This was my fourth time running at Clare.
2014 was my first EVER half marathon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
2015 could have been subtitled ‘When Good Runs Go Bad’ and you can read more about that here. It was my first experience of a race not going to plan!
2016 for me was all about redemption and I’m pleased to say I achieved it – full report here.
In each of those 3 years I had stayed up in the Clare Valley the night before. In 2o14 I bunked with Rula at the caravan park. In 2015 I left my run a bit late and had to stay 20k away in a motel Auburn. In 2016 I got really lucky and stayed in an AirBNB within walking distance of the Clare Oval!
This year there were a few firsts. It was the first time I had driven up on the day. The drive up is about 2 hours, and I figured that a) I don’t want to spend more time driving there than it takes me to actually run the thing and b) 2 hours in the car makes me really stiff and not in ideal shape to run a half!
Why did I decide to drive up on the day? Well, other than not being able to find accommodation when I looked all the way back in November, I had decided to run the 5k and not the half. Boston being only 2 weeks away, I thought that the risk of damaging myself was too great. I did, however, want to be involved, so running the 5k and volunteering either side of that, seemed to be the logical solution! (It is a long way to go for a 5k but not the longest trip I’ve done – last year I did a 500k round trip to attend the launch of Renmark parkrun!)
It does seem like an odd choice, 2 weeks out from a marathon, to be looking for a ‘fast 5’ rather than the half which could double as my long run for the week.
Especially when the medal for the half looks like this:
I tried to figure out a way to fit a long run in around the race. I was scheduled to do 24k. Friday evening was out, as I wasn’t going to be able to start until around 7 and didn’t want to run in the dark by myself. Saturday was a possibility but did I really want to run 24k the day before a race? Probably not. And Sunday after the race I wanted to be able to enjoy brunch and possibly some wine tasting – the thought of an afternoon long run after that was not exactly appealing!
So I decided that, after doing 3 runs of over 35k in 4 weeks, I would skip the long run this weekend!
On Sunday my alarm woke me at 5am (the end of daylight saving meaning it was effectively 6am – MUCH more civilised!) with the plan being to hit the road at 5:30 . My race wasn’t until 8:45 but I wanted to get there around 7:30 to help out with bib collection if needed. Consequently, I took breakfast (a smoothie) on the road and pulled over on the side of the road in Tarlee to drink it – 5:30 was WAY too early for me to be breakfasting!
I wasn’t too fussed about my kit, being ‘only’ a 5k – I even revisited the compression socks that had got me my Boston qualifier at Gold Coast but which had cost me a couple of toenails. I figured they would be fine for a 5k plus I didn’t have any other clean socks!
I had a long sleeved top and a jacket, as well as long pants, over my race kit, but even so, as I approached Clare I could feel it getting colder (but I didn’t want to put the heater on). It wasn’t as cold as I have experienced at Clare in the past, and at least I was better prepared than I was last year!
After helping out at bib collection for a while I warmed up by running a few laps of the oval (taking care not to cross the finish line with my bib on – that would be a great way to piss off the timing team!) before wandering over to the start line just off the Riesling Trail.
According to Wikipedia the Riesling Trail is 35km long. It runs from Auburn, to a place north of Clare called Barinia. It passes a lot of wineries, and is named after the wine that the Clare Valley is best known for (they also have some nice reds – I am NOT a riesling person!) The trail is gravel with a bit of a camber which can make running a bit difficult if you happen to be stuck running on the edge! And with 442 finishers in the half marathon the track can get a bit congested at times!
I was there in time to see the 10k runners set off and then we had 15 minutes to wait until we started. It was a bit chilly – I kept moving and trying to find a patch of sun in the hope that this would be warmer – it wasn’t really, but I tried to convince myself that it was!
It was actually perfect running conditions. Not much in the way of wind, a little bit sunny, but not at all hot.
While the half marathon and the 10k runs headed south towards Auburn (the half marathon turnaround being at Penwortham, roughly halfway between Clare and Auburn), the 5k went the other way, meaning we would be unlikely to encounter any of the 10k or 21.1k runners, except maybe in the finishing chute. (I did a few calculations – realistically I was going to finish well under 25 minutes which would be 1 hour 10 into the half marathon, and 40 minutes into the 10k. So while there was a chance I might cross paths with some of the faster 10k runners, it was unlikely that any of the half marathoners would finish before me.)
There were only 68 runners in the 5k (well that’s how many finished so I assume that was the number of starters) so congestion was not an issue!
I was at the front of the pack but not right on the start line – I was waiting for someone to get in front of me but nobody did! I’m certainly not used to being in that position!
There was quite a range of ages in the race – lots of kids, with their parents (some kids as young as 5!) and also plenty of more ‘mature’ runners (as the race starter John described them!). I assume many of them were locals – I mean, who drives nearly 2 hours from Adelaide to run a 5k? (Don’t answer that.)
There’s not much to say about the race itself – it was all over pretty quickly (quicker than I’d anticipated, even!)
I had hoped for about 22:30 – 4:30 per kilometre. That was faster than I’d run in a while and especially coming off a 36k run a week ago, that seemed like a fairly challenging goal! (If I added together the 5 x 1000m reps I did at speed training on Friday, that would make 22:20)
I started running a bit too fast – at one stage inside the first kilometre I was on 4:15 pace so I dropped it back a bit and by the time the first kilometre ticked over I was on 4:30. Perfect! The second kilometre was a bit slower, and then we hit the turnaround. Not long before the turnaround the leaders started coming back and I discovered I was in second place -albeit MILES behind the leader! (Well maybe not miles. But almost MINUTES!) And after the turnaround, seeing the runners behind me, I estimated that the 3rd place female was about the same distance behind me. So, pretty much, barring disaster (or the first girl falling over!) I was going to be second!
According to Strava the first 2k was slightly uphill so therefore the next 2k had to be downhill. And my faster splits (4:16 and 4:19) would back this up!
The final kilometre was the same as the half and the 10k, and brought back memories from previous halves! Unsurprisingly I was somewhat fresher this time! It was slightly uphill but only slightly.
Despite no chance of the placings changing, I still did a sprint finish. After stopping my watch I was surprised and pleased to see 22:06 (and my official time was 3 seconds better!) The winner did it in 20:14 which is 10 seconds faster than I’ve EVER run. And she was only 13! She also won the 5k last year – quite remarkable!
I did ask the guys handing out the half marathon medals if I could have one, but they (quite rightly) politely declined my request!
It was my best 5k time since the Christmas Fun Run in December 2016 and oh so close to getting back under the 22 minute barrier. Which WILL happen!
The great thing about doing the 5k and finishing so early was that I got to see all of the 10k and 21.1k finishers. Well I didn’t see them all but I was there for them all. I saw the first 2 half marathon finishers (Adelaide Harriers teammates Bryn and Paul in pretty much a dead heat) right through to the last 2 ladies finishing together, right on the 3 hour cutoff time.
Then it was time for the trophy presentation. Clare being in a wine region, the trophies were actually engraved wine glasses! Despite wandering around for a good half hour holding my glass, no-one put any wine into it! (A group of us did go to a winery for brunch and I may or may not have tasted and purchased some wine to go in said glass. Because, Clare Valley! (When in Rome etc!)
For the 4th year in a row I have had a brilliant time at Clare (despite the race itself not always going to plan). The locals are always very encouraging and enthusiastic! And I couldn’t finish a race report without once again thanking all the amazing volunteers and supporters – you guys rock!
So, I’ve got just over 2 weeks until Boston and this race has given me great confidence that not only can I make the distance, but I still have some speed left in these legs!
This time next week I’ll be on a plane to Hong Kong en route to the States!
Shit is well and truly getting real!
I don’t LOVE marathons.
I LOVE the feeling of accomplishment after having completed one, and the knowledge that I have well and truly earned it with all the hard training.
I LOVE the finisher T-shirts and especially the bling.
I love being able to eat All. Of. The. Things. afterwards (and beforehand!)
But you know what I DON’T love?
The long runs.
I’m currently training for marathon #6, and I have now done 7 x 36k training runs in various forms. And they NEVER get any easier!
I’ve tried different ways to get the ‘big one’ done.
In my first year (2014) I ran with the SARRC Sunday morning group. That was great as I was not yet in a place where I could contemplate doing such a long run on my own. Also, we were all gearing up for the Barossa Marathon (well, in my case the Liverpool Marathon but it was on the same day so the Barossa programme fit perfectly for me).
I didn’t do another marathon for 12 months. For some reason I decided not to run the 36k with the group that time, I ended up doing my own thing with one other runner, just to the beach and back. That was OK but we had a lengthy stop at the halfway point which meant I started getting cold and a bit stiff. The run back home was mostly uphill (just slightly) but on the plus side I had a can of Coke waiting for me in the fridge at home!
Then I did Gold Coast 6 weeks later. Being so close, I didn’t need to get back up to ‘peak’ distance again so thankfully no more 36k runs! (And I ran a PB at Gold Coast!)
Fast forward to Gold Coast 2016. Admittedly not my best ever preparation for a marathon – what with also trying to train for UTA100 and competing in the Australian Masters Athletics Championships. I did manage to get in 2 36k training runs, however.
The first was, due to a calculation error, actually 38k. It was a looped trail course, I thought it was 900m but it was actually 950. So my 40 laps turned out to be 38k. Bonus! (It was a trial for a proposed 6 and 12 hour event. It happened to fall 4 weeks before the marathon so, perfect timing for me! I just set out to run 36k, not for the full 6 hours)
The following week I went out and ran 36k for the first time on my own – running south 18k from North Haven and then back north again. Looking back now, I think it was way too fast for a long run, but it did lead to a new marathon PB and a Boston qualifying time so who knows? It wasn’t actually too terrible, I ran along the coast, as I now like to do for my long runs, as there are frequent water taps, and running on the coastal path means no stopping for traffic! (On the minus side though, plenty of dodging kids, dogs and bikes!). One mistake though. I had planned the start/finish at a kiosk at North Haven where I could get a post-run Coke, but alas, it being winter, the kiosk was closed by the time I got back! DEVASTATING! ‘No Coke for you!’
After Gold Coast it was quickly back to business to prepare for Adelaide Marathon, 6 weeks later, with good friend (and frequent appearer in this blog) Beck! Beck was happy to join me for a very similar run to my last 36 – only this time we started and finished at West Beach and started out running north.
This time around I’ve done 2 x 36k and 1 x 35k.
The 35k was another looped run, 16 laps of a 2.2k loop. Again very challenging mentally but I was lucky enough to have the company of Stephan for more than half of it (completely unplanned but very welcome!)
My first 36k this year was from home (out of necessity as my sister was borrowing my car, but it did help add a bit of variety as I rarely run around home), to the Uni Loop, a couple of big laps around North Adelaide and back home. I may or may not have stopped off at the bakery for a donut at the 21.1k mark!
This weekend just gone, I had planned on an early Sunday morning 36k but changed to Saturday afternoon to tie in with a planned dinner with one of the running groups. So I parked at the pub and ran from there! It was a warm, humid day. Rather than do the usual 18k south and 18k back, I decided to run north 5k and back, and then south 13k and back. Almost like breaking it into 2 runs. I think it did (sort of) help. I did also get to run beside the North Haven marina, uncharted territory for me, so that was a welcome distraction!
During the second part of the run, it was starting to get pretty hard so I bargained with myself, I told myself I could turn around at 20k if I wanted to, run back to the pub to make 30k, then back north 3k and back. A bit convoluted but still 36k! Then I told myself I’d turn around at the half marathon mark, and by then it was only another 2k before the planned turnaround so I kept going.
I managed to scrape in under 2 hours for the half marathon distance. That is always a goal of mine in the long runs, especially when I’m doing them on my own!
After the 21.1k I hit a bit of a wall and steadily dropped pace after that. My pace chart makes interesting viewing!
I managed to finish the run just under 3 and a half hours which was what I anticipated (although I was hoping to go quicker). It really was just a matter of ‘getting it done’ – it was definitely not one of my more enjoyable runs!
Then after a quick change I met the rest of the crew for a recovery meal and drink at the pub! First stop was the bar for a Coke!
And now it’s taper time – no more 36k training runs for a LONG time!
Until the next one.
3 weeks to Boston! BRING IT ON!
Or, in other words, “Trying to have a life while also training for a marathon”.
Marathon training is hard and requires quite a level of commitment and dedication. It can be quite challenging to fit all the training in around work and social activities, especially the long run, which in my case is anything from 21k to 36k depending on the stage of the programme. (Other people follow different programmes and some may in fact run the full 42.2k distance in training).
This year has been particularly challenging, because the most intense phase of the programme, ie where the overall mileage and the long run distance are the highest, has happened to fall during Mad March.
Mad March is a magical time in Adelaide. It is pretty much when EVERYTHING happens. And then, for the next 11 months, it goes back to this:
Well, not quite. Stuff still happens. But the bulk of it – the Fringe festival, the Adelaide Festival, Womadelaide, Clipsal, and, um, that horse race I’d prefer not to talk about – all happens within that 1 month period.
I love Fringe. Last year I went to 28 shows. This year, I think, only 7. Partly for financial reasons, with a big overseas trip coming up very soon – even when I manage to get a lot of the tickets for half price, you generally still have at least a drink or something to eat. The city is buzzing even on a school night. The weather is generally good. My birthday falls slap bang in the middle of it (this year I celebrated my birthday at the Fringe which was pretty cool!)
But probably more importantly, it was the marathon training that limited how many shows I got to this year. Last year I’d go to a lot of midweek late night shows and still roll up to work the next day, but I may have missed one or two of the morning runs. That was fine, because last year, at this time, I was only just starting my marathon training (for Gold Coast) but this year I’m hitting the peak phase, so want to avoid missing too many runs!
Then there’s the long runs. 2 weekends ago I did a 36k long run on Sunday, but that was a long weekend, so I had an extra day to fit in other activities (plus, I’d taken the Friday off for my birthday, so it was in fact a 4 day weekend!) This weekend just gone, I was supposed to do another 36, but with a lunch on Saturday that pretty much lasted all day, volunteering at a trail race all Sunday morning and a birthday party in the afternoon, there wasn’t any way I was going to find 3.5 hours to run 36k, so I ended up running 21k straight after work, just to get it done. It wasn’t a pleasant run, all on main roads, but it was kind of a nice feeling to be running faster than the traffic (it being peak hour)
And then I got to go celebrate St Patrick’s Day in style at Adelaide Oval, knowing that I didn’t need to get up at arse o’clock in the morning to squeeze a long run in!
Not to mention, getting to celebrate the 3rd birthday of the wonderful Mount Barker parkrun AND run my fastest parkrun for the year so far (still well off PB pace but I’ll take it!)
Although I didn’t run on Sunday, I volunteered at a trail race which was a 90 minute drive from Adelaide and I needed to be there at 8. So, as much as I was really enjoying the late night show I went to (and by all accounts it only got better after I left) I reluctantly had to leave at 1am to ensure I got a few hours sleep in! The things we do!
I guess there’s never really a good time to be training for a marathon. You’re going to have to train in either cold weather or hot weather (and often rain), and in some cases all three! There are always going to be sacrifices to be made but you just have to keep your eyes on the prize, which in my case looks a little like this:
(That’s not my medal, but I will have one very much like it in 4 weeks!)
So, 7 weeks to Boston!
In previous years I have used SARRC half marathons as part of my training programme. In 2014, 2015 and 2016 I did Clare and Greenbelt, and also did Barossa half in 2016.
In 2017 the timing of my marathon means that none of the SARRC halves will fit with my programme. Clare would be possible, but is a bit close in time to the marathon (2 weeks) not to mention a bit far in distance. I would want to stay overnight the night before, which would make it a pretty expensive exercise. Which is a pity as it’s a great event. I will definitely have the FOMO happening that day. Oh, bugger it, I might just go up on the day and run the 5k!
The Coastal Fun Runs series is the brainchild of one Chris Glacken (better known as Chris Glacks – actually for ages I thought that was his real name!). The events are low cost and all money goes to the Bravehearts charity. This year alone he is putting on 32 MARATHONS! (Most of his events have shorter options as well – except the ‘5 marathons in 5 days’ and ‘7 in 7’ – but only crazy people do those!)
This was my first time doing one of Chris’ events. They are mostly run in the same area, coincidentally the same area where I do a lot of my long runs. And last week’s Dolphin Run! So this weekend, if I hadn’t done the half I probably would have run into some of the runners in the event while running 30+ km, and undoubtedly would have wished I’d done the half!
With so many events scheduled, it was almost inevitable that there would be one that fit into my programme. There was also a 3k, 5k, 10k and a marathon. The course was a ‘loop’, although probably would be more accurately described as an ‘out and back’ course. For the half marathon, we would run south then back to the start, then continue north and back to the start. We would do that twice, the marathoners did it 4 times and the 10k just the once.
With the 21.1k starting at 7am it was a 5am start for me on Sunday to get an early breakfast (a shake consisting of Weetbix, oats, cacao, chia and almond milk) before getting myself organised. I opted for my Mekong top with aqua lululemon skirt, Skins shorts underneath, calf sleeves, Steigen socks and 2XU hat. I also threw on my rainbow arm warmers as it can be quite cool in the early mornings down the coast!
I got there early enough do a quick warmup before we had our race briefing and group photo. The marathon had already started, an hour earlier. The bib collection process was very smooth – the volunteers were very friendly and seemed to be well on top of things!
The half kicked off around 7 (Race Director John making sure that we weren’t going to run into any marathoners before getting us started)
I hadn’t worked out a pacing strategy nor did I really have a goal time. I guess sub 1:50 was a minimum, with all but one of my previous halves being in the 1:40s (there was one inexplicable sub 1:40 in there, and I’m not counting the 3 times I’ve run as a pacer!). 1:45 was roughly 5 minutes per km, so I supposed I should be able to manage that. Anything under that would be a bonus!
I ran the first kilometre at 4:48 pace, running just behind 2 other girls, Coralie who I knew, and another girl I hadn’t met before called Carrie. I thought that was way too fast for me to be starting, and I was expecting that they would stay ahead of me but before too long we were all running together which was really nice! It was a smaller field than most of the events I’ve done, and with less random strangers spectating, so it could have been a very quiet few hours for me if I’d ended up running on my own!
An awesome thing about the layout of the course was that we got to see all the other marathoners, half marathoners and 10k runners during the race (the full and half marathoners on multiple occasions!). There were a LOT of familiar faces out there. I’ll probably forget some! In the marathon we had the organiser Chris running with Tim for quite a bit of the race – Tim hoping to do 70 marathons before the age of 70! There was Dave, who was going at a cracking pace! We also had Dione, who kept insisting to me that she WAS running as well as walking (she just happened to be walking most of the times I saw her!), Rebecca who looked very strong in the first half but apparently faded in the last 10k, Louise who had planned to continue on to run stairs at Largs AFTER COMPLETING THE MARATHON (she later decided that was a bad idea!) and Jac, one of a large contingent of Mount Barker parkrunners participating across the different events (my running buddies Coralie and Carrie both being Mt Barker parkrunners as well!). There was also Leon who is aiming for 42 marathons this year (plus ultras and halves!) – he is one of those 5 in 5 and 7 in 7 crazies! He did give me a good recovery tip – ice bath! (I had tried that after a previous long run but the water clearly wasn’t cold enough as I had managed to sit in there for an hour!)
In the half we had Mark and Mel who were both pleased with how they went, and we spent a while afterwards reminiscing about last week’s Guns N’Roses concert! There was also regular trail runner Neil who was doing his first road event (in trail shoes!) regular parkrunner Reece, and Chris, who was coming back from injury and showed excellent taste in running kit by running in a Norwood footy guernsey in arch-rival Port Adelaide’s heartland!
So, the 3 of us girls ran together and it seemed like we all had pretty similar time goals. I knew Coralie would be faster than me in the end (unless she was holding back!). Carrie was, by her own admission, a ‘fader’ (in other words, NOT a negative splitter!) so when she took off from Coralie and me, we thought we probably would be a chance to catch her.
The weather conditions were PERFECT, similar to last weekend’s event. Mild conditions to start with (I had my arm warmers pulled up at the start but by the 2k mark I’d rolled them right down) and once again NO WIND!
According to the source of all useful information, Strava, at the end of the first lap, 11.2km, I was on 4:54 pace. The first lap was slightly longer and the second lap was exactly the same as the 10k course. That was great – we knew that once we reached ‘halfway’ we were actually well past halfway and ‘only’ had 10k to go!
On the second lap, it was a bit mental, running south and then back north to the finish line again, but having to run PAST the finish line to complete the last lap! Past the finish line, with about 5k to go, was where Coralie took off. I could see quickly that she wasn’t going to be catchable so I set my sights on Carrie, who Coralie very quickly passed! I could see I was making ground but it wasn’t until after the final turnaround (just over 2k to go) that I eventually caught up to and passed her.
I could still see Coralie in the distance but I set my sights on catching Chris, who had faded somewhat since earlier in the race, when he had been well ahead of me.
As I approached the Semaphore Palais, around 500m from the end, I had a sneaky look behind and thought I saw Carrie, but she looked to be too far behind. Nevertheless I decided to pick up the pace just to be sure! I thought I might catch Chris but he must have found an extra yard in pace too. According to Strava I finished in 1:42:58, exactly 1 minute behind Coralie and only 11 seconds behind Chris! The next finisher WAS Carrie, 26 seconds behind me, she was very pleased to have taken a whopping 10 minutes off her previous half marathon time!
Recovery started with a quick walk in the sea with Chris. Happily, despite having dispensed with my pre-race ritual of taping my feet, there were NO blisters – thanks to my awesome Steigen socks! T
hen it was time to go back for the presentations. The female winner of the half, a girl I didn’t know, was about 10 minutes ahead of me! The male winner, Kent, did it in 1:27. That wasn’t really surprising – this is the guy who did 2 parkruns on New Year’s Day, one at 7 and one at 9, and RAN the 23km between the 2 parkruns!
So on my return home I did run an ice bath (with a 5kg bag of ice) and had 2 x 10 minute stints in there, with a quick hot shower in between. Maybe 2 bags next time! And then with some difficulty I managed to get my compression tights on!
I really enjoyed this event. I have to say, I can’t see myself ever doing the marathon here – nothing against this event but I really don’t enjoy marathons in general, so I try to stick to ‘big event’ marathons when I do run them! It would be a perfect event for someone who wants to run without pressure. The atmosphere is very friendly, everyone is very supportive of everyone else. The team of dedicated volunteers is fantastic and the RD John did a stellar job.
Congratulations to Chris and team for putting on a brilliant event! I’m sure I will be back for another half before too long!
The Dolphin Run is the first SARRC race of the year, which is an out and back run along the coast at Semaphore. It was also the very first 10k race I ever ran, back in 2013, after only having started running 3 months earlier, in a very respectable time of 48:10. It is a tradition for me, one of only 2 events I have run every year since I started running (the other being City-Bay). In the past there has always been a 5k and a 10k and I have always done the 10, even though it is probably my least favourite distance! It is my one token 10k each year!
This year for the first time there was also a 15k on offer which proved popular. I did consider it – it probably would have been a better option given that I have a marathon in 8 weeks (let’s just gloss over that for now shall we – I’m not quite ready for it to be so soon!) but tradition won out and I entered the 10k.
So 2013 was a triumph of sorts, being my first 10k race (and from memory I hadn’t run 10k too many times in training). 2014 was the year I did my first marathon. Traditionally the Barossa Marathon 16 week training programme begins the day after the Dolphin Run. However, in 2014, the Dolphin Run was postponed by a week due to extreme heat forecast on the scheduled race day (certainly not unheard of in February!) meaning that it then clashed with my first scheduled long run (21km). As I’d already entered, I was committed to run the race, but inexperienced me decided I needed to get my long run in as well. So I did an early coastal 21.1k (had to get that half marathon distance in – the first of many!) by myself on the Saturday, and then ran the Dolphin on Sunday. Unsurprisingly it was a PW (Personal Worst) partly due to what I’d done the day before, and partly due to the brutal headwind for the last 3km.
In 2015 conditions were much more favourable and I broke my PB from 2013.
In 2016 I broke 45 minutes for the first time and you can read my report here.
So 2017 was my 5th straight 10k Dolphin Run. I didn’t really have particularly high expectations although I had told the volunteer coordinator that I expected to do sub-50 (so they would know what time I’d be available to volunteer afterwards). The weather conditions are so variable and can really affect times! Obviously everyone has to contend with the same conditions so if you’re going for a placing, the conditions shouldn’t matter, but if you’re going for a time, they can really make a difference!
I wasn’t too fussed about times for a few reasons. One, I’m not setting my expectations too high for Boston. Two, I’d had a pretty high mileage week (I’d done 65km before Sunday’s race). Three, I had been at the Guns N’ Roses concert at the Adelaide Oval (dancing for most of it) and it was so good, it was hard to wind down and go to sleep when I eventually got to bed!
Pre-race nutrition was interesting to say the least. Dinner was a vegetarian pasty from the Bakery On O’Connell before heading to the Oval, and I had to make tracks back there after the concert to have one of their legendary head-sized vegan chocolate donuts at 11pm. Perfect!
It was an early start on Sunday as I was to be there at 7 to help out with bib collection. As a member of the SARRC Board, I had offered to help out with any volunteer gig, on the condition that I still be able to run.
As someone who is into colour coordinating my running outfits, I was excited to discover that I had a top that matched my green running skirt perfectly – conveniently also a SARRC top, last year’s Adelaide Marathon singlet. As it was chilly (and raining) I decided on rainbow arm warmers. I wore my new favourite Steigen socks and finally my usual running hat, more so to keep any potential rain out of my eyes and to reduce the chill on my head, than to protect me from the sun. Sunglasses were not required!
I helped out with the bibs for an hour or so (I quite enjoyed that, there were a lot of familiar faces and a lot of people I hadn’t met before) before Voula told me I could head off for my warmup. I just ran about 1.7km to get the legs loosened and to allow myself to peel off a layer, and on the way back to the start line I saw the 15k runners head out for the first part of their race. The run out (south) was into a stiff headwind so I decided that it definitely was NOT a PB day!
Pretty soon it was our turn – I was probably mid-pack at the start. As I said, I wasnt too fussed about times. The 10k was the most popular of the 3 events with 164 finishers. And the weather turned nice – the wind dropped to nothing, just before we started!
There’s probably not a lot to say about the race itself. The 10k was a straight out and back, heading north first and then turning at 5k. The 15k had headed south first, then back past the start and did their last 10k with us. MANY of them passed me. Some had already passed even before we started (they started 20 minutes before us, so therefore they were running well under 4 minute kilometres!)
The drink stations were only a few kilometres apart but I don’t tend to drink in the shorter races so I didn’t need to stop, although I tried to thank as many of the volunteers as I could!
I knew my friend Tracie, one of the official photographers, would be around the 3k mark so I was looking out for her. I was conveniently all out on my own at that stage so I hammed it up a bit, taking my hat off to show my still relatively shorn scalp! (I thought maybe I might be a bit buggered to do anything fun when I passed her on the way back!)
I was sitting on 4:33 min/km at the turnaround so sub 50 was a no-brainer unless a gale force headwind suddenly popped up (it didn’t).
I was conscious of not trying to work out where I was placed in the field. As the faster runners started heading back towards the finish line at Semaphore (as I approached the turnaround) I didn’t let myself look at their bibs. I knew there were a few ladies ahead of me and a couple had flown past me after a few kilometres, but what I didn’t realise at the time and probably should have, was that they were actually 15k runners! The 15k had orange bibs and ours were red – it was kind of hard to tell them apart!
After the turnaround I started paying attention to who was behind me and encouraging as many of them as I could. If I knew them, or if they had their names printed on their bibs, I would call out their name. I can still remember being pretty excited when I did my first half marathon and random strangers were calling my name! I was slightly freaked out that they knew my name, until I realised it was right there on my bib! Duh!
I even got in a few high fives to runners coming the other way – Min-Qi and Allen both got a high five (actually Allen’s stung a little bit!) and a few others including Ellen got ‘virtual high fives’ because I wasn’t quite quick enough to get the hand out!
I saw most of the 15k runners as well as all the 10k runners – the 5k went the opposite way so we didn’t see them at all.
On the way back past Tracie I saw her but called out to her that I was in serious mode. So I just left the hat on and ran normally – so there might be a bit of a contrast between my photos! (Race photos 101 – try to be out on your own, or with a friend, when you see the photographer, so you’re not just a face in the crowd. Nailed it both times!)
With around 2km to go I ran past a small personal training group at one of the playgrounds. They were doing leg kicks on all fours but what really got my attention was their choice of soundtrack – ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ by GN’R! I complimented them on their choice of music and carried on, that definitely gave me a boost!
Then towards the end I was just saying hello to everyone on the path – runners, walkers, dogs… amazingly a lot of the walkers didn’t bother to respond! (The dogs were very polite though!) And I was high fiving marshals at every opportunity!
With a few hundred metres to go there was a bit of a headwind but with the finish line in sight it wasn’t a big issue. I did a sneaky look behind (the only time I allowed myself to look back) and couldn’t see any other females, so I knew that whatever place I was in, was where I would finish!
I was pretty excited when I saw Voula at the finish line and she told me I was 3rd! (First thought – how do I break the news to my cleaner – my mum – that I’ve just created more dusting work for her?)
My official time was 45:16 – less than 30 seconds off last year’s PB. Very happy. My average pace for the second half was 4:30 – a negative split!
I was happy with my pacing overall – relatively consistent (as it should be, on a flat, calm course!)
The trophy was pretty cool too!
Of course I have to thank the 15k event for taking some of the super fast ladies away from the 10k and allowing me to finish 3rd in a slower time than last year (when I finished 13th). Also the always popular Yumigo! Summer Trail Series clashed with the Dolphin Run this year which would definitely have affected the numbers! Still – a trophy’s a trophy, right?
I finished off the morning by helping out with the merch sales. I used an EFTPOS machine for the first time – conveniently the first customer was a retail worker, so she was able to show me how to use it! I may have a future career in retail!
Well done to all who ran/walked, and a massive thanks as always to all the fantastic volunteers for making this a brilliant event once again (and making it possible for me to run it)! A perfect way to kick off the running year!
This is timely, given that this past week in Adelaide we have had something of a mini heatwave, not to mention my recent trip to Brisbane!
Here are a few ways I deal with running in the hot weather.
If it’s one isolated hot day, it’s probably feasible to take the day off. And if you’re not training for something big, you could also take the day off.
Do something else.
Swimming is a great option on a hot day (although if outdoors during the day, you will still need sun protection). I was right into swimming last summer but it’s not happening for me this summer – I don’t actually enjoy it, and I need to get into the habit. Plus I really don’t like indoor pools, and the outdoor pools are all closed during winter, making it hard to keep the routine going. And I don’t really fancy swimming in the lake or the sea, although if I am ever going to get a triathlon under my belt I guess I’m going to have to do it sometime…
There is also gym cardio such as a spin class or just riding the exercise bike. I think you’d probably sweat just as much in a spin class than in a hot run though…
This is my preferred option. My weekday runs are all at that wonderful time of day – ‘arse o’clock’. It can be very difficult getting up on the cold winter mornings but in summer, in my opinion, this is the BEST time to run. It is usually the coolest time of day (although when the overnight minimum is 300C, ‘cool’ is a relative term) and you generally don’t have to worry about sun protection (unless you live in Queensland where there is no daylight saving and therefore it is effectively an hour later). Actually, I think arse o’clock is the ONLY time to run if you’re in Queensland in summer! And of course after a morning run you can have coffee and then go start the day, knowing that when you finish work you don’t have to somehow find the time and energy for a run!
On occasions, usually on weekends, I have done my long runs in the evening – again to avoid the hottest part of the day. I try to finish before it gets dark, otherwise I’d have to carry a head torch. And, if you’re in the right place you might even get to see an awesome sunset!
Go somewhere cooler.
I do most of my long road runs along the coast where there is a breeze (and proximity to the ocean for a post-run cool-off dip!) and it is usually a few degrees cooler. I almost always have to contend with a head wind in one direction, but to me it’s worth all the benefits! Plus there are usually plenty of good cafes along the coast, as well as frequent water fountains. You could also hit the trails/forests where there is a bit more shade.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
In the hot weather I always carry a drink, either water or sports drink, on my morning runs. The only exception would be for parkrun (because it’s a shorter run). I would also make an exception for races of 10k or less, but there don’t tend to be many of those during the summer! For my long runs I will always use a hydration vest with sports drink in the bottles (I am currently not using a bladder as mine started leaking and I haven’t gotten around to buying a new one, but I find that for the longest marathon training run of 36km, just the bottles are enough). Running somewhere with plenty of water taps allows me to top up my bottles if needed (I’ll bring extra powder to make up some more sports drink) without having to carry any excess weight.
If you’re happy to run just with water, you might find that if you pick your route appropriately, you might be able to get away with just using water taps. I prefer to carry, because it minimises stops, and sometimes the water taps aren’t working (or the water out of them tastes like arse!)
Wear the right gear!
Especially on the long runs where I would wear a hydration vest, I need to make sure I wear clothing that breathes. Cotton is bad (most runners would know that already). I like a top with mesh especially on the back, to allow sweat to evaporate (although with a hydration vest on, it really has nowhere to go and you probably will still end your run looking like you just went in the shower fully clothed!) You also want to make sure you have the right socks, because if they get wet, cotton socks won’t dry and that’s a recipe for blisters!
Plan your events.
As I said earlier, there don’t tend to be many big running events (in particular road events) during the Australian summer. However, if you are training for a marathon in April (when the Australian marathon season starts) you are going to have to be training through the summer, and that includes long runs. So if you really can’t deal with the heat, think about picking a marathon in July or August, so you can train through the cooler months (which of course, has its own challenges!)
Oh and then there is this. Bit extreme I know (especially for the ladies out there) but it is certainly a great way to keep cool!
(You might notice ‘run on a treadmill’ is not listed here – it might be an option for some, but personally I’d rather go outside and melt in the heat than run on one of those things!)
Do you have any tips to share?
One of the many great things about running is ‘runsploration’, ie exploring new places by running.
parkrun tourism is one part of runsploration. Sometimes it’s going to a place specifically for a parkrun, and sometimes it’s finding the nearest parkrun to where you happen to find yourself on a Saturday morning. Last weekend I was in Brisbane and I thought I’d give New Farm parkrun a go – it was reasonable walking distance (and easy running distance) from where I was staying, and it was on the mighty Brisbane River. The early start was a bit of a challenge but I could see why all the Queensland parkruns start at 7 (rather than the 8am I am used to) – even by 7 it was pretty warm!
I wasn’t sure exactly where the start was, so I allowed plenty of time. I ran there, just under 4km, and immediately regretted my decision not to wear insect repellent – I was plastered with small flying insects! On the way I stopped to check out the Powerhouse markets – at 6:30am they were a hive of activity! In Adelaide it would be rare to see many people on the streets at that time on a Saturday – most of them would probably be still in bed! No daylight saving in Queensland (meaning effectively an earlier sunrise) and the heat means that people tend to be out and about super early!
The parkrun itself was nice – probably the largest one I’ve been to, with a crowd of just under 400. And they even had someone leading a group warmup!
(I didn’t feel the need to partake, I had warmed up more than sufficiently on the way there!) The start was a bit congested and there were a few tight corners early on but it was a nice straightforward course along the river (in fact, it retraced part of the route I had taken to get there) with lots of friendly, encouraging marshals and a couple of high fives!
On Sunday I got up at what can only be described as ‘arse o’clock’, partly to beat the heat, and partly because I had places to be, and snuck in a 20k long run. I was ‘meant’ to do 30k but I figured after 100k last weekend I could do a slightly shorter one. It was already pretty warm by the time I started at 5:40 and by the time I finished it was as if I’d been in the shower fully clothed! I ran the familiar course along the river but a little further this time, and broke it up with a double crossing of the famous Story Bridge.
So I managed to see a bit more of Brisbane than I otherwise might have, and at the same time got a few runs in!
I’ve done a bit of runsploration elsewhere. In London I did my last few runs before the Liverpool Marathon, although they were super slow and convoluted owing to the frequent photo stops (which I guess are par for the course when it comes to runsploration!)
When in Sydney for a conference a few years back, as well as managing a sneaky parkrun in my old neighbourhood, I managed a couple of morning runs that crossed the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge (unlike the Story Bridge though, the Sydney Harbour Bridge only allows pedestrians on one side – the other side is for cyclists).
In a few months I will be runsploring my way across the USA! Among other things, I plan to sneak in a run in Central Park in New York, some trails in Portland, and another bridge crossing, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran (last time in San Fran I cycled across the Golden Gate so it will be cool to be able to run it too!) Obviously the Boston Marathon will take me to parts of the city that I might not otherwise have seen and I hope I am able to take a lot of it in!
And if things go to plan I’ll sneak in a parkrun – my first one outside Australia – in Washington D.C!
Where have you runsplored? And where would you LIKE to runsplore?
Coming down from the post-Thredbo high and back to reality this past week, it’s time to start doing some proper marathon training.
I did my first long run of the programme on New Year’s Day and hadn’t done a proper long run since (although I don’t think all the running and hiking I did in the mountains would have done me any harm).
I was supposedly 4 weeks into a 16 week programme (12 weeks to go!) with only one long run of 21.1km under my belt.
On top of that, I was only a week away from a 100km ultra, and waaaay underdone in terms of training mileage. (On the plus side, I had successfully completed the corresponding event last year on pretty much the same training.)
We are really spoiled for choice here in Adelaide when it comes to running events and social runs. No wonder I have trouble focusing on one event!
For example, this past weekend I had the choices of (among others):
- A 14k hilly trail run in Cleland (very close to home)
- A 30k (with shorter options available) trail run along the Heysen trail, from the Heysen 105 finish line, into the Adelaide Hills – a section I’d never run or walked before
- A 21.1k run at the Snakepit. That one needs a little more explanation. The Snakepit is a soft sand, undulating, running track of around 500m. A 21.1k would be approximately 45 laps. My previous longest run there was 11 laps. There were about 8 people doing the run on Saturday night.
I really enjoy the trail runs – the scenery is usually beautiful, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere even when you’re actually very close to the city, and they are normally very social outings.
BUT – focus!
My ‘main’ event this year is the Boston Marathon, so I really need to focus on that. Not to mention the ultra that’s only a week away!
That’s not to say I won’t be doing other events this year. Here is a rough list of what I plan to do this year:
So I decided to do ‘none of the above’.
Given that Sunday was forecast to be hot, I thought a Saturday run was a good plan. I like getting my long runs out of the way on Saturdays and doing them on my own. That way I run at my pace and then I have Sunday free. I don’t especially enjoy long road runs (I’d much rather be out on the trails) but for marathon training there’s really no avoiding them! Also, with the ultra being on Saturday night, I’d have a full week to recover. (I won’t say taper – I think you actually have to train properly to be able to taper!) And, given that I’d be on my own for much of the ultra, it was a good opportunity to get used to my own company (and that of Dr Karl, whose podcasts I would listen to in order to distract myself!)
So here’s what I decided to do. First I planned to do a 3 hour run, from 5-8pm, starting and finishing at the Snakepit, where the half marathon was starting at 8. I’d run for 90 minutes along the coast (my favourite place for long runs), then turn around and head back. Then I would stay for an hour or so and cheer on the crazy people doing the half!
For the first few kilometres (running into a headwind), I was averaging about 5:35 minutes per km. I didn’t know the exact distance I would cover in 3 hours at that pace, but I knew it would be 32+ kilometres. I decided that was probably too much for only my second long run and only 4 weeks in, so instead I decided to turn around at 15km and make it an even 30.
I ran from the Snakepit to West Beach into the wind, then turned around and headed back, hoping it would suddenly become easy, but of course with fatigue in the legs my pace didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Still, by the time I got back to the car, I had managed to maintain a pretty consistent pace throughout, which was pleasing.
And then it was time to sit back and relax and watch people run round and round! I guess in hindsight running it would have been good mental training for next Saturday’s 250 laps, but the toll it would have taken on my legs would have far outweighed any benefits!
I must admit sometimes it’s hard to watch people run when I’m not running. On this occasion I had absolutely NO ‘runvy’! Alice and I were the cheer squad for the runners, and while Alice made herself useful taking photos and getting drinks/snacks for the runners, I played DJ and cranked some tunes to keep everyone motivated, while alternating between putting my feet up, dancing, and finding novel new uses for the gym equipment!
On Sunday I went and had coffee at Mt Lofty with some of the Cleland group and I really wished I could have run (although I did enjoy the sleep in!) but once again FOCUS! Right now, marathon training is where it’s at, and after Boston I will be all over those trails! Until then I’d better suck it up and hit the road!
I managed just under 70km this week including a reasonably fast parkrun (with a slow start due to the record number of people in attendance) and my first speed session in 3 weeks. I think I’m back on track!
Speaking of which, the track is where I will be next Saturday night and the subject of next week’s blog post!
Friends often ask me how I manage to keep doing events, often vastly different events, close together, without much rest and without getting injured.
Well, given that I didn’t do any events this weekend (I know, shocking!) I thought this week was as good as any to share a few words of ‘wisdom’ that have helped me and hopefully will help others too!
DISCLAIMER: There may be a little overlap from my recent post “20 things I’ve learned about running” (link here)
- REST DAYS. In an average week I will have 2 days off from running, usually Monday and Wednesday. I know some people can run day after day after day (sometimes even twice a day) but that’s not me. I do usually go to the gym on my ‘rest’ days, but I don’t do cardio. Lately I have been doing some of my long runs on Saturdays instead of Sundays – this usually means doubling up, with the 5k parkrun in the morning and then a long run around lunchtime or in the afternoon, but what it also means is I get an extra rest day, and even better, 2 full rest days in a row! (Also, even if I go hard at parkrun, the fatigue from that doesn’t usually hit me until the next day. Kind of like I’m trying to trick my body into running again before it realises what it’s doing!)
- VARYING TERRAIN. At the moment I am doing all road runs because I am 2 weeks out from a marathon. As much as I would have loved to be out running at Mt Crawford this weekend, the chance of my falling over and sustaining some kind of injury is just too great. Even a grazed knee (my favourite trail injury) would slow me down and I just did not want to risk that. However, after the marathon is over I will be trying to get out on the trails at least once a week. I find trail running much easier on my joints and muscles and I am definitely feeling the effects at the moment of having done nothing but road running since UTA100 11 weeks ago.
- VARYING PACE. Not all my 5 runs in a week are at fast pace. On a typical week, I would do Tuesday at ‘easy’ pace, Thursday at ‘tempo’ pace, Friday speed training or hill running, Saturday parkrun (5k race pace usually!) and Sunday long run at an ‘easy’ pace.
- RECOVERY. After my long run, I get into my compression pants as soon as possible and leave them on until the next morning. That is easier said than done sometimes! Not to mention getting them back off again the next morning! You know that thing called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that all athletes would be familiar with? Well lately, the MS has not been all that D! In fact if I sit on the couch for a few hours on Sunday night, I am really struggling to get up! However, with the compression pants on, and downing a couple of paracetamol tablets before I go to bed, weirdly enough my legs feel pretty good on Monday morning! Even after a marathon! A good spicy curry also helps with recovery – I’m not sure if that’s science or just superstition. Either way, it works for me!
- MANAGING INJURIES. Sometimes with an injury, you CAN continue to run but it will only get worse over time. Sometimes, you can’t run at all (that’s when a lot of my friends have discovered cycling and swimming). Sometimes, you just have to manage it and rest won’t make it better. Fortunately for me, my chronic hamstring tendon issue fits into that last category, and I know that:
- Some days will be better than others, and there’s no point trying to flog yourself on a bad day. (Unless that happens to be a race day, of course!)
- Running uphill and running fast are the two things that seem to cause it to flare up. Therefore, while I am not going to stop doing either of those things, I need to try to mix things up. Hence the importance of varying pace and terrain. Weirdly speed training doesn’t seem to bother it! Maybe because we run on a grass surface?
- If I run, say, over 30km on road or track, regardless of pace, it is going to hurt at some point. I think it was actually the 100km track race in January that really did me in! (That is not to say I won’t do it again next year!)
- WARMING UP. I now ALWAYS warm up before a race of up to marathon distance. In some cases (in particular the middle distance track events) the warmup will be longer than the race itself. This year, for the first time, I warmed up for a marathon. I also happened to run a PB that day. Coincidence? Maybe, but I don’t think the first few kilometres would have been very comfortable had I not warmed up. Even for parkrun, unless I am taking it easy, I will always do at least a 1km, preferably 2km warmup. Ideally I will warm up until I can’t feel my hamstring niggle anymore. Then, when the starter says “GO!” I can hit the ground running.
- STEADY BUILDUP AND TAPER. For marathon training I follow a 16 week programme, varying it as needed to fit in other events. I make sure I increase the distance of my long runs steadily – ie I won’t go out and run 21km one week and then 40 the next – even though my body is now accustomed to running these sorts of distances. Each time I train for a marathon I’m kind of starting from scratch. I also make sure to taper properly. In previous years I have done a 4 week taper. Because of my unconventional leadup to Gold Coast, I did a 3 week taper which seemed to work fine. For Adelaide, with the 30km Henley to Henley race 3 weeks out, it is again a 3 week taper.
- PRIORITIES. This year, my #1 priority was to run a Boston qualifier at Gold Coast. I also wanted to run UTA100 which was 7 weeks before that. I realised that if I were to smash myself at UTA I would need a good few weeks recovery time, which I couldn’t afford. Therefore, I set myself a relatively modest goal of finishing under 20 hours (OK, I did say 16 but that was just a number I pulled out of the ether – anything under 20 hours was a bronze belt buckle and that was just fine by me) and a week later was able to manage a 30k training run. I have another interesting juxtaposition of events coming up in September. First, the 12k City-Bay Fun Run which I have run 3 times and PB’d every time – if I’m honest I am aiming for close to 50 minutes this year. Second, 1 week later is the Yurrebilla Trail 56km ultramarathon at which I am hoping to run in close to 6.5 hours. You see my issue!
- BEING ABLE TO SAY NO. I have realised that I do have to pick and choose what events and training runs I do. If I am focused on a goal (ie at the moment I am focused on the Adelaide Marathon) every run I do needs to contribute towards that goal. A 56km trail run 2 weeks out from what needs to be a fast marathon, as tempting as it sounds (and believe it or not, it was a tempting proposition to me!) is NOT what I needed to be doing. Instead, with a 25km run in my plan, I ran 15 laps of a local 1 mile block. SO much fun. NOT. I am so looking forward to being able to do long trail runs on the weekends instead of pounding the pavement!
Does anyone else have any words of wisdom that help them to keep on running?