The Blonde Runs

an American girl living in Australia


3 Comments

…fun running in Oz with race plans

A while back (aka, the last time I blogged), I mentioned that I needed a season to just run for fun.  After some serious training cycles in the previous 12 months, getting married, and moving Down Under, I just haven’t felt much motivation to pick a goal race and train my heart out.  Granted, there are plenty of days I simply feel a bit “lost” without a training plan.  But I am trying to ignore that feeling and continue with what I know is truly best for my mind and body right now.

I have really been enjoying getting to know Canberra on foot.  It is small enough of a city, that I’ve plotted out several “run tours” in the past weeks that have taken me around to some iconic locations:  Parliament House, the Embassies, Royal Australian Mint, National Museum of Australia, National War Memorial, as well as summiting Red Hill and Mount Ainslie multiple times.

Parliament

Most recently, I have been running with a group who has taken me off the beaten path and onto some true Canberra trails/tracks for what feels often like authentic Cross Country running.  We’re talking dirt, hills, through paddocks and herds of cows, half dozen fence crossings, through brambles and drainage pipes, with heaps of kangaroo sightings and views for miles.  These are the runs I live for.  And while it’s all for this group’s training for an upcoming 101k relay race, that seems to double as orienteering, I am happy to join in on these somewhat random point-to-point runs.

The Valley

 

Mount Taylor

And then I was asked to join one of the teams.

Always up for an adventure, I naturally said yes.  I think almost immediately.  It will fit in nicely with the other 2 races I’ve signed up for in September…

The Sydney Half, 21 September, was the original “fun run” race that I registered Nick and I for nearly a month ago.  As Nick’s 3rd half marathon, and scenic views (including, running over the Sydney Harbour Bridge), as well as running with the FiveMore team (Oiselle reseller in Sydney), we want to just enjoy this 13.1 miler for all that it will be.  No racing.

Then, on 7 September, I registered Nick and I for the Canberra Times Fun Run 10k.  And with “fun run” in the name, we can’t really take it too seriously, right?  This 10k was intended to be a little tune-up before the Sydney Half.  No racing.

So, along comes the invitation to run a trail relay on 28 September, 23k (14ish miles?) and how can I possibly say no?  I wouldn’t dare.  And this will be a race to remember, as it doubles as orienteering!  Whether intentional or not.  My leg of the race, Leg 4, has nearly TWO pages of typed out directions for the route.  Here is an example of the said directions:

At the track split near Madigan St (0.62) take the left hand fork closest to Phillip Ave, and continue straight ahead up past a yellow pole (0.82), across a path (0.92; at Kellaway St) and 30m later turn left at the green Nature Park gate (0.95) to join a track heading past the Kellaway St Car Park.

Here’s another:

From the Trig, retrace your steps back down through the gate (6.63) to head back the way you came but this time continue straight ahead down the ridgeline past (7.48) the point where you originally joined it. It quickly narrows to ST and then descends through a series of zigzags: zig left (7.92), zag right (8.04), zig left (8.33), zag right (8.49), through metal stile (8.51), becomes sealed with some steps (8.82).

Yeah.  I’m pretty sure those are kilometer markings, and NOT mile markings.  So, I’m naturally going to mess this up, just based on that.  Not to mention all of the zigging, zagging, retracing of steps, and yellow poles that I could miss.  I best run this prior to the actual race.  I’d hate to be the American girl who can’t hold her own on the Aussie tracks.

But overall the lack of pressure I am putting on myself for these “races” is so delicious, I can nearly taste it.  At least, I think.  I hope.  I suppose this is how you fun run and still make race plans.  Because how can you move internationally and NOT run in the local races?!

XO,


4 Comments

…new tracks and Aussie wildlife

I’ve officially been living Down Under for about a MONTH now.

canberra_location

Where did the time go? Well, from settling in, to a couple of weekend trips, learning to navigate public transportation, walk on the left side of the sidewalk and store aisles, order a Long Black or a Flat White, switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius, and other foreign measurements, try to understand all the tricky Aussie slang, this-that-and-the-other, here we are!

As I’ve casually mentioned before, it’s winter. But not Colorado winter. No snow. No sub-0 degree mornings (back on the Fahrenheit scale here). Just 40’s and 50’s with some wind and some rain. Mostly tolerable, especially since we are now on the upswing to Spring. September 1. Or is it 1 September? Regardless, no Solsticing here. And I’m counting the days to Spring.

I am happy to say that running has been feeling much better. After several runs with aches, pains, and just generally feeling not awesome, I think I can finally say I’ve worked out some of those kinks. I like when running feels more fluid. Still not up for any intense training, but at least each run is back to a relative comfort level.

Exploring local running “tracks” has been the most exciting! Last week, I ran a trail less than 2 miles from my house, and came across some wildlife that I realized I was completely inept in regards to my defense tactics: Kangaroos. Now, I should know exactly what to do when I come across bear, coyote, elk, deer, moose, mountain lion, etc. Running ANY trail in Colorado could put you face-to-face with one of these creatures, and you better know what to do! So, when I came across an entire mob of kangaroo, some a mere handful of yards away, some right on the running track, just staring at me, I was at a complete loss.

IMG_7873

Do I find two sticks, clap them together, and make a lot of noise? Do I make myself as big as I can? Do I climb a eucalyptus tree? Do I back away slowly, silently? Do I play dead? Do I crouch under a group of trees, up on my toes, and make like a ball? No…that’s for lightening storms.

So, I did what anyone would do. I took out my phone and started taking heaps of pictures. All the while exclaiming under my breath, “No way,” “Unbelievable,” “Ohmygosh,” and the like.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

I spotted a local walking on the trail coming toward me, so I thought I’d take a cue from him as I continued to take pictures. They clearly didn’t faze him at all, as he continued to walk, seemingly without notice of so many, so close.

I eagerly admitted my ignorance by asking right away, “Will they attack?” Hoping my American accent would justify my stupid question.

As if reading my mind, the first thing he asked was, “Where are you from?” Satisfied with my answer (“The States”) he said, they won’t attack unless they are cornered; which clearly they weren’t in that position on the top of Red Hill. They will typically just retreat as you approach. Shy creatures.

I moved on, discovering more as I ran. These looked ridiculously fake. As if they had been stuffed and placed on the track.

IMG_7871

While probably not a big deal to Aussies, as they see kangaroo frequently, my mind is completely blown!

XO,


5 Comments

…a visit to Five More and Sydney

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to take an early peek at a new activewear/lifestyle clothing store opening in the Paddington suburb of Sydney, Australia. Paddington, in and of itself, is chic and trendy, with Victorian-clad shop fronts featuring boutiques, cafes, art galleries, and wine. And its’ bustling Oxford Street is the ideal place for Five More to set up a brick and mortar (originally an online-only store). I met with the lovely Catherine, the brain behind the boutique, as she was putting the final touches on her beautiful space.

Of course, Five More sells a brand that is near and dear to my heart: Oiselle. And I loved hearing Catherine talk about how well this US-based brand is doing in Australia.

Catherine dressed all of her window store-front dollies from head to toe in Oiselle. What a sight!

FiveMore

I am excited for Five More and all of their potential, as well as that of Oiselle in a relatively untapped area.

Afterwards, Nick and I did some Sydney touristy things:

Sydney Opera House
IMG_7701

Sydney Harbour Bridge
IMG_7696

Bondi Beach
IMG_7724

XO,


2 Comments

…not always a bed of roses

We made it to Australia!

IMG_7692

And it’s winter.  But it’s lovely anyway!

After about 3 weeks of casual non-running, due to race recovery, wedding, honeymoon, and moving internationally, I am finally back at it.  While I’m coming back slow and easy, I’m reminded that running is not always a bed of roses.

I don’t always PR, I don’t always have the greatest of runs, I don’t always want to go for a run.

And even though I’ve missed running, this first week or so “back” has been more like a bed of thorns.  I have felt pain during every run in one shape or form:  upper back, lower back, heels, calves, quads, hip flexors.  Not all of them in one run, but sometimes 1-2 in every run.  I just don’t feel fluid or at ease in running right now.  I don’t like it.

While even these small runs are gratifying and make me realize how much I miss it when I step away for a bit, it’s been a struggle for me to accept that this past week and a half has been so painful and achy.

I feel like I’ve been training a lot in these past 12 months.  I have put in about 10 races in total.  It really isn’t much when you think about it.  Sometimes I run 2 races in a month, and then not race for 2-3 months.  But the quality I am going for in every race is substantial.  Aside from one race (Leadville), I have approached the other 9 races competitively.  At least competing with myself and my own PR’s.  I’ve proudly added a 5k, 10k, and half marathon PR to my stats list this year, and competed in 2 new distances, which automatically allows me 2 new PR’s!  Not to mention experimenting with trail running/racing, which is a totally different ball game.  And when I think about the quality of training that comes with each of those PR’s and each of those new distances, some on new terrain, I know I’ve asked a lot of myself in the past year.

So, perhaps now is my season of rest and enjoyment.  Not to rest from running, but to rest from racing.  Don’t get me wrong, I have several “races” I’m looking at here in the local area between now and December, but I’m not sure I should approach them competitively, backed with intense training.

That’s really hard for me to read back to myself and actually accept!  But I think it’s the right thing for my body.

My goal is to run and be active for as long as I can. Continually training and competitively racing isn’t going to allow for that.

I will know when it’s the right time to switch gears and start training again.  For all I know, it could even be in the next few weeks!  But for now, this is how I’m feeling and this is where I’m at.

XO,


 


10 Comments

…OUR WEDDING

WE GOT MARRIED!

It all happened a few weeks ago in a small Colorado mountain town. Our family and closest friends, many coming from out-of-state, were in attendance. We were grateful and overjoyed to have so many, come from near and far, to celebrate with us!  It was truly everything we wanted and had hoped for; the perfect day, the perfect weekend.  I am blessed beyond measure and I know I’ll love him until my last breath…

IMG_7567

XO,

 


10 Comments

…Leadville Trail Marathon

I’m all settled in Canberra now, so it’s high time I get back on this blog-wagon!

I have to play some catch-up with a very real, very serious marathon I ran nearly a month ago…

When I was considering my Colorado race schedule early this year, knowing full well I’d be moving out of the country in June, I had this wild idea to run the Leadville full marathon as my send-off race. I considered it a “goodbye gift” to myself before heading off for foreign lands. Interestingly enough, the majority of my training would fall in the three months Nick would already be in AUS (he had to start work in April) and the marathon would fall the weekend before our wedding.

At the time, all of this seemed SO well planned. I would have uninterrupted training time and I would be in fit shape for the wedding! And yes, I did have uninterrupted training time. But I was so consumed with finalizing wedding plans, finishing my school year, packing up my classroom, packing up our apartment, and preparing to leave the country, that my mind was in a million different places. Constantly. Scattered. And my heart was in Australia with Nick.

Despite all of my distractions, I did stick with my training plan; I just didn’t get the mountain/elevation workouts that I had hoped for. I had run the Heavy Half in 2012, and I knew what would be expected of me. X2. So, I was uncertain how I would fare once on the course. A course that had to be rerouted due to snowpack still on the mountain. A course that once rerouted, increased in difficulty. Good thing I knew about that after-the-fact!

Original course profile:
Leadville-Trail-Marathon-Course-Profile

But, this was a race to be run. Not to be raced.

If you know anything about Leadville, CO, you know that it’s a historic mining town in the Rocky Mountains, that it is the host town of a huge run/bike series in the summer, and that it is situated about about 10,100 feet elevation. And the race course just goes up from there, capping out at just over 13,000 feet. So, I started slow. I paid attention to my body, yet also others around me, getting subconscious tips from them, and stopping at every aid station. I felt that with the elevation, combined with the distance, I needed to ensure that I was fueling, despite the time cost. I race enough with time constraints placed on myself, so this was a nice interruption from my usual MO.

During the first half of the course, I really wasn’t feeling the high elevation. My lungs didn’t feel any different than they normally would when running in the mountains. There was a lot of climbing/hiking, but I took it in stride, knowing that hiking up the mountains was just as efficient as running. Or more. For me.

This was the view on my way up Mosquito Pass (the second and main climb on the profile above):

IMG_7475

A very windy climb to the 13,185 foot summit of Mosquito Pass and despite the smile, I was freezing!

IMG_7484

I felt great on the way back down for my second half of the course. I was still keeping it easy. Drinking a lot of fluid. Eating what I needed to. Taking in the scenery. I was blessed enough to have Nick there, who had arrived into town the night before; he would be there to support me from beginning to end. Oh how I had missed him… Nick and Chase showed up around mile 17. It was so great to see them at that point! When I was tired, the hardest part was done, and I just needed a little boost to get me through the rest of the race.

But those final 9 miles were harder than expected. More climbing, combined with my trashed legs, presented a true challenge. This race was not for the faint of heart. I think I had to dig the deepest in these final miles. Not because I wanted to stop, but because I wanted to finish.

I ran the downhills, hiked the climbs, and cried a few tears as I rounded the corner to 6th street in downtown Leadville, that would take me to my red carpet finish.

IMG_7490

Time: 6:39:15
Overall: 272/435
Female: 57/103
AG: 19/34

It was done. I had earned my mug and medal. But the best part of all, was having Nick back in town to be my cheer squad.

IMG_7491

After this, it was all wedding business.

XO,

 


4 Comments

…I did it again. (Bolder Boulder 10k recap)

PR’d again, that is!

Sure, it was only by 24 seconds, but a PR is a PR.

I ran my usual 10k. I ran it at the usual last minute. Seriously, there is only ONE other 10k I have EVER run. And I actually love running this one over and over because I can compare my times each year on a solid, consistent course. The only thing that changes is me.

This year, I told myself not to worry too much about the race and my pace. I had signed up a few days prior, not even getting into the wave I qualified for (AA) because those bibs ran out; so I was bumped down a wave (AB). Yes, it’s a talking point. Yes, the wave you run in is a prestigious thing. Probably only to me, though. I had also run a decent hill workout Saturday and a tempo run on Sunday. My legs were mushy. And they HAD been mushy most of the week due to so other hill workouts.

Why all the hill workouts? Training for this itty bitty race in a few weeks.

I met up with Courtney, from Runners Roost, and my Oiselle teammate Laura at the start. As we chatted, I didn’t even have time to overthink the race or get nervous. So, I decided I would attempt the pace I needed to PR for the first couple of miles and go from there.

CandRebekah

Aaaaaaannnnnnnddddddd….it worked. Granted, my legs felt like they wanted to fall off around mile 3.5. The good news was that the couple of hills in this race felt like nothing. Typically, they are impacting enough for me to notice. Not this time!

It was your usual Bolder Boulder. Local bands. Local entertainment. Every kilometer is marked with a huge banner, so I just counted them down to get me through the race. Not that I wanted it to be over, but because I am notorious for counting down to everything!

Time: 42:09
AG Place: 6th out of 591
Female Place: 98 out of 24778
Overall Place: 825 out of 52000(ish)

And here are some other fun facts, provided by my brother’s wife’s sister.
Top 1.8% of all runners
Top .3% of all female runners
Top 1% of my division

After the race, I met up with my Oiselle teammates (there were 4 of us who raced) for some photos, expoing, and viewing the elite race. I realized this would be my last team race where the CO Oiselle girls and I would be meeting up. It made me sad to say goodbye to them, but I know I will see them all again!

Laura, Me, Lisa
OiselleMuscles

Bret, Me, Jess, Laura, Lisa
OiselleTeam

Shalane Flanigan, pushing to the finish (she was 2nd)
ShalaneFlanigan

Overall a good race, a good day.

Is this the year of the PR?! At least for the 5k, 10k, and half it is! I am not holding my breath for the Leadville Marathon… :)

XO,

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 853 other followers