Running Scared

There are times when you just want to give up, you feel empty, desperate because the balance in your life was broken, you are scared. You start running scared – you run and you run and you fall, cut your knee have no idea how you fell but still get up and keep running, blood streaming down your leg. With your lungs and legs burning everything fades to insignificance and your fears, insecurities become obsolete and you feel stronger. (Preferably try without the falling, cutting your knee and blood streaming bit).

Sometimes you run just for the heck of it to see how far you can go. Explore places you’ve never been to before but follow familiar trails to get there with mates who have been there before you. You share stories of struggles and achievements you curse as you push yourself up endless hills just to get to the top and then to come down again. You see herds of cattle along these trails and wonder if they will move out of the way, then you realise you are  wearing a red t-shirt and a red cap you think of Spanish bull fighters and the running of the bulls where people are getting gorged by Bulls. Oh Geez what were you thinking wearing red? better run around these buggers you say and jump into a stream and cross away from the trail and go around the cattle who doesn’t really give a toss (or so it seems), but you are running scared.

Running Scared

Who let these Cattle out on the trails!

You lose sight of your mates around a corner of the trail and over a hill and stare into the fog that’s around you, it’s cold you can’t see the trail.. or was there really a trail you wonder? You scream out only to hear nothing, you start running scared then you see them just ahead up on the hill you run faster to catch up and your lungs and legs are screaming, yet you run. Then you get to the top, the fog lifts, sun streams through and hits your face, it’s all worthwhile, you look around and see the views. You’ve overcome your fears by running scared.

Everything is OK! We made it to the top. Now we have to go down again.

Everything is OK! We made it to the top. Now we have to go down again.

 

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!

Porirua Grand Traverse Mountain Run recap

The Porirua Grand Traverse is a multi discipline event consisting of Multi sport triathlon (Kayak, Mountain Bike and Run) Duathlon (Mountain Bike and Run) & solo event options. I entered the solo 18km mountain run event. The day of the event (Sunday 7th April) dawned with some ominous black clouds & a southerly forecast for most of the day. I guess Wellington region has had it’s fair share of good weather & a bit of rain wasn’t going to be a show stopper. I had picked up my race pack and number earlier and got to race start around 9:30 for a 10:15 race briefing and a approximate 10:30 start. The event organizers wanted to get the Mountain run started as soon as the first multi sporters transitioned from MTB to Run. At around 10:15 the field of about 130 runners overall for the mountain run was briefed about the course. Then we all walked about 50meters onto a side road for a countdown and we were off!

Coming into this run I was a bit nervous given my recent blow out at the Mt Lowry Challenge however I was confident that after the weekend in Tongariro I should be able to tackle this 18km run better than the Mt Lowry run.

The first km was through sealed road to the start of the trail at Rangituhi park – from there on it was all trails and a climb first up (It is a mountain run after all). The first climb was about 200m straight up through some nice trails nothing bad just going up and i got into a good pace not pushing too much, then a downhill which was pretty sweet and I managed to blast past a few people! So far so good – just at the bottom there were a few people cheering us on and also a marshal. (They had altogether about 100 marshals for this event and they did an outstanding job – I must add)

Right just after that downhill bit was ‘the climb’ and this was brutal. It was all wooden stairs all the way from about 75m to 435m over roughly about 3km distance. My legs were screaming but I kept on – no big drama but slow going, reduced to walking in some bits and a few people in turn overtook me. Once you were at the top the views across out to the coast was simply stunning! Sorry I don’t have any photos and I didn’t stop. From the top it’s a downhill for about 1kms which I ran like a mad man passing a few who overtook me on that climb. Then you had to go up this little hill and that was not fun. From that little bit it was a straight downhill back to sea level around the 10km mark.

PGT Elevation Profile

PGT Elevation Profile

I was feeling pretty good and it was only a little bit windy. The trail follows the coast line for about another Km or so then starts to gradually go up. There was a camera man in the bushes just on that coastal bit and he got a shot of me running through.

Along the coast...

Along the coast…

The last hill was a bit of a struggle for many a runner, and for me it wasn’t much of a struggle and I was able to keep a easy running pace up this bit to the top and then it was a downhill! Woohoo! I looked at my watch and knew I could make it close to 2hrs! So ran down the last bit as fast as my legs would allow me and passed a few people. Then onto the last bit of road and onto the finish line in 2hrs 03mins! I am pretty happy with that time in contrast to Mt Lowry finish. In the results I placed 25th out of 50 in the Open group. (talk about middle of the pack runner) 🙂

After the run there were showers available which was great and they had a BBQ setup with a free lunch to each participant. I stayed around for the prize giving and chatted with my friends from the Wellington Running Meetup Group.

Wellington Running Meetup Group

Members of Wellington Running Meetup Group

All in all I loved this race and I will definitely give this one a go next year! The organizing team did a fantastic job and along with the volunteers/marshals (who were everywhere) made this a definite must do event.

PGT Run Course

PGT Run Course

Next event I have on my schedule is the Xterra Trail event on 21st of April. I’m heading to London on Friday this week and get back to NZ on Saturday 20th. So I’m not expecting a fast pace just after a long 36hr plane ride. Oh and also I am announcing another give away soon on my blog. Unlike the last give away this will be open to anyone who reads my blog (local and overseas). You’ll have to wait for the announcement and trust me it’s a goodie!

Tongariro Trail Running Camp Easter weekend recap

Last weekend (Easter break of 4 days) I signed up to be part of an organised weekend of running in Tongariro National Park. The event was organised by one our club runners Glenn Hughes who has competed in International Mountain Running events representing New Zealand. The biggest draw card for this weekend was that Jonathan Wyatt (six-time world mountain running champion) one of New Zealand’s top athletes of all time was going to be attending the camp! Read his bio here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Wyatt He has an impressive list of wins and also is as far as I know the NZ’s fastest half marathon time record holder in 1hrs 02mins 37secs! Talk about being fast! He is very humble about his achievements and to have him at the camp was just inspirational.

Update from Michael via comment 6th April 2013 – “Rod Dixon is the fastest NZ half runner (1:02:12 in 1981) but Jono is the NZ 10km record holder (28:04 in 1996).”

Camp Recap

The camp was held at Discovery Lodge and scheduled from Friday afternoon with a first group starting at 3pm. Unfortunately I was late leaving Wellington and got stuck in Easter holiday traffic going up North along the coast. However I got to camp and went for an easy solo run in Whakapapa Village. There are so many nice trails to explore! In the end I ran along to a place called Silica Rapids on one of the trails. In the evening we had a great dinner and discussed what the rest of the weekend would look like in terms of running.

Whakapapanui Trail

Whakapapanui Trail

Saturday morning after breakfast we got transported to start of the Whakapapnui trail which leads all the way up to the top ski field in Whakapapa via the Whakapapaiti Hut. (It’s just end of summer here in NZ so no snow). The plan was to follow this trail and regroup at the hut and then climb up to the ski field area. Of the 14 runners I was the slowest in terms of average pace on trails and climbing. Luckily we formed two groups and I was in the ‘slower’ paced group. Somehow on the way (mainly because I was slow :-)) I got a bit side tracked and lost myself and soon realised I took a wrong turn. Nevertheless I was able to back track and re-join the others who were half way down looking for me. We ended up climbing up to the ski area with some great views over the valley below.

From top of Ski Field

From top of Ski Field

Here is what the trail looked like. Around the 10k mark I took a slight side trip 🙂 Total of about 18ks run.

SaturdayRun1

Elevation Profile for Run up to ski field

Elevation Profile for Run up to ski field

I was pretty bashed after that run! At the top we enjoyed some great views and coffee from the cafe!

Running Group with Jono Wyatt and others

Running Group with Jono Wyatt and others

That evening we ended up in Owhango where some of the runners did a another trail and went to the Owhango pub for dinner and back to base for a well earned rest and sleep!

On Sunday we set off again and decided to do part of the Tongariro Northern circuit. The trail started from Whakapapa Village and to some degree it was a reverse of The Tussock Traverse event I did in January this year. This was an awesome run of about 22ks, not much of climbing and through some great trails! I really enjoyed this day! The trail ended on the Desert road where we got picked up. We then drove to the town of Turangi for lunch/coffee and then on to Tokaanu for some recovery in the famous geo thermal hot pools! Great day!

Whakapapa Village to Desert Road

Whakapapa Village to Desert Road

SundayRunProfile2

In the afternoon/evening we all relaxed and shared stories then watched a movie about Kilian Jornet, A Fine Line. Great movie and highly recommended. It was a great weekend and I made some new friends and heard so many great stories about why each of us have chosen running and being in mountains, trails and enjoying life!

Monday morning we did another easy trail around Lake Rotopounamu near National Park and then after breakfast said our good byes and headed back to Wellington!

I am planning to organise another event myself for those who would like to explore some new trails and get out of their comfort zone. This was definitely outside of my comfort zone but I enjoyed every bit of it!

Group getting ready for another run!

Group getting ready for another run!

Here is a great video featuring Jonathan Wyatt!

Happy trails!

Mt Lowry Extreme Challenge event recap

Today was not my day, today I got owned by the trail, nevertheless it was a great experience. Onwards and upwards!

The Mount Lowry challenge consists of two events, The Bridgedale classic mountain trail run (11km) & the Vasque Extreme challenge (22km) mountain run with about 1000m of height gain on the course, the Extreme challenge was limited to only 50 participants. I entered the Vasque Extreme event & this is how it went. This event is known for it’s hilly terrain & has it’s own legendary status because of champion mountain runners Melissa Moon & James Coubrough.

The event location is about 30mins drive from where I live in a small sea side town called Eastbourne in Wellington, New Zealand. My event was scheduled for 8:30am with registration & race number pickup from 7:30am. I got there around 7:45am to pick up my number & check in. There were a few of my buddies from Wellington Running Meet up group who were doing the event as well. So I had some company to have a bit of pre-race banter.

Buddies from Wellington Running Meetup. - Kathy, Me, Dom and Ash

Buddies from Wellington Running Meetup. – Kathy, Me, Dom and Ash

There is a great community feel to the event because it’s locally operated, they even have special prices for local participants. The event HQ was in a little park so there was plenty of people gathered to cheer the runners.

Start of Mt Lowry Extreme Challenge

Start of Mt Lowry Extreme Challenge

We had a race briefing at 8:15am then we were off at 8:30am sharp. I felt pretty good going ino the race, no sign of any niggles & I’ve been running pretty well for the last three weeks as part of my overall 16 week marathon training plan. This was an event I wanted to use to get some decent hill climbs into my schedule. My goal was to run most of the hills & try to run the 22km under 2hrs 45mins which was achievable in my mind.

The first 3km was pretty flat along the coastal road to the start of the trail head. I eased into a steady pace without pushing it too much around 4:30 per Km. From the start of the trail it climbs steadily for about 200m straight up, I was doing well around 6:00 per Km up to about 2km into the climb & then my legs just felt completely dead, like someone just hung two 100kg dumb bells to them & my calves were hurting like hell! This took me completely by surprise, I’ve run enough hills & never had this effect before! I was reduced to a painful but steady walk & about 4 people passed me, I was a bit mentally drained but just kept power walking up the hill. It was a painful climb but eventually got to the top. Stopped at the top & did some stretches, the pain was still there but since I was at the top, the trail evened out to being flat so I started a slow run. Eventually the heavy feeling on my legs subsided & I was able to run the next bit but much slower than I anticipated. At this point I realised I needed to forget about my time goal of 2hrs 45, ain’t going to happen!

Around the 6km mark is another steady climb, it wasn’t easy but I went on & in a weird way I was getting used to the pain & the heavy felling was getting lesser. The next 3km is along the top of the trig with a narrow trail which is full of tree roots, you had to watch every step but it was runnable. There was a cut off time at the halfway point at 11km where if you didn’t make it within 1hr 45 you get pulled off the event. I made the 11k point in about 1hr 30.

Mt Lowry Trail Map of the course

Mt Lowry Trail Map of the course

From the 11km point you entered into a forest where you had to pay very close attention to the trail as it descended steadily to the turn around point. This 2km stretch was a nightmare! You had to look up to check if you could spot the trail markers on the trees & you had to watch your step below as the trail was so overgrown & uneven with tree roots! Not fun! For a while I thought I was completely lost! And wait you had to do this bit twice as the route doubled back on the same trail to the turn off point. A few of the fast runners were on the way back including a couple of my buddies.

Anyways after this bit you come out of the forest into a well graded trail which descends rapidly. Uh oh – what goes down must come up! Essentially the trail drops from 300m to 50m & then you go back up the way you came again!

Mt Lowry Elevation Profile

Mt Lowry Elevation Profile

The turnaround point was at around 15.5k where they record your number. Then you go back along the same up 300m! Just at around 16km as I was heading back two runners was coming down fast & me being the considerate runner took one side step to give them way & the next minute I was face down on the trail! $&@k & some other choice words followed! I think my ego was more hurt than any of my body parts as I took check of the damage! Arms OK! Knees.. Uh oh left knee was gushing blood but there was no pain! There was a piece of flesh hanging out but surprisingly no pain! I used my sweat band to wipe the blood away & continued on! A bit angry at myself but happy I hadn’t done too much damage, it’s just a wound & it will heal! Right climb up again & negotiate that forest bit then it’s a downhill! Quick look at my watch I knew I was way off my time I’d make 3:15 if I just keep moving! The last descent is just straight down & there was no way I was taking any chances so it was a slow descent to the bottom & into the finish line! Final time 3hrs 17mins.

Mt Lowry Garmin Summary

Mt Lowry Garmin Summary

Usually after a race I haven’t done before I look forward to giving it another try, but this one I’m not so sure. Maybe after a few months I’ll feel differently. 🙂

Mount Lowry isn’t an easy challenge & it’s named the Extreme Challenge for a reason & today it owned me! I am however glad I took part! My knee is all good and wrapped up in dressing so nothing major. Next event is another mountain run – The Porirua Grand Traverse on the 7th of April!

At the Finish - all smiles despite how it all went!

At the Finish – all smiles despite how it all went! Patrick, Nicole, Me, Kathy, Lilla and Ash