New workout – Goal race pace long run

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I’ve been recently thinking about it and this morning completed a new workout that I plan to add to my usual schedule. Once a month I aim to complete a goal race pace long run to complement my other training.

During a race preparation training cycle I will complete my three key workouts which are intervals for speed, hills for strength, and a long run for endurance. These three key workouts are complemented by aerobic runs aiming to let the body recover and rest days.

The goal pace long run I have designed into my schedule to give a fitness test of where I am currently and also build confidence. Whilst regular, weekly long runs are completed slower at an aerobic pace to build endurance this run will have a different purpose. The goal pace long run will reach a maximum distance of close to 3/4 of the race distance. With my next goal race being the Canberra marathon I will build this run to around 32km run at goal pace. My normal long run will continue to build to about three hours.

This morning I began putting this run in my schedule with a half marathon. With my goal in Canberra to beat my marathon personal best of 2:57, I aimed this for my goal pace to be slightly better than this at 2:55 marathon pace of 4:09 min/km.  You can see from my Strava file below that I went a bit quicker than this at 4:03 min/km. I was slightly ahead of my goal pace with 5km to go and decided to pick up the pace and finish strongly.

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During my current run streak I am running at the moment, (currently at day 25) I have kept all of my runs aerobic and forgotten about pace except for a parkrun last weekend. Whilst forgetting about pace I have built my aerobic fitness and today’s run was aimed to test my progress during this run streak. I felt strong this morning and was comfortable at this pace throughout the run. Whilst any marathoner knows that the pace they hold through halfway should feel comfortable, it was good for the confidence to be able to run this pace without any focussed training over the last month.

Recently I have made a decision to not focus on pace during my runs, this was still a factor during this run and will be moving forward. I kept my watch only on the time setting of my run this morning and only looked at pace as it told me each kilometre split. This gave me the ability to focus on effort throughout the run, trying to remain consistent and evenly pace the run. This is a learned skill that every runner should concentrate on, being able to run a goal pace is great, but being able to recognise the effort it takes to run your goal pace and consistently run the pace is much more valuable.

Post Christmas, in fact 8th January marks 14 weeks to my next marathon and the time my focussed training will begin. During this time my training will focus on my three key runs every week , aerobic recovery, rest and every month a race pace long run. I believe this run adds value to my training and gives a platform to improve on my marathon result. In early December I’ll build on to todays run and extend the distance by a few kilometres and give myself a marker of progress from November to December.

Do you have a run in your schedule to test your fitness?

 

 

How to choose your next marathon?

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Hands up if you searched the internet today for marathons you are planning to run? Research shows that 95% of runners searched the internet for marathons today. I made that statistic up by the way.

When planning your next marathon or race there are a number of considerations to take into account. These will vary depending on the type of marathon experience you are looking for. Do you want to go on a holiday and run a marathon while you are there? Are you looking at running for new personal best?

Here is four simple considerations that you may think about the next time you search for marathons or races.

Location

Choosing the location of your next marathon is an important consideration. You could choose your marathon to allow a holiday in a new city or choose the city based on the marathon you want to run. Either way location and the logistics of reaching the marathon destination is an obvious consideration.

If you decide on a marathon as part of a holiday obviously you will need to plan your holiday around the time the marathon takes place, which may or may not be the best weather to visit a particular place. Many marathons are held in cooler months as more suitable times for running, this may not be the best time to visit some cities.

If you decide on the marathon location for other reasons then you’ll need to decide on travel arrangements and how long the travel to the race will be. Logistics of arriving at the race location is a consideration. Racing close to home gives the benefit of easier travel, but there is a mystic about racing a marathon in a far away exotic destination.

Another factor in choosing your marathon location is whether you want to race in a large city or smaller country venue. Both have their positives, do you go for the excitement of a big city race with many runners to create an atmosphere or a more interment country race with fewer runners but easier logistical challenges on race day.

Choosing the location of your marathon is exciting part of the process. This has certainly been a consideration I have used for both reasons to see a new destination and also to be able to complete a race on an already planned holiday.

Cost

Everyone has a budget and although running is less expensive than a lot of sports the financial costs certainly add up when you factor in all the requirements of running and travelling to a marathon.

When you look at the simple costs of entry, accomodation and travel to a marathon costs are another important consideration. Cost of entry will vary depending on the race and entry requirements, certainly the larger city marathons with entry criteria which make it challenging to get into the field let alone run are more expensive to enter than a small rural marathon.

The other factors depend on the location of the marathon you choose but include travel (planes, train or automobile), accomodation, food and also leave requirements from employers. This can start to add up and become and expensive way to put yourself through a 26.2 mile torture test.

Course

The course you choose can shape your race, marathons are not created equally and depending on your goals for the race may help you decide which events to run (or not to run). If you want to run a personal best time then choosing a hilly run in a hot climate may not be ideal.

With so many marathons to choose from these days be sure of your goals and what you want to experience in your marathon. If you choose a big city marathon you are likely to see plenty of the sites of the city. for the first half of my marathon in Seoul earlier this year it felt like a guided tour of the city with 20 000 friends.

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Seoul Marathon 2017 medal

 

If you are looking to set a new personal best or aiming for a goal time look for a flat course in a cool climate. This will greatly increase your chances of reaching your goals. Alternatively if you are looking for a fun atmosphere then the course is likely less of a considerations.

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Choose your course wisely

 

Size

Choosing a marathon based on the size is important so you know what you are getting yourself in for. Marathons in big cities are great, thousands of people running together makes for a certain energy that is fantastic. They also come with the challenges of getting to the start, lining up at the port-loos prior to the race, challenges of positioning in the start area and potential crowding, especially if you are chasing a time.

Smaller marathons allow for much easier logistics on race day, and an overall less stressful race experience. But not the same level of energy and atmosphere that you get when you run a big city race. If you like the solitude of running alone or just want to avoid the crowds smaller marathons are a great option.

 

The easy choice to make is deciding to run a marathon, the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a marathon is an amazing feeling and one every runner should know. Deciding which marathon to run is a harder choice, decide on the type of experience you want and the choice will be much easier.

How did you decide on which marathons to run?

 

My week in running

My running week was mostly casual and relaxed with five runs completed for 41km overall all completed in my hometown. Started the week on Tuesday with a solid interval session, decided to break my intervals into two sets of 6 x 2 min with 1 min recovery, this gave me five minutes of easy running between the first and the second set which worked out fine and allowed me to push through to the end of the second set harder.

Most of the week saw me complete aerobic runs over a variety of runs with an undulating terrain. Didn’t have a specific hill session so added some hills to my aerobic runs for some variety. On Saturday morning I abandoned my aerobic run after 4km after being in a wild lightning storm, probably wasn’t in too much danger but for a short aerobic run I didn’t feel the risk was worth the reward.

I’m not normally a big fan of tempo runs during race training blocks as I feel I get more value from other training. However I decided to run a tempo on Sunday and went through a 2km warm up, 3km at 4:10min/km, 2km easy and 4km at 4:10 min/km. This run felt good and I enjoyed the tempo run for some variety. It might be something I revisit during my next marathon training block on semi regular occasions.

Mixed my footwear up for all these runs with Gladsoles trail sandals, Carson footwear Iguana racers and Salming Race 3 all being used during the week. Really enjoy the difference nuances of running with different footwear throughout the week.

There were a couple of performances on the international stage which really caught my eye over the weekend too. Both inspiring performances, one to win the world championship and another a rising star of Australian running.

Patrick Lange at the Ironman World championships in Hawaii, to run 2:39:59 for the marathon and run from 11th off the bike to not only win the world championship but break the course record was an outstanding achievement. Most of us don’t know what running a 2:40 marathon which is averaging 3:47 min/km or 6:06 min/mi feels like, it’s quick by any standards but at the end of an ironman is even more impressive.

Celia Sullohern won the Melbourne marathon in Australia on Sunday and ran 2:29. this is impressive running for a 24 year old. Into the top 10 all time Australian womens marathon times and putting her hand up for a Commonwealth Games birth on the Gold Coast early next year.

Hope you had a happy week of running.

 

Here are some places I ran this week.

Carson Footwear Iguana Racers – Review

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Earlier this year I purchased the Iguana Racers from Carson Footwear and right from the start the experience with this company was a happy one. I found out about Carson Footwear from stumbling across them one day on the internet and was intrigued by the brand. I decided to investigate the brand further and liked what I saw, so I needed to try some of these out.

Each pair of Carson shoes are made by hand in Oregon, USA. They have some of the most fun and cool colours and designs you’ll see on a running shoe. The hardest part is picking the design you want. I decided to go with the Iguana racer, which was the first design to go to market for Carsons. My experience started with me ordering the wrong size, Carson use a last sizing which is different from the current shoe sizing standards and despite using the sizing chart I got it wrong, the size I ordered was too small, not ideal when the shoes have already travelled from the US to Australia. The service from Carson Footwear was great, they promptly sent me a new pair and I returned the incorrect sized pair.

From my first run in the Iguana racers I immediately noticed they were different to every other pair of running shoes I’ve worn. Initially I thought they felt heavier than advertised but once I ran in them my opinion changed. The biggest difference is the polyurethane midsole/outsole that is zero drop with a 10 mm stack height. The polyurethane midsole/outsole is where most of the weight is in the shoe which makes the shoe have a lower centre of gravity which makes the shoe feel very light once running in them. Also the polyurethane reacts differently to a traditional EVA midsole as it absorbs the impact over a larger surface area giving greater ground feel. The advantage of this is it allows for more cushioning with less material under the foot, which is what we want in a minimal shoe. The polyurethane is remarkably flexible, 10mm under foot is not very much, but it is more than enough to give a smooth ride over all surfaces and a comfortable running experience. Like every good minimal shoe there is a wide and roomy toe box. With a flexible, light and responsive midsole and outsole the foot makes the decisions for the shoe rather than the opposite.

The upper material is extremely comfortable, made from a synthetic mesh, and very breathable in hot conditions. As said previously the upper are available in numerous fun designs. You will be asked about your shoes when you wear them.

The Iguana racers are head and shoulders the most comfortable shoes I have worn. I have now run over 400km in these shoes, they have been tested on all surfaces, technical trails of both dirt and rocks, as well as road and beach. They are responsive on the technical trails and although the tread is not extreme gives more than enough grip when needed. The feel is very smooth and comfortable for a shoe with only 10mm stack height, in my opinion this is the advantage of the polyurethane. Comfort on the road is fine, however I think they are best suited to the trails. Each time I run in these I feel like heading to a trail.

After 400km in the Iguana racers they are now firmly into my running footwear rotation. Whilst some shoes with traditional EVA midsole won’t last much longer than 400km, the Iguanas are just coming into their own. There is some visible wear to the sole but there are many more runs ahead in these shoes. So if you don’t like buying shoes every few months than these are for you.

Overall the Iguana racer is perfect for anyone comfortable running in a minimal shoe. If you haven’t transitioned to this style of footwear it will take some time. The comfort, ground feel and cool designs make sure the Iguana racers are a happy experience every time I run in them.

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How to run a negative split marathon by Galen Rupp

In winning the Chicago marathon Galen Rupp has broken a long drought since the last American won in the windy city. The first since 2002 to win and the first American born in 35 years.

He has done so with an impressive negative split. Rupp was ultra consistent running with a large lead pack through halfway in 66:11. The second half of the race run in 63:09. Rupp was extraordinarily strong over the last five miles running his last five mile splits in 4:39, 4:35, 4:30, 4:34 and 4:33 finishing the last 5.2 miles or sub 2:01 marathon pace and gave himself a 38 second personal best at the marathon.

A 66:11 first half is certainly not fast by runners of these standards but for Rupp to be able to still have this type of speed at the end of the marathon is highly impressive. The absence of pacemakers in Chicago impacts the times compared with the fastest marathons in the world. Be interesting to see Rupp line up in London or Berlin in time and test his ultimate marathon speed against the likes of Kipchoge an co.

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For the average marathon runner this may be a ‘don’t try this at home’ moment. Being able to run a large negative split in a goal marathon is obviously difficult. It’s much easier and safer to run a consistent race.

Even if you were to run below your goal race pace for the first half there is no guarantees you’ll be able to run above your goal pace late in a marathon. There is not many of us have the ability of Galen Rupp to run a large negative split and still run your best marathon time on the day.

 

 

How to run a 1 second parkrun PB

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U a recovery week following my recent marathon I decided this week g get my running routine back to some normality and decided this weeks training end to test myself at parkrun on Saturday (today) and back to a longer run Sunday. I also decided to visit my neighbouring town  about 20 minutes drive away, Wauchope for their park run as I have only been there once and enjoy the course. The course is a nice two lap course, with one lap shorter than the other along the river which is relatively flat apart from one hill which you run once on each lap.

My previous effort there was a 17:37, which at the time I was surprised and happy to be able to run on this course. My goal for this visit was to run hard and test my fitness, run consistent from start to finish and see what happens. All my fastest parkrun times have come when my splits are consistent. I am a firm believer in this strategy for races of every distance.

Whenever I race, I break my race into thirds. Beginning, middle and end. In the beginning I try to be patient, in the middle I try to be disciplined and in the end I try to give my best effort. I use this strategy to keep my running consistent, however even though you want the splits to be the same the effort levels will change through the race.

Today, I was able to beat my previous time on this course by one second and run 17:36. My kilometre splits  were 3:31, 3:35, 3:31, 3:40 & 3:28 for an average pace of 3:33 min/km for the 5km.Happy to keep my pacing relatively consistent today. The fourth kilometre is a tough one on this course with two hairpin turns and the hill to contend with I lost a little bit of time here. Running felt good today though, I was patient enough to be able to control my running in the first kilometre, use some disciplined pacing in the middle of the race and gave my best effort and pushed hard near the end.

Overall a good  way to start my running this weekend. Looking forward to getting back out to this parkrun again soon. It’s been an enjoyable run both times I’ve run here.

 

New goals – Canberra Marathon 2018

With my race season likely to be coming to an end for the remainder of the year, it’s a time to plan for some new goals to train for in the beginning of 2018. One race that I have wanted to do again for a while has been the Canberra marathon and I am going to plan this as my first major goal race for 2018.

Canberra marathon is a race that I have done before but a long time ago. I ran the Canberra marathon in 2002, it was my second marathon and to date on a road marathon course it’s my personal worst marathon time. It was a day that I learnt how much the marathon distance can humble you. I had run the Sydney marathon as my first marathon the previous year and everything went to plan, in training and on race day. On my journey to Canberra I suffered injury setbacks in training and was nowhere near as fit or ready as the previous marathon in Sydney.

On race day I was still aiming to give myself a chance at a sub 3 hour marathon and raced the first half of the race accordingly. After 10-15 minutes of running the heavens opened and the rest of the race was run in torrential rain, this was not the end of the world and we dealt with that as it came. By 30km my poor preparation and over ambitious race goal was starting to bring me undone and the last 10 km of this race was a lonely place. I made it to the finish line in what today is still my worst marathon result. it’s a marathon that I will remember for just how hard the marathon is when the ‘wall’ gets to you and just how humbling this felt at the time.

A long time has passed since my one and only attempt at the Canberra marathon. It’s time for the Canberra marathon to be a focus race again. When I arrive in Canberra, 16 years after my first attempt there my goal will be the same, a sub 3 hour marathon is again the prize that i’ll be after. This time I will be better equipped to achieve it, having done it this year in Seoul I am confident that I can get my body ready to do it again. I am also confident that my race strategy will be better and I’ll give myself a good chance of achieving this goal. Secretly I’d like to go a bit quicker, 2:57 in Seoul was my perfect result there, but maybe I can go a bit quicker than that.

What I’ve learnt in the years since my first Canberra marathon is the importance of pacing your race. Back in 2002 I didn’t have a GPS watch, I had a stopwatch and looked at the time when I passed each kilometre marker and then did a quick mathematical equation to work out each kilometre split.  What running in those time did was teach me to pace my run by perceived effort rather then the watch, it’s something I still do in all races and just use the watch as measuring stick to track my progress.

I’ve also learnt to respect the marathon distance every time you run it. If you go into a marathon and think it’ll be easy because your last race went so well, it’ll kick your arse. Every marathon is a new experience, a new journey where you start from zero and end at 42.2km. In 2002 I expected to run well because I had run well in Sydney six months earlier, I expected it to be easy. It wasn’t.

Looking forward to finishing my year with some enjoyable running before knuckling down at the start of 2018 and getting ready for another crack at the Canberra marathon in April 2018. This time I’ll be ready.

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Three things every runner can learn from Kipchoge’s Berlin marathon

Kipchoge Splits

 

Most of us can’t imagine running anywhere near as fast as Eliud Kipchoge did in the Berlin marathon last weekend. 2:03:33 was a mere 36 seconds outside the world record averaging 2:56 per/km. An average pace that most of us struggle to be able to run at , let alone hold it for any amount of time.

There is some valuable lessons to be learnt from Kipchoge’s race that every marathoner can take away though.

  1. Consistent splits from 1 – 42Km

41 of Kipchoge’s splits were between 2:51 -3:01 per km. Only kilometre 40 at 3:09 was outside this 10 second parameter meaning his control in being able to run at a consistent pace is amazing. Although he has pace makers setting the pace he understands that to run his best race he will need to run 42 very consistently fast kilometres. Every runner in any distance can learn from this by pacing their race consistently.

Kipchoge doesn’t go too fast early in the race he is patient and disciplined and runs every moment of the race strategically. If you want to run your best on marathon day run consistently from the start to the finish.

2. Marathons get hard near the end.

Even for the greatest marathoner in the world it is evident that the marathon distance shows in the last 10km. Six of his last 10km are slower than his overall average of 2:56 min/km. He is able to work hard and doesn’t lose much time but over the last 10km is where Kipchoge loses touch with the world record.

Anyone whose run a marathon knows how hard the last 10 km can be. What doesn’t happen to Kipchoge is he doesn’t pay in the last 10km for going too fast early in the race and even still it gets very tough.

3. Drafting runners will help

From Breaking 2 to Berlin Kipchoge was three minutes slower. The advantage he was able to use during his breaking 2 attempt in using the arrowhead pacers available cannot be understated. It created a significant advantage that Kipchoge didn’t have in Berlin. When an average runner goes to a large city marathon they should take advantage of the crowd and use them to pace their race. Running within a pack of runners may greatly increase your chances of running your best time as long as the pack is running consistent splits.

Obviously we all don’t have the ability to have a team of pacers taking us through each marathon we enter but using the crowd to your advantage may assist you run a personal best.

We all may not run as fast as Kipchoge, but using the methods of the best may just help you run faster.

 

 

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Running without racing.

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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 2017 – Race report

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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.

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