Wow, seems like its ages since I wrote anything about anything here. And it’s exactly two weeks to the Berlin Marathon on the 28th September! Since the last update of the Tauhara Trail Half in Taupo I have also competed the two other halves on the 63.3 series. Here is a quick recap of the two races.
If you are looking for an entertaining recap of this race STOP right now and head over here to see what my yellow fancy pants wearing friend has to say. If you want something boring then read on – I have warned you.
Right – it’s been 7ish weeks since running the Rotorua Marathon. That was after a pretty good block of training and life circumstances. I was riding a wave of highs then. Also after Rotorua I dropped my mileage right back. Bought a mountain bike (did a total 3 grand rides) – probably not the best investment but nevertheless. Wellington Half was always on the plan but I was pretty much taking a break form high intensity and high mileage. Leading up to the event my base mileage had dropped to about 65kms per week average from a usual 85-100km average. So in fact I was well rested if anything. I had no expectations and mentally I was also at a low point probably because of the reduced mileage and some other life stuff that happened.
Anyways I went into this race with no expectations and decided I might as well get among the crowd and see what happens. I got to the race start at WestPac stadium in Central Wellington about 45mins before the start. I don’t usually bother with too much warm up other than walking jogging to the loo or talking with others whom I bump into. Then maybe a couple of strides at a minimum. This time I did no warm up apart from the usual last minute business. A stiff southerly breeze was blowing that pretty much chilled you to the bone. Before the race I had a couple of Icebreaker tops on to keep me warm. Underneath I had my Wellington Scottish singlet on and arm warmers and running gloves. Just before race start at 9am I ditched the Icebreaker tops with a mate and made my way to the start line. There was a bit of a jam going into the start area through the stadium doors. Eventually I made my way to where the 1hrs 30min pacer Huw another club/running mate was doing pacing duties. Since this was also doubling up as the NZ Half Marathon Champs the leading men’s and women’s runners were right at the front. Then I spotted my yellow fancy pants wearing friend Amanda. Since I had no particular interest in racing my guts out today I just though hmm I’ll just take it easy and hang with her. After the usual pre-race announcements, the gun/hooter can’t remember which exactly went, everyone surged off. The elites bolted.
Me and Amanda got into an easy rhythm to stick to about 4.15mins/km. In actual fact we were a tad faster but pretty well in control and just taking it easy. It was easy running with not much effort. Pretty soon we were just ticking away the Kms as we passed familiar surroundings around the Wellington Bays.
We also strategically shielded ourselves from the wind by using others as wind blockers and also did our own part by putting on a few surges just to keep a group going. Eventually we settled with another guy who seemed to be happy to stick with us. Just before we went through the half way point we saw all the 70min (fast) runners already heading back. We hit the half way point and started to up the tempo a little bit. We were hitting 4min K’s quite easily and kept on a good steady rhythm. The last 5km for me was a pretty good effort in hitting sub 4min kms to the finish (Felt great and didn’t blow up). Amanda did an amazing time – go read her race report. My net time was 1:27:37 which is a PB by about 3 mins with the least amount of build up I’ve had. Unexpected and pretty happy in the end.
Till later.. keep running.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is somewhat of a delayed post about my last half marathon I ran on 23rd of February. Last year I ran the same half marathon in 1:33:55. Since then I had also run a PB time of 1:32 in September 2013. Since this was my first major race for 2014 I had a goal of running under 1:30. Most of my training leading up to the event has been on preparation on one of my goal marathons in May the Rotorua marathon. So this race was a good time to do a ‘time trial’ of how my training was progressing. At the same time I was not prepared to go all out and then lose time recovering for two or more weeks as I have only about 8 weeks left to the Rotorua marathon in May.
The day was pretty good weather wise, apart from a slight northwesterly wind it was a great summer day for an 8am start. However the race was delayed till 8:15am because the organisers were clearing some vehicles that had ventured into the closed part of the course.
My race plan was to run pretty even splits of 4:15min per Km pace so I will end up around 1:29 and getting under the 1:30 mark There were pace groups for 1:25, 1:30 and 1:45. So I was just slightly ahead of the 1:30 pacer and the plan was to hold pace with him from around the after the first 5km marker. In hindsight I should have held back a little bit. This year the race also introduced a 10k race and the start area was a bit hectic with 10k and half marathon runners all starting at the same time. I think that a staggered start would have been much better for all runners involved. This created bit of a rush and some confusion amongst a few inexperienced runners.
Anyways we started off and as usual there was a rush of the ‘mad dashers’ who usually end up paying the price around halfway. The first 7k splits were pretty good but a wee bit faster in some ways. Splits from start to 7k point were 4:14, 4:11, 4:06, 4:14, 4:06, 4:16, 4:15. At around the 7km point was the turn back for 10km runners and this became bit of a choke point for faster 10k runners coming back into the mass of the runners who were heading past the turn point. The next 7kms had a bit of head wind. I shadowed behind a few runners including the 1:30 pace group. Splits to the 14km mark were 4:23, 4:30, 4:14, 4:19, 4:11, 4:10, 4:11. I was still feeling pretty fresh around 14km marker and I broke a another PB of distance run in 1hrs at the 14km marker. So my pacing was spot on. This is where things got interesting. So what had happened was that the turning point was a bit off than what it should have been and thus making the actual distance about 600-700m longer. I knew straight away that this was the case as I had done the course before. So at this point I had two choices go out a bit harder and try and make up the time/ground to still officially break my 1:30 goal or maintain the same pace (which was feeling pretty good) and not push too hard. I did some quick calculations in my head and decided to stick with the same even pace. My rationale was that I had proven that I am able to comfortably maintain the pace and am actually running faster than I have run before. It was a sign that my marathon training was indeed working. The next final 7km splits were as follows: 4:13, 4:35 (slowed down at a drink station than I anticipated), 4:16, 4:19, 4:20, 4:08, 4:12) and then the added bonus of an almost an extra 1km in 4:22. The total distance actually came to 22kms instead of the standard 21.1km of a half marathon. The organisers officially acknowledged that the course was measured correctly but the volunteers who were sent to the turning point made an error in judgement and placed the turning point too far in that what was marked. There was no adjustments made to results. Officially my time was recorded as 1:33 (which was the same as last year). I actually crossed the 21.1km distance according to my garmin watch in 1:29:50 thus unofficially getting a PB. In any case I was pretty happy with the net result knowing that I am in fact running faster and more economically than before and on track to a good marathon in 8 weeks time in May!
Thanks for reading.
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.