The Comeback: Beaches Unsupported Marathon Series (BUMS)

“My legs felt strong, my lungs felt clear, and as I looked around to take in the stunning water views I started to wonder if I’d missed one of the chalk arrows keeping me on course.  I looked ahead to try and spot Jane and the crew who I’d been running with earlier, but they were nowhere to be seen.”
Mental Note: Don’t forget to keep an eye out for chalk markings on the road or you’re going to get lost Hailey.

A couple of weeks ago I ran my first marathon in over 2 years. Why so long between races? In late 2016 I tore my plantar fasciia in my left foot. Initially it was diagnosed as Plantar Fasciitis which is treatable, so I’d kept running on my foot thinking it would get better. After starting the 2016 Coast2Kosci Ultra Marathon I got to 110km before the race organisers pulled me aside and made the tough decision to cut me from the race. They knew my pace had slowed during the day and it was certain that I wasn’t going to make the next checkpoint in time for the cut-off. They didn’t want to see me struggle through the night only to miss out, and I’ll be forever grateful they stopped me when they did or my injury could have been made a lot worse. After the race I took a break from running for almost 2 months and when I finally took myself out for a run I had instant pain. After an MRI and several doctor visits I was put into a cam boot for 5 1/2 months and since then I have had a long, steady recovery, ensuring that I don’t cause any further damage and pain. To say it’s been difficult is an understatement, but there are worse things in life and I’m lucky to have some wonderful, supportive people around me.

When the boot finally came off in June 2017, I made a conscious decision to not sign up for any races until I knew I was well and truly recovered. This meant there was no pressure on me to run a certain amount of time or km’s each week leading up to an event. I did have several bouts of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) over the months, especially after 2 European trips in mid 2017 to crew at races (Andorra Ultra Trail and Tor des Geants). During rehab an old knee injury flared up and I decided to take up mountain bike riding as cross training to lessen the impact on my joints.  I joined the Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club (HORCC) and really loved seeing the trails from another perspective. I also used a wind-trainer with Zwift at home during the winter months to help keep up my fitness, and I found these sessions quite fun.

After getting a late entry into the UTA22 event in May 2018, I planned to use this as my ‘come-back race’ to get the ball rolling again. However the universe had other plans, and the night before the race I came down with a temperature and illness which had me bed-ridden. But all was not lost. In October 2017 a friend got in touch about a multi-day running trip she was planning for late 2018 and I had jumped at the chance. I knew I wasn’t ready for that kind of distance when I accepted the invite, but I had plenty of time to get myself fit and ready.

I kept riding and running, and in early 2018 I decided it was time to call in the experts. I contacted my coach Andy at Mile27 and he set about getting me back on track and accountable with my training. Finally in June 2018 I for to run my ‘come-back’ race at the Kendall Mountain Run in Silverton, Colorado. It was amazing and you can read about it here.

With all the hiking and running that I managed to do in Colorado, I thought it was time to do a marathon. It would be a good test of my fitness and recovery leading into the multi-day trip coming up in late September, so I did it, I signed up for the BUMS marathon being held on 1 September and I had a blast.

I was one of 15 runners who met outside the Bavarian Bier Cafe in Manly on a beautiful winters day. We each made last minute trips to the bathroom and then I caught up with some running friends who I had not seen for a while. At 7.00am (on the dot) Jane signalled for us to start and we headed south along the harbour towards the trails. Brick & Dave were up front and in charge of ‘chalking’ the course, they would draw arrows onto the road/pavements at the intersections where we needed to turn. Danny Spencer was just behind them and then there was Jane, Peter, Ben and myself. My plan was to stay with Jane and Peter for as long as I could. My coach had told me to run 25mins then walk 5mins, which I’ll admit that I did not stick to. But I knew there would be some walking involved as there was quite a lot of trail and stairs on many sections of the course.

It was a beautiful day to be running next to the harbour and this course followed Sydney Harbour all the way to Watsons Bay. I had presumed it was mostly road, but it turns out the course was mostly trail with only a few sections of road. I love trail so this was great for me, but I had worn road shoes so was a little more cautious with any technical sections that we encountered.

Catching up with Jane and Peter, and hearing about their recent Oxfam run was fantastic. Ben was great company too, having never met him before we spent time talking about past races and what we were both training for.

We caught up to our friend Greg just before the Kirribilli Pub, he had started an hour earlier than us because he knew his pace would be slow and he didn’t want to hold everybody up. Plus it meant he could have celebratory drinks with us at the finish line. We downed a traditional quick beer (well… I had a coke) and we headed out the pub door and towards the Harbour Bridge.

The bridge was full of tourists and we walked a lot of it because it was too hard to try and run through the crowds. Once across we headed down towards The Rocks, thorough the markets, past the Opera House and through the Centennial Park.

We hit a few streets after this section and I started to do some walking like my coach had said because it was much flatter for the last half of the course. My legs felt strong, my lungs felt clear, and as I looked around to take in the stunning water views I started to wonder if I’d missed one of the chalk arrows keeping me on course.  I looked ahead to try and spot Jane and the crew who I’d been running with earlier, but they were nowhere to be seen.

I kept running and eventually I caught up to Jane, Peter and Ben again. This happened a few times, I’d stop to walk and then when I started to run I would catch up to them again. However about 3kms from the finish I really started to slow. My muscles were tightening up quite a lot and I decided not to push it and drop back to take it easy.

I couldn’t believe how lucky we were with the weather. It had poured with rain the day before the race, so much so that I had packed my light-weight wet weather gear in case of rain but ended up ditching it into the car before the start. Roger had kindly offered to get up early and drive me to the start in Manly, a very early morning for him (especially for a weekend) and I was very grateful. I had been texting him throughout the morning so he could check on my progress, as he was also my back-up plan if the body wasn’t co-operating and I needed to cut the run short. But that wasn’t going to happen, I felt great.

Eventually I hit Watsons Bay and made my way to the finish outside Watsons Bay Hotel where our mates were waiting patiently for everybody to finish. They cheered me in and we headed to the bar for some celebratory food and drinks. It had taken 5 hours and 48 minutes, and the best part was how good I felt. I wasn’t fast, but I had achieved my goal to run a marathon and finish in one piece. And getting to run it with such good mates was a bonus. Life is good.

I may have dozed off in the car on the way home too, ha ha

Aussie 10 Peaks Adventure

I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful country and a few weeks ago I got to spend over 10 hours climbing our 10 highest peaks with a wonderful bunch of trail runners.

My friend Dan and I drove down to Smiggins Holes on the Friday with a few pit stops on the way. When we left Sydney it was hot and sunny, but the closer we got to Mount Kosciusko National Park the more fog and cloud covered the sky. We had spots of rain on the way down and when we got out of the car to check out the area we realised we were not suitably dressed and decided to test out our new rain jackets.

We had a short wait till our mates arrived with the keys so we had a cheeky beer from my esky and then went exploring the area. Smidgins Holes is full of chalets that would ordinarily be packed in the winter time, but today it was like a ghost town, not another soul in sight. We wandered to the slopes and saw the chair lifts and ran into a kangaroo who looked at us like we were lost. Or maybe he was just hungry and looking for food.

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Eventually the rest of our crew arrived and we checked out the sleeping quarters at the Clancy Alpine Club, our lodgings for the next few days. I was sharing in Room #3 with 2 girls called Caroline and Kit (both I had never met) and our room had a bunk bed and an upstairs double bed, plus an ensuite. I decided that first in was first served, and scored the double bed for myself, usually I don’t fit into bunk beds due to my height so I was very happy with this!

There was a large communal kitchen with several fridges and cupboards for us to store our food. There were a few couches and a large open log fire to warm up next to (and we did). I got all my food unpacked and kept hydrated as much as possible, plus I had about 4 of my banana paleo cupcakes (carb loading, ha ha).

As everyone unpacked it was clear they were big drinkers! Everyone had brought a couple of bottles of (mostly) red wine and they were stacked above the fridges, I wish I had taken a photo as you would not have thought it was a healthy running group, ha ha. I had brought a bottle of wine but did not think i’d be able to finish it (and I didn’t in the end).

I chatted to Scott Enfield who was one of the founders of the Trailblazers Running Club which is situated on the Northern Beaches, and also David Bristow who had been the organiser of our adventure weekend. I met a lot of other smiley faces and everyone talked about the upcoming run with nerves and excitement.

One by one all of the runners turned up and those who arrived early watched the others carefully measure and pack all of their food, water & gear for the next days adventure. Many were nervous and not sure they would make the distance, myself included!

We got up early and left the chalet at 6.30am. We drove in car loads up to Charlotte’s Pass where we parked the cars, visited the loos and took some photos. It was quite cool, very foggy but we managed to start on time at 7.00am (apparently the first ever Trailblazers run to start on time).

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Charlottes Pass - Start

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We set off down the first trail, quite steep and a little slippery and before long we were crossing our first river (pictured below), that’s me one the left being a fool. I managed to keep my feet dry but a few of the runners decided to wade through the water instead of balancing on the rocks with the others. Tough!

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Photo Credit: David Bristow

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As we exited the river we headed up a steep hill and I was surprised to see small patches of snow on the mountains beside and around us, little did I know that around the next corner there would be rather large patches of snow AND we would be running through them! Below is Richard and I embarking on the first snow slope, who would have thought?! (not me)

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We followed the trail for a few kms and then took a sharp right towards the first peak, as instructed by our navigator David and packed up by our expert orienteer Brook ( who both I must thank for teaching me so much about reading maps that day). We were power walking most of this uphill section and before long we were having our first grelfie (group selfie, ha ha) shown below.

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Peak 1 – Mt Twynam 2,195m

Peak 1 - Mt Twynam

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We then headed back down the peak and were told that there would be a few extra (incidental) peaks along the way, and it didn’t take long until we hit one of those and posed for our next grelfie. Who says you need a selfie stick when you have a great camera and long arms like David! 😉

Peak 1b – 2,136m

Peak 1b - 2136m

Photo Credit: David Bristow

There was not much ‘trail’ on our journey that day, but lots of cross country hiking, climbing, power walking and the thick shrub was quite hard in sections, but lots of fun.

Peak 2 – Caruthers Peak 2,145m

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Scotty and I (above) on Caruthers Peak, such fun!

Peak 2 - Carruthers Peak

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We had all been assigned a buddy for the day, which meant you had to keep an eye on that person to make sure they were eating enough & drinking enough etc. throughout the day. Dan was my buddy and he did a top job! Dan also got the whole crew doing a ‘squat’ at the top of each peak, it’s good for the legs he said as they can rest (even though some of us could not get all the way down to ground due to poor mobility). It got harder and harder to get back up as the day went on though, because the muscles were getting tighter and tighter (ouch!).

And we hit another incidental peak….

Peak 2b – Mt Lee

Peak 2b - Mt Lee

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Peak 3 – Mt Northcote 2,131m

Peak 3 - Mt Northcote

Photo Credit: David Bristow

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I won’t bore you with too much information, but there was a lot of walking involved, so don’t be fooled to think that we ran it all. I think we ran about 20% (if that).

Peak 3b – Muellers Peaks

Peak 3b - Muellers Peak

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Peak 4 – Alice Rawson Peak 2,160m

Peak 4 - Alice Rawson Peak

Photo Credit: David Bristow

And climbing more snow, it was very slippery!!

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Peak 5 – Mt Townsend 2,209m

Peak 5 - Mt Townsend

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Peak 6 – Abbott Peak 2,145m

Peak 6 - Abbott Peak

Photo Credit: David Bristow

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And then we were headed for the highest peak in Australia, most of the group decided to run up this hill but I was trying to conserve energy and stuck with a few of the slower guys while we chatted up the mountain. You could not see the top as you climbed the trail up towards the top, around every corner youthought it would reveal itself but it just wasn’t there. And then it WAS there! And I could not believe the amount of people who were sitting around enjoying the view up there, it was amazing! They cheered us on and asked us what we were doing, several of them telling us we were crazy – what’s new?!

Peak 7 – Mt Kosciusko 2,228m

Peak 7 - Mt Kosciusko

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Here’s me standing on the highest point of Australia – woohoo!!

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We headed back down from Kosciusko on a high, running, and it was good to be moving fast again. We ran on trail for a portion, over some more snow and hit the Seamans hut where unfortunately Scott was having ITB issues and decided to head for the shortcut back to the finish. He was in a lot of pain so it seemed like a smart move.

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We continued along the trail and hit some metal boardwalks, there were signs that said ‘No Running’ which was a little frustrating, but it meant we could chat more and take in the view. And then some of the peaks were a lot more rocky and involved a lot more ‘climbing’ than expected, but it was lots of fun (did I mention that already?!).

Finally a bit of sun came out…!

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Peak 8 – North Rams Head 2,177m

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Peak 8 - North Ramshead

Photo Credit: David Bristow

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Drop it like a SQUAT! This one (below) is for you Dan – ha ha

Peak 9 – Rams Head 2,190m

Peak 9 - Ramshead

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We deviated off the trail one more time and headed up another steep incline, we were headed for the final peak and i couldn’t believe that I had made it. I was going to finish the Aussie 10 Peaks – how exciting!

Peak 10 – unnamed peak at Etheridge Ridge 2,180m

Peak 10 - Etheridge Ridge

Photo Credit: David Bristow

We climbed back down the hill towards the trail and it was a lovely (slight) downhill section all the way back to the cars at Charlotte’s Pass. I had been sticking with the ladies at the back of the pack to make sure they were okay, and I got to run some of this section. It felt so good to run again. I noticed that some of the girls were falling behind so i slowed to see how they were going and to help them along.

We re-grouped at the bridge crossing the Snowy River (pictured below) and had our photo taken by some trekkers from Canberra. We were so happy and excited to have made it and now we just had about 8km of trail to go.

Survivors

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We set off running again and my buddy had taken off, he was no good to me anymore (ha ha). I stuck with Kit who was alternating between running and walking, she looked like she could do with the company and I was happy to walk to the finish if she needed me to. We chatted and got to know each other as the time passed and the rain started to set in. We took longer than I had expected to get back to the cars, but were greeted with big smiles and hugs when we got there. We had done it!

Here’s the group celebrating our accomplishments with a victory dinner and (many) drinks, although most of us were in bed by 9.30pm (ha ha). So many laughs had, and many lasting friendships forged that weekend, it’s an experience I will treasure for many years to come.

the lodge

Photo Credit: David Bristow

Thank you to everyone who came and made it such an incredible weekend. Lisa for organising such awesome accommodation (and your wonderful Dad). David for having the idea and following it through, and dragging us kicking and screaming along (Not! ha ha), and also big thanks to my super buddy Dan! Thanks for looking after me 😀 😀

For more information about time and distance please refer to my Strava upload: https://www.strava.com/activities/433405416

Our wonderful organiser David Bristow also took some video footage with his GoPro, and he has complied a fantastic video (with great & appropriate music, ha ha). Check it out here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN4aX5sa8xc

Happy Running 😀

Woronora Dam 10km

I was having lunch with my friend Amanda a few weeks back and she mentioned the upcoming Woronora Dam run, a local trail run organised by JORG. She was entered in the half marathon and there was also a 10km option that she suggested I should enter too, so I signed up.

The weather on the day was not ideal and I was prepared for a muddy trail as it had rained the few days prior and also on the morning of the race, but that never gets me down. I actually like playing in the mud. The course was unknown to me, I hadn’t looked up the elevation chart but I was assured it was one hilly bugger.

I chatted to Amanda and some other friends at the race HQ and after hearing more about the course I decided that my goal would be to run the entire trail to use it as hill training, I didn’t set myself and goal time and wanted to just go out and enjoy it.

The half marathoners set off first and Amanda looked strong and ready, she was coming back from injury and I hoped she would do well. After a short break it was our turn to start the race, I was nervous but feeling good.

The gun went off and we ran up the first hilly road section towards the trail. It was a tough slog at first running up the wet road and having to dodge other runners, and my right knee didn’t like the concrete too much either.

Eventually we hit the trail and it got hillier, great (ha ha). This was an out and back course and there were mostly downs on the way out, which meant only one thing….. lots of ups on the way back! So I slowed a little and made sure that I reserved some energy for the way back. There were some nasty steep declines at the moment and I knew it was going to take a lot to run them all on the way back up, it sure would be challenging.

It was great to be able to see the front runners smashing it back up the hill as we came down, they looked pretty puffed which only confirmed my fears of how hard it was going to be to run all the way back up!

There was a drink station at the turn around point so I grabbed a water and turned to head back up the steep hill we had just come down. This was it, time to hit the run button and just keep running no matter what.

I don’t remember looking up much on those hills. I had my head down concentrating on finding a rhythm with my breathing, to keep swinging my arms and lifting my legs. I managed to pass quite a few people as I ran up the hills, most of them were surprised I was able to run them and they encouraged me along. This gave me even more determination to not stop and to finish strong. They were some steep bloody hills! I had my coach Damon’s voice in my head the whole time, pushing me and telling me that it was possible, to just keep running, and that’s exactly what i did. He would have been proud if he saw my run that day.

During the last few kms I had the pleasure of running with a young girl called Sian, she was running her first trail 10km and doing really well. We chatted a lot about running and life and it made the time fly past. We were making good speed and I was surprised to note that we might possibly finish in under 60mins, i’d be VERY happy with that considering the hills!

We flew down the last hill both pushing ourselves to try and make attainder the hour. We overtook a lady as we neared the finish line and crossed in 58:37 – wow! I hugged Sian and we celebrated our fortunate race result, it was a great way to end a run!

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After some food & drink I went for a short walk after the run to check out the pipeline and the views, it’s a great spot and i will definitely be back for some training runs.

I waited for Amanda to come into the finish line and chatted to the race director Jim as I hadn’t seen him for a while. Eventually Amanda came flying home to finish in under 2 hours, a very great time!! Go Amanda!!

It really was a great event and you should all come down and run it with me next year!

Happy Running 🙂

(Mini) Megalong Mega

The other reason why I knew I’d be sore last Monday morning was because last Sunday morning I woke at 3.15am to get ready myself and drive to the Blue Mountains for a long run with the Sydney Striders 6ft training group. When the alarm went off I remember thinking about when I was younger and used to get home at about this same time, how things have changed…. for the better!

I met Maria and Troy at 4.30am as I was driver for the day and we headed for the mountains. The chatter in the car at the start was good, although it got very quiet once we hit the motorway.

After a scheduled toilet stop close to the start we parked the car and rushed to catch up to the group that started at 6.30am (we were running a tiny bit late). Its was a little chilly when we started, although once we sprinted down the first hill and when we hit our first uphill we were much warmer.

After the first little uphill section there’s a lot of undulating single track all the way down to the Cox River, which we were hoping wasn’t too high and easy to cross. One year the race had to be cancelled because it was like rapids going through the river after heavy rainfall in the prior week.

So we made our way down to the river and caught up with some Striders along the way. Most of them had not run on the course before so they told me to take the lead, look out! (Did they know I’d gotten people lost before, ha ha). So I led the way down to the river which is about 6-7km from the road and they all followed me across, with huge smiles and lots of laughs.

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When we got to the other side it was the start of the mountains. Some big climbs were coming up and as I was running on tired legs I decided that I wasn’t going to push it too hard today and so walked most of the hills. Most of the girls took off ahead and I ran for most of the rest of my run with a friend Amy who ‘d run with at Quarry Rd the week before. Maria went flying up the hills in front of me, way to go!

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There were lots of uphills and w chatted and ran some and walked some and ran into lots of other runners from other groups who were out at part of a training camp. I ran into Alia who I had met at the Narrabeen Allnighter and saw the winner from the 6ft Track Marathon the prior year, he went flying down the hill towards us. I wish I was that fast!

After the turn around point Amy and I ran into Gilbert and he turned back to run with us too. As we were making our way back up another hill hill we heard some motorbikes blazing up the trail behind us. They came revving up the hill and stopped in front of us at the top of the hill. They had trail bikes and quad bikes, you can see them in the background of the photo below. We said hello and they offered us a lift, very tempting but the down hills were upon us now so no time to rest.

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We caught up to some other Striders and I felt like I had some gas in the tank so I left Amy & Gilbert and used my downhill skills to gain speed and i lost them in no time. Downhill are my strength and I never saw any of the group again until I hit the finish.

I felt like I was flying down the hills and it felt great not to have any knee pain too, sometimes on the downhills it can really smash your legs but I was having a blast!!

I hit the river and decided to sit and soak my legs for a minute as the cool water felt great. I chatted to some other runners who I had caught up to and some others who came in behind me, but I still didn’t see my mates from earlier.

Finally I got myself out of the river and headed back up the nasty trail to the Megalong Road, it’s quite deceiving this single track as it’s a continual uphill battle to the road. I felt good, I felt strong so I kept moving at a consistent pace and overtook a few people which surprised me. I also got overtaken by a few people so my head wasn’t getting too big. But it felt so good to be feeling strong and confident.

I got back to the road and said hi to some friends and other runners who had finished and then made my way to the car for some food & drinks. I’d packed an esky with some of my favourites like Chocolate milk, yummo!! Andy came over to chat and looked a little worse for ware, I gave him a blanket to sit on and he came good. We chatted and made our way up to greet the other runners as they returned from their slog.

I saw Nicole from RMA (Running Mums Australia) and Emma & Scott from Trailblazers who were doing a massive 52km feat that day and were just passing through when I saw them. It was a great day and so many familiar faces, we had a bit of a road party celebrating the long long training run that we had all conquered. It was a great day and smiles all round 🙂

We eventually packed up the car and made our way home and again it was a very quiet trip with a few snoozey people to keep me company. When I finally got home I hit the spa and then snoozed on the couch, a recovery snooze as I like to call it.

Happy running 😀

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 🙂

Getting on track

I’m finally back in the habit of running on a more regular basis and i’m loving the challenges and hard work that I’ve had to put in lately. From starting to increase distance on my long weekend runs and also pushing myself harder and harder at the RunLab interval sessions I do twice a week.

Our Striders 6ft training group have run the Equalizer course (14km) and the Buffalo Creek Reserve (16km) over the past 2 weeks and while I will admit that they haven’t been easy they have been rewarding and it feels great to be on track towards my next marathon.

This Saturday we are heading to the infamous Quarry Road and let’s just say that last year it was not a very good experience for me, however it taught me a lot. The key lesson I learnt last year was not to try any new or exciting (spicy) foods within 2 days before a long run, or you’ll spend the rung making many, many trips to the pit toilet located in the campgroud on the course. But god was i lucky the pit toilet was there!!

Quarry Road is an out and back trail full of hills and the return trip is about 13km. This weekend we aim to do 2 laps and I’m hoping that it’s nice and cool as the track is quite exposed.

And the other exciting news for this week is that my friend Brad and I have decided to run the Narrabeen Allnighter on 3 January. Brad and I chatted about this race ages ago and he contacted me recently to see if I was still interested so of course I jumped at the chance. This means I will be more disciplined with my eating and drinking over Christmas and new year and head into 2015 on a good note.

The Allnighter is set on a 5km trail and starts at 8pm and goes through till 8am the next day. We have decided to run the option that means we will each do a 6hr block. This will be good night training for TNF100 and we have agreed to use it as a training run so there is no pressure on how far we want to get, although Brad is much faster than me.

Stay tuned for more running updates and happy running 😀