2015 Cleveland Marathon

299800_197946262_XLargeMy training and motivation have been in the pits lately, I’m over 100 miles behind on my target miles for 2,015 miles in 2015, and I just generally don’t want to be out there. I have some REALLY big ultra marathon races coming up that I need to be REALLY spending time on feet for. The Cleveland Marathon is supposed to help me in the motivation department by being a short term goal.

Now, because my training has been poor, I had no plans on breaking the sub-4 hour wall. I figured if I broke my PR of 4 hours 19 minutes I’d be really happy, and satisfied with breaking 4.5 hours. Ha! How many of you runners have walked into a race with that mindset? “Okay, I’m not gonna race this really hard.” Famous last words…

We arrived in Cleveland Saturday. My Zanesville running mates Bob, Jim and Bill were all entered in the half-marathon, Bill wanting to break 1:30 with a current PR of 1:34. Must be nice to still be that young *lol*. RoseMary and I had a fun afternoon checking in at the race expo and spending time at the Cleveland Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, looking at all the guitars and outfits, watching a film of concert clips of inductees and generally having a good laugh. The 5 of us all got together for dinner although only three of us ate due to the weird schedules of driving to Cleveland. I slept well and didn’t forget anything, which is always good.

Slightly (cough) filtered pre race group

I didn’t get the shirt memo.

The morning arrives, we drive downtown and get nice and close parking. I picked up a yogurt, orange juice and a banana from the hotel lobby. We walk to the starting line and I start looking for a water source to fill my hydration pack for my Tailwind. None to be found. I headed into the sports arena with a bunch of runners who were looking for toilets but all we found were dead ends. Hmmm, I might have to run the first few miles dry and fill up at the first aid station. No, wait, here’s another opening into the stadium and toilets and water fountains abound. Whew.

There were apparently 20,000 people taking part in the races today. That’s a whole lot of folks. I was in D corral with the 4-4.5 hour runners, right where I should be. I fidgeted around in the crowd waiting for the start, there was a very nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner sang, the gun went off, and I shuffled for three minutes until we crossed the starting line and were able to break into a trot.

Where's Wally, er, Myles?

Where’s Wally, er, Myles?

It was a well organised race, some nice suburban scenery along the way. Not very hilly (although looking back at the data there appears to be some hill in the middle I don’t really remember). Funny thing, Strava.com reported my total elevation as 2,850′ (869 meters). It certainly didn’t seem that hilly to me, so checking with MovesCount.com, it showed 1,644′ of elevation (501 meters). Going back to Strava and poking around I find a way for Strava to recalculate based on the barometric readings of my Ambit3, and it comes back and says “So sorry I was wrong the first time, it’s actually 607′ (185 meters)”. So take your pick :)

299800_197905340_XLargeI was feeling really good and figured I’d hang around the 9 minute mile mark (about 5:30/km). After a few miles I caught up to the 4 hour pacer group and ran with them a bit only to leave them behind at an aid station. Hey! Maybe I’ll break four hours after all! The first 10k were spot on at 9:07/mile (9:09/mile will get you 4 hours). For some reason I started picking up speed after that. Between 10k and 13.1 miles (half marathon) I averaged 8:57/mile with an overall average of 9:01/mile. That doesn’t sound like a lot of difference, but it can be, although perhaps what happened later was inevitable either way.

Around mile 16 the wheels started to wobble. I dropped into a walk/run and my times started decreasing. I passed the time doing the math in my head of what I needed to still PR and it was looking good.

Then came the glitch.

The last three miles of the race were on Interstate 2. Three miles of steady uphill (except, of course, for the odd level patch that looked like the top of the hill until you got there and saw even more hill beyond). Four lanes wide of hot, uphill cement. It was hell. Depending on who you speak to, I was either dancing to the YMCA song to keep my spirits up or suffering heat stroke. Me, I’ll go for the optimists dance. (And it obviously amused the photographers, lol)

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299800_197979803_MediumC 299800_197979805_Medium

I had picked up a young lady named Stephanie who had just finished medical school and was running her first marathon. She was walking and looking sore and sad. By trying to motivate her,  I forced myself into a position of having to push myself as well. We were aiming for that 4:15. Ah the vagaries of youth, with only a mile left to go she leaves me in the dust. Kids these days *shaking my head*. I ran the final 3/4 mile with an increase in speed that only somebody who has run that far and hurts that much can understand. A triumphant sprint across the finish line at a clock time of 4:25:20 and a net time of 4:22:36 line to line, 24 seconds slower than my PR net time. Strava trimmed down my time to an even 26.2 (I registered 26.5 miles which is probably one of the closest I’ve ever had) at 4:20:09, less than a minute over my PR.

Flat Myles, post race

Flat Myles, post race

Crossing the line

Crossing the line

So my overall findings…. The race was well presented and organised. There was music every couple of miles blasting from speakers, as befitting the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The swag was good, although as usual I didn’t participate in the after party which was supposed to be rockin’. The only part of the course I disliked was the last 3 uphill miles of interstate, but from speaking to others who have run the race before on the old route, it was a small trade-off for not having to run through the concrete jungles of East Cleveland.

Training: Poor. A lack of motivation and the poor training showed in my crash and burn at the end. I also can blame that on trying to maintain too fast a pace.

Health: No blisters or toenail issues. No chafing thanks to liberal applications of run goo all over my body.

Nutrition/Hydration: Once again I relied solely on Tailwind and it didn’t let me down. No hunger/cramps/wall/stomach issues. I can’t praise this stuff enough.

Would I run it again? Definitely. It’s a fast, fun course if only I’d been in a position to take advantage of that.

Next up, my first 50 mile trail race. GULP!

Keep running,

-Myles

Losing My Ultra Cherry – The Gorge Waterfalls 50k

2015 is to be my (bum-bum-BAAAH!) Year of the Ultra (with accompanying timpani, cymbals and drum rolls). Late last year I decided if I was going to do it, I would do it right. And ‘right’ means aim for the Grand-Daddy of distances, the hundred miler, picking up 50k, 50 miles and 100k along the way. Recognizing the amount of training required for this audacious undertaking, I also decided it would just be this once (I mean, I  deserve a life, too!). Some might say aiming for a hundred miler right off the bat is crazy, but this is the guy who decided he could do a full marathon based on only four months of running. And we know how that turned out *lol*

My training started in December 2014, my hundred miler to be in November 2015. I have a LOT of work on my endurance ahead of me.

I trained fairly well over the winter up until March where for some reason my motivation has gone all to Detroit. In fact, my monthly total for March was 55 miles short of plan, a good 25% missing.

Despite this, the day for my first official ultra-marathon (I had done my own 50k for a lark in the Perth hills in January 2014) quickly came upon me. As I knew I wasn’t aiming for anything but completing the race, there were no real pre-race jitters.  I had chosen The Gorge Waterfalls 50k as my first ultra. The website showed a beautiful course, inundated with waterfalls and greenery. It was so amazing looking that my brain didn’t even take in the 6,000′ of elevation gain over the course.

When I originally announced my intention, my online Google Plus friend Mark Stone, who lives in Washington, said it was a race he’d always wanted to enter as well and since I was making the effort to fly out from Ohio to Oregon, he would join me and we would share our first ultra.

Saturday was spent courtesy of Southwest Airlines, making our way across the country. When we arrived in Portland, Mark and his lovely wife Karen were at the airport to greet us and whisked us off to dinner in a quirky part of Oregon that reminded me of Fremantle in Western Australia. A great taco dinner at Cruzroom. I think my favorite was The Green Meanie. Carb-loading was completed by ice cream at Salt & Straw, which was worth the (apparently shorter than usual) line of 30 minutes out the door.

Sunday morning I breakfasted on yogurt, bananas and orange juice. A fairly typical race morning meal for me. We had to arrive early as RoseMary was acting as a volunteer at the race (very kind of her, it allowed me to bypass the lottery for race entry) checking in runners pre-race. Karen also gracefully volunteered to ensure Mark’s entry, but had an afternoon shift prepping food for hungry runners returning across the finish line. While RoseMary checked in people (some from as far away as France, Portugal and Australia) Mark and I took a warm-up walk and got to see the beautiful Multnomah Falls at sunrise.

Starting LineEverything was fairly well organised. As the 50k route was only one half of the 100k out and back that had been run the previous day, we were bused out to the starting line 32 miles away in yellow school buses. It’s a long time since I rode on a school bus! At the starting point, the Race Director James Varner pointed us in the direction of the few toilets to be found with only a short time to get over 300 people through them for last minute “prep”. Inevitably, the bushes were full of nervous racers shedding those last minute ounces.

With a rather laid back “Follow me through the campground” by James, he led us through the start of the race and we were off. There was no chip timing in the race. Mark and I fell back, not wanting to hold others up and not planning on finishing in under 8 hours. A comfortable pace, walking some of the single trail switchbacks as we climbed. Very pretty scenery, trees, ferns and streams with occasional views of the Columbia river.  Gorge Waterfalls 50k

The first aid station was supposedly at 9.3 miles, although I showed 10.5. I grabbed half a PB&J although I’d been sucking on my Tailwind regularly along the way. As we left the aid station, the Station Captain commented that we would have to hustle to stay ahead of cutoff. This concerned me, I didn’t think we’d been moving slowly, and our time was on track to actually finish in about 7 hours at our current pace. This just goes to show how ignorance about the trail can be detrimental. That last mountain is a doozy.

Gorge Waterfalls 50kLots of pretty scenery. At one point we broke out of the trees to a stunning view of the Columbia river. A woman followed us out and started hooting and hollering about how awesome it looked and I got a chuckle out of Mark when I leaned forward and said “She’s looking at my butt, isn’t she?”

At the second aid station at mile 18, we were only 12 minutes ahead of cutoff. Mark and I were both under the impression that the third aid station was about 2/3 the way up the big hill. And we had two hours and twelve minutes to get 7.5 miles. Normally not a problem, but if we’re walking 20-22 minute miles up steep Gorge Waterfalls 50kswitchbacks, it becomes a problem. I refilled my hydration vest with tailwind and said to Mark we would have to hustle to stay ahead of cutoff. When he replied “I can only do what I can do” I got concerned. All I could do was set the tempo we needed to stay ahead of cutoff and hope he could keep up. It didn’t take long though, and he was falling back. I felt really bad as I’d wanted us to do this together, but I knew Mark would want me to finish if I could.

But then something strange happened. I got to aid station 3. And it was a whole 40 minutes ahead of cutoff. I hadn’t started climbing the big hill yet at all. Mark could still do this! I texted him, hoping he would receive it, hoping he would be motivated by it. I had two hours to do 6 miles, how hard could that be?

gorge elevation


Gorge Waterfalls 50k

 

Gorge Waterfalls 50k

I passed quite a few people heading up the last big hill. THANK YOU treadmill incline work! But the one thing treadmills don’t train you for is downhill, and there I did dismally, getting passed back by all the people I had passed.I finally reached the bottom of the mountain but they had one last cruel trick up their sleeve as I hit the road. The trail headed back up into the hills again. As I neared the Multnomah Falls visitor center, I saw Mark heading up the trail towards me. It felt good to have him run the last mile and a bit in with me.

Finish Line

 

One of the cool things about the race was that Race Director James was there to greet every finisher of the race.

So here’s my overall findings:

The Course: Well organised and well marked (although we missed one turn). A tough trail race. Not one I would suggest for a newbie (like me!). Many gorgeous sections of trail, but there was quite a bit of running 100-150 feet off the main highway as well. My watch showed the distance as 34.11 miles. One data stat that confuses me is that my moving time was almost an hour less than my race time. I can’t see how I lost an hour taking pictures and aid stations? The cutoff times also make this not newbie friendly. The race is not chip timed.

Training: The best thing I did was regular treadmill sessions of 4-8 miles, 10-15% incline, at 3-4 miles an hour (a brisk walk). This let me take on the uphills with strength. Winter didn’t allow me to get in trail training as I would have wished. I need to learn how to run downhill without trashing my quads or walking too slowly.

Race Prep: I taped my forefeet with athletic tape, then lathered my feet with Run Goo. I also applied it to any other possible chafing areas on my body (nipples, groin). I suffered no blisters or chafing from the race, and only one new black toenail.

Nutrition/Hydration: One word. Tailwind.

Bling: You had the option of buying a t-shirt, and I got a nice quality long sleeve technical shirt. I was very disappointed to find that there was no finishers awards of any kind. The race placers received a beer glass.

After-Race: They put on quite a spread. Free beer and pizza and all kinds of foods. Unfortunately, by the time I made it in most of the food and all of the beer was gone. I guess I just need to be faster.

Dos Amigos

Gorge 50k

Fremantle Half Marathon 2013

freo half logo

This was my last long race of the year. My ‘A’ races were over with and I’ve been over-all happy with my performance for the year. So there were no nerves, no stress, no big expectations for this race. My PR for the half marathon is 1:52:16 (for exactly 21.1km) and I would be really pleased to break 1:50.

It’s a beautiful morning in Fremantle, which is always a gorgeous place to be anyway. The sun is shining, it was about 15C (or 60F) and the only thing niggling at me was the breeze off the ocean. The breeze was cool enough I found a place to sit behind some bushes to hide from it. I did some stretching and decided to brave the porta-potty lines for one last pee before the race.

Twenty minutes later, I’m finally in the porta-potty, feeling greatly relieved, when I hear a chanting outside. “Ten, nine, eight, seven…” Oh no! It’s starting! I dash out of the plastic box, tying the drawstring on my running shorts as I go. The gun goes off before I get there, but I shouldn’t have worried. I joined the slowly shuffling crowd across the start line almost two minutes after the gun went off (1:48) and still we shuffled. I was the 802nd person past the start line. There were over a thousand people in this race and immediately after the start line we were funnelled into a 2-3 person wide bike path with thick high bushes on both sides. My goal pace was 5:13/km and here I am shuffling along at a 6:30 pace for the first 600 meters before I could finally break away from the throng. Not happy, Jan! (reference to an Australian Yellow Pages Ad). I fairly sprinted once freed but still clocked 5:49 for the first kilometre.

Foolishly I tried to make up for the time lost right away, rather than over the length of the course, which would have been the smart way to do it. My second kilometre was 4:57 and my third even faster at 4:55, certainly not sustainable paces for me! Seven to nine seconds per kilometre faster than my 10 km PR.

2013 Fremantle Half Marathon

I managed to reign myself back, and except for a halfway point “rest” on the 11th kilometre of 5:18/km I kept the 4th through 20th kilometres between 5:00 and 5:13, well below target pace. At the halfway point I’d moved from 802nd to 479th. Halfway time was 56:50.

One other thing I was unhappy with the course about was that we did two laps each of two overlapping paths. So at one point the marshalls are standing there shouting “First lap to the right, second lap to the left”, “Second lap to the left, third lap to the right”, “Third lap to the right, finishers to the left”. I wonder how many people ran short of distance going the wrong way. In their defence, there was a last minute course change due to storm damage along the beach path.

Late in the 19th km I started to feel myself get woozy and dizzy again, like I did late in the City to Surf Marathon. Fortunately, thanks to my knowledgeable friends in my Google+ running communities, I now know this is due to glycogen depletion and didn’t freak out about it this time. I did, however, mentally play with the image of my passing out and hitting the path, but forced my body through the last couple k’s.

The 21st kilometre came in at a speedy 4:57 again and the last half kilometre of the 21.5 km my Garmin logged an amazing 4:50/km pace.

Possibly another reason (or additional reason) for feeling so woozy and dizzy at the end was my heart rate. I’ve done a couple of treadmill max heart rate tests, increasing grade and speed until you can’t do any more, and consistently hit 182 bpm. My AVERAGE heart rate for the 20th km came in at 180 bpm, 21st at 184, and the final 500 metres averaged 186 bpm! I think it’s fairly safe to say I had nothing else left to give at the end.

I stumbled through the finish line and milling crowds where I found a patch of grass with my name on it. No messing around with active cool downs for me, I laid back on the grass until my head cleared. I finished 361st overall and 277th for the males (no age groupings given). My official time for the second half was 55:17.

after freo half

My official time was 1:50:18 for 21.5 km. Strava.com parced it down to 1:48:13 for 21.1 km. And I’m VERY happy with that.

freo half overall stats

Post race, my legs are tired, but only muscle tired. No knee, ankle, hip, or back pains at all. Now all I have left on my calendar for the year are a 10 km mid-November and an 8 km mid-December. So I’ll work on my speed for a while, and then come January build up the base again for next year.

Happy Running!!!

-Myles

Perth City to Surf Full Marathon 2013 – But it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Well, here it is. My ‘A’ race of the year. The one I’ve been waiting for and training for.

C2S Logo
12km startStart of the 2013 City to Surf 12km race. 15,078 people in this race alone, over 48,000 people in all events.

It was one year ago, having just turned the big FIVE-OH and wanting to prove myself that I’m not old, I entered the 2012 Perth City to Surf 12km Fun Run after a few desultory weeks of training.

I sucked.

Following the race, chatting on the train with a rather out of shape looking guy wearing a half-marathon bib, I made the decision that if he could do it, I could too, and to train “for next year’s half-marathon”. This would be the first time in my life I started to truly train for a long distance race.

And did I hit my goal of training for this years half-marathon?

Nope.

No, in typical “Myles” fashion, 12 months later, instead of a half marathon I ran my third FULL marathon in 8 months (of the, um, let’s see, oh yeah, THREE marathons I’ve run in my life).

So in the last year I’ve entered the following races (and one unofficial marathon):

[mantra-multi][mantra-column width=”1/4″]Date [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Event[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] Strava.com Time[/mantra-column][mantra-column width=”1/4″] Pace/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]26 August 2012 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]City to Surf 12km[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]1:09:55[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]5:48/km [/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]23 December 2012 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Unofficial Full Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]4:52:09 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 6:55/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]07 April 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]ASICS Bridges 10km[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 51:27[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 5:09/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]19 May 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Joondalup Half Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]1:52:16 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 5:19/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]16 June 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Perth Full Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 4:25:12 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 6:20/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]28 July 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Fremantle Fun Run 10km[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 50:07[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]5:04/km [/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]11 August 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Perth Half Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 1:50:44 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 5:15/km[/mantra-column][/mantra-multi]
Strava.com will strip a race down to it’s proper length and base times on that.

Late July and August have been incredibly busy, race wise, with an event every one of my R&R weekends. And I meant to treat them as training runs for today’s race, honestly I did! And while the PRs fell and felt good, I was quite concerned about my ability to pace myself for the marathon.

Both my previous marathon distances have been along the Perth Swan River foreshore, a flat path with only a bridge here and there to break it up. The City to Surf harbours no such niceties. The first half marathon is fairly flat, but after that it’s a climb to the top of Kings Park not once, but TWICE (note the sharpness of the initial climb halfway through), plus the always challenging Oceanic Drive.

Elevation Chart

Race Route

Before the race (and an obnoxious 6am start!!), I had my usual smoothie, actually pre-made the night before so I wasn’t setting the blender off at 4am and waking my housemates, as well as a banana. I never actually sat down and worked out a fueling plan for my race, and when I went to grab some Gu’s I found I only had two left. I was hoping for 4 or 5. But I put them on my new SPI belt with the gel and race bib holders, and put a bag of jelly beans in the pocket of it.

The first 20km went fairly well to plan. With the exception of a 5:38 kilometer for the second km of the race, the other 19 were all fairly evenly paced from 5:45/km to my goal 6:00/km. I tried to remember to eat a half dozen jelly beans every couple of km. They handed out Gu gels at the 5.5km point (foul tasting blackberry) which was a bit early for them in my opinion, but I sucked one down anyway. I tried to alternate water and sports drink at the aid stations. The weather was cool with a bit of a drizzle, which was fine with me, even if my shoes were getting a little soggy.

I was only at about 8kms, along an out and back section of the race, when four Kenyans in tight formation came flying past me in the other direction at about the 16km point (the race leaders). It must have been at least 5 minutes before I saw anyone else at all heading that way. These guys are pros, with the eventual winner, Chilemo Kipkemoi winning the $20,000 purse for the third year in a row, running a course record time of 2:13:15. It’s a thrill to even be entered into a race with guys of this calibre.

A slight climb along the 21st kilometer slowed me to a 6:05 but I made up for it on the 22nd along the flattish St. Georges Terrace with a 5:45.

Then we hit Kings Park.

Look at the elevation chart above and the steepness of the first bit at the halfway point. (It’s a shame my Garmin program shows it in miles). But, while slowing, I didn’t walk any of the hills. I took it nice and easy with my times through the middle Kings Park section of the race ranging 6:04/km to 6:45/km and I was happy with my performance there, knowing the dreaded 32km wall was looming ahead. I still felt pretty good although the legs were feeling the effects of my efforts.

C2S mid-race

Now for the final 9km stretch, Underwood Ave, Perry Lake Park and Oceanic Drive to the City Beach finish line. An undulating series of roads with one fairly nasty hill at about the 37km point. I did my best to ignore the 32nd kilometer marker going past. This has been the point where I’ve fallen apart in both my previous attempts and I didn’t want to think about the bonk. And while I was noticeably slowing, I didn’t feel like I needed to walk! If nothing else, making it past this point was probably the highlight of the run for me. They handed out another Gu at the 36.5km aid station. I never did use the ones on my belt!

I’m pretty worn out by this stage as I force myself up the last big hill. A young lady in her 20’s is running about 2-3 meters to the side of me as I focus on making the legs keep moving, and she pulls out her cell-phone about 2/3’s of the way up the hill and starts chatting away sounding like she was just kicking back on her couch!! “Hey! …Yeah, I have about 5km left. I probably could have started out faster… blah blah blah”

I wanted to trip her.

Over the crest and in the last home stretch. My times along this section averaged 6:15/km which included a 6:49 up the hill at 37. But coming up to kilometer 40, I found myself feeling woozy, dizzy, like I wanted to pass out. In hindsight, I had probably stopped eating my jelly beans, but at the time  I was concerned because I’d never felt this during a run before. So at 40.5km I finally dropped to a walk to let my head clear, walking about 500 meters. My time for the 41st kilometer was a dismal 8:48.

“But,” I told myself, “that’s gonna be it for the walking.”

A series of cramps in my left leg did cause me to drop to a hobble a couple of times over the next kilometer, but another runner kept pushing me to run it out, so run it out I did. The cattle chute at the end was about 400 meters long and I thought it would never end! Just before the finish line, a woman I was about to pass suddenly saw the photographers and must have decided she wanted a picture come hell or high water, because she cut across in front of me at a 45 degree angle heading straight for the camera-man, causing me to have to take evasive actions! But eventually I made it over the line.

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[mantra-multi][mantra-column width=”1/4″]25 August 2013[/mantra-column][mantra-column width=”1/4″]City to Surf Full Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 4:19:08[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]6:09/km [/mantra-column] [/mantra-multi]
Again, this is a Strava.com time for exactly 42.195km. Gun time was 4:22:12 and Garmin time only a second slower at 4:22:11 for 42.66km.

It would have been nice to have someone waiting at the finish line for me, but that can’t always happen.

1,187 people completed the marathon race in times of 2:13:15 to 6:27:09, and it’s those people who take over 6 hours to complete the marathon that I really tip my hat to. These are the people that aren’t necessarily as young or as fit as the others, but they slog it out, and six and a half hours is a LONG time to keep pushing yourself! I placed 778th overall, 642nd amongst the males, and 104th for my male 45-54 category.

I walked through the marathoners tent grabbing up a muffin, banana and yoghurt and found a place to sit down in the grass, whereupon my left leg once again cramped up causing me to fly straight back up in the air hurling many an epitaph despite the young children around me. Eventually I was able to sit and even lay on the grass, and once rested I hobbled over to the buses to get back to the city and a cold, rainy, 1km walk to my car (that felt like 5!)

While my time for this race wasn’t all that much faster than my previous marathon, I was still infinitely happier with it having battled and defeated the dreaded bonk monster, and over a much more difficult course. I can now run my races KNOWING that I’m capable of running the distance.

And who knows, maybe one day I’ll run that ultra-marathon I keep toying with in the back of my mind (because there always has to be another windmill to tilt, right?). But first, a sub 4 hour marathon.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your support, thanks for being there.

-Myles the Marathoner

Perth Half Marathon 2013

Well, my 10km race last R&R went really well, and I’m really getting excited about my full marathon in another two weeks time. So today’s half marathon was all about pacing in preparation for my full. No PR goals, nothing fancy, just run a simple 6 minutes/km to train myself for the upcoming City to Surf 42.2km.

It’s a shame holding back on this race, though. This race is perfect for setting PRs, very flat except for the odd bridge over the river, and even that isn’t a huge climb. In fact, the elevation climb for the whole race, according to my Garmin, is 133m. And I know this area, it’s my favourite place to run in Perth.

PerthHalfMarathonMap2013

 

As an added bonus, the race even had a reasonable start time of 8am!

Started off with (one!) fruit, chia and almond milk smoothie at 6am. No banana this time. And I didn’t bring any Gu gels or hydration electrolytes with me, this was just going to be a training run.

The gun went off with me starting fairly close to the front, I think there were about 1,100 people between the half marathon and 5k, with separate starts for the two races. Off we go, and surprise surprise, I run my first kilometer in 5:05 trying to figure out what part of “six minute kilometers” I can’t seem to understand.

Trying my best to slow myself down, I ran the second, third and fourth kilometers in 5:16, 5:14 and 5:13. I let people pass me without worrying the least little bit about it. It STILL wasn’t six minute kilometers though and it was about this point I figured there was no sense in fighting it any longer.

The fifth flew past in 5:04.2, my fastest for the whole race. And obviously too fast for me to maintain so I backed it down closer to, but still faster than, my previous best half marathon pace of 5:20/km with 5:12 through 5:18 for the sixth through tenth.

The 11th kilometer was over a bridge, turn around and back over it again, so it slowed me down to a veritable snails pace of 5:21 as I got past the halfway point *laughing*. I’m trying not to think about my time, because I know I’m doing really well, and if I concentrate on it I’ll talk myself into being tired. The twelfth kilometer was back down under 5:10 at 5:09.5

My legs are starting to get heavy now. While I skipped a couple drink stations in the first half, I’m trying not to now. Times start slipping a little with times of 5:14 through 5:25 for the thirteenth through twentieth, an average of 5:19.3 over this section.

By now the finish line is in site, so it’s time to turn it on and I run the twenty-first kilometer in my second fastest split of the race with 5:04.3. My garmin shows the race going 21.35km and the final 350 meters was at a 5:07 pace, so obviously there wasn’t much left in the tank.

All in all I was really happy with my time, although it was offset by frustration at being unable to pace myself as per my original plan. Because if I CAN’T pace myself in the full, it will be bonk-ville again and I’ll wind up walking the end of the race… AGAIN. I really, really, really want to finish a marathon without bonking and walking.

Gun time: 1:52:04
Garmin time: 1:52:03
Strava.com 21.1 adjusted: 1:50:44

Average pace: 5:15
Average Heartrate: 170bpm
Shoes: Saucony Mirage 2 (green)

Perth Half Marathon 2013 course photo

 

So the big question is, have I pushed too hard for next fortnight? I want to train hard, but I want to be rested and recovered as well. I’m thinking it will be a bit of a balancing act, so we will see.

Racing off,

-Myles

(PS: On a side note, due to my slight tapering this week for the race, I wasn’t going to hit my weekly 50km goal. So half an hour after the race I put my bib in the car and hobbled and limped through two VERY painful kilometers to end the week at 51.5km. I must have been a funny sight, because I certainly didn’t FEEL graceful and gazelle-like *lol*)

Fremantle Fun Run 10km 50:07 PR

I knew better. Even at the time I knew better.

I’ve been on holidays back to the US this last month, pretty much writing off 3 weeks of training. I ran once in my first week (the day I arrived to try and run the jet-lag out of my body on a fairly hot Southern California afternoon), three times my second week along the beaches of Orange County and once in Ohio, all fairly easy paced runs. Yet this was not an important race to me. I have the Perth Half Marathon in two weeks, and the City to Surf Full Marathon two weeks after that. But I was looking forward to running with my ‘boy’ (he’s a wonderful, very fit, 22 year old young man) and a nice beach-side breakfast at the Fickle Pig (er, Pickled Fig) afterwards. There would be no attempts at PR’s. I even told the young’un “We’re aiming for 55 minutes, 5:20/km at the most, just a training run.” …Even though I knew better.

I started my race morning as has become my habit, with a smoothie 2 hours before race time. Berry, mango, banana, yoghurt, chia seed, and for a change some almond milk and a dash of fruit juice. Of course, just TRY to make a single serve of smoothie. I sure can’t do it! I drank one and looked at what was left and decided “It’s only a 10 k, I can have another half a smoothie” …Even though I knew better.

It was warmer than my last few race starts have been, about 8c, but I still wore my full length 2XU compression tights, and two-layers of technical shirts, even though I knew better.

There were only about 935 competitors in the 5 km and 10 km combined, and we all started together with a course change about 3.5 km in to separate the two out. Amazingly, the boy and I started fairly near the front so didn’t have too many issues with initial crowding and ran the first km in 5:02. The second came in at 5:03. As usual, I was going way faster than I had planned, the undoing of every “bad” race I’ve run. But…. everything felt good so I decided to go with it and see what happened.

3rd km 4:59
4th km 4:57

At the halfway point, I knew I couldn’t hold the pace. But rather than give up, I gave myself an intentional rest break and ran the 5th km in 5:21 (the boy’s reply to my “We’re going to slow it down for this kilometer” was “Thank God!” *lol*)

At the 6 km point I started building up the speed again, bringing it in at 5:09.

Kilometer 7-8 showed us back at 4:57, my son being noticeably quiet behind me. I resisted the urge to see if he was still with me and kept to my race.

With 2 km left to go it was time to burn up whatever I had left. While I wasn’t quite able to maintain the 9th km’s 4:45 in the final stretch, my son was right there with me as we pushed out a massive sprint for the finish, crossing side by side with a 4:47 for the last km, my heart pounding, my legs burning, and… what was that? My stomach heaving! Just as I reached for the papers being handed out by a cute blonde young lady a few steps past the finish line, her eyes widened in horror as she saw what was happening with me and tried to back away, but had a fence behind her! I felt the bile hit the back of my throat but the survival part of my brain told me the only thing worse then puking in front of everyone at the finish line, would be puking ON someone at the finish line, and I managed to, er, contain myself. By the time I made it to a remote tree to puke behind, the desire had passed. I knew I shouldn’t have had that second half a smoothie!

Freo10km finish line

In all the excitement, I forgot to turn off my Garmin watch, so the time’s run past the actual race period:

Freo10km pace

 

Gun time was 50:54, but Strava.com took my 10.0 km time down to 50:07, 1:19 faster than my previous best. Not only a 10 km PR, but also a 5 km, 2 mile and 1 mile PB.

Freo10km PRs

 

I look at that 1 mile PB and remember back to when I was 20/21 years old, running 5 minute miles for 4.5 miles. I’m sure I could improve it from where it’s at today, but I can work on  short distance speed or long distance stamina, not both, and I do enjoy the long distance events.

Two weeks to my half marathon, and it will be on the Perth Swan River foreshore, a track I’m very familiar with and flat enough for a PR, but will I go for the PR or follow my plan of running it at marathon pace (5:50) to be ready for my full marathon two weeks after that? I’d like to say “That’s the question”, but I think we ALL know what I’ll do *laughing*

Ploddingly,

-Myles

Perth Marathon 2013

The Perth Marathon had a 7:30am start this year, not too early, but it was bloody cold out! Around 2C as I set off, and you know it only gets colder at sunrise.

I had my traditional berry, chia and yoghurt smoothie and a banana about 5:30. Dinner previous was a nice pasta meal without overeating. I was wearing a new pair of long 2XU compression tights. I’d never run in them before, or even tried them on! I chose not to take music but did strap my phone on to my arm for emergencies. Four Gu Vanilla Bean gels, and my four bottle fuel belt with electrolytes. Having never run this race before, I erred in that, with it starting at the Western Australian Marathon Club offices, I could have worn warm sweats there and left a bag in the clubhouse, but instead I kept active, stretching and warming up to keep from shivering worse than I was.

South Perth Foreshore

We started off northbound from the clubhouse. The weeks leading up to the race had been a massive quandary for me. My previous marathon distance attempt (unofficial) was a major bonk. My target was 4:15 but I “ran” it in 4:53:30. Running my previous two races (a 10km and a half marathon in the last two months) through the online calculators told me I should be able to run this marathon in 3:54-4:02. My Yasso 800 trials said I could do the marathon in 3:50. So we’re talking AN HOUR faster than my previous attempt! That’s huge! Too huge? Therein lies the quandary. Do I still aim for my original 4:15 target? 25 minutes difference between my realistic goal and dream goal is a pace difference of 36 seconds per kilometer (5:27/km to 6:03/km). Oh the mental dramas I went through *lol*. If I aimed for my dream goal, the risk is bonking and not even making my realistic goal. In the end I decided to aim for a 5:50/km pace. If it felt too hard I could still drop down to my 4:15 finish hopefully without bonking, and if things felt good I should be able to break 4 hours.

The first kilometer was the typical mix of excitement and dodging the crowd. 5:47. Not too bad! And this is all area I know well, have run often. The next 6km’s ranged from 5:27 to 5:38 with an average of 5:31.5. Too fast! I tried to bring it down but just couldn’t until the 8th km. 5:43, 5:49, 5:43. That’s better. I let my mind go into cruise mode.

Maybe that was my mistake.

Evidently my body wanted to run faster. As I “cruised”, my speed ramped back up to 5:27-5:35/km. An average of 5:31.4 over the next 9 km (kilometers 11-19).

There was a route change at 20kms. rather than the flat, rivers edge path we’d been running (with the exception of two bridged river crossings), construction forced us on to surrounding suburban streets, and a long nasty hill that had most people walking. This slowed me back down to a 5:51/km but the downhill side km 21 was 5:28/km. At the half marathon point I was only about 1.5 minutes behind my HM PR, really, that’s too fast for a marathon pace.

PerthMarathonCourse

My pace was starting to catch up with me now. At about 26.5 I finally dropped down to a walk break, which worried me, because to my thinking, once you take one break, it’s all downhill from there. It wasn’t a long one and I berated myself back into a run again which lasted until about km 28 where I had another short walk break. But this time I told myself I was going to break through this wall. And I did! I got another 4 km’s out of my tired legs before they gave way at almost exactly 32 km. The dreaded wall point. 32 km is about where your body runs out of fuel. To quote the Australian marathoner Rob de Castella, “The marathon’s about being in contention over the last 10K.  That’s when it’s about what you have in your core.  You have run all the strength, all the superficial fitness out of yourself, and it really comes down to what’s left inside you.  To be able to draw deep and pull something out of yourself is one of the most tremendous things about the marathon.”

I bonked/failed. Badly.

Final time, 4:25:12. I should be happy! I took almost a half hour off my previous time! But I should have been able to hit 4:15, and if I’d run the tactical race I was supposed to, instead of letting my body run free, I would have, if not a four hour. Average pace for the last 10 km was 7:58.8/km as I walked most of it.

And to add insult to injury, as I was coming down the chute to the finish line, ahead of me was an older gentleman with three ladies running crew for him, going really slow and in obvious pain. A finishing time wasn’t on my mind at this point, just getting the race over with, and I tried to slow down to let him finish ahead of me, I really did! But I would have had to walk to do that and I was damned if I was going to walk across the finish line, so with no disrespect to him, I passed him and finished, only to find out that he’s 74 years old and has run all but two of the Perth City Marathon’s ever run. Yeah, I felt like a real heel :(

Oh, and that old chestnut about never try anything new on race day? Had some wonderful chafe marks inside my upper thighs from my compression tights!

In two months is the 2013 City to Surf marathon.  It was the 2012 City to Surf 12km race that really kicked off my current running, and I look forward to running my marathon CORRECTLY this time. It’s a hillier course, but I will, I will, I WILL, run my planned race this time.

I hope.

-Myles

19/05/2013 21.1 km 1:52:18 – WAMC Joondalup Half Marathon

I must admit, I hadn’t put a lot of effort into the lead up to this race. I missed a couple training sessions in the last two weeks, and mentally I didn’t feel as if I’d prepared at all.

The night before the race, I attended my daughter-in-law’s 35th birthday party. So my pre-race dinner consisted of sausage rolls, mini quiches, buffalo wings, and dim sim. Not exactly what the books suggest :) I did keep my alcohol intake to only one drink.

I managed to get to bed at a decent hour and breakfast at 5:30 the morning consisted of a banana, mango and berry smoothy with chia seed. I still managed to forget both my water bottle and energy gells but otherwise got to the race area on time, grabbing some jelly beans on the way. This went against the cardinal rule of race day, “Never Do Anything New”, as I’d never tried jelly beans before on a run.

It was a beautiful morning, about 16C, the sun coming up over the hills across Lake Joondalup. I did some warm-ups, put a quarter of a bag of jelly beans in each pocket and chucked the rest out.

Lake Joondalup Half Marathon 2013

 

The race started out over a fairly rough track in a 3.8km loop back to the starting point to make up our 21.1km. My jelly beans made a rather pleasant jangling sound as I ran. One guy ran past me and started laughing and said “You’ve got a lot of jelly beans!”, obviously a seasoned partaker of jelly beans himself. By about the 5-6km mark though, the jangling stopped as my sweat and the morning humidity turned my glucose bullets into a rather large sticky mass in each pocket.

My goal for the race was 1:55:00 and an average pace of 5:26/km. I really struggled in the beginning trying to keep my pace down. In fact, I failed miserably to keep my pace down for the first 6km! 1) 5:28 (initial bunching on a narrow path), 2) 5:12, 3) 5:03, 4) 5:00, 5) 5:15, 6) 5:20. This was an average pace of 5:13/km which was faster than my first 5km on last month’s 10km race. Yet I wasn’t worried, because everything felt really good. My form felt good, I was running fairly steadily, running my race. I popped a jelly bean pretty much every kilometer.

Kilometers 7-17 went by in a range of 5:21-5:33/km. And went by they did! It seemed at times my Garmin’s kilometer vibrations were coming at really quick intervals. I thanked all the traffic control and water station volunteers I came across, because without them we wouldn’t have a race. I did request the traffic controllers get signs that said “FAST” rather than “SLOW” as I took that rather personally :)

Still feeling good at 18km, and remembering when that was the furthest I could run without a walk break, I decided it was time to pick up the pace and go for the negative splits. 18) 5:12, 19) 5:30 (due to one water station and a long uphill), 20) 5:13, 21) 5:18 and the final 300 meters of the course in a 4:33/km pace. Garmin time for the 21.3km was 1:53:33 but strava.com trimmed it down to a flat 21.1 @ 1:52:18, an amazing time for me, my previous PB was 2:02:19, so a full ten minutes off!! I don’t have the official gun time as of this writing but I hit the starting line 29 seconds in I think, so that should be about 1:54:02

As I walked off the race, drinking down my litre of chocolate milk for recovery, I ran across a co-worker who had just finished the half marathon as well except that he’d signed up for, and expected, the 10km race. He lined up for the wrong race LOL. Still, he finished only about 30 seconds behind me and had never run 21.1 before in his life, so well done to Wayne.

It was a great race. Unlike my 10km last month, at no time did I feel not in control or have doubts about my ability to finish strong.

But do you want to know the really scary part? Next month is the Perth Marathon where I’ll run my first ‘official’ marathon distance. Back in December, when I ran my own private marathon, I shuffled across the finish line in 4:53:29. According to my race equivalency calculator, which was pretty accurate basing my half marathon time on last months 10km race time, I should be able to run next month’s full marathon in three hours and fifty five FREAKING minutes! I get scary goosebumps just thinking about that! Almost a full hour off my marathon from 6 months previous. Admittedly, I had only trained from a sedentary desk jockey capable of 12km in 1:10:13 to my first marathon distance in only 4 months. That’s just not enough time to build a marathons worth of stamina for anything better than just completing it. So, a voice in my head says maybe I really can pull off a sub 4 hour marathon. Fingers crossed I keep healthy and injury free for the next four weeks.

Race stats from the day can be found here.

Excitedly,
-Myles

2013 ASICS Bridges Fun Run 10km

Well, here it is. My first ever official 10km run.

As mentioned previously, I was a bit nervous coming into this race. Mostly because for the first time I would be RACING, not just accomplishing a distance.

I woke early, ate my traditional pre-race peanut butter and banana sandwich, drank a couple glasses of water, grabbed a spare banana, and headed off to the train station.

My plan was to catch the 6:30am train into town rather than fight traffic, but I must have just missed it because no train was to be seen. I went back out to my car to listen to the radio for a half hour while I waited for the next train. The 7:00 train would get me into town at 7:30, still enough time to walk across town and get to the start of the 8:00 race.

About five to seven, I saw a couple other runners head towards the platform, so I joined them. I hadn’t been sitting long when I noticed the sign that said “Next Perth train, 64 minutes”

Huh?!?!?

We verified with a security guard that yes, the next train was over an hour away.

Oops.

I dashed to my car and drove like a mad man (edited note: I’ve since received a $75 speeding ticket!) into Perth. Amazingly, I found parking almost straight away, very close to the event. I parked and dashed towards the starting line area, where I met up with my  son Russell and his girlfriend Cindy. A quick trip to the loo and Russell and I were ready to join the throngs of people awaiting start time.

20130407 ASICS Bridges Fun Run 10km

It was a very crowded start, took a while to get free. Russell fell in behind me and we zig-zagged our way through the crowds trying to find space to run. This was Russell’s first ever race, but he wasn’t in it for his benefit, he just wanted to support his old man. He’s a good kid and I think I’ll keep him.

Despite the crowds, the first km was a 5:11. I was aiming for 5:15 but close enough. That was followed by 5:17, 5:15, and 5:07 (got a tad carried away there). Russell found water stops interesting, dodging people and trying to drink out of a cup without pouring it all up your nose as you ran. Kilometer 5 was at 5:13. I started to tire about halfway through kilometer 6 and those nasty voices in my head  started piping up. “You’ve gone out too hard and fast”. “You’ll never be able to keep this pace”, “You need to slow it down and rest a bit”. Nasty, nasty voices.

I did slow down a tad to rest a bit and kilometer 6 took 5:18. I kept the slower pace (about a 5:22) halfway through kilometer 6 and halfway through kilometer 7 as well until my people watching noticed a vision ahead of me, a cute young thing doing a fairly good pace. I slipped in behind as she wove through the crowds and when I looked at my watch my current pace was about 5:07 again! Invigorated, I left my muse behind at a water station and picked up the pace with only a couple km’s to go. Average time for kilometer 7 was another 5:18.

I was back to my pre-doubting pace running kilometer 8 at 5:12. Putting in everything I had left, kilometer 9 sped past at 4:53 and kilometer 10 at 4:48. The course ran a bit long and the last 110 meters were run at a 4:36 pace across the finish line. Russell raced off ahead of me in the last kilometer or so and ran in about 40 seconds before me.

Gun time was 53:15 due to so many people having to cross the start line ahead of us. My Garmin showed 52:03 for the 10.11km and strava.com picked out my 10.0km time as 51:27, almost three full minutes faster than my previous best of 54:14! WooHoo!

Race results: 53:15 Overall 592/1,895, Male 444/833, Age Group 36/73
Winning Times: Overall/Male 31:29, Age Group 39:14

Russell and I caught our breath for about 20-30 minutes and it was time for him to head off and do his thing, but it was so great that he took the time to run with me.

So what did I do after Russell left? I dropped my bib in my car, then went and ran the 10km again in an easier 1:04:13 because… because…. well… because I can!

I do love running.
-Myles

23/12/2012 42.2km 4:53:30 – My First Marathon Distance

Well, an early start. Drank my OJ and chia seed, ate a couple of bananas, and headed to the Perth Foreshore.

My course is over what’s called “the three bridges”, pretty much exactly 14km a lap, so today is three laps plus 200 meters. Of course, I have my Garmin FR610 to keep me honest :)

I start out at 6:55am. It’s a beautiful day, probably about 18C with only the lightest of breeze. I felt good, the world was beautiful, I couldn’t ask for more.

The first two 14km laps went pretty well, total time less than 3 hours, so under an hour and a half a lap, exactly on track for my expected time, although I’m REALLY starting to feel tired by the time my son Russell joins me for the last 14.2km. He’d been a bit nervous about joining me as he’s never run that far before, but I had assured him that at the pace I’d be running, he wouldn’t have a problem.

He commented on how I was looking a little tired and slow, so I explained that I HAD been running three hours already!

Unfortunately, as in my 32km runs, 28-30km seems to be my tipping point. I probably walked half the last 14.2km. I even stopped on the narrows bridge to look down in the water and watch a couple of dolphins that had swum up from the ocean cavorting around. Russell was wonderful, running ahead to refill my water bottles for me and trying to motivate me to run. Looking at my stats, my heart rate begins to decline as I mentally give up coming up on 3 hours and declines over a 45 minute period or so. But then I started to push myself harder and it picks back up again, as does my average pace. The last 6km looked okay, although still very slow, it was faster than I’d been going. And of course I went for the big Hollywood finish and managed a 5:29 pace for the last 200 meter finale.

My initial reaction was disappointment. I ran a good 30 minutes slower than I expected to, in perfect conditions. The only missing factor that could have helped me more was that I was doing this on my own, not an event where you get motivated by those around you, the excitement adding to the adrenaline. But really, this 50 year old ran his first marathon. No matter how long it took, I did something most people never do at all. In hindsight, going from sedentary desk jockey to marathon runner in 5 months (including my City to Surf prep time) was a huge ask. But I FINISHED.

And best of all. I haven’t walked away from this thinking “Tick that one off my bucket list. Been there done that.” No, I can’t wait to plan out my training and events for next year. To better what I’ve put in. And even though my marathon time was disappointing  I’m still proud of my 2:02:19 half marathon time. I can do this!

It’s hard to describe what I feel, but as a skinny wimpy kid growing up, one of the last to be picked for sports teams in school every time, it means a lot to my self-esteem to have done this. I’ve had a lot of wonderful support from friends and family who have been patient with my talking nothing but running the last 4 months, and from running communities on the web like the Google+ Running community (you guys are amazing). I feel part of a group, a kindred spirit. I’m fitter than I’ve been in a long long time. And I’m a good runner.

No, more accurately, I AM A RUNNER!

-Myles