Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sri Chinmoy Half Marathon - Williamstown

Google Map of course

Well, what an amazing race. In short, I could not have imagined running so well. Against a target pace of 1:38.07 (which I thought was ambitious) I have run a 1:33.20. Unbelievable!

Lead Up
My training for the last three months has been more consistent than ever. For 14 weeks I have averaged 33km with no fewer than three runs per week. This may not seem like much, but it means that I have run more to the end of May than for each of the last 5 years in total!

I think the biggest thing was getting onto the Furman FIRST program. This has given me highly specific sessions and target paces and, more importantly, a distance and frequency regime that my body could handle.

With all this additional training it is not unexpected that my 40+ year old body should have a share of niggles. Early on it was sore calves. Really sore at first then after a month or so dissipating to being tender to the touch. Thankfully it has not bothered me too much.

Of more concern has been the plantar fasciitis (self-diagnosed) which I first thought was a sore heel. This still bothers me - like most people first thing in the morning is worst (which is no good for morning run sessions and races) - but it has not been a great hindrance to my running. I think I'll need to get more on top of it for the marathon training program.

Finally, in race week, I managed to get a cold. It has not been too bad but I have been sneezing and spluttering which is not good when you are trying to focus on a big race. Thankfully too it did not seem to bother me much during the race.

Race Day
It was pretty cool down at Williamstown this morning. Probably ideal for running though an extra couple of degrees would not have gone astray. There was no sun, a small breath of wind and a mighty big fog!

My intent was to go out steady for 15km (till the turn at West Gate Bridge) then go harder if possible for the last 6km. I even wore a wrist band with my target splits on it (at 4.39/km pace).

The first km went by in 4.26 which had me a bit worried. It felt very easy but was substantially faster than plan. When the next couple of km ran 4.19 and 4.27 I was still concerned, but my heart rate was very steady and around 165 so I thought I'd just go with it and see what happened.

For the first 4.5km or so you are running with folks doing a 10km race so it is not till they turn off that you truly know who is running the half. It was also at that time that the fog was at its thickest so you couldn't really see much anyway! Especially if you are wearing glasses like myself and they get completed fogged over!

At around 7km I hooked in behind a bloke doing my pace. I figured the segment up to West Gate would be into whatever breeze there was so it was better to spend this part tucked in out of the way. (This was good till just after the 13km mark when he dropped down the pace.)

I went through 10km in 44.15 (4.26/8.45/13.12/-/22.02/26.27/30.50/35.19/39.43/44.15) which was nearly 45sec faster than my previous Sri Chinmoy 10km in March at Richmond. Felt great, heart rate still steady at 165 or so, and was confident for the next 10km.

By 14km I was running on my own as the course zig-zags along the bike path towards the bridge. After making the turn I let the pace ramp up a little covering the next 4km in 17.28 (4.22 pace). By this stage I had picked up my own "passenger" and had made the turn back up to the finish line.

The second 10km was in 44.24 (48.45/53.17/57.45/1.02.20/1.06.44/1.11.06/1.15.32/1.19.52/1.24.12/1.28.39) so no real pace differential to the first ten.

I cruised into the track and around to the finish line, hardly believing my eyes at the time on the clock. 1:33.20. An all-time half marathon PB and nearly five minutes ahead of plan. It felt great with my form remaining good all the way around. I could not be more pleased.

Bring on October and the big one!!

Heart Rate graph: dead flat course (lower line) and dead flat HR (upper line)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Last one!

Well, this morning's run was the last one before the first big race day on Sunday. An easy 5km jaunt around the block. Unfortunately, my crook heel (bl**dy PF) played up and the first 1km was an absolute hobble. As usual, after it warmed up a bit, I was basically ok.

Travelled around in 26.23mins which was too quick for this easy run, but still pretty damn easy. Just race day to come now. Woo! Hoo!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not this week, please .....

I must say I find it hard to believe that I would choose this week to get a cold. I am on all the tablets, water, vegetables and other stuff I can think of to make it go away. So far it has not got any worse in two days so I suppose that is something.

And to make things worse my back has gone out. I think I've pinched something about half way down which causes a pain on my right side. Not too bad when I run but mighty unpleasant almost all the time.


In between all that I went for my last track session tonight. Relatively easy with 6x 400m in 1.34 with 400m RI. Did the repeats in 1.39 (must have been asleep)/1.29/1.30/1.31/1.30/1.26. Pretty happy with that. Didn't feel too stressful.

Only an easy 5km on Thursday, rest and get rid of these ailments before Sunday.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Last long run

Started to come down with something last night; coughing a bit and tight in upper chest. I hope it will pass. I have worked too hard to have a good half spoiled by a cold.

Today was my last long run before the Half Marathon next week. Only 13km at 4.57min/km so pretty easy.

Didn't feel great. My neck is a bit out so I have restricted movement to the left. Took the run easy and did 12.9km in 1:03.11hrs (4.54min/km) so the time was spot on. Amazing how even when I feel ordinary I can still dial-in the sub-5min pace these days. I think this will be important once the marathon training starts.

Just a set of 400s on Tuesday then an easy 5km run before the race next Sunday. I can't wait!

Weekly total: 3 runs for 33.70km in 2:49:25hrs.

Distance Summary [red] and Future Plan [blue]

Friday, May 22, 2009

Massage and 5km

Had a massage yesterday, first one in ages. It hurt! I knew it would. I think it hurts even more today. I knew that would too. Wore my Skins socks to try to help the recovery too.

My right heel is still sore (plantar fasciitis?) so I will need to do some active work on that else I am not sure that it will hold up over the next few months of hard training.

Today's session was 3.5km warm-up then 5km@4.29min/km and 1.5km cool-down. I decided to do this session down at the track as I'd be better able to monitor and control my pace.

In short it felt pretty good. I ran 22.05min with splits of 4.18/4.29/4.28/4.28/4.22. At no stage did it feel super hard, just controlled. Definitely not easy, but I felt like I had more in me if I needed. This is my fastest 5km in a long while so I am happy with that too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Overcoming apprehension

I was pretty nervous, strangely enough, going into this session last night as the only other time I had done 1km repeats I had failed miserably to make the time target. Albeit, on that morning there had been horrible wind and rain to contend with. Nonetheless I was not certain that I could make the grade for 5x 1km in 4.01min.

Conditions were really good this time for an evening run. Not too cold and hardly a breath of wind. As always, though, it is pitch black down at the track which makes for fairly soul-less running and, I am convinced, slower times. At the very least I find it makes pacing harder as I cannot effectively monitor my splits as I complete each segment.

My plan for this session was to run each interval at 800m pace and try to hold it for the 200m extra! Given that I was completing 800’s in around 3.12 (which equates to a 4min/km) this seemed like a logical plan.

I ran the first rep in a controlled pace at 3.58 which was surprising to say the least. The second I tried to run in the same way and did 3.54 which was shocking, I knew I had got carried away. The third rep I deliberately ran slower (too slow), doing 4.02. The final two reps I just ran (!) and did 3.56 and 3.59. So the times were a bit all over the shop which is not ideal, but they averaged 3.58 which was pretty pleasing.

I’d love to know how quick I could go if I was not carrying this 10kg of extra weight.

Session total: 10.8km in 57.35min

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Getting Faster

Changed my long run to Saturday this week (so I could ride on Sunday morning). The plan was to run 20km at 4.57 min/km pace. The loop I did took me from home down to Southland, Sandringham beach along to Brighton then back up through to Bentleigh and home.

I enjoyed this loop course as you never cover the same ground twice, plus it is gently undulating so you get to mix up the effort a little.

My splits were: 5km 23.28, 10km 47.49 (24.21), 14.63km 1:10.21 (22.32), 19.66km 1:35.10 (24.49). Very pleased with those times, after a faster first 5k then settled in to a pace that was basically maintained the whole way through to the finish.

This would equate to around 1:42 hr half marathon pace and I know in the race I can go much quicker so I am sure a 1:38 or faster is possible.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More of the same and why does my heel hurt?

Another 8km sojourn around the suburb here this evening. This 8km at mid-tempo pace (4.38min/km) has appeared very regularly on the run program - typically once per fortnight. So I know the pace - and course - fairly well.

Knocked out the 8km in 36.36min which is reasonably similar to other efforts over this course. Maybe felt a bit easier than some so definitely improving.

Made me wonder, though, how would I go keeping up this pace for 21.1km? Guess I'll find out in a week or so.

Why does my heel hurt?
Ok, I probably know the real answer to this. It might have something to do with running more in three months than I have for each of the last few years? Sure, but why does my heel hurt so much???? Strangely enough, it doesn't bother me too much when running. Mostly only when I am barefoot. Running shoes give good cushioning so it is not much of an issue after 5 minutes or so. Anyway ....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Makybe Diva

This morning's track session felt a little Melbourne Cup-ish. Quite simple too. Run 2x 3200m in 13.52min with a 400m RI.

It was pretty cool this morning but ok for running. My calves are still tender but don't seem to bother me once they are warmed up.

Went out a tad hard for the first interval but brought it home ok to record a 13.48min. Ran the second one very conservatively, right on target pace for 2km then picked it up the last 800m to do 13.47min. Felt reasonably strong with that one.

These times equate to a 21.40min or so 5km which I am sure I could do.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Run for Mum

My Sunday run this week was squeezed in between all the obligatory (and enjoyable) Mother's Day activities. In fact, "mum" (my wife Fiona) and our two girls were part of the run as they walked and rode by the beach while I ran up and down before meeting them at the park.

The course was one I had run before, from Sandringham to Point Ormond and back except this time I started in the middle (!) at North Road.

I covered the 16km in 1:18.22hrs which is spot on my training pace for this distance which I have run three times now, all in 1:18 and change. So pretty pleased about that.

Ran a strong last km in the fading light, but my legs felt a bit wobbly for the last few km and at times I thought they would give way. I think I need to have done a couple more long runs in this preparation but have covered >20km only once up till now.

Weekly total: 3 runs for 37.00km in 3:05.54hrs.

Distance Summary [red] and Future Plan [blue]

The above chart shows my weekly progress since starting this odyssey. The last six weeks or so since I started the Furman program have all been in the 30-40km range which contrasts to the marathon program where they are 50-60km weeks. Something to look forward to!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Repeat session ... woo hoo!

Tonight's tempo session was a repeat of the very first session I did when I started this program so I was keen to see how it compared. Thankfully, as you'd hope, I fared much better this time around.

The session was 2x (1.5km easy, 3.5km tempo) with 1km cool-down.

Whereas in late March I did not make the target times for the harder reps, this time around I was under target pace (16.13min) both times with 16.02min and 15.59min. Felt strong and in control for both of these, no problems at all.

Which has really got me to wondering just what pace I should be setting for the Half Marathon in a few weeks time. As each week passes I feel more and more confident that I can run not just sub-1;40 for the half, but well below 1:40.

I think I may end up running to heart rate and just see what that brings me.


Bought some Skins today. Have had some of their shorts for quite a while now and have invested in some tights and socks. I plan to run in the tights on colder days and wear the socks as a recovery aid since my calves have been hurting so much.

Gave the socks a go during my run this evening.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Recovery run

The program I am following says you can replace your track session the week after a race with an easy run. Which is just as well since I am not sure how I'd have coped today with a set up 2km repeats.

Even after allowing the extra day for recovery, my quads are still tender from the downhills at Puffing Billy, so I did an easy 10km down South Rd and back. Same course as a couple of weeks ago (24-April) and similar time (53.46min).

Even managed a small neg split (unintentional!). Out 27.03 Back 26.43.

Hopefully right to go for the normal tempo session on Friday night.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Puffing Billy - Great Train Race

My eldest daughter Brooke and I before the start.

What a marvellous day for a run. This would have to be the perfect conditions: cool and sunny! Which is quite different from some of the rubbish I have been running in recently.

Started out near the front of the field and planned to take it steady for the first 1.5km (all downhill) gradually picking it up through to the 5km mark and the Menzies Creek hill. From there just take it hard to the finish. Not sure if that is what I did though?

The first 500m was pretty easy as it was so crowded but still covered the first km in 4.02min with HR pretty low. From the Trestle Bridge at around 1.5km there is an uphill to Selby for about 1.5km. I worked this bit a little too hard with HR right on 170bpm and needed to relax and take the downhill from 3-5km nice and steady (HR 164) just to get things under control before the big climb up to Menzies Creek. Went through the first crossing without even hearing the train and covered 5km in 22.20min.

At this point I began to think that if I ran controlled I (might) be able to beat the train to crossing #2. With my HR right on the redline (168-170) I made it through with still no sign of the train. Around the corner, through the aid station, crest the hill and take the treacherous out-of-control downhill and get by crossing #3 with no train in sight. Obviously it is having a very bad day and I am having a good one.

Recovered a bit from 8-9km and then struggled through then next km up to Emerald. It was at this time that I first heard the sound of the train whistle and I thought my run was up. Made it through the (final) crossing#4 with no train near me and knew if I could hold it together I'd be a monty to beat it.

Struggled up the hill just through Emerald township - almost felt like walking here - but continued on and ran steady down the first part of the offroad trail to the finish. Saw three people on this streatch needing medical assistance and was able to push hard through the final 500m to the end. I finished in 1:00.39hrs, my best time since 2002 so really happy with that. (The train had a shocker and did 1:06.44!)

My heart rate average was 167 and my pace average 4.35 min/km.

Altitude chart with km markers - no flat bits here!

A great end to the week!

Weekly total: 3 runs for 33.12km in 2:43:09hrs.
April total: 14 runs for 169.18km in 14:21:52hrs.

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