Thursday
Aug082019

Thursday 8th August: 15k with 6x800

I was able to sleep in today because I've got the day off work to take my daughter to the hospital for a minor procedure. I had the alarm set for 5.35 and woke before it went off which is such a nice feeling!!

My calf has been bothering me for quite a few months on every run, making running really not fun :( Last night I got into it with the electric massager. It went really well! It only started to feel tight during my last interval repeat.

Today's session was 6x800m aiming for between 4.40-4.50 pace. My paces were; 4.48, 4.46, 4.47, 4.43, 4.43, 4.42. So mission accomplished! I originally was going to aim for 4.40 pace, but I've been tired this week (still have my cold 3 months on...) so took it a bit easier. 

It is the beginning of August, so the last month of winter, but it seems like Spring is in the air! here is a pic from this morning's run.

I ran today from the gym, so after my run I did a workout. I focused on one-legged strength work and upper body. I am trying to re-build my shoulder strength after partially dislocating it a few weeks ago. It's taking it's time to get better!!

After my workout I went into the infra-red sauna. I love it because it's so nice and warm! When I am in the sauna I like to do a guided meditation. I use Breethe, give it a try!

Saturday
Jul132019

Barkley Marathons 2019

 

Sometimes I’ll be out running and I’ll think to myself “I went to Barkley!!” and I will be so shocked and amazed. Me??? Ordinary old me??? I had been dreaming of this for 10 years and I still can’t believe I was a part of it!!!

Once I had worked out the entry process (and please don’t bother messaging me on how to get in, as many people have…it's part of the unwritten code to keep it a secret!) and I had sent off my entry from my home in Canada at the time, I had to endure waiting. I was constantly checking my emails….was there a letter of condolences?

One ordinary night I went to bed, and woke at about 1am and felt an urge to check my email (I never normally check my phone at night). I did…and there was my letter of condolence!! I proceeded to message all my friends in Australia who had been waiting with me (because of course it was day time at home and they would be awake!) I don’t think I slept a wink more that night…some sleep deprivation training perhaps?? I was so excited!!

The next few months was spent training on some big hills…in the snow!

I arrived back in Australia just in time for Christmas and on Boxing Day I had my first lesson in navigation with a compass. Navigation was my weakness and I knew I had to learn fast! I spent the next few months training hard for steep hills and working on my navigation skills in the Dandenongs, which are just near where I live. I also got back into street orienteering, as well as trying to learn as much from the experts as possible.

Unfortunately I became quite unwell before Barkley, and had to take about four weeks off work before I was due to leave. This was not a good time in my life and not the best preparation. I arrived in Knoxville, got the hire car (driving on the right hand side of the road is second nature to me now, due to my year in Canada). I drove straight to the Between Two Rivers Bed and Breakfast. This is where the wonderful Lynda and Jack had looked after me so well when I was there the previous September for the Barkley Fall Classic. Unfortunately, my bag with all my race equipment (and number plate!!) hadn’t arrived, and to say I was slightly stressed would be an understatement!

Lynda and Jack welcomed me back with open arms. I had a delicious dinner and soon retired to my comfy bed. Once again, I barely slept because I was stressing about my bag, but surprisingly I didn’t hear my bag get dropped off in the middle of the night! It was in the living room when I woke up and I felt such relief!

I spent the next few days doing some runs around Frozen Head State Park.  The weather was beautiful and I had a great time!

A few days before the race was due to start, I went to pick up Stephen Redfern from Knoxville. I swapped my little car for a van..that would be where I would be sleeping from now on. Stephen and I went to the park (after saying goodbye to Lynda and Jack and receiving their warm wishes and some delicious spag bol for race food) to set up camp. My friend Scotty, a semi-local, came to camp and lent me all the camping equipment we could possibly need..including a tent for Stephen to sleep in, and mattresses for both of us. I am so lucky to have made friends with so many amazing people around the world. We got a nice handy spot close to the toilets and not too far from the infamous yellow gate. It was all getting so real! Unfortunately, I had also gotten a cold. I had swollen glands and was not feeling 100%. And to top it all off, I was due to get my period on race day. Honestly, every time!!! 

At the specified time, I gave my number plate to Laz, and I kindly gave him a pack of Vegemite shapes…I wonder if he’s tried them? The map was put out soon after and we could copy it onto our maps.

As most people know, the conch is blown to signify one hour to the race start. However, no one knows when the conch will be blown! Stephen kindly offered to stay awake to listen out for it so that I could sleep. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t blow till after 8 the next morning! I was able to get my you-beaut non-technical race watch (which seems to buzz every night at midnight now that I’m back in Australia!!).

As we gathered on the start-line, Stephanie Case was kind enough to try and allay my fears as I was hyper-ventilating with anxiety! Finally, Laz lit his cigarette and we were off! Well, everyone else was off, and I was huffing and puffing up near the back. Man, they sprinted like they were gunning for their Parkrun PB!! I had not expected this!! It doesn’t help that I am a notorious slow starter. Sprinting from the start line with a cold body is not my forte. So I slogged along, and finally caught a guy and we got to the first book together. We descended the first hill and I soon left him behind as we climbed the next hill. I made it to the second book on my own (I know, right!! I was high-fiving myself!!) After book 2, I met up with Sarka (the winner of the BFC in September) and Hiram (a legendary man) and we went off in search of Book 3. We found that together and then I pushed ahead because I was aware of the time factor. Unfortunately, I got lost, so had to wait for Sarka and Hiram and I decided to stick with them. After we had collected a few more pages I came to the horrible realisation that we would not make the first loop in time. Sarka and I decided to try for it anyway, and we sadly said our goodbyes to Hiram (who was suffering a bit) and pushed on.

We were making good time, but then we got to one area in the dark and just could not find the book. We searched and searched, even breaking up to search in different spots separately. We were not going to give up as we were determined to get all the pages, but we took a rest and sat and chatted for about 20 minutes or more. Sarka said to me “well, Isobel, I have some good news for you!” and I’m “What??” thinking there was nothing good about this situation. And she replied ”Well, we don’t have to do another loop!” and we just broke up cackling. I guess you had to be there!!!

We got up, with some food in us and renewed vigour. We decided to go back the way we had come and start the search again….and would you believe, I found the book in a spot we had walked back and forth on a million times!! Always the way. We set off again, in search of the next book. We did well and found the next few books, but then got lost in the beating rain and strong winds after our last book as we tried to find our way back to camp. We wasted another good 30-45 minutes running back and forth until we found the correct trail. By this time it was very late at night and I knew Stephen would be wondering where the heck I was.

We finally made it down the mountain and went through the last sections before the road. At one spot we had to cross a small river. I was being so careful, but slipped and landed full body in the freezing cold water. I couldn’t do anything but laugh! We sure were having an adventure!!!

Sarka and I ran up towards the yellow gate, so glad we had had this awesome adventure together. We chatted with Laz for a while, regaling him with our escapades ‘out there’. Soon, the taps were blown for each of us and our Barkley quest was over. We were sad and disappointed, but that’s life sometimes, and that’s racing sometimes! So we took it in our stride.

Barkley was an amazing experience, and one I will never forget. Thanks go to all the people who sent me encouraging messages, I’m sorry I disappointed. I hope to get back in next year to try to redeem myself, but that lies in the lap of the Gods (or maybe Laz!!). If I don’t get in, there are plenty more races and plenty more adventures planned. I’m excited about those too!!

Thanks to Stephen for flying half way round the world to crew for me, what a great friend! Thanks to Scotty for all the camping gear. Thanks to Jason Nass at Performance Myotherapy for helping to fix this injured body, and Oz at Melbourne Altitude Training Centre for getting me super fit. Thanks to La Sportiva Australia for awesome shoes and clothes.

Let me know about the exciting adventures you have planned; they don’t have to be big like Barkley; mini-adventures are just as amazing and life-affirming. Please comment and share below.

Wednesday
Aug152018

Using your $10…a metaphor for life and the anatomy of a DNF

A friend once spoke to me about a metaphor he has for life…you have $10 and every little thing in life costs you something, until finally you have nothing left.

Now, I can’t remember how long the $10 is meant to last in his metaphor, but I’m going to say that at the beginning of each year we get a new $10. Each little stressful situation takes away from that money. For example, a hard race might cost us anything from $1-2. Work stresses might be 50 cents. And so on. Wonderful things like your wedding, or the birth of a child or a happy, relaxing holiday might add some small amounts back. However, the concept is you want to arrive at the end of the year not in over-draft!!! Maybe with even a couple of bucks left! When you have nothing left you literally: Have. Nothing. Left. You are stressed to the max and deeply unhappy and barely surviving. I like this metaphor…it helps you to think about how you are going to parcel out you $. (Some self-help books call these giving f#*ks. The basic concept is the same).

Now I started 2018 with my $10. I had just moved to Canada and was adapting to life here. Now my over-spending began. Learning how to drive on the other side of the road and in snow: cha-ching! Adapting to a new work environment, meeting new kids and staff, learning the new ways, making new friends; cha-ching, cha-ching! I was spending those bucks fast!!! Even running in the snow and cold weather was a huge challenge to overcome.

I crazily entered the Sinister Triple, coz hey when you’re in for a penny, might as well be in for a pound right!!?? I was training hard and working hard…all taking money from my $10. Then the sh*@t really hit the fan. I had driven to Vancouver for Spring break (that drive took a few bucks too!!) We stopped in Kelowna on the way home to break up the drive. Every night I put my phone on aeroplane mode. I woke up in the morning of Good Friday and switched the phone back on to missed calls and the news that my mother was very unwell. I had to drive form Kelowna to Calgary through mountains and snowstorms with my head very distracted: more bucks taken. I finally made it home, but life had to continue as even if I went back to Australia, it wouldn’t make any difference to the situation and we all thought she was basically stable. But let me assure you, every moment the stress of it was taking money from my $10. Pretty sure I was down to about $4 and it was only April.

Then, the devastating news that my mother was not doing well at all and time was running out. I flew home for a week. Travel is stressful under any circumstances, but these were the worst. I took the wrong passport and had to re-apply for my US visa at the airport 2 hours before my flight. Cha-ching!!!

I got back to Canada and three days later got the news my mother had died. I think I was down to about $2 by now. I flew back to Australia, and whacked my daughter’s flights on my severely battered credit card too. If I had $1 of my $10 left I would’ve been very surprised. 

I returned to Calgary, behind on work and numb to life. I continued to go through the motions of working and training but every moment was a struggle. I think I was now in over-draft.

Then, finally Summer vacation. Time to re-coup. But silly me still had these three races to complete! So, five weeks after the death of my mother and 3 1/2 weeks after returning to Canada, I fronted up to a 100 miler with no crew and no clue. Just drop-bags and a severe case of anxiety.

So, it should not surprise anyone that my stomach started to go south fairly early in the game. Every time I ate or drank, it just went straight through me. A highly unpleasant and painful experience!! I struggled on, but by the 6th leg I was feeling very dizzy as I started the climb. I kept sitting down on the side of the trail trying to get my head together. A guy stopped to check if I was ok. I don’t know what I said but I remember him saying ‘You’re not making any sense, I’m going to tell the volunteers at the next aid station’. I managed to get up and keep going. I was coming close to the aid station; freezing and half-delirious. A woman was walking towards me with a blanket. She said ‘Are you cold?” and I burst into tears. That is when my race ended. The simple kindness of a stranger undid me. She hugged me and led me to the aid station where they bundled me up and called the medics. I was transported back to the last main transition area and taken to the medical tent. I wasn’t allowed to leave until I had someone pick me up. Thank goodness my friend Lance didn’t mind me ringing him and waking him up. He came straight out to pick me up.

Thus, one can see how important it is in life and running to dole out our $ carefully. I have had some time since, and a lovely break in Alaska, to try to put some money back in the account. I still struggle..I cried writing this! But I think I might be back up to about $2 now. From where I was, that’s a veritable fortune.

Check out my vlog of the Sinister seven race here.

 

Wednesday
Nov292017

The Brisbane Track Ultra 

I have started my own YouTube channel. There will be more news on that soon!

Here is the first video I have made!

Brisbane Track Ultra

Tuesday
Nov142017

Full video and teaser

This is the original teaser for the interview I did with mel from Muscle Action Therapies.

Here is the full interview I did with Mel. Enjoy!

 

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