RACE DIARY 2014 Wellington Marathon – pb 2:58:41.

Firstly I would like to congratulate my wife on winning the Women’s Wellington Marathon, a spectacular effort.

My aim for the race was a PB, my previous road marathon best time was 3:26 in Auckland a couple of years ago, I was confident I could beat this due to the ultra marathon training providing me with much needed stamina and strength. I was a little worried about my pace training but had been doing 10km training races in under 40 minutes. 

Preparation for the marathon was good, it is always slightly difficult preparing beforehand at my parents house, particularly due to my pre race nutrition not being as stringent as it could be. In saying that there were no pre race hiccoughs. The taper week was good hitting about 30km in the last 7 days. Before that my longest run in preparation was a 68km road run about 5 weeks out from the race.

It was a typical Wellington day, cold windy and wet. The course is not well thought out, it is an out and back course with an additional out and back in the middle which is bloody annoying, for a capital city marathon I personally think more can be done to set out an established circuit course. If Auckland can, Wellington should be able to, and if they did I think a lot more people would run it. The other problem is congestion due to participants running a variety of different distances – when you are heading home and 10km and 21km runners are speeding passed it can be quite disheartening. The pre race goody bag is average however I do love the end race towel. If they don’t change the course layout i wont be rushing back. 

I started out strong and went out relatively fast (I really find it hard to reign it in at the start) running 4 min km’s for the first ten km and was placed about 9th for the first 25km. I had a GU gel at the start line and had two more waiting for me along the course courtesy of my awesome support crew (bro/ma). My split was good 1:24 and I felt pretty strong at the half way mark. I was having a cup of water/powerade at the regular aid stations. At the 30km mark I pulled into 8th. I felt the legs tire at 32km and really had to dig in deep from this point on, the last 5km were going to be with the wind but all the work into the wind was taking its toll and I hit the wall, at this point the top half marathon runners came speeding passed which did not help my psyche. My aim changed from a top ten placing to a sub 3 hour marathon at the 37km mark. The last few km’s proved to be tough mentally and physically and the whole time I was calculating my pace with my trusty GPS watch to ensure a sub 3 hour.

I was ecstatic with my time and placing of 15th overall, I have only run 2 road marathons previous to this, my first 3:46, second 3:26 and now my third 2:58. I am not sure when my next marathon will be due to the Tarawera 100km coming up fast, but It will be darn tough to beat that PB. 

Post race – Las Vegas brilliant place to celebrate.

My preferred distance is still the ultra (I define that as anything over a marathon), I think the internal and external mind games are much more interesting and the physical pain much much more gruelling. 

I ran in new balance minimus shoes. 

Tip – If you can afford it buy a GPS watch that can tell you your pacing. Whilst training you learn to feel what certain paces do to you heart rate etc. During a race you can run at an average pace to reach your certain goal and prevents going out to fast- much like running with a pacer (no pacers for wgtn marathon). Do not run with your GPS religiously it can take the fun out of just running.

 

 

Which running pack? review.

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Salomon S-LAB ADVANCED SKIN HYDRO 12 SET above.

I ran my last short course ultra with an old Salomon running/hiking bag, everytime I needed to eat I had to remove the bag and get in the main pocket. My drinks sat in the side pockets again requiring me to remove the bag to access, I do not like using bladders for several reasons, the “plastic” taste, the straw tends to get in the way and I like to have a diverse range of drinks along a long run.

I note that many of the top runners carry gels and hand held bottles and that is about it. I wanted something in between.

I need something that can carry everything you need for a race ie compulsory gear, I wanted easy access to food and drink without removing my bag and finally something that fits well and I can wear for several hours without getting bad chafing or annoyed at the whistle that hits your face over a million times. 

After reading several reviews I went for the above Salomon pack, the main riding factor between this and the ultimate direction packs was brand loyalty – as they seemed to be much of a muchness.

Fits very well, have run 61km road run with this bag with no problems, two front securing straps are easily changed to your body shape. (Be sure to buy the right size).

Enough room in the main pack for a self sufficient 100km run and to hold compulsory gear.

Hydration; Two front bottles, each carry 500ml, this is enough for me for Tarawera with all the aid stations. The bottles are a little difficult to handle and don’t fit as well in the front pockets as I would like particularly when they are not full, (remember to suck all the air out otherwise you will listen to uninterrupted sloshing). Im also a little concerned about the hydration bottles failing at some point (they have not yet) and if they do I am not sure how easy it is to purchase more. Also has room for a bladder if required.

Two easily accessible side pockets for gels and food. Heaps of little pockets and compartments which I quite like for keys, phones, rubbish etc. No troubles with breathability. 

Comes with an emergency blanket.

Ultimately what i like about this item is that it is a “VEST” not really a bag,  I do not notice it is on when I am running long distances and it fits around me and feels part of me. No annoyance factor which is really important for me. 

 

Training Diary: Waitakere ranges “Hilary Trail”

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Before my last 60km ultra and now in preparation for the 100km race I will be running this trail most weekends.

The trail is very easy to get to from Auckland, about 30-40 minute drive north west and easy parking. Single man track.

During the majority of the year the trail is runnable particularly between Piha and Muriwai. The trail is technical enough particularly for Tarawera, the ascends are definitely tougher on the Waitaks, which is perfect for strength and endurance. Distance wise it is perfect, my favourite training run is from Piha to Muriwai and back which is about 60km, in between is Bethells beach where you can fill up on water, otherwise it is a self sufficient run. The trail has different terrain ranging from steep down hills to sandy beaches and hill side running. 

The scenery is incredible and the trail is pretty quiet particularly if you can get out on a weekday. Running this trail you feel you are on the edge of the world and are pretty removed from the rest of the world – Perfect running environment.

If you are going to do a longer distance ie longer than 7-8 hours, you must be prepared, there is always a chance for a rolled ankle or a fall. Cellphone reception does cut in and out in several places. At the moment the segment between Bethells and Muriwai is pretty muddy and cut up (they have let livestock through???) hopefully this improves after winter. 

Hope to catch you guys out there, if you have any questions id be more than happy to help!

Inov8 Raceshell 220 review.

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Finding a waterproof, windproof and seam sealed running jacket proved to be difficult.

After reading and watching several reviews I purchased the Inov8 Raceshell 220. Here is my take on it.

Positives:

SIZE: very light and can be packed into it’s own front pocket.

WEATHER: Great for the cold and is seam sealed which is a prerequisite for many races now. I have never been cold in this jacket.

PERFORMANCE: Well fitted, not much noise, no little protruding things to annoy you just a simple design. Front pocket for keys. The hood is well fitted. What I like is the inside of the zip around the neck is padded so no irritation. Hand grips/thumb loops to keep your hands warm.

LOOKS: Very nice looking jacket that fits well.

DURABILITY: Have had this jacket for about 6 months, so many washes. The jacket is still in very good nick, no rips and all the labelling is as is I bought it.

Negatives:

BREATHABILITY: It is hard to find a jacket that is water/wind proof and good for the cold but also provides good breathability, usually once warm unless it is very cold the jacket comes off, at that time quite a bit of sweat has accumulated.

COST: Currently on wiggle.com the jackets retails for around 160 NZD with free delivery.

All in all a great running jacket, I highly recommend.

Shin Splints.

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In my early to mid twenties I suffered from severe shin splints – debilitating pain in the inner aspect of the my lower legs with tender bumbs overlying the bone (periostitis). I could run 8-10km on the road and a little bit further on the trails before I had to stop.

Team sports were no longer an option for me due to my job and occupational training requirements, therefore semi competitive running appealed to me, however due to pain I could not increase my distance or improve my speed training.

I have very flat feet, a podiatrist once said the flattest he had ever seen. I paid for orthotics (approx $500) with no improvement. I did many gait analyses – I was prescribed heavy duty shoes for my “pronation”. I also have a minor leg length discrepancy – some would say not built to run.

I had come to the end of my tether and following a relay race (Tarawera ultramarathon team relay 2012) I severely rolled my ankle twice, finishing approximately 10km on one leg. I injured my syndesmosis and ruptured several ankle ligaments.

I was pretty close to giving up running. In the year of 2012 my girlfriend (now wife) read a book called “Born to Run” she told me all about this barefoot running craze. I saw this as my last chance to run without pain even though I fervently opposed this caveman like thesis.

In summary I bought 4mm drop New Balance minimus shoes for trails and road running. Since then for 2 and half years I have run without pain, longer and faster than I could imagine, finished my first ultramarathon and have had two top ten finishes in trail races in 2014. I go through a pair of shoes every 6 months and have not changed my model (I have gone through about 6 pairs). Interestingly I completed Auckland marathon 6 months after my ankle injury in my fastest time – my sports doctor said I would not be able to start running until 6 months after my injury.

I am a firm believer in barefoot running, the anatomy and physiology makes sense to me, but more importantly despite my anatomic flaws this one man experimental human trial proves (with no statistical significance) that barefoot running may in fact help you.

It is important to note I recommend a slow transition to minimalist footwear. I ran on beaches, slowly increasing my distance initially beginning at 5-10km and never running on painful feet. I was acutely aware of the possibility of developing stress fractures, as my form changed my body needed time to adapt.

Thanks to my Wife for inspiring/convincing me to take up minimalist running.