Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Karen writes: Preparation for Rotorua marathon

Sensible eating - yeah sort of, a week before a marathon is not a time to cut calories but also not time to go overboard.  I'm not being particularly successful here. In spite of my good intentions, it is far too close to Easter and there is still too much chocolate around, oh I have NO self control.  Good on you Kate, salad and pasta for lunch.

Gear stocktake - new tri-shorts, wore them last night.  They ride a bit lower than my old favourites, so I have to remember to pull the bottom of the legs up so I dont feel like there is a danger of them wandering down. New top - this works ok, no chafing problems so far.  New shoes, got a few km on them now, seem to be fine. Socks, new too, and it took ages to find the pair that I wanted. Buff visor hat, getting a bit shabby but I still love it, these things just dont seem to wear out, they just get ugly. Energy gels, got a few roctanes and some sportbeans already packed in my fuel-belt (with bib tabs) ready to go. Mans hanky, watch, sunglasses, anti-chafe, printed off e-ticket.  Oh, and raincoat and thermal and gloves just in case. I'm ready.

Tapering - I havent. I usually go for a two week taper, cutting training by half two weeks out, and half again in the final week.  Last week however turned out to be my second highest mileage week of the whole programme.  The thing is I have gotten to 191km so far in April and I would like to hit 200 in a month for only the second time ever, that means a few extra km will be tucked in this week.  I'm trying to think less of it being a case of ignoring the tried and true and more along the lines of it being preparation for my next challenge.

Which is my first ultra.  Australia.  August.  50km, I want to do it in 6 hours.  Now this is a little bit scary, especially when I think about how hard I find the last 8 or so km of a marathon.  Getting ready for this new event will mean that covering a full marathon distance will be just another training run. This doesnt sit well with woman who does a maximum of 30km to get ready for the 42. That attitude might just have to change...

Anyway, this Friday Kate and me will catch up in Papakura and join forces to head down to Rotorua, stopping only for food on the way.  Oh, and probably a bit of shopping, cant forget that.   We register with the other 9000 people attending, collect our t'shirts (big question, what colour this year?), raid the samples at the expo, annoy any promoters who make dubious claims by asking tricky questions, find more food and on Saturday we run.  Roll on Saturday!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Karen writes: More isn't better

Last long run yesterday, I'm officially resting now.  I don't feel like I have done a whole lot of work, but I know I'm ready for the 50th Rotorua marathon in...5 sleeps.

Time and time again I talk to runners (or people who would like to run but think it's an impossible ask) who seem to believe that you need to run and run and run and be in a constant trained-into-exhaustion state to finish a marathon.  That's a No and a No. I found an article the other day which goes to support my point that people training for shorter distance races often do the same or more training volume than is needed for a marathon. This was in an article on Runners World and the author also makes this very valid point

"Runners too often get caught in the mileage trap, thinking more is better. The truth is, more mileage is better only up to the point where you can achieve your potential. After that, each additional mile only increases your injury risk".

The Runners World recommended distances below are in miles, and divided into elite for the truly hard-out and mortal for the rest of us. Notice how the minimum recommended marathon weekly training distance of 30 miles (about 48km) for us mortals is the same as for a half marathon. I should say myself that I wouldn't spend many weeks at 48km or above.  So 8 weeks into into my current 9 week training plan for Rotorua I have done an average of 40km/week (peak of 56km) and been running 3-4 days/week. I'm good to go.

RUNNER: Mortal
MILES/WEEK: 20-25 (32-40km)

MILES/WEEK: 80-100
RUNNER: Mortal
MILES/WEEK:25-30 (40-48km)

MILES/WEEK: 100-110
RUNNER: Mortal
MILES/WEEK: 30-40 (48-64km)

MILES/WEEK: 100-140
RUNNER: Mortal
MILES/WEEK: 30-50 (48-80km)

Monday, 14 April 2014

Karen writes: Things to raise the heart-rate

Big run last sunday, it was 30km plus, I say plus because I am sure the much-loved GPS doesnt record accurately when I am down in the deep bush gullies, I mean I'm pretty sure that when I was running full-tilt down the pine needle covered trail I wasn't doing a 12 minute km which is what the device told me.  No matter, I am happy, the run went well, and on monday I was a little weary but nothing to write  I did another 29.3km yesterday, I plodded along and barely raised my heart-rate, it was a no problems run. It would have been a lot more arduous (read 'boring') if I hadn't had the company of another Te Puru runner who was also in pursuit of 30km. It's always a relief to work my way up to those sorts of distances and I now think I could run Rotorua marathon next weekend if I had to.

Some things do raise my heart-rate though, like on a little run the other day, early evening, I came back through Omana park. I was hot and for a change working quite hard, running the dreaded intervals of 30 seconds fast and 20 seconds slow and having to concentrate on maintaining a rhythm.  Then I heard children screaming in the public toilet, I mean, not a bit of squealing, this was all out screaming, then one child crying. I had to divert and have a look and went into the toilet expecting at the very least an axe murderer to be in there. The noise stopped abruptly except for one small one swallowing her sobs into hiccoughs, the other, a little older, looking at me with big wary, or should I say, guilty eyes.  No axe murderer. I had to say something so I did the speil about not being a good idea to scream for no good reason because one day no-one will listen, all the while keeping an eye out for a parent who may or may not appreciate me accosting their children in a toilet. The older girl paused before she answered, I could see the 'how do I get out of this' thought bubble hovering over her head. Oh, she says at last, we saw a spider. She looks pointedly at the little one who appears confused for a bit then nods slowly.  Ah no I thought, that was the sound of unsupervised kids testing the acoustics of a concrete block building. But it wasn't my job to teach a poor liar to lie better, or to chase down non-existent spiders, so a head-shake and I headed off out into the fresh air again feeling relieved it was nothing worse. A couple more speed intervals and my heart-rate was up again for the better reason of running, rather than fear that something awful was happening.

On another topic known to raise the Havent had to spend any money on clothes or accessories (except for a new pair of sunglasses) for ages having acquired so much sports related stuff over the last couple of years. We now have new 2XU running singlets for Rotorua, the old blue versions we had made up for our fundraising efforts way back in 2012 are getting very worn and their purpose has been served.  The new tops are the most glorious fluoro orange and flare out a bit so there is a bit of forgiveness in the stomach region.  The time has come to again look at getting other things ready for the big run, I know I need new running shoes and I'd better check the state of socks, hats, anti-chafe, sunscreen and supplements.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Karen writes: I've put the wetsuit away

I packed up my wetsuit, it was rinsed and dried after that lovely lake swim in Taupo and I have now carefully rolled it, tucked it into its mesh bag and have stuck it at the back of the wardrobe. The next time I look at it will be much later in the year when we start training for the Rotorua half Ironman which we have already signed up for.

I admit to having a love hate relationship with my wetsuit. Because I loathe swimming in a pool, I'm lucky to live by a good swimming beach, but while a quick dip on a nice day without a wetsuit is one thing, swimming km after km in any weather condition is something else and the neoprene skin makes a big difference.

Now I've learned a little about wetsuits having spent many hours encased in the things in recent years and having successfully managed to destroy a few. I usually buy relatively unused second-hand for very low cost, hoping to get a year of swimming out of each one. It is amazing how many people invest a heap then only use them a couple of times. My wetsuits have a hard life, what with my only training being in the sea which is obviously the complete opposite of what most swimmers do. Initially I didnt care about the purported quality, or if the suit is for a male or female, but now I have found the brand and size that suits me best so I target it and am more inclined to look after it a bit better. What I've learned (so far) about the mysterious world of the wetsuits...
  • Just because wetsuits are traditionally known for needing you to be a contortionist to get them on doesn't mean some aren't worse than others. They are all meant to be pretty tight but if you are mucking around with plastic shopping bags, requiring quantities of expensive lube, ending up with your knee in your ear to get the thing on and then needing three people and a crowbar to close the zipper...perhaps a different sort or different size will work better.
  • likewise, the shape of some wetsuit brands work better with your body than others. It takes a bit of experimentation to find out which compresses your insides in all the wrong places and then allows great sloshy water balloons to form in others.  Just because everyone seems to be wearing the brand that shows up most frequently at events doesnt mean it's the best for you. Male and female versions...I have no waist and the mens styles can suit me better.
  • If your wetsuit gets so big for you that you get yourself a smaller one...think very carefully about getting rid of your larger version.  It doesnt take many kilograms to turn comfortable into impossible!
  • Fingernails and wetsuits do not go together. Having said that, fingernail holes dont mean the wetsuit is in danger of imminent collapse, I'm not convinced that I swim any slower because there are a few nicks in the neoprene.  Obviously a different story for those for whom milliseconds matter.  
  • The latest wetsuits are more fragile than the older ones...and the most exciting claims about super performance in the water seem to  be directly related to fragility as well.  Lots of coloured decoration may not be helpful to longevity, my latest wetsuit has silver on the arms and that bit is guaranteed to stick to itself when the wetsuit is folded up resulting in tearing.
  • A bit of contact adhesive and a needle and thread can extend the life of a wetsuit with holes and splits. Not sure I would recommend this if you have invested in a really expensive, top of the range item, but it works for me...especially when the repair at the shop would cost more than I spent on the wetsuit.  
  • Similarly, I have had a couple of wetsuits where the zipper bit pops off the end, I line the teeth up and put the zipper bit back on and glue and a bit of stitching helps that too. Not pretty, but does the trick.
  • And a word of warning...superfix type glues do not work with wetsuits...unless you want sad looking melted bits and stuck-on white powdery stuff.
  • I take my wetsuit in the shower with me to rinse then hang it out on a hanger on the deck.  The instructions say dry in shade, there is a reason for this...heat tends to melt the rubber together and funnily enough sun and black stuff...generates quite a bit of heat. I actually know this myself having practiced it.  I understand that Kate has done a similar experiment leaving her wetsuit in her car...all in the name of scientific exploration of course.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Karen writes: Extreme exercise

I don't think of what I do as extreme.  I mean, how can an average of less than 5 hours of training a week, my usual for marathon training, be extreme?  Some people spend more time than that at the gym or playing team sports or waving around to their Wii sport controller.  Yes, an average of 11 hours a week for about 12 weeks leading up to Ironman is a little more out there, but even that is still not what I would call excessive, certainly not in comparison to what some people do. I have heard of averages of 20+ hours, eek, that's equivalent to a part time job.

Maraetai Beach early
Anyway, I went to the doctor yesterday to discuss some test results for an annoying but relatively minor problem I have had for a while.  The tests indicated that there was nothing sinister to worry about, but the specialist comment in her report had me laughing, her conclusion was that the problem was "most likely a result of extreme exercise".

Yeah right.  I'm extreme. An extreme athlete, the doctor said so!

Actually this extreme athlete has had a few unplanned easy days recently.  I'm trying to impact less on family time by running early in the morning at 5 am before everyone gets up. It is so hard though to get out of bed at that horrible hour and I admit to having missed a few sessions.  When I do force myself to go out the door and manage to get through the first half hour I marvel that it is a wonderful time to be out running.  I have to say though that even having two alarms set, all my running gear set up and ready to go, and the prospect of a training free evening isn't quite strong enough motivation to make me carry through every time.  The family deserve a bit of a break so I will just have to keep working on it.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Karen writes: Support Crew

Kate is in there somewhere
I was completely exhausted by Saturday night.  Nothing to do with my training, everything to do with being support crew for Kate's Orca Auckland half Ironman.

But what a fun day. Up early and over the road to see Kate started on her 2km swim, the girls declined the opportunity to go back to the house to wait  and instead played in the sand as the sun continued to rise over a picture perfect sea.

Exiting the water, people behind
Then Kate was off on her bike, and I eventually managed to herd the girls home. A couple of hours of housework, well, actually, me tidying and then wasting energy trying to get the girls to tidy their own rooms. Then preparation for a long afternoon ahead at Kawakawa bay while Kate slogged it out on the hot road.

After lunch, girls, chilly-bin, sunscreen, hats, food, frozen drinks, and importantly a chair for me (I like to be comfortable these days, anything wrong with that?) and we drove off to Kawakawa bay.  The cyclists had all gone past Kawakawa bay to Kaiaua by this stage, and we had no problems driving along the narrow winding roads and finding good parking close to the finish-line. Whew, I had envisaged being too early and having to overtake one cyclist at a time for 30km.

End of the bikeride looking fresh
I set up my chair under a tree on the roadside to wait for Kate to come in at the end of her 90km grueling hill ride, the girls headed for the playground to be energetic.

We watched Kate off on her run, and then spent the afternoon talking, clapping and cheering anyone who looked like they could cope with clapping and cheering. When you do something like this you are reminded of how important the spectators are.  You tend to take ownership of a whole heap of other athletes and others take charge of your athlete(s) and it makes for a great feel and a lot of extra support. Eating ice-cream was another important part of the day.

Funny how you keep coming across evidence of just how small our piece of the world is. I was looking at sunglasses in a display having destroyed my longstanding favourite pair and got talking with the man selling them. Turned out he was from the West coast and of course had run across Kate.  I couldn't not buy the pair of purple sunglasses after that.

So Kate finished in under the time she had predicted, she can tell her story of the day, but from the spectator side it looked like she did a great job. And what a fabulous way to spend a Saturday. Here's hoping my girls are so used to their mum and friends heading off to do things like this that they think it is just what everyone does.