And a mug shot…
And a mug shot…
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
This was a last-minute decision to enter, as a conflicting local event got cancelled only a few hours before entries for this one closed (although Deb said they would have let me in anyway).
I drove down to Melbourne last night and stayed with Prue in her new/old house. Got fed, watered, air conditioned (lovely!) and went to bed early. Up earlyish this morning for the last part of the drive to Warburton. Long-time readers may remember that I used to live out this way – but it’s been 5 years since I last drove through. And no, nothing’s changed much, apart from a few extra traffic lights. The usual collection of dickhead drivers who find it acceptable to hold up an entire line of traffic just because they can’t or won’t do anything approaching the legal speed limit.
Aaaaanyway, enough of that.
We got to the oval, got the bike set up, and had half an hour to say hello to everyone I haven’t seen for ages. Then we were off. The first run leg was a scatter course – 9 controls out of 14. I’m a bit out of practice at this! I only made one dumb route choice which cost me a bit of time, but it felt awkward the whole way around. I had already decided not to try and push the pace. I walked a lot of the hills, and then took my time in transition; changing into bike shoes, having a drink, chatting to people. Letting Prue get ahead of me(!).
The bike leg was also a scatter – 12 controls out of 18. I took absolutely ages trying to identify a decent route, without much luck. In the end, I just pointed the bike back along the river and hoped for the best. The main route choice decision was whether to climb up to the aqueduct trail or to stay down in the streets. I opted for the trail, mainly because people have said how nice it was. Well. Getting up there wasn’t very nice at all! Ferally steep. The first short sharp climb, I was in first gear and going nowhere. I took nearly 20 minutes to push the bloody pushbike up one kilometre of road. The unsealed bit near the top was so steep my feet kept slipping.
Finally up, and yes, the trail is lovely. Next time I will drive to the top – I *think* the 4WD will make it. It was over 4 kilometres of flat, scenic, packed gravel track. And then back down into the hilly stuff. With a couple of controls to go, I realised that I’d miscounted the controls I needed to get. There was nothing else particularly close and easy, so I opted for flatness rather than closeness.
Got into transition about the same time as Prue, but after changing shoes again, followed her out onto the final run leg – a line course of 6 controls. I passed her when she slowed to a walk, and managed to hold her off as the temperature climbed and energy levels faded. Thankfully this final leg was a no-brainer; just hanging on until the finish.
Course distance: 3.9 + 10.5 + 2.5 km
Distance covered: 5.0 km + 14 km + 2.5 km
Time taken: 2:16
And then I dumped the compass and the Garmin and walked straight into the river (along with nearly everybody else). Icy cold, and very refreshing. Then pizza at the woodfired place recommended by Chloe. Good choice.
So there we were, sitting around having a coffee, shooting the breeze. Four people sitting in quiet exhaustion, having just finished a half marathon, while Jenny and I (who hadn’t run) talked crap about future runs. I may have mentioned that one day I would like to run under my age for a 10km. Er, that would currently be 46. Jenny may have said that that sounded like a good idea. Oh God. We may also have worked out that for three months between September and December, we would both be the same age, and that the 10km Bendigo Bank fun run also fell in that time period.
Crap. How’m I going to run a 10km in 46 minutes?!
Answer: lose 10kg and increase mileage/endurance. Simple really. ROFL!
My sister has also invited/challenged me to run an off-road half marathon with her in October. So another good reason (if I needed one) to lose 10kg and increase my endurance.
2013 was an experimental year for running and, I have to say, a bit of a failure in that regard. The idea was to increase my road running, so that I could do a few road-based fun runs with Step Into Life and get a decent 10km PB. The group training went okay, even though it was probably more low-key than I needed. The fun runs, however, were not. Fun. Or okay. I did:
Run For The Kids, 15km, had gastro the day before;
Puffing Billy, 13km, that was pretty good actually, and mostly off-road;
Run Melbourne, 10km, way waaay too crowded (and we started too far back);
de Castella, 15km, left hip failure;
Bendigo Bank, 15km, double knee failure;
Sri Chinmoy, 7km, energy failure (no excuses).
And bugger all trail running or orienteering. And no 10km PB. I don’t have a recent time for this distance, although I would guess around 55 mins if everything went to plan.
The graph says it all:
The grey bits are Step Into Life, the red bits are road running, and the orange bits are trail running and orienteering. Not enough orange bits. My lowest running mileage since I started recording on AP.
So the plan for 2014 is to increase my running mileage to 50kms a week (up from about 10!), plus 3 Step Into Life sessions (down from 4). Oh, and the weight-loss thing.