My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Niggles

You feel a little niggle, just a little one. Should you ignore it? How long can you tell yourself it’s nothing before it will become too obvious to ignore?

The niggle doesn’t stop you from running, but it’s still there. Just a little niggle, just a little every day. You can’t quite call it pain, just an awareness that something is a bit off.

7am Sunday wake up calls, training done then coffee drunk and home by 11am to make a half-assed attempt at lunch. Throw all the running gear in the wash and start getting on to the life admin that comes way down the priorities list after running and eating and coffee.

A bit off. A wee niggle. Just a little niggle.

Then one day it’s not just a niggle any more. It’s 12pm, five hours since the alarm went off, forgotten and ignored. Just a little niggle got just a little bit bigger while you weren’t taking any notice. When you weren’t taking care, taking time to figure out just what that little niggle was.

Usually you’d be poaching eggs and making more coffee post-run, but today you couldn’t run at all. On a scale of one to ten, one being great and ten being not, you’ve somehow found yourself a seven.

A seven isn’t very good.

When did you so seamlessly slide right down two through six?

Curtains closed, cold coffee, cold toes, the routine has been disrupted and step one – go for a run – has been forgone with the rest of the day collapsing in around it.

Those exciting and ambitious plans you had for yourself, for the day, for the year, are getting further from your reach. That little niggle that you let get bigger might put a stop to all of it.

How bad is it out of ten? If it’s a seven should you still try to run?

Yes.

If it takes you 90 minutes to stand up properly, to get out of bed, pull on your shoes, and a hat to hide your face, should you run?

Yes.

If just two minutes in you stop running because you feel so bad that you cry, and you say out loud there is something wrong with me, this isn’t good, should you keep going?

Yes.

That little niggle, tugging at your shoulders, at the corners of your smile, turning it down, pulling it all down.

Despite that whisper telling you to stay in bed, sleep it off, rest some more, you know that if you try a little harder, push a little more, eventually you will start to feel good. Each minute you keep moving forward will shake out that dull ache, if you can last a little longer, breathe a little deeper, it will start to melt away.

Twenty minutes respite, air filling your lungs, shoulders unfurling from their hunch, even if it’s only temporary it gives you hope that the big niggle will go back to being a wee one.

Getting to know how you feel, what is normal, and what isn’t, will keep the niggle little. A feeling of awareness and not one of pain.

Slight but persistent, is what it is, and slight but persistent actions is how to keep it small.

 


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Getting to know your groin- Pelvic injury #2

I’ve managed to get another pelvic injury just in time for summer!  I’d like everyone to get to know my groin even more intimately because it might help you out if you have the misfortune of getting these symptoms too.

It’s because of my injuries that I know any words with more than four letters, and I’d like to teach you about the latest one I have added to my repertoire, osteitis pubis! These two words have made me even more intoxicated by the exuberance of my own verbosity than I was when I learned how to spell phlegm in 3rd form.

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Me and my pelvis in happier times at the Auckland Marathon with my friend Emma

It took a few weeks of odd symptoms before I was in any real pain with this injury. When your stomach hurts during a run you have to determine if it is discomfort from an impending poo, period pain, or (aghast!) a serious injury! My first symptom was that I had sore abdominal muscles to the point that it hurt me to laugh, a grave issue for one so hilarious.

My adductors were getting really tight after running, and no amount of stretching would loosen them off, my legs just wanted to snap closed. I blame my excessive chaffing during the Auckland Half Marathon on these tight adductors.82651-Goldmember-tight-meme-toight-l-CAuh.png

On a long run one Sunday my groin area started to really hurt. I stopped to stretch and started to palpate the area with my finger tips, assuring my friends that I was not taking a break to masturbate. I shuffled back home in pain and cut the run short, something was definitely not right.

I went to see my physiotherapist Fiona and once I told her my symptoms she confirmed what I may or may not have been googling before my appointment-

OSTEITIS PUBIS- an overuse injury characterised by tissue damage and inflammation to the pelvis at the site where the two pubic bones join, resulting in sharp pain right down the centre of your fajita. It is caused by repeated trauma, such as running 140km a week, however, it is not uncommon for a specific incident to trigger the symptoms.

Possible causes of Osteitis Pubis- (taken from reputable medical source)

  • Skipping your scheduled Brazillian wax for two months and having a larger than usual amount of pubies on your pubis
  • Repeated trauma to the Pelvis including running 396km in a month, roundhouse kicking people to the face, and vigorous mating
  • Wearing one old shoe that has done 900km on your left foot and a brand new shoe on your right foot, for a few months before you realise it’s a bad idea to buy identical shoes
  • Running in reverse and falling backwards over the top of a park bench, landing hard on your PELVIS resulting in trauma.
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Resulting bruises from park bench bashing

I have a suspicion that it was the park bench incident that caused this injury, and the above bruises that hung around for so long that I bought new socks to match with them.

To make sure I got lots of tips for a speedy recovery I went to see the podiatrist who said that I need to strengthen my glutes, specifically my right one.

‘So exactly how weak are they, how much will I need to strengthen them?’

‘For the left one, ideally around 400%’

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Four H U N D R E D? Not like four? Ya sure about that?

I’ve been managing my injury by doing the following:

Cutting out all speed work

Taking a rest day if I have any pain whatsoever

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Buying new running gear. GOLD running gear.

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Running on soft surfaces

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Running for fun instead of racing

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Binge drinking the night before a race so that the urge to regurgitate my drive-thru McChicken is greater than my urge to run fast

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Aquatic jogging

I really dislike aqua jogging. The only thing good about it is watching people flailing about in the slow lane. Don’t get me wrong, I would look just as bad trying to move through water. But I’m not, I’m watching other people suck at it, and I will enjoy frantically paddling and barely moving, supported by my bright blue foam belt, bobbing around upright and superior amongst the elderly. You also need to have sorted out your two months of skipped brazillians if you are going to be wearing swimming togs.

Because I have been running for a few years now, I know my body and I know when something is not right. I know the difference between pain and discomfort, and in this case that has saved me from potential months off running because I went to the physio as soon as I was in pain. I am managing this injury well, and plan to be running a little bit over the summer then back in to high intensity and higher mileage before my friend Hinano gets too fit and steals back all my Strava CR’s (So April at the very latest!).

Hip -Hip Hooray for Pelvis recovery!


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How to win a race- no running required!

What does it feel like to win?

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#Goals #vibes #bling #fleekydeeky #7Golds #ladiesplease

When I think back to the times I’ve been a winner, there are only a handful of things that come to mind and they are all a bit of a stretch.

  • Win #1  8 years old, The Westpac colouring competition at the bank in Te Anau. I won a model helicopter. Barbie did not fit in it, so the useless tiny helicopter stayed in its box.
  • Win #2  10 years old, 50m hurdles at Primary School athletics day.  The hurdles were made out of electric fencing tape and reels and set up in a paddock that judging by the freshness of the poo, had until that morning been occupied by sheep. The three other girls in the race tripped over and I came from behind to take the win. I got a lonely #1 pencilled on my orange paper athletics card next to all the #4’s.

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  • Win #3  13 years old, the scholarship exam for entry in to high school. I scored the highest marks and won money towards my school fees. As a congratulatory gift, my parents gave me a velcro Pooh Bear wallet. It was empty.
  • Win #4  25 years old, Trademe auction for an Eames style chair that I so desperately needed to throw dirty clothes on and use twice to stand on to change a lightbulb.

The theme emerging here is not one of sporting prowess, but gaining from the misfortune of others, using my brain, or using felt tip pens. What did winning feel like? Bewildering. Hilarious. Bitter-sweet. Embarassing.

Lewis Hamilton pezsgő Kína

This is what winning feels like. In. Your. Face.

All these wins prepared me for eventually winning a race, in one way or another. It’s not just training in running, it’s the training in winning that will get you over that line first, and this is why.

From the Trademe auction I learned that to win you must become irrational, and want to succeed at all costs. If you have ever been in a heated Trademe battle, right down to the line then you know what I mean. You’ve blown your budget, and that bitch kiwigirl_78, what does she think she needs this chair more than you? Reason has gone out the window and you keep clicking BID because you simply have to WIN. WINNING IS EVERYTHING. This is a competition, don’t give up, push hard right until the end! Then for another two minutes because the god damn auction has been auto-extended. GO DEEP! (Always have a little left in the bank just in case it comes down to that two minute sprint finish)

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I lost a chair once. Never again.

From athletics day in the paddock I learned that you need to make the most of people fucking up their race. See a stumble as an opportunity. Listen for the tell-tale heavy breathing that tells you your competitor has gone out too hard and isn’t in control. Pick off another placing as you fly by the person who wasn’t cautious on the downhill and sprained their ankle. Sucks to be them, fucking rocks to be you.

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From the colouring competition I learned that having colour coordination gets you points. If you can’t be the fastest, be the most fabulous. Kenny Souza was the world duathlon champion once in 1990 but because of his photogenic appearance, he was the most prominent athlete in the sport for years.

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Be like Kenny

From the scholarship exam I learned that if you win something once you set an expectation that you will win more. At 13 years old I gave not one shit in a paddock about the school fees that scholarship would pay, I wanted that money for all you can eat at Pizza Hut and a big pick and mix bag of lollies. Maybe a fresh polar fleece from Deka to go with my Canterbury pants? I didn’t want for much. After that one win my parents and my peers thought I was smart; I knew better of course. Proving my ability once meant that I had earned a reputation as a smartie at the party and it took the whole of fourth form to destroy this before I could make an intellectual comeback and earn praise again.

Did these wins ever translate to running?

I had never won a race before until this year when I surprised myself and won a few. Just small ones, but I still won. The feeling is better than the tiny helicopter, the empty wallet, the poo-covered friends and the useless expensive chair combined.

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I’d like to thank Kevin Ross, Rock Garden, Petone McDonalds, Holden for making the Astra.

Being at the front is really scary. There is nowhere to hide. I wonder who fucked up during the race that meant I ended up here at the front, I wonder if I somehow took a shortcut, I think if I’m winning then I’m working too hard and will look like a minger in the photos. How I feel when winning a race can be summed up in this one picture. 

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Have you ever won anything? What did it feel like to win the arm wrestle/ Pokémon battle/ Trademe auction/ flatmate of the week/ bingo/ meat pack in a raffle? (If you haven’t won anything don’t leave a comment, this blog is about winning. Losers can go find a loser blog and write tips on how to lose).


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Tassie Trail Fest – The prequel

A real life conversation featuring myself and Chris Ord. In which I am the people’s champion whom you can liken to the young Jim Hawkins. Chris is Captain Jack Sparrow, people like him, but it’s like what is he up to? How much rum has he had today? What brand is that eyeliner?

Cap’n Ord Yarrr, if I could swing it to get ye to the Tassie Trail Fest – how long could ye take off? Let me know – if so I will secure ye a berth on a Barque – what the hell :)) (insert Pirate emoji)

Alackof Beard By thunder Cap’n, hail the Barque I can come! Yusss. Yarrrr. I better start training hard so I can do one of the races, likely the 22km. I like that there is also a 2km option in there. Yarrr.

CO Haha. Avast! Matey, you’re going to run the Multiday Madness, that ok?
AB Yo ho ho Sir, tis sounding good! (Agrees immediately before asking Squire Google what that is.)
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Cap’n Ord who is clearly a land lubber running the Derby trails

So what is the Multi Day Madness?
Saturday 8am 44km Marathon 
Sunday 8am 14km Fun Run
Sunday 11.30am (didn’t we just do Sunday?) 22km Half Marathon
Sunday 7.30pm (The week days have different names you idiot this is the third time) 14km Night run
Monday 8.30am 2km Dash for cash

Maths says that this is 96km over three days. 2,920m of ascent (15 times up Mt Victoria)
Science says I probably won’t die but could do a lot of damage to my body if I’m not careful.
Art says it would be a noble death and someone else would probably write a good story about how you managed to explode in to flames from getting a snake bite in the final 20 metres of the dash for cash.
Lets go and get it.
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The Good People Run Singlet for the Pirates who run good- 75 pieces of eight

I have had a pretty solid month of training, and have been focusing on taking more time to rest. In this time I have been reading Pirate novels, eating chocolate money (Treasure!) and doing more yoga and stretching. I know I can do the race well, but it’s a bit scary that it’s the first time the event has been run so I can’t look at past results to figure out what time I will do. I’m going in to this like Blind Pew.
My family and friends have been really supportive of my training to get to this point, I am amazed at how many people believe in me, and are happy for me. Looking at you Mum and Dad!
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What do you do when you’re nervous about a race? I stop sleeping, forget to eat, go to the toilet a lot which is weird because forgetting to eat doesn’t seem to effect outgoings and then I go and race a 5km because, you know, why not?
Tomorrow I have to get up at about 4am to get myself to the airport and begin the journey to Tasmania. I should be packing right now but I haven’t decided what I will wear yet so I’m putting it off until 3.45am, I feel like at that time I will know.
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It’s amazing how much Ice cream you can eat when you aren’t concentrating

 I’ll need at least five costume changes over the three days. I heard that Mac has a new lipstick out that stays on through anything, maybe I’ll get one for each race. I don’t think I have enough shoes for this weekend either, should I buy more? I should definitely buy more shoes.

Before I set off please take a look at how bloody amazing I look in the photo below, burn that in to your memories. This is the face and posture of someone who is making little effort. No matter what I do this weekend I will not be wearing that face for more than a few hours. I will be doing my best to hit the other end of the scale when running this weekend and putting in maximum effort.

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I’ll leave you with this quote from Treasure Island that really speaks to me, one I will carry with through all 96km this weekend;
Many’s a long night I’ve dreamed of cheese—toasted mostly. – Ben Gunn, Adventurer, reformed Pirate


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What’s on the menu?

I haven’t written a blog about what my training looks like, because I don’t think people really care. If you are in the business of caring, I’ve written down what I did last week, with links to each run so U CAN HAZ a look at what I subject myself to in the pursuit of running faster!

My coach Kevin sends me an email each Sunday afternoon so I can see what’s on the menu for that week. Last week was the first week of a six week build up to make me run faster later in summer. Apparently we will build up to quite a lot of distance in this time. I am interested to find out how much ‘a lot’ of distance is…

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This is what my training weeks typically look like

Monday – 10km run

Mondays are always an easy run. Easy is about 70% effort, so 5.04 pace per km. I try not to look at my watch on these runs as the pace doesn’t matter, as long as it feels easy then that’s fine. I can run during my work day so I did an easy flat 10km loop around the Bays in the afternoon.

Tuesday – 16km run, 60mins weights/gym

I do weights sometimes because I still think 22″ arms is a possibility. Also I don’t want to be completely weak in my upper body should I need to fight my way out of a wet paper bag, or carry the amount of food I need to eat in a day. I had spare time so I spent 40 minutes doing core exercises and rolling out and stretching my legs. I’m yet to meet anyone who does this as often as they ‘should’.

I went to The Waterfront 5km and put my upper body weight training to good use by holding a baby in a front pack while my friend ran the 5km. She was pushing a buggy with another human inside and ran under 23 minutes.

These are the type of crazies I hang out with.

These are the type of crazies I hang out with.

Today’s run was 16km at a slightly faster pace than ‘easy’ so 75% effort. To avoid the wind I ran up hills and along trails around Mount Victoria so I judged this on feel rather than pace because of the extra challenge of doing hills.

Wednesday – 24km run

I was dreading Wednesdays’ run. The weather in Wellington was typical, cold, windy and drizzling. I recruited my friend Dan to run with me, he seems to relish the opportunity for a long hard run in the rain. He’s weird. This run was prescribed as 24km at 80% effort so the pace we want to hit is 4 minutes 40 per km, or 12.8 km/h. It’s not that fast but if you add in a bit of wind, some rain, and the fact that it’s already 6pm and your dinner is so far away it makes it harder.

It was fine for the first 12km despite running in to a headwind, we were under the pace and it wasn’t too cold (I took off one of my two jackets!). The pace slowed down a bit when I put my jacket back on, and again when I had a gel. I don’t stop to change my clothes or to eat because I tend to just stop for ages and get cold and not want to start again. The last 4km of this run was pretty rough and full of expletives.

Some happy-go-fucky-ourself person had put a sign along Oriental Bay that said ‘Run More!’ a bit too cheerfully. Run MORE? You mean more than 24km? Run MORE in this rain? I booted the sign over as hard as I could and kept running. I think I must have offloaded at least one large coagulated takeaway soy flat white’s worth of boogers over 24km.

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Oh, Strava! Red line blue line map map map fap fap

I was pretty exhausted after this, and when I got home I faced the insurmountable task of making my bed as I had washed my sheets. Wrestling a duvet inside of a duvet cover is a nightmare at the best of times so I just sat on the floor in front of it in my exhausted sweaty state and I cried and blew bubbles out of my nose in to a tissue.

Linen is really upsetting

Linen is really upsetting (especially unfolded fitted sheets)

Thursday- 5km run 30 mins Yoga

Running related- I got a pedicure. You can’t just go around with haggard looking feet. It was a bit nerve wracking having someone poking around next to my nearly-there toenail on my right foot but it held on long enough to be painted a nice shade of green to match my Marmot jacket. Because  wearing a seam sealed jacket with bare feet is very Wellington.

I ran a 5km progressive run with my friend then we did 30 minutes of yoga at Les Mills Extreme to stretch out.

Friday- 7km Run

Fridays are always easy days; 70% effort for 30-40 minutes, maybe some yoga in the evening. This day I picked a really stupid route that had a lot of hills so it wasn’t a very relaxing run. At least I know where not to go next time. The best thing about this run was my shoes! I put springy new laces in these ASICS trail shoes that I’m Road Testing at the moment.

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Pew pew pew PINK PINK PINK

Saturday- 12X400m, 8km Run

Saturdays at 8am I do track. This is usually at Newtown Park with a group of people and we go for coffee afterwards. If I can’t make it to Newtown like this week, I run at Karori Park. It is the field of dreams and is full of little kids playing cricket now that we are in to summer.

Newtown Park. Field of awakeness and Monkey noises and coffee

Newtown Park. Field of awakeness and Monkey noises and coffee

The goal for this workout was to run 12 X 400m in 82 seconds, with 60 seconds rest between each rep. I didn’t hit that time once but my reps were fairly even! By the 5th one I wanted to stop, but each recovery you get you feel like you can do one more, just one more. Someone stole my top when I was running. Karori isn’t so fancy after all. I did an easy 40 minute run in the afternoon. Because that is what my program says to do!

Sunday- 25km Run

Sundays are always long run days. This is to build endurance, to look at scenery, and to get away from people for a couple of hours. This was supposed to be 32km at 5.04 pace but I had work on Sunday so it was quite late in the day before I could run and this was a good enough excuse for me to cut it short… 2 hours is still a decent run though right?

That is what I do most weeks unless I’m sick (self inflicted or otherwise). 

  • 107km
  • 0 blisters
  • 8 hours and 48 minutes of running
  • 8 sets of running gear to wash
  • 3 lazy dinners that consisted of Pizza
  • 2,068 metres climbed on the hills around Wellington
  • 2 emotional outbursts
  • 1 week down out of six!
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Wellington Road Champs

The course is crap! It sucks! Hilly, out and back out and back, just a 2km loop. IN WAINUI! They have like, NO decent cafes in Wainui.

The Wellington Road running champs are held on a back road in the back of the back of nowhere every year in mid-August. This is an Athletics NZ race between the local clubs, and unlike Round The Bays or the Wellington Marathon this 10km race is small but it is fierce and the competition is a lot tougher.

Having just spent a month on holiday, then a few weeks just not training properly I had low expectations for this race. I bought myself a very large donut from Flight Coffee on my way out to Wainui and  I promised myself that if I came in the top five that I could eat the donut. It was almost the size of my hand, iced with chocolate on one side and icing on the other. It smelled good, it looked good, and I needed to earn it.

I warmed up for the race, realised I’d forgotten my timing chip among other things so rectified that and jogged over to the start line, putting myself next to Michelle Van Looy who had hickies all over her back, it was her anniversary she explained (It was needling :P).

The race started and Nicole Mitchell went off to run a solo race while seven or eight of us formed a little pod of 40-41 minute dolphins and chased and paced and ‘eeeeahahahehed’ each other up and down the course. The first kilometre is slightly uphill, then you go back down, so it’s a good 15 seconds difference in each lap for most people.

Photo bought to you by Sharon Wray, legs bought to you by Scottish Harriers

Photo bought to you by Sharon Wray, legs bought to you by Scottish Harriers

It’s a great course in that you can see exactly what place you are and wave at the leading ladies as you try not to get lapped by them. You can see who is strong on the up and down hill sections and bank this to use in the final lap. It’s also great for spectators who yell little bits of advice as you come past ‘Stay on them, speed up, don’t let her go’.

The dolphins started to drift apart around 6km in and I, being a social dolphin, stayed with the little pack because there is safety in numbers and I always worry about blowing up and not being able to finish. 1500m from the end I thought to myself, ‘This is a race Amanda, why are you being conservative, just race it!’ So I ran a little bit harder, managed to get ahead of the pod and move up four or so placings, I locked eyes on Lindsay who is the least donut-looking person I know but in that moment she became the target, the goal, the delicious baked good with two kinds of glazed icing rolling down the road in front of me. I managed to come in to finish in 5th place by only one second. The donut was mine.

Andrea thinks I’m a donut too

I improved my time ever so slightly from my last 10km race and ran 40.49 so panted and stumbled around the finish line telling anyone who would listen, limping slightly, and grinning about the baking I was going to eat. Full results are here!

Ayesha and Me

We stayed on to watch the men’s race, but they ran too fast for me to know what was going on or who was who except at the end when I thought Nick Horspool was smiling cheerfully as he went down the finishing chute to take the win. When I look back at the photos it was a bit of an Anthony Hopkins in the Shining smile rather than a happy smile. This tells me that we all do look super atheltic and awesome and happy when we run (in real life) and it’s just the photos that make everyone look murderous.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Donut
  • 14 second PB!
  • Battle scar
  • I BEAT CARL
  • Going to nationals this weekend

    How will I colour coordinate stained Nikes? 😭

    *If I had come sixth I would have still eaten the donut but would have salted it with my tears before consuming.


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Wellington Marathon 10km 2015

Last Sunday was the 30th Annual Wellington Marathon. The course follows the waterfront and starts and ends at Westpac Stadium (UP A RAMP!).

I went to the start line early so I could see my friend and training buddy Ayesha set out for the half marathon, see the short video above for my awkward squeaky cheer.

For my own race I had a goal of sub 40 minutes, it didn’t seem unrealistic but it was a lot faster than my previous personal best of 42.10.

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Pre-race Kewpie pose

I lined up at the start back a few rows and sized up the competition. You can never tell how fast people are when you’re just standing there, skinny people might just be skinny and not fast, you really have to know someone to pick their ability. I assumed (safely, very safely, did I mention I made a massive correct assumptive assumption) that the two girls standing stiffly at the front of the start line wearing enormous Beats by Dre headphones and adjusting their ipod arm bands would not be in front of me after the gun went. Several nipple-high kids were also lined up across front waiting for their 200 metres of glory. Had I not been feeling so chipper I would have willed them to be trampled; kids on the start line are a hazard.

I thought that I should try to stick with Gabby (lol Amanda, lol) but changed that plan after about 400m and just ran. The first 2km were a bit too fast at 3.50 pace then I struggled to hit 4 minutes after that. I ran with Haleigh until the 5km mark where she left me behind to run in to second place. I was in fourth which is good by my standards so just tried to keep going fast enough that I wasn’t losing places or looking unco in front of the GIANT SCREEN that played a live feed of the runners. Was this really necessary in the final 1500m? I looked horrific. I ended up passing the colour-coordinated Alice (who will be an awesome training partner this summer) and coming home third in 41.03. Full results of the race here.

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Hi my name is legs

What I learned from this race;

  • When short shorts get too lose they disappear in to your crack
  • Less clothing is more when you are running shorter distances
  • Wind can make or break your time
  • Ruby Muir is a tank
  • Seeing your friend cheer for you makes you go so much faster, cheers Larna, Sophie, Ben and Karin
  • I WILL NEVER BE SATISFIED WITH MY TIME!

I have been training pretty solidly since March when I was allowed to run again, and have just got out of the ‘building’ phase and started training that includes more speed work. I don’t think I had done enough to be able to pace myself through a good 10km race. It’s a lot different to running a half marathon where you can relax enough in to it to cruise along and talk, and not like a 5km when your lungs explode the whole way. It’s somewhere in the middle and I’m not use to it at all!

There is a huge difference between a 4.15 pace and a 4 minute pace. The closer you get to that threshold the harder you have to work for every second. When the wind is against you that extra 5 seconds per km pushing you back has a big impact.

I’m off to Vietnam for a month and will try to stay fit there so I can get closer to 40 in the Wellington Road Champs in August. I forsee a lot of treadmills or midnight runs happening in the next month.

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Scottish team mate Dorota