Lessons from Running and PB week

No matter how good you are at something, there’s always a million people better than you
– Homer Simpson

HomerS

Saturday 17th August was a good day, I ran a PB in a local club 10km event. I was a whole 2 minutes faster than my previous 10k time. Then again I was pretty slow compared to all the others in my age group. Just to put this into perspective, the current world record for a 10km road race is currently 26:44 (Yes that’s 26mins). British Athlete Mo Farah (aka MObot) runs the same distance on track (10,000m) in 26:46, the track world record is held by Ethiopian runner named Kenenisa Bekele. Previous record holder for 10,000m and still number two is the great Haile Gebrselassie in 26:22. The New Zealand Record holder for 10,000m is Dick Quax in 27:41 with Jonathan Wyatt holding the 10km road title in 28:04. (Source Athletics NZ – http://www.anzrankings.org.nz/site/records_con ).

In the senior men category in which I ran there were 40 Wellington club affiliated runners (There were also other age group runners, Senior men, Masters etc which made the whole field to be about 120 runners). Evan Cooper from Wellington Harriers won the race in a time of 31:39. Glen Hughes from Wellington Scottish came second in 31:46. I was 36th in the senior field and 77th overall with my PB time of 42:00 (yes I was bang on 42:00) – my previous 10km time was around 44 or close to 45mins (which I ran in London this year) so being able getting it down to 42mins was a bonus. The race itself was run on a 2km lap course which made it somewhat easier to pace myself. I wanted to run as close to 4:00min per Km as possible. I had two club mates who was around my pace so we had a great race between the three of us and I was able to hold off both of them and take my “PB win”.

10 km Splits

Above are my 1 Km splits, note that odd laps were slightly uphill gradient hence the time being a tad slow and the even laps of course coming down and being faster. This had a pretty tiring effect on the legs overall. I made my move at the 8km mark and ran up the hill fast and let go on the down. Net result an even average of 4:05min Per Km. This is one the great things about being part of a club, it gives you an opportunity to compete in regional events also if you become a racing member you get your own timing tag! If you want to know more about joining a club check out Wellington Scottish or come around to the Wellington Waterfront on a Tuesday at 5:30 to take part in the Waterfront 5k run and a chat.

10kmPB

Until next time! happy running..

 

Wellington Marathon 2013 – I am a marathon finisher!

It’s official! I am now a marathoner with a debut personal best time of 3:25:56.

When I started training for the (local) Wellington Marathon I had no specific time goal in mind. My main focus was to train well & make it to the start with no injuries & being able to finish the distance in relative (dis)comfort. Having done quite a few half marathons this was kind of a big deal to have a Marathon under my belt.

I am not a fast runner or an gifted athlete by any stretch of imagination. However, I like to think that I am focused & disciplined when it comes to training, because I know that one can’t simply turn up & run a marathon with little to no training. Some people might be able to but that’s not me & I’ve done enough research to know that if you put our body through such stress as running a marathon with little to no training the long term risks to your health can be very significant.

Training for this marathon was also a way for me to learn about nutrition, physiology & experimenting with my own training program. I set out a 16 week program loosely taking some training schedule guidance from the book “Advanced Marathoning” and as a first time Marathoner the information in this book was very valuable. For example I learned about Glycogen depletion, Hydration & how to avoid some of the common mistakes in training, learned about allowing the body to recover, about threshold training and a whole lot more. In the end all of these mattered, even in the last 2 weeks when faced with a possible injury the guiding principals of recovery was fundamental in being able to start with a positive attitude & completing the marathon. (Which I must add was far better time than I thought I’d be able to).

Due to the bad weather Wellington had in the 3-4 days prior to the event the organisers had to change the Marathon course. Wellington’s south coast road was a mess after the massive storm, with winds of upto 140km/h & waves that breached over the protective walls damaging most of the roads. We had non stop rain for 2 days & Saturday prior to the event it just rained non stop. Nevertheless in true Wellington style it all cleared up on Sunday (race day) morning with only a southerly breeze of about 20-30kms at start & this diminished towards the middle part of the race & by the end the sun was out! So in terms of race conditions of a mid-winter marathon it was pretty good.

The start was at the WestPac stadium & I got to the start around 7am to meet up with my training buddies whom I have done most of my longer runs with. Some of them were aiming for PBs having done previous marathons. I was just happy to start. It was a bit chilly so we huddled to the start & after a short briefing about the course change we were off right on 7:30am.

Prior to the race I broke my race into 4 phases. First an easy steady warm up of 8kms just under 5min per Km pace, I had no intention of running hard out from the start. Next a steady 16kms to get me to halfway around 4:45-5:00 but with the option of dropping down to 5:15 if things started hurting. I passed the half marathon point in 1:41 which was a tad faster than I thought, however I was feeling pretty comfortable so I kept a steady pace of around 4:45min per Km. Once I got to 32km I wanted to run the last 10kms at about 4:35-4:45 pace. With the course having been altered there was a short out & back section so I could see the leaders & the chasers. There were few of the club runners whom I knew so it was good to cheer them on a couple of times. Once the twice out & back was completed the course continued on back to the WestPac stadium via the same route. This incidentally was also the point where the half marathon runners merged with the marathoners. I hit this point just as the 2:00hr half marathon pacer & following group merged. I cruised past them & kept on a steady pace. At around 36km marker my legs started seizing up, it was a bit frustrating a physically I was not tired & with my legs seizing up my pace started to drop gradually to around 5:15 per Km. In the end I was finished in 3:25:56 which I am very very happy about!

During the run I had a packet of Gu Chomps (Orange Flavour) with me which was my main fuel source for the whole run along with regular water and electrolytes on offer at fuel stations.

So there you have it, my first marathon and it was a great experience. Here is a map of the course from my Garmin stats. Results online at: http://tiktok.biz/wellingtonmarathon/2013/

Wellington Marathon 2013

Wellington Marathon 2013

If you are planning to run a marathon for the first time here is my advice:

  • Run at least 2-3 half marathons before you attempt a full marathon
  • Give your self at least a 12 week period to train adequately
  • Do at least 3-4 long runs of 30km or more during your training
  • Add some speed work gradually (5k races are great for speed work)
  • Learn about nutrition and hydration and what works for you
  • Taper for at least 2 weeks

With that I’d also like to thank everyone who has sent me best wishes via twitter and by posting comments on the blog. As some of you know I posted about the small competition I ran for my readers on guessing my marathon finish time. I would like say congrats to @talkingtothecan who guessed the closet time of 3:24!

I am taking a break from running for a week and will be back into training with the main focus being the Able Tasman Trail Run in late September this year. This is one of New Zealand’s epic trail runs and I am looking forward to it!

Wellington RTB Half Marathon recap

As I sit here and write this I am pretty stoked on how today went! Most importantly I am pleased that my training (self coaching) was just right to get me to achieve today’s personal best time of 1:33:55 (unofficial time) 1:33:54 (official time). In any case I broke 1:35 which was my primary goal! If you were following my previous updates on the 5 week race specific plan I did for RTB head over here and have a look.
Just to give you all a recap here are my previous half marathon times from previous years.

What this shows is with the correct level of training (gradual) you can continue to improve overtime. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts I increased my mileage gradually and my main goal is to be relatively injury free so I can run pretty much all through out the year.

So how did today go? When I woke up around 5:30am first thing I did was check the weather forecast! I live pretty much in central Wellington so looking outside I could see the bays and water was pretty calm and still, It was just perfect. Not much wind and not sunny with a slight southerly breeze! Then I had my usual pre-event breakfast – 2 Crumpets with Peanut butter & a banana. That’s it. No coffee! I usually don’t drink coffee for 24hours if I am doing an event. This BTW makes it all the better when you finally have a coffee after the event!

Put on my running gear got a bag packed for post race and off I went to the start leaving home at 7:30. For this run I decided I not to have music with me – I was more ficused on maintaining my own rhythm and decided to ditch the music (not the first time I’ve done this). Just as I was walking along the Waterfront I saw Hinano was already there and she was warming up! I gave a high-five to her as I passed (I was semi-jogging) and said good luck. Checked in my bag and saw a few of my club runners and chatted for a bit. Then did the final all important pit-stop before starting a slow jog to get my legs moving. I don’t go into a full warm up routine if I am running anything more than 10k. Just a light jog and some easy stretches.

I chatted with a few of the other club runners and I saw Dave (fast runner usually about 1:20 PB) was one of the pacers for the 1:40 group. Just had a general chit chat and said to him “Well, Dave, this would probably be the only time I’d have a chance to beat you eh!” 🙂

Headed over to the start and another of our senior club runners Glen was there, he was aiming to run 1:35 so I said great! Let’s pace each other! There was about an 8min delay at the start and you could see everyone was anxious to get away. Glen and I were just in between the 1:30 pacer and the 1:40 pacer. My aim was to stick to 4:30ish pace no matter what. The race started and off we all went!

There was a massive surge and a whole bunch of people flew past me and Glen in the first km. We were like what the hell? Surely we are NOT that slow? First Km split was 4:22 pretty easy going and I was not going to fall into the trap of going too fast. Second was in 4:24, the third in 4:19 and we go to 5k in 21min 50secs – so far so good we were into a pretty good rhythm. By about the 7km mark we were passing a lot of people and guess what.. they were the one’s who went out like bats out of hell at the start and struggling a bit to keep up the pace. By around the 9km mark I was into a very good rhythm and kept going around the 4:25ish pace which was exactly what I wanted. I had one Gu Energy Gel with me so I took some of that with water as we passed the next water station. I passed 10k marker just shy of my 10k PB! At this stage Glen had fallen back a bit.

About the 11k point some of the Elite runners were heading back! I yelled out encouragement to a few of them that I knew from our club. I passed 13.7kms in 60mins which was also the turnaround point!

After 14km marker I was running at max and fighting the usual pains that comes with running at max. I just kept telling myself that It was only a another 1km to go and so forth! By the 17th Km my left leg felt really stiff and my ITB started hurting this was bearable but my pace dropped to around the 4:30ish mark. I kept pushing and by 19th Km mark Glen caught up to me again! I just ignored the pain and got right behind him and upped my pace. The last 2km was pretty hard and painful but also good because I pushed and was able to run the last Km in my fastest split of 4min 16 to a sprint finish with Glen just slightly ahead of me! Final time : 1hr 33mins 55secs (unofficial) with an average pace of 4min 23secs resulting in a new PB shaving off about 4mins from my previous best time!

RTB Time 2013

RTB Time 2013 on my Garmin

2013 RTB Official Time

2013 RTB Official Time

Looking at my splits here is what happened. It was pretty even and my strategy to try for even splits worked well. I am glad I went through enough tempo runs in my training as well as my almost weekly 5k races. These are all important in training.

RTB 2013 Splits

RTB 2013 Splits

So all in all a great day and pretty happy with how everything worked. Next week it’s going to be an easy week and I am looking forward to just hitting some of the local trails and do some easy running! Next weekend 23rd Feb (Saturday) I am running with the Round Lake Taupo relay with the Wellington Running Meetup group. I am looking forward to that which will be pretty fun!

After this event my main goal is the Wellington Marathon! This is essentially what I’ve been building up for the last three years. I am creating a 17 week training plan starting from 4th March 2013 leading upto 23rd June 2013! In between I’ll be doing a few other events as well. Check out my Races and Places page for these!

Happy running!