Cigna Wellington Round the Bays 2017

Hello Everyone, Thought I’d share something that I had written a few years ago leading upto the 2013 Round the Bays. If you are aiming to run a PB for the 21.1km (Half Marathon) you may find some useful information. I have done RTB half for a number of years and last year (2016) I volunteered as a Pacer for the 1:45 group.


Pacing 1:45 Half Marathon Group at Cigna Round the Bays in 2016
The following series of posts are written geared towards those of you who want to target a specific goal time on your half marathon and I hope you find this helpful. As a Wellington based runner I am always happy to help others.

All the best and good luck with your training!

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.


The Week in London & Energizer Night Run 10k

Last Friday (12th April) I left NZ for a work trip to London. This was a very short trip (5 actual days in London) and I made sure that I packed my Running gear with me. Just before heading off on the trip I found out via @leahevansnz on Twitter about the Energizer Night Run which was being held on the Saturday night (13th) in London’s Battersea Park. Basically meant after a 32hours of traveling door to door from Wellington, NZ and within 6 hours of me arriving in London I had a 10km race scheduled! Nothing like an all out run to cure jet lag!

The International flight from Auckland to London via LAX was without any dramas but I was not able to sleep much on both legs. Arrived in London around 2pm local time on Saturday and checked into my hotel near Buckingham Gate near Victoria. Pretty close to the Conference venue where I was attending a conference and speaking at. (I won’t bore you all with my work stuff) So anyways I was feeling pretty tired by the time I got into my room and after a quick shower I decided to have a nap and set my alarm to 6:00pm. I was out for the count! If not for the alarm I would have just slept through. Getting up a little dazed I had to kind of remember where I was and that I had to go run 10k! The event start was at 8:30pm and Battersea Park was about 3kms from where I was. Looked at the weather and it was drizzling with rain and was pretty cold out. I put on my gear and headed out around 7ish. I was feeling pretty tired but a couple of cups of coffee before kind of made it OK. (not my usual choice before a race but I knew I wasn’t not in any way going to run a PB). Took a Taxi to the venue since I didn’t want to try and find my way there and get lost.

The event HQ was inside a great hall where I picked up my registration pack. There was a whole lot of people already there and they had a very efficient team to get your registration pack quickly.

Event Registration for Energizer Night Run

Event Registration for Energizer Night Run

The registration pack contained the racing number bib with some electronic timing thingy already attached to it, safety pins, a T-Shirt, an arm wrist band to gain entry the “after party” and an Energizer LED head lamp!

Energizer Gear Bag

Energizer Gear Bag

Afterwards you could head into the main hall where all runners were gathering. This was a big hall with a bar and some food stalls as well a DJ! Loads of people were in there getting ready to run! I met up with @leahevansnz at one of the stalls and said a quick hello! Great to see a whole bunch of other Kiwis joining in the run as well.

On the main stage inside the hall the crowd was greeted by Nicola Adams (Gold at Boxing in London 2012).

Warming Up Inside the Hall with Nicola Adams

Warming Up Inside the Hall with Nicola Adams

I headed outside the hall and it was pretty much raining at this time. So it was going to be wet and cold – hmm why did I sign up for this again? Well anyways I made myself to the start so I could get into a reasonable position. The only comment I have about the start was that they started all the runners in one go. Meaning 5km and 10km runners were all together so it was hard to gauge who was racing who. Anyways we were waved off by Nicole Adams and the race began. The first Km was pretty easy and although I was tired the feeling of all other runners around me got me into a good rhythm. Since this was in a park it was somewhat of a loop course where the 10k runners did two loops of the course with some sharp turns inside the park. I passed 5k around 21mins and then ran the last 5k slightly slower and resulting in a final time of 43min:13secs. Not my fastest but not bad after traveling 36hrs.

Energizer Night Run 10km in Battersea Park - London

Energizer Night Run 10km in Battersea Park – London

The event was a lot of fun and well organized. Check out some of the photos on the Energizer Night Run UK facebook page. After the run each runner was given a medal! I was pretty cold and tired by the end. So got back to my hotel pretty quick without waiting for the “after-party” and was asleep before I knew it!

On Monday afternoon I heard the news of what happened at the Boston Marathon. I was immediately concerned about a couple of runners from our Wellington Scottish Athletics club who was running in Boston. (They are safe as they finished before the explosions!)   It angered me on many levels like so many others in the running community. I’m not going to write a whole post about it – suffice to say that I was thinking of everyone who are affected by senseless acts like this all over the world and not just Boston. My Tuesday run was special because I felt that whatever the odds we can still keep going. Fellow running blogger super generic girl sums this up nicely on her post.

Rest of the week was pretty much attending the conference and doing work stuff. I managed to do some regular runs early in the morning in the nearby parks of St James, Hyde Park and along the Thames river. On a few occasions I had a few group runs with people from the conference also coming along. Hyde Park is a great place for running with so many options!

I am at Heathrow airport about to board my flight back to NZ. I land on Saturday morning (It’s Thursday here and I lose Friday in the air). Sunday is the first Xterra Trail Run in Wellington! keep 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!

Running in groups

As a runner you sometimes prefer the solitude of running alone with the ability of going on your own routes & running at your own pace. There are times where you want to explore a little bit more unknown territory and new routes, you aren’t really sure if that trail that you saw while driving is runnable or even where it may lead you. Is it safe? Will there be mad rabbits and or farmers chasing you if you venture out to the unknown? Exploring new routes is all part of the fun of running. When I first started out running I did what most people do – stick to known roads and areas that I’m familiar with, however after a while it becomes a bit boring, yes you can zone out and listen to music or whatever but as soon as running becomes a chore the fun of running is gone!

Some of my best experiences in running has been discovering new routes & trails that’s around in Wellington! (Literally hundreds of Kilometers) Even after running for 3 years I keep discovering new trails. The only reason that I’ve been able to find new trails/routes is because I try and run at least once a week with other runners.

We as runners are always apprehensive when someone else asks us “Hey you should come running with me!” – Our immediate reaction most of the time is – “oh no I’m going to hold you up I’ll be slow” or inside our head we go “oh god! I’ve seen your times you are freaking fast – I’ll be gasping for breath to keep up” – Believe me – I have been like this many a time when others first approached me to join their groups for runs. The reality is if another runner or group is asking you to run with them is not to poke fun at you for running slow or anything else, they are either wanting some company or want to show you some new routes. Now I absolutely love going running with others. I have made these runs to actually work to my advantage and also fit in with my training runs.

So here’s what I did. (And what you could do..)

  • From runners that you know (friends, colleagues, strangers you meet on the internet via twitter) identify a few that you know that you can hold a conversation with (It helps to get over that awkwardness of having nothing to say for a few kms while running).
  • Also if you are wanting to try out new routes you’d want to make sure that they themselves are familiar with the new trails. (It’s no fun for both of you to get lost exploring a new trail!) This is a tricky one, it’s happened to me, Lucky for me she wasn’t an axe murderer. 🙂
  • Join a running club or group – there are quite a few around and this is by far the best option since you are guaranteed to find runners who are in the same pace as you! – Clubs organize weekly “Pack runs” with experienced runners setting various group paces and no one get’s left behind in the trails woods to be eaten by rabbits or wolves. There are other benefits of joining up such as mentoring, coaching and also participating events that you might not otherwise go by yourself.

Things to watch out for.. (and rightly avoid as much as you can..)

  • Run every single day with the same person – unless they are your immediate family, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife and you have no choice!
  • Talk endlessly about how awesome you think they are or you are or your BF/GF/Dog/Cat/Family is – stick to some general conversation and give the other person some room to talk (and room to run too)
  • On narrow trails – one of you will have to go in front – be sure you know the trail if you are or let them lead!
  • Avoid running with complete strangers whom you met on twitter or Facebook! Unless of course they are ‘known’ runners and have been twitter stalking you for a while telling you how awesome you are!
"Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was running!" - FORREST GUMP

“Now you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was running!” – FORREST GUMP