Friday, May 31, 2013

Still ill... but at least I got a run in!

I did get out for a run on Monday evening with the Coogee-Bondi runners, but by Wednesday I had reverted to a dry cough and mild headaches that made everything but staying in bed sound horrible!

There was a bit of light rain, but I was itching to go for a run. I hadn't taken the Triumphs for a wet run yet, so it was time to see how they felt in such conditions. I hate starting downhill, so I didn't get started until I reached the bottom of Alison Road - and even by then the GPS still hadn't picked up a signal. This seems to be a regular occurrence when it's cloudy (and thus also when it's raining), but the mapping shows that it doesn't lose the signal under these conditions once it's got it.

We meet up outside the Coogee Sands Hotel, and head off at about 6.30pm. It doesn't take very long to split into two groups - the fasties and the slowies. There were really three slowies in the group of seven, but two dropped off after Clovelly (and made their way back, I assume), so it was just me and one of the faster runners who sat back with us. While the full route goes past Tamarama Beach to Marks Park, I was more than happy to run to end of Bronte Beach (to the bus stop, as I like to touch my turn around point to make sure I've reached it) before making our way back.

I did have my headlight with me - and having run this course last winter, I welcomed actually being able to see the road on the section between Calga Reserve and Bronte Beach. It's a section of road that has been cut into the sandstone (I think - I'm not familiar with Sydney geology*) so it doesn't receive any kind of moonlight and lacks street lighting. There's also a small dark section as you go into Gordon's Bay from Coogee, which was a lot easier being able to see where to go.

We made it back to Coogee Sands about 10 minutes ahead of the faster group, so I think I can push to start of Tamarama Beach (without descending) next time! Provided I'm feeling OK, of course! Then I ran home, walking up Alison Road as a warm down :P. The Triumphs were fine - didn't have any slippery moments (unlike the Nike LunarSwift, which is not fun on moist concrete downhills), and felt fine despite walking through a puddle early on while trying to deposit my rubbish in the apartment block bins!

Summary: 9.8km @ 6'43"/km

*Although I know where to find the geological maps, I don't care that much about it. In fact, I have a copy of the maps next to the office doorway at uni.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A blergh week

So much for saying that I am going to lose weight, strengthen my legs and commit to a running program, with additional exercise! I spent the week being sick, being hungry all day, and drinking lots of lemon and ginger tea. My exercise for the week consisted of a single gym session and one 6km run with the Nike Run Club from Warringah Mall (happily used the headlamp for this - and I saw someone else wearing one during the run, so I didn't feel so odd!). Am I allowed to also count multiple trips to the toilet? Thanks tea. I hate having a cold, being clogged up at the same time, and thus regularly drinking lemon and ginger tea to decongest!

I had planned to make the most of my labwork this weekend and go to parkrun Curl Curl, hoping to get a nice 5km time on their flat course. But I've been far too busy coughing and going through tissues (I usually use a handkerchief, but if I'm finding I need multiple handkerchiefs due to my spectacular mucous production skills, I go for the tissues).

At least I did get that run (and the gym) on Tuesday. Meanwhile, because I love doughnuts:

Not that I've been craving doughnuts this week - just tea and soup (so I've been having plenty of chicken, pumpkin and miso soups). I am hoping my coughing will have subsided by tomorrow night as I have been looking forward to rejoining the Coogee Runners group! 

Mileage for the week: 6.5km

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Now for some speed

When I went to collect my bib for the SMH Half Marathon on Saturday, I parked right outside World Square on George Street and paid for 45 minutes of parking. I guessed it would take me less than 5 minutes to get to town hall and back, and my experience as a volunteer for the Blackmore's Running Festival told me 40 minutes was more than enough to collect a bib if it was busy.

Once I got there I found it very empty and I collected my bib straight away. So I had a wander around the expo, bought the Nathan fuel belt with two bottles (which I used for the first time the next day during the half, and it didn't bother me at all once I moved it onto my waist) and found my way back to the start. As I still had over 30 minutes of parking left, I joined to queue for the Virgin Active InBody Tracker.

There was little information gained in doing this, but I like numbers and stats, so it was fun. The Tracker confirmed that I was:
a. a bit overweight (on all fat measurements)
b. carry my excess weight on my hips and bum (see Segmental Fat and very high WHR)
c. have relatively strong legs (see Segmental Lean) - this is why I was always better at hammer and discus than shot-put and javelin
d. well hydrated (see Body Composition Analysis) - I was being very diligent with my water intake last week, and I was happy to see that it showed.

As I said, nothing overly new (aside from the confirmation of my regular water intake last week). But now that I have completed the half marathon and want to get some speed into me, I really need to start to lose the excess - and make sure that I do not put any on, which is something that some PhD students seem to do in the writing up phase of their research. I understand why - it's easier to eat readily available food and very easy to lose track of time. 

In my case, I'm still driving all over town to get my data processed so I need to figure out the best way of avoiding peak hour traffic, getting regular exercise in (for weight loss and for strength - while my legs may be my strongest limbs, I still need to get my muscles firing better for stability purposes), and spending time preparing meals in bulk that I can keep in the freezer and defrost as required.

So here are my commitments for the next 16 (16!) weeks:
1. Follow the Runners World SmartCoach plan for 5km races
2. Go to the gym three times a week
3. Swim twice a week (depending how my shoulder's doing)
4. No excessive junk food (I can't be perfect all the time).

I'm hoping not to have to use a calorie counter as they do tend to take up a bit of time to get the most out of them. But we'll see how I am tracking after four weeks. 

As for how much to lose… that's something I've always struggled with. Even if I was fit, I would still be somewhat heavy due to being tall and big boned (not an excuse, I have a wrist diameter of 17cm and ought to stick to large sized tops due to the size of my shoulders, but am naughty and buy medium ones if they don't need to look properly tailored). The InBody Tracker recommended 6.3kg of fat loss, which means getting to about 77kg. This doesn't sound unreasonable, and will now be my goal weight.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

8 seconds...

... is how far off I was from my target time of two hours at this morning's half marathon (this is according to the official chip time). I was disappointed for all of half or quarter of a second, and then decided that it was a pretty good effort given I'd never run a half before. I learnt a lot about how to prepare for a half as a result of today. In my lead up, the longest I had run was 18km - which I think would have been enough... if I had've had more hills in my long runs!

While I went out a lot faster than expect, I did hold that pace for the first 15km. Then the hills really started to get me - I could still run on the flat, but the hills! Aaargh!

Now I'm not sure if the elevation profile Nike+ has come up with is real - but I'm telling you the climb at 15km killed me, and the elevation profile reflects this. My pace dropped in the lead up to the hill as I was trying to get some energy for the climb. Massive fail! Ha!

I had organised to meet another 2-hour-targetting runner (from the Cool Running forum) before the race, and we ran together for most of the run. It was great to have someone who wanted to push the pace early to bank time on the downhills, and to see how far we could go with that pace. She then started mini pep talk to try and keep me going through that 15th km, which I just couldn't hold. I did catch her briefly after the climb, but she was clearly feeling better than me, so we parted ways. She was telling me pre-race that she'd had times of 2:04 and 2:02 in the past - but not under 2:00. She ended with 1:57, which I think was fantastic!

I did my first 10km in 54'26", and the second 10km in 59'28". I was actually only a few seconds behind where I needed to be at 20km to finish in 2 hours. I needed to average 5'41"/km over the race to get under 2 hours (as 1:59:55), which meant hitting 20km at 1:53:40. I was at 1:53:54, and most of the rest of the run was... uphill. Yup. Definitely a weakness of mine I'll need to work on!

So where to now with my running? I still haven't broken 25 minutes in the 5km, so that will be something I want to work towards next. Hopefully this will help me gain some pace, and maintaining long runs (but making sure they include hills) will help me with the next half marathon - whether it be September in Sydney, or October in Melbourne. I'm going to get some trail running in too before I leave Sydney (although the departure is yet to be determined!) and be a bit of a tourist!

Summary: 21.5*km @ 5'34"
Mileage for the week: 30.7km

*I will stick to using the GPS measurement for today.

Friday, May 17, 2013

2 sleeps to go!

I had to double- and triple-check that it was only two sleeps until Sunday morning's Half Marathon!

I've been struggling to sleep properly lately, mainly (wholly) due to PhD madness. This morning was no exception - I had plans to wake up at about 5.45am, get into my running gear, head over to the lab in Manly, get my water samples on for analysis and go for a run. Instead I woke up at 4.30am, couldn't get back to sleep, got into my running gear, went for a run, then showered, had breakfast and went to the lab.

In hindsight, it was probably for the best that I went for my run early and headed into the lab later - someone had picked up my standards (which I use to correct my analyses) from the desk I use and I couldn't start my run without them. Ended up getting the run on at 9:40am, compared to 8am if everything was where I left it (and where I expected it). A bit annoying, especially since I had expected the run to finish at about 9.30am on Saturday - meaning I could help out at Curl Curl parkrun, grab a coffee and then head into the lab. Instead, the run isn't going to finish until after 11am - and I don't have that much laboratory cleaning to do to fill up the time in between. So I had to cancel my Curl Curl parkrun volunteering. :(

As for my run - it was my first in a long time that started and ended before dawn. I used to be a regular pre-dawn runner last year over winter, and then I became a pre-dawn gym goer (although I would be on my walk back from the gym as the sun rose - a beautiful sight given home is east of the gym!) I looked at the temperature on the BOM website and figured long tights and a long sleeve top would be enough. Popped on the Wave Riders again - I'll be wearing them for the half, so I figured I may as well have another run with them and leave the breaking in of the Triumph 10s until next week. I wore the headlamp again, this time with a cap, which was a lot more stable than with the visor. Although the route I took was well-lit, so I had no need for the lamp!

I wore enough clothes, although I needed to tuck my hands inside my sleeves to start with. The cold was also an easy way to get me to slow down - I tend to struggle with slowing my pace down at times, but I find it a lot easier when your body is stiff due to having recently been asleep and the cold. By the time I was at the bottom of High Street and about to climb up, I was relatively well warmed up so I pushed up the hill. Unfortunately my shoelace came untied, so I decided not to stop until the pedestrian crossing just past halfway of the part of the climb that goes by uni. Once I got home, I spent some time stretching and even more time on the foam roller - I hope my left ITB doesn't cause any problems in a couple of days!

Summary: 5.3km @ 6'37"/km

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

5 sleeps to go!

I've been finding that I have a sore right shoulder lately - I sleep on that side (if sleeping on a side), use that arm to push myself off the ground and to hold bottles, mobiles, etc. It was so sore this evening, I ended up texting with my left hand. It doesn't bother me when I run, so I'm not worried about it with the half marathon, but it's just another annoying niggle I have affecting my day-to-day life.

I spent a lot of time in the early evening stretching it out - I lie on the foam roller with my spine going along it's length, bring my arms out straight to form a T-shape, and let my hands rest of the floor. Like most stretches, it feels good but is also a bit painful. I ended up being quite carried away by that - just lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling and thinking of Lionel Ritchie songs not much at all. Before I knew it, it was after 7.30pm and I still hadn't gone on my planned shortish run. I also needed to head into uni briefly, so I laced by the Triumph 10s and headed out the door.

It was chilly. At least I had one of my long-sleeved tops with a zip-up high neck! It was also the one with thumbholes, but it wasn't quite that cold! I took another longer-than-necessary route to uni, although this one had far less steep downhills than the route from last week. After about 1km I realised I had done it again - laced the forefoot too tight! I really need to get it into my head that these runners are perfectly fine loosely laced. I'm not sure whether to blame the relatively narrow Triumph 10 or the relatively wide Wave Rider! I think I'll just blame the pair I'm not wearing at the time :)

Another km later, and I was at uni. Completely failed to fix what I wanted to fix, so headed back home. Only this time it was even chillier! Brrrrr! The thumbholes helped a little, but the best fix was running.

Hello winter!

Summary: 2.2km @ 6'37" and 1.5km @ 6'08" (oh the difference no traffic lights makes!)


I've never really tapered before - well, I have for hammer throwing competitions, but not for running. And not while I've been injured and not been doing as much work as I would have liked.

As a junior hammer thrower, we would ease back on the weights in the gym and in the ring (while the standard weight of the hammer was 4kg, you would also train with heavier weights to develop strength, and lighter weights for speed), and the number of sessions I'd do per week. It was never anything drastic - I always think kids are more resilient and less prone to fatigue than adults - but it was still a taper of sorts.

With the half marathon in a few days, the only thing I've really done is ease back on the distance of my running. My last long run was Monday last week, and during the weekend I had two moderate distance runs at a moderate pace. I think this is the downside to running in groups - you can't always do the training you think you should be doing. But I also enjoy running in groups - I often run in places I wouldn't normally run in on my own (e.g. the Fred Hollows reserve in Randwick, which I feel is an isolated spot, and have never been in on my own).

Saturday was the last of the Bondi Run Club runs - I like the group, but I think I was one of the most regular Saturday runners. Last week it was me, two from The Athlete's Foot, and one from Vision Personal Training. We then found two more non-representatives after the run, who were late and didn't see the map showing where we ran to. This week it was the other two non-reps were on time, but chose to stick to laps of Centennial Park, as they were still building their capacity for running. So the run to Coogee and back consisted of me, one from Mizuno, one from The Athlete's Foot, and a friend of the Mizuno representative. As I said, I like the group, but I sometimes felt like it was just me and the reps, and that if I didn't turn up, then it wouldn't be much of a Run Club!

Summary (Saturday): 9.3km @ 6'23"/km

I'm looking forward to freeing up my Saturdays now - I haven't been to parkrun in ages, and there's a trail group I would love to run with. However, my time in Sydney might be limited - in which case I'd rather go on the trails and explore Sydney than test my speed at parkrun.

My time in Sydney is coming to a close as I finish my experimental work - I might end up staying until I finish my thesis, but the only thing that is really tying me to this city is the laboratory access I need to get data. It's a bit weird trying to keep on living in Sydney while being aware that I might wrap everything up and head back to Melbourne relatively soon. I had plans to go home for a brief visit after the experiments finished, but as they have gone on for far longer than I would have liked, I don't know if a visit is feasible. I might just go home permanently.

Until then, I suppose I will still be looking after the Inner West Jogger's Sunday Pre-Run - although this week's is being looked after by someone else as I will be doing the half marathon. I like how the Pre-Run has grown and now become more like The Run - the weekend just past was the second time there was no 8am run to follow the Pre-Run. I suppose the Pre-Run needs a more appropriate name now. We had a dog (Chilli) with us this week too - the last time I ran with a dog was before my knee injury, with my family's old dog (a blue heeler). It was quite fun, and while I think Chilli didn't like uphills so much, it did reaffirm that I would love to have my own dog to regularly run with. That can't happen right now as I'm not allowed pets in my apartment, and it would also be irresponsible until I settled down somewhere!

Sunday's run was the Anzac Bridge in reverse - it was quite foggy and I feel doing the loop in reverse (in the same orientation as Nike Broadway) us safer as you are facing the traffic when running between Blackwattle Bay and the Anzac Bridge. I was back in the Saucony runners for this run, and slipped my orthotics back in. Made a significant difference to how my lower legs felt - I think I've become more reliant on them due to not going to the gym. That's another thing that will happen once my experimental work wraps up - the gym. Chilli slowed down at the bridge, so the group split in two when we hit Pyrmont - so Jessica and I did a little loop so that we would bump into our tailenders.

At the moment I end up with sore hands from the lab work, and struggle to lift heavy things. While I could probably get away with using only pin-loaded equipment at the gym, I would hate to have to use my hands to lift something in an emergency and then struggle with my labwork again. I have overstrained tendons in my fingers, so even household tasks like ironing, cooking and cleaning are a hassle at times.

Summary (Sunday): 8.1km @ 6'20"/km
Mileage for the week: 43.1km

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Keeping it easy

I had ridiculously tight calves on Tuesday night, and they were bothering me so much when I went for a run on Wednesday evening that I was limping at the start! I switched to a heel strike and after 20 minutes was finally able to get back on the forefoot. Annoying, but at least they loosened up before I had to climb out of Clovelly on my way to Coogee along the coastal walk. I quite like running along the coast - the hills and stairs make the run interesting, although the lighting in the evening is pretty bad in places.

I find I don't have as good night time vision when I wear my contact lenses, compared to wearing my glasses. And while I do run with my specs if I'm especially tired or have irritated eyes, I prefer to run with the contact lenses. I do miss the light when running along the coast after sunset! I'm also quite clumsy and can trip on the slightest bump - I've been very lucky so for the past year and have managed to get my next step in before falling completely. The last time I feel was about a year ago - a week or two before the Nike She Runs event, and my knees were disgusting gooey messes for a while... it was along one of the few dark patches of pathway along Alison Road.

I recently bought a head lamp - I am thinking of entering the night-time trail race around Manly Dam in August, so I bought one well in advance so I can get used to wearing it. I took it on my run on Wednesday night, and I loved being able to run along the section of Gordons Bay without worrying about tripping on the infrastructure. I was wearing it on top of my visor, but next time I might wear a cap and see if that helps with stability. While it never fell off, there were a few times I thought it might have been slipping.

Once I got home I spent a lot of time on the foam roller - plenty of Criminal Minds to keep me occupied while waiting for the Hannibal episode that wasn't shown in the US. I'm always better at staying on the foam roller if there's something on the TV. Hannibal is currently my favourite TV show. It's very lovely to look at, despite the content. I love a lot of the sets they use, especially Lecter's office.

Most of the crime scenes are amazing, while I won't be sharing any particularly bloody ones here, this is an example of a show that can make the ugly quite beautiful. Even the men's toilets.

Although one of my favourite sequences so far has been the stag Will dreamed about in the hospital.

While I woke up with bruises in the trouble spots this morning, I need to keep working on my legs - but there's nothing good on the TV tonight to get me into a good foam rolling session again. I will probably end up buying Hannibal when it comes out - that way I can get plenty of foam rolling done!

Summary: 5.4km @ 6'46"/km

All images from the Hannibal gallery.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The last long run(s)

After the Nike 10km on Saturday night, I didn't feel up to a long run on Sunday, so I put it off until Monday - I figured I would run into the city and then do a 10km course with Nike Run Club.

Things got off to a bad start when I was distracted writing an email to my supervisors (which really isn't a distraction as it's something that should take priority over running). I had planned to leave at 5pm so that I would have plenty of time to get to Nike, sign up, eat something and head off for a 10km loop. Instead I left at 5.10pm... I decided I needed a coffee (true, I had been doing a lot of driving, labwork and mind-numbing data entry), needed to change and hadn't prepared my bag yet. It was going to be my first run with my newish hydration bag, although all I carried in it were a few extra layers for after Nike Run Club, honey shots (what I eat during runs) and my usual money/ID/mobile phone/ziploc-bag combination.

I found running with the bag perfectly fine - next time I'll add the hydration bladder and about 500mLs of water. What went a little off was my (bad) tendency to run with the lights - even if they don't follow my planned route. Usually it doesn't matter, but I really should have stuck with the plan so that I would make Run Club in time.

I made it to Nike just as the last runners were leaving the store - I actually ran in, scrawled my name on the list as they told us off (there were a few latecomers), threw my bag into the bag storage area, and ran up to Hyde Park. I didn't bother stamping my t-shirt card (although some one else bothered - seriously, you're annoying them by being late, but you want your free t-shirt too!?!?!?) I should have had a honey shot in my pocket to eat while waiting at Hyde Park, but I didn't. So after 7km, I was going to do another 10km, knowing I would probably run out of running juice in my legs. :( Which I did.

Now I know long runs are meant to be slow - but I do like the Nike Run Club runs! So perhaps the running juice could have lastest with a slower pace... but I was already in the slowest pace group. I ran out of legs at about 8km, but I knew there was a water tap under Pyrmont Bridge. I figured I'd have a breather there, take on some fluids and hopefully hold on for the last 2km. I made it to the tap, had a drink, saw a 6'00" pace group tailender coming up and asked if he was going for the whole 10km (others had taken the stairs at Pyrmont Bridge as a shortcut), which he was and so I joined him. But I just continued to struggle - I spotted an exit point, told the guy I was completely out and made my own way back to Pitt St Mall, via stairs and the bottom of Market St. Exactly what tired legs want.

I did walk part of the way back - it was only the stairs and the first few steps up Market St... but I was a bummed about not making the whole 10km. Once I reached the first lights of Market St I bumped into the 5'30" pace group. Caught them again (although by cheating this week). They kicked once they turned the corner onto Pitt St, but I was happy to just jog along.

In the end, I'm not too unhappy about managing 15km without adding food - and I still almost covered 17km fron the run(s) - 20km if I include the morning's run in the new shoes. I also knew that was my last long run before the half, so that I wouldn't feel like that again until the half marathon!

Once I got home, I felt last week's nausea returning, this week including the post-run chills (something I am used to getting from long morning cycles). So this week I decided to start with miso soup as soon as I got home, then had a hot shower (and piled on layers of warm, dry clothes), made dinner (while googling reasons for extended post run nausea - found sugar depletion was probably the likely reason for mine), and had dinner while guzzling a bottle of lemonade I forgot I had. After a couple of hours everything returned to normal - I took off some of my layers, and I had zero nausea the next day. :)

Summary: 7.2km @ 6'35"/km and 9.6km @ 6'27"/km

New shoes!

I bought some new shoes on Saturday from The Running Company on Bondi Beach. I bought my old runners there two years ago, and really liked the store. Just like last time, I had my barefoot run on a treadmill recorded - while I overpronate a bit, it's not as bad as I thought (but still noticeable). I do land far on the outside of my foot, and moreso on my left, which was exactly what I thought. They had a look at my old shoes and noted the weirdish wear pattern I have from my outside to inside rolling, and decided it'd be best if I stuck to a neutral shoe.

While I may have felt that I needed more support, the more supportive shoes would push my feet out (to prevent excessive rolling in), but also make my landing worse over time as the shoes aged. I made sense, so I tried a few netural shoes on.

First up was the Saucony Triumph 10, which I instantly liked. The ankle cut/heel cup was lower than what I was used to with the Wave Ride, and made me feel exposed and worried about my ankles rolling! But they felt springy and far more stable at the front of the shoe than my 300km Wave Rider 14s (let's not even think about my retired 600km pair), they also felt good on the treadmill and the video showed that I was actually quite stable in them. And no heel slippage either, which I thought might happen with the lower cut!

We then tried the Asics Nimbus 14 - the second I stood up in them I found they were really firm, stiff and I felt like the heel was in the way. I haven't looked at the stats on the shoe, but it probably has a higher toe-heel differential than the Saucony pair. I tried them on the treadmill anyway, and while I was stable in them I felt like I really to fight to heel to made on my preferred mid-foot. That being said, if I was ridiculously tired or running downhill on concrete all the time, these shoes would be fabulous. The heel may have felt clunky and high, but I found that it would push down well when force was applied. The heel itself was not that stiff and firm - it had great cushioning, and if I was a heel-striking runner, I'd probably love those shoes.

Finally we tried the New Balance 890v3. My first impression was that they were really, REALLY lightweight. My second impression was that they fit more like my Wave Rider pairs, where the inside of my forefoot was slide/rotate inwards. We had a go on the treadmill, and while the heel didn't bother me, they didn't feel as good as the Asics or the Saucony pairs. The video also showed that I wasn't stable in them AT ALL, with a return of my collapsed arch/inward ankle rotation.

I ended up taking the Saucony pair home - although I will buy bright yellow laces when I see them as I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the pink (of which there really isn't much!)

I took the shoes for a spin on Monday morning - I needed to visit my desk at uni to pick up a few samples before going into the Manly lab later in the morning. I did take a slightly longer way to uni (otherwise it would have been less than 2km), and enjoyed being able to land on my forefoot downhill! No pain whatsoever - no impact and no inward ankles and knees! They felt fine uphill too :P

I know they have a narrower fit than the Wave Rider, but I have a habit of lacing the forefoot quite tightly (thanks to the Wave Rider), and this was too tight for this pair. Bearable for my short run, but something to be aware of next time I take them for a run.

Summary: 3.5km @ 5'46"/km

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

In the past week...

I went to my first Nike Sydney City Run Club, had my first serious bout of post-run nausea (it lasted 2 days), fell behind in my thesis writing (hence the lack of blogging), bought new shoes, and smashed my "official" 10km PB! Actually, it was an unofficial PB too, but I'm glad to be rid of my old official 10km PB. :)

Given how far south I am on Wednesdays, the only time I can make Nike Run Club is on Mondays - so last week I hopped onto the bus into the city, and joined the 6'00" pace group for a 12km tour of the Sydney city. Well, after 3km I was feeling very comfortable (so obviously I recovered well from my 18km long run the previous day), and when someone in the group made a run to catch the 5'30" group, I went with him!

After a couple of kilometres at the faster pace I decided that I would try to hold that pace for as much of the run as possible - it would be a great little hit out for Saturday's Nike She Runs 10km, and I could see if I could get used to my intended faster pace breathing rhythm. I managed to do this (although the final climb up from Darling Harbour was tough, especially with traffic lights breaking what little momentum you had). I only covered 10km in the end as the tailenders of the 5'30" group only covered 10km, and I had no idea where the 12km course went (aside from knowing it went into Pyrmont). Unfortunately Nike doesn't record my fastest times (only the fastest, which has since been beaten), so looking at my Strava records - I ran a 56:57 10km. I figured that with a faster first 3km, and the flatter Centennial Park course, I could break 55 on the weekend.

Unfortunately on Monday night I developed my worst case of post-run nausea. Tuesday was awful - struggled to get out of bed, and my energy was non-existant. I needed food for energy, but couldn't eat because of the nausea! Then came the migraine, so I shut all the curtains and lived a fairly dark Tuesday. It also meant I got ZERO work done on my thesis. :( I couldn't eat properly until Wednesday night (I snuck in a couple of slices of toast on Tuesday, and toast and a banana during the day on Wednesday), which had me a little worried about how I would feel on Saturday. I wanted that time! So on Thursday, I went for an easy run to Bondi Junction and back - I could still feel the nausea, but it wasn't putting me off. I figured it (and my appetite) would be OK by Saturday.

So Saturday - it was another great night organised by Nike. Last year's course was 13km, and only had 3000 entries. This year they cut it back to 10km (probably so that they would not have to block off as many roads) and had 6000 entries! I also recall that the start last year was a little different - yes, there were three waves (like this year), but they had sub-waves within each main wave to try and relieve the congestion. I didn't mind too much - I walked all the way until the start line (many had already started running), so that gave me a little space to get going. I had to do a bit of weaving here and there, but the only time I really got annoyed was at the top of the hill when people would just stop running and walk, with very little notice!

The other congestion points were drinking stations and corners. I avoided the first two drink stations - actually, I went all the way on the outside of the first one, as almost everyone came over the side I was running on and squeezing me out... hence that little bump on the course just before 2.5km. The first corner was chaos, which I expected and so intentionally took the course wide for at least the first 3km. I could hear trips and falls too, which I think could have been avoided if we had the sub-waves, as it would have eased congestion on that first corner.

Having the hill early helped to thin out the crowd - although, as I said earlier, it was annoying when people would just stop suddenly to walk. I do wish they'd just slow down earlier and maintain that pace, but perhaps that's what they always do on their runs... except there wouldn't be any crowds then! Once clear of the climbing (and the drink station), I was able to get into my intended breathing pattern and ran the next 4km at my fastest pace of the night.

I only checked my watch once during the run - at 5km, where my split was 26'12". This was faster than my parkrun PB (i.e. I had definitely gone hard once the field thinned), and was well under what I needed for a 55 minute 10km. While it was faster than what I would have liked, as there was a risk of completely losing it in the second half, I decided to approach it as "time in hand." I could run positive splits, and still get under 55!

The hard pace was definitely felt in my legs beginning to after 6.5km. I decided that the only way I could push through would be to take the next drink station, slow down, pick up my cup and walk until I had had enough water. It doesn't seem to show on the map above (there's no red near the last drink station location), but it's what I did, and it seemed to help... until the 2nd last kilometre. From afar, the 8km distance marker was a little obscured and looked like 9km (the last marker we had was 7km, and I felt as if I had run more than 1km since then). Of course, once I approached, I saw the 8km and was a bit demoralised. It was my slowest km of the race (except for the climb up Congestion Peak).

Once I saw the 9km marker, I picked up again and ran my last km in 5'03". :) I finished in 53'08" - well under 55 minutes, and while my second 5km was slower, it was still  under 27 minutes (and thus at least faster than my second-best parkrun time). Officially, my time was 53'06", which means I can get rid of my awful Run4Fun 10km of 2011 (67'47") - the only other time I entered a 10km race!

While a bit cold, the Inner West Joggers at the event met up after the race, and we had Mexican - which I have now decided is a fantastic post-run cuisine. Great run + good food with lovely people = fantastic night!

Summary: 10.3km @ 5'58"/km, 5.4km @ 6'57"/km, and 10km @ 5'16"/km

Milage for the week: 25.6km