Sloshing, bonking, breaking… my first trail running experience

Given I’m training for a 46km trail marathon, good sense dictates I should get out on an actual trail at some point.

Last Sunday Railway Reserves Heritage Trail had my name all over it. Ok, well all over 25km of it.

Oh my actual fuck. Ok, that’s not how it started but that’s certainly how things ended…

1. My Garmin failed before I got out of the car. Wow. Winning so far.

2. I realised I had passed the “wear high vis” component of the run:

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3. Jeremy gave me a lesson in how to stop your water sloshing around in your hydration pack.

4. The start of the run involved one fully sick old railway tunnel #creepy #donottrip #couldntseeafuckingthing

5. I took in the scenery and realised immediately I’d fallen in love with trail running. My last long run had been through exhaust choked streets. This was a different creature all together and I fucking loved it.

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6. Ben dropped back to chat with me for a bit and while I probably could match his pace for a short I knew that if I did that I’d be out for the count 5km in and we had 25km to go. I excused myself from Ben’s cheery company.

7.  We ran 12.5km out on the non-technical track. From time to time we stopped to regroup as the slower runners (ie me) caught up. I enjoyed some quality chat from new people I’d met. So many interesting stories.

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8. We turned around and started to head back to the car. I ran most of the way with Kelly who is also training for 6 Inch. We are relatively close as far as speed goes and today was also Kelly’s longest run ever.

9. I reckon I managed about 15km comfortably before slowly slowly my body/brain started to panic. Without a garmin it was hard to know exactly how I was going, all I knew was that when we got to the toilet blocks we were 5kms from the cars. Come on toilet blocks!

10. 15-18km my knee started to hurt. I really did feel as if I’d have to stop very shortly and that I’d not be able to make it back without having my sorry arse collected by a vehicle. But I concentrated on lifting my knees higher. That was fucking hard because my legs were so goddamn heavy.

11. I don’t even know what km it was but I was wooed by Jez and Kelly with their own harmonious rendition of a song about fucking dogs…. about having carnal knowledge with dogs… It was weird to hear singing out in the bush and they weren’t too bad! I was grateful for the distraction. My body was hurting.

12. All I could think about was getting to the toilet blocks. Not because I needed them, but because they meant we were 5kms from the finish. 35mins ish until the end of the pain. Fuck me they were nowhere. I am pretty sure I whined a lot to poor Kelly who was nothing but supportive and encouraging. Kelly loves a good chat, so she talked, I whined and together we actually made it to the toilet block.

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13. Bitter sweet toilet block experience: STILL 5 WHOLE KMS FROM THE FUCKING CARS. I declared my death to be imminent. Jez reassured me that should that be the case, he had his GoPro on standby to film it. I felt hazy. I felt gross. I thought maybe that I was bonking (my favourite running word). I felt so out of it. It was a weird sensation. (I spoke with Scott about this later, he thinks maybe I was thinking I was bonking when I actually wasn’t, I just thought I was…I have no idea what to make of a psychosomatic bonk.)

14. At about 21.1kms Kelly mentioned that I was now running in uncharted territory – further than I’d ever run before. I can’t remember if I felt happy at that point? Maybe. It is pretty awesome to run further than a half marathon in one morning. I think Kelly’s longest distance was 22km…we celebrated her longest run ever too….

15. My body was starting to fail. I had pain where I have never had pain before. My right hip/groin was fucked. Ouch. My feet felt swollen and they fucking hurrrrrrt. I’d proudly maintained a mid foot strike for the distance but I’d had enough. Too bad for me we still had 3km to go.

16. We walked a bit, ran a bit, walked a bit more, ran a bit more. I didn’t know if Kelly was hurting as much as me but she seemed happy to stay with me. Did she need to walk too? I dunno but at that stage I was more than happy to declare myself Queen of Whiny Land and just fucking stop, walk, carry on about all sorts of paaaaaaaain….

17. 24km. We ran the last km.

18. We finished 25 whole kilometres. Oh my actual fuck. I had no words. My body was screaming and I wanted to just lie down. But the rest of the group was there, and the phrase “fake it til you make it” came to mind. I attempted a casual stroll to the group, “yeah hey guys, totes just ran 25kms, but whatevs… anyone keen for another lap?” kinda thing… It started to rain, we took a photo of all the people who’d conquered their longest run that morning:

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19. Got in the car and I declared I was absolutely fucked. Broken. That it was very, very fucking hard. To which Jeremy replied “Yeah but you finished it”. Yanno what? I fucking did.

19. Car. Bakery. Chat. Home. Couch. Movies. Wrecked.

Can’t rate Kelly and Jez highly enough. I am thrilled they’re likely to be close by at 6 Inch. They are so good for the soul. So good for the broken running spirit. They dragged me across the line on Sunday.

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I am super proud of what I achieved on Sunday. And even more stoked that my body bounced back without any issues within 2 days. Fucking go me!

How to recover when you’re going fucking crazy

I lost my running mojo on Saturday. Short story: I ran 17km home from work the day after interval day. Cue epic muscle fatigue that kept me up all night and consequent brain collapse.

I could not run on Saturday.

I could not run Sunday morning.

I hauled out for a 7km run on Sunday arvo and it hurt my body and my head.

My mental fitness copped a beating. If I couldn’t cope after a 17km long run in the cooler weather, there’s no fucking way I’d get anywhere near the start line for 6 Inch. I dissolved into a gooey, miserable mess and my mood got darker and darker. By Monday night I was legitimately feeling anxious, depressed and overwhelmed. Running mojo: gone. Life mojo: gone. Fuck.

Another contributory factor to the bleakness was the imminent loss of my adopted coach Scott. He is leaving for the UK on Thursday. I am so happy that he is going to be with his partner. He needs to be over there. But when he steps on that plane, my motivator, my “I can come out for a run with you” guy, my “I know you can make it” guy, my “let’s push you a little bit harder” guy will be gone. Yes I know he will be available online. But I know I’m not the only one who’s going to miss his bouncy enthusiasm at parkrun each Saturday morning.

I hit rock bottom on Monday night. I could not think properly. I felt like I might shatter into a thousand pieces. I was afraid.

On Tuesday I had to do something.

I reached out in every way I knew how.

I emailed close friends for support. They replied instantly, offering shelter from the storm. I reached out to my running club saying I was sorry for being so absent but letting them know I was here. They confirmed that it was ok, that I belonged, and offered some wisdom for coping (thanks Pete). I talked to my husband who doesn’t “get it” when I get anxious, but he hugged me tight and just listened to his batshit crazy wife, again. I resolved to go running. I did not want to go. But I forced myself to get dressed and go to darkrun where I knew I would see so many people who I love to run with, love to chat with. As soon as I saw Dan and flipped him the bird as I parked, I knew the night was going to be ok. I ran 6.5km. I felt lighter. It felt easier. Everything felt better. Scott was there. Michelle was there. Cordelia was there. Ben and Alicia were there. Jeremy and Kelly were there. Kate. Salena. So many people. Without even knowing it they all added to my happiness. Each of them, little bit by little bit.

Afterwards a few of us went out for a beer to say seeya to Scott. Scott presented me with his official 6 Inch map from last year. Together we poured over it and Jeremy and Kelly told story after story about the race last year. The pain. The joy. The “I want to die” moments. I haven’t laughed so hard for ages. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the race, I started to feel much better about it. Dread turned to enthusiasm. I think even Cordelia was tempted to sign up next year!

I broke the back of my depressed state last night. I slept well. I have been positive all day at work. I have my running mojo back. I have my life mojo back. Thank fuck for that. No – thank fuck for all the good people in my life. So many interlocking parts, each one holding me up when I could not stand by myself.  Act. Belong. Commit. JFDI.

 

The goddamn mental game #fuckthegrind

The mental game. I failed it yesterday.

As I push new boundaries I’m learning a whole lot about what my body can and cannot do. But the process is a shitty one. Yesterday is an excellent example. Wait, let me go back to the night before. At 10pm on Tuesday night 19 more places were opened for 6 Inch. I got way too excited and bought a spot. Didn’t even think it through just fucking did it whilst enjoying the FB applause of fellow entrants. There. It was done.

Fast forward to 4pm the next day. Scott had agreed to come for a 15km run with me. In the fine print I missed the part where that meant Scott was going to run my arse up and down a million fucking hills for 2 hours:

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Each peak on that goddamn graph is the top of an incline. Total elevation gained: 163m. I know nothing about whether or not that’s a lot, but Scott says it is so I’ll go with that.

Running hills is fucked. It’s slow. It’s hard. And it takes even longer to knock out the distance you’re going for. Perhaps it is the mental anguish of a novice runner that’s causing my negative mental state. All I kept thinking was “fuck me, another fucking hill and I’m so fucking fucked and I’ve only run 2.7 fucking kilometres fuck fuck fuck“…. that interchangeably with “fuck you Scott…” By 4km my feet were burning. Dunno if that was because of my socks or too much downward pressure running down all those steep inclines? Either way, my feet hurt and that made me inherently unhappy.

About 5km – slight knee niggles promoted thoughts of “Oh I’ll tell Scott I have to stop at 10km because of my knee”

9km – walk break. Goddammit that felt good. 5 whole minutes of not having to tryyyyyyyy. Not having to fucking push myself. Laughable really considering I was only doing 6:30 pace….

12km (or thereabouts, can’t fully remember because I was being crowned Queen of Struggle Town) another epic hill and a new body pain. Right achilles just for something different. And twinge in left calf.

14km I had some of Scott’s water/gel mix. I think it made me feel a bit better but that small life raft of hope was smashed to pieces by the horrendous thought waves of “omg I hope that does not upset my stomach in a I’m-about-to-shit-my-pants kinda way”. It really is incredible how that fear can override all other thoughts. You get a moment of clarity when you know that should it be required, you could do a full 1200m sprint to the toilet block up ahead. Thank god I did not need to do that.

16km cool down walk.

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A dark sky to match my mood

Yesterday all I could think about was how hard running was. How everything fucking hurt. How NEW things fucking hurt. It wasn’t worth it. It couldn’t do it anymore. I was defeated. Surely it shouldn’t hurt like this? Surely it shouldn’t be so goddamn hard? I was so slow. I felt weak. There was no runner’s high yesterday. The confusion and the fatigue lingers still.

Post run I whined to Scott about all my hardship. All my frustrations. He told me that I had only taken the negative out of the day. He asked me to see it from another angle – he said:

“you’re looking at the wrong aspects… look at the positives:

you were sleep deprived,
didn’t have the best fuelling strategy,
ran faster than you wanted,
ran elevations more than you wanted,
AND FINISHED!”

Again. He is right. Why can’t I see what he sees? Why do I feel so flat about yesterday? I think it might be because I have this unrealistic expectation that each run will be hard but satisfying. That each run I will feel stronger, I will conquer another training session, and while it may be difficult, I will feel all the better for it. It’s like so many things in life though (parenting, studying, LIFE in general) you have this expectation that is driven by what? Social media? Advertising? An unusual perception that real runners exercise hard, run hard and gain hard every time they go out.

I chatted with a few friends late last night who confirmed that after long runs, after hill sprints, after a huge effort their bodies hurt. They sometimes cannot sleep properly for the fatigue, for the ache, for the worrying if they’ve overdone it. They feel twinges each time they run. Not every run is going to fill me with a runner’s high and my own mental pat on the back for being awesome. Sounds funny, but I was so down about last night I couldn’t even be bothered to share it on my FB page. Mental huh. I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to think about it.

For the first time ever, I put my runners on this morning and I didn’t like them on my feet. I’d talked to Scott about my plan for parkrun on Saturday and still I don’t even want to run it. It’s only 5km. I don’t want to do it.

Every time I run with Scott I learn something new. Yes, I learn about shoes, and socks, and hydration, and protein shakes and beer and what each of us might like to do if we could afford to live in Applecross… but each time I learn something about myself. Sometimes it’s that I’m capable of amazing running, other times it’s that I can push beyond a limit I thought I had. Last night I learnt that for long runs I always take the easy option. Always. I run flat and I impress myself with my own awesomeness of “long runs”. Last night I learnt that I’m a whiny princess who hates hills and hates running when it’s not “easy”. Fuck. The mental game beat me yesterday. But I’m gunna give it another go.

Fancy a half marathon? Don’t mind if I do

Yesterday my friend Scott clocked up his two thousandth kilometre for 2014. TWO. THOUSAND. KILOMETRES. That’s a bullshit amount of running. I was inspired.

At 3pm I told my husband I was going for a run and took off out the door. He did not know what I had in mind. He thought I might do 5km, maybe 10km. I’ve not run a serious distance since forever. Here’s how it went:

  1. I decided I’d run to Nat’s place about 8km away. I reasoned that I would run at least 9km and then turn around and come home. The further I ran from my house, the further I had to run back.
  2. About 3km in my knee started to ache a bit. It continued for about 2 more kms and I thought “oh no…. I’m gunna have to call it quits! I can’t fucking believe it – I’ve not been heel striking at all waaaaaaahhhh”
  3. I started to lift my knees slightly higher – got a bit of “prancing pony” happening and my knee pain stopped. *Shrug*. Maybe it just needed to warm up?
  4. Fast forward to the 7km mark – I got swooped by one huge arse magpie! Fucking hell I actually heard a “CHOMP” noise at my ear and I turned my head to see a big fucking bird in full battle armour ready to take my arse down to the curb. Holy shit! He missed my face by centimetres and I gave the oncoming traffic a fabulous arm flapping dance/sprint demonstration.
  5. Following my “I nearly got eaten by a magpie” terror inspired interval I cruised around to Nat’s place. Alas, she was not at home. I snuck a drink from her front garden hose and then turned around to come home.
  6. I thought about trying to avoid the magpie territory. Then I thought about how non-amazing my sense of direction is and realised I had no choice really but to follow the same streets home lest I be lost in the Thornlie slums forever.
  7. I came up to the same street. I crossed the road (really Didi? You think he can’t just fly over and kill you from the other side of the road?) It’s really hard to run while you’re trying to look up and behind you. Like, really hard. Like, almost fall on your arse because you trip over kind of hard….
  8. Survived magpie territory.
  9. About the 14km mark started to get chafing under my right arm. Same place as always. Thought it might be my bra. Turns out it’s probably just my arm rubbing for too long against my side. Must use bodyglide next time. Unsure yet if “lubing” before a run will be fun or not, all I know is that chafing is absolute balls.
  10. About 15km I was running pretty slowly. I use the term “running” quite loosely because I’m not sure anything slower than a 7:50 pace is actually “running” rather, very fast bouncy walking really. It’s hard to tell how fast I ran each km because I did stop here and there for water and for traffic. That’s a problem running in the burbs… fucking traffic.
  11. I learnt that Thornlie shits all over South Perth as far as water fountains goes. I kept finding them on the side of ovals, along the footpath, at Nat’s place – awesome. Sure I have no doubt many a youth has probably pissed in these at one time or another, but I let the water run for a little while and didn’t put my mouth on the spout or anything… One even sported some edgy artwork #graffiti #cocknballs
  12. About 16km I was tired. But at that point I knew I’d finish the 21.1km. A whole half marathon. Yep – a whole half. I wanted to see if I could do it again. Haven’t run more than 14km in a whole year. I wanted it badly, and not just for me.
  13. About 16.1km my legs decided they hated me. While I had zero pain in my knee (ftw) the anguish going on in my shoes was picking up a level. New mid foot strike = serious caning of the balls of my feet which was… balls… I felt like I was running in bare feet, Mr Mizuno was offering no comfort whatsoever.
  14. I enjoyed a second “terror interval” after being swooped by a second fucking magpie! OMFG just fuck off already, at 17km I don’t need no fucking heart attack, I’m not trying to attack your fucking babies…. jesus…
  15. 18km and everything hurt. Feet. Calves. Shoulders (Shoulders?). I actually felt a little bit woozy at one point. I had moved from “Oh, I’m gunna make it” to “Aw man I’m going to have to call for help shortly”… I honestly felt like the pain in my body had surpassed ordinary and was well on its way to consuming my consciousness. That sounds a bit dramatic. But at that time I could not recall ever feeling so queer. Perhaps this was “the wall”? I dunno. I hated it. I needed to get home.
  16. I started to lose my shit. I was actually singing out loud. I couldn’t give one flying fuck whether or not anyone could hear me. It was either my bad singing, or actual whimpering. Those were my choices. I think I interchanged both over the last 5km.
  17. At 19.5km (give or take) I literally stopped to smell the roses. I needed to break the pain receptors in my head. By inhaling a strong smell you can redirect your senses temporarily to that sensation instead of the “Fuck me my legs are about to collapse” sensation. True story. It worked. For about 15 seconds. I was tempted to yank off a rose and snort the damn thing while I ran.
  18. Prayed my Garmin would not die. Please Garmin. Please hold on. I can’t believe I had to urge my electronic device not to give up.
  19. I couldn’t believe the 20th km got me to my front door. NOOOOOOO!!! I had to run up and down my fucking street to get the final 1100m in. My neighbours probably think I’m a dickhead. Whatever – I’m a dickhead who just ran a half marathon bitches. The final song blaring into my headphones was Rise Against’s “I don’t wanna be here any more”. Google it and laugh your head off. Nope. Didn’t want to be there anymore. No fucking more. I wanted to go home.
  20. I did it.

I happy snapped a rainbow. I smelt the roses. I got in touch with nature (ok nature took it upon itself to get in touch with me). I finished the damn distance. I felt horrendous. I thought I might vomit. This was not due to over exertion. This was due to not eating nearly enough food before the run. My body was empty. I crawled in the door. I announced I’d just ran a half marathon. Surprised husband thought I’d done 5km and had been at my sister’s having a cuppa. He was astounded. I plunged my legs into our freezing pool for 10 minutes then limped to the bathroom to squeeze on my compression socks. I had to stay on the floor for a fair while. Legs had given it up finally.

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Bragged on FB. Got snaps from running buddies. Ate epic takeout. Decided it was time to run a half marathon again in 2 weeks. Can’t wait.

The End.

Parkrun puddles

This morning I wrested myself out of the clutches of my slumbering 4 year old and got ready for parkrun. 30 seconds before I walked out the door I noticed the brooding black clouds outside. Ohhhhhhh….. *shrug*…… Arrive at Canning River at 7:30am for a warm up. 7:31 cue epic downpour. I sat in the car and watched all the gallant volunteers donning their high vis vests as the heavens opened and spewed out their cold wet guts. It was tempting to bail out and drive home. But why? Because I didn’t want to get wet? Pfffft…. if I didn’t run now then I’d have to run later and it was going to rain a lot of the day. Fuck it. Plus my friend Scott was waiting for me, having run 5 wet kilometres already. His “it’s only water” attitude meant he wasn’t going to be accepting any excuses this morning!

I bounced out of the car and did a 1km warm up, a few stretches and high knees and I was ready to go. Race director makes appropriate joke about parkrun being a new triathlon training event and then we were off. I didn’t even wear my glasses (no point) so all I could do was chase my pacer bunny Scott round the course. First km at tempo, increase to threshold pace by the third km, brief rest and repeat. Ok so TRC told me that based on my 5km PB time my tempo pace is 5:43 and threshold pace is 5:18. I’d decided those paces sounded too pissweak, so Scott paced me at 5:30 then 5:15 and 5:00….

I coped ok with the first 3km – splits – 5:20, 5:11 and 4:52. We stopped for about 2 minutes and headed off again. This is where I got a little bit whiny… Scott got a little bit “c’mon c’mon c’mon” as I slipped behind a little bit. Mentally I struggled a little bit after I’d stopped. I sheltered from the headwind behind Scott and tried to keep up, but kept slowing down. I stopped during the 5th km just for a few seconds to stretch out my calves. I felt like my mid foot strike was ok, form perhaps struggling a bit but I had no knee pain at all. Scott said a good way to gauge too much vertical bounce is how my necklace bounces around my neck. Bend my knees slightly more and voila, no more bounce. But it’s fucking harrrrrrrrd to do that consistently… *whine* *whine*… But as my new form becomes easier, I don’t have to concentrate so bloody hard on that so I can focus on other little things. Pump arms. Don’t bounce up and down. Lift knees a bit more. Smile for camera.

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Finished the 5km parkrun, dashed through the finish line, snapped up a barcode and kept going. Oh for the love of running – only one 5 minute km to go. We walked 170m across to the start line again (ok so I was watching my Garmin counting every 10m) and took off. Just. One. More. Kilometre (of which I’d already walked 170m). I kept looking down at my Garmin, desperate to know how many more metres I had left at that horrendous pace. Scott kept telling me the watch had nothing for me, and to stop looking at it, it couldn’t help me… Finally clicked over the last 100m, I could have cried. Actually I think I did cry a little bit on the inside when I realised that Scott wasn’t counting that fucking precious 170m walk across the car park. Oh no. Then it was “ok give it everything you’ve got”. Oh you’ve got to be fucking kidding me… Scott no… I pushed my legs as fast as they would go, I thought my lungs were going to burst, but Scott gave no indication of ending the sprint. Really? Any second and I was going to keel over. Finally he said we’d finish up at the bottom of the slope (which to me looked like another 400m away, it was more like 100m away)… I didn’t think I could make it…. Scott urged me to run faster –  oh sweet baby Jesus I had nothing left…. I flogged it down the slope and stopped dead. Lungs heaving. Legs screaming. Scott smiling. Well… I’d done it…. (ok small stop but I managed 98% of what we’d planned to do). Pacer/coach Scott gave me a minute to compose myself to fend off the retching and the hating and we jogged back to the start.

8km done. I am so grateful that Scott enjoys hauling my whiny arse around parkrun on a regular basis, making my runs count and each time helping me believe in myself that little bit more. Thanks Scott – got a PB with my name on it in a couple of weeks :)

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TRC Spring Speed Course: Session 4

Last night I was back at the WA Athletics Centre (aka the huge stadium) for another interval session. Last week was a bit underwhelming. This week was much better. Coach Ben was back!

First we headed out for a warm up run. Oh yay…. another warm up run. Turns out last week the regulars went the extra long way (ie 3.5km warm up) when this week we only did 2.5km. That being said – it was 2.5km at a 5:30 pace. Seriously. Guys. What the actual fuck? I fell behind again at my 6:20 pace. As we turned around the last part of the oval it dawned on me that we’d started the run at a slightly different place so that meant we’d finish at that spot – omg I wasn’t paying proper attention at where we came out from the stadium! Heart palpitations set in. I was going to get lost for a second time. Not only because I was left behind again, but because I was not aware of my surroundings enough to remember where the hell we’d started. It seems dumb I know. Isn’t the stadium like right there? Can’t you see it? The answer is no. You can’t see it properly and there are other buildings and car parks and well goddammit it’s confusing. So yes. There I was. All alone. Again. Wondering where to go this time. FML right! I just took a punt and headed up a pathway and hurrah I was right. God, too much thinking involved for a warm up run!

WAAC selfie

WAAC selfie

After the warm up exercises we did 3 x 400m increasing pace with each lap. After that we did 200m “sprint” or 90% pace and 200m recovery jog for 1600m. We did that twice with a 3 minute rest in between. Not even kidding at one point my “recovery run” was a 8:15 pace shuffle. My calves were so sore it was all I could manage! I didn’t mind though. Was I the slowest? Absolutely. Did I actually get lapped? Yep. It was ok. When I got lapped the first time a guy from the group actually said “great work mate” as he ran past. It’s funny how little teeny weeny things like that can make you happy. Here’s this guy who’s pretty quick, acknowledging my efforts. Actually acknowledging that I’m part of the group and encouraging me to keep going. He probably didn’t think much of it. But it made me smile. And it made me run a little bit faster at the next sprint.

Ever the victim of technology indulgence myself it was amusing to see Ben on his phone during the session. Yeah, I know it’s boring watching people go round in circles, but you don’t have to be so obvious! That being said, he was nice enough to watch me as a sprinted past – offering encouragement. Actually, that’s his job so……..

While my calves were tight and sore (not unbearably so) I did manage the whole session comfortably and most importantly had no knee pain. I didn’t even tape my knee last night! Pretty stoked with that.

Steady progress and more parkrun love

Saturday is parkrun day. It is without a doubt my favourite day to run and today was no exception.

My TRC course book called for a “5km time trial”. I opted to give it a go at parkrun instead. I know the course. I love the people. In the end, having only recently changed my running form in quite a dramatic way, my calves only let me run (with good form) for 2km before packing it in. Yanno what? I wasn’t even bummed about it. My “time trial” would have to wait. Or, let’s go with officially 39:34. That’s how long it took me to complete 5km with my best form and some walking. Knowing that the pain is for the most part “transitional pain” as my calves take more load, I’m completely happy with how today panned out. My friend Aimee (aka Slow Little Runner) kept me company for the final 3kms which I was grateful for. Scott kept an eye on my form as he passed me, and confirmed that I was up on my toes a little bit too much as I had suspected.

Fiiiiiiiinally my friend Ryan made it down to parkrun. Ok he’s a friend of Sam’s but he’s a super runner and a super nice guy. He was trying for a SUB 20 PB!!! He only just missed it too. I had a chat with him afterwards and it was really great to welcome him to our parkrun community. I introduced him to my friends and they all got chatting pretty easily and I saw this photo taken today and I just loved it:

Andrew welcoming Ryan to his first Canning parkrun

Andrew welcoming Ryan to his first Canning parkrun

Parkrun is such a wonderful community, and everyone is welcome. Even though Ryan only just missed his PB (He ran a cracking 20:30 ish time) I know he’ll be back to try again soon. You know the course now mate – smash it out! Michelle only just missed her PB time as well – I know she’ll crack it soon!

And while there was no impressive PB for me today – I did have a giggle at my pic this week:

Ahoy matie! Pirate's dream ahead....

Ahoy matie! Pirate’s dream ahead….

That’s me in the black singlet. I know it might be confusing, but yes I am in fact a girl despite the fact I have the physique of a 14 year old boy. All I can say is, at least I don’t have to worry about trying to secure a large bosom when I want to run – that’s gotta count for something right? Right? FML.

TRC Spring Speed Course: Session #2

Following from Tuesday night’s false start, I was a little bit apprehensive about Thursday night’s session. Would people be nice tonight? I hoped so!

I understand that co-ordinating groups of people can be difficult, but I think a little bit more communication to everyone would be handy. For example, the course book says to meet at TRC on Hay Street, which is what I did. When I got there, some of the group mentioned that you could actually meet in Kings Park (where we were running to) which is somewhat handy to know as I’d just paid my $2.10 for 30 minutes parking until 6pm and realised I’d have to run back to my car at the end of the session.

Fast forward 1.5km warm up jog into Kings Park we met up with the rest of the group. Unlike Tuesday one runner had been asked to lag behind to ensure all of us made it to the right spot. Nifty idea huh! Imagine leaving someone behind! That would be incredibly inconsiderate *winky face*

Even though the Tuesday session was meant to be the start of the 6 week course, Thursday was closer to the mark in that Alex went around the group, had everyone introduce themselves and say what they hoped to achieve from the course. He set the intervals:

6 x 300m intervals up a bit of a hill – walk back down recovery.

Didn’t seem like much. But there was a varied skill range within the group (unlike Tuesday where there was 11 elite runners, then me haha). Also, turns out once you are a super runner you can lose the ability to communicate and be friendly to new people. So surrounded by non-elite runners I actually struck up a convo with about 10 different people – all of them had a different story to tell. One girl won a trip to the US to run the Houston Marathon in January! Magnificent! Another lady had not run further than 2km and was focussing on her fitness.

I managed to push myself to run pretty quick up the hill. Tragically my garmin took some personal leave at 5:24pm (the time that was frozen onto the face) and I had to run “naked”. FFS. So, I dunno how fast I clocked each interval, but I do know that I made myself run as hard as I could, holding good form, making sure I gave it all I had each time. Didn’t spew, but hey, Sam says it’s not about spewing all the time (I tend to disagree with her, if you don’t spew or at least feel like heaving your guts up, you haven’t gone hard enough IMO). Finished up the 6 reps, and Alex walked through a stretch at the end and some good balance/core exercises. After noting the mozzies at Tuesday’s session, clever clogs here had slathered on the insect repellant prior to the session. At first I worried about walking into the group smelling like a camping enthusiast, but seriously I just shrugged to myself and laid it on thick. If people don’t like the girl who smells a little “tropical” well fuck…. Turns out it was a good choice – mozzies luuuuurve people who are standing still on one leg trying to touch their toes…

So, end of the course we had the 1.5km jog back to Hay Street to get my car. One group member was walking, and the rest of the group jogged ahead. Ever mindful of my own experience I opted to walk with her instead of leaving her to walk alone. Gallant move by me I know, but I swiftly realised that we were both in a bit of a shit situation. Two women, walking, in very dark Kings Park. Hooray. Again, if someone had communicated to me that you can park in Kings Park instead so you don’t have to run home in the dark when it’s a bit rapey, well, that kind of information would have been a bit handy. As it turned out, a member of the group lagged behind (same girl as before) to “pick us up” and make sure we found our way back safely. Coach Alex had asked her to do that. I wonder if I set a glorious new precedent on Tuesday… what a legend I am. See how I help humanity? ;)

So, Thursday’s group was a lot more friendly, and a lot more like what I was expecting from TRC. Thankfully! The Tuesday group will remain much the same I think, but it’s the only session I can get to, so I’ll just make the most of it. Plus Alex was filling in for Ben this week, so perhaps next week will feel a bit more structured and a bit more like a course I’ve paid $189 for rather than a “I think we’ll do this interval session today…. yeah sounds about right” kind of thing.

No lovely photos of Kings Park to include in this post as I left all my gear at the shop so I didn’t have to run with it.

I suffered some serious delayed onset muscle soreness in my calves all week as Marc predicted. I’m hoping it’s a transitional kind of pain rather than a “Oh you’ve fixed your knee pain but here have some calf pain instead” kind of pain. I am currently not speaking to my foam roller…. stupid jerk painful thing it is.

First Interval Session at TRC Spring Speed Course

Tonight’s session was great in terms of personal accomplishment.

It went a little something like this:

1. Arrived at the WA Athletics Centre on time. Took mandatory blog photo:

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2. Spent 5 minutes trying to locate the TRC group amongst a lot of groups of other athletes. Some were wandering around with spikes on, some had long poles (that wasn’t my group) and there were lots of athletic looking people sprinting/jumping/hopping/hammering a tire with a huge mallet…

3. Located my group by finally asking someone if this was the TRC group. There were 12 of us in total. One older woman introduced herself and asked me if I was new, and then took me to meet coach Alex. She was very nice. Alex was also very nice.

4. Alex congratulated one group member on her sub 40 10km PB over the weekend. Oh… so there were some super speedies here!

5. I had already reconciled the fact that I was going to be snail slow compared to everyone else and I was totally ready for that. What I was not ready for was the lukewarm reception I got. Now, I get it. All the other ladies (one bloke) all knew each other. They were TRC regulars and this was a training gathering, not a social gathering. Ok. That’s ok. At 31 I can totally deal with that. But what I couldn’t understand was why the fuck people can’t just be nice to a new face? Don’t people realise how hard it can be to start in a new group?

6. We were to go out of the stadium and around the buildings/ovals for a warm up run “at our own pace”. Unfortunately for me, my warm up pace is 6:30 ish. Their warm up pace was nudging 5:30 pace. Ok that’s ok. I can just toddle behind them. The woman who was friendly to me wasn’t running this warm up for some reason. I came up the last turn after the oval and fuck me the group was gone. We had come up the buildings from behind into a car park I’d not seen before. Basically, friends, I was totally fucking lost. I couldn’t believe it! There were 3 possible ways they could have gone and nothing looked familiar. I very nearly cried right there. Fucking hell really? They left me behind? All right, I get it. I am not their responsibility. I’m a big girl, I should be able to figure it out myself. I stood in the car park like a fuckwit for a good 15 minutes before taking a punt and choosing one road – found the stadium! I can’t believe it. I lost a fucking stadium… what an idiot.

7. Having located my lost stadium I joined up with the group again, slightly red faced. Bet they’ve never lost a runner before!

8. Did 400m then 1 min rest x 4. Repeat twice.

9. Alex had initially said run at between your 5 and 10km pace (for me that’s about 5:20 ish) but it felt way too slow. I coped just fine with about 4:40 pace for each 400m lap.

10. Yes I was the slowest. By far. But the good thing about being the slowest is that Alex gets to check out my form as I go past alone, I’m not in a pack of people. I also rest while the rest of the group is out on their next lap, so I get Alex all to myself to ask questions and get some feedback. This is most excellent. This is exactly what I need.

Summary: Tonight felt fantastic (apart from being left behind) and I can’t wait to run on Thursday. My calves are already killing me but that means they are WORKING FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER and

NO KNEE PAIN WHATSOEVER #ftw

 

What Marc See Sees

Basically I went to see physio Marc this morning for some sympathetic hand holding and reassurance that my knee was ok and that I’d be able to tackle the 6 week speed course just fine.

Marc was very encouraging. He put me on the treadmill to see how my form had improved with practice. Here’s what I learnt:

  1. The “pain” that’s been plaguing me the past week after an interval session is largely in my head. My brain is anticipating pain and so it generates pain in my knee #psychosomatic #maybejustabitpsycho
  2. I have improved my form out of sight. At my biomechanic analysis I had a bad heel strike. This time around I barely had a heel strike at all. Still not quite getting the mid foot strike that I’m working towards, but a marked improvement.
  3. I need to focus on tilting my pelvis upwards a little bit (like you would when you do a plank). That will also assist in “unloading” my knee.
  4. It’s fucking hard to concentrate on lots of different things whilst on a moving machine. I almost fell off the damn thing.
  5. I most likely don’t need orthotics. This is because the pain in my knee is caused by a heel strike, and orthotics work when your weight is fully on your foot (eg to fix pronation issues). I don’t have any pronation issues so when my weight is on my foot, everything is fine.
  6. My legs look amazing in my purple New Balance running shorts. Especially in slow motion. The shorts ride high up my thigh and you get a glimpse of all that amazing quad action.

I was having mini anxiety over starting the course today. Basically if I can’t run, I will not cope with life at all. So I’ve been readying myself for a disaster tonight and then slumping into fits of depression over what may happen.

Mark has reassured me that tonight will be fine. Not to think about it too much and not to push for a PB. I whined about pain during longer distances. He said “you’re not doing longer distances,  you’re doing intervals,  which means you can concentrate on your form for 30 seconds – 2 mins at a time.” Basically he’s telling me: Baby steps. Baby running steps. Focus on the shorter distances, getting the form right, and the longer distances will come. I think I remember him saying that from the get go. In fact, more than one running friend has told me this… Goddammit….

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I whined that maybe my knee would always hurt. He told me that my brain will respond differently to my knee as I “unload” it and the pain should improve. I also asked him why I get shin splints when I wear compression socks when I run. Short answer: I don’t need the socks because my shin muscles and calves are doing hardly any work and until I start loading them properly and making them do their fair share I’m ok without them. Ohhhhh…. so only runners with good form need them. Goddammit again!!!

I took a deep breath and asked him casually about what did he think my chances were for completing some trail marathon at the end of the year. His reply: “6 inch?” … dammit… this guy’s all over it hahaha… but in all seriousness he said to see if I could make it through the 6 week TRC speed course and then we’d talk about it. I’ll take that as a small win right now! He said walking was fine to do (except it’s fucking boring) and that I was welcome to throw myself up and down Mount Street whenever I like. As long as the exercise is not a knee loading one like stairs or running downhill.

I did take my family out to Serpentine Falls over the weekend and I walked 2km of trails with them. I woke up the next day with sore calves and sore glutes! Ouch! I didn’t think I’d worked that hard!

Serpentine Falls

Serpentine Falls