6 Year Hiatus

It has been some time since I last blogged and even longer since I last participated seriously in a road race - to be precise, a half marathon. My last effort was early 2012! It’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog (or even race) - I’ve just had other priorities to deal with that life throws at you every now and then. So I won’t bore you with them.

Regards the racing, it’s not that I haven’t been running. I’ve run three marathons, four Spartan obstacle runs and plodded numerous kilometres through forests, around lakes, hills and vineyards, as well as lifted, pushed and pulled a ton of weights in the gym.

After running a couple of 5km Park Runs early in 2018 and getting my time back down to almost 21 minutes - and that burning sensation your legs and lungs get when you push yourself to your limits - I felt the urge to enter a serious race! What was I thinking and why would I want to do that?? Well it was more to see what was left in my ageing body and to see how it would handle the pressure of running at pace once more. The only local choice was the Queenstown off-road half marathon.

The dream was to run close to what I did 6 years ago and run 1hr 30mins, but reality was saying it would be around 1hr 40mins! Time would tell.

I’ve always enjoyed the half marathon, the training isn’t as painful as marathon training and recovery is quicker. In some ways I believe it was the perfect distance for my body - although I did very well over 5km and 10km also.

I can still recall my first half marathon and the ‘seasoned’ runners who got me into running, scoffing when I said I would run 1hr 20mins - they had kept pressing my for a time prediction! I silenced them by actually running 1hr 20mins!! From then onwards I improved my time over the years with my best result being in the low 71 minutes - I never quite managed to crack that 71 minute mark.

The Queenstown half arrived quicker than expected and I could feel the excitement and nerves building, just like in the old days. Five prior to the race I had started taking magnesium to get my calf muscles to loosen up and relax, and they quickly obliged. The only down side was the build up of “gas” and more and softer bowel movements.

On the morning of the run, as I stood in the starting shoot trying to keep warm and stop loosing the circulation in my fingers, my nervousness shifted to my bowels and I was left wandering am I going to need to find a toilet or will this feeling in my bowel pass without incident? Thankfully it was the latter, as once the start gun went the feeling faded and it was onwards to the finish.

I felt good as the crowd charged forward, my breathing was relaxed, heart rate steady, but my quads were feeling unsettled for reasons unknown. It soon became clear at the 1km mark and a time check - 4min 23sec!!! Too fast, slow down.That wasn’t so easy as the first 3-4km was downhill, be it slightly. Eventually by the 4km mark I had managed to get settled and feel more comfortable.

My next “hurdle” was between 10 and 11km. The sun had finally gotten rid of the light fog and burnt off the chill. There was little shelter or wind and so my decision to wear a t-shirt over my singlet was proving too much as I heated up. So I had to stop and remove my race number, then my t-shirt, pin the number to my singlet, tuck the t-shirt into the back of my shorts and set off again. All good.

At 16km I hit my next ‘hurdle”- my right iliopsoas (hip flexor muscle) started playing up making lifting my leg uncomfortable. That in turn affected my stride and put pressure on my calf muscles. To prevent it getting worse and cramp setting in, I broke into a power walk for 200m and then ran 800m. I did this for 3km and by 19km things had settled down and I was able to power away and run strongly to the finish - 1hr 42min 56sec and best of all when I finished I had no soreness in my legs, no stiffness or symptoms of cramp - my legs were just tired. I’ll put that down to the magnesium I had been taking.

So my racing hiatus was over - now I’m looking for another race challenge. Come on March 2019 and the 15km Miners Trail run. Apparently the hills are real mean. Happy running.

Martin McKone