Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Antarctica Rocks!!

Okay so I am still on a high from my experience in Antarctica - it has been the trip of a lifetime for me, enhanced by meeting a fabulous group of runners and the wonderful camp staff at Patriot Hills.

Well what can I say the Antarctic Ice Marathon was amazing and surreal and bloody hard work! Poor weather conditions delayed our arrival into Antarctica - although by the time we arrived the weather was amazing big blue skies and snow everywhere! It would be fair to say I was starting to feel trepidacious about actually running a marathon under Antarctic conditions. And while those following the progress of the marathon may have wondered how I was coping with the delays of the marathon (we had planned to run on December 12 but didn't actually start until December 15) particularly since I am not a very patient person. But actually each delay felt like a reprieve and for once I was actually happy to wait!

The day of the marathon finally dawned at we started running at 11.32am on the 15th of December and 7 hours and 9 minutes later I finished the Antarctic Ice Marathon - exactly 3 hours longer than the Alice Springs Marathon in August! I was the second woman across the line and came 7th in a field of 18 marathon runners!

But I am sure you all might be more interested in the gory details of the actual run! Well the fog horn went off and 17 runners sprinted away to be immediately brought up short by the soft snow. We all spread out and settled into a rhythm - well as much as the conditions would allow. I spent a lot of time watching the track and trying and to identify the harder sections of the snow-covered track but in reality there wasn't any good line to follow. I found the first 8km particularly hard work and it wasn't till I got to the first check point that I discovered that I had actually been running on an incline. With no real markers and a totally white horizon it was particularly difficult to get a visual perspective that identified an incline.

I got to the first check point had a hot orange juice and went on my merry (okay not so merry) way. I was assured that this section of the course was downhill - but it took a really long time till I found the downhill section. Around 14km I was feeling pretty low but it was at this point that I caught up with Mark who was on his third 25km lap of the 100km Ultra Marathon. Mark gently reminded me that this marathon was all about the embracing the experience of running in sub-zero conditions in the Antarctic and not to focus on the 'race' it was a great pep talk and really helped to lift my spirits.
I made it to the second checkpoint at 19km for some more hot orange juice and then ran the best section of the course. A lovely sweeping downhill section leading into the campsite. Although once again distances in Antarctica are deceptive and it took quite a while to reach campsite. However, I was re-inspired at this point since I could see one runner ahead of me maybe one kilometre and one runner behind me about 500m - so you all can imagine my game plan try to catch one and stay ahead of the other!

I eventually made it back into campsite (checkpoint 3) at about 25km and had a quick change of tops because my thermal top was dripping wet. I actually ran with a camelbak (and insulated tubing) and drank the entire 2 litres during the run - with no stops for pee-breaks!

The last 12km or so was an out and back section and was just a hard slog and difficult to judge the distances as we were running off into the wide, white horizon! I finally resorted to alternating a run/walk program between the red flags, spaced about 50 metres apart! I was relieved to make it to the final turnaround point and only had 6km to go but let's just say it was the longest 6km of my life! Once again I had one runner ahead of me and one runner behind me and my goal was to try to catch one and stay ahead of the other. Ironically in speaking later to the the two runners, they shared similar goals, one was trying to stay ahead of me and the other was trying to catch me, so we were all driving each other forward :).

I didn't actually see the campsite finish line until about 1km to go and it took forever to reach but as you can my happy face I was ever so pleased to finally finish!

So what did I think of the Antarctica Ice Marathon? A truly awesome, amazing stunning experience.

Would I do it again? Right now I would have to say Maybe and if I did it again I would at least be better prepared mentally and physically for the experience.

Would I recommend the event to other runners? Absolutely, without a doubt, the camp staff were amazingly supportive, the food was outstanding, the tents were relatively comfortable and the race was well organised - just be prepared to wait on the weather gods for the starting date! In fact I waiting for the next Coolrunner to take up the challenge.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Once in a lifetime

Just a quick hello to all my followers - thank you all so much for your support it helped me tremendously knowing you all were encouraging and supporting me to complete this event. What can I say about Antarctica - it is truly the most awe-inspring place I have ever been to and I constantly had to pinch myself (it didn´t hurt because I was always wearing gloves) to make me believe I was really there. Wide open vistas with beautiful snow covered mountain back drops. It was also a lesson in patience - time works differently in Antarctica - it is dictated by the weather gods and they are fickle and can be ferocious! We had delays in our arrival and delays in the timing of the marathon - but fortunately no delay in our departure!

The whole experience was made that much richer by the fantastic people I met who ran the marathon and also those people who work at Patriot Hills! More to follow after I get some sleep!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


She did it!!!!! They were able to run the marathon & Sharyn has made it!!!!! Her time was 7hr 9min & she was 7th competitor out of 17. Well done! The event was hard & cold but she still has all her fingers & toes - no frostbite. Hopefully she will be on her way home in the next few days, depending on the weather. Lots of photos to share upon return. Congratulations on a terriffic effort.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The weather finally cleared with -6c & Sharyn was able to fly & land safely in Antartica. Today it's -20c!! Marathon has been delayed to Monday morning as long as the weather is good - severely cold rather than freezing cold! Good luck!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hola from Chile

This is my first trip to South America and I am really enjoying Chile, the people are all very friendly and Santiago is situated in a beautiful location. I spent two days in Santiago touring the city and a day trip to the mountains - for some secret altitude training! Santiago is based in a valley surrounded by mountains it is a quite arid region with only 10 days of rain a year. The city is quite warm getting up to 30C during the day but cooling down quickly overnight.

My Spanish is very bad consisting of greetings and counting to ten, luckily for me many people speak better english than my spanish and I have managed to get along nicely - sign language is very helpful - pointing and smiling. I found it very interesting to see a mime artist performing in front of cars at an intersection - sometimes you don`t need the words.

I am now in Punta Arenas my final stop before Antarctica - I have already met a few of my fellow competitors. In fact some of them spotted me - they had seen my alice 2 antarctica website. There are some runners with excellent running and endurance sports pedigrees, just check out the list of competitors.

I took a mini tour around town, it is a small town which is quite windswept and exposed to the elements. The houses are all small (helps with heating during winter) and many of the houses are brightly painted - the ones I like have bright red roofs - I guess it helps finding them in the snow! The town is located right on the ocean and in fact my hotel room faces the beach which is lovely, today it is 15C and sunshine.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Adventure begins

Sharyn has begun her adventure and has arrived safely in Santiago, off on a mountain tour today.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Communication via antarctica

Hi everyone
I'm Sharyn's sister whom will be updating her blog while she is being the crazy girl running a marathon in Antarctica. There is no internet cconnection for her in Antarctica so she will keep us updated via sat phone. We are all very proud of her & wish her good speed & tail winds all the way. Donna

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fruit Toast and Lattes

Saturday morning's run (21km) was my last long run before I leave for Antarctica. I decided I wanted to share the run with some friends so I put the call out to the CoolRunners to join me and got a crew together, Chilli, GreyBeard(less), Darkum, Di, Go4it (me) and Maggot (who arrived to late to get in the photo). We started at the Brighton Beach Baths (in the picture) and headed out to Ricketts Point - a nice little half marathon course. It turned out to be a stunning day, just perfect for a run. Maybe not so good for the cicada that was caught and eaten by an Indian Myna Bird just as we ran past! The ultra crew took off quickly and did some investigations of the beach trails as well as the running trail. I chose to wear my trailrunning shoes to test them out on the longer run and they worked well - although my feet were very toasty warm!

On the homeward journey we caught up with Kevin Cassidy who is gradually building up his running kilometers after successfully completing a swimming crossing of the English Channel - about the same time I was running the Alice Springs Marathon - where we both finished wet and salty!

We made it back to the Brighton Beach Baths and were greeted by Courtly who had been with me in Alice Springs Marathon, while she completed the Alice Springs Half Marathon. Also joining us for breakfast was Eat Em who had cheered us on while he went zipping past on his bike! The breakfast is always the nicest part of the long run and great to share it with good company - I wonder if they have fruit toast and lattes in Antarctica!!

To complete my weekend I had a BBQ with my greatest supporters - my family! We had the chance to talk about my Antarctic adventure and what I would wear. For example the balaclava and snow goggles - not a good photo since I wasn't smiling :). The comment was made that perhaps I was ready to supplement my income by visiting some banks while wearing the mask! I didn't wear the balaclava for too long - it just got too hot!

My dad was reassured when I told him that there would be a snow mobile on the running course - that could transport runners back to the tents if the weather conditions turned bad!

I thought I might end this blog with a picture of some of my family (my parents, brother and two nephews) who I am sure don't really understand why I would chose to undertake such a difficult challenge as running a marathon in sub zero conditions but have nevertheless been 100% supportive of my efforts. Not in the picture - because she was taking the photo was my Aunt who has also played a role a major role in promoting my event - fingers crossed that Channel Nine comes through!

Friday, November 27, 2009

You Are Crazy!

I thought it would be good to answer some of the questions people have been asking me about running a marathon in Antarctica. The first comment I usually get from people is 'you are crazy'. Well at least I have 19 other crazy people to join me in my adventure in Antarctica!

What are you going to wear on your feet?
Yodgee have generously donated my running shoes for Antarctica a pair of Merrell Trail running shoes with good tread and goretex to keep my feet warm.
What are you going to wear running?
With the generous gear support from Anaconda I will be wearing lots of layers. Base Layer: merino thermals which will whisk moisture away from the skin, Mid Layer: fleece layer to provide insulation and trap body warmth, Outer Layer: wind barrier to prevent wind from blowing away body warmth. Also a Balaclava and snow goggles and mittens - they keep the hands warmer than gloves.
What are you going to do about hydration while running?
I plan on wearing a camelbak which holds 1.5l water. This will have go under my Outer layer to make sure the water doesn't freeze. Remember water freezes at 0C and I will be running in temperatures of -12C or less! There will also be aid stations every 8-10km with water.
What are you going to do about toilet breaks?
There are toilet facilities at the half-way (21km) mark.
Will the course be marked?
The course is very well marked with little orange flags - it is impossible to get lost!
How are they going to keep track of the runners?
Runners are marked down at every aid station they pass and there will be snowmobiles on the course.
Will there be penguins?
Patriot Hills where the marathon will be run is too far inland (~800km from the coast) for any animal or bird life - so no penguins, seals or birds. Also no polar bears - they only live in the North Pole - with Santa Claus!
Will you be able to use your Garmin GPS? (used while running to provide distance travelled and pace)
I have been assured that Garmin will work - nothing to block the satellites!
Is there a cut-off time for the marathon?
There will be no cut-off times, no need to worry about road closures or darkness (Antarctica will have 24 hours of day light at that time of year)
What is the time difference from Australia?
Patriot Hills Campsite is set to the same time as Puntas Arenas, Chile which is 14 hours behind Australia.
What is the accommodation like?
Patriot Hills is a summer camp -so NO permanent buildings only tents. I will be sleeping in a two-man, double lined tent, constructed of a high-tech nylon covering. Heat is maintained with zippered doors and a plywood floor.
What will the temperature be?
At this time of year the temperature ranges from -10C to -20C with highs of about -4C!!! Winds generally blow at a steady 18-37 km/hr from a southerly direction, creating a 'wind chill' and lowering the apparent temperature by some 10 to 20 degrees.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Land of no trees!

Its official there is now less than two weeks until I leave for Antarctica (the land of no trees as a friend aptly described it) and I am on running taper. For those of you not familiar with the magical words 'running taper' it means that during the last few weeks before the marathon you reduce the number of kilometers you run per week (especially the Long run) to give your body a chance to rest and recover for the marathon.

On sunday morning after listening to the heavy rain all night I wasn't convinced that I should get up and go for a 32km run but since I had made plans to meet a friend at 6.30am I felt obliged to get out there - rain or no rain! We started running together but it became apparent that we were pacing differently and since she was more than happy to do her own run that meant I had a 32km solo run, just me and my thoughts - excellent training for Antarctica !

I was thinking a lot about what motivated me to undertake this 'crazy' challenge and get up and go for a run in the rain at 6.30am on a sunday morning. There are a number of different reasons, probably the initiating drive was to undertake the Antarctic Ice Marathon - the uniqueness of the event really sparked my interest. Then I decided to combine the Antarctic Ice Marathon with the Alice Springs Marathon to create the two desert marathons and raise funds and awareness for Indigenous Cardiovascular disease research. This campaign put my little challenge into the public domain and made me very much accountable for delivering on my challenge. And the final reason - well last week I read a short story that provided a lovely analogy of one my drivers to undertake and complete the challenge.

I will shorten the story but it started with a little girl and her grandfather walking along a beach when they noticed all these starfish washed up on the beach. The little girl immediately started picking up the the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the sea as far as her little arm could reach. Her grandfather eventually called her over and explained that were 1000s of starfish on the beach and she couldn't save them all. She looked down at the starfish in her hand and threw it into the sea and said, "no, but it sure made a difference to that one".

So what does this all mean to me - well I can't cure cardiovascular disease in Indigenous Australians but I hope that perhaps that what I have been doing may contribute to more people being aware of the issues and supporting the valuable research done by Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research . I also hope that maybe my event might inspire someone else to go and take up their own challenge - we are all only limited by our self-belief.

Monday, November 16, 2009

3 Weeks to go!

I can't believe how quickly time has flown by and now I have only 3 weeks to go till I leave for Antarctica!! On Saturday morning I did some cross training with a little bike ride from Prahran to Mordialloc, but all in a good cause. Team Paceline are a group of guys who are riding their bikes from Melbourne to Sydney over 8 days to raise awareness about heart disease and to raise funds for the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne and the Victor Chang Research Institute in Sydney.

These group of guys have seen the devastating affects of heart disease and are doing what they can to help improve outcome by raising awareness and funds. I was really pleased to help support their ride from Melbourne with a cyclist escort to Mordialloc. I must admit as well that it was pretty cool having a police escort for our cyclist pack of about 20-30 cyclists. Apparently along the way someone on the street asked about the 'police escort' and assumed that it must have been 'pro riders' :). We finished the ride and while we stopped for a coffee before heading home, the Paceline team still had another 150km before they were finished - for the day! I was running- actually I guess I mean cycling a bit late and almost missed the team photo - I literally rode into it!

It ended up being a 2.5 hour bike ride which made for a pleasant day but confirmed the vastly different impact of cycling and running on my body. A 2.5 hour bike ride was low impact and I felt fine afterwards in comparison a 2.5 hour run leaves me feeling quite tired and my legs are weary!

On Sunday morning it was back to running and in order to avoid the heat and have some great running company I started my run at 6am. I wasn't very happy when my alarm clock went off - even before the birds had started chirping but once I was up and moving around I guess it wasn't that bad. I caught up with Dave and Miranda at our starting point and we headed off for our run while enjoying the gorgeous sunrise. It was great running with Dave, I made him do all the talking to distract me while I concentrated on just breathing! At about 13km I started feeling a little light-headed so I just made sure I drank more water and I deliberately took it easy running up the hills. We reached the 16km turn around point, consumed a GU gel and headed home. At this point we could feel the temperature picking up but it was still comfortable running.

At various sections both Dave and I found the going tough but the great thing about running with running buddy is that just having them with you keeps you running. I think its the issue of 'accountability' if I run by myself no-one but me will know if I stop and walk the rest of the way home if I am feeling tired. Another runner with you means a witness to see you taking the easy option - so I don't! So I kept running all the way home and ultimately finished with an even split 1h35min for each 16km. My average pace was 6:03min/km with an average heart rate of 142 bpm and max heart rate 168 bpm.

The really cool thing about the run was the fact that even after having already run 30km for the last two kilometres I was able to pick up my running pace to 5:30min/km and then 4:29min/km. Okay I admit it this was purely because of my strong competitive streak. Dave is a very strong runner and he had the energy to pick up the pace in the last two kilometers. I briefly considered letting him get ahead of me but then the competitive spirit came over me and I did my best to catch him and attempt to overtake him. He was just messing with me and easily stayed in front. But it really proved to me that even though I thought up until that point I was going as fast as could - all I needed was the right motivation to pick up the pace!! Something to ponder when I find it tough going in a long run!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marysville Half Marathon

I had a great weekend of running, on Saturday morning I ran 10km with a good friend who got me started running in fun runs and on Sunday morning I ran my 14th half marathon - the Marysville Half Marathon.

On Saturday morning I arranged to catch up with my friend Leah and go for a run. It was kind of coming full circle. Leah and I both grew up in Wonthaggi, then we shared a house a Melbourne and ironically we ended up sharing a house in Jackson, Mississippi where we both worked at the University of Mississippi Medical Centre. It was in 1999 when I took up running seriously, I had been to an event downtown and happened to watch a 5km fun run. It was really interesting for me to see that while there were definitely some very speedy people, there were also lots of people who weren't quite so fast. After going home and chatting with Leah we decided that maybe we could do a fun run together. The very next weekend Leah and I completed our very first 5km fun run in downtown Jackson. That's all it took having someone to encourage me to run and I have never looked back I even placed second in my age class!

The really great thing now with running with Leah is that this time I am encouraging her and supporting her goal of completing her first marathon in Pittsburgh next year - if all goes well I plan on being there to run with her on the day! We had a lovely run along the rail trail although it was getting a little warm. We finally reached the 5km turn around point and as always felt great knowing over I was over half way finished.

I spent the rest of Saturday drinking lots of water because I wanted to stay well hydrated for the half marathon on Sunday which I knew was going to be warm. Although the Marysville run started at 10.30am on Sunday morning, it was a 1.5 hour drive and we needed to get there earlier to pick up our race numbers so that meant a 7.30am departure time. Luckily for me, my running buddy Rob was happy to drive which was nice. The day was already starting to warm up by the time we reached Marysville and met up some fellow Gunn Runners. This was the inaugural running of the Marysville running festival to help support the community after the devastating fires on Black Saturday in February this year. The organisers were hoping to attract a 1000 runners - they got 3000 runners all entering to show their support of the community.

The start of the half-marathon was provided by the ringing of a bell - another survivor of the bushfire. We took off down the road and then turned onto a trail section, it wasn't until we turned around from the trail section that I realised that the entire section had been gradually rising. This made the return section downhill which was lovely - until it started rising again!. The organisers had told us there was one section that was quite steep going down hill - although it was only a short section of about 100m, but suggested we might want to walk it. I got to the steep section and really enjoyed going down fast!

We then followed the creek bed for a while, ran past the football and started the final 4km climb up to Stevenson's Falls. This is where things started getting tough with the incline and the heat. I finally made it the falls, which sadly had been dramatically altered by the fires and unfortunately hasn't recovered with the landscape still quite barren with very little regrowth. The Falls themselves were still flowing and I was happy to turn around and complete the last 4km section - running downhill!

I was feeling the effects of the heat and the hills - but I didn't feel as bad as I had while running the Alice Springs Marathon. This time when I had to stop and walk it wasn't so hard to start back running again, in comparison to my run in Alice Springs where my mind was willing to continue running but my body refused. I knew I would finish this event running and I did, crossing over the finish line in a Personal Worst time of 02:00:45!!!

Interestingly enough my heart rate data show clearly why I was struggling, with an average heart rate of 163bpm and max heart rate of 171 bpm. When I compare this to my heart rate after running the Melbourne Half Marathon 4 weeks ago where my average heart rate was 154bpm and max heart rate was 163bpm you can clearly see that I was working harder 10bpm harder, phew there is a good reason why I was tired!

My other news of the moment is that I have got my flights organised, I leave Melbourne on December 5th and arrive in Chile on the 6th. I also bought some mittens - since they are better protection against frostbite than gloves. I found it particularly amusing when reading the blurb about the gloves that they come with a built in 'suede snot wipe'.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Athletic Heart

Last week I went to visit my cardiologist for a check-up. It has been 3 years since I saw him last when I was having dizzy spells while running. At the time after a thorough check up - including an echocardiograph report that stated, 'some exercise-induced ventricular hypertrophy consistent with athletes heart' - my cardiologist stated that I was probably going to be okay but he couldn't guarantee that I wouldn't die while running . Just to let you know that he couldn't guarantee that 'anyone' wouldn't die running or for that matter while sitting on their couch at home!

So this time around my cardiologist checked out my ECG trace which like last time showed that I have an inverted P wave. He explained that this just means that unlike most people where the heart beat is initiated by an electrical signal at the sinoatrial node because I run a lot and have a low resting heart rate (about 45 beats per minute) my heart beat is initiated at a different site, lower down in the heart at an 'ectopic pacemaker'. This is nothing to worry about at all and he gave me the all clear to run the Antarctic Marathon - although this time he wouldn't guarantee that I wouldn't get frostbite!!

I was very pleased to hear my heart report and to celebrate on Saturday morning I did a 30km run. Using my trusty Garmin GPS I was able to run from Brighton Beach Baths for 15km to Mentone and then turn around and run 15km back to complete my 30km run. Unfortunately it wasn't quite that easy and even though we started running at 7.30am it was still a bit too warm so the last 10km were really hard work. At the 10 and 20km mark I stopped and took a gel to give me energy I also had to refill my camelbak (which holds about 2 litres) so at least I knew I was well-hydrated. So I finally finished my 30km run in a time of 3hr 4min with an average heart rate of 147 bpm and average pace of 6:07min/km. So overall a good run but I was pleased it was over and it now means I only have two more long runs (over 30km) to complete before I leave for Antarctica :).

This afternoon I did my second interview for ABC Southern Queensland Drive and really had a fun time. The guy chatting with me suggested I could acclimate by running in a 'cold room' I replied that I wasn't sure if a treadmill would work in the cold - but I was willing to try! Does anyone have a really big freezer room for me to test out running?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kickboxing Kangaroos

On the weekend I went to visit my sister and her kids so I traded in my regular beach run for a run through the Adelaide Hills. On the Saturday morning my sister and I walked the track to give me an idea of where I could run the following day. It was a lovely walk - time for the two of us to chat without any distractions - except nature. I also got the chance to test out my fantastic new TrailRunning Shoes - Merrell Siren Sport Gortex donated by Yodgee in Prahran. They worked a treat and kept my feet toasty warm, and didn't cause any blisters.

At one point during our walk we looked ahead to see a bunch of kangaroos grazing by the side of the track. On closer inspection we realised that two juvenile kangaroos (who were both taller than my sister and I) were actually putting on a fighting display for us - 'kickboxing Kangaroos'. It was really impressive to see these two kangaroos just leaning back on their strong tails and kicking out with their legs!

My long run on Sunday consisted of a run around the 'Wine Shanty Track'. Just me and the bush, and a mother koala and her baby and lots of kangaroos. It was quite hilly but I managed to stay running the whole time, although admittedly the steep upward inclines were more like a crawl than a run. At one section I was actually racing with a Kangaroo along the track, okay he was a bit faster than me but slowed up every 50m or so to let me catch up and then continued to speed away! It was especially cool to see the kangaroo negotiate the hairpin bend on the hop :).

My plan was to run for two hours or about 20km I finished a bit quicker than that so I probably only ran 19km. You might ask 'didn't my Garmin tell me the distance?' Well it would have if I remembered to pack it - Doh!

Monday, October 19, 2009

8 weeks to go!

Today I finalised my payment for Antarctica - the countdown is on! On the positive side my running training is going right on schedule. On Sunday morning I ran 28km - well I actually ran 8km by myself and then met up with my friend Rob to run the last 20km!

It was a great run particularly since I got to use my new Garmin and it worked brilliantly. I set it up to count laps every kilometer so I was able to run out for exactly 4km and then turn around. I ended up running 8km in 47 min, average pace 5min56sec/km and average HR 141bpm. For the next 20km I took 1hr59min58sec, average pace 5min59sec/km and average HR 140bpm. So it shows that I can maintain my pace for at least 28km, which is a great outcome!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

13 Half Marathons Completed!

On Sunday I successfully completed my 13th half-marathon. I was a little bit concerned about 'unlucky 13' but as it turns out I had a brilliant run and really enjoyed the day.

It was perfect conditions on the day - much kinder than last years extreme temperatures and strong head winds. I started off the day keeping company with Erin and managed to find a couple of other Gunn Runners - Amanda and Phil.
It is always so much nicer sharing the pre-race anticipation/anxiety with friends. Also lucky for me Phil was able to give me a mini-tutorial on using my 405 Garmin GPS watch so it would give me the exact information I wanted for the run - time elapsed, distance travelled (in kilometers - only metric here!) and pace!

I started running with Erin - who also ran with me at the Alice Springs Marathon. However at about 5km I lost Erin and it was just me and 7000 other people running the half marathon. I didn't listen to my music but instead chose to listen to the rhythmic sound of 100s of feet pounding the pavement!

During the run I was enjoying the atmosphere and I particularly liked the section down Pit lane in Albert Park where you could see the runners ahead of you on their return section and then after the turn I got to see all the runners behind me :). Out on the course I saw a few fellow Gunn runners and exchanged places a couple of times!
I still haven't quite worked out how to load it all up my Garmin data into my computer. Maybe for the next post but the final reading was Time: 1hr47min5sec, Distance: 21.39km, Pace (last lap): 4min13sec - I think I was a bit excited running the final section into the MCG :).

Photo credits and thanks to Cato for the first photo and Wazza for the second photo!

I ended the week with my radio interview on ABC South East SA. It was a fun interview, Annette commented that Rob DeCastella (Australian Marathon Champion) suggests that running two marathons a year was extremely challenging. I responded that with smart training to prevent injuries it was highly achievable - particularly since I am running the marathons a lot slower than DeCastella!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

70km in one week!

Last week was a big week of running for me, completing just under 70 kms for the week - I was kind of tired by sunday night!

Having survived the extended running a nice reward was to pick up my Anaconda gear from the guys in Carnegie. The gear was everything I needed to keep me warm in Antarctic and also a Garmin 405 GPS watch - what does that mean? Well its a watch that as well as recording how long I run for it also registers my heart rate and using GPS can work out the distance I have run, giving me my running pace. I can't wait to use my new toy this coming weekend at the Melbourne Half Marathon :) - I hope it makes me run faster!

On wednesday I also did a radio interview with ABC Perth Afternoons with Bernadette Young, she said I was 'crazy' in the nicest possible way of course! But it was nice to have a chat with her. Tomorrow I will talking on ABC Darwin Breakfast and Monday afternoon ABC South Australia - so I will have done a radio interview in 4 of 7 states - pretty cool huh!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Breakfast Meeting

This week I was invited to talk at the weekly breakfast meeting held by the Moonee Valley Rotary Club in a great cafe in Essendon. I have to admit it's not a part of town that I have ever been to but it was a great visit and they made me feel very welcome. Before we started the meeting and breakfast I gave everyone a copy of the Baker IDI fridge magnet 'Healthy tips for everyone' to remind us all to make the healthy choice. Just in case you can't remember the tips here they are:
  • Do not smoke
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain cereals
  • Eat fish 2-3 times a week, especially oily fish (like salmon)
  • Remove all visible fat from meats and cook with oils not solid fats
  • Limit your salt intake
  • Reduce your intake of takeaways or convenience foods
  • Drink alcohol moderately if you choose to drink
  • Include at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily
  • Include muscle strengthening exercise at least 2-3 times weekly
  • Reduce your daily sitting time
After a tasty breakfast of fresh fruit I spoke with the members about the Alice 2 Antarctica challenge and the issue of cardiovascular disease in Indigenous Australians and the fact that cardiovascular disease not only affects more Indigenous Australians but the consequences are also more severe in this disadvantaged population.

I got some great positive feedback about my challenge and there were lots of questions about how I planned to actually run on the snow and ice 'carefully' and how I would cope with the extreme cold 'lots of layers'.

Since the breakfast meeting took the place of my morning run I had to do my training run in the afternoon. Luckily for me it had been a lovely spring day in Melbourne, so the after work run ended up being a very pleasant way to finish my day!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Running Mojo is Back!

In my first week of official marathon training I have actually really enjoyed my running, in fact I think I have rediscovered my running mojo. I even felt good doing my running training with my coach on Thursday night despite the fact that it included four runs up Anderson Street - with gentle recovery runs down.

Another fun thing that happened this week was that my photographer extraordinaire, Wee-Ming sent me some fantastic photos from the 'Fire and Ice Soiree' which are now posted on the A2A Facebook site. But I thought I would put up at least one here, it shows the team of fantastic people who helped me put the event together - they even look happy about it. Big thanks to my major sponsor People Teams Leaders who allowed Ric to travel from Sydney to MC the event - he was instrumental in the smooth running and success of the event.

All right another big event this week was the fact that my story was published in 'That's Life'. And just in case the demand for this weeks issue has led to all the copies being sold here is a version for my readers to see. You know the readership of That's Life is over 1.1 million people, a good effort. Photo credits go to Wee-Ming Boon and Warren Tharle - thanks guys.
I have also now obtained medical insurance for Antarctica from one of the few companies that can actually insure you in Antarctica!!!! So now I will be covered in case of a medical emergency. I also got clearance from my GP who was very impressed with my blood pressure and heart rate - long distance running is great for keeping blood pressure and heart rate low!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

12 weeks until Antarctica Marathon!!!!!

I think I have now only just started to forget the pain and heat of Alice Springs and now it's time to start all over again with marathon training for Antarctica!! I thought some of you might be interested to see what my marathon training consisted of so here it is! The green line is the days I do my 5km race Albert Park Lake with the Gunn Runners. The blue bar is the day I do my speed training session with my Running Coach. I have already completed Day 1 - which consisted of - no running, quite easy actually. I must admit though I still like to keep active so instead of running this morning I did a 60 minute bike ride along Beach Road - it is really lovely to get out there first thing in the morning and this morning a fellow cyclist even waved at me!

The other exciting news of today was the publication of an article in the Snowgum Members Mag - Summer 09 Issue. Just in case some of you aren't members - and why not! here is the article in question, thanks to Shahan at Science of Copy for the great words and Photographer extraordinaire Wee-Ming for his great photos! Let's hope this interests a lot of people and my message goes wide and far - and some more fundraising opportunities would be great too!
Oh and my other news for the day is that I have set a date for a Fundraising Shopping Tour - it will be Saturday 7th November a perfect time to organise your Christmas Gifts!!! The price for a seat will be purely dependent on the numbers - that is, the more people that come the cheaper it gets! So for 24 people price is $43 and if we managed to get 49 people the cost would go down to $16 - cool! I will need to pay the whole fee by the 20th of October so drop me a line if you are keen. More details to follow later but the company we are going through is Jackies Shopping Tours.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Working Hard in Cairns

I suddenly realised that I hadn't updated my blog in a while. I have been kept quite busy with finalising all the details from the Fire and Ice Soiree, my day job, running and cycling training, my part-time studies and oh yeah the scientific conference in Cairns.

Before I see you all shaking your heads about combining the words 'conference and Cairns' it's the truth. I attended the 20th Stroke Society of Australasia Annual Scientific Meeting in Cairns last week and it was great. I learnt lots of cool new things like the fact that stroke resulting from a single gene is rare and is more likely to result from a range of genes that for example control blood pressure and cholesterol (important risk factors for developing stroke).

Also the fact that in the community many people are still unaware of the signs and symptoms of stroke. So maybe I can ask my readers what does FAST stand for? Any clues - something to do with stroke? Still not sure? Okay its a way to help people easily recognise the early warning signs of stroke. Specifically:

FACE Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
ARMS Can they lift both arms?
SPEECH Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
TIME Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 now!

So now we have all learnt something new and potentially something that could save a life!

I also managed to do a couple of runs in Cairns, increasing my level of physical activity and thereby reducing my risk of stroke! My runs also included a 5km race along the boardwalk where I came third - pretty cool huh. Actually it was quite warm and I was working hard towards the end. Strangely enough while in sunny, warm Cairns I managed to catch a cold which wasn't so fun.

I have now started back into my running routine with a regular tuesday night run with the Gunn Runners just a snappy 5km around Albert Park Lake with a few running friends (well about 40 actually). I also did my laps around Fawkner Park before work - it's actually kind of nice to start the day with a run especially as the sun is rising and the day is unfolding!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fire and Ice Successfully Completed

After months of preparation the Fire and Ice Soiree has been successfully completed. The evening started off with drinks all round, provided by the fantastic bar staff of David and Rebecca and an opening speech by the MC - Ric. The exquisite food was provided by Eliza and Juanita and included oysters on ice, coconut coated prawns, and lots of other great tasting nibbly bits. Guests then had the opportunity to mingle and check out all the fantastic silent auction goods on offer. Throughout the evening raffle tickets were sold, thanks to Julie who did a great job and the first ice-breaker game 'out of line' resulted in an equal draw amongst seven people. Music was ably supplied by DJs Plump & Rosie.

At around 8pm the live auction took place with our auctioneer, Brad Cooper, doing a fantastic job of working up the crowd to spend up big! This was followed by a short speech by me and our next ice-breaker game. There was also an uniquely designed cross-word, crafted by the MC. So what is the country code for Antarctica? The final entertainment of the night was a quiz specifically designed by Ric that was played by teams of 4, which involved audio and visual questions. The photographer who did the great promo shots for Alice2Antarctica (seen on the front page of the Alice 2 Antarctica website), Wee-Ming, generously offered to take photos at the Fire and Ice Soiree. He was kept busy all night capturing the events on film - photos will follow soon.

A great night was had by all and after adding up all the numbers, the evening raised over $9000 a fantastic effort. There are a long list of people who I want to acknowledge for this terrific outcome. Firstly thank you to all of the supporters who turned up on the night - it meant an incredible amount to me to see you all there, showing your support both of me and what I am trying to achieve. An additional big thanks must of course go to the various businesses and organisations that generously supplied their goods/services for this event. In particular I would like to acknowledge those companies and individuals that provided goods for the 'live auction', these include; Anaconda who donated a Fluid Ricochet Mountain Bike; Matt who provided the limited edition Ricky Ponting print; Alex Brown, the head of the Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research who generously donated an original painting; Mediapad who provided the Melbourne Helicopter Joy Flight and; Deirdre Jewellery who donated the beautifully handcrafted silver necklace.

Next thanks must go to my organising team, without the major contribution of these people the event would not have happened, nor been as successful. Tasj, the event coordinator was brilliant at seeing the bigger picture and about keeping us all in line and to schedule, she also was a donor for silent auction goods from her 'One Hedi Day' line of travel accessories. Shahan, of 'the Science of Copy' used her finely crafted copy writing skills to develop the content for the Events Brochure and she also liaised with many of the auction good donors and on the night did a great job on the Welcome Desk. Leith, of Communications Consultant, was our media liaison man, he also coordinated the DJs and provided the A2A posters. Sue, the Donations Coordinator, was instrumental in sourcing many of the silent auction goods and raffle prizes, and although she couldn't make it on the night her efforts were greatly appreciated. Sally, who was our liaison with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, was a great resource for the event as well as playing a major role in the set-up for the night as well as on the Welcome Desk. I should also mention that together Sally and I consolidated the costings - auction goods, entry donations, raffles and despite neither of us having strong accounting backgrounds we both came up with the same numbers!! Finally to the MC, Ric who played the major role in the success and enjoyment of the evening for all, in fact all the feedback I have received about the event is based on the great work Ric did. Not only did Ric do an outstanding job of directing the evening, engaging the crowd and keeping the laughs coming but he is also a major sponsor of A2A through his company, People Teams Leaders. Ric has been an incredible support to me from the start and I really value his contributions, even if some of the jokes were at my expense - it's okay because I was laughing too!

My thanks to those who played roles on the night. These people include: David and Rebecca on the bar, service with a smile and they even cleaned up afterwards, thanks to you both; Eliza and Juanita on catering - I have been getting such positive feedback from all attendees about the fantastic food, great job; Julie who offered her services and willingly sold raffle tickets all night, I really appreciate your help Julie with the tickets; Brad Cooper, the auctioneer, I invited Brad to attend at extremely short notice and he readily agreed to assist with the live auction; and Perla, who was instrumental in 'dressing' the function.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Page 5 Girl

Hot off the presses an article in today's Stonnington Leader Newspaper on page 5! While I was getting photos taken in Fawkner Park across the road from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, the 'photographer' thought that the Baker IDI logo on the building was framed very nicely between the tree trunk and the branch and jokingly suggested 'we could get a photo of you in the tree'. I guess most of you wouldn't be surprised that I readily agreed before I had considered how exactly I was going to get up the tree since the branch was way over my head and there were no step ladders! So I hope everyone likes the photo because it took some effort for me to climb the tree - especially since this was only 3 days after the marathon and there wasn't much strength left in my legs to push me up onto the branch. This meant that the poor photographer had to help and push me up on the branch!

Anyway I think they did a great job overall with the article and the photographer was pleased with the untraditional pose and best of all my 6 year old niece was very impressed to see that her aunty can climb trees!

PS - Thanks to my neighbour Duncan I discovered that this article was also published in the Bayside Leader Newspaper!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Recovery Run

On saturday morning I went for my first run since I completed the Alice Springs Marathon a week ago. Let's just say it wasn't pretty and I felt every step of the 10km run. But it was definitely nice to be back running and I see how much a part running is of my regular life. It was just a gentle run along the beach track from Mentone to Black Rock and back. It really is such a scenic trail and I enjoy looking out over the coast line. The head wind as I ran towards Black Rock was hard work but the tail wind on the way home was much appreciated.

I then spent the rest of the weekend finalising details for the Fire and Ice Soiree - the major fundraising event for Alice 2 Antarctica. I have got over $10,000 worth of goods and services - now I just need the people to come and buy. I must admit I like all of the goods on offer but my personal favorites are the mountain bike, the red leather office chair and the Helicopter joy flight!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Anaconda is the A2A Gear Sponsor

It is with great delight that I can announce that Anaconda have agreed to provide gear for the Antarctic portion of the Alice 2 Antarctica challenge. This is a fantastic opportunity and will play a major role in enabling me to survive warm and dry in the extreme weather conditions in Antarctica. Even though I will be undertaking the Antarctic leg in summer the temperatures can range from -10C to -40C, and the strong winds in the region can add to the extreme conditions.

In addition, Patriot Hills the location of the Antarctic Marathon is a summer camp, with no permanent structures. This means that I will be sleeping in a tent for the duration of my stay so a highly-rated sleeping bag will be a necessity for keeping warm.

Anaconda have also generously donated a mountain bike, the Fluid Ricochet Mountain Bike for the Fire and Ice Soiree, the major fundraising event for the Alice 2 Antarctica Challenge. It's a great looking bike - not sure how it handles on the ice and snow though!

Once again I want to recognise the generous support of Anaconda for the Alice 2 Antarctica challenge, it certainly will play a big role in the successful completion of the challenge. Thanks Anaconda!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alice Springs Marathon - The First Desert Marathon!

Sit back and relax this blog post is going to be a long one! The official start time for the Alice Springs Marathon is 6am - which meant a 4 am wake-up call for the team, Elisabeth, Erin, Baz, Davo and me. That is, excluding the false start at 3.30am due to someone forgetting about the 30 min time difference between Alice Springs and Melbourne when they set their alarm!!!! At 4am the stars were still shining bright and the moon was beaming down on us.

I nervously ate my breakfast - a banana, a museli bar and a piece of toast with honey. Runners are a strange bunch when it comes to pre-race nutrition each of us had our own tried and tested regime for pre-race food. It is a delicate balance between eating enough to keep the energy levels up and not eating too much so we are weighed down processing the food. Generally we avoid dairy and high energy food like jam and honey are favorites. I also had my hydration sorted out with bottles of Endura at every 6km!

I also made sure I coated my skin in sunscreen - I burn very easily and 3 hours in the Alice Springs sun would fry me (the first hour is run in darkness). We then all piled into the taxis for a short drive to the start of the marathon at the Araluen Arts Centre. We made it with plenty of time to spare but the tension was building. We caught up with some other Coolrunners at the start line and had our obligatory team photo, while we were still fresh and unscathed - although some of us looked a little apprehensive - you can decide who!

The call was made and we all gathered at the start line behind our police escort. A total of 35 marathon runners gathered together from all states of Australia and even a couple of runners from overseas. I think we were all a little apprehensive particularly with the warm start, it was already 20C and it was only 6am! The gun went off we launched ourselves into the darkness - perhaps it was a good thing that we couldn't actually see exactly what we were letting ourselves in for.

My race plan was to run a sustained 5min30sec per kilometer - for as long as I could hold it. Thanks to my trusty Garmin GPS watch, kindly lent to me by my running buddy Phil I didn't have to do any difficult mental arithmetic to work out my pace - the Garmin would do it all for me and measure my heart rate as well! My other race plan was to get my drink bottle every 6km from the fantastic volunteers along the course. Erin and I started running together and as we headed out of town it grew darker as we left the town lights behind. We kept on running as the stars began to fade and the sky grew lighter. At about 10km into the run Erin decided that she needed to pick up the pace and went on her way.

Just before the 15km mark we turned off Larapinta Drive and headed onto Bulleen Road. This was quite a scenic section of the race with trees intermittently spread along the course, providing some much needed shade. Not long after the turn off I saw the first half marathon runners heading home. I was both pleased to see the other runners and give a cheery shout of encouragement (and receive one in return) but also quite envious of these runners knowing how far I had come and how far I still had to go! At this point I also saw Elisabeth heading home and she took an action shot of me running!

It was with much relief that I finally saw the 21.1km turn around at 1h55min - not too bad considering my first ever half marathon I ran in 1h58min and then I got to stop. This time I still had 21.1km to go! I was still feeling okay at this point and very happy to have made it that far. I was marking off the kilometers and keeping an eye on my pace. Still travelling at the speed I wanted but the heat was beginning to become an issue for me. It was at this point that I was starting to look forward to seeing the water stations every 3km, I would grab my water bottle and drench myself with water to keep cool.

I finally hit Larapinta Drive at about 27km and was really looking forward to reaching 30km. I reached that mark and then hit 32km in 2hr54min. This meant I had 66min to run 10km and finish the marathon in under 4 hours - that speed was well within my capability - under normal conditions. But this was far from normal conditions, having already run 32km at race pace and with the temperature rapidly rising - probably already in the mid to upper 20s at this point!

I continued steadily running until 33km when I finally conceded that I had two choices. Continue running as best I could, and more than likely suffer a dizzy spell and potentially collapse (and be unable to finish the race) OR take deliberate walk breaks and hopefully be able to finish the marathon in one piece. In previous races I had ignored the warning signs and suffered for it, so I took the smarter but slower option and chose to slow it down. I walked the inclines and tried my best to run the flat and downhill sections. I got quite excited when I saw the 'Welcome to Alice Springs' sign and then the 90km sign, followed by the 60km - I had reached the city limits. I distinctly remember reaching the 39km mark at 3hr 48min, only 3km to go - but the longest 3km of my life! I think it was at the 39km water station there was a lovely man who had a plastic watering can that he offered to soak the runners with. I readily agreed and he jumped up on a little stool and proceeded to pour cooling water over me - it was great.

I finally made it to 41km, with only 1km to go I decided that I would run the whole kilometer - well let's just say I attempted to run the last kilometer but didn't quite manage it. However, when I turned the final corner and saw the Coolrunning crew cheering me on I was motivated to sprint those final few meters (okay it probably didn't look like a sprint - but I gave it all I had). I crossed the finish line of the Alice Springs Marathon in a time of 4 hours and 9 minutes. Not a bad effort when you consider that it was the hottest ever Alice Springs Marathon and the fact that I was completely shattered - there was absolutely nothing left! And now I have a really cool trophy to prove it!

PS It's a good thing I taught my Mum how to google stalk since she found my finish line picture on the Alice Springs Running and Walking Club website!!
PPS Thanks Greg. for letting me 'borrow' the cool profile of the Alice Springs Marathon Course!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Last Run Before the Marathon

Friday morning Peekie and I decided to do a gentle 30 minute run as our last run before the marathon. I also wanted to test out the Garmin GPS watch that Phil had kindly lent me for the marathon. We went out early while it was still mild but you could feel the heat rising and building for the day to come. The Garmin worked fantastic and showed we ran 30 minutes and averaged 6.07min/km exactly what we planned to do, my heart rate also stayed steady 140bpm which is good.

Luckily we were able to take a dip in the pool when we got back to cool off and then it was a short 4km stroll into Alice Springs in time for my radio interview on CAAMA - Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association. I met up with Celestine Rowe during 'Women's Business' and we had a chat about Alice 2 Antarctica and the work done at the Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research here in Alice Springs. It was my first face to face radio interview and I really enjoyed having a chat with Celestine.

Friday night was the big carbohydrate loading with the rest of the people running the Alice Springs Marathon. We found out that there will be 35 people running the Alice Springs marathon and about the same number running the half marathon. Interestingly there is almost even numbers of men and women running - quite unusual for the longer distance runs. The locals assured us that the cold change would come through on Saturday night - although Saturday itself would be 34C - it was hoped that Sunday would only reach the high 20s. Our fingers are all crossed for cool weather!

Living Next Door to Alice

After a very early morning start I arrived in Alice Springs on Thursday morning. I had a liesurely tour of the Alice Springs airport - which didn't take long and then I sat down to wait for my coolrunning buddies to arrive. In total there are 5 of us staying in a cabin all eager to run across the Alice Springs outback - well that is until we discovered the forecast temperature - 30C. Hmm we will all need to work on our hydration levels and drink plenty of water!

While waiting for the team to arrive I got a call from the Baker IDI Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research. The unit had arranged for me to come and visit and talk about the Alice 2 Antarctica event, my own research in stroke prevention and of course there would be opportunity to talk about the fantastic research the unit is doing in the area of Indigenous cardiovascular disease research.

The team finally arrived and it was great to meet up with the rest of the coolrunning team, Peekie, Baz, Davo, and Courtly. We made our way to the caravan park which thankfully has a lovely swimming pool. I then headed off to the Centre in downtown
 Alice. It was great to meet up with the people working at the Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research. And to see how the money I am raising will help this fantastic research team do their critically important research.

After my talk I caught up with my coolrunning team and walked up to the top of ANZAC hill and admired the panaroma of the Alice Springs Township. We then bought up supplies for a big vegetable stir fry - cooked by Peekie and it was delicious.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Less than a week to go!

Well things are starting to get a little bit busy right now, the Alice Springs Marathon will take place on sunday, my major fundraising event - Fire and Ice Soiree will take place just less than two weeks after that and yesterday I did a radio interview with ABC Southern Queensland Drive.

I spent Saturday organising goods for the Silent Auction, and I actually I got some great positive feedback from people I spoke with. I also got some really great auction prizes - goods from Oroton, Officeworks, and a fantastic Jewellery Store, Shimmer and AVEDA will provide a complimentary treatment (15 min) with a sample for ALL people at the event!

So now I have the auction goods sorted out I just need people to buy their tickets!

My marathon training has gone really well and I am so pleased that I got through the training with no major injury. One of the hard things about marathon training is the wear and tear on the body resulting from increasing the numbers of kilometers that are run.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Running a Half-Marathon is Easy!

Okay the title is a bit of tease, running a half marathon is still hard work but at this stage of my marathon training when I am now reducing the length of my 'long runs' running a half marathon doesn't seem so hard :). On Sunday morning I met up with Gary and Phil my regular running buddies to do our regular Brighton Beach Baths to Rickets Point run (and return of course). I really do enjoy these beach runs, lots of trails to run on so gentle on the joints and the fantastic ocean view and even Steve Monaghetti agrees the trail is a fantastic place to run!

On the way out the guys quickly outpaced me but were nice enough to stop and wait for me at the water stops. At our turning point - Rickets Point - we all had a drink and I had an Endura Gel. I had never tried one before but Gary had a spare so I tried it out - I'm not convinced about the 'citrus' flavour but at least it didn't upset my stomach. We then turned back towards Brighton to discover the reason why the run out had been so pleasant, we unknowingly had a tail wind - of course this meant a head wind for the entire trip back! Oh well, I thought it's great resistance training and I do need to train for the potential Katabatic winds in Antarctica!

On the way back the head wind was tiring and the guys had well and truly run off ahead so I couldn't even use them as a wind break! Luckily for me at this point I was joined by another runner - Peter who was also training for a marathon, the Melbourne Marathon. We started chatting and it was great distraction for me. As it turns out Peter was a very experienced Marathon runner, running numerous national and international marathons all at a much faster pace than me. I asked him what inspired him to keep going back and doing more marathons, he replied simply that running was his passion.

It was really interesting to hear what motivates other people to do long distance running and while I would say that I am passionate about running a bigger motivator for me is the challenge and completing the goal. With only a week and half till the completion of one goal - the Alice Springs Marathon I am feeling good :).

My other news of the week is the most recent addition to the Silent Auction Goods. As seen in the picture a signed, limited edition (49/100) print of Ricky Ponting valued at over $800. So if you are interested in owning a beautifully framed picture of one of Australia's Sporting hero get your 'Fire and Ice Soiree' ticket now!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

People Teams Leaders are a sponsor!

I am very pleased and excited to report that People Teams Leaders have come on board and are now a Major Sponsor of the Alice 2 Antarctica event. I have known the founder of this company Ric Leahy, for over two years and he is one of the most positive, interesting, engaging, enthusiastic and supportive people I know.

In his professional capacity I would highly recommend his ability to motivate the individual and to outline the steps necessary for success. I was invited to one of his coaching sessions and was encouraged to think about my role in the workplace and how I could use my skills and experience to develop better working relationships.

Actually I have to admit that Ric was the original inspiration for the Alice 2 Antarctica event. In 2008 Ric undertook a massive goal to run 8 marathons across Australian (6 states and 2 territories) in one calendar year - 8 in '08! In Ric's unassuming style he pronounced his plan and then proceeded step by step to do exactly that. Ric provided such a terrific example of setting a goal and then 'just doing it' that I was inspired to undertake my own dream of running a marathon in Antarctica but taking it a step further - to use the event to raise awareness and funds for cardiovascular disease research in Indigenous Australians.

Ric was actually the first person I shared my Alice 2 Antarctica plan with well over a year ago, he was stunned speechless but was and continues to be fantastically supportive of my efforts so it is a greater thrill for me that his company have offered to provide some financial support for this event.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Last long run till Alice Springs!

On Sunday I did my last really long run before the Alice Springs Marathon in three weeks, this is an exciting time since it means that my weekend runs get shorter and shorter to ensure that I am rested up and ready to go for the marathon. I decided to run the Sri Chinmoy Princes Park 30km, since it was a good chance to test out my race pace for a longer distance. My marathon training schedule was for a 32km run so I decided to do a 2km warm up run before the 30km race. The course was a tree lined, fast and flat 5km loop utilising the running trail around Princes and Royal Parks, so for the 30km run this meant doing 6 laps!! Luckily for me I had lots of friends running to keep me company including the Gunn Runners.

My plan for the run was to keep it at about 5min 30sec per km but because of the excitement of the start of the race and the people running all around me I ended up running at about 5min/km for the first couple of kilometres. But I soon settled down into a nice running pace and managed to keep the CoolRunners 5min/km bus in sight for most of the race (some of them are in this photo - you know who you are!).

I got through the first 3 laps pretty comfortably and then had my first GU. It was the first time that I had taken GU while I was still running - it worked okay and the water helped to wash it down. The GU did its job and gave me the necessary energy to keep on running and in fact I found in the last two laps I was actually able to speed up the pace and I felt strong and in control. On the last lap in particular I think I was inspired to run faster because of my competitive nature.
Firstly there was a woman running in front of me who was very likely 30 years older than me. We changed positions a couple of times but ultimately I decided that I wanted to stay in front and I just kept on going. Secondly on the last two kilometer loop I spied not far up ahead a running partner who I have an ongoing running duel, his favorite comment is "you are only as good as your last race!!!". This time I was determined to catch him and I thought my best chance was to sneak up on him and then overtake him. My plan worked I caught him running up the last incline and with less than one kilometer to go I sped home and finished the run in 2h 37 min (about 15 seconds ahead of my running partner). This was a fantastic finish for me resulting in an average running pace of 5 min 15 sec per kilometer. I had to post the picture on the right - you can see that I am flying - both feet in the air :).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lorne Independent Times

The Secretary of the Lions Club of Lorne was kind enough to send me a copy of the Lorne Independent which had an article about the Lions Club of Lorne End of Year Dinner that I attended. The article described the important donations the Lions Club of Lorne had made to the local community and to my event, as described below.

"Guest Speaker was Sharyn Fitzgerald a scientist and sportswoman. As a scientist, she is keenly interested in supporting, and raising funds for, research into cardiovascular disease in indigenous communities around Alice Springs. As a sportswoman she is into endurance events, wanting to become4 the first Australian woman to complete the two desert marathons - Alice Springs in August and Antarctica in December. to date only 50 people, 6 of who were women, from around the world have attempted this challenge. Sharyn gave a fascinating presentation on both fields of interest - the audience was spellbound, and the Club presented her with a cheque for $500 "

Thursday, July 9, 2009

State Member for Bass

Last week I was invited to visit with Ken Smith, the State Member for Bass, representing my home town, Wonthaggi. I was born in the local hospital, educated at the local primary school and the local secondary college and left to get a university education. My parents, brother and his family, aunt and uncle and various cousins continue to live in Wonthaggi.

I drove down from Melbourne and had a good trip, listening to the radio and driving with the windows down - blowing away the city smoke with the fresh country air. I always enjoy the final section of the drive, cresting the hills just before Kilcunda and seeing the coast line laid out in front of me, leading me home. I met Ken in his offices and we talked about my event Alice 2 Antarctica - why I was doing it, what would it be like to run a marathon in Antarctica, how did I train for it? Ken seemed very interested in the event and he was happy to support me being a former Wonthaggi girl with family and friends still living in the town. We talked some more and then took some photos it was at this point that Ken gave me a generous donation to contribute to my event costs and also to go towards fundraising to support research into Indigenous Cardiovascular disease.

He further suggested a few fundraising opportunities and talked about possible media involvement. With regard to media the local newspaper - the Sentinel Times was invited to our meeting and took notes. We talked about an article being published in the following weeks paper. So it was with great delight that on Tuesday I discovered a newspaper article had indeed been written, the big surprise was the HUGE photo on the FRONT page of the news paper!!! You can read the article in its entirety here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lorne Lions Club

On Thursday I was invited to the Lorne Lions Club Mid Year Dinner as the Guest Speaker. I was really happy to have this opportunity to share the story of my Alice 2 Antarctica event. The Mid-year dinner was held at the Lorne Golf Club, which I am told has picturesque views of the ocean and while I did have a window seat the night time darkness obscured the view!

There were 70 people at the dinner, including Lorne Lions Club members, Lorne Lioness Members, Lions Club members from surrounding districts and local community members. After the formalities and a lovely roast dinner I had the chance to talk about my event. My talk was well received and there were many questions - particularly in regard to undertaking a marathon challenge in the extreme cold of the Antarctic interior and being the first Australian woman to do so!

At the end of my presentation the Lorne Lions Club presented me with a generous donation and a beautiful bunch of flowers. We took some photos and an article about the event will be published in the 'Lorne Independent'. I am immensely grateful for the financial support that the Lorne Lions Club provided which will go in part towards the cost of my Antarctic marathon and part towards fundraising for research into Indigenous cardiovascular disease.

It was a lovely evening and I spoke to many interested people and I was particularly pleased to hear such warm and positive feedback at the end of the night. In fact I was so encouraged by the genuine enthusiasm of the Lorne Lions Club that I promised to return after completing the two desert marathons and talk about my adventures.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Life lessons from Dr Seuss

The plan for Saturday morning run was to meet up with some running buddies to do an hour run that finished at the start point. Then we would meet some more running buddies to do another 2 hour run - so a 30km run plan. We did the first hour pretty comfortably and it was really nice to get back to the start and have a little break. I ate a GU - lemon sublime flavour - not bad, drank some water did a couple of little stretches and then we started again for the last two hours!

It took a few minutes to get back into the rhythm of running after the stop but we eventually settled into a comfortable running pace. We broke up into smaller groups and I ended up running with my running buddy from last years Melbourne Marathon. He would be the first to say that we ran the first half of the Melbourne Marathon together - until the turn around point and then I left him in my dust! But this time we kept it together and it was great to have someone to run with. I talked about my presentation during the week - to the Lions Club of Lorne and mentioned how much positive feedback I got from the audience, how they were inspired by plans to run two desert marathons. My running buddy mentioned that when he used to give presentations he would finish the talk with a quote from Dr Seuss. It was something that I would never have considered - life lessons from Dr Seuss but this particular book called 'Oh the Places You'll Go' really simplifies the lessons of life - one that I am often guilty of not listening to - and that is - life is the journey - not the destination! More importantly in life's journey there will be ups and downs but we need to keep on going and keep soldiering on in life. You know I think Dr Seuss was one clever man - his stories apply to running and life!

Just as my friend got the end the Dr Seuss story he reached his turn around point (45min) and I then had the next 15 min to run by myself till I reached my turn around point and caught up with another running buddy. Unfortunately he was too quick for me so I spend the next 60 minutes running back thinking about Dr Seuss, 'Today is your day. You're off to great places! You're off and away!'

Route: Brighton Beach Baths out 30 minutes and then return, followed by Brighton Beach Baths to Rickets Point and back. Time: 3hour 4minute; Weather overcast 13C; Distance 32km

Friday, July 3, 2009

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage

I was interested to read about the release of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report, an 800 page document attempting to state the issues of Indigenous Disadvantage and identify areas for improvement. Perhaps what was most disenheartening to read about this report (the fourth since 2002) was that many of the issues with regard to Indigenous disadvantage have not improved and in fact some are worse.

Since the initial report was first published there have been improvements with regard to health, employment and income in Indigenous Australians, however, in parallel there have also been improvements in Non-Indigenous Australians. This ultimately results in a continued disadvantage in Indigenous Australians.

There remains a 10-12 year gap in life expectancy at birth between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Specifically when we look at deaths from potentially preventable causes, we see that Indigenous people are 5 times more likely to die from heart attack and 18 times more likely to die from diabetes than non-Indigenous people.

Findings such as these are key reasons why there needs to be research into understanding the various factors that contribute to these marked differences between Indigenous and non-indigenous communities. More importantly we need to identify methods to improve outcome in Indigenous community. What I do like in the report is the fact that they outline four major factors which contribute to effective programs, these are:

1) Cooperative approaches between Indigenous people and government
2) Community involvement in program design
3) Good governance
4) Ongoing government support – including human, financial and physical resources.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Run Melbourne Half Marathon

I made a last minute decision to do the Run Melbourne Half Marathon, when my alarm went off at 5.30am I did wonder why. I got to the start of the course with plenty of time and actually managed to get a car park close to the start/finish line. I dropped my bag off and bumped into a woman who I ran King Island with. She mentioned that she had just got back from running a marathon in Phuket, she was going to run the Half Marathon that morning and then next weekend she is heading to Gold Coast Marathon and people think I am crazy running two marathons in 4 months!

I think it showed me that its all about benchmarking. When I first started running I believed that I was only capable of running for about 20 minutes. Then when I moved to Mississippi and did my first every 5km fun run and placed second in my age class I realised that maybe I could run more than 20 minutes. I used to do 5km races almost every weekend in Mississippi, and then I started looking for a new challenge - I trained up really hard and I did my first every 10km run I couldn't believe I could run that far. I stayed at that level for a year or so still only limited by own beliefs. Then I moved to Sweden and was encouraged to run the GoteborgsVarvet a Half Marathon, it was weird because now the 10km run was my training run! It took me three years after that before I attempted my first Marathon in 2005.