Back on the Treadmill Again

Well, I didn’t get going on the day I wanted to, but I got there.  Treadmill run at lunch time today while working from home so that I could squeeze it all in.  Started the program with a bang – I’ve increased my paces for intervals by two levels in the Nike training plan which made for a pretty full on session today.

Tempo pace, which was my “easy” today has increased from 7:10 to 6:30min/km.  Fastest intervals were kilometre pace, which has increased from 6:15 to 5:35min/km.  I didn’t do this exact session last time around on this plan, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but intervals last time were always relatively easy.  I don’t think that’s going to be the case this time!

I have a couple of sessions to catch up on, but if I can squeeze one in every other day for the next week I will be all caught up.  Good things about my run today were my heart rate recovery between intervals was great dropping back under 120bpm every time and usually a lot less.  My cadence was also looking good with my fastest intervals jumping to about 170spm on average – so much better and I wasn’t even focussing on it.  I’m also looking forward to seeing the impact the faster interval sessions will have on my pace overall!

What’s Coming Up?

Confession time – I haven’t been for a run since the NOSH event.  We even just had a long weekend, which usually means a great opportunity to fit in two longer outdoor runs – this time, nothing.  I’m not injured, the kids aren’t sick, we didn’t have plans that stopped it from happening, I just didn’t want to.  So I didn’t.

But, that has to change.  It’s 14 weeks away from my first official half marathon event.  I’m going to give the same training plan another go and this time I’m going to stick to it and try not to make the same mistakes again.  I need to actually DO the simple strength training, stretching and foam rolling my body needs to keep running.

So other than a half marathon at the end of September, what else is lined up?  (Because with orienteering going on, there’s never just one event within a three month period!)  In three weeks is the annual Sydney Turkey Trot – a line course orienteering event usually taking in urban bushland, but this time up in the Blue Mountains.  Assuming we can get baby sitting lined up, we’ll be up for the medium course (approx 12km) again.  There’s a 6 hour rogaine in Canberra in mid-August that I’m trying to sort out too.  The in-laws are lined up to come down with us and look after the girls while we do the event and we can all hang out together the rest of the time and get to check out some of the fun things Canberra has to offer.

Hopefully we can get along to a few other smaller orienteering events in between these and, despite the half marathon being a road race, I’ve eyed off some local trails I haven’t been on yet to check out for some of my longer runs.  I need to get back on trails again – my mind doesn’t get the same refresh from the road runs that it does from an hour or two on the trails.

Now I just have to make sure I get back on the treadmill, starting tonight!

Asthma and Winter

After finding out last year that I have asthma, I followed my doctors instructions on managing it last winter.  Come spring, I  gradually weaned myself off the preventer until I was able to go drug free for over 6 months during the warmer weather.  With the first cold snap around Easter and a mild cold virus, symptoms kicked back in again and I started back on the preventer.  I was nearly through my script though, so it was time to go back to the doctor and get a plan together as to how I should properly be managing this, as I felt like I was making it up on the fly with no real guidance.

Since we moved house at the end of last year, I hadn’t needed to visit the local GP and find myself a new doctor.  So off I went, was told how damn healthy I was, but that I should get a spirometry test to check things out.  I was booked in for the following week and, following some reading on the internet, took myself off my preventer for the week prior.  Luckily things had settled down and nights weren’t nearly as cold, so it wasn’t too much of an issue.  Turns out I did the right thing, although I probably didn’t need to stay off it for quite so long.

The test itself was pretty simple.  Breath out into a tube as hard and for as long as you can.  It took a couple of goes to get the hang of it and then turned out 3 fairly similar results in a row.  That gave us a baseline.  Then it was two puffs of ventolin, wait 10 minutes and go again.  All done and dusted and I was booked in to get the results later the same afternoon.

My GP was happy with the results.  They showed that I do have asthma, but it is very well controlled and has likely not caused long term damage to my lungs at this point.  After the ventolin, my output increased by approximately 5%.  He helped me put together a bit more of a plan on how to manage things.  Two puffs on the preventor each morning during winter, adding in two puffs in the evening as well if I start to get any sort of cold/virus/respiratory infection.  Ventolin as needed if I start feeling like I can’t quite catch my breath.  Then, as spring starts, as long as I’m not needing to use the Ventolin I can start backing off on the preventor with the aim being to wean off it for the summer again.

Other things I found out is that I have excellent lung capacity at approximately 120% of the “normal” for my age/sex/ethnicity/height.  I also seem to be taller!  I’ve “always’ been 168cm, last year at the GP I was 169cm and this year I have reached 170cm.  When I mentioned this, they re-measured only to confirm that I may even be a bit over 170cm.  Both of these things I’m going to give the credit to running (well, ok and genetics, especially for lung capacity).  My posture has definitely improved since I started running and I stand taller and slouch less.

So management has started.  I have a healthy baseline from the spirometry testing which can be used for comparison in the future.  I am more confident in what I should do daily and how to manage any minor issues that crop up.  Fortunately, other than when I had swine flu a few years ago, I’ve never had a major asthma attack and hopefully with good management, I can keep it that way.

Best part – all the doctors I saw (three different ones) told me to keep up the running!

Lessons Learnt

Some big lessons, some reminders and some things I really should know better after last weekends trail race.

  • Don’t ignore your asthma, just because it’s seasonal, mild, whatever. You have it.  Carry a puffer. Don’t be slack with taking the preventer.
  • In preparing for a hilly trail race, run hills and trails in training. To be fair, I knew this  and had planned more hills and trails. Calf issues early in the year and achilles pain more recently had me pulling back on this and running mostly flat road runs. Which would have been great for a flat road half marathon. Not so much a lesson as a reminder that the way my training went meant that while I am fitter this year, I’m still not trained for the terrain. It did at least have me fit and able to run, rather than injured and having to sit it out completely, but I was never going to get my time goals training this way.
  • Strength training will help! Yes, of course I know this. But I’ve never had it thrown in my face quite so effectively 🙂 Those calf raises, squats and bridges my physio keeps telling me to do? I need to start doing them. I worked out a bit too late the perfect time to do my calf raises – while I wait for the train in the morning on my way to work. Every day from now on! Now to find the perfect time for the others.
  • Sort out fueling. My husband told me after the race that I need to start fueling earlier as I was getting snappy. I think my first thing was less than 40mins in though.  Personally I think I just don’t like people talking to me when I’m not in the mood for it as I often do runs over an hour without anything. But I do need to sort it out, I just didn’t prioritise it. Work out if trailwind, nuun, whatever, work for me and test them – preferably before I hit a trail with no nearby toilet stops!
  • Make sure I get out on the course a couple of times in training where possible. I had been on the first part several times in the past six months which made it a comfortable, known section. While this is our third year running the event, having a couple more outings on the latter parts would definitely help.

Plenty to work on for next year and I’m sure it will help with everything in between as well.  There were some things I did right as well though, so maybe they will make it for another post.  Next up, Sydney Turkey Trot on 2nd July!

Great Nosh Footrace 2017

The day started out overcast, but slightly warmer than the previous couple of weeks
had been in the morning. Big relief as it had been getting damn chilly in the mornings! I even had hopes that I wouldn’t need to wear a hat if the clouds could hang around. But the clouds cleared to a gorgeous sunny, cool morning – perfect weather for some time on the trails. Nick dropped our girls off to spend the morning with the grandparents then we headed off to the start. Easy pickup for our race bibs, a quick snack and join the queues for a last minute toilet stop.

Made our way down to the start about 15 mins before time, not many down yet and most people didn’t head down until right before start. It seemed a lot busier than last
year. Realised near the start that I had forgotten to take my asthma preventer this morning and didn’t have my ventolin with me as planned. Shouldn’t be an issue though since it was a warmer morning than usual with a gorgeous sunny day ahead, so I wasn’t expecting any problems. Our pace was steady and constant in this first section. A pause only to eat my first bit of cookie and take a look at Nicks pack to see if we could work out what was jingling around. Had a few people sitting on our tail in sections that were happy to pace from us – annoyed the crap out of me though as they were sitting too close on my tail which is uncomfortable on technical track. Managed a PR on a couple of strava segments in this section. Get to the first checkpoint and same time as the last two years! I really thought I would gain a couple of minutes on this one. Admittedly we were still surrounded by people this year, whereas previously we had already been dropped by nearly the entire pack.
CP1: 48min (6km) – no change

This section always seems to be hillier than we expect and I could feel the start of a
blister on the edge of the ball of my foot – a surprise since this shoe/sock combo has
never given me any issues before and is my go to trail wear. There was a photographer
sitting about half way up the first bastard of a hill which we were walking up (much
more strongly than last year). Had a chat, started jogging and thumbs up – gotta look
good for the photo. Chatted with a bloke wearing a parkrun shirt who was a much
stronger walker than us on the hills but not as quick when we got running again. He
was up in Sydney visiting his daughter and had jumped at the chance for a trail run
while here. We spent a lot of time playing leap frog with him all the way to checkpoint 2, I always enjoy the chatting on these events. Made sure we had a few words, or at the very least a good morning and thank you to all the volounteers along the way. Happy to pick up a few minutes here.
Mid point: 1:13 (8.7km) – 3mins saved!

Started well along here. We had dropped a few people and with no one for a fair way in front of us we were able to move at our own pace. This is generally a bit faster than average on the downhills and slower than average for the rest… So if we’re around people it tends to get a bit frustrating (for everyone!) on this very technical single track. Was starting to struggle a bit with my breathing along here, having to stop several times to get it back under control, really wish I had my ventolin with me at this point. Caught up to a couple of others at a tricky creek crossing /boulder crossing. One was an older guy with headphones in. He really struggled with any climbing but flew along in the running sections. Very frustrating as he never heard us coming and it was hard to get in his line of sight so we could get past him. Mostly walked quite a bit of this due to the technical nature and my fear of doing something nasty to an ankle. I had one twinge from my achilles which had me swearing and slowed me for a little while, but it didn’t cramp and I was able to move comfortably again pretty quickly – phew! By the time we had climbed out of the single track and had a bit more space to move my blisters started to really bother me on the rocky surface. See the gate at the end of the trail, checkpoint should be just around the corner, but wait – it’s not there!!! Kept going an extra couple hundred metres to finally get to the checkpoint. Spent a bit too long here (again), topped up my water bladder which I had emptied (and then didn’t drink from it again…). Nick mixed up some Nuun and shared a bit with me to keep us going for the final few kilometres. Lots of strava PRs in this section, picked up only a couple of minutes though which was disappointing, however there wasn’t much I could do about my breathing.
CP2: 2:09 (13.4km) – 4 mins saved!

The final big climb and my glutes were really starting to bug me. Gees – I’ve finally got my running sorted so I use my glutes more and not just my quads/calves and they go and wear out first. Continued having trouble with breathing which was getting more frequent and not helped by my muscles desire to stop. For the first time we’ve done this race, the trail was completely dry – a very different race from last year.  Almost at the end and I started coughing and coughing. Stop. This wasn’t a “cough”, I was struggling to get enough air. Make myself stop, relax, stand up straight, breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Stay calm. Tell Nick to stop and come back to me. I was ok, time to get moving again. Out onto the oval and the final 50m dash for the finish line. Nick  comes around and beside me, we lengthen our stride and start sprinting. Around the  finish chute, people are clapping, cheering and calling out to us, encouraging me to “stick your elbows out” to make sure Nick doesn’t get past me. I think he pipped me at the post though, but we finished with big grins and a bit of a laugh. Apparently we finished too quickly though and the photographer missed it!
Finish: 2:39 – 5 mins faster

While the photographer is suggesting we “re-run” the finish so he can get a photo (not going to happen!) I’m busy trying to get the words out to ask for a ventolin. After a couple of attempts, Nick manages to ask for me and I’m whisked off to the medical tent. Spend way longer than needed, but appreciate that once they treat me, they have to take all the details and make sure I’m 100% ok. Can guarantee I won’t be doing a long run again without my ventolin on me. Another one to notch up to experience.

While I was (very) disappointed with our time. We finished in much better condition than previous years. Given the slow pace, caused mostly by my breathing issues, other than my blister and slightly tight achilles, we’re both feeling pretty good today. Muscles know that they did a decent run yesterday, but there were no issues going up the stairs at the train station this morning and I reckon I’ll be back out again mid week. As it does every year, there is plenty to learn and take away and work on to make sure I do better next year! But that’s for another post.

Results were online straight away due to the use of timing chips this year. We were in the final 10 runners again, although they separated out the walkers for the first time and another 20 or so finished after us there. We both came 33rd in our age group – last for Nick, but 3 more in my age group came in after me. Photographs were up Monday, but sadly none of us. It looks like in most cases the photographers had left before we got to their locations and then they missed us coming in at the finish as well. Bit sad about that one. But I have the shirt!

Race Day!

It’s finally here!  I’m not sick or injured and my tummy seems to be behaving.  Today is my chance to do better than I have the last two years on this course.  The big question is, what can I do?  I’ve looked at my past two years and each time it’s been the hills in the middle section that have done me in.  Hopefully I’m a bit stronger and have a bit more cardio fitness to go the distance this time.

For reference, times from the last two years:

2015 (15.7km):

  • CP1: 48min (6km)
  • Mid-point: 1hr 11min (8.3km)
  • CP2: 2hr 6min (12.5km)
  • Finish: 2hr 38min

2016 (16.5km):

  • CP1: 49min (6km)
  • Mid-point: 1hr 16min (8.8km)
  • CP2: 2hr 13min (13.3km)
  • Finish: 2hr 44min

April-May Stats

Well, it’s been a while since I looked at my stats for a month.  The last two months have been my biggest ones so far – even with a few skipped runs this month due to the wrong shoes.  So, with no further delay, here it is!

April

  • Distance: 85.6km
  • Elevation: 873m
  • Number of runs: 10

May

  • Distance: 75km
  • Elevation: 559m
  • Number of runs: 8

That’s 160km in two months!!!  That’s huge for me.  Two years ago I was lucky to hit 30km in a month.  I’m now kicking close to 600km in the last year.  Even better, my new shoes arrived yesterday so here’s hoping for more pain free running in June.  But first, on Sunday, there’s the NOSH 16km trail race!