runner’s gift list (aka what I want for christmas)

I’ve been inspired to join the Tuesdays on the run link up, hosted by Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs and April from Run the Great Wide Somewhere. The topic this week is ‘Runner’s gift list’. And what a marvellous chance to put out there in the universe what I’d really like for Christmas. I hope Santa is reading….

A subscription to Runner’s World magazine
I’ve had the trial issues sent to me recently and absolutely loved them, devouring every printed centimetre and re-reading frequently. Definitely at the top of my list.

A sub-30 minute 5km time
I had to put this down as it’s definitely in the top things I’d like, although I’m fairly sure even Santa would be struggling to get me there. I’ve definitely seen improvement this year but this one is still tantalisingly out of reach. For now.

A Garmin vivo-fit
This is clearly an excessive thing to add to the list but it wouldn’t be much of a ‘wishlist’ without big wishes. I already have a Garmin watch which I love and think this would be a hugely fun and motivating way to work towards my fitness goals.

A water bottle
Ok, this one is a little ‘out there’ as well. This isn’t something I intend to take running with me – I have a tendency to not drink enough during the day and need something inviting to drink from to give me an incentive. I currently have a dodgy bright orange plastic bottle on my desk at school which I don’t love and tend to fill and ignore. This one looks much more appealing.

Additions to my running book library
I think this deserves a blog post of it’s own. I’ve bought a few fabulous running books to inspire me through my injury woes but there are so many more on my list:

Brooks shoes
I’m an absolute sucker for Brooks shoes. Maybe it’s because they were my first pair of ‘serious’ shoes. And they felt sooooo good every time I put them on. Either way, I always try on others but end up with Brooks again. I’m running in Trance 12s at the moment and would really love to try the Transcend. Shall definitely be saving up my pennies in the New Year 🙂

A massage stick
Yep, I get that this one’s a bit weird but I keep hearing how good they are. And I do love my foam roller, especially on my pesky calves that are always tight. This one looks good 🙂

So there’s my wishlist (the short version!). Perhaps there is something on there to inspire other runners in your life this Christmas?

A letter to event organisers – what I want from a running event

I recently ran in Melbourne’s City2Sea. And it got me thinking about all the different elements that go into making a really good running event. I appreciate the huge amount of work that goes into them, so am in no way undermining the complexity of staging such an event. However there are a few things that make it a bit more pleasant for the running public who enter.

1. Race bib collection
The fact I had to physically go into Melbourne to pick up my race bib the day before the event was pretty annoying. I live an hour from Melbourne – close enough to drive in the morning of the event but far enough way that I don’t want to have to go in the day before, just to pick up my bib. Having the option to either pick it up on the day or have it sent out beforehand makes life so much easier. And yes, I’m willing to pay for postage 🙂

2. Be fair with your cut off times
I’m not the fastest runner in the world – I’m at the back of the pack in most events I enter and I’m ok with that. Knowing my limits, I always check out cut off times for events and previous results to make sure I’ll be able to participate at my own pace and not have to be stressed about reaching the finish line before being swept.

At City2Sea, the overall cut off time was generous and easily allowed walkers – no problem. However there were other segment cut off times for different parts of the course that didn’t tally up with this – eg, the 10km cut off was 15 minutes before the 7.7km cut off. Reaching the 10km point late would see you diverted, rather than ending your run, but it still annoyed me. I’ve paid the same as everyone else and want to run the course that everyone else runs. If that can’t happen because of outside factors (eg, the need to open roads), think about amending the overall cut off to make that clear to those who enter, rather than making me read the fine print.

3. Aid stations matter. A lot.
This is something I have to commend City2Sea for doing well. The drinks stations were organised, efficient and, mostly importantly, full of drinks! I’ve been in events before where there was little left at the back of the pack so I appreciated seeing smiling volunteers and tables full of Gatorade and water for all runners, regardless of our times. The added bonus of Gatorade and a banana at the end was also much appreciated and not something you see consistently at events.

What are your tips for event organisers?

Race recap – City2Sea (Melbourne)

I’m feeling enormously proud of myself today, having just finished the 15km City2Sea this morning in a wet and cold Melbourne

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The all important bling!

Hubby kindly drove me over and dropped me off at the MCG and I was relieved to actually see other people there – I was worried that the rain had scared everyone off. Instead, they were all hiding under the roofs at the MCG. Standard porta-potty visit done, I joined them until it was time to join our starting group.

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Hanging out at the MCG….in the rain 🙂

We didn’t seem to have to wait long for our start and having DJ Havana Brown kick off proceedings certainly helped pump up the mood. Very soon, the siren was going and we were off, over the start line and through a sea of confetti.

The course started by heading towards Federation Square and then onto St Kilda Road and the kilometres seemed to whiz by. There were just enough people to build a good vibe but not so many that there was pushing and shoving. In fact, unusually for a large event, I had no trouble at all in the first few kilometres with having my own space.

Running along St Kilda Road again went pretty quickly, despite the long, straight road.It was broken up with a couple of drink stations and an opportunity to high five the Westpac crew. I also got a giggle out of people stuck in their cars in the traffic (that our event was causing) – I was sure they were thinking we were mad and not realising that we were thinking the same about them. I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather be doing on a Sunday morning – the rain had stopped but it was perfect, crisp Melbourne weather and absolutely ideal for running.

Turning into Albert Park was a little demoralising as you could see all the people who’d already done the circuit streaming out to their finish. And we still had a long way to go. However the crowd had thinned out nicely and it felt like a friendly, intimate run. I ran through the misting tent they’d set up in anticipation of hot weather – I was wet anyway so it didn’t make much of a difference, other than making me smile 🙂

I had been worried before the event of making 10.6km before the cut off as there was a diversion off the road and onto the path. I just made it. Literally. The woman was coming out with the tape to close off the course – I think that, after me, there were only 2 others let through.

The far side of Albert Park was a bit of a challenge. A wide road but with few people about and my legs were really starting to feel it. It’s almost as if I hit a mental barrier at 10km (the farthest I’d run previously) which prompted a series of small body niggles for me to worry about. It didn’t last long though – the kilometres really did seem to fly today and, soon enough, we were back out onto Fitzroy Street with only 1km to go.

I chatted to a couple of other runners as we saw the finish line – sharing the motivation and pride in finishing. My smile crossing the line was huge and I eagerly accepted my medal.

Summary
While it didn’t have the atmosphere of some of the other Melbourne runs I’ve done (Run Melbourne being the best), the course was good and the participant numbers were about right to make it friendly but not too crowded. Facilities along the course and at the end were good – enough drink stations and the Gatorade and bananas at the end were much appreciated.

So yes, I’d probably do it again. Especially if it’s raining 🙂

postscript – my flipbelt is awesome!

For those of you who saw my earlier post, I have just got a flipbelt and was waiting for the weather to cooperate (and cool down) so I could go out for a run and test it out. I got my wish this afternoon and took a 7km run around the neighbourhood.

Not only was my run fantastic, the flipbelt did exactly what it was supposed to – it held stuff in place and kept it safe. I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was – I barely felt that it was there and it didn’t move, jiggle or get in my way (the same can’t be said of other random body parts – I swear I look like a tub of jelly when I run!). Most importantly, my phone was secure and didn’t move at all during my run.

So, to sum up, I’m hugely happy with my purchase and will definitely be adding it to my list of favourite running things. To those who are thinking about it, definitely do it – a great accessory 🙂

my new running toy. on a hot day.

I got a new toy in the post today and was so excited, I simply had to go out for a run to try it out. I had wanted a flipbelt for ages and treated myself to one in the lead up to 2 long runs I’ve got coming up later in the year.

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A flipbelt is basically a tube of stretchy, non-abrasive fabric with slots at regular intervals to allow you to carry with you whatever you need on a run. The ‘non-abrasive’ bit is the key for me – I’ve tried running with all sorts of other accessories but always end up with sore bits somewhere as a result. Hence why I was so keen to test this out.

So, time to run. Except it was 33C here this afternoon and I was feeling hot and disgusting after a day of general chaos at school – my energy was also in very short supply. So I walked instead. Although I did break into a sprint when I got to a swarm of midges around the back of the lake.

wpid-20141107_193425.jpgThis is the view I have on one of my running routes and it always makes me smile. I feel really lucky to live where I do and have such beautiful places to run. As the sun was setting, the temperature dropped enough for me to no longer feel hot and disgusting – instead I felt happy and contented. Very zen 🙂

So I may have only walked with the flipbelt but, so far, it’s a definite winner. Didn’t even notice I was wearing it and it easily fitted my phone which is the biggest plus. I prefer to carry my phone when running but haven’t found an easy solution for that before now. Once the temperature drops today, I’ll be out for a run and will continue to my testing – will let you know how it goes!

What’s your favourite new running accessory? How do you carry ‘stuff’ when you run? 

running through all four seasons

Autumn has always been my favourite season but I used to have Spring as a close contender. Not too warm, not too cold. Since I have actually been consistently running enough to call myself a runner this year, I’ve decided I really don’t like Spring after all. We need to talk.

I went out for a run today having checked out the weather forecast – a band of cloud heading for us but a bit of rain doesn’t bother me. It felt ok when I went out – not too hot and good cloud cover to keep the sun away.

As I got a few kilometres down the road, the wind whipped up. Only it’s a northerly wind which, in Australia, means it’s warm and offers very little relief. Then, just when I’d been nicely wind roasted, the clouds parted and gave me a dose of sun to crisp me up nicely as well. Getting to the final part of my course, a lap around the park, I discovered they’d been mowing the grass so my hayfever kicked in and had me sneezing for the rest of the run.

Ironically, the rain held off until I walked in the door at home.

Lesson learnt – I prefer running in Winter. And, until that rolls around, I need to remember to get up as early as possible and get out there while it’s still cool.

When do you like to run? Any quirks of the seasons in your part of the world that you love or hate?

running bucket list

I’m passionate about travelling as well as running so it seems only natural that I have various running events finding their way onto my travelling bucket list. Here are a selection of those nearest the top…

a run Disney event
I’m not picky which event – they all look like fun. And I love the inclusive atmosphere and attitude that I’ve read about in the race recaps of those who’ve done the events – helping those of us who run slowly still feel part of the event.

Rock ‘n’ roll marathon – Las Vegas
I’ve been to Vegas and swore it was the kind of place I’d only go once. This event has made me change my mind. This sounds like all kinds of fun 🙂

Australian Outback Marathon
I was lucky enough to travel through central Australia a few years ago and was completely mesmerised by the scenery, the people and the general ‘hugeness’ of the place. This running festival gives participant chance to run through the amazing outback. The course is around Yulara and the event entry is a package which includes accommodation, meals and activities, therefore perfect for those who love travel and running. Am definitely going to do this one. Soon.

3M running festival
I’m a self-confessed post-it note junkie so the thought of combining travel, stationery and running leaves me giggling madly.

Dubbo stampede
This one is held in the town of Dubbo in rural New South Wales and sounds like a great way to combine a weekend away and a fun, relaxed event. Thinking about adding this to the list for 2015.

Hot chocolate 15km
I’m not sure this needs much explanation. It involves chocolate. Enough said 🙂

Bushy parkrun
I love participating in my local parkrun and love the idea of some parkrun tourism as well. The ultimate parkrun would be to have a run around where it all started. And all absolutely free. Other than the minor barrier of a plane ticket to London, of course.

What other races do you have on your bucket list? Any amazing ones you’ve done which are worthy to add to my list?