Mother’s Day Classic

I was undecided about running this, and only entered a few days before the online cutoff. Another “fun” run, yeah, I’m kinda over them. But this one was local, so no big crowds or hours spent driving into Melbourne. And it was single-digit distance, so I wasn’t expecting any issues with hips or knees.

The idea was to wear pink. Cos, you know, I own so many pink things. Not. So when I picked up my race number (pink), I bought a pair of pink shoe laces, and then a pink cap at the next shop along. Ta dah, all kitted out.

We (the Step Into Lifers) met up near the lake, and warmed up by jogging to the start line.

With minimal fuss, we were underway. There was still a bit of a crowd to get out onto a narrow path, and my achilles is still giving me a bit of grief, so I was happy to hang back and get properly warmed up. That took about half a lap (2km), by which time the crowd had thinned out a bit. Then I needed a pit stop at the 3km mark, and then I could relax into it.

The course was two laps of the reserve, and 100m past the start/finish, I could hear the race winner being announced as he finished the 8km course in 24 minutes(!). At least I avoided being lapped. Just. The second lap was a lot more enjoyable than the first; I passed lots of people and generally had an enjoyable run.

8 km in 46 minutes.

This one actually was a *Fun* Run, and I’ll definitely be back next year.

A sea of pink!

Thanks to Jenny for the happy snaps.

SS#5 Irishtown

The great thing about orienteering is that there is an almost infinite number of ways to stuff up. I tried a new one today – one I haven’t done before, in 10 years of playing this game.

We had a slightly different Start procedure. Normally, you stand in front of your (face down) map and wait for the Start beeper. This time, we punched the Start, and then walked over to the pile of maps to pick one up.

(can you guess where this is going?)

I picked up my map. An A3 sheet of paper with a zillion contour lines. I actually checked the map scale for once, because it looked like it was printed at 1:15,000. Nope, definitely 1:10,000, just lots and lots of contour lines. I kept having to re-adjust to the 1:10 scale because it *looked* like a 1:15 and I kept over-shooting things.

I headed up the track, turned right at the saddle, and headed cross-country to the first control. After pulling up one gully too early, I found it in the next one over. But it had the wrong control number. It was control 124, when I needed control 125. I went down to the bottom of the gully, along the distinctive rock wall, and wondered what the hell was going on. Stupid course setters, they’ve put out the wrong control.

It wasn’t until Janine ran in, punched the control, and headed off again, that I thought to unfold the map and check the clue sheet on the map instead of the scrap of paper that I had been given earlier. Ahhhooopsshit.

I was holding a Course 4 map, when I was running Course 3. Bugger. What to do? Two options – stay on the shorter Course 4, or go back to the Start and get the right map. I’d already bumbled around wasting time on the wrong control, and I knew I’d get razzed badly if I stayed on Course 4, so I trotted back to the Start, and started again.

Funny how this time around I noticed the large course labels by each pile of maps. Were they there last time? I really don’t remember.

Anyway, I got my re-start, headed up the track, and turned right at the saddle. Control 125 was further out than 124, so I latched onto the large mining channel which I’d spotted first time around (useful that!). Dropped down one spur too early, and trudged up the gully to the control. Finally!

I was a bit wobbly on the way to control #2 before I eventually got it together and managed a clean run through the next 10 controls. Control #12 provided an exasperated giggle. The control was on a rock on a spur. I was coming at it from the wrong angle, because I’d contoured from #11 instead of climbing. I couldn’t see a control, or a rock; just two people sitting by a tree watching me approach. I initially thought that it was a photographer, and tried to avoid them. Still no control. I stopped trying to be clever, and climbed up to the track neat the high point. Turned around, took a bearing, and there was the bloody control about 20 metres in front of me. I may have said Words out loud. The two spectators very politely said, “we were being very good.” (by not telling me where it was). Yeah, dammit!

Map: Irishtown
Course: 3, 12 controls
Course distance: 5.1 km
Distance covered: 6.95 km
Time taken: 1:33

An Easter Story

(as posted on FB, and reproduced here for your amusement)

Day 1. Mr and Mrs Easter Bunny awoke to discover, to their great delight, that the stork had delivered an egg to their humble home.

Day 2. Sad news. The egg was eaten sometime yesterday by a marauding intruder, leaving nothing but an empty shell. Bunny blamed the cat, but Mrs Bunny is having a bit of trouble hearing properly and wasn’t sure whether he said “cat” or “fat”. She is refusing to speak to him until he apologises.

Day 3. Disaster. Mrs Bunny has disappeared. After searching frantically for a few minutes, Bunny realised how quiet and peaceful the house was, and decided not to alert the authorities just yet.

Day 4. Mr Bunny is shattered. His spirit crushed. With his missus and egg missing, presumed eaten, there is a gaping hole where his heart used to be.

Day 5. What? You always knew that it would end like this…

Run For The Kids

My third, and most probably last, go at this event. Nothing went wrong; it was all just a rather frustrating experience. Feeding 35,000 people through the baggage area, toilet area, and Start line must be a logistical nightmare, and standing in line after line really doesn’t do it for me.

I drove down last night (because the thought of a 3:30am wake-up didn’t appeal much either) and stayed with Ted and Margi – thanks HEAPS guys! – which left me with a 15-minute drive into town this morning. Followed by a 20-minute hunt for a car park. I got lucky on my second loop with a roomy spot under a large tree, in a road that I would remember how to get back to afterwards! Even if it was over a kilometre from the event arena.

Then I queued for a toilet. Followed by a queue to drop off my bag. Then I wandered around trying to spot the other Step Into Lifers from Bendigo. No chance! I could hear the first wave of 15-kayers being called to the Start line so I wandered over to my yellow wave. And queued to get in. Queued to get to the Start line after the hooter went off. Queued and elbowed around the hairpin and through the tunnel and along the freeway. The crowed never thinned, and there were still elbows flying everywhere right up to the final turn into the finish straight. Saw the queue for bag pickup and shuddered. Walked around, stretched, and resigned myself to yet another queue. 20 minutes later, I was reunited with my phone and found out where the others were meeting for lunch. More queues to get out of the park and over the road. Sigh. So over it! So glad I don’t live in Melbourne any more.

15 km in 1:32 moving time

SS#4 Glenluce South

The Sprite had decided that it might be fun to start early, and then head into Castlemaine for lunch. Simba and I hitched a ride to the event, and all three of us started at the same time (on 3 different courses).

I picked up my map. Holy crap! Nearly 1½ kms to the first control, assuming I could travel in a straight line. I stood there for a while, trying to identify a logical and/or easier way to get there. I could hear Sprite’s brain ticking away as well, so went over to see if she had the same first control. Haha, no. Hers was probably close to 2½ kms away on a map twice the size. I laughed!

I followed her down the gully and out to the road, where she soon disappeared out of sight. I’d planned to run to *that* corner and then cut across the flat bit and pick up a rough track which should take me to within a whisker of the control. Never saw the rough track. Having head-high scrub didn’t help either, as I pushed my way up what I thought was the correct gully. Ended up one spur short, but easy enough to identify.

Fairly smooth travelling through the next half dozen controls. Control #8 proved tough going. There was a track option, which added a fair bit of extra distance, so I went straight. Into more head-high scrub and lots of pushing and shoving. Not fun. I was looking for a pit at the base of the slope, so stayed close to the edge of the slope. When I popped out on the track (yes, that track, which I should have done in the first place), I walked back down and found it easily. It was hidden under a tree, and I must have passed within inches of it.

More entertainment on the way to control #10. It was another long leg, and I was planning on heading roughly straight, as there were lots of features to follow. Only nothing on the ground matched what I was looking at on the map. I couldn’t make sense of it, and I didn’t know where I was. All I could do was keep walking in the right direction and hope!

I didn’t work out what had happened until I was talking to Silver Fox afterwards, because she had done exactly the same thing. On the marked straight line from #9 to #10 was control #6, quietly minding its own business. And when the map is held sideways and slightly scrunched up, a “9″ and a “6″ looked bloody similar. So I was travelling between 9 and 6, but navigating from 6 to 10. Arrgh. No wonder I couldn’t figure out what the erosion gully was doing there.

Finished, eventually, near the bottom of the field.

Map: Glenluce South
Course: 3, 12 controls
Course distance: 6.4 km
Distance covered: 8.6 km
Time taken: 1:56

Then us girls left the Invisible One to his own devices while we found a cafe in town, and refuelled on frittatas and coffee, before wandering through the Sunday markets.

The Quest of El Dorado

SS#2 Rowdy Flat, Yackandandah. Saturday

My leg had been feeling a bit stiff and sore all week (not surprising really), so I wasn’t really sure how it was going to cope in this terrain. We all had afternoon start times, and it was hot and sunny when I set off. I started carefully, sticking to the tracks whenever I could. I got the first half dozen controls without too much trouble – although I was mostly walking. Slightly petrified that I would fall and land on the knee.

Came unstuck at control #6, even though I thought that I’d navigated correctly. Discovered how under-mapped the area was, when I could stand at the edge of a very distinct erosion gully network, and not be able to find it on the map.

Bumbled my way around the rest of the course, not navigating very cleanly at all. It seemed that every second control, I would have to relocate off something distinctive, like a track, whereas I should have been able to land on it directly. My brain was getting frazzled and I was feeling a bit stressed and very hungry! I never get hungry when I’m actually running (hunger comes afterwards). Er, “running”. As in walking. My guess is that I was dehydrated, and rapidly losing brain function. I nearly gave up on the last control. I just could not find it, and could not make sense of the map.

Very glad to finish. And not last either.

Map: Rowdy Flat
Course: 3, 18 controls
Course distance: 2.7 km
Distance covered: 5.94 km
Time taken: 2:15

Discovered that several people were staying at the caravan park in Beechworth, so decided that I’d gatecrash the party too. That, and the appeal of a hot shower. We ended up going into town for takeaways. Best fish and chips I’ve had for a while.

SS#3 Kangaroo Crossing, Eldorado. Sunday

My leg pulled up quite well, even though it’s still very bruised to touch. I can bend it quite happily at last, so no damage done after yesterday’s clambering. I set off this morning with a bit more optimism, which lasted precisely until I discovered just how evil the first leg to control #1 was. Eeek! 1.3 km straight line across a rock-strewn crap-infested mountain. I actually stood still at the Start trying to figure out the best way through.

In the end, I just started walking. From what I can tell from the GPS trace, I actually landed on the right piece of grey rock, but didn’t see the control. I started towards the track to relocate, when I landed on a distinctive yellow and grey pancake, and went back in from there.

Then a few close-together controls, and back down the map on another long leg. I was a bit more sensible about this one, and went wide and dropped onto the road. Walked along the road for about 100m and got tooted and waved at by people going home already. Yeah, yeah. Climbed up to the next control and got around the remaining handful somewhat less than cleanly. Glad to finish (and not DNF), and happy to finish with a bit more brain power than yesterday.

Map: Kangaroo Crossing
Course: 3, 12 controls
Course distance: 4.5 km
Distance covered: 6.55 km
Time taken: 1:56

Trail Runs and an Ouch!

So, I hear you ask, how’s the New Years Resolution thingie going? Well, actually, quite good. The Plan went up on the fridge, and I’ve mostly managed to stick to it. While it was ferally hot during January and February, I’d be up and into Bendigo for a run at 7am.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, of course. There seems to be something every week that stops me sticking to The Plan completely – heat, lack of energy, sore hip, sore calves, sore achilles, bushfires. But overall, I can start to feel myself getting fitter and stronger.

I was having such a wonderful run on Tuesday that I forgot to pick my feet up on a particularly rocky part of the walking trail and went flying.

It’s amazing just how suddenly a body can stop.

When I eventually rolled over and surveyed the damage, it wasn’t pretty. A decent-sized triangle of skin ripped open just below the kneecap, full of dirt, and blood pissing everywhere. The other knee and elbow came off pretty lightly, in comparison.

I was still ~2+km from the van, so nothing for it but to start walking. I actually jogged the last part of it, because I was due in at Job002, and had a bit of a cleanup job to do first. Thankfully the first aid kit in the van had enough cleanup materials, but only just.

Here it is that night. And yes, it hurts!! That’s a 5mm hole underneath the flap of skin.

Wyndham Waters Cyclogaine

Teamed up with Bruce (who knows I’m not cycle-fit! Expectations were lowered appropriately) for a 6-hour cyclogaine around Werribee. This was a multi-choice answer format, based on random things like, How many tyres on the flying fox (answer: 3), How many culverts under the road (9).

I’d decided to take the MTB-turned-roadie for the day, because it’s wearing street tyres, it’s a bigger frame than the other MTB, and is generally the better bike. Only problem is that it doesn’t fit the map board without a LOT of adjustments. So I didn’t have a map board. That was okay with Bruce – he got to navigate, and I got to handle the clue sheets.

Not sure who got the better deal. Any navigation mistakes were Bruce’s, obviously. But I couldn’t point those out, because I didn’t have a map!

I’d started to run out of steam by the 4-hour mark. Bruce didn’t slow down for another half hour until his bike took pity on me and got a puncture. Two dead tubes and a quick repair later, we trundled off again. We finished off the nearest loop, and rolled into the Finish with 6 minutes to spare.

Map: Wyndham Waters
Distance covered: 64 km
Time taken: 5:53

Got third in our category, sixth overall. Not too shabby, I reckon.

And the Orienteering

I woke up with an incredibly stiff and sore left hip. Bloody hell. What’s wrong with the damn thing now? So frustrating. :-(

SS#1 Mount Baw Baw

But first, a steep 500m walk up to the Start. I was one of the early starters, and trotted off towards the first control. I quickly learned that yellow areas were the ski runs – now open tussock – and that green areas were to be avoided whenever possible. This greatly simplified navigation, although there was still plenty of opportunities to get it wrong.

I got the first handful of controls right, and was pleased that I’d done a bit of a reccy the day before when two of my controls ended up at the summit cairn and the viewing platform at the lookout. I always had a sense of knowing where I was in relation to everything else on the mountain.

My only error was the leg to control #9. I’d drifted after Ron for the first half, before he disappeared into the green. I definitely wasn’t going there, and decided that running the track down the ski run and back up the other side of the green was a better option. Did not see the track across the top. Which was far shorter and far less climb. Was a bit stuffed by the time I finally climbed up to the control.

Control #12 was a bit inaccessible – I cold see the feature; I just couldn’t get into it. Ditto control #14 which was in the middle of a large section of green. The Finish punch was a bit dodgy too. I read the navigation correctly (many didn’t!) but was faced with a wall of people all looking away from me. The control was at the finish line of the trail race, but on the wrong side of it, with no clear access. I literally had to push my way through spectators to get to it. Very bad course planning.

Overall, happy with my run though. The hip held out while I was running, but seized up again once I stopped. I abandoned any plans of doing the night run or the mountain sprint the next day. Bummed. Going to do the half marathon next year though. This place is awesome!

Map: Mt Baw Baw
Course: 3, 17 controls
Course distance: 3.7 km
Distance covered: 5.13 km
Time taken: 59 minutes

Mount Baw Baw

Is a hell of a long way to drive for a 1-hour event. After a short Facebook discussion, I got a lift with Jim and Craig up to the mountain on Friday night. Craig was driving Jim’s car, because Jim had already been driving all day and “was going to fall asleep in the back.” Did. Not. Happen. lol! We stopped for groceries at Chirnside Park (my old stomping ground) before reaching a very damp foggy mountain about 8pm.

The next morning, Craig left early to go and run a marathon. I left a few hours later to go for a walk. The plan was to walk up the marathon route towards the incoming runners, but I ended up walking the trails around the summit instead. I kept criss-crossing the taped-off route, which seemed to go all over the place. Met a few other orienteers doing the same thing, and took loads of photos.

Distance covered: 12.7 km
Time taken: 2:44 walking time


Later that night, we headed down to watch the presentations (Craig got 5th! Awesome effort) and a movie, Desert Runners presented by Samantha Gash.