Monday, 26 May 2014

Race Review Marathon 8 #Ouch #GORMarathon

Race Start
Well I made it. You can do a marathon and in this case a 45km road run off 7 weeks training.

The good was that I loved the race - The Great Ocean Road is spectacular, the bad is that I suffered for the final 15km (although that is no surprise) and the ugly is me vomiting in a plastic bag down the freeway racing to get to the airport!

Its best to start from where we left off, I was on the train travelling out to Geelong on Friday night. It had been a really hectic couple of days with work, travelling to Sydney and Melbourne. But it was finally time to relax and settling into some "quiet time" before getting too pumped up about the marathon ahead.

My quiet trip on the train to Geelong was interrupted by the ticket police giving me a virtual full body cavity search prior to arriving at the station. When I finally arrived I was just glad to be in one piece!

Greg picked me up from the Train Station and it was great to be back in his company. As a person he shares a lot of similar values and life outlooks as Ben, and we had a great time catching up over a couple of beers and a meal at a nice pub in Geelong. Greg and Stef had moved to Rocky from Geelong for work and about 18 months ago moved back. Whilst he was in Rocky we drank a lot of beer and shared a love of cricket and footy.

Greg ran Gold Coast Marathon in 2012 as part of a "bucket list" and hasn't really run since. His number 1 passion is golf and the deal for the weekend was I was going to come and watch him do his magic at the local course on the Saturday and he was going to taxi me around Sunday, "taxi" turned into scenes from the Dukes of Hazzard - more on that later!

Bells Beach

Greg chipping on
On Saturday I slept in to 7am, felt great and begged Greg to take me to Bells Beach. One of my favourite action movies is Point Break and in the final scene Agent Utah (Keanu Reeves) character follows bank robber Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) to Bells Beach where Bodhi surfs Bell's massive waves in the a 50 Year Storm. So I just had to get to Bells!

After Bells Beach we headed to Greg's childhood golf course where he has also until recently been club President. My job was to caddy and take a bit of video of Greg's swing so he could look at some areas to improve. It was a really solid afternoon, just relaxing on the golf course watching Greg absolutely carve up. His biggest drive was 310 meters. Just insane. When  he got in trouble his recovery shots just bailed him out, time and time again he was able to put the ball next to or on the green to make an easy par. I've played a bit of golf and know how hard it is, Greg is a gun player and it's no wonder he has won a number of tournaments in the Geelong area since returning.

After I had walked about 6km doing my Caddy duties I was starting to tighten up a little in the left calf, and got a little worried that it was going to give me problems the next day. By the time we got to Lorne and had dinner it was close to 8pm, we watched a bit of the footy and went to bed ready for the marathon.

First things first, I wasn't really nervous until 10 minutes before we left the motel. It just felt like a long training run, the race start was about 5 minute walk up the road - and as we left the motel people were starting to make their way to the start area and do their warm up. I had dressed in a long sleeve Nike top and Scody singlet, I didn't want to get cold or sun burnt from a long day out on the road.

Race Start

The race start was delayed for some reason and we waited around for a long time, at about 8.10 I think we got started - and I placed myself at the rear of the field to make sure I didn't get carried away with going too fast early. The road was full of runners with all shapes and sizes running around the 6.15 pace. I was really careful not to go any faster than 5.30 pace on the downhills so I didn't blow up. It was a really odd feeling not to be even slightly concerned with my km splits, this is meant to be a race but it was the furthest I had run since GC 2012 so I just needed to get roll my legs over and get into the groove.

The views along the road are simply spectacular. On your left side for 45km is the ocean, at various stages she is quiet and calm others she roars with spectacular huge waves curling over and crashing onto the rocky outcrops. Running this marathon was so different to others in that there was virtually no spectators thus the only noises were shoes and running chit chat. It was so tranquil I forgot I was even in a race for the first 15km.

As I had started at the rear of the field I found myself just cruising along, passing people and having a chat at their pace for a while. I ran with a lady for about 15 minutes, she asked me why I was at the back running so slow and that I looked "fast" and should be up the front, we had a good chat until she said I was going too slow and should probably go faster!

Along the run it really felt like I was running an Ultra, there were little to no crowds and most people were running in pairs or solo at a comfortable pace. It wasn't really a "race" and didn't feel like there was a huge sense of urgency to finish. Everyone seemed just to be enjoying the day out.

I think everyone should just go and sign up and suffer through a marathon like this. Where you just run, walk a bit, stop take photos, run slower and talk to other marathoners. I have never had such a relaxing race. I can certainly see how people run multiple marathons over a year. It is such a different feeling than running for a time and pushing for a PB.

Done - Marathon 8 is complete

I received a text from Greg saying that he didn't want to alarm me BUT I better stop stuffing around as there was a 40 minute wait to get out of Apollo Bay. The drive back to the Melbourne Airport was going to take about 2.5hrs, so I knew we would be cutting it fine if I finished at 1pm, but the problem was we started about 10 minutes late and I didn't realise the delay getting out of Apollo Bay.

So after collecting my medal, I immediately walked back to the car and we left (or tried to leave) - we sat in the car for 40 minutes trying to get out of Lorne. The GPS said we would arrive at the airport at 4.40pm. Greg said it would be touch and go if I would make it to the airport.

The spoils

If you have ever run a marathon, you can at the end feel a little emotional. Sometimes really happy, other times tired exhausted and even a little teary. Well I was a little teary, after a spectacular weekend with Greg and an awesome day enjoying the scenery, now I was stressing out that I wouldn't make it home.

Getting home was always going to be a challenge, I had already been away 4 days and was really starting to miss the kids terribly. If I missed the 5pm flight that was it, I could get back to Brisbane but would miss the connecting to Rockhampton.

Now I would never say Greg broke the speed limit or we did anything risky but below is a true representation of Greg's ute as we made our way through the "back roads" of Geelong to the motorway. Greg promised it was the quick way!

I'm not sure if it was the motion sickness, stress or post marathon nausea but as we hit the motorway I needed to vomit. I reached down and grabbed a plastic bag and spewed into it as we were driving along. Up came powerade and plain Smiths chips. However we couldn't pull over as we were so late so I had to carefully drop the bag out the window. I never litter - so feel really bad, but I wasn't prepared to nurse a bag full of spew all the way to the airport.

I checked in on-line as we drove along and just hoped that they would let me on the flight.

We arrived at the airport, and I raced up to the counter. It was 4.45 and I begged the ladies to let me on the plane, they took my bag and said I had 2 minutes before they shut the doors. I raced through security, cutting in front of the line and made my way onto the plane. As I walked on they shut the doors behind me. I sat down, exhausted, I was still wearing my running gear.

I sat there with a stink of caked on sweat all over my clothes, spew on my shorts - holding my medal. Marathon 8 was complete. With no time goal it was liberating just to enjoy the day and the scenery. In reflecting what it means, it certainly feels like the start of something new. Reborn as a runner, maybe this is the future. Just running with no pressures of time or pace. Besides my first marathon this marathon had none of the post marathon blues about how fast I should of went.

8 Marathon Medals

With Gold Coast Marathon 6 weeks away, it is time to get in and smash out a big block of training. Brenden was in Beast Mode and crushed a 1.39 half marathon yesterday, so I will just have to run with him and hope to hold on for as long as possible.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

#PexRunsGOR Race Preview

"Runners Fear The Marathon Too Much, But Fail To Respect Her Enough"

I'm lucky to have never met another marathoner before I ran my first marathon. There is a certain fear and uncertainty about 42km. Can I actually run that far? What if I walk? What will my time be?

When the conversation lends itself to what races people are running, many runners never challenge themselves to see what they are capable of. Running is certainly a metaphor for life, how many people set goals that they CAN achieve? No stretch goals, just happy to go through the motions of life. I guess that's why I was initially interested in ultras - to find my limits.

7 weeks ago I thought I would love to get to 10 marathons. That means running 3 this year. I didn't really plan on running a race so soon and it seems silly just to go from zero to hero, but I have struggled through a few races not being fit enough and if I know one thing, its that I know how to suffer with the best of them.

Many runners won't take a big bite, won't sign up for a race for fear of not finishing, or sign up and not start. Failing is part of life, the old saying you learn more from your failures than your successes, it's so accurate with running. For those runners brave enough to have a crack at a new distance, be it stepping up from the 5k to the 10k or up to a half or full marathon good on you. Our busy lives often mean we never have enough time to properly train or be "fit" enough, but we should all have a crack anyway.

The second part of the quote is aimed at those of us who stretch our time goals for the marathon to the point of breaking ourselves. The quest for sub 4, sub 3.30 or sub 3hrs sends you insane with pace strategies, split times and various versions of cutting edge training plans. 42km is a long way and if you don't respect her, your time goal will evaporate. Common errors are racing injured, cramps, running too hard early in the race, not training at race pace, dehydration and hitting the wall.

This weekend I get a chance to try something new, to run a marathon for fun. In the USA there is a huge following of people running marathons for fun, as a social occasion. A big training run. I guess mainly because there are so many marathons, and if you are going to run long on a weekend, you may as well do an event that is supported with aid stations. This weekend that is me, running along with my iPhone taking photos and loading them up to my Twitter feed (@runpexrun).

A small part of me feels like it is disrespecting the marathon, not taking her serious enough, treating as a training run BUT a huge part of me is loving the feeling of knowing I'll have marathon 8 under my belt with zero pressure on myself to run a time. If I stop to grab photos, talk to the aid station volunteers, connect with other runners, and walk out a tough section it will just be part of the experience.

After I run 3.30 in Melbourne, I am going to target more marathons for fun next year. On the list in Australia is the Outback Marathon which is run near Uluru, I would also love to run a marathon in NZ with Benny.

Make sure you follow me on twitter Sunday. I'll be tweeting photos using the hashtag #PexRunsGOR

Best of luck for everyone running TNF100 on Saturday. Silvia, Marty, Gav and Rails go and smash it up!

Be safe on the roads


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Too far in to back out #PexRunsGOR

New Gear from RoadID - never leave home without
Ever get that feeling where you over commit and realise that this probably won't end well?

I had that feeling last week on my mid week longish run with Brendan, we headed out reasonably early and locked into a solid but comfortable pace. Cruising down Dean St where it is a slight drop in elevation I noticed that we both had stopped talking and were pushing a little harder than was the original "plan".

All seemed to be going well until around 15km when I started to feel cooked, my legs just seemed to be dying and I couldn't hold the pace. Brendan (from where I was looking) looked really solid, his gait was awesome and he wasn't fading or slowing. We grabbed a drink at 16km and I said I was done, we cruised the last couple of KMs home and I was disappointed that we didn't get the 20km in.

As I sat at my desk at work I started to have a little panic attack. What have I done? I couldn't get through 20km how the f$%k am I going to get through 42.2 (45km). We ran 18km at 5.35pace ave with only 3 really short drink breaks. A long way from the 4.58pace we need for a sub 3.30 marathon.

Originally I thought I would set a couple of smaller time goals for the marathon. Run a 1.55 half marathon, then see how I felt - if I felt good push along for a 4.00 marathon. I am so far away from having any endurance it is not funny. The mind is willing but the body is rebelling. WTF are we doing this for again!

More positively we were able to crush a couple of endurance interval sets. I see no point in doing short speed sessions, I have that ability to run 400s fast. I need to be doing longer intervals, hard and hold stuff. Last week we did 4x6min intervals and this week it was 5x1km intervals. Both sessions were tough but bang on the times we required.

By October I would like to be in sub 19 minute 5km shape and 43 minute 10km shape. They are 2 achievable PBs that will make sure I am on track for a good crack at 3.30 in Melbourne.

In regards to Great Ocean Road Marathon next week - I have adjusted my thinking to simply surviving. Just grinding out the KMs and trying to soak up the view. I am worried about how much I will be falling apart in the last 15km but I've committed now and gone too far to back out.

Marathon number 8 awaits.