Race Report: 2016 Canberra Running Festival (and also, how to train for a fun run*)

*when you have two small children, are not a runner, and aren’t going to break any records.

[Obvious disclaimer: Not an expert! Talk to one if you really want to train for a fun run!]

Two years ago I ran the 10km in the Canberra Running Festival and it was not fun. So this year, after Andy and my sister convinced gently encouraged me to register for the 2016 event when I’d not run more than 5km since before falling pregnant with Finn, I promised myself it would be different. I drew up a (very basic) training program for myself, told Toby I’d be training twice a week leaving caring responsibilities in his capable hands, and got to work.

I built up from 5km to 10km by increasing my distance by 1km every two weeks, adding in some cross-training when I could. Any time I was tempted to skip my long run (usually on Sundays – a day of rest!) I remembered how horrible that 2014 run was and how I didn’t want to feel like that again. Also, when you are at home most of the time with two small children it is actually not that hard to want to leave the house and have some time to yourself. It’s like a magic motivator.

The run was at 7am on a beautiful April morning, my favourite time of year in Canberra. I’d been up most of the night before because Finn had started childcare orientation, so obviously he had gastro that night. That he’d caught from spending two hours in a childcare room. Because of course. I thought I’d be okay without much sleep; I was mostly worried about coming down with it myself before I had to leave, but I was feeling fine so off I went.

I had my new playlist ready to go, thanks to Spotify, I was perfectly dressed for the weather (tip: pay attention to the temperature during your training, and what you’re wearing, and how comfortable you are), and I was feeling really great. And that feeling just continued.

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I’d done most of my short runs around Red Hill and Mystery Bay with lots of hills and had been getting discouraged at my times, but I was so glad to have done so many hills as I barely noticed the ones on this route, not even the one I remembered being a killer from last time. And instead of completely losing sight of Jude for the whole thing I managed to keep her in sight for most of it, which was excellent motivation. I never felt the need to walk. I started to struggle a bit around the 8km mark, so I couldn’t catch up to her for the finish like I’d planned, but once I hit the 9km mark I felt stronger and finished with a time of 1 hour 1 minute 30 seconds – a whole 30 seconds off my previous personal best.

I just about cried when I crossed the finish line, I was so proud of myself. Jude was still there drinking her Hydralyte (she just calls it cordial, because she calls a spade a spade does Jude) so I jumped up and down to make sure she knew how amazing I was. I nearly hugged the girl who gave me my medal. I hung around the event for a while so I could give dad a pep talk for his 5km event starting at the far more civilised time of 9am. But then I started to feel a bit ill, a bit bad for Toby being stuck at home with two kids, one of whom had gastro, so I high-tailed it out of there. (I was fine, by the way. And so was Toby, because both kids had slept until 8.30. Because of course they do that for dad.)

So, if you’re thinking wow, if a person who spent 30 years making up lame excuses to avoid running can now actually enjoy a “fun” run and somehow manage to spend time away from her children then I can do that too, read on!

First, decide you will do a fun run. Talk to other fit people who will encourage you. Don’t mention it to anyone who thinks “fun run” is an oxymoron. Choose one far enough in the future that you’ll be feeling comfortable with the distance, but not so far that you lose your mojo in the meantime. Twelve weeks or less. Then, start training. You can get programs online, in books, or just in your running app on your phone. (You should get an app either way, so you can track your distances and get friendly updates on your pace. I use Run Keeper.) I didn’t follow a specific program this time, because SMALL CHILDREN. I just aimed for a part realistic (one long run a week, two rest days a week when I was at home with two children), part idealistic (four other sessions, including Jazzercise, strength, HIIT and a short/fast/hilly run, plus continuing my core work) program. Some weeks I did it all; lots of weeks I only managed the long run and a Jazzercise class.

If something isn’t working during your training, fix it. Bored? Change up the playlist, switch to podcasts, try running in silence (I’m too scared to try this but many people swear by it), invite a friend, go to a different spot. Disappointed in your times or that you’re still feeling shattered by the end of your long run? The route might be the problem – I was struggling to get past the 7km mark until I switched from the trails around Red Hill to a flat concrete route around Lake Burley Griffin. It’s boring but suddenly I was able to do 10km, and I still do the hills on my short run days. Uncomfortable in your clothes? Invest in a new bra or pants (we don’t want any wobbling), new shoes, socks, whatever it takes. Also, wear sunnies and a hat even if it’s not that sunny. I can’t believe the number of people I see who are so busy squinting and brushing the sweat out of their eyes that they trip over themselves. Really sore? Invest in a foam roller (seriously), book a massage, do more stretching. No, like really sore, like something is wrong? Then go see a physio and think about booking into a running coaching session for some help with technique. You shouldn’t be in real pain. But, don’t let annoying socks or an outdated play list stop you. You’re going to make it!

Finally, organise a post-run celebration of some kind. If you know other people in the same event, convince them to join in. Whether it’s hanging around afterwards for an egg and bacon roll or meeting up at the pub later for a debrief, book it in. Don’t be shy to go to the nearest coffee strip still in your sweaty gear. You won’t be the only ones and you’ll get to feel all smug in amongst the hangover crowd.

I hope this encourages at least one person to give it a go. For me, that feeling of accomplishment at the end was worth every tough kilometre in the lead-up, every Sunday morning spent pounding the pavement when I could have been still in my pyjamas. When you spend your days knee-deep in nappies and play-dough it can be really empowering to do something that’s just for you. Massive thanks to Toby who was just as committed as me to making sure I got out there and didn’t die. It feels really good to be back.

 

 

Race Report: Lifeline Fun Run (and the people you see at fun runs)

I put off writing about this fun run because I was pregnant at the time and it was impossible to talk about it without also mentioning that fact, which is fortunate overall but was very unfortunate when it came to this event. Much like 2013’s challenging runs – either due to hail or unexpected ascents – this one unexpectedly pushed us to our limits. Jude and I signed up together, convinced by the excellent cause it was supporting, the fact we’d get to run on the not-even-opened-to-traffic-yet Majura Parkway, and we’d neglected to enter a single bush marathon in 2014. (I blame the fact that the space tracker station event was held on my birthday this year.) I signed up for the 10km, downloaded a training program onto my phone, started training, promptly discovered I was pregnant, fell prey to dreadful morning sickness, knew I wouldn’t be able to finish training, and emailed the lovely Karen at Lifeline to switch to the 5km. Jude joined me in solidarity, because that’s what sisters do.

It was held on 23 November, a time of year with an average temperature in Canberra of 22 degrees.

It was 38 degrees.

That’s pretty much all you need to know: pregnant lady who hasn’t trained, “running” in unseasonably hot weather. The start line was at a winery (read: no shade). The route was on a brand new highway (read: no shade). It was 33 degrees by the time I hobbled over the finish line at 10.15. I’d walked the vast majority of it, emptied both my water bottles (which I don’t normally run with because I don’t run marathons, but I have a runner’s belt to carry them when I’m pregnant), ate all my snacks (one of the cruelties of pregnancy nausea is that eating helps – which means you start putting on weight immediately and you actually get sick of stuffing your mouth with more starches), rested for a good few minutes under the only shade available (a bridge), and still felt like I was going to die by the end. It was unpleasant, to say the least.

Huddling in the shade before we begin.

Huddling in the shade before we begin.

I did feel sorry for the Lifeline organisers, because on any other day (including the day before or after) this would have been a great event. But it was a terrible setting for such heat and sun and you could just tell everyone was super hot and cranky whether they’d done the marathon or 5km. It was the event’s first year so hopefully next year the weather will be kinder and they will still get a good turnout.

All that walking did give me time to think though, and especially ponder on the types of people you see at fun runs. Anyone who thinks they wouldn’t fit in at a fun run needs to go and have a look, because everyone fits in.

There are the people who are chronically underprepared. They show up in jeans or sandals or the same worn-out sneakers they’ve been walking the dog in for ten years. They don’t have a hat and they’re wearing the wrong bra. They look uncomfortable before they begin, or sometimes I wonder if they were just walking past, saw there was a fun run, and decided to join right then.

At the other end of the spectrum are people who are uber prepared for their 5km event. They’re wearing top-to-toe skins, even in mild weather. They’re carrying three litres of water as well as a back pack (presumably that’s where the first aid kit is). They’ve got their Garmin all set up, sometimes even two in case one fails, and the best sneakers money can buy. They’re stretching and jogging and laughing bravely in case anyone thinks they are at all nervous or unprepared.

There are the gym goers who are usually middle-aged and overweight and wearing the T shirt the gym or personal training company gave them, and they’ve been training for months for this event because any “10 Tips To Get In Shape” article will recommend having a clearcut goal to motivate you. They’re in a nervous group but they always try really hard and I hope when I am that age and shape I’m still getting out there and having a go even if I’m scared.

You can tell the marathon runners because they are all tanned and sinewy with bald heads and mirrored sunglasses. They wear tiny running shorts and nothing on top, or a fluoro bra if they’re female, and look like they live on spinach and egg whites. Sometimes they look like they are in their element and it’s easy to wish you loved something as much as they love running. But other times they look absolutely wrecked like they’d rather be anywhere else, and then you’re just glad that you have friends and food in your life, as well as running, because that’s called being well-rounded and it gives you something to look forward to after your run.

There are the do-gooder groups, wearing T shirts for an important cause or another, who don’t really try that hard but they wave their flags and make sure everyone knows what they are really there for. There’s the families, skinny kids with skinny mums and dads, and I can’t wait for Emma to start coming with me so she grows up knowing running is not to be feared. There’s the veterans, who look a lot like the marathon runners only more weathered and much happier, presumably just to be alive and still running.

These are the sorts of thoughts you have while you’re having to finish a 5km as slowly as possible lest you and your unborn child melt to the pavement. I didn’t run for 6 weeks after that, but now the morning sickness has eased I’m looking forward to getting out for some more slow runs before I really can’t do it anymore.

Race Report: 2014 Canberra Running Festival

This was my third year participating in the Canberra Running Festival. The first year I was pregnant, ran 5km (I think I even walked some of it) and didn’t run again until after Emma was born. Last year I entered the 10km, trained my butt off beforehand doing the Michelle Bridges 12WBT program, and did a PB of 1 hour 2 minutes. Given how much I’d prepared, I declared that was probably my peak and I’d never do better than that time. I do not have the natural ability. I do not have the motivation. I do not have the time. I was comfortable with the idea that I would never run 10km in less than 60 minutes.

And thank goodness for that, because I was woefully unprepared for my second 10km at the Festival.

April snuck up on me this year. I registered for the run with less than a week to go. Two weeks before that, I’d realised I had not run 10km since November. I’d been in what my dad called lazy maintenance mode – an easy 5km run, once a week or once a fortnight. I’d only done one fun run all year and it was the 5km Colour Run back in February. So I went out one afternoon to do 10km, got lost around Red Hill, went over Red Hill instead, walked for that bit, and got home an hour 20 minutes after I’d left. Toby was just about to send out the search party.

The next weekend I didn’t get a chance to go for a run, and the weekend after that was the event itself. I managed to fit in an easy 5km a few days beforehand, but otherwise I was woefully unprepared. The weather forecast was 10 degrees and raining. The start time had moved from a very respectable mid-morning to 7am. Despite all these negative signs, I was looking forward to it. I’d be ably accompanied by speedy Jude, who’d been religiously following the Lazy Runner 10km program. It was becoming a tradition for us to do this race together.

Photo: Yay lets run

Super excited at the start line!

But then…oh the pain. Here are the problems I encountered.

I hadn’t trained. Duh. At every single distance point, I was disappointed. ‘Only 3km?’ ‘Only 7km?’ The only flag that did not make me want to stab myself was the last – 9km. ‘I can totally do one more k.’

I overdressed, expecting higher winds at the lake. 30 seconds before the start time, I suddenly realised I didn’t need my extra layer. But my number was pinned to it with 4 safety pins – no time to strip down.

I bought new songs for my running playlist, but didn’t go through the playlist itself. There were songs in there that shouldn’t have been, plus a few odd remixes. I think I heard Bastille’s Pompeii three times in different tempos. ‘Shuffle’ is not random.

Photo: Amazing daughters who like running. We cheered them over the line at the end of 10 kms. The mystery of genetics!!

Jude looking refreshed and relaxed, because she prepared. Me looking shit-faced, because I didn’t. Lesson learned.

The course had changed this year for the 10km. Instead of three laps around Telopea High School you went up along the front of Parliament House, then down along the lake for a bit, then back up in front of Old Parliament House. The parts around the lake were a bit hilly and I stopped at the 7km mark for a drink, which I don’t usually do, but as feared my overdressing meant I overheated a bit. The last kilometre was all flat or downhill, which was an improvement on the uphill at Telopea. And the final stretch was the tree-lined walkway between the Finance and Treasury buildings in front of OPH. During the week this is crowded with suits walking from one building to another, but on race day it was lined with cheering people and was an awesome way to finish.

I was very, very happy to cross the finish line. My official time of 1 hour 5 minutes wasn’t as shocking as I was expecting, only a few minutes longer than last year and considering the additional pain this year, that was a pleasant surprise. I had a cheer squad of Mum and Dad and Dave and Jude, whose preparation paid off when she shaved a minute off her time from last year. Cheer squads are the best. Jude and I went home for showers and then met up again for breakfast and a debrief. It’s very important to re-fuel.

My next run will be the Mother’s Day Classic in a few weeks, but I have intelligently agreed to be on a friend’s 5km team. And after that, I will surely have to sign up for the next Bush Marathon. For which I will train. At least twice.

Working out, Youtube style

Once upon a time, I worked in the city and went to the gym at lunchtime. So easy and people always thought I was amazing, which is nice. I always had a better afternoon after a visit to the gym – no 3pm slump for me!

Then I got sick of the gym I was going to, and switched gyms to one closer to home. I started going after work. I’d scoot up Adelaide Avenue on Bianca The Scooter, do a 5.30pm class and be home in time to cook dinner. Sensible Sister Jude had a similar routine, and even though I’m not one for workout buddies it was nice to see a friendly face and it probably did keep me a bit more accountable.

Then I moved jobs. Suddenly it wasn’t so easy to get to the gym in time for a 5.30 class, even though I was now closer to the gym. So I bit the bullet and began morning workouts. Now that’s something people will give you a sainthood for. I’ve never been a morning person and it was a struggle but I loved the fact that it was done for the day, and also my hair looked awesome for work because I did it in the morning after the gym rather than the night before. My first class I remember being amazed how many people were there. I thought I was doing this amazing superhuman thing but there were 100 other people at the gym doing it too. There are tricks to making this work, including putting out your clothes the night before, figuring out what to eat/drink beforehand (for me, nothing), going to bed at a reasonable hour, and obviously not using the snooze button.

Once I was pregnant and extraordinarily tired most of the time, I just tried to get to the gym, somehow, sometime. Then once I was back into exercising after Emma was born I fit it in where I could, usually during the day – when Emma was sleeping, with her in the pram, or when I could get a babysitter or Toby was around on the weekends. I didn’t do early mornings because I figured I needed all the sleep I could get. I still feel this way even though Emma has now been sleeping through regularly for 9 months.

This phase has passed now I’m working more and Emma doesn’t sleep for long periods in the pram, and I’ve had to get creative again. One of my new year’s resolutions for 2014 was to re-prioritise exercise. It totally dropped off the radar by the end of last year – we had a run of illnesses and other dramas and stresses, including a death in the family, not to mention the usual holiday busy-ness. Re-prioritising exercise means that every Sunday when I write out my to do list for the week, I include my workouts. What will I do and when – and then I try to stick to it. Most weeks, I won’t stick to it completely but I’ve always believed it’s worth aiming for more than what’s achievable. If you aim to work out 5 days a week, you should actually do it 3 or 4 times. Whereas if you just aimed for 3 times, you’d probably only achieve one or two. In an ideal week, I use Emma’s nap times on the days I’m home. Then I go before work on 2 of my 3 work days, because I need a sleep-in on the day between. I sometimes do something during lunchtime of the third day, and I try to do something once or twice over the weekend depending on what else is going on.

The workouts at home during Emma’s nap time are the biggest struggle. What to do? Toby’s got a reasonably well equipped home gym but it’s buried in the depths of man land, under piles of laundry and upended tool boxes and papers that need to be filed and I do not find it an environment conducive to a good workout. Sometimes I use the p90x DVDs, sometimes I’ll pull out an old 12wbt workout or use the strength workout in the book ‘Run Less, Run Faster’. But lately I’ve discovered something that probably other people have known for years. Working out via YouTube.

That’s right, YouTube is not just videos of cats playing with wool and ‘how to make gnocchi’ and bloopers. There are full-length workouts in there too. Yesterday I did a 25 minute HIIT workout – perfect for something that needed to fit in with a nap time (along with vacuuming, lunch and my favourite part – ‘doing nothing’). I’ve done dance workouts, stretches, abs, and so on. The biggest annoyance is probably the lack of music, due to copyright issues I assume. So you can play some tunes on your laptop or iPod or TV – if you have a Playstation you can use the Vidzone like I’ve been doing and then you get to watch the video clips of the music too and you might as well be at the gym.

My final tip is to close the blinds while you’re doing it, or else you might find the dodgy neighbours are getting an eyeful while they sit on camping chairs on their front lawn, as dodgy neighbours are wont to do.

Sorry for a very self-indulgent entry but I am always interested in how people manage their time and we could all do with more chocolate cake (refined sugar free, naturally), which means we could all do with more exercise.

Recent Loves

Toby once suggested I was too liberal with my use of the word love. I was 21 when we met and good at being 21, including by professing my undying love for everything and everyone. Avocado on toast? Love. Toby’s roommate, who I barely knew but was polite and laughed at my jokes? Love. Bodypump class? Love.

It’s 11 years later and I still love everything. I also have many favourites. Toby only benefits from this, being my most beloved and most favourite of all. I can’t imagine life without loving things, truly, madly and deeply. It must be very dull, to only ever like things. In any case, here are some recent things in my life that I love.

My rumble roller. I’ve already documented my deep affection for the foam roller, which continues to send me to a level of bliss I probably shouldn’t talk about on a public blog. But it wasn’t enough. Hauling a toddler around plus weights/yoga/pilates work means I end up with these knots in my shoulders and the only way to fix them is for Toby to hold his thumbs out like he’s giving me a thumbs up, and I grind my back into them until Toby begs me to stop because he is afraid of breaking something (either in my back or his hand, I’m not sure). This routine wasn’t sustainable. Enter the rumble roller, which my dear mother in law commented looked like a piece of medieval torture equipment. It’s seriously brutal and seriously good. (So brutal that I couldn’t find anywhere in Canberra that sold it. Canberra, land of the X-rated adult shop!) Forking out $100 seemed a bit steep when we already had a roller, but a massage costs about the same every time and this way I can give myself a massage several times a week. And yes, I still use the regular foam roller so yes, I do need two. (Purchased from here which I would highly recommend.)

True Detective. Toby fell asleep during the first episode, but I think this is one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson play a couple of cops investigating a serial killer. The show moves between their investigation (about 15 years ago) and the present day, when they are being interviewed separately during a new investigation. There’s only 3 episodes that have aired so far, and we’ve only watched 2, but I’m already looking forward to the next one. Definitely worth a watch.

Vanilla cupcakes. I made these for a friend’s birthday recently and thought they were some of the best cupcakes I’d ever eaten, let alone made. The method is unusual and a lot of bloggers who had shared the recipe were like, ‘There’s no creaming of the butter and sugar! This is amazing!’ As a descendant of Theresa McKinnon, I rarely cream the butter and sugar anyway, so this wasn’t such a big deal to me, but the method still seemed to end up making a unique and delicious cupcake. I’m not sure the frosting is as amazeballs as a lot of bloggers made it out to be. Sure it’s good – but it’s sugar and butter, so it’s going to be. Possibly this is because I didn’t have the right attachment on my mixer, I’m not sure. It’s very rich frosting so you need to make sure you get the ratio of frosting and cake right – the cake is (unusually?) the best bit, so you don’t want it to be lost under too much frosting. Anyway if you want something simple and yummy, this might be it. I think I might need to visit the Hummingbird Bakery next time I’m in London.

Race Report: Deep Space Tracking Station 10km

Any time I’m struggling through a run – to get up a hill say, or finish some speed work – I remind myself what I went through to get Emma. You can do this! I tell myself. You pushed for two and a half freaking hours! You thought you were going to split in half! If you can do that without drugs you can get up a freaking hill!

The problem with this kind of motivational talk is that the reward for getting up the hill (i.e. getting up the hill) is not nearly as motivating as the reward for pushing for two and a half hours (i.e. Emma). This is why you can never get men to go through pain like childbirth – like these guys tried to do. Of course they could get through it, if you held their baby out in the corridor and told them they only got the baby once they were finished with the pain. Women don’t get through childbirth just because they’re awesome. They do it because a) their baby depends on it and b) at some point, the process is completely out of their hands. Babies come out, somehow, whether you’ve given up or not. This is not at all like running up a hill, as it turns out.

The Deep Space run was held by the Mountain Running Association – the same folk who brought us the semi-disastrous Bush Capital Bush Marathon back in July, when we ran through hail. I was feeling more positive about this one. The setting was great – out in Namadgi National Park, running between the Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral tracking stations, a beautiful spot half an hour’s drive out of Canberra. And it wasn’t the middle of winter – even though in 2009 runners had run through snow, that was an anomaly at this time of year.

The email detailing the courses had mentioned the ascent levels for the marathon and half marathon, but not for the 10km or 5km, erroneously leading me to believe we didn’t have an ascent worth mentioning. I’d be running with both my sister and my friend Helen, who I’d met through baby-related activities and had enjoyed many pram-laden runs around the lake with. I’d tried and failed to follow a Runkeeper program to do 10km under 60 minutes, settling on a two-runs-a-week routine that was just enough for a non-runner with limited leisure time to deal with. I wouldn’t be breaking any records, but I was feeling okay. It was looking good for my last run of the 2013 season.

The first sign that all was maybe not well was the email a few days out from the run. The weather forecast was in. Overnight low of five degrees. High probably of rain. ‘Come dressed for wet, windy, cold weather,’ the email concluded, gloomily.

Jude and I briefly discussed going to the coast for the weekend instead. But we decided to stick it out. It couldn’t be any worse than July, surely, we told ourselves. Helen comforted herself by reasoning the cold would keep away the snakes she was nervous about. Closer to the day, the weather forecast got marginally more promising. Less rain, anyway.

Jude picked me up at 6.30 am and we got to the course start line at 7.30, at which point the second sign we were in trouble appeared. Although it was super chilly, the rain was holding off and we were feeling positive until we got into a conversation with a race veteran – 6 years he’d been doing this run, he said. Someone asked him about hills and he laughed.

‘The worst one’s in the first bit,’ he said. ‘Then the way back’s a bit better, but there’s a few before the finish line, just enough to break your heart.’ He told us that after six years he still walked 2km worth of the course every time, and then someone asked him how the worst hill compared to the saddle behind Mount Ainslie.

‘It’s maybe one and a half times as long,’ he said.

I was starting to wonder what I’d got myself in for. The saddle behind Mount Ainslie is pretty tough. I can run the whole thing but it’s pretty awful and I hate it and I hate myself until I get to the top and then I feel okay again and forgive myself. But then another part of me wondered how bad it could really be. The email hadn’t even mentioned an ascent! People were doing a marathon over this course! Maybe the old guy was a pretty crap runner! Have I mentioned I pushed for two and a half hours!

My goals with my fun runs have always been pretty humble: to not walk, and to finish before the van goes around picking up the stragglers. The only times I’ve walked were during my pregnancy when I was trying to keep my heart rate down, and I’ve always been finished in plenty of time before the sad wagon heads off. I was about to be humbled by my extremely humble goals.

Jude and I managed the first two hills together, in our slowest gear. Lots of other people started to walk on the first hill and I inwardly scoffed at them. Then on the third hill I felt like I was going to throw up and maybe pass out, so I started walking. Jude kept going and I was really jealous until she started to walk on the next hill and I caught up to her. After that the seal was broken, as Jude put it, and there was no reason to kill ourselves by actually running this ‘fun’ run. We even stopped for a drink at the drink station, which was about 3 km in – yes, we had already walked in the first 3km. Our new goal was just ‘to finish’. I’m not even sure this race came with a sad wagon – they would have needed a pretty serious 4WD to get all the way through.

From the drink station it was far more bearable – mostly flat and a bit downhill to the 5km mark, at which point we turned around and headed back.

We were going so slow we even stopped to take a picture.

We were going so slow we even stopped to take a picture – Jude at the halfway mark.

The second half was far more bearable – partly because we knew what we were up against, and took it really easy. The nice thing about the bush running folk is how friendly everyone is – all the marathoners would smile and say hello, even though they were surely in even more pain than we were. (We could barely grunt out an acknowledgement.) It doesn’t feel competitive, it just feels like you are out on a Sunday morning with some nice people who like being in the bush. The setting was also beautiful, of course – you felt like you were a million miles away.

The rain hit just as we got back to the drink station, so we still had 3km to go – but it didn’t seem to matter, not really. We were on the home stretch, we were slow and oh so sore but we were going to finish, somehow.

Jude disappears over the ridge.

Jude is usually much, much faster than me (and you’ve probably guessed by now Helen was miles ahead of both of us) but the nice thing about this run is we did so much of it together. It’s nice to have company and I’m sure she kept me moving faster than I would have otherwise. I think I finished about 30 seconds after her which is better than the usual several minutes.

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I’ve never been so glad to see a finish line.

The rain stuck around and those heartbreaker hills right at the end did their job, so when I saw the roof of the toilet block through the trees I was so thrilled. My time was 1:12:52 which is appalling for someone who regularly runs 10km, but I didn’t care. We’d finished and we had our free mugs to prove it. (Massive shout-out to Helen who was the second woman over the finish line with a brilliant sub-55 minute time.)

helen sisters

Funny things happen after a run like that. I was immediately sure I would never run again, even though Jude and I were immediately planning how to prepare better for next year’s run. I’m also in the process of losing a toenail. I thought I wouldn’t exercise for weeks but there I was running around the base of Red Hill four days later. Sucker.