My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Wellington Marathon 10km 2015

Last Sunday was the 30th Annual Wellington Marathon. The course follows the waterfront and starts and ends at Westpac Stadium (UP A RAMP!).

I went to the start line early so I could see my friend and training buddy Ayesha set out for the half marathon, see the short video above for my awkward squeaky cheer.

For my own race I had a goal of sub 40 minutes, it didn’t seem unrealistic but it was a lot faster than my previous personal best of 42.10.

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Pre-race Kewpie pose

I lined up at the start back a few rows and sized up the competition. You can never tell how fast people are when you’re just standing there, skinny people might just be skinny and not fast, you really have to know someone to pick their ability. I assumed (safely, very safely, did I mention I made a massive correct assumptive assumption) that the two girls standing stiffly at the front of the start line wearing enormous Beats by Dre headphones and adjusting their ipod arm bands would not be in front of me after the gun went. Several nipple-high kids were also lined up across front waiting for their 200 metres of glory. Had I not been feeling so chipper I would have willed them to be trampled; kids on the start line are a hazard.

I thought that I should try to stick with Gabby (lol Amanda, lol) but changed that plan after about 400m and just ran. The first 2km were a bit too fast at 3.50 pace then I struggled to hit 4 minutes after that. I ran with Haleigh until the 5km mark where she left me behind to run in to second place. I was in fourth which is good by my standards so just tried to keep going fast enough that I wasn’t losing places or looking unco in front of the GIANT SCREEN that played a live feed of the runners. Was this really necessary in the final 1500m? I looked horrific. I ended up passing the colour-coordinated Alice (who will be an awesome training partner this summer) and coming home third in 41.03. Full results of the race here.

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Hi my name is legs

What I learned from this race;

  • When short shorts get too lose they disappear in to your crack
  • Less clothing is more when you are running shorter distances
  • Wind can make or break your time
  • Ruby Muir is a tank
  • Seeing your friend cheer for you makes you go so much faster, cheers Larna, Sophie, Ben and Karin
  • I WILL NEVER BE SATISFIED WITH MY TIME!

I have been training pretty solidly since March when I was allowed to run again, and have just got out of the ‘building’ phase and started training that includes more speed work. I don’t think I had done enough to be able to pace myself through a good 10km race. It’s a lot different to running a half marathon where you can relax enough in to it to cruise along and talk, and not like a 5km when your lungs explode the whole way. It’s somewhere in the middle and I’m not use to it at all!

There is a huge difference between a 4.15 pace and a 4 minute pace. The closer you get to that threshold the harder you have to work for every second. When the wind is against you that extra 5 seconds per km pushing you back has a big impact.

I’m off to Vietnam for a month and will try to stay fit there so I can get closer to 40 in the Wellington Road Champs in August. I forsee a lot of treadmills or midnight runs happening in the next month.

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Scottish team mate Dorota

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There is no such race as a non-race

Word of advice, don’t enter a race with the idea that you are ‘not going to race it’.

You’re either bitching out and making an excuse to go slow, or you are a delusional post-injury runner who thinks that they learned something from seven months off and will take things easy now.

THE NON-RACE

Turn up to the Scottish Waterfront 5km race with the idea that you will be a supporter. You’re the Captain of the women’s team now so you need to be present, and clapping, and smiley. Pay $8 for the entry, to you know, give the club some extra cash because you are such a good person.

You’re going to be sensible today, you didn’t do the 16km that was on your training plan because you are still getting over the horrendous cold that put you out of action for two weeks. (The cold that lasted for two weeks because you kept trying to run before you were better, and running in the rain, and just being an idiot in general).

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A demonstration of my new and improved running form after two sick weeks

Oh look, you’re already in your running gear! Co-inkydink? I think not. Let’s just jog it you say to yourself, you can feel your eye twitch because you know you’re lying. Coach Kevin says that if you must run, it is best to run with the 25 minute plus group so that you aren’t tempted to race.

With each minute that passes before the start time you adjust your goal pace to be a second faster, arriving at a still quite sensible pace of 4.45 per km. Sensible for the runner recovering from a chest cough, green snot and stress fracture? Yeah sure!

You don’t warm up because you don’t need to before this non-race, because you are going to jog it.

This is the sort of logic you are using

This is the sort of logic you are using

Set the scene: You are standing amongst a gangle of 17 year old boys at the start line. Lanky awkward boys who look built for running because they haven’t discovered beer yet. All wear size 12+ shoes that none have ever learned to tie properly. One minute to go until the start time. One of the lankies starts to count down from fif-ty-nine, fif-ty-eight, fif-ty-seven, thankfully his voice breaks in to a high pitched squeal and he stops the countdown.

Up until someone says Go, you have made good decisions.  That magic word go. The ‘Go on throw caution to the wind!’ kind of Go. Go NUTS.

Upon hearing GO! we all speed off through the first kilometre, weaving through meandering crowds on the Wellington waterfront. The plan of doing the sensible 4.45 pace isn’t 4.45, it’s 4.20. That is still ok you think, I can hold this pace, it’s still cruising…

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Views on course of the Scottish Waterfront 5km race

The lankies start to fade after five minutes. You stick to an even pace and cruise past them, making sure to run as close as possible up behind them to let them know that you make angry breathing noises when you run fast. This is where it becomes hard to stick to an even pace, not physically, mentally. In front of you are 12 more lankies, clomping size twelves along the pavement and fading fast. All have targets on their backs, ‘Hey there, if you speed up to 4.05 you can pass me! If you do an even 4minute you’ll pass me too! Faster faster faster!

Your ego takes control of your legs and you now have tunnel vision where you can only see targets ahead and nothing. Else. Matters. You hear Hinano’s voice in your head ‘Run with your balls!’ Balls to the wall, you give it 110%.

The familiar feeling creeps in, the lactic acid in your quads, the spit gathers at the corners of your mouth, you drive hard for the finish line and with a final burst of speed make it past the orange cones. You sit on the ground heaving and panting for a split second before realising that you jogged that race. So you stand up, breathe normally, and walk calmly over to talk to Coach Kevin about your future jogging plans.

My final time for the 5km was 21.17, a good 100 seconds off my PB but because I ran down all those stinky teenagers and I feel like it was a good run. An ego boosting run. I have been back in to running for two months now after seven months off so anything is a win!


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NZ Half Marathon Championships

The night before a race is like the night before catching a flight to go on that holiday that you’ve been saving for months for. You’re afraid that you’ll sleep in and miss it, so your body wakes up every hour. You get stressed out that you’ll be too tired from not sleeping and not enjoy it as much, or that your glands are sore, your achilles is getting niggly, or that you’re going to be like that poor guy who shat himself during the marathon. Yes, that will be you. All of the above and MORE will happen to you, so panic now!

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Start line of the 2014 NZ Half Marathon Champs

The night before the race- Amanda the avid Rugby fan, like all other patriotic New Zealander’s watched the All Black’s test match. Coconut water in one hand, vege sausage rolls in the other, I sat facing the screen, resting my limbs and feigning interest in the wads of muscle hitting each other at speed while I imagined tomorrow’s run. My pre-race plan is to eat as if it’s your last meal, cram as much in as possible. Don’t eat Haribo Gummi bears or large quantities of raw fruit, just eat your normal dinner but a in a portion size equal to your bodyweight at 18months old (Consult your Plunket book for an accurate measure).

Morning of the race– Wake up an hour before your alarm goes off after your third dream about missing the start line or arriving there naked. Eat breakfast, for me this is porridge with chia seeds and all this other fancy organic stuff that I think I need but have no idea what benefits it actually gives me.

While the porridge is porridgeinating I make a plunger full of coffee. This part of my race prep is critical. Half way in to your coffee (Which you alternate with mouthfuls of porridge and bits of a sudoku) the time will come. It’s always just as your porridge is the perfect temperature, just as you’re cracking the hard part of the sudoku, the coffee starts to move. From this point you have exactly 45 seconds in which to down spoon, get to the bathroom, and pull down your pyjama pants.

Getting all your business done well before the start gun goes off is essential so that you have peace of mind while running in your yellow pants. If you aren’t a coffee person then perhaps go the other way and have an immodium if you’re worried.

I was really confident going in to this race. I hadn’t raced a half marathon since running this exact event a year ago, and that still stands as the worst race I’ve ever run. I learned many valuable lessons in last year’s half marathon. I went out too fast, I was coming off an injury and had done one 7km run in the month leading up to the event, I wore the wrong clothes in the wrong order, and perhaps the biggest and most painful lesson was that I didn’t cut my toenails before the race. Bloody hell, it hurt.

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Post-race in 2013, bleeding toes, could barely walk!

This year my friend Chan offered to pace me. He wasn’t too fussed about getting the best possible time, and for me this run was about getting the little things right and pacing myself. What I think Chan actually wanted was a posse to run with to bear witness to his popularity. Me and another man who was dressed a little like Papa Smurf were Chan’s bridesmaids as he paraded around the bays, us tucked behind him as he gracefully put one foot in front of the other, waving, and smiling for the cameras, ‘Hi Chan!’ ‘Nice running Chandima’, Gooooo Chan!’.

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We planned to run the first half at 4.15mins/km and stick with the the 90min group. We went out a bit faster than than that and just focused on keeping a steady rhythm. There was a bit of wind as we headed out and we tactfully tucked in behind people so that they took the brunt of it. As we came to Cog Park an escaped lunatic dressed in a skeleton onesie leapt up and down and yelled ‘Go Broughty!’, Laura Shields you are amazing!

I had some Powerade at the 8km aid station then we continued to the half way point, it was pretty easy and we chatted about… RUNNING, would you believe. The crazy men that can run under 70 minutes were already flying back past us here and looking really determined. We continued to look as photogenic as ever in our bridal procession.

 

Me, Chan and Papa Smurf just past 8km's. Photo by Yuliya Bozhko

Me, Chan and Papa Smurf just past 8km’s. Photo by Yuliya Bozhko

The second half of the course after the tun around is always the best part! You know you’re over half way, and you get to see everyone on your way back and yell and wave at them because they are so happy to see that you have 7km’s to go and they have 14 🙂 I felt a bit tired here so had some raspberry Cliff Gel which stuck all over my fingers.

One more Powerade to wash this down, and a cup of water which I shoved my hand in to to get rid of raspberry residue and we were in to the final 5kms. For the first time in my life, the last 5km felt like a breeze. We saw another female up ahead and worked on passing her. We were easily holding 4min/kms with the tail wind and started to pass a few people. It’s such a great feeling to be doing negative splits, going faster in your second half being only a few km’s from the finish line.

I passed a guy running the marathon that I had seen doing the Tarawera, he always magically appears in that point of the race when you’re trying to find anything you have left to get you over the line as quickly as possible. ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Really good!’ Running up the final ramp I weaved through the 10km walkers and could see the giant digital clock in sight. 1.27.15 it said. I was stoked, better get across that line within the next 45 seconds so I can claim 1.27! I’m good at the sprint finish, I have a secret weapon for such intense moments, a giant vein on the right side of my temple. It comes out at key moments in my life, and only when cameras are involved.

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My final finish time was 1.27.55, with a mat time of 1.27.48. That’s a 7minute PB on last year’s run!

What I loved about this race was seeing people I’ve met through my club, through the gym and those familiar faces you see on your regular runs, all out there giving it a go. I’m a lot more in tune with my body now than I was a year ago. I know how hard I can push myself, I know when I’m too tired, too thirsty, and if it’s my legs or my lungs that are fatigued.

Full results are here! Getting under 90 minutes with this race also means I get an Athletics New Zealand ranking, which is pretty cool. I look forward to chasing a faster time later this year and perhaps getting closer to 26.

WINNER! The prize was an expired Powerade, I was elated!

WINNER! The prize was an expired Powerade, I was elated!

What I did right!

  • I competitively ate the night before the race so that I had enough energy for the race
  • I cut my toenails
  • Even though it was cold, I wore a singlet, you always warm up after 10minutes
  • I worked with someone, this is great for staying on track and sticking to your plan. Having that person say ‘Come on you can do this, it’s not as hard as Tarawera’ is a real help!

How I can improve for next time

  • I ran the Rimutaka rail trail a week before this, all 34kms of it. It was fun, but my legs were still feeling it a week later. I should stick to the program. But there was a waterfall! Stick to the program.
  • Match my yellows better, it’s all or nothing here, sunshine yellow and Scottish Gold was a bit risky, next time we’ll go for black shorts and perhaps a crop top to keep my chest from hitting my chin.
  • Try harder! I need to lose my fear of blowing up and not having the energy to cross the line, I think If I can manage 3.50min/kms at the end I could have given a little more effort earlier on

P.S This race doubled as the NZ Half Marathon Championships. I came 13th female overall, and 8th in the Championship. The Scottish Senior women also took out the team competition.

 


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‘Just’ the Grunt

Most races have a few options as to which distance you can do. Anything less than the largest one and people will say ‘I’m JUST doing the xxx’. Just? You’re just running a 10km? You’re just doing 21? In December, I just did 27.

My younger brother, after what must have been some deep thought processes, txt me at 4am one Sunday morning and said ‘Let’s do the Grunt’. He’s always been the sporty Broughty, I’m more decorative, and I like to think I’m the smart one. I demonstrated this intelligence by challenging my 90kg, 1.85m fit-for-life little brother to this race. ‘Loser buys dinner he said. And drinks.’ It takes a fair bit of food and drink to fuel Willy, and not being a fan of foliage I knew losing to him meant paying for one, perhaps two steaks and quite a lot of the amber liquid. I was not going to let him have this easily.

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Entries to the Kepler Challenge and Luxmore Grunt open at 6.30am on the 6th of July, five months out from the actual race. It sells out within a few minutes so if you don’t get your ass out of bed at 6am that morning, you aren’t going to get a place. With the help of Ewa from WoRM I managed to get an entry to the Grunt, and William made the wait list.

GOALS FOR THIS RACE

  • Beat Willy
  • Run it sub 3 hours
  • Get a top ten placing
  • Don’t fall over

For the next five months my sole focus was this event, I had to learn how to run on trails rather than road. Despite being surrounded by hills I didn’t even know where I could run. Going from flat to hills, and tarmac to tree roots and mud was a big challenge for me, and it hurt in almost every place imaginable.

The weekend of the race Willy had none of the required kit except for shoes. Casual as. ‘Have you trained William?’

Twas the night before Kepler

Twas the night before Kepler

‘Yeah, nah. I went for ten runs.’ If I base this figure on exaggerations of my own training, he went for three runs.

On race day at 6.30am I met my family at the control gates, warmed up a little then went to the start line to make intimidating faces at the other runners. My plan was to run the first flat 5-6km at a 4.45 pace because this is what I settle in to on a long run, run and walk up the hill to save a bit of energy, come down the hill fast then hold 5min kms until the end.

The first part went to plan, Louisa Andrew was so fast and disappeared in to the trees very quickly. My legs were so fresh they felt like jelly, after training on sore legs so much it was like I had no feeling in them at all. That would come later, don’t worry. I walked and ran up the hill and the guys around me told me I was second female, I was pretty stoked but still annoyed at myself for not being able to keep running up that hill, and Melissa Clarke passed me at about half way.

It was a a mental challenge going up the hill but as soon as I got above the bush line and out in to the open it was like the race really started. The leading runners were just starting to pass me on their way back down and seeing them flying down the hill was a huge motivation. The views at this part of the track are epic but I didn’t stop to look. At the aid station at Luxmore Hut (half way point) they told me I was two minutes behind second. The board walk at this point is too narrow to comfortably fit two runners passing each other, so I just ran at people with the aim of them knowing that we both needed to turn side on at the right moment to pass safely. It worked for the most part.

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William was coming up the hill now and wasn’t far behind me, I was hitting two out of four goals at this stage so I decided I should fall over to give myself a new challenge. I tripped and fell gracefully on to the gravel, like a feather duvet blanketing a litter of fluffy kittens, breaking nothing and only managing to graze my hands, legs, stomach, shoulders and elbows and hit my head. Now I felt meaner and looked meaner, so I had to start running meaner.

It was so great on the downhill passing people coming up and hearing them cheer you on. Positivity and smiles were directly proportional to how far up the hill people were, the further down I got, the less well received my ‘keep going’s and other generic running chats were. Toothy grins were replaced by half-assed smiles, then one raised eyebrow; and eventually a look of desolation, pain and terror.

It got nice and quiet running through the bush on the down hill, I like to think I look like a stallion charging down the trail, wind in my mane, powerful legs thundering along. Alas I think it was more of a new born foal sort of run. I caught up with Melissa about ¾ of the way down and galloped past. If I could have given myself a high five a this point I would have, it was a great feeling.

I saw my friend Samdup just as we hit the flat and this is when my legs really woke up. They say it hurts when you get off the hill and they aren’t lying! He egged me on and told me to keep up with him and it just wasn’t happening. My Garmin also said I had run 18km rather than 21km which was a little demoralising. 5min kms went to 6min kms and there was no end in sight. You can hear the loud speaker on the wind at points but the trees hide everything and it 1471760_493835484065039_412801370_nseems like forever!

I ran clear of the trees near the finish and some local kids gave me hi-fives, lucky I don’t wipe my nose with my hand when I run, right? Right. It was so good to see Ben, Mum, Dad, and Ben’s hairy friends at the finish line all cheering for me. They gave me hugs me at the finish with congratulatory stinging patting on the back in the places I had no skin left after my pack had chaffed it off.  I came in 20th place overall, and second female with a time of 2.34.17, Willy got 3.01.30 and 60th overall, see the rest of the results here.

The big highlight for me in running this race was seeing so many people I knew cross the finish line and achieve something great. I am so proud of my brother for running 27km up and down a mountain with hardly any training, and even more impressed that he wants to enter again next year.

Second Place trophy

Second Place trophy

To recap on my goals;

  • I beat my brother and am now in contention for the title of the sporty one
  • Ran 20 minutes under my goal time
  • Came in the top ten females
  • Took a fall but no scars! #WIN

See you at the start line in 2014 🙂

*** I forgot to mention, Willy made no dinner purchases that night. Mum and Dad came to the party and bought me dinner at Te Anau’s best restaurant The Redcliff Cafe. The incredibly good looking and musically talented owner Megan with the help of Gemma sung ‘We are the Champions’ to me when they brought out my food! 🙂