Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Binge training

It's that time of the year. The winter is long gone, the last winter storms didn't happen and no sheep perished under a snowstorm in the South Island. As I write this at 8 o'clock there is still about 30 more minutes of daylight. University ended and work is crazy busy, but only for three more weeks.
Summer… ladies and gentlemen is finally here and we're up for half a year worth of good stuff. 

We had our first sea swim of the season, and then the second one and a couple of swim races too. I'm at a stage of my training life where my gains in swimming are marginal or almost none when it comes to speed. But I am getting better in my navigation and enjoying more the races.

I am still to do a brick session, I've been lazy to turn up and opted to go for long rides instead. All of a sudden, all that free time comes very handy to catch up on the ol' triathlon training.

On top of all that, my better half is going to be away for three weeks, which means that the house will be empty and silent. What's my antidote? 1. go for a ride 2. go for a run 3. go for a swim 4. go out with mates for a ride, a run or a swim. 

I've entered a half ironman, so it's about time to do some triathlon specific training. More of that in the next post

Monday, November 4, 2013

A view from the top - Auckland Marathon (half) race report

I had a great race last Sunday. The Adidas Auckland Marathon is established in my calendar as a race to do more for training reasons than for actual performance. This year I decided (last minute) to challenge myself and see where I could go. There were two objectives, the first one to go between 1:16:00 and 1:18:00, the second one was to be in the top 25 finishers. Considering that the race is two weeks after a tough 60km ultra race, the objectives were challenging enough.
I can’t say I did a lot of threshold training, and the speed work on the track has been less consistent than in previous year.  I did, though, have a huge base, and a good set of strategies that could help me be efficient come race day. Eat lightly the day before, do a long warm-up, start fast to avoid the congestion of 10,000 people on the road at the same time, pace with the front bunch, where the guys in running club singlets should be hanging, which I knew where about the 1:15 to 1:20 finish time area. Luckily enough there was photo finishes of the last 10 races in the registration area, which helped me to learn that the first women would be running pretty much the time I had in mind. Nat was also racing, which is good to deal with the anxiety and prep of the day before.
The race
It started fast, but not as fast as I was expecting, which help me stay calm and save energy. The pace continued for the first 10km and all along I was where I wanted to be, with a couple of other guys who were running quite steady too. I had a double serve of gels for the race, not my favourite food nor the brand I like the more, but I forgot to buy my favourite gels before the race and had to make do with whatever was in my foodbox.
The 10k mark went unnoticed, as I did not look at my watch too often. The idea was to err on the side of calm on the first half and then let go at the second half. When I looked at the watch it was 11.5km and just over 41min, life is good.
One of the guys took off and I suck to him, we passed two other racers and then it was time for the harbor bridge, I didn’t follow the guy ahead’s punishing uphill pace, and when I got to the top I could feel my quads giving up. I gelled up and carried on, but the pain was there to stay.
The last 5km was where I could go for a fast finish, and it would have gone if I had less pain in my leg. My gait shortened, and although I had a few heartbits left, there was no muscular response to accompany, which sucked. I may have lost almost a minute on those 5km, but I didn’t let that turn me down and soldiered through the finish.
The result

I achieved one, and failed on the other of my goals, a  1:19:02 got me to the finish in 23rd position and I am happy with such a great result. There are areas of improvement, but overall, it was the best run race I’ve done this season in terms of planning and execution. It feels good to go fast, it is great to go fast for a long period of time, and it's a huge satisfaction that the legs deliver on the day. I am a happy Valen today