SIDS Stampede

SIDS Stampede is organised by the Richmond Runners club and is a nice little event run around the quiet country roads of Windsor.

I was in for the half and Phill in the 5km.

This race was an experiment as I was going to run entirely by feel. Im normally so focussed on an arbitary time so I wanted to see how i’d perform using this method. I still wore my garmin so i could review after the race, but i flipped it upside down on race day.

Going into the race, i thought 76 minutes would be a top result given my lack of speed work.

After a quick first kay, I settled into it and ran at a pace I thought I could maintain for the entire race. There was a lead bicycle showing me the route so I just concentrated on that. My cadence felt good and I was enjoying it. At the halfway turn around Wayne Calvert was about a minute or so back and looking good. We high fived and settled back into it.
Effort levels felt the same and it was fun seeing all the other runners.

77.16 for the finish which wasnt all that bad, not magical but I felt damn good at the end. Looking at my splits at the end I was getting quicker and quicker as the race progressed so it was a fair negative split.

This was one of the most enjoyable races and I think that boils down to the fact that I wasnt chasing a time, just running for fun. Had I looked at my watch towards the end I may have been able to sneak under 77 but who cares.

Special mention to Phill for her run too – she looked great out there and fresh at the finish!

M7 Marathon – 2015

This is just a quick race report before i forget the day entirely.
The M7 was my first ever marathon and remember battling on to a 2.48 finsh which I was quite surprised with.

Since then, I’ve run a 2.41 at Gold Coast and a 2.34 last year at Melbourne. So I was keen to keep the sub 2.50 streak alive.

I entered this race a week before, certainly not a goal race by any stretch. After doing more hill work than ever and no fast stuff I thought this would be a good test.

The strategy was to get to half way feeling comfortable and then hopefully push for home if I was feeling ok. Well thats what happened. 82 minutes for halfway and then 80 to the finish. More than happy with 2.42 off the cuff and I think i potentially had a 2.39 in me had I been more aggresive at the start.

As the race bore on i grew in strength so thats a big positive. The legs were lacking in speed but a few weeks of concentrated speed/interval sessions would bring that back – not the focus for this year though as thats not going to do any good at Hounslow!

Glenbrook Marathon

I’m a glutton for punishment which is why i was back at the Glenbrook Marathon this year.

My sole ambition was to break 3 hours which isnt as straightforward as it sounds on a trail course with 800+ meters of vertical.

Last year I came close, in fact I did break 3 hours for the proper marathon distance (42.2km) however the course was long measuring over 43.5kms which pushed my finishing time out to just over 3 hours.
That year I was racing Andy Lee – no slouch and he kept me focus the entire race as I only passed him with a couple of kilometers to go.

I recall (after reading the race report) that I went through half way in 90 minutes so that was the focus this year to ensure I had a chance of cracking that magical barrier.

Before the start Luke Doyle advised that the course was measured correctly this year so sub 3 was on! Sadly Andy Lee or other fast regulars hadn’t signed up so I wasnt sure who my competition would be. Of course Ewan was there but Strava stalking showed that he had 40km+ in his legs from the day before. I did see Philip Balnave at the start. This guy is a bit of an enigma. I’ve met him a few times at races and he is a gun runner with a 2.40 road marathon to his name. If you were to look at him you would think he had just stepped out of his garden after doing a spot of gardening. Think bucket hat, casual shirt and sandals! Looks like a nutter but he can definitely run. A nice guy to boot.
I knew he would be a challenger and one to watch.

With that in mind we set off at about 7.45. The start was fast as I dialled in on the task at hand. The first half of the course I feel is harder than the 2nd half so 90 minutes for halfway would be a challenge and more so without having Andy to chase. I didnt feel as fast as last year and felt like i was working harder to hold pace – in fact I really had to push it to get to halfway in 90 minutes. Once through that part I knew if I’d need to bank time on the downhills for the inevitable trudge up the inclines on sapped legs.

The run to the Nepean turnaround felt great as I got my second wind. Its a nice out and back section and I pushed hard in the hope of getting onto the Pisgah trail before seeing anyone which would mean i was a few kilometers in front. These mini goals really help to maintain focus and make the race fun.

The Pisgah trail is 4 kilometers out and 4 kilometers back of overgrown single track badness. Its a gradual downhill until the turnaround then a gradual uphill. At one point I pulled 3 thorns out of my face but other than that it was uneventful…which is a good thing.

As expected, I saw Philip Balnave crusing as I was on my return. I calculated that I was 3-4 kilometers in front by that stage so barring a disaster I had the win in the bag.

From the Pisgah turnaround its an uphill grind to the 35 kilometer mark. It was hard work as my legs were feeling it by this stage. I even had a 10 second walk up a short steep stretch before pushing on.

Thankfully, the downhill cruise begun and i calculated that i just needed to tick over 4 minute kilometers to get in under 3 hours. I was wary of pushing to hard as last year I started to really cramp up so I was doing just enough to ensure I made it to the finish. With 1 kilometer to go the cramps started to kick in but I was more or less home and dry so it didnt have too much of an impact.

I was a happy camper as I crossed the line in a touch over 2.57.

On reflection the race felt easier on my body than last year. I didnt drink all of the water in my bottle whereas last year I had a couple of refills and stocked up on food at a number of the checkpoints – so thats an improvement. No leg pain or cramping at the finish unlike at 6 Foot where i was hurting for a good 20 minutes after – so i might starting to be getting into shape.

The Running Wild guys put on a great event and id encourage anyone to turn up and give their series a crack.

6 Foot Track Marathon – 2015

I’d been wanting to race this one for the last few years, however the race has always coincided with weddings. Fortunately this year the wedding was the week before so it was game on.

As per usual my training really didn’t stack up to anything special. I averaged about 60 kilometers per week over the 12 weeks leading up to the race. Not ideal but it seems to be the norm for me the last couple of years – the motivation to run every day isn’t really there. Weekly training consisted of 3 sometimes 4 commute runs averaging 11 kilometer a piece with a hard, solid long run on the weekend.

In the race lead-up there was some great banter on the NSWIB facebook page which was a pleasure to be part of. I was ambitiously predicted to run 3.35 which I think was more of a ploy to encourage me to smash myself to the river. I felt 3.35 could be achievable but not off my piss poor training – anything under 3.50 i’d be happy with for debut.

On to race day and I was super pumped to catch up with all the Beer Betters finally. There was a great buzz around the start line. There was some talk about Nellies Glen being wet and slippery so I was a bit apprehensive about wearing my road shoes but there was no going back now. I lined up on the front row in amongst all the studs and studdets. I felt a bit out of place but before I knew it the frantic race to the stairs began. I had in mind a target of 1.07 to the river. After a bit of shoving and hard running I settled in behind Hanny Allston down the stairs. The pace felt really comfortable which was a welcome surprise. This was the part I was fearing the most as I’m rubbish at descending but I came out unscathed. Once on the fire trail I was able to stretch out a bit and ran along with Tony Fattorini then Andrew Tuckey. Chatting to Andrew we both agreed that the front runners were setting an awesome pace – as we certainly weren’t just jogging along.

Photo credit: Leonie Doyle

Photo credit: Leonie Doyle

Further along we caught up to Mark Lee and then Mick Donges. I was running behind Mick for a little while until he suddenly tripped and landed hard on his shoulder. He was rolling around clearly in unbelievable pain.Tucks and I stopped however being a few kilometers from any kind of support I told the guys that I’d run off to alert the volunteers that a man was down! I felt like a bit of scum bag running off and leaving Mick there but I had to get some help – i had no phone or first aid gear on me. Like a true champ though Tucks was more than willing to give up his own race to stay with Mick which shows the type of guy he is.

I was immensely relieved a few minutes later when I heard Tucks running behind me and soon passing me – i was glad that his race was still on (he recorded an awesome time which would have been a few minutes quicker had he not stopped – monster!). We alerted the volunteers of where Mick was and that was that (turns out that he had stitches, pneumothorax and ended up in hospital – poor bloke).

The river was crossed in 1.04 so i was slightly ahead of my goal pace but I was feeling good. The came the climb up Mini Mini Saddle. I passed Andy Lee at the start of the climb and then set out in pursuit of Tucks and Jono. This proved to be rather futile – they were both on fire and cruising. Meanwhile I was redlining and just hanging on. Looking back, my ego got the better of me and I probably would have been better off walking some of this section.

After finally cresting Mini Mini, Tucks and Jono were slowly pulling away and I was well and truly in the hurt locker in complete oxygen debt. I struggled on to Pluvi where Mitch Dean and Luke Preston shot by me. At this stage I had absolutely no climbing in me. All I could think about was being ridiculed by the Beer Betters as they would inevitably pass me curled up on the side of the trail – a thought too bad to bear!

Moving up Pluvi, Mitch Dean was gone but Luke was still in my sights. I tried to focus on not letting him get away so I would try and run for a few seconds before surrending to walking. However I only let myself walk for 10 seconds before trying to break out into a run again. I was feeling completely hopeless and surprised that no-one else had passed me. I dared not look behind me. In training I had climbed Pluvi with relative ease a few times, this time though I felt like I was going backwards.

Finally at the top of Pluvi the volunteers said I was in 8th. I didn’t think anything of that as I knew I’d be relinquishing my position pretty soon. The climb from Cox’s to the top of Pluvi took 1 hour, so 2 hours 5 total race time. Noting this time gave me a bit of a boost as I figured if I could just keep moving I might still be able to do ok. I thought I was much further off the pace. I was glad not to be climbing however the douche grade still felt harder than it should. There are still some climbs peppered along here which I had to walk. I really couldn’t believe the amount of walking I was doing – but when I was running the pace was low 4 min/km’s so that kept me in the game a bit.

Along the Black Range the dreaded cramps started to kick in. I was expecting them as I tend to suffer from cramps If I havent done the appropriate training – just a lack of conditioning. The cramps were teasing me at first and then ultimately I had to stop and stretch out every couple of kilometers.

Slowly but surely the race was nearing an end and I was becoming more and more disabled! The adductors went, calfs had gone and the hamstrings were cramping. Hugely frustrating as there was so much good, easy running to be had – but I just couldnt take advantage of it.

photo credit: James Creer

photo credit: James Creer

Finally on the steep rocky descent Robbie Neil flew past me. He bombed the descent like a rocket and there was nothing I could do, there was no fight in me. Then running down the paved path to the finish Hanny screamed from behind for me to let her past as she was trying to break the record. She was probably wondering who the guy in front doing a robot impression was! I gladly let her pass and then finally I was done!

The atmosphere at the finish was superb, such a great vibe!

Chuffed to bits to see the time, 3.35, but now i’ve run the course I know what to do for next time. I can’t wait to go back!

Bare Creek Trail Race – 10km

The last 3 weeks since Melbourne Marathon have been on the easy side running wise. With the 6ft Track Marathon in March I won’t be worrying about getting the miles in until after Christmas – just nice easy running when I went for the next couple of months. Weekly totals have been 53, 80 and 41 kilometers respectively.

Today i lined up for the Bare Creek Trail Race. This is a cool little race in St Ives run on the trails I regularly train on. Generally a tough little course and I was expecting a battle. I last run this a few years ago and paid the price for going out too hard – it was ugly. This year was going to be different.

Unfortunately once I got to the start it turned out that arsonists had started fires in a number of areas on the course during the night so as it was a crime scene a new course was set up – i was impressed the race was still on.

The new course was probably slightly easier with a touch more road.

The start was frantic with an early 3.16 kilometer. My plan was not to go 100%, I wanted to just do enough to win if possible (of course if that meant going all out then i would). I was in about 5th place until the 3 kilometer mark when I thought I’d push on. There was a lot of heavy breathing around me and knowing the course well I knew I’d probably put a fair gap on people during the climb after at the 5km mark. Thats essentially what happened.

I only took one fall so that was a result in itself. I finished up in a touch over 39 minutes with second place another minute back. I even won a Compex Runner muscle stimulation machine!

Running next week will be light on. The house move is taking place on Tuesday and I cannot wait!’burbs here we come!

Melbourne Marathon 2014 – Race Report

I’d been looking forward to this weekend for a long time and it didn’t disappoint.

Phill and I flew into Melbourne on Saturday afternoon and I spent some time walking around the city, met my godfather and his wife for a coffee and picked up 4 energy gels for the race. I went for endura as it was a choice of that or Gu in Rebel Sport and endura is a bit runnier and easier to get down without fluid.

I set my alarm for 4am as I heeded WatchDog’s advice of not needing a pee at the start line which often happens for me. So i probably had about 500 mls of water and a bowl of museli and yoghurt in 30 seconds and then went back to bed until my alarm went off at 6am. All i then had was a small cup of coffee before jogging down to the start line.

The weather was cool with highs expected of 28 later in the afternoon.

I made my way to the preferred starters section and had a quick chat with Gary Mullins whist we waited anxiously for the start.

My plan was to hit half way in 1 hour 16 minutes and 30 seconds. I knew I would likely fade in the back half but I desperately wanted to break 2.35.

My nutrition plan was 4 gels to be consumed at 7 kilometers, 15 kilometers, 24 kilometers and 30 kilometers. No science to that, just something i decided on the start line.

Before I knew it we were off. I soon found myself running in a small group with the lead female at the time, Sinead Diver. Its a known fact that women pace better than men so I thought it wouldn’t do me any harm trying to stick with Sinead given our pace was similar.

The first 5 km’s ticked by in 18.06 according to garmin which ended up overshooting by 300 meters in the end which seems to be the norm.

The next 5 km’s were slightly quicker, 17.51 but there didn’t appear to be any noticeable increase in pace. I was making sure to grab water at every aid station. Water and hydralyte was being handed out in small plastic cups. When you are running at pace the most you can hope to successfully retrieve is a small gulp as the majority is list in the handover! Because of that, i really couldnt have had much more than 300 ml’s over the course of the race.

The next 5 kilometers went by in 17.52 and so far so good. At times I remember looking at my watch and thinking I must be flying along and then seeing my average pace hovering around 3.45’s! Not a great feeling. Whilst I was still moving well I could definitely notice some tightness in the legs.

My garmin beeped at the 21.1km mark and showed a time of 1hr 15 minutes 30 seconds however I crossed the official half marathon signage on the course pretty much dead on 1 hour 16 and 30 seconds. This gave me a boost although I was hoping that things would be feeling a little easier at this stage – truth be told I was starting to hurt. This is evident as my 5 kilometer split from 20 – 25 was 18.15.

During this stage we were overtaken by Nikki Chappel who went on to dominate the womens race and win comfortably. I remember noticing the definition in her hammys as she ran past, pretty impressive! I didn’t even bother trying to hang on to her pace, that would have been suicidal.

The 25 – 30 kilometer split was 18.12 and the small pack I was running with started to drift apart. I was now trailing Sinead and she was beginning to stretch the elastic!

I hit my lowest point going through the 30 – 35 kilometer section. I entertained thoughts of pulling out or at least walking through the drink stations. I was really struggling. That 5 kilometer split was 18.18 so a significant slow down.

Now it was game on. I had to think back to all the hard sessions i’ve done, did I really want to give up now. Sinead was still only 20 meters or so in front of me. Having her there gave me something to concentrate on. But boy was I hurting!

My slowest split of the day was between 35 – 40 kilometers. 18.48. I was doing everything in my power to keep my splits under 4 minutes.

Then with 2.2 kilometers to go life became good again and I was able to lift myself out of my funk knowing I would make it. The goal now was to see if I could sneak in under 2.35 which thankfully I managed to do – 2 hours, 34 minutes and 35 seconds. Job done!

I then spent the day walking around Melbourne with Phill and she clocked up over 25,000 steps on her fitbit so that was a decent cool-down for me!

Achieving this time has given me hope that a 2.2x is doable in the not too distant future. I can’t keep doing what i’m doing though. There’ll be some training changes, probably the main change being my easy runs carried out at an easier pace and my quality runs done with more quality!

The next attempt will be to target 2.32 but I’ve no idea when I’ll have the chance to do that as my life is going to change dramatically next April as a mini-me or mini-phill is on it’s way. That being said, I have a chance of giving 6ft Track a real go and it’ll be nice to get back on the trails again.

With Gary at the finish. Goals hit. Happy chappies!

With Gary at the finish. Goals hit. Happy chappies!


Melbourne Marathon Pre Race Thoughts

So the Melbourne Marathon is almost here. I’m a mixture of excited and nervous,  but that’s a good thing.

The goal at the start of the year was to dip under 2 hours 40 minutes. My fitness after C2K took a nosedive as I took so much need R&R. My first race back  was the Iron Cove 14 kilometer race in March. Essentially a nice flat course and I had to work so hard to average 3.49’s per kilometer. I remember thinking straight after that race that there was no chance in hell that I’d be going under 2hours 40 in Melbourne.

However, over time the fitness increased and my muscle memory improved and I’m now in the position to believe that anything in the range of 2 hours 33 – 2 hours 36 minutes is possible. This is backed up by my 1 hour 13 half marathon in August in which I finished with a bit still left in the tank.

My training goal leading into this marathon was to average 100 kilometers a week. This hasn’t happened. Over the last 16 weeks, excluding October (taper time!) the average has been 83 kilometers a week. However, compared to 2012 where I ran my last PB of 2 hours 41, I’ve run a lot of these training kilometers at marathon pace or faster. In 2012 I also only averaged 70 kilometers a week so there is an improvement all round here.

The plan on Sunday is to keep it simple. I intend to tick off the early kilometers at 3.36 – 3.38 pace and really just try to hold on to that pace for as long as humanly possible. The course looks as though it becomes “hilly” after 30 kilometers which just so happens to be when the marathon starts to hurt – so I’ll be looking forward to seeing how much pain I can tolerate.

I’m fit however my fear is of cramping up in the later stages due to the lack of mileage. I’d be more confident going in with an average of 110 kilometers a week but that will be for another time and there isn’t much I can do about that now.

As long as I don’t do anything silly I should be ok….