Thursday, 4 June 2015

Farewell Fifty

As I sit here on the eve of my last day of being 50, I look back on the goals I set myself in the year of being Fun, Fit, Fab and Fifty.

I started with two goals - a half marathon and an Olympic Distance triathlon. 

Over time, a few more goals crept into the mix. 

I ended up completing not just one, but two half marathons, one in Sydney and one in Canberra. I doing so, it confirmed in my mind that running that sort of distance is not for me. I admire those that do it, and marathons, and kudos to them for having the mental and physical toughness to endure not just the race but the training. It's just not my cup of tea. 

In coming to this decision, I found my love of running. Up until this point, running was a means to an end, necessary to finish off a triathlon. I didn't really enjoy it, it was a struggle and I would procrastinate big time over training! Since I've decided to stick to 5 and 10km races, my times have improved! I now look forward to getting out to run. 

Goal number 2 - an Olympic Distance triathlon - twice the distance of a Sprint, 1.5km swim, 40km ride and 10km run. In the lead up I competed at Nepean in October (1/30/8) and Callala in December (1/30/7). I've found my favourite distance! At the moment it takes me longer to do this than a half marathon, but I enjoy it so much more! 

I also ran on the Gold Coast (a new 10k PB), in Canberra (new 10k PB again). Got close to my 90 goal for the City to Surf. A PB the Blackmores Bridge Run. I also finally entered the Triathlon NSW Club Championships (1/30/8), a distance a year before I wouldn't even consider. Not bad for an old girl who's only been running for four years!

Whilst I was hoping to have completed my 50th parkrun while I was still 50, I didn't quite make it! Oh well, only 4 to go!

Through it all I've had the same work/life pressures everyone else has. Exercise though helps me cope. It doesn't make your problems go away, but it does help you deal with them better!

I'm grateful for the support my family gives me, putting up with my crazy training schedule, and my wonderful 'gear bitch' hubby, who pours his exhausted wife in the car after the big races and drives me home, after taking photos, cheering me on and keeping me supplied with chocolate milk and cokes post race!

Whilst I mostly train alone, I do appreciate every 'like' on a photo, every comment, every kudos on Strava or thumbs up on Garmin. It just makes me feel that little bit less alone. 

Of course I couldn't have done it without my wonderful coach, who treats every athlete like an ironman, no matter what distance they want to do, or what level they are at. There is absolutely no pressure to aim for unachievable goals, just unwavering support. She's there to celebrate even the smallest achievement, and pick up the pieces when things don't go according to plan. Plus, she got me through a season without injury! How good is that!

Now to see what's in store for the next twelve months!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Standing Your Ground

In the scheme of things, I haven't been running long, only since 2011. My first event was the 4km in the Mothers Day Classic in May 2011 - and I thought I was going to die!

Fast forward to now, nearly the end of my fourth season of triathlons, two half marathons under my belt and countless 10km, 14km and other races under my belt. Who said I wasn't a runner?

Well, actually, I did!

I started doing triathlons because I didn't really like "just running". I like a bit of variety. So starting with a Women's Only triathlon run by Triathlon NSW in Penrith in October, 2011, I was hooked. I started small, with Enticers (250m swim/10km bike/2.5km run), with the aim of entering a Sprint distance by the end of the season. An injury put paid to that plan, but was up and running (so to speak) by the beginning of the next season. 

My first Sprint (750m swim/20km bike/5km run) took me nearly two hours - and I think I was last overall! By the end of the season though I'd managed to shave a bit off my time, and felt I was getting somewhere.

By the next season, I'd got myself a coach, and things started to look up! Set myself a goal of "Husky" Sprint in February 2014 as my A race for the season, and managed to smash all my targets! As I was turning 50 later that year, I set a few goals for myself. One of those was to complete a Half Marathon.

Lots of my fellow runners were doing them (well, pretty much everyone I knew) as well as Marathons, so it was getting harder and harder to resist. Just the one, I thought, just to see how I go. So with a goal time in mind of 2 hrs 20 mins, I set off, and completed it in 2:32:02. Well, not too bad I suppose.

Other goals for my "50" year were the Nepean Classic Tri and and Olympic Distance Tri. Absolutely loved Nepean in October, despite the fact it was blisteringly hot and I had a cold! Smashed the swim and the run and was on target for the run despite the relentless heat.
Finish of Wollongong Olympic Distance

In March I completed the Olympic Distance triathlon in Wollongong - and loved it! A distance that was challenging yet didn't smash me for days or weeks afterwards! Met or exceeded my goals for each leg, can't wait to do it again next year.
Canberra Half
Marathon 2015

After much deliberation I decided to enter the Canberra Half Marathon this year. I really wanted to satisfy a few things in my own mind about long distance running. Suffice to say, I was having a great run up until 10-14km, then the wheels fell off! Whilst I finished (the first miracle) in a semi-reasonable time (the second miracle) it just confirmed what I was thinking. That really I should stick to 10-15km runs, particularly if I want to keep enjoying what I am doing and want to stay active in sport for a lot longer.

Which brings me to the point of this blog.

Peer pressure.

It's not just the domain of teenagers.

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said I should/could/will do a half/marathon/ironman, I'd have enough money to pay for a race entry for one! Even when I explain my reasons for not wanting to do one, they still won't listen. "You can do one" they say. "Yes, I know I can" I reply, "but I DON'T WANT TO". You have to have the intrinsic desire to do these things, otherwise you are just kidding yourself and everyone around you. Not wanting to do longer distances is seen by some as a cop out, a weakness, that in order to achieve, you must undertake these super human feats of endurance.

I get that it's hard, I get that it takes as much mental toughness as physical toughness, but you know, for some of us, it takes just as much mental toughness to complete 10km as it does to complete 42.2km. We shouldn't be treating anyone any differently because of how far they run. Running ANY distance is bloody hard work. Celebrate every achievement, whether it is running 1km non stop for the first time, or running your fastest 10km!

I train to keep fit. I train for my mental health. Honestly, it has kept me very sane over the last few months - as I said to a friend recently, my running has improved a lot lately, I've hardly missed a training session! I don't want training to take over my life though. There needs to be balance.

Most of all you need to be honest with yourself. Why are you doing this? What do you want to get out of it? Are you doing it for yourself? Are you doing it for other people? How long do you want to keep doing what you are doing? How far will you go? You need to be realistic too. I can't ever hope to achieve even what others my age may be achieving due to length of time in the sport and mere physical characteristics. No matter how hard I train, I may never run a 20min 5km - and I'm okay with that!

It's not easy staying true to yourself. It takes a lot of hard work. It sometimes means you have to go it alone - it is easier to "go with the pack". I've seen too many people doing things that don't really want to do though. Stay true to yourself, and ultimately, it will be a lot more enjoyable!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Who Am I and What Makes Me Think I'm An Expert?

Like a lot of women, particularly mothers, I spent years putting myself last. I paid scant attention to my health and fitness, focusing on work and family. There seemed little time and energy left for anything else.

In 2010 I had a brain snap moment. I was 46 years old, and tired of being - well, tired! I heard about an online study the CSIRO were doing for their Total Wellbeing Diet and the rest, as they say, is history! Six months and 25 kgs or so later, a new me was born!

I became a gym junkie and took up running. Running was doing my head in,  I started utilising my long time love of cycling and swimming and tentatively entered my first triathlon - and was hooked! Four seasons later, I am about to compete in my first Olympic Distance Triathlon - 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride, 10km run. Something I would not have dreamed possible five years ago.

Now it hasn't all been plain sailing. There's been plenty of challenges along the way. Life is just that, life, and it throws you a curve ball every now and again! I like to think I'm getting a lot better at hitting those curve balls!

I don't pretend to be an expert - I just know what has worked for me. Everyone is different, there is no 'one size fits all' solution to health and fitness. You need to find what works FOR YOU!