Friday, August 4, 2017

Elvis Has Left The Building

After much (well, some) deliberation, I've decided to finish up here.  Those of you who still read will have noticed the decline in frequency & enthusiasm in my posts.  

To be honest, I'm finding it a bit of a chore to do it properly & frankly, I'd rather be out & about running in the limited spare time I have!  

I was hoping to make it through to my 10 year blogiversary later this year, but this morning I realized that dragging it out until then was dragging me down.  It's time to set myself free!  

So. I would like to thank everyone who has stopped by: both those who participated via commenting & those who remain anonymous:

The support I've received here has been wonderful!!!  The friendships I've made here have transcended blogging, some into real life, others via other web based media & I am truly thankful for them all.  

All good things come to their natural conclusion & I look forward to what lays ahead.

I'll continue to check in on those of you who still blog (what else would I do in my lunch break!) & am on the interwebs on instagram @alleycat1970 & from there you can follow me to facebook if you wish.

Exist stage left..........

Friday, July 14, 2017

Were Does The Time Go??

I just can't keep up lately!!!!  Don't seem to have enough time to blog, to train as much as I'd like, or get on top of the laundry, or work!!!!  As I tell Tuxedo my cat every morning, sorry mate, I can't stay & play, I have to get back onto the hamster wheel!!!!

Anyhoo.  I did make time to do something recently, but let me set the scene first 😊

Those of you who know me in real life know that Plumbing Boy is into dirt bikes; so much in fact over the past 10 years that I've been know to call myself a dirt bike widow on weekends while he's off gallivanting on his dirt bike with nae a care for his better half.

He's never been interested in riding on the road, however a lot of his mates are getting into adventure biking (as far as I can tell its a cross between dirt bike riding & road riding), as the degree of difficulty in the dirt biking style they like to do & the potential for injury is getting a bit much for some of his crew.

When my cousin who has headed off  oversea's indefinitely asked him if we could baby sit her road bike & take it for a ride from time to time, he reluctantly agreed, saying it wasn't really his thing.  She bought it over & it's been hanging out in our carport for almost 3 months.  Until last weekend, when I took it for a spin.

Somehow I managed to agree to getting my motor bike learners, if my cousin agreed to getting her advanced open water scuba ticket!!!  

In Australia, the process for getting your bike licence has changed recently & I went on a 2 day course.  I haven't grown up riding dirt bikes - even though I was on a farm, we only had 3 & 4 wheelers by the time I was old enough to ride.  I have had a go on a dirt bike, but wasn't overly confident & attended the course with an open mind hoping that the instructor would teach me to ride.  My cuz said it was a pretty cruizy course & lots of fun.

Hmmm.  Day 1 was both practical & theory; at the end of the day we had to sit the written test, which I passed no problem.  The practical though was another matter.  I was very very nervous & struggled with taking off without stalling & coming to a gentle stop without stalling!  

Slept terribly that night knowing the practical was the following day & that I was even less confident after day 1 than I was prior!  Day 2 was more practical & while I was doing well in 2nd gear & doing the required swerving at speed & acing the emergency stopping, I still struggled while taking off & coming to a smooth confident stop without putting my feet down &/or stalling the bike. 

The instructor did not put me at ease & instead of helping me decided shouting at me that I wasn't listening to him would help.  It did not help nor improve matters.  I wasn't the only one he yelled at by the way; but it was pretty horrible.

Finally it was time for the practical test.  I took out a witches cone in the first 2 minutes & stalled the bike. Then managed to stall it 2 more times over the next 30 seconds so it was all over red rover for me.  

I had to wait while the others all attempted the test; we ended up with 4 passes & 2 fails overall.  Myself & the guy who also failed were excused & the others had to go on & do an on road assessment.  No idea if they all passed or not but I hope so.

The course is structured so that if you fail you can come back as many times as you need to pass (although my sister said if I failed 3 times then perhaps it would be time to face the fact that motorbike riding just wasn't for me LOL).  

I had 2 options; repeat the Sunday in 2 weeks or wait 5 as I was going away for a running event on the Gold Coast at the end of the month.  I figured sooner was better than later - get back on the horse, strike while the iron is hot etc etc.

I considered having a private lesson, but there were none available after hours.  EEEK.  PB to the rescue - he borrowed a kids/teenagers dirt bike & arranged a place close by where I could practice.  I was so stressed out that he was going to teach me bad habits that would fail me - don't worry, he tried!!!  

So we went for a practice for a few hours on the Sunday the weekend before my repeat & I was still not great; then again on the day before the repeat where I finally managed to start & stop without too much effort.  I had to apply driving my car to riding the bike I guess.  The instructor taught us to brake & then pull the clutch in at the last minute as you are coming to a stop.  When I drive I tend to do this in reverse, clutch goes in & then I come to a slow stop using the brake.

Using this method, I already had the clutch in so couldn't really stall it.  Then PB reinforced the need on a bike to ride the clutch as you take off (you wont damage a bike, unlike the car) - you don't let it all the way out until you have both feet comfortably on the pegs!

Sunday arrived & I wasn't sure if I would be pleased to see the same instructor - to have at least one friendly face if I was going to be joining a group who'd spent the previous day together - or not. 

Thankfully I had a different instructor who was just lovely both in the class room & out on the range.  He was so encouraging & if we didn't get something right or he could see we were feeling uncomfortable, he'd take us aside & have a quite chat while everyone else kept practising what ever we were doing.

The group were fantastic too - it really helped that there were 2 other girls doing the course & they were super friendly & welcoming; made me feel like I was part of the group.  

After 3.5 hours out on the practice range it was time again to do the practical exam.  I volunteered to go first, explaining that if I was going to fail in spectacular fashion for the 2nd time, I'd rather get it over & done with.  

No one else wanted to go first so off I went with the instructor while the rest of the group sorted out their order (first time around we didn't have a choice, we were told what order to do it in).  Thankfully I passed with flying colours.  

I had one safety item (forgot 1 head check) & that was it.  The rest of the group did their test, 2 out of 3 guys failed (all on safely items - they were really good riders too), 1 guy & the other two girls passed which meant we had 4 left for the on road assessment.

We did a couple of laps of the practice range to make sure everyone could change up into 3rd & 4th gear (the rest of the course is done in 1st & 2nd) & then followed the instructor out onto the main road into a 70km per hour speed zone & traffic!!  Yikes!

Down the main road & into a small housing estate & we had to take it in turns of leading the pack firstly anti clock wise (all left hand turns) then clock wise (all right hand turns) around a big block while the instructor marked us on our skills (indicating, checking for traffic, riding position on the road, adjusting riding position on the road when confronted with traffic or other hazards etc).  

Thankfully we all passed & once the paper work was completed, we were free to go & ride a bike if we had one, displaying L plates & wearing a bright yellow or orange safety vest as is the new requirement for at least the next 3 months!

I was so relieved.  This is possibly one of the most stressful things I have every done.  I was a nervous wreck I tells you!  Fast forward a couple of weeks as I had my trip to the Gold Coast the weekend after the resit & I finally had time to go for my first official ride.  

PB came with me to make sure I was OK.  My cousin's bike is 400 & the ones we used in the course were 125's so is heaps heavier & I was apprehensive for the first 5 minutes, but she did tell me it is super easy to ride & of course she was right! 

We putted around a small industrial estate 1/2 a km from home first so I could practice turning left & right; indicating; coming to stop at stop signs; giving way at give way signs & generally getting comfortable on the bike with not to much traffic.  

We set off at 7am & it was 6 degrees.  I froze!!!  Had to pull over after 30 minutes & defrost my fingers on the engine/exhaust air!  Finally  the sun came out & I was a bit warmer, so we left the industrial estate for a more main road & headed into Williamstown via the beach road for coffee!  

After coffee we rode a bit more around Williamstown & then back home safely.  Rode for 2.5 hours with a 20 minute coffee stop.  So there you have it.  One more thing for me to lose time (& money) on!!!!  Thankfully I fit into my cousins jacket, helmet & gloves.  Had to purchase some Kevlar jeans to get me started & I'm still wearing my hiking boots until I decide what boots to get.

Oh, & what was PB riding around town on with me? Surely not his beloved dirt bike?? No.  Sometime while I was booking & doing my course he managed to buy himself an adventure bike (the guy he bought it from's wife was having a baby & they needed the funds, so of course he had to help him out by taking the bike off his hands).  It would seem if you cant beat them, join them!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Great Ocean Road Marathon Official Photo's

Official Photo's ahead!  Read yesterday's post for a recap of the event.  The photographer's did a great job this year - they captured a heap of images of me & I actually like a lot of them!  Despite the difficulties along the way I actually look happy in a lot of these LOL!

Support crew riding with me for the last couple of kms.....

Just about to cross the timing mat under the finishing line..

And we're done!

 These pictures make me happy & I feel really proud of achieving what I set out to do.  It's been a while since I've felt that.  Not sure why, but it is what it is.  NEXT!!!!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Great Ocean Road Marathon 2017

Yesterday I ran my 3rd Great Ocean Road Marathon (4th Marathon all up).  Sort of Technically I've run 1 marathon & 3 ultra marathons because anything over 42.2 is considered an ultra, however I'm not sure those who ran the 60km ultra or those who do 100+km Ultra Marathons would feel the same way, so I'll go with 4 Mara's.

We drove down the coast on Friday night in time for a parma at the pub for dinner & an early night.  Saturday morning we went for a walk along the beach to keep our legs turning over & amuse Trixie.

A kite festival was on the go in town also this year.

I was lucky to have my friend M running the half marathon - (23km event) & stayed with us.  We were able to enjoy all the running things together & take our minds off the task to come.  M had run 2 half marathons before @ 21.1kms so this was to be her furthest distance ever!

We went had a look at the running expo & saw the kids 1.5, 6km & 14km events in progress & cheered on some runners.

Caught up with Carol, but she has the picture!!  Had a wander around the shops before calling it quits & heading back to our accommodation to put our feet up for the rest of the day & continue our carb & hydration loading!

The forecast was for a top of 19 degrees & did not disappoint!  M & I walked down to the bus queue at 6am & were promptly driven to our respective events.  I had a bit more of a snooze on the bus (must have been pretty calm) & watched the sun rise over the ocean.

I didn't really feel any nerves until a couple of minutes before the starting gun went off, but was able to reign in my galloping mind.  I hadn't prepared as well as I could have (lack of strength work in the gym), my long runs weren't great in the lead up, I had both knees strapped as I'd had ITB issues on both sides & my right upper hamstring has been niggly also.  That said, I wasn't going for a time, definitely was not looking for a personal best & had given myself permission to walk as much as I needed to, to get the job done.

As I said the morning was beautiful & for a change I wasn't too cold.  For those who don't know I suffer from Raynauds Phenomenen which makes cold starts hard for me.  Last year my feet were ice blocks until 6kms & the pins & needles didn't subside until 10kms.  This year I used more of these (hand held air activated heat packs) than usual & rubber banded them to the top of my runners!
I use the hand ones regularly but hadn't used them on my feet before.  I copped a few funny looks & was asked by a couple of runners what I had on my shoes.  Quite funny!  I kept my warm jumper & track pants on until 2 minutes before the starting gun went off & tossed my feet warmers in the bin at the same time as I ditched my warm clothes.  This made a huge difference to my start!  I kept the hand held ones until 3kms in & then handed them to a volunteer - hope she enjoyed them!

 I took a picture at 11kms to let Plumbing Boy know how I was travelling.  Usually I don't message him at all, but because the pressure was off, decided to keep him posted so he'd know when to come & meet me for the last couple of kms.  The guys stretching in this picture finished just ahead of me & another lady who I was running with.  We entertained ourselves overtaking each other towards the the end of the run.  

The conditions as I said earlier were just beautiful.   A bit of a breeze but overcast until the 35km mark.  This was taken on a walk break @ around 15kms looking back towards Lorne.

I ran through the place my cousin got married in last month so had to take a photo to send to his sister who exclaimed what are you doing there!  My reply was the above picture of me running!  She's off on an overseas adventure & had forgotten it was race day, so I received a few messages of encouragement from her over the next couple of hours.

I'd updated PB at the half way mark, replying to his how are you feeling with "OK.  A long way to go yet.  Knees so far so good, right hammie grumpy".  Not long after this I decided to adopt the running approach of a couple in front of me: the Galloway Method.   This involves timed walk breaks & they were running 1km then walking 1 minute (excluding downhills, which you run the whole way).  

I caught up to them & eventually we were both walking at the same time & same place so said hello & confessed I'd been copying them & thanked them!  I ran with Kelly for the next 5kms, then continued without her as she decided to wait for her buddy who was struggling.

Before I knew it we were at the 30km mark!  Not long to go now.  I'd had a couple of messages from other friends & my niece so kept them posted on my progression.  Kelly over took me around 35kms, she'd decided to go on without her buddy as he couldn't maintain the pace.  

I was really looking forward to seeing PB at the 39km mark but wasn't too upset to find he wasn't there yet.  As I'd been in contact with him I knew he wouldn't be far away.  

Spotted him just after this!  I could see Kelly up ahead & had made up some ground on her as she tiring & was telling PB about meeting her - he told me to push hard up the last little hill & that I could catch her.  He's good at these tactic's getting me to run when all I want to do is walk LOL.  
I agreed to keep running til the 42.2 (marathon time) timing mat without stopping (probably 1.5kms - I had been taking walk breaks after every km).  Ran over the mat & kept going because Kelly was only 50 metres ahead & I wanted to say hi!

We ran the last 2.7 together playing cat & mouse with the boys in the first running picture - they walked & we'd run past; we'd walk & they would run past etc.  We were each heckling each other & PB was heckling us all!  They did beat us over the finish line in the end, but that was OK, we all helped each other get to the finish line!

We were just so happy to be done!  It was Kelly's first marathon & to be honest she kept me going!  I was really struggling at the half way mark & without her technique & chat along the way I certainly would have taken much longer to finish & walked a fair part of the back end.  

I'd told my parents I expected to be finished between 1 & 1.30pm so they had only just gotten down to the finish line!  Mum saw me after I'd run over the finish line & Dad missed me altogether which is a shame for them, but they saw me last year, so all good.  I got in 5 minutes ahead of my estimated time.  Found M & we climbed the steps up onto the stage for our podium finishing shots!  

I came 21st in my age category, was the 193rd female finisher & 641 finisher overall out of a field of 957. Finishing time was 4.55.49 which was an improvement over last year, but not as good as the first crack!

Last year I was in the same category (45 - 49 age group) & came 30th; 228th female finisher & was finished 702 overall (not sure how many competitors) with a finishing time of 5.04.45.  Year before I was in the 40 - 44 age group, came 31st, 127th & 608th overall with a finish time of 4.21.41

I spent 20 minutes standing in the ocean to help with the recovery after podium photos & actually slept reasonably well last night after a hot bath, a good lather of fisocream & a couple of panadol (& maybe a glass or 2 of Champagne) & have been able to spend some time standing at my work station today (past 2 years I've had to sit all day!!)!!

I think I'm done with this event for a while; might be time to try something else :-) 

Official pictures to follow when I get them.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Playing Catch Up

I feel like I've been playing catch up since we came back from holidays, but with limited success!  First was the boring housekeeping stuff, like work & laundry; then by the first weekend home both Plumbing Boy & I had colds & were pretty much snot machines.  By the time the following weekend rolled around we were on the mend but still not great, but went away as planned for my cousin's wedding! 

It was on the South coast of Victoria along the Great Ocean Road & yes, I will be running through there in a few weeks when it's time for my next marathon!

Us cousins stayed in a house with a fab balcony & view & not much sleep was had for the weekend while we caught up, coming from WA, NSW & Victoria for a fabulous weekend.  I lost my voice completely by the end & we both headed home a little worse for wear.

Next on the agenda was Easter, which we spent still recovering from our colds & time away.  PB went away overnight dirt biking with friends - he'd be having withdrawals.  I visited with my dear friend & her 8 month old in Geelong for one night & hung out with my 4 legged friends & caught up on domestic chores for the rest of the long weekend.

This one went from Miniature Sheepdog to Miniature Schnauzer after a trip to the groomers & came home sporting a cute bandanna!  

We were away the weekend just gone for another friends 50th in the Victorian Alps.  Such a beautiful time of year to visit with the autumnal colours.  Also caught up with family who live their too!  Bonus!

Great Ocean Road Marathon training has continued despite the time away & being sick; & I really was considering downgrading to the half distance a couple of weeks ago when my attempt at 28kms was so damn hard!!!  Fast forward 2 weeks & I had 32 - 34 on my run plan.  To be honest I didn't think I'd be able to make it to 32 however the stars aligned & with 10 to go I was considering running an extra km & with 4kms to go it was a done deal.  With 33kms under my belt I am feeling like I can make the distance without curling up in the foetal position & crying like a baby in the back half!!! 

Ran 16 in the rain yesterday morning before work & have my last long run next Thursday @ 36 - 38kms.  I've run 38 prior to both previous attempts at this event.  I'm going to aim for 37 & we'll see how I go.  My dodgy (ITB) knee has held up well via taping for any distance greater than 16kms & while I have a few niggles I'm keeping them at bay for now.  Just a few weeks to go & my body can have a rest.  

I've actually started back at gym & personal training as I am pretty sure that all the niggles I have developed are down to hip instability - which means I need to actually do strength work, not think or talk about doing it.  

I signed up for the Melbourne Marathon earlier this year as I have a few friends who are doing it for the first time.  I've never run 2 marathons in one year before, but am really looking forward to putting the strength work to work, & see if I can resolve the niggles & get some speed back & make a success out of the event.  Watch this space!!  

I'll leave you with a few pictures from my morning long runs.  Love seeing the sunrise & wildlife along my urban trails & waterways!

Lastly, a couple of recovery pic's - I'm back to standing in the ocean for 20 minutes after a long run to help my legs recover & then donning my fab new 2XU recovery tights! 

 Hope you all have an ACE weekend wherever you are & what ever you do!!!