3 GOLD, 3 PBs… in the pool!

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Today was the first time i swam State in almost 15 years. After jumping in the pool almost 3 months ago, never would i have expected to be swimming pb’s. I swam a pb in the 100m freestyle and swam well under the 1:10 goal, followed by breaking the 35 second barrier in the 50m backstroke and also swam the 200m back stroke for the first time. The toughest race of the day definitely was the 200m backstroke, particularly in the last 50m where my shoulders and arms were both tiring. Similar to running it was mind over body and i finished cracking the 3 minute barrier which gave me some confidence with some of the longer form races.
The overall competition was ran so well and everyone at Ryde MSC was so supportive along with all the other swimming clubs which gave a great community feel to the carnival.

I will be focusing now on nationals which will be next year in 2017 and may even try some open water swimming before i start Triathlons.

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CROSS-TRAINING BACK THE CLOCK.

CROSS-TRAINING BACK THE CLOCK.

 

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“It’s good to be back” are the word which summarise the last two months of training. In August i decided to join the Ryde Aussie Masters Swimming club to help with my breathing for running and so far it’s been the best decision i have made. Back in primary school and the early high school days i use to be an elite junior swimmer training 6 sessions a week with the Ryde Swimming Club. As my running developed from a junior into my teenage years the demand for sessions substantially increased,  so the swimming slowly faded away as it was almost impossible to do both and pretty hard on my parents to be driving back and fourth.
I started swimming when i was 3 year old in order to help my asthma and it definitely fixed it. Almost 15 years on, i have decided to get back into the swimming because i’ve realised how important the swimming is to my overall endurance as a distance runner. I was a little nervous getting back into the pool after such a long time bur it’s amazing how much form technique is still with you when you start swimming again.

Since joining RAMS i have competed in 2 club carnivals and looking at competing in state age next month and maybe national age next year. The main thing is though is that it has been the squad swimming which has really helped with my overall endurance with the running.
Since having my heatstroke 2 years ago i have had to pay close attention to my breathing and heart rate. I feel as if i have more stamina and i can breathe in deep into my lungs which i couldn’t do before previously to the swimming squad training. At this point of time i am only able to fit in 2 sessions of swimming max a week with my running along with my full time teaching job and coaching but i feel as if it’s already made a difference.
The real test was on Sunday’s trail 20k and the results definitely proved the swimming has helped. Last year i ran around 1:28 for the 20k and this year i ran 1:21 which i was really happy with. There is definitely more room for improvement but after 2 months off earlier this year with patella tendonitis i have been very happy with my progress and training with the Run Crew. I also finished in 3rd place which put the icing on the cake.

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My aim at this stage, is to try and be as consistent as i can with my training and keep up the swimming as i believe i will keep getting stronger and stronger. The squad training i do consists of reps of 50’s, 100’s and 200’s all with short recoveries. Some of the swimming sessions i have found just as difficult as my running sessions. Being a runner, i am not using my arms as say a sprinter would, so my shoulders get pretty sore. My swimming coach Greg Lewin is trying his best to correct my freestyle technique and it’s definitely paying off taking 2 seconds off my personal best over the last two carnivals in the 100m freestyle. Iv’e realised how much technique helps with the freestyle.
My focus is definitely still with the running but it’s nice to be back in the pool and making waves again. I have been asked whether or not i’ll compete in a triathlon and i may but need to get some more experience with the cycling and open water swimming which is something i’ll try in the Summer.
My aim is to compete in a few track meets, maybe do a bit of travel at the end of this year to compete in an international trail race and big goal is to do the UTA22K. With the swimming i have dreams of competing in the FINA Masters cup but we shall see. It has been super important that i stay extra organised with my teaching as teaching takes up alot of time externally whether it’s through lesson planning, designing resources or even doing external education courses. At the moment i am coping and staying very focused.

A big thankyou to my sponsors Chief Bar, Skins Australia, TomTom Global and to my coaches Gary Howard, Benny Saint Lawrence and Greg Lewin.

 

FUJI TOCHO: JOURNEY TO THE PEAK OF FUJISAN!

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On the 13th of July one of my dreams came true and that was to climb to the top of Fujisan.

Mount Fuji, located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain peak in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08,Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometres (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers.

On the morning of the climb, i caught the tour bus with my Teacher friend Yuji from Shinjuku station. My Japanese running friend Takanori was suppose to come with me on the tour but a mistake was made with the company name so he unfortunately ended on a different tour. Thankfully this wasn’t the last time i would see him! Instead I was joined by an American whose name was Sebastian.

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The bus trip from Shinjuku station to Mt Fuji is roughly 2 hours and the tour costs around 20,000 Yen ($200.00 AU).
When we arrived at the 5th station of Mt Fuji which was 2,305 m above sea level, we met up with our group leader and we started our descent to the top of Fuji. We weren’t allowed to walk in front of our leader as he set the appropriate pace. This was to be a good thing as i found out later as i climbed towards the 8th station. On the walk from the 5th station to the 6th station the weather was quite warm and would have been around 25 degrees C.
The walk between the 5th and 6th station was pretty easy as you got to follow a pretty stable path. The air wasn’t too cold which was good. As we reached the 7th station that was when the air began to become a little bit thinner. I also noticed we were making our way above the clouds. At this point i knew that we were getting pretty high and close to 3000m.
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From the 7th to the 8th station we were advised by our guide to pull out our gloves, parker and poles as the clouds began rolling in and the wind started picking up. At first i didn’t feel how the cold the weather was but as we began physically climbing to the 8th station the temperature was dropping particularly as we climbed out way to 3000m. It was very important at this stage to ensure I was well hydrated as the air became thin and harder to breathe. Fujisan was very deceiving. You would look up and think you were almost there but the climbing path just kept going and going.. and going.

As we approached a little over 3000m i felt like every step i was taking was becoming slower and slower and i started to feel a little weak in the knees. I was looking forward to having a rest at the 8th station. The rest was crucial as this allowed your body to acclimatise to the altitude.
As we made our way to the 8th station we were excited for a good feed. When we arrived it was a great feeling as the weather did start to turn. At the 8th station there were huts where you could eat and sleep. As soon as we arrived we put out bags in the sleeping area, took off our shoes and had a nice communal dinner in which Japanese curry was served. Thus curry was super tasty and was so nice to eat after a long day of walking and climbing.
Soon after dinner we were advised by our group leader to get some important rest which would be from 6pm – 12am.

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As i prepared for bed i did notice that i was starting to get a migraine and feel nautious. I unfortunately didnt sleep for those 6 hours due to a little bit of altitude sickness. There was a lovely Japanese lady who was sleeping a couple of beds down and she gave me some nurofen and a cold pack for my head. This was the biggest life saver! Despite not sleeping, my headache started to go down. I noticed that if  i took nice big breaths and shut my eyes, this would help with the migraine and nauseousness.

At 12am we had our group leader yelling at us to get up as we had to make our voyage to the top as the weather at that point was ok. We had to whack on a headlamp and use this headlamp for the next 3 hours until we reached the top of Fujisan. This part was the hardest but the good thing was that my migraine and nauseousness had disappeared   and i felt much better standing up. The wind was heavy along with the fog and there was even some rain. There were some parts where there was some physical climbing which was challenging particularly at night. Mostly everyone in the group was ok other than my friend Yuji who had to have a few inhales of the Fuji Oxygen spray. There was also alot of silence along the way. No one really had the energy to talk until we arrived at the very top.

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As we got towards the peak the trail got quite technical and involved some climbing and the temperature started to drop significantly. All you can see getting closer and closer to the peak are a trail of head lamps. The most noticeable icon is a torri gate at the peak of Mt Fuji which has 2 lions sitting either side of the gate. Walking through the tori gate there was a feeling of jubilation and success knowing that you climbed 3776m. I had no idea what to expect at the top and i found it interesting that there are a series of shelters for all the different climbing tours which offer hot food and drinks. It was freezing cold, windy and raining so the shelter was an excellent option. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the famous rising sun due to the fog and rain but the feeling of reaching the top was just as rewarding. We didn’t get to do our walk around the crater as the winds were heavy and it was too dangerous at the time so next time i climb Fuji that is definitely something i want to do. The group only stayed at the top for about an hour and a half due to the conditions and then we swiftly made our way down a different trail to the trail we climbed up. The trail was much easier however the surface was much more volcanic and rocky.
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As we made our way back down to the 8th station the sun appeared in the clouds and the views were spectacular. The way i perceived the landscape was similar to that of a Japanese watercolour painting. The peaks of mountains appearing through the misty clouds looking like organic brush strokes. The views were breathtaking and this will stick with me forever. I took some amazing pictures with my TomTom Bandit which highlighted how amazing these views actually were. The surface of Fuji on the way down almost reminded me of Mars as the rocks were a vibrant red which contrasted with the blue sky and the green forests surrounding Fuji. The rocks were very unstable and almost everyone in the group had a fall. In the end it took me and my friends Sebastian, Yuji and I almost 4 hours to get back down. The air got thicker and our bodies felt more alive as we reached the bottom.
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Climbing Mt Fuji was one of the most memorable experiences in my 30 years and i would love to go back and see the sunrise and walk the crater. Similarly to how i feel after i complete a race, reaching the top of Fuji and knowing a goal was ticked gave me a great sense of pride and achievement. I’m also so happy i got to climb Japans highest mountain and climb a mountain which culturally has so much significance to not only Japan but my mums Japanese culture.
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I dedicate this walk to my pop who taught me to always believe in myself and to face challenges head on with confidence regardless of the outcome.

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Journey to the unknown: The Gold Coast Half.

 

 

GCDD0128-cp20x30-H7838On Sunday the 4th of July, i had the opportunity to compete in the Gold Coast Half Marathon. This has been an event i have been training for all year so i was determined to run a good time. Little did i know how a small cut on the foot could lead to a very disrupted month of training in the lead up to the race.

About a month leading up to the race i was on a trail run and cut the bottom of my foot on a trail run due to a stone being in my shoe. I thought nothing of it and whacked a bandaid on it. As a Teacher i am on my feet all day and i noticed the pain got considerably worse towards the end of the week. by Friday the pain was quite sharp and it was of a concern. The day after i had the N.S.W short course x-country relays and i was put on the team. Checking my foot, i couldn’t see any real damage or irritation so i thought perhaps it was just the hard sole shoes i was wearing. The following morning, the foot was aching but tolerable to walk on. As the day progressed the foot got worse and worse however i was still determined to work through this pain and run for UTS Norths and hit out the relay as it was only a 4 x 4k relay.
I got to the race and warmed up and the foot was still sore. When i put on my spikes, the lack of padding really aggravated the pain.  I took off for my leg of the relay and it was one of the most painful 4k’s i have ever run. As soon as the race finished i took off my spikes and my left foot was so swollen and very painful to touch. That night i had a dr come and have a look at it and he said i had an infection in my foot and gave me some antibiotics. This antibiotics seem to settle the pain but not get rid of it completely. Being on my feet did not help either.
I had 2 weeks off running and the pain still persisted. I ended up seeing the dr again who then decided at that point to take a swab. The results returned and it was established that i had a Staph Infection in my left foot. The Dr lanced the foot and drained the fluid and after that, the pain in my foot was thankfully gone. It was such a relief as it was very painful.

A couple of days later i got back into the running and decided to go for a run. I did so at jog pace and managed to get about a 45 minute jog out. I did the same on Sunday, however towards the end of the run my knee started to feel sore. Little did i know that this was the early staged of Patella Tendonothopy. This too was painful and felt very jarring to my left knee, which was the same size as the foot i had the staph infection on.
I booked to see the Physio right away (Sportslab Drummoyne) and Dave the physio said due to the fact i had rested for 2 weeks, then got back into the jog the tendon had flared up causing tendonitis. 2 weeks out from the Gold Coast Half, this was very the worst news however Dave assured me that if i followed the isometric knee exercises and drank plenty of green tea i should be ok to run…
At first i was very hesitant as the knee was in so much pain but as training progressed the knee did get better but it was sore very on and off- particularly running around sharp turns. The knee would feel good for about 2 reps in a short session than flare up. When i went on my long runs, interestingly, the knee would hurt at the start of the run but then disappear 6k into the long run. Another thing to add to this was that i was on nurofen twice a day, 3 time a day.

On the day of the GC Half, my knee was sore in the warmup and it was making me feel very nervous. I hadn’t ran 21k since prior to my injuries so i felt like i was adventuring into the unknown.  I was told by one of my running friends Sophie, not to take any nurofen the morning of the race as this can cause dehydration. I didn’t take 2 nurofen as prescribed however the pain was a little too sore so i had one. In doing so, i knew that i would need to make sure i stay as hydrated as i can, particularly with my history of dehydration.

In the final hour leading up to the race,  I did my best to use the power of positive thinking despite being told by many people not to race, however i thought the best person to take advice on was the Physio who said to me that the knee will feel sore at the start but should hopefully feel good as the run progresses so that kept my mind at ease.
The gun fired, and i took off at a fairly moderate pace as i didn’t want to expend too much energy on the knee. The knee did still feel sore and i was rather worried. I sucked up the pain and kept running on it. As predicted by the physio, the pain did ease around 6k into the race and i was able to run with a larger stride and catch up on some lost time. I went through the first 10k in 36 minutes and in the second 10, 37 minutes which was pretty consistent. Overall i was pretty comfortable. The last 2k hurt possibly due to my lack of fitness leading up to the race but i finished in a goal time of under 80 minutes in 78 minutes. i was over the moon and relieved i completed the race which was my main goal and secondly ran under 80 minutes which has given me alot of confidence to run a good Half.

The knee currently is feeling pretty good but still needs some more physio. I am continuing to do my isometric exercises. I am climbing My Fuji next week and apparently the down hill should be ok for the knee.

A big thanks to my sponsors TomTom Global, Skins AU, SOS Hydration, Run Crew and Chief Bar and to the awesome physios and massage therapists over at Sports Lab.

 

 

WALKERS COMES 3RD IN THE XTERRA ASIAN PACIFIC TRAIL RUNNING CHAMPIONSHIPS

WALKERS COMES 3RD IN THE XTERRA ASIAN PACIFIC TRAIL RUNNING CHAMPIONSHIPS

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Walker recently came away with a Bronze medal at the X-TERRA Asian Pacific Trail Running Championships in the 21k Half Marathon at Callala Bay.
Leading up to the race, Nicks training was coming along well however, he fell sick on the Friday night with a migraine almost preventing him from pulling out of the race. In typical N W W form, he didn’t let anything hold him back and he decided to compete.

In the race Nick lead with a few of the front runners only to take a wrong turn in the second 11k which frustrated quite a few of the runners, however his persistence prevailed and Nick caught up quite a few places.

A big thankyou to sponsors TomTom Global, Skins AU, Chief Bar, Ice Bug and SOS Hydration.

 

WALKER TEAMS UP WITH SKINS.

WALKER TEAMS UP WITH SKINS.

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“SKINS new DNAmic range combines compression with vibrant designs to create the ultimate active wear for athletes looking to increase their training intensity. Featuring SKINS revolutionary Dynamic Gradient Compression and a variety of garments to choose from, the SKINS DNAmic range is designed to power you through your warm-up to workout, whatever your sport.” (https://www.skins.net/au/men/range/dnamic.html)

As a trail runner, I had the pleasure of  receiving the brand new SKINS compression DNAmic superpose half tights and sleeveless top along with the calf compression tights. I was also lucky enough to escape to Mollymook for the weekend to test the kit out on some amazing trails along the rugged coast line. Usually on a tempo over a long distance of 20k my quads and calves cease towards the end of the run, so wearing the new SKINS DNAmic range would be a good test to see if i could gain some extra blood flow to the muscles which in essence, should allow me to run harder.

Overall throughout my long run i didn;t notice any notable changes at the beginning of the run, however as anticipated, my quads and calves didn’t feel as sore, particularly on the uphill sections of the run where i had to really drive up some steep steps and large rocks which involved some climbing. More importantly, the biggest change i noticed was after the run. I did my usual cool down and stretching, but my recovery seemed to be quicker and my legs felt fantastic that afternoon for my second session which was a steep trail run up Pigeon House mountain.

The designs of the new DNAmic range are very striking and sleek in colour choice, particularly the black and white stripe pattern designed by  Sydney based street artist – James Jirat Patradoon.

I highly reccomend the DNAmic range to all trail runners as i believe the gear will help for a long run and also with the recovery process post run.

The range is available here and comes in both a men’s and women’s range.