Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Speight's West Coaster 6k Adventure Run

Today I ran the Speight's West Coaster adventure run organised by TotalSport, and it was so much fun!  Here I am at the race briefing for the 6k event, paying 100% attention to all important announcements:

We ran straight out to the beach and the first couple of k's were on sand - talk about tough on the legs!  S&L followed the walkers for a while and did some official photograhy:

The event was based at Bethell's Beach, one of the windswept west coast beaches around Auckland with dark ironsand.  In complete contrast, all the east coast beaches are white sand within the gentle seas of the Hauraki Gulf - you'll see the difference when I do the Coastal Challenge in February!

Within minutes our feet were soaking, as we had to cross this stream:

We climbed up that sand dune in the distance and down it again to another beach.  Running down was fun - there was no risk of hurting yourself so I just went for it and passed several runners there!  My legs were getting tired by the end of the second beach but I soldiered on, knowing The Big Ascent was coming up and I could walk that if necessary without losing too much ground.


Basically we climbed that hill in the distance, then ran back around the hills in the direction we had come.  I walked most of the steep bits, along with most of the runners around me.  Once I realised we were on the descent I made the most of it and passed more runners - I am much better at downhills!  You have to be quite sure-footed though as the trail was rough in parts.  Once I stood on the end of a leaf of flax overhanging the path, which made a nice little tripwire for my other foot and I nearly fell!

We descended around the hill and once on the flat came to the drink station.  Just when you think it is all flat to the finish, TotalSport throw in a few surprises - we ran under the one-lane bridge and in the shallow river for a bit, then along a track and through some bush.  Exiting the bush I sighed in disbelief and someone behind me said "Bloody hell!" as we looked ahead at the massive sand dune that lay before us.  I walked/ran/staggered across half a kilometre of soft sand and it was a relief to finally reach the forest on the other side!

The forest trail was nice, although I walked some of the hills.  Soon you could hear the finish line loudspeaker in the distance and that egged me on, and so did some of the faster runners coming through from the longer distance events.  The last few hundred metres were downhill and I went for it.  There was a guy behind me and I was determined he would not pass me - I risked life and limb on some slippery gravel and I'm pleased to say he didn't get past!

Still puffing!
My finish time was 46:42, which was 4/10 in my age group, and 16/44 overall female - I'm happy being around the top third.  I came in a bit earlier than my 'official photographer' expected and he was caught sleeping on the job, so this is my official finish photo a few minutes later:

I snapped one of someone else finishing so you can appreciate the downhill  forest track as much as I did.  If this is you finishing, congratulations!

I'm glad I wore my old shoes!

Speight's were sponsors of the event and were giving away free beer - it was sunny, I was thirsty, how could I not partake even though it was 11:30 in the morning?!

There were also barbequed sausages, and a few sponsor products you could help yourself to - I took some Vitasport electrolyte drink sachets, Jack Links beef jerky,  VO2Max and Fitness Life magazines.  Inov8 were there with their shoes, and Bodyneed was there giving sports massages to the needy - thanks to all the sponsors for helping the event be so great!

Later we walked down to the beach for more photo opportunites.  This was the 'starting chute' for my race - between a couple of sand dunes:

Surf lifesavers on duty

Looking towards the southern end of Bethells Beach

L said he was very proud of his Mum, and he wants to give it a go next year - yay!

I definitely want to give the 13km race a go next year - it has a lot more participants, plus it will be fun to explore some new territory!

Have you done a trail run at the beach before?
If so, tell me about it!  And do you have any tips for running on sand?  I found it really hard - maybe that is just the excuse I need to buy some trail shoes.....

Monday, November 19, 2012

RunLog + Next Trail Run

Monday - rest

Tuesday - 10 mins slow, 5 x 2 mins fast with 2 min jog recoveries, 10 mins slow/walking uphill
A thunderstorm developed right over top of us as soon as I got home from work and was getting ready for my run.  I couldn't wait around for too long as I had night classes, so rather than abandon my run altogether, I took the risk and headed towards the west where there was some blue sky.  As soon as I got down the road I questioned my decision as I was scattered with hail, but shortly after the blue sky revealed itself and the storm disappeared off into the distance.
Today my 'fast' pace was anything from 5:15 to 5:45 pace.  Forget what I said the other day about my pace becoming more consistent - it's all over the place!  I planned on 5:45, but I think it takes my SportWatch about 30 secs to register the change, and when it finally did it showed 5:15, so I slowed down, and you get the idea of my yo-yo run.  
I don't think my knee liked the speedwork as it flared up a bit, although it had been niggling me at work all afternoon.  After doing my clam exercises later in the evening it magically felt a lot better, so maybe my gluteus medius just needed a reminder to stop slacking and get back to work!

Wednesday - 35 mins slow

Thursday - 35 mins slow
Lead Leg Syndrome today :(
I also had my second physio appointment.  He gave my knee joint a workout and did some acupuncture as well.  I have an extra exercise to do for my hamstring that is quite hard - bridges with one leg raised and arms across the chest, so you can't cheat and use your arms to help!
When I was walking home my knee felt so great I felt like skipping, in fact I thought about turning around, going back and demanding to get that done to all my joints!
He also encouraged me to do some cycling.  Unfortunately I don't own a bike or have access to one, but luckily I do have a one-month free membership at Just Workout that I received in the race pack for the Devonport Classic, so I will put that to use.  It is a shame I'm so busy at the moment with work and night classes - not to mention running, exercises and physio appointments - as I would have liked to maximise the use of the month and take some of their Yoga and Pilates classes as well.  Still, I consider myself lucky to have it at all!

Friday - rest

Saturday - 35 mins slow
If I had Lead Leg Syndrome on Thursday, today it was Light Leg Syndrome!  I was running along at what felt like my normal pace, and was surprised to look down and realise I was nipping along at about 5:30.  I slowed a bit, but my legs just wanted to speed up so I let them.  I'll probably pay for it on my long run tomorrow, but sometimes I just want to run free, zip along at a groovy pace, and feel the wind in my hair.
Today I bought a foam roller from Rebel Sport.  It is a shorter 46cm one because that is all they had, but I am sure it will do.  Another thing I did today that my physiotherapist will be immensely proud of me for, is going to the gym and cycling for half an hour.  Apart from one Jazzercise session in 1984 I've never been to a gym, so I had to ask lots of embarrassing newbie questions, but now I know what a spin bike and an elliptical is.  I spent 30 mins on the spin bike - after 2 mins I was bored out of my tree, but luckily I had the latest issue of Runner's World in my bag so I pulled it out and read it while spinning away.  Next Thursday the guy is going to show me the ropes and do a plan for runner types like me, because he thinks I should make the most of my month's free membership and not just use one bike!

Sunday - 55 mins slow
Went for a nice easy run around Jagger's Bush, Seddon Fields, and Western Springs, and felt OK but not brilliant.
The BIG news is that I never even thought about my knee as there were no niggles, it feels more stable and much stronger - and even my exercises are becoming easy to do (except those new hamstring ones).

Next Trail Run:


A while back I signed up for the Speight's West Coaster which is next Saturday!  This is a coastal trail run out on the west coast of Auckland at Bethell's Beach.  It looks to be another fun TotalSport event with distance options for everyone - I'm running the shortest one which is only 6km, but never fear - it has a 212m climb up those hills in the background:


After viewing the map and elevation profile I'm really looking forward to the fact they will take my mind off the majestic scenery ;)

That's my week - how was yours?

  • Have you run in rain, hail and snow?  (I've run in plenty of rain, hail for the first time on Tuesday, but never snow)
  • Have you ever had acupuncture and did it work?
  • What is the next event on your race calendar?

Monday, November 12, 2012

RunLog + My Knee + A Physio Appointment

Tuesday - 10 mins slow, 3 x 4 mins brisk with 4 min jog recoveries, 10 mins slow

Wednesday - rest, or 30-40 mins slow
I rested :(
All day my knee niggled me at work (where I stand and move around a bit) and by the end of the day I thought this was no longer a minor niggle to keep an eye on, but something that needed to be sorted.   It was so gutwrenching hard not to stick to my run plan, but for the first time I felt running on my knee was not a good idea.

Thursday - 10 mins slow, 25 mins fartlek.....
No running today either.  Although my knee felt better after a day at work in more comfortable shoes (yip - I wore my old running shoes to work!), I was still favouring it slightly and it felt wrong to run.  I made an appointment to see a physio after work - I want to nip this in the bud so I can run forever!

The good news is that I can still run!  I do need to avoid hills at the moment until I build up a few extra muscles on the R side that are weaker than my L.  This week I have to do wall sits targeting my R vastus medalis:

.....40, 41, 42 43, 44, 45, 50, 55, 60 ;)

and clams for my R gluteus medius, of which I will spare you the photo!  The physio also recommended foam rolling my iliotibial band, and gave my R hip flexor a good prod because it was tight - ouch!

Friday - 30 mins slow
Friday is usually a rest day but I was trying to make up for my lack of running during the week - besides, I've been given the green light!  During this run I did notice that I was favouring my knee a bit on downhills, must mention this to the physio next week in case it is relevant.

Sunday - 60 mins slow
Initially I was planning to run Mt Eden this weekend, but as you can guess Mt Eden is a hill and I have to steer clear of them at the moment.  Instead I ran along the Ponsonby ridge to St Mary's Bay and around Pt Erin then backtracked a similar route home.  I felt good and it was lots of fun!

The Week:
I'm pleased I went to see a physiotherapist about my knee - even though it is only a minor niggle I don't want it developing further.  As I said, I want to run forever, and also have secret plans to run the half marathon next year.  Thanks to my blogging friends who offered advice and encouraged me to go!
I'm at the end of a four-week cycle in my training, and the next four weeks will basically be a repeat but with increases in time and repetitions along the way  The following eight weeks are building towards a 10k, so I suppose I better start investigating 10k races around three months time!

Monday, November 5, 2012

RunLog + Imaginary Obstacles

Tuesday - 10 mins slow, 1/2/4/2/1 mins fast with equal jog recoveries, 10 mins slow
'Fast' is supposed to be my 5-10k pace, but I found my usual 6mins/km to be unchallenging today.  Given these sessions are supposed to leave me feeling that I couldn't have given any more, I might try 5:45 pace next time.  I haven't had any races or time trials lately to gauge my speed so not sure where I am at - maybe I'm actually getting fitter!

Wednesday - 40 mins slow
I've been running in my new shoes since Sunday, and today the knee niggle made an appearance.  I thought I would ice it, but there was no ice in the freezer so a bag of frozen peas had to do! The niggle basically disappeared after icing for 10 mins.

Thursday - 35 mins slow
Today I ran in my old shoes. I like the idea of alternating shoes for a few reasons.  One is injury prevention - switching shoes adds variation and is less repetitive on your body day after day.  Two is to let them dry out thoroughly between runs, and I have this third totally-self-made-totally-unproven theory about letting the cushioning recover for a day to extend the life of the shoe.

It's taken a while, but I notice that my running pace is more consistent now:

When I first got my Sportwatch my pace varied a lot:

Now it only varies wildly like that on things like hills and bush tracks!

Saturday - 30 mins slow, with strides
Whoops - forgot the strides!
However this run did include a 33m hill which I ran the whole way up and felt good.  Ok, maybe I started to feel it towards the top where it suddenly got steeper!
The reason 33m is relevant is that it has the same elevation gain as the Auckland Harbour Bridge (otherwise known as the 'Coathanger' for reasons you will understand when you look at the photo below), which is part of the Auckland Marathon/Half Marathon.

The bridge climb was an intimidating factor for me entering the half marathon, but as the gradient is much lower than the hill that I just ran it should be a lot easier - I need to stop making imaginary obstacles.
Plus - no knee niggle today!

Sunday - 55 mins slow

Here I am after my 55 mins slow, looking sweaty, but relaxed and happy because it felt so easy!

I ran a new route so that usually makes things more interesting, but there were some uphill portions on the way home that felt a lot easier than expected.
I love it when running feels like this - a great way to cap off the week!

Do you rotate your running shoes?
Are your ice trays in your freezer empty, or topped up ready for a running emergency?
Do you create obstacles in your mind, that turn out to be imaginary obstacles?  It reminds me of this quote that has been one of my lifelong favourites:

"Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goals"

I'm a bit too good at finding obstacles and excuses in life, but whenever I recall this quote it reminds me that they are just bridges waiting to be climbed - like the Coathanger :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

New Shoes + My Shoe Clinic Experience

I've got new running shoes!

They're Adidas Supernova Glide 4's and honestly they float in mid-air:

They have metallic silver stripes that are definitely going to make me run faster:

And I love their mod space age details, which remind me of the 60's Couregges/Cardin/Rabanne era in fashion that I love:

Now let's hope they make my little knee niggle fade away to nothing...

I purchased them from Shoe Clinic in Ponsonby after some great service there.  Soon after I entered the store I was greeted and when I indicated I needed new running shoes the salesperson offered to assess my feet.  I read online that all the staff at Shoe Clinic are trained by a podiatrist in these things, so I agreed.  While barefoot, he assessed my stance on both feet, then each foot singly.  Next he had a look at my feet and checked the movement of my big toe.  Then he asked me to err, have a go on the treadmill.

I have never been on a treadmill before and it is totally weird, but I suppose you would get used to it!  He turned the speed up slowly at first, but then it got a bit too fast and I thought I my feet were going to spin out from behind me hehe, but he is obviously used to newbies like me and adjusted the speed back down again before I had time to face plant into the screen!

On the video analysis, all I could see was how huge my rear end looked from that angle!  I tried to ignore that and concentrate more on what he was saying about my feet - which was that my gait is nice and neutral and I have strong arches with no collapsing going on.  Stuff I like to hear.

He bought out the Supernova's and also a pair of New Balance shoes.  I had another go on the treadmill while wearing each pair of shoes, and checking the video of each and he thought everything looked good.  The New Balance shoes felt sort of hard and artificial on my feet, and slipping on the Supernova's afterwards felt perfect and really similar to my existing pair which have served me well, so my choice was made.  My existing shoes are Adidas Response 20, and I did have Supernova's a few years ago when I used to run so I must be an Adidas girl.  Plus Kate has a pair, obviously I now need a pair of red ones.

I'd definitely return to Shoe Clinic to buy my shoes again as I felt I was in the hands of professionals.  There is a 30 day return policy and a loyalty program of $50 off after $500 spent.  With lots of other good quality running gear and accessories instore that you know, I really need, that target won't take long to reach and this shop could even be a slightly dangerous-to-the-budget discovery, located slightly too-close-to-home.

And before you start thinking I work there or something and I'm doing a sales pitch - I don't.  But if their staff discount is good then I might just look into it!

What is your current running shoe and when did you last replace them?
(If your answer is longer than 6 months, log off immediately and proceed to your nearest running shoe store!)

Do you stick to the same shoe brand year after year?

Also - what was your first time on a treadmill like?

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