Rotorua Marathon 2014 – recap

Saturday 3rd May was the 50th running of the Rotorua Marathon. The Rotorua Marathon is one of New Zealand’s longest running marathons with a legendary status for its around the lake 42.2km race. This year being the 50th anniversary attracted some of New Zealand’s best marathoners to the event.

This was my second marathon and I had done a great build up leading up to the event over a 14 week period. My previous marathon was June 2013 which was in Wellington. My time in Wellington was 3:25:56. The goal of Rotorua was to better the previous time but I also knew that the Rotorua course was undulating with some hills so there was a bit of doubt in my mind about being able to beat the previous time. 

During my training build up most of my training runs indicated towards the last 6 weeks that I should be in 3:15-3:20 shape to complete the distance. Then again it would all come down to the day and conditions like any other race. I just had to trust the training I had put in and aim for my goal time.

We drove up to Rotorua on Thursday after work. There was a group of us from our running club Wellington Scottish and also my Wellington Running Meetup group who were there for the event. Most were doing the marathon and a few were doing the half marathon.

Friday morning we went around to Blue Lake and did an easy lap to loosen up. There are some great running trails in Rotorua so we made the most of it by going for an easy jog/run around the 6km or so lake circuit.

20140501_224932205_iOS

Round Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) with Gemma, Hinano, Berndon and Dan.

Then we headed to the expo hall in the city and got our registration packs and numbers. The expo hall was packed with various vendors and the guys from Tarawera Ultramarathon was quite popular.

20140502_021951980_iOS

Expo area with sponsors

20140502_022826270_iOS

A Mountain Bike frame out of Wood – by Red Stag Timber one of the sponsors

20140502_024448332_iOS

The Tarawera Ultramarathon team – Paul and Tim

After the expo we walked around the Rotorua township and relaxed in the evening back at the apartment we were staying in. I made a great spaghetti bolognese for the team who were staying with me. Perfect mix of carbs and protein for a marathon.

Race Day – Saturday 3rd May 2014

The forecast was for light winds and a high of 17c. Perfect conditions for running. There was a thick fog but hardly any wind early morning. The start was a short drive away so we all got to the start area by 7:15 am and met up with some of the other club runners. The half marathon runners started at 8am (went in the opposite direction for an out and back) and the Marathoners started at 8:20am and ran clockwise around Lake Rotorua to complete the 42.2km distance. The course has an elevation gain of roughly 300m with two minor hills (read undulations) but enough to make you work for it around 20th km and 27km markers.

Rotorua2014Course

Rotorua Marathon Course. Check it out on Strava.

I started with a couple of Wellington Scottish club mates, Bruce and Edwin who were also wanting to run 3hrs 20mins. My plan was to go through the first half of the course conservatively but at a steady effort and then work after around 30kms to get as close as possible to completing in 3:20.

The race start was spot on at 8:20am outside the Rotorua Events centre. The first part had a little out and back section where we could see the ‘elite’ runners up ahead then after that it was pretty much whoever was bunched up in packs. The three of us ran through the first 1kms around 4:45 pace then held it steady ranging from 4:35-4:40ish pace up until to around the 10km marker. We also noticed that on my GPS we were roughly about 250-300m off the markers (meaning on the GPS we would hit the 10km marker at 10.3km). As GPS co-ordinates can be notoriously off we didn’t really care about that. Around 10km is a slight uphill and our pace dropped a bit but we were still running pretty easy. So far so good another 32kms to go. Km 11 & 12 were 4:46 and 4:37 then a slight increase in pace on the down hill to about 4:27 before we hit another small up around 14 & 15kms which dropped to 4:50 and 4:40. Still in keeping with a 3:20ish finish. I decided to have a Gel and water at the next station which worked well and managed to actually perfectly grab a cup squeeze the end drink without losing stride. Textbook stuff if I may say so myself!

At this stage we caught up to a group of runners in Hamilton City singlets and there was four of them who were keeping a steady pace. Bruce had dropped back a little and Edwin and I decided to stick with the the Hamilton guys for a while and just sat behind them. The next 4kms was the first “hill” basically the course went up and we eased off to run the hill in 4:40, 4:45, 5:07, 4:36 not too bad and that really wasn’t a hill compared to some of the hills in Wellington. Over halfway now and I think we went through in about 1hrs 40min.  Coming down the hill Edwin was slightly ahead of me and kept going at a steady pace and I held myself back a little on the downhill but eventually caught up to him on the flat section. 23, 24, and 25th Kms were in 4:22, 4:25 and 4:27 pace. The next 3kms was the next uphill. Basically a long up that gradually rose not as sharp as the last one. I had this slight cramp build up at the last hill and it soon became evident I had to stop at the next toilet! BUGGER!. Anyways I shouted to Edwin that I’m taking a pit stop and he must have thought that would be the last he’ll see of me as he went off. Basically it only cost me like 2-3mins I was in and out and that seemed to cure the cramping.

So off I went and I could see that Edwin had gained about a good 600m on me. And there was a big bunch of runners in front of me and Edwin. I increased my pace cautiously knowing very well that the last 10kms of a marathon is the key part of having a good race turn ugly. I could hit steady 4:30 pace and within about 1km or so I was running next to Edwin again and he was a bit surprised to see me there. I was feeling OK to hit 4:30 pace so I kept on running without slowing down. I downed another GEL and water at the next station around 32kms and decided I will take on water at the next as well. Around the 34km marker I had another bout of cramps this time however I decided NOT to stop but run through it, It was painful and actually slowed me almost down to 4:50 pace and I knew that my arbitrary goal of 3hrs 15min finish time was not going to happen. I still felt relatively OK apart from legs starting to hurt and I knew I could still sustain a faster pace. From 36km to 40kms it hurt a lot but I caught up to a group of three runners around the 40km marker and from there gritted my teeth and gave it all I got.

20140502_233909680_iOS

Coming into the home stretch…

The last two Kms were in 4:24 and 4:31 and my final finish time was 3hrs 18mins and 48secs and a new PB. Officially I was the 198th of 3513 total finishers. In my age group 40-44 I was 37th out of 354. A pretty good result given the course elevation etc.Fellow Wellington Scottish and Meetup runners did some amazing times on the course with Dave Parsons of Scottish running a 2:36.51 and earning 6th overall. Michael Wray has a great write up on his blog on how things went at the pointy end. In the women’s field Katie Kemp came third in 2:49:55. Full results are online at the Rotorua Marathon site.

20140503_004218000_iOS

Now I am taking a bit of a break but next goal is Berlin Marathon in September 2014. Training starts next week with a 20 week build up broken down into 2 training cycles. Short term goal is to run a faster 10 km and a half marathon PB in the coming 3 months then get into Marathon training targeting Berlin.

 

Rotorua marathon and a long overdue update

It’s been quite a while since I last updated what I’ve been up to since running the Wellington Round the Bays half marathon in February. So here is a quick summary of what I’ve been up to in terms of my training preparation for the 50th Rotorua Marathon since that event. Rotorua Marathon is actually only 6 sleeps away on 3rd May 2014.

March and April 2014

After Wellington Round the Bays I was straight back into full training mode with some solid back to back weeks of 100kms plus of running. This meant a total of 10 weeks to do some strength endurance based work as well as targeted speed work to be marathon ready. The highlight of March was a solid team effort at the Tarawera Ultramarathon in Rotorua where my team placed 12th in the relay of 70km. My buddies Nick, Aaron and Daniel who are part of my club did really great in tough conditions on the day. The course was altered at the last minute due to a tropical cyclone that was coming towards the forest where the original trail went through. In the end everyone who participated had a great time. This is certainly a great event to be part of in the New Zealand trail running calendar. I got to meet Vera (aka Supergeneric girl!) BONUS!

af064f62ae5a11e3a3d112226e1e851a_8

Team Lost in the Woods charging through the trails of Tarawera.

The weekend was spent running in some of the best trails in and around Rotorua. I also got to meet Sage Canaday (DOUBLE BONUS) who is now the two time winner of the Tarawera Ultra marathon.

d0e28ca8aa4111e38fed12169978b0f9_8

Meeting Sage Canaday in the Redwoods

10005246_500597393382322_152593925_n

Great times with great running buddies

My friends who did the Ultra Distance kicked ass with some of them being in the top 10 of both the long and short courses.

After Tarawera it was pretty much back to a lot of training involving some solid mileage and tempo and interval work. I also included a 6 week block of strength conditioning twice a week.

10 km Personal Best (Road Race)

On 5th of April (incidentally also my 40th birthday) I ran a 10km club race for our running club Wellington Scottish Athletics. My aim was to run a steady conservative effort and I was not aiming to go all out. Somehow this day I felt really good and strong and my conservative effort actually felt pretty steady and easy which resulted in me shaving off a full 2 mins off my previous 10km race time and running a 40:22 – 10km race. This was a great indication that my marathon training was paying off. Not only could I maintain avg 4min per/km pace I felt really good afterwards and didn’t need a long time for recovery.

ChanScottish

Racing in Wellington Scottish colors. Waterfront 10km club race in April.

Overall I feel I have done a pretty good chunk of training and my average mileage has significantly increased from last year. If any of you are on Strava check out my profile and connect.

Easter/Anzac Weekend

Last week was a long weekend (Easter and Anzac) which provided a great opportunity to travel and explore some great trails. Although I should have actually cut back on mileage and gone into a taper I ended up running in some great trails in Tongariro National Park and Kinloch in Taupo. This included the following trails.

  • Old Coach Road from Horopito to Ohakune and back (25kms)
  • Whakapapaiti Trails in National Park (14kms)
  • Tongariro Northern Circuit (46kms) – one of the Great Walks of New Zealand
  • Huka Falls to Aratiatia trail (10kms)
  • Kinloch W2K Trail out and back (22kms)

10299686_260636050775431_1341450502_n

With this amount of running I am taking this week before Rotorua very easy and resting for the Rotorua Marathon. As usual watch out for the post race update next week and I am hoping that it will be a positive one – but it’s a Marathon and no matter what you have done what you feel on the day and during a marathon is what makes the difference. I am staying positive that I will be able to run a great marathon. The place is going to be buzzing with over 9000 people participating in the full and half marathon distances.

 

 

 

My first 120km week

Yes, that’s 120 kilometers (75miles) of running, not in one go of course but a full week with no rest days. This is the first time I have ever attempted to run this much and it went really well and my body surprisingly held up well. I was feeling a bit sluggish towards the end of day 6 but still managed to complete my goal. Here is how the week went.

2014 Jan 120km Week

2014 Jan 120km Week

Monday – 25kms

Monday was a fantastic sunny day, and it was such a contrast from Sunday where I managed a very wet 18km run. So I took advantage of the great sunny weather and headed out thinking I’ll do about 16kms but ended up doing an even paced 25km in 2hrs.

Monday Run Along the Bays

Monday Run Along the Bays with a dip in the sea at the end

Tuesday – Easy 10km

I was a little bit stiff on Tuesday so I did a very slow paced 60min run and completed 10kms followed by some easy stretching. Felt really good by the afternoon so I knew I was recovered well.

Wednesday – Moderate 12km plus Stairs and Speed = 22.5km

Managed to do a nice and easy but steady 12km run with a another 1km to cool down early morning. In the evening I was scheduled to go and run with the training group I am hosting as part of Wellington Running Meetup. I have been helping a group with their half marathon preparations for a few weeks and we all meet every Wednesday at 6:15. We did 3 x 360 stairs on one of the steepest paths in Wellington (on Maida Vale Road). After that we all did 2 x 1.5km laps at tempo speed. So a total of 22kms for Wednesday.

Wednesday Running Meetup Group

Wednesday Running Meetup Group

Thursday – 11km trails

I was surprised at how well my body was holding up given all the running till now. I decided to head to one of my favorite trails near where I live and did an easy 11km loop. This is Korokoro trail near Petone, its a gentle trail that runs along the stream and is one of the best trails near where I live.

Korokoro Stream Trail

Korokoro Stream Trail

Friday – 10kms

An easy run to loosen up and some stretching. I was felling a bit sluggish but managed to get in 10kms relatively easily.

Saturday 18km – Mt Climie (Long Hill)

This was a pretty hard one – Mt Climie is North East of Upper Hutt – with a total elevation gain of 850m from start to finish it is one of the best ‘hill’ runs of the area. The views from the top is pretty spectacular (on a good day). And as it was Saturday was a fantastic day with no wind and blue skies.

 

This run is also on Page 62 of Runners Guide to Wellington. I organised this run with the Running Meetup Group and there were 12 of us who went up Climie.

Mt Climie (aka Climbie)

Mt Climie (aka Climbie)

 Sunday – 23kms

My legs were a bit stiff after Saturday’s run but I still wanted to get in an even paced 2hr run. So I headed into town and went past the bays and did a nice circuit loop past Miramar for 23kms and bringing my week to a finish with 121kilometers!

120km done in 7days

120km done in 7days

A few things to note.. I didn’t randomly decide to run 120kms, I was building up gradually and over the last 3months I have done 90+ Km weeks and a few 100km weeks. This was the peak at week 8 of of a 16 week training cycle. This week I will keep my mileage at around 85km + range the gradually taper off to about 60km closer to the end of the cycle. I have mentioned previously about how I have built up distance over a period of time. The next 6-8 weeks my training will include some key speed sessions to get ready for my next half marathon on 23rd February.

What’s the most you have run in a week?

Road to Rotorua Marathon

Happy 2014 everyone!

With a new year come new running plans, well actually not really ‘new’ but goals for the year nonetheless and events that I am looking forward to. Unlike last year I won’t be planning on doing a lot of events but will choose a few key running events as the year goes on. After my first successful marathon attempt in June 2013 I already had added Rotorua marathon as my second marathon attempt. For the Rotorua marathon it is a significant year as it is going to be the 50th anniversary event. I am currently in a build up phase and it will be 16 weeks to Rotorua (3rd May 2014) from next week. Ideal time to start focusing and get into training mode.

Before Rotorua I am also going to be aiming to run at the Wellington Round the Bays half marathon. This is the local Wellington event that I have done for the last three years so it is only logical that this was in the running schedule for the year. It’s roughly about 6 weeks and then 10 weeks to Rotorua after that.I actually love doing half marathon events, in fact I am probably going to stick mostly with races that are 20-30km in distance apart from the odd marathon maybe once a year.

Goal for Rotorua are to beat my current PB of 3:25 for the marathon. So my training goal is 3:15-3:20 but the Rotorua course is a bit harder than other courses so I will need to keep that in perspective. In any case I will aim to train well and be ready as much as I can be. Beyond Rotorua marathon I have another significant overseas marathon event planned but at the moment I will keep myself focused on Rotorua first.

thanks for stopping by.

I’ve completed a Marathon – now what?

Some say that immediately after you finish your first Marathon that it’s normal to say “Never doing this again!!” as you slowly crawl out of bed the next day and try to get some movement out of your legs. It hurts there is no denying that, in my case my legs hurt for a couple of days immediately afterwards but this gradually subsided as days went by. I took a full 8 days off running and pretty much gave my body a good well earned rest. Now having slowly started easing into some gradual runs I am looking at what I had initially planned for rest of the year.

I already have an event planned for September (Abel Tasman) which is almost Marathon distance at 40km but unlike a road race is entirely on trails. Long term my goal is to target another Marathon in 2014, this time however with a time goal. (most likely Rotorua Marathon in may 2014). With these goals in mind I have looked at my past training plan (based on a 16 week cycle) and is now essentially putting together a plan (28 weeks from 1 July to 28 December 2013) that will carry me through to end of this year. The last two weeks has been build up weeks with a steady build up in base mileage (building up to about 100k -120k per week) which will continue for 4-6 weeks more. During this period I have potentially two Half Marathons that I can use to tune my race pace. The first is coming up in three weeks in Taupo (4th August) and I’ll pretty much train through it without a taper. Second half marathon that I might consider doing is in September, however it’s one week before the Abel Tasman Trail Run. Based on how I am feeling I might end up skipping that and conserve my energy for Abel Tasman.

Key is to continue building up mileage through winter and then start speed work in Spring to be able to target a couple of races over summer and better my half marathon times. Would be interesting to know how others plan their yearly plans.

Happy running!