Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thank you!!

I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has spent the time to share all their amazing advice. The biggest theme running through most of the comments is to stay positive, have faith in my training and to enjoy the experience. I'll do my best to do all of those.

We're getting closer and closer to the big day and I'm surprising myself. I thought I would be a nervous wreck this close to M day but I'm not! I'm relaxed and calm and (I know this smacks of mild insanity) I'm sort-of looking forward to it. I can't believe I just said that.

When I signed up for the race I had to force myself not to think too much about it because it would give me nervous nausea. For weeks after I signed up there was hardly a day go by that I wouldn't think of down-grading to the half or pulling out altogether. I had to mentally slap myself around the head and tell myself not to overthink it and to just take it one run at a time. Self-doubt can be a b@*#h!

The other thing I'm surprised about is that I'm quite enjoying the taper. It's school holidays here at the moment and tapering has given me the chance to sleep in for 3 days in a row! Unheard of!! I'm not wishing I was getting up early to pound the pavement. I'm enjoying the enforced laziness.

So I'm down to only three runs to go. An easy 12k on Saturday, a modified speed session on Tuesday and a light recovery run on Wednesday. Then Melbourne here I come!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Questions, Questions, Questions

So all the hard work is done - what next? I know I've got to run this thing but I'm really not sure how to do it (apart from left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot) I'm wondering how I should pace myself and how will I keep myself going when my brain starts screaming at me to stop.

I know that a lot/most of you out there have done this before and I'd really like to pick your brains for any morsel of useful/dubious/useless advice that you'd like to share. Things that other people shared with you. Things that worked or didn't work for you. War stories. Anything marathon-related.

I'll be doing the same at my running group. I'm an information-junkie and I firmly believe that Scientia est Potestas - Knowledge is Power

Friday, September 24, 2010

I've done it! All those really long training runs before Melbourne are finally over and finished. That's all the hard work done - it's time to taper.

This morning was a relatively short (I can't believe I'm using that adjective) 30k run. I must admit I found the going a bit tough from 25k on but when I looked at my Garmin data later I realised that some of the k's had been pretty slick. In fact one of them was only 4:44. What the? Note to self - don't run with speedy Deb for too long. She is way faster than you'll ever be and will only put you in a world of pain.

So I finished my run in 2:41:44 which made it my fastest paced long run since I've been marathon training. I think I'm ready. Or as ready as I'll ever be.

Our squad has a big contingent going down to Melbourne. There are 30 runners tackling everything from the 10k to the half and the full. The event has now sold out so I think the race-day buzz will be huge. My Mum and Dad and half-brother are coming down to cheer me on, as is Iven. I'll have my own little cheer-squad!

It's hard to believe that just a week ago I was in Sydney anticipating the half. I've been a bit slack with putting up pics from the weekend. I didn't get any race ones but I did get some great ones at the zoo. So I'll leave you with my favourite.

Actually, that wasn't the one I meant. It was this one ...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

All Kinds of Happy

I have had some golden moments in the last couple of days. Moments that, if you could bottle them and breathe in their essence whenever you're feeling a bit down you would never need antidepressants. Of course the Sunday was one of those moments spending precious hours doing special things with one of my boys. Sitting down with him over breakfast just after the race, feeling so happy I could cry ... or laugh ... or both.

Yesterday I had another of those moments. It came in the form of an email from the Mum whose daughter I made swimmers for. Little Ivy was so excited to get the package and more excited to try them on and Mum was excited that they fit well and covered the port in her chest. Could they pay me? No!! Could they advertise me on their blog? No, I'm happy with my workload. Could they do anything in return? Well they did - they sent the most beautiful photos of little Ivy in the swimmers I'd made. And the feeling that those photos gave me was better than money.

See what I mean ...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sydney Half

Sydney is done and dusted! Josh and I are sitting at the airport, bone-weary and ready to be home. How did the race go? I'll have to start at the very beginning ...

The beginning was about a year ago when I did this very same race. I was trying to break my PR but only managed in breaking me! I had the most miserable race that I've ever experienced. From 15k on I just wanted to die. So I was a little bit nervous about the race. I knew I could do the distance but I didn't want to feel BAD again. I also wanted it to be a great experience for Josh - something positive and good for his self-confidence.

We flew out early on Sat. and were able to book into our hotel straight away. Then we headed out to the expo to pick up our race numbers. Having done that we decided to have a wander so Josh could look at the harbor. We went back to the hotel and had a nap and hung out till it was time for dinner. Coach Chris had organized a booking for all the squad members who wanted to attend. There ended up being six of us eating and laughing and tying up the table longer than we should have. Then it was back to the hotel for an attempt at a good night's sleep.

My sleep was restless but 4:30am finally came around and we could get ready. We were out the door by 5:00 for the quick walk to the train station where we met Lucy (a squad member) Sydney lets all runners use public transport free on race-day which makes life so easy. Josh and I were wearing some really old jumpers which we left at the start and were collected for charity. It was a really well-organized starting area and Josh and I spent our time amusing ourselves by photo-bombing unsuspecting groups.

Soon enough it was start time. The gun went off and we waited ... And waited... And six minutes after the gun we were finally across the start. Josh's plan was to run with me to stop himself going too hard. I didn't really have a plan apart from finishing. We were running pretty freely right from the start - up the hill and onto Sydney Harbour Bridge. My watch went off after one k and we were sub 5 mins. Oops! I had intended to be cautious and moderate. But that was hard with Josh bouncing along at my side. He was finding the pace too comfortable!

The k's ticked over and we were hovering around the 5min per k mark - mostly under rather than over. I was feeling okay but the scared voice in the back of my head kept reminding me about last year and I started to freak out a little. I encouraged Josh to gp ahead - he was running so well - and finally at 11k he listened and took off. It was quite freeing to just be able to do my own thing. I was still feeling pretty good so my pace didn't slow very much. The k's ticked over and I found myself at the 15k mark - my horror spot from last year. This year, though, no problem! I cruised through and was heading back towards the harbor bridge and the Opera House. The last couple of k were hard but not unbearable and I stopped my watch at 1:47:39.

I caught up with Josh in the recovery area. He had no idea about his time but we found out later that he came in at 1:43:20. Pretty awesome for a first attempt especially when he's only trained once or twice a week and his longest run was only 17k. I was sooo proud of him!

The rest of the day was spent wandering around Taronga Zoo - probably not the best way to recover but lots of fun!

Yesterday was one of those special mother/son days which we'll both remember forever. I'm so lucky that I got the chance to have such qulity time with my #2

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grade 12 Formal

My baby had his formal last night. I can't believe how grown up he looks wearing a suit and tie. We had such a lovely afternoon preparing. His date, Wendy, got ready at our house because my niece was doing her makeup. That was lovely! Having three sons it was so nice to be involved with some girly preparations. She was so excited that she didn't stop talking the entire time she was here or for the trip to the venue.

My Mum and Dad got to be an integral part of the evening. Mum made her corsage - which was beautiful! And Dad dressed up, chauffeur hat included, and drove them in his '37 Chevy. He'd polished and cleaned the car within an inch of its life.

So it's the morning after and I'm now waiting for the call to pick him up from his after-party. Can't wait to hear all about the evening and see his pictures.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Heart Technology

I love technology! I have embraced it with open arms - I text, I email, I blog. I can't imagine my life without it and something happened this week that brought to mind a conversation that I had years ago with my now-deceased father-in-law.

He was very old-school. He didn't hold to all these new-fangled gadgets and he was happy to let everyone know his opinion on the matter. He firmly believed he could be in business without a fax, a computer or the internet. I disagreed and said that it sped up the process when working with people interstate but he wouldn't have a bar of it. When I explained that someone could ring me with a request then fax or email a design, I could start on the order within a day. But if I had to wait for snail mail I might not be able to start for the best part of a week. He was a stubborn old coot, still didn't believe me and I think the conversation ended up with me walking out of the room muttering "stupid old man" under my breathe.

Scroll forward a decade. This week I got a message on Facebook about making a special pair of swimmers for a special little girl who has some medical issues. The message was from a running acquaintance who'd seen something on Twitter. I Facebooked her my email address and the next day had an email from a family friend of the girl's. I emailed her Mum today for size information and what design modifications she needs. She sent back a digital photo of her little girl showing me the medical device she wanted to be covered. By late this afternoon I had 3 pairs of swimmers made, ready to be posted off in the morning. Without technology I would have never heard of this girl, let alone be able to help.

I'm taking tomorrow off from training. With my half in Sydney on Sunday I want to be feeling a little fresh so I can enjoy it. It's getting close and I'm starting to look forward to getting away and having no responsibilities for the weekend. I'm really looking forward to going to the zoo. Zoos have to be some of my favourite places. I haven't decided how I'm going to run it yet - I don't think it should be an all-out effort with Melbourne only a few weeks away but I'm hoping to go a little harder than I did at Gold Coast.

Woohoo! Sydney, here I come!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another Saturday - Another 36 K

Another 36k-er ticked off the list. Yes, I'm tired and sore but I'm really happy it's done. It was beautiful weather this morning - warm enough to run with just a singlet but without the humidity of last weekend. I would almost go so far as to say that it was perfect running weather.

We set off along the river and I found myself right at the front of the pack - strange because I wasn't wanting to run fast at all but obviously no one else wanted to either.
I ended up running next to Fiona, one of the amazing runners from our group who will be running the Melbourne Marathon. She was doing 36k's as well which was great for me because I was going to have company for this run!!

It's amazing how quickly the k's tick over when you've got pleasant company and good conversation. Before I knew it we were at New Farm Park and we'd done 10k. We hit the toilets here then we continued on. Every couple of weeks there's a big farmer's markets at the park and we had to wend our way through lots of shoppers, fruit stalls and coffee vans.

Just a little way on I started to get an urge - a bad I-need-to-go-to-the-toilet urge. Fiona reassured me that there were toilets at the next park but, as the minutes ticked over, I realised that the next park wasn't close enough. Luckily there was a service station handy and, even luckier, the attendant was happy to trust me with the key. Score!

We ran out till my watch beeped for 18k then turned around. I checked my Garmin a couple of times when it beeped and found I was running way faster than last week. Most of my k's were in the 5:teens and 5:20s. It felt good but made me a bit worried that the last stretch would really hurt. We got to 30 and all of a sudden I felt like I was running in mud. My legs had tightened up and didn't really want to move. I told Fiona to keep going but she (kind soul) stuck with me and pulled me through till there was only 2k left. I finished the run in 3:17:05 - over 10 mins faster than last week.

I can tell my fitness has improved and I'm excited by it. I was so scared at the beginning of this journey that I would end up in a pathetic pile of over-trained mush but Coach Chris and I have been smart and communicated well and my body has held up remarkably. A big thank you to all you bloggy marathoners who have shared advice and wisdom. I've taken it all on board.

So next weekend I'll be running the Sydney Half. 21 k is going to seem so easy after the last few weeks. And after Sydney it's just a couple of weeks till my Melbourne debut. It's coming up fast!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Magic Mountain

I'm seriously tired today. Three days and three runs totaling 36k and not enough sleep has made me this way. I had to rearrange my run schedule with my medium-long run on Wednesday instead of Monday (it was raining and I was a little pathetic) and, because I have the Sydney Half coming up in just over a week, I decided to push my 16k a little harder to see if I could still run faster than plodding pace. That run went quite well. I got down to the low 5:00 min pace for at least half of the run but today I'm paying the piper.

Today's run was hills!! Coach Chris was sick and had texted me yesterday to say I would be in charge with another of the regulars. Did all that power rush to my head? Did I go out and buy a megaphone and whistle? No!! My fellow runners are self-starters and need no real motivation. They may whinge and complain sometimes but they turn up and do the session and today's session is one of my favourite. It was the round-the-mountain run where we start at the parking bay and run uphill for about 2.2k then the road undulates and weaves around the top of the mountain till we reach a trail which is basically all downhill. It's a magic run, surrounded by trees and bushes where you hear the bird calls and see the sun rise over the city. Seriously the best way to start the day.

I'm going to try to sneak in a quick nap before I start work. Recovery is so important and so much fun (especially when you can get a bit of reading done.) Another 36ker is ahead of me on Saturday and I think I'm going to need all the strength I can muster for that one. Fingers crossed that it'll be cooler and I don't get an aura this time.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Another Award.

Happy 101 Award rules:

1. Thank the Giver - Thanks to AJH from Age Groups Rock.

2. State 10 Things You Like - 1. Running (don't we all?!)
2. Spending time with my family
3. Spending time with good friends
4. Dogs - especially watching them play
5. Coffee
6. A big healthy breakfast after my long run on
7. Reading a good book on a rainy day
8. Finishing a rhythmic gymnastics leotard and seeing
the look on the owner's face when she tries it on.
9. Travelling (except for the flying part which can
freak me out a little)
10. Honesty

3. Give This Award to 10 Others
1. Giorgio @ Giorgio's Runner Blog
2. P @ Adventures of An Average Athlete
3. Anne @ Asthma and The Gift of Running
4. Tricia @ Endurance Isn't Only Physical
5. Jamoosh @ Last Mile Lounge
6. Misszippy @ Misszippy1
7. Johann @ Run Tall, Walk Tall
8. Stefano @ Run With The Black Knight
9. Jamie @ Running Diva Mom
10. Zaneta @ Runner's Luck

My last 'like' is of particular significance today. I've just had the most stressful morning with son #2. He couldn't find his laptop anywhere. Now this is the laptop that has all his work for his final year prac subject and this is the son who's been having a rough time of it lately. He could remember using it on Friday evening at uni. He didn't use it all weekend and hadn't even unpacked his bag since then (yukky, smelly lunchbox!!) He was getting really stressed and so was I by extension. We decided that he needed to go back into uni and retrace his steps and I told him to just take it one step at a time and not to jump to the worst conclusion that it was gone forever.

So he went off to uni and I waited ... and an hour later I got the best news. Someone had found it and handed it in! Yay for honest people!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

36k - Yuk!

That's it - my new longest distance ever is completed to make up my new longest mileage for a week. 36k yesterday and 72k for the week!!

Can I say right here and now that I did not enjoy yesterday's run?! I'd had an unsettled night (Josh was not feeling great and misery loves company so I was happy to supply it) and when I woke up yesterday it was hot. Not as hot as Summer but 20 degrees is twice the temperature of last Saturday's long run. Coach Chris had drawn out a new course which involved running up the very same hill that I'd run down the previous week. And while I was running it last week I'd been thinking - 'I'm glad I don't have to run up this.'

The first 8k were pleasant enough. I had good company. But my two running companions were only going 12 and 20k respectively. I resigned myself to a long time running solo but a couple of wrong turns and double-backs left me running with another couple of friends. I had a nice 6k or so of catching up and trying to solve the problems of the world before they turned back.

The course took me along Oxford St in Bulimba. It's cafe central and the coffee machines were doing a roaring trade. The smell was so enticing. And then I ran past a bakery - yum!! It was so tempting just to call it quits, buy a coffee and a bun and catch a ferry back to our start point. But I couldn't. I had a job to do (and I'd just run past Coach Chris and he'd seemed so impressed at how I was going)

I stopped for water at the turn around point then headed back past the caffeine temptations and in the distance saw Andrew, another of our group. I caught him up but, because he'd run a 100k trail race the week before and his legs were still feeling the effect, I ran on without him.

It was getting hotter and hotter and I was wishing I'd bought water with me so I was on high-alert for any bubblers. I think I stopped at least 6 times on the way home to guzzle water. I got back to Southbank and headed over the Goodwill Bridge but knew if I headed back home at this point I'd be a little short on distance so I turned out to do a lap of the Botanical Gardens and it was here that I realised I was getting an aura. For those of you who get migraines you'll know what I mean - it's the visual disturbance which is a precursor to the most awful headache you can get. I had 6k to go, couldn't see properly and I knew what was coming.

I'd actually made it to this point pretty well but now I just wanted to give up. But giving up's not really an option if you want to get home so I just sucked it up and plodded onward. My legs had tightened up and my shoulders were so tired and tight. I felt like I was running so slowly but once again, up ahead, I saw Andrew. He hadn't done the extra loop around the gardens. I actually managed to catch and pass him despite feeling like I was running on the spot. I made it back to the start point just as the aura was receding.

I'm feeling a little ordinary today so I'm going to take it easy and rest as much as possible. Week 4 is finally over.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Exercise-Induced Dementia

Is it my age or does training for a marathon cause exercise-induced dementia? Admittedly my mind is not the steel trap that it used to be but, honestly, in the last couple of weeks there's something sinister happening up there. I'm becoming forgetful!!! Just this morning I managed to leave my grocery list behind after telling myself repeatedly to PUT IT IN THE HANDBAG. And Tuesday I forgot to get the meat out of the freezer for dinner and when I did finally remember, it wasn't there. I'd forgotten to buy it!

I'm starting to wonder if being oxygen deprived for such long periods of time is having long-term and irreversible effects. But am I going to stop what I'm doing? No way!

Just this week a strange thing has stared to happen. I'm actually feeling good. I'm feeling fitter than I have for such a long time and I'm sleeping like a baby till the alarm goes off. (that's a baby who's sleeping through the night not a colicky one that's up every couple of hours) And I'm starting to feel a little confident. I don't think I've contemplated pulling out of the marathon ALL WEEK. Such a turn-around from last week when I was thinking of it daily and sometimes every few hours.

It's just as well I'm feeling so good because Coach Chris had the hill session from hell planned today. We ran the OTHER trail - the one that finishes on the up. He took us right to the bottom and made us run repeats on the steepest bit. We got to sprint (and I use that term loosely) then do drills which just trashed my quads .. and calves ... and glutes. And then we got to sprint again (an even slower sprint than the first time) And to round off the session we got to run the 2k back up the hill. My heart rate maxed out at 186!

Recovery day tomorrow and Saturday I have my new longest-ever-run of 36k to look forward to. No doubt I will be walking like an arthritic octogenarian by Saturday afternoon. And no, I won't be doing what the lady in my picture is.