The Long Story

My name is Adrian Lazar Adler and I run, even without being chased.

I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia and that is where I started to run. My last stable abode was in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I lived for two and a half years and that is where my running turned from exercise to obsession. Currently I have no permanent base as I travel the globe and run, but unfortunately that lifestyle will eventually need to end.

I think of my running career as having started in 2006. Prior to then I had always been fit and healthy, and had often run for exercise, but had never travelled more than 8 km in a single run.

A New Year’s Resolution

The year 2006 started with a New Year’s resolution: run a half marathon. I found a half marathon in May, started a training program, set myself a target time and finished May having completed it.

But having achieved my resolution for the year in May there were a lot of months remaining, so I needed a new target. I found a marathon in October, started a training program, once again set myself a target time and once again managed to achieve it. It was a rewarding but also a painful experience. I said to myself that I have checked that box and never need to do it again.

I continued to train on and off for the next couple of years, but only entered a single race in a bid to improve my half marathon time.

A Restart

In April 2009 I returned from a 2-week holiday, stepping on a set of scales to surprise myself by weighing in at 2 kilograms heavier than I had ever recorded. It inspired me to not only resume a more focussed training program, but to also pair it with a nutrition plan.

Thanks to the combination of diet and training I managed to fairly quickly shed 5-6 kilograms, leaving me at my lightest weight since I had ceased growing, and the result was that I was comfortably running at paces I had never dreamed of. Then I started setting myself targets.

In July I ran my fastest 10 km race and in August I ran my fastest half marathon. I decided it was time to run another marathon, and signed up for one in October, but unfortunately a work trip would intervene and stop that possibility.

Trails and an Ultra

Towards the end of 2009 I returned home, tried trail running for the first time, and became hooked. My focus was diverted from my previous road marathon target, and I was inspired to enter a trail race. I set myself a big target by signing up for a mountainous 64 km race early in 2010.

I was incredibly under-prepared and ignorant when I started my first ever ultra at the 64 km Bogong2Hotham trail race. The race starts at approximately 900 metres elevation and immediately begins an ascent of Mount Bogong, the highest in my home state at over 1800 metres . I was under-trained on hills and had little idea how to adequately handle nutrition during a long trail race with limited aid available. I suffered the worst cramp I had ever experienced at the 21 km mark, and was forced to slowly and painfully walk 14 km to the next main aid station where I was pulled off the course for missing the cut-off time. The result: my first DNF and some key lessons about preparation.

At the end of January I moved to Seattle in the USA for work, and after skiing my way through the snow season I started running the amazing trails in the area. I rapidly built up distances but was struck with my first serious running injury when I rolled my left ankle on a trail run in June. I was 12 km from my car in the middle of a regional park so I ran back to the car park, driving home to rest, elevate and apply ice to the ankle. I only realised something was wrong when the swelling hadn’t subsided 3 days later, and a visit to a doctor determined that I had suffered an avulsion fracture. The result was 6 weeks of wearing a brace and visiting a Physical Therapist, and it was 2 months before I could run again.

Return to the Road

After finished up in Seattle in August 2010 and briefly returning home, a long-term work opportunity in South Africa was brought to my attention. The assignment would give me the opportunity to see some of the sights in Africa, but more importantly it would give me the chance to run the Comrades Marathon, an 89 km road race that is the world’s largest ultramarathon. To ensure my entry into the race I signed up even before finalising my assignment. It was the start of a return to the road.

I also decided to run the 56 km Two Oceans Marathon, but the entry process for that race required a marathon qualifier. A search on a Thursday afternoon found a marathon that same Sunday that was a 5-hour drive from home. I travelled down on the Saturday, participated in a carbo-loading dinner that night, ran a conservative race that was only 2 minutes outside my PB (still existing from my first marathon four years earlier), and then drove 5 hours home after a brief rest and massage.

Relocating to Johannesburg in January 2011 I set about following a training plan that would take me all the way up to the Comrades Marathon in late May. I started off by building my base mileage, ran a marathon PB to secure an improved seeding for the start at Comrades, and struggled through a tough day to finish my first successful ultra at the Om die Dam 50 km race.

Over the Easter weekend I travelled to Cape Town for the Two Oceans Marathon, and it turned out to be one of those perfect races. The weather and conditions were ideal, with blue skies, a moderate temperature and no wind, and the race provided spectacular scenery. I ran comfortably for the entire race, smiling as I crossed the line to secure a Sainsbury medal for finishing in under 5 hours.

Next up was Comrades, which would be an “up” run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. My main target was to secure a Bill Rowan medal for finishing in under 9 hours, and I was happy to finish with a time of 8:23.

I continued to train hard through the winter, and in December travelled with running mates down to the seaside city of Port Elizabeth for a flat marathon. My target was to break 3:05, a Boston Qualifying time. I felt strong early, passed halfway in just over 90 minutes, pushed through some late cramping to break 3 hours with a 2:58.

Trail Once More

My 2012 started off similar enough to the year before. My mileage was higher and I entered plenty of races from half marathons through to 50 km as training runs.

I returned to Comrades for the “down” run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban to target a silver medal for finishing in under 7:30. I was running perfectly according to my plan until 21 km remaining, when the change from a long descent to the slightest of ascents triggered the onset of cramping. I battled to stay on pace, and managed to do so until 12 km remaining when the penultimate hill of the race slowed me to almost a crawl. The last 7 km of the race was the most painful I have experienced, and I eventually struggled across the line in 7:47.

After Comrades my running focus took a big turn. My main target for the year would take place in August at the Leadville Trail 100 Run, a 100-mile “Race Across the Sky” in Colorado, USA. I built my mileage even further and added in as much trail running as I could. I arrived targeting a silver belt buckle for finishing the race in under 25 hours, and had a stretch target to finish in under a single day. I ran ahead of my pace targets all day, and despite struggling with some technical sections late in the race managed to finish well ahead of plan in 23:09.

From there I have continued to push myself harder and have become more competitive in my racing. At the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run in 2013 I had a great race despite the second-hottest conditions in the event’s 40-year history to finish in 19:25 as 13th male and 15th overall. I have plenty of plans for the next few years, and they will all be detailed here in this blog.

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