Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Been a long time since an update

August in 2013 seems such a long time ago. Three half marathons in three weeks seems like an eternity ago and given my recent physical escapades it is an eternity away. I’d struggle to punch out 5kms right now and that’s not because I’ve been lazy.

Here’s an update on what’s been happening.

Soon after the half marathons I headed to Sri Lanka for a month long holiday, visiting amazing National Parks and stunning World Heritage Listed areas (eight on one small island!!) Given every day was 80% humidity and in the mid 30’s (about mid 90’s Fahrenheit), there was no running involved. As soon as I got back I was off to central Australia on secondment. Yep, I’ve been in the arid desert region for the last six months working for the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council. An Indigenous Not-For-Profit organisation that is run by twelve indigenous women from the NPY Region (where Northern Territory, West Australia and South Australia meet). Needless to say temperatures in the 40’s (over 100 Fahrenheit) every day and close to no humidity (so dry, dry, dry) is not the environment to be training for marathons. I have managed a few small runs up here and can tell you it takes a lot out of you, even at 6.30am before the sun has real bite.

Alice Springs Australia Day Fun Run

The work I have been doing up here for the Women’s Council covers the people who live in a 375,000 square kilometre region, with 6,000 inhabitants in 26 communities. To call these places “remote” is probably an understatement, some people travel for 12 hours to get to a meeting in Alice Springs. As one remote worker explained – to go to “town” and buy supplies is like driving from the North to the South of France (just to go to the shop!!!).

My time here is nearly done and I return to Melbourne for the long Labour Day weekend, where training for another run will begin again in earnest. I am returning to the indigenous lands for a Festival in late March but this time it is a fleeting visit.

Some famous rock at sunset

Since my last update the funds from my various affiliations have been donated to Neuroscience Research Australia and $218.41 has been donated to them from all my income from my various blogs.

I am now moving to a new charity and from 1 March 2014 until at least the end of the year I will donate all income to the NPY Women’s Council, so keep buying books, vouchers, gear etc. by using the ads on my blogs.

This leads me to a brand new affiliation I have managed to secure. Later this week you will begin to see ads from Litbreaker in my templates. They are specifically an ad network linking brands, publishers, magazines and other literary advertisers to content publishers. Again, all income this new affiliation brings will be donated straight to charity (the NPYWC for the remainder of 2014). So if you see an interesting article or product on my blogs, click through, it won’t cost you anything but it will generate advertising income that will help others.
Mt Gillen in Alice Springs - that was a climb!

I’m hoping to put in place another fund raising activity for the NPYWC before the year is out, it’s just a case of working out the best event, best way to raise funds, greatest coverage I can get etc. before I announce anything.

If you’re interested in the work that this wonderful organisation does in remote central Australia, you can read more at the website http://www.npywc.org.au/

Monday, 26 August 2013

3 slow half marathons in 3 weeks

It has been an interesting few weeks as I ramped up the training. I thought to myself, why go on 20k+ long training runs when I could simply enter a half marathon and do the training under event conditions? Not bad logic in my opinion. So what did I do? I entered three half marathons on three consecutive Sundays. Don’t do things by halves in this household.

Why stop at simple flat course half’s too? So week one (three weeks ago), I turned up as part of the “Tan Ultra Trails Plus” event where there were some serious nutters running 100k, 50k, 42k, 30k (and 12k) and punched out 21.1k around the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. The iconic track around the outside known as “The Tan”. The track is 3.87k (or so) and that meant we started in the opposite direction to the rest of the runners, went out (up a slow hill) for a kilometre or thereabouts, did a turn and then ran 5 laps of the Tan. The course includes a steep hill, known to all Melbournites as Anderson Street, which I had to navigate 5 times – once you’re up the hill you have a slow steady decline (with a couple of small bumps) for 3kms, only to front up to the monster again. With me passing the drink station 5 times, I overdid the water intake and felt a tad “sloshy” at the end of the event, going around in 2:33 – which disappointed me as I wanted to be under 2:30 but I told myself it was a training run and set my sights on week 2.

Last Sunday I ran the “Sandy Point Half”, which has been going for a number of years and is used by a number of people as a lead up event for the Melbourne Marathon which is coming up in October. The course used to run through Sandy Point, but this year they started at Mordialloc and we ran out for 10.55k did a u-turn and ran back. Sounds simple, not when there were 60km winds – head winds for the 1st 10.5kms, which sounds okay as you have a tail wind to bring you home. Only issue is you’re spent and you’re only half way. This was also the first time they’d run the full marathon on the same day and I ran with quite a few in the last 5 or so kilometres and they were done, the first half into the wind sapping their energy for the last half of the race. I was very happy with my efforts, given the conditions, running 2:25 so eight minutes faster than the week before.

Next up was the trails of Silvan Dam, part of the Salomon Trail Series (Race 3) which have gotten progressively longer and harder. Race one was at Studley Park, 15kms on quite easy trails narrow and a bit frustrating as the middle course 10k runners came up your rear. Race two at Plenty Gorge with four river crossings and more elevation than race one and a further 2.6kms to go. Yesterday was the half marathon and the elevation was serious. We had one hill that climbed 80 metres over a 400m stretch, that seriously busted the lungs even though I could only walk it. We then had a steady climb of 200m over a 1.5km stretch – now that did make the lungs, glutes, calves, thighs and other body parts seriously burn. But what goes up must come down so there was a chance to up the pace and stagger down a hill or two. Given the muddy slippery conditions you couldn’t do it flat stick but the minutes lost going up some were gained coming down.

Yesterday’s event had amazing scenery with fern lined trails, massive mountain gum trees, piles of leaves, stringy bark all over the trail, fallen logs (remember it was bloody windy the weekend before) which you had to clamber over and the most wonderful sight….the finish line. In my mind the finishing time was irrelevant (3:12.28) as it contained 729m of elevation gain and fallen tree clambering but with a cutoff time of 3:30 I was there with time to spare – I must admit there were a couple of times up a couple of those hills where I thought I wouldn’t make cut-off but hey that’s for another day.

Next week and the Sunday run will be a slow long one – may even give myself a rest and do a light 10k or so. But it’s been a fun filled three weeks as the kms are getting back into my legs, the body is pulling up better each time and the ankle and hip and knee pains from the 100kms are a thing of the past. Marysville full 42km marathon on 17/11 here I come!!!

On the charity front I’ve banked the earnings from my sister blog messybooker.blogspot.com to Neuroscience Research Australia (AUD $54.33) and will continue to do so until June 2014. Fundraising page can be found at https://give.everydayhero.com/au/tony-8 but it will a few more months before I officially launch the latest fundraising venture.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Trails, Trails and more trails a running and photo update

So it looks as though it is time to update my charity running blog. It’s been a month and there has been plenty of water under the bridge (or just plain cold water without a bridge – read on to figure out what that means) and I haven’t given you all an update on how I’m tracking or what I am actually doing.

It may appear as though I’m lazy, well in fact I am when it comes to updating this blog, when in fact I do actually train and run these different events. All of them in the name of charity of some description, the event itself may not be charity based but the long term aim is to run a ridiculous event that will push me to the extreme edge of my limits and that event will be for charity.

Last blog entry was the Salomon Trail Series Race One at Studley Park, since then I’ve participated in two more trail events as well as putting in a number of parkruns and a heap of training. Short term I am running the Marysville Marathon (full 42k) on trails in mid November, shorter term I will be putting in heaps of miles and events to be ready for that specific event and long term I have a big challenge ahead. That one I am not going to reveal until such time as I’ve finished Marysville and know that I can actually physically push myself well beyond a single trail marathon.

Blah, blah, blah. Onto what I’ve been up to. I’m pretty sure the events, commentary and amazing photos that go with the trail season (in Winter) is more to your fancy than me pushing out 17.5k at 7 mins per k around the local streets and parks. So that’s what I’ll cover off.

The You Yangs are a granite outcrop situated between Melbourne and Geelong (about 50kms from the City of Melbourne). They sit as a strange lump on an otherwise flat landscape. Personally I’d never been to this Regional Park even though it holds over 50kms of trails that are regularly used for running and mountain biking. So what sort of surprise awaited me?

Our race (15kms) started at 10am with a 9am registration but my co-runner (and driver) for the day, thought we’d get there quite a bit earlier to see of the crazy people who were tackling the 50k and 30k events (you know who you are!!!). We saw off the 50k guys and then Tony realised he had not brought his asthma inhaler, and you know what that means? It means the one day you’ll need it is the one day you don’t have it and being a bloke who always brings up the tail this is not a wise thing to run without. So my magnificent “driver” took me 15k back to the nearest chemist so I could grab one – what that meant was we missed the 30k start, ended up being parked miles from the event and pushed the limits when it came to our own registration. We made the start though and headed into unknown territory.

This event has some serious hills, sections where you needed to scramble over rocks (on all fours), walk a steep climb and watch out for the markers (there was no way I was getting list this time!!). What a stunning park this was with breathtaking views of the bay, the park, waterholes, gum trees, cliff faces and more. With 335m of elevation gain (and it felt like that was all in a 2k stretch) this was a challenging event. I beat five people home but had an absolute ball, taking photos, struggling to breathe, cheering on mates and enjoying the outdoors of regional Victoria.

The following Sunday I thought it was time to put in another trail event and this time it was Race Two of the Salomon Series, Plenty Gorge. Another Regional Park in Victoria this one being 30k North East of the City. Now forget 335m elevation gain this one had 424m but over the longer course of 17.6k. And I can tell you, these were SERIOUS hills – a number of people have told me that this was the toughest course they’d run – I can’t contribute to that debate as I walked a heap of it, sometimes down on all fours.

We had four river crossings, and it was no creek jump, the first you were thigh deep in icy cold water and then scrambling up the opposite bank that was a mud pile from the earlier (much faster) runners and then heading away on your journey in socking cold clothing. You had enough time to dry out before you hit the river again. Again the views were stunning, a completely different view to the granite, with high tessellated cliffs, scrub, colourful trees and grasslands. For consistency purposes I finished fifth last again but had just as much fun as the previous week, albeit under different conditions.

For the time being I’m going back to what people would consider “normal” running with the Tan Ultra Half Marathon event booked in for 11/8 – where I’ll run 6 laps of “The Tan” in Melbourne (an outer track around the Botanical Gardens) which includes a large hill climb (so six of them), known in Melbourne to all runners simply as “Anderson Street”. I hope to finish 5th last to keep up the consistency, but I’m not there to run a time, it is just part of my Marysville training and what better way to book in a long run than make it an event where you will turn up and do it no matter what the conditions. I’ll take comfort in the fact that there will be other runners there doing 100k, 50k, 30k and more so may even pass one or two of the Ultra journeymen along my own journey.

I’ll do my best to report back after that event with the plans for the next few weekends which may well include a Half Marathon event at Sylvan Dam (yep another trail with stupid hills in it)!!!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Trail time again - urban trails that is

I’m staying true to my word – good grief – and giving you an update on the Trail event I ran on Sunday morning. Set in the bushlands around the Yarra River and only a short distance from the city centre itself the Salomon sponsored Studley Park Urban Trail event was a full subscription with participants taking on 5k, 10.8k or 15k. Each event had nearly 450 runners so the tranquil sounds of running riverside were broken by the heavy breathing and thumping of runners on stone, grass and dirt.

The setting of the event was quite remarkable, the photo below shows how close to the city centre we really were, but besides the sounds of the traffic on the nearby Eastern Freeway (we did go under quite a few bridges) you could have thought you were a fair way from urban sprawl.

As per normal I didn’t take the easy option and signed up for the 15k event, something you do when you need to put in long runs but are fed up with the same treks around a lake or local running track. As a result we were the first lot to set off in the chilly conditions (I’m not going to say it was cold, I’d felt cold at Mount Macedon and this was nowhere near like that). As regular readers of this blog would know, I’m a slow (but steady) runner so I self-seeded myself into the slowest wave start, about mid pack, and steadily proceeded to be passed by even the slowest of runners. A number of sections had loops so once we were about 2.5k in it was a bit disconcerting to see runners already about 4k down the path (although some did have a 5min head start on me) – it became even more disconcerting once I looked backwards at the 5km mark and could see nobody (and I mean NOBODY) behind me. Yep I was running last, was worried a sweeper may come and get me (at least it wasn’t going to be like those big city races where they reopen the freeways so have to come and load you onto a bus, there was no way any mode of “pick up” transport was getting along these trails, unless I was going to be asked to sit on the handlebars of a mountain bike!)) The other worry was the one and only drink station would shut up shop before I arrived!!! If that happened I’d be going 15 clicks without a refreshment.

But I do exaggerate, as I did arrive at the drink stop I found that the 10k runners were joining us at that spot, but they went left and weren’t taking an extra loop for the longer course, although a couple of very speedy guys did run passed me about 500m down the trail before noticing a pink marker and realising they’d taken a wrong turn so they did a very quick u-bolt and headed back to the correct trail. Even though I had a further 3 kms or so before I came back to the same drink station, I realised it was going to be a bit of a pain as all the mid paced 10km runners would then be running up my backside as they completed the last 4kms of their run just as I was hitting the 11km mark of my slog. Add to that the fact that it was a single file trail with steep drops to the river on my right and thick bush on my left I knew it was going to be a case of disgruntled runners waiting for the old slow bloke to find a clearing and pull over for a few seconds to let the masses pass.

Elevation here was (according to the Garmin) quite small with only 126m gain over the 15k but there were a few spots where I was reduced to a fast walk (especially up a large flight of stone stairs) but given I ran the Hobart Marathon which had 1,200m gain over the 42kms it was a walk in the park. Not something I’d expect on the trails.

I’m using a 20 week marathon training plan to be ready (plus some) for the November Trail marathon in Marysville in November and am a few weeks ahead of schedule, figuring I’ll put in a few extra weeks of the longer runs to make sure I’m ready for a 42km run on trails, up mountains and waterfalls and through bush. This week’s long run called for 90 mins so I figured a 15k effort would suffice. One thing I did learn though is the larger, more well-advertised events attract bigger fields, where we had 54 runners in my event at Mount Macedon, and a total field of 209 this event attracted 1,307 runners so as you can see a well and truly congested trail. Nothing like the 10’s of thousands the big city events get but still quite a large number for single trail running.

All up I finished 2nd last in the field of 437 but can say I finished top 20 in my age category with only 18 men aged 50-59 participating in the longer event.

Don’t get me wrong, any event that can get people out and about exercising and enjoying the scenery is worthwhile and this event was very professionally run and the course was clearly marked, well marshalled and the volunteers and runners were all a friendly bunch, I just felt a bit of the solitude I enjoy on these trail events was missing.

My next organised event is the Trails of the You Yangs, granite peaks that are between Melbourne and Geelong, I know for a fact this will be a smaller event with the large “Run Melbourne” event being held on the same day in the city (that will attracts 10’s of thousands) and the minimum distance here is 15kms and that elevation will be well and truly greater than 126m. Bring it on.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Running on trails (or is that mud) in the Australian bush

It’s been a lazy couple of weeks on the blog writing front, but luckily not on the keeping fit front. Even though Im not running marathon training distances I’m still ticking over the kilometres – and now I have a proper goal!!!! No more “what do you do when you don’t know what to do” statements from me (well for the time being).

Update for you is that I ran the Mount Macedon Trail series on the first Sunday in winter the 2nd of June. And let me tell you it felt like winter, it was surely 2 degrees celcius, slow misty drizzle all day and slippery rocky, muddy trails. When I left the accommodation (at the base of the mountain) in the early hours of the morning I was tossing up whether to wear a jacket whilst running or would a simple t-shirt suffice. Thank goodness I went with the jacket or I’d probably have suffered hypothermia, us Australians are a tad weaker when it comes to colder weather, we generally live in 30 degree temps not this close to freezing stuff.

I arrived at the start an hour before my 10km race (or run) time, to make sure I could see off a few parkrun buddies on their 30km journey. Under a small hut everyone was huddled, stamping feet and cursing their insanity whilst getting instructions from the race director. A similar situation occurred for the 10km runners before we were led to the start solemnly whilst the last post was being played over a loud speaker. The reason for the music was that we were starting near the Memorial Cross, a 21 metre tall stone cross that was erected to honour those Australians who lost their lives at war.

The 10km course was a simple out and back arrangement with a mountain climb (the Camels Hump) at the 5km mark. The Camels Hump is the highest point in the Macedon Ranges and local websites describe the walking paths being scenic and offering a steep 500 metre path that ascends to the peak where the viewing platform offers panoramic views to the north and west. I can inform you that on this day – yes it was steep, and wet and slippery and the steps themselves were actual puddles so there was no escaping the squishy socks for the trip back. What panoramic view? I had one of misty fog about 10 metres in front of me, but that was to the north, east, west and south!!!

But I’m getting ahead of myself, before I made it to the 5km turn around spot I managed to take a wrong turn along one of the trails (serves me right for being at the tail end of the field and acting like a sheep and just following the runners in front of me). What that actually meant was that we added about 1km to our journey before we realised there were no markers, the massive downhill path we’d been on wasn’t in any elevation previews that we’d all looked at as well as there were no lead runners coming back the other way having turned around. This meant we were LOST. Up and down the hill a couple of times, checking of paths leading off a few times, a couple of form “I know we’re lost statements” a call to the race director, retracing our steps until we found markers and we were back on the proper trail. Albeit at the very tail end of the field.

But hey what a blast. I personally finished the 10kms in 49th spot (yippee a top 50 finish – just don’t tell anybody there were only 54 finishers) but with a time of 2:03:19, some very muddy shoes and a story to tell about how I got lost in a National Park.

All up it has reinvigorated my love of running the trails, even though I didn’t push that hard there after I became lost as the concept of finishing in under 90 mins was completely shot to bits. But the new training program has kicked in because on 17 November this year I will be tackling the 42kms of another marathon but this one will be at Marysville, on the trails, up two waterfalls and a mountainside or two, avoiding snakes and generally having a sensational running experience. There are longer term goals that are on the agenda, but I’ll save the revelation of those for another day. I'll try and be true to my word and check in sometime soon after after next weekend where I'll be running 15kms on the urban trail of our Salomon Series race 1 at Studley Park.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Does that sound like a strange title for a blog entry? But there is method in my madness. Just over a month ago (soon after I’d finished the Oxfam 100km trailwalk) I posted “What’s the next big challenge???” back in January I posted “my physical and mental energy has been mutually focused on one goal and I followed a very structured program in order to achieve that goal….so what now????” So what has been going on in my head for the last month or so?

I’ve learned that personally I need a goal, something to plan towards, a structured set of objectives to get me to the final result – no wonder I’m a Program Manager!!! For the last few weeks the alarm has been going off early so I could go for a run and the snooze button is getting the workout, not my body. With no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, my mojo has taken a hike.

That’s not to say I have completely turned into a couch potato. I have been going to my weekly local parkrun and trotting out 5kms at a fair (but not pushing myself) pace. I’ve managed a few longer runs after work, when time has allowed, and as an earlier post alluded to I’ve entered a few 10km events just to keep the legs ticking over.

Today I took part in the Emer Casey Fun Run, an event that takes the runners through the grounds of Monash University in Clayton. This event was started in 2008 in memory of Emer Casey a young Irish woman who died of ovarian cancer. Her family have set up a foundation to raise funds for research into ovarian cancer, in particular research into developing an early detection test for the disease. The Melbourne event is small enough to still retain the great community feel and has roughly 300 or so runners participating in 5 or 10 kilometres. To date the Melbourne event as raised close to $100,000 for ovarian cancer research.

I took my 10 year old son along with me and he participated in the 5km event (smashing his previous 5km best time by running 28.37 – so he tells me) and I took part in the 10k event aiming to run somewhere between 65 and under 70 mins, finishing in 68.28. Again not a quick time but I was feeling the legs on the soft spongy dirt and grass sections of the course and the knees creaked a few times around the hairpin bends. I was happy with that time as I’m just ticking over the k’s and it fitted into my expected finishing time. Again the event was a blast with bands playing at the start on the course itself and at the finish, eager university students getting up early to volunteer around the course as marshals, a (now famous) strange warm up and a great humorous presentation ceremony featuring Olympic silver medalist Sonia O’Sullivan (5,000m at Sydney Olympics). I urge any Melbourne based runners to give the event a try out in 2014 – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the word “fun” staying in the “fun run” lexicon.

Next week I’m running the Mt Macedon Trails Plus 10km event which has 357m elevation gain and being an out and back course you run the first section downhill, up a hill and back down it to finish the last three or so kilometers climbing back up hill. All on trails, which could well be muddy, slushy and slippery. This will be on day 2 of winter so the temperature could be close to freezing point so very much a different way to spend a Sunday morning – what sort of running event says to pack a jacket? Well a running event in Australia that is.

But the point of this post was to highlight that I have to find a new challenge, a new event a couple of months in the future so I can train, retire the snooze button hitting and start pushing out a few decent mid week and weekend runs. Even though these peripheral events are fun I can’t just keep going from one fun run to the next with no major goal on the horizon. Another curly to add to my problem is the fact that I’ll be traveling in September and October (with no chance of training whilst away) so that makes the Melbourne Marathon an impossibility. Not that I have any real urges to run that event, as you can probably tell I enjoy the smaller more community based ones with a littler crowd and less hustle and bustle on the course. Having said that it is an event on my doorstep so I probably should participate – maybe in 2014. I did do the half marathon there last year and had a great time, it’s the full marathon on bitumen that I’ll not be upset about if I never run it.

So what do I do when I don’t know what to do? As any good project person will tell you – I’m going to build a plan. I’ll weigh up my options, find the one that best suits my schedule, enter and start planning and executing. When I next post here it will be after Mt Macedon (I hope to get some shots) and with a definite future date and event that I’ll be planning for.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Why do I run and what do you do after 100kms?

I never thought I’d be the one to write ANYTHING about the “pleasures” of running. And I’m not being flippant here, but only a few short years ago the concept of pleasure and exercise being written in the same sentence was a foreign concept to me.

Of course I’m now a different person, as a lot of my previous blog posts point out I am in no way a fast runner, I’ll never be competitive in a race style format, but where I am competitive is in beating my own demons, pushing myself either faster, harder or further, doing runs up hills, whilst howling winds prevail, whilst it rains. All of these examples are part of my greater mental and physical development.

As I mentioned in my post Cadbury marathon blog entry, the training and the event itself took great psychological as well as physical training. Those mental aspects are something you can take into your broader everyday life, and I can guarantee you the lead up as well as the participation in the 100km trailwalk event took mental stamina the size of which I had not conquered before. I must have had about five or six instances where I thought long and hard about pulling out of the event – at no stage were any of these doubts physically related, they were more about the extraordinary commitment of time and effort, arranging charity events, being the sole conduit back into the organisers, and a number of other issues. What actually transpired after those periods of doubt was a serious self-talk about the fact that I had enormous support, both financially and physically, by other close friends, family and colleagues. We also had raised close to $7,000 for people who are significantly less fortunate than myself, so what was a few internal conflicts compared to the potential gift we would be giving others?

So what has this massive preamble have to do with the simple pleasures of running? I think it's more the aspect of running being a selfish pursuit, it is generally not team based, you run for your own reasons alone. As mentioned above I do it to push myself, to challenge myself, to undertake another journey of self-discovery, to change my perspectives, my priorities, my possibilities. Me, me, me – a tad selfish really.

But interestingly enough I also enjoy the ability to work with others who are starting their own journey or need help somewhere along the way of their long lived experience. I love being able to offer some assistance to anybody out there who is discovering their own pleasures in running, when I first started I received heaps of encouragement (and continue to do so) and I now think that I personally have a duty to offer somebody else the same sort of support somebody once offered me. So a pair of shorts, a pair of socks, a top (not mandatory) and a pair of runners and all of a sudden I’m a different human being – quite a transformation I suppose.

This leads me to my next challenge – I was intending to run the Barossa Marathon on 26 May however the recovery from Trailwalker has not been ideal so that idea was replaced with the plan to run the half marathon at the same event. In the last few weeks I have slowly started the training and again putting more miles into the legs to get me to that event, even though a 5km run 7 days after the 100km exertions was probably one of the hardest I’ve ever conquered. This time around though, the training is purely a physical challenge as I can guarantee you 100% if you can run a full marathon or if you can walk 100kms (on trails) without a break, you have the mental toughness and stamina required to pump out 21 kms, it is now simply a case of my body being able to follow the head. But to be honest the individuality of running, the ability to push yourself and only yourself is probably a bit too lonely a pursuit for me to be heading 729kms by road to punch out a 21km run. The camaraderie will not be there – not saying I won’t know anybody there, I actually will, but that joint journey of discovery, the sense of achieving something together won’t be - so that venue’s off the agenda too. Why waste your time experiencing something if you’re not going to enjoy it, celebrate it? Better planning in 2014 will see me in the Barossa for a few days, sampling the local produce and relaxing beside a pool after knocking over 42kms amongst the autumn leaves on the vines.

Interim plans now consist of the Emer Casey Foundation fun run around Monash University in Clayton, an event that I ran in last year and one that is asymmetrical opposite of “selfish”, an event where funds are raised for Ovarian Cancer Research, where there are people lining the route laughing and cheering you on in a community sense, where bands mingle with the runners playing lively Irish tunes, where you finish to the smells of a communal BBQ, where a sense of doing this for somebody else is the prime driver.  Yep I’m revisiting my roots again, and going back to the simple pleasures of why I run.

The following weekend I’ll take that another step further and take on a small part of the Mt Macedon event (probably 10kms, but maybe 30kms), yep another trail event, again for the simple pleasures. Back in November I ran the half marathon at Marysville (the small mountain community devastated by bushfires back in 2009) and reading my post from that event I wrote that “the fun was out of this world, the community feel, the friendliness, the scenery, the trails, the whole weekend was an amazing experience”. So I’m going to do my best, with a bunch of close running friends, to relive that experience – yes I’m going to simply enjoy the running.