3 Weeks to RTB – Recap of week 2

I posted my 5 week plan that I made for leading up to Wellington Round the Bays half marathon and the update on the first week on how things went. This is my second week update!

This is a recap of how the second week went. It was an relatively easy week of running with a few rest days leading on to my first event of this year The Tussock Traverse 26k trail run. So here is what happened in week 2.

Monday – 21st Jan – REST DAY! Apart from going for a walk I just chilled out. And being a public holiday (Wellington Anniversary day) it was nice just to chill out!

Tuesday – 22nd Jan – planned 10k @ 80% effort at about 4:40 pace. Managed to do this relatively easily with even splits. Jogged 1k so total of 11ks.

Wednesday – 23rd Jan – 14k run at about 4:30 pace. I did about 12kms at this pace and slowed down the last 2km to recover. Total 14kms done.

Thursday – 24th Jan – 10km easy pace as a recovery run. Did this one at about 5:30 pace. Lots of stretching and foam rolling to relax the muscles before the Saturday race.

Friday – 25th Jan – REST DAY! Drove to Tongariro National Park!

Saturday – 26th JanThe Tussock Traverse – read the full race recap here!

Sunday – 27th Jan – Rest day! Easy 2hr walk in Natiional Park and a relaxing day!

RTB Week 2 Recap

RTB Week 2 Training Recap

So here’s to the next three weeks of running leading up to Wellington Round The Bays remaining injury free!

The Tussock Traverse 26km trail run – race recap

Last Friday (25th) after work I headed up north to Tongariro National Park to take part in The Tussock Traverse, a 26km trail run that cuts across the heart of the World Heritage Tongariro National Park.

After arriving at National Park village I went to the race headquarters in The Park Travellers Lodge. There I picked up my registration pack, timing chip and got checked for the compulsory gear check. The event is well organised by Total Sport who do a number of other great off road trail and mountain biking events. This was my second time doing the Tussock Traverse having done the event in 2012. For the 26km run event the number of runners are limited to the first 500. This trail run starts off at the Desert Road on the Eastern side of the National Park and taking in the Rangipo Desert and Waihohonu traverse track, finishes at the Chateau Tongariro in Whakapapa village.

The forecast for Saturday (event day) was fine with temperatures of up to 24c, which translated to being “It’s going to be a scorcher, take lots of water with you”. Since the event is in a protected area there are no drink stations along the way & you have to carry your supply of water with you.

For this race, here is what I opted for to comply with the gear check regardless of what the weather man predicted.

  • 2 litres of water in hydration pack (usually enough for me for about 3+ hrs run)
  • 400ml bottle of Powerade
  • 4 mini mars bars – mini mars bars are my standard for any trail run over 1 hrs duration
  • 1 sachet of Gel – GU – Lemon sublime flavor
  • Thermal blanket
  • Pair of thermal gloves and beanie
  • Light wind proof/water proof jacket
  • 1 very torn Icebreaker 260 (been with me for over 6 years) which I wore to race start and ditched to be transported back to race end

Friday evening was a nice evening in Whakapapa village where we stayed. We went for a short walk and then after having dinner (a very nice vegetable pasta) at the Pihanga cafe went to bed around 11pm.
As usual the night before the race sleep wasn’t great. I wasn’t that much worried about it since my body felt rested so just lying in bed was enough for me, sleep did come eventually & overall I think I slept for 3-4 hours.

Saturday 26th morning I woke up around 5:45am and had breakfast around 6:30. My usual race day breakfast is toasted crumpets with peanut butter & a couple of bananas about 2hrs before race start.

Because this race was point to point there was a bus ride to the race start from Whakapapa village at 7:45am. The ride takes about 1.5hrs to race start at the Tukino Ski field which is on the Rangipo desert road. The landscape is amazing on this ride. I sat next to another runner & we talked the usual running related stuff, how long he’s been running to what other running events he’s planning, running shoes, hydration tablets, online shopping for running gear, training & being injury free. He was from the UK living in Rotorua and after we arrived at race start the obligatory “good luck mate” & we were both off to queue up to the 8 porta loos that was there. Because the race was held in a conservation area the organisers asked everyone to use the provided loos instead of going bush, apparently last year it wasn’t so & DoC (Department of Conservation) doesn’t like that.

So anyways, the race start was at 10am there was plenty of time for everyone to have that all important pit stop before the race start. Since it was a very warm day the event organisers had plenty of water & electrolyte drinks available at the start & you could do a refill if needed before the start.

Since I had done this race last year I had a plan in my head on how to approach the race & I had last years data from my Garmin. I wanted to finish this year in 2:45 & mentally I knew this was achievable, however I didn’t really want to take any risks on the technical parts of the trail & twist an ankle by pushing for pace. It was also very warm so I knew that fluid intake will also need to be balanced.

The race started & off we all went. The first 2km  or so is all uphill on a 4wd track – this is where the climbing speed goats get the better of me. I was in the middle pack & kept an easy pace running and speed walking in congested places. My target was to get to the top in 20mins & then pick up speed on the immediate descent to a valley through a partly rocky downhill trail. The descent is tricky & you have to concentrate on the trail because of loose rock, stone & very easily a wrong step can mean the end to your run with a twisted ankle. I got through this section without any incidents & settled into an easy paced run alongside another runner. The field was getting spread out at this stage & I passed a few people. A quick glance at my Garmin & my pace was on target as I passed 6k in about 40mins ! Time for hydration & I drank a few sips of water from he hydration pack. Right only another 20k to go!

The next 4k is along a dry stream bed & the ground was pretty soft with gravel & sand so there was more effort in each step, I still kept up on same pace & was now running with another couple of runners. 10k marker is the last extraction point & there was a cutoff time at this point if anyone took longer than 3hrs. I passed 10k in about 1hr 7mins slightly off my predicted pace to finish in 2:45 but still OK & feeling pretty good. I had a mars bar at the start of the next climb & water along with a gulp of Powerade.

The next part of the trail is pretty scenic with views of Mount Ngauruhoe & the surrounding area. Next is a few undulations along with a couple of climbs. The trail is also quite narrow so passing becomes impossible if the person(s) you are behind don’t want to give way. I felt that I could have run a bit faster if I had the chance, for about 5k I was off my pace until I found a clearing to overtake the 4 runners in front of me. One of them was probably feeling the same as she also kept up with me after I took off.

By the 18k mark I was feeling it a bit in my legs & lungs so I had half of my GU Gel along with water & some of the Powerade. This slowed me down but not too much & I could see another group of runners in front so I kept up pace up the next incline to the 20k mark where I caught up to them. From here it’s mostly downhill & I felt pretty good & just put the hammer down running quite freely cause I knew it was only another 6k to go!! I was able to pass quite a few runners on the last 5k & I was home in 2hrs 50mins & 16secs! Overall I was 73rd & 66th in the Mens section. In my age group 20-39 men’s group I placed 45th.

Finishing in 2hrs 50min 16secs

ME: Finishing in 2hrs 50min 16secs

Pretty happy with the net result & my overall improvement of 15mins from my time of 3hrs 05mins in 2012.

The overall winner was Matt Bailey, who finished in 2hrs 05mins! Women’s Race winner was Katy Dawson in 2hrs 29mins.

Tussock Traverse Map

Tussock Traverse Map

Below is my overall improvement comparison from 2012 and 2013. In 2013 I’ve spent less energy but run faster with a lower heart rate. All indications that overall my training is working well!

Tussock Comparison

Tussock Traverse Comparison of data 2012 vs 2013

Tussock Elevation Profile

Tussock Elevation Profile

The Tussock Traverse is definitely a must do trail run if you are into trails. It supports the Project Tongariro Conservation Trust & part of the entry fees go towards conservation of this area. The event is very well organised by the Total Sport guys!

Thanks for reading!

Trail Running in Wellington – Part 1 – Polhill Track

One of the great things about being in a place like Wellington is that you are not too far away from a trail and can easily escape from just pounding the pavement. As a runner it’s important to add some variety to your runs and trail running is definitely one of the best options available.

Running on trails is actually highly recommended for all runners because of a number of reasons:

  • It allows different parts of your leg muscles to be activated
  • Slows you down and is easy on the legs (going up anyways)
  • Builds leg power and strength
  • Potentially leads to lower injury risk
  • Gives variety and gets you to explore new places and enjoy your run more!

Read this article from Runners World on why Trail running is good for every runner.

Anyways I’m pretty hooked on trails and about 60% of my runs I try and incorporate a trail run when I can.

So one of my favorite trail loop is the Polhill track. The track starts in Aro Valley and goes up to Brooklyn and is a gradual climb over about 4-5ks from the trail start. The loop I do starts at Ferg’s kayaks on the waterfront and follows the waterfront towards Taranaki street and then cross over to Aro street and run up to the start of the track (There is a big sign on your left going up Aro saying “Polhill Reserve”.

From the start you gradually go up (it’s a gentle incline so don’t think it’s a big hill) towards Ashton Fichett drive in Brooklyn or towards Karepa Street. I usually go towards Highbury Road then continue onto Kelburn and then back down via the Botanic gardens to Fergs. Total distance about 12ks and it takes about 60-70mins to complete the loop depending on your ‘easy’ pace. The total elevation gain is about 262meters.

Halfway through you get this awesome view of Wellington!

Polhill Track View

Polhill Track View over Wellington

Polhill Loop

Polhill Track Loop 12kms

Elevation Profile

Polhill Track Elevation

Polhill Track Elevation

There you have it – I usually run this loop on one of my easy days Wednesday or Thursday – so if anyone wants to come along get in touch via @74running

Happy Trails until the next trail!

5km Races are good for you..

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got early when I started running went along like this.

Person X: So what what race are you training for?
Me: I’m hoping to do a half marathon!
Person X: Have you run a half marathon before?
Me: Yes I’ve done one, I’m hoping to better my time in the next one.
Person X: How fast can you run a 5k race?

I’m wondering at this point – hmm why does it matter how fast I can run a 5k if I’m training for a half?

Me: I think in about 25-30mins..
Person X: well, you should train to run a fast 5k & you’ll be able to run a fast half marathon.

And then he went onto explain why this is.

To run a fast half marathon, you have to be able to run a fast 10k, to run a fast 10k you need to run a fast 5k and in order to run a fast 5k you have to run a fast 1k!

The 5k distance is a good measure for testing your cardiovascular strength. I’ve been incorporating at least one 5k race into my training schedule week in week out to help get my legs speed up.

Since starting to run the regular 5k races my speed endurance has increased considerably. So if you are just starting out sign up for a local 5k race. There are lots of 5k runs throughout the year & for some events you only need to show up ( http://www.parkrun.co.nz ) there is no cost involved. 5k events run by some of the local athletics clubs charge about $5-$10 which usually includes a free drink post race & the chance to meet some other runners. I am regularly at the Wellington Scottish water front 5k in Wellington (Tuesday at 5:30) & Lower Hutt Parkrun (Saturday at 8:00am).

Hope to see you at one of 5k races & happy running!

4 Weeks to RTB – Recap of last week

I posted my 5 week plan that I made for leading up to Wellington Round the Bays half marathon.

This is a recap of how the first week went. It was a big week of running with no rest days from Monday to Sunday. So here is what happened.

Monday – 14th Jan – planned 14km easy run. It was a wet day & the rain made for an interesting outing. Coming from a day of rest on Sunday the run was pretty easy & I cruised it pretty easy in the morning despite the heavy rain. Actual distance an easy 15kms in about 5min per Km on average.

Tuesday – 15th Jan – planned 5k race @ 80% effort and a 5k recovery after, so a total of 10ks. I was supposed to run each Km at about 4m 15s however I pushed it a bit & the competitive side got the better of me finishing the race at an average of 4min 05s & posting my second fastest 5km race time for the Waterfront course in 20min 20secs. Took a 5min break & then did an easy jog/walk of 5km as planned as recovery. So far so good.

Wednesday – 16th Jan – 20km Hill run or 2hrs plus hills. Typically I save my hill runs for Saturday or Sunday, this week I wanted to break the pattern & see what will happen with a middle of the week hill run. Weather was pretty good on Wednesday & it was pretty warm when I headed out at around 7am. I also wanted to use this run to check my gear for the 26km trail run Tussock Traverse on 26th Jan (next Saturday). The route I chose for this run was a loop starting from the Waterfront. It’s one of my favourite runs including some of Wellingtons great trails. (Ill do a post later on some of these) Basically run up to Brooklyn via Central Park then run down to the start of the Tip Track via Happy Valley Road. The Trip Track is long & winding with an ascent of about 400m over about 4kms. It’s a good climb & should be part of any Wellington runners schedule :). Once at the top you run to the Brooklyn windmill & follow the Karori sanctuary fence line to the Polhill track then it’s all downhill to Aro valley & back to the waterfront. Total distance 22kms. This isn’t an easy run & in hindsight I should have scheduled a rest day after this run. My legs were pretty tired & I did some foam rolling that evening.

Tip Track Elevation

Tip Track Elevation

Thursday – 17th Jan – 14km @ half marathon goal pace! Well this was pretty ambitious after the hill run. I knew that this might be asking a bit too much from my body but I thought if I ran late evening on Thursday my body would have had enough time to recover. Was I wrong on that! When I woke up in the morning my legs felt pretty heavy with a few aches. I’m used to this usually and not a stranger to a bit of aching in my legs after a long run. Anyway by about the 1km mark I knew that there was no way that I can run anywhere near my goal pace. So I settled for a pretty slow 10k. Lesson learned – no fast pace runs after a long hill session 🙂

Friday – 18th Jan – 10km intervals – another big mistake 🙂 my legs were like solid iron blocks everything hurt. Net result a slow 8k & lots of foam rolling & ice. I was experiencing a sharp pain just below my hamstring – not good & alarm bells started ringing!

Saturday – 19th Jan – 14km easy run – nope not a chance! However since my pain had somewhat subsided I decided to go for an easy jog/walk. It was terrible – legs were pretty tired, my HR was pretty high. I managed a 8k jog which felt like hell. Should have taken a full days rest! Foam roller & ice to the rescue.

Sunday – 20th Jan – 18km long run with hills – didn’t even attempt it! Slept in & just took it easy. Walked around the waterfront enjoyed the day. Came home & had an afternoon nap! So by around 5pm I felt pretty good, my legs were feeling normal again no pains. So I decided that I’ll go for an easy jog just to test how I felt. After about 2km of steady running it felt really good so I kept going & then it was 10ks without even feeling it! So ended up with a 15k around the bays!

Week 1 Training Recap

Week 1 Training Recap

So my goal of running a full week with no rest almost worked & I learned a lot from this week. I also ran the most number of cumulative Kms in a week with a total of 88kms! Our bodies have a way of telling us when it’s time to take it easy – pain & aches are our bodies way of telling us to take it easy or rest. It’s our own defense mechanism to prevent us from damaging ourselves beyond repair. Running places a great stress on our bodies but also makes us stronger.

I’ve been reading a book called “The Runners Body” written by some leading sports scientists, I highly recommend this book even if you are a novice runner who has taken up running recently. It’s available at the Wellington City Library.

So next week (21st to 27th Jan) is relatively easy apart from the trail race on Saturday 26th in Tongariro & I’m hoping to stick to the plan! Monday (today) is a rest day!

So here’s to the next four weeks of running leading up to Wellington Round The Bays remaining injury free!