Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Less than a week...

...Until entries open for the Routeburn Classic.  I have nightmares that I will sleep in and miss out.  Can't wait.

Super Seven #2

The concept is simple, seven fun runs, 7km each, seven weeks in a row.  I missed the first run in the series, but rocked up last night after work, on one of the warmer evenings that 2013 has provided so far.  There were hundreds of people there, babies in push chairs, kids, teens, parents, athletes and amateurs.

In the golden haze of the warm evening sun, we were counted down to the start, and dashed off over the grass.  The field was so large and bottle necked for the first km that everyone was forced to a walk through some of the narrower sections.

It was quite a new experience starting a run with so many people, and quite the bolster to my self esteem to be able to pass so many other runners until I settled into a group of similar pace.  I find it hard not to pass other runners just for the fierce and competitive joy of passing (I inevitably slow down after the pass, and they pass me again, probably laughing), but managed to reel in my pride, and settled into a steady pace after a fast couple of km. 

The course itself was lovely, and followed the river, complete with TWO drinks stations and smiling marshals at every turn.  The pace was faster that I have been used to for the longer runs and half marathons I have been completing, so I tried to treat this fun run as counting towards my speed training for the week. 

I finished fast and strong, pulling out all the stops for the last km and really pushing hard over the last couple of hundred meters to the finish.  Now that I am familiar with the course I will be able to pace myself better in future attempts.

I saw some fab footage today of Anna Frost running up Mt Taranaki, it was an education to see her speed and form, and that her success comes not from madly bashing up the side of mountains red faced and exhausted (like a faster version of myself), but that she is amazingly fit, seemingly galloping up the mountainside at about 100km/hr without even breaking a sweat or getting out of breath. Wow.  But then I suppose that is why she is an international superstar.

Only a couple of sleeps to go until the Tussock Traverse! Exciting!  It looks as through the weather will be good, so I am really looking forward to a run in the mountains, crisp alpine air and brilliant views.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hutt River Trail Event

We started off bright and early for the drive to Petone, the weather looking grey and menacing.  I hadn't done any running in the week leading up to this half marathon trail run because I felt an inkling of a cold, and didn't want to invite the full-blown sickness by stressing my body.  This lack of training made me feel a bit nervous and under-prepared.

The small contingent of runners for the half marathon leg piled into the shuttle to transport us to the start line.  During the ride, my per-race nerves set in stronger than ever. The other entrants looked wildly fit and streamlined, and I had to remind myself over and over again that I was running this race against myself.  I even found myself wondering if, with my weeks gap in training, I would still even be able to run, would my legs still work?

A few more runners joined us at the start line, and we stood, stretched and warmed up in the freezing morning wind, cheering the marathon and ultra marathon runners from the same event as the headed past.  Eventually we counted down to the start, and set off.  I found myself running next to another young competitor, and we started chatting, laughing that we were only just keeping pace with the race walkers.

My new companion had an impressive running CV, having completed the London Marathon (among others), several races in the UK (her home country) and was running three races this weekend (including the one we were enjoying).  She told me that she was planning to enter a 90km ultra marathon in South Africa.  WOW.  As the race progressed we talked about life, the universe and everything, mostly laughing.  It was a new experience to share the run with someone else, and to be able to keep up a conversation along the whole route.  Our running pace was rather similar, but my companion could have kept going all day I think and had heaps in reserve to boost it to the finish line.  The trail itself followed the river, which was mostly obscured by trees, and was flat with some gentle undulations.

The good company and the conversation meant that half the distance was completed before I even noticed.  The other competitors were friendly and encouraging as we passed, and I really enjoyed giving the ultra marathon runners a cheer as they powered past - heros every one.

I carried my Camelbak, and guzzled down plenty of water and a couple of GU chomps as well as a gel towards the final 5km mark.  I had a lot more energy for this race (compared with the Three Bridges Half), and ran the whole distance without a single walking break.  I started the race wearing three layers, but as the race progressed the weather improved, and became quite hot and humid, so I shed a couple, much to the humor of my companion, who couldn't believe I was wearing so much.

We picked up the pace with only a couple of km to go.  I was starting to fade, but my friend urged me on, refusing to let me give an inch.  I pushed harder and, feeling like I was going to puke, forced my legs to keep pumping all the way to the finish, receiving the obligatory post-race banana (delicious) and lift plus (revolting).  After lying on the ground and regaining control of my breathing and vomit reflex (without chucking, I proudly add), my new friend and I guzzled chocolate milk (much, much nicer than yucky lift plus, and a much better recovery drink).  She is also planning to run the Tussock Traverse next weekend, and I am looking forward to seeing a familiar face at the next race.

Having running company was really nice, and confirms that I should join my local running club - it is so nice to be able to share like experiences, advice and stories, and very nice to laugh my way through a whole half marathon.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I am pleased to announce the full return of my running mojo!  I have felt well energized and motivated all week, and have enjoyed a couple of really good (and rewarding) runs.  I have entered my first running event of 2013 (the Hutt Valley Trail Event) which is on next weekend (excited!) and have even managed to earn a little extra money to help fuel my running habit.

The most exciting news of all it that I have finally found an excellent steep hill training ground, which has quelled all of my angst about getting enough hill work in before the Routeburn Classic.   The 14km return trail climbs 300m (almost straight up) before following the ridge-line and descending the same distance to the turn around point, then returning via the same route.  On Thursday I did ran the whole 300m climb (which was wicked) with only a couple of 30 sec pauses.  It was definitely hard work, but beaut running through trees to emerge so much higher up at the look out.  I saw heaps of walkers and a couple of other runners, so it is a popular trail.  The downhill return felt longer than the initial uphill slog, and I was careful to keep my stride in check and to try and minimise the impact on such a steep slope. It was such a nice feeling to run down thinking ("holy crap, I ran up this? that's steep and consequently rather impressive").  My quads and gluts have been reminding me of how well I did, and its nice to know that I have given my muscles a bit of a run for their money, and working on something new.

My next goal is to make the entire climb without stopping, and then to be able to complete the return climb without stopping too!  Its fantastic to have found a really challenging training ground.

My friend Kristy is planning to enter the AMI Round the Bays 1/2 marathon that I am also planning to run.  She is light-years faster than me, and stands a good chance of doing really well if she achieves her sub 1:30 goal (the sort of time that I can only dream of at this stage, but then I suppose that the field needs some rather slow runners, to make the fast runners feel really good about their excellence).  It will be nice to enter an event with a friend (even though she will finish an hour before me :-) GO KRISTY GO!

Next week, the local running club starts hosting weekly 7km fun runs which I am planning to attend for some extra and sightly faster paced training, so I have heaps of running-y goodness to look forward to.

Yay for running and yay for 2013.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I have read quite a few articles about over-doing the training; articles that proclaim the benefits of rest, relaxation and recovery, accounts that warn of runners that don't pay attention to the niggles and pains that are really your body telling you to take a break, and blogs about athletes whose bodies give out under the stress of heat, effort and endurance.  But the question I occasionally (and somewhat recently) struggle with is really knowing when to rest, or when to push on.

Surely 3/4 of the way through a challenging race that I am well prepared for is not the time to give in to the niggles and the exhaustion, I need to "push-through" to reach my goals, to achieve more and to better my running self (ahh, such a metaphor for life et cetera).  But then how do I apply this tactic to training?

Last week I covered more than 90km in seven days of runs.  The individual runs varied in distance, speed, terrain and environment, likewise my energy and stamina varied.  A weekly distance of 90km is a goal that I would like to maintain, and I have built up to this sort of distance over a reasonably long time, but this week I just haven't had the energy (or the motivation) to do the same sort of distance.

After a couple of days I began to wonder if I had unwittingly achieved the dreaded over doing it.  The worst thing has been the lack of motivation (I don't normally need an excuse to get out the door), and I thought that maybe I had reached the end of my running road (again with the metaphors).  So despite a lot of me feeling that I should be out training, but not actually wanting to get out there and do it, I decided instead to try a bit of resting.

Every runner knows that sitting about when you are used to clocking up kilometers is hard, but I decided to listen to that inner voice, and chose not to head out the door again until I felt motivated to - on some level my body would know that I was ready to go again, and my motivation would be allowed back.

This tactic lasted for two days, then I headed out for some interval training, just a little light sprinting and sweating, I enjoyed the run, but still didn't feel that I had the same up-and-go I was used too.  A couple of days later I took the dog to the beach and incorporated a short run in the sand dunes (a quad and lung workout and a half) and felt refreshed and elated afterwards.

I got some back issues of Runners World from the library, as well as some training guides, and made myself sit on the couch for the rest of the week, absorbing advice and enjoying other runners' stories... and magically the motivation and my energy levels have come creeping back.

I am planning to ease back into my training regime with some shorter runs to begin with.  I want to continue to increase my weekly mileage, stamina and endurance, but the trick will be to achieve that without sacrificing my ability (or urge) to train at all.