Rollin’ and Tumblin

First, some post race analysis from Two Bays last month. Coming into it this time around, I knew what to expect and adjusted my pacing to the course accordingly – saving my energy climbing Arthur’s Seat and making gains for the rest of the course was my plan and amazingly I made the whole course without tripping and rolling over. Two Bays is a stunning course that runs from Dromana to Cape Schank across 28km, or Cape Schank to Dromana and back for the 56km ultramarathon, all along the Mornington Peninsula with a challenging trail course with lots of incline and decline.

For the most part it felt like I was running a strong race, not pushing it too much and managing myself on the inclines and declines. I felt that a course PB, or the very least another sub-3 hour finish was on the cards. My steady pace dissipated however once I crossed 22km, where my right calf had enough and refused to function properly, leaving me to hobble and walk the remaining 6km and with finishing in a time of 3:19. This was maybe to be expected having effectively one month of training after another month of recovering from New York City Marathon, little technical trail experience, and/or not enough long training milage in my legs. So time was the element working against me, despite taking a much more (comparatively) conservative approach to post marathon recovery (where in 2013 I was back running a week after Berlin Marathon, in Munich during my visit to Oktoberfest (yes my love of running only slightly eclipsed my love of beer)).

Looking back now it was a pretty good day for running, but at the time after finishing I was pretty despondent, having fallen away so hard at the later stages and especially feeling let down in front of my running club for what I felt was a poor performance. I even wondered if it was even any point in racing anymore (very dramatic, I know), but ultimately decided this one poor performance and I had time to make a lot of improvement.

Doing it tough at this year's Two Bays 28km

Doing it tough at this year’s Two Bays 28km

Touching base properly for the first time in 2015. I’ve laid down my plans for this year, and for the first time this year I’ll be running the Melbourne Marathon this year. Focusing on shorter races in the interim, starting with a Sri Chinmoy 10km race, followed by a return to Run for the Kids and the Great Train Race hoping to have made significant improvements with my form and technique and translating them into good times and better performances across the longer races and training runs.

I’ve got two major half marathons lined up in the first half of the year – the first one being the Geelong Half Marathon. I’ve heard this is a flat course and I entered mostly on impulse, but I’m looking forward to see if I can challenge my 2013 PB of 1:38. There’s a couple of weeks to go and a few other races I have lined up so it will be good experience for this year.

The next half marathon will be another trail race also in the Geelong region, the Surf Coast Trail Half Marathon – Great Ocean Road Half Marathon was an option but taking into consideration training and travel options The main challenge will be first of all terrain – being a trail race interspliced with sections of sand, stretching up to 4km. Secondly, a fairly minor one is distance in that Surf Coast Half is slightly longer at approximately 22.4km, which isn’t too much of an issue, considering that Two Bays is 28km and by then I’ll have already raced a standard-length half marathon.

While I’ve only been running for 3 and a half years, I’ve seen quite a lot of newcomers to both my running club and in general. A week ago I decided to undertake a Community Coaching 1 course, which I found very .  I’m taking in a long term view to build up before doing Level 2 Recreational Running Coaching, given that 30 hours of coaching are required and have a lot of my own running to focus on, but hopefully by the next year or so I can take the next step and be valuable to runners of all levels. This will be through my experiences both on and off the track, building on what knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained throughout my running and racing as well as through academic articles.

With the ultimate goal for the year to run a sub-3:20 at Melbourne Marathon this year, 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year in running – hopefully I can manage my body well and mitigate any injury that might arise.


Knock Me Down

Running in the New  York City Marathon reignited my passion of running, and for the most part the running I’ve been doing has been pretty strong – my overall times has been getting faster and closer to where I was pre-injury.  That said, there’s always a fine line between getting faster and getting injured.

True to my word  from the last post I spent the remainder of my time traveling resting and more importantly not running – just taking my time wandering the streets of Boston, Montreal and Toronto, taking in  the sights, eating well and making new  friends with fellow travellers.

Coming home so far has been interesting experience for my recovery, or what can be argued as contradictory to it.
As it turns out I’m still yet to grasp the full concept of recovery (continuing on by doing things the Ross Pentland wrong way). Physically I’ve been through the other side of a marathon before, though I was attempting “easy” runs as soon as the Wednesday

Fortunately, I  have a good network of support to help me get my head straight.

After two weeks off, I arrived home and threw myself into the deep end, starting by running my 50th parkrun which is quite a celebrated milestone in the parkrun community – for those that don’t know, parkrun is a community/volunteer based running initiative that started in Shepard’s Bush in London back in 2004 and since then has gone on to be a worldwide running community.
Upon coming home, there was a slight concern that I may have undone two weeks of rest in those 68 and a half minutes of running-turned-racing, though the effects of the long haul flight from Los  Angeles was a contributing factor.

City2Sea 2014

Despite starting 5 minutes in the wave after me, this guy in the squid costume ran me down in the home straight

City2Sea 2014

Running strong at the finish of another City2Sea

I’ve only started running 4 times a week, though mostly training by myself save for my routine parkruns, one fartlek session with the Crosbie Crew and a running assessment with Freedom Sports Medicine.
At the behest of my physios and coaches, a key focus this time around has been on active recovery even going as far to recommend against participating too seriously in quality sessions, particularly focusing away from any serious speed sessions. Nonetheless it’s good to be back around the crew and back home running.

As for the next year ahead besides Two Bays I haven’t committed to anything just yet – there are races I’ve listed as my ideal year ahead.

In the meantime I’ve recently joined Strava – I’m also still on RunKeeper, though I have to say I’m impressed with the community and level of support that Strava has at the moment.  Hopefully I’m able to keep myself in check over the summer and not push myself too hard while I sort out my body and year ahead! Here’s hoping to an injury-free year and some new PBs!

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Great Expectations

First the elephant in the room – I actually started writing this post in August but lost track of time and as I’m now in America for marathon #2, it was about time to look back at the past 5 months to determine how much has changed and where I’ve improved.

A lot of my goals were adjusted throughout the year to focusing mostly getting my body right and getting through runs without stopping, picking 3 key races on the way to New York Marathon – Run Melbourne 10km in July, Devilbend Half Marathon in August and Melbourne Half Marathon in October. There’s been some improvement along the way and I’d like to credit some of that to joining the Crosbie Crew.

My first informal interaction with the ‘crew would have been through one of the training sessions held for one of the major running events in Melbourne. Unofficially regarded as Melbourne’s premier running club, the Crosbie Crew boasts some seriously credentials amongst both its members but more so its coaches, so there’s definitely a wealth of experience to learn from. Having joined the Crosbie Crew, firstly as a visiting member through the Run Melbourne training sessions and then eventually as a fully-fledged member I eventually saw some steady improvement back in my running – unlike the event sponsored training sessions which have you running in groups to different distances and paces, the Crosbie Crew run more quality based sessions emphasizing increasing your speed, endurance or both to improve your general fitness and running power as opposed to just jogging for extended periods of time.

Additionally I’ve seen a steady improvement in my parkrun times – of the 5 new parkrun venues I’ve run, 2 of those have yielded sub 22 minutes runs, with a few sub 23 minute runs as well. At the moment I’ve settled on making Lillydale Lake my new home parkrun, but still taking up the occasional chance to indulge in some tourism to run on some different courses and challenge myself on different terrain. (Westerfolds parkrun has with it’s sharp rise at the 4km mark has my vote for Victoria’s hardest parkrun, but gets a vote for the odd spot of kangaroo spotting.) But enough about that, I should actually discuss some of the races I’ve completed.

July marked the annual Run Melbourne event. This hear I was stepping down from my usual half marathon distance to do the 10km run, mostly to see if I had gotten any better. Race day came and it was different to previous years in that I still woke up early but took my time getting out the door for the 9am start. It was a nice change from the last two years getting up and getting the start at 7am when it’s still dark (and slightly colder). That said there were still large crowds to navigate upon arrival as many of the half-marathoners had finished and collecting their bags at the same time as the 10km runners were getting ready. The main aim of the race was to finish the whole race without stopping – manage that and it would be furthest I had successfully run all year since my injury. I started a fairways back of the pack, running 5:15-5:20/km, which was a little frustrating for someone who was previously capable of starting much faster but this was ultimately a success factor preventing me from burning out to fast, picking up the pace as each kilometer went. My middle pacing increased to 4:50s to 4:40s & 4:30s, closing out with my final kilometer a blazing 4:06. My finish time was 47 minutes which wasn’t a PB, but a huge victory nonetheless.

The next big city road race on the horizon was the Melbourne Half Marathon in October. There was about 12 weeks or so between then and Run Melbourne, so again my focus was getting more endurance into my running which meant pushing out longer runs. The Crosbie Crew lent run leaders with the official event training series and running with the group for runs that went as long as 34km helps when you’re all working together and chatting through the kilometers, so it seemed like the best course of action.

Devilbend Half was an interesting experience. While 1:49 isn’t my worst result at the distance, I still had a bit of work to do in improving my pacing and endurance.  My first 5.25km were on track for a PB but then halted when I broke down to a walk – in short I had foolishly gone too fast, too soon.  I mentioned this before when I wrote about running Great Train Race in that there were patches of good running before – just about the second half of the run – it’s frustrating that those moments I’m running well don’t last as well as I would hope. Still there were some take away lessons, the hills made it a challenge as did my calf tightness in the first half of the race which strangely subsided after halfway but I still needed some work. This is where the slow long runs with the Crosbie Crew came in.

Australian Running Convention was another highlight – meeting my hero in Tristan Miller who more or less inspired me to not only just run a marathon, but to do so while traveling and seeing the world, meeting new people and just taking the biggest crack at living the life you can dream of. If you’re not familiar with Tristan’s story Run Like Crazy, you definitely should check it out – I’m still in awe of the very thought of traveling for a year to a run a marathon a week in so many iconic cities and landmarks around the world.
The convention itself was really insightful with loads of helpful advice from physios and elite athletes learning a lot from injury prevention, technique and mental strategies.

Another change I made was with my physio – Ross Kinsella a 2:43 marathoner of Freedom Sports Medicine whom I met at the running convention took it up a notch – first of all making sure my hips were structurally sound to begin with getting X rays and MRI scans. This was preceded with some anxious waiting with the fear that if I had done something to myself really badly I would be looking at surgery. Fortunately my hips looked good and my physio confirmed the good news and had me working on some new exercises that looked at strengthening my hips and loosening the tension in my TFL, which was identified as the bugbear muscle that had been plaguing me for so long.

Then came the penultimate test – Melbourne Half Marathon, 12 October 2014. This was a chance of redemption from my half marathon disaster two years ago, where I struggled as a result of over training and straining my ITB.  In similar weather conditions to 2012, perhaps the warmest Melbourne my best run of the year, a four minute improvement over Devilbend but more importantly, as it was at Run Melbourne it was the continuous effort and endurance over any speed that was the takeaway victory of the day. My pace had a bit of falloff at the15/16km mark but some encouragement from some fellow runners and the crowd rallied for support to keep me going for a 1:45 finish in my strongest performance of the year.
An important post race ritual I’ve taken to this year is celebrating my runs, and the Crosbie Crew threw a huge rehydration party celebrating everyone’s performances across the different distances in the running festival.

While I’ve all but ruled out a PB as I have with my other races this year, I’m nonetheless looking forward to taking in the atmosphere of New York Marathon and enjoying my two weeks in America leading up to it.