Friday, December 25, 2015

The Running Journey Continues

So life has taken over and I have, in all seriousness, had no time to write about it. Chicky is 7, Poppet is 5 - both are in full time school - and Blossom is nearly 3. I've gone back to work part time and to be honest I'm starting to forget things so I thought maybe I should try and document some of them again, for my own sake if for no other reason. I'll start with running as it's the one I've been doing most of lately.

Last year I decided to train for and run my first full marathon (26.2 miles or 42.2km for those not familiar). The Perth Marathon was held on June 15th, which was my 32nd birthday so I thought there was no better race to choose. As a winter race, there were no disgusting 35C+ training runs like you get in the summer months, it's a local event on a familiar course (I've run a few 10km & 32km events on the same path), and well, it's my birthday and I'll run if I want to.

Training didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked and I wound up with a decent flare up of plantar fasciitis come race day, but that wasn't going to stop me. My usual race-day demons stayed away, I think largely due to my lack of any real expectations. Having never run more than 36km, I had no real expectation of time. Those who know me will know that's not entirely true, and while I did have some sort of goal pace in my head, I 1) wasn't holding myself too accountable to it, and 2) wasn't sharing it with the world. I very happily completed the 2014 Perth Marathon in 3:37 and was honestly stoked.

2015 has been an interesting running year for me and there has been more happening than I can write in one post. I started the year with high (read: delusional) hopes of a year full of PBs - 5km, 10km, half marathon and maybe even marathon if I could commit to the training. There were some disjointed bouts of training, motivational slumps and my first ever DNF (the first 3km didn't go to plan and instead of sucking it up and doing what had to be done, those pesky demons took over and saw me stop running 5km into a 10km race and walking back to my car, sobbing). I realised that the individual race probably wasn't to blame and that experience made me reassess my reasons for running.  The ensuing soul-searching lead to the ditching of my GPS watch for a while and getting back to the basics of running. It was refreshing not worrying about pace or distance, and relearning how to put one foot in front of the other and soak up the endorphins. I entered my first ever trail event on a whim. A 25km hilly course in Serpentine, south-east of Perth in April. I loved every minute of it and much to my surprise, came in as 3rd female and got this very cute trophy.

Before I knew it, it was May and while I hadn't been knocking off the PBs like I had planned, I did manage a 10km PB in a bout of post DNF anger, but it wasn't recorded anywhere other than my own Garmin.

My running buddy had started training for Perth Marathon, and I loosely started to up the kms and follow a vague program but didn't want to commit. I'd started and stopped training for a few different races during the year and I wasn't sure if this would be any different. We both did a non-competitive, local half-marathon that very conveniently started and finished 15 metres from my doorstep. We were both getting ourselves into pretty good form, and I ran the Perth 32km at a pace faster than my half marathon PB, so six weeks later, decided to give the marathon a crack. It was to be a 'no pressure, run hard but don't get disappointed regardless of the outcome' kind of race. Unfortunately my running buddy landed a high hamstring injury just three weeks out and couldn't run. I felt devastated for her, and awful that I was fit enough to run the race I'd haphazardly tacked onto her training for. I almost let this demotivate me, but decided that she would have given anything to make the start line so given I was fit and healthy, I owed it to both of us to give it a crack.

The day before the race I woke up with an awful head cold and spent most of the day horizontal with a tissue shoved up one nostril. I didn't have a temp though, and have run with a cold before so I decided not to even think about it and just see how the run panned out. I car-pooled with a friend who was covered in deep-heat so my nose was nice and clear by the time we got there. The head cold turned out not to affect my race at all. There is normally an element of snot flying during a hard run so it wasn't much different! I wore my favourite Mizuno Sayonara 2s. For someone who runs most of my kms in a stability shoe, these shoes feel flat and fast. I absolutely love running in them and when they're on, I always seem to fly. They had served me well for the Perth 32km so my shoe choice was a no brainer (as was my choice of socks - Lulu Lemon 'Run Like The Wind').

The weather was perfect - still and cool, and the reflection of the city skyline on the glassy Swan River was picturesque. Aside from the dripping nose and sore throat, everything was in its place. I set off slightly ahead of my planned 4:55 min/km pace, but I always do the same thing and treat it as "time in the bank" for later. The 4:50s kept ticking over surprisingly comfortably. I was taking a Clif Shot Blok (black cherry flavour of course) every 5km as planned, and my energy levels remained constant. At about 25km, heading out onto the second and last lap, my ITB started hurting and threatened to derail what was panning out to be a perfect marathon. I'd seen an ambulance on the side of the course along the first lap (precautionary, no one was hurt) alongside which someone had written a motivational banner saying "SHUT UP LEGS". I clung to that mantra. I repetitively told my ITB to shut up, and surprisingly it did! I kept ticking over the kms. Someone was breathing hard over my shoulder for about 10km in the second half, and I never saw their face as they dropped back towards the end, but that breathing kept me moving forwards. By 35kms things were getting pretty tired, but I stuck to my nutrition, taking water at aid stations and counted down the kms in a sing-song fashion (which is something I tend to do during any long training run or race) - it goes a little something like "7kms to go, 7kms to go, 7kms to go..........[until] 6kms to go, 6kms to go.....". You get the picture, I never was very creative. This got me to a few hundred metres short of "5kms to go" where there was a timing sign. I forget the exact time it read but it must have been a bit over the 3hr mark because I remember trying to do the maths, but my foggy tired brain couldn't work out the exact numbers. I knew if I picked things up just a touch I might be able to go under 3:25. My goal was only ever a PB on last year's 3:37, but McMillan had predicted a 3:26:something so I knew it was going to be close. I tried my hardest to hold onto those 4:50s, but had a few kms around 4:55 and as I rounded that last bend I even busted out a sprint finish to cross the line in 3:25:10. I was stoked, regardless. Twelve minutes quicker than last year with only 9 weeks of training. My girls lined the final stretch and the oldest even ran along side me for a bit before I entered the finishing chute. It wasn't a terribly competitive year for Perth Marathon, and that time got me 15th place. I was happy to be on the first page of the results!

While I could have taken some time off to recover and relax, I was running again 3 days later and convinced myself that I should capitalise on the fitness, endurance and fantastic recovery. So what does someone who's having a very undulating running year do? Sign up for a 50-mile trail ultra marathon (pun intended). But I'll leave that story for another post.


  1. Loved reading this! You amaze me! What a great memory you'll have forever. Kate

  2. Loved reading this! You amaze me! What a great memory you'll have forever. Kate