Run for the kids (the new course) – race recap

Run for the kids will always be a very special event for me as it was my first official public run. I’d been training in my garage on the treadmill for a while beforehand but turning up and being surrounded by a large crowd and actually putting myself out there as a runner? That was new, exciting and mildly terrifying. As well, it turned out, as being very addictive.

So, nearly 10 years to the day since I arrived at the start line of my first ‘Run for the kids’, I arrived at the start line of my fifth this morning. Things have changed a bit in 10 years – firstly, my husband was with me (in running gear this time, not as a supporter) as was my brilliant running buddy (very different from running alone as I did that first day).

The other big change is the course. This year, the course starts at the Docklands which was perfect for those of us catching the train as it was a very short walk from Southern Cross station. The event village was already buzzing when we got there – we dropped bags, found some secret toilets without queues and made our way to our starting area. Husband was in blue (speedy) group, we were in yellow (slightly less speedy) group. Selfies done, we waited for the start, feeling almost as nervous as I did at my first event. Almost.

And, soon enough, we were off. The course took us quickly through the Docklands, over the junction then onto the freeway and heading towards the Bolte Bridge. As usual, the Bolte was a selfie fest and, despite having done it 4 times before, I loved being up there and taking in the view and the beautiful Melbourne weather (with just a bit of a headwind). Then it was time to head back down and along the freeway which seemed to go on quite a long time, far past the previous course turn off.

Eventually we were back down and around then running along Flemington Road to another of the highlights of the new course – running past the Royal Children’s Hospital. I had been looking forward to this section but hadn’t thought how emotional it would make me and I was fighting back tears, especially when seeing the young patients sitting in wheelchairs with drips attached thanking us. Thanking us. For being out in the sunshine running and enjoying ourselves while they were going through things that children shouldn’t have to go through.

We then wove our way through suburban gems of streets around North Melbourne before a final squiggle to take us to the finish and a blissful downhill stretch. The icing on the cake was Steve Moneghetti being at the finish line to cheer us in – such a great ambassador for the event and for running in general.

I had been a bit reluctant about the change of course prior to the event as I was a big fan of running through the tunnel and wondered how its omission would change things. However I absolutely loved the new course – great length, enough variety to keep it interesting and a few undulations to push you a bit.

Very proud to have completed my fifth ‘Run for the kids’ and I’m sure I’ll be back next year.

An ode to my shoes

I have been trying to deny this for a while now but I think the day has finally come when I need to admit it – my trail shoes may have reached the end of their life. Before you start to attempt to placate me with ‘they’re just shoes’, I need to tell you about what this particular object means to me.

My first running adventures were definitely road running. Well, actually, they were treadmill in my garage running as I was too embarrassed to run outdoors but, eventually, I took up road running. I remember seeing trail runners and thinking how much fun it looked but didn’t think I could do it. I’m not really sure why, just that trail runners were somehow cooler and more serious and absolutely fearless (or that’s what it looked like from the outside).

After a considerable amount of time, I signed up for and attended my first trail event. I wore road running shoes which was ok as it wasn’t too technical but I jealously looked at those who had trail shoes as they threw themselves down muddy hills without fear. And knew I had to get some.

And that is how my trail shoes came into my life. It was love from first wear. They contained some strange sort of magic. In them, I suddenly felt more confident to leap (kind of) over fallen trees, run through muddy puddles and weave along rocky trails. Realistically I know it’s not the shoes themselves but what they represented – with them on, I felt like the trail runner I wanted to be. Bit by bit, I became that trail runner.

Just putting these shoes on makes me smile because I know that I only run in amazing places when wearing them. These shoes have seen me through over 700km of trail adventures. Some of them have been small, local and pretty gentle. Others have been large, distant and hard. But there has rarely been a moment on the trail that I haven’t been grateful that I get to be there, experiencing this country’s beauty and either enjoying peaceful solitude or hanging out with fabulous trail running friends. Even when throwing up at various points of the Surf Coast half marathon last year, I was still (strangely) grateful and determined to see it through. It appears that I’ve become one of those ‘absolutely fearless’ trail runners (or rather full of fear but doing it anyway).

I do get that they’re ‘just shoes’ and that I can get new ones which I’m sure I’ll love. Just not quite as much. There is something about that first pair of trail shoes that I don’t think I’ll feel again – a membership card to a world I wasn’t expecting to be invited to and am so happy to be in.

parkrun tourism @ Lillydale Lake

The beautiful thing about having all these wonderful parkrun events in Victoria is having so much choice. I’m now fortunate enough to have a handful locally and the options widen the further I’m willing to drive.

This morning, we opted for an alarm starting with a 5 and headed off at 6am towards Lillydale Lake. I’d heard good things about this one so was looking forward to the adventure, despite not having had much sleep and a full on week.

We arrived and found the spot easily with plentiful parking and clean toilets to greet us. The surroundings instantly made me smile – a gorgeous lake and tranquil setting with the odd duck wandering across the path was exactly what I had in mind.

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We gathered for the briefing which was all the more impressive as it was rhyming and included multiple milestone celebrations. And then it was time to start. Lillydale Lake parkrun attracts pretty big numbers so the start line was predictably a bit squishy. I kept to the back and it didn’t take long after the start before we were able to spread out a bit and find our own spots. The course takes you for 2 laps around the lake, starting by heading up towards and along the dam wall before coming back down to follow the water. The path is gravel but not thick enough to be annoying – it was the perfect surface for my still slightly grumpy achilles and was lots of fun to run on. I sometimes get grumpy on 2 lap courses but not this one – too pretty and with fellow runners and volunteers who were too friendly for me to have any grumps at all.

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In fact, this morning’s run felt great. I wasn’t pushing it hard but managed my fastest time for the year and loved the welcoming and inclusive finish line vibe at the end.

This is a definite treasure of a parkrun. While I can’t say I’m likely to regularly get up at 6am to travel to it, I’ll certainly be back if I’m in the area and, if this is your local, you’re very, very lucky.

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‘Body positive’ and obesity – weighing in to the debate

Quite a lot of the bloggers and instagrammers I follow consider themselves part of the ‘body positive’ movement. For those not familiar, this is about celebrating all human bodies, regardless of size and shape. There has been some commentary out there for a while about whether this movement encourages obesity and puts people’s health at risk and I read another comment about it this morning which got me thinking.

I’m obese. I have been for all of my adult life and much of my later childhood years. I have done the yo yo thing – losing various amounts of weight at various times and then, usually quite slowly and insidiously, putting it back on (although never making it back up to my peak weight). I spent a long time feeling bad about it and blaming myself and my lack of willpower for it. For the record, none of that helped. Whether I say horrid things to myself or not, my weight doesn’t change, only my mood.

The message I draw from the body positive movement is to live now and appreciate the body I have. I live in my body 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so I’m well aware of its flaws. However I also celebrate its strengths. I was only saying to a friend recently how much I’ve grown to appreciate my thighs, a relatively recent development since becoming a runner. They’re big and strong and I couldn’t be more pleased with them. They push me through long distances and up hills, keeping going even when my brain thinks they can’t.

I’m aware that my weight isn’t considered healthy on a range of current medical benchmarks and would definitely like to get closer to those targets. The body positive movement doesn’t discourage me for aiming for this and doing my best to work towards it. It also doesn’t convince me that I’m a healthy weight. But it does convince me that, whatever weight and shape I am, I can live now. I don’t have to wait until I’m a certain weight to run, wear clothes that make me happy or enjoy all the wonderful bits of life. I don’t have to apologise for my weight or how I look or wear clothes that hide my shape. I don’t have to use exercise as a punishment for eating certain foods and I don’t have to justify my food choices to anyone but myself. I don’t have to buy into media images of what ‘health’ or ‘strength’ look like and I can celebrate the things I achieve in this fabulous body I have.

NYD double & a chance for parkrun tourism – Traralgon & Churchill parkruns

As New Year’s day is the only day you can officially run two parkruns, I had been eagerly checking the compendium to find out which parkruns would be offering this opportunity and crossing my fingers for two I hadn’t already done. Luckily, two popped up in Gippsland and, making the most of the school holidays, I booked some accommodation to make the most of it.

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On the way to the start area at Traralgon parkrun

Our first parkrun of the day was Traralgon so this is where we chose to stay the night – definitely a quiet New Year’s Eve when you have to be up early to run the next morning! We easily found the start line for Traralgon and gathered for briefing. It was great to see everyone beaming with enthusiasm at the New Year with many locals and visitors sharing the morning. This was a special morning in another way – my Dad had joined us to spectate his first New Year’s day double and it was great to have him there.

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The view from the turnaround point of the Traralgon parkrun course

Traralgon is a double out and back course along a winding path along the river and through a suburban park with views across to the far off mountains. The beauty of this is that each leg doesn’t feel that long and you are always out there with others, receiving smiles and encouragement. The sun was starting to get a bit of bite so was pleased to get through this one relatively quickly, knowing we had more to go.

And with that, parkrun #1 for the day was done so we waved goodbye and headed south for Churchill parkrun.

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Trying to get my head around the course 🙂

We arrived in plenty of time and easily found where we needed to be as there were lots of people gathering – those from both Traralgon and Newborough as well as those sticking to the one parkrun at Churchill. The meeting point is at the hub which is the perfect spot with toilets and shade – both of which were needed having already been for a run.

The Churchill course is another double out and back…sort of. It sounded a bit confusing on the directions but was actually really easy to follow once you set out and didn’t feel like you were covering the same ground. The track winds through the trees, along boardwalks and over bridges and includes a couple of inclines just to keep it varied. I really liked this course – not only for the opportunity to see and encourage others but also for the scenery and tranquil trail.

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There was a definitely community vibe at both events and the finish area of Churchill exemplified this with lots of people hanging around to cheer others in and chat, generally enjoying each other’s company and kicking the New Year off in the best way possible.

Thanks to both event teams – it’s a big job to volunteer any day but especially for special events and I really appreciated the opportunity to tourist at these great events to start 2019.

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Starting the year with a slice of gratitude

I’m starting 2019 with a grumbling achilles which was not in my plans at all. Last night’s walk around the neighbourhood was a slightly grumpy one as I wallowed in the fact I can’t run right now. I’m pleased to say that this morning’s walk had a completely different tone – wallowing done, I had a wonderful walk and spent the 5km thinking of all the things I’m grateful for as I start this new year:

  • I can walk. And walking is great, especially as I don’t have to think about where my feet are landing, how I can barely breathe and which bits might be chafing randomly so I can actually just enjoy the scenery instead.
  • This is not a permanent injury – I will run again soon and I’ll get that lovely surge of gratitude for being back at it. And get to again whinge about having to think about where my feet are landing, how I can barely breathe and which bits might be chafing randomly.
  • I love where I live. I have the choice of so many great places outdoors to enjoy the environment, all within a short walk or drive from my house. I have wetlands on my doorstep, beautiful hills visible from my backyard and a glorious beaches a short drive away.
  • I now have a running husband who is also experiencing his own injuries so he (finally) gets it and we’re able to support each other.
  • I’m part of a fantastic offline and online running community who are listen to me grumble about my injuries and help me put it all back into perspective.
  • The shuffle algorithm on my phone this morning was perfect – every song was exactly what I needed to hear and had me smiling all the way around my walk.
  • I have some great events to look forward to this year – new experiences and new goals to tick off.

Here’s to a 2019 filled with gratitude and, hopefully, some running as well.

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