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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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.

 

The Skyline 160 – Post Event Update

160kms (100mile) relay on one of Wellington’s iconic trails – don’t mind if I help myself to a lap or two of that awesomeness with an even awesomer group of runners!

The idea was conceived by local runner/web stocker Mike Brown whilst.. wait for it running! Mike is part of Wellington Running Meetup who hold regular running events and help get like minded folk come together and run some of Wellington’s sweet trails. The Skyline trail runs along the ridge line starting from Karori (Makara hill) then connects to Mt Kaukau (the one with the tall radio mast overlooking Wellington).

One way is roughly about 10kms and a return is 20kms or so. So the idea was simply start at 10am (officially) then run there (1 lap) and back (2laps) in a continuous relay where runners can run a single lap or two laps (out and back) till 160kms was completed in 24hrs ending at 10am the next day. Officially there was 16 legs since each leg was  10kms to complete the 160kms.

From Saturday 1st Feb morning there was a stream of runners who started from 10am  and ran multiple laps so they could just be part of it. I signed up to do the final leg which started at 7am on Sunday 2nd February. I was joined by Amanda (celebrity runner), Gemma and Alastair. In fact Alastair had already done 2 laps (20ks) and he was doing another 2 to make it 40km in total. Amanda had already done 1 since she started at the Kaukau end and Gemma had done 2 the day before so I was in some serious running company.

We headed off at 7am on the last two legs – Leg 15 to Kaukau and Leg 16 final leg back to Makara start. It was a stunning Wellington morning with a slight southerly breeze coming off the tops and perfect weather for an early morning jaunt on the hills. We hit Kaukau in about an hour and a bit and picked up another runner Clinton who joined us at Kaukau. After a quick stop and some drinks we headed back, Amanda bid adieu at Kaukau so it was me, Alastair, Clinton and Gemma who were on the final leg back. Here are some photos from throughout the day and all those wonderful runners who were part of this great event. I think that this will be a keeper and we’ll do the same next year!

Ewa not enjoying the early morning shift being on support watch at top of Makara Hill - apparently sleeping in a car is not that fun whilst people are out running through the night

Ewa not enjoying the early morning shift being on support watch at top of Makara Hill – apparently sleeping in a car is not that fun whilst people are out running through the night

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All set for the last two legs of the Skyline 160 – Alastair, Amanda (in her trademark yellow fancy pants), Gemma and Me.

 

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Skyline 160 enjoying the views

 

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Looking towards Kaukau in the distance and some company heading our way

 

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At top of Kaukau Leg 15 complete only 1 to go!

 

Mark and Ash who started it the day before doing the first two legs.

 

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Some of the other regulars from Wellington Running Meetup

 

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Some of the other regulars from Wellington Running Meetup

 

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Mike who tricked Mark to run with him in the middle of the night! They both seem happy enough.

 

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Squeaky the Pig is transitioned from Ewa to Mike in the middle of the night.

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We are officially done! 16th leg completed! Gemma, Clinton and Alastair.

 

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So many hills, so little time…

Collectively I think we ran more than 160kms and vertical ascent would be close to 120,000 or more easily! Two laps is about 850meters or so according to my Garmin. Here is the elevation profile from my two laps.

Makara to Kaukau and Back Elevation

Happy trails and if you are in Wellington come join Wellington Running Meetup! More awesome photos are here on Meetup Event page.

5km Races and Running Improvements

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:

Event Date Time
Lower Hutt parkrun 25/01/2014 19:36 Current PB
Hamilton Lake parkrun 28/12/2013 19:53
Porirua parkrun 30/11/2013 19:59
Wellington 5k 19/11/2013 19:55
Wellington 5k 29/10/2013 19:41
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.
    HRZones2 HRZones
  • 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.
    Weekly100kmIncidentally 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.

Happy running!

My first 120km week

Yes, that’s 120 kilometers (75miles) of running, not in one go of course but a full week with no rest days. This is the first time I have ever attempted to run this much and it went really well and my body surprisingly held up well. I was feeling a bit sluggish towards the end of day 6 but still managed to complete my goal. Here is how the week went.

2014 Jan 120km Week

2014 Jan 120km Week

Monday – 25kms

Monday was a fantastic sunny day, and it was such a contrast from Sunday where I managed a very wet 18km run. So I took advantage of the great sunny weather and headed out thinking I’ll do about 16kms but ended up doing an even paced 25km in 2hrs.

Monday Run Along the Bays

Monday Run Along the Bays with a dip in the sea at the end

Tuesday – Easy 10km

I was a little bit stiff on Tuesday so I did a very slow paced 60min run and completed 10kms followed by some easy stretching. Felt really good by the afternoon so I knew I was recovered well.

Wednesday – Moderate 12km plus Stairs and Speed = 22.5km

Managed to do a nice and easy but steady 12km run with a another 1km to cool down early morning. In the evening I was scheduled to go and run with the training group I am hosting as part of Wellington Running Meetup. I have been helping a group with their half marathon preparations for a few weeks and we all meet every Wednesday at 6:15. We did 3 x 360 stairs on one of the steepest paths in Wellington (on Maida Vale Road). After that we all did 2 x 1.5km laps at tempo speed. So a total of 22kms for Wednesday.

Wednesday Running Meetup Group

Wednesday Running Meetup Group

Thursday – 11km trails

I was surprised at how well my body was holding up given all the running till now. I decided to head to one of my favorite trails near where I live and did an easy 11km loop. This is Korokoro trail near Petone, its a gentle trail that runs along the stream and is one of the best trails near where I live.

Korokoro Stream Trail

Korokoro Stream Trail

Friday – 10kms

An easy run to loosen up and some stretching. I was felling a bit sluggish but managed to get in 10kms relatively easily.

Saturday 18km – Mt Climie (Long Hill)

This was a pretty hard one – Mt Climie is North East of Upper Hutt – with a total elevation gain of 850m from start to finish it is one of the best ‘hill’ runs of the area. The views from the top is pretty spectacular (on a good day). And as it was Saturday was a fantastic day with no wind and blue skies.

 

This run is also on Page 62 of Runners Guide to Wellington. I organised this run with the Running Meetup Group and there were 12 of us who went up Climie.

Mt Climie (aka Climbie)

Mt Climie (aka Climbie)

 Sunday – 23kms

My legs were a bit stiff after Saturday’s run but I still wanted to get in an even paced 2hr run. So I headed into town and went past the bays and did a nice circuit loop past Miramar for 23kms and bringing my week to a finish with 121kilometers!

120km done in 7days

120km done in 7days

A few things to note.. I didn’t randomly decide to run 120kms, I was building up gradually and over the last 3months I have done 90+ Km weeks and a few 100km weeks. This was the peak at week 8 of of a 16 week training cycle. This week I will keep my mileage at around 85km + range the gradually taper off to about 60km closer to the end of the cycle. I have mentioned previously about how I have built up distance over a period of time. The next 6-8 weeks my training will include some key speed sessions to get ready for my next half marathon on 23rd February.

What’s the most you have run in a week?