Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm still here ...

Hi there all. Sorry for disappearing! I'm mid-way through my peak week of marathon training and it's fair to say it's been consuming a fair amount of my mental energy as well as physical. It's all going well though, I just wish I'd realised when I started this just how intense Dave's programme was going to be. There aren't any nice, easy recovery runs and I only get one day a week off. Saturday is a two to three hour ride with a run off the bike, Sunday is a long run, Monday is a fast run (after the long run - yeah right), Tuesday is intervals, Wednesday is a hill run and Thursday is a longish tempo run. Add in some swimming, weights and Balance and my schedule starts looking rather full. It's fair to say that stuff has dropped off the schedule. There hasn't been a lot of Balance, I've had to ration the upper body work because of my dodgy neck, and my legs have had enough to cope with without adding leg press, squats and lunges to the mix. However fear of not being able to swim 2km has at least kept me in the pool twice a week.

After riding 76km on Saturday (with, for once, no run off the bike) I ran 30km on Sunday. My long runs have strangely enough been getting faster, which I'm sure is not supposed to be happening! It was a challenging run though, on my own, in a cold gale Southerly with threatening rain. Thankfully I discovered gels with caffeine added. Sometimes being sensitive to caffeine is a good thing, because they were pure rocket fuel.

I was then supposed to run 12km on the Monday - fast. Unfortunately there was that awful wind again. I almost made my target pace at times during the first six kilometres, managed to climb up the only hill fairly easily, and was able to pick it up a little bit after that. However the wheels fell off on the last few kilometers and I staggered back to the gym with a very disappointing average pace. My legs just can't cope with fast the day after a long run, not when that long run is still building up in distance anyway. I don't think that's too unreasonable of them.

How was it then that I managed to put in a rather convincing intervals session last night? A ten minute warm up, followed by 5 x 4 minute intervals with three minutes of easy recovery jog inbetween and a ten minute cool down. I wasn't completely fresh by any means, but I was able to put in the effort.

I'm going to be chasing a workmate around the Tinakori Hills again tonight. Last week we managed 70 minutes, of which more than half was almost continual climbing. We had so much fun and I managed not to fall over or do anything stupid along the way. Tonight we're aiming for 80 minutes, including the Ridgeline track, so there will be lots more uphill!

So here I am in my peak week, a slightly niggly hip but otherwise fairly intact. It would be nice if I could have had an 'easy' day every now and then, but on the other hand it's also been very rewarding to see myself continually improving and coping with more than I'd ever thought I could. Next week at least sees me drop back the mileage for a few 'easy' days. Who ever thought a 23km long run would seem short?

I think if I ever do another marathon I'll look at FIRST training because I still think my body prefers the crosstraining and I miss RPM and more time on my bike. However I'm not going to complain too much. I chose this and I have kept choosing this. I've missed a grand total of two runs - one tempo run when I wrenched my neck, and last week's interval session when my body just said an emphatic 'no'!

I don't know how I'll feel when this is all over, but at least I'll have yet another salient reminder of how I'm always capable of much more than I think I am.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So ...

So I rode Blue Mountains with the Gearshifters today. We were averaging around 35kmph most of the way. From Whitemans Valley we went via Mangaroa rather than riding out to Te Marua.

Coming back down SH2 into the Southerly headwind we were again sitting on around 35kmph. I had to put in a couple of spurts to catch up after being left at lights, twice ending up doing 39kmph on my own into that wind to get back onto the guy at the back of the pack's wheel. I was having a blast, feeling great, and then ...

A few kilometres before the turnoff towards Pharazyn Street on the way back into Lower Hutt I bonked. big time. It was instantaneous. One minute I was sitting on 35kmph quite happily, the next I was being passed and dropped. When we regrouped at Pharazyn I swallowed 5mg of Hydrocortisone, just in case that was the reason for the crash, and skulled a Leppin. No dice.

I staggered my way back to town at around 25kmph. Yes, we had a headwind, but not THAT much of a headwind. There was just nothing left in the tank.

Sitting in Bordeaux afterwards (the national triathlon champs were on in Oriental Bay so we met on Thorndon Quay) I had a bit of a think. We rode 86km in total. Before I crashed I'd eaten a sum total of one muesli bar and had drunk one and a bit bottles of Peak Fuel. By the time I crashed we'd been riding for around three hours.

Gee, do you think I might perhaps have not eaten enough? My cycle computer estimates I burned around 1,660 calories and I replaced them with a few hundred at most.

After sitting in Bordeaux for a while managed to convince myself to head back to the car and put my running shoes on. I ate a little more muesli bar before I set out. Dave's plan had me running thirty minutes, but then Dave's plan had me riding two to three hours, not 3.25. I compromised by running for 20 minutes and to my surprise was still managing sub-6 minute kilometres. To add to the puzzle, I wasn't feeling that bad. I could have run the whole thirty. Did the Hydrocortisone kick in?

To confuse matters even more, I really wasn't feeling that hungry. I went grocery shopping, came home, ate a pie and drank a cider (yes, I know), but at no stage did I have that "feed me now" feeling.

Experiences like today are, although frustrating, probably valuable in the end. I'm still working out the whole Hydrocortisone dosing issue, obviously, and today was also a salutory lesson in fueling on the bike. It's not like I haven't had that lesson before!

I've also had a full week of running, but that will have to wait for another post. It's after 3.00pm and I still haven't made it into the shower. Time to go get clean ...

Monday, March 09, 2009

How to do everything wrong and still PB your half marathon

The last few days have been a lesson in what NOT to do when training for a marathon, particularly when the weekend's training includes a half marathon time trial.

So, on Friday (my day of rest) I may have spent the evening celebrating a workmate's engagement, getting to bed a little too late after consuming copious amounts of party food, bubbly, a glass of wine, a couple of ciders and a pie. I feel I have to admit that, because the reality of it disgusts me so much that I feel I have to write it down to prevent myself from ever doing it again!

On Saturday, very tired and a little hung over, I proved myself soft by swapping a Gearshifters ride (Makara from the Johnsonville side) for two RPM classes. My excuse? The weather was looking a little questionable and I couldn't face that time on the bike or the monster climbs up Old Porirua Rd and Makara hill.

I should have napped on Saturday afternoon but I didn't. We spent Saturday night in Waikanae at an opera night put on by one of Hamish's clients. This year the opera was Don Giovanni, and we sat around in costume in the garden while a DVD played on a huge outdoor screen imported from overseas for the purpose. I spent the last half hour trying not to fall asleep in my chair. We were staying in the host's spare bedroom but even so I didn't get to bed until around 2a.m.

I'd tried hunting for half marathon routes in Waikanae on MapMyRun, to no avail. The idea of running 21km along the beach didn't appeal and, besides, when I woke up I was feeling so exhausted that it wasn't even a possibility. By the time we got back to Wellington it was all I could do to pass out on our bed for half an hour then crawl to the sofa. It took till about 5.00 for me to convince myself to swap my half marathon run for Monday's 8km fast run. I drove down to Oriental Bay, switched on the Garmin, and went for it.

In the end Sunday's run wasn't too painful. It seemed to take no time at all to get to 4km and then I pushed it up a notch to negative split on the way back. I started to think I should have just run the whole 21km after all, but I had no fluids on me and no gels, so I decided to stick to my plan.

Which left today. I woke feeling extremely tired again and stuttered my way through a work day that ended up with my manager offering me a very exciting piece of work while I sat there feeling bemused. With that good news in the back of my mind I dragged that tired butt of mine off to the gym to get changed for the 21.1km run.

My half marathon PB, set in June last year, was 2.03. I wanted to see if I could beat it. I knew I had to stick to a sub-5.40 pace to go sub-2. I had no idea how I would handle that in my slightly-less-than-tapered condition. However the conditions seemed good. There was a bit of a Southerly, which would favour me on the return. I stuck a Leppin in my pocket, warmed up by running to the Meridian building, hit start on the Garmin, and ran.

In the end it came down to being a very mental game. Yes, my ankle was a bit niggly, yes my hip and IT band weren't terribly happy. Could I continue to push myself to keep going and not slow? How long could I hold the pace? For some reason I decided to target 5.30km's. If I crashed halfway then I crashed. Worst case scenario I'd have a terrible split but I'd still have a little change in my pocket to make it sub-2. Super-worst scenario I'd crash so badly that I'd limp back to the gym. It was going to be fun finding out.

I reached the 10km mark in almost exactly 55 minutes. At the halfway mark I was on just slightly over 5.30 pace. I downed a Leppin and waited to see if my stomach would explode. I got a little burpy, but the nausea stayed away. I wouldn't want to be scoffing those things down every half an hour, but it seems I can tolerate the Leppin in moderate doses. I'm fairly certain it gave me a boost of energy, though that may have been psychological.

The turnaround ended up being almost exactly at the old naval base. Cruelly, the Southerly had gotten up a bit and there was a headwind for the next couple of kilometres. I got a little Mad Dog on myself and decided I was just going to go for it. I wanted that sub-2. I wanted to be able to write this blog post.

After that I never really caved. Despite the headwind (even more cruelly, it hit again with only three kilometres to go), I just kept kicking it. I dug in with 100 metres to go.

1.57 and a little change. I PB'd by over six minutes after work and fatigued. Given race conditions and a bit of a taper I'm good for closer to the 1.52 the Macmillan calculator thinks I should be running.

Happy? Maybe just a bit!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

And now I want to do this ....

Thanks Kate ...

New Years at Canaan Downs, then a little drive down to Bannockburn for some time on the vineyard, then a scenic triathlon.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Ten Years

Taken by the talented Leonie, the day before our 10th anniversary. I love this photo because there is a similar photo of us taken on the day of our wedding.

Monday, March 02, 2009


So, about that sub-25 minute 5km

When the Garmin clocked over 5km, the time on the display screen read ....


And the grin on my face was truly something to see ....

Of course I am totally clueless about 5km strategy. Of course I went out too fast. Every time I looked at my wrist and saw a sub-5 minute pace the same words kept repeating in my mind: "money in the bank, money in the bank". I hit a nasty headwind on the stretch from Oriental Bay to the other side of Pt Jerningham which slowed me right down. I couldn't face turning around so I ran 5km straight out all the way to Greta Point. When I realised I wasn't going to pass out I just concentrated on staying sub-5. When I hit 4.8km I kicked the last 200 metres.

Earlier this year I said I wanted to shave my 5k and now I have a 5k pace to shave. With fresh legs and a little more speed work my new goal is sub-24.

It's always nice to have a goal.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Running is Hard

No, seriously. This isn't supposed to be easy, right? That's not why we do it. I had a flashback halfway through today's two hour run. I remembered all those Saturday mornings with the Jog Squad - all those long runs preparing for our first half marathon (and then our second). Back then I used to take Friday as a rest day, so would be running on fresh legs. It still felt hard. So many hours, so many kilometres later - it still feels hard.

Of course, I haven't been running much over the last year. It has been primarily about the cycling. I know I'm fitter than I was when I was training for the half marathons, but I still have to earn the wear and tear on my running shoes. I've been building up my distances fairly quickly and I've been feeling a bit slow as a result. I better make the most of the upcoming 'easy' week, because it's only going to get harder from here!

I don't do my long runs on fresh legs. In fact I don't do ANY of my runs on fresh legs. After taking Friday off as scheduled I still wasn't feeling completely rested on Saturday. For the last couple of days the weather forecasters had been predicting that a big storm would blow in over the weekend. I'd booked a couple of RPM classes as a precautionary measure in case it was too nasty to ride with the Gearshifters. I figured 90 minutes of spin was roughly equivalent to a two to three hour ride.

I was feeling a bit conflicted when i got up at 7am. It was very calm outside and only slightly overcast. I didn't want to wimp out of a ride if the weather was going to be rideable. I considered cancelling the classes and hauling Cleo out to Freyberg. However as the clouds gathered I made my mind up. Julia sent a txt from Tawa to say it was already raining there and, as I drove down Farnham Street towards the gym it started raining in Wellington as well - big fat heavy drops. It continued to pour down solidly all day.

Julia and I proceeded to grind our way through two sweaty RPM classes. It's new release week so we got to hear the same tracks twice in a row. I wasn't that impressed the first time around but by the second outing they were growing on me. I don't think any of them would make it into my requests list, but I can live with them.

At the end of the first class we were joined by another Gearshifter. She'd met the others at Freyberg but been put off by the rain and backtracked to the gym instead. Those who did ride canned the planned Makara excursion and did a simple around the bays with Mt Crawford thrown in. I felt happy with my decision and that I hadn't missed anything by deciding not to put myself through a cold, wet ride.

Straight out of RPM and straight onto a treadmill in the Cardio Theatre. I can't remember the last time I ran in there but I was going to need music to get me through 25 minutes. I wasn't really tired, but I was just over it and kind of ready to be getting on with the rest of my day. Nevertheless I had a good run. My legs didn't feel at all heavy coming off the spin bike and my heartrate sat comfortably in a good range.

Although I felt fine after my indoor brick I crashed mid-afternoon. I drank a bottle of cider while sitting at my computer and then it was just all over Rover. I somehow found my way to our lovely new bed and had a total nana nap for about an hour. I still felt groggy when I woke but slowly started to feel human again. It's been a while since I've done that! And Dusty, you're probably wondering about Hydrocortisone. I honestly can't remember whether I took any extra that morning but I doubt that I did. I wouldn't normally for a morning of spinning with a bit of running thrown in, and I would normally feel fine afterwards!

The rain continued to come down steadily all evening, lulling me into a calm stupor. I indulged in a quiet night on the sofa under a blanket before crawling back into that wonderful new bed.

This morning Hamish and I went linen shopping (two new pillows, a sheet set, two duvet covers and a new duvet later) and then it was long run time. The rain had disappeared but the Northerly had risen to typically interesting levels. With all the moisture around it was rapidly getting to be very humid. Time to fill the hydration pack.

I left at around 2.30, running up Farnham Street from home and then down Mornington Rd towards Brooklyn. It seemed unfair that, even running downhill, the Northerly was threatening to stop me in my tracks. What was the fun of running downhill into a wind so strong you had to fight with it?

Down Ohiro Rd to Aro Street and then up Aro Valley towards Karori. A quick stop halfway up as the pancakes Hamish had made earlier in the day threatened to make their presence felt, and then over the hill and left through the Karori tunnel. There were walkers ahead of me going through and I had to drop to a walk, thinking it too rude to push past them. Out the other side though I picked up the pace again down Glenmore and then down Bowen (more downhill into the headwind) and onto the waterfront.

Past Shed 5, Fergs and Te Papa and around the Bays. I alternated between feeling really slow and then looking at my Garmin to realise that actually my pace was ok. At Oriental Bay the chop was the largest I've ever seen - reasonable-sized rollers swarming the beach. Out in the harbour jet skis were racing through the white caps. Spray was crashing over the sea wall and I was doing everything I could to run through it. Anything cool and wet was all good at that point in time.

Towards the end of Oriental Bay the Northerly slowed me again and then it was round Pt Jerningham and the wind was at my back and pushing me scarily fast down the straight. There's nothing like being picked up and thrown a few metres by a force of nature to make a girl feel insignificant.

By Balaena Bay the Garmin was telling me that my pace was right on target and that I was well situated to finish in Berhampore right on the two hour mark. At about the 80 minute mark I suddenly realised that I had left behind the gel I'd been meaning to try. This wouldn't normally be a problem because I don't normally use them anyway, but today it would have really helped. I would have loved to have had that extra little bit of kick to get me around.

Even so my pace remained on target all the way to the climb up over the saddle to Newtown. I didn't care how slowly I took it - I just wanted to get over without walking and I accomplished that ok. After that it was downhill and right at the traffic lights then up and over the last hill with the scent of victory in the air.

I made it to the dairy two minutes shy of two hours and decided that was enough. Into the dairy for the customary cold drink and Fruju and the dairy owner even remembered to ask me how far I'd run. Not quite a half marathon, but on post-RPM/treadmill legs and with all the hillage I was happy. I even managed to knock 15 seconds off last week's pace. The big thing I noticed today was that, despite using the hydration pack, I was very dehydrated afterwards. I've been knocking back the water all evening. I only had water in the pack so will use Peak Fuel next week and see if that makes a difference.

I'm running a fast 5km after work tomorrow and I swear that this week I'm going to hit my target 5km pace. I want that sub-25 to show on the Garmin. I need the proof!