Thursday, March 6, 2014

When things don't go to plan...

I had it all planned out...

I was 4 weeks out from the Twilight Half Marathon.  The event I've had in mind for months.  The one where I'd finally be able to give my 21.1km PB a really good crack.

I would run 45-50km a week.
Each week I would include intervals, a long run and a speed session.
I would watch what I'd eat, to best nourish my body and be in top shape.
I'd do strength exercises and stretching to be as prepared as possible.
Then I would run a sub-1:45:00 half marathon.

But with 4 weeks to go, training hit a hurdle.  I'd had a niggle in my lower leg for some time - kind of in between my shin & calf.  It would come and go, and usually would just subside once I warmed up. But this time, it really started to give me problems.  It was hurting when I walked, and it was 2km in to a planned 5km pram run that I actually had to stop.

It was then I realised that I'd have to abandon the training plan and rest up.   (That and my wonderful husband saying "for crying out loud, just stop running!!")  It's now been 1 week with no running and I have no pain at the moment, but haven't tried it out running yet.  I had a few days of not making very good choices with my food (gee, I sound like a mum!) but am back on track now and feeling much better for it!

I'm not fixated on the Twilight event - if it happens, it happens.  If not, there are plenty of other events I can do.  The important thing is that this niggle doesn't turn into a full-blown injury, and that I get back to peak form so I can blitz this half marathon.

Running can be funny like that.  Ups & downs, twists & turns.  Fingers crossed I can regain some consistency next week.  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Challenges, Shoes & Questions

Visiting Kingscliff parkrun - unfortunately didn't get to run as Dean forgot the pram wheels!
Once again, things have been go go go since I last checked in - and I've had a few ups & downs on the running front.

Thanks to taking part in the Run Down Under, I've been really diligent in tracking my kilometres each week, with a goal to run between 45 and 50km.  Up until last week, I'd managed to hit the target every week.  So I guess a "down" week was probably inevitable.
Sunday afternoon running group at Shorncliffe - love this running community!
I've had a bit of a struggle with some new running shoes I got a few weeks back.  I just haven't worn them in well, and after a 10km last Sunday and a 7km the next day, I had a fair bit of pain in my lower leg.  I'm still not quite sure what to do about them.  I know shoes take some time to adjust to (and this is my first new pair in almost a year, so my old ones are VERY well worn), but I just don't know how much more time I need to give them!  They're a really similar shoe to my old ones, so I'm not sure why they're feeling so...different.  Anyway, I set out to do 10km again last Wednesday, but the leg pain pulled me up short at 5km.  The rest of the week was interrupted by sickness, birthdays, heat and busyness, so I only managed 12km in total.

It didn't bother me too much...I always feel I need a short week after several long & consistent ones, so it's all good.

Today was one of those tough ones that I knew I needed to just dig in and get done.  With Dean away, I pulled out the Croozer for my first pram run in several weeks.  It was stinking hot today, but I haven't run in 5 days, so I was pretty desperate to get out there!  Thankfully, by 4:30pm when I headed out to the waterfront, the temperature had dropped quite a lot.  The first 2.5km were a real struggle with the headwind and adjusting back to pram running.  Then I decided to do hills.  Ouch!  It was HARD!  I've been doing hills at least every fortnight for the past few months, so that's nothing new, but pram hills just take it to another level.

On top of that, I was pushing the world's most inquisitive 2-year-old and his sleeping, 4-year-old sister. I guess I should be grateful there was no fighting or whining, but let me give you a selection of the questions I was asked while sweating like a pig, about to die, pushing a pram uphill with over 32kg of children in it...
- what's that tree called?
- what's that other tree called?
- why is that tree broken?
- what's that house called?
- what's that fence called?
- what's that lady's name?
- can we play at the playground?
- can I go to the toilet?
- can I have a drink of water?
- where's my other water bottle?

I think you get the picture!  Let's just say I got by with a lot of one-word answers or grunting "I'm not sure".  Anyway, 7km hill session done, when I was fairly close to talking myself out of it, so I'll take that one as a win!
Serving up cake to vollies Jo & Chris at Sandgate parkrun!
The plan this week is to get back to my 45-50km target and step up my training a bit in preparation for the Twilight Half Marathon, which is now just over a month away.

On top of that, I'm preparing for the Bust A Move event, happening next month.  We had a fantastic group training session down at Sandgate last week and I'm pumped to take part - and am also trying to raise more funds!  So if you're keen to support it, here's the page:

Happy Running!
Training up for Bust A Move!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kicking Some Goals

parkrun PB! (Silken Photography)
There's nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your hard work paying off.  I've been super consistent with my running since the start of January, and I'm seeing the results.

There's just 1.5 weeks until the end of the 12wbt and I have achieved almost every goal I set at the start, and here are some of the highlights of the past 2 weeks:
- setting a new parkrun PB and getting under 22:30, with a time of 22:26 (running with a pace runner)
- setting a new parkrun PB a week later, with a time of 22:25 (running by myself)
- setting a new 10km PB at the Resolution Run of 48:30
- getting my distance to 50km in a week (largely due to my competitive nature and the motivation of being part of the Run Down Under
- running my longest distance since the marathon of 22km, with the company of some Sandgate parkrunners

post-Resolution Run
What has been frustrating is some of my eating habits, and giving myself concessions because I've been so good with my running.  My problem is that instead of having a treat, enjoying it, then getting back to good eating, I'll have 5 treats because the day is a write-off anyway.  It's a terrible habit that I really need to stop!  So I've committed to complete clean eating for the last 2 weeks of the program, and that's going well so far (2 days in!)  I've plateaued the last few weeks, but I know I can shift a couple more kilos if I really focus.

The kids getting into the parkrun warmup (Silken Photography)
The weekly challenge Michelle Bridges has set us this week is 800 burpees.  Yep, 800!!!  I was doing my strength & toning day today, so I thought I might as well try and pump out as many as I could.  In between each set of exercises (things like lunges, squats and planks), I did 100 burpees (having a breather after each lot of 25).  Wow, it was HARD!  I just did it at home in the backyard while the kids were playing in the sandpit and trampoline and it nearly killed me!  I managed 600, and I'm feeling it.  But I love having a non-running challenge to achieve.

Amazing sunrise on Sunday morning

The rest of this week will be hard with the heat.  I so wish I could do morning runs but it's just not possible.  Even though I'd love to give my half marathon PB a crack next week, when the 12wbt program comes to an end, I think I'll wait 8 weeks until the Twilight Half at St Lucia and do it properly at an event.  I'm sure I'll have a much better chance of getting my best possible time in that context.

Until next time...keep running!

This is why I love early morning running!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Running in the Country

Happy New Year! I hope everyone in blog land had a wonderful Christmas & fantastic new year! I'm pumped for an exciting year ahead. It was great to browse back over my goal book this morning and read my goals from last year and see that most were ticked off. It was one year ago that I decided to run a marathon and it's been a massive journey since! Some of my running goals for this year include a sub-22:30 5km and a sub-1:50:00 half marathon and I can't wait to achieve them!

At the moment we are in Dimboola, in country Victoria, visiting my sister & her family.  We drove down, which was a long haul, but good fun at the same time. I was really happy with myself over Christmas week to run most days, despite a crazy busy few days. I also stayed on track with not over-eating - my strategy was no nibbles, no alcohol, no bread and just 1 small dessert. I didn't succeed at every function (we had 4 separate family lunches,) but was pretty good overall. My goal is to maintain my weight while we're away, then just drop 2kg in the few weeks after we get back.

So we're here in the middle of nowhere, and getting out for a run most days (very handy having babysitters on hand!) The first day was just an easy jog around the town (although the town is teeny tiny, so we had to do a bit of an out-and-back down a dirt road).

 On the 12wbt program for Monday was hill sprints. Well, that wasn't going to happen - this place is as flat as a tack! So I did last week's Monday session, which was intervals. We ran down to the Dimboola Football Field (for footy lovers, this was Tim Watson's home ground!) and did 10 reps of 2 minute sprint, 1 minute walk. Hard work, but nice to do it on grass compared to mt usual concrete surface.

Today turned out to be the most convenient for a long run. Although my program says 20km, I decided on 15k because of time factor. So off we went, down the highway, onto a dirt track through wheat fields and back for another loop around the town. It was cloudy and drizzly, which was a nice change from the Brisbane humidity.

I'll do another one probably tomorrow, before we head to Adelaide on Friday, where we'll do Torrens parkrun on Saturday. I'm loving the change of scenery and keeping active, knowing that I'm starting the year feeling fit & healthy, rather than returning from holidays feeling fat & lazy! Can't wait to share more running stories with you this year :-)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Consistency is the Key

Don't be fooled by the thumbs up...I was dying!
(thanks to Tracy King for the photos)
It's been a while between posts - to say life has been busy is an understatement!  I'm sure it's the same for most people at this time of year, but I feel like this December has been particularly crazy!  Thankfully, I'm not too busy to run - just too busy to write about running :-)

I'm now 5 weeks into this round of the Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation.  I am absolutely LOVING it!  It was definitely the right decision to do it over Christmas.  I have full accountability, and  it is making me really stay on track with my eating and exercise, at a time that would usually just be a complete write-off for me.

I've lost 5kg and am feeling great - despite huge days, late nights and big to-do lists, I'm finding I have a lot of energy and motivation.  I'm loving having a running program to stick to - I'm doing about 4 runs a week, including a long run, hills or intervals, a fast run and a recovery run.  I'm feeling a big improvement in my fitness, and I'm definitely feeling stronger, faster & leaner as well.

Basically, if I wasn't on the program, I know I'd be over-eating nearly every day at Christmas functions or while baking Christmas treats.  I wouldn't be prioritising exercise and I'd probably come out the other end a few kilos heavier, more unfit and not feeling good.  Instead, the opposite is happening!  But I don't feel like I'm missing out - I'm still having the occasional treat, but only small bits here & there.  I'm embracing the real treats of the season - things like cherries, mangoes & nectarines, some of my favourite fruits.  I'm still baking just as much as I always do at Christmas, but it's all being given away (except for the bits that Dean has been sneaking from the freezer!)  I've also decided not to drink any alcohol for the 12 weeks.  I'm not a big drinker anyway, but I find it's a great way to save on what would be basically wasted calories anyway.

It's not all smooth sailing - it is hard work.  Some days I definitely don't feel like exercising, but once I'm doing it, I never regret it.  Some days I'm just plain hungry & want to eat everything in sight - but even when I fail in my calorie counting, I'm back on track soon enough.

I have my fair share of hard runs - while I've been getting up to about 15-16km in my weekly long run, I hit a major wall last week while only doing 12km.  From about 9km onwards, I really struggled with no energy and just wanting to stop.  I shuffled on, but wasn't feeling too good after.

I was really hoping for the best the next morning, because I was running at Sandgate parkrun WITHOUT the pram for the first time since early October.  I've been so consistent with running for the past 5 weeks, so I knew I could have a crack at a pretty good time.  My last non-pram 5km was 4 weeks ago, when I ran 24:02 at Kawana parkrun.  My goal was a sub-24.

I set out pretty well and was really happy with my pace.  It was a hot day and there was no shade to help out, but I just stayed focused.  One of our regular runners was just a couple of steps behind me and that's where I wanted him to stay.  I don't like being overtaken.  I got to the turnaround and had a quick look at my pace & time on my phone and was happy with where I was at.

At 4km, the runner who was behind me encouraged me to pick it up for the last km and finish off quickly, but I just didn't have it in me!  He went on ahead while I tried to hang in there and not lose too much pace, even though I was exhausted.

I finished with a time of 23:27 - way under my sub-24 goal!  I was thrilled and got so much encouragement from other parkrunners.  Checking out my splits, I lost pretty much 10 seconds on each kilometre, which is not an ideal way to run.  But hey, at the end of the day, I'm happy!

My goal is to shave another minute off my non-pram time by the start of February next year, and I'm sure I can get there.  Consistency is definitely key.  We're heading away on holidays just after Christmas, so that will be a challenge, but if I can keep up that consistency, I know I can stay on track.  Will keep you updated!

Don't be fooled by the beautiful day - it was soooo hot!
(thanks to Tracy King for the photos)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday Sandgate parkrun!

With local councillor, Victoria Newton
One year ago, without really knowing what we were doing, Dean & I started Sandgate parkrun.

We had ummed and aaahed, but decided to take the plunge and just do it.  Little did we know what it would turn into, a year down the track.

Last Saturday, 23rd November 2013, we celebrated the first birthday of Sandgate parkrun.  It was a fantastic morning, which literally started with a bang - a rocket launch right there in the park!

Blast off!!!
We had a record attendance of 365 runners, most of whom got into the spirit of the Ashes, which was being played in Brisbane, by wearing white.  We had wedding dresses, angels, cricketers (pads, helmets & all!), mad scientists and more.

We were supplied with a simply AMAZING cake and had heaps of other food and drink.  It was a really special time as well, to present several awards for our annual points competition, as well as other categories, like most improved, Sandgate spirit and volunteer champion.

As always, the atmosphere was amazing and the community spirit was high.  It was such a proud moment for us & our kids to be presented with our own medals from local councillor, Victoria Newton.   The celebrations were a real testament to the loyalty and support of all our Sandgate runners.

I've been at parkrun every single Saturday for the past year, and over that time, I've met amazing people, been constantly encouraged and support (especially while training for the marathon) and witnessed the kindness and generosity of the running community.

We can't wait for many more parkruns in the next year and beyond!

Thanks so much to Ross McNeil and Tracy King for the photos in this blog :-)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New Goals, Fresh Motivation

I bit the bullet last week and decided it was really time to crack down on myself and lose a few kilos I've been trying to shift since the marathon.  I signed up to the current round of the Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation and I've loved getting back into it over the last week!  It's been almost 2 years since I did my first round, and I'm really appreciating the accountability and discipline of the program.

Jed helping me with an at-home workout!
Basically, I'm eating well, counting calories and taking my exercise up a notch - 6 workouts a week.  I'm on the advanced running program, which gives me a variety of runs each week - things like intervals, hill sprints, tempo runs and long runs.  It's not unlike what I've been doing myself over the past few months, but I just love having something to stick to.  I actually really like being told what to do, so I'm enjoying the routine of the set workouts.  It also involves strength, core and stretching - all of which I know I need to to do, but haven't had the motivation to complete by myself, so I love that too.

It's not hard getting back to calorie counting - but it's only been one week, so hopefully that continues!  One of my goals for when I get to the end of the program is to have my 5km time down to 22:30 without the pram and 23:30 with the pram.

I made a good step towards that on Saturday.  We spent the weekend at Noosa, so made the trek to the closest parkrun on Saturday morning, which is Kawana.  It's a beautiful, beachfront track and it was great to have a few familiar Sandgate faces there too!  We were very impressed by one of the regular runners there, Norm, who turned 90 during the week.  90!!!  And he's a regular park runner!  Amazing!

The beautiful course at Kawana parkrun (the ocean is just beyond the trees!
I desperately wanted to get under 25 minutes, something I've been trying to do since coming back from injury.  Nearly all of my parkruns have been with the pram lately, so the 25 has been slipping through my fingers.  But I had no pram this time and felt set for a fast one!  Despite a bit of incline along the way, I enjoyed the course and felt great, coming in at 24:02!  I was thrilled to finally be back under 25, for the first time in months.

parkrun support crew!

Saturday also marked my 52nd consecutive Saturday morning at parkrun.  Next week we celebrate our first birthday at Sandgate!  I have been at a parkrun somewhere every week since (somewhere around 18 runs and the rest volunteering) - and Kawana was my 8th different course.  It's so addictive, I can't stop!

Sandgate parkrunners flying the flag at Kawana
So, I'm feeling great for having new accountability and something to stick to (which will be especially useful for me over Christmas - a time I really struggle with self control!)  I'm excited to improve my running over the next few months and to have focus and commitment.  And of course, to celebrate the birthday of what feels like my third child sometimes - Sandgate parkrun!  If you're in the area, come along on Saturday morning, it'll be a wonderful celebration of a fabulous year :-)

Oh and I almost forgot - I'm now a published running writer!  And I don't mean I've perfected my cursive :-)  I have an article in the December 13 issue of Runner's World magazine about the Gold Coast Marathon.  I was approached a couple of months back to write up my experience, which I was more than happy to do.  I'd almost forgotten about it when the issue came out & I realised I was in there!  So grab a copy and check it out!