Gold Coast Marathon Wk7 – Rainbows And Hailstones

This week was great to mix it up again. Hills session on Tuesday and Friday I combined my tempo run with a ‘functional training’ session, back with Adam, my PT, in his new studio.

I had a lot of fun and it was great to be back doing strength training again. Even though I was sore the next day, especially gluts and hamstrings, I know that over the coming weeks as I’m increasing the kms, my legs will appreciate it, as they will be stronger.

You can check out some of the videos we shot of the various exercises, here.

As my legs were still sore and in shock 48 hrs after my strength training session, I decided against a long run on Sunday, and opted for a 10km run to flush out the lactic acid.

I can't feel my fingers!!!!

Home at last & I can’t feel my fingers!!!!

I thought I timed it perfectly setting off from home, in between showers. Although I was blessed with an amazing full rainbow at 2km, the heavens soon opened after that sighting. The horizontal rain was relentless and I wondered why on earth I’d left home without a rain jacket.

Just another 5km and I’ll be home for a hot shower, I thought. Knowing that every step I took now, I was closer to home. I only saw a couple of other early morning ‘crazy’ runners like me running in the rain, I think the rest of the town were still snuggled up in bed.

I smiled to myself, knowing that I’d made the effort today, that I got up and ran no matter what.

I smiled again, when the heavens opened, this time – HAIL STONES.

I’ve never run in hail before, it seemed a bit of an adventure, talk about 4 season in one day. I was already soaked to the skin, and cold to the bone, with my runners full of water. I thought, bring it on I can’t get any wetter now, sheltering for a while till the storm past before I kept on running.

Gold Coast Marathon Wk6 – Smashing Up The Hills!!!!!

This week was all about hill training for me.

So my ‘sprint session’ was replaced with a circuit of 2 repeats running up a steep hill close to home. Glad I got out of bed for this one on a cold morning, even if it took a lot of mental strength to keep going up the 2nd hill repeat. I was chuffed that I did it, and before the ‘rest of the world was even out of bed’

Sunday’s long run was a hilly 19km which I’m still feeling the effects of as I write this. I know that hills make me stronger and faster, that’s why I do it, but it’s a love-hate relationship though.

This week, I attended the Fitness and Health Expo in Melbourne, and Amy Giannotti, top Aussie triathlete, talk on nutrition was a bit of an eye opener. She mentioned that men’s daily iron requirement is 8 mg, women’s is 18mg and if you’re a female long distance runner it’s 23 mg a day.

Chicken Liver Cabbage & Silverbeet

Holy cow, as I’m borderline anaemic anyway, I better keep my iron levels topped up.

So today’s lunch was Chicken Liver on a bed of cabbage and silverbeet. Now I have bad childhood memories of my Mum serving up fried liver and bacon, however knowing that I’m naturally low in iron, and last year having an ‘iron booster’ injection, I certainly didn’t want to deplete my reserves, as I love my running so much.

Top tip, disguise the liver with onion, garlic, paprika and parsley…. and you have one hell of a yummy satisfying protein/iron packed meal. Click here for the recipe.

Enjoy :)

Gold Coast Marathon Wk 5 – Thank Heavens For Google Maps!

This week saw a couple of short runs again, although one involved hill bashing. Good to get back into that, as it’s such a great feeling conquering a ‘mother of a hill’ in one go :)

My weekend long runs are getting longer so mixing it up with new routes was the order of the day today. Easy I thought, I’ll do an out and back 12.5km each way. Sounds easy, quick check on google maps the night before to plot out a route, adding a bit on to my usual Barwon River run.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it, until when you’re out running and you’re looping around on streets in a suburb you’re unfamilar with in a delirious state of running checking out the scenery, miss your turning and end up heading for a railway crossing. Nope this doesn’t look familiar. Arrrgh not what …….

Thank heavens for my trusty I Phone and Google maps to locate where I was and put me back on track to find my way home – Phew!!!

Last week I said I’d be squeezing in more strength work. Well to do ‘the perfect squat’ imagine you’re sitting down on a chair, and getting back up again.

So based on that I’ve devised the perfect ‘loo workout’ LOL. As a break from work, when you visit the loo mid morning and mid afternoon, do a minimum of 5 squats (just touching the loo seat, then back up. Awesome, not only will it get the heart pumping you’re guaranteed to get the blood flowing to the legs too. A great way to sneak in an extra 70 squats a week.

My thought of the day on this morning’s run, is running is split into 4 foundations – Strength, Stamina, Flexibility and Mind Power. Think of them like legs of a table, you need them all for the table to be straight, solid and to function at it’s best. It’s a good idea to incorporate all of those into your training on a weekly basis.

Gold Coast Marathon Wk4 – A Reality Check

Oh lordie, I’ll be honest with you after easing back on the kms last week, today’s long run of 20kms felt TOUGH.

Yep the mind chatter was there early today with the constant “I’m tired, I know I shouldn’t have had that curry last night, what sorted of prep was that…… just another 5km then I’ll walk for a bit”

However I’ve learnt not to pay attention to ‘this voice’ and keep on running, enjoying the scenery, listening to my music, and just grateful that I’m able to go for a run.

Yes there were a couple of walking breaks today, more toilet stops though, and I know in time I will be able to run for 30kms+ again, without stopping. But now I’m in the build up phase and listening to my body more this time, so it doesn’t breakdown and is able to stay the course, getting me across the finish line of the Gold Coast Marathon this July.

The thing is with me once I get past 10-12km, I kick into another gear, find my groove and I’m off, clocking up the kms, completely in the zone, my happy place :)

My reality check today is that I’ve omitted strength training from my weekly routine for months now. To be honest I have a love hate relationship with weights, although I know the awesome benefits to my body and running when I do them. That’s why I reckon it was tough today, as the speed was down and limited power in the legs, although I still managed to complete 20kms including a mother of a hill.

So I’m committed to getting back to the squats and the lunges to build the power back in my legs, as well as other strength exercises of course.

Gold Coast Marathon Wk3 – Only 2 Small Ones This Week

So Wk3 of my training and I had an extremely ‘light’ training week. As I said at the start of this training, I would ‘balance’ my running this time with my other commitments and how my body is doing week by week.

This week, I just needed to ‘recharge my batteries’ so I listened, as a result of broken sleep and a 3 day business conference.

So I squeezed 2 small 3 km runs in and walked the rest of the time.

Short and sweet.

Gold Coast Marathon Wk2 – If You Want The Outcome You Have To Put In The Work

This week was a mix of 2 small runs and one insane long run :)

It was also a week of birthday celebrations for my husband. Now I’m not a big drinker by any stretch of the imagination. Although now and then I do like a ‘social’ drink.

What I’ve noticed recently though, the cleaner I eat, that when I do drink alcohol, how crap it actually makes my body feel.

Then on top of that running the next day….. oh man… pain, on so many levels.

So this week was another interesting journey on how certain food and drink affects me – physically and emotionally. And again I came to realise that the ’5 minute pleasure’ it might ‘pretend’ to give, is not worth the pain that’s left in my body for up to 48 hours afterwards.

I suppose I’m lucky that I have developed this much body-mind awareness, and what works for me. And I know that everyone is on a different journey right, and some people might not be sensitive to certain food types or drink, which is great.

So consequently feeling crap after eating a curry 2 nights early left me feeling BLAH before I was due to set off for my long run. So originally I planned to run 20-22km, so how did I pull 25km out of the bag ?

Read more on how I was able to do that here. 

So even though I felt BLAH, I focussed on my outcome (Gold Coast Marathon) and put in the work anyway – 25km.

Happy dance for sure :)

Gold Coast Marathon Wk1 – Hilly 16km

Ok so we’re back, and out training again for another race. Although this one’s going to be different.

As I said in my last post this one I’m doing it MY way, yes there’s a training plan, and for me this time it’s all about listening to that body-mind-spirit connection and listening to what it needs and doing it in unison.

So 2 small 3km runs to kick off week one training for the 2015 Gold Coast Marathon. Then this morning it was time for a familiar circuit around town.

I forgot how hilly it was, (10 hills), as I’d been training on pretty much flat courses until now. 3 km in I was wishing for a break, keep going to 5km I said to myself.

Kitten 5kmThen I was blessed with the perfect break, a black and white kitten on a fence at 5km perfect. I’m a sucker for cats, so it would have been rude not to stop wouldn’t it. Many pats and purrs later, we walked down the road together, until the kitten hit that ‘invisible boundary crossing’ and then sat down.

It was a lovely diversion, although getting going again by running straight up another hill wasn’t much fun. At least I had the happy thoughts of the kitten to get me to the top of that hill.

The good thing about running up hills, although they might be painful at the time, it’s the sure fire quickest way I know to build strength and stamina. When I finally reached the flat sections, although it felt like I was running slowly I had actually picked up some pace in my legs.

I was glad to stop at 16km. In the last few weeks I had built up to 20km on the flat, so I was glad to intersperse with a slightly shorter hilly run.

I knew it wouldn’t be long before I bolted more kms onto the end of this hilly course in the coming weeks, like I had done before. :)

Onwards and Upwards.

The Day That EVERYTHING Changed

You know those days and events in your life, when something happens, and EVERYTHING is turned on its head.

Yep everyone has them right. The thing that matters, is how you ‘deal with and react’ to those events.

So here’s the thing, for those of you who have been following my blog for a while, would know that last year I was training for my 1st marathon – Melbourne Marathon in October.

All was going well, I was on track, I was following my training plan, eating well, recovering from each long run, getting regular massages, doing strength work. Yes there were ups and downs along that journey, but looking back at it I was moving forward, and I was on track to getting to the starting line in one piece, having trained well, prepared for the race and ready to go when that gun was fired. Until…….

The wheels truly feel off, and in a BIG way, that I couldn’t have predicted at all.

2 weeks out from the marathon, I had a massive migraine and in writhing pain for 5 hrs, that resulted in numbness in my right foot, pins and needles sensation down my right side of my body, hot sensation on my back and my left hand I found difficult to control when I wrote, resulting in my writing being scrawly, like a granny.

I was scared, desolate, vulnerable and panic stricken. Was it a stroke or worse. What was going on with my body, I just wanted to understand, be better and run again. But my body had other plans……

Many blood tests and scans later, resulted in no concrete news. But I needed answers fast, I had my 1st marathon to run in a fortnight, I’d trained for it God damn it. And as you’re reading this, as a runner, you get that, right.

Luckily my GP who’s also a runner, he got it, he knew the importance of it for me and in the same breath I had symptoms that no-one had answers for, even the neurologist registrar advised me not to run as I was showing ‘an undiagnosed neurological condition’. What the F does that mean?

Call me stubborn but a few days later I did run, only 10km, just to see how my body was, if it was ‘better’ but I still couldn’t feel my right foot. It STILL felt numb as if it was wrapped up in cotton wool, jerking my whole right leg forward as I kicked for power and wondering every time if my right foot would actually hit the ground or would I crumble in a heap. If I could pull this off I thought, maybe just maybe I’d be able to run the marathon…… nope not today honey.

So the marathon came and went, and I wasn’t on the starting line. I did go as a spectator to cheer the runners on, tears of joy for the runners for keeping going and achieving their dreams, and tears of sadness for me for not making it, although I knew in my gut I’d be back, that one day I’d run that race…. I just had to figure this all out 1st.

The next month involved more blood tests, more MRI full spinal and brain scans, then the day came…… November 20th when I was told……

‘You have 8 lesions (inflammation spots) on your brain, 6 old ones and 2 new ones, and because of the number of lesions you have, the diagnosis is MS. It’s a condition where your own nerve cells attack its own immune system.’

NOOOOOOOOO this really can’t be happening, I’ve been healthy all my life, exercised, ate well, training for my 1st marathon, in the best shape ever, how could this be happening to me. The shock set in, and the rest of that meeting with the neurologist was a blur through tears, not knowing what to say, think, do, be, whatever…..maybe it was just one of my crazy Steven Spielberg style mash up dreams, that I’d just wake up from in a cold sweat.

Nope not this time, THIS was actually happening, this was REAL.

Why me, feeling like I’d just been given the cross between a death sentence and life in a wheelchair. I’m sorry but at the time, that was my limited knowledge of what MS meant…. Loose the ability to walk, then wheelchair bound and die.

Not for me. I had so much to learn and research, I’m CHOOSING another reality. 

To say I entered a dark hole after that meeting would be an understatement, literally a day by day, kind of thing, experiencing all the emotions, sometimes all in a day. How I held it together at work during that time I don’t know, I just did what I had to do and then crashed in a heap on the floor sobbing most nights. Some people knew, some didn’t. To be honest I think I was still in denial, that anything had changed, I wanted to be the same, act the same, have my life back…. and oh my God to run again, please say I can still run….

So now 3 months on, I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yes I still have ‘symptoms’ susceptible to temperature changes, all of a sudden without warning – icy cold arms, burning back or legs … poss the nerve endings not firing up, who knows.

Some of the lessons I’ve clearly got in all of this is to ‘let go’, to surrender, let others help me, stop being so damn independent and want to do it all yourself, STOP, rest and relax.

Also the research into how diet can play a MASSIVE part in healing your body has been a huge eye opener for me. I’ve revised my diet completely and now eat gluten, diary and sugar free, and man has that had a massive impact on my energy, ability to stabilise my weight and mood swings. No longer walking around in this ‘brain fog’ I’m now clear and focussed. And when I do introduce something from those food groups, my body negatively reacts, so for me its just not worth the ’5 minute pleasure’ I might get from eating those foods.

And to be honest, I was living a lie before when I thought I was eating ‘healthy foods’ that were still laced with sugar, or pizza, and ‘carbing up’ on pasta the night before a long run and wondering why I felt bloated, stodgy and unable to digest it.

Now I keep it real simple, listen to my body, and eat what it needs, seeing FOOD as FUEL to provide me with energy for the day and my running.

Then there’s the mind and body connection. I’ve always been fascinated with this, and how we create our own reality through our thoughts. I know on some level I created this, and now I intend to create a healthier reality for myself, healing from the inside out, feeding my cells what they need. My kinesiologist, Amanda, is teaching me this on a deeper level.

And what about the running, well yes, I’m happy to say I am running again, and back up to 20km runs. Yes the pace is slower than what I used to run at, and I intersperse it with walk breaks, when my body needs a rest. And man I’m proud of where I’ve come in 3 mths, to go from not being able to feel my foot when I run, taking 1 month off and building back up from scratch again. To be able to run at all is just, wow, a true blessing for me.  

Direction we are moving in (1)So yes the plan is another marathon, set for 5th July – Gold Coast marathon, the 18 week training starts here baby.

Some people I know think I’m daft, after all I’ve been through, and so soon after the diagnosis etc etc.

Why run Sue?!?

Why, because I can and I will.

I’ve no idea how the next 18 weeks will pan out. But one thing for sure, this time, I’m doing it MY way, yes the week to week program is there, but more importantly it’s NOT the push of split times for my sprints, and completing all the runs each week and everything in between, it’s

- the YIN and the YANG

- it’s listening to my body

- having more of a mind – body – spirit connection to my running and life

- to take more breaks, REST when I need to

- watch my diet, my thoughts and my environment

- to give it my best shot, putting a ‘smile on my dial’ whenever I’m out running, cos I’m doing it and I can

And most of all BE ME on a daily basis, be grateful for my life, everyday live it fully TODAY, not live in the past, or the ‘one day do it in the future’.

I don’t know what the future has in store for me or how my body will react to training for another marathon, I can plant ‘thought seeds’ of where I’m heading, sure and then live in the now.

Cos after all that’s all we have, is the NOW. So live it now, your way.

Your time is now and you’re ready for the next step.

So I share my journey and where I’m at cos my wish for you, is no matter where you are in your life, whatever challenges you’ve faced/are facing, whatever your running journey is, whatever your dreams and your aspirations are that you remember….

You have this!!

Wish It … Dream It … Do It!

Sue xo

Wk 16 – Devastated And I’ll Be Back

Marathon NumberSo after last weeks unexplained health hiccup, this week unfolded into more tests.

Monday morning came and the waiting game was over – an ultra scan of the neck followed by an MRI brain scan. to be honest my imagination last Friday of feeling claustrophobic in the MRI tunnel were unfounded really. I was brave, and used the power of my mind to take me to a happy place, laying very still while the MRI unit took pictures and whirled, juddered and just basically did its thing. The attendant was on intercom the whole time, so talked me through each scan lasting up to 8 minutes at a time. Top tip – if you ever need to have a MRI scan then where the headphones that are offered, close your eyes, let the music take you to a ‘happy’ place and relax.

The results were back by Tuesday, with a call from Doctor 1 on the Tuesday, saying the MRI brain scan showed that there was an abnormality on the LHS of the spinal cord level with the lower ear. Believe me this is not the kind of news you want to receive on the phone. I bought my appt forward with my doctor to Tuesday afternoon so I could hear the full version. More tests – reflexes, flexibility, strength and co-ordination all proved ok. I was also told that the ultrasound in my neck showed up that my artery was 50% capacity…….”There is a small T2 and FLAIR hyperintense focus within the within the left side of the cord, at the level of the cranio-cervical junction…… it could indicate demyelination or other causes of myelopathy (post infection, autoimmune, metabolic etc.

A neurologist registry was called for an opinion, as the evidence and symptoms weren’t conclusive. My doctor being a runner, knew that in my heart I still wanted to run in the marathon. 4 months of training and then not to do it – really!!!!!!! However the truth be known that I was so so low in energy that walking up stairs or even on the flat left me feeling washed out and tired. So to run 42.2km in a race… are you kidding. The registry recommended not to run, as the ‘abnormality on the brain’ wasn’t fully diagnoised and would need an appointment to see the neurologist who would need to see the results of more blood tests and a full MRI spine scan.

What could I do but go along with it all. The out of pocket medical expenses were starting to mount up, but really that was the least of my concerns. I just wanted to be miraculously better so I could run on Sunday, and to get answers as to what it was, as nothing was concrete at this stage.

I was gradually feeling more and more disheartened as the week went on, monitoring my every move to see if I felt any better, but my writing was like a grandmother, I still had pins and needles down the RHS of my body, and my back and legs felt as if I was constantly standing up against a heater.

Wednesday morning doctors appointment unveiled that the MRI spine scan was ok, however it did show up the original ‘unexplained neurological condition’ and the doctor and Neurologist recommended I didn’t run. Whether I took that advice was up to me……..

Midst of turmoil, knowing over the years I’ve become more in tune with my body, I actually did some ‘woo-woo’ inner work on my body to help the areas that werent quite right. Throughout this period I slept, cried, ate and best I could took my mind off things. Thursday – massage and a lovely thai dinner with Rod, just to bring a bit of ‘good stuff’ in the midst of turmoil, doctors, tests, and unsolved answers.

Then the idea of ‘ well you could down grade… perhaps the 10km’ I had a plan….. I was also able to cancel my 3 nights accommodation, thank you OK so if I was better by Friday, that’s what I would do. I was in Melbourne anyway that day, but walking around the city still left me drained.

Sue Finishing LineI visited the MCG to pick up my number and I was filled with so emotion, tears welling in the eyes, feeling like a failure, an imposter, vulnerable, scared, angry and frustrated. I really had to turn it around in my head….. wow would I say all these things to my best friend. NO.

The truth was I’d done the best I could do. I trained for 16 weeks, and increased my training week on week, ran 1/2 marathon distance or more for 13 weeks straight, I had ran the furthest I’d ever run – 35km, I had inspired others alonfg the way. Hell no failure here, and at the end of the day I told myself, if this happened in one of my training runs, would I run a long run, or rest. The answer I would rest, so what was the difference here…. just to do it cos I entered the race…. there would be plenty more.

So as I write this now, the marathon is happening, I’m not running. I visited the course in a midst of tears of joy for the runners and tears of sadness for me and what could have been. The bigger picture of this is still unfolding for me, and I believe that everything happens for a reason, even at the time I’m sometimes unsure what it is, sometimes you might never know. However I do believe one thing, this was created so I learn to rest, let go, take it easy, listen to my body more, understand it and the signs it’s telling me. However I will return to Melbourne Marathon, fitter and stronger and enter again, not only enter but complete it with a big smile on my face.

As the days have progressed this week, I started to regain my energy, and my RHS has returned to normal, I still have a back which feels on fire, and a ‘pending’ neurologist appointment on Thursday.

The thought I’m left with… I might have been dealt lemons, and it’s my choice whether I make lemonade out of them or not.

It’s not over till the fat lady sings….. I will be back :)


Wk15 – The News I Didn’t Want To Hear

Melb MaraWhen I started this training log, I only agreed to do it if it was ‘warts and all and not to be sugar coated’. So to say this week was a crap week would be an utter understatement of how I truly felt about my running, the marathon and life in general……

Last Sunday’s 21.1km run in the gale force winds really took it out of me, although I rested up on Sunday…. I still felt ‘stuffed’. Now those who know me well, know that I bounce back pretty quickly and onto the next thing. Well this week was different.

Monday was ok just a normal Monday, and I also decided to switch my sprint runs from Tuesday to Wednesday. Tuesday afternoon I developed a sudden pain in the neck which quickly progressed to a migraine on the left hand side of my head. A couple of nurofen, straight to bed, when I got back from work, spending the next 5 hours, attempting to rest, relax and sleep instead I shivered, groaned and apparently looked very grey. The neighbour’s cat stayed with me the whole time…. almost like my nurse maid, just purring and sleeping, as if to reassure me that ‘all is well and this soon shall pass’

By 9pm I was well enough to get some soup and then back to bed. As by now I had a tingling sensation all the way down the RHS of my body, as well as my back feeling as if it was on fire constantly.

Although I went into work the next day, only because I had looming deadlines on some projects and hate taking ‘sick days’, I wasn’t 100% at all. But it was a mild distraction to the growing ‘odd sensation’ I was feeling in my body, that I couldn’t explain what it was.  48 hours later and I wasn’t feeling any better, I went to the doctor, not my usual doctor mind, as he was on holiday.

Being a fit chick, I can count the times I’ve been to the docs in the last 10 years on one hand. I’ve never been a huge fan of doctors, although I needed to know what was going on.

- Have I over done the running

- What did all the tingling down one side of the body mean

- Would I be able to run in the marathon

- Was it a mild stroke, or was it just a trapped nerve or something…. who knows

- Maybe it’s my body just telling me to rest up in a very unexplained way

After a series of questions by the doctor, pulling, prodding, blood pressure, reflex, balance and flexibility tests etc etc.

The response was ‘Your symptoms are vague, and inconclusive… hmm… you could run the marathon….. then if you had a stroke whilst running, I think I would kill myself, I don’t want to be overdramatic though…… I’m going to suggest you have an MRI brain scan, a carotid arteries (neck) ultra scan and blood tests.’

What the…..brain scan….. Now that sounds pretty serious to me. Maybe its just the doctor covering all bases and being over pre cautious, but I still didn’t like the sound of the seriousness of it all. I went next door to get my blood tests, as the sooner I got this ball rolling, the sooner I’d know what the hell was going on. I’m not good at ‘playing a waiting game’, and the marathon was in 10 days time. I needed answers fast.

The shock of the news had set in now, and I burst into tears, after I had my blood taken. Luckily the nurse had had an MRI brain scan a couple of years ago, and was able to talk me through it, saying that it was nothing to worry about.

So with the MRI scan booked for this Monday and test results back on Wednesday, I’d play it by ear. If the results were ok I’d run, if not, well we’re cross that bridge if it happens.

Friday was a day spent in Melbourne catching up with girlfriends, lunch, dinner, movies, and just basically keeping my mind off it. I still had the odd burning sensations and tingling down my RHS although was doing my best to keep my mind on fun stuff and not dwell on the unknown, cos it could be nothing right.

Saturday was a ‘feeling flat, lethargic day’ but by Sunday I had bounced back enough to want to give a small run a go, even with the pain, just to see if I could run. Call me pig headed, stupid, insane, whatever, …. I just wanted to see if I could. Running had become so much a part of my life now, that I miss it when I don’t run, and feel energised and free when I do run. So ran I did.

I managed 10km – at a very gingerly pace, 1-1.5min per km slower than what I would normally run, as it felt difficult at times to feel my right leg running, I felt a bit lame, as if it was in cotton wool and my left hand side was over compensating for it, difficult to feel the right leg firing in a running motion, but still I made it, so felt quite chuffed at that.

So although I still have this ‘odd sensation’ in my RHS of my body, I feel a bit more energised, alert and alive after my run. Maybe I’m just getting used to the ‘odd’ feeling now.

So with nothing left to prove to myself or others, and with all my training done, I will do the marathon next Sunday, dependant on the test results and how I’m feeling. My health is more important than ‘running the marathon, just because I’ve entered the race and I’ve trained for it’

Monday and the MRI scan will come and go, and will be a blip in my overall life.

It is what it is, and this too shall pass.