Guess my Marathon finish time – Giveaway

This is my first attempt at running a Marathon and I thought it would be fun to run a little competition. The rules are relatively very simple.

  1. All you have to do is guess what my Marathon finish time will be and leave a comment on this post. The said Marathon is on June 23rd 2013 and I’ve been training for it since beginning of March 2013.
  2. Anyone can enter but only one entry per person is allowed. Yes it does not matter whether you run or not and live in Timbuktu. I will post the prize to wherever you are.
  3. The person who guesses my closest finish time (in HH:MM format ex: 04:30) will win the ultimate prize.
  4. If multiple entries of the same time is posted then I will randomly select a winner on the 24th June after the Marathon.
  5. Oh and you must enter before the 21st of June 2013 to be eligible for the prize.

So what can you win? I am giving away a copy of Mal Law’s – One Step Beyond to the lucky winner (and it’s a signed copy by Mal too!). What’s that book about you ask? Well I think you should head over to this great review by the super awesome super generic girl about Mal’s book. If you want the details direct from the source go and have a nosey on RunningWild NZ.

Ultra Running Man Mr Karnazes has this to say about the book!

Review by Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon runner and best-selling author

“Mal dealt with loss and adversity, yet he overcame them in an extraordinary way. In taking One Step Beyond he proves that while the human body may have its limitations, the human spirit is truly boundless.”

So get on down to the comments area and have at it! Guess what time I’ll finish my first Marathon in or not… 🙂

Happy guessing!

8 weeks to the Wellington Marathon

It’s been 8 weeks since I started my 16 week training plan aiming to complete the Wellington Marathon on 23rd of June 2013. So I’m exactly half way in my training schedule. On Saturday 4th of May I am running the Rotorua Half Marathon. This is essentially a time trial of sorts to see how my training has progressed. Ideally I am hoping that I can run a PB and beat my previous half marathon time of 1:33:54. The Rotorua course is known as being hilly so this might not be the case that I beat my PB. In any case I want to try and maintain even splits for the whole 21.1kms and see where I end up!

Last Sunday I ran one of my first longest runs in the 16 week plan on one of Wellington’s classic training loops. The 34km Makara Loop is the play ground of many a famous Wellington distance runners. Known for its hills and the nice flats passing through Ohariu Valley it’s regarded as a must do loop in Runners Guide to Wellington. So anyways I was joined on this loop by a few of my running buddies from Wellington Scottish Athletics club and Wellington Running Meetup Group. This was a pretty hard run I must say, although previously I had run a similar distance on trails (Rakiura Track) the Makara loop was pretty relentless. It was a steady pace all the way. By about the 28km mark coming through Johnsonville I started questioning myself! “why the hell am I doing this” and the last 5km was the hardest 5km I’ve ever run. Suffice to say I lost my confidence in myself if I’d be ever able to run a full marathon. This some say is what it’s about getting ready for a marathon and hitting the proverbial WALL! So it was first hand experience that even when you feel good at 25km and think ah it’s another 7km to go within a space of few Km’s things can change and change rapidly! I guess I should just take a teaspoon of cement and carry on with the next 8 weeks!

Here is the map & profile of the loop for those who are interested. We started from Karori Park and went over Makara hill towards Johnsonville and back to Karori Park.

MakaraLoop34k MakaraLoopProfile

Running with the group kind of helped but was also tough as trying to catchup when you dropped off pace. In any case I’m glad I was able to finish the loop. And I’m determined to run the same loop again at least once before the Marathon.

So in the last 8 weeks I’ve managed to hit 100km weekly mileage twice. Once at the start and also at in the 8th week. So it’s a classic Hard, Easy, Moderate, Hard cycle as you can see from the below training log.

8 Week Training Log

8 Week Training Log

The last 8 weeks in numbers:

Total KM run: 651km
Average Km per Week: 81km
Longest Run: 34km

The next 8 weeks my plan is to incorporate some key conditioning sessions along with some speed and strength workouts to my schedule. Then I’ll start a 2 week taper starting from week 14. The 16 week plan has changed again somewhat based on what I’ve done and it’s going to be updated soon.

Also this is the club cross country season so there are a number of club events that I am interested in doing. I am no where near fast compared to some of the other club runners but I’m going to give some events a go to at least get some experience. All going well I’ll be able to improve my time over distances like 5km and 10km.

If you are training for any running event I would like to share this documentary with you. It’s a two part series and something that will inspire you in your running goals.

If you are training for the Wellington Marathon or any Marathon for that matter leave a comment and share your thoughts! How is your training going?

Xterra Beautiful Mad Muddy Makara Race 1 recap

It’s a beautiful day – Sky falls, you feel like
It’s a beautiful day – Don’t let it get away

You’re on the road – But you’ve got no destination
You’re in the mud – In the maze of her imagination

You love this town – Even if that doesn’t ring true
You’ve been all over – And it’s been all over you

It’s a beautiful day – Don’t let it get away – It’s a beautiful day

So why am I quoting a U2 song on a race recap? Well let me tell you that Xterra Race 1 was absolutely amazing! Yes regardless of the rain, the mud and the hard graft climbs it was beautiful!

This was my first Xterra Trail Race of the series. The series consists of four trail races with options of a short, medium and long course options. This is great since anyone can have a go by choosing a distance that they are comfortable in. I signed up for the Long course over the series. The first race was in quite familiar territory for me in the Makara Peak mountain bike park. A haven for mountain bikers and the occasional runners who are brave enough to venture into run the trails now and then. Essentially the total length of all tracks combined is about 50kms give or take a few! The park is only about 20mins drive from central Wellington where I live and I have ridden my Mountain Bike on some of these tracks so I was somewhat prepared for what I was in for.

Another side note that I should add before I continue on this recap is that I’d just gotten back from a week in London. I’d been inside a plane for about 20-30hrs and Saturday was mostly spent recovering! Essentially a week of what was mostly running on the flat roads of London. The last “hill” run that I had run was the Porirua Grand Traverse. In any case I wasn’t out there to “race” but run on some awesome trails with a whole bunch of others and enjoy it!

Sunday 21st April morning started pretty much with a downpour and driving to the start I knew this run was going to be pretty much a wet and muddy affair. However it wasn’t that cold since there was hardly any wind which was a bonus some might say in Wellington.

There was a long queue at registration since essentially the first race was a sell out with over 500 people taking part in across all of different event options! After picking up my registration number and timing chip and getting my gear all sorted I headed to the start of the race and met up with some of the others from the Wellington Running Meetup Group. Most were doing the short and medium course.

Xterra Wellington Running Meetup

Xterra Wellington – with Friends from Running Meetup

The Long Course runners (which included me) was waved off after a race briefing around 9:15am from up the road from the ‘official’ start gate. This was to allow everyone to get into multiple groups for the first part which was a gradual uphill on some single track where passing wasn’t that easy. I was kind of in the ‘middle’ group averaging about 6min/7min km pace for the first part of the run. The first part is on two well maintained trails (which was soggy not muddy) named Koru and up Sally Alley. Then heading down via Missing Link to Nikau Valley with a climb up via Possum Track and then all the way up Leaping Lizard and onto Aratihi to Makara Peak (highest point at around 410m).  Then it’s a downhill via Vertigo! Yup Vertigo! as the name suggest was pretty vertically downhill, it was pretty technical and classed as an “Expert” downhill track in MTB terms! And going down that on a rainy and muddy day was pretty much interesting to say the least! It was part mud skidding and sliding all the way down! And just when you thought things can’t be that bad after this, you headed UP in to Trickle Falls aka “Tricky Falls” – I have no idea how any one would ever use this as a downhill or an uphill mountain bike trail. Trickle falls is steep, rocky and goes over 1km back up to Makara Peak, pretty much I was walking and clambering up the steep rocky slopes at this stage. Some others in front of me was having difficulty and was sliding backwards for each couple of steps! It was slow going but eventually made it back up to Makara Peak with about 15kms into the race! After that climb it’s a pretty good run along Ridgeline and then onto Big Tom’s wheelie and onto Lazy Fern where it was a smooth & fast run back to the Finish! Total time without any major mishaps apart from falling back on my arse a couple of times on mud 2hrs 23! Out of the Men’s open field smack bang in the middle again!

Xterra Makara Long Course Profile

Xterra Makara Long Course Profile Total ascent ~900m over 19.5km total distance on my Garmin

Xterra Trail Map of Makara Run

Xterra Trail Map of Makara Run

I had fun! I was completely covered in Mud! I was wet, cold but I didn’t care! I was smiling and wanted more! It was just what I needed on a Sunday! After the race I chatted with a few people and grabbed a coffee from the cart and headed back to my car.

Xterra Fun!

Xterra Fun!


I’m already looking forward to the Second Xterra Race on the 12th of May! Until then I have the Rotorua Half Marathon next weekend on Saturday 4th May! I’ll update how I went in that next week!

Happy muddy 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

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!