Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Am I Back?

Well its been a while, and to be honest I'm not to sure if I really am back. What I do know is that I've spent the last six months sitting around getting my energy and motivation back and importantly healing up from a couple of consistantly niggling aches and pains.

So "where are things at?" I hear you say.

I have no plans beyond getting out and slowly getting some fitness back. Next year may see a half marathon and potentially a 50k off road ultra but nothing to serious I'm afraid on account of an expanding family. As for right now, I'm simply turning the legs over and stretching things out. Without boring you with the details I started running at a 5 min 30 sec per k pace at the start of the week, and have dropped that down to a 5 min flat per k pace now that we're almost at the end of the week. My heart rate, however is way to high and its all just that little bit harder than it was six months ago (no 40k training runs happening this weekend!!).

So am I back? ... We'll have to wait and see ...

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I think I've come to a bit of a crossroads in my life (this happens every now and again). The problem is one of motivation, specifically I'm not sure that I have enough of it anymore.

You see as far as running goes the short stuff doesn't really do it for me anymore, especially given that I run a half marathon in training most weekends and could easily pump out a marathon with only little or no notice. The challenge for me has always been one of completing the event. Winning hasn't really been on the radar so for me, along with the mass of other people who do this kind of thing, its all about the personal challenge - and a big chunk of that has now faded away for me.

So that leaves the long stuff ... trouble is that in going ultra you enter into a whole new level of pain and suffering, and you'd better believe that you need to be highly motivated before ever toeing the line. Which brings me back to the question "do I have the motivation?"

The thing that's really bought this to a head for me today is a niggling injury that I have on the top of my left foot. It feels like a bone or tendon problem. Its doesn't stop me from running but it does cause me a bit of pain if I'm not careful while kicking a ball around with my son. This has made me reflect on the last three years.

In late 2006 I started running in order get some fitness back. I had planned to run a half marathon in May 2007 and maybe try a marathon at some point. Anyway in typical fashion my time frame got accelerated and entered my first race (a 22k offroad run) in March 2007. It was hard but I loved it!

Next thing I knew I'd entered the Rotorua Marathon which was being run the last week of April. I grossly underestimated how tough a marathon would be (or maybe I just overestimated my ability - confused "ambition with ability" as the saying goes). The first half went well but after about 25k's the wheels started to fall off and I blew to pieces ... but I finished it!! The day after my legs hurt to move, I had no energy and I was sore all over - but I was also over the moon and hooked!

Then came my chance to do Ironman and the rest is history (as this blog will attest to).

So in the last two years I've become a marathon runner and over the course of several marathon's have knocked almost an hour off my first marathon time. I've learnt how to swim (in fact this time two years ago I couldn't swim), and have surprise (and delighted) myself by having completed several open water swims including the 3.8k's of Ironman. Not so long ago I would have never thought that would be possible.

I completed my first ever triathlon, being the Rotorua Half Ironman in December 2007, and almost snuck under 6 hours. I probably would have gone sub6 if I'd actually been at the start line on time (yes I missed the start! It's a long story ...), and hadn't spent so long mucking around in transition.

I became an Ironman in 2008 and an Ultrarunner in 2009, by far my toughest and proudest personal achievement ever (excluding the raising of my kids and nurturing of my family, which is an ongoing work).

I've achieved far more than I ever thought I would, in quite a short space of time and on quite a challenging training budget (time wise - no 15 + hour training weeks for me ...). Now I think I'm just a bit tired. I also have a number of other things I want to achieve.

For instance I want to get back to study. I've spent the best part of 10 years getting a couple of degrees, not so much because I enjoyed the topic's, but rather because I thought they were the right thing to do. And do be fair, as a result I have a good and successful career. But now I want to extend myself intellectually in an area which is actually of personal interest to me. I tried starting some study at the start of the year, but in the end had to withdraw as I just couldn't find the time to fit everything in.

So what am I to do? Take a break and do something completely different? Take it easy over winter and then pick some event to target in the summer? Who knows? But I really do feel as though I'm standing at the crossroads, I could go left, or I could go right. Either path would take me to a different place. Maybe things will converge again in the future ...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Random Questions

Just a quick post today to answer some random questions. Over the coming weeks I'll expand on these a fair bit, but for now here's the short answers.

Question Number One
Do you think the 24 hour race will mess you up as much as Ironman?

The short answer is "no". Slightly longer answer is that I suspect it will mess me up a whole lot more than Ironman did. In my experience of ultrarunning (being all of one race so far), running an ultra (or at least running 100k) is far, far, tougher than Ironman. After Ironman I was excited about doing another, whereas after my 100k ultra I was convinced that I would never want to run again, my feet hurt, my legs hurt, my back hurt, my stomach was messed up, my "weeing" (specifically the colour) was of concern, my shoulders hurt and my arms hurt. Things were a little fuzzy and after "only" 65k I was really not in a very happy place. By the time I had gone past my second marathon and still had another 16k's to go I had been right through Hurtsville and was in some strange land I'd never been to before.

Ironman is easy! (I should qualify that by saying that "finishing" Ironman is easy in comparison to finishing an ultra, "racing" is no doubt quite hard judging by the number of pro's who end up in the medical tent).

Question Number Two
Will you run all the time, or do you have a run / walk strategy?

I suspect that if I were to try to run for 24 hours there would be a big crater in the track after 12 hours or so. My plan at this point is to seriously stick to a very strict 25 min run / 5 minute walk strategy. Given that its on a flat track there will be no natural obstacles to break things up (like hills), and I think that a mix of run / walking gives me the best chance of actually lasting the full 24 hours. I think that a big issue for me will be based around the fact that its 24 hours on 400m track as opposed being a race of a set distance. As while I'm probably to stubborn to drop out of a 150k race (which by its nature has a definite finish line), I think it will be a lot tougher mentally to keep plodding around a track where the finish line is determined by a clock.

Regardless of how the run / walk plan works out, my main goal is to just keep moving forward. To keep me sane I'll be breaking the distance down into marathon, 50k, 50miles, 100k, 150k, and 100 miles (the ultimate goal!). At this stage I reckon that I could pull out 150k in 24 hours - which on last years results would be enough to get me 3rd place (that in itself may be an indication that its actually going to be tougher than I anticipate ...)

More musings later, I got to go run somewhere ...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another Day Another Race - King of the Bays

The weather forecast for today wasn't all that great. And in the end the weather was, well, pretty ordinary really. The King of the Bay's is a 2.8k open water ocean swim between Milford Beach on the North Shore of Auckland, and Takapuna Beach, meaning that land is to your right and ocean to your left as you swim. There was a 15 knot easterly blowing (meaning that the swell and chop was coming from the ocean, with the wind blowing over your left hand shoulder. This suited me fine as I prefer to breath on my right hand side which I was hoping would lower the amount of water I was going to swallow.

At the start with the kids

1000 people lined up for today's race with the race starting in 3 "waves". I was in the middle wave with an estimated finish time of just under 1 hour.

The race itself was rough, in every way possible. The start was a surprising free for all. Surprising as I figured being in the middle "wave" there wouldn't be so much hard core competition, but nevertheless there was a lot of jostling and people trying to swim over other people (and then stopping to have a look around!). The race from start to finish was probably rougher than Ironman! I had someone try to break my toes. Someone stop in front of me, just as someone else tried to swim over the top of me (and this at around 2k into the swim). And I got hit in the face three times! I loved it!!!

The sea was really rough with big swells and chop right from the start. At the pre race briefing they were encouraging people to pull out if they were having second thoughts. The rough seas made swimming difficult and sighting really hard. I found that quite a few times, as I was taking a stroke, my arm would only just break the water, meaning my hand was dragging through (this would generally happen was a wave was going over). The end result being that I was swimming with a much high chest and should position than normal (meaning a lower hip and leg position - not ideal.

There were no race records set today, by anyone! I ended up finishing in 1 hour 18 minutes for my slowest swim ever. Interestingly enough I felt really strong and comfortable for the whole swim, so I'll put the slow time squarely down to the weather. (As a comparison, my last 2.8k Ocean Swim was the Harbour Crossing in 2007, I swam that in 1 hour 7 minutes and it just about killed me!).

All done, have just spotted the kids as I'm down the finishing shoot, what's an extra 30 seconds really worth aye?? Not as much as their happy faces!

So all in all I'm pretty pleased with my race. My lead up was pretty poor (I've been quite sick all week, and haven't been swimming a lot at all since Ironman). I'm just so stoked that I can actually swim something like this (I only learnt how to swim in 2007).

Now back to the run training ....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ours is a Dangerous Sport

As my little sister has discovered, the life of a budding triathlete isn't without its risks. These come in many shapes and sizes but, in my experience, are most often focused around biking. My little sister is starting to get quite serious about our sport with her focus being on dominating the half ironman distance at this stage (her first serious crack at a triathlon was the Rotorua Half in which (to my shame) she snuck past my previous time and notched up a smoking 6hr 1min 5sec - I'm expecting big things for her this year!).

Over winter she's giving a big focus to becoming a good biker so has been notching up the k's ... until I got a message from her saying she was in hospital getting stitches etc.

There are two versions of the story:

Version 1
"I was riding along the south coast of Makara when I saw a cute little puppy/small child being mauled by a huge pitball I scooped up the puppy/small child and the pitball bite me I then kicked the pitball in the head and killed it."

Version 2
"Was going for a road bike heading towards Karori I stopped for traffic got my left foot out of the pedal gust of wind pushed me over to the right couldn’t get my right foot out bike went out from under me and I sliced the back of my ankle on the front cog of the bike."

I'll let you decide which is the true version ... Everyone I know, including me, has done it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And then I saw this

Yes this little event this looks very interesting to this budding Ultra Runner, which is kind of odd as just a few months ago I would have laughed at the suggestion of running around a track for several hours, now I'm thinking maybe its not such a bad idea!

The only question is, do I target 12 hours (given that I now know I can "run" (term used fairly loosely there) for 14 hours plus, or to I front up for 24 hours of running and see just how far I can go???

Decisions decisions, I'll ponder that one on my long run tomorrow morning

Friday, April 10, 2009

So Whats Next

So whats next???

Thats a really good question and I have a few idea's floating around in my head to answer that question. Next weekend's all sorted as I've entered the King of the Bays a 2.8k ocean swim.

But then what?

The broad plan at the moment is to try and recapture a bit of speed with the aim of lowering my half marathon PB in at the North Shore City Half Marathon in July (a race I've done for the last two years and in which I've lowered my time each year). So that gives me a focus for the winter. Then building into summer I thought I might give the Auckland Marathon a miss this year. The thought of paying $120 to run a crowded race just isn't appealling to me this year. So as I do want to run another marathon this year I'm eyeing up one of two possibilities.

The Legend(probably New Zealand's toughest road marathon)

Or the Macs West Coaster (New Zealands toughest marathon with an average finishing time of around 6.5 hours!)

Or maybe both ...

Which now just leaves the big hairy 12 month goal. At the moment its a bit of a toss up between doing an offroad 50 miler, or giving the 100k ultra another nudge. I have to say that at the moment I'm tending towards the 100k, as I really didn't run it very well this year, although I did learn an aweful lot, plus a good time there would qualify me for Western States (unlikely that I'd go there, but you never know).

I'll be pondering that one for a little longer...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shore 2 Shore

Today I ran the best race of my life, not so much in terms of speed (51 min 42 sec of a 5k is probably a tad slower than I could possibly push for), but definitely in terms of quality.

Today was the annual Shore 2 Shore fun run which is a fundraiser for local schools. You enter through the school that your kids go to with a large portion of the entry fee going straight back to the school in the form of new sports gear! An absolutely fantastic idea! This year there were just over 6,500 people doing the race making it second only to the Auckland Marathon in terms of single event participation.

I did the race with my five year old son Sam. We'd been training for it over the last few weeks by slowly building the distance up, however today was still going to be the farthest that he'd ever run.

Sam did great! He managed to run most of the race, although perhaps he went out a little to quick at the start (1st race nerves - we've all been there!). Sam was very stoked at the 2.5k drink station where he was able to pick up his cup while running like a pro, a couple of mouthfuls and the rest dumped on his head to help him cool off.

My wife and my daughter Eve were at the finish shoot cheering us on, Sam was very focused but remembered to raise his arms in glory as he crossed the finish line (m wife got a photo of the but unfortunately someone just got in the way - however the guy with the mic noticed and made of point of pointing Sam out, you can kind of see it in one of the pictures.

It was a great day and Sam is already asking when the next race will be! Enough words from me, here's the pictures ...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trip to the Beach

What a great day today was! The sun was shining yet there was a nice cool breeze blowing so it didn't get to hot. To make the most of this fantastic weather I went for a run down to the beach. From my front door to the beach is exactly 10k, its then exactly 1k each way along the beach so I get a nice (and typically hilly - that's the problem with beach's - they're generally surrounded by steep hills!) just over half marathon run.

Today was all about enjoying myself and just running cause I love running, so I simply ran at an easy and comfortable, effort wise it was probably close to my "marathon pace". When I looked at my watch when I got home I was very pleased (and a little surprised) to see that I had cruised the 22k in a sub2 hour pace. I didn't feel particularly taxed and I suspect I could have turned around and done it all over again!

Of course I didn't because there's more important things than running (believe it or not!), I have a wife to love and kids to play with, so 2 hours was all the running I was going to be doing this morning. But, I can honestly say, it was the best 2 hours ever.

Which brings me to one of the many answers to the question "why do you run?" Part of the answer is that "running makes me a better person". I have more energy (which surprises some people), I'm a nicer person to be around after I've been running, I'm healthier, and, in this Xbox / Playstation world that we're building for our kids, I believe I set a good example to my kids about life being an adventure that you need to actually get out and "live!"

On that note, this afternoon I git in my second run of the day (well more of a jog actually, but its all k's in the bank right?). It was trip to the local school grounds to do some run training with Sam (my 5 year old son, we're doing a 5k fun run in a couple of weeks) and we were also taking the training wheels off my (almost) four year old daughter Eve's bike!!! The kids biked there and I ran, then ran some more around the field with Sam, then ran some more chasing the kids around the play ground, then ran home why they biked. Best run EVER!!! I love being a Dad!

Not sure what's on the agenda for this week. I'll probably aim for a couple of speed sessions during the week and then try and get off road and long in the weekend.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Getting lost ... and loving it!

As I've mentioned before I'm trying to freshen up my running by getting offroad as much as possible. The only problem is ... there's no sign posts offroad!

Todays long run was in Riverhead Forest, a local network of logging roads and tracks, with the tracks being largely built by a couple of the local mountain bike clubs. To give you an idea of just how extensive the track network is I was out for about 1 and a half hours and I saw one mountain biker, one lady on a horse, and one random guy walking along a remote logging access road tossing a rugby ball!!!! Given that the car park was full and I saw plenty of people both as I arrived and as I left this was a bit of a surprise - I thought I'd be spending all day dodging mountain bikers.

The run started with a steady 25 minute climb up an access road to a trig station with a pretty cool view (once I'd stopped panting and got a chance to look up and enjoy it).

Trig Station

View out to Auckland City, the loggers had thoughtful cut a few trees down to improve the view ...

After this it was just under an hour of getting lost on the network of single track which criss crosses the forest. Here's some pictures for those who need visuals.

In more general running news I've started some (kind of) structured training again, with a focus on picking up some speed once more. I surprised myself on Saturday night by running one of my regular 6.2k runs near my house a full 2 minutes faster than I'd ever run it before! Who ever said running ultra's makes you slow!

So after swearing off running at the 70k point in my 100k ultra, normality has now resumed and I'm eyeing up races again. There's a mid year half marathon that I've done for the last couple of years and I'd like to give that another nudge. I've also stumbled across a 50k off road ultra thats run around Riverhead somewhere in April that migt be worth checking out. Plus there's a (growing) chance that I'll run in the Wellington Marathon in June. So plenty to keep me interested!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Back on your feet!

Just how long does it take to recover from an Ultra?

I have no idea, having only done one its something that I'm still working out. Still I'm not one to sit around and get fat, so it was unsurprising that by Wednesday (after the pain had started to subside) I started getting itchy feet again. This week I've managed to get out for a couple of walks, a jog, and finally ... a run!

Running just feels so good, however at the moment I'm weary of not overdoing it and making sure that I give my poor old body the best chance possible to bounce back. In addition I see this as a great opportunity to bounce back stronger and better than before by really listening to my body and my treating it supremely well.

Happily enough this Wednesday marked the start of lent which is traditionally 40 days of sacrifice, fasting and generally going without in preparation for Easter. SO I've decided to (as much as possible) cut out all refined sugars, flour, processed food etc from my diet and basically eat "like a caveman" (meaning that if a caveman could lay his hands on a particular type of food then I'll eat it, if not, then I won't - in particular if I pick something up and can't pronounce any of the ingredients on the back of the packet, then I'll put it back). So far this has resulted in much better eating (and a few trips to the local fruit and veggie shop). As a result - I think - I'm feeling like I actually have a lot more energy than usual, plus I get to have a certain smugness from knowing that I'm eating well ...

Anyway today's run was my first real run since the ultra. It was a short 8.6k beach / offroad run along a coastal track. One of the things that I really want to do more of is offroad running, so this was a step in that direction.

We had a storm yesterday, however today the sun was out, and combined with a hot wind it was really muggy! The first 5k of the run went pretty well and I felt quite good, however towards the end I was getting tired and I was pretty pleased to see my car after just under an hours running, so obviously still not over the ultra!

I obviously chose a good route as I ended up running the same track as my pro triathlete namesake Kieran Doe (apparently not updating his website at the moment ...) and saw him wizz past looking a whole lot stronger and fitter than me at the moment (or at any other moment for that matter).

Finally I've been giving a bit of thought to my next running goals. While I'm still not going to commit to any more races this year I am starting to fix my sites on a couple for next year. The first one is an 8 hour trail run in Riverhead Forest (just down the road from me), this is generally done as a relay but they're open to individuals, so I should be able to get an ultra distance done in 8 hours. Then there's a 50 miler in Rotorua a month later which is looking really interesting.

And I've just found out about a 100 miler down south which is worth giving some thought to (maybe for my 35th birthday ...).

Here's some photo's from today's run:

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Zealand 100k Ultramarathon Champs - Race Report

Make yourself a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, this is going to be LONG (a bit like race day as it happens)

My ultramarathon really started at 12.30pm on Friday as I left work early to get the car packed and take the three and a half hour drive down to Taupo. Packing the car was straight forward as I had most things already organised and besides, packing to go away for a race is something that I’m getting quite good at. I ended up leaving home at around 1.15pm …

… I then turned around and came back home to pick up the stuff that I had forgotten!!

I eventually got on the road by 2pm and headed straight into Auckland traffic. This proved to be pretty much the story for the whole drive down to Taupo. I had traffic in Auckland which took ages to get through, then I ran into some major road works about half an hour south of Auckland, the I came across some police cars that had blocked off the state highway and had to go through a detour along a narrow, winding country road along with hundreds of other cars!!! Suffice to say it took me a bit longer than three and a half hours!

In the end I got into Taupo at 7pm, thoroughly worn out by the drive. The plan had been to get into Taupo and have my tent set up by 6pm. I’d then go onto the course and stash some aid while it was still light (this race was going to be completely self supported, not plan “A” but sometimes you just have to go with the flow ..). After that I was planning on having enough time to register, attend the race briefing and get to bed early at around 8.30pm.

That plan went out the door thanks to the slow trip down. Instead I set up my tent, went straight to registration, stayed for the race briefing and then headed out, in the dark to find a place to stash my aid. I eventually got to bed at around 10pm.

My humble abode

At the registration I met another guy who was doing the 100k for the first time and we got talking. He’d done Ironman a few times and, like me was giving the 100k a go as a new challenge. The conversation went something like this:

(Ironman Guy) “so how many Ironmen have you raced?”
(Me) “Just one”
(Ironman Guy) “Oh really, I’ve raced three plus the usual other stuff, what was you time?”
(Me) “Arrr, just under 13 hours”
(Ironman Guy) “Oh yeah, I’m nudging 10 hours. What kind of training have you been doing?”
(Me) “Well actually my training has been a bit weak, but I’ve strung together some long runs and think I can go the distance”
(Ironman Guy) “I’ve been doing 50k runs in training, reckon I’m in for a good time … blah blah blah, its going to be a mental game blah blah blah”

I saw Ironman Guy a couple of times out on the course zooming along in his tri suit (yes, a one piece tri suit).

However the next time I was to actually have a chat with Ironman Guy was at the 75k mark. He was sitting on the side of the road with his head in his hands, looking pretty broken. He told me he had the trotts and had been unable to keep anything down for the last 4 hours (that one piece tri suit was looking like a very bad idea – note for future Ultramarathon runners, don’t wear a one piece tri suit!)

Anyways as I’ve mentioned above, I went to bed at around 10pm. I dozed a little but didn’t really sleep and was steering at the top of the tent when my alarm went off at 1.40am, time for breakfast!

“Breakfast” was a bowl of muesli, I wasn’t feeling very hungry so left it at that. After eating I got dressed and made my way across to the race start. I parked my car fairly close to the start / finish line (and right on the course) and set about preparing what was to be my major “aid station” (the boot of my car). My chillie bin was full of ice and drink, my food was ready, I had a change of clothes, shoes and socks laid out, and my blister kit all ready. I hung around for a bit and waited as long as comfortably possible before putting my shoes on (after using lots of baby powder on my feet).

There were 50 people starting the 100k solo, plus an additional 20 2 x 50k teams making this the largest ultramarathon ever held in New Zealand (gives an idea of how small this aspect of running is in New Zealand). Interestingly enough this was the first time that prize money had been offered, there was a prize pool of $12,000 paying three deep (male and female), just goes to show what a little bit of sponsorship money can do!

The start of an ultramarathon is a strange thing. In most races, there jostling at the front and when the starting gun goes everyone’s off like a shot! In this race however there was a countdown from ten “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …” and then everyone just kind of shuffled on off down the road …

We stayed fairly bunched up for the first 20k’s. I kept my pace in check with an average heart rate of bang on 150 bpm, which is about what I wanted. I also got on the shoulder of a guy who had recently won the New Zealand 12 hour championship, so I made sure that I didn’t get in front of him, figuring that my ideal pace would see me on the course for at least 12 hours (the sub 10 hour ultra dream had a reality check a couple of months ago …). Its weird running at night, especially as there was only a crescent moon during the run, so not a lot of light coming from there. It almost feels as if you’re running in a bubble which comprises of the couple of metres lit up by your head lamp. Looking ahead I could see the red lights from the other runners (we were all given red flashing lights to wear on the back of our shorts), but it was quite hard to get a sense of depth, so it seemed kind of surreal.

At 22.5k’s I came across my stash, which was thankfully still safely stashed. My biggest worry up to that point was that my stashed aid would be missing. I was a little concerned when I topped up my camel pack with only 750mL, as this meant that I was not drinking nearly enough (just over a litre drunk as I was also carry a small water bottle, I also picked up a new water bottle from my stash, I was using the camel pack to carry sports drink). From there it was a short little jog to the 25k turn around which I got to in a time of 2 hours 54 min, so far so good.

The 25k mark is right at the bottom of the biggest and longest climb on the course, the famous Hatapi Hill. My plan was always to walk every hill and what I really noticed going up this hill was that the chaps who were trying to run up it weren’t actually going much faster than me, but they were using a lot of energy!

About 30k into the race, looking tired, but thats because I've been running since 3am! - Yes that is a LONG road behind me!

At around 35k my stomach started to feel a little funky, so I stopped to, um, answer natures call … which made me feel a lot better. I’d also promised to call the kids at 7.30am and managed to keep that promise, although it was looking a little dicey for a bit as the cell phone coverage dropped out for about a 10k stretch. Talking to the family gave me a boost and I was able to truck on through the 42k (marathon distance) mark. My stomach was starting to feel funky again so I broke out my “dodgy bag of pills” which included some ginger caps. These were brilliant and settled things down really fast, I wish I had bought some more!

Things were still pretty low key at the start / finish line (which was also the 50k turn around point). The official there took my time (6 hours 3 minutes), said “well done” and “good luck” and I was off heading back out of town again. I was still just about on target at this point, however I thankfully stopped in at my “major aid station” (my car boot) to do some running repairs and try and eat some food.

My feet had started to develop some big blisters on the side of each heal. I had a hollow needle and some “compeed” to fix these so set to work. The trick with draining blisters is to make sure they don’t simply refill, that’s why pricking them is no good. The other thing to be careful of is to not tear the skin, as things are going to get really sore if the skin comes off – hence the hollow needle, it puts and nice round hole in the skin.

Now (and this is a little gross, so be warned), these two blisters on the heals were under a bit of pressure, and when I lanced them they shot their juice out in a fascinating but somewhat disturbing arch. The blisters were to big for the compeed, so I simply smeared them with lots of vas. I treated some blisters on my toes in the same way. It was then loads of baby powder, fresh socks and shoes, and my feet were set!

Next was some more sun block and vas (tip:- it helps to have a list to work to when you’re doing it all for yourself).

Eating was an altogether different problem. I’d forced down some gels on the way in, but my gut really didn’t like it, and the thought of eating anything made me feel quite ill. In the end I managed to down some pretzels, a bottle of Red Bull, a muesli bar and a banana. I also unloaded a bunch of stuff from my camel pack that I now knew I wouldn’t be able to eat. I topped up the camel pack with sports drink again (a bit more than last time, but still not enough), grabbed a bottle of water and headed off.

After about 1 k I realized that I’d left my sunhat behind. It was an overcast day and there was no way I was going to head back to get it trucked on and prayed that the sun wouldn’t come out to much!

I think that after the 50k mark is where the race really starts. This is where things that are a minor pain during a marathon, become big issues in an ultra. One such problem for me was the fact that in 8 hours I’d only pee’d twice, and the last pee did not have a good look to it (sorry if that’s a bit crude). By this time I was 60k’s into the race and just about ready to call it quits. I’d even started to ring a friend who lives in Taupo to ask them to come and pick me up. As the phone was ringing I had a moment of clarity and hung up. I looked up the road and saw a big hill and so resolved to have an extended walking break and concentrate on drinking as much as possible. Which is exactly what I did.

5 k down the road, as I was walking up the hill happily sucking on my camel pack I came across my first ultramarathon causality. It was a lady who had been in front of me all day. She got to the top of the hill, wondered to a grass area on the side of the road and laid down. Her crew were following her pretty closely and quickly came over. They said that she was “having a rest” but it was obviously game over for her.

By this point the relay teams were starting to come through and so the crowds (made up of the teams and their supporters) were building up. One of the neat things that they do for this race is to give all the solo 100k runners a different colour race number with our names printed on it. This is so that everyone knows who the solo runners are on the course, the race organisers make sure that a big deal is made of the ultramarathron runners and they we got plenty of vocal support from the relay teams. This proved to be really cool, especially when the teams noticed that there was no crew following me along. The result being that I got loads of support, cold sponges and drinks given to me, and I got bumped to the top of the queue at the port-a-loo’s.

The last 30k’s of the race was a mix of really high “highs” and really low “lows” that came in quicker succession as time (and distance) worn on. I’m sure that if I had a crew I would have dropped out, the temptation to jump into a car and be finished would have been too much. A 100k ultramarathon is WAY harder than Ironman, I have a whole new level of respect for anyone who does 100 milers!

Its all starting to hurt

By the 80k mark I was most definitely not in a happy place! My feet hurt, my stomach wasn’t happy, my legs were sore and my armpits were getting chaff. On top of that I just was really tired. My eating plan had gone out the door and I was well into calorie deficit. Eventually I found myself lying down with my feet up on a fence just trying to take some of the pressure off my poor abused feet. Eventually I regained a sense of self and got back up and started to chug along again.

With 10k to go I was down to walking and was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Happily I ran (or rather walked) into a chap (Anthony) who was running the full relay by himself (155 k). He had some crew around him who were pacing him into the finish. They invited me to “jump on” and promised to get me to the finish. So the last 10 k went by with more running than walking, with the guys cracking lots of jokes and getting me and Anthony through to the finish.

In the end I finished the ultra without throwing up (or at least my stomach contents didn’t get any further than my mouth!), in a time of 14 hours 40 minutes and 39 seconds. I was the 34th finisher out of 50 starters, (although only 35 made it to the finish line – that’s right, close to 30% of the starters DNF’d). My heart rate monitor records calorie output as well and it clocked out at some point at 9,999 calories, so I had a big deficit to catch up.

Absolutely STUFFED

After my post race massage I hobbled down to my car and made my way back to the camp ground for a well earned hot shower. Dinner was a big fat greasy pizza (super supreme, yummy!) chased down with some sparkling grape juice followed closely by bed. I had the offer of a nice cold beer, but figured that would not be a very good idea as I was feeling kind of weird before tucking into my pizza.


I’ve learnt that an Ultramarathon (or at least a 100k ultramarathon) is way way harder than Ironman. I really thought that it would be easier than it proved to be.

I’ve learnt that having crew can be a huge advantage. One of the things I struggled with was carrying an extra 3kg plus at the start of every 25k. The end result being that my shoulders and neck got quite tight (in addition to having a world of hurt happening from my waist down).

I’ve also learnt that having good pacers makes a huge difference, and could quite easily be the difference between finishing and DNF’ing.

Lastly I’ve learnt that I have a heap more endurance that I thought I had. I know this because I didn’t have enough drink, I didn’t have enough food, but somehow I managed to push on. Next time things get tough I’ll have to remind myself of just how tough I can actually be.

So what’s next? I’m not sure, what I do know is that I’m going to take the time to fully recover from this weekends “fun”. I’m not planning on anymore races this year, although I do plan to keep up some running. I’m also going to swim more, particularly as we move into winter. We’ll just have to wait and se what next year brings.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Can I do it?

Today was a special day … primarily because I wasn’t at work!! Yay!!!

Instead I was out running on a beautiful fine summer day while all the other good people of our fair city were grimly fighting their way through Auckland’s nightmarish traffic to spend a day tied to a desk doing whatever it is that people do to keep the world of capitalism turning.

Its been horribly hot here lately, the temperature’s been nudging 30 degrees (Celsius), however with the humidity running at around 70% (apparently) the perceived temperature – whatever that means – has been closer to 41 degrees. So anyways I was hoping to get going as soon as possible to try and avoid the worst of the heat. In the end I was out the door by 8.30am (after getting the kids sorted for school and kindy).

The plan was to run 45k’s today if everything went well, but this was always going to depend at least partly on how hot it got. I was running laps of just under 14k’s so that I could stop at home to refuel at each lap (of course this would still mean only 2 “aid stations” for marathon, which on a hot day isn’t exactly ideal).

The purpose of today’s run was to (in this order):

- See if I still had the conditioning to potentially run an ultra (my training has been VERY minimal over Christmas / New Years).
- Test pacing
- Get some heart rate and calorie data
- Test some nutrition

In the end I ran 40k in just under 4 hours, unlike the ultra I didn’t take any walking breaks (my ultra plan is to run 25 minutes and walk 2 – 5 minutes, as well as walk EVERY hill, although there aren’t a lot of hills). It got too hot to push through for the last 5k. My pacing is still a little quick, although the walking will slow things down a bit. My average heart rate was 157 BPM (my heart rate picked up over the last 20k’s which I think is a reflection of the day getting hotter as much as anything, my aim is to get my pacing down so that my AHR is below 150 BPM.

I was going through approximately 1000 calories per 10k’s, so it doesn’t taken a genius to work out that over a 100k race I’m on track to use approximately 10,000 calories, the trick will be to work out how to get them in. One way or the other solid food is going to have to go in. I also tried out so new nutrition which seemed to work well (the flat Red Bull was sensational!). All of this raises another problem though …

I’m still lacking a support crew, things just aren’t working out on this front, as most people have used up their holiday’s and can’t make it, or have something else planned. Plan “B” (stashing supplies on the course) is less than ideal but I think workable (there are no aid stations!) – it may have to be!

Less than two weeks to go. The next few days I’ll be taking it easy to get in some good recovery, do a couple of swims etc. From then it will be a little bit of easy running then I’ll head on down to Taupo.

Wish me luck!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Its been quite a while between posts for a bunch of reasons. These reasons all boil down to a lack of material.

Essentially towards the end of last year I was quickly turning into a stressed out wreck primarily due to work (grrrr, stupid work). As a result I was getting really tired and my health (and training) started to suffer, this was quickly followed by evaporation of motivation. I had a low level virus that hung around for weeks and put a bit of a crimp on my training. By the time Christmas had come and gone so had my motivation, and I was real hanging out for a long awaited holiday.

I’ve now had that holiday, going into it I had just about decided that the 100k ULTRADREAM was going to be postponed for a year at least. However a after a trip to the Blue Lake (home of the Rotorua Half Ironman) and a very relaxed and lazy two weeks, he motivation is now coming back and I’m off and running again.

The break has given me a chance to really re-charge my batteries, I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but that’s exactly how I feel. So the plannings back on for the 100k ultra (21st February). I have a couple of key workouts planned ad I’m pretty confident that I’ll make it to the starting line in shape for a 100k’s of running.

My only real problem now is really I the logistics. I’m not entirely sure if the family are going to be able to make it down to Taupo with me in which case I’m going to be struggling to put together a support crew. The big problem is that there are no aid stations for this race meaning having a crew really is essential. The race itself is a 50k out and back done twice (for a total of 100k), so while it will be possible to leave some aid in a car and maybe buy some alone the way it certainly isn’t the preference.

So I really need to find some poor sap who’s willing to get up in time for the race start at 3.15am (yes AM) – although to be fair I can probably cope through to about 6am – and who doesn’t mind driving up and down the road between Taupo and Hatape for 10 – 12 hours… Any takers???