Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Now lets work on the run...

That's what winter is for right?

After a little time off after a season full of ups and downs both in triathlon and in my life, with work and friends coming and going, it was a good time to get focused on my run. The run has been my weakest leg since I got into the sport, I just never had the speed. I would hold my own in the water and generally grab a few spots on the bike, only to watch people run away from me on the run...

It was time to fix this. The goal was sub 90min.

Gotta love a 10km Bondi Fit foot race to gauge your form!

First goal was the SMH Half in May.

I had pretty much dropped hard bike work and cut back a few swim sessions (wish I didn't!!) in order to both focus on the run as well as spend some more time at home with my fiance who I'm sure wondered if I was leading a secret life.

Progress was looking good, I was feeling reasonably strong although I knew that there was so much more in the tank I thought that it would be a good early run season race to see where I was at. Being the first Half Marathon that I'd ever run fresh. Spot was going to pace me through the first 10km at 4:20 pace and then wave me on for the back end to bring it home.

Although the Tuesday before the race that all came to a halt with a little slide in the wet on the bike in Centennial Park... Not the first, won't be the last... No serious damage besides a good bit of skin gone and a ripper bump on my hip that pretty much restricted me to a limp until the Friday afternoon... not the best lead up to a race... I managed a few 1km efforts at race pace on Saturday with a little bit of pain so I figured that I should be able to put up with it for 21km. Right?

Gotta love a bike crash...

Race morning I felt pretty good actually, besides the arctic weather that Sydney greeted us with. Couple of run throughs with the squad and the mandatory photo and we were off to the start line.
It's a bit of a downhill for the first few km's and I'm sure that even though coach always says not to go out to hard and get caught in the start line rush that we ran out too hard and got caught in the start line rush... but no harm was done and we settled into race pace pretty soon after without much trouble. No real pain. Sweet.
Traditional run throughs pre-race

The course is pretty windy and up and down so it was always interesting with stuff to keep your mind occupied. Well until you get to Pyrmont and those lovely hills! I lost coach on the hills a little and figured he was hurting, I was a little surprised that he stuck with me through those first 8km really as I hadn't seen him run for a while and wondered how he'd go! But after I came out of Pyrmont sure enough he was running next to me again, albeit a little out of breath and not interested in a chat!
All smiles on the start line

We stuck together till the 10km mark where he waved goodbye and jumped the fence to where his car was conveniently parked :)

The back end of the race was pretty good, nice views and I managed to stay pretty consistent which was nice as well as having that great feeling of running past a constant flow of people who had blown up! The only real time I was cursing was running past the finish chute at about the 18km mark and down to Mrs Macquaries Chair, knowing that I had to turn around and run back up... That is a shitty run... I held on though and pulled out a 1:32:57 with a nice 15sec negative split. Pretty happy with that considering!

SMH Half Splits
Official race timing

I'm still kind of happy with that, although there were a few people that suggested that there is more to give than I thought, so we re-evaluated some goals for the Gold Coast Half in a few weeks... Not just sub 90min, but 87/88min instead. Now that doesn't sound like much, but that's 4:16min/km pace for a 90min, or 4:07min/km pace for an 87min... that's a bit of a difference...

But it was about time I started believing that I was a runner, so what the hell. Lets have a crack.

After the SMH Half, Spot gave the reins for Track sessions to fellow athlete Julie, who just happens to be an ex AIS athlete with some pretty solid credentials. This was great for me as I was able to really work on some specific goals week to week to go after the goal. Julie was great and pushed me pretty hard, which I needed as I'd obviously been slacking in the past!

Coach Julie has me working hard under lights...

I was super lucky to have to spend the week before the race traveling around the state for work which once again wasn't probably the best lead up to a race, although the fact that I wasn't going to be able to fall off a bike I figured that it couldn't be any worse! Plus, I managed to have a taper run around Lake Jindabyne in stunning (yet freezing) conditions, so I suppose it wasn't that bad.

Ripper location for a taper run!

Goldy time!

Getting up to the Goldy on the Friday night, we scored an upgrade at the Crowne Plaza (thanks Aimee!) which also happened to be the official hotel for the festival which meant that all the elite athletes were wandering around. This was pretty cool, although depressing knowing how much faster they were!! haha
Having the Saturday to pick up the race bib, check out the expo, have a taper run and just generally be cruisy was great to be able to clear my head from all the craziness from the last week and get ready to run.

Room upgrade? Hell yes!

Come Sunday, we jumped on the free shuttle to the start line (probably cut it a bit fine!) and quickly got through a proper warm-up and stretch leaving just enough time to get into the start pens although not enough time to get to the front, so I started in the middle of a tight bunch just behind the bloke with the 1:30:00 balloon... not ideal...

Once the gun went I spent the first 1km jumping over people's feet and trying to get my own space and get around the people who had high expectations of themselves... In hindsight it may have helped slow me up a little and not get caught in the rush!

After the initial 1km was out of the way I settled down and found a rhythm. That rhythm was a little quicker than planned race pace at around 4:07min/km. But I was feeling good and comfortable so I just held it there. I hit the timing mat at 10km in 41:27 (4:08min/km) and was feeling pretty good. I had managed to grab at least a mouthful of water at each aid station so was reasonably confident, so I opened it up a little and tried to come home strong and see what was going to happen.

I wasn't really aiming for a pace on the way home, just looking to be slightly uncomfortable. That turned out to be between 3:55-4:00min/km pace. It was stinging the legs a little but it was only 10km and I was convincing myself that I was feeling good so I stuck with it, passing more and more people only made me feel better as well. Happy days!

Feeling good coming on the home stretch

About 19.5km in I copped a ripper stitch that brought me to tears and almost stopped me in my tracks... I jammed my hand in it so hard it made me cry although took the pressure off it a little... although it definitely slowed me down a little... With just over a km to go though it was just grit the teeth and get it done, deal with it later.

The last 500m was great with a huge crowd, always awesome to come home to support like that! Managed to get over the line in 1:26:11. Shaving a good chunk off the goal. Pretty freaking happy with that!! Although I couldn't help but be a little shitty that the stitch in the 20th km cost me a sub 40min 10km in the back end and an 85min split... but that's getting greedy :)

Goldy Half Splits

So with that I ticked that goal off my list. It's a good feeling ticking off a goal.

Official race timing. Happy with that

Unfinished business time...

Next on the cards is the unfinished business that I have with the City-2-Surf... the 60:17 I ran last year was so tantilisingly close to sub 60 that I want to smash that this year!

Spot agrees. Goal is set. Sub 56min. That should sting a bit. Sub 4:00min/km including that hill... Bring it on.

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