Friday, June 16, 2017

A Leap Into the Unknown...

Last night, I trained at the track as usual.  However, the last few Thursdays have been a bit different.  After the normal track work, I’ve been working on my long jump technique with a couple of the younger guys, who have been focusing on the long jump.

My technique until recently could be described as “running into the pit”, but one of these guys was able to give me some pointers.  That’s where the real challenge started.  The rapid movements required to execute a proper take off overloaded both my ability to execute them, and even more interesting, my ability to sense what they guys were helping me with.  Once I realised this, working through the issues became a bit of a collaboration between is, to find the most effective way to assist my learning.  With some persistence, my technique is improving steadily.  I’m only just beginning to be able to sense and execute the movements required, but the signs are promising.

Anyway, I’m firmly in unknown territory here.  Executing rapid one-off movements accurately has always been a challenge for me.  Now, I am exploring my capabilities, and seeing how I can use my strengths to learn, despite the obvious challenges.  In time, I hope to work on my throws as well, which will have similar challenges.  Who knows what else I’ll discover along the way. :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Getting high on speed!

No, this post is not about drugs.  I am talking about the reasons I do what I do.  For me, sport represents a number of things.  Physical exercise is an important part of my mental health maintenance, and sport gives me more reasons to be active.

I also enjoy the challenge of improving on my past performances, as well as friendly competitions against others. 

As for my choice of sport, that’s a combination of ability and interest.  The fire brigade competitions are something that caught my imagination as a kid.  Ever since first seeing the urban fire brigades state championships in the 1970s (at the age of 6!), I knew I wanted to take part.  At that time, I had no idea how I’d fit in, given my general lack of sporting ability at the time.  However, I did join as a junior and have run when I’ve had a chance, now a total of almost 20 years.

As for track sprints, this is another sport I’ve long had an interest in, but in this case, living in a small town in my teens, there were no opportunities for anyone over the age of 15 to compete within an hour’s drive.  In this instance, I was drawn to the thrill of travelling at high speed.

As I got older, I learned of the so-called “runner’s high”, normally experienced in distance events, and which I, myself, have experienced after my hlf marathon in 2006, marathon in 2008 and a number of rogaines over the years.  But for me, the sensations encountered in a sprint, from the power and acceleration of a start to top speed, where inertia and wind resistance dominate, followed by the long deceleration under inertia from top speed.

The fire brigade competitions also involve similar sensations, as well as putting together some precision movements, which are satisfying to pull off.

Another aspect of my sporting performance is there’s little documentation for training someone on the spectrum with significant coordination issues to high performance levels.  While I work with mainstream clubs and coaches, I try and get better explanations for some skills and the occasional modification to some instruction techniques to better suit my needs.  While in some ways I’m flying a little blind, it is also exciting exploring this unknown territory, to see how far I can push the boundaries.  Already, I am now faster than I recall recording in my mid-late teens, with the prospect of even better performance in the years to come.

Maybe one day, my experience will help others at least enjoy a sport, if not achieve their own successes.

- Tony via Tumblr

Winter underway

With the end of the track season at the start of April, attention turned to cross country.  The week before cross country season started was the O’Keefe Ekiden Relay.  This year, I again competed as part of a team from our athletics club, this time running a 3km leg, which I finished in 13:52.  Our team won again, improving on last year’s time by 15 seconds, We now hold both the record and second fastest times for this event.

My cross country season has been very consistent, with the majority of runs falling within a narrow range of 3:34 - 3:38 for the 1km event, pretty much on my handicap time of 3:35.  The exceptions were:

First week - 3:47, where my race tactics weren’t optimal.

Distance handicap - 3:52/km.  Slower, because I ran an extra 180m for my handicap.

Last week at the Bendigo Uni invitational - 3:43.  In this event, my time was affected by a large starting field, including many kids who got in the way for the first 200m.

So far, 3:30 seems to be a real challenge to break.

Also last week, there was an out of season track meet.  In cold conditions, I got the following times:

100m - 13.24

200m - 27.21

800m - 2:44

In addition, I competed in discus and javelin, throwing around my usual range.  My starts in the sprints were a little sluggish, most likely a combination of lack of practice, along with the cold weather.

On a training note, last week, I did some starting practice and made some major improvements to my starts, improving even beyond my performances back in March-April.  Next season will be interesting.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, April 01, 2017

2017 Police and Emergency Services Games - Finishing with a bang!

Today (April 2) is Autism Acceptance day, a time to embrace the Autism in your life, whether in yourself, or someone close to you.  For me, as well as the launch of a new messaging platform for Autistic adults, that has been waiting in the wings for a few months, it is also the day after my successful summer track season came to a close.

Yesterday the track and field events of the 2017 Police and Emergency Services Games were held.  I entered the 100, 200 and 400 metre sprints, as well as the long jump.  With good form over the past few weeks, I was cautiously optimistic about how I would perform, but also had concerns as to whether the long (~ 6 ½ months) season would finally catch up with me.  As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about.

First up was the 100 metres.  Conditions were cool, so I allowed plenty of time for a full warmup, with a few extra run-throughs.  On the start, I lined up beside last year’s fastest runner, a good spot for a challenge.  Got off to an excellent start and immediately left him behind, however.  Had my smoothest acceleration and transition for the whole season, and finished first in my heat, leaving at least two much younger sprinters behind.  The time recorded was 12.44 seconds.  Being hand timed, that equated to around 12.7 seconds, which was still significantly faster than my 12.99 PB.

Next was the long jump.  Here, I wasn’t able to get my run up quite right and finished with silver with a jump of 3.99 metres.

Last event before lunch was the 200m.  Like the 100, I had a great start, acceleration and transition, and was also able to hold speed in the home straight a bit better than last week.  Time recorded was 26.18 (hand timing), which equated to 26.4 seconds, another PB, beating my previous mark of 26.71, and scoring another gold in my age group.

After lunch was the 400m.  By now, conditions has changed from ideal (little wind) to a stiff headwind in the back straight, which made the race tough.  Finished in a time of 1:05, slightly faster than last year in similar conditions and slightly slower than most of my 400m runs for the season.  However, it was good enough to get the gold.

The day finished with a 4x100m relay with teams put together on the day.  As I was easily the fastest in our team, I ran the 4th leg to finish the race.  As it turns out, the first 3 runners had already put us clearly in second place, so all I could do was increase our hold on that position.

So, the day finished with 3 gold (100, 200, 400m), 2 silver (long jump and relay) medals, and 2 PBs.  Additionally I got to not only run against those clearly faster than me, but also those around my speed, where I could rise to the challenge.

I also reflected on a variation of my visualisation techniques that I call “virtual training” that allows me to visualise and practice movements like starting, acceleration and transition, without moving a muscle or having to deal with consciously handling my motor issues.  This technique seems to help the unconscious mind and muscle memory look after these things, leaving me free to focus on strategy in the race.  This definitely has helped my starts in recent weeks, and possibly my transition out of acceleration in the 100 and 200m events.

Now, it’s time to take a break from sprints and work on my base fitness, especially strength and stamina (for the 400m!).  Cross country starts in a few weeks, and I am looking forward to getting in to the gym and working on other forms of training to start the preparation for next summer.

- Tony via Tumblr

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Victorian Masters Championships

Last weekend, the Victorian Masters Track and Field Championships were held in Doncaster, in the suburbs of Melbourne.  Due to a scheduling issue that made day 1′s events very late in the day, I only entered day 2 events.  This meant I would miss the 100 and 400m events, but was able to enter the 60m and 200m sprints.  I also entered the discus for fun.

After a 2 hour drive to Doncaster, I arrived a little before 10:30, in plenty of time to check in for my events.  First up was discus.  As expected, nothing eath shattering here, with my first throw being the best at 16.49 metres, 17cm short of my PB.  After the 4th throw out of 6, I retired, so I could focus on my warmup for the 60 metres.

For some reason, I felt a bit tight in much of my left leg, and had concerns about finishing the race.  However, being a state level meet, I wanted to give it my best effort.  My leg held up and I finished with a bronze medal in a PB time of 8.32 seconds, but feeling as if I could go even faster.

My last event was the 200 metre sprint.  Between the 60m sprint and warmup, as well as the program running nearly 20 minutes early by this time, I was well prepared for this race, but the tightness was still there.  Had good acceleration into the bend, and finished well with a time of 26.78 seconds, just 0.07 seconds shy of my PB and only the second time I’ve broken the 27 second mark.

Reviewing the results, I did notice my current performance over the shorter distances would have been enough to easily win a bronze in the 100m.  Well, maybe next year for that attempt. :)

This coming Saturday, my season ends with the Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games track and field.  Stay tuned. :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, March 19, 2017

2 field PBs

Yesterday, it was back to athletics for the final meet in Bendigo of the season.  I entered 5 events - 100 and 400 metres, as well as shot put, long jump and javelin.

First up was the 100 metres.  With last week’s state championships having been a workout and 2 important meets still to come, I opted to test out my starting technique, then back off as I approached top speed.  Despite thes, I ran 13.28 seconds.

Next was the shot put.  Nothing significant here, with my best throw being well short of my PB.  After shot put, it was over to the long jump.  My first jump was just over 4 metres, around 20cm short of my PB.  Shortly after my first jump, I had to go to the 400 metres.  My first half was very strong, but the last 150 metres was a bit of a struggle.  Finished in 1:03.64, just over a second outside my PB.

Resumed my long jump.  Second jump was affected my fatigue from the 400m, but the final jump went together perfectly, resulting in a PB of 4.49m, more than 20cm past the previous PB.

After long jump was javelin.  My first throw was a little over 13 metres.  With some coaching from a fellow club member, my second throw was faster, but the launch angle was low and it only went around 12 metres.  My final throw was at a better angle, after a little more coaching, and achieved a PB of 15.46m, around 1.5m better than my previous PB.

The day finished with a 4x100m relay.  Ran fairly well, after a slightly wonky baton pass.  Our team finished the relay in around 48 seconds.

Overall, a very successful day.  Next week, it’s the Victorian Masters Championships.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, March 18, 2017

2017 State Championships Day 3

Been a bit slack posting the final day’s activity, but anyway, here it is.  My first event was the hose and ladder 5s.  This event is the reason I took up athletics initially, because the main part of the event is a sprint of approximately 100 metres to the foot of the ladder.

With the requirement for top speed, I took the time to do a full warmup, then rest before the run.  The run itself got off to a shaky start, I had a minor fumble when getting the branch, which had a further effect of leading to uncertainty about how the hose was sitting in the harness, which further delayed my acceleration to top speed.  When I reached top speed, everything fell into place, with a smooth (and fast!) run followed by a smooth climb.  Our run was 24.40 seconds, which got us 5th place.

The rest of the morning was a succession of runs around 20-30 minutes apart.  Next event was the 4 man Y, which didn’t go so well.  At this time, I was planning on taking lunch, but I got a last minute call to fill in for the A side, to replace someone else who was injured.

I filled in the the A team’s hose and reel 8s, assisting the first length to its final position.  First run we got beaten, but got to the fine as one of the “2 fastest losers”.  Our final run wasn’t as good as hoped either, and didn’t place.

The final event was the champion 4s.  With teams from all 3 classes competing, there was very little chance of scoring a place, but we were hoping to make the final, after 2 rounds of heats.

First round was a win by 1/100th of a second, but we lost the second round, which ended the state championships for us.  However, it ended up being a very successful weekend.  In addition to the win, second place and the 2 5th places that I was involved in, the team scored another win and second place in events I wasn’t a part of.  The final result was second place in the C Section wet aggregate and third place in the C section grand aggregate.

However, there was one final, if unofficial event left to run.  It was a novelty sprint, with proceeds going to charity.  I did quite well, somewhere between 6th and 8th out of 20 odd entrants, :)

Anyway, it was a good weekend with excellent results.  I still have to find another second or two down the track and up the ladder.  I’m not sure how much further I can push track speed, but I will be training hard to make the next level there.  Ladder climbing speed is another issue and I may be able to pick up some time there.  I will need to experiment with training ideas to increase my climbing speed, which is somewhat slower than ideal, though reliable.

Now to finish the last few weeks of track season, before going into winter mode and working towards next year.

- Tony via Tumblr

Shellie Mason - Fantastic job Eaglehawk C class Hose,...

Shellie Mason - Fantastic job Eaglehawk C class Hose,...:

Here’s a video of our winning Y8 run.

- Tony via Tumblr

2017 State Championships Days 1 and 2.

I was originally going to wait until tomorrow or later in the week to give a rundown of this year’s Victorian State Urban Fire Brigades Championships, but things have been pretty full on.

A slightly lighter workload for me this time, “only” 9 events (plus a march in the torchlight procession in the evening last night), of which I have run 6 so far.

Yesterday started for me with the ladder race.  Won my first heat with a time of 8.14.  Second heat was a nailbiter, got beaten by 0.01 of a second, with a second best for the season time of 7.94.

My next event was the C section 4s, late in the afternoon.  Won our heat with a solid run, then backed that up with a season, if not team best run of 20.21, to score 5th place.  First time we’ve placed in this event at the state championships, which was a good note to finish the day.

Today started with a second place in the pumper and ladder 5s.  We ran our best ever time (16.16 seconds), and it took another team to smash the record to beat our time.

The middle of the day was a little frustrating, with no success in the 2 man marshall or the hose and reel sixes, but my day finished with a win in the Y8 event.  We’ve not run this as much as we’d like, but everyone put together a great run to take the win.

While those were all the events I was involved in, the team had two more successes to report, with the results of yesterday’s Discipline contest (dress uniform inspection and marching) announced, putting our team in second place for that event, and the team also winning the hose, hydrant and pumper 4s event.

At the end of the second day, we are in second place in our section aggregate.  Day 3 will be a challenging day.  I am in the 3 remaining events for us to run, but it won’t be easy and will take every bit of fitness and skill to increase our points tally.

- Tony via Tumblr

Security Check Required

Security Check Required:

Here’s a video of the A Section Y8 run I was a part of the other week.  I start in the muddle of the field on the back of the cart (in the white helmet) and finish at the top of the ladder.  Time was 32.14 seconds.

Apologies for the awful looking “preview” (the “Securty Check Required” thing), that’s Facebook being a pain!

- Tony via Tumblr

Pushing the boundaries on the fire brigade track

Just back from today’s fire brigade competition.  With only 4 available in our team, I knew it was going to be a busy day, estimating I’d be needed for around 8 events.  However, in addition, the A team were short handed, most notably, their ladder man is down with a serious illness.  Special arrangements were made with the organisers to allow me to run ladder for the A side as well.  So my 8 events was now 10 or more, many physically demanding runs.

With 2 entries in the hydrant race, I could have run this event, but decided to save myself for when I was needed, and sat that one out.  So, my first event was the ladder race.  Won my heat and ran 8.29 in the final.  OK, though not as good as I have been.

Next up was the hose and ladder 5s.  With only 4 of us, we had to borrow a runner, and also some ran in unfamiliar positions.  There were a few hiccups in the run, and we finished second with a 28 second time.  Immediately after was the hose and ladder 8s.  This is identical to the 5s, except the ladder is raised by the extra 3 runners, instead of being fixed in position.  This was the first event I ran ladder for the As.  The run went well, being almost identical for me, just a minor modification of my technique on approach, and a bouncy climb.  Our time was around 24.6 seconds, enough to get second place.

Next up was the pumper and ladder.  In this event, I ran ladder for both of our teams.  With the A team, we ran around 15 seconds, enough to win the event.  The C team ran 21 seconds, though it felt a lot faster.  but that scored 5th place.  By now, the extremely rapid turnaround time between runs (around 10 minutes average) was starting to be felt, but my times were still surprisingly good.  All those 150m reps at the athletics track late last year were helping! :)

Ran the pumper 4s, but got a miss here.  Again, the forced change of positions didn’t help.

After the pumpers were the marshalls.  The 2 man marshall started well, but a few fumbles by both of us in the second half of the run cost time.  In the 4 man Y, I had a good run in coupling, and was able to coast across the finish line, as some of the others were behind me.  We still managed 4th place with a less than ideal run.

After a 30 minute lumch break, it was time for the remaining reel events, starting with the C section 4s.  I was back in pole here.  Had a fairly good run, maintaining a good line on the tricky track, where the width and multiple line markings can get one lost easily.  Unfortunately, we had a miss. :(

In the hose and reel 8s, I was needed to fill a position.  I ran second assist, running on the right side of the cart, then helping the second length back to the hydrant.  On the way down the track, I noticed I was headed directly for the hydrant, so to avoid a collision, I left early and ran alongside, until it was time to get on the hose.  Unfortunately, this run was another miss too.

The final event for the C side was the champion 4s.  Again, I ran pole.  I did have a choice, but despite my heavy workload, I knew my fitness was up to the task, and at this late stage, I was probably better suited to the task.  This run was clean, with a slow time around 22 seconds.

While the C team had finished the day, not having enough to field a team for the Y8, the A team again needed my help with the ladder in the Y8.  I ran first coupling and ladder, very similar to the hydrant and ladder I normally run.  This run went extremely well, ending with probably my best climb of the day.  The time was a bit over 32 seconds, a good time by any standards, resulting in a win, and proving that despite my age, I am still able to be competitive in an A class team, and take on a workload beyond a normal day’s competition.

All in all, it was an interesting day, with many challenges, with ups and downs.  The day proved that my training regime is on the right path.  I’m easily able to cope with 10 or more events in a day and still have more in reserve at the end of the day.  I’m looking forward to the state championships in 3 weeks time.

- Tony via Tumblr

2017 AV Shield Final

Been a bit preoccupied with other stuff this week, like some new work, so I’ve been a bit slow with blogging.  However, last Sunday was the AV Shield Final, the culmination of much of this summer’s athletics competition.  For this meet, the 4 clubs here in Bendigo combined forces to send the best from our region.  This meant 4 athletes for the flat track events (100m, 400m, 1500m), and 2 for the other events offered.  As I knew I was free last month, I nominated to compete and got chosen for the 100 metres, as well as the 4x100m relay.

Just being selected was a win in itself, as that put me in the top 4 over 40s male athletes for these events, who were available to run.  Anyway, the final was held at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne, the same track I ran the state relays at the end of November.  With my first event starting relatively late (12PM) and the late relay finish (sometime after 7PM), I elected to drive down, so I didn’t have to be up early for little reason in the morning and to get home as early as I could after the relay.

I arrived at Lakeside at 11AM, and after locating the other Bendigo region athletes in the stand, I warmed up for the 100 metres.  Timing was tricky, because there were 38 heats, and I was in heat 28.  With 2-3 minutes between heats, I figured I’s be running around 1PM, if the event was on time.  As it turned out, the 100m heats did start on time, and my heat was run close to 1PM.  Anyway, I ran 13.27 in highly variable wind conditions in my heat.  Not the sub 13 seconds I was hoping for, but not too bad.

After the 100m was the long 6 hour wait until the relays.  Much of this time was spent cheering others on from the stand.  The atmosphere was quite exciting all day.  I also took time out to catch up with a friend from the other side of Melbourne, who had informed me he was running in the 1500m.  

As the day progressed, the relay teams were finalised.  I was to run the 4th leg down the home straight.  I used to run this leg back in high school, but hadn’t run it since taking up athletics 18 months ago.  However, I was pretty confident and have been in good form.  During my warmup, I incorporated some dummy baton changes, just to be sure.

In our heat, there were 3 teams in my age group, plus 3 under 20 teams (who we weren’t competing directly against).  Our 3rd runner came around in second place out of our 3 teams.  I took off at the arranged time, but had underestimated my acceleration, and had to slow down slightly, so we could complete the change.  Once I had the baton, it was all out for the sprint to the finish line.  This sprint felt smoother than the 100m heat earlier in the day, and I kept pace with the other team ahead of me.  One of our club members who was watching from the stand commented that I did look better in the relay.

This past week, I started a 4 week period where I focus exclusively on fire brigade competitions.  My next one is tomorrow in Echuca.

- Tony via Tumblr

A wet day on the track

Sunday saw the annual Central and Hume fire brigade competition here in Bendigo.  In contrast to typical weather conditions, it was cloudy and humid, with periods of rain all day, but not enough to cause any cancellations.

With our small numbers, I had a lot of runs, starting with the hydrant race, an event I don’t normally contest.  Did OK, getting through the heat, but time wasn’t good in the final due to a funble.  With my track speed, the hydrant race is an event I should train more for.

Next up was the ladder race.  Again, I got through my heat easily, and ran a solid final, though a bit slower than normal, due to the weather conditions.

In the hose and ladder 5s, I had a bit of a slip on the ladder after a fast sprint down the track.  I put that down to being slightly out of position in my final approach.  Coming down from top speed in a short space can be tricky, but when done right saves a bit of time.  Even with the slip, we still managed 26 seconds - 2 years ago, that was only possible when all went well.  Anyway, the time was good enough to easily win the event.

After the 5s were the marshalls.  These are supposedly dry events, but it didn’t look so in the rain!  Had a couple of minor fumbles in the 4 man Y and 2 man marshall that spoilt otherwise good runs.  The good news is from next week, I’ll have time to fine tune these events for the state demo in 4 weeks, as I focus 100% on the fire brigade competitions in the lead up to the state.

Had a slow start in the pumper and ladder event, but made up time with a good ladder climb.  We finished in a time that would have at least got a place at the state championships, and slightly better than our 2014 winning time.

All that remained for me now were the reel events, starting with the C section 4s.  I was back in pole for this run.  Got down the track fine with the cart, but a hiccup at the hydrant cost us a lot of time.  Because everyone else is behind me, I didn’t see what happened until 2 days later when a video was shown.

I was then asked to fill in for the A side in the hose and reel 8s.  Had a good run there, and we scored second place.

This week, we had enough to run the hose and reel 6s.  This was to be run in the traditional heat and final format.  Drew a faster side in the heat, but got first water.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the second length attached as quickly and didn’t win the heat.

Following the 6s was the champion 4s.  For this event, we swapped the team around a bit from the C4s.  I ran hydrant this time around.  Got down the track well, but a minor delay in setting the hydrant.  I haven’t had the opportunity to practice this position.  Another one to fine tune before the state championships. :)

Final event was the Y8.  Ran my usual hydrant and ladder.  The challenge here was climbing the ladder, which was very greasy by the end of the day.  Somehow made it up and we did place in the event.

So, I have a few technical skills to focus on over the next 4 weeks or so.  :)

This Sunday is the Athletics Victoria Shield final, my last athletics event before the fire brigade state championships.  After Sunday, my training routine will change for those 4 weeks.

- Tony via Tumblr

Victorian Fire Brigade Competitions | Facebook

Victorian Fire Brigade Competitions | Facebook:

I’ve said a lot about the fire brigade competitions on this blog.  There is now a Facebook page, so you can find out more about what we do.  With the shate championships coming up, there should be some photos and videos soon.

- Tony via Tumblr

2017 Australia Day Demo - A test of fitness.

Hard on the heels of the Victorian Country Athletics championships that finished yesterday, I travelled with out fire brigade teams to Maryborough for the Australia Day demo.  I had not originally planned to attend, as I would normally have been representing the CFA at the Pride March in Melbourne instead.  However, with Mark not interested in making the trip to Melbourne, and our C team short on runners, I changed plans to run the demo, which would give us 4 runners, and allow us to run most of the wet events (instead of none!).  Because of the previous 2 days of intense competition, I wasn’t sure how I would handle the high workload.

My first event was the ladder race, as usual, as I don’t normally run the hydrant race which precedes it.  I am considering giving the hydrant race a go in a couple of weeks, after the athletics shield final.  Anyway, the ladder race was another tough draw, and I was a couple of tenths of a second slower than normal, most likely due to the previous competition.

Following the ladder race was the hose and ladder 5s.  We ran a slightly changed team, as well as borrowing from our ranks of previous runners to make up the numbers.  I had another good run, with a time of 25.12 seconds.  As we were the only team, it was a win.

With our low numbers, I ran a couple of the marshalls.  First of these was the 2 man marshall.  Had one of my best runs for a long time here.  Not good enough for a place, but very happy with it.  My last dry event was the 4 man Y.  Here, I ran coupling.  Had a bit of a fumble putting the coupling on the hydrant.  When I turned for the finish, I knew I had to put in a decent sprint to make the 20 or so metres to the finish line with my teammates, which I successfully did.  We got 4th in this event, and even beat our A team. :)

Following the marshalls were the pumper events.  In the pumper and ladder 5s, we had most of the team running in unfamiliar places.  We managed to complete the run, but the time was slow.  And in the pumper 4s, we had a miss, again with almost all of the team in an unfamiliar position.

The first of the reel events was next, with the C sections 4s.  With 4 teams, competition was going to be a bit better than in the ladder 5s.  However, we had a good run, easily winning the event.  I ran in the pole.

The A team were also short a runner or two, so I was called upon to fill in for them in the hose and ladder 8s.  I ran first assist, helping the first hose length to the branch line.  Our run was good, resulting in a second place.

With our shortage of numbers and missing key people, we didn’t run the sixes.  Next was the champion 4s.  We ran the same positions as in the C section 4s.  This time, there was to be a heat and a final.  We won our heat, and in the final, ran 2 seconds faster than in the C section 4s.  This was enough to get 4th place in this open event.  Our day was finished, but…

The A team again needed me, this time, the Y8.  I ran second branch, a position I am very familiar with.  Had another good run, this time we won the event in a good time.

All that was left were the aggregate results and Australia Day medals.  There were 5 aggregates - the C section, which we won, the wet aggregate, which the A team won.  They also won the A/B aggregate and the grand aggregate.  The only one neither team won (or even placed in) was the dry aggregate.  In the Australia Day medal count, All 4 of our C team who competed won the C section medal for champion competitors in our class jointly, with each of us receiving one.  Two of the A team received medals as champions of their division.

All in all, a very successful day.  Despite my competition preceding the demo, I held up very well, and I still could have run more, if needed.

Some statistics - I ran a total of 16 events over the past 3 days, 10 of them today.  This involved a total of 22 (including 6 long jump attempts and the heat and final of the champion 4s) runs of varying lengths.  This was probably the highest number of sprint based races in 3 days I’ve ever done, certainly tougher than even the state championships, where I normally run between 6 and 10 events in the same period. Fitness is certainly good at the moment. :)

Next week, it’s back to a normal demo weekend.

- Tony via Tumblr

2017 Victorian Country Athletics Championships

The Victorian Country Championships were on again over the past 3 days.  This year, I entered javelin, 100 metres, 400 metres, long jump and 200 metres.

I arrived on Thursday after a long drive.  Unfortunately, due to running around sorting the accommodation, I just missed the sign in time for the javelin, so I didn’t get to throw.  I had no other events on Thursday, so we went to our accommodation.  My time spent earlier paid off, as we had arrived after reception closed.

Yesterday, I had 2 events - the 100m and 400m sprints.  This year, fields were small, so there were no heats.  In the 100m, I had a strong headwind.  The run felt good, except I didn’t feel I could quite get up to speed.  Finished 5th in a slow time of 13.66, even taking the wind into account.  Others also had slow times, compared to their normal performances.

The 400m went fairly well.  The slow track didn’t seem to be as big an issue as the strong headwind in the home straight.  Finished with a time of 1:03.21, which was good for the wind conditions.  After returning to our accommodation and a club BBQ dinner, a couple of us headed to the beach for a recovery soak.
Today’s first event was the long jump.  Here, a strong tail wind was the challenge.  I struggled to get my run up right, but even so, I managed a jump of 4.03 metres, while taking off well before the board.  I could have jumped over 50cm further, if I could get my run up right.  Looks like one to practice, so I can capitalise on improvements in my jumping technique.

The 200 metres was next.  Again, with a strong headwind.  The headwind and slow track left me with a time of 28.23.

All that remained now were the relays.  First up was the 4x100m relay.  As I have all season, I ran the first leg.  This time, I got off to a good start and built up decent speed, getting us off to a good start.  We finished with a silver medal, out of 4 teams, which was as good or better than we anticipated.

The final event was the 4x400m relay.  By now, we had an injury plagued team, with one runner replaced by a substitute, why hasn’t run 400m in years, and another who got an injury in the 4x100.  Before the injuries, we were looking at a potential gold medal, but we had to settle for silver.

Anyway, I pulled up OK, but it’s not over for me yet.  I’m off to Maryborough tomorrow to run in a fire brigade competition! :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Fire brigade continues

Back on the fire brigade track this week, with a competition at Mooroopna, just under 90 minutes drive away.  With numbers short, I knew I was in for a busy day.

First up (for me) was the ladder race.  Things didn’t go well, and I had a few slips on the way up, so didn’t get through my heat.

Straight after was the hose and ladder 5s.  During the week, I had tweaked my sprint technique with the hose in the harness, which seemed to give slightly more speed down the track.  I used the same technique in this run and made it to the stage with plenty of time to spare.  Our time was 25.12.  Not spectacular, but 0.67 seconds better than last year.

Because we’re down on numbers, I was called upon for some of the marshalls, which were next, running a 19 second 2 man marshall, which wasn’t too bad, considering the limited time I’ve spend on these events.  Had a solid run in the 4 man Y, but we were slow getting over the line.  After the Y, it was time for lunch.

The first event after lunch for me was the pumper and ladder 5s.  Our run was aborted part way through, due to equipment failure.  As this was not our fault, we were granted a re-run.  In the re-run, I got a good climb, and we finished with a time of just over 17 seconds, which is among our best times.

Now all that remained were the cart events, which have always suited me the best.  First of those was the C Section 4s.  I was in pole, as usual, had a good, uneventful run, and we easily won the event.

Following the 4s, was the sixes, one of my favourite events (the other being the Y8).  Here, I was in my usual position of pole and second branch, so another run with the cart in tow, but at least I had another person beside me in the front and an additional one on the back. :)  This pole is a bit harder though, with the front being heavy to pick up at the start, and the run being 25 yards longer than the 4s.  My run was unuventful, with good speed down the track, then taking my branch before handing the cart over to the catcher.  I was in position in plenty of time to hit the target.  Unfortunately, we got a miss somewhere.

Next up was the champion 4s.  I wasn’t originally on this team, but one of the other guys was suffering from minor heat exhaustion and went off to the rehab facility to get it sorted, so I was called in to take the pole again.  This run went similar to the C section 4s, except I was probably slightly faster, due to being fully warmed up from the previous 2 runs.  Our time was also slightly faster, but as this was an open event, the A and B sides got all of the placings.

With the loss of one of our team, we no longer had sufficient numbers to run the Y8, even with borrowing from another team, so our day ended there.  I was feeling a bit under the weather myself, though nothing serious.  I decided to check into rehab as a precaution.  They found only a slightly elevated body temperature, but nothing dangerous, so I spent 10-20 minutes in a cooling chair with some water and electrolyte replacements, before returning to the team to help pack up for the trip home.

For the team, the day was successful, with a section aggregate win and 5th in the grand aggregate.

This coming week, it’s back to athletics for the Victorian Country Athletics Championships.

- Tony via Tumblr

Back on the fire track

Yesterday, the fire brigade season resumed with a competition at Benalla, around 200km from home in the northeast of the state.  The long trip necessitated an early start, with the team departing on a bus a little after 6:15AM and arriving just before 8:30 for a 9AM start.

This competition was a bit different to the run of the mill ones we normally attend, in that both juniors and seniors ran on the same day.  This was reminiscent of competitions 25-35 years ago, when I initially competed.  I like the idea, because it gives juniors an opportunity to see what senior runners do (the wet events are very different to junior ones).

The different format meant both a later start and a different order of events for us seniors.  First event up was the 4 man Y.  Had a good run myself, but there were some hiccups around the Y piece that slowed the us down.  This was the only event in the marshalls that I ran, so it was now a long delay until after lunch, while the juniors ran most of their wet events.

My next event was the ladder race.  After a false start and some confusion caused by the starting system, I ran a solid 7.69.  Unfortunately, I was up against one of the faster guys, who was probably half my age or younger and didn’t win my heat.  Luck of the draw.

Next was the hose and ladder 5s.  Had a good run and got up the ladder in plenty of time to finish with a 25.25 second time.  Enough to easily win the event.  Following this was the  sixes.  Had another good run in my usual position of pole and second branch, and we came second in that event.

In the champion 4s, we fielded two entries.  I was in the second entry.  Ran another solid pole, and we finished 4th.  Our first entry finished just ahead of us in third.

The final event was the Y8.  We made a minor change to our team from previous training.  I was moved from first coupling to hydrant.  This was to allow the two runners in pole to go through ahead of the hydrant.  Once the pole was clear of my path, I could use my speed to make up time to the plug, set the hydrant and then continue with the rest of my run, eventually ending up the ladder.

Got off to a good start, following closely behind the left pole until I took the hydrant off the stand.  By then, my path was clear and I sprinted the 30 yards to the plug.  Just as I was about to lift the cap, I was hit by something on the cart from behind, which temporarily threw me off balance and left me with rather sore right glutes.  I quickly recovered and completed a perfect set of the hydrant.  Next was a short run to collect the Y piece, which someone left for me further down the track and pass it to the third coupler.  This requires a short run, then a stop for a the transfer.  My injury made it a bit painful, but I made the transfer in good time.  My final step was to run to the ladder, wait for the third branch to place the branch and hode in my harness, so I could climb the ladder.  The third branch had some difficulty and I had to wait, which made the climb more challenging, as I would have to lift water near the top of the ladder.  Despite my injury, I made it up in good time, and we came second in the Y8.

That ended a fairly successful day.  After a stop at Maccas (MdDonalds for those of you outside Australia) for a quick snack, we made the 2 hour trip back home, and I nursed a rather sore behind, which made getting on and off the bus a bit interesting.

Recovery is going well.  Today, I trained at the track and managed near race time 200m sprints, before spending a bit of time working on my javelin technique.  I’m sure my massage therapist is going to notice the damage at the next appointment! :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Breaking the speed barrier!

With Christmas and New Years out of the way, the athletics track and field season resumed today.  Today was a regular meet, and I entered 5 events - the 100m, shot put, long jump, 400m and javelin.

First up was the 100m.  Conditions were perfect for a good time, with a forecast temperature of 38C and a light NE wind, which would be mostly a tailwind on the straight.  The heat and wind conditions were ideal for me.

After the usual warmup, I lined up at the start, with the goal of breaking the 13 second barrier that has eluded me all season, with several near misses.  After a false start (no,wasn’t me! :) ), the race got underway.  Made a tactical mistake in the early stages, which cost me significant time, affecting my acceleration.  Wasn’t sure if I had achieved my goal, but a check of the results some time later showed a time of 12.99 seconds - yes, I had finally done it, and with a less than ideal race! :)

Following the 100m was the shot put.  First throw, I tried a different technique, didn’t work, ended up with a no throw, and followed that with an ordinary 5.50m.  I passed on my third throw, to get over to the long jump, where I jumped 3.79, then 3.80m, before passing again, to go over to the 400m.

By the time the 400m was run, wind conditions were a little tricky.  In my heat, the wind turned during the race, to be a headwind around most of the lap.  Finished with a reasonable time of 1;02.58, 0.1 seconds short of my PB, with almost nothing left in the tank.

Next up was the javelin.  First throw was a no throw (landed on its side - AKA “belly flop”).  Second throw was over 13.9 metres, a PB.  At this time, I had to go to the 4x100m relay, where I ran a solid first leg, before returning to the javelin.  My final throw was 13.99m, another PB.

So, another good way with 2 PBs and some solid performances.  Now, for a couple of weeks break from athletics as the fire brigade season kicks into top gear.  My next track and field meet will be the Victorian Country Athletics Championships on 26-28 January.

- Tony via Tumblr

A busy finish to 2016.

This week was the final week of athletics for 2016.  First on Thursday (2 days before writing this) was a regular meet, where I had 4 events - the 200m sprint, triple jump, 60m and discus.

The 200m turned out to be my best ever run, both in terms of technique, as well as time run.  I finished it in 26.71 seconds into the wind, despite taking the start a bit slower than normal as a precaution for a tight hamstring.

The triple jump wasn’t one of my better efforts, with a jump of 7.61m being my best, well short of my 8.26m PB.  I decided against running the 60m, with another meet 2 days away.  So the next and final event was the discus, where I threw 15.28m, over a metre short of my PB.  Still, not a bad day.

Today was another meet, but something different.  It was the regional multi-event championships.  I entered the pentathlon for this one, which comprised long jump, javelin, 200m sprint, discus and 1500m run.  For those who don’t know how multi event competitions work, completing each event earns a number of points, depending on performance, and the points are added to give an overall score.

First up was the long jump.  My first 2 jumps were well below my PB.  The third jump looked good, but unfortunately was a no jump.  Result was a best jump of 3.95m, scoring 198 points.  Next up was the javelin.  As expected, this proved to be my weakest event, with 2 no throws, and a final throw of 13.44m - close to PB, but worth only 75 points.

The 200m was my best opportunity for points.  Conditions were tough, with a stronger headwind than Thursday.  However, on the plus side, I had a strength advantage from my fire brigade competitions.  Finished the race first, in a respectable time of 27.24 seconds, scoring 430 points.

Discus is an event I have been spending a little time training before the sprint work.  I had hoped to throw a PB, but the best of my 2 good (out of 3) throws was 15.24m, which earned me 184 points.

The final event was a trip into unknown territory - the 1500m.  The longest I’ve ever run on a track was 800 metres, and even in cross country, I have never run 1500m, only 1k or around 3k.  I wasn’t sure how I would hold up over this distance under the difficult, windy conditions.  As it turns out, my fitness held up pretty well.  I kept a fairly steady pace, with a sprint finish in the home straight for a time of 5:57.54.  My score for the 1500m was 274 points, the second highest for any of my events.

I finished the day with 1161 points in total, while the winner in my age group scored 1369 points.  Looks like I need to work on my field events for future multi event competitions.  It was a very enjoyable day with some good results.  Now let’s see what 2017 brings.  I will be maintaining my training schedule over the break.

- Tony via Tumblr

400m and shot put PBs

Saturday was back on the athletics track.  Had a busy program with 6 events total.  First up was the 100m - the first 100m event since my hamstring injury 5 weeks earlier.  Took the first 40m a bit conservative, just to be safe, before going all out to the line.  Ran a respectable 13.19 into a 1.9 m/S headwind.  Now that I am confident I’m over my injury, I want to work on my start and acceleration.  I feel I’m still a fair way from getting all my power to the track early in the race.

From the 100, it was straight across to the shot put.  As I had long jump to follow 15 minutes later, the officials let me have my throws at the start of competition in quick succession.  My second throw was 6.09m, a PB by 15cm.  I’m sure that will improve a lot with practice.

At the long jump, I had a fairly ordinary day, as my head was totally not in the right space for jumping,  My first 2 jumps were pretty ordinary (3.63 and 3.65m).  Managed to find a bit of focus for my final attempt, with a 3.95m jump, but that was still more than 30cm short of my PB.

As soon as I finished at the long jump, it was time for the 400m.  Despite not feeling in the right place for the 400, I quickly got into stride and settled into a good race pace.  Unlike previous runs, I was able to focus on technique and maintain pace right up to the finish line, resulting in a PB of 1:02.48 (0.03 faster) on a day when many seemed to struggle, despite reasonable conditions.

After a couple of minutes to recover (if you have energy left after a 400m race, you’re not doing it right! ;) ), I headed off to the javelin.  First throw was a no throw (didn’t hit the ground point first).  Second throw landed perfectly, though it was only a bit over 11 metres.  I elected to pass on my third throw, as it was time to head over to the 4x100m relay.

In the relay, I ran first position again.  Got off to a good start and built up some good speed on the bend, finishing the run with a good baton change to our second runner.  With a mix of age groups, we weren’t going to win or break any records, but we did finish a respectable race with all changes being good.

The relay marked the end of a very busy, but successful day.  This week, there are two meets - a regular meet with the alternate program, in which I will be competing in the 200m, 60m, triple jump and discus on Thursday night, and a multi event meet on Saturday, where I have entered the pentathlon (200m, 1500m, discus, long jump, javelin).

- Tony via Tumblr

Fire brigade season opener

Sunday saw the first competition for the fire brigade competition season.  This time, only my “C” team were competing, our “A” side were missing several due to illness and other commitments.

As usual, first up for me was the ladder race.  Managed 2 solid climbs (heat and final), with a final time of 8.11 seconds.  Following the ladder race was the hose and ladder 5s.  This event, with its long sprint to the ladder is the main reason I took up athletics, so it’s always a good indicator of progress.  Despite slowing down earlier than I needed to, we got a time of 23.99, a time that I would have struggled to physically get to the top of the ladder in, 2 years ago.  In addition, it turned out I was lifting water by the time I got to the top, but didn’t notice, so my overall fitness is far better too.  Track training is really paying off here!  Anyway, our time gave us second place, as one of the other sides put in a really good run.

Following the ladder 5s were the marshalls, the dry events involving hose work.  Due to injury of other team members, I was substituted into the 4 man Y and 2 man marshall at the last minute.  Ended up running 5th in the 4 Y, much to our surprise. :)

After lunch, the C section 4s were next, which we won.  I had a good run in pole, so looks like my hamstring is back to 100%.  Following the 4s was the hose and reel 6s.  Had another good run in the pole, but some issues in the middle of the run cost us a few seconds.  However, we still got 5th place.  After the sixes, I was rested for the champion 4s, to give a new guy, who has just come up from junior ranks more experience in the pole at his first comp.  They finished 4th in a time similar to our C section 4s, so he also had a good run.

Final event was the Y8.  With the new guy also very capable in the pole, my role has changed.  I now start on the back of the cart, put the first coupling onto the hydrant, then pick up the Y (left on the ground further down the track) and pass it to the third coupler while on the way to the base of the ladder.  For me, a much easier run which gives me more energy for the climb.  Anyway, although the time wasn’t our best, we ran second in the Y8, which was enough to give us the C section aggregate.

At the end of the day, we had a win and several placings, won the C section aggregate, second in the wet events aggregate and 4th in the grand aggregate.  Nice way to start a season! :)

- Tony via Tumblr

2016 Vic Relays. Men 40+ 4x100m

2016 Vic Relays. Men 40+ 4x100m:

My 4x100m final at the Victorian Relay Championships, courtesy AthsVic TV.  I was the first runner in the team in lane 2 (second from the inside).

- Tony via Tumblr

2016 Vic Relays. M40+ 4x400m

2016 Vic Relays. M40+ 4x400m:

My 4x400m final at the Victorian Relay Championships, courtesy AthsVic TV.  I was the first runner in the team in lane 1 (inside lane).

- Tony via Tumblr

2016 Victorian State Relay Championships

Yesterday, the 2016 Victorian State Relay Championships were held in Melbourne.  This was the first time I’ve competed in these championships, as I didn’t put myself on the list to go last year.

With the championships being in Melbourne, it meant an early start and a 2 hour drive to the stadium.  I was in two events, the 4x400m and 4x100m relays, running in first position.  Checking the provisional timetable before leaving, I was to run a heat of the 4x400 around midday, before the final 3 hours later.  With fewer entries, the 4x100m was to be a final only, around 5PM.  With that in mind, I planned to arrive around 10AM, to allow plenty of time to sort out any administrative issues.  As it turns out, I arrived just after 10, and met up with the rest of the team.  Just before 11, an announcement came over the PA that there would be no 4x400m heat, so now it was to be just the 2 finals.

The cancellation of our heat left plenty of time for lunch and to watch the action from the other events.  It soon became pretty obvious that this was a big step up from local competitions, and the times would be very fast.

After a full warmup and checking into the start area with officials, we were lined up for the 4x400m relay.  As first runner, I setup my blocks and waited for the starter’s call.  Shortly after the gun went off, it was obvious the competition was very fast, well beyond my capabilities (for now ;) ), but I stuck to my race plan, which went well, other than a minor bit of hamstring tightness at the 250m mark.  The run was very similar to last week’s 400m race.  I handed the baton over at just over a minute into the race, and my 400m time (the changeover happened several metres before the 400m mark) would have been very close to last week’s time as well.  We finished 7th, with a time around 4:15, with everyone running pretty well.  The winning team finished in 3:36.

About 90 minutes later, after a short warmup and some practice baton changes, we were back again for the 4x100m relay.  Again, I was in first position, starting the race.  With the shorter distance, this was the biggest test of my hamstring,  The start went well, and after a cautious transition into full flight, I got up to full speed without any issues, and maintained speed until the changeover.  Hard to say what position we changed over in, but we were definitely close to at least some of the other teams.  We finished 5th in a little over 51 seconds (winner was around 45).  We were pleased with that result.

After the 4x100, I said my goodbyes to everyone and started the long drive home.  As for the day, it was a real experience competing against the best in the state.  I’m not at that level yet, but it is early days, and I am still developing my potential.  It was also good to have great teammates to run with. I will definitely be back next year.

- Tony via Tumblr

Taking it easy(!)

My hamstring recovery is going steadily.  I’m able to manage at least 95% effort, though I haven’t given full acceleration a test yet.

For the track, I had a choice of 100m, 1500m and 400m, as the events I’d attempt.  After a brief discussion with my coach, who confirmed my own thoughts, I opted for the 400m only.  With the state relay championships only a week away, I didn’t want to risk a re-injury in the 100m.  I figured I could take a slower start in the 400 and focus on technique and fitness to run the race.

For the field, I had entered in shot put, long jump and javelin.  First up was the shot put.  Already, it was obvious that I was going to have some serious scheduling issues.  Without the benefit of a full warmup and 100m sprint before the shot, I decided to drop the long jump to allow for some time to warm up.  Anyway, shot put was a bit ordinary, with a best throw around 5.45m.

Even without the long jump, events conspired to severely limit my warmup for the 400m.  As a result, I knew I would have to take the race carefully.  However, weather conditions were perfect, with the temperature around 28C and almost no wind.  I took the start a bit easier than normal (though apparently at least one spectator didn’t notice! :) ), and maintained pace in the back straight.  From there the idea was to hold on as best I could.  Unfortunately, in the middle of the bend, my injured hamstring tightened up and I slowed down slightly to play it safe.  Luckily, the tightness only lasted a few seconds and I was able to push on towards the finish.  Finished the race in a PB time of 1:02.51.

Final event was the javelin.  Here, I wasn’t expecting any miracles.  I’m still in the early days of getting my technique sorted, and the usual advice of “It’s like throwing a tennis ball” isn’t the most helpful, because I’ve never had a good throwing action.  Here, I’m in unexplored territory (which is one reason why I’m interested in working on the javelin more).  Anyway, I got two good throws in, including a PB around 13.5m. :)

Next week is the Victorian Relay Championships.  I’m looking forward to running a few  relays, teaming up with other locals.

- Tony via Tumblr

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 State Championships Day 3

Been a bit slack posting the final day’s activity, but anyway, here it is.  My first event was the hose and ladder 5s.  This event is the reason I took up athletics initially, because the main part of the event is a sprint of approximately 100 metres to the foot of the ladder.

With the requirement for top speed, I took the time to do a full warmup, then rest before the run.  The run itself got off to a shaky start, I had a minor fumble when getting the branch, which had a further effect of leading to uncertainty about how the hose was sitting in the harness, which further delayed my acceleration to top speed.  When I reached top speed, everything fell into place, with a smooth (and fast!) run followed by a smooth climb.  Our run was 24.40 seconds, which got us 5th place.

The rest of the morning was a succession of runs around 20-30 minutes apart.  Next event was the 4 man Y, which didn’t go so well.  At this time, I was planning on taking lunch, but I got a last minute call to fill in for the A side, to replace someone else who was injured.

I filled in the the A team’s hose and reel 8s, assisting the first length to its final position.  First run we got beaten, but got to the fine as one of the “2 fastest losers”.  Our final run wasn’t as good as hoped either, and didn’t place.

The final event was the champion 4s.  With teams from all 3 classes competing, there was very little chance of scoring a place, but we were hoping to make the final, after 2 rounds of heats.

First round was a win by 1/100th of a second, but we lost the second round, which ended the state championships for us.  However, it ended up being a very successful weekend.  In addition to the win, second place and the 2 5th places that I was involved in, the team scored another win and second place in events I wasn’t a part of.  The final result was second place in the C Section wet aggregate and third place in the C section grand aggregate.

However, there was one final, if unofficial event left to run.  It was a novelty sprint, with proceeds going to charity.  I did quite well, somewhere between 6th and 8th out of 20 odd entrants, :)

Anyway, it was a good weekend with excellent results.  I still have to find another second or two down the track and up the ladder.  I’m not sure how much further I can push track speed, but I will be training hard to make the next level there.  Ladder climbing speed is another issue and I may be able to pick up some time there.  I will need to experiment with training ideas to increase my climbing speed, which is somewhat slower than ideal, though reliable.

Now to finish the last few weeks of track season, before going into winter mode and working towards next year.

- Tony via Tumblr