Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Karen writes: After another Marathon

I have been jittering all over the place since the marathon just over 2 days ago.  Half the time I dont know whether I want to lie down and stare at the inside of my eyelids, or run madly up and down the street. Physically I feel really good, nothing hurts and I am getting around as normal (some would say I obviously don't work hard enough), it is just a feeling of being in a bit of a strange state that only time and keeping moving can deal with.  The only real evidence is that I am ferociously hungry, eat too much, then cant stand the thought of food until the hungries arrive again.  If I listed today's food intake it would be unbalanced and sound bizarre, I mean the sort of stuff we have in the fridge tells a story...like cheese (3 varieties), guacamole, quince paste, and fruit.  Much of it goes together strangely well on a bagel at 5am.  This will pass, I know.

Today I have walked and walked and thought and walked some more.   I thought about what I liked about the Sunshine Coast inaugural marathon, and the list goes something like this...
  • beautiful beautiful beautiful start with the ocean right there and the sun coming up in a glorious orange ball
  • accommodation just over the road from the start line
  • it is so cool to be part of the 'first' of something, long may this one continue...will we ever have a chance to come back is a question
  • only one hill, I do like hills but I haven't been training on them for months because of that ITB injury
  • volunteers were all absolutely lovely in their yellow shirts. They laughed at the jokes they must have heard a 1000 times ("you again?"). I did get mildly miffed when I came up to one drink station and a man said to someone else something like, "real runners have their hand out waiting for their liquids as they run through".  I thought, 'real runner, hey, I'M a real runner'
  • easily accessible drink and food at the end and a finishing chute which made you keep your legs moving
  • late checkout from the hotel
  • no litter on the road like at Perth last year.
  • the "go marathoner" cheers from supporters
  • the fact that there were so few kiwi's in the field, it is almost certain we were in the first few kiwi's over the finish line...now that is a rarity!
  • lovely rectangular medal, very colourful.
What I liked less (whinging kiwi)...
  • the electrolyte drinks supplied on course were not available in NZ so couldn't test them out (this is one rule I do strictly follow...NO new nutrition on the day)
  • the setup where the shorter distance runners joined the marathon runners was scary and I felt a bit jostled and at risk because my tired legs weren't as agile as they might have been if I needed them to get me out of trouble.
Things I'm not sure about...
  • a 4 lap course, I thought it would be hard running past the same spot so many times but it wasn't bad at all, partly because I didn't know where I was half the time anyway.  Do I like it better than a straight out and back or a single circuit, not sure.
  • the heat.  We did our training in an Auckland winter and survived a marathon in the Australian heat, not sure if that's a smart thing to do again any time soon but certainly learned lots from the experience, it definitely wasn't as bad as expected.
Would I recommend this marathon to anyone else?  OH YES!

I said this last year at the same time.  It is still the truth, the next marathon we do WILL be part of Ironman.

Kate writes: a big fright

Today we went and registered for the conference, well after all that is why we are in the GC. We had a lovely walk over to the conference venue, picked up our bags and had a coffee at one of the stands. The venue looked smaller than usual with less stands. It may be that Australia is having the same  issues as NZ and have restrictions on drugs and equipment. It will be interesting to see what they are up to. 

Any way we thought it would be fun to go back to our apartment by monorail, but it was closed, we were too early. Karen though she remembered a way back on the other side of Jupiter's Casino, we were here 11 years ago! It has been a little bit of a joke since being here that Karen has been the navigator, but not quite taking any notice of where we are, so it was a leap of faith to follow her instructions. I'm still very sore from the run and can move but stairs are not good or moving too fast. The instructions were right and Karen and myself were walking down this path happily talking away when suddenly a Hiss came from the grass. I jumped and grabbed hold of Karen, we both looked expecting to see a snake, but no it was a water sprinkler! The gardener thought it was very funny!

We are looking eagerly for kangaroos  but have not seen any. I have seen one dead and squashed snake and reptile but nothing else alive. Still we have 4 more days to go. 

Karen writes: Sunshine Coast Marathon over

Who would have thought we would have run enough marathons to actually have to think which one was which?  What started us on that unlikely realisation was the fact that we were trying to remember if we felt better or worse after this marathon, the 'inaugural' Sunshine Coast Marathon which we ran on Sunday morning.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here, talking about the finish before the start.   And it was a nice start, imagine this, starting your day by stretching against a low fence while looking out over someone else's beautiful ocean, the sky just starting to light up, with the air warm and soft.

We lined up in the starting chute when it was time, the gun went, and we ran up the slight rise towards what we thought was the first of 5 trips up the only hill.  Except we had a wonderful surprise, the course had been changed and that first time up the hill was the last, not that it was a bad one, but I am sure it would have gotten longer and steeper with every lap until assuming Everest proportions with 30km on the legs.

The memorable thing about that hill though, was the sun coming up in a big orange ball from the sea, that kept me distracted nearly until I got to the top.  I ran for a bit with a man with two children in a tandem pushchair.  He was training for an Ironman in December and we chatted about that for a bit before he demonstrated his superior fitness by racing off.

We estimated about 300 marathon runners, but we quickly spread out over the course, it only got busy a little while later when the half marathon runners came thundering through, led by someone on a bike ringing their bell. I didn't twig to what that was being very much in my own head by that time, but it was the same feeling of being swamped by a herd of high speed creatures, parting to go around the plodding marathon runners and disappearing into the distance.

The first couple of hours the temperature was mild, I remembered to drink at every station and did quite well taking in a few powerbar gels.  What I didn't do as planned was walk for 2 minutes then too, I was feeling relaxed, nothing hurt, and with so much looping back on itself of the course I could see that Kate was never far behind!  I paid for that at about 20km, a twinge started up in the leg with the ITB injury, and every step I thought "oh no, that's it".   So I walked for 2 minutes, Kate was coming up the other side of the road about 4 minutes behind me and I remember calling out to her that my knee hurt.

But I ran again, and the pain was gone, and I lost the silly idea that I was going to run a faster time with not enough training and a recent injury and got into plodding and walking and plodding and walking and had no more problems.

Then it started to heat up.  Running through streets with buildings on either side the air was flat and still, except where other runners stirred it up, and I could feel the sun trying to get through my 85 factor sunscreen.
The last 10km was HOT HOT HOT
Passing the startline the third time I got hooked up in the start of the 10km race, there was a chute to one side for us, but when the gun went the 10km people poured over the road and I was pushed into the path of other marathon runners on their return loop.  That was a couple of km of being jostled and crowded and I couldn't get across the road to the water stops and I wanted to yell (if I had had spare breath) that they should watch out, with 30km on my legs I wasn't agile enough to avoid the fresh flying feet and someone was going to get hurt...probably me.  I got my revenge though, I had a bottle of flat (I thought) coke in my fuel belt to be used on this final lap,   every time I took a sip out of it and put it back in the holder it must have stirred up some leftover bubbles because when anyone jostled me there was a squirt of warm coke out of the top.  Anyone with unexplained sticky brown stuff on them, you were way too close!

I was seeing the same volunteers on the course, towards the end they were getting less of the joking and just rather tired smiles, I could feel the sweat and dirt forming a stiff rime on my face which felt like it was cracking when the muscles moved.  On that last lap there were calls "hope I'm not going to see you again", a policeman on his bike thought I could join the police, people were calling "go marathoner" because there were few red race numbers left on the course so we stood out.  We had plastic armbands, one for each lap completed and you counted up what every other runner you saw had.    Some people who had passed in spectacular fashion much earlier on suddenly started appearing again and you drew level and passed, you saw the occasional casualty of the heat sitting in the gutter retching or struggling on with legs barely moving, "go on" they said if you asked if they were ok, fortunately there were the people on bikes keeping an eye on things.
I look like I'm actually running not shuffling!
I was hot by this stage and while nothing hurt, I felt dry but couldn't reasonably drink more at the water stops.  I lost interest in taking in nutrition and had to force myself to swig my coke before the drink station and I rinsed it round my mouth so that I really wanted to drink water to get the taste out.  It was a very long round of energy in, water in, walk 2 minutes, run, energy in...

Then that last km, people cheering "go marathon", I ran past struggling runners doing the 2 or 5 or 10km, and there was even a sprint left in my legs to cross the finish line, 4 hours and 40 minutes after starting.  There was water, bananas and cut up orange at the end, a chute you were forced to walk down to settle the body a bit, and it was all over.

Excellent event Sunshine  Coast!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Kate writes:another one bites the dust

Its Monday morning and I am sitting in the sun on the gold coast. GC as I am told is the lingo for us from NZ. I have completed another marathon! It was a different experience as it was hot and dry! We do not do many of those. The 6 am start can be difficult but we are on NZ time and so it was really only 8am. A little cold and we had to keep warm by walking and stretching. The Aussies thought it was winter with gloves and coats on. We had spent a long time getting ready with 100 proof sunblock to stop getting sunburnt, so probably looked a little pale.

We lined up and off we went. First hill within the first 100 meters, but halfway up we saw the turn around point, wow we do not have to go up this hill again, that was a really nice surprise as thought we had to do it 5 times. I do not do hills but I ran this one, which means its not really a hill. The route was a little repetitive as it was a loop x 4, but I could not work out where I was most of the time anyway. The biggest problem was remembering to take the Gels. I had a plan to take them at either end of the loop but I could not work out where one end was, so when Karen saw me at one of the cross over places and shouted at me to eat I did. Its good to have support. 

It was an interesting group of runners and I soon started talking to anyone that would listen. You make friends very quickly and they become your best friends for the next 5 hours. Every time you see them you cheer them on and they do the same for you. In a way it was a nice run because you kept seeing the same people all the way round and I could see I was going faster as I left them behind.I came into the finish line at 4hrs 50 mins. 17 minutes faster than Rotorua. Not bad as I had a cold and little training over the last 2 weeks.

As I said earlier I am now in the GC and my thighs hurt can not walk too fast, but the spa this morning was good and after lunch I can feel a sleep and then a swim and then a spa with a glass of wine. Not  a bad life!

Karen writes the morning of the event

We arrived in the sunshine coast on Friday afternoon, funny how familiar it seemed, that long road up the coast from Brisbane looked like all the other roads in our limited Australian experience.

We have stayed in a tiny unit in a ‘resort’ at Alexandra Headlands, and looking at the lineup of port-a-loo’s on the other side of the road we realised that Kate had again struck the perfect place, we were right over the road from the startline for the marathon.

I ate too much on Friday, combined with a horribly early start to get to the airport I was feeling sluggish and “oh no, who had this insane idea”.   Saturday wasn’t much better, perhaps I was about to be afflicted with some nasty lurgy, is that a twinge in my sciatic nerve, ah, my Achilles tendons are tender?  The only real advantage about having something like a marathon to worry about, I haven’t been in the least bit worried about the presentation I have to give next week at the Australian diabetes conference.

But it is now nearly 5am on Sunday morning, it is dark and quiet outside.  We had breakfast a couple of hours ago, and we are wondering what the temperature will be like, it was pretty warm yesterday, very unlike the kiwi winter we have done our training in.  Kate has just suggested that the ‘slight rise’ at one end of the course (I would describe it as a steady incline requiring some degree of respect since we have to do the dratted thing 5 times) is “hill repeats” and she has said “you know what happens with hill repeats, you get faster”.   Yep.

The place we are staying is funny, the wall between the minute bathroom and the room which has the beds/kitchenette is frosted glass.  Very disconcerting.

Anyway, I am in my bed looking over at the tiny table which appears carelessly heaped with stuff, it is actually my running gear laid out in the order which I want to put it on.  I doubt I will need a jacket, will paranoia make me grab one as I walk out the door?   My new fuel-belt has little tabs on it for the race number so I didn’t have to worry about pinning it to my top, I had had a slight panic last night because I couldn’t find my socks but they are there ready in the shoes, I need to roughly pack so we can head off when we get back which will hopefully be in less than 5 hours from when we walk across the road.
Oh, given this is an ’inaugural’ event, all the competitor names are listed in a booklet, we saw only 3 participants who came from New Zealand addresses, and the man we spoke to over the road setting up the barriers was pleased to meet up with ‘international runners’.   How cool is that, we are ‘international’ athletes.   Hmmm, perhaps we can blame jetlag as the rest of the field leaves us spinning in their Australian dust?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Kate writes: A cold

I have a cold and a cough. I always have one just before an event and no I do not over train in fact I have not done any exercise for 4 days. The little voice in my head is shouting at me do some exercise the sensible part says no . A gp said Steroids would help , the pharmacist says antibiotics, so what do I do but go to the homeopath and get some dreadful tasting liquid. I have never tasted anything so dreadful.... But still if it works that has got to be good. I'm ready anyway. Bags not packed but will be later tonight. I can only get better. So Sunshine coast here I come ready or not!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Karen writes: Last long run before Brisbane

Sunday morning, breakfast of rice porridge at 5am, back to bed, then out of bed again at 7am, into running gear and out the door into...dense fog.

It was beautiful outside, but I found myself struggling, finding it tricky to breathe, legs sluggish and not wanting to carry me fast enough to get some sort of rhythm going.  I looked at the sport-band measuring my pace and found I was running slow even for me, a brief spurt of effort and then my speed would drop back down again.   That first 4km to get to Te Puru was unpleasant, and I suddenly realised that in spite of wearing just a singlet and tri-pants, I was over-warm in the damp, clinging fog.  Doesn't that bode well for the predicted mid 20's temperature for next Sundays event.

So it was an unmemorable 4km first-up.  Then another 4km back to Maraetai feeling a bit better having a good chat along the way to one of the Te Puru runners.  Then another 6km circuit being strict about not giving up and heading up the driveway when I ran past the letterbox, then a 7km out and back to Duders Beach along the coast.  Phew, home, stretch, shower and food.

Some days all the ingredients are there for a lovely run... good company, the mild weather, lots of beautiful morning scenery to admire before the visitors from the city get to the beach, a good rest beforehand, and spot-on with the nutrition, but it just doesn't come together.  Like this run, one heavy foot after another after another, thinking "I wish I didn't wish this was over".  You have to remind yourself that most runs aren't like that, remind yourself and believe it or you wouldn't get out of bed.

6 more sleeps and for me only two short runs before our last marathon before Ironman.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Karen writes: Cuddles and colds

Smallest daughter is making a habit of climbing into bed for a cuddle first thing in the morning, before the alarm goes off in fact. I asked her how she knows it isn't the middle of the night and she says "it's getting light mum".  Hmm, I peer blearily at the windows, she might see it, I don't yet.

Anyway, I love these opportunities to snuggle with a warm, fragrant little person and reflect that it will be only too soon before she grows up and is above these sorts of indulgences with her old mum.  I lie there with her soft little cheek pressed up against my face, feel her little heart pattering away against me, and ask myself this question,

"the kids haven't had colds for months, why do they suddenly get one a week before I run a marathon?"

But I guess that is what echinacea and vitamin C is for.  I'll have the cuddles, as many as I can get.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Kate Writes: my trip to Dunedin

My daughter Sophie is in Dunedin studying, no really she is studying! So it was time to go and see her. I had two runs planned for the weekend, very exciting running in different places. I was packing on Wednesday evening and could not find the running shoes. I looked everywhere and realised I had left them behind at hot yoga the day before. Well I was as anxious as anything. My running shoes missing and only two weeks to go before the marathon. Also they had the Nike transmitter on them too. Well there was nothing I could do but buy a new pair. We were in rebel sports and I stick to the same style, as they seem to suit me. This time though they are purple and black, does that matter, well not really but will they go with the rest of my running outfit?

So my first run was down to a place called Saint Clair's. It was a beautiful run along roads with traffic! but it was so well worth it when I got to the end of the road. It was East coast waves crashing over the wall and everyone running to stop getting wet.

The next run was down by the new stadium in Dunedin. I had to take a photo to show you it was large. My daughter laughed at the photo but I think its good. They have a walk way all around the stadium and it was fun having a good look around. I thought it would be cold but it was really warm and I had to take the thermals off.

Well the next place I ran was along the inlet? not sure what its called but all the rowing clubs were there and people were getting ready to go rowing, and as we had done really well in the Olympic rowing it was fun to watch. The council in Dunedin are making a walk way and cycle track along side the railway line, it was a good place to run.

Well my last concern was my arm, walking home on Saturday afternoon, no alcohol involved, I slipped over and put my left arm out to save myself. It was over with in a flash, felt a little silly but got up and off home I went. That night I was in bed and the arm throbbed. Oh no its broken- hypochondria rules. I got a bandage the next day and gave it some support and it still twinges but its OK. I though no marathon and no trip to Australia , but I'm OK and so the arm.

It was an eventful trip to Dunedin and the daughter is fine.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Karen writes: Training over before it started

Last long run was on Sunday.  Just over 28km in 3 hours 10 minutes. No pain, well not in the ITB but the rest of me felt pretty miserable.  I tell myself that LSD runs (Long Sadistic Distance) are meant to feel like that, especially with me having made a leap from barely doing any running mileage (just hours and hours of frustrating walk/run) into an almost peak training schedule only a few weeks out from a marathon.   And now, daft though it sounds...taper time. 

I had a weird marathon dream the other night, the marathon course wound through the inside of peoples houses and I distinctly remember running through lounges with people sitting in their chairs, me trying not to get in the way of the television, but having to ask someone where the kitchen was so I could get a drink.  Wonder what deep psychological truth that bit of brain strangeness was meant to be getting at?

I'm pretty happy that people important to me, like Cousin R, are out there being energetic, she finished her first half marathon on Sunday. It was nice to imagine how she was doing while I was out clocking up mile after mile myself and send her little mental messages.  It always helps me when I'm taking on something important when someone tells me they will be 'with me' as I run.  Anyway, such an excellent achievement for R, and future challenges can never be quite as big again when you've knocked off a challenge like that.  Just had a chat with an old friend, he surprised me by telling me he had been trying out running and was bemoaning the steepness of Red Hill (yep, that's a big one).   Ahhh...runner talk...its nice sometimes when you've reached the point where exercise dominates your life and you have driven your family and everyone else close to distraction (because your conversation reflects total obsession), to be able to chat with other runner people who don't automatically go into a sleep-mode with their eyes still open.

Speaking of which, while the long run on Sunday disappeared under my shoes without any major hitch, being tired at 8pm for a few days afterwards reminds me that the body did actually suffer some stress, and the desire to eat everything in sight for days afterwards is another reminder.  I've just packed my running gear in my carry-on bag to take away next week, I might go and soak my running shoes in nappy-san overnight so I don't get into trouble with Australian customs for importing wads of genuine kiwi mud, then I'm off to sleep for 10 hours straight.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Karen writes: I'm running!

Just been for the second run of the week...yes...actual RUN without stopping to walk type of running.  14km, not a trace of a twinge in that pesky ITB, even managed some mild upward and downward slopes.

But I am not run fit, even today's good 14km doesn't tell me how things will go for 42km so I need a challenging long run on Sunday to give me a better idea of how much I can cope with, and to work out a final strategy (eg, how much planned walking if any, sustainable pace etc).

There are 16 sleeps until the Sunshine Coast Marathon.  Only one long run this Sunday and then taper starts, that's probably 6 more runs in total and time to accept I wont get any fitter in the next two weeks.  Need to check gear, try not to put any more weight on (am 2kg heavier than I was at the Rotorua Marathon), and convince the brain that I'm ready.

I see that one of the random prizes for the marathon is a rather cute little red motor scooter.  That could be a problem to fit into the cabin luggage for Air NZ.

Oh, and I am in awe of my amazing cousin R who is running her first half marathon on Sunday.  R has been training really hard.  You GO GIRL, you are so COOL and way to go supportive husband!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Karen writes: Getting back on track

Injuries have taken most of my attention since the Rotorua Marathon at end of April, first the shoulder, then 7 weeks ago the ITB. I have followed my original recovery plan pretty much, sought and attempted to reconcile lots of advice (proper roller/different exercises) and wondered if I would ever get back on track with my training so as to be ready for the Sunshine Coast Marathon, now in less than 3 weeks.  I am really happy to report now that last week things started getting better!   I gave up trying to run properly in late July and have since been focusing on fast walking, not 'race-walking' though...that was just too tough to get good at in the short time-frame and it seemed to set off the ITB problem just like the running.  I've been doing this hard-out ordinary walking and with effort (and my nike sportband) I can manage to scoot along walking an 8 minute km.   This walking has become interspersed with short runs, and I found I could avoid pain by being really rigorous about slowing to a walk as soon as the tell-tale tightness started up just above the knee, speeding up only when the tightness went away (usually about 2-3 minutes).  That was quite hard in itself, going between the very different styles and getting momentum going again.   The picture shows the variation in my pace for a 15km last week.
The good news is that these efforts culminated in a 25km run/walk yesterday which took 2 hours 45 minutes. Even allowing for a slowdown towards the end of the 42km this pace should well and truly get me in under the 6 hour cutoff...even if I do look somewhat uncommitted or unfit with all the stopping and starting.

I did remember while I was out (feeling delighted with my latest new approach), that last year at the Perth City to Surf marathon I talked to a man who ran a bit then walked a bit because of his knee injury.  I can't help but wonder if he was dealing with the same thing, is this a secret survival thing among the experienced 'run for enjoyment' marathon crowd?  Anyway, roll on Sunshine Coast marathon, I will be ready for you!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Kate Writes: long run

Just a quick note on Karen's obsession on Chocolate: I went to the food show on Friday and went to my favourite peanut stand 100% Nutz. I have peanut butter every day on a bagel which gives me my protein and energy for the day. Well they now have chocolate peanut butter, and its not too bad for you so of course I had to buy some.

Its 3 weeks or 21 days until the sunshine coast marathon, so yesterday was my long run. It should have been 3 hours but took me 3hours 50mins. I walked a bit.... But I felt so tired, I know I should and I know its good but I 'm tired like a child, you know its like I'm going to have a temper tantrum cus I'm so tired. Today I went out on the bike and felt tired again but averaged 23k do not understand the body , but as long as I get through that's what I'm after.

I watched the Triathlon on the Olympics last night, and felt every bump when the girls fell off their bikes. The run was amazing, so fast, and the ones in tears well that will be me next year finishing the Ironman.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Karen writes: Training nutrition

I will continue to look for things which reinforce how I want to do things.  The attached link is (another) perfect example of finding something to back up what you already believe.  Of course on this topic I already knew I wasn't wrong even if the rest of the world disagreed...it has even got references!   http://www.halhigdon.com/writing/52680/Chocolate%20and%20Your%20Sports%20Diet