Post-2019 Gold Coast Marathon: What Now?

It’s coming to 2 weeks after the race (GCM19 race report). I’ve not run a single step since then, staying faithful to the 2-week self-enforced rest. Sleep hasn’t been good, with frequent tossing and turning in the wee hours of the morning, the cause of which has been hard to pin down except to put it all down to the ingrained training routine. Now that the euphoria has died down, what’s next? Moving on with the next stage of the plan, of course! GCM19 was always about getting myself as close to the BQ standards as possible, or as Detective Allen Gamble put it in The Other Guys, “…establishing a beachhead…”

We’ve developed a system to establish a beachhead and aggressively hunt you and your family. And we will corner your pride, your children, your offspring…”
Allen Gamble, The Other Guys.

To put that into my personal context,

System” would be the 18-Week HMM/LHR Advanced Plan.
Beachhead” would denote a launch pad, a Forward Operating Base if you will.
Hunt” would refer to my quest to run the Boston Marathon.

I use this movie as a reference not only because I love Will Ferrell comedies, but my life is just as boring as the married Allen Gamble’s (not when he was Gator)! Like Allen, I’m a keen data guy when it comes to training analysis. That being the case and having a bit of time being off-training, I’ve completed piecing together my training plan towards racing a key marathon in the First Quarter of 2020. Having the plan down on paper, well Excel, means it’s tangible and reinforced on a daily basis.

PHASES

DATES

NO. OF WEEKS

PHASE SUMMARY

Foundation

Jul 22 – Sep 22

8

90% easy running incorporating post-run drills, 2 progression sessions and 1 10K race on Week 3 which I’ll race casually. 3 strength sessions at Dynamique will be inserted here. Weekly mileage averages out at only 59K. Objective is to rebuild aerobic fitness and consistency.

HMM/LHR 6- Week Base

Sep 23 – Nov 3

6

Weekly average is 64K, with 80% easy running. Speed-work are all short and non-interval based eg in the form of fartlek and progression only. At the end of the 6th week, I’d have gone through 14 weeks of consistent prep-work. A week’s complete rest with a massage session is planned before transitioning into the very challenging 18-week plan.

REST

HMM/LHR 18-Advanced Plan

Nov 11 – Mar 15

18

I already experienced it first-hand how hard this nut is. Plus, I’ll be running at much faster paces.

Coach Luke has cautioned against embarking on a plan that’s too long, because it’s counter-productive and increases of risk of burn-out and injuries. It’s for that reason I’m keeping the Foundation Phase very loose and easy, and inserting a week’s complete rest before the start of the main body of training. While it remains to be seen how much cushion is needed after the revision of the qualifying standards this year – read up the regulations and try out the qualifying calculator here running a just-in-time race is just too risky. A buffer of 5 minutes would be ideal to give the applicant some measure of comfort (but still no guarantees!), so you can imagine how hard it is just to make it to the start at Hopkinton. I’m hopeful and the numbers do suggest some possibility. But I’m not going to worry about that. Instead I believe that if I can execute the plan well, I’m in with more than a shout. The training paces have been updated into Final Surge and Garmin Connect. So here I go again!

 

GCM19: Weeks 1 to 3

“Training for a race will teach you the skills you need to be successful in life: Goal-setting, commitment, patience, sacrifice, work ethic, and often overlooked: recovery.” John Jefferson.

And just like that, Week 3 is a wrap. I’ve set several goals for GCM19 and the most aggressive one is to be able to meet the qualifying standards of Boston 2020,a lofty goal by any means. The secondary goal is to run a sub 3:30 marathon and the tertiary goal is to run a PR. To nail the biggest goal, I’ll have to run 20 seconds per km faster than my current best, and better my current PR by 13 minutes. It’s as  intimidating as it sounds, but I’ve run a Half Marathon just 3 seconds off the goal pace as recently as January, on just base mileage, over an undulating course and humid weather. I’ll know if that was a foolhardy fantasy to be entertaining come July 7th.

While I can easily cook up many excuses to say that I can’t and shouldn’t be entertaining such foolhardy thoughts, I’d rather focus on keeping a positive mindset and believe that I can somehow pull it off, no matter how misguided or delusional that may be. I’m no psychologist but this term – Self-Efficacy – seems to best describe my mental stance to the whole pursuit. Believing in it and whole-heartedly embracing the process and things may just work out. I hope.

The Hansons Advance Plan have got me running more than before, right from the very first week. On top of what’s prescribed, I’ve added a bit more to each day. As you can see from the logs below, the daily additions of mostly 1Ks are all miniscule but there’s more to it. Firstly, they all add up to the weekly mileage which I need. Having a rock solid base is priceless. Secondly, it toughens the mind. We’re somehow conditioned to look forward to the completion of the easy (yet boring) 10Ks and long runs. Adding that bit more will teach and toughen up the mind to accept being uncomfortable for just a little longer. Thirdly, the time spent on my feet – the basis of ultra training – can only toughen me up. Over the course of 3 weeks, I’ve logged 150% more mileage than the same period last year, when I made my breakthrough. Granted, I was training on the Beginner plan then. But mileage is mileage, and they come in extremely handy.

Naturally, I’ve been very very careful in taking on the additional mileage, all of which were logged as part of the easy days and none as part of an SOS which are already demanding as they were. I will not hesitate to opt out of adding miles should I really feel sick or really run down. Like what Coach Humphrey said, “You don’t want to be overcooked.”

If there’s one thing I’ve to be really watchful about, it’s sleep. Due to family commitments, that area will always be challenged, so it’s all about doing the very best I can. The training crew have been training and racing extremely well recently and I’m looking up to those who have broken their personal barriers like sub-3:30, 3:15, and sub-3:05. On top of that, we’ve had newly minted sub-5 and sub-4 hour marathoners as well!

Week 1

Planned: 63K
Actual: 71.57K
Difference: +8.6K

Nothing strenuous. All easy miles. 

Week 2

Planned: 66.6K
Actual: 76.18K
Difference: +9.58

First speed session i.e. 12x400m at 1K race pace, with 400m recovery. The 400s were executed in 4:30 > 4:13 > 4:17 > 4:17 > 4:23 > 4:25 > 4:21 > 4:25 > 4:15 > 4:25 > 4:08 > 4:30. Twice a day intake of protein (once post workout, another before bedtime), 2 iron supplements per week, 2 magnesium supplements per week, extra Vit C on alternate days.

Week 3

Planned: 73K
Actual: 79.8K
Difference: +6.8

First speed and tempo week. 8x600m @ 10K race pace with 400m recovery which I covered in 4:34 > 4:38 > 4:34 > 4:25 > 4:21 > 4:24 >4:22 > 4:23. I averaged 4:50 on the dot for the 10K tempo. The poor air quality didn’t make things easy but I got that very challenging session. Thankfully, the haze slowly disappeared over the course of the next few days and I was able to stick to the plan. Same eating regimen was applied but I introduced nuts to stave off the hunger pangs at work. This week saw the most miles logged so far but all good! However, I need to cutback on the mileage next week and stick to the planned 73K having adding miles since W2 Feb. It’s a belated move but the body needs a down week to recuperate and bounce back the following week.

That’s it for now. I hope to continue updating my progress as the I clear the weeks. If you’ve thought about running a PR course on a great location, think no further than the Gold Coast. Early bird fees still apply, so click on the banner below and get to it!

Previous Posts: End-Feb Checkpoint | Mid-Jan Checkpoint


I’ll be running my 9th Gold Coast Marathon this July! While the IAAF Gold Labelled marathon route is fast, flat and scenic where over 60% of runners achieve their personal best, I’ve grown to love the Gold Coast for its vibes. If you’ve not been to the Gold Coast, it will surprise you. Attractions are never more than a short drive/commute away from the city centre. From her world-famous beaches, to the tranquil hinterlands, and to the adrenaline pumping theme parks, the destination has it all. Come join me this July and register before end April to enjoy early bird fees. Details here: www.goldcoastmarathon.com.au

Galaxy Entertainment Macao International Marathon 2018

Marathon #35 was indeed a tale of 2 halves. I had an excellent first half, and a forgettable second. Much like the see-saw training I had after the great first 6 weeks. For the training recap, you can check out this post. Going into the race, But the plan was still to stick to 3:30 goal even though it would be near impossible given the way my training turned out. I’ve always maintained that Macao would be a stepping stone and learning opportunity for me leading to the eventual 3:30, so I certainly won’t learn anything had I detracted from the original plan and run too conservatively. I may be able to equal my GCM18 PR, but that won’t add much to my push towards 3:30. I needed to push the envelope.

Macao this year would be a touch-and-go trip for my wife and I. It was supposed to be a solo trip since it was such a short 1-nighter but the 2-bedded room was paid (in case there would be another runner joining) and the other single bed would’ve been wasted. The fun aspect when travelling with some of the training gang would be the sightseeing and eating. That part of the trip was very enjoyable, and we even dined in the award-winning Tapas de Portugal (also here) the night before the race. With the gear laid out the moment we checked in, I was able to hit the sack early. A little too early I might add, as I woke up at 2:30am which was way before the alarm! In hindsight, I should’ve finished watching The Godfather III on TV! I did catch the famous, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”scene though 😀 .

A light dinner at the award winning Tapas de Portugal.

I stuck to my pre-race meal protocol of a cup noodle and black coffee before heading down to meet Calvin and CY for a short 1K warm-up. I felt really good and was raring to get the race underway. The jog to the stadium was less than another kilometre and since we didn’t have any baggage to check in, we were able to bypass much of the crowd entering the track. All of us stretched a little before walking towards the starting pen. The crowd was already thickening. Macao practices a common start for the Half and Full Marathoners which meant there were plenty of shoving around within the pen as runners forced their way to the front. This was the most annoying part of the race – lack of etiquette by the mostly PRC, Hong Kong and local Macanese runners. I don’t foresee the race organizers changing this anytime soon. Nevertheless, I was being entertained (not!) by the poor pom-pom boys and girls who could do with a much needed break with their non-stop shaking of their pom-poms (they were at it for at least 25 minutes). I should also mention that I was also surrounded by cussing runners (I understand Cantonese enough to know their meaning) whose idea of conversation included colourful adjectives. I just couldn’t wait to get the race underway.

The clock struck 6 and we were finally let off. It couldn’t have come sooner enough and I was glad to tear myself off the annoying fellas. As usual, the exit from the stadium was a tight squeeze, followed by a hard right, a short straight and a hard veer to the left. It was only after this point that I could open up my pace and get the race underway. Winter is very mild in Macao – it was 20 Celcius at 6am – at least for the period I’ve visited, warmer than the Gold Coast winter. So the body got going right from the start. With the wider roads, everyone was able to find a comfortable spot and get going. Pace around me was brisk and it got me wondering if that many would be dropping out by the 10-mile mark. Then I remembered that most of these runners around me were Half Marathoners!

The first challenge presented itself in the form of the Governador Nobre de Carvalho Bridge. While it was dark last year, the entire length of the structure was completely lit this time around, allowing drones and photographers to work. It was mostly flat until around the 4.7K mark where runners were greeted with a 300m climb. Since it came so early in the race, this was tackled without any issues. I covered this stretch in 5:16 pace.

5K Splits: 5:27 > 5:02 > 4:58 > 5:00 > 5:16 = 25:47

The other side of Ponte de Carvalho (ponte = bridge, in Portuguese) allowed me to recover but I was very conscious not to get carried away by hammering the downhill. While the feeling was great at that point, there was always the matter with the wall at the back of my mind. The crowd thinned out a little exiting the bridge as we meandered around the streets on the other side of Macao. Wherever there were flats, I reminded myself to run relaxed and get into the zone. And this stretch along the coastal road was long and perfect to maintain that. I’d found the iPod battery flat right before the start, so I’d no entertainment to keep me distracted and it was all very much just me focusing on my breathing and cadence.

10K Splits: 4:59 > 4:55 > 5:01 > 5:01 > 4:58 = 50:42

As I closed in on the famous Ah Ma Temple, I had to be conscious of the cobbled stone path. The Vaporfly 4% isn’t a stable shoe and I’d to be mindful of not twisting my ankle, especially around the twisty path. Traffic control for the marathon have always been excellent except for the section before entering the Sai Van Bridge. As with last year, we had to share part of the roads with buses and their fumes were just terrible.

15K Splits: 4:55 > 4:55 > 4:54 > 5:02 > 5:07 = 1:15.38

The 15K mark was ominously the ramp up the Sai Van Bridge. The span bridge itself wasn’t a problem but it was along this long curvy ramp that many runners were reduced to a walk. My strategy was to maintain very high cadence with short strides. As long as I was moving at the same effort, I figured I would be alright. I hit 10 miles in 1:20.50, so I was still good. My fueling tactics were unchanged – a gel every 5K, drink at every station, sip on my bottle of Hammer Fizz every now and then. Clearing the bridge meant hitting the 17K mark and before long, the half marathoners were separated from those running the full distance. There wasn’t many of us left to trudge on. At around this point last year, the race leaders had begun to lap me.

The next 5K was run over a hardly scenic route. We went past the Coloane and some industrial areas. Really boring. It was still relatively cool, still OK for running and the well-spaced out sponging stations helped as well. A little fatigue was starting to set it, but things weren’t deteriorating at an alarming state yet.

21K Splits: 5:12 > 4:53 > 5:00 > 5:02 > 4:37 > 5:01 = 1:45.26 (the official timing put that at 1:48.01, a slightly quicker half than I clocked en route to my GCM18 PR, so there appeared to be some loss of GPS signal along the way).

I was still averaging 5:00 pace up to the 26K mark. Along this stretch where we had to go through a couple of switchbacks, I finally spotted Calvin who appeared to be running well around 230m ahead. I told myself to hang on and not let the gap widen. But I could only ask so much of an unprepared body.

26K Splits: 5:01 > 5:05 > 4:55 > 4:50 > 5:00 = 2:10.19

I started slowing down after this point. While on paper, there was still a chance that I finish close to my PR, the reality was far more chastening. The whole body was wracked in pain, with mini-cramps popping up here and there, even the stomach. The shoulders, and glutes weren’t spared either. It would’ve been easier to count the body parts that weren’t in trouble.

Once we hung a right to the Galaxy Casino, the Half Marathoners had only a couple of KMs to run. Those running the full distance still had 14 arduous KMs to negotiate. It was here that I unpinned by race bib last year, opting to not aggravate my PF further. This time around, I needed to gut it out.

30K Split: 5:02 > 5:09 > 5:01 > 5:05 = 2:30.36

I’d begun taking walk breaks and tried rallying against losing too much time. Due to the small field, there weren’t many runners who passed me. On the Gold Coast I’d have been swallowed and spat out. I wish I could be more descriptive of the remaining portion of the race, or what’s left of it, but the only persistent thing that I experienced were pain and suffering in the increasingly hot morning.  I couldn’t be happier when I saw my wife waiting with the camera after I rounded the last turn before entering the stadium towards the finish.

35K Split: 6:17 > 5:36 > 5:15 > 6:19 > 5:21 = 2:59.27
The rest: 6:10 > 6:52 > 6:40 > 6:22 > 6:21 > 6:47 > 5:46

Most don’t think much or bother about their running, and there’s nothing wrong about that. For those intending to push the boundaries to run their very best, every race matters. It validates the effort they invested into their training. Some take an express elevator to their goals, some take a more meandering path – losing, regaining their bearings, and learning. It’s now 2 weeks after the Macao Mayhem. I shall allow myself to be encouraged with how I did. It was 10 minutes off my PR (which works out to be around 2 KM) but still my 3rd fastest marathon. I set out to finish the marathon after last year’s DNF and I’d done so. It’s time to put this behind me and move on with recovery and rebuilding. I will take that 3:48.48 and be done with Macao Marathon. I’m now toying with the idea of returning to Chiang Mai next December. My only marathon there ended disastrously prior to using the Hansons Plan. I returned the following year to race the half but am itching to do well in the marathon there.

Post-race analysis:

  • I expected to suffer but not this much.
  • I expected not to be able to hit the paces (up to the wall) but I did. That probably explained the corresponding level of pain I found myself in  when reality finally set in.
  • Executing the Hansons Plan successfully demands strict adherence to the weekly mileage. I simply missed too many sessions. I was de-trained and my endurance levels plummeted.
  • In running the easy sessions too fast (they were within my pace window, but on the upper levels), I didn’t give my body the recovery it needed. The downstream impact would be poor recovery, compounded by the tremendous stress at work. I might have been knocking on the burn out door as well.
  • Having now experienced the extremes of good and poor Hansons Plan execution, I can now recognize the “good fatigue” and “bad fatigue”. You can usually ease off the “good fatigue” phase and start hitting the goal pace after a quick warm up. The mind and motivation, too, will be quite fresh. Bad fatigue, however, is a sucker punch both on the body and mind and is near impossible to shake off even after several days of gutting it out.

Macao: The Unfinished Business

Next Sunday, I’ll find myself on the starting line of the Macao Marathon yet again. This time with an agenda to finish the race after deciding to DNF the 2017 edition due to plantar fasciitis. The early decision to DNF (even if I could’ve finish well within the 5-hour cutoff) was a move to ensure I didn’t regress the year-long injury to the point of jeopardizing my A-race which was GCM18. The call turned out to be one of the best I’ve made. Making the decision early meant I was able to remove the uncertainty of the race, and just enjoy my first trip. If you’re interested, my 2017 experience can be found here.

Year-end races have always been tough. Q4 deliverables at work meant preparations were always going to be challenging, what more undertaking a shorter yet tougher training plan. Instead of the 18-week Beginner’s Plan, it was perhaps a little foolish (and over-optimistic) of me to have gone with the 14-week Intermediate Plan. I figured that I needed a few more low mileage weeks post GCM18 even if I was already running 6 days after that race. As it turned out, we already breached the 64K mark the very first week. Weeks 2 to 5 would be in the 70s, and there would be nothing shorter than 88K from Week 6 right up to Week 13 when the needle dropped back to 76K. Somewhere in there were 3 weeks of 90s. Race week will see a total of 86K run, including the marathon, but I intend to cut back some. As you can imagine, this plan isn’t for the weak of heart and mind.

I wish I could report that I hit all the targeted mileage. But a vicious cold strain spread across the office knocking me off pace on Weeks 7 and 9. Thankfully those weeks were so-called cut-backs from the 90Ks. Without a doubt, the body’s resistance level was already low coming off the high weeks. So despite sporting facial masks at work and constantly washing of my hands like a fella afflicted with OCD, I was still hit. While I wasn’t completely floored, those 2 weeks were pretty low points for me, hitting only 40% to 50% of the targeted mileage. I could’ve forced the runs through but they would’ve definitely sucked and I probably would’ve taken longer to recover. The total missed sessions included 2 strength sessions, 3 MP pace repeats, and 2x20K long runs.

To say that I was deflated would be an understatement. The Intermediate Plan will always be challenging but in better conditions, I wouldn’t have missed that many SOS sessions. I might have shortened the recovery days but I’d have at least managed 95% of what were penned down. Upping the volume AND intensity at the same time were definitely too much for me to handle, at least over this extremely stressful period at work. I ended up neglecting most of my core and strength work over the course of Macao training.

Still, there are some bright spots over the past 3 months.

  1. The last time I logged a 100K week was back in May 2015. This time around, I was able to hit 102K on Week 10 and still felt pretty good.
  2. I had a very good run in the first 6 weeks before the cold hit.
  3. Despite that, I logged 241K more in October than I did over the same month last year.
  4. I logged 178K more in September than I did over the same month last year.
  5. I will also be averaging more miles in November this year than the same month last year.
  6. My MP has slowly but surely been on the up, even if baselining the new MP will take a few more months of consistent work and proofing in a race or two. That’s another reason to insert races sparingly as a progress checkpoint. While I generally advocate training volume over racing week in and out, a low-key race every few months or so will be beneficial.
  7. I’m injury-free, unlike last year.

So my goal for Macao this year will be to finish. A bonus would be to equal the time that I ran in Gold Coast. Anything more than that would be unthinkable, with the 2 bridges standing in the way. Whatever it is, let’s get this done.

What’s Next After GCM18?

Here’s a quick update on my running. I returned to easy running 6 days post GCM18, with a 4K jog followed by a 10K the following day. Week 2 of August saw some daily commute transition pains which saw my wife and I moving from driving to taking the train. It wasn’t an easy decision even if for many out there it’s the most obvious choice. Surprisingly the new experience proved quite tiring with more standing, climbing and walking but after more than a month at it, I think we’ve adjusted.

In other words, I wasn’t on any training plan between GCM18 and the publication of this post. I just had to ensure that I keep my weight below 60kg and stick to a maintenance of fitness mode. Exercise comprised of plenty of walking, stair-climbing, mobility exercises (mostly involving resistance bands), and running 4 times a week mostly very short distances, at mixed paces. Weekends will see the low tens.

The past 5 weeks’ mileage (in KM) were 29 > 31 > 31 > 32 > 34. I did try to increase the volume to the 40s but found that to be stressful, and that isn’t something I would like my running to be. In this comfortable, no-pressure mode, I was able to keep to a 30K average the past 5 weeks. This week’s mileage should be in the same ballpark.

Tomorrow begins yet another marathon training cycle which will lead up to Macao in December. While I’ve set my 14-week Hansons plan to another aggressive goal time, I’m still undecided on how I’d like to run it. If I do stick to my aggressive goal, then I’m prepared to take it as a chance to learn, taking this as a build up to my 2019 goals. I won’t beat myself up over things and keep things stress-free.

The second option will be to race it on a less aggressive plan. You may have read that I DNF’d the 2017 edition (read the account here), so this year’s return is a bit of a chance to wrap up an unfinished business.

The final option would be to race the Half Marathon. It’s a good course and it will be a PR opportunity. I’ve a bit of time to think about it as Macao entries open only mid September. In any event, there will be something to look forward to every morning from Monday onwards!

Gold Coast Marathon 2018

Note: For the other fun activities I managed to cram into my itinerary this year, and more photos of my trip to the Gold Coast, click this link.

The alarm rang at 4:50am and in certain ways, it was as if the starter’s gun had been fired signalling the start of my long day. For the past 18 weeks (longer if I included the low volume base months), my daily routine has been practically locked in, from bedtime to the habitual chilling of my drinks in the fridge the night before, laying out of the next morning’s workout gear and logging down the post-workout data. It got so regimented that by the 2nd half of my training program, I no longer needed the 4:30am alarm. The goings-on in the hotel room were calm and quiet – the mandatory toilet visit, a light snack of banana, a Clif bar, and a small cup of black coffee before heading out for a warm up jog around the block with Francis and Nick. Nick, who had been struggling the past few days, would later break the bad news that he would not be starting. It was a tough decision and we were sure he was even more devastated to have literally come so far, to not start. But health is something one shouldn’t be risking over a pursuit as strenuous as a Marathon, and we were all truly sorry for him. If anything, it made me even more determined to run well for my fellow “Hansoner”.

Since the race precinct was just 10 minutes away by foot, Francis and I took our time is getting ourselves there. By the time we got to the main road crossing, the Half Marathoners had completely cleared the start line. At the lawn, we were spotted by some of our friends and everyone looked eager to race. I didn’t warm up any further and with the baggage checked in a short while later, and with wishes of “good luck”, it was time to head to our respective corrals.

The atmosphere crackled with energy and excitement. The event just gets better and better each year. The morning conditions were quite mild and the skies were overcast with little wind. In my opinion, it was perfect weather for racing but I was sure the locals would beg to differ. I certainly didn’t feel the reported 90 to 100% humidity! Once in the corral, I discarded my layers almost immediately. I made the mistake of standing too near to one of the loudspeakers and as a result, nearly had my eardrums shattered by Deek’s customary enthusiastic rallying speech. The Australian national anthem followed next and the 40th Gold Coast Marathon was off and running!

Within a km, Erin, the 3:40 gun time pacer, was already 250m ahead but I stuck to my pace. My goal was to stay comfortable and stay embedded between the gun and chip time pacers till 30K and, depending on how I felt, make a push from there. All I needed to focus on was to manage the fueling and hydration well and just enjoy the easy miles. To my surprise, I bumped into Yaziz around the 2.5K mark and traded some quick greetings with him and continued on my way. Even with the larger numbers this year, the crowd was manageable and didn’t pose any problems.

The number of supporters on the course quickly increased as we approached Surfers Paradise, the 5K mark (25:53). After the first few kilometres, I decided not to micromanage my pace. Afterall, a good race execution was about keeping to the average pace. There would be slight deviations here and there as a result of surges, and slowing-downs (for example at the water stations, possible toilet stops, or fatigue) but as long as the average pace equalled that of the marathon goal pace, that would be fine. The hours already invested running the tempo sessions at marathon pace should be enough. It was about trusting the plan, training and letting those work for the runner on race day. Well-trained, the “Hansoner” will be literally toeing the start line locked (to the goal pace) and loaded (with confidence). There were also visual cues providing a measure of guide of my progress – Erin’s pace flag. As long as the gap between us stayed the same, I knew I was on track – neither gaining nor losing speed.

I used the same fueling and hydration strategy as the previous year – a gel every 5K, along with regular sipping of diluted Powerade from the bottle, supplemented by 2 cups of water at each station.

As usual, the elites came charging from the opposite side of the road around the 10K mark (51:40). Crowd favourite, Yuki Kawauchi appeared to be struggling way behind the 2nd chasing pack and would finish 9th. By then, the watch’s distance reading was already off by some 30m, even though I was running much of the race on the painted blue line, and even some tangents. Nevertheless, that didn’t cause much consternation to me as my average pace was still solidly pegged at 5:10. As we ate up the miles, the level of confidence in me rose as well.

Other than a few visual distractions like the elites and the beautiful beaches to our left, I was in my usual focused self. I did struggle with the road camber along Hedges Avenue dubbed Gold Coast’s Millionaires’ Row. The Nike Vaporfly 4% isn’t the most stable shoes around and do tend to exaggerate a mid to late stage pronation effect. Heading southwards towards Burleigh, I had to run as close to the middle of the road as possible to avoid exacting too much pressure and stress on my right foot due to the inward rolling of the foot. It affected my concentration a little but I tried not to let it bug me too much.

There wasn’t much I could recollect in those early miles except high-fiving Francis who was simply flying with Philip in tow. I was thrilled to see them at the Gold Coast Highway instead of Marine Parade, which meant that I was quicker this year than ever before. It wasn’t much but it was progress for me and it was an uplifting feeling to have approaching the Burleigh U-turn – the best stretch (after the final 1K of the course, of course!) for runners during the marathon. Huge and loud crowds and so easy for a runner to surge only to pay the price 5K later. I hit 15K in 1:17.24 and from 18K to Surfers, battled boredom and impatience. Part of me wanted to be at the 30K mark and get down to racing and hurting.

Staying relaxed before the halfway point. Photo courtesy of Tey ET.
Fortunately, I knew better and when I spotted Calvin just up ahead around 19K and my wayward mind was kept occupied at least for a few kilometres. He wasn’t the only one I saw. My sub 5:13 pace had over the distance brought me ever closer to Erin and I wanted to only get ahead of her after the 30K mark to ensure I hit my primary goal of sub 3:40. As bad luck would have it, she appeared to have hit some problems with her pacer flag holder and 2 runners were seen desperately helping her with the contraption by the roadside. I would learn later that she had to DNF not from the accessory malfunction but from a foot injury 😟.

With Erin sidelined, I ended up passing the 3:40 gun time pacer earlier than I’d planned but it was too late to over-analyse strategies this late into the race. I’d trained for a 5:10 MP, I’ve been churning out the very same average pace this far, weather conditions were ideal with the sun remaining hidden, and I was still good. It was time to pucker up and get on with the race. Other than the sightings of Calvin and Erin, there wasn’t much to write home about. I chugged through 20K (1:43.13), 21K (1:48.24) and 25K (2:09.02) pretty unscathed. The crowds at Surfers had built up and their vociferous support was fantastic. I dropped 5 seconds for 27K but rallied the next 3Ks to pulled back 5:12, 5:06 and 5:09 to establish pace parity.

Just after 30K (2:34.54), I spotted Calvin again and he appeared to be running very well. I decided that I’d better consume the sachet of CrampFix I’d bought at the expo and its tart taste jolted me. To avoid any potential gut issues, I avoided taking a gel here since CrampFix already contained carbs. I took in water as usual and consciously avoided looking over the other side of the road to the finish to minimise distraction. Cleared the short but steep rise (it’s actually steeper than the Sundale Bridge just a kilometre earlier) before the gentle down slope in 5:13.

I’ve to work on my stride length! Photo courtesy of Nick.

The distance from the iconic McDonald’s to the finish was just 10K. At that point, I had run a 2:45 32K and fatigue was starting to creep in. I had finally got to the racing and hurting phase! But first, I attempted to pee in my shorts but nothing came out. I continued to drink over the next few water stations to avoid slipping too much into a dehydrated state. The next 2Ks were hard as I slipped to 5:15 and 5:16 splits. I remembered being upset with myself and questioned my desire. That seemed to work as I dug in and rallied back for the second time from 35K to 38K with a couple of 5:12s and 5:11s. The toughest part of the course was over and it was just about hanging on to the end.

At this point last year, I held back and avoided pushing the pace for fear of cramping but this time around, I didn’t hold anything back. I skipped the last water station and pressed a sustained sub 5:10 pace through the final 4K. Mentally, I replayed all the hard workouts I’d completed, my motivations, the work challenges that I had to navigate throughout training. Learning to tap of this pool of thoughts was a large part of my training.

Coincidentally I found myself running next to a bloke named James and was able to leech off the raucous cheers he got. I didn’t have a personalised bib, you see, so it would be ridiculous to expect the supporters to be yelling, “Go, hashtag GCM18!”

I sprinted the final 300m and finally crossed the finish in 3:38.41, a 9-minute PR.

Intervals, Easy Runs, MPs, Long Runs, Finishing Strong With Arms In The Air – I trained them all!

Here’s to you, Nick! With fellow “Hansoner”, Calvin, who ran a by-the-book and disciplined race to finish nearly a minute ahead!

Official split times, which are obviously a little different from my watch’s.

Crossing the line felt like some weight being taken off my shoulders. It proved that I could pull it off, no matter how impossible it felt like after last year’s 3:47. It justified the months of keeping to the plan and not missing a single workout except for a more drastic cutback in mileage the final week. It made me a little emotional inside but there were no tears. Perhaps I will shed a little some months down the road. Perhaps I won’t. I high-fived Bonza and congratulated other finishers around me. My legs felt extremely fine after having finished this way. As I gathered up my post-race refreshments of fruit and water, I lingered a little longer and enjoyed the moment in the still sparse area. I kept thinking to myself as I sank my teeth into the orange slices, “The plan worked. It really worked!”

Post Race Analysis
The PR was a personal triumph on so many levels. Just 3 years ago I asked myself if 3:58 was as good as it got for me and how running 5:20 pace would be impossible given how hard training had been to even run 3:58. But I’d proven myself wrong last year and yet again this year that with a regimented program, determination, positive mindset, self discipline and consistency one’s limitations can usually be breached.

The Hansons Marathon Method has worked for me for 2 years in a row. Last year’s program was a modified one but this year, I purchased the 18-week plan from Final Surge. 18 weeks was the longest period I’ve spent training for a single event and the most miles I’ve put in. By default, it was also the hardest, although it got easier and was quite enjoyable when I approached peak fitness. All the 3 27K long runs were pretty easy even with negative splits, compared to the week day SOS sessions. To succeed at an aggressive goal, I believe one has to be a little obsessed. You answer only to the program and trust it completely – no races on weekends that will take away the long runs. The 2 tune up races were done early in the program, daily routines became regimented over the weeks and months. I obsessed with data and from the numbers, knew for a fact that my past failures were due to doing too little running, and when I did head out to run, running the miles at the wrong paces. The mind was weak and spirit broken at the slightest challenge. I had no program to speak of as well. This year, I wanted to make sure that I leave myself with no excuses should I fail to achieve my goals.

With data, I was forced to be honest with myself. The first step was to acknowledge the past mistakes and the second step to start working on the weaknesses. I extracted the past years’ records dating back to 2015 and there was no escaping the fact that my training was see-sawing between high mileage weeks and downright horrendous numbers. There was zero consistency.

Mileage tracker of the years. Click to enlarge.

It became clear that with the Hansons, there were more running, at a wider pace range, allowing adaptation to take place. The SOS sessions truly put steel into the mind and body.

I trained to run the marathon at a 5:13 pace but by the end of the training, I knew I could do 5:10. And that was that.

Not only was my 5K splits astonishingly consistent (mind you, I didn’t micro-manage my pace during the race), only 13 runners passed me over the final 5K, while I somehow dropped a mind-blowing 221! It was crazy but that happened!

In closing this already lengthy post, my gratitude goes to Francis who first planted the belief in me 2 years ago and pointing me to the right direction.
Thanks also to Tourism and Events Queensland, Events Management Queensland and HTT for the hospitality once again, for allowing me to be part of the historic 40th edition of GCM and looking out for me as always. My best runs have always been on the Gold Coast! Finally, to my family who gave me much moral support in their own quiet manner. My kids even slipped me a good luck note prior to my departure.
It will soon be time to prepare for my next race, and it will be one which I’ll be using as a test bed. I’m prepared to try new things, learn and chart my 2019 goals from there.

Gold Coast 2018

Warning: This is not the race report but a recap of this year’s visit to the amazing Gold Coast. The race is covered here 🙂

A week on and I’m still trying to get the race recap done. The mind has been in a fog ever since getting back to the daily grind. I need to get going on another running goal soon, or I’ll go mad just dealing with work issues and the 3-hour daily drive.

Considering greater volume and higher intensity, and more days spent training for this year’s Gold Coast Marathon (GCM18), I’d say training went very well, even if I spent the final 2 weeks of training in fear of falling sick. During that crucial period, I was in constant company of the unwell – from sick colleagues to living with 3 stricken family members. The Marathon Gods certainly spared me and blessed me yet again this year with a smooth 18 weeks of training.

The flight into the Gold Coast was smooth and I even got 5 hours of sleep. Arriving earlier this year, on Thursday, allowed us to take things on a more leisure pace. We also got some essential to-do’s taken care of – visit to Harbour Town and the collection of the race bibs – early before the record crowd descended on the popular holiday and marathon destination. There would be close to 400 Malaysians running GCM18 (which was an 82% increase over 2017) and very good numbers from East Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. GCM18 remains popular with Singaporeans, Malaysians and an increasing number of Indonesians.

Once Nick and I were checked into the Woodroffe Hotel in Southport, we waited for the gang who rented a nice house adjacent to David Fleay Wildlife Park to pick us up. The itinerary? Harbour Town Premium Outlets of course! Good thing, the place was just 10 minutes’ drive away. We were all super famished and the thought of sinking our teeth into the juicy burgers dished out by the folks at Grill’d was just too much. And that was what we did, along with some grocery shopping.

Next destination would be the Expo to pick up our race bibs. On the way, we just had to stop by this spot along Marine Parade to grab a few photos of the achingly beautiful sunset.

As GCM18 was the 40th running, a large part of the expo hall was dedicated to the history of the marathon. There were several great buys at the expo but the ones that caught my eyes were the Clif (12 bars for 12 bucks!) and Garmin booths (plenty of happy faces were seen leaving that particular one!).

Naturally, we had plenty of time to catch up with our friends, local and from back home. There’s something about GCM that makes it so welcoming. Yep, it was like coming home 🙂 ! It’s little wonder then that many of us make more than a single visit here.

With the burgers still sitting in our guts, we decided to skip dinner and CY was kind enough to drop us back to the hotel. Before heading up to the rooms, I managed to get some grocery shopping done at the nearby Australia Fair. Southport may be a quiet place to be putting up, but the place has its charms. I discovered several fantastic eateries, truly underrated coffee joints here and shopping for the essentials (both Coles and Woolies are located in Australia Fair) are never far away.

Day 2 would similarly be quite easy with a photo meet up with the South East Asian contingent at the Expo and Convention Centre. Before that, we had to fill up our tummies with a $10 breakfast set at 6729 Bakery just across the Convention Centre. Highly recommended and super-value sets, it’s a place worth supporting. Check out the story behind 6729 here.

Day 3 would be activity-filled! With such close proximity to the race precinct, arrangements for Saturday’s Fun Run were simple. The gang would drive to and park in the vicinity of our hotel, and we will all walk to the start together. It was a nice cool and sunny morning. After the usual banter and countless photo ops (there were no shortage of Marvel Super Heroes!), we kicked off the run positioned in Pen B.

This year’s plan to run a Personal Worst for the 5.7K didn’t materialize as Nick and I had to be ready for our 9:50am pickup for the much anticipated Scenic Helicopter Ride. So after a slow start, I gradually increased the pace from the 2nd km onwards pushing it to MP and below 5-minutes to the finish. My splits were 6:29 > 5:19 > 5:09 > 5:06 > 4:55 > 4:45 for a 30:11 finish (averaging 5:17/km). Body felt good and my mind fresh which were more than I could’ve asked for. Quickly caught up with Mal, who was one of the camera crew this year before heading back to refresh for the plans of the day,

Next up was the much anticipated helicopter ride from Sea World, which lived up to every bit as memorable although I didn’t get my Hollywood Chopper experience (think Black Hawk Down and Apocalypse Now) hahaha! I’m such a movie buff! It was my first ride and the scenery was simply breathtaking, from the views of the coastline, the waterways and suburbs and the hinterland in the distant. We could’ve been flying at around 3,000 feet but I couldn’t be sure as I was consumed by excitement! At that altitude, all the famous spots and landmarks were easily identifiable. The 15-minute ride may have sounded short but it was just nice, by my take.

Post-ride group photos with the Indonesian and Singaporean teams.

Still buzzing from the chopper ride high, the visit to Paradox Coffee was next for a cupping session. Located right in Surfers, it was just a short drive from Main Beach. The set up of the place was really impressive, down to the $800,000 Brambati roaster which could produce 15kg of beans at a time. Paradox roasts and supplies cafes throughout Australia so it goes without saying that they known their stuff.

Their beans are single origins purchased from sustainable sources. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to venture to the other topics such as espresso brewing and the such. Still, it was great to learn more about my pick-me-up beverage of choice. My routine towards to the final 3 weeks of training includes downing an espresso before my midweek SOS workouts! Paradox regularly holds such sessions for the general public, so do check out their website and make the necessary appointments, or just pop over to savour some delicious brew.

After Paradox, Nick and I parted ways with the media group. They were headed to Harbour Town for some shopping and we to meet up with Francis, who had flew in from Melbourne. Coincidentally, Francis had bumped into Hong Kong-based duo Yann Kai and Sheel earlier and thanks to modern tech, I managed to direct them to Lot 1 for lunch. It was fantastic to catch up with YK and Sheel again after my misadventures on the trails of Hong Kong some years ago. There were certainly plenty of hardcoreness at the table with this trio of sub-3 marathoners, but you wouldn’t have known it. They’re just down to earth and often funny folks who worked hard to get to where they are. For me, it was just wonderful surrounding myself with such positive and like-minded people before a key race! That must’ve worked up my appetite because I downed a scrumptious Acai Bowl and a Turkey Sandwich in that one sitting! It wasn’t easy, but I nailed that heavy lunch!

Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped by the arch to take some photos with some of the Team Malaysia runners. Penang was well represented, thanks to the work of our embedded Penangite-in-Coomera, Khoo. We even inducted Sheel as a temp Malaysian!

After the day’s activities and interactions, it was back to quieter stuff and getting ready for the next day. Physically, I was at the best condition I could possibly be. The important thing was to rest up, stretch, stay hydrated and think positive. I may have a pace band printed but I didn’t even bother fussing over it. The race gear’s all laid out and there was very little anxiety. Just a general sense of calmness. The physical and mental work had all been done in the earlier 18 weeks and the race day was just sticking to the plan and see how it will all unfold.

Dinner was an early affair with Nick and Francis at a nearby ramen shop. Food was excellent and to ensure that I was topped up, I supplemented the bowl of tonkatsu with gyoza just to be sure I didn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.

To read how the race unfolded for me the next day, head on to my race report. This one will continue with some photo recap of the spots I managed to see this time around.

The 2 days after Sunday’s race were spent covering the activities and seeing the sights I’ve missed over the years. The planned recovery run on Monday didn’t happen as most preferred to sleep in. The runners had earned their rest and a 5:30am pickup to head to The Federation Walk for a run in the dark and cold, wasn’t that wild an idea. So while Nick and his wife headed off to check out some sights, I decided to link up with the gang. A quick lunch of Shroom Burger at Betty’s was stupendous, deserving of the hype!

We then headed to Burleigh Heads, hiked the trails of the National Park to the Tallebudgera Creek before returning to the group’s home for a feast. Richi, who went overboard with his grocery shopping, made sure the output from the oven were finger licking good while Jeanie’s pumpkin soup was comforting on a cold night.

The planned hot-air ballooning excursion didn’t quite happen though. We were picked up by the ballooning company very early in the morning and after a 50-minute drive towards foggy Canungra and Lamington, the winds still didn’t ease up. The pilots were forced to break the news to us on account of safety. No worries, I quite enjoyed the drive and fresh air and have made it a point to give this place another visit next time!
Before flying home, I still had time to explore The Spit at Main Beach, followed by Southern Queensland and totally fell in love with that area. Pat Fagan Park, Snapper Rocks, Tweeds and we even crossed over to NSW! There’s just so much to see and soak in and I’ll definitely be back to stay a few days there the next time.
Thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland, Events Management Queensland and HTT for the hospitality once again, for allowing me to be part of the historic 40th edition of GCM and looking out for me as always. With their ever ready support, and with those from the GCM Training Group, we were able to extend our assistance and experience to those looking to run their first GCM. The dates for the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon has been announced – 6th and 7th July 2019! Be on the lookout for great deals on the airfare! And if you’re based in Malaysia, be sure to come join our Facebook Page where we publish tips about everything GCM, sightseeing on the Gold Coast and more. Till the next time, keep your running going!

GCM18: Week 17 (SOS Week 12)

Monday
Menu: 11.3K Easy
Shoes: Zoom Span

Tuesday
Menu: 10.1K Easy
Shoes: Clifton 4

Wednesday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 5x2K @ MP-5 secs > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Lunar Tempo
Wrapped up the final strength session! Once I was warmed up, it was smooth going and I needn’t even monitor the watch. Reading through the feedback from the Hansons FB page, a number of runners seem to practise a longer taper period than the traditional 10 days on account that they raced better having rested more. While it’s an easy decision (going by how I feel this morning) for me to continue with the final week’s program of 8K > 8K > 10K > Rest > 8K > 5K > Race, I’m opting to tone that down a bit with 5K > 5K > 8K > Rest > 6K (optional) > 5K > Race. I want to toe the start line fresh and eager to race, and not overcooked. With the much lower mileage, I’ll be able to catch a little more sleep, and boy, as I’m typing this do I need some!

2K Average Pace – 4:57 > 5:00 > 5:00 > 5:00 > 4:49

Thursday: No Running.😁

Friday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 15K @ MP > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Zoom Elite 9
In my haste to get things started I completely forgot to take the water bottle out from the fridge. So the entire 19K was run without fluids. Just a shot of Espresso and a glass of water prior. Dehydrated, but I got the final SOS done! Time to taper and allow the body to adapt.
5:15 > 5:12 > 5:09 > 5:04 > 5:09 > 5:04 > 5:02 > 5:08 > 5:11 > 5:07 > 5:12 > 5:12 > 5:11 > 5:12 > 5:08 (Avg 5:09)

Saturday
Menu: 6K Easy
Shoes: Pureboost ATR
The 10K plan was scuppered due to rain. Managed only 6.4K before it got heavier and not wanting to risk catching a cold this close to race day, I made the decision to stop. Wore the weather ATR for the first time and they felt fine. Certainly didn’t feel the 11.4oz weight. Then had to rush to the pre-departure briefing – good to know that we’ve nearly 400 Malaysians running the Gold Coast Marathon this year! A sports massage session was next and had a good one, working out the knots which weren’t much. That’s always a great thing to hear when the masseuse tells you that. The nearly nightly routine of stretching and self massaging certainly help in the maintenance of the body.

Sunday
Menu: 13K Long Run
Shoes: Pureboost ATR
1 week to the race day! Final Sunday run with the group and everyone is looking forward to the race and holiday. Took it easy as the legs were a little sore from yesterday’s massage.

I can’t believe I completed 17 weeks of training! Not missing a single workout. The only day I had to cut the workout short was this Saturday’s, missing 3.6K. From this point on, it’s all about the mental aspect, focusing on the positives and trying not to let Life’s uncertainties throw me off tangent.

This will be the final training log post until after the race. Wish me luck!

GCM18: Week 16 (SOS Week 11)

Monday
Menu: 8.1K Easy
Shoes: Zoom Span
Legs were a little stiff from the get go but quickly loosened up. 391K logged in the Span!

Tuesday
Menu: 8.3K Easy
Shoes: Clayton 2
A bit of TLC with the Clayton. 326K logged in the Clayton!

Wednesday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 2x4K @ MP-5 secs > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Tracer
Legs felt good and it wasn’t as hard to run at this pace. While this won’t be my MP anytime soon, this does demonstrates that the training has made even running at this pace and effort level possible. This goes way beyond this year and even next year’s marathons. It will be a base from which I can build on. 5:00 pace is something I’ve to get used to running and patient, consistent building are what I need to do to bring myself to that level. That’s a few years’ work right there! 287K logged in the Tracer! This is a shoe that just wants to go fast.

5:08 > 4:55 > 4:52 > 4:48 (19:42, avg pace 4:56) > 6:49 > 4:50 > 4:54 > 4:56 > 4:53 (19:32, avg pace 4:53).

Thursday: No Running.😁

Friday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 16K @ MP > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: VF 4%
Went minimalist, no calf compression, just good old plain shorts and singlet. Pretty much nailed the workout, the second of 3 10-mile tempos. On race day, I’ll be reeling in the pace by running with the pacers, so this workout is basically just a measure of the pace I could still run – hopefully over the last 5K.
5:10 > 5:11 > 5:13 > 5:15 > 5:00 > 5:11 > 5:04 > 4:56 > 5:08 > 5:01 > 5:01 > 4:58 > 5:01 > 4:59 > 5:02 > 4:52 > 4:38 (5:03 avg).

Saturday
Menu: 13.06K Easy
Shoes: Epic React
Legs were stiff and going was tough, even though I massaged the legs last night. Yep, that’s cumulative fatigue for you! Running fast around the same neighbourhood is boring. Running slow around the same neighbourhood is worse than waiting for your turn at some government departments. So I ventured out of the area. Much much hillier (I walked those sections) but at least it helped passed the time/miles. Last week, I said I couldn’t wait until this week is over and now I’m wishing for next week to conclude!

Sunday
Menu: 16K Long Run
Shoes: Clayton 2
Started raining after the 4K mark and conditions worsened with thunder and lightning. Sought shelter twice but braved the weather to quickly headed back to the car for a total of 10K. After a nice glass of hot coffee and slices of toast, the rain had stopped and the weather was just too nice, so Nick and I decided to wrap up the balance 6K and thus saving the need to run again in the evening. It is always more beneficial to complete your workouts early in the day so that you can get your recovery in before the next day’s session.


A 79.6K week and another week to go before tapering starts!

GCM18: Week 15 (SOS Week 10, Hell Week 3)

Monday
Menu: 11.2K Easy
Shoes: Epic React

Tuesday
Menu: 10.3K Easy
Shoes: Zoom Span

Wednesday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 3x3K @ MP-5 secs > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Tracer
A good workout to celebrate World Running Day. Minor pace drop off towards the end, but something I won’t lose sleep over. Something went wrong with the Garmin reading a 5:40 split in the 2nd set which didn’t make sense since the total time and average for that set reflected otherwise.
4:54 > 4:57 > 5:00 > Recovery > 4:59 > 4:50 > 5:40 (??) > Recovery > 4:58 > 5:01 > 5:08
14:51 (4:57 avg) > 14:53 (4:58 avg) > 15:04 (5:01 avg)

Thursday: No Running.😁

Friday
Menu: 2K Warm Up > 16K @ MP > 2K Cool Down
Shoes: Zoom Elite 9
As this week will be the 3rd and final Hell Week, I decided to see how the body will respond – a quick checkpoint test if you will. Instead of the 15K, I opted for 10 miles instead. It’s just an additional KM but I felt that the session would be a confidence builder going into the final 3 weeks of training. I wanted to challenge the mind and train it to respond to the difficult miles. Once again, I ran the workout replaying the GCM course and the supporters’ cheers. I want the mind to be as strong as the body on race day!

5:12 > 5:08 > 5:07 > 5:05 > 5:12 > 5:06 > 5:02 > 5:04 > 5:14 > 5:10 > 5:17 > 5:14 > 5:10 > 5:11 > 5:06 > 5:00 (5:09 avg).

Saturday
Menu: 10K Easy
Shoes: Zoom Span
Keep it super slow as I was able to feel the tiredness.

Sunday
Menu: 27K Long Run
Shoes: Clayton 2
Pushed through the discomfort of stomach bloating to finish the 2nd half of the distance stronger and faster. As usual for the series of 3 27Ks, I took a gel at the mid-point. Easy way to get rid of old packs that were either expired or nearing expiration date. Averaged 5:55 pace for the total distance. Also, good to know that we’ve a handful of BQ potentials from the group!
At 93.9K, this final week would second highest mileage logged in training for GCM18. However, there would be no taper yet. That would be 10 days out from race day!