Rotterdam Marathon, my next big goal

It is only 6 weeks until the Rotterdam Marathon where I am planning to run my best marathon yet. There were a few marathons at this time of year, such as Paris and London, that my coach and I looked at, but we decided on Rotterdam for a few reasons.

Firstly, it is a quick course and has a long record of fast times with top athletes lining up year after year. The weather should be ideal for a marathon, with an average maximum of 13 degrees during April. Coming from the Sunshine Coast, this is going to feel cold and I will definitely be packing gloves and arm sleeves.

Rotterdam is a mass start race, which means the elite men and women will start at the same time as the rest of the field. This was another important factor for me, as there should be a good pack of guys running around the pace I am after and might prove to be a huge help to my performance. In both the Nagoya and Glasgow marathons that I ran last year, I found myself running alone for a large portion of the race so I hope that running within a pack will keep me on target pace.

With a nine hour time difference and a long flight from Australia, I’ll be flying over 10 days early to allow myself time to adjust. And lastly, there are a few other Aussies that train with my coach, Dick Telford, who are also looking to run PBs at Rotterdam. Being part of a group will add to the experience and I’m really looking forward to toeing the line as a team.

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There have been a lot of changes implemented to my training since being coached only 14 months ago, when I would simply head out for a run most mornings before work at whatever pace and whatever distance I felt like. I’ve more than doubled my weekly mileage and have a real structure to the week, focusing on three key sessions plus my Sunday long run. I’ve slowly learned some change of pace and have improved on my speed-endurance and threshold training (although there is still a long way to go there!).

There are so many things to learn in the marathon, and in a sport that only allows 1-2 races per year for appropriate training and recovery, it is a long term sport that takes years of consistent training to reach your potential. I’m really looking forward to the next experience and seeing what all this hard work I’ve put in over the past couple of months will lead to.

Lastly I’d like to thank all the generous people who got me over the line with my fundraiser for this trip and everyone who has supported me along the way, including my amazing coach, family and friends, my sponsors and all the runners I see out there encouraging me every day!

From Hot to High 

As part of my Sunday run I raced the atlas multisport 10k in noosa  which turned out to be a tough little course on a very hot and humid morning. No PBs on such a technical and undulating course but another great threshold run in the bank – and in the heat – for my marathon training.

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Marathon training on the Sunshine Coast in summer isn’t easy for most, and if you’re not adapted to the heat it can feel like a real struggle! Humidity often reaches 90%, the temperature will hit 30 soon after sunrise, and you’re quickly drenched in your own sweat! But, I’ve said it before, I love it and I know that it makes each of my sessions worth that bit extra.

To give you a little science behind the benefits of heat training, the adaptations your body needs to make to adjust to the hot environment result in plasma volume expansion, which improves cardiac output and VO2 max .

To compliment all this heat training, I’m now at Perisher for some altitude training. We are staying at about 1720m and the run up to Kosciusko about 2300m above sea level. That’s equivalent to only 16.3% O2 compared with 21% at sea level. The reduced availability of O2 at altitude stimulates your body to produce more red blood cells, improving your oxygen carrying efficiency.

When I told my work colleagues and friends that I was using my annual leave to train at altitude, they all thought I was crazy. Yes, it’s hard training and I’m here to benefit my running, but the best thing about being here is the wonderful scenery, the peace and quiet, and the feeling of having all the time in the world.

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So a couple of weeks up high to boost red blood cells, plus all that heat training to boost plasma volume, then a little taper in ‘normal conditions’ and I will be ready to go!

Happy running everyone 🙂

First race for 2015 done! 

The Hans Resolution Run in Brisbane was the first race for the year for me. I felt I needed a good hit out, as I haven’t raced since September and given I work every Saturday, a race in Brisbane is a whole lot easier than flying interstate. Having said that, my morning started at 3:20am with my pre-race takeaway breakie in the car. I managed to arrive in time for a 5K warm up, registration and a quick onstage interview.

The 11K race – definitely not my usual distance – was a little tricky with the steep ramps, U turns, pedestrian obstacles, and some slippery sections! But I still managed to run at a decent pace and cross the line first. And in the middle of heavy training without a taper, it gave me a little extra confidence in my fitness.
It is always awesome to run well and to win but I have to say the 1K with the kids was a great finish to my morning. It still brings me so much joy to see others inspired to run whether they are in Grade 5 or 50 years old!
Thanks to my awesome sponsors at 2XU for the best running gear, made even better with the new bright colours. After a big day, there’s no better way to recover than in my compression tights, feet up, on the couch!
Happy running everyone!

Time for an update…

I’ve been a little bit quiet since Glasgow so thought it was time for an update. But I can’t say I’ve been laying low like many others in their post-Games recovery. This is the time of year that is buzzing with fun runs, and it’s tough to stay away!

I was easily convinced by locals to run in the Sunshine Coast Half Marathon. The start line is only a 10min jog from my doorstep, and covers the route of my weekly long run so I told myself I could “participate but not race”. The run starts with the Alex hill and we ran up it at a decent pace from the get go… I felt comfortable sitting right on Clare Geraghty and let her set the pace for the first half of the race. But then she slowed up after about 12K and I found myself in the lead, still running quite comfortably. By the time we hit 18K, I had at least a minute on Clare, so I picked it up and made sure ran home strong to take the win… guess I was having a crack after all! It wasn’t a PB, but I won by 2 minutes and defended my title from last year’s event.

Only three weeks later I was running the Blackmores Sydney Half as part of the QLD Heat Team in the Australian Half Marathon Championships. I spent the week in Sydney on a work conference and I must say it is a hilly city to have an “easy” running week. I’m the first to admit I didn’t know who my main competitors were, nor what the course looked like until the race brief, as I just hadn’t got around to looking. A familiar start, we went out hard and straight up a hill then over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is just awesome to run on and appreciate how huge it is! Again I was running with Clare but this time she broke away after only about 5k and it wasn’t until the half way point that I caught her again. I was able to run at a steady pace and put a gap between us. By the 17k mark I knew there were no more hills and I could push home strong, although it was quite slippery in the rain and I did nearly fall at one point! Approaching the Opera House was exciting, knowing I was about to take out the National Half Marathon Championship. And once I crossed the line I was amazed to see the time on my new TomTom watch (Runner Cardio GPS); I’d run a new PB of 76:41 on tough course in tough conditions!

Australian Half Marathon Championship Women's Winner Melanie Panayiotou

Feeling pretty happy with myself, and my first National title, I convinced my coach I was fit to enter the Melbourne Half Marathon, now less than two weeks away. This is one of my favourite events, and I’ll take any excuse to visit my hometown. So I have one last race to have a crack at before the hard work really starts! But I won’t lie, I love the hard work that is required for the marathon, and I look forward to making some plans with the Coach.

And with a new World Record set last weekend in Berlin, who isn’t inspired by Denis Kimetto’s sub 2:03 marathon? I know I am!

Commonwealth Games wrap up

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Wearing the Green and Gold as a marathoner at the Commonwealth Games was an amazing experience in itself, but when I crossed the finish line in 8th place in a time of 2:35:01, knowing I’d run a huge PB, I never felt more proud to be an Aussie!

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I was filled with excitement lining up on the start line and I felt really positive that I was going to run a race that I’d be proud of. Lucky for me the lead pack went out on my race pace so I sat in until they picked up the speed at around 13K. My plan was to stay at a comfortable pace and then come home strong in the last 10K. The crowd was amazing and there was so much support for the Aussies. Having my family and so many Australians out there supporting me meant the world, and to hear people yelling out that Michael Shelley had won gold in the men’s race was even more inspiring. It was a great feeling to pass two runners within the final stages of the race to move into 8th place. And seeing the clock stop at 2:35:01 – 3:25 quicker than my previous race – was even better!

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Now back on the Sunshine Coast, I’ve come home to countless messages from people who have been inspired, from kids running their school cross country to adults entering their first fun run. As a runner I love the idea that I can motivate others to get active, set goals, and get more out of life.

I’ve come a long way in such a short time and it really is exciting to think of what lies ahead. Having such an experienced and accomplished coach, Prof Richard Telford, gives me confidence that I can continue to improve as a marathoner and I’m more motivated than ever to do the hard work and wear the Aussie singlet again!

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Glasgow bound!

After a long week waiting in anticipation, Athletics Australia yesterday announced the marathon team selected to compete at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow. I am over the moon to be selected, along with Jess Trengove, Sarah Klein, Martin Dent, Michael Shelley and Liam Adams. It is a great honour to represent the country, and I cannot wait to do so!

What an amazing past 12 months it has been for me! I have had so much success with my running already, and under the guidance of Coach Telford, I am continuing to see improvements week after week. Being selected for the Commonwealth Games is an amazing achievement in itself, and it really is exciting to know that I have so much more ahead of me.

A big thank you to my sponsors On-Running and Adidas Eyewear, coach Dick Telford, and all my friends and family that are so supportive!

With only 10 weeks to go, I am in full training and loving every step of the way to Glasgow!

http://athletics.com.au/News/Article-Details/ArtMID/5111/ArticleID/8202/GLASGOW-2014

Melanie Makes Case for Glasgow

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NOOSA HALF MARATHON RACE: Female winner Melanie Panayiotou shows her class.Patrick Woods

The Sunshine Coast’s Melanie Panayiotou’s Commonwealth Games aspirations have been boosted following her victory in the Noosa Half Marathon.

Panayiotou was in blistering form throughout yesterday’s race, winning in a time of 01:17.17.

The Australia Zoo vet admitted she couldn’t do much more to show Commonwealth Games selectors she was worthy of a seat on the plane to Glasgow.

“Things are looking good for me to make the Commonwealth Games selection,” she said.

“I am really happy with today’s race result and they were great conditions.”