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What a friggin fanTAStic race. This is without a doubt the best fun run that I have ever done. The course is fantastic. The views are unbelievable. The sound of the train whistle echoing through the mountains and the smell of the smoke from the steam engines adds to the atmosphere. Like no other race I have been in, non-participants come out to support the runners, standing on the side of the road shouting encouragement (by the time I got there, some of the wine bottles were suspiciously empty, leading to some rather elaborate cheering).

It was an exceedingly civilised way to run the race. Stayed over with the FIL the night before. His dog kept me company during the night so I wouldn’t miss my own dogs, and slept soundly in the silence of the hills. Up early and chauffeured to the start. Accidentally left the garmin in the car so was in the dark as to time elapsed. Probably the best way to run the race in the end. Met up with a heap of people at the start including people I hadn’t met before such as beki and blkbox (update – and sparkdriver!).

Without a watch, judged my exertion on the basis of whether my breathing indicated I was about to die. So as long as I was puffing my guts out, I was alright. This meant that for the uphills powerwalking interspersed with some jogs was enough to keep me huffing and puffing. I tried to run all of the flats and downhills, but even powerwalking the ups it took a heap out of me. By about the 8km mark I was cactus – I didn’t feel like I had too much left to give, even on the downhills.

Was diverted off the road with 5km to go and onto the bridle path. So from that point I had no garmin and I had no km markings so no idea where I was. Amused myself by tormenting a guy that was run/walking about the same stage as me because I had found out his name when some of his entourage was barracking for him. In the last 2km I was all “C.mon Tim, you aren’t going to let a chick beat you! There is beer at the end.” Diverted my attention from my own pain for a sec.

My niece and nephew (along with the ausrunners) were cheering me at the end and I got them (niece and nephew) to run over the finish line with me. My ten year old nephew solemnly announced that he would probably do the run next year. Good on him. They asked me what I needed and I (having missed the powerade station) said I needed something with sugar. They said that they had a cinnamon donut for me. Well, I meant something a little more digestible than that, but it’s the thought that counts.

My time in the end was (according to my slip from memory) 111.40 mins. That means an average pace of 8:28 min kms, which I am thrilled at seeing as I walked all that way and my average pace from R4TK was 8:10 min kms.

UPDATE – official time 111:06, position 2834

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Somehow this week a bunch of my colleagues at work found out that I am doing the race tomorrow. One of them said that he would watch out for me on the reports they often do on TV of the race. I suggested that I was going to be a long way behind the bulk of the runners and that the cameras would not be focussing on me. He said “Yeah, but sometimes they focus on the people that are doing really badly – people like that”. Hmmph.

Well I am going into the race tomorrow not feeling 100%. My lower leg soreness all week has not abated, while still not feeling like an injury. I am mildly worried that it might be related to the new shoes, which would make them very expensive walking shoes. So next week I am booking in for a massage and a trip to the podiatrist. But that is next week, what am I going to do tomorrow?

I had a couple of gentle runs around this week which suggest that the leg actually feels okay while running, where the niggle subsides to a dull reminder, so I am happy with that. The race is going to be pretty hard. I know I am not going to come within cooee of either train and I will be likely to walk many many times. So nothing to prove really.

Yep, we are heading right into soft PB territory here. I don’t have any particular plan except to run as much as I can comfortably, try and run as many of the uphills as I can and get home in one piece. It’s going to be cold and wet and I figure that the best way to approach it is to decide right now that I am going to have a great time. Lock it in Eddie, I am going to have a ball. It’s all the details that just need to be sorted out.

Bring it OOOOWWWN.

It feels so weird that this is now over. How will I define my life now?

Okay, it was a pretty great day. Up bright and early to pick up lee and head off to the station to catch the earlier train on the other line. There were heaps of green shirts around which was cool as well. The day was almost derailed early due to urination issues. By the time I arrived at the start I was busting to pee. With not much time due to the train issues, I had to check my clothing etc so when I joined the line I had not very much time left and the line was *long*. As I waited, one of the marshalls starts to call out that it is 5 mins to the start. With no line movement happening, and not wanting to miss the start, I went to the start area, thinking that I would cope somehow. After 20 minutes of aimlessly milling around at the start while announcers were saying stuff that I couldn’t hear, I figured I was nuts to even consider running with my legs crossed the way they were and I should stop being a baby and go and queue up. Which I did, felt enormous relief and when I rejoined the start group, I still had a heap of time before we crossed the line. Comparing the clock at the finish indicated that it took over 15 minutes to cross the start line.

With my stretching regime interrupted by jumping in and out of toilet queues, I predictably experienced some stiffness in my calves after a couple of k of pounding the road, so I stopped a couple of times briefly to stretch. I knew that it would be okay and go away though so I wasn’t stressed. It was all pretty tough going through the Domain Tunnel. The air was pretty oppressive and very hot. Much of the first 3-4K was spent dodging walkers as well, some of whom must have started quite a way further up towards the front of the pack.

The fresh breeze out of the tunnel was great. Running along the freeway was kind of bizarre, and I was most worried about dodging the road seams, which were whopping great metal plates slick from the rain with nasty little spaces in the middle to trip over. I kicked one of the damn things early on, jarring one of my toes which always complains a bit anyway, forcing me to release a number of fine expletives to vent my feelings on the matter.

By about the Bolte Bridge I was beginning to really settle into a good rhythm and enjoy myself. The trip down the other side of the bridge was great fun. The spectators and barrackers were very encouraging, as were the marshalls and volunteers. Even at my slow pace, the time just seemed to fly by, though that might have been because I was mesmerised by some of the more, ahem, unorthodox running styles on display from time to time. I walked through all of the drink stations (except for the last one). The last three or four km were pretty tough. As much as I was telling myself it was just a short jaunt around the block, I wasn’t having a bar of it.

Was great to cross the finish line. My goal for this had been to finish in under 2 hours which I fully expected to miss out on by a good couple of minutes. But amazingly enough nudge had 1:59:XX when I crossed the line. Actually don’t know what the time was because for some reason when I uploaded nudge’s data both the time and distance were substantially less than they had been at the finish. So who knows. A little peeved about the fact that the course seems to have been run short, which means that the under 2hours thing is probably not an accurate reflection of time for 15.2K.

Met up with some ausrunners and coolrunners after the event at Fed Square which was great fun. Put a few more faces to names. I was incredibly sore after this finished. Given an interupted last couple of weeks of training and a previous longest run of a very slow 12K, I shouldn’t be surprised. Couldn’t bring myself to ice bath but did sit myself in a cold water bath for half an hour, which was painful enough. I think that I really need to get a new pair of shoes, even though they don’t have that many kms on them. But it seems some fat chick has been running in them when I haven’t been looking and I guess they are getting towards the end of their life.

Yesterday all day felt immensely tired and incredibly hungry. Had a nanna nap in the afternoon and ended up having a second dinner later last night because couldn’t stop the tummy growling. All good stuff, just more of it than usual. Today the legs are a bit sore, so aiming to do a gentle cycle tonight and then an easy recovery run tomorrow or Wednesday depending how I feel.

Well I am getting pretty excited about the run this Sunday. I am going to be stressed out of my brain due to the monkeys at Connex who aren’t scheduling extra early trains to allow me to get there on time, but I think I have sorted out a work around. I know that I will get there stressed though.

Okay, here are my main thoughts about strategy/plan for the day:

  • This is the first time I will complete this distance and my preparation has not been as good as I would have liked (particularly long runs), so I am not going to sweat on a particular time or result. Main aims for the day are to have fun and enjoy the experience.
  • Do the good hydration thing on Saturday. No alceehol and lots of water all day.
  • Spend some time on Saturday doing some gentle stretching, esp shins, hamstrings etc which typically start out a bit stiff
  • Priority number one is hydration. I am going to be out there a lot longer than many people and it is no use maintaining a brisk pace only to crash from dehydration afterwards. Therefore I plan to stop at each drink station and walk through, so that I make sure I get at least one full cup of water every station.
  • Drink stations are around every 3K so all I have to worry about is doing a collection of 3K runs with say a 60sec walking rest in between. I can so do that.
  • Enjoy the day, have fun and be nice to people, even if I don’t feel like it.

I am actually really beginning to get excited so I am trying to keep a lid on it so that I won’t jinx it and turn it into an anti-climax. So tell me it will be crap so that I will feel less excited.

A bit slow in getting the report up. Blogging has otherwise been light because I haven’t been running as much while busy and indulging my obsession with Big Fat Loser. But I did manage to have myself a run on Wednesday night. Here is the report that I wrote on the forum:

Well I was totally in the wrong headspace for this one. This racing on weekdays thing is a bit of an adjustment, but with work lately this series was all about actually getting me out the door to do a decent run mid-week. And I certainly wouldn’t have run 8km last night but for this series.

Now to the report. The theme for this race seemed to be “deege’s slow fart challenge”. There was good and bad about this. Actually my first time running the tan (ooh er a tan virgin) so one of the great things about being a slow fart is that everyone passes you, meaning that even going around the correct way, you still get to perv at a fair selection of finely toned bodies. Wimped Anderson Street on the first loop figuring it would be just as quick to power walk (it wasn’t).

TB lapped me 500m from the end of the first lap, and shortly afterwards kathrynoh and her friend Simon came past. They sure have improved their speed lately (rumour has it they stopped for coffee).

By the time I was halfway through the second loop I noticed one of the marshalls encouraging me by name, my first hint that I was probably last with enough space in front of me for bored race organisers to look up my number.

Was determined to run all the way up Anderson Street the second time and managed it – even passed someone (who admittedly was walking, taking a leisurely drink and talking on a mobile phone – okay not in the race, then.)

By about the 6km mark, volunteers were packing up witches hats before I got to them. TB once again took pity on me not being able to make the collegial environment of the ESRG runs and joined me for the last couple of k which was much appreciated. By the time we got to the government house extra loop, they had packed up the course and we had to ask where the turning point was (good thing TB was there – my version of that question would have been considerably less intelligible).

The thrilling finale was crossing the line to the apparent amusement of a group of feckless volunteers lounging around apparently at a loss as to why I would be crossing the line at this point. I was waving my little tag for someone to put on a stick and one young man said with a look of profound confusion on his face “Were you in the run?” Ouch.

Despite the overtures of the slow fart orchestra, thoroughly pleased to be out there and should contribute to another strong kilometrage week for me in the lead up to R4TK. Good to see a few Ausrunners out as well.

The above sounds very sorry for myself, but I decided long ago that IIWII so there is no use feeling sorry for myself for being the slowest one in the race because the only thing that is going to fix that is continuing on. I do look back on my decision almost a year ago to say “bugger this, I won’t wait until I am fit to start running, I am starting now” and am quite pleased. If I had waited until I could perform at a decent level, I would still be waiting and would have missed a whole year of huffing and puffing around enjoying my runs.

I was amazed at what a thoroughfare the Tan is in the evenings. It is not really convenient for me to go running at the Tan after work for logistical reasons, but I wondered whether once in a while mid week I might shuffle off there or the yarra or whatever so that I could feel part of the community of runners (who strangely enough don’t seem to populate the suburban streets of an ordinary suburb in the northern suburbs of melbourne).

This Sunday I am determined to get my long run up to 12km, and in doing so I thought I might enter the Coburg Harriers King/Queen of the North. They seem like a good club and the fun runs are lovely from my one experience of them. While it might seem funny to pay for the privilege of doing my long run along the Merri Creek Trail where I would otherwise be doing my long run anyway, it is really nice to support a community organisation like this. Racing for me at the moment is the thing that keeps me interested in running longer distances and prompts me to get out the door to get some wear on the sneakers. I have a whole bunch of races coming up that I am excited about, even though I know that I am going to finish at the straggly end of the pack.

The thing that makes me laugh about my Sunset Series experience is that when I was a runner in my early twenties, I would have been horrified and mortally embarrassed and in fact, I was. Naturally my expectations are different now, but I don’t think young runner deege ever really appreciated the privilege and joy it is simply to be able to do this regularly. Sometimes I want to just shake her, the silly bint.

Conversation with the T-shirt person:

Me – Is this where I pick up my t-shirt?
Her – Yes absolutely. What’s your name?
Me – [tells her…then waits… then takes the sheet from her to find my name – I didn’t feel I could do it with the electoral commission people, but I can do it with a fun run organiser]
Her – So you ordered an XXL?
Me – That’s right [you want to say it louder, lady? I am not sure that the skinny bint over there in the XXS *heard* you]
Her -[rummaging] The XXL only comes in black.
Me – That’s fine. [Well, duh, it’s *slimming*]

So it was a lovely course, but given that my running log for the last three weeks shows one very ordinary 4km run, I wasn’t bursting with confidence. Met up with heaps of ausrunners which was very cool. Morseyruns introduced me to a very drunk friend of hers at the start line which was fun (hehe).

The first lap I was trying to make sure that my friend Tiger Boy didn’t lap me, so every time I heard footsteps over my shoulder I panicked. Freak passed me in sight of the finish line. I really tried to swear at him but I am pretty sure that he didn’t hear me over the top of my heaving breath. I should say that he made up for me by running me home in the last 500m just when I was begging the running Gods that he would do just that. Little does he know that he is now obliged to lock in to help me out for the rest of my running career while he might otherwise becoming a leading light in the Vic Aths scene [evil laugh] (well at least until he stops lapping me).

Seeing as I was trying to treat this as a training run, it was actually much easier to do that on the separate lap as I was pretty much running on my own, and it was lovely. It started to get a bit darker going through the Zoo the second time and I started telling the volunteers my only goal was to get back before dark. The one big advantage of a loop course was I knew what I still had before me and it was down hill most of the way to the finish line, which was a big relief. The first time around (when I was trying to finish before getting lapped) the bloody race organisers tricked me by making me think that I just had a corner and a brief straight to the finish, but then they made me go out around another whole big loop!! Tricky race organisers.

Nudge was obviously freaking at the concept of a city run after work and kept spitting out the weirdest numbers. He kept measuring the distance very short and therefore telling me I was running very slow. I was getting really depressed at the 9min kms he was spitting at me, until I crossed the line and learnt that he had just been goading me.

Gun time only was 63:XX which is not a PB but is my second best 8K time ever. I will definitely take that as with the interrupted training and preparation I completely ran out of puff in the last half of the race. Hopefully I will be in better shape for the rest of the series and might even be able to give the PB a bit of a crack.

UPDATE – official time 1:04:04 (which is just wrong), gender 158/161

I am still dreading the first of the sunset series at the Zoo tomorrow night. I had mentioned that things had got a lot quieter allowing me time to do some exercise, but it has been so hot that I have tended to skip the running. When the weather gets too extreme I get a little worried about over-heating unnecessarily and have opted instead to use the exercise bike inside under the evap cooler. It means I can keep going longer at a higher intensity without risking killing myself.

However it also means that I haven’t actually run anywhere for over a week. But then I remind myself that when I entered this series, I knew that I would be busy and the whole point of entering would be that it would mean that I would do three 8K runs in the space of a month when I was pretty sure I otherwise wouldn’t have managed that. In the lead up to Run 4 the Kids, it was three 8K runs that I needed to have in the schedule, that would hopefully lead to some renewed enthusiasm for some more long runs and other preparation at a time when I am otherwise pressed for time.

So this will be a fine experiment for race preparation – how to prepare for a race by not actually running anywhere. So my goals for the run tomorrow (and the series) are relatively low key. I just want to keep running for the whole 8K (something that I didn’t manage for two of the Spring into Shape runs) and try to keep relatively even pace. To be honest, since the end of the SiS series, I have managed at least half a dozen or so runs over 8K (which is my long run status) so I should be feeling more confident of keeping it going.

In another novelty this will be my first ever mid-week race, so coordinating with coming straight from work (and possibly revealing to workmates what I am up to) will be interesting in itself. Wish me luck!!

Portsea Twilight 2007

How mental does that picture look?

Okay, so the thing that nobody really told me about this race is that throughout the run you are doing one of three things – running up a steep hill, running down a steep hill or running flat along a beach. In other words, it was TOUGH. I didn’t have any particular expectations for this race. I had never run a race this distance before so I didn’t really have a bar to go by. Based on my other PBs I figured that 50mins would be outstanding on a flat course, so I was going to be happy with anything under 55min.

According to Nudge, I ran it in 54:27 so I was pretty happy with that (let’s change that to thrilled, shall we?). That included a couple of stretches of walking on the steep climbs. I caught up with morseyruns and chilliman and a couple of other people. It was a hot day, sticky and incredibly challenging in terms of conditions.

The hardest bit for me was the last 2km along the sand. With the hills I wasn’t discouraged with the fact that I found it difficult. But that last couple of km along the beach seemed to take forever and I was exhausted. That was a little discouraging – it was the easiest part of the course, the tide was out and we were running on hard sand so it was pretty tough to keep going when I was struggling to run down the people who by this stage were walking. Thankfully one of the girls running around my pace saw me stop and took the time to encourage me. But I was happy with the result.

On the way home, I stopped into the local bottle-o and bought a bottle of champagne which we are drinking at the moment. I told Hub that we are celebrating the fact that I don’t have to do that run again for another year. Check out the elevation chart.

Portsea Twilight Elevation

UPDATE – chip time is 54.26. 1147/1204 overall, 451/490 gender, 169/174 category. All these people going for top ten in their category should be competing with me for the bottom ten.

So over the weekend I entered this race in the 15.2km. Which means I have to learn how to run 15.2km before the 1st of April next year.

This is of course pretty weird because it assumes that I will still be keeping up this running thing until at least April next year. Given my track record for maintining my enthusiasm for hobbies, this would be quite a feat. However stumping up some money for the entry form is likely to advance the prospects that I will keep it up because I am such a tightarse that I would hate to think that I was wasting my money.

15.2km does seem like a lot though – add another 5 and a bit ks and it would be a half marathon. Anyway, should be a great experience and lots of fun no matter how much of it I manage to actually run.

Headed down to the track today for the Coburg Lake Classic organised by the Coburg Harriers. It was an out and back course along the merri creek trail with a trot around the track to finish it off. The sun was pretty warm at times so it was a good workout.

The boys doing the 10k were thumping their chests and showing off at the start, but a quick head count of the women assured me I was in for a top ten finish no matter how I did. My goal was to try to keep to 7:30 pace or better, which I managed pretty well. Also managed a negative split which was a pleasant surprise.

Finished in 37:52 which is about 40 sec outside the PB but very happy with that as the PB was at Albert Park on a very flat course and today’s run was.. not flat. Had a pleasant chat to the other women. One said that she had taken up running this year when she turned 50 and tries to run a race every weekend (!!). The winner only just broke 30mins so not too much improvement needed to be right in amongst it.