Port Macquarie Half Marathon 2018 – Race Report

Just a few weeks before I was in two minds whether to compete in this half marathon or train through to my goal marathon in April. Two weeks out from the event I decided to race and test my marathon training progress.

Port Macquarie half marathon is in my home town in NSW, Australia and a race I have competed in twice before. It’s a nice three lap course around the river and beach area of the town centre. A three lap race can however be tough mentally, particularly heading out for the third lap. My normal race strategy is to break my race into thirds and a three lap race gives me an easy way to transition through each phase of the race.

The race began under perfect conditions, very light wind, cool conditions for this time of year and overcast clouds. In the early stages of the race there were a number of guys that went out quite hard, with a couple of elite runners in the field they went out very fast and some of the other runners tried to stay with them. I decided to stick to my pre race plan of 3:50 min/km for the first two thirds on the race and then give my best effort. I went through the first kilometre in 3:45 and felt really comfortable, although slightly quicker than planned I felt I had found a nice rhythm and was with a small pack of guys running well and decided to stay at the back of this pack. Next two kilometres were also ticked off in 3:45’s and I decided to stay with these guys. I recognised one of the guys who had beaten me two years ago here and knew he was going to go close to my planned goal time and thought I’d stay in touch even though quicker than planned. First lap felt really good, I had averaged 3:45 min/km for that lap and we had started to overtake some of the guys that had gone too fast early.

Second lap was much the same. Some rain showers started to fall and this was nice to keep us cool. In the second third of the race I try and focus on discipline. And by that I mean staying disciplined to keep my pace even and not go too fast or too slow at any stage. The field had started to thin out now, the guy I mentioned earlier had just got away from me by 50-100m so I just aimed to keep him in sight and stay disciplined on my pacing. I went through 10km in 37:40 and was happy with this. At the 13km aid station I took my gel I had planned to take just before the aid station, it didn’t go down so easy and I almost coughed it up. Took some water at the aid station and then proceeded to cough and spit till the next aid station at 15km I was still running well although starting to fatigue but was able to keep my 3:45 min/km average pace to the end of lap 2.

By lap 3 the race had begun and it’s now time to give my best effort. The field had thinned out considerably and my calculations had me 12th at the start of the third lap. At this moment I focus on giving my best effort. My pace was slightly erratic over this lap and slightly slower than the 3:45’s. Still felt relatively good up until 4km to go and then I had to dig deep. It’s always pleasing to be able to give your best in that moment, when you need to dig deep and are able to find something to stay at goal pace. I was able to do that and finish the race off fairly strong. Over these kilometres I was able to overtake three runners and finish in 79:30. Overall 8th place and 1st in my age group.

Overall happy with where this race puts me in relation to marathon training. 79:30 is my second half marathon under 80 minutes and a new personal best. My last time under 80 minutes was 2001 a few months before my first marathon.

I ran this race in my Gladsoles Trail sandals. They were great to run in again, really light and flexible and allow me to run free. My 5km and now half marathon PB is in Galdsoles so they certainly are as fast as any shoes I’ve worn. Still undecided whether I’ll wear them at Canberra marathon, I’m leaning towards shoes although I’ll explain in a future post why, when i make that decision.

Port Macquarie running festival continues to get better. Much bigger numbers then my race here two years ago and a great atmosphere on course and from the spectators. Always nice to race in your home town too. Look forward to next years event already.

 

Marathon Training – Week 8

Another good week of marathon training. The run is going well with six runs this week and just over 80km covered. Unfortunately the swim and bike components have not gone well and today I have made the decision to not progress with training for the Ironman 70.3 in May. Whilst I am disappointed I haven’t been able to put it together and get my triathlon training on track it gives me time to focus purely on running a good marathon in Canberra. I may revisit my triathlon goals at a time in the near future when a marathon isn’t in the midst and requiring my focus.

Running this week started on Tuesday with my usual hill session. Hills went well and half way through this preparation I can feel the strength needed for a good marathon returning nicely. Wednesday was a 10km aerobic run that helped the legs recover and be ready for intervals on Thursday. I had a real purpose with intervals this week of 20 x 1 min with 1 min rest to keep every interval under 3:30 min/km. I failed on two of these intervals and stupidly one of them was the first, the other was the last which I can cop because I was spent after this session. All the other intervals were run between 3:20 and 3:30 min/km.

Friday was another aerobic run, this time only 7km. I knew I had a tough long run planned so ticking the legs over was the purpose of this run. Long run on Saturday had a purpose of 5km aerobic then 5km at my threshold pace of 4:10 min/km x 3. Meaning every 45 min contained a 5km effort with a 3km warm down afterwards to give me 2 hours 30 min overall. Really happy with this run, the efforts felt hard, particularly the 3rd but I was able to hold the pace and finish the session feeling confident. I rounded out the week with an 11km aerobic run on Sunday over grass. The grass was nice on the legs and a good way to finish my biggest week of the year so far.

Getting through my three key runs every week is a goal for every preparation of mine. I continue to believe that developing speed, strength and endurance is the best way to run best on race day. This week i was happy with all three of my key sessions and how my running has progressed in the seven weeks of this marathon preparation so far.

Week 8

With triathlon off my mind it’s now purely focussing on running and this marathon. Working hard over the next 5-6 weeks before tearing for the race.

Monday – Aerobic – 1 Hour

Tuesday – Hills – 1 Hour

Wednesday – Aerobic – 1 Hour

Thursday – Rest Day

Friday – Long Run – 2 Hours 40 min (Aerobic)

Saturday – Aerobic – 45-60 min

Sunday – Intervals – 14 x 2 min with 1 min recovery

 

I have also decided to compete in the Port Macquarie Running Festival half marathon, March 11th, just two weeks away. Looking forward to a solid week of training before a race that will test my fitness. Aim of this race will be to stick to a consistent pace, quicker than marathon pace and try and hold this pace of the duration. There will be no taper for this race, it will be a good test of my current fitness deep into marathon training.

I’ll also run this race in Gladsoles sandals, most likely the trail 8mm model. Looking forward to testing my speed over 21.1km in sandals. I haven’t raced a pure half marathon for a while and I haven’t decided yet whether Canberra marathon will be in sandals or shoes. This half may make the decision for me.

Looking forward to another week of marathon training. Feeling like my fitness is coming together.

Run well.

 

Running year in review -2017

My major running goal in 2017 was to run a sub three-hour marathon. It’s been a goal for a number of years and this year I set this as a specific goal for the Seoul marathon and was able to achieve this goal. This year I only managed to race two major races, the Seoul Marathon and Beach to Brother trail marathon in September. I look back at 2017 as a successful year of running for two major reasons, I achieved my sub 3 goal and stayed injury free the entire year.

Seoul Marathon

Seoul marathon in March was my first major goal race. I trained specifically for this race and was very motivated to achieve my sub 3 hour goal. This kept me training through the Australian summer and this paid dividends when I travelled to the colder climate in Seoul. My race went perfectly on the day and I finished in 2:57 for a nine minute personal best over the marathon. Hitting my sub 3 hour goal was the highlight of my running year and an achievement that I’m really proud of. I trained hard for this race, stayed injury free through the preparation and gave myself the best chance to achieve the goal.

Beach to Brother Marathon

Beach to Brother marathon was held in September in my home town of Port Macquarie. The race produced an unseasonably hot day in the mid 30 celsius and this really took apart many of the competitors on the day, myself included. The weather and course provided a tough challenge and I finished this race in 6th place in 4:42. My pre race goal was to break four hours for this race, but the conditions made this goal unreachable. I’m not satisfied with this result for beach to brother and will be back next year for another crack at this race. It’s a great course in a beautiful location.

Total Mileage

This year I have run just over 2100km with 27000m of elevation gain. I have completed approx. 60% of this running mileage in Gladsoles sandals including the Beach to Brother marathon and remained injury free throughout the year. This has been the first year that I have ever remained completely injury free and also the first year that I have solely run in minimal footwear. Running in sandals has been the common denominator in this years progression to minimal only footwear. Late in 2016 I made the decision that these would be my number one footwear choice and I would rotate between some other minimal shoes to add variety. Running in sandals has helped strengthen my feet so it’s safe to say that 2018 will feature more sandal running. Staying injury free has allowed me to run all 12 months of 2017, I haven’t had a total break from running for longer than a week this year. This has kept my aerobic training consistent and the given me the ability to keep running and stay fit and healthy throughout the year.

Whats next?

I’ll post later about my specific goals for 2018 but I’ve already committed to Canberra Marathon in April. On top of this I’ve decided to give a return to triathlon a crack and compete in an Ironman 70.3 three weeks after this marathon. This means from the start of the new year I will start a program to train for both of these races. It will be somewhat difficult to train for a triathlon and still get to the start line of a marathon in my best condition, but this is the challenge I’ve decided on.

Another goal for 2018 is to race more. This has been a good running year for me, staying injury free and fit throughout the year. I could have taken advantage of this by racing more.

While the year still has a few weeks left I’m ready for 2018 and to start fresh with some new running goals.

Review – Gladsoles Trail 2.0

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I recently took delivery of a new pair of Gladsoles trail 2.0 barefoot sandals. Gladsoles website simply calls these Trails, I’ve added the 2.0 to differentiate from the first pair of Gladsoles Trails I owned as the sole is different and the run is slightly different. Don’t be confused if ordering these, you’ve been warned.

The Gladsoles trail 2.0 is an 8mm Vibram Gumlite sole custom made to your individual tracing of your feet that ensures a perfect fit. They are a natural zero drop huarache sandal. 8mm is not a lot of rubber under foot, but it is enough and it’s enough to give you a great running experience.

In the time I’ve owned these sandals I’ve given them 79km of use. 79km over seven runs on a variety of terrain. First thing I notice about these sandals is they are slightly less flexible then the previous Gladsoles I’ve run in. This was reiterated by Rich at Gladsoles when I asked the difference in the sole, in his words, the Vibram Gumlite sole is denser and will take longer to cold to your foot but provide slightly more protection.

The denser sole certainly takes a little longer to mold to your feet however this doesn’t impact comfort a whole lot in the early runs. Straight away these sandals felt very familiar and easy to run in, once lacing was perfected the running experience is very natural. It is true to say that sandals become better the longer you wear them, my last pair ran 1100km in total and only as the sole started to break down in the last 100km did they not feel great. I anticipate this denser sole will last more than 1100km. The absence of a mid sole compared with regular running shoes is the reason why they last longer.

The Vibram Gumlite sole definitely gives more protection from objects under foot. This is  a big plus for this sandal, the extra protection allows for a more confident foot landing over trail terrain in particular. Ground feel is still amazing  despite the extra protection and slightly less flexibility.

I have run a number of runs over road, trails and beach in these sandals so far and been very comfortable in them on all surfaces. Being winter in Australia I have completed these runs in Injinji toe socks as most of my running is done in early morning and cool conditions. I have run two 20km + long runs in these, a 5km race, a hill repeats session and a number of aerobic runs to give them a variety of runs. The slightly less flexible sole has no impact on the running experience, the Trail 2.0 is a joy to run in, they give a pure barefoot running experience allowing the foot to move freely in its natural state and is not limited  or controlled at all by the footwear. This denser sole offers a more confident ride which should translate into faster running over longer distances.

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The fit of Gladsoles is perfect, being custom made to your tracing the fit simply couldn’t be better. Getting the lacing correct is important though and will take a few attempts to get the feel right, once this is achieved they feel like an extension of your feet.

The vast majority of my runs is now done in these sandals as it was with the previous trail model. Currently in the early stages of a marathon preparation and these sandals will be my footwear of choice for all my longs leading up to this race and the race itself. the race is a beach and trail marathon with a large variety of terrain changes throughout, i have no doubt that the Trail 2.0’s will help me get the job done in training and on race day.

If you are transitioning from a regular running shoe with a high heel differential be patient. The barefoot running experience will change your life for the better if you transition correctly.

Gladsoles-NewTrail

 

 

 

 

When you don’t want to run

A few months ago I had a period where it was tough to go running, my motivation to go and run had been lacking and just didn’t feel like doing it. So I didn’t. For a month I didn’t run at all. Just couldn’t be bothered. I still volunteered at my local parkrun a couple of times, still searched Facebook and the internet for running related information, and still spent social time with my running friends, just didn’t run. They would all ask me if I was injured and why I wasn’t running. I told the truth, lacking motivation, can’t be bothered. They thought I was weird.

I run because I love to run. I didn’t start running to lose weight or gain fitness in the beginning. I started running because it’s what i have always loved to do since I was a child and have never really stopped. So it is weird for me to tell people I can’t be bothered to go for a run.

During this month I thought about going for a run a few times, my body clock will still wake me up early like a personal running alarm clock. I thought about running but just didn’t want to run. When I woke up in the mornings I drank coffee, or watched television or played Fifa on the xbox instead of running. Although it wasn’t satisfying me doing these things I wasn’t missing running so I didn’t go running.

After a month of no running I could feel myself lose fitness and beginning to put on weight. This didn’t bother me as I knew I could change this quickly when I returned to running. I needed to go running again, I needed to establish a short-term goal, I needed to kick-start my motivation again.

Over the past year I have not run very much in my Gladsoles sandals and preferred using minimal shoes as I have been chasing times and some race results.I have never believed I could run fast enough in race conditions in my sandals so I have run these races in shoes. I decided to put my sandals back on and go for a run. Close to barefoot, back to basics and just go for a run.

It was kind of liberating to run in the sandals again and in two months since that run I haven’t run in shoes. Returning to sandals has helped me regain my motivation. I am now back to running 4-5 times per week exclusively in the sandals. I now can’t wait to put the sandals on and run. A week ago I ran a parkrun in the sandals and ran 18:20 for the 5km (my PB is 17:39), disproving my own theory that I can’t run fast enough in the sandals. Hoping to get down to my PB again soon.

From not running for a month I discovered that I really want to run barefoot or as close to barefoot as I can. I had become unmotivated to go running but I still loved running. It’s helped me choose my path that I want to be a barefoot sandal runner and focus on improving my running in sandals. My marathon PB can wait till I’m ready to achieve it in sandals. I’m going to focus on what I love about running and stay motivated, it took me a month of television and Fifa to rediscover that running is part of my dna and I need to run to satisfy my own self. For now that running won’t be in shoes.

 

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Time to fit in a run.

I recently began studying a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) online at University which has taken a quite a bit of my free time. With a full time job, a family and now studying for a degree running has been hard to fit in.

I have managed to keep up with my studies, my job is going well and I make sure I fit in enough time with the family. In the past four weeks I have only managed to fit in two runs per week and only short runs at that. While my runs have been short I have decided that my runs need to have a purpose and have been making sure these runs are done with adequate intensity.

Today i managed to get out on the beach and trails near my house for a hard fast blast over the hills. i really enjoyed the scenery and pushing myself up and down a couple of steep inclines. It was a warm day for our winter season here, it was good to put the shorts and shirt on rather than my winter running clothes and run in the light of the day rather then the early morning darkness. My Gladsoles with no toe socks on to keep my feet warm was good too. Great to free the feet.

With no races coming up in the near future and a pretty busy schedule i am going to need to stay on top of my studies, work and family time and make time for consistent runs.

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Review – Gladsoles Original Barefoot Sandals

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Earlier this year I discovered GladSoles Barefoot sandals on Twitter. I had been researching a few barefoot sandal brands and was instantly interested when I read more about GladSoles. The fact they are custom made was impressive , the fit could only be perfect if they are custom made.

A couple of weeks later I decided to order some, I decided on the Original instead of the Trail or Lite models. Although I run on some trails, a good percentage of my running is on road so I thought the Original was the best choice for me. I filled my cart online and found what I thought was a large issue. Shipping not available to Australia. This was a disappointment. I sent GladSoles a tweet asking if they would ship to Australia, within an hour I had a reply telling me to email and I would be able to order and shipping would be available. Awesome result, I emailed and was promptly emailed back. The same afternoon I did my tracing and emailed it through, my work was done, it was all up to the GladSoles team now. The same evening I got an email from GladSoles saying ” Your sandals have been made and posted this afternoon, and I’ve thrown in an extra set of laces for you.” Overall, fantastic service which is refreshing from an online purchase and something all online retailers should take note of.

Unfortunately two weeks had past before I ultimately received my sandals, it felt like two months because I was very excited to get these sandals and start running in them. It is a long way from the US to Australia so the postage time is the standard time, my impatience didn’t help.

Very keen to try, I quickly watched the you tube lacing video available and got them on my feet. My first run in the was a little 3km jog around the neighbourhood and instantly I liked what I felt. My first thought was that these gave incredible feel on the ground. 6mm of Vibram sole under your foot is not a lot, but it is enough to protect your feet and give a pure barefoot experience.

Since this first run I have given the GladSoles a solid test over many terrains and a variety of running paces. I have given them a test on road, both dirt and rocky trails, on the beach and in wet off road conditions. On all surfaces they have responded well. On road they give a Pure Zero Drop experience, amazingly low to the ground. I have run in other zero drop shoes but these are a different world away in terms of a low to the ground running experience. Plus my feet enjoyed being free. They are cooler and love the wind and elements against them.

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Over trails I found the Original very good, on uneven terrain your feet will splay on landing allowing you to grip the terrain when needed. With only 6mm of Vibram between you and the trail you can feel everything you step on, giving you amazing feel on the ground and the confidence to raise your pace. I would love to compare the Trail models 8mm sole over the same type of terrain but I found the Original very good on these surfaces.

Overall the one thing that stands out after running in GladSoles is that I now look forward to every time I run in them. I have 3-4 other excellent pairs of minimal running shoes I can put on when I go for a run but more often than not I choose the GladSoles.

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For those looking at a barefoot sandal I would highly recommend the GladSole Original. The fact they are custom made will ensure you have a perfect fit. I haven’t needed to tinker with the lacing design at all, they stay perfectly on my feet across all surfaces.

If you are interested in GladSoles use the coupon code: therunninger and you will receive a 15% discount. I am positive you will enjoy the pure zero drop experience of running in GladSoles