Monday, August 25, 2014

Goal Setting vs Injury

As I begin training for the Auckland half marathon this week, I am hoping that I can still reach my goal of a sub-2 time. I get really annoyed at the stupid injury that prevented me building a solid base over the winter months.  That would have been handy.

But instead of dwelling on that, I get out my trusty foam roller, and do another set of clams and bridges to keep my ITB happy.  And I try to think about how my first half felt kind of easy and how I know I can do so much better.  And as I run up my local hill that happens to be a similar grade/distance as the Harbour Bridge, I actually pretend it is.

When I'm really desperate, I thank goodness my injury even happened - after all, technically I am more biomechanically sound than before!

At the end of the day you can only do what you can do, and I'm definitely not giving up on my sub-2 goal. Lately I've built up my mileage to around the same level as this time last year.  I hope to run more kilometres in training this year - via longer long runs, and an extra day of easy running thrown in during the week. Last year I felt like longer speedwork intervals benefited me more than the short ones, and I also felt improvements with tempo runs so I'll make sure to include them regularly too.  As well as regular runs up my local "harbour bridge" :)

Let's see how I go!

Do you think I can do it - drop 11 minutes off my time from last year?
If you're a half-marathoner, do you have any special tips?
What's your favourite half marathon workout?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Race Report: Blackmores Xterra Dome Valley

"Oh, it's only 9 km"  I thought, as I looked at the new revised distance for this race, which had had a few last minute changes.   Famous last words.  I should know by now never to regard any trail race distance as easy, as the course usually ends up being 9 vertical kilometres or something to that effect!

Xterra Dome Valley was a good example.  It was the fourth event in the Blackmores Xterra series.  I haven't signed up for the full seven race series, instead choosing to participate in each event separately as I can fit them into my life.  I was out with injury for the first two, but managed to run the last event out at Woodhill Forest.

We awoke to a cold wet and windy morning, and I wasn't sure what to wear so took a couple of options.  In the end I wore my Icebreaker Rush Capris (warm when wet), and an Adidas t-shirt with an Icebreaker bodyfit top underneath, which is so old it is starting to fall apart - it was either that or the one with paint on it...!  Everything worked well as I was never cold, and never hot either - perfect!  I also wore my Lululemon earwarmers for a while, they've been quite a good investment this winter.  Luckily the wind wasn't a problem in the forest, and the rain eased off for our race.

The first stage of the race was uphill, as usual!  Up the gravel forestry road we ran, and straight away my legs felt like lead.  My breathing went through the roof and it wasn't long before I was walking.  I mostly walked, jogged a bit as I felt able, and eventually we got to the top where there was a very welcome downhill. Now that's my type of terrain!

After a few more sneaky seconds walking to recover from the climb, I noticed a course photographer let loose on the downhill  - yeeha!  This downhill stretch went on forever and I was starting to wonder if my legs would hold up towards the bottom.  I tried to concentrate on landing lightly and good form, whatever that is.  Splash, splash, splash through the ford at the bottom and then on to another uphill to the 4.5km turnaround point.

You get the idea - this race was up and down all the way!  This next long climb had quite a few runners coming down in the other direction by now.  I first saw Jody who was running a longer course and looking strong.  Then I saw Steven who was running the same distance as me and about 5 minutes ahead already! I reached the turnaround, but knew that only meant another long climb back the way we had come.  I was starting to think this rearranged course wasn't much fun as it was all on fairly boring gravel forestry road - but I didn't know what was yet to come!

Eventually around 6km we diverted into the forest and immediately hit mud, and the woman in front of me slid over in spectacular fashion.  Not that I needed any warning - the trail literally became a sea of mud scarred with the skidmarks of previous runners!  At this stage there was a definite advantage to those who had good trail shoes, and those who didn't quickly fell off the pace.  In my Inov8 Roclite 268 's I gained more confidence with every footstrike and soon was running along quite happily with a group of similar paced runners.

At one stage a woman in front of us slipped and slid halfway down a slope on her bum - backwards!  So funny and she was laughing the whole way.  We passed a waterfall, well I heard it but didn't see it as my focus was continually on the ground.  Once I stood in a deep patch of thick mud where I was relieved to see my shoe was still on when I pulled my foot out!

Then came The Climb.  About a kilometre long in total and much of it steep, like 45 degrees steep, and extremely muddy.  Part way up there was a rope to help you up, but it was so slippery from all the runners prior, that I opted for the other side where you could occasionally find some pine needles or sticks to stand on, and some tree branches to grab.  My hands were put to good use in the mud too!

Next up was - guess what, more mud running, and soon we popped out of the forest onto the gravel track again.  I recognised that this was close to the finish, so ran as fast as I could, overtaking whoever and whatever, until I realised we had to turn into forest again for one final mud fest before the finish:

Phew - so glad to be done!

I met Jody at the finish line, and you can read her report here.  Steven had a hot coffee waiting for me, having finished about 15 minutes ahead, but thought his shoes were a problem in the mud.  The group he was running with got ahead of him and he never saw them again!  Guess who's getting some trail shoes soon...

I didn't feel great about my performance on the day, so was surprised to read that I came in 5th in my age group.  But better still, I WAS ONLY FOUR AG PLACES BEHIND SAM WARRINER!!!  Now for the real facts: I was 20 minutes behind her and the race was less than 10km, but because that is probably the only time in my life I get to say such things I will do so in Full Caps hehe :)

The official numbers:
5/21 Masters Female (24%)
40/111 Overall Female (36%)
147/243 Overall Male/Female (60%)
0 Falls (thanks Inov8)
1 Nearly fell

OK, that's officially the muddiest run I've ever done!  Have you ever raced in mud and lived to tell the tale?  What shoes did you wear and how did they perform in the mud?

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?

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