Sunday, December 21, 2014

I've run 1000km this year!

This year I decided to keep a record of the exercise I did. For running, I wrote down the distance and times of all my runs.
I found this to be really motivating as I could see how much I'd done each month, and I didn't want any month in the calendar to look empty after that!

I highlighted my runs in pink, which then made it easy to add up the distances at the end of each month. Once I started doing this, I saw I was close to 100km one month, so it spurred me on to run a little extra and reach that 100km mark in April! 

Then later in the year I added up each month and realised that I was going to be close to 1000km run over the course of the whole year.
To me that sounds like a lot. It doesn't really mean anything, it is just a number, but quite a large number and I decided to make that my target for the end of the year, to run 1000km in one year.

I just did it!

My husband and kids came with me for a final 3km run yesterday so I could reach that 100km mark.

I'm quite amazed and proud that I've run so far. I don't know what I've run in previous years as I've never kept a record like this.

There are still a few days left in the year and I may run a few more kilometres too!

Do you keep a record of how far you run in a week? month? year?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Great Barrier Reef Half Marathon Race Report 2014

A few weeks ago I ran in the Great Barrier Reef half marathon in Port Douglas. I've done a few half marathons before but only as 'fun runs' where I didn't train and just ran a bit walked a bit.
This time I wanted to train and be able to run the whole way.

It was early November and very hot and humid - even at the start time of 6.30 am.
The run started with around 5 km along the beach - good hard sand and a beautiful setting. The course then turned in through the houses and out onto the main road out of town. Under a bridge and onto a track through the cane fields and back out onto a small road to the halfway turnaround point.  

Coming back the same way along the track to the main road into town, which we then followed alongside basically all the way back and finished by the beach again.

I was so pleased that I managed to run the whole way which was my goal. The last couple of kilometres I may have been faster to walk and run but that wasn't the point!  It was a hard slog mentally, to just keep going and not stop.

I'd only gone 17 km non-stop running in training, so when it got hard in the race before the 17 km mark, I kept telling myself I couldn't stop because I knew I'd done at least 17 km before. Then once I'd passed that mark, it was only 4 km to go, and out of 21 km, that's a short way, and I wouldn't let myself stop then. Good logic!

I've done 18 km trail runs before (see my train race report from a few weeks earlier). But that's hard in a different way as there are up and downhills and lots of concentration on where you're putting your feet, so you tend to think less about the 'keeping going' part.

In this half marathon race, it was a straightforward flat run, so mentally the tough part was to just keep going - there were few distractions from the hard slog!

I finished in a time of 2:09.28, which was 21st in my age category.

I'm pretty happy with that - and with the beautiful medal we got at the end, which is also a fridge magnet and a bottle opener!!

Now I'd like to try a half marathon race in winter when it's not quite so hot and humid!  And my new time goal is to go under 2 hours!

I'll be entering this race again in 2015.
It was so well organised, great to be a part of - a beautiful place to run, lovely running shirt and as I mentioned - a very cool medal!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cairns 2 Kuranda Train Race 2014 - Race Report

Last Sunday I took part in my 3rd Cairns 2 Kuranda train race.  This is an 18km race up a hill to try and beat the tourist train you can see in the background of the above picture.

Usually this event runs in winter, but due to unforseen events, this year's race took place in the heat of October here in the tropics.

Since the race is against the train, the race start is when the train leaves Freshwater station, which is around 9am.  By this time the sun was beating down out of a clear blue sky and the temperature was already about 32C. It was HOT!

The first part of the run is 5km on the roads. 

It is a nice run and this section of the run is the part I do well in. Just running on the flat!

Once I hit the uphill, that's when I slowed down.

I haven't managed to do a lot of uphill and trail running this year, and I really felt that, together with the heat on the 8 km trail part of the run.

Last year I did this race in 2hrs and 12 mins. This year was over 2 and a half hours, thanks to the heat!

Next year, hopefully this race will be back on in winter - and with more training, I'll be aiming to go under 2 hours!

Till then, I was very happy to find this video someone shot on the race last year.
When you get to around the 2 minute mark, the cameraman is coming up to the finish line - and in front of him you can see someone with a pink t-shirt and black shorts running - that's ME!!

In so far as beating the train is concerned, a handful of male runners have managed this - but as yet, no females. Since the train gets to Kuranda in 1 hour 30 mins, I don't think I'll be the one to break that record any time soon!  But hopefully a lady will beat that train one day!
This is a great trail race in Cairns, so well organised, and despite having a very slow year this time, I was very happy to win a spot prize at the end of some muscle gel!

Lucky me!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Great Pyramid Race 2014 - Race Report

For the past 6 years now, my husband and I have entered The Great Pyramid Race here in Cairns. The race is 12 km long and the mountain 922 m high (the worlds highest natural free standing pyramid).
 The race is described as:

“A never-ending uphill scramble and a ‘controlled’ downhill free fall”

 My report from last year's race, when I got my hydration all wrong and cramped badly, is here.

This year, my training was going well, I'd got my hydration sorted and was feeling positive...until I got sick.  It was a nasty winter cold that went to my chest and blocked my sinuses and I could not kick it!  So when the race came round (back in August), I was still coughing and blocked up, but decided to do the race anyway, just for fun and not worry about my time.

It was nice to run the race in a relaxed mode and I was surprised at my overall time when I was 'taking it easy'!  

So here's a few photos and comments on the race in general. I've used some photos from races and others from a walk we did up the mountain with our girls a few years ago, to give an idea of what the trail looks like!

Here's the start in the small town of Gordonvale:

To start the race you run all the way around the town square, with people cheering you all the way. I always go too fast on this part in the excitement of the start of the race. Once I'm past the square, round the corner and out of sight, I slow to my real pace!

First you have a 3km run to the base of the mountain, then the climb begins. It's basically non-stop uphill on a dusty, rocky track, which is sometimes a bit of a climb!

(the following pictures are from walking up the Pyramid with our kids - not race day!)

For the race, you have to reach the halfway up the mountain point under 1 hour to be allowed to continue the race. The first year we did the race, we made the cut off with just seconds to spare.  This year when I was 'taking it easy' I made it with 10 minutes to spare, which made me proud of how far I've come!

Going up, your legs and lungs burn. I can now go up the Pyramid in an hour. Coming down you use completely different muscles as you leap and bound on the rocks trying not to lose your balance! But I love that it's not hard on your breathing coming down! I can come down in 30 mins. 
(Incidentally, the race record is around 1 hour 15 mins - that's including the 3km run to and from the base, and up and down the mountain! Crazy!!)

Here's the view from the top 
(not that you stop to appreciate it on the race!)

Once you're back down the mountain, it's a relief to be running on the flat, but it's tough on your legs to keep them going for that last 3km back to the finish line!

Crossing the finish line is an awesome feeling. Especially the first year we did the race - not very prepared at all. We finished, but were basically in last place!

If you notice our time there from the first year we ran this race. It's nice to see our improvement. 
This year my husband finished in 2 hrs 12 mins; more than an hour quicker for a 12km race! Not bad.  This is a time I've matched in training but am yet to do on race day!!

It's always nice to get our finishers medals and certificates.

But what I really want is a top 3 female finish next year. I know I'm capable of it, on a good day, no illnesses etc.

Next year! I'll get there!
I love this race. It's tough and never seems to get any easier, but such a challenge and the best feeling when you've completed it!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Blue Arrow Trail - Cairns

A beautiful trail run or walk in Cairns is the Blue Arrow - a loop that follows on from the very popular and smaller Red Arrow track.  The Red Arrow is around 1 km long and is a straight forward uphill then downhill loop. I run that a few times each Wednesday as it's near where my girls have their hockey training, so it's a convenient hill workout. There are always plenty people walking or running the Red Arrow track at any time!

The Blue Arrow is a bit longer and for me takes about an hour to run combined with the Red.  My best time is 58 mins, but I haven't run it in a long time and I'm sure I could go a little faster than that now - but maybe not yet as fast as my speedy husband! It's kind of uphill with a few flat parts for the first half, then downhill, flat with small uphills for the second half. A good interesting twisting, turning trail, and nice and shady for running in the tropics on hot days!

At the weekend we took our girls around the Blue Arrow track for a walk - so it was a good opportunity to take a few photos to show the trail!

This warning sign is at the start of the Blue Arrow track.  The track isn't hard to follow, but I guess I wouldn't want to be on it after dark!

So here's a few pictures of the trail itself:

A view from near the start - out over the sea and the Great Barrier Reef. You can see Green Island from up here.

There are LOTS of steps..

And plenty of roots..

A nice distinct and clear track.

 You definitely have to be careful where you plant your feet!

There are some interesting trees and plants along the way..

Towards the end, the trees thin out and it gets brighter!

And you finish off by going down the well worn and quite civilised concrete Red Arrow Steps:

So there you have it. The Blue Arrow - Cairns. A beautiful walk, or a good trail run!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Limiting Beliefs

There is nothing that holds you back more from achieving your goals than your own limiting beliefs.
I do believe that you can do anything you set your mind to. This year I've set my mind to improving my running
So far I've won my first trail running medal and improved my PB time for a 5 km run by nearly 2 minutes.
There is however something I noticed in that last 5 km run, and I've noticed myself doing before and tried to change.  I didn't expect to run that fast in the 5 km race, and there was someone else I knew in the race that I didn't expect to even be close to. During the last couple of kilometres of the race, I could see this person ahead of me, and I was surprised but my first thought was that I couldn't catch them but I would try to keep them in my sights.  In the end they only beat me by less than 20 seconds.  Also at the end of the race, when I could see the clock and realised that I might go under 23 minutes, I managed to sprint to achieve this even though I believed at that point that I was going as fast as I could go.
Looking back at this, it makes me wonder if I could have beaten this person had I had a different attitude in my mind. If I'd had the belief in myself that I could do it. Honestly, I think I could.
Running is more than just who can go the fastest. A lot of a race is in your head. The more I run in various races, the more I'm starting to see this.  I think to improve my time further, I need to do some more races to get used to running with and against other people. And try to never limit my beliefs.

Last year before my daughter took part in her first school athletics carnival I told her the story of 'raising your hand'
A teacher asks their students to raise their hands as high as they can in the air. 
The students do this. Then the teacher asks them to raise their hands just a little bit further. Again the students do this - pushing their hands just a little higher.
The teacher then asks, "So what happened the first time I asked you to raise your hands as high as you could? If you had, you wouldn't have been able to raise them any further."
The point of this story is to show that even when you think you've given all you've got - there's always a little more left in the tank to give!
My daughter took this to heart, and in her first race, the 80m sprint, she was in 4th place with 20m to go, then she put on an extra burst and managed to win the race. Afterwards she said she told me she remembered what I'd told her about raising her hand further, and she did just that.
I need to remember this story myself, and next time I see someone ahead of me in a race - don't think, "I'll never catch them", instead I need to think, "I can catch them - let's go!" and push just that little bit harder. I might even surprise myself!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cairns Post 5km Fun Run 2014

In June, I ran my first ever 5 km 'race'.  I often run 5 km from home, and have run several trail races, but never just a straight 
5 km road race, until this one.

 Earlier this year I tried out a 5km training programme I found free on the internet. I stuck to the programme and did timed runs just from my house at the beginning and end. So I had my 'fastest time' to beat of 24 mins and 17 seconds.  Of course that was running 5 km on paths, roads, crossing roads, up and down slight inclines and measured with my husbands Garmin watch.  So I was interested to see what my time would be on just a straight forward flat 5 km run.

 My husband offered his Garmin watch for the run, but I don't usually run with it and so decided not to. I didn't want to be checking my pace all the time on the watch. I run 5 km quite often at home, so thought it best to just go with the pace I know from that.

 The run today was a 'fun run' with hundreds of competitors; so I made sure of getting as close to the front as I could for the start.

Before the start of the race, a friend told me to focus on a runner in front of me and try to stick with them. I did this with several different people who I then passed! By around the 3 km mark I found someone to focus on that I didn't catch, but found it did help me to keep going to try to keep up with them.

 I was hoping to get under 24 mins for the run, and was watching my watch now and again to see where I was with that. Close to the end I knew I'd done it, but within sight of the line I saw the big clock showing it was still on 22 minutes, so despite thinking I was by then running as fast as I could, I managed a final sprint across the line to break the 23 min mark!

 I'm so happy with my time - 22 mins 54 seconds.  Faster than I thought I would go - and a huge lift and motivation for me in my running. I'll definitely be doing more 5km races and will be back for this particular one again next year.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Coral Coast Enticer Triathlon 2014

In June, I competed in an Enticer triathlon up in Port Douglas in Far North Queensland. I did it a year ago to support my youngest daughter who was then 10 years old and doing her first triathlon. This year she was confident enough to go it alone so I decided to do it again just for me. It was a 300 m swim, 10 km bike ride and 2.5 km run. I run a lot so that part was no problem. I have a bike and like riding, so that didn't worry me either. But I'm not a swimmer so the swim was the part that worried me.

This year I was just as scared about the swim, plus it was a windy day and the sea was quite choppy! However, I think the fact that I knew I'd done it before and survived helped me, as did the decision I made before I started that I was just going to do breaststroke, which I find far more comfortable than freestyle, despite lots of people telling me that you should do freestyle in a triathlon.  So the swim went by fairly quickly and before I knew it I was running out of the water filled with total relief that the hard part was over! Transition for me wasn't a speedy thing. I know you're supposed to fly in, slip on your
shoes and helmet and you're off. But I dried off my feet, put on my shorts and t-shirt, my socks and running shoes, tied my laces, helmet on, carefully lifted down my cheap mountain bike and set off on the cycle.

I really enjoyed the ride, pedalling hard and going as fast as I could.  Several ladies flew past me, cruising along on nice skinny light road bikes! But I wasn't in the race to win - just as a challenge to myself and against myself.

Finally I finished the bike leg, and got to the run up and down the beach to finish off the race.  I could feel my leg muscles were really heavy after the ride, and could still taste the salt water I'd swallowed on the swim. But once I settled into my run and my legs loosened up a bit I enjoyed that too, and even sprinted for the finish line! I was happy to achieve my goal of finishing in under an hour. I did it in 51 minutes, and later found that I was only 46 seconds away from a 3rd place medal in my age category! Amazing!!

 Although I enjoyed the triathlon and feel a great sense of achievement having completed it, I don't have a great desire to do it again next year. To do more, I would want to improve, which would mean more swim training, and looking into buying a road bike - neither of which really appeal. I definitely enjoy running - particularly trail running more right now. But perhaps one day I may look at triathlons again - maybe in 15 or 20 years time !