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.