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.

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?

My favourite runs in Wellington

I’ve mentioned before that Wellington has so many options for running on and off road. Also if you haven’t got a copy of “Runners Guide to Wellington” you should! It’s got the best of the best running routes for Wellington. I’m going to share three of my favourite routes that are easily accessible from Wellington CBD.

Karori Trails

This one is not directly in the CBD but a short drive to Karori and you have access to some sweet trails that is part of the Makara peak mountain bike park.

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The start of this run can be from anywhere in Karori. I usually start from near the Karori supermarket or the Post shop. Run towards Makara and turn left into Burrows Avenue to head into Wright’s hill reserve and follow the trails up to Wright’s hill this is your first climb. Then you pop out into Hazelwood Avenue and connect to the main Makara mountain bike park. Follow the trails all the way up to Makara peak and start dropping down towards Makara hill road connecting to the start of Skyline track. Then down to Karori park and back to start along Karori road. All about 18kms with some decent climbs and sweet trails.

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Tinakori > Wadestown > Aro Loop

This one’s easily done from CBD and I usually start from under the sails in Queens wharf or from Ferg’s when meeting with others for the run. A mix of road and trails with a hill.

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Head towards Thorndon from the CBD taking Hill Street past the Beehive and onto Tinakori road. Tinakori hill is pretty easy to spot and it’s a mean climb to the top. Once you get to the top follow the Northern walkway towards Wadestown and start climbing down via Weld Street. Follow Wadestown road to Blackbridge road and connect to Otari Wilton’s lower car park. You can either stick to the road or take the lower trails of Wilton’s bush and connect back to Curtis Street via Old Karori road and take Chaytor street to Zealandia. Follow the Zealandia fenceline (on the outside) towards George Denton Park and head down via Polhill (Aro) back to town. Roughly about 18kms.

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Thorndon > Wadestown > Northland > Kelburn > Aro Easy Loop

This one’s all road and is a great option when it’s howling a northerly or southerly on the waterfront and you want to get in a decent run. Again starting from the CBD head towards Wadestown via Mulgrave street onto Aitken, Hill street and then right onto Tinakori road and connect to Grant, Barnard which turn to Lennel and onto Wadestown and follow the road all the way to Wilton road, past Wilton’s Bush connecting to Curtis street. Take Upland road to Kelburn and here you can choose to cut back down to CBD or continue on to Aro valley via Plunket street, Raroa road and onto Aro street. Back to CBD from any route you choose. An easy 14kms all up. You can do this loop the other way as well.

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There are so many more options in Wellington and I always try and change my routes to keep it interesting, what are some of your favourite runs?

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!

Making adjustments and staying positive

It’s exactly another 8 sleeps to my first Marathon on 23rd of June (in case you didn’t know that already since most of my previous posts have been on that subject). It had been a good stint of solid training runs up until Saturday 8th June when I pulled a thigh muscle in the first lap of a club cross country race. Yes, I do occasionally (read very rarely decide to show up) participate in races with Wellington Scottish Athletics club. Anyways it happened about 2kms in to a 8km cross country race. I had to stop with a rather painful strain on my left thigh. Incidentally the same leg had a bit of discomfort just under my left knee after one of my longer runs the week before. I wasn’t too concerned about that since I get all sorts of pain after long runs. So whatever this new strain was it was rather painful and bit of a shock to the system that I may not be able to start my first Marathon. I was pretty gutted and it was hurting even to jog so I expected the worse. However after coming home and a self massage with the foam roller and some ice the pain went away. I decided not to run the final Xterra trail run on Sunday 9th and give it time to settle. As it turns out the last Xterra race was made tough with lots of mud and some tough hills. I was sorry I missed the fun of Xterra it but I knew that I had to be sensible and be focused on my goal and stay on track to completing my first Marathon goal.

One of the best pieces of advise I’ve had about injuries and running is that if you are injured STOP RUNNING! I am the worst person to take advice that I give. This time however I didn’t run on Sunday even though the pain had gone away and just rested and massaged my legs with the foam roller like a mad man.

The next day (Monday 10th) I decided to go for an easy run, I started slowly and there was no discomfort so I gradually increased my pace until I was running steady and ran 8k without any hint of pain. Yeai I’m all good – I thought and was in good spirits again. Did more foam rolling.

Next day Tuesday 11th I wanted to see if I could add a bit of pace and went for a steady 10km run and added a bit of pace at the end of the run which got me to the pace about where I wanted to run my Marathon in. I could feel a slight twinge building after I had finished the run. Hmm not so good, that was just a 10k. So more foam rolling and massaging.I took Wednesday 12th off and did no running. Made sure I kept off my feet and more foam rolling ensued. There was no pain as such and I was back in good spirits.

Thursday 13th I decided I will push it a bit to see if it will start hurting. It was also my regular morning group run which is usually a 14-15km run around the bays. Since I was running with the group I kept up steady pace and around the 11km mark my leg thigh strain started again! Yup it was back and it was back with more pain. I stopped immediately and I was about 3km from where I usually stop so had to slowly jog/walk back. The pain eventually went away after walking. So guess what? more foam rolling!

Anyways that was Thursday 13th and today is Sunday the 16th and I have not run for the last 3 days. I went for a walk on Saturday morning and rest of the time I’ve either being resting or foam rolling! Not running is the hardest thing to do when you are getting ready for an event. I resisted even going for an easy jog. I am going to attempt an easy run tomorrow (Monday 17th) (Last week of training before Marathon).

In any case I have nothing to really be concerned about (yet) although it can be demoralizing to know that you may be not 100% to start the marathon (or may not be able to start) after 15 weeks of training I am pretty much into my taper phase of 2 weeks, so maybe it was my body’s way of stopping me from going too far. I had done all my long runs that I had scheduled that were over 30kms (3 runs in total) in the previous weeks in training. My regular 10milers (16km) tempos were getting faster. Looking back at my training log I know that I’ve got a good endurance base come next Sunday to finish the Marathon. I have nothing to gain in this final week so I’m going to stay positive and take it easy, eat well, rest and be ready to tackle 42.2kms come Sunday 23rd!

With that – if you are still not entered go and enter my Marathon giveaway! Look forward to updating you all on how it all went post Marathon!

“Life requires us to make adjustments, less is still something”