Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Karen writes: The NEXT big challenge

I've done it.  I've signed up for my first 50km ultra-marathon.  This will be in Brisbane in August, involving a flattish run made up of different combinations of  legs on a river-side course, map below showing different colours representing different leg choices.  Anyway, this will take me into new territory, part of me thinks mad mad mad, the last 8km of a marathon is always SO hard, why would I want to add another 20% on? Another part thinks its all about the preparation and I would normally walk at least an extra 6km on the same day as a marathon anyway, this is just putting it all together. Ultra-marathon has been on my list of things I want to do, I admit to rejecting a few in challenging terrains with lots of hills in favour of this urban version for my first, it starts at 7am and I have to cross the finish by 3pm, I can do this! I hope.
So in 14 weeks I need to be 'ultra' fit. Before that on the 22nd of June is the Wellington marathon. I'm packing the whanau up and we hop on a plane for a weekend family adventure in the windy capital, might get a chance to explore a little with weather permitting. Hopefully this time we will have our luggage actually arrive with us so that I don't need to be trying to find replacement running shoes the evening before the event like I did last year. The thought has just gone through my head that my next marathon counts a training run, that makes me pause somewhat.

On the training front, straight back into a 3-4 run week with one day of cross training - spin, it's not a heavy load. New coach Garyth has got me doing intervals. Actually he has been kind in the last couple of weeks since the Rotorua marathon and let me do my own thing, but the detailed plan for the rest of this week is due to arrive later today and he did make the threat of both STAIRS and INTERVALS.  Cant stand the things but if I want to be a better runner...

Monday, 19 May 2014

Karen writes: Making Recovery Interesting

I don't do taper well, I don't do recovery well.  Well, that's according to some.  Actually my version of taper still seems to work as in I turn up on the day, feel fine and finish. My post marathon recovery works too as I very quickly return to normal and don't seem to have ill effects.  Last week was the case in point for recovery.  After the drive back from Rotorua on Sunday, hopped on the plane on Monday for a conference in Queenstown. I was up a mountain in my free time ASAP.  I love being fit enough to head out for a walk, and come back 5 hours later having climbed a mountain.  Albeit a fairly small one in the scheme of things. Did two mountains while I was there actually, and an early morning 5km quick run along the lakeside, this run is a traditional part of the NZ Society for the Study of Diabetes conference.
The mountain I'm standing on in the picture above is Ben Lomond.  The saddle where I got to was roughly 1300 meters high.  I started out just for a trip up to the Gondola, had a look around there, then headed down again.  I missed the turning to go back to where I started and ended up on a platform overlooking the lake.  There was a sign which said 'Gondola' or 'Ben Lomond'.  A young woman was there looking at the sign too, we decided we would head up the mountain together and see how it went.

Now this young woman, I will call her S, was from the Czech Republic and it seemed she was wandering round the world.  She was wearing shorts and a singlet in the cold (low single figures), and I found myself wondering if I was going to end up treating her for hypothermia on a mountain top somewhere.  I tend to be a bit paranoid myself and go over the top, carrying everything to excess. Take me out of my comfort zone and I'm in full survival mode, my pack had food, water, warm clothes, space blanket, first aid, water-proofs and more food and I still felt under-prepared. Eventually S reassured me that she was used to mountains where she came from, and that she had more clothes and knew when she was getting cold. Anyway, we hiked, and talked, and slogged up the steep paths to the saddle where she left me as she wanted to keep on going towards the summit.  I started on my way down again and the next thing S came running past, she had received a phonecall to do with a job and needed to be back in Queenstown in an hour and a half and could just do it if she ran all the way.  If you look very closely at the photo you can see a tiny figure in green running furiously.

I took my time, wandered back to the Gondola, then back to town.  I stopped for a milkshake (funny the things you crave after strenuous exercise) and a young woman in office attire comes running up to me.  It was S.  She gave me a hug, we wished each other luck knowing we would never see each other again and went back to our lives. My life would be much less interesting if I didn't run, I just know it.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Karen writes: Rotorua Marathon 50th aniversary

Been so busy I haven't thought about writing.  Too many other things to do. As happens.  Anyway, last night I went off for a short run along the coast as the official start of the newest training effort which is for the Wellington Marathon in 6 weeks.  I was feeling very grumpy by the end of my run.  It was a fast (for me) 6km, beautiful weather, lovely setting by the sea, but the consequences of inattention, a healthy dose of idiocy, and the biology of the overweight runner meant that I came home with nasty chafing in several places, and blisters on my feet.  I paused to reflect that just over a week before I had run a whole marathon with not one single problem, but a short run with poor preparation and I paid for it.

So to the Rotorua 50th anniversary marathon.  Kate and myself headed off on the Friday, shopped our way down the island, settled in at the hotel, did the registration, dinner, icecream and grocery thing and we were ready for a fun day on Saturday. Weather was just perfect, but I wasn't brave enough to set off in the morning without my trusty polyprop top.  It's a scruffy, fuzzy old thing with stripes, I always think I will throw it away in a bin along the roadside somewhere when I take it off but I always tie it round my waist and bring it home because it is an old faithful and 'I might still need it'. There was lots of hype down at the start and 1000's of people. The higher than usual numbers became more obvious when it took minutes to get to the start-line after the gun went off and the first couple of km it was a case of literally squeezing between people who were walking or had obviously started out way closer to the front than their actual speed should have indicated.  The field never did spread out that much, usually I can count on at least some time sort-of by myself, that wasn't the case this year.  So I had a captive audience and talked, talked a lot.  At one point I ran a whole 10km without noticing it because the conversation was so intense. I had met an amazing woman who had come out the other side of an extraordinarily traumatic experience, she had reached a point where the world was returning to some sort of order and her positive strength shone through, we shared some stories and I lost her at a drink station but ran on with plenty to think about. I just love these 'bubbles' where you share someones life briefly in the most personal way, you never see or speak to them again, but you end up with a joint point in time that you just never forget.  We had reflected on the strangeness of this as we talked too.

The run went well overall, as at Ironman I walked less, but ran slower.  I felt strong, my inner ankles got sore towards the end, but nothing else hurt. I had a chat to a first-time marathoner from the local Te Puru runners, she looked strong as she neared the finish, and I crossed the line with my second worst marathon time ever of 4 hours 56, a full 15 minutes slower than my typical Rotorua time.  However, there was good news. I was 2294th out of 3513 finishers, that meant there was a good 35% of the total field BEHIND me, I'm usually in the last 10%.  Even better, I was in the top 55% of female participants, that is SO cool! So perhaps my poor run time was contributed to by something other than just my deteriorating running pace, there might have been an influence from having 42km of overtaking, going round and dodging out of the way of runners who had misjudged their own abilities.

I got my medal, always a priority. There was powerade at the finish which was an improvement from recent years where you had to find a watertank and help yourself to just water. Of course I walked back to the hotel via the lovely ice-cream shop, fig and honey icecream 2 scoops, 1 scoop of the new black doris and creme fraiche. I was in paradise as I wandered along the road, grimy, smiling idiotically, dipping into my icecream. I got a few grins back and lots of congratulations from people who were taking a more sensible approach to a Saturday.

The daylight hours after a marathon are almost impossible to describe in any way that makes sense. Everyone seems to react differently, but for me time feels suspended, you are flat but high, dont know what to do with yourself, feel like food then dont, thirsty then not, sleepy but strangely alert. I'm fortunate that I dont get the extreme pain others describe, but I find the post marathon experience weirdly unsettling but supremely satisfying, its an addictive sort of feeling, perhaps because the state is so hard to achieve.

So another one down.  We headed home via the Fat Dog cafe, my traditional waffles, berries with lashings of real whipped cream went down a treat.  In the car we dissected our experience, we always see different things but what we agreed on was that we are both carrying far too much weight.  While on this occasion I wasn't prepared to give up my post race treats, I really don't want to run another fat marathon. It's just too hard on my body so it's time to try yet another approach to get round the odd effects of endurance training and the ever annoying thyroid problem.  Back to the research, the challenge is on. Here Kate, would you like to finish off the last of my stash of mint chocolate?

Oh, and the T'shirt this year was yellow.