2020 hindsight

I don’t think there is anything I can say about the shit show that has been 2020, that hasn’t already been said – a year like no other, unprecedented, blah blah blah!

However I did feel like it would be nice to farewell the aforementioned shit show with a ‘year in review’ of sorts as well as a bit of a look forward to 2021.

Personally 2020 started with a return to running in January after 4 months (seems so long ago now!) – here is a screenshot of my first run for the year – albeit a 1 min run/4 min walk scenario. That’s right, I ran for a whopping 4 minutes! And man, was it good! Running was initially every second day but then I changed to 3 times a week so I could have regular ‘running days’.

Things slowly progressed from there…

In early February I incorporated my 20 min run/walk into a parkrun for the first time (and as it turned out, first of not very many times before parkrun shut down for 40 weeks!) – after I’d finished my 20 mins I just walked the rest of it. Around the same time I ventured from the oval to the street and then back to the ‘scene of the crime’ aka the Uni Loop.

Later in the month I graduated to 30 mins of 2 min run/3 min walk and managed a couple of sub 30 minute parkruns before the shutdown in March.

Other than the couple of parkruns I managed to get in, most of my running up until June was on my own – partly because it was such short distances that it wasn’t worth trying to get anyone else to join me, and partly because the running groups also shut down in March. I doubt I would have been running with them anyway until I got to the point where I could run for close to an hour. Once parkrun went on hiatus, I would go out and do a ‘notparkrun’ every week (basically just a 5km run, anywhere, anytime) with Mum, but that would really be my only social running. It was probably a good thing as I can definitely say that during that period I was running at my own pace.

Late March I was allowed to run for 30 minutes nonstop – back on the oval again, running in the dark in the early morning to avoid crowds (but often failing to avoid sprinklers!) Over the ensuing weeks my distance increased in that 30 minutes as I got used to the idea of ‘proper’ running again!

April saw one of my 3 runs increase to 45 minutes, then in May it was 2 x 45 minute and 1 x 30 minute run. Once I hit 45 minutes I started venturing further afield as I have never enjoyed running in my area. I did a lot of early mornings on the Lochiel parkrun course – in the dark with my head torch, it was glorious!

From memory I think the next milestone was 1 x 1 hour run per week (1 hour seemed like such a long time!), soon progressing to 2 x 1 hour (still with the one shorter run) and I alternated Lochiel parkrun course with the uni loop. The uni loop kind of sucks!

The programme also incorporated some ‘drop down’ weeks which I have now forgotten about (I’ll get back to it in the new year!) – so every 4th week I’d back off the distance.

June 21 was a milestone of sorts, my running group had an unofficial Winter Solstice Run (10km or 21.1km) and I did the 10km – first group run in a really long time! From there things quickly got back to normal as the following week, the running groups that had been on hold due to COVID, started up again. So Tuesdays and Thursdays were back to normal programming and I’d do my ‘notparkrun and a bit’ on the weekend.

From there I decided I wanted to run a half marathon before the end of the year, which I eventually did in November after City-Bay was cancelled, and after that I thought the Summer Trail Series would be a good way to end the year and kick off 2021.

Every year I like to illustrate my running mileage in map form – this year is nowhere near as impressive as previous years but I’m pretty happy with it considering I started halfway through January with less than 8km per week. I ended up with 1393km which gets me to Gosford. That’s an average of a bit over 26km per week. I’ll take it!

I’ll keep my 2021 running goals brief – for the first half of the year I’d like to work on getting my parkrun time back down (sub 22 minutes is the initial goal, ultimately I’d love to go sub 20 but I’m not sure how realistic that is!) and then in the second half I’d like to do a marathon (probably Melbourne). I’ll try not to fall into my regular habit of entering events like they’re going out of fashion, and being attracted by shiny things (ie medals).

So that’s running covered.

2020 was also the year I had more time to think about sustainability and environmental stuff – that really came to the fore when dining/coffee all turned to takeaway – think plastic containers and those dreaded takeaway coffee cups. I quickly found the places that used compostable cups and food packaging and that was definitely a big factor in deciding which businesses to support! Moving from an office with a decent coffee machine in the kitchen to one that had the choice of a pod machine (ugh!), instant coffee (not a chance) or an excellent café downstairs – I’ve never been a daily coffee buyer but it seems like I am prepared to pay more for things if they are more eco friendly. Especially this year.

Towards the end of last year I decided to only put out my landfill (red) and recycling (yellow) bins when they were full – having converted to compostable kitty litter, all the potentially smelly stuff now goes in the green bin which I put out fortnightly. My red bin went out once this year (only slightly less often than I did!) and that was only because of an old wedding dress that my cats had used as a makeshift litter tray – that was back in May. Recycling I put out 5 times this year but most of that was due to my 2 new drum kits and drum amp which I purchased throughout the year. More on that later!

I did try for the most part to avoid social media especially Facebook, I find I now have so much more time on my hands and I had found a lot of the drama on there very draining, however I have joined several groups which have helped me on the sustainability path (although I do feel like many of the people in those groups are doing it so much better than me – ah well, baby steps, right?) – I joined the Refuse Reduce Reuse Recycle group which is an abundance of knowledge, any question I have had about what can be recycled and how, has been very quickly answered – one of the good aspects of the dreaded socials! More recently I discovered the Buy Nothing Project and my local group, basically it is a local neighbourhood group where, among other things, you can ask for things you need (to keep or even just to borrow), and give away things you don’t need, and I have been amazed at the type of stuff I have found ‘takers’ for that I would have been sure was destined for the red bin! It’s always worth putting things out there even if you think no-one will take it! (Note to people with hoarding tendencies – perhaps this group is not for you – so much free stuff!)

2020 was the year of going nowhere – I literally have not spent a night away from home this year! I think I was going a bit stir crazy towards the end of the year so I definitely plan to do a bit of travel next year. To start with, I’ll probably stay within the state (to avoid the risk of getting stuck interstate if there is an outbreak somewhere!) and maybe later in the year I might venture outside of SA. Definitely by October for the Melbourne Marathon!

2020 was also a year for getting stuck into music – as you may or may not be aware I bought a secondhand electronic drumkit in March, a week later decided to upgrade to a new entry-level kit and then in November I upgraded again to a very nice mesh head Roland kit which I think will last me quite a bit longer than the first two! Since I got the first kit I have been practising every day, maybe in the new year I might get some proper lessons! I also have been playing my piano and guitars more and everything is all set up nicely in my lounge room. (I think the acoustic drumkit will have to wait until I get a bigger place with a soundproof room or better yet, a shed that I can convert into a music space!

My 3rd and final drumkit for 2020!

I also decided to buy a record player and start collecting vinyl records – bit late to the party I know but that’s pretty standard for me!

Finishing up the music part, early this year I got to see a few awesome gigs – Alice Cooper at the Entertainment Centre, the mighty Queen + Adam Lambert at the Adelaide Oval and a very weird night seeing The Darkness at The Gov in March, literally the night before everything stopped! Awesome gig but a very strange vibe given that we all knew things were going to be VERY different from the next day! I have a ticket to see Guns N’ Roses in November – not convinced that will happen but I sincerely hope I get to see SOME live gigs this year! (And hopefully we are allowed to dance!)

The last night before everything changed!

Speaking of being late to the party I have watched a number of TV series that I only ‘discovered’ late last year and this year – I originally signed up for Amazon Prime as a free trial to get free shipping and also to watch ‘The Test’ documentary series – but I soon worked out that $6.95 a month is money well spent, especially this year! Between my growing DVD collection and the aforementioned Amazon, I have watched all of The Office (US – the UK version is on my watchlist) and Arrested Development (well the first 4 seasons anyway), most of Parks and Rec and well into The Sopranos and 30 Rock. Nothing recent in that list but some really good quality viewing!

So my non-running goals for 2021 (I won’t use the term ‘resolution’) – first and foremost, to go somewhere (anywhere!), to start a vinyl collection, to continue to declutter and contribute as little as possible to landfill, to get good at drums, to do more reading (I’ll have to come up with some kind of quantifiable goal around that because otherwise it won’t happen), to expand my cooking repertoire (easy, vegan and bulk cookable/freezable – any ideas please let me know!) and to listen to some educational podcasts to broaden my mind (suggestions welcomed by the way! So far I have been listening to mostly comedy which is great but I want something a bit more thinky too!)

And that’s it from me for 2020 – hope everyone has a happy New Year and I’ll see you all on the other side! 😊

Adelaide Trail Runners Summer Series Race 1 – Anstey Hill

Official photo by Lachlan Miller.

I last ran this event (then organised by Yumigo which then became Ultra Runners SA) in 2017 after first running it in 2015 when, sucker that I was at the time, opted to go with the long course. The latter time was my first time running in the Summer Trail Series. I have run it somewhat inconsistently since then, and have never managed to run the full 4 races in one series (3/4 was my best effort).

This time around the Summer Series has been taken over by a new player in the Adelaide running scene, Adelaide Trail Runners. I believe this was their very first event!

This season I have entered the full series for the second time and hopefully this time I will run all 4 races! (Last time I entered the full series, I totally forgot about it until I received the race briefing email, at which point I was already committed on the day of Race 1, hence the reason I didn’t run all 4 events!)

Like last time, I decided to do the short course. Mainly because I have done 3 trail runs in total since Mount Crawford in September 2019 (after breaking down quite spectacularly a week after that!).

The day before the event, finally after 40 weeks, parkrun returned to South Australia after its enforced COVID hiatus (delayed by 2 weeks by pizza boy and subsequent statewide lockdown). Knowing that Anstey Hill was on the next day, I (sensibly) decided to run with Mum, as I have been doing pretty much every week since parkrun went on break in March. I am quite certain that I would not have been able to contain my enthusiasm had I run on my own, and despite telling myself I would take it nice and easy and save my legs, I know me better than that!

After parkrun I caught up with one of the event team, Mal, who was also doing the short course (although he did use the ‘O’ word – ‘ONLY’…)

There was no special preparation for this particular event – it was ‘only’ 8.6km so there was no need for carb loading or whatever. The short course was the latest to start (long started at 7, medium at 7:30 and short at 8) – there’s another excellent reason to choose the short course – a sleep in!

Gear wise it was all the usual stuff – compression shorts, calf sleeves, black socks and trail shoes (black is generally a good base colour for trails, although it was pretty dry and not much mud!) with the old favourite pink tank top which I’d used for my first 2 marathons as well as the last 2 events I have run in – not sure what I’ll do when that finally falls apart! I took my arm warmers in my race vest just in case but it wasn’t too cold so I was confident I wouldn’t need them! I also wore padded gloves as protection in the unlikely event of a fall. Given the COVID regulations, there were no cups at the drink stations (that is probably more of an environmental consideration, which I applaud!) and runners were not allowed to fill their own cups or bottles – I figured that would add more time than a ‘normal’ drink stop, so I decided not to bother with drink stations, just running with my small race vest, with one small bottle of water and one of Gatorade (which I didn’t end up drinking until after the race). Plus, realistically I was going to be done inside an hour, and I often run for an hour without any drinks on cooler mornings.

I got there earlier than I probably needed to, given that I was not sure about the parking situation – the race briefing had very helpfully outlined all the parking options, but being the latest starting group, I wasn’t sure how far away I would need to park. I didn’t want to park in the recreation park itself as it might be a bit slow getting out! I ended up getting a park easily about 5 minutes walk from the start line. I made it in time to see my regular running buddies who were doing the medium course, and it was great to see a whole lot of people I hadn’t seen for ages, some more than a year! With many of them doing the whole series, it is nice to know it won’t be that long before I see them again!

Pic stolen from Beck – the rest of them were doing the medium distance. I was the token slacker!

As is traditional, I didn’t look at the course map, given that I don’t know the area well at all, so it probably wouldn’t help me that much! Also I usually prefer not to know what is coming, especially in terms of elevation! I was assured that it was very well marked and it would be difficult to get lost – my only danger would be blindly following the person in front of me, who may very well be doing a different distance (or even just a random out for a Sunday run!)

There were 2 waves for each distance, 5 minutes apart. The ‘super fast’ wave went first, followed by the ‘very fast’ wave. I’m pretty sure super fast was meant to be the faster of the two! I figured I’d be somewhere in the middle, so I had planned to go towards the front of the second wave, until I saw Amelie who asked me why I wasn’t in the first wave. Seeing that there weren’t too many people lined up for the ‘super fast’ wave, and the idea was for about half of the 100-ish runners to go in each wave, I decided to join the back of that group. Which was an excellent choice, because I realised that if I’d gone with my original plan, I would be LEADING that second wave and therefore everyone would be following ME!

Near the start – deep focus! Official photo by Sputnik.

As always I think I went out too fast (you’d think I would have learned by now, but no!) although the start was relatively downhill. Then we hit the uphills. As I said earlier, I haven’t done a whole lot of trail running recently. The 3 runs I’ve done in the past year and a bit have all been around the Chambers Gully region, and I have walked the steep uphills. Previously, I probably ran the hills here at Ansteys (presumably I wrote about it in my previous blogs but I can’t be bothered re-reading them – ain’t nobody got time for that!) but after a little bit of running uphill, I started to see people walking so I naturally decided to copy them (sheep that I am!). Trouble was, the hills were LONG (about 200m elevation in 3km) and I didn’t especially want to be walking for 3km in an 8.6km race! Not that I was ‘racing’ as such but I still wanted to go as fast as I could! So I went back to an old strategy I remembered from way back, run a bit and walk a bit. And by ‘a bit’ I mean a really small bit – 20 steps walk, 20 steps run. I found that really manageable, and I am certain that it was faster than if I’d walked the whole thing (naturally!) and also faster than if I’d attempted to run the whole thing (mountain goat that I am NOT!!!) I must try to remember that for next time!

The offending section of the course!
The offending section of the course!

After the uphill bit, it was mostly downhill which was a joy! Some slightly technical rocky downhills, but not much congestion which was good – I didn’t want to hold anyone up that was behind me, but by the same token I did not want to step aside and let people past (if I’d been walking I would have, but not while running)! The fast runners should have been well ahead of me by the time we hit any of these sections, anyway.

Running down that hill! Airborne and smiling! Official photo by Sputnik.

It was nice to intersect with some of the long course runners, who I hadn’t seen at the start (because they’d started long before I got there!) I ran with Matt for a while, who I hadn’t seen in ages but still had the trademark bright shorts so when he inevitably went off ahead of me, I had someone that I could easily follow!

Approaching the end, and very much enjoying the downhillness, and knowing that there wasn’t much longer to go, I saw volunteer Justin and asked him “is it all downhill from here?” to which he replied in the affirmative!

It was lucky I wasn’t following Matt too closely towards the end, as I later found out that the long course runners had to do an extra loop before the finish. Me, on the other hand, just had to cross the carpark and run straight across the grass to the finish line! (The finish line was not as easy to spot as it might have been – the traditional finishing arch had not been put up due to high winds – a good move, I have seen what happens to finish arches under these conditions!)

After crossing the line, I checked my watch (8.7km in 48:09 – official time was 2 seconds faster) – pretty happy with that considering my lack of recent trail running – I really had no clue what kind of time or pace I would do but I figured that was about as good as I could expect!

The very first thing I did was make a beeline for the Stir coffee van to get myself a long black (I had spoken briefly with Neil when I arrived, and told him I’d see him very soon!) – there’s nothing quite like a post-run coffee!

I chatted with Zorica and Riesje who finished the medium distance not long after me, while waiting for the rest of my crew as Kate had organised post-run brekky at a local venue! I finished just before 9 and they were expecting to run about 2 hours, but Beck and Kate finished not too long after me! The rest of the group were not too far behind, and once everyone had finished, we left for brekky as we were getting a bit cold.

As a bit of a postscript, while at brekky waiting for my peanut butter toast (not a whole lot of vegan options!) I thought I’d check to see how I fared in my age group (the always competitive F40-44) I was surprised to see I was 1st in my category, and even more surprised to see I was 2nd female overall! I thought maybe it was a mistake and maybe someone had changed distances and it hadn’t been updated in the system yet (I was sure there were a lot of fast females ahead of me at the start line) but it appears that the result was correct, as evidenced by a message from Linna later in the day advising I was indeed 2nd and she had collected my medal for me!

Congrats to Brett of Adelaide Trail Runners for an outstanding first event – ideal weather (the rain held off ALMOST long enough for me to get back to my car) and a downhill finish certainly helped! Thanks as always to all the fab volunteers (including one dressed up as a Christmas tree… because, why not?)

And of course to Neil of Stir for the coffee – because if there’s no coffee, did we even run?

See you at Cleland in January for Race 2 – to kick off a year that has GOT to be better than this one!

Obligatory bib photo – bling to follow 🙂

Race Report – Glenelg Classic 2020 (5km)

After an extensive break between my last two events, it’s only been a 2 week break this time! Entering this event was a no-brainer (after I got the physio’s OK!) as the former Henley Classic (now the Glenelg Classic) was my first ever fun run, 8 whole years ago! I try to do it every year where possible. There is a 5km and 10km option, and I always go with the 5km as that was what I did 8 years ago and it’s nice to sort of be able to compare each year.

My first Henley Classic was in 2012 (signed up a week before the event, and at the time I wasn’t a runner so I had to become one very quickly!) where I ran a very respectable 26:29 (I don’t think I had a goal time in mind – I don’t think I would even have known what a good 5k time was at that stage!). 12 months later I returned, and predictably improved significantly on that time, running it in 23:09. That was the last time I ran it at Henley, as the following year I was interstate and the year after that it was cancelled due to works in the area and subsequently moved to Glenelg.

I don’t really look like a runner here! My first event in 2012.
One year later – much better – AND I ran in the same top this year!

I’d only run the Glenelg Classic twice before, in 2016 (PB of 22:24 and a bonus 3rd place!) and 2017 (22:33 and 4th after going out way too fast – if only I’d re-read THAT report before this year’s run!)

In 2018 I was in Hobart tackling the Point to Pinnacle, and let’s not mention 2019!

The course had changed from my last time running it – previously the start/finish was at Glenelg North but this time it was in the heart of Glenelg, starting and finishing at Wigley Reserve. I allowed extra time to get there, given that it is a more popular spot and I thought parking may be an issue, but fortunately I was able to get a street park very close.

With social distancing being a thing, we were discouraged from arriving early and hanging around afterwards, so I made a quick portaloo stop (you know the permanent facilities are pretty rank when the portaloo is the better option – actually they were very fancy portaloos, with mirrors and everything!) and then went for a quick warmup run along the foreshore. It was already getting quite busy (it would only have been about 7:15am by this stage) so I expected the route to be quite congested by the time we started running about half an hour later!

This was the first SARRC event I’d done since COVID (and indeed since Barossa Marathon Festival in September last year) so the ‘trickle start’ was new to me but did seem to work very well. The only issue I could see was that if you were a podium contender it would be hard to know who was ‘ahead’ of you and who was ‘behind’ you, as we were in 3 chutes, setting off at 10 second intervals, and the timing started from when you crossed the mat. This was not an issue for me, fortunately! (We had had to indicate an estimated time at registration to aid with the wave starts – I forget exactly what I put down but I think it was about 22:40 which at the time I thought was pretty ambitious but hopefully not too far off the mark)

The numbers were pretty impressive given the current (COVID) climate and the forecast maximum of 37 degrees (admittedly most people would have entered before they knew that). 322 were registered for the 10km of whom there were 277 finishers, and in the 5km there were 172 registered and 163 finishers (I guess the weather was less of a factor for the 5km which started earlier and hopefully would be over relatively quickly!)

The course was well marked and marshalled, so there was never any danger of making a wrong turn. The timing of the 5k and 10k start was perfect as we got to see the 10km runners heading out as we were on our way back but the course was never congested that I saw (randoms with dogs aside, of course!)

Early on I heard someone cheering for me, I couldn’t see who it was so I said “I have no idea who that is but thanks!!” – turned out to be regular running buddies Kate and Beck (also the aforementioned physio – good thing she gave me the all clear to run – might have been a bit awkward otherwise!)

Early on – before I realised I had forgotten how to pace a 5k! Official pic from Geosnapshot.

I only took advantage of one drink station, just past the halfway mark, just a quick grab, gulp and go! Ordinarily I wouldn’t drink in a 5k and I probably would have been fine without it, but it was very much appreciated! As far as I could tell there was plenty of water out on course especially given the weather.

On the way out I was running on the right side of the path for a bit, people behind me were probably wondering why, but there was method in my madness – I was trying to get one of the sprinklers to go on me! Eventually I succeeded, and moved back to the left, where there was a group of RMA runners cheering us all on.

Thanks to Voula with the RMAs for this pic!
I really do look like I’m walking here, but I can assure you I am not! Thanks again to Voula!

After what seemed like an eternity I reached the turnaround (Lachy was the turnaround marshal who commented that he was looking forward to my race report – which was the furthest thing from my mind at that stage!) and the aforementioned drink station. Not long after that, it started to rain very lightly which was very welcome relief but unfortunately it was very short-lived. As I passed the RMA group again, Michelle said she had ordered the rain for me!

Now there was not a lot of elevation in this course as it turns out (according to the source of all knowledge, Strava, it was only 11m) but on the way out there seemed to be some very steep hills! Maybe it was because I had gone out too fast. (Had I learned nothing from 2017? Apparently!) Maybe it’s time to start using pace alerts again!

My splits were:

  1. 4:21
  2. 4:23
  3. 4:45
  4. 4:45
  5. 4:34

The last kilometre seemed to go for an eternity especially when we got back to the reserve and the finish line was right there but we had to run a lap around the reserve to get to it! Seems a bit unfair if you ask me!

Photo from Geosnapshot – looks like the finish but I think it’s actually the start – hence I don’t look as pumped as you’d expect!

I’m not sure exactly what the MC was saying as I was approaching the finish line, I heard my name and I think something like ‘hotly contested’ which I took to mean there was someone breathing down my neck so I did a bit of a sprint finish which probably makes my last km look a bit more respectable! My official time was 22:57 which I later found out put me in 4th out of the females (eerily similar to the last time I’d run this event – albeit slightly slower and definitely way hotter!) so I was pretty happy with that.

The medals were really nice too!

The obligatory ‘bib and bling’ photo!

After having a couple of waters and an apple to rehydrate and refuel, I went back to my car where I had a message from Beck to say she and Kate were nearby at Henley if I wanted to join them. I found them in the water by the jetty and it seemed very appropriate that I would end up there given that that was where my first running event had been held!

Taking the bling for a dip at Henley!

Thanks to all the fantastic volunteers who were out there on a hot morning (again, they had probably signed up to volunteer before they knew how hot it was going to be, but were still there with smiles for all) and congratulations to the organisers for putting on a great event in challenging circumstances!

Next year I hope to pace it more evenly – I blame COVID and the lack of parkruns since March for my inability to evenly pace a 5k – at the time of writing we were due to have our parkruns back this coming weekend but that has now been put on hold due to the recent cluster – fingers crossed it won’t be too long before I’m back running 5k’s every week!

Oh and this is completely unrelated but here is my new drum kit – I am sure we are going to be very happy together for a very long time! (And the cats are super excited about their new temporary playground!)

My new toy!
…and the cats’ new toy! (Stay off the kit, kitties!)

FINALLY… A RACE REPORT! Murray Bridge Marathon Festival 2020

Hi, my name is Jane and I am a runner (in case anyone has forgotten…)

It has been approximately 420 days since my last race report (Mt Crawford Challenge 2019) and 413 days since my last event (City-Bay half marathon 2019 which was so disastrous it did not even warrant a race report – actually I’ll give you one now. Ran-limped the first 1km and walk-limped the last 20.1km then got a pretty sweet medal and didn’t run again for about 4 months)

As I said in my last post, I started this blog as a way to share my race reports so it has been a bit challenging to find remotely interesting stuff to write about in between my summer of slothdom and the year of COVID-19!

So it is with great pleasure that I give you my latest race report – from today’s Murray Bridge Marathon Festival!

(NB: Apologies for the lack of photos but I was so excited to actually be able to write about something other than my progress on the drums and the antics of my cats, I wanted to share this with you all ASAP and the official pics are not yet done. I may add race photos later as they come out!)

This was the second running of the MBMF and my first time. Last year’s event was in June which would have been vastly different conditions to this year’s event (presumably postponed due to the aforementioned ‘C-word’). I’m told, by those who were there, that it was pretty chilly, both at the start and standing around at the finish. This year the forecast was for a 26 degree maximum, which is a bit warmer than most of us are comfortable running long distances in, although the 8 degree overnight minimum would make for relatively pleasant running conditions at least in the early part of the race.

I didn’t know much about the course – I usually prefer not to study the course beforehand unless there is a danger of getting lost. All I knew was that there was a little bit of elevation and an uphill bit right near the start. There was a full marathon, half (which I was doing), 10k, 5k and 3k. They started at 5 minute intervals, longest distance to shortest. The marathon course was 2 laps of the half marathon course. I’m always happy to be doing the half marathon on these types of courses!

The elevation map. The spike at the start looks scary but it was not that bad!
The half marathon route – looks convoluted but with excellent course marking and marshals at key spots, it was actually quite easy to follow!

I had only entered relatively late, my initial plan being to run the City-Bay half (scheduled a week from today) to atone for last year, and MBMF being my back-up if, as I suspected may happen (and eventually did happen), the City-Bay was cancelled. As soon as I heard that C2B was officially off, I was straight onto my phone to register for MBMF – with COVID and social distancing etc, I thought they would probably have a cap on numbers and also that a lot of other people would have had the same idea as me, to enter MBMF as soon as they knew C2B was cancelled.

The numbers were pretty impressive – 6 days out they had 370 registered entrants. (I think maybe they had 200 last year?) I’m sure the lack of events in 2020 due to COVID had a lot to do with that! I know a lot of people had come back for more after enjoying the event in 2019.

Looking at the actual numbers on the day (because I like numbers!) we had:

  • Marathon: 46 finishers
  • Half marathon: 97 finishers
  • 10k: 98 finishers
  • 5k: 92 finishers
  • 3k: 12 finishers

Going back now, once I started running again and running 10-12k pretty consistently, I decided that before the end of the year I was going to run a half marathon. I had 3 earmarked in November – MBMF, C2B, and also the Great Southern Half which I had done last year. That was my 3rd choice for several reasons – one, that I had done it before, and two, being late in November it could be potentially quite hot. MBMF for me was a guaranteed PB which was a big attraction for me!

Prior to running an official half I wanted to run the distance, just so I knew I could, but also so if anything happened and I was not able to run an official half this year, I could at least say I had run the distance. That worked out to be 2 weeks ago. I opted to run along the River Torrens which, for those who don’t know, is a VERY popular running route in Adelaide (3 of Adelaide’s biggest parkruns – by the way I’m super excited that we’re getting our parkruns back in 3 weeks – but I digress!) and is a great way to get a long run in without having to cross any roads or stop for traffic! (You just have to watch out for bell-less bikes and disobedient doggos!) I chose to run ‘up’ the river, towards the hills, because I knew I could get an uninterrupted 10.55km without crossing the river, plus it would be uphill on the way out and downhill on the way back – perfect for a negative split!

I had in my mind that I wanted to aim for sub 1:50 for my half – which would have been somewhat easier had it been City-Bay which is a very fast and flat course and often with the aid of a tailwind (although, if the second half is aided by the wind, the first half would be running into it…) I had done one river run a few weeks before that, where I had set myself to run exactly 1:50 and the distance I ran was 20.7km (most of my running friends probably would have gone the extra 400m and made it a half marathon but I was determined to stick with the plan, which has served me very well so far. (Right from the start, my physio Beck has set my programme by time, not distance – I recall back in late January it was 20 minutes of 1 min run/4 min walk every second day, gradually progressing up to 1 hour 3 times a week, and then I was able to start increasing one of those runs by 5-10 minutes each week.

This particular day I was due to run 2 hours, but given that I’d ALMOST completed a half in 1:50, I figured for once I’d go by distance and just run a half distance, which presumably would take less than 2 hours. After all, I wasn’t going to run any further than a half anytime soon, so what would be the point in running further than that in a training run now?

In the second half of the training run I decided that my 1:50 half marathon goal might not be all that realistic, and I should probably be happy with anything in the low 1:50s. I hadn’t factored in the fact that the second half of that training run was net downhill, and when I closed in on 21km I realised that it was possible to go under 1:50 but only if I sprinted the last 100m or so. I just snuck in (Strava says 1:49:58, and my last 100m was at 4:15 min/km pace) so I was pretty happy with that, and if I wasn’t able to replicate that at MBMF, at least I could say I ran a sub 1:50 half this year.

It may not be an official half but it is on Strava therefore it happened!

In the week leading up to MBMF, I did a lovely 2hr trail run with my old buddies Beck and Kate (definitely keen for more trails now I’ve ticked off my half for the year!), then did my usual Tuesday and Thursday runs.

You don’t get to see this very often when road running!

I tempted fate and collected my bib on Thursday night at a special event held at the Nike store in Adelaide – then proceeded it to leave it in my car until Sunday, so paranoid was I that I would leave it at home!

The thought of forgetting my bib was frankly horrifying (my carpooling buddy agreed with me!)

I’d allowed myself about an hour to get there – knowing it would be closer to 50 minutes – that would get me there at least 30 mins before the start with plenty of time to wish the marathoners luck and stand in line for the toilets as per usual at these types of events (which amazingly didn’t happen – I walked straight in! Winning!)

It was pretty chilly at the start which I believe is not unusual for this part of the world (in recent times I’d only been to Murray Bridge once, and that was for a parkrun (of course!) 4 years ago which I remember most for one of the longest ‘post-parkrun coffees’ I’ve ever had!) I had a tank top and skirt, calf sleeves (which I tend to use for all long runs these days) and my awesome new Lightfeet socks which I’d won as a result of having completed the 4 ‘Women’s Run In The Park’ events his year. I had arm warmers and gloves also – my hands were numb when I got to the start line – but I was fortunately able to take the gloves off 5 minutes before we started, as I would not have wanted to be carrying them once I got started!

I’d decided to wear my small race vest with 2 x 250mL bottles of Gatorade to minimise the need to stop at drink stations, which meant I really could ditch the gloves at the last minute and stash them in my pack. The arm warmers were not really required from a warmth point of view but they did come in really handy for wiping away snot and sweat later in the race (I do paint a pretty picture, don’t I?) I didn’t have any issues with the vest – I’d packed the bare minimum (I’d cleared out the snake bandage which I always carry on trail runs – hopefully I wouldn’t be needing that!) and hardly noticed I was wearing it. Plus it allowed me to carry my phone in case I needed it, without having to have it in my SPIbelt around my waist.

In my experience, there are 2 ways to run a half marathon (or marathon for that matter).

  1. Go out conservatively, don’t try to keep up at the start, run your own race, conserve energy and finish strong – hopefully with a negative split and reeling in a few other runners in the closing stages
  2. Go out hard and try to hang on.

I didn’t really have a plan as such but I was loosely hoping for option 1.

Now the first km is slightly downhill so what would normally be considered a bit too fast, was not actually that bad. My slowest km of all was the second one which had most of the elevation in it (the big spiky bit!) I was planning to sit on low 5:00 min/km pace at least for the first bit but it didn’t quite work out that way so I decided that probably today was the day for option 2. Why not, what did I have to lose? It was going to be a PB one way or the other, and I have been given pretty strict instructions to take it REALLY easy for the next 3-4 weeks (I heard that as 3 weeks) so there was no reason not to leave it all out there. Even if I crashed and burned in the second half, it really didn’t matter! Let’s just go for it!

The first river crossing came in the 3rd km, known as ‘The Murray Bridge’. It was pretty cool to be able to run across, as the sign said at the start of the bridge, the first road bridge across the lower Murray. And to be able to run on the road part of the bridge too, not the footpath bit, which we later encountered on the return crossing.

I know the course was quite scenic but I don’t think I really appreciated it as much as I should have, getting back into old habits of just concentrating on the running! There was quite a bit of gravel and a bit of dirt which made a nice contrast with the bitumen.

The first 10km I was running just behind a guy in a blue shirt, I did eventually pass him but for the first little bit he was setting a pace that I was very comfortable with, so I decided to just stay behind him (socially distanced of course!) I later found out that another guy Neil (who ended up finishing about a minute behind me, and with a PB no less, has been doing something very similar with me!)

EDIT: I found out after initially publishing this, that the guy in the blue shirt, Adam, had used me as a pacer after I passed him, and also got a PB! So that worked out well for both of us!

Being quite a small event compared with a lot of the others I have done, and with less marshal instructions to listen out for, a lot of the runners around me had taken the opportunity to run with headphones. I normally use music for my long runs (when I run solo, which I usually prefer to do) and occasionally podcasts for the really long stuff I used to do, to mix it up a bit! However generally in a road race I prefer not to, so I can take in the atmosphere and chat to fellow runners. I didn’t really get to do that much today, so I made sure I said ‘Good morning’ to a cow drinking at a trough very close to the road. That’s probably the first time I’ve done THAT in any of my half marathons (today was #25).

Given the imminent return of parkrun in South Australia (did I mention I’m a bit excited by that?) I decided to think of this half marathon as 4 and a bit parkruns. It’s also a handy way to break it down rather than listing all my 1km splits (which would be incredibly boring and also would make my pace look quite inconsistent which is generally is).

So here are my 4 ‘notparkrun’ splits:

  1. 24:11
  2. 24:17
  3. 23:46
  4. 24:44

Pretty happy with that, looks quite consistent when you break it down that way!

Just because I like numbers, I then worked out my first 10k and my second 10k and that makes me very happy:

  1. 48:30
  2. 48:28

Ignoring the last 1.1km which makes up a half marathon, that could almost be described as a negative split! Big smiley faces all round!

OK let’s get off the nerdy stats and back to the event. One moment that was equal parts frustration and relief, was when we crossed back over The Murray Bridge in the 16th kilometre, where we were ushered onto the pedestrian part of the bridge which was quite narrow. It brought back memories of trying to run across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco – although on that occasion pretty much all of the other path users were not only walkers but also tourists taking photos! At least today we were all running! Two runners in front of me moved aside to let me pass (I did not want to try to pass anyone on this narrow path – one of my running friends sustained a very nasty injury recently when someone passed her on a single track during a trail run causing her to lose concentration, and subsequently trip and fall) – thanks to those guys! Ahead there were 2 other runners, and ahead of them a woman who I was trying to keep in sight – I STILL don’t know which distance she was doing, she could well have been a marathoner! I knew I wasn’t going to get past these other 2 runners, and therefore the woman was getting a bit further away, however I think at this stage in the run it was a blessing, because it kind of forced me to back off the pace a bit, ensuring I had something left for the end! It was really the only part of the course that had any kind of congestion – despite at least the 10k/21.1k/42.2k sharing the same final part of the course, the staggered start and not too huge field made it a really comfortable and well spaced run!

As you can see my last ‘parkrun’ was my slowest which didn’t surprise me – the ‘bottleneck’ on the bridge was part of it but fatigue was no doubt a bigger factor! Also, by the last few k’s I knew that a) I probably wasn’t going to catch the woman in front, and there were no other women close behind me other than those I knew were in the 10k or 42.2k and b) I was not only assured of sub 1:50 barring absolute disaster, but I was probably going to go sub 1:45 which I had never even really considered as a possibility! So I was able to back off the pace a little bit and still know it was going to be a really good day!

Other than checking my pace every kilometre or so, and also checking to see how far I had to go (and I did check it every 100m or so in the last km!) I wasn’t looking at my overall pace too much but it seemed to sit on 4:50 for quite a while but I stopped looking at my overall time after about 1:30. So when I crossed the finish line (a sprint finish, just like my ‘training’ half 2 weeks earlier, even though I wasn’t really chasing or holding off anyone – I was literally just leaving it all out there!) and I heard 1:42:42 let’s just say I was pretty happy!

Obligatory finish line selfie – because it has been a while!

And just to express my love of numbers a bit more (I promise, this is the last one):

Today was my 5th fastest half – super duper happy with that!

It was pretty warm out there but not too bad by the time I finished. The marathoners, with another lap to do, would have got VERY warm! Another reason I was happy to have done the half!

As a bit of an eco nerd I was particularly impressed that the cups used in the event were all compostable as well as those served by the coffee van (the iced almond latte went down a treat, as did the can of Coke at the finish line – I’d forgotten how good a post-run Coke tastes!)

Even the medals (made of balsa wood) are probably compostable – but this one now has pride of place on my medal rack!)

Congratulations to all the runners especially the marathoners and especially to regular running buddy Marjolijn (who probably won’t see this but still!) who did her first marathon in a pretty phenomenal time! Well done to Morgan and team for a superbly well organised event and a great course, and thanks as always to all the volunteers who made it all possible (although I didn’t utilise the drink stations myself, the course was very well supplied with them!).

I would definitely recommend this event, it has something for everyone and I would be keen to come back again!

And may I just conclude by saying IT’S GREAT TO BE BACK!!

Race report coming SOON!

I started this blog as a way to share my race reports which I always enjoy writing (and some of which have become bigger than Ben Hur!) but in the past year I haven’t had any races to write about, and I don’t want to post stuff just for the sake of posting stuff!

Like, for example, pictures of my cat on both my bikes (glad to see someone is using them!)

Hence, my posts over the last 12 months have been a bit sporadic and repetitive – sorry friends, thanks for hanging in there!

There is light at the end of the tunnel though! In a few weeks I finally get to write a race report!

And today I ran a half marathon – not an official one, just a training run, but still – 21.1km is 21.1km even when there’s no medal at the end of it!

AND last week I ticked over 1000km for the year – certainly nowhere near the mileage of previous years but still I’m pretty happy with that milestone!

See you in a few weeks!

An eventful 12 months!

I only just blogged quite recently but I thought today deserved a brief post – I realised this morning after a lovely (albeit tough) morning run that it is exactly 1 year today since my ill-fated City-Bay Half Marathon!

I am still hoping to be able to run the City-Bay half as a ‘redemption run’ in November but due to COVID crowd restrictions there are some doubts over it going ahead. If it does, I will be there! I doubt it will be a PB but I can be 100% sure it will NOT be a PW!

I have a couple of backup half marathons if City-Bay doesn’t happen but it’s safe to say that City-Bay is my first choice by a long way!

COVID hasn’t impacted on my running much at all to date – so I’m probably a bit lucky with my timing! (Other than the small matter of having to miss my trip and 2 overseas marathons last year, that is!)

And that’s all I have to say about that!

A bit more progress!

Well it’s been a while since my last post – nearly 2 months in fact! Where did that time go?

There is a bit to report on the running front – I’m now up to 2 x 1 hour runs and 1 x slightly longer run (I’m building up to half marathon distance – hoping to run the City-Bay half in November but if not that one there are a couple of other options) – the longest I’ve done so far is 1 hour 20, and I’m trying to increase that by 5-10 minutes every week with a view to getting up to 2 hours before the half marathon. The weekday runs are done with my regular groups and I’ve been doing the weekend runs solo as I still want to run at ‘my’ pace rather than anyone else’s, and I also like to plan my routes so there are minimal or no stops (the group runs are normally on roads and do involve some stopping at road crossings!)

It’s good to have an event on the horizon – plus finally I will have something interesting to blog about!

I’ve also entered an event for next year – the Leconfield Wines McLaren Vale Marathon (I’ve entered the half) – as always the early bird discount sucked me in! It’s put on by the same people who do the Great Southern Half Marathon (the one with the epic medals!) Plus, it finishes at a winery!

And on the weekend I did my first trail run in almost a year (my last being the Mt Crawford race) and it was so good to be back out there again – although it was quite a hilly route, I was able to run most of it despite mostly avoiding hills for the past 12 months – I put that down to all the strength work I have been doing (hello single leg squats!). It didn’t hurt that it turned out to be a glorious day! Unusually I didn’t see anyone I knew out there – probably because Trail Running SA had a race on down at Kuitpo which, although tempting, would not have been the best way to ease back into trail running after a year!

YAY!!!

I have been most productive in my TV viewing – it’s hard to fit in around running, work and music, but I have finally managed to finish all 9 seasons of The Office (worth sticking it out to the end, despite the last 2 seasons definitely lacking something) and about to start season 3 of Parks and Recreation (I do enjoy a binge on a comedy series with 20 minute episodes!). I have also watched season 1 of 30 Rock and for something totally different, The Sopranos (which I had started watching at the time of my last post, and eventually bit the bullet and bought the box set). I’m now rewatching Season 2 of Arrested Development because I don’t think I will ever get sick of watching that – so good!

I got a free trial of Stan, purely so I could watch Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey before seeing the new one which is about to come out, and I have no intention of extending beyond the free month, as you can see I have plenty of TV viewing to go on with, but will try to slot in a few more movies before the trial ends!

Music-wise, I have a new neighbour so the drum amp hasn’t been getting as much of a workout as before, I am sure it’s probably not THAT loud and there is quite a buffer between my lounge and hers, but I don’t want to risk it this early in the piece! So I’ve been mostly playing through the headphones and it’s starting to sound not too bad, I can almost play all of ‘Rock Of Ages’ (except for the cowbell in the intro, as my kit doesn’t have a cowbell!), and also ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and bits and pieces of ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’. Previously I was working on ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ and ‘Seven Nation Army’ which I must say are very very easy songs to play on drums and definitely good for beginners!

Human beginners, that is. This wannabe drummer can’t even reach the pedals!

That’s probably about it for now, I will try to post another brief update before I do a half marathon in November (and then, excitingly, a race report!)

Peace out!

‘Normal-ish’

(I prefer ‘Normal-ish’ to that ghastly COVID-19 cliche (one of many) – ‘The New Normal’ – UGH!)

Iso has not treated Buddy well – #fatass #badangle

So where did we leave it last month? Let’s start with the thing that is kind of the purpose of this blog, running!

It’s been a month of consolidation – I’m not doing any ultramarathons yet, or even marathons, or even HALF marathons, but I’m improving in consistency and pace. This week I managed 2 x 1 hour and 1 x 45 minute runs – next week I have a ‘recovery’ week (scheduled every 4th week for the foreseeable future) and I do quite look forward to these!

Very excitingly, since my last post, my regular running groups have resumed! After 5 months or so running mostly solo, it is an absolute joy to be back running with people again! Even though I’m often running on my own within those groups (deliberately, because I don’t want to get sucked in to running at someone else’s pace!)

There have even been some ‘events’ – just before the running groups resumed, one of said groups put on a low-key self-supported half marathon and 10k. Needless to say it was the 10k that I did, and it was an absolute delight to be there!

Complete with homemade medals!

And just today I participated for the first time in ‘Women’s Run in the Park’ – a timed 5k which is run several times during the year, a set course designed so you can see your improvement over the year. Apparently this one had a bigger turnout than usual, probably because a free timed 5k event at the moment is as rare as hen’s teeth! The weather threatened but held off nicely for us, I’d forgotten just how muddy Victoria Park can be, but again it was so nice to be part of a group run! And lovely to see a whole lot of ladies I hadn’t seen in AGES (I’m talking about you Michelle, and Ruth, and Ros, among others!) Thanks to Julie and the Adelaide Harriers for putting it on – probably see you next month!

Going out is still a bit of a novelty (sorry to my Victorian friends, probably skip this next bit!) – I’ve been out for dinner once and lunch a couple of times in the past month, and last weekend a lovely coastal walk followed by a wine at the pub (we must do that again, ladies!)

OK now to the bit everyone really wants to know about (?) TV and movies!

I’m nearly finished Season 7 of The Office (this season has taken awhile due to 2 week free trials of Binge and Disney+).

I’m into Season 4 of Arrested Development (this is the last season I have on DVD – there was a 5th season but I heard it was a bit of a letdown, if anyone’s seen it I’d be keen to hear if it’s worth watching!) Seasons 1-3 were perfection, Season 4 is very different in format but no less enjoyable! Kind of thinking that once I finish this one I might go back and rewatch from the start!

On Binge I got through the whole 2 seasons of Big Little Lies (fantastic series – even though I’m not a huge Nicole Kidman fan – Meryl Streep KILLED IT in Season 2!) and a few movies including Goodfellas which I’d been keen to see for a while – I then started watching The Sopranos and got 6 episodes in before my free trial ended – I’ll get around to watching the rest of it eventually!

I currently have Disney+ on a free trial, all I really wanted to watch was Hamilton (definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it – even if you’re not heaps into musicals, it’s not like your typical musical!) and I’m keen to hear any other recommendations for stuff to watch on Disney+ in the next week and a half! (Not the Avengers series – not enough hours in the day or days in the week for that!)

Finally got my drum amp set up but just waiting for delivery of a splitter cable (any day now!) so the sound will come out both speakers – I’m sure the neighbours can hardly wait…

I bought a book… it’s probably a bit too advanced for me but I’ll give it a crack – starting with ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’!

Who knows what the next month will bring?

More photos of my cats, probably…

Not very exciting – but at last some progress…

Haven’t posted in a while (and in fact my last post never went onto social media so maybe have a quick read of that one first!

Running-wise, I am now up to 3 runs per week, 2 of 60 minutes and 1 of 30 minutes. Still by myself, on closed tracks (ie no having to stop for traffic) because I don’t want to waste any precious seconds! Getting pretty damn bored with my routes but glad to be making some progress! Looking forward to running with other people soon!

Got back to one of my favourite spots for the first time in AGES!!! (You can only get there on foot – or possibly mountain bike?)

It’s lovely to be able to go out again without having to have an ‘essential’ reason. Since my last post I’ve been out for coffee a few times (and even SAT AT THE COFFEE SHOP!) and even more exciting, I MET SOME FRIENDS FOR A WINE AT THE PUB!!!

Still enjoying being off the social media, although I am finding it challenging to get up-to-date info from businesses (such as, opening hours) as most of them seem to rely on Facebook for this kind of info! I might get back on one day but I reckon I’ll put some kind of self-imposed restrictions on so it doesn’t eat up too much of my day – the days are busy enough as it is!

Being able to go out for a meal means not having this in my face when trying to eat pizza!

It’s now been nearly 4 months since my last cut and colour. I haven’t resorted to the clippers yet but it’s just a matter of time…

I’m now into Season 7 of The Office, I haven’t made much progress since my last post because I’ve since discovered my new favourite show/obsession (OK, I use the term ‘new’ very loosely) – Arrested Development, best show ever! If you haven’t seen it, please do! (And if you have – it’s always worth a rewatch!)

Brilliant – and very appropriate for these strange times!

Still bashing away at the drums, I do still really want an acoustic kit but I really don’t have the room so I am currently awaiting delivery of a drum amp so my neighbours can enjoy my new hobby too. Neighbours, you are welcome!

That’s about it for now – catch you in another month or so!

A brief update…

I’ve been a bit slack on the writing front!

Running-wise, I am now up to 3 runs per week, 2 of 45 minutes and 1 of 30 minutes. Next week, all going well, I’ll be up to 3 x 45 minutes. And when my regular running groups start up again (with the COVID-19 restrictions gradually easing from Monday, I imagine it won’t be too far away) I’m hoping to be able to join them!

I am lucky enough to still have a job, ‘business as unusual’ as they say, and to still be able to GO to work rather than the dreaded WFH (I say dreaded because if I were to be working from home I could go days without seeing another human – turns out I needs my human contact!)

Other than at work, I don’t see people IRL other than my family, but I do love randomly running into people I know, and I do mean running into, because it almost always happens when I’m running (or occasionally walking through the cemetery at lunchtime – always lovely to see you Deb!)

I’ve signed out of my Facebook and Instagram accounts and turned off my notifications. Best thing I ever did! There was way too much negativity and scaremongering on Facebook in particular, and it was almost ALL COVID-19 related. Now I just check a few news sites once or twice a day (ABC is a good one) and limit my mindless scrolling.

My hairdresser closed (temporarily I hope!) the day before my last appointment so it’s now been nearly 12 weeks since my last cut and colour. I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands – I’m not quite game to cut it myself (when I do it will be #2 clippers) but I thought what better time to try something a bit different…

I haven’t really experienced any boredom from ‘lockdown’ – because I’m still working full time and commuting, I’ve just got evenings and weekends to fill. I still have a lot of books left to read (and many I’d love to re-read) and a similar story with my DVD collection. There’s also the recently-discovered joy of the streaming service (I know, a bit late to the party, but what better time to rock up?) – I’m now up to Season 6 of The Office on Amazon Prime and have also finally got around to watching The Godfather trilogy (first two WOW, third one less so!) and a few other great movies including The Big Lebowski and No Country For Old Men.

I’ve also been getting REALLY into music. I’m still playing my piano and guitars, although not every day, but I’m really committed to the drums, practising every day since I got my first kit. I’m now planning to buy an acoustic kit (I’ll keep the electronic one for evening and early morning practice, of course!)

(I’ve also managed to save a bit of money AND annual leave, and with my planned US trip in October looking less likely than Donald Trump saying something intelligent, I reckon when I eventually get to go, I might be able to afford to do it in style!)

That’s about it for now, I’ll update in another month or so, or if I have something interesting to report!