Back On The Bandwagon

Hello again! Well, it’s been a long time!

Since I made it to the end of the Melbourne Marathon back in October 2012, I’ve slowly slipped into bad habits. Stress, late nights, too much good food and drink, limited running, it’s all taken its toll. I’m now 9kgs heavier than I was back then (although 4kgs disappeared just before the marathon and then re-appeared a few weeks after), and haven’t run longer than 16kms for a while. Even that (at the Run for the Kids this year) nearly did my knees in, as I hadn’t trained properly and had only run 5kms at a stretch for over a year.

More telling than these physical things though is the mental toll that little to no running has done. I’m not the same person. I lack so much confidence, so much energy. I over-think things all the time. I keep telling myself I can’t do it, or I’m lonely, or I’m thinking of getting pregnant so I can’t do anything right now.

Enough is enough. No more ‘prevaricating about the bush’. It’s time for me to step up and take control of my mental and physical health once more. Set myself running goals for this year, and bloody well do them! So here goes:

  1. Do an 8km run
  2. Do a 10km run
  3. Do a 15km run
  4. Do a half marathon
  5. Get Mat to do a weekly run with me
  6. Get a running buddy
  7. Run short runs twice a week (Monday-Friday) for at least a month.
  8. Run in the rain
  9. Run on the beach
  10. Do a Colour Run

I figure I can add to this list, but it’s a good way to get started. All measurable, achievable goals. I can do this!

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Cel-e-brate good times, come on! :)

Exhausted and proud at the end of my 42km journey

I DID IT!!!!!!!

My first ever marathon, completed in 4 hours 31 mins 😀

The day started off nice and cool at 5am with a quick brekkie of toast and chutney, followed by the drive/walk to the MCG & Tennis Centre for the race start. I’d prepared my lemon Gatorade in my bandolier, along with my running outfit (photographed and distributed to my awesome cheer squad to help them find me at the finish!), so I didn’t have to muck about at all before heading off. There was no way I was going to sleep through my alarm in any case – I kept waking up with excitement! ;P

At the ‘G I dropped off my jumper at the warm clothing area, and made my chilly way back up to the main concourse to meet Cheryl and her family. We then weaved our way through the crowds to the start, in front of Rod Laver Arena.

Cheryl set a strong pace early – faster than I was intending to do – so we shook hands at the top of St Kilda Road and she headed off to run her own race. I then settled into my ‘game pace’, and began soaking in the fun atmosphere of the race. There was plenty of fun to be had ‘people watching’, and I made it down to Albert Park (10km) without incident (although the five guys that overtook me at ‘pit lane’ nearly made me pass out – gentlemen, please wear deodorant at races!).

The 10-20km leg was a lovely trip along the South Melbourne waterfront, and I felt truly in my element, ready to take on the world. It was awesome! The 20-30km leg along the St Kilda side of the beach had me starting to engage some of my mental focus, as my glutes and ITB’s started to tire.

The ultimate test of ‘mind over body’ came however in the 30-42km leg. Up until this stage I had been keeping a consistent pace that had held me in good stead throughout the run (I averaged 6min 21secs per km over the course of the 42kms). However by the time I hit the 30km split time mat I was beginning to fatigue, big time. The only thing keeping me going was the prospect of my friends and family at the finish line, how they were expecting me between 11am-12pm, and my hard-arse mental coach yelling ‘If you stop running, you’ll seize up and *&%#ing well not start again!’. An awesome sign I saw being held up by a man on the side of the road at the 32km mark (the furthest I had ever run at that point) was ‘Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever’. From then on ‘Pain is Temporary, Pain is Temporary’ became my mantra, pushing me through the next few k’s.

Unfortunately I did have to stop during the 36-42km leg for 2 20-second stretch breaks, and 2 20-second power-walk/stretch-outs, but I slipped straight back into my pace shuffle, and kept on keeping on! I made sure throughout the run to keep my electrolyte drink and water trickling in so I never hit ‘the wall’, which was a great bonus. Lactic acid was my only nemesis in those last 12kms! It was sad to see a couple of runners being loaded onto ambulance stretchers at the 37km mark. I don’t know what had happened, but the runners looked absolutely gutted. I know I would have been L

I met up with the 4hrs 30mins ‘pace runner’ at the 39km mark, just as I was crossing Princes Bridge en route to Flinders St, then Brunton Ave and the ‘G. He was shouting out to his ‘team’ “We’re all going to finish it now! We’re going to finish it! Just enjoy these last few k’s!”. It was a great little pep-talk, at just the right time, and pushed me along those last few painful kilometres to the MCG, to take my lap of honour.

My sister was shouting and waving as I came around towards the finish line, and I stopped to wave back before realising I should probably finish the race and stop blocking up the track ;P I then sprinted for it, and finished in style J The next few minutes were a blur as I tried to keep my feet and tried to find my family and friends in the crowd. One of the bloody marshals put his hand in my face and directed me away down the finishers’ chute when I was JUST ABOUT TO FIND MY CHEER SQUAD IN THE AUDIENCE dammit!!! I ended up missing seeing them which is a huge shame, but after a brief stretch (trying quickly as possible to get my legs walking again) I went up to the main gate to see everyone and celebrate the end of months of hard work. It was so lovely – my mum had even made me a banner! ;D Nothing can explain how awesome it was to be with my b/f, sister, niece, bro-in-law, parents, auntie, uncle and housemates and share such an awesome moment with them. It was brilliant!!!

After experiencing the intense mental battle of those last 12kms, I don’t know if I’ll do a marathon again any time soon. But I’m definitely super-proud of my latest achievement, and can’t wait to plan my next crazy adventure!

Almost at the finish line!

Wow, I’ve been a lazy sod – no entry for over 3 weeks! Well, actually I’ve been busy-busy-busy, which has kept me away from my blog right up til just before ‘The Big One’ THIS SUNDAY!!!

Over the past 3 weeks I’ve done 37km over 2 days (17 Sunday/20 Monday), followed by 14 the following Thursday, then 20 the following Monday, then PT on the Tuesday and 14kms on the Friday (before hitting the Heathcote Food and Wine Festival last weekend – not the best training strategy I know, but it was so tasty!!!). Now I’m planning PT again tomorrow, with a short 3-5km run and maybe a Body Balance/stretch class before ‘M Day’. My poor training buddy’s been hit with muscular aches, cramps and other nasties, but will hopefully meet me at the track start on Sunday.

I’m hoping to make it to the finish line in under 5 hours, and at my current pace it looks like I’ll make it in 4hrs 45mins, give or take 10 mins. I took almost 15mins off my previous best half marathon this year, so hopefully the event atmosphere will drive me along and provide me with a better time than I’m anticipating. As long as I don’t end up being kicked off the road when they re-open or wind up being carted off by the St John’s Ambos I’ll be happy!

I’ve got my close family and my housemates coming to watch me cross the finish line at the ‘G – hopefully my b/f will too (couldn’t convince him to give me a lift in – I’m still working on that ;D ). I’m wary of driving in, as I don’t know what kind of condition I’ll be in when I finish – will I be able to drive? We’ll see. I’ve also organised a night ‘on the town’ for the following weekend to celebrate my no longer having to sacrifice my Saturday mornings to 3 hours+ of running! I’m aiming to do at least 10kms each weekend – to keep my running legs ready for the Run for the Kids next Easter – but am really looking forward to getting back into boxing. My arms are like limp noodles!

Anyway, I’ll let you all know how I go! Thanks so much to those that have followed me, I’m sorry I haven’t updated much lately, but I don’t plan on stopping my fitness adventures here – I’m always looking for a new challenge! Wish me luck!

 

10kms to go!

What do you think – too soon for my new niece?

Well I managed a great 32km run along the main Melbourne Marathon course on Saturday, although a more scenic version along the running tracks rather than the road 🙂 . I started at the Shrine and ran down St Kilda Rd, then around Albert Park Lake, down to Station Pier, then back the other way down to Brighton Yacht Club, and finally to the St Kilda Baths. I had originally intended to run the extra 2km or so back to the car, but that didn’t end up happening! 😉

Changing my playlist on my iPod went a big way to maintaining my enthusiasm and drive throughout the run – there’s nothing worse than hearing the same old songs for the millionth time! It was also a lovely flat course with plenty to see along the lake and seaside, which always helps me along – I love variety!

My knees did start giving me a bit of trouble along the run, but I kept changing the way my feet fell, trying some ‘heel-toe’ action, then the inside of the foot, then the outside, then changing how I carried my arms and my shoulders. By the 20km mark I’d found a good stance travelling on the ball of my foot, and carrying my body ‘up tall’ (I imagined myself being pulled up by an invisible thread as I ran). It resulted in my groin and inner leg muscles getting a major workout, but I pulled up brilliantly afterwards, and I feel that I’m mentally able to push through those last 10kms.

I need to thank my housemates for bugging me to go to the gym with them and run last night. I was so keyed up (and a bit tired!) after the birth of my niece on Sunday (and am I the proudest auntie or what!) that I was going to let my training slide last night. It made me feel much better though, and helped me get some sleep after a super-exciting and emotional last 2 days. Thanks ladies! 😀

I’m going to try to knock out 40kms or so over two days at the end of this week/start of next week to keep my legs at the right distance condition-wise, and then start to taper a bit. I can’t believe it’s only 3 and a half weeks to go til the big race!

Irritating ITB’s!

The evil foam roller – is she smiling, or is that really a grimace of pain? 😉

Well, this weekend was a bit of a fizzer!

I headed to the gym on Saturday to have an ‘easy’ run after my big 30km last weekend. As it looked threatening early in the morning, I thought I’d hit the treddies at my new gym, and pump out 15-20kms before joining my housemate for some Pilates in the Group Fitness studio.

Well, 5kms in everything was fine, I’d just warmed up and was starting to cruise towards 10km…and my left ITB began to tighten up. ‘Hmm,’ I thought, ‘this is wierd’. So I stopped and rolled it out for a minute with the foam roller (can I say OUCH?) before jumping back on the treddie and continuing on my merry way…for about another minute, before the bloody ITB began tightening up again, leading to be running with a wierd, uneven gait. Crap.

I got off and bailed up an instructor who was working with a client on the main floor, asking what the heck I should do. She said to stretch everything out and roll it (which I did), then jump on the Vario machine (like a cross-trainer on springs). This took the impact out, and got me to about 10kms. Nothing like the ‘easy’ 15-20kms I had planned originally. At least I had fun pushing myself in the new Pilates class (I hadn’t done Pilates before). I really appreciated the variety it offered, particularly after weeks on end of running. My muscles are certainly feeling it today!

My stupid ITB isn’t misbehaving when I walk around, only when I get past that stupid 5km mark 😦 And I pulled up so well after the 30km run – hardly any muscle aches at all! I managed 2 5km hill runs plus a resistance workout during the week too! So what’s the matter??? I’m seeing the sports masseuse on Tuesday, so hopefully he can give me the answers I need, as well as meeting my new PT tomorrow evening. She’s done a marathon before apparently, so should hopefully be able to help me out.

My goal (muscles willing) next week is to run 32-34kms along the majority of the city course on the footpaths, starting from Flinders St and heading down to the waterfront and back via Albert Park. Cheryl needs to run on Sunday so I won’t be able to join her again – hopefully we can run together again soon, I missed her on the Grape Run! It’s not as much fun running without a buddy to chat to and take your mind off how tired/crap you feel 😉

Conquering the Healesville Hills

Fresh-faced at the start line

Phew! I did it! 30kms of the Yarra Valley Grape Run in 3hrs 21mins. Not a brilliant run some might say, but when you take into account that there were a pile of hills (including an absolute killer kilometre ascent, then punishing decent at the 18km mark), I am very proud of my effort. You can check out the course and elevation map HERE.

http://www.starttofinish.com.au/default.aspx?s=eventdisplay&id=2686

I went up the night before and stayed at the local pub before starting the event (and what a debacle that was – 12am ‘doof doof’ disco wake up call, anyone?). Thankfully I managed to get just enough sleep to have me ready to run at 7.45am. I was also lucky enough to meet up with a couple of people from the Meetup running group I’m in, and ran with a lady called Rosy for the first 15km, before I broke away from her on the Old Healesville Rd loop (and promptly got hammered by the crazy hills). The last 10kms were punishing, as I headed back down the Healesville/Yarra Glen Road on my second (and final) trip just as the 12.5km event runners blitzed past me by the hundreds. Very demoralising, although there were some runners that cheered and encouraged you as they hurried on past 😉

Still smiling just past the 18km mark!

I must say I think I over-carb-loaded the night before and felt a bit queasy before the start, but that soon settled down. I carried my own high-salt-content electrolyte drink in my belt, but regularly took in water at the drinks stations – they were very organised across the course, with drinks/electrolyte stations every few kms. There were also small bands and DJ’s every few kms which livened things up a bit 🙂

I backed things up this week with another 5km hill run (this time my local run in reverse), followed by a bit of an all-over weights/core workout (I’m testing out my new gym), and another 5km run tomorrow. Cheryl can’t run with me this weekend, so I’ll be running 20km or so on my own, before pushing into the 30’s next week.

I’m down to 61.5kgs (once again, directly attributed to the crazy distances I’m running). Mum offered up cupcakes for dessert at her place tonight (oh no!), so my sugar intake has not been brilliant, but I’m trying to compensate in other areas (less carbs unless I need them for a run), so hopefully I’ll keep seeing results.

Feeling the burn at the 27km mark. Ouch!

Experimenting

Hello again! I apologise for not updating for over a week – a lot has been going on!

Firstly, I extended my distance to 27kms on the weekend, running in Cheryl’s local ‘stomping ground’ of Berwick. It was nice to run a mainly flat course for a change! I managed fairly comfortably, and trialled a new training technique of running for 5kms or so, then walking 50-100 steps, then continuing running. I think it was effective in helping me ‘make the distance’, although I did notice my pace had dropped off a little on my 5km hill run this week. I don’t know if the two are related though!

I also trialled using an electrolyte drink, sipped throughout my run, instead of gels this week. I found after the 25km run two weeks ago that the gels weren’t providing me with enough salt, and I was desperately thirsty throughout the run. I managed sooo much better this time around, and felt energised and comfortable throughout the run, with my only issue being my right ITB starting to tighten up in the last 10km.

I went to see a sports masseuse on Tuesday who gave my glutes, hamstrings and ITB’s a hammering, before giving me a number of good stretches (including a scary one with a broomstick) that will hopefully keep that ITB from becoming worse. Cheryl also stopped me from giving myself shin splints by catching my heel-toe action on the Saturday run – I felt much better after a few kms of running on the ball of my foot instead (although I have to concentrate on in when I get tired). Hopefully it behaves for the Yarra Valley Grape Run 30km event this Saturday!

In terms of my nutrition…it’s been a little crap to be honest. I’ve been eating good carbs (I love my wholemeal pasta and veg), but when your housemate bakes a pile of cupcakes as an RSPCA fundraiser, it’s hard to say no! Needless to say I’ve been having a bit of a sugar hit, although I’ve dropped to 62kgs as of this morning, which can be directly attributed to my running and nothing else at this stage! I’m not being too strict regarding my calorie intake – my main goal is to fuel myself nutritionally to perform at my best. If I go cold turkey on carbs I think I’ll crash again, and I don’t want to muck around with my body like that at this crucial stage. But I have to ‘just say no’ to junk from here on in!