Back into the swing of things

After a few bumps in the road I’m just starting to get back into running again on a regular basis, and the time off really did make me appreciate the fact that I can run. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on how far I have come over the past couple of years, and all of the wonderful friendships I have made along the way, and I feel super lucky to be where I am today!

I can still remember the first few run group sessions in the city with my bestie Megan, who dragged me along each week and got me to enter events with her. I remember meeting Todd for the first time, our run group leader who helped push me along and got me running a full 5kms without stopping, a major feat for me back then. Both Megan and Todd have seen me grow from these early days, and supported me at everything from from 5km to 100km events. I’m very lucky to have met both of them and will be forever grateful.

From my beginnings at Nike Run Club, to run leading at Sydney Harbour Runners, to learning the trails with Sydney Striders, and working on my speed with Runlab, I have improved and learnt so much from each of these groups, and I know I will continue to do so in years to come. Every group has offered me so much and the friendships I’ve made along the way are ones that will last a lifetime.

Last weekend really highlighted to me just how much I love the sport and how much it means to me. I spent the day volunteering at the Centennial Park Ultra and I was surprised at just how many runners I knew and could assist/encourage while they were out there on the course. Their smiles, hard work and determination made me really appreciate what we have and are capable of doing when we put our mind to something. The sky is the limit!

So back to my running.

Term 3 of Runlab started 2 weeks ago and I was very nervous about getting back into the interval sessions as it had been longer than 6 months since my last session. The first week was Kenyan Hills and it destroyed me… I went out too hard and had nothing left for the last few reps. I was knackered.

Second week back at Runlab was Time Trial (TT) week, and this scared me even more. First up we did some intervals of 800/400/400/800 and to my surprise my average pace for these was 4:05, much quicker than I thought I would be (especially with my lack of speed training). We then had a short break and got stuck into the TT, which was a 1 mile distance. We all set off and I tried to stay with the front 2 runners as long as I could, which went well for the first 2 laps and then they started to pul away from me. I felt pretty good and pushed myself quite hard so I didn’t have much left in the tank when I finished. My time was 6:33 for the mile which equates to an average pace of 3:45, a massive sock to me as I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast before at any distance!!

The funny thing is, I did’t realise my average pace times for these Runlab sessions until last Sunday when my friend Maria pointed them out to me. I had been feeling a bit down and felt slow on the day, so I didn’t even bother to look what the pace had been, silly me!

So there you have it, i’m getting faster and i’m coming back stronger than before. So who knows what’s in store for me next…. bring on City2Surf this weekend, stay tuned!

Happy Running 🙂

10 Benefits of being injured

Having recently become injured and told it ‘could’ be a couple months before I should run again, I thought I would reflect on some of the benefits that time off from running can have in our lives. So here are 10 of the benefits I see from a little time off from running:

  1. Getting to sleep in on Sundays (but knowing you’ll probably wake up at some ungodly hour anyway and not be able to get back to sleep, ha ha)
  2. Giving your body a well earned rest (I have been training pretty hard for the past 18 months without much of a break so it’s probably good timing really…)
  3. Cross training in the pool or on the bike (which I’ve been told I can do as long as there is no pain, yay!!)
  4. Constantly getting emails from Strava letting you know that someone has ‘Stolen your CR’ (Course Record) for a section & then adding that section to your list of ‘things to do’ when you’re allowed to get back out there (am I alone in this?)
  5. Catching up with non-running friends (because i’m a slacker & usually I can’t handle your 9pm starts – that’s by bedtime, seriously)
  6. Getting to leave the house in ‘real clothes’ (which is especially exciting for me as a full time Personal Trainer who lives in training clothes 24/7)
  7. Getting some housework done (ha ha – wrong, that’s what a husband is for)
  8. Spending hours on Youtube catching up on Salomon Trail Running TV (if you haven’t checked it out yet then what are you waiting for?)
  9. Having time to bite your fingernails (no wait….. that’s not a benefit, I must try to kick that habit, they look terrible!)
  10. Having time to write funny posts like this one on a Friday night because you have nothing better to do (ha ha).

Happy non-running 😀

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Careflight Woodford to Glenbrook 2015

It’s been a long while since my last running blog and there’s a very good reason, I took a break. After 18 months of training for the 2014 TNF100, getting injured, recovering, running Oxfam 100, then more training for the 2015 TNF100, I figured I should really give my body a well earned break. So I have spent the past 4-5 weeks enjoying no set training schedule and catching up with friends and family. There have been only 2 occasions that I have run during that time and both were for less than 7km each (and only as I had to take a run group for work, a great crew to run with). However I have done some cycling and some swimming to keep up a little cardio, but again they were not of a high intensity so i’m not sure they count.

After such a long break I was a little nervous going into Sundays race, a 24km trail run in the beautiful blue mountains, but I knew the course (which was all downhill after the 12km mark) as I had run it last year for the first time and managed a half marathon PB back then.

So Sunday morning I met Maria (my most awesome running buddy) at her place for 6:45am, then we picked up Fran and were on our way to the mountains to park at the finish line where we met Liz & Nigel who were transporting us to the start line (thank you so much guys!). Thankfully it wasn’t as cold as last year, but this also meant that I was dressed inappropriately as I probably should not have worn my long thermal tights. Oh well – too late now.

I ditched the gloves and the arm warmers and we got ready at the start line. Maria and I had decided to take it easy today as we both had done little to no training, but I knew she would probably kick my butt. Here’s a shot of a few of us goofing around at the start (below).

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We saw some others Sydney Striders and had a photo with the group before the gun went off and we were running up the first hill under sunny blue skies. We chatted and wished each other well for the run and Maria and I stuck together as the gun went off.

There were lots of ups and downs but nothing like some of the mountains I have run in the past, so I tried to run most of them or at least power walk up the ones that I walked. I felt great. I was slamming it down the hills and the body was feeling fantastic. I was so happy to be back out running on the trails and felt lucky to be there. I pushed myself a little more at the start than I probably should, but I knew the second half of the course would be a lot easier as it was a gradual decline to the finish after the 13km mark.

I realised early on that my Garmin was still set to Bike mode which was a bit annoying, but after both Maria and I trying to change it and failing I gave up. I left it on bike mode and relaxed back into my run feeling great. Somehow I managed to lose Maria when I was going downhill but she caught up to me again further along and I was happy to see her face. My right knee had started to hurt a few kms back. I had feared that it might flare up again after little to no running or strength work over the past couple of weeks, and I don’t think it had fully recovered since TNF.

From here the pain got progressively worse and I slowed my pace and added some walking (with lunging strides) to release some of the pain, but it didn’t get much better. I decided not to push myself and cause further injury and cruised home in the slowest possible speed to try and avoid making it worse.

I got passed by just about everybody, which wasn’t much fun. But I was still happy and kept smiling and chatting to the other runners as they came past. Some of them even stopped to see if I was okay. Trail runners are the nicest people 🙂

The last 4km seemed to go on forever and I was relieved to see the finish area when I eventually reached the Euroka clearing. There was a nice long downhill & an older lady in a hot pink top that I could not let beat me, so I blasted down that hill (with a lot of knee pain) and sprinted up the final hill to the finish line. I was so glad it was over so I could sit down and rest the knee.

I found our crew and we all chatted about our run and picked a lunch venue for celebrations (yes, there’s always something to celebrate). We ended up the Ori Cafe which is at the Oriental Hotel in Springwood and the meals were fantastic, I highly recommend that place if you’re ever up in the area.

My run didn’t go that great, but sometimes they don’t. It’s reminded me how important strength work is and that you really should not attempt a run of that distance with no training. Looks like some more rest and strength work is needed then i’ll be back into it again soon.

Stay tuned & happy running 😀

Race Report: Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon

It’s here! Last night I finally got around to finishing my race report from the Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon in New Zealand which is almost a month ago now!! This race was like nothing I have ever attempted before, so grab a cuppa and get comfortable because it’s a long one.

They day before the race I collected my race pack from the Rydges hotel which was also the hotel where i was staying. I got there at the start of the rego time and the room was already buzzing with people getting their gear checks done. A lovely kiwi lady checked all my gear and gave me my race kit which included a race t-shirt, race bib, timing strap for my ankle, and some sponsor brochures. I chatted to a few other runners and then headed back up to my room to re-pack my things into my race pack ready for the next morning. Having picked up my gear i started to get nervous and some doubts crept into my mind. It always happen to me before a race and luckily I was able to shut out the negative thoughts quickly as i went over my race plan and goals.

My race plan was to finish, well actually my initial race plan had been to ‘try not to die’, but I revised it and thought that a finish would be super. The course had over 2,300m of elevation which meant it was the hilliest marathon I have ever attempted. There were 3 main peaks to conquer and I’d been staring at the elevation chart for months, as it was on display at my desk at work. Seeing the chart on a regular basis helps me to get to know the course a little better, especially when you don’t have the option to do any training on the course. Looking at it scared me a lot, but I do love a challenge! A friend of mine had taken just over 7 hours to complete the course in 2014 and I thought that seemed like a reasonable time to aim for (boy was i wrong, ha ha).

I spent the day resting my legs which included reading a book by the lake for a few hours, going for a dip in the hotel pool & chilling out watching tv in my room. James (from Sydney Striders) and I caught up in the afternoon and had dinner at a quaint little restaurant called Cow in town that was highly recommended. It took us a while to find it as it’s hidden up an alley way. We both had garlic bread and spaghetti bolognese, good carbohydrate loading food. James had not completed his gear check yet so after dinner he went to get his gear while I went to the hotel and stalled the organisers till James could arrive. He got his gear checked and we went for a cheeky beverage at the bar as it was too early to crash. I had a peach cider (which would later prove to be a bad choice!). We chatted about the upcoming race and past trips James had done around the world with rogaining and running, he has done so much and achieved many great feats in his life so far. I was very impressed (and jealous, more to add to the wish list). We finish our drinks and organised to meet at the bus departure point the next morning.

As i headed up to my room I felt a sense of calm and confidence that would stay with me and keep me strong the next day. I hadn’t slept very well for the past week which always happens when i’m away from home. I had visited Auckland for 3 days, plus had a side trip to Christchurch for the Foo Fighters concert (which was awesome!!) and had arrived in Queenstown with 2 days of planned rest before the race. And thankfully I got a good sleep that night (which is rare before a race) so i woke feeling ready to go.

When I got up I had some breakfast (honey on bread and a banana), took a shower and got dressed ready to race. I was wearing my Brooks Adrenaline Trail shoes, BSC compression tights (long) and my Running Wild t-shirt, as it’s the most comfortable running shirt I own (you don’t want something that rubs or is uncomfortable when you know you’re going to be out there a long time). I also had my Salomon S-Lab 12 Hydration Back pack and my fuel for the day would be water (only carried 1L as plenty of aid stations on the course), SIS gels (Orange & Tropical flavor) & Shotz mixed with water in my front 2 flasks (for electrolytes). I have been using this combination with good results for the past year or so, and I wasn’t going to change anything now. I also packed a bag for the finish with some dry clothes and thongs to change into, plus a large feather down jacket in case it got cold.

Once I was ready I headed down to the Queenstown Rafting store where the bus was collecting us at 6.15am, and within a few minutes James turned up and we nervously chatted about our race plans. We managed to score a seat on the first bus out of town which meant that we would also be first in line for the toilets at the start point, score!!

The bus trip to the start line was an experience in itself. Once we got off the main road it was all single fire trail to the start area in Skippers Canyon. The driver was probably going a little too fast for my liking but I guessed that he drove this route a lot so was confident and knew where he was going. I felt a bit of motion sickness halfway through the journey, so there was some very deep breathing took place, especially when you looked out the window and there was a massive (gigantic) drop right next to the bus and i tried not to picture us plummeting to our deaths – eeeeek!

We got to the start area (below picture) and I visited the ladies (the first of 3 trips before the start) before the other runners arrived. The 30km and marathon runners all started at the same point so it was nice to have a big crew assembled here together. I was lucky enough to be given a GPS tracker for the race (thanks Adrian!!), but didn’t have time (or reception) to let anyone back home know about it. So after my final pit stop, James and I lined up to cross the bridge which took us to the start line. It was a very high bridge that used to be used for Bungy, and the more I looked at it the more scared I got. I hate heights and nobody had mentioned this bridge to me. It wasn’t in the race briefing document. Shit!

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The next thing I know i’m on the bridge (pictured below), i’m hyperventilating and crying and being steered over to the other side by a lovely lady who I had grabbed, while James made encouraging comments pushing me along. The bridge swayed and bounced and I thought I was going to die. The only thing that kept me moving was the fact that I HAD to cross the bridge to get to the start line, if I didn’t cross the bridge then my whole trip would be for nothing.

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I made it over the bridge and i thanked and apologised profusely to the people around me, as I’d never experienced or felt anything like that before. I think it was a panic attack. It was like my mind was out of control and fighting my body that didn’t want to cooperate. I honestly don’t know how I made it to the other side of that bridge, but thankfully I did. And I did not die. I later learnt this bridge was 71 meters above the river below and 95 meters in length, and used to be the highest bungee bridge jump in the world (until Pipeline Bungy’s 103 meter which is just down the road). Below is the view of bridge from the start line, bloody high up if you ask me!!

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We all made our way down the hill to the (beach) start and the views were already amazing (below). This was going to be one GREAT race!

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Race Director Adrian Bailey gave us the obligatory pre-race information and wished us all well before sending us on our merry way.The energy at the start line was fantastic!

First up was a short soft sand hill followed by the first of many hills to come. The only flat(ish) section of this course was the last few (gradual uphill) kms into the finish at Moke Lake, I was looking forward to that section but it was a long, long way off.

Once we got up the first little hill there was a brief flat(ter) section then another climb, check out the runner-ants in the picture below.

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I actually ran over an carcass of some animal during the first couple of kms, I think it was a deer but I didn’t look that closely, all I saw was a lot of fur and horns. Gross!

We crossed a few creeks early on and i chatted to a guy from the Terrigal Trotters, actually I was talking so much that i probably wasn’t paying enough attention to the trail and fell off the side of the mountain at about 6km! I clung to the long grass that grew onto the side of the mountain so I didn’t fall too far, but it was a close call. It reminded me to focus and get into race mode. I must have twisted/jarred my finger when i fell too as it throbbed for the rest of the race (and still feels sore even today).

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The scenery is hard to describe with words, breathtaking comes to mind. And although my coach will kill me for stopping to take photos, I only ever took one photo of the same view and never stopped for longer than 4-5 seconds (well almost, but i’ll talk about that later).

I think it was at about this point we lost the 30km runners as they went a different direction, and then I came up to 2 huge rocks with officials standing on them to help people up. When I got to the rocks he said they were here to help us if we couldn’t climb up the rocks, but my stubborness and will to not be beaten overtook and I scrambled up the rocks unassisted. There!!

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The mountains were nothing like what we have back home. Here the hills were exposed and vulnerable, not covered in trees and shrubs and protected. It was brown and there was long (slippery) grass and goat tracks to content with, and boy did they test your patience. The thin goat tracks were what i like to call ankle grinders. Imagine a thin gutter that’s the width of your foot (barely) and then try to run along inside that gutter for hours, one foot immediately in front of the other. It’s hard work, and i kept kicking the inside of my other ankle which hurt like hell after doing it a thousand times. I had to pick up my feet, something Damon (my coach) was always saying to me. I should probably listen to him more often.

My plan had been to run a lot more of the course than I ended up doing, but this was purely because the trail (if you could call it that) was not runnable. One guy behind me was swearing and cursing at the ground as he tried to run along and kept tripping, and i could feel his pain. We were all going through the same motions. I did gain a little more confidence on the goat tracks later in the race, but having never run on anything like this meant I was not prepared.

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It was at this point that my stomach felt like I needed a number 2 badly. It has been building up and i’d been trying to ignore it, but damn that ‘peach cider’ from the night before, i knew I should have avoided it. I finally came to an area covered in trees and made my way into the scrub for a pitstop. Thankfully it was just a fart (ha ha), so i pulled up my pants and ran back up onto the trail before anybody could spot me.

We ran along bluffs and ridgelines and I chatted to other runners along the way, many of which were doing this race as their first marathon – talk about picking a tough course for your first marathon!! And you thought I was crazy 😉

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After this hill we had a tricky downhill section to conquer and I nailed it. I passed about 10-15 runners as I got my confidence on the goat tracks and flew down the hill. I felt really good here but halted at the bottom when I saw an awful skinny bridge crossing, but pushed myself to cross it quickly without thinking too much!

Just like the views, the climbs were endless. I ran along through rainforests and on top of giants (what I like to call the mountains) and I met 2 runners from RunLab in Newcastle (below). I think there names were Clint and Karen. Karen (?) was training for the Anzac Ultra in May and I stuck with them for quite a long time during the run. It was nice to have their company and hear Clint getting yelled at (ha ha). We stopped for a few quick photos (below) before heading down the side of a sandy scree hill.

How much fun was the scree…?!?! I laughed like a 10 years old as I was slipping and sliding down that scree slope. With every step I moved about 4 metres down the hill. It felt like my feet were skis and I laughed loudly all the way down. If only all of the downhill sections were that easy.

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My gaiters survived the scree slope (thanks Carolyn from Trail Gaiters) which was an amazig accomplishment! After the scree slope we made a few more river crossings, including a river that we had to wade through for a section, before climbing a ladder up to the next section (A ladder!! Just as nature intended it, ha ha).

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We saw waterfalls and gorges and I started to feel very tight and my legs were feeling pretty shattered when I got to the halfway point at the Ben Lomond Station, it had taken me dead on 4hrs just to get there, insane!! I remember wondering how the heck my legs were going to cope for another 21kms of punishment but only time would tell.

I kept telling myself to toughen up and “Just F**king Run?”!! And when you looked up around you, there really was nothing to be complaining about…..

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Just after the halfway point there was a checkpoint at the bottom of a very large mountain, my legs were not feeling very good (they were smashed from the huge descent) when i got to the bottom of this hill but I was delighted to see Anna Frost, an ultra running god (see below pic). She was assisting at the aid station and I chatted to her about her win at this race last year and tips for the rest of the course. She explained the next few climbs and the terrain and encouraged us all there to get moving again. Seeing her was a great motivator to get my butt back into race mode and moving up the next hill. And I overtook a few people as i power walked up the next climb, including a guy from Sweden who has raced all over the world.

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The biggest climb of the race was coming up so I backed off a little and prepared myself for that, a 6km steep climb to the highest point of the race. I think it was about this point that i started to hear the helicopters again too, so I waved at a couple of them.

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When I got to the top of that hill i felt dizzy and out of breath, so i decided to sit down and get some food and water into me. I stayed there for about 5 mins and chatted to the girls manning the water station here. They told me how they had been flown into the location, and that the helicopter didn’t actually land, they just had to jump out with the gear and duck for cover. Incredible!!

I can’t remember much of the last part of the run and i’m not sure if that’s because it was so much like the first part, or because I was struggling and have put it out of my memory.  The backs of my legs were feeling very tight and on  couple of occasions i stopped to stretch which seemed to help a little.

There was a group of about 5-6 runners who had been ahead of me and i had been chasing for a few hours. Just when I thought I was getting close they’d somehow get ahead of me again. So when they stopped at the last aid station for food and refills I flew past them and carried on up the hill trying to put some distance between me and them. It worked, as I never saw them again!

There was lots of uphill and more downhill, and I lost count of the river crossings. When i finally got to the last flat(ish) runnable section I was so relieved that I could finally run at a consistent pace. There were a few (thousand) river crossings that slowed me down, but the rest was wide fire trail, slightly uphill all the way to the finish line. I remember stopping to drink from all of the creeks because the water in my pack was hot and the rivers we went through were icey cold, the water was so refreshing as I cupped it in my hands and drank away.

I remember looking behind me at one point and seeing a another lady closing in on me and I was determined not to let her pass me. i kicked it up a notch (god knows where the energy came from) and kept checking behind me to see if she was gaining or not. Eventually i lost her and caught up to some other male runners who were struggling. I passed another 4 or 5 runners on my way to the finish line and was so excited when I saw the shed next to the finish that I started crying.

Luckily nobody could tell I was crying as it was now sprinkling with rain. I saw a few walkers coming back towards me and they cheered me on. I was going to make it, how amazing! I ran my little heart out up that last hill, with many spectators and runners cheering me home.

I crossed the line and Adrian gave me a hug to congratulate me on the race. I had tears in my eyes and the biggest grin on my face, wow – I had really done it! What an amazing race!

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After getting my finishers medal and free beer I headed for the heated spa (yes, how cool is that) and went for a quick dip in my undies and bra. It was so nice and warm and i thought I was never going to get out of there as the temperature had really dropped so it was getting quite cool now.

Eventually i dragged myself out of the tub after some banter with other runners doing the same. I put on my warm, dry clothes and got myself some food and a coke (it’s my reward to myself after a race, I love it but it’s so bad for you). They were about to stop selling food and James wasn’t even back yet so i saved some of my sushi in case.

I rested my weary body in the big shed and watched the presentations to the winners. James walked in about halfway through and I gave him some food and drink (he was very thankful). We chatted about our races and the course and scored a lift back to Queenstown with a lovely couple from the Central Coast.

When I got back to the hotel I had a quick shower (which revealed a large chaffing spot from my ripped tights, ouch!!) and sat on the bed to ring my hubby and my mum. I cried as I told them my news and they were very happy and excited to hear from me. What an incredible day! I was completely shattered and feeling exhausted but i felt on top of the world!

Somehow I dragged myself into the main part of town for some dinner/drinks with other runners. When I got there James had met some other runners Diane and Jill (plus her adorable family) and we ended up joining them at the same Italian restaurant I’d eaten at 2 night’s before (it was a great restaurant so I didn’t mind).

Diana, Jill, James and I got on like a house on fire! They were such great company and we shared many laughs and stories about this run and others we had done. We were so lucky to have met them and I know we will be in touch for many years to come.

I had the most rewarding experience for my first overseas marathon. And I highly recommend this race to anyone who has contemplated registering, it’s bloody tough but totally worth all the hard work. I’ll never forget the amazing views, the scary heights and the wonderful people I’ve met along the way.

Happy running 😀

Checking in

Last week I cam down with a sinus infection and it knocked me off my feet. I spent a good 4 days sleeping and even though i’m only just starting to feel human again, I’ve got a lot to look forward to. You see tomorrow I fly out to New Zealand and next weekend I will run my first overseas race, the Shooter Moonlight Mountain Marathon.

I have never visited New Zealand before so thought I’d get some extra time off work either side of the race to explore the country. I will be flying solo for this trip as the hubby is already back at work.

So tomorrow I fly to Auckland where I stay for a few days before flying to Christchurch to rock out at the Foo Fighters concert (yes i’m only flying to Christchurch and staying for 1 day to see them, they are my fav band and I would never miss a chance to see them in concert!!). Then I jump onto a bus and travel to Queenstown where I spend the rest of my holiday. I have a couple of days before the race to settle in and relax, then on 21 February i’ll be toeing the start line. After the race I have a couple of days rest and then I set off tramping Milford and Routeburn for just over a week. Then I fly home.

I am feeling very nervous and excited, but today i’m struggling to pack and keep worrying that I’ll forget to take something important. Fingers crossed that I don’t.

Keep well my friends and I promise to report back with all my stories when I return in March.

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.

megalong

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!

megalong 2

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.

megalong 4

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 😀

Race Report: SMH 10km SunRun

As I cautiously got out of bed this morning I was expecting to feel more Tin-man than human being after the tough running I put my body through this weekend, but instead I was pleasantly surprised. Usually after a weekend like that my joints are stiff, the muscles are sore and i’m exhausted. I Still feel exhausted but the body is holding up really well, perhaps i’m getting stronger than I thought.

So what did I do on the weekend?

On Saturday I entered a 10km race called the SMH SunRun which starts in Dee Why and ends in Manly. My friend Maria and I met at her place for 4.30am and we drove to Dee Why for the start at 6.45am. We arrived just early enough to get free parking and only have to queue a few mins for the toilet, which was a huge bonus because as we walked out the toilet queue had grown to about 50+ people deep. Score!

We headed to the start line and saw some familiar Strider faces and chatted about the course and what goals everyone was setting out for today. My coach and I had chosen a goal of 49 mins as I desperately wanted to go under 50 mins. He had given me some good tips and reminded me to ‘race’ instead of ‘run’ the course like I usually do. I felt very nervous. I hadn’t ‘raced’ and event ever and it had been a long time since I had run a 10km event. I had actually woken with a headache and not feeling great that morning, but I was determined to stay positive and had decided on my mantra when the going got tough…… “Just fucking run”.

Maria and I did a 10 minute warm up to get the legs moving and then edged our way through the crowd. We found some speedy friends near to the front of our (blue) group and we readied ourselves for the start. (That’s me hiding at the back right in the picture below)

sunrun 2

 

The gun went off at 6.45am and the first section was the first hill, great! I tried to make my way through the crowd of runners and sneakily headed up the footpath on the left hand side which meant I could keep my rhythm and no have to weave around the other runners. I felt grateful that I had warmed up as it meant my legs were feeling ready to go and I went up the first hill right on my target pace. I was out of breath but I knew there was a down hill section i could use to get it back and about another 1.5km till the narrow section where I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get stuck behind any slow runners.

I had been speaking to a local runner who works in my office and he has given me some tips about the course, these proved tobe most useful as I could plan out my run and knew when and where to expect things like the narrow path, the never ending hills etc.

We got to the narrow section and I was feeling good. I was breathing heavy but thought it was a pace I could keep up for the remainder of the run. I tried not to get stuck behind people through the narrow section, which was a bit challenging, but I just kept repeating my mantra when the negative comments crept in. It’s funny (and annoying) how lots of males do not like being overtaken by a woman, so they speed up when you try to pass them. I tried not to let it affect my speed, but maybe it made me go faster too, i’m not sure.

We got through the narrow path section and hit the road, a slight incline was coming but it wouldn’t last long so I just kept running as consistently as I could through the undulating sections and kept picking off runners ahead of me to keep me focused.

There was a nice little out/around/back section where you got to see the other runners just ahead and just behind you and this was great as i saw some friends and we all cheered each other on as we headed for the next hill. The hill was at about 7km so I backed off the pace slightly before that hill to get some big breaths in and then muscled my way through it to the top getting out of breath again. I knew it had slowed me down and I remember my coaches words about not slowing at the top but pushing through and over, so i dug deep and overtook some more runners who were struggling after the hill.

Usually what comes after a hill is a downhill, and I was looking forward to using that to gain some time I’d lost, so i powered down passing several more people and I was now on the home stretch, less than 2km to go, running along the beachfront to the main part of Manly.

I picked a female runner in front of me who looked strong and had overtaken me just moments beforehand, and tried to stick with her for the last effort. I kept trying to catch her but only just managed to stay the same pace a few steps behind. It was then I heard a familiar voice, it was Richard from work, the loacl runner who had given me some tips. He cheered me along and i got a burst of energy to sprint for the finish. So I ran my little heart out and overtook the girl who I had been charging down and sprinted over the finish line doing my best ‘Darth Vader’ impersonation.

I looked at my watch – 47:07 and tears welled up in my eyes. I had done it. I had smashed my goal and I could not have been happier. What an achievement. I couldn’t breath and I could hardly stand up, but you could not have wiped the grin off my face!

Slowly I walked around trying to get my breath back and I headed back towards the finish line to look for Maria, i knew she wouldn’t be far behind me. And there she was, blazing over the line in 49:18, she had also cracked the 50 minute target too, wonderful!

We celebrated with some Strider friends we saw at the finish line and collected our race medals to prove our efforts. Another one to add to my collection.

And what better way to recover than i dip in the ocean, how could you not when it was right there! The water was so refreshing and we all laughed and chatted while we swam in our running gear. Then we even got a free coffee from the lovely people at the Virgin Active tent.

What a great way to start a weekend. It truly was a race I won’t forget in a hurry and I can’t wait for the next challenge.

sunrun aftermath

Happy Running 😀