Thursday, October 29, 2009

Umm... seems that whenever you plan to be slammed at work, and refocus your priorities so the goal is survival, work ends up being "not too bad, considering..."

This hasn't been an ideal taper week, but it hasn't been the hell I anticipated either. I've left the office by 8-8:30 every night so far, and it looks like tonight will be similar. Far from the all-nighters I was fearing.

So, (apart from the knee I dinged mountain biking) there's no excuses this weekend!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Not too bad, considering..."

I have unresolved issues with half marathons. After running a few in 2004-5, and kicking some serious heinie with a PR of 1:42, I sloooooowed. This year was to be the return of Kate the Speedy Half-Marathoner.

In August this year, I ran my first half marathon for ages. I was feeling great during the build up, until I spent the two weeks immediately preceding working late every night, did a cycle race I should have skipped, and predictably got slammed by a cold that knocked me down flat. My finish time of 1:54 was credible, but for me it was “not too bad, considering….”

In September, I ran my second half marathon for the year. It was a tough course, so I was hoping to equal or just beat my time from the August race. In the week leading up to the race, I got slammed with an unexpected increase in work, and a deadline I hadn’t seen coming (my job can be like that…) and- yup, you guessed it, raced sick. Finish time of 2:00:28 was a PW for me, but “not too bad, considering…”

On Sunday, my “A” half marathon is coming up. It’s my half-marathon PR course, and last time I ran it, I kicked out an easy 1:55 half, before kicking it to my marathon PR.

It’s not the be all and end all of my season (hello half ironman), but I’ve been looking forward to half-m redemption all year! And guess what? Due to reasons and deadlines beyond my control, it looks like I’ll be here late every night this week, including a loooong briefing session that won’t be started until after 6pm our time the night before the document is due. I’m living on immuno boosters, and doing what I can to take care of myself, but I know from experience that this is Not How You Taper.

I just want to go out there, and run and do my best. And if my best is slower than I’d hoped or involves starting too hard and crashing and burning, I’ll handle. But I don’t want another “not too bad, considering…”

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wetsuits wetsuits everywhere!

It's time to say so long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye to my dear Orca Evo.

The Orca Evo was my first wetsuit, and the first real "investment" in my triathlon career. It's seen me through 4 sprint tris, 2 (roughly) Olympic distances, a half ironman, two or three aquathlons and an Ocean Swim. But last year I realised that I was swimming 1k in 17:00 in the pool, and 19:00 in the open water, whether lake or sea. Which was surprising, considering I'm not a nervous swimmer, and I LOVE the open water. What was also surprising was that I could whip my dear Hubbie's behind in the pool, but he would crush me when we raced.

I don't think the Orca is fully to blame for this, but as reasonably floaty woman, with a strong kick, OK technique, but not much upper body strength, flexibility in the shoulders is essential to me. And my entry level Orca just couldn't provide that. Plus, it's three years old now, and stiff as all hell!

So after our run last Sunday we hit up Swim T3 in Mt Eden. I wasn't sure whether I could face the whole trying on ordeal, but decided to bite the bullet. The very helpful salesman (I don't know your name buddy, but props to you for awesome service) asked what we were after, expressed his sympathy with regard to racing in the Evo, then eyed me up, turned to the other salesperson there and said:

"[let's call her] Amy, do we have any of the Sonar's in a men's size 5?"

Wait? What? MEN'S? I know I'm broad shouldered, but....

[Actually, I was pretty impressed. It seemed as if he was considering what would work best for me, as well as keeping an eye out for a good bargain, rather than just shoving me into the most expensive mid range suit and waving me off...]

So, for the next HOUR, I tried on a few [men's] suits by Orca and Speedo. And of course, each subsequent suit was harder to put on than the last because I was getting warmer and tireder. And I was also going down a size, so I was getting redder and redder and stickier and glowier every time I came out of the fitting room to be manhandled again. But eventually, I had it down to two (ok, I only tried on four...), so I tried them on again for a direct comparison and walked away with a Speedo STR Pro in my hot little hands.



.... until the next day, when Phil got an email from his old coach informing him that he had a sweet deal on some 2XU samples. And there was one in my (female) size. And boy, oh, boy, was the deal sweet. So I did what any impulsive triathlete does, and bought it.

And now I have three wetsuits.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to tell you're riding in New Zealand in spring

Lots to say, no time to write an epic, so here's the copout version!

1: You get drenched every 20 minutes (...ok.. maybe that's just Auckland...)
2:... but the sun dries you out before the next soaking... much so that you get sunburnt THROUGH THE HOLES IN YOUR GARMIN STRAP, and you end up with a hairtie tan-line on your wrist.

4: There are wee baby sheeps* and cows in all the paddocks...
5:...and a higher than average number of dead pukekos on the road.

6: There are headwinds...
7:...and cross winds...
8:...and winds from everywhich way all at the same time**...
9:...and when the winds stop swooping around your head, the magpies start.

and last but not least...

10: There's a sausage sizzle at your planned rest point (and they were perfect)

*For my facebook friends: On our way out, we were riding along and heard a poor wee bleating its little heart out. I made Phil stop and investigate, and we found it stuck in a ditch on the road side of a fence. We tried to rescue it for about 5 to 10 minutes, but it was a bit too far down the bank to get to it, so we reluctantly left. On the way back, the poor wee thing was still crying when I rode past (we were riding separately), which nearly broke my little heart in two. Fortunately, not much later I ran into a farmer and told him about it. And then a few minutes later Phil did the same thing...I think he might have thought we were crazy, but I couldn't bear the thought of the lamb crying for another few hours!

** I'm from Wellington, and I thought I knew wind. But I have never ridden in wind like this before! It wasn't quite as strong as Welly's gusts, but it was consistent, and it was EVERYWHERE. In Welly, you generally lose the worst of the wind when you're climbing, but on Sunday we were battling headwinds the whole way back. The not too awful climbs became some of the toughest, most soul destroying I've done, and on one descent (which I normally do at 40km/h+) I had to actually go down a gear so I could actually move my legs around!

***Here's some charts- cos we all love charts!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Field trip!

On Sunday, we went on a Field Trip!

I have been running occasionally with various girls from work, also training for the upcoming Auckland Half (or full) Marathon. It's been great to get motivated to get out after work, and I've gotten to know a few of the girls much better, which is great!

For those who don't know, the Auckland marathon and half marathon are on a point to point course, running from Devonport on the North Shore back into town (for the half), then out around the bays in the other direction and back into town (for the full). To do this, the runners have the privilege of running over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, which is pretty much only open to foot traffic once a year. This means that for non-North Shore dwelling Aucklanders, the first part of the course is a bit of a mystery.

So, I decided to organise a wee field trip out with some of the running group. And Phil, of course! I originally hoped to catch the ferry to Devonport (because I adore the ferry), run to Northcote, and catch the ferry back from Birkenhead, but of course the Birkenhead ferries are complete rubbish during the weekend, so that was out. Eventually, we just decided to go for the "two cars" plan.

There were 5 of us in total, and we met at Stafford Park at about 10am, then organised ourselves and drove out to Devonport. One of the girls is doing her first half, and she looked a big ill as the drive to Devonport went ON and ON. Especially since we were going the SHORT way....

I had marked up my North Shore Cycle map (thanks again Maxx, you rule!), and prepared cheat sheets for each different group, so I handed these out, garmined up, bathroom tripped, and we were off!

Now, this is where my plan started to go haywire. See, part of the reason for the field trip was to put R's mind at ease about the hills. Because the first time I did the race (in 2005), I found the hills, including The Bridge, utterly anticlimactic. Of course, I had been training with Wellington Scottish all season, had been climbing some SERIOUS hills, and was in tip-top, killer PB shape (did I mention I ran a 1:42 that time?? Oh yeah.. I guess I did. A hundred times or so...) And the second time? Oh yeah, I was running at marathon pace, so I wasn't going to notice anything but a major incline.

This time, although the hills weren't exactly on a par with Arthur's Half, they did require some effort. The thing about these hills is that none of them is hard on its, but the cumulative effect can be to tire your legs out a bit. Luckily, the downhills are pretty easy, so there's no pounding on your quads from those. I think R was a bit disheartened. Especially as the sun emerged with a vengeance. And especially since 10:30am runs are impossible to manage foodwise, so we'd all used up all of our breakfast oats! It was only a 70 minute run, but it felt much longer!

But she persevered, and we made it back to Stafford Park, feeling fabulous, and happy with our average pace of exactly 6:00 minute ks over the 12km. Once we get to that point on race day, we'll be so excited about The Bridge that we'll barely feel the next few ks, and then we'll be heading for the finish, and waving at the brave marathoners (like Andrew and Aaron) as they continue their journeys.

2(.5) weeks to go!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Running the length of New Zealand

I can't believe I missed this!

Bruce McComb of Cambridge has almost completed the North Island stint of running from Cape Reinga to Bluff. He left the Cape on Monday 31 August and is scheduled to run the last leg from Invercargill to Bluff on Wednesday 14 October, arriving at 12noon. McComb aged 68 says that he is doing it because it is there. He starts each day at 6am and runs about 25km and starts again at 3pm and runs another 25km. McComb hopes to hit Wellington, having completed 1082km, in time to catch the 6pm sailing of the Cook Strait ferry. McComb has put up a challenge and is interested to know if there has ever been a runner older than 68 who has run the length of New Zealand.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Time for Goals!

I have finally entered the Rotorua Half Ironman.

I'd been putting off entering for months, as there was a very good chance that I would be mired in a huge case from October to December and unable to compete. Or even train. Or even keep my eyes open. But now I'm not, and I'm starting to feel my balance shift from LAWYER (and occasional triathlon doer) to Lawyer and recreational triathlete/gorilla.

I've got a jam packed event season leading up to the Half, and I'll hopefully continue the pattern when we get back from our European winter adventures in February.

Auckland Half Marathon, November 1:

A Goal: Sub 1:45
B Goal: Sub 1:50
C Goal: just make it to the start line healthy!?!

Last time I did the Auckland Half Marathon (on its own) I ran my all time PB of 1:42:35. One day, I hope to finally kick that time into oblivion, but I'm accepting now that it won't be this year.

I'd also like to see if I can maintain an AHR of 180+ for the half-m distance. My recent halves were in the high 170s, and I want to see what my "nail myself half-m effort" is in numerical terms!

Karapiro Half Ironman, November 14 (swim only):

A Goal: Sub 35
B Goal: Sub 38
C Goal: Work hard and come out knowing I've nailed myself!

I'm hopeless at open water racing, as anyone who read this blog last year may recall. Put me in a pool, and I can bust out a k in 17:00. Get me in a race, and I'm struggling to keep a 2:00/100 pace despite the wetsuits and the drafting and everything! That has got to change. It's not just an open water thing either- I'm pretty comfortable, and can hold my own in the company of swimmers who kick my butt in races.

Contact Tri-Series: Rotorua (November 22)

A Goal: Sub 3:15
B Goal: PB (sub 3:24)
C Goal: Don't come last in AG, like last year!

I loved/hated this race last year, and it was a great prep-race/test race for Rotorua. In fact, the bike leg was a pretty accurate prediction of 2nd-half-of-race pace for me, Phil, the Saint and Sub6 (the masochist who did the brutal bike leg in his own time)! Sub 3:15 would be a nearly-10 minute improvement on last year (I will really need to find an easier course to get myself a respectable Olympic Distance time!)

I'll leave sharing my A-race goals until I've completed all of these. 73 days out, I think I'm in much better shape than last year, but I have a long, long way to go yet.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A wet and wow weekend!

Wow! 6 1/2 hours of training this weekend. 70 miles travelled. 3500 calories burnt.

May be common place for some, but I can't think of the last time I did that much "proper" training (there was my epic weekend of mountain biking a couple of months ago, but the MTBing doesn't count).

On Saturday we tackled the Waitaks again.

We rode up to Titirangi, as usual, then split up for Scenic Drive. I don't believe in training PBs, but it's been driving me crazy that no matter the conditions, no matter how strong and fantastic I feel, I ALWAYS get to Parkinson's lookout in 1:28:xx. So a training PB of 1:26:47 while unimpressive was most satisfactory!

The loop takes about 3:20, so instead of coming back into town and killing time on Treacherous Tamaki, we explored Swanson instead. We had vague plans of riding up Carters, doing the summit again, and then heading back, but we never made it to Carters. Thank god- Carters is a bitch of a climb (the biggie from Arthurs Half), and the trip to the summit is the climb from about the 15 mile mark to the 18 mile mark on the graph above! No ta.

I felt pretty good on the way home, and Phil's average and normalised power were higher than last time, so I suspect I did better too.

After chilling and wandering for a few hours, we set out for workout number 2, a 1 hour run. I've been struggling with my tummy on our weekend runs recently. I think the Auckland weather has something to do with it- I cannot abide humidity! So, I'm pretty happy with 6ish minute ks at a truly aerobic AHR of 144.

This morning we headed out for a 1:30 run, including the usual 20 minute E2 effort. The plan was to run out around the bays for 25 minutes, do our intervals, then head into the Domain to see the ducklings.

Legs were knackered, and weather was abysmal (again).

Here you can see me starting slow, running fast for my 20 minutes, then slowing waaaaay down as we climbed Lovers' Walk, then the Garmin going mental as we ran back down along K Rd, dodged people in Edwardian costumes on Grafton Bridge and stopped at dozens of (well, several) street lights.

Not a bad run, all in all. Amazing how much easier it is to keep AHR in the aerobic happy-place when your legs are stuffed from 5 hours the previous day :)

Now, after an afternoon of coffee and Marian Keyes and a wee doze, it's time to get some DVDs, do some chores and get ready for the next training plan...