Saturday, July 27, 2013

Blasts from the past

So I thought I'd treat you to some old photos...

My best marathon, Tokyo 2011 

Unfortunately there's no actual action shot from Tokyo, or if there is I can't remember where I put it. 

I run exactly one marathon per year, which explains the enormous time lag in between these things. My first marathon was in December 2009; my second (which I don't even count as a marathon because it was an enormous mess) was in December 2010; my third was in February 2011. Between 2011 and 2012 I decided to enter the fun-and-pain-filled world of triathlons, so my last marathon was in December 2012. 

For Tokyo, my goals were
- finish
- finish without injury
- finish under 6 hours

From 0-4km: We were very early, so we stood around in our respective holding pens freezing our butts off. But the weather was absolutely perfect for running - 10 degrees C and sunny and warming up. 
At precisely 9.10am the horn went off; so did was mildly confusing for a few minutes. We started walking forward and it took me about 15 minutes to reach the start line. After 4km, my rain jacket came off and went around my waist.

In a long and honourable tradition of wearing completely the wrong thing for races, I wore: thin running gloves, a sports bra, a long-sleeved polypro shirt, a rain jacket, thermal tights because I did not own any full-length running tights and do not now, shorts, running socks, and sneakers. I bet you're REALLY sad there are no photos. 

From 4km-25km: i had planned to take little walk breaks every 5km, but just felt so good I kept right on running. If I had kept up this very, very even pace, I would have made it in under 5 hours. 
A lot of people run Tokyo in costume, and it's around here I was passed by Darth Vader ('may the force be with you'), Michael Jackson, a guy running with a webcam on his head, Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, Keroppi, a Pokemon or two, and oddly enough, the 5:30 pacers. This stretch was pleasant and uneventful, but beginning to slow down a bit from 21km onwards. My nose got sunburnt. 

From about 9km onwards i would think 'Trudy, Trudy, Trudy' to myself and imagined my favourite coach  at the back of the pack on her bike, bearing down on me and yelling nasty things - but this always made me laugh and kept me going. In real life Trudy is a fun and pleasant person COMPLETELY unlikely to yell nasty things at anyone, ever. Which made me laugh harder when I thought about it. Which means those race photos probably feature a ridiculous grin on my face. Bet you're REALLY, REALLY sad there are none. 

21km - at this point I was still on track to finish under 5 hours, which to me was kind of amazing. Tokyoites were lining the streets and cheering everyone on. There was ample water and food from organisers even though we were in the middle/ back of the pack, but even if there hadn't been, people were just handing out chocolate, candy, fried chicken (!), etc. 

30km-36km: leg cramps struck, despite several salt capsules and sports drinks. I started walking a bit ('run until you cramp, walk until you uncramp, rinse and repeat'). at some point I ran out of water and there were no more water points for another km or 2, so I broke my rule about accepting candy from strangers. The Sour Lemon bomb i got from a little old lady was only the best thing I've ever tasted, but other people were handing out things like miso soup, if that's more your...cup of tea. 

Things begin to go downhill from 27+km onward...or more literally, uphill and downhill and uphill... 

36-42km: I did the 'run until you cramp, walk until you uncramp, repeat' thing. While checking splits on my watch, I realised I would go under 5:18 (my previous PB was 6:18) if I could finish the last 6 km in an hour and 15 minutes. I miraculously uncramped 2km from the finish line, and ran for my life ('I want my PB, I want my PB dammit'). got to the finish line, checked my time, broke previous PB by more than an hour (don't think I'll ever do THAT again), cried tears of joy. 

After the marathon I remember waddling back to my hostel and falling asleep for four hours, then going out for dinner (okonomiyaki!) with a couple of friends. I very distinctly remember the restaurant had no elevator. 

My first marathon, December 2009

"What Not To Wear For A Marathon": nylon shorts that became soggy and immediately chafed. No cap on a very hot day. My nose got sunburnt. (See a trend?) Yes, that's the same Nathan handheld bottle strap I used till last year, when I mysteriously lost it after last year's Standard Chartered marathon. 

I'm flying here, but (as usual) cramped and walked along the way. I don't know if that means I could've pushed harder! 

My first half-marathon, December 2008

I look extraordinarily serene, probably because I am running about two km per hour, but still having a much better time of it than the guy behind me. 

What Not To Wear: Do not, under any circumstances, steal your little sister's Nike shorts while she is away at university and wear them for the first time during your very first half-marathon. (If I recall correctly this was due to spectacularly poor laundry planning, and all my non-ratty shorts were in the wash. This was when I was still using the same shorts I'd used in high school.) Because while you are theoretically the same size, you two are also completely different shapes and your thighs will not be happy. 

This was before I discovered the existence of Bodyglide. 

Also before I ever kept a training journal, so I'm afraid I have no idea what to tell those of you who are training for a half-marathon how I did it. I finished in 2:43:31. It's funnier now that I'm trying to bust 2:10. 


This morning's 'long' run was terrible and literally a wash. I don't know what I ate last night that did me in, but I had a stomachache when I woke up, felt like throwing up for the first 10K of the run, and when I finally stopped feeling nauseous the skies opened up on me. For the last ten minutes before the downpour it was very breezy though, which was terrific. 

On the bright side, it's only just occurred to me why I like margarita Clif Shot Bloks -- they taste nothing like margaritas and everything like sour plum candy. I bet they're more of a hit in Asia than anywhere else. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Marathon training: the good, the bad, and the tragic

There are now just four weeks to the Perth City to Surf marathon. HOLLY ARE YOU EXCITED YET?

The good: This is probably my most consistent marathon training cycle to date. Except for a couple of weeks in the middle when I was sick/ injured, most weeks have been in the 60km range and have involved running 6 days a week. Past marathon training cycles have NOT been consistent, 60km and five days a week was somewhat optimistic.

Here's a typical training week from last year, a month before the marathon.
Sunday - 6km easy run
Tuesday - Track: pyramid 200/400/600/800/800/600/400/200 = 4km
Thursday - 4km
Saturday - 25km.
Total: 39km.

And this is my week so far:
Sunday - 10km
Monday - 7km
Tuesday - a couple of strength circuits; track: 4(400 and rest), 1200, 3(300 and active recovery), 1200, cooldown = 5km
Wednesday - 8.4km tempo run (A PROPER tempo - 10.4 to 10.8km/h)
Thursday - AM 5km, PM 10km
Total so far:  45.5km.
That doesn't include tomorrow's workout and I haven't even got to Saturday's long run yet.

I'm more comfortable with a double-digits run midweek now. And doubles. And strength training. And running six days a week (I had a little trouble wrapping my head around that one at first).

Except this morning. I set foot on my usual canal path and the sky poured a bucket of water on me. So I did just 5km of a planned 14.5. It actually crossed my mind that I should've worn my goggles...

this is what comes up when you do an image search for "running in goggles"-i have no idea.
(UPDATE: had a very nice run around Bishan Park this evening - ran from work and back.)

The bad: I think 60km is still too low mileage-wise to make a proper dent in a marathon, but it's what my work schedule can deal with. Just in case you think I have commitment problems - my 5.30am phone alarm says PERTH CITY TO SURF. SUB-5. YOU HAVE TO EARN IT. That usually gets me out of bed... (I mean, you try being a slow-as-molasses runner who works as a daily news journalist and trains for a marathon at the same time, and then let's talk...)

The slightly worse: I added all this up and all of my training takes me roughly ten hours a week. I have no idea where the other 158 hours go.

The it-would-be-funny-if-it-wasn't-so-sad: I think I've gotten SLOWER as a result of longer slower runs. (Ya think?) At Tuesday track this week, I ran the 1200s with a friend who claimed that when he started at track earlier this year he was trying to keep up with me. He might be right, but he is now MUCH faster than I am on sprints. Ouch. And I've been doing my speedwork and strides. That's why I'm genetically body goes 'I see your measly hour of speedwork and raise you some turtle pace'.

I'm quite happy to accept that I will never be FAST fast even if I work twice as hard. And I'm not really going to beat myself up about it. Not while I still enjoy running and if it gets me to the finish line of a marathon in healthy-but-genetically-challenged-molasses-goal-time.

Here is possibly the world's best running tank

It's the Under Armour Women's Victory Tank, which wicks like a dream, is hip-length on my hilariously long torso, fits skintight so it doesn't flop around uncomfortably when soggy, and you should probably size down from whatever you usually wear. You're welcome. (I have two and they're XS. Sizing - it basically means nothing these days so just wear whatever fits.)

My friend A. told me about these and she swears by them. Apparently an added bonus is they stretch and still fit if you're pregnant, or so she says. (She is due at the start of August.) Haven't really tried that myself.

I would really, really like to get more, but I don't think I can justify that right now. Uh, so my birthday's in November. Husband? Are you reading this?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Back in the land of the living

Iiiiiii'm back! 

This morning I had my first run in nearly a week, after being out of commission due to
- your everyday garden-variety generic cough/ sore throat/ cold that would not go away
- a wonky knee
- a janky hip

And. It. Was. Fabulous.
I didn't take my phone with me and still, after a decade of running, own no Garmin. But it was about 15km at what should be roughly marathon pace; I quit while the going was good. But it's too soon to celebrate. Let's get another consistent week or two of runs in and then talk.

I do a lot of runs, or sections of runs, on a canal path near my house. If I cross the road to run along the canal further down, and come all the way back to where I started, it's about 10km. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. I felt like singing and skipping down the path but didn't want to inflict that on anyone else. And I was - and this is very important when your run is at 7am in Singapore - in the shade much of the way.

After the 10km canal section I turned out and ran to the Botanic Gardens - another 5km or so. After which I came home, showered, did some work, and went to the Botanic Gardens AGAIN - this time for lunch at Food For Thought  with Mr GCA and a friend. I love FFT - it's down-to-earth and decidedly unpretentious and just has really good food. They must be doing quite well because they just opened a new outlet at the National Museum - so now there are three.

We had:
- mozzarella-stuffed meatballs with linguine and roasted tomato sauce (someone suggested an alternative. 'Does it involve cheese?' 'No.' 'Then you know which one to pick.')
- two orders of fluffy pancakes (mixed berries and dark chocolate raspberry, with fresh cream and gula melaka syrup)
- bacon
- garlic mushrooms

Marathon training

Today is all about lists, and I might as well share my weekly training for the Perth City to Surf Marathon (in five weeks!) as a list.

- One to two strength and core workouts a week
- Two to three times: 6-10km
- One Tuesday night speedwork session (about 6 km)
- One to two times: 10-15km
- Once a week: 16-25km
- Total mileage (ideally): about 70km
- Total mileage (realistically because let's face it, I don't have the most elastic schedule, or rather it's stretchy but only elongates): 50-60km
- About a cumulative half hour of stretching, tennisballing, and icewaterbottlerolling (WHAT. Those ARE verbs) each week
- If I find myself feeling under the weather from lack of sleep + stress + running, I have a multivitamin and more fruit and veg
- If I find myself tweaky, or injured in any way, I head straight to the pool and swim, about 1-2km at a go (hey, cross-training)
- This regime takes me way too long each week

Surviving the long run 

Now, even though what I did today wasn't, strictly speaking, a long run, I did think about ways to survive a long run. My long runs are up to about 25km, which sounds short for marathon training, but the whole weekend usually involves 35 to 40 km (it's all about tiring your legs out - and I am a wimp. A tired wimp).

Sometimes I have a really good long run or the beginnings of one - like this morning, when I could probably have run another hour and been quite happy about it. But more often than not, I barely want to get out of bed; when I do I barely want to get ready; when I do that and start running I'm tired when I start, or bored in the middle, or tired and slowing down near the end.

So here are my favourite strategies for surviving the long run:

- Call a friend. Someone to run with you for a section or two. Better if they live near you and make you laugh.
- Mantras and head games. Train hard, race easy, right? Or, when the going gets tough, 'you have to earn it'.
- I like the canal path, as routine and boring as it may be, because I don't have to stop and cross too many streets. If I stop I have a hard time getting going again. So my long run has sometimes been a couple of laps on the double canal - 2 x 10km. Treadmills are also good for this. If you stop you fall off.
- Distract your body. When I did that long treadmill run I had a Shot Blok every few km in the last hour and a half, simply to keep my mouth sufficiently distracted.
- Play head games: what is the most ridiculous thing you can see on this run? I have seen the same older gentleman on a unicycle at least thrice. I also once saw a man out walking his African Grey parrot (no, he did not have an eye patch and a peg leg). And the other evening I saw a car drive past with a bunch of balloons sticking out the back window and flapping merrily in the breeze. I must live in an odd neighbourhood (clearly I fit right in).

What are your mantras for getting through a tough run or race?
What, indeed, is the most ridiculous thing you have ever seen on a run? 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The peasants are revolting

After my last crabby post, it strikes me that what actually annoys me slightly about yoga, and Zumba, and (also! sorry I'm not sorry) pilates*, is that the poses or the steps or the equipment or the entire franchise gets trademarked and named. Because of course it wouldn't be possible to make any money off 'dancing', or 'stretching and strengthening' or 'cycling on a stationary bike', or off training instructors to do non trademarked versions of the above.

My beloved RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) Ballet is of course guilty of the same thing, as is its main 'competitor', the Vaganova school. Except it's a style of performance art, much like the difference between Impressionist painters and Surrealist ones. The difference has a purpose...

Anyway, away from all that. that's what I like about running. Running's running. It can be as no-nonsense as YOU want it to be. Shorts, shirt, shoes, out the door. Running's a broad church. There's no trademarking running. (Except sometimes I worry that one day, someone is going to come up with a trademarked, franchised 'running class' that takes place in a studio full of treadmills. I'll take Prancercise.)

*while in a contemporary dance group in college I took a lot of pilates matwork classes and was also annoyed by the New Age jargon, except there's less of it in pilates. Yoga and pilates would probably help about equally with stretching and stability, so I endure. Also, my mild annoyance at the trademarking of Zumba fitness classes doesn't mean I can't find them fun...


In other news, my body is still revolting.

So the last time I ran...was on Sunday. This week and a half has been quite a change from six days a week.
Yesterday I was about to go for a very short run, but my knee hurt in a place that it has essentially never hurt before: the inside front of my left knee (that's the medial bit, right at the bend, worryingly near the medial meniscus for all you anatomy folks). So instead of running, I was so good. SO WELL-BEHAVED. I did 41.5 minutes on the bike trainer*. This morning, my right hip seizes up and sends spasms of pain shooting up and down my leg when I walk. My glutes and piriformis are punishing me for something I either did or didn't, except I have no idea what it is.

*41.5 minutes is the exact length of one CSI:NY episode, without ads.

Worse still, this morning I woke up feeling EVEN WORSE than I had the previous few days. The cough still hasn't gone away. Nor has the interesting neon green phlegm (sorry TMI). There's only one remedy for this: CALL MY MUM. Antibiotics, I can haz.

Things had better start looking up real quick: Perth is 6 weeks away now...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The accidental cutback week

Hi kids,

My immune system has taken an unexpected and VERY unauthorised vacation so I'm actually taking a rest this week. By which I mean 'not running', not 'calling in sick'. (Deadlines.) Honestly, I'm not really super sick - I just feel wheezy and fatigued and addled enough not to run. If I wasn't so obnoxiously healthy from regular fresh air and running, I think I'd be a lot more incapacitated than I am right now.

On Tuesday I was sore all over but couldn't tell if that was from my once-a-week strength routine or actually falling sick. So of course I went to track. On Wednesday night I did try to swim and made it about half a mile -- chlorine kills germs, right? And it's just a teeny tiny sore throat? That showed me on Thursday. Serves me right.

Anyway I have to think up ways to entertain myself and you while I languish on the sofa, so here goes. My life is average.

Things I do when I'm not running:

- Read
I'm currently very much liking Cheryl Strayed's 'Wild' (too long, didn't read? woman loses her mother, family falls apart, marriage falls apart, decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Bonus: Strayed is not her original birth name, in case you were wondering.) Tom Rachman's 'The Imperfectionists' about a dysfunctional newsroom in Rome made me twitch, it hit so close to home.  Also looking forward to reading Chimamanda Adichie's 'The Thing Around Your Neck' (short stories).
The other day at track a teammate said, you must be tired of reading because you have to read and write so much for work. What? No - I chose this job because I like it. Never trust a journalist who doesn't read. It's not a vacation until I'm on the plane with my Economist and my Cosmo at the same time.

- Invent new slushy flavours in my pocket-sized miniature blender. Seriously. Thing has about a two-cup capacity. It's cute. Watermelon and blueberry, anyone? How about some dragonfruit, fragrant pear, and honey? Were you wondering how rambutans would fare when frozen? Strangely Mr GCA tends to decline my more interesting experiments. I have no idea why...

- Listen to music. I've already written about my undying love for fun. One of the highlights of my life was watching Nine Inch Nails live on Trent Reznor's "final" tour. He lied though and Came Back Haunted:

And then made up for it by giving us the definitive list of NIN singles.
Another one was watching Metric live. It cost me $80 (but what to do, I've liked them since 2003). Singapore is one of the most terrifyingly expensive places in the world to be a live music fan. Something to do with schlepping all of your gear and your roadies around Asia, whaddya know.
Other things I will pay good ca$h moneys to watch live include: Matthew Dear, MGMT whom I've also loved since they were a little baby band, Daft Punk with or without any of their collaborators, and Of Montreal.
Of COURSE none of these is any good as a running playlist (Matthew Dear and Daft Punk work but I also need me some Mika, Little Boots, and, quite unabashedly, the unholy trinity of Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga.)

- Work, kind of a frack-ton.
Or at least, think about work a lot even when I'm not doing it. I cover environment and science, so you'll also find me on Twitter talking to total strangers on the Internet about shale gas exploration in China, palm oil in Indonesia, and biodiversity, land use conflicts and transport planning in Singapore. I like what I do (except why is there so MUCH of it?).

Things I don't, at all, ever:

- Accept promo freebies for reviews
So in J-school they teach you a little thing called journalism ethics. Most inconveniently, this leaks over into my personal life, up to and including this blog - I'm pre-emptively stating site policy here before I ever (ha ha) develop a large enough readership to be worth sending free stuff. I promise you!! that I have paid/ will pay for everything I review on this blog. Sure, I've will gladly review races, running stores, shoes, tank tops, shorts...but you can be certain that's just my own opinion. I won't turn down a good sale, but if your company sends me free socks, I appreciate the notion very much but will send them right back.

- Snack. True, I eat all the time. When I'm hungry. What is this oddly American (? I may be wrong, correct me) obsession with having snacks on hand all the time in case of a sudden hunger attack? Especially on planes? (Sorry Holly. Er...I may or may not have been carrying the same squashed Soyjoy in my purse for three weeks.) Related to that, I tend not to take pictures of my food and certainly not Instagram them. Everyone and their sister has seen oatmeal before regardless of whether it's made with Greek yoghurt and chia seeds or not. I am a product of a time B.D.C (Before Digital Cameras) and still do not think most of my food is spectacular enough to warrant wasting film (or phone battery) on. Unless it's a GC experiment. Then I have to document it as evidence in case someone gets food poisoning.

- Do yoga (I have tried. It never took. Your mileage may vary, I have nothing against people who do like yoga.) I do stretch and am very stretchy and enjoy stretching. It's the people saying things like 'today we are going to do this with Intention' to me while I try to have a good stretch, that I don't much like.

- take ice baths (bathtub? what bathtub), watch TV (except Community and Archer, but I have the attention span of a's just not a huge priority in my life)...

...or sleep enough, apparently. (She said, before passing out.)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Channelling Carrie Bradshaw

I'm not really a tutu girl but some time ago I made a bunch of very special tutus for a bunch of very special women.

My friend S has been a running/ triathlon nut for longer than I'VE been serious about running. She has a couple of Olympic distance triathlons under her belt and is much braver on the bike (hello clip pedals) than I will ever be (I am glad to not crash while u-turning).

And of course when she got engaged, she decided - what better than to have a chicken run hen party race at the Pocari Sweat run with a group of close girlfriends? Running can be a very solitary activity but it can also be a great means of fellowship and connecting with others.

Of course, we had to have costumes. I went to Spotlight and got many, many metres of purple tulle and elastic, and a couple of us spent a happy Saturday knotting away.

Here is a sample.

The whole gaggle of us met up the morning of the race. Most were doing the 10K (and it was S's sister's first 10K!) while a few did the 5.

We even got this for S:

There's a lady running while carrying a henbag, said the announcer as we crossed the start line. Ha ha. "SHE'S GETTING MARRIED," we yelled to anyone who asked.

Sadly there wasn't enough material left over to make her a veil, which was probably for the best because that sh*t is itchy.

The chickenbag went on a relay amongst us - carrying a stuffed rubber chickenbag for a kilometre on a sticky day is no joke.

Of course Holly was there cheering her head off.

I had really, really wanted to surprise S with a whole series of signs dotted along the route but all our other halves were busy sleeping in, so no go:
It would have been pecktacular. (I'm done now. Don't kill me.)

Chickens on the run
After the turnaround we met up with the 5K runners and sang the Wedding March (la la LA LA, la la LA LA) all the way to the finish, linking arms for the last 100m.

Chicken brigade

That was June 16. Yesterday, though, was the real finish line: S got married. (I couldn't be there because my sister was busy getting married on the same day...alas.)  Congratulations S & E!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

#fastfriday: first running steps

Last week, running-gear company @Oiselle asked its usual #fastfriday question on Twitter. This one was: When were your first running steps?

I thought about answering, but the 160 characters that Twitter gives you just wasn't really enough for the whole story.

Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy defines flying as 'learning to throw yourself at the ground and miss'. When you're really tiny, running is throwing yourself at the ground and catching yourself on your feet. You could say we all start running before we learn to walk - lurching from the arms of one parent into the outstretched arms of another.

So, my dad's always been a runner. On Sunday mornings, back when we lived in Marine Parade, he would lace up and go to East Coast Park nearby for a run. When I was about five, I started clambering out of bed just as early and asking to tag along, while my mother looked after my little sister. I probably ruined many a run, but how could he say no?

When I was seven the 1992 Barcelona Olympics took place. My cousins and I watched Linford Christie and Gail Devers and had sprint races all around the neighbourhood until we nearly threw up. My grandmother would watch us, laughing, recalling how she too, at twelve or thirteen, would run at school sports days, long skinny legs flashing, pigtails flying. There aren't any pictures of us, alas. We were a motion blur.

When I was ten we moved to an area that had a 400-m loop and a roughly 600-m loop, undulating up and down over hills, and my mother started doing laps on these because she could stop at home any time.
The same year, I had my first school fitness test which included a 1.6-km (1-mile) run. I went out fast on the high school track next door to our primary school, tripping over someone else's feet or perhaps just my own, taking a tumble, and finishing the run near the front of the pack with blood running all down my leg from a scraped knee. So yes, I've been a klutz my entire life.

In Secondary One, the tryouts for table tennis and cross-country/ track just happened to be on the same day at the same time slot. My family played ping pong, but I'd never run competitively, so I went for the table tennis tryout - better the devil you know, right? It was a move I'd regret for years afterwards. I spent four years on the table tennis team warming the bench. I still hate playing table tennis. I would probably have spent four years on the cross-country team warming the bench (or maybe not because they needed every single point they could get including participation points), but at least I'd have had fun.

In secondary school, the fitness tests went up to 2.4km: twelve minutes around and around the school field.   I'd go for the occasional run with my mum, or on my own. Not often, because I was still doing plenty of ballet and dance, but perhaps once or twice a week.

In junior college (that's high school to the rest of you) I joined the outdoors club. Its members were retired athletes who wanted to enjoy playing outside rather than give their lives to the pool or gymnastics hall (or in my case spend Saturday mornings scurrying around picking up table tennis balls); Boy Scouts and NPCC cadets tired of regimentation; and students looking for adventure. We ran for training. You can't climb mountains without some sort of basic fitness. Some of my fellow club members have gone on to do great things (my classmate is the super smart one working towards the PhD).

Back then there wasn't the huge selection of running events there is today. In 2002 my mum and I signed up for a 10km organised by the Singapore Armed Forces on the sidelines of its marquee Army Half Marathon, and I lost her after a few km and waited on the steps of the national stadium for her at the end. (On my second 10km Safra run, years later, I boggled at the superhumanly-fit men and women who'd just run...a half marathon!)

I was lucky enough to attend university in small-town New Hampshire, a place with stunning trails and perfect running weather for about half the year. But it wasn't till I came home to work that I began entering local road races for fun and t-shirts. First it was a 5K. Then a 10K or two. I had fun and put in OK times just jogging around the neighbourhood thrice a week and began to wonder: what would happen if I actually worked at this?

Two years ago I set foot on a track for the first time since those school fitness tests...and you know the rest.  ---

I might as well put it out here then. I'm working towards a sub-5h marathon in Perth in August. Whenever I finally make it there will be whooping and hollering. Either way, there will be crying.

There'll be plenty of crying this week too. First my little sister gets married to her best friend, who is just an all-round excellent fellow, on Saturday (tears of joy), and then on Sunday I have 25-30km to run (plain old tears).

Sorry for the complete lack of photos. To make up for it I give you this:

U of Oregon runner Alexi Pappas cheering for her teammate Jordan Hasay: YOU ARE A MERMAID. I don't know how the runners didn't just double over and fall around laughing. If I were Jordan I might have run a couple extra laps to see what she came up with next. At my next race, please tell me I'm a unicorn.

It turns out Ms Pappas was a Dartmouth undergrad. I am so proud of my school.

What's the best cheer or sign you've ever heard or seen at a race?