.

Run warm up/down 29:00 [2] 6.0 km (4:50 / km)

Going to/from the Tan, a bit quicker than usual for no obvious reason. Unsurprisingly, the works on the Swan Street bridge which were supposed to be finished in June aren't.

Some readers will know that I'm a long-standing supporter of Norwich City, who after getting relegated last year started this season in League One (a.k.a. Division 3) for the first time in 50 years. They got a rude awakening - losing their first game 7-1 at home - and responded in the manner of unsuccessful football teams from Melbourne to Moscow - they sacked their coach. (I wasn't following things too closely while I was away so I don't know if he had received the board's total support two weeks earlier). Their next move, though, was original - they were obviously so impressed by the team that beat them 7-1 (Colchester) that they've hired Colchester's coach as the replacement.

Tuesday Aug 18, 2009 #

Run intervals ((fartlek)) 38:00 [4] 9.0 km (4:13 / km)

Back to the old fartlek circuit. Achilles very touchy early on and the run never felt particularly smooth or strong, but a bit faster than I was in the weeks leading up to going away (fastest loop 9.28), which is pleasing. Planning to ramp up the intensity of training over the next 3-4 weeks before backing off in the lead-up to nationals.

The trip in to work on the bike revealed what's changed and what hasn't - mostly what hasn't. I suspect there may be one or more sleepless nights coming up over the next few weeks as there are a lot of new railway sleepers sitting next to the track outside my place and the line is going be shut down in the evenings for most of the next month. It would be nice if they would tell us when they're actually going to work on our section so we can go elsewhere if we feel it necessary - occasionally this happens but usually not.

Also noted (thanks to the Sunday Age) an unfortunately-named competitor at the World Athletics Championships, the Korean pole-vaulter Kim Yoo Suk. This reminded me of something I saw in the biography of ABC newsreader Richard Morecroft where he said that one of the greatest challenges of his career was keeping a straight face while reporting the 1983 assassination of Korean foreign minister Lee Bum Suk.

Monday Aug 17, 2009 #

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

Back to Fitzroy Pool on a Monday morning after starting to get things back in order at home (getting up at 5.30 to watch the men's 100 in Berlin - now we know what Usain Bolt can do when he's trying all the way - helped). The Northern Territorians wouldn't cope too well with swimming in these conditions, but the locals were unperturbed. A fairly routine session.

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

A new Monday night location (at least for me) - Jess's place in North Melbourne. Most of this run was based around Royal and Princes Park. Started a bit slowly but ended up a reasonable pace for a Monday night, and felt OK.

Slowly settling back into Melbourne. It was certainly an interesting trip (a bit too interesting at times). I think if I do something like this again I'll want to do it with at least a bit of basic mechanical knowledge before going to really remote areas - not that it would have helped much as it turned out, but I felt pretty clueless out there and could have been a lot further from help than I actually was. I think I'd also go a bit later in the year if I did it again, especially if going to areas where water could be a factor (although not every year will have as big a wet season as 2008-09). Not sure when next time will be: perhaps in 2012?

Also finally heard from the insurers; the payout is going to be a couple of thousand more than I was expecting which is good news.

Sunday Aug 16, 2009 #

Run 1:08:00 [3] 13.0 km (5:14 / km)

For the first time in weeks, picked a bit of a dud route for the last run of my trip. The plan was to make a fair bit of use of Lakes Entrance's section of Ninety Mile Beach, but the beach turned out to be unpleasant going (too steep next to the water, too soft further up) and quite a bit of this ended up being through Lake Entrance's not-especially-inspiring suburbs. Took a long time to get going and even at the end wasn't flowing that well. The wind started to get up in the last 15 minutes.

The police station and primary school at Lakes Entrance both had the Aboriginal flag flying alongside the Australian one. Please don't tell Andrew Bolt.

The wind was also a factor in the last things-not-going-to-plan episode of the trip. I decided to come back through the Strzelecki Ranges and got as far as Tarra Bulga without too much drama, but it was already apparent from the amount of debris on the roads that getting through might not be easy and I wasn't hugely surprised to reach a tree fallen across the Grand Ridge Road about 10km west of Balook. It was small enough that I probably could have moved it if I'd really wanted to but by then I was looking for an excuse to get out, and detoured via the Traralgon road instead (getting a good look at some Black Saturday remnants in the process).

Actually, the diversion wasn't the last thing that didn't go to script - my last stop of the trip was at the football, and watching Essendon beat St. Kilda (despite their best attempts to make a mess of it at the end) wasn't really in the plan. I'm almost tempted to log the last quarter as a training session on the grounds that my heart rate was higher for most of it than it was at any time during today's run.

Now back home. Lots of unpacking still to do.

Saturday Aug 15, 2009 #

Run 2:02:00 [3] 24.0 km (5:05 / km)

Spent Friday night in Mallacoota, quiet at this time of year (no surprise) - quiet enough for kangaroos to be grazing the streets. It was also too quiet for Gabo Island to be a goer - will have to come back some other time.

I suspect there are some good runs to be had from Mallacoota (but I needed a better map to be confident of finding them without starting with a 5k road run), but there was a good option nearby - Genoa Peak. This looked a good prospect on the map for a 2-hour run - looked like about 11k from Genoa township (such as it is), with a summit elevation of 490 metres.

Woke up with the Achilles the tightest it's been all trip, but it warmed up well in the first few minutes (although still tender at times). While I knew there would be 490 metres of net climb I wasn't sure how it would manifest itself. As it happened, the first 3k was pretty flat, then a steep 1.5k climb, then rolling but net uphill to the carpark 1.5k short of the summit. The walking track was then steep and rocky, although the only part which was unrunnable was the final ladder climb up some rocks (I turned off the stopwatch for this). Mostly forest roads although there was 1k on the highway at the start and end. Really happy with my strength through the first half, and the view was a great reward for the effort! Didn't roll down the second half quite as smoothly as I would have hoped, but still not a bad day's work.

One thing which caught me by surprise halfway up (given that I thought I was in a national park) was recent logging next to the road, but a check afterwards of the map showed that the road is the park boundary at that spot. There are places in East Gippsland which are sufficiently remote that you probably could just about get away with illegally logging a national park without being noticed, but next to a road to a publicised lookout isn't one of them. (The underenforcement of environmental laws in Victoria due to a lack of staff resources has been a bugbear of mine for a while now).

Did some exploring of the east Gippsland coast on my way across to Lakes Entrance; I've driven the road west from Cann River numerous times but have never been out to the coastline. A reminder that this is still a remote place came when it transpired that there was no fresh bread or milk in Cann River due to a delivery stuff-up (just in case you thought these things only happened in the Territory); I didn't need either but the locals weren't amused. Something else which reminded me of the Territory was the insect plague that decorated the front of my car through most of the afternoon. Gippsland has had flood, fire and earthquake in recent times, so I guess it makes sense for locusts to be next on the list.

The one disappointment of the evening was that the Riviera ice cream outlet was closed. They're usually just around the corner from us at the Gippsland Field Days and I've come to gain a good knowledge of their products.

Friday Aug 14, 2009 #

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

It was a bit of a pity that my scheduled weekly rest day from running fell here; there's some good running to be had in this part of the world. (A search through the backblocks of my training diaries revealed that my first ever run longer than 90 minutes took place here in 1985, much of it on forest tracks now buried under real estate, but there are plenty of other options too). Instead took to the water at the Narooma pool, for a fairly standard session.

I'm now continuing to explore southward along the coastline, taking in lots of nice rocky points and beaches, with Merimbula as tonight's target. The forests are more open than I'd remembered them, although a lack of detail probably makes them more promising for rogaining than orienteering. They're also dry, which might make for some interesting fire weather if Sunday really is a windy high 20s day as seems possible.

Thursday Aug 13, 2009 #

Run 2:01:00 [3] 25.3 km (4:47 / km)

Long run round Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra - another nice place for it. Didn't feel that great on the run but was moving reasonably well, and coped with the hillier part later on without too much difficulty. Finished off with a loop around the back of Cook to take it up to two hours (this also meant I did the last few minutes in the company of the Hoggster on his bike).

I'm moving on today, down to the South Coast (after dropping into Parliament to see if I can spot anyone under 60 at the climate sceptics rally, other than the bull and Barnaby Joyce), then to Melbourne by Sunday. Not sure if I'll update between now and then.


Ths climate sceptics rally was as thinly populated as I thought it might be (there were 44 people there - I counted them - and no bull), so moved on fairly quickly towards the coast. I've done the Clyde plenty of times (although not for some years) so instead went further south, through Captains Flat and Araluen. This isn't a fast route - not much bitumen after Captains Flat - but quite interesting, particularly in the Deua river valley from Moruya onwards. Kept my eye out for interesting rock east of Captains Flat but didn't see a lot.

There were a surprising number of small bush blocks in the remoter parts of this trip, especially between Araluen and Moruya. Obviously the demand for lifestyle properties for recluses is larger than I imagined. They certainly wouldn't be viable properties for any sort of (legal) agriculture (I'd guess there's a certain amount of illegal agriculture in the darker corners of the hills).

Discovered in Captains Flat that one of the grand homesteads along the road has a sporting connection - Thomas Wentworth Wills was born there. The other one offers a sporting connection of a different sort as it was once owned by "colourful racing identity" Pete McCoy, whose formline includes a role in the Fine Cotton fiasco and being the other party to Robbie Waterhouse's 500-1 bet on an even-money horse.

(For the benefit of younger readers, a horse which purported to be, but wasn't, Fine Cotton was disqualified from a race in Brisbane in 1984. The plotters obviously weren't very bright as their better-performed substitute horse was a different colour; they might have had more chance of getting away with it if the paint hadn't started falling off on the way back to the scales).

Ended the day in Narooma, catching up with some old family friends in the process.

Wednesday Aug 12, 2009 #

Run 46:00 [3] 9.2 km (5:00 / km) +250m 4:24 / km

Had to take my car out to Fyshwick to get serviced in the morning. I've learned a bit about skilled labour shortages in regional Australia on this trip, and one manifestation of it is that it's almost impossible to get a car serviced there on less than a month's notice; the 5k service has ended up being at 8k.

I'd thought about using that downtime to run, but Fyshwick is not the most inspiring environment for it (in addition to the XXX Megastore that everyone knows about, it's Canberra's home of car yards, furniture stores and building supplies), so instead I turned to an old classic afterwards - the Red Hill ridgeline run. The only thing that was different to the 1980s version was that I was starting it from Flinders Way instead of outside the science block.

The first couple of kilometres of this are past lots of expensive, largely diplomatic, real estate on Mugga Way, with premises proudly flying the flags of India, Canada, Turkey (still with police box outside, even though it's 25 years since it was fashionable for Armenian extremists to shoot Turkish diplomats), the Netherlands and the West Coast Eagles. The climb to the ridgeline follows - the gradual way, not the full frontal assault - and then the stretch along the top, which has some of the best views in Canberra, especially on a clear day (which today wasn't). Gradually built into this run and felt excellent on the last couple of kilometres, most of which was downhill.

One thing that's changed since I was last here is that most of the tracks have names, but most of them are highly imaginative ones like 'Mugga Way ACTEW Track' and 'Powerline East Track'. I have some ideas for alternatives but an obstacle would be that as far as I know some of the people involved are still with us (you normally have to be dead to have something named after you in the ACT). There is a 'Gandalf Trail' which suggests a Tolkein fan somewhere.

And one thing hasn't changed - judging by the number of butts nearby the rock in the pine trees next to Flinders Way is still the place to go for an illicit lunchtime or recess smoke.

Run 1:00:00 [3] 12.3 km (4:53 / km)

Late afternoon session with Eric from his place on the western fringe of Canberra - mostly tracks out the back of Belconnen, with some suburbs coming back. Wouldn't have been too exciting if it was a regular haunt but a lot of it was new for me. Never really got going on this session though.

Dinner was definitely one in the 'only in Canberra' category - I went out with my parents and the surrounding tables featured three ministers and the PM's chief of staff. Didn't overhear any good gossip (there probably would have been more gossip to be had if we'd been to a Liberal hangout).

Tuesday Aug 11, 2009 #

Run intervals 20:00 [4] 2.7 km (7:24 / km)

The last beach intervals session of this trip, at Plantation Point at Vincentia on the Jervis Bay shore. Once again 10x1 minute. Felt pretty sharp this morning, although hints of a stitch at times (perhaps leaving a bit close to breakfast). The tide was coming in and I thought the rock shelf I was using as a marker might disappear beneath the waves, but it held out long enough.

I was in the NSW bit of Jervis Bay, but made a visit later on to the Territory bit (to be pedantic, it is now a separate federal territory, having split off from the ACT when the ACT got self-government in 1989). It's a legal anomaly which was responsible for one of the more interesting bits of legal argument I've heard of. The case was a defamation case over comments made on a Wollongong radio station and was being brought in the ACT (presumably because the law was more favourable there). The defence had gone to great effort to amass technical evidence that the allegedly offending broadcast could not have been received in Canberra and therefore no libel had been committed there, but were floored by the question "haven't you ever heard of Jervis Bay?". I'm not sure what the final result was; it was a long time ago.

Run warm up/down 22:00 [2] 4.3 km (5:07 / km)

Warm up/down. Took a while to loosen up, it being early in the morning. Felt a few spots of rain as I started but that quickly stopped. At that stage I hadn't experienced measurable rain since Shark Bay in mid-June, but that state of affairs was to alter on the way up to Canberra, and more so in Canberra itself which was on the end of a fairly impressive thunderstorm.

I came to Canberra via Nerriga. This was a slow route today because of extensive roadworks (the road doesn't get a lot of traffic so they don't have any qualms about holding you up for 20 minutes while they do something), but once they finish sealing it next year it will become a major route from Canberra to the coast - it's considerably less mountainous than the Clyde. If someone felt so inclined there would, I think, be a good business opportunity in opening up a roadhouse and/or cafe in the currently minuscule settlement of Nerriga - a good chance to get in cheaply before the traffic arrives. (Were it not already well and truly in Sydney's weekender orbit there might also be good real estate investment opportunities in the Jervis Bay area before people realise it's only 2 hours away from Canberra instead of 3). I hope, though, that someone in the responsible council(s) has a plan to do something about the rickety one-lane bridge across the Shoalhaven at Oallen, because I don't think it will cope too well with the (insert large number here)-fold increase in traffic that it's going to get soon.

In Canberra now for the next couple of nights.

Monday Aug 10, 2009 #

Swimming 35:00 [2] 1.0 km (35:00 / km)

This was definitely a swim with a difference. I stayed with some friends at Moss Vale (one of Cassie's bridesmaids and her partner) on the family property, which is a fairly impressive bit of property to put it mildly. There was the large rambling old house, the slightly newer house next door - and the indoor 25m lap pool alongside.

I've not swum in one of these before. The turbulence took a bit of getting used to - collected quite a few mouthfuls. A nice session though, and loosened me up nicely after yesterday's efforts (which took the expected toll on my quads).

Next move after this was in reverse to some extent, to get down to the coast at Stanwell Tops and along the Illawarra escarpment. (My original plan was to do this yesterday on the way out of Sydney, but I left the city too late for this to be an option in daylight, and I didn't want to miss it altogether). I wasn't tempted to go for a run at Jerusalem Rocks, one of the numerous thick Sydney sandstone areas we got to run on in mid-1980s NSW Championships, although in M14 we didn't see the thick stuff (at Jerusalem Rocks two of us did 7-7.5 min/km when Maurice Ongania won the open race in 11s). After that it was Kangaroo Valley and then Nowra, in preparation for the next chapter...

Run 41:00 [3] 8.3 km (4:56 / km)

This was a run born of frustration. I'd hoped to get to Point Perpendicular (number 82 on my list of 103), but it is on Navy land and I arrived at the entrance to discover that the Navy were dropping bombs on it for the next week. Will have to try my luck some other time, perhaps during the 5-days.

With that mission not accomplished I decided to drop into one of the beach settlements on the north side of Jervis Bay, Callala Beach, and see what it was like. The answer was that it has a stunning white beach stretching into the distance. I thought this would be a good place to run and it was. Loosened up very nicely and no sign of the early Achilles soreness of the last week; had to work a bit harder into the wind coming home but still pretty good. This was a pretty good consolation prize.

One oddity of this run was that at its far end I was about 50 metres in a straight line from the major local settlement of Huskisson - but there was an estuary between me and it. It's about 40km around by road.

Sunday Aug 9, 2009 #

Run race ((City to Surf)) 53:32 [4] 14.0 km (3:49 / km)

Turned the clock back a decade in the last 2k to turn a poor race into a decent one.

I had a preferred start so wasn't held up at the start to any meaningful degree, but found it hard to settle down. I'd forgotten how hilly the first 5k were, and while I felt OK on the hills I didn't really get set into an even speed or effort. Improved a bit after that and ran Heartbreak Hill (from 6 to 7) solidly, passing a lot of people in the process (I suspect this hill is where a lot of over-ambitious starters get a reality check), but still wasn't exactly flowing, and thought I was heading for a pretty ordinary time - the plan was that sub-54 would be decent and sub-53 excellent, but through the middle it was looking like even a sub-55 was no formality.

I got into a nice group at around 11k. 11 to 13 is mostly downhill; downhill running is rarely my forte but having some people to pace with was a real help and my confidence built through that section, as a sub-54 turned from unlikely to a possibility to a probability. Even more pleasingly, I was able to carry that pace into the flat last kilometre and finished off fairly strongly (even passed a couple of people in the last 200!). Splits for the last 2k were 3.25 (downhill) and 3.32 - I don't think I've even finished a 4k Corporate Cup that fast in years, let alone a longer race. In the end the final time was about a par result, perhaps a bit better. I didn't think I'd get down to my 52.02 from my last outing in 1990 but was reasonably happy to get within striking distance.

The sense of occasion for this race in Sydney is unlike anything in Melbourne and there is plenty of accompanying street theatre (it helps that much of the race goes through residential areas, unlike the Olympic Dream). There wasn't quite the drama of my first outing here in 1984 when a media helicopter crashed in a park next to the course (fortunately without serious injury to anyone).

The only negative is that you'd think that a race of this size could put their km marks in the right place. According to my GPS (supported by the split times) these were anything from 140 metres short (3k) to 120 metres long (7k). For those who've always thought that the longest kilometres in the race are Heartbreak Hill and the last kilometre, you're right - both of them are around 1120 metres long. (My splits were off the Garmin).

After a reasonably busy social schedule I've ended up finishing the day in Moss Vale.

Saturday Aug 8, 2009 #

Run 51:00 [3] 8.2 km (6:13 / km)

An easy session with Tracy, exploring various bits of bushland from her place. Like most Sydney bush there are a fair number of small tracks, most of them a bit rougher than we're used to in Melbourne (especially the bit that involved edging along a cliff face above the Lane Cove River holding onto some metal pegs). A nice morning without having to work too hard - which then fed into a pretty relaxing day in suburban Sydney, in anticipation of events tomorrow.

The 'Oops' award for the week goes to the NSW court officials who were supposed to be sending a Hells Angel facing charges a list of the names and addresses of all the known Hells Angels in NSW (whom he was prohibited from associating with). Unfortunately, due to a mix-up, they actually sent him the names and addresses of all the known Comancheros in NSW instead.

Friday Aug 7, 2009 #

Swimming 33:00 [2] 1.0 km (33:00 / km)

Experienced the delights of the Kurri Kurri Aquatic Centre. This was a perfectly standard 25-metre indoor pool. Unsurprisingly for 9 on a weekday morning, the median age of the clientele in months was roughly equal to mine in years. A fairly reasonable session, on a morning when the front of my right ankle was feeling a bit uncomfortable (driving overuse syndrome again).

Entered Sydney the back way (via Wollombi, St. Albans and Wisemans Ferry) and then had a series of encounters with Sydney public transport. For the most part this went very smoothly and I even saw fit to say so on my Facebook status while on my last train of the day - with the predictable consequence that two stations later a squall blew some plastic into the overhead wires and we were held up for 15 minutes. (You can hardly blame the NSW government for that, although some people will). From what I've seen of the Sydney and Melbourne systems, the level of service and performance of the systems is similar (in fact Sydney's on-time percentage in the last year is a bit better than Melbourne's, having risen from abysmal levels a few years ago), but the lack of an integrated ticketing system in Sydney is a big minus.

Thursday Aug 6, 2009 #

Run 2:01:00 [3] 25.4 km (4:46 / km)

A long run from Laurieton. This is the one point on this coast where I've spent any meaningful time in the last 19 years; after the 2004 5-days at Armidale Cassie, Jim and I came down here for New Year's Eve at the holiday house of our old next-door neighbours from Canberra. It was one of the best such gatherings I've been to (not least because most people present stayed sober enough for long enough to be able to engage in interesting and intelligent conversation), although our hosts evidently found the evening (or one close by) especially enjoyable as their first child was born in the last week of the following September.

I didn't run from here in 2004/05 (instead saving my training for discovery of the fact that Stockton is no longer runnable), so was exploring new ground - largely an out-and-back south along the coast into Crowdy Bay National Park, mostly on gravel roads except for some walking tracks in the Diamond Head area at the far end. Got as far as Kylie's Hut, named for the mid-20th century author Kylie Tennant who used it in pre-national park days as an ideal lifestyle property for the recluse. Whether she was the inspiration for all the late 60s/early 70s Kylies (whose ranks I would have been part of had I come out with different appendages) is unknown.

The warm-up was again slow but settled into a very nice rhythm by 20 minutes in, on an ideal morning (sunny, still, around 6 degrees). Flowed very well for most of the next hour. A bit of a grind after that and slightly concerned that my Achilles soreness re-emerged a bit after 90 minutes (normally it disappears within 10 minutes and stays disappeared), but my pace stayed up. A pretty pleasing session.

Unsurprisingly Laurieton was a lot more lively at 10am than it had been at 7pm (especially as I think it was pension day).

I farewelled the Pacific Highway today; I won't miss it. The last couple of days have reinforced a view I've had for a while that this is the Australian corridor with the most potential for a greatly upgraded rail service, because there are a lot of substantial intermediate destinations as well as the Sydney-Brisbane traffic. Not holding my breath waiting for action on this, though.

Now in the vicinity of Maitland (which can therefore be deleted from the list of large Australian towns I've never been to) at the Blatchford residence. En route I saw quite a lot of signs announcing road projects funded under the federal roads of national importance program. This normally translates approximately as "You are now entering a marginal seat: please vote carefully", and the coincidence of the location of the signs with the boundaries to be found at have done absolutely nothing to disabuse me of this notion.

In the news was a British study which apparently found (on what basis I'm not sure) that Australians were among the world's worst husbands and Norwegians the best. Must pass this onto Cassie.

Wednesday Aug 5, 2009 #

Run hills 23:00 [4] 4.6 km (5:00 / km)

The original plan for this morning was a repeat of last Tuesday - intervals on the beach (this time at Coffs Harbour rather than Mission Beach). I quickly changed my mind on this on discovering that it was high tide - running fast in soft sand was the last thing my suspect Achilles needed. Took a long time to warm up but eventually decided on a hill session on the headland dividing Park Beach (the main Coffs Harbour beach) from the next one to the north. 10x1 min hills with jog recovery; not an especially steep hill (about 5% at the bottom, 10% at the top). Felt reasonable despite the poor warm-up.

This was probably the most relaxed day of the trip since Darwin with only a couple of hundred kilometres of travelling to be done, and quite a bit of time spent on beaches (as long as you don't want to spend too much time in the water, August is actually an excellent month for this in this part of the world - lots of sunshine and around 20 most of the time). The driving, though, made it a bit less relaxing - first someone paying more attention to their phone than their driving almost ran up my backside at 100 km/h, then someone else (I presume) fell asleep at the wheel in front of me. I'd been behind them for 20k or so, and after a while they started drifting onto the wrong side of the road from time to time - after doing it several times in about 2k, they did it again with another car coming. At this point some serious use of the horn was called for and the oncoming car got out of the way. The wandering vehicle eventually hit a traffic island and then stopped without any obvious damage to person or property; the driver should steer well clear of Lotto because he's used up his luck for the week.

I renewed acquaintances today with NSW talk radio which was as obnoxious as I remembered it. This came particularly to mind on approaching Kempsey, which was the only town of any size to record a majority No vote in the 1967 Aboriginal referendum. If a similar referendum occurred in 2009 I suspect a lot of other places would join it and the influence of the shock-jocks and the Andrew Bolts of this world would have a lot to do with it. I did, however, enjoy the discussion of the alleged theft of 34 buckets of cucumbers from premises near Adelaide; first someone asked if they were Lebanese cucumbers, then someone else suggested that they be referred to as cucumbers of Middle Eastern appearance (for those not under the influence of the NSW media, this is the standard NSW police euphemism for Lebanese).

Finished up in Laurieton, a beach town south of Port Macquarie at the foot of a 500-metre mountain (much loved by hang-gliders). Like a lot of such places its main winter population is retirees, which means it's stone dead after dark. I'm not exactly a night owl myself but it would have been nice if more than 20% of the eating places had been open (it was particularly bizarre that the fish and chips shop by the wharf closed at 5).

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

Warm up/down for the hill session.

Tuesday Aug 4, 2009 #

Run 58:00 [3] 11.6 km (5:00 / km)

Gibraltar Range National Park, from the highway to Dandahra Crags and return. I got the idea for this one from a R4YL race report - I don't think I found the same tracks that they used as I didn't see anything which matched the photos but still a nice place to be. It's rolling granite country on top of the range, at about 1000m elevation; quite marshy in the valleys and got wet feet on a few creek crossings. Some of the run was on a dirt access road, some on a track which could be generously called a fire trail. Didn't do the final scramble up to the summit of the crags. Some great rock photo opportunities, although I think it would be a bit thick for orienteering. A pleasant run without being brilliant, in nice conditions (cooler than I've been used to recently, about 12 degrees, but by no means cold).

Returned to a message which was the call I'd been waiting for for three weeks (just as well I didn't stay in Darwin) - the insurance assessor (who had been sick for a week, hence the latest hold-up) is recommending a write-off. Definitely the simplest solution from my point of view.

Run 40:00 [3] 8.4 km (4:46 / km)

Part two of the day was at the other end of its high-country section, in Dorrigo. For the first time in a week this wasn't on walking tracks (if only because the main one that I might have considered was closed because of storm damage), instead taking a minor road out and back from the Rainforest Skywalk car park. Very pleasant rural country with occasional terrific views off the escarpment. For the first 20 minutes my run definitely didn't match the surroundings - felt semi-asleep at times - but then suddenly got going and was feeling terrific in the last 10 minutes.

The only vehicle I saw on this session was the school bus, but it is evidently less than comprehensive in its coverage because I saw a young girl walking along the road on my way out and saw her again 1.5km further up it on my way back. Must breed them tough in these parts (I wonder what happens on the occasional days with 200 or 300 or 400 - or, on one occasion, 800 - millimetres of rain?).

It's a bit of a shock to the system to see water so abundant, even on the tablelands where the grass is brown (presumably from frost). There is still quite a bit of standing water on low ground on the Clarence floodplain (it's easy to see why Yamba was cut off for more than a week), and any stream of any size is flowing strongly. This is one area where you can have a long shower with a clear conscience. However, anyone who knows anything about water policy in Australia knows that just because a region has plenty of water doesn't mean it has any to spare, and I was therefore totally unsurprised to see 'Hands Off Our Water' headlines in the local papers. (As it happens, I'm unconvinced that the idea, which has resurfaced again, of diverting some of the upper Clarence west has any great merit, but that's more because the Darling is a very inefficient way of getting water to SA than because of any plausible lack of water in the Clarence).

I was keeping my eyes open for potential orienteering country en route from Gibraltar Range to Dorrigo (via Glen Innes and Guyra), but didn't see as much rock as I thought I might have; the most promising country was in the Cathedral Rock area around Ebor, which is a long way from anywhere. Just to confirm I really am a tragic when it comes to looking for potential terrain, the first thing I looked at in the window of the local real estate agent at Glen Innes was any rocks in property pictures, although looking did allow me to discover a new real estate euphemism: "ideal lifestyle block for the recluse" (= bloody long way from anywhere). The location (50km west of Tenterfield) did look like it had potential as a bolt-hole for the sort of person who might be inclined to stockpile tinned food, bottled water and armaments and await the apocalypse.

Finished the day by passing through Bellingen, which has more cafes than I would have thought a town of its size outside big-city-weekend-trip range could possibly support (unfortunately most had closed for the day), before staying in Coffs Harbour.

Monday Aug 3, 2009 #

Run 43:00 [3] 7.4 km (5:49 / km)

The most eastern run it is possible to do in Australia - the Cape Byron loop walking track. This is nominally supposed to be a recovery session but there wasn't much recovery done today, with some ferociously steep (although mostly short) climbs out of the beaches, and a longer climb to the lighthouse. Coped with this reasonably well once warmed up. Finished up with an extension along the beach.

Sightseeing highlight of the session was undoubtedly seeing a whale just offshore from the lighthouse. I hope the photo turns out OK although I suspect it will be hard to see as I didn't have time to zoom.

The timing of this was a bit awkward in the middle of the day, but Byron Bay is a place where you won't go hungry if you want to have lunch at 2.15.

Today was a real mixed bag, featuring rainforest, mountains, waterfalls, hippies and beaches. I arrived in Nimbin to be greeted by flashing police lights in what turned out to be a speed bust. Before you start getting too excited, this is the sort of speed that involved the car in front of me driving at 90 or thereabouts in an 80 zone (evidently those laws are more rigorously enforced in these parts than those pertaining to the possession, use or sale of prohibited substances). The surrounding mountains and rocks are lovely, and the macadamia slice from the Rainbow Cafe gets my thumbs-up too. I can't, however, look too old or respectable yet because someone asked me on the street if I wanted a "smoke" (no translation needed).

It's also really nice being able to spend time in the sun on a beach without having to worry too much about being burnt.

The day finished in Yamba. (Weather station count: 81). I haven't been anywhere between Murwillumbah and Kempsey since 1990 and had therefore forgotten how abysmal the Pacific Highway is. It must be far worse in summer.


Oddity of the day 1: a WW2 memorial which contained reference to ships being lost as a result of enemy mines 'off the NE coast of Victoria'. I'm impressed that the Germans and/or Japanese managed to get a mine-laying vessel into the Hume Weir without anybody noticing (maybe the remnants will turn up if it drops below 5%?).

Oddity of the day 2: a sign which said that various environmental works were being funded by revenues earned from dredging the Tweed River. Makes you wonder what they found.

Sunday Aug 2, 2009 #

Run 1:10:00 [3] 13.0 km (5:23 / km)

I'd forgotten until I came in on Friday evening that the western suburbs of Brisbane are seriously hilly (especially in places where the street pattern doesn't follow the topography). This run was from Ben and Michelle's place in Bardon, but most of the run itself was in the Mount Coot-tha forest, mostly on rough tracks with a fair bit of climbing, especially in the first half. You'd get pretty strong training in this part of Brisbane (as I know many readers do). Came up better from yesterday than I expected, and no sign of the groin twinge so that looks like a one-off.

Most of the rest of the day was spent in the hills behind the Gold Coast, after traversing various examples of questionable urban planning to get there. It's a bit scary to realise that I'm only 12 years away from being eligible for the various "mature living" developments being advertised (although somehow I suspect the only 50-year-olds to be found anywhere near such places are the models in the advertisements). Springbrook had its spectacular moments, although a lot of the walking tracks are still closed from landslides after the May rains. The area in general was somewhat afflicted by weekend-getaway-close-to-major-city syndrome, with Tamborine Mountain being particularly overrun. Finished the day through the upper Tweed valley, which is gorgeous, especially on a clear winter day like this one.

Saturday Aug 1, 2009 #

Run 2:18:00 [3] 24.0 km (5:45 / km) +740m 4:59 / km

Binna Burra to O'Reillys via the Coomera River extension. This was one I'd been looking forward to for a while, the longest (and best) of four successive runs largely on national park tracks. It was also a good group run (more or less required by the logistics of a route where the two ends are 70km apart by road). We had two bunches heading in opposite directions, with my company being Mark Gregson, Olly Mitchell and James Sheldon. I haven't been here since walking the track (in the opposite direction) as a 15-year-old (by which stage I had already more or less grown out of Surfers and looked forward to our then-regular Gold Coast trips mainly for the mountains).

Most of the climbing was in the first half. This also featured the roughest part of the track (with quite a bit of rock-hopping and several creek crossings), and most of the best scenery, along the waterfalls of the upper Coomera Valley. (A later lookout from the divide down into northern NSW was pretty spectacular too, though). The gradients were never steep, and the last 7km was all gently downhill.

It was a steady run, although I had a bit of a scare with a twinge in my groin about 10km from home - it's a long way out from there had it packed up. (It didn't - was tight after finishing but seems fine now). The pace definitely picked up on the final downhill with the later sections well under 5 min/km - James went off the front but drifted back again towards the end.

A very enjoyable day; thanks to everyone else for helping to make it happen.

(And I obviously missed the news that the Australian Grand Prix was rescheduled to take place on the road up to O'Reillys today).

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