"It's a treat being a runner, out in the world by yourself with not a soul to make you bad-tempered or tell you what to do." - Allan Sillitoe

Monday, December 19, 2011

Update including City Beach 8km

It's been a couple of weeks since my last update on the blog.

I backed up my 168km week with another 164km in the week 5-11 December. Main workouts that week were 19km with 11km tempo on the Friday and just over 34km long run on the Sunday. The rest was pretty standard with 24km medium long run on Wednesday and lots of easy running with 4 double days.

The tempo was the same workout as the previous Friday except I did 4km warmup before getting into the tempo instead of only 2km. Ran to the Marathon Club and started from there and then ran along the river and up the Freeway before turning and running back when I got jack of running into the headwind.

Averaged 3:45 for the tempo that week which is 2 secs per km faster than the previous week so I was pleased with the progression over a short period of time.

On Sunday I didn’t get out until a bit later in the morning as we were at a party until after midnight and then we were woken at 6.45am by a policeman investigating a serious domestic that occurred in the units next door.

It was pretty warm out there but got through it ok with a few drink stops at drink fountains.

Main point of interest during the run was that I got swooped by the magpie that has been mentioned in the Inside Cover of the newspaper lately – that’s why my 18th km was 4:11!

I had read the stories in the paper without much interest other than to comment to Rox that "I run along there quite regularly but I have never been swooped ..." All the same I was a bit wary and was reassured by the fact that I had just been overtaken by a couple of elderly cyclists before we go to "the swooping zone". Excellent - they will draw any fire I thought. Nothing happened although I did hear what sounded like baby birds in one tree but run well past that without incident.

I had just relaxed when this magpie came down on me out of the sun like a Stuka dive bomber and nearly the same size too - well at least as big as a condor. And whereas magpies will normally give you a swoop and then do a big arc to check for danger before coming back at you, this thing swung around as quick as it could, looked me right in the eye and came straight back at me. At which point, I am embarrassed to say, I screamed and sprinted, which you would think is not easy 17km into a 34km long run but which I managed to do without thinking.

When I told my Dad about it when visiting later that afternoon, he commented that in the story in the paper, the guy who had been repeatedly swooped had said that if it was schoolgirls being attacked, the Council would have done something about it by now and that with my screaming, maybe they thought it was a schoolgirl being attacked. "A very foulmouthed schoolgirl" was all I could add ...

On the Monday, I felt very tired on my morning recovery run and with an 8km race coming up on the Sunday, I decided to make that week a recovery run and absorb the heavy training I had done over the previous few weeks. As a result, I only ran singles last week but still did a 5 x 800m interval session on the Tuesday and my medium long run on the Wednesday. With no long run, this meant that I only did 97km this week which is my lowest week since the week of the City to Surf back in August.

With the interval session, I had felt a lot better after skipping the previous day's PM recovery run and well rested. Legs felt good. Ran down to the Marathon Club (4km) and started my 800s from there. 5 × 800 with 1:30 jog recovery. First 4 reps were into a slight headwind, last one was with a slight tailwind. 2:43; 2:46; 2:47; 2:45; 2:42 so between 3:23 and 3:29/km pace. 6+km cooldown.

Saturday was usual pre race day routine - 8km shakeout and 6 x 110m strides.

On Sunday, Rox, Sammie and I went down to City Beach for the 4/8km races.

My Garmin crashed on me 6.71km/24:10 into the race and I think that combined with the headwind contributed to a bit of a fadeout over the last km and a bit. Stupid but it really distracted me and I lost a bit of focus.

I went out pretty hard and was actually in front for the first 250-300m. Rox reckons I was making up for the fact that Trailblazer wasn't there ...

No km splits due to the Garmin failure but hit 4km turnaround in 14:15 (3:33/km) and my pace was still 3:36 at 6.71km so it seems that the last 1.29 km was covered at 3:48/km pace which is a bit disappointing.

Don’t know where Roberto and Todd started but they did not pass me until close to the 1km mark. I was then in a pack of about 4 that was in 4th-8th position and stuck with that group until about 3.5km when I got gapped a bit but was back onto the tail of the group by the 4km turnaround.

Led by Tommy Lovekin the group picked up (or maintained and I slowed) the pace over the next 2km, the pack broke up and by the 6km turn I was running by myself, back about 25m from the next runner in front of me.

At about 6.5km I passed Sammie and Rox who were doing the 4km. Sammie hasn’t been doing any training lately but she was still keen to run but she struggled a bit today and was not very happy when I ran past.

I started doing so sums in my head as to what I need to do once I hit 7km but then my Garmin flashed low battery and then shut down completely.

I’ll have to wait on the results but I finished with 29:05 on the clock and I think I was 8th. 3:38/km is pretty similar to what I ran at John Gilmour for 10,000m. Even though this was shorter it was definitely slower conditions with the wind and the turns so I still reasonably happy with this as it is about 35secs faster than I ran on this course last year when conditions were better.

Clown was first male and second overall in the 4km and Roadblazer ran a solid 8km in his first race back. Great to see him out here and thanks for the cheer during the race mate! Good to catch up with Liam who was mashalling when Clown and I went for our cooldown and also with Sugar who was down spectating. Liam is looking like he has got himself in great shape for the Cadbury marathon in Hobart in January so hope conditions are favourable for a good run.

My Garmin is a bit of a worry and I have been on the phone to Highly Tuned Athletes where I bought it from and also to the Garmin's customer service centre.

When I first got it, the magnetism between the charger and watch was really strong. It almost jumped on to the charger. Now the magnet is much weaker and to get it to charge I have to turn it off before connecting to charger and make sure that it buzzes and starts charging.

Garmin would not just send me a charge cable despite my pleadings about needing a working unit before I depart overseas. They wanted me to send in at least the cable.

When I was packing everything up to send it off, I unplugged the USB cable from the plug charger unit and plugged the USB into our PC. The magnetism of the charger was back to how it used to be and the watch instantly started charging away. As a result, I have just sent the charger/plug unit to Garmin for testing and hopefully replacement. At least now it seems that I have a charging option even if I have to fully charge and then not use the watch until race day (and keep an eye out for USB charging oppotunities while overseas). Plus I still have my Garmin for my last few workouts (including a marathon pace long run this weekend).

Have to say that HTA were a lot more helpful than Garmin.

The very good news this week was that I got an email from the Houston Marathon Committee telling me that I have got a start in the front corral :-) It is not a seeded start so I have to get there early enough to get a good spot but it is reassuring to know that I won't behind thousands at the start and hopefully can get into my marathon pace relatively quickly as I definitely find that the pace I am running at after about 2km seems to be the pace that I find easiest to hold at the moment.

Congratulations to Epi on his second place at the 46km Six Inch Trail Marathon. Sounds like it was very challenging navigationally and probably psychologically. Any race where half the battle is trying to work out which direction you are supposed to be running in doesn't really attract me but it seems like everyone who does it has a great time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

US Olympic Trials promo video

This has to be road running spectating heaven (or close to it).  Loop course so multiple viewing opportunities.  Can't wait!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Farewell to Strands

Unfortunately the Strands online training log and social media site is closing down on 30 December after only about three years of operation. It is a real shame as I thought the site had great potential but it seems that the business model was all wrong. How a site with hundreds of thousands of users (mainly in the US and Spain) could fall over within three years before it was even apparent how the site was intended to make money is bit of a mystery (to me anyway). The Strands company seems to have other products but they are products for businesses rather than consumers but there was no real cross promotion of these either.

As far as the Strands Fitness site was concerned, there was the Strands race/event registration service (which was only available in the US and seemed to have limited promotion and take up), the recommender service which appeared briefly and which recommended a limited range of products supposedly based on your interests and the sponsorship of the Strands Team athletes by initially by Puma and then by Mizuno.

I would have thought that Strands was perfect to complement a shoe company's online presence, attracting people to their website on a regular basis and creating a "community" and with it brand identification and loyalty.  While the star of Puma as far as running goes is undoubtedly Usain Bolt, they have also invested in an ongoing video series around Delilah DiCrescenzo, a steeplechaser who although she finished 3rd at the US Nationals this year (because the runner in front of her fell at the last water jump), her main claim to fame/recognition seems to be that she is not bad looking and was the subject of a Grammy nominated song by  a band called the Plain White T's a few years ago.  Equally, Mizuno could have made a lot more of its association with strands and its sponsored athletes, so there appears to be opportunities there that were not taken.  Basically Strands needed to show that there was a tangible benefit in the product and the community it had created but it seems to have failed to do so.

I am also a bit disappointed because I encouraged a lot of my friends to get onto Strands and now I feel like they have been left in the lurch.  Even more though, I feel pretty bad for the guys at Strands like Seamus Nally and Mike Reneau who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

At the end of the day though it is a business and there are other options.

After a bit of research, I have decided to go with Runningahead.com as my online log into the future.


It has as many, if not more, logging functions and options as Strands but does not look as good. It seems to lack some of the social aspects which I loved about Strands but it does have a forum and the ability to set up groups or teams but I haven't worked this out yet.

It also has some pretty cool reporting and graphing functions. As well as importing all my Strands data, I have managed to create csv files of both my Nike+ runs (from when I started running after my 40th birthday) and the 5-6 month period between when I stopped using Nike+ and started on Strands (luckily my blog was pretty comprehensive as a log at that time). So I have pretty much my complete post 40 years old running history.

As an example of the graphing functions, here is the progression in my yearly mileage (kms) since 2007 (2007 is only 8 months May-Dec):

My graph

It also has widgets for your blog so I will be replacing the Strands widgets with Runningahead ones in due course. I am actually going to maintain dual logs for a  short while until I am fully comfortable with Runningahead and find out how it all works.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Longest run - Biggest week

Sunday - 39km long run in 2:55 (4:30/km). Longest ever training run to finish biggest ever training week mileage wise (168.5km)

Got out reasonably early in an attempt to avoid the heat. Wasn’t too bad until about 8am when the sun came out from behind the clouds. Strong easterly blowing which was a headwind over the last few km as well as on the way out.

Ran a steady pace/effort and apart from some minor twinges in my hammies my legs felt good throughout. 3 gel stops and one swallowed fly …

Will look to get a massage at some stage this week just to keep ahead of any niggles as I stiffened up a bit on Sunday afternoon and the first couple of days this week in the afternoon after sitting at work.

My other significant run this week was on Friday. Thought it wasn’t going to be too windy and that I could make the wind work in my favour – unfortunately I am stupid …

2km warm up (4:43; 4:23) then 11km tempo which was from Boatshed Cafe at Coode Street to Narrows then along the freeway bike path to Canning Bridge and then about two thirds of the way back again. I though I would have the easterly behind me up the freeway but it was a south easterly so I was running into it, combined with the headwind from the traffic. Was nice to turn around but I only really got about 3.5km with it coming across my shoulder.

Splits were 3:41; 3:48; 3:46; 3:47; 3:53; 3:54; 3:53; 3:50; 3:46; 3:47; 3:41. Total 11km in 41:46 (3:47/km average pace).

6km cooldown (4:32-4:55/km pace).

If I do this run again, I would definitely do another couple of km warm up so that the cooldown was shorter.

McMillan calculator gives the slow end of tempo pace range for me as 3:48 based on my 55:34 15km time so this is within the right range and given the conditions I will say that it was a marginal pass and just keeps me on track as having hit all the correct paces for my workouts so far this program.

I have taken it very easy so far this week to recover from Sunday's run. I have another tempo run scheduled for Friday and will see how I pull up from that before deciding what sort of a long run I will do this Sunday. I am keen to get some more marathon pace running in so may do 35km with 12km at marathon pace but won't push it if I don't feel like I am up for it.