WAMC Rottnest Marathon 2016

After I wrote this post I asked Jeremy to add to it. You can see his comments in bold….

A couple of months ago my running buddies Kelly and Jeremy got me to commit to running the Rotto Marathon. I entered on a whim (and they booked my ticket on the ferry so there was no backing out) and there you go – second marathon coming up… Training for the next few months has been negligible, a handful of really decent long runs, and a few tempo runs and lots of parkruns. Nothing structured. I just went with the flow that my family and work life allowed.

The night before race day, I asked Jeremy to confirm if he wanted to run the whole way together, or if I should pack my headphones and catch him at the finish. Short answer was “Don’t leave me”. Roger that.

 (I hadn’t told Didi this, but I had spent a fair part of the day before the marathon in a really dark place. I was just coming to terms with the level of anxiety that I had been feeling in the previous week, I knew the marathon was going to hurt and it was going to be ugly. It was just going to be how much it hurt and how ugly would it be? So the thought of being out there on my own was terrifying!)

This year was the first year the Rotto Marathon had arranged a morning ferry for the runners so we didn’t have to book accommodation. J & K collected me at the ungodly hour of 5am and as I smooshed myself into their car Jez laughed loudly at Didi not being a morning person. No shit. Fuck off.

 (I don’t sleep very well the night before a big adventure, especially when I have to get up at dumbarse o’clock. One of my anxiety issues is being late for a plane or in this case, ferry. Combine this with my neighbours hitting the piss from late afternoon made for bad start. If I had the chance, I would have fired up the lawnmower first thing Sunday morning to get back at them. This was not an option.)

rotto1Waiting for the ferry was fun. There were swarms of people in activewear or with “my spouse made me support him/her at arse o’clock” faces. There was slight hustle to get on the right ferry as we were told that one ferry had broken down earlier omg. Once we were settled on board and wedged between people who were taping feet, scoffing bananas, liberally sloshing sunblock on and comparing visors, we were away. The captain announced over the loudspeaker that he’d be gunning it for the island as we were running late. Lawd we made it in about 20 minutes.

 

At the jetty there was a sea of lime green volunteers urging us to the start line, and runners legged it about 200m to join the throng of activity at the settlement. It was all stations go and I was impressed with the set up. What a huge event to pull together and the vollies were everywhere!! So good. As we waited I was really excited. Scott had come over as support crew and was taking some happy snaps. There was nervous energy. There was warm appreciation of the 4 dutch milk maids (ie men in dresses) who joined the starters. That fabric didn’t look very breathable to me. Good luck to them!

About now I took notice of Jeremy who was with me. He looked calm. He smiled for my photos. I knew he wasn’t calm inside. I knew he was anxious AF. I wasn’t anxious at all. I figured we’d kick things off and just roll with the punches. There was no pressure for me. There was no expectation of myself except to finish. It was nothing like before the Perth Marathon. This time I was excited to get going. (ok I did have some nerves over whether or not I could actually stay with J for the whole time, whether or not I could keep up with him…ah well, no point worrying about it now!). The start was delayed a second time; held up by the third ferry that had finally docked and its marathon passengers were turfed out on the jetty with instructions to start their warm up on the way to the start line and be prepared to launch into their marathon in the next 2 minutes. The bagpiper played. The RD called the start and we were away. Hiya hooooo!!!! [Might Eagle battle cry from Angry Birds – google it].

 

 (Somehow I managed to misplace Didi at the start line. I got distracted talking to a couple of WA Ultra marathon legends, Paul Joyce and Rob Freitag who I’ve met at different events, Rob was backing up his second place at the WTF with a casual marathon. That’s not bad for a guy who 110k into a 160k race claimed that he wasn’t “a real runner”. I made it my job to correct him on this. Once I found my running buddy, all was good again”.)

The course took us for a cheeky 5km out and back before sweeping into the 9.5km loop that would almost send J and I loopy. There was a helicopter filming the start. I felt like both a celebrity and a criminal – weird. About 3 minutes into the race I realised belatedly that I know very little about “island temperatures” vs “mainland temperatures” and that lack of understanding was apparently shared by the few people I’d asked. For the record, if someone tells you 30 on the mainland will be a “perfect marathon temp” 22 on Rottnest punch them in the crotch because they are lying to you. [Ok quick edit to this – apparently it WAS 22 on Rotto but there was no wind so being out there on the course so in full sun with the heat being reflected off the road it felt hotter (that is the understatement of the century)]

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Baked…

5 minutes into the race I was so grateful for 2 things:

1.     sunblock, and

2.     Scott and I going through a hydration strategy the day before. Fuck was I gunna need water before I needed water.

Thankfully, the water stations were 2.5km apart. That was glorious. They served to be not only much needed hydration stations manned by awesome army cadets, but vital course markers for us.
So we locked down the first 5km and headed out for our “warm up lap”. Just one warm up lap, a quick half marathon then a victory lap. Righto then.

 (We started getting passed by the fast half marathon runners just as they were turning on their shorter out n back. It’s not often that I get to cheer on these people as they pass me, but at Rotto, that was part of the fun. I saw so many parkrunners that I knew and could cheer on with high 5’s, and some who clearly knew me even though I didn’t know them. We ran out of the settlement and towards the once was a cave, now it’s a lake that has a wind powered electrical generator next to it. I asked Didi if she thought the windmill was a music lover. Didi looked less than pleased and suggested that she was going to hear that joke at least three more times. It was hard to convince her otherwise.)

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I was just following Jeremy. He was disliking the heat as much as me. I’ve run enough with Jeremy to know he’s not a complainer. He’s run enough with me to know that I am the biggest complainer. Rich had told me the course only had one hill (yes yes, I didn’t check ok) and J said the whole marathon had less elevation than the City to Surf half. So – we’d slog up one big hill 4 times yeah? That wouldn’t be so bad. Totally doable. So when the hills repeated on us continuously like a bad laksa, the swears came thick and fast from me. Basically they start when I see the hill “Aw man another fucking hill”, then as we start the climb and the legs start to bite “Gah fuck this hill” and then when almost at the summit “FFFFFFFFUUUUUUCCCCKKKK THIIIIISSSSS” and finally, the descent “Jesus that hill was shit”…. And continue for this many hills:

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I don’t see any flat there – do you?

My favourite hill was the one that we ran up to the base of and turned right immediately before – sucked in, didn’t have to run that fuckerrrrrr…. got to NOT run that hill 4 times *high five*

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The hill we didn’t have to go up!!

By the second lap I could feel myself getting completely baked and I don’t mean in a “I just finished my exams and want to party” kind of way. I was literally getting cooked in the sun. I pulled up the leg of my shorts to show J the new tan I was literally getting right before my eyes. Fark. Also into the second lap we took on a bit of a mantra to keep the legs ticking over. It was “Across the swamp, past the hill we don’t have to run, through the shady bit, left at the convict, up around the hill, bagpipes, water station, selfie, downhill…”. That’s exactly what we did over and over again. We’d cross the swamp bridge thing, turn into the drink station, zip through the small bit of shade, meet the smiley lady dressed as a convict, skip up the hill and past the bagpipers who played ALL DAY and into the aid station. Out of the station there was the only bit of the couse where you could actually see the joy beach so mandatory selfie and FB post happened and then a weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee downhill…. Then another mother fucking hill…. And into the settlement.

Each lap into the settlement we saw Scott who was on standby to hand out drinks and gels etc. It was nice to have someone taking care of us. Kelly would join him later after she finished the half marathon (which she managed in quite a respectable time and injury free booyahh).

By the third lap I was hurting, my hands were swelling and I could feel my feet swelling. I was holding onto Jeremy doing the whole “am I slowing him down?” internal monologue, hoping I wasn’t, hoping instead he was holding onto me thinking the same. I had no idea. J was pretty quiet. He laughed at all my jokes, but we didn’t chat like we usually did on a long run. Was he unhappy? Was he ok? I didn’t know. All I could do was be me and hope it was enough. At one point I saw a duck trying to flap up into the air from the water, and it was a tad on the hefty side so it seemed to be having difficulty with the physics of the process. Anyway, it was coming towards us at quite an embarrassingly low height for an avian. I am pleased to say I still had my wits about me at this point because I managed this:

“Jeeeeez Jez I’m so hungry…. I could eat the crotch out of a [insert flight failing duck here]”…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… it was the best…. Moving on… there was the convict…. Left around the hill… bagpipes…drink station…. Selfie…. Downhill….etc….

In the last 3km of the third lap, Jeremy stopped suddenly and started to retch quite violently. I stood nearby like a spare dick. What could I do? I thought he was cooked. I thought it was over. I was both alarmed and impressed at the strength of J’s gut muscles. I was also surprised he did not actually manage to deliver his stomach contents (and lining) to the hot asphalt ala “reverse picnic”. Turns out he swallowed a fly. Actually I think a second one kamikaze’d its way into his throat in response to J’s consumption of the first. Poor bugger. A volly riding past offered water and we were on our way again. I was happy we weren’t going to stop – we’d come so bloody far!

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fucking hot…

Into the settlement the 3rd time I grabbed more supplies from Scott, and Kelly slathered me in sunblock. I swear nothing fazes that woman, and on several occasions now she’s been there for me at my most vulnerable marathon moments and she is unflappable. I was in the zone I like to call “needy”, which is where I’m almost done physically and feel the need to unload my desire for something in a semi-hysterical way. Eg in the death throes of Darlington I dramatically demanded Scott refill water bottles and subjected him to all sorts of bad language. Kelly didn’t even flinch when I not only asked for sunblock, I asked that she apply it (at that stage I knew that sunblocky hands for the final few kms would have melted my brain). Sure enough, Kelly was there, sunblock at the ready and straight onto my arms, neck and legs. I honestly love her. It did occur to me later perhaps Jeremy might have needed something then. Sorry J…

(I did steal a mouthful of the bottle of Powerade that Kelly had bought. Well, I thought it was a mouthful. Apparently it was half the bottle. Oh well, she did offer!)

Now Rich was completely wrong about the hills, but he was completely right when he said that heading out for the 4th lap was very, very hard. Our “victory lap” came upon us like a 30th birthday – a celebratory event tinged with emotional pain.

By now we were well over 3 and a half hours in and my complaining had reached “the death zone”. I was fried. I think I said “fuck it’s hot” about 200 times. Per kilometre. Jeremy benignly agreed. He still laughed at my jokes. Could he not just tell me he was hot? That his legs were about to fall off? ANYTHING??? As far as I could tell, he was cool to go another few rounds with “Rotto” Balboa.

 (Sorry, I was kinda focused on not getting dropped! When we went thru about 27k, Didi said that she hadn’t run that far since the Perth Marathon, for me, I hadn’t gone that far since December last year and that was in the Six Inch marathon. When I signed up for this event, it was meant to be a long training run to lead into this years Six Inch. The plan was to chuck in some nice long runs before Rotto, run a marathon training run, get two or three good runs in over the next six or seven weeks, then boom, sub 5:30 for the 47k in December. This plan went to hell in a handbag when I ran out of talent on a trail and was left with two broken ribs. Plan aborted! So by the start of the last lap, I was focused on two things, our secret race with Nigel the Nun, and getting close to the stretch goal that I thought was 4hours48. I thought if I could keep up with Didi for at least half of the last lap, then sub 5 hours (my A goal) was achievable).

rotto9We finally swung around into the final 5km and I was squealing like an idiot at the vollies… “Yayyyyy we made it!!! I was so damn excited and so were they. We got our gold coin from the convict to pay the bagpipers and finally got to stop and take a photo of them They were the best part of the course. We took our last selfie and I couldn’t even post it because I didn’t care. It had dawned on us that we could make a sub 4:50 time if we booked it now. The maths was wheeling through my head. If we can keep an average pace of… wait… er…. Fuck I don’t even know… ok if we can just not walk… wait… oh ffs…. Brain had shut down. J had finally confessed to being ready to finish the damn thing, and we pushed it. Our final lap was faster than our 3rd lap by 3 minutes!

I finished my marathon in 4:46:46 by my watch. Jeremy finished his marathon about 30 seconds later. Then we looked at each other said “fuck this” and ran to the finish line another 500m away…. FIVE. HUNDRED. METRES. That’s reeeeeeeeeeally long way when you have run 42.195km already. As we rounded the final corner I could see the time clock. It ticked over 4:49:00 and raced towards the 4:50 mark…. Omgggggg…. Jeremy and I mustered all the strength we had left, if I’d had any spare hydration I would have had tears down my cheeks, and we finished the marathon, called in by Lauren Shelley like the elite champions we were.

 

 (Running into the finish chute was amazing. The people who were milling around the finish line were so vocal and the cheering was so uplifting. I’d had a little pity party with a kilometre to go. At least the sign on the side of the road said it was a kilometre to go. My Garmin said it was a few hundred metres. I had to thank Didi for dragging my sorry and broken arse around the course. If she had left me behind, I would have been in more trouble than Custer at The Battle of Little Bighorn. To be honest with you lot, I’d have given it away and turned off my alarm at 1am had I not been picking Didi up in the morning. Mentally, I’d been beaten by the race before we’d even left home. Any excuse would have done, I could have stopped and that would have been that. But for one thing. I didn’t want to let Didi down. I’d told her that we would run together. So if she didn’t stop then I couldn’t. Didi is a tough bastard. She didn’t stop. The bitch.)

What to do (and not to do) if you miss out on a medal on race day

I ran my second road marathon on Sunday and I didn’t get a medal at the end. I was a bit sad about it, I’d paid my money like everyone else, how come I didn’t get my medal? Turns out about 75 out of 175 runners didn’t get their medal either and boy were some people pissed about it. I chatted about this with a few friends, some had differing views which is cool. I reflected on how I felt about it versus how others seems to feel and that’s prompted this post.
So here are Didi’s tips on what to do and what NOT to do if you don’t get a medal on race day

What to do:

  1. Be disappointed for sure. The ceremonious hanging of the medal around a finisher’s neck is a beautiful moment, particularly for first timers.
  2. Try to understand WHY you didn’t get your medal. Your run-crazy race directors are undoubtedly as devo as you are that you missed out. Turns out for this particular race someone left a box of medals on the mainland. Can you imagine the horror experienced by the race directors when they discovered this? Their anguish outweighs yours by a million.
  3. Get your social media snaps pronto – no medal? No worries! Go nab someone else’s medal for a minute and take those precious photos – medal in front of course, biting medal and my favourite – dipping medal in beer.
  4. Remember that for the majority of these events, they are run by volunteers and not for profit clubs. They put in huge hours for your running experience to be great. Say thank you. It will make you feel good.
  5. Contact your club for more information. They’ll know what happened and where your medals are and most importantly how you can get your hands on yours.
  6. When you do finally get your medal, take that bad boy to work and show it off, let your kids wear it and take it to school (where nobody will know you ran it a while ago) and give your medal all the love and kisses it missed on race day. It’s yours now.
  7. Bask in the glory that is yours. Your race, whatever the distance, is finished. You ran it. You did it! You trained for it (or not) and you got through it! Nobody can take that from you. Nobody.

What not to do

  1. Don’t ear bash the poor volunteer whose job it is to inform you there are no more medals. She did not personally note your name down upon entry and evilly swipe your medal before you could get your sweaty selfie with it.
  2. Don’t rant all over facebook at your “devastation” and “disgust” with the organisers. If they’re putting on a race, you can be sure as hell they themselves are hardcore runners who know the importance of receiving a medal at the end. If you do have to have a rant, hold off for a few days to let yourself cool down. You may even receive a heartfelt apology from the RDs and an explanation.
  3. Don’t carry on like it’s the worst thing you’ve ever been through in your life. It’s not. Get some perspective. Nobody can ever take your marathon away from you. The glory is yours forever.
  4. Don’t forget that participants expect the best bling ever. Generic medals churned out en masse attract whiny complaints (go figure). To bring you the best and most brag worthy bling ever, clubs need to pre-order said bling weeks in advance which leads me to number 5.
  5. To maximise entries (and the chances of a successful event) RDs leave the entry cut off dates as late as possible. As a result, they often do not know how exactly how many entrants they’ll get. A late surge of people deciding to enter get up at arse o’clock to do the full stupid can put sudden pressure on logistics. You can rest assured that the person in charge of ordering the gorgeous bling will probably be in the fetal position crying somewhere because an extra 50 people couldn’t get their shit together early enough to enter.
  6. Remember that if you want the best bling that says 2016 on it, the club (which probably already runs close to a break-even point) cannot risk losing too much money by over ordering medals just in case there’s a late entry surge. The shitty thing is that some of the later entrants will run faster than the earlier entrants and they’ll get a medal instead. There’s little that can be done to control this. Get over it. Or as my friend was told once “Run faster next time” lol…. (that’s an awful thing to hear btw, I’m totally joking).

Didi’s tips on how to help your friend cope if they missed out on a medal:

  1. Hug them tight at the finish. Tell them they’re fucking amazing.
  2. Deliver the bad news gently. It’s a sensitive and emotional time.
  3. Calmly lead your friend away from the empty medal box.
  4. Pep your friend up by offering a free powerade. Emphasise to them that it was FREE. Grab two if your friend is really down.
  5. If you have a medal of your own and your friend is simply devastated they’ve missed out – give your medal to them. Then high five yourself for being fantastic. You got a medal AND you’re the best friend ever.
  6. Help your friend through the experience as you might a small child who didn’t get a ribbon on sports day. Think of what you might say. “It’s ok mate, you tried your hardest”, “you’re still a legend to me”, “not getting a medal doesn’t mean you’re not awesome”, “I’m so very proud of you” and of course “Here’s a beer”. (Ok that last one not for small children but you get the point.

 

Medals are really important to most runners. They’re the cherry on top of what can be the most exciting day ever in a person’s life. I have missed out on medals a few times now, and they’ve come later in the post. My friends have missed out. No doubt I bitched loudly to friends who would listen. In the past few years though I’ve been closer to the inner workings of running events and clubs. Unless you get involved you have NO idea what it takes to pull these events together, and how much volunteer man power is involved. It makes your brain melt to know what’s needed, what people give over and over again to let runners achieve greatness at great events. Just keep that in mind when you miss out on a medal next time. It’s nothing personal. You’re still badass. You’re still amazing.

PS: Here’s a photo of a medal I snitched from a friend and took happy snaps with ftw:

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2016 HBF Run For a Reason Half Marathon

Three weeks out from my first road marathon I ran the HBF Run For a Reason Half Marathon as a “test event” to see how my training had paid off.

So, my goal to is to run Perth Marathon on 12 June 2016 in 3:59:59. Mr McMillan’s prediction is that with a 25min 5k PB (current) and a 1:55:45 HM locked away I’m good for a 4:03:36 marathon. So the aim was to go under 1:55:00 (current PB 1:57:10 at Easter). On Sunday this was completely doable.

My favourite girls all chipped into buy me an entry to the event for my birthday. I was stoked (most thoughtful gift ever!). It was good practice for race conditions which I know is also important. I was excited! The past week I have had a bit of a head cold which has been shitty but not too bad, I ran through it ok.

So… skip forward to race morning. I was looking forward to really seeing what I could do. Every bloody time I run a race I learn something. It’s not always fun, but always learning. So this time I learnt that I fucking suck at hills. Still. At 6:45am as we cross the start line (pacer Scott, Michelle and Jeff) I felt enormously happy. Today was going to be joy. 1 minute later as we hit Malcolm Street at required pace (5:19per km) my legs almost buckled underneath me. First of all, it’s a fucking huge hill, and second of all, as you conquer it you realise there’s actually a second part to it that promises to destroy you if the first bit didn’t already. Scott takes hills like nobody I know, so he dawdled up comfortably at 5:19 pace. A very true and steady pacer. Jeff and Michelle hung back with me. I was never going to get up that hill at 5:19 pace. I felt bloody shit, and weak and crap and said lots of swears in my head. At the top Jeff asked if I was ready to hit race pace now. I said sure. Jeff and Michelle and Scott all hovering around tentatively looking at the first 2km of splits knowing the 1:52 target was well down the toilet. How embarrassing to throw it away in the first 12 minutes. FML. My mood didn’t improve even with some downhills and the following few uphills just crushed my legs and my downward spiralling spirit. Jeff and Michelle kept up the 5:19 pace and I just fell further and further behind. Poor frustrated Scott kept looking back – “WHAT. IS. WRONG?” … Exactly… what was wrong Didi? I couldn’t say. I had initially felt good. Who knew what the fuck would happen from here.

I never normally need a loo stop but at the first drink station I was desperate for a wee. I dashed across the grass to the loos and very nearly smashed a woman in the face with the portaloo door as I got there before her. Wasn’t even sorry. Ha.

At the 10km mark we had looped back into the city. I was very tempted to just throw in the towel and go home on the train. Fuck it. What a wreck of a run. What a disappointment, what a joke. Then I thought of my girls, and the fact that the race entry was a gift and how crap it would be to post a DNF. So I persevered. Was the worst 10km I’ve ever run I think. Scott kept just ahead of me, just out of reach… To me…to me… to me. And so I followed. I had some tailwind to stave off the lightheadedness, and a few Blok chews and just followed that red shirt trying not to cry.

As we entered the tunnel I started to perk up a bit. Sugar hit? Tailwind working its way into my system? Probably that was it. I pushed a bit and my legs responded. Oh Lawd what a relief. I thundered past the blaring music in the tunnel and was happy my watch didn’t shit itself. I nudged closer to Scott and each time he picked it up a fraction more… To me… to me… and I held on as best as I could. I felt a bit better. Pace was well off 5:19 but still very sub 6 and that encouraged me to go for a sub 2 hour finish. I could almost make it if I didn’t drop the pace.

Michelle popped up again with about 3km to go and I was glad to see her. All smiles and “C’mon you can do it” lifted me a bit again. Then we could SEE Gloucester Park and the causeway – the HOME STRETCH. Arghhhh it was almost overrrrrrr. All of a sudden some men came thundering past on the right hand side errrmagherrrd the 12km runners were here!!! They looked amazing flying past. I saw Alex from TRC and Luke Munro (I think I know who Luke is but he doesn’t really know me, so he must think it’s weird when I yell out “Go Luke!” ha)… within 1km of the finish I saw Lauren Shelley fly past too. Man she is so fit…and fast omg….

We finally entered the park for the finish and I realised that some jerkwad had positioned the finish line 200m away from the entry point. When you’re completely fried, want to curl up and die and maybe want to go under 2 hours and are ALMOST fucking there, that last 200m is deadly. Fuck. That. No amount of yelling at me could make me move faster (sorry Scott)… there was no final kick, no push for the finish. There was a trudging “I missed my goal time, I missed sub 2 and thank fuck this is over” effort and I was done. Oh, not before Grant zoomed past to finish his 12km and said “Hey Didi” to which I responded “Fuck you Grant”… nice…. Sorry Grant…

Finished in 2:01:19

So. Did I like the course? No idea because I didn’t see any of it because I was inside my head, or looking at the back of Scott for 2 hours…

Would I do it again? Yeah probably. Was a friendly atmosphere and well organised I thought (except for the hills at the start and the finish line being 200m further than I wanted).

Do I feel confident and ready to run a sub 4 hour marathon in 3 weeks? Absolutely not.

Ended up knocking off the last 10km in 54:50 which is close to a PB time for me… what the actual fuck? Didn’t know you could tank at the start end finish so strong at the finish… Interesting lesson in never giving up???

I went out in the arvo and ran another 7km to clear my head. Was frustrated and grumpy. Felt good, knee held up ok. Felt a bit like an act of contrition really. Gah… Running, such an emotional sport. Always grateful to Scott for sticking with me when it got tough – bought him a conciliatory beer at the pub afterwards.

I really want to give some special shout outs to some friends who also ran yesterday and had a great time:

My friend Dave ran his first half and after a very tough week beforehand, and landing in Perth at 11pm the night before managed to pull off a 1:57 finish along with his good mate (and someone I have always looked up to as a runner) Amy (aka Mighty Mouse) who also ran 1:57 and a HM PB!!!

And finally 3 of my school mum friends went out to crush the 12km course yesterday. Over the past few months there’s been a lot of training, a few set backs including injury and illness, but they lined up at the start like champs. Cindy, Cathy and Nat powered through to finish and I was so happy for them. Finishing an event like that unlocks something in you I think, and sets the brain ticking about what else is out there? What else could I do? And it also makes you think… ummm fuck yeah I’m awesome. All of these ladies are awesome, and I am so very proud of their achievements yesterday.

6 Inch Trail Marathon 2015

On Sunday I ran my second 6 Inch Trail Marathon. Just shy of 48km on the Munda Biddi Trail starting at North Dandalup and finishing at Dwellingup in Western Australia.

Last year I ran 6 Inch in 6:01:01 and I felt invincible. A week later I blew out my knee with an injury that sidelined me for 6 depressing months. So, after finally finding the right physio (Lauren Shelley no less) who figured out what the problem was, I was on a fast track to recovery. Lauren was confident in August that I’d be able to get to the 6 Inch start line in December. And she was right.

Looking back now over strava stats, I did virtually zero training of any sort for the first half of the year. I only started running again in the last 2 weeks in July, and totalled about 500km between August and 20 December. In that 5 month period I clocked all time PBs for 5km (25:01), 10km (54:29) and 21.1km (2:06:38). I was getting back into form at a rapid pace. I have my bestest running buddy and coach Scott to thank for most of it. Not to mention a swag of happy parkrunners who kept me company and kept encouraging me to keep going.
So without a whole lot of dedicated training, more an ad hoc approach, I managed to find myself scrambling to get organised the night before the big day. A 4:30am race kick off time meant an attempt at an early bed (forget it) and a broken “I hope I don’t miss my alarm” sleep. 1:55am and I was up, taking an unhappy early morning selfie.

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Race prep requirements are slightly hilarious at ridiculous o’clock. For example, I had to giggle at the fact I was slicking up my lady parts at 2:15am. Totally necessary. Slightly unhinged thing for a normal person to do. But, ultra runners are not normal people. So, lubed up, wedged into my gear and ticking off the list of necessities we bundled off in the car. The following things of note happened:
• Tom’s car wouldn’t start so he couldn’t come to my house for a lift. We had to implement an emergency plan to swing past and grab him.
• On the way out of my garage I reversed into something with a fucking huge bang. I realised I’d left the hatch open on the boot (it’s a big car) and had successfully taken the garage door of one of its rollers. Literally, 2:30am and we are arsing about trying to get the garage door back on. Tick tock tick tock
• Ben messages to politely enquire as to our tardiness. Arrived 2 minutes after agreed time.
• Collected Tom and GPS took us the most arse about way to the North Dandalup hall.
Fast forward – hall, high fives, check in, bus, start line – GO

Now, when I read back what I’ve just written it seems completely idiotic to have had a 5:30 goal time in my head. Never one to let common sense get in the way of a good idea, I had my plan and I was running with it (see what I did there?). Goldmine hill is an arse of a hill. But this year I managed to get up it about 2 minutes faster than last year. Big hills are NOT my forte. Ben likes to see how hard he can punish himself up a big hill, and that kind of training saw him WIN WTF this year. The admiration I have for Ben is huge. He trains hard. He wins hard. I just hate the hurt. Perhaps 2016 I’ll train enough to embrace the pain. Not quite there yet.
The bigger field trooped up the hill and onto the narrower track into the bush. It was fun to chat with Michelle and Cassie and I managed to keep up with them for a cruisy 10km start at my goal pace. I dropped back a bit after that and continued on my own. I was trying to get into a groove. Then 11km ticked over and my newly recovered knee started to groan. At first I thought it was just fatigue until I realised I’d only been running 90 minutes or so, pretty early for fatigue. It got worse and worse. Happy days for being right in the fucking middle of two aid points. Stop? Call someone for help? Keep going and risk injury for ANOTHER goddamn year? Fuck Fuck Fuck. I had a black cloud over me. I was furious. Sad. Gutted. I thought I’d persevere to get to aid 1 (22km mark) and see how it felt. I was walking pretty slowly. I watched my average pace blow out. I took an ibuprofen to see if that would help. 30 minutes of beating myself up about how I should never have started, and how I was a fucking idiot for thinking I could do it, and how embarrassed I’d be to DNF, my knee suddenly came good. I couldn’t believe it. The ibuprofen was working. I could keep going!
I came in pretty happy to aid 1, knowing I could keep going. I didn’t refill any water because I’d barely drunk any of the 1L I was carrying. The day was cool so far, really nice breeze. I’d consumed my tailwind concentrate (5 scoops in 400mL of water) so I refilled it (this time with 4 scoops and 400mL of water). Last year my hydration and nutrition plan worked really well. This year I was a bit over confident and winged it a little too much. Ah, it’s all a learning curve. I didn’t drink the concentrate as often as I should, not regularly at 1km intervals, I just drank when I remembered then slugged the final bit at aid 1. Not very consistent delivery method for my body. I drank probably 200mL of water MAX.
Fast forward – I managed to keep my average pace pretty much where I wanted it and noticed that I was running up inclines that I’d walked the year before. I toughed it up some hills I normally might walk. I was feeling ok. Not 100% but the plan was to give 100% so half way through to still be feeling good I thought wasn’t too bad. I hit the half way mark in 2 hours 42 minutes. I was on track for a 5:30 finish! I powered on.

At the 25km mark

At the 25km mark

 

At the 30km mark I was powering up a hill when all of a sudden my left big toe felt like I’d sliced half of it off with a Stanley knife. Owwweeeeeeeee!!! I hopped around like an idiot and couldn’t even put my foot down. Fuck. I had to get my shoe off. Race Didi said “Oh but what about your average pace?” and then Sensible Didi said “Ummm you can’t go anywhere without sorting out your fucking foot”. Ok… I peeled off my sock and saw that I’d burst a big, painful blister. Well, no amount of race prep had me prepared for this scenario. What should I do? Hop barefoot the next 6km to the aid station? Ask someone for help? Fuck.
Then I remembered that some RD genius had required us to carry mandatory first aid supplies. I whipped off my pack and dug out my kit. I felt a little bit like MacGuiver as I rifled through my options. Tape. Padding. Boom – get the fuck on with it. It was pretty stingy as I whipped the tap around and around my big toe. Every single runner who passed me offered assistance. They were all concerned that I’d hurt myself. I told them I was ok.
I reassembled myself and stood up. Pain was intense. Oh yay. I’d had enough of sitting on my arse not moving so I just started to walk on. What other choice was there? Eventually I managed to get my toe comfortable. I pushed on running. No point being disappointed about my goal time going out the window, I just needed to bloody finish!
Ohhhhh the escalator was next… I was pretty grumpy with myself, a grumpiness which quadrupled when my right big toe suffered the same fate as the other one only 1km from aid 2. Oh for fuck sake. I struggled up the stupid fucking hill, motivated by the fact my sister was there. She would fix me. She would help me. If only I could get to her. So. Damn. Slow. I was starting to feel pretty weak. Weak mentally I mean. I was fading. I got to aid 2 and quite dramatically demanded Kelly avail the first aid kit to me immediately. I love that woman. Unflappable, she presented the supplies to me and offered solutions to my blister problem. I was probably short and grumpy with her. Sorry Kell, you’re a champion. Amy patched me up, snapped a few photos of my grumpy self. Andrew plonked himself down next to me and offered the last 2 pieces of watermelon. I wanted them both. As I stuffed my face with one piece I was trying to fix my foot. I thought Andrew was about to leave with the other piece. I vice gripped his arm: “Don’t. Take. That. Away.”…. hahahahahahaha… Andrew was very calm. He reassured me very gently that he wasn’t going anywhere, that the watermelon was all mine… I’m sorry, I was tired, hurting, and in desperate need of watermelon. Thanks for understanding. All the smiles at aid 2 were awesome. I got a huge lift there seeing everyone when I was in such a bad mood.

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Photo by Ignition Photography

 

I’d like to say that the final 11km were a joy. They were not. Every single step hurt. I couldn’t rustle up much enthusiasm for the event and I couldn’t recall last year hurting like this. I knew then that my nutrition and hydration plan was a bit off, and was rapidly paying the price after every kilometre. In my head I was only 15 minutes off my goal time. In reality when I did the proper maths, I realised that not only was I nowhere near my goal time, in fact if I went any slower I was going to blow out well past 6 hours! Oh fuck! I almost just stopped and had a cry right then and there. Then I realised I didn’t have time to cry. If I couldn’t get my goal time then get fucked if I was going to come in SLOWER than last year. Fuck. That. This meant too much to me.
I hit aid 3 and continued on. I’d still not picked up any more water since the start and still had probably half of it left. No wonder I was feeling pretty average. I smashed the emergency gel Scott had made me take with me (who knew he knew a thing or two)… I kept thinking “If you want it, it has to hurt”… I thought about my friends who would have finished already – Ben, Tom, Michelle and Scott… I thought about Aimee who was behind me, still coming. I just had to give it everything. Every incline I had to push myself up it, on the verge of tears because I was so shit at hills. Ben popped into my head “C’mon mate, walk with purpose… with purpose”… I lifted my chin up, imagined a goddamn clipboard under my arm (we’d joked about this in training runs) and kept pushing forward. When I wanted to stop completely, Scott popped up in my head “Relentless. Forward. Progress. Didi. Don’t stop moving forward. One step. Another step. Just don’t stop.” I didn’t stop.
I thought I was making ok time. I snuck a look at my watch. I was only just going to scrape it in under 6 hours if I continued at the current pace. I didn’t think I could hold it. I was desperate for the finish line – how far was it from here? I started to cry. Stupid, girly tears. I wanted it to be over. I wanted to be under 6 hours and I didn’t know if I would make it in time. A few people were starting to line the trail as they’d walked up from the finish. How far was it? Every single metre counted for me! My watch said 47.3km… It couldn’t have been much further? Then I rounded the last corner and the marshals were there and I could see the gantry. OMG I was done!!!!! More stupid tears, and a final desperate push to the finish and I was done.

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Did I make it sub 6?

Offical time was 5:59:30

Official time was 5:59:30

Awwww yeahhhhhhh!!!!!!! I got my medal, I hugged my friends and learnt how they’d gone. Some super impressive times and happily Michelle hadn’t died, just run a cruisy 5:35 time ha! Scott PB’d by almost an hour and Ben wiped of 41 minutes from last year. Tom came in about 5:20 and I was thrilled for everyone.

Me and Michelle with our medals

Me and Michelle with our medals

We topped the day off with a BBQ at my place and we relaxed in the pool and decompressed after a helluva day. I’ll be back next year.

6 Inch Royalty gets White Lightning back on track

Well, an extraordinary thing has happened. Yesterday I ran 5km pain free. Ok I had 4 x 2 minutes of walking breaks in amongst the total 34 minute run but for the first time in over 185 days I completed 5km 100% pain free. How has this happened? Two words: Lauren. Shelley. Lauren is my new physio at Body Logic. Along with having a Masters Degree in Sports Physiotherapy Lauren has represented Australia in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships & Commonwealth Games. Basically, she’s a super human runner and a biomechanics expert physio. Short story about my appointment on Tuesday – Lauren got all up in my ITB and commented that it really wasn’t tight. I’d flogged the damn thing to death this past 3 months and really, the tightness wasn’t there. Sure my leg was still stiff and didn’t bend as well as it should but something else was up. Lauren needled the hell out of my TFL up in my hip area (I wish I’d taken a photo it was cool) and introduced me to my sartorius muscle. The sartorius is the muscle that goes from the inside of your knee diagonally across your quads to  your TFL. My sartorius has never been manipulated before and it was fucking painful! But in a really, really good way. I also copped some needles in my lower leg. I have a memory like a goldfish but I think Lauren said from initial injury my body was compensating and I was limping and the muscle loading was all out of whack which is why the pain continued… In casual conversation I learnt that Lauren actually won 6 Inch last year (for the women). Oh wow! I was amazed that this whole time I was being handled by a woman who conquered my very favourite race. We were at the start line at the very same time! Woah! I whined to Lauren about my existing 1 min run 1 min walk strategy and Lauren gave me this session instead:

  • 10 mins run 2 mins walk
  • 8 mins run 2 mins walk
  • 6 mins run 2 mins walk
  • 4 mins run 2 mins walk

She said that’d take me up to about 5km. I was skeptical about how my knee would cope with this but also a little spring of hope had welled in my tummy. I was determined to be positive and just try it out. Yesterday I strapped on my garmin and my tummy actually jumped around with butterflies and I was NERVOUS!! I was going to run 5km! Or was it going to fall in a pile of limping pain… who knew? I am a big believe in psychosomatic pain. If you think about it hard enough, it will start to hurt… This time I tried hard to just throw caution to the wind and just. run. It was glorious. There’s not better word for it. I just cannot truly capture how yesterday’s run made me feel. I clicked over 10 minutes and walked. Everything felt good. Most of all my heart felt good. I felt confident. 2 minutes up and I ran again for 8 minutes and no pain!! I couldn’t believe it. Everything in my body tingled with joy. I was just so fucking happy. I heard a runner coming up behind me and moved over to let them pass and it turned out to be my Rogue mate Camo!! Oh hey!!! It was so nice to be able to share my moment with someone. We chatted merrily. We cruised. It was just easy, pain free running. Occasionally I looked down at my garmin, at some stages I was cruising at a 5:30 pace! At the 4km mark I was at 28 minutes. I couldn’t believe it! One more km and I’d have finished a 5km distance in a decent run time, even with the walking!!! Camo and I said seeya later and I peeled off to finish up my last km. 11541727_10153570925341807_859493355_o Seriously. I stopped my garmin and stood in the street for a few seconds just staring at it. I slowly wandered back to my office. That had just happened. Incredible. I got back to my office, sat down and had a bit of a cry. Soppy huh? But I was just so emotional. My whole body was flushed with endorphins. My skin tingled. My legs felt good. Nothing hurt. I have been hurting for 6 months. Almost every single step every single day has hurt. Not yesterday. And not today. I have some sweet sweet DOMS going on in my calves woohoo!!! But no knee pain. The next step is to repeat yesterday’s effort tomorrow. I’m hoping it will be ok. Lauren is confident it’s going to be ok. “Us ultra marathoners need to keep running” she said….. Oh yeah, I almost forgot I’m an ultra marathoner… And Lauren did not rule out a 6 inch start this year for me… #watchthisspace…

GUEST BLOG: “Michelle’s Race for Miracles”

In April my running bestie Michelle ran the London Marathon for the Miracle Babies Foundation. She’d worked hard all year with her training, and impressive fundraising to go run the race of her life. Here is her recap… 

Our travel to London was off to a bumpy start when Mr Miracles managed to clock me in the eye with his carry on case while boarding our flight to Dubai.  Lucky for us both I didn’t head to the marathon with stitches or a black eye – although I did cry into an icepack during take-off and the lady sitting next to us looked nervously at him for the rest of the flight.

We arrived at the Emirates Business Lounge and I realised he was worth keeping, if only for his Qantas Club membership.   We were on 6am time and managed to restrain ourselves from demolishing bottles of Moet and a Yum Cha feast during our stopover.

24 hours, 4 movies, 8 meals and about 6 hours sleep later we were receiving warm chocolate cookies at check-in to our hotel, the Doubletree Hilton Hyde Park.

I headed out for a 10km run around Kensington Palace and Hyde Park and was shocked at just how cold it was (and it was probably the warmest day of our trip).  The park is so beautiful and at this time of the year even more so with all the spring flowers out, and plenty of paths to explore.
I started second guessing my race gear, and checking the weather forecast fanatically, in addition to the daily weather forecast updates from Scott.  The following day I had a 4km run, including some faster 60 second  intervals and it was so cold tears were streaming and I was seriously panicking about how I was going to react on race day.

We had decided to check out the event expo on Thursday as we thought it would be less busy than the later days – even though that meant missing out on hearing Dennis Kimetto and Wilson Kipsang speak.    I don’t usually get in to Race Expos that much – I’m not really into trying new hydration products or running kit, however there was so much to see.  I took the obligatory race photo that Miracle Babies Foundation had requested but there were so many fun things to check out and selfie/videos to take part in. I ran part of the New York marathon using and interactive treadmill app by @Abbotts, I had a taste of the Lucozade Orange drink that would be available on Race Day, grabbed a 3:45 pacing band and a long sleeved London Marathon Tech Shirt.

m1I was excited to find out that the London Marathon shoe was the Brooks Ghost – similar to the Brooks Glycerin that seems to be working for me lately. I picked up a pair of those too – best holiday souvenir ever!

The presentations ‘What to expect on Race Day’, ‘Mental preparation’ and info about the Runner’s World pacing groups were really entertaining and informative and did settle the nerves quite a lot.  So after ‘not really being into race expos’ we realised that 4 hours later we hadn’t eaten lunch – not great prep.  Going to find actual food seemed more important than staying longer to listen to nutrition advice!

Trying to see as much as London as possible, yet not walk TOO much was challenging and ‘Maranoia‘ well and truly set in with random pain in my left knee, aggravated by lots of stairs. We met up with Coach Scott and his partner Tracy on Friday, got some great food tips and ended up ‘hydrating’ during a mini pub crawl, followed by dinner in China Town.  I ran most of my marathons last year and many training runs with Scott and to have his support in London was incredible.

On Scott’s recommendation we headed to parkrun Fulham Palace on Saturday, checking Ben’s result at his 100km Anzac Challenge on the way.   I planned to run the first 3km of parkrun at Marathon pace (I was supposed to be taking a rest day but as if you can go to the UK and not parkrun) then walk the rest.  When Garth fell behind in the first km and my GPS was playing up I ended up finishing the 5km at marathon goal pace – oops… The good news was I ran in a singlet and was not too cold, and my knee didn’t hurt at all while running.  We had our post parkrun coffee in a Palace and met some really nice parkrunners.

We got back to the hotel to find out they were opening the restaurant early on Marathon morning – which solved the breakfast fuelling issue.  Garth went out sight-seeing while I spent the afternoon resting, following the Fremantle Dockers game online and watching a Channing Tatum movie – then met our cousins who were Honeymooning in London for a ‘healthy’ Burger and Sweet Potato Fries (My pre-marathon tradition – I know right, such an Athlete!)  The messages and support from home were amazing and after Ben’s awesome result and the Dockers win I hear from Matt with “Well that’s two good results…rest is up to you now girl…”

m2A 10:10am race start on Marathon morning was a very different experience – no need to wake up super early; 7am breakfast and then off to the train, still second guessing my transport decisions.  In the end our decisions were spot on. Garth travelled with me to Cannon Street (a central London station) and then headed off to relax with a warm drink and find his spectator position on course. He had plans to meet up with Scott and Tracy during the day.
I headed to the Greenwich start zone from there – a great decision as it was the first stop on that route so there was plenty of room on the next train.  After using the facilities at the train station and dropping my bag at the trucks (all so well organised) there was not really much to do – runners were drinking last minute tea & coffee and then frantically lining up for the portaloos.

I headed to the big screen to watch the start line footage and charity runner interviews. I was quite nervous but spent the next 15 minutes watching the screen and chatting to a lovely English girl doing her first marathon which completely relaxed me (thank you random girl, I hope you had a great run!)  I took a photo with a Minion for Gary, and headed to the start pens.

I had registered in the 3:45-4:00 start and the Pacers at the expo had been very helpful, and confident that getting to the front of that group would be easy– surprisingly it was.  The 3:45 pacers started at the back of the pen in front of me and while I wasn’t paying that much attention to them it was reassuring to see them at several points during the race.

m4I parted with my 2 old warm jumpers on the side of the road – so wearing a singlet, shorts and some very attractive Union Jack Gloves from a discount store in China Town; I prepared to freeze during the estimated 10-20 minute wait to actually cross the start line.  When the gun sounded and we all moved I was surprised. We didn’t go far, but we were moving and I was surprised to see that the clock was only at 5 minutes when I crossed the timing mat.m3

I felt quite emotional crossing the start line. I’m not even sure what I was thinking about just felt like I was about to burst into tears.  I haven’t really felt that before during a marathon.  Even crossing the finish line at Perth Marathon last year, with my goal time, a PB and holding my 6 year old’s hand, I was just happy, excited and relieved.

I managed to settle into a pretty consistent 5:15 pace from the start and was surprised at how much room there seemed to be – I thought the start would be so congested.  Running along still holding in the tears I hear cowbells, think of Didi and nearly lose it.

There was a guy playing tune and singing along karaoke style from his 1st floor balcony – very entertaining.  Minutes later I pass Batman (Clinton) and 23 weeks preggers chick (Natalie), then Army Man (Ben), all kitted up, boots and all, carrying what looked like a very heavy pack. OMG… here come the tears again…

The blue and red courses merged and I was a little shocked to hear everyone booing each other. Seriously?  Is that what they are doing? No high-fives? No cheers?  We were approaching the first timing mat and as I crossed with a 26:12 split I felt relieved. The pace felt fantastic although the course was becoming more and more congested and I was trying not to stress about the slowing pace. I was there to enjoy this event after all, right?!  I approached the next timing mats with another 26 minute parkrun but it wasn’t until around the 14km mark, that I really did relax and stop worrying that the pace was up and down around 10 seconds/per km.

Running around landmarks like Cutty Sark where the roads were a lot narrower, made it hard to maintain that comfortable 5:15 pace, and running in areas where there were thousands of spectators screaming, blowing horns, ringing cowbells, dancing and singing out the front of pubs and homes, or bands playing, made it hard not to get caught up and run too fast.  Every now and then someone would scream out “GO AUSTRALIA!” or “GO MICHELLE!” – more and more towards the end. You could really only work out the general area it was coming from and give a bit of a wave behind you. I was looking out for Garth, Scott and Tracy. I knew Garth had a flag with him but didn’t know where exactly they would be. I didn’t really expect to see them but kept a look out for Garth, the flag and Scott’s red hat (which he probably wasn’t even wearing that day).

Around this point I passed a priest and again started calling people their ‘parkrun’ name as I had earlier in the race with Batman, Army Man, the Cowbells and 23-week Pregnant Chick.  The Priest was Tom.

Around 20km I once again started feeling teary.  It just all felt too soon.  It’s been such a huge year, with the inspiration and support from Miracle Babies, my friends, family, sponsors and everyone , it has just been an absolutely wonderful experience.  I thought “I’m just not ready for this”.  I’d done the training, felt great, and was ready for the RUN – I just wasn’t ready for it to all be OVER.  Coming up to the Tower Bridge which I knew was going to be one of the biggest highlights I was really just trying to hold it together. I also thought “OMG there’s going to be so many photographers here and here’s my scrunched up crying face”.

The Tower Bridge was loud. I thought Didi, Nat and their Cowbells were loud.  Trying to take in the course and landmarks was almost impossible.  The atmosphere was really overwhelming at times.
Coming off the bridge I passed Tigger and Pooh (Dan and Rich) – a couple of the happiest runners I know – so that put a smile on my face.

For a couple of kms you could see some of the faster runners heading back in the other direction (I named the first of the speedy dudes I saw Roberto) and spent some time cheering for these faster runners, including several of the vision impaired athletes.

I had taken a gel at 10km, a few sips of Lucozade at 15km and another gel around 25km.  My stomach started feeling a little queasy but it wasn’t until around 30km that I allowed myself to start thinking in ‘parkrun’ measurements – as in 2 parkruns to go.  More specifically “Just 2 parkruns without pooping your pants, Michelle”

Around this point Speedo Man (Abdul) ran past. Sitting in the gutter was some dude vomiting (my stomach lurched again), people stopped on the side talking to the volunteers, stretching out cramps – including Spiderman & Ironman (AK & Matt R).  I found out later this was around where Garth, Scott and Tracy had been watching the event – they saw so many of the same costumes that I did, but despite scanning the crowds of runners and following the on-line tracking didn’t see me run past.m5
Running along the Embankment I saw a guy dressed as Princess Kate with Baby on Board signs. I was hoping there was a photographer so I could have a photo with the Princess.   There was a lot of excitement here as you just knew there wasn’t far to go and Big Ben was just up ahead.

The temperature dropped suddenly and I found myself having a little trouble breathing.  I was still running at a comfortable pace but realised I was having a mild asthma attack. Another man nearby dropped his Ventolin and I briefly considered asking him if I could borrow it. I started panicking that if I had to stop for medication would they let me continue… there was less than 2km to go so I just tried to calm myself down and continue.

Heading around Buckingham Palace into the mall they suddenly opened an extra lane in the road and there was a huge TV camera pointed right at me so I picked up the pace for the final sprint, rounded the corner waving at the camera and completely forgot to wave to Queen Liz or really even pay much attention at all to the Palace.   I looked ahead and decided that the man dressed as a Cactus was NOT going to beat me and headed over the finish line with a 1:45:25 on my Garmin (1:45:18 official time).
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/757487964

Immediately a medal was placed over my neck and the very friendly volunteers offering congratulations and hugs. Official photographers took photos in a couple of locations and I was pleasantly surprised that you could pick up your finishers bag with a correctly sized Tech T-shirt.  In previously years it was a one size fits all basic T-shirt so that is what I had expected. m6

I checked my phone reception and called Garth thinking I may have quite a walk and wait ahead of me but surprisingly I was able to call from the finish line, and Garth, Scott and Tracy were already at there waiting for me.  I couldn’t see Garth, Scott & Tracy initially and when I called again they said they were just underneath a flag “come find us”. I looked around and said “Nope, I’m near the B meeting point. There’s a big bin I’m just going to sit here and you can come and find ME.” m7

We headed back into London to find somewhere to celebrate – Tracy is like a ninja moving through the streets of London, the rest of us just tried to keep up. Every pub we found was packed and the toilets were either upstairs or downstairs – a deal breaker for me as my stomach was feeling a little dodgy and I knew I wasn’t going to be moving quickly on stairs.

We decided to head back towards our hotel so I could shower and change and meet back up with Scott & Tracy for a Sunday Roast and Beers somewhere local.  I looked pretty sad and sorry for myself on the train wrapped in a foil blanket just trying to hold my stomach together, but felt much better after a warm shower, fresh clothes and a pint (or 2) back at our local, the Champions Pub! m8

m9Next up is the Gold Coast Airport Marathon on 5th July.  Apart from some calf tightness and tendon issues in my left foot I’ve recovered pretty well and on track to achieve my sub 3:40 goal.

Over the past year I’ve achieved some amazing personal goals, we have raised over $21,000 for Miracle Babies Foundation – a wonderful charity that I’m very passionate about, and along the way we’ve met and been inspired by some truly incredible people.

To our friends, family and sponsors reading this – thank you for all your support, donations and involvement in our fundraising events.   Thank you Mum and Dad for looking after the kids, and to Garth for sharing the experience with me (and for foot-rubs, putting up with early morning alarms and taper niggles).

Big love to my running besties, Nat & Didi (and your little Miracle Babies) and to those training buddies who kept me company on long runs – Cordelia, Renee, Cassie, Adrian and Daniel – thank you.
Ben and Scott – always encouraging, coaching and inspiring – you guys are the best. We are all so lucky to have you in our running community.

Thank you to my corporate sponsors:
Jodie Burgess – One Agency, Watch Wise, the Swiss Watch Box, Climate Wise Construction, Absolute Domestics, Barris Accounting and Floral Image
Thanks to Brooks Running for the Glycerin 12’s

3 months rest and still no improvement. What a fuck of an injury

Today the last pair of undies in the drawer were my favourite race undies. Fluoro striped knickers that I always wear on PB day or race day. I donned them with a sinking heart: no running today. My garmin tan has faded. My bruised toenails have grown out. My newest pair of running shoes are still in the fucking box. Every time I see them I think “soon….I hope”.

I got a second opinion about my knee and had an MRI this week. ITB friction syndrome is confirmed. So no tears, no stress fractures just relentless inflammation under my ITB. I have one helluva tight ITB apparently.

At my follow up appointment today we came up with a plan: 4 weeks of Naprosyn and serious physio to see if any improvement is made. If no or limited improvement, try “cortisone pads” that introduce cortisone through the skin rather than via a needle (cost about $500). If still no or only limited improvement my last option is surgery. Surgery has the option of a partial or full release. I’m not thinking that far ahead just yet.

I’ve decided to take a chance on the physio Alex has recommended – Chris Perkin at Body Logic – because I like the idea that they work with patients together and Alex knows Chris has had success with ITB issues for his patients.

Alex said that ITB FS is curable. But it can come back if you push too hard too quickly after recovery. The key is to get rid of the inflammation. No inflammation = no pain = being able to run again. Currently my “muscle patterning” or the way that I’m moving when I walk is actually keeping my knee inflamed. I didn’t even realise I was limping slightly but I am.

So having invested a fair few dollars this far, and having rested for more than 3 months now, I’m ready to give this recovery a serious crack. It’s hard. I’m time poor and my physio exercises are usually at the bottom of the list of things that need to be done. But I can’t continue living with the pain I’m in.

That ain't no yacht

That ain’t no yacht

Well meaning friends have encouraged me to get my knee better and then give up hopes of long distances. Just focus on the shorter distances. Run 5-10km and maybe a half every now and then but don’t stress my body out by doing ultras. I can’t even hide the distaste for their comments as I listen. I. can’t. even. What the fuck are you telling me? “You’ve done an ultra – find a new hobby now, why do you need to do it again?”… seriously… don’t talk to me. The best way I could explain it to my yacht loving “been a sailor for 51 years” friend was that saying that to me was like asking him to go row a dinghy and never sail his yacht ever again. Why can’t be be content with the little boat? It’s still on the ocean. He’d still be getting out there enjoying his boating passion… except, it’s a fucking dinghy isn’t it. He understood what I meant then about wanting to get back to the big distances. Alex said it’s completely doable. If I look after my body after it’s fixed, there’s NO REASON I HAVE TO ROW A DINGHY….

Cow-bell-a-bunga! Spectating at the Lark Hill Ultramarathon

I refuse to sulk over my ITB injury setting me back I dunno, like a whole friggin year. Eager to soak up some glory from fellow parkrunners I went down to spectate and cheer at the Lark Hill 50km and 100km ultra marathon last night. As far as events go, this one was perfect for spectating. It’s a 3km loop. Yeah – round and round and ROUND for 50km or 100km. Craaaazyyyyy!!!

My husband honestly shakes his head when I tell him I’m off to watch a running event. He just doesn’t understand why I’d be bothered. Watching a marathon or any running event is awesome. You get to witness greatness. Whether it’s the front runners powering past you at a pace you couldn’t even dream of maintaining for 1km to those at the back, slogging away and putting one foot in front of the other determined to finish the distance. ALL of them are inspiring. Watching an ultra marathon is just the same as going to watch an AFL game. You get to cheer everyone on, you get to chat with other spectators, share some laughs and a few beers maybe, and generally you get wrapped up in the joy of it all. You see strength, you see weakness, you see people urging others to continue, you see all the good, bad and ugly involved in sport. It’s cool. But unlike watching an AFL game, watching an ultra marathon has its own special bonus: the “players” are your friends. You actually personally know, or are acquainted with, those runners out there. You’ve watched them train, you’ve had chats about the upcoming event and you’re watching them sweat out a PB or grit their teeth to just get to the finish line.

So, we got to Lark Hill just as the race had started. Within 13 minutes or so the front runners had finished the first 3km and were back at the start. It took about 2 laps for the field to spread out along the whole course and then from then no matter where you stood on the course you’d have runners going past you every few seconds.

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My epic photography skills…

 

Bec, Kelly and I set up station maybe 500m? from the start/finish. I was a bit dismayed that after a 5km walk that morning my knee was completely fucked and even walking that far hurt a lot. Anyway…. At the Perth marathon last year I saw a group of people rock up with cowbells and they clanged them loudly for the runners and made a helluva noise! It created a really cheery atmosphere and made me smile. So, I found myself a cowbell and some Christmas bells and took them with me to Lark Hill. Initially I was a bit self conscious about shaking them. What if people hated them? What if the event was about enjoying the serenity of the darkness? Jeeeez… but the bells made ME so happy surely they’d make other people happy? I decided I’d not hauled my arse all the way down to Port Kennedy to spectate silently for hours. I busted out the bells.

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Seriously. It was a whole lotta clanging jangly goodness going on. For 4 hours I cheered the 100 or so race entrants past me again and again. In the dark it’s damn hard to distinguish a runner and in fact some of them ran without a head torch so sometimes I looked up to see that they were almost past me! Chris Lark was gunning around and I recognised him by how he runs. Just for the record I can also pick out Ben Harris, Jon Storey, Gary Wilmot and Emma Luscombe by the way they move🙂 Everyone else got a cheer and once they’d come close enough (and their head torch was not shining in my face) I could see who it was so there was a belated “Go Pam! Go Chris! Go guy dressed as a unicorn!”

More excellent photography

More excellent photography

One guy shouted “Ole” at me every time he came past. What a champ. A few runners said thank you every single time. I saw a few people taking a walk break, and urged them to continue. I knew a big swag of the entrants and Jeremy, Kelly and Bec knew more as well so between us we identified and cheered on individuals we knew. Randy in the green shirt, Barb, Abdul, Jez and Marnie Selton, Adilah, Hunter!… There were two “Running Mums Australia” ladies out there pushing hard in the 50km. One guy who we could only identify as Chris Lark’s mate got cheered as “Go Chris’ mate” for a few laps until we finally asked him his name (Justin) and could finally cheer “Go Justin”!

Some people were rocking some impressive glowy action. A lady had some glowsticks in her hair and someone else had cool glowing green shoelaces. Ben had green glow sticks on the back of his shoes so we could see him a mile away. At one stage we saw a guy coming quite close to us and were wondering “wth is that runner coming at us for?!!!” and it was bloody Ben who’d taken off his shoe glow sticks (so we couldn’t tell it was him) and he came in shrieking and laughing. Hahahhahaaha… idiot.

It took me ages to figure out that the runners couldn’t actually see us standing there. It was so dark. But they could definitely hear us!!

I had a great time standing there for 4 hours shouting encouragement. I’d accidentally become a course marker. Bells then aid station. Bells then aid station. I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere! The bells were needed! Hahahaah… I eventually had to head home about 11pm so we waited for Ben to pass us one more time to wish him all the best and then drove home.

I’ve never been to this event before, and while I dunno if I could run 50km round and round like that I know I could definitely bring the cow bell action again.

Thanks to Dave Kennedy for putting on another great event and thanks to all the runners for an awesome night of spectating. You are all superstars to me.

 

The absolute sorrow of injury

It has been almost 4 weeks since I had a cortisone injection into my right knee to calm down the inflammation caused by my ITB friction syndrome. Since then, I’ve done absolutely fuck all exercise.

For the first 2 weeks it was because my knee actually hurt a goddamn lot more than expected and I couldn’t bear the thought of even rolling my leg on a foam roller.

In the 3rd week I saw my physio Marc who didn’t seem to think my ITB was too tight but took the doctor’s word for it and after pummeling my leg with his elbow, prescribed another week’s rest and some foam rolling and stretches. I’ll admit to not doing the rolling and stretching every day. I think I did it twice in 6 days and I know the roller should hurt, but the pain should be a good pain. When I rolled I felt like I was pushing on a bruise (ie where Marc had recently been with his bloody elbow) and basically the whole exercise made me cranky. The stretches were actually uncomfortable so I canned those too. Just all round a shit week for recovery. I loathe swimming which is currently my only form of approved exercise (arms only) so motivation to get in the pool is damn low.

On my second visit to Marc in my 4th recovery week he needled my leg and continued to encourage me to be positive and said I’d improved my ITB stretchyness since the week before which was a good sign. I left him feeling a bit more positive that things might be ok after all. I was limited to 30 minutes of riding or walking and swimming with no legs was permitted. No deep water running allowed or anything with a repetitive knee movement past 30 degrees.

Tomorrow I get to go for my “test run” before seeing Gary. I can tell you right now it’s not going to go well. I managed to walk parkrun in a full 60 minutes on Saturday and the knee pain was there. Mild. But there. Just with walking. Pffffffffft. Then in the afternoon I ran maybe 10 steps with the kids in the park and whammo! my knee pain was severe. And then I had to walk down about 8 steps and that was almost the end of me. So much pain.

I am in a huge funk over this. On Saturday night I saw an ad for the race in Bunbury that was meant to be my next event. I saw the date: April and I knew I’d never make it. I bawled my eyes out. I just couldn’t help it. I was just so overwhelmed with sadness that I just criedn and cried. I felt awful. Cue online support – my running buddies there to talk me down off the ledge.

There’s a huge void in my life when I’m not training. It’s depressing. I miss the endorphins. I miss my friends. I can’t participate in any running event. I can barely get myself over the line at parkrun. I’m just so flat. And the thought of this being a longer term thing is really making me cranky. I’m grumpy. I’m so very very sad about things. I think a huge part of it is the uncertainty. I just don’t know why my knee isn’t improving. I don’t know when I’ll be able to run again. I can’t even bloody speed walk (a form of exercise that I consider incredibly untrendy to do but I’m even willing to do that). I’m not eating properly. I’ve lost weight. My mood swings are back. I’m not sleeping well. Goddammit.

I’m seeing my sports doc on Thursday. Watch this space.