Miniature ponies came to say hello
Cars race down the freeway across the road from my office; their engines making a drone like the buzzing of a swarm of bees. It’s still daylight as I turn up the road past some industrial properties and office buildings. I stop at the shops 500m from work to buy a box of tea bags for my partner. And then I turn for home.
I run past the Golden Arches and KFC bucket. Commuter traffic zips by along the main road. Down at the sports fields there’s a queue of cars waiting to park at the gym. I don’t check to see who’s playing on the soccer fields because I’m enjoying the sensation of putting one foot in front of the other.
By the 5km mark I’m out in a more suburban area padding along a concrete footpath. There’s fewer cars because this is an alternate route to cut the corner off two main roads that run perpendicular to each other. At 6km the concrete paths ends and I am left pattering along a soggy grassy verge. Occasionally I need to run along the road to cross deep drains but I run towards the traffic, which is lighter than the commuter traffic heading the same way as me. It’s dark now so my glow sticks are glowing purple and yellow on the back of my hyrdopack.
I cross the busy main road at 7.5km. Headlights careen past at 80kph and it’s difficult to find a break. I exercise patience and eventually get across the road. I backtrack along the main for the scariest 135m I’ve ever run as I get stuck on the main road between the two side roads. There’s no real verge so I’m just running in the emergency stopping lane where cars are driving at 80kph and all I have is three purple and yellow glow sticks for visibility.
As I turn down the side street everything gets quiet. I’ll see no more cars for over 4km because this is a dead end road. It’s silent but for the song of the crickets and the sloshing of water in my hydropack.
At 9km I see about eight miniature ponies standing in a paddock. They are outdoor ponies with thick slightly muddy winter coats. The braver among them starts to move towards me. They take a few steps forward, stop, watch, consider then move a few more steps forward. I talk to them and ask whether they want a pat. A pretty cheeky looking paint, and a bay with a big blaze and small paint spots let me pat them. A palomino stands just out of reach, watching intently. I think he’s the pack leader because he stops a gorgeous chestnut and white pony from coming closer. I love horses and can’t help but stop to pat and talk to them when I see them.
As I leave the ponies the road gets narrower. It winds through tall gums. It’s a beautiful section of road and my favourite kilometre of the whole journey. I get totally lost in the moment and realise I no longer see running as training but as recreation.
The road ends in a big mud pile, strategically placed to stop cars and motorbikes from traveling on what is actually a continuing road that has been cut short by developers. So once I navigate my way around the mud pile (there’s no way I wanted to sink waist deep in mud), I continue down the gravel road to the grass field near my home.
I might have to get my colleague to give me a lift to work on his way past again sometime so that I can run home again.
Total: 12.05km @ 6:11 min/km pace (6:00 min/km moving). Elevation gain: 133m (one of the troubles with living at 54m above sea level is that I don’t get much chance to get any real elevation gain in training). Average temperature: 20.2’C (the subtropics are boringly warm).
Posted in Logan, Queensland, Redlands, Running, Trail running, Training, Ultra running
Tagged exercise, healthy-living, Logan, miniature ponies, mt cotton, outdoors, Queensland, Redlands, Running, South-East Queensland, Trail running, Training, Ultra running
Overlooking the Logan River from Carbrook Road
As well as getting light later, it’s also finally starting to cool down slightly in the mornings. That doesn’t mean summer is over but just that there’s an end to the heat in sight. It also means that it’s going to start becoming more difficult to get out of bed and on the road for training. Fortunately, things are just perfect right now and I enjoy the 14’C air temperature as I hop on my bike to do today’s training session.
I head down the road for a 10 minute warm up at 29.3kph. I feel relatively strong on the bike so am unconcerned about the training ahead. I settle in to enjoy it. After my warm up, I complete a 12 minute time trial along largely flat roads with a few intersections and a u-turn. I complete the set at 33.0kph, which is close to my current race pace (34kph) and just below my goal race pace (36kph). I suck in the big ones as I ride and know I have put in a solid effort.
After the time trial I ride a 6:45 recovery at 25.1kph. It’s difficult to believe that I struggled to cycle at 25.1kph when I first got back on my bike last August. Now it’s a comfortable recovery before I tackle my three hill climbs for the session. I climb Carbrook Road hard three times. I’m supposed to climb for 90 seconds but the hill isn’t long enough so I settle for 78 seconds of hard climbing. My lungs scream and legs burn so I know the set has done it’s trick. I stop after my third climb to take a photo of the view over the Logan River and down to the Gold Coast Hinterland in the distance.
I ride for 23 minutes at 29.1kph, still feeling strong. I don’t feel like I have to work to ride this pace despite the hills and heavy traffic. I don’t think I’ll ride the stretch of road from Loganholme to Mt Cotton Road at 6:15am again in a hurry because the trucks don’t leave much space for a lone cyclist riding along. I ended the ride with a short 4:40 cool down at 25.1kph. It’s funny how that turned out to be exactly the same speed as my recovery set.
I finished the morning with 15 minutes of gardening, moving some of my big 3 cubic metre pile of mulch from the footpath into the back garden.
Total: 30.28km @ 28.7kph
My beast in Bayview forest
It was my sister who found the Brisbane South MTB Club online this week and who suggested we take a ride with them this morning to see whether they’re a good match for us as we prepare for the Adventure Race Australia on 20 May. Neither of us has much MTB experience and this will be a big part of the race (up to 35km of it). I’m also training for the Tre-X off-road triathlon series next summer. So rather that try to teach ourselves we’ve looked at our options: MTB training courses, joining a club or winging it. While MTB training courses are probably great for learning skills in an intensive way, just going once or twice probably won’t help us with confidence and the cost of classes is relatively high. We looked at the BSMC website and saw they have beginners’ rides every weekend.
My sister, her 6 year old son and I loaded our bikes in her car this morning and took off to Daisy Hill Forest Park for the club’s one hour beginners’ ride. My sister and I were the only beginner adults with the rest being kids aged between about 8 and 15. There were three experienced adult riders with them and they never made me feel silly for being such a beginner (the kids could have ridden laps around me skills-wise). We rode for an hour along some simple technical single track trails and the ride leader gave me some fantastic basic tips, such as when to stand on the pedals and when to sit, and how to take corners.
After our hour ride, I went home to my sister’s house, which is on the other side of the Bayview bushland reserve from my home. The running club I am with often run through the trails in Bayview so I decided that I would map the trails for them so that everyone can enjoy their trail running without worrying about getting lost.
Enjoying my ride
So after a short rest at my sister’s house I got on my beaten up old mountain bike and headed off into the Bayview bushland reserve to start my mapping project. Over the course of the next hour I rode the tough fire trails around the outer edges of the reserve. The hills in Bayview are serious and I had to walk up and down two that were particularly steep. I tried to apply some of the skills I learned at the BSMC ride this morning. By the time I got home I was exhausted – unsurprisingly given that it was 33’C outside and because I’d been out riding my MTB for 2 hours. It was a good exhausted though.
This afternoon I’m off to a 2 hour Parkour training session in the city. But first some lunch and a short rest.
Total: 2 MTB sessions:
- 6km in an hour (skills focus – so lots of stop and start)
- 9.7km in an hour (lots of hills)
Posted in Adventure racing, Cycling, Logan, MTB, Off-road triathlon, Redlands, Training, Triathlon
Tagged Adventure Race Australia, Adventure racing, Cycling, Logan, MTB, Off-road triathlon, Redlands, Training, Tre-X Off-road triathlon, Triathlon