Tag Archives: Rest

Rest day ramblings: On goals and races

I need goals to keep me motivated. It’s part of what my sister calls, my attention deficit disorder. Now, I’ve never been tested for or diagnosed with ADD and nor do I believe it’s actually a ‘disorder’. But my sister has been to some classes about ADD and dyslexia because she has a step-son and son who both have dyslexia. And she told me that she had a total light bulb moment during those classes: ‘My brother Andrew is so dyslexic and ADD’. She even tests me sometimes and I always pass the test with flying colours (even though I don’t ever know I’m doing a test). And by pass, I mean that I always do what people with dyslexia or ADD are meant to do. And I’m proud of it because I know that’s the part of my personality that leads me off on adventures.

So, back to needing goals. If I don’t have goals, I get distracted. New shiny things catch my eye and I’m off on a tangent again. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the adventures that going off on tangents bring. But in the past it has led to me living a chaotic and unfocused life. And when things are chaotic and unfocused, I tend to get depressed. This is because I have a strong clash between my lack of focus and my goal-oriented nature. If I don’t ‘achieve’ something then I feel slack. I have tried changing the goal oriented part of myself for over a decade but have to do what the taoists do: go with what’s natural.

It’s still early in my first trail running season but already I’ve pretty much entered a 50km run every month until March. I had a clear goal: to run the North Face 100 at the Blue Mountains outside Sydney in May. But there’s a problem. Well, not a problem in itself but a clash of dates. See, I am going to a work conference in Houston, Texas in May. See how it’s not really a problem – I get to go to the US.

When I realised this, I changed my goal and thought I might try the Alpine Challenge in the Victorian Alps. It’s a 100km trail run that is largely held above the tree line. They usually get sub-zero temperatures at night and the trail isn’t actually marked – you need to be able to read a map. While this event excites me, I know that I won’t be ready by March. The furthest I’ll have raced will be 50km and I don’t think it’s sensible to combine my first 100km race with my first alpine experience. Sure, I’ve done some alpine walking but only 10-20km day walks.

So I went looking for running adventures in America. And then I found it! The perfect end of season goal. The North Face Bear Mountain 50 mile Trail Run in New York State. Not only does the course look stunning but the entry fees are cheap by Australian standards. For $US90 you get a 50 mile race with fully stocked aid stations, a North Face technical t-shirt, North Face arm warmers, a North Face drink bottle and a finisher’s medal. Just the t-shirt and arm warmers alone would probably set me back about $90 in Australia and commercial (i.e. sponsored by the major brands) 100km events in Australia usually cost $200+.

And  50 miles is probably a better end of season target too. After all the 50km events I’ll have run over the season, stepping up to 50 miles will be achievable. The 14 hour cut-off will provide me with a good solid challenge but one I know I can achieve. Fifty miles is also a good distance to use as a base for next season when I might be able to target some of the 100km events, including the Alpine Challenge in March 2014.

More inspiration from my cough-cold riddled self

I don’t usually like to share a lot of YouTube clips but at the moment I am still unwell (though I am winning the battle). My night-time cough-cold fevers are starting to reach the breaking point and during the day I feel well and clear-headed at work so I am confident I’ll be out running and riding again next week.

In the meantime, I am doing my best to exercise self-control by not giving in to the temptation to run or ride on the cold rainy mornings we’ve been having because I know that will only set me back another bought of the cough-cold (if I’m honest, I wasn’t fully over my last bout when I started training again and I think that’s why it’s come back).

Also, I need to be fully fit this weekend because I’m support crew for a friend’s team who are walking the Kokoda Challenge at the Gold Coast. They will be walking 96km and aim to complete the walk in 36-38 hours. My job is to meet them at the major checkpoints to provide them with food, drinks, encouragement and anything else they might ask for. Given that they expect to be at the major checkpoints at 4pm (for an hour), 10pm (for 3 hours), 6am (for an hour), 3pm (for an hour) and to finish around 9pm it’s going to be critical for me to rest so that I can function in the cold, dark and wet conditions that I’m expecting.

So, today I’ve enjoyed watching this fantastic footage of Kilian running. It’s a fantastic reminder that trail running is all about being natural, free and playful. Sure, very few of us will ever be as good as Kilian but for me it’s those principles that I take away from watching this clip.

Getting inspiration while I’m off sick

It’s a cold rainy winter’s day in Brisbane today and I still have that cold.

I’ve spent my nights coughing a lot and sweating so much that I’ve had to wake up a few times to change my t-shirt after being cold from the sweat. That’s a good thing though because it means my body is doing what it needs to do to get well again so that I can get back out running and cycling.

Thank you to Brian Beatty who shared this awesome link with me. It’s definitely one that motivates me to look after myself so that I can hit the trail running season in full health. It’s now just over 1 month until my first race (the 22km Lake Manchester Trail Run) and I am so excited that I keep visualising myself cruising along the trial around the lake.

Twelve months ago, I was barely running 500m at a time. On 15 September, just over two months away, I will be lining up at the start of my first 50km ultra. It fills me with such emotion when I think about how just a year ago I wasn’t fit enough (either physically or emotionally) to run 1% of that distance. Just toeing that start line will be such an achievement. I can already see myself finishing the event all puffed out after doing my run-a-bit, walk-a-bit routine with a huge smile on my face.

And it’s video clips like this one that help me remain focused on my goals during the frustration of forced rest days like today:

An awesome motivational ultra running film

Argh! I’ve got another cold. It’s not in my head this time but is sniffles and coughing. I don’t feel too bad (unlike a week or two ago when I felt really horrible). But I do have to take it easy so that I don’t get more sick or carry sickness with me all winter. Colds are doing the rounds in my family, workplace and running club; so it’s no surprise I’ve caught it again.

This morning I slept in instead of doing Tough Mudder training. The Tough Mudder sessions are the ones that mess me around the most when it comes to training. By comparison, the easy trail run yesterday was relatively comfortable and didn’t leave me feeling as rough as a strength session would have. So tomorrow morning I might make time for a short slow trail run just to get some movement going.

This morning, instead of heading out training, I watched a fantastic two-part film about a middle-of-the-pack ultra runner who ran a 100 mile event. I found it so inspirational that I’m sharing it here.

I love watching films about people who, like me, are middle- and back-of-the-pack runners. I can relate to these films and they show me I too can achieve anything I set out to achieve. The film makes me feel excited about my first 50km trail run in August.

Making a commitment to ultra running

It’s now day 3 of my sickness-enforced rest. I am starting to feel much better and will probably head out tomorrow morning for a light jog to get my body moving again before the Tre-X off-road duathlon on Sunday.

Today I have used my rest day to evaluate my 2012-13 season goals. Over the past few weeks since the Oxfam Trailwalker Brisbane I have been thinking about how much I would like to complete a 100km trail run and work up to a 100 miler. My 100km bicycle ride on Saturday and meeting with the team I am support crewing for at the Kokoda Challenge 96km walk only increased my thirst for endurance events.

I started searching the internet to find trail runs in Australia and found there are a huge selection of exciting events to chose from. We have everything from the 3 Marathons in 3 Days event in tropical Cairns to a wide selection of alpine and beach ultras, including the famous 6 Foot Track and North Face 100. I felt rather like a kid in a candy store as I trawled through pages and pages of trail running options, most of which were ultras.

I subscribe to the online Trail Runner Magazine and every time I get a new issue I start to long for the trail. I am drawn by the freedom of single track mountain trails and long miles of beach stretching out in front of me.

I am not a fast runner. In fact, I am not even passionate about the act of running. I have not run a road marathon and the thought of doing so doesn’t entice me. But I like to explore. I like the simplicity of exploring on foot. I like the friendly social atmosphere of trail running. And I love how it feels when I find my running zone. My favourite thing about trail running ultras is that the sport is still young enough in Australia that it’s acceptable to ‘run-a-bit, walk-a-bit’ in many of the more low key events.

So today I made a commitment. I am going to work towards my 100km and 100 mile goals. And I am not going to wait until next season. Today I paid and entered the following events and set the following flexible goals:

  1. 12 August 2012 – Lake Manchester Trail Run (22km) – goal time < 2:45
  2. 14 October 2012 – Washpool World Heritage Trail Run (50km) – goal time < 8:00 – entered
  3. 9 December 2012 – Kurrawah to Duranbah Road Run (50km) – goal time < 6:00  – entered
  4. 21 April 2013 – Water World Red Rocks to Coffs (45km trail run) – goal time < 7:00  – entered

I based my goals on my results in the two half road half marathons (2:10 barefoot & 1:46 shod) I completed in January and March 2012, and my 7:32 for the 45km Rainbow Beach Trail Run in November 2011.

I have also scheduled other races for the coming season for which entries have not yet opened. I think the goals are realistic without forcing me to start training ridiculously hard. It just means that my weekend sessions will be more focused on endurance, whether running or cycling.

Here’s to backing myself. The 2012-13 season is going to be the year I become an ultra runner. And the year I qualify to enter a 100km event next year (most 100km events require entrants to have completed at least one 50km event in the previous 12 months but often don’t have time limits for those events).

Man Flu

Oh no! I have Man Flu 😦 I was feeling tired and had a headache all day yesterday but put it down to poor nutrition on my 100km bike ride the day before. But this morning I’ve woken up with a sore throat and foggy head. At this time of year (Winter), it can only be one thing: Man Flu.

It’s only 6 days until my first race for the 2012/13 season so I’m keen to do whatever I need to get rid of this sickness to be healthy for that event. So my partner is getting me some day-night medicine. I’ll get myself some fruit today and drink lots of water. But first I’m going to hit the thyme and marjoram tea with honey to try to soothe my poor throat and loosen the mucus from my chest.

I am excited about the Tre-X Duathlon on Sunday so don’t want to miss out.

A cold wet weekend: Perfect for gardening


A little joy on a cold rainy day

I had been looking forward to the long weekend all day Friday and had been planning my attack on the great outdoors. However, Mother Nature had other ideas; she turned Sunday and Monday into a wet, cold and windy mess. Weather that made my first and second choice of outdoor activity off-limits.

My first choice was to take a two-day hike of the Conondale Range Great Walk. But I decided that it was silly to tackle the walk if I wasn’t going to be able to enjoy the views or experience when there will be perfect winter’s days ahead.

My second choice was kayaking from Coochiemudlo Island. I was going to hire a boat for a few hours and paddle around the island. However, driving rain and winds gusting at 25 knots put paid to that. So that put me at a loose end.



The first of two cubic metres of mulch

At first I got frustrated about the weather’s affecting my weekend. I got cranky and sullen because my plans had been destroyed. I sulked alone at home for an hour before I realised that the only person suffering was me. While I might not have wanted to get out and ‘do’ anything anymore, I could still get outside and enjoy the rain. I raised our orchard a few months ago, had some extra cash in my wallet and could borrow Mum’s ute so I decided to head out into the garden to finally mulch the orchard to properly finish it. Besides, shifting two cubic metres of mulch in a wheel barrow is still exercise.


Our orchard, looking from the top of the block

And so it was that I spent a few hours each on Sunday and Monday shifting two cubic metres of mulch onto the orchard. It doesn’t look like much right now but there are 14 fruit trees, two passionfruit vines, and lots of herbs and flowers in our orchard. The trees vary in age from 3 months to 3 years so they are at various stages of fruit-bearing capability. Winter was a good time to do the mulching because the stone fruit and pear trees are deciduous, making it easier to move around the garden.


Another view of the orchard

It was fantastic to get out in my garden. My garden always reminds me of the need to work with the weather and seasons, rather than fighting them. It’s also a reminder of the need to accept the good that each weather pattern brings. Rain is great for the garden because everything grows. Heavy rain is a great excuse to take it easy for a few days and recharge the batteries.

It’s a good time to think about the adventures ahead and how to achieve them.On that note, the wet weather gave me time to surf the internet to research inflatable kayaks. I will have paid my university fee loans (HECS / Fee-HELP for Australians) off at the end of this financial year. At 32 years old, July will represent my first ever pay cheque that will not include a mandatory HECS repayment. I spent over 13 years at university from age 17 to 31 and racked up a massive debt. Out system here in Australia allows us to borrow money from the government to pay for university. The loan is indexed annually based on CPI, so it’s a cheap debt. We have to make compulsory repayments through our taxation every year when we reach the income threshold.

I have been working full-time since I was 17 years old and have always earned more than the threshold of the day so have always had HECS taken out of my pay. So it’s exciting to be paying the debt off. I’m going to blow the entire amount on a Sevylor Rio inflatable kayak, two- or three-piece kayak paddle and touring PFD. I like the relative simplicity of the Rio and believe it will work well on Moreton Bay and the rivers where I will be doing most of my paddling.

Rest day ramblings

How I felt after an intense week on the road (photo taken on Moreton Island hike Sept 2011)

After an intense week on the road I spent yesterday feeling totally spent and couldn’t even drag myself out of bed this morning. I walked in my front door just after midnight on Wednesday night and couldn’t sleep in Thursday morning due to my having to drop my motorbike off at the mechanic for a service. So it’s no surprise that I was sound asleep by 8:30 last night after struggling to keep my eyes open at work all day.

I thought for sure I’d be right to get up early to join my running friends on their 3hr 10min run at 4:45 this morning after an early night. But when the alarm went off I could barely open my eyes and decided instead to join another group of my running friends on their 6:00am easy road cycle. I even sent an sms to say I was coming. But again I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. So I did a rare thing and slept in. By 6:45am my body was ready to rise from bed to greet the day.

It’s said that rest is an important part of training. Sometimes it’s genuinely difficult to accept the need to rest, particularly when it’s the second day in a row that I feel tired. But I’m glad I rested this morning because I feel fantastic now and am motivated for a big weekend of fun, rather than a weekend in which I am chasing my tail.

Tomorrow I am hoping to join some other running friends on their 3hr 10min training run. Then Sunday and Monday I think I will try to complete the 56km Conondale Range Great Walk in two days. It will be a big task but I think I’m up to it.

Rest day ramblings

It’s a rest day today so I have no training or physical adventures to share. However, I do have another experience to share.

Yesterday I was interviewed by Marie Claire Magazine for an article relating to transgender men and women. The article is being written as a result of the Miss Universe rule changes to allow transgender women to compete.

The interview went well enough; though I was unhappy about the interviewer asking me about my bedroom activities. I thought that was totally inappropriate. She did respect my saying that topic was irrelevant and off limits but it did change the tone of the interview for me. It actually has made me consider withdrawing consent to the article but I know I have to hang in there and just let things take their course.

Why do the interview? Because I believe it is important for transgender men and women who are settled in their lives to be available as role models for other transgender people and their families. I think it’s particularly important to show families and friends that their transgender loved ones can still have a positive, healthy and fulfilled life; that being transgender doesn’t relegate us to second-class citizen status or to a life of unhappiness.

I have no idea how the article is going to turn out. I keep playing the interview over in my mind. Having studied journalism in my past I know that journalists and editors often try to find the sensational in stories. Hopefully the journalist doesn’t latch onto the few negative experiences I have had but focuses on the many positive and real experiences we discussed.

My name and photo will be in the article, which is a bit scary because magazines like Marie Claire often spend years (or decades) lying around doctors’ surgery and dentists’ waiting rooms. I’ve been in the media before: a newspaper and two separate radio programs. And I’m openly transgender here in my blog. But a magazine is very different. Written press is also more risky than audio. In my last radio interview with ABC Local Radio the journalist tried to sensationalise my story but I was able to hold my ground because the interview was live. But in this interview the journalise can go away, write her story and then the editor will start doing their work on it. That’s quite scary.

I don’t know when the article will come out but hopefully it will be positive. I’m going to try not to think about it while I wait.

In some ways this is still an adventure … not a physical one but a mental and emotional one.

A few rest days

I’ve decided to take three rest days this week. I am currently covered in itchy lumps and am not sure whether they are the result of insect bites, allergic reaction to some sort of plant or a virus such as chicken pox. I don’t feel sick, though I did have a temperature most of last week that I put down to the effects of heat exposure the previous weekend in the Pilbara, and I have had a runny nose and watery eyes this week. I am seeing my doctor after work tomorrow because it didn’t seem urgent enough to see someone sooner. Hopefully it’s just an allergic reaction; though some of the itchy lumps are in locations that certainly didn’t see the light of day while I was recently outdoors.

My left foot has still been giving me trouble too so a few days off it will probably help prepare for the rigors of riding my motorbike for 2 weeks. Motorcycling seems to put pressure on whatever the injury is. I will see a podiatrist when I return from my Julia Creek trip to see whether they can diagnose anything. My only concern is the high cost of medical exploration such as CT scans and MRIs. I’m sure my insurance will still leave me a gap and I would rather spend my money on travel than on tests that are inconclusive. My partner has similar foot pains and the podiatrist told her that he couldn’t work out what the cause was; needless to say, I won’t be going to the same podiatrist.  I am sure a few days rest will work wonders anyway.

I think listening to my body is important. And I know that every time the seasons change my body reacts to it. It’s cooling down in Brisbane; the days are still gloriously warm but the mornings and evenings are now cool enough for me to wear my winter motorbike jacket instead of the lightweight summer one. I can smell fresh new scents in the air as the air changes from hot and humid to cool and dry. It will still be another month before the winter weather really kicks in so we’re still likely to have some late-season heat but the cold has definitely started to set in.

Winter is a time of activity for me. It’s a time to explore the bush and enjoy the blue skies. It’s time to experience camp fires and waking up shivering in my tent. I have a new training focus and look forward to the long slow miles walking with a pack and sessions in the gym to strengthen the muscles I need to make carrying both my mother and my camping equipment on long hikes more comfortable. Yes, I have promised to carry my mother’s gear for her if she joins me on some through-walks. She likes to walk but not to carry a loaded pack so it seems a fitting compromise for having her company.

So I am resting yesterday, today and tomorrow. It’s lovely to stay curled up in bed until 5:30am and to spend some time in my garden before work. Saturday I hope to go hiking again. I’m not yet sure where but am certain it will be a grand day out.