Run Melbourne 10K

Me and the nearly 9 month old Pippa post race!

Me and the nearly 9 month old Pippa post race!

Last Sunday was the BIG day.

I had been nervously anticipating Race Day for a little while, and when I woke just before 7am I was considerably pleased that the original forecast for rain & hail had indeed been incorrect, as the skies greeted me with frost and sun. I ran around getting ready, and decided to only eat two pieces of toast for the fear that my usual breakfast of porridge would not sit well in my stomach during the race. I had put my clothes out the night before, pinned on my race number, even making sure I had the right underwear. I didn’t want to run around disorganised in the morning and miss my train. After breastfeeding Pippa, and saying goodbye to the family I headed off to the train station. It really was a beautiful morning, albeit cold!

I arrived at Flinders Street Station at around 8:30, and with my wave of the 10K starting around 9:30 I was fairly confident I had enough time to do the things I needed to do. First stop, like just about every other female in Australia, was the toilet. The line at the Station was huge, so I ran around and found some at Hungry Jacks. There were even lines there! The solidarity of a group of ladies, clearly in their running gear, standing at a Fast Food Restaurant toilets early on a cold winters morning was great. We smiled knowing smiles at one another, and laughed about the hunt for a toilet, and trying to avoid queues, all the while standing in one.

The next step was bag drop-off, so I headed back to Flinders Street, trying to get to Federation Square. It was so congested. Due to safety, we couldn’t simply cross the road at Flinders, but go down via an underpass and there was a terrible bottleneck. It took maybe 15 minutes simply to get over to Fed Square. I was really glad that Paul had decided to come in later with the girls and the giant double pram (which I love by the way), and would be able to miss the worst of the crowding.

After finally getting across to the bag drop off area, and convincing myself that despite the chilly temperature and icy wind, that I was not cold and didn’t need a jumper, I still had about 20 minutes or so until the race, so I had a look around the place.

I have only done a few Fun Runs – maybe 5 all together. But I think this one might have been the biggest! There were stands for all different kinds of things – charities, companies etc. There were bands playing, games happening, and the atmosphere was generally quite exciting. I tried not to get carried away in it too much, not that I could really as I was feeling increasingly nervous as the time approached.

But before heading over to the Start I made my way down briefly to the World Vision tent to say hello to some friends, who had finished the Half Marathon already (!!), and then off I went.

There were a lot of people doing the 10K (about 7,000), and so that meant that despite having 4 waves of runners, it was still very crowded. I began running with a wave and a smile to a photographer, guessing that I might not want to smile in any of the other photos! Those of you who run a bit will know that some days you step out and feel good from the start. Some days every step you take is hard, and your body seems to fight it the whole way. Unfortunately, I felt pretty rubbish the whole run. I’m not sure why – maybe I was a little hungry, hadn’t gotten enough sleep, was not hydrated enough – whatever it was, it was yuk. So I knew I wasn’t going to be making a good time. So I focused on getting it done as well as I could, and tried to have a good time.

Around the 3K mark my knees were feeling sore (sometimes happens, sometimes doesn’t), so I had a short walk break, but no longer than 30 seconds. I did this a couple of times during the run, as my knees respond well to just a little break and then I can keep on going.

The kilometres felt loooonnnngggggg. Each time we came to a distance marker I felt as though I had done double! Not knowing the course well, or ever having run that way, might have contributed to it.

Towards the end (last few K’s) I was keeping my eyes out for Paul and the girls, but wasn’t sure if I was see them. So I was super excited when I heard “Melly!” and say Paul next to the road with the girls. A big smile and a wave made my day. And as I cam back past them, Heidi was out of the pram and waving too, and that really helped me keep going. By that stage of the run I was just trying to finish and have fun. I spoke with a few people running alongside me, encouraging them to keep going, and that they were doing a great job. I would have been thrilled had someone done that to me, so just figured it would help some others along too.

As I neared the finish line (gotta love a downhill finish!) I was quite eager to stop running! I got across the line and moved on through the crowds, collected my medal and show bag, had my tag taken off my shoe, and slowly (gingerly) made my way to the World Vision tent where I had planned to meet Paul. After a little stretch (not enough!), a banana and some water, Paul found me and I chatted with some friends.

It was a great morning, and although I didn’t make the 60 minute time that I had originally hoped for, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I was happy to finish in 1:13 – a time that I can hopefully improve on one day! More importantly though, I am so proud, with the help of family and friends, to have raised over $400 for World Vision and the amazing work that they do around the world to help vulnerable and impoverished people. If I had walked the whole thing I would still be proud to have raised the money. What a joy it is to give to others!

I am also so glad to have reached my second (of two) major fitness goals for the year: To run a 10K before Pippa turns 1. Pippa is almost 9 months old, so I have beaten my deadline by 3 months! Yay! And I am happy to be an example of a healthy lifestyle to my two little girls. I love it that when I put on my running clothes Heidi says, “Mummy’s going for a run!” I am FAR from perfect, but I hope to encourage them towards an active and healthy lifestyle.

Finally, thank you for all of the support, encouragement and donations that you have given to this great cause. May we do what we can to make a difference, somehow. Thank you for giving your change to make a change.

PS. In case you were wondering, donations can be made up until the end of August…


Fitness Fill-in & Fundraising

This is the most true statement of all true statements. About running. And treadmills.

This is the most true statement of all true statements. About running. And treadmills.

Quite obviously I have sucked at blogging each Friday about Fitness. There is no denying, avoiding or ignoring it. I tried that for a little while, but have chosen to move on. Ha. So I have oh-s0-intelligently named this post “Friday Fill-in & Fundraising” because I know that a wonderfully creative post title will help you to forgive me more easily. Thank you.

As many of you will know, largely due to the countdown on the main blog page, the 10K is coming up in 6 days!! This Sunday!! And here is how I am feeling.

10 weeks is a long time to be in training. Maybe it’s not really, but I feel like it is. Well, it’s a long time to stay on task with something that is difficult. Perseverance is required. Perseverance is hard. My perseverance may not have been perfect. But I’m still here.

Running is a mental battle. How a run goes depends almost entirely on my mental state at the time, with slight input from my physical state. A few weeks ago I was still struggling to get back into the habit of a long slow run without walking breaks, as I had been doing lots of quick runs-walk break type running/training. So I decided to go for it, and did 7K fairly comfortably and easily. I was somewhere new and different, with a route more scenic than the usual footpaths around home, and had left Paul to bathe the girls and cook dinner, so felt obligated to really go for it and make the most of the run. My mind determined before my run pretty much if it would be a good one or a bad one.

Fundraising is hard. Much harder than I was expecting. On that note, please think about donating to World Vision! I have no shame!

My motivation has risen and fallen – currently low. I am counting down until Sunday, so I can stop thinking about the training I have to be doing, and how it is all going to go. I know I should be getting more excited, and I think that is beginning, but mostly I am just not feeling great about how my training has gone. I am super glad to be raising money for World Vision, and to attempt a 10K race on Sunday, but it’s not been easy.

What I find hard is finding a balance between being sensible, and making godly decisions, and just doing something regardless. It’s hard not to feel like taking time off from running because my girls have been sick, and I have had a cold/cough for a few weeks (almost cleared up now), and with Pippa not sleeping well. So am I just giving up/weak/looking for reasons and failing at my preparation? Or is that wise when I think about my family? Urgh, it’s so difficult to know. Probably it’s a mix. Sometimes I should have pushed harder, other times I made the right decision.

Running on a treadmill is not fun. I have done it once. I did not like it. See above funny yet true picture.

Running is a family sport. In the sense that Paul really supports me well, and without that I wouldn’t be able to do it! If he doesn’t make time to look after the girls, (and then occasionally encourage me to get out for a run), it doesn’t happen.

I have kept at it. I have run usually 2 or 3 times a week, but my distances have not been long, with 7K being my longest. I am hopeful I can do the 10K! Any advice for my last week, having just recovered from a nasty cough? And what the heck do I do if it pours with rain all through the race – cold, wintery, blustery Melbourne rain? I’m not sure how I feel about this very real possibility…!

Thanks again though for all of your support. And please, any amount of support for World Vision would be life changing to someone, somewhere in the world. And encouraging to me. Thanks.


Fitness Frustrations

My running has not gone well over the last 2 weeks. And being in the middle of training for my first 10K this is not such good news.

I teeter between feeling like I have reasons for this, and guiltily suspect they might be excuses. But I think they really are reasons. Maybe. My reticence to even decide what they are shows my inner turmoil!

Last week Paul was studying like mad as he had 3 exams in 4 days. We then had Saturday to pack, and we left our home at 4:30 Sunday morning. So my decision last week was not actually a decision. I didn’t have time to get out of the house because Paul had so much study.

This week, we arrived in Japan late on Sunday night. It is hot, humid and rainy, and the days have been long. But the major factor in all of this has been a certain child of mine who has been up numerous times during the night. Think 10, 12:30, 2, 4:30 etc. so I’m fairly exhausted and in the I frequent moments of time where I could have an opportunity to get out, sleep is winning.

When I think that my reasons for running are health and family, these reasons to have not been out to run are valid. Putting family first in this way must happen. I know fitness is important, and is part of caring for my family. But that doesn’t always mean I can run when I want. The struggle is to not feel like a failure, but to keep going as soon as I can.

My commitment to doing the 10K hasn’t waned, but my ability to run has just at the moment. I’m actually still hopeful to get out tomorrow. Pray that I can! I want to run at least once in Tokyo!!

Fitness Friday #5

This week has been more encouraging. I am steadily following the 10K program, and while I’m still a way off the actual 10K, I feel that my running is improving. One of my main struggles is speed. I seem to just run very slowly, without a lot of variation in pace. The program I am doing at the moment though, and my concerted mental effort, have seen me running a little faster. Well, at least I feel like I am anyway!

So far this week I have done 2 of my 3 scheduled runs.

Tuesday: 5 x(6 mins run/1 mins walk) Total time = 35 mins. I went about 5.4K in this time, which considering some of that time is walking, means that I am definitely running faster than before.

Friday: 7 x (4 mins run/1 mins walk) Total time = 35 mins. I got changed and ready to go so that as soon as Paul got home from study I could leave. This worked well, as thunderclouds were looming so I knew my time would be short. I managed to fit the run in before the steady downpour that still continues. I feel like my form is good too. When I know the route I am doing, and have done it a couple of times I run holding my head much higher. Running on paths rather than trails helps with this too. I felt good tonight, but I am working hard.

I have a run tomorrow to look forward to – a 50 minute run (well, run/walk). I hope that the rain can hold off, or at least ease for long enough. I think I might head to a park or running track, rather than just run the streets around home.

My exciting news (well, exciting for me!) is that tonight I spent some birthday money and bought an iPhone armband, and new headphones and am currently in the middle of syncing music to my phone. I am excited to try running with music again.

Do you prefer to run with music or without?


Fitness Friday #2

This week was my last week of a relaxed exercise program (read: no program), as I will begin my 10 week running program next week. So this week’s exercise consisted of:

2 x 4/5K runs – moderate intensity

1 x 3K walk with the double pram – with somewhat flat tyres…which increased the required energy significantly!

1 x 2 hour Horse Ride 🙂

I would have liked to have done at least 1 more run this week, but didn’t really have motivation for serious running efforts when I am beginning my countdown program next week.

I am worried about being able to pull off the training required to run my 10K in under 60 minutes. I don’t know if I can stay motivated, or even just run quickly enough. And then I got my Runners World magazine today, and it had a lot of different articles about the mental side of running (as opposed to the physical side). It was great to read some ideas, suggestions and tactics for how to combat getting over mental hurdles that can hold you back physically as well. It was a great reminder to me that running can be much more connected to mental barriers than physical ones.

When I started running I used to think, “I could never run a 5K” because I ‘wasn’t a runner’, because I was unfit, and because that was something that other amazing people who were somehow blessed with a supernatural ability to run did. I now know that I too can run 5K, but somehow that similar mental barrier is there for a 10K!

I love the motto, or mantra, “More effort, more reward” and I often repeat it to myself in my training. Those times were I am physically really feeling it, remembering that I am getting one step closer to my goal can be just what gets me through. But the mantra applies to my mental strength as well. If I can practice on building mental stamina during training, as it too requires effort and practice, then hopefully that will also pay off on race day.

And when I think too, that I am running for an even bigger purpose – to raise $700 for World Vision, that helps things to stay in perspective too. That if my time isn’t great, and if 10K is difficult the whole way, than at least some good will come out of it anyway. It’s not just about me this time! And that is a very good thing to remember.


Fitness Friday

This is the first of a hopefully weekly type of post I will write on Fridays, simply for alliterations sake – I know my creativity knows no bounds – about my current fitness happenings.

And so I present to you my most exciting and wonderful news: I have entered into the Run Melbourne 10K race on July 21, 2013!

Well, it’s a little exciting, somewhat wonderful, and considerably scary! But I have paid my dues, signed on the dotted line and officially registered now. There is no going back. Oh dear!

How Will I Do It?

I have never actually run 10K before. I know to some people 10K is not particularly far, but when you haven’t done it before, it seems quite a big deal. And I am really hoping to be able to run it in 60 minutes or less, which, considering I haven’t ever run 5K in 30 minutes, may be quite a task. But I am going to do my best to train hard. When I run, actually mostly when I do intervals, my motto is “More effort, more reward”. I tend to repeat it over and over again under my breath when I want to quit or give up. And so I think I might stick to that motto.

I am planning to use this running program: RM2011_10kBeginnerv2-1. It looks good to me for these reasons:

1. Only 3 days a week of required running. With 2 little girls it is hard for me to get enough time to run, and so if I can do more, I will, but most of the times 3 runs a week is a stretch. So this suits me well.

2. It tells me the time needed (usually) for each run. This is helpful when I need to say to Paul, “I will be back in X minutes”.

3. This program is free! 🙂

I think the biggest challenge for me won’t be actually going to distance, but will be improving my time and running it in under 60 minutes. I seriously suck at running fast. So this is the challenge for me. It is not going to be easy! Apparently the only way to get faster is to simply run faster. I need to practice running faster! So that’s going to be fun and easy…

And heading into winter is also not a particularly fun time to be gearing up for running outdoors, but that’s life I guess!

Why Do It?

1. There are a group of people from my church who are going to run the Half Marathon, and I was asked to join them. I would love to do that one day, but right now I just can’t manage the time required to train for longer runs, so decided to instead aim for a shorter distance but a quicker time. A doable challenge – I hope!

2. It’s a good way for me to be motivated to exercise. I sometimes find it quite hard to get out of the door, and because I have only a few opportunities where I can get out (like many people), if I don’t seize the moment than often it passes me right by. And let’s fact it, I am still hoping to get back into pre-baby shape, and exercise helps that!

3. Most importantly though, I am trying to raise $700 for World Vision. World Vision do some amazing work amongst needy and vulnerable communities and people groups. We have a lot more to give than we realise I think, and I hope that I can encourage others to dig deep, give a little, and learn that it really is more blessed to give than receive.

What Can You Do?

1. I am so thankful for the many varied readers of my blog. I have been encouraged of late by some dear friends saying, “I love reading your blog” etc. It warms my heart to think that you can be blessed/encouraged or even just have a laugh or enjoy some cute stories of the girls (Hi Emily A!). But in this case I am also very hopeful that you might consider joining me in supporting World Vision by making a donation, however large or small. You can click on the link here on the blog if you are able. Thank you!

2. Join me! I think it would be great to encourage some others to run the 10K with me. If we all try together we can get fit, raise more money for good causes, and have fun together too!

3. Encouragement is huge. Don’t just encourage me either, although that’s nice – encourage others you know who are working towards goals, be it fitness or otherwise. An enthusiastic word of encouragement can make anything seem possible sometimes. It also helps to keep me accountable. I don’t want you to kindly ask how it is all going and to have to confess that I just haven’t been bothered…that’s not a great feeling.

And So…

I’m looking forward to writing an update each Friday about how the training is going, both physically and mentally, and checking in on the number of runs I have done, how they have gone and what has been difficult. I think I will have a lot to say about what has been difficult!

Are there any topics related to fitness you would like to hear more about? If you are keen to start running for the first time you can take a look at this honest and helpful blog, written by Jean who has gone through the Couch-to-5K program herself. Or maybe a gentle walk tomorrow in our lovely unpredictable Melbourne weather could do you some good? Either way, let’s get out there and get moving!

5.1K at Hanging Rock


I began running about 3 months after Heidi was born, so lets say that was about May/June 2011. I decided that I wanted to run a 5K. I had always wanted to run a 5K, but thought that I couldn’t. So I decided to try. Paul was very supportive and each afternoon when our dream baby Heidi had her very predictable nap, I went out for a run. I started with a beginners program, and first reached my goal of running for 20 minutes, and then eventually could run 5K. I still remember those first few months of just simply being able to run a couple of minutes at a time, walking for a while, and then running for another minute or so. The first time I ran for 20 minutes without stopping was such an exciting moment!! I entered into the Melbourne Marathon Festival 5K event. After a bit of a drop in training I still came away with a time of 32:42 for my first ever 5K! At the time I wasn’t actually so happy with my time. I had gone along with a couple of friends, not to run together, but just to be a part of it together. Those friends just happened to be super fit friends, who despite not really training, really had great times and made me feel a little slow and unimpressive. It wasn’t until later that I realised how happy I should have been with that time!

After that run I was somewhat sporadic in my training, mostly due to being pregnant again. From about February 2012 I was sick with morning sickness and stopped running. By the time I had recovered a few months later, my fitness levels were low, as was my motivation. So I didn’t really run again throughout my pregnancy with Pippa. So last year, when Pippa was about 2 months old I decided to start running again. I set myself two goals. The first was to run a 5K by the time of Heidi’s birthday (25th March). I did that, with a time of 35:03. I knew I wasn’t going to run an amazing time, as I had been unwell for a couple of months, despite a fairly good training period before that. I was happy to do 35 minutes off the back of some fairly average training.

My sister was eager to do another run together, so despite not feeling like I had enough time to train properly, I suggested the ‘Run the Rock’ event at Hanging Rock on 27th April (today)! Lucy was keen, and so after checking with Paul, I registered and began to look forward to it. We had visited Hanging Rock a few times on day trips and loved the beautiful picnic areas, so decided to plan a trip together as a family. One of the main reasons I chose this run was the timing. Because I am still breastfeeding Pippa, a 5K at 10:15am on a Saturday was perfect. It meant I could breastfeed Pippa at about 7 when she woke, we could all get ready to go, drive, run, recover and then feed her again. And unlike the majority of runs, being on a Saturday meant we wouldn’t have to miss Church on the Sunday. It was looking perfect!

I only had about 3 weeks of training, and about 3 runs a week. So not too much really, but it was what I could do. And then in the last few days, Heidi started to get really sick. The poor little thing has had a high temperature, and has just been miserable. So at the last minute I had to re-think plans for the run. I really really wanted to go together as a family. Paul’s support and encouragement to me means a lot and is very motivating. But deep down, while in the midst of searching for ways to make it happen all together, I knew that he would have to stay home with Heidi. And thankfully I had a friend (thanks Subashini!) who was very happy to come along with Pippa and I for the morning, so I was able to go ahead with the run.

So this morning, just after 8, Bash, Pippa and I headed up to Hanging Rock. It was exciting to arrive and see lots of cars and people, long lines at the toilets, to hear the energetic and loud music pumping everyone up, and to enjoy a warm-ish Autumn day in a beautiful part of the world. I started to get quite nervous! I hadn’t really felt like that before the other two runs that I had been in, but I was quite conscious of really wanting to run better than the previous 35 minutes. My goal is still to run a sub-30 5K, but I knew that wouldn’t happen without more serious training. I joined in with the pre-race aerobics to warm up a little, and was glad I did, as I worked out a little twinge in my knee before the run, rather than during the first kilometre of the actual run. Warming up is a good idea!

I set out a little to enthusiastically. I didn’t run with a watch, headphones, GPS, phone etc so I didn’t really know how my pace was going. But last time I had started out too slowly in a bid to do negative splits, and this time I over-compensated. I guess this might be something that becomes easier with experience. And there were a few hills, and quite a lot of blustery wind. I struggled between thinking that I really wanted to do a better time, and then reminding myself to have fun and just be happy to be out there. The last kilometre was hard, and I kept saying to myself over and over, under my breath, “Come on Mel, come on!” At one point I said, “I don’t know where the finishing line is!” and someone kindly pointed it out to me in the distance. I needed to see where I was going!

As I neared the finishing line I could see that my time was indeed better than 35 minutes! I sped up towards the end, and hoped that I had run it in about 32 minutes. A few steps after the finish line I dry retched a little, and that was a first for me. That was a bit gross. But I quickly recovered, and headed off to find Bash, with Pippa cosily snuggled up with her in my favourite baby carrier, the Ergo. She had slept the whole time and been a little angel for Bash. Go Pippa! Anyway, I digress… I was so pleased to have improved my time, and when I later found out that I had in fact done a 5.1K in 31:47 I was so pleased! I know it’s not a record breaking time, but for me, that’s not bad. And on the day that Pippa turned 6 months old.

Running has made me realise in a very tangible way that if you work hard for something, you can reach the goals that you set out to achieve. It reminds me of the blessing that a healthy body is, and of the importance of getting outdoors for your mental health. It teaches me lessons in perseverance and mental determination. And I haven’t even done many long runs yet! Our bodies are amazing, and it is exciting to see what they are capable of when we work hard.

I am now looking forward to running my first 10K at The Age Run Melbourne festival at the end of July. I am thinking of joining the World Vision team, so if you are interested in partnering with me in that, please let me know. Alternatively, if you would like to join me and do a 10K, let me know that too! More on that to come though…Stay tuned for updates!

Running Doesn’t Always Go According To Plan

Health and fitness are important to me. I want to do what I can to prevent bigger health issues in the future (and now too I guess) and live life to the fullest. I know that I cannot control my health, nor do I want to worship health, but living a healthy and balanced lifestyle is a good thing to strive for. I struggle with eating well and curbing my sweet tooth (teeth!), and exercising when I don’t feel like it, and am by no means perfect. But I work on it. Paul and I work on it together, talking about how we can eat well and exercise. I really want to be an example to my girls. I want them to grow up seeing their parents value exercise and eating well, for health. It’s not about weight, appearance or fitting in. I want to help my girls grow up with a good view of themselves, and even perhaps an enjoyment of fitness and healthy living.

A couple of months after Heidi was born in March, 2011, I decided I wanted to run 5 kilometres. I had never done anything like that before. I thought I wouldn’t be able to. But with the support of Paul, I set out with a very beginners training program and in October that year I ran in the Run Melbourne Festival and ran my first 5K in 32:42. It was such an achievement! I enjoyed running and reaching my goal. When I was pregnant with Pippa I didn’t run at all though. I had terrible morning sickness for about the first 4 months, and then found it too hard to get into again while being pregnant. Well done to any ladies out there who manage to run through pregnancy – perhaps something I can consider in the future? So after Pippa was born I wanted to start running again. I set myself 2 goals for the year in regards to running: To run a 5K by Heidi’s 2nd birthday (25th March) and to run a 10K by Pippa’s 1st birthday (27th October). And so, with Heidi’s birthday on the not-so-distant horizon, I am entered into a 5K this Sunday.

I began training at the end of December, having given my body about 2 months of recovery time after giving birth to Pippa. My training was going well. I had been using RunKeeper, an app which can provide training programs and record your times and distances as you run. I was actually managing to get out about every second day. I was really training with the hope of being able to run a sub-30 5K. For those of you not up with running lingo, all that means is I wanted to run 5 kilometres in under 30 minutes. But sadly, it’s not going to happen this weekend.

For the last month I have had 3 lots of antibiotics for the same severe UTI. It was very nearly a kidney infection. And I am also recovering from a cold. And the girls have been incredibly unsettled in the heat wave that Melbourne has finally seen the back of. And so my training hasn’t happened. I have either not been well myself, or unable to get out of the house because of the girls. My training has been de-railed. I haven’t run in about 3 weeks. I don’t know if my body is recovered enough from the sickness that has doggedly plagued me this past month. I don’t know if I can even walk 5K at the moment. And yet, I will ‘run’ this weekend. I am not going to run with a time in mind.

I will run so I can learn what it feels like to run when my training hasn’t gone well.

I will run slowly so that I don’t injure myself and make things even harder to get out and run.

I will run because my husband supports me and encourages me to do it.

I will run because I have resolved to.

I will run because I can.