Thursday, September 27, 2007


My running's been a bit of a mess this week- it took awhile for my legs to get back into it after Saturday's run (I ran like an eighty year old on Sunday and Monday), I haven't been sleeping well and have been slacking off in the mornings, and I've been busy enough at work to slack off in the evenings too. No excuses- I've been a bad girl and I accept that- just context.

Anyway, last night was Test #2, and a chance to redeem myself. 10 miles at PMP, number 2. Would it be better than last time? Would it be easier? I'm working in Auckland, so decided to explore the half of the marathon that I haven't run before (the second half). It's a reasonably flat out and back around the bays, so I wasn't too worried about it, but it was nice to have a go and see what it was like.

I left work around 6 and changed quickly at the hotel. It's lovely being 5 minutes away from everywhere! Once I reached the waterfront, I settled into a nice, easy-but-working-a-little, pace. I'd mapped out a route, but started a wee way into it, so decided to do 45ish minutes out, run back and map it later, so I had very little idea of pace/distance etc for the first little bit.

The night was beautiful- lovely and clear. I really enjoyed running in a familiar but different area- round the bays, just like Wellington, but with the sun setting over the sky tower, Rangitoto to my left, cloaked in eerie clouds, and the moon in front of me, shining over the sea. It really was quite amazing.

A little over a mile in, I noticed k markers (it was number 2- I imagine number 1 was around the beginning of my planned route), and started keeping a vague eye on my pace. I seemed to be doing well, hitting each k in 5:15-5:30 (5:30/k is PMP), and feeling just right. Strong, but not fast. I decided I might as well keep it up.

I got to a suitable looking turnaround point at 44:13 so stopped and checked out some uber expensive real estate ads while I stretched my calves a bit, then headed back. The way back was a bit more of a mental struggle, and the Sky Tower taunted me, sometimes looking so close I could touch it, sometimes looking far off into the distance. Looking over the harbour reminded me just how FAR that first half is, and looking at the lights on the bridge filled me with the same dread I felt before the half in 2005. It just looks BIG. Plus, it was dark. I couldn't see where I was going very well, and it was hard to spot other runners or roller bladers coming towards me.

But I still seemed to be doing ok, and I wasn't feeling too bad at all. At one point I played "count my strides" for a few minutes. I read last week in an old runners world that the optimal pace is 180 strides per minute, and each time I've tested it I've counted between 175 and 183. Sweet! It's a good way to get through a boring part of a run. Count for a minute, wait for a minute, count, wait, count. All of a sudden, you've gotten through another 5 minutes.

I reached my starting point at 44:14. Close to perfectly even splits!

Then this morning, I mapped my run, and it seems that in my 1:28:30, I covered 10.3 miles for 8:35 pace. A bit under goal (8:45-8:48), but I think I passed. It's great to have that pace seem "easy" again, and I'm pretty confident that I COULD race a half sub-8, and that all going to plan, I COULD hold sub-9 (at least) for 26.2

A few mental notes:

- be prepared to self motivate over the baby bridges. They are not high, but they are not flat either, and they have the potential to hurt
- watch out for the Pohutukawas (low hanging branches- I actually bumped my head. SERIOUSLY)
- enjoy the view on the way back- feel proud that you started in Devonport three hours ago and enjoy the massive view of the distance you've covered
- try not to look at the evil sky tower- look at what's been, not towards the end
- once you finish the scenic part, you're nearly home. LOVE IT

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.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Did you know baby koalas eat their mothers' poop?

They do, it's true. It's a special kind of poo, but it's poo nonetheless. It's to help them learn to live off eucalyptus leaves. I think that's the best thing I learnt in Australia.

I did my 10-mile PMP run on Weds night. It always feels like a test, but I'm never sure what the pass grade is. I did my 10 miles in 1:27, which is veeery slightly under my goal of 1:28. 8:42 pace would mean a 3:48 marathon. But it didn't feel like marathon effort. PMP should feel pathetically slow for 10-miles, and it was work. Not hard work, but work. But I was in the beginning phases of a cold, so maybe that's what made it work. I don't know. I do know I will not be going out with the 3:45 pace group (Auckland has 3:45 and 4:00). I will make 3:50 and 3:55 pace bands, I think. It's hard to know where I am. So many good long runs, and some ok faster runs, but training has been so f'd up.

6 weeks to go. Three more long runs to taper and I missed this weekend's long run (just 15). I missed this week's speedwork too, and only did one run other than the 10-miler (5ish miles, easy). I'm sick and pathetic with one of my silly headcolds. It's horrible feeling so bad that I'm not even jealous of P's wonderful ride yesterday, or of the runners we saw in the twilight around the South Coast last night. Yuck. PLEEEASE let it all snap back together next week!

Another thing I learned: when I wear my running shorts to work out, I look sporty. When I throw a hoody on and catch the bus home, I look sporty (and a little gross). When I wear my new hot pink skirt to work out, I look sporty (and cute). But...when I throw on a hoody and catch the bus home, I look like a tarty girl in a short hot pink skirt. It took me awhile to figure out what all the staring was about.

Not much to say, sorry! Knock wood for a kick ass next 6 weeks!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Popping my Makara cherry and other happenings...

Since my last post (and in no particular order)...

- I ran a distinctly average 5k (23:02)
- I spent a week of fun-in-the-sun on the Gold Coast. But for "sun" substitute "rain"
- and to expand on the "fun" part I mean koala cuddling, baby koala watching (so cute), wombat watching, kangaroo feeding (so soft!), kangaroo eating (so yummy!), water park fun and roller coaster riding, boy cuddling (best part), cabaret viewing (sooo average), discount mall shopping, skirt running (sooo pink!), beach running (and meeting a Scottish team member)...

- I fell for Brisbane, and fell for P all over again (aww.. so cute)
- My Nana got sick, and I rushed to Auckland to say goodbye.
- I was too late.*
- I did an(other) epic 21 miler around the hilly and windy backroads with my "new" long run pardner, Ed. The Makara loop is what makes you a real marathon runner in Wellington, and we were chuffed to have lost our Makara virginities! The long runs go down a bit for the next week or two.. Phew!
- I watched P's team win their hockey final. Go P!

*I hope it doesn't look like this was the least important part of the last couple of weeks. It's not that. Just that I don't have any more to share about it.