Perth Marathon 2016

There’s so much I want to say about Perth Marathon but travel and jetlag have delayed my race report a tad. The short version is that the race went so much better than I had hoped and turned out to be more enjoyable than most of the twelve half marathons I’ve run since October 2012. Crossing the line in 3:55:07  rendered me a sobbing mess in the arms of my husband and daughters who had managed the logistics of cheering me on, at various stages along the course, around a soccer match.

I learned a lot from this marathon, the biggest lesson being about pacing. And determination. At a certain point, around 34km, determination overcame fatigue, a headwind, and a sore ITB. I will write more in detail at some point in the future. In the meantime, here are some photos🏃🏻🏅😀

 

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.

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.

 

London-bound

I was telling the receptionist at my physio’s office a bit about our lives, packing up and moving around the world, and she said that she felt her shoulders stiffen with stress just talking to me. Not quite the effect I like to have on people. She was right though- packing up house, home and heart is stressful, probably more stressful than starting anew- or maybe I’m better at the arriving bit than I am at the leaving. Anyway, I love packing so so much, that I’m embarking today on a short trip to London with my daughters. We’re going to do tourist things and meet up with friends from Malaysia whom we haven’t seen in a whole three weeks!
The thing with packing in this part of the world is that the weather is so changeable and unpredictable. In one day you might a wool onesie, an umbrella, a rain coat, a sun hat, shorts and running shoes. I don’t have a wool onesie by the way though sometimes in the cool evenings I fantasize how cosy one might feel.
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Yesterday, after checking the London weather forecast, I made a strategic gamble to remove my well-folded trench coat from my suitcase and replace it with my foam roller. I may not be able to run around Hyde Park as anticipated at the time of booking a hotel- you guessed it- beside Hyde Park but I am going to keep rolling this damn ITB, yes I am. The running shoes are coming too but only for walking, honest. The thing about physio here is that it makes my leg too sore to allow any delusions about being recovered from injury. Physio makes me feel injured in fact. Let’s hope this strategy of paying for pain pays off. And let’s hope the weather forecast is right and I won’t need the trench coat.

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ITB Saga continues

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‘She’s chomping at the bit so she is,’ someone said yesterday. I wasn’t anywhere near a racecourse or stables but lying flat on a physiotherapy table. The ‘she’ in question was me; the inference being that I was dying to run again, raring to go as they say (on racecourses). I was near the end of my third physio session in a week and the student physio who had just spent an hour pummelling my ITB and glutes with his elbows was updating the senior physio on my progress. I thought I’d been very good about the whole ‘don’t run for ages thing’ but I guess it’s still obvious that I want to run. Immediately!

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I’ll rewind a bit. Last Monday, I walked the three-minute trip down the road to a physiotherapy clinic I had found online and got an appointment for that afternoon. I don’t know what I expected but I hadn’t really anticipated being told not to run for 6-8 weeks. What?! A week before, in the midst of moving and bidding farewell to friends, pets, and life as I’d known it for four years in KL, I’d cried over the idea of taking a few days off. To be fair, I cried about just about everything that week. But here in Kilkenny, I didn’t shed a tear or even try to appeal the jail sentence. For one thing, the ITB problem had been going on far too long so that even I, obsessive that I am, knew that running wasn’t helping me to get better. It was in fact making the injury worse. The other thing was that the physio’s offer to show me his scar from ITB surgery. Er surgery?! Yikes! OK, a few weeks off didn’t seem so bad after all, even if it did mean missing the half marathon in August and jettisoning all dreams of running in cooler weather, climbing up the Kilkenny Strava ladder. My choice of physio may have been haphazard but I was lucky to end up with someone who not only is a runner himself, but who has also had an ITB injury, though hopefully much more serious than my own.IMG_6540

Unlike in KL, the physios here are not averse to causing pain, and I’ve the bruising to prove it. The idea is to break down the scar tissue on the ITB and promote healing by sending blood to the area through deep tissue massage. There has been no mention of exercises yet though it has been agreed that foam rolling is a great idea. Everyone I mention ITBS to asks if I foam roll. Well I do. And I’ve started to do some body weight exercises on my core, upper body, abductors, and adductors, in the hope of not losing the little strength I had built up, and even perhaps building up some more for when I return to running.

Bruising
Physio-inflicted bruising on my thigh.

Initially I thought the timing terrible – to be injured when home, where I have no access to a bike (it has just arrive in Perth apparently) – but I’ve now committed to a routine of walking a 6km loop in the countryside everyday (see photos), and with the glorious summer weather we’re currently having, it’s impossible to feel sorry for myself. Sure, my cardio fitness is really suffering but I’ll just have to accept that. As long as my ass doesn’t go south, east and west too I’ll be fine.

Before I took up running I was a keen walker so it’s no hardship to return to it once more – temporarily – and enjoy the summer weather without breaking a sweat. The ITB feels sore from the physio but other than that, it’s impossible to know whether it’s healing or not. Any temptation to try run is quickly tempered by the thought of the scar on my physio’s knee, which I didn’t look at by the way. Sure, I’m chomping at the bit to get back out there, clocking up the miles again, but I know I need to be patient – or I might end up in the knacker’s yard! Or worse, be forced to become a cyclist!

 

A little bit back, a little bit forward

We’re in Ireland now, enjoying the cooler weather and eating our way through the tin of Cadbury’s Roses my mother has kept for us since Christmas.  I’ve tried running twice but a week’s break has done nothing to improve my ITB. Sigh.

When I left Oslo in 2010, I regretted not having taken photos of the walking loop I loved so much. My ITB injury, which allows me to walk but not run, offered me the opportunity last week to snap for posterity before we left, or at least until my iCloud implodes, images of the Mont Kiara loop. This was one of my regular KL running routes. Here’s a taster of the cracked pavements, traffic junctions, and urban chaos that I came to love so much:

 

I’m sure if I returned to Oslo today, I’d find my old walking loop unchanged except for an imperceptible heightening of the trees, lengthening of the branches. The Tanum area I loved so much is a development-free zone. The same cannot be said of KL. The cityscape there is constantly changing so I’m glad I managed to capture what was so familiar and make digital copies as a reminder.
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And of course, the trick to moving is to look forward, not back. Today, I’m looking forward to my first visit to see an Irish physiotherapist as a week’s break from running has offered no improvement to my ITB problem. I ran 2.4 km this morning – gloriously fast, thanks to the cool climate – but that was all my ITB would allow before stiffening. I’m also looking forward to the arrival of the foam roller I ordered online as it’s been five days since my Malaysian one was packed up.
Other than that, it seems I’d better start looking forward to doing more walking, as after five weeks, this ITB issue isn’t going to be easily resolved. Pass the chocolates.