Lament of the Lonely Runner

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She runs alone

with no partner, friend, coach or team

to while away the hours

as the kilometres plod by

 

Time in her head

her own company she keeps

She sings to herself

to keep the rhythm in her feet

and silently screams at the voices

that tell her to stop

that she can’t do it

that she shouldn’t be there

 

She revisits past troubles

and reviews ones yet to come

She rewrites past conversations

and rehearses ones that have to come

 

It has always been thus

and she has met the challenges

she has set for herself

and overcome them

Alone

 

And she has not minded

the time alone

She is alone

but not lonely

 

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Until today

 

Today the loneliness strikes hard

Even the usual fleeting connections

with strangers on the track

a smile, a wave, a breathless ‘Hello’

are rare on this cold and blustery winter day

as sensible people stay indoors

curled up on the couch

watching their footy team play

 

Perhaps, in these days of reduced social interaction

this introvert has had too much of a good thing

like an overly restrictive diet

As coffee dates and drinks and dinners out

have all but disappeared

perhaps loneliness has put a foot in the door

 

The loneliness in her life

finds its way onto the track

 

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As the kilometres of bitumen

pass endlessly by

under her pounding feet

she questions this life choice

this pursuit of isolation

And she knows

 

Because loneliness is hard

but also all too easy

 

She questions her value as a friend

to all but a tiny few

Reaching out is easy when one feels

one’s value to the other

 

She knows she is appreciated

for her willingness to help

and her acts of generosity

She knows she is respected

for her tenacity in the face of challenge

and her passion for justice

 

But she longs to be loved

for her sense of humour

and her addiction to American late night talk shows

for her innate childish silliness

and her ridiculous dance moves

for her love of cosplay

and musicals and themed birthday parties

 

She wishes her annoying traits

that keep her from friendship

could be softened and understood

couched in an understanding

of her shyness and social awkwardness

her need for order

and her belief that life should be fair and just

 

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As she reaches the end

the thoughts ease for now

and she knows

tomorrow she will lace these shoes again

and run

alone again

 

Always alone

but not always lonely

 

 

Running On THE Road

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The Great Ocean Road is one of the most iconic stretches of tarmac in the world.

Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932, it is both a testament to human endeavour and a striking memorial to those who lost their lives in the First World War.

The Road is featured in many a Top 10 traveller list and thousands of tourists traverse it every day in buses, cars, campervans and motorcycles.

What they can’t do, if they value their lives, is travel the road on foot.

Except for one special day in the year.

The Great Ocean Road Running Festival is a two day event in May incorporating races for everyone from the 1.5km Kids’ Gallop to the 60km Ultra Marathon. There are also multiple distances for walkers.

The shorter races are held around the township of Lorne on the Saturday and has quite the party atmosphere.

But it’s the Sunday that is special. On Sunday, the Great Ocean Road is closed to traffic between Lorne and Apollo Bay and thousands of runners and walkers line up to complete the 23km Half Marathon, the 44km Marathon or the 60km Ultra Marathon. (Yes, they run the Half and Full Marathons hard here, tacking on an extra couple of kilometres.)

With a 24km run on the training schedule, it seemed logical to run the GOR Half Marathon instead. Run much the same distance and gain some bling at the end? Easy decision.

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Very nice bling it is, too.

I think because I only saw it as a training run, I didn’t really take the run all that seriously. I didn’t chase up accommodation, choosing instead to travel from home on the morning. The night before, I was wondering about the wisdom of that decision as I was facing a 5am departure. Meh. Who sleeps before a race anyway?

The Marathon and Ultra Marathon both kick off from Lorne and finish in Apollo Bay (the Ultra taking a detour or two off the road to add the extra distance). The Half Marathon starts (predictably) half way at Kennett River. Shuttle buses run from both Lorne and Apollo Bay to the start line.

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Kennett River – Not a bad place to start a race

For some, this is not the optimum start to a race. The Great Ocean Road is a very windy road and those of a travel sickness disposition can find the bus ride to the start a bit unsettling. Hard to face 23km of running when you feel like you’re going to throw up at the start line.

We’ve been having some unseasonably warm and sunny days this Autumn but typically, Mother Nature decided to pull out a cold, misty and windy day for Race Day.

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I loved it. I am most definitely a cold weather runner. I am also a winter beach person. I would much rather a walk beside a wintry, wild ocean than a warm, crystal blue lagoon.

I had registered in the 2.5 hours plus group since I’ve only just got back into a proper training program and it being a bit further than a normal half marathon.

I surprised myself and finished in 2:15:17. I had a great run. So much so, that I actually got a bit of a shock when I reached the 18km aid station. I was beginning to wonder if I’d miscounted the stops until I saw a walking track sign saying “5km to Apollo Bay”. Only 5km to go? Sweet!

Now, that time of 2:15:17 is the actual time it took from the start line to the finish – my “net time”. My “official” time is more than two minutes longer than that.

Results

This is the injustice of the humble runner. You put yourself at the back of the group and then it takes you several minutes to reach the start line when the gun goes off. I noticed a runner on the list who crossed the finish line a few minutes after I did but her official time was almost the same as her net time. This means she stood right on the line at the start but took longer to run the race than I did. Sometimes I wish I had that level of nerve. You can see the difference the time makes in the rankings between the two times.

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Feels like a half marathon just to get to the start line

Of course, it must be confessed that as a white-bibbed more-than-2.5-hour runner, there was some measure of psychological boost whenever I overtook a red-bibbed less-than-2.5-hour runner who got to start closer to the line than I did. There’s always a silver lining.

The Great Ocean Road Marathon is included in the book “50 Place to Run Before You Die” and I can definitely say it’s a run to be experienced. Of course, the great thing is that you don’t even have to run it. With the option to walk 5km, 10km or the Half Marathon (or, if you’re a bit sneaky and can walk fast, even the full Marathon), it’s an experience open to more than marathoners. Put it on your bucket list.

 

 

 

Now, what else is in that book….?

The MWMW Project

I’ve been conspicuously absent (or inconspicuously depending on how much you missed me) from the blogosphere this past year. Some of that is due to gaining a part time teaching contract and having my brain preoccupied with how to teach a subject of which I have no real knowledge (Physical Education – wot a laff!). Mostly, though, it is due to a special project I decided to undertake this year that somewhat consumed me not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.

The Mad Wannabe Marathon Woman Project

Since I was reaching a big UH-OH birthday this year, I decided the best way to celebrate it would be to take on a massive physical challenge. Because that’s more fun than a party, right?

Yeah, well, anyway…

Some time last year, I mused to a friend (my Spreadsheet Enforcer of earlier years) that I was thinking maybe of trying a marathon for my 50th birthday. And then I forgot about it. Until January this year when an email arrived in my inbox with the subject line: “Are you really sure???” (three question marks would seem to indicate that the Spreadsheet Enforcer certainly wasn’t) and a training spreadsheet attached.

A part of me was not sure. The rational part. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your view of marathons) most of me is completely irrational so I wrote back “Let’s do this!”

And thus began nine months of training.

There were good times – like gaining back the fitness I’d lost after the GMI (Great Moth Incident).

There were bad times – like the times I would run and cry at the same time as the Inner Critic stuck the boot in telling me I was not a real runner and I had no hope of running a marathon.

There were the highs – like shaving 10 minutes off my previous time for a hilly trail half-marathon I took on as one of my training runs.

There were the lows – like the foot injury that people took an unseemly delight in telling me they hoped wasn’t plantar fasciitis but that it probably was and in which case my running career was over. (It wasn’t and it was fixed with a new pair of shoes.)

Number One Training Moment

Through the wonders of Facebook, I was convinced by a couple of friends to attend a running retreat weekend they were organising on Magnetic Island. Gosh, a weekend in Queensland away from the freezing September weather in Victoria so I could run with Olympian marathon runner Steven Moneghetti? Tough. Tough, tough choice.

It changed my life. Literally. You can read about the impact here.

Running for…

To add incentive to my completion of the marathon, I signed up as a member of the Run 4 Refugees Team, raising money for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. It was something I’d wanted to do last year but realised that if I could save it for a full marathon, I’d be likely to raise more money.

I’ve always found it more motivational to complete a challenge for someone other than myself.

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M-DAY

Thinking an early drive to Melbourne with the whole family sounded like not much fun, we booked into a hotel apartment not too far from the start line the night before. It also had the advantage of being able to walk some of the course before the day to determine the best vantage points for the family to cheer on their mad wife and mother.

Marathon Day started early and alone. Seriously, it was less stressful to leave a husband and three boys in bed and get only myself to the start line than have them accompany me. Besides, there was something peaceful about hopping on that tram in the early dawn light with only other runners (and the occasional party-goer just heading home).

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Jets and balloons over the finish line at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

At the start line (after a successful last minute visit to the portaloo – only other long distance runners will understand the significance of this achievement), I heard the starter chat to Steve Moneghetti. It was somehow comforting to know he was there. ‘I must make sure I find him at the finish’, I thought.

I stood in the marathon runner crowd towards the back. It was a tactic to ensure I started slowly and didn’t get over-excited and run too hard at the beginning.

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So far back it took me 3 minutes to cross the start line

The start gun went and we were off. Which meant walking for those of us at the back. I think I got up a jog just after I crossed the start line. Just as well I wasn’t trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.

For the first kilometre, I was struggling not to cry. I know this would be normal for the last kilometre, but for me it was the start of the race that reduced me to tears. I was finally here.

I settled into a steady pace, telling myself regularly ‘Slow down. Don’t go too fast early.’ At the 3km point I passed the hotel where we were staying. I looked up at the windows of our apartment, half expecting to see some familiar faces and an encouraging wave. Half expecting because, really, it was only 7.20am. Sure enough, not a sign. Waaaay too early for my male household to be stirring. 🙄

They did make an appearance eventually. Conveniently at the 22km mark at a bit over halfway, just when I needed a bit of a boost. A wave and a cheer and I was off along the waterfront for the next down-and-back leg.

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It was on this leg that I met a man attempting the same feat but in his case he was celebrating an UH-OH birthday ten years more than mine. This was an aspect I loved about the marathon – meeting new people, having a chat, mutual support.

The family appeared again around the 30km mark, another point at which a boost was appreciated. I called out, “Feeling pretty good!” and I was. Then. A couple of kilometres down the road, things changed.

My calves started cramping. I ran for a bit and then thought, maybe it would help if I stopped for a minute and stretched. So I did. Big mistake. As soon as I stopped, my whole thigh cramped badly. ‘Uh oh,’ I thought. ‘Nope, just gotta keep moving.’ I hobbled off and once I was moving the cramp in my thigh eased although my calves and feet were still cramping.

For the last 10km of the race, I ran with my calves and feet cramping on and off. I had an interesting running style when the calf cramp would set in but I kept moving, even running up the ‘hills’ they threw into the mix in the last 5 kilometres. I was in pain but still managed something of a grimacing smile for the photographers.

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The finish line for the Melbourne Marathon is on the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It would be almost impossible not to feel uplifted and excited entering the ground and running a lap of the oval to the finish line. And I did feel it. But I was also tired and I was hurting so my pace remained mostly steady. Until I hit the final straight to the finish line and then could not ignore the Need for Speed. I moved onto the grass and shot past the man running in front of me to fly over the finish line. I suspect I may have spoiled his expected finish line photo but a girl’s gotta do….

Remember how I thought, ‘Oh, Steve’s here! I must go find him after I finish to thank him for helping me complete my first marathon!’?

Yeah. I forgot.

I was so emotional about actually finishing my first marathon, all I really wanted was to collect my finisher’s medal and find my family which is exactly what I did. (Well, after a little incident on the staircase outside the MCG while I was on the phone to my husband to work out where they were. My legs cramped up and I was hanging onto the rail trying not to swear. People were wonderful. Someone gave me salt tablets, another gave me water, another offered himself for me to lean on while his friends spoke to my husband on my phone and then they helped me up the stairs and waited until my family found me. Runners are lovely people…)

And that was it. I’d done it. My nine-month-long Mad Wannabe Marathon Woman Project was completed.

And I was no longer a Wannabe.

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And…

I finished the marathon in 4:27:37. Since my main aim was to finish and then secondly to do it in under 5 hours, to have finished just under 4 1/2 hours was more than I could ever have dreamed.

I raised $2384 for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, by far so much more meaningful to me than the race result.

I met another Run 4 Refugees runner at a 10km a few weeks later (we were both wearing our shirts). I will always feel part of a special community.

I discovered Steve Moneghetti at a trail run recently and was finally able to say ‘Thank you’ for his part in my finishing the marathon.

And Finally…

I spent nine months saying, “This is my one and only marathon. I just want to do one and cross it off my bucket list.”

I’ve just signed up to do the Gold Coast Marathon next July.

Some people are hopeless….

 

The Flying Beetroot: Looking For What’s Lost

The Flying Beetroot Searching

I’ve lost my Running Mojo. Have you seen it anywhere? I know I had it at the last half-marathon but I haven’t seen it since.

Maybe I left it on the roof of the car and it fell off on the drive home.

Or maybe I actually lost it somewhere in the last few kilometres of the race and it is hanging from a branch of a tree where someone picked it up and hung it in case its owner came back to find it.

I’ve looked everywhere at home. I thought I’d found it when I came across my Run Forrest t-shirt in a drawer a few weeks ago but it was just a trick of the light.

It has been very cold lately. Perhaps it slunk off when I wasn’t looking and is hibernating somewhere.

Sigh.

It’s a mystery.

 

 

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Run Forrest, Run!

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She’s mad, I tell you. Completely bonkers.

That’s me. Talking to me. I do that a lot.

I don’t listen.

Which is how I found myself lining up to run 21km through hilly rainforest* yesterday morning. Some people never learn. At least I had company. My friend Carolyn, otherwise regularly known as the Spreadsheet Enforcer, was lining up with me. Foolish woman.

(*’Rainforest’ in my part of the world does not mean ‘humidity’. Certainly not in winter anyway. It’s cool temperate rainforest.)

Called Run Forrest, it is a race described as follows: “Staged in the hinterland township of Forrest, nestled in the heart of the Otway Ranges, Run Forrest will showcase the region’s world class trails and breathtaking natural beauty – undulating hills, flowing rivers, dense fern gullies and the cool, fresh air of the Otway Ranges.”

Sounds kind of pretty, right?

It was. Pretty damned hard is what it was.

Now, before I get into the whole torturous saga, let me pull my Pollyanna act. On the plus side, for a winter’s day in one of the wettest places in the state, we miraculously scored a mild and sunny day. Also, I did not score any leeches. (That’s for Joanne.)

So, here goes on the rest of the story:

After a meandering loop that took us almost back to the start line (wow, that was a quick 21k!), we were sent up a steep rocky track. Nice.

There was some rather pleasant ferny rainforest with a bit of a hill before a quick jog along the road to the local reservoir.

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The run across the dam wall was pretty easy. (Taking this photo, I said to my then-patient friend, “Sorry, this is what happens when you run with a blogger.”)

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And then off we went into the rainforest proper. And it was beautiful.

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And that’s it for the photos. Because after that it got nasty. Nasty, nasty hills. Steep, muddy and endless. I ran them at first until I couldn’t any more. Besides, I’d reached a point where a long-legged walking stride (I do this weird, doubled-over thing where my face is almost on the ground but it works) was just as fast as the grandma shuffle I had been doing.

At the top, we crossed a road and then! Oh glory! Downhill!!

We’d moved onto the famous Red Carpet, a well-known, heart-stopping mountain bike trail with sharp twisty turns. (No mountain bikes – the beauty of this run is the chance to take to this track without worrying about getting bowled over by Evel Knievel wannabes.)

Well, this was fun!

Until we noticed runners coming the other way. Oh, are you lost? Or are you doing the 10km run?

It took a few minutes for the truth to dawn.

We had to run back up the hill.

Here’s what went on in my head at this point:

Me: ohmygod! ohmygod! ohmygod!

Other Me: Get a grip!

Me: But we have to run back up! We have to run back up! I can’t! I can’t! ohmygod! ohmygod! ohmygod!

Other Me: Oh, for heaven’s sake, chill!! Yes, you have to run back up. But remember that nasty uphill you just ran? You get to run DOWN that one.

Me: ohmyg…. Oh. That’s true.

I wanted a photo of our loop around Lake Elizabeth at the bottom of the hill but I nearly fell in just trying to enjoy the scenery so I concentrated on my feet instead.

We made it back up that hill, actually not as bad as I’d remembered and then it was down the other side, whooping and hollering and doing the ‘flappy bird’ thing around the bends until we emerged near the finish line.

Wooho….wha’?

But…..but……the finish line is that way. Why are you sending us in the opposite direction?

Okay, we’re on the wrong side of the creek and you’re sending us up to the bridge. Okay. Breathe.

We crossed the bridge and looked for the markers to point us to the finish line. Nope. Still in the opposite direction.

I nearly lost it at this point. I got very sooky.

Pfft. That was nothing. Rounding the corner we saw………

……one more hill.

Really??? A hill?? 500m from the finish line??? You evil, nasty, sadistic…..

Nothing for it but to push on. Muttering obscenities under our breath.

Somehow we dug out enough energy to make a (not super fast) sprint to the finish line. I’d joked about joining arms and skipping across the finish line but that was early in the race when it seemed like a fun idea. Twenty-one kilometres later…. not so much.

Run Forrest Result

Equal 70th out of 134 starters in the Female 21km runners, 21st out of 49 in our age group, 50m40s behind the winner. I can live with that.

Would I do it again?

Are you mad?

Hm. Well, you may not be but I clearly am so…………

THANKS: I’d like to express my deepest love and gratitude to my friend Carolyn who is not only the Spreadsheet Enforcer but Mentor and Encourager Extraordinaire. I think I would still have finished the race (given my inherent stubbornness), but I would not have done nearly as well and I certainly would not have had anywhere near as much fun. (Yes, bits of it were fun.)

Postscript: I got up at 6.30am the next morning to go rowing. She’s mad, I tell you. Stark, raving mad.

Postscript Two: It was my father’s birthday yesterday. Our first without him. As I wrote on Facebook that morning: “I’m not sure what he’d make of me spending it running for two hours through the Otways but I think he would smile encouragingly and bemusedly, wish me luck and then segue into a story about that time he was driving through Forrest and…”

(ICYMI: My memories of my father on the day he died are here.)

Dad and his wine

 

 

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The Flying Beetroot: Still Flyi….er….Flapping

The Flying Beetroot Still Flying

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the vegetable crisper.

[puts on sing-song voice] She’s ba-ack.

I see dead-tired people.

……….

Okay, enough of the scary movie references. It’s bad enough you have to face the aviated vegetable again as it is.

I thought you might be thinking that the purple running shoes had been hung up for good – or at least for winter – post-mildly-acceptable-half-marathon-running-event.

However, if you were really paying attention you may have picked up in a post (way back when) that before I even knew if I could run a half marathon, I’d signed up for another one. It was a moment of momentary insanity. Or, given my usual state of insanity, perhaps a moment of weird sanity.

But being a Bear of Very Little Attention Span, running yet another half marathon on asphalt (or bitumen or whatever you call that black stuff) roads or bike tracks would be boring. If I was going to tackle this distance again it had to be something different.

Enter Run Forrest. (Yes, yes, let’s get the movie reference out of the way early. All together now: “Run, Forrest, run!” Thank you. Can we move on now?)

Here’s a description of the course:

The 21km course will start in the township of Forrest at the beautiful Barwon River.

The trail run will follow the Barwon River along the famous Red Carpet to Lake Elizabeth. The Red Carpet is a favourite amongst mountain bikers for its dynamic technical sections, fern covered single track and fast downhill corners.

Now we get a chance to run it…..

Run Forrest also gives trail runners access to the beautiful fern banks surrounding the majestic Lake Elizabeth.

The course is tough with tight, off cambered turns, fast down hills and undulating with plenty of flow.

The course is a circuit ending at the race village on the banks of the Barwon River.

I’m rather attracted to the phrases “dynamic technical sections” and “fast down hills”, providing, of course, that there are no “very slow up hills” to go with them.

Naturally, a course of this description has necessitated the purchase of more er… grippy shoes (otherwise known as trail runners) and a modified training regimen.

Unfortunately, trail-like running tracks are not immediately handy – the most suitable being at least a twenty minute drive away – so in these time-pressured days of work and family life, I have had to make do with running on nature strips* and gravel tracks where available. Fortunately, footpaths* are in short supply close to home so running on grass is readily available.

(*See International Vocabulary Reference at the bottom of the post.)

Winter has also arrived so as the days have become more heavily discounted, I have often found myself running in the dark. This actually has some advantages, mostly in regard to speed:

  1. Racing the light home with the darkness hot on one’s heels can tend to make one pick up the pace.
  2. In the increasingly chillier weather, one is compelled to move a little quicker to prevent certain extremities from freezing.
  3. Running along the river in the dark by oneself adds a feeling of “thrill” that does make the legs move faster. (I prefer the term “thrill” to “shit-scared”.)
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Racing the light

What I keep forgetting is to bring along a head torch so I can see properly once the darkness inevitably catches up with me (a speedy runner I am not as evidenced by my first half marathon time). Here’s a stretch of nature strip near my home that is ripe for running along:

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Sorry, that’s in the dark without a flash. Here it is with a flash:

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Hm. Not much better, is it? Do you want to see what it looks like in daylight?

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Yeah. A head torch is probably a good idea. One inconvenient wobble on that stretch…..

Before you ask, yes, I have a training spreadsheet. No, I will not be publishing it.

Because I don’t want to.

Because, unlike the glorious evergreen of the previous spreadsheet, this one is widely stained with the blood red of failure.

One week into the set training I came down with a bad case of “Falling Into A Hole” with a side order of “Losing The Plot”. There was no running for a week while I clambered my way back out of the hole. I got back on track (figuratively and literally) but was left with a debilitating dose of the “Can’t Be Bothered”s. Add some cold and wet winter weather and a stressful workload and it’s been too easy to take the “I’ll do it tomorrow” route to non-compliance.

I’m not overly concerned about it. One advantage of choosing a second race drastically different to the first is that there is no time to beat. It’s a picturesque location, it’s something different and this one I will not be running alone. My friend Carolyn, the notorious Spreadsheet Enforcer, is running with me.

I’ve decided (for the sake of my sanity and not to be overwhelmed with regret) that it is not a race on Sunday. It is a (admittedly hopefully rather rapid) stroll through the beautiful southern Victorian rainforest on a lovely winter morning.

Lake Elizabeth

Lake Elizabeth in the Otways. (Photo: http://www.runforest.com.au)

I’ll let you know exactly how that works out…

 


International Vocabulary Reference

Nature Strip –  berm, curb strip, devil strip / devil’s strip, parking strip, planting strip, sidewalk buffer, utility strip, verge, neutral ground

Footpath – pavement, sidewalk, footway, platform

(With thanks to Wiktionary)


 

 

 

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The Flying Beetroot: Crossing The Finish Line

The Flying Beetroot Finish Line

That’s it. The deed has been done. Your patient five-month following of the adventures of a rustic vegetable has been rewarded. The Half Marathon has been run.

Here’s where we started:

Training runs

And here’s where things stood as I lined up at the start line yesterday:

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Things got a little weird in the last couple of weeks of training due to a little trip to New York City (more on that later):

Thursday’s run got moved to Wednesday so as not to be required to run up and down the aisle of an aeroplane.

Friday’s run was allocated to a Golden Ticket since jet lag and running don’t mix well.

Sunday’s run was two laps of Central Park (just about) in the late afternoon when temperatures were sub-10°C. That was a great run and I felt really fresh at the end of it. So fresh I couldn’t feel my arms.

Tuesday’s and Thursday’s runs were done on the treadmill in the hotel gym. I really hate treadmills. I have a whole new appreciation of living in a climate that allows me to run outdoors all year round.

Sunday’s allocated training run was moved to Saturday and called the Scotland Run. Funnest training I’ve ever undertaken.

One more go on the treadmill on Tuesday. Thank all the gods.

Friday’s last training run before the big day was about an hour after we arrived home. It was more of a Cliff Young shuffle than a run but I covered the distance.

And thus on Sunday the Big Day arrived.

Half Marathon 1

I have no photographic evidence of the start because I was alone. Getting a jet-lagged husband and three teenage boys down to a race start line by 8am on a Sunday morning? Not going to happen.

I was grateful I had participated in the Scotland Run the week before (my first ever fun run). Having experienced a start with 8,000 runners, Sunday’s start line with less than 900 runners was a breeze.

The run went reasonably well. I guess asking an ageing body to work its guts out for a couple of hours isn’t going to go completely smoothly. My right hamstring grumbled and my left knee sniggered but it never rose above a mere complaint. But the stitches were bitches. The last one, stabbing me in the chest for the last two kilometres, was nicknamed Cruella De Vil.

While I started alone, there was support when I needed it from the Spreadsheet Enforcer and the Gauntlet Thrower and family arrived at the 17 kilometre mark to provide photographic evidence that I actually ran. Just the Husband and Youngest Son. Eldest Son and Middle Son stayed in bed. No prizes for guessing who is my favourite child.

Half Marathon 2

Very grateful to be allocated the number 96 so if my jet-lagged brain put my bib on upside down it wouldn’t matter.

Half Marathon 3

That singlet is from my days in the Spreadsheet Enforcer’s running group a few years ago. It says “Run Hard, Eat Cake”. That’s my kind of running.

There was a clock at the finish line so I could know my time. I didn’t even see it, I was so focussed on just getting across that line. While my running app gave me a time, I’ve not always been overly confident of its veracity so I waited for the official results.

Half Marathon results

For those not in the know: Finish Time is based on when I crossed the line after the gun went off. If you’re well back in the starting pack, you’re disadvantaged (by 40 seconds in my case). Net Time is based on my actual timing chip registering me crossing the start and finish lines and thus a more accurate picture of how long it took me to run the distance.

 

Two hours, two minutes and 56 seconds. I was thrilled. I was hoping for two hours in a sort of wishful, wouldn’t-it-be-cool-to-do-it-in-two-hours kind of way so to have come a few minutes close was exciting. Besides, who wants to crack a super time for their first race? It just means too much hard work to beat it next time.

And today I received notification of official photographs in which I appear and fortunately there is one of me crossing the finish line:

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I look relieved. I wonder why?

So now I have a week off running, apparently, but then I’d best get back into it. I’ve already booked in for Run Forrest in June. (And no, it has nothing to do with the Tom Hanks movie.)

So thank you all for coming along on the runs through the heat and the rain, through knee troubles and headaches, through frustrations and triumphs. We made it. Now, can I offer you some beetroot relish?

Postscript: For those who may have remembered that as well as the race this weekend, I also had to sing in a concert on Friday night and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, that all went smoothly. And I made the interesting discovery on Friday night while waiting out the back to go on stage that it is actually literally possible to fall asleep standing up. You just don’t stay standing up for long. (It’s okay, I grabbed the back of a chair in front of me before I hit the floor.)

 

 

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The Flying Beetroot: Scotland The Brave And The Fast

The Flying Beetroot was given the day off today and the Flying Thistle ran in her place.

The Flying Thistle

Today was the 12th annual New York City Scotland Run in Central Park to launch a week of Scottish activities during Scotland Week. Ten kilometres, more than 8,000 runners, bagpipers, highland dancers and the blue and white of St Andrew’s cross everywhere you looked (even the bagels handed out at the end of the race were blue and white).

I didn’t have an official previous race time so I was in the last (slowest) group. This had the advantage of giving me lots of people to pass which can only be good for your ego.

Certainly an experience for a fun run newbie from a provincial city in Australia.

I loved it. And ran a pretty good time given I wasn’t busting myself to break any records. It was technically my Sunday training run and I was just there to have fun.

There were all sorts of runners:

  • The This Could Be Fun Non-Trainers who were walking by the first hill half a mile into the race.
  • The Weaving All Over The Road Slow Runners who drove me up the wall.
  • The I Didn’t Think I’d Get This Hot In A Winter Jacket Strippers. Really?
  • The Let’s Get Into It Scots in their kilts, hats and scarves. That would be me. I wore my father’s Buchanan clan glengarry with great (and somewhat emotional) pride.

Most definitely one of my favourite memories to take home from our visit to the Big Apple.

The Flying Thistle is now retired and the Flying Beetroot is back on track to meet that Half Marathon challenge next weekend.

 

 

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The Flying Beetroot: It Wasn’t Easy Being Green

The monochromatic spreadsheet is no more. Ta dah!

Training runs 10

Last Tuesday I used my first Golden Ticket, so kindly provided by my gauntlet-throwing friend to help me through what seemed like an interminable training regime when I started. It took me a good five minutes to hit send on the request message. It felt like failure.

I had neglected to get up early to run (to be honest, I’d forgotten about it – this is a sign that I am starting to get bored and I suspect I’m not the only one, right?), then I got called into work, got home from school pick ups at 4.15pm, was due at the Blood Bank for a plasma donation at 5.45pm and had to be at a rehearsal by 7.30pm. It takes me around half an hour to run 5km so technically I had time in between getting home and going to the Blood Bank but, in a significant step for me, I decided to be realistic and allow myself a moment of downtime. (Don’t die of shock.)

And while one part of me wanted to call me a failure, another part of me was feeling proud that I had been able to let go of perfection and be practical. (Are you still with me? Do I need the defibrillator?) And, when my Golden Ticket request was met with excitement, another part of me was so happy to have given joy to a friend who had taken the time to be so creative and supportive.

So it’s all good. Seriously.

Well, except for the knee trouble.

Who said that??

[Runner Me raises her hand sheepishly]

There is no knee trouble, got it?!?

[Runner Me shrugs and sneaks away, limping dramatically. ]

Oh, don’t be ridiculous! It’s not that bad!

Really. It’s not. Have a look at that spreadsheet.

See? There’s a second Red Letter Day. I ran my longest distance yet last Sunday. The training plan says 18km but I actually pushed it out to 19.1km. Two more kilometres and that half marathon is in the bag. In. The. Bag.

(Superstitious Me is screaming at me right now. “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” She needs to chill.)

[Calls after Runner Me] There is no knee trouble!

The Flying Beetroot Being Green

It’s not easy being green reddish-purple.

 

 

 

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The Flying Beetroot: Doing Things The Easy Way

The Flying Beetroot The Easy Way

I like to do things the easy way. I only ever take on one task at a time and if there’s a shortcut or an easier path, I’ll take it. I don’t overcommit and I’ll skip something if it seems like too much trouble.

Stop laughing.

Okay, so I was lying.

It would be nice to be that way, though, wouldn’t it? I’m not sure. I’ve never been like that. Is it easier?

I’m beginning to wonder if I have an Overcommitted fetish. I can’t seem to help myself. Personally, I just think that the world is full of new and exciting things and I want to do them all NOW.

So, in between the running and the rowing and the teenager-wrangling, I’ve just started rehearsals for a production of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona. It’s on in May so the half marathon will be done and dusted but it’s in the middle of the Masters Rowing season so life could get….full. But I figure if I can walk 100 kilometres and then perform a major part in a play the next day (http://wp.me/p3OKST-em), this should be a cinch. I only have a couple of fun minor roles.

You may recall that I have taken on this half marathon having never before competed in a running event. There have been opportunities over the summer to compete in lesser distance events but I’ve resisted them because I’ve always been rather enamoured of the idea of being able to say “my first running event was a half marathon”.

Then a friend sent me a link to a 10km event that’s on the weekend before the half marathon. It was too exciting to resist and so I am replacing my scheduled 10km training run on the Sunday with this event:

Scotland Run

As a descendent of Scots on both sides of my family, I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be doing this race.

Um. MOSY? That race is in Central Park. You know that’s in New York City, right?

Really? Oh well, it’s lucky I’m going to be there that weekend, then.

What was I saying about doing things the easy way? Oh, yes. Instead of spending the last two weeks before the half marathon checking off the last training runs and focussing on my nutrition and hydration, I’ll be schlepping it around the Big Apple.

Mr and Mrs MOSY are abandoning their offspring and flying away for a reason I am not allowed to share but let’s just say Mr MOSY will do anything to avoid a party.

We’ll be back two days before the half marathon. My final preparations will look like this:

Friday
Noon – arrive back from USA
Sometime in afternoon – run last 5km training run
8pm – perform in concert

Saturday
2pm – perform in concert

Sunday
8am – run half marathon
5pm – perform in concert

What? What about the concert? Oh. Didn’t I tell you about that?

Oh, by the way, I am also performing in a concert in memory of my friend Dennis who died last year. (http://wp.me/p3OKST-d9 and http://wp.me/p3OKST-dv) Right after we get back from the USA and on the same weekend as the half marathon.

What??? Why are you looking at me like that??

You didn’t think I’d want to miss it, did you?

It could be worse, you know. There’s a Masters Rowing regatta on the Saturday. I was talking about maybe doing some morning events until one of my crewmates took me by the shoulders and shook me hard. So I said ‘No’. Aren’t you proud of me?

Anyway, the training spreadsheet continues apace as usual:

Training runs 9

Did I ever tell you what my friend called this spreadsheet? “How much can one girl fit into her life!!!” Little did she know…

The last three long Sunday runs have had to be in the middle of the day due to other commitments and pending thunderstorms. Last Sunday’s 14km was quite pleasant, run in a balmy 20°C. The 10km on the Sunday before that, not so much. It was 35°C. By the 6km mark, I thought I was going to be sick. At 7km, I was crying. And at 8km, I wondered how long it would take someone to find me if I had a heart attack.

I ran the whole 10 kilometres. And I ran up that hill at the end. And I tried not to throw up at the top.

How come a hill never looks as steep in a photograph as it does when you're standing at the bottom it?

I think I may have spreadsheet sickness…..

I noticed this week that a side effect of all this running in the summer is that I’ve developed a tan from the bottom of my knees (where my running pants end) to the tops of my ankles (where my socks begin). Well, given my Celtic heritage, “tan” may be stretching it a bit. It’s more like a slightly dirty stain.

One last thing. In a most uncharacteristic burst of belief in myself, despite having not yet successfully completed my first half marathon, I am already planning the next one. Of course, it had to be something different:

Run Forrest

Clicking on the image will take you to the website where I highly recommend watching the video on the home page. Ooh, I can’t wait!

And in a sort of Gauntlet Throwing Pay It Forward, I’ve challenged the Spreadsheet Enforcer to do this with me. The only downside being that she prepared her training schedule the other night and then sent me a message to tell me to replace one of my weekly 5km runs with hills work.

Urgh. Hills….

Running hills

I’d already run up two hills by this point so if it’s not quite in focus….

 

 

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