Friday, September 25, 2015

Crater to Coast Half Marathon

So I'm a little behind with blogging!!  We headed down the Highway a couple of weeks ago, towards Warrnambool on a Friday afternoon to spend the weekend with my sister, her man & my niece before running the Warrnambool Athletics's Crater to Coast Half Marathon on the Sunday. 

Friday night is Pizza night at my sisters & well, you can't have pizza without a glass of red!

The morning bought some beautiful sunshine & we met my niece's loan stable pony - Loco is actually a thoroughbred horse @ approximately 14.2 hands & just lovely!

Tess took him for a ride (above) & I had a walk inside the round yard - last time I went for a trail ride, I put my back out which aggravated my ITB &  created havoc with my running!!  So I was playing it safe with the event the following day :-)

When we arrived Friday night I jumped out of the car at the top of the drive way & had a quick visit with Woobs (my darling 16 year old cat who passed away earlier this year) returning during daylight to adorn her little grave with some flowers.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out on the farm, going for a walk in the sunshine, my sis & I tested out the new(ish) Thai massage place (lovely!) & heading into Koroit for dinner at the new(ish) Thai restaurant.  I forgot to take photo's but rest assured I was carb loading with a mound of Pad Thai.  No chilli though - not conducive to distance running! 

I was designated driver, but my running coach usually allows a glass of wine the night before a big event if it will help you relax & get a good nights sleep.  So this was my sister's & my desert LOL.  To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from the run as my legs were still feeling pretty fatigued from the Sandy Point Half.  I was just hoping to get it done within 2 hours.

Had a fairly decent sleep: as the event didn't start until 9am I dozed for a bit longer than usual as I didn't want to eat (or drink) too much to early creating an early pit stop requirement.  Ate my obligatory piece of toast with peanut butter & jam & half a cup of tea before it was time to drive over to Koroit (7 minute drive??).

This lovely lady found me straight away queuing for my race number & quickly captured a pic as we forgot last time!!!!

In no time we were off.  Down the street towards the rail trail, slight incline with cows in the paddocks on either side.  I had a bit of a laugh at the smell - cow's do have a distinct aroma.  I remember my Dad telling me about an interlude he'd had with a bank teller in town one day.  She told him she knew he was a farmer, but not a dairy farmer.  Dad asked her why, she replied she could always pick the dairy farmers by their smell!!!!  While he was showered & unidentified that day, Dad never ever went into town after that without showering first!!!    

Soon we were on the down hill section towards Illowa where my sis lives.  Once we hit her road, the hills struck.  I overtook a few people here including one of my niece's gymnastic friends - felt pretty chuffed about that LOL.  Conquered the last hill on that road; the top of which is pretty much at my sisters driveway.  The crew were there as was the sign I'd spent a little time Saturday afternoon working on for Carol (in the picture with me above)!  Carol - see how I added in Mascot?  Writing signs with the word cow in it can be fraught with danger - hence adding the word Mascot after I'd written it!!!  LOL.  Didn't want anyone taking it the wrong way!!!!!!

If you've followed her blog, you'll know Carol tries to take a picture with cows in it on her long runs - cows are kind of the mascot for a group she runs with.  I'd alerted her to the possibility of a sign & we had balloons tied to the fence as well.  The family cheered me on as well as a few of my sisters work mates & my niece's gymnastic friend.  At one point they heard someone yell out - hey, that signs for Carol!  And as Carol ran up & over the hill my sis spotted her & yelled out "are you Carol" ?  Yes was the reply & I think my sis yelled out well done, no more hills!!

My sis's place incidentally was pretty much the half way point.  I continued on, passed the horse trail ride place, across the marsh, parallel to the beach although the sand dunes are too high to manage any view!  Passed the knackery - the smell wasn't too bad that day but I did hold my hanky over my nose until I could no longer smell it!  Up the last steep hill, across the road & along the board walks through the park land.  With about 3 kms to go, gymnastic's girl regained her place in front of me!  I yelled out well done - almost there - smash it!!!!

It was then that I realized a guy in front of me was running in leather sandals.  He looked to be somewhat older than me.  I was really starting to feel fatigued by now & really hadn't been paying attention to my time, but one thing was for sure: I wasn't going to be beaten by an old bloke running in sandals!!!!  (no disrespect intended Mr Sandal Man & well done to you for your effort - but you use what ever you can towards the end of a long run to keep you going!!!)

I reeled him in with 2kms left to go & powered on.  Up a little hill (maybe 4 steps worth but it was bloody hard work) & out of nowhere I could see where the finishing area was.  Belted into the carpark & could see gymnastic's girl ahead of another girl, both in front of me.  There was my niece & sis yelling out Go Cat Go!!!  I could see the finish line, lifted & blazed past the girl in front of me & onto the oval about to head left to the finish line when a marshal yelled out - right, go right, you have to go around the oval first!!!

Bloody hell.  Wish I'd known that as I'd kind of used up the last of my energy & the girl I'd just over taken shot passed me & was leaving me for dead!!!  I gathered my wits & just plugged on reminding myself I was almost there.  With 200 metres to go I could actually read the finishing post which had the time on it.  I realized that I was actually in line to PB again & with the girl in front of me in my sights, lifted for my second Lazy Big Finish for the run & not only pipped the girl in front of me at the finish line by half a metre, but also managed to take 1 second per km off my pace with a new PB time of 1 hour 53 mins 20 seconds (previous was 1 hour 53 35).

Wandered around a bit to cool down, got my medal, an apple & the best thing of all - a lemonade icy pole!!! OMG I do believe that was the best post race anything ever (although the juice they handed out after the Sandy Point half was pretty damn good too!).  I suspect everything & anything you eat post run is just the best ever.  I swear the coffee I get after a run in Williamstown is only that good after a run.  At any other time it's only ho hum!!!!

Hung about for a while with the family & was looking out for Carol to cheer her over the finishing line.  PB was getting a bit angsty as we had a stop to do on our way back to Melbourne, so reluctantly we bid the family goodbye & headed off.  Carol had actually had to stop & assist a runner that had collapsed about 1km after my sister's place & waited until they were safely in the ambulance.  Carol - you are a saint!!!!!!  And I'm very sorry we weren't there to see you afterwards!!!!

The drive home was uneventful.  I'd stiffened up somewhat so a lovely long hot epsom salts bath was well appreciated.  I really enjoyed the event & will be adding it to my annual must do event calender - even if it's just for the icypole!!!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Rubik's Run

The Rubik’s cube beckons.  A friend tells me the altitude in there is higher than Mount Kosciusko; the highest mountain in Australia.  Although that’s not possible he says, how can they do that?  Plumbing boy says "you’re reading too much into it mate.  It will be like a vacuum created with two doors".  Um no I tell them, it’s not, there is only 1 door.  But the oxygen percentage increases & the altitude decreases if the door is opened & closed too many times in succession.  

It’s the altitude training room at my gym.  It’s approximately 4 treadmills wide x 9 stationary bikes long (but with 3 treadmills across, 6 bikes down one side & 2 arc trainers & a rowing machine along the other, with some space in the middle to do other stuff).  3 sides are glass.  In my head I call it the cube, or the Rubik’s Cube.

It would be nice if the air smelt like the mountains or the bush, but it doesn't.  It’s kind of sweet & almost musky.  Absolutely unlike the air out there, in the regular part of the gym.  I can’t quite put my finger (or should I say nose) on the exact scent.

Who will be in the cube today?  Rovers 1, 2 or 3?, Ruck, Mr Crossfit, Mr Ultra, Miss more interested in her mobile than her training; couples 1 or 2?  I know it’s bad to pigeon hole people based on their appearance, but that’s how I remember them.  

Yesterday I was walking between Rover & Ruck.  They made me feel slow & inadequate with their super speedy pace.  I would fall off the treadmill if I tried to run at that speed.  Maybe they would fall off too @ my incline (bugger all but more than theirs) & @ my distance.  Why do I do that?  Compare myself to the impossible?  Or is that the possible, that I could do it if I put in the effort & training??

Back to the task at hand.  The run.  I much prefer to run outdoors, but some mornings it’s hard to get out of bed.  And they tell me that altitude training is really good for you.  Don’t you love people whose response to many things in life is “They Said”?   always want to ask who the F#ck is they? 

Everything I've read about training & altitude says the BEST combination is to live high (at altitude – sleeping, eating & going about your normal day) & train low (exercise at sea level).  This kind of defeats the purpose or training at altitude for 30 minutes 3 times per week.  But various research papers say it helps.  So we give it a try.  It’s certainly harder than running outside.  Or on the treadmill outside of the cube.  But, I've increased my pace & distance over the past 3 months so I must be improving, right?

So. Who is in the cube today? No-one to start with.  Just me.  No TV to distract in here.  Just some terrible music.  Ha.  I suspect one of our management team is a budding DJ in her spare time.  I always feel like I'm in some sort of doof doof club when I'm here.  No recognizable melody, synthesized noise, heavy on base.  Does this mean I'm getting old?  So it’s me & my pod.  And my whiny brain.  Did I mention no TV?  Just my reflection in the glass wall of the cube.  

1/2km warm up done.  Time to start running.  Quick hitch of tights & adjustment of ear buds & we’re off. 1.5 degree incline, speed setting 9.  No, let’s make it 9.2 today.  Time for a PB.  You've got this.  Push.  That spare tyre you've developed over winter aint going nowhere unless you work harder.

My pony tail is very bouncy in the reflection today.  Hope the hair tie stays in properly.  Hm chin down girl, you’ll get a sore neck if you keep running with your head like that.  Posture!  “Everyone is full of shit, Born & raised by Hypocrites” “From the Cradle to the Grave” “I don’t care” First song done.  It’s a Green Day two parter (well, really a 5 part over 2 songs) – “Dearly beloved are you listening? I can’t remember a word you were saying” – ha story of my life.  2 songs per km. 5kms to go.  This is hard.  Shut up brain.  Just do it.  

Ohh good second tune Falling Joys – Jennifer – instantly transported back to the early 90’s & grungy pubs.  I think I was equally in love with the lead singer & the base guitarist.  She was a rock n roll goddess, & he was just, well, you know.  In a band & hot.  Now I'm grinning (or perhaps grimacing) like a crazy person remembering the last gig my mate T & I saw them play, at the Annandale in Sydney on our first ever grown up holiday.  Not their last gig, just ours seeing them.

1.5kms down, 4.5 to go.  In comes Rover.  Flash him a quick grin & ponder for the bazillionth time why the girls at this gym are so unfriendly??  The 2 girls on the front desk are super friendly & know everyone by name & will introduce you to other members, both genders.  But the girl members – bah – in 3 months I reckon I've managed to get two to smile back at me.  Although I got my 3rd smile today in the car park.  As I arrived a lady was leaving – I said hi & smiled & she smiled back!  The blokes however, I'm on a nod or verbal g’day with half a dozen regulars already!  Why????  I'm just not that intimidating.  Maybe it’s the grinning like a lunatic on the treadmill……… or the lip syncing??.  Sigh.

“I Got Bills, Bills to Pay” Disco tune.  Awesome.  Now I can imagine my mate Ev skipping & disco dancing on the treadmill next to me.  Today he can be in a white sequinned elvisesque body suit.  Ha.  He’d love that.  He has Jazz hands & is playing air trumpet!! How he never falls off that tready even dancing backwards never ceases to amaze me.  

Another half km done. 4 to go & the sweat is about to start.  Fast fwd this tune.  Why is it still on my play list?  It’s too slow for speed work!!!  Even though we’re not really doing speed work. Nevertheless it is still too slow!! I wonder how many more times this conversation will play in my head before I delete the tune. 

Jimmy Barnes “I’d die to be with you tonight” is up next, not sure if this should stay on the play list either; it’s a bit slow but it reminds me of good chunks of high school.  The sweat is starting to pour out like an oil slick - starts out slow, then there's no stopping it!  Forehead, neck, chest, dripping off my elbows.  Eww.  Towel is getting a good work out now, every 1/2km – head, neck, chest, elbows.  Why does no one else seem to sweat this much in here??  Thank god Rover is two tready’s over otherwise I might be spraying him with spittle like sweat blobs!!!  Double Eww.

3 to go, we’re at the half way point.  Easy Peazy Apple Squeazy.  Anyone can run 3kms.  God damn it.  Legs feel heavy & dead, but that’s the way it is in the cube.  Posture check.  Neutral head woman!  Tuck that chin in. Shake shoulders & arms out. Perfect, Taylor Swift – Shake it out.  Ev is back wearing Taylor’s white TuTu with Elton John Glasses!  Hahahaha Elbows back into piston position, swinging forward & back (with the odd swipe against my shirt to alleviate the dripping sweat).  Better.  Now if only we could get our legs to maintain that proper running motion.  Yes, I run like a girl with an arc like swing on my right leg.  Which reminds me of the bloke I was running behind during the sandy point half, he did it on both sides.  Not an attractive look.  Must research what (if anything) I can do about that.  Somehow I don’t think I’ll ever look like a gazelle running.  Spose I should put up a photo illustrating that on the blog so people understand what I’m on about.  One does always present one’s best look doesn’t one.

Rover is done. Heads out for paper towel.  Why don’t they have a dispenser in here??  There is one precast wall it could be fastened to if they didn’t want to fasten it to the glass.  And a bin.  Back in again to wipe a minimal amount of sweaty hand marks off the treadmill.  He is so bloody fit.  That, his height & the footy shorts earned him the nickname rover.  And he’s very strong.  Possibly the same age.  Or 10 years younger.  Or 10 years older.  I have no idea when it comes to judging other people’s age.  I do admire his athleticism though.  As I admire the majority of my fellow gym goers.  2.5kms to go.  Feeling puffed which makes me feel anxious.

Puppies.  Think about puppies.  You can’t be anxious while thinking about puppies.  My mate is getting a lab puppy soon.  I can’t wait to meet him – the puppy that is.  There isn't anything much cuter than a fat bellied lab puppy.  Three deep breaths in & huff them out hard – get rid of all that old air in your lungs.  Posture check.  Focus.  

Footloose – here’s a new idea.  Ev is outside, in the gym facing me, doing the full dance routine from the movie!  He did lead a dance troupe or three at Mardi Gras so believe me – he has the moves.  Reminds me of the recent Adam Goodes/Racism incident.  The best thing I read about that was “Ooh – we've turned into the town from Footloose – we’re afraid of a little dance”!!!  Gold.  Yes, I'm grinning like a lunatic again, threatening to break into dance to mirror Ev, but I would fall off the treadmill if I did that!!!

Almost time to speed up the treadmill for the last km.  Better be a good song next. No. No. No. Fast fwd three times.  Yes.  Rage Against The Machine – Killing in the name Of.  OK, up we go to 9.5 - 900 metres to go, 9.6 - 800 metres, 9.7 - 700 metres, 9.8 - 600 metres, 10 - 500 metres, 10.2 - 400 metres COME ON (Leyton Hewitt style) 10.5 - 300m, 11.5 - 200 metres 13 -100 metres SMASH IT OUT!!!!!!! TRIUMPH!!!!!!!!!!!! slow the bloody thing down before you fall off!!!

Towel off.  Actually, leave the towel over your shoulders to soak up the excess.  Cool down time - walk for half a km. get halfway through & feel like I could run some more.  WHAT?? ARE YOU CRAZY.  Just stick to the plan woman.  6kms today, 8 on Thursday, 21.1km event Sunday.  God I hope it’s not raining on Sunday.  Or windy.  Yeah, as if that’s a possibility.  They don’t call it windy Warrnambool for nothing.  

OK, 7kms done.  Time to clean up the slick.  Why am I the only person who drips sweat on the lower frame of the machine??  I will not get the evil eye from anyone for not wiping up after myself!!!

Almost done with the cube, but not quite yet.  Time for a mat.  Smash out some core work; inflict pain carry out myofascial release using spikey ball & then foam roll legs from every conceivable angle.  Stretch!  Hammies, Calves, Achilles, Hip Flexors, Glutes.  Done.  

Hmm.  What's for dinner?????

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sandy Point Half Marathon & a PB

I hadn't planned on running the Sandy Point Half Marathon, but a friend who lives that way who is newish to running events talked me into it  encouraged me to do it with her.

We ended up having a hectic day prior with a celebratory lunch with my aunt & uncle (& cousin's) who've just sold their house.  Plumbing Boy had to collect his Mum from the other side of town while I got a few chores done.  Next we had to pick up some furniture & drop it off in a friends garage, then back over the other side of town to drop of the MIL & then head to friends around the corner for our god daughters 20th birthday dinner.  

It wasn't the kind of day I would normally plan leading up to an event - despite having run quite a few half marathon events now I still get quite nervous & anxious if things aren't well organised.  That day was what you would call organised chaos!  Plus we didn't get home til 11.00pm & we had a 5.30am alarm to get up to!

Had arranged to pick up running friend at 7.50am - who wasn't ready.  Her hubby & their 3 kids + another friend had planned on walking/running the 5km, but hubby was out injured with a bad back, so was to hang out with PB holding the excess clothes.  BTW, plaster cast comes off in 4 weeks, no plates or pins required after seeing the specialist, but cant get back on his dirt bike until 12 weeks from date of break.

I had to go out to the car & wait with PB & do some deep breathing as friends decided now we'd all go together & things were somewhat frantic inside getting kids dressed & shoes on.  I hate being late & when running an event, NEED to be there at least 30 minutes before the start!  So yes, I was a bundle of anxiety.  It wasn't pleasant.

We made it to the event with 10 minutes to spare.  A friend of a friend was also running the event & spotted me as we arrived so had a quick chat with her, which was lovely & calming!!!  The sun was out, the sky was blue, the breeze light.  Ditched my jumper with a couple of minutes to spare as we headed to the starting chute.  

Running friend is a little faster than me so we started out together, but I told her to take off & run her own race!  I'm not one for chatting while running anyway - apart from the fact it's hard!!!  I prefer to listen to my music.  First km was a little fast & I had to slow myself down as I'd have run out of legs at that pace (5.15).  Settled into the run & found myself running faster than I thought I should, & several times had to slow the pace just a little.  A pace of 5 minutes 30 seconds per km would have given me a PB, so was aiming for just under that.

Spotted running friend & friend of friend between the 9 & 10km markers heading back - they were about a km or so ahead of me as expected.  We yelled out to each other with a wave & a smile & continued our respective runs.  It was pretty much at this point that I conceded believed I was in with a good chance of running a personal best!  So long as my knee held up I'd be OK.

I decided to wear my Kayano 20's on this run.  They had 550kms on them prior to the event.  I usually retire them from running at around the 600km mark & just wear them for gym or to work.  The Kayano's are a stability shoe for mild pronation.  The Nike Lunar Glides I wore for the marathon & the last half of marathon training are more of a neutral shoe & while I was fitted for them in store, it has more recently occurred to me that no amount of fitting in store will take into account body fatigue towards the end of a long run.

After a chat with my acupuncturist recently about ITB in my body & the order of muscle fatigue, it had me thinking about needing to wear the more stable shoe at distance & leave the neutral shoe for shorter distances & speed work.  So I decided to test the theory out & am happy to report NO KNEE PAIN AT ALL!!!! And a PB!!!!!!  I came in at 1 hour 53 mins & 35 seconds pace 5.22 (previous PB 1:56:11).

Powered the last 5kms home, reeling in a few runners who'd passed me earlier.  I'd line one up & decided that by the next km I would overtake them.  Definitely helps keep your mind busy!  There were a few runners who over took me too, but I was very happy with the strong finish including overtaking a guy in the finishing chute!  Heard PB & co cheer me over the finish line & also saw friend of friend immediately after & had a chat to her & her hubby & kids.  

I quite like the smaller events, although there is nothing quite like the Melbourne Marathon with people lining the streets & cheering you the whole way!  There were still a few kids out giving high fives at this event & I made an effort to oblige all!  Including cheering on some of the volunteers who were giving runners a cheer & clap on the way past.

Spent the afternoon with our friends having a BBQ & celebrating PB's all round with a few glasses of bubbles!  Missed out on soaking in the tub Sunday night & was quite stiff on Monday.  My legs still haven't recovered I don't think!  Saturday was a HARD 14kms with legs protesting every step of the way & SLOW (we shall call it an Everest run Carol!!)!!!!

Taper is now on for the Warrnambool Athletic's Half Marathon in a couple of weeks.  Not sure I'll be able to pull off another PB, but have rewarded myself with new shoes (Kayno 21's).