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.