Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Beginnings

I am pleased to report that I have now moved this blog to a new and improved site.

This current site will soon become redundant so please use the new link to read up on all future posts.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post Great North Walk

I started back running this week. Went for a slow 5km run on Thursday on the treadmill which felt great. Then yesterday did a fairly quick 5km run around my new area in 19 minutes. This actually felt pretty good. The 4th kilometer was a struggle but aside from that it was happy days.

This week will be back to regular runs home from work. Its a 14km trip which is a decent amount with a monster hill thrown in at the 6km mark. I'm also going to investigate running into work. Need to find out where the showers are located etc. A few double days a week of 28km's should help to improve me.

I'm going to hold off going to NRG running club for another week as I dont want to rush back into the fast stuff too soon.

Below are some pictures from the Great North Walk that have just been released. Good memories from a great day out.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Great North Walk 2011 Race Report

The GNW100's is now over so now is an opportunity to reflect on the training that went into this race, the race itself and after thoughts.


I think its fair to say that I probably didnt take this race as seriously as I should have - in terms of training. Of course, from all the race reports that i've read from the previous years, I understood that it was going to be a huge undertaking and would require alot of effort - i just didnt follow this up with a large amount of physical training for various reasons.

Mentally, I thought about this race a great deal. After only running two 100km races I really struggled to get my head around what it would take to have to run another 75 km's on top of one of those. Mind boggling and daunting. After both races I have ended up with painful ITB injuries that have sidelined me for considerable amounts of time. I was worried that I would reach the 100km point in the race carrying injuries which would force me to quit or make the rest of the journey excruciatingly painful. Not pleasant thoughts.

I spent a lot of time picturing myself running across the beach at Patonga and how this would feel. Another thought I used was picturing myself or someone else in a wheelchair thinking how they would happily put up with the pain of running GNW100 ten times over to be given the opportunity to walk again. This certainly helped put things into perspective during the times when I was struggling out there.

Ok, now lets look at the stats. The 3 months of training I devoted to GNW100 are below:

Oct: 404 kilometres
Sept: 244 kilometres
August: 0 kilometres

Total of 648 kilometres over 55 hours. This is probably what most ultra-runners would do in one month.

In the few months leading up to August I was hampered with a persistent ITB injury which meant I didnt train a huge amount. I managed to fluke my way through my debut road marathon in 2.48 after wolfing down a fair amount of Neurofen and then I took a whole month off (August). During this time I went on holiday and put on 6 kilos and had a thoroughly good time. I also did lots of core work strengthening the various parts of my body that required it.

On my return to running in September I was quite shocked by the loss of fitness. It was considerable. My HR was elevated and what used to be easy runs became hard. I had to start from scratch again. It would have been suicidal of me to take up Ultra168's weekly offers of weekend long runs of 60+km's. I felt bad having to decline each time but I think I made the right decision. At least my ITB wasnt hurting.

During the middle of September I decided to push myself and do 50+ km's on the 6ft track in the heat. I gave up after 34 km's as I felt so unfit. I came home and told Phill that I was going to withdraw my entry from GNW100 as there was no way I could complete it. The next day I retracted that statement and decided I would run it easy and as a recce for a future attempt at a decent time.

October came and went quickly. With my fitness slowly returning I had a crack at the Fitzroy Falls Marathon hoping to beat my previous years time of 3.09. This was a benchmark fitness test for me. I remember feeling really fit the previous year so I thought if I could come close to this mark then I was probably in ok shape. Against the odds I came in at 3.02 and I was full of confidence again.

In total, during the 3 months leading into GNW100 my long runs looked like this:

1 50km run
3 40+km runs
4 30+ km runs

Not once did I set foot on the course but this approach suits me fine. I'm happy to be oblivious as to whats coming next. I did however go from CP's 4 to 5 with Andrew Vize (winner for the 3rd time in a row in 22hrs 02 minutes!!)  in the early part of the year as part of his Western States training.

The last couple of weeks before the race I stocked up on magnesium tablets and echinacea I didnt want to catch the bug that was going around and I know us runners lose alot of magnesium and i read somewhere that its good to take. Thats about as scientific as it gets im afraid..

I also used the time to decide what bag i was going to carry. In the end i opted to try running with a nathan 2V elite belt which holds 2 bottles and has some compartments and also my inov8 bag  with a 2 litre bladder. I just cant seem to compress all my mandatory gear into small bags like others.

It was during this time that I had to start thinking about nutrition. I took a gamble and decided to use Hammer Perpetuem for my whole run. Risky as I had only done one run using it but I was impressed with the consistent stream of energy it provided. No sugar highs or lows which is key.

The last few days before the race I bought my 6 drop bags and had a banana for each along with 6 scoops of perpetuem and 2 doughnuts per bag. I dont know why I chose doughnuts.  I think because they were on offer! As you can see my pre-race planning was meticulous...

Warners Bay the night before. Had a nice pizza on the way up and I was in bed by 10 for a largely restless sleep.

Race Day

I set my alarm for 4 am and immediately started drinking as much water as I could. I'm a big fan of chia seeds as I like their taste and also because those mad Mexicans use them during their ultra races - if it works for them then i'll give it a shot! So i had 3 scoops in a protein shaker and put that away along with 2 bananas.

I got to the registration at about 5am and said goodbye to Phill and that I'd see her on Sunday at about 1pm if all goes well. I put my drop bags in the various boxes and then set about saying hi to a few people. Good to see Dan Bleakman (read his great race report here) pumped for the race hoping to get the monkey off his back on this particular course. The atmosphere was very low key but there was alot of nervous energy in the air.

I went to get weighed in as this is a requirement. Your weight is recorded and then checked at CP2 and CP3. If you have lost too much or gained too much then you have to stop till you get fixed up.

I weighed in at 83.1 kilos. My fighting weight is normally around 81 kilos but I figured I had probably about 2 kilos of water in me. I certainly hadnt carbo-loaded before hand. Just eating normally seems to do the trick for me. I dont want to start a race feeling sluggish and full.

After the weigh in I said a quick hi to Andrew Vize. He gee'd me on a bit telling me to stick with the front runners. I have to say it was seriously tempting as the pace isnt red hot compared to a marathon but I knew I had to stick to my plan of slow and steady to get through this. I was in for a long day and didnt want to get caught up in any racing from the start. Will save that for another time...

Start to Check Point 1  28.6km in 3hrs 29mins - 5mins at checkpoint

6am and Dave Byrnes gives the countdown and we are off. The front runners have immediately shot off and I settle in to roughly 5.30 min/km pace. Feels super easy which is great. The first few km's are all on road and people are overtaking me and im overtaking people until things start to settle down. Before I know it im pretty much running by myself and I start to get into my routine of a swig of perpetuem every 15 minutes with a swig of water. Every hour on the hour I consume a salt stick cap which is full of electrolytes. I bought these specifically for this race having never used them before. They say you shouldn't experiment on race day but really this whole race is an experiment for me.

I decided to run in my Brooks Adrenalines because of the added support. I had an ankle niggle in training and didnt want this to flair up so decided on these. I had my NB 101's in a drop bag at CP4 and my Hoka Stinsons at CP5 in case i wanted to change.

I bumped into Malcolm Gamble on this course who ran a neat 100km time and came 3rd overall. Nice bloke with a wealth of experience. He was using this race as a training run. We spent some time chatting and he knew the course which was great as I had no idea where I was! At some point on the course Malcolm took off and I was on my own. However I soon saw someone up ahead. There was a turning to my left which I was pretty sure I had to take and the other guy had shot off in front. I shouted out about 10 times to him that he was going the wrong way. Luckily he heard me and luckily I was correct with my navigation! His name was Michael I think from the UK. Had never been on the course before so it was like the blind leading the blind. We didnt run together long as I went ahead and came into Check Point 1 at 9.34am. A fill up of my irritatingly shaped Source bladder which all the volunteers struggled with and a 6 scoops of pertpetuem, 2 doughnuts and a banana I was on my way feeling weighed down with all the water I was carrying.
I peed 3 times during this section and was feeling properly hydrated.

Checkpoint 1 to Checkpoint 2  23.9kms in 2hrs 27mins - 7 mins at checkpoint

I was feeling really good leaving CP1. My pace was easy and I was enjoying the new scenery. The day was warming up but it wasnt uncomfortable.

Found myself running with Mal again briefly until he took off down the Congewai road. This is a fairly flat road and i must confess that I took my first walking breaks on this road. The Sun was now out and it was getting hot. Doused myself with my water bottle a few times which provided some relief. I upped the salt stick intake to 2 an hour and plodded on to the checkpoint. Before i reached it I saw Chris Turnbull running in my direction and another runner. Both looking comfortable. They were probably 40 minutes ahead of me.

I was weighed and came in at 81.04 kilos which I was happy with. I was back to my normal weight and feeling really good. I had some hotspots on my feet which needed attention. I tried to put some blister gear on them but my sweaty feet wouldnt allow them to adhere. Oh well. Dan Bleakmans pacer, Garth,  kindly filled up my backpack and waterbottles and then I was off, back into the heat.

Checkpoint 2 to Checkpoint 3  29.1kms in 4hrs 13mins - 12mins at checkpoint

Back down the Congewai road and then a right turn at Glenagra Farm. I had to pause for a few minutes as my route suddenly seemed to stop when i was following the fence line. There was a gate in the way and the directions didnt mention anything about a gate. So I walked around and then went over the gate and soon enough found the trail again.  The trail went downhill on some nice single track and Darrel Robins (read his account of the race here) of Ultra168 fame passed me here. I'm not a great technical runner and tend to get passed alot on these sections particularly on the downhills. I caught Darrel and passed him up the climb to the communications tower. Thunder was overhead and I was hoping for a storm. We both came stopped at the unmanned water stop and took some time to rehydrate and fill our bottles. We then plodded on together mostly in focused silence.

I definitely hit a low point during this section. The kilometers were going by slowly and negative thoughts were slowly creeping into my head. I had to make an effort to appreciate my surroundings and think how lucky i was to be out there running. The storm came and went and was refreshing.

Some time later I stumbled across Dave Coombs. Proper nice bloke. His ITB had blown up and he was walking along with 2 sticks. Still in excellent spirits and he seemed to take it on the chin happily enough. A great athlete so was a shame to see he was out of the 100km race but that happens some times. He'll be back.

Then it was more single track to the Basin. I had heard about the Basin being a navigational nightmare but I had no troubles at all. I had my wits about me and didnt have any issues so I guess I got lucky.

There is an out and back section here and I saw Chris Turnbull again and Shona Stephenson. She took out the 100km race and came second overall smashing the ladies record! What an animal! When she passed me she was complaining of taking a wee and getting attacked by leaches. I had to laugh. It wasnt until I got the Checkpoint that i realised I had a couple of leaches on me too. They were trying with all their might to get into my shoes but there is a lining in the Brooks Adrenaline that seemed to stop them. Go road shoes!

My feet got patched up here again by the kind volunteers and I even had a good chat with Alex Matthews. Now this lad can run! He mentioned he will be in for the 100km race next year and i'd expect the record to fall if he doesnt injure himself. Its great to see athletes of his calibre helping out. What a sport this is!! Love it!

Checkpoint 3 to Checkpoint 4  22.1kms in 2hrs 25mins - 18 mins at checkpoint

Heading back out onto the trail to the basin i was feeling good. My feet were pretty busted up now though with all the blisters. My running style is pretty lazy and im always kicking rocks and tree roots resulting in black toes. On the way to the turn off in the basin I bumped into Andy Bowen (read his story here). He commented that he was feeling dehydrated. I later learned that unfortunately he had to pull out. Its a cruel race!

I dont remember a great deal about this stretch apart from thinking how decent I felt considering the distance. Legs were still ok and there was no ITB trouble. At the same time it was also hard not to think about the next 80-90km that lay ahead of me.

I pulled into CP4 for my next weigh in. This time I was 81.08 so a slight increase of .04 kilos. By this stage my feet required serious attention and a nice medic spent 10 or some minutes working on me. Was nice to sit down. Not much you can do for blisters really. I just had to manage the pain in my head and try to focus on the things that felt good.

Plu was here and what a godsend. He set about filling my bladder and water bottles which saved me some time. Very grateful for that.

Checkpoint 4 to Checkpoint 5  26.8kms in 4hrs 34mins - 10 mins at checkpoint

It was beginning to get dark now so I had to get my Ayup on. This was my first long run wearing it and man it lights things up! loved it. I wanted a decent headtorch as I envisaged I would be running by myself for most of the night and I was right. This section was fairly uneventful. I remember running quite well and being confident that I would now finish. Came across a dead snake which was disappointing. I've heard about all the wildlife and I was hoping to see more snakes than I did. Maybe it wasnt hot enough this year.

Meredith and Spud caught me towards the end of this section.

I changed out of my Brooks into my Hoka Stinsons here. Anything to alleviate the blister pain.

Checkpoint 5 to Checkpoint 6  17.8kms in 2hrs 27mins - 4 mins at checkpoint

I started to have some low moments at this stage. I took a couple of silly wrong turns. One was on some single track and I just didnt see the path ahead of me for whatever reason and ended up in a bit of a bog. The other time I took a right turn when I should have just kept going. I ended up running downhill for about a kilometer until I took my maps out and then had to track back. Demoralizing at the time but thats what this race is all about. I figured I probably lost 45 minutes due to navigational errors.

I bumped into Mick and Meredith on this section. Mick was in good spirits geeing me up about not breaking 3hrs at Fitzroy. Meredith was concerned that I may have been Jess hunting her down. I passed them by but I was overtaken by them when a took another wrong turn then didnt see them again till the end. Meredith went on to smash the womens record. Awesome result!

I rolled into CP6 to find Chris Turnbull there along with Spud. I went to go through my usual routine of finding my drop bags and filling up my bottles but for some reason my bag didnt make it to the checkpoint so I had to go without my perpetuem for the next leg. I couldnt have cared any less here. A volunteer gave me 3 gels to carry instead which would have to do. Spud left the checkpoint pretty sharpish about 5 minutes before me and I went off in pursuit conscious that Chris probably wouldnt be too far behind.

Checkpoint 6 to the Finish  25.4kms in 4hrs 17 mins.

After 15 minutes or so I caught up with Spud and proceeded to hack him off with my light casting a shadow on his footings. He kindly let me overtake him and I ran fairly strongly to the suspension bridge then up the climb to Scopas Peak.

Everyone always talks about the second wind you get when dawn breaks so this is what I was waiting for. I was constantly looking up at the sky waiting for the sun to poke through to inject some life into me but it was dark for an eternity.

The exposed section of running during the middle of this leg really sapped it out of me. I walked alot when I should have been running and the surface of the terrain was playing havoc with my feet.

I had a small celebration when i reached the 100 mile point. Patted myself on the back for passing that milestone in under 24 hours  then I gave myself a kick in the head by calculating that it was still another 12km's until the finish.

There was a section on this course when you could turn around and look quite far behind at the track above. It was about this time when dawn was breaking that I saw 2 figures running well. Damn it, they were running strong and I was barely moving. I didnt want to lose another place so I had to get going. Within half an hour and I had been caught by Jess and her pacer. I was easily overtaken and was suitably impressed how Jess ran absolutely everything. The small gradients were forcing me to walk but not for Jess. I was quickly gaped and had to work hard to keep them in my sights. When I figured that I was about 1.5km from the finish I put my foot down in a bid to catch them up. I finally did so as we were descending down the single track to Patonga Beach. Having to ignore all pain I flew down this part and was greeted by the wonderful sight of sand! I had to stop momentarily to figure out which way to head then followed the footprints round the beach and towards the boat ramp and back onto the beach. The soft sand was cruel to run on but the finish was great. I have to say it was pretty anti-climatic. Im not sure what i was expecting but I didnt have any waves of emotion or feelings of elation. I just fancied a sit down! Dave put the medal round my neck and I was told to touch the Patonga post. Job done! Final time of 25hr 15 minutes good enough for 8th place out of 121 starters.

I went over to where the other guys were and had some food and drink and waited for Phill to arrive. I admit to being pretty antisocial at this stage. I was pretty wiped from the race and just fancied getting home for a shower and some hot food. I didnt really have the energy for much conversation.

Post Race

After collecting my drop bags I was driven back to Sydney. I funny thing happened when I got out of the car. I commented to Phill that I felt a bit nauseous. One minute I was standing there then the next minute I was on the ground. Phill was a little shocked but after lying in the garage for 10 minutes I was ok. I can only think this was due to low blood pressure, exhaustion/lack of sleep.

On Monday I couldnt quite believe how good my legs felt. Very little soreness and I could freely run up and down the stairs without any pain. I can only attribute this to the low intensity of the race. I took it relatively easy the whole way and was never out of my comfort zone. I was well hydrated and fueled up which probably all helps.

Having said that, my body has been tired. I have been feeling more fatigued this week that usual and my legs have felt tired even after doing very little. My appetite has been ferocious and I have been eating everything in sight. This is now beginning to slow up.

Food and Drink Stats During the Race

  • 36 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem (orange and vanilla flavour)
  • 29 salt stick caps
  • 5 bananas
  • 5 jam doughnuts
  • 2 Hammer energy gels

  • 25 litres of water
  • 2 cups of coke

This is definitely a race I will run again (sorry Phill). I wasted at least 45 minutes going off course and 56 minutes at checkpoints. For my next attempt I'll know where im going and I'll have a crew to aid with quick checkpoint turnarounds. aka Vizey in and out in a minute styley (providing I have no blisters of course!)

I probably wouldnt change my pacing strategy too much in the early stages as looking back I still feel I got this spot on. Certainly in the later stages I would have liked to push it a little harder but thats there for the taking next time. Given the same conditions I think sub 24hrs isnt beyond the realms of possibility. 

Next year is the year of the marathon PB for me with the aim of cracking 2.45 potentially at GC Marathon. With that in mind I have decided to put ultras on hold for a year to concentrate on getting some speed into my legs whilst im still young (relatively!!). I havent yet had a consistent year of training and and im excited at what i might be able to achieve if i have a solid foundation underneath me.

I also firmly believe that I need to have a break from the long stuff as there is only so much the body can take (or my body can take). I want to run for as long as I can so it would be silly to burn out so soon. I think a focus on speed vs long stuff will improve me as a runner massively.

So next year will be plenty of 5kms and 10kms with way more strength and conditioning thrown in. I would like another crack at GNW100 in 2013. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Great North Walk Build Up

Great North Walk 100 miler next saturday and im super excited.

I certainly havent done nearly as much training as I should have but regardless it should be a fun day.

The only concern is a lingering ankle niggle which is bothering me. I think I landed awkwardly jumping from a height a few weeks back in minimal footwear and may have tweaked something. Seems to scream when I turn a sharp corner so I need to be careful. Not sure if i'll strap it or not as I havent practiced running whilst strapped up and it could cause blisters. Will see.

In the meantime my nathan elite 2v water belt has come. Great piece of kit. Sits comfortably round the waist. Will have one bottle rammed full of perpetuem and the other with water and nuun. I will also carry a small camelbak. Need to test this out  but I think I should be able to carry all my kit using this equipment. Will  be tight but i'll test run this week.

Tapering is going well. Seems like the last 4 months have been a taper for one reason or another. Highest mileage month in ages was last month where i only hit 400km. Pretty minimal for what im about to encounter. Having said that my fitness feels pretty good lets just hope the body holds up. I'm mentally feeling super solid, have never really suffered from that aspect though. As long as I dont suffer a serious injury i should be a safe bet for a finish next Sunday.

Looking forward to seeing everyone out on the course.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fitzroy Falls Marathon

Last Saturday was the 11th running of the Fitzroy Falls Fire Trail Marathon. I ran this last year as my first marathon and was surprised to finish second to Mick Donges in 3.09 behind his 3.03. This year I was determined to do better even though my build up was half of what had been last year. 

Once at the start line it was obvious that it was going to be a fast race with aussie reps Brendan Davies and Mick Donges  up for some fun along with other serious competitors like Andrew Tuckey and Alex Matthews. 

My stretch goal was to try and break 3hrs which i knew would be ambitious but I set off with that in mind. I let the fast guys speed off whilst i settled into a decent rhythm. I had my ipod with me but only started wearing it after 5km as it became obvious that this wouldnt be a day for chatting on the trail.

I wore my NB MT101's for this race as they are so damn comfortable and super light which makes uphilling relatively easy.

The halfway mark was hit in 1hr 28 minutes and 30 seconds so i knew 3hrs would be tight as its mostly uphill from there.

I was thankful for my conservative start as I started reeling people in around the half way mark. Around the 28km mark I caught up with Ewan Horsburgh. This was timely as I was beginning to feel the effects of the race and it would have been all too easy to step off the gas. We seemed to take it in turns running in front. I tended to pass on the inclines whilst Ewan would maintain a decent clip on the flats. This kept the pace honest but I was also conscious I was falling off the required pace for a stab at 3hrs. 

At about the 35km mark I managed to lose Ewan and I was on my own for the next few km's. This didnt last long as David Hosking caught me up running fairly lightly. In the distance we could make Alex Matthews who was obviously having a hard day. As we passed him it looked like he had taken a nasty fall and was nutting it out to the finish. Towards the 40km mark my legs were beginning to cramp up and David was looking hard to chase down. All my thoughts were on the post-race burger.

Finally I was on the home straight and I tried one last sprint for glory down the straight. This was thwarted however by the amount of mud so i was slipping and sliding rather than making good ground.

In the end I crossed the line in 6th place in 3.02.45. A 7 minute improvement on last year which is good progression. I probably lost a couple of minutes in the back half of the race but there is always next year to crack 3hrs. Before this race only 10 men in the 11 year history of the race had broken 3 hours. This year the top 4 all came in under 3. 

Top 10 results below:

1.   6   Andrew Tuckey             ASQUITH                 NSW 35 M  2:47:05  3:58
   2. 163   Mick Donges               BLUE MOUNTAINS       NSW 28 M  2:48:10  4:00
   3.   4   Tim Cochrane              WESTMEAD             NSW 31 M  2:54:11  4:08
   4.   3   Brendan Davies            BELFIELD             NSW 34 M  2:55:23  4:10
   5. 141   David Hosking             BROULEE              NSW 43 M  3:02:35  4:20
   6.   5   Ian Gallagher             GREENWICH            NSW 29 M  3:02:45  4:20
   7.   1   Alex Matthews             TURRAMURRA           NSW 27 M  3:06:19  4:25
   8. 183   Ewan Horsburgh            KATOOMBA             NSW 33 M  3:09:16  4:30
   9. 166   Stuart Spencer            CAMPERDOWN           NSW 33 M  3:09:43  4:30
  10.   9   Martin Pengilly           TURRAMURRA           NSW 44 M  3:11:59  4:33
My focus is now firmly on the Great North Walk 100 miler in November. I feel massively under-cooked for this compared to other training diaries I often look at. There are many different ideas out there as to how to train for a 100 mile race but at the end of the day everyones body reacts differently to various training methods. Some guys love the mega mileage, others  prefer short intense workouts, whilst a few (ultra168) like mega mileage intense runs!

The main point I keep hearing though is that one of the biggest battles is getting to the start line in one piece. There is a fine line between doing heavy training and becoming overtrained. Once the symptoms of overtraining set in then your pretty much screwed. On the same note, if your under trained then its going to be a hell of a long day on your feet! 

There have been 44 withdrawals from the race so far most notably some of the big guns in the womens race including last years champ Beth Cardelli and Allison Lilley. Hopefully the withdrawals arent a result of anything too serious and i hope all the other competitors make it to the start in one piece.

For me, completion of the race is going to come down to managing the pain. It's going to hurt, alot, and i'll have to prepare myself for this mentally - embrace it even. I've been reading Marshall Ulrich's new book 'Running America' where he talks about managing the pain he experiences whilst running 60+ miles per day. At one stage his foot is so badly injured that he can barely walk let alone run. He decides to 'disown' his foot. Refuses to acknowledge that the foot or the pain associated with it is his. Crazy stuff. But he plugs away and his foot ever so slowly heals. Hopefully for me i wont encounter any serious injuries and i'll just be able to methodically plug away until the finish. Im super pumped for this!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Speed Work

Tonight was my standard run home. However, in the lead up to the Fitzroy Falls Marathon this saturday i decided to introduce some 1km reps and fartlek.

The first km was a warm up and then straight into it. Felt pretty good hitting a 3.15km then i recovered for a km then hit a 3.16km. After the recovery rep the terrain of the run makes it too awkward to do 1km reps so i moved into fartlek, essentially sprinting for 400-500metres then recovering and doing it again. Finished up the last km in 3.26 and felt awesome!

This is a great workout as its high intensity and teaches your body how to run faster and recover at the same time. Also doesnt leave you feeling stuffed.

All up this turned out to be my 3rd fastest run home ever - very pleasing!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fitzroy Falls Marathon - Plan for the week

With the Fitzroy Falls Marathon less than a week away my training is now going to focus on getting some speed in the legs. Since returning from Europe last month i've been slowly ramping up my training. September was by no means a big month with just 245km of running. However this was 245km's more than I did in August due to my ITB issue. This now seems to be behind me (fingers crossed).  September was all about learning to run again and this hasnt been easy. My heart rate has been elevated and ive been finding it hard to add any speed into my workouts. However, on saturday I went caught a train up to Brooklyn and ran/hiked through the bush for 6 hours. I wanted to spend some decent time on my feet without smashing up my legs (after all i am racing on Saturday). I wore my NB Minimus Trail which are awesome. I bought these at the same time as the Hoka Combos and I have to say I way my Minimus way more. I find them extremely comfortable and I seem to run much faster in them than the Hokas. Lots of hype surrounding the Hokas but for me they're going to be a 'recovery' shoe. Certainly fun when running down a hill but thats it. Definitely not a performance shoe. Having said that there will probably be a point in the GNW100 when i'll slip them on just due to the cushioning they provide. Anyway, im sidetracking...

I only ran 45km on Saturday  but my legs felt good and it gave me some much need confidence that i'll be able to complete the GNW100 as long as i pace properly. The next day was just a short recovery run and then today i started thinking about the Fitzroy Falls Marathon. If im to have any chance of breaking my 3.09 time from last year i need to start working on some speed - better late than never. So i slipped on my NB Mt101's and went out for a 16km progressive road run - the aim being to start of slow and ease into my run then pick up the pace at the half way mark. I felt pretty ordinary for the first couple of km's then things started to click - finally!! The last 6 of the 8 km's were all sub 4 with the final km being a 3.37. My heart rate was where it should have been (below 180 bpm) and i finished up feeling like i could i have run 5 more kms at that pace.

Last years race was my first ever marathon and as such i didnt know what to expect in terms of how my body would cope running a certain pace or with a certain heart rate. As you can see my pacing was not very even (taking into account its not a flat race) but i was able to maintain a heart rate of 170 which is good. I also think that during my marathon last July my heart rate would have been around the 175bpm mark. I wasnt wearing a monitor so this was my perceived effort. Since I now know how to pace a marathon and since ive ran the course before i know what to expect and im confident of doing better and most importantly finishing stronger. My pacing really fell off towards the end last year and this is what i plan on improving the most.

So my training plan this week will be short efforts at pace. Simple as that. After Saturday all thoughts will be on GNW100. Im by no means as prepared as i should be for this one having only been on the course once but if i push the km's too much in training there is a chance id be a no show and thats the last thing i want. Id rather turn up fresh and under prepared than blown out. Besides im actually excited about running on a course ive never been on before. Target time for me is under 30hrs. If i can somehow hit that i'll be chuffed to bits.

My AYUP light set arrived a few weeks ago. I ordered this especially for the race as im bound to be in the bush all night by myself (i wont be having a pacer). Wow, what a light! Its like having a set of car lights on your head!! Pricey but well worth it!    

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Slow Progress

The holiday weight is slowly starting to fall off. Down from 86kg to 82.2kgs in just a few weeks. Havent changed a great deal in my diet, just exercising which seems to help. Obviously drinking less booze now ive returned which is probably a major factor although i have no intention of cutting it out completely. Not when the weather is like this!

Slowly easing back into my running. Conscious not to do too much too soon to irritate my ITB. All feeling well so far.

First runs back were pretty demoralising. Heart rate has been massively elevated. Im talking easy runs leaving me with an average HR in the 170's. Fortunately, things are beginning to turn normal again as my speed is coming back and my HR is falling.

Was in the Blue Mountains last weekend and planned to run to the top of Pluvi and back for 52km. Set out far to hard really for my fitness. Hit coxes river in 1hr 20 and then slowly began to lose the plot. Turned into a scorching day and i turned around after the 17km point. Glad i did as the return leg was a nightmare. Nellies Glen totally ruined me and I pretty much walked back most of the way. 34km in 3hrs 59. The 1500metres of climbing certainly played their part as im still feeling it even today. However, I think that run did me the world of good as it got my blood pumping.

I returned back to the house adamant that i would not be running the Fitzroy Falls Marathon nor GNW100. Funny what a days rest can do though as come Monday I was again super pumped for the next two races.

I dont think i am going to do myself justice and my chances of being close to a 3hr finish at Fitzroy are rather slim. But it will be a fun morning nonetheless. Im not in racing condition so I need to reset my goals. If I finish under last years time of 3.09 i'll be happy.

GNW100 is a different beast altogether. I have to say that im pretty intimidated by the monster. Again, im in no shape to hang with the big boys and i'll do well to finish. I have to stick with my game plan of going sub 30 whilst not allowing myself to get caught up in the excitement at the start of the race - as this will inevitably come back to haunt me. Its going to be a learning experience and im really excited.

I havent hit a 100km week for over 2 months now so thats my focus for the next month. This week should see me eclipse that then i need to concentrate on maintaining some consistency.

Definitely need to get myself out with the Ultra168 boys on the GNW100 course soon as the training will be invaluable. Life has just been getting in the way as it tends to do but i should be good for a couple of hit outs before the big day.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fat Boy Slim

Well im back in Australia after more than 3 weeks overseas. I had a great time eating and drinking my way around Europe with zero running to my name. Not the best preparation for the Fitzroy Falls Marathon next month on the GNW100 in November but im not going to worry about that.

I managed to put on 6 kilos in 3 weeks which is a pretty good effort. Needless to say i've felt a little sluggish on my return. I've managed 2 runs of 30km and 20km and have not had any knee pain. So fingers crossed the rest has done me the world of good.

Weighing in at 86 kilos isnt going to do me any favours when trying to get close to 3hrs for Fitzroy next month but its all part of the journey.

My plan now is to slowly ramp up my training whilst still doing my strengthening exercises to stop my knee pain from returning. Im conscious now of not doing too much.

Other news, i'm house hunting and hoping to get in before Christmas. So the large majority of my weekend mornings will be taken up looking at apartments. This will restrict me from joining the merry band of runners who'll be going up to GNW every weekend to familiarise themselves with the course. I'm not too bothered about not seeing the course. I've never recced a course in my life and actually find it quite exciting not knowing what is around the corner. However, come race day i'll need to have my wits about me so as not to get lost.

Looking forward to the next couple of months and by the time January swings around i'll have a serious aerobic base for a proper training build up and a crack at a sub 2.45 marathon time in 2012.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Great North Walk 100 - Mens 100 miler Race Predictions

The Great North Walk 100's is just a few months away and I for one am super excited about this race.

This years field looks really strong and i'd expect to see the race record shattered.

Just for fun, I decided to draw up some odds - i've only created odds for people i know and names i recognise so apologies if I have missed anyone out. Happy to add people.

This is just for fun and some of my researched 'stats' could be total BS.

Who do you think is going to take out this years race?

Nearer the time i'll also assemble a list for the women's race (ive purposely left out Beth Cardelli even though she is a very likely threat to take out the entire competition) and also lists for the 100km races.

p.s Ultra168 - I came up with this idea just got in there before me..

Andrew Vize 2-1 You cant go past the 2009 and 2010 champion. This will be his 4th year running and I’d expect his class, meticulous preparation, focus and knowledge of the course will get him across the finish line first. There’ll be some battles along the way but I can see the course record being butchered.

Jonathan O’Loughlin 3-1 With an impressive 11hr 09 TNF100 result to his name this year this member of QualityMeats will be push Vizey all the way. A talented athlete with good leg speed, if he can keep focused, turn up sober and have a good day there is no reason why he couldn’t come away with the win.

David Waugh 3-1 The current race record holder from 2007 is back for a vengeance after dropping at the 100km last year. He’s bee running ultras for some time now and knows what he has to take this one out. One of only 2 people to ever go sub 24 David is a real contender.

Matt Cooper 3-1 This guy knows the course with a 2nd place finish in 100km event in 2009 and a 3rd place finish in 2010 in a little over 26hrs. Coming off the back of a super strong win at the Alpine Challenge Matt has the talent to go all the way. A real contender for a podium finish if not the win.

Philip Murphy 5-1 A seasoned veteran with the 40-49 race record to his name in a very classy 26hrs 29 minutes. This guy has run them all from Hardrock, to Western States and the legendary Coast to Kosci. Expect him to use his experience to and go slowly for the first half and then work his way through the battlefield.

Richard Mountstephens 7-1 I hear Richard is going to be in the mix. I haven’t heard a lot about him but he has some great pedigree over the shorter stuff with an excellent 7.44 at Bogong to Hotham in 2008. A member of Quality Meats he was part of the team that broke the Trailwalker record in 2010.

Wayne Gregory 8-1 Tough as old boots. Wayne holds the 50+ record of 26.56 set in 2008 which says it all. Expect Wayne to soldier on to a strong finish if fully fit.

Chris Turnbull 8-1 Another member of QualityMeats record breaking TrailWalker team, Chris will be a force to be reckoned with. After a good finish at TNF100 Chris then embarked on an epic 900km adventure from Sydney to Melbourne….to save a flower….Bonkers he is and that’s just what you need to be to finish GNW100. After pulling out at the 100km mark in 2010 Chris will be determined to finish. Expect him to go out hard.

Darrel Robins 8-1 The old man on the block has a big heart and will be hard to stop. One of Australia’s most consistent 100 miler finishes I’ll be expecting Darrel to place high. With an astounding 2nd place finish at the grueling Northburn 100 and top 5 placings at GNW100 this dude is one tough competitor. Strangely enough, expect to see him finish holding hands with someone….

Gordi Kirkbank Ellis 9-1 They don’t come much tougher than Gordi. A relative newby to the Ultra scene Gordi has run the longest and toughest ultras in Australia. After a very impressive debut 29.18 finish last year expect to see Gordi in the 26hr range.

Philip Whitten 10-1 Philip is a super strong runner with endurance and leg speed to match the best of them. With a 2nd place finish at the Alpine Challenge and an 11.38 TNF100 up his sleeve Philip will be mixing it with the best. He has a 30.24 finish in 2009 and will no doubt be looking to improve on this. Hot conditions could prove challenging.

Andy Bowen 11-1 Andy just gets better and better. Quickly become the go-to resource for ultra runners, Andy wiped 2 hours off his TNF100 time this year to run in an 11.40 time. Andy knows what to do after completing the course in 32.57 last year and he’ll be looking to smash his time. Will his fundraising challenge of playing the worlds longest golf course on foot (over 1400kms in 16 days!!!!) effect his chances here? Only time can tell. Like the rest of us ex-pats the heat could be an issue. Andy is a well known heavy sweater so cool weather may just play into his hands.

Keith Hong 12-1 Tough competitor who just last year completed the grueling Coast to Kosci. He’s been here before as a pacer, how will he cope racing? Has a lot of heart and if he can manage his nutrition and stay on course he’ll be in the hunt.

Paul Every 12-1 Another seasoned veteran who has been plying his trade for an eternity now. RD of the infamous Coast to Kosci Paul will be hoping to get through unscathed as he seeks revenge after pulling out at the 100km mark last year. Does he have the training under his belt to go the whole way? I wouldn’t bet against him.

Dan Bleakman 12-1 A member of Ultra168 Dan has the credentials to finish up well here. After getting the monkey off his back with his first 100 mile finish at Northburn earlier this year Dan will be looking to hush his critics. He has a reputation for being navigationally challenged but if he gets his bearings right this year I’d expect him to place well. Top lad to boot.

Ian Gallagher 14-1 As a 100miler virgin I’ll be happy to just finish unscathed. The heat will be a massive factor and navigation could be an issue. If I reign my neck in and control the pace at the start then there is every chance I’ll finish. If the adrenaline takes control and I set off with the big boys then expect a monster blow up. Need to get to the start line in good nick, expect a long taper.

Roger Hanney 14-1 This witty and colourful ‘withnailandi’ lookalike is taking the step up to his first 100 miler. With 3 tough 100km finishes under his belt he’s ready to let rip. If he can remain injury free and put in a solid training block then I’d expect him to finish well.

Marcus Warner 14-1 Another ex-pat 100 miler debutant, Marcus is another member of Ultra168. With consistent finishes at TNF100 and a record time in the marathon pairs this year with Vize I expect Marcus to show his grit and finish well. 100 miles is a different ball game to 100kms but he’s mixing with the right crowd and if he can get to the start line fit then there’s no reason why he wont do well.

Kelvin Marshall 16-1 Kelvin’s been around the block a few hundred times and this race shouldn’t faze him. Likes the heat and loves the long stuff but how will he cope with the trails and navigation? He went sub 30 in 2008 can he do it again this year?

Kevin Heaton 16-1 A stalwart of the ultra scene, Kevin is a regular competitor. Consistency is the key and Kevin has this in bucketloads. Likes to do it tough and has been known to bring up his insides on occasion but you wouldn’t bet against him on finishing. Hard as nails.

Bill Thompson 25-1 This man is guaranteed to finish. Bill is a true legend of the sport and has been doing these races for years. The conditions wont bother him and he’ll have a thoroughly enjoyable time out there. Holds the current over 60’s record and for good reason. The man is a human metronome and gets value for money in the races he enters. Expect a 35.45 finish or thereabouts. If all fall before him then Bill will come up trumps.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

M7 Cities Marathon

After running very little and inconsistently this month due to a persistent knee/ITB issue i was in two minds over whether or not to run. Just the day before I nipped out to the shops and just jogging 1km was an issue. Later in the day I went for a 5km tester with Phill. I tapped up my leg and the pain was manageable but i was running 1.5km/min slower than planned marathon pace. In the end I thought I would give it a crack and pull out if the pain was too much.

I woke up naturally at 3.30am before my 4am alarm went off. I decided to get up and take my time getting ready rather than rushing things - even had time to use the foam roller. Breakfast was a large bowl of porridge, cup of tea and a litre of water. I then set about taping up my knee using the method shown to me by a physio i saw a while back. I probably over did it a bit but what the heck. I also planned on running with a patella strap so popped that on to. I decided to take my ipod as i thought there would be times when id be on my own and not chatting. As it turns out I didn't have any conversations with any other runners whilst on the course.

The drive over to Blacktown Athletics Arena didn't take as long as i had planned so I sat in my car for 30 mins whilst the minibus arrived to take us to the start line.

Once there it was another wait for 90 mins and I was on the verge of hypothermia by the time we kicked off. Chatted to Buzz and Roger Hanney at the start line and then we were on our way.

The first few km's were just demoralising. The pain in my knee was excruciating and i was 95% certain I would have to pull out. I was running with a limp as the tight taping meant I couldn't bend my knee fully so i must have looked a little odd. The patt strap was also on too tight and aggravating my calf so I stopped at the 5km point and took it off. I decided to continue on firstly due to the fact that I had gotten up early to run and secondly if I pulled out I would be waiting around for ages to get a lift back to the start. I gritted my teeth and decided to nut it out to the halfway point and then reevaluate.

The course was undulating road and I was feeling really in control as I was finally able to manage my leg pain and run in a style that didn't aggravate it so much - the voltaren was probably taking effect too...

Drink stations were about 5 km's apart and i relied solely on them for my nutritional requirements. Shortly after the 16km mark i began to get a little concerned that I hadn't seen any energy gels available - i was still feeling full of beans but felt like i should be taking in some calories soon to avoid bonking later. Fortunately at around the half way mark energy gels began to appear on every other drinks station.

I went through the 21.1km mark in 1.24.30 which was spot on. This can be a bit of a boost and by this stage I had no intention of pulling out. At the aid station I grabbed 3 gels and ate them in fairly quick succession. Fortunately I have a cast iron stomach and the gels weren't too much of an issue to get down. During the course of the second half I probably had about 8 gels in total. Overkill

A few runners were beginning to fade during this stage and i proceeded to pass about 3 or 4 people and I was lucky enough not to be passed by anyone (apart from negativesplit who tore it up for the win in the half marathon pairs - great running!)

The finish was inside the athletics stadium and I recorded my fastest km of the day 3.47 for the 42 second km.

I went through the finish with a time of 2.48.27 to negative split by around 30 seconds which was a nice way to end it. My goal for the day was 2.49 so i was happy to just sneak under. Elated to finish as it was a real internal struggle not to pull out in the first half. Really chuffed to finish up under 3hrs for my first roadie.

I somehow managed to snag 3rd place and $1000 prize money!! Insane! Feel a bit like a charlatan winning this swag as my time wouldnt have made the top 10 last year. But, you gotta be in it to win it!

My plan now is to retire and live off my winnings...

Not really, what im actually going to do is rest my leg, hit the gym and work on my strength and flexibility to get myself in serious nick for Great North Walk 100 miler.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekly Update

Just 67km for the week. Ive been pretty soft due to the weather and dodgy knee.

2 decent treadmill runs on an incline had me running with zero knee pain. So this morning I went out for a 30km effort and marathon pace to see if I would hold up.

The run was from Greenwich towards Manly via The Spit Bridge and then back again. Knee was niggling after 5 or 6 km but not enough to complain. A few hills disrupted the easy rhythm but that's what i was after as im told  the M7 marathon isnt particularly flat. I went through the half marathon mark in 1hr 25 which was bang on pace then my knee really started to bother me. Thought about waiting for a bus to take me home but then realised that it was Sunday and i could be waiting hours for any public transport to turn up so I nutted out the remaining 9km and ended up with 2hrs 1 min and 32 seconds. 13 of those kilometres being sub 4 (faster than planned marathon pace) There was a fair bit of time wasted at traffic lights but it was just a training run after all. Fitness wise it felt fine, energy wise i felt excellent. I had 500ml of water and 1 gel and that was all i needed. Once my knee is better id say 2.45 for the marathon is well within reach. A couple of chiro sessions this week will hopefully get me on the start line next Sunday.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Solid Week

Knee still not right but the good news is that its not stopping me from running. Pain isnt getting any worse and it comes and goes in waves. It is stopping me from running fast but just to be out running is a bonus. I'll have to go back and see the chiro before the marathon at the end of the month otherwise it will be an uncomfortable debut.

Without going in to too much detail i finally had a solid week of training hitting 124.4km in 11hrs 21minutes with 5 days of running. Happy to hit the mark whilst also having rest days.

Run of the week would have to be the 6ft out and back with Dan Bleakman. This run is total beast and takes you from the start of the 6ft track to the top of Pluvi and back again. Highlights were crossing the freezing creeks, running mini mini, the numerous kangaroos and discussing the European dominance of ultrarunning. Low light was Nellies Glen....

Thanks Dan for a great run. Exactly what I needed!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Knee on the mend

After visting the chripractor on Wednesday and being told that my knee and hip were incorrectly tracking I took yet another day off running and resumed on Thursday with a double run. Knee started off sore on both occassions but the pain went away. Not perfect but a definite improvement. 

A weekend away in Orange was in store this saturday and sunday. I planned to test my knee and run around the local area. I had a brief look at a map and saw there was an obvious loop i could run. I figured it would be 30km at the most. I wrapped up warm as the wind chill had the temperature below freezing. The terrain was rolling hills on bitumen, dirt road and some trail thrown in for good measure. I carried a water bottle and 1 small museli bar and 20 bucks to stock up mid-way. 

I was cruising along quite nicely, my knee only being slightly irritating. I probably got a little carried away with the pace as i went though the half marathon mark in 1hr 34 but it was feeling easy. After knocking back my museli bar and the majority of my 500ml worth of water i plodded on. I was beginning to get a little anxious that i may have underestimated the distance. The area was desolate and after running through a freezing creek I was getting a little cold. Soon after the 30km mark I hit a bit of a wall. I was feeling pretty much depleted and the hills were taking it out of me. I was cooling down and the combination of a smaller than average breakfast ( i was a guest and didnt want to appear rude by having my usual mountain of food) and having stopped eating by 6pm the night before ( i would normally have a MASSIVE breakfast prior to going to sleep) meant I had hit the wall. Not a fun experience. I somehow managed to make it home in 3hrs 37 minutes covering just under 43km. Just over 800 metres of elevation which is reasonable. Plenty of walking on the last sections but i was grateful to be able to run at all. It wasnt pretty but im fairly confident that i should be ok for the marathon at the end of the month. Sub 2.50 is off the cards  as I dont think my knee will hold up but i'll give anything for a sub 3hr finish. 

Having said that, now that im running there is no way that i'll be tapering for the event. I'll no doubt take the day off beforehand but that will be it. I need to start getting in some solid miles in preparation for the Great North Walk in November. A 3 week European beach holiday over August/September isnt going to help matters but may be just the tonic i need to get over my niggling injuries - and I cannot wait!! 

78kms for the week which isnt too bad considering I wasnt able to run further than 4km's on Tuesday.

Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekly update

Well it's been a week of rest on the running front. After pulling up painfully on sunday I attempted a run on Wednesday and my right knee was super sore just 6pm in.

Yesterday I had a posture check and it turns out my right side is 10kilos heavier than my left. So im rather lopsided and this could be attributing to the knee pain.

I've been doing plenty of strengthening exercises and experimenting with different types of taping. Today I had a small run with phill and ran at her pace and knocked out a very easy 45 minute run with just a little discomfort at the end. So I think slow and steady is the way to go. Will be avoiding all speed work so I won't be attending Monday night interval sessions.

I also fished out my old orthotics and stability runners as recommended by the physio. So will stick with this for a while then slowly remove the additional items one by one as my condition improves.

All up it was around 15km for the week. Let's hope next week sees me logging some proper numbers otherwise it will be back on the rowing machine

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not Much Happening

I havent been blogging as i havent been doing a great deal.

Mileage isnt where i want it to be as i've been dealing with a niggling ITB injury. Having the patience to not run is the biggest struggle. I've been working on core strength and lots of leg exercises and stretching diligently.

70kms last week and nothing this week. Leg is feeling heaps better so i hope to slowly build up.

My plans for a debut 2.49 road marathon now looks seriously optimistic. I think im going to need to re-evaluate this based on my current level of training. I'll probably be lucky to break 3hrs. The next couple of weeks will be telling..

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weekly Summary 06/06/11 - 12/06/11

Had an ok week of running. I was interstate for work the first couple of days of the week so didnt really do too much. A couple of quick runs here and there topped off with a great recce of the Great North Walk 100 course with a few ultra legends of the sport.

Some slight knee/ITB niggles which are irritating me - if this continues i'll have to look to get down to the acupuncturist to fix me up.

Monday - 5.56km - 21min 48 secs - 3.55min/km
Quick run whilst in Melbourne around a local park. Felt relatively easy and would have happily knocked off 10km at that pace if i had the time.

Wendesday - 22km - 1hr 34min 43sec - 4.18min/km
Run from work to Frenchs Forest. Felt pretty strong the whole way. Happy with the run.

Thursday - 13.62km - 54min 23sec - 3.59min/km
Another boring road run. Went out a bit too quick and felt like packing it in after 6km then came good again a few km's later.

Saturday - 41.32km - 4hrs 11mins - 6.04min/km
Awesome time running with Andrew Vize and Darrel Robins of 'Ultra168' and Beth and Brian Cardelli. We ran part of the Great North Walk course from Checkpoint 4 - 6. Will be a super tough run in November with the heat but I cant wait. Andrew has written a more eloquent write up here.

Sunday - 10.20km - 52min 41sec - 5.09min/km
Recovery run around the Cascades. Keeping my heart rate low (142 bpm) - something I havent done in a long time. Due to the excessive rain the creeks were overflowing which was good fun. Felt easy but my right knee was playing up. Need to get rolling.

Total - 92.67km - 7hrs 55mins

I finally feel like i'm getting back into the swing off things after TNF100. Body certainly not 100% but I dont think it ever has been. Will be looking to work on speed in the upcoming weeks which means mileage will suffer but thats cool. Its great to change it up and i'll have plenty of opportunities for big mileage running in the lead up to GNW later this year.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Best run ever!

I wont bore you with a weekly summary as i havent even hit 100km for the week, this being as its only my first proper week of running since TNF100 just over 2 weeks ago.

Today however I had what felt like the most enjoyable run ever. The route is just over 12.7km and is out and back over a fairly rough and hilly trail with 3 deep streams through it.

I last run this about 6 months ago in a then record time of 1hr 1minute and 30 seconds.

Today I just felt awesome and everything fell into place. I felt like i was flying the whole way apart from when i stacked it 2km in and shredded my body to ribbons - just a minor hiccup in what was otherwise the perfect run for me.

I made it to the fininsh in 54 minutes and 57 seconds shaving over 6 minutes off my previous time. With over 250 metres of elevation on this short run i felt like this was a pretty solid effort.

Feels good to be back!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Recovery and future plans

It's been a week now since TNF100 and my recovery is going well. Left itv is a little sore but apart from that I feel pretty good. I haven't done any running to speak of and I don't plan on getting back into it for another week. The aim is to really give my body a good chance to recover.

My planned racing schedule for the year
Is shaping up to look like the m7 cities marathon, possibly poor mans comrades, Sri chinmoy half, Sydney marathon, fitzroy falls marathon then top it off with the Great North Walk 100 (sprint option), not necessarily in that order.

Time to get back on the booze wagon and regain my focus for a big second half to the year.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The North Face 100 - Race Report

It's been a year and and 9 months since i started running, only managing a meagre 8km's in the beginning.

Its been exactly 12 months since the last TNF100 event where I was over the moon to finish in 13hrs 28 minutes really off the back of very little training.

This year I went into the race fitter and faster with ambitions to break the 13hr mark and if i was lucky then possibly the 12hr mark.

My training had been fairly varied. Practically no trail running which isnt ideal but plenty of fast road running. The only specific training on the course was the Mt Solitary marathon 3 weeks earlier. It was during this race and a proceeding training session that i severely strained both calves = zero training for 3 weeks before the race.

I located my trainers on the Friday which were still stuffed with newspaper to dry them out from Mt Solitary. I was a little alarmed to see a rather large whole on the side. With no back up choices these would have to do.

I toed the line at 6.50 with my left shoe wrapped with duct tape whilst chatting to other runners Andy Bowen and NickW.

Andy beat me by a few minutes last year and he mentioned he wouldnt be going 100% this year due to his other commitments. Sandbagger....

The start was reasonably quick and i settled into a comfortable rhythm and within a few kms was running with Devon Crosby-Helms (ultra running extraordinaire and recent Olympic Trials Qualifier). Good fun chatting shop with her until around the 15km mark before i decided to push on. By this stage the duct tape was gone from my shoes so i ran then next 75kms with half my right foot hanging out the shoe. Not ideal. The shoes are now in a bin.

The Golden Stairs came and went without too much trouble and before I knew it i was at cP1 refuelling and feeling pretty good. From CP1 to CP2 I spent a lot of time chatting with Kevin and commenting on the scenery. Just after CP2 Kevin and I caught up with Pipi and we were all in good spirits. Kevin and I took turns leapfrogging each other for a while and i opened up a small gap going into ironpot ridge. This section sucked last year and it sucked again this year. My lack of trail running really slows me down on the technical stuff but i managed to remain on 2 feet and not trip up.

Passed Andy Bowen at this stage so i guessed i must have had about a 10 minute lead on him which i found worrying as he was 'taking it easy'..

Soon after this i started to feel pretty bad. My lower half was just hurting. Shins, tendons, ligaments, muscles, everything was hurting. I was entertaining thoughts of pulling out at CP3 but was hoping the boost of seeing my girlfriend and a pizza would fix things up.

Well i arrived sooner than expected and to my dismay there was no pizza van. or girlfriend. So on i trudged and just before I left the checkpoint i saw girlfriend. I screamed out that i would meet her at CP4 and told her to bring some drugs.

CP3 to CP4 was just painful. A complete battle to run and i had to walk at many points even on the flat. Pretty disheartening. Kevin and others quickly left me at this stage. Felt great to finally get to CP4. Fortunately the missus was there with some panadol and a bonus - big bag of pizza! This lifted my spirits. I had gels and all the sugary crap so to get some proper food in was great. I left CP4 with a relative spring in my step which soon left me as i came to the dreaded downhills. By far and away the worst part of the course for me. Its here when I should really be able to eat up the kms but my body is just useless at downhill running. Everything was screaming out in pain and I had to do my old trick of running downhill backwards. I got passed by a few people along here some of those being the marathon pairs runners.

Was a total relief when i started the climb up Kedumba. My legs had no trouble at all with the inclines and I was making good ground. Passed a couple of people who had passed me on the downhill and nearing the top i caught up with Andrew Lee (2 time winner and previous course record holder). Very surprised to see him but pretty obvious he was injured. Absolutely top bloke. In a world of pain himself as he mentioned he had injured his knee. Didnt sound in the slightest bit sorry for himself, he said it was one of those days and that was that. Not too many other elite athletes who would persevere until the end like that. Humbling experience and gave me the kick up the back side that i needed to get moving again.

Running up to CP5 I passed a nice a guy from Tassie and then I was in and out of CP5 pretty quickly. I could see a couple of runners up ahead and I kept them in my sight until we hit the single track. Well, this leg totally killed me. Again my lack of technical trail skills were overwhelmingly obvious and i lost a lot of time here prancing over the rocks slowly like a fairy. I wasnt overly impressed with myself but by that stage i had given up caring. It was during this leg last year that Andy Bowen came flying past out of the blue, so i was half expecting the same thing to happen again. Fortunately I didnt get passed I crossed the line in 11.32 for 15th position.Very very pleased with that. Not long after Pipi, Andy Bowen and the first female all came through. If the race had of been any longer I would have easily been passed. It will be a few years before I make a jump up to 100 milers. By body just wouldnt be able to handle it yet.

Kilian Jornet took out first place in staggering 9hrs 19 minutes looking fresh as a daisy. What an athlete!

No doubt i'll be back next year - i just hope the field will be as strong.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mt Solitary Ultra Marathon - Race Recap

I entered this race intending to run at about 80% as a last long run prior to TNF100. I had been camping out in Capertee for a few days prior so my preparation of boozing and lounging around wasnt the best but I was only intending to go out and enjoy myself.

I did have any time in mind for the day, I told my girlfriend id probably be done at some point after 6hrs as I was meeting them somewhere for lunch.

Got to the start line, had a chat with the only person I knew (KAOS) from NRG, positioned myself at the front for a change and then we were off.

Settled into a nice rythm early on. Keeping an eye on my pace I was probably doing 3.40s on the flats and dropping it down to the low 3's on the decent but feeling comfortable and running well within myself.

Crossed over the creek, well actually practically fell in the creek, and then it was the longest scramble of my life up Mt Solitary.

I was wearing my crappiest pair of trainers ( i only realised this at the start line) with huge holes in them and I was having issues with my laces coming undone due to the mud and crap, So i had to stop every now and again to do these up. Probably did this 20 times throughout the day.

I remember climbing Mt solitary thinking it was strange that no-one had caught me but i was happy to be where i was and I was in no doubt that the rest of the gang would catch up. Having never been to MT solitary before I had no idea how big it was and it just seemed to go on forever. I think had I known in advance I may have slowed myself down a notch.

Soon after reaching the top 2 runners came by as i was yet again doing up my laces. Beaver introduced himself and I guessed the other runner was Fats having read all about his amazing 6ft exploits not too long ago. I was in fine company. Slightly daunting at the same time too..

The first thing i noticed was Beavers gaiters wishing i had a pair of those (if your reading this, where did you get them from?)

The second thing i noticed was that they were both looking extremely comfortable and having a good old chat whilst motoring along.

Soon after they caught up with me I snagged my water bladder on a branch so I was without water for 10kms. Not ideal..Luckily it was a cold wet day so it didnt feel too bad.

Nutrition wise I didnt pack much. A couple of minature twirls and 3 museli bars. I managed to ration this out until the end having a bite to eat every hour.

Beaver, Fats and I then ran together for most of the way to the stairs. We all took turns at being in front at various stages. At some point, Fats and I lost Beaver but he soon caught back up on the stairs. He was making really good ground and passed me easily. I made it to the checkpoint just as they were leaving. I was eager to get going to catch the others up but fortunately Buzz saw that my bladder had split and forced me to carry a couple of powerades in my backpack. At the time i wasnt keen but an hour later i was extremely grateful. So thanks heaps guys for knocking some sense into me.

Once out of the aid station it was back down the stairs. Quite an experience. Almost lost my life on a few occassions but no long term damage. I was told my other runners that the lead men were only a couple of minutes ahead so i just concentrated on running as best as i could in the hope that i would see them again.

The 2 minutes of lead they both had soon turned into 5 minutes then 6 minutes as i started to tire. I knew at that stage I wasnt going to be in contention so I just made sure not to do anything stupid.

The long decent into the valley was excruciatingly painful. Seemed to go on and on and on. Have never been so relieved to see a hill to climb. I made an effort to run as much as possible and power hike the parts i couldnt run. Set myself a target of finishing in under 5.15 to keep myself honest and I just about made it. All up my effort was more likely 90% than 80% but its hard to reign down the competitive spirit.

8 cleansing beers later and a night spent on a blowup mattress has made for an interesting recovery. This is the first race where my upper body has been sore. I have to put this down to the scramble up Mt Solitary.

Looking forward to next year already and now i know what im in for i'll spend less time running on the road and more on the trails. Still, I dont think any amount of prepartion will fully equip me for the beast that is Mt Solitary.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weekly Summary 10/04/11 - 17/04/11

Super pumped for the Mt Solitary 45km on Easter Monday.

Total elevation 3000 meters and you have to carry compulsory survival gear. Not your average marathon...

No idea how this one is going to pan out but im going to give it a real good crack. As long as I manage to stay on 2 feet and not do anything stupid I should finish up respectably.

This week has been a taper like last week and the week before....I guess ive been concentrating more on speedwork and as a result distance has suffered. I'm not going to make any great gains by ramping out 50km runs now until May 14th so no point putting myself in injury's way. Really happy with the way my running is going when I do actually make it out for a run...

Monday - Standard run to NRG then some really good hill sprints. Felt super strong and pushed it hard to the point where I almost felt like throwing up. Recovered easily enough. Averaging 3.19min/kms on the 500m loops. Heart rate maxed out at 192bpm
(PM) 10.56km - 50min - 4.44min/km
(PM) 10.38km - 49min 48sec -4.48min/km

Tuesday - Easy run home
(PM)11km - 46min 46sec - 4.14min/km

Wednesday - Rest and pizza day

Thursday - Run home on a shorter route. Pushed the pace though and felt pretty strong.
(PM) 9km - 35min 17sec - 3.54min/km

Friday - Normal run home. Those stairs and hills from the bridge and up to North Sydney still kill me. However this was a record run for me so very pleased.
(PM) 11km - 42min 55sec - 3.53min/km

Saturday - Raining hard outside but i ventured out and decided to hit the road rather than get bogged down in the bush. Planned to do 20km at a reasonable pace. Probably set out a bit too fast and was feeling pretty rough only 3km's in. Told myself to run on to 5km and see how i feel and fortunately I started to regain some composure. Set out to run the first 10km in an average of 4.05min/kms but was delighted to hit the turnaround  in 38min 25secs.  Still feeling composed i turned round and held the pace all the way home. In actual fact I was in such a good rhythm I wished I was running a marathon as it was one of those days when everything clicked. Well on pace to smash my recent half marathon pb. A real confidence builder and a total surprise. A quicker second half had me finish up in 1hr 15mins and 50secs
(AM) 20km - 1hr15min 50sec - 3.47min/km (500ml water)

Sunday - Nice easy recovery run down to the Rotary Field. Wanted to check this out as im interested in doing some formal speed sessions at some point over the course of the year. Just over 5km away so wouldnt be a bad warmup to get there.
(PM) 11.33km - 49min 30sec -

Total - 83.33km - 5hr 50min 16secs

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Reduced Weekly Summary

Didn't mean to run such little mileage this week but thats the way it turned out.

I was interstate on Wednesday and Thursday and used the time to enjoy myself and break from running and then  today I didnt do anything as my achilles were both a little sore. I figured ive already built up a pretty decent base so not point going for overkill for the sake of it so close to race date.

Had a tough sprint session on Monday which was on the flat - I didnt hold back and did 8 all out 100 metre sprints. Felt great doing this but always regret it the next day as my hamstrings were sore for most of the week.

A highlight or actually a lowlight was Saturdays run. I had planned 50km around Bobbin Head but got up late and hadnt planned on the day being too hot. I probably set out a little too fast particularly after the fast 20km the night before and slowly died once i had exited the national park after the good climb. I had only enough money for a train fare and couldnt bare the thought of running 12 more kms home as i was beginning to overheat and my achilles were sore so I jacked it in. Probably a sensible approach. I have never been more covered in salt. My arms, face, bag, and shirt were all caked in it.

So another light week and I doubt I'll be doing anything above 100km from now until Mt Solitary Marathon on Easter Monday then The North Face 100.

Monday (PM) 10.36km - 49min 5sec - 4.44min/km
              (PM) 10.79 - 56min 41sec - 5.15min/km

Tuesday (PM) 11km - 48min 56sec - 4.26min/km

Friday (PM) 20km - 1hr 23sec - 4.09min/km

Saturday (AM) 38.29km - 3hr 3min 27sec - 4.47min/km

Total - 90.45km - 7hrs 1min

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekly Summary 28/03/11 - 03/04/11

Pulled up pretty well from last Sundays half marathon and threw myself back into training. Oh yeah, it turns out I was second by just 5 seconds.....
Really need to do more trail running as thats been lacking in recent weeks but overall ive been enjoying myself.
Mileage not high but ive certainly increased the pace. After reading The Lore of Running i've decided to put more quality runs in without overdoing it. Amazing what the body is capable of.

Monday was my standard run to NRG then a really hard session. Must have been 12 long hill sprints - killer. Having said that my legs werent feeling too bad from the effort the day before but i was glad when it was over.
(PM) 9.92km - 46min 29sec - 4.41min/km
(PM) 10.68km - 57min 47sec - 5.24min/km

Tuesday was a real slow run home. Made a conscious effort to slow right dow and keep my HR well under 150bpm.
(PM) 11.20km - 52min 10 sec - 4.39min/km

Wednesday I was feeling good as new. Pushed the pace home and felt great.
(PM) 11km - 46min 12sec - 4.11min/km  (500ml water)

Thursday was a longish run over to Neutral Bay with a couple of really good long hills thrown in. Felt super strong and maintained a decent clip the whole way.
(PM) 20km - 1hr 21min 32sec - 4.04min/km (500ml water)

Friday - Set my alarm to get up early then turned it off in the morning and rolled over and went to sleep. Out on the beers in the evening. Probably have more rest days now im picking the pace up a bit.

Saturday - Didnt have a plan in mind so I headed out the door and ended up in Vaucluse. Hammering the hills around there and double bay. 738meters of climbing. Felt pretty lively and turned round after i realised i had hit 20km. Hadnt bothered to check my watch prior.
(AM) 39km - 2hrs 50min - 4.21min/km (500ml water + 500ml gatorade + 5 cubes of dark choccy)

Sunday - Legs felt fine and didnt want to run too far after Saturdays effort. Just up and down pacific highway speeding up on the hills and running hard on the flat. Felt strong but was a hard session.
(AM) 18km - 1hr 10min 32sec - 3.55min/km (500ml water)

Total - 119.82km - 8hrs 44mins 44sec