The universe’s plan… now its mine!

As much as I like to be proactive in trying to design my life I have come to accept that there are things in life that are just out of our control. Things that are driven by the universe and sometimes the universe’s grand plan doesn’t align with our own plans. However they do say as every door closes another one opens.There hasn’t been  a door closing in my life as much as I have been sitting by the door waiting for it to open and it just is NOT opening.

Lactational Amenorrhea sounds like a dream but when you are keen to grow your family it is kind of frustrating. So here I am twiddling my thumbs waiting for my body to kick back into baby baking mode.

2 weeks ago after my 5km “not so fabulous” race…  I had an idea. A crazy idea. So crazy it seemed ridiculous at first but the more I thought about it the less crazy and wild this idea became.

After a few days of thinking it over and over I was starting to seriously consider this idea and decided it was time to float it to Big A.

Let me just say I am lucky to be blessed with the most supportive family who have always encouraged and supported me to achieve my goals. I was even luckier to marry a man who is also so supportive of me and backs my every dream and goal 100% no matter how crazy.

So once I had got the OK from Big A I did what any Type A control freak personality does –  organise the hell out of it. I worked out every tiny detail to the point where I could see it all coming together BUT I still wasn’t ready to commit.

Then this happened. I visited my Podiatrist… The king of the lower limbs. I walked in to my appointment 75% committed to my crazy idea and walked out 100% committed.

Decision made.

As of Monday 26th November I will abandon my running to NO program approach and start a 20 week training program for …

WaHoo! YeeeeeHaaaa!

So  rather than sit around and be frustrated and impatient with my body I am going to refocus my energies on another goal. Yes, Little A (and Big A) are my #1 priority but he sleeps 14 hours per day (Little A that is!) so there is definitely some time each day to pursue a crazy goal.

Now there are so many things I want to share with you all but in the interest of not making this the LONGEST post ever I will split it up into 4 more posts that I will publish over the next week. Here is a sneak preview of them…

Chill time!… I’m prepping for a marathon but fully intend to sit on my butt for the next 7 – 10 days ( and I am not injured!) here I tell you why!
I just got the hang of that Running to NO plan. Everything about my experience and what I will do in the future.
So much more than running .. There is so much more to prepping for a marathon than just running. In this post I will share all my plans: nutrition, recovery, managing my niggles and balancing family life.
Running Royalty… A an exciting post to tell you what tipped my decision to train for the Canberra Marathon… THIS IS EXCITING!!!!

Of course running will move up the priority list and blogging will have to move down a little. However I do aim to share a marathon training update each week in addition to the normal mummy and running posts.

Finally I just want to point out that I have committed to TRAINING for the Canberra Marathon NOT RUNNING it. The truth is if my body kicks back into baby baking mode in the next two months I could easily ditch the marathon to move forward with growing our family. However there will come a time when I am far enough into the training when there will be no turning back and I will see out the marathon no matter what my body does. In the interest of making race preparations I have decided to give myself a deadline of February 21st to make a decision on the race. This will see me 12 weeks into my training and 8 weeks out from the race.

So anyone want to come line up at Canberra with me?

When have you been frustrated with your body?

Am I crazy?

How far out from a race do you sign up for it?

Race 4 Life 5km

I am seeing a bit of a pre-race trend… Little A doesn’t sleep well the night before my races! Maybe he gets pre-race nerves for me?!?! This morning I lined up for my 5km race on not much more than 5 hours sleep. Lack of sleep the night before a race is no big deal to me if I have slept well during the week. In fact I am generally on such a pre-race high I run on nervous or excited energy anyway.

Running in the heat on the other hand IS a very big deal for me. And when it comes to running I use the word “hot” very loosely. In fact anything over 20 degrees to me is hot! So seeing a weather forecast of 36 degress for today was not very comforting.

Luckily for me I had just read The Arty Runnerchick’s post on 5 ways to make sure your race doesn’t suck (nice timing hey?). So I had adjusted my expectations and devised a race plan. In my few races since Little A came along I hadn’t really bothered with race plans. This was partly because I didn’t want to think or get excited about races and then not be able to run them (little babies are so unpredictable). But now Little A is much older and much less reliant on ME, having little periods of time away while I race are much more achieveable. So back to race plans for me.

Before bed last night I said to myself…. “tomorrow I am getting up and running the hardest and fastest 5km I can”. Yep, that was my race plan. I didn’t want to pace myself, I wanted to go out and try and achieve as close to 4 minute Ks as possible. Even if this meant my last Ks were 5 minutes Ks. I knew this approach was risky and not the smartest race plan but it was time to try something different (usually I am well paced and or finish stronger than I started).

Since I was going to run like a crazy fast woman (at least for the first few Ks) I had to dress for the occassion…

Chicking shirt and game ON!

Race for Life donates part of the entry fees to the Breast Cancer Foundation which has Pink as its super cool corporate colour. So I arrived at the race to a sea of Pink… AWESOME! Even some of the guys sported some pink tops – very big of them.

I collected my bib and made a dash for the loos for my “nervous pee”. Yep even if I have only been minutes before I left the house I always need to go pre-race now!!!

Ready to go I headed to the start line where I found Big A and Little A.

Soaking up the atmosphere

I took my final sip of water (while Big A took happy snaps) and then I headed for a warm up…

Can I get an IV with this stuff?

After a 5minute warm up my throat felt DRY already. I had drank water through the night and knew I was well hydrated. This was not going to be pretty!

At the start line I battled my first case of SERIOUS pre-race nerves. I had nervous energy in my arms and legs and felt sick to my gut. “It is just a run, go out there and do it” I told myself.

The commentator babbled away and I half-heartedly listened. At this point I just wanted to get going so this sick feeling in my gut would go away. He asked the girls in the front row what time they were hoping for… “under 20 minutes” they said. “Great, there goes my chance of placing” I thought. Big A who was standing on the sidelines next to me must have seen my face sink. ” Go Blitz em!” he said and with a bang of the gun we were off.

A beautiful morning in Adelaide (just not for running)

I just want to take a moment to THANK all the speed work for some pretty awesome quads. I have to say I never use to be a lover of my legs but now they are performance machines and I totally respect and appreciate them for what they do not what they look like. When I saw this photo – I was a little bit excited to see some serious quads are starting to develop. Wahoo!!!!

All the better to chick you with

Anyhow back to it. Apparently I was running so fast Big A mostly got photos of my back. Which is fine because that is the best view of my Chicking Shirt….

I’ll slow down a little so you can read the back of my shirt

I wasn’t in the lead pack but I had them in my sights….

A pack of runners ahead = a “chickers” dream

My first Km was my best. By the time I had knocked out 2Ks my mouth was SO DRY. It was horrible. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would stop at a drink station in a sub 25 minute race but when I saw that arm holding out a cup I snatched it like I hadn’t seen water in a week! I actually hate the whole race hydration thing. It is such an art to get in enough to maintain performance but not too much that it sits in your gut. I chucked back a mouthful, ditched the cup and ran on.

At this point I got some serious eye candy. Just ahead was a recreational runner with the running stroller I have been drooling over all week (see here). I couldn’t help but comment on his super cool wheels as I passed chicked him… I didn’t make out all of his response but I think he said “Its the best – its my sanity machine”.  Like I could be sold on this one anymore!! Funnily enough when I crossed the finishing line one of the first things Big A said was “Did you see the Chariot CX?”

Anyway as I was approaching the final Km I looked up to see the runners in front running downhill – my heart sank! Downhill meant there was going to be an uphill….NOOOOOO!!!!! But before I knew it I was on the final 400m. Now if there is one thing you must know about me I LOVE a sprint finish. So I put it into gear and brought that baby home!

So it wasn’t a great run but it sure was a great finish

Across the line I shook hands with the awesome runner chick who finished ahead of me. I had her in my sights the whole race but she was always out of reach. She ran a great race. I was pleased to hear though that she was feeling as crappy as I was!

My finishing time was 22.03 which put me:

2nd out of 100 females and

7th out of 147 runners overall

It wasn’t the time I had hoped for and finishing knowing that I didn’t run my best isn’t great but I ran my best in the conditions and at the end of the day it is still a PB!!!! More importantly it was a race experience that I learned a lot from. I set out for the first time aiming for a positive split (I was experimenting with whether positive splits work better for me over shorter distances). It was the hottest race I have ever ran in and it was the first time I have ran “competitively” and wanted to or even dared to dream about placing. It was the first time I had SERIOUS pre-race nerves.

If you are looking for a great race in Adelaide around this time of year I highly recommend this one. Not only does it support a great cause but it is one of Adelaide’s nicer running courses around the Torrens.

Did you race this weekend? What has been your worst race?

What awesome changes have you seen in your body since starting running?

Ever been to Adelaide?

If you want to do it – do it!

Image

Yesterday I hit the treadmill for my intervals. 5 x 800s. I secretely hoped that I would achieve a 2 minute 45 second interval but in the end I had to settle for a 2 minute 47 second one as my best (on the plus side there is room for improvement!). It was a tough session, partly because mentally I was drained and partly because I pushed SO hard I was at my absolute limits but MOSTLY because it was hot.

Make no mistake about it I am not a hot weather runner. I fall apart. I get stomach cramps, feel light headed, dizzy and lose pace dramtically. I know what you are thinking – hydrate better right? I could run with an IV of fluid and still not be a “hot weather” runner. I am the queen of hydration… One of my nick names is “glug glug glug”! In the first few months of breast feeding I would put down 5 litres a day like it was no ones business.

So by the time I had finished my last interval yesterday, I was feeling pretty terrible. Little A was asleep and as much as I wanted a nice long relaxing cool down (and to clock up some extra Ks Miles for September Miles Madness) I wanted to stop MORE.

Then it occured to me – how am I ever going to become a better runner in the heat if I don’t run in the heat. Don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting choosing the hottest part of the day to head out or continuing to run when you are faint or dizzy. But after my last interval I had demolished a bottle of water and I wasn’t feeling ill just sluggish…couldn’t be bothered, too hard!

Moving my running around the weather is easy. Get up at the crack of dawn, take your rest day on the hottest day and do your hardest longest sessions on the coolest days. But what happens when one day I line up for a race and it is freakishly HOT. I have never “sucked up” a run in the heat. I dare say it would be my first DNF (which I am not scared of… I accept this will one day happen!) but I don’t want “too soft to run in the heat” to be the reason!

I realised the only way I was ever going to be able to run in the heat is if I run in the heat. Genius hey? So I continued on for my long and “relaxing” cool down.  Amazingly as every minute passed I felt a little bit better. Yes some of it was recovering from my awesome but crazy intervals but some of it was also my body adapting to the heat. If well hydrated and realistic about your pace running in the heat can be quite good (yep I am trying to convince myself!) Decreased chance of injury is definitely a big plus for warmer weather running!

In 2 weeks I will be following NO training plan but I will definitely be “training” to be an ALL conditions runner. Time to toughen up!!!

Are you a freak hot weather runner?

The last HooRah

Little A is just shy of 6 months which means I have been back running for 5 months already. There is nothing like having a baby to make time fly! I have well and truly made my “comeback” and can now shift my focus from regaining strength and fitness to building on and growing it.

Post baby my goal was to regain my fitness as efficiently as possible.
Enter Speed Work!

5 months of running with a program built around Tempos and Intervals has paid off and now I feel ready to crank up the Ks!

And crank up the Ks I will do as I am only seven weeks out from my next goal… The McLaren Vale Half Marathon.

So whats the plan going to look like now?

Well you may remember me saying that I want to become a Stronger Runner?
Enter Hills!

It has been nearly 2 years since I have ran a hill session. I’m not expecting these to be fun but I am looking forward to pushing myself in a new way.

I am also going to keep two “easy” runs but do these with the stroller. I am finding stroller running physically quite challenging but I know it is making me a better runner.

I will also keep one “speed” session each week and will alternate these between tempo and intervals.

Finally of course there is the long run in which I will build up my distance. My longest run since Little A came along has been 80 minutes. In the next 7 weeks I would like to increase that by 30-40minutes. So all up for the next 7 weeks my training plan will look something like this:

Easy
Tempo or Intervals
Easy
Long Run
Hills

With 2 rest days thrown in there too I should be able to comfortably manage this load.

So why the last HooRah?

After this race I’m not going to train for anything. I may or may not race but I wont be following a training program. Runs will be done when and if I feel like them for as long or short as I feel like. There’s a few reasons for this change of approach:

1) Little A will be nearly 8 months and summer will be just around the corner. I can’t wait for our first summer together… trips to the pools, walks to the playgrounds and runs to the beach. Bring it on! I know we are going to have a blast and I know there will be lots of physical activity in there and lots of Ks put on the pram but I want our activites and days to be dictated by the weather and what WE want to do not my running program.

2) I have never really done much “unstructured” running. Generally I have been training for something and following some program. I want to learn to embrace running without striving for a race or an achievement.

3) The BIG reason for the change – Big A and I have made no secret of our desire to grow our family. The last 6 months have flown by and I know the next 6 months will too. When that time comes around I want to be ready physically and mentally. Breastfeeding, Pregnancy and Running individually are all demanding of the body. For me I am finding the combination of two of them an energy burning fest(!!!) and would dare not attempt all 3 at once (Honestly I don’t have time to eat & drink anymore). As I am not ready to wean Little A from feeding just yet I am going to wean the running first. Hopefully I can find my “sweet spot” where my body can manage running and baby growing responsibilites.

4) Finally mastering “unstructured running will be essential if I choose to run through my next pregnancy. Running while pregnant requires you to listen to your body and each run will be taken on a day by day basis (if at all!). I suspect following a plan would be futile.

So here goes my last HooRah before I attempt to master “unstructured running”!

Any unstructured runners out there? Whats the secret?
Did you run through pregnancy?

Adelaide Marathon 10km Race

Pre – Race
Like all races these days I try not to think about them or more specifically get excited about them until its the morning of. Mostly because now I have this little guy who is completely dependant on me and quite frankly “unpredictable”, I know that there is always a chance that something may crop up and I will have to forgo a race.

“Go run Mum, I’ll look after daddy”

So as I walked to the start line with Big A and Little A, I had a mini-panick attack. I had no race plan, I hadn’t even spared this race a thought! Arriving at the start with only 5 minutes to go didn’t leave much time to do anything either. I said goodbyes to the boys and made a dash for the loos. Cutting it fine …. I know!

I made it back just in time for the count down. Usually I would join the back of the pack but today I was going for a PB and negotiating traffic can chew up precious seconds so I nestled in to the middle of the eager to start (it was about 9 degrees!) pack of runners.

My race plan was formulated in the first 500m. I was going to run at a pace that I thought I could JUST maintain for 10km and then give anything I had left in the last km. A 10km race pace for me is running at about 7/10 for perceived effort. In the first Ks I glanced at my Garmin and was a little freked to see the number 13 on my speed screen… but I felt comfortable so I went with it.

This turned out to be the perfect plan.

My Time
I crossed the line in 46 minutes and 22 seconds. My race pace must have been smack on as my splits were very even:

4.39
4.41
4.40
4.38
4.39
9.24 (oops missed a km marker! average = 4.42)(2.06km)
4.27 (.95km)
4.36
4.34

The Course
Do you remember me saying that I was scared to run the Adelaide Marathon because of the twisty turning course. Well the 10km still had some loops and turns (but nothing like the marathon). I think the course was inspired by the London Olympic Marathon course with its 111 turns!

Despite the winding nature of the course and nearly colliding with a pole in the middle of the foot path AND nearly being taken out by a runner who didn’t see the fountain in the middle of the path, I loved the course. The South East corner weaved through the botanic gardens and was all new running territory for me.

The last 200 meters came off the road, up a path and into an oval. It was awesome to finish a race along a path lined with supporters and friendly faces.

Highlights
Looking back on the race there are so many things that make me smile. Here’s just a few:

1. Shaving 13 minutes and 38 seconds of my last 10km time in just 17 weeks! I know this is largely thanks to the massive “returning” to running gains after baby but I still put in all the hard work and clearly my training program (written by me!) wasn’t too shabby either!

2. How in tune I have become with my body and pace in all things running. To achieve those (almost) EVEN splits on “feel” I was pretty happy!

3.Seeing hubby and bubby at the 9km marker. Even though I had arranged to meet the boys at the finish line. Big A surprised me a couple times along the course. The 9km sighting was completely unexpected and gave me that final kick I so needed!

4.This was my first race in which I have associated myself with a charity and run for a reason. It added a whole new dimension to the experience and I thank everyone again for their support. It sure feels good to mix my passion with giving back to the community.

Final thoughts
I have to confess I didn’t go into the race confident of achieving my goal. In the 2 weeks leading up to the race Little A had been teething and quite unsettled. This meant that a lot of my runs were done with the stroller (at a slower pace). Having not ran much at my desired race pace I was a little psyched out as to whether or not I still could. Turns out the thing that “did my head in” actually makes me a better runner. But I’ll tell you all about that in another post dedicated to the wonderful BUT challenging world of “stroller running”.

So now that I have achieved my 10km goal whats next? Well this is worthy of another post too so stay tuned to hear about the next training goal and race in 7.5 weeks… my last HooRah!

I’m a mixed breed

I have always enjoyed my tempo and intervals sessions but despite my love of speed sessions I have never considered myself a “short distance” runner. Although I would do shorter distances I always thought I was a half marathon runner who was trying to become a marathon runner.

Then Little A came along and my focus changed from quantity to quality. I knew 2-3 hour long runs wouldn’t be on the cards for a while. What I didn’t know was how much I would enjoy the shorter distances. Or more importantly that I can achieve more over these distances than I could in the longer.

Problem solved… Become a short distance runner! But its not that easy!!!

Despite absolutely loving my current training I just can’t shake this nagging desire for a marathon. I ache for that 42.2km. Adelaide only has one marathon each year which happens to be this weekend. So any desires for another marathon would mean travel. Shorter distance races though are much easier to come by with at least one suitable race each month.

When looooong runs were out of the question it was easy to focus on the shorter distances but now that we have reached a point where training for a marathon is possible I feel torn. Little A and I are now running together in the stroller which gives me a lot more flexibility for length of runs. Intervals and Tempo Runs on the other hand are a bit more a challenge with a stroller (or at least they are for this beginner!).

At the end of the day the problem is I love it all. I loved the 5km, the marathon and everything in between. I wish I was a “pure” short or “long” distance runner but I’m not.

Marathon Runner Vs The Sprinter

For now though my focus is the 10km race this weekend. If I achieve my goal time then it will move to a half marathon in 8 weeks. If I don’t achieve my goal time then I will do another 10km in 8 weeks instead of the half.

After that… I don’t know.I have 8 weeks to work it out. What I do know is this:

– I want to become a “stronger” runner
– I want to have peak health to grow our family when we choose to
– I want to continue to enjoy running without it ever becoming all consuming
– I want my training to be efficient… if I am going to be away from my family, then damn it I will make it worthwhile.

I’m not sure what distances and styles of training will best suit these goals but I will let you know when I do!

Are you a short or long distance runner?
Do you ever want to do it all?

Down to Business

In my last training week wrap I was left pondering how to fill my race schedule. After much deliberation I finally have a plan for the next 3 months…

So here it is:

5km – 2 weeks away
Goal = Sub 25 minutes

5km – 4 weeks away
Goal = PB by at least 1 second!
I am not expecting to do any major improvements in two weeks but as it is a “virtual race” and I can pick my course and conditions I will aim to improve my previous 5km time if even by only a second.

10km – 8 weeks away
Sub 50 minutes

Half Marathon – 14 weeks away
Sub 1 hour 50 minutes

First up is the 5km and I have to admit I am completely lost as how to run a 5km race. The only 5km race I have ever done was with a client (who still hasn’t forgiven me to this day for it… I may have promised we would “run/walk” but on the day she was ROCKIN it so we ran it all). So how do you pace for 5km?!!?! This is what I am thinking:

1-2km warm up (pre-race)

1st km = Just below race pace
2nd -4th km = race pace
5th km = Flog it home. . .give everything and anything that is left in the tank!

Any advice? I don’t want to get to the end of the race and feel like I could have given more earlier on but I also don’t want to go out too hard and not be able to maintain race pace as a result.

Even though I am loving the speed work and shorter distance training at the moment I am completely duanted by this distance for racing. I am either going to love it or hate it and I am expecting it may take me a couple of races to feel confident at pacing it like I do in a 10km – 21km distances.

So its down to business now. I have 4 races planned and I am hoping to PB in all of them. . . Game on!