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

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hold

Gold Coast Marathon - 4 Weeks to Go

With less than a month to go till race day this is my last "big" week. And after last Sunday's strong run - but disastrous popliteus outcome - I am again treading the fine line between fantastic fitness and injury/illness. So the mantra this week is 'Hold' as that is what I need to do right now. My fitness right now is good enough to run a great marathon. I just need to hold it for one big week and then a taper.

Tuesday 10 Jun

Since Sunday I have been trying a few different things to get my right popliteus back in order. In the absence of being able to get into a physio I found some self-massage techniques on YouTube ... what could possibly go wrong! The one which seems to have had some good success is getting my thumb in behind the knee just above the calf on the medial side where the popliteus joins. Today it felt ok when walking though did not enjoy it when I sat for any period of time.

As of this morning my run plan for the week was another day of rest today then do my first session tomorrow at lunchtime with the Nike Run Club tomorrow night. But with it feeling ok I decided to go out this evening and see how it felt. Typically it feels ok or dodgy within the first km so I tend to know straight away. This time it felt ok so I continued on to do my session.

The plan was 10x 400m with 400m recovery so I went around the corner to a nearby street where I have previously scared the neighbours by running up and down like a crazy-man to do it all again. I took the 'soft' option and ran the 'downhill' stretch (about 1% fall) but it is 10m or so long so I guess that evens out! My plan was to take it easy and get progressively faster if possible - all reps to be under 1.30.

The first rep, especially, I just wanted to test out the 'pop' and see if it would be ok. It was and I ran 1.30. The next couple were 1.29 and 1.29 so pretty even. I picked it up for the next few, running 1.27, 1.28, 1.27 and 1.27. Feeling good! I finished the last three really strong in 1.25, 1.25 and 1.24. I am pretty stoked. Great times and all sensations were good.

Just 'hold' it together now!

Wednesday 11 Jun

Wednesday night is Nike Run Club night and tonight was an absolute cracker, weather wise, especially compared to last week which rained heavily and kind-of sucked. Today i was leading the 5k group at 5.30 pace with Hannah on our lap of the Tan. You can see from the pic above that we had our normal fun time! The only thing of note was about a third of the Tan track was completely unlit, ie - pitch black. I could see nothing at all! Thankfully our group made it back safely and exactly on 5.30 pace. Yee hah!

Friday 13 Jun

Another day, another run. This one was a marathon paced 13k which I got to do along the Yarra River at lunchtime. It is a beautiful place to run - mostly bike path, partly pontoon floating on the river. Today was sunny but a little windy, though I couldn't figure out from which direction as it seemed to swirl all over the place.

On my now daily game of 'injury roulette' I spun a lucky number. The right knee was ok and the left one about 95% so no real issues there. Legs don't feel very supple, so maybe I need a proper massage to loosen them up a bit.

The run itself was good. I tried to keep an even pace around 4.40m/k which I did, making the turn at half way at 4.39avg. I dropped in one slightly quicker km on the return home (4.25) as I chased a runner up the path ... didn't get him! All good and cruised up the Exhibition St hill to finish 13.1k @4.36m/k. Very happy with that!

Sunday 15 Jun

In the "olden days" of marathon running the programs I followed - ok, the ones I saw and should have followed - all built up to a single, almighty 20 mile run. (32k for us Aussies, but they were all written for the US market.) This was three weeks out from the race and today was that day. But times have changed - not only am I actually training for races, but the programs have adapted too, and this was my fifth run over 30k.

But it is still a pinnacle run, and the pace of these long runs has been getting steadily faster with this one at only 9 sec/km slower than target race pace. I got up early and was on the road by around 7.20am, trying to mimic to some extent what race day will be like. Except on race day I will be in a motel, not have my normal breakfast, will have a long bus ride to the start and the weather will be much warmer. So not really anything at all like race day but what's a few minor details between friends.

Unlike 2009 and my last significant marathon, this time round I am intent on running as even a pace as possible and not "banking" any time for a late race slow-down. I have tried to adopt this a bit in training too, with some success. It is a big deal for me mentally as I've had to convince myself that I will not slow down and can run faster if I manage the early pace a bit better. My training in 2009 was at a target marathon pace of 4.38m/k (race time 3:16) but I ran too hard at the start and finished at 4.42m/k (3:18). This time round my training is at 4.40m/k which is slower but I am absolutely planning to run a successful race at 3:17. So even though I am training a bit slower I am planning to race faster. As I said, my head has had to get around this bit!

Today's run was an "old favourite" course down South Rd to the beach then along the foreshore path to Middle Park and return. In practical terms this means downhill-undulating for 8.5k to Brighton Baths then flat for 15k before the inverse uphill-undulating to finish. It is normally windy, and was today with a stiff southerly blowing.

The other big bogey for me today would be my knees; or more specifically my popliteus muscles. The right one had flared up again big time last Sunday and the left has been niggling away for the last month. I could not afford for them to be a factor. On my shorter runs this week they'd been ok and, within 500m, I could sense that they would be ok for me today. Yippee!

After an easy first km in around 5 min I used the gradual downhill to slowly ramp up the average pace. By the time the course flattened at Brighton Baths I was right on 4.48m/k average and there it stayed all the way to 25k.  Along the beach I had run about 4.45m/k with the wind and 4.50m/k into it - though my HR jumped from mid-140's to high 140's in order to do so.

I turned into South Rd and knew the business end of the run was about to start. This is where it traditionally gets hard and many a day I have fallen apart on this section. The last time I ran this course was for a 24k run back in late May and on that day I ran quite strongly, covering the last 6k in 29.17min. Today I pushed (HR up to mid-150's) to maintain my 4.49 target pace and, strangely enough, covered the final 6k in 29.17! Total run of 32.04km in 2:34.24 hrs at 4.49 m/k. Perfect!

More pleasing is that the final 6k today was about half a minute faster than I did for the same run back in 2009. Coupled with my Fast Finish 24 last Sunday I can confidently say that I am running as well as ever and, more importantly, am finishing the long runs with something left in the tank. This is really encouraging and gives me huge confidence going into the race.

Three weeks to go :-)


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

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Street Speed 5 10.7k @5.11; 10x 400m with 400m recovery
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 5.3k @5.30; beautiful evening for a run
Friday - Marathon 13 13.1k @4.36; lunch time marathon pace
Sunday - Long Run (the last) 32k @4.49; perfectly paced long run

Weekly Summary:
Week 11 (this week): 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: 46 runs, 620.4 km, 52 hrs 18 mins

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Extend

Gold Coast Marathon - 5 Weeks to Go

Time is flying by with just five weeks to go till race day and only the final couple of weeks of big sessions ahead before taper. My theme for this week is 'Extend' as that is what I really must start to do if I am going to meet my marathon race target. This week I really want to run a fast speed session; a solid marathon paced 16k (feeling better than two-weeks ago) and conclude the week with a fast-finishing 24k.

Tuesday 3 June

Today's session was one of the "easier" sprint sessions on the program which is good as my legs are still pretty sore/tired after Sunday's long run. I headed out at lunch time and the rain was coming down though it was not too cold. Only the hardy runners were out today ... and ex-Olympians. Whilst waiting to cross the road at Flinders St a fellow walked up beside me, smiled, and said "the training has gotta go on" - making reference to running in the less than stellar weather conditions. I recognised the fellow as six-time Olympic rower and three-time gold medallist James Tomkins. I replied to him that "you would know more than most!" He laughed and advised me "not to go too hard." So with that advice in my head I set off for my run!

I ran a simple course along the Yarra today. Each of three reps were 1600m hard with a 400m recovery interval. The two reps heading south-ish had a slight tail breeze; but not too much. The bigger problem was being able to see through the raindrops on my glasses.

In short, I was happy with each of my reps; running 6.19, 6.24 and 6.23 for the miles. So an average of 6.22min against a target time of 6.33min. Significantly faster than target which I think is good (???) as last time round my paces for these intervals were a bit slower than this. If I can translate this short distance speed into good pace for the long runs I will be very happy indeed!

Thursday 5 June

Last night was my weekly Nike Run Club session; as always, probably my favourite run of the week. And even a winter downpour could not dampen the spirits of my co-run-leaders and all the runners who came along to complete their run. Together with Leigh and Natalie I led a 5k run around the Tan at 5.30 pace. We got drenched, we got dirty, we had lots of laughs and a great time. What more could you want!

Tonight I tried the foam roller on my legs. Nothing more to say. Move along.

Friday 6 June

Not sure I am friends with the foam roller. My legs really hurt today. Not running-sore; but massage-sore. Add into the mix that my left popliteus (?) is now not very happy and I have a brewing revolt going on with the lower half of my body. Against that backdrop tonight I had another 16k marathon pace workout on the plan. I last did this two weeks ago and it felt hard-ish, so with my legs as they were I was not sure how I would go at all. Thankfully it was not raining and the temperature was good - cool with little breeze.

Decided to wear my Run Club issue Nike Lunar Glide 5's and I have to say I just love these runners! For me they offer a great blend of light-enough weight with good cushioning. I have a neutral stride so do not need any fancy motion control stuff and these shoes fit the bill magnificently. This was only my second run in them at any reasonable pace and they were wonderful.

Which I guess sums up the run in general. I really loved it! Target pace was 4.40m/k and the plan was to stick as close to this as possible on the (very) slightly undulating two-lap course. As always, try to run the last lap a bit faster than the first. All of which is exactly what I did. My km splits were very even, each 8k lap was almost identical (36.57/37.00), HR in the range of 143-148 for all except the last uphill km where I pushed a little. Overall, it was 8 sec faster than last time - let's say identical - but with an average HR of 146 vs 150 a fortnight ago. I am very pleased!

Sunday 8 June

This marathon training block has been an absolute rollercoaster. When things have looked grim, they got better. And when they've looked great, they go to crap. After Friday's wonderful run I was really looking forward to this 24k long run today. I decided to run the same course near home which is about 8k per lap with the intent of going out slower than target pace then ramping it up every 8k.

Unfortunately, for the second time in eight days I have stuffed up my target pace and got it wrong. Though, unlike last week where 8k @4.22 became 8k @4.12 in my head (and run @4.09); this week the pace should have been 4.46m/k but I thought it was 4.49. Aargh! No big deal in the scheme of things but something small which I should be getting right. That stuff up aside, I planned to run the first lap (8k) @4.55-57, the second lap @4.49 and the third lap @4.41-43. So faster each lap and finishing at just over target marathon pace. Sounds easy!

The rollercoaster continued today when I started running. Almost straight away my right popliteus, which has been fine this last fortnight, was giving me bad pain. Most recently the left one has been niggly, but now the right is stuffed again! And I was wearing the same shoes (Lunar Glides) as Friday when all was good. I am so confused. I tried as best I could to ignore this and just ran. It hurt!

Pain and target pace aside, the actual run was really good and went according to plan. I ran the first lap at 4.57 pace (HR Avg 135), the second lap right on 4.49 (HR 140) and finished the third lap at 4.42m/k (HR 147). The whole run was 24.2k @4.49 so it came out perfectly, despite my popliteus being in a bad way.

If I can run this well when things are sh*t then it gives me lots of confidence about how I will run when things are good. Bring on next week!


Training Program:

Full session details for my whole training plan are here.

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Three Miles 10.0k @4.47; 3x 1600m with 400m recovery
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 5.5k @5.28; rainy lap of Tan
Friday - Bentleigh 16 16.1k @4.38; marathon pace effort ... niice!
Sunday - Fast Finish 24 24.2k @4.49; faster, faster, faster

Weekly Summary:
Week 10 (this week): 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: 42 runs, 559.2 km, 47 hrs 19 mins

Sunday, June 1, 2014

3.5

Gold Coast Marathon - 6 Weeks to Go

42 days till I run 42km. Doesn't sound like much. Isn't much I guess. In some ways it feels like such a long time with so many runs to do and yet, on other days, it seems too close for comfort and I wish I had another month to get in some more quality training. But it is what it is and it will be over in the blink of an eye; so best I enjoy all of it along the way.

This week's theme is '3.5' as that is how many hours I am scheduled to run for this Sunday. The original Furman plan is for 32k but the O'Donnell plan is 3.5 hours. The Wilson "hybrid plan" is 32k at target pace then 50min easy running to make up the time. I don't want to think about how far that is to run! (Or how i will feel afterwards!) But that is later ...

Tuesday 27 May

Today's run was four hard reps of 1/2/1/1 km with 400m easy in between; which I ran over my favourite lunch time course along the Yarra. So, whilst there were target times I wanted to hit, with the varying terrain and headwind on the return leg it was just a case of run as hard as you can for as long as you can!

On the plus side, each rep had an average HR of 164 which about right for me on these, especially as the rest is active. Also a positive is the 1k times were pretty even, being 3.58/3.57/4.01. Unfortunately the 2k rep in the middle was about 10 sec slower than I'd wish for (8.16) but it does have the most incline in it so is probably a fair time in any case.

All of which is to say that I ran ok, legs not too bad from last week, and my times were acceptable if not great.

Friday 30 May

Another work week has come and gone and with it another couple of runs. On Wednesday night it was Nike Run Club time. Most recently I have been doing the 5k groups but, at a 'special request' from Marie (from Germany) and Keira (from USA) I was doing the 10k @6m/k group. It was a great night, a small group of only seven and with co-leader Hannah we had a ball as this tight-knit group ran around the MCG, Fitzroy Gardens and Tan Track. Lots of fun!!

Tonight it was back on the streets, this time for an 8k tempo set. Conditions were perfect: cool with hardly any breeze; and after a short warm-up it was straight into the main 8k on my standard course up to North Rd and back down to South Rd.

Ok, as I write this now I realise I have totally stuffed this one up!!! When I check my plan it says target pace of 4.22m/k which, of course, is my mid-tempo pace. But - somewhere out when I was running - this evolved in my head into a 4.12 target pace (short-tempo) against which I ran a 4.09 pace. Aargh!!

I now understand why this felt so bl**dy hard. I thought it was pretty quick for an 8k run. And, yes, it was. If only I paid more attention to what my plan actually says! Anyway, I guess I have had a good workout, and should be pretty pleased that I completed this one at a manageable heart rate too. Amazing what you can do when your mind is convinced of what it must attempt.

Sunday 1 June

Everything had been building up to today. This whole week was themed on today's long run. Oddly enough, the course and exact distance I would go was made up on the day which is rather more organic than you'd expect for such a pivotal session. Whatever happened this would be my longest training run ever so I was a bit nervous.

Weather today was average - rainy and cool, but not cold. I headed out at midday to run a slightly longer version of my 'Big Lap' course from a fortnight ago; going all the way into the city instead of cutting across to the Tan. This would bring it up to 36k which I decided was long enough!

The original 32k session had a target pace of 4.59m/k so I set out to run near enough to this pace. It was a fairly consistent drizzle from the start with a little headwind into the city which made for less than exciting running conditions. It felt ok, but not easy. I didn't seem to have great rhythm and my right knee wasn't good. Turning onto the Yarra trail after 15.5k and my average pace was right on the 4.59 target.

Along here it started to get harder. Unlike two weeks ago where I picked up the pace and felt great on this stretch; today it was not so enjoyable and my knee was sore. I think between my knee, the conditions, and my confused pace it started to mess with my head. The next 9k along the path to East Malvern was a procession of slow/fast k's as I fought to maintain rhythm and form. Through 29k I was still at 5.03m/k average but knew the next few would be slower as I rose over the railway footbridge and up the Belgrave Rd hill.

Once I got to 32k - average 5.06m/k (time 2:43) to this point - I dropped the pace right back. The next 4k was really running for time so the faster I went the further away from my target 3.5 hours I would be. All counter-intuitive to how I would normally run. It was fairly comfortable - even with a dodgy knee - and I completed the 36.1k in 3:08 at 5.12m/k pace. So both goals partially met at best.

In retrospect, I think having the 'split target' sessions has probably just confused me. Doing 32k at a set pace or running purely for time with no set distance/pace are both ok. When I have combined them it has got weird. Today I felt like I should be going faster in order to make pace for the 32k, but wanted to go slower so as to get as close to 3.5 hours without doing 40-odd k's. In the end I did neither really well - running too slow for 32k and too fast to pad out to 3.5 hours. My learning here is to pick one thing and stick to it!

Nutrition wise, today I had a gel before starting then five more at about 40min intervals. The last two especially were really needed and I felt the kick almost immediately which was great. That said, the last one was a struggle to ingest and I think I chucked half of it up. I think alternating gels with sports drink will work better on race day.


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

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Yarra Speed 10.4k @4.42; 1k, 2k, 1k, 1k efforts with 400m recovery
Wednesday - Nike Run Club 10.2k @5.54; small group run
Friday - Fast 8 9.7k @4.24; 8k tempo @4.09 pace
Sunday - The Bigger Lap 36.1k @5.12; very long run

Weekly Summary:
Week 9 (this week): 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: 38 runs, 503.4 km, 42 hrs 51 mins

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sleep

Gold Coast Marathon - 7 Weeks to Go

In simple terms I have not been getting enough shut-eye at night during this campaign and a recent facebook post highlighted this fact to me. So the theme for this week is 'Sleep' with a view to making sure I get more of it. Sunday night was not so great but last night was much better. I need to make sure I get more, more, more!!

Tuesday 20 May

My legs today were still a bit sore/heavy from Sunday's long run which seems to be the case each week. Ideally I would have another day of no running prior to my speed work but the schedule does not allow for it hence I go in to these sessions a little off. Surprisingly I have been making good times each week and feel good that I am able to run effectively on tired legs.

Today I did another 'Street Speed' session, comprising 3 sets of 2x1200m with 2min between reps and 4min between sets. I laid out a 1200m course on the bike path beside the Yarra River, more or less between Punt Rd and Swan St. Easy! Of course, as is the case with Street Speed, conditions are not identical in both directions and today there was a reasonable wind blowing from the north-west so a headwind out and a tailwind back. Notional target was 4.47 for each rep.

I took the first (out) lap conservatively to try to judge pace and, even with the headwind, was pleased to make it in 4.46. The first return lap was way quick in 4.34. After a long break the next two were more even in 4.39/37; and the final two in 4.40/38 so slowing down a fraction. Average time was 4.39 and my HR was nice and high (170+) for much of each rep. Overall a very satisfying day out!

Friday 23 May

Wednesday night was, as always, Nike Run Club night and I had another really fun time leading the 5k @6min/k group with Sapna. Before we headed out I said to her that we should try to get the biggest group of the night. Well, you should be careful what you wish for, cause we must have had 60+ people in our group as we set off from Fed Square. Gulp! Not much you can do with a group that big except hope everyone stays safe, finds their way home and has fun!

Once we got to the Tan Track and I described the simple "full lap then return home the same way we came course" I lost about two-thirds of the group - off the front! No big deal. I ran a very even pace, returning home with a group of about five (!!!) in exactly 6 minute k's. At least we had fun! I also had a request from Marie to lead her group next week as it will be her last Run Club before returning home to Germany. How cool - now I'm getting requests too!

On Thursday came the Big Decision. After reviewing my training so far and how I am responding to it I have decided to up the ante and reset my time goal for the race. Whereas it was a 3:24 target time, with training paces to match; it is now a 3:17 target with associated training pace changes. I am running all my intervals faster than last time (2009) and am feeling good on the long runs - even if the pace has been slower than previous. So target marathon pace is now 4.40 m/k and I am sure I can make this happen. I'm not ready to start getting slower with age and think with a sensible approach I can still run faster. I will monitor my training, especially the long runs, and see how I go. But for now, I am feeling good and optimistic about the chances of running a 'PB' on the Gold Coast.

Which brings me to today's run, the first with the new/faster training pace. And what a doozy to begin with. Today was the first marathon pace session and a ten miler (16k) at that. I ran this from home in the evening with two laps of my 8k course to North Rd and back to South Rd. I have done this many times and so had a good set of comparison times. My plan was to start easy and gradually pick up the pace; not trying to run too fast and turn it into a tempo run.

Which is a bit easier said than done as this pace was, up until yesterday, my long tempo run pace! And, to be honest, it kinda felt a bit that way. Not super-hard by any stretch, but no walk in the park; and certainly not something I'd want to keep up for 42k (at least not today)!

I ran the first 8k in 37.18 min @4.39 pace (HRAvg 146) and felt good. The second 8k a bit harder and faster in 36.48 min @4.36 pace (HRAvg 154). Overall was 16.2k @ 4.38m/k and I felt ok. Again, not easy, but not hard. Interestingly, for my last build up in 2009 my equivalent session was slightly slower and, more importantly, I had the same feelings then about how the pace felt. So I think this augurs well for the road ahead.

Sunday 25 May

After last week's very long run of 33.7k today was much shorter at 'only' 24k in length. Truth be known, I found it difficult to get out the door this afternoon. Not that I was lacking motivation, just felt a bit "bleh" and so running for two hours was not at the top of the list of fun things to do. After a ride with Brooke this morning to the cafe I did not run until later in the afternoon, leaving about 3.30pm which would mean I would get back home just after sunset.

The target pace was Mara Pace +12 sec (4.52m/k) so a reasonable step up in speed to my previous long runs too, but I knew I could run this ok, the thing would be how hard would I have to go to do so. I ran an old favourite course, down South Rd to the beach then along the foreshore to Point Ormond and return. There was a moderate north-west wind which meant a headwind from 6-12k.

When I had previously run long on this course I'd always try to ensure I had a minute or so "in the bank" for the inevitably slower return up South Rd. Today I tried the "Weeks-method" of running an even pace and just pushing a bit harder when needed to maintain target pace.

The first 6k is mostly downhill and I went through this in 28.51 min (4.48 avg pace) largely just trying to find the right tempo. All good so far as you'd expect. Along the beach and into the wind which was noticeable but not super-bad and the next 6k went by in 29.04 min (4.50 cumulative avg pace). Making the turn at Point Ormond I was happy to pick up the tailwind and it was a bit easier. The next 6k was an almost identical pace of 29.07 min and I was still averaging 4.50 m/k for the journey. At this stage I was really happy: pace was right on target, I had been running really even splits and doing so without any gel.

I figured with 36 sec to play with (18k x 2sec/km) I could still run 4.58's up South Rd and finish on target. The 19th km took 5.05 and so I was immediately down on that plan and facing a blowout. Not that I felt bad or anything, I'd just slowed coming up the incline. Time to refocus, which I did and the next km was back on 4.52 with HR still operating in the 143-146 range that it had been for almost the whole run. Time to pick it up ... which I did with the next two k's both in 4.43 (HR up to 150). From the Nepean Highway I ran steady to home; covering the final 6k in 29.17 and the whole 24+km in 1:56.31 @4.51 pace.

Compared to my equivalent run from 2009 this was the same pace, but much more even splits and a faster last 6k. Just perfect!! A great end to the week.


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

Strava links for the week:
Tuesday - Street Speed 4 11.8k @4.25; Yarra River 6x1200's
Wednesday - Nike Run Club - 5.7k @6.00; comfortable lap of Tan
Friday - Marathon Tempo 16.2k @4.38; night run at home
Sunday - Point Ormond 24 24.1k @4.50; long run along beach

Weekly Summary:
Week 8 (this week): 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: 34 runs, 437.0 km, 37 hrs 12 mins

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