TRAQ Flinder’s Tour, Glasshouse Mountains 2014.

Another Sunday and another fun day out.

Off up Mt Beerburrum.

Off up Mt Beerburrum.

I was not going to do this race, I wanted to but had done the Gold Coast Marathon 3 weeks before the start and thought I was asking too much. Then a chance encounter with a fellow TRAQ tragic and well, I became enthused. I asked the support crew and yep, I was in! I entered via my iPhone at the local sushi restaurant, 4G is a marvellous thing.

So, a week out, I entered, 2 weeks post cold/flu Marathon failure and my Guru Mike had a back keeping him off the trails. Coach Hanny was away, in Bulgaria helping kids with bad hair and acne follow the map and run hard for Australia at the Junior World Orienteering Champs. I also had no Amaze Balls or Shots bars left, I thought I did but no. Hmmmm, no coach, no race food, no preparation and no idea re the course. Prequel for disaster??

Fortunately not. I managed to find out we climbed a mountain at the start, good to know, I scrounged some older gels together and looked at my shoe pile. This takes time, I have way too many. I decided to go minimal. Very minimal, Skora Cores, these have no midsole, are zero drop, have about 11mm of rubber/insole etc to protect you and a floppy upper made from well-bred goats. No lugs, No rock plate and no toe bumper. Should be fine. The Inov8 gimp vest was selected for its lack of space (other than for a  bladder, iPhone and some food), I even downloaded a playlist lasting 7 1/2 hours for the day. Joy Division, Morrissey and AC/DC. Sorted.

I knew Les and Gigi would not come up with me but we pretended they would until about 5am, once I was dressed and ready to go. I hoped they would come up later. A non-starting car in the garage might hinder them though?

Now the race, it was inspiring, the course, the atmosphere, the friendly fellow runners, all were terrific. We had to enjoy the day, a stark reminder, a sad reminder a terrible reminder of human frailty had all of us wiping tears from our eyes before the gun, as Ian gave an emotional speech commemorating the death of Roger Guard. His son, bravely added a few words and offered to run the first stage with us. Nobody was going to take this run for granted.

Poor balance.

Poor balance.

The run up Mt Beerburrum was truncated a bit and easier than I feared, we then went out over its Eastern shoulder in a loop of beautiful single track. It was dripping rain from the trees and the views were magnificent. An encounter with a slippy rock section made me cautious. I met a group of guys who kept me well entertained for another 10kms. Sil (from near Rockhampton) was with me too so, that made about 6 of us. It was great. Silvia grew up in Holland and it was a rough time for her with the MH17 disaster very raw and ugly.

Eventually, checkpoints, toilet stops and tiredness split us all up and it was over the gap between ‘The Twins’. A lucky deviation from the original plan, it was a great bit of track with some vertical, some technical and some almost me horizontal challenges. Then down to the Glasshouse staple forest trails. This time punctuated with muddy pools and tricky bridges. Soon enough 25km runners were coming the other way and we were treated to some humiliation as they sped towards us. For the first time ever Jodie Obourne was doing a shorter distance than me!

Plodding through the single track with Sil.

Plodding through the single track with Sil.

After the school and a weigh in, we did it all again. Sort of, just in different directions and with 30km in our legs. I had a goal, under 6 hours and ran to that. My last outing on these trails was a disaster and I wanted an attainable target. I managed this with a wee wobble towards the end. Maybe 4km of survival mode on the nice single track, that now felt steep and rough. The shoes were just fine, a few rocky spots gave me grief mind.

I crossed the line with 4 minutes to spare, feeling tired but good. Les and Gigi had made it to the finish and we enjoyed a burger before heading home.

This was a really nice day out, the run, the company, my family and the enjoyable course all came together. I found out you don’t need months of planning, just a desire to go and run. Some of us can’t because of injury, or worse, some of us have our lives taken away in an incomprehensible moment. If running slowly, long distances in beautiful bushland is your thing, well there is a lot to be thankful for that we can.

Thank you Ian and all the other TRAQ crew, the potatoes were excellent. I also think the ladies at the ‘Tuck-Shop’ were stars. Thank you Lesley and Gigi for coming to join me, I am truly blessed. Thank you to Bec Frendo for inspiring me to go and do what I enjoy so much! I can’t wait for my next chance to go run in the bush, slowly…..

The Gold Coast Marathon 2014 – Race Report.

I have never written about a road race. They are flat, we all know where they go, what is there to say?

Well, this is a BIG race, thousands show up, it is always won in a sub 2-10 time. Top Kenyans come to win it. It was the Australian Marathon Championship this year. IAAF also give it the top rating as a Gold event.

What does all this mean? It is huge, over 10 000 runners. It is flat, fast and cool. You run along the surf beach through the  iconic the Gold Coast, Main beach, Surfers, Boroadbeach and beyond. It has COLOSSAL crowds and people come from all over the world to compete.

For me this was an extra, an add-on, I did it because I could. An aim to raise money for a charity MND and Me put me on the start line. You know I run a lot, 100km being my last outing. I have run the 42.2 distance on road officially 4 times now. I have done it off-road and in training more than I dare say. This led me to forget/think I could do this easy. Stupid, stupid me.

Mike (my running guru) and I had a goal, beat George W Bush. 3 hrs 44.51. I reckoned I could do it. 6 weeks post The North Face 100 and with a week off, Coach Hanny gave me a 4 week program and a taper. She was up beat but admitted my prep was compromised, she likes 3 months to do this sort of thing. My trail running friends were still in recovery mode and I was doing sub 4 min interval work…….

All went pretty well, I did the quality sessions and my speed was picking up. I had not achieved so many Strava badges in ages. My total distance and time dropped a LOT. Soon a cool orange Motor Neurone Disease and Me singlet/cap/top arrived and donations were rolling in. I was excited.

Now the excuses start, I got sick, a cold, Lesley was also busy getting ready for a trip away. Work was flat-out. So no taper, no running for a week, just Codral Cold and Flu for 5 days and no sleep. We also forgot to book our hotel and ended up paying through the nose to be at Versace…small pain!

I am a dab hand at race day now. I sleep well and know what I feel like. I did turn up at South Bank a week late and had to go down the coast to get my number though……. My daughter and I had a great time at the race expo and I even got out of there without paying to park!

I like staying on the Spit, as you catch a boat to the start, its cold though. In the predawn gloom, Mike and I sat in a whale boat en route to a monster start with 15 000 others.

The plan was simple enough, start slow, stay slow then see. 5-15/km max. It was the same as last year. We always stuff this up. We should go much slower.. Anyway, Mike’s back was crook and I still sniffled, snuffed and coughed.

For starters we were fine, down the beach , along Hedges and to the turn around. Many many people cheered me on in the MND and Me colours. The elites coming the other way were frightening. Some looked near death, some were flying at a pace I can only go for 400m. Some had already pulled out. I did not see Solly Litchfield or Jodie Obourne, two female runners I follow but it is a big race!

Around half way Mike and I split up he dropped back a wee bit and I did not know, its easy in a crowd. With no one to cool my stupid head I pushed on for 10 km. This led me to the 30K mark and here I fall apart. As usual. This is not trail running, its relentless, steady and fast. I was ready for the falling ability though, expecting it! I slowed in order to avoid stopping, 5-15 to 6min kms and dragged myself through to the end.

MND and me supporters all along the way cheered and gave me a huge lift. I kept trying to remember who I was running for, people who can’t anymore! No chance of pulling out. I got to the end, walking a few drink stops and the low bridges got me to the finish.

The time was crap, 3-55.19 faster than last year but 10 minutes too slow. I have reasons but no excuses. It’s no good now complaining about a little cold! Road marathons are hard. Relentless speed is needed but they are over soon enough. Longer races make the sub 4 hour duration easier to digest but you can’t avoid the speed you have to keep up.

 

I ran in Mizuno Wave Universe 5’s, I used the 4’s in last years race. These are super light, 80 grams!!!! The lightest shoe in the world, I train in Skora but race in these, they are so light, thin and flexible but have a bit of cushion. It’s nice to have a race day shoe. 5km is the distance Mizuno suggest a person use them for…….hotel slippers offer a similar feel.

As per my cycling preference, a neck kerchief was in use, Runyon from the US now for me. Rapha silk is nice but after 10 years, I tried a new one!

We might have a go next year, though a desire to run the Grand Lavaredo in Italy come June 2015 could scupper that. Its 120km and way over 5k of vertical reaching 2700m plus I think I know what I prefer now.

 

 

Skora Form- A Review.

It is obvious I love this shoe.

Why, is a good topic and also what I would want to improve in my favourite shoe?

IMG_3528

In limited edition blue CAMO.

I first saw this shoe online at the beginning of my minimalist adventure. It fit the bill, zero drop, low stack height and with a focus on natural running. What I noticed most was the look. How cool could it be? Goat leather and sheep lining, hello! I was a keen cyclist still at the time and Rapha make gloves from the same material, I knew it was good.

I read a few reviews and it was obviously a premium product from a fledgling company. Even better. The cost was steep for running shoes but nothing on anything in the cycling world and I am not easily put off by cost.

The order was placed.

Of the three Forms I have bought since, none have disappointed me.

I love the supple leather, the design and the very natural feel they give. You are essentially running with no gizmos and the shoe is just protecting your feet from abrasions and a little impact.

This is not an insult, but it’s like running in Dunlop Volleys, except they are flexible, fit and wont give you blisters.

Who else has sheep skin lining??? Huh???

Who else has sheep skin lining??? Huh???

The tongue and lacing is very cool, off to the side and one of those design features that ‘disappear’. A good thing.

The sole rubber is  long wearing and even a person like me gets at least 400km before I start to think about a worry, they can be worn some more, 400km more! Some others get 1000+ km a pair. I have a nasty habit of scuffing the lateral aspect of all my shoes.

Sole matters.

Sole matters.

There is a round heel just like your foot, sensible.

Round heel and adjusting straps.

Round heel and adjusting straps.

You can use them for anything, road, grass, trails (only  very rough trails will be too much as there is no rock plate) the 13mm stack earns big all rounder points.

So the cons? Skora have a long lace fetish, it is in every review, they are always too long. Way too long. This is made up for in part by the neat logo on the ends, a nice touch but please, make them shorter!!!!

A nice detail touch.

A nice detail touch.

There is a tab at the heel to adjust the fit at the rear? I don’t know, it is sort of useful making the shoe 1/4 of a size in each direction but it could either be more effective or deleted.

The sole was not very well glued in earlier models. The toe can peel off. I have glued one toe cap back on. Easy and I think it’s my trail running that does this. It is brutal on all shoes and at the time I was in New Caledonia running of VERY rough stuff.

I think the rear heel area is over done, too much material and could safely  be pared back.

While leather is snug, long lasting and pretty, it is not mesh. So, as a Queenslander who does some sandal running too, these are my hottest shoes.

Small niggles for such a stylish, sensible, multi purpose shoe. They even look cool enough for casual wear, bugger that, Form-al wear!

I will keep buying these suckers, I love them. You could do much much worse than owning a couple of pairs of Forms and nothing else.

Do your self a favour, check out Skora’s web page.

If people think minimal running is crazy- the Reebok ATV is completamente locos!

The Reebok ATV has an aesthetic only a mother could love. A blind deep-sea mother, maybe that lady from The Little Mermaid? These suckers are sure to not sell well but will still move more units that Skora and Luna combined. It is a crazy crazy world!!!!

The ugliest shoe ever??? The least sensible??? I don't know.

The ugliest shoe ever???
The least sensible???
I don’t know.

Mother????

Mother????

Reebok make excuses for this abomination that is straight from the Springfield nuclear waste dump at  Reebok web site – enter at own risk.  you be the judge.

Know any other shoe monstrosities?

If you would like to take part in research that might prove this sort of footwear is good or bad, follow the link. I did. Hope I don’t get randomised into Hoka’s!!!  🙂 University of Newcastle Running Shoe Safety and Performance Testing Program