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Self-care victory

Had two terrible nights sleep earlier in the week and was struggling a lot at work. Felt like people were demanding every minute of my time and I had too many responsibilities outside of work.

 

At 5:30 am I went for an angry, 80-minute run and thought of logical kick-arse ways to reduce a lot of time spent on administration, and implemented them when I got back.

 

This helped not just me but also others to have a limit set now on what we feel we can do.

 

I made it through the day without needing any sort of medication or self-medication, and only realised this when it was all over and it hadn’t even occurred to me to use any. Nearly 400 days alcohol-free. Not even any caffeine for over 4 months.

 

Instead of freaking out with anxiety I’d been proactive.

 

Proud of myself for not pulling out of any volunteer responsibilities completely, since I’m proud of what I’m involved in.

 

Thursday 28 February I realised I’d rather use the money I’ve saved for flights and accommodation (to do a marathon in April) on a faster computer for myself.

 

This will improve my quality of life immensely and reduce a lot of frustrations.

 

I also decided to build a stronger 30 km run base rather than max out my resources for 2 months yet again on a marathon that would mean my glute/piriformis pain would worsen just when it’s been a lot better.

 

This will mean regular, consistent running to look forward to and enjoy.

 

Feeling like I’ve actually won a marathon now!

Noosa National Park running walking trail view palm tree beach

Euphoric scenic run in Noosa Queensland on day 377 alcohol-free

Set out for my run at 5:10 am and it was 24C / 75F in the pre-dawn half-light. I was running gently to take in the scenery and so I didn’t trash myself in the “Feels like 31C” (89F) heat and 88% humidity which had made me quite unwell running 13 km quite hard 4 days earlier.

Four years ago when we were in Noosa, I was 35 kg overweight and barely walking a few thousand steps a day. But that was also when I was slowly trying to increase my activity.

A year ago I had aimed to run 4 km to Noosa then explore the National Park headland trail. But both times I ran there, only I got about 1 km into the park before having The Fear that if I didn’t start running back I’d need a toilet before I had found one.

This run was a victory venturing into the unknown (where there were loads of other people)!

I’d found a map showing toilets a few hundred metres past where I’d got before. I also brought my Camelbak containing chilled water, and was much more Zenned-out and calm, and able to enjoy every moment.

When I stopped drinking about a year ago, I started to lose my anxiety. That, and no fear of a toilet emergency were some of the reasons I enjoyed this.

On top of all this, the scenery was incredible, and I started to feel quite euphoric!

I paused a lot to take photos, and I’m happy with these ones.

Sunrise Noosa Parade bridge Weyba Creek running Queensland AustraliaNoosa Queensland Australia tropical plantsSunrise Noosa Parade bridge Sofitel Hastings Street running Queensland AustraliaNoosa Heads beach Queensland Australia running surfingBoardwalk Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanBoiling Pot Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanNoosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach ocean tropical plantsNoosa National Park running walking trail view palm tree beachBeautiful Trail Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach ocean sunriseNoosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanNoosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanDolphin Point Sunrise Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanNoosa National Park walking trail view running

I’d made a connection in the morning that each fairly typical glass of wine I used to drink had the same number of calories as two slices of bread.

Three glasses of wine a day (or a beer and two wines) plus the usual meals and snacks and no purposeful exercise for 5 years meant the weight steadily crept up and up, till I discovered how to count calories easily for free and started to move more.

Last year’s holiday began during my first month without drinking and I had been so proud to stick to not drinking during it, and happily surprised I found it so enjoyable.

This year, the distances walked and run seemed much shorter and I felt very light-hearted.

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I Walked 51 km (32 mi) on Boxing Day

I wasn’t even scoring bargains in malls!  I wanted to walk for 12 hours to see how far I could get, but after about 9 hours, during a fuel stop at McDonald’s for a chocolate frappé, I broke out in a sweat and felt dizzy, so I decided I should stop. It was 30 Celsius (86 F) at that point. Happy with that effort.

 

I started at 5:33 am by walking around our town’s lake. I thought I might end up doing that a few times on the day, but there were so many bugs in the air and I kept getting stones in my shoes, so I decided to stick to roads if I could.  I needed to do the walk in loops so I could come back to where I could make a toilet stop.  I went to the outskirts of town on 4 different loops, which required walking on the side of roads.

By midday, it was 26 Celsius (79 F). In the last few hours of walking my mission was to try to go where I knew there would be a bit of shade, and the last 3 loops were shorter ones on footpaths nearer the CBD.

 

Before I started: I had high protein Greek yoghurt, 3 oat breakfast biscuits, juice, decaf coffee, water.

I was drinking water from my Camelbak throughout the day.

Food:

9 km: Oat protein bar

15 km: Jelly babies

22 km: Egg & bacon McMuffin, orange juice

33 km: 350 ml lemon squash

37 km: Cheeseburger, fries, lemonade

50 km: Ordered a chocolate frappé and drank it before/after stopping at 51 km.

Dinner: Chicken & veg sweet & sour Hokkien noodles, prawn crackers, crisps, icecream, fudge, and chocolate.

 

Looking at that list, I think I should have eaten something else at about 45 km then I wouldn’t have felt like I was going to pass out at 50 km.  But when you’re feeling tired and crappy but want to keep going, eating sometimes seems like it takes too much time and energy.  Stupid “exercise brains”!

 

 

Random info:

 

 

  • I saw two hares and a mouse/rat.
  • At 32 km I ran into a good running buddy who was walking her dog and we walked about 1 km together which was lovely.
  • I applied 50+ sunscreen beforehand, and twice during my walk, and wore a wide hat and sunglasses: no sunburn, slight tan.
  • My Garmin Fenix 5 still had 58% battery left.
  • Sore thighs.
  • Hotspot or blister on my right heel sole.

 

 

McDonald’s is near home. While I was waiting and starting to feel terrible, I didn’t think of calling anyone to come and get me because I didn’t think I’d have to wait long for the drink. I had to wait 10 minutes for my frappé, but I felt a bit better as soon as I had some and started walking home.

 

I actually got outside our house and my watch said 50.7 km so I went round the corner and back to make it 51 km (32 mi).

 

This meant it was my walking distance personal best by 1 km, and quicker than my first 50 km walk by 30 minutes.

Melbourne Marathon 2018

My first marathon (Aug 2017) and my 50 km run (June 2018) both went without a hitch. Melbourne Marathon Sunday 14 October 2018 was a bit more humbling.

The bad:

  1. At 25 km, it was hot and my throat felt like it was closing, and I had trouble getting enough oxygen. I had chest pains for a minute, with a heartrate spike of 195. I had to do walk/run/walk/run to finish the marathon, and couldn’t talk without the throat constriction happening.
  2. I had to walk in an event and I’ve always prided myself on never needing to walk.
  3. I wanted to prove in an official, big marathon, I was better than average, but I finished 1552 of 1826 women. 114 of 145 in my Age Group.

 

The good:

  1. Digestion was fine beforehand, and then only needed the loo at 20 km.
  2. Fuelling and hydration were great. Also tipped water on my head every 3 km drinks station.
  3. I knew when to walk when necessary.
  4. I took a nice photo of my club friends, Caroline and Carolyn.IMG_8084
  5. I got to run the F1 Albert Park circuit and take a selfie in pit straight.
  6. A man with a below-knee prosthesis passed me after that and I thought it was so cool l quickly took a picture.IMG_8068
  7. I had an awesome weekend away in the city on my own with only a couple of anxiety pains, when a few years ago I’d never dreamed I’d do anything like this.
  8. I was a 29-year smoker and 35 kg overweight 4.5 years ago, and have come a long way.
  9. Met up with lots of running friends I’ve made since starting running & parkrun 3 years ago.
  10. Ambrosia-like handful of jelly beans from a spectator at 26 km that kept me amused for 4 km.
  11. There were all ages, genders, and sizes around me near the back of the pack.
  12. 13% didn’t finish at all! I feel sorry for them, but that makes me feel luckier.
  13. Talked with a Spartan at 36 km (he’d run MelbMara 10 times) and he was saying we were doing well in the heat.
  14. At 32 km, a spectator offered me Minties. The motto is “At moments like these, you need Minties”. Of course I said yes. And I enjoyed that Mintie till I finished it just before the end.
  15. I didn’t need First Aid!
  16. I f*&%ing finished my third marathon!

 

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The doctor I saw about my marathon “episode” said she didn’t think it was exercise-induced asthma / bronchioconstriction. Probably just one of those things in marathons when you push your body to its limits. Long run, high heart rate spike, needing lots of oxygen, hot conditions, no shade. She said to just see if it happens again on a 30ish km run in the cool, and if so, she’d refer me to a sports clinic.

But a once-off like this sounded like my body’s fairly normal reaction to tough conditions at the time. If it was asthma, I wouldn’t have breathed easier after walking a minute or two.

 

I learned a lot this time. Looking forward to doing a Winter marathon next time!

 

The final words go to mention that through all of this, I knew I was kicking off a 24 hour relay “Run For Dennis (aka KeepRunningFatboy)” with My Fitness Pal friends and needed to run for about 5 hours to fill my slot. Dennis Ley ran over 25 marathons in his inspiring life that was cut short in August.

 

I had to keep running.

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Reasons to run

If you make comparisons, you might feel inadequate for being slower than another runner or you feel empty with no goals if you’re ahead.

If you find and know your own internal reasons why you run, others can’t stop you from enjoying running.

My reasons may or may not intersect with yours.

  • It all started with going faster than a walk.
  • To find beauty in nature.
  • To find beauty in strength.
  • Art. Taking photos, writing and talking about insights from running.
  • parkrun. Where do I begin?
  • Big-ass goals. Striving for achievements, and mini-goals and daily achievements along the way.
  • Curiosity, learning, data, statistics, science.
  • Friends. I’ve made more real friends in 3 years of running than I have in a lifetime.
  • Endorphins, and the runner’s high.
  • Weight management and earning more calories for yummy food.
  • Health. Blah, blah, blah, yes, it’s almost a cliché that running’s so good for you, but deep down I ecstatically love those annual “clear health” check-ups that ease many fears.
  • Aspirations towards Sisu. In Finland, Sisu is a unique trait that means consistency and resolute determination. It’s an epic quality of stamina and perseverance, of courage in the face of extreme hardship.
  • Zenmode.

Know your reasons and know they’re yours and you can run happy.

The psychology of running

They say, “Dig deep” on a tough run, but how do we do that? Here are strategies for dealing with critical situations.

You can use these for yourself or alter them to suit your method.

  • If I get too breathless, I will run at a pace that feels like I can run forever.
  • If I’m staring at the ground and feeling weighed down, then I will look up to try and find a nice photo subject.
  • If I want to quit early, then I will focus on completing a mini-goal or route section so I feel hopeful.
  • If I worry about my time or pace, I will remember my fundamental goal is to stay healthy so I can keep running.
  • If my shoulders get tense, I will rotate my arms to ease the ache.
  • If my legs/hips/calves hurt, I will count to ten and practice good form.
  • If I am really struggling, I will “Embrace the suck”.

We can face That Dark Place on a tough run, as I’ve seen someone call it. We shouldn’t be going there every run. It’s probably best to only do it every couple of weeks to avoid burnout. Most training runs should be run easy.

But when you expect a run to be tough and you have contingency plans and strategies for critical situations, you create psychological endurance.

You will probably think negative or defeatist thoughts. Here are ways of digging deep when that happens.

  • Wear a symbolic item that reminds you of your strength and/or why you run.
  • Visualise completing your goal.
  • Remember friends’ compliments about your determination/commitment.
  • Use your senses: Hear the crowd’s encouragement or nature; see the interesting route; taste/drink some water/fuel; feel your skin to make sure you’re sweating and not dehydrated, feel the breeze.
  • Remember overcoming a great obstacle in your life. Think outside the run – remind yourself you can do this, you’ve done other hard things.
  • Swear, and let your monkey feelings out.
  • In a training session, remember the purpose of the workout and remember that performance is improved by trying hard.
  • In a race, remember your training, and how you’ve built up to this. Let it all fall into place.

Being prepared to face That Dark Place can help. Visualise a certain point in the route (e.g. 32 km) and rehearse seeing yourself overcome negativity at that point by remembering these strategies.

You don’t need to leave it all up to luck on the day.

My First 50 km Run

My First 50 km Run – Sunday 10 June 2018 – Recap

I’d been planning it for 6 months. I have a spreadsheet I’d made with a Strava Premium McMillan marathon training plan in it, and the 50 km Ultramarathon training plan from the book, “Relentless Forward Progress”, and I basically managed to follow the distance of the long runs each week, while running 4-5 times a week as directed by what my body could cope with. Every day I would enter what I’d done, and tweak what I would plan to do.

I’d first thought I’d do the Canberra Marathon Festival 50 km event in April, but travel and accommodation were going to be too expensive, plus, events are stressful, so I decided I’d keep it simple: If I want to do 50 km, do 50 km. I don’t need to pay to run – just do it around home.

I chose this weekend, the long weekend in June, since I’d have more days to choose from if the weather was terrible, plus I could have time for recovery. Sunday was perfect. 5-15 Celsius (41-59F).

Started at 6:24 am

1-10 km (1-6 miles)

My usual morning run in the dark route on footpaths along the highway. I saw W and N who both knew what I was up to, and wished me luck. DK tooted her horn at me.

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I made sure throughout the run to only run at a pace that let me breathe easy. Early on, I had to keep slowing down, because I knew I’d need that energy later.

10-25 km (6-15.5 miles)

Uphill to the next town on a fine gravel path, then back down again. Saw G, which was nice. The fog was beautiful in the dawn sunlight.

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25-40 km (15.5 – 25 miles)

More hills. C pulled up next to me at 30 km, and I was happy to report I was feeling alright.

I did start getting slower gradually from there. Around 38 km my left lower back was starting to hurt and I could tell I was tensing up. It helped if I stretched my arms up and out.

Fuel: I ate yoghurt and a big muesli bar before I set out, and on the run I had 2 other bars, a donut, and 2 energy gels with caffeine.

Too much information: Loo stops were at 9, 18, 25, and 39 km. Didn’t “need” them all, but I’d planned the route to go near the loos in case I did need them, and then I used them so I was comfortable the whole time.

40-50 km (25-31 miles)

Mostly flat, on paths around the lake and along the creek. My body was running alright, if slowly, but it was starting to complain in places. It was also getting warmer in the sun. Had arranged for F to run with me for the last section. We chatted, and it helped distract me from the sore back. It was nice to have someone with me when I passed the 42.2 km marathon mark, and enter into the “uncharted waters of Ultra territory”, as F put it. Then it was a painfully slow countdown jog to the finish. I’d called my husband to meet me, and little did I know, my dear friend DB had arranged to be there too, with BB, AB, and G, and bunches of balloons. My own personal finish line and cheer squad!

Too long; didn’t read? Ran 50 km! Achieved my 2018 goal! Ran all the way, which was the cherry on top! Did it in 6 hours as I’d hoped! I have awesome friends.

Fun Stats:

My 40th run of 20 km or over.

12 month streak of running a Half Marathon or more per month.

(Started learning to run on Sept 22, 2015 when suddenly my usual walk wasn’t fast enough.)