Thursday, July 24, 2014

M7 Marathon: pre race thoughts

This will be marathon 185 and the 15th of the year. It doesn't seem like 15 they have gone so quickly. I have another 10 planned to make 25 for the year and my biggest ever. My most in a year was 18 in 2013. Nice when you have a long streak of injury free training and running.

Last year this marathon was my quickest for the year with 3.33.04 and I have been running slightly better recently than I did at this time last year. As a comparison last year I ran:

  •  GC in 3.41 and this year 3.26 (15 minutes)
  •  Macleay 3.38 and this year 3.31 (7 minutes)
  • Hunter Valley 3.45 and this year 3.35 (10 minutes)
I am not usually concerned about numbers, times etc but I just thought today I would. It seems by the comparisons I am running consistently quicker and hope that will repeat on Sunday. I usually have a good idea of my fitness level and despite this being the 4th marathon in 4 weeks the issue is not fitness but whether fatigue will be a factor in the last 12 ks. That might be a factor if I am too quick up to 30k. So already I am getting my head space into be very patient and being on about 3.26/3.28 pace at half way, hold that until 30k and then see what is in reserve to hopefully at worst maintain my pace to the end.

There is nothing I can do in the next few days to change the outcome. I am where I am at and it will all come down to pacing on the day. 

The end time has nothing to do with luck. It will all be about me running my own race, being focused on that and ignoring what is going on around me and what others are doing. I should do that in all the races but lest be honest sometimes we just run and are very much influenced by what is happening around us in a race. That can be a good thing or bad. At the Gold Coast once the race settled down you are often surrounded by other running at your pace although they come and go but you are very much shoulder to shoulder for a long time.

M7 starts off like that but quickly you can be alone or with a group the breaks up at a water stop and never reforms. I know I am a bit of a rhythm runner and this course despite some rolling hills is okay for me. 

The following weekend a double in Brisbane like last year. Only wish is that they are both under 4 hours. Anyway that is something think about when this one is over. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Hunter Valley Winery Marathon: 3.35.xx

Well I did't start at 3.35 pace. I was a bit quicker but it finished up being a 3.35 marathon more by luck than precise execution. 
It was a perfect morning for running. The temperature was around 10/11 degrees at the start and compared to other years that was warm. The marathon is 2 loops and often the wind comes up a bit in the second lap and that combined with THE HILL and the other long inclines always presents a challenge on the second lap to maintain the first lap pace.

My best over the last 6 years has been 3.40 and I set out challenge that by running freely in the first lap and see what I could do on the second. It was not a race plan of even splits a I wanted to try something different although I knew that would result in fade more than usual. I was hoping I would no be an embarrassing fade with a walk/stumble/death march a the end.

Short story - 3.35 finish with about 1.45/1.50 splits. At 35k I had 34 minutes to get home for a sub 3.30. It was always going to be a struggle with the long incline just after 35k and lasting ?2k. No excuse but then I ran into the back of the 10k runners/walkers and I was slow down/speed up pass/weave some more run of the track to pass more - you get the idea. I am very much a rhythm runner and this over the last 4k was not what I can handle well.

No complaints - that is what happens an I suspect I was not going go under 3.30 anyway.

I have to say I am more than pleased to run what in all the circumstances is good time and much better than I have generally been running for the last few years. Then M7 Marathon next Sunday which is a relatively quick course but I am not sure how I will hold up with the 4th in 4 weeks.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hunter Valley Winery Marathon : pre race thoughts

At this time of the year it is a case of ... another Sunday and another marathon.
This Sunday it is located in the Hunter Valley about 90 minutes drive from Sydney and in the fabulous wine area. This year for the first time my wife will be travelling with me and again for the first time I will overnight in the area. So a drive up on Saturday morning and a visit to some wineries and lunch during the day. There is a boutique cheese make in the area and we will fit a visit into that as well.
Sunday the marathon and then maybe another winery visit before returning home. I do not drink any more but I have no issue in visiting wineries and my wife sampling some wines. That part of my life is well behind me and being around wine etc is not an issue.
This week I have trained well running Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with Friday off,
The marathon. It will be my 6th at the Hunter and my best is 3.40 in 2010 and my slowest 3.52. So I have a small range of finishing times. How I would like to run a PB for this course. Crash and burn is a possibility but that race plan will be 3.35 starting pace and see how I hold on.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dolls Point Marathon: 3.28.48

Well I started off as planned with the aim of a sub 3.30 finish and then see how long I held on for. Obviously I held on to the finish. 

I rarely looked at my Garmin as I wanted to run to feel. When I did check I was averaging about 4.55 per k pace. That felt comfortable but at the very top end of that. So as the race went on it was a matter of how long I could sustain the pace and whether last weeks run and a solid week of training would cause a quick slow down because of fatigue.

A strong head wind come up on the last lap and there was a 5k battle with that before the turnaround and the hope it would be a tailwind on the run home. For me it felt like a tailwind or perhaps it was just the lack of the headwind.

I amazed to be under 3.30 again. What ever is happening I intend to squeeze as much out of this form fro as long as I can. So I will continue with some hard training sessions but training smart - that is maximum benefit for the minimum effort. 

Another one next weekend at the Hunter Valley. It is a tough course with some long inclines that take away the leg speed on the flats and downhills. Ah well, take each course as it comes.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dolls Point Marathon: thoughts

I am having a quiet day at home with my daughter and her partner who are up from Melbourne for the weekend. Out for a late breakfast for his birthday.

That does not prepare me as usual for a Sunday marathon as I travel and stay away from home for most. I need  to focus a bit more than I have today. I am undecided whether tomorrow it will be a lazy run just under 4 hours or will I push down to a 3.3x. I have a couple of more important marathons ink the next 2 weeks and want to be as fresh for them as I can be taking into account I am running 4 marathons in 4 weeks.

At the moment I am inclined to start off at the quicker finish and see for how long I can hold on.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tuesday: Recovery run

I should feel smashed but I feel very good. No stiffness or aches etc but i know the muscles are damaged. So it could be passive recovery by doing nothing or active by easy running to do not much more than circulate the blood and maybe flush the muscles.

So out before sunrise for a gentle run around the Bay and so relaxing stretching in one of my favourite spots around the Bay. Such a pleasant and calming way to start the day. 

Hectic day today. Appearing in Court for a client and then off to teach for the the rest of the week. 

                                             Such a nice spot to stretch and greet the day

Monday, July 07, 2014

Gold Coast Marathon: 3.26.43

Very pleased that the plan came off and I got under 3.30 as I was planning and hoping for.

Sunday morning on the Gold Coast presented perfect running conditions. I last ran a sub 3.30 marathon 5 years ago and whilst I had not quite given up the possibility of running one again it did for years consider that it was never going to happen.

Lets look back at some recent history:

2009     Canberra          3.17
2009     Gold Coast       3.25
2010     Canberra          3.25
2014     Gold Coast      3.26

All my marathons have been over 3.30 with the best being 3.31 at Macleay Rivera few weeks ago.

All week I was getting myself mentally ready for the pain I knew would happen when I started out at a pace that I have not started at often in the resent past and I know it would not get any easier as the marathon went on.

With my illness I now have a very strict eating plan that does not on the face of it appear to be of any help to an endurance athlete but I believe it assisting my health and so the wise and careful selection of the food I now eat takes priority over feeding to run.

A slight negative split and all 5k splits 24.xx.
First half 1.44 @ 4.56 per k pace
Second half 1.42 @ 4.51 pace
So a long sustained push for home from halfway.
For those interested in the finer details:

I thought my eating plan would cause my downfall over the second half but no I just felt stronger as the race progressed. Just 2 GU's during the run and off course fluids at the drink stations.
This was my first year on the +65 age group and with the winner last year running about 3.23 I thought when I finished it might get a top three. No only 5th with the Japanese winner running 2.52 WTF !!!!!. then a 3.13 and that looks more like it and then 2 at 3.25 and me. Next 3.40. 
My next BIG focus marathon will be Melbourne in October and maybe a better place in the age group in that one and maybe I have to find a 34 minute improvement between now and then.
Recovery, training and taper all in a week to be ready for the marathon in Sydney next week.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Gold Coast Marathon thoughts ….

Not long until I run my 16th Gold Coast Marathon. How fast have the years gone ? I still remember the first one in 1998 and was only my 8th marathon ever, I was 48 and ran it in 3.16.

I cannot 16 years later run a 3.16 but I will have my eye on maybe 3.32 meaning I have added a minute to my time each year. Maybe just under 3.30 and the first time for that in a long time. I have had a few weeks off running a Sunday marathon so as regards me I am about as fresh as I will be for one until then Melbourne Marathon in October.

Read that to mean that between now and then I have a marathon planned for all the weekends except a few where none are being held or I am at GH. 

The training in the last few weeks has been steady but the usual speed I have at this time of the week before a marathon that I ma rested for is not there. Nothing I can do about that but a sub 3.30 marathon is not just speed but overall pacing and what endurance/stamina you have to hold a solid pace over the last 12k. I managed to do that a few weeks ago with a near even paced 3.31 and that was on a flat course similar to GC.

Hopefully I have maintained my fitness and less so speed but the endurance/stamina aspect although being overall slower will clearly be an issue. Any way crash and burn or success I will start of with a 3.29 finish in mind and run at that pace and will as always just have to see what happens on the day. 

The thought I have at the moment is that I am rested and some marathons you just have to give it you a all both physically and mentally. At the moment I am working on the mental preparation.

Enough of the memories except ….

C2K being kindly treated at 200k by Roger (a member of Jane Trumper's crew). As Jane and her crew caught me they notices I had  some  extreme  lower back pain so they stopped. Well the crew stopped Jane continues and they gas me what road side help they could. Embodies the spirit of runners in ultra's in general and in particular this race which is unique in Australia because how you and the other runners are crews. A treasured moment and memory.

Nobody looks good at midnight on the top of Mt Kozzi after 42 hours or so of running or at least relentlessly moving forward. I think I remember being there. One way to hallucinate without drugs. 

My crew the year I finished. All woman and all CR's. In events like this it is the quality of the crewing and the dedication of the crew to their runner makes it possible for the whole team to get a finish and bag a hat and pin the next day at breakfast.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Just some more brief reflections

Apologies in advance for an old bloke going down memory lane. After I wrote yesterday and as I was out running this morning (this is the wonderful sunrise this morning again around Bay)

I thought I might look more globally at what I had run in regard to ultra' and realised I had forgotten the mother of all Coast to Kozzi or C2K for short. A nice little 240k run from the sea to the top of the highest mountain in Australia.

2010 Attempted and withdrew at 156k

2011 Finished in 43 hours 44 minutes (I will never forget that adventure and the relief of crossing the finish line well into the second night.

2012 Attempted and withdrew 190k

The RD has strict guidelines just to be able to enter and then with more applications than places it is difficult for me to get accepted because I just do not run enough ultra's to rate a serious consideration. Last year I entered and was places on the wait list and then withdrew because my operation was a few weeks before the event.

I am not sure if I will enter this year as I fully expect to rejected or on the wait list and maybe I should just be grateful some close running friends hounded me for years to enter and I did not. Finally I did and am so pleased that even if it is just once I was able to finish.

Back to Glasshouse. I have entered 6 times and on the first time went missing but well after I was through the 100k checkpoint and so I have that and 5 100 mile finishes.

Great North Walk. 8 starts with 3 100 mile finishes and 4 100k finishes and a DNF.

Ewan asked how old I was when I ran under 3 hours for the marathon at the Gold Coast. The finishing picture is in the Blog. It was 2007 and I was 58. I will never forget that last 20k hanging onto a 4.15 minutes per k pace and finishing in 2.59.40 gun time. 

Running has brought me some wonderful experiences that I will never forget. I have also shared some unforgettable moments with other runners and sometime that sharing of a race or part of seems to bond you to that person for ever. My life after beating the booze 17 years ago has remarkable. When I was in rehab & detox I could never have imagined or dreamed i would be where I am no.

It almost all has to do with my running and the unwavering support I have had from my wife who never failed to see the good side of me even when I was in the deep depths of booze addition. We have been together for 45 years as I meet her when I was in second year at Sydney University Law School and she was in her last year of high school. My how time flys.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reflections on the last 5 years

A new age group and perhaps time to reflect on running since I turned 60 in June 2009.

 100th marathon. In April 2009 I ran my 100th at Canberra in 3.17. In July that year I ran Gold Coast in 3.25 and I was slowing but much too quickly for my liking. Then the all started to slip over 3.30 but at Canberra 2010 I managed 3.25 again but unfortunately I have not been below 3.30 again. Although a few weeks I ran Macleay River marathon in 3.31 which was my quickest since 2010.

Maybe this year I might sneak just one last one under 3.30. Gold Coast in a week or so might be a good chance. It is flat and I have not run a marathon in a few weeks so for me I am rested.

Great North. I have always entered the 100 miler. My last 100 mile finish was in 2008. Since 2009 I have not managed to get to Patonga. I did not enter one year due to injury and another I DNF'd at 80k otherwise 3 finishes at 100k for the last three years and that is treated as a DNF because I entered the miler. I suspect my days of entering this event are over in in particular because it now clashes with Glasshouse.

Glasshouse 100 miler. I have only missed this event once since 2007 when it clashed with the Sydney marathon. In 2007 I got hopelessly lost after 100k and wandered around for hours in the dark. When the sun came up I knew east from west etc and was rescued not far from the finish but on the wrong side of the road that cuts the course into east and west. Yes I should have been able to read the starts but i have no idea about that. Since then I have finished each 100 miler except as I said in 2012. I had a nice streak going and am now back to a streak of one. I will be back again this year.

Sydney Marathon. Home town and special. I have managed to run all since 2001 and am a Blue Line Legend for doing so. I am kind of proud of that achievement along with about another 10 runners. I will be back again this year but as often been the case in past years I am at start line with a 100 miler in my legs from the week before. My time is never great but so far I have managed to keep them all under 4 hours. 

Half marathon. I rarely run one as I run the marathon instead. I run a half when I run the monthly races with SMC. My best in the last 5 years is 96.38 in April 2010. I have during this year got back to under 100 at SMC and I hope that can continue for a while.

10k. I run these less often that a half. A training run (if that counts) in July 2009 in 44.15. I must run another serious 10k to see what I can do with lowering that time for this age bracket.

5k. Only run in the measured course around the Bay. I used to get practice when there was a 5k challenge each month. But it has probable been years since in was on and I attended. Training run of 20.41 in April 2011 but again even in training I don't run them. Like the 10k I should do another serious one. 

Bay run. The lap is about 6.92k and the challenge is to run under 30 minutes. I was for years running it with some mates each Wednesday but i have not been for a while. Mid last year I managed 28.57 and a number under 30 since but none this year because I have not been attending often enough and in shape to run that time. 

200th marathon. It should happen at the Canberra marathon next year but it means I must 26 this year and then a few next year.11 so far. No injuries or niggles and fingers crossed that continues. The cancer is being treated and for the moment it is not an issue. 

Time has gone so quickly and I suppose it is valuing my health and fitness as it is at the moment and continuing to do what I enjoy until cannot whenever that will be. A long time from now I hope. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

First run as a 65 year old !!!

First day as a 65 year old. That sound old but I don't feel that age at all and i suppose that is all that is important or indeed relevant. I am so grateful that I have the health that allows me to run daily and run marathons and I guess as times goes on the greater value I will place on that health. 

My other medical issues still exits and are being monitored.

It was a glorious sunrise and I took the time to stop and take this:

               The buildings are North Sydney.

Who would trade a sleep in for the wonderful way to greet and start the day. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Glow Worm marathon: 7.11

Yes that is right 7 hours and 11 minutes. Over twice the time it took to run the marathon the week before. It was a trail marathon and very scenic. I took my time and some to enjoy the run and as they say 'smell the roses' along the way.

It took most of the week to fully recover even though I didn't thrash myself on the day.  Few weeks off before the Gold Coast marathon and then only one weekend off from then to the 6 September when I run the Dubbo marathon. I am looking forward to the challenge.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon thoughts

I am back in Sydney having spend time in Nimbin since Sunday. My son lives there and my other 2 children fly up and we spent time together. The weather was perfect and we did some walking in the area, visited the art gallery at Murwillumbah and the Margaret Olley part in particular. That part is amazing.

No running while I was away so I good recovery from a hard marathon. I expect I will be out for a Bay run tomorrow and Saturday morning before heading off to overnight at Lithgow and drive the 40 minutes to the start of the next marathon.

This one is all about survival and finishing under 6 hours. There is plenty of technical trail stuff and a huge climb and decline on the out and back first half. Then plenty of rolling inclines in the second half plus a walk through a 800m tunnel with glow worms on the ceiling. Compulsory you walk the tunnel.

This one is all about being steady and getting some work on the legs for some strength. Then a couple of weeks before my focus marathon to a degree at Gold Coasting early July.Sunday

Monday, June 09, 2014

Back to the past: Macleay River Marathon: 3.31.49

Let's go back to marathon # 101 in July 2009 Gold Coast Marathon: 3.25.56.

This marathon is the next quickest and so to some extend the clock has been almost turned back 5 years - almost. It was perfect running conditions and I know the course well this being my 11th time running this marathon.

I was not sure how fit I was and certainly I have not been doing any exceptional training for some months. Just out most mornings although on some weeks much less than I would like or want. And this was marathon number 3 in 3 weeks so I could have expected some fatigue.

But I did want to run a good time and I knew that meant starting aggressively. That I did although I expected that would put me in a position where there was a real likelihood of a slow down because of the combination of the fatigue from 3 in 3, the pace itself being too quick for my fitness and just not have the stamina because of inadequate training. The aim was to run as close to and just below sub 5 minute k's for as long as possible. If I could hold it I would be around a 3.30 finish.

I turned at halfway at 4.58 pace which was where I wanted to be but expected the slow down to occur soon and dramatically. Anyone who knows the course is aware it do absolutely flat along the river except for the first and last 7k where there are some small inclines that seem insignificant at the start but take on a different character on the way back. In particular the last 1.5k has a very significant hill that is always testing.

I was maintaining a pace of 5 minutes per k in the second half but just. So my over all pace was ever so slightly creeping closer to the 5 minutes and I know that would put me over 3.30 but I know that I have run a lot of 3.33 marathons and having put I this effort to 35k I desperately wanted to hold on and finish quicker than 3.33.

Thankfully I did hold on and there was a very large smile on my face as I was running down the finishing chute knowing I would record under 3.32. Still smiling.

Now spending a few days in Nimbin with my family before heading back to Sydney late in the week and then travelling to the Glow Worm Tunnel marathon next Sunday.