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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
A while back I wrote that I was struggling to break the 20min mark in my 5km races. Fast track to exactly a year and I am now quite comfortably running sub 20min 5km races. My initial frustration with not being able to break that mark is now rewarded with a series of sub 20 times in a number of 5km races since October 2013 through to January 2014.
So far in 6 of my 5km races since October 2013 I have being consistent at running under sub 20minutes as follows:
|Lower Hutt parkrun||25/01/2014||19:36||Current PB|
|Hamilton Lake parkrun||28/12/2013||19:53|
|Lower Hutt parkrun||19/10/2013||19:39|
With the net improvement my goal is to now be comfortable at running this pace at other distances. My next goal is to break 90mins in the half marathon distance. Key to this is being able to sustain 4:15min per KM splits for the net distance and pass the 5km mark in a comfortable time of 19:59 in a half marathon race. This will also mean that my current 10km personal best time will have an improvement. Well that’s the theory anyway.
Overall I am now doing some specific speed work sessions every week and working at my threshold pace. This has resulted in a few things:
- I am able to run faster over longer distances with less effort. This is compared to the distances I used to run and my variances in heart rate. I can be in zone 2 with a HR variance of 143-155 and still run @ 5:00min pace. Previously I would be in Zone 3 or Zone 4 at that pace.
- I can add distance to my weekly mileage but still be ‘fresh’ for key workouts such as speed sessions of intervals and tempos. Typically I will do an Interval session on a Wednesday and a Tempo on a Saturday so there is enough recovery time between them. I have been able to increase my weekly mileage to 100km per week with a peak of 120km as mentioned in my previous post.
Incidentally January has also been the month where I have gone over 400km for the month!
With these gradual increases I am hoping that I can continue my training and improving my running for this year. Main goal being the Rotorua marathon in May.