Friday, 30 September 2011


I have a confession to make! I applied to Boston 2012 and didnt tell anyone. Not sure why i kept it too myself, I guess incase I got rejected so I could slink off quietly.

In Munster I ran a BQ-5 qualifying time, Whilst Boston had allways been at the back of my head, I didnt realise that Münster could also be used as a qualifying race until Henning a friend from DM mentioned that he was using it to run a BQ time. Id originally planned to try and BQ in Spring 2012 at the Düsseldorf Marathon.

Ive also been planning to fly home to New Zealand sometime soon, so with a little prod from Ryan i investigated the possibility of combining the two... The plane ticket to come back via the US isnt significantly more expensive than returning over Asia... so on the spur of the moment i submitted my application.

Dear Paul:

Please make note of your Submission ID #: 2011960.

Thank you for submitting an entry to the 116th B.A.A. Boston Marathon. It is important to note that your Submission ID does NOT constitute entry into the race, but confirms that your entry has been received by the B.A.A.

September 16th

With a BQ-5 I was able to apply on the 16th. On the 19th i was happy to hear Henning had also submitted his application.

Then its a game of wait and see. I was under the impression that the last block the normal BQ times was still a first come first served system like the previous year. Unfortunately I heard via DailyMile that it wasnt, that this year the set a cutoff time of 1:14 faster than the base BQ time in each age class. Which means that Henning recieved a rejection email.... I was also sad to hear another great runner friend from DM Javier also recieved a rejection email, he missed the cutoff by 1 second. That really has to hurt.

I received a conditional acceptance, The BAA registration office needed a copy of my race certificate from Münster, with a translation of the details on it so that they could verify the qualifying details id submitted.

Dear Paul,

Thank you for submitting your application for entry into the 2012 Boston Marathon.

Upon verification of the qualifying time you submitted from an international race your application will be approved for acceptance.

September 23rd

So I emailed them the pdf certificate you can download from the Münster Marathon web site and my translation of what was on there. I still wasnt sure i was in, would they accept the Münster Marathon as a valid qualifying race? This morning my doubts have been laid to rest.

Dear Paul A. Henry,

This is to notify you that your entry into the 116th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, 2012 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.

A Confirmation of Acceptance card will be mailed to you via US Postal Service mail in October.

September 30th

So it appear that i need to start organising my travel and accomodation plans.

I have to admit that i do feel really bad for the guys I know that applied and got rejected, It would have been really great to have caught up with them either prior or post race to chew the fat and tell tall stories about our running deeds. But i know that both Javier and Henning easily have BQ-10's in them and that if they want it they will be able to qualify in the coming years, tighter qualifying times or not.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Hammer Stadtlauf 10k

Given the start line for this race is about 30m from my appartment i dont think you can get much more local. It would be unforgivable to not enter.

The Hammer Stadtlauf is another of these great City runs where it is as much about the childrens races as it is for the adults. In Hamm they have a special program where primary school kids start running and collect 40km ... and then run the final 2k of their 'Kids Marathon' at the City Run. Its a great idea, and good to see that kids of all abilities were giving it a go.

My day started off with me watching the Berlin Marathon, and Pattrick Makau setting a new WR, The conditions in the mornign were absolutely perfect for running, but as the slower 3/4 of the berlin marathon field will atest the afternoon was a bit too warm and the sun was pretty hot for an early autumn day.

I had my hopes set on breaking the 40 min barrier for the 10k, and tried to convince myself that the sun would be lower by 16:00 and that there would be more shadow and it wouldnt be so warm. I helped out as an impromptu race volunteer for the 5k race and the first couple of childrens races, before heading home to have a cooling shower and change into my race gear.

I did a 10 min warmup, and then headed back to the appartment for a drink and to put a bag of frozen peas on my neck. Even in the warm up it was clear the 25°c temperatures would make for an uncomfortably warm race... still i tried to remain optomistic. A couple of minutes before the start i headed down to the start line and found myself a place in the second row. Took a few deep breaths and wished my fellow runners luck.

Then we were off, the first km passes the main crowd twice as part of a warmup loop before getting onto the main route. Which meant with the adrenalin and the crowds pushing us on we all went out a bit faster than planned, my first km was over in 3:42 and i specifically held myself back. The front runners quickly opened up a gap and the rest of the field strung itself out behind them.

The second Km was still a little too fast at 3:55 but much more in tune with what i was expecting to run. Km 3 & 4 were much better, bang on the pace i knew i needed at that stage of the race to finish sub 40, I also managed to pull back 3 or 4 runners that had gone out too fast at the start.

By then however the warm conditions started to make themselves felt, my legs were really heavy and started to get that lactate burn i was wary that if i tried to maintain the pace Id end up blowing up completly. With the marathon preparation i havent done a lot of running at LT or faster. My pace slipped to 4:12's for Km 5-8, One of the runners that id pulled back earlier came past again and slowly opened a gap on me before having to pull off to the side around Km 7 ... could have been me i though to myself if id tried to hold the earlier pace.

From about Km 6 on we were also overtaking the slower runners as the route had 4 loops. That made it more difficult to see the runners ahead of me. but i did get the occasional glimpse and saw that i was holding steady with them. I hoped that my endurance would help me close up on them in the final lap.

I had recovered a little and managed to pick up the pace again in Km 9 with a 4:07, I knew the sub 40 was out of reach, but not that runner in the red 50m ahead of me. Id also managed to get a decent splash of water on me at the drinks station on the last time past which also helped cool me a little.

I dont really have much of a sprint finish, I much prefer to wind the pace up from further out and run to the finishing schute in a steady pace... so with 1 km to go i started to wind up my pace a little... And the footsteps i could here behind me helped push me a bit further. Unfortunately they stayed close behind, closing slowly, before he blew past on the last little rise before the finish line, a taste of my own medicine since thats how i like to pass people myself. Still he did help push me to a 3:56 final Km.

I crossed the line, i wasnt seeing stars, and i wasnt quite as blown out as at the end of Munster or NordKirchen, but it wasnt far off. i grabbed a drink and sat down to catch my breath... it still amazes me just how little time it takes to go from a state of total exhaustion back to relative comfort... another great side effect of running. I had heard the announcer call out 40:30 as i came in, my garmin said 40:27,  but we had to wait till all the runners finshed before the official results were published.

Imhappy with the official 40:28, It might not be sub 40, but it still shaved over a minute off my previous PB set in Olfen just 3 months earlier. I finished 11th overall from 82 starters (this years field was much smaller than last year), was 10th male, and as a cherry on top placed First in my Age Group. Thats only the second time Ive managed that, but this time i got an actual trophy. Ok its made out of plastic, but its the first trophy I've ever won for sporting achievment, so it will be taking up some prime real estate on the shelves in the living room.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Training Haiku

Hypnos grip released. 
The miles beneath my feet
fallen leaves music.

Dailymiles dailymission today was to write a Haiku to describe todays training. Im kind of proud of what i came up with. Ok, so maybe its not that fantastic, probably not even a valid Haiku, but for someone that had to go look up what a haiku actually was in the first place its not too bad for my very first attempt.
Here are a selection of a couple of others that i thought were quite good.

A country road run
In early autumn's glory
Five miles of happy

thick clouds behind glass
the pool is dim and calm, now
another stroke.

I run, I escape
The crazy world fades away
My pace is my peace

Within the long run,
The burdens of man escape,
The mind is unchained.

Breathing fast and hard
Challenging hills to conquer
A sweet distraction

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Reading Roundup

Its been quite a while since ive done a reading roundup... mostly because well i havent actually been doing a lot of reading outside of the blogs already linked too on the left there...

But This week i have been spreading my wings again. Stefan at DailyMile posted me a link to the PredawnRunner blog when i mentioned that i may switch to training in the morning. Something to whet my appetite for getting up early and getting the miles in before breakfast, but ill write more on that in another post i think.

Ive also been reading some early reviews about the soon to be released brooks PureProject lineup. Im particular interested in these because ive been wanting to get into a shoe with a smaller heel to toe drop than regular shoes, especially after my experiences in the ronin (9mm drop). Saucony offers a bunch of shoes bassed around the success of their kinvara, but the sucony mold is too narrow in the toe box for me, so im hoping that the brooks shoes will be a better fit, especially since my brooks ghost's and GTS 10's have served me so well.

In the aftermath of my Münster Marathon ive also been doing a bit of investigation into what i should look too next, there really is too much good running weather left this year to take a break now, so Ive been looking at some trail races to provide a bit of variety and some interest before taking a break heading into winter.

Ah yes, my Muster Marathon race pack also held a nice little surprise, a re-release of a german book with 42 tips for marathon runners. A Really good book with the latest information on a number of things, in particular the advice to avoid over drinking, lines right up with some of the latest information and the discussion about shoes and advice to consider some barefoot work also caught my eye.

Finally the guys at Marathon Talk pointed their listeners towards a light hearted look at what not to do as a runner.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Whats Münster taught me?

So its a post marathon recovery week for me, which means that im not running much and have lots of spare time on my hands that i would normally have been training in. So its a perfect time to stop and review my buildup and exectuion, to see what lessons can be learnt, what worked, and what didnt. First off a look at Raceday.

First off and foremost, Race day adrenaline if kept under control at the start can give you a welcome surprise in the end.

The pacing tactic to slowly ramp up into race pace worked a treat, not only did it help to conserve karbohydrate levels it also creates a strategy thats bassed on a negative split which is contrary to most other runners and means you will be passing people towards the end of the race.

Comparing the Marathon to my HM Attempts i run better when i am able to pass people. rather than have them pass me.

In Vieena i drank water on raceday, only stopping 2hrs before the race, and took water at each station. For Münster i didnt, have any excess drink at all pre-race, and only took a minimal sip at the water stations, (excluding fluids consumed with gels) In Vienna i ran with a full bladder, in Münster i didnt, and wasnt dehydrated at the end either.

During the race i used water from the drink stations to wet my clothes and skin, this helped to keep me cool, a half cup of water poored over my chest was absorbed by the clothing and didnt result in water logged shoes.

At the drink stations take at least two cups.

Having the 5k times written down on a pace chart worked really well, especially as a garmin runs out of sync with the official race distance as you run off blue line.

You can still pull back a good few minutes over the last 10k if your feeling good. So stay in control and run to plan for your goal upto there, especially if the weather is uncertain.

My pre race fueling worked really well, a good breakfast 4hrs before the race, protein bar 2hrs out, and 1st gel with 200ml of water 15 mins prior to the start is a good combination for me.

In race fueling at 5, 15, 25, & 35 Km also worked well for me.

Ah yes, and last but not least believe in yourself and trust in your training.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Münster Marathon

This was the big one for me, the first marathon that i would race from start to finish. Id set myself a goal at the start of training that i felt was reasonable, sub 3:10. But my preperation races didnt go quite to plan, and i was starting to doubt my ability to actually maintain the required pace for the whole marathon. It seemed to me that it would depend on the weather.

So the days leading up to race day i kept a close watch on the forecasts. The Friday before raceday was absolutely perfect running weather, a cool 12°c in the morning rising to 16°c by midday with overcast skies and a gentle breeze. Unfortunately the weather forecast predicted a turn in the weather for the better for saturday 27°c ... with the warmth staying around on sunday... it was predicting temperatures of 20°c overnight rising to 23°c during the day ... I was mentally preparing myself to miss my goal.

The Day before the race i spent the morning with my kids, we watched England narowly shutout Argentina in the Rugby world cup before i headed home for another round of carb loading, spinach ricotta tortelini with a little cheese and herb sauce. I put my feet up in the afternoon drank lots of water and watched a few films. I had a small serve of whole wheat spaghetti with herrings for dinner, a bannana for desert before hitting the sack early at 9:30.... Surprisingly I managed to fall asleep pretty quickly.

Sunday the alarm went off at 5am I got up and went for a short 10-15 minute jog, much to the amazement of a couple of women that were still out celebrating a long saturday night. Then i tucked into a medium sized bowl of porridge, topped with banana walnuts and honey. Had my first Coffee in over two weeks and the got myself prepared for the race.... you know toilet, shower, lubing up etc.

It was only a 45 min drive to the start, but the only cheap parking place in Münster also happened to be directly besides the start zone, so i needed to be there early to get through the roadbloacks and get a park space. During the drive i looked at the temperature reading in the car... 19.5°c the sky was looking clear too. I thought to myself 3:15 is also a great time.

I got myself a park, got out and walked around a little before going back to the car eating a small protein bar and putting my seat back and closing my eyes for a little while, I didnt sleep more sort of a few moments of meditation. The temperture was up to 21°c and humidity was sitting at 80% by 8:30. The sun had come up and it was looking like it might get really uncomfortable. I put some sunscreen on my shoulders, visited the port-a-loo's, locked up the car and headed for the start blocks.

At 8:46 we had a minutes silence to remember the horror's of september 11 Ten years earlier.  Directly after i took my first Gel, washed it down with a cup of water, the first drink other than my morning coffee. I didnt want to have bladder presure issues like i did in Vienna so i didnt drink any extra fluids race morning. The start process from there seemed to go pretty quick. I guess because i was chating to Henning a fellow DailyMiler that was also running. Although we started in the second block we were right at the front and probably only 10 meters from the start line.

My plan at the start was to slowly ramp up into my race pace over the first 5km. So i had planned the first km in 4:45, the next 2 in 4:40, and 2 more at 4:35 before holding 4:29 through to km 32. Id rehearsed the whole sequence several times in training and although i wasnt bang on the times the whole point of not going out to fast in the first 5k seemed safe. My opening 5 according to the garmin turned out to be,  4:38, 4:30, 4:37, 4:35, 4:31 So i was still caught up in the adrenaline of the moment, but nowhere near like the vast majority of runners, In those opening 5k i was passed by hundreds of runners, including the 3:15 pacers. The whole time i kept saying to myself 'your too fast' and 'slow down'

However despite my pace according to garmin being a bit hot, as i crossed the 5k marker i was bang on the required 5k split according to the pace chart i had attached to my Garmin strap.  This was because the start wound around the small roads and lanes of the city center so despite me aggresively trying to run the tangents whenever possible i was still gaining extra distance pretty quickly. In fact by the time we got out onto the more open roads around km 11 Id already run an extra 280 meters on the garmin.

At km 5 i took my second gel, and then concentrated on trying to settle into my target pace. The field had started to open up a little, the buildings provided plenty of shadow and i started to pull back a few of the runners that had flown past me at the start, notibly the 3:15 pace group around km 7 now that they too had settled into a more apropriate pace.

 At the drinks stations i started a pattern that i followed for the whole race. With a gel i would drink an guesstimated 200ml of water, at the other stations the water was primarily applied to my head and clothes to help with cooling and just a mouthfull from each was drunk. The cups were paper so made drinking on the run, especially the bit at the bottom, really easy. For my gels i still used my drink while walking strategy.

Around km 12 we came out of the town and started to run through the very picturesque Musterland. Unfortunately this also meant less shade and from that point i started pulling back runners a lot more quickly. My times through each 5k were pretty much matching up with my pace char. I crossed 10k in 45:54 my pace chart said 45:40, the half in 1:35:02 the pace chart for 21km 1:34:59  I was feeling good, but still wary about the weather and the effect it would have on the later stages of the race.

Coming in towards the halfway mark i recognised Henning a bit further up the road, resisted the temptation to speed up to catch him and just closed the gap over the next few km's. After the half we wound through a small village then turned and headed south, into a little bit of a head wind, Henning and i chatted for a bit, and i encourged him to tuck in behind me, I knew he was aiming for a sub 3:10 as well and that if he slowed too much at that point it would slip from his grip.

The stretch from km25-km30 was quite narrow and we hit a fair bit of traffic, I was being concious not to get lulled into running off pace, Thankfully the weather had also turned a little the humidity dropped away quite quickly once the wind picked up, it clouded over and even started to rain a little. I crossed km 30 in 2:15:14 6 seconds ahead of my pace charts 2:15:20.

My pacing tactic to go sub 3:10 required me to pick the pace up to 4:25/k from km 35 onwards. If i could do that id come in comfortably with a good 30-40 seconds to spare to cover off the additional distance id run over the blue line. However I was feeling really good, my breathing was still easy, the legs were getting tired, but were still in pretty good shape,  and the weather had turned a little.

So i took a bit of a risk and decided to wind things up through the final 10k. km 32 i ran in 4:17 had a down hill i think or i was a little to exhuberant, km 33 in 4:24, km 34 in 4:20, km 35 in 4:19 By this stage the field was starting to thin out, i was still pulling back runners, but not in the droves on earlier... still as i passed each one i imagined my self syphoning off the last dregs of their energy like some sort of evil lich.

I continued to build the pace through each kilometer At this point i started to realise that baring catastrophy id hit my sub 3:10 goal, which gave me a even more energy to keep going. I ran Km 36 in 4:17, km 37 in 4:15, km 38 with the last rise ( i cant reall call it a hill ) in 4:19, Km 39 in 4:15 Km 40 in 4:10. I started to wonder when we would hit the crowds to cheer us onto the finish as for Km 41 in 4:05 we were still passing through through a residential area with very few spectators. The legs now were starting to suffer from a build up of lactates.

But then I came round a corner and the city center was ahead of me, and the crowds too. It was just what i needed and the cheering really helped me to keep on pushing, by now i was trying to forget all about my legs and just concentrated on swinging my arms and hoping that the legs would just sort of follow along. I ran km 42 in 4:00

In typical marathon cruelty the final stretch over the last 4-5 hundred meters was over an uneven and slightly wet cobbled road, with the finish line hidden 50m around a corner. By then i was biting my teeth together and fighting hard, the legs were screaming, my breathing was down to breath for each step, I could no longer really see the crowd i was just looking for the finish line. When would it come when would i see it. It couldnt be much further could it?

Then i rounded said corner saw it ahead and threw myself across the line with the last reserves of what i had. I ran the last 530 meters with an average of 3:51/k Across the line i pulled up took a few steps to the side and thought for a moment that i might collapse. I didnt, thankfully, but it was a distinct possibility for a few wobbly seconds there... then i managed to get some air in and things started to come right again.

I had been so concentrated on crossing the finish line that i hadnt even looked up to see what the clock had showed, So I looked at my Garmin it said 3:06 the seconds were hidden id find them out later on but the first big grin of the afternoon crossed my face and i turned to one of the guys handing out the medals who'd been waiting paitiently for me, collected my medal. and then walked through to have some water poured on my head.

I drank two cups of some funny tasting pink stuff, no idea what it was, got myself wrapped up in a big sheet of pastic, and headed for the banana's... If they hadnt been cut into thirds id have probably set another PB for fastest consumption of a bananna... Then i thought about Henning, would he hit his target? he was hoping for a sub 3:10 as well, but wanted to at least get a possible BQ. He ran in with 3:10 showing on the clock that was all i could see from where i was standing.

We had a couple of post race beers together in the finishing area... its one thing that has to be said for germany, they sure have their priorities sorted out when it comes to post race refreshments... sure it might be alcohol free but your marathon softened brain doesnt seem to notice, and youll not find a better tasting beer anywhere on this planet than the one you drink 10 minutes after setting a new Marathon PB, regardless of brand or type.

We collected our Finisher shirts, Which we then promptly put on as it was getting windy, still raining a little and neither of us came with much in the way of an insulating fat layer. It was too cold for me so i headed back to the clothes bags picked up my stuff and hit the showers, which thanks to the local rapid response environmental contamination units shower system was actually warm.

I picked up my finishers certificate which held another great surprise. My offical finishing time and place. My new Marathon PB is now 3:06:46 I came 72nd overall from the 1983 male finishers, and 13th in the M35 age class. Once again i was fastest Kiwi ... ok its most likely i was also the only Kiwi.

I had one of those outstanding races, a race where i did much much better than i thought i was capable of. Sure race day adrenaline, a well executed taper, and racing under the influence of gels helped pull my performance up above what is normal... but the conditions were not ideal, it was just one of those days where everything just seemed to come right for me, It will be a race that i will look back fondly on.

The Münster Marathon itself is a great event. Its small but not too small, It has a nice mix of city and country racing on a course thats about as flat as you could like. Register early and the value for money has many of the bigger city marathons here in germany beat with perhapes the exception of berlin...but thats berlin after all. It could well become a fixture on my race calender, if not as an A race then as a Great Autum dress rehersal run.

Here Lady Garmin's version of the truth.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Escaping Taper Madness

So all the big training is done. And with just under a week to go Im well and truely into my taper, which can mean only one thing. Taper Madness!!!

Anyone thats tapered for a marathon or other big race will know what im talking about. the First symptoms for me was the discomfort during a run, Not quite an injury, but feeling like something is just off. Then come the phantom pains, the heavy tired legs. But i was sort of expecting all that as i went through pretty much the same thing leading up to Vienna. This time however i also was struck down by the phantom cold. Last Sunday afternoon instead of going for a long run i spent the afternoon wrapped up in a blanket and sleeping on the couch. Who knows perhapes it wasnt a phantom cold at all and my rapid response managed to kick it before it really set in... because by tuesday i was feeling right as rain again.

Im pretty pround of myself this time and during tapering havent (yet) given in to the urge to devour large quantities of anything sweet or carb packed.... although there were some mishaps in the weeks leading up to the start of the taper. Ill be starting to take on more carbs 4-5 days out, till then im maintaining my diet, which has me down to 79kg a BMI of 21 the lightest ive been since highschool. But perhapes still a little off an ideal race weight.

Last night i was tempted to run further than planned by staying with the group, but ignored the cajoling when i told them i was cutting the run short and heading home. It can be too easy to try and do too much in the last few weeks and end up arriving at the start line fatigued. Ill be doing a 10k tonight runnign through my start sequence again, an easy run on wednesday and then a short 5k at MP on friday. That should see me arrive at the starting line on sunday all rearing to go.

I have been struggling a little with some self doubt, Im really not sure wether ill be able to meet the goal i set myself on the day, But i know that it is at least achievable, Could i have done more preparation, perhapes, but then you can allways say you could have done more. but if your able to is another thing. and im pretty happy with what ive done. Regardless of whether i hit my goal ill still be doing my best on the day.

To help keep the Taper madness under control ive done a little bit of self examination, Ive looked over my runnign folder with my certificates and results in it, ive re-read my posts here. Ive though about my longer term goals. When i havent been doing that ive kept myself busy, catching up on the housework that was sort of neglected a little lately. Preparing my kit for race day, and yep even shoping for my post race treats.

So actually on the whole, I think I can say that ive escaped the worst of the Taper Madness this time. But ill stay on high alert through the rest of the week, just incase.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wow what an WM!

Do the WM in athletics has just finished in Daegu, South Korea. And wasnt it a cracker, Some major Surprises.

I guess the big one was the disqualification of Usain Bolt in the 100m final. I cant say i like the new 'No Tollerance' rule for flase starts. In my mind its pretty much means thatafter seeing what happened to Bolt no athlete is going to try for a WR at a big championship anymore, why risk it?... Which begs the question what was bolt thinking... if i had to hazard a guess, i think he wanted to destroy the field and win by a clear margin, showing off his new start in the process.... I guess his ego got the better of him this time...  is there a leason for us all in that.

We also had the disqualification of Dayron Roubles in the 110m hurdles that had his gold removed, i guess thats the rules but it does seem pretty harsh.

Then what about the mens 10,000m ... what a finish, with 250m to go it looked like it was all over and Mo Farrah had it all sewn up, but then at 150m the doubts crept in and then to get pulled back with 50m to go... Im sure most distance runners can identify with Farrah, your willing your legs to go faster but they just wont respond... and then someone pips you on the line with a faster close.

The mens 400m was also an edge of the seat affair. Kirani James just managed to pull back and pass Merritt in the last few meters.

The womens 10,000m and Marathon really just puts a big underline under the domination of distance running by the kenyan athletes. but to shut out the ethiopians completely in both, well that was really rubbing it in.

Unfortunately i havent caught as much of the second half of the WM as i hopped. Did see the young Geman Shot-Puter take gold, and a few of the relays but i missed the rest of the track events.

Still, You cant deny that it was yet again another great excitment filled WM with a good dash of contoversy thrown in for good measure. Now during my track workouts i have some more source material for my own day dreams.