Monday, 26 August 2013

3 slow half marathons in 3 weeks

It has been an interesting few weeks as I ramped up the training. I thought to myself, why go on 20k+ long training runs when I could simply enter a half marathon and do the training under event conditions? Not bad logic in my opinion. So what did I do? I entered three half marathons on three consecutive Sundays. Don’t do things by halves in this household.

Why stop at simple flat course half’s too? So week one (three weeks ago), I turned up as part of the “Tan Ultra Trails Plus” event where there were some serious nutters running 100k, 50k, 42k, 30k (and 12k) and punched out 21.1k around the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. The iconic track around the outside known as “The Tan”. The track is 3.87k (or so) and that meant we started in the opposite direction to the rest of the runners, went out (up a slow hill) for a kilometre or thereabouts, did a turn and then ran 5 laps of the Tan. The course includes a steep hill, known to all Melbournites as Anderson Street, which I had to navigate 5 times – once you’re up the hill you have a slow steady decline (with a couple of small bumps) for 3kms, only to front up to the monster again. With me passing the drink station 5 times, I overdid the water intake and felt a tad “sloshy” at the end of the event, going around in 2:33 – which disappointed me as I wanted to be under 2:30 but I told myself it was a training run and set my sights on week 2.

Last Sunday I ran the “Sandy Point Half”, which has been going for a number of years and is used by a number of people as a lead up event for the Melbourne Marathon which is coming up in October. The course used to run through Sandy Point, but this year they started at Mordialloc and we ran out for 10.55k did a u-turn and ran back. Sounds simple, not when there were 60km winds – head winds for the 1st 10.5kms, which sounds okay as you have a tail wind to bring you home. Only issue is you’re spent and you’re only half way. This was also the first time they’d run the full marathon on the same day and I ran with quite a few in the last 5 or so kilometres and they were done, the first half into the wind sapping their energy for the last half of the race. I was very happy with my efforts, given the conditions, running 2:25 so eight minutes faster than the week before.

Next up was the trails of Silvan Dam, part of the Salomon Trail Series (Race 3) which have gotten progressively longer and harder. Race one was at Studley Park, 15kms on quite easy trails narrow and a bit frustrating as the middle course 10k runners came up your rear. Race two at Plenty Gorge with four river crossings and more elevation than race one and a further 2.6kms to go. Yesterday was the half marathon and the elevation was serious. We had one hill that climbed 80 metres over a 400m stretch, that seriously busted the lungs even though I could only walk it. We then had a steady climb of 200m over a 1.5km stretch – now that did make the lungs, glutes, calves, thighs and other body parts seriously burn. But what goes up must come down so there was a chance to up the pace and stagger down a hill or two. Given the muddy slippery conditions you couldn’t do it flat stick but the minutes lost going up some were gained coming down.

Yesterday’s event had amazing scenery with fern lined trails, massive mountain gum trees, piles of leaves, stringy bark all over the trail, fallen logs (remember it was bloody windy the weekend before) which you had to clamber over and the most wonderful sight….the finish line. In my mind the finishing time was irrelevant (3:12.28) as it contained 729m of elevation gain and fallen tree clambering but with a cutoff time of 3:30 I was there with time to spare – I must admit there were a couple of times up a couple of those hills where I thought I wouldn’t make cut-off but hey that’s for another day.

Next week and the Sunday run will be a slow long one – may even give myself a rest and do a light 10k or so. But it’s been a fun filled three weeks as the kms are getting back into my legs, the body is pulling up better each time and the ankle and hip and knee pains from the 100kms are a thing of the past. Marysville full 42km marathon on 17/11 here I come!!!

On the charity front I’ve banked the earnings from my sister blog to Neuroscience Research Australia (AUD $54.33) and will continue to do so until June 2014. Fundraising page can be found at but it will a few more months before I officially launch the latest fundraising venture.

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