Friday, 27 May 2011

A bump in the road

There's me thinking I'm feeling strong, running well, and out of the blue I'm sidelined with my first injury in over a decade of running (yes, I'm that old!). Not the best timing, but it's 12 weeks to UTMB so there's still all to play for. Thing is, I haven't had a running injury since I started triathlon in 1993! Injuries from falling over or crashing into stuff, yes. But from running? Not that I can remember. So despite knowing all the theory of rest, ice, compress, reduce mileage blah blah blah, I find myself in a novel situation and having to find alternative coping mechanisms to deal with this. It's been 5 days and I feel like a junkie with withdrawal symptoms.

Had an increasing pain in my left foot since last Thursday, after my first trail run since coming back from TNF100 Oz. I didn't have any pain when running so carried on with my scheduled runs including the Passion Run at the weekend. The pain got worse with walking each day, enough to cause me concern as any soreness I get from running is usually gone the next morning at the very latest.

Rest day on Monday - pain still there.
6 mile tempo on Tuesday - missed on coach's advice
16 mile run on Wednesday - also missed .. finally manage to get an appointment with Simon Raftery at In Touch Physio. Going a little crazy by now from the enforced rest and worrying about lost mileage .. argh.

Simon reckons it's plantar fasciitis, with an inflamed posterior tibial tendon .. hopefully in the early stages and nothing torn, but no running till Monday ... I'm losing 77 miles this week! One of the main causes of plantar fasciitis is "repetitive loading on the feet from long-distance running, especially running downhill or on uneven surfaces", and "shoes with poor arch support or soft soles" .. Guilty on all counts.

I think the crazy terrain at TNF Oz gave me more of a souvenir than I bargained for .. especially after conditioned to the gentle undulations at MacRitchie! Plus I rarely wear shoes with more than minimal cushioning, and my stretching regimen does leave a lot to be desired .. it's all come round to bite me on the ass now! .. or should that be on the foot .. ;)

Anyhow. I've orders to do a daily mountain of stretches, I'm going to make friends with the exercise bike at the gym, and I have to wear arch supports all week, including inside the house, till my next physio date. I'm now the proud owner of a pair of Salomon Rx Break flip flops .. my new house slippers! According to Salomon, they're "a performance recovery shoe for trail running disguised as a light weight flip flop. RX Break helps your feet recover from the end of your run until you're chilling in the hammock." Just what the doctor ordered, then! now I just have to get a hammock ...

Salomon Rx Break .. great house slippers with arch support :)

All this enforced rest means I have time to twiddle my thumbs and read the latest issue of Trail Runner ..

A welcome distraction ...

To add insult to injury, my lovely new Inov-8s have arrived .. the X-Talon 190s. Aren't they gorgeous? Inov-8 shoes will be available in Singapore from about next week at Adventure 21, other retailers to be revealed soon. Some of models here will be the Flyroc and the Roclite in men's and women's sizing, perfect for TNF100 Singapore in October! I've had the Flyroc for a while now, and it's a great trail shoe, lightweight and very grippy. I'll post a review on the X-Talons once I'm back on the trail .. can't wait!

So hopefully this is just a bump in the road (trail!) to recovery and the UTMB. I'll post my report on TNF Oz and the Passion run in the next week or so. In the meantime, I'm stretching till my calves burn, hitting the gym, and planning my next long run .. whenever that may be!

Hope everyone stays injury free and all the best for the Sundown Marathon this weekend!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz!

The Three Sisters
Here I am again, surrounded by a mountain of kit, getting ready to fly to Sydney for the North Face 100km in the Blue Mountains this weekend. It's a 100km with 5500m ascent, the profile is hilly, with the trails becoming more and more technical and spectacular when we head up into the mountains. The course is framed on the West by Sydney and the Blue Mountains, which owe their name to the blue reflection caused by the volatile essences of the eucalyptus forest.  The biggest challenges will be the climate and the humidity, but maybe not so much for me! I'm guessing 16-17 hours will do for me, anything under 20 is fine. I don't really want to be out there that long, but I also don't want to bust a gut racing this given this is a 'training' race.

Follow live race updates on the Salomon Running facebook page as well as the Salomon Running Australia facebook page.

When I was last in the Blue Mountains, I loved the story of the Three Sisters, one of the main attractions in the Blue Mountains. The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.

These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry. The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle. As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to  return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come. The Three Sisters are 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively. Supermodel worthy! 
Steep stairs will be the order of the day!

I haven't read the course instructions enough to know if we encounter The Three Sisters enroute yet .. but I know that there will be a lot of climbing on this one! There's also a star-studded field, with Salomon runners  Kilian Jornet and Ryan Sandes at the start line on Saturday, together with defending champion Stu Gibson and last years GNW winners Andres Vize and Beth Cardelli ... that's a lot of dust I'm going to be eating!

Looking forward to catching up with friends from the GNW last year, the Aussie ultra-running community are lovely and it'll be good to see what everyone's been up to since November.

Right .. off to pack .. The weather report for this weekend is 18 deg. max and 9 deg. min ..yikes! That's one aspect I definitely haven't trained for! Think I might actually be wearing all my mandatory gear rather than carrying it! :)

In case anyone's interested .. last minute news from TNF100 Australia:

"There will be live results and a blog during the weekend of the The North Face 100. The link will be from The North Face 100 website -

There is also an iPhone application to allow you to keep track of any runner in the race. Just go to the ‘app store’ on your iphone or itunes on your computer. Search for ‘Sport Splits’ and download the free application. Then open the Sport Splits application and select the top right hand corner ‘+’ button to add an event. Then Choose The North Face 100 from the list of events. You can then search for any bib numbers in the race and view the times of that person through each checkpoint. The data is fed live from the live website so new times should come up within a few minutes of the runner crossing the timing mat at each checkpoint. You can add any bib numbers to your favourite runner list so you can continue to easily check for new data.

Twitter will be regularly updated with race information during the event by both event staff and an on-course runner. Follow AROCSport & AROCultra for all the updates. The twitter pages will be linked to from the live website."

My bib number is 782 ... See you on the other side! :) 

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Energizer Singapore Night Trail Run 2011

Free Wall's ice cream!
The inaugural Energizer Night Trail Run took place at Lorong Asrama last Saturday night. The organisers had a carnival of sorts going on from about 5pm, with a 1.6km obstacle race for families with children starting in the late afternoon. The 12km race flagged off at 8pm, and the 6km runners started at 8.30pm.

The organisers laid on free shuttle buses from Woodlands MRT, and the system seemed to run very efficiently. Upon arrival, some personal trainers from California Fitness were providing a free mosquito repellent spraying service in exchange for a 7-day pass to the gym. It looked like a reasonable turnout, with about a thousand runners doing the 12km, and six hundred or so doing the 6km. The course was well marked and marshalled, with mini reflective cat's eyes marking the entire course and route marshalls with torches and red backlights showing the way at regular intervals and crucial intersections. 

I ran the 12km race and we were taken round the army training grounds of Lorong Asrama, inevitably having to climb Hill 256  .. it wouldn't be right if we didn't! It was definitely more fun in the dark, with most of the runners wearing the mini Energizer headlamps that came in the goody bag. Perfect chance for me to test my new Petzl Tikka Plus .. the old one's finally given up the ghost! 

There was absolutely no question of getting lost, everything was well signposted and marshalled. The route marshalls were also careful not to shine their torches and blind the runners, and also lit the way for us with their torches as far as they could. The concern was that some runners would stumble on the steep, gravelled descents or hurt themselves at the many potholes, but that's all part of the fun, right? te only casualty I heard about was the male runner leading the 12km race. Apparently he'd gotten blinded just before the finish line and fell into a ditch or something along those lines. It was a sufficient detour for the guy in second place to cross the line first .. c'est la vie!

It was my second run of the day as part of the 14 miles I had scheduled, but I really enjoyed that run despite dragging my heels to get there earlier that evening. Finished in 4th place, got a picture with the Energizer Battery himself, and caught up with some of the other runners over a free Wall's ice-cream .. that was a nice treat and I'm sure all the other runners felt the same. All in all, a great night out and I'd definitely do it again .. maybe next year they'll add a longer course!

Mandatory cheesy picture with Mr Energizer .. he's got massive guns! :D
Results can be found here.
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