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!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...