Monday, December 02, 2013

Start of the season - and the power of the unconscious.

Started the competition season on Sunday, had a really good day.  Won the hose and ladder 5s and got 5th in the Y8.  Also substituted into the A class side for their Y8 and won that with them - first and 5th in the same event, not bad! :)  And my ladder race time was only 0.19 seconds behind the PB I set at the state championships in March, which is good for this early in the season.

Even more significant that this is what's been happening in the 4s.  Late last year, I was moved from the front of the cart to the back to get more speed off the start.  This season, we've all been swapping positions, and last Monday at training, the first run was with me on the back, which worked reasonably well, except the guy on pole was pushed around a bit by the unbalanced forces on the back.  The next run, I was put back on the front.  This time, the cart was even faster, and for much of the run I was pulling it pretty much single handedly, according to those who were on the back.  We stuck with this arrangement on Sunday, again with similar results.  It seems sometime in the last couple of weeks, my unconscious mind has completely reprogrammed how I pull the cart, giving me considerably more power, and enabling us to go around 10% faster - around the same speed as our A class team.  The change was sudden, like it didn't happen until this "reprogramming" was complete, then it caught everyone off guard.  I have had similar quantum leaps of performance since my teens, but it's only recently that I'm starting to understand what's going on.  The mysteries of the autistic mind never cease to amaze.  Now to find more efficient ways to harness the unconscious power within.  This is only the tip of the iceberg of what's possible. :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The 2013-2014 season approaches

It's a little under 2 weeks to our first competition for the 2013-2014 season.  As usual, I've been working on fitness throughout the winter.  This year will be complicated by the need to build endurance for a fundraising event in April (stay tuned!), while working on the speed and power required for competition.  With the help of a sprint specialist, I have been able to significantly improve my starts and have a few more clues into my top speed issues (still working on those - ongoing project).

Looking forward to the season! :)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

End of the 2012-2013 season... And a trip to Perth!

The rest of the season went well, with a couple of event wins, numerous minor placings and coming second overall in our section at one competition.  My roles underwent some changes, the most significant being in the 4s, where I was moved from the pole to branch.  This move was done to increase cart speed and take advantage of my power over a wide range of speed, especially near the start.

The state championships were held in Warrnambool, around 200km SW of Melbourne on the coast, during the March long weekend.  This year, I again had 6 runs.  First up was the ladder race, where I made it through 2 heats and ran in the final against time.  I narrowly missed a PB (since the comeback) in the second heat, and a slip in the final cost me a PB after a good start.  My next event was the C section 4s.  First heat was a disaster, but the opposing team was disqualified, so we got through.  Second heat was a fast run, good enough to get us a spot in the final round against time.  Our final run was also good, actually a team best, and narrowly missing out on a placing.  Day 1 ended up with a change of clothes into a dress uniform to march with the team in the evening torchlight procession, which we did well in, though didn't score a placing.

Day 2 saw me running 3 events, starting with the pumper and ladder.  Our initial run was good, but the officials had set the truck up incorrectly, so we were given a re-run.  The re-run was also good, and gave us a 5th place in the event, out of 28 teams. :)  Second run for the day was the 2 man marshall, one of the dry events described in a previous post.  Managed one of my better runs for the season.  The last event of the day was the Y8.  My role in the Y8 changed this season.  I ran pole almost the length of the course, then assisted the third length back to the middle of the track, before climbing the ladder and hitting the final target.  A hiccup cost us a place in this event, but that's the way things go.

On the third day, I ran my last run for the championships.  This was the hose and ladder 5s, and as usual I ran the ladder position.  We managed to score 4th place in this event, which was a satisfying end to my state campaign! :)

Normally, this would be the end of the season, but this year we travelled to Perth, Western Australia to compete in the W.A. Easter Championships.  This was the culmination of a year's planning, fundraising and saving.  The 3 weeks between the Victorian state championships and the WA competition were spent learning new events that we don't run over here.

The Perth trip started with a 2:30AM wake up, to meet the bus for a 3:30 departure for Melbourne Airport to catch the flight to Perth.  Once in Perth, we set the gear up for the weekend's competition and got an early night.

Day 1, and my first event was, as usual, the ladder race.  Got through the first round with a post comeback PB time, but beaten in the second round.  The next event was the hose and ladder race, which was the first of the unique Western Australian events.  In this event, you run to a hose lais out on the track, break the coupling and run back to a hydrant and connect the host to it.  Run back to the centre, connect the branch, then put the end of the hose over your shoulder and climb the ladder.  Again, I got through the first round, but not the second.  However, in the second round, I ran the best time of any attempt, including training.

My next event was another of the events unique to WA, namely the 3 wet hose event.  This event is a little like the Y8, except the hoses are laid out on the track, and no cart or ladder is used.  My role was to break the first length, couple onto the hydrant, then run down to the other end of the track, fit the third branch and hit the final target.  Once I had finished the first coupling, there was plenty of time to get down to the third branch.

During the afternoon, I ran the 1 man Y.  This event used to be run by juniors in Victoria until the mid 1980s, and I'm one of the few people still running who have prior experience with this event.  It is a dry event, involving 3 hoses laid out on the track near a Y dividing piece.  One quirk is that the Y is placed on the track upside down.  The aim is to connect the 3 hoses, so that one hose from the hydrant leads to the Y (and remember to turn the Y over!), and then 2 hoses from the Y to branches.

The following event was the disabled wet hose.  In this event, two hoses are laid out on the track.  The first one is connected to the hydrant and the target is hit, then the first length is replaced by the second length, and the target is hit a second time.  I had to run second coupling, which has to break the second length, bring the coupling back to the hydrant, wait for the first coupler to uncouple and then connect the hose to the hydrant.  

I also ran a 4 man Y, which uses the same hose layout as the 1 man Y, except that the Y is placed the right way up before the run, and the branches are 3 feet apart, instead of 1 foot.  This event is also run in Victoria, but I don't normally run it.

My final event for the day was the 4s.  Again, I was on branch.  This time, things didn't go quite as well as planned in the heat, which ended our day.

On Day 2, I started with the hose and ladder 5s.  Had a good run down the track, but got beaten by the water to the top, and for some reason, had trouble directing the stream to the target, which cost a few seconds.  However, we still managed to get 5th place in the event.

I also ran a 2 man marshall, with one of my best runs of the season. :)

Finally, I had a shot at the firefighters sprint.  This is a simply 100 yard (91.4m) race down the track.  Wasn't as quick as I hoped - I actually perform better under load, and I suspect some of my lingering coordination issues start to become significant at those speeds.  I want to try to see if one on one coaching can help iron those issues out and unlock my potential.

So now it's back to fitness work.  Moving house in April has delayed my program a bit, but the heavy lifting involved no doubt has helped! :)  Hoping to get back to normal weight and cardio training next week.  I'm also going to explore the possibility of getting coaching with a local athletics club for sprinting, to try and improve my speed on the track.

And on to 2013/2014! :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2012 - 2013 mid season update

So far, competition has been going well.  A couple of wins, several minor placings.  Fitness has been fairly good for the most part, aside from a minor hamstring strain 2 weeks ago which slowed me down a little but didn't stop me competing completely.  I just had to choose my events and be a little more careful than usual - Still managed a win and a third on that day! :)

Looking forward to going all out now that the injury is pretty much healed, and taking on more events, and working towards the state championships in 5 1/2 weeks time.