Monday, September 26, 2011

A week goes by

A week goes by so quickly ... I find it hard to believe that September is nearly finished and before I know it, the year will be over. I have heard and read similar words time and time again. I am sure I say or think the same thing each year. I have to admit that it was a full week and there were times that I felt I wouldn't make it. That wasn't running related ... no, the running was good, that went well.

Last week, I did few recovery runs even though I felt like I should be doing more. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday were all 10k runs. The last 2 runs were from home out to the Story Bridge and back. Tuesday was something special for me because it was with my 2 friends Tesso and Clairie. It felt like such a long time that we ran together and it was something we used to do a lot a few years ago.

Saturday was about 22K with a 5k pace session, no stopping, hitting each K 3:42, 3:53, 3:53, 3:56, 3:48. I never thought I would have been able to do this before (run a string of sub 4 min K's). Even a month ago I couldn't do this ... I started with the group, did my own thing then had a chat on the way back and ran alongside my training partner at the end, so I felt like it was 3 runs in one (a real bonus).

Sunday was down along the Gold Coast for a social 10k followed by cooling off in the surf. One of the little things in life :)

So how do I feel?

My running feels a bit easy at the moment. I think it is the contrast with the rest of my life. I have a strong desire to be a good supportive person to all my friends. This seems to be a theme. I think it might be about trying to make up for my absense from being so caught up in the Gold Coast marathon quest or even longer than this. Actually it could also be more that I am inspired to be a better friend or even just to be a friend in the first place.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Stop Sydney

Pre-race Sydney Half Marathon was filled with anxiety, not that it is something new, but I certainly wanted to get the race done and achieve a time of around 1:26 to confirm to myself how I am running at the moment. It is all fine and good to know you are running well, but there is nothing like the proof under race conditions. For this race, I wanted to run hard without over doing it. Last thing I wanted was a blow out from going to hard and for my confidence to be dented.

The race strategy was to ensure I didn’t go out too hard (I said that already, didn't I?). It isn’t about pace as much as feel. I have a belief that races are determined in the early stages. That is, the start is the most important part. I have hit around 5k in the past and not had the capacity to hold pace. Once I start to slow down, it takes some much precious time to get the speed back.

On the day before the race, I jogged from my hotel to the start area, so I knew how to get there, how long it would take me and therefore what time to wake up, leave the hotel and arrive ready to race without losing any energy worrying that I was late. I did all this to be relaxed on arrival.

Race Day

5:30 I left the hotel, plugged in the ipod and enjoyed the easy 10 min to the bridge. Along the bridge I did some pseudo strides. I love the feeling pre-race when there are thousands of runners milling around. I had the music pumping and I floated around with all those people but also in my own little world. I really love that feeling! The ipod announced “low battery”, it was fully charged but I decided to put it away. When racing I listen to my breathing anyway.

With perfect timing, I made my way to the start with 10 minutes to go and stood alongside some Brisbane runners that I recognised.

I had a good position up front and a nice clean start which settled quickly up the incline holding a pace not too far over 4 min/K (that’s 6:26 per mile Espeed). As I started the second K, I moved past the 90 min pacers that had taken off quickly and was comfortably passing the "bolters". I soon found myself mid-way between the 80 min and 90 min groups. After the 2nd K, I was on top of the bridge and picked up speed with the next 2 K’s around 3:50 min/K (6:11 per mile in US currency). It was a faster start than I had expected, but comfortable and staying true to feel and awareness of pace. Especially on such a hilly course, I have found that running by watch alone doesn’t work for me. The Garmin was reading way off the mile markers but it didn’t worry me much.

Holding form for the next 4 k’s as the course wound around, up and down, I had no idea where I was. Runners were now well spread out and most of the group around me were there for the remainder of the day. We didn’t work off each other much although it does help me to know that I was keeping my place and not dropping back or being overtaken. At the 8K mark I was around 31:50ish and I could calculate that 8x4min was 32 so I was just under 4 min/K. I was drinking water every opportunity to cater for the hot day. Once or twice I had some sports drink being careful not to spill it much and have the annoying stickyness.

10 K went by a little over 40 min after a climb out of the gardens. I didn’t see the mile marker which I figure was hidden somewhere in the drink station.

Phase 2 of the race was the next 7 K’s where my Garmin told me I had eased to 4:20’s. I tried not to worry too much and concentrated on working through the race. In my mind there are 3 stages, the start, middle of the run and the last K’s home. My middle phase can improve. It wasn’t that I had backed off, perhaps the heart rate was a little lower. I just try to hold a pace that doesn’t red line me and I think I was close to this.

I targeted the 17K mark as the point to drive it home. There was a decent rise around this distance and it didn’t help. However, my pace picked up as I counted down the K’s one at a time, giving it all I had. It was going to hurt, but pain is temporary and I must finish proud of my effort. With 4 K to go, I added 4min for each of the last K’s and then added those 16 min to my watch. A finish around 1:26 was what I calculated. Getting into 1:25 territory was more than I could handle but I was going to be close. Pace was back to the 4 min/K’s and the final one perhaps 3:50 ish.

I was pleased to cross with 1:26:14 on my watch and this was confirmed at 1:26:13.

Mission Accomplished!

The first feeling was relief. It took me quite some time, perhaps 20 minutes before I took in the wave of pleasure and sense of achievement. I made sure I told Clairie first and that she heard it from me. I love her messages of support in the morning and how I can hear her smiling and sharing the moment at the end.

(McMillan Calculator gives me a 3:01:50 marathon equivalent … getting close now)

Next goals are to recover and run some more 4:00 min/K or better K’s training before Melbourne Half in 3 weeks. This will give me some small improvements. A flatter and cooler course should help me run quicker. Doing the right things gives me hope and belief a 1:24 time is possible. That’s what I want next.

Looking up my time I found I was 5th in my age group … I checked again today and now I’m 6th. Not bad out of nearly 400. This has my best race and PB/PR by about 3 min. It feels so good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Toasty on Tour

Tour Dates - 2011

Sydney Half Marathon - September 18
Melbourne Half Marathon - October 9
Port Douglas Half Marathon - November 12
Kurrawa - December 11

A new phase of running starts soon, with my first race post GC Marathon being the Sydney Half. From here on in, I'll revert back to non-social training on my own.

Out comes the book ...

turn to page 174

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Why do I run? ... It sounds like a simple question but it is one that has so many answers for me.


There is nothing like being in the zone, full stride, controlled breathing and being at my best. It doesn't always go that way. Those are the the times I am investing in my next great run. For me, today, there is alot invested and I'm primed to go. I'll open my next campaign at the end of this week in the Sydney half.

Also, there is nothing like seeing a smile or a tear from team mates.

I feel the pain and share the joy.

When I run, the world around me stops ... my fears, the constant struggle of life, the expectations of others ... quite simplying there is nothing else to think about except to breath and hold the form through each stride. Nothing else seems to matter ...

I know some people share this feeling with me. They know what I know and it is something so very special to share.

I copied this clip from E-Speed , it inspires me and and reminds me of what we share.