Sunday, September 23, 2007

Epic run #4

Today marked my second go at the Makara loop. Because of all my other news last time, I didn't really get into Makara much.

Makara is world famous is Wellington as THE run for marathon training. The loop is between 20 and 22 miles (depending on how you do it- our version is a little over 21), and the middle 12 of those miles are basically in the middle of nowhere. No drink stops, no footpaths, no bathrooms, no way out.

Yesterday was beautiful. Sunny and clear. Definitely a "you can't beat Wellington on a good day" day and a beautiful day for a nice long run. Quite the opposite of my last Makara day, which was cloudy, chilly and occasionally wet.

We started our loop at the back entrance to Otari, and headed up towards Crofton Downs. The next few ks are rolling hills, up through Ngaio, Khandallah and down along Burma Road, past Broadmeadows, to Johnsonville. At Keith Spry, we hung a left, made our way to the big, f-off climb that is Ironside Road and started the adventure. I was able to lead on the first climb. It's longish, but not super long, and it's steep in places, but not the whole way. We arrived at the top, hot and a little puffed and turned down into the valley. Running down into the valley and along the gorge is beautiful. 10 miles of lambs and daffodils, a random flock of geese, and the odd horse or cow.

(not my pic, but it's of the area)

It was sunny most of the way, but every so often we'd turn into the shade and enjoy a brief respite and a cool breeze. By 10 or so miles in, we were well ready for some water (neither of us like carrying it, and we're used to routes with taps every few hundred metres), and the next 5-ish miles were a bit of a death march, with me cursing my arrogance and stupidity the whole way. Just because I was ok with E last week didn't mean I should expect to be ok this week, in the sun. Next time I'm thinking a sneaky drop off, or meeting P with his bike part way. We persevered and got to Makara school at about 2:20ish, if I remember rightly. We took a decent break at the school, wincing as we squatted at the mini child sized fountain. I knew what was coming, and wanted to make sure I was ready for it! I had finished my sport beans awhile beforehand and had some peak fuel gel.

Not far from the school, we hit the "windy for next 2km" sign. One last big climb and we'd be on our way home. Unfortunately, it really is a big climb- around 1.5 miles, with close to 600 ft of elevation gain. It winds around and around and feels endless. I discovered very early in the climb that my iron tummy is not so iron after all. Espresso Peak Fuel and heaps of water after 5 miles of running dehydrated was not welcomed at all, and I really struggled up the hill. A passed me reasonably early on, and I plodded up reluctantly behind, thinking every turn had to be nearly the end. The worst thing was hearing Rihanna's Umbrella pounding out about 1/2-2/3 of the way up. SERIOUSLY people. I'm climbing this MASSIVE hill in the sun after 15 miles of running! PLAY ME ANYTHING BUT JAY-Z! Where's the "Eye of the Tiger" at??? I came so close to stopping a number of times- my tum was gurgling, I was slightly lightheaded and everything hurt. But my pride kept me going. I'd done the climb, A was doing the climb and I wasn't backing down. I nearly spat the dummy when I reached what I really truly thought was the last corner and saw two corners to go. I was fed up. I started playing mini-goals, first counting 100 steps, then getting to the end of the white fence, then past the digger. Finally we got there. A wasn't that far ahead of me (10-15 seconds?) and we staggered to the skyline entrance to stretch and regroup quickly. I knew I needed something more to get through the last few, short miles, after the failed fuel experiment, so we cruised down the hill (OW!) and stopped quickly to pick up a powerade.

The last few miles, from Karori to Wilton, are a great run on a normal day. Basically rolling (though really it's a gradual climb with a gradual descent), there are wide footpaths and since K-town is where I grew up, it's a path of familiarity and nostalgia. After 18 miles, it's not so fun. Rollers loom evil in the distance and every step hurts, whether it's up or down. However, the end is in sight, and we pushed on. Finally it was time to "fly" down the last hill to the car. I was wiped.

A local marathoner lists his PB on the Makara loop as 2:09. This guy's MARATHON PB (at the time- I think he's taken some off since then) was 2:23. With E last week, I did 3:44, with A yesterday we took nearly 20 mins off for 3:25. So, to the extent that Makara is any sort of marathon predictor, I'd say I'm on track. For what, I don't know, but "on track".

I was really happy with my run, and with my day after my run. A big challenge for me is to not let a hard run turn my day into a pit of sloth and junk. So, I showered at work, got changed (trackies, old sneaks and a long sleeved t- I HATE wearing proper clothes after long runs) and met my super sister J for bagels in the sun (she'd done her long run too), followed by an afternoon of shopping. I'd started trying to find something the night before, but I was tired and snappy, and nothing looked good. Plus, there is no-one better to shop with than a sister. Most things looked OK, I kept having to go down a size, and we found a great outfit. Yay! We finished off the day with delicious smoothies, and I went home to pretty myself up for P's prizegiving. Felt great, the outfit was just right, and it was the perfect night for a cold beer, followed by eye fillet and red wine. The function was a little disappointing- although the steak was very good, portions were not at all generous, no veges came out with the meals and the service was pretty awful. Not the best set menu I've had for that price by a long shot!

I was off work on Monday, and have taken it easyish to recover from darned cold. However, I did an easy run on Tuesday to get back into to, and managed to get my speedwork in on Wednesday night (ok, but not great) and my tempo run in on Thursday (4.35 miles in 34:21 for 7:53 pace- just right, though it hurt with my nose and lungs still a little stuffed). We have been making the most of the beautiful weather, and had a nice, romantic dinner out on Wednesday, and a picnic at the beach on Thursday.


Wes said...

Oh, Kate! That's brilliant :-) Please, tell me how fun and awesome 20+ milers are before I get to them! LOL. Then tell me how wonderful you feel after them, especially if it involves eating and beer, but not shopping!!!

Phil said...

I'm pretty sure that I've never read the phrase, "... 10 miles of lambs and daffodils, a random flock of geese, and the odd horse or cow ..." to describe a run. This loop sounds wonderful. Thanks for the fantastic write up for those of us that will probably never get to your part of the planet.

Pip said...

I'm so going to have to give that loop a try when I'm training for Harbour Capital next year! Not much running for me this week. It's my turn to be sick. I haven't had so much as a sniffle in around four years and I'm not very good at it, especially when I'm having to waste this excellent weather. Instead I'm sitting on the sofa with tissues and nasal spray whining!

The Scott Family said...

Sounds like a great run. If I had any money I'd put it on you to smash 4hrs for the M :)

Lana said...

Wow - that sounds like a beautiful place to run!!

You are seriously going to knock out a sub 4 - I am excited for you!

Love2Run said...

Tough long runs will make the marathon seem like a piece of cake. And you get to eat all you want after too! Keep on trucking.

Jodi said...

Awesome run!

I would be really intimidated starting a 22 mile LOOP! Amazing