Monday, July 7, 2014

Gold Coast Marathon

Gold Coast Marathon 2014 Race Report

Hi. I am guessing if you are at this page it is because you wish to read the long, detailed version of my Gold Coast Marathon race. If so, read on down below! If, on the other hand, you thought you were coming for the brief version then here it is:

Travelled to the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Up early on Sunday and began the race at 7.20am.
Started out faster than planned, but held on well despite the usual setbacks.
Finished in an all-time 'PB' for me of 3:15.47 hrs.
Am completely wasted now, but really happy :-)

The Day Before ...

On Saturday morning I travelled up to the Gold Coast from Melbourne, arriving at 1pm and heading straight to the expo to register and collect my race number. There were only a few people in the queue for so that was really easy and I had a look around the stalls.

This was the usual affair - lots of things to look at but little that tempted me to buy anything (which is good). Of most interest to me was the Pat Carroll stand where I met Nick who, coincidentally, would be pacing the 3.15 group I was most interested in. When I asked him about his approach, he said he would go a bit faster at first to catch up to gun time then maybe run a minute quicker first half (~1:36.30) to allow for some slow down. That sounded good to me so I said I would see him soon after the start!

I walked to motel, about 3km away, via Woolworths where I stocked up on bananas, rolls, Gatorade and treats I ended up carrying the whole way home. For the latter part of the afternoon I just put my legs up and relaxed.

For dinner I went across the road to Milano's Pizza & Pasta where I ordered a gnocchi with Napoli sauce. The sauce was nice and the gnocchi a bit rubbery, but the big bonus was in a bag I thought must contain some garlic bread. But no, inside were four hot cinnamon donuts. So much for eating well!!!

I set my alarms on the iPhone for 4.00am and the iPad for 4.15am and went to bed around 9pm.

Race Day

After a good sleep my alarm went off and I checked the time ... 5am! Aaargh!!!! How did that happen. I'm still not really sure but I had managed to screw up two alarms. Thankfully I had left plenty of time to get ready so this was an inconvenience more than a disaster.

I had a nourishing (?) and tasty (?) breakfast of cold gnocchi, a Gatorade, bread roll and a banana before a quick shower and out the door. Angelo at reception got me a cab which arrived pretty quickly and I was soon at the Exhibition Centre ready to catch a shuttle bus to the race venue. I got a seat and settled in; taking in the delicate aroma of Tiger Balm and Dencorub.

We arrived at Southport by about 6.15am and it was a short 5 min walk to the race precinct. The Half Marathoners were all on the road except for a few stragglers. The venue is a big place, really well set out with great facilities. I make toilet stop number two for the morning, take a few photos and then am off to put my bag into the compound.

On the way to start line I make a last detour via the loos for what I hope will be the last time for the morning! After this I head over to my start corral which was "A" and the first one after the seeded/elite runners. Sweet! I went straight in and found a spot beside the 3.15 pace sign. It was not crowded and a really relaxed atmosphere.

The temperature was very pleasant now, perfect for running, though the sun was starting to come up and I figured it could get warm later. The half marathon starts first at 6am so they definitely get the better of the conditions.

Just prior to race start, marathon legend Rob De Castella gives one of his patented (scripted) rousing pre-race speeches. I'm not sure that reminding us that Pheidippides gave his life for the marathon had the desired effect but he certainly implores us to work hard when the going gets tough later in the race!

Right on 7.20am the gun goes and we shuffle off. The start area and much of the course is quite narrow but it takes only 20 sec or so to cross the start line and I get my Garmin going. I am just in front of the 3.15 pacer and use the first part to get into my stride.

Through the first few km people are sorting themselves out and there are lots of folks going forwards and backwards establishing the pace they hope will take them to a good time. Somewhere on the bridge I am caught by Nick and his large pace group. I settle in near the front, trying not to get whacked in the head by his balloon.

We set a very even pace, even if it is a little faster than I had planned to run. The Garmin, as expected, measures a little long and it is noticeably getting ahead of itself with each kilometre. So I use the course markings to help assess pace. So where Garmin says we have done 22.45 for the first 5k, the course markers say we've done 22.56. Both of which are ahead of target pace which was 23.40 for each 5k.

When I had talked race tactics with Rob O'Donnell we had agreed that I should stick with this bunch and if the pace was too hot to drop back. It is now that I realise we didn't really agree what 'too hot' was and I cannot help but wonder if this is what he meant! In any case, it feels comfortable - and not suicidal - and so I stick with the group.

By now I am well warmed up and do a quick head to toe body check: my left shoulder is a little tight (I stretch it out) and my left achilles doesn't feel very good. Not super-bad or anything but I worry that in another 25k it may be problematic. On the positive side, both my popliteus' are in good shape. I figure this is probably a balanced scorecard and I should be happy at this stage.

One thing that has been fantastic the whole way so far is the crowd. They are everywhere and are cheering like crazy - including a fellow at about 7k in who is convinced we are 'nearly there' now. The other thing I was expecting, and am finding troublesome to manage, is the camber of the roads. I am trying to stay towards the middle of the road to avoid this but the narrowness and size of our group is making this difficult.

The kilometres continue to tick off as we head south towards Burleigh Heads. Just out of Surfers our pacer darts off for a toilet stop. It feels odd running without him and we joke about making a break on him! Soon enough he is back in our midst and we we continue on. We go through 10k just near Broadbeach in 45.58 (official time, not Garmin) which means the last 5k was 23.01 - only 5 sec slower than the first 5k.

By now, despite several evacuations prior to the start, I need to go to the toilet again. Aargh! I just keep running and hope that the sensation will pass. We are right down at the southern end of the course now and the crowds continue to build. Conditions remain good for running; the sun is out but there is good shade along here. We get down to Miami and turn right past Robbie McEwen's Piccolo Cafe (no Robbie in sight!).

We get to 15k just before the turn at Burleigh Heads. I am feeling ok, but not as good as I had hoped. The last 5k was 22.54 so we are running a very even pace of 4.35m/k so far. I know that to drop off the pack will probably be harder than staying with them at this pace as so continue on. We make the first u-turn on the course and begin the long road north to the finish line and beyond.

The next 5k is more of the same except instead of watching the faster runners going back the other way, we are now the 'quickies' and we get to see the enormous mass of humanity heading down to the turn. I am not sure how they all fit on the road in places as it is only 3-wide and there are thousands of people here. Lots of folks in dress-ups, most looking good, some looking really ordinary which is not so good for them.

It is worth mentioning the aid stations they have here. It is really good with stops every 2.5k or so alternating between water and sports drink (Endura). The hardest part is working your way over to make sure you get a drink. As expected, you get the odd one down the back of your shoe from the guy behind but generally it works well. I had my first gel at ~12k and have been taking sports drink wherever possible.

Soon enough we are at the 20k timing point and go through slightly quicker in 22.47 for the last 5k. More significantly, we soon cross the half way mark in 96.43min meaning we are still right on 4.35m/k pace. (Compared to Nick's target time of 96.30 which he told me about at the expo on Saturday we are right where he wants us to be.)

Time to take stock ... with a target time of 3:17, running even splits would be 98.30min per half so this pace is quick but not stupid-fast. (As a comparison, 'stupid-fast' is running 4.29m/k which I did back in 2009 when I suffered a spectacular second half slow down en route to a 3:18.38.) I feel ok, not really tired; legs are still strong. My stomach is starting to grow tired of the sports drink so I monitor this, especially as I have just taken my second gel. Oh, and I still need to go to the loo. All in all, this is an acceptable position. Not as 'great' as you could hope for but 'pretty good' which is what you normally get!

By the time we get to 25k we are almost back in Surfers. Our pace continues at the same metronomic level with another 22.56 for the last 5k. By now I am looking for a loo and know there are some along here which I have used before. At just after 26k near Elkhorn St I dash across the road and in for a pit stop. 46 seconds later I emerge somewhat lighter and feeling refreshed. Of course, by now my pace group is nearly 200m up the road and I have an important decision to make: do I chase to get back on or do I just run my own race from here on. When I look at the road ahead I can see my 'mob' still 20 or so strong and there are only a few people in between.

I decide the only course of action is to get back with them. My bike riding background has shown me that life in the bunch is infinitely easier than life on your own and I expect it will be worth the effort to bridge across. Of course, I knew this wouldn't be easy. They were, after all, running 4.35 km's so it was going to take some real work. (To be honest, at that point in the race I was not sure if I could do it, but I ramped it up and had a go.)

Suffice to say I ran the next 2k @4.15 m/k and was very happy when I tagged back into the front of the bunch. Thankfully the pace here had not shifted at all and I was back down to 4.35m/k to recover my breath. Though I wouldn't have planned to take a toilet stop it was pleasing to know that at 26k into the race I could actually lift the pace significantly for a sustained effort. This has never been the case in previous marathons where normally by this point I am running steady and trying not to slow down. So a positive in there for me!

We soon round the bend at Southport and are back onto the bridge over the Nerang River. It is here that we cross the 30k marker and, oddly enough, we've done another 22.56 for the last 5k (although I had a fair variety of pace in there).  Our pace is amazingly even and that is the third 5k split we have done at exactly 22.56. The other three have been 22.47, 22.54 and 23.01 so pacemaker Nick is doing a fantastic job and we are still bang on 4.35m/k for the race so far.

A couple of km later and we pass the start line, reaching the only real incline on the course. This hill goes for all of 50-100m and is not very steep, but it is a rise and is enough to slow us down a little. Our pace through this km is about 4.49 which is the slowest of the day so far and the next few km are in 4.42 to 4.40 so we are definitely slowing just a little. We go through 35k with a split of 23.51 so have conceded nearly a minute of our previous 5k pace for this leg.

At this point I am doing another body-check and still feel ok. I remember agreeing with Rob a strategy of trying to push the pace at 32k if I was feeling good. I had consciously held back at 32k as our overall pace was quite a bit quicker than I had imagined I would be running which is to say I thought I'd be running 4.40's and try to lift to 4.35 or so. After the last few 'slower' km I decide it is time to see if I can pick it up.

I go off the front of my bunch and it feels like I am flying along. I am conscious of passing people and am also aware that the sun is now starting to feel quite warm. Within a km I have been caught back up - so much for my audacious plan - and I slot back into the now diminishing group. The second and final u-turn is just ahead at 36.7km and I have now fallen 5m behind the pace leader. When I make the turn it becomes clear that our once large group has exploded somewhere in the last 5k. There is no noticeable pack any more, just a pace leader and his balloons and a few of us trying gamely to stay near him.

After a solid 4.38 for the 37th km my pace starts to waver and I drop in a 4.48 followed by a 4.40 then a 4.46 through to the 40km mark. I am desperately trying to rise for the run home but am really struggling to maintain any form or even pace. I am noticing the heat now and am generally feeling pretty ordinary. The 5k split here is 23.45 which is quicker than 30-35 but slow once again. Race time is 3:05 hrs and I figure if I can hold it together for the last couple of km I will get my 3:17 target time.

The 41st km is my worst. I stop at the aid station to get some water, having long ago ditched the sports drink that I was chucking up in any case. It is 5.10 for this km, fully 20 sec slower than for any previous km of the race. The wheels have suddenly loosened and if I do not get it back together they will fall of completely.

Thankfully the end is very near and we turn back onto the Gold Coast Highway where the crowds are amazing. I nearly run into a couple of folks crossing the road as I get tunnel vision along here and am only peripherally aware of people nearby as I focus on the finish. I am now lifting and my pace gets back to the low 4.30's for the final 500m to the finish line.

Around a couple of bends and I can see the finish line just ahead. I glance at the clock which indicates a 'gun time' of just over 3:16 but my watch tells me a 'net time' of 3:15.47. I raise my arms in triumph and yell a shriek of delight as I finish the race having surpassed my wildest dreams! And, just like I did at Melbourne Marathon back in 2009, I soon collapse to the ground in a crying mess of emotion. After focussing on this one goal for 14-weeks, training like a madman and never missing a session, it is all a bit too much. I am exhausted. I am ecstatic!

When I review the splits (below) there are two things I am really happy with. The first is that even though I was slowing down in the last 10k I was still passing people. My 'race rank' climbed at each point, from 666th at 5k to 544th at 30k and 425th at the finish. It is such a buzz not be be going backwards and seeing everyone pass you. The other stat I like is that the drop off between the first half and second half (96.43 to 99.04) is only 2.5% which is pretty good and testament to how strong I was at the end of my long runs. It is also pleasing given that the early pace was much faster than planned, so to hold onto this is great.

When I finally sit down on a chair I can begin to assess the 'damage' from the race. The first thing I notice is that my face is completely caked in salt. I cannot believe how bad it is. Clearly the heat took a real toll. And then I notice that my toes are not feeling so good. On the right foot one has got an ugly blister right on the tip (mega-ouch) and on the left I can see blood right through to the top of my shoe. To be honest, I was not really aware of either of these things during the race - obviously had some bigger problems to deal with! Suffice to say I ain't walking anywhere fast for a few days.

So there it is, another marathon program done and dusted. Despite having done many marathons I consider this only the second one that I have really trained specifically for. And to run an all-time PB is just incredible. When I did 3:18.38 in 2009 I thought that would be my lifetime high-water mark. To do 3:15.47 at my age (46) is just fantastic and is another Boston Qualifier time, substantially ahead of the 3:25 required standard.

But I cannot rest on my laurels. City to Surf is in 7-weeks and I have a goal to run under the hour there - something I have not done in over 20 years. But first, recover!

Strava File: http://app.strava.com/activities/162366795/overview
Official Statshttp://tiktok.biz/goldcoastmarathon/2014/m02322

Splits:

split pointsplit times/rankrace timer/rankactivitydistancepacespeed
Five Kilometre Splits
5KM00:22:5666600:22:56666RUN5.0004:3513.07
10KM00:23:0167100:45:58666RUN5.0004:3613.03
15KM00:22:5461401:08:52642RUN5.0004:3413.10
20KM00:22:4756601:31:40618RUN5.0004:3313.16
25KM00:22:5651901:54:36581RUN5.0004:3513.07
30KM00:22:5643002:17:33544RUN5.0004:3513.08
35KM00:23:5137102:41:24492RUN5.0004:4612.58
40KM00:23:4532103:05:10441RUN5.0004:4512.63
Finish00:10:3746603:15:47425RUN2.2004:4912.43
Half Way Splits
Half Way01:36:4359901:36:43625RUN21.1004:3513.09
Finish01:39:0446603:15:47425RUN21.1004:4112.78

Friday, July 4, 2014

Focus

Gold Coast Marathon - Race Week

This week is the calm before the storm that is race day. All that can be done has been done. There is no getting fitter or faster. There are no 'last minute sessions' to tune up. It is all about making absolutely sure that you stand on the start line ready to wring every last piece of value you can from what you have done over the last few months. It is time to focus.

Tuesday 1 Jul

Today was the last of the 'harder' runs though, to be honest, it was not very hard at all. More like a steady-easy run with six 90-sec (400m) 'lifts of pace' spread throughout. It felt, as you would hope, pretty comfortable. The weather, thankfully, whilst overcast was quite pleasant for running. Not cold or overly windy; and it was good to get out. On the niggle side, everything seemed to be good to go today and once I had warmed up for a kilometre there were no problems. I have been wearing my racing shoes this last few runs and they are all good; along with some heel-wedges to offset any achilles problems I might have.

As has generally been the case this prep, the six intervals today were not run on a track and so were a little more organic in actual distance, ranging from 410-430m, depending on when I noticed my watch. Consequently, splits ranged from around 1.27-34. On average, probably all less than 1.30 so right on pace, no issues there.

I took my phone with me today (I don't normally do so) and took a few photos as I ran along the river. This was a bit of fun, especially when I got to my third fast rep and was promptly stopped by a barrier across the path so the Parks Victoria barge could 'escape' from its mooring. This was no big deal for me today as I just turned around and started to rep again heading in the other direction ... but on many of my other training runs this might just have done my head in!

This afternoon also saw a last-minute visit to my physio Rob O'Donnell. A cancellation meant that I could be squeezed in this afternoon and - bizarrely - when they rang to let me know I was just starting my run and had my phone on me! Rob has been a great help - not just with physio treatment but with running advice and help with race day strategies and general mental prep. Thanks Rob!

Only Nike Run Club tomorrow and an easy 5k at marathon pace on Friday to go now!

Wednesday 2 Jul

After my visit to the physio yesterday I must say "things" are a bit tender. The rigorous massage to my calves really woke them up and today they are letting me know what they thought of it. All will be good in a couple of days, but today!!!!!! And, being race week, it is time for every other part of my body to get in on the 'niggle act.' Today it is my groin. Just a twinge here or there - and it did not bother me running - but a reminder in any case.

As for my run, tonight was the last session of this 12-week season of Nike Run Club and I was leading a 5k group at 5.30m/k pace. In practice, we ran a bit slower than this as the faster folks went off the front early on and the slower folks wanted to run closer to 5.45. Which was all ok by me and I ended up running with Danielle and Marvin from Telstra for the last few km's. All easy, all good.

As a side note. Today I stepped on the scale and it was 77.7kg which is just fantastic. This is about as low as I have weighed in a very long time and is 4kg lighter than when I raced my PB at Melbourne Marathon back in 2009. I am excited about this as less weight = faster time! It's the small things which add up!

Friday 4 Jul

It is done! Every session is complete. When I started on this journey I created a training plan. It had 58 sessions (including the race) and over 750km in 98 days (14 weeks). I have not missed a session. I have not been sick. I've had only minor injuries - though in 'hypochondriac week' (aka race week) these seem to have multiplied a little! Everything that I set out to do in preparation has been done. I have felt strong in my long runs and I have gotten progressively faster for all my efforts. I have even been so brave as to increase my target pace by 10 sec/km.

Today was a very easy 5k run at marathon pace which I did without issue at lunch time along the Yarra River. I felt good, no niggles, and my heart rate was low even in the strong wind. Pace was right on target. Just what I wanted it to be.

Tomorrow I fly to the Gold Coast and on Sunday at 7.20am the race starts. I plan to run 3h 17m (4.40 min/km) or better. All that remains to be seen is how I execute my plan. I just want it to start now!


Training Program:

Full session details for my whole training plan are here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Last Sprints 7.4k @4.31; 6x 400m with 400m recovery
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 5.7k @5.47; easy lap of Tan
Friday - Marathon 5 5.1k @4.37; easy 5k at marathon pace


Weekly Summary:
Week 14 (this week): 3 runs, 18.2 km, 1 hrs 29 mins
Week 13: 4 runs, 43.7km, 3 hrs 37 mins
Week 12: 4 runs, 46.0 km, 3 hrs 45 mins
Week 11: 4 runs, 61.2 km, 4 hrs 59 mins
Week 10: 4 runs, 55.8 km, 4 hrs 28 mins
Week 9: 4 runs, 66.4 km, 5 hrs 39 mins
Week 8: 4 runs, 57.7 km, 4 hrs 37 mins
Week 7: 4 runs, 60 km, 5 hrs 10 mins
Week 6: 4 runs, 54 km, 4 hrs 36 mins
Week 5: 4 runs, 46.3 km, 3 hrs 57 mins
Week 4: 5 runs, 71.7 km, 6 hrs 24 mins   (biggest week ever!)
Week 3: 4 runs, 57.7 km, 5 hrs 9 mins
Week 2: 5 runs, 48.6 km, 3 hrs 51 mins
Week 1: 4 runs, 41 km, 3 hrs 28 mins
Total: 57 runs, 728.3 km, 61 hrs 09 mins

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Prepare

Gold Coast Marathon - 2 Weeks to Go

With just two weeks to go till race day it is time to start thinking and making my final preparations. Everything from travel and meals on the weekend through to race day nutrition. What I will wear (before and during) and - most importantly - how to get my body into tip-top shape. All the hard training is done. I just need to make sure I get the most from it.

For most of this training block I have battled either minor injury (popliteus) or borderline sickness (touch wood, I've still avoided this). In the last week and a half it has been a new nemesis - the achilles tendon. When I run it has (thankfully) been mostly just a niggle; but at times during the day I can hardly walk - it is really diabolical. My home remedies (stretching, ice, tiger balm, compression socks) are not getting this one any better so time to get some help. Physio Rob here I come!!

Tuesday 24 Jun

It is hardly possible to describe the conditions that I ran in today. In one sense, the fact that I actually did anything at all is very satisfying. That it wasn't really what I wanted is not great, but hey, who cares! The program was 5x 1km (sub 4.00min, hopefully sub 3.55) with a 400m rest interval. The first time I tried this run, way back on 8 April, it was a disaster. "Street Speed 1" was on a rainy night and I was molested by tree branches as I tried to go fast on the streets near home. I wanted redemption!

This time I ran at lunchtime (to avoid the dark) and planned to run along the Yarra (to avoid the branches). Unfortunately the weather was horrendous today. As the ABC news said, we were hit by a "weather bomb" which is not quite anyone's idea of fun! When I made my way down to the river I could see there was no way I'd be running there. The running path was inundated in numerous places. Forget the Nike's, I would have needed flippers to go along that path.

So I made a last minute decision to run the upper path. Which kind-of worked, except there wasn't really a 1000m stretch to run along. So my first interval was a bit up and down, across a bridge, then along a bit more ... until I realised I'd run 1.1km ... and, oh heck, who cares; it is pi$$ing rain, wind at 10-million knots and my achilles hurts.

Another change of plan and I headed over to Westpac Centre track to run there. This would mean 2-laps (just over 1km) with 1-lap (just over 500m) recovery. I ran the hard reps in 4.15/19/19/18 - so a very slow pace, but it was a hard slog. At times it felt like I was jogging on the spot. I could not go fast enough to raise my heart rate above 160. This was "ugly running" but I completed the session (or at least completed "a" session) and am pleased with that.

Of course, my achilles tendon is now in revolt. Not such a good day!

Thursday 26 Jun

Two days have passed since my run in apocalyptic conditions. My achilles tendon (did I mention it was the left one) has varied between "I feel good" and "I can hardly walk."At run club yesterday I asked to lead one of the 5k groups and was lucky enough (thanks Dean) to get the beginner group so 7m/k it was which is about as stress-free as a run can get. So that was good. After the achilles warms up a bit it seems to settle down somewhat so that is promising. Hills are not so pleasant but flats (lots of those at Gold Coast) are ok. I ran with some 'heel raisers' in my shoes too to take some of the pressure off the tendon.

Of course the real question is why am I running at all??? I don't really have a great reason for this. I am suffering a classic case of "I'll just monitor this one and if it gets really bad I will stop" which of course means "I am just going to run through it." To find out how the story ends ... keep reading this blog!

Oh, and of course, as of this afternoon I can feel a chest cold coming on. Waaahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

Friday 27 Jun

This morning I fronted up for a massage - my first in very many years. Ryan down at Southern Suburbs Physio got a quick briefing from Rob and away we went. Obviously the focus was on my legs, calves in particular and anything to get this achilles back in business. Suffice to say Ryan is good, my calves were like rocks and now my legs hurt from the process. In a few days I will be all the better for this (thanks Ryan)!

A lot of thought was given on whether to run today or not. With my dodgy achilles, a full-strength massage in my legs and wind blowing-like-crazy it would have been an easy decision to pass it up. Of course, I ran.

The main session today was 5k at short tempo pace (4.13m/k) and with a warm-up of 3k I thought at least I could see how I was feeling and skip the hard effort if needs be. With a 30-50 kph north wind blowing it was easy going at first and I felt pretty good so decided to up the pace when 3k rolled around. Even so, I took the first 1-2k of this at a steady tempo to ease into the work and make sure everything was ok. Whilst I could 'feel' my achilles it was not overly troublesome so I worked through the remainder of the effort into the wind and feeling strong.

I am very happy with the time for this 5k (20.55) as it is right on target @4.11m/k and did not feel super-hard at all. There is a Strava segment of ~4k along here that I had previously run (quite hard) in 16.49 and today I did 16.11 so I think this is a great indicator of just how good my form is right now.

Feeling good. Just need to keep it going and get my body strong and healed.

Sunday 29 Jun

As I look back this has been an unusually hard week. Tuesday's lunchtime run in horrendous weather signalled the start of winter in Melbourne and didn't bode well for me. A dodgy achilles but then a massage (it felt ok again) and a good run Friday followed by another ordinary run today. It has been one step up - one step back for quite a while now. I felt sick earlier in the week, ok in the middle, and no good again now on Sunday afternoon. Everything is a bit of a crap-shoot for me right now and I just hope the gods smile on me come next Sunday!

Apart from running, today was the annual Melburn Roobaix bike event which I do on the tandem with Brooke. We were entered and looking forward to this one for quite a while and even though the weather forecast for today was miserable we were committed and going to start.

All of which meant that I needed to do my 16k run early if I was going to get it done at all. So at 7.30am I was out on the road and running! I had not eaten since last night and I think the lack of energy, cold temperature, wind and a little rain conspired to take away whatever oomph I might have expected to have. It was a genuine slog and I had absolutely no rhythm at all. Compared to last weeks long run which felt beautiful and controlled, this one was all over the shop.

Although when I look at the splits it doesn't seem so bad - a slower first kilometre then reasonably even splits through to 10km, then another bizarrely slow kilo then some faster splits to finish. In the end I finished right on target pace (4.40m/k) though slower than I had run this twice before in recent weeks.

In any case, this run - and the riding event in the afternoon - certainly took it out of me. I am quite tired now and will need to have a good start to race week!


Training Program:
Full session details for my whole training plan are here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Horrendous Weather 11.5k @4.42; 5x 1000m with 4-500m recovery
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 5.7k @7.07; easy lap of the Tan
Friday - Yarra Tempo 10.4k @4.36; brisk 5k in the middle
Sunday - Ragged Run 16.1k @4.40; rough and ready 16k at marathon pace

Weekly Summary:
Week 13 (this week): 4 runs, 43.7km, 3 hrs 37 mins
Week 12: 4 runs, 46.0 km, 3 hrs 45 mins
Week 11: 4 runs, 61.2 km, 4 hrs 59 mins
Week 10: 4 runs, 55.8 km, 4 hrs 28 mins
Week 9: 4 runs, 66.4 km, 5 hrs 39 mins
Week 8: 4 runs, 57.7 km, 4 hrs 37 mins
Week 7: 4 runs, 60 km, 5 hrs 10 mins
Week 6: 4 runs, 54 km, 4 hrs 36 mins
Week 5: 4 runs, 46.3 km, 3 hrs 57 mins
Week 4: 5 runs, 71.7 km, 6 hrs 24 mins   (biggest week ever!)
Week 3: 4 runs, 57.7 km, 5 hrs 9 mins
Week 2: 5 runs, 48.6 km, 3 hrs 51 mins
Week 1: 4 runs, 41 km, 3 hrs 28 mins
Total: 54 runs, 710.1 km, 59 hrs 40 mins

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Taper One

Gold Coast Marathon - 3 Weeks to Go

With the hardest part of the marathon program behind me now, it is time to recover and get strong before race day. It is 'taper time' and I am looking forward to really hitting all my session times for the next three weeks. The goal now is to keep my high level of fitness, shake the niggling injury/illness concerns and be ready for a huge race day. Three weeks to go!

Tuesday 17 Jun

Runner's World Magazine's Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso is well known in running circles for many things, but perhaps most of all for his observation that for many runners the time they can complete a set of 800m efforts in roughly approximates their projected marathon time. So, 800's in 3m10s equates to about a 3hr10m marathon. His workout, the Yasso 800's, is described here and the run I did today is a very close approximation to this.

Today I was back at the Westpac Centre in conditions similar to the last time I ran 800's there back in April - a bit rainy and a bit windy. Last time it was 6 reps and I averaged about 3.11 for each. Today was 8 reps and the plan was a 3.06 average pace.

On my warm-up the "popliteus roulette" game was played once again and this time came up with "minor right knee problem" which meant I click-clacked my way down the hill to the track. Whilst waiting to cross at the traffic lights I massaged and stretched a bit more which made enough of an immediate improvement that it didn't really bother me thereafter (amazing)!

Onto the track and I set out with the intent of building through the session rather than going out at full-tilt and hanging on. When I completed the first rep in 3.04 I thought I may have stuffed up my pacing (!) but it felt ok and I did the next three in 3.03/05/06 so was very happy at half way done. By now there were some folks kicking a footy around and even a few other runners so it didn't feel so lonely, not that it spurred me on or anything. With some good focus I ran the final four reps in 3.04/03/04/04 which was just fantastic. Everything within a 3-second spread, no drop off in speed at the end, and an average of 3.04 for the entire set. Yippee!!!

Wednesday 18 Jun

An easy run tonight at Nike Run Club, leading the 5k beginner group. We had about a dozen at the start, but before we got to Anderson St the group had exploded into mini-groups spread far and wide. I finished the run - right on the designated 7m/k pace - with one runner, Jane, for company. She is planning to do a half marathon at Run Melbourne then her first marathon in October. Very exciting to hear her story! My achilles were both a little tender tonight, but no big deal.

Friday 20 Jun

The last working day of the week and a chance to try out some new runners (and my potential race kicks) for an 8k burst along the Yarra. I saw Rob the Physio for a tune up last night and some final advice for race day. He suggests if I am still feeling good at 32k to go for it, rather than waiting till the last 5k. Popliteus both feeling fine today - no problems - but my left calf/achilles has been a bit sore all week and still is.

Today's run was planed as 8k @4.22m/k so i ran an out-and-back course along the Yarra River. It is pretty flat, but today was a little windy - mostly tailwind out and mostly headwind back so I knew it would be easier/faster at first. All good, no problems with that. The run itself was good. Apart from the calf/achilles I felt controlled and relaxed. Most k's were in the 4.12-16 range with a couple slower and a couple faster. In the end, a good run, if maybe a little quick, with 8k done at 4.15 pace.

I'll need to stretch and massage my calf prior to Sunday's 21k run at Albert Park Lake.

Sunday 22 Jun

Today is the longest race-pace run on the whole program, a 21k effort at 4.40m/k. Three months ago this would have seemed a vey long stretch, but now it feels like quite a comfortable run - not easy, but comfortable! I took the opportunity to do this as part of an organised event, the Sri Chinmoy Half Marathon at Albert Park Lake. So whilst I would not be racing, at least I would have some company plus drinks etc. My mate David Weeks, who is just beginning on his program for his first marathon in October, came along for the run too.

Weather was pretty much perfect today. Dry, sunny, cool and only a light breeze. The course was four laps of the lake with appropriate "extensions" to make up the distance to 21.1km. My plan was simple - go out at 4.40 pace and keep it there with no variation.

And that is pretty much exactly what we did. The 5k segments were covered in: 23.21, 23.10, 23.03 & 23.18 with a slightly quicker 4.27 m/k last one to finish us off just under 1:38 hrs at 4.38 m/k. It is great to do a half marathon feeling like you could have run a lot faster!

Sri Chinmoy races are famous for the post-race pancakes so we made sure to get a couple of these and at the presentations Dave was good enough to have finished third in his age category (imagine if he was trained and had tried harder)!

My left calf/achilles was not too bad today (probably 80%) and my right popliteus was a minor annoyance only for the first km or so before settling down. Otherwise, most of the "sensations" were good for this race.

Two weeks to go!


Training Program:
Full session details for my whole training plan are here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Westpac 800's Redux 11.2k @4.45; 8x 800m with 200m walk recovery
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 5.7k @6.56; easy lap of Tan
Friday - Yarra Scoot 8k @4.15; brisk run along the river
Sunday - Sri Chinmoy 21.1k @4.38; comfortable half marathon run

Weekly Summary:
Week 12 (this week): 4 runs, 46.0 km, 3 hrs 45 mins
Week 11: 4 runs, 61.2 km, 4 hrs 59 mins
Week 10: 4 runs, 55.8 km, 4 hrs 28 mins
Week 9: 4 runs, 66.4 km, 5 hrs 39 mins
Week 8: 4 runs, 57.7 km, 4 hrs 37 mins
Week 7: 4 runs, 60 km, 5 hrs 10 mins
Week 6: 4 runs, 54 km, 4 hrs 36 mins
Week 5: 4 runs, 46.3 km, 3 hrs 57 mins
Week 4: 5 runs, 71.7 km, 6 hrs 24 mins   (biggest week ever!)
Week 3: 4 runs, 57.7 km, 5 hrs 9 mins
Week 2: 5 runs, 48.6 km, 3 hrs 51 mins
Week 1: 4 runs, 41 km, 3 hrs 28 mins
Total: 50 runs, 666.4 km, 56 hrs 03 mins

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