Sunday, January 28, 2018

2018 Victorian Country Athletics Championships

On the long weekend just gone (January 26 - 28), I competed at the Victorian Country Athletics Championships, which were held this year in Ballarat, a regional city west of Melbourne.  I had entered the triple jump, long jump, 100, 200 and 400 metres, and was also going to be in the relay teams.  A total of 7 events.

Arrived in Ballarat in tome to see a fellow clubmate compete in his 800m event, and checked into my only event - the triple jump, which I had in the evening.  Due to extreme heat forecast for the weekend, the whole program was changed, with events held before 1PM and late afternoon into evening on the first 2 days, and finishing just after 2PM on day 3.

After the morning’s events were run, I went to the caravan park where we were staying, setup my overnight stuff and had a quiet relax in the pool, so I would be ready for the evening session.

In the evening, it was time for the triple jump.  Started off with a jump around the 7.5 metres I have been doing all year, but quickly got over 8 metres.  Best jump was 8.22 metres, enough to take the bronze medal, and my best triple jump for well over a year.

Next morning, I had an early start, with long jump at 9AM.  That meant arriving at the track before 8 to check in.  The event started off a bit shake, with a few jumps around 3.5-3.6 metres.  I finally found my technique on the 6th and final jump at 4.19 metres, a season best, but missing out on a medal by 1 cm.

About 90 minutes later was the 100 metres, one of the events I always look forward to.  Got off to a great start, as good as anyone else in the field.  Finished with a bronze medal in a season best 13.20 time, comparable to last year’s performances.  While my starts are excellent, I’m feeling a bit lacking at high speed.  More to work on. :)

After the long afternoon break, and a stop for pizza on the way back to the track, it was time to settle down and enjoy watching some action before running the 400 metres.  The 400 was run just after 9PM under lights.  This was the first time I ran under lights, and the atmosphere was quite different and exciting.  Got off to another fast start, before settling down into race pace.  A tail wind in the back straight helped maintain pace.  Ran a strong second bend, with some encouragement from clubmates in our tent, then turned to face the wind in the home straight.  The final 80 metres was a struggle, but I finished with a season best 1:04.60, totally spent.  It was 5 minutes before I felt steady on my feet, and another 5 before I felt OK, but it was worth it.  The run resulted in a silver medal.

On the final day, I had one individual event - the 200 metres.  Arrived early again, this time to secure a good car park.  Checked in and made early preparations.  When the 200 came around, I had a minor issue with my right shoe not wanting to bite into the blocks when setting up, but felt a bit more secure when getting ready for the actual start.  Still, I didn’t fel this start was quite as good as the other 2 sprints.  However, I had better acceleration on the bend and entered the straight in first place.  I had hoped to use my acceleration to build enough of a lead to remain there, but one of the other guys - a fast finisher - passed me with 40 or 50 metres to go, and I had to settle for silver.  Still, it was a season best 26.90, and only 0.19 off my all time PB.  Allowing for a year of ageing, these are comparable performances.

After an early lunch and more enjoying the action, it was time to run the 4x100m relay.  I was running the third leg, on the same bend that I ran the 200m on a few hours earlier.  As I was the fastest over 100 metres in the team, I elected to run a little extra distance, around 120 metres, and worked with my teammates to plan our baton changes to make that possible.  I would take the baton as early as possible and hand it off as late as possible.  This would ensure the maximum time with the baton travelling at my higher speed. 

The race went pretty much as planned, and I took the baton near the start of my incoming change zone, then accelerated the final bit to top speed for the trip around the bend, before handing the baton at the last possible second (only had about 1 metre to spare!), giving our last runner, who is more middle distance than a sprinter, the best chance of making it to the line in time.  He finished in 4th position, but one team was disqualified, resulting in a bronze for us.

The final event was the 4x400m relay, a tough event at any time, but especially so in the heat of the afternoon, as the time was approaching 2:30 PM.  Again, I ran the third leg, and our team plan had me run an extra 10 metres, because I would cope best with the conditions.  After the second runner had started his lap, I was marshalled into position by the officials to line up at the changeover box.  As per our team plan, I elected to stay at the start of the box.  Took the baton cleanly (much easier at 400m pace :) ), then accelerated into the first bend.  Took it a bit easier than the previous night’s individual 400m, because of some tightness and the heat, then settled down for the rest of the race.  Surprisingly, I felt better as the leg progressed around the track, and pushed a bit harder into the home straight, now with a tailwind to help.  As planned, I changed with our final runner in the middle of the changeover box, 410 metres after I started.  We finished in 4th, but ran well, given the team members and conditions, as well as miscellaneous niggles between all of us. :)

In summary, 5 season best times, 2 good relay performances, and a final medal count of 2 silver and 3 bronze.  A result I am very happy with.  Next week, it’s back to fire brigade action with a competition at the local track.

- Tony via Tumblr

Quick fire brigade update.

Last Sunday (21 January), the fire brigade season resumed, with a competition in Mooroopna on a hot day.  The team did quite well, picking up a win and several minor placings.  My own roles were mostly quite different to previous years.

In the ladder 8s, I was one of the three who actually lifted the ladder into position.  I along with another guy got to do the actual lift, while the third person had to get to the foot of the ladder, hold the foot on the ground as we lifted, then help guide the ladder into position as it went up.  Despite this being our first lift together, and I personally hadn’t done one for a few years (no need for ladder lifts in C section), we got the ladder up fine, and the team won the event.

My next event was the hose and reel 8s, where I helped bring the second length of hose back to the hydrant.

In the sixes, I was the 7th team member, known as the reel catcher.  The catcher’s job is to grab the reel while it is in motion after it has passed under the disk, so the remaining pole can leave to do other work.  Then the reel needs to be safely guided until all of the hose has left it.  It can be a scary job, because for most of the run, the reel is heading straight at you at top speed.  :)

In the 4s, I ran a coupling.  I didn’t do a lot of couplings in the C side, but have been running this position well at training.

Finally in the Y8, I have been training a completely new (for me!) position.  Known as third coupling, after helping push the reel down the length of the course, I have to bring the third length back to the centre, where the first 2 lengths are joined at the time.  On the way back, I have to collect a Y piece from someone else, put my coupling in place and position myself next to where the hoses are joined.  Once in position, and after the second disc is hit, the two people on the other hoses have to break their coupling (while water is flowing through!), couple onto their ends of the Y, and I tighten the back of the Y (which has a long handle especially for that job), to complete the assembly.

Still working on the finer points of the job, especially catching the coupling and getting back as fast as possible, because we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to practice this part together.

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, January 07, 2018

I wasn’t a born sportsperson! (updated Jan 7, 2018)

Having completed the 2018 Australian Masters decathlon earlier today, I am reminded of a blog post I made in the middle of 2014, just before an autism fundraising walk.  The post outlined the changing relationship I have had with sport and exercise over the past 40+ years, from many physical coordination, sensory and other issues, to now, where I am able to successfully complete a decathlon, and meet many other challenges.

On the eve of a 24 hour fundraiser walk for autism, I have been contemplating my relationship with exercise and sport, and how I got to where I am today - healthy, happy and active, despite significant early challenges.

This blog post is a departure from the last several years.  Instead of talking about achievements, I will talk about challenges and overcoming them - the story of the unlikely sportsperson.  That person just happens to be me.  I didn’t always have the strength, power or the winning edge, in fact,as a kid I could barely make the finish line, let alone win, and I was the classic nerd who was last choice for any team sport at school.  So what happened?  And how can this benefit others?

Let’s go back to the start.  My first memory of sport was Little Athletics, a great program to get school age kids into track and field. This was around the start of my primary school years, and to put it bluntly, I finished dead last in every race, well behine the next kid.   After a summer or two of this, I basically quit.  There was a part of me who liked the idea of being good at some sport, like the athletes on TV, but I had resigned myself to the “fact” that it would never happen.

Through most of my primary school years, I never really gave much thought to sport, it was simply something I was never good at, though surprisingly, I did enjoy school sports day, as I preferred being outside to being in the classroom, despite being a good student academically, with a number of As.

When I was 10, a friend got me interested in judo, and I decided to give it a go.  Spent a couple of seasons in the club, and enjoyed it, but making progress was slow.  A year later, I joined the local junior fire brigade, and started training for their competitions.  Again, at that time, progress was slow, though steady.

My teenage years could be described as the time of “accidental therapies”.  What I didn’t know, but now strongly suspect is that I actually have some level of movement issues, which weren’t known or understood at the time.  The first of these “accidental therapies” was, surprisingly, football, specifically Aussie Rules (now often called AFL).  The year I turned 13, I decided to try playing for a local club. As a footballer, I was a disaster, but what really did work was the intense training.  The coaches were old school, and I took to the hard training regimes like a duck to water.  By the end of the season, I still couldn’t play football to save my life, but my fitness, especially strength, speed and power had improved out of sight, so much so that my role in the fire brigade events had to change the following summer, to take advantage of my new found speed, and I became a consistent placegetter in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and triple jump at school athletics, and always picked for inter-school competitions.  I also found that intense training also helped me mentally, I felt good after the footy training, and the world seemed a better place.  I had an interest in developing my strength and speed further, though opportunities were limited at the time.  Already, exposure to the right environments was having a huge beneficial effect.

At this time, I played cricket too, which I enjoyed, but again totally sucked at! :)

The next “accidental therapy” came a couple of years later, and I blame my younger sister! :)  At the time, she was in the local gymnastics club, and would often practice at home.  Being a visual person, I noticed imperfections in her practice and started helping her with her form, so she could rol and tumble with more grace.  One night, while helping her, the coach dropped in and saw what was going on.  She invoted me to come down to the club and become a coach.  Of course, that meant _doing_ gymnastics, which I hadn’t contemplated until that moment.  I joined the club, became a part of the older boys’ class and quickly studied to be a coach, coaching the boys.  Turned out much of gymnastics suited me.  I had the strength for rings, and the power for the vault.  Floor was the hardest, because my late start meant I lacked flexibility, especially in the upper body.  My flexibility did improve (even today at 46, it’s still somewhat better than average).  But the big thing that I noticed is a lot of my clumsiness has since gone.   There are traces of motor coordination issues that sometimes crop up, but the bulk that I had as a kid became insignificant after gymnastics. In any case, I stayed with the club until my early 20s, when I left home.  For many years, my Saturday would start with coaching the younger kids, one or two of whom were referred to the club by a paediatrician to help with coordination issues, and later working with the older, mostly teenage boys, as a coach and role model.  I also had to give up the fire brigade competitions, which I had enjoyed a fair bit of success with, especially after playing football and starting with the gymnastics club.

After leaving home, I drifted away from sport for around 10 years, but remained active, mostly walking.  That was until my mid 30s, when I discovered the various forms of orienteering.  I had a lot of success with Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF), a form of orienteering that involves using radio direction finding techniques to locate controls, instead of having them marked on the map provided, at international level.  I also did reasonably well at other forms of orienteering, particularly street orienteering and rogaining.  I also joined the Melbourne Frontrunners, a GLBTI running and walking group, and ran with them most Saturday mornings, and from there, ran the occasional fun run, up to and including my first marathon in 2008.  This period reminded me of the psychological benefits of exercise.  I enjoyed pushing myself to the limit, and with distance running, you’re really competing against yourself for that PB, or to finish a new distance (the feeling of completing a marathon is well worth the pain! :) ).  However, I also knew distance running wasn’t where I’d be competitive on a wider scale. Running for me became a social thing, the Saturday run and coffee, and the camaraderie of running races and comparing notes after the event.   After the marathon, I decided to take up gym workouts.  I had tried when I was younger, had built some strength then, but not much muscle mass. However, now 40, I found both strength and muscle mass easier to come by.

In 2010, I left Melbourne and rejoining the fire brigade became a distinct possibility that was not lost on me.  As it turned out, that process started only 3 weeks after moving.  I got back into competition, as described elsewhere and have had a lot of success, as I have written about over the past few years in this very blog.  No need to say too much more here (it’s been said elsewhere in this blog), other than to say I am in a sport which suits my traits perfectly, and despite having a number of coordination issues as a kid, I’ve managed to find a niche that I enjoy, and have found the benefits of exercise and competitive sport have been a major contributor to my life. 

2018 update:

The past few years have seen some major changes.  It all started in early 2015, after the fire brigades state championships in March.  While I was the fastest on the track in our team, I realised that despite my speed, I was still physically unable to get from the start to the top of the ladder to win or even place in the hose and ladder 5s.  I was the limiting factor.  At 46, I knew I could claim “old age”, but I didn’t like the sound of that idea.  The alternative was to try and do something about the problem, and the logical avenue was to get some sprint coaching.  One of the guys in our team had connections with a local athletics club, and in July, I started training and competing in cross country events with them.  Pretty soon, I recalled a teenage desire to compete in athletics (which wasn’t feasible at the time due to lack of local opportunity), and I decided to not only train, but compete for the club during the summer in track and field.  In my first season (2015-2016), I stuck to the sprints, where I made rapid progress, added the long and triple jump, and the occasional 800m.  During this season, I got a silver medal in the relays at the Victorian Country Athletics Championships in January 2016, and a big medal haul in the Police and Emergency Services Games in April.  Meanwhile, my fire brigade performances started to show early signs of improvement, but a series of injuries, apparently from the increased workload did impact the early season.

However, the access to coaching also showed up my coordination issues.  This environment allowed me to characterise and understand my particular challenges, which fall into 2 basic areas:  Firstly, my conscious processing of movement is slow and easily overloaded.  I need to keep input simple and try and focus on one thing at a time where possible, otherwise I simply can’t keep up.  Once in “muscle memory” (i.e. the unconscious mind), I am then able to make full use of those skills with far fewer limits.  It’s getting through that learning bottleneck that is the challenge.  Secondly, my proprioception is unreliable.  I have to pay particular attention to where various body parts are, when carrying out movements, and frequently “re-calibrate” my perception of their movement.

In the 2016 cross country season, I did well, improving both my 1km and 3km times significantly, and even got the season aggregate for the 1k event, much to my surprise!  My limits of middle and long distance running are still a challenge, but I did make some progress.

In the 2016-2017 summer season, I made more progress in my sprints, breaking the 13 second 100m barrier once officially (with electronic timing) and once unofficially (extrapolated from hand timing), and improving my 60, 200 and 400m times significantly.  This increased speed was also evident on the fire brigade track, where I had my best season ever, being able to bring down the team’s times in key events, contributing to a third place at the 2017 state championships, being able to run competitively in our A team, 2 grades higher than I normally run, and winning runner of the year for a second time.  Back in athletics, I began to diversify my events, competing in javelin, shot put and discus.  I took advantage of this diversification to compete in the Bendigo Region pentathlon, where I ran my first track 1500m.  I competed in my first state relay championships in Melbourne (those metro guys are fast!), and Victorian Masters championships, where I won bronze in the 60m, as well as wining the 3 sprints at the Police and Emergency Services Games.

In 2017, I focused on the 1km cross country, improving my PB time by 2 seconds, but running a lot more consistently fast times.  I also ran my fastest track 800m at the cross country breakup in August.

This season (2017-2018) has been a little frustrating on the track, where I have struggled with slow times.  This is a new challenge to overcome, first to understamd the cause, then to find a way to improve my times.  On the positive side, my javelin has improved significantly, I can now throw 18.7m with a standing throw.  Yet to incorporate a run up, which will require getting through that coordination barrier I mentioned early.  And that brings me to the decathlon.  One of the guys in the club made a serious suggestion that I give the decathlon a try.  Trouble is that I hadn’t done high jump or hurdles since school, and my hurdling was always iffy.  I had also never hurdled over 99cm, the height I needed to clear at the decathlon.  In addition, I had never pole vaulted.

So, I got a little instruction in hurdles, where I barely got over 84cm, and a week ago, I learned to pole vault in a single session.  Well, without any practice, I managed 1.29m in the high jump, and a useful height in the pole vault.  In addition, I found the key to getting over the hurdles.  Although leading with the right foot seemed to “feel better”, I decided to try leading with my left foot.  This allowed me to use my more reliable take off foot (right) that I use in both the long and high jump.  The extra lift from this foot easily got me over the 99cm hurdles in the race.  It was a combination of my self knowledge, and some visualisation form photos of other hurdlers that enabled this change.

So far, it is early in the fire brigade season, but even though I am slower this year, and now running in A section, as we now only have one team, I am competitove with the (all younger) guys in the team.  I am also running in new positions and learning new skills.  One wonders where this year of big learning is going to take me.

I am pleased to see that I am not alone, and others on the spectrum have actually started selling training programs designed to kelp kids on the spectrum improve their coordination and self esteem.  I benefited from a number of fortunate events and choices, and I wonder what would be possible with further specialised training to meet my specific needs - despite my successes, I still have some performance limiting coordination issues that I believe I can work on.  Similarly, I wonder what might have been possible, had these programs been available 40 years ago.  I am sure I would have enjoyed them as a kid, as my history suggests I would, but I’ll never know how much more I would have been able to take my sporting interests.  I hope the kids who are benefitting from these programs come to enjoy being active and develop a passion for sport, or at the very least, for active recreation.  For me, exercise has been the only antidepressant I’ve needed to rely on, but it’s been a good one with many beneficial side effects! :)

While encouraging adults to be more active probably faces more barriers from years and decades of learned aversion to exercise and sport from negative experiences like constantly being picked last for teams (and as I said, I’ve been there, done that!), bullying, teasing and the like (yep, all familiar), I believe it is still worth trying to encourage adults on the spectrum to at least partake in some form of non competitive exercise, and exploring from there.  I am not aware of anyone targeting adults with exercise programs, but I believe there could be some significant benefits.

Are you an adult on the spectrum reading this?  Why not give exercise a try.  You may need to find a mentor to help you keep the motivation up - someone who is supportive, but firm and fair.  Don’t under estimate the benefits of a daily half hour walk, or a few strength workouts per week.  Gamers and tech heads might relate to something like

Or are you the parent of a child on the spectrum?  In this case, see if your son or daughter would like to try one of the specialised programs out there, or if there isn’t an autism specific exercise program, there might be something for children who don’t fit into mainstream sport, or a gymnastics class with an understanding coach and management.  If the child takes to the program, fantastic!  if not, you might need to find something different - non autism specific programs may have unexpected sensory issues or other things adversely affecting the child.

I hope my story has been some form of inspiration.  I am far from a child prodigy, and I’ve had to work hard to get to where I am, but I’ve come to enjoy the journey and am thankful for the side benefits that have come as a result of my active life - health (both physical and mental), happiness, fitness, friendship and camaraderie, and a lifetime of self knowledge.

- Tony via Tumblr

2018 Australian Masters Decathlon

This weekend, the Australian Masters Multi event championships were held here in Bendigo, along with the Victorian championships.  For men, this means a decathlon, consisting of 10 events over 2 days as follows:

Day 1.
100m, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m.
Day 2
110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500m.

With a forecast maximum of 43C, day 1 started early at 8:30AM with the 100m.  The slow times of the summer continued with 13.56 in ideal conditions, which scored 538 points, the highest score I got from any event.  We moved pretty quickly to the long jump.  This time, I had a lot of trouble with my run up, resulting in the first 2 attempts being no jumps.  I managed 3.59 in a conservative final jump, which scored 229 points.

After a short break, where I took the time to apply sunscreen, it was over to the shot put.  I haven’t competed in shot put since last season due to a scheduling clash with the long jump at regular meets this season. wasn’t expecting any miracles, but was satisfied with a 5.62m throw that resulted in another 293 points.  Next was an event I haven’t done since high school, more than 30 years ago - the high jump.  After some experimentation during warmup, I decided to start out with a 1.20m bar height and eventually was able to clear 1.29m, and only just missed out on making 1.32m.  The 1.29m jump resulted in another 331 points.

The last event for day 1 was the 400m.  By this time - 11:30AM, the temperature was at least 35C with a gusty NW wind that made the back straight and especially the second bend tough.  I finished in 1:05.36 and scored 442 points.  My day 1 total score was 1833 points.  After we finished, I headed off to a local swimming poll for some light recovery work and a break from the heat..

Overnight there was a (sort of) cool change, so day 2 would be a bit less extreme.  First up, at 9AM were the hurdles.  I had a little practice a few weeks ago, but struggled to clear a single 84cm hurdle.  Today, I needed to hurdle 99cm 10 times.  Taking some experience from my long and high jump, I decided to swap my lead foot, so my stronger (right) foot could be used to take off for each hurdle.  Still, I wasn’t sure if that would be enough and seriously considered pulling out immediately after starting, which would result in a DNF (Did Not Finish) and a score of 0, but allow me to continue.  However, when the gun went off, I got a good start, and by the time I could look up, there was a hurdle right in front of me, with no chance of pulling up.  So it was a case of take a leap of faith and hope for the best.  I cleared the first hurdle easily and decided to try the second.  Again, I cleared this one and at that point, decided to complete the race.  I cleared all of the rest of the hurdles, except one which I clipped, but didn’t knock over.  My time was 28.37, enough to score 34 points that I wasn’t counting on!

We moved quickly to the discus.  Tried working on my technique, which backfired.  The first throw was a disappointing 15.32m, the second a no throw and the third shorter than the first.  I scored 243 points.  Now it was time to put last week’s pole vault training into practice.  After a shaky warmup, I opted for a low grip on the pole and start at 1.20m.  Worked my way up to 1.5m, before missing 1.6m.  Scored another 89 points.

The 9th event and final field event was the javelin.  I have been rapidly improving in recent weeks, and today was no exception.  Opted to play it safe and use a standing technique for my first throw, resulting in a new PB of 18.70m.  Second throw was not far behind at 18.53.  With 3 good throws in the bag, I decided to try a short run up for my third throw, but my coordination issues got the better of me, and the throw was short.  The first throw was worth 187 points.  The final event was my least favourite, but for some reason seems to be a good points scorer, the 1500m.  In the warm (around 30C), windy conditions I ran 6:14.78, which scored 342 points.  My day 2 score was 895 points, resulting in a total of 2728 points.

Because 3 of the original 5 entrants in my age group pulled out before the meet, that meant I was able to claim silver for both the Victorian and Australian Masters championship in the 45-49 age group.  A bonus I didn’t expect before yesterday.

After the presentations, most of the athletes from all age groups met at a local coffee shop for a chat over coffee and lunch.  The decathlon is like a journey that we all shared together, and it was fitting to meet up and share our experiences afterwards.  I’m looking forward to the next time I am able to compete in a decathlon.  I likened the decathlon to a marathon (which I did run 10 years ago) - a challenge that is rewarding to simply complete.  I was particularly pleased to score in all 10 events, something I wasn’t sure I would manage.

I’m also keen to work on my hurdles, pole vault and throws during the next year.  As I turn 50 in a few months, the hurdles get a little lower and closer together, while the throwing implements get lighter and smaller for my next attempt.

- Tony via Tumblr

Friday, December 29, 2017

Reaching new heights!

It’s now a week out from the Australian Masters decathlon.  Most of the events I’m familiar with, or have some confidence that I will complete.  However, there’s a couple that needed extra work.  One is the hurdles, which I did some work on a while ago, and continue with some simple drills most days.

Another event I hadn’t done any work on was the pole vault.  Two years ago, I did start to learn the basics, but due to an injury min a sprint a couple of days earlier, I had to pull out of the coaching sessions and never got back into it.

Today that all changed.  With the free weekend with no competitions, came the opportunity to learn the pole vault.  I picked up where I left off (basically halfway through “pole vault 101″ :) ) 2 years earlier and progressed through a set of drills to get the right actions happening - first on the grass, then into the practice pit.

After several successful jumps into the pit, it was time to get used to the actual vault, and the feel of planting the pole in the “box”.  By the third attempt, I was easily able to vault onto the metre high landing mat.

To finish off, we setup the practice bungee cord, initially around 1.3-1.4 metres, which I was easily able to clear.  At the end, I proved that I can easily clear 1.6 metres, with the potential to go a little higher.  But I also found that just beyond those heights is my next challenge, as I move my position further up the pole, where more speed is required during the run up.

Now, I’m really looking forward to competing in the pole vault next week.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wrapping up 2017 - last regular track meet and a pentathlon.

Last week was a regular track meet, the last one for the year.  I had entered the 100m, 400m, long jump and javelin.

In the 100m, I seem to have finally got my starts working well.  I got out ahead of a much younger field, but they got ahead early in the race.  Finished with a rather slow time of 13.86 into a 2.6m/S headwind.

Next up was the long jump, where I managed 4.02m in calm conditions.  Somewhere around that time was also the 4x100m relay.  Ran the first leg, getting off to another great start and handing the baton over in good time. 

After the relay, headed off to the javelin, but was called to the 400m before the javelin started.  After a delay, the 400m got underway.  conditions were tough with a strong headwind from the 100m to the 300m mark.  Despite a time of 1:05.28, it was technically a better run, with less fading during the second half, despite the wind.

Headed back to the javelin, but due to the delays with the 400m, the javelin was finished by the time I got back. Just one of those things that happens when events clash.

Today was the annual Bendigo Region Multis.  Like last year, I entered the pentathlon.  First up was the long jump, where I jumped 4.18m on the first jump and scored 235 points.  The javelin was next.  My first throw was about a metre short of my PB.  Second throw was 17.75m, more than 1.2m better than my old PB.  Third throw, though not quite as good, was still better than my old PB.  The 17.75m throw scored me 131 points.

Following the javelin was the 200m sprint.  As expected, this was my best event, with a time of 27.36 seconds, one of my better runs for the season, and scoring 422 points.

Next was the last of the throws - discus.  Best throw here was 16.27m, worth 203 points.

The last event of the pentathlon was the 1500m.  Conditions were hot and windy, which made for a tough run.  My time was 6:07.14, 10 seconds slower than last year.  However, it was still worth 236 points, my second highest score of the day.  My total was 1227 points, comfortably beating last year’s score of 1161 points.

Competition resumes in 2 weeks time, where I will face one of my biggest sporting challenges ever.  I’ve entered the Australian Masters Multi Championships, which is a national meet.  I will be competing in the decathlon, something which I’ve never attempted before.  Stay tuned!

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Fire Brigade and a week’s rest.

Well, this week first.  Due to a forecast severe rain event this weekend, many local events were cancelled.  As for me, the first casualty was the fire brigade competition, scheduled for today, which was cancelled on Thursday night.  Because of this, I entered the track and field meet scheduled for yesterday.  However, this was cancelled late on Friday, as part of a statewide cancellation.  So, I ended up with a week’s rest from sport.  Ironically, while some parts of the state did indeed suffer record rainfall and significant flooding, the system left us virtually untouched, and rainfall figures of 26.4mm for the entire event, nothing remarkable.

Last week, our fire brigade team journeyed over 200km west to Horsham for an extra competition (given what happened this week, that was just as well!).  The meet was small, with only 3 teams, but it was good for our relatively new team to get some experience.

The program was in a traditional order, bringing back memories of competitions 30 years ago.  First up were the marshalls.  With up to 3 entries, and being one of the 50% of the team with experience in these events, I got to run them all, starting with the 1 man marshall.  Had a bad hydrant, but the rest of the run was good.  The bad hydrant put me out of contention for any placings.

In the 2 man marshall, I ended up running twice, as part of 2 different entries.  Ran a reasonable 19.62 second first run, enough for 4th place, then immediately went back to the start for the second run (in a different combination).  This one was 20.29 seconds, with a struggle to finish, because of the very limited rest.  It was good enough for 5th place.

The final dry hose event was the 4 man Y.  I ran a good left branch, but a hiccup elsewhere put us well out of contention.  Our second team did score a place.

From here it was over to the main track.  I didn’t run the hydrant race and in the ladder race, I had a slow 8.86 second run.  Not quite sure what happened, but something to work on.

As our regular latter person was unavailable for this week, I ran ladder in the hose and ladder 5s, an event I had a lot of success in C section last year.  We ran 24.42, around the time our C section team ran last year, and enough to get second place.  Although slower up the ladder, my high track speed certainly helped.  Next were the hose and ladder 8s.  This is the normal hose and ladder event for an A section team like ours, and it is highly unusual to run both.  However, this made for an interesting comparison.  The hose and ladder 8 is identical to the 5, except there are 3 extra team members who run down and raise the ladder in the 8s, while in the 5s, the ladder is fixed.  This means I can’t climb until the ladder is in position.  I took a slower approach, cruising in formation behind the 3 ladder throwers, and was able to time my approach to be ready to climb as the ladder was in position.  Our time was 26.01, scoring us second place.  My reliance on track speed, rather than climbing speed puts me at a disadvantage in this event.

Next up the pumper and ladder event.  Our regular ladder person was unavailable, so I had to run all ladder events this time around.  Had a good run myself, but a problem elsewhere cost us a lot of time.  

I sat out the pumper 4s, but the team ran a good run, winning this event.  My next event was the hose and reel 6s.  This time, I ran in a new position for me - first branch.  That has me on the back of the cart for the trip down the track, then catching my end of the first length, putting the branch on and hitting the disc for the first time.  Had a good run and we got second place.  Following the 6s were the hose and reel 8s, basically the same event with 2 extra people to assist.  I overshot my position this time, but recovered and made it to the branch line in time for a hit.

Had a run in the champion 4s on the branch.  We were the only team to field 2 entries, but while I had a good run, problems elsewhere cost a lot of time.

Final event was the Y8.  This went together well, despite a hiccup or two, and we easily won with a time of 36.87 seconds.  Again, I was back on the ladder for this one.

We finished second overall, not far behind the winning team, which was a good result for a team with so many new guys.  Looking forward to see what we can do at the business end of the season.  With today’s competition being cancelled, there’s no more until the middle of January, when the busy part of the season gets underway.

Next week, it’s back to the track for track and field.  Time to test out some technique improvements there.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Javelin - Attempt 3 (15.97m)

400m sprint.  Time was 1:05.41

My leg of the 4x100m relay.

100m sprint at today’s meet.  13.57 seconds.

AV Shield Round 5

Back at the local shield meet this weel.  I had entered the 100m, long jump, javelin and 400m.  In addition, there was a 4x100m relay on offer.

First up was the 100m.  Conditions were good, but had a slow start.  This time, a video was available, which I will be reviewing for more ideas to work on my starts.

I had some ankle issues while warming up for the  100m, and with important commitments next weekend, I decided to withdraw from the long jump, so my next event was the 4x100m relay.  Here, I ran somewhat better than in the 100m, receiving the baton with a good change, then passing it on with a very quick change, due to a large difference in speed between myself and the next runner.

The rest of the day got busy, with the javelin next, managing 2 throws of 15m or better, before heading off to the 400m.  The 400m was tough with a strong headwind in the back straight.  Managed a time of 1:05.21, in a tough run.

Returned to the javelin in time for me final throw, which was my best at 15.97m.  This was my third best throw ever, and the whole javelin event was my most consistent throwing to date.

Next week, the fire brigade season starts with our new team.

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017 State Relays

I’ve been a bit slack this past week.  Had a non AV shield meet last week, and put in some reasonable performances in difficult, windy conditions.  Results were:

200m - 27.71 (-3.9 wind)

100m - 13.66 (-1.4 wind) 

Triple jump - 7.69m

Discus - 14.91m

Now on to yesterday, when the Victorian Track Relay Championships were held in Melbourne.  My day was made somewhat easier, by the fact that there would be no heats in either the 4x400 or 4x100m, which meant I could take it easy and arrive around lunchtime in plenty of time for my runs.

First up was the 4x400m.  400 metres is always a challenging distance to run for me, and there was no comparison with the metro guys, many of who can run 400m in less time than _anyone_ in my area around the same age.  I ran the first leg and got around OK, before passing the baton on in 4th position.  We ended up finishing 5th (out of 5!), in a time of 4:33.14.

My second and final event was the 4x100m.  At this distance, I’m a lot more competitive.  I ran the second leg, along the back straight.  Started with a good baton change in 4th place, and managed to have us in third when I handed the baton to our third runner with another good change.  We finished 4th in a time of 51.89.

Overall, I enjoyed the day.  Back to normal AV Shield competition next week.

- Tony via Tumblr