Sunday, 27 January 2013

More recovery and planning for Oxfam Trailwalker News

Let’s see if I can be a little more vigilant in keeping this blog up to date, without the four times a week running and without the 4 hour long run commitments it may be a little easier but as the training for the Oxfam Trailwalker kicks in the hours may (again) be spent on my feet and not in front of the computer!!!

My post marathon physio visit consisted of a diagnosis of inflamed muscles either side of the shin (possible tendonitis he said), electrode treatment – on the leg not a la “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, although some could quite rightfully argue that this type of treatment could improve me overall – and some ultrasound with clear instructions not to run or do long walks for two weeks. Since then things have improved considerably with the anti-inflam medication being reduced to zero and the pain disappearing. Luckily I’ve followed his instructions, to date, as things did feel normal on Friday and I could well have gone for a quick 5km run with dire results. Instead I volunteered at the local Albert Park parkrun, where I was allotted timekeeper duties again, and as it was our National Holiday, Australia Day I dressed as the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and gave all 144 runners an educational speech on the dangers of crocodiles, with global warming and all you never know when they may suddenly appear in these more temperate areas.

Oxfam Trailwalker planning has commenced with a team get together and dinner (got to carb load) on Tuesday evening, where we cornered one unfortunate co-worker into volunteering for our support crew (the following day I managed to rope in another two so we are all supported and willing to hit these trails). Besides discussions about what type of gear, food, hydration etc. our meeting was very fruitful in that we came up with a team training plan for four long walks together, meaning individually we will need to fit in the other training to ensure we are all ready to walk 100kms in 81 day’s time. The recommended training plan is below, a mere 864kms to get to the starting line – ouch.

Our group plans are an evening (after work) walk this coming Friday, of 10.2kms along the most challenging part of the trail (very steep and the hardest ranked part of the course), a night walk along another of the most challenging parts of the course (so we can test our abilities with head lamps, darkness and tiredness – will we be yelling at each other come 2am???) of 27.7kms three weeks later, an early start walk of 37.2kms (a fortnight later) taking in the same section we will do for walk one, and adding a further 27kms down the hills and flat, and finally (another fortnight later) a 40.5km early start walk taking in the final sections of the walk, some flat some challenging. Come the event itself we will have walked most of the trail besides the first couple of sections which are flat and we’ll be all pumped up for those and will be able to complete them quite easily, safe in the knowledge of what is coming up over the hill (or mountain) quite literally.

This week the weather forecast is for rain all week, with the prediction of thunderstorms on the day of our walk. It will be a test of the team’s mettle to even get to the start line on the walk, and a massive test if the trails are all muddy and slippery, however there is no way of predicting what the weather will be like during the event itself so personally I think the training should go ahead (maybe not if there are lightning strikes all around us), that way we are fully prepared if the event is a wet one. If it is a dry event we’ll be even more chuffed as we know we can walk those sections under harsher conditions.

Finally onto the gear, I own the majority of the recommended gear but need a decent backpack, trail shoes and a jacket. I went trail shoe shopping yesterday and have myself a new pair of Salomon Speedcross 3’s, they are so bright that if we go missing the aerial search parties should be able to spot us on the tracks. They’ll be put to the test this week – can’t wait.

I’ll keep you up to date with the training, the fundraising, the events we will organise to assist our fundraising and more via this blog – it is subtitled “other charity driven insanities”.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Recovery from the marathon – and it’s not just physical

Time for a blog update – can’t have me running a marathon and….that’s all there is folks. A bit like going through 3 months of birthing classes, where they talk about all the preparation for childbirth, and once the baby’s arrived they wash their hands, job done. Where are the lessons about how to change a nappy, bathe the little creature, not freak out every 5 minutes and check they’re breathing, how to deal with sleep deprivation, how not to lose your marbles with the innumerable well-wishers, advice givers and endless talk about babies???? Now I’m not comparing running a marathon to childbirth (well I am really) but there are some similarities – have we heard mothers say “I’m never doing THAT again” only to have another child a few years later? Well I’ve said “I’m never running another marathon”, approximately 2 metres after the finish line, and for about three weeks leading into the event. Was that a tad premature?

The book I used to prepare for the marathon was “The Non Runner’s Marathon Trainer” by David A. Whitsett, Forrest (Run Forrest Run) A Dolgener and Tanjala Mobon Kole. A book based on the successful marathon class offered by the University of Northern Iowa. A sixteen week, four-day-a-week workout plan which focuses on the psychological aspects as well as the physical. Therefore the program prepares you mentally to keep going once you’ve hit the notorious “wall” as well as getting you into physical shape to run 42 kms. If you are interested in getting a copy please follow the link here to The Book Depository, it will cost you no more than going directly to their website, but I will receive 5% of the purchase price which I donate back to the featured charity of the month (at the moment all income from my affiliation with them is going to be donated to our Oxfam Trailwalker team, where on 19 April this year, myself and three colleagues are walking 100kms as a team, yep 100kms each starting and finishing together).
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
As mentioned above the book focuses on the mental as well as the physical aspects of running a marathon, so this blog entry is about both the mental and physical recovery.
Closest I got to Cathy Freeman

Physically it is now nine days since I ran and my ankles (especially my right one) are still sorer than slab of beef which has just been put through a tenderizing machine. The right ankle pain is where the shin meets the ankle and as each day wears on it becomes increasingly difficult to walk, which does draw a few laughs from my fellow office workers. The only one who copped an earful was the larger gentleman who called me “soft”, my retort went something along the lines of “when you run a marathon I’ll take your advice” (I blame the mental tiredness here). I’ve seen a myotherapist, who did go especially soft on me this time around, and a chiropractor (twice) since the run but still no pain relief (without doses of anti-inflam drugs) so I’m off to the physio today to see what else I can do to reduce the swelling besides RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation – see I sound like a pro now). Besides the legs the rest of me has pulled up quite well, the upper back, shoulders and neck were quite sore but a couple of chiro visits have sorted all that. I’m hoping I can get the legs right soon as I would like to go out for a trot and need to prepare for my next long run or even train for the 100km walk.

Onto the mental aspects, and I’m sure there are a lot less views written about this side of the event. I spent the good part of 30 weeks preparing for this event, with the last 4 months being the intense ones, involving a raft of mental training (not to mention those ridiculous 30km training runs – who in their right mind goes for a “training run” that takes 3 and a half hours????), therefore I have had a single focus for six months. I am going to run a marathon.  A quote form the book mentioned above:

Training and running for a marathon is not a single event; rather, it is an experience. It is a discovery of self that will forever change your perceptions, perspectives, priorities, and possibilities. You will meet yourself at what you thought were the boundaries of your potential and endurance and watch in awe as they evaporate to reveal only open expanse. To know that the only boundaries in life are those which we create ourselves is a discovery which can not be taught – it must be experienced. For once you have seen the view from the mountain top, living a life of voluntary blindness is no longer an option.

Big bloody boots to fill once you’ve run the bloody thing… physical and mental energy has been mutually focussed on one goal and I followed a very structured program in order to achieve that goal….so what now???? At this stage I’m going to let the body recover, plan and train for my 100km walk, and assess the possibility of running another marathon. This may not come about, I will continue to run and I may stick to the “easier” 21km half marathons where I don’t hit the wall, but then again there are so many things I could have done differently – rest better beforehand, relax and recuperate afterwards, be in a familiar place, are just two examples of a myriad of things, maybe one day I’ll put them all to the test again.

In the interim I will be keeping this blog up to date with our 100km training efforts and if you feel like throwing a few dollars our way please visit any donation however small is most welcome and I’m also proud to announce that our employer CGU Insurance has agreed to match our fundraising $ for $ (up to a maximum of $1,000) – most appreciated CGU>

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

All done - I finished a marathon

It's the day after the Cadbury Marathon in Hobart and I thought I better update my blog to let you all know that I did finish it, yep I ran a marathon, well walked/ran for the last 10kms and there was more walking than running for a couple of kilometres in there, but hey I finished the marathon. Updating the blog via the iPad is going to be a bit of a struggle as I hurt all over, but more on that later.

The day started at 3.30am with the usual breakfast of peanut butter on an English muffin and a coffee only normal thing about the day really, as what sort of person gets up at 3.30am to torture themselves? I had all my gear ready, gels, replacement tablets (replace carbs and minerals and stuff like that, not my sanity), bib, drinks, shoes all waiting for me so a quick get ready plan went into play. I then had a quick 10 mins walk to the local Hotel where the race bus departed, but let me advise you Hobart's street lighting is seriously inadequate and we are during a new moon, so the area was pitch black and it is hilly, "Streets of San Francisco" style so I was cautious, didn't want to roll an ankle on the way to the race bus, that would make a funny story after 30 odd weeks of training....not.

Met my buddy (and training guru, supporter and more) George at the bus (I was on it, he was wandering around it outside thinking I was running late or had chickened out) and we then headed out to the race start. The journey consisted of George telling me things like "we run up this hill", "we pass this place" etc. and me staring out the window into the pitch black wondering how he has night vision.

Not a lot to report per race except a couple of compulsory nervous toilet breaks and a panic moment where George let me know that even though it was a loop course of two lots of 21kms we don't actually go back into the chocolate factory grounds, we turn around about 1km out. Now that wouldn't have been much of a big deal but I'd left my carb replacement drinks with a friend who was going to meet me half way for a top up (or belt swap to be more precise) before she ran her own event which started later. Planning was all stuffed now, I was going to have to run the last 21kms on water and a few gels. I let her know via SMS not to worry, but she was determined to make sure I was alright. A mid race SMS from me (thank god I took my phone) and she arranged to leave my spare belt with the volunteers at the 21km mark drink station, what a legend. She did wait there for a few hours cheering on most of the field (bar myself at the tail end) before she ran to the start of her event. Wonderful effort by my unofficial support crew.

I mentioned earlier that the race is called the Cadbury Marathon and that it starts and finishes in a chocolate factory. I didn't spot any Oompa Loompas, nor got to visit the gift shop, but I do know that I'm one of a few hundred people who have mixed long distance running with chocolate consumption. Even though I'm a vegan and didn't participate in the milk chocolate devouring comp at the finish line, I do have a couple of chocolate bars and a large purple Cadbury Marathon beach town for my efforts. It is funny to watch these athletes, who have been on strict diets for months, just throw it all out the window and hook into a family sized block of chocolate as though it was their last ever meal.

Race started with a "10 seconds to the start, 8, 7 etc", no hoopla, no sirens, guns, no timing mat (you get gun time as your official result so the 30 seconds or so it took me to get over the start line itself, as I started at the back of the field, is included in my official time, which doesn't mean a lot over such a long distance). George was with me for the first 300 metres or so, putting on film my first marathon start, and then he went off to run his own brilliant race. I was running next to Olympic Gold medalist, Cathy Freeman for the first half a kilometre or so and was tempted to go a little harder to say "I've beaten Cathy Freeman over 400 metres" but that would be stupid, funny but stupid as a still had 42kms ahead of me. Race started with a few loops of the surrounding housing area and a number of my buddies from parkrun, who were running in later events (half marathon and 5kms) were probably the loudest cheer squad on course, yelling "go messy boy" as I passed them on those loops. Thanks guys, started my day with a huge smile, and even had people a lot later in the race tell me that I didn't look that messy, so great encouragement.

We then headed down a pretty big hill, which meant we were going to have to run back up it 41kms later - ouch, and onto the main roads, passing the world class MONA Gallery, around the back of the Elwick racecourse (where the Hobart cup will be run later this month) and over this bridge, which had a steady climb, just what you need for aching legs. On the bridge I was passed by a very fast police motorcycle who was leading out the half marathon runners, and quite a few guys who were running faster than I do 200m sprints and they were keeping that up for 21kms!

Once over the bridge you do a turnaround, back to where we started (roughly) and then do it all again.

The second time I got to the Elwick racecourse I hit the infamous "wall", about 29 kms into the event my brain was pushing me to finish and my body was just stopping. You read all about it in all the books and articles but until you've experienced it you can't explain what it is like (or seen it as everyone around me was also dropping like flies - and being a loop course I could see the same thing happening to the people who were way in front of me). This is when the mental toughness had to kick in - focus on a witches hat about 50m away and get to it, and then do it again, and again and again ad infinituum (well that's what it felt like).

I did have to have a quick toilet break about 36 kms in and getting down the steps of the portaloo was interesting in itself, as was the officials deciding to open the roads to traffic one hour earlier than scheduled "as there weren't many of us left on the course". This caused a bit of undue stress as there wasn't always footpaths to follow so I had to remain alert to oncoming traffic.

Three kilometres from the finish I pass a bas station and sitting there was George, Scott and Joanne, all ready to get me through the last bit of pain. Now no disrespect here, but after getting through 39kms there was no way in the world I was not going to finish, but their presence did buoy me a little as I pushed through the last big hill and onto the finish line.

Over the line I get a large medal, a Cadbury's beach towel, some chocolate and a huge cheer from my support crew and my wonderful family, who had put up with months of training and days of laziness leading up to the event as well the upcoming days of complaining about the pain after the event.

A special thanks to George, Joanne, Scott, Carol, Troy and Jarrod for the efforts in keeping me going during the event itself, cheers, high fives, words of encouragement etc. all helped heaps. Thanks also to George, Dom, Kathryn, Phil, Julie and Jane who met me for long runs during training. A special thanks to Kai, Carol, Jane, Dennis, Jo, Jaymie, Oyiela, Kathryn, Teresa, Phil, Julie, Kevin, Joanne, Scott and Ana who all donated to the Clown Doctors. A great result of $404.20 for the charity.

I'll be checking in again in the coming days with a number of post race humorous tales as I stagger about with a ruined body and will be keeping this blog going with updates on how I'm tracking for the 100km Oxfam Trailwalk in April.

Photos to be uploaded later today.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Three more sleeps until the marathon

Well hasn’t Tasmania been having a horrendous time of it recently? Hottest day since records began, bushfires all over the place with 100’s out of homes and their Big Bash Team needs to win quite handsomely to make the Semi Finals (I know that is not that important but I thought I’d add it to make it a nice three horrible things going on in the Apple Isle). Things are only going to get better for them though as I fly in today with the family to spend a few $, laze around (I’ll call it a taper) and get mentally prepared for my first ever 42km run.

Since my last post (where I’d just finished my last 30km training run) I have officially been in “taper” mode, where you slow things down and stock up the energy for race day itself. My taper has consisted of a few short runs and two longer runs of 15kms and 13kms as well as rice, pasta, wine and cider all to boost those carbs for the energy stores. I know a few others who have been doing yoga, pilates, swimming etc. seriously guys I’m not going to finish top 10 so my arvo naps and green tea will do it for me (we’ll see on Sunday of course)!!!

Last Sunday a group of Parkrunners took part in a scavenger style hunt around the streets of Albert Park and St Kilda, topping it off with breakfast. A great morning was had by all and I can only urge people to get involved in these local events, as there are heaps of friendly people arranging fun events which help your fitness as well as adding smiles to your face. Great effort by the organisers last weekend it was a blast.

Not a lot to report really, I’ll post a few photos of Tasmania if I get a chance, prior to the run but the remainder of my week will be taken up with relaxing times, including a much anticipated visit to the MONA Gallery one of the highlights of any visit to Tasmania. I’ve packed a couple of books as I’ll be reading a lot, and hopefully will be fine to do a little sightseeing on the Monday post run. There are plans to do the 20/20 cricket on the Saturday night as I've never visited Bellerive (so wanting to add that to MCG, SCG, Gabba and WACCA visits) as well as a forest walk of some lazy description (no stupid hiking a day out like I did in Marysville). Kids will be keen to see some convict history and the markets are always popular with tourists on the Saturday morning.

There's quite a few Melbournians heading down for the event on Sunday so there will be a nice support crew to cheer me on - thanks heaps guys. And there are plans to do a Facetime link up with all the participants we know who are competing in Two Bays 56km and 28km events on the same day - good luck to all of them, maybe next year for me.

As part of the run I’m raising funds for the Clown Doctors in Tasmania (If you haven't heard about the Clown Doctors before, check them out at and if you’d like to chip in a few $ my fundraising page is at every little bit helps. A huge thanks to all the supporters so far, whether financial, mental or training, it’s been a great journey and with only a few days to go I’m eagerly awaiting the outcome of my 42km jog/run.