Sydney Coastrek challenge to help end avoidable blindness

15 Nov

My next challenge will be the Sydney Coastrek 28/2/14-1/3/14. As if I haven’t had enough of walking! However, I will be doing this as part of a team with 3 other amazing women.

On 28th February and 1st March, we’ll be trekking for many hours along Sydney’s beautiful coastline between Palm Beach and Coogee Beach all to help restore sight to people who are needlessly blind.

Our team of four, Skinny Flat Whites, is participating in the Wild Women on Top Sydney Coastrek, in support of the amazing work of The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Did you know that 4 OUT OF 5 PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND DON’T NEED TO BE?

SO PLEASE SPONSOR MY TREK and help end avoidable blindness! Together we can make that difference!

Please click on the following link to make a donation to a very worthy cause:
CJ’s fundraising page

Thank you
:)

TREKKING TO RESTORE SIGHT

20131114-223509.jpgThree-quarter of needlessly blind people on this planet are women and girls like H’Nhi. Your support will help to restore their sight and give them a second change in life.

A week is a long time…

10 Nov

A week ago and I was yet to experience the spectacle that is NY marathon. We arrived in New York on Wednesday 30 October after what seemed an interminably long flight from Sydney, stopping briefly at LAX.

Amid the colour and clamour that is NY we still had to focus on the task at hand: a 42.2km event that was happening on Sunday 3 November. It was brought home to us when we visited the expo and picked up our numbers and competitors bag. Some of us shopped a little more than others! Then there was the Friday morning training run in Central Park – again for some of us but not others, namely me. However Keren very kindly offered to keep me company (and ensure I got back to the hotel without getting lost!). The big bonus of the early morning start was that we could take photos of the John Lennon Imagine memorial with absolutely no crowds, we were the only ones there.

On Saturday we walked the finish line of the marathon to get some idea of what to expect at the end Unfortunately we missed the Travelling Fit meet & greet at the Empire Hotel because our navigator went missing. Not once, but twice.

Our pre-marathon preparation probably wasn’t ideal but who’s not going to sightsee when in NY?! We managed to fit in Statue of Liberty, Wall St, 9/11 memorial, Times Square and a host of other places before the marathon

Saturday night. Normally I’d have a home cooked meal – pasta or grilled salmon with sweet potato. But we weren’t home but instead relying on restaurant food. We did manage to get grilled salmon which came with quinoa tabbouleh. I also had dessert – dark chocolate gateau with raspberry sorbet. Simply delicious and not as heavy as expected.

I didn’t sleep a wink Saturday night – not a wink. I saw the digital clock change back from daylight savings to regular time at 2am. I heard countless sirens, lots of outside noise, garbage trucks in the early hours. No sleep. Naturally at 3.55am I was ready for sleep, 5min before the alarm was due to go off at 4am. Naturally.

5.30am and we joined the growing congregation of bleary eyed runners downstairs, all clutching breakfast bags, waiting for the buses to collect us. We had to be on Staten Is by 7am before the road was closed.

It was the coldest morning since April. It was freezing cold, not helped by a very brisk cutting wind. We had to go through security before being allowed into the start area – 3 start villages: orange, green and blue (my village). Now a 4hr wait before my start.

Finally, 10.55am was close. At 10.15am it was off to find the correct corral before they locked them off. Then more waiting. I had decided that I would try to jog/walk as much of the course that I could do, then walk the rest. So it was that I discarded my long sleeved top which left me in a running singlet and leggings, plus gloves. No worries. I’ll warm up from the jogging.

And initially I did. I managed to slowly jog the first 5km to the first aid station, then walked a minute. Now aid stations would be roughly every 1.6km (1 mile) so the plan was to jog to each one and then walk about a minute. Well that was the plan and for the first 20km it worked out that way. I also ditched my gloves along the way because I had warmed up sufficiently. Remember, I didn’t start until 11am. By the 20th kilometre I was ready to stick to just walking – the effects of the cortisone were no longer evident. Up until this point I had enjoyed the atmosphere and the changing street scenes. The one that is most vivid for me was running through the Hasidic Jewish area of Brooklyn, not only for their distinctive dress and hair, but also because they completely ignored the event and just went about their daily lives.

Now comes the part I hadn’t thought through.

Because I was only walking, from the 20km onwards, I cooled down very quickly. There was a very cold breeze blowing. There was some brief glimpses of sunshine but most of the time we seemed to be in shade. And crossing the bridges it was extremely cold. I was also feeling sore and lack of sleep was starting to take its toll. And after having managed some running, walking suddenly seemed to take forever. The hours passed by ever so slowly. The sun was rapidly disappearing. And still I was walking. I couldn’t feel my feet or my fingers because of the cold. I recall walking into Central Park. But there was still a way to go. I recall a male spectator exhorting us to start running as we only had a mile to go. I wish. If I could’ve run I would’ve gladly done so. But now I was beyond caring. I just wanted to get warm.

Finally I crossed the finish line. There was no punching the air, high fives or big smiles – just tears starting to slowly run down my cheeks. Why? I don’t know – I was just so tired, sore, hungry and so bloody cold. I couldn’t function let alone think straight. I recall a medal being hung around my neck, saying no to photos, having a foil sheet wrapped around me, a plastic recovery bag shoved into my hands. And then more walking to get to Family Reunion, where I had planned to meet Mr B at the letter Q. To get there felt like walking another marathon. At some point I acquired a hooded orange poncho. What a picture. A slowly moving mass of bodies, dressed in orange hooded ponchos, heads bowed. As someone next to me said, we felt as though we should be chanting.

Finally the letter Q and shortly the very welcome sight of Mr B, who had to deal with an over-tired, over-emotional, frozen, hungry competitor who couldn’t stop bawling. And then another walk – back to the hotel. Followed by a hot bath (bliss – the best bath ever), food (chocolate mousse really does make everything better) and bed.

And let me just make this very clear – I was not upset about my time. In fact it was a lot better than I had predicted because of the jogging. I did the event in 5hr 54min, a far cry from my original estimate of 7hr.

It was a hard event because of the cold, lack of sleep and hunger. And I was sore. And I should’ve worn more warm clothes. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

That was my NY marathon experience.

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The packing dilemma

28 Oct

It is the day before I leave for Sydney, before heading off to New York. And true to form, I still have an empty suitcase. Why? Because I keep changing my mind about what to pack. I’m procrastinating. I can’t make a decision.

It’s easy, says everyone.
Just pack the bare essentials, says everyone.
Travel lightly, says everyone.

Fine.
But it’s not easy.
I confess I’m the world’s worst packer. I cannot travel lightly. It’s a genetic thing. Well, ok, I might be exaggerating a touch but I’ve had years of packing stuff…just in case. I start off with the best of intentions – the bare minimum but then a little voice pipes up and says, maybe you should throw in that top (or jacket, or dress, or pants, or jumper), just in case.

I’ve also endured years of I told you so’s, the alleged voice(s) of reason, the raised eyebrow, and also a million and one reasons why I don’t need to pack so much…from everyone.
You know, suddenly everyone is an expert and their way is the best way.
Which of course frustrates me no end. It’s a bit like people giving advice on how to taper, how to train, the best way run a marathon, etc. Which is fine if I’ve asked for advice.

And also I was at work today. So it was hard to get in the right headspace for packing. I know I’m going on holiday but it’s hard to get too excited when I still had meetings, last minute emails and other work things to do.

So either tonight (hasn’t happened yet) or tomorrow morning there will be this frazzled woman madly throwing all sorts of clothing items in her suitcase, hoping that somehow she will get an outfit out of it once she arrives at the other end!

Worst case scenario? I guess I’ll have to go shopping in New York! At least I have a shopping buddy. :)

There were no more long walks after Thursday’s cortisone injections. After a quick poll I was quickly made aware that doing a long walk on the weekend was probably not the wisest thing to do. So instead I did a weights session followed by a 45min xtrainer intervals session at the gym. And I’ll do the same again tomorrow…maybe. Then that will be it until Sunday 3 November 10.55am when I start the NY marathon.

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A week tomorrow…

22 Oct

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A week tomorrow…

That’s when I leave for New York and the start of my big adventure.

A week to get everything organised, case packed, and anything else that needs to be done before I leave.

Wow. Suddenly its all going so quickly. Before I know it I’ll be checking in at the airport.

Yesterday my Travelling Fit New York marathon singlet arrived in mail, along with all the other relevant information we need.

It’s all starting to feel very real and not just some future intangible thing.

In the meantime its business as usual on the exercise-front. It was back to the gym yesterday morning for a 45 minute xtrainer interval session. This morning it was a weights session that focussed on the lower body. I think I’m going to regret it tomorrow when I get back on the xtrainer!

And on Thursday I have the scheduled ultrasound scan. Followed by a 34km walk on Saturday.

A week tomorrow… :)

The never ending hip saga

19 Oct

journey
Its two weeks out from NY marathon and still I am having investigations to determine the source of the hip pain. Last Friday it was the arthrogram. Next week it’s another ultrasound scan though on a positive note it will be done by Wes Cormick, the best in the business. Normally it takes 6 weeks to get in to see him but I’m a special case :) He’s seeing me next Thursday after a phone call from my doctor.

And why am I having another ultrasound scan? It appears that there is something going on with the labrum, the connective tissue around the rim of the hip socket. It looks like it’s peeling away rather than torn. There are other things showing on the MRI film so that’s why I’m having further ultrasound scans. If something is there Wes will find it. And hopefully I’ll get injections where it’s needed.

The good news is that there is nothing wrong with my hip joint. Something positive!

So stay tuned….

Meanwhile I did another long walk this morning. I started at 6am as I had a 30km walk to do and I estimated that it would take me about 5 hours. This would mean I would finish at 11am. So again I was up with the birds, having porridge at some absurdly early hour and then heading off just before 6am. It was chilly so I wore gloves to keep my hands warm. Sort of worked but they still got very cold and refused to cooperate a bit later when I needed to make a toilet stop. Honestly it takes me forever just to unclip the iPod and get my fuel belt off, let alone anything else.

It was very smoky from the NSW bushfires. The morning sky had a distinct pinkish hue and initially the sun was a glowing red ball.

I actually didn’t count down the kilometres as I walked this morning. It was a case of suck it up and walk. I had a job to do and I wasn’t getting distracted by thoughts of “are we there yet?”

I saw Ruth at about the 14km mark so we had a quick chat before we both went out separate ways again. At the halfway point I had a nut bar. I made a point of bringing something to eat on this walk. Up until now I haven’t bothered but I thought I should at least practice eating something as I will need to do this for 42km. I also a had 2 small bottles of coconut water in my fuel belt – makes a nice change from water or sports drink.

Eventually I did warm up so I had a quick pit stop to take off the long sleeved top and tie around my waist, and put my gloves in the fuel belt pocket. Then I was away again, intent on getting home.

My hip was sore from the 2km mark this morning so wasn’t the best pain-wise. More anti-inflammatories when I got home.

And my post-walk reward was a green smoothie containing coconut water, kiwi fruit, lettuce, baby spinach, fennel, protein powder and chia seeds. Surprisingly sweet and delicious…and green :)

In summary:

Distance – 30km

Time – 4hr 53.41min

Pace – 9.45min/km

Other exercise this week:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday – 45 min intervals on the xtrainer

Tuesday and Thursday – weights sessions

And the pressure’s on

12 Oct

Flyer NY marathon

Its official!

Bib number: 56290

Blue Wave #4 / Corral #56

Start time: 10.55am

The bit that has me worried though is the following:

SWEEP BUS and STREET OPENINGS

Sweep buses will follow the marathon route at a 6 1/2-hour marathon pace, roughly 15 minutes per mile, after the 10:55 a.m. start. These buses will transport any entrant who wishes to drop out to the post-finish area.
• After the sweep buses pass by, the city streets will reopen to traffic. Cross-street protection, medical assistance, aid stations, and other services will no longer be available. Runners on the course should move onto the sidewalks. The official end time of the race is 7:25 p.m.

I’m in the 10.55am wave. This means that the sweep bus will not be too far behind me. Nothing like applying the pressure. As it is, I was giving myself 7 hours to do the distance. Now I’ll have to revise and somehow try to do it in 6.30hr.

The other thing that has me worried is that I start an hour before lunch and will finish about 6pm, all going to plan. I’m going to be starving. I have the choice of water, sports drink and powergels, with fruit available from mile 20 onwards. I think I need to pack some bars in my fuel belt. I’ll be looking forward to dinner that night! :)

Today’s long walk

I was up early (5am) for a 6am start today – to walk 27km, my longest walk to date. This time I had breakfast before I left home. Last week I didn’t and I was starving by the end. I also wore my fuel belt today with 2 water bottles. I didn’t carry any extra food as I didn’t think I needed it. However I think for the final 2 long walks (30 and 34 km) before the marathon I will carry snacks so I can work out what will provide the best source of energy plus keep the hunger pains away.

My hip felt fine when I started but by the time 11kms had clicked over I was feeling it again…bugger. I saw Ruth near my turnaround point. After a brief chat (we were meeting up for lunch a few hours later) I set off for home. Other than discomfort in the hip area everything else was fine. I was tired by the time I had finished and was glad to stop. Also, the walk home is harder than the walk to Lake Burley Griffin because I walk down to the lake, which means there are hills I have to walk up on the return journey.

Stats:

Distance – 27.2km

Time – 4hr 27.08min

Pace – 9.48min/km

 

Marcaine magic

11 Oct

MRI

Today was MRA day.

Be there at 9.45am I was told.

So I was.

And I sat and waited…and waited…and waited.

Then was escorted across to another waiting room…and waited…and waited.

Finally I heard my name called, followed the guy to a change room where I changed out of my top and into a sexy paper gown before entering another room where I was instructed to lie down on the bed. Once I had manoeuvred into the appropriate position it was again a case of waiting…waiting…waiting. This time for the doctor to come and do the arthrogram meaning injecting a contrast and an anaesthetic (Marcaine) into the hip joint before having the MRI. It’s hard to explain what it feels like after these have been injected into the hip joint – the hip felt bloated and uncomfortable for a while.

The Marcaine was being used as a diagnostic tool. I have to monitor how my hip feels for the next 24 hours and whether the pain goes away. If the pain does go away then it points to something going on in the joint, which you think would also be picked up in the imaging.

After the injections I then changed back into my jeans, returned to the waiting room and waited…waited…waited to have the MRI.

Eventually the technician did come for me and once again I changed into a paper gown before being shown into the room with the MRI machine. Imagine a long metal cylinder. Lucky I’m not claustrophobic. I was instructed to get up on the bed, had some foam contraption strapped to my abdomen, sandbags placed on my legs to stop them moving, given a buzzer in case I got a case of the yips and needed to come out of the tunnel, headphones to block out the noise (fortunately there was music to listen to) and finally a blanket to cover me, because it was very chilly.

And then for the next 20 minutes I lay entombed in this metal tunnel listening to what sounded like a jack hammer at times, trying not to move. I think my right leg involuntarily twitched a couple of times! You try lying perfectly still for 20 minutes!

And finally that was it. I was there for 2 1/2 hours.

So now I wait for the specialist to get in touch.

The Marcaine has worked its magic. Currently I have no hip discomfort. Tomorrow’s 27km walk will be a good test. :)

Aaaargh!

9 Oct

WordPress keeps crashing tonight. This is, hopefully, third time lucky.

My first entry was an eloquent piece on whether plodders have a place in a marathon? I had recently read a New York Times article addressing this question. Well you will have to take my word for it as the application crashed and I lost the lot.

Anyway I wasn’t sure whether to feel offended, amused, angry or a mix of all these emotions after reading this article.

Apparently walkers, and slow runners, are ruining the marathon’s mystique and disrespecting the distance.

“It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours,” said Adrienne Wald, 54, the women’s cross-country coach at the College of New Rochelle, who ran her first marathon in 1984. “It used to be that running a marathon was worth something — there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’”

Arrogant? Elitist? Has a point?

“…more than half of the people at a marathon are just overweight and “trying to get a shirt and medal … looking to one day tell a story about the saga and the suffering of their 11 minute pace ‘race.’”

And this in the comments section: “The marathon has become a circus, no doubt about it. I have no problem with people plodding their way through a course in 6 or 7 hours. Of course, they shouldn’t be given the same medals and acknowledgment as someone who busted their buns for months in training and completed it in four hours.”

I’m sorry? I’ve not busted my buns in training for months? Those bruised toenails, the shin splints, the endless hours on weekends spent walking…if that’s not training then I don’t know what is. I have trained as hard for this event as I would’ve if I’d been running. Of course I’d rather be running but that’s not going to happen. And be damned if I’m going to travel all that way to watch on the sidelines. No siree. I will be out there plodding for 7 hours. And bloody well proud of it.

Today I spent 45 mins on my favourite machine, the xtrainer. It’s always hard backing up after legs day at the gym. And tomorrow is more leg work, along with arms and shoulders. Followed by the xtrainer again on Friday. And then a 27km walk on Saturday. Fun times :)

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A bit of a breeze…

6 Oct

It was a tad windy on my 10km walk this afternoon. Strong gusty winds blew part way through my walk (at the furthest point from home naturally). I was being hit by lots of tiny twigs from surrounding trees though fortunately nothing larger. There were times when I had to brace and lean into the wind to keep going forward. Certainly made for good resistance training.

The left hip/adductor/torn semitendinosis attachment held up well after yesterday’s long walk though some discomfort was starting after about 5km. Nothing some anti-inflammatories can’t fix.

It’s 4 weeks today to NY marathon so I have a lot of walking to do between now and then. Every weekend will see me do a long walk on the Saturday ie next weekend I’ll do 27km; the week after it will be 30km and the week after that, 34km. Then the week after that it will be 42.2km, or 26.2miles. :)

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The things you see…

5 Oct

Well I’m officially back into walking training after completing a 23km walk this morning. Yes there is some discomfort but its manageable.

It was an early start as I needed to get the walk done before my scheduled massage later in the morning. So I was up at 5am (on a long weekend no less!) and out the door at 5.45am. 3hr 50min later I was finally back home again, ravenous, thirsty and tired. I’m still surprised how tiring walking can be.

As I was passing the Belconnen Arts Centre down by the lake, I came across a very strange sight. Not something one sees every day. Imagine a huge hot air balloon sporting large breasts and a head that resembles a turtle.

It’s a skywhale!

No? Never heard of it?!

Hindenboob?! Oh never mind, here’s a picture…

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Certainly eye catching, wouldn’t you say? A conversation starter…

This was my first experience of seeing the skywhale up close and personal.

According to the blurb on the Canberra Centenary website:

“The Centenary of Canberra has unveiled its largest commission – a sculpture by internationally renowned artist and former Canberran Patricia Piccinini that is a 34m long, 23m high hot-air balloon called The Skywhale. The Skywhale is at least twice as big as a standard hot-air balloon, weighs half a tonne and used more than 3.5km of fabric. It took 16 people seven months and more than 3.3million stitches to design and make.”

Then not long after seeing the Skywhale in all it’s glory I saw Ruth who was obviously warming up for parkrun. We had a very brief chat before parting ways – Ruth to the parkrun and me continuing on my never-ending walk (well it felt like that).

However eventually I did make it home, and after a rushed breakfast (I was close to inhaling the contents of the fridge I was that hungry) headed off for my much-needed massage.

I’d like to say it was heavenly bliss but I’d be lying! There were quite a few tight knots and spots that needed working out. But I felt so good by the end of it. I have another massage scheduled for 3 weeks time, just before leaving for New York.

Caught up for a coffee with Mr B in the afternoon to discuss New York accommodation and hear all about his recent overseas trip.

And I got to see Lorna Jane in the flesh. She was signing books at her store in the mall. :)

Tonight I had an Epsom salts bath. I think it will be an early night. That 23km walk has knocked the stuffing out of me. Who would’ve thought?!

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