Dopey training – Week 21

It’s all getting very close and very real now and I think that’s making the training a mentally much harder task. Not to mention the fact that Term 4 is the most draining of all school terms for teachers (ignore all comments about ‘Aren’t you winding down for the end of the year?’) with a constant and demanding ‘to do’ list. And, while I know neither of those are an excuse, they may go towards explaining my mood this week.

So I didn’t run on Tuesday. I can’t even remember why or whether there was a particular reason. I just didn’t. I know I was ridiculously tired and our side of the planet has heated up considerably this week so both were contributing factors. I set the alarm for Wednesday morning instead…..then turned it off and had a sleep in. ‘I can make it up’ I told myself and moved on.

On Thursday, I knew I really had to do it so went out after school, showing some resilience as it was raining when I left and built up to a drenching by the last 2 kms. I ran around the block, which I haven’t done for a while and enjoyed it. Even more shocking, I was quite speedy for the first time in ages and felt strong throughout my run. I guess that’s what the combination of long runs and rested legs do for you. I dripped my way back into the house (literally) with a smile on my face.

I was due to do my 2nd 45 minute run of the week on Saturday at parkrun and was intending to head to Melbourne for my friend’s 50th parkrun. I woke up feeling rather ill but pushed through it and got ready. Just before turning onto the freeway, feeling ill had grown into a panic attack so I turned around and headed home. For whatever reason, my body and brain had decided that it wasn’t a running day for me and had given me no choice but to listen. Would I have felt better if I had somehow made myself? Probably. Husband kindly came with me for a no pressure walk on the beach later in the afternoon to get me out of the house which helped me reset. I say it often but brains really are amazing things – who knows why they do the things they do? I can only assume, after an intense week (and with a wisdom tooth causing both pain and anxiety) that I couldn’t cope with any expectations or commitments and needed to give myself a rest day. So I did.

It clearly worked as I was back at it again this morning. I didn’t set an alarm but woke up at 5.30am feeling refreshed and ready to go. I drove out to the You Yangs and set off along a new trail for me. It turned out to be exactly the tonic I needed. There was a weird fog hanging around thanks to the humid weather which added to the atmosphere. I was alone in terms of humans but stopped counting at 20 kangaroos so definitely had animal company which made me smile. The track I followed went along the edge of the park for a few kilometres before heading through the middle and gave me a different perspective than I usually get. And, as usual, my mind wandered a lot. I was thinking about how easy this run was, not the individual minutes (which were suitably challenging) but the whole thing. There was a time not that long ago that going out for an 11km run was a major undertaking whereas this just involved getting up, eating a banana and heading out. Before I knew it, the 11km were done and I was back at the car. Tonic taken, stress levels reduced and another week of training done.

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Dopey training – Week 20

Week 20 – wow. It really doesn’t feel like we’ve been training for that long. Although in other ways, it feels like it’s gone on for much longer!

I always knew this week would be tough – the week after a long mileage week always is. Clocking up 55km last week left me tired and then 3 days away on school camp sapped any energy I had left. Luckily, I haven’t got sick like I normally do while away on camp – I wonder if my stress levels were lower than usual and my fitter body and immune system from all this running helped. I shall pretend it did 😃.

It was easy to fit my run in on Tuesday as it was Melbourne Cup day (I’ve always been dubious about a country that declares a public holiday for a horse race but whatever!) so I wasn’t at work. I headed up to the You Yangs in the afternoon and ran our parkrun course which is a bit of a novelty as, despite being a Run Director there, I don’t run it very often. It was a pretty cruisy run and I soaked up the scenery. I really am so lucky to have such places in my backyard.

I then couldn’t run for a few days as I was down the beach with my Grade 4s on camp. The only option would have been to do laps of the camp itself before they got up but I decided just to be kind to myself and push it out until Saturday. It wasn’t like I got no exercise on camp – we walked on the beach, went surfing, walked all over the place and I even managed to bounce on the trampolines (much to the kids’ amusement).

I may have said a few swear words when the alarm went off on Saturday morning for parkrun – I really could have done with the sleep in. But I got up and went then ran/walked/walked some more with my fabulous friend Jo. And it was lovely, if not more than a little hard. My legs were absolutely dead and I was tired. But it was done.

Today I had my ‘long’ run of the week – a mere 10km. I pushed it out to a little later in the day as I knew it would be sunny and want to get a few runs in hotter temperatures as a way of preparing for the ‘who knows’ nature of Florida’s weather. I chose to run along the river in Geelong with dappled shade and enough variety to keep me entertained. Pulling up in the car park, I really didn’t want to be there and do it – still tired and still with dead legs. But I did it anyway. It wasn’t so bad although I only sporadically stuck to intervals and just kept an eye on overall pace instead. I expected to see a few snakes along the way but none were about today – possibly a result of my running style warning them that I was coming 😂. Overall, I was pretty happy with my pace today – just a smidge over 9min/km which isn’t bad in my world for a 10km in the heat. I had to go the supermarket on my way home and felt myself drawn towards the fridge – I have become somewhat addicted to flavoured milk beverages after long runs and today’s chocolate milk barely hit the sides as it was devoured.

So another week done. 7 to go 😳. I still don’t feel ready or close to being ready but I continue to plod along and trust the training. I know I’m certainly capable of more than I was before and have to take some reassurance from that. And, ready or not, I’m doing this. Someone let Mickey know, we’ll see him soon 🐭.

Setting big goals…..then smashing them

I set myself a really big running goal last year and didn’t achieve it, although I did come close. So I put it out there for another shot this year. To run 1000km in the year. And today, with a month and a half to go until the end of the year, I ticked over that magical number.

I remember it seeming like such a far off, almost impossible thing when I set it and, despite all the events I entered last year, I was still 150km away at the end of the year. This year, I have marathon training to thank for the increase in mileage – already looking forward to seeing my total at the end of December.

It’s also interesting to look at my running in general over the last few years. 2014 was when I started running consistently (there were some years of running prior to this but very sporadically). Great to see the generally upward trend and it already has me thinking about what goal to set for next year. 😀

Dopey training – week 19

Get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in – this is going to be a long blog post. As that’s really the only way to deal with a week like this one.

Before I tell you about it, I feel like I need to make a disclosure – I still have a love/hate relationship with running. I sometimes think my blog might paint it in a more positive light than I always feel but that’s because these posts are written while looking through the endorphin coloured glasses of post-run euphoria. If I blogged before or during a run? A whole different perspective. Most of the ‘love’ side of the relationship occurs after a run while the ‘hate’ side is before and during. It’s not always terrible but it’s certainly not always great either and I struggle as much as anyone to get my shoes on and get out the door. Anyway, with that said, let’s begin.

My first run of the week was on Tuesday and, thanks to School Council in the evening, needed to be done before work. When I can make myself, I do like that time of day and Tuesday was a perfect morning for it. However the run sucked. It was hard, I couldn’t get my breathing right and the minutes seemed to take forever. The best thing about it was that it was done and I could spend the rest of the day feeling smug. Actually another good thing was that I wasn’t tired all day afterwards like I usually am (and managed to stay awake during School Council 😃).

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do on Thursday and was home earlier than usual which gave me options. So, of course, I opted for the familiar and headed to the You Yangs although ran a different trail to usual. It wasn’t as hard as Tuesday although, being on trail, it couldn’t be compared which is probably why I did it. Trail feels more forgiving of all speeds of runner. As well as generally being tonic for the soul.

Saturday was parkrun which used to be easy as we had limited options around here. Now, with too many options, I can’t choose so I ended up at my home parkrun. I needed to get in some extra kms so I got up early, parked at the beach and ran along the waterfront before running to parkrun and finishing my run with an easy 5km. I was tired at the end but glad to have got the kilometres in early so I could enjoy the rest of my day and get ready for the really long on Sunday. I got all of my things ready, rechecked the route and was in bed by 7.30pm – such a party animal.

So, today. My alarm went off at 4.30am and husband and I were on our way to Melbourne. It’s funny that he doesn’t worry about me out on the trails but didn’t like the idea of me running in Melbourne alone so had offered to drop me off and asked me to text him every 5km. I was grateful to have somebody along for the journey. Even if he wasn’t running with me, it was really reassuring to know he was there.


We arrived at Southbank at 6am so I took advantage of a final toilet stop then set off on the Capital City Trail. The first part was very familiar as I’d run it many, many times before, albeit in reverse. I settled in well to the early kilometres and it all felt good – I was running 1:30/1:00 run/walk intervals (as recommended by my friends who ran their loooong run last weekend) and they were perfect for keeping me well under pace but not tired. I was trying out podcasts for the first time and was really enjoying the one I was listening to which also helped the time tick away. I ran along the river then over it and into the Docklands before joining up with the creek trail that took me under CityLink – a very strange experience that reminded me of being in canals around cities in the UK.


There weren’t many people around, just a few cyclists and it was very peaceful by the creek, despite the traffic overhead. The peace ended when I came to the end of that particular trail – the sign telling me where to go wasn’t there and, confronted with a busy road ahead, I had no idea where to go. I took out my phone to double check, only to find that my battery was down to 24% (no idea why – still investigating). I searched the map and tried my best to quell the rising panic attack – the thought of no music or entertainment for the remainder of the run, limited contact with Gary, limited access to maps, on top of the fact that I still didn’t know where to go next were all contributing.

Eventually I found my way back onto the trail then texted Gary to tell him that, despite being only 7.5km into my run, I was turning my phone off to conserve power and would be unreachable between my text messages. The next section of the trail heads towards and through Royal Park and is, again, quite scenic although not brilliantly signposted and I took another wrong turn before realising and finding my way back.

This section of the trail after that had much better signposts, including information about how far things were which I found very reassuring. At this point, I was still feeling pretty good and keeping up the intervals. I took a few photos when I turned on my phone to text Gary with my progress but wish I’d been able to take more. It’s a great trail and you get to see such a variety of Melbourne landscapes. I was also feeling quite lonely as I couldn’t text Gary as frequently as I wanted – I loved knowing he was out there, supporting me and looked forward to ticking off another 5km so I could message him.

Highlights in the next section included Dights Falls and Collingwood Children’s Farm, complete with strange animal noises and quaint farmyard scenes. The Children’s Farm also was my one and only toilet stop with fabulous facilities right next to the trail. There were more people up this end and I also started to come across participants in the ‘Bloody Long Walk’ which made me smile and feel a little less alone.

I don’t remember exactly where it started getting harder but my Strava file seems to show it around the 26th kilometre as that’s where my speed really slowed. I was edging closer to the city, was on more familiar paths and had had enough. All sorts of unhelpful thoughts were sneaking in and, no matter how much I looked at my ‘Run Brave’ bracelet wrapped around my wrist, they wouldn’t leave me alone. Most of them were about how hard this was and how much harder it was going to be to add another 10km to this to complete the marathon. How, despite all the training, I wasn’t good enough or fast enough. Even though I knew they were irrational, they were still there and making it so much harder than it needed to be. I think, had I had enough energy, I would have cried to clear it all out but instead just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I constantly checked my pace – up until 26km, it had been a perfect 9:20/km but it was slipping lower and lower.

My last text to Gary said ‘30km Swan st bridge Very slow’. I wanted to say a whole lot more but didn’t have the energy to look at the screen. I wanted to say that it hurt and that it was taking every fibre of my being not to just sit down in the gutter and cry. I couldn’t even really put a finger on what hurt – it wasn’t injury type hurt, just ‘I’ve been on my feet too long’ kind of hurt. Blisters, sore feet, sore hips, tight calves – all of it. Just keep moving.

I got back to Southbank to discover I was 1km short of my target so had to keep going then, while waiting for Gary, ended up doing laps of the roundabout to finish off the last 250m. And, finally, I could press stop on my Garmin. 32km – done. At a pace that was just in front of the virtual balloon ladies – 9:58/km.

A few hours on, I still have mixed feelings on this one. Of course I’m proud to have finished it – 32km is a huge achievement that I never thought I’d be capable of. However it was far too close on pace and I am disappointed with that. I know I’ll go quicker at the event with all the adrenaline and crowds but still realise I face a very real possibility of not being able to finish this. I’ve known that from the start but tried to just ‘trust the training’. That’s getting harder. 3 weeks now until the next ‘longest run’ and I’ll certainly be reflecting on whatever I can do to start and finish with confidence.

Weekly summary – 55.9km total:

Tuesday – 5.2km (45:15)

Thursday – 5km (45:07)

Saturday – 13.6km (2:03:55)

Sunday – 32km (5:18:58)

Dopey training – Week 18

Another ‘low mileage’ week of 21km. Definitely made easier by sunshine and blue skies this week as well as daylight savings extending my opportunities. I do quite like running in the dark but feel a bit limited on my routes at those times so daylight savings lets me change things up, at least a little.

On Tuesday, I didn’t want to stray too far from home as I had too much to do so I took myself off to some trails close by which I haven’t been on for a while. I tried out some podcasts to keep me amused but it didn’t work and I flicked back to my music very quickly. I’m really hoping I can find some variety as I think I’m going to get bored with my playlist for the long hours that the marathon will take.

Thursday was a bit of a ‘hmmmmm’ sort of day – I knew I needed to run but couldn’t quite decide where. My friend messaged me in the afternoon and we headed out to the You Yangs for the usual trail up a hill and down the other side. It ended up being one of my quickest times on that route and, while the hill wasn’t any less painful than usual, at least it was over faster.

I was run directing at parkrun on Saturday so didn’t get my usual 5km in which meant I had a whole day of delights to choose from. This, of course, meant I spent much of the day not making a decision and not doing anything. In the end, I opted to go out to Torquay and run the Surf Coast trail and was joined by my husband. It’s the first time we’ve run together and was actually really lovely. He’s much faster than me and I’m sure it would have pained him to slow down to my pace but it was a great way to spend the evening and we were treated to beautiful weather and a pretty sunset along the coastal trail.

Weekly summary:

Tuesday – 5.5km (45:24)

Thursday – 5km (49:33)

Saturday – 10.4km (1:31:29)

Dopey training – week 17

After last week’s mega-mileage, this is technically a low mileage week although the ‘long runs’ of 5km are now behind us as we ramp up towards the big event.

I was really, really pleased with how well I pulled up after last Sunday’s 27km – I wasn’t sore the next day at all, just a bit tired so I took it easy in the first half of the week. I’m sure I could have run on Tuesday but work and other things got in the way and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a few extra days so I headed out for my first run of the week on Thursday. I made a last minute decision to go up to the You Yangs and got there just before they shut the gate to get in. I ran our usual loop and managed to equal my best time, well under balloon lady pace despite the large hill in the middle of it. So that gave me a confidence boost.

Saturday was parkrun day and, as is often the case, I wasn’t sure how I was feeling or what I wanted to do. My friend and I settled in to 2 min run/1 min walk although I had rather speedy legs and definitely pushed the run segments to the edge of my comfort zone. And it paid off – I got a course PB and my 6th fastest 5km ever so was very pleased with that. I was starting to feel like all this endurance training was slowing me down (which I’m ok with) but, again, it was a great confidence boost to know that I can still pull out something quick if I set my mind to it.

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Apologies for the blurry photo – must be an indication of our speed this morning!

I’ve said before that my training plan tells me how far to run but my soul tells me where. For my long run today, it was being quite specific. Somewhere near the water, with trees but not too familiar. I drove a little further than usual to a part of the Surf Coast trail I’ve only done in the Surf Coast trail half marathon last year. It was perfect. The weather was warm-ish with blue skies but enough cloud to not be burnt to a crisp. The start of the trail went uphill (which I had completely forgotten) which was the perfect way to clear everything else from my mind – all I cared about was getting up that hill. The views from the top of the cliffs were spectacular and running down the other side towards the beach was bliss. I even enjoyed running along the beach today, lost in my thoughts and feeling very contemplative. It was definitely with a degree of reluctance that I turned around – I pondered whether I should just keep running but thought, in the mood I was in, that I might not stop and then where would I be? So I smiled as I let the waves eat my feet then headed back towards my car. In the last few hundred metres, I had to sprint and weave as I was being chased by some very protective duck parents, having clearly gotten too close to their babies. It made me giggle and was the perfect conclusion to my run.

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Weekly summary:

Thursday: 5km (45:58)

Saturday: 5km (37:20)

Sunday: 8km (1:16:47)

We pause your regular broadcast for a quick rant…

I have a running friend who suggested I change my blogging name to ‘macgirl ranting’ as I have been known to do that from time to time (and, sometimes, much more frequently than that). Today’s post is another one – this time, about ranting itself, oddly enough.

Earlier this year, I put my name in the ballot for the London marathon. I knew this was a phenomenally long shot. To be honest, that was probably part of the appeal. The course itself would be amazing and invoke so many memories of my very happy years living in London but I also liked the fact that it feels like an honour to even get a place. Not in a ‘Boston Qualifier’ type of honour (as, without wheels, there is no way I would ever be fast enough for that) but in a ‘wow, I feel so lucky’ kind of way.

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I didn’t get in. And yes, I was sad but in the same kind of way I am when I buy a ticket in the Lottery – sad to have to put away the dreams I’d fancifully been concocting while playing ‘what if’. I moved on. There are other events I can aim for next year and not have the burden of having to find the spare change required for a return ticket to the UK.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the flood of bitterness that ensued in social media threads for weeks afterwards from others who didn’t get a place. ‘It’s not fair!’ seemed to be the biggest complaint. I haven’t been in the London Marathon offices and checked their methods but my grade of 10 year olds understand how probability works and that ‘random’ means, well, random. It’s not weighted based on whether you’ve run it before or your speed or your postcode or your shoe size or brand. Some people will get picked out of the virtual barrel, many won’t. That whole ‘random’ thing again. You haven’t been picked multiple years in a row? Yeah, that sucks and I’m sorry – why not try again next year? Some were talking of previous years where those unsuccessful 5 times were given an automatic entry however they hadn’t thought of the logistics of administering that – additional time, manpower and cost to an event that really is already big and complicated enough.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into it but the big undercurrent of the complaints seemed to be a tone of selfishness – as if the person complaining had some sort of right to get into this event and, by not being picked, was being denied something they were entitled to. There were some people celebrating others getting in which was great however there were also some ‘Oh yeah, congratulations. Great that you got in on your first time when I’ve been waiting x number of years. Enjoy!’ which really annoyed me. Be a kind human. I know how I would have felt if I’d been lucky enough to be picked so am really, really happy for those who get to experience that, regardless of how many times they’ve entered or run it. You ran it before and are running it again this year? Wonderful! Have an amazing time!!

I’ll put my name in the ballot again next year and take my chances, without whingeing about the system. It is what it is and I’m completely fine with that. It would be an absolute dream come true to run it. I never thought I’d even contemplate a marathon so the thought of running that one, in a city I still think of as home actually makes me teary. And that fairytale of knowing my name was randomly chosen out of a field of hundreds of thousands of other hopefuls is actually icing on that particular cake.