Archive | May, 2017

Run Noosa – Noosa Ultimate Sports Festival

29 May

Sunday morning it was time to get up before the dawn again – this time though, both Dave and I were participating in the 10km running event.  While our run wasn’t scheduled to start until 7.15 due to road closures, where we were staying, and the location of the start line; We had to leave our unit at 5.30am, and walk 2km to the finish line in order to board a shuttle bus to the start line… it sounds complicated but really it went very smoothly and before we knew it we were at the start line. All we had to do from here was run 10km back to the finish again…

Coming into this event I was a little apprehensive.  I was confident over the distance, and had been hoping to run a personal best (a nice flat course, in beautiful weather), however in recent weeks I’ve had a few issues with the lateral part of my knee, or more accurately my Iliotibial Band (ITB) at the height of my knee.  I’ve been seeing a physio, and remedial masseuse to stretch, dry needle, and massage my legs, along with regular exercises to try and strengthen my lazy gluts (in particular). Sometimes a run will be pain free, and other times the pain will be present.  I was unsure what type of run this would be. I was hoping, that because the course was flat, this would be a good run for me, but time would tell.

At the start line, Dave and I passed time by going for a short walk and stretching – and taking the obligatory pre-race photo.  I tried to spot familiar faces in the sea of 600+ runners to no avail… before too long it was time to start.

It was a rolling start as the pathway out was narrow, and merged with the half marathoners and they didn’t want 600 people all at once on the course.  So, a steady stream of us passed over the start line, of course our time didn’t start until we crossed that magic black timing mat.  The first little bit was comfortable, and I say little bit because that is about all it was… not 500m into the run the pain was present… and got progressively worse. Dave and I had hoped to run together but it was not going to be – I insisted that he go on ahead of me and I’d meet him at the finish line. He gave me a dubious look, probably because we weren’t even 1km in – but I assured him that I would finish and I would see him there.  The funny (not so funny) thing about this knee pain is how specific it is – I get limited to no pain swimming, cycling and walking, but when I start running it is like someone is twisting a knife in my knee… so I knew that I could finish the 10km by walking if nothing else. Still, I wanted to run it as much as I could.

From the 1km mark though it became obvious to me that this was going to have to be a day where I simply enjoyed the sunshine and the fact I was out in it. There would be no continuous running. There would be no personal best. I reminded myself at this point that I was still fortunate to even be outside and able to participate in this event, and still remain confident of completing 10km without a doubt in my mind – a privilege still that many are unable to do. I was also wearing my “Never give up” MND awareness tights so that made deciding to walk difficult… but I had decided that the fact I was still on course meant I was not giving up. Once I got over this it was time to do the best I could in the circumstances.

The intervals began. I would run until the pain came (which ended up often being only about 30 seconds) then I would walk until the pain went… and I would repeat it.  Obviously I was passed by many.  The interesting thing to me is how so many see that when you are walking you are defeated and unable to continue. So many people encouraged as they went past – keep going, start running again, don’t stop now, you’re doing so well…. So many sentiments… but all struck me as people suggesting I’d given up. On the contrary, I felt that the fact I was out there was an indicator that I absolutely had not given up, as I was participating after all.  While this was likely not what they were saying it took quite a bit for me to mentally be okay with this. Because ultimately, I did want to be running, and aerobically I felt brilliant (my average heart rate was only 138bpm!) but I did not want to risk making my injury any worse, knowing my actual goal race is 15 weeks away (Sunshine Coast Half Ironman).  I simply didn’t want to “break” myself in order to complete the event. As a competitive person by nature, I found this quite difficult!

So, for 7km – until about the 8km mark I did intervals, run a bit, walk a bit.  I had been watching my time (what else is there to do) and I was actually pretty happy with the pace I was setting in view of my situation.  I was looking at probably an 80 minute 10km.  As I hit the 8km mark though the time running was increasingly short – and I decided it would probably be best if I just tried to power walk the rest.  I still couldn’t quite bring myself to do this, and tried a couple more times to get running without pain to no avail. Sadly I admitted to myself walk it must be and got on with the job.  I made three exceptions to this rule – two were for the event photographers (because ultimately, you have to look like you’re running in a running event)…. and the third was as I approached the finish chute.

As I came near the end of the run I saw my first familiar face – hey Jade!!  Thanks for the cheer – sorry I was walking and looking like I was doing it too easy – see the above for the reason why…. Anyway the all too familiar bridge into the home straight then presented itself (this is the same section as the end of the Noosa Triathlon), I decided I’d just run the rest no matter the cost… thankfully while the pain was present it didn’t seem to get any worse – maybe that’s because I could see the finish line…  It was here I saw my second familiar face – hey Berty!! Thanks for the cheer! I also saw some #hurting sucks signs – and was reminded that not only does hurting suck, but I was wearing my fisiocrem visor and was still a fisiocrem athlete no matter what my time.

The finish chute was a welcome relief – mostly because it meant that I had started, and finished the event. While it was not a personal best, I was pretty happy with a 76 minute finish time – given the little amount of continuous running I’d actually been able to do.  I phoned Dave to see where he was – and was really pleased to hear he’d managed to finish in 63 minutes – champion!! We located each other in the recovery area, and then set about walking the 2km back home (via a quick chat to Berty to thank him for the cheer).

Run Noosa definitely wasn’t the race I set out to do, but I’m still thankful I was well enough to participate.  My goal now is to get some further rehab on this knee/ITB.  To strengthen my gluts so that I can better support my lower limbs running, and ensure that I put my best feet forward for the Sunshine Coast Half Ironman in 15 weeks.

runnoosa

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Swim Noosa – Noosa Ultimate Sports Festival

29 May

Participating in organised events can get a little expensive…. So to save costs this time, we decided to drive up the morning of the event so we’d only stay in Noosa Saturday night (it’s a multi-day event). It seemed like a good idea prior, but I have to say that the 4.30 alarm didn’t seem quite such a good idea… However, having laid everything out the night before we were as ready as we could be and were able to climb into the car at 5am for the 2hr drive north.

I’d signed up for the 2km open water swim.  It’s about half ironman distance, so the practice was going to be good for me. Check-in was easy, I received my bright yellow swim cap, got my number on my arm, and then it was time for the first glimpse of the water… to my excitement it was flat!! It looked like there was nothing more than a shore break! Now I only had to hope it stayed that way until after my swim. The 3.8km swimmers were already in the water – and the first of them were coming back in.  So it was nice to watch them finish before heading to my start line.  I also appreciated hearing the first place athlete state that the water was a little choppy out around the point before coming back in – this actually meant that I was prepared for this mentally as well. They talked of seeing dolphins and fish – so it could be an interesting swim!

I set off for my start line at about 7.50 – a short walk away from main beach to Little Cove – the next beach up towards the Noosa National Park.  Again, a shore break was all that was present. Relief. I was looking for anyone I knew prior to starting, but alas saw no-one so kept all my nerves to myself. Before too long, and after a bit of warming up, we were marshalled to our start line. Mark Beretta was our starter and he wished us well before the air horn signalled that it was time to get moving!

I felt pretty comfortable heading out. It was my first ever ocean swim without the rest of the triathlon to follow – so I knew I could push myself that bit harder, but did wonder how to find that line to ensure that I didn’t blow up while out in the middle of the ocean, but could keep on pushing. Regardless, I found a stroke rate I seemed fairly okay with, that felt like I was pushing myself sustainably.  As I rounded the first buoy to the right it was time to head out to the deep – and straight into the sun.  Sighting here was difficult as seeing the buoys was really tough. My idea of following others seemed lost as I could see no other swimmers around me – the fast ones had taken off, and the others were behind me – I was sitting in the middle of the pack.  I was relieved to hit the turning buoys as I knew now it was just time to head back to the beach (even if that was about 1km or so away).

After turning and heading back it was here I found the water the choppiest. I told myself that it was simply the way it was and I just had to get on with it.  I found it helped to count the waves hitting my head rhythmically to help steady my thinking.  So as the chop hit 1, 2, 3 it was then time to breathe – I was getting about 3 bashes in the head to my two arm strokes.  I do try and breathe every second stroke in the open water – this is a coping strategy for me. Having previously been whacked and literally swum over, I like to know that I have “air in reserve” should it be required.  I’m not sure if this slows me down in anyway, but it is a system that works for me, and reduces any anxiety so I’ll keep it up for now. As the elite swimmers passed me I was thankful that I was obviously heading in the right direction and maintaining a pretty good line.

When I could see Noosa SLSC I was stoked. Time to head on in.  I had refrained from looking at my watch during the race, I just wanted to keep my stroke strong and steady.  As I saw the SLSC though I tried to up my pace a bit more, telling myself it was time to finish this off and get in. I also told myself that if I kept moving there was a chance I would see my friend Sarah before her start (I had 50 mins from my start to when she had to leave – she was doing her first 1km OWS). So, with that in mind I tried to kick that bit harder.

As I approached the beach I saw my first fish and saw that the ground was starting to appear clear again.  I always remember to keep swimming though as despite seeing the ground, sometimes it’s still deeper than I think.  I could feel the surge of some wave swells behind me but couldn’t find myself getting the big benefit of any of them. As I breathed to my right I saw people standing next to me, so knew I could now touch the bottom if needed.  Getting up and running after swimming is always a challenge as you try and shift the blood from your upper body to your legs, and accompanied by the pull of the water as it heads back out it can be quite difficult, but I managed to get up and going a bit.  I heard Sarah cheer for me as I reached the beach (so it was nice to know that I hadn’t missed her start!!).  As I ran (or should that be staggered) up the beach and crossed the timing mat I found my watch, hit stop and then looked at my time.

I was so pleased!! I managed a 43:46 2km – well my watch told me that I did 2.2km (sometimes I like to go a bit further to get my money’s worth…. If only I was more accurate at swimming buoy to buoy!!).  For me this was a sub 2:00/100m swim – something that I have only really done once or twice in training (broken up into drills) and NEVER in an event and continuous swim. I was thrilled. I didn’t care where I placed, because I really only ever compete with myself (though prefer not to be last – and 20th out of 35 wasn’t last). Nothing like doing a personal best swim on race day!!

So from there I got to wish Sarah well in her swim, and return the favour of cheering for her as she finished in a SUPER 21 minutes!!

Then it was a beautiful day of rest for the afternoon. 25 degrees outside, 24 degrees in the water.  Just a stunning day which makes you wonder how it could possibly be winter in just five days…  given we’d been up well before the dawn it was an early night ready to race again in the morning.

swimnoosa

Greenbelt Half Marathon…21.1km…Race Recap

1 May

My sister Helen, once told me that she wanted to run a half marathon. It was a bucket list item. I offered to help cross that off her list and tried to convince her to sign up for one. After a failed attempt when we came to Adelaide for the Adelaide Half Marathon last year, we successfully managed to agree to giving one a go this year. So, on Sunday 30th April you found us, standing at the start line of the Adelaide Greenbelt Half Marathon.halfmarathonpre

We weren’t alone at the start line, we’d managed to gather a crew that included my husband Dave, her husband Scott, Scott’s Dad Ian and another friend Jonathon. Together we huddled at the start line, discussing what times we hoped we might achieve, and generally just chatting to pass the time and catch up.  I was most interested to find out how long Helen thought she might complete the half in, because, while I had said I’d love to run it with her, I was a little scared that perhaps running with her was actually out of my ability… she casually stated that she had done a “comfortable 10km in 1 hour” recently – and knowing my all-time PB at that distance was 1:05 I started to get a little concerned… though she assured me she couldn’t maintain that speed over the longer distance, and had never run more than 17km.

Without much more time to think about it, we headed to the start line – trying to self-seed ourselves a little we headed for the back of the pack, and let Scott and Jonathon head to nearer the start line.  Right on 8.00am we started.  The course itself had to be altered after heavy rains in Adelaide a few months back knocked out one of the bridges into town.  This meant we essentially had to run a bit of an extra circle near the start line, to ensure we could finish in an appropriate location.  This meant lots of little ups and downs, and what felt like we were running around in circles. When looking at my GPS tracker later however, it didn’t look as bad as it felt.  As we set off I commented to Helen that we were maintaining a decent pace, and if we kept it up I’d be headed for a personal best – but we chugged along, a little slower on the ups, while trying to maximise any downs.

At about 3.5km we saw Scott, on the other side of the river – and a good few kilometres ahead of us.  We cheered for him as loud as we could (he didn’t hear) as we continued on our way. At 4.5km we found our first water station – and I was introduced to what would become a tradition – the water station selfie.  I had told Helen that I would be walking through the water stations – grabbing a glass, ensuring I got three good mouthfuls, and then going again – its all of about 10 steps of walking, but I find it necessary to ensure that I don’t inhale all the water, end up choking, and having to stop anyway.  So, with this in mind, Helen and I grabbed our glasses, said “cheers” and “cheese” and took a drink and a gel.waterstationselfies

Not long after this we caught up to Dave.  I was quite surprised by this. He ran with us for a bit – I told him that I thought Helen was going to kill me today – as we were still maintaining a pace that would have me do a PB. While I wasn’t specifically complaining about doing a PB, I wasn’t sure if I could maintain it either…  We did discuss that perhaps we’d kill each other as we both stubbornly wouldn’t want to slow the other down… We finally left the suburb we started in (Athelstone) at about the 10km mark, as we began to follow the River Torrens down Linear Park and headed to the city. Helen and I continued in much the same fashion running consistently, stopping for selfies at the next water station (10.5km) and then again at 13.5km – though that selfie Helen said we had to look a little tireder… 😉  The trip along the Torrens was really quite pretty. I have to admit that the short sharp uphills started to take their toll after a while (although I was known on one particularly steep hill to actually say “Thank you Emma for putting hill repeats in my training program” – I felt much more prepared to run up hills with my recent training). I did however appreciate the long slow downhills after the short ups, which gave us a chance to get our breath back after each pinch. The path was nice, it was well signed and the occasional volunteer was always encouraging.

As we hit the final water station (and of course the final water station selfie) I suggested to Helen that she may find the next few kms tougher, but we just had to keep hanging in there.  Historically for me this is the no-man’s land – not quite close enough to be almost finished, but with a few kms in your legs you’re starting to feel pretty tired – the mental battle here can be challenging. However, the kilometres had been ticking over fairly consistently with the company and chatting, and she was quick to remind me that I needed to just keep thinking positive.  She also was now in unchartered territory – anything beyond this distance was a PB for her and there was no way she was quitting now. Fair enough I said, and again we continued on our way.  At this point we had run the whole way (excluding the 10 steps or so at each water station).  We were still consistently doing 6.25-6.35min/kms…. I was still trying to keep a fairly constant pace, whilst desperately hoping I could maintain it to the end…

At 19km we knew we were now less than 15min from finishing. That spurred us on further. We discussed at what point we hoped to be able to increase our speed a bit more as we approached the finish line…. Helen suggested 20km, I suggested 21km hahaha…. She was still looking strong. I was shaking my head in amazement.  An extremely nasty, short steep hill greeted us at about 21km – and briefly I wondered if I was going to have to walk up a hill for the first time this run, only 100m from finish – however thankfully, despite almost having no air left in my lungs, we crested the hill and headed for the finish line. It was there we saw our impressive cheer squad – and distressingly for me, Helen found yet another faster gear!!  As we saw Helen’s family, my older brother David and his family, my Auntie Dot, Helen’s mother in law, and of course Scott (as he had finished 45 minutes ahead of us!!) we also saw the finish line – what a joy!! I tried desperately to catch up to Helen and together we finished the half marathon.  It was indeed a PB (2:18:01 – beating a PB I set in 2013) – but almost 30-45 minutes quicker than my recent half marathon efforts! I need Helen to run with me more often! Our official time was a little slower than this unfortunately, however it was gun time only, and therefore the fact we started at the back of the pack was to our detriment.

As I pulled up the pain in my left knee was fairly substantial, but otherwise I didn’t feel too bad. I have to say that running with my sister was a wonderful way to undertake a half marathon. The kilometres ticked by quickly, and I really didn’t notice the normal “no man’s land” kilometres of about 17-19km. We managed to finish about 45 minutes after Scott, 30 minutes after Jonathon, just a few minutes ahead of Dave, and Ian rounded us out with an impressive 2.46hr run. Despite her solid run, Helen hasn’t yet displayed an excitement or interest in signing up for another event… so I’ll have to keep working on that 😉

Was great to be able to come home and run with some family, and have some great encouragement from even more family! The scenery was very much a “home” feeling for me – with big gum trees lining the river banks, lush grass banks, and cooler conditions.  The weather was a beautiful 16 degrees on starting, and probably only about 20 degrees when we finished – absolutely perfect. I’m really happy with my PB time, and very thankful I was able to hang on to keep up with my sister on the day.  It is encouraging to see the consistent training I’m doing paying off.  So, with another half marathon under my belt, it’s time to prep for the next events… stepping stones in the training for the next Half Ironman on the Sunshine Coast in September.

 

greenbelt half

Plenty of PB’s to be found on this course

finishgreenbelthalf

This is me looking distressed as Helen finds another gear (and plenty of air) only about 50m to go!

finishwithhelen

With some of our cheer squad

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Most of the runners – Dave, Ian, Scott, Helen and I (Jonathon had already left)