Sunday, December 7, 2008

Real Running

At last I managed to get out and do some real running. By real running I mean no roads no cars and definitely no traffic lights! I took a little field trip and ran what proved to be a fairly challenging coastal track just north of where I live. I've been meaning to get out and do this for a while, but like all good intentions I've just never quite got around to it. So this morning, on the pretense of checking it out for a possible "family adventure" this afternoon, I hit the trails.

The track itself is quite a popular day walk as it winds its way between a number of rather beautiful bays. Towards the start of the run my time got slowed down a bit as I had to navigate my way past a large group of oldies out for a days walk (bless them). Of course I caught up to them on a big steep hill which I'd normally happily walk, but not wanting to get heckled by the fit looking old folk I sucked it up and powered on up, while tying to look fresh and happy .... Of course as soon as I was out of site I slowed right down and started to suck in as much oxygen as humanly possible!! Coastal hills (I've found out are killers - the views are good though!!)

Although one lot of views which wasn't so good was running past a bay used by "naturalist". I have to say that the idea of a nudist beach seemed a lot more appealing when I was a innocent school boy, the reality was a beach full of old men and it was all somewhat disturbing! Yuuucck ... don't worry I didn't stop for photo's!

The track wasn't as "bushy" as I'd like. I was hoping for a nice run through some of our fine native forest, but sadly the track mostly ran along the edge of some farm land, so I'll have to get back to the map to find some decent forest trails. I'm really keen to get off the roads on run more trails as its a lot better for your joints and quite simply a lot more to my liking as I grew up spending days tramping through the mountains. Also I intend to do this ultra in 2010, so will have some good motivation to run off road more.

All up the there and back run took me just under 50 minutes, so I did it twice. In the process I had a fantastic and hard workout, and managed to pick up a couple of blisters which is unusual for me (I'll be aiming to buy some proper off road running shoes at a boxing day sale somewhere.

Here's some more photo's to finish with.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Long time no post! (Blog about nothing)

Yes I have been unusually slack doing the blogging thing, so now that I have a few spare minutes I thought I could take a small step in rectifying this sorry situation.

Life has been insanely busy for me lately, mostly due to that pesty thing called WORK, the bane of most modern endurance athletes (except for the few lucky souls who can actually make a living from their chosen sport, and of course those for whom money simply isn't a problem).

Yes work has been crazy busy resulting in my training schedule being tossed out and me being left feeling absolutely stuffed. That being said, two weeks ago was my biggest (running mileage ever) ... and this week was one of the smallest (I did a longish run of 20k's last Sunday and have managed one further run of 8k since then). So I'm really hoping that things will get back on track soon, the pace at work should slow down within the next couple of weeks as people switch off for Christmas and I'll be fully back into training mode.

So I don't really have a lot to blog about, hopefully I'll have something worth reading tomorrow as I'm planning to do my long run along a new coastal track that I've sussed out (on a map anyway) - I'll take my trusty phone and snap some pictures to brighten the post up as well.

Catch ya later!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Its Official!!

Today is a notable day. Today I received confirmation of my entry into the 100k race. As mentioned before its run in conjunction with the Great Lake Rely, so I was a little amused to see that I'm noted down as being the manager of a team of one!

This week also marks the start of some serious, more specific ultramarathon training. Over the coming weeks its my intention to use this blog to record my training and my thoughts around it. I've never taken on an ultra before so a lot of my idea's a just theory to me at the moment. Using this blog will help me track how things go.

This week is a bit of a transition week while I bed down my training schedule. From next week I'll be recording my intended training schedule and the thinking behind it, and then de-brief on the outcome at the end of the week. My idea is to repeat this week on week.

That's the idea anyway!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Auckland Marathon - Race Report

Its been a few days since the marathon now and sore / stiffness wise I’m feeling just about back to normal. The plan calls for a restart to some gentle running over the next couple of days. I’m actually really looking forward to this next phase in my training as I’ll be lowering the number of intensity / speed workouts and instead focusing on running at a gentler, more stainable pace in preparation for the 100k in February.

Don’t get me wrong, there will still be an element of speed work in my training. I believe that its important to keep some intensity workouts in a training plan in order to avoid injury, as these workouts, in the right quantity and right proportion, help to strengthen your body as well as introduce a variance in the biomechanical loading of your muscles and joints. The alternative is to plod along at roughly the same pace day in and day out – thereby exposing your body to the exact same stressors everyday. This is a recipe for burnout and injury.

Anyway I digress, its time for a RACE REPORT!!

The Auckland Marathon, while not the biggest in the world, is certainly big for little old New Zealand. This year there was a record 12,000 people participating over what is actually a number of races run over the same course. The course starts in Devonport on the North Shore and is initially fairly undulating and it winds its way toward the harbour. The highlight of the course occur as you come onto the Auckland motorway and make your way up over the Auckland Harbour Bridge – this is the one time in the year that you get to run / walk over the bridge. The bridge is actually the biggest and longest hill on the course. Its just over 13k’s into the course and there’s a cut off time of 2 and a half hours to get to it. Surprisingly enough every year there are people you don’t make the cut off.

Billed as New Zealand’s premier road race you would think that the marathon would have an awful lot of people running it, but oddly enough you’d be wrong. There is a half marathon that runs at the same time as the full marathon and follows the same course over the bridge. There’s also a limit of 7,500 people allowed to cross the bridge due to safety reasons. So as I was lining up to start the marathon this year it was interesting to note that there were less than 1,500 people running the marathon, meaning that at least 6,000 people around me (plus a number of “bandits”) were doing things by half – and some of these wouldn’t make the cut off … right or wrong? I don’t know, but I know a lot of people who missed out on getting their entry in on time.

Marathon day started for me at 3:30am after getting absolutely zero sleep! The kids had a rough night, which translated into me having a rough night as well, so by the time 3:30am clicked over on the clock, I figured I might as well get things rolling and eat a proper breakfast. My pre-race breakfast usually consists of two pieces of toast with banana on them and a cup of coffee. Seeing as I was eating so early I felt confident enough to have a bit more this time round as whatever I eat would have three hours to settle before I started running.

At 4:45am I got into my car and headed off to the bus station to catch a charted bus into the start venue. I did this last year as well and its by far the best way to get to the start. There’s only one way in or out of Devonport if you’re going by road and getting stuck in a traffic jam at 5am in the morning, stressing about finding a park and getting to the start on time doesn’t appeal as a good way to start the day. Sitting I got to soak in the nervous energy and had a good chat with a couple of people who were about to run their first half marathon.

The start venue was typical. It was still dark, but not dark enough to hide the long queues to the toilets (especially the ladies loo’s – I’m so glad I’m a guy!). So one nervous pee of own and I was then free to mill around for a bit and kill some time before stripping down to my running kit for the day. It was pretty cold this morning, so I was in no rush. In fact the weather forecast had been really bad, but after checking it before leaving I was very pleased to see that things were suppose to steadily improve as the day went on – nevertheless it was cold and just a tad wet.

With 20 minutes to go I stripped down to my running gear and got some slightly disturbed looks from some obvious first timers as I reached into my bag, pulled out a handful of Vas and proceeded to stick it down my pants – I’m sure they’d understand in a couple of hours.

The race got off to a good start, and I set off at a comfortable pace. My goal was to run five minute k’s and basically see if I had enough conditioning to keep that up for the whole marathon. Not the most scientific approach, but still a pace I thought I could keep up and a pace that would see me make a significant dent in my previous best marathon time.

Unfortunately I ended up running the first 5k a little quick and averaged closer to 4:45 minutes per k. I kept on trying to slow down at each k, but didn’t have a whole lot of success. By 21k’s I had bought the pace down a little, but I suspect the damage was done.

I ended up going through the half marathon mark in 1 hour 44 minutes. And kept running a pretty good pace from there through to around 26k’s … at this point the pace started slowing.

The big question for me was always going to be whether or not I had the condition to maintain a steady pace. As mentioned in earlier posts my build up had not been as smooth as I would have liked, combined with the fact that I’d gone out a little quick I wasn’t all that surprised when I started to see the k splits slip.

At around the 28k mark I had a little hurry up as I was caught up by a chap who was trying to break a world record by skipping the marathon (the previous record was around 4 hours 30 minutes I think). Just imagine if I had to write in my blog that I got past by a guy with a skipping rope! Suffice to say I picked up the pace and put in a bit of a surge – I didn’t see him again.

There’s not much more to say really – I ran and ran, my pace slipped a little more, but by the end of the race I had done enough to smash my previous PB by 14 minutes and crossed the line in 3 hours 48 minutes and 48 seconds!

Its been a fairly successful running season for me with a new half marathon PB (1 hour 38) and a new marathon PB set this weekend.

Now all I have to do is nail this Ultramarathon thing and my season will have been perfect!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Quick Update

Its now been a couple of hours since I finished the Auckland Marathon so I thought I'd spare five minutes for a quick update.

YAHOOO New marathon PB for me!! Not quite the triumphant stroll that I had been dreaming about, but nevertheless I'm really please with my effort and damn proud of the result.

I've finally put 4 hour marathons into the history books. Today I crossed the line in 3 hours 48 minutes and 48 seconds (by my watch).

I ran quite a strong half marathon and got to the 21k mark in 1 hour 44 minutes, so a little quicker than my goal pace. However as anticipated my conditioning was quite up to scratch and I did start to crumble after 26k's with my k splits slowing down significantly, as I re-visited my unhappy place. Happily I didn't blow to pieces and managed to bring it home in a respectable time. Still room for improvement though!

I'll post a more complete race report in a couple of days when I'm feeling more up to it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pre-Race Thoughts - Auckland Marathon

Well its now one day until the Auckland Marathon, the weather looks lousily (strong North westerlies and rain easing to showers! Yippee!). So I thought it would be worthwhile, more as a record to look back on than anything else, to put down my thoughts about tomorrows little adventure.

Tomorrow will be my third marathon (forth if you count the Ironman marathon), and so far they have each been learning experiences. I haven't yet finished a marathon satisfied with my effort or the result. At last years Auckland marathon I finished in 4 hours 2 minutes, which was a little disappointing, mind you I did treat it more as a long training run than as a "A" race and trained right up into it. This year, technically, should be quicker.

I'm currently on track to run somewhere around 3 hours 30 minutes. Does that mean I'll actually go that quick? I have my doubts...

My buildup to this marathon hasn't been as smooth as I'd like. I've gotten (very) sick which whipped 2 weeks of training completely and saw me come back with a lot of my prior conditioning lost. More recently I picked up a minor injury which prevented training for a week and raised a bit of doubt in my mind. That injury seems to be now largely resolved and I've been running freely of late.

All of this has meant that while my pace is still where it needs to be, I haven't been able to really test myself of some truly good long runs, so I have a grain of doubt in the back of my mind. If I run at my goal pace will I get to the 30k mark and start to crumble? Its happened before... Or should I ease back and simply aim to better last years time by two minutes?

I've been tossing these questions up over the last week and have largely decided on which route I'll take. I figure that if I go out conservatively and finish the race feeling quite good I'll be very disappointed in myself. So instead I'm going to back myself and go out at my goal pace, and if I crumble at least I'll do it spectacularly and will have something to write about tomorrow! On the other hand if I hold it together for the whole marathon the I'm going to be giving myself the opportunity to really knock a good chunk off my PB. And I think, for someone like me, that's a risk worth taking.

Watch this space, I'll update how things went tomorrow afternoon

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Long Slow Distance

Today is exactly one week out from the Auckland Marathon. This isn't really an "A" race for me, but never the less I do have some unfinished business to attend to with it. Last year I finished with a personally disappointing 4 hours 2 minutes, this year I'm hoping that my finishing time this year will have the 3 in front of it. Whether or not that actually works out remains to be seen. I haven't exactly had a smooth build up this year.

My last big workout before the marathon was scheduled in for today and was a little different to what I'd normally do. And just as well as otherwise I probably wouldn't have gone.

The difference was that today I ran with a mate of mine. He's a guy who got all inspired after coming down to support me in IMNZ this year and has now picked up running. He finished his first half marathon two weeks ago and now is amped for something bigger and better. He hopes to have a crack at IMNZ in 2010. It was actually really good, its not often you get to spend three hours chatting to a friend (at least in my rather busy life its not often!)

This morning was cold wet and windy, with squally showers blowing over on a regular basis. I probably would have opted out of the run if I hadn't been going with someone else. Generally I do most of my runs by myself, this is primarily because with a young family I find it hard to commit to a set time. However today was different!

Today's run (30k) was going to be the longest my friend had ever done. For me it was scheduled as an easy run (as I've just gotten on top of an muscle strain and didn't want to set it back this close to the marathon) and was more about spending time on my feet. In the end my friend ran really well and we finished the run just shy of 3 hours. I found the pace pleasantly easy and came through without any aches or pains, which is encouraging.

The run itself was 30 very hilly k's. A little mean of me perhaps, but running hills (up them anyway) is a great way to have a god workout without loading up to many stresses on the old joints etc.

It started raining almost as soon as we left and continued on and off for most of the run, gradually getting better as the day wore on. The result of course was that my feet got wet early on and I developed a couple of healthy looking blisters on my little toe - could have been worse.

The run wound it way out into the country and we were treated to some nice views along the way. I really do live in a beautiful place!

So from here its only a short span till the Auckland Marathon, and I think that as long as I can avoid any mishaps I should be in for a reasonably solid race!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Its Done!

That's right, I've parted with my hard earned cash and have finally actually entered the 100k race! As I type this my entry form is in the post and winging its way to the race director (yes oddly enough no online entry - its done the old fashion way).

So now I really am committed to my first ULTRA, wish me luck (and no injuries!)

Speaking of injuries I had to cut a run short last Sunday as I had a steadily increasing pain on the front of my lower leg. I was terrified that it may have been the start of something serious (like a compound fracture etc - always jump to the worst possible conclusion). Happily it was only a strained muscle coming up the front of my shin (Extensior Digitorum Longus I think for those geeky nough to want to know). And is now feeling just about back to normal after four days with no running and lots of gentle stretching. That will teach me for wearing old shoes!

I'm going to try and go for a gentle run tomorrow, so hopefully that will go without a hitch!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Long Run - But Why?

Its been a pretty easy week for me this week after last Sundays half marathon. This was more driven by circumstances than anything. I had a rest day on Monday, a long steady swim on Tuesday, a short easy run on Wednesday then I had a conference for work that tied me up for all of Thursday and Friday.

The Thursday night of the conference was an "awards dinner" complete with open bar. I was a little unusual as I was just about the only one who wasn't trying to drink away the year profits, in addition I left pretty early and was snuggled up in my bed shortly after 10pm. I got a little bit of jib from my work mates for calling it quits so early, but I guess thats simply a reflection of where my priorities lie.

Anyway by the time I got back to the conference on Friday morning there were a lot of tired, unhappy people throwing back all manner of pain killers etc. There were also rumors circulating about a mishap that had occurred that night. As it turned out one of the other advisers from my team had gotten well and truly boozed, decided to go swimming, dived into the shallow end of a pool and broken her neck! My decision to a. Not drink, and b. go home early was now not looking so bad with lots of people saying they were definitely going to join me next time. (We got an update during the day, it turns out that she was reasonably "lucky" - which strikes me as being rather subjective - and will now be spending the next week in hospital and a further three months with a halo fitted!).

It was with these thoughts racing around my head that I went out for my long run this morning. Over the last couple of days I've had quite a few people ask me why I run (and interestingly a few people on Friday ask me how they can get started ...). There are a whole bunch of answers to this question, and to be truthful the answers change each year. The reasons why I run now are quite different to the reasons I had when I first started. When you get right down to it I run because I CAN first and foremost. And this is something that I'm really grateful for! I also run because I really enjoy it. I like the way it makes me feel, both during and after (... maybe not so much during ...), and in general life as well.

Me enjoying getting out there

It also gets me out of the rat race and allows me to spend some quality time with myself (and when you have a young family time to yourself is a very precious thing).

The way to the rat race, I happily ran over this today ... and kept on going ...

Todays run was quite hard as I targeted a bunch of fairly descent hills. The course I choose largely followed one I use to use for hill training on my bike. It took me just over 1 hour 40 minutes to cover the 20k's I ran and I was actually fairly happy with this effort. My half marathon season is now over and its time to start to slow the pace down and increase the distance.

Todays run

I've been thinking a bit about my time goals for the upcoming Auckland Marathon (2nd November). I really want to put in a good show which for me means getting home in under four hours. Previously I've had a problem with crumbling in the last 15k's of the marathon and seeing my time goals slip away. However this year my endurance is miles better than it was last year (which is just as well given my "A" race is going to be 100k long), so I'm confident that I will be able to run and maintain 5 minute (or just under) k's. This will see me comfortably get a marathon PB. The trick will be to not run to fast in the first half.

From here on in I will be starting to really ramp up my k's. At the moment I'm doing about 50k's a week, I'll be increasing this to closer to 70k per week by November and then getting up to 100k by the end of December. I don't know if time will allow me to be able to do much more than this.

Roll on summer!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Waitakere City Half Marathon

Well that's another race down and I'm actually fairly happy with the result. Not quite the triumph that I'd hoped for five weeks ago, but still a good result considering two weeks ago I was in hospital hooked up on IV drip and feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Now for the RACE REPORT

I had the usual pre-race nerves last night. It seems that regardless of how many races I do, I still get nervous. I think its a good thing as its a reflection of my excitement. If every I lose that nervousness its probably going to be time to re-assess things. Despite the nerves I actually managed to get a fairly good sleep (although I did have to get up at 4am to settle my three year daughter down - bless her little heart).

My alarm was set for 6.10am and as advertised, it woke me up. Breakfast was my usual, two pieces of toast with a banana squished on top washed own with a cup of coffee. Nice and easy and doesn't give me any problems. From then on its just sipping a sports drink until race time. I was a bit spoilt this time as I was getting picked up so didn't have to worry about getting myself to the start line, or that annoying question of "what to do with the car keys?" - someone elses problem today!

At 7.10 (a little later than planned - race start was 8am) my ride turned up. I headed on down to the race with a mate of mine and his friend. This was going to be my mates first race, and needless to say first half marathon. He got all inspired after coming down to support me for IMNZ this year. So this was a big day for him.

It was going to be an even bigger day for his friend. He has literally only just started running after years of boozing and smoking and being a self confessed workaholic. Today marked a big turn around for him.

We got to the start venue and found that the car park was packed out meaning we had to drive around a bit to find a park. By the time we found one, got geared up and made our way to the start line there was about 10 minutes to spear - enough time for a last nervous pee ... Happily the toilets were right next to the start line, and (in my experience) for the first time ever there was no queue. Unbelievable yes, but I'll take it!

After wishing the boys good luck, I made my way a bit closer to the front to await the starting gun. The hooter went and we were off ... for a typically slow start, there were a lot of people trying to get onto the course. I spent the first 5k's working my way through the crowds who really should have seeded themselves further down the starting grid. But never mind, its all part of the fun.

At the 1k mark I was running below 4min 20sec (k) pace and kept that up fairly comfortably for the first five k's. The plan was to go out and run a pace that would give me a shot at a PB. The big question was always going to be whether or not I could keep it up as my training plan hit a big glitch when I got sick (I lost just over 2kg over the course of two weeks while sick and it put an 18 day break in my training plan).

The run was two roughly 10k laps, the first 5k was pretty flat, however the second 5k was surprisingly tough with a lot of small undulations. This ended up slowing me down a bit and put some unanticipated strain into my quads. With 7(ish) k's into the run you hit the major climb. Unfortunately yesterday when I checked out the course we got the wrong hill. The actual hill was both higher and longer than what we saw yesterday - no problem, love the hills!

I went through the 10k mark in 46 minutes. I shade off my goal pace, but still good enough for a PB - but once again the question, could I hold it?

I was still on pace for a sub 1.35 until the 15k mark, at which point I started to suffer - I was about to get my answer. Getting sick knocked my conditioning and my pace started to slip. My quads also started getting pretty sore on the undulations, and just to compound things both my shoe laces came undone, one after the other, resulting in two quick stops to re-tie them. This probably cost me a total of 30 seconds. "No big deal" I hear you say, but in a race like this every second counts!

I got to the 19k mark and watched 1 hour 30 minutes click by on my watch (plus a further 30 seconds) - sub1.30 will have to wait for another day I'm afraid.

Before you get to the finish you run a lap around a track in a stadium, which was a new experience for me. I managed to get into a sprint finish with another guy (which I won - yay) so it was quite a nice way to finish off.

End result was 1 hour 40 minutes and 25 seconds (see the 30 odd seconds I spent tieing my shoe laces may have meant the deference between getting a sub 1.40 - every second counts!).

Once I was finished I went back onto the course to wait for my mate and his friend. They turned up eventually and I ran along with them. My mates friend was doing it really hard and he was not in a happy place. My mate has stuck with him throughout the run to push him through, but with less than three k's to go, running a sub 2.30 half was looking questionable. With such a short distance to go his friend was definitely going to make it so he kicked on and I paced him for 5 minute(ish) k's to get him home on time. In the end he got home in 2hrs 30min and 57sec, close enough. He was pretty stoked and is already planning the his next race. He would have gone quicker as he was looking really solid, but he stuck with his friend - which is a really nice thing to do.

So the numbers (this should keep a certain Sub6 happy).

There were two distance options, being 11k and 21k (half marathon)

There was a good field of 1348 energised people

In my category there were 378 finishers

I finished in 74th place with a time of 1 hour 40 minutes and 23 seconds

My average pace was 4min 33sec k's (shade over 7min miles I think)

All in all a really worth while workout which should give a good kick to the upcoming Auckland Marathon (2nd November).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pre-Race Thoughts - Half Marathon

Well its now the night before by next race and I thought I'd quickly put down some thoughts.

I headed out to the course to register this morning with a friend of mine who is also doing the race. This will be his first half marathon - in fact it'll be his first race ever! He only started running after getting inspired by coming down and supporting me for Ironman New Zealand, he's now planning on doing his first half ironman next year with maybe a crack at the full distance in 2010.

While we were out there we drove arond the course (well most of it, part of the course is along a riverside track wich obviously we couldn't drive). The drive confirmed that the course is indeed very flat and looks fast. There's one sharp hill (every good run course needs a hill!) but its not very long. Its a two lap course so I'll get to head up that hill twice, I can't see it being to much of an issue though.

Five weeks ago I had high hopes of going sub 1 hour 30 minutes on this course, and todays course viewing showed that my hopes weren't unreasonable. Five weeks ago I was getting my splits down and sub 1.30 was on.

Then I got sick and couldn't run (or do anything) for two weeks. Since then I've been for a grand total of four runs and I'm not confident of going sub 1.45 let alone sub 1.30!

The plan now is to run the first half as strongly as possible and basically see how it goes. I figure one of two things will happen ... either I'll get a good tempo going and I just might surprise myself, or I'll blow to pieces on the second half and have a horrible time.

Watch this space ...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Feeling Better!

That's right, after two weeks of feeling lousy I'm finally feeling (close) to normal again and today managed to get out for my first run in just on two weeks! Not being able to get out and moving has been driving me nuts ever since I got sick, its amazing how you take good health for granted until its gone.

But now my health is back, the run went really well and I actualy felt pretty good by the end of it, so there's hope yet for a decent half marathon next weekend. Whether or not that will mean a personal best is something that I'll just have to wait and see what the day brings.

So what does one do when your crook and can't run or do pretty much anything for that matter?

You study our upcoming 100k race of course! The course has changed for 2009. Previously it was a point to point run two thirds of the way around Lake Taupo. Now its a two lap out and back. 25k's out, 25k's back done twice to get you your 100k's. It actually looks kind of cruel as 25k's is just enough to see you over a certain Hatepe Hill. This hill has been made famous thanks to New Zealand's largest bike race, the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, which reguarly attracts upwards of 35,000 people each year. This bike race is a 160k ride around Lake Taupo with Hatepe Hill being the biggest climb of the day right when you're feeling your most tired.

To insert this hill twice into a 100k running race seems kind of mean. Here's an outline of the corse elevation. Hatepe Hill kind of sticks out ...

Also today I went out with the kids and hit some trails that are within running distance from home. I've been meaning to check these trails out for a while, but the weathers been lousy meaning the tracks would have been slush.

We had a great day, we were out for a couple of hours and the kids did really really well. The track basically starts at the top of a hill and heads down (quite steeply). You then cross over a small stream and head up another steep hill. At the top of this hill you get some great views before heading down again. At the bottom you cross another small stream before coming face to face with what is apparently the oldest tree in the Rodney district, a rather large kauri. From here you head up again until you get to the end of the track. Then you turn around and head back.

We took our time and stopped at a couple of places for some well earned tasty treats.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hospital + IV Drip = Bad Training Week

The last week has been my worst training week EVER. I went for a run on Sunday a week ago, and felt oddly tired and slow. I just figured that I'd been running a lot for the last week and it was time for some rest days. The next day I developed a slight cough, by Tuesday night I had the start of a high temputure. I woke up on Wednesday feeling aweful and then spent the next few days probably the sickest I've ever been.

All this climaxed with a trip into hospital early Saturday morning and me getting hooked up with an IV Drip delivering 2L of fluid plus some drugs to get my temperture down. I also had a bunch of tests down to determine that I didn't have anything to sinister, which thankfully I don't. Just a well developed case of Man-flu.

So where does this leave my bid for a new half marathon record with the race in less than 2 weeks?

I suspect that if I'm lucky I'll be able to get out for a light run later on this week, form there it will be a cae of assessing how much form I've lost. The plan now is to can going for a personal record and instead use the half marathon simpl as a training run. This will mean training right into the race and not specifically tappering for it.

Its a little disapointing but life throws these curve balls at you from time to time. The test is in how you react to the trials, and making sure you come back stronger for the experience.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sudden High Intensity Training

Sudden High Intensity Training (S.H.I.T.). This is a training system which guarantee's results. Unfortunately the results that you get are not always desirable - injury, reduced performance, fatigue etc. I remember the first time I heard about this type of training. I was sitting in a lecture theater and told in no uncertain terms to never ever prescribe your clients S.H.I.T. training.

Happily this is a lesson that I took to heart. During the same lecture I also got introduce to the more sensible progressive approach to High Intensity Training (progressive H.I.T).

For my Ironman Training, the focus was all about going the distance. This time around I have the fitness base, so the emphasis has shifted a degree and I've been progressively building the intensity.

High Intensity Training (HIT) is good, and very profitable provided you follow a plan and don't over do it. If you load up on to much H.I.T what you're left with is S.H.I.T and nobody wants that.

Now that I've committed to doing another half marathon making sure that I have a good balance of intensity is taking on increased importance. I've got some definite time goals for my half marathon, and for an upcoming full marathon to for that matter. The only way that I'm going to achieve these goals is to ensure that I train at an appropriate intensity. What this means for me is two specific H.I.T runs per week. One in the form of intervals, and one longer run, at a sustained pace slightly above my half marathon pace.

With a bit of luck this will give me the kick I need to achieve my time goal.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Long and Slow??

This week marks the transition where I come out of winter and my ultra training starts to get a bit more serious. To date most of my runs have been fairly short with the emphasis being on building speed. Now things start to shift and volume becomes more important.

Which begs the important question, "what's the best type of training for an ultra?"

The obvious answer of course is to run lots, but really, that isn't an answer at all. After all I'm sure a 10k runner will tell you that they run a lot. The reality is that the answer to that question lies in the type of running (and other complementry training) that you do. When you boil it down, I believe (because I've asked it seriously) that the question becomes this; "do I training by running long and slow, or do I continue to include speed work?"

There's pro's and con's to both approach's. On the one hand, by running long and slow you are significantly less likely to pick up an injury, as your body isn't being pounded excessively. In addition its been pointed out that the key to running an ultra isn't so much running fast, but rather not slowing down - so long and slow would make good sense.

However on the flip side, do you really want to train yourself to run slowly? Maybe if you don't have a competitive streak and you simply want to complete. Its also interesting to note that successful ultra runners generally run sub 3 hour marathons - now you don't do that by training yourself to run slow.

I'm convienced that the answer lies somewhere in between. And personally I'll be aiming to keep my splits down. For my part I don't simply want to complete a 100k race, I actually want to do well in it. If that means I mess things up and blow to pieces, then so be it - there's always the following year to get it right. In the mean time I've set myself a Sub10 target (which given I have no experience with that distance, and its a fairly hilly course my be a bit premature) and I will be setting myself up, as well as possible, to get there!

On that note I logged in my first real long run today on a fairly tough course. I headed out into the wops and up a bunch of hills. It was my first time on this course but LOVED it so will probably make this a staple.

This is one of the hills I went up - got rained on again!!

It was a really cool run and I only saw maybe three cars (loads of cyclists, but hardly any cars!!). I to stretch it out a bit though, so will be looking to add a bit more to it.

The sun came out on the way back down

I felt really strong throughout and could have; a. Pushed a lot harder, or b. Gone a lot farther. After doing this I'm really encouraged about both the upcoming half marathon (I've decided to enter by the way - see previous post) and the Auckland Marathon. The course for both are MUCH flatter (therefore easier and quicker) than this course. I'm starting to believe that sub 1 hr 30 min for the half and 3hr 30min for the full are both possible for me this year.

All in all, the sun's shinning a lot more and things are good. I'm planning another long run tomorrow of similar distance to todays (I'm going to be building up my back to back long runs in the weekends followed by a swim on Mondays going forward). Next week will include some technique work as well as some shorter runs.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Spring Time

Yes at last it's spring. Weeks and weeks of quite possibly the worst weather I've ever had to put up with are now a thing of the past. In fact this morning when I was out for my run I even saw a mother duck and her ducklings following her areound. A sure sign of spring!

But to the all important matter of training. I've run my fastest kilometer splits ever this week (mind you over a 7k course it probably isn't going to do me much good for my Ultra Dream). What this does tell me though is that my plan to break out of my previously plodding running tempo over winter has been largely successful. My leg turnover has picked up noticably and my perserved effort is quite comfortable.

In the past I've been frustrated by an inability to go faster, dispite the fact that I'd finish races feeling fairly fresh. I just couldn't get my legs to turn over quicker. So post Ironman this has been a major focus for me. Now that I seem to have met with some success I'm starting to build up volume again.

The summers racing is now starting to take shape.

- Half Marathon on 12th October (this is potentially a bit of a problem, I'll explain shortly)
- Auckland Marathon 2nd November
- Harbour Crossing (2.8k ocean swim) 16th November
- 42k off road run 22nd November
- Rotorua Half Ironman 13th December
- 100k run 21st February

That should keep me busy enough.

Now the reason why the half marathon in October is potentally a problem.

This has been a bit of a spur of the moment thing, but potentially a good training day. If I truely treated it as merely a training run, then I'd train right up to the day, do the run, and keep on training. The problem is that this particular half appears to be on a very flat course which is a bit of a rearity for me. Earlier on this year I ran a personal best half marathon time of 1 hour 38 mins. I think that given the way I'm running at the moment, and given the nature of this course (the last half I did was a hilly mix on on and off road) I quite possibly have a 1 hour 30 half in me waiting to come out. So do I treat it like an "A" race and really try and nail a good time? And if I do will I have enough time to recover for the Auckland Marathon? (which I have some unfinished business with following a disappointing shoing last year - legs wouldn't turn over fast enough, see my previous comments).

Well any suggestings?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Offroad Running

There hasn't been a lot of interesting stuff happening in Ultraland lately which is why I jumped at the opportunity to mix things up a bit by finally getting out for some offroad running. To make things interesting one of the guys who I was going to be running with is / was (as he now lives in New Zealand) a top South African Adventure Racer having raced for team Giant/New Balance and more recently team Salomon.

So it was an early sun filled start (which after three or more weeks of rain was a real blessing) and quick trip out to Riverhead Forest.

I have no idea how far we went but we ran pretty hard for just over an hour. I was definitely pushed a lot harder than usual but was determined to put in a good showing. Meaning I sucked up the discomfort, plastered a smile on my face, and tried to keep talking in as normal a voice as possible. I did pretty well to. There were three of us to start with, one chap pulled the pin and headed back after about half an hour, while me and my South African friend kept chugging on. I managed to keep it together, although I did start to feel a bit queezie coming up the last big hill, however everything stayed where it should and I was able to cruise down the other side and recover with my pride intact!

It was a beautiful day, and just so nice to get out and away from traffic and concrete roads etc. I'm definitely doing this again soon. There were no flats and it was either uphill or down hill which suits me just fine. The scenery was fantastic and the workout brilliant!

The only other things of note is that I've started swimming again (and happily it seems that I still remember how!), so the Harbour Crossing (2.8k ocean swim) is on the agenda (16th November). Also I've entered the Auckland Marathon and if all goes well I'll be looking for a Personal Best. In theory 3hrs 30min seems possible, however I'll be happy with anything under 4hrs.

So that should keep me focused for a bit longer. I think I should also enter the 100k race before doig the marathon (as marathon's have a habit of putting me off running for a while).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hows the Running Going?

Pretty good actually. I'm fairly laid back at this stage of the game and just really focusing on getting my tempo set with lots of shortish runs. As a result my speed is increasing. I few weeks ago I ran a half marathon PB and I'm now consistently running around 7.30min miles and occasionally dipping below 7min.

All of this begs the question (which has been asked by the way) "what good is improving speed in short runs if your "A" race is a 100k ultra?"

Fair question, here was my answer:

You are absolutely right, running at that pace in a 100k probably isn't going to work out. My plan though is to build up speed in the "off season" and focus on distance from October onwards (essentially starting with the Auckland Marathon - of course there is also the added motivation of keeping the speed up for the Rotorua Half IM, since I'll be doing it in a team I really want to KILL the run course!).

I've found over the last year, and particuarly during Ironman that I got locked into a set tempo which was relatively slow. This was really hard to break out of, so I'm basically trying to re-train my legs to turn over faster. I know fitness wise I can sustain a much quicker marathon pace than I've run in the past, its just a matter of building the tempo and training the legs turnover at the right tempo. For the 100k I'm planning on targeting a pace of roughly 30 - 45 seconds (per k) slower than I'm running at the moment (bear in mind that I expect my "marathon pace" to increase between now and then meaning my 100k pace will in effect be closer to 1 min slower than my "marathon pace" (therefore around 5 min - 5.10 min k's) - well that's the plan anyway. For now its all about building speed and locking in a faster tempo.

At least that's the broad plan ...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

No Training This Week

That's right, no training what's so ever this week!


Because a fairly typical thing has happened to me. You see a couple of weeks ago I ran a half marathon (in a new personal best time of 1hr 38min 25sec I might add, smashing last years effort by a good 7 minutes!), and then after a week of not really resting from it and staying really busy with life, I got sick.

I've spend a couple of days this week not even being able to talk let alone do any kind of training! And today, now that I'm finally feeling a bit better, we get hit by the biggest storm thats been seen for a decade! Suffice to say, I've stayed safely at home today, and probably will tomorrow as well.

Nevermind, next week's a whole new week!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Goal, new blog (title anyway)

So the question which has been bugging me lately is "what does one do after completing and Ironman?" Obviously there are many many choices.

I could go ahead and do more Ironman races! Only problem is having to focus on three sports (swim, bike, and running) and doing A LOT of each was not going to do my marriage or family life any favours.

I could focus on the shorter half ironman stuff, less training, less commitment. That was a definite possibility. Only problem is I'd still have to put in 3 - 4 hour training rides on a regular basis - and therein lies the biggest problem. With a young family and a VERY busy life, cycling simply takes up to much time (at least if you intend on being on being competitive - and I just can't help myself).

I could always give up on the whole endurance sport thing ....pftttt, like that will really ever happen, I am who I am (a bit like someone else I know but on a much lesser scale).

So with a touch of reluctance I've sold my beautiful bike and have started concentrating on running. Its the one thing that gives the biggest bang for your buck (so to speak). While a long bike would be 4 - 6 hours, a long run (for me) is unlikely to be much more than 2 hours. That's quite a difference!

So having made that step, I needed a goal.

For a while now the idea of doing an ultra has appealed to me. I seem to be predisposed to going long (albeit slowly) and fairly minimal training - you just need to look at my Ironman results. I did a fraction of the training I probably "should" have done, and prepared in a fraction of the time I should have - yet got a very pleasing result.

Now I've discovered a 100k run which is part of a bigger relay run and have made the mental commitment to complete it next February (entries haven't opened yet).

This blog is now going to follow my progress to what is sure to be a very long day. More details will follow shortly!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cycle 4 Chopper and other stuff

Attached for your viewing pleasure are some photo's of from my recent charity ride. But before those how about a quick catch on whats been going on.

The most significant thing is that my litter sister has beaten my half marathon record by two minutes. She ran only her second half marathon (which is actually one more than me - adventure runs don't count) in Christchurch over the weekend and came home in 1 hour 43 minutes for 70th overall, which is a pretty good result. To be fair the Christchurch course is known for being flat and fast, but still a family record is a family record and she is my YOUNGER SISTER, so its just not on.

I fully plan on getting the title back in a months time when I run the North Shore City Half Marathon in July, this is actually a fairly hilly course but I'm feeling pretty confident about beating last years effort of 1 hour 45. At the moment my projected time is just under 1 hour 40, with a pinch of luck I'll be able to pull out 1 hour 30(ish) on the day.

Anyway, on with the photo's

Made it to the start, 25k's down 100k to go!

Leading to the top of another climb, where's everyone else?(roadies are soft ...)

Making the most of the "team" car

At the top of another climb, waiting for everyone else. One of the roadies made a good show of hanging on this time.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dominated the Dojo!

For me today’s ride ended up being 124k’s and by no stretch of the imagination was it in anyway fast (this was on account of having to keep the bunch together). But nevertheless if I may be aloud to put my humility aside for a wee while, I totally DOMINATED THE DOJO!

Lets have a closer look at this. King of the Mountains went to me as I made the top of every climb except for one first(due to the fact that I was talking on my cell phone – naughty I know … but I managed to pull it back for a close second). I won every stage, and needless to say I won overall. I also biked the farthest by 25k’s (as I biked from home to the start to get a bit of a warm up).

The first 50k’s was from Orewa (north of Auckland) down the East Coast Bays, and was easily the hilliest 50k’s I’ve ever ridden. There was a bit of competition to start with but the roadies quickly popped and I DOMINATED!

The day was fantastic with barely a cloud in the sky and not a breath of wind, it was nice and cool and really just perfect cycling weather. Having support vehicles was something a bit different (even if they did ensure we didn’t go to fast and stopped regularly to make sure the bunch stayed together). It was great having them pass out bottles and Power Bars while on the move, real Pro Tour stuff (in my mind at least).

The total time biking was 5 hours 29 minutes, so as I said, not very fast, but still very satisfying. I DOMINATED everyone, and had a great time, and due to the easy pace I don’t feel particularly worn out. Plus we raised a bunch of money for the Rescue Helicopter, so all in all a great day

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Back on the Bike

Yip it was back on the bike again today in preperation for next Wednesdays "Race". I picked a rather tough route today which was pretty much all short sharp climbs with very little flat stuff. This was really a bit of a test to see how my bike fitness was holding up (given that I've done bugger all riding since Ironman NZ) as well as good chance to ride over some of next Wednesday's course and test out my race strategy. As an added bonus I'd also put my race wheels back on and had to make sure that I'd tuned them in right (although the clusters on my training wheels and race wheels are identical, on the race wheels they're closer to the hub meaning that I have to re-tune the gears every time I change - somethings I'm getting pretty good at)

On Friday I finally got details of the race course. Its not quite what I'd thought and basically involves a number of short stages between bank branch's. With a fair bit of male pride and corporate bragging rights on the line, I have a feeling that this will mean a lot of sprinting to get line honours throughout the day. Sprinting on a time trial bike is not really my thing, so my plan is simple. I don't want to wait to the final sprint at the end of every "stage", so my plan is essentially to launch attacks right from the start until one sticks and then make it stick. I'll be putting the hammer down all day knowing that I'll get a bit of a break at each branch, still there's a fairly good chance that I'll blow to peices at some point during the day. Its going to be fun though!

Also I figure I wouldn't be much of an Ironman without making it a bit more challenging. So I'll be riding an extra 30k's to get to the start line in the morning, and then go from there! I'm really looking forward to it. And if anyone wants to sponsor me or through some dollars my way (the whole thing is for a charity remember) don't forget to check out my fundraising site

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's been a while!!!

It been a long while since I've blogged anything, but I've decided that I should stop being lazy and start up again.

Why bother? I hear you say!

Basically because it makes me more accountable. I have a couple of goals which are now fairly firmly set (in a loose kind of way), and I figure that in order to blog you should really try and have something to blog about. Hence the restart!

I do however need to come up with a catchy new blog title, KieranMischewskiNZIronman2008 isn't really relevant anymore - its yesterdays news (so to speak). I'll ponder that for a while and come up with something spectular, or failing that just something more fitting.

So what have I been doing since Ironman New Zealand?

Well immediately following Ironman I was all fired up to do more. Thankfully after a couple of weeks that desire subsided, I don't think my marriage would last another Ironman, or at least not yet, and I do really like being married.

So I've spent a bit of time mostly running, with my main and most immediate goal at the moment being to get a PB (or PR for those in North Americia) in a mid year half marathon which I did last year. By the way a PB for me is sub 1 hr 45. 1 hr 30 is the dream goal, so I need to get a bit faster. This is going to feed in well to my half ironman buildup later on in the year, as I simply don't run fast enough, or indeed as fast as I could.

What I've noticed in most of my races is that I ever cross the finish line fully spent. I think that comes down a bit to experence, in that I haven't done a lot of running races (or races that end with a run as in triathalon) so have been holding back to ensure I have enough ounce to finish. This year I'm making a concerted effort to run HARDER. I'm doing this by upping the intensity for short (under 10 k) runs at the moment. The idea being to keep my heart elevated above my normal target zones and hold the pace. The result initially was a very tired Kieran. But as things have progressed the effort has become more managable, and the times have stayed quick (for me). The next step is to increase the distance whilst maintaining the effort.

However, to put a slight spanner in the works, I've just committed to a 100k charity race on the 28th May - two weeks away!(bike race that is - I'm not game enough to run that far just yet). Here's the story:

I work for a bank which sponsors a Resuce Helicopter trust in New Zealand, and every year they hold a fund raising drive which all the bank staff are involved in. In our area one of the things which they're doing is holding a bike race with distances ranging from 10k through to 100k. I am, of course, doing the 100k ride. The opportunity to do a fully supported ride on a work day was to good to pass up. The only catch is that I need to raise some money (by the way, if anyone reading this wants to sponsor a good course you can do so at fundraisingonline ). The thing is though this ride is shaping up to be far from social with a number of roadies working for the bank (apparently cycling is the new golf) making a bit of noise about making the trigeek suffer and crack ... we'll see about that!!!

So this has meant me suddenly switching back to the bike after a bit of a lay off. My heart rate on the bike is a couple of beats higher than it should be, meaning I've lost a bit of bike fitness, but I'm hopeful that this will come back fairly quickly. My aerobic engine is still working fine, so it should be sweet, and after all it is only 100k's! What's more I don't need to run a marathon after the bike so there's no need to hold anything back! The course hasn't been set yet but I fully intend to put the hammer down within the first 10 k's and see what happens(the race starts in a hilly area and ends in a flat area, so there's a good chance I'll be able to get away at the start, problem is I'll then have to do something like a 70k time trial with a pck of roadies following behind). Wish me luck, or better still sponsor me (or rather the charity)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ironman Blues

Yep I got them, the post Ironman blues. Happily I’m pretty sure that I’m over them now. For those who don’t know the Ironman Blues are common enough to have their own name and basically is a mild depression that besets the Ironman finisher a few days after the big race. Its not surprising really, after all the better part of a year has been focused on this single big event, every waking thought (and quite a few dream time thoughts to) have been centred on making that day a success. We watch what we eat, keep detailed training logs, and generally have our lives planned out months in advance, and then the big day arrives. As an athlete you become the centre of everyone’s universe as volunteers and strangers go out of their way to cater to your every need, and that’s all before race day. On race day itself you have thousands cheering you on and urging you forward, and then, before you know it, its all over.

Life gets back to normal, the only problem of course is that normal is now very abnormal to the Ironman athlete. All of a sudden there’s no need or driving purpose to training and, almost over night a big hole has been place in what has been a very full and busy life. Friends and family don’t really understand, they’re just happy its all over, that you made it through and that now they get to spend more time with you.

There’s also the equally significant factor of hormone change. After a year of pretty intense exercise you have become addicted to endorphins, that natural drug which produces a “high” and which the body pumps out in vast quantities to suppress pain during your Ironman. After a week of recovery and probably not a lot of exercise (as in my case) you start to get withdrawals which of course add to your sense of malaise.

But now I think I’m over it. I’ve just come back from a 16k run and feel great (that would be the endorphins). It was a fairly leisurely run done simply for the fun of it and the joy of running, although in saying that I did throw in some fartlecks as part of a plan I’m formulating.

After having done Ironman I’m hooked, I would love to do another one. Its going to have to wait though as I don’t think either my finances or my marriage could handle another Ironman year at this point. Maybe as a late 35th birthday present in 2011. This Ironman thing seems to be something that my body naturally agrees with. Those of you who get a copy of the book are going to be surprised a just how small my training volume actually was, probably somewhere between 60% -70% of what the average training program would recommend. And my actual build up time (including some initial marathon training that I did before committing to Ironman) was about 14 – 15 months where most other recommendations that I’ve seen are for a 3 year build up, prior to that I was sitting around getting fat and 9 months ago I couldn’t even swim (not more than a 25m length anyway). It isn’t my intention for this to be a self congratulationary rant but I am very proud of where I’ve come in my Ironman journey, so I make no apologies.

I feel really vindicated in my training philosophy and my training program. I was self coached throughout (apart from 5 swim lessons). The challenge was always to get the best possible training done in the short space of time I had, as I didn’t want to sacrifice my family time, although they did get a little less of me during the year. It turned out that the year of Exercise Physiology that I did all those years ago has finally paid off. The key thing for me was to ensure that every training session had a measurable purpose and that there were no junk miles and no wasted effort. To complicate things this had to be done in a very versatile fashion to fit in with my family demands. A big part of my training philosophy was to be an active dad, and really be high energy with my kids, this ensured that while I wasn’t doing specific training I was being active and getting puffed, and therefore getting some sport specific benefit from good old fashion fun. I think I largely achieved that and I’m really proud of my result. I am left wondering the big “what if”, what could I have done if I had focused solely on Ironman? I suspect that’s a question that everyone who isn’t a professional athlete asks themselves and a question that very few people get to answer. The reality is that its not a question that I want to answer, because to do so would mean sacrificing to much.

So what’s next? Not Ironman.

I decided on my run that the focus this year will be on getting faster over the shorter half ironman distance. Specifically I want to improve on my swimming and my running. The bike can largely stay “as is” for the time being as I’m not loosing time on the bike and as it stands could easily push harder if I had more confidence on my running. So this year will see m do lots or running and swimming drills in training in order to get better and faster, time wise this will largely have to fit in with my lunch breaks.

For events I’m pretty tempted to run the Rotorua Marathon in early May, but probably won’t (due to the expense and the travel required). I will however do the North Shore City Half Marathon in July which is part of the Auckland Run Series (I’ll be targeting that for a PB), I’ll also do a 10k which is part of the same series in May. Next on the list will be the Harbour Crossing, maybe the Auckland Marathon (although it’s a bit naff – to many people) with my “A” race being the Rotorua Half Ironman. I’m tempted to do the Taupo Half Ironman which is the week before as it’ll be a bit of a trip down memory lane and its flat and a good race to get a PB, so I’ll see how we go.

To throw something a little different into the mix I’ve been asked if I’m interested in doing the Mountains to Sea Multisport race. This is a adventure stage race held over three days in October. I’ve said I might be interested in doing it as a team (as I don’t feel like picking up a paddle and doing the kayaking bits again – its been a few years and would involve to much training), so watch this space.

All in all I think this is going to be a positive year. Here’s the goals:

1. Spend more time with the family
2. Get faster at racing

Monday, March 3, 2008

Kieran, you're an IRONMAN!

Be prepared for a loooonnngg post

I’ve spent the better part of a year visualizing what it would feel like to have Mike Rielly call me in with those words. Well now I know how it feels, and it feels awesome!

I finished my very first Ironman in 12 hours 56 minutes and 21 seconds and I’m totally stoked to have made it home in under 13 hours. I had serious doubts about whether or not that would happen with 10k’s to go in the run, and was desperately doing the maths in my head and coming up a few minutes short every time, but more on that later.

Ironman day started at 4.20am for me, my crew chief Clint and my wife Helen, although I was already awake when the alarm finally went off, in fact I hardly slept at all, and didn’t have a great sleep the night before. My mind was far to busy going through what I was about to put my body through. The rest of my support crew (being my two kids, Sam and Eve, my sister-in-law, Liz and her husband David) were up a bit later to say a prayer, which I think sustained me through some of the dark patches, and to see me off as we left to head down to the start. Steve from had provided supporters tee shirts to promote the book. These were bright red and I would keep on seeing them on my guys as well as on the other Alpe Athletes supporters throughout the day.

We got down to check in at around 5.30am and the process of getting body marked and checking the bike was a great way of settling things down. Checking the bike was interesting. My bike was fine, everything still worked, the drinks were topped up and the gels attached, but most importantly the tyres were inflated. That was a lot better than some other people. There were plenty of poor folk ripping off tyres which had popped and doing a quick change. I also heard at least one tyre explode as I was walking down the line to my bike. It happens in bike races to and never ceases to amaze me how people who should know better still try and squeeze a few more PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure into their tyres and end up exploding them right before the race start, certainly not the way I’d like to start race day.

After checking the bike it was down to the swim start. Again we were there in plenty of time, so I had a chance to relax, take a second nervous pee, and soak in the atmosphere. The forecast for the day was rain with some heavy showers and strong northerly winds, however as it turned out the morning was almost perfect. No wind and only light clouds (although you could see the big black ones coming), the result being that the lake as smooth as glass.

Eventually I got changed and checked in my bag for the finish before kissing my wife good bye and heading for the start. In Ironman New Zealand there’s a Maori Haka done before the race (for those of you outside of New Zealand a Haka is like a war dance, it’s a challenge laid down by those performing it). Its awesome and intense, a Waka (war canoe) comes out of the mist with 20 or 30 warriors on board and lands on the beach next to the swim start, at which point the disembark and lay down the challenge. The right thing to do is to stand and face the Haka and accept the challenge, which is what I did before getting into the water. One way or the other I was going to be accepting the challenge of the day emerge from it in glory (even if only in my mind). What a way to start the day.

The swim went pretty much as expected. I managed to stay out of trouble for the first part and found a few feet to swim on as we headed down the first leg of the swim. Things got a bit congested as I rounded the first mark and I took a fairly solid knock to the eye, luckily I didn’t loose my goggles and managed to keep going without breaking stride. By the end of the first leg (its out and back) my time was 41 minutes, which was right on track. The way back was uneventful, this was actually reasonably noteworthy as for the first time in an open water swim I had actually managed to swim straight (I normally veer off to my right, which cost me a load of time in my last couple of swims, but had been working on this over the last couple of months). I came out of the water in 1:25:49 which I was plenty happy with (my goal time was between 1 hour 20 and 1 hour 30). It was then onto the long 400 meter run to T1.

The run to T1 goes along a marina road before heading up a bunch a steps in an embankment. It was at the bottom of these steps that my support made their first appearance with my kids waving signs and yelling support. That gave me a real boost and I flew up those stairs.

It was then into T1 to get my wetsuit stripped and into my bike gear. I took my time and had a much smoother transition than I did in my first (and only other) triathlon. Sure does pay to practice and visualise. By the time I got out to the bikes there weren’t a whole lot left, looking at the results I was well down at the back of the pack by the end of the swim. That wasn’t a surprise and was what I expected, the swim is easily my weakest as anyone who has been following this blog will know this time last year I couldn’t really swim.

After getting onto the bike it was time to get into my work. The bike was always going to be the place where I’d make up time and placings. The bike course consists of two 90k loops out to a little town called Reporoa with only a couple of hills along the way. I’m fairly strong on hills and would have been happy if there were more. The first one is only a couple of k’s from the start of the bike course and I figured that it would set the tone for the day, if I rode that strongly then I’d probably ride the whole course strong.

I passed a lot of people on that hill and I kept on passing people all day. The forecast wind showed up early on in the bike meaning there was a very stiff headwind all the way out to Reporoa. Whilst I don’t particularly like headwinds, it still suited me fine. Its very slightly downhill on the way out to Reporoa, and conversely slightly uphill on the way back, so a headwind there and a tail wind back is probably the best result if it has to be windy.

On the first lap my average speed was a relatively slow (for me) 27kph. But on the way back it was much quicker and I spent a lot of time sitting around 44kph. By the time I was heading back the rain had started. I hate riding in the rain, and in fact the day got quite miserable with the wind really driving the rain, and yet there were still thousands of people lining the course a various points, including one local farmer trying to tempt the athletes with a nice cold beer as they wizzed past. My support crew was doing a brilliant job, popping up a various parts of the course to cheer me on. I really can’t overstate the value of this kind of support. At one point I was going through a bit of a dark patch and they right there, at the right place at the right time to lift me up out of it.

By the second lap the wind had picked up some more and shifted a little as well (meaning it wasn’t quite a tailwind on the way back). At one point I was down to 17kph on a flat bit of road, that lap was hard work. I managed to stay aero for probably 95% of the ride, which was really good, especially on a windy day. Unfortunately by the second lap my water proof bike computer was starting to fill up with water and it was getting hard to read, so I didn’t know what my averages were. I also started getting some stomach issues by the second lap, nothing too bad and not enough to throw out my nutrition plan thankfully, but it didn’t bode well for the run.

Coming back from Reporoa for the last time I really buttoned off on the pace to get some recovery in, as I really wanted to give myself the best chance possible of doing a good run (or at least actually running the marathon and not walking it). The end result for the ride was an average speed of 28.3kph and a time of 6:22:04 (I think that includes the transition time though). This was a bit slower than my prediction of 30kph, but given the wind I was happy enough with the effort. What was really good was that I absolutely ripped the field apart and made up close to 350 places on the bike, I was only past by 3 or 4 people all day. I also finally got to meet Sub6 as he yelled at me when I was coming back into town for the last time, I'd see him again and actually exchange some words (although I can't recall what they were) later on the run course, he's a bit of a celebrity so that was real cool.

The run is what really makes an Ironman in my humble opinion. It’s during the run that things start to hurt, and where you can no longer hide. By the end of the bike I was pretty wet and my feet were soaked thanks to the rain. Fortunately I’d thrown some spare socks into my run bag, they weren’t my best pair (being an optimist I was wearing those on the bike and not planning to change) and I normally wouldn’t have picked them for use in a marathon, but given the situation they were a God send.

Coming off the bike I had a very tight muscle on the outside of my right foot and I was quite worried about this as I started the run. Happily that particular pain eased away and eventually disappeared altogether. The first lap went alright, although I was having stomach issues and couldn’t tolerate anymore gels, in fact pretty much whenever I put anything other than water into my stomach it repeated on me. So I stuck to water, coke and a little bit of Replace from my nutrition pack. I also managed to force down a little bit of banana and some pretzels. The one thing that I had no problem with was some soft lollies I had ducked away in my nutrition pack and some hard lollies I picked up at a couple of the aid stations.

The first lap of the run went alright and I maintained a steady pace, it certainly wasn’t a pace that would get me a marathon PB (personal best) but it was good enough. Leading into the race I’d been a little worried about how the run would go as I hadn’t done a lot of running or brick workouts due to a tight ITB, so I was very pleased to see the legs turning over. On the way back in to town from the first lap (it’s a two lap course) I was beginning to enter into the outskirts of Hurtsville, and it was a huge lift to see my family waiting for me on the course. My son, Sam is still in a wheel chair due to his broken leg so my sister-in-law, Liz, ran next to me pushing Sam along for a short spell. Again this was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it, and lifted me from a big slump which I was going through.

The second lap saw me go deep into Hurtsville and had me starting to answer some big questions, like how hard could I actually push. At this point of the race the crowd support was phenomenal, I can comfortably say that there is no way that I could do an unsupported Ironman. Without the volunteers at the aid stations and the crowd support along the way I would have just stopped. I kept on thinking how easy it would have been to stop ad sit down. Instead I kept on running. My goal for the marathon was to actually run it (only walking the aid stations), and I kept on thinking about the challenge I had accepted at the start of the day, and how I wasn’t going to give in to weakness. And I didn’t. I ran the whole course and met that goal.

A mentioned above coming back from the last lap I had doubts that I would get back in under 13 hours. I still had doubts until 2k’s to go where some guy, standing by himself went crazy. He was looking at his watch and screaming at me that I could do it if I just kept up the steady pace I was on, and that I was looking really “solid” (I didn’t feel very solid). With that screamed encouragement from a complete stranger ringing in my ears I somehow managed to pick up the pace. Half an hour ago I didn’t think I could go any faster, but it’s amazing what you can do when motivated. Somehow I was tapping into reserves that I didn’t know I had. The last 2k’s from the 40k mark hurt more than anything else I can remember, but somehow it also felt really good, that must have been the endorphins.

Coming around the outside of the domain and going into the last 200 meters is a bit of a blur, I remember seeing my wife and crew chief, as well as Steve from and his camera man, and then I was coming down the finishing shoot.

At that point it stopped hurting. I could see that I was going to make it in under 13 hours and as I was catching the person in front of me I eased up a bit after making sure there was no one close behind me. I wanted to really enjoy the moment and I didn’t want anyone ruining my finish photo. I went down the finishing shoot pumping my fists and grinning like an idiot. Crossing the finish line I grapped the tape and held my arms up in glory! This was the moment that a whole year had been building up to and it was awesome, one of the best moments of my life, just behind my marriage and the birth of my children.

Hearing Mike Rielly saying “here comes Kieran, a 32 year old father of 2. Kieran, you’re an IRONMAN!” is unforgettable.

Was it worth it? Definitely.

I’ll do another post race blog in a couple of days, but for now I’m still enjoying the moment.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Last "pre race" blog

Yep that's right, the next time you see I new post I will officially be an "Ironman". The family and I are heading down to Taupo tomorrow afternoon to get all set for the big day. So I'll be spending tomorrow morning packing, unpacking, repacking, checking and rechecking (you get the idea).

I think at this point the thing I'm most nervious about is not fitting everything in the car. That's a bit of an improvement on how I was feeling last week and is largely thanks to a sensational final ride I had on Sunday. It was raining and windy and I spend the first 20 minutes of it sitting on the indoor trainer watching the rain drops fall before toughening up and heading outside. In the end I had one of the best rides I've had for ages. It was 70k's and I averaged 35kph without feel particuarly challenged (I suspect the wind was working for me for a change).

Although I wasn't to keen to head out in the rain, it now looks as though that may have been the best thing. I've just seen the long range weather forcast and its for rain in Taupo (and pretty much everywhere else) on race day. Which is a bit rough when you consider that there's been a bit of a drought lately, still I guess the farmers will be happy.

My preference is for ot and sunny, and I don't normally perform all that well when its cold and wet, but on last Sundays effort it would appear that warm and wet suits me just fine.

So I reckon I'm ready, just need to figure a way to squeeze everything into the car (including a wheel chair which is causing me some logistic problems, but I'll work it out!).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Glad its not this weekend

I'm so glad that Ironman isn't this weekend. All day its been raining and blowing a gale (well not quite a gale but it is very windy). At the moment there's a storm over half the country which has largely put the breaks on any training for today. Not that I much planned, pretty much all I have left to do is a 70k ride (at some point this weekend - if it doesn't work out I'll resign myself to the indoor trainer tomorrow), and a 2k swim on Monday or Tuesday - and that's it! No more training for me (for now anyway).

So this time next week, assuming everything goes well, I should be well into the run. Of course if things don't go well then .... who knows.

As I'm not doing any training today I've kept busy buy finishing up my bike seup. The race wheels are now on, and the bike computer set up (not as easy as it sounds as the sensor magnet isn't made to fit a tri-spoke wheel, nothing that duc tape can't fix though). I've glued a broken in tubular onto the front and have resigned the old one as a spare.

Tubulars are great, but they're not perfect. On the plus side they hardly ever puncture (in fact I've never had a puncture while using tubulars) and they're generally faster than clinchers. If you do happen to puncture they're also much quicker to change (as you simply peel the flat one off the rim and slap a new one one.

On the negative side they're quite a bit more expensive to replace and if you do happen to puncture then they're basically a write off. Also if you're unfortunate enough to puncture while out on course you need to take it easy on corners as most people aren't in the habit of carrying a pot of glue with them, and theres a reasonable chance they could roll off the rim (for this reason you carry used tubulars as spears so they stil have some old glue on them which will hopefully re-activate). The oher big downside is that carrying spares is a pain as its not simply an inner tube that you carry, but the whole tire.

So the other thing I've been doing today is fitting two spares onto my bike frame under the seat. Originally I was going to carry one in a bottle holder behind the seat and simply use two bottles on course (picking up drink as I go, as well as having a bottle in my special needs bag), but now I'll carry three (two electrolyte and one water) so I'm not as reliant on the aid stations mixing the drinks properly (in my experence the seldom do). I'll still need to pick up drink on course, but I just won't be as reliant and will be able to ride through a couple of aid stations - thus saving a few precious seconds!

I'll be writing down my race plan (both "A" and "B") over the next couple of days. I've got a pretty good idea of how things will go for the swim and bike, but the run could be a bit dodgy. My main aim for the run is to actually run it (barring the aid stations, which I'll walk). If I can do that then my run time will be OK.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

One Week to go!

Well eight days actually.

Just a quick update, so far this week has not seen a lot of training but has seen a lot of preperation in other respects. To be honest there now is very little I can do to make myself physically better equipped to deal with race day, so training is, finally, taking a back seat. In its place I've been busy making sure that the gear is going to be all ready and in tip top shape for the big day. The one thing that I really don't want to have to deal with, and that is quite preventable, is gear failure, or having equipment that is not working at its best.

The one peice of equipment that is perhaps more important than any other, and which has the greatest scope for failure is, of course, the bike. My bike is not new, and stuff does wear out, so getting it in for a service has been a top priority and I finally did that this week. As it turned out there was a fair bit of tightening and twecking to be down, plus a new chain to actually drive the thing along. My chain was very worn, which wasn't a surprise, and the thought of it snapping has been a reoccouring nightmare of mine. So that was happily replaced and now my ride is quitely gliding along again, silky smooth ...

I've also got the bike and helmet check out of the way by having this done at a local accredited shop, so that's one less thing to worry about on race week.

Also it looks like the long awaited book is taking shape. For those of you who may not be aware contributing to a book about Ironman is my part of the sponsorship deal which propelled me to do this whole Ironman thing in the first place, or at least it propelled me to do it this year and not next year (and of course next year, like tomorrow, never really come around). Anyway have a look at the book details (thats me on the bike by the way)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Enough Training Already!

I have to say that I’m pretty much over this whole training lark! Realistically I’m not going to get any fitter before 1st March, and really the only improvement I can measurably get now is to freshen up and be well rested.

It’s been a long haul, and to know that in two short weeks I’ll all be over is both daunting and exciting. Daunting because really there is very little else I can do, after all these long months of training, to prepare myself any better and there’s still the nervous doubt of just how I’m going to cope on the day. In the ideal Ironman world my training volume would have probably been twice what it has been. But my life is not solely about Ironman. I also have a family who have not seen nearly enough of me as it is, and who are my top priority. As such my Ironman plan has always been to fit training around family rather than the other way around. I think my biggest training week has been 13 hours, and consistently between 10 to 13 hours for the last couple of months. Before that my training was peaking at around 10 hours. So a big question for me is “can you do a meaningful Ironman on that amount of training?”

For me being the type of guy I am, I do no want to finish down at the back of the pack (or at least not to far down the back anyway). I’m reasonably confident that I’ll have an OK race as endurance sports have always seemed to be something that I’ve been able to adapt to fairly easily … be still there’s doubt. I’m comforted by the fact that I’ve run marathon’s, I’ve biked big k’s and swum the distance, so my doubt is tempered with healthy optimism. I guess I’ll have my answer in a couple of weeks, if it all works out I might even patent my training system!

This week has been fairly relaxed on the training front, partly by design and partly due to a number of social engagements. I only did a few light sessions during the week leading up to a typically busy weekend.

On Saturday I finally got around to doing a four k swim. The weather forecast was for a fairly horrid day so it was an easy option (as a side note, I read in our local paper that the North Shore beach’s have been invaded by microscopic jellyfish that are causing stings and nasty rashes, so absolutely no more sea swims for me this summer!). Dragging my way through 160 lengths was rather mind numbing, in the end I did it in four 1k sets with 40 seconds rest so I didn’t go insane. In the end I still got the counting a little mixed up in each set, so I actually swam somewhere between 4k – 4.2k (my theory being that it’s better to swim to far rather than to short). It took me 1 hour 35 which is about where I expected it to be – my pick for Ironman is a 1 hour 20 – 1 hour 30 swim, anything less than that will be a bonus.

My form was fantastic … or the first two lengths anyway. By the end of the swim my form was pretty poor and I’d pretty much had enough, in saying that I didn’t actually feel all that tired (sure my arms were happy to stop moving) so that bodes well. My swimming has certainly come a very long way! I amused myself by chasing after other swimmers feet as much as possible, good practice for Ironman and basically if I go faster than 1 hour 20 it will be because I’ve managed to draft most of the way.

Today was a 100k ride, which actually ended up being quite tough as I had a fairly strong headwind for probably ¾ of the way (don’t ask me how that worked out, it just did!). Still I got in on 3 hours 18 (30.3kph average) and although I was a bit more tired that I would have liked to have been, the legs seem to get to the right pace. One of my worries and consequently something that I’ll be focusing on in the race is keeping the bike under control so that I can actually run the marathon. Assuming the wind doesn’t play a major part, an average speed of 30kph is pretty comfortable for me, and I know I can run of it well.

So with that in mind it’s not hard to do the maths. 1 hour 30 for the swim plus 6 hours for the bike makes 7 and a half hours. My best marathon time is four hours and I’m pretty sure I won’t be running a PB at Ironman, but if I have a good race and the wind doesn’t mess up the bike then a 13 hour race is a possibility. They say you shouldn’t have time targets for a first Ironman and I tend to agree, as there’s so much that’s new. But I do know the course (especially the bike course) fairly well, and I think barring a melt down – which is entirely possible by the way – sub 13 is possible for me. In saying that my main goal for Ironman is to firstly finish, and secondly actually run the marathon (excluding the aid stations and maybe the odd up hill … got to give a guy a break you know), the rest will take care of itself!

Not much planned for next week. My bike’s getting serviced on Tuesday and at some point I’ll get it down for inspection. Other than that I’ll be doing one more swim, one more run and a couple of short rides before a final 70k ride on the weekend. After that the legs go up and the full taper begins in earnest.