I’ve completed a Marathon – now what?

Some say that immediately after you finish your first Marathon that it’s normal to say “Never doing this again!!” as you slowly crawl out of bed the next day and try to get some movement out of your legs. It hurts there is no denying that, in my case my legs hurt for a couple of days immediately afterwards but this gradually subsided as days went by. I took a full 8 days off running and pretty much gave my body a good well earned rest. Now having slowly started easing into some gradual runs I am looking at what I had initially planned for rest of the year.

I already have an event planned for September (Abel Tasman) which is almost Marathon distance at 40km but unlike a road race is entirely on trails. Long term my goal is to target another Marathon in 2014, this time however with a time goal. (most likely Rotorua Marathon in may 2014). With these goals in mind I have looked at my past training plan (based on a 16 week cycle) and is now essentially putting together a plan (28 weeks from 1 July to 28 December 2013) that will carry me through to end of this year. The last two weeks has been build up weeks with a steady build up in base mileage (building up to about 100k -120k per week) which will continue for 4-6 weeks more. During this period I have potentially two Half Marathons that I can use to tune my race pace. The first is coming up in three weeks in Taupo (4th August) and I’ll pretty much train through it without a taper. Second half marathon that I might consider doing is in September, however it’s one week before the Abel Tasman Trail Run. Based on how I am feeling I might end up skipping that and conserve my energy for Abel Tasman.

Key is to continue building up mileage through winter and then start speed work in Spring to be able to target a couple of races over summer and better my half marathon times. Would be interesting to know how others plan their yearly plans.

Happy running!

Xterra Event 2 – The Orongorongos

Last weekend Sunday was the second of the Xterra trail running events in Wellington. The second race was held over in the Catchpool valley and Oronogorongo river located in the Rimutaka Forest Park just about 15kms from Wellington city. The park has some great trails and naturally was a great setting for race 2 of the Xterra event. To make things even better the day was just picture perfect. Just have a look at the photo below courtesy of Logan Ackers of the race start.

Xterra Race 2 Orongorongo

Xterra Race 2 Orongorongo – Photo Credit Xterra – Logan Ackers

Check out the Xterra Facebook page for more race day photos.

Anyways there is a great post over at Backcountry runner of how things went from the point of view from front of the pack.

After the “horn” went off (there was no gun) – I settled into mid pack with a couple of others from my club and we ran the first 5km or so at a steady pace. The trail was easy and undulating and after 5kms it was into a climb up an old 4WD track to the topmost point. I ran/walked parts of it and kept getting passed by a few people. Then it was some steady running along the ridge line. After the ridge line bit I got into my “downhill” mode and flew past a few people who overtook me on the climb. The next bit was technical and there were some roots to deal with and going got a bit slower then another 2km of look out for roots and protect your ankle. At the 15km point the trail became fairly even with a bit of slushy mud from the few days of rain we had the last few days. I ran this bit as fast as I could without getting too carried away. The total distance ended up being roughly about 19.6kms in 2hours 17mins according to my Garmin.

As it happened there was a ‘technical glitch’ and some of the timing chips had failed for about more than half of the runners who took part. The organising team worked really hard to figure out and hopefully fix this but in the end they could only officially provide only a handful of timings. In any case no one really cared – I didn’t anyways. I enjoyed the great day and the company of my fellow trail runners. Looking forward to the next event which will be a night run in a weeks time.

Enjoying a post race recap with fellow trail runners

Enjoying a post race recap with fellow trail runners

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!

XterraWLG1

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!

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!

Marathon training update weeks 2 to 5

I posted about my first week update on the 16 week Marathon training plan that I am currently following a few weeks back! Now I’m well into the program and is at end of week 5. The 16 week Marathon plan has undergone some significant changes since I first published it – the updated version can be found here. This has been due to some valuable feedback from experienced Marathoners and also because of a few *new* events that I have signed up for. First I’ll talk about how the last 4 weeks had gone and then outline the updated plan.

Key highlights:

  • I do at least 1 or 2 runs of approximately 16km or 22km each week regardless of my long run
  • I attended the New Zealand Mountain Running camp in week 4 of the plan and ran about 60kms in 4 days with two back to back runs over 2hrs duration
  • I am recovering faster and can run a 14km run at steady pace
  • I ran a 5km PB (20:28) at Park Run on week 3
  • Ran a steady 25km run in just over 2hrs at an average pace of 5min per km

New Events

Major Updates to the 16 Week Training Plan (Actually 11 weeks to go)

  • Added 3 runs of 35kms to the plan leading into the Marathon
  • Extra Tempo and Interval sessions and Goal Pace runs
  • Track work 1600m repeats and 800m repeats

Below is the breakdown of the updated plan!

Completed 5weeks Marathon

Completed 5weeks Marathon Plan

Note that on Sunday 7th I am running another off-road trail/mountain run of 18km at the Porirua Grand Traverse event. A recap will follow as usual. Head over here to get the latest updated Marathon Plan.