A ten kilometre run

I took up running seriously a little over a year ago. I have written a bit about this in a few posts (here and here). I run to get some higher intensity exercise, and because once it’s over I feel like a bad-assed grandma! DAMN! I think to myself, I just ran a LONGGGGGG way! And I’m old! (ish!)

A faux-watercolour of a bike against a fence. The ocean is in the background.
One of the views on my run at around 4km

I am not super fit and I am a long way off breaking world records. The only person I am keen on competing against is my past-self.  My present-self sometimes needs a kick in that bad-ass to get it moving! My goal is to do 10km in 55 minutes. It’s not unrealistic. I can do 5km in 27 minutes so I should be able to do 10 in 55.

….Should…..

I try and train 6 days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday are running days. Five km on Monday with sprints or hill runs; 7 – 8 km on Wednesday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are gym days for crossfit or cardio boxing, Fridays are yoga and Sunday is a rest day. I sometimes switch the rest day depending on my schedule and other commitments.

JFDI!

As I haul myself out of bed at 5:30 AM, I grumble that I should cut myself some slack, but I repeat to myself JFDI!!! (Just f@#$ do it!!)  A great mantra!  The self satisfaction I feel when I do get up and exercise lasts me all day. When I am travelling or it’s school holidays I am not nearly as disciplined.

My standard Saturday run is 10km. My best time so far is 56:05.

A man in a red bathing cap floating in teh ocean
The Towradgi Sea Pool offers a great view

I run on a nicely made bike path that hugs the coast. I can see and hear the ocean. I join the early morning bike riders, walkers and runners who share the path. Running gives me plenty of time to  think. I can live in my own head and burble out a stream of consciousness. Typically, my run sounds like this.

0 – 1 km OMG I can’t breath! I am so unfit! Why did I even think this was a good idea. Come on lungs get it together!
1- 2 km Oh there you go! My memory brings backs the good old days in the biochem lectures were I learnt about the anaerobic energy system. That’s right….it takes a little while to kick in.
2 – 4 km I’m hit a steady rhythm; my breathing is not laboured. I should probably go a bit faster. The beat of the music is urging me along. I match my stride to the music.  I start to get onto the flow…. I could do this forever! …. Marathon? Yeah, no worries! Easy!
4 – 5 km When is that bloody running app going to tell me I’m half way so I can turn around. These shoes need replacing! Are they actually any good?  I wonder about whether I’m hot or cold… I wonder about whether or not I’m breathing properly… my hip starts to give me a bit of a twinge. Great, I’ll be needing a hip replacement next!
5km Veronica (the voice on my GPS) tells me my current speed and distance every kilometre. But 5 km is the turning point – literally. If I am under 30 minutes I know I have  a good chance of reaching that elusive 55 minutes goal. If not, I may as well take it slowly.
6 – 7 km My gait has settled back into a good rhythm. Kenny Loggins’ Footloose is almost perfect for my stride (I know I know….) and I  pound my feet against the pavement with satisfying synchronised beats. I drift back into the flow and come up with all sorts of good ideas for stories.
7 – 8 km Veronica breaks into my train of thought unexpectedly…and sends me into a flurry of calculation…can I do it? Should I sprint to the end? No wait… I can’t sprint 3 km!
8 – 9 km Push it just a little bit harder, old chook. No pain, no gain! Oh no… here’s that little hill that’s always so welcome on the way out but not now that it’s facing up.
9 – 10 km I can see the car parked off in the distance! Come on! Come on! You can do it!

YOU DID IT!!!

I DID IT!

Darn: 57 minutes and 48 seconds. I begin the self-justification… don’t forget you stopped to do your shoelace up twice, you slowed down to blow your nose at least three times…that should take;  what; at least 30 seconds off the time…it’s really 57:18

I feel elated as I stretch on the grass. Not bad for an Old Chook!

I might have 2 minutes to cut off my time. I might need to increase my speed by a full kilometre per hour to average 11kph not 10.

But it’s not impossible.

It’s my goal and it’s just an few weeks away.

Be invincible. Not invisible!

Man fishing in a creek
Early morning runs means getting up before the sea breeze.

A run in the Park.

The “Park Run” is a free event that happens in lots of different places world-wide on Saturday mornings. It’s a 5km timed run/walk organised by volunteers. There are three park runs near where I live in Wollongong, but strangely there wasn’t one in New York.

This weekend I am in Old Bar on the Mid North Coast of NSW, Australia for a 40th School Reunion. That in itself is a scary concept which I will write more about later for my regular Friday post.

In the meantime here is a little CHOOKUMENTARY about the Park Run in Taree. Today I ran the course in just over 27 minutes. The course is relatively flat and follows along a footpath on the foreshore of the Manning River.

Check out Park Run’s Website for more information. This link is for their Australian chapter but there are others in other countries. Park Run Australia

Team Earth

IMG_8818
Photo Credit: A nice man in the crowd took our photo

Last Saturday I was the one half of Wonder Woman and my younger sister, Tracy, the other half. We were each wearing one half of a Wonder Woman outfit for a Tough Mudder event.

Tough Mudder is not a race. The event is not timed. A full Mudder is a 16 – 20 km course with 20 obstacles. The Sydney Mudder in November 2017 was enhanced by heavy rain the night before so the course was even muddier than it was designed to be. We waded, walked and slurped our way through knee-deep mud that varied in viscosity from milk to partially melted ice cream. It sucked the shoes off many. It filled our orifices, both private and public.

The mud was a smelly, dank, black ooze with grassy inclusions. It was better not the think about the amount of horse shit that was mixed with the velvety clay. We threw ourselves over and into trenches filled with slime. We dragged ourselves up walls with knotted ropes. We stood on the shoulders of others to climb over obstacles and we cheered those who made it. We laughed and smiled as some fell face first into the muck and we wiped each other off.

IMG_1606

Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

Tracy and I made it through with a couple of bruises and scrapes, our pride boosted by the encounters with friendly and helpful people along the way. Our feeling of accomplishment heightened by the collective knowledge that you can’t complete a Tough Mudder on your own. To finish, you need help. You need to co-operate, either with your own team or enlist the help of strangers. You need someone to help you up and over the mud walls in the Mud Mile; you need people to haul you up the Everest obstacle. You just can’t do it on your own, no matter how fit and fabulous you are.

IMG_8820
Not so clean but enjoying a beer! Photo credit: another nice person from the crowd!

Why is it that at an event like this we can cast aside our differences and reserved natures and help with an open heart and a spirit of untapped, immeasurable generosity?  I finished because total strangers gave me a leg up, literally. If I met these people on the street on Monday, they probably wouldn’t even say hello.

IMG_1616
Let me give you a hand buddy! (Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page)

Why? Because on Saturday we had a common goal. Because we had all been banded into one team. The Tough Mudder Team. We had an initial idea that this would be fun. We paid our money and we joined the team – willingly. We signed a waiver that basically said – this is dangerous – you could die – but that’s your choice. On Saturday we arrived at the one place at the one time. We were corralled together for the warm up and listened to the playful banter of the “coach”.  We joined the chant.

“When I say tough YOU say Mudder”

“TOUGH”

“MUDDER”

“TOUGH”

“MUDDER”

The warm-up guy at the start line invoked the spirit of shared purpose even further when we all got down on one knee and pledged to think of others before we thought of ourselves. We learnt how to signal to indicate a fallen Mudder. We knew if we found someone hurt, we crossed our arms above our heads and first aid would arrive.

We bonded.  We were a family. We were TOUGH MUDDERS!

IMG_1619

Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

There was plenty of swearing going on that day but none of it was in anger. The f’ing and blinding was targeted at our common enemy – the mud. All the elements of team building were right there:  collective action to successfully  overcome a series of challenges that took us outside our comfort zone to achieve a common purpose.

By the 12 kilometre mark, our tired bodies were seeking distraction despite the fun, and as we jogged from one obstacle to the next, my sister commented

“Wouldn’t it be good if it was like this all the time. If we could be friendly and kind all the time.”

IMG_1610
Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

Indeed, it would!

In the real world, we divide ourselves into teams based on religion, ethnicity, colour and gender. We subdivide that into even smaller teams based on sexual preference, political affiliation and citizenship. We endlessly divide ourselves into smaller and smaller teams and privilege those who belong to the same team and cast the outsiders well away. We don’t trust the “others” and we choose not to share with them. We walk past the homeless. We demonise those whose faith is different to our own, even though the scriptures we follow all include love and peace as their central tenets.

IMG_1609
Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

With the black mud covering our bodies, it was almost impossible to tell who was who. The lumps and bumps that showed through the active wear defined gender, but that was all. The act of helping a fellow Mudder over the wall was offered to and by men and women equally, so gender became insignificant. You helped; regardless.

After all we were the same tribe! The Saturday Mudders!

Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

Driving home, I turned on the news and discovered that the world had not become a loving festival of generosity. Those who hated others who were not in the same tribe still outnumbered the generous. I heard that our Parliament was considering the Same Sex Marriage Bill and might vote to permit active discrimination by allowing those who “felt uncomfortable” in baking a wedding cake etc. to refuse service to a gay couple seeking to formalise their love. I sighed – the bubble burst.

How can we join all the humans of the world into one big team? By expanding our horizons. After all, when you pull the focus back far enough it is easy to see we already do belong to only one team.

Team Earth.

Let’s hope it does not take until the arrival of the Aliens before we all sign up for membership to the team that seeks to maintain a habitable planet.

Today, as I nurse my aching muscles I feel like one tough grand-mudder! I urge you to  pay the membership to join Team Earth. Let’s play together! All 7.6 billion of us. That’s one awesome human pyramid we could build!

IMG_1613
Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page
(Unfortunately the GoPro I was wearing malfunctioned. The 100% waterproof cover was in fact 0% waterproof!! As a result I have no original pictures to post except the two with Tracy and I at the start and finish)

Chook run

Eleven weeks ago, I started a 12-week running program. The program’s aim was to go from 0 to 10km in 12 weeks. I have always tried to keep fit but as I have gotten older I have gotten lazier. Even though I walked around 8km most days, I hardly ever raised a sweat. I wasn’t overweight but I was heavier than I wanted to be. I figured if I kept putting on weight as I was – around a kilo a year – I would end up at 80kg before I was sixty, which is way too heavy for someone with my frame!

I decided to act and hence the running training. I am pleased to say that today, I have just completed a 15km fun run.  A week and 5 km ahead of schedule.  I am feeling very pleased with myself!

Not only did I finish but I finished in a pretty good time for an old chook – 83:04.

IMG_8303 2

Why am I telling you all this? In keeping with some of my other posts I think it fits into the wellbeing category. Setting goals, being active and connecting with others.

I stuck to my training schedule and my fitness has improved. I lost seven kilos and don’t want to lose anymore. My heart rate has gone down. Always pretty low, it’s 55 bpm while I type this and at complete rest it’s down to about 45bpm

Snapseed 4
Not such a glamorous shot – but hey! I had just finished 15km!!

 

 

 

My tips for you if you are looking at getting fitter:

  1. Find a program that you have to sign up for or a training buddy. This will keep you accountable. Nothing works like an accountability partner. I used the Michelle Bridges 12WBT 10K program but I am sure there are plenty of others.
  2. Set yourself some sub-goals along the way. For me, it was a 3km fun run at week 3, then 5km at week 5, 10km at week 8 and 15km at week 11. This meant I always had something I was working towards. By paying money upfront to enter the events, I “locked” myself in and couldn’t come up with excuses for not doing the training.
  3. JFID – just fricken do it! Just get out there and do it. (Thanks Michelle for this one!)
  4. There are plenty of programs online for free but stick to them. If it says rest – rest! If it says do strength work or stretch; do it! I have managed to get through the last 11 weeks without an injury and I think that’s the key. Stick to the program. Don’t wing it!

I had intended to cut back on the running after today, to say 5 – 10km twice a week with stretching, yoga and strength work on the non-running days. BUT!!! And there’s always a but… I have accepted another challenge. My younger sister asked me to run with her in a Tough Mudder event in four weeks’ time.  Sixteen kilometres and 20 obstacles in mud. I have never done anything like it so it looks like I will be keeping up the training schedule plus adding some heavier upper body work so I can drag myself over the obstacles.

IMG_8302

Hashtag blessed! I am in good health and the endorphins are doing wonders!