Coastal Classic 2014

It’s been 4 weeks since I ran the Coastal Classic and if I had to sum the race up into one word it would be “muddy”.

My Striders buddy Maria and I had decided to run this course together as she had not done much long distance training for a while, and I was still recovering from running Oxfam only 2 weeks earlier. Our plan was to take it easy, keep each other company and just get to the finish line in one piece.

We ran into lots of friends at the start line and here’s a good group shot of myself, Emma, Dominic, Maria & Nigel ready to go and waiting at the start area. I saw so many people before the race and it was wonderful to catch up with them all.

group

And a shot of us ladies catching up on the goss as we waited before the race (Maria, Emma & myself).

the ladies

The start was a very slow one as the gun went off and they were only allowing 2-3 runners to leave every 30 seconds, which meant there was a lot of hype but not much movement. This proved a little frustrating, but made sense as the first section of the course was very narrow and would have banked back anyway. Our bibs had timing chips on them so it meant that our times would only start when we crossed the Start line mat.

Speaking of crossing the Start line mat, I happened to run into my good friend Viv from run club who was working the event and doing the timing. Unfortunately she could not be bribed so there was no chance of a win from me, ha ha

I have run this course twice before, the first time as a training run in Jan 2014 with Sydney Striders in preparation for the 6ft Track marathon, and the second time as another training run with my Oxfam crew only a month or so ago before. This course would have to be the most beautiful trail I have ever run, and I’m so lucky that it’s local to my home. I’ve promised myself to get out there and explore it some more in my upcoming training for 2015 races.

The course starts in Otford, which you can get to via train, and travels up through the Royal National Park along the coast, with many tough cliffs to climb and sandy beaches to contest with all the way to the seaside town of Bundeena.

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Maria and I found the course very hard going due to the muddy trail that greeted us, in fact everyone was commenting on how they had never seen a muddier course!! This meant we were much slower than planned which was a little ffustrating, and I cursed myself for not wearing my grippy Salomon’s as they would have been perfect for these conditions. It had rained quite heavily in the week leading up to the race, but i don’t think anyone had the foresight to know it was going to be this bad.

Still, we all stayed positive and just kept moving as best we could. And with views like these surrounding us there was plenty to take our minds off the mud.

coast behind

maria beach

The weather had gone from cloudy and threatening rain (with some sprinkles earlier on) to a gorgeous sunny day and it got quite warm the closer we got to the finish.

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There were some pretty good shots from the official photographers so I’ve added them here for you.

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And here’s one of my favourite shots that I took from the beach as we were running towards the next cliff heading north, and yes we climbed that one in the photo.

beach run

beach shot

When Maria and I got to the finish we were so relieved to be there, well I was anyway!! I’d felt very tired and sluggish through the whole morning but I thoroughly enjoyed the course. We grabbed our race medals and t-shirts and headed to the ferry for our trip back to Cronulla.

There were lots of people hanging around celebrating their races and I ran into a friend Simon who had actually come 3rd – what a legend. Go Simon! My mates Emma and Dominic had also smashed their goals so congrats to you both too, very impressive especially so close to Oxfam!

muddy feet

We made our way back on the ferry and compared muddy shoes along the way, it doesn’t look too bad in the photo above, but I remember at one point that I trod in some mud that went up past my ankle! ha ha

I highly recommend this course to anyone considering it, even as a training run as it’s very easy to navigate. And it’s beautiful!!

Happy Running 😀

medal

 

2014 City 2 Surf

This year I finished my 8th City2Surf in a row and came away with my second fastest time. And I am very happy with that time considering that it was off the back of a tough 5hr trail run the day before.

We had a whole crew from the UNSW CHeBA (Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing) Team there walking/running the course, followed by a bbq get together at the end to celebrate. One of the team members has entered the race in every year of it’s history, what an honour!

cheba team

My friend Jess and I had some food & drinks after the race too. I didn’t realise how red my face was until i saw this photo!!

city2surf with jess

And here I am with our wonderful CHeBA organiser Heidi Mitchell, apparently I beat her by 4 seconds, hilarious!!

city2surf

Happy Running 🙂

 

Berowra to St Ives Trail Training

I cannot believe how fast our race day is approaching! And on Saturday we met with our support crew for an 8am breakfast planning meeting. The planning meeting went well and I had not met the support crew before so it was great to finally put a face to the names.

After the meeting Roger, Dominic and I hit the trails and ran from Berowra to St Ives, which is checkpoint 2 to checkpoint 4 of the Oxfam course. It was a cracker of a day and we had a lots of laughs as usual, but we missed have smiley Em with us, she is the only one in our crew to have kids, so she is generally a lot busier than us but always gives 200%.

Here’s a few shots of us on the boardwalk during our ron. The first one if Dom and I, and the other is Roger and & I – we’re always acting like fools! ha ha

2_Boardwalk with Dom

2_Boardwalk with Roger

And the bridge was out!! The boys were trying to tell me that I’d have to swim across, but i’m not that gullible and luckily that was not our direction of travel today.

3_Bridge Out

Roger was taking notes the whole way on our trip, timing each small section and giving us an update on how we were tracking compared to our planned times for race day. We ended up being ahead for most of the run but that’s to be expected as we were on fresh legs, however on race day we will have already done about 30kms before we even get to Berowra, so it will be a lot slower.

3_Taking a break to take notes

There were some awesome caves and rock formations on the run, a very beautiful trail.

5_Roger and Dom

Dom was trying out some new energy snacks and we couldn’t get a word out of him until it was finished. He would not stop talking about how good they were so i’m off to try some and might use them on race day too. Cheeky monkey!! ha ha

6_Snacking Dom

A small path section before we hit the trails again.

7_Pounding some pavement

Just before we got to checkpoint 3, which was roughly our halfway point, the view was spectacular. How lucky were we to be out there!!

7_heading into cp3 up the hill next

7_river shot

And while we rested at checkpoint 3 having coca cola’s and snacks a cool army-like car went past, never seen one of these before either. My brother (and Dad if he can figure out how to work facebook) will love this shot!!

8_Taking a break at CP3

And we were off again over the bridge and onto the trails….

9_Taking the bridge

Whilst climbing a very short but steep hill we came across this pile of rocks and i had to stop and take a picture (plus it was a great excuse for a breather, shhh!!)

10_Stone tower on the way up a big hill

We ran past this monument on the Sphinx track, I’ve heard about it before and seen pics but never gone past it.

11_Sphinx

Dom was powering ahead…

12_Dom on track

and Roger took more notes….

12_Roger on track

and I took a selfie! ha ha

12_Selfie

All in all I had a fantastic time on our run and felt a little relieved when we got back to the cars at St Ives. Today was our last long run before taper mode, less than 2 weeks until race day – how exciting!!

happy Running 😀

Oxfam Training run on the Coastal Classic Course

Last Sunday our Oxfam crew (minus Roger who was doing a First Aid course, very handy) ran the Coastal Classic course from Otford to Bundeena. I opted for the one-way version, however our team mates Dom & Em decided to try Otford to Buneena to Otford, which sounds crazy right?! Well I would have joined them but as I had run the M7 road marathon the week before my body was still recovering from that and I knew it would be tough just pushing myself to go one way.

We were so lucky with the weather, it was very cold to start but the day cleared up and got warm while we were running. You should see my tan lines, hilarious!!

The first 5kms felt great and we ran into some wildlife before hitting the first big hill, below you can see a Joey and a Deer (they tried to tell me it was an Alpaca but it doesn’t have the long neck of an Alpaca so I didn’t believe them!)

1_Joey

2_Deer

We also had the wonderful Scott (who is training for GNW 100 miler!!) join us for the trip, he had already run 50km on the previous day so the picture below shows how he was feeling. Great guy and very knowledgeable!

3_Scotty Tired

As I stopped to get some photos, Em and Dom made their way up the hill towards the sunrise so I snapped the below shot, one of my fave pictures from the run now.

3_Sunrise

And of course because I was going super slow Dom decided to take a seat while he waited for me. My legs were feeling very heavy and I felt like I didn’t have much gas in the tank despite my constant food & drink.

6_Dom patiently waiting

And then there were more hills, some of the steps were huge even for 6 foot tall me, I’d hate to be any shorter and trying to climb that one below.

4_First Big Hill

And the view from the top was beautiful. This whole course is beautiful. The coastline we ran past the whole time was nothing short of spectacular and I’d have to say this is my favorite run in terms of the view.

5_Heading North

We stopped at Garie beach for the bathroom and then we kept heading north. I ran ahead to get a shot of the guys who had probably fallen behind talking about food. So here’s Dom and Scott running right beside the ocean.

4_Dom on coastline

4_DScott on coastline

And at the top of the next hill i turned around to see where we had come from, wow!

6_Beach crossing behind us

At about the halfway point we had run into my mate Nigel who had run from Bundeena to meet us and run back with us. So here he is below with Dom and Emma.

6_Group shot

And he Nigel is trying to motivate me up the next hill, I think I was walking a lot by this stage. It really wasn’t a pleasant days run for me, so thank goodness for the views!!

7_Heading north with Nigel

And what we like to call the White Cliffs of Dover…

7_White cliffs no people

My favorite spot.

7_White Cliffs looking south

Nigel and I ran together for most of the last 10kms as the rest of the gang had gone ahead. I had told them earlier to not stop for me as I knew they were going to be out for much longer as they were doing the return trip. Thankfully I had Nigel to keep me moving, as i honestly think I would have walked most of it if he had not been there.

After feeling the way i did during that run I knew that I had not recovered from the marathon yet, and that i needed to take it easy over the next couple of weeks as there was less than 3 weeks till Oxfam Trailwalker. I really need to be in my best shape for Oxfam so my eyes are on the prize and I won’t be letting my team down.

I got home and was wrecked. I ate everything I could fine and then tackled the couch for a snooze, but I was unable to sleep (not sure why). My knees were stiff and my hips were feeling worn out. Later that night I had a red wine and ended up sleeping like a baby.

Emma and Dom managed to finish the double journey in 10 hours and my hat goes off to them, they would have been exhausted by the end but very good preparation for our jorney that lies ahead.

If you would like to sponsor our Oxfam team, please use this link: https://trailwalker.oxfam.org.au/team/home/17564

Happy Running 😀

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 😀

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 🙂

 

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 🙂