Saturday, July 5, 2014

Race Report: Xterra Woodhill 14km Trail Run

Last weekend I ran in the third race of the Blackmores Xterra Trail Series, which was held in Woodhill Forest just west of Auckland.  I missed the first two races due to my niggling ITB, and even then I was a bit nervous about running this race which happened to be about twice as far as I've run recently. But my physiotherapist thought I would be fine, and sure enough I was.  Woodhill is a pine forest right out on the west coast so the ground is mainly sandy soil coated with pine needles - a nice low impact surface that suited me perfectly!

As you can see from the above picture there was also a few muddy patches - it's winter here and there was quite a lot of rain during the week.  My Inov8 Roclite's were brilliant - I could plough straight through the mud and puddles with no fear of slipping.  Being a Southland farm girl helps of course! 

 And you can tell by my dirty knees in this shot that I came a gutser at some stage.  You know the scenario - "what's he doing sitting down..." thud. faceplant.  All in one nanosecond.  I just know TotalSport design their courses to have a hidden-but-exposed tree root somewhere that manages to trip every second runner as they go past!

The course was beautiful in its own way, and the atmosphere inside the forest is like being in another world.  We ran on a mix of forestry roads and single track winding around and around, up and down - a course designed to disorientate!  Although the elevation profile showed a climb around the 5km mark, it was not steep, and it was over before I knew it.  There were lots of ups and downs, and even when it was flat there were ups and downs - like moguls - rather fun to run!

At the 5km drink station I looked down to see a dog on a leash with a race number on his back!  Hehe I haven't seen that before!  (Couldn't find anything in the results either...!)

A few weeks ago I bought some arm sleeves.  They have been a great investment for this time of year when you have that long sleeve/short sleeve dilemma.  This morning was ideal - I needed them for a 9:30 start in the shady forest, but took them off about halfway into the race and stuffed them in my front bungee pocket. Perfect.  How did I ever survive before arm sleeves?

This photo is toward the end where you wind your way around a creek to the finish.  I was walking a bit by this stage, and remember coming around the corner, seeing the photographer and telling myself to keep running for the camera!  Vanity running pure and simple.  The fact that I managed to keep running under photographic duress means I'm obviously lazy to consider walking in the first place, doesn't it?  Must try harder.

Talking of trying harder - if I had finished a mere 3 mins earlier I would have placed in the middle of my age group instead of well down the rankings.  Another reason not to walk!

The numbers:
14.4km forestry trail
Time: 1:38:39
30/43 in age group
255/333 overall
PS - never mind me - my superstar other half was 5th in his age group!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

50 Days of Winter Running and May Highlights

I'm participating in TempoFit's #50DaysofWinterRunning Challenge, so from 1 June to 20 July I will be posting a photo a day via Instagram about running related things.  Click the 50Days image in the sidebar to follow my Instagram if you're interested, and consider joining up yourself!

In the meantime, I've collected a few of my favourite links over the last month to share with you!

On 26 April the Routeburn Classic was held down in Fiordland.  I really want to run this one day, as an ex-local it has special significance to me.  Here is a race report from the winning female Sarah Douglas.

The 50th running of the Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon was on May 3.  I enjoyed reading  Rotorua Marathon by Numbers, and the Women's Line-up, and to hear that the winning female was 50 too - awesome!

This month Salomon released a limited edition collection of New Zealand running gear in conjunction with Anna Frost - check out her video here.  I really want the skirt!

Speaking of Anna Frost - it was great to see her back in top form again winning Transvulcania and breaking her 2012 record - amazing.  Lots of links here.

Meanwhile back in NZ, the 2014 Hillary Ultra video has been released - don't watch it or you'll want to run the whole thing!


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wish Granted

So I wanted a new ITB?  Well look I got one!

Our cat is really impressed and wants one too!
Last week my physio put on some K-tape to kind of take the pressure off my ITB.  I may be imagining it but the minute I stood up from the table I could feel a difference.  I'm sure all those clams and leg lifts have helped too though ;)

In fact I have evidence they have helped - last week at a running workshop I could stand on one leg with total stability - no wobbles!  Yay!  And it seems the inflammation around my knee has really subsided.  I hope I can run Shakespear next weekend.

In the meantime because I have no running shots, here are some more of our cat washing her super fluffy tummy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wanted: A New ITB

My knee has been niggling away for a while - managable, but there.  After my recent 5km race and a speedwork session 3 days later it all flared up, and I could feel tightness from my hip to my knee.  Boo hoo.

I have been visiting Dot and Wendy at Bodyneed, and they have prescribed me some exercises and foam rolling to do.  The problem is that my patella is being pulled laterally by a tight ITB and weak vastus medialis.  Also - apparently I have only been doing half clams so my glute medius is weak in the outer range of extension.  After 3 weeks things are improving a lot.  I've been for a few interval type runs and things feel a lot more stable.

My new-ish Mizuno Wave Rider's which only have around 250km on them are wearing poorly on the R forefoot, and my physio thinks this could be a catalyst.  Maybe they are a dud pair, as the R one bends sharply in the forefoot almost like it is cracked.

My old Mizuno's (same model with 500kms on them) are in much better nick so I'm currently running in them.

In the meantime I've been for a few family tramps out west.  On the most recent one we parked at the end of Log Race Road and headed down towards Karekare.

We headed south on the Mercer Loop Walk and Coman's Track to Karekare, then north again on Ahu Ahu Track.

The coastal tracks have some spectacular scenery and are now part of the Hillary Trail - definitely worth a visit!

Mercer Bay

The trouble is, that once you have run a few trails it becomes impossible to just walk them - my legs were itching to turnover faster!  Luckily the rest of my family were happy to jog along whenever we felt like it.  Buying your son new trail shoes certainly helps!  Although I did aggravate my knee a bit on those hills and had to ice it when I got home.

Te Ahua Point and the Tasman Sea

I was hoping things would be right enough to run Riverhead Xterra, but not to be.  I'm gutted, but in this for the long haul - and that means recovering properly, and hopefully running freely like a gazelle again soon!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cornwall Parkrun #92

Yesterday I ran my first ever Parkrun!  I think parkrun started in the UK, but is rapidly spreading throughout NZ.  It is a free weekly timed 5km race, totally run by volunteers and sponsors (in this case NZ Home Loans)

I thought a 5km race would be a good baseline to establish for future training - I haven't run a road race since 3 November 2013, and trail races are so variable it is hard to gauge exactly where your fitness is at!

My previous 5km PB was 28:39 at the Unitec 5km almost a year ago, so I wanted to beat that.  I haven't been feeling great running lately, but things are a lot better now autumn has arrived and the weather has cooled down, or maybe all that extra iron I've been trying to consume lately is starting to have an effect.

I have been happy with my recent speed sessions, and guesstimated that a 27:30 min 5km would be a reasonable goal.  My A goal was to break 27 mins (you never know!) and C goal was to break 28 mins.

I read somewhere that you should run the first third of a race conservative, build to goal pace for the second third, then run all out for the last third.  My plan was to start off at 5:30 pace, increase to 5:20, then run as fast as I could (hopefully 5:10 pace) the last third.  

As it turns out, I was spot on with my time goal and ran a PB - yay!

My pacing goal however, varied quite a lot from the plan, lol:

As you can see I started real slow, but I didn't realise this at the time.  My watch had switched back to the clock, and when I went to connect again it was still on HRM mode, so while I was fiddling around with my watch beeping away and feeling like a GPS Type A jerk,  it appears I was also jogging along like a tortoise, and I couldn't believe it when I finally connected and my pace was 7:15!  That sent me and my heart rate into a bit of a panic and it took me a while to settle down, around about the kiosk/1km mark.

I started to feel pretty good and enjoy the pace - after logging lots of long slow runs, 5K pace feels great - real running!  Soon we were running downhill, and then I realised after the turnaround the reverse was going to be happening.  I tried to take advantage of the downhill, but had to walk some of the uphill.  Once on the flat I started to feel strong again, but probably got a bit confident as I faded on the slight uphill towards the finish.  Once that was over I found the energy to sprint to the finish and overtake a final few.

My results:
87/136 runners
20/50 women
4/9 W45-49 
59% age graded

Overall I was happy with my result and it was what I expected.  Now I have a new number to beat!

I need to work on the start (ie warm up, be organised, concentrate!), and running uphill.  I have been avoiding hills lately so no surprise there.  A more consistent pace would be nice too - I'm a yo-yo compared to everyone else!

Cornwall Parkrun has such a relaxed and friendly atmosphere - at the briefing they take the time to welcome all visiting runners, international or national, and also first-timers like me.  The course is accurately measured and timed so if you run it occasionally is a great gauge of fitness.  There were runners of all levels, from beginning joggers to speedy club runners of which there were quite a few - like the 55-59 year old winner this weekend running a 17:45!  I hope to run one every now and then to measure my progress - and slash that PB of course!

Have you ever run Parkrun? Which one(s) in which country(ies)?
What is your 5km pace strategy?
Are you a running yo-yo, or a metronome when it comes to pace?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Three Exciting Things!

Exciting Thing #1:

I've never been featured on another blog before, but now I can say I have!  You may have noticed Cathryn from My Heart's Content blog doing a really interesting series called Running The World, where a runner is interviewed about the running scene in their particular country.  So far she has featured Myjka from the Czech Republic, Preeti from India, Grace and Holly from Singapore - and today she is featuring guess who from New Zealand!

Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand - running heaven 
Anyone who knows me knows that I can talk about running forever, so I was thrilled to be asked.  Click on over to her blog and have a read!

Exciting Thing #2:

I entered the Auckland Half Marathon in November.  Thanks all for your thoughtful comments helping me to decide. I decided I'm not ready to train for a marathon this year, and I really like the idea of trying to run a sub-2 half instead.  That means I need to knock about 11 minutes off my time, which doesn't sound huge until you look at the difference in pace:

2:10:22 = 6:10 pace
1:59:59 = 5:41 pace

I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but you never know.  What I do know is that I need to try a little harder, so this could be a good thing.

Exciting Thing #3:

I'm not the only one in my household running the half marathon - Steven is too!  He started running when I was training for it last year and back then we ran at a similar pace, now he is streaks ahead and leaves me in his dust.  At least he'll be waiting for me at the finish line!

However, I'm a bit sorry I won't be able to cheer him on like he did for me!
That's enough excitement for one day!
Any exciting news from your neck of the woods?
Have you entered the Auckland Marathon - half or full?
Where is your running heaven?

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?)

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