View from the Finish Chute

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WAMC Club Rooms, Burswood, WA.

Yesterday evening I went to my first race event of 2015, not as a runner, but as a volunteer. Taking out family membership of the West Australian Marathon Club (WAMC) in Spring 2014, several months before we left Kuala Lumpur, smacked of good intentions but in reality setting up a new life got in the way of actually participating in any (bar one, on my own) event. I rejoined without the family for 2015 and one of the conditions of membership was volunteering for at least two club race events this year. The Burswood 5km Twilight Run seemed like a good option as it was an evening race and only 25 minutes from home at the WAMC’s club rooms.

It was nice to ‘rock up’ – that’s Australian for turn up by the way – without the usual pre-race nerves. Just the other kind of ‘I hope I don’t mess up’ nerves. Collecting money from non-registered non-member entrants was easy – there were only 16. My other job was to call out the number of each runner as they crossed the finish line and indicate if they were female. My fellow volunteer – now my Facebook friend who I plan to meet at a race next weekend – did a great job of noting down the numbers on the results list.

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And they’re off! The start of the Burswood Twilight 5km Race.

I think race finish lines must be some of the happiest places on earth, even if happiness comes in the form of tears of relief and vomiting. For the record there was no actual puking last night, but one lady was on the verge of retching. The majority of runners – there were 173 – wore WAMC club bibs which are made of fabric and pinned on the front of the torso. They are the kind of bibs that, if only pinned on with two pins, blow in the wind or fold over. I had to ask a few men to unfurl their low hanging bibs as I didn’t want to touch their bits. Thankfully I didn’t declare any men as females nor vica versa even though there were a couple of people, including kids, whose gender wasn’t clear until I got a close-up in the chute. It’s a short hair thing. Age-wise, runners ranged from around 6 or 7 to upper-80s. Most of the kids ran faster than I would have. Sigh.

Pencil at the ready....
Pencil at the ready….
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The finisher chute wasn’t empty for long.

All in all it was a lot of fun to greet finishers, and congratulate them on a job well done. It was also a real eye-opener into how fast runners are here.

Last night’s winner was Gerard Hill with a time of 16:21 in hot windy conditions. That’s 3:16 minutes per kilometre. The fastest lady, 22-year-old Hannah Castle, took a mere 18:41 minutes to complete the 5km (3:44 minute kilometres). I don’t think I could move that fast on a bike! Speaking of wheels, the fourth man across the line ran 17:06 – pushing a large toddler in a stroller. These elite runners made running look effortless. The winner popped over the line looking as if he’d been for an easy jog. Really, every person who ran last night was a winner, though only the top 3 finishers of each gender got medals. Even the lady who, on finishing, declared her run a personal worst was a winner in my eyes. At least she went out there and made an effort, which is more than most people (including me) did on a sunny Sunday evening.

So, it has only taken six months, but finally I think I’m doing as planned – using running to meet people. And last night, I didn’t even have to get all worked up with worry over running. I might be on to something…

Race results:

WAMC Burswood Twilight 5km

Sun going down over the Swan River at the WAMC rooms in Burswood.
Sun going down over the Swan River at the WAMC rooms in Burswood.

Happy New Year

IMG_0838I spent 279 hours running in 2014. That is 279 hours of free therapy, meditation and physical exercise combined with friendship, competition, toe-nail loss, and some sunburn on the bits I couldn’t reach. Even counting the miserable hour limping to the finish of Borneo International Marathon, and the few training runs that were frustrating and painful, I don’t regret a single moment of the 2250km I covered. I ran in the dark in Malaysian smog with inspirational, supportive women, and interrupted Catherine Ndereba, the Marathon Queen’s dinner. She was eating pasta in case you wondered. I got injured (ITBS) because of my weak butt, sought treatment from physiotherapists on three continents, and became reasonably accomplished at the single leg squat. I ran 10km in 48 mins, discovered a love of running skirts, and completed the Angkor Wat Half Marathon without stopping to use the bathroom. I know, I was quite the overachiever in 2014! I reluctantly left the friendliest running community in the world to move to Australia where no one knew that I’d appeared in Expatriate Lifestyle Malaysia, not once, but twice. In running gear of course, before anyone thinks I got photographed at some glamorous social event. I completed the running leg of two Half Ironman’s in furnace-like conditions and came to the same conclusion each time – ice cubes stashed in one’s bra are essential for hydration, triathletes are awesome and crazy, and I secretly wish I was one. With that in mind, I bought a racing bike but haven’t saddled up since I test drove it outside the shop in May. If I was going to mention goals for 2015, I might segue off there but I won’t as swimming is a major challenge, and these days I spend a disproportionate amount of time running by the beach, watching out for sharks in the sea. I have been in the water precisely once. Speaking of wildlife, I discovered the Australian magpies can be not only unfriendly but violently confrontational. Thankfully, Australian people are far more welcoming and better behaved. A lot of them run but it seems that even more of them cycle; swarms of lycra-clad pedal-pushers appear on the roads every Saturday and Sunday, and I’ve heard rumours that the real die-hards are out on weekdays too. I discovered parkrun which is a fabulous community of runners who gather every Saturday morning to run 5km with barcodes in their pockets. It’s organised by volunteers, one of whom is always a photographer, which is a massive relief because having grown used to the paparazzi at races in KL, I was getting seriously worried that I’d never ever be tagged in a running photo again! Finally, if there is a singular running achievement worthy of mention, it must be the fact that I did not fall flat on my face, wrists, elbows or knees once in 2014. That’s an improvement of 300% over 2013. You can’t ask for better than that.

So cheers runners – and walkers who don’t yet know they are runners – thank you for accompanying me on some of my kilometres this year, either in person or via the power of the Internet. Here’s to moving forward, and continuing to put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

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Race report: Angkor Wat Half Marathon 2014

AngkorWat3At the start line of this year’s Angkor Wat Half Marathon, rather than worrying about the 21.1km ahead, my mind was preoccupied with the issue of gender inequality. Lofty thoughts however they were not. I was eyeing the back of a runner, a male runner, who was peeing against a tree. Not fair! I needed the loo too, despite having just been to the portaloo, but with only minutes to go to the starting gun, I wasn’t going to risk missing the start of the race. Been there, done that! While I was feeling hard done by, other runners were climbing a mound of rocks to view Angkor Wat temple in all its sunrising glory. There can’t be many start lines to match this one but as ever my mind was (wishing I was) in the toilet.

The outfit. During the first km I saw a woman wearing the same skirt.
The outfit. During the first km I saw a woman wearing the same skirt.

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Blinking bladder aside, the race went very well. I got stuck behind a thousand runners at the start, but managed to weave through so that by the second kilometre I was doing a comfortable pace. I wasn’t going to risk ruining the race by racing; this was my chance to exorcise the misery of the previous year and savour the delight of running in such a special, and thankfully flat, place. Unfortunately after much mithering, I had opted not to take along my phone to take photos as I was already carrying a fuel belt. I sort of hoped I’d meet lots of people who’d take pictures and share them but that didn’t happen so here I am writing about running in a beautiful, special place with little photographic evidence. The photos I do have are from a family trip back in December 2012.

As usual, crowds of locals cheered on runners. I high fived as many kids as I could. My eight-year-old’s index finger spends a lot of time tucked into his right nostril but I put thoughts of hygiene aside; these kids probably had better manner’s than mine anyhow. Water stations provided small water bottles which is a waste really as most runners ditched the bottles after only a few sips. The volunteers were excellent at opening the caps and handing the bottles over and there was no issue of crowding at water stops as the route is wide and the runners were well spread out after a few kilometres. Kids collected the bottles for recycling all along the route so at least someone was benefiting from the excess of plastic.

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Typical road along the route. My socks turned orange from the dust.

I didn’t stop. I counted my steps to distract me from negative thoughts and worries. I barely looked at my watch. And until about 17km, all was going really well. I dared to think that I was actually enjoying myself. Then I started to feel a bit whoozy, a bit like motion sickness, a too familiar feeling from previous half marathon races. At least this time, the race was almost done when discomfort hit. I kept going, a little slower, but determined that I wasn’t going ruin yet another race. I can see from the official race photos that I must have been hurting by the end as my head is hanging and I’m staring at the ground, willing one foot in front of the other. At this stage, the 21.1km runners had merged with the 10km runners/walkers so more and more supporters – friends, family and fellow runners – stood along the verge, cheering people on. I seriously could have given one particular cheering American lady a big hug for telling me I was ‘awesome’  – I felt like sh*t – but that would have meant stopping and that wasn’t an option if I wanted to finish. Around the same time, I spotted monkeys hanging out of a tree. After all my years in Asia, monkeys are still a novelty and they served as a timely reminder that for an Irish ‘girl’ who discovered running mid-life, running around 12th century temples in Cambodia is a freakin’ amazing experience even with a nauseous stomach and heavy legs. Such thoughts got me to the end.

The south gate of Angkor Thom at the 19km mark.
The south gate of Angkor Thom at the 19km mark.

And I finished, happy for once. It was the fastest half marathon I had run but more than anything I was relieved that I hadn’t had a miserable race experience, only one that got mildly miserable near the end. When the official race results came out, my chip time was 1:50:59, a few seconds under what I had on my Garmin. I cared but I didn’t. I’d done such a good job of telling myself that my time didn’t matter that I had come to really believe it. I never run my fastest on race days but at least on this race day I had managed to run faster than on others without totally losing the gut plot (as I did last year at Angkor Wat and back in May at Borneo International Marathon.) I think the problem is low fuel and hydration which next time I will try remedy with a second gel at 14km.

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I’m still injured of course. My ITB hurt from 9km but I could run. It hurt a hellava lot more once I crossed the finish line. I was limping for the rest of the day. But it was worth it because for the first time in 7 half marathons, I didn’t wish I was somewhere – anywhere! – else. You could say that I took the endure out of endurance. The phrase ‘never again’ did not even enter my mind; that certainly was a first!

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Finisher medals from 2013 and 2014.

As for the bladder? Well I showed it who was boss. After bargaining with it that I would stop behind a tree – as I saw numerous men do along the route – it gave up nagging at about 10km. In fact it went into a coma and didn’t bother me for another six hours. If I ever run in Cambodia again – it really is a long trip from Perth but this year it was certainly worth it – I’ll make the effort to climb up and gaze at Angkor Wat as the sun rises. I might even take my phone along to take photos. For the record, I don’t really have any desire to be a man, though on my arrival in Cambodia, my wish was momentarily granted.

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For a  Buddhist country, the Cambodians certainly make a massive effort for Christmas. The decorations in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation, were also amazing. (I stopped of in KL on my way to and from Siem Reap).
For a Buddhist country, the Cambodians certainly make a massive effort for Christmas. The decorations in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation, were also amazing. (I stopped of in KL on my way to and from Siem Reap).

My new race recipe

A 2012 trip to Angkor Wat.
A 2012 trip to Angkor Wat.

Given my enthusiasm for registering for races, I’m a pretty lousy racer. Every single time I have crossed a finish line, I have complained about at least one (but usually two or three) of the following:

  • I got a stitch.
  • I had shin splints for the first 5 km.
  • I felt like vomiting for half the race though I was barely jogging.
  • I needed the loo for the entire race.
  • I used the loo during the race.
  • I ran out of fuel.
  • My back/leg/foot hurt.
  • It was too bloody hot.

After Angkor Wat Half Marathon last December, I crossed the finish line shivering from low blood sugar, complaining about every single one of the above. Which is of course why I’m travelling all the way back to Angkor Wat this weekend, via Malaysia, to try again. I need to exorcise the ghost of Dec 2013 by which I mean make it through the 21.1km without a dash to the loo.

Peninsula2014Lately, I had given up on running a decent race, you know one that reflected my training, and not my sensitive gut, performance anxiety, tight calves, inflamed ITB, pissy posterior tibialias, and the dodgy caps on my fuel bottles. Then when I least expected it, it finally happened. At the Western Australia Marathon Club (WAMC)’s 10km Peninsula Run last sunday, I crossed the finish line not only happy but astounded. I could not think of a single thing to complain about. I had run strong and consistently without a stitch, nausea or shin splint, faster than I had ever run before (48:28 according to Strava) – faster than I had ever thought that I could. Unfortunately there was no one I knew there as I crossed the line to witness this miracle so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Besides the obvious fact that a 10km distance is probably a much better distance for me (and my still tender ITB) than 21.1km, I thought about what I had done this time to see if I could possibly replicate it.

My race recipe:

  • I ate steak and drank three glasses of champagne the night before. I doubt this is in the elite handbook.
  • I slept terribly. Nothing new there.
  • I got up at 5AM (it was already bright which made it easier than those dark early starts in KL).
  • I ate a toasted English muffin with butter and jam two hours before the race. No more pre-race oatmeal. I think that may have been last year’s big mistake.
  • I ran 1km slowly then stretched before the race. I reckon this was a big factor in avoiding shin splint pain for the first half or the race.
  • I did not look at my pace while I ran but focussed on my cadence and form whilst doing short sprints to pass people all along the route. At the rate my eyesight is deteriorating, looking at my watch and actually seeing numbers will not be an option for much longer anyway.
  • I didn’t stop at the water stations as I was carrying enough in a handheld bottle. I know that if I had slowed or stopped I wouldn’t have been able to resume my running ryhthm.
  • I ate three jellybeans during the race as I’d run out of GU chews.
  • I spent 48 minutes thinking ‘I’m so glad that this is only 10km. I couldn’t run a further 11.1km’.

This unexpected PB that has given me a little morale boost after about six months of rehabilitation and self-doubt. In a way, I feel that it gives me license to relax a bit (yeah like pass the personality transplant!) and try and enjoy this year’s Angkor Wat Half Marathon.

My WAMC bib finally got an airing.
My WAMC bib finally got an airing.

The champagne and steak maybe hard to come by in Siem Reap, and the toasted English muffin at some godawful hour may also be unattainable, but I will attempt to warm up and stretch, have jellybeans and working fuel caps at the ready, and not look at my watch as I run. In addition to my multi-excuses last year, the fact that I didn’t make it to the start line in time for the starter gun as the race started 5 minutes early was a bit of a bummer, especially having travelled all the way from Malaysia and making it as far as the portaloo queue with time to spare, or so I thought. The race is starting 20 minutes earlier this year, presumably to allow runners to fall over each other in the dark before watching the sun rise over the temple at the end of their first kilometre. (Yes I’m that anal that I’ve checked the sunrise time for Sunday. Normal, right?). The bonus will be that there are so many people I know travelling from KL for the race that there will be plenty of familiar faces at the finish line. Feel free to start placing bets on which complaint I spout first – I’m thinking it will be: ‘I’m going to stick to 10km races in future’. Let’s see.

The Art of Finishing

I’m getting lazy. Not about running but about blogging. I half wrote a post about the Mandurah Half Ironman which I ran a few weeks back but I didn’t finish it. The blog post, not the race. I finished the race, despite the heat which matched that of the other Half Ironman run I did in Putrajaya back in April. It was a freakishly hot day, and only the second day during which I can honestly say that I have felt warm since moving to Perth.

IMG_8241I’ve never been a good finisher which is possibly one of the reasons why I like racing – it forces me to finish something that I usually regret starting. Crossing the finish line is like waving a magic wand – ‘what was I thinking?’ and ‘OMG I can’t run another step. I want to stop!’ transforms into ‘Wow. I did it. I feel fantastic!’. And so it was at Mandurah. I spent 1hr 54 minutes thinking ‘This is crazy! How do people swim, bike and run without dying?!’ but once I crossed the line, and limped, medal in hand, with my outraged ITB screaming at me, to meet my husband and kids, I felt euphoric. I hadn’t done a personal best but I had finished! I don’t think the power of finishing a race will ever diminish, even though I rarely perform as well as I’d like. I’ve decided I won’t die disappointed if I don’t break the 1:50 Half Marathon barrier but I will keep trying.

As I often have things to say about running but I don’t always have the time to finish blog posts, I’ve set up a Facebook page to which I can post shorter snippets, as well as links to running articles and information about running events. It will also allow people to comment on Facebook and the comments will appear here on the blog. I’m still very disconnected from the running community in Perth but instead of just pining for my running buddies back in KL, I’m hoping that this new page will allow me to connect to new runners as well as old, until I figure out how to get my butt to a gathering of real runners as opposed to the virtual kind.

Please like The Expat Runner Facebook page 🙂

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Shadows & Wind

I have blogged much lately because I’ve been writing. And running. I’m almost back to my pre-ITBS mileage and hopefully next weekend will race 21.1km as part of the Ironman 70.3 Mandurah competition. Hopefully I say, as I’ve got some worrying shin pain today but come on, I can’t be that unlucky can I? I’ve learned quite a bit about running in Perth over the past few weeks while avoiding further magpie attacks but sticking to the same tried and tested route inhabited by non-violent birds. I’ll admit I’m twitchier that ever so that every shadow that crosses my path, even if it’s only a butterfly, makes me jump. I’m one step short of being afraid of my own shadow. It may be time to cut back on the coffee. Besides, the dangers of wildlife, the other thing no one mentioned when they told me ‘Oh you’ll love running in Perth’ is that it’s damn windy here. It’s so windy that I think if I wore this anti-magpie cap on my head I’d take off like a helicopter. 41blwh4qNWL Wearing a skirt running makes me feel as graceful as a galleon. If hills are speed work in disguise then so is running against the wind. Then you run with the wind and imagine how it must feel to be a fast runner; it’s performance enhancing but not in the disappointing way of Rita Jeptoo! Let’s hope her dope test failure is not the thin edge of an elite wedge. Besides running, and writing a novel set in Ireland, I’ve been expanding my horizons (in the car which protects me from angry birds). In the search for a new leotard for my daughter’s gymnastics competition, I discovered a brothel across the street (which is illegal here). Perth’s Best Brothel according to its website. The giveaway was the neon sign that said: ‘New Girls’. One wonders if such signs can be bought off the shelf or if this was a special order. I wondered other things too but I’ll keep those to myself.

Magpie Menace

pd_the_birds_movie_nt_111228_mainAfter almost two months back on the road, I’ve been enjoying the change of environment. While I miss the running community and the races in Malaysia, I’ve adjusted well to the fresh air, running tracks and free water refill stations. Sorry KL friends if I’m making you a tad jealous. I’ve also got used to not looking over my shoulder constantly, on the look-out for muggers on motorbikes. I rarely see a motorbike and have yet to hear of a mugging. Pedal power dominates the two-wheel transport scene and I’d imagine that it’s quite hard to mug someone while balancing on a bike, unless it’s a tandem with an accomplice.

That said, yesterday I was viciously attacked while running – by a testoserone-fuelled magpie. I remember noticing the bird out of the corner of my eye, before it swerved up in the air – away from me I presumed. I could see its shadow and was stunned when that shadow, rather than move away, headed straight for my head. The damn bird swooped down and pecked my hat. Talk about a true WTF moment! Thankfully, I was wearing a cap. If 2XU ever needs a spokeswoman for their Magpie-proof peaked caps, I’m their woman. I tried to dodge the menace, but it continued to dive-bomb at my head, stabbing me with its beak. The fact that I could see its shadow heading for me each time totally freaked me out. Luckily, the psycho bird which chased me across a four-lane road and back again, much to the bemusement I’d imagine of passing traffic, did not aim for my bare shoulders or my ears. At one point I stopped moving, and the bird just sat on a telephone line looking all innocent. I should point out that this was a suburban residential street and if there was a nest I certainly didn’t hang around long enough to see it.

Anyway, as soon as I moved again, swoop and attack, over and over! This was one vicious bird! I eventually outran the feathered fiend  – or at least ran out of the territory it was trying to protect. The whole incident lasted just over a minute but left me feeling somewhat rattled. I ran the 6km back to my car which incidentally I’d noticed when parking, was under a tree full of magpie nests. Thankfully this flock hadn’t eaten their crazy worms that morning.

Of course, the only thing to do after a traumatic incident such as this, at least when it’s too early to turn to drink, is to turn to Google. It turns out that not only was I not the first victim of magpie assault in Australia, but that magpie attacks are a THING, a big enough thing to merit a WikiHow page entitled HOW TO KEEP SAFE FROM SWOOPING AUSTRALIAN MAGPIES. Apparently, Ozzy magpies are notorious for swooping attacks on runners and cyclists at this time of year which is nesting season. Notorious! Strangely though, no one has mentioned it.

IMG_7893So what should I have done yesterday instead of flailing about, panicked by this unprovoked nasty attack? Well besides avoiding that stretch of road, I should have slowed to a walk, and calmly looked the bird in the eye whilst walking backwards. Yes, right, of course. I am genetically incapable of remaining calm in the face of wildlife, so that’s never going to happen. WikiHow recommends carrying an umbrella while walking or running so that it can be deployed as a head protector should a magpie swoop. For cyclists, the recommended protection is a helmet adorned with plastic cable ties when cycling. It doesn’t mention how to protect one’s dignity whilst wearing such headgear but then again, there was nothing remotely dignified about my panic dance yesterday, so it’s probably worth it. You can imagine the danger of falling off a bike or swerving into traffic if a magpie swooped.

Interestingly, WikiHow warns that I should ‘not return to the area after the encounter’ as magpies are so smart that the bird will remember me and attack me again. So yes, it was as personal as it felt! Apparently, even looking like me may be enough to trigger the magpie’s ire.

Interactie map of Perth on MagpieAlert.com.
Interactie map of Perth on MagpieAlert.com.

Back in KL, I remember people discussing the merits of a website on which people could map muggings, to help mark crime blackspots and alert people to be extra vigilant in affected areas. Well, MagpieAlert.com does exactly the same thing for magpie attacks. Yes, it’s that prevalent!

There’s also a Facebook page for the site on which a cyclist posted the clip below of a swooping magpie just like the one that attacked me.

So it looks like I’m back to running with one eye on the road (for snakes) and the other in the back of my head (for nasty birds). Oh my poor nerves!

Chevron City to Surf 2014

I knew that running in Perth would be different than in Kuala Lumpur but when I went to put on my running shoes yesterday for the Chevron City to Surf event, I realised just how different. I had to warm the shoes with a hairdryer as they had been outside all night and felt too damp and cold for my still tropical feet. It was nice not to have to get up pre-dawn as the race started at the very civilised hour of 9:05. Not so nice was the discovery that the possum that had been squatting in our roof space had found an alternative to the entrance we’d had blocked up and was doing its morning yoga over our heads as we headed out the door. The spider – biggest I’ve ever seen outside a zoo – on the gatepost of our back gate got very upset as we disturbed its morning lie in. Thankfully, once we made it out onto the street, and left the wildlife behind, everything went smoothly.

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Half Marathon runners line up to start the Chevron City to Surf race. The 12km race started on the right hand side of the barrier afterwards. All very well organised!

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The Chevron City to Surf event which had almost 50,000 registered entrants in a Marathon, Half Marathon, 12km Run and Walk, and 4km Run and Walk, was as well organised as expected. The trains into town were free for race bib wearers. There were plenty of portaloos near the start, and signs directed participants to their correct assembly points. Despite the the fact that there were over 11,000 doing the 12km run, we found several of our friends from KL both at the start and finish lines, so the sense of camaraderie we had in KL wasn’t missing yesterday. It was great! (For the record, I saw no selfie-taking or twitter feed updating on the course but the route was tightly packed with runners so there was a lot I couldn’t see).

The start line wasn’t quite as chilly as I expected thanks to the warm bodies radiating heat all around us. The 12km event was divided up into four start waves which was a smart way of avoiding chaos! The atmosphere was relaxed and pleasant, and the race started on time. This is a real community event attracting non-runners, families and people who like to wear costumes. My favourite was the guy in the hind legs of a horse, holding the head and fore legs in his hands. Running 12km in that can’t have been easy!  

The race went well, the route was lovely though a bit more undulating than my ITB rehab would strictly allow. Though it hurt from about 6km, my ITB didn’t get sharply sore until the last 1 km, probably because of the hills at the end and fatigue of course. My tendon is a bit annoyed with me today too, but I’m hoping that another day and it will have forgiven me my race folly.

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There were lots of booths with food and drinks at the finishing site in City Beach but thanks to a text telling me that my daughter had gone AWOL during the 12km walk, I couldn’t tell you much about it. I had to return to the finish line to find her. Her excuse for running off, despite having emphatically been told to stick with the adult under whose care she started, was that she wanted to impress me. Well once my anger had died down she certainly succeeded in doing that. With no training whatsoever she ran 12km in 80 mins (I did 62). I had been worried that she mightn’t have been able for the 12km walk so the fact that she ran it faster than half the adults who signed up to run, is astounding. We ruined her imagined finish line triumph mind you as we were so upset with the fact that she’d left her group, worried and concerned for her welfare, but as she feels the tug of her overworked muscles and tendons today, I bet she’s already dreaming of her next race. She’s 11. I was 41 when I crossed my first finish line. I’ve a feeling her trajectory as a runner is going to be very different. I’m trying not to be jealous.

The spider was still at the gate when we got back but the possum had presumably gone out for his Sunday walk. Maybe I’ll turn the hairdryer thing into a ritual, blowing away any critters stupid enough to enter my Brooks and get cosy. Or maybe it’s time to take the running shoes inside. Either way, I just glad to be able to wear them again and hope to participate in many Australian races in future. The fact that it sometimes might be Expat Runner & Daughter has come a something of a surprise!

 CHEVRON CITY TO SURF 2014 RESULTS

One of our 'furry' friends.
One of our ‘furry’ friends.

 

Doing the Pelvic Tilt

 

injury graphOn tuesday, I ran 12km. It was the furthest I had run in three months. I should have been elated. In just over two weeks I’d moved ‘the maximum distance without much pain’ mark from 5km to 12km. Yet, rather than elation I felt frustration. I’m in the danger zone, the place where the mind starts to get greedy and ambitious, as the legs start to return to some semblance of form. Strangely, when I wasn’t running at all, I was more accepting of my injury. Now I just want it to be gone, and to get back to the level I’d worked up to in May. Having had a taste of running, I want to run full throttle. I’ve started to look longingly at the training plan my coach in KL drew up before I left. I’ve reprinted it, and stared at it several times as if some form of osmosis was going to make me run faster and longer. That’s the training plan that was designed to get me to a PB in the Chevron City to Surf Half Marathon this coming Sunday for which I registered on May 1, just before my ITB decided it had had enough and was off for a summer vacation.

Well I’m months away from being able to adhere to such a plan but I think I may not have lost the chance to do the City to Surf event altogether. I changed my registration to the 12km race over a month ago, not really expecting to be able to participate. And even as I set off on my pre-physio run on Tuesday, I was certain that I wasn’t going to go to the start line in Perth city centre on Sunday. But then, my legs let me go, and I made it to 12, though 13 would have been impossible as my leg had started to hurt after over an hour on the road. I can only make it to 12 by concentrating very hard on fixing the anterior tilt of my pelvis which was most likely at the root of my ITB injury.

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My husband is running on Sunday too, though yesterday he discovered that I’d registered him as a woman, so maybe he’ll get disqualified before he gets to the start line. Oops. My 11-year-old daughter is walking 12km with a friend. Billed as the largest running event in the southern hemisphere, I’m curious to see what an Australian event is like. I’ve never been at a race outside Asia and I’ve a lot of questions that need answering.

For example, will I turn blue at the start line or should I dress warmly and discard old clothes en route? The forecast is for rain so I may be wet and blue before I start. Will I need to take a drink or energy chews – I ran Tuesday with neither – but having never mastered the fuel issue in Tropical climes, I now need to address it here. Do Australians stop to take selfies and update their Facebook statuses only minutes after starting the race?  Will there be long lines for the portaloos? Will I actually make it to the start line? More importantly, will I make it to the finish line?

Hopefully by Monday I’ll have answers to some of these questions, if not all. I will not be racing, no matter how eager my brain may be to do so. My legs (and my lungs) simply aren’t ready. I will try running though, whilst doing a pelvic tilt that hopefully looks less weird than it feels!

First Post from Perth

Right. It’s been a while. Had a few things to do you know with the whole setting up a new life all over again thing. I wonder if there’s any chance of a consultancy post in witness protection for the FBI. I’m really getting rather good at this setting up a new life lark, bureaucratically speaking at least. My other career option at the moment is as an extra for ‘Home & Away’. I now live near a beach and there are always, always surfers doing their thang in the water – and undressing beachside. I’ve been practising walking past over and over looking disinterested and I think I’m ready for camera.

Career progression aside, a month after our arrival in Perth, our lives have taken on some degree of ‘normalcy’. That is if you consider having to weave around a maze of cardboard boxes to get from the kitchen to the bathroom to be normal.

Cottesloe Beach - 1.5km from my door and I get to run here
Cottesloe Beach – 1.5km from my latest door. Sorry no half naked surfer dudes in this shot 😦

The kids are happy at school. I’ve got a new address, a bank account, a phone, a car, a SATNAV (very important!) and of course, I’ve resumed my duties as personal driver to three children. My soccer-obsessed son was welcomed into a local club despite the season being almost finished, and daughter no. 2 is thrilled to have joined a great gymnastics club with lots of cool equipment. She has committed to 5.5 hours of training – and an extra 3 hours driving for me – per week. If only I got paid for mileage. Unfortunately, I’m paying for the mileage and it will take a long time to adjust to the price of petrol here compared to Malaysia. OMG!

Even nearer than the beach, I have the river. Nice :)
Even closer than the beach, the river. Nice 🙂

IMG_7446Speaking of mileage, this summer (and now winter as I’m in the Southern Hemisphere where winter seems disconcertingly like a great Irish summer but with surfers) was definitely the season of a lot of Expat and virtually no Runner for The Expat Runner. But now I think I’ve finally, with the help of a new Australian physio, and a three-pronged approach to Rehab (more on that another day), started to improve my ITBS. Sunday, I ran 5km for the first time in 10 weeks. Two weeks ago, I could barely manage 1.8km before excruciating pain forced me to stop. The cure has involved a lot of Elvis-inspired pelvic thrusting, frequent application of anti-inflammatory gel and, counter to the advice I received in Ireland, running (on alternate days only). I’m a long way from better but I’m on track for a return to racing. For now, I’m grateful for a return to running, even if it’s only 5km. In the meantime, a slower pace along the beach has its perks. Surf’s up mate, or whatever these lovely Ozzies say.