Saturday, December 17, 2016

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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

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

Monday, December 05, 2016

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 Vic Relays. Men 40+ 4x100m

2016 Vic Relays. Men 40+ 4x100m:

My 4x100m final at the Victorian Relay Championships, courtesy AthsVic TV.

- Tony via Tumblr

2016 Vic Relays. M40+ 4x400m

2016 Vic Relays. M40+ 4x400m:

My 4x400m final at the Victorian Relay Championships, courtesy AthsVic TV.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, November 26, 2016

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

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

All set for another day at the track. :-)

All set for another day at the track. :-)

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Test of Fitness!

This week’s track and field was a bit different to recent times, due to my slightly strained hamstring.  As a precaution, I didn’t run my usual sprints and ran an 800m event instead.  The 800m is an event I’ve always found challenging, with my last attempt in August at around 2:45 no better than this time last year.

My first event was the triple jump.  Although I had previously entered, my decision to go ahead wasn’t made until after a test jump, which proved my hamstring would handle the jumps.  I jumped a couple of 7.80-7.80m jumps - over 40cm short of my PB, but good, given that I was being fairly conservative.

Next was the aforementioned 800m.  My main goal here was to keep my fitness up, but I also wanted to break my long standing 2:45 PB.  However, weather conditions were tough, with a strong headwind in the final bend and to a lesser extent in the back straight.

I got off to a good start, and had to push the first run down the back straight to merge in to the inside cleanly.  From there, I settled back into what I figured would be race pace in second position.  Got passed late in the first lap, leaving me in third place at the end of the first lap with a split of around 1:16-1:17.  Maintained the pace and position in the back straight and around the final bend.  By this time, the first placed runner ran out of steam and fell behind, leaving me in second place as we left the bend.  At this point, I figured I had something left in the tank and opted for a sprint finish in the home straight.  Easily won my heat with a new PB time of 2:39.21.

Next up was discus.  Despite some good practice during the week, my performance was a bit disappointing.  First throw didn’t come out right, and ending up around 12 metres.  The second throw was better at 14m, but still well short of my PB, while the final throw was wide.

Final event was the 4x400m relay.  Following after the 800m, this was a test of both my hamstring and fitness.  I ran the second leg, taking the baton in my lane, then moving into the inside lane in the back straight, similar to the 800m.  Unlike my normal 400m run, I accelerated carefully to race pace, to avoid any issues.  The biggest challenge turned out to be following up the earlier 800m with another longer run (for me).  The run went well, and I handed the baton on to the next team member.  Our time was roughly 4:33.

Anyway, another mostly successful day with an emphasis on fitness.  I’m looking forward to when I can get back into the sprints.

Here’s my GPS log of the race.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, November 05, 2016

November off to a (mostly) good start

Back on the track yesterday, after a particularly busy week, physically.speaking.  Even on my rest days, I had some physically demanding chores to get out of the way.  Also, fire brigade training has now hit full stride, making for some full on training nights.

Anyway yesterday, I entered 4 events - 200m, 60m, triple jump and discus.  The 200m was first.  Like the previous times with this program, there was a strong headwind.  I managed a strong start and bend and ran 27.41 - a decent time under the conditions.  Next was the triple jump.  My run up issues still seem to be plaguing me, but at least this time, I was short, rather than long, hitting the board up to 40cm short.  Even so, I still managed 8.15 metres, 11cm short of a PB.

After the triple, it was back to the track for the 60m, into the headwind again.  Despite a minor hamstring strain in the last 10-20m of the race and not feeling like I reallt got into full stride, I ran 8.41 seconds, 0.14 better than my previous PB.  That ended any chance of taking part in the relay later.

My final event was the discus.  I’ve actually had a chance to do some training with one of the women in our club who is a strong in discus, with my regular coach adding his pointers as well.  The result of this little bit of training is already showing, with my PB increasing by around 4 metres to 16.66m. :)

Well, now it’s time to revocer and get myself back running.  I will be entering some middle distance events next week, in case I’m not ready for sprints, as well as discus, which I’ll be using my downtime to train for.

It’s looking like I may become a thrower after all, something I’ve never considered before. :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, October 30, 2016

October 2016

Athletics continued through the rest of October.  This year, I’ve added some throws to my list of events.  This is for a few reasons.  Firstly, in the event I’m injured, throws are the events I’ll be most likely to able to do.  Secondly, they are also a category which I’ve had the most difficulty with, so constantly doing these difficult activities might be beneficial, especially because the throws are relaxing and fun to do.

With my sprints, a different pattern has emerged this year.  My longer runs (200 and 400m) haven’t seen much improvement so far, unlike last season, where these events saw the biggest improvements.  However, the short sprints (60 and 100m) have seen some big improvements.  Last year, my 100m PB was 13.51, and 60m was 8.74.  This year, I’ve run the following:


October 8 - 8.55 (unspecified headwind)

October 22 - 8.59 (3.6 m/S headwind)


August 28 (pre-season) - 13.41

September 25 (pre-season) - 13.53 (unspecified headwind)

September 30 (pre-season) - 13.47

October 15 - 13.01 (3.1 m/S tail wind)

October 29 - 13.10

There was a sudden improvement in the first week of October, which was due to some time well spend working on my start and acceleration phase.  There is more work to be done in this area, but the results so far have been encouraging.  I’ve also improved my top speed, and can now run down many others in the final stages of the 60 and 100m sprints.

My last run for October was the Bendigo Fun Run.  I ran the 5k event, mainly to support the community.  However, I did want to break the 5min/k barrier that has eluded me in previous 5k runs.  My previous best performance over a similar distance was 5.31k in 26:35 at the O’Keefe Ekiden Relay in May, and the previous best on a true 5k course was 25:37 at last year’s Bendigo Fun Run.

Knowing the course, with its long hill between the 3 and 4km marks, I knew I had to go out hard early, so I had more time to get up the hill.  My goal was to reach the 3k mark by 14 minutes, and be at the 4k mark by 20 minutes in to the race.  My first 3k were 4:20, 4:42 and 5:01 respectively, making 14:03.  So far, so good.  Passed the 4k mark ar around 20 minutes in.  Once I saw that, I knew I had a PB in the bag.  The question now was by how much?  I stopped my watch at the finish at 24:34, which was a clear PB on all accounts, and comfortably under the 5 min/km goal pace.  Official results haven’t come out yet, but I’m happy with my time, whatever happens.

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, October 09, 2016

2016-2017 Track Season Begins

Saturday marked the beginning of the new athletics season, with the first of the Athletics Victoria Shield series.  Prior to that was the last pre-season meet on September 30.  On the 30th, I was a bit out of sorts, which I put down to this year’s unusual stretch of gloomy weather.  However, I still managed a respectable 13.47 in the 100m, my second fastest time yet.  Other results were 4.01m in the long jump, 5.20m in the shot put and 1:04.62  in the 400m.

On Saturday, the normal sunny weather returned for the day and I was back to my normal self.  First event was the 200m, which I ran in 27.62.  I’m not sure why it was slower than expected.  There was a headwind, but that doesn’t explain everything.  Next was the triple jump.  I hadn’t done this event since March, but still managed 8.20m, 6cm shy of my PB.  Not a bad way to start the season! :)  Discus, like all of my throws is very much a “work in progress”, with 12.57m being my best throw.  More work needed there. ;)  I’m doing the throws for sheer enjoyment, as well as trying to expose myself to even more different forms of movement, especially ones that have been a challenge in the past.

In the 60m sprint, everything went perfectly.  I have been working on my starts, and this showed, getting off to a good start, then finding even more speed in the latter part of the race to gain a position, and a significant PB of 8.55 seconds, 0.19 better than my previous PB.

Finished the day with a solid run in the 4x200m relay.  Anyway, I’m glad to see the season underway and looking forward to the next meet. :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My events at the last “Winter into Spring”...

My events at the last “Winter into Spring” pre-season meet in Bendigo. Events in order were: Long Jump. 100 metres. Discus. 200 metres. 400 metres. Shot Put.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Last of the Winter/Spring series at the track

Had a good day at the track and field meet today.  Entered 6 events.  They were:

100m, 200m, 400m, long jump, discus and shot put.  Despite a stiff headwind in the 100 and 200m, I ran 13.52 (0.12 over PB) in the 100m and 27.29 (0.18 over PB) in the 200m.  Missed out on a PB in the 400m, despite conditions being conducive to it, and having run faster in training.  My time was 1:03.60.

In the field events, I was a bit rusty in the long jump, having to adjust my run up.  I haven’t training this for 6 months in any case.  Similarly, discus and shot put are extra events, more for fun and to expose myself to new movements, which will only help in the long run.

Stay tuned for videos.

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Back on the Track!

Today marked the completion of a big weekend of sporting activity.  Friday evening, we had the fire brigade winter competitions.  This is a fun social night where we run a few of the dry events in teams drawn out of a hat.  I did quite well, scoring a first, second and fifth place.

Yesterday was the cross country breakup and 800m handicap as described in yesterday’s post.

Today was a full track and field meet at the local athletics track.  The weather was cool and sunny with a light north wind which favoured the 100m and 200m events.  I entered the 100, 200 and 400m as my main events, and added the shot put and discus for something different.

While I’ve been training consistently, a couple of things in the lead up added a little challenge.  Last Sunday during speed drills I stressed my left hamstring slightly, though it didn’t affect my training.  On Thursday I did a lot of speed, starts and acceleration which worked that area a fair bit, and it remained a bit tight on Friday and through the activities of the last few days.  I also had some coordination issues with my block starts on Thursday which really affected my starts.  Possibly something I’ve just become aware of with increasing awareness.

First up was the 100 metre event.  This was the most likely time for something to go wrong.  For my start issue, I tried a visualisation (it’s actually more a sensory immersion in my mind) technique to get my first step right.  I have used similar techniques in the past for a lot of physical activities, including teaching myself to swim as a kid.  From my practice starts, it was obvious that this technique worked.  Anyway, with a bit of caution during the acceleration, I ran a (official electronic)  PB time of 13.41.

Next up was the discus.  Here I was in it purely for the fun.  Managed one legal throw with a distance of a bit over 12 metres. :)

The 200m was my third event.  This one felt really good the whole way, got off to a good start, and for the first time, maintained full effort for the entire distance - the first time I’ve been able to do this.  My time was short of my 27 second goal, but still a PB at 27.11.

Following the 200m after a long wait was the 400m.  My goal here was to break the minute barrier.  With the slight breeze not being optimal, this was going to be a tall ask, but I was out to give it a go.  My first 200m was quite fast, with a friend recording it in a similar time to my 200m race!  For the rest, I maintained as much speed as I could manage.  Ran 1:03.72, 0.37 seconds outside my PB.

To finish the day, I competed in the shot put.  Like the discus, I hadn’t thrown a shot put since school.  Managed 2 legal throws, with the best being 5.06m.  Not exactly earth shattering, but I’m in this one purely for the fun. :)

Another good day, especially for pre-season. My fitness is better than at any stage last year.  Have to work on technque for acceleration and speed, and race strategy for the 400m.

Lookinf forward to next month’s final pre-season meet and the start of track season a week after.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cross Country Wrap Up

I’ve been a bit slack posting over winter.  I haven’t run any serious track and field meets since the Police and Emergency Services Games back in April.  Winter here is the time of cross country, which I did participate in most weeks.

Today was the break up of this year’s winter cross country season.  It was an interesting season, with a number of successes.  I won the 1km event by handicap a couple of times, ran the fastest on course time on at least 3 occasions, and just last week, took a massive 44 seconds off my 3km PB, banging it down to 13:33.

Today’s proceedings consisted of an 800m and a 3km handicap on the athletics track.  Being a sprinter, I opted for the 800m event, with the goal to get around in 2:35, and a handicap time corresponding to 2:40 for 800m.  Things didn’t quite go to plan.  I went out too fast, completing the first lap in 1:12, but not able to hold that for the second lap, finishing in 2:45, around my previous 800m PB.  Conditions weren’t ideal for me, with a headwind in the back straight.  Still have to work on race tactics a bit there, though if things go well, it might be the only 800m I run for the next 12 months, while I focus on the sprints.

Following the runs was the presentation of recent ribbons and the end of season presentations.  My 3km performance last week earned me a second place, which I already knew.  However, I did get a surprise, winning the overall fastest on course for the “short” distance (mostly 1km) event.  I won this by 4 points with a combination of regular attendance and some good runs (including the 3 fastest times mentioned previously).

Anyway, with cross country out of the way, focus shifts to the fire brigade and track and field season, which run over the warmer months.  Track season officially starts in early October.  However, there are a couple of out of season meets to come, the first being tomorrow.  I’ve entered the 100m, 200m and 400m, as well as taking on a couple of throws for the first time since school - shot put and discus.  Stay tuned! :)

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, May 01, 2016

O’Keefe Ekiden Relay Success.

These days, I normally focus on sprints and other shorter distance events, but occasionally something different comes along, where the value of supporting or participating makes it worthwhile venturing outside my preferred range.  Such was the case yesterday at the inaugural O’Keefe Rail Trail Marathon carnival.  This event was organised by the local athletics clubs and took place on the cycling path, which mostly follows the route of a disused railway line (hence the “Rail Trail” part) between Bendigo and Heathcote in central Victoria.

There were deveral different events on the day, including a mile race, quarter marathon, half marathon, marathon and an interesting team event called the Ekiden Relay, which was the event I took part in.  The Ekiden id a team event, where mulriple runners each run a portion of the course, which adds up to the marathon distance (42.195 km).  Yesterday, there were 7 legs, which were, in order (official distances), 2.9 km, 5.9 km, 7.3 km, 10 km, 7.3 km, 5.3 km, and 2.9 km.  As a sprinter, naturally I’d favour a shorter leg, but I’m also adaptable, and ended up running the first 5.9 km leg. 

Unlike most races, I never got to see the start, because I had to be in position to start my leg, and we left before the race started.  After some issues with the map, which I managed to sort out, with some additional location information, I was able to navigate the support driver to the drop off point, where 4 of us (from the same club, but different relay teams) disembarked to take our place at the changeover point.  With about 10 minutes to wait, I had time to do a quick warmup jog and a few stretches, before getting underway.

Our first runner came into view over a hill and around a minute later, we did the changeover (in 4th place from what I heard), and it was my turn to take over.  I started the GPS watch and eased off into a still, cold headwind up an incline.  Within seconds, the wind became a squall, complete with driving rain, which made the hill climb a bit more challenging.  The hill and squall continued for around the first km of my leg, at which time the weather eased up, though the wind remained a fairly stiff headwind for the rest of the leg.  Despite the tough conditions, and easing back to conserve energy, I still managed a good 4:40 pace, but I knew that wouldn’t last, because I was still within the middle distance range that I’ve been training and competing in (at cross country) recently.

After that first 1 km, things gradually got tougher, and I had to rely more on managing my pace to suit the conditions of the moment.  With the headwind and knowing that I had at least one one known good long distance runner not too far behind, I had to push myself to the limit, which made for a tough slog.  At least the terrain varied between flat and slightly downhill for the next few km.

By the 5 km mark, I had encountered more uphill parts of the route and was planning my run in to the changeover. However, I crested the hill, and saw not only a significant road crossing, but there were a heap of cars on the other side of the road on the next hill, which didn’t look quite right.  However, there were a lot of people and it looked like a changeover point.  Sure enough, it was!  At 5.3 km, I tagged our next runner, who continued further down the trail.  Comparing notes, all of those who I spoke to recorded distances of around 5.3 km on their GPS watches, so the leg was indeed around 600 metres shorter than it should have been.  Later, it would turn out that the 7.3 km leg after mine was actually 7.9 km, so the total distance was still right.  Anyway, my GPS logged a distance of 5.31 km in a time of 26:35, which was a pace of exactly 5:00/km, for me a PB over the 5 - 6 km distance range, especially with the tough wind conditions.  Position wise, I had moved us up one place from 4th to 3rd.

After the rest from our club finished the leg, we got a lift back to the start/finish area, where we compared notes, and also talked to some of the later competitors who were yet to go out to run their legs of the relay.  I also grabbed a ham radio, to monitor the event communications, which were being done by the local radio club.

Some 3 hours after the relay started, I had an inkling from radio traffic that the first relay runner was not too far away.  At the time, the stragglers from the half marathon were arriving, so a relatively fresh runner should stand out, and he did.  I could tell by his form and pace that he was a relay runner, who had only covered a short distance.  As he drew closer, I saw it was the last runner for my team, so we ended up winning the Ekiden relay! :-)  There was time for congratulations and a short media interview, before I had to return home for social commitments.

It was a great day at a unique event with an unexpected win.  Another one to put on my 2017 calendar. :-)

In our team, I was the only sprinter to attempt a leg longer than 2.9km, and I credit that to autism.  Firstly, that determination and persistence that is usually written off as “stubbornness” or “perseveration” by the medical profession meant I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.  Secondly, my experience and analytical abilities give me the ability to push myself right to the limit (and not too far!) for extended periods of time.  I can even compensate for my first km or so having good energy reserves and not being tempted to burn myself early.  This pace management has been built up over years of distance events, orienteering, rogaining, charity walks, cycling and other endurance based activities.  Each time, it just gets more accurate.  Those two factors enabled me to run a PB under less than ideal conditions and help set up our race for the specialist distance runners to take the lead later.

- Tony via Tumblr

Sunday, April 17, 2016

My heats of the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints at the 2016...

My heats of the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints at the 2016 Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games Track and Field.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, April 16, 2016

2016 Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games

Today was the track and field day for the Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games.  I had entered 3 events for the day, namely the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints.  This took place in Croydon, in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, over 2 hours drive away, which meant an early start on the road.

On arrival, I signed in and noticed that although the field was small, I did have some competition in my events, which was good.  It’s not as much fun winning a “one horse race”.

First up was the 100 metres.  Conditions were excellent, with hardly any wind.  I ran reasonably well, coming 4th overall in my heat and second in my age group, with a time of 13.52.  Acceleration seemed to be where I lost time, once up to top speed, I was holding my position, if not gaining slightly.

An hour and a half later was the 200m.  After a quick warmup, I was ready to race.  The 200m has been my best event over the summer.  This time, I had a coordination hiccup at the start, before getting underway.  Rounded the bend in second place, and now at top speed, I started gaining on the leader.  Finished second in my heat, and won the gold in my age group.

Lunch followed the 200m (after watching the final stages of the high jump), then medal presentations for the morning events.

After lunch, conditions deteriorated.  A stiff southerly wind sprang up, creating a headwind down the back straight.  These were the conditions for the 400m, my last event, which made race tactics a bit harder.  Again, the coordination issue crept in, but the rest of the race was solid.  The headwind in the back straight made the race significantly slower than I had hoped, sapping speed built up in the start.  However, I pushed through and maintained pace for the rest of the race.  Finished second in my heat, but another gold medal, when broken down into age groups, with a time of around 66 seconds, and a massive lead over the others in my age group.

Ended up finishing the day as an official, helping counting laps for the 5000m event, which was the last of the day.   This made for an interesting end to the day.  All that was left were the medal presentations, before saying goodbye.

A good day all round, with a great chance to look at my race performance in some detail.  It seems the acceleration phase is now my weak link.  My top speed has improved considerably over the past summer.  From here, I’m keen to look at the more technical aspects of my race, to improve that acceleration.

Anyway, my track season has ended, and it’s back to cross country next week.

- Tony via Tumblr

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Cross country 2016 starts.

Today, the 2016 winter cross country season started.  This year, I made a strategic decision to focus on the shorter 1km events, rather than the 3km races I ran last year.  The reason is because the 1km is more relevant to my primary athletic discipline, namely sprints.  The 1km races will help develop more endurance for 400m and 200m sprints.

Today’s offerings were 1.06km, 2.4km and 4.8km.  I entered the 1.06km event, and was handicapped at 4 minutes for 1km, which put me starting at 3:05 after the first starters.  When my turn to start came, I got off to a good start, passing several others in the first 200m.  By the 800m mark, I passed those who had started more than 3 minutes ahead, and shortly afterwards, passed the leader.  Finished in first place, with a time of 3:57, and 3:40 for the first 1km.  The handicapper informed me of the bad news, my new handicap would be 3:40 for 1km, which was of no surprise. :)  Looking forward to running with my new handicap, which will make the races more challenging.  Overall, I’m happy with my performance, and my winter training has started off on a good note.

Next week, it’s back to the track for the Police and Emergency Services Games, where I will be competing in the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints.

- Tony via Tumblr

Monday, April 04, 2016

Some of my runs in the start of the 2015-2016 athletics and fire...

Some of my runs in the start of the 2015-2016 athletics and fire brigade season.

- Tony via Tumblr

Test from Tumblr

Test post from Tumblr, see how far this spreads. :)

from Tumblr


Making some changes here, trying to get posts on this blog to appear on Facebook and Tumblr.

Mixed bag of training.

The last few weeks of training have been a bit mixed.  Because I have the Police and Emergency Services Games in less than 2 weeks, athletics training is still in full swing with more improvements being made in fitness and form.

However, autismwalk 2016 is now less than 3 months away, so some longer walks have been creeping into my training mix.  In 4 days, cross country also starts.  While I will be competing, cross country will be mainly training runs to improve fitness for next summer.  This year, I intend to focus on the 1km distance, to give the greatest impact on sprinting performance, especially for the 400m events.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Athletics season ends

As March draws to a close, with Easter taking up next weekend, the summer athletics season came to an end yesterday.  With the fire brigade running season finishing on the previous weekend, I turned my attention back to the athletics track, resuming training the day after getting back from Mildura, when  everyone else was still recovering, and putting in some tough 400m fitness work on Thursday, an areas I was forced to neglect for nearly 2 months.

Anyway, for my final meet of the local season, I entered the 100m, 400m and long jump.  First up was the 100 metres.  First challenge was adjusting to the athletics start style and getting re-acquainted with blocks, a piece of equipment I hadn't used since the end of January.  My start was a little slower, but I was able to call on some extra speed in the latter half of the race, allowing me to take the heat and a new PB of 13.51 seconds.  One of the guys who helps coach me noticed I'm still far from my potential, so there's a lot of technique to work on over the winter months.

Next up was the 400m.  I was hoping for a run around 65 seconds, around my PB, maybe a slight improvement, but I had no idea how I would go.  The longest sprint I do with the fire brigade is around 20 seconds (admittedly with a lot of weight in tow!), and I needed around 3 times this length of effort.  Furthermore, although I ran good times, I found Thursday's speed endurance work tough.  Anyway, I got off to an excellent start this time, reaching top speed and passing the two competitors staggered ahead of me, before settling down to race pace in the back straight.  I managed to maintain pace and finish first with a new PB of 63.35 seconds, well over 2 seconds faster than the old PB!  Obviously my 400m fitness hasn't fallen off. :)

Straight after the 400m was the long jump.  After taking a rest for 10 minutes to catch my breath, I started my jumps.  First one was a bit shaky, but still a PB, somewhere around 3.4 metres.  Second jump was a bit over 3.9m, so I gave it all for the final jump to try and break 4m, which I did, with a new 4,14m PB.

To end the day, myself and another club member teamed up with 2 members of another club to run a 4x100m relay.  I enjoy the relays, so this was a great way to end the official season.

With the heavy period of competition now over, I've pulled up really well.  Even the minor niggle I had in recent weeks has almost gone away and had no impact on my performance in the past 2 weekends.  I'm feeling strong and ready to take on other competition, though I will take the opportunity to do some recovery in between training days, now that things have slowed down a bit.  The next couple of weekends also have some social opportunities, now that most of my weekend time has been freed up.

Now that athletics is over, the focus will be on cross country.  For me, cross country is more a way to get endurance training, any wins or placings I get are incidental, but I will be using my GPS to track progress through the season.  I'm sure this work will give me that extra endurance to break the 60 second barrier in the 400m, especially now that is only a few seconds away.  Winter will also be a break from regular blog posts. :)

However, athletics won't go away entirely.  Next month, I have the Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games.  I've entered the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints, and with 4 more weeks to train for the games and in good form, I'm looking forward to pitting myself against others in the emergency services.  Additionally, there is the prospect of a couple of off season athletics meets through the winter months, which I will also have a go at, if only to monitor my progress.

Stay tuned! - Tony

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

End of the fire brigade season and the 2016 Victoruan Urban Fire Brigades State Championships

In the past few weeks, a lot has happened.  Firstly, there was the Junior Urban State Fire Brigades Championships over the Feb 27-28 weekend.  I'm only about 30 years too old to run in these competitions, but I do attend, firstly to help out with looking after the kids, but most importantly, I'm one of the officials for the weekend, either judging runs or assisting with preparing the equipment for each run.  Turned out to be a fairly easy weekend this time around, with many officials available, so I was only assigned 4 events over the weekend.  It's always nice to help out, as well as compare notes with other officials between runs, which helps sharpen one's knowledge of the rules.

The following weekend was the twilight competition in Echuca.  This was not one of my better days, with a few minor hiccups all day, and gastric issue complicated matters a bit.  However, I still pulled up reasonably well, with only a minor niggle that had developed in training a week earlier.  After a hot (40C) day, we relaxed with a BBQ.  The season results were also presented, and our team won the C Section aggregate for the second year in a row, due to consistent performances earlier in the season, despite our day's placing only being third.

Last weekend (12th - 14th March) was the 3 day Urban State Fire Championships.  These were hosted in Mildura, a 400km drive away, which we undertook in a bus on the Friday.  The long bus trip gave me a chance to read a book (by an autistic author, no less!).  We arrived around 4 in the afternoon and after dropping some people off at our accommodation, proceeded to the track to weigh and measure our gear, to make sure it met the legal specs for competition.  This is one of those rituals that forms part of the State weekend that I enjoy, it sets the atmosphere of anticipation up.  After measuring the gear and setting the hydrants, we headed back to our accommodation and settled in for the night.

Day 1 was the Saturday.  The first part of the day was the official parade and opening, followed by the Discipline contest, a competition of dress presentation and marching drills.  I didn't take part in the Discipline, but I did take video of both our teams as they marched around the course.

After the Discipline was the ladder race, my first event.  Unfortunately, a couple of slips ended my competition in a heat I had the potential to win.  Saturday turned out to be my bad day, as things didn't get any better for me in the C section 4s.  I was running hydrant and managed excellent track speed, but didn't have it straight enough when setting it, which cost too much time to recover from.  These were my only two runs for the Saturday, but I did borrow a uniform and take part in the evening's Torchlight procession, where teams march through the streets in uniform carrying kerosene fuelled torches.  I did get a few positive comments about my marching ability, so perhaps I might get to march the Discipline one day. :)

Day 2 - Sunday.  This was to be my busy day with 4 events.  First was the pumper and ladder event, which was first up on the day.  This run went together quite well.  On the way up the ladder, I had time to notice that the particular ladders at the venue were a type I found a little more difficult to climb, so I was able to adjust my technique to make sure I got up (which I did in plenty of time).  Everyone else got their part together, and we ended up taking third place.

Next was the hose and reel sixes.  We hadn't been able to run or train this event as much as previous years, due to injury or unavailability of other team members.  However, we did make it through to the finals, though didn't place. 

The afternoon saw the second of the pumper events, the pumper 4s.  This is an event we've never really done well in, and is particularly challenging for the pump operator, who must perform a precise sequence of adjustments to get a clean run.  My position was hydrant, where I set the hydrant in the ground, deliver water and call out to the pump operator that the water is available to draw on.  This run went together very well, and we placed 4th, which was a bit special, considering our history with the event.

My final event of the day was the Y8.  Here, I was back in familiar territory with the grueling role of pole, assist and ladder, which I have run for the past few years.  After pulling the reel almost all the way down the track and helping the third length back, I had a strong ladder climb (thanks to improved fitness!).  We finished third in conditions that saw many of the top sides unable to complete a clean run.

Day 3 - Monday.  This was the quietest day, with only one event - the ladder 5s.  All of my preparation of the past year, especially my foray into athletics was for this run.  Last year, I had worked out that a state win would be almost impossible, and a place difficult, based on my track speed.  I have put in a lot of training to address this, and this year, for the first time, we had a real chance at taking the event, though it would push me to my limits.  My warmup went particularly well - I took the time to do a full track warmup, which takes 20 minutes or more.  Unfortunately, a problem elsewhere in the run meant I wasn't able to put my speed to use, and we weren't able to get a good time.  One of those things, I'll just work hard and get myself easily able to make the time for next year. :) 

Some of the other team members did get a win in the 4 man Y with their best run of the season a little later in the morning, which went a long way to making some of the others feel better.  I certainly was happy for them, as one or two took the previous bad run a bit hard, and really needed the lift.

So the end result was quite good after a rocky start to the weekend.  As always, I am looking ahead.  My new training regime has proven itself through the season (even if I didn't get to fully utilise my speed at the State), and my new area of attention will be skills, to try and improve both my hand coordination, as well as general agility - my straight line speed is now excellent, but changing direction isn't as quick for me as it is for others.  I'm also going to focus on 1km cross country events during the winter season, which will give me a bit more stamina in the longer runs.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kerang (14/2) and Echuca (21/2) competitions

The peak of the fire brigade season rolls on, with another two weeks in a row on the track.  Both competitions involved some travel, a bit over 100km.  On the 14th, there were only a small number of teams, which made for a short but very busy day, because each event was over quickly, with the small number of teams.  As a team, we did well, with clean, consistent runs for the most part, and placing well against higher ranked teams.

Yesterday, by contrast was a much bigger competition.  However, having our A team present and mutually helping out another team meant that I had 4 extra runs.  Events won were the C section hose and ladder 5s, and the C section 4s.  I was back in pole for the 4s and ran well.  I also ran in the ladder race (where a slip put me out of contention), 2 man marshall (had a good run), 4 man Y, pumper and ladder 5s, and ran pole in the A team for their hose and ladder 8sfor the morning.  During the morning, I had a scare with my right hamstring showing signs of stress.  However, putting myself through some sprints revealed no issues, but I did have some tightness in the lower back and glutes, which I was able to manage with some stretching.  That set me up for the afternoon.

After lunch, were the C section 4s, which we won, as previously mentioned.  I was back in pole, to get the reel down as fast as possible.  Next were the A section hose and reel 8s.  This was an experience, because I was put in a position I've never run before.  However, I had a good run, because I understood the role reasonably well.  Following the 8s were the sixes.  Because us and another team were short of runners, we exchanged one each way.  I got to run with the other team in pole and assist.  It's always interesting running with someone else, because each team has a slightly different way of doing things.  This run went well, with some complimentary comments from the other guys about both cart speed and the run back to the hydrant, both of which I had a key role in.  Several minutes later, we had our own run (with one of the guys from the team I helped filling in).  Again, I ran assist with a near identical performance.

After the 6s were the champion 4s.  For this, I ran hydrant, with a good, fast run.  This gave me plenty of time to be setup, before the others came along with the reel.  We had a good, solid run, but not fast enough to win our heat.

The final event was the Y8.  Our run was good, but didn't place.  I later filled in for the A team, running second branch.  By this time, the long day was having an effect, and I had a brief mement of sensory confusion, before realising which hose I had to put the branch on, just in time, before the water arrived, and managed to hit my target.  It was almost a reflex, once I was able to find my space. :)

Yesterday was a generally good day, with a few minor hiccups.  My fitness is holding up well in the face of repeated demanding weeks - this is probably the highest workload I've ever had.  The athletics training that I did up until the end of January is really agreeing with me.

This coming weekend is a rest from competition with the junior state championships.  Although way too old to compete, I will be attending, both as a junior leader, helping to look after the kids, as well as to officiate all weekend.  I'm one of many judges who will be required.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Fire brigade PB!

Sunday saw a return to the fire brigade track for the first of 3 competitions in a row.  Since the end of January, I've focused my training purely on the fire brigade events.  This has reduced my training load considerably for the rest of the season.

On Sunday, my day started with the first event, the hydrant race, which I normally don't run.  However, I ran a reasonable time in the 14.30s range.  Next event was the ladder race.  My heat time was 8.06, equal to my post comeback electronically timed PB.  In the final, I easily beat this with a 7.88 run and narrowly missed out on a place.

The day ended up being one of my busiest ever, with a total of 13 runs in 10 events, 3 of which were filling in for the A side, as they were short one person, and I'm one our fastest and most experienced.  Highlights of the day were second in the hose and reel 8s, despite a few hiccups elsewhere in the run, as well as running our first 6 for the season.  And in the final event, the Y8, I ran twice - once with the A team and again with ours.  The A side won the Y8, and we finished 5th, which effectively meant I was represented in two placings! :)

The other thing to come out of the day was that despite a very heavy workload, I was still performing at my best and without any niggles at the end of the day.  The extra training with the athletics club over the past 6 months has not only given me more speed, but also better capacity to handle a heavy workload.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Last athletics meet for a while.

On Thursday evening, I competed in my last athletics meet for around 7 weeks.  This long break was always planned and is due to the bulk of the fire brigade competition season falling within this time.

I entered my usual events for this program, namely the 200m, 60m and triple jump.  First up was the 200m.  With a successful country championships behind me and a fairly well rested week, I was confident in my fitness.  I went all out from the start, into a stiff headwind for the first 70-80 metres, before getting only slight assistance from a near cross wind in the main straight.  Although wind conditions were nowhere near as good as last week, I ran a PB of 27.19 (down from 27.47).

Next event was the triple jump.  This time, I couldn't get my step right, and only managed a best jump of 7.95m, well short of Saturday's 8.27m.  Immediately after the triple jump was the 60m sprint.  Yet again, I narrowly missed out on a PB, running 8.76 seconds.

Due to a lack of entries, there were no relays, so that was the end of the meet.  I doubt I will compete in athletics until the middle of March, after the fire brigade season ends, as that is my focus from now on.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Some action replays.

I don't get the opportunity to do this often, but a good friend was kind enough to come down and shoot some video of the Victorian Country Athletics Championships with me in action.  I've setup a playlist.  5 of the 6 videos are of the mens 40+ events, which I was taking part in, the other one was an extra one with some of the womens 4x100m relay.  Enjoy.

And so you know which one is me, here's a pic from the weekend. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Victorian Country Athletics Day 3

Day 3, the final day of the Victorian Country Athletics Championships started with packing all my gear up and checking out of our cabin, then off to the track.  My first event, the 200 metre heat was scheduled for 11:31, but as luck would have it, 4 out of the 10 entrants withdrew, which meant that the heat wasn't needed, and I would instead be running in the final at 3:45 PM.  So most of the day was spent watching the competition, cheering on club members, chatting and keeping up to date on Facebook. :)

Finally, my 200m final came around.  I was a little concerned about my left hamstring, as there had been some tightness there all day, but it didn't seem to be too much of an issue during the warmup.  However, I did take the start a little slower than I might otherwise have, knowing that the relays would follow soon after.  However, once up to speed, everything felt good, and my second half was probably the fastest second half of a 200 ever.  Finished in 27.48, missing out on a PB by 0.01 seconds.

Next was the 4x100m relay.  I had the second leg, down the back straight and into a stiff breeze.  This went well with a fairly clean change to take the baton, a strong sprint into the wind, and a quick batton change to the third runner.  We narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing 4th.

My final event for the championships was the 4x400m relay.  With the longer distance, I knew I would have no issues with injury, but I was concerned that my endurance might not hold, after the preceeding 2 events and the previous day.  The day before, in the 400m events, I did struggle to maintain pace for the last half of the race, and conditions were identical for the relay.  Again, I ran in second position, taking the baton in a clean change in my lane, then ran my usual 400m strategy of accelerating hard for the first 40-50m, before settling down into my cruising pace.  Around the back, I had to cut in to the inside lane.  By the halfway mark, I felt surprisingly good, and became aware of someone not too far behind my from the noise of the crowd, so I pushed hard and maintained my pace.  Unlike the solo race, my pace held right to the end, where I passed the baton on.  We finished with the silver medal and proceeded to the dais for presentations after the race.  That was a good note to finish the weekend on.

As time was tight, I headed home as soon as the medal presentations were complete, after saying a quick goodbye to club members and others I knew that I encountered along the way.  Since getting home, I've contemplated the weekend, savoured the weekend's successes, reflected on how far I've come and how much further I have to go, and started looking at what I need to work on to gain more speed.  However, other than a local meet this coming Thursday, athletics now takes a back seat, as the fire brigade season is about to hit its peak.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Victorian Country Athletics Day 2

OK, so where did day 1 get to, you ask?  Well, yesterday was basically a travel day.  I drove the 180 odd km from home to Geelong, checked into the caravan park where the club is staying, and then proceeded to the track.  As I had no events, I simply watched some of those that were on.

After a lousy night's sleep due to too much stimulation combined with not enough exercise, I arrived at the track in plenty of time for my first event, the triple jump, which started at 9:00.  My first jump was off to a good start of a clear PB of 7.99 metres (previous 7.24).  Being so close to breaking 8 metres, I gave my next jump a bit more effort and achieved 8.06, which was bettered again in the third jump with 8.27m.  I had 3 extra jumps, but none of them beat my third jump.  Off to a good start with a massive PB, and not bad for an event I only started 2 weeks ago! :)

Next up was the 100 metres heat.  Felt good after the warmup, though a little sluggish.  Race went well, with a PB of 13.57 (prev 13.68) with neutral wind conditions, but not quite enough to qualify for the final.

My final event was the 400 metres.  By now, the wind had picked up and also turned to be a tail wind down the home straight (a serious headwind around the back).  In these tough conditions, I easily qualified with a 66.37 run.  Just under half a second shy of a PB.  The strong wind really played havoc with my race tactics and energy reserves.  4 hours later, at the end of the day, the final was ran.  The wind was still difficult, and by now I was completely exhausted.  Managed to finish in 67.73.

Returned to the caravan park for a BBQ dinner and some conversation, before heading off to the beach with one of the other guys for a recovery session in the cold water.

Feeling pleased with today and quietly confident about tomorrow, with my strongest events to come.  Now to get a good night's sleep. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Victorian Country Athletics Championships - 1 day to go...

Tomorrow, one of the major athletics meets for the season commences - the Victorian Country Athletics Championships.  As well as being my biggest meet for this summer season, it will be one of my last for some time, due to fire brigade commitments taking precedence for all of February and the start of March.

The Countrys as they're known informally will be a totally new experience.  Until this year, I had never been to an athletics meet bigger than inter school sports, and none outside of a school setting since I was a young boy.  This year was also my first running on a synthetic track.  However, the Countrys will involve a 3 day meet with dozens of clubs involved and unfamiliar procedures.

This year, my events will be the triple jump, 100m, 200m and 400m.  I am also representing the club in my age group in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays.  I'm looking forward to competing and experiencing the event, and will endeavour to blog each day.

Fire brigade season resumes

On Sunday, the fire brigade competition season resumed after the Christmas break with a competition in Mooroopna.  This was a small gathering, with only 8 teams entered.  I was expecting to run in 4 or 5 events, hoping to take it relatively easy, so I could save myself for a bigger target a week later - the Victorian Country Athletics Championships.

Instead, due to a combination of shortages and injuries across both of our teams, I ended up running in 9 events.  First was the ladder race.  In the heat, I ran a PB (post comeback) of 7.88 seconds (hand timed).  For some reason, I was getting on the ladder better, with the only change in recent times being the commencement of triple jump training at athletics in the preceding week.  Although narrowly beaten in my heat, I got into the final on the "fastest losers" rule.  In the final, I ran 7.93.

Following the ladder race was the C section hose and ladder 5s.  My run was a bit ordinary, as I missed grabbing the coupling at the start and had a hiccup getting onto the ladder, but we still ended up with a reasonable time (25.70) and a win.  I managed to recover strongly to get up in plenty of time.  Following the 5s, I was substituted into the A section side for the hose and ladder 8s.  In this event, I ran pole.  Nothing too dramatic happened with my part, and we ended up with second place.

In the dry events, I ran the 2 man marshall, where we got 4th place, and the 4 man Y (no places there).  Then the pumper events, where I was in the pumper and ladder event.  Ran my usual ladder position, with a slow start to the climb.  Still made it up in time, but we just missed out on a place.

After a short lunch break, it was time for the reel events.  My first event was the C section 4s.  This time, I ran branch, requiring me to hit the back of the reel (with someone else) to get it moving, then pushing it almost to the branch line, where I got off, attached the branch to the hose and hit the target.  The time was good and we had another win.  Following the 4s I substituted in the A side again, this time for the hose and reel 8s.  Had a good run, and we ended up with a second place.

We didn't field a team for the 6s, but the A side did.  They had enough to run it, but they needed a 7th person to "catch" the reel.  This requires standing just behind the targets during the event pretty much in the path of the reel.  As it comes past, I have to grab it, so the last person in the pole can get out and finish the event.  While I don't often catch these days, I am actually very experienced, mostly from my earlier days in the sport.  Following the 6s was the champion 4s.  With the only other available person injured earlier in the day, I had to run pole in this event.  Although I was starting to get some muscle tightness from the multiple runs (and now hauling the cart), this was completed without incident.  We didn't win our heat, which meant the end for us in that event.  We also didn't run the Y8, due to insufficient injury free runners by this stage.

Finally, I had to substitute for the A team in the Y8.  Here, I ran second branch, with a fairly routine run.  Unfortunately, there was a problem later in the run after I hit my target, and our time wasn't good.

Since Sunday, I have been endeavouring to taper down for the Victorian Country Athletics Championships, which start tomorrow.  On Tuesday, I just did the warmup, then spent a little time working on my triple jump.  At fire brigade training, the hot weather and other factors saw us doing a lighter than normal session, focusing on dry work.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Happy New Year. Time to get serious.

Since the last athletics meet, 3 days before Christmas, I maintained my training schedule.  This was one of my key goals, because in previous years, the interruption to training over Christmas caused issues.  I was able to work on sprint endurance, top speed and starts/acceleration, making good progress in all areas.  In addition to normal competitions, I am preparing for the Victorian Country Championships, which are held in 2 weeks on January 22 - 24.

Yesterday (9/1), athletics competition resumed after the short Christmas break.  My troublesome hamstring has been holding up well to training, and I was interested to see how it would go under competition stresses.  Unfortunately, I had a heavy pair of sessions on Tuesday and was still feeling the after effects.  With the Victorian Country championships in 2 weeks, I didn't want to take too many risks.

First event was the 200 metres.  The first 80m felt a bit slow off the mark, but there were no issues and my form was good, so I gave it everything at that point, and reached top speed very quickly.  I was able to maintain top speed for most of the straight and finished with a PB time of 27.47 seconds, 0.81 seconds than my previous PB.

There was a long wait until my next event, the 60m.  Again, the start felt slow, and I didn't get up to top speed.  This was partly due to caution, and I suspect due to the odd timing of the day causing my to mis time and under do my warmup.

My final event was another that I hadn't done for 30 years - the triple jump.  I had two good jumps, with the best being 7.24m.  It's early days, and I need to do a lot of training to get better distance.  As I need to reduce my training volume significantly for the country championships, this might be a good opportunity to focus on the triple jump.

Next week, it's back to the fire brigade track for a regular competition.