63.3 Challenge Update

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.

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Tauhara Trail Half Marathon recap

Bit of a delayed recap of the Tauhara trail half marathon which was held on 6th of July 2014 in Taupo. I ran this race once in 2011 just as I was starting to run and didn’t do particularly well as I remember back then.

This event being in winter was essentially added on as a training run and also I have been wanting to complete the 63.3 Run Taupo series. Basically 3 half marathon in 3 months of July, August and September.

Race day was a pretty decent winter morning with the sun coming out with a few clouds but nevertheless a bit chilly. This was the first year Hoka One One has come aboard as a sponsor and they had a good selection for shoes and gear on display at the start/finish area.

View of race start - with Ben and the guys from Wellington Running Meetup

View of race start – Me with Ben and the guys from Wellington Running Meetup (Orsi, Alan and Barry)

The race started off with everyone kind of standing by a side of a grassy field and a countdown. The start was a bit congested and I got into a slow start but made my way steadily through and kept a good pace. Being a typical mid pack runner I was not ever going to be at the pointy end anyway.

The Tauhara course is actually a pretty decent trail run where all of the course is runnable. There are really not many ‘hill’s however the course is quite undulating with a total elevation gain of 700 meters. Around the 5th km marker to 9 km marker is uphill but nothing too serious, which incidentally is also a bit of an out and back so the climb soon becomes a downhill. You also get to see some of the other runners go past you. I was running with a group of runners up the hill so was sharing the work so to speak. After this you turn into the bush around the half way point onto some sweet single trail and a last grunt for about 3 kms through 18, 19, 20kms and then a screaming 1 km downhill on a grassy paddock filled with cow poo to the finish.

Tauhara 2014 Profile and run data

Tauhara 2014 Profile and run data

I totally enjoyed this race and managed to run this in a decent 1:49:52 (official) and was the 22nd runner. In my age group M40-44 I was 5th.

Some photos thanks to Photos4Sale.

Tauhara Trail Half Marathon

Tauhara Trail Half Marathon 2014

Tauhara Trail Half Marathon

 

 

Wellington Half Marathon 2014 recap

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.

Wellington Half Marathon Start

Wellington Half Marathon Start – Photo credit – Ben Terry

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.

Fast and Yellow..

Fast and Yellow.. – Photo by Ange

 

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.

Tina Harris (1:21:57) 4th Female, me (1:27:37) and Amanda (1:27:48)

Tina Harris (1:21:57) 4th Female, me (1:27:37) and Amanda (1:27:48) – Photo Ben Terry

Till later.. keep running.

 

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.

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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.

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Expo area with sponsors

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Meeting Sage Canaday in the Redwoods

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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.

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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)

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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.