Coach Ray’s Suffering: The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round….Just Not All Day

Follow me on my Half Ironman Buller Marathon training and #100DaysOfTri journey’s concurrently. Here is how my final week unfolded.

After last week’s mixed bag and accumulation of fatigue, this week needed to be about making sure I recovered well enough to race well.

Looking at my Performance Management Chart (above), there is a big change from last week with my form (yellow line) climbing and my fatigue levels (pink line) declining rapidly. Hand in hand with this is a small decrease in fitness but because I’m well rested the form has climbed high, setting myself up to be ready for a big day at the Buller. Obviously the fatigue line has now spiked when I did the race and my form plummeted as a result of fatigue.


Today was a stretch session to assist with recovery after last week.


This was the only session I completed with any intensity this week. I did a Multi Stage Fitness Test more commonly known as a Beep Test and got to level 12.01 and then completed some Press Ups, Pull Ups and Partial Curls afterwards.


On my way home I stopped at Pelorus Bridge and did an easy run doing a couple of laps of Circle Track, with some time warming up and cooling down on the Totara Walk. Like my run on Sunday I bumped into a group cyclists doing the Kiwi Brevet 2017.

Accommodation Issue #1

When I committed to the Buller there weren’t many accommodation options left available to me and I booked into an Air BnB place just out of Westport. For some reason this accommodation was cancelled and I was emailed back on the 9 January, but I didn’t get the email until I searched for details of the accommodation that I had previously booked on my computer today!!! After a quick search for alternative accommodation I found a place on Book a Bach that was showing a vacancy so I sent a booking request.


Once again on the way home I stopped for an easy jog around Circle track, this time doing three laps and less time on the Totara Walk.

Accommodation Issue #2

I got an email back from the Book a Bach place, which informed me that they didn’t have a vacancy. Oh well, what else is available. Woohoo there is a vacancy at a Hotel right near the finish line showing as available on Travel Bug. I tried calling the number listed to make sure it isn’t an error, but got through to an answer phone. So I decide enter my credit card details and just book it.

#100DaysOfTriV2 Day 4 #run #coachray #qwikkiwi #tritrainingnz #tritraining #tricoachnz #tricoach #bullermarathon2017

A photo posted by (@coach_ray_nz) on


With a busy day at work and travelling to Westport I didn’t complete any workouts today.

Accommodation Issue #3

At lunch time I notice I had a missed call from the number I had rung the previous night about the hotel booking and I also had an email from Travel Bug asking to give them a call urgently. Alas, what I suspected may have been the case was in fact the case and the room that was showing as available doesn’t actually exist. But I was getting a refund of the money that had gone off my credit card. And even better news, there was a place to stay that the manager knew about and I should give him a call. He told me about this tent that was fully heated and had electricity etc… He sold me the glamping experience and based on the other glamping experiences I knew of this is what I envisaged:


Unfortunately my partner and I turned up at 9:15pm and this is what the $120 per night was getting me:


I tried ringing around a few other places to get somewhere else, but alas there was nothing available.


Race day, despite the street noise, town clock chiming every 15 minutes and the old bed I got a reasonable sleep. I got up, had a light breakfast and then wandered across the road to try and catch up with Barb Lowe a client of mine. After trying to call her and it going straight to answer phone I went looking for the bus I needed to catch to get to the start line and as I wandered across the street, there she was. It was really good to catch up with her and travel to the start on the bus with her (although I didn’t get to catch up with her after the race). It was also great to bump into the Barnes family who were doing the half marathon.

Once out at the start line we had a long wait as the road was closed and other things needed to be in place. Here I caught up with my old Rotorua Marathon 4:30hr pacing buddy Pat Stitchbury who was doing her three millionth marathon.

Buller Half Marathon
Hawkes Crag from Kilkenny Lookout

To kill time I went for my warm up early and then sorted out my gear leaving my clothes at the gear drop to be taken to the finish line. Continuing with my warm up, I was pumped and ready to go. Getting on the start line we got given less than a minute to start, but then there was a delay co-ordinating with the half marathon start.

Eventually we were away and I found myself in a group of runners sitting comfortably on the pace we needed to maintain to go sub-3hr. Some of the runners had done that before both here in Buller and elsewhere.  Others were like myself and hadn’t run a marathon that quickly. The initial part of the course was trending uphill for ~8km as we ran away from the finish before turning around and running back down the gorge and back into Westport to the finish.

I met Peter Coates (189) on the run.  Today he posted this photo of our early group on Instagram, that is me second from the right (262). He did amazing and went on to run a PB and a Boston Qualifying time.

This group slowly got smaller and smaller as people dropped off their pace. I was keen to keep the pace up slightly faster than required to get a bit of time up my sleeve prior to the hills at the end. Others no doubt had a more conservative race plan.

I banged out each kilometre in and around the 4:10-4:20 min/km pace including a few that were sub-4:00min/km. With the ambient temperature getting warmer and no wind in the gorge. I knew I had to keep cool and also keep my blood glycogen levels up. As I went through aid stations I would grab a sponge to cool off with and every second aid station I would grab a quick drink of electrolyte. The aid stations at the Buller Gorge Marathon are great. The drinks are all in little squeeze bottles, so they are easy to grab and consume without spilling them down you. The sponges are also fantastic, I don’t think I’ve had a sponge at a race since about ~1996!!!

By this stage we were well ahead of the relay teams (who started with us). Initially having their supporters and other runners in the vicinity meant there was plenty of spectators cheering us on. The further ahead we got the less people we saw. Our group was down to three of us and we were running well. The question going through my head was how long could I sustain this for? I didn’t know the answer. I knew I had the speed, but had I done enough endurance work (which I knew I probably hadn’t). We ran through the halfway mark still on track with a 1:28:23. Normally I prefer to run a faster second half quicker and negative split the run, but with the hills towards the end I knew that was unlikely.

Just through half way there is a bit of a hill to contend with. Nothing too great but big enough to take a bit of sting out of your legs. I surged on with the guys, continuing to track well until about the 25km mark, when I slowed up a bit.  Then by the 26km mark I knew things were going south when I ran a 4:47 km and my average pace plummeted. This was my last kilometre that I ran under 5:00 min (and with the exception of the last kilometre to the finish line it was also the last one under 6:00 min/km!!!)

I went from running well to struggling in less than a kilometre!!! When the two hour mark came up, I allowed myself to take a one minute walking break and planned to continue to do so every ten minutes. One minute walk, nine minutes run (if you could call it that). By the time those nine minutes came around I was hanging out for the walk.

My partner had been out training that morning getting a road ride in north towards Karamea before coming back to meet me in time to watch me finish. She found me walking at about the 35km mark during my walking break at 3:00hrs. She had never seen me walk during a race before, but she gave me a couple of Foozeballs she had in her pocket. They were truly a lifesaver. If she had coke I would have guzzled it!!! She accompanied me back to town, as she leap frogged along the course catching up with friends of hers as she went (bloody West Coasters, they know everyone).

I made my way back into town, albeit slowly with no more walking.

Watch me shuffle over the finish line.


Although I had planned to get out on the Mountain Bike today, due to a busy day at home I didn’t get the time.


Here is a link to last weeks Coach Ray’s Suffering:

Previous weeks of Coach Ray’s Suffering can be found here.

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