Sunday, April 29, 2007

4:04 and I am stoked!

Well, I finished!!! Don't I look chuffed in this pic??!

And NOTHING went wrong (well, apart from running 10 secs per mile slower than I had planned, but I'm putting that down to inexperience and the fact that this is the hardest course in NZ and I'm absolutely not letting it faze me)

And I can't wait to sign up for number 2 (October '07).. where I will smash 4:00!

And I'm coming back next year when the course will be IAAF certified, and you know what?? I am going to BQ!**

We drove up to Rotorua on Friday- the car loaded with bagels and bottle after bottle of water. It was a relaxed drive, and we were running a little late when we arrived. The expo had run out of pretty much everything in my size, though I did find a nice new pair of shorts. We drove around the course as it was getting dark. The hills didn't look too bad, but some went on for quite a while!

After we finished our pasta dinner, I started to get nervous. About the rain, about the course, about hitting the wall, about everything. I don't know what was so stressful-either I'd finish, or I wouldn't! Slept fitfully and lay awake from 3:42 to 6:00 listening to the cars driving past and the rain beating down. I tried to take comfort on the rain- the more it rains now, the less it rains tomorrow, right????

Ate two half bagels (one plain with PB, one cinnamon raisin with jam) at about 6, then sat reading my book and collecting myself while C napped, and the boys slept. At 7 I had my coffee and got ready. I got dressed, prepared three baggies to carry on the course- food, MP3 and emergency supplies- and packed my bag for after the race (my biggest mistake of the day). P stuck Phiten patches all over my legs, I forced down a banana (retching slightly at every bite!) and filled a bottle of water to take to the start.

We lost C and F (her boy) at the start, but found some of P's colleagues who were looking at similar times to me. I was the only newbie though! It was good to chat with them while P was away and meeting their husbands properly meant I had bonus support on the course (one of them even got a cool video of me going past). One last loo stop, and we went off to line up. I decided at the last possible second to run without my poly- the first of my many good decisions! It wasn't that cold, and I really didn't need the extra bulk.

I lined up around the 4h sign. It was great to turn around just before the start to see P again, for a couple of last goodbyes. I gave him a quick kiss, told him to cheer for C from me, then we counted down, the gun went off and we were off.

The *biggest* marathon in NZ had 1400 entrants (running), so it only took me 1:xx to get over the line. Less than 500m in, I found a friend of ours, K, and we decided to hang together as much as we could. We were 30s over our goal pace at 3k, and we decided to try to maintain the gap, rather than to make up time. Mostly we succeeded- some ks were a bit fast, and some markers were off (like there's no WAY we did ks 18 and 19 in under 10 minutes total), but we ended up hitting halfway in 2:00 exactly! At about 9 or 10k, the rain picked up a bit- it was pretty hard, but we were used to being wet by this time! At 14k, we saw the lake for the first time (the race is round the lake, but the roads are pretty silly in Rotorua and very few front onto the lake) and the sun came up. It was actually warmish, and since my shoes had been soaked for nearly an hour anyway, I wasn't that excited about the sun!

I realised just past halfway that I was unlikely to break 4. I felt pretty good, and we were still chatting away, but it was starting to get a little harder (we'd done some reasonable climbs, but the hills were far from over), and I didn't quite feel I had another 2:00 half in me. K was fading too- it was at about 24k that she suggested I push on. I told her there was no way I was feeling strong enough to pick up the pace, especially with 18k to go!

The road was closed for a big part of the middle of the race (from sometime around 16? to about 24/25 k), so it was great to reach 25 and see people again. I saw C's partner F and the guys I'd met pre-race, and knew I would finally be seeing P soon. I was so excited to be passing him strong!

Soon after we saw P, I knew it was time to step up. I reached for my secret weapon, the magic music box. I had asked P and the rest of my family to nominate songs for me to run to. The best idea I have ever had!! It meant my family was with me, and I was able to think of how much they all mean to me as their songs came on. The songs didn't help me pick up the pace or distract me from the pain, but they invigorated me and inspired me. I lost K soon after that- I had a bit more juice in me (hardly surprising- I'm not sure if she ingested any calories during the race, and I managed to eat 150-odd calories off granola bar as well as some sport beans!!) It got hard at about 28k. I kept running, but the soles of my feet hurt, and my transponder felt like it was cutting off circulation in my ankle. I started walking the drink stations, as I knew I hadn't taken enough liquid- not by a mile, I later realised (TMI, but I didn't "go" until nearly two hours after my finish).

Between 28 and 38 I counted ks- and it took forever for each marker to come around (even though my pace for the second half was still under 9:30/mile, and was only 10s/k slower than my first half). Instead of passing everyone, I started getting passed, though I kept passing too. At 35k I saw P again. The photo he has of me shows that I was still definitely "running"- not shuffling like I thought. It also shows just how happy I was to see him.

I was listening to Annie's Song, by John Denver, which means a lot to both of us. I sent him on to the finish line and dug in for the hard part. There's not a lot to say. I put one foot in front of the other and thought about how impossible the last 5k were going to be. The task ahead seemed insurmountable, even that far into it!

At 38k, 4:00, 4:01, 4:02 and 4:03 were a distant memory, but I set myself a new mini goal of doing the last 4.2k in 24 minutes, to finish around 4:04. 38-39 was horrible, but at 39 it felt possible again- 4k is nearly 5k, but 3 is just over 2! My power song played, and although I did NOT feel like a rocket ship on my way to Mars, there was by that stage, no stopping me! I couldn't lift my pace, but I maintained it. I got some high-5s from neighbourhood kids, and I beamed and waved at spectators. I was nowhere near as emotional as I expected- here I was finishing my first MARATHON, having run all but 2 water stations, and I felt nothing! Me- the girl who gets choked up on training runs!!

My MP3 player had misplaced faith in me, and played The Final Countdown just before 41. It was playing when I hit 4:00! If it had played any earlier, I'd have had to skip it, but I reminded myself "this is a freakin marathon, Kate- the last 1.5 K IS the final countdown!" I picked up a bit, and passed a few people in the last k. We were in the park now, enjoying the home stretch. The finish line looked close, and I knew it was only 350m past the Princes Arch. I wondered if I could break 4:04, but realised that while the START gate was 100m away, the finish was a fair bit further! But I pushed it, and ran to the line with P running behind the crowd alongside me.

I collected my finisher's shirt and relaxed for awhile with P's colleague, who had done a PB of 3:56. We waited in the back for K and P's other colleague to come in (K did 4:14 and V did 4:17), then headed out front to wait for C. She was injured and came in at 5:44, so we watched for an hour before we gave up. I saw my blog buddy Mike come in without realising!! We also saw the Mask finish. Unfortunately, I missed seeing the dude who did the WHOLE THING IN CROCS because he finished in something like 3:20!! IN CROCS!!!!

I think it's time to leave this post now- it's rambly enough as it is. There's a really cool summary of my results here, just enter 461. Some (seriously unflattering- my hips are like chipmunk cheeks,stuffed with food and music- it's not all my pudge!) pics are here.

I'll be back soonish, with a "lessons learned" report, and some aftermath, and pics. But, in short- I don't hurt too badly at all (I hurt LOTS, but I was expecting worse- maybe the Phiten patches worked?!), my worst injury is the rubbing and bruising from the transponder band and overall, I'd say I came out well!!

Thanks everyone for your good luck wishes and your support over the past few months. This blog has meant SO much to me! I was going to name names, but you actually all ROCK!

**it's my day today- let a girl dream...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

FIRST summary

It's just about marathon-eve, and I am buzzing with nerves and excitement. It's hard to eat, but I'm managing to cram enough calories in. I've had two days off work and plenty of sleep, so of course I'm yawning, and relishing the thought of another nap!

I am ready for Saturday. I don't know if I will break 4:00 (though at the library today I saw a book- nothing to do with running- called "5 minutes and 42 seconds"- my goal pace/k.. Is that a SIGN or what?!) but I know I can finish, and I am pretty sure I will. So, it's the time to reflect on my training- before my objectivity gets completely ruined by my race experience.

Average mileage: 26.5

Highest mileages: 37 (this is because I was sick the week of my 20-miler, do did fewer short runs)

Pace: My speedwork improved over shorter distances (5 of my 6 last 400s were under 1:30, whereas my other 400m workouts had been more like 1:40-1:45), and my long runs improved- my 20-miler time was roughly the same pace as my first 10-miler! My tempo also improved, on the whole. Earlier on my tempo was a little over 8:00- now on a normal day, it's 8:00 on the nose or a little under. There have been some bad days for all, and I haven't improved as much as I thought I had- ah well!

Comments: I have had a great time on FIRST. I have loved seeing every run as a challenge, and have particularly enjoyed my speedwork. I'm not sure how well trained I am for this race- I think I loved my speedwork too much and my tempo not enough, which brings me to these next thoughts...

What have I done right?

Adding easy runs for fun and run love
Missing workouts when necessary
Doing long runs with C- this has meant spending more time on my feet than I would have had I been running my own pace, and it has been good for C, and it's made long runs fun!

What have I done wrong?

Sometimes adding hard "easy" runs and getting sick
Missing tempo workouts and always doing my speedwork- for the first time ever my 5k time is far better than my half-M, quite backwards for m-thon training!
Doing too many of the longest runs with C- I have only done two runs over half-M distance alone and at my own pace, one 14-miler, and the 20-miler.

Time for a nap before I get everything else done!

Next post= Race Report!

PS: weather report features a BIG BLACK cloud with THREE drops of rain. I am scared!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


*** POST 100 ***

One week to go and I can't wait!

This week another biggish one work wise- nothing like last week, but am still feeling a bit squeezed and will be in tomorrow to make sure I can actually leave on Wednesday- the problem with time off work is always fitting everything in before you go! Luckily the work is interesting (the last two weeks were about 80% boring!).

After missing one key workout last week, (my only missed long run over my FIRST training), I got all three in this week. First was speedwork, and it was REALLY bad- partly because of wind, and partly because my legs just wouldn't move. My ks were between 4:20ish and just under 5:00!!! I felt pretty rubbish, but reminded myself that I only have a few days left and I can't be fussing about the speedwork now! I have really enjoyed doing proper speedwork, and am seriously thinking about working on speed and heading towards a fast 10k in June.

Thursday I took a break from work at about 7 to do my tempo run- 2 easy, 3 tempo and 1 easy. Since I was going round the waterfront, I did more like 3k easy, 5k tempo and 2k easy. The first 2.5k tempo was 12:40, which is ok, but I wanted to do better. I was amazed when I hit the end of the 5k at 12:05, still maintaining a normal tempo effort level! That makes a total tempo split of 24:45, for a smidge under 8:00 pace (my tempo pace is meant to be 8:15, but most of my short tempo runs are a bit quicker). I was pretty happy with this, especially the negative split (it wasn't even windy, for once). I also ran into heaps of running buddies during this run, and caught up to a sub-3:30 marathoner pal (who admittedly was not doing a tempo run!)

Today I did my last *long* run- 8-10 miles at PMP. Turns out I am not so hot at pacing. I slowed down after hitting 3 miles in a little under 26:00. I felt like it was quite hard to maintain 9:09 pace, cos home seemed really far away, but then I got home, up the yucky hill and saw that I was at 1:27:40. Ooops- that makes 8:44 pace. Next week my goal is really learning PMP- I might spend some time on the mill. The last thing i want to do is rabbit on race day, especially given the two monster hills after half way! (though looking at the elevation chart, they don't look that bad- just long...or else the chart is missing a "0"!) I didn't feel the greatest today- legs a bit tight, tummy a bit bloated, but I feel now like I can "just run" again. Looking back at the first time I did this route, in Feb 2007, I did it in 1:37, 9:41 pace!

Other workouts- nothing to write home about. Some time on the trainer, and at the gym. Mostly just to feel good, not for "training" or weight loss or anything like that.

What else? I did some shopping and am trying to figure if I can pull off the high-waisted skirt look that is big this season. I think I need to drop a size first! The other day I decided to treat myself by buying a book (I never buy books- I read so fast and I love the library, so my purchases are limited to emergencies, Harry Potter and Marian Keyes). But I also love Jodi Picoult- lawyer books about people with feelings and relationships are perfect for me! The one I just bought, 19 Minutes, was very good. I didn't cry, as I did in My Sister's Keeper, and I felt a bit weird reading it after the horrific events at VT last week (how can reading about a fictional school shooting really be an "escape" from real life?), but it was nice to open a shiny new book, and to just devour it. If you're wondering how I had time, it's because I stayed up late last night when P went out to watch the cricket in the wee smalls and spent the WHOLE of today chilling on the couch. I'm going to have to face the housework soon!

I have been a hopeless commenter, but I am reading!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Just checking in

Work: many many hours
Sleep: not many hours
Running: a few hours (6?) off plan but mostly ok
Other exercise: (practically) zero hours

Family tri: the official race was cancelled (loong story- am still trying to sort out the details on this one), but our own race was awesome. My mum and two sisters rocked their legs (J did the whole thing- her first!) and I had a GREAT time pacing J over her 4.2k run- she was pretty tired off the bike but kept going strong and really picked up the pace over the last k. WOO- GO TEAM TRI-VIAL PURSUITS!

Marathon: 11 days to go!!!!! 5 work days (with any luck)! ONE long run! ONE speed session! I am fully amped and can't wait!

Monday, April 09, 2007

20 miles

While the rest of blogland is finding itself smothered by unseasonal snow, we in the lower North Island of Kiwiland are enjoying a late summer. P and I spent part of the long weekend up in a beach house in Otaki with my sister and some of her friends. The weather was beautiful, and a couple of days off (I ran, sort of, before we left, but pretty much did nothing after that), some sun and some saltwater (I can't believe i was SWIMMING in April- the water was amazing...) was just what I needed to get better- not quite 100%, but high 90s at least!

So this morning I set out for my one and only 20-miler (my FIRST programme is a beginners' one, so the long runs started with 8 and there's just one 18 and one 20 over the 18 weeks- that's why I was so agitated about missing it!). I changed my route from what I'd originally planned- from a monster climb and some exploring, to a fairly straightforward extension/variation of my usual coastal route- a couple of shortish hills and soem undulation, but otherwise flat. I was feeling very nervous and still a little bit funny in the chest and in my legs.

I had a GREAT run. It wasn't my fastest (I was a much faster 20-miler when I ran with A last year), but it was a perfect day, and I mostly felt fine. Not awesome, I wouldn't even say "strong", but "fine." Plus, I finished under target- I thought target was 3:10, so was relieved to come in at 3:09:50- but turns out target was 3:13, so I had a bit more leeway.

So, all in all am feeling OK. I'm going to be taking it easy for the next few weeks- fitting my key runs in, but mostly doing pilates and the odd easy trainer ride/swim otherwise. Work is going to stay crazy pretty much until I start my marathon time off, so I just need to keep healthy. I will focus on nutrition too- am on a candy detox until after the race!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sick really really sucks

Stop with the title stealing, Kate! This one's Tammy's..

Sick really sucks.

On Monday I felt great. On Tuesday I was congested, feverish and pathetic. On Wednesday and Thursday I tried to kick this cold into next year, but it hasn't happened yet. Now it's Friday and I haven't exercised for two days. I'm feeling nauseous from the cold/congestion and bloated from the carbs I've been chowing down on. I'm still feeling too sick to move my butt and I'm really worried about my 20-miler scheduled for tomorrow. I don't know whether to do it, postpone it (til Sunday/Monday or next weekend- though that will mean doing it in a different city the day before a 4k tri-run). Any ideas? Oh- and between now and Tuesday, I have to review several thousand documents.

I am glad this has happened now, and not next week- you know you're a grown up when you're glad to be sick on Easter, because at least it interferes less with work- but I'm still grouchy that it had to happen! I'm hoping that the enforced rest will do me good, that my fitness won't go glug glug down the gurgler and that this growing "doughnut" (thanks E-speed) will keep me moving in.. Yes… TWENTY TWO DAYS TIME!

Update: went for a short run. still sick. but legs remembered what to do (sort of). am going to get a good night's sleep and see how I feel tomorrow morning- if I'm still congested I will postpone til Sunday/Monday and will head into work instead- oh joy

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Replay (subtitle: effin exponents!)

Yesterday I finished my first trail half-marathon. I've never run on trails before, so I wasn't really prepared for the difference it would make to my time. I'm happy to have at least finished in less than 2 hours, even if 1:59:05 is cutting it pretty fine, and is 5 minutes slower than my first (and, until now, slowest) half.

The trails out in the Waitarere forest are gorgeous, and the running is mostly easyish- it's hard to go fast, but they aren't insanely hilly like the trails nearer to home. At one point we emerged from the edge of the forest to overlook the Manawatu river, which was breathtaking (it's actually pretty bog standard as rivers go, but something about the light catching on it made me forget about running for a moment and to be thankful).

I spent the remainder of the day lounging at a bach (kiwi for beach house) that friends of a friend were staying in. They were incredibly friendly, and made me feel so welcome! I enjoyed a free ice cream from the local dairy (the BEST thing in a race pack EVER!), a walk on the beach, and hours reading books and chatting in the sun. All this on the last day of March! Absolute bliss.

Those last two words bring me to my next topic. Being a kiwi. It doesn't only mean I can use the word knackered without sounding tri-hard (at least, I hope I don't sound try-hard--guys?). This evening, I decided Masters was not what I wanted to be doing. I knew my legs would let me down and that I'd leave feeling demoralised, yet again, so I pulled the plug (well, not literally.. though when I went to meet my little sis at the pool today, that's exactly what had happened- there had been a "faecal accident"... eww)

So instead I decided to do an easy run. Although I am loving a lot of what FIRST is doing for me, it has led to me taking a lot of the joy and spontaneity of my running. My "runner's high" posts have always been about how fast I am, not about how good I feel (actually, there was one of the latter, I think). So tonight, I headed out into the headwind to find my absolute bliss.*

I ran for about an hour, unplugged from numbers, but plugged into my music. I ran down the hill chilling to some mellowish rock (Weezer, Alanis, Foo Fighters) and then decided that this NZ and Kate Appeciation Run needed a Classic Happy to be a Kiwi Soundtrack. Our trip started with Fourmyula's "Nature", continued through Crowded House's "Don't dream, it's over", had a brief stop off at Bic Runga's simply beautiful "Sway", and cruised along with "Slice of Heaven." I love Kiwi music- all you yanks and poms just don't know what you're missing out on!

Well, now you do.. Sorta. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Then "Victoria" finished and I knew that for the rest of the run I'd be a one-band girl. I love love LOVE the Exponents. Unfortunately, I love them too much! With the help of "Airway Spies" I'd literally bounded up the first bit of hill and started the next bit (a bit I'd planned to bypass) without realising it. Before I knew it, "All I can do" and "I'll say goodbye" had pushed me up the next bit, and I'd crossed the Rubicon*** Alea jacta est- it was time to head up to The Lookout. That involves running the hard way home and an EXTRA bit of hill at the top. Insane. Those effin exponents! I'd planned an easy half hour with a walk up the "easy" hill at the end. But I couldn't stop my feet. It was a real Forrest Gump, Fascinating Rhythm moment. I bounced up the steps(rather awkwardly- they're a bit wide/long/whatever to really run up- too small for two steps, two big for one) and reached the top, gasping and filled with happiness. Rather appropriately, the song playing for this last triumph was "Why does love do this to me?" I love living in Wellington! It's amazing to look over the whole city at night- truly spectacular.

The good thing about running in the dark and when no-one else is around? If you happen to bust a few moves mid-run, NO-ONE SEES.

*"Absolute Bliss" is also the title of one of P's compilation kiwi music albums, (actually not the one I listened to, I like Nature's Best better).
** I heart footnotes.
*** Wow- a classical reference and a NZ pun for the TWO of you who'll get it.