Tis the season to be running

Wow! I just realised it’s been about 3 weeks since my last post (slacker) and there’s been a lot of running in that time, fantastic runs too. You might want to grab a cuppa, it’s not a short read but it’s an enjoyable one 😉

Firstly, I was really happy to hear that ParkRun was starting in Menai on Saturday 13 December and one of my coaches from RunLab was going to be the Race Director. So instead of doing my long run that Saturday my friend Troy and I decided to volunteer and marshall for the first race. If you have never done Parkrun then you should definitely look it up, great for runners of all abilities, ages and speeds (they even have people who walk the whole way), they have kids and dogs running the event every week and it’s a great community atmosphere.  Troy and I decided to run to Menai, volunteer, then run home which meant we would get in about 20km (with a big break in the middle) to cover our long run that we’d be missing, score. It was really great to be a part of the first race and there was a great turnout so hopefully the council will be happy with the trials and permit it to be a permanent event. And our long run was lots of fun, we even found a trail to explore on the way home.

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The Sunday after ParkRun was the Sydney Striders STaR as Middle Harbour, followed by the end of year Awards Brunch. So we all set out for a morning run, had a showers and then headed to the Yacht Club for a cooked brekkie AND I won an award! I won the Super Series for my age group, and if you’re wondering what that is then click here to find out more information. It really has been such an amazing year for me and to get this award really meant a lot to me, I may have even shed a little tear on the way home, but don’t tell anyone.

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Last weekend our Striders 6ft training crew headed out to the race start for an out and back long training run and it was most enjoyable. Maria, Troy and myself car pooled our way to Nellie’s Glen for an early start and to try and beat some of the heat. Lots of others had the same idea so we set off with a big group at about 6:30am. The start of this course is 500+ stairs all the way down to the valley floor, they were relatively dry compared to the other times I have been there which meant they felt a little safer, but these steps have ruined runners for many years, so it’s always best to take it easy for this section. The trail then opens up and is made up of mostly fire trail and some single track. We got to about 11km and then turned back and when we did we started to see many other runners who had started later and it was great to see their smiley faces and have a (quick) chat to everyone as they passed by. I was feeling really strong that day and was charing up most of the hills and really pushing myself more than normal. When you feel good I think you just have to go for it. We eventually got back to Nellie’s Glen and made the slow trip back up the 500+ stairs, it was tough going but eventually we got to the top and we were very pleased with how much ground we had covered on the return trip, much faster than the first half of the run. Well done team Maria, Carolyn, Troy and I 🙂

Photo Credit: Andy Stiddard

The next day I (stupidly) decided to do a soft sand run with my dog down at Wanda and although we had a great time as my dog loves the beach, my legs afterwards were pretty shattered. The accumulation of those stairs and the sand meant my quads were not very happy with me. It had been a tough training week so I eased off a little in the days after and feel like i’m getting stronger.

On Christmas Eve I went for a trail run with Damon and we did around 24km in the Royal National Park. This run included a huge hill near the very end. If you know the road from Audley Weir up to the highway then you’ll know what i’m talking about, it’s steep, it’s long and it’s tough. When we approached the hill I was thinking to myself, “just run as far as you can and then give yourself a break”. Early on we had been moving at a faster pace than I was normally comfortable to run, so I felt like I was struggling even before we got to the hill. But Damon encouraged me to find a rhythm and keep moving, no matter how slow, all the way up the hill. And it seemed to go forever, and ever, and ever….. I was breathing like Darth Vader (his new nickname for me) but I was comfortable and steadily moving up the hill without walking. And the road just kept on going…and going… but I kept on running and eventually we made it to the top of the hill. I had run the entire hill. Wow! I never could have done that by myself and Damon’s encouragement is what got me there so thanks Damon – you really know how to get me to work hard and push myself. What a great run!

Then on Boxing Day, Maria and I headed to Quarry Road for Horrie’s Bush Bash, as many laps as you want. We decided that 1 lap would be enough and so we pushed each other and our pace was much quicker than usual (there seems to be a patter forming!!). We ended up doing our fastest lap ever and were very proud of the achievement. It also meant we felt better about all the food/drink we’d had the day before! Great running everyone and great to see so many familiar faces out enjoying this trail.

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Yesterday I ran ParkRun for the first time ever and I managed to drag along the hubby, my friend Nat (Birthday Girl) and her daughter Chelsea so we were all running it for the first time. I finished in 23:56 and managed to beat my hubby by more than a minute, yay! ha ha Thanks for taking our dog too Nat, I know she can be a bit painful on the lead but she loves to run!!

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And now I have saved the best update for last.

Term 4 of RunLab came to a close with a week of high intensity training followed the next week by our 3km time trial (TT) and I was thrilled with my improvements. The first TT we had done at the beginning of the term was tough and I had run 3km in 14:53, at the time I was pretty happy with that pace (4:58/km) and felt it was a true indication of where I was at the time in terms of speed. So after weeks of training under (majority) Damon and a few other coaches I smashed the TT and finished in 13:05, a pace of 4:22/km – what an improvement! When I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch I actually thought it was wrong as my goal had been to try and get as close to 14:30 as possible….. Ummm, smashed that!! I will definitely be back in Term 1 for more RunLab sessions and I look forward to pushing myself to see how much faster I can go.

Seeing such big improvement and getting results has led me to reflect on all of the running I have done recently. It has really given me boost as I never thought I’d be capable of such things and I wonder what else is around the corner for 2015. It just shows that with the right kind of training, and with the right work-hard attitude you can absolutely achieve anything.

Happy Running 😀

Striders 6ft training run at Narrabeen

Luckily I had some great company for our 25km run up at Narrabeen last weekend and thank god they were with me or I think I would have walked the last 5km.

Our Striders 6ft training group met for a 6.30am start and we had another great turnout for the run. Our organiser Andy has done a great job spreading the word about these runs and he even marks the trail with pink tape so we don’t get lost. This week we also had written directions and we managed to follow them without getting lost, 10 points Maria!!

Narrabeen 25km

The first section of the course was rather flat and there were only really 2 hilly sections during the run, with flats either side of them. So it went… flat, hill, flat, hill, flat. Sounds easy right? Well I can tell you it wasn’t. Okay so it wasn’t as hard a course as the week before at Quarry Road loop but I had not run more than 18kms in a while so my legs were struggling towards the end. In saying that, this was a very scenic run and i’d love to do it again soon.

During the run Maria, Carolyn and I shared some great banter and at one point instead of crossing a footbridge to avoid the slightly flooded road, instead we charged through the water living life on the wild side! (ha ha) We were also channeling our inner Emelie Forsberg (can you see the flowers in our visors in the shot below) to help get us up some of those big hills. If you haven’t looked Emelie up on google then you need to do so, she’s an amazing trail runner and seems like a really kind-hearted person to boot.

Thankfully there was some water at the end of your run so Maria and I eased our muscle pain with a quick dip, it felt soooo good 😀

Narrabeen 25km swim

Photos courtesy of Andy Stiddard.

Happy Running 🙂

Backing off the gas

During last Saturdays run I felt smashed. From beginning to end my legs were like jelly. I felt like there was nothing in the tank and nothing I could do or think or say was going to change it. Thankfully I had the pleasure of running with my Oxfam buddy Dominic and he allowed me to take my mind of running for while and got me to the end. Such a top friend and I wish him all the best for his next race, the 6inch in Western Australia on 21 Dec – go Dom!!

After that run it got me thinking (and worried) that maybe I’ve been overdoing it a bit lately and it’s time to back off the gas a little so that I can let my body recover to grow stronger. Every Saturday over the past couple of weeks I have felt that each run was a struggle and on reflection I don’t think it should be/feel that hard, it didn’t last year.

Sometimes i think I read too much about what the ‘elites’ do, or hear about how much other running friends train and I feel like i’m never doing enough. But we have to learn to listen to our bodies and mine is yelling out for a rest. So for the first time in a very long time i skipped a training session. I woke up at 5am on Monday morning and decided to skip my usual RunLab interval session and have a bit of a sleep-in. I felt awful for missing a session but I strongly believe that my body needed it and the last thing I want to do is over-train an get injured or sick now that i’m just getting back into the swing of things.

It’s hard for me to back off the gas, especially now that running has become such a regular habit that I don’t even have to think about it anymore. Which is great on one hand as nobody could ever call me lazy, but it means that I never sit still.

This week so far has been quiet on the running front, Monday I walked the dog after work, Tuesday I did a slow 6km with Sydney Harbour Runners, this morning I walked the dog, tomorrow I will do RunLab before work and Friday I have (social) basketball at lunch. Then it will be onto a super saturday with the striders crew at Narrabeen, followed by  smaller trail run on Sunday in the local national park (I hope Melissa is free, better message her now).

So please listen to your body and take time to recover everyone, I promise you it will make you stronger.

Happy Running 😀