Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Sub 1:50 Man

With apologies to Uncle Dave, from whom I stole this post title.

The Bathurst Half Marathon. I'd only decided to run this race a fortnight ago as a hastily organised replacement for the SMH Half, which looks shaky at best. I'd been eyeing it off, but with Digger due five days before the race it seemed a stupid idea.

When Digger came two weeks early it seemed to become the perfct opportunity to run sub 1:50 before the combination of working and caring for a newborn takes it's toll on my training. I go back to work tomorrow.

So with the twins at their fathers this weekend and well rested from a good Friday night sleep we (DJ, Digger and I) set off for Bathurst on Saturday morning. We got as far as Penriff before I realised I'd left my shoes at home, so I left DJ at a friends' we were visiting and doubled back. After the delay we made it into Bathuurst at 6:00, but spent half an hour tracking down the proprietor of the dodgy hotel we had booked through Wotif, and retired to our room. After a long trip a shower was in order, but the hot water lasted about sixty seconds.

When the restaurant we went to mucked up my meal twice we were starting to wonder at the wisdom of the entire excursion. The best, however, was yet to come. When we got back to our hotel Digger went into a feeding, crying and defecating frenzy that lasted until the sun came up. I think DJ and I managed about two hours of sleep each.

So it was a little the worse for wear that we fronted up for the half. At least there was decent coffee available, so I got my flat white and socialised with various Coolrunners.

Soon enough the start gun went and we were off. I settled into a good pace early, running the first 2K in abou 5:05. I met Coolrunner Paul C (who I had not met before, but had organised to run with) soon after the start and Yurtie, who again, I had not met before. I stuck with Yurtie until about 4.5K, when I just pulled away a little bit. By the 5K mark I was averaging 5:05. I knew I'd have to keep the average under 5:12 to break the magic mark, and this was to be the measure I wasd using. Yurtie warned me that there were hills in the second half of the course, so I knew I needed time in the bank.

There was a turnaround at 5K, and I really noticed the headwind after the turnaround. By this stage I was running by myself, and managing to put seconds in the bank. I hit 10K in 51:28 and I knew I was on track. Soon afterwars I passed Nite_Time_Runner, and gave him a rev up about not being on 1:45 pace. He put on a spurt, and we ran the next few K together. To 12K I maintained the pace, but after that there were a few inclines, and I started to struggle. We went through the next couple of K at about 5:25, and I really started to doubt myself. I was still averaging 5:09 for the race, but I'd been here before and the wheels had always fallen off. NTR was struggling more than I and took a walk break whilst I battled on. I went through the next couple in 5:20, and with 6K to go my average pace was still at 5:10. I started to think that if I could hold it to 5:20s for the next three, and keep my average pace below 5:12, that I'd be able to bring it home on adrenaline.

At this stage I drew back level with Paul C, who I ran with for the next 2K. I actually outdid my target for the next 3, running them in 5:20, 5:08 and 5:07, and for the first time I thought to myself "Holy shit - I might be able to do this!".

I knew at this point that all that remained was to not do anything stupid, because I wasn't feeling too bad. I ran the next at 5:12, and slowed to 5:18 for the penultimate full K. I knew I had it in the bag, so I opened it up a bit and ran through to the end at about 5 minute pace. I spotted DJ just before I passed the finish line and threw both hands in the air after stopping my watch on 1:49:13, and in afaltering voice proclaimed "I did it!".

For the next hour I stumbled around the finishing area hugging my true love, chatting to friends and grinning like an idiot. The full gravity of two years of chasing sub 1:50 was sinking in. I have had seven unsuccessful campaigns at breaking this mark, and by that I mean seven two to three month programs designed to get me to the start line of a race. This was quite clearly my greatest achievement as a runner.

Tonight I write this post with my son asleep in my arm and my legs screaming in pain. From here I intend to train as I can manage it for the next month before I start getting serious about C2S. I will probably run the Gold Coast Half, but that depends on some things that are still in the air at the moment. One thing is for certain - training gets tougher to manage from here on.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Change of Plans

Thank you for all of your kind comments regarding John.

We got him home on the Thursday after he was born. He is settling in well at home, but unfortunately seems to sleep at night approximately as well as his parents (patchy at best).

I don't go back to work until after ANZAC day, and so far it's been a constant stream of visitors testing my skills as a barista as well as the expected crash course in caring for an infant, changing nappies, burping and sleep deprivation.

So far, would you believe, I've only missed one scheduled run - the one after John's birth. Since then, with all five of us at home it has been easy to schedule in the runs. I can see trouble looming when I get back to work. To maintain my regular program I'd have to run at the times I used to run - 5:00 - 5:30AM, and at that time in the morning I've been feeling like death warmed up.

Coincidentally, we have discovered a scheduling conflict. The girls have their confirmation booked on the morning of the SMH half. Neither DJ nor myself are religious, but the girls father is Catholic and they have had a mainly Catholic education.

So I'm in two minds about SMH. The girls don't seem that excited about the confirmation, and I don't think they'd be worried if I ran the race, but I still suspect they'd like me to be there.

So I've decided to shift the target race to next weekend and run the Bathurst Half. I've had my eye on it, but the timing looked appalling. With John coming at Easter it made the Bathurst Half the ideal race to have one more attempt at 1:50 before work interferes with my training.

Training which, by the way, is going quite well. Pat Carroll's program has been good so far. Despite some poor eating I'm still maintaining 75Kg, and I think the two hard sessions a week have been good for my speed. But the true test will be Sunday week. I read on Coolrunning "run a race soon after the birth of your child- I guarantee a PB". Time to test that theory.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Enter Digger

I had a great long run on Easter Sunday: a nice easy 23K around Newington and Homebush Bay.

On Monday we picked Em and Bop up from their father, and went and did some supermarket shopping where we ran into one of DJ's friends. She had a nice long whinge about how this baby was never coming.

We were sitting around that evening after putting the girls to bed. At nine oo'clock DJ says to me: "Ahh, Darling; My waters just broke." Contractions started immediately, five minutes apart. In the thirty minutes it took DJs mum and her best friend to get to our place we got our stuff together and rang the hospital. With my mother-in-laws words "Remember - it's still double demerits" still ringing in my ears we (DJ and best friend Sharon) were on the way to hospital.

It was a nervous drive to the hospital as DJ's contractions got more intense, but we made it and at 10:00 we were put in a delivery suite.

Now, at this stage I'd like to say how great it was to have Sharon (a mother of two) in the room. Throughout the intense labour process Sharon knew what to say and how to help whilst I offerred moral support, back rubs, massages and love. The next hour was just the most intense experience. Watching the person you love most in the world go through a level of pain that you will never understand is an experience I will never forget.

At 10:52 Digger entered this world. I was aware of mistaking genitals in the excitement, but I knew exactly what I was looking at - Digger is most definitely a boy. His vital statistics are: 3.165Kg (a smidgin under 7lb) and 48cm. His name is John Keith.

Both mother and son are doing very well. Blood sugar appears to be good for both of them. We are hoping to have our family of five at home together tomorrow morning.

The twins are smitten. Normally they have the attention span of a goldfish, but when I took them in for a visit to the hospital they were transfixed for six hours. When I got them up for breakfast this morning all they could talk about is getting their mum and brother home so that we could just have the whole family together.

So, I suppose I better show him to you. Here's a a few photos of father and son (with one of mum's nose and arm.) Check out the hair!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

First Week

So I've been on the new program for just over a week now.

The first week was dominated by a 10K Time Trial last Sunday. I tried to reorganise myself so I could run the Coolrunning 5K Challenge twice, but it didn't quite fit with my program or family, so I missed it and dragged out the bike on Saturday for the first time in ages.

Just between you and me, I rode past a four bedroom house over in Silverwater that DJ and I think would be a lovely place to raise three (and maybe another) kids. The vendor has accepted our offer, so if it doesn't fall over we'll move in a month or so after Digger is born, which could be any day now. It's close to Em and Bop's school and1K away from the Homebush Bay Bike paths (my training nirvana). Now we just have to pay for it...

Anyway, this is a running blog, so I'll tell you about some running. The Time Trial on Sunday was a debacle. I was still sore from the ride on Saturday, and I went out too fast. I got to 7K and I was feeling quite unwell, so I pulled the pin. I sort of wish that I'd found a race. I don't like to DNF, and that's what this was - a big, fat DID NOT FINISH.

To rub it in, the start of the next week on the program was two easy runs to recover from the Time Trial. The first one I did as per the program on Tuesday morning, but on Wednesday night I hooked up with Marlz, and did 11K at about 6:00m/km pace, which was a little quicker than I'd intended.

On Friday I had a great session. Two five minute efforts, with 1 minute standing recovery. I did these at about 4:30 pace, which is bloody fast for me. THEN, I did 8 30 second hill efforts, with a jog back down to recover after each effort. It came a quite a relief when it started pissing down with rain during the second effort - I was getting very hot.

With warm up and warm down it was 10K. I was spent by the end of it. Great session.

I've been a little bit naughty with food this week. There has been a lot of chocolate around the place at work and at home, and I've been eating too much cheese as well. Luckily it hasn't resulted in extra kilos yet, but they can't be far away.