Doing a double

The rules of running a good marathon are pretty clear. Train consistently for a long period of time, gradually increasing your intensity and distance before tapering off for the final two or three weeks. Don’t try anything new on marathon day.

Yesterday I ran the Dunedin marathon, my 20-somethingth marathon – I really have no idea how many I have done.

I was blase about the whole thing, treating it more as a supported training run preparing me for a bigger goal, back to back marathon distances I am running in February as part of the High 50 Challenge, a fundraiser for the Mental Health Foundation.

The final three weeks leading up to yesterday, normally the taper, I ate crap and logged weekly distance of 100k, 100k, and 80k. My final run was a 15k beach rub at tempo pace on Wednesday.

Oh and a hilly 10k road race in which I logged a PB on Saturday.

What??

This was my plan. To run the two events back-to-back but not worry about the time. I wore my Garmin but taped the screen. I could hear the kilometres tick over but not see the time. If I looked I would see average pace but my plan was to run by feel.

Governor’s Bay to Lyttelton is a handicapped race. I was setting off 21 minutes after the slowest and 10 minutes ahead of the young gun men. I felt good and probably ran at an intensity of about 70%. I couldn’t believe it when the results were published and I was 10seconds faster than last year. For some reason I consistently set my 10k PB on this challenging hilly course.

My running buddy and I “iced” our legs in the sea for a few minutes, donned compression tights and drove back through the tunnel to pick up another runner. Then it was a five hour drive to Dunedin.

We arrived at our motel, blobbed a bit and walked into the city centre to a nice Italian for a pasta feed. This place had gluten free pasta as an option with all dishes. It was delicious.

We all piled into the one bed in the lounge to watch the All Blacks just beat the Spring Boks and then it was bed time. I had an early start having to be away from the motel by 6:30. Mike and Rodger were only running the half.

It seemed a long night. I don’t sleep well before or after a marathon.

After the usual breakfast of toast, peanut butter and banana plus two cups of coffee Rodger drove me to the start. His achilles was playing up, tweaked the previous day. He didn’t think he would be a starter. It was a stunning morning. Cloudy with the rising sun lighting the cloud and glassy sea. The harbour drive was picturesque. I was looking forward to a scenic run and quite relaxed about the journey ahead.

We kept driving. It was a long way. Finally we found a parked car or two and a row of portaloos. This was the start. Quite an understatement really. Rodger abandoned me. The cloud had dropped. The sun has vanished and it was drizzling. What view!

I made friends with a man and his mum who had ab empty back seat. Three buses arrived and disgorged the other runners. People had a lot of clothes. I had left my gloves in the motel, had not thought about a thermal layer or arm warmers, but did had a sexy black plastic bag to keep me dry-ish.

But eventually it was time to line up. I took my plastic bag off and joined the other 194 people. A man said go and we were off.

I still had tape on my watch. I was to run again by feel. Obviously i was feeling good going through the first 2k in just on 10minutes. Someone was calling time. We settled into a rhythm. I was with a group of about six. I tucked in behind them. It was drizzling quite steadily but there was no wind to speak of and my hands soon warmed up.

At 5k time was called again, 24 minutes something. I still felt good. I stayed with my bunch. We were running in our own zones. Everyone was quiet, you barely heard breathing except for a stocky young man who was lumbering along. I had met his friend in the toilet queue and knew they were uni students in their final year and this was their first marathon.

We had a few hills. At 10k I took my first gu. My time was 49 minutes something. And we hit the head wind. The dizzle changed to light rain. It got hard. Our group was still running together. We heard that our uni student was called Bruno as he had supporters on the course.

We were also picking off other runners. One by one reeling them in and cruising past.

It is a long way up that harbour. The wind was relentless. I felt ok but wondered how long I could keep a sub-5 minute pace. Soon it was just Bruno and me running together. I have to admit that I photo bombed most of the photos his supporters took of him!

Half way and time was called again 1:44:06. I had my second gu at 20k. At 26k we finally turned around the head of the harbour. Having the wind at our back was a huge boost.

At 28k we joined up with the half marathon runners. Psychologically this is inspiring as we passed so many. Round some industrial areas and then along a cycle-walkway up the other side of the harbour. My third and final gu was at 30k.

I was tired now. But the end was in sight, literally and figuratively. Every so often I caught a glimpse of the cranes at Port Chalmers, my destination.

I dropped Bruno here. He did really well for a first marathon, finally finishing 5minutes behind me.

I knew I had a final hill to climb. It never seemed to come. And there it was. Short, sharp and steep. I put my head down and just got over it!

Less than 2k to go. One final rise. Someone sprinted past me – it was the first person to pass me since about the 5k mark. I had nothing left. Down the hill round the corner and where the hell is the finish line.

Another person sprinted past. Whatever. I could see the line. I crossed it. 3:28:38. One minute off a PB. I was spent.

Another soak of the legs in the sea. A shower. Compression tights and lunch – mince on toast and a pint of cider!

We spent the afternoon at the Sports Museum and then went to prize giving. I was fourth woman overall. Third in the masters category and first over 50.

I won a massive bag of chocolate (it is the Cadbury Dunedin Marathon), a bag of sports gear/clothing and a cheque for $200. Best. Haul. Ever.

Then another five hour trip home.

It was a great weekend. I can’t believe I pulled off two awesome back to back runs. I am tired today. My feet ache – racing flats do that. But I am not very stiff at all. The soaking in cold sea and compression tights does make a difference. My club buddies did well too. Iain, Mike and Dave all finished the half. Rodger was a DNS with his achilles and Dave’s son Liam pulled out at about 18k. It is fun to spend a weekend with likeminded people.

Next up is the Greta Valley relay this weekend. It doesn’t stop.

PS I am running in the High-50 challenge to raise money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation. Please support me by donating here.

Keep calm and run a marathon.

Murphy has a lot to answer to. His law seemed to prevail this past week. If it could go wrong, then it would.

There was the last minute accommodation kerfuffle, which finally got sorted to everyone’s satisfaction. There was the realisation that I had neglected to book a flight with bag and my suitcase was slightly too big for cabin baggage. I bluffed my way through that one. There was Signor Grumpy who refused to allow me to order a full sized meal of pumpkin risotto even though it was offered as a side. Consequently I was a little hungry going to bed the night before a marathon.

There was losing everyone in the crowds 10 minutes before the start and still carrying my gear bag. I finally found Rodger in the starting chute and he ran forward with my bag to give to his wife.

It was now less than five minutes to the start. Time to take some deep breaths. Focus. Five months of training was about to tested.

Someone began to sing the waiata, and then the rest if the kapa haka group joined in. Straight into the haka. The countdown. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. BOOM!!! The cannon blasts. We were off.

The running of the 50th Rotorua marathon. A marathon chosen because this is my 50th birthday month(ish).

My goal was to head out at 5:05 pace, hold it steady through the hills which were fairly steady from 5k with a big saddled climb between 20 and 25k, and then one last long climb at 30k.

I checked my Garmin. It just didn’t look right. Shit. The last time I had worn it I had been on my bike and it was still set in bike mode. I couldn’t remember how to change it. Dammit. Damn that bloody Murphy. I would have to run with it registering average speed in kilometres rather than pace. Oh well.

First k done, I felt really comfortable but the pace (which flashes with every k in tiny little writing) was 4:52. Too fast. I tried to slow down, but literally couldn’t. The next 10k were pretty much all bang bang bang around the 4:50 mark. I felt really easy.

It was tough running though, through the suburbs and then alongside the main highway out of Rotorua to Hamilton and Auckland. There was a lot of traffic, and noise.

We had driven the route yesterday so I knew vaguely what lay ahead. A lot of hills barely noticeable in the Holden but big climbs on foot. I am strong on hills and have the experience now to keep a steady pace on both sides. First 5k done in 24 minutes. Seems slow for a 5k but not in a marathon.

I first ran Rotorua in 2008. It was only my second marathon and I was pushing for 3:50 which would have been a Boston qualifier in those days. I went out too fast, burned on the hills, and suffered through the final 18 kilometres into a headwind, for a time of 3:55. No Boston for me that time.

So I knew Rotorua was a tough taskmaster. As we had discussed the previous night, it used to be called the Rotorua Challenge!

With all the snafu over my gear bag I had not managed a final pit stop. My gut had been iffy for the previous 36 hours and you’d think would have had nothing left. With all my blood going to the muscles, luckily it seemed to forget it had wanted a final visit to the poop deck. (I have been reading about Captn James Cook who mapped NZ in the Endeavour). My bladder was on temporary hold.

This race had big numbers for a NZ marathon. I was not running alone. In fact I was tripping over people, especially at drink stations. At one stage I flung my arm out to give a thumbs up to a bagpiper and nearly took someone’s eye out. He was trying to pass on my inside. Whoops.

My running club had six people running in our distinctive royal blue singlet with bright orange horizontal stripe. It clearly states Christchurch Avon Athletic Club, front and back. It was great. So many people cheered me on, “Go Christchurch”. A lot of NZ feel sorry for what we are living with, and many if them have not actually spoken to someone who has lived through the earthquakes and flooding. It was very warming.

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My bib also had my name on it. So I got a lot of “Go Robyns.” That really helps. Everyone got a thumbs up. The volunteers on the drinks station all got thanked.

We are leaving suburbia, and running closer to the lake. Rotorua is the centre of the geothermal region. There is an ever present smell of rotten eggs. And little pockets of steam just vent out of the ground, anywhere and everywhere. Boiling mud. Spouting geysers. It is surrounded by volcanoes, long since extinct, but not so far south there are still Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngarahoe. I was going to be mightily pissed if volcanic activity ruined this weekend!

10k done in 48 minutes.

A couple of dudes caught me. They had bunches of blue helium balloons. They were the 3:30pacers. I was still worried about my pacing, feeling it was too fast, so I planned to stick with them. My AA goal was sub3:30 but I really thought that was a fantasy considering the hilliness and my PB is 3:27. So my more realistic A goal was 3:32 but I expected to run 3:36, and would be happy with under 3:40.

I hadn’t set split times to meet. This was was going to be run by feel/effort. Because it was also the NZ marathon champs I knew there were some big names. And because it is located centrally to the biggest population bases, more people would attend. Not so many North Islanders bother to travel when the champs are in the South Island.

These pacing guys were running steadily, but I felt they were running a little fast for a 3:30 finish. Still I kept up with them through the big hills. They were big hills. Climbing for about 2k, traversing a saddle for just under a k, up again and then a long steep descent. I knew this is where you could trash your legs for the long run home. The balloons got ahead of me a bit. But I thought if they got home in 3:30 and I could still see them, then I would hit my 3:32.

Through the half way mark at 1:44. My Garmin was running between 200 and 300m ahead of the k markers, but there was a clock at halfway.

We hit the turn for home just short of 25k. Six years ago this is where some bastard tied a parachute filled with bricks onto my waist and I struggled to tow them home. This time I was tired but focussed. My average speed was 12.5k. That used to be my top interval speed on the treadmill! Oh how I have learned so much.

Other people seemed to have attracted the load of bricks. There were a lot of people walking now. We started another big long climb. I thought I could see another blue and orange singlet ahead of me. I pushed a bit harder and closed the gap. Sure enough it was Rodger, struggling. He has been dealing with an ongoing hamstring-glute injury and trying to fix it with wacky-doodle treatments. He was aiming for a 3:10 finish, even though it was obvious he was never going to do it. I always wondered if I would beat him this weekend. In the end he pulled out at the 30k mark. Sorry Rodger. With true Kiwi love and support he has been the butt (pun intended) of all our jokes since. The best being that it was the start of the duck shooting season, and Rodger bagged the biggest duck (a cricket term which means you are out for no runs).

That bloody headwind was back again. It was tough, mentally and physically. I felt like I was making no progress, whereas I was still running about 5:13 pace. My maths head was tired and I was doing crazy calculations. I wanted to walk. I wanted to stop. I wanted to be there. My toe hurt – there was a blister eruption growing. Must obey the rules and not wear new shoes!

But the ks kept ticking off. I kept battling the wind. I kept pushing it harder than I wanted to. The road is interminably straight. I have been passing people but still being passed by others. There are the half marathon walkers taking up space. And the next day driving it in reverse to the airport, we noticed what a steady climb it had been.

Somewhere we veer off but where was it. The ks are still ticking over. Down to 10 and then nine. Past the airport. Eight. Seven. Here’s the turnoff. This is shorter than around Hagley Park. There’s the finish over there.

Six. Five. Four. I ran four in 17mins last week. I have 23 minutes to run four this week and still break 3:30! Three. Pak’n’Save must be here soon. That is the final turn to home.

Two kilometres. Twelve minutes left.

One kilometre. And Pak’n’Save. The crowd goes wild. The support is incredible. The previous night we had secretly texted our estimated finish time to Andrea. The closest to their time would win. My text was simple. “3:32. Fuck!” But I knew that the others would have finished and they would be waiting for me.

We turn and run under the arches and down the river to the Rotorua Museum, a big grand old Victorian building. I cross a timing mat. People are yelling my name. My team mates. I sprint (or what counts as a sprint at the end of a gruelling 42k) past Mr Orange guy, aiming to get a gun time of under 3:30. It was 3:29:23. Net time 3:29:04.

Someone put a medal around my neck. Someone else stopped me and took my photo. I grabbed two bottles of Powerade and wandered out.

Andrew RJ and Richard found me. Congratulated me. Hugged me. There was Rodger. More hugs. And John. Another hug. I told them I needed to lie down, pass out, throw up or crap myself. Getting mixed messages from my body.

We met up with the wives and walked back to the hotel, a mere 500m away. Planned to reconvene for a soak in the mineral hot pools at 2:30pm.

I showered. And nibbled. And tried to sleep. But couldn’t. Eventually I wandered into town for some food. Macaroni cheese – yum, yum. Runners were still streaming in. We met up and went to the pools. It was really lovely sitting soaking the body in hot water, overlooking a steaming lake, birds flying. I don’t cope with the heat so I sat on the side and just soaked my legs. Had a bit of a swim in one pool. It was so lovely. The pools were filled with runners. There was a lot of sharing of war stories.

We went back to the hotel, met at the bar for a celebratory drink and walked back to the prize giving. I had found out by then that I had come fourth in my age group. Better than I expected. John had also come fourth with a time of 3:03. Rodger was a DNF. Richard had returned from the Paris marathon followed by four weeks in Europe. He was just behind John, considerably slower than his usual 2:50mark, but undertrained, overtired, and carrying a flight cold and a hip injury. Andrew ran 2:53. He found it tough too.

We went down to the prize giving. I was astounded to find that in the NZ Marathon Champs I had come second, John picked up a bronze medal.

What a wow. It really was a tough marathon. It was probably also the first marathon I really battled. Usually I get two weeks out and give up on my goals. Or sandbag. Or sabotage myself. But this time I just kept pushing and needling away. One more k. Just keep going. Run your own race. You are doing great.

Today I am tired. I never sleep well after a marathon. My toe hurts from my blister. My butt hurts from powering up those hills. I am hungry – need to find breakfast! But I am not terribly stiff at all.

And I am justifiably pleased with myself. Considering I have only five weeks left in this age group, I am still kicking some serious butt!

So every though the final days were fraught with obstacles, I overcame them and kept on kept calm(ish).

Winning is everything!

My feet ache. My legs twitch. My belly demands feeding, again, as I look at the empty bowl next to me. My butt feels tight as, or should I say tight ass! And my arms are tired. How can my arms be tired?

This morning I ran 30 odd kilometres, 22 of those being part of a race. The Sri Chinmoy Waimairi Beach challenge. I was aiming to run at tempo, come in the top three women. And tack on an extra eight to fulfil my Jantastic long run. I had raced a pretty speedy off road 4k yesterday.

I woke early. It is a big day today. Later this afternoon we have the “grandparents” coming for afternoon tea. At 6am I got up and made scones, and mashed eggs ready for sandwiches. By 7am I was in the car heading east to Waimairi beach.

It was very dark. And a thick sea fog covered the slumbering city. This was good. This meant no easterly wind.

I warmed up with a 2k jog along the track, and then my routine of lunges, leg swings, hacky sacks, single skips. It works for me. I registered. Checked out the entry list. Very few women. No names I recognised.

I talked to one younger woman. This was her longest run. Ever. Sweet. Crossed her off of my list of threats. Then this uber fit skinny bitch bounced up. All muscle and speed. Top three, Robyn. I had already discarded any momentary thought that this was not a race. It was on.

It is the usual practice at Sri Chinmoy races to have a moment of reflection. I used this moment to rub my hands up and down my thighs, to feel the muscle bound by compression shorts, to focus on their strength. My mantra today would be strong. Vajin sounded the hooter and we were racing.

It was still. It was foggy. There was no colour. Grey sand. Grey cloud. Grey sea.

A wee dot of a thing headed to the front of the women. She was wearing a lot of colour – bright blue shorts and a red cotton Sri Chinmoy tee shirt. She was determined to stay ahead of me. I was sitting on her shoulder. When I went ahead a bit she sped up to catch me and stay just ahead. This went on for 2k. I was thinking, dumb move. My legs must be eight inches longer than yours, you are breathing heavily wasting all this mental and physical energy surging. I am a nasty mean cat toying with a weak mouse.

To my left I see the skinny bitch, all in blue bound alongside me. Wee dot pulled right back. I think she realised she was up against the big guns. Skinny bitch and I ran side by side for about 3k. The tide was out and there was a wide expanse of hard, fast sand. And pure luxury, no easterly headwind.

I could tell Skinny was determined. But so was I. Was I prepared to battle this out for 17 more kilometres, she was breathing heavier than I was but I was being made to work.

The beach calms me. I love the waves and I am sure the positive ionic energy created by the breaking water breathes new life into me. I thought of my mother. Part of my therapy to deal with depression involved me coming to the beach and having an out loud conversation with my mother. Yeah, I felt like an idiot but I found it helpful.

Today I heard the gentle ching ching of the two stone hearts my mother gave me as they tapped together. I focussed on mum. Come on, it is your time to help me. I changed my mantra to “give me wings, and make me fly.”

And fly I did. I subconsciously kicked it up a gear. Very soon Skinny was behind me. I felt strong. I was tearing north along that beach.

Ahead of me I could see just one other runner, a black silhouette. I knew he was third male. I was fourth overall, and now leading woman. I felt strong. I felt invincible. By golly, I must be Helen Reddy!

My pace was pretty steady half marathon pace, 4:35ish. Everything felt good. My Garmin was burring kilometre markings frequently. It seemed like no time until I could see more disturbed sea as the great Waimakariri river, which has come from deep in the mountains, meets the Pacific Ocean.

Cones marked our change of direction. And also change of surface. Farewell hard flat and fast sand. Hello marshmallow. Instantly we were on a rough beach track. The sand was incredibly dry and soft. My legs which for the previous 55 minutes had been pounding out speedy ks suddenly had the brakes slammed on. Every foot placement slid or sunk. It was hard. And slow. My pace dropped to about 5:40 but my effortometre was heading to a high nine out of 10. I knew we had a good five to seven ks of this. I dreaded being caught by someone else. Oh the horror if Skinny chased me down. I kept pushing through the thickness.

With relentless forward progress you do eventually reach your destination, or at least a marker in the journey. As we neared Spencer Park more people-traffic had hardened the track. And coming out of Spencer Park I know the track well. There are five little dune climbs, but the rest is hard and fast multi-use track. Which meant, of course, that there were mountain bikers, and men with dogs, and baby buggies the size of a small RV, and couples taking their Sunday constitutional. I was still asking for wings. I had picked up speed. I was flying again. My final kilometres were at 4:30 pace.

There were the flags. There was the finish line. If there is one thing I do, it is a strong sprint finish. I crossed that line, 1:47:05 after I had started. I don’t know the exact mileage, but it was pretty close to 22k, either up or down. I kept my Garmin running and went for a slow jog cool down to get my final kilometres in for Jantastic.

There might not have been many people in this event, maybe 40. There were only five or six women. But I gave it everything I had. I won it fair and square. More than the medal, though, I won the feeling that the training is going well. I feel confident heading into Rotorua in just under five weeks.

I ache, but it was worth it.

Beach runner photo

My final Jantastic score was 99.6%
Skinny finished about five minutes behind me.
Wee Dot came in about 2:15

Running up ?

I have been in Motueka for the weekend to run the Kaiteriteri Gold Half Marathon on Saturday. It was a tune up race in my training for the Rotorua full marathon in May. I usually do well in races organised by Nelson Events. This time I assumed I would too.

And I did. Theoretically. With a time of 1:42:33 I was the 28th runner home out of 127 entrants. Fifth woman overall. Second in my age group. I should be chuffed but I am not. I am accepting.

I had had ideas of blowing my PB (1:35:15) out of the water. The night before heading north I had gone online and with a race time calculator I had prepared split times for a predicted race finish of 1:32. I don’t know why I felt so confident. I had been skipping speed sessions and feeling lacklustre for weeks. Most runs began with me wondering if I would ever feel fast and strong again.

But I was cocky. Cocky and I have history. I usually come out worse when we get together. I am much better at sandbagging, of breaking my own tall poppy stem.

I had checked out the elevation profile and I was only expecting one decent sized one. But driving along the course to the start, up and over plenty of hills, I discarded any thoughts of a PB! I didn’t even bother to look at my possible split times.

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One thing which had concerned me was that I had eaten Thai the previous night. All I had wanted was a nice risotto but there are not many choices in Motueka, especially for fussy gluten free runners. I had hoped Pad Thai with tofu would do. It didn’t. Upset the tummy and related organs in the lower torso big time.

The event was a typical Nelson Events production. Very well organised in beautiful surroundings. The start was outside a major holiday park and competitors were able to use toilet facilities (and showers afterwards). I was grateful for both of those. Ideal weather conditions ideal with no wind, light cloud and comfortable temperature. Literally the calm before the storm as Tropical Cyclone Lusi was still making her way down the North Island.

I arrived with plenty of time to register. Warm-up was good. The two kilometre easy jog rid my muscles of the usual lethargy. People were relaxed and social. It was a friendly atmosphere.

I checked out the competition. I saw a young girl (early 20s) who had looking into our running club but found us wanting. I needed to beat her! There were a lot of speedy and skinny looking women. (I do not think of myself as either. Even though I know people possibly look at me and think similar thoughts.)

I set off strong and slightly more aggressive than I typically do. We were straight into a hilly section and by the third kilometre I have passed the young girl. I figured I was about sixth woman. When I pass someone early I am always afraid of a late race fade which allows everyone to catch and pass me back. As I powered past a couple of burly looking older men I heard one comment, “she could use some of my weight.”

Strong up the big hill out of Riwaka, I passed another female. Coming down the other side I could hear a light footed runner catching me. I was worried it was her, it was not. But it did make me lean forward and run with gravity on my side. I really flew down the other side. I also knew my quads would not be happy on Sunday.

Into the flat, up towards Marahau and a turn around. I could count the leaders as they passed back. I was fifth woman . But young chicky babe had caught me a little. Bugger. This meant I could not slack off.

There were seven kilometres left to run, and most of them were hills. Just one kilometre at a time. Onwards and upwards. I knew they were long. I thought I had three peaks. So I was pleasantly surprised to realise I had run out of distance and was heading doen. Round the final corner and there were the golden sands of thr finish beach.

The last 500m were tough. Coming off those hills and trying to find a speedy sprint finish. I felt like I was Lee Major without the speed. And who had the bright idea to put the finish on the beach making us run across soft sand.

I finished. I stood in the sea for about five minutes. I had the best massage on my legs ever, lying in an open sided tent with the waves providing the ambient soundtrack. Then I showered and wore compression tights for the rest of the day. Today (Sunday) I am reminded of the downhills but not unbearably so.

Looking at my Garmin I ran a negative split which is highly desirable. The first 10k was 49 minutes. The next 10k was 48 minutes. Average race pace is faster than optimum marathon pace for Rotorua which considering all the hills is confidence boosting.

Now I am home again. The rain is still falling but there is no wind. My club mates have stalked my results and are checking I am happy. No. But I accept that yesterday I left nothing on the course. 1:42 was the best I had. Second place was all I deserved. The woman who beat me for first place did so convincingly. By the time I crossed the line she had showered, changed, boiled the jug and made the scones. Well, not quite – it was only six minutes! It just feels like an eternity.

“A runners creed: I will win; if I cannot win, I shall be second; if I cannot be second, I shall be third; if I cannot place at all, I shall still do my best.”

Ken Doherty

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” Marilyn vos Savant

“Always enjoy yourself. Don’t be upset if you don’t win, you’ve won by simply not giving up.Unknown

Nailing a workout

Speedwork. It pops up on my training plan all the time. I dread the sessions and make all sorts of excuses to get out of them. If I manage to convince my body that it is going to happen, my Garmin will be flat. Or set wrong. Or the track is crowded. Or wet. Or I stuff it up and only do half of the required repeats.

For the number of speed sessions I have not done, I am surprised I run as well as I do.

Once a month I am supposed to do 5 x 1k repeats. I was given this back in November. I have done it once and not completely. My excuse that day was I had run 35k the previous day and hadn’t known I would be running 1k repeats until I turned up for a club run.

Through November my excuse was too much high mileage, no energy (mental or physical) left for speedwork. I would focus on it in the New Year.

Once a week. Speed sessions.

My coach wants me to do any one of three sessions once a week – the 1k repeats, 3 x 6 steep hill sprints, or 8-12 x 400m.

Today I attempted the 1k repeats.

I drove to Hagley Park and parked on Hagley Ave near the Carlton bridge. I turned my Garmin on and jogged to the “start”. My Garmin was having issues finding the satellite. I warmed up with my usual routine. Garmin still not loaded. I turned it off and on again. This time no worries.

I set off on the first 1k. Fast and strong. Thighs were high, arms like pistons, hands like blades. I was Usain Bolt – not a white woman twice his age! My mantra was focus. Fo-o-o-cus. Four strides, one breath. There was a headwind on the final straight.

I walked back to the start.

And again. Focus. Focus. Focus. It is really easy to get distracted. Focus. Focus. The last 100m were tough. Okay two down. Three to go.

I had told people I was doing this workout. A friend. My boss. By now I had worked out I wanted to blog about it. I was going to finish the whole session. Or look really stupid.

Back to the start.

This time I changed my mantra to the time I wanted to see on my Garmin. 3:55. 3:55. Focus. 3:55. I rounded the corner for the last straight – I was running two sides of a triangle – it was getting harder, that wind was strong but I was stronger and kept going to the end.

Walked back to the start. Over halfway now. Only eight more minutes of suffering.

Round four. 3:55. 3:55. Focus. Don’t think about the swim session coming next, or getting Robert to mow his grandmother’s lawn before the rain. The last straight. And the headwind was tough but Mt Hagley – that was even tougher. For those who don’t know, Hagley Park is in the centre of Christchurch which is flat. But there are little undulations in the ground which are barely noticeable unless you are running 5 x 1k repeats when all of a sudden you wish there was a chair lift to get you to the summit. I summitted. Knocked the bastard off!

One more to go. I can do this. Legs are still high and strong. Arms are still pumping piston.s Hands slicing the air like a Ninja warrior. I am focussed on my mantra. 3:55. 3:55. 3:55. I am passing people walking in the park who I have maybe passed once or twice before today. I don’t care if this looks strange. Last straight and this speed session will be logged.

I finish. What a great feeling. I check my Garmin. Damn. What I thought was 1k was only 940m. But the splits were 3:52 (4:08), 3:47 (4:01), 3:51 (4:05), 3:46 (4:00), 3:47 (4:04). The times in brackets are adjusted for 1k.

Coach Simon wants me to hit the 4min k mark. I am pleased with me effort – there is good consistency across the five splits and no fade at the end.

Yep, I nailed that work out.

And I feel confident having done it that i can now complete other speed sessions. Yes, they suck at the time but the feeling of accomplishment lasts so much longer than the period of discomfort.

For running geeks:
I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT
I log my training with Training Peaks because that is the system my coach uses.
I am coached by Simon Huntly at Complete Performance.

Oh yeah, then I had to go and swim some crazy drills in the pool! But that workout too, was nailed!