Tuesday, October 30, 2012

RunLog + Adidas Auckland Marathon


Tuesday - 10 mins slow, 20 mins fartlek, 10 mins slow

Wednesday - 35 mins slow

Thursday - 35 mins slow

Saturday - 35 mins slow
Whoops it turned into a tempo! I blame my new shoes - more later :)

Sunday - 50 mins slow

Adidas Auckland Marathon 2012:

We walked down to watch the finish of the marathon this morning and managed to see the first male finish (Rowan Walker, 2:24), and as we walked round a bit we saw the first female (Alexandra Williams, 2:41) enter the final straight, and saw the second and third women near the finish too - amazing to watch!

The winner Rowan Walker a few metres from the finish
I think deep inside I must really want to run a marathon one day, because I get really emotional seeing others finish - the first female, the second and third females, the guy struggling to finish, the two girlfriends running together, the middle-aged couple, the guy cheering his mate on encouragingly from the sideline, the club runners cheering their team mates on from the sideline, the sign below - there were so many instances that brought a tear to my eye.  Mmm, I'd better work on that aspect as well as my running!

It was a magic morning and Victoria Park filled up as more and more finishers rolled in:

One last shot as we left the park - I couldn't hang around too long as I had my own run to do!

However I did leave with fancy ideas of running the half-marathon next year...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

RunLog + Shoe Shopping


Tuesday - 10 mins slow, 4 x 2 mins fast with 1 min jog recoveries, 10 mins slow

Wednesday - 35 mins slow

Thursday - 30 mins slow
I felt tired today - still getting used to running three days in a row!

Saturday - 35 mins slow
It appears a rest day was all that was needed as today I felt good.

Sunday - 45 mins slow
This is a cut-back week as I start a new cycle, so a 'short' long run today.  It was raining most of the day (gee, did you watch the washout'/men's triathlon?!) but I managed to find a relatively dry spell to head out the door.

For the first time I ran down the bush track beside the Bullock Track to Western Springs, but halfway through I got a bit scared all on my lonesome so I dashed through it as quickly as I could!  It was such a wet day that I saw only three people at Western Springs - which is a never - along with one crazy Pukeko that attacked me twice because I must have ran close to it's nest or something!

And I'm proud to say I ran all the way up Chinaman's Hill again - it's starting to get easier!

Shoe Shopping

I visited Athlete's Foot in St Lukes today - the first stop in my shoe shopping adventures.  After a few moments staring blankly at the wall of women's running shoes I was approached by a very nice and helpful staff member.

First he measured the length and width of each foot, then I stood on the footprint machine. The results showed that I was evenly balanced on each foot (50/50) and had neutral stance with a tendency to place more weight on my heels.  The R foot showed very slight supination which isn't enough to worry about.  Walking across the footpad with each foot individually, showed I had a normal trackline from my heel to big toe.  For someone who is impressed by my body's asymmetry, I am totally impressed by the symmetry of my feet!

I wore my current Adidas Response shoes into store because it is apparently good to look at the wear and tear on the tread for any pattern, and the sales assistant did do this.  Luckily for him I had them cleaned ;).  He selected three pairs of neutral shoes that he thought were most suitable for my feet - Adidas Supernova, Mizuno Wave Something-or-other (Riders?), and Ascis Gel Nimbus 14.

I first tried the Supernovas as Adidas was my current brand.  They seem more streamlined and the first thing I noticed when walking in them was the positive toe-off compared to my current pair, although they are worn out so that probably doesn't mean much.  They're a nice looking shoe and I'm sure they would be fine for me.  They were the cheapest at $220.

The Mizuno's were very similar but they felt sleeker and less cumbersome overall, with a slightly smaller fit. I'm sure these would work too - however they are a fraction more expensive than the Supernova at $240 and I see no convincing factor to switch brands.

The Asics Gel Nimbus 14 were another breed of shoe altogether.  I loved the colour, but apparently you should never buy shoes on colour ;)  They were very cushioned compared to the others - lots of padding around the heel, and the soles were higher and actually felt spongy, like I was on springs.  They did look more cumbersome in comparison to the others, but were still a good looking shoe.  They are a departure from what I am used to and are more expensive at $280.

Athlete's Foot have impressed so far with their service and professionalism.  My only critique would be that there are not a lot of styles to choose from and you are presented with a choice of three - although all three felt pretty good, I'd personally prefer more of a selection.

In store my first choice was veering towards the boing-y Ascis, but after some thought I think I prefer the more natural Supernovas or the Mizuno's.  That could change.  The store does have a return policy if the shoes they recommend end up giving aches and pains and blisters, so I am sure my money would not go to waste.  Still, I want to visit some other stores before I make my decision - Shoe Clinic Ponsonby could be next!

In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to watching the finish of the Adidas Auckland Marathon on Sunday.  Good luck to anyone reading who is participating - and have a great run!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

ITU World Triathlon Grand Final - Elite Women

Wow - I've just spent an amazing day downtown watching the elite women race in the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final!  New Zealand had four athletes out of a field of 42 in the final (Andrea Hewitt, Kate McIlroy, Debbie Tanner and Nicki Samuels), and Andrea placed seventh today, but third in the series overall.

Warning: I have a lot of photos...

Towards the end of the first lap of the 1.5km swim

The end of the first lap, and start of the second

See that wash in the left third - that's the group nearing the first yellow bouy

Andrea Hewitt (#3) exiting the swim, and right up there

Transition 1

Harrison (Fr) was first out of the transition (I think!)

Murua (ESP)
Debbie Tanner came off her bike at this point and it looked rather ouch-y
I didn't have the poor grace to take a photo of her on the ground!
Thankfully she managed to stay in the first bunch of riders

Kate McIlroy on the bike

The leading bunch coming into Britomart at the end of the first lap.
I think Kate's in front, and all four NZL'ers were in the leading bunch!

The leading bunch racing up Queen Street

Kate gained a lead around the 4th lap (of 8 laps on the bike)

You can see the extent of her lead here

So many famous names - it started to hit me how lucky we were to see these amazing athletes in action 

By the next lap the others had gained on Kate

Debbie Tanner (NZL)

Finally the run started

My fave shot of the day

Gwen Jorgenson (USA) came from way behind to join the leading bunch and was second today
- a gutsy run

That's Anne Haug (GER) sitting there in the middle of the bunch - the eventual winner today

You can never have too many running photos...

Lisa Norden (SWE) won the series overall - remember her amazing photo-finish at the Olympics?

My final photo of the day a couple of blocks from the finish
Haug (GER) had made her break and was several seconds ahead at this stage, and Jorgenson (USA) Riveros Dias (Chile) and Norden  (SWE) and Stimpson (GBR) placed in this order

Andrea and Kate got 7th and 8th respectively, and Debbie and Nicky were 28th and 29th - well done ladies, you made us proud! Such a great day, and amazing to see these world-class athletes up close. Just awesome.

PS: final results here

More Race Photos and A Niggly Knee

I received some photo's of last weekend's race from my Mum so here goes - you can never have too many photos!

Waiting patiently at the start - that's me in the red T-shirt

Starting my watch as I cross the start line

Off into the muddy nether nether.....

Interview with awaiting media at the finish
(otherwise known as: catching up with family)
I totally enjoyed that run, and can't wait for my next adventure!

Now - a couple of posts ago I mentioned that my knee was developing a wee niggle.  It never bothered me on the race day at all, which just goes to show how good trail running is for you!  It returned after my run in the concrete jungle yesterday, so I think it is time to take it seriously.  It is very slight, but is located on the anteromedial aspect of the knee, and appears after running rather than during.  I thought of a few reasons it could be happening:
  1. I'm (over)due for some new shoes
  2. The last 2 weeks I've increased to running 5 days a week instead of 4
  3. Running extra slow changes my form, and I spend longer on each leg with each step
  4. I've been running mainly on pavement - the most jarring surface on the planet apparently
  5. Maybe I'm overpronating slightly on the R, although when I glance down it doesn't look like my knee rolls inward any more than on the L side, but this leg is slightly shorter.
  6. Pavement camber - I know I tend to run with the road on the R side, and the pavement sloping down towards the road.  
  7. Not stretching enough, or not stretching correctly
  8. Joint deterioration - I am sure this is the same knee where I slammed my patella into a concrete floor ten years ago, and maybe time is taking it's toll too.
My solutions:
  1. New shoes - Monday is Labour Day and I'm going shopping!  I'm going to visit as many running shoe stores as I can, and will buy my shoes at the one that gives the best service.  I might even be inspired to write a review of each experience, so be on your guard retailers!
  2. Cut back to 4 days a week, maybe with 5 days on alternate weeks, and see how that goes.
  3. Continue to run slow, but try to concentrate on good running form.
  4. Run on softer surfaces wherever possible.  I could be running in the park and on grass verges a lot of the time but usually don't because it slows me down.
  5. There is not much I can do about my leg length discrepancy, but perhaps professional help will minimise any adverse affects it could be causing.
  6. Alternate which side of the pavement I run on to balance out the levels.
  7. Stretch religiously after each run, and learn more about stretching, appropriate stretches, etc.
  8. Try taking a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement for strong joint cartilage.
  9. If the knee niggle persists after these other changes, seek professional help - physio, podiatrist, chiropractor?
I'm hoping at least one of these solves the problem!  
What do you think - is there anything else I should be considering?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Race Report: Xterra Waihi Trail Challenge

Yesterday I raced in the Xterra Waihi Trail Challenge and it was fantastic!  I raced the short course which was 7.8km and still feel on a high a day later.

My parents are staying for the school holidays, and so we left a day early to show them some sights on the way to Waihi.  We drove around the Coromandel Peninsula stopping at a few beaches along the way:






Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach
I know, it's a tragic place isn't it?  We stayed the night in Whangamata, and drove the 1/2 hour to Waihi in the morning.  The race start was about 15 mins out of town at Dickey Flat, accessed from the Karangahake Gorge, and TotalSport provided excellent how-to-get-there instructions.  We parked in a field and headed over to pick up my race number and transponder about the same time as the Long Course participants set off.

The Trail Challenge has several options - I ran the Short Course, but there is also a Mid Course (13km), Long Course (19km), Marathon, and the Kaimai Killer Ultramarathon (60km) - something for everyone!

Oh yeah - I haven't mentioned that we have had relatively fine weather lately, but a band of rain decided to pass over the Karangahake area yesterday morning timed especially for the race.  Minor details like this don't stop intrepid runners though! It wasn't cold or anything, just on and off rain to add to the atmosphere.

Not sure what I am doing here, but look at that rain!
The starting lineup
That's me turning on my GPS, but I forgot to click start until well into the race
Happy so far!
First we ran up the gravel road a little way, then back down through a paddock to the first swing bridge across the river.  We had to walk across the swing bridge which led to a small queue - if you can make it to the swing bridge first you have an obvious advantage!  After a few minutes running alongside the river on a puddle-filled trail we reached the the second swing bridge.  This one was longer and had a limit of 5 persons, so there was a five-minute wait to cross.  As always the camaraderie amongst runners is fun, and the wait was enjoyable.  And it was at this point that I realised that I hadn't yet pushed the ready button on my GPS, I pushed pause instead as I was just standing in line, but forgot to push the actual start button until about 2 km into the race!

Soon we came to the first tunnel which was a lot of fun!  I spent the next 200m stumbling around in the dark over rocks and puddles in stolen flashes of torchlight from other runners, cursing the fact that I hadn't bought my own torch!  Thankfully I made it safely through to the other end, where the trail continued alongside the river.  Soon I reached familiar ground, as we had visited this area at Christmastime - here are a few shots I took back then which gives you an idea of the terrain - just imagine rain instead of sunshine ;)

More running beside the river until the steep flight of stairs up to the tunnels of the Windows Walk.  This area  is a remnant of the gold-mining days, and you can look out the 'windows' cut out of the cliff face straight down to the gorge below - but no time for that today! This tunnel was a lot less rough, but there is a railway track which will trip you up if you're not careful.  Soon after we descended to the drink station and turnaround point to retrace our route.

I felt pretty good the whole way, and overtook quite a few people.  The trail is narrow, so I ran up behind them and just said excuse me if I wanted to pass, and thank you when they did.  In the last third a girl settled in behind me and kept me on my toes - it was quite good actually as it stopped me from being lazy and walking!  We had the same pace and I am sure she was following my footprints exactly - I could hear the same sounds being repeated behind me as we ran over the wet trail, rocks and puddles - splat, splat, slosh, splat, splat tap, tap, stomp, splat, etc - it kept me amused for a while!  She passed me just before the last tunnel though.

Mmm - the last tunnel.....  I was starting to tire and stumbled around quite a lot in the dark.  There was less torchlight this time, and I held my arms out to feel the walls, trying not to think of what creepy-crawlies existed in the darkness!  Footwork was complete guesswork, and you had to be prepared for potentially stumbling into a rock or plunging into a puddle for every step.  This is quite hard on your back after a while, and good core muscles would have come in handy!

I made it though - but only just!  At the end of the tunnel the roof was slightly lowered, and as I stood up to run out and try and keep up with the woman exiting in front of me, I slammed my head into the rock and nearly knocked myself out.   I stumbled along for a minute wondering if I should stop, the woman ahead of me disappeared into the distance and there was no-one behind me to help.  I came right eventually and carried on, although the swinging of the swing bridge made me a bit dizzy this time!

After coming out of the bush it was a quick scoot across some paddocks, a ditch, and a couple of stiles to the finish.  I noticed DH with the camera at the end of this fenceline, and that gave me a little burst of energy to overtake the woman just behind me!

I'm glad he didn't get one of me crossing the last stile, as someone accidentally stood on my shoe heel and I nearly face planted.  I was running so fast ;) at the end that DH didn't manage to get to the finish line in time for that Very Important Shot.  I'm working on that major issue in our relationship.

Here I am after crossing the line in about 1 hour 23 mins, 19th out of 29 in my age group:

Finished - and still smiling!
That doesn't sound that great, but I don't think time or place counts for much in this race - unless you are first to each swing bridge there is going to be a lot of catching up to do.  For this race it is the experience that counts - and the experience was fantastic.  I loved every minute - except the one where I hit my head, and even then that was only because I thought I'd have to pull out!  I definitely want to run again next year and give the 13km mid-course a go - can't wait!

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