Monday, August 31, 2009

Training Schedule

Monday 31 August - 5 miles

Tuesday 01 September - 4 miles

Wednesday 02 September - 5 miles

Thursday 03 September - Rest

Friday 04 September - 2 miles

Saturday 05 September - 7 miles

Sunday 06 September - Rest

Week total - 23 miles

Saturday, August 29, 2009

GU (featuring the Cat in the Hat)

Hello Cat!

Hello Kirst!

Are you running this race? Can you run at a fast pace?

Yes I am running this race. But, no I cannot run at a fast pace. I burn out and feel the worst.

That is no good Kirst. Do you GU?

GU? Ewww. It looks and smells like glue. GU?

GU makes you fast. With GU you don't come last.

So GU?

Yes GU!

I don't mind if I do. WOW! Who knew that GU was what you were meant to do? GU! GU! I like this GU! Expresso GU makes you fast! Expresso GU stops you from coming last!

Holy Crap!! Oh… Cat?

Yes Kirst?

Cat, what was that? This GU gives me a stomach ache. Oh Cat, why did you make me take? This GU makes me need a loo. Golly gosh what to do? With GU I cannot run fast. With this GU I'm sure I will come last. Who knew that Expresso GU would give you the urge to poo? Make you want to find the loo? Oh Cat, I don't like that! Oh, crap!

Well Kirst, now you feel the worst! Maybe Vanilla GU is right for you. Vanilla GU will make you fast. Vanilla GU makes you run a fast pace. It will help you finish the race. In future Kirst, when you GU, you will know what to do. To stop needing the loo and to stop the urge to poo, when you GU – Vanilla GU is for you!

Thank you Cat.

Thank you Kirst.

Thank you Cat…. for that…

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New routes

I have marked out some new routes as I think I was getting too comfortable with the 4 mile route I have been running. Also as I increase the mileage for the Saturday run I also need to increase some of the weekly ones. It is only 6 weeks until my first race. Although it is only 10 miles I want to be prepared and comfortable with the distance.

The kids have returned to school and this means tighter timings. I suppose I was rather spoilt over summer with the extended time the kids spent in their various camps. There was no rushing to meet any timings for either the drop offs or the pickups. The nursery times for Mstr 2 are pretty unbelievable and I am questioning whether putting him in five days a week was really a good idea. I drop him off at 0815hrs and need to pick him up no later than 1145hrs. The timings and the distance I need to drive to and from the nursery means that I have a few hours to get everything that I need to do done. It also is not a good fit with the post-summer gym schedule. I am hoping that it will only take a short while to get used to.

I am certain that it will all work out. I am excited about the new routes – they are relatively flat so there is potential to maintain a good constant pace.

Training Schedule

First week back to school for the kids, will be a challenging week to fit all of this in!!

Monday 24 August - Rest

Tuesday 25 August - 4 miles

Wednesday 26 August - 5 miles

Thursday 27 August - 5 miles and Body Pump

Friday - 28 August - Rest

Saturday 29 August - 8 miles

Sunday 30 August - Rest

Week total - 22 miles

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Running on the treadmill

Today was the first time I have run on a treadmill. I have used them in the past for warm ups, but mainly walked as I couldn't keep steady enough to run any distance on them. But, with two kids still out of school and no husband around to mind them of an evening I had to bite the bullet and just do it.

One of the benefits of running on a treadmill is that you can complete your workout in air-conditioned comfort. Over summer I have been running in 85F plus heat. It hasn't been fun nor has it been easy. With the treadmill though, I was not only running in air-conditioning but I was positioned under a fan! A down side is that it is rather boring as the view remains the same. For me today it was three people running on a treadmill facing me, three televisions on various channels and a fire extinguisher.

The goal was to run 4 miles. The first 30 minutes flew by as I watched all the flashing lights on the machine telling me how many calories I was burning, how fast I was running and how far I had run. I was impressed at how I could maintain the speed, and therefore my pace per minute. Normally when I run I know I run fast, then slow, then a little in between and so on. Also crossing roads, giving way to traffic and hills add to variance in speed. So running at 6.1 miles per minute – a 09.50 min mile pace – was pretty cool!!

At 3.1 miles I started to struggle a bit – not from the running, but from boredom. I really couldn't keep the motivation up to stay on the treadmill. I kept trying not to look at the mileage and tried to concentrate on the fire extinguisher and the televisions. It was hard, which is probably why I hit the red stop button at 3.92 miles. I think tomorrow when I head to the gym to attempt 5 miles on the treadmill I will need to take my IPod – which will be another first!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Training Schedule

This week will be a hard week to fit training in as my husband is away all week. Some of the runs will be attempted at the gym.... we will see how we go!

Monday 17 August - Rest

Tuesday 18 August - 4 miles

Wednesday 19 August - Cross Training 60-90 mins and 4 miles

Thursday 20 August - 5 miles and Yoga

Friday - 21 August - Rest

Saturday 22 August - 7 miles

Sunday 23 August - Rest

Week total - 20 miles

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I have found that I prefer to run on the road when I feel strong, motivated and able. I run on the paths when I want to hide away and not be seen. When I hide I am more prone to negative thoughts and walking.

I have found that I achieve something and feel satisfied if I can get out for a run. If I can't get out I feel miserable, lethargic and unmotivated. I eat chocolate fudge ice-cream topping straight from the container. I eat ovaltine straight from the jar and drink lots of starbucks.

I have found that if I eat breakfast I have enough energy to get me through the morning Body Pump or Combat class. If I don't have breakfast I am tired and cranky and crave junk food. I will eat a Big Mac and drink coke. I will leave the class before it finishes.

I have found that I am more patient with my children if I know I will go for or have been for a run. I will read to them and play with them rather than putting on the TV or a video. Cook healthy meals and take them to the park.

I have found that I have more energy after exercising. I am able to get the jobs done. I am more organized. Otherwise I feel lethargic and watch TV. Eat chocolate and burritos. Go back to bed once the kids are in school.

I have found that I can be a better friend. I have energy to spend on other people.

Running has enabled me to be a happier and healthier person. It has given me a goal and a focus. It has provided me with the energy and motivation to move forward in all aspects of my life.

What has running done for you?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Damn hot!

It is hot in Texas during summer. That may sound like a funny thing to say, especially from someone who loves the heat. I think the weather is quite nice as it hovers between the 85F and 92F mark. I find being cooped up in the air-conditioning with the windows and blinds closed quite depressing … and cold! Of late when I have been sitting in my home office working on the computer I have turned the air-conditioning off so as not to freeze in the 75F controlled climate. I shudder when I think about winter … with snow … thankfully not in Texas!

As much as I love the heat I have discovered that it is not fun to run in. I try to run of an evening before it gets dark out as I am normally tied to the kids and their activities during the day. It is less humid and normally there is a breeze so you don't feel the heat. My youngest has started nursery a few morning a week so I have been able to fit in some mid-morning runs. At this time the humidity is still in the air and the sun is beating down in its full glory. It is muggy and there is not much of a breeze. You don't need to run far or fast before your skin starts shimmering in the sunlight with drops of sweat.

I often see people out running in this heat mid-morning to midday without a water bottle (or hat or sunglasses). What are they thinking? Dehydration itself can lead to fatigue, muscle cramping and the loss of coordination. In this sort of climate heat exhaustion or heat stroke could also be on the cards. Thankfully when I have been out either running or walking the trails, or even in my car driving by I have not seen anyone keel over… yet. I am certain that although some of these people running during the hottest part will be mildly happy about the bronzing effect on their legs and arms, they will not be too happy about the onset of a headache or some cramping mid-afternoon! Never mind, nothing a Tylenol or a glass of wine won't fix!

As I am normally running distance of more than 2 miles, I make sure that I am carrying water with me. I have a trendy little water belt that hangs snugly from my hips and carries up to four 10 oz bottles of water. In this heat you need to continue to hydrate while exercising. Depending on the distance and the time of the day depends on how many bottles I carry on the belt. For example, if I am running a quick 4 mile around the block I will carry two full bottles. If I am running 6 miles with the group I will carry three bottles. Anything over 6 miles and I have four bottles. Yes it can feel heavy during the runs – especially about a third into it… but having the ability to continually rehydrate is much better than risking a dizzy spell and collapsing on the side of the road!

Here is a photo of what my 'fuel belt' looks like – it even has a pouch for me to store keys, a cell phone and some GU (energy gel) if needed!! Initially I was hesitant to use it as I thought I looked like a dofus. Also I thought I would have preferred using a camelback (water strapped on back like a backpack with a straw to drink from) for the ease of drinking. But I am glad that I went with the belt and so far it has worked well for me! The only advice I will give is to ensure that you wash the bottles after each run as they can get stinky. And, if you do wash them with detergent, ensure that you get all the detergent out of the bottles. Let me tell you from experience that sucking out the final few drops of water from a bottle after running 7 or 8 miles to find yourself sucking up detergent bubbles is not fun and rather disgusting!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Training Schedule

Sunday 9 August - Rest

Monday 10 August - 4 miles and Body Pump

Tuesday 11 August - 3 miles

Wednesday 12 August - Cross Training 60-90 mins

Thursday 13 August - 4 miles and Yoga

Friday 14 August - Rest

Saturday 15 August - 8 miles

Total for Week - 19 miles

Cultural Lessons

Once upon a time I was just a girl living on the Coast of Australia. Apart from my school uniform you would be hard pressed to find me in attire other than baggy shorts and an oversized surf shirt. When I grew up, got a job and left home I joined the military. Khaki became the dress of the day. During down time I could still be found in my baggy shorts and an oversized shirt. As time passed, I graduated to jeans and a few skirts and tops to wear out to dinners and parties. But that was it. My wardrobe with uniforms would take up two feet of hanging space.

When I left the military I trekked a bit around Europe and ended up working for some humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan. Living out of a backpack I still had my shorts, jeans and a few shirts. People who know me still laugh about my 'Afghan uniform' that I wore. From memory I had three long sleeve long shirts that I inherited upon arrival in Kabul, khaki oversized long pants and some beige long pants – all with a beige Afghan headscarf. I had been out of the military for a bit by then and Europe had taught me a trick or too about being girlish, so I would wear some basic makeup comprising of eyeliner and mascara and put my hair in pigtails. The pigtails were kept hidden under the headscarf and were only seen by those few who came to my office or attended the same UN meetings that I did.

Again years passed by. My wardrobe had grown slightly, but mainly with after hour pieces suitable for a dinner out, a wedding on beach or drinks at the pub. Casual chic – the dress code for those who always looked smart with an effortless flare – was something that totally eluded me until we moved to Dubai …the number one shopping destination of the world. Shops from Australia, the US, Europe and the Middle East were represented. Shopping was tax free and during the regular shopping festivals you could be guaranteed up to 75% of items. With no clean parks or clean free beaches to whittle away the time, I turned to Dubai's national past time to spend time (and money) with friends and family – shop! Three years in Dubai and my wardrobe grew with discounted clothes from Europe and I was content. I had turned into a person who loathed shopping and feared fashion in a shopping connoisseur.

Then we moved to the US. New York? Los Angeles? Washington D.C.? No, we moved and set up house in a nice green community 70 miles from Houston. Houston I hear is lovely – but I don't really know as I have not spent any time there other than one Astros game and a visit to the science museum. Fashion is … different. There are however an abundance of great parks and walking tracks and I credit moving here as to rekindling my relationship with the outdoors and with running. But … one thing I have noticed and picked up on is the emphasis on diet and calories. Initially I found this hilarious as I always see the US as being the birthplace of fast food – fatty fast food, lots of fries and burgers dripping in mayo. So it surprised me that all of the foods advertise the calorie intake per serve and how people actually go out of their way to buy and eat the 100 calorie cookie snack packs, or the 100 calorie sliced bread. It drove me crazy as I had always been brought up to eat healthy; three meals per day with a healthy snack or two and all food in moderation. The rules were fresh fruit and veges, cheese and yogurt, grained breads and pasta, lean meats. Under my rules a Big Mac meal is something that you can have when you want it – as long as it isn't every day! Under my rules I could eat a block of chocolate guilt free!

As I gradually adapted to life in the US diet and lifestyle became bigger and bigger. I found myself reading books that emphasized the importance of you are what you eat. Books such as Skinny Bitch, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads, French Women Don't Get Fat. Admittedly I bought and read some of these books for amusement or just for the title. Some of these books were scary – I didn't eat meat for a few days after reading Skinny Bitch, and after reading Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads I stopped preparing green salads with dinner (also partly because the kids don't like salads so I was throwing out more lettuce weekly than we were eating). I suddenly realized that without meaning to I had jumped on diet fad band wagon. Without meaning to I was watching my food intake and restricting certain foods just to binge on them later. Taking a deep breath I tried to forget about it all, but there were calorie reminders on every bit of food I ate. Even my husband started getting fussy with food trying to go low carbs and low calories – not eating pasta of an evening, having sandwiches without bread.

Seriously it drives me crazy. Although I understand the importance of knowing what you eat and how certain foods fuel your body I am totally over the calorie counting, the fad diets and foods that have high fructose corn syrup in them. Moving to the US has morphed me into some wannabe fitness freak that deprives the body its much needed fuel. I am done with it and going back to the regime that has worked over the past three something decades – three healthy meals a day, healthy snacks and all food in moderation. Coupled with exercise I think this solution will ensure that I can continue to wear all the clothes in my expanding wardrobe!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Keeping the Cadence

Finding my feet after convalescing has been harder than I thought. After so many years of non-running it all seemed to come back … until the injuries kicked in. But, now I have lost a lot of the condition that I had built up. I am also a lot more careful with where and when I run and have also been putting in time on muscle strengthening and stretching exercises. I think in the long run it will be OK and pay off. Although I have struggled with the longer distances I have also run some quick times.

I don't run with an ipod, mainly because I don't have a proper set of headphones that wouldn't fall out during exercise. When I was running track at school I concentrated on the 3,000 metres (approx 1.87 miles). I remember interval training sessions consisting of three to five 3,000 metre sets with a short rest in between. My coach at the time would tell me the time to run each set in 10 mins 30 secs and the recovery in between was based on my heart rate. Part of the training was to maintain a pace to finish in exactly 10 mins 30 secs. I can't sing to save my life, so I made up a silly little ditty and repeated it in pidgin English over and over again. It did the job of providing a cadence for me to run to ensuring that I would finish on time every time.

During my 4 mile run on Monday I realized that I had averaged sub 10 min miles – the fastest pace I have run all year. I was feeling rather tired and run down at the time so was surprised. I realized a bit later that I had been running with the Blues Clues theme song in my head… something that the kids had been watching all afternoon. Still not as fast as my school track days, but slowly slowy I am getting there!

"Blue skadoo'd, you can too!"

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Training Schedule

Monday 3 August - 4 miles and Body Pump

Tuesday 4 August - 3 miles

Wednesday 5 August - Cross Training 60-90 mins

Thursday 6 August - 4 miles and Yoga

Friday - 7 August - Rest

Saturday 8 August - 7 miles

Sunday 9 August - Rest