More of Running Less of Goals

Since running the Vienna marathon back in April 2015, and the subsequent disappointment of not achieving my goal time (3:15) I’ve been somewhat subdued in terms of my enthusiasm and hunger I had for improving my running. The few months that passed after Vienna I was suffering a bout of what I can only describe as self doubt of a different scale that I had not encountered before. Sure I’ve had plenty of ups and downs but this was something that I couldn’t shake off easily. Running was to a certain level my outlet and when that doesn’t provide the same level of satisfaction everything else became rather mundane and the net effect of which was quite bad mentally and physically.

The Northern hemisphere Spring bought a fresh perspective on things and although I didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm I still managed to get out and run a few trails now and then. Usually if I’d done a trail event I would be writing about how it all went on here but I just didn’t feel like it, partly because of work and living between Amsterdam and Coruña meant quite a few flights back and forth and my overall fatigue level I could feel was at a borderline where no matter what I did every run felt like a marathon effort. Orsi meanwhile was busy with her final stages of her dissertation and didn’t do much running either. In all fairness we both managed to go to a few local events, the write ups about these are on our combined blog #whatrunnersdo.

By June, July with extended daylight of the summer in Europe I managed to do get my enthusiasm back, This resulted doing some runs and going back to the basics of how I started, what I missed most was hills and trails.

In Amsterdam running can be so boring because everywhere you go everything is flat, coupled with the fact everything is so densely populated the only interesting routes that I usually frequent become a chore after a while. To compensate for this I would alternate the direction or do extended rounds through various neighbourhoods and try and avoid pedestrian or traffic cross roads as much as possible.

In contrast running in Coruña as I previously mentioned is similar to the Wellington waterfront and of course far more options to go off road. Most of the running events in Coruña that I had been to is all on #whatrunnersdo. This provided a bit of a balance and a welcome change but the constant travel was always a factor coupled with tiredness.

Amidst all of this Orsi and I signed up for Budapest marathon. This happened just after the Vienna marathon as this was in my mind was going to be the “comeback” marathon for me. Orsi had other reasons for choosing Budapest. As I mentioned before during August and September I did a pretty decent amount of mileage with the goal of aiming to run Budapest in 3:15 or better. Compared to my training regime that I followed diligently for Rotorua back in 2014 I took a different approach to my training. The longer 30km+ runs were replaced by shorter runs and also incorporating doubles. The longer dayight hours allowed me to accommodate two runs in a day whilst balancing work commitments plus travel betwenn Amsterdam and Coruna. In August we finally had a holiday and met up with our friends Brent and Ewa from Wellington Running Meetup and went for a week of running in the Italian mountains.

Lesson in Humilty

Before Budapest I did two long runs (distance) wise. One was a 30km run on a pretty warm day about 5 weeks out, this incidentally was also my highest mileage for 2015 at 122km in a single week. After that 30km I was full of confidence, partly because I ran the second half strongly and by the end I felt I could have gone on for another few more kilometers easily.

Two weeks after we were in Amsterdam again and went to a trail event in Masstricht. This was a 32km run and with about 800m of elevation I set myself a goal of running this in 2hrs 45, essentially treating the event as the last long run before Budapest. In hindsight I think I pushed myself a bit more than required on this event which resulted in having to take about a week off because of some aches and pains which started to shape a doubt in my mind if I’d be able to start Budapest.

Nevertheless we went to Budapest of course. We arrived in Budapest where our hearts sank a bit as the weather was quite a contrast from the nice warm late summer we were expecting. It was raining, and worst of it was the cold. That particular week all of Europe’s temperatures were at a low and Budapest was cold and wet. Over at whatrunners do you can get a full recount of what it was like leading up and the marathon itself as told by Orsi.

As I mentioned earlier I was already at a low, and the self doubt crept in, which resulted in some very bizarre things happening to my body. Maybe part of it was due to the cold, maybe it was all in my head. Whatever it was I had stomach problems, cramps and at one point I stopped and emptied all I had for breakfast on the side of the street. This by far was the worst time I’ve ever had running.

In the end I finished, in somewhat of undignified fashion. As I crossed the finish line it was a relief of a different kind. Not my best marathon, finishing in 3hrs 50mins, nevertheless I crossed the line. Looking around me I could still see others coming into finish and being completely satisfied that they finished. Then why am I not satisified, did I not finish the same distance of 42.2km, what reason have I got that I am not satisfied with?

Yeah I finished, Almost gave up... but I finished

Yeah I finished, Almost gave up… but I finished…

It took me a few days to get out of the negative head space, I started to think about why I started running in the first place. I remembered when I just wanted to run and not think about goals or achieving time goals. We can sometimes forget the simplicity of why we first wanted something and get dragged into wanting more, there is nothing wrong in that, however sometimes being objective now and then helps to overcome the battle of wanting better versus acceptance of what you can.

Thanks for reading… run free, run bold!

Road to Vienna and two winters

After the Berlin marathon in September 2014, I have been in Europe for the most part. This meant that I left the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere just about when winter was about to start. In Wellington (NZ) winters are not that bad compared to some other places but still the effect of darkness, rain and cold inevitably has an effect. Add another winter in the northern hemisphere to that and it becomes pretty demoralising overall. The time spent in Galicia from September to January 2015 was broken up by a few short visits to Portugal where it was comparatively sunny and warm. Then I was in NZ to get a little taste of summer for about 16 days in January before heading back to Europe to base myself in Amsterdam from February.

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B is for Berlin and the place for Marathon World Records

So yes, it’s been actually a month since running Berlin (28th September) and yes I’ve been a bit slack in updating the blog lately and I’ve also been travelling but that is not an excuse.

To get to Berlin from Wellington, NZ is a fair bit of travel. Door to door I think it took me about 40hrs until I slumped on the bed in a Berlin hotel room completely exhausted. Not the best way to run a marathon in a few days with that kind of travelling.

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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.


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.


Expo area with sponsors


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


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


Meeting Sage Canaday in the Redwoods


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.


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)


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.