Mt Gambier parkrun - #parkruntourist

I'm a fan of being a parkrun tourist and this latest parkrun day I was in Mount Gambier.

It was a small gathering of just 62 runners and in true parkrun style, there was good comraderie at the start.  Which, I might add, is a permanent fixture at Blue Lake in Mount Gambier, South Australia.

Ashgrove parkrun - Accidental Historian

Today I ran Ashgrove parkrun. It was my first 5k run for months and it felt good to run all the way, and finish just a few seconds behind the 35 minute pacer from the Ashgrove Rangers.

The parkrun is based at the Ashgrove Sports Grounds and utilises the Enoggera Creek Bikepath. I haven't run along this bikeway very much - but I've run around Enoggera Reservoir a few times... so there was a nice synergy for a comeback run.

I noticed plaques along the bikeway during the run so when I walked back to my car I took a closer look.

GNW100s in pictures (and some words that have taken a while to come).

My awesome crew took so many pictures from GNW100. Like most pictures - they tell a story all by themselves and express something that I felt but didn't know how to put into words.

Many of you will have read my warts and all review of GNW100s and perhaps even the dissection.

This post is for those of you that want to know what really happened. Those of you who love the zen of Athletic Powerhouse.

How to crew like a boss

My race report from GNW100s was long enough without going into details of how awesome my support crew were. Besides, SEG and JQ deserve a post all of their own.

Digesting GNW100

If you want a blow by blow of how my attempt at the Great North Walk 100s (GNW100s) went down, read my previous blog post. It's long but worth it (I might be biased).

This post is a little more reflective, but most importantly answers questions I've been most frequently asked about my experience at the Great North Walk 100s.

Chewed up and spat out

In the week leading up to the Great North Walk 100s I read this race preview that served as a warning of how this run wanted to treat me.

From the time that I entered, every time I told someone who knew of this event of my goal to conquer the GNW100 miler, they looked impressed. I can see now that they were impressed because they knew that the marketing of "Australia's toughest trail races" isn't just marketing. It's fact, evidenced by the imposing the drop out rate.

This year, by my calculations*, only 53% of the field finished the distance they entered. I am beyond disappointed that I was not one of this 53%.

I'm not known for my DNFs... so what happened this time?

Time to dance

Those of you who've been playing along at home know that for most of my big events I've had a theme song.

For the most part they've been powerful, meaningful songs. For The Great North Walk 100, I've chosen this.

Stay with me. I am serious. Read on and see why Shut up and Dance is perfect for me right now.

MacGyver was an ultra runner

Well, if he wasn't, he should have been.

I've discovered that MacGyver's ability to turn a piece of chewing gum and a match into a battery charger would come in handy in solving some last minute logistical challenges with my equipment.

This is how I've been MacGyvering the Great North Walk 100s.

Decide and donate II: Mad or Magnificent?

This time next week I will know whether or not I'm capable of covering 175ks on foot in 36 hours.

I am ready to go. Nearly. I'm ironing out a few logistical challenges, and I hope I'll have time to blog about them this week.

This time last year I ran my first 100k event and raised over $1,000 for my favourite charities. When I mentioned my upcoming event to one of my workmates, she asked me if I was going to do a charity drive again.

Her rationale:
"100 miles! You need to know people are supporting you on that kind of thing!"

So here I am, launching Decide and Donate II. Once again, it's over to you. What do you think? Mad or Magnificent? I'm asking you to decide, and on the basis of your decision, make a small donation to one of the charities I support on an ongoing basis.

Why potato chips are an integral part of my nutrition plan

Did anyone know there used to be a potato chip factory at the base of Mt Coot-tha?

I didn't either until I read this sign while passing by on the weekend.

"Normal people are in bed"

I completed 87ks in training last weekend - just two runs, 37ks Saturday and 50ks on Sunday.

I only have one weekend of hard training left before the Great North Walk 100 - today I'll run 24ks home, tomorrow I'll run 40ks (via the new Chermside parkrun), then on Sunday I'll run 50ks on trails.

I am trying to remind myself that this has become a new normal for me... but I keep thinking about the dude that passed me on the trail early on Saturday morning, and grinned back at me over his shoulder, and said, "normal people are in bed you know."

Why am I still running?

So I haven't blogged much since TNF100, but I have been posting photos on Facebook and Instagram. I've been busy. I've been running like crazy, all over the place.

Last week on Instagram I got this response from a friend.

I feel like I need to explain that what's driving me to keep running isn't determination. Largely, it's fear.

Farewell, winter solstice

haven't had to deal with winter training for a couple of years... well, not in the deep depths of winter, otherwise known as the winter solstice. Even as I sit here on Monday morning, writing this, it's only just getting light and it's nearly 7am.

It only lasts for a couple of days but every year around the solstice I feel like the world is darker, less shinier. And it's definitely colder. I don't know why, but it affects my mood. All I want to do is hibernate until it's over.

I didn't have a great weekend of training over the weekend, but yesterday I trumped winter solstice.

High points, low points, and the all important three points

Wow. I did it. I finished The North Face 100.

It's two weeks later and if I'm really honest about it - the relief of knowing I've accrued another three qualifying points for the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc is my most dominant emotion.

That's not to say I'm not proud of my achievement. It's The North Face 100. It doesn't tickle. It wasn't my first 100k event, but I didn't know whether I was capable of finishing. So there is plenty to be proud of.

And it's not to say that there wasn't any fun or fear during the 100ks. There was both of these things, in spades. So my race report is all about my high points and low points from TNF100.

My new running handbag

Not long before my first ultramarathon I took you on a tour of my running handbag.

A few days out from my The North Face 100, I've realised that an update is wildly overdue. I've upgraded my pack and bolstered its contents, mainly because of the mandatory equipment requirements of TNF100.

Let's take a look.

Coral Sea Commemorations: Newstead Park

Yesterday on my run I came across a bunch of Navy officers in Newstead Park.

I couldn't help myself, I had to ask what the gathering was for.

A journey song for TNF100

For someone who never trains with an iPod, music can be pretty important to me when I race.

I wrote a previous blog post about songs that remind me of Ironman. In fact I used to pick a theme song almost habitually when I started building my training up for an event. For my very first Ironman it was Opportunity by Pete Murray. I got through my long day at Ironman Western Australia with the defiance of The Pretender by The Foo Fighters.

These days, I pick a theme song only when it feels right. I've reinstated the tradition for The North Face 100.

Loop after loop after loop

Last weekend was the biggest running weekend I've ever compeleted - 82ks in two runs.

On Saturday I met up with a friend who dragged me halfway around the river loop before I headed for home a little slower.

On Sunday I started in the dark, and took in this view on a loop around Enoggera Reservoir at the Gap.

My doctor is awesome

The fact that I had to visit my doctor this week is not awesome and neither is the abundance of vitamins I've been taking for the last week.

Vitamin C, horseradish, garlic, and zinc tablets for my cold.
My self prescribed cocktail of vitamin C, echinacea, garlic, horseradish, zinc.

I went to the doctor yesterday as a precaution. I've had a cold in the last week and with The North Face 100 only four weeks away, I wanted to be sure that it is just a cold, and there's no hidden infection, or worse, lurking about.

My doctor though, is awesome. I went in feeling like I was being high maintenance for presenting with barely a sore throat. I walked out feeling like an elite athlete.

Wild Horse Criterium - a good hard training session

In my last blog post I hinted at what the next few weeks of training looked like for me. Right there, at the very end, after all my feeling sorry for myself, it's there.

I wrote that I still need a few good hard training sessions before The North Face 100.

I can now say that I've got one of these under my belt. Over the weekend I completed the 55k event at the Wild Horse Criterium.

Six months to six weeks. I still need help.

Late last year I enlisted the services of a personal trainer.

This was a confronting thing for me to do. I have the core strength of a dead fish and the coordination of a fence post. This was not going to be easy.

But this is why I hired a trainer. When was the last time you heard about a dead fish, or a fence post, or with someone of the attributes of these things, finishing mountainous 100 mile ultramarathons? The comparison is perhaps ridiculous, but the point is, I needed help.

Need a cure for ornithiphobia? Don't ask me.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter would already have seen this photo. I snapped it part way through my weekly run to work.

Nice isn't it?

I have a confession to make. 

Taking this photo got my heart rate up more than the run did. I think I'm ornithophobic. While sneaking up to take photos like this might be considered therapy, I don't think my fear of birds is going anywhere, anytime soon.

Beerwah @ Night

This weekend saw the first of the Run Queensland day/night series - Beerwah@Night.

It was my first event of the year, first trail run for a while, and first time out in the dark since the Glasshouse 100. I was happy to find out last week that for once I'd have some reinforcements. Daggy and Matt, who both trained in the same triathlon squad as me many moons ago, were having a hitout too.

How to do a one legged burpee

Firstly, don't ask me. I didn't even know they were a thing until this week's PT session.

Suffice to say - I'm pretty sure I didn't look like this.

Obviously I don't really know what I looked like but I felt like I looked like a cross between these next two videos.

(I've always maintained that I have the coordination of a dead fish so the title of the second video is apt.)

I promised my trainer I would practice. I will. Tomorrow.

Runner's high / runner's low

What, never heard of a runner's low?

I've had one for about the last month. And I had even a few acute attacks on this morning run.

Nobody ever talks about the runner's low but I'm pretty sure it's a thing.

My guide to Brisbane's best* parkruns

For the last few months I've been enjoying time off serious training and spending many Saturday mornings being a parkrun tourist.

By my calculations, Brisbane has 18 park runs, including west to Ipswich, south to Logan River, and north to North Lakes. I've done 11 of them now. So the * in my blog title is a disclaimer that my ratings are based on *most* but not *all* parkruns in Brisbane.

My training now has to get a little more specific for what lies ahead, which means I'll have less time to parkrun in the near future. While I intend to get to the rest of the parkruns as soon as I can, I thought I'd summarise my time as a parkrun tourist with my awards for the fastest, the friendliest, the hardest, most scenic, best community atmosphere, and the most surprising.