Tag Archives: healthy-living

Back into the running

It’s been a while since I did much running but yesterday I made the bold move of entering the Brisbane Marathon on 4 August. There’s nothing like a crazy goal to kick me into gear.

I have been wanting to get back into running for some time now but wanted to give myself time to rebuild my fitness and endurance after last year’s forced break. I always knew that, when the time was right, I would re-enter the running arena. Suddenly, the time feels right. Sure, I could have done the sensible thing and taken a staged approach of entering a 10km, half marathon (or two) and then a marathon. But regular readers of my blog will have worked out that the sensible thing isn’t something I do.

The City to Surf Marathon in Perth last August was my first marathon. I ran it in 4:17 but didn’t prepare properly so paid a heft price. For the Brisbane Marathon, I’m taking a different approach. I have a training program that only requires me to run three days a week, which is about the most I am willing to run because I need to leave space in my life for the various forms of cycling that I love. Especially now that I’ve scored a steel frame and forks, and a few other bits and pieces with which to build a single speed road racer.

But back to the running. My goal for the Brisbane Marathon is to run a 5:00 – 5:30 time. That’s right. I don’t want to run fast. My goal for the marathon is to soak up the experience of running in a massive crowd of runners in my home city. I want to come home with loads of photos. And, most of all, I want to remain injury free both pre- and post-race.

So today, I kicked off my return to running with an easy 5km trot through my neighbourhood. I didn’t wear a watch or carry a GPS device with me. I just went for a nice easy relaxing run. And that’s how I hope to continue my marathon training. I know I have the base fitness to keep moving for 42.2km so now I just have to build the confidence that I can run most of the distance comfortably enough to make the most of the day. My training won’t be about building speed or running hills. I gave that type of training up when I quit triathlon. Nope, I hope my running training will be an extension of the pleasure I am getting from my other “training”.

Total: 5km run

Feeling smooth on the trails

Whoops Witch Way went out trail running tonight with our third team member, M. We had a fantastic smooth run along some beautiful flowing single track and across some shallow creeks. The 7.05km flew by so quickly and easily that I’m wondering whether the trick to my running is to do it infrequently and well. Because every time I try to run more than once or twice a week I start to feel the old injuries flare up. But when I run once or twice a week, those one or two sessions always feel so good; like I could run all day or night.

I probably won’t blog again until sometime Sunday because I’m going on a two-day kayak camping trip out on Moreton Bay with my son. He and I haven’t been camping together since September 2011 so we’re well overdue for a father-son weekend away.

Total: 7.05km night trail run

Pool pony races

Pool Pony Racer by Andrew Gills
Pool Pony Racer, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

My sister and I had scheduled our regular weekly trail running session last night. But she sent me a message during the day to tell me she had bought pool ponies. For those unfamiliar with pool ponies, these are blow-up rubber horses that you ride in the swimming pool.

As soon as she told me about the pool ponies, I suggested a change to our training regime: pool pony races. It proved to be a fun full body workout.

We raced up and down a 25m pool on the pool ponies, which worked out our legs, arms and core. It takes a lot of balance to stay on a pool pony when the person you are racing tries to pull you off. And I’m sure laughing while exercising is tough on your abs too.

We also did a few laps kicking on kick boards and a few laps riding on the pool noodles. It was one a fantastic and fun session.

I’ll be resting for the next two days to prepare for Saturday’s 200km road cycle. It’s expected to be 32’C (89.6’F) so I will need to be well rested and hydrated for it. Today and tomorrow will be long busy days (tonight I have volunteer commitments after work, then tomorrow I leave home at 3:30am and won’t return until 10pm because I have to travel interstate for work). So when my alarm went off at 4am to go cycling this morning, I turned it off and slept in.

Total: 45 minutes pool pony racing and other pool activities.

Tapering?

So I got up at 3:55am, got on my motorbike at 4:20am, rode 45km (28 miles) to the canoe club, waited from 5:05am-5:45am for the Tuesday morning paddlers to arrive (they were due at 5:15am for a 5:30am start) and then got back on my motorbike to ride all the way home without a paddle. No one showed up. I know I got the day and time right because I double checked. I decided it’s a sign I’m not meant to join the canoe club just yet; I’ll wait until I move closer to the canoe club.

Instead, I had a delightful 4km walk with my partner. I got home from my wasted time just in time to catch her walking out the door. I enjoyed the walk much more than I would have enjoyed the paddle because I had fantastic company 😉 .

I have a 200km Audax Australia ride on Saturday afternoon from 4pm. I will have to climb 2,500m over the course of the ride. I think I will put this morning’s relaxing walk down as tapering for the ride. Haha.

Total: 4km walk

Scary forest at night

Tonight was my sister and my regular trail running session. We intended to run 5km but ended up doing 8.24km. It was heaps of fun despite the heat (it must still have been about 30’C despite the sun having set). We cruised along together at a comfortable 7-8 min/km pace other than the kilometre we walked, which we covered in 9 minutes. We are still walking up the hills in our training sessions because I don’t want to overdo things with my shin splints and SIJ (which flared up a bit today but is still manageable).

We ran some fire trails and then set off down the You’re Kidding single track. We cruised through the pretty grass tree forest, where our lights shone off the grass tree fronds. Then through the scary forest, where the trees seem to be further from the track when on foot compared with on our mountain bikes. We hopped over fallen logs and twisted our way through the corners.

You can see our workout through Endomondo here.

Total: 8.24km night trail run.

2012 in review

What a year! I achieved so much that I thought was impossible on 1 January 2012. Despite the lengthy period of injury frustration, it’s been a good year for me.

January

I started the year by running my first ever half marathon at Convicts and Wenches on Australia Day. It was hot and humid, but I managed to complete the course in 2:10.57 despite being barefoot. The achievement took me by surprise because I only decided to enter a day or two before the race.

February

I was still racing triathlon last summer and in February I completed the Kingscliff Olympic Distance Triathlon in 2:25.53. It was my first Olympic Distance Triathlon after returning to training in July 2011 and I was proud of the achievement. My dad and I spent a delightful weekend camping at the beach in Kingscliff, making it an even more special event.

March

I smashed the Twilight Half Marathon in 1:46.33 in March. I ran in shoes and had a negative split. The event was a huge confidence boost for me and I finally realised that I can run. This realisation sparked the adventures I took on the following months.

April

In April, my mum, grandmother and I traveled 2,000km each way to the Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Triathlon. The triathlon was awesome but the trip was even better. I rode my motorbike while Mum and my grandmother drove Mum’s ute. We took tents and camped out in national parks and Outback camping grounds along the way. Then we spent a day sailing and snorkeling at the Whitsundays on the way home. It was magnificent.

May

I fell in love with adventure racing in May. After completing the Byron Bay Olympic Distance Triathlon on the 12th, I also completed the Queensland leg of the Adventure Race Australia with my sister as team Whoops Which Way. After 7:48.33, my sister and I cross the finish line and I declared that adventure racing pooed all over triathlon. I fell in love with adventure racing that day; a love affair that I intend to indulge in 2013.

June

I didn’t race in June. I took the month off after the end of the 2011/12 triathlon season to evaluate my race goals for the second half of the year. I didn’t really see myself as a triathlete anymore and changed the name of my blog from TransTri: Adventures of a Transgender Triathlete to TransVenture: Adventures of a Transgender Outdoor Athlete. It was a statement of intention and represented a huge shift in focus.

July

I returned to racing in July, completing the Tre-X Off-Road Duathlon. The event was fantastic fun, though I was one of the slowest mountain biker on the course. I then followed this up with the Flinders Tour 50km Trail Run, which I completed in 6:48. This was a huge milestone for me because it was my first 50km trail run and I completed it in well under my 8 hour goal time. After this I decided to run 12 marathons or ultra marathons in 12 months. The plan was cut short due to injury in September but the fact that I conjured it up shows just how my self-image had changed: I no longer doubted my abilities.

August

August was a month of triumph and tragedy. I completed the 22km Lake Manchester Trail Run and an orienteering event. But my biggest achievement of the year was my first marathon. I can’t express the sense of achievement and pride I experienced when I crossed the finish line of the City to Surf Marathon, Perth in 4:17. I felt so accomplished and the memory of that experience will live with me for a long time. I have to admit that the marathon is not an event that I would be likely to run again in a hurry but just to enjoy the experience once was amazing.

September

September was the start of a challenging 4 months. I injured my hamstring at the City to Surf Marathon and then my shin splints got so bad I needed to rest. I took 8 weeks off running, which drove me crazy. But for the month of September, I stayed relatively positive and hung in there; focusing on cycling.

October

My final event for the year was the 100km Brisbane to Gold Coast mass participation cycle challenge. It was a fantastic day. Mum and I rode 160km together; the mass ride and then we rode part-way home. It was fantastic.

November

November was the most difficult month of my year. I experienced deep depression and anxiety after my sacroiliac joint went. I couldn’t run or ride. In fact, I pretty much couldn’t do anything. It took a lot to keep going through the depression and everything in my life suffered. But at the same time, I did find space in my life to reconnect with my faith and spirituality. Perhaps this is part of why I was injured: to force me to make time in my life for balance and others.

December

This month has seen me recover from both the injuries and emotional health struggles. My sacroiliac joint is settling and I’m getting better at managing the shin splints. I’ve returned to running and cycling. I’ve entered a string of adventure races for 2013. And I’m making positive plans for all aspects of my life.

Summary

2012 was a successful year. Bring on 2013 🙂

Teams ‘We’re Lost’, ‘We Must Be Nuts’ and ‘Whoops Witch Way’ are ready to race

After four months away from racing, I am excited to say that I have just entered a swag of events for the first few months of 2013. Here’s how it’s going to look:

  • 1 January 2013 -I have signed up for the Eleven out of 11 Audax Australia cycle. This 100km cycling event will take me across the eleven bridges that cyclists may use to cross the Brisbane River. It’s a non-competitive event, with the goal being to complete the 100km within the 6:30 allowable time limit. I am looking forward to this event to test out my fitness after a lengthy period off the bike. Given This event sets my intention for the year.
  • 12 January 2013 -I am riding the 200km Moonlight Wander, a night-time Audax Australia cycle. It will be my first overnight cycling event and my first 200km event also. The time limit is 11:30, so I should have no trouble finishing if all goes well.
  • 3 February 2013 – I am riding the 100km Brisk Beaudesert Audax Australia cycle. This scenic course will include some hills. While there are longer options for this ride, I don’t want to overdo things by going too hard too early.
  • 8 February 2013 – My partner and I have formed team We’re Lost to participate in the City Raid night-time urban scavenger hunt. I am thrilled to bits that my partner is joining me on this adventure because it will be her first adventure racing experience. She’s been working hard the past four months to improve her fitness and change her lifestyle from being someone who didn’t do any exercise to someone who walks 4km every day and does weights at the gym 3-4 days a week. I’m so incredibly inspired by her efforts.
  • 16 February 2013 – My sister and I have reformed as adventure racing duo Whoops Witch Way to participate in the Kayak Kapers four hour paddlegaine. We will be hoping to gain bonus points for wearing the optional pirate costumes despite our team mascot actually being a witch (don’t ask because we don’t know the answer to the witch thing either). This will be our first paddlegaine so we are sure there will be plenty of laughter and maybe a little swimming.
  • 24 February 2013 – I will be teaming up with a friend from running as We Must Be Nuts in Race 6 of the Qld Tri Series. I have the easy leg, being the swimmer while my friend tackles the bike and run in her first every triathlon.
  • 9 March 2013 – Whoops Witch Way will be lining up at the Kathmandu Adventure Race where we will be paddling, mountain biking, trekking and navigating our way around a six-hour course. This will be our first adventure race since Adventure Race Australia in May 2012 and what will hopefully be the first of many for the 2013 adventure racing season.
  • 24 March 2013 – Whoops Witch Way don’t bask in our glory. No, we go straight back out there and race. So we’re backing up a few weeks after Kathmandu with the iAdventure Spring Adventure Race. This is another six-hour adventure race format including biking, trekking, kayaking and navigating.

Nope, I don’t do things by halves and yes, I am a bit crazy. But after a year of solo competition  in triathlon and running, and then a four month recovery from injury, I am looking forward to focusing on team and Audax events in 2013. It’s going to add a whole new level of fun.

See my Upcoming Events and Travel page for a full list of the events I currently have planned for 2013.

First session of the new year

Sun salutations

Sun salutations

Today is the first day of my journey to running a 100 miler. At this stage, that’s my ultimate running goal. The distance is calling me the way The Landy is called by Everest. I’ve spent the full southern hemisphere spring in rehabilitation mode but since this morning my physio and I have switched to ‘moving forward’ mode.

I have to give Paul Trevethan at Body Leadership Australia a big shout out because he’s been wonderful. From the moment I walked into his clinic he listened to my needs, fears and frustrations. He’s responded to my text messages asking for help and he’s squeezed me in when I’ve urgently needed his healing hands. He’s never told me I couldn’t do anything but has been honest about the areas of my body I need to look after (and he’s never said “I told you so” when I failed to listen).

Tonight I did my stretching routine for the first time since October. I also did two rounds through the Hatha Yoga Sun Salutations. I only did them gently and tentatively but it’s a start. I start yoga classes on Tuesday 18 December and have already told my instructor about my SIJ so she’s going to help me avoid exercises that might flare it up.

I have also done three sets of five exercises each of my pilates exercises: setting my stomach, clams, knee raises, rocking my knees side-to-side and hip raises. My core strength is terrible. But I am practicing these basic moves until I start pilates classes on Monday 17th December with my physio’s wife (also through Body Leadership Australia). The great thing about taking pilates classes with my physio’s wife is that she will know my limitations and core strength needs.

My physio is looking at ordering me a sacroiliac joint brace and has taped me up in the interim. It’s all systems slowly shifting into “go”. I’m being careful not to overdo it and will continue to be guided by both my body and my physio. But it feels good to be making the first step towards my 100 miler goal. A goal that might take a while to reach but one that promises an interesting journey.

Taking things easy

I’ve not had much to report the past few days because I’m trying to take things easy. I’ve been working from home so that I can stand at my kitchen bench instead of sitting at my desk. This has been relieving some of the pressure from my SIJ. I have also seen a fantastic lady who does Chinese medicine, including cupping, remedial massage and acupuncture. I think that, combined with my ongoing physio treatment, has helped a lot.

I am no longer in continual pain, having now three specific pain points that flare up with specific activities (such as moving from sitting to standing or riding my motorbike). I hope this is a good sign.

I think my excessive walking the past few weeks is partly to blame for my back not healing as quickly as I would like so I have just been doing a daily 3.5km walk with my partner on flat ground (I am on strict instructions not to walk hills). I have also done a bit of geocaching on my motorbike with short 500m – 1km walks to find caches.

I am hoping to stick with this plan for the next week or two in the hope my SIJ finally settles down. I will have to actually go to the office tomorrow and a few days next week. But I am going to balance this with some work from home time. I am also going to buy myself a fit ball in the hope this encourages me to improve my posture and take walking breaks away from my desk.

All-in-all the current easing status of my back pain has helped to stop the black dog from dragging me away. I am starting to get back in control of my emotions and feel positive again. The decision to focus on adventure racing next year is a good one for me: I love racing and it gives me something healthy to focus on. The thing I have missed the most since my last race on 26 August is the feeling of being a race participant. And I just can’t wait to get that buzz again. Even if it will end up costing me many dollars to enter all those races. It’s still cheaper and more fun than psychotherapy 😉

I hope to have something interesting for you in the coming weeks. My physio is quite keen to get me back out on my bicycle or doing some light running as soon as possible. He’s going to help me work on an improved running technique too, which is super exciting.

 

Walking the trails with Mum

You're Kidding, Bayview Conservation Park

You’re Kidding, Bayview Conservation Park

Mum and I went walking this morning. It was fantastic. I introduced her to some new trails, including You’re Kidding. We covered 7.6km in the warm summer sunshine.

My SIJ injury is still giving me trouble. It’s been a month today and I’m still having some bad days. I’m going to see Mum’s friend tomorrow who is a Chinese medicine practitioner and then the physio on Thursday. If it’s not settling by Thursday I’m going to let the physio send me to a sports physician for scans and a cortozone injection. While I am loath to get an injection, I am starting to think the physio might be right that I need to do something to break the cycle of inflammation that seems to have set in. While SIJ injuries are slow, I’ve read that five weeks is a long time, especially when I’m seeing the physio every week and am actively doing my ‘homework’.

Total: 7.6km walk