Thursday, October 30, 2008

Finding the Time

Struggling to find the time to get some decent running in. Work and life getting in the way. Does anyone else have that problem?

Finding after work is not that good - gets me into trouble with the family. Think I have to get back into the early morning 5am running - a struggle to get up that early but its all about routine. Gets easier after a while.

Today I got back home early from a work trip to Kawerau. Had a 15km run all planned out but what can only be described as internal rumblings saw me cut the run short at just over 5km - lucky it was a loop course and I could detour at an awkward sprint back home. Made it back though so all is well that ends well as they say.

Did 5.36km in 23:40 (4:25 min/km pace) - not too bad considering.

Good news is I'm over the cold :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Step away, turn around. Let my feet hit the ground.

Great day today - I could get quite used to holiday Mondays! I went for a similar length run as Saturday's effort - still a little blocked up to be honest so didn't want to run any longer than 30-35 minutes.

I call this route "Along the Grange" because, well, it goes up Grange Road. Feel like I'm handling the hills reasonably well at the moment - not racing up them but keeping an even pace.

Overall 7.63km in 33:36 (4:24min/km pace). Quite pleased with that given still a bit "sniffly" - and yes in hindsight a recovery run should have been quite a bit slower.

I want to crack 1:35 in my next half - for that need to pace for 4:30 min/km's over the entire race. I think should be achievable if I train smart over the next 4 weeks.

Here is the flash-harry elevation graph courtesy of

Since its a nice day, and you've read this far here is a treat... another great New Zealand song with a running theme. "Running" from Evermore. Good stuff!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weigh In - 26 October 2008

Weight a bit up and down this week. Had a (man) cold and consequently didn't exercise all that much. Next week will be better!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recovery Run

As mentioned last post I've been slowed down with man-flu this week (aka man-cold, aka dreaded lurgy):

This video cracks me up. I didn't have a bell like that here - just as well my wife would have clocked me over the head with it ;). Anyhow I'm on the tail end of the cold now which is just as well. My diet hasn't been the best the last few days. Thanks everyone for the get well soon comments on my last post.

This weekend is Labour weekend in New Zealand. Monday is a public holiday celebrating the advent of the 40 hour working week in 1840. A good weekend for a run or two. The weather has been pretty variable so far so its a matter of trying to find a time in between rain showers.

Today was a shortish recovery run round the block. The weather was a bit windy with slight showers but nothing too bad. I did my tempo run course (7.53km) at a slower than normal time of 33:52 (4:29min/km).

It was a bit suprising the run was quicker than it felt. My breathing was a bit ragged at the end though just to remind me not probably not totally over the cold.

Looks like has an interesting looking elevation chart - here is the one for today's run:

The hills are pretty tame on this run only 3% uphill gradient.

Here is the route in 3D google earth glory:

The big brown area in the bottom right is actually a scoria quarry. Due to the quarry activity there is only one "king" (volcano) left of the Three Kings. There is talk when it closes over the next few years the council will move to turn it into park land - that would be a good move in my opinion.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Monday afternoon I started to get the "I'm coming down with a bug" feeling. Woke up this morning with dry eyes, sore throat and achy shoulders. Not that flash.

So being sensible that means no running today. I did go for a short walk to try and clear my head with limited results. Will be taking it very easy and hopefully be a box of fluffies real soon now.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Morningside For Life!

Today the sun was out so I went for a run in a new route! This one went through the Auckland suburb of Morningside. Nothing special in that but it is the setting for New Zealand's first adult-targeted animated series - bro'Town. Apparently our answer to the Simpson's but with polynesians. Likely if you live outside of Auckland you won't understand the references but pretty funny if a bit crass. The below shows a few good clips in the guise of an episode of mastermind :)

Anyhow the run itself was OK - 13.7km in 1:03:22 (4:37min/km). The route details here. A couple a hills in this including the one from Run Auckland Race 5. Good it wasn't raining today remember the race earlier in the year it was bucketing down.

Did it pretty hard towards the end but all in all a good weekend's running.

Weigh In - 19 October 2008

Still going in the right direction. A bit slower this week though but slow and gradual progress is a good idea for weight loss. Feeling pretty good with how its going!

Made a big effort this week to watch portion sizes and by and large this went well. Just over 5kg to go to get to my goal weight (80kg). Would like to make it by the end of the year. Should be a realistic goal.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Run to Waikowhai Park

I hadn't done any running since the world wide half last Sunday. Usually after a long run/race my calf muscles are quite tight but overall I felt pretty good on Monday. Did a few walk commutes to work this week which I think were OK in terms of a recovery activity. Work is about 6km away from home - takes just under an hour.

Anyhow at Friday lunchtime I was having a look on the Auckland City Council site for some new places to go running. The Running In The Inner City page is quite good but for today I wanted to do something a bit different - this page on Manukau coastal walks caught my eye.
Step away from urban sprawl - embrace the serenity, beauty and natural rhythms of the Manukau Harbour. Discover nature in the city.

That sounded rather good. In fact Waikowhai park was all that and more. A lovely spot very much a hidden gem which I had never been to before. Further down the page:
Take the concrete path that drops down to the west. Take the right fork, cross the wooden bridge and climb the steep staircase up to Cape Horn Road (200 plus steps). Take a breather and consider the fine outlook from the site where a Maori pa once stood.

Steep staircase? How hard could it be? Taking a breather is an understatement as I found out. Running up this thing is a recipe for jelly legs and being out of breath!

So this morning I set of at a "regular run" pace.

Here is the route which is approximately 16km. The obligatory google earth image:

At around 3km the route passed Mt. Roskill - how can you run past a volcano, even a small one, without running up and down it?

Image from the Wikipedia entry for Mt Roskill.

Hill climb was Ok nice comfortable pace up and down. Started raining and got a little windy at around 4km. Nothing too serious though.

At around 6 km the route headed along Cape Horn Road. A few 20kV transmission towers over this area - in the rain making quite a loud hissing noise. I'd hate to live near one. Towards the end of Cape Horn Road the run hit bush and an absolutely brilliant view of the Manukau harbour.

Hit the steps then - going down. These things were steep all-right and with the rain were quite slippery. Took my time down them while thinking it was going to be tough getting back up. At the bottom hit Waikowhai Park - here is a photo from the Auckland City Council site:

Very quiet aside from the sound of the harbour and birdlife. Hard to believe it is so close to the city.

Climbing back up the stairs was tough. Fairly even pace until about three quarters back up and then it was hard not to give up. Got a case of jelly legs at the top and toasted me a bit for the rest of the run.

8km through to 11km were fairly slow recovering a bit from the hill. The rain had stopped by then which was good and nice views provided along Hillsborough Road.

At around 11km went along the edge of Keith Hay Park. Thankfully it was nice and flat. Got to run over a neat little foot/bike bridge across the path of the motorway under construction. Here is a photo from the transit website:

This picture shows the footbridge in the foreground, Keith Hay park to the left, and the road bridge crossed at about the 2.5km in the background.

The rest of run was fairly sedate. The run was definitely slower in the second half. Those steps took the starch right out of me! Overall 15.98km in 1:21:40 (5:06min/km).

Waikowhai Park was very nice. It would be a good spot for a picnic.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weigh In - 12 October 2008

I weighed in before the world wide half yesterday:

We visited my parents for Sunday lunch later in the day. It was great. A lovely beef dish and berry crumble for desert which went down a treat.

Still going in the right direction with the weight loss. On the topic of lunch I've been good taking food with me to work rather than going and buying something. That's working out quite well (and saving money while I'm at it).

On a side note am finding tracking weight, and posting weekly, using physicsdiet a good way to keep focused.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

World Wide Half - Race Report

After entering this virtual event yesterday I was quite nervous and found it hard to sleep. It really did feel like a proper race. Weird eh? I think it was partly because I had annouced the entry on this blog and hence some pressure to put in a good effort.

Before the race I checked out the course from space (thanks Google Earth):

Headed out to the start line at quarter past 6 just before dawn here in Auckland on a cool but fine morning. No queues for the toilets and got a great pole position at the start (my driveway!). No start gun though this race so just pushed the start button on my G-Shock stopwatch and headed out.

On a serious note the early start was also so I could get the run finished while it was still cool. Running a half marathon with no planned drink breaks I needed to minimise dehydration. I had hydrated well the night before and had a glass of water after I had woken up.

The first 3km or so where along pretty flat suburban streets in Mt. Eden and Sandringham - Halesowen, Calgary, and Shackleton. This was the extra I had tacked on to my long training run to bring it up to half distance. Used that to ease into the run. Actually the start was great - there was no congestion with other runners! Usually a race there is a bit of congestion in the first part. I guess countering that there are no people to pace against later on and no crowd support. Have to say the atmosphere with a whole lot of other runners is something else (and what makes races fun).

The course wasn't too bad...

The 3km through 8km is rolling terrain up through Mt. Eden Village and into Grafton. Saw a few other runners out training and got a wave or two. They were probably wondering what the hell I was doing running pretty hard out early on a Sunday morning.

The domain was nice and pleasant - at around 9km the sun was coming up through the trees and it felt pretty good to be honest. I had started to feel fatigue round about here and the sunshine from down was a bit of a lift.

The section from 10km through 13km was pretty flat aside from a nasty little hill just into Gillies Ave. The sun was starting to come up now which was good.

13km through 17km was through Cornwall Park. Along this part of the run I tried to run on the trail and grass a bit - the uphill sections were a matter of just maintaining stride rate (albeit with a shorter step). In contrast really attacked the downhill sections felt like I absolutely screamed down the hill.

The last 4km of the run was tough. My feet, quads, lungs were starting to feel it. On the plus side not a peep from the knees and calves. Not much left for a sprint finish but certainly finished in better shape than my first half back in July. Still running reasonably strong. Absolutely stuffed though.

The face of victory! Well I am wearing a nike top and she is the greek goddess of victory. I'm shattered right about now.

I then took a photo of the time for the permanent record. Out of focus shot due to post race exhaustion.

1:35:47 which is a new PB! According to the route was 21.4km so average pace is 4:28min/km.

Doing the world wide half was great. As I said earlier it really did feel like a race! Even got a virtual certificate...

Absolutely brilliant and now I'm buzzed for the rest of the day. Hope everyone else had fun racing it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Phedipidations World Wide Half Marathon - I'm in!

Today I read an interesting race report on Mike's Sub6 blog he had just run in the virtual half marathon with over 1000 people in over 40 countries. That sounded pretty interesting so I checked out in further details - from the website
On the weekend of 11-12 October 2008 runners from around the world will 'virtually' come together to celebrate their passion for the sport they love by running The Worldwide Festival of Races Half Marathon, 10K and 5K distances. This race is a free, non-commercial event for runners of all abilities, where everyone is invited to register, train and run with us in the spirit of friendship. The only requirement is that you sign-up to run an official road race or a route of your choosing on the weekend of 11-12 October 2008, and report the results on this website. Participation in the race will also include a 'virtual' race bib, goody bag and completion certificate as well as a community forum and final results listing.

Free is always good so I figured why not stretch out my planned 18km long run to a half marathon distance. Hard to "race" on my own but it should be a good fun run. It'll be a route of my choosing of course.

Here is my "virtual" race bib - what do you know lucky number 1142 :)

Here is the "course" I'm planning on doing...something like 21.4km but its hard to get it exact when you are just clicking points on a map.

Going to try for an early start...

Ever Increasing Circles

Yesterday morning on the way to work I was thinking about a comment AndrewE made on my last post.
I dream of that kind of speed! One day!

That's a nice comment however I'll add the disclaimer that for me any pace under 4:30min/km is high intensity so at the end of even a short run like that I'm blowing hard and a bit of a sweaty mess.

This is going to be a pretty obvious statement but progress is relative to where you currently are. One day I'd like to go under 40 minutes for a 10km - and under 20minutes for a 5km. Perhaps even dreaming about it on occasion ;). An ambitious goal but progress should be thought of as a series of ever increasing circles.

In Jon Ackland's book Complete or Compete there was a illustration about this. It struck a chord with me - it was something like the following:

Essentially it shows that wherever you are, that is current limits, can be expanded with adequate training to new limits. Additional training will expand the limits further and so on. Obviously there is a physical limit to this that elite athletes will approach but for mere mortals like myself I don't think thats the limiting aspect.

I think its good to keep in mind though that metrics on performance - whether how fast you can run, how long you can run, aerobic capacity, or getting to a certain weight are essentially "carrots". The journey of getting there, that is getting fitter, is really the main goal. I think that running long distances can also be mentally fulfilling as overcoming a challenge as well.

When I started running 2 years ago my initial circle was very small. Weight had stretched to 98kg which triggered a "pre-mid life crisis". Initially anything more than a couple of hundred metres was hard. Running was slow.
In hindsight it was a shame I hadn't found the 'Couch-to-5K' program it would have made things easier.

Initial goals were fairly modest - Remember one milestone after a couple of months was being able to do the 3km loop around One Tree Hill. Slowly, very slowly, but non-stop. 3km become 5km and then 8km and eventually a work colleague had convinced me to enter the Auckland Quarter Marathon with him last year. Training for a race was just the thing to keep me focused.

A few more months of training - largely on rolling terrain or hills - I managed a good time on what was a dead flat course.

Shame I didn't blog those early days but I have been recording progress ever since. Onwards and upwards. The big carrot for me now is a full marathon next year.

Weather looks good today so might be good to lace those shoes up and head outside :) All this talk about circles has got me motivated...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Midweek Tempo

Rain and wind hit Auckland yesterday (Tuesday) so my tempo run got postponed until today.

7.53km in 32:15 (4:17 min/km pace) - according to that's 14.01km/hr which is quick (for me).

Good honest hard effort throughout.

This article at runner's world is quite a good read on the virtues of tempo-running. Good to do once a week. I've been reading a bit about intervals as well.

I don't have a picture for today's run but here is another good kiwi band, Goldenhorse, for your viewing pleasure. Lead singer Kirsten Morelle is singing about running so it must be good:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Weigh In - 5 October 2008

Been going the right direction this week - largely watching what I eat.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Great Hill Run

This morning I did my Maungawhau/Mt. Eden hill run and it was great! Probably one of the best training runs all year. No niggles and felt strong on the uphills and kept the pace consistent as opposed to shuffling near the top. I guess just one of those days when training feels great - wish they all feel this good.

Diet has been quite good this week (baby spinach sandwiches for lunch anyone?) and that may be helping.

Photo by Pat Leahy. A cow's eye view of the road to the top. The island out in the harbour is actually an extinct volcano as is the hill (Mt. Eden) of today's climb.

Half way up the climb I caught up with a group of runners also talking the road to the top. Even passed three of them :). Tough hill climbs are really helping with running strength and should pay dividends when racing a flat course.

Today was 11.18km in 51:00 (pace 4:34 min/km).

Progression on this route:

21 Sep - 55:12 - 4:55 min/km
28 Sep - 54:02 - 4:49 min/km
4 Oct - 51:00 - 4:34 min/km

Time for a banana :)