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.

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I passed!

I passed the first test. I was asked to participate in a new women’s group that is starting up. Something I am actually interested in and ordinarily would have said yes. But I said no! I wished them well and said I hope it is still going next year so I can join in then.

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It was my first day back at work today after 3 weeks off. The office was closed that whole time so I had a crazy day working through a backlog of emails and phone messages.

However, I came home, hopped onto Zwift for 30 minutes, had some dinner, and found myself with an entire evening looming ahead with absolutely no obligations, deadlines, must-dos or should-dos.

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The Zwift mountains reminded me of the rides around Jindabyne just two weeks ago. Except I was on the wrong side of the road today!

This feeling of “free time” is WONDERFUL! I’ve known for a long time that something had to give. I’m so glad I finally made it happen and I am excited for what 2017 will bring.

That is all.

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2017 Jindy Training Camp

I survived the training camp at Jindabyne. What a relief. 

Highlights:

Climbing to the top of Mt Kosciuszko

Completing my longest bike ride to date. There were some rests in this time.

Riding from Little Thredbo to Thredbo and back. I walked up 3 or 4 hills.

Where to for 2017?

Half marathons in March and September

Sprint triathlons in May and October
How will I do it? Careful planning, time management and no excuses. 

Over the past two years I have been deliberately removing possible excuses from my life.

I replaced my shoe laces with elastic laces so I have no reason to stop and check/tie laces when running.

We have downsized our home from 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 2 acres of grass to a small 2 bedroom flat in a duplex (less cleaning, less tidying, fewer belongings). 

I am no longer on any committees.

I have no regular commitments other than work. I don’t usually make new year resolutions but this year I am determined to avoid being too busy to do grocery shopping and cooking. If asked to do anything requiring regular attendance, whether 2 weeks or 6 months, my answer will be no. Just for 12 months. 

My theory is that this will mean fewer late night deadlines which in turn will hopefully result in fewer skipped morning training sessions. More consistent training, better eating and time to reconnect with family and friends at short notice.

It will be hard, I’m sure. I thought I would have time to commit to posting regularly on this blog but that’s another commitment. I will probably post more often but I won’t be committing to a regular schedule. 

No excuses left! 

2016, where are you? 

It is hard to believe that it’s already late on 2nd January 2017. 2016 has flown. 

In October I signed up for the Forster Sprint triathlon at the last minute. I still wasn’t feeling great and training was ordinary but this was just for fun. No expectations. 

I was happy to see one of the official photos showing me actually leaning into a corner!

Then at the end of November, I completed my second half marathon (Central Coast). The course was out and back and hugged the coastline of the bay. It was hot though and I am still struggling to get back to where I was with my running. I went into the race with a plan to run 5 minutes then walk 1 minute. Unfortunately, I was stuck near a group running together. I think it was wonderful that they were all out there supporting each other but they were using both sides of the path and I had to sprint to pass them. Then when I got to my walks they would pass me again. I eventually managed to get far enough ahead by skipping a couple of walks but I overdid it. 

Pre-race

My original goal for Sydney was 2:20. My modified would-be-super-happy goal for Central Coast based on training quantity and paces was 2:30 but I wasn’t confident I would even make 2:45. Final time was 2:38 which was more than 10 minutes faster than my first half. So much easier when you don’t injure yourself. There was A LOT of walking in the second half. 

Approx 16km in. One parkrun to go. Photo credit to my very supportive husband.

And there was a medal. And a longest run on my new watch. My longest training run leading into this race was only 12km.

Also in November, my home parkrun won a local council sports development award. Our team was quite stoked. Over 180 different people had volunteered at Tamworth parkrun in the 12 months of the award period. Such a simple yet amazingly effective concept.

In December, I stood down as the Tamworth parkrun event director and did a bit of parkrun tourism. I was hoping to visit my 20th different parkrun by the end of the year. I did my 20th on 31st December.

Mt Penang parkrun, November

Narrabri parkrun, December. This one was special as a friend from Tamworth joined me for a road trip leaving at some ungodly hour to be there and we met up with another friend who was a Narrabri local. It was a very small crowd and I ended up first in age category with a slowish run/walk.

Forster parkrun with my mum, December. This was only their third or fourth week. I’m so excited about it launching because I was travelling 30min to Taree whenever I visited my parents. Usually the morning after driving 3.5 hours to their place. This is a stunning 3 lap coastal course.

Ginninderra parkrun, 31st December. My 60th parkrun, 20th different course and 5th State/Territory (NSW, Qld, Tas, NT, ACT). Also the first single loop parkrun I’ve done. Another pretty location but a bit lonely behind the runners and ahead of the walkers.

Tuggeranong parkrun, 1st January. I look like I’m running alone but I was one of 263 who turned up for the New Year’s Day event. No 1st in age category at this one. And the friend from Narrabri was also there unexpectedly! It was nice to see a familiar face amongst all the other friendly faces.

So what does 2017 hold? Who knows. I considered quitting triathlons and running altogether several times recently but I really do enjoy it, especially the running. Right now, I’m in Jindabyne at a triathlon training camp which I’d booked in July. I didn’t think about the terrain  (winter ski country) at the time. Tomorrow’s ride from Little Thredbo to Thredbo, on the roads no less, is going to be both a mental and physical challenge. I generally avoid hills as much as possible. 

The lake is beautiful though. We did a swim and run today along with some tyre/tube changing practice.

Still hoping for a sub 30 min 5km. I have signed up for the Port Macquarie Running Festival half marathon in March. I have the deferred Sydney Half Marathon to doin Sydney and a few triathlons thrown into the mix. 

I hope you’re all having a great start to the year. All the best for 2017!

Tamworth parkrun turns 2

My home parkrun turned 2 on Saturday. For 104 consecutive Saturdays, volunteers have hosted this free, timed 5km run. The previous two weeks looked like they would need to be cancelled due to imminent flooding but were able to proceed at the last minute.

Our theme for the birthday celebration was to come dressed as something starting with P. Some costumes were a little abstract (person, participant, puppy walker) while others were more obvious (pirates, police, patients, pink panther, Penelope Pitstop). Others wore purple or pink or PJs. Pirate seemed to be the most popular and that was also my choice.

My co-event director was Pikachu. Our photographer was a princess. You can see all the photos here.

These are my favourites.

I was recognised for my 50th parkrun (along with two others). We had a lovely cake too. After a couple of miserable days the sun popped out for us.

Near the turnaround point. I need to learn to time my thumbs ups better to avoid looking like I’m attempting the chicken dance.

Towards the end, I was starting to overheat. I struggle to keep cool even with a visor, let alone with a scarf and eye patch. The patch was see through.

Someone needs to design costumes for runners that are breathable. This nylon/polyester dress was also quite transparent so I wore short tights and an ordinary singlet underneath. H.O.T.

There were about 5 more pirates but they had left by the time the photographer tried to get us all together.

I’m not quite back to 100% yet but still managed to run 33:30. I was grateful to be up and about again. Back into half marathon training this week.

Sydney Running Festival – 9km Bridge Run 

I ended up participating in the 9km Bridge Run race today. I ran with a friend who has also been sick recently. Neither of us were anywhere near our peak or even recent fitness level. We agreed to implement a plan to run 800m then walk 200m for the entire distance. However we also agreed that if either of us needed to walk further or run slower, then we would. This race became all about enjoyment of the scenery and company and simply encouraging each other.

Prerace


On the bridge

At least when I return next year for my deferred half marathon entry I won’t be as tempted to stop for selfies on the bridge. (I need to do something about my hair I think.)

It makes sense now that I think about it but I had always pictured aircraft carriers with a flat deck…

And it’s over. Nice bling. Possibly the prettiest in my collection to date.

Not a fast run but quite enjoyable. I’m grateful to have even been able to move after the lead up I’d had.

Post race 

As you can see, it was overcast and drizzly. Perfect weather for me to run in.

We caught a City Cat ferry (catamaran) home travelling under the bridge again. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking at this bridge or the Opera House.

I’ll probably never stop being a tourist either. 


We also managed a mostly-walk at Parramatta parkrun yesterday. 

And since the deferred half marathon is still a year away, I found another one to do as a consolation prize. I will now be running the Central Coast Half Marathon at the end of November. 

Happy running!

parkrun statistics

On Saturday, I completed my 50th parkrun. It took me over 2 1/2 years to reach this milestone. There were a couple of reasons for this:

1. There were no parkruns within 3 hours drive of home until about 5 months after I did my first parkrun

2. I’ve been heavily involved with getting Tamworth parkrun up and going so I have volunteered a lot more than most parkrunners (although not much more often than the rest of my super-supportive event team).

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If you haven’t yet discovered parkrun (which begin in the UK but has now spread to 14 countries) you should look it up. It’s a free, weekly, timed 5km run (or walk or combination). Every parkrun I’ve been to has been welcoming and friendly. (Check them out here www.parkrun.com or www.parkrun.com.au.)

I visited Darwin parkrun on a recent holiday and another lady there was visiting from Brisbane but I had met her when she used to live here in Tamworth!

Hot and humid at Darwin parkrun:

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My parkrun statistics:

Number of runs 50
Times volunteered 36 (officially)
parkrun PB 31:20 (28th May 2016)
parkruns visited 15
Armidale (3), Cairns (1), Callaghan (1), Campbelltown (1), Darwin (1), Dubbo (1), Hobart (1), Lake Mac (1), Logan River (1), Maitland (1), Newy (2), Port Macquarie (2), Singleton (1), Tamworth (30), Taree(3)
Next parkrun Parramatta parkrun (17th September)

 

Other news:

– “Life” got too crazy and I withdrew from the 70.3 triathlon I was going to do in October. I could not manage the training load with everything else that was going on at the time. It was a difficult decision but I am confident it was the right one to make.

– After 11 years as a volunteer with the NSW SES, I have recently resigned as a member. Priorities and interests have changed over that time (I discovered triathlon!). I will probably join again sometime in the future when my work busy times don’t compete as heavily with SES peak periods.

– I registered for my second half marathon in February (a rematch after the last attempt when I sustained an injury partway into the race). That was supposed to be this coming weekend and until a few weeks ago I was on track for a goal time of 2:25. However, about 1 1/2 weeks ago I was struck down by an unidentified virus and was pretty much bedridden for about 8 days. Under doctor’s orders (but it was a no-brainer really) I have withdrawn. I was able to defer the entry to next year with no penalty. I was back at work today and will do my first short run tomorrow. If it goes well then I may consider entering the 9km race option instead (since I was a cheapskate and purchased non-refundable tickets and no travel insurance). If it’s all too hard then I will attend as a spectator and cheer on the many friends who are running in various events. My last big training weekend was 3 consecutive days of running with a goal pace of 6:45. I nailed the first two (6km run to parkrun followed by parkrun, then a 7km run the next day) and mostly managed the third (another 7km run).

The first two days:

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At the moment, I am goal-less, race-less and restless. My main focus will be getting back to 100% health (and I’m not prepared to risk my health just to run a race this weekend even if it is over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and finishing at the Opera House). Other than that, I’m still working on that sub-30 minute 5km!

Hope to see you at parkrun somewhere! Tamworth parkrun’s second anniversary celebration is coming up on 24th September with a “p” theme. Stay tuned for this year’s costume. At least this year I should be able to run in my outfit – unlike last year’s sumo suit.

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