Sunday, October 28, 2007

Auckland Marathon

This week has been the week of the Auckland Marathon and has been a pretty busy week for me. While I definitely had targets to achieve in the marathon, this diffidently was not an “A” race for me. It still seems kind of weird to me to see a marathon slotted into my training schedule as a “long run”, but there you go.

There were a few goals that I wanted to achieve and a number of things that I wanted to practice with, so doing this run was very important to my overall Ironman plan. The marathon itself is held at a really convenient time. It’s at the start of the season, and gives plenty of time for recovery. Plus if I’d picked up an injury then I’d still (probably) have enough time to recover before March. This will be the last time that I run this distance before the Ironman.

So what did I want to achieve?

Firstly, a big reason for doing the run was to remind myself of what running a marathon feels like, especially as the first one I ran ended up being such a suffer fest for me. And in case you’re wondering, finishing a marathon feels good, running one doesn’t.

Secondly I wanted to experience the distance again in order to work on my pacing. While I can run a half marathon fairly well, I simply haven’t had the experience of the full distance to know what my body should like at each part of the 42 km course. That poses some pretty obvious problems when it comes to judging the correct pace (or effort). I know that it will be a bit different during the Ironman as there’s the small matter of a 180k bike to factor in, but that’s why I’m doing a half ironman in December and a half ironman simulation in January. I’ll come back to how my pacing went later on.

Thirdly I wanted to make sure that my nutrition plan was going to work for the run. Primarily because I bonked in a big way during my last marathon. So today I carried 20 oz of Leppin Enduro Boost and 5 Leppin Squeezies in my Nutrition Pack, plus a Leppin Slingshot (which holds another 3 serves of gel) in my hand. I also picked up 5 (I think) flat cokes on the way – this was the first time that I’d tried drinking coke on a run and went fairly well. The last couple weren’t completely flat and I almost threw them back up. But on the plus side they certainly do give you a lift. Immediately post race I had a banana, two OSM bars and a free bee “brunch bar” sample as well as some more Enduro Boost. Once I got home (about an hour later so the “window” was well on its way to closing) I had some “Endurance Athlete” (which is a protein, carbohydrate and creatine blend) and a Subway foot long Italian sub (yummy!). I still managed to loose two kilo’s, so there’s obviously some work to be done. But I didn’t bonk and I ran the whole race (aside from walking the aid stations on the second half of the course.

So that all said how did marathon week shape up?

It’s been a bit of an odd week, with labour weekend on Monday and my last day at my old job on Thursday (I start my new job on Monday – so depending on how I’m walking tomorrow – if at all – will determine just what kind of impression I make).

On Monday I went for a long swim, which for me mean’s anything over 2k’s, in this case it was 2.5k’s which is a new record for me. On Tuesday I went for 13k run, this was planned as my last substantial run before the marathon and meant that I had a (running) build up exactly four weeks (whippiee) for this marathon. On Friday, seeing as I wasn’t at work, I made the most of my being unemployed and went for a 70k ride. I had planned for it to be longer but it was unrelentingly windy and I didn’t want to smack myself to much before the marathon (weak I know).

And the actual marathon?

Sunday was suppose to be fine and sunny. It wasn’t though, which was just as well because I’d forgotten to put sunbock on in the morning, I’m a little surprised that that was the only thing that I’d forgotten as I had to get up at 4.30am to catch a bus leaving Albany at 5am in order to get down to Devonport for the 6.30am start. The morning was freezing cold and I put off getting changed for as long as possible.

Once the run started it didn’t take very long to get warmed up, which was good because it lightly rained on and off throughout the day. I prefer the heat myself but I think that most people quite liked the cooler conditions. It was a little surprising how many people were out to watch. The first part of the marathon course, on the North Shore, goes through residential suburbs, and there were loads of kids in their pj’s who had obviously dragged their parents out to watch.

Running over the harbour bridge was a novelty, it’s a long way up and a long way down, but didn’t feel as step as I’d expected.

The half marathoners run at the same time as the full course runners, meaning that it felt really crowded for the first 21k’s. It’s actually a little rough as you can see the finish where the half marathoners turn off, and you know that you are only half way there!

I was conscious of not running to fast, and tried to keep my pace down for the first half. In the end I ran the first 21k’s in 1 hour 50. Given that my best half marathon time so far is 1 hour 45 min I don’t think I did a very good job at controlling my pace. A good lesson to learn.

A couple of k’s into the second leg of the course and Steve Guy from road up to me on his bike. It was cool, we had a little chat and he shadowed me for a big chunk of the course snapping away with his camera, I’ll have to try and get some photo’s off him.

While the first 21k’s were easy and I think I could have got a great time if I was doing the half marathon, during the second 21.195 k’s I definitely suffered more. My pace slowed down, but I didn’t walk at all this time (excluding the aid stations) which was good. In the end I came in at 4 hours 1 minute (by my watch – 4 hours 3 minutes by the official course clock). My goal was 4 hours or less so I’m a bit disappointed. If I’d been a little tougher and knew the distance a bit better I could have easily got in under 4 hours. Maybe next time.

So anyway, that’s probably enough for now. I’m off to put my feet up.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gear Failure - 21st October 2007

The countdown is to the Auckland Marathon is now well and truly on. If you have any doubt that there’s going to be a bunch of people doing it then just have a look along the waterfront near the Auckland CBD and you will see increasing numbers of people with shiny new running shoes and last years “finishers” shirts on. Interestingly enough I’ve meet loads of people who are going to do the half marathon or quarter marathon (11k’s? come on that’s lame, might as well just make it a regular 10k run and call it what it actually is!). But I haven’t actually met anyone else doing the full marathon yet.

I’m a little nervous as I’ve only really had a two week build up as far as specifically preparing for the marathon goes (thanks largely to my ITB problem). So cardiovascully I feel like I’m better than I’ve ever been (and I have the stats to show it), but I simply haven’t logged the k’s that I had planned on. I’m running faster than I have before, today I ran an 8k course at 4 min’s per k, and still felt like I had plenty left, but there’s a big difference between 8 k’s and 42k’s. My longest run recently has been 20k’s and that went fairly well, so I guess we’ll see. I’ll either have a great run and log a good time, or (and I think this is reasonably likely) I’ll run a good half marathon and then blow to pieces at the tail end. Either way it should be exciting.

The basic plan, for those who are interested is to sit at around 155bpm (I haven’t actually done a maximal heart rate test for years, but I know my max heart rate is currently above 190 and I know from experience that I can hold an effort of between 150 – 165 for hours, I don’t get anaerobic until I move up to 170+ bpm. My resting heart rate is currently around 45bpm, it’s kind of hard to tell though as I generally can’t check it in the mornings on account of he fact that I’m normally woken by my high energy kids, doing high energy things, which doesn’t help you find a resting heart rate! I can’t remember the figure, but the last time I did a lactic test I was comfortably above average – I also threw up but that’s another story. But I digress, and apologise for the boring technogeek rant). I’ll also carry my Nutrition Pack (like a fuel belt) this time and throw back a squeezie every 30 minutes. I’m using this as a bit of a test for my Ironman nutrition plan, especially as I messed up that part of my last marathon so badly. So it’s exciting time’s I’ll try and post a report next week.

My long ride yesterday didn’t quite go according to plan. I was about 25 minutes into it. It was a beautiful sunny, calm (but really cold) morning and I had only really just started to get into my grove when I hit a bump as I was flying down a hill trying to catch a roadie who had just humbled me going up the same hill. I heard a bit of a clang which was the sound of my bottle coming out of the cage behind my seat. So I got off the aero bars and turned around to retrieve it, thinking how lucky it was that I wasn’t using my race wheels, when I heard another clang and almost ran over something. I didn’t think much of it until I’d picked up my bottle and started off again. It was as I was about to settle back into the areobars that I noticed that one on the forearm pads wasn’t there anymore!

I went back and found it, so that was OK. Unbelievably the bolt holding the armrest onto the bars had sheared off! Now given that it cut my ride short (as being soft I turned around to came back home and change my long ride into a brick session), you might think that it was a bit of bad luck. But in actual fact I think it was a stroke of incredibly good luck, providence you might even say! Just imagine for a moment if it had snapped half an hour into another ride, say one scheduled in five months time. Just imagine if it had snapped 15k’s into a 180k ride where I could simply turn around and go home!

So I reckon that I had some really providential gear failure. I’m so glad that bolt snapped now and not during something that really mattered. So one trip to the hardware store later and I now have a bunch of shinny new bolts to put in. I’m going to replace the bolts on the other aerobar as well just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately they aren’t as sleek as the old ones, but at least I’m confident that they will actually hold together.

So what’s up for the coming week?

Not a whole lot actually. I’ll have my last long run tomorrow of approximately 2 hours duration, and then largely take the rest of the week fairly easy with a couple of swims planned, a shortish bike (either on the road or inside depending on how time goes), a short speed run and an easy run.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Running Legs Are Back!

It’s happy times in Kieranland. With whooping two weeks to go to the Auckland Marathon my running is firmly back on track again without the faintest sign of ITB tightness and with the pace and endurance as good as it’s ever been! Needless to say I’m very relieved.

Since my last blog I’ve done two long runs of half marathon distance (actually that’s not quite true, one was a shade over 20k and the other a shade under 20k, but hay, what’s a k and a bit between friends …?). On both runs I had the pace locked in at a smidge above 4 min 30 sec’s per k, that’s a little faster than I’ll be targeting for the marathon but it certainly gives me confidence.

Aside from that the middle of the week’s been reasonably low key. In fact I felt completely shelled Thursday and Friday with one of my workmates commenting on the way I looked on Thursday. But that’s OK, and easy day on Friday, a scheduled day off on Saturday (it was my wife’s birthday, and although it was bright and sunny in the morning I don’t believe swanning off for a 3 hour ride in the morning would have been a good idea – correct me if I’m wrong), and a good part of Sunday watching Kona has seen me right.

I also finally hit the submit button for the Harbour Crossing in November. At 2.8k’s it fits in quite well with the grand plan. Also it’ll be good to do a mass start swim before the Rotorua Half Ironman in December.

The kids made me do some skipping on Saturday. Let me tell you, skipping’s a hard workout. I seem to remember reading somewhere that 10 minutes skipping is a really beneficial thing to do, and something which is pretty easy to fit in to a busy schedule, so I might look doing more of it – after all every little bit helps when time is precious.

So what’s on the agenda for next week?

The main thing is that I’ll start biking into work (as soon as there’s a nice day). I live in Albany now and work in Auckland CBD. I’m not entirely sure on the distance but it should be a fairly good workout as I’ll need to ride into Devonport to catch a ferry across the harbour. Apart from that I’ll also be swapping one swim session for a run session (this week only) before easing off for the week before the marathon.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Me and the Kids

Its been a steady week this week. No mishaps, or glitches apart from a couple of thunder storms causing me to can some runs - weak I know ...

So what have I been up to?

I've spent a fair bit of time stairing at the black line at the bottom of the pool (on account of me beig afraid that the torrential rain outside would melt me) and feeling genuinely amazed that I can now quite happily splash my way through lap after lap after lap after lap after lap ..... I've pretty much decided to enter into the Harbour Crossing in November. It's a 2.8k mass start swim and is timed pretty well with regards to my build up to the Rotorua Half Ironman in December. I've told a couple of people that I'm going to do it, so now I just need to part with my cash and hit that submit button to make it real.

I've also lowered my aero bars again. It's been progressive and I've been concious of ensuring that I have the flexability in my back to make it worth the effort. For those cycle geeks out there (you know who you are) I've now got approximately 15cm - 17cm seperation between my seat and my bars, which makes my back fairly flat. As for the difference that it makes, I've only had a couple of rides 1.5hrs plus, but I'd say its about 1 - 2 kph quicker.

And lastly I've acknowledged that I'm 31 and not 21 so have taken some advice and got myself some Glycosaminoglycans (google that!) in the form of Leppin's "Ultimate Joint Formula" which will hopefully help to keep the knees going.

Which brings me to this weeks title.

My lovely wife has finally taken some time for herself and has gone away for three days with a friend of hers for some girly pampering (I gather it involves facials, hair, something called a Vinchy Shower blah blah blah) so me and the kids have been hanging out and having a blast.

Todays training was a little shorter than usual and involved my 4 year old riding his trike saying "you can't catch me!" and my two year old sitting in the pram yelling "faster daddy faster" as I ran along pushing it. It was very cool. They also helped me with some strength and speed work at the park (which involves them seeing how many pullups their dad can do with a two year old and then a four year old hanging onto his back, and sprinting around the playground chasing them). They're great training aids. For the last couple of days if ever we've had to go somewhere, Sam's run to his trike and Eve has popped herself in the pram, how much more motivation do you need! And as an extra bonus they've both gone to sleep earlier than usual and quicker than usual!

Life is good.