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)

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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.

Dopey training – week 16

First week back of term is not really the ideal week for training to go up to another level but it is what it is and there’s not much I can do about it. So I just got on with what the training plan told me. Be ready for a long post – it was a loooooong training week.

On Tuesday, I set my alarm for 5.45am, got up and ran around my neighbourhood. I am not at all an early morning runner, as much as I’d like to be. The thing that got me up was knowing husband and I had movie tickets that night that would give me no chance to run after work so it was early or not at all. So early it was. I’m pleased to say I actually enjoyed it. Now that it’s getting light earlier, I didn’t need my head torch and was treated to the soft, welcoming colours of dawn as the neighbourhood woke up. And I got to bask in that ‘I’ve already done my run’ kind of feeling all day. Tick.

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Tuesday night, husband and I did go to the movies but not ordinary movies – it was the Run Nation Film Festival in Melbourne and we had won tickets thanks to a parkrun competition. I think it deserves a blog post of its own but, in summary, it was brilliant. The films chosen were a perfect mix and provided exactly the inspiration I needed this week.

Thursday afternoon ended up being a hill day as my friend and I headed out to the You Yangs for our regular trek up the Saddle. I’d been getting a bit paranoid about my leg which had been doing what it does – flare up for no reason when I have an event coming up. However it was perfectly ok after the hills so which reassured me that it was all in my head.

Saturday called for 11km which meant parkrun plus some extra. We were going to Bannockburn Bush parkrun launch so we went out early and ran the course (and a bit) before the others got there. It was actually really, really lovely. It’s a very peaceful place and the fog added to the atmosphere. We took it easy, aiming for a pace that would keep us a bit ahead of the balloon ladies and achieved this without a problem. Completing parkrun afterwards was also very low stress and I had no soreness at the end as we tucked into breakfast. I did take it easy for the rest of Saturday – not sore, just a bit tired and knew we had an early morning this morning.

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Today was our long run – 27km on the training plan which suited us as we’d signed up for the Melbourne half marathon. We arrived early, dropped off our bags and then set off on some laps around the MCG to add on some extra kilometres. I think the people arriving for their events thought we were possibly a little insane but it was actually quite enjoyable. We then joined everyone else at the start line and were off, leaving our Garmins running to track our longest long runs yet.

I ran with a friend for quite a while and really, really appreciated having her there – I am sure I wouldn’t have had as much ‘run’ in me without her. It’s funny how, even without pushing you or telling you you have to, having someone there makes you instantly more accountable. You don’t want to let them down. And so it was today which was exactly what I needed.

The first part of the run went off pretty well and the kilometres flew. It certainly helped that we were surrounded by people all buzzing with event excitement and had glorious blue skies. Albert Park lake, the site last year of wind and bugs, was stunning today and my regular check-ins with my body confirmed that nothing was hurting. The only thing that was starting to get to me was that I was tired but that’s to be expected – a big part of this training plan is learning to run on tired legs.

Once we were back on St Kilda Road and felt like we were on the home stretch, I found it harder to keep up the intervals and set my friend free – time to knuckle down and just get on with our own journeys. My mantra today was ‘This is hard, yes but not impossible’ and that was enough to keep me going.

Clearly the fatigue and endorphins combined to leave me prone to random tearing up – cheers on the course from a parent of one of my students (who was running the marathon) made me teary as did hearing the cheers in the final stretch. I took a big gulp and entered the MCG. Last year, I remember finding I had to dig deep to keep running as I had run a PB and had nothing left. This year was very different – I was certainly tired but my legs and lungs were still well and truly strong enough to get me there.

However crossing the line wasn’t enough – I still had another 1.5km to go to reach my training plan distance so I got my medal, headed up the steps and found another friend who kindly offered to collect and carry my bag and do a couple of laps of the MCG with me to finish. 27km – done.

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48.7km run this week – my biggest training week ever. Will see how I am tomorrow but, for tonight, I feel great.

Weekly summary:

Tuesday: 5.6km (47:12)

Thursday: 5km (51:30)

Saturday: 11.1km (1:46:15)

Sunday: 27km (4:08:56)

parkrun tourism @ Bannockburn Bush

It appears that parkrun launch season is upon us again – last week was Portarlington’s turn and this week it was inland at Bannockburn Bush.

The team at this parkrun have been working hard for many months to set it all up, secure the funding and build a base of enthusiastic volunteers and participants. And all of that hard work paid off with a successful and busy launch this morning.

We arrived ridiculously early as our training plan called for a 6km pre-parkrun run so it was a sleepy, quiet and foggy scene that greeted us as we made our way down the gravel road to the reserve. It gave us a chance to enjoy the (chilly) morning and explore the course before the crowds arrived. By the time we were done, there were a lot more cars and people and we had time for a quick catch up with fellow local and travelling parkrunners before the briefing.

 

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The course at Bannockburn Bush is, as the name suggests, through the trees and along a delightful trail surface. Even more blissfully, it’s flat. It’s a wide enough trail for everyone and, even with the many people attending this morning’s launch, it still wasn’t too crowded, especially after the first 500 metres. It is a very easy to follow course – you head out straight then make a left for a short out and back segment before rejoining the main track where you head towards the main turn around point. From there, it’s straight back to the finish. And, if in doubt, there are a fabulous permanent sign posts along the way, ensuring you can’t get lost. Unless you try really, really hard.

It was great to see a big diversity in the parkrunners attending today with what felt like more than the usual proportion of walkers, adding further to the supportive and family friendly atmosphere.

Congratulations to the event team on a very successful launch. For those of you planning to tourist out this way, do. And be sure to visit Bannockburn Station for breakfast afterwards – absolutely delicious!

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Not letting fear get in the way of the good things

I pushed myself well out of my comfort zone yesterday by trying something new. Something I had previously said I’d ‘never do’. I went to a group fitness session. I know – radical, right? It was always something I assumed just wouldn’t be the right fit for me. I find personal trainers intimidating and the the thought of having to exercise with the potential for others to watch me? Blah!

So why did I go along? Just in case. Just in case I actually liked it. Just in case it actually helped improve my running. Just in case it helped reduce my risk of injury. And I’m pleased to say, I actually did enjoy it. I’m not a convert and won’t be switching from running any time soon but the half an hour went pretty quickly and I mostly smiled – can’t ask for more than that.

It did make me remember though all of the barriers I put up before my first parkrun so that’s what I wanted to share. In doing so, I hope that someone reading it might realise their thoughts aren’t unique, their worries are shared and the worst things you imagine are very, very unlikely to happen.

  • It looks complicated – what do I do with my barcode? And the map looks confusing – what if I get lost?
    It’s actually very, very simple. Register once on the website, print that barcode and take it with you to your local parkrun (which you’ll also find details of on the website). If you’re nervous when you arrive, introduce yourself to the Run Director or one of the volunteers and tell them that – they’re very friendly and will happily answer any questions you have. Listen to the briefing – it will tell you all the important things you need to know about the course. Follow everyone over to the start line and go when the crowd does! Most of the courses are really easy to follow and those that are a little more complicated have signs, chalk drawings on the path or marshals to help you get around. And, unless you plan on being the first finisher, there’ll be lots of other bodies to follow. When you’re done and you’ve crossed the finish line, you’ll be given a finish token. Take it and your personal barcode up to the scanner who’ll scan both and take the finish token from you. And that’s it! Sit around on the couch feeling smug and wait for an email from parkrun with your results 🙂
  • I don’t have the right gear to wear.
    Wrong. You have clothes, yes? They will do. For your first parkrun, you don’t need any particular clothes or shoes or accessories. Yes, I’ve certainly seen people wearing all manner of sports gear but I’ve also seen people complete it in shorts and a t-shirt. Whatever is comfortable and you can move in.
  • Everyone will look at me.
    Probably. They will need to to welcome you properly, at least to begin with. And then, after it all starts and people are exerting themselves, you’ll get the odd ‘Go!’ or ‘Well done!’ but, other than that, people will be far too worried about breathing, not tripping over and moving forward that they will not have time to look at you.
  • I’m shy.
    While a big part of parkrun for lots of us is the social stuff, it’s not compulsory and you get out of it what you want. I remember being so nervous turning up to my first parkrun, particularly as I’m not a social butterfly but I needn’t have worried – people were so welcoming and friendly but there was also no pressure. There were some groups chatting and there were lots of parkrunners standing around stretching or chilling, waiting for the briefing and start. And all of that was perfectly ok.
  • I’ll be the slowest one there.
    Wrong. Every parkrun event has a tailwalker whose job it is to be ‘the slowest one there’. They are also quite skilled at offering regular encouragement and making sure you don’t get lost or left out on the track.
  • I’m not really ‘a runner’. Can I walk?
    Sure. Walk, run, womble or a combination of all 3. You can’t bring your scooter or bike but, other than that, you finish that 5km however you like. I suggest cartwheels are possibly not very efficient and may get you some funny looks. And, fyi, if you run any part of it, you are a runner. Really.
  • What if I can’t finish the 5km?
    Then don’t. Do what you can. The fact that you’ve turned up, listened to the briefing and crossed the start line makes you automatically awesome and there will be no judgement. There is no pressure to finish in a set time so try slowing down. And remember that your brain is ‘done’ a lot sooner than your body is so do a quick ‘body check’ to see if you’re feeling ok and actually can keep going.
    If you’re worried about the distance, check out your local parkrun course on the website – they’re either out and back or laps so you could always set yourself a shorter target to get you started. And keep picturing how amazing you’ll feel on that day in the future when you do cross the line and have your token scanned after doing your first 5km.
  • I’m worried that once I start, I might not be able to stop.
    Um, yes. This one’s true. It is addictive. Luckily, that’s not a bad thing.

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Dopey training – week 12

Training ramped up a notch this week with the addition of 1 more session – a Saturday walk. Not too taxing but a reminder that it is getting serious. As it should – this week also flipped our countdown down to double digits until we take off. Definitely getting real.

My backdrop for a lovely run around the neighbourhood after work #running #runhappy

A post shared by Gill (@macgirl_19) on

Tuesday’s run was an easy lap of the neighbourhood block made even easier by the fact that it wasn’t freezing and was still light when I got home from work. Bonuses all round.

Thursday was hill day and I took my friend back up the Saddle. She did brilliantly and we were lots faster than last time. It was a stunning afternoon in the You Yangs – perfect Spring weather and exactly the run I needed at the end of the week.

Saturday was parkrun or, rather, parkwalk plus a bit extra to make up the required mileage. I really like that I can walk these although take them seriously and am still aiming to keep my pace ahead of the virtual balloon ladies. I managed that very successfully yesterday, as well as having a great chat with another running friend I don’t catch up with very often.

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Today was long run day and I have been looking forward to it all week. I got my stuff ready last night and was in bed by 7.30pm, just wanting the night to hurry up and be over so I could go. The forecast was great and I headed out to my favourite trail for a few hours of zen time – gravel and soft stuff underfoot, waves crashing just to the edge of my vision and surrounded by nature bursting with Spring-ness – idyllic. The hardest part was knowing it was a run of superlatives – my longest solo run, my longest training run, the furthest I’ve been in one hit on the Surf Coast trail, my biggest total kms for the week. I think all of that messed with my head a bit in the first kilometre and I found my breathing was hard, more because of rising panic than pushing it too hard. I reminded myself that kms on legs were all that mattered today and that I could walk it all if I wanted. And I took some time to enjoy the scenery and the weather, all of which brought tears to my eyes – there was absolutely nothing else I could imagine doing at that moment that would bring me as much happiness as this. So I just got on with it.

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It was a great run. I saw a few other people – enough to feel like I was safe but not enough to bother me. Ironbark basin is unfamiliar enough to keep me distracted as I wasn’t quite sure what I’d find around each corner. What I found was more and more beauty – I really am lucky to live where I do and have this in my backyard. None of it was that hard today – all body parts were playing nicely and nothing hurt. No (obvious) chafing (haven’t yet done the shower test!), my feet felt great and my left leg was not alerting me to any new or old niggles. The most annoying thing was that I got back to car having only done 20.6km so I had to do some little circuits to stretch it out to 21.1km. So proud of myself for getting it done. I celebrated with burgers with friends in town after their half marathon efforts at Cross Country Club.

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And there’s another week done. 38.6km this week, 6 hours worth of running. Wow.

Weekly summary:

Tuesday – 5.6km (46:10)
Thursday – 5.3km (55:40)
Saturday – 6.5km (63:11)
Sunday – 21.1km (3:15:44)

parkrun tourism @ newport lakes

When I think of Newport, Harry Potter-ish thoughts come to mind. Before you click ‘close’ and assume I’ve gone slightly bonkers, hear me out. We caught a steam train from Newport station once and it fulfilled many childhood wishes. I still vividly remember the train going through Southern Cross station, tooting its horn and feeling like I was on a magical mode of transportation that the muggles on the platform couldn’t quite see, only hear. So Newport will forever be a place linked in my mind to positive, if slightly eccentric, memories.

We weren’t able to make the launch of Newport Lakes parkrun as it was Balyang Sanctuary’s birthday so managed to get along today to event #3. This was probably a wise move. While there is definitely something about launches, there’s something different but equally as rewarding in turning up at an event unexpectedly and checking them out ‘in their street clothes’. Every parkrun has its own feel and quirks, even though the format and rules are all the same. The first thing Newport Lakes has going for it is a dose of the unexpected – I have driven through the area on my way to a friend’s house a few times but would never have known that this gem of a park was tucked away down a short road amidst all this suburbia. When I think ‘lake’ in relation to a Melbourne suburb, I assume it’s man-made and probably has a fountain and boardwalks. But no, this one has a lake that’s real and a trail that actually feels like a trail.

The first timers’ briefing gave us an overview of the course (which sounded confusing but signposted) and it was wonderful to see so many first timers. The main briefing then gave further delights – the Hobsons Bay running group had come along and were putting on a complimentary BBQ breakfast afterwards. I love this. I love that none of this needs to be a competition, that existing events and running groups can all work together to achieve the common goal – to get more people moving. But I digress.

After gathering at the start line, we were soon off. The start is across the grass, following the cones then looping back around near where you’ve come from. We followed the outside edge of the park for quite a while before following a bit of a long zig zag through the trails and closer to the water. The signposts were great and plentiful however I still had a few moments of doubt as there was no one around me and I wondered if that was because I went the wrong way. I trusted the arrows and kept going, finding some people further along the path. The surface is gravel track with some rocks and tree roots thrown in for good measure and I was glad I’d worn my trail shoes as they just gave me a bit more grip going up and down the inclines. There aren’t any terrible hills, just a few short ups and downs but lots of turning and loops so I really didn’t know where I was at any point. Running back along the road, I was completely disorientated until I turned back onto the grass and over the finish line.

Run done, we joined in the BBQ breakfast and chatted before heading off in search of a trendy venue for coffee and second breakfast. We found Leroy’s which perfectly fit the bill. Mmmmmm.

Well done to the event team at Newport Lakes – definitely a course I’d like to go back to although I’m equally sure I won’t be attempting a freedom run on it. I was fairly sure that, if I wasn’t completely attentive, I could get lost even with signs. Without them, I may be in the unfortunate position of needing to call for help in finding my way out of a suburban park!!