13 December 2016


Annual review

2015 finished with me injuring my back which affected my performances in Japan but meeting up with Mike Trees and Andy Green provided me with the motivation to push hard for the year where the goal was always Perth and the World Masters Athletics Championships at the end of October beginning of November.
The year started off with me trying to increase my standard mileage from 70/80km per week to 100+.
I tried to improve my diet by going alcohol free and cutting out chocolate cakes and biscuits. The aim was to get to under 60kg to help improve my chances of faster running. I'd previously thought 62kg was my ideal weight and have variously bounced around between 60 to 65kg.
Back in January I did a 26km run with a North Lakes parkrun 17;01 thrown in at 18km.

The following week I did a more conventional 3km warm up and ran 16;24.
My increased mileage did not last very long as the niggling plantar factitious I'd carried for the previous 12/18 months started to flair up. 
16:24 North Lakes parkrun my fastest for the year

I spent the usual small fortune trying to find resolution. Ultra Sound, Cortisone Injection, ice, Spiky Massage ball, wore the half moon boot through the night (I am still wearing it as I still get flare ups). MRI, Consultant  x 2, Podiatrist gait analysis, heel cups, strapping and rest! 
If you have heel Achilles problems get yourself one of these off ebay for about $25 well worth it.

Well I didn't actually rest. Midway through February I stopped running and started cycling again (this worked well for me when I had a year off with PF in the right heel a few years back).
I tried running after 4 weeks cycling in mid March. 
It was too soon as though I managed 2 or 3 weeks of running, the pain was still too much.I had too judge what was the maximum amount of rest from running I could afford without cutting my Perth preparation down  too short? 
April and May were spent on the bike. I clocked up my 1000th 10km loop around North Lakes on the bike (10,000km around the same loop). 
The colder weather was on the way which I hate cycling in, so I was super keen to get running again.
At the end of May I strapped up the heel and started to run again. I had one blip during June where I jumped back onto the bike convinced I still wasn't right but 4 day later I started to run again on 12th June.
The countdown for my preparation for Perth had started.
Could I get back to my peak in 4 months?
I thought I could and I promised myself not to make any silly mistakes like cutting down trees or twisting my ankle running on a trail or injuring myself with a 2 hour  shoe less beach run. I also decided that I shouldn't let running totally dominate my life and relaxed my diet to include beer again (6 months without beer was more than enough and I am sure my wife appreciated having the old me back).
I had to miss out on racing at Gold Coast, Bridge to Brisbane, Redcliffe, Noosa and Gladstone.
So I started to build my mileage through July, getting a regular weekly interval session and a Sunday long run. I started to run a couple of double runs a week and managed to keep my weight at 60kg.
The last week of August and the first week of September I managed to peak at 130km weekly mileage.
16;29 North Lakes parkrun 20th August
September was  tricky trying to balance my non running life with my running life.
We celebrated  me turning 55, Natalie turning 50 and our 25th Wedding Anniversary all in the same week at the end of September beginning of October. 
We went to the USA to visit Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon (South Rim), Yosemite National Park and San Francisco. I managed to find a track in LA and another in Las Vegas and fitted in a good variety of runs and sessions. Although the holiday wasn't the ideal preparation for Perth it perhaps helped prevent me from over-training at home and besides was a fabulous family celebration.

We got back from the States on 4th October and I had 3 masters races planned prior to departing for Perth. First up was a  3000m in 9;42. Nothing to write home about as I was hoping to run sub 9;20. Then I ran a 5000 and again underwhelmed with a 16;47. I was hoping for low 16's and this form was disturbing. My seed time for Perth was 15;54 which I ran in January 2015. I was well off target.
The Final race in the Perth build up was a mid week evening Masters 10000m. I had run a 34;13 10000m session at the end of August so I decided I'd run this race the same way, Hard/Float respective laps. In tough Brisbane conditions (humidity) I managed a 33;34 Queensland M55 record by myself. Which gave me a heap of confidence heading into Perth. I was happy with that performance and putting that time into the calculators suggested I would be happy with any distance from 1500 to Half based on equivalent performances.
On my knees following a 33:34 in Brisbane humidity!
And so to Perth. 
How lucky was I, to turn 55 the month before and have a World Masters on my doorstep (compared to France/USA/Brasil/Finland previous host countries) ?
I shan't go back in any great detail over Perth but suffice to say the Championships were a fantastic celebration of Masters Athletics, brilliantly organised in a beautiful city.
Getting to meet some of my fellow Master's from around the globe was an awesome experience.
The 8km Cross Country was run as a combined M50 and M55 race. Bruce Graham (Aus) and Anders (Swede)  got away early but myself and Paul Thompson (GB) pulled them back in (or did they hold up as a tactical consequence of having gone off to quickly ?)
Anders and Bruce had raced in Lyon at the Worlds, finishing 2nd and 3rd M50 there. The four of us ran together for 6km with the race only unfolding in the last 500m or so as Bruce skipped away for a much deserved win. I took the M55 honours and we also took the M55 team Gold.
The sprint for home with Anders (M50)

Next up was the 5000m. I had two guys much faster than me this year Alex (Hol) and Stuart (Can). The conditions were shocking (windy) but perhaps gave me a tactical advantage. Rather than sitting in and making a planned break with 2000 to go, we played cat and mouse for 1600 before I decided the safety of running by myself would beat a trip/fall/push. l made a break with 3200m to go. Neither Alex or Stuart went with me so I was home free winning by 100m from those two super quick finishers. I love my finish line photo, rarely do I show much satisfaction or joy when running. My time was 16:42
The satisfaction of the win

The 10000m came three days later. I expected to win this one and decided to again run it hard/float/hard. Conditions were pretty warm so it was tough hurting myself when I was so far clear but I was pleased with the performance given the circumstances. The finish line photo showed I'd truly smashed myself 33;15.

The Half Marathon was 5 days following the 10000 so I was well rested but still, 4 tough races in 11 days would take a toll on anyone. The key ingredient a Kenyan M50 or M55 runner who had told me he expected to run a bloody quick time. He looked good, like maybe only African runners look. Super light on his feet and fast. Conditions were hot and windy on the way out and I was suffering but so was he. After tracking him past half way I hit him with my best effort for about a KM and was able to hang on to win the M55 in 73;42.

Back in Brisbane and the Summer humidity combined with a lessened motivation as I came back off the boil to close out my year. A 16:22 5000 the only performance worth mentioning.
There are lots of goals for 2017 based around the Queensland M55 record books.


Secret Blog for Killing Track PBs said...

Nice yearly recap David. Best of wishes for you and the family over the summer break. Hope to catch up with you somewhere in 2017. Good luck with all the races.

Reflections from 2016 said...

It was a reflective Garmin Lama I caught up with who'd agreed to review his 2017 World c'ship campaign with me which will go down in the annals of masters distance running as not so much a tour de force but as one man's testament to the will of the human spirit to overcome adversity and redefine human physiological parameters in regard ageing . When I asked him where he found the inner drive and will to push the frontiers of human endurance he paused and reflected for a moment before answering . " I think the essence for my success lays in the intangible . I call it the factor X . It's a power that flows through me . It's very Zen ." Intrigued , I asked if he could elaborate . Instead he gave me that whimsical smile . That same smile that looks benignly at you from the cover of Time magazine . It's a smile that is the product of a life journey rather than a spontaneous reflex . There's an aura of spirituality around the Garmin Lama . You feel in the presence of higher possibilities . I pressed him to single out his best performance of 2016 . " Sippy Downs," he said without hesitation . What else would I have expected . Not reflections from the world stage that the Scotsmen strides like a colossus but a modest affair away from the glitzy limelight . " In 2017 I hope to take the message of Lamainism to the remotest outposts of civilisation . " Did he have any specific locations in mind I asked ? " Bunyaville , Ipswich , Uluru , Mawson Station . The more remote the better ," he replied . " People see me as a pillar of light holding aloft a torch , a beacon of hope for humanity . The light atop the hill . But I see myself more as using that torch , that gift of mine , to illuminate the darkness of decrepit old age . Never stationary but probing ." When I looked at my watch what I thought had been minutes had stretched to hours as I listened intrigued to this man who sprouted philosophical wisdom as easily as he rewrote record books . I thanked him for his time and he bowed graciously , with the serene majesty of a master . I took my que and left . He'd answered in essence very few of my questions but I felt as if he'd answered much more . The questions I'd never thought to ask in the first place . He'd led me along a path . Taken me on a journey . More remarkably the pain in my knee from osteoarthritis had vanished . Spontaneous human healing ! I'd call it a miracle . The Garmin Lama would simply smile .

Common sense said...

Ban Ki-moon , outgoing president of the UN has , in an act of clemency granted David McSweeney, better known world wide as the Garmin Lama , the offical status of world citizen . This was in response to moves to have the Scottish citizen stripped of his 7 gold masters world medals on the technicality that he was in ineligible to compete for his adopted country , Australia , as he was in fact not a citizen . Sources believed to be close to the Green Trees twins had been lobbying to have the Scotsman's citizenship details clarified saying they had reason to believe that ,as an Australian resident only , he was not eligle to compete for Australia this voiding all his gold medals . When pressed to comment a spokesman for the GL , his former manager and now press secretary Lucy Lovelace said , " The Green Trees twins are jealous that David has won more world titles in a week than they have in their careers combined , so obviously they are not happy . But David has always thought of himself more as a citizen of the world with an allegiance to mankind rather than a particular flag . He identifies with the common man and is their champion ." As a world citizen McSweeney can now travel the world stage with his passport officially stamped , " World Citizen " and so giving him diplomatic immunity from prosecution under the auspices of the United Nations and so not to have his medals possibly confiscated . He is now seemingly free to keep his hard earned gold medals and Ban Ki-moon has given firm indications that the GL will be given yet another honour ( and gold medal) to go with his Perth haul which will be a services to humanity award . These developments overnight are seen by many as a victory for common sense over jingoism , parochialism and the petty vindictiveness of narrow minded individuals motivated only by jealousy and envy .

He is a light unto others said...

Like most of Australia I was recovering on Boxing Day from an overindulgent Xmas and was expecting nothing more exciting than settling down in front of the box to watch the cricket for the day . It was a surprise then when my editor rang at 2 in the morning and said to get down to the Dugong Way pronto as there was a big news story about to unfold . The only reason I didn't slam the phone down and plead a meteor had struck the house were two magical words . Garmin Lama . Well I was on the M1 before you could say , " 7 times world champion!" As I drove through the dark I reflected on 2016 . It had been a tough year . Brexit , terrorism , war , Trump and as I tuned into the early morning news another gifted celebrity had passed on , George Michael . Thank god , I thought to myself , that the GL was an eternal presence in our life . Single handledly his exploits during the year had raised the collective spirit of mankind . He was the torch that lit our dawn . What could he possibly have in store for us today that could top his triumphant exploits over the last twelve months ? I arrived to see a swelling mass of humanity cramped into a small park . The Garminite faithful . The GL stood atop a picnic table . I expected him to be attired in his Australian running kit but instead he wore the simple saffron robes of a monk adorned with a simple Garmin logo , the only concession that he was the global face of that corporation . His feet were shod in simple sandals , a gift from his holiness the Dali Lama for services to mankind . The GL explained to us that it was simply his Karma to be as successful as he was and so today he wanted to do something special for his followers to acknowledge their ongoing support . I thought he meant he would give us a Buddhist blessing . Instead he said he would run a marathon this very morning and offer the sweat and suffering up as a heart felt tribute to his league of followers . His suffering today would contribute to their salvation . Even I felt the urge to join in with the thunderous ovation and shout out , 'bravo!" With that this living icon of our age started his run . Resolute and determined with the morning sun coming up over an expectant ocean . It promised heat , sweat , toil and suffering . To the uninitiated it might seem a hollow futile gesture . To his followers it would be cathartic and add to the mystic and legend of this once son of Scotland . Now an immortal along with Robert Burns , Robert the Bruce , Sean Connery and now Garmin Lama , world citizen and athlete supreme . Yes , I was emotional but who wouldn't be ? Let 2016 linger on a little longer I thought . Especially today for on such days lasting memories are born that sustain us through those dark nights of soul and existential angst .