Last Sunday’s marathon was the culmination of training towards a goal race and despite the challenges that unfolded during the race I am happy with my overall effort. This race was the culmination of 14 weeks training which is my normal plan for a marathon or longer race.
Last Sunday’s marathon was also likely the culmination of my racing year, with not many races left before the end of the year and certainly very few close to home. This means it’s time to switch gears with my training and enjoy my running with less focussed training towards trying to peak for a race. At times not having a race to train for has been a time when my running has suffered. I have struggled with the lack of focus and specificity and too much ice cream and skipped runs.
These days I have running without racing plans which keep me running regularly and enjoying my running without the pressure and challenge of a race in the not too distance future. This plan starts with continuing to run a similar amount of times per week and using variety in my running to keep focussed.
During October I plan to continue with my three key workouts each week, these are hill repeats, intervals and the long run however each will have far less focus. Hills will likely be similar, intervals shorter with more recovery and the long run shorter and not building time each week. Continuing to focus on these runs will keep my fitness ready for when my next race preparation starts. In addition to these will see some varying terrain and locations to keep my running interesting. to add variety I like using a weighted vest for some short runs, or efforts during runs. Skipping an aerobic run for a weighted vest hike is another option for easy days.
Adding variety can also be done by changing up footwear. As the weather gets warmer I like to use my favourite running location, the beach for some barefoot intervals and aerobic runs. GladSoles Sandals will still be my go to footwear for most of my runs though. And I will use my Carson footwear trail shoes for when I want some variety. These are the best shoes I’ve run in without socks, which is great for the beach and when the weather is hot.
The main focus while I’m running without racing is enjoy my running, add variety that isn’t achieved when training for a race and relax without the pressure of training hard.
Summer in Australia it’s certainly the best time to be outdoors enjoying the place we live. It’s a great time for relaxed running and enjoying the surrounds. I’m looking forward to running without the need for racing for the next few months, and enjoying my running.
Beach to Brother Marathon was planned as one of my goal races for this year. My training for this race was good for this race, and I felt ready when I lined up on the start line. I had made a decision almost 12 months ago to run this race in my Gladsoles Trail sandals, when I was feeling unmotivated to run last year I changed back to running in sandals and found an enjoyment to running that I was struggling to find. Since then I’d estimate 80% of my running is in sandals and I felt confident running this race with them.
A week before the race it was evident that Sunday was going to be a hot day, the weather report had predicted 32C/89F and this was going to be unseasonably hot for September in this area. I was concerned by this as all my training for this race had been done in early morning and cool conditions, it had been 6 months since I had done a hot run.
Race morning arrived and the weather was already warm, race began at 7am from Town Beach, Port Macquarie, my goal was to run the first section of coastline to Lighthouse beach conservatively as this is quite hilly. After five minutes of running I found myself in the lead of the race, this a section of terrain I train regularly and I ran this section at my own pace, walked two of the steeper hill sections. I hadn’t planned to be in the lead of the race but I felt very comfortable with how I was running so I continued to run my own race.
The next section of the race is a beach section from Lighthouse Beach to Lake Cathie to the south, once I started running this beach it was hot. There was a light wind behind but the exposed sunlight made it very hot. I decided to run within myself here and conserve as much energy as possible. There is a soft sand section as you detour off the beach which was tough going before getting back onto the beach. Coffee rock just before Lake Cathie was also a challenging section as the tide was rising. On this beach I was overtaken by the eventual race winner and arrived at half way at Lake Cathie in second place and feeling good.
From Lake Cathie to Bonny Hills along the beach the tide had risen and the soft sand and exposed rocks to run over made for tougher then expected conditions. The heat was really on now making running difficult, I was doing my best to keep hydrated and keep conserving energy. At Bonny Hills surf club I exited the beach, fatigue and pain in my legs had started to set in now. I was told at the aid station the leader had 3 min 50 sec on me now, I wasn’t confident of catching at this stage.
This section includes quite a technical trail around Grants Headland and a nice fire trail before the aid station with 10km to go. Once off Grants Headland I was aware that heat stress was starting to be a factor and my legs were beginning to cramp. On this firetrail I was passed by another runner a local runner Luke and we ran to the aid station at North Haven together. There was a large crowd there waiting for the 10km start and I got some good support from some friends there.
Section from North Have to the base of North Brother mountain is mainly pathways and flat. This section normally would be a comfortable part of the course but my legs were starting to cramp badly along here. I made the decision to walk to stretch my legs and then continue running. This was successful for a while however after 3km of this strategy almost every step my legs cramped when running, walking was difficult. I made the decision to walk till I felt I could run. During this period I was passed by another three runners including friends Cliff and later John. I seriously consider dropping out with 5km to go but couldn’t do it, i needed to finish this one. All in all I walked about 3 km before the base of the mountain and only then i decided to run some of the down hill sections before the hill actually begins.
By the time I hit the North Brother mountain track I was starting to feel better, my walking was quite strong as I began the climb. I passed a number of people in the other distance events on the climb and caught back up with John who had dropped me earlier and we finished together. 2.5km to the top of the mountain was very tough, after 40km of tough coastline the hill at times felt impossible to walk. After 4 hour and 40 min I got to the top of the mountain and finished this tough event.
Overall I am disappointed that I didn’t have the race I wanted and things go to plan but marathon running isn’t easy and I’m happy I came through and got to the end. The maximum temperature for the day was 39C/102F, hotter than anyone expected and way too hot to run a marathon on this course. The Gladsoles sandals were excellent throughout the race, great on the hard sand and trails. The only issue I faced by running in sandals was after wet feet go through soft sand the sand can build up on the sole of the sandal and this took some time to run off.
I underestimated some of the terrain for this race, in particular the amount of soft sand running and how exiting beaches on soft sand repeatedly saps your legs. The terrain I am familiar with and the most of I expected, I had expected the hill to be a brutal finish to the race and it lived up to expectation.
Beach to Brother Marathon is great event which is sure to grow in coming years. It’s well a organised event and the camaraderie and support on course is excellent. It’s a tough course, on some of the most spectacular coastline in Australia. Already looking forward to next years race – Might do the half marathon though.
Time will soon tell if six days without running in the week leading up to a race is a bad thing or not, but so far it doesn’t feel like it play a major role in the marathon I am running on Sunday. The week has been pretty relaxed so far and haven’t really had the race in the front of my thoughts just yet. Have been focussed on trying to get some good sleep and resting my foot, albeit with the normal demands of work, study and family life.
The good news is I haven’t eaten ice cream every night this week as I put my feet up and haven’t put on any weight. Resting has meant I will be very fresh for the race on Sunday but possibly slightly under done. Six days off running hasn’t sapped my confidence, still feel I’ve done the long training beforehand to put me in a good position as the race unfolds.
Six days off running has let my troublesome foot heal, there is now no pain in the foot. This is important for confidence as much as anything. I never really felt like the foot was going to stop me running or hinder the race in any way but decided to play it safe and minimise the risk of going into long race with pain. Marathons a tough enough without having other problems to hinder your race.
Overall I don’t think six days off running will have any effect on my race, it won’t be an excuse if the distance and terrain win the day. Looking forward to having a small run tomorrow morning and testing the foot and sharpening myself up before Sunday.
Weather forecast is for hot weather here on Sunday with a maximum of 33C/90F. This could cause problems for everyone as the race is scheduled just after the end of winter and certainly all of my running for this race has been in cooler weather. Heat also brings the snakes into play on the trails as they love to come out when the heat comes out. No point in worrying about the uncontrollables though.
Looking forward to the challenge on Sunday.
Photos are all from on the course of the Beach to Brother Marathon
This week I have been forced to, well chosen to make an alteration to my marathon training due my foot not wanting to play the game. After my run last Sunday I spent the day with my family at the beach, the weather was perfect spring time weather and I spent a few hours playing in the water with my son. Hard to believe you can get injured playing with you family at the beach, but I think I did.
I’ve no idea what happened but by Monday there was pain in the top of my left foot. I didn’t think much of it and thought it would go away, on Tuesday I went for my run and the pain became a little worse afterwards and through the day. It’s not an excruciating pain and won’t stop me running but its enough to make me think I should stop running for a day or two. I decided not to do my aerobic run yesterday with every intention of running this morning when I woke up except the pain is still there and it’s raining. So I didn’t run.
I’ve made the choice to take a couple days off and start my taper early. It certainly won’t stop me running my marathon in less than a fortnights time and I don’t believe the time off running this week will have any effect on my race performance. Just annoying enough to keep me sidelined for a little bit.
My August running stats are fairly unimpressive for someone heavily into a marathon training period and building endurance. Overall I managed 178km in August with an also unimpressive 2169 m of elevation ran. On face value a failed month of training that didn’t see me run enough kilometres to gain the value that I was hoping.
While not the monthly mileage I had planned the month had it’s challenges at the start of the month and I was able to come through and post some really valuable runs. Overall I missed 12 days of running at the end of July and beginning of August through having a flu. This meant I was only able to run on 13 days of August. One of the worst colds and flu’s I have had in my life and I was just unable to shake it off for quite some time. The first week of August saw no running at all followed by 37km in week 2 with most of this on the Sunday 13th August where I ran through a 19km long run on the beach. This was basically the start of my training in August, from here I new I needed to up the distance on my weekly long run each week more than I would normally to get enough running into the legs before a marathon.
I was able to run 29km and 36km long runs for the remaining two weeks of August and this morning ran 39km albeit on the first day of September so kind of exempt from this August recap. Each of the last three weeks i have been able to put out interval and hill repeats sessions as planned and continue to build my speed and strength.
When you have a good base of training from a number of years of running, fitness come backs fairly quick. The 12 days off running with the flu followed by a week of running while still having the flu have not affected my fitness too much and I have been able to come out the other side and be relatively comfortable with my overall fitness.
It’s now just over three weeks till my race and I feeling pretty good about my fitness and my endurance. August hasn’t provided me with a perfect preparation but it has ended much better than it started and I am beginning to feel some confidence going into September and the last couple of weeks of training.