Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mudgee Marathon: 3.35.37

Mudgee put on an absolute glorious day on Sunday. It was about 9 degrees at the start and that is much warmer than the the usual zero or below. There  was some early light cloud but by mid morning it had gone with the warming sunshine evaporating the clouds

Last week I slowed really badly in the second half and was wondering if It would happen again. I ran through the half in just under 1.47 with the hardest section over. There is along steady  climb from 10k and It is not over until about 19k. Then a long and mainly downhill run to the finish although there are many rises and falls. The falls do not help, as the race progress the speed generated (if any) by the falls seems to be never to be enough to compensate for the slowing ion the inclines. 

I kept waiting for the pace to slow and the fatigue to set in. As each k went by and the pace was being just maintained. As the race progressed towards the finish  I was becoming more hopeful that it might not occur at all or much later than last week. 

In the end I did not slow and finished in 3.35.37. Only a minute or so slower than last year. Happy.

No run today but I will ease back into a slow trot around the Bay to embrace the pre dawn. Next week the Tan Marathon in Melbourne. Many laps but I don't mind that. It is historic and I enjoy the challenge of Anderson Street hill. It will be steady on just either side of 4 hours. The following week is the first Dubbo marathon so I have no idea about the course but that should be steady as well to ease into the Glasshouse 100 miler the following weekend. Just all about survival for the next few weeks. 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Easy 15k in damp overcast conditions

I thought the rain in Sydney had gone but no it was back this morning. Just light but enough to make running a little unpleasant. It didn't stop the rowers being out or the sun just peeking over Iron Cove Bridge in a gap in the clouds before disappearing  behind them.

I feel a little fatigued from the trail marathon but at least i am out running and enjoying the freedom and absolute basic pleasure of running. Today had nothing to to with recovery, training or anything other than sheer pleasure.
Some rowers in the far distance and one with a red light with the lights of Leichhardt Oval showing

Not clear but the sun rising over Iron Cove Bridge before disappearing behind the clouds

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wagga Wagga Marathon : 5.04.22

Another great weekend away travelling to Wagga from Sydney.

I arrived in Wagga about 5 pm on Saturday with beautiful blue clear skies and sunshine for the sat half of the 5 hour drive down. Rain was predicted but certainly did not look like it. However t steady light rain started in the early hours of Sunday morning was still happening as I was getting ready for the early 7.30 start (provided to the over 60 runners). A slight wind required thought about the selection of clothing. Opted for tights and light hooded jacket and long sleeve top underneath. You can always take off a lawyer. I was pleased I did as the light jacket stayed on the whole time and I never felt uncomfortable. Then again I was not moving too quickly either. Shoes were not an issue it was always going to be trail.

The week leading up to the race was one where my energy levels ebbed and flowed more that usually. Partly I think being the recovery from the previous double marathon weekend. I was also very busy with work and my usually good eating routine was out late in the week. 

I felt strong and comfortable until about 23k into the marathon. Just after that the 4k of very tight technical section starts and I am not good on them. Too much of a fairy. Was also feeling a little fatigued and light headed and on reflection i was probably a bit dehydrated. Anyway not an excuse. If I was it was my fault. Just an explanation. 

I struggled through the technical section and it did not get much better from 30k to the end. I kept moving forward as quick and as best as I could but it was not pretty. I am not used to that struggle after 30 as I usually come home strong but that is what happens in marathons. 

The 5.04 finish was slower than I expected but then again the course in parts was full on mud and the going was slow. Overall this marathon did not leave any pleasant positive feeling as some do.Despite my difficulty with technical trails the run was enjoyable in regard to running through some great countryside and I did take the time to take some pics. 

Yes there were many hills and no this is not the tight technical sections. I enjoyed the rolling hills and the wide track. The technical came later and I was just in the mood at the time to stop for pictures. 

I need to recover and get mu head in a good space for Mudgee next weekend. I know the course well and hope I can fix the things I did not watch last week in the lead up. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Preparation for Wagga marathon on the weekend

The answer is none, well really I have done very little running since the double weekend 10 days ago. I thought I needed some recovery time both physically and mentally. So I have only run easy a few times. I not really concerned as I think I needed to ease off for a short while and take whatever that means in regard to the loss of fitness if any.

Last year I ran this with a friend and we finished in 4.59. She is not with me this year and so I expect to be a little quicker although the marathon the following weekend at Mudgee is more of a focus. 

Also I have been a little distracted over the last 10 days or so with not good news about the cancer. Tests etc are still being done and some more definite news might be coming late next week when I have another appointment with the oncologist.

Next week I am about to start a major detox that should last 4 weeks. It is quite tough and is being done with guidance but I am not sure how it will affect my running and training. Not the best time to start but we have decided we should try now and if it becomes too much with training and running marathons we will suspend it for a month but I would prefer to start now and maybe just maybe I can get through and the marathons without too much slowing down.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Two days two marathons: 4.25 and 3.46

Two days, two marathons, two different results and feelings. 

Saturday  was the Bridge Walk Marathon that is a very low key event aimed at raising money for a charity and most of the entrants are walkers although they tolerate us runners. 

I felt slow and was. I felt fatigued and 6 minute pace was too quick and I could not sustain it for more that the first few k's and then really struggled the whole way despite it being very flat. It was through a lot of wetlands on a cycle path and board walks at times.  Then the last 12k or so along Morton Bay.

I finished in 4.25 and was pleased to have a very tiring and really unhappy run over. It was a struggle most of he way and was so pleased to finish but I was concerned that if Saturday was like this Sunday could be much worse. There were no positive thoughts flowing after this run. 


 Bike path

Low tide on Morton Bay - finish in the far distance on the right - loooooong way 

I did  what I could overnight to rest and recover.

Sunday was the Brisbane Marathon with 650 starters as well as the company of the half marathoners  for half the distance. I felt fresh with no stiffness and decided to start off with a pace for a sub 4 finish although I thought that would not happen but it would be a nice challenge to see how long I could maintain that pace. 

I stayed just behind the 1.55 half pacer for the half marathon. I felt I was running within myself but near maximum effort. I felt that was not going to continue in the second half but then again that is why I run marathons. To face such a challenge and see what I can do mentally and physically over the next 2 hours or so. If it was easy it would not be such a challenge.  

The half marathoners finished to the left of the first lap and the marathoners went right for the second lap. I was between the 3.45 and 4.00 hour pacers and on my own with the marathoners well spaced out. For reasons I cannot explain I was feeling stronger the further the race went on BUT was waiting for that final step you take running and then without a conscious thought or decision you start walking. I kept thinking it could come at anytime and was really working the mental side hard to stay positive. 

As usual at about 30k I was in a position to know the really hard part was starting. I was still feeling good and decided that I would up the effort so as to just maintain my pace. I then started passing other runners rather easily. That is so positive and so the next 12k's just rolled by without a thought of possibly walking. 

The stats back that up. In the 20/30k split I was 191st in time. Between 30/41.1k split I was 85th in time. I finished overall 135th so I was much quicker over the last then my over all position. Amazingly I was 3rd in the 60 - 69 age group and just 30 second behind 2nd.

A week off before marathons at Wagga, Mudgee, Melbourne and Dubbo in consecutive weekends, the the following weekend at Glasshouse 100 miler and the next weekend the Sydney marathon. So a busy time ahead. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

M7 marathon: 3.29.31

3rd sub 3.30 in 4 weeks of 4 marathons in 4 weeks.

I struggled through the whole race. I never felt comfortable from the start and it stayed that way to the finish. I wavered between feeling uncomfortable to very uncomfortable. I started off just behind the 3.30 pacer who I know well and expected that he could keep and even pace so I was happy to be behind him but I did keep a check on my pace.

I started off with a pace that would get me to a 3.30 finish and just kept working hard to maintain the pace. 

Through halfway in 1.43.30 and just perfect time.

The plan was to stay with the pacer until about 30k and then assess where I was at and what I could do. The 3.30 group seemed to slow significantly on the way up a hill at about 31k and it was then that I decided I needed to be in front of the group and run my own pace and set my own rhythm.

I was then in clear space and on my own. Set my rhythm and headed for home. I was never confident on the way back that I would be under 3.30 and with k markers I was doing some maths every couple of k's and it seemed I was hanging in but it was close. It would just take a slow k on one of the hills and I knew I would not be able to get it back.

At 40k I had just over 11 minutes to make it. Clearly made it with a a second half of 1.46.01 moving from 62nd at halfway to 31st at the finish. As I have said before I am not sure where this form has come from but I will take it. The M7 course has not changed since it's start 7 years ago and this is my second quickest except for the first.

An easy weeks before a marathon next weekend on Saturday and Sunday. I will very much ease of the pace but still with the aim for both to be under 4.00 but that might be difficult on the Sunday.

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.