2014 Westlink M7 Cities Marathon

Most of you already know that yesterday I ran the Westlink M7 Cities Marathon to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of my first marathon (the same race in 2013) and what a challenge it was.

I knew this year was going to be a lot tougher as not only was I finding it harder and harder to stay motivated when road running these days (as I prefer trails), but I also wouldn’t have the cheer squad that i had last year to spur me on. So my plan was to talk to as many other runners as possible and this year I also had my headphones as backup if things got really tough.

So i rocked up at the start line feeling very nervous and a little under prepared having done only 1 long distance training run on road, as the others had all been on trail. I saw many people I know and also made some new friends while we all gathered in the warm(er) registration room before the race – it was freezing outside!!

I ran into Sarah-Jane who I met at this same marathon last year and we had a good chat. Later she told me that this was  be her 30th marathon…. what a legend!! Go SJ!!

We all slowly made our way out of the warmth and over to the start line and it was nice to know there were lots of others team mates from the Sydney Striders there to compete too (see photo below).

Striders at start line

Tom from Sydney Harbour Runners was also there at the start line with me so I was surrounded by lots of my running family, the best way to start a race!

Start line with Tom

Did I have a race plan? Not really. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself as I know Oxfam is only 4 weeks away, but I really wanted to beat my time from 2013 (4:14:00). And I wondered if a sub 4 hour marathon possible? Maybe, but would that be too much for my body to handle? Don’t you hate it when there are more questions than answers. I guess you have to live and learn and I am still new to the marathon game so why not play along.

The gun went off and I realised there were some real heavy weights competing in the mens field, such as David Criniti, Brendan Davies and another guy (Alex?) who had won the King of the Mountain a few weeks back. They sped back past us after the first turn around point and I was luckily enough to see them one more time at a later stage in the course. Those guys make it look so easy!

Tom and I ran together and caught up to the 4 hour pacer. We sat in neatly behind the group and I thought this sub 4 hours thing might be a possibility, I just had to stick with them for as long as possible. To finish a marathon in 4 hours means that you should stick to a 5’40” pace and this was definitely achievable for me over shorter distances, especially since I had run under 5’00” pace last weekend for an 11km race.

Our pacer was Andrew and he runs with the Berowra Bushies group which my running friend Gavin also does. Gavin was pacing the 4:15 group so I had given him permission to yell at me if/when he caught up to me, but deep down I hoped it didn’t come to that!!

Andrew was great and we all chatted and encouraged each other. Although further into the race a few people began to slowly dropped off at various water stations and hills. Tom, myself and another guy in a red shirt (who was competing in his first marathon) kept hanging in there (see below photo).

group with pacer

The first 20kms seemed to go past quite quickly. I did start the race with calf pain and frozen toes (AGAIN!!!) which was a bit of a struggle but I was determined not to let it slow me down and that the pain would go away as it had done last year. And it did, but not until after the biggest hill of the race, oh well. Our group kept moving and was a little ahead of schedule but it was better to have a little time in the bank than not.

I was so happy to see my friend’s Todd and Erin on the course too, they were in the same spot I had my support crew last year and it really lifted my spirits. I had been struggling to keep up with Andrew but was determined and kept pushing myself more than I probably should have been. So seeing the familiar smiling faces was such a pleasure and I knew that I would see them again after the turn around point, another reason to keep moving and stick with the pacer.

The legs were getting tight and i could feel my hip was not happy with me, but I kept moving and kept positive. I think it was about this point that we lost Tom, he slowly fell behind and unfortunately I didn’t see him again until after the race.

So then there was just Andrew stuck with us 2 amateurs. I told them i was struggling and might fall behind but they encouraged me and I kept with them for a little while longer.

Andrew said something that I will never forget, and even though I had heard it before I think it’s important to remember “the real race starts at 32km”.

I got to about the 38km mark I felt spent. I felt like there was not much left in the legs. I think the other guy was feeling the same way as we both dropped back in pace and Andrew slowly crept ahead, he called to us to try and motivate but I know I couldn’t keep up that pace any longer. So I just kept running as fast as i could, as fast as my legs could carry me. Not sure how I managed a thumbs up for this photo (below) or the smile!!

lost pacer

I saw Todd & Erin again which gave me another burst of energy and Todd let me know that the pacer was not that far ahead, in fact I could still see him and I thought maybe I was still in with a chance… just maybe. It’s amazing how much of a lift you get from having the support out on the course, I must make sure that I try to do the same for others in future.

37km mark

The chances of running a sub 4 hour marathon were very slim now, I had slowed to a 6’00” pace which wouldn’t get me there in time, but it would get me there eventually. Ahead of me I could also see April, another fellow Strider and I thought I was slowly catching her which gave me a bit of a push. April and I played leap frog for a few kms but she eventually got ahead of me and stayed there. I also spotted Enrique, another Strider who was aiming for sub 4 hours, I hoped he was okay.

Then I saw the big lights of the stadium and something sparked in me, there was less than 2 kms to go and I decided that I was going to give it everything I had left in the tank. My legs were hurting, but somehow I managed to speed up and I actually overtook April as I went up the last hill. She cheered me on and I wished her well but I didn’t look back. I made a left turn to cross over the M7 which is the last time I would see the highway and then the course heads downhill towards the stadium for the final victory lap.

I knew that sub 4 hours was out of reach, but I wasn’t going to let that slow me down. I was going to fight till the end and as I saw the athletics track unfolding in front of me I picked up the pace and took aim to try and catch the 2 guys in front of me, one of them was Enrique.

When i got to the last 100m I gunned it. I found another gear and sprinted towards the finish line overtaking the 2 guys with only seconds to spare. It felt amazing! My legs were completely shot and I had nothing left in the tank but I had made it and i had finished strong. Enrique shook my hand and seemed impressed with my finish, I was chuffed.

The legs were very wobbly and I made my way over for some food and drink, then collected my finishers medal & cap, then headed for the massage tent. I chatted to some other runners while we waited in line and then it was my turn. The calves were agony and I almost cried out in pain as I got a a massage. Did he not know how sore my legs were!!! ha ha

I got up from the table and headed for a shower then caught up with Sarah-Jane and a few others while we sat and cheered on the last of the runners. I really enjoyed this part too. Cheering on the people who were out there struggling the longest, it takes a lot of courage to hang in there. People are so amazing!

Happy Running 😀

My 1st Marathon Anniversary

I could not think of a better way to spend my 1st Marathon Anniversary than back on the same course for my second marathon. I’m starting to get very nervous about the race, but will be using it as a training run in preparation for the Oxfam Trailwalker run in about a month’s time.

The course will be quite challenging for me as it’s very, very flat – something I really struggled with at the Canberra Ultra, but this time I am going to be more prepared for the boredom and i may even use my headphones which I haven’t used during a run for over a year.

Picture1

Quite a few of my friends will also be running the marathon, half marathon & 10km courses so hopefully i will get to see many familiar faces while out on the course and at the finish line.

Best wishes to everyone running this weekend.

Happy Running 😀

2014 Sutherland2Surf

It was a very cold start on Sunday for the 11km Sutherland2Surf and the rain was threatening to dampen our spirits as Megs and I took our position near the Start line.

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Two years ago I ran it in 1 hour 3 mins, and last year I ran it with one of my PT client in 1 hour 20 mins, it had been her first race ever and she ran the whole way with a big grin on her face. I was so proud of her when we crossed the finish line last year, and I was even happier she was also back this year to give it another try and run by herself.

I was aiming to get under the 1 hour mark and after pushing myself much harder than I probably should have (as I have a marathon next weekend) I crossed the finish line in about 55 minutes. I forgot to stop my Garmin and results aren’t up yet so will have to let you know the official time when I get it (and update this post).

The race was most enjoyable once I warmed up and got my comfortable in my rhythm. And it was great to see so many people taking on the challenge. My client also got a new PB by 3 minutes, what a legend – go Tishy!!

Happy Running 🙂

 

Please support our Oxfamily

train buddies

on the train

Firstly I want to thanks Roger for taking such great photos, they really capture the fun times that have on the trails and it’s great to be able to share that with you all.

Last Saturday we boarded the train at Berowra Station early on Saturday morning headed for the Hawkesbury River. The plan was to run sections 1 and 2 of the Oxfam course and we were all looking forward to the first checkpoint where Roger’s mum & her partner norm were going to meet us with coffee and food. It was bloody cold that morning.

sign

We got to Hawkesbury River and lots of hikers/runners got off the train and headed for the trail just like us, it’s great to see so many other groups out there training on the course too. We had a little chat with most of the groups that we ran past as they were all walking, and we wished each other well for race day.

Only 6 weeks to go!!

sunrise 2

 

sunshine shot

Emma and Dominic were leading the pack and Roger and I both stopped to take some photos in a few spots, my favorite shot of the day is the one below.

sunrise

The water was so flat up there amongst the hills, such a clear sky too.

lake 2

 

 

lake

We all ran and laughed and joked around quite a lot for this run, it was a great morning and check out our support crew below. I had decided to make a kilt to keep me warm at the stop while i ate everything offered to me (I don’t recommend this, ha ha) – hard boiled eggs, bread, salt packets, coffee….

our checkpoint crew

How good is my kilt?

my kilt

At the checkpoint Roger also picked up his bacon & egg subway wrap and proceeded to eat it during the next section as we ran down the mountain – talk about showing off. Clearly we were going way too slow for him – ha ha

roger eating sub and running

And not only did our run involved running, it also involved climbing up and down rock surfaces which is always fun. At one point I made my own way down a rock and Emma followed me as i led her astray. We got there in the end and it was one of the most enjoyable trail runs I’ve ever had. Thanks team!!

rock climbing

So here is my awesome Oxfamily (below) and if you want to support us you can do so via this link: https://trailwalker.oxfam.org.au/team/home/17564

oxfamily

 

Happy Running 🙂

2014 Shoalhaven King of the Mountain

Last Sundays run felt like a trail run due to the spectacular location, however it was 99% on road. I actually didn’t realise this until the day before the race when I eventually checked out the website, oops!

I arrived at Cambewarra Public School in time to register, visit the toilet and still have 45 mins to spare. And i remember thinking, most of my friends are probably still tucked up in bed…. I must plan a sleep in one weekend soon…..

Start line

The weather was very, very windy but thankfully not too cold. As i waited I ran into Sam and Gavin from Striders and a few other familiar faces. We gathered at the start line under the banner and when the gun went off we all wishes each other well and I promised myself to sit at a nice slow, comfortable pace for the start of the race.

Start line with gang

Thankfully I suck to the plan. This race was 32km and I had not run that far since attempting TNF in May so it was going to be a bit of a challenge, especially as it was road which is a lot tougher on the body. However I did need the road practise as I have a marathon coming up in under a month – arghhhh!!

There were lots of rolling ups and downs and the local Nowra Athletics Club had put up some encouraging (and funny) signs along the road to cheer us along. These were most amusing at times.

I ran with Geoff who is a local and has one the race about 8 times, though he missed last year due to an achilles injury. It was great to have his company for about 5-6 kms as they flew by but eventually he struggled on the hills and I had to let him go.

There was a very rainforest-like section where we came flying down the hill and over a water crossing, this section was beautiful and the photo below makes me look like i’m running on water. How cool is that! (Thanks to specshots.com)

running on water

The largest hill we would encounter on the day was Mt Scuzi, where I met a lovely woman called Tina who ended up running with me all the way to the end. We chatted all the way up Mt Scuzi as we power walked and it made it such an easier challenge, check out the view from the top (below)

View from top of Mt Scuzi

I did not stop at the drink stations as I had my hydration pack with all my goodies, however I waited for Tina and then we headed back down the mountain on the gravel road.

Down Mt Scuzi

We chatted a lot and kept a very good pace as we moved down the mountain, and we realised that we had actually already met at the Mt Solitary Ultra a few months back when i ran with her for a section of that. it’s a very small world within the running community and i love it.

View from Mt Scuzi 2

We ran a very consistent and competitive pace with each other through the rolling streets in front of us and we over took a few people who were struggling in the last 5-6kms. I actually felt better when i got to about the 16km mark and I’ve felt this before so it must take me a while for my body to warm up.

We ran into Kangaroo Valley on the main street (road closures of course) and we saw some people in front of us that we wanted to get past, so we both stepped up the pace and even though there was an incline we were both determined to push hard all the way to the finish.

As I got to the fence at the top of the last incline I heard Sam cheering for me and pointing at the finish line, so I kicked it up one more gear and went past Tina. She was struggling a little and I cheered her on and we sprinted over the finish line.

I had just run 32km in 3hrs 19 mins 12 seconds – I was very happy with that!!

Below is the always lovely Luigi (Sydney Striders) crossing the finish line too.

Finish Line

 

I had a most enjoyable run and will definitely be back next year to give it another crack, i highly recommend it to anyone as it was awesome!!

Happy Running 🙂

GCAM & KOM

Two of my running friends Karie and Samaiya will be tackling their first marathon this weekend at the Goldcoast Airport Marathon and I’m so excited for them. They have both done a lot of hard work to and put in countless hours of training to get to this point and the marathon is purely the victory lap.

I wish them both the very best of luck, and everyone else who is competing up on the Goldcoast this weekend. I know you’re all going to have a blast and I can’t wait to hear all about it!

As for me, this weekend I will be taking on the 32km Shoalhaven King of the Mountain course which will be my longest run before some tapering in the lead up to the M7 Marathon next month.

The race starts at 9am and is about a 2 hours drive from home so it’s going to be an early start again on Sunday, which means early to be on Saturday night for me. I am also thinking that i should carb load a little before this one too, the course profile doesn’t look easy.

Sholahaven King of the Mountain - Course Profile

Wish me luck 😀

2014 Woodford to Glenbrook Classic

bib

Just looked up my results from Sundays Woodford to Glenbrook Classic and I came 15th in my age group (out of 41) – I’m so happy with that. I had so much fun running on that course, especially the last downhill section where I felt like I was unstoppable.

It started out a very, very, very, very chilly morning but I was thankful of the late start time (10am) as it would have been even worse if we started at sunrise like most trail events. So I got a little sleep in and drove to Glenbrook to park the car. I easily got a spot and headed for the train to Woodford.

I ran into a few of my running mates John, Andy, Georgie and met a guy called Joe. We chatted about current training and our next big races and the weather was feeling quite lovely at this point. The train pulled up and I sat with Georgie from SHR all the way to Woodford and when we got off the train it was  FREEZING!!!! The wind was so much stronger up here and the chill factor was – 4, yuck! The only good thing was that it would provide a lovely tailwind during the race, it would be very unfortunate if it has been blowing the other way. We met up with Todd & Michael from SHR for a coffee at a place on the highway and then headed for the start area.

When we got there we huddled near a rock wall in the sun, trying to shelter from the wind as it was bitterly cold. At that point I wished I had worn log sleeve pants and top, however in hindsight my choice proved to be right. (that’s me second from the left with my blue pack)

photo (1)

We talked ourselves into giving up the jackets at the bag drop and headed for the start line with teeth chattering. We found a spot in the sun and wished each other well (after a few photos of course).

end shot

photo

And then we were off. Georgie was super fast so there was no way I’d try and keep up with her. My plan was to use this as a training run so I went very slow and steady at the start, which would hopefully leave me some energy at the end if i felt like kicking up a gear.

The course was fire trail the whole way and there was actually a bike race that started before us, so that’s why we had the later start time. Maybe next year I should come back and do the ride instead? Something to think about as I’m getting a MTB next month – woohoo!

Back to the race. I warmed up quickly and even got a cheer from one of the SES Volunteers who yelled out “Go Hails!!”. At the time I had no idea who he ways, but later I found out he was my friend Nigel’s friend, Eric a fellow Corporate Cup runner.

The trail was up and down and I only walked about 3 or 4 of the hills, they were not as big as some of the mountains I’ve conquered this year! I eased into pace and let people go past me. I had a chat to Anne from work who is lovely as always. I ran past Michael getting a pedicure (and secretly hoped that he would not catch up to me). I chatted to Todd from run club for a bit when he caught up to me too and when I got to the 16km mark I decided to go for it. I put the foot on the gas a little more and decided to use my downhill strength to pick up the pace and start drawing back some places. It worked and I quickly began to overtake people who seemed to be doing it tougher than i was. I looked at my watch at one point and saw that i was running at 4’45” min pace – very fast for me!

The km’s seemed to tick away very fast and soon I was sprinting down the last hill, rounding the bend and sprinting up a small hill to the finish line. I had made it and I had felt fantastic the whole way. What a wonderful experience!!

finish line

I highly recommend this race to anyone, especially beginners as there’s no technical trail sections and it’s not as hilly as some courses. I even managed to get a new 21km PB… and it was on the trail. How awesome is that!

A huge thank you to all the volunteers for making the day run so smoothly, it was a very enjoyable event. Even when the announcer stuck the microphone in my face at the finish line to interview me….. ha ha

For anyone who wants my run details see screenshot below from the Nike+ App, I still can’t believe my average pace considering it’s a trail run, but i’ll definitely take it.

map

I watched some more of our crew come through the finish line and we celebrated with some sausage sandwiches and coffee while sitting in the sun and sharing our experiences. Everyone had really enjoyed the course and vowed to be back next year. Will you join us?

Happy running trailies 🙂