Monday, 26 August 2013

3 slow half marathons in 3 weeks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Trails, Trails and more trails a running and photo update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Trail time again - urban trails that is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 21 June 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 26 May 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

100kms conquered - $6k+ raised for charity - how was it and what's next?

So we did it!!! A team of four all walked 100kms (62 miles) each, together as a team, for charity!!! Besides a couple of quick food intake breaks and one 45 minute one whilst a team member had their feet re-strapped we went straight through and accomplished the task in 25 hours and 35 minutes.

I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on the achievement and given I was so full of adrenalin on Saturday and Sunday I didn’t want to post my thoughts as they could reflect quite a bit of my delirium.

For those who aren’t familiar with Trailwalker, a team of four must start and finish together over the full 100km trail distance. Ok we averaged just under 4 kms per hour, but do not forget this was on trails, we had over 2,300 metres in elevation, at some stages the hills were astronomical (there is a section called the 1,000 steps so you get what I mean). Below is a copy of the Garmin elevation readout to give you some concept.

After going on such a massive excursion with three fellow walkers there is so much I could share with the readers here, but I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll be doing my best to keep it brief.

Although travelling 100 kms on foot is obviously a personal achievement, this was a team journey, an odyssey. Could we do it???

I learned so much about my fellow walkers (and support crew) during our 25 hour journey, and I’m not talking about now knowing their first pet’s name. I learned about their characters, their motivations, their breaking points and their commitments to a team challenge. Potentially this experience could break a range of friendships but I personally believe that with the group I was fortunate enough to walk with I now have a special bond that has only strengthened our relationships. Sounds corny doesn’t it? Let’s see if any of them talk to me over the coming months!!!!

The journey itself was tortuous, with the long Warburton Trail flat section being one of the most strenuous as it is monotonous and you’re walking it at night with only a headlamp illuminating about 10 metres ahead of you. At this stage you have been walking for about 15 hours so you are exhausted and feeling sleep deprived. This is when the cracks began to really appear – the banter was kept to a minimum and the humour was a little less appreciated than earlier in the day and even fellow trailwalkers were less willing to engage in conversation. I got through a huge section of that trail by putting on Beck’s “Guero” album via the iPod and danced, shuffled, marched along with my walking pole, getting strange looks for all around, but hey I was naturally hallucinating, why not take advantage of it???

Another highlight was the warm pumpkin and lentil soup that met us as we arrived at Graham Colling Reserve, we’d just climbed 1200 odd metres, and gone back down the mountain and the sun had set and the temperature had dropped to about 3 degrees celcius. The home made warm soup with bread was enough to refuel and hit another 16kms or so before the next scheduled refuel stop. Stops themselves not really consisting of much other than a quick banana, a couple of mouthfuls of rice or pasta, two more anti-infalm tablets, a black coffee and maybe an extra layer of clothing and off again.

The other section that was absolute pain was the last 6.7kms – this consisted of a steep climb up, another down, up again and then a massive down to the finish line. The last kilometre of this journey took our team 33 minutes to complete as one of our team member’s knees couldn’t cope with the downhill walk and he had to complete it backwards. I personally had my knee lock on me about 2 kilometres from the finish line after I’d just finished the second last climb and was waiting for one of my team mates at the top of the hill, my left leg would literally NOT bend, it took a good five minutes of leaning on team mates, attempting to stretch and bend before a click occurred and I slowly warmed up again.

All of this was being done with massive blisters, as mentioned above, one team mate had to take a 45 minute break at one of the stops to get his feet re-strapped by podiatrists. I personally self treated my blisters, which was probably not the best approach as the photo below shows.

All up a most amazing experience and one that I will never forget. The thanks go far and wide, to my fellow walkers, to our support crew, to my wife who has put up with the training and now the bandaging and bandaging of my feet, the people who donated to the charity (as at today was have raised over $6,500 and there will be more coming), the people who attended our fundraising events, those who sent us words of encouragement throughout the vent itself and I’m sure there are plenty more who I’ve missed.

All I can leave you with is……what’s the next big challenge????? I’ll need a few days to think about that (it will take me that long before I’ll be able to run again)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

One more sleep and 100km on the trails awaits

One more sleep to go. The nervous anticipation of walking 100kms without a substantial break has kicked in.

After an absolutely chaotic week at work I think I’m all organised for the big event. Toenails clipped? Check. Myotherapy and chiropractic sessions finalised? Check. Spare socks, shirts etc? Check. Shoes washed? Check (Why would I wash shoes before I walk 100kms in mud and dust? Officially losing it? Check.) Gels, carb tablets, electrolyte tablets, carb drink powder, protein powder, snakes, anti inflam tablets, normal medication tablets and bananas? Check. False ID in case I get pulled over on the way to the start and they want to know what all these powders are? I’ll risk that one. Beannie, gloves, coat other warm stuff? Check. Headphones for iPhone when I can’t stand the nattering or complaining anymore? Check. Food for dinner at 50km mark? Not yet – cooking that later. Picnic chair to collapse in at checkpoints? Check. Garmin? Check. Walking poles? Check. Change of clothes for end? Check. Vaseline (don’t ask)? Check. Bandages, bandaids, blister gels, anti inflam cream, insect repelant? Check. Headlamp and spare batteries? Check. Small power station to recharge all the technology? Check. Small trailer to carry all this stuff? Don’t own one.

Think I’m ready but sure and certain I’ll be cursing the missed …..whatever….about 5kms after the start. Lucky we have a support crew. Phone call “Help we need a corkscrew”, response “You’re kidding right?” Apparently they call it Murphy’s Law – and some nutter has written a book about that, attempting to find out who “Murphy” really was. I think that writer set out with a grand ambition but soon found out that anything that can go wrong, does go wrong. He never found out who Murphy

Now as I have people who read this blog (or visit, glance, come here by mistake…whatever) from places all over the globe, I should really explain what the weather is predicted to be like. Less than 4 weeks ago we did a training walk, the weather was 35 degrees Celsius and dry. This weekend the prediction is for a minimum of 10 degrees and a maximum of 18 and dry…in Melbourne. Now we’re not walking Melbourne, we’re walking up and over Mount Dandenong. Today the maximum there was 8 degrees less than the city and tomorrow they are saying overnight between 3 and 8 degrees with a max between 13 and 17.  WHAT’S THIS????? Scattered snow showers for ranges above 1400 metres? Better check the Garmin read out from the training walks – elevation gain 1,099 metres, max elevation 606 metres. Thank goodness, only snowing above our heads. Jumper? Check. Thermal? Check. Thicker jacket? Check. Thick track suits pants? Check. Larger trailer? Better ring local hire company.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts this event can be completed within 48 hours, you can set up a tent, use heaps of energy, toss and turn in a freezing camp ground, pack everything up (slowly because your body has locked up) and then kid yourselves that the next half will be easier. Until you suddenly realise your body won’t move. Our team has decided to not stop and rest (apart from a couple of quick meal breaks) therefore not locking up and getting the agony over and done with quicker. Our intention is to get through this in less than 24 hours and based on our training walks this is achievable. Now I may revisit that goal 70 kms into the event when my legs no longer act from brain impulse as they’ve decided to grow a mind of their own and have gone on strike. But at this stage we want to be wolfing down hot food and (maybe) champagne at 7.30am or so on Saturday morning.

Now even though I have a severe case of trepidation I am looking forward to this event, it is a new mountain for me to climb (literally as well as figuratively) and I see the challenge, the team camaraderie, the support, the mental strength and the sheer exhilaration if and when we finish as being a great adrenaline boost. I do know a few team mates are maybe not as upbeat as myself, but maybe their feet are planted a lot more firmly on the ground and they could well have a better grip on reality than myself. Only one way for us to find out how this is going to go – get those trail shoes on and put one foot in front of the other (approx. 150,000 times each).

Finally I’ll end on an a quick thank you to our wonderful support crew who used all of their Project management skills last night, at our team dinner, or what I refer to as our "Last Supper" and made lists of who was bringing what, who will be at what stop where, a sensational spreadsheet with expected arrival times and oh so much more. These guys are the unsung heroes of this journey as it would be pretty bloody hard to undertake an adventure like this without their support, both physically and mentally. Great work support crew we owe you one (do us a favour and use a filter for Instagram if you’re going to take any shots at the finish line – we’ll look terrible).

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

100km walk looms large - how are we preparing?

It’s been two and a half weeks since I updated this blog on my progress towards the 100kms walk that takes place in 8 days time, so I suppose it’s time for an update.

Put simply a number of injuries have kicked in. First off, after our 57km walk overnight on 22 March I was sore all over for a number of days, this wasn’t getting better over time and seeing I had to be at the doctors four days later I got her to check me out. I had a virus so it wasn’t just the pain of such a long walk, I was actually crook!! I took a few days off the running and returned with a 30 min five kilometre effort at parkrun, I was very happy with that time (as it had taken me a while to get to 6 mins per km) but all afternoon was having quite strong pain in the outer left knee and lower back. A chiro visit determined my pelvis was out and I was under strict instructions not to run the Geelong Half Marathon on 7 April if I was going to be any chance of being in shape to walk 100kms on 19 April.

The knee and lower back seemed to have settled, but stupidly (always good in hindsight) I decided that a geocache trip with my 8 year old son would be a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. So instead of running a half marathon we walked about 3 or so kilometres to a local park where a cache was hidden up a tree. The booty was too high for the little one so I took it on to scale the bottom 5 or so branches. Two branches up, I slipped (should have had my grippy trail shoes on) grabbed the branch above to steady myself, fell anyways and have damaged my ribs on the left side. I can tell you coughing is not an option at present.

So I have just over a week to go until I hit the trails with three team mates and the daunting 100kms up and down mountains awaits, whilst I have a potential dodgy knee, lower back and ribs. Looks like the anti-inflams are going to take a pounding!!!!

Our team fundraising for the trailwalker event has been monumental, with our latest event being held at “Milk The Cow” in St Kilda, a wine and cheese tasting extravaganza which raised $640 for Oxfam. Our total team funds is now over $5,000 and obviously I would like to thanks all those who have donated either their cash or their time and skills in arranging, hosting, assisting with all the events and fundraising activities. There are no more specific events scheduled but the fundraising via email, selling chocolate etc. will continue.

A quiet(ish) week awaits where I’ll put in a few 5km-10km runs, maybe throw in a long walk of 15-20kms and carb up as 23 hours or so of straight walking without a break will use plenty of energy. This week’s plans will centre more around the logistics of the event, how are we going to get to the start with minimal walking, what food do we need to pack, what is in backpack what is in the support vehicle (which can only meet you every 15kms or so), how many litres of electrolyte and carb drinks do I need, what spare clothing (there will be plenty of socks I can tell you) and all that sort of stuff.  Four of us doing the same planning concurrently is going to result in an interesting outcome – I’m sure there will be lots of heated debate, and I’m hopeful we don’t all have 20 bananas each, as the weight in the backpacks would be ridiculous.

I’ll check back in with details of our final preparation, just before we head off, and will obviously report back soon after the finish to let you know how the whole team (and support crew) fared. I’m sure there will be heaps of amusing stories and (not so happy) snaps.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Insane - a 57km all night training walk & other rantings

Do not speak unless it improves on silence. – Buddha

I opened our Trailwalker team blog with that quote as it surely resonated with a couple of my team mates. Whereas I may like to endlessly chatter along miles and miles of ceaseless trails I do believe my team mates prefer a bit of the “silence”. How we’re going to walk 100kms with a nice balance between the banter and the sounds of the environment is going to be one of the great challenges that face us as we head off at 8.30am on 19 April this year.

The team interaction of walking with the same three people (yourself and three others) who are tired, grumpy, smelly and hungry would test the most solid of any relationship. The check in points where we’ll meet the smiling faces of our support crew will break it up a little more than the training walks, where we’ve hit the trails with just ourselves and over stacked backpacks.  Last Friday we headed on another long training walk, intending to walk from Olinda to the end of the course in Wesburn (according to the guide book 55kms or so).  You can’t accurately gauge how far your training walk will be as there will certainly be a few times where you get lost, considering you’re walking through the night with head lamps your only source of light, your Garmin only has enough power for endurance events that last 7 hours or so, and the staggering that kicks in after 50kms or so adds a bit of distance to your travels.

All up we ended walking about 57.2kms and didn’t even get to do the final 6.7km section, which we cut out as our support crew member who was meeting us to take us back to the start point, or home to warm showers and crisp sheets, needed to be back in Melbourne at a certain time and pushing out the last tough section was going to cut it a bit fine. We ended up re-joining the Warburton Trail at the Warburton Golf Course and walking back to Millgrove, the third side of the triangle as we’d gone through Millgrove a few hours earlier before heading up into the mountains for a final 8+ kilometres of pain as you push through elevation gain on bitumen roads before joining up with the Aqueduct Trail in the Yarra Ranges National Park.

Now this blog isn’t just about keeping you up to date with training insanities it also serves as a reminder that anybody who wants to put their mind to it can achieve or perform quite extraordinary things. I’m not putting tickets on myself by putting myself in a category to help people do great things, but I would like to be able to motivate anybody who believes they can’t do something, to at least stop and dwell and ask themselves “why not?” Not that long ago I struggled to run 5kms without needing a break, and within a year or so I’ve finished a marathon and am now training for another as well as training and finalising plans to do a 100km non-stop walk, with three amazing people who are also on that same journey, all to assist people who are less fortunate than ourselves as well as learning quite a bit about ourselves along the way. There is no way a team based endurance event could be completed without a solid team interaction, each team member would all go through doubts, have periods of pain, have times where they need self-reflection (where the words of others are not welcome) and without the support of each other the whole event could not be completed. This event is not just about your body’s ability to finish 100kms it is also about your mind’s ability to handle 24 hours of constant movement and team interaction. This is where our support crew will be angels from above, they’ll know to feed us, even if we don’t want it, they’ll know to encourage us, when we are feeling like we can’t go on, they’ll know to pamper us with strange food requests or long black coffees at 4am, and most of all they’ll be the glue that holds our team together when we get to the stage of falling apart.

The image below is a little hard to make out but it is of the hill that awaits you once you've completed 93kms - you have to have a final push over that - to give you some perspective the light in the middle is a street light so this ain't no little hill. I can tell you that when we saw this at 6.30am on Saturday (as the sun was about to rise) we were a little bit concerned, I don't know about the others but if I'd had any fluids left in my body I may well have cried.

At this stage we’ve managed to raise $3,863 for Oxfam through our events, sales and generous donations. And with one more event to come and some memorabilia to sell we could well push the $5k funds raised, which is a massive effort – works out as $50 per kilometre or $12.50 each per km or about 1 cent per step we each take. Not that I’ll be counting them (not out loud that is – that would certainly drive my team mates bananas).

Other training plans are centered on a marathon plan for late May (which I am yet to commit to) and includes running the Geelong Half Marathon on 7 April with a few fellow runners from Albert Melbourne parkrun. So besides the insanity of 57km all night walks I’ve been putting in a number of 7km, training runs and the weekend before last put in a 17.7km training effort. As you may know the weather in Melbourne went through a heat wave and that threw running training plans into chaos with it being too hot to run at night (35 degrees Celsius or so) and then you’d be way too tired to run in the mornings after a restless night’s sleep. Things have now returned to normal, for the time being, so the training plan will return to normal also, with an average of 40kms+ of training kicking in. Surely that will help me shed those last few kilos, you know the ones, the ones that I’ve been wondering why they won’t budge?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

100km walk training update & more

I've definitely filled that "what shall I do after the marathon's complete" void, with plans now in place to walk the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker in under 24 hours (we are entered as a team and the cutoff is 48 hours but I want a boundary I can push) and visions of a further long run (marathon or half marathon tba) in late May in the Barossa Valley.

Stupidly I’ve been thinking “if I can run 42.2kms surely I can walk 100kms”, I really put that theory to the test on Friday night where myself and my fellow Trailwalker Team mates pulled an all-nighter and walked from Olinda to Warburton in the Dandenong’s a total of 48kms . With backpacks stacked with supplies, spare socks, jumpers, long pants, gloves and beannies in case it got cold, as well as gels, anti infalm tablets, band-aids and more we loaded up on carbs at a local Olinda restaurant and then chucked the laden backpacks on, adjusted our headlamps, checked our maps and headed off into the moonrise (sun hadn’t quite set).

The first trail, as soon as it was becoming dark, was a little gnarly, with tree roots and rocks and I was seriously thinking “how the hell am I going to go 11 or so hours with this little lamp” as my 50 year old eyes were struggling to see 5 metres in front of myself. Our navigator was top class, firmly reading all instructions at each turn and making sure we didn’t wander off track in any way (although we did get lost a couple of times it wasn’t her fault the instructions left a lot to be desired in one or two places). The first section of the trail was quite narrow so you couldn’t walk 2 abreast, and our leader took control of a decent sized stick, once she became sick of walking into cobwebs, to clear the way for the tail enders. There were a number of fallen trees to clamber over and we could only really imagine to remoteness and the beauty of the place as it was pretty bloody dark.

Once we got to Mt Evelyn only to wander around aimlessly for a while at the local sports ground trying to find a “bridge to our right” and then eventually onto the Warburton trail things eased up a bit. Even though the first 30 minutes of that trek was taken up by our navigator debating the poor instructions to find the trail, at least we now know our right from left and we are grateful to another team who were resting in a car park who told us we were going the wrong way and most helpfully put us back on track.

The Warburton Trail is easy for walking with a gravel surface which is flat and wide enough to take all four of us abreast if we’d have wanted it that way. It would be a great trail to run, and something I may do one day. We generally split into pairs for the majority of the trail, swapping around at intervals and chatting to keep ourselves on the job at hand. We did have a few repair stops where socks and/or shoes were changed, snakes consumed, bread rolls and bananas devoured and drinks of various types guzzled. I did have a burning desire for a coffee about 3am and may have to ask our ever helpful support crew to carry a thermos or two to keep us caffeinated during the night.

Once we hit the 30km mark a few blister injuries did kick in for my team mates (thankfully I was blister free – the legacy of working that out during my marathon training) so the remaining 18kms was a struggle for some. But full credit to all of them, they soldiered on under duress to fulfil the planned 48km hike. Even though our support crew member, who had risen at 4.40am, must have been laughing at the sight of us staggering up the hill as sunrise beckoned, she was kind enough to hold back the laughter until we all groaned about the pain, moaned as we tried to stretch, and generally whined about the various ailments.

Recovery at home was not ideal with a sleepless night not a wonderful mix with an 8 and 10 year old wanting their due attention, and them being booked into a birthday party. But the duties required added to my training and I am now mentally stronger for the effort (although probably physically weaker).

The theory of do Radox baths actually work was put to the test, and I don’t care if the whole salt bath theory is total bunkum the bath I did have was the most enjoyable I’ve ever had, and that include the ice cold bath I had after my marathon. There is probably nothing better than a nice water based relaxation after an endurance activity and this bath break was probably one of the highlights of my week (throw in the added bonus of one kid being on the playstation3 and the other playing on the pc so there was silence, I could well have thrown in a meditation session).

Other training has consisted of following the Gold Coast Marathon Beginners Training plan and I’ve run each recommended run for weeks six and seven, although skipping today’s planned long run as I think a 48km walk equates to 17.5 km jog, and even if it actually doesn’t I’m not really in any state to go running today. But plans are in place to hit the running track with sprint training on Tuesday, and to ensure I’m in tip top shape I spend 30 minutes the morning going through a full stretch routine, I can’t be in that great a shape though as it did raise a sweat at one stage – I’m blaming the 32 degrees Celsius temperatures and no amount of convincing will make me change my mind – just the same as “it said left at the traffic lights” is not a clear instruction.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

100km walk update

Update time – you may have noticed that I’ve changed the title of this blog – no point in it being titled “Can a 50 year old run a marathon” when I’ve already done so and the intention was to keep the blog going to see if I slipped back into a couch potato lifestyle or kept the activity going and given the content was also about charity insanities that I perform the new title is “50 years of age and I ran a marathon – what charity challenges are ahead?”

As you know from the last two updates, I am participating in the Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne event that starts on 19 April this year. They say the event is one of the toughest charity endurance events on the planet, so why not give it a try. Basically it entails a team of four all starting and finishing together and walking a trail of 100kms through the Dandenongs on the South East of Melbourne. Some of the criteria – you need to complete it in under 48 hours (we plan on roughly 24 hours as we’re not stopping to sleep, just straight through until the end), you must raise at least $1,000 for Oxfam (we’ve got that covered as we have $430 so far, 94 people booked into our trivia night at $10 per head and CGU kindly matching us $ for $ up to $1k), entry fee was $750 for the team so not cheap, you do need to be committed. Speaking of being committed you can’t just wake up on April 19 and say I think I’ll walk 100kms – the amount of training will be significant to get us through this both mentally and physically. Suppose we better start ramping it up then.

As mentioned above we have arranged a trivia and games night for 14 March, at the Duke of Kent Hotel in Latrobe Street Melbourne, $10 entry fee, fun starts at 7.30pm, the pub has kindly agreed to have $15 meal specials for us between 6pm and 7pm and there are heaps of prizes on offer – of course the bar will be open. This is a public event so anybody who is in Melbourne and free on that night just direct message me via twitter @messy_tony and I’ll get back to you asap. Another part of the evening will be memorabilia auction where profits will also go to our fundraising, but it gets even better – CGU, as a major sponsor of the Collingwood Football Club, have donated a 2012 club football signed by the whole Collingwood team AND a jumper signed by Nick Maxwell and Harry O’Brien. Now as most Melbournian’s know you either love or hate Collingwood Football Club, but given the full proceeds from these items will be going to our team fundraising I’m hoping there are quite a few Magpie supporters there on the night to boost the coffers.

We also have team tee shirts arranged, courtesy of Primary School Wear ("PSW"), as well as flogging blocks of Oxfam Fair Trade Organic chocolate in the office, with all profits from that venture also going to the team. Again contact me via twitter or a comment in this blog if you're after some.

Training for myself has consisted of a few runs but nothing major as I’m still a little tight in a few muscles after the marathon, but did 6.7kms on Tuesday and will do 10kms or so on Saturday before long walk training ramps up. A couple of the other team members have been giving the 1000 steps at Upper Ferntree Gully a good working over, which is great to see and the other has been running a marathon training program. Looks like I could well be the one to let the team down unless I start amping up my physical activity. Looks like the snooze button will not be in use for the next couple of months (again!!!)

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Oxfam 100km training starts and Wiggle affiliation

It's been a busy week here at messcharityrun.

First up I finally got back on the horse post Hobart, even though the physio said to take two weeks off. I decided that the ankle was feeling ok and I’d test it out with a vigorous walk. Now I know that’s the sure fired way to exacerbate an injury but after you’ve trained for 6 months or so, and an upcoming 100km trail walk is niggling at your cortex, sitting around waiting to come good really isn’t an option. After 5kms of walking at a 9-10 min per kilometre pace, the usual “ants in my pants” syndrome kicked in and I jogged the last km or so at 6.40 pace. This was total insanity as I had a physio appointment early the next morning so could get treatment if the body did blow up. Good news is I pulled up fine, had a light treatment and am now getting on with things. That translated into another 6.85km vigorous walk/run on Wednesday evening as a warm up to the team trail walk on Friday night.

Our first team excursion with backpacks and runners took place on Friday evening (the get together to plan our training, fund raising, support crew etc. over pizza and a few glasses of wine doesn’t really count as an “excursion”). Three of us (one from another team) took the monster train trip into the Dandenongs and were met by two of our other team mates at the bottom of the Kokoda Memorial Walk, more commonly known as the 1,000 steps. This is the start of Section 3 of the Oxfam Trailwalker and is rated the hardest section of the course due to the 1,000 step and the steep hills. Backpacks stocked, trail shoes attached, drink bottles full, we headed off stopping every so often to refer to the map instructions and to take a few happy snaps. Personally I had a great time as I have had months and months of training pretty much on my lonesome for most of the time and it was great to have a few people to banter with and to share a laugh or two. We took 2 hours 46 mins and 17 seconds to cover the 10.52km course, so a tad slow but given about 30 mins was consumed by stops, the fact that it was pretty dark at the end and the 733 metre elevation gain it wasn’t a bad first outing for the team. Just watch out for single armed or legged characters wandering the streets of Melbourne, it could well be one of our crew missing the limb.

I followed up that late night with a very early rise on Saturday morning to attend the usual parkrun at Albert Park and ran my 2nd fastest official time of 30.09 for the 5kms so was quite happy with that result too. No ankle problems yet so am certainly all good post Hobart Marathon.

Earlier this week I also arranged for an affiliation with – you will notice their banner on the right hand side of this blog – and what that means is, if you go to their site using my banner and purchase something I will receive up to 4% commission from the sale. You pay no more than usual they just track your click from my site and credit me with a portion of the sale. As per ALL of my links, any commission earned is donated straight back to a featured charity. On my book blog ( I have affiliations with The Book Depository and Amazon and have donated the US$47.52 earned to various charities (Indigenous Literacy Foundation, CARE, Ultra Spirit and more), generally tipping in a few extra personal $ to make the donation a nice round amount. Any earnings from my affiliation with Wiggle will also go straight to charity with the amounts earned between now and mid April being tipped into our Oxfam Trailwalker Team at

We have also arranged a fundraising night for 14/3/13, with trivia, games and memorabilia to feature. This night is being held at the Duke of Kent Hotel in Latrobe Street in Melbourne, a special meal deal of $15 for a burger, steak sanga, parma or fish and chips and only $10 entry (if pre booked) and a full bar at bar prices the night is sure to be a huge success.  All proceeds will to go to our Trailwalker team. Any Melbourne based readers who would like to attend please leave a comment on the blog with contact details and I’ll get back to you asap.

This week will be a little quieter on the organisation front but will consist of some training but nothing back on the trails until 22 February where we are kicking off a 27.7km walk at 9pm to test out our night walking on trails skills.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

More recovery and planning for Oxfam Trailwalker News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 21 January 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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