Category Archives: Uncategorized

Strava made me do it

Two days and two posts! I should probably schedule this to post later to give you a break but this is my year of doing whatever whenever, so here it is.

My local triathlon club held a duathlon recently which was nice for something a bit different (1km run/6km ride/1km run/6km ride/1km run). I ran with another lady who is recovering from an injury which puts her at my pace (except it was pushing me hard). She would leave me behind on the bike then wait for me in transition for the run. She said she wanted to stick with me because I keep a consistent pace and she wouldn’t overdo it if she stayed with me. It was nice to have a bit of a social “race” and someone to chat with along the way.

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After the race, as we were all packing up, I noticed a bike for sale on the roof of someone’s car. A nice bike. A small bike. A looks-like-a-real-cyclist bike. A probably-waaaaaay-out-of-my-price-range-but-I-really-really-like-it bike.

I took it for a quick spin around the carpark wearing sneakers and with the bike still set up for the previous owner. Oh my! It was so comfortable. I didn’t realise how uncomfortable I was on my bike until I sat on that one. I have assumed that is just how cycling is. Uncomfortable. Riding around the carpark I barely had any pressure through my wrists and palms. I’ve had two bike fits done in the past and each one has made me more comfortable than before but this? This was like putting your ugg boots and pyjamas on at the end of a winter day and snuggling up with a doona, a hot milo and a good book or movie. Seriously.

I took the seller’s phone number “just in case”. That afternoon, after a bit of persuasion discussion with hubby, I phoned the seller and arranged to borrow the bike for a week so I could take it for a longer ride and see if it still felt good. Who would want to buy a bike based on a short ride only to find out on the first long ride that it’s not really as nice as it seemed. He was kind and clever enough to put my pedals on it too. (The bike belonged to his son, which is why it’s small enough for me.)

Here are a couple of still shots from video my husband recorded for me to send to my coach for some feedback on whether it looked like a good fit. To be honest, I was going to make my decision based on feel not looks!

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It’s a shame my favourite Smashfest Queen tri kit doesn’t match the bike!
Guess I’ll have to buy a new kit.

On Saturday morning I dropped in to the local bike shop with the love-at-first-sight-dream-bike to ask if it needed any work done to it. I’d be horrified to part with a significant amount of money only to find that I need to spend several hundred more dollars getting it repaired, and I have no idea about such things. That’s why we have bike shops and bike mechanics. I’ll do my part to keep a local business going! The verdict: A new chain and new tyres and I would be good to go, but okay for me to do a 50km-ish ride on Sunday to test it out.

The bike is a full 2kg lighter than my current one (turns out it has a carbon frame – oh so tempting). If I turn too tightly with my feet in the wrong position the front wheel hits my feet which is a bit scary but as long as I’m aware of it, and remember, I can handle it. Apparently that is quite common on smaller bikes – I googled it – and I have now learned about ratchet pedalling.

Sunday morning I met up with some friends who are prepared to ride slowly with me and far enough away from me that I don’t feel freaked out crowded. If I came off, I wanted someone there to be able to call hubby and tell him. Fortunately, they weren’t required to make that call.

And here’s a still shot from some gopro footage courtesy of one of the very patient friends who rode with me. It was very chilly! I recently invested in some shoe bootie cover thingies and some decent gloves but I haven’t bought anything warm for the legs yet. We go out early to beat the traffic, starting in the dark at this time of year.

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The gear sizes are different to my current bike and the gear changing mechanism and process is also different. I am still having trouble with gear selection after 2 and a half years of riding my bike so I didn’t always pick good gears on this ride. I often couldn’t work out how to change between big and small chainrings at the front and I struggled going up the hills.

Despite my inability to select or change gears properly I still managed to nab some personal best records on strava. I bettered my time on one 12km stretch by 3.5 minutes! That is a potential saving of 45 minutes over a 180km race.

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SOLD! I juggled my budget, negotiated a payment plan and bought the bike. It’s now at the shop having its new chain and tyres fitted.

I felt more stable on the downhills and braked less. I was comfortable enough to reposition my hands on the handlebars to adjust my position and give my back or shoulders a break (on the flat anyway). To my surprise and delight, I even managed to put my hands up on the top of the bars going uphill!

What was almost a selling point on its own was that I can wheel the bike by holding the seat like I’ve seen all the super fast triathletes doing at races. I always assumed I couldn’t do it due to my uncoordinated-ness. But maybe, it was the bikes I have owned.

My last race of the season might have been horrendous but I am excited and looking forward to next season with my toy.

My new (to me) pride and joy:

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The bike purchase was the highlight of the weekend. Then I followed up with some 200m run efforts Monday morning. Who would ever have thought my body was physically capable of running at these paces even over short distances? Certainly not I!

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Enough about me, what about you? Have you surprised yourself in training recently? Have you ever made a purchase that reignited your passion for your chosen sport or hobby? What was it?

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It’s about time…

It’s about time I came back with my race reports!

Standard distance race report:

Swim = Horrible

Bike = OK

Run = Walk

Enticer superhero race report: Fun, fun, fun.

 

The swim was two laps with a short run (walk) along the beach between each lap. There was a massive swell. Someone said 1.8m. The waves weren’t breaking on us but they were stopping me from swimming. I don’t get much practice with waves or chop in my local 25m indoor pool!

Two things got me through the first lap:

  • Knowing I couldn’t drown in my new super-duper wetsuit, and
  • Knowing that when I got to shore they would tell me it was too rough so they were cancelling the second lap.

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Only they didn’t tell me that. I spent 5 minutes on shore debating whether to attempt the second lap. My garmin had registered 1.1km for the first half of a 1.5km swim. I debated how many water safety peoples’ lives I would be risking by trying to go around again. Even after I waded back in to the point that I had to start swimming, I stopped. I pondered. I debated back and forth. I decided I’d spent a lot of money getting there and entering, and buying a wetsuit so I might as well try to finish.

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I was not in as much of a hurry as the person in the green cap!

This photo is deceptive. The water looks flat. The waves were huge. I reckon that is one wave showing here from the foamy break line to the top of the water/sky horizon, not a wide expanse of water.

The second lap wasn’t quite as bad, maybe because I was telling myself I’d survived it once I could survive again, or maybe because the swell had dropped a little. I will never know. I DO know, I drank a lot of sea water in that hour. I also know that my new wetsuit was worth every cent. It did not give me any grief at all. I didn’t have to adjust it or fight against it. It was just there keeping me afloat. A far cry from the panic-inducing first wetsuit swim I did.

 

Off onto the bike. I have often joked that a benefit of being a slow swimmer is that it’s easy to find your bike in transition. Here’s proof.

Here I come. Still not in any kind of rush.

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There I go.

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The bike was okay. Because the swim took so much longer than expected my nutrition plan had to be adjusted on the fly. I had no idea what to do about all the sea water I’d swallowed. My electrolyte drink sort of burned as it passed down my salt-affected throat. Water was okay. The bike was three laps. The first time up the biggish hill, I thought “this isn’t as bad as I remember”. The second time was every bit as bad as I remembered. On the third time around I had a headwind.

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Off onto the run. Oh boy. There’s all that salt water. It was sloshing around inside my tummy making me feel ill. I kept thinking if I could stir it up enough to get it out, I’d feel great but I couldn’t push myself to that point and ended up run/walking. I walked about half. I would run until I felt sick and walk until it felt manageable.

 

I went into this race thinking it would be an easy PB over the distance given my recent training paces. I could not have been more wrong. I was slower by about the same time I thought I’d be quicker.

Although I know I have a lot of room for improvement both physically and mentally, I can see that I have come a long way mentally. Not long ago I probably would have given up at the end of the first swim lap.

 

And I most certainly would not have got back in the water that afternoon, in a costume no less, for another race. The waves were still big, but not quite as big. And the race was shorter.

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Superhero race entrants

The crowd was more enthusiastic out on the bike course with cheers of “go wonder woman” or variations on that theme.

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Same on the run/walk. I was encouraged to call on my super powers. I joked that they’d been taken from me for bad behaviour.

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So the day was up and down, much like the water in the swim.

Doing the superhero race with friends (we planned our matching outfits) was a fantastic way to end the season.

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I don’t know where this image came from, I saved it to my phone a long time ago. Looks like facebook according to the top right hand corner. It’s not a page I follow. It does a good job of summarising how I feel about these races.

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Because we stayed an extra night after the race we got to have a delicious late breakfast at a beachside cafe and discovered our own little Aussie slice of Egypt (sand, pyramids and camels) at Birubi Beach!

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Time for an update 

My “year of no” is going so fast! I realised at work the other day that I only have three more fortnightly payrolls to process before the end of financial year. Again. Already. Wasn’t it Christmas last week?

With all the public holidays around Easter and Anzac Day, we took 5 days of annual leave and had a relaxing time visiting my parents at the coast for 12 beautiful days. Time for some long runs and rides without having to stress about getting to work on time. And a casual ride with Dad one afternoon.

I volunteered at their local parkrun as tailrunner on Easter weekend. It was also my birthday and some friends from Tamworth travelled over primarily to check out a new parkrun and to run with me on my birthday. It was really special.

Before that though, in early April, I had a medical appointment in Newcastle on a Monday morning so we decided to go down for the weekend so I could notch up another tourist parkrun. I went to Stockton parkrun and managed another sub 30:00 min 5km. The only one I’ve achieved since my previous post. It’s yet another beautiful, waterside location. I now have 24 different parkrun locations under my belt. Considering there are only three (including home) within a two hour drive radius of home I think that’s pretty good.

While chatting to people after parkrun, the Hill to Harbour 10km run was mentioned. It was being held the following day. I had nothing planned so I signed up! Since when did I become someone who could decide to do a 10km race the day before? It started with a long run uphill before dipping down to the harbour and finishing with a lengthy flat run. (And a 10km PB!)

At the end of April I did my first 100km bike ride on a supported ride (vehicles with warning signs). It was a long day in the saddle. I’d had several friends trying to convince me to give it a crack. I resisted a long time but eventually bowed to peer pressure and am rather pleased to have achieved it. This was at the 80km rest break.

A few of us have signed up for the Coffs Harbour version of this same ride in July (part of Cycling NSW’s #five100 series). Road trip! We have a chauffeur organised (husband of a friend) and bike racks consolidated.

Speaking of road trips, the same group of us are heading to Port Stephens Triathlon Festival this weekend. We had all signed up for the Sprint distance (750m swim/20km ride/5km run). Until yesterday when I changed my registration to the standard distance (double the sprint).

One reason was because the organisers offered free entry into a “Superhero” wave in the enticer event with any other race entry. We all signed up for that too and bought matching costumes (to wear over our trisuits). When the race schedule was released we realised we are all too slow to finish the sprint before the superhero race starts. Especially with our waves starting later. By changing to the standard race I will have time to do the superhero race with another friend from Sydney who bought a costume to match ours.

We deliberately chose one without a cape (don’t need any extra hindrances in the water) and we probably won’t bother with the mask.

Another reason for changing was the start times. The sprint starts at 1pm! The standard at 8am so I should hopefully be finished by 12pm. No afternoon running required.

The third reason for changing is that I need to get an idea of how fast I ride in a race these days over a longer distance. Because I also signed up for the LCW Jervis Bay. It’s a kind of choose your own adventure race. The swim is on the Friday, ride Saturday and run Sunday. There are a range of distances for each leg so you can do a short swim/long ride/medium run combination, or no swim or just a fun run. Whatever you like! I signed up for the full ironman distances – GULP! 3.8km swim. 180km bike ride. 42.2km run. My first marathon will be the day after a 180km hilly bike ride. My coach has her work cut out for her! My biggest concern is that I don’t currently ride fast enough to meet the 8 hour cutoff even if I don’t take any loo breaks. I haven’t mastered eating on the bike yet either. I don’t know how the ironman competitors do it. At least I know that I can have a good meal and sleep after the bike. I don’t have to run straight away.

I figured that with this being my year of “no”, now is when I’m most likely to have time to train for these bigger distances at my pace.

The medals layer over each other. One for each leg you do. And there’s a special 4th medal for everyone who completes the three longest distances. The bling might have been the deciding factor.  It will be similar to this one.

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(Above picture sourced from LCW Jervis Bay’s facebook page)

I’ve been astounded by the impact my mental freshness  (due to lack of commitments and deadlines) has had on my ability to focus on my training! And my nutrition but I think that’s enough for today.

What’s your biggest goal or achievement this year?

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I can’t remember exactly when I started a C25K program for the first time. It was most likely about seven years ago. After multiple attempts, I eventually made it to the end and have kept going from there.

Fast forward to today. I finally cracked the 30 minute barrier for a 5km run at my local parkrun. It’s been a long time coming.

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There have been moments of insane jealousy when friends reached this milestone sooner. I know I should have simply been happy for them but the truth is I wasn’t. Not 100% anyway.

The support of the parkrun and triathlon communities is incredible. I would like to send a huge thank you into the universe for every post like, strava kudos, high five and comment, whether in person or online.

And if you are currently where I was, feeling jealous, wanting to “unfriend” people on facebook so you don’t have to see their fast run posts, please tick with it. You’re not alone!

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I am over the moon. This run topped off a pretty awesome couple of weeks for me. I did sneak in a small 30 second walk at 4.3km when I was debating whether I really wanted the sub-30 enough to keep pushing. I gave myself a stern talking to, reminding myself it was only another 5-6 minutes to the finish. Not another 2 hours like last week… so off I trotted.

And yet, I ended up with the least flattering parkrun photo I think I’ve ever had.

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I’m not sure if this was the eye-roll at the photographer for waiting at the top of a small incline, or wondering if I really wanted to keep going. This was just before my walk break.

Usually I manage to smile or wave or at least look like I’m enjoying myself. I always enjoy parkrun. It’s so friendly and encouraging. I see it as more of a social activity rather than part of my training.

Port Macquarie Running Festival 2017–Half Marathon

I went into this race with a lot of writing on my hand. I had three average paces and what finish time they would give me:

6:58 pace –> 2 hours 27 minutes (pipe dream, over the moon goal)

7:04 pace –> 2 hours 29 minutes (realistic goal based on training)

7:18 pace –> 2 hours 34 minutes (would still be a PB)

 

I met with my coach the night before the race (she lives in Port Macquarie) and we discussed my plan to “just go with it” if I was a bit faster than 7:02 for the first few kilometres. I often start a race fast (zig-zagging around other competitors) then settle into my normal slower pace. I didn’t plan to do this if I was insanely fast (sub 6:30) because I know I can’t sustain that for long but I thought 6:45-6:55 would be okay. She didn’t like my plan and assured me that even if I felt okay at the beginning, I would pay for it at about 19km.

So, I also scribbled 7:02 15km – 7:15 on my hand. She had calculated that I could run at 7:02 pace for the first 15km then drop back to 7:15 for the final 6.1km and I would meet my 2:30 goal. I would have needed to be at 5km at 35.11, 10km at 1:10, 15km at 1:45 and 20km at 2:22. This was all scribbled on the back on my hand.

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15 hours later

The race started and I was very quickly at the back of the pack. I had people behind me but I didn’t think there were many. No zig-zagging required because there was a lot of space. No sprinting to get around people. I settled into my “comfortable pace” pretty much straight away. It was too fast though. I was averaging around 6:43. I have always struggled to run at a target pace. I seem to have run or walk settings. Sometimes the run is fast, other times not. Today happened to be a fast day.

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This was a good race for spectators – I ran past my support crew and chauffeur
(AKA hubby) 6 times. This was at about 6km I think.

I made it to the 5km mark early at 33.33. I kept waiting for my body to reject the fast speed. This was the pace I had been training at back in August/September before I got sick but I haven’t been able to run longer distances as quickly since then. At 10km I was still ahead of schedule (1:07.11) and at 15km I was 4 minutes ahead of schedule (1:40.52) with an average pace of 6:44 still. The wheels did start to fall off a bit then. I walked some water stations. It was getting tough but I finally found my “race” mentality and thought, what if I can finish this with a 6:45 average pace? I couldn’t calculate what my finish time would be but I knew it would be under 2:27 from my pipe dream notes. (I’m sure there was a bit of determination not to give any opportunity for my coach to say “I told you so” as well.)

The 20th kilometre was my only one which dropped below 7:00 pace. I had one kilometre that was 6:28 but all the others were between 6:34 and 6:58 so I’m quite happy (#understatementoftheyear) with my consistency. I pulled out a 6:49 for the final kilometre and finished in 2:23.27! A huge PB. 12 minutes faster than my training run two weeks ago and 15 minutes quicker than my last half marathon race.

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The time on the clock behind me was for the 10km event which started before I finished. Some people completed the “Treble Breakwall Buster”. They ran the half marathon in under 2 hours, then backed up for a 10km in under 1 hour and finished off with a 5km. There was no cutoff time for the 5km.

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I didn’t finish last, but even if I had, I still would have been incredibly happy with my finish time.

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Nice bling and a well-organised event.

parkrun milestones

Three years after my first parkrun, I finally cracked the 50% age grading today! I shaved more than a minute off my PB on this course (set last May!) and was almost 2 and 1/2 minutes faster than my best time this year. Such a great start to the weekend. One of the most positive, friendly and encouraging community events I’ve ever been part of.

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Find a parkrun near you and check it out! Despite the name, you don’t have to run – walkers are also accepted and welcomed! And it’s free. All it will cost you is a bit of time and effort to register and print a personalised barcode. After that, all you do is turn up to any parkrun IN THE WORLD with that same barcode for a free, timed, 5km run/walk. Just remember to check local start times as it does vary from one event to another.

068 - 4th March 2017 - Tamworth parkrun 38, New PB Sub 31 50 age grade

I mistimed my wave at the photographer and I think I might have been trying to talk to her as well. Approximately 3.5km into today’s parkrun.

This run was my last “effort” run before the half marathon next weekend. The other runs this week have been a bit tough. They were short but my legs were feeling a bit heavy. I was quite surprised by the result today. I had done a 1km ‘warm up’ before driving to parkrun and that was very slow. I don’t usually do a warm up run so there might be something to that…

The week before last though when I ran my 30 minute 5km also included a 200m swim PB, a local club tri PB and my long run on the Sunday resulted in an unofficial 3 minute half marathon PB as well. I say unofficial because it wasn’t in a race but it’s on my garmin and strava so maybe that’s official after all.

I feel much better prepared going into this race than I did the last one (which wouldn’t really be hard). I am not-so-secretly hoping to crack the 2 hour 30 minute mark for the race. This was my goal for the Gold Coast Half Marathon in 2015 but I haven’t made it yet. I ran 2:35 last weekend on my own so I’m quietly confident that if the weather plays nicely, the race atmosphere will help me get there. (I also won’t have done a triathlon 12 hours before starting the race…) The course is a 3 lap out and back type and I know quite a few people who will be there so it will be nice to see friendly faces. It’ll be like parkrun on a huge scale. And 4 and a bit times as long.

On a completely different note, I also ventured onto the new volcano route in Zwift. The designers for this cycling “game” are so creative. Who would think of riding through a volcano? They’ve released another route up the volcano in the last couple of days which I haven’t tried yet.

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The low wattage outputs (top left) are when I was too busy trying to get
nice screenshots to bother pedalling.

The year so far

I am still saying “no”. Anything that requires me to do something or be somewhere more than once at a particular time is getting a blanket “no”. All year.

Okay, so I thought I might post more often because I’m not as busy but it has been soooooo nice just doing my training, pottering around the flat, reading a huge number of books and basically relaxing.

I had no idea how much pressure I had put myself under. I enjoyed doing all most of things I was doing. That’s why I had said yes to doing them in the first place. Now that I’m NOT doing them, I don’t miss them and I seem to finding the right head space to push harder in my training sessions, hoping for improvement rather than being satisfied if I manage to finish.

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Running in the early morning before the sun comes out certainly suits me better.

The benefits have been multi-faceted. I am losing weight (and more importantly, body fat)! I am feeling stronger on the bike (power to weight ratio improves as weight decreases). I am swimming faster (less drag). I am running further and faster (just as well since my next half marathon is just over two weeks away in lovely Port Macquarie).

I am still seeing the sports dietician every 3 weeks to keep me accountable (okay, that doesn’t count in my “no commitments plan).

One of the main swimming tips I took away from the January camp was breathing out through my nose instead of my mouth. This has made a huge difference. I don’t get out of breath as quickly, I am not as bloated after a swim session and I’m not as ravenously hungry afterward either. I’ve even been surprised sometimes to find that my set is finished rather than struggling to make it through the full plan.

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At Tamworth parkrun recently.

I have been struggling a bit on my Sunday long runs so have opted to volunteer at parkrun from last weekend until the race. Last Sunday I managed to run 16.5km without stopping for a walk. I’ve even learned how to sip water and eat while running. Somewhere in the middle of that run, I ran my fastest ever 10km.

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At Tamworth parkrun again.

On Tuesday I did a 6km run and realised that at some point over the last few months, a 6km run has become a short run. How and when did that happen? About 4km into this run my legs reminded me that I’d run 16.5km two days before. I struggled through the next 2km then had to tackle a small hill back home. I almost turned around to do the last km on the flat but would have had an extra long walk home and I would have been late for work. I trudged up the hill and was surprised to see that I’d actually averaged 6:24 pace for the whole run. Faster than any of my recent runs, even parkrun has been slower than that for 5km. The cooler temperatures early in the morning help. I do not enjoy running in the heat but I’m trying to work through that too. In that run, I did my second fastest 5km ever (31:38). My fastest is 31:16. (At some point I claimed to have done a 30:34 but I realised afterward that my watch hadn’t actually connected to GPS so I think it was averaging something.) And those two tough kilometres? I was running at 6:15-6:20 pace. No wonder my legs were screaming.

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Self-timer through the weeds.

This morning, I set out for an easy 5km. This might sound weird, but for the first time I felt like I looked like a runner. Usually I feel like if anyone looks at me they’d think “oh well, good on you for having a go”. I have no logical basis for this. About 3km in I realised a 30 minute 5km was within my grasp, I was averaging about 5:58 and anything faster than 6:00 would get me under 30 minutes. I scraped the 4th kilometre in at 5:54 but then I needed to walk. And stop and spit (which I NEVER do). Then I sprinted a bit to try to get average pace back under 6:00, then walked, then sprinted and so on. Until I hit 5km with an all-out push and my watch said I averaged 5:59. YAY! But when it uploaded into the app it was 6:00. Strava kindly deducted the time I’d spent trying to spit and wipe dribble and gave me an average pace of 5:58 and a time of 29:56. However, if I add up my 5 km splits from garmin, my time was exactly 30:00, to the second. So, I am claiming today as a 30 minute 5km and will save the sub-30 for another day.

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Thank you strava!

Rest day tomorrow, then local club tri Saturday night before a 21km run on Sunday. I won’t be running either of those at 6:00 pace I don’t think.

New records

I have also decided to go back to running in my Altra zero drop shoes rather than the other shoes the running shoe shop recommended for me. I thought they were great when I first got them, but I do really like the extra toe room in the Altras. I have bought another pair which don’t resemble ten-pin bowling shoes as much as these ones.

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If you’ve made it this far – thank you for persevering.