Author Archives: AmyAdelante

At the Start line

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Alarm beeps its familiar tune before the sun has any ideas of shining. Even a little earlier than the usual morning training starts that have become routine, there’s no hesitation in rising today. Even my kids have agreed to come along to cheer me on and to run a shorter race themselves.

Race day is here!

IMG_3282Clothes prepared and laid out ready for a quick change. A check of the weather conditions. Comfortable, 11C and slight breeze. As I rise there’s still the residual effects of a cold, but the medication I started taking has improved the symptoms greatly.

Athletes and supporters swarm the event area, with staggered start times for the various distances. Greetings and well wishes are exchanged, both to familiar faces and new ones. Seeing so many of the people I have trained with, the spirit buoys me in anticipation. Especially Mr J and Ms T, who began the journey with me months ago. Marathoners are the first to gather at the Start line, as the sun works its way past a bank of clouds. Nearby, many other lines form leading to the ‘Port-a-loos’ as other runners prepare for their races.

A quick warm up and suddenly it’s time to find the Start line and the right section. I weave my way to a place just before the 2:00 time section, with the intention to finish in under 2 hours. Without a moment to pause and reflect, the announcer advises 30 seconds to go, and it’s now or never. Months of training and the moment has arrived.

Buzzzz

IMG_3280And the race begins. Strava timer activated. Fitbit timer activated. It takes nearly 20 seconds to actually get past the start line, as the pool of about 2000 runners edges forward. Eventually reaching pace, the crowd moves as one along the road and towards the hill – one that I struggled with early on, but have done countless times and now I can handle it. Running along familiar terrain almost seems like just another day training. Only with hundreds of runners surrounding me, and hundreds of supporters cheering on the sidelines.

Finding a steady pace, I put one foot after another and feel comfortable and managing it. The drink station approaches and I always struggle to run and drink without choking, but I know the importance of hydration, especially fighting off a cold.

Round and back, past the 10km mark – nearly half way. I still feel comfortable, and notice my time (about 54 mins) and mentally note that already I have done a faster 10km than last year when I was running the 10km event. It also means that I’m on track towards my target finish time. Trying to pace myself with a few runners just ahead of me, I gradually realise they are getting a little further ahead, and also a number of other runners begin to pass me.

IMG_3301A group of supporters has a basket with lollies/ candy of some sort, so I grab one in hopes that a sugar fix will spur me on. I’m not particularly out of breath, or sore in the legs or knees, just a bit fatigued overall. Keep moving the feet, one after the other. It’s tough going for a little while, and soon I realise that it’s only about 3km to go and it hits home that I’m nearly there, and I know I can make it. My pace picks up a little and I pass familiar landmarks as the finish draws nearer.

Approaching the home stretch, the crowd of supporters thickens and the cheering and atmosphere carry me through the last few hundred meters. Suddenly the Finish line is in sight and I just keep moving towards it,  sights and sounds blurred into the background. I don’t even register the time on the giant clock, though I know I’ve beat 2 hours.IMG_3311

Elation and exhaustion as I cross the line and stop to walk it off and catch my breath. Emotion takes over me for a moment. My running buddies Ms T and Mr J help me with water and congratulatory hugs. We made it!

Time to relax and celebrate after a long journey.

It Runs in the family

It runs in the family

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Team ‘JATs’ – we all did it!

Race time has arrived

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It’s starting to look a lot like a Marathon

IMG_3262Promotional signs crop up around the streets near the race. Marquees from clubs and merchandise stalls line the pop-up event headquarters. Parking restrictions and road closures in place. Forecast: Sunny, slight breeze, 12C/54F overnight, high of 20C/68F. Excited and nervous athletes buzz around the area.

Approaching the registration desk to collect my race number, it starts to feel real. Really real. Laminated signs designate the various distances: Marathon (42.2km). Nope – too far! 10km run. Nope – too short! Half-marathon (21.1km). Ah yes – that’s Just Right.

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Race numbers and promos

The cheery volunteer looks up my name and pulls out my race badge, handing it to me with four safety pins and a promotional visor. I suddenly recall that I used a cheeky name when registering, way back in March! Seems so long since that day I committed to participate in this event. And I convinced my teenagers to join in on the shorter 5km distance.

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Event headquarters

Tapering

Deliberate winding back of activity to rest the body. Sleep well, eat well. Shorter runs at slower speeds. After many months of early alarms and smelly laundry, all the preparation has reached a head and now time for restoration before the big day. And indeed to take the opportunity for some pampering after so much hard work – a massage and a facial just to look and feel my best.


Fortunately through the months, injury and illness have not found me. Ironically now, at the 24-hours-to-go stage, I suffer from congestion and the onset of a head cold. Perhaps it’s all catching up with me. A trip to the health food store for some high dosage treatment, plenty of fluids and a quiet day will hopefully see me improve by the time I make an appearance at the Start line. No matter what state I’m in, I anticipate that the excitement of the day and the festive atmosphere will buoy my spirits and carry me along the path.

Race day preparation checklist:

  • Running clothes laid out (not simply for fashion statement, but practical to avoid chafing etc) IMG_3149
  • Running shoes ready (have opted for my older pair to avoid the blisters my current pair give me)
  • Phone and Fitbit charged up
  • Sunglasses and hat
  • Water bottle and energy drink prepared (perfect timing as the container is nearly empty)
  • Towel and spare clothes for afterwardsIMG_3204
  • Cash for post-race celebrations (perhaps most important of all!)

Now, have I forgotten anything? Seems like I usually do… Oh yes, Smile and Have Fun! Most important. Am I ready for this? As ready as I’ve ever going to be! I’ve enjoyed the training and the increased fitness, making friendships and pushing beyond my limits. A big Thank You and best wishes to all my running buddies (you know who you are) and moral support crew! I look forward to seeing you all at the Start line.

And I can’t leave out my target finish time. I’m aiming for under 2 hours, preferably closer to 1 hr 50-55. But ultimately, whatever the time, I want to get across the finish, and enjoy the atmosphere along the way.

Words of wisdom, from back at the start of the journey

Words of wisdom, from back at the start of the journey.

Effort paying off

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For many runners, the letters ‘PB’ hold a certain magic

IMG_3193For anyone who’s not sure about it, Personal Best (PB) happens when you’ve run a certain distance in a faster time than previously.

Sometimes they come gradually, shaving a few seconds off each week. Other times they come in leaps and bounds. After staying a certain pace for a while, or fluctuating faster and slower over time, suddenly that time can improve by 30 seconds or even more. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it feels like a just reward for all that hard work finally paying off.

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For the first time, my 5km result came in under 25 minutes! And about 40 seconds off my previous best – a big jump and after a lot of hard work.


All variety of training: IMG_3240

long and slow, short and fast, intervals, hills…

solo, with friends, with training groups…

yoga, boot camp, walking…

sunrises, sunsets, rainy, cold, windy…

Distances slowly increasing from 10 to 15 and up to 17.5km – nearly reaching the half marathon point of 21.1km. Lots of steps and hours in the build up.

And in a seemingly impossible, certainly improbable accomplishment, the following week I shaved another 20 seconds off my time. Making for a full minute faster than just a few weeks earlier.

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All the support and encouragement goes a long way, from running friends, non-running friends, family, colleagues etc. And great to make new friends along the way and share each small victory on the way to the big event.

A cursory glance at the official ‘training guide’ recommendations and it pleases me to learn that it’s nearly time to start tapering back a little on the training in the couple weeks leading up to the event. Just some nice easy running to keep the momentum going, but giving the muscles etc a good rest.

Thoughts turn to event day – Sunshine Coast marathon on 21 August. Race strategy on the day. Anticipated pace and finish time. Weather conditions. What to wear. Perhaps most importantly, How to celebrate afterwards.

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The journey of a thousand miles, or even 21.1km, begins with the first step.

Getting closer

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Running, yoga, boot camp. Eat. Sleep.

Seems I have been so busy running, there’s hasn’t been time to blog! Now only 3.5 weeks to go…

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Sunrise… worth getting out of bed for

Much of my time and energy has gone into training for the upcoming half marathon. Overall I feel pretty ready – ready as I’ll ever be – and have enjoyed the journey. It used to be a somewhat of an effort to get up early once a week to train, whereas now on the days that I don’t have to get up early, it’s a bonus. Though seeing the sunrise over the ocean has a magical charm to it.

Already I’m looking beyond the horizon thinking ‘what happens afterwards?’. How much will I continue to run (not as much I suspect!), will I do other activities, will I train for another event? I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie with my running buddies and meeting other new people along the way.

 


Sunset... never get tired of this view

Sunset… never get tired of this view

It’s the month of July and most years I partake in a social awareness campaign called ‘Dry in July’ – as in No Alcohol for the whole month.  This year in particular I find it ideal timing to fit in with my training, and feel all the better for it. I have had a couple lapses for special occasions (never said it was iron clad!), but otherwise the wine will have to wait.

The plan is to extend ‘July’ for a few more weeks into August, then enjoy a big celebration post event. These days, my beverage of choice is not cabernet sauvignon, but electrolyte replacement drink! (Not to worry, I suspect the situation is temporary and will revert to normal in due course.)

 

 


Numbers crunching…

Stats (over the last 6 weeks or so):

Average km per week: 36

And another sunrise over the river with a bank of clouds

And another sunrise over the river with a bank of clouds

Longest run: 15.3km

Fastest time for 5km: 25:30

Average weekly steps: 120,000

Average daily flights of stairs: 22

And the best part – calories burned per day: 2400

Injuries: 0 (very pleased about this one)

 

 

 

 


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Post-training session when the local radio crew turned up with snacks

 

More promotion of the Sunshine Coast Marathon is evident all around, starting with social media and continuing with radio an tv crews coming along to check out the morning run sessions.

And the news crew is also interested in what's we're up to

And the news crew is also interested in what the runners are up to

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countdown: 6 weeks to half-marathon

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6-week countdown

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Starting out

Late Sunday afternoon along the beachfront and plenty of people around enjoying the mild ‘winter’ day, about 15C. Waves gently crashing provide a serene backdrop, interrupted by the occasional speeding motorcyle. Popular pastimes include a barbecue with mates, birthday drinks at the pub, or taking selfies against the backdrop of the gradually descending sun into pinks and oranges. The paths have no shortage of walkers/ runners/ strollers/ cyclists either.

In my quest to train for a 21km run in six weeks’ time, my chosen activity on this day is running 14km. Up until recent times, running predominantly took the form of an individual, solo activity, with the exception of weekly Parkruns. Though even that was really running by myself, surrounded by a hundred other runners. However, the new norm has become running with others, in a duo, trio or larger group. For today’s run, it’s a solo event.

In preparation for the longer distance, my feet are given a trial run (no pun intended!) of a tactic I’ve heard others undertake to avoid blisters: double layering of socks. The theory is that the feet won’t rub against the shoes with extra padding, or something along those lines. Earbuds in, it’s now a choice to listen to podcast or music. And the choice goes to music. Less concentration required and doesn’t matter if there’s background noise or distractions. Getting into the groove I can let my mind wander off into any direction, so long as my feet keep moving in the right direction.

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Getting dark by the end

A main advantage of training with other more experienced runners, is maintaining an even, steady pace, and reasonably fast one at that – well certainly faster than I have been capable of thus far. During the course of the run, I feel myself struggling and can tell that my pace is uneven but keep moving forward. Light quickly fading now it’s a push to make back to the starting point.

Checking the stats (ah yes, the handy technology of Fitbit and Strava to tell me all the details) afterwards, I discovered that I had done the distance in the same time as the previous week with Ms T. Indeed the pace was faster and slower in parts, but in the end I made it. As a thirst quencher, I take advantage of my prize – if I have it why not use it – and indeed it goes down smoothly. The double-sock theory doesn’t seem to have made any difference and the same blisters appear in the same places. Next theory, anyone?

This is as close as anyone needs to get to my blisters!

This is as close as anyone needs to get to my blisters!


And in other training news this week… 

My efforts were rewardIMG_2948ed with a PB at the Kawana Parkrun (my 75th run as well) on Saturday – 25:30 for 5kms. Pretty happy with that – and hope to keep progressing and get under 25 soon…


IMG_2885The regular Tuesday morning Atlas SC marathon training session gave us the thrill of hills again. Nothing like killing your legs before work in the morning! But  I couldn’t resist sneaking in a photo of the sunrise – well it’s blurry because I was on the move, but a nice memory of the morning (nicer than the memory of those hills!).


IMG_2934Boot camp also beckoned, a fresh 9C near the lighthouse at Point Cartwright, but quickly warming up with moving around. Though my legs weren’t greatly afflicted, my arms and abs took the brunt of the morning session that included skipping rope, push ups, planks and
steps.

This outdoor boot camp is just one of many in the area, and rotates the venue depending on weather conditions and the activities. When out running, I’ve often come across these boot camps, with about 5-15 participants. An observation is that the greater majority of ‘recruits’  seem to be female and not many males. Why, I wonder? Seems like a ‘guy’ thing to do – rough, rugged, challenging. Just interesting.

Mixing it up a bit

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Parkrun – Town of Seaside 1st anniversary

IMG_2858Parkrun has a strong presence in this area, and one that I hadn’t been to has just completed it’s first year of operation. Along with my companions Ms T and Mr J, we travelled a little ways up the road to check out course.

Having previously been spotted by photographers at other Parkrun events, we chuckled to ourselves as once more the local press ‘shot’ us and we ended up in the local paper as part of the article.IMG_2857

As part of the celebrations of the day, cake was provided and a number of raffle prizes, donated by local businesses. Luck would have that my number was drawn, and I won a prize that I really had no idea what to do with… a protein drink mixture for hydration. Not considering my level of activity ‘serious’ enough to warrant anything such as supplements, I’ve never looked into them. There’s also that health conscience voice asking ‘What is in those drinks anyway?’

Maybe one day I will find myself at a level that warrants such a drink mixture, and now I have one on hand for that day.


There must be more to exercise than running

Sure, running is great, but wouldn’t it be even better to add in some other forms of exercise?

Use some different muscles, in different ways?

The thought at the back of my mind for several months keeps popping up with a squeaky voice ‘Hey you! Stretch those muscles! Join a pilates or yoga class! Or a gym!’. While I never overtly disagree  with that voice, I also haven’t been proactive in taking steps towards making it happen.

Fortunately, other people in my life have a more tangible, audible voice and it’s harder to dismiss their requests.

‘Hey, I’m going to a yoga class after work today, do you want to join me?’ 

That’s an offer I can’t refuse, an opportunity just waiting to be taken up. Now where is that yoga mat… Though it’s been at least a couple years since I did a yoga class, and with a different teacher and style, I readily get into the rhythm. Great strength and flexibility work on the core, sides and neck/shoulders. Now to make it back again next time.

‘Hey, I’m going to boot camp tomorrow instead of running, do you want to join me?’ 

Now that’s not something I would go out of my way to seek out, but again, an opportunity to mix it up a bit. Having never done anything like that, I went in with an open mind and with an expectation to work hard and come out sore. Planks. Squats. Lunges. Even the pick up a old tyre and run with it above your head.

Which is more difficult: 10km run in an hour, or 45 minutes of boot camp? 

Certainly I never thought I would consider a 10km run as easy, but indeed, everything is relative. I have discovered muscle groups that have not had much challenge recently until now. Abs. Glutes. Thighs. Shoulders. They have now been challenged… Looking forward to that next ‘easy’ run…


The official training schedule doesn’t make mention of such cross-training activities, but other than the once a week group session, I haven’t made much effort to adhere to the regime.

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It hangs nicely on my fridge. Perhaps it’s time to revisit the recommendations for training.

Ups and Downs

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Ups and Downs

Run up the hill, then down the hill. 

Repeat.

Up the hill, down the hill. 

Repeat.

Uphill. Downhill.

Breathe! Finish and cool down by running a bit further.

Tuesday morning group training and the form of punishment being inflicted has been varied, just to keep the regime interesting. Around 30 dedicated athletes gather in the cool-ish pre-dawn prepared to undertake whatever instructions they are given by the Guru. Today, it is a set of running up and down a hill six times (three up, three down). Total of about 9kms for the morning.

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Already I know a few fellow runners joining in the activity, and some new faces are starting to get familiar. Conversation revolves around predictable running-related topics: Blisters. Sore muscles. Physio appointments. Breathing technique. What’s the next event you’re running in?

IMG_2740Is it worth it when the alarm goes off in the cold and dark? Getting out and pushing hard? Certainly I get satisfaction out of reaching the recommended 10,000 daily steps before even starting work. And if there happens to be some cake around at morning tea time, I don’t mind indulging, with a clean conscience!IMG_2287

Like many athletes, especially runners, I have devices and apps to tell me about my performance. Time. Distance. Maps. Heart rate. For the first time today, I used a new app (new to me) that all the cool kids are talking about…Strava. In addition to all the features listed above, it links up with anyone else using the app in the same place at the same time. Whether I’m ‘friends’ with them or not, their details come up on my screen any mine on theirs. In some ways it’s cool, yet in others I find it a little disturbing in terms of privacy. I guess the old saying ‘if you don’t like it, don’t use it’ applies. Will try it for a while and see how I like it.

Running makes you smarter (True!)

While many claim that runners are crazy, and I can’t deny it, at least there seems to be research evidence at least they aren’t stupid. According to research on The Conversation, the physical benefits of running can actually make you smarter.

Here’s an excerpt explaining why:

While intense exercise will create brain cells, they are basically stem cells waiting to be put to use. Exercise doesn’t create new knowledge; rather, it gives you the mental equivalent of a sharpened pencil and clean sheet of paper. It prepares you for learning, but you have to actively do some learning yourself, too. Integrating exercise into your working or studying day would seem like a sensible option, if this particular benefit is of interest to you.

Well, I haven’t heard any evidence to say it’s not good for you, unless you go to extremes and injure yourself, so I’ll keep getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of another.

Joining training group

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Group training sessions

Training circles expand as I participate in a weekly run session coordinated by the marathon organizers. Conveniently it complements the proposed 12-week pre-marathon training schedule. Well at least one day a week I will be following the recommended guidelines…

IMG_2456Tuesday 6am and about 30 keen souls gather at the designated location. Dividing into groups of fast, intermediate, and well, slow, a leader for each subdivision starts off the runners, who don’t know each other and haven’t run together before. After a 4km warm up, the target is to do intervals. A manageable 30 second sprint, the 30 seconds of recovery jogging. Increase to 60, then 90 seconds of sprinting and recovering. All the way up to 2 minutes of fast paced running and then slowing down to jog. Repeat. Repeat.

Having mainly just done consistent running, I’m not used this style, but can appreciate the benefits. It seems my pace places me somewhere in between the intermediate and slow group, so I end up doing the distance solo, using my watch as timekeeper to start and stop each interval. Eventually we all end up back at the starting point and after brief acknowledgement, everyone disperses to commence the rest of their day.


More running talk, with an article about the increasing popularity of running on the academic based news site The Conversation. The modern concept of ‘running’ as sport/exercise seems to have gained popularity in the 1960s.

In rejecting our lethargy, we will continue to look to the easiest, cheapest and most accessible and enjoyable activity that we can.

The simplicity of putting on a pair of running shoes and heading out the door at any time certainly makes it convenient. Finding those who share in the running fraternity comes from unexpected places. The other day as my son’s friend’s parents dropped off their child, they spotted my Hoka running shoes in sitting on the shoe rack inside the garage and sparked off a conversation about running.IMG_2569

In a wider social benefit, recently Parkrun partnered with the local council to hold a community event – ‘Racism. It stops with me.’ In small ways, running can bring together different groups of people to foster understanding and friendship. In today’s world, we need all the cooperation and respect we can get.


As the time to the half-marathon draw nearer, I continue with clocking up the kilometers and increasing speed as best I can. Inspiration comes from many corners, my regular training buddies, other runners, online communities. And I feel proud to be a role model for my teenage kids and inspire them to challenge themselves and reach  high and do the best they can.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Countdown: 12 weeks to half-marathon

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Singing Running in the rain

Rain mixes with sweat in the pre-dawn haze. Dampness turns to wet, then turns to soaked, before there’s any IMG_2630chance to really think about it. Even though that weather app on my phone predicted 90% rain when I checked the night before, the morning appears starts out overcast but somewhat devoid of rain activity. Hence the prepared rain gear stayed warm and dry in the back of the car.

Indeed, the first 5-6km in 15C dark overcast skies only hovered without threatening moisture. Approaching the turnaround point and the weather app proved its superior prediction ability and the skies let loose generous drops of pent up precipitation. Facing nature doesn’t

I run because it's glamorous... NOT!

I run because it’s glamorous… NOT!

particularly overwhelm me, but thinking of that rain gear in the car makes me annoyed at my arrogance that I wouldn’t require pr

otection.

Work commitments beckon Mr J and Ms T is under the weather (literally), hence my running companion today is a mutual running companion, Ms B. Though not as well acquainted, easy conversation comes as the pavement rolls underfoot. Nominally we have had about the same running pace, though I’m pleasantly surprised that just these last couple months of longer and somewhat faster pace have increased my pace. Other little benefits include adjusting my watch band tighter and clothes fitting looser. My appetite also craves more protein, and more food overall.


Countdown: 12 weeks

Reminders come through that the half marathon at the Sunshine Coast marathon festival (the main goal of this training regime) is now at the 12-week countdown stage. My eyes glaze over as I attempt to absorb a recommended training program chart. When to run. How long to run. When to rest. What other exercises to do. Various such programs exist – this is just one example.

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Not a program-follower by nature, I wonder how closely I should follow these recommendations vs doing my own thing. No doubt I will make it there and across the finish line either way, though it could be a matter of how fast I get there and how well I recover afterwards. Already I’m pleased with the progress I’m making in overall fitness levels, pace and strength. Another 12 weeks of training – let’s see what it take me!

Grateful for two legs to carry me

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A father wearing pink leggings and matching tutu lifts his daughter with a similar outfit to his shoulders.

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Mother’s Day morning and there’s a sea of pink invading the school sports field. Socks, shirts, shorts, caps in shades of pink. Pink hair spray and bright pink lipstick. A pink bra worn over the outside of a shirt.

Women, men and children gather in support of those who have been through the experience of cancer, breast cancer in particular. To commemorate and celebrate those who have come through to the other side, and those who have not.

Among the stalls of sponsors and vendors, pink plastic capes are available for those who feel they require that extra bit of pink to complete their attire for the event. One such customer is a 12-year-old boy. IMG_2541Handing over his $2 he happily wraps the cape around his shoulders, and it hangs down to his ankles. I ask him if running with this somewhat unwieldy accessory might prove difficult or hamper his progress. After a moment’s contemplation, his response is simple and and direct:

‘Maybe a little, but how hard would it be if you were having to go through breast cancer?’

He is my son and knows a couple of women who have been down that road. My daughter runs faster and further than she is usually comfortable with, taking inspiration from the atmosphere of the day and contemplating those who have to endure much worse.


What is the point in running?

Why do I get up when it’s dark and cold and hit the pavement?

Because I can.

IMG_2509I run because I have two legs and two feet that can carry me forward.

I run for those who have endured disease or injury and face obstacles to get up and out there.

I run because of the guy with an awkward gait I see out walking, pushing past his limitation and stilted movements, greeting all passers with a smile and ‘Morning.

I run because of my friend with rheumatoid arthritis who can barely walk from the car to the house without a reasonable amount of discomfort.

I run for my kids, who put their best effort into everything they do and I want to do the same.

For everyone experiencing a physical or mental condition that restricts their activity, I run because I can.