Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, and what better way to welcome 2012 than with some sunny bike miles.

Last week was the north island now it's the turn of the south. Last weeks adventure didn't quite go to plan, but what a ride. Time was always going to be against me as I raced to get to Wellington for NY eve and this mornings ferry to the South island. After a 200k first day my planned 4 day 1200k ride was a bit optimistic.

Day two I got from Papamoa Beach (just east of Tauranga) all the way around the Cape to Hicks Bay. 275k of ever increasingly beautiful and remote road. The sun was out and with some decent distances between shops and cell reception having no accommodation and a single water bottle kept me pushing all day.

A room, roast lamb, pavlova and a hot shower at Hick's Bay Motel was very welcome I can tell you.

Day three was just a blast all the way down the east coast, it was going to be over 400k to get to the target Napier and with my legs tired from the proceeding 500k I took a decision to go a bit more sensible. Still an early start and a miserable 80k in the rain through to Tokomaru Bay before the sun came out, the tailwinds were on my back and I met a friend from Gisborne for the spin through Gisborne (cheers for the advice, company and ice cream Nathan). Leaving Nathan on the southern outskirts of Gisborne, early afternoon, it was a 60k tired slog (there is a big hill through Whararata) over to some wonderful hot pools at Morere.

40mins of hot pool soaking, cold pool plunging and I happily rolled the last 3k down to old school friend Jo's farm, finishing the day a touch under 250k. Another friendly face, great accommodation and being spoilt with a huge home cooked meal I was a happy camper. Thank you Jo, Hilton and Harrison.

So that just left me 480k to get home to Welly on Day 4. Yea right... With motivation, better lights and car I could have done it, but frankly the promised rain had arrived I having the option of a lift from Napier meant I just wasn't feeling it. So Day 4 was a slightly grim 6hr push through the rain and the devils elbow (a big gorge that thankfully wasn't as bad as the numerous warnings had led me to expect) to Napier. Even in the rain Napier was warm and inviting and the trip was over.

Four days and nearly 900k, the legs were battered but not perhaps as bad as on last years John O'groats to Lands End. I should learn to take these rides slower, the East Cape was spectacular, with bay after bay of deserted beaches, I'll be back to enjoy at leisure.

Back in Welly for a quiet NY Eve I've swapped bikes and am now cruising out of the harbour on the ferry to Picton for a much more sedate 7 days ride down the East Coast to Queenstown.

It's going to be an interesting contrast comparing last weeks lightweight touring (BMC time machine, small backpack, credit card and toothbrush) with this weeks Cannondale tourer, rear panniers and a handlebar bag. Riding the 'dale to the ferry this morning, it's so different, no acceleration, high bars, tonnes of momentum, triple chainring. It's a treat not to have anything on my back though and panniers have loads of room so I've even bought runners.

This week I'm going to trial a new concept, a touring training camp. Unfortunately I drew the line at a wetty but shorts, goggles and runners are in the bag. Hopefully we can cruise through 700-800k of riding whilst still getting in a handful of runs, a few swims and it feeling like a bit of a break.

I need the running and swimming as Challenge Wanaka Half is just 2 weeks once I return for Queenstown.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A few miles

Eight weeks of running and speed and I've been getting pretty sharp. It's been great to mix up the training with a block of higher intensity stuff. I reckon my running is down towards 5/10k PB territory, which is a first since I've come to NZ.

Now with 9 weeks to IM Taupo it's time to get those longer endurance sessions in. Unfortunately, I've taken the extended Christmas Hols and summer sun to get some longer runs in and gone a little off programme (sorry Dave).

Last weds, after a pub (albeit not drunk) conversation the week before, Chris Swallow, local off road run star, and I hatched a plan to try and do something a bit special before Christmas. Earlier in the year I'd missed out on racing the local Southern Crossing mountain race as I hadn'trun the route before. After a pint and some banter it seemed a great idea to try and run the point to point route twice. At 36k+ for once over it was always going to be a big day.

Anyway 16hrs was all it took! And we made the local rag

After some RnR over Christmas I flew up to Auckland yesterday to try and ride home,via the East Cape, in 4 days. The route is around 1200k and I only pushed out 200 yesterday after a late start. So that's over 200 miles (320k) a days to do the next three days.

Right now I'm I. whakatane having second breakfast, 80k into day 2. Every inch seems to be headwind so here's hoping when I get up to the top of the cape it'll be on my back.

More later

Friday, 25 November 2011

Back to Work

Summer is approaching in Wellington (although you'd never believe it looking out the window this evening!) so it's time to do some race planning.

Post Hawaii I had a fantastic holiday and have been just getting back into things over the last few weeks.  A rib injury has stopped me in the pool but I've been ticking over on the bike and losing some holiday puppy fat with steady running, 105k last week seems to have got things under control.

It's a great feeling having bagged Kona, chasing that slot is no longer the goal and I can enjoy my racing a little more.  I've been chatting to coach Dave Parry as I fancy really giving Taupo (Ironman) a nudge in March.  We've tweaked the plan from the normal Ironman build and I'll be hitting some speed work through to Christmas.  Then an accelerated 8 weeks Ironman build, on top of the speed might leave me with a enough sparkle on top of the endurance to go for it at Taupo - well that the plan 16 weeks out!

On the way I'm going to try tick off some of NZ's finest racing...

Through to March I'll do various bits of racing in Wellington, be it Splash n Dash events at Oriental Parade (don't miss these fantastic Wednesday night sessions) or some Scorching triathlon fun at Scorching Bay.

Then I'll get serious and hit two half Ironmans before the big one in March

21 January 2012 - Challenge Wanaka Half

12 February 2012 - Wells Half Ironman

3 March 2012 - Ironman NZ (Taupo)

Finally, with the ITU World Champs in Auckland next year it'd be a travesty to not try and get an AG slot, so I've had to enter the Wellington Qualifier the weekend after Ironman...

All I need now is Capital Cycles to take stock of some BMC TT01's and I'll be all set....

Monday, 31 October 2011

Ironman Hawaii 2011

Four days later (or 3 weeks!) and it's time to write up the experience, maybe make some notes for next time, or at least offer some thoughts for other first time Kona athletes.

For me qualifying for Kona was the really tough part.  Since before I started training for IM Arizona  in 2008 I have been dreaming of getting to the Big Island.  Qualification this March in New Zealand (Taupo) was one of the most satisfying days of my life.  To an extent it felt like the job was done.

In preparing for the race I was eager to be as fit as possible, but didn't have any expectation around time, or finish position. I was always going to be mid-pack, at best I could hope to be towards the front of the middle!   The goal was to get through the experience without any painful blow up on the run and be fit enough that I could enjoy the experience.

Largely I achieved these goals.  Racing in the heat of Hawaii, especially coming from the cool New Zealand winter, added uncertainty to the race planning as there was a large unknown around my reaction to the heat and humidity.

Coming into the race I've not had the long specific training period of some of my other Ironamn efforts,  I had a very good base.  I was fit for Taupo in March and ran consistently through to April when I ran 100k.  Late April I had just a few weeks rest and then got back onto it in May training for Gold Coast marathon in July.

The plan was to have a good 12 week block of IM Prep, post marathon, through July - September.   This was going to plan until early August when I was hit with a nasty winter(man)  flu.  I ended up not training for 16 days and really August was a month standing still, it took the second half of August to get lost fitness back.

Excuses, excuses..!  From Mid August to race day I had faultless training. I was swimming (in the pool) as well as I ever have and although I had some concerns about missing bike volume the bike felt strong.   My run at Gold Coast was disappointing, but I knew I wasn't going to be be running at the same pace as Taupo out here.

My biggest unknown coming out here was the heat.  Being a heavier guy (80kg or just under)I knew the heat would impact me, especially on the run, so I had to moderate effort and do whatever else possible to keep my my core body temperature down.    I did some great, albeit tough, sessions on the wind trainer to simulate the heat, which I'm sure helped; 30-35 degrees, with no air flow for 2hrs+ certainly got me used to the heat.

Getting out 10 days before race day also undoubtedly helped.  The first run I did in Kona my HR was elevate by 20-30bpm compared to a similar run in Wellington 48hrs before.  However, by day 7 or 8 my HR was almost normal and although it would rise quicker if I pushed the effort I knew by race day I was relatively well acclimatise.

I decided to ride the bike leg in a short sleeve jersey and white arm protectors, fully covered up and with air flow the bike was a lot easier than I thought it would be, I never felt hot or uncomfortable.   Tests in the days before the race, in Kona, I knew I could maintain the intensity I needed for a reasonable time at a sustainable heart rate, however, I also knew that pushing on the bike, even a little, would very quickly elevate my heart rate.  I also found that once my HR was up it took a lot longer to moderate again. All to be expected with the conditions.

Similarly, in the days proceeding the race my heart rate on the run settled and I got a good gauge of what I was going to be able to do and importantly what would cause effort to spike too high.

Going into the race I made a clear plan for the day.  The swim course in Kona is incredible, the water is crystal clear, full of fish and warm like a swimming pool.  Watching the race in previous years I knew the start was narrow and was nervous of the 1000+ athletes who would be swimming 56-70 minutes. I planned to start on the left of the start, perhaps swimming a few extra metres, but getting cleaner water whilst still having the chance for decent feet.  Considering how I've been swimming in the pool I was confident I could get close to, or ideally just under, the hour.

I checked out the bike course over the days before the race and, conditions apart, it really isn't that tough; 10k looping around the town/village of Kona, then onto the Queen K all the way out and up to Hawi.  The road up to Havi is long, 25k+, but the actual discernible climb is only the last 10k to the top, where the prevailing wind seems to be on on your nose and the gradient ramps.  Once you get to the top of the climb you're at 60miles and have an 18mile decent ahead of you, mentally a great place to be.  A two mile climb and from 80miles you're back on the rollers to town, there are a couple of reasonable drags and the wind seemed to be all over, shifting from cross head to cross tail as you get closer to town.

While the run course isn't overly hilly - it's probably similar to Ironman NZ in terms of topography - the issue is the heat and exposure.  The first 16k, out and back on Ali'i drive is hot, although there is a little shade.  It's the remainder that's really tough.  A one k loop and climb through town and then you're back on Queen K highway for the 25/26k out and back to the Energy Lab.  Out here it's rolling highway with no shade and only a little wind.  This is where they talk about the 100 degrees+ reflected heat. 

The Race.

As normal I set myself and early alarm (3:30am) to get some brekka and go back to sleep before leaving for the start at 5am.  Unfortunately I set the alarm for 3:30PM so slept straight through to my second alarm at 4:30am.  I was a little pissed to have not eaten as planned but pleased to have got a decent sleep.  The local knowledge of our fantastic host Drew meant there were no worries about getting to the start, he efficiently got me down to the pier for soon after 5am, I got numbered, pumped the tyres and milled about with the masses.  We watched the Pro's get off and everyone headed for the water, there was a bit of a bottle neck but I had no trouble getting into the water by 6:45 for a decent warm up.  I'd opted for comfort rather than transition speed and was swimming in retro Hawaii speedo style!!

I stuck to my plan and lined up on the left on the front of only about 4 rows of people.  We had a 3 minute warning and before I knew it the canon went off.  I felt fantastic.  I'd spent a lot of anxious hours thinking about this swim and it was awesome.  I had clear water for 10 minutes, got some feet and we slowly drifted to the right and the main field.  By about 20mins I was at the buoys and I continued to swim well to the turnaround, a peek at the watch and it clicked over 32mins. Not too bad.  Unfortunately the return swim wasn't so great.  I struggled a little to maintain focus, dropped off some good feet and the last few hundred, as we battled a bit of current / swell off the harbour wall, was a pain. I wasn't too upset to exit the water in 67 mins, a personal worst IM swim (well since 2005), but it was under my 70min worst case target.

I wasn't going to win any transition prizes but Drew the local legend was there to assist again and helped me cruise through a complete change in just 4 mins and I was onto the bike in 71 mins.  All good.

The bike plan was to ride super, super easy keeping the HR at 135-140bpm, I'd estimate that with moderate conditions this should equate to a 5:10-5:20 split.  Compared to previous IM bike legs this was low intensity (IM Switz and Taupo 2011 where 145+), but hopefully it would lave me better able to run well.  It's hard going so easy when everyone was going mad in the first loops about town and onto Queen K with a tail wind, even though I was rolling at a good pace I was still going back through the field.  But I stuck to the plan, ate and drank plenty, poured water over me to keep cool and started to feel good again.

The bottom of Hawi came quickly, not having ridden this section I stuck to my 150bpm HR cap and started to roll.  As we gently climbed and drifted to the East the wind came on our noses and the gradient increased.  The last 10k to Hawi the wind was rouring and the lightweight whippets and girls were struggling. Here the 80kg rouler comes into his element!   I was easily keeping my HR were I wanted and cruising through the field.  I must have taken 100 places in 10k. At Hawi I turned in great spiritis, picked up all the fluids I could and rocketed down with tailwinds, the first 10k off the turn I averaged over 50kph, there were minutes of spinning out at 70kph+.  The lower slopes turn away from the tail wind, but it's still basically a descent all the way to 78miles, I hit 80miles at about 5:20 pace and thought I'd just keep that up.  Which is what I did. The HR was still low, I was feeling good and I was rolling through the field.  I went past all those that had gone past me at the start and another 50.  Bike split 5:19 and an average HR of 138bpm. Job Done.

Another 4 minute transition and I jogged out onto the run at a total time of 6:35 on the clock.  A 3:25 marathon and I could still sneak under 10hrs.

All i needed was 4:50k's.  After a few k's a little fast I settled into 4:45's and got into a routine of taking cool sponges and putting them into my race suit every aid station, sipping a little water and getting the gel down.  8k turnaround on Ali'i drive and I was on pace, I nipped for a loo stop and lost a minute. However, as I got going again on the return to town I slipped to 5min k's.  They felt comfortable and it kept my HR low (under 150), which I was very conscious of keeping down as I didn't want to get the core heat too high. 

Uber support camped at Lava Java all day
 The first 10k I went through in just under 50mins, and coming back through town at 16/17k was fantastic, all my wonderful supporters were at Lava Java (air horns blazing) and I felt fantastic.  If I could keep to 5 min k's until 30k I might be able to do something special in the last 10k (Of course i was dreaming!).  Through town and onto the Queen K it's another story, a miserable battle of will. The second 10k went by in just under 51mins, I was slowing but not badly.   By 24k I couldn't get the gels down I forced a few energy shotz down and promised myself coke from 32k.  I hadn't checked out the Energy Lab out and back and couldn't believe how far it seemed, but it was good to see Wellington athlete Deano Gaskin as I went onto this section, he was only about 20mins up on me. Maybe I could claw him back with that fast last 10k!!

The Queen K road is not a nice road for running on.  It's bleak.  A rolling highway through bare black lava fields, there are no land marks, nothing to aim for but the next aid station, a few new cool sponges and then the same again.  I've no idea how hot it was on the day, probably not worse than any other year, but compared to Wellington it was insane.  Thankfully at about 30k it clouded over a little, for the first time in 9 hours I rolled my arm coolers down, and although I felt terrible I started to believe I wasn't going to blow up and I could finish respectably.  the third 10k went past in 52:30, slower again but no catastrophe.   

Long way to come to break a foot!
There was no way I was going to get back those minutes and sneak under 10hrs now but I could still be close.  I hit the Cokes, which as always tasted so good, and I plodded on.  Around 38k I overtook someone who seemed to be struggling, as I went past he picked up his pace and got on my shoulder.
"you're just what I needed" he said.
"no problem" I said "aren't you Ken Glah?"
"what's left of him!...never do this race without training"
I told him I was planning on walking the next aid station and then running it home.  He was up for it so that's what we did.  Some coke, new sponges, and we started to jog out of the station.  15secs later he turned to me and said to go on, immediately he was bent double turning himself inside out.  Must have done him some good though as in the end he was only a few mins behind me.

I'd run the fourth 10k in 56mins, the last few k are a bit of a blur, getting back into town and hearing the crowds and Mike Reilly hollering in the distance was a awesome but the filthy dog leg they take you on away from the finish is just rude.  Crossing the finish line in 10:12: 54 I just felt relief. I didn't race Kona I survived it, I had a plan that I thought would get me around, I stuck to it and it worked.  I certainly could have pushed the bike a little more, 5:05-5:10 would have been easy enough, but who knows what it would have done to my run split.  I'm proud to have got to Kona and I'm pleased with a sensible, controlled, effort on the day. Seven years of your advise has obviously taught me something Dave.

Could I have done more this day? Who knows, probably not much.
Can I go faster? Undoubtedly.
Do I want to try? Yes, but maybe not next year.

I've some ideas for what i'll do next year but I've had a few weeks of holiday and non-triathlon life and now isn't the time to rush into any plans.  Mel has been incredible in her support but I'm not sure I can ask her to do it again.  That said if she gets another 2.5weeks in Hawaii afterwards it may be more tolerable!!

I had so many kind wishes and messages, leading up to, during, and after this event.  I do realise how lucky I am to have had this experience and thank everyone for their support, every bit of encouragement helped me to the line.

If you are on the Kona qualification brink, like I was for several years, don't give up and if you get the chance to go this race grab it.  It is an experience I will never forget.

Sorry for another digest. Back to work. Laurence

Monday, 3 October 2011

hot and windy...'s a whole lot better than wet (cold) and windy!

Hawaii is delivering.  Within 24hrs I told Mel I wanted to come again next year. 

Everything you hear, everything you read, everything you see; Kona delivers.  It's a small town but in Ironman week it delivers Supersize.  The leanness of everyone is what gets you first, but the tans are a close second.  You'd imagine it to be feel of fast triathletes, and I guess it's just that it is. 
Day three and I've got over my first sweat-fest run (with a HR 20bpm elevated) and had a couple of decent turns out on the bike.  Plus an incredible swim in the Aquarium that they call a swim course.

Yesterday was a decent ride out in the lunch sun to check out Queen K. It's long, hot and windy, however, it's super smooth, like glass compared to Kiwi heavy chip and the course seems rolling rather than hilly.  Mind you I haven't been up to the hilly bit yet. With massive winds and an elevated HR from the heat it's going to be really hard to gauge effort.  This is one bike course a power meter would be nice.

Mel and I joined some masses this morning for Chris Lieto's Path 10k down Ali Drive, thankfully at 7:30am and I jogged it with Mel, but even then the core temps rise pretty quick.  Lunchtime I went out on the Queen K again for the last effort 90mins on the bike a 45min run.  Felt great but after the 45min run I was cooked.  Lot's of white is going to be in order for next Saturday,

Without doubt I'm nervous and the heat is going to play a huge factor in my race, but I'm here for the experience, if I can enjoy the swim and bike and get into T2 as fresh as possible I'll just cold on for as long as possible in the heat.  I'm in good shape but not going to be nudging any records this year...

We've a day of sight-seeing tomorrow and then Tues is the parade of nations, registration, underpant run, etc, etc. So expect a few more blogs and pics over the coming days.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

4 weeks 'til I fly

Hawaii count down is now really on. The race is 5 weeks on Saturday and we fly 4 weeks today. Since my last post I had a serious dose of man-flu; 16 days off training was a bit of a confidence knock.

However, the last couple of weeks I've concentrating on getting stronger every day doing a little more. I'm starting to feel ok again now, 20 decent hours last week and i'm closer to where I'd like to be.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

T - 86 Days

With the big run block done it's into a solid build phase to Hawaii.

86 days to go is pretty terrifying.  Especially, as this was the week when Wellington decided the mildest autumn / early winter on record should come to a stormy end and she's throwing all sorts of horrid dark weather at us. Well me.

Thankfully I've secured the hire of a Taxc Fortius VR (wind) Trainer.  It was cheaper to rent this for 3 months than buy a bottom of the range turbo and frankly it's got enough bells and whistles to almost make training indoors fun.  You can even steer it!

Thank you to Elite Race Rentals for the quick and efficient service.

So this week the hard bike miles have started.  I'm not feeling as weak as I was worried I would, so there is a little confidence I can be in pretty average shape in a month or so.  The swimming has been ticking over on 2 or 3 swims a week and the running, although no fast, is feeling good. 

So actually, with 86 days to go, I'm shaping up ok to not embarrass myself too much out in the sun with the best in the world :p

P.s If anyone has a Fortius and can give me tips on how the hell it all works, please get in touch!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Gold Coast Marathon

Not the best day, but a great reminder of just how tough it is to race a marathon.

Flying out of a cold and damp Wellington it was a very pleasant surprise to see some sun and experience Gold Coast winter. Longer days and 20 degrees in the depths of winter, no wonder it's such a popular winter retreat for athletes and everyone else.

Mel and I were lucky enough to be put up by her cousin Cam and wife Emma - thanks guys. Cam, along with his training mate Justin was also racing. After a lazy Saturday chatting running and watching movies it came to light the three of us were gunning for 2:40 to 2:48 pace. It was going to be fun.

On the back of my legacy marathon PB I'd scored a priority start, this I thought would at least give me a few seconds on Cam and Justin. I was wrong. We all lined up together and it was worthless, apart from the extra weight of the sticker on my number! Gold Coast is a pretty decent marathon, 5000 runners and a cracking flat fast course. I decided to take the first 5k steady, the plan was to run 39min 10k's (3:54 k's) and see how I was doing at 30k, if I felt average or better I'd try to push on and dip under 2:45, otherwise I should at least hold on for 2:48.

Within a k Justin caught me off the start and we watched Cam trot on up the road. He was hoping for a 2:39 so I was happy to let him go. Justin and I went through the first 5k in 19:30 and the same for the next. This was a little behind the pace I was hoping for, but it felt about right and we had a decent little group. Plus the first 16k of the course were into a light headwind, so I though I'd let it fly and maybe pull back a few seconds once we turned and had the wind on our backs. The next 10k was slightly slower but still I was very happy to go through half way in 1:23 and small change This put me on for a 2:46 and I still thought a negative split could be possible.

Unfortunately, the wheels started to come off pretty quick after halfway. I'd mentally prepared for it being tough from 30k. But battling for 4k pace from the 24th kilometre wasn't what I was expecting. At 30k I was still holding a fair pace; 2hrs for 30k was still 4min k's and I was hopefully I could hold on for a 2:48 and I'd be happy enough with that. But I'd done too much to hold the pace to that point. With the heat coming into the sun I was really battling. Once I crept over the point that 2:50 was lost I relaxed and pretty much jogged it in.
The last 10k still hurt like hell but I knew I’d easily get under 3hrs, so I rolled it home for a 2:58 and third place of Cam, Justin and I!
A coke and a brief collapse and I hauled myself into the stands to watch Mel finish. After a confident start she too faded slightly in last 10k but still ran a great race to finish her debut marathon in 4:16. Sub 4 is in the bag next time Mels xx

Sunday, 26 June 2011

One week to the Gold Coast Marathon: Stick or Twist?

Just a week to go until the Gold Coast marathon and although I'm really looking forward to racing again I'm not sure what to expect.

The last two months has seen some of my most consistent quality running in a couple of years, in fact since my marathon PB in Barcelona in 2009 (2:44:44), but I feel I might be missing some top end.  I've not been doing the regular speed session which have been a significant factor in all my previous good spells of running so it'll be interesting to see what decent volume and tempo running will generate.

Over the previous 3 weeks I've done two 10k time trials to try and gauge fitness and have been pretty disappointed to be struggling to get under 37mins. Yet during my long runs I've been comfortably doing multiple sets of 5k's at a marathon race pace only slightly slower than that 10k speed.  I'm happy the strength endurance is there, so next week will highlight what the lack of top end means.

I'm not confident to make a prediction.  Sub 2:50 and something towards the PB would be great as a confidence boost heading into my pre-Hawaii block, but of course you always want to break the PB and Gold Coast should be a quick course.

Maybe it's time to take a risk and dice with a melt down!?...

more this time next week

Monday, 30 May 2011

Up to date

I've been quiet for the last few weeks (months!) but i've not been sat on my ass the whole time.
After taking nearly a month off after the 100k I got back into a short intensity block.  After catching up with coach Dave (HPU) in early April we made a plan.  A short intensity block through the end of April and early May before a run block up to the Gold Coast Marathon (3rd July) and then a 3.5month block up to Hawaii.

The intensity block fell nicely with the disappearance of the sun in New Zealand so although it was fun to be doing something a bit different I struggled with motivation.

However, now I'm a month in the swimming is starting to get back to where it should be, the biking is ticking over and I'm start to get the running to where it needs to be.

I've been playing at a few running races, for motivation and to mix things up as much as possible, as well as some decent off-road strength endurance runs and the odd bit of speed work.

Nothing flash in the races but the post-ironman puppy fat is shedding and I'm hopeful of being in pretty good shape in 5 weeks time for a PB course marathon at Gold Coast.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Munter Recce

Saturday morning Wellington turned on Autumnal charm and eleven of us headed up the coast to run a recce of the Mukamuka Munter course.

It had been in the diary for a few weeks and to get such clear still skies was lucky to say the least.  I billed the run at 29k but the Garmin is saying it was more like 33 and with a 600m ascent of the Southern Saddle and the terrain you have to scale a steady 5hrs doesn't seem too bad.

There are a bunch of pics at Flickr -   but here are a selection.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Warning: Exercise may cause premature ageing

Voseller Shield (the most hideous 10k in the World?)

 face of an 80 year old...
After vowing never to do this race again, I was talked into having another crack at the Vosseler Shield a few weeks back.   Ten tough kilometres and 280m of vertical ascent on a bush clad hill (Mt Vic) in Wellington. Last year I managed to complete this run w ascent in a terrifying 51 mins, this year I pulled some faces and dragged my not quite race weight body up and down to a long 47.  Pretty good improvement but still a long way to go.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Oxfam 100k (not race) report

Earlier in the year my friend Dee got a bunch of us together for a coffee to talk about running a 100k for charity.  Four weeks after Ironman and I wasn’t planning on taking anything too seriously, a bit of a road trip up to Taupo and the chance to tick a 100k run off the bucket list seemed a good idea.

Fast forward to last Friday and I was rushing out of work to drive 4.5hrs to Taupo in time for a compulsory briefing at 9pm, followed by a 7am start the next morning, and that was just after landing from six days in the UK the day before.  Suddenly running 100km didn’t seem quite the cruise I had hoped for.

Coming out of a decent Ironman training block I’d been a little complacent about training. Individually we’d done a fair amount, but as a team we’d hardly run more than 10k together.  Three of us had done 35k on a Saturday and 25k on the Sunday a few weeks back, but that was the peak of our training / adaptation.

Of the team Dee has done 10+ Ironman, me half a dozen, Steve a fair amount of running, including a 60k earlier this year, and Tom although a newbie triathlete, has a marathon and few seasons of rowing under his belt.  For all of us this was a step into the unknown.

Thankfully the team had managed to keep my enthusiasm (competitiveness) in check and my 10hr aspirations had quickly been knocked back to around 14hrs.  We’d had a good chat about nutrition and all knew to keep at each other to keep eating and drinking.  Probably most importantly we had a fantastic support team.  All our respective partners (Mel, Mike, Sarah and Cat) were along for the ride and we’d loaded up the station wagon with food, beach chairs and spare clothes. 

Along the 100k way there were seven aid stations, so the longest leg we ever had to run was 20k.  Then we could have a sit down, change our clothes, reload camelbacks and stuff our face with whatever would get us through the next leg.

After my good day at Ironman this year I have been thinking about the impact on performance that positivity seems to have (certainly personally) so I consciously tried to keep positive throughout the day.  My positivity may have appeared as an irritating and persistent nagging at time – sorry about that team – but the intent was to try and keep moral high and not let doubt and negativity take over, which it so easily could for this sort of challenge.  At the back of my mind I was pretty convinced we’d have at least one crashing low point during the run, probably once we hit survival mode which we anticipated would eventually come about.  Incredibly, although we had some low points and we were all exhausted there was never any team-wide negativity.

Our race started at 7am with the second half of the field and the first leg from Kinloch towards Taupo was stunning, a beautiful 16k trail around the headland with the lake in view the whole way.  We whooped, sang and hollered our way through the other teams to the first stop.  Only 16k in we all felt great, took a quick feed, kissed out partners and fired through for the second and hardest (as billed by Oxfam) leg. There was quite a bit of climb in this leg as we rose up to the days highpoint somewhere around 600m.  That said, we were buoyed on as we realised we were in the top 5 or 6 teams by checkpoint two. 

As an indication of pace we’d been on our feet for nearly 4 hrs when we got to 30k, already my longest run (duration) since Ironman in 2010.  The day ahead was starting to dawn on me, we weren’t even a third of the way in I’d run longer than pretty much ever before! 

Out of Stop Two we had probably our biggest low point.  I was leading the team out and wasn’t following the map, relying instead on the trail markers.  A few kms on we turned off road and came face to face with the lead team (from the 6am start) going in the opposite direction. They helpfully told us we were going the wrong way - thankfully we only had about an 800m backtrack, but losing over a km and realising the leaders had hit 49k in 5hrs was a bit of blow. 

The day was also starting to get hot.  Although we were thankful (probably nearly as thankful as the support team) that it wasn’t raining, 20+ degrees was a bit more than we’d expected and we were drinking a lot and had to keep topping up the sun tan lotion.   We got into a great habit of shouting at each other every time we ate or drank to make sure each other were doing the same.  I think I actually put on weight through the day from eating so much.

The rest of leg three and leg four passed without incident and we tramped on at a pretty consistent pace, occasionally trading places with two or three other teams.  Checkpoint 4 was at 52k and we had scheduled a decent rest.  The timing plan we’d drafted before the race had us leave here at 2pm, in the end it was about 2:30 when we left, I was certainly pleased that we’d got this far pretty much on target. 

One of our supporters was allowed to accompany us for one leg so we picked up Mike at this checkpoint and had him to entertain, map read and open gates for the next 13.5k.  For me this was probably the hardest leg, crucially we passed through the point where we had less than a marathon left to go which was broken into one big leg (19.7k) followed by two short legs of 8km and 6km which seemed like nothing.  For me the back of the race was broken.  We had a good break at checkpoint 5, the girls (support team) were in great spirits which undoubtedly lifted ours and although we headed out to start the next 19k pretty slow, spirits were high.  Apparently we looked pretty beat up by this stage but actually we were moving nicely. 

The first 10k of this leg seemed to pass ok, both Steve and Tom were starting to feel their feet but a little open shoe surgery got them going again quick enough.  I’d swapped shoes at 30k and again at 66k, the change seemed to have done enough to avoid any blisters and although my feet we tired there was no pain. We got to Huka Falls for the second time, snapped a few pics and kept rolling up the valley in the dying evening light hitting the first aid stop at 80k.  On with the head torches and we set off for the last 6k over a bridge and back down the other side of the valley to our fantastic support crew at checkpoint 6 and 86k.

Running in the dark took a bit of getting used to, we were still off road and although the trail was perfectly marked with glow sticks and reflective tape, with very tired feet and legs it was pretty draining knocking over the uneven surface.  The support team had rang in to see if we wanted pizza and although it was getting a little cool by the time we arrived it was the most welcome Hell’s pizza ever.  We noshed down and I adopted official ‘pain in ass’ status by telling everyone we were only stopping for 10 minutes.  With only 14k left to run I was hoping to be done in an hour, in reality I knew we still had close to two left ahead of us. 

It was now properly dark and with the cool and the fact we could smell the finish line I was feeling pretty good and perhaps a little more empathy could have been in order.  Testiment to Dee for her strength of character, and many thanks for not punching me in these last couple of stages!

The two or three k out of checkpoint 6 to the 90k mark were tough, we headed into pretty deep push and the path was off-camber and wet so we were reduced to walking alot.  The call of ‘jog-on’ was adopted (pronounced “yog-on’), once we’d negotiated a tough section or steep hill the call would be made and reluctantly we’d up the pace to a slow jog.  At 89k we meet up with the tail end walkers who were about 45k behind us working their way to the 52k checkpoint 4 which was also the finish line.  It was great to see some others, but I felt pretty awful overtaking these guys know we had 10k to go and they had over 50 and had nearly 15hours of tramping ahead of them.

Another 4k and we hit our final checkpoint (6) at 94k, heading indoors to a cosy rugby clubhouse, with a tv and sofas I continued my motivation campaign and didn’t let anyone get to comfy.  We could have all rested there indefinitely but with 6k left I wanted to just get it done. 

The last leg there was probably more walking than running, 10min km’s meant it was another hour on our feet.  Once we got into the outskirts of Taupo and down a miserable flight of steps we just a km jog along the river to the finish. 

It was a pretty emotional finish, it was fantastic to see the support team again, sit down and not have to get up again.  We all grabbed a free massage, nursed a beer and then departed for some hot food, hot tubs and warm beds.

Turned out our time of 15:11 gave us the 4th team finisher and 3rd mixed team with the team ahead of us (who started an hour up) only seconds ahead.  The winning team we met at 49km did a fantastic 11:13, easily finishing in daylight.  

We smashed our $2k target and are still taking donations, so please if you meant to donate visit our page and give a dollar or two -

I’d been pretty concerned about the damage a 100 km was going to do - the day after I was stiff, but it was my hips and feet that were especially sore.  Muscle damage wasn’t as bad as Ironman; I guess the intensity is much lower.  After a week’s complete rest (I’ve certainly been very tired), I feel I could ease back into training now.

Would I do it again?  A lot of people have asked that this week.  Dee announced the day after she would definitely not, but has been the only one this week who has mentioned it seriously for next year.  I’m not sure.  One day I could be tempted to try and race the distance, but that would be a very different day.  What made the day for me was doing it as part of a team and having such an incredible support crew.  The mental side of a solo 100k would be very different and not something I’m in a hurry to try…

Thanks again to our fantastic support crew, especially Mel – I owe you.

Good luck to everyone in the UK running London Marathon today.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Officially entered 2011 Ironman World Championship, Hawaii + Final Scorcher

Ironman Hawaii - the gift that keeps giving.

Although I paid the money at Taupo I still had to register for the event, during a 10 day window, otherwise I'd miss my slot. Thankfully I remembered and just went through rego, so that's it I'm officially entered for the World Champs in October.

Now I just need to work out how to get the there. I think there may have to be a couple of flight fund raising sausage sizzles!!

I also raced the last Scorching (olympic) tri of the year today.  Pretty uneventful and certainly I was a little lacking in sparkle.  A super long swim (it was around 2k after the buouy drifted during the race) left me way back. Although I had a reasonable bike leg it should have been a couple of mins quicker.  Onto the run and I didn't feel bad, just a bit flat.  Probably the result of a lot of slow (Oxfam training) running over the last two weeks, including 2.5hrs yesterday and only 3 rides since Ironman.  5th place and 2:17 with a 30minute swim is what I expected.

It'll be great to get Oxfam 100k done in two weeks, have a little rest and get back into a routine.  I'm pretty excited about the shape I could have next year after a decent winter of work.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Oxfam Trailwalker 100k Run

As most of you know I like to do the odd endurance challenge for my own personal satisfaction.  Well for the first time in 8 years I'm doing something for others and asking for your support in the form of a few dollars sponsorship for my latest escapade.
A few months back one of my Ironman training buddies mentioned that she was a man short for her Oxfam 100 team.  I'd heard of the event but not given it much attention, when Deb told me the deal I couldn't say no.  The walk / run must be completed by all members of a four man team and it covers 100k weaving cross-country around Lake Taupo, central North Island, NZ.
So it is that in 3 weeks we'll be toeing the line for a 62 mile run.  Thankfully I've managed my aspirations (thanks team for getting me in check) and we'll not be going for any records, however we do hope to run as much as possible.  This is not an insignificant challenge, it's 2.5 marathons, off road, without a break.  Undoubtedly there will be tears, twisting, chaffing, swelling and all other unmentionable ailments you can and can't imagine.  True this is the stuff I do for fun, but I hope you'll agree it's worth a few of your dollars to know I am doing this for Oxfam and all the fantastic work they do around the world.  Every penny of your donation will go to helping those that need it the most.
I appreciate the timing of this isn't the best, there a lot of terrible things happening in the world at the moment and we are all torn on where to send our bit of help, but if you can spare a few dollars/pounds please do make a donation at our team page here; ) - note to the Poms: NZ$20 is about 10 quid.
Thank you in advance

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Finisher Pic

A classic shot.  One for the grand-kids...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Ironan New Zealand 2011: HAWAII QUALIFICATION

Ironman New Zealand 2011

First time I’ve managed to get online properly for the weekend and even now I’m on a dongle in the car, so just a quick update.

Hopefully the tweets kept everyone posted on how yesterday went, but here’s a quick overview from my point of view.  

After the run collapse demons of last year I needed to go out and have a clean, level race and that’s exactly how it went.  The swim was good, a solid 56mins with no drama.  Quickest T1 of my AG and out onto the bike.  I felt fantastic on the bike and was able to ride within myself and still cruise through the field.  I got into a pace line of about 8 guys and we rolled through the first lap, picking up a few as we went.  When I checked the watch after the first lap I was on 2:25 for 90k.  Terrified I’d gone to hard (I rode 5:18 last year, so 4:50 seemed a bit eager!) I dropped off and rode almost the whole second lap on my own.  I eased my HR down under 140 and rolled through the rain.  I couldn’t stop smiling, it was just like I’d run through so many times in my head.  I kept thinking how the rain was upsetting everyone else and I was loving it -21 degrees and a bit of rain is a great days riding in the UK!!

I’d hope to hit T2 in 6hrs but wasn’t disappointed to have slipped back to just 6:04 but I needed the confidence that easy lap on the bike gave me.  Another quick transition and out onto run.  Now I was danger zone with no idea if I’d collapse. I kept reminding myself the race doesn’t start until 10miles into the run so I took it super easy.  I let half a dozen guys (and Jo Lawn) run through me and I settled into 4:30 pace for a 3:10 ish marathon.  I hit the 10.5k turnaround and started to feel really good.  Running back into town with a bit of headwind I was in an incredible state, it just felt easy.  I was holding myself back at 20k – what a difference a year makes.  

Out onto the last 21k lap I took a body check and everything seemed ok.  The legs were tired but didn’t yet feel really damaged, I was still getting the fuel down me and I just needed to keep moving.  I think I negative split the 2nd and 3rd 10.5k’s.  I’d told myself I just had to get to the 31.5k turnaround and then it was so close to over it didn’t matter.  In the end it pretty much worked, k’s 30-35 were tough but I treated myself to loo stop at 32k just before the largest hill, a drag up to the airport, and new I”d feel great after that.  I lost 70secs but it made all the difference as I had a spring in my step as I hit the hill.  From there it was just holding on until 36k when I let myself go and gave everything I had left.  The last couple of k’s I got down to about 4:30 and I was killing it. That’s what 226k does to your legs I guess.

At no point did I have any idea where I was in my Age Group.  I was counting people at the turnarounds and I knew I was in about 50th place after 10k of the run, but I wasn’t able to spot who I was overtaking as everyones body marking had washed off in the rain.  I had it in my mind that 9:29 was good enough for a slot last year so I was pushing for sub 9:20 and just doing everything I could. Turns out I caught 6 guys on the run and just missed the 7th who finished 5th 8 seconds ahead – perhals I shouldn’t have been showboating on the finish line.

It was an anxious night last night as we didn’t know for sure how many Hawaii slots would be allocated in my age group.  In the end the pro-rata distribution ended up giving 6 slots to 30-34 age group and when we went to check the results this morning my name was in highlights! 

After nearly 4 years chasing this slot it was a pretty emotional moment and it’s still not really sunk in.  But I’ve paid my money, and got my certificate.  Funny, suddenly it seems so easy…

I’ll write again soon and will try to get some decent pictures online.

All that remains now is to work out how the hell I pay for this and how hard I want to train this NZ winter.

Thank you all so much for your on-going support I would not have achieved this without the friendship  and love of so many people. 

Thank you Laurence x

Friday, 4 March 2011

Rhythm and Flow

For me the highlight of last nights pasta party and race briefing was the local Maori Kapa Haka group - this year they had time for a decent performance and the group leader finished with a blessing for all athletes.  As well as wishing that our paths were as smooth as greenstone (love that) he also hoped that we would find our own rhythm and flow to take us through our journey.

For me these two words have a lot of harmony with the on-going advice from Dave Parry and the mental preparation I try to adopt coming into an Ironman.  Don’t fight it, find your own race, accept there will be some suffering, but that it will be temporary.  

As much as I would love to be blasé about the event, unfortunately it’s not in my nature and I find the week prior takes a great deal of emotional energy.   As with my last 2 or 3 Ironman races I have done what I can to simplify life leading to the race day and prepare as much in advance so I’m not wasting anxious energy this week.  After a busy few days I was able to get out of work on Tuesday night and we got up to Taupo in good time Wednesday lunchtime.  Mel and I have rented a house from some friends about 3miles south of town, its quiet and away from the Ironman circus.  

Apart from requisite registration and briefing, etc. and a quick emergency tubular purchase (after all the rear wheel drama last week my front popped on Weds) we’ve been holed up out of town. 
I rode the bike into town earlier today to drop it off and it feels incredible.  The new 1080, two new tyres, new bar tape and a service at Capital (thanks Paul, Mike and the team) and she feels better than new.  I don’t think I’ve been this comfortable on my race bike before, it’ll be another story after 5hrs aero tomorrow, but having confidence in the bike is half of the battle.

The forecast for tomorrow isn’t ideal.  Looks like northerlies and heavy rain.  That should mean a flat swim, a tailwind back to town each of the two laps of the bike and a headwind back to town each of the two laps on the run.   Apart from the heightened chance of a flat in the rain it makes little difference, it’s always (very) windy in Wellington so I’m used to a bit of wind and as a Pom I must be happier in the rain than most of these fair weather antipodeans!!

As always I received some sage advice from Mr Parry this morning; play the long game, remember the race doesn’t start until 10miles in the marathon and that then it’s going to hurt.  Unlike last year, I’m going in with suitable respect for the distance and I’m prepared to suffer to realise my goal.  I must remember to separate the emotional response from my physical condition and not fight the pain as it’ll be over shortly (the quicker I go the sooner it will be over!).

All to do now is try to get some rest and get out there. I can’t wait.

Mel is going to try and get some tweets onto the feed (on the right) and as always you can track on the athlete tracker at (I’m number 406).  Thank you all for your support over the last few months (years) and the messages this week.  I’ll update as soon as I can with results…