Sunday, 23 December 2012

Why I've been walking like Roy Rogers

It has been a very long time since I last posted here, doesn’t mean I’ve dropped off the face of the earth, or given up my marathon goal, or become lazy it’s a simple case of being a very busy time of year. Busiest being my 50th birthday itself in early December – so now the “Can a 50 year old” header of this blog is now true.

Here’s a tip for you, if you’re planning on running your first marathon think of the 60 odd kilometres of training you’ll be doing about a seven weeks to three weeks out and see if that coincides with a major event, like a 50th, or Christmas or major work events. Don’t drop your goal because of that, just be aware of the time pressures.

Onto more amusing anecdotes though. A couple of months ago I posted about the time I ran my t1ts off (chaffing on the nipples), well a few weeks ago I was walking around like Roy Rogers for a few days after a 25km long run. This was due to the large sized 2XU skins becoming too big for me. All this running has caused me to drop 13 kilos since July and naturally I’m down quite a few clothes sizes to boot, but the wardrobe is not going to be replaced just yet, may as well wait until I’ve run the marathon in Hobart, the post Xmas sales and then restock. Having said that, baggy skins are not recommended, unless you want everyone in the office thinking you’ve been on a horse riding trail for a couple of days on the weekend. Watch them smile as you wince every step you take!!!

As training has been upped to 50-60kms per week, it has also been necessary to book in for a weekly myotherapy massage (as I told you before the practitioners tell you it’s Latin for “deep tissue” whereas it is Latin for “watch me f*ck you right over”). The process is where my masseur rubs heavily on my calves, until he finds a pea sized lump and he then proceeds to push, prod, rub and stretch it in every possible way with the most force he can possibly use, until I am beyond tears, am about to put a flailing foot into his solar plexus and then he stops and finds another spot. Or he may rip the thigh muscles apart using his palms at either end, or maybe your neck or shoulders. Once I’ve decided enough pain is enough, I pay the receptionist a healthy sum, stagger back to the office and wait for the bruises to appear. Experience tells me they look best two days later, more purple than black.

All up it’s becoming an expensive exercise, this running caper is not as simple as find a pair of runners some shorts and away you go. I have special socks, compression bandages (which were a gift I must admit) for post recovery, ointments to stop certain parts rubbing, skins (which aren’t cheap), proper shoes, drink belts, recovery powders, during run powders and gels, a watch that costs a fortune (but did help me from becoming lost one day in some wetlands I’d never run before), hats and goodness knows what else. So an $80 entry fee, $2000 or so in accessories, probably $1500 in chiro and massage bills and I’m just about ready to run a marathon.

I won’t go into a lot of the training runs that I’ve recently done, other than to thank a wonderful array of friends who have been more than supportive, joining me for 5 or 10kms to keep me motivated and on track, push me when I’m going from kilometre 20 onwards or even just the fact that they are going to be there so I can’t renege. I’ve now put in a couple of 30km training runs and although not at a great pace, they have taught me quite a few things about the marathon itself:
  • I’ll hurt
  • I’ll be grumpy when done
  • I’ll hurt some more afterwards
  • I need to get my hydration and fuelling spot on (which I think I’ve done)
  • I need to stretch more
  • I need to pack my compression gear, pre-race, during race and post-race powders and gels (I wonder if I’ll have to explain the bag of white powders and Vaseline?)
  • The last 12 kms will be the toughest, but my head is around that so I will do it, it could well be at almost walking pace but I’ll do it

So only 20 days to go until the marathon itself, and therefore I’m onto the “taper” time, whereby the 30km run I did yesterday was my last long-long run and I slowly reduce the distances so my body can store energy or some such scientific thing.

I’ll post again here before the run itself together with an update on my next big challenge (for charity) which will take place in April 2013.

Links on right hand side take you to my fund raising pages.

Friday, 16 November 2012

More running - this is getting crazy 42.57kms this week!!!

It’s been a while between drinks so I thought I better give you a running update on my goal towards the Hobart Marathon in January 2013.

Since my last blog update I’ve clocked up 91.58kms and even if I do say so myself there have been a few decent efforts in there.

Marysville Half Marathon – There is a Marathon Festival held in Marysville each year to assist the town with rebuilding after it was completely destroyed in the 2009 bushfires (37 locals lost their lives). They ask you stay 2 nights when booking for the festival to contribute back to the area so we headed up on the Friday afternoon. Saturday I stupidly decided a bushwalk up a mountain trail would be a good idea and after 8kms or so realised that the terrain was steep and tough and was feeling quite a bit worse for wear. But the next day I fronted up for my second ever half marathon with the only aim being to finish and have fun.

Finish I did, but not without a few issues. About 6 or 7kms into the event (after climbing a massive hill – whilst walking, even the pros didn’t run it), I was admiring the scenery and not looking at the terrain and took a handy tumble. With cut hands, knee, hip and back and with a few decent bruises I soldiered onto the 8km drink station where I washed the grit from my wounds. It was then onto the 10km checkpoint where I took a few minutes time out in the first aid station to get antiseptic applied and a couple of bandages added before I headed off for the final 11 kms, up to Stevensons’ Falls and then onto more riverside trails back to the finish line. My finishing time was 2:38.14 coming in 247th  that was only 9 mins 16 seconds slower than the Melbourne Half Marathon four weeks prior and this event included hills, trails, a stack and time out in first aid so I was ecstatic.

The fun was out of this world, the community feel, the friendliness, the scenery, the trails, the whole weekend was an amazing experience and I could be hooked into this trail running stuff (even if I am slow).

Another highlight was competing in the BRW Corporate Relay event with two colleagues from work, here you had to run 5kms, remove the timing anklet, pass to your team mate in a crowded transition zone and then cheer then on at the start of their run. I was the slowest of the three, but given I’d run a half marathon 3 days prior and had backed up for a training run of 7kms the day before it was amazing that I could run under 32 mins. We all had a great time, finishing off with a further slow 6kms and then dinner at a great vegetarian place in St Kilda.

Final highlight of the week was participating in ParkRun’s 1st Birthday event, where the theme was Super Heroes and Villians. I turned up dressed as Zorro and escorted my eight year old son (Batman) around the 5km track in a slow time, but with a stack of people getting into the theme and cakes, coffee, bananas and more at the finish line it was a fantastic morning. Quite a few of us may have looked ridiculous, but we put smiles on heaps of people’s faces, had fun fun fun got some fitness in and encouraged quite a few bystanders to not take themselves so seriously. Another great event by the ParkRun crew, and if you haven’t checked out their website to see if there is a ParkRun near you I thoroughly recommend you do so at

I have now been running 4 times a week with one day being a long run (that now means a single run every week of 20kms+ between now and the new year). Tomorrow the plan is to push out a slow 22.5 kms – reckon I might be a tad hungry tomorrow arvo!!!!

I’ll check in again in a few weeks’ time with a further update on how I’m progressing to my first ever 42km event.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Total rant update which means little

Here’s a bloke who is too busy at work, got a running program that is eating into all his spare time and then is feeling guilty for not updating his blog. I’ll give you a tip, if you want to keep people up to date, or motivated, or engaged then don’t have a full time gig and then decide you’re going to keep a blog going. All it will do is make your hair greyer than it originally was.

Pathetic intro really, but how else do I let you know that I ran a half marathon over two weeks ago and didn’t even bother to proclaim to the world my own personal achievement?

So here is a summary of the last 18 days since I last updated my blog:

  1.  Day one – (the Saturday prior to the half marathon) – went to my local ParkRun and did about as much as part time busker on  a Monday (ie. Spoke a lot, felt involved but contributed f* all)
  2. Day two – ran 21 kilometres – yep ran a whole half marathon. I could give you km by km run downs, but the support pacing crew helped me through 7 mins average per km and pulled me up early for being too enthusiastic, but let me go at the 18km mark (which was my fastest – how the hell did that happen???) and all up I finished inside the MCG doing a lap of the “hallowed turf” (what sort of term is that? Hallowed be thy name?? Sanctified, since when is an oval shape of grass a religious experience? Sacrosanct? Now seriously guys, you’ve just let 50,000 runners do a lap, so how sacrosanct is that???). All up I finished the half marathon in 2:28.58 so under the 2:30.0 I would have liked to have done, but in all honesty I had a goal of having fun, and another one of just finishing, to put a time constraint on my performance was not a smart thing to do, even if I did beat it. Rambling now – point 2 alone is going to constitute more than the whole blog update. BTW – Went to the soccer in the afternoon and felt alright until I decided I needed to stand up and walk around, geez those small plastic seats can do wonders for your legs…not…
  3. Monday – the day after – felt okay really just pottered around, might have even snuck in a few ciders – oops wouldn’t have done that as I was at work getting hammered.
  4. Tuesday – decided that if I’m going to run a full marathon then I better hop back on the bike, so went for a slow 5km run – it was slow but it felt okay
  5.  Next four days – not much bar getting the fluids back to a normal level, which probably included a few pints of brewed material, but to be honest it may not have as I can’t remember (so that probably means it did!!!)
  6.    Six days after half marathon – started to feel guilty as I had only put in a piddling 5km effort and what sort of marathon runner does 5kms per week. So went out for a quick 5km jog (actually I think this was a weak ParkRun - don't recall) .
  7. Next day – probably watched sport – might have even had a glass of wine whilst doing so
  8.   Day after – guilts kicked in, a long run is required, so pushed out a 12km slow run. Actually felt okay with it, must have been the wine the night before
  9.  Next day – nothing in gps so must have had more wine
  10. Next day a slow 5km effort after work (well I was locked down for two days in a planning session for  employer so ducked out before the whole team came breathing stale liquor into the breakfast room and did a run up some massive friggin mountainside in the Yarra Valley region. It raised a sweat so at least I wasn’t the only one smelly over the toast!!!)
  11.    Next 2 days – must have been more work, probably tossed and turned in bed all night wondering how the hell I’m going to run a marathon when all I do is procrastinate and fend off the guilt monster with an occasional 5km jog.
  12.  Saturday – back to ParkRun and for some bizarre reason the people who had paced me through the half marathon thought it would be a good idea to push me to a sub 30 min 5km run. Now don’t get me wrong here, all help is most appreciated, however I had plans for a light run as I was going to pump out 15kms on the Sunday. One click in and I’m not worried about tomorrow as I’m making sure I can keep up with a 5.45 per click pace. Earlier in my blog I wondered if I could ever break the 30 min mark for 5 kms – well if you’re slow like me I suggest you train 20 weeks for a half marathon, bust your guts to finish that and then back up 13 days later to run a personal best for a measly 5 kms. You’ll smash it. 29.35 is now my pb (remember that’s a serious runner’s terminology for “Personal Best”).
  13.   Sunday – plans for 15kms slow run out the window, still knackered from my Craig Mottram impersonation the day before
  14.  Monday – feel guilty for missing the 15km (how am I going to run a marathon if I’m too lazy to even back up for a 15km run?) so get the bee in my bonnet (even though it is 26 degrees Celsius)  and decide I’ll do a slow 16kms instead. Aching achilles, sore calves and a dripping t-shirt only 12kms in and I pull the pin. That is not the sign of a bloke who is committed to running 42kms in eleven weeks’ time, better start that meditation tape again – think I must have switched off whilst it was on.

Somewhere in all of that I spent a quick session with a couple of punters from ParkRun who walked me through these machines and weight thingies at a gym (no not at Jim’s house but more like one of those venues where you work out to improve your body image or muscles) – all I can say is that I didn’t realise I could have an aching ribcage from lifting a dumbbell smaller than a flashlight. It was approx. 1980 when I last hurt that much (I only say “approx.” as a few of those years were a blur) and that involved Johnny Lydon, beer, spittle and illegal substances.

There was also a “myotherapy” (apparently Latin for I’ll make every muscle in your body hurt and bruis like fu*k) session in there too – but I’m booked in for another one tomorrow so that’s probably another story.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Quick Pre Melbourne Half Marathon Update

Tomorrow is my first half marathon – yippee. So after 20 weeks of following a training guide (loosely I may add) I should be ready for 21kms of running. It will take me about the same time as a full soccer match PLUS and hour!!!! OUCH.

Just to give you an idea of the amount of training I’ve done I've put together a quick table of the date and kilometres run. Sometimes the distance doesn’t appear that far, but it could well have been hill runs or a sprinting session (eg. Sprint and walk).


It was interesting putting this together as I was looking at some of the sessions and they were “run 5 mins walk 2 mins” and in the space of 4 and a half months I’ll be running 21kms with minimal (if any) stops. I’ve done a couple of 18 km efforts and feel ready to go – taking it easy today and will be upping my carb and liquid intake to ensure I’m all set for a best effort.

I will be tweeting with photos at stages so feel free to follow me @messy_tony and unlike quite a few runners I have no time expectations as this is step one of my longer term goal of the Marathon in Hobart in January.

I'll update the blog post race with the promised opinion of myotherapy massage as well as my plans to get fit enough for 42kms sometime next week.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Training in Far North Queensland? You betcha

It has been three weeks since I updated my running and charity blog and boy have I been busy. I have been off work, right up the top of Queensland (if you count north as “top”), sitting by swimming pools, wandering through World Heritage Listed pristine rainforests, swimming in the Pacific Ocean and more. The hardest part was having to put up with the half a dozen or so nubile 20’s something bikini clad, university students on our small excursion to the Great Barrier Reef, really guys I have coral and stuff to look at!!! What has this got to do with running? Absolutely nothing, except that my running diary did look a little slim. But there were valid reasons for that.
Cape Tribulation

Just before I left on holidays I managed to do something to my hip flexor (I’d know if it was a hip flexor), but the top of my right leg was stuffed. I was hobbling like a draught horse who’d carried the alcohol into the MCG on Grand Final day and the pain was around the hip region, so I've done the self-diagnosis thing and called it a hip flexor injury. A mate told me about 10 days rest would do the trick – amazing, I was going to Far North Queensland for 10 days, what a coincidence. Since my last blog update where my last logged run was a long one 16.8kms (and I did say my right thigh hurt!!!), I had only completed one extra run before I flew out – The “Marathon Talk Magic Mile” where you run your fastest mile and log it on their website. 9 mins 22 for me – all along I have said that I'm not fast, just persistant, but I was happy with anything under 10 mins and considering I was doing it on one leg for about the first 500 metres I was okay with the results.

Onto holiday running, now imagine this, I left Melbourne and it was something like 15 degrees Celsius, when I landed in Cairns it was 30 degrees Celsius and about 80% humidity, not your ideal long running conditions. So whilst away I clocked up a couple of extra “one mile” runs on the Sunday and a further 5.11 kms on the Thursday and another on the flowing Monday. No fancy times, as I was wetter than a tissue at a screening of “My Sister’s Keeper”, I usually sweat from the head, so wear a cap, but nothing was coming out the noggin’ up there, it was pouring out of my torso. At least I had a swimming pool to leap into, or some salt water therapy about 10 metres from where I finished. View was nice too – pity those palm trees, sand and waves kept getting in the way of her…um I mean “it”.

I flew back to Melbourne on the Tuesday arriving late that night with a work training session booked in for the next three days. Day one didn't start until 3pm and I had the morning off, so it was time to get serious again and put in a long run. 15.42kms later I was spent, but it was a good solid test plus I had to be alert all afternoon, so I was testing out my mental strength as well, it’s not a good look learning about “emotional intelligence” and you’re the only one of the group of 12 who is snoring. The others did have a number of laughs at my expense, generally when I needed to stand up, walk anywhere, bend down to pick something up, the groans were louder than the main character in “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Plans were for a light 5km early morning jog on the Friday, but when the alarm went off at 5am I realised that sleep deprivation is not my thing and gave the tune up a miss.

So after a three week hiatus I was back at my favourite ParkRun, wearing a Sydney Swans scarf (it was Aussie Rules Grand Final day) and although my plans were for a sub 30 min effort, the pace runner got about 30 metres in front with about 2kms to go and I thought “ I'm never going to catch him” as he seemed to be speeding up. Turns out he’d run the 1st 2 kilometres in 6.07 so had 14 seconds to make up and decided to do so into the massive head wind we had that morning. All up I was done in 31 mins and 35 secs, but could have shaved about 20 seconds off that time, but etiquette meant I shouldn't blast away the newbie in the last 500 metres, so I paced with her and let her finish 1 second in front of me. Next week she is toast.

With only twelve days until the Melbourne Half Marathon and only one long run under my belt in the last three weeks I decided that I better pull my finger out and on Tuesday this week I headed off for an 18km training effort. All done in a slow time but I felt strong at the end and could have run a further 3kms so I’m ready for the half marathon, just a few more light training runs in between (plan on 10kms on Saturday) and I'll be fresh for my first attempt at the 21kms.

Onto the marathon itself. Now the commitment had been made to run the Hobart Marathon on 13/1/2013, in as far as I’d booked my airfares to Hobart. Entries opened on 20 September and on that very same day I was online and entered. Now I just need some accommodation, three more months of training and I will be finishing my first 42km run. The hardest part of making the commitment has been done, the rest just now depends on myself being mentally solid enough to keep training and the rest will fall into place.

Next week I'll give you an update (hopefully prior to my first ever half marathon) with my thoughts on listening to tunes whilst you train or run, as well as a review of my first ever deep tissue massage (that should give you a couple of laughs).

Sunday, 9 September 2012

UltraSpirit Charity Run and other training stuff

Again two weeks since I’ve updated my blog, and in that time there has been a bit of charity eventing happening (as well as the usual training).

Training – I’ve been a bit lazy, work’s been a bit full on and the training dairy had a “recovery week no fast running”, if only they knew, with me there is no such thing as “fast running”. I did take the recovery week a little literal and did a 6km run on the Wednesday in preparation for the UltraSpirit charity event I was running on the Saturday. Should probably have done another 5/6km effort in there somewhere, couldn’t get my mojo (nor the time) to do it.

Saturday – eleven of us turned up to run for Kate Sanderson and Turia Pitt who were badly burnt by a bushfire when competing in an ultra marathon event in the Kimberleys in the far north of Western Australia. Our fund raising was matched by our employer (up to $1,000) and as we managed to get generous support from numerous kind people we raised $1,110 – with the $ matching we managed to raise $2,110 to assist Kate and Turia with living expenses and ongoing medical costs.

The event was two laps of the famous Melbourne Tan making it a 7.6km event and two runs up Anderson Street (a large hill). I wasn’t feeling that well on the day, but seeing I was running for other people and to raise funds for them, I took part and ran most of the journey (except a couple of walks up Anderson Street) and a much needed toilet break about 2.5kms in. Strange how these events require you to hydrate all the day before and on the morning of the event and you only really need a toilet about 10 minutes before the start!!! Official finishing time for me was 49.21 (lap 1 in 24.37 and lap 2 in 24.44 – although the timer says lap 2 in 24.22 the total time doesn’t add up!!!) My previous best time for a lap of the Tan was 27:23.1 so a huge improvement since February. Thanks to all the supporters who donated money to us and a huge thanks to the other 10 work colleagues who took part, great effort by all.

The next day was “long run” day – so I pumped out a steady 15 kms. Nothing too dramatic to report, except the blister on the BOTTOM of my little toe the size of a golf ball. How on earth can you get a blister that is bigger than your toe??? Experts told me I had to either change sock brands, get some new ones, or change my runners. Now given I’d only recently spent $200 on a new pair of runners, expertly fitted by a podiatrist there was no way I was blaming the footwear. It was the socks. A visit to the local running store and $30 later (yep $30 for 1 pair of socks), I was now Steve Austen “Six Million Dollar Man”. I’d need to be to keep paying for all this stuff.

Tuesday – hill run – spoken about them before, 10 times running up a hill, 10 times walking down a hill. Nothing more to add, except it has been a week for gale force winds in Melbourne, they hurt.

Saturday – another ParkRun and I was feeling okay, I was certain today was the day I would break that 30 minute barrier for the 5 kilometres. Two clicks in and the iPhone was telling me I had 16 seconds up my sleeve, 3 clicks and I had 10 seconds, one kilometre to go and it was touch and go (that bloody wind!!!!), finish line I was 16 seconds slower than my previous personal best and 26 seconds off breaking the 30 minute mark – grrrrr, poor Julie with the stop watch – I was grumpy.

Sunday – new socks got a long run into them, plan was for 18 kilometres and if I was feeling good I’d push out 20. About 4 or so in and I was feeling okay, about 15 in I was done, I kept going to 16.8 and decided the left ankle hurt, the right thigh hurt, my ribs hurt, my shoulders hurt and my mental strength was still going strong but my body was telling me no more. Looks like it is next week for the 20 kilometre run.

I won’t be updating this for another couple of weeks as I’m off for a break so if you’re inspired, keep running, if you’re not, start running. If you’re looking for a charity to support, search the web and find one. On 10 October I will most likely participate in "Zip It" where you are silent for 24 hours on World Mental Health Day to help turn up the volume on mental health issues and raise funds for Black Dog Institute, headspace, Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Australia. How about you join me?

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Two weeks since I’ve updated my blog – doesn’t mean I haven’t been running

There’s one little problem when you commit to maintaining a blog with updates on your charity and running exploits – work. Forget the commitment of hours to long runs, the social agenda, the recovery sessions, even though they eat into your limited waking hours, they pale into insignificance when you have a full time job to hold down. Anyways I’ve managed to find a quick 30 minutes to update you on the past fortnight.


Tuesday –  Training program says 5 lots of 400m sprints with a 1 min recovery walk between each. How easy is that going to be? Under 3kms, surely a piece of cake. What it actually means is run as fast as you can for a lap of an Aussie Rules footy oval, walk slowly, run as fast as you can again (but slower than the 1st time as you’re still stuffed from the 1st one), walk slower, speed up again, walk even slower, speed up again if you dare, walk walk walk maybe even add 10 secs to the recovery, go fast again even though you need to stop to throw up, hold it in you only have a couple of 100 metres to go, stop short, double over, wonder why you chose bananas for breakfast, hope it’s still dark enough for none of the locals to recognise you, stagger for a minute, plan on doing a 5 min recovery jog, actually jog for about 2 minutes and then through in the towel. Go home re-eat the breakfast you lost, shower, feel nauseous for an hour or two and then complain about sore legs.

Thursday – An easy 50 min run. Clocked 7 kilometres at 5.20am so probably could have travelled a bit further if I could have seen more than 5 metres in front of myself. Pitch black and about 4 degrees Celsius, but the added advantage of no passing cars as everybody is still smart enough to be snug in their beds. Walk home with the added advantage of spotting the people heading to the running track, safe in the knowledge that they still have to commence their run, I’m all done.

Saturday – Not part of the training plan, but how can I knock back a ParkRun when the kids have a soccer “bye” and I (again) have a free Saturday morning? The long runs, sprints, hills etc are obviously weaving their magic as I clocked a personal best (that’s more commonly known as “a PB” for insiders) of 30.09 for the 5 kms. Only a couple of weeks ago I was lamenting if I’d ever break the 30 minute barrier – under 6 mins per km for a sustained distance. Well nearly there, if I’d only been at the start of the pack at the start I could well have made up those lost 10 seconds!!!! Maybe next time.

Now is probably a good time to show how training three times a week can improve your times, and I’ve noticed a considerable improvement in my 5km times since I’ve been running 10km+ in training. Below is a history of my ParkRuns – the same course and distance every week so a fair indicator of the improvements (although there are obviously weather impacts they wouldn’t be significant enough to slow me down almost a full kilometre).

14/1/12 – 36.51
28/1/12 – 35.53
4/2/12 – 35.15
18/2/12 – 34.08
25/2/12 – 36.05
3/3/12 – 34.07
10/3/12 – 33.45
12/5/12 – 36.54
23/6/12 – 35.48
7/7/12 – 32.48
28/7/12 – 32.01
4/8/12 – 30.39
11/8/12 – 32.30 (hungover something shocking)
18/8/12 – 30.09

Sunday – long run day – as per my last instalment I add 2kms to each long run, so this week it was 18kms. Not a lot to add here – a slow slog for 18 clicks, sore legs, sore body, sore shoulders, about 2 x 50 metre walks up a hill when I got to laps 14 and 15 of the 1.2km track. Eventually done and a slow stagger home. Averaged 7 mins per click so was happy with that. Surely I can now run a further 3 kilometres and finish a half marathon. Don’t know about a further 24 kilometres though – still have 5 months to get my head around that.

Later Sunday I had that “euphoric” I’ve been for a long run feel, that’s the moment when you decide to enter more official events, or put your name down for some obscure fund raising activity (anyone up for getting their head shaved or maybe a few rounds of boxing?). What I did was made the first commitment to running the Hobart Marathon in January…well I booked the flights, next step is somewhere to sleep and then on 20 September (the date entries open) I’ll be putting in my first ever marathon entry…..small steps but the commitment is there, may as well run it, I’ll be in town.

Tuesday – 3 km time trial. Was still a tad stiff and sore from the 18 km run on Sunday but managed to punch out 3 in 18.17. I was happy with that as it wasn’t that long ago it would have taken me 20 minutes. This one it was at 5.25am (so pitch black again) and a shocking head wind down one side of the oval with no tail wind on the other side as it’s protected by the grandstand. Finished that had my breakfast and headed into town for a 7.30am blood donation appointment. Overall a productive morning. Which I followed up with about 10 pints of beer that evening at a work team function.

Wed – Saturday – decided it was a week to take it easy. Had a chiro appointment on the Wednesday night as my back was playing up, probably from the long run on Sunday, all through my shoulders and neck area. It’s now looking as though it will be a regular fortnightly visit throughout this journey so add in the costs for treatment to the multiple pairs of shoes, gels, creams for tender spots, anti-inflams for soreness, band-aids and creams for blisters, apparently you need expensive socks too, all up this commitment is going to cost me to equivalent of a herd of goats and a well for a village in some third world nation. That’s not even counting air fares, accommodation and entry fees!!!!

Sunday - Planning for a long run was thrown out the window as I was invited to a fun event through the streets of Melbourne. The Royal Melbourne Zoo as part of their 150 year celebrations have arranged for 50 baby elephant sculptures (modelled on Melbourne Zoo’s own Mali) to be decorated by artists and scattered throughout the greater Melbourne area. Our own ParkRun organiser arranged a “run” to visit (and photograph) all 50 sculptures. This trek would cover approx 25 kilometres and take about 3.5 hours.

Here’s the honest bit – all the “acceptances” for the event run marathons (well nearly all of them), I’d run a maximum of 18 kms in my life, I’d had a lazy week, they run fast (well faster than me), so I decided to join them about 2 hours in at elephant number 22 and I’d take in the last 28 sculptures.

What a great time I had (even if I was the only one praying for red traffic lights so I could get a breather). All up 11.1 kilometres for me, taking in a few hills, busy Melbourne streets, all ending in a coffee and a meal over looking the Yarra River. So here’s a tip, you can make any long run interesting, instead of lap after lap, just add in a challenge, a few friends and suddenly you have an event.

This week is a few slow training runs culminating in a charity event for Kate and Turia, ultra marathon runners who were caught in a bush fire in the El Questro Wilderness Park last year. On Saturday, myself and 12 of my work colleagues are running two laps of the famous Tan track in Melbourne (7.4kms) to raise funds for the ongoing living and medical expenses for these amazing girls. For more of their story go to or to donate to our fund raising visit CGU Insurance will be matching us $ for $ in our fund raising (up to $1,000) so whatever amount you can spare will be doubled before it gets to help out Kate and Turia. I’ll have an update on the event in next week’s blog instalment.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Can I turn a boring week of running into something you may laugh at?

Bit of a boring week for you really, nothing outside of the ordinary, work hard, play hard and train hard.

Effectively worked 5 days, had a seriously hard session on the Friday night at a couple of local venues and ran with an illegal blood alcohol content the following morning. That was about it - no highlights, no events that will make the front page of the local newspaper, nothing of note....

I suppose I haven’t really covered off the sort of training I have been doing, other than the social events I get involved in so given it was a bit of a monotonous week I’ll go into a bit more running training detail (YAWN!!! – Actually don’t do that you’ll use up a bit of energy and you’ll need all you have to follow me on this journey!!!)

Now THAT'S a hill
Tuesday – ran some hills – now what that means is you find a place (which is not that easy in the sand belt region of Melbourne) with a hill, not a speed hump or a slight 2 or 3 metre rise but a HILL, not a mountain as we don’t really have many of those in Australia but something in between a rocky outcrop or escarpment and a small bower bird mound. Once you’ve found this hill, the idea is for you to RUN up it, yep I’ll repeat that you RUN up it. Now no scenes from Rocky once you’ve got to the top, you’re not Edmund Hillary, even though you may feel like you’re on top of the world (that could be due to the head spins), you’ve simply run up a hill - one single lonesome hill. Now here is the interesting bit, you WALK back down that hill and then you run up it AGAIN – no point in getting out of breath only once, you need to do it a few times to make sure that slight pain in your chest is really there. So this is the exercise, you run the hard bit and walk the easy bit - not the other way around. Now get this….last Tuesday I did that TEN times, the amount of distance I covered would have been enough to constitute a change in time zones but all up I’d moved 300 metres up and down the single hill. 

For those of you who have never ridden a horse, here’s a tip, you find you have muscle groups that you didn’t know existed, generally on the inside of your thighs as you've been gripping the bejeezers out of some poor hack’s rib cage, now with hill running it is pretty much the same. You have these muscles in your legs that you didn’t know were there, or if you knew they were there they were being used for strange things like gripping a jar of pickles as you attempt to prise off the lid. Here’s a secret for those who are yet to run up (and walk down) hills – it flippin’ hurts and the more you do it the more it hurts. Apparently this hill running will teach me to run further (who thought of that??? I would have thought I'd just run further - maybe my logic's a bit simple).

I have this book (I’ll talk about it at some later stage) where they tell you that if you want to run a stupid distance (like a marathon) you need to conquer your inner demons, or go slay a dragon or fight the Beelzebub within or some such self-help jargon, and how you do that is you have a mantra about wanting to be at one with the hills, or make the hills your friend, or go hug a hill or some other new age hippy rubbish. (I am exaggerating but you get what I mean), so I tried their method, and I cannot believe it, I actually enjoyed running up the hills. That’s not to say I enjoyed the rest of the day where I was walking around like Quick Draw McGraw, but the hill running I conquered and I felt proud.

Next day was a boring flat 40 min job to stretch out the legs from the Himalayan encounter I had undertaken the day before. Nothing too interesting just a slow steady 7 mins per km jog. Skipped Friday’s session as I didn’t want to dehydrate myself before I hit the bars of Melbourne and worked my way through, 3 or four glasses of nice wine, a couple of pints of average keg beer and half a dozen tequila shooters. All in preparation for a Saturday morning ParkRun event.

Am I still drunk???
Now I must admit I was a smidgin hungover on the Satdi morn, I think a few people in my slipstream could well have fainted from the stale alcoholic fumes, and the black coffee after the run did wonders for the palpitations. Having said all that I did manage 32.30 for the 5kms which I reckon is not too bad considering I was swaying the whole way as though I had an inner ear disorder.

Sunday – long run day, I’ve been adding 2kms per week to my long runs and this week pumped out 16 clicks (yep that’s 10 miles) with only a few short drink breaks (20 seconds at a fountain would be my guess) AND I ran it at the venue with the HILL, but this time I ran up the hill, around the track, down the hill on the opposite side, around a flat bit a bit more and then up the hill again. So from memory I conquered a further 13 or so hills (I legit lost track of how many laps I ran, I can’t recall if it was 13 or 12 as half way I was saying 7 more to go….7 more to go….or is it 6 more to go…6 more to go…no it’s 7 more to go….or actually I’ve just finished a lap….so did I just finish 7 or do I have 7 to go??? Get my drift???). That night I watched the Olympic Men's Marathon on the tv, safe in the knowledge that I'd run over 35% of the distance that same morning, I'm an expert in these running things now, should have had me commentating! Could have taught Eddie Ego Magpie a thing or two.  Anyway, after a boring week I can tell you, I love them there hills. One day I’ll tell you about wind – now that is one mean little demon to conquer, cause that one you don’t know that he’s waiting around the next corner, ready to stuff you right up…..

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Dry July over – so what’s next? Get on the sauce and run some more….

So I successfully made it through July without an alcoholic beverage, in most cultures that wouldn’t be seen as much of an achievement. In Australia, where we celebrate each minor milestone with another ale, that is close to climbing K2. I’ll put some perspective on this…..”Mate, had a win today… to work without a train delay and then the cute barista asked me if I had a good weekend….wanna go for a beer to celebrate?” or “I hear the boys are playing Greece in a qualifying water polo match, if we win we are a chance of making the quarters…wanna beer to go watch?” or “I heard they upped the tax on alcopops??? What does that mean??? Wanna a discuss over a slammer or two?” These are general lift conversations that you would hear any day of the week in this country. There’s no “I’m feeling a bit tense, would you like to go to a yoga class” or “I think today’s been a bit tough, I’ll be leaving a bit early to have a quick meditation session”. Not our thing here in Oz. So how it works is, 31 days off the sauce is heralded as the equivalent of finishing AND understanding James Joyce’s Ulysses – it just don’t happen.

So what does a red blooded male who has given up the beverages for a full month (for charity) do when his time is up? Get straight back on it of course. A couple of quick ones on the 1st, just to prime myself for the annual staff awards night the following night, where you drink free beer for approx.. 9 hours until you think you may end up indulging in an inappropriate conversation with Human Resources. So given I’m not your average red blood male, I kept a lid on it and only drank for 8 hours solid on the Thursday – and felt heaps better for it. Photo evidence on the blog? Not going to happen. But I do have a few stashed away in the photo archives, just in case HR are coming after me...

What’s this got to do with charity? Dunno. What’s it got to do with running? Dunno (although the carb loading – that’s my excuse – did help me to a brand new personal best for the 5km run on Saturday where I finished in 30.39!!!).

All up we raised $695 for the Royal Melbourne Hospital cancer patients so very happy to have done my bit (along with an anonymous team mate) by doing something for someone else.

Here’s another “charity” tip – not one you’d usually call charity, but one that any person (within limits) can do. On Monday I headed off to our local blood bank and donated blood plasma. Costs you nothing, helps heaps of people and all up it costs you 1 hour of your healthy life and a needle prick. Not any inconvenience at all – in the grander scheme of being able to assist people with cancer, children with clotting diseases, burns victims, people undergoing emergency surgery, it’s not a lot to ask. And this specific day, all I did was set the alarm clock for 5am instead of 6am – although probably not considered as “charity” it is something that you can give and it costs you nothing.

Running this week – as above did a new pb for the 5kms, that was after a 50 min run on the Tuesday, slow and steady it was after the 14 odd clicks I did on the Sunday, another 50 mins on the Thursday, a quick (get drenched) 5 kms on the Saturday and another “long run” of 14.32 on the Sunday. All of these were slow and steady, no speed runs or no hills….all bar the Saturday ParkRun. This one I amazingly cruised along for the first 2 clicks at 6 min pace and realised I was going okay so thought I’d just continue (what’s three more kilometres to a bloke who punched out 14 only six days before?) all was going to plan until the 4.5km mark when the heavens opened – now we are not talking a light misty rain that the English get, nor a hot tropical dump that you get in Asia or Florida or far North Australia, we’re talking similar volume to a tropical region but similar temperature to penguin’s bum. Did it make me run faster? Dunno, but it did make me gracious that I wasn’t wearing a white t-shirt.

All up a 34km week and I still yet to get to my rants about running hills, conquering Mephistopheles, crossing the River Styx and more – I’ll keep those for the journey ahead…. 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Dying days of Dry July, a couple of other charitable events and another week of training

I’ve remained alcohol free for over 28 days and as a team one other work collegue and myself have managed to raise $675 in sponsorship for the Royal Melbourne Hospital Cancer wards, it’s amazing how people will give you money when they know they don’t have to buy you a drink. With my end of month funds from Book Depository affiliate sales to still come we may crack the $700 mark yet. A huge thanks to all our sponsors, you can see their messages of encouragement or drop a few dollars our way at our fundraising web page at

The hardest part this week was the thank you lunch put on by my boss at an Italian restaurant where bottles of very nice Chianti were being offered. Back in 2000 I spent part of my honeymoon in a small villa in the wonderful village of Loro Chiuffena, on the Chianti outskirts, and every time I see a bottle of wine with the black rooster or pink/purple neck tie my mouth does water for the sangiovese taste. Geepers I’m making my bloody mouth water just writing this!!! But I did stick strong, having a couple of Chinotto’s and lemonatas, with my spaghetti. I had to follow that up with a team event at a local venue known for its overpriced drinks, atrocious service, staff with more body ink than your usual suspect but is popular due to its proximity to work (ie. It’s in the same building), where I got a soda water (although I’d ordered tonic) for the bargain basement price of $3.50 from a bloke who apparently speaks English but either his accent is that strong or his piercings interfere with his lip movement as I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. On my bike early as even though it can be entertaining, watching colleagues have a ball on the sauce is not really my idea of a great night out.  So all up, I’ve just about lasted a month (would be a month if it was February) without the truth serum and I’m a strong possibility to back it up for quite a while longer.

For people who don’t know where (or how) to start with helping out a local charity, here’s a simple idea for you. At work we arranged a morning tea on Friday for National “Stress Down” Day, an event organised to raise funds for Lifeline who provide crisis support and suicide prevention services, they do ask you to wear your pyjamas or slippers, we didn’t go that far as we thought the office “casual clothes Friday” policy might be breached having a bunch of professionals sitting around in flannelette jimjams. Quite a number of people brought in some home baked goodies and with a gold coin donation to taste them we managed to raise $284.20 for the cause. Easy to arrange, and effective if you can get 10/15 people to bake and 50 or 60 people to come along and eat. More info on the Lifeline services can be found at

Another event that quite a few of us are getting behind is Ultra Spirit, a 7.6km Fun Run, two laps of the Tan a running track around Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens. The event is being staged to raise funds for Kate Sanderson and Turia Pitt, two girls tragically burnt in bush fires while taking part in a 100km ultra marathon in the Kimberly Desert last year. Fund raised will go to the girls to help them with their vast ongoing medical and living costs. Full details of the girls courage and the horrific journey they have gone through can be seen at At this stage we have at least 5 runners taking part as a team and are hoping to get it up to 10 or so as our work place has agreed to match our fund raising $ for $ so the more we raise the better it is for Kate and Turia. If you’re interested in participating or donating, let me know or simply visit the event website mentioned above or our fundraising page at Personally, I’ll donate September’s book sales commission (5% of anything you at Book Depository if you use the link on the right hand side of this blog) to this cause.

Onto the running, Training program said a 3km time trial Tuesday, 30 min run Wed and Friday and a one hour 15 min run on Sunday. So I did the time trail Tuesday (down 9 secs since my last one only two weeks prior), jogged 40 mins on Wednesday, 5.31kms and participated in ParkRun (5kms) on Saturday. ParkRun was a must this week as it was an Olympic themed run, everyone dressing up and having fun and I was fortunate enough to win one of the best dressed prizes for my ridiculous USA outfit. The morning was a scream with flags galore, fake torches, my “I run 100kms for a hobby” buddy wearing a massive set of Olympic rings (as you do when you run 5kms in 30 mins!!!), a Seb Coe lookalike, boxing kangaroos and more. There were laughs all round, a great sense of camaraderie and this all lead to a fun morning being had by all, including the people out for a Saturday stroll a number of who cheered us on and stopped to watch 67 colourful idiots enjoying themselves. I also ran a personal best of 32.01 for the 5 clicks so am slowly closing in on that 30 min barrier. If you are up for a 5km weekly run, where you can run slowly and improve slowly you should check out the ParkRun website, they have free timed events all over the globe. A great way to get started, fitter and to have fun at the same time!!!

Sunday a 14km long run – as you would do on a Sunday. Was talked into a “3 laps of Albert Park” long run by a couple of the ParkRunners. Mr “100km for fun” man arrived about 5 mins after myself looking a bit tired – turns out he’d already done 28 kms, all part of a cunning plan clock up a full marathon distance for the morning. We were joined by two others and they set off at a brisk 6 min per km pace (I was planning 7 min k’s – this was not a day for personal bests it was a day for a long steady run). Needless to say after three kilometres I let them disappear into the distance and dropped it back a notch. One lap in (close to 5 kms) we’d lost one to a hammy strain and one had dropped the pace back a bit to keep up with me and keep me motivated.  I was plugging along in my zone, two laps in I was hurting and my escort was off again trying to run down the leader, my legs were tight, but I gave myself a mental jolt “less than a single ParkRun distance to go” and away I plugged.

When I hit the 10km mark I was pumped, certain I’d run a personal best for that distance and this was a training run. Head went up, smile appeared and the “four k’s to go, four k’s to go” chant began. Another kilometre down and I purposely listened to the birds tweeting away, “if they’re happy so am I”, clocked up one more and it had become the furthest I had run without a break, one more and the I was joined by another ParkRunner who had put in an earlier 26kms or so (as you do on a Sunday!!!) who made me feel good as he was SPENT, 200 metres further up the path the breakaways came wandering towards me to encourage me home. I was in the zone, wasn’t stopping 600 metres or so out, so off I trotted. Made the finish area clocking up 14.19 kms in 1:40.06. Later discovering I was 1 second UNDER a ten kilometre personal best….oh well maybe next week.

Not a lot of laughs this week just a standard training effort. Maybe next week something of note will happen that will give you a giggle. But I’m pretty proud, here’s a bloke who could not run more than 200 metres now running (slowly mind you) 14 clicks without a break (a couple of water stops of 15/20 secs I don’t count as “breaks”) and I think I’m well on track for my first half marathon in 11 weeks’ time – only need to increase today’s distance by a further 50% surely that’s possible.