Southern Highlands Challenge 2014

Although feeling a little stiff and sore from the previous weeks Oxfam run I headed down to the Southern Highlands last weekend to take part in the SHC Half Marathon (advertised as closer to 22km, nice) organised by Race Director April Palmerlee (Pink Skirt Promotions). And after having a weeks worth of rain we were blessed with fantastic weather!

I was lucky enough to score a free room for the night with an old friend from Tafe who now lives in Penrose (10 minutes from the start line), andĀ we spent Saturday afternoon catching up and reminiscing about old times. I must make sure I visit again soon as it’s a gorgeous area and I’ve missed her company so much! She even spoiled me with home cooked spaghetti the night before to help carb-load, how lucky am I!

After filling my belly and catching up on my celebrity gossip (thanks to Foxtel in the background) I headed for bed. I didn’t sleep too well but I don’t think anyone ever does the night before a race so I wasn’t too worried. I woke and scoffed down a crumpet and a banana then geared up and headed to the Wingello state Forest.

Someone had organised for road signs to guide the way so there was no chance of me getting lost (that would come later during the race), and when I got to the entrance there was a lovely display pf balloons which made me smile. I parked the car and ran into some of my Sydney Striders mates Anthony, Sarah, (me) & Andy are pictured in the photo below. It was great to catch up with them.

before the race

I also ran into Carol, Leonor & Mick at the start line – more of our wonderful Striders family.

Start line

We talked so much at the start line that we missed the race briefing… oops! This is probably where I made my first mistake. Leonor and I did a lot of runing together when we were training for the Six Foot Track and she was planning on using this run as a training run so we spent the first lap of the course catching up. And I must say thank you to Leonor for lending me one of her gloves so that I could warm my hands, it was so cold!!

The first section of the course was a 6km loop and at about the 4km mark the whole group in front of us turned around and started running towards us… what the?! Apparently there was a dead end and we had to run up the hill of the other path next to us, so we went halfway up that fire trail and then all of a sudden everyone started turning around and coming back towards us again – what the…?! AGAIN!!

Eventually we got back on track after another wrong turn and we figure somebody must have moved the arrow sign as it was pointing the wrong way. Oh well, I love a good adventure.

When we got to the end of the first loop I saw a friend Ian from one of Hanny’s camps I had done last year, I also saw Sarah and her kids who ran with me and she took the happy snap below. Gavin was there too cheering us on and it was great to have people supporting us and the kids running along next to us, that does not happen much during a race and it was a great vibe.

end of first loop B

I did not take many photos during the run as it was all fire trail and we were mostly surrounded by pine trees, however we did manage to escape the trees during the last few kms of the course and the fog had lifted to reveal a gorgeous day!

6km to go

leaving him in my wake

My goal during the second half of the run was to pick up the pace a bit and try to make up some of the time i had lost getting lost…. and I slowly made progress at this and overtook quite a few people but was cautious not to over-do it.

I chatted to some other runners to take my mind of the pain that had developed in my left knee, it had been a little niggly after Oxfam. They were all such lovely people, trail runners are the best. I even got told by another lady that I had the best butt she’d ever seen, hilarious!!

And I did a few pirouettes… apparently!


I decided to ush it hard for the last 500m and crossed the line in 2.5hrs, not a PB for me but a comfortable run in a beautiful spot. Very, very enjoyable.

finish line shot

After the race I scoffed down a bacon & egg roll provided by the local school’s sausage sizzle and was given lots of freebies by the event sponsors. I saw Victoria Mitchell who had won the 6km race & Brendan Davies who had come 2nd in the 50km race, both great athletes and awesome people.

April did a great job organising the race and it was nice to see that families had been catered for too, not that I have any kids, but if I did they would not have been bored. Thanks for putting on such a great event.

Happy Running šŸ™‚

Australia’s Toughest Half Marathon

The Running Wild Ā Kedumba Half Marathon is described as ‘Arguably Australia’s toughest half marathon’ and (although I have not run many half marathons) I do agree. My legs have never felt like that before!! Check out the elevation chart below:

Kedumba Elevation Chart

If you ask me why I had signed up for this race I would not be able to give you an answer. Maybe I like pain, or maybe I really am crazy like my friends keep saying. Either way, there I was getting up at 4am to drive from to the Blue Mountains to run the Kedumba Walls. And the term ‘Walls’ definitely describes what we climbed that day!

I arrived at the start/finish area about 6.40am to register and collect my bib. I ran into Lise from CHeBA and saw many other familiar faces that I’ve met over the past 6 months. It’s surprising how many people you see consistently turning up to races. And it’s lovely to have a chat about how their training is coming along and recent races, I really like hearing what everyone else has been up to.

A few people I met (while lining up for the porta loo) had competed in the Tarawara Ultra in New Zealand the week before, and due to Cyclone Luisi they had unfortunately been pulled from the race as the cut off times got moved during the race for safety reasons when the weather declined. Both of them were very upset to get a DNF (Did Not Finish) but could see the importance of safety. Frustrating nonetheless, but there’s always 2015…!

There were about 150 people competing in today’s race and there was also a short course option of 10km. I ran into Paul from our Sydney Striders Six Foot training group and we chatted about the upcoming NorthFace100 which he had just decided to enter. We started the race together when the gun went off at 7.30am I stayed with him for most of the race. I almost caught up to him right near the end too!

The first 10km of the course was down hill so it would be a lot faster than the trip back up!! We were so high at the start that we could see glimpses of the fog below us as we descended down the Kedumba Walls. I got talking to John another gentleman who I’ve met out on the trails before. I had a great time chatting to many new and old faces during the race and it’s probably what kept me going and kept me positive.

Kedumba 1

Thankfully the course was mostly fire trail, except for the small rocky section before and after the river crossing at the bottom (which they had added for fun!), I do love a river crossing and my feet enjoyed the cold water as I went through. But before I got to that section I decided that I would count the runners coming back up the hill towards me so I could gauge what place I was coming. I don’t know why I wanted to know what place I was in, it’s not like I am fast or anything, but it gave me something to strive for. I knew there weren’t too many females taking part in the race so I guess I had a better chance than in most races with a bigger turnout. And as I got to the river crossing I realised that i was in 5th place, but I knew it wouldn’t last long.

I made sure I encouraged the runners coming towards me as I went past them on my way back towards the mountain. I was also promising myself to stay positive and just keep lifting the legs. The return trip would be a lot harder and I knew I would have to dig deep.

I ran a few of the less steeper sections of the mountain, but for most of it I walked and power walked. It was so steep in some sections that I had to rest my hands on my knees for support to lift my legs, it was crazy! My legs have never worked so hard walking before!Ā Thankfully there were some beautiful views on the way back down and i stopped to get a quick shot on one of the bends, with about 4km still to go. It was good to take my mind off my legs if only for a minute.

Kedumba 2

Of course by this point I had been overtaken by a lot more people, but not as many as I thought might go past me. I had counted 3 women go past me so I knew I was in about 9th place and thought to myself that it would be awesome to come in the Top 10. So that was my new plan, not to let any other women overtake me.

And then about 2km from the end an older lady called Alma came up behind me and encouraged me to run so we ran together from here until the end. We were still climbing but it was not as steep as earlier and I was determined not to let her get ahead of me. We caught up to another lady who was struggling about 1km from the end and I gave her some encouragement (while secretly smiling that I had overtaken her).

Then we saw the (heavenly) gates at the top of the hill which indicated the rest was downhill and we both sighed with relief. My legs were really feeling it so I decided to give them a stretch out and use gravity to propel me down the hill, I pushed as hard as I could and speed up giving it everything i had left in the tank.

I ended up in 9th place and I was thrilled to have been able to push myself so much without stopping. It was such a hard walk/run back up the mountain and I’m not sure that I would venture out to do it again….. but you never know. At least it was good hill training.

Kedumba Half Marathon

Happy Running šŸ˜€

2013 Blackmores Half Marathon

Last Sunday I competed in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival Half Marathon, which I must say is my favorite course to date.

You get to start in Milsons Point and run over the Sydney Harbour Bridge then snake your way around the city past so many iconic Sydney landmarks. I highly recommend this course to any runner. They not only have a half marathon and marathon, but they also have a 4.5km kids run & a 9km bridge run so there really is something for everyone. I sound like a saleswoman, ha ha

Back to the story.

My Sunday started when the alarm went off at 4.00am to tell me I needed to get up, eat and head for the train station, as my train was due at 4.44am and there was no way I was going to miss it. So I rolled out of bed, being careful not to wake the fiance and threw on my running gear. I had a some toast, a banana and a peppermint tea (which I’ve heard can settle the stomach). Then I jumped in my little Yaris and headed for the station.

As I was parking at the station a couple of guys wearing running gear were also parking their car and we chatted as we made our way to the platform. It’s really nice how runners can just get along, we all have this underlying connection that it very hard to explain, the only way I can explain it is to say that other runners just “get it”.

It’s one of the things I love about running.

As I sat on the train I realised that I had forgotten my Nike GPS watch which really bugged me, but I knew I was really tired and things could be a lot worse (I could still use the App on my phone). You see, the day before the half marathon I played in a mixed volleyball tournament and survived. But I was worried that I was putting too much pressure on myself, so my game plan for the half marathon was to make it to the finish line in one piece. Beating last years time was never going to happen under these circumstances.

When I arrived at Milsons Point on a train packed with runners of all shapes and sizes, I bumped into 2 runners from my Nike Run Club. It was great to have some pre-race banter with them. You could feel the excitement and energy from everyone as we plodded down towards the portable toilets….. oh, and the start line.

After my toilet stop I met up with a fellow Fitness Ambassador from USW CHeBA and we had a photo in our charity singlets before the race. Lise was taking part in the marathon so she would be starting later than me and I wished her all the best. I told myself that I must keep an eye out for her as I planned to cheer on the marathoners after my race finished.

There I was at the start line thinking about the course ahead and telling myself that today was not the time to be chasing a PB, today was the day for being sensible and enjoying the run for what it is. My legs were feeling stiff and sore from the previous days activities, so I was nervous not to overdo it. I think my doctors words are finally starting to sink in, because with Lupus you have to be careful not to overdo it…. and well, i’m not very good at that! ha ha

For the first half of the race I got to run with 3 of my good mates from Nike Run Club, as I managed to catch them in the first km. So there I was with Todd, Janet & Karie (first timer) who I knew were all going to be pushing it for a time close to 1:50, this meant they would be going much faster than I thought I ‘should’ be going, but I would try and stick with them for as long as I could.

There was pain, a lot of pain. My right knee was feeling dodgy and my shin and my calves were so tight and stiff….. it just felt horrible and like it was not going away. I knew it was self inflicted and I don’t like to complain, but it was very, very tough. Possibly even tougher (mentally) than my marathon, which is really saying something. I actually contemplated pulling out about 3-4 times but my stubbornness kicked in and wouldn’t let me quite. We Taureans are known to be stubborn, thank god for that!!

So I managed to stick with my 3 mates for the first 10km, and then they started pulling away from me. I also had to make an urgent pit stop when I suddenly had the urge for a #2 (I know, too much information!) so I unfortunately spent about 3-4 minutes in the bathroom at the halfway point. But felt much better for it afterwards.

I had to keep reminding myself that the goal was to get to the finish line in one piece, just get there. Just keep moving and putting one foot in front of the other. So I decided that I needed to take my mind of myself and use the others runners around me and the scenery to keep my mind busy not thinking about the pain.

So I cheered on other runners & encouraged many people who had slowed to walk. I spotted some people I knew and cheered for them and chatted to them for a short time too. It seemed to help a little and before I knew it was heading back from Pyrmont towards the finish line at the Sydney Opera House.

There was just over 3 kms to go…. and in that spot I got overtaken by a 2hour pace group. Not only was I shocked that I had a chance to make it in under 2 hours, but it helped me fireĀ a rocket up my behind and get me moving to stay in front of them!!

The final leg was in front of me and the crowds were gathered and cheering us all on, so I dug deep and sprinted to the finish line. My time was 1:57 and I was so relieved that this painful run was over.

The tears welled in my eyes. I had made it. I had pushed through and kept going when everything was telling me to stop. That’s what I love about running, I had raced myself and won the mental challenge today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

After the run I headed back to my work office to get changed and have a snack. Then I headed down to the 35km point on the marathon track to meet up with some friends to cheer on the marathoners. It is also about the 38km mark so we knew we’d get to see the runners again as they made the final dash to the finish.

We knew so many first time marathoners and we were all so excited for them! Cheering everybody on as they came past was actually the highlight of my day, as I know how important it was for me when I had done my first marathon.

It was an emotional day for me and I was overjoyed to see so many friends and run clubbers smashing their goals. It was beautiful to watch and I’m so lucky that I get to be friends with and run with such a wonderful bunch of people.

Happy Running:)

A new PB!!

I don’t know how it happened & it defies logic, but I seem to be quicker the further I run. Today I not only ran my fastest half marathon (1:52:05), but it also included my fastest 10km yet (52:11:03)!
The SMH Half Marathon was my second half marathon and I really enjoyed it. It was also a relief to know I can still run that far and enjoy it, especially when there is just over 2 months till my marathon (which is scary).
I was very nervous in the days leading up to the race as my time last year had been a much faster pace than I usually run in training, so I felt like there was no chance I could do it again. My plan was to not keep an eye on my pace and just run to how I felt, that way I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to go faster (or slower) and could just relax and enjoy the run. And boy was that hard! The other reason I had decided to run this way was because my marathon training planner said I needed to use it as a training run, and not push myself too hard. Runners always want to keep an eye on their pace & track their progress, especially for the longer runs – just ask any runner. But I managed to keep my word and I’m thankful that I did.
The course was not as scenic as the Blackmores race last year and it had a few more hills (most of them near the end), but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. It was well organized and I would recommend it to anyone.
I think another one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was because I saw so many friends, run leaders and run clubbers on the course. Seeing them go past and encouraging others (even people that I didn’t know) really adds to the spirit of the run.
Afterwards a few of us run leaders and supporters met for brunch & celebratory drinks. It was great to hear all about the race preparation, planning and the PB’s that were achieved. They are so inspiring and I can learn so much from them.
So now I sit on the couch with my feet up resting the legs. It’s days like this I am thankful to be where I am and supported by so many wonderful family and friends. I love my life!


5 more sleeps!

So today there is only 5 more sleeps till my second half marathon, and although I feel a little behind the eight ball with my marathon training, at least I feel like I have the kms in my legs to get about the same time as last year (I hope!).

As you’ll know from one of my previous blogs my first half marathon was the Blackmores last year in September and I loved it. It’s what encouraged me to keep running and set the goal for my marathon. This weekend is the SMH Half Marathon and i’m a little scared as i’ve been told it’s quite hilly. I’ve checked the map and it does look like it’s going to be tough near the end, but the longer distances always seem to suit my legs better and I feel like the warmer I get the better I feel.

It’s supposed to be a ‘training run’ for me, which means that I should not be pushing very hard. But I know that once I get out there I will want to beat my time from last year. Which got me thinking about how much my goals have changed, last year my goal had been Ā make it to the finish line, how things have changed!

Last night I did the 17km Supercourse for our run club and I struggled for the last 4km. My legs have never felt that heavy and it was very hard to stay motivated for the runners in my group, but we got there in the end and everyone was smiling. By the time I got home I did not feel well at all, the whole train trip home I had felt dizzy andĀ nauseous, so I closed my eyes, sank into my seat and hoped the train would hurry up and get to my stop (it’s a 40 min trip to my station from the city). When I got home I showered, got the fluids into me and eventually had some dinner. I started to feel much better and i have never slept as well as I did last night. I think I had really pushed my body and it was arguing with me. It needed rest.

I will admit that on the weekend it was my birthday and I celebrated with some wine (ok, maybe a little more than ‘some’) but when it’s your birthday it’s very hard to say no, especially whn i’m normally so health & fitnessĀ conscious. But I paid for it with the run last night, i’m sure it’s the reason that i struggled, and i’m not doing that again for a while. I’ve learnt my lesson and it’s back to clean eating and healthy living again.

So there’s no gym for me today, no run or walk, just some stretching and taking it easy. Tomorrow night we have run club again so I have decided it will be my only run between now and sunday’s race. How exciting, I can’t wait to cross that finish line and meet up with my friends to celebrate our journeys!

17km Group - we made it!