Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Redemption Run

So it begins at 3.15am - I have been laying half awake for 15 minutes waiting for my iPhone alarm to go off. That familiar sound means it's time for Redemption. Redemption, a chance to clear my head of the "what if's" since my Ultra debut. Its been 5 weeks since the race, all I have thought about is this run - I've had it marked in my training diary since January 9. A training run the same length as the Ultra, time to run to the plan I SHOULD of executed at Hares and Hounds.

I'm up, all my gear is layed out on the table. I go through my normal routine, coffee, half a peanut paste and jam sandwich then a toilet stop - then gear up.

I'm feeling a little tired, its early, even for me - BUT it was save me an hour of running in the heat leaving at 3.50am. I've already run 70.5km for the week - this shapes as my biggest training run ever and my biggest training week ever.

My newest edition of gear is the new Team HRE jerseys which arrived only 1 day earlier. Its a great chance to test it out on a mega long run - I'm kitted head to toe in orange and black. HRE corporate colours...time to get started.

I walk down the driveway and hit "start" on the Garmin. Its 3.55am - 53km awaits me. A Redemption run. Jason designed this run for me after the Ultra - it is specifically designed to practice my nutrition/hydration and pacing. Jason has put together a number of these tough as shit runs, runs which he thinks will be key for my North Face prep and give me confidence come race day. Benny has designed the overall TNF plan with KM's and volume but has left the details of the runs up to me, so Jason has been providing input into the sessions to provide some variety. Jason knows me as a runner the best, where my weaknesses are mentally, and where I have cut corners the most in the past. They are all designed to test my limits, his sick idea of fun includes;
  1. 4 x Laps of Mt Archer up the road, thats 40km of running with over 2100 meters of total elevation
  2. 2 x Laps of First Turkey for 50km total (25km per lap)
  3. A fatigue run, which includes getting up at 4am riding 60km on the mountain bike then staying awake for 17 hours then doing a double lap of Mt Archer up the road - this one is meant to similate running tired like I will be at the end of TNF
Its not as dark as I thought it would be, the moon is high in the sky and there is no traffic. I am getting into a groove running comfortably, 3km clicks by and I start up the hill out of Rocky towards Yeppoon. Water and perpetuem in, feeling a bit head tired but legs feel surprisingly good for having 70.5km in them this week.

This first 11km is tougher than what I expected, its fairly undulating which you dont really notice driving - I am a little dissapointed with this section, my pace is closer to 7 min km's not the 6.20 pace I wanted to run. BUT I didnt get stressed - I just kept to plan, water and perpetuem, and my electrolytes.

Next minute I am at the Cawarral turn off - and BOOM I am feeling good, running 6.10 pace and feeling awesome. Weird, it shouldnt be this good!

Pete Reaburn has planned to meet me at The Oaks (23km into the run) - he passes me just before Mt Jim Crow and yells out some encouragement, I continue on, invigorated knowing I'll soon have some company.

I refill the bladder in the service station at The Oaks and as I suspected find running with Pete easy, and my pace increases again to about 6.00 pace. We chat and cruise along. Pete has given me so much guidence, training advice and support I almost forget he is The GURU on Exercise Physiology, author The Masters Athlete, an Australian Ironman Age Group Champion and Hawaii Ironman Finisher. I pinch myself often that I get his free advice!

We are really cruising along, I purposely fill my bladder with 2 L of water and have stashed a few extra items in it to weigh it down. I am running with about 3kg of weight, plus my fuel belt. I am waiting for the wheels to fall off, waiting for tired and heavy legs which will force me to slow, to a run/walk - but it hasnt come...yet.

An hour later we crest the last hill into Yeppoon past the golf course, Pete wishes me luck for the remaining 20kms and he turns and runs back to collect his car. I cruise down the hill, around the round about and head for the information centre where I planned to fill my bladder and take stock.

I hit 35km in under 4hrs and the tempurature is starting to heat up, there are also LOTS of cars out now - I get a few beeps, unsure if they are poonies which I know, or just randoms. I blow through my water stop and keep running, I set my sights on the service station at Lammermoor Beach - I am feeling way too good. I'm drinking plenty and the last 2 weeks have backed off the fuel slightly, its seems to be working a treat. The km's keep clocking by, no tired legs like I usually get - just a steady 6.10-6.25 pace cruising along.

At the servo I take a decent break, maybe 5-10 minutes. I buy a bag of ice, 450 ml coke, 1.5 L of water and 45g packet of plain chips. I shove as much ice as I can into my bladder and fill it with water. I give the rest of the ice to an old fisherman, who must of been wondering where the fu#k I had come from, and why I was dressed like I was from the Sydney Mardis Gras.

This was now my chance to test out a walk break, I purposely walk 1km from 38km to 39km I drank about 300ml of cold Coke and eat half a packet of plain chips.This is also the first time I turn on my iPod. I have run purposely without any music for over 4hrs and now I get a reward! Red Hot Chilli Peppers 'Suck My Kiss' is the first song, next up the Gunners with 'Paradise City' then Foo Fighters 'Pretender' - I am feeling amped and set off again, rounding Statue Bay and into Kemp Beach without any dramas. My walk break km took 9 min 30 secs, and has recharged me.

FARRRKKK.... That bus was close. This section of the run is a bit dodgy, there is no shoulder on the road - so I have to run in the grass, I am sure I'll snap an ankle in a hole, but come through this section ok. On the open road it is HOT, the heat coming off the ground is pretty intense. By now I am usually looking for a reason to stop and walk, but surprisingly feel good.

I walk up the hill between Kemp and Mulumbin and run the rest of the way to the Causeway. This feels WAY too easy, I am on top of hydration (that cold water is awesome) and the Coke and chips provided a nice change from Perpetuem and Honey Shots.

I roll into the Causeway well in front my my predicted split times, still running 6.10-6.25 pace. I make a call to Bel and text to Mum (who is the taxi to bring me home) - I then refill the bladder with 750ml of pump - I have a full bladder ready to rock and roll to Emu Park.

I had visualised this last 6-7km as the toughest part, in my head I would be walking, shuffling along with hate and hurt driving me to the end. It wasnt like that at all. It was easy. I say easy becuase it felt very comfortable running along, my pace wasnt falling to pieces and I actually was still smilling!

LMFAO 'Sexy and I know It' comes on the iPod - my boys love that song, it makes me laugh as I think how easy this has been. Its my day today, the hundreds of hours I have invested are paying off. I go through 50km in 5hrs 29 mins which includes a couple of short walk breaks to play with the volume on the iPod.

The last 3km just vanishes, I'm not struggling doing 11 min k's like I was at H&H - I actually put the hammer down a little and run a 6.01 km for km 51!

Mum is waiting for me at the Emu Park bakery and after a couple of quick photos - we head home. Mum has seen me in a bad state a couple of times after marathons, she is amazed at how fresh I look. I sit back and enjoy the trip back to Rocky, a shower then off to Sizzler for a family lunch.

After my H&H Ultra I did feel a tiny bit embarrassed that I had made such a rookie mistake. I do know now that I didnt drink because I was talking to Ben too much - I nearly fell into that trap when I was running with Pete, I had to really think about drinking instead of talking!

I often wonder maybe I just like the romance of running Ultra's more than the actual effort it takes to get there - during the really hard days, or mornings when you struggle to get out of bed, I wonder if it would be easier to run half marathons, most people think 21km is extreme enough. What am I trying to prove by doing something that seems so hard and requires so much committment and effort?

I have a Karno quote on my desk, next to my pens - it sort of sums it all up.

"Most people never get there. They're afraid of or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you're not pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, if you're not constantly demanding more from yourself - expanding and learning as you go - you're choosing to live a numb existance. You're denying yourself an extraordinary trip"


Friday, 10 February 2012

Running With The Pack

Jason and I trained for our first Marathon in 2009 solo. When I say solo, I mean we downloaded the free Pat Carroll program from the Gold Coast Marathon website and loosely followed it. We did most of our training by ourselves, doing what we thought was best, I distinctly remember Jason being injured right before the race, I ran a “massive” 16km run by myself for a “long” run and thought that was going to be enough.
On returning from our Marathon debuts Jason and I contacted the Rocky Road Runners and plucked up the courage to turn up to a Saturday group run. Well it was an eye opener! Let me tell you a secret, 2 weeks after the marathon the only people who turn up for the long run are gun runners, you know the type, athletes, freaks of nature. The runners we met that morning had all run 3.XX or something insane at Gold Coast and didn’t look like they were “busted”, certainly not like we were.
Most of the guys were pretty nice, asking how we went, how many k’s we did in training what shoes we wore etc; the usual running chit chat that is more about seeing how good you are rather than being overly nice.
We headed out from the Frenchville Food Store, and the pace was pretty quick, I got dropped after a couple of km’s, Jason held on for a bit longer – we made it to the Uni for the first drink stop. In hindsight we were getting sussed out to see how good we were. Not that good let me tell you! We hung on for a little while longer, but by the time we got to QMAG we were getting dropped big time.
2 runners came back to check on us, Michael and Geoff. I can honestly say that these two guys are the reason I still turn up on a Saturday. They checked on us, made sure we knew where we were going and said “see you next week”. We just kept turning up. It was like an induction into “the club”. A familiar pattern emerged for me over the next few months, each week, I would hang on a little longer before getting dropped, meeting up at the next water stop for a chat, then pushing on. Jason improved quicker, but I had some good times and enjoyed the challenge.  
Geoff and Michael always checked on us. Making sure we were ok, telling us we were going good (which was probably crap but made me keep turning up), and eventually a few more slower runners joined back on the Saturday runs and I could run with some others at my ability.
In the last few weeks I have had the same conversation with 3 other runners, Donald (who is just starting running training for a marathon debut and lives in Perth), Greg (training for a marathon debut also) and Luke (in Brisbane 2 x marathon finisher and training for The North Face). I have suggested over a couple of emails/texts that they join a running group, to improve their running.
 Donald isn’t keen, cause he thinks he isn’t good enough – doesn’t see himself as a runner (which he is). Luke is random all over the shop, I think he would benefit the most from a group because it would give him consistency and make him a bit more accountable. Which leaves Greg. Greg was man enough to join the group a couple of Saturday’s ago for his first training run of 30km. I see a lot of my own running journey in Greg, trying to work out what I should be doing, what pace, what to eat etc. I’m a details type of person when it comes to running, I can see Greg is also a bit like that.
Greg and I ran with the group for the first 15km or so, usually by that time the group has split into pairs of people running at the same pace. Then we took a detour to get our km’s in. As I guessed, things got tough after 25km or so, but he persevered and kept moving, never complaining, he was experiencing a distance PB with every step.
Greg said later that he wouldn’t of turned up to a Saturday run normally, he doesn’t live close and it’s an effort to drive the extra 20 minutes to get to the run by 5am – but he could see that it is going to improve his running, and is a lot more fun being with like minded people than running by yourself all of the time.
My initial experience in 2009 is a lot different to how things are now for newbie runners, Michael is checking on people even more than ever, coming back to make sure we know where the next drink stop is etc. And Leah and Kelly have done a great job with making the club more inviting to all levels of fitness.
You might ask, how does group running improve your running – it’s not like riding in a group where you are sitting in the slip stream. Running in the group teaches you about pacing, nutrition, hydration and also you get to make friends with similar goals or are doing the same races. I have learnt a lot about pacing and hydration from Gavin and Raelene, Geoff is always great for some positive reinforcement at the end of a long hard run.
If you want to improve your running and add a bit of variety to your weekly workouts, my advice is to run with the pack – group running is fun, safe and is a great opportunity to learn from other runners who have “been there and done that”! Rocky Road Runners leave 5am from Degani’s Farm St North Rocky.
As I said a few blogs ago, I am trying hard not to crap on about how many km’s I have done or what pace I am going at. I can report however that I am feeling pretty good at the moment and as such will be running a 52km long run tomorrow (Saturday the 11th Feb). This run is very important as a confidence builder for my North Face prep, I plan to really work on my hydration and nutrition and most of all enjoy the day out.  I’m not sure how many other runners have run from Rocky to Yeppoon to Emu Park in one run – but I think I will be in a small group if there are any others.
Be safe on the roads, especially if you are on a bike
PS – Good luck to my ultra mentor Run Benny Boy Run this weekend at the Caboolture 12hr, Benny and Marty “The Dr” are going down to set some new PBs. I hope they enjoy the experience, and bring home a trophy or 2 J  

Thursday, 2 February 2012

HRE joins with JDRF

Me: “Gee writing a decent blog about diabetes is hard”
Jason: “Try LIVING with it!”
Huge news last week, Jason and I can confirm that Human Race Events will be partnering with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) as our official charity partner. When looking for a charity partner it really was a no brainer, and it’s an awesome feeling knowing we will be able to directly contribute to fund diabetes research, JDRF do fantastic work and it is a privilege to be able to partner with an International Charity.
If you didn’t already know Jason and his younger brother Troy have Type 1 diabetes (Click here to learn about Type 1 Diabetes ), before I met Jason I had some exposure to it through a much younger cousin, but have never known an athlete who has Type 1.
For me it was such a learning curve watching Jason attempt to balance blood sugar, training and insulin. When Jason and I started to run together in January of 2009 we ran after work, often once my boys were in bed – so 8pm runs were the norm. Often a run was cut short due to Jason having low blood sugar and needing to head back home for more sugar. One run was quite scary, his vision was going on him and we were a while from home – we made it back just in time, but it highlighted to me how much harder his running journey was compared to mine.
Like all Diabetics it is a constant cycle of monitoring your intake of food, blood sugar and insulin. Jason has had a number of races where his performance on the day wasn’t linked to his training effort, but to his body’s limitations. For me as a training partner it was a sobering thought that he can invest all of that time, all of those kilometres to never have the reward and it made me realise that bitching about a sore foot really isn’t that bad. Jason’s diabetes is a major source my runspiration how hard can I push myself? How far? How long? I have a working pancreas so really no excuse not to!
More recently Jason has turned himself into a half man, half robot. He has an insulin pump Click here to read about Insulin Pumps – it has really improved his performance, especially as the events get longer. Last year Jason and I ran the Brisbane Marathon and tore big chunks off our marathon personal bests. Jason raced like a demon and I believe it was having his pump dialled in correctly to supply the right amount of insulin for the gels he was taking, that helped him run a 3.36 marathon – which I would give my left arm to run! If you are wondering if you should get a pump, Jason is a massive source of info about how they work.
So what research does JDRF do? Essentially JDRF is set up to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. Remembering that insulin is a treatment not a cure, so research work needs to continue to find a cure. Click here for research that JDRF does
HRE is going to be making a contribution to JDRF via the Spring Classic event this year using . We will also be working to raise awareness in Rockhampton of the other fundraisers that are also happening like their Walk for a Cure events,  Ride to Cure Diabetes, and Jelly Baby Month (in May).
What can you do to help? If you are on Facebook go and like their page Facebook JDRF Queensland  - it will help to raise awareness of JDRF. When the time comes in September, bring your friends and family to run at the Spring Classic. This year we will have a half marathon, 10km, a 5km fun run/walk and a 2km kids dash – so events for everyone from serious runners to walkers just wanting to stay fit.
We are looking forward to bringing you more exciting info about JDRF fundraising events in the coming months, so stay tuned!

My running over the last couple of weeks has been pretty solid, Run Benny Boy Run recently had a blog about the heat/humidity (which is killing me) and The Tattoo Runner blogged about weight loss. Both of these topics have been big conversation points at my house, I’ve been losing some weight since my Ultra thus not eating crap and of course the humidity is making me a wet mess after each training session (Bel loves washing)!
We had a mini race last week, I ran the 6.4km race at the end of a 101km week and felt tired and flat BUT ran pretty good (for me), Hayden really killed the 3.2km race – I am secretly excited about taking him back to Gold Coast to run the 2km kids dash again this year. Yes I know I am living my life through my sons, but he is having fun so if he didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t register him. Shouldn't that be a lesson for all of us, if running becomes a chore, don't do it?

In the last couple of weeks since I blogged I have registered for another Ultra the Nerang 50km on the 1st of April (who is the fool J) which will be my tester race before The North Face. Benny, Rodney and Eddie are running it, so gives me something else to obsess about before TNF. Ben ran it last year and he said it was pretty tough (he did finish 7th overall) so it could be another long day for me!
Be safe on the roads and stay hydrated!