Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 26, 2011 Red Hill Hike

Tuesday morning we left sunny and warm Franklin for a hike in Red Hill.  When we arrived to the top of Red Hill we quickly realized how under-dressed we were.  The sun was no longer shining and it was windy.  But, that didn't stop us.  Off we went for a 45 minute walk/hike through the bush.  Here are some pictures of our day:

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Half Marathon - 2.04:20

Easter Weekend

It is a beautiful sunny Easter morning and I am sitting here listening to the girls going through their Easter baskets (and the neighbor's dog barking - he does that all of the time!).  They are most excited about the jelly stickers, and a bit disappointed to find licorice in some of their Easter eggs.  Easter in Australia began early.  The stores brought out the chocolate eggs over a month ago.  It was challenging to find anything but chocolate in the stores.  My 6 year old doesn't enjoy chocolate all that much so it was a bit tricky to find an alternative.  Yesterday when I was on a run it was strange to see the trees had changed colours to Autumn yellow, orange and red.  I have to remind myself that it is Easter weekend in Autumn.   Christmas in summer was unusual, but I must say this seems even stranger to me.  The weather is gorgeous - 21 degrees C and sunny.  We are joining the Calis for Easter dinner later today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beaver Galleries: It is worth a visit

As it was quite chilly and overcast today in Canberra, it was the perfect day for a visit to the Beaver Galleries in Deakin.  I had learned about the gallery from my friend, Sue.  However, I hadn't yet made the time to have a look.  I knew my friend, Maya, might enjoy the galleries because she's an artist so I invited her along.

What a lovely surprise.  It's easy to miss the gallery as it is located in a part of Deakin that doesn't suggest there may be anything of interest from an artists' point of view.  The building it's located in also looks like an office building.  The gallery is actually larger than it appears from the outside.  There are three large rooms, a lovely courtyard, a gift shop and cafe. 

Today's exhibit featured beautiful paintings by Thornton Walker and dynamic glass sculptures by Jeremy Lepisto.  The glass sculptures were really quite amazing.  The sketches were etched into glass cubes displaying a three dimensional picture.  Each side of the cube offered a different perspective.  For instance, one was of a couple of buildings along a street.  From one angle you were looking at the front of the buildings and from another you were looking at the side of the buildings as if you were standing on a side street.  In this view, there appeared a lamp post which you did not see from the front view.  Each sculpture presented such intricate detail.  I enjoy visiting galleries and museums to admire the work of artists.  I always find it inspiring. 

It was a nice cultural experience followed by coffee in the Palette Cafe and bargain shopping in Woden. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Unofficially 2.04:36

WOOT, WOOT!  I am so excited to say that I finished the Half Marathon!!  I am so pleased with my effort and my time.  Overall I felt so happy and strong throughout the race. 

Today's race experience was just fantastic.  However, the day did not begin that way.  Unfortunately, I was up quite literally all night with a sick child.  My daughter began vomitting at 9:30 PM and proceeded throughout the night until 4 AM.  My alarm was set for 4:30 so after cleaning up the last episode I just went down stairs to get ready for the race.  I am not sure I would have gotten much sleep had she not been sick as I was pretty hyped up.  The poor girl has been lying on the couch all day, not eating much or saying much (and for those of you who know her that is quite unusual for my little Chloe bug). 

I arrived at the race site around 6 AM before the sun was up.  After getting a feel for the area, I made way for the toilets.  From the little road racing I have done in the past, I remember just how long one can stand in line to use the toilet.  I also know that when I'm nervous I just have to pee again and again. 

Then, I met up with two mates, Travis and Steve, who were also registered for the half.  Travis is the father of one of Anabella's classmates and Steve is a friend of his.  These blokes were going to begin the race with me, using me as their pacer.  Trav was concerned about starting off too fast so he figured staying with me would help (he was right!).  It was fun to have a couple of people around to chat with, stretch and start the run.  After one last visit to the potty off we went to the starting line.  And, then the rain began!  Yup, it rained throughout the entire race. 

We stayed together through the first two kilometers settling in to a 6 minute/km pace.  This felt comfortable yet a bit challenging for me.  I was feeling strong, but a bit concerned that the pace may be too fast.  I was basing that assessment on my training runs which during the long runs I typically paced around 6:30/6:40.  I decided to stay with it and told myself that I could always back off if needed.  After about 2 Km Travis had pulled away.  Steve was good enough to stay close by, checking in on me from time to time.  Steve's quite fit so I knew he could be up there with Trav or even beyond.  At around 6 Km Steve slowed down a bit to see how I was doing.  By this time I had made two friends, male marathoners, who were having a hell of a time chit-chatting away.  I started out eavesdropping and about a step or two behind.  But, after a bit I decided to get in on the fun.  The two were quite kind in letting me run with them for about 3 Km keeping that 6 minute pace.  Upon seeing that I had settled in to a nice pace and some good company Steve picked it up to join Travis up ahead.  One thing I noticed about the racers around me was that not too many of them talk.  I guess I may have broken some unspoken ettiquette because I couldn't keep my mouth shut.  I was really excited, felt great and just needed to share different observations with those around me.  I'm sure many of them were mumbling under their breaths hoping the chatty American would either pick it up or drop back. 

The course was two separate loops.  The first 10.5km took us around the national museums and other iconic buildings and old and new parliament houses.  Then we headed over the bridge crossing Lake Burley Griffin to the Commonwealth Bridge bringing us back to the start.  I got to see Travis and Steve when they headed back towards me after the completing the first 10.5km.  They were across the median (too far away to high 5) so I shouted their names and cheered them on.  I was definitely the loud mouth on the course!  Seeing them about 3 km ahead really gave me a boost.  I had to contain my pace.  I started pulling away from my marathon friends as we headed across the Kings Ave bridge.  The stretch between the two bridges was my most difficult spot.  This was through about 12-16 km.  Here I started feeling my ITB on both sides and my hips were quite tight.  Have I mentioned yet that it was pouring rain?!?  Well, it was.  The rain began just as we started the race and continued heavily throughout.  The rain was cold and making my muscles tight which I was really beginning to feel.  I relaxed my pace a bit and really focused on my stride.  Stopping for just a few sips of water at the next couple of water stations helped me get focused again.   

I was so happy when it was time to cross back over the lake on the Commonwealth Bridge.  I still had a ways to go but it was the home stretch. I got to high-five Steve and Travis just as they were getting onto the bridge.  Behind them about half a kilometer was our Ambassador and his contingency.  I heard that he was running, but this was my first sighting (16km).  I didn't want to bring attention to him so I refrained from shouting out his name or chanting USA (which was what I wanted to do).  Then, as I was making my way up to the bridge I saw my new mates, the marathoners, who cheered for me as I cheered for them.  All of this was quite motivating.  I couldn't help myself and began to pick up my pace a bit.  I was feeling strong again and able to handle the pace so I went with it.  Both my ITBs were quite tight, but nothing was going to stop me.

As I was getting to the last 3 kms of the race more runners around me were reaching out to others to give words of encouragement.  This was really nice as we approached the last stretch.  I caught up to the Ambassador at 19 km and said hello.  He shook my hand, but declined to finish the last 2 km with me. 

I felt so exhilirated coming down the last kilometer.  I was sad that my family was not there to cheer me on, but so happy that I was finishing the race.  When I crossed the line and shut my watch off I couldn't believe the time.  I immediately began thinking about where I could have shaved those 3 or 4 minutes to have finished under 2 hours!!

Travis and Steve were in the finish chute waiting for me.  They both had huge smiles on their faces as I did too.  We were all quite happy with our effort.

I was a little bummed that I was not going to have a picture of me racing since my family was not able to come watch, but then I saw the Ambassador's wife who told me that she may have gotten a picture of me finishing.  So, there may be a picture after all.  Thanks Becky!

Friday, April 8, 2011

#53: Half Marathon Weekend

It's here: Half Marathon Weekend.  That's right, I am running the Half.  I just didn't have it in me to withdraw from the race.  I've wanted to run this distance for many years now and after several months of preparing, I just couldn't withdraw.  My race number #53 shows just how eager I was to sign up for this race.  So, I kept at my PT sessions and gradually was able to bring my mileage back up to a respectable distance.  My ITB is less painful, and I have a few more areas of concern, but those are due to the fact that my biomechanics are realigning so its all "good" pain.  I am ready to finish this race. 

I am running (not racing) on Sunday at the ungodly hour of 7 AM. I broke the news to my husband two days ago that we would need to leave the house at 20 minutes before 6.  It's a lot to ask of him and the girls, but I really want them there.

This race has been on my mind all week.  I have so much nervous energy built up inside me.  On Wednesday, I went for a 5 km run around the lake.  I surprised myself when I finished in 26 minutes.  That is fast for me!  Then, on the other side of the spectrum, today I went out for a nice easy run around the ponds in front of our house.  This 3.5 km run was difficult for me to finish and I ran at a slower pace than I've ever run.  This run has me rattled.  I need to remember that I have prepared, and prepared well, for this run, including an 18 km run two Saturdays ago.  I hope today's jaunt released some negative energy from my body. 

Wish me luck on Sunday!  I hope to finish feeling strong and looking good.  Let's hope its not an ugly run.  I also hope to get a good running picture of me.