Letter to my 15-year-old self

This is a bit of a different blog post – I had a birthday recently and it made me reflective, as birthdays tend to. I was wondering what my 15 year old self would have thought of my life today. My 15-year-old self wrote my older self a letter all those years ago, saying what she hoped life would be like and it was full of all sorts of half formed plans (working for Reuters) and little girl dreams (marrying my Prince Charming). The usual.

What really got me thinking about all of this was reading blog posts by one of my favourite bloggers, Kelly of ‘Run, Selfie, Repeat’. It made me think how far I’ve come along the pathway of accepting me with all my complexities and peculiarities. And I wished I could tell her, 15-year-old me, about that to help her shortcut some of the angst…

Dear 15-year-old me,

Greetings from the future! You wrote me a letter so it only seems fair that I reply. Expect that, as your letter was full of half formed dreams, this will be full of the advice you’ll need to get there. And I expect, if I could deliver it, that you’d probably disregard most of it, thinking that you’re doing ok on your own. See, I know you well.

You know how you think everyone is staring at you when you walk into a room? How you think they’re all thinking terrible things about you, your clothes and your body? Most of them are not. They have enough to worry about in their own lives. And those of them that are? They also have enough to worry about in their own lives which, oddly enough, is why they add so much trauma to yours. That same girl who bullies you relentlessly and makes your life hell would probably give anything to walk in your shoes and she doesn’t know how to deal with that. I know that doesn’t make it easier but keep that bit of knowledge and use it to walk past a little taller.

In fact, that’s the biggest bit of advice you need – be brave. Walk with your head held high and fake the confidence you don’t yet feel. You will. There are so many doors which are starting to open for you and which will continue to open – walk boldly up to them and go through; find out what adventure awaits. Don’t fear failure – it’s how you learn and all of those dreams you have will require you to mess up frequently on the way. Mess up often and use those lessons and feelings to pick yourself up and do it again a bit differently.

Value yourself and believe you are worthy of being loved. I know that boy you’re after might seem like a greek god but he’s just a boy who knows who he is just as little as you know who you are yet and hormones are screaming so loudly for you all that it’s hard to hear much else. The tears you shed over him won’t be the last but know that it will all end happily. Eventually, you’ll meet someone amazing who ticks all of your long held criteria and who will be the prince to your princess. It’s a cliche but you’ll find your soulmate and it will make you wish you hadn’t spent long nights stressing over others who really weren’t right for you anyway.

Some of the dreams you thought about will come true, others won’t but you will achieve things beyond what you ever imagined. You’ll graduate from University multiple times. You’ll work in a myriad of jobs, some of which will be scintillating, some awful but all memorable. You’ll have some incredible high moments – being speechless while standing in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence and standing on stage receiving your Masters degree are 2 that spring to mind. And yes, there’ll be low ones too but they’re worth it for the balance and gratitude they bring.

And, eventually, you’ll discover running and that will bring you so much that you’ll wonder why you put so much effort into avoiding it. You, who feigns illness to get out of cross country and dreads every PE lesson, will run half marathons for fun. You’ll travel across the state, the country and, in fact, the world to run in different events. And you’ll hang out with incredibly supportive friends who run with you and inspire you to go further than you thought you could. It will help you see yourself as strong and capable and stop you hating your body for what it isn’t, instead loving it for what it can do. And, out on the trails or surrounded by thousands of runners at an event, you’ll fall into a zen like state that calms you and guarantees you’ll run again. Because it’s part of who you are.

I know – that’s all a lot to take in. It doesn’t even sound like you. But it is – just the best you that you can be. You’ll spend a long time and a lot of air travel trying to ‘find yourself’ – be assured that you do find the version of you you’re seeking and it’s all worth it in the end. I’d advise you to try to chill a bit along the way….but I know that’s just you and how you do things. It’s enough to know you’ll get there.

With love,

your older, wiser self.

parkrun tourism @ port fairy

Last weekend, various running friends pointed their cars west and headed towards Port Fairy for the much anticipated parkrun launch. Port Fairy has always been a favourite spot of mine, especially as it was where I started my teaching career, so I was really looking forward to a weekend of running and frivolity in Port.

We were able to join up for dinner with a few of the others who had arrived for the Friday night and, as usual, had a great time. Each time I meet up with this group of adventurers, I’m reminded how warm, welcoming and accepting the running community is and how lucky I am to have found them.

We almost got a sleep in the next day as parkrun was only a 5 minute drive from our beach house although we headed there early to make sure we knew where to go. With plenty of parking, a clean toilet block and stunning view of the beach from the car park, the start location is great and easy to find.

Hanging out and checking out the scenery before our #parkrun launch #parkrunau #runhappy #running

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The briefing included a welcome from the Territory Director and a local Councillor before Run Director Kate got us ready to start. The start line is a short walk along the track and had room enough for the 137 participants.

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Once we started, it wasn’t long before we were headed uphill – not a huge hill but enough to remind the lungs and legs that they existed. The course is 3 laps around a meandering track in Russell Clark reserve and includes concrete path, gravel and grass. Out of all of that, I probably found the spongy grass most challenging, even though that section was flat. Don’t let me scare you off – the hills really aren’t that big and they’re compensated for by downhills. Even more than that, it’s very pretty so you are suitably distracted. And I needed it – I really, really don’t like multi-lap courses. Exactly how much I don’t like them came back to me about halfway through my last lap as I passed all the people who had already finished and were hanging out and enjoying themselves in the finish area. I put my head down and continued the slog.2017-01-21_port_fairy_parkrun6

There was certainly plenty of encouragement out on the course from volunteers and fellow parkrunners and I needed this to finish that lap and shuffle/sprint for the finish line. A big thank you to Courtney (from Warrnambool parkrun) for her support at the end – it always helps to have someone push you in those last few metres to get to the flags.

I was very happy to see all my friends again at the finish but was even happier to catch up with my husband who completed his first parkrun (after 3 years of me nagging him!) – very proud of him 🙂

Well done to all at Port Fairy – another great parkrun in the region and yet another excuse to visit this little piece of paradise.

photos taken by volunteer photographers at Port Fairy parkrun

Cadbury half marathon – race recap

Part 2 of another epic running weekend (in case you missed part 1, it naturally involved a parkrun!).

After returning to Hobart (and dropping the car off with a minute to spare), we wandered a bit then headed back to our apartment to relax and prepare for the morning. It’s funny how strictly we stick to routines before a big event – eating the same things, laying out our clothes and accessories to make sure everything is ready to go, resting the legs, calming the nerves. Most importantly, getting enough sleep. This last one is probably the most challenging and was even more so in our apartment which was stunning but without curtains so heading to bed at 7.30pm with Summer sunlight streaming in felt odd.

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The view from my bed as I went to sleep

Regardless, I slept well enough and felt quite rested when the alarm went off some time after 4am. We got up, got ready and headed out to our cab to trek out to the Cadbury factory. We’d bought entry to the VIP area which was completely worth it – an area to chill next to the finish line (with dedicated portaloos) and even a red carpet to welcome us.

As we moved towards the start line, we met up with the five30 clan who were doing a range of events throughout the morning.

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I felt a lot calmer at the start this year. Last year, this had been my 2nd half marathon with all the niggling doubts that came with it, particularly about whether or not I’d finish. This year, there was no such doubt as, being half marathon #6, I knew I could do the distance.

Shortly after crossing the start line, I heard my name called out from the side and saw a friend from high school who I hadn’t seen for years – the perfect distraction and boost that I needed. The start of this event is a short loop around the streets surrounding the factory which then takes you back over the start line – meaning more cheers from the five30 crew and my friend! Once the loop is over you head down the hill – the perfect start to a run as you feel strong and fast with the encouragement helping you along.

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And then the 3rd kilometre hits. Last year, that was when I thought about how far I had to go. This year, I had new doubts. In every half marathon before this, I’d just been worried about finishing. This year, I had no such worries but new ones had taken over – worried that I wouldn’t achieve the time I wanted. Obviously I hoped to get a PB although knew I hadn’t trained enough to warrant one however I knew I would be sorely disappointed if I couldn’t come in under 3 hours. However I was letting the negative voices in my head take over so everything was feeling hard. I got my music out and tried to just get into the zone.

The Cadbury course is very enjoyable, despite being all on the road. Scenic water and mountain views as well as passing landmarks such as MONA and the Entertainment Centre keep you entertained and prevent boredom. There are also slight undulations along the course which I quite like – not enough uphills to stress you out but enough downhills to have those strong moments. And I just kept going, trying not to worry about time and enjoy it. I mostly succeeded. There were certainly a lot of mantras I was drawing on and mentally was breaking it into chunks, particularly after my watch ticked over the first hour.

It was actually just after the half way point that my attitude improved a little. Mentally, it’s always easier to be heading back than heading out. But I also realised that I was doing ok for time. The race predictor on my watch was predicting a PB although I knew that wasn’t going to happen – I don’t do negative splits and was starting to get tired. However under 3 hours felt very possible. Two mantras became important – ‘pain is temporary, pride is permanent’ and ‘head up, wings out’ (which I had written on my arm to remind me when running brain hit).

I was pleased to see that the kilometres ticked by a lot quicker this year and soon enough I was saying to myself ‘one parkrun to go’. Having others around me on the course certainly helped as the marathon runners have to do 2 loops of the course so there were always some nearby. There were also more runners this year at my speed (or it felt that way) so there was no chance of feeling lonely.

I continued to analyse my time and was trying to bank some time for the inevitable slow down that would happen when I hit the hill in the last kilometre. Interestingly enough, there was no slow down – I determinedly powered up the hill, longing for that finish arch at the top. As I came over the crest, I was disappointed not to see the arch but could definitely see the finish line (apparently the arch had had a deflating moment!) and steadily ran towards it – not much sprint left in me. My official time – 2:57.31. A Cadbury PB and only 4 minutes slower than my best half marathon time.

Somehow I managed to bend down to untie my shoelaces and retrieve my timing chip (a considerable effort!), chatted to one of the five30 crew who had finished not only the half but also the 5km, then I made my way to the VIP area. I felt great which is no mean feat at the end of a half – no significant pain, no ridiculous chafing and even the bottoms of my feet felt ok. I had my massage, tried to eat something (which I never find easy after a long run) and generally soaked up the atmosphere and post-run endorphins.

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Going into this weekend, I’d wondered whether we were just trying to relive what was an amazing trip last year and whether we’d end up a bit disappointed. This weekend turned out to be just as fantastic with new adventures and I’m so glad we did it. The Cadbury run is so much fun and with such a welcoming, encouraging atmosphere, regardless of your distance or pace. Thanks again Tassie – we had a ball!

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parkrun tourism @ Launceston

Friday saw my friends and I up early to trek off on another big running adventure – to Tasmania for the Cadbury half marathon. We had such a great time doing this last year that we couldn’t turn down the chance to do it all again.

Our plan had been to run Hobart parkrun (mostly to be able to have breakfast with Christine and the wonderful Hobart parkrun crew!) however early on Friday evening, this was put in jeopardy due to a severe weather warning issued for Tasmania. As Hobart parkrun takes place on TasWater property, they are subject to their regulations, one of which is closing the park in cases of dangerous weather. So we needed a plan b – either run a pop up parkrun in Hobart city somewhere with some of the other five30runners who had made the trek or jump in our hire car and head 2 hours north to Launceston. We opted for the latter.

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Dinner with other members of the five30runner family to kick off our weekend

So it was that our alarms went off at 5.30am and we piled into the car to head north. The winds were certainly whipping around and we could understand the need for the weather warning. They seemed to calm a lot as we got closer to Launceston and found where we needed to be. The Launceston parkrun course starts next to Aurora stadium and is a flat out and back course through very pretty countryside – all the ingredients for a great Saturday morning.

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A scenic snapshot of the Launceston course on the turnaround loop

The briefing done, we headed off for the start line and made sure we were at the back – this was definitely a walking kind of morning to save our legs for the half marathon on Sunday. I don’t walk at parkrun often but love it when I do – it gives you a chance to enjoy the scenery, have a chat and generally soak up the atmosphere. The Launceston course has a great diversity of scenery and is easy to follow – basically an out and back with a loop for the turnaround point. There were also lots of encouraging marshals out on the course to make sure you didn’t get lost, including one of the best young marshals we’ve encountered, confidently reminding us all to keep to the left.2017-01-14_launceston_parkrun5

It was also great to be able to cheer on other members of our five30 family who had been crazy enough to make the drive to Launceston as well. Most importantly, we were undertaking parkrun on this particular day in honour of a member of our running group who had passed away a few days before. While I didn’t know him personally, he was clearly well loved and a great loss to his family, friends and the running community and I thought of him and of how fortunate we all were to be able to get out here and do this.

All finished, we scanned our barcodes, had a quick chat to the others in our group then had to get back into our car and head back to Hobart – the planets had aligned to allow us the time to get to Launceston but our hire car would turn back into an expensive pumpkin if we didn’t get it back on time.

I’m so glad that we were able to fit in a parkrun and enjoyed Launceston very much – clearly a well organised and welcoming team of volunteers and a fun course. And I’m even more glad to have been able to be join the five30 family at parkrun (and pop up) locations all over Australia and beyond to honour Ben. Another reminder that life is precious and short and to be grateful for the opportunities and friendships we have.

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home or away?

I’m linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia this week for Tuesdays on the run and the topic is….racecation or local runs?

This is a perfect topic for me at a perfect time. If you’re familiar with any events I’ve done, it will be clear to you that I do love a bit of travel (and, by a bit, I mean a lot). For my first half marathon, I flew to Hawaii. I love running in places where I don’t know how far away anything is and what landmarks I might pass. I like the thrill of new courses (and discovering new places to eat afterwards!). I obviously do run locally quite often but see these primarily as training runs for my real adventures.

However there is a dark side to this and it is one I’m experiencing at the moment – the pressure of travelling to an event. My friends and I have our hearts set on running the Disney marathon next year – our first marathon. I want to do it so much that I find myself grinning whenever I think about it. I’ve read countless blogs on the topic and feel ‘ready’ (albeit without having yet started any training) and prepared.

However I’m already getting worried. It’s an expensive, extravagant trip which will mean tightening our belts significantly – things involving flights to the other side of the world tend to work out that way. What if I get injured during training? What if I wake up with a cold the day before? What if…..just fill in the blanks – there are untold numbers of potential worries. When it’s a local event, I don’t worry – I can always do it next time and haven’t put much into the logistics. When it’s a racecation, it’s a huge logistical exercise, this one being even bigger because it involves other people. Once booked, we’re going, even if I have to cheer from the sidelines which would be heartbreaking.

In fact, this one is so big, I’m still very much undecided about whether or not to do it. I’ve always been a ‘just do it’ kind of girl but I’m not sure that I’m up for a year of stress leading up to an event. I have until February to decide and I suspect, having weighed up everything, it will actually come down to instinct. For now, I’ll continue pondering. As I pack for Cadbury half marathon in Hobart which we fly out to on Friday. Yep, clearly a fan of the racecation!

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Hanging out with Freddo at the 2016 Cadbury half marathon

Time for some tunes…

I put my hand up – I’m one of ‘those’ runners. Unless I’m out on the trails, (and, honestly, sometimes even then) I have my headphones in. I am capable of running without music, I just choose not to most of the time. There is something cathartic for me about not just getting lost in the rhythm of my running but in that being in sync with my music. And I do have an eclectic mix on there. (I also think I probably listen to music to avoid listening to how horrid I sound when I run but that’s a whole other blog post.)

So here’s what I’m listening to at the moment – some old, some new 🙂

Ed Sheeran – Castle on the hill. This is the track that got me thinking I need to revise my playlist. This one has just been released and I adore it.

Bastille – Wild World. This whole album is brilliant but this song is my favourite and I sometimes find myself trying to sing and breathe and run at the same time. I always manage to mess up one of that triad!

The Killers – Miss Atomic Bomb. This is just one of the many, many songs I have from this talented bunch on my running playlist. Love it. Not a particularly fast tempo but big and powerful enough to get me moving. Their ‘Mr Brightside’ is still my favourite song of all time and I get goosebumps whenever it comes up on shuffle as I happen to be approaching a finish line – it’s just what I need to get me across the mat.

McFly – All about you. McFly are another bunch who have songs a-plenty on my running playlist but I think this is my favourite of theirs. Which is interesting – it’s not a fast tempo song at all but I just like hearing it and it helps get me into my zen like state as I run. Actually, that sums up my playlist – the songs that help me get beyond my sore feet, depleted lungs and whatever distance I have to cover and just let me get lost in my head.

Cyndi Lauper – The Goonies ‘r’ good enough. Yep, slightly odd choice. Cyndi Lauper was one of my heroes growing up and I’m not sure what made me recently revisit this track but it’s made it onto my running playlist and I love it! It makes me giggle a bit whenever it comes on.

Sara Bareilles – Brave -. Essential. It’s been on my playlist since it was released and I’m fairly sure it will be there for a long time yet. It’s one of those songs which never fails to make me run a bit faster, a bit stronger and a lot prouder. It reminds me how I want to feel when I run and the sort of person I want to be. Inspirational stuff.

So what are you listening to at the moment? Any suggestions for me?

2017 goals

Setting running goals for the last few years has actually worked for me – I think it brings out my slightly competitive side (albeit when only in competition with myself). Having wrapped up my 2016 goals early, I’ve been thinking ever since about what else I want to achieve which has been quite a challenge as I feel like 2016 has been such an amazing year of running and can’t imagine it being any better.

There is one goal I didn’t achieve so that is the one that will carry over – to run 1000km. I knew from the start that this was a stretch goal and will still be a challenging one for me to achieve in 2017…

  • Run 1000km during the year
  • Reach my 100 parkrun milestone
  • Sub 35minute parkrun
  • Walk a marathon. Not an actual marathon, just the distance to prove to myself that I can
  • Volunteer at running events – parkrun and others
  • Give cycling and swimming a fair go this year

Some of those are rather easy, others I can’t imagine achieving but never say never!