Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Southland half marathon race report, oopsie doodles!

A couple posts ago, I mentioned my goals and thoughts for my upcoming half marathon: the Southland half marathon on November 18th. Well, the Friday of the weekend before the race, I received an e-mail newsletter from the race director which included all I needed to know for the race in 2 days' time.

RUH ROH, wait what??? In my season planning, I must have accidentally written down November 18th instead of 11th, and had, even when visiting the race website and registered, still misread the date. All to say, I got in touch with my coach, I swapped shifts at work, I had the miniest of tapers and the quickest of drives down south to make it to the start line in time. Oopsie doodles!!

The half-marathon started in Waianiwa (middle of nowhere) and ended in Invercargill. In essence, it is an on-road race that has us first running on some pretty quiet country roads and ended running along the highway (ugly) and then through Invercargill residential area (slow, trafficky). I race because I like beautiful courses and this... wasn't particularly scenic. Never mind that... how did the race go?

Well, the night prior to the race we had camped along the river in Winton (15 min drive from race start) but, being a Saturday night, some local hooligans were doing wheelies all along the dirt roads by the riverside and it was actually quite scary being in a tent and these cars coming whizzing by you REALLY closely honking their horn. I thought I'd be raped and killed. Thankfully, they left after we let the dogs out (I'm assuming they thought my partner was a hunter and, after letting the dogs out, he was going for his hunting gun... which he doesn't have). Never mind, they got the message and left, although I'd had my burst of adrenaline. I did not sleep well!!

The day of the race was cool, perfect running weather. It was cloudy but not windy; we got our fair share of a downpour mid-race but it stopped after a couple k's. My plan for the race was this: control yourself in the first 5-10k, and then really try to aerobically suffer. The first k's were awesome: I was running 4:45/km and cruising nicely. Then, however, not being used to road running and having no change of muscle stimulation (unlike trails), my calves got incredibly fatigued and I had to drag myself forward another way. I used to be quite a heel striker when I first started running, I kept getting shin splints in one leg, and finally I had had enough, started using more and more minimalist shoes while walking and shoes with less of a heel-to-toe drop while running and became a forefoot/midfoot striker. The change was very slow (1+ year) but I now never ever get injured and can run faster. In saying that, my calves are still not 100% conditioned and it shows up when I am trying to combine fast AND long distance. They fatigue quickly, and then I'm fucked. That showed up again. My heart rate dropped to aerobic effort but no matter how hard I tried, my cadence was the same (90-95rpm) but my stride had shortened drastically. I couldn't will myself to run faster, so the km's passed at around 5:05-5:10/km... slow and bored and I was grumpy. To top it off, when running within the city limits, I accidentally followed a construction cone rather than a race cone and, given there were no race marshals at the turn, I kept going straight and lost 1-2 minutes going in the wrong direction. AWESOME. I only knew to come back because a car was honking at me to go back. I was a grumpy pants after that.

Form is good, stride length shortened -- 2k to go.
I'm impressed my form held up despite the fatigue in my calves

Ah, the beautiful and flattering race pictures abound...
All in all, I finished in 1:46:36 (having run 500m longer than the 21.1km course)... new PB by 24 sec but it is bittersweet, of course, given the above sentiments.
In the days following the race, I felt pretty much no fatigue, nothing is sore, except for the debilitating achiness/soreness in my calves. They had hurt to even look at, let alone contract. OUCH! 

8/44 Open Female (under 40)
8/63 Female
48/136 Overall

Onto the next one!!

Review: Nairn's Oatcakes

Nairn's Oatcakes recently contacted me about doing a review of their cracker and cookie products. They are a company that specializes in wheat- (and gluten)-free foods; the main ingredient is whole grain oats. Here are my thoughts on the company and its products:
The company produces foods that are all natural, wheat/gluten free with a focus on wholegrain oats. They are based in Scotland. What I found most impressive, other than catering to the gluten-free crowd, is that their cookies are high in fiber, low in sugar and source their palm oil sustainably. Thumbs up and well done for that.

I sampled two boxes of nairn's oat biscuits: mixed berries and stem ginger. Both had great taste, and a noticeably lower sugar content than other traditional cookies. These were more filling than fattening, I'd say.

Although I am not gluten-free, I recognize that consuming huge amounts of wheat can have a detrimental effect on the digestive system (you can read more about it in the book "Wheat Belly") and thus I limit my wheat intake. These cookies helped!!

I'd definitely recommend them if you're looking for a filling snack that isn't overwhelmingly sweet or calorie-dense: I've been crumbling my cookies in plain yogurt, smearing peanut butter on them, etc etc. The cookies are plain, slightly sweetened with nice flavor; the stem ginger flavor has a really nice tang to it! Take a look at their website for recipes and where you might find a local stockist: Nairn's Oatcakes!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

half marathon, ruh roh

Now that I'm back in NZ (yay!) and the days are long and sunny, it's time to begin the season! First off, given that I've just started working with a new coach, I'm throwing myself into a half-marathon on November 18th down in Southland. Just to see where I'm at... what kind of run fitness I have (if any) and how I can improve. In my most recent half-ironman, I ran a 1:47:00, so I'm aiming for AT LEAST sub 1:45. Well, I'm really aiming to just run as hard as possible, avoid puking but also avoid cruising.

It's a point to point course starting in Waianiwa and ending in Invercargill. It looks like 133 people have entered. There's a net loss of about 50m elevation (practically nothing), and it looks flat to maybe some bumps; and perhaps either a mistake in plotting or a bitch of a spiky hill near the end? Course map and profile!

What this really means is ROAD TRIP!!!! My partner and I and our two dogs are driving down Friday night, camping, cruising around the Catlins, going for a wee hike and a swim on Saturday and then I'm racing Sunday.

I'm nervous as I haven't run a stand-alone run race in a while, but I'm also oddly excited because... well... it's racing, let's see how much I can increase the suffering per km run. Predict my time and whoever is closest wins... MY LOVE AND ADMIRATION!! I'm going to guess as well.