Watching a runner bloom

One day a few years back someone asked me if they could come along to our next 5km fun run.  They liked to run but had never been in a fun run and they were feeling a bit shy.  Of course! I said.  And along she came.

Then she asked if she could come to another fun run.  Of course! I said.  And along she came to that too.

Cadbury Half Marathon 2014

Next she wondered if she could run a half marathon.  I am sure you can, I said.  How far do you normally run?  She wasn’t sure.  We made a date and we went for a 10km run.  How was that?  I asked.  Good, she said.  I usually go further than that, I didn’t know I was running so far.

Louise, Pauly and the Unsporty Woman AKA Louie, Huey and Dewey.  Run Melbourne Half 2014

A GPS watch, that’s what this runner needed.  She treated herself to a lovely lime green one.

The half marathon came and went.  More runs of all different distance and throw in Point to Pinnacle 2014 and you can see our runner blooming with each event she did.  She came to LOVE medals.  Oh she loves them a lot!  She loves virtual runs and has clocked up many fundraising kms in virtual runs and has wonderful medals to show for it.

Cadbury Marathon (our first marathon) 2015

Marathoners! Melbourne Marathon 2016, Janette’s first marathon!

Louie finishing that soggy train race.

Soon marathons came along.  Her dream was to go sub 4 hours.  That’s a goal now ticked off the list!  The Quackers are set on finishing a marathon in every state and territory of Australia and on the North and South Islands of New Zealand too.  And let’s not forget that soggy train race will we? We nearly changed her name to Huey after that one!

How could we forget last December when we got to see her become an Ultra Marathoner crossing the finish line of Bruny Island Ultra 64km race.

The face you pull when you’ve run 64kms and you think they’ve run out of medals…

 

On Sunday our running friend will line up at Sydney Marathon.  The rest of us will cheer her from home in Tasmania.  We are so proud of her!  We have watched her bloom into the confident, strong and capable distance runner she is today, full of determination and endurance.  Not only is she a wonderful runner but she is a kind and caring friend.

Louie I’m so glad you asked if you could come on that first fun run.  Here’s to all the adventures we’ve had and to all the ones we will have.  The Quackers might not be with you on Sunday but we will be with you in spirit and we know you will ace that marathon.

And just in case you forget what awesome cheerers Janette and I are here is a little memory from Bruny last year (sorry Janette!).

Go Louie!  Go Louie!  Pump the crumpet. Pump the crumpet!  

Happy running 🙂

When I think of why I love running so much the biggest picture that comes to my heart are a meld of faces of all the beautiful women that I have met through running.  The two really special ones here in Tasmania and the special ones in the UK, other states of Australia and Canada.  Who knew that running could bring people together like this?

Running Gratitude

Today Pauly and I did a long run of 24kms in preparation for Auckland Marathon in seven weeks.  It was a wonderful run on a day where we can believe that the season wheel is finally turning from winter to spring.  It was sunny and quite warm but with the snow on the nearby mountains, the breeze was cold.

This run is dedicated to a wonderful young woman called Connie who died of cancer on Friday.  She had a tough time fighting the disease multiple times in her short life.  She and her brother Sam established an organisation called Love Your Sister.  Together they’ve raised millions of dollars for cancer research.  When I read that Connie had died I cried.  Me and millions of Australians have followed Connie’s life and so many of us mourn her.  It sucks that there is no cure.  It sucks that she is gone.  But with every day there is new research and new hope.  We are getting closer to beating this horrible blight in our world.

Today’s run was done with a spirit of hope and happiness.  I dedicated it to Connie.  I dedicated it to health and contentment.  Running makes me happy.  Running adds life to my days.  I’m grateful that I can run.  This week marks a whole year since I hurt my knee in the calf shed and had to give up my dream of running Bruny Island Ultra 2016.  Today, a week and a year on, my dream is alive and well.  One day at a time.  Who knows what the future holds, but right now I’m on track for my first ultra.

Loving the snow-capped Great Western Tiers

What’s not to love about running down a quiet country road with the sound of a stream near by?

Not a fast run, not a slow run.  A nice happy chatty run out in the country.

This Unsporty Woman is obsessively grateful that she can run.   Grateful that she started in the first place and grateful for her resilience to keep going in trying times.  AND obsessively grateful for encouragement from her friends ❤ Thank you!  Bruny Island December 2017, the dream lives on.

And a very big clap and cheer to our Lovely Louie who is running Sydney Marathon next weekend.  We can’t wait to hear how she goes!  She gets to run over Sydney Harbour Bridge!  Happy running Louie!  You will be amazing as always x

Happy running 🙂

Here we are at Ross again

I like to think that all these windy runs will mean that the last two big events for the year won’t be windy.  Surely I’ve had my requisite amount of tortuous headwinds for 2017?  Surely the weather for the last two events will be lovely:  sunny but not hot, a refreshing breeze but no headwind and no rain thanks.  That’s what I’m ordering for the last two big events, one at the end of October and one at the beginning of December.

Today found us at Ross for the Ross Marathons 2017.  Oh my goodness, if we thought it was windy last year with those four 10.55km laps, this year out-blew itself.  The wind on Tooms Lake Road was strong and relentless.  Perhaps it should be spelt Tombs Lake Road ugh.  The wind was horrid.  This year it was only two laps instead of four; the half instead of the full marathon.  The forecast was for strong winds and rain.  I packed my lucky ponchos and I’m pleased to say there were only a few sprinkles while we were running.  As we drove out of Ross, down the rain poured (it’s calving on the farm so we had to head home straight away, Ross is a 1.5 hour drive from the farm).  I really should’ve donated a lucky poncho!  I felt for those wind-weary marathoners still with one or two laps to go!

Pre-start

It was a character building day.  Ross is a lovely country event which has had a change of organisers over the last couple of years.  This year a new committee has formed.  They put on a wonderful event, friendly, fun and encouraging.  Super volunteers everywhere who stood out in the cold and wind for hours on end are to be thanked for their time and their smiles.  Just keeping cups on the tables at the drink stops was a juggling act; as for picking up the cups that were blown far and wide, I can only imagine how exhausted the volunteers will be at the end of the day.

And how am I feeling?  I had a happy run.  I took over 100 photos.  The last lap back into the headwind of Tooms Lake Road I walked!  Yep all 4kms of it!  My head was full of memories of finishing the marathon last year and how tough that event had been.  Then the memory of hurting my knee in the calf shed the following day crowded my mind.  How am I feeling?  Grateful.  Grateful that one year on I’m back at Ross for the 5th time and ran the half marathon.  Grateful that I’m in my running shoes having fun taking happy snaps of some wonderful runners.  Five years at Ross!  One team marathon relay, three half marathons and one marathon.  I guess I should do the 10kms then I’ve done all the events apart from the kids one!  I’ll have the whole set of medals!

Ross is a challenging event at any distance.  It involves laps and a head wind of varying degrees of strength.  It is however a wonderful event right smack bag in the middle of Tasmania, Australia.  It’s a home-grown country event.  There are wonderful cafes and a pub for afterwards, old buildings and beautiful scenery to soak up.  Ross Marathons is highly recommended.  Put it on your list!  Come and visit beautiful Tasmania and enjoy some country charm, history and hospitality and throw in a fabulous run just for fun.

Here are some happy snaps of a few wonderful running people.

Janette and Bruce

Pauly running with some young chaps (in their 40s).

 

Georgie on her way to a massive course PB and a half marathon PB as well. Congratulations!!! Her Coach Tim rode up and down in that windy weather and cheered on everyone!

Another year of Ross.  Another year of running.  Another year of showing that I can do more than I ever thought possible in this running world, even on another windy day I managed to cross the finish line in a happy and not too shabby a time (2:26:53).  If I can anyone can!!!  Refuse to believe that voice in your head that say you can’t, because you can!

 

To all the Dads out there Happy Father’s Day.  Especially to Pauly who is a steady wise and can-do friend to my children and a wonderful father to his children and grandchildren.  And extra especially to my Dad, Happy Father’s Day x

Happy running 🙂

Ps No need to go to Spain to Run with the Bulls, come to Ross and watch the most gorgeous highland cattle cross the road instead

My Mate Mental-Toughness

Who better to run a marathon with than my mate Mental-Toughness.  Picture a cross between Roger Ramjet, The Bionic Man and Crocodile Dundee and that’s my mate, M-T for short.

Pre-Marathon

M-T and I had a deal for Adelaide Marathon.  We would run together until the 35km mark.  You can do it!  M-T said to me in his manly can-do voice.  Off we set.  At first we were surprised by how small the field was.  There were just over 300 finishers last Sunday, this was a similar sized field to Cadbury Marathon at home in Hobart Tasmania.  The course was flat, comprising of two laps.  The last lap finished with a trot around the Adelaide Oval, home of all things Australian Rules Football in the state of South Australia.  Along the way we took in picturesque park lands, a bit of the city, a bit of suburbia and a wonderful run through tree line paths in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens including running right by Adelaide Zoo.

Pauly ran with us for a little while too

Where as I was being loyal to my friend M-T and sticking with him let me say that my Polar M430 showed that really she is happy to pair with anyone.  Standing in the moosh ready to start, the vibrations on my wrist were many!  What a tart of a watch I have.  It was picking up those Bluetooth vibes and wanting to get with any old smart phone that was close by.  M-T and I were not impressed!

The map was quite confusing but it was extremely well marked with numerous, enthusiastic and encouraging volunteers.  Adelaide set a new bench mark with their volunteers!  They were wonderful!

M-T and I plodded along.  We were having a great time.  By the 20th km I was starting to flag.  I glanced sideways at M-T and he said to keep smiling, so I did.  We looped around past the Oval at half way and I was ready to stop.  Keep pushing! M-T said.  By km 29 I told M-T ever so politely that the deal was off and to get stuffed; I had a brief walk break.  M-T is such a gentleman that he trotted on and let me be.  I caught up with him again very soon.  This is how we ran the rest of the marathon.  I would tell him to bugger off, then I’d catch up to him and he’d be my best buddy again.  I learnt something new about M-T last Sunday.  He is extremely forgiving!  He didn’t seem to mind in the least that I would ditch him in one moment but in the next want to be his friend again.  Finally with 4kms to go we were stride for stride all the way to the finish.

My 5km splits looked like this:

  1. 30:54 – 5km
  2. 31:51 – 5km
  3. 32:06 – 5km
  4. 32:06 – 5km
  5. 34:17 – 5km
  6. 36:11 – 5km
  7. 38:35 – 5km
  8. 38:07 – 5km
  9. 18:59 – 2.63km

And guess who M-T and I met up with at km 25???  None other than Australian Olympic Marathon runner Jess Trengrove!  She was walking the same way as I was running.  I’d past an official photographer about 100m-ish back.  I asked her to run back to the photographer with me and she said yes!

Jess had just finished and won the Adelaide Half Marathon.  M-T thought I was daft to be running backwards in a marathon but he knows I never miss a photo opportunity!

What was good about Adelaide Marathon for Unsporty?

  • Great course, atmosphere and volunteers
  • A restful couple of days per race day
  • Specific and good eating and hydration
  • Good sleep for the three nights pre race day

What was bad about Adelaide Marathon for Unsporty?

  • Unnecessary nerves about being able to run the distance
  • Some work and home stress that kept interrupting marathon preparation

In a nut shell Adelaide Marathon was pretty damn wonderful.  Pauly didn’t have such a great race and the day after the marathon came down with a full on head cold.  He ran his slowest ever marathon in 4:26:10.  He did however enjoy the course and the wonderful feeling of crossing a finish line of a 42.2km event.  It was his 12th marathon.

We both highly recommend Adelaide Marathon to anyone who likes a flat, pretty course with a small field.  The city of Adelaide is pretty and laid back.  It’s close to the world renowned wine districts of Clare Valley, Barossa Valley and Mclaren Vale.  It is the perfect Destination-Marathon.  According to the organisers there are new and even more wonderful things in store for 2018.  Stay tuned to the South Australian Road Runners Club to find out what’s going on.

The medal was pretty lovely too.

Chocolate always tastes better after a marathon…

…as do bubbles!

We had two days in South Australia to rest and recover.  Pauly took me for a drive to Clare Valley and to Annie’s Lane Winery.  I’d always wanted to go!  Annie’s Lane is in Clare Valley which also happens to be where one of my favourite Australian Authors bases her books, Monica McInerney.

The weather was as predicted for the marathon, but since marathon day was so wonderful, the few rainy days afterwards didn’t bother us at all.

Annie drinnking Annie’s wine

And what did we spy on the wine touring map?  Paulett’s Winery!

Since Pauly doesn’t drink wine, I had to drink it for him!

The next day it was off to the quaint little town of Hahndorf.  Hahndorf was a German settlement, it dates back to the late 1830s.  It’s full of beautiful old colonial buildings that pay tribute to the town’s German heritage.  We had a lovely day walking up and down the street and stopping to look at this and that.  I even had mulled wine with breakfast.

Running is the best excuse to get out and see things.  Going to Annie’s Lane and Hahndorf were always things I wanted to do but didn’t ever make plans to visit.  Running a marathon in South Australia gave us the opportunity to take time out and see and experience these delights.  As for Mental-Toughness, he’s gone on his way until the next time I make a date with him.  I learnt that he’s always willing to help out, I just have to ask and then stick with him.  I’ve come out of Adelaide Marathon, my seventh marathon, actually feeling like a marathon runner with a level of steady confidence I haven’t had before.  As for my knee, a trip to the Osteo post marathon to give it some care and attention gave it a great report.  Knee is doing fine.

Happy running 🙂

Lucky Rain Ponchos

In July 2014 the weather for Run Melbourne, our first big city running event, was looking a bit iffy.  All the reading suggested that it’s ok to get wet, inevitable in fact when it’s raining, but to try and stay dry for as long as possible pre-start.  We were walking past a souvenir shop and I popped in and bought a couple of rain ponchos (Pauly would never actually wear one of these, he’s way too cool, but I certainly would).

Race day came and the weather was fine.  The rain ponchos were packed in the suitcase and since then have been packed and unpacked countless times.  We haven’t needed them yet.

Adelaide Marathon 2017 looked very much like the Rain Ponchos would finally get a gig!  I could feel their excitement as I put them out ready to go into my case.

Checking the weather on the day before we left – there is so much rain activity that Adelaide can’t be seen.

Arriving in Adelaide on Friday and yes all things pointed to Rain Ponchos coming out of their packaging.  Windy.  Rainy.  Miserable.  Oh well, what would be would be.

A brief moment of blue sky but the wind blew on. Walking across the Torrens River to the Adelaide Oval to collect our race bibs.

Marathon Day dawned and guess what?  No rain and no wind! Rain Ponchos got to stay in their packets and be packed for another race in the future.

If you need to have a lend of the Lucky Rain Ponchos please ask.

Which brings me to our other trusted travelling companions:  Warm Cheap Throw-Away Jackets.  While we have thrown away one lot of jackets, the ones that we have right now haven’t managed to get a gig either.  We wore them to the start line and tied them to the rails near by.  I saw them as I looped back to the start at the 21.1km mark, then I saw them again at the 41.5km nearly at the finish.  Still there.  Just hanging out at the Adelaide Oval.  After the finish we made our way slowly back and decided to check on them.

Yes!  There they were.  A volunteer wasn’t far away collecting other throw away jackets but he hadn’t got to ours.  I guess it was meant to be.  Now back at home on the farm they are happily flapping on the clothes line ready to be packed for another running trip.

Auckland Marathon is 10 weeks away.  Between now and then Louie will be running Sydney MarathonLet me know if you’d like to take a Lucky Rain Poncho with you Louie!

Today there is a new plan on the fridge ready to go for our next lot of training.

Running has become an addiction this is true.  Is that a bad thing?  I don’t think so.  Running takes Pauly and I to wonderful places.  We meet wonderful like-minded people.  Most importantly we get to do something truly magical and fun.  We show ourselves that we are capable of so much more than we ever thought possible.  As I type this post on a lovely day of annual leave at home, gratitude is the feeling that I feel above anything else.  Life throws us curve balls and the world is full of sadness but running brings us hope and something to look forward to.

Happy running 🙂

PS more posts about the wonderful Adelaide Marathon 2017 coming up.  We LOVED it!

The Tempest’s Bridport Blast

And the tempest sucked the air in with its massive lungs and let loose the fury of its breath.  It lined up the seaside hamlet of Bridport and unleashed the blast all the way to Scottsdale.  No valley, no dip in the road between seaside and country was safe; there was no lee to shelter, no protection, no safe place.  The blast of wind blew and blew all the way.

Saturday was the Launceston Running Club’s Scottsdale to Bridport Half Marathon, this is a handicapped race.  My handicap was 20:10 after the start.  This is the fourth time I’ve run this course and the toughest.

A short piece from the race report.

I’ve run many a windy run.  Notably was Ross Marathon in September last year where the wind was strong and ferocious but with a few sheltered kms out of the 10.55km loop in which to regroup and have a break from the wind.  A training run that Louie and I did one Friday about a year ago was so strong that when the wind was at our backs we seemed to fly!

Yes, windy runs of note.  BUT nothing like yesterday.  The wind simply did not stop.  Wind is too polite a term.  Let’s call it WIND with cyclonic ambition, a WIND that took delight in gusts and gales.  A WIND on steroids doing HIIT training perhaps!

Scottsdale to Bridport is an undulating point to point run that includes three massive hills – the whole entire way was one big angry, enraged, furious head wind.  It didn’t die down from start to finish in fact at times the gusts became so huge that if I happened to have air (as in both feet off the ground) I was blown off the road into the gravel verge.

But guess what?  I was a minute faster than Run Melbourne two weeks ago which was calm and flat.  Huh?  How did that happen?  I have no idea.  I got angry with the wind.  The desire to walk was huge but I remembered the encouragement that Janette has given me recently to keep on running and not to talk myself into walking so I kept running on.  AND I am so proud of my 5km splits!  I kept running in trying conditions and managed eight 1km laps under 6:00/km.

Everyone who ran on Saturday should be extremely proud of themselves.  That wind was tough.  Every single runner who finished looked as if they’d just spent a few hours in a tumble dryer machine.  They looked pooped.  Exhausted.  Red in the face.  Completely spent.

The winner managed a half marathon PB!!! How did she do that???  This little lady sped past me at the 17km mark. It was her first win with the club and she was incredibly happy, excited but also humble in victory.  Her attitude to her running and winning is bench mark.  Her humility is truly inspiring.  Her time was 1:38:57!  It was an absolute joy to congratulate her at the end and celebrate her success.

Pauly had a good run too 1:48:05 and my time was 2:12:48. Not a PB for either of us, but we both agreed that despite the conditions we did our absolute best and that in my book is a PB.

I was so pooped at the end that I only managed to get a shot of Pauly finishing.
This finish line felt so good.  Just to be able to stop and shelter from the wind – heaven!

But let’s not think about time.  It was tough out there.  Anyone who finished that event is a winner. A big winner!  Why?  Because they didn’t give up even though honestly the weather was so bad that pulling out was a valid option.  I looked at the trees bending and swaying in the wind, especially about 5kms out of Bridport.  It was scary!  Well done to all the runners.  It was character building and showed us all how strong we are.

Next stop, Adelaide Marathon next weekend.  I’ll be embracing the taper this week.

Happy running 🙂

Run Melbourne Weekend in Pictures

Friday we arrived, we shopped, we collected our race bibs and we ate at China Town.  Imagine a table full to over flowing with luscious Chinese food with varied levels of chop stick expertise around the table.

Saturday it was Engagement Party Day.  More shopping.  Hair dos.  Then off to the party we went.

The Happy Couple with Pauly and I.

Brown-eyed Daughter #1, the Maid of Honour-to-be, Blondie Daughter #1, the Bride-to-Be and her lovely Bridesmaids-to-be.  The photo hasn’t been taken at a funny angle.  Brown-eyed Daughter #1 is 5’8 and the little blondie on the end is less than 5′.  As for the Bride-to-Be, she had enormous heels on.

The Happy Couple with the GPs, my Mum and Dad.

Janette, Pauly and a few party people.

The Wedding Party-to-be complete with Son #1 in the front.

There are no photos of my speech.  I wrote a Fairy Story and told it complete with Once Upon a Time…right down to and they continued to live happily ever after.  I was proud of my speech even though I was rather nervous when delivering it.  It must’ve been ok because Blondie Daughter #1 and her betrothed have requested the story book I made to go with it to keep.  Awww.

Post Party drinks.  We didn’t think to get a photo of the two of us so two English backpackers kindly obliged.  We got to bed at midnight.

Who’s idea was it to run a half marathon early the next day after my daughter’s Engagement Party?  Oh that’s right the Run was planned and the trip booked then the Happy Couple decided to save us a trip across Bass Strait and have us combine the two.

The alarm went off at 5:15am and I was not feeling bright eyed, bushy tailed or ready to run.

Yep, it was still dark when we arrived at the Runner’s World Magazine VIP tent.  We applied and were given a place.  Wow!  There was coffee, there was breakfast, there were massages, there were smiley encouraging faces  AND best of all, designated portaloos!  Arrrr the relief.  WITH plenty of toilet paper.  I really did feel like a VIP.

All too soon it was time to start running.  Off the Quackers waddled.  No one managed a PB but everyone enjoyed their run and did much better than expected.  All of us had been sick in the few weeks leading up, particularly Louie who had been most unwell.  Considering all that, we did wonderfully.  I was 14 minutes slower than my Run Melbourne PB, but that’s ok.  I enjoyed myself and ran all the way with no walk breaks.

The course is pretty and varied.  There is bountiful support and entertainment along the way.  Any country people looking to do a big city run in Australia, Run Melbourne is the top choice.  It’s well organised and after completing this event three times, I’ve never felt like a number but always been made to feel like a valued participant by every official and volunteer.

Louie and I post run.

Pauly and I.

And look who I found!!!  None other than Wonder Woman Debbie from Deb’s World.  It was so lovely to meet her just before she went out and smashed the 6km event.  Here’s to more meet ups Debbie x

Then it was back to the VIP tent and a little role reversal.  Here is Pauly fetching us delicious morsels.  It’s true to say that we enjoyed it all too much!  No wonder he likes to be waited on. It’s quite nice really.

And here we are being waited on.  Fetch another coffee please Pauly 🙂

Then it was massage time for those brave souls like Janette.

Arrrgh! Purr!

The VIP tent is highly recommended.  We were able to apply because we are subscribers to the magazine.  We were their guests and treated like Very Important Runners.  Thanks Runner’s World Magazine Australia.

Next it was definitely time to shower and rest.  But skip the rest part, Pauly and I had my Dad to take to the football.

I nearly fell asleep in the first quarter zzzz I was so tired!  Etihad Stadium was packed.  Fortunately I’d pre-booked seats because I didn’t want to take my chances with not having a seat for my poor tired legs, I mean I wanted to make sure that my aged parent, Dad, had a seat!  Yes, that’s why I pre-booked, for Dad, not for me!  Louie, Grant and Karlee had to stand up.  I don’t know how Louie did it.  Janette didn’t come. Was she resting?  No!  The was shopping to be done.  Retail therapy was calling.

Dad and Pauly at the football.  For a Kiwi Pauly managed to follow the game and quite enjoyed it although I’m sure he won’t admit it.

That night, after another lovely dinner with the crew including the Happy Couple, we went for a walk down Southbank.

I allowed myself the most delicious cup cake.  It was chocolate with an oozy, goozy, sweet, delicious filling just underneath the velvety vanilla frosting…. Man it was good!

Apart from Team Quackers and my parents my lovely sister-in-law and brother-in-law came over to Melbourne from New Zealand for the party.  They got up early and clapped and cheered us on the run too.  Here we are at the iconic Koko Black in Royal Arcade in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.

And here is Mum enjoying a hot chocolate too.

All up a wonderful weekend.  Perhaps not the most ideal combination of events for running fabulousness but the best combination for making the most out of life, enjoying the company of special people and making wonderful memories.

Happy running 🙂

This weekend it’s the Launceston Running Club’s Scottsdale to Bridport Half Marathon.  Our very first half marathon back in 2013.  Since then we’ve clocked over 20 so have decided to stop counting.  If I can do all this running stuff, guess what?  Anyone can!  I don’t think this half marathon will see a PB, but it will see running far, happy and always.