Carman’s women’s fun run – race recap

I love this run. Which is kind of funny when I think of the parts of it which aren’t necessarily what you’d expect in a great run – the weather is unpredictable (it is Melbourne after all) and can be boiling or pouring with rain; the course is flat and along a not overly scenic road, albeit next to St Kilda beach and with views of Luna Park; it’s a road event and lacks shade; parking can be frustrating….not necessarily the ingredients you’d expect. But, somehow, it is one of my favourite runs of the year and one I return to time and time again. This year was my 5th event and I’m pretty sure I’ll be back again in 2017.

I travelled up with my fabulous running buddies, leaving home at ridiculous o’clock which meant we were able to get our favourite car parking spot and collect our shirts and bibs. Actually, that’s a big tick for this event – the fact that you can pick your bib up on the morning if you choose and the whole process is very low stress.

So, bibs in hand and shirts changed, we joined the portaloo queue (which is always pretty good at this event) and headed over for the start. We were quite surprised to find ourselves not particularly excited – still waking up and trying to find our mojo. The starting gun went off and we shuffled along to the start line, still not really feeling it. Yet again, I didn’t know what I could expect for myself. I’d hoped for this to be fairly fast but hadn’t done much serious running since Melbourne half marathon and had had a never ending cold since then that had only just disappeared. And it was warmer than I liked. And my leg was a bit dodgy. You know the drill – the usual fears and doubts plaguing me.

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Regardless, we started. And I ran. I didn’t really have a strategy, just wanted to run and see how I felt. It turned out that I felt ok. Hot and a bit icky from the warm weather but ok. My leg had miraculously stopped hurting once we started.

At about 3km, my friend caught up with me and we followed a run/walk from there, keeping up a pretty steady pace and pushing our way through the heat. The event didn’t seem to have the crowds from previous years but the diversity of the runners is something that I always enjoy – not just the speedy ones you expect to see but runners and walkers of all ages, shapes, sizes and speeds.

As the kilometres ticked by, I was enjoying the run more and settling into it. It was still hard work but not too hard and the distance really was flying by, no doubt helped by having a friend along. By the last 2km, I was running out of energy and really had to put my head down and push through the hurt. I was very happy to cross back into Catani Gardens. The finish chute at this event always feels like the longest ever although at least it had colour, sound and spectators to make it appealing. I couldn’t do my usual sprint-ish for the line as I really didn’t have much left and was so grateful to cross the line, still smiling and, most importantly, upright. Despite the heat, we’d run it in a pretty good time – 3 minutes off last year’s time and my second best 10km time for the year.

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This is one of those events that I just find myself coming back to and I suspect I’ll be back again next year. There is something particularly inspiring about running with a group of women, and running in support of the Breast Cancer Network brings out some very inspirational stories and tributes. Very hard not to be grateful and contemplative in that atmosphere – a perfect wrap up event for the year.

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Run Melbourne 2016 – race recap

I had vaguely contemplated not doing this event as I’ve signed up for heaps of events this year but it has become one of my staples over the years and, in the end, I couldn’t bring myself to miss it.

I met my friends on board the train and we had a very relaxed start to our day. Definitely the best way to travel to an event – no stress over traffic, no worries about parking, just time to sit back, chat and get mentally ready. We arrived at Southern Cross, caught a train around to Flinders Street and had a perfect amount of time to spare for all the necessary bits – photos, bag drop, toilet stop and, slightly traumatically, stripping off the layers to prepare for the start. Melbourne had put on a glorious sunny day but with a temperature in the single digits and occasional puffs of wind which felt like they were travelling to us straight from Antarctica.

We made our way to our ‘wave c’ pen then stood around waiting for what felt like a very long time. The crowd of bodies were actually quite a good way to ward off the cold but we all just wanted to get moving – nerves and anxiety was starting to bubble. Our wave actually started so far back we couldn’t see the start line and, once we were moving, we seemed to go a long way before we were finally running under our arch and onto the course.

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I got myself into a steady rhythm and managed to avoid the general ducking and weaving which tends to happen at the start. I hadn’t known what I would feel like – just running or run/walk intervals – so I didn’t have a plan. I ended up doing run/walk intervals – 3 mins/1 min. Most importantly, everything felt good. No twinges from my achilles, no dull ache from my calf, no tightness in my hamstring. My lungs were coping just fine and I was moving at a decent pace. I had a quick ‘can I keep it up?’ at the back of my mind then I pushed it from my head with a ‘who cares?’. I was out to run and enjoy the event, that was all.

The kilometres ticked by pretty quickly – the course is quite scenic, as city courses go and the twists and turns and little inclines and declines keep you suitably distracted. Drink stations were plentiful and well stocked, popping up before I had even started to feel thirsty. And still I kept plodding along at a pretty steady pace.

I ran over the 5km mat with a better time than those I’ve been achieving at parkrun and was really pleased with how things were going. I was getting tired but not unbearably so and nothing was hurting so I told myself to suck it up and keep moving. The pep talk worked. Soon enough, I was heading for the footbridge between Rod Laver Arena and the MCG and into the last kilometre. Probably the hardest bit of the course for me was the slight hill going back up towards Flinders Street – I ran it very slowly but very steadily. I’d looked at my watch and thought maybe, just maybe, I could pull off a PB so was determined to give it my all.

Thankfully, what goes up must come down and we headed down the Batman Avenue hill then turned in to the finish chute along Birrarung Marr. I didn’t have much sprint left in me but did my best and was so pleased to come in just under 1:20 – a 10km PB.

As always, the thing that makes these events so much fun is hanging out with running friends and we all met up then headed for breakfast before our relaxing journey home on the train (with some photography fun thanks to a competition being run by the event organisers).

So will I do this one again? Most likely. I kind of like collecting the medals which are in a series. The atmosphere did seem a little less buoyant this year but the volunteers were all friendly and efficient. I preferred the old course (and really, really miss the bubble bridge) but it was still scenic enough and full of ample distraction. And it’s kind of a tradition now, a quintessential Melbourne experience complete with crisp Wintery conditions – perfect running weather in a beautiful running city. What’s not to love?

Bellarine sunset run – race recap

I’m not normally a big fan of late starting events so it shows the power of persuasion that my running friends hold over me that saw me sign up for the Bellarine sunset 10km run which we ran yesterday.

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I headed down to the staging area to pick up my bib and meet up with the crew. Most of them were running the half marathon option but, as it had turned out quite warm, I was glad to have chosen the 10km. They all started at 5.30pm so I waved them off for their briefing, cheered them over the start line then waited for the bus to take me to the start of the 10km in St Leonards. We were greeted aboard the bus by a pirate – you don’t get a better start to an event than that!

The bus trip was great, taking in the course that we’d be running on and passing all of those on the outbound lap of the half marathon. It did, however, feel a little long and my pre-event butterflies were starting to flutter. Was I really up to running all the way back?!

The start line was very casual and, as we were waiting, we saw the first couple of half marathoners come through for the turnaround – inspirational stuff as they were powering along. Dion Milne (who organised the event along with his wife, Liberty), shared something of the origins and intentions of this inaugural event then sent us off on our way. This event really is testament to his determination and the positive role that running and the supportive network it offers can play in people’s lives and that’s what my head was full of as I set off.

While the start was a little crowded, we soon thinned out and, somehow, magically, there was room not only for us but for the trickle of half marathoners who had reached the turnaround point and were on their way home. It all just seemed to work beautifully. The trail hugged the coast and gave stunning views and cooling sea breezes which were much appreciated as I was boiling. Even better, the course ran along the edge of a couple of caravan parks, complete with happy campers who yelled encouragement (including our names thanks to them being printed on our bibs) and hosed us down as we passed – bliss! We were also lucky enough to have 2 fabulous running buddies there as support crew with encouragement, drinks and lollies along the way. The drink stations were well stocked and environmentally friendly so we used our collapsible cups which we bought at registration.

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I had felt thoroughly exhausted in the first couple of kilometres but felt better as the sun went down and took the temperature with it. In the last kilometre, another running friend who was running the half caught up and we ran to the finish together.

 

12657816_1678368965752461_1604587142262684756_oI was hot, tired and thirsty but happy and hung around to cheer our running buddies over the line.

We stuck around for presentations (which had been timed so that most people would have finished for them) and to generally soak up the atmosphere. I wasn’t in the mood for a cider afterwards which was a shame considering who the sponsor was 🙂

This was an absolutely brilliant event – gorgeous course, friendly and inclusive atmosphere (even for those as far at the back of the pack as me), well resourced with fabulous volunteers. As much as I still don’t like afternoon events, this is one I’ll definitely be keen to do again – so much fun (and great bling!). Well done to all involved & a huge congratulations to Dion and Liberty – you should be proud of what you’ve achieved.

Sussan women’s fun run – race recap

My favourite run of the year was on this morning – the Sussan women’s fun run – and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint.

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This year, I was lucky enough to be at this event with some great friends – Jo, Jill & Maggi – which all just added to the fantastic atmosphere. We left home rather early but were rewarded with my usual easy and close car park and time to meander through the event village to pick up bibs and my prize (I won some Natio sunscreen, which will definitely come in handy over the next few months!). We queued for the porta-loos (clean and with real toilet paper – bonus!), browsed the stands and entered a competition to win some shoes then it was time to gather at the start. We wished each other all the best and set off at our own paces.

20151206_084515.jpgThe thing I love most about this run in the atmosphere and general camaraderie of all who participate. The looping course also means you’re never on your own as you get to see the same people multiple times and cheer on those faster and slower than you. The huge cheers for the fastest 10km runners were a great sign of this but there was equally large support for those at the back of the field.

The first few km whizzed by and I felt good. My foot was giving its usual twinges but I had energy and, most of all, felt happy to be doing this. I’d worried that I had lost my running mojo with City2Sea and the general flatness I felt at the start of that but it was well and truly back this morning. I even had a few vaguely teary moments at particularly loud cheers from the crowd – it’s that sort of event where you can’t help but be lifted by the generally positive mood.

I stuck to my 3 min run/1 min walk throughout and felt strong and happy. Coming in to the finish shute, Bastille’s ‘Pompeii’ came on my iPod which made me smile (brilliant song!) and felt like an anthem worthy of pushing me over the finish line. Hearing my friends cheer me over the line was great – so much more fun to be doing this event with others.

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It wasn’t a PB although wasn’t far off it and it was my 2nd best 10km time this year. But it really wasn’t about the time today (not that it ever is!) – it was about enjoying the run and I certainly achieved that. Most importantly, it reminded me how much I enjoy running and how grateful I am to have met some awesome running friends this year. Bring on 2016!

Lara fun run – race recap

The 5th anniversary of the Lara fun run was held yesterday but, despite being local, it’s the first time I’ve actually run it. I was convinced to join by some friends and signed up for the 10km, which is 2 laps of the beautiful Serendip Sanctuary.

The start/finish line in the grounds of Pirra homestead

The start/finish line in the grounds of Pirra homestead

Being a small event, it was all very friendly and low-key with around 700 participants overall (105 finishing the 10km). The conditions weren’t ideal – it was already 20 degrees when I arrived and starting at 9am meant the sun was up and at its relentless best.

From the first few minutes, I knew this one was going to be hard. The heat and the humidity made it such a challenge, despite the flat and easy course. It is also a two-lap course which is always a challenge and starting the 2nd lap, I was close to giving up. The only thing that kept me going was my friend’s voice in my head – “parkrunners don’t pay for 5km”!!!

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The 2nd lap actually turned out to be a lot better – there were no crowds left (as all the 5 km runners were now gone), the course was no longer an unknown stretch of road and I knew I was on the home stretch, regardless of it being a fairly long stretch. And I was last. You’d think this was a negative thing but it was actually a bit of a relief. I had known going into this that I was probably going to come last as I’d checked out times from last year and knew they were all faster than my best. Realising I really was last therefore took the pressure off – the worst had happened, the world hadn’t ended and I couldn’t come any further behind.

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This emu hung around a while after crossing the road in front of me

A big bonus of running after all the crowds had gone was that the animals came out to play and I was treated to an emu crossing the road and some wallabies stepping up to say hello.

I’m also really pleased to say that the volunteers were all absolutely lovely. In bigger events, you don’t always get treated well at the back of the pack but I was encouraged and supported all the way to the finish line and didn’t feel I was holding anyone up. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved to see a finish line – it was beautiful but a tough, tiring run.

Will I do this one again? I’m not sure. The course is stunning and the organisers and volunteers are friendly which are both huge pluses. However I really don’t like multi-lap courses and the late start time meant it was hotter than it needed to be. I can see this becoming one of those events which I enter on the day if I happen to feel like it 🙂

Melbourne marathon festival 10km – race recap

Right up until yesterday, I wasn’t sure that I was going to run in this event. My training had been going quite well, even while I was away on holiday, but my last run had been cut short by weird pains in my foot and twinges in my calf. My physio gave me the all clear (with a ‘take it easy’ caveat) but something didn’t feel right.

wpid-20151017_190450.jpgDespite this, I trekked to Melbourne and checked in to my quirky accommodation – Melbourne Central YHA. I had an awesome room up on the roof and, after visiting the running expo at the MCG, I spent the afternoon and evening chilling out, trying not to stress out over my foot and stop myself from just going home.

My alarm went off at 5.45am but I didn’t need it as I’d been awake half the night. It was weird to be nervous about a run – it’s not my first fun run, not a distance I wasn’t used to and not really a huge deal but the nerves were there anyway.

I walked along to the MCG and found my friend Jo very easily, dropping off bags and we met up with the others from our running group. I still wasn’t really feeling it but was so grateful to be there with a group as their energy and positivity was infectious and got me to the start line. From there, it was just up to my foot as to whether I would make it to the finish.

After various selfies, it was our turn to start so we wished each other all the best and set off at our own paces. I started slow, testing out my foot for any niggles and, with huge relief, found none. It appears the physio massage, rest and taping had done the trick. Spurred on by this fantastic news, I kept running steadily for the first few kilometres and felt really comfortable.

I didn’t really need a walk break but something made me think of my leg so I decided to do intervals from then on although, in a sign of how good I felt, I kept running longer than intended on a few of my running bits.

Getting to one of the drink stations (I think at around the 7km mark), there were huge cheers coming from the volunteers for all of us running past and it made me quite teary. It was one of those ‘I’m really going to finish this’ moments and I realised then that my nerves all along had been nerves about not finishing and feeling like I’d failed. It’s odd the pressures and expectations that we put on ourselves – they’re so much bigger than those that others put on us.
wpid-20151018_084726.jpgRunning up William Barak bridge was the only hill that gave me any challenge today although I remember it being a lot harder when I first ran this course 6 years ago so that made me feel better. Most importantly, the MCG was clearly in view and we all knew what that meant – the finish line wasn’t far away.

Probably the hardest bit is the loop you have to do to make up the distance before heading into the MCG – it felt like such a slog to the turn around point and back and was only made better by seeing Jo and Maggi.

wpid-20151018_090210.jpgI paused for a moment before I entered the MCG to take a picture and a breath – I remembered how much I loved this part of the run last time I ran this event and wanted to savour it. I’m pleased to say it was just as good second time around. Running a lap of the MCG is just spectacular, especially with people sitting in the stands cheering us all on. Even better, the first marathon runner was just coming in to the arena as I was finishing my lap so the crowd were cheering even louder…and I pretended it was for me to help get me over the line.

I didn’t run a PB but I was really happy with my time, considering that 24 hours before, I’d been thinking of not bothering. Most importantly, my calf, foot and achilles all felt great, as they had throughout the run. And I had another fabulous event hanging out with a great bunch of running friends – what more can you ask for?

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Run Melbourne – race recap

One of my favourite races on the Melbourne running calendar was held this morning – Run Melbourne, which attracted thousands of runners. I ran the 10km – my third event but a little different to the others as I was with a bunch of running friends from my local parkrun.

The weather forecast for the morning hadn’t looked good but, when I emerged from my hotel at 7.30am, it was actually quite a pleasant (crisp) Melbourne Winter morning. No rain and no wind. I trammed it down to the event village and checked in to the Runners’ World VIP tent which I was lucky enough to have a pass to. This was a great way to spend some time before the run – chatting to other runners and the Runners’ World staff and generally avoiding that moment where I would have to ditch the layers and face the ‘crispness’ of the morning.

Soon enough, I headed off (minus layers) and met my friends up in Federation Square along with a fellow five30runner, Matthew who was down from Newcastle, had spotted my shirt and came over to have a chat. I absolutely love meeting up with people from this group – every encounter I have has been so friendly and supportive, as if you’re meeting up with an old friend rather than someone you’ve only ever chatted to online.

We all headed down to the start line which is always a bit of a scrum at this event. I don’t like that feeling of being boxed in but we weren’t held for too long before our wave was starting and the crowds thinned out pretty much within the first 500 metres.

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hanging out for the start

I didn’t really go into this with a plan – I hadn’t specifically trained but had been running regularly so I wasn’t really sure what I was capable of. I quickly fell into a 2 minute run/1 minute walk pattern and felt good, with no pain in my achilles and lots of energy.

The course is great with a few switchbacks which allow you to really feel like you’re part of a big event as you are always surrounded by other runners and supporters. There are also lots of volunteers, charity crews and Nova staff out there who really add to the atmosphere – holding up hilarious signs, chanting and offering high fives when needed. As your name is printed on your race bib, you also tend to hear your name called out a lot which is often the incentive you need when you’re running low on energy.

My favourite part of the course is the bridge lined with windsock men and air filled with bubbles – such a fun place to run through and you can’t help but smile.

At about the 8km mark, I realised that I was not only feeling good, I was actually running well and very close to my PB time. I ran hard in the last 2kms and managed to cross the line in my 2nd best 10km time, knocking 2 minutes off last year’s Run Melbourne time so I was really pleased. For once, I also felt like I really gave it my all and couldn’t have run any faster – a good feeling to know I’d given it everything I had.

Afterwards, I picked up my bag (and my showbag of goodies!) from the VIP tent then headed off for breakfast with my friends. I love running big events but it really does add an extra element to do that with such great company to share the experience with.

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Pancake breakfast 🙂