A return to the gym.

 

Missing out on Two Bays

Missing out on Two Bays

So, how were your holidays?  I’ve been away from my blog for several weeks, and, in fact, am feeling a bit rusty at writing.  Three weeks with young children around will do that.  “Mom…” and “Dad…” incessantly, all-out-war fights between the kids, plus a beach house with very limited internet access.  Thank goodness we bought a piano just before Christmas.  Though I do not play yet, it has helped keep me sane.

Let me rewind a minute.  You might recall that just after the Marysville Marathon in November, I hurt my knee.  It swelled up to three times its usual size, and I spent many weeks trying to get it better.  Cross-training, rest, physio, more rest (actually 9 complete days exercise free – a record for me), and then a gradual return to running.

I’m not real good with rest or with injury.  My family will surely attest to that.  But this time, during my 9 days rest, I had a new toy.  I’d always planned on learning piano.  My Dad was an accomplished pianist, and my fondest memories are of listening to him play.  Bach, Chopin, Beethoven; he could play them all.  But he couldn’t teach.  At least, he couldn’t teach me, an independent child who didn’t like to be taught very much, and certainly didn’t like his angry style.  Poor Dad; he would have loved to hear me play, but he scared the life out of me, and I quit, and began riding horses instead.

But it’s always been there, my secret plan to learn, once I was old enough.  I’m still sort of scared, although my Dad has been dead for twenty years.  I don’t want a teacher – if they are mean, I’m sure I’d quit, and I’m not very good at taking instructions anyway.  So I’ve coached my nine-year old son to say just these words to me when he hears me play:  “That’s great, Mom, really great!”  And he does.  Even though I know he’s just saying it because I asked him to, it works.

I bought a series of Easy Piano instructions books geared for children, as the grown-up versions were terrifying and serious, and I like the cartoon characters pointing at the notes.  I’m halfway through book 2 of the series, progressing slowly and deliberately and with great, rebellious joy.  Yesterday I played a piece by Bach! My son, daughter and husband are playing too.  The males follow the instructions carefully.  My daughter improvises – loud, scary music.  I asked her what it was.  “It’s the dragon coming to eat the villagers,” she replied, straight-faced.

Running?  Ah, running.  We are not friends right now.  I’ve tried this, after the swelling finally went down in my right knee: 5k, wait two days, 6k, wait two days, 7k, wait one day, 8k, wait one day (that’s when my left peroneal tendon started complaining), wait one day, 9k (ignoring left knee pain as right knee was fine), wait three days and limp, 10k (too hot to notice any pain at all, until I stopped and there was the left leg pain again!).  I waited two days, and went to the gym today.  After just one running step on the treadmill, I got off.  The left leg is still wrong.

Grrr!  While I’m delighted to tell you my right knee is now the right size again (with the exception of a strange bumpy line running across the center of the kneecap that has me obsessed), I still can’t run.

But, I can lift weights.  So tonight, although there were 72 young men in the free weights area at my gym, with only three or four centimeters room between them (New Year’s Resolution time), I did my full heavy weights workout. I’d forgotten just how good it feels to be strong.  Lifting gives me nearly the same buzz as running, and has a wonderful meditative quality (well, less so with Mr. Biceps next to me, but usually).  My body hurts so good right now, and the endorphins are back on, and it was simply wonderful to see some gym buddies and class members (I teach at the same gym), and I left there feeling like I’d come back to life.

So perhaps this injury is teaching me something.  First, how to play piano.  Second, that I really still love the gym.

One last thought to leave you with tonight – for Christmas, my husband suggested something.  He actually wrote the word “wild” and “i” on a small card and then drew an animal after it.  It took me ages to work it out, what with exhaustion and champagne.  “Wild-eyed dog?” “No.” “Wild-eyed goat?” “No.”  My mind got stuck on the goat until he gave up, and told me it was “wild i dear”.  The animal was meant to be a deer!

What is the wild idea?  To get a dog!  Us of the two kids, two cats, and asthmatic husband.  Well, why not…

I’m not sure just now whether to get a dog that will want to run with me or not.  I’d hate to disappoint him.  We’re looking daily at who is available at the local animal shelter, so hopefully this wild idea will come true soon.

By the way, I had to miss the Two Bays 28k and 56k race last Sunday, with these injuries.  I was terribly disappointed, but also super-inspired by the stories of the runners who completed the event.  To toe up at the start line for a run like that takes guts.  Thanks for the inspiration, Two Bay runners!

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Injury! Or how not to train just after a marathon…

I’ve been pacing my home for the last two hours (can it be only two hours!).  I’ve done the laundry (three loads), swept up in the garden, weeded, rang to book a massage, contemplated a haircut, and googled (a lot) about kneecaps -swollen, hot-to-the-touch kneecaps.

Injury.  That’s what it means.  No running on this beautiful blue sky sunny Melbourne morning.  Denial and despair; exercise options; pain relieving options.  I have not found acceptance yet or done that really dreadful thing: rest.

Marysville Marathon was ten days ago.  And Two Bays 56k is about six weeks away.  So, with two big runs within eight weeks of one another, I didn’t allow long enough for recovery.  Duh.  After Sunday’s marathon, I took off Monday and Tuesday completely, feeling virtuous and wise.  But Wednesday came and I taught my BodyPump class, and taught again Thursday morning, following by an easy 5k run.  Friday is what broke me – 10k on my favorite trail, running light and easy and kind of fast.  Stretching afterwards, I was surprised when it hurt to kneel to stretch – that was odd.  I tried to remember if I bumped my knee, but I hadn’t.

When Saturday came around, the right knee was distinctly swollen.  But the kids were home from school, so there wasn’t much time to focus on such things.  Surely it would be fine with two days rest.  Sunday night, I took a couple of anti-inflammatories, just in case, and it felt better.

And here’s where stupid won out over wise. Monday morning, while my husband took the kids to school, I sat writing in my journal for ten minutes before going to the gym.  “I will not run today,” I wrote.  “That would be stupid.  My knee needs to rest and I’ll only make it worse.”  I was very firm and wise, like an intelligent woman who knew how to take care of herself.

Except when I got to the gym, somehow I found myself on the treadmill for my usual 5k prior to weight training.  I rationalised that by keeping the pace slower than usual, and by stopping at the first hint of pain, all would be well.  And that I had to get my mileage up to train for Two Bays.  And that perhaps the joint would, well, lubricate itself, and feel better afterwards.  And there was this guy at the gym who told me two years ago I’d have to give up running, like he did, and I saw him just as I was choosing between cross-trainer and treadmill.  Treadmill it was.

Idiot.  Of course, the painkillers were still working at that stage, so I happily glided along, lip-singing to Bon Jovi on my iPod.  I did my weights.  All was fine.

But would you believe it (of course, you knew this would happen)?  It hurt later, and swelled up again.  If I could bottle some of my own stupidity…

No good beating myself up, I know.  As a runner, I like to think I am immortal, that by going minimal, I have fixed every possible physical ailment and I can run forever as long as I like.

Somewhat true.

But not when I go beyond the limit.  I guess that’s the only way to know where the limit lies, to step beyond.   So I am not running today.  Or for the next three days.  If it’s not better by then, I’m just going to have to hop, because my house will be so clean and the mail all organised and the Christmas presents wrapped – what am I going to do with myself after that?

By the way, my self-diagnosis is suprapatellar bursitis.  Caused by too much stupidity.  Hopefully, I’ll learn my lesson this time.  Sigh.

Take it to the limit: Marysville Marathon 2013

Marysville Marathon Course courtesy of Trails +

Marysville Marathon Course courtesy of Trails +

I’m lying broken on the sofa at 5:30 pm, almost exactly twelve hours since setting off on the glorious adventure that was the Marysville Marathon.  My kind husband is making us dinner to the songs of the Eagles, who are singing one of my favorites, “Take it to the Limit”:  You know I’ve always been a dreamer (spent my life running ’round), and it’s so hard to change (can’t seem to settle down). But the dreams I’ve seen lately keep on turning out and burning out and turning out the same. So put me on a highway, and show me a sign, and take it to the limit one more time…”  A very appropriate choice.

Take it to the limit.  What I love to do.  Except when I hit it – the limit – it hits me back.

I don’t like to dance with the word limit – it makes an ugly tango partner.  I shove it to one side, grind it into the dirt with my trail runners.  But the Marysville Marathon – well, that put that little word right up into my face, where it kept on shouting at me: Stop running.  It hurts. This is too far.  You are too slow.  Look, there goes another person past you.  Just walk.  I bet I’m not the only person who danced with limits on Sunday.

Let’s talk first about Red (freakin’) Hill, because it came up first.  Just like that.  We crossed a bridge, and bam, we were heading up.  The woman beside me used some strong language to convey her emotions; I just laughed inside, as I’d known this one was going to hurt.  But I didn’t take into account my recent ankle sprain, and how cautious I’d want to travel.  A lot of people passed me up and down that hill – I didn’t like it, not one bit, but I knew there was a lot of terrain left to cover and I didn’t want my race to end too soon.  I did the usual thing – coached myself to run my own race, stayed upright, and got to the top and bottom of Red (freakin’) Hill.

Elevation profiles. Image courtesy of Trails+

From there, it wasn’t too bad.  A long (long, long) steady uphill beside a beautiful river, crystal-clear in the morning sun, flowing with power over fallen tree trunks.  The trail was nothing technical, just a gravel road, and not too steep.  I kept up a strong pace – but not strong enough to get in front of someone who chose to run two paces behind me for several kilometres.  It gave me the heebie-jeebies – I didn’t want to turn around to see who it was, and everyone else had spread out with hundreds of meters between them.  The person didn’t say a word.  I sped up; I slowed down; I ate a gel.  Still, this unknown person stayed step-for-step right behind me.  It was unnerving.  I was feeling distinctly unfriendly and wondering if I could blast off into the distance to lose them (I want a little solitude, just a little), when we caught up with another runner.  We all began to chat then, and I moved ahead a bit, leaving the two of them talking.  I didn’t have enough breath for talking.  Problem solved, I thought.  But then he caught me up again!  At least I think it was him – I didn’t turn to look, but this other person dogged my steps again like a shadow.  I thought I might be going nuts and imagining him, but no, he was there.  He stayed with me until the first waterfall, and then moved off either ahead or behind.  I still don’t know who he was, or why he followed me so closely. Go figure.

The trail to the waterfall – green, overgrown, littered with fallen trees that required climbing over or careful steps.  It was magical, though steep.  Front runners were already returning, and this marked one of the many wonderful moments of this race.  Well done, great work, fantastic job, we all shouted to one another, encouraging, supporting, friendly.  It was a single track, but people were polite going both ways.  The waterfall at the top was breathtaking.

Keppel Falls

Keppel Falls

And I was glad for the moment to catch my breath! I took a photo, while enjoying the rest.  In truth, I was pretty puffed by then, at about 14k.  The pace had been much faster than my training runs.  Still, when I turned around, it was reassuring not to be in last place, as I had thought I might be, given how hard it had felt.  The downhill track was more fun than uphill, and I got some pace up, got some dance back in my legs.

I knew the course description by heart, mostly.  Still, it came as a blow to realise that the really big hill didn’t start until after the falls.  From about 14-18k was straight up.  Hard, hot, lots of rocks underfoot.  I wanted to run, ran most of it, but God it was hard.  I must have checked my Garmin every km, wondering why it was taking so long, slogging and climbing and swearing inside.  Unlike my Dandenong training runs, I didn’t want to break into a walk.  I did a few times, but mostly, I pushed it into a slow jog.  Finally, I made it up to the top, and turned to enjoy the flight downhill.  But – ouch – that hurt too.  My minimalist shoes didn’t have enough rock protection for my sore feet, so I had to choose my fast steps carefully.  The field had really spread out by this point, about two hours in.  I didn’t see anyone in front of me on that downhill, but encouraged a few runners who were running uphill.

After twenty minutes without a soul in sight, I was getting a bit nervous.  I knew I was on the right course – but where was everyone?  I kept the pedal down hard, pushing my pace on the downhill, enjoying (somewhat) the feeling of (slow) flying I was achieving.

Finally, in between admiring the river, and swearing at the rocks underfoot, I saw a blue runner in the distance.  I chased him/her.  I don’t know why.  My husband asked me about the race afterwards, why it was so hard.  “It was the pace,” I said.  “It was much faster than North Face, much faster than I’ve been running.”  He looked mildly amused.  “I thought you said you were running alone for a lot of it?”  Good point.  I like to run as fast as I can – I just do.  And I think I was worried that I’d been passed by so many runners at the start, that I’d better try to catch some of them.  I did – I caught two or three.  The blue runner stopped to chat at an aid station; the male runner stopped for a wee by the side of the trail.  Passed them both, standing still.

Eventually, I did catch sight of some other runners.  One guy in a bright yellow shirt and Inov8 shoes became my trail finder.  I could keep him in sight, but couldn’t catch him.  It was reassuring to know I was going the right way.

Well, I was struggling, I’ll be honest.  I’d taken at least two salt tablets and three gels, drank plenty of water, but there was my body, going “limit, limit, can’t you see you are at your LIMIT, you idiot!”

And that’s when Red (freakin’) Hill reared its ugly little head again.

Oh, I’d known it was coming.  Of course I did.  But when it just rose up in front of me, like a tall red demon, I wanted to cry.  The people in front of me weren’t loving it either (“This is not what I want right now,” one woman swore).  Yellow-shirt man had slowed to a walk; everyone was walking.  I was walking.  Hiking the hill, I told myself.  I jogged a bit, walked a bit, swore in my head in much stronger language than I’ll write here at that little stupid hill.  Red like blood; red like anger.  Red rocks, and red dirt, and up and up and up, until, thank heavens there was a little blue tent and two young teenage girls who were kind and offered big smiles.  Someone snapped my photo. “Most tired photo of the event,” I said to the photographer, feeling broken.

But just ahead, at 33k, was the oval where we’d started, where my family might be.  I ran on, got confused because there were no other runners anywhere, was well-directed by volunteers (thanks!), and found my way, and there my family were, cheering (well, asking me to get the lollies from the Aid Station but cheering in their own way).  Some other friends shouted encouragement (thanks Sarah and Claire!) and I saw yellow-shirt man and followed him again.

Now it was up Falls Road, which I remembered well from the half-marathon the year before. I remembered I’d run that hill, felt strong, passed people.  At 34k, it was a very different experience indeed.  I caught up with yellow-shirt man, who had fallen into a walk.  I tried to encourage him to keep running (“I’ve been following you, you can’t stop here,” I said.  ” I”ll try,” he smiled, “I’ll try.”).  Up and up we went, up that painful bitumen road.  I willed it to end.  I told myself to enjoy the trees, the blue sky, the surroundings, but I was pushing too hard.  After a lifetime, I came to the top, and there was the lovely trail leading to the bridge over the falls.  “Hey Patricia”, a friend yelled as he ran by – always a wonderful moment to be known, and I shouted hello back – and I ran on to the falls, where I took more photos (with the same women who had been at Keppel Falls!).

Steavenson Falls

Steavenson Falls

Steavenson Falls close-up

Steavenson Falls close-up

I did a quick self-check:  I was well-hydrated, well-electrolyted, my gear was working perfectly, and I had enough water, gels and salt tablets to finish strong.  But it was 37k in out of 43, and I was running on empty.  Down the Fern Tree Gully Track we ran, those tiny pebbles blasting holes in the soles of my sore feet, and a women or two passing me (run your own race, run your own race, went my mantra).

And then there was Yellow Dog Road.  That 1k out and back.  A test of mental strength, if ever there was one.  Me – Miss Do-the-right-thing – even I had this impulse to turn back part-way.  But I didn’t – I ran all the way to the end, and curled around the turn-around markings on the ground and ran back.

From there, it was back to Tree Fern Gully Track, and it wasn’t far to the finish, just three kilometres.  But I was done, really done.  I’d pushed harder than before at this distance, and all the various parts of me were saying walk.  Just walk.  I did, just once, when a minor incline rose in front of me.  Other than that, I slogged on.  I wasn’t sure where the finish was but I could hear cheering.  I crossed the last bridge, where my family was standing.  My daughter began to run with me then.  I thought the finish was right there, but I’d forgotten we had to do a loop of the oval.  I thought it was too far for her – she’s only seven –  but she was brave and strong, and ran the whole way.  Across the finish, we held hands and crossed together.

And then it was done.  I had completed my first trail marathon in 4:42, twenty minutes faster than I’d planned.  The joyous parts I’ll remember:

The waterfalls, full and strong, cascading over black rocks.

The full river, flowing alongside Lady Talbot Drive.

The song of frogs, ribbetting in the small streams that ran beside some of the trails.

The small trees on the way uphill to Beeches Aid Station – because from below, it had looked barren and lifeless, but really, life was there all along.

Yellow shirt man in front of me, showing me the way.

The shouts of encouragement from all the other runners.

The knowledge that I could take it to the limit – and beyond – and then well beyond, and still complete what I had come to do.

The battles I fought up the steepest of hills, and the inner strength I remembered I had when I managed to complete them.

Take it to the limit, indeed.

Crisis of confidence: of marathon training and life

Six days until my first marathon.  I’m tapering, and feeling all the usual gunk that comes with this useful part of training.  Slow, lethargic, lazy.  I keep waiting for the burst of energy that says this is working, but my energetic bursts are being consistently used up by family and work stress.  So I’m just going to have to trust in the process, and trust in the training I’ve done.

Of course, having dozens of Garmin files to explore and obsess over doesn’t help.  I’ve been comparing elevation gains, height of hills from sea level, length of hills I’ve done in training versus those on the actual course.

My gear is ready.  My body is ready.  My mind?  Well, my mind is never really ready until I’m in the middle of a race and have nowhere to go but forward.  Such is the lot of those of us who obsess over every single detail of training and race preparation.  I’d love to be one of the relaxed few who just come along for the views and to take photos.

Six days and counting down.  Time for  5, 10, and 5k runs to finish off my training plan.  For some short running and nice recovery.

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I didn’t post this on the day I first wrote, as I was experiencing a crisis of confidence, and wasn’t ready to tell you the truth.  A few runs later (rainy runs into a strong headwind, carrying my newly repaired Hydrapak), and I’d love to say I’m fine now.

In truth,  I’m not.  I’m poring over the newly released details of race map transition areas, trying to remember which way our course goes compared to the other three race distances starting the same day.  And I’m trying to summit some more personal hills.

My seven-year-old is experiencing difficulties at school, and I am her safe battering ram when she returns home.  It hurts, all the way down to my soul.  But I was coping okay.

Then last week a BodyPump participant offloaded some really heavy stuff on me – a comment I had made in jest was the straw that broke her camel’s back, and I got in the direction of her personal lava-flow.  I felt like a kid who had been caught doing something naughty, as she raged and raged at me at the end of my class, as the other participants sheepishly snuck out the door.  My apology went unheard, and her wrath untouched.  With a sinking heart, I knew what was coming, because this is what happens.

Both things – my daughter’s stress, and this grown-up’s explosion – threw me.  I recognised that these things were not about me, but were about the other people going through difficult times.  In my head, at least, I recognised that.  That wiser part of me was nodding quietly, saying, “This is their stuff, not yours.”

The less wise part of me – who I know well, and see creeping up on me with a feeling of despair – was less kind.  It blasted me with self-criticism and doubt, with that hide-under-the-bed-and-quit-all-my-jobs kind of advice that does no good to anyone.  My roots were (and are still) shaken.  I’ve had some sleepless nights wondering what I could do differently, tearing apart my faults, and judging myself way too harshly.  Thank God for the likes of Bon Jovi at such times, reminding me that I am not the first to feel this way, that I am not alone.  Thank God for the wise part of me that sits quietly nearby through all the turmoil, and reminds me I’ve survived much worse, that this too shall pass.

Long-distance trail running, alone with my thoughts and a concrete objective is the perfect antidote.  Except I’ve been tapering, so even that avenue has been closed for a couple of weeks.  Which is why I understood so well a recent trail runner’s message on why he runs so far.  He said something like, “Trail running is a drip-feed to my soul.”  Yup, I get that.  Because sometimes I long for what is soulful and simple and concrete, to escape from the complexities of human beings.

Shaken, but not broken – that is how I’m standing today.  Where all of us stand sometimes.  Making mistakes, and picking myself back up again, and trying my darndest to learn.  It makes running a marathon seem easy by comparison.

Here’s what I’m holding onto – that the people of Marysville have risen from the ashes of the 2009 bushfires.  And that I’m going to do just the same in the face my own personal challenges.  I need a good dose of trails to lift me back up, the smell of eucalypts and the feel of dirt under my feet.  Come Sunday in my first real marathon, I’m going to focus on simply feeling alive to every single footfall, to the simplicity that running can bring, to the soulfulness that will enable me to face life’s many challenges.

Because that wise self knows that I will find my stability and peace of mind again, through a long, steady run in the woods.

Emotions run high.

It’s been quiet at my blog.  I wanted to write, but the emotions were running too high.  You see, my son had his first sleep-away camp (two nights and three days away from home).  I’d like to say I handled it like Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet, who I referred to almost immediately after my son’s bus left.  “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth,” Kahlil counsels wisely.  “The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows might go swift and far.  Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves the bow that is stable.”

Stable.  Yeah, right.  That was me.  I was stable if that included snapping at my husband, crying my eyes out after the bus departed, and that horrible sad feeling I had for the whole of the first day my son was gone.  Last week, I wrote you the following blog, shortly after the squabble and just after the departure…

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Being a psychologist, I believe all emotions should be allowed, embraced, and used as learning tools.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I personally like all of them.

Take yesterday.  I wasn’t a little bit grumpy.  Feeling peeved.  I hadn’t had a bad morning in a generic sense, one of those someone-spit-in-my-cornflakes sort of days.  Nope.

Lava fountain within the crater of Volcan Vill...

Lava fountain within the crater of Volcan Villarrica. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nope.  I was furious.  A red-rage kind of fury.  The kind that spills like lava and burns everything in a hundred-mile radius.  The kind that makes you want to punch a hole in the nearest wall.  It doesn’t matter what made me angry.  Because we all get angry.  Sometimes for highly justifiable reasons; sometimes not so much.  I’d already bitten the heads off all my family members (figuratively speaking), and they’d left the house anyway.  There was only one thing left to do.

I got my runners, my Garmin, and the key to the front door.  Then I bolted down the street like the pavement was on fire.  I was so angry (and Psychology 101 teaches us that pain underlies anger) that tears were in my eyes as I ran, and I kept my eyes focussed on the sidewalk because it was school-run time, and I didn’t want to explain my particular expression to anyone at school later.  What a relief when I moved off the direct path to school, and began along the coastal track.  The emotion still burned in me, the tears were flowing more freely, and I began to think hard about what was going on, swearing inside, shouting, cursing, raging.

On and on I ran.  The emotion made me run faster than usual, as if I were burning the emotion away by physical effort.  But it made me feel heavier as well, made me want to stop, rest my head on my hands on the fence and cry.  I didn’t; I simply kept running.

I had planned twenty kilometres for this run, and by the time I got to eight, the tears had gone.  I was simply feeling tired.  I kept going, up a set of stairs, along the bike path because my trail had run out.  Heartbreak Hill is near Rickett’s Point.  It’s a gradual incline on a straight, concrete path, with cars alongside.  No trees; no dirt; no native animals.  It feels like penance, like how running might feel to a non-runner who hasn’t found the elation button yet.  It only lasts a kilometre or so, but feels much longer.  I pushed on, noticing that my anger/pain had eased; I was almost surprised when it flared up now and again.  I’d started to forget how I’d been feeling.

It wasn’t until I had turned around and run back to around the 14k mark that I noticed I’d not thought of emotion at all in about twenty minutes.  Good.  It was working.  My pace was slower than usual, but I knew this was because of the emotional upheavals I’d been having – there is only so much energy in any one human, and I’d used a lot up lately.

The last few kilometres home were hard, but only physically.  The emotion had burned itself out.  I was calmer, had come to terms with what was bothering me.  I could face the problems I had with a more grown-up perspective, and know that the world was not ending, and that I didn’t have to end my world.

Did I feel better?  Did running magically fix what was wrong.  Nope.  But it gave me the mental break I needed to cope better.

Sometimes a bolt out the door is really very called for, for everyone’s sake.

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So that brings us back to this week.  My son has returned safe and sound, he hasn’t grown so much that I’m no longer important, and all my fears were unrealised (okay, so I asked about the Emergency Evacuation Plan at the pre-camp meeting – that seemed reasonable, what with bushfires and all!).  Oh, and I’ve stopped snapping at everyone around me.  Phew.

A new week has begun.  A week that marks three weeks until the Marysville Marathon, in fact.

Marysville Marathon Course courtesy of Trails +

Marysville Marathon Course (courtesy of Trails+)

Oh yes, perhaps that had something to do with the high emotions too.  I’ve been training hard, clocking up 60k plus weeks, with long runs of 30, 32, and 35k. I’ve been tired, but more than that, I’ve been nervous.

In the past, I’ve run an ultra-marathon (50k); I’ve run 43k all by myself in the woods in training.  But I’ve never run an actual marathon.  Marysville is a trail marathon, meaning hills and woods and tree roots. And up until last week, I was struggling to find a good course description (not that I’m a control freak and want to know every variable to train for, but…)

Luckily, I live in the same town as the race organiser, who also happens to sell mighty fine GU Gels.  Last week, after he released the above course map on Facebook, I stopped by his shop to buy gels.  He began to ring up my purchase (“What’s your name?” he said, to enter it into the computer.  “Patricia Bowmer.”  “Ah, the compulsive blogger.  I like reading your stuff,” he said).  I began to question him (okay, interrogate him like an NCIS investigator) about the course, so he kindly pulled the course map up on the big screen tv behind the counter.   Then he spent a good ten minutes talking me through the course, sharing the elevation change with me (I’d noticed that didn’t appear in his Facebook posts about the course), the technical sections, the hilly bits; I was reassured that the training runs I was doing were good enough.  The other customer in the shop was just relieved when I finally left.

So please forgive my silence.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell the truth when I’m blogging, when life is more difficult than I’d care to admit.

I’ve made it through the dark clouds and rainstorms now, and with only one long run left before the marathon, I am looking forward to a nice, relaxing taper.

And now I’m going to give my son one more goodnight kiss…