Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Help me, I only have 2 days to decide!

All year I have been stuck in a state of indecision about whether to enter the Auckland Half Marathon again this year, or enter the huhhum, Marathon.  This is the main reason I never posted any New Year resolutions or goals - because I couldn't decide!

This is where you come in - help me weight up the pros and cons of running whichever one you think I should enter!

Here's a glimpse of the chaos in my head at the moment:
At first I thought I would definitely enter the marathon, but I've had a bit of a tough time running lately and I'm veering towards the half - but am I just being a chicken?  I have only been running a couple of years and maybe the marathon would be a bit of a stretch for this 47 year old body (there I am being chicken again).  Maybe another year of running will build on my strength and endurance.  In some ways I would like to do the half again and rather than just run it to finish the distance like I did last year, I'd like to try and beat my time of 2:10 and maybe even run a sub-2.  I think I'd feel more confident going into a marathon having run a sub-2 half.  But I'd like to run a marathon before I am 50 so I haven't got long - there are only 2 Auckland marathons before that happens so I need to hurry up, stop procrastinating and being a chicken.  And if I happen to be injured one year that means only one Auckland marathon left...pressure...Actually the 'need to do a marathon before 50' isn't really important to me, I'd be happy doing one at 51 so ignore all that.  Goal eliminated.  Decision still not made though...

See what I mean?  Entries open on April 10, and the half sells out quickly so I need to decide soon!  Please help - all comments and advice below will be duly considered!

Bonus Post - March Running Roundup:

For a while I've been thinking of doing a monthly round-up of exciting running things that have happened - so here goes, albeit a little late for March!

Last month the Vibram Tarawera Ultra Marathon was held - it's first year on the Ultra Trail World Tour - as Cyclone Luci rained down upon the country.   The course was shortened as a result, but that doesn't stop the excitement:
  • Women's winner Jo Johanson came out of nowhere to win this year's event and make Kiwi's proud, here is her post race interview with Bryan Powell.
  • Third place-getter Dawn Tuffery's race report's are always a good read, complete with her cartoons.  Is she really smiling in every shot?!
  • Men's winner Sage Canaday's race report is an interesting read, and nice to know even elites can have headlamps fail!  His irunfar interviews, pre and post-race, are also great viewing.
  • Kiwi Vajin Armstrong placed third and here are his thoughts pre race.
  • One day Vera  from SuperGenericGirl will post her report ;), but she's been so busy as the new editor of New Zealand Trail Runner magazine I can forgive her for any delays!  Make sure you pick up your copy, it's a good read, enclosed in this month's Wilderness magazine, and join the Facebook page while you're at it.
  • Update: Vera must have heard me typing that because she has just posted - a must read!
Another exciting event was the inaugural event of The Hillary.  The Hillary Trail is a 4-5 day walking trail the length of the Waitakere Ranges west of Auckland - but who wants to walk when you can run!  With 80km, 34km and 16km events there is something for all, and you can get an idea of the race with this teaser video.
  • Jo Johanson won this ultra too!  It will be exciting to follow this talented lady's ultra career in the future.  Here is second place getter Heather Davidson's race report.
  • Check out  Jody's race report on the 16km event with some amazing photos - well done my friend!
That's just a few of the exciting things from last month on my radar.  Enjoy the links!

(But only after you have left your comment helping me to decide, right  - half or full?)


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Running Orokawa Bay

This weekend I ran an awesome track to Orokawa Bay with Steven.  We attended a wedding in the western Bay of Plenty on Saturday, and the next day we couldn't resist a sunrise run along the coast.  We parked at the northern end of Waihi Beach and started running:


After some brisk winding uphill around the coast, we soon found ourselves admiring the views south to Waihi Beach from where we began:


And north to beautiful and untouched Orokawa Bay:


Steven ran to the end while I rested did some gait analysis in the sand: 


I think I have a cross-over gait...

 The track was awesome, although a couple of parts were a bit hairy scary - notice how I am clinging to the right side and not the left?!


But my Roclite 268's stopped me from slipping into the Pacific Ocean.  I can tell we're going to have lots of adventures together in the future!


I was disappointed that SportWatch failed to connect to a satellite though.  Half the fun for me is seeing a new route mapped out with all its elevation and pace changes.  Oh well - first world problem!

Did you explore anywhere new this weekend?
Which do you prefer - sandy beach or rocky cliff top?
Have you been to Orokawa Bay?


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Race Report - The Dual Off Road Half Marathon

Last weekend I ran in the Dual - it was an awesome day out running around a couple of islands in the Hauraki Gulf.  I ran the 21km event which took you through tons of differing terrain and it was really challenging!

There wasn't much chance to look at those views!
The morning is so relaxing when races start at 11am - no early alarms and the usual morning routine applies.  I turned up to the ferry terminal around 8:30 for the 9:00 sailing over to Motutapu Island, and it wasn't long until we boarded, landing at Home Bay about half an hour later.


Home Bay is a beautiful setting and it was a short walk from the wharf around to event base.  One of the mountain bike races was about to start and I noticed the toilet queue was short, so I took advantage of this. Shortly afterwards the queue was really long so I'm glad I did!  I hung around the start area and visited the stands - ate some watermelon at Partner's Life, booked a massage at Bodyneed, watched the first triathlete's navigate T2, dropped off my gear bag, then finally watched the triathlon winners come in just before our 21km race briefing.

After the race briefing we headed towards the start line, where I noticed a short toilet queue at the edge of the camping ground so I joined it.  By the time the starting horn went off I was first in the queue and decided it was worth waiting and starting the race a couple of minutes late.  I don't think I will do this again as it is amazing how much this puts you behind!  I caught up to the tail-enders and wound my way up through the field, trying not to overdo it and begin too fast.  The first portion of the race was uphill, and I ran most of it until near the top where it got steeper.

Which bring us to the elevation profile of this course, but first some geography for those not familiar with my city and surrounds:

Hauraki Gulf with Rangitoto Island and Motutapu Island (they are linked by a short causeway)
21km course marked in blue, the start/finish is in Home Bay (top right)

At the first descent I took off in an effort to gain some ground, but the gravel road but soon turned into a paddock that was pitted with potholes.  I tried to go as fast as I could without rolling an ankle - a couple of times it was close but I reached Rangitoto in one piece!  

Rangitoto is actually a volcano formed by an eruption 600 years ago and the island is comprised of lava fields with regenerating forest.  Upon crossing the causeway to Rangitoto it was noticeably hotter as the black rock heats up in the sun.


I struggled here, 5km into the race!  Even though the incline was slight to begin with my heart rate shot up at the slightest exertion.  I ran/walked and managed to keep most of the group in sight.  
Struggle Street

As we ascended and the trail got steeper it became a walk for most of us, which made it easier for me to keep in touch, and I passed a few people who looked like they had started too fast - well, faster than me anyway!

Most of the trail so far was rocky 4WD track, but near the top of the volcano we veered off into a narrow bush trail that I never knew existed.  We were winding, climbing, descending - over tree roots and plush leaf-laden forest floor one minute, then over rocks and open lava fields the next.  It was slow going, and if it weren't for the other runners I would have wondered if I was still on course!


I tripped several times here.  In the contrasty light of the bush it was difficult to see rocks and roots, plus I was probably following too close behind the runner in front of me as I was itching for an opportunity to pass.  The chance never arose, and I didn't push it anyway as I appeared to be stuck behind quite a queue.  After an age of slow running we finally came out into the open where my impatience got the better of me and I hightailed it down to Rangitoto wharf.  I passed several runners on this downhill, but none passed me - net gain!

The easy part!
The next stage was around the Rangitoto coast towards the causeway.  This was one of the rockiest and most technical trails I have run on - and had injury written all over it.  I essentially I ran 10 steps/walked 10 steps the whole way!  I just found it too hard to concentrate on more than that at one time, but even this way I was slowly gaining on people and overtaking them.  I guess I passed 20 runners along this stage, unfortunately two of them were taking it easy because they had turned their ankle :(

The volunteers out on the course were plenty - and were so supportive!  I had to giggle at a couple though - when the girl in front of me stopped and asked how much further it was to go - they replied "about 5 mins more of this knarly track that you're on, and then another 3km to finish".  I looked at my watch which said we were only about 13km into the race, but she had ran ahead and didn't hear me, and the volunteer gave me a sneaky wink!  Moral of the story - never believe a volunteer when it comes to distance!

At Islington Bay the trail became easier and you could actually run - yeeha!  I settled into a groove and tried to make the most of this flat section before the causeway, because after that was a loooong uphill.

The final uphill goes on forever - a gradual 2.5km climb to the trig station and I'm pleased to say I ran some of this!  Of course I chose to run the gentler portions, sometimes this meant run 30 secs/walk 30secs, but it is all progress and I had no-one pass me.  I made sure the walk portions were power-walking and even this allowed me to gain 3 places further up the field.  You can see a definite pattern here - my goal in the later stages of a race is clearly to pass people!


At the trig station the end was in sight, and I tried to make the most of the downhills.  By now we were running on 4WD track in paddocks, and parts of that were a sheep track, or quite rutted, so you still had to be careful with your footing.


Finally the last descent was upon us.  I love final descents!  I don't know where I got my energy from but I passed lots of people and two mountain bikers!  Closer to the finish I caught a glimpse of yellow t-shirt on my rear shoulder and I thought "no way" so I sped up and sprinted to the finish with this guy on my shoulder the last 100m.  I'm not sure where that energy came from either!

Before the race I checked out last year's results, and the middle finisher's time always gives me an indication of how long I'll take - it was about 3 hours.  I was pretty close at 2:58!  Overall I felt quite happy with my performance, but the midfield was slightly ahead of me today as I was 28/52 in my age group, and 92/165 overall women - room for improvement.  Next year - I will be back!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I must be a runner because...

Have you ever had one of those days where you are continually reminded of something, where things uncannily pop out of the blue, and it just doesn't want to go away?  Well yesterday I was continually was reminded that I was a runner.

When I woke up I had a message reminding me to pick up my race number for The Dual after work:


But first some shopping was in order.  At the shopping centre we happened to park next to a car with the number plate RUNN3R - can you believe that?  All I knew is that I liked that person.  Unfortunately this running blogger had no camera to capture this significant event!

I was supposed to be shopping for shoes to wear to a wedding, but the only ones that caught my eye were running shoes - sigh, not the best match for my dress.

We proceeded to race registration, where I picked up my number.  I purchased a Marmot tank top which was calling my name, and among the goodies in the race bag was a Total Sport flyer - with my running quote on the back!

Proof they use quotes from real people!

Back home I flicked through an Outdoor Fitness magazine, and tried their quiz on how to find your perfect match sporting-wise:


It was trail running!
But I kinda knew that ;)

And trail running is exactly what I am doing tomorrow  - which may explain why I am so excited and  have running continually on the mind.  In the morning I'll be boarding the ferry out to some islands in the gulf for a half marathon up, down and around them!

Plus it is Friday night and I'm going to bed early - now that is a sure sign of a runner!




Monday, March 17, 2014

Sometimes you can't do it all

There hasn't been much to report lately about my running because I haven't been doing that much.  And what I have been doing felt like real hard work, and disillusioned would be a good word to describe how I felt about that.


I guess the reason is that I have had a lot on lately.  At work I have been superbusy, quite literally working at breakneck pace with long hours - that's the fashion industry for you.  I have also been teaching sewing at night school, as well as making a friend's wedding dress.  I'm not complaining about any of this, but it does zap energy from other sources - and that source is running.  And housework.  And I guess, because of my absence here, that includes blog writing too.

The worst part was missing one of my favourite races of the year, the Coastal Challenge.  I really wanted to do the 11km and beat my time from last year.  Now that made me cranky!

The fact is, sometimes life gets in the way of running.  Sometimes running comes further down the list of things to do.  Sometimes as much as you want to, you can't do it all.

But you can still do a lot!  The Dual is this weekend and I'm all signed up and getting excited about another adventure.  The 21km event (there are other distances too) runs up, down and around Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands out in the Gulf.  Just to give you an idea, here's Rangitoto, Motutapu lies just behind:


As long as I don't miss my ferry it should be fun!  In my current state I guess I'll be taking it easy (except on my beloved downhills :) but it will be good to establish a base time to beat next year.

Happy running!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Highlight of My Weekend

I went to Bivouac and found something I'd been wanting for ages:


 They come in a box:


And they're my size!


I've oogled Inov8's shoes at every Total Sport event I've been to, but never seemed to have the time to try them on.  And I'd rather not buy my shoes online.  So when I discovered that Bivouac were now selling the whole range I headed straight downtown and snapped up some RocLite 268's.

I'll be wearing these on the Coastal Challenge in two weeks, so took them out for a long run to make sure they worked for me.  I am happy to report that they felt great and gave me no problems - I love the grip, the laces that stay tied, and the roomy as toe box - hopefully this means no more bruised toenails*.

There is something far more exciting about buying trail shoes than road shoes don't you think?  These shoes are going to take me to places and fuel experiences that I'll never forget, unlike the mostly unmemorable pavement pounding that my road shoes do.  I'm looking forward to lots of exciting adventures in these!

Do you get excited when you invest in new running shoes too?  Yip
How many pairs do you have in rotation?  3 road, 2 trail

*update for those interested - I think it's going to stay put!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

One Disadvantage of Running

I have officially entered the realms of hard-core trail runners with my latest accessory, the to-die-for must have in the trendiest shade of bilirubin for running fashion victims around the world.  You guessed it, a black toenail.


I felt nothing during the Tussock Traverse 26km run, it felt a little bruised a couple of days later, and when I saw a tinge of purple peeking out from under my toenail polish, I removed it to reveal this shiner.  Jealous, no?

What to do?  My internet research (btw don't google black toenail images...) says either leave things to nature, or lance it.  I feel mine is bad enough that the toenail will eventually fall off, so in a vain effort to prevent this I had a stiff Chardonnay and lanced it with a sterilised needle.  This only involved 2mm of poking from the top end and I didn't feel a thing, but lots of serum flowed out and relieved the pressure.  I'll keep you updated ;)

Googling also reveals that black toenails are quite common among long distance runners, especially trail runners.  Here are some of the causes so you don't get one too.  After all, I don't want any of you turning up to the party with the same shade on your toenails ;)

  • Close fitting toe-box.  In your long distance/trail shoes allow plenty of room in the toe box for forward slipping when running downhill, and for swelling of the feet in the heat and over long distances.  Some people recommend buying a shoe 1/2 a size larger, I'm not sure I agree with this as it creates other issues (heel fit, flex , etc), I think buying a shoe that encompasses your toe spread is key.  I wore my Mizuno Wave Riders which are quite close in the toe box, although I have never had issues with them before.  My mission now is to seek out some dedicated trail shoes.
  • Tying laces too loosely.  Use a lacing technique to prevent forward slide on the downhills.  Again this is related to room in the toe box of your shoe, but I will experiment with this.
  • Untrimmed toenails.  Keep them short!  (I cut mine especially for the race a couple of days before.)  
More on topic links I found:

http://runnersconnect.net/running-injury-prevention/toenail-injury-from-running/
http://www.lazyrunner.com/black-toenails

OK, that's probably enough.....
How was your weekend?
Have you ever had a black toenail?
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