Wednesday, March 15, 2017

An almost double weekend coming up

Double weekend?

2 marathons on the weekend is usually what it means but not quite that this weekend but close. A marathon on Friday in Canberra and then one in Melbourne on Sunday.

Friday it is at Canberra about 3 hours drive south of Sydney. It is on a track for 105 laps. The marathon is part of an ultra weekend involving many races with different times and distances. The big Daddy being 48 hours on the track and the winner should complete over 1000 laps. Mind blowing time on the track and number of laps.

Me, the short 'sprint' option and I will feel like a fraud finishing in about 6 hours, travelling back to Sydney, having a shortish sleep, fly to Melbourne and by lunchtime those in the 48 hour event are still circulating and only half done. I expect I will be finishing the marathon on Sunday as they are finishing. That is also mind blowing as well.

The event is in support of Prostate Cancer and I feel I must support it.


Sunday at Brimbank Park just outside of Melbourne near the airport. Sounds like I would be running in an industrial zone. No a wonderful park that once you are in it there is little sign of the surrounding area. Plenty of green space, trees and a river.

It feels like there is no last section and that you are always going up or down. Some a very significant. Along the river section it is flatish with just some gentle short rises and falls but ....


Neither will be raced. Finishing comfortably is the only objective. About 6 hours for Friday and Brimbank Park probably closer to 7 hours. 

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

HOOK for Bravehearts ; 5.24.38

This marathon being held for the first time in support of a worthy cause was held about 90 minutes drive from Sydney just north of the Central Coast.

There was plenty of rain when I left Sydney and it rained off and off on the drive. Thankfully it eased by the time we started at 6.00am in darkness. The course was 8 laps of just over 5k per lap. I didn't mind that set up. The rain held off for most of the event with just some light drizzle for me on my last lap. 

Before the first lap was over it was light. I just took it steady hoping to run even splits. That was fine until halfway reached on about 2.38. That meant my brief thought of a sub 5 was not going to happen. I felt some fatigue arising and knew it was going to more of a struggle both mentally and physicality finish.

Head down and trying not to think about the physical and mental pain. 



I was not surprised by the slow down that was occurring. I just did not want to surrender to a walk. I managed that and was as usual so pleased to complete another. About 9 days to the next one that will be run with a great weekend of ultra running in Canberra at the running the track at the AIS. It is a pleasure and honour to be laped by some of the greatest ultra runners we have in Australia at the moment.

I feel like a fraud walking off the track at about 6 hours.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Another weekend another marathon - maybe

On Saturday I will be running a new and I expect small marathon for a very worthwhile charity.


I have bene very fatigued all well. I guess some weeks I just do not recover as well as I expect or want. So it was just one run this week of 10k and that was tiring. I am thinking the sensible thing would be not to run and that is a thought. I will see how I feel later tonight.

Mentally I do want to run. The body is not very willing.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Orange Marathon: 4.59.31



Nice surprise result for this one.

Orange is about a 3 half hour drive west of Sydney. I left about 11.00 am after a cruisy morning at home.

That was after a nice dash around the Bay run before sunrise. I couldn’t resist the nice cool start to the morning with very light drizzle.  The Bay lap is 6.92k to be exact. Under 40 minutes for the first time this year but then again I rarely run one lap as quick as I can.

Nice late lunch in Blackheath and so arrive late afternoon.

The start was at 6.30 am with the sun just rising. The temperature at 13 with some cloud cover was perfect for running. It stayed that way most of the run and the weather for me at least never became an issue.

I ran according to my heart rate. I have calculated my lactate threshold (LT) with a heart rate of 154. Not my maximum. So on my current running theory I try to run between 125 – 130. By running within that range (130 being 80% of LT) I should in theory be able to run without putting too much stress on the body and to be able to run endlessly (well not quite) but run for some hours.

I train 80% of my runs within this range.

This was my first road marathon that I tried to put this theory in practice. That required me to only look at my heart rate on the Garmin only and to ignore the resulting pass. That took some concentration as it is easy to slowly increase the heart rate above the 130 and particularly on hills when the effort increases although the pace slows.

I might post more about LT and heart rate soon.

This course is out an back and is NOT I repeat NOT FLAT. It has continual rises and falls and while not really any steep hills but long fatiguing inclines. They take the pace out of your legs soon and so you need strength to run this marathon. What is needed is the ability to quickly recover after the up to deal with down hill.

I don’t usually get too technical but this time I thought I would.

Splits: 2.26 and then 2.33. My average heart rate was 135 (because I intentionally pushed in the second half) and maximum 154.

Race plan: run at HR 130 average to halfway and then slowly increase it on the way home. I managed that well and I think that is why I had a good time.

5k splits/average Pace and average HR for the split

33.56 @ 6.47            129
33.35 @ 6.47            130
35.07 @ 7.01            130
34.29 @ 6.53            131

35.16 @ 7.03            135
36.33 @ 7.18            137
37.36 @ 7.31            138
36.17 @ 7.15            140

16.17 @ 6.43            148


The plan worked as planed. I am sure the strong second half was possible by the patient and controlled first half.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The weekend: Orange Marathon

I am looking forward to the pleasant 3 hour or so drive west of Sydney over the Great Divide and onto the western slopes of NSW to Orange. This will be the 4th time I have run the marathon. The course is challenging on undulating country roads most of the way. Times varying from 3.34 to 5.40 last year when I was not well. I am not sure I am that much better this year. Maybe and then ago maybe not.

The weather is good for marathon running - or maybe at the start at least. Start 6.30 am so usually the coolest part of the day. Temperature range 12 - 26 partly cloudy. If the cloud stays around for a while it should be manageable.

No real plan another than to run within my self, keep below a heart rate that I have calculated (long story) and try and finish under 6 hours. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

BUMS Marathon : Manly to Watsons Bay

This is a very small marathon but official organized by my great friend Jane Trumper. It starts at Manly Wharf and hugs the coastline as much as possible with various trails and walking tracks along the magnificent Sydney Harbour. The run to the Harbour Bridge is about 22k and quite frankly for a road runner is brutal. 

I caught the 6.20am ferry from Circular Quay to arrive just before the 7.00 am start. I was rewarded with the site of a huge passenger line docking and then a magnificent sunrise. A gorgeous way to start a weekend. 





In that distance there is hardly a flat section and if so 30/40 metres in length at most. The walking paths are continually undulating up or down or there are stairs, stairs and more stairs. By the time I got to the Harbour Bridge I was cooked. That is my legs where shot and there was very little running left in them and when I did try to run it was not much faster than a firm walk. 

So it was a firm walk for most of the next 20k to the finish. But then again why would you want to put your head down and push to the finish as quick as you can and not take the time to enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery Australia has to offer. 

Starting off with crossing the Harbour Bridge, down to the Rocks (although briefly), past the Opera House steps, Lady Macquarie's Chair, Boy Charlton Pool, through Kings Cross and then a wonder through some suburbs that are the most expensive in Australia before going a coastal walk just past Rose Bay including most of 'Heartbreak Hill' through to Watson's Bay.


The finishing time was not relevant. The experience of the day was priceless.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Caboolture Dusk to Dawn Marathon: 5.57.26

Caboolture is an easy 45 minutes drive north of Brisbane from the airport. The event is held in the Caboolture Historical Village. This is a wonderful place were old building from around Queensland have been rescued, restored and placed here to form a quaint old time village atmosphere. Woven in the village is a 500m somewhat circular dirt track. We run on that track and for the marathon 84 laps and a bit.

I flew to Brisbane arriving about 1.00pm and was in my motel room just after 2.00pm and then rested for a few hours before leaving just after 5.00pm.

This marathon is part of a number of events of various distances and time. The big event is the 12 hours so they all start at 6.00pm Saturday night. That start time and day throws out my usual routine and the weather is usually warm and quite humid. This year was no different with 34 degrees at the start and high humidity.

The track is not quite symmetrical up one straight and down the other side with a curve at each end with one a bit longer that the other but being about 100m in length. It is very difficult to get a nice steady rhythm up with the continual changes and off course there is a lot of people running/walking at various paces and so you have to watch that as well.

I believe I am a rhythm (who isn’t). That is when I get into a good rhythm on a usual road course I can hold it well as my momentum works well for me and on occasions I can push through the fatigue and hold the momentum. On this course that does not happen.

I never run this event well mentally or physically but I come back each year to face the unique challenge the event presents. Also being relatively early in the year my fitness is not were it should or could be.

This year as is the case each year with this event I merely want to complete it with the least amount of mental and physical damage as possible. So I set my thoughts of setting out at a very conservative pace and was aiming to hold it the entire event and to have walking breaks but ones that I initiated as part of the race plan and no ones forced on me by growing fatigue. There is a large clock at the timing mat but quite frankly it does not take long before the memory is not able to hold the time from one lap to the next and so it is very much running to feel.

For me I set a max heart rate that I did not want to exceed and could monitor that easily with the Garmin.  That heart rate would have me running at about 7.30 minutes per k. Not fast but taking the track and weather conditions into account for me that was comfortable and hopefully sustainable for all of or most of the 42.2k’s.

A finish just under 6 hours while not fast would be okay. Last year I blew out to 6.44 and that was one ugly run. I didn’t was that pain again so it was slow and steady for this one.

I went through halfway in 2.54 and that made a sub 6 hours very difficult unless there was minimal slow down in the second half. We all know how difficult that is. But I put me head down and prepared myself the challenge I had put myself in over the next 3 hours.

The first half plan was to run 5k take a drink and walk 250m and then run another 5k and repeat. That was working reasonably well although as the marathon went on I was drinking more often and resisting the temptation to walk other than when I was letting a drink settle. I was managing to do that. The challenge would be to do that in the second half as the fatigue began to accumulate.

My memory of the second half is not as clear as it could be. I was just willing those last 42 laps to be over. I was watching my heart rate closely but not really the pace. I considered keeping my heart rate below a level was the main aim and the pace whatever it was would just flow. But at 30k I began to make some pacing calculations. I had 24 laps to go and I needed to maintain about 8 minutes per k to finish under 6 hours.

I then to pay attending to the timing clock on each lap and knew I needed to keep on 4 minutes per lap.  That could have been 4.01 or 4.59 the brain was not computing seconds that well. I kind of tuned off a bit on that and just focused on heart rate and resisting the temptation to walk other than for a drink break.

Checked the position again at 35k and did the maths and I was still needing 8 minute k’s to the end to make sub 6 hours. At least I had not lost time. Short story is that I ran the second half in about 2.03 for the 5.57 finish. I was pleased that I held my pace well over the second half and was satisfied the slow first half enabled me to hold a good pace in the second half.


In bed by 1.00 am and out of the motel and heading back to Brisbane by 4.30 am and at home in Sydney by 9.30 am.

Shoes that did not come back.


Thursday, February 09, 2017

Yes I know it has been a while

So what has happened since my last post.

Christmas, New Year and the family. They all occurred as has been the case for the last few years. Our eldest owns a cafe and pecan farm near Byron Bay and he with his partner traveled down a few s before. Our daughter and her partner are in Melbourne and also travelled to home. Our middle child and son lives at home so no travel for him.

It was wonderful to have all of the family together before two left to have their holiday. The eldest stayed and we had a very pleasant few days in the southern highlands of NSW doing a lot of sightseeing. They then had to leave to open the cafe.

Helen and I then headed off for a week in Singapore. Great city and we had a great time. The last time was about 4 years ago but that was too long to leave the wonderful experience of the city and the food choices.

No running was done in Singapore and very little over the holidays so it was with huge negative thoughts that I stated a marathon just south of Brisbane on Australia. The weather in southern Queensland at this time of the year is brutal. High temperatures and high humidity.

The 5.00 an start allows a short time to run in reasonably pleasant conditions before the conditions start to become an issues. It is the first time I have run this 2 loop course that is mainly on a bike path but a short section through the bush. I had no idea about a finishing time because of the combination of little training for 5 weeks and the weather.

Nice and steady through halfway in 2.44 not quick but trying to save something of the second loop struggle. It was a struggle but not as bad as I expected it could be for a second loop of 2.59 and a 5.43 finish.

This weekend my nightmare marathon. Caboolture Historical Village about 60 minutes north of Brisbane. 6.00 pm start on Saturday as it is part of a 12 hour event and 84 loops - that does my mind in. But I know what to expect. Back in Sydney mid morning Sunday after leaving early afternoon Saturday.


 Finish - arms down, head down but thankfully done




Friday, January 06, 2017

2016 IN REVIEW

YES YES a long time since the last post. But moving forward  or at least looking back as to what occurred in 2016

Overall 2016 was a disappointing year for running. There were really no standout highs and there were more negatives than I usually encounter. So my lasting perception is that I could do better if I can get my physical condition and mental health both improved then perhaps 2017 could be better.

Most of January was spent travelling Europe with my family. It was an unforgettable experience shared with my three children and revisiting towns and countries I lived in for about three years in the late 1970’s.

And off course my wife’s mother is Austrian family and so we spend a lot of time in the small town that she and her family lived in. In fact we could visit the farmhouse that has been in the family for centuries.

Anyway back to running …..

I did manage to run 27 marathons in the year, the most I have ever run.

My first was at Caboolture in mid February and the time 6.42 was the slowest I had run for years and it is a flat half k track. I was not mentally or physically engaged at all.  It was my slowest of the year. Although I did record a 6.45 in April but that was the Canberra Walking Festival that was almost all walked.

 There were no marathons under 4 hours and that has never occurred before and that was very disappointing.  And only 4 of the 27 were under 5 hours and that was just as disappointing. My quickest was 4.34 at the Barossa marathon in late May.  A few weeks later there was 4.39 at South West Rocks.

That seemed like I was starting to somewhat fit and mentally positive. I then started the Gold Coast Marathon with high expectations. That lasted until 18k into the marathon when I become very fatigued and could not run a step and so had to walk the last 24k. Mentally it might have been the most difficult time I have experienced in any marathon I have ever run. The agony was thankfully over 6.25 after I started.

I was shattered and needed to take time away from running. So instead of my usual July of weekly marathons, I stopped running for a month.  My next marathon was the Tan in Melbourne and with a walk/run strategy that I maintained for the 11 laps I managed a slow but pleasing 5.54.

I then had a good sequence at some of my very favourite marathons to finish the year:

Mudgee                      5.35
Dubbo                        5.39
Sydney                       5.22
Western Sydney         5.17
Melbourne                  5.19
Carcoar                       5.01

There was a blip with a marathon in mid November that was just over 6 hours. The last marathon was a pleasing 4.58. It was a nice way to finish the year. I had planned to run another but could not.

Well that was a snap shot of 2016. It was a year that had some real lows but the positive was no matter how hard or slow I ran some I stayed on the course and finished the marathon. Job done and move on to working out what went wrong and focus on the next one.

I have written the year in review for a few years now and It helps me reflect on the past year and more importantly trying to prepare myself for the coming years running. I hope to have some better marathons in 2017 and I know the main chance of that happening is to be more regular training with longer distances in those runs. Perhaps if that occurs I will be more mentally positive to face the year.