Dopey training – week 27

Training is done. Not that I’ve been following the training plan for a few weeks now, thanks to my ‘niggles’ but it’s officially done.

Briefly – it’s been a week of a few power walks and lots of high step count days in between.

We visited Green Lake in Seattle to stretch our legs and I pushed my walking as hard as I could, managing to stay ahead of balloon lady pace, despite feeling cold and mildly unfit. I knew that cutting these last few weeks wouldn’t kill my fitness completely but it has taken a bit of a dent, however it was either that or rule myself out completely with injury.

On Saturday, parkrunday, we were in San Francisco so headed for Crissy Field. This walk was hard. Cold, again, and just felt slow and alone. All of the ‘I’m not good enough’ thoughts were surfacing as I could feel my calf pull and I just wanted to be able to run like I could see all of those ahead of me doing. I tried a few steps of running but felt familiar pains so went back to walking and called on all my positive mantras just to finish. The pain wasn’t as bad as it had been a few weeks earlier and I was still keeping up a good walking pace. And the scenery made me smile. Crossing the line, I was consoling myself that at least I can finish the 5km at Disney, if nothing else.

I’ll extend this training week to Monday as, being New Year’s Day, it was an extra parkrunday and by this time, we were in Florida so went to Clermont Waterfront. The weather was awful but I actually had a fantastic walk. Who knows what had changed in the 2 days since my previous one? I didn’t look at my watch, didn’t care what pace I did and just enjoyed it. The 5km still felt long, making me wonder how the other events would feel but I saw that as a positive – 2 days before, I had been sure I wouldn’t be doing any other events. In the end, I finished only just over balloon lady pace but feeling much more positive than on my previous 2 walks.

So training really is done. I have no idea what the next few days will bring. I have no idea whether my leg, my lungs or my mind are capable of finishing any or all of the events. Let alone finish them, I don’t know whether I’m going to start them all. Each day will be its own decision point and I can’t commit to any more than that. What I do know is that I did the training. I skipped a small number of runs through illness or injury but did all the others, despite long days at work, cold, heat, being tired or just not wanting to. If the training plan said run, I ran. And I couldn’t be prouder of that. Whether or not I bring home all the bling I hoped for, I have achieved something beyond what I thought I could and the journey has shown me what I’m capable of, physically and mentally. Those who told me marathon training was life changing were right and I’m so glad to have done it.

Summary:

Thursday – 5km (49:12)
Saturday – 4.9km (47:36)
Monday – 5km (51:09)

Dopey training – week 25

I didn’t run on Tuesday – life and the craziness of my working life at the end of the year got in the way and I decided to rest up for the mock Dopey ahead of me. My first run for the week was Thursday and I set off for my usual lap of the neighbourhood. All was going well with pretty consistent and easy intervals until about the 4th kilometre when I felt the familiar tug of pain in my leg……my left leg. Not the one that’s currently giving me grief. My spare, uninjured one. I immediately toned it down to a walk for the remainder of the session and tried hard not to panic.

On Friday, I woke up mostly pain free on that side and got through the working day without any problems. I was due to do another training run Friday night but decided to skip it, just in case.

This morning, I opted for ‘just’ 5km at parkrun (rather than the 19km that my training plan was calling for) and the first minute of it was fine. The rest was not. There was definitely something not right with my left leg. The fact that its pain was overshadowing that which currently lives in my right leg said it all. I managed to walk pretty fast on the flat but going up hill was not pretty and I was thankful for my sunglasses so I could hide the tears from my fellow parkrunners.

And that’s it. Very hard to write a training recap when you’re no longer training. The taper officially begins today and to say I’m not happy about it is clearly an understatement. Tomorrow I should be tackling a 40km training run but instead I’ll be trying to quell the anxiety and enjoying having extra time to pack, hoping it doesn’t turn into a very expensive opportunity to cheer my friends on in a big overseas event. I have a physio appointment booked on Thursday anyway so will see what she says. All I can hope is that, with 3 weeks to go, my niggles can heal enough to get me over the finish line.

Weekly summary:

Thursday – 5km (48:01)
Saturday – 5km (49:38)

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Dopey training – week 22

Settle in (again) and prepare yourselves for a long post. I had contemplated writing this post as the days happened and I wish I had – I’m sure, now that it’s done, it’ll be hard to capture the mood. Or, rather, the moods. It was definitely a ‘moody’ week.

I skipped Tuesday’s run intentionally – my leg was feeling a bit dodgy and I knew I needed every bit of health and energy for what was to come. So it became an extra rest day.

Thursday was the beginning of the mini-Dopey simulation and I was kind of eager to get it started. With the warm weather well and truly here, I chose to go into town and run around the park and along the waterfront so that I could finish with a dip in the water. The run was great. I made sure I took it easy, both in pace and on my leg and was happy with how it went. Having said that, I was still very, very doubtful that I would actually manage to get all the kms in. It’s like there are 2 voices in my head – one yelling quite loudly ‘You can’t do it! It’s too far! It’s going to hurt! You’re not a marathoner!’ and another much quieter voice, quite simply asking ‘What if you can?’. At this stage, I was listening to the louder voice and trying my best to do it anyway.

Friday had 6.5km scheduled so I got to it after work. I was hot and tired and still sceptical but I set off around the block anyway. My goal for all of the runs this week was to get them done without worrying about pace. If I could keep under Disney pace, great. If not, oh well. So this was more of a walk with sporadic bouts of running to keep the pace down. My leg was a bit grumpy at the end of it and I wasn’t confident of it holding out for the rest of the kilometres planned. I did my rituals – epsom salt bath spiky ball – and tried to think positive thoughts.

On Saturday, I needed to do 16km and wanted to do the extra kms pre-parkrun so was down at the river by 6am to set off. I ran in the opposite direction to my normal route and found a bit of a hidden gem in the other end of the river. Very picturesque and winding enough to keep me wondering what would come along next. It was also not as quiet as I thought so I felt quite safe with other walkers and runners along the path. Coming back towards the parkrun start, I bumped into friends out for their pre-parkrun kms and hatched a plan with Jo to join her for the long run the following day. I will admit to being a bit uneasy about this – I adore my running friends and have had many great runs with them but have tended to do this training alone so I don’t feel like I’m holding anyone up. The added bonus being it’s only me who has to put up with my inevitable whingeing in the final few kms. So this was going to be something new.

I made it back in time for briefing then completed a steady parkrun to finish off my kms for the day.

My alarm was set for 4am on Sunday and, surprisingly, I got up straight away and got ready. To say I was not looking forward to this was an understatement. My legs were fine despite 3 days of running and I wasn’t suffering too much from a couple of early mornings but nothing about running 37km appealed and the steady drizzle outside did not improve my mood. Husband and I drove to Kardinia Park to meet the others, took the obligatory start line selfie and then were on our way.

And my anxiety dissolved. Of course this would be ok. These people, who I am lucky enough to call my friends, were here to help Jo and I get it done and cared enough about us to get up very early on a Sunday morning and run in the rain. For once, I didn’t have to depend on my own resources, drive and determination – I could share the energy of the collective. I can’t say enough about how grateful I was that they were there and how supported I felt – definitely a different vibe to my solo runs.

Before long, we were out of town and into the countryside. I was surprised at how quickly the kilometres were ticking off although it probably helped to not really know where I was so had no real sense of distance. We were joined by another friend along the trail then another couple at Leopold where we stopped for a toilet break. Having fresh friends seemed to freshen us up as well – it still a hard slog but I was definitely buoyed along by the atmosphere this bunch created.

Along the path not far from Drysdale, we gained another 3 who accompanied us in to our temporary aid station where I changed my socks for dry ones, checked on the state of my blisters and added extra band aids and there were toilets and drinks for those that needed them.

From here, we embarked on the hardest part of the run – an out and back totalling 17km to make up the distance. And this was where having such a big group was perfect as our paces were very different. Personally, I was flagging. The previous 3 days of running were catching up with me and I was tired. I took in more fuel and did the mental checklist of body parts to find out what was hurting but really, it was just tiredness. My feet were ok and my calf was behaving itself. I walked a lot in this section but at a pace that kept me ahead of the virtual balloon ladies. I was happy with that – very happy. I’d worried about my ability to do this at all and, here I was, walking it in but still keeping the pace. Tick.

Turning around and coming back was even harder although not as bad as my last long run which I took a lot of comfort from. Having friends around helped, so did all the training. The little voice that had been quietly asking ‘What if you can?’ was beginning to gain some confidence and volume. In those last few kilometres, despite the pain of blistered feet and general aches, I believed for the first time that I have a chance of completing the Dopey challenge.

Weekly summary – 64.8km total

Thursday – 5.2km (45:06)
Friday – 6.5km (1:04:16)
Saturday – 16km (2:35:39)
Sunday – 37km (6:07:00)

Dopey training – Week 18

Another ‘low mileage’ week of 21km. Definitely made easier by sunshine and blue skies this week as well as daylight savings extending my opportunities. I do quite like running in the dark but feel a bit limited on my routes at those times so daylight savings lets me change things up, at least a little.

On Tuesday, I didn’t want to stray too far from home as I had too much to do so I took myself off to some trails close by which I haven’t been on for a while. I tried out some podcasts to keep me amused but it didn’t work and I flicked back to my music very quickly. I’m really hoping I can find some variety as I think I’m going to get bored with my playlist for the long hours that the marathon will take.

Thursday was a bit of a ‘hmmmmm’ sort of day – I knew I needed to run but couldn’t quite decide where. My friend messaged me in the afternoon and we headed out to the You Yangs for the usual trail up a hill and down the other side. It ended up being one of my quickest times on that route and, while the hill wasn’t any less painful than usual, at least it was over faster.

I was run directing at parkrun on Saturday so didn’t get my usual 5km in which meant I had a whole day of delights to choose from. This, of course, meant I spent much of the day not making a decision and not doing anything. In the end, I opted to go out to Torquay and run the Surf Coast trail and was joined by my husband. It’s the first time we’ve run together and was actually really lovely. He’s much faster than me and I’m sure it would have pained him to slow down to my pace but it was a great way to spend the evening and we were treated to beautiful weather and a pretty sunset along the coastal trail.

Weekly summary:

Tuesday – 5.5km (45:24)

Thursday – 5km (49:33)

Saturday – 10.4km (1:31:29)

Dopey training – week 17

After last week’s mega-mileage, this is technically a low mileage week although the ‘long runs’ of 5km are now behind us as we ramp up towards the big event.

I was really, really pleased with how well I pulled up after last Sunday’s 27km – I wasn’t sore the next day at all, just a bit tired so I took it easy in the first half of the week. I’m sure I could have run on Tuesday but work and other things got in the way and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a few extra days so I headed out for my first run of the week on Thursday. I made a last minute decision to go up to the You Yangs and got there just before they shut the gate to get in. I ran our usual loop and managed to equal my best time, well under balloon lady pace despite the large hill in the middle of it. So that gave me a confidence boost.

Saturday was parkrun day and, as is often the case, I wasn’t sure how I was feeling or what I wanted to do. My friend and I settled in to 2 min run/1 min walk although I had rather speedy legs and definitely pushed the run segments to the edge of my comfort zone. And it paid off – I got a course PB and my 6th fastest 5km ever so was very pleased with that. I was starting to feel like all this endurance training was slowing me down (which I’m ok with) but, again, it was a great confidence boost to know that I can still pull out something quick if I set my mind to it.

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Apologies for the blurry photo – must be an indication of our speed this morning!

I’ve said before that my training plan tells me how far to run but my soul tells me where. For my long run today, it was being quite specific. Somewhere near the water, with trees but not too familiar. I drove a little further than usual to a part of the Surf Coast trail I’ve only done in the Surf Coast trail half marathon last year. It was perfect. The weather was warm-ish with blue skies but enough cloud to not be burnt to a crisp. The start of the trail went uphill (which I had completely forgotten) which was the perfect way to clear everything else from my mind – all I cared about was getting up that hill. The views from the top of the cliffs were spectacular and running down the other side towards the beach was bliss. I even enjoyed running along the beach today, lost in my thoughts and feeling very contemplative. It was definitely with a degree of reluctance that I turned around – I pondered whether I should just keep running but thought, in the mood I was in, that I might not stop and then where would I be? So I smiled as I let the waves eat my feet then headed back towards my car. In the last few hundred metres, I had to sprint and weave as I was being chased by some very protective duck parents, having clearly gotten too close to their babies. It made me giggle and was the perfect conclusion to my run.

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Weekly summary:

Thursday: 5km (45:58)

Saturday: 5km (37:20)

Sunday: 8km (1:16:47)

Dopey training – week 16

First week back of term is not really the ideal week for training to go up to another level but it is what it is and there’s not much I can do about it. So I just got on with what the training plan told me. Be ready for a long post – it was a loooooong training week.

On Tuesday, I set my alarm for 5.45am, got up and ran around my neighbourhood. I am not at all an early morning runner, as much as I’d like to be. The thing that got me up was knowing husband and I had movie tickets that night that would give me no chance to run after work so it was early or not at all. So early it was. I’m pleased to say I actually enjoyed it. Now that it’s getting light earlier, I didn’t need my head torch and was treated to the soft, welcoming colours of dawn as the neighbourhood woke up. And I got to bask in that ‘I’ve already done my run’ kind of feeling all day. Tick.

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Tuesday night, husband and I did go to the movies but not ordinary movies – it was the Run Nation Film Festival in Melbourne and we had won tickets thanks to a parkrun competition. I think it deserves a blog post of its own but, in summary, it was brilliant. The films chosen were a perfect mix and provided exactly the inspiration I needed this week.

Thursday afternoon ended up being a hill day as my friend and I headed out to the You Yangs for our regular trek up the Saddle. I’d been getting a bit paranoid about my leg which had been doing what it does – flare up for no reason when I have an event coming up. However it was perfectly ok after the hills so which reassured me that it was all in my head.

Saturday called for 11km which meant parkrun plus some extra. We were going to Bannockburn Bush parkrun launch so we went out early and ran the course (and a bit) before the others got there. It was actually really, really lovely. It’s a very peaceful place and the fog added to the atmosphere. We took it easy, aiming for a pace that would keep us a bit ahead of the balloon ladies and achieved this without a problem. Completing parkrun afterwards was also very low stress and I had no soreness at the end as we tucked into breakfast. I did take it easy for the rest of Saturday – not sore, just a bit tired and knew we had an early morning this morning.

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Today was our long run – 27km on the training plan which suited us as we’d signed up for the Melbourne half marathon. We arrived early, dropped off our bags and then set off on some laps around the MCG to add on some extra kilometres. I think the people arriving for their events thought we were possibly a little insane but it was actually quite enjoyable. We then joined everyone else at the start line and were off, leaving our Garmins running to track our longest long runs yet.

I ran with a friend for quite a while and really, really appreciated having her there – I am sure I wouldn’t have had as much ‘run’ in me without her. It’s funny how, even without pushing you or telling you you have to, having someone there makes you instantly more accountable. You don’t want to let them down. And so it was today which was exactly what I needed.

The first part of the run went off pretty well and the kilometres flew. It certainly helped that we were surrounded by people all buzzing with event excitement and had glorious blue skies. Albert Park lake, the site last year of wind and bugs, was stunning today and my regular check-ins with my body confirmed that nothing was hurting. The only thing that was starting to get to me was that I was tired but that’s to be expected – a big part of this training plan is learning to run on tired legs.

Once we were back on St Kilda Road and felt like we were on the home stretch, I found it harder to keep up the intervals and set my friend free – time to knuckle down and just get on with our own journeys. My mantra today was ‘This is hard, yes but not impossible’ and that was enough to keep me going.

Clearly the fatigue and endorphins combined to leave me prone to random tearing up – cheers on the course from a parent of one of my students (who was running the marathon) made me teary as did hearing the cheers in the final stretch. I took a big gulp and entered the MCG. Last year, I remember finding I had to dig deep to keep running as I had run a PB and had nothing left. This year was very different – I was certainly tired but my legs and lungs were still well and truly strong enough to get me there.

However crossing the line wasn’t enough – I still had another 1.5km to go to reach my training plan distance so I got my medal, headed up the steps and found another friend who kindly offered to collect and carry my bag and do a couple of laps of the MCG with me to finish. 27km – done.

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48.7km run this week – my biggest training week ever. Will see how I am tomorrow but, for tonight, I feel great.

Weekly summary:

Tuesday: 5.6km (47:12)

Thursday: 5km (51:30)

Saturday: 11.1km (1:46:15)

Sunday: 27km (4:08:56)

Dopey training – week 15

We’ve ticked over the halfway point in marathon training now so, in out and back terms, we’re on our way home. Except that the return leg of this journey is longer and subject to more freak outs than the first. Between now and marathon day, there will be a whole heap of ‘furthest distances ever’ and I’m firmly pushing them from my mind and just concentrating on the week of training ahead.

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This week was a low mileage week after last week’s mega effort. I didn’t end up running on Tuesday so pushed it out to Wednesday instead, heading out to my favourite trail and making the most of the beautiful day. I hadn’t realised how fatigued I was until I started running and it was like there was no fuel in the tank. Even the first kilometre felt impossible. I consoled myself with the fact that I was bound to feel tired after the weekend and just to take it easy. Any pace faster than the virtual balloon ladies is ok.

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Friday was a better run – I was looking for somewhere different and went to Anakie Gorge which I’ve walked before but never run. It was the perfect trail and exactly what I needed. It has a few vague inclines but nothing too taxing, a mix of scenery and enough variety to the trail surface to make you work a bit.

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Saturday was another parkrun launch, this time at Portarlington and was a relatively easy 5km with my favourite running people. It was our last ‘short’ long run of the training plan which isn’t a bad thing – it’s always felt kind of wrong to not be running further than 5km on a weekend. In fact, I nearly went out for a run today to celebrate (commiserate?) the last day of school holidays but decided to do some gardening instead. Next week – Melbourne half marathon (plus warm up and cool down to stretch it out to 27km)!

Weekly summary:

Wednesday: 5km (45:10)

Friday: 5.9km (55:28)

Saturday: 5km (40:02)