31 May 2013

Comrades - The Ultimate Human Race

If you've ever ran with me, you know I love the Comrades Race. I can't shut up about it. It is truly the greatest race I've ever taken part in....twice!
Me at the tail end of my 2012 Comrades Race

I have many friends that are right now descending upon the great city of Durban, South Africa in preparation for their own Ultimate Human Race at the 88th running of Comrades Race this weekend (2nd June 2013), so I thought it timely to at least honour their trip with a (relatively) short post about Comrades Race on my blog.

This race has a long history, far too much for me to disrespect here by trying to write it all in a short post! You can read all about it on the Comrades website here.
Ask ANY South African about Comrades, they will know exactly what you are talking about. The entire country gets behind this event, seriously, the course is lined constantly with supporters from start to finish. It is like the South African equivalent of our Aussie AFL Grand Final or the Super Bowl in the states.
Running through the Green Mile where Nedbank girls were suspended from the trees overhead, cheering us onward!

23 May 2013

Top Australian Running Blogs

So apparently, there are only ten Running Blogs in Australia and as a result mine has made the top ten!?
Over at RunStopShop, they have a competition going where you can vote on "Who is your favourite Australian Running Blogger?"
I think the winning blog gets a free meat pie and a pat on the back, or something similar...

click here to vote for one of the other blogs

I don't expect many results, someone else seems to clearly have the support of the Internet behind them... But I still thought it noteworthy to mention that I made such a list, which I find mildly astounding!

Personally on that list I'd recommend visiting Amy's blog "Thoroughly Nourished Life" and definitely head over to Jenelle's "Mummy loves to run"

While on the topic, some other blogs I think deserve a place moreso than mine include the awesome Kate at "RunWithKate" which is a really fun regular read, and the similarly awesome but much more spiritual Roz at "RunSisterRun"

Kate (Left) and Roz (Right)

Last but not least, the epic challenges ahead for Trent aka "Marathon Man" should place him miles above any other blogger! He's just tipped past 50 marathons for the year taking in races all over the world in his quest to get his name in the Guinness book of records!

So again, if you have the time, please head on over to the voting page and select my name from the bottom of their list! (or either Amy or Jenelle's blogs)

22 May 2013

Great Ocean Road Marathon 2013, 45km of gorgeous undulating roadrunning!

The Great Ocean Road Marathon ( aka GORM or GOR Marathon) is a 45km road race that runs from Lorne to Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria Australia. It's only two hours for me to drive from home to the start line for this, so it made sense that I entered it this year, finally!
It's a little too close to Comrades Race so I simply couldn't enter GORM any year prior.
source: visitvictoria

My race prep for GORM has been pretty relaxed, on the back of my run at Canberra (which I've finally blogged here) I took some easy weeks and have hit the gym a few times per week to do strength and flex work. Not many km's were in the legs since Canberra (as you can tell from my Endomondo profile!) but I have had a focus on quality workouts lately. Work has been hectic in the past few weeks/months and as a result my running and social media interaction have both dropped off significantly ;-)

Most of my fellow runners I've been training long with are all now deep in their taper program ready for comrades next month and my long standing training partner has been out of action with some serious ankle damage from Roller Coaster Run. As a result my training has been very much a solo affair. Add to that the fact I had a bucks party to attend on Saturday prior to the marathon - which involved a paint ball skirmish and a late night of drunken antics - you could think my preparation was terrible for this race! Thankfully the guys kept my marathon in mind and I was supplied with a slab of water so I was still able to partake in the bucks festivities!

The race day forecast was for 14c with 13kph head winds and a 25% chance of rain. Knowing what the weather could turn out like, I prepped for the cooler climate with a thick long sleeve shirt, gloves and a beanie! I had also planned to carry a light raincoat on my fuel belt, but as race start time neared I decided to gamble on the 25% and instead carried my phone and thus I was able to take some photos and even make a few phone calls along the way! Sorry I wasn't live tweeting but my data services were crap on the day :D

The course is awesome, enough said! Taking in the breathtaking views all along the waters edge whilst you run the 45km of sealed tourist roads as they repeatedly rise and fall all the way from Lorne to Apollo Bay.
visit the official page for more course info

My race

So I met a billion people at the start line again, always good to see them!
hanging out at the start line, mostly parkrunners, from left to right: Kai, Me, John, Crystal, Ruby and Phil

 My typical start line conversation often involves talking to someone about comrades, and this race was no different. I met a South African man named Alex with an English chap named Mark. We were talking (reminiscing) about last year's Comrades Race and Alex said he had "such a bad race" and only managed 7 hours..! Suffice to say when I said it took me 11.5 hours I felt like I was way out of my league!
Other runner-bloggers might call him, Mr Red Shirt, but I knew him as Alex the South African!

My race plan, knowing the undulation of the GOR, was to aim for approximately 5:45/km on the downhill and under 6:45/km on the uphill, hoping to average out to something under 6:15/km for the entire run.
I started the race off running with Kai yet again (we ran together at roller coaster earlier this year ) and we ran the first 10km in an hour exactly. When he realised we were on track for a 4h30m time for the whole race he was keen to hit that target!
Kylie taking in the views of the GOR Marathon

It wasn't long after that where we met some new friends on the course, in Kylie and Claire and at the same time my buddies from the start line had caught up (Alex and Mark). So we formed a pseudo 4h30m pace group. Around 20km into the race we were joined by the great Julia Thorn (author of 'Passion for Distance') who was running her 181st lifetime marathon/ultra!!
It's blurry but its cool, the 4:30 group!

She treated us to a few nuggets of wisdom and we discussed some of the races we had both completed previously whilst the rest of group just kept laughing at our craziness! We ran together until the drink stop at 30km when some of us walked through, Julia and Kylie just powered straight through and up the hill leaving us behind the pace by a minute or three.

So for the next 8km or so, Claire, Kai, and I started to count the kilometers more closely. Keep in mind this is Claire's first ever (ultra) marathon; her longest training run prior to this was only 34km. In some ways she was lucky to have me there, talking so much to distract her from the distance she had covered. ;-)
Unfortunately I also pointed out that this was the furthest she had run :-D

Some of the stuff we discussed was about focusing on how far there is left to the finish instead of looking at what's behind you. We had such a consistent pace, I reminded her that in the last 10km we will be passing many people as they fade while we kept the legs turning!
Apollo Bay is in sight for Claire and Kai

Kai was popping up next to us then dropping away, each time appeared to be calculated to make it into the frame with us for the next official photographer.

The three of us cruised our way to the marathon marker, ecstatic with her marathon time of around 4:21 Claire almost broke into a sprint! Most of the field around us at this point started to walk. Still feeling fine, coupled with a burst of adrenaline at the thought of being so close to the finish, I'm pretty sure we picked up the pace by almost 30 seconds per kilometre and started passing heaps of people!

Into the finishing straight, I spotted Julie and Phil (who finished an hour earlier) cheering us on, dished out a few quick hi fives, as we kept moving to the finish.

just a lovely run along the coast, all smiles :-D

Then two very loud and vocal supporters got my attention. Screaming my name and jumping all over the place, it was awesome to see the energetic and bubbly Tanya (@tanya_fed_marie) and Mel (@marathonmel78) who had travelled down from Melbourne just to cheer us runners on! So I stopped briefly and dealt out some salty sweaty hugs and kisses before taking off towards the finish line!

Annoyingly my right calf started cramping, so even though I really wanted to catch up with Kai and Claire, I didn't want to ruin my calf for this weekend at Barossa! So I cantered to the finish, done and dusted!
Kylie, Claire and myself with our finisher medals!

I assume the cramps were just a result of breaking my rhythm for some early hugs and celebrations, nothing more sinister, will see what happens at barossa this weekend!

Race Details
Website: http://www.greatoceanroadmarathon.com.au
Location: Lorne / Apollo Bay, VIC, Australia
Date: 18th-19th May 2013
Distances: 45km, 23km, 14km, 6km

General Race Stats
Total Runners in field: 981
Winning time: 2h 27m 50s

My Race Stats
Overall place: 624
Gun time: 4h 35m 28s
Net time: n/a
GPS details: 44.42km in 4h 33m 39s (link: Endomondo Stats)

Canberra Marathon 2013

This was my second ever Canberra Marathon, second in my Aussie Sweep Marathons for the year, and the third race in my #13in2013 series. I was looking forward to the event since late last year when I convinced a good friend of mine to run it as his first marathon. Sadly he bailed on that plan and turned up to support me instead! NEXT YEAR mate!
I just realised I didn't actually take ANY photos during our tweetups, so here I am looking stupid at the start line for Canberra Marathon instead. Check out Jenelle's blog post for a few pics from our tweetup!

I flew in to Canberra Saturday morning which gave me time to get some shopping in, find my friend's house, and get a short nap in before my social networking plans kicked into gear.
We had organised a runner tweetup lunch/afternoon tea at the War Memorial Cafe (aka The Terrace) and there I got to meet Ruth, Ewen, Jenelle (Blog: MummyLovesToRun Canberra Marathon), and Andy for late lunch. It was fantastic catching up with these people, putting some faces to the names and having a chance to ramble on about the many different aspects of running that would otherwise bore my usual friends!

The next thing on my agenda was another meet up with FB friends at Brodburger, which is a fantastic "little" burger caravan in Canberra. Simon, Dilwyn, Neil and his Wife (whose name escapes me) joined us for dinner in the chaos of shared tables and 'every man for himself' style seating arrangements. Simon is running the ANZAC sweep this year which is basically the same as me but includes the NZ north and south islands. Dilwyn is also doing the same thing, but at the Half-Marathon distance. So dinner was basically a case of the three of us comparing calendars, flight bookings and accommodation plans! Of course we enjoyed a good carb loading as well. The food, although it took quite a while to come out, was fantastic and well worth the wait! (that's a backwards recommendation)
After that I made my way home to load up on Berocca and get some sleep.