Trials and tribulations of the KSR trail running team.
Sun 24th February
I started this fortnight the same way I started the last one – with no run. I had a nice long surf in the morning, whacked my knee against a seat pretty hard in the afternoon which left me limping the rest of the day, and felt a cold coming on. No run for me.
Mon 25th February
Still sick. Had a stretch and that was about it.
Tues 26th February
My head cold had pretty much dissipated, so I popped the shoes on and had a late evening trot. A couple of day’s lay-off had done my legs wonders, and I was feeling really strong – if a touch stiff – until I felt the top of my gastroc twinge a little. Ended up walking the last few kays home just in case. Calf problems are never fun, but this was a little too close to a long race for comfort.
Wed 27th February
The calf was not good at all. I slept in, and went straight to see Neil Finn and Paul Kelly live in the evening after work. I had the calf compressed the whole day, elevated when I could (wasn’t often).
Thurs 28th February
Armed with a compression sock and full of courage, I braved 30 easy minutes after work. It felt surprisingly good – I seemed to have more trouble with a walking action than running. The calves weren’t liking the steep stuff at all, so I stuck to the flats mostly.
Fri 1st March
After a stressful day where I left my job, training was the last thing on my mind. Normally running is my meditation, but the calf felt really tight despite how good the previous night’s run had felt.
Sat 2nd March
I was determined to see out the running week with at least one good trot, so I massaged the calf during the day and hit the hills in the afternoon for a drenching 2 hours in the rain. Oddly, my calf seemed untroubled by the ascents, so I headed up Mt Coot-Tha, only to find my access to the Powerful Owl trail had been cut off by running water – a rare experience at the usually bone-dry expanse of rock known as Simpson’s Falls. I made up the distance with a few repeats up from the picnic area instead, then headed for home. These were fantastically cool conditions for the start of March.
Sun 3rd March
I was pleased with my calf’s performance the previous day, but I woke up a bit sore and didn’t want to exacerbate anything this close to Nerang. I jumped on the bike trainer in the afternoon for an easy 20min, followed by five sprint reps (1min all out, 1min cruise). I was surprised how good my lactic endurance was after such a slack week – normally it’s quick to disappear when I’ve had a slack week.
Mon 4th March
Woke up feeling fresh and less sore than the previous day, although I could still feel the calf just walking around the house when I first got up. I got out to The Gap again in the evening, fitting in a cruisy 8km with a strong finish.
Tues 5th March
Another good day with the calf, so I got my regular (well, semi-regular) Tuesday hills circuit in. Felt very strong, if not all that speedy.
Wed 6th March
I took advantage of the cooler weather and had a roll around the Mt Coot-Tha trails, completely untroubled by calf issues. Instead, my heel pain returned after I caught a rock awkwardly. Not the end of the world, but it certainly wasn’t fun. Wanted to take a camera with me, but the rain was just too heavy – Simpsons’ falls looked incredible!
Thurs 7th and Friday 8th March
Even though the calf was no longer an issue, I took it very easy on these days just in case, with just a cruisy half hour over moderately hilly terrain, mostly road with a bit of trail.
Sat 9th March
Mowed the lawn. Tougher than it sounds.
Sun 10th March
The short version: I had to pull out of another race at halfway again. Not happy, Dan.
The long version:
I’d never run Nerang before, but had memorised the course profile enough that I knew more or less what I was getting into. As this was a ‘B’ race, my goal was to run the second lap faster than the first, and not get caught up in racing until the final 10km. At the Hollyrood Road turnaround (a little over halfway through the lap) things were going according to plan. Ben and Caine had established maybe a minute’s lead over myself (then fourth) and third place, which I’d expected through the tougher terrain, although I was pleased that most of this gap was gained when I took a quick toilet break!
But halfway down the road to the turnaround I felt a little twinge in my left calf, near (but not on) the spot I’d injured over a week earlier. Evidently that section of the calf had been taking on the burden and I hadn’t realised. I took the speed back a touch on the long ascent back toward the velodrome, hoping it might relax and that I’d be able to carry on. Unfortunately every hill (up and down) seemed to make it worse, and I couldn’t stretch or massage the extremely localised pain out. By the time I reached the lap’s high point I’d resolved to pull out unless the descent improved things radically, which it didn’t.
In the end I wasn’t the only KSR team member to call it a day – Caine’s foot injury got the better of him in the end, too – so we moped around the finish line feeling sorry for ourselves for a while. But I was pleased to see that Ben was only two or three minutes ahead of me, even though I’d switched off the racing legs and more or less plodded home, with a few stretch stops added in. In the end I’d managed to catch third place (second, when Caine dropped) a few times on the uphill, and barely let him go on the downhill. And I finished feeling relaxed (with the exception of one section of my gastroc) and had more than enough energy to push a second lap.
To summarise, I’m actually a little stronger and fitter than I thought I was, but my last two ultras have finished in DNFs and that won’t help my preparation one bit. I’m of adding another ultra or marathon to my calendar before Kokoda – I need to actually finish a long race at some point!