Wednesday, September 05, 2018

These are photos from the Greatest Virtual Runners Bingo...

These are photos from the Greatest Virtual Runners Bingo Challenge, which was held during August 2018.. As I took part in the challenge, I feature in several of the photos. The month long challenge was a lot of fun and required a bit of thought to achieve some of the goals. The Greatest Virtual Runners are a Community for those participating in the Greatest Virtual Run, a charity to encourage more autistic people to run and experience the benefits of regular exercise, currently based in New Zealand.

#runningonthespectrum #greatestvirtualrun2018

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Looking Towards the 2018-2019 Season

It’s the first weekend of September, 5 weeks before track and field season officially begins here.  I am still recovering from my heel injury, but I’m now back on the track doing light work as part of my rehabilitation.

The coming season is looking like a bumper season.  Firstly, it is my first season in the 50+/M50 age groups, which means mostly competing against different people, and more significantly, specifications for my hurdling and throwing events have changed.  Secondly, there are some additional major meets.

First of the majors is the Australasian Police and Emergency Services Games, which are being held in Mandurah, Western Australia, which is about 80km south of Perth.  I have held the Victorian 100m sprint titles for the past 2 years, and 200m for 3 years.  Only reason I didn’t retain the 400m title was because I left early to compete at the Victorian Masters championships, which were on the same day, but looking at the results, I would have easily won that event too, had I been able to be in 2 places at once. :)  The Games take place at the end of October, and there will be more announcements very soon about that.

My next major meet is the Victorian Relay championships, which are on November 24 in Melbourne.  I have competed in these championships for the previous 2 years, but this time will be the first I will be eligible to compete in the 50+ age group.  We are hoping to field a strong team for this meet in the 4x100 and 4x400m relays.

2019 starts with a huge weekend of decathlon action.  There are literally 3 multi event championships on that weekend, all here in Bendigo.  The first two are the Victorian and Australian Masters multis, which are the ones where I competed in the decathlon last simmer.  But this year, there is also the Victorian Multi Championships, run by Athletics Victoria.  I don’t know how these fit into the grand scheme of things, more to work out along the way.

At the end of January is one of the regular key meets of the summer season - the Victorian Country Athletics Championships.  This year, these are also being held here in Bendigo, which means less travel this time around.  Looking forward to seeing how I go in my new age group.

As usual, fire brigade competitions dominate through February.  I’m not sure I will make the AV Shield Final, as I think it clashes with the junior fire brigade state championships, where I am normally an official, as well as one of those looking after the kids in our care.

Then in March, it’s back to the track for the Victorian Masters Track and Field Championships in Melbourne, and somewhere around that time, the Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games, also in Melbourne.

The final meet for the 2018-2019 season will be the Australian Masters Athletics Championships in the last week of April.  This year, these championships are also being held in Melbourne, which simplifies travel arrangements, and I’m looking forward to taking part for the first time.

Anyway, it’s a long and exciting season ahead, and there’s more announcements to come as the season progresses.  I’m looking forward to taking part.  Stay tuned!

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Out of Season Meet, and 3 Years on the Track

This morning, there was an out of season meet for local athletes.  It was an opportunity to see how well our winter training is going.  The past week has seen a bit of a busy period, with the commencement of gym training, in addition to the usual throws and track training.

Yesterday was cross country.  After running the 3km course for all of the season so far, I opted to work on speed and run the 1km instead.  Finished it in 3:46, which was the fastest time on the course, and a middle of the field finish for the handicap.  With difficult weather conditions, some stiffness from the gym, and some on course challenges, I was happy with that time.

Today’s program started with the 100 metres.  I got a great start and finished in 13.51, without overdoing things.  Next was high jump.  Here, I jumped a PB of 1.30m.  Not bad for an event I’ve never really trained!

I decided to pull out of the triple jump, as a minor niggle in my left heel, from last week’s training, started to flare up, and decided on the cautious approach.  That meant a bit of a rest before the 400m.  Due to the cold conditions, I warmed up again.  Now, the heel flared up in the cold.  I tried a test run in spikes, acceleration was good, but as soon as I transitioned into a 400m cruise, it was no  good.  Only thing I could do was scratch from the race. :(

My final event was the shot put.  In cold, showery and blustery conditions, I managed a PB of around 6.4 metres with my first throw.  The other two weren’t as good.

Finished the day as an official (the spiker) for the hammer throw.  My job was to mark where the hammers landed, so the throws could be measured.

This weekend pretty marks 3 years since I took up athletics.  On July 4 of that year, I ran my first cross country, and on July 12, I ran my first track meet.  Things have certainly changed since then. :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Up Up and Away!

You may be wondering about the recent videos of glider flying on this blog.  That was actually unintentional, triggered by my content distribution systems, but I will take the advantage to explain.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of taking a couple of flights in a twin seat glider with the Bendigo Gliding Club.  A friend of mine has been a glider pilot for many decades, and he had been offering to take me up for a while, but as always, life gets in the way, between sporting and community commitments.  The school holidays provided a small window of opportunity to go for a flight.

Anyway, conditions were perfect for an introduction to the sport.  With a high pressure system right on top of us, conditions were clear and almost calm, with a wind of only a couple of knots, barely enough to move the windsock at the airfield.

I arrived around 2PM, as arranged, and the first thing was a bit of a safety briefing, from runway safety (not unlike safety around the track on training nights!), to various procedures, and an introduction to how the flight controls worked.  As I have had an interest in aviation for most of my life, this was fairly easy to follow.  There was also a bit of paperwork, as you’d expect.

Next, it was time to get prepared.  First, the parachute was fitted (this is standard practice in many clubs here), then I was strapped into the back seat.  The pilot then did his routine pre-flight checks before boarding and getting ready for take off.

The take off was bumpy and noisy, because of the grass runway, but once we left the ground, it was smooth, with the engine noise of the tow plane audible.  We remained on tow until about 3000 feet, where we separated from the tow plane and started gliding properly.  Conditions were very calm, and I took the opportunity to get the phone out and take a number of pictures, which quickly became dozens. :)  From this vantage point, one could see the local area in detail, and the mountains of the Great Dividing Range in the distance.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere was calm, and the sound of the air rushing past the outside of the glider was surprisingly similar to the background noise in a jet airliner, and it was easy to forget that we were running without an engine.

All too soon, it was time to land, and we made an approach and lined up for the runway, like any other aircraft.  Landing was smooth, except for the bumpiness of the runway, where we simply rolled to a stop.  Now it was time to unclip the harness and parachute and exit the aircraft, before the glider was towed back the the take off area.

Afterwards, we chatted, and I took the opportunity to take a video of another take off in the same glider from alongside the runway (posted here before).  After that flight landed, there was time for one more flight, so I got to go up again.  This time, I took video of the take off and landing, as well as more photos.  It was another smooth and uneventful flight, but the lower angle of the sun allowed different features to be seen from the air.

After the landing,everything was packed up, then we proceeded to the clubhouse for a quick coffee. 

The gliding was not just a great experience, but also a bucket list item that my first (and late) partner had put on the list, when he described his experience in a glider to me around 25 years ago, which he had before we met in 1991.  I remember him saying “If you ever get the opportunity to go up in a glider, do it”.  Well now, I’m pleased to say I have done it, and it was every bit as amazing as he described.

Gliding is definitely a sport that has a lot to offer, especially for those with an interest in becoming commercial pilots.  It’s also one of those experiences everyone should try at least once.

- Tony via Tumblr

Glider landing, taken from the back seat.

Glider landing, taken from the back seat.

- Tony via Tumblr

Take off in a twin seat glider, taken onboard.

Take off in a twin seat glider, taken onboard.

- Tony via Tumblr

View of the twin seat PW6 glider taking off at Raywood, taken...

View of the twin seat PW6 glider taking off at Raywood, taken from alongside the runway. I flew as a passenger in this glider before and after the flight in this video.

- Tony via Tumblr

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Midwinter Update

As June comes to an end, it’s time to take stock of where things are at.  Fire brigade is in recess for the winter break, and each of us are doing individual training to maintain fitness.  For me, that means athletics at the track, which I train all year round.  I have done a little plyometric work as well, though it has been hard integrating it so far.  These are the times when it’s good to have coaches to consult on how to tie the various components into a coherent and effective training program.

While on training, we’ve settled into a routine with a mix of speed endurance (which helps for my 400m runs) on one day and speed/plyometric/jumping on the other day.  I’ve also added a third day, which is dedicated to throws, and have been working on my shot put, discus and javelin on that day.  Hammer throw is something else I’d like to try.

There have been some promising signs in my training.  The latest is being able to maintain a 60 second 400m pace through a whole speed endurance session, and I didn’t feel too bad afterwards.  This had given me confidence in breaking the minute barrier for the 400m next summer.  Speed wise, I have had a couple of fast runs, but am still to prove I can generate that extra speed consistently.  Throws training has been very productive, with discus improving significantly to over 20 metres, while shot put has gained a bit too.  Javelin still needs a bit more work.  I also need to start incorporating the spins, shuffles and run ups.  Discussed a strategy with the throws coach that may work, by working on the run ups/spins separately, getting them right then integrating them with the throw, because attempting it all at once totally overloads my processing and the resulting throw is poor.

Competition wise, it’s roughly halfway through cross country season.  I have been focusing on the 3k events this year to try and get a little more endurance.  I’ve been able to get up to 4:50/km (14:30 for 3k) - nothing special, but reasonable for me.  More interestingly, that pace seems to hold for more difficult courses where others slow down.  Overall, I’m reasonably satisfied how cross country is going so far, even though I’m not going to break any records.  Soon, it will be time to switch to the 1km event and push my speed endurance to the limit to see what I’m capable of, after the training I’ve done so far.

We’ve had one out of season track meet so far, which has been described elsewhere, with another one coming up on July 8.  I’m looking forward to testing my 100 and 400m performances to see how training is tracking, along with shot put.  However, I have got into another interesting form of competition - virtual racing.  The idea is that competitors enter online, register with the race organisers, as well as the online GPS logging service that is being used for the virtual race.  A time period to complete the race is given, during which, competitors have to run the race, then upload to the tracking service.  After the race period, the organisers compile the entries and come up with a finishing order based on time to complete the specified distance.

In early June, I ran the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Global Running Day Virtual Mile.  As the name suggests, this was a virtual race of 1 mile.  I chose to run my race at the athletics track, where i had access to a measured mile.  In the virtual race, I recorded 6:41, but the GPS recorded me as passing the mile in 6:31, which was the officially recorded time.  In any case, this time was comparable to my 1500m runs from the pentathlon and decathlon around Christmas.

Anyway, my results were good, with the following:

Overall place - 209 out of 2868.
Gender place - 188 out of 1587
Age graded place - 88 out of 1587
Age group place - 9 out of 134
Finish time - 6:31
Age graded time - 5:42
Age graded percentage - 65.09% (shows I’m not a miler, as that’s well short of my normal 80-85% that I get in the sprints :) ).

According to Strava, I managed to be the fastest Aussie (out of 25), which was a total surprise!. :)

Link to the results are here -

I have since entered another two virtual runs, which I can do in one hit.  One is another NYRR event - a virtual 5k, while another is hosted by the Runkeeper service and is also a 5k.  Because the race periods overlap, I am able to run both races with the one event.  For this, I intend to run the local Parkrun on July 14th to log as my virtual races.  And because my GPS logging is synchronised to both Strava (which NYRR use) and Runkeeper, it’s easy getting my runs sorted.  This will probably be my last 5k for the year.

So far, winter is progressing well.  But there’s likely some big news on the horizon for the coming season, so stay tuned.

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Big Off Season Weekend

Had a big weekend of sport this weekend.  First, a bit of an update:

Cross country season is now in full swing.  To start off, I have been running the middle distance events, normally 3km.  Had been struggling, with a pace of slower than 5 min/km.  Then I took a week off to get married, came back last week, and ran 2.5km in 11:39, a pace of 4:39/km.  That led to a few friendly jokes about how married life is doing me good. :)

So back to this weekend.  Yesterday was a “distance handicap”, where each runner runs a difference according to their ability.  I entered the “3km” event, and was given a handicap distance of 2.96km to run.  Started out strong on the 1km uphill stretch.  The middle part of the event was undulating, before the 1km downhill run home.  Although the downhill stretch made things easier, I pushed it pretty hard.  Ended up completing the race in 13:59, at a pace of 4:43/min, and scoring third place on handicap.

Today was a track meet, to celebrate the re-opening of the local track, after being resurfaced.  I entered the 2 sprints offered, namely 200 and 100 metres, as well as long and high jump, and discus.

First up was the 200m.  Ran well, probably around 27 seconds, but I will never know, because the electronic timing system crashed (which has never happened before), so we had to run it again.  10 minutes later was the re-run, which was a lot slower.  10 minutes wasn’t enough time to recover from a 200m, and the time was a lot slower - 30.33.  It was more like a speed endurance training run.

After the 200m, I struggled over to the long jump.  As I was still recovering, the first jump was only about 3.2 metres, and the second was between 3.6 and 3.7m.  Had a longer jump for the third attempt, but was 1cm over the board, making it a no jump.  I got a measure for curiosity, and it would have been around 4 metres.  But 3.6 something will have to do.

Next up was high jump.  I haven’t done this since the decathlon, but wanted to give it another go.  I opted for an easy starting height of 1.10m, and worked my way up to 1,25m easily.  By now it was close to the time for the 100m, so I rushed 2 attempts at 1.30m, before retiring.

I used the 100m trip to the start of the 100m at a warmup run, and had another run through, before the race started.  Ran 13.76, suspecting this was affected by going lactic in the 200m re-run.

Final event was discus.  Here, I had my first go at throwing my new weight - 1.5kg for us over 50s, down from 2kg.  The smaller discus suits me, and I threw a PB of 17.95m on my third attempt. 

The new track felt really good, though the incident with the 200m made it hard to see how I’m tracking in terms of training, or the effect of the track on performance.  Hopefully there will be another meet before too long.

- Tony via Tumblr

Monday, May 07, 2018

Medal haul from the Victorian Police and Emergency Services...

Medal haul from the Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games.

- Tony via Tumblr

End of the 2017 - 2018 Season

Been a bit busy to update posts for a while, due to other aspects of life getting in the way, so just a quick summary of the rest of my season.

In athletics, there were only a few meets left.  Firstly, the AV Shield Final in mid February.  Here, I ran the 200 metres, triple jump and 4x200m relay.  Ran a 27.50 in the individual 200m.  Triple jump wasn’t as good as hoped, with a 7.73m best jump.  The 4x200m relay went reasonably well, though not in medal contention.

The athletics season finished with a busy weekend on March 24th and 25th.  The 24th saw me competing in two meets.  I spent the morning at the Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games in Croydon, where I ran the 100m, 200m and long jump.  Results were:  Age group (M45) gold in the 100m with a time of 12.71 (hand timed).  This result was achieved in a re-run, after the first run of my heat had issues with timekeepers.  The long jump started as the rain came down.  I got bronze, with a best jump of 3.78 metres.  The final event for me was the 200 metres, where I got age group gold and open bronze.  Time was 27.84 (hand timed).

After the lunchtime medal presentations, I made the short trip to Doncaster East, for the Victorian Masters Track and Field Championships.  In the afternoon, I ran the 100m and 110m hurdles.  I was entered in the 400m, but elected to leave early and head home for the night, due to fatigue from the long day.  With the rain almost cleared, my 100m time was slow, 13.85 seconds, almost a second slower than 4 hours earlier.  For some reason, my head wasn’t in the right place.  However, 20 minutes later, I ran a PB 27.10 in the 110m hurdles, winning the gold medal.

The next day, I returned to the Victorian Masters to run the 60m and 200m.  In the 60m, I ran a solid run, with a time of 8.42 seconds, which was one of my better sprints for the summer.  In the 200m, I ran 27.34 in tricky wind conditions.  While I got no medals on this day, I was happy with my performances.

February was also the peak of fire brigade season, with the state championships being held on the March long weekend.  Our team improved steadily throughout the summer, with a number of wins and placings in the local competitions.

In the state championships, we got third in the Y8, and narrowly missed out on a couple of other placings. 

Now that the season is over, my focus is on next summer.  After a few weeks of relative rest (meaning light training), cross country season has started, and I’m running a few 3km events for fitness in the early weeks, before transitioning to the 1k event.  I’ve also started plyometric training to improve my speed and power.

There is more big news in the pipeline.  Stay tuned for details.

- Tony via Tumblr