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!