Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Adventure Racing Aussie-style.

The Pulsettes (that's me in the blue shorts)

Yesterday was my first attempt at an adventure race, and a teams event, when I competed with two friends Zoe and Simone in the AROC Paddy Pallin Adventure Race.

For complete novices at this type of event we had nothing short of a brilliant day. We were very lucky with the weather, the only time it hadn't rained for any length of time in the past few days was for the day yesterday while we were racing.

The first two sections involved running, problem solving and navigating our way to checkpoints, then down to the water for the paddle. I was pleased to see a lot of boats remaining, and about a dozen groups could be seen in the distance on the water. The paddle was tough because it was windy out in the middle of the lake, but we overtook four teams and no one overtook us! We were thankful for our pre-event practice at Manly a few weeks previously. During the paddle we had one checkpoint to visit which saw Simone scamper up a headland and back to the kayak, then it was across a bay to another section of navigating our way around to checkpoints and answering questions at each. At this stage we were in the thick of it, with many teams all at that stage of the event.

About 3 hours had already passed, and it was time for the mountain bike section of the course. It was a fantastic course, really good to ride, and I think the ride was were we did all the damage. It was insanely muddy! At times we were carrying our bikes through knee deep mud and even waist deep water at one stage. It was really hard on the legs because it was so boggy, but we definitely had the upper hand on many teams in fitness. At one section halfway into the ride we had a rogaine were we had to jump off our bikes and scramble down into gullies to find checkpoints, then we were running back up out of the gully and all these men were trudging up the hill, saying "go girls". It was the same on the bike, we were riding hills that people were pushing their bikes up, but my legs gave up from lack of bike fitness after a while, training for a 100km trail run does nothing for your quads! I was conking out halfway up some climbs, but Zoe and Simone would just be pedalling past everyone, I was so impressed with their riding! Then while they waited for slow me to catch up they were able to check the maps, so I felt really slack that I wasn't able to do anything to contribute on the bike other than just try my hardest to keep up!

It was so exciting the last section, as we were counting down the time and still managing to get the last 2 checkpoints and then before I knew it we were riding a section of awesome single track as fast as we could back down to the finish line.

So many people were saying it was a lot harder than last year and many of teams didn't make the cut off time. At a total race time of 5:33 hours we were 3 minutes late back, with the time limit at 5.5 hours, but we got all the checkpoints and answered everything correctly, and were thrilled to place 2nd in the women's team race, out of a total of 29 women's teams!

We are talking about next year already, and hopefully I won't have to wait another 12 months before I get the opportunity to race as the Pulsettes (for Pulse Triathlon Club) along side Zoe and Simone again. In the mean time I am going to learn how to orienteer with the local Orienteering Club!

A big thank you to our crew, coach Dani and bike handler Brett (who cleaned both my bike and Simone's when we got home!) and cheer squad Clint.

Event Photos are available on the AROC website.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Training & the Brain

I've come to the conclusion that training for athletic endeavors is 75% mental and 25% physical. There are two major ways in which my head seems to always get in my way. First, especially when I'm working out by myself, I wimp out or don't push myself hard enough. This happened today when I kept working in one minute walks during my morning run. Ugh. Why did I keep doing that? I didn't really want to walk but my brain kept saying, "Oh, just walk for a minute. It will feel so much better. I promise . . . " And, then, I'd stop and walk. Ugh, that sucks!

This first mental problem of mine though is no where near as bad as the second. The reason for that is that I usually don't work out by myself. I'm either training with my women's tri group or riding with a friend. And, one of my strengths is that I will listen. Hence, if my women's tri coach tells me to do something, I just do it. I don't really think about it. I don't even consider not doing it. If I'm there doing a workout with him, I just do what he says. This, however, leads me to the second, and previously stated, worse mental problem.

I have the hardest time actually making myself workout. I seem to always be able to find excuses. It has been the case recently that I've been working so much that finding time to exercise is difficult, but that is also bullshit. Triathletes are busy folks and the rest of them figure out ways to train. I just lack motivation, will, something. As I ran this morning, I thought of Vegan Run Amok. She's training for her first sprint triathlon and simply does not miss a workout. She's got a plan and she follows it, every, single, day.

I lack motivation. Vegan Run Amok has mentioned a few times that fear is motivating her. She wants to make sure she can finish her first tri. Other athletes just seem to love what they do. What else explains marathoners, ultra runners, and ultra cyclists (is that what y'all are called?). Y'all must love it or something? The weird thing is that I love it too when I actually make myself do it. When I'm swimming, running, even cycling, I like it during the exercise, but I guess I don't like it enough that the feeling gives me the motivation to make sure I'm working out at much as I should.

What got me out of bed this morning to run was that I'm starting to get a little soft around the middle. Now, we can't have that! ;) That might motivate me for awhile, but hopefully my waist will shrink quickly and I'll need something else to motivate me. Anyone have suggestions? Any ideas how to increase motivation, commitment, or will? I need help!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Canberra Marathon

I am not a marathon runner. I like the long slow trails of a 100 miler. So when it came to figuring out what pace to run at the Canberra marathon on Sunday i had no idea. I looked at my PB set on the flatter course of the Gold Coast 3 years ago and looked at some of my race times back then and made a guess. i am about 4kg heavier now and Canberra is a hillier course so I was a bit worried it was all going to end in disaster.

Well I told myself I would just work it out on the day but in my head I really wanted a 3:15.

The day came and I went for it. I ran out way too fast had no idea where the 3:15 pacer was and did not have a watch on so I was just running out of control. Then the 3:15 guys caught me and I just hung on. 7km I felt out of my league but was just too stubborn to let go. 14km I started to feel good and was happy with the pace. 26km the pacer moved away but I still felt in control and would not be overly upset with a 3:16. 28km started to tire but knew there was something left in the tank. I just looked for someone running at the pace I wanted and hung on. It was good to just use their shoes as a focal point and try to keep my form. In my head I was hoping to get through the 35km mark ok and if possible dig deep at the 38km mark and push hard for home. 35km passed and then at the 38km mark I saw the 3:15 guys about 400m away. It was time to find everything left in me and drive for the finish line. I told myself "you have suffered for this long and if you push yourself for just a little longer you will get a PB. If you go soft now you will be cranky with yourself for many months to come. So suck it up princess and get running!" It was tough and it was a long 4km but as I hit that final stretch and could see 3:15 still on the clock it all felt so good. Net time 3:15:29.

I felt tired, very sore and a bit emotional so I disappeared into the hall for a bit and just sat there giving my body and mind a moment to let all the pain and suffering go. Then it was time to get out there to enjoy and watch the other runners cross the line.

I really liked running the marathon. It is so different from slow beauty of a long trail ultra but I can see the appeal. The Gold Coast Marathon is 12 weeks away I wonder if I can run any faster?