Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Big Day!

I did it!
It wasn't pretty, but it's over. And all I want to do is the next one.

It started with a pleasant Hauraki harbour cruise out to Home Bay, Motutapu. On the way we got a good close look at Rangitoto.

It doesn't look so big from here!

Not Remotely Intimidated

Here is a map of the route: Note that I am fairly certain about most of this but I don't really remember what happened between about 36km and 40km, it's all a painful blur.

Find more Run in Auckland

The map doesn't really do it justice... Check out this short vid from the clever people at 123runwild.  Note: I am not in the video!

Here are some shots I did manage to get in, though...
There were some notables on the course.  There were four people who have done all four previous Duals.  One guy was doing 7 marathons on seven continents in 28 days (world record attempt).  The Dual was his 4th in the sequence, and by the following day (minus direct travel time) he would be running a marathon in London.  His itinerary included travelling directly from the finish line to a waiting ferry to a waiting taxi to the airport where he had special dispensation to check in late for the flight to London.  No mention of a stop for a shower in there - lucky the person sitting next to him on the long-haul flight to the UK.  Yet another guy was there doing his seventh marathon on seven continents in seven years.  He picked the right run to finish on...
The first hill. I trained for these, you know...
The first 27km were kind of what I expected - certainly very hard, lots of climbs, stunning views, rocks.  But nothing I hadn't really prepared for.  I beat all the hills, including the Rangitoto summit (which was about  the 1/3 waypoint of the course) - but things got really "technical" after the climb up Rangitoto.  The descent was sharp, and the coastal track, about 8km around the southern edge of Rangitoto back to Motutapu, was an unending, toe crushing chain of jagged scoria.  Every stubbed left toe would bring the warning twinge of a right-leg cramp and vice versa.  About 10 days later the toenail on my right second toe is black and about ready to come off.
Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 way! Rocking it out.

I went to a lot of strange places on the last third of the course.  This comprised a big figure-8 loop back on Motutapu.  No rock.  Nothing steep.  Just long meandering climbs up and down big grassy hills.  Windswept.  Lonely.  The first 2/3 of the course had been shared by the other events - two mountainbike courses, a half marathon, and the shorter runs and walks.  Sometimes using the same trail, sometimes criss crossing, sometimes passing each other in opposite directions.  But always someone to follow or pass.  But the last third of the marathon (except for the excrutiating transit through the event base) was very isolated.  By that stage even the other marathon runners were few and far between - always someone about half a mile ahead, someone about half a mile behind, obviously struggling with some or all of the same mental and physical demons because they never seem to get away or get much closer.

I think I was on track until that 2/3 mark - probably got there in about 2.5 to 3 hours.  Then the wheels completely fell off, and I had cramp everywhere on and off for the rest of the course.  More on than off, truth be told, and every everywhere.  I thought I would give up - convinced that I couldn't survive the 32km decision point (where you have to run through the middle of the event base and past the finish line before heading out to do another 10km of tussocky hills).  But something (will, pride, adrenaline, fear, shame, some bizarre combination of all of these) was able to overcome the temptation and I pushed through.  I guess it was never really an option.  But on the course I regretted the decision from the 33km mark until I crested the final hill and descended into the event base for the second time, almost 2 hours of rediculous pain later.

I got a bad full leg cramp on a relatively steep descent just short of the 38km aid station, and fell.  It's an interesting sensation - aside from the pain - to have your legs just seize, just lock in mid-air, a mid-stride mechanical failure.  After the rather undignified tumble I was cast for a few horrifying seconds, lying in the damp grass, legs sticking out in the air, unable to push my toes against anything to alleviate the cramp as it spread from leg to leg and up my torso.  I had to roll over and just basically tilted myself up onto my rigid legs from a pressup position.  Actually a pretty nifty trick which I guess I pulled off out of sheer desperation.  At the aid station the marshall helpfully suggested I have a seat but I declined - I didn't think I would ever get up again if I stopped.

I also ran out of music at that point, so that must have marked 4:36.  With 4km still to go...
Finish line! I lost three hours in between those two photos... Lost time probably indicates aliens... I do feel probed.

In the end I posted 5:35, which is about an hour slower than I thought I wanted to go if I was going slow. 

At first I was very sore and grumpy and wanted to take the next ferry back to the mainland.  But I rinsed off in the ocean, and got outside of a cold Speights and, while I was getting a leg massage at the Body-Need tent, Don Macglashan got his set underway on the main stage.  I lay in the grass with beer and chips and blissed out to Don Macglashan and the trauma of the previous 5 hours kind of melted away.  All running should be this.  I caught the next ferry instead.

Rangitoto hides in cloud, refuses to look at me after the violent probing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Last Week Training - Tapering Off (strategically!)

So - the updates have been sparse but the training is ongoing... In the last week I have run one last long run, hit some hills and then eased off with a couple of relaxing "short" (7km) runs...

On the last long run I had to forego my 5:30am Paekakariki Hill climb because of a fatal car accident just down SH1 from my house (which was a sad and surreal scene to go jogging through, but there was nowhere else to go). All the SH1 traffic was being diverted along the hill road and frankly I figured they could do without a crazy guy running alongside them in the dark.

When I got to Paekakariki (8/28km) I set off the roadside speedometer!

(It must have been slightly downhill there - I don't generally do 13-15km/h over that distance!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Second to last week... eek

Well it seems like it is creeping up pretty quick now. I haven't done quite as many long runs as I planned but last week I posted a MONSTER 97.7km for the week, which is more than I get done in some months.

It all started with that 35km test run last week. Then at the end of the week I ran over half of it again - just the good half, the Paekakariki Hill Road. All to myself at 6am. It was worth it, just for the view:

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Long Run, Harder Questions

This week I had a half day in lieu to burn so I thought I would kick off the "Long Run" section of my marathon buildup. This may not fit more conventional wisdom which says I should be coming off the long runs about now. Well, for me there are two problems with that theory. The first is, I haven't been for any long runs yet. And the second is I think I should keep building UNTIL very nearly the event. Possibly even doing a 42+km next to last up, as long as I have a good recovery space before the big day.
This theory may not be a substitute for conventional wisdom. Or logistically possible. We shall see.
Anyway, I went out for a 35km loop on the South Kapiti coast. It looked like so:

The scenery, especially at the Paekakariki Hill summit about 12km in, was STUNNING. But I was kind of on a roll at that point (feeling pretty awesome, actually) and didn't want to slow down. Next time I go out there I will take photos.

Actually this is the furthest I have ever run. The time for the 35km was a fairly respectable 3:23. I think I probably put in upwards of 12-13km/h for most of the first half, and really lost the plot for the last 10km or so. In fact it was supposed to be 37.5km (loop all the way home) but I ran myself to a standstill with 2.5km still to go. I walked out the 2.5km but it took nearly 30 more minutes. This was a little bit disappointing but I'm taking it as a benchmark and a chance to put some other strategies in place.

First thing I am going to try (next long run, maybe this weekend) is some fluid and nutrient replacements at the 15-20km mark. On the marathon there will be water and gatorade or powerade stations, so that might do. But on this run I took nothing but my moxie and my iphone. My iphone ran out of songs about 10 minutes before I ran out of moxie.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week Two - Training and Travelling

This week I had to hit the road for work. 2 days in South Australia and 2 days in New South Wales.

Training on the road is always a challenge - there's work commitments, time differences, climate, bad food, minibars... Lots of distractions.

When you're travelling you have just got to make the time. When I am really hosed by the climate or the time difference I try to make sure I am staying in hotels with a decent treadmill in their excersize room. But ideally I'll get out on the road and actually see somewhere new. On previous work trips I've run the Torrens River trails in Adelaide, the Cherry/Platte Creek in Denver, the Interurban Trail in Tukwila, WA., The Queen Anne Hill and Seattle waterfront, around the San Andreas lake in South San Francisco... Sometimes it is really the only way to form a lasting impression of a place, especially when your workday is spent in bunker-like communications centres.

So I still managed to bank 70km for the week, boosted by 20 in SA and 10 in NSW.
In Adelaide the first day I ran all the way around the main parks south of the city centre - 10km around. And the next day, to mix it up a little, I ran the opposite direction. Adelaide is gearing up for the Clipsal 500 (the Adelaide leg of the Australian Touring V8 Supercars) so running there through the partially closed streets, in front of temporary grandstands, crossing nascent pit lanes and negotiating crash barriers that are growing up like mushrooms insinuating themselves between the trees and the footpaths, it really felt like I was taking part in some kind of event. An event for very slow sweaty runners who trip over tree roots on the root-buckled gravel trails. Yes, I did manage to trip over on the last mile of the second run. I sprawled out hands and knees into the gravel - classic PAFO wounds: palms and knees full of sharp gravel and dust. No pain no pain, as they say.

I love running in new places. I've never been to Sydney before, so I went for an exploratory jog.
It looked like so:

Of course I had to do the touristy stuff: here is the Harbour Bridge (from the Opera House).

And here is the Opera house, from the harbour bridge:

And here is a rather nifty 360 degree panorama of both of them, from the other side of the bridge.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Week Two - Day One: Half Marathon

This morning I went out in the dark and ran a fairly sketchy coastal half marathon before breakfast because *flicks hair* "that's kind of my life now".

The back 10k stretch is wild west coast mixture of ankle snapping rock scramble to miles and miles of strength tapping pebbles like these:

It goes crunch crunch crunch crunch...

It took 2 hours and 8 minutes. Probably 19 minutes longer than I wanted it to take. I think the last 2km were the whole extra 19 minutes - an extra loop down to the beach and back up the Goat Track to Rawhiti road.

Week One Wrap

Training week one: done. This week I ran 50.4km, peaking on day 2 with that 18.5km.
Had some other milestones this week, though. Ran my first "O'Hagan's" 5km.
Posted a respectable (if not as quick as I wanted) 21:24. There is even documentary evidence (search up my name!). The O'Hagan's is a flat 5km out-and-back that zig-zags around the Auckland waterfront, from the upmarket seafood dining viaduct to the oil soaked atmosphere of the tank farm.

Of course it starts and ends at a very pleasant Irish pub, and your registration fee covers your first drink. I'm on the raspberry and cokes for now, but good value nonetheless. And there are a few bottles of wine going for spot prizes, and I managed to win one.

Also this week I got to go for a run with friend and training partner on his first run back on the recovery path from a serious accident a couple of months ago. That was somewhat special, being his first run back, so I was glad I didn't blow him off to have free lunchtime burgers at work. (Don't worry, I got my free burgers after the run, I just ate them cold during my afternoon meeting). Of course, I am all about running to repair and rehabilitate (my opinion should probably not be taken as a substitute for qualified medical advice). And, having run a marathon or two himself, he had some sound advice for me regarding the programme I should put in place in the leadup to this run, and gave me a well needed reality check about my completion time expectations.
What else happened this week... Well I didn't lose a pound of weight but I am pretty much free-feeding and maintaining the same weight so that probably makes sense. I would like to be about 5-8 kilos lighter by the big day; I expect it would help a lot to not be carrying that much gear. So I will look at putting some structure in the diet next week.