Sunday, 19 April 2015

#citytrailmelbourne - My version of the 12k race

Are you someone who loves a wild and wet forecast, or does it make you want to snuggle in under the doona even deeper and hit ‘snooze?’ The weather gods had possibly dialled up hail, thunderstorms and a cold southerly wind – somewhere between 6 – 10 degrees Celsius.

I love a forecast like that and I beat the 0515 alarm up on Sunday and was up and about getting ready for the #citytrailmelbourne event held by Rapid Ascent. If you’ve been racing with me or just following the blog you’ll know how much I love the Rapid Ascent events. The vibe is awesome and they are happy races with happy runners, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming Salomon TrailRunning Series. But first I had a City Trail race to run. 

After a shower, I pulled on my new GHST top and the Elite MCS Compression tights by 2XU. I love the lightness of the GHST top and the orange stands out a mile away - and it also wears really well in the wet. There is no clinging or chaffing. That and the extra warmth and muscle engagement from the MCS tights should make for the perfect combination n the rain. I went through my core strength and leg strengthening and muscle engagement routine and then had a quick bite to eat before heading past Hannah’s house and into the city. It was great to have the company on the way in, as both of our families were going to stay home and hide from the weather. Hannah had had an amazing run at ‘Run the Rock’ yesterday and was backing it up with the 7km today. I was primed for the 12… The 12…

Arriving at Toms Block in Melbourne, we were both excited. #citytrail is a new concept and we had both been asked to run. The Melbourne event was to be the Australian first. The weather was ok, and we soon caught up with the AustralianRunning Convention team and my friends from the Dandenong Trails Runners. Even with the weather, there was a great vibe. About 0740 I hit the road for my warm ups, again I watched the HR flutter nearly straight up to 175 and hover there for a while before settling about 130.

Good times at the end, sorry no prerace piccies - Thanks Cheryl
By 0800 I’d made my way to the front of the starting line and was playing about with Cheryl and Ash. Right on 0800 the buzzer went and the field took off.
My plan for this race had been up and down like a yo-yo for the last couple of days – do I got all out at 170 BPM and higher or do I push it at a more comfortable rate of 165 BPM? As I settled into a rhythm a quick glance at the watch saw it at about 167- 170, perfect. I made my way up to about the top 20 of the field and found Lucy. A quick chat with her and a bit of a ‘what are you waiting for?’ from her and I made my way towards the front of the chase pack. I said g’day to Collette, the HIIT Mum but she was in the zone so I pushed forward a little more. About a k in we turned off the ‘Tan’ gravel track and onto the pavement down Anderson St. This was a nice little hill and we all picked up the pace a little.

At this stage I could just still see the pace bike in front and I was feeling really good. My HR was about 165, I was breathing just enough to be conscious of it without it being laboured. I was holding my position well, a little cat and mousing was happening but it was all in good fun. I was shadowing a couple of guys and a younger girl who would eventually win the u20 age group. We crossed the Yarra river and hit the first stairs and did a lap of AAMI Park – home to Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Storm and the Melbourne Rebels soccer and rugby union and league teams. From here it was back down the stairs, round the corner and were directed over the bridge. We crossed over the bridge again and passed the leading 7km runners before turning back towards the city.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****

We should never have crossed that bridge...

The lead pack were out of sight now and my group were running solo. We picked up the pace a little along the river trail before heading under the Swan St bridge. Little did we know that the arrows we were following should have pointed us over the bridge… We continued along the path towards the city where at some point we had the feeling that we were on the wrong track. The signs had gone and we were heading past the rowing clubs. We were about to turn and trace our steps when we picked up the red arrows and breathed a sigh of relief, although we had a sinking feeling that we were way off course. For the fact that our race was over, we were able to laugh and see the lighter side of it and had a bit of a laugh.

We ran through the gardens and back towards Toms Block and the Tan. We picked up the trail again and a Marshall sent us back up the stairs past the Myer Music Bowl and onto a track that lead us past the finish…. We kept on going and eventually made the decision to run towards the Swan St bridge again and as we did we picked up sight of a few of the runners. 

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Phew, was perhaps a kinder word of the words that was said as we crossed the bridge and picked up the back of the field. I got super excited when I saw Lucy, who I know is never far from the front even if this was just a cruise, and it turns out she had only just got directed back on course. This got me pumped and I picked up the pace again and gave it another crack. It couldn't hurt right. The HR jumped back to about 170 and I started to pick and weave again. I picked up Collette and said a quick hello and moved on.

From here we went through Birrarung Marr and over the cool William Barak
wooden bridge before the slight climb up and over the path that leads to the G. This path has some great inbuilt speakers playing local indigenous music and sharing their stories, well worth a stop if you have the time… not today.
Our trail was diverted over the skeleton tunnel (I call it that, it’s walkway bridge) to Rod Laver Arena and we were lead through the outdoor tennis courts, perhaps the wettest and my favourite part of the course. By now we had a lot more traffic with the 7km course joining through and you had to be a little more careful of more sedate runners. I heard a couple of ladies say that this was about half way, which I was really pleased to hear!

After our journey through the courts and more stairs, and then some more stairs around HISENSE Arena we retraced our steps past the G, over the bridges and briefly along the Yarra River behind Fed Square before crossing over the famed Flinders St (Princess St) bridge and through the gardens and back towards Toms Block again (Hey, I know this part really well now!). This time the pace was a little slower, but I dug deep and found that last little bit as a few of us once again played cat and mouse and surged and passed and was passed before surging again. Talking to a few of my fellow runners it seems that they had also ran more than what they thought they should have at this point. Some took it as course measures being off, others were a little more than a just a bit upset. They hadn't ran as far as me though… 
Down one last lot of stairs - Thanks Rapid Ascent
We once more hit the sloping steps up past the Music Bowl and Government House and as we rounded the corner I knew the last 500- 800m was easy. This time I opened the taps a little and flew home. Crossing the timer mat before hitting the last 100m stretch I gave it my all. Finally that bloody finish line was there to be crossed. No one could understand how we had almost passed it before, and apparently some people had actually been misdirected enough to have crossed it much earlier.

At the end of the run my time was 1:09:36, a cracking time for 15.9km. Yup, 15.9km on a 12k city course. I reckon that’s pretty fair going! I was also really happy with my gear choice. The Mizuno Ekiden gave great ground response and just a touch of spring in my step and the grip levels were spot on in the rain. The 2XU GHST top was perfect in the conditions and the Elite MCS tights were warm and gave me the confidence to push hard. Both dried exceptionally well in the rain as well.
Love Suunto stats
Talking to Ash who also did a couple of extra ks yet still won his division, and Cheryl, Josie, Collette and a few others our little adventure was not the only one. At the end of the day it was great fun. I was gunning for a sub 40 10k and perhaps had we stayed on course and the lead pack continued to be in sight it may have happened, but there’s always another day.

Out of courtesy I caught up with the team from Rapid Ascent and let them know what happened, more to give them feedback on what I found missing from the day and to let them know that for me there was no hard feelings, though I wasn’t sure that everyone was going to be so forgiving. To their credit they somehow adjusted the times of the runners that reported their issues on course and at the end of the day I come in at 55:43 and 13th overall, 10th male and 7th in my division. Going on my average time of 4:21 I reckon it could have been nearer 53:15 and 4th or 5th. But what will be will be. There’s always another race to be run!

And Hannah, she rocked the 7k course to take out in inaugural 7k woman's title!
Finally, for those following my HR strategy. My average HR was 166 over the 16k. I felt strong at this rate and I know it dipped a little when we were off course (Yes, you do lose heart when you know that the rest of the field are now quite a few kms ahead of you!). I picked up the pace again when we caught up, but while the 3rdand 2nd last kms were rather tough, the last km was great. The goal rate of 170 BPM is more like a 5-10k race pace, or the back half of a true 12km #citytrailmelbourne race when you still have a chance.

Cheers for now, Lachie

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Heart Rate Training - It's got my blood pumping!

   Why does 5:05 excite me? It excites me because it points to progress. It excites me because it is very achievable and it excites me because I have something new to chase. For a little background keep reading, to get to what I’m excited about skip to the heart…

   My last couple of posts have been about my training and how I’m using me Heart Rate to guide my training and racing to maximise my effort at a maintainable level. A couple of years ago I tried a similar strategy and I think I gained some good growth in my running with it, but I never persisted with it. I did improve my pace from initially over 6:00 min/k pace to 4:55 pace. Then I stopped. I’m not sure why, ego?  
   Now I have started again and it excites me. My early training – since Feb this year was purely by HR, and I had no indication of the pace I was running at. I targeted 145 Bpm as I had trained to this before and my reading suggested that this number is the ideal number for nearly all runners, regardless of ability. 

   There are many formulas you can use, I struck on this one due to a blog that I read. As with anything new, you always question it and a little research lead me to and Both blogs heavily support the 180 rule developed by Dr.Philip Maffetone  which is essentially 180Bpm – your age for your long run HR pace, or maximal aerobic capacity development. I've also posted on these pages and eagerly await some feedback on my training mix. 
   Since picking up the Suunto Ambit in early March I was only recording my HR. Now I can record my HR and then analyse the pace at the end of a run, and in more detail on the computer at home. My last three weekend long runs have been at the 145 Bpm average, but the varied terrain and incline made it difficult to gauge average pace. Close analyse of the data showed I was running at 5:45- 5:55 on the flats.

   Last Tuesday I did what I call a HR pyramid on a flat 700m section of the trail. This was to gauge my pace on the flat at set HR zone. Rep 1 was above 140 Bpm, rep 2 was above 150, rep 3 above 160, rep 4 was above 170 and rep 5 was to be a flat out HR max.  I could only hit 177 as the max and held it to make 2 x 350 intervals. What were the times I was doing?
  •  140-145 Bpm = 4:36 km pace
  •  155 – 160 = 4:32
  •  165 – 170 = 3:56
  •  170 – 175 = 3:37
  •  175+ was 3:18 pace
   This has been fairly consistent with my other training runs and 160 – 170 Bpm seems to be the ‘comfort zone’ where I can now push for a couple of km to finish the last 300-400m at the 180 redline and roughly 3:30 pace for a strong 5km finish. My recent Parkrun was very similar –I started at 160 Bpm and a roughly 4:30 pace and the last 1.5km was run at 170+ for a 3:35  final km.

Heart rate training
   Now why did today's run excite me? I was feeling a little full of cold before heading off to run, so the planned tempo hill run became and EZ run. It took about 800m for the HR to settle (a little longer than usual), it maxed at 179 then instantly settled at 138 Bpm. Yes, it was an extra EZ run and I enjoyed the 2-3% downhill for 3.5 of the 6.25 kms on the 30 minute out trip.To give an indication, when running this trail the gradient change is subtle, but when riding you go from coasting along to a constant pedal to keep moving. The exciting part is that my average pace was 5:04 and even hit 4:16 on the slightly downhill sections. On the return trip I allowed my HR to push to 143 average up the hill and the pace hit 5:13kms, with a peak of 4:16 on the true flat of the last 300m.

   The question is, is my two high intensity, 165 + interval or tempo sessions where I aim to build endurance at the high end going to complement the strength I'm developing at the low end?

   I’m hoping this is the tip of the iceberg, the breakthrough run where it all falls into place. If I can maintain this pace for the effort level at the Great Ocean Road half marathon I will smash last years’ time out of the water.

  My 12km #citytrail run Sunday the 19th will be another experiment - can I mainitain that magic 160 Bpm for 8 km, and then finish strong at 170 Bpm for the last 4km? It will be a physiological and psychological challenge but one I am very much looking forward to!

   I'll let you know!