Robert Song's Running

I'm over 50 and been running off and on since 1968. I have run everything from 800m to 10k on the track, to half marathons (PB 1:21 Brisbane 1993) and marathons (PB 2:53 Gold Coast 1985).

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Gold Coast Marathon Week end

Back from a great three day weekend on the Gold Coast.  So many highlights.

I ran the Half in 89:15. This year my goal was no running goals, so I had not targeted this as a race and so only eased up slightly last week in my training. Even ran to work on Friday which was 14.5k . Still I thought I was certainly in the sort of shape to run around 91 minutes. I am a bit astounded to have gotten 45 seconds under 90 minutes.

But what really made the weekend memorable was being part of so many other's runs. These are people I have shared training runs, coffee and Saturday breakfast with for the last seven months and it was so satisfying being part of their races and celbrating together over the weekend. And boy some of them celebrate as hard as they run.

I think this picture put together by Claire says it all.

Enjoy your running, enjoy your life.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Softly Softly Catch Monkey

Well I'm back.

In my last blog post three months ago, I was at the end of my tether about being able to get back to any serious running.  Today I ran 41:40 for a 10k at the Brisbane Road Runners. A quite respectable time considering I did 20k yesterday and 108k for the week and on the back of 111k and 102k the previous weeks. So I guess you could say that is a turn around.

So what happened?  Good question. I did stop taking two of  my daily medications. One in particular I don't think was doing me any good at all.  Most of all I just abandoned any thoughts of  racing and went into base building mode. Just lots of easy runs and just slowily building up the distances.

I am really enjoying be part of the Running Buddies Group who I run with every Wednesday and Saturday mornings. . With them I have run my first classic Brisbane River Loop (34k), a Gateway Bridge Loop (35k) and even run over the Green Bridge on a training run.  I am still waiting for my first Mt Cootha loop.

In April, I made the trip down to Canberra for the Half Marathon. I managed 1:35:20 on a cold and rainy day and had an epic last 6k chasing down Tesso and pipped her just meters from the finish. But it was nice to catch up and socialize with people and especially with my music soul mate Johnny Dark.

Over Easter, I had a glorious six days of music at the Byron Bay Bluesfest. Too much over-exuberant dancing left me sore and sorry in a host of areas that you don't use running and by the end the relentless good times and camping out left me run down and I picked up a cold which kept me from running for ten days. But it was all worth it.

In May, I also participated for the first time in the Warwick Pentath-run. That was a great week-end spent with a great bunch of people. It seems very daunting on paper, 42.2k covered in five events over two days.  I didn't really know how my body would recover after such a short turn around between events but much to my suprise I came out of it not too shattered.

So my race results were:
Half Marathon          1:36:54  (3rd M55-59)
4.6 k Cross Country   20:09 (3rd M55-59)
5k  Road Race           20:45  (1st M55-59)
10k Hill Ascent 51:31 (1st M55-59)
1500m Dash       5:34  (2nd M55-59)
Total Time 3:14:57

It is now two weeks till the Gold Coast and I have entered the Half Marathon. With a few faster sessions over the next fortnight, it will be interesting to see what I can do. After that I will make a decision on whether I will run a marathon this year. The opions are either Bisbane in August or Sydney in September or wait till next year. Then there is Kurrawa in December where The Old Fogies will rule when Tesso and I take on all the junior upstarts in the 50k relay.

I feel I have turned the corner but I still don't want to get too far ahead of myself.

Softly soffry catch monkey.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I've Lost Control

A recent comment on Dave Sweeney's Running Master blog from Scott Brown has prompted me to do an update for this blog.

The video below just about sums it up - I've lost control of my running.   I can no longer predict exactly how I will run on any particular day. For example last Sunday, I set out to do an easy 10k run at BRRC and ran 51:40 (5:10 pace) which should be a doddle but by the finish my Heart Rate was at 178 which is about 97 % of my max HR. On a training run on the Wednesday before that I actually reached my Max HR of 184 while running at 5:00 pace.

Now before you get too worried last month I had a stress echo test on my heart and all was reported as good. The heart of a race horse in fact was the subjective result my doctor gave me. The doctors as of yet have no explanation as to why this is happening.

On the other side, I ran 13k yesterday ( including the large hill up to the Storey Bridge which I now have to include as the Floating walkway got washed away in the recent floods) at 4:53 pace and at an avg HR of 150. This is the best run I have had in ages but is sadly the exception rather than the  rule.

But the general trend in the last six months is one step forward three steps back and with no discernible change in that pattern.

After coming back strongly last year and getting to 1:34 Half marathon fitness in only six months since the chemo stopped I expected that in another six months I would be able to get close to getting back to where I was in 2009 but that has not panned out.

So I am just trying to enjoy my running.  I am doing around 80k a week. I have started doing runs with the Brisbane Running Buddies on Wednesdays and Saturdays to make running a more social activity.

No goals , no expectations and no motivation to blog on such circumstances I'm afraid. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cactus Flowers

BRRC 5k Champs 21:05 (2nd in M55-59)

I know it has been too long since I made a post to this blog. But the running has been very disappointing since my last entry and I have just not had the mojo to report on such going ons. I have been doing 40 -50 k a week but in terms of my RS Index (avg pace x avg heart rate) it has been a steady decline. Now this is quite disturbing. In the six years that I have been collecting my Heart Rate data I have never had a period when I have trained consistently and for that Index to show a steady decline. Basically since September my Heart Rate is around 15 beats/sec higher on a run than what I would expect and is steadily getting higher. This has been a major worry for me as it has been coupled with poor sleep and intestinal discomfort. My doctor is investigating varies theories. My recent CT scan showed no indications that my lymphoma has come back, so that is a relief but still the doctors have no real answer for what is going on.

On top of this I have had a right hamstring niggle that has stayed at about 95% recovered for the last month. As long as I didn't try to push past 4:45 pace it wouldn't trouble me on a run but I would feel it a little when I cooled down. In the last week this seems to have been better and after the run this morning I would say I am at 99% with that.
This mornings 5k was the first time in a couple of months I have pushed it at all and I was quite surprised to be able to run 21:05. I can certainly verify that I pushed it to my limit as I hit my  Max Hr of 187 in the last K. The most important thing though was that I was able to achieve my goal that I set at the start of the year to run all seven BRRC Championship events in 2010.  When I set that I had no idea if I would be able to achieve it and in reality I should be very thankful that I was able to do it.

In just over a weeks time I am having an operation to remove a skin cancer from my nose. I am not supposed to exercise for a week after this so will be having a short break from running. After that I will have to have a long think about what my next goals will be for 2011.

In the last few weeks one of my cacti has been flowering profusely. I have had this cactus for almost thirty years and I can't remember the last time it flowered.  It gives me hope that when all seems barren and prickly that there is always hope that something beautiful is capable of emerging.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Still here ...

Well it has been two months since my last post to this blog  after a pleasing run in the BRRC 10 mile championships in August.  I set my sights on a 10k and a 5k BRRC race in November. I had an easy week after the 10 miler to recover and then started to build the Ks up over the next few weeks with 73 & 80 k weeks at an easy pace. Only problem was that by all my indicators, I was struggling on these runs. The heart rate was much higher than expected for the times I was recording. As well a slight niggle had appeared in my right hamstring. Just in case I was suffering from a bit of overtraining, I had three days off to freshen up with the added bonus that it should help the hammie as well.

On the first run back, the hammie felt worse than before and the run was crap as well. I was also starting to just generally feel off and was not sleeping well. Over the next three weeks I only managed to get out for a run twice as I continued to feel poorly. I then picked up a gastro virus that laid me out completily for two days. With all this time off from running, I would have thought that it would have been enough rest to allow the hammie to heal but that didn't seem to be the case and it was still troubling me even just walking around. It seemed such a minor issue to start with but once I realised it was going to be a chronic problem I have taken it more seriously and have been doing lots of strengthening and stretching exercises to get it better.

I also realised I would have to go back to square one in terms of training, and started doing only short slow 6k runs. So for the last two weeks I have only gone as fast as I can without feeling any pain and things have slowily improved from doing 6k at 5:25 pace to yesterday's run where I managed 15k in 4:46 pace at the BRRC 15k Championships. Still my heart rate continues to be way too high for the effort I am putting in.

I have abandoned any thoughts of racing for the forseeable future and just need to get some base fitness back and start feeling generally better. Possibly where I got to in July and August in terms of fitness may be as good as it will ever get for me. Time will tell.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

BRRC 10 Mile Champs

It was the 10 mile champs at the Road Runners Club this morning. A nice chill in the air made for perfect running conditions. In the last three weeks since the Marathon, I have made sure that I haven't pushed it and have allowed my body to recover fully.  So I guess I was fresh for this one and I ran a pleasing race with a time of 70:19 (4:22 pace) and a 2nd in my Age Category.  Splits for the three 5k laps were 21:56, 21:40, 21:57.

Although the highlight of the morning was the surprise World Cup gifts from the wonderful Clairie which I found very touching. I will certainly treasure them more than the bling.

Since the marathon I have had another of my quarterly CT scans and once again have been given the all clear . So I can now set some goals for the next three months.

The plan is to train towards two races at the BRRC in November. A 10k race on the 14th November and a 5k on the 28th November. So that gives me 12 weeks before the first race to work on my speed. I am looking forward to it after the last eight month of base building.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Brisbane Marathon

Brisbane Marathon 3:32:15 (Official Chip Time).

I guess most readers of this blog would know of my circumstances leading up to this race. The 2009 Brisbane Marathon was my target race for the year and after a 1:26 Half at the Gold Coast in July, I was feeling confident of being able to do a 3:05 and maybe a little better if all went my way on the day. On the 6th August 2009, I was diagnosed with DLBCL (Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma) which meant I was unable to compete in that race. Abdominal surgery for a biopsy, twelve weeks of intense chemotherapy and a stem cell harvest over the next six months left my body a shadow of itself.

But I made a vow even before my chemo started that if it was in anyway possible that I would do another marathon. I guess at that stage I was still feeling very disappointed that I had not been able to cash in on all the fitness I had banked that year. But that goal certainly helped me over the ensuing months as each round of chemo compounded the effect it had on my body. It may have been successfully killing all the cancer cells but there was a lot of collateral damage occurring at the same time.

With the odds of the first round of my treatment being successful being only around 40%, I also knew that I possibly could only have a small window of opportunity in which to achieve my marathon goal. I am usually fairly conservative in my approach to training but in this campaign I have really pushed myself. In  the early months, when I had a low red blood cell count and all my mitochondria had been destroyed by the toxic sludge that was my "cure", every run no matter how slow I went was a challenge.

But it slowly got easier and I just kept building up the miles til I got to the point where I found myself at the starting line this morning. I had been wrestling over various strategies for today's race. I was convinced my legs would give out towards the end. I just had not done enough 30K plus to give me the confidence that anything other than that would be the case.  I thought I could comfortably run 32k at 5:00 pace. I even thought it could be possible to do 4:50 pace up til then as well but would that just make the last 10k even worse. In the end, I thought I should pay the marathon distance due respect and take the conservative approach and look at doing 5:00 pace for as long as I could. With a small fade 3:35 should be achievable and if things got really ugly then 3:40 could still be possible.

Toasty was doing the 3:30 pacing and just before the start he suggested I join his bus. Whilst it may have been tempting to go with him I stuck with just a little slower than that. The first K was in fact a lot slower than that and at 5:21 it was a nice gentle start.  The next few Ks were hard to judge the pace as we went over the Goodwill Bridge and through some undulating paths in the Gardens and back over the Good Will Bridge. But once on the flat south side of the river I was able to get into a groove and started knocking out a steady pace just under 5:00 pace. And I just locked into that.

It wasn't until the 37th kilometer that it started to get tough enough to slow me down. Through Southbank and all along Riverside Drive I had been expecting a bear to drop down on to my back from the overhanging trees but in the end it was a bit of a headwind, an increasing temperature and the hill up to the Boat club at Orliegh Park that forced me to put in a 5:14 K. But turning round and going back downhill with the breeze behind me allowed me to get back on pace for a few k.  But by 40k I was starting to feel the tiredness in my legs but still only slowed to 5:11 pace for those final Ks.

I am really really pleased with how I ran this race. Even though there was no Half way marker (that I saw) I estimate from my splits that I came very close to doing even splits for this race. Got to be happy with that.

Here are my 5k splits
 5k  25:29

10k 24:51
15k 25:04
20k 25:05
25k 24:58
30k 24:52
35k 24:58
40k 25:31
42.2k 11:26

And of course I am ecstatic about just doing it. And that is a huge understatement.

This was the first time I have run a marathon in Brisbane. It was kind of odd sleeping in your own bed the night before and getting ready at home on the morning. I found the course to be excellent. The race was really well organised. The officials, marshalls and water stations were all fantastic. It deserves more people in the Marathon.

I have my next three month scan on Friday. I wonder what my doctor will say? He thinks joggers (his term) are crazy.

Shine on all us crazy diamonds.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Recovery Week

All easy running last week to recover from the Half Marathon.  Still by Sunday I felt up to 25k. That made a total 76k for the week which is not bad for a recovery week.

Entry is in for the Brisbane Marathon on 1st August which is just three weeks away. So in the next two weeks I will be trying to up the mileage again including a couple of runs over 30k. And then a one week taper.

With the World Cup now over, it will be nice to get back to a normal sleeping / training pattern. That is unless I get sucked into watching to much Tour De France.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Gold Coast Half Marathon

Woke up at 3:30 am and drove down to the Coast for the 6:00am race start which started in beautiful still cool conditions just as the sun was rising. My strategy was to set out at 4:45 pace for the first 10k and then do the last half at whatever I felt comfortable. I would have been happy with any time under 1:40.

With the dim light and the crowded field and not wearing my glasses made reading my watch difficult in the early Ks , so wasn't exactly sure what pace I was doing but it felt comfortable. Went through 5k in 23:05 which was faster than I planned but it was feeling so easy, I decided to just keep going at that pace. Made 10k in 45:47 and shortly after that the turn around and the run home.  I still felt comfortable and was confident I could step up the pace a little. The next 5k was 22:27. I was starting to breathe a bit harder now but I still knew I had something in reserve. So I kept gradually winding it up with a 21:37 for the 5k to 20k and then continued on at that pace to the finish.

So in the end a net time of 1:34:33 (4:29 pace). Good enough to get 15th in my category and way surpass any time I considered achievable today. Strangely, it was not as tough as either of the two other halfs I have done this year. To think it was only just over 4 months ago I did 2:08:32 at the BRRC Half Championships and today I am only 8 minutes away from my time from last year's GC Half.

Time: 1:34:33 
( Splits 48:05 ; 46:28)
5k   23:05
10k  22:42
15k  22:27
20k  21:37

My only regret from the day was having to get back to Brisbane and not catching up with everyone at the Southport SLSC in the afternoon.  There is always next year and I am hopeful that by then I can be back to near my best.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Zombie Run

It has been a tough week.  You know how you feel when you get to half way in a marathon and there is that  good feeling about how far you have come but then a short while later you realize you have just as far still to go.  Now imagine that at half way it was compulsory to increase your pace by a third!!! That is what it has been like this week. After two weeks of three games a day in the World Cup, it reaches game 33 of 64 games and the last round of Group matches and the schedule is upped to four games a night and I am turned into a walking zombie.

So this has been a bit of a quieter week training wise. Only 46k.

This did include a 10k this morning at the BRRC which I completed in 44:05.6. My split times for the two laps were 22:02.8, 22:02.8. Exactly the same down to the tenth of a second. How amazing is that. I am pleased with that time but it was tough but is just the sort of hit out I needed before the Half next weekend. Three months ago on the 28th March at the BRRC 10k champs I did 48:35, so a 4:30 improvement in three months and all off just pure base building and no speed or tempo training at all.

By September/October with some decent faster training I might just be approaching some decent times again.

In the meantime I have to survive the World Cup and work for the next two weeks :-(

Monday, June 21, 2010

Triple treat

Well my third 100 K week in a row. This one was quite different from the last two. I am on leave so have been running from home and because of the hilly nature around my way, any run is more of a challenge than my normal flat as a pancake runs by the river.  It also was more difficult juggling a time for my long run. The Australia - Ghana match was on at midnight Saturday night, so I didn't fancy getting up early Sunday morning for that, so settled on running on Saturday afternoon but had to start at 2:30pm in order to get the 31.5k in before it got dark. I think it has been a good achievement to be able to keep up the training and to see every World Cup game so far. But boy am I getting tired. Will have to be careful not to get run down.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two in a row

Basically the same week of training as last week gives me two 100 K weeks in a row.

My runs through the week showed show improvement despite my feet swelling up again for a few days. My long run on Sunday was an almost an identical time to last week which was slightly disappointing.  Whilst I will enter a few races this year I am not really targeting any in particular as I really just need to build up the endurance base before I can get serious about a top performance.  Still I am tossing up whether to do a few weeks with some speed work prior to the Gold Coast Half or just continue with the base building which will be of more benefit to me getting through the Brisbane Marathon on 1st August without too much of a struggle. The beauty of my situation at the moment is in the end it really matters little which way I go.

I am now on two weeks annual leave and will be watching all the World Cup games I can in that time.

Scott, I am impressed with your memory. I did in fact turn my ankle on a giant seed pod about this time of year in 2008 and I did go on to run 3:12 at GCM that year.  This year though something around 3:40- 3:45 will be closer to what I will be capable of.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Ton

After rolling my ankle last week, I had three days off to let it recover. On Monday, I went for 9.5k to test it out and it seemed OK whilst running but still a little sore when I cooled down.

On Tuesday, I went for 13k and again it behaved itself but I was still a little wary when doing a turn on that side. This was the last day for entry to the Doomben Half without a late fee and I looked at this year's course and saw the number of 180 degree turns and thought that doesn't look ideal for a dodgy ankle. I also discovered that what I thought had been the last day had suddenly changed to being no longer applicable, so I made the decision to pull the pin on the event and just concentrate on steady base building for the rest of the week.

For the rest of the week I ran  Wed 14.5k,  Thur 13k , Fri 18.8k and this morning 31.5k. After such a tentative start to the week, I have managed to post just over the 100k for the week, something I haven't done since December 2008.

If I don't want the marathon on 1st August to be too much of a struggle, I am going to have to put in quite a few more 30+ runs over the next 8 weeks.

Monday, May 31, 2010

One Step at a Time

Well I have been trying to get back into a training rhythm after the distractions of the last few months but it just has not been possible.

I thought I had seen enough of hospitals last month but two weeks ago found myself once again in emergency with Kewell. He had come out with a temperature, a rash and aching joints. The GP sent us to the hospital for tests but no conclusive diagnosis although ruling out the nasties such as meningitis. Anyway it appears to be some sort of post-viral arthritis and the boy has not been well. The arthritis in his ankles, wrists, hips and shoulders really crippled him for a week.

On Thursday night last week, I was out to do a long run  (30k) which meant extending my run over the Goodwill Bridge and upriver through Southbank. As I was making my way down to the path by the river I completely missed a step and landed heavily on my right foot and rolled my ankle. Ouch!  It was pretty sore, so I turned back and rather gingerly did the 10k back to my work.  So I have had to give that a rest for a few days.

But I seem to have been able to do 10k tonight without any pain during or after the run. Now I just need to decide whether I will enter the Doomben Half on Sunday.

Still managed to clock up 281 ks for May. I know it is not in Scott Brown territory but from where I am coming from it is fine for me.