GOING TO CHINA!
Wow, it is certainly road racing season. So many of my mates are racing each and every weekend now. It is very exciting to follow them around the world as I do get a huge kick out of seeing my training partners and friends race well. I know how much each and every one of us ‘runners’ put into what we do. The racing is reward at the end for all the hard work!
I decided to go to Nanning, China for the World Half Marathon Championships (Oct 16th) late last week. As I missed a lot of training in August, I was unsure how I’d come back since returning to Boulder 3 weeks ago. I have just loved getting back into the hard work and thoroughly enjoying my running and the workouts.
To test my fitness ahead of China, I decided to do the 8km CU Rocky Mountain Shootout last weekend here in Boulder. Coach Wetmore was very accommodating in welcoming me into his awesome event, and I was fortunate to be allowed to run in the mens race. The first time they’ve ever let a woman run against the men! It was totally an awesome experience. There were hundreds of men in this race and the start was just as hectic as World Cross! I loved it and felt I ran very strongly – my time was very good too…..And despite having not raced for a few months, I always feel right at home running XC. I just feel like I glide over the rocky, rough terrain and can run freely, be tough and finish strong regardless of what else is going on in my life etc and where my fitness is at. I just feel I can switch off all distractions and focus solely on the race and my goals within it. I was on a high after that run for the next day or so. To me, running in XC races is like an addiction. I really miss it and do crave racing these events. Yeah, afterwards, they give me such a rush. The crowd out there was amazing and it was so loud in the race. Both the men and women's races were fantastic and so competitive! Some real talent out here in the US.
I can’t wait to go to Nanning now – feeling good and looking forward to seeing the rest of the Aussie team! I visited a local primary school in Westminister yesterday - it was their annual Pumpkin 1 Mile Run. I ran the races with the children then talked to them about my life as an elite athete, Australia, the importance of leading a healthy, fit lifestyle and following your goals. The children were amazing! I love doing this voluntary work around the local community.
I have a lot of mates running over in Delhi at the Commonwealth Games. I am just a little annoyed to hear of a certain men’s distance race where a white guy (from another country) crosses the line, looks up to his mates and yells out….”first non-African”……I didn’t know they gave medals out for this. He was obviously running just to beat the ‘white guys’ and had accepted defeat…..even before the race had begun, that he could not beat the Africans. I hate this attitude. You must get in amongst it and fight to beat everyone you race against. Once you give in to certain athletes, whether they are African or not….you are finished. You will never achieve greatness - as in your mind, you have already been defeated before the race is even underway.
Will keep in touch from China!
23rd September 2010
After an unexpected but unavoidable 5 week trip back to Australia, I am now back in the mountains in Boulder, CO......training hard and looking foward to the future. I was unable to do any workouts whilst in Australia.....that has really fired me up but at the same time, makes me appreciate where I'm at now, training hard, with no obstacles in the way.
I did a hard 90min run today and during that time, I thought of all my best performances and what it really does take for running brilliance to come about. I believe you need to be fired up, show controlled aggression in races and be apt and willing to take risks. For it is this 'risk' taking where you'll truely achieve what you're capable of. When I won the World Cross Country in 2004, I surged with 1500m to go and got a gap of say 10m on the pack of Africans. At that point, yes I took a risk (it is daunting having a pack of Africans trying to chase you down) but I wasn't thinking, "I hope they don't catch me".....I was only thinking about the consequence of winning the race...I was thinking "I've gotta increase this gap now despite that I am hurting like hell".....I won that race (by 27sec). The last non-African to do so. When I went to Chicago marathon in 2006, I went out for the first 1/2 in 70.10. When I saw that time on the clock, I didn't think "wow, maybe that is a bit too fast (as my marathon PR at the time was 2.26)"...I was thinking "wow, I feel good and maybe I could run quick here". I ran 2.22. I guess the point of this is - don't go your whole career just 'being comfortable and conservative' in your training and racing. You need to push the limits and see what you can achieve. Sure sometimes it might not work out, but to run great, you have to be prepared to stand on the line, ready and willing to take that risk.
I think I have been taking risks all my life so maybe it is built into my personality. When I was 5, I jumped off the verandah of a 2 storey house to try catch a balloon that was flying away...My favourite holiday as a kid was riding motorbikes, going shooting pigs/ birds with my Uncles on their apple farms. My brothers called me "miss hack" in backyard hockey...due to my aggressive nature to win games at all costs thus maybe doing some illegal tackles against them at times....So sure, it has to be bred into us. And I guess I am at the stage in my career where I am ready to get the 2nd half underway.
My training since I have been back in Boulder has been going really well - I am getting fitter and fitter each week. I am running harder on the off days and getting in 3 workouts per week plus a 2hr run on Sunday. I will decide next week whether or not I'll go to China for the World Road Running Championships then after that I will work towards some races in Europe in November. I can't wait!
I am also working with some high school XC kids locally around Boulder. It is great fun and I do enjoy hearing about these kids' workouts, talking to them about competing around the world, telling them stories about my career and also talking to them about what it takes to make the step from a good junior, to a top senior. It is a tough transition, needing a lot of support from families and most of all, coaches and training groups. The US has a great 'Team' support network for these kids.
Ok, to finish - keep working hard towards your goals. There are a number of major city marathons coming up...I would kill to be racing Chicago, Berlin or New York. Maybe next year. If you are in any of these type races, remember not to be fearful of taking a risk and going for it. When you start to hurt, think only about the great things that could come about, now that you've had the guts to commit. If it were easy to be a champion, we'd all be champions. Keep that in mind too.
BUILDING UP FOR YOUR GREAT EVENT
9 Sep 2010
Hope you’ve all had a fantastic summer and are continuing your fitness/racing goals on the road toward some awesome events coming up – especially in the Great Run series over these next few months!
Wow, the Bupa Great North Run is just around the corner again and this year, it is a mighty special event, being the 30th running of the race. Just to be fortunate enough to be running in the event in any year is an absolute buzz, however this year, it’ll be even more special. Hundreds of thousands of people across the UK and the world have truly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in this event and experience its unique atmosphere, hearing the enthusiastic crowds and bands en route on their way to achieving their lifelong dreams as they cross the finish line. All finishers are winners in my books! You should have a look at our Bupa 30th Great North Run Facebook page when you have time in the next few weeks.
I ran my first ever Great North Run in 2004. I’d always heard so much about the GNR – in particular, about how good it was as an event, how competitive it was for an elite athlete to participate in, how many people ran etc. I was so excited when I found out that my coach wanted me to run and had entered me to race alongside Olympic 10km medalist Derartu Tulu from Ethiopia (the Athens Olympics had only just taken place a month or so before), World 10km Champion Berhane Adere from Ethiopia, World Half Marathon champ Susan Chepkemei, Ireland’s best ever athlete and distance running great, Sonia O’Sullivan, amongst others. I was thrilled to be a part of this field … but at the same time, had crazy butterflies in my stomach thinking about it, as it was going to be only my second ever half marathon! So, like many of you out there, I was really nervous – but filled with anticipation and excitement about the event at the same time! Even elite athletes feel the same as everyone else when we line up on that start line!
I woke up early that morning as I normally do for races – about 6am. I went on a small little ‘shake out’ jog/walk then had some porridge with banana and honey, a cup of coffee, water and some toast. I took the bus out to the start with all the other elite athletes staying at the hotel. I didn’t run too long for my warm-up, around 5-10min of easy jogging followed by a couple of faster 100m ‘stride throughs’, drank some water, did some stretching then off to the bathroom that last time before we got called to the starting line. I was very nervous – but this is always a good thing. You can use nervous energy to your advantage for a race, as long as it is controlled. I always like to feel that little bit eager and excited before races as that is an indication to me that the race really is special to me and that I will be out there running hard, thus giving it my absolute best shot. I never think about winning or what will happen in the latter part of the race. I feel that if you are fit and have done the training/mental preparation, you can then take things one step at a time during the race (the ‘process’) and the end result will take care of itself. It is out of your control really how others around you run – all you can control is doing your best on the day and knowing when you cross that line, that you will feel pumped from giving it your all! You must get your pacing right early on (many people go out way too fast – get some expert advice on this and use your training as a basis to calculate it), then be prepared to run through some pain at the end to get your best result!
As I had been running very fast on the track in 2004 (the year I won the GNR and was the current World Cross Country champion over 8km), the pace of the first thrre-quarters of the GNR felt quite slow. I remember just cruising along in the pack, really not thinking that I belonged at the front (due to the awesome field I was running against – I had the uttermost respect for my fellow competitors). I just focused on ticking away the miles, trying to run as smoothly and economically as possible and saving my energy to go fast at the end. I remember thinking with two miles to go: “Wow, I feel really good, maybe I should go to the front here and push the pace.” I loved going past the bands and the thousands of shouting people along the course. They were getting louder and louder as we approached the final downhill left turn towards the last mile (which is usually always into the wind – this day was no different). So it was then, with 1.5 miles to go that I surged, managing to drop everyone by 1 mile to go. I couldn’t believe that I was in front … all by myself! Then I got so nervous. I was running as hard as I could into the wind and didn’t dare look back in case someone was catching. All I could focus on was getting to that finish line. My body was screaming out in pain but it was a good pain, it was a pain that was telling me that I was running well. When I crossed the line in 1st place, I threw my arms up into the air and was so excited. Wow, only the greats in distance running have ever won the GNR. And I did it! I couldn’t have been happier. That win still goes down as my second best ever victory in my career (behind winning my world title in cross-country).
After the race I congratulated all the other athletes, did a small warm down then did some media interviews, drug test and enjoyed having lunch in the hospitality tent. I love talking to people about their running experiences. I had an awesome time that day, especially talking to thousands of people after made it that much more special. Everyone has a unique and inspiring story to share.
After that win, I went on to win the Great South Run then a series of European cross country races on the circuit. It really did kick start my career on to many great things. And it was my first GNR! Anyone can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. Don’t be afraid; instead embrace such a wonderful opportunity of taking part in fantastic events such as this.
Friday, 27th August 2010
I have been working hard on my website lately and have made a few changes. I hope you like it! I have also started a twitter account and tweet regularly! I am based in Boulder, Colorado (USA) now as I feel I want to live permanently at altitude in the lead up to the London Olympics - my goal there being to compete in the marathon.
Boulder is a fantastic part of the world - an awesome town, plenty of hilly, rocky trails to run on in the mountains as well as fantastic people to train with and a great community of friends. We have some top cafes to relax in after the mornings of hard training and trips to the gym. My favourite is at the moment is 'The Cup' but there are many, many around. You can't really go wrong!
Right now, I am in a hard training block ahead of some road races in October. I have the World Road Running championships coming up in China on 16th Oct so working towards that. We have a great Australian team. Will be an awesome trip with good results expected from all!
Better get out for a jog! Until next time, B
29 Jul 2010
I was in London and Newcastle last week (down from my altitude training base in Boulder, Colorado, USA) and really enjoyed some fantastic weather! I hope you’re making the most of it and getting stuck into some fun events to participate in with your friends! I know the Bupa Great Yorkshire Run is coming up soon (5 September) then the 30th anniversary of the Great North Run (19 September). I’ve been fortunate enough to win both those races – such wonderful events for everyone involved!
I am going to focus on social networking in my blog this month. There is so much enjoyment we can get out of mixing activity with music media (i.e. use of iPods when exercising), updating our experiences through Twitter or Facebook, following others’ experiences in events through their social networking sites (most elite athletes and famous people have Twitter sites these days and you can follow who ever you want using this medium) and Facebook pages. I have my own Twitter site as well as a Facebook page and website. I keep all these updated as to what I’m up to, where I’m training around the world and how I’m going. I never really used to be interested in all this social networking but feel now, as we get busier and busier in our own daily lives, that it is an easy way for us to stay in contact with family and friends regularly and follow what they’re up to! I know my family back in Australia look at my Facebook and Twitter pages daily to see where I am in the world and what I’m doing!
As elite athletes, we train very hard day-in, day-out. We don’t run flat out every run though and there are days when in the afternoon, we just run very easy alone at our own pace. It is on these runs that I really like to relax, enjoy the run and tune out while listening to some sounds on my iPod – you can see my list of my favorites below. I really like listening to my music. Even when I’m in the gym or cross training (if injured), I just find that my spirits are really lifted if I can listen to some songs to pep me up! I love a combination of artists and have a lot of songs on my iPod. I especially like Australian bands as they remind me of home. So I always try to get some good Aussie music in there! Music is so individual though, so you can really put on an iPod exactly what YOU like and what you respond to. It is fantastic to be able to do this ... and keep fit at the same time!
I was a spectator at the Boulder Boulder 10km race this year over in Colorado. There were over 54,000 entrants in this event. The ‘Citizens’ race was run in waves starting every two minutes. It is a fantastic event and this year was the first time people could run with their iPod and update their Twitter sites ‘on-the-run’, thus brining the ‘race experience’ from the participant to the people who are at home or on the sidelines cheering them on. It was very successful and the people who tried this really enjoyed this new ‘race’ experience. Obviously it isn’t for everyone – certainly the elite athletes didn’t do this but we are all different and respond to different things to enjoy our lives and experiences. Maybe this is for you!
MUSIC MAN: I took this picture (above left) of a guy listening to music on his mp3 while taking part in the Boulder Boulder10k while the other shot is of the event expo when I was helping out in the Saucony store.
Here is a list of my favorite songs to play ‘on the run’! I hope you like them. All the best for some good improvements in fitness and health this month after much consistent exercise with our friends and music tunes!
I like a mix of everything!
Kings of Leon – Use Somebody
MC Hammer – Can’t Touch This
Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream
Billy Ocean – Love Really Hurts without You
The Presets – Talk like That
Snow Patrol – Take back the City
Coldplay – Viva la Vida
50 Cent – P.I.M.P
Kasabian – Shoot the Runner
Urthboy – We Get Around
Scissor Sisters – I Don’t Feel Like Dancing
Pink – So What
Ben Kweller – Sundress
Silverchair – Straight Lines
29 Jun 2010
I hope you’re enjoying the fantastic summer weather and getting fitter and fitter as we approach so many awesome Bupa Great Run events to take part in. It is very important to stay well hydrated, especially when training in summer. Often we don’t drink until we feel thirsty. And once you feel thirsty, this is a sign you’re already dehydrated, so always carry a water bottle with you to work and try to drink some fluids in your training runs (if running over 60mins) and obviously straight afterwards to refuel. If you are even mildly dehydrated, it will cost you minutes in your race time and prevent you from training at your best!
I wanted to focus on pace management during an event, as this seems to be an area of interest for everyone. How do you get it right? It is hard to simply answer that question, as we are all different in our abilities and how we can handle pace during races. I will point out a few tips from what I’ve learned along the way – just remember that even elite athletes such as myself don’t always get pace judgment right in events! So don’t worry too much about getting it perfect – as long as you understand your limits and how to maximize your strengths and remain patient, you can’t go too far wrong!
Racing a 10km
Most 10km races start quite fast, so make sure you do a good warm up of say a mile of slow jogging then some fast stride-throughs so you’re ready to go as soon as you get to the start line. All my best 10km runs have come when I start at a good but reasonably conservative pace, keep up my concentration during the mid-stages while steadily increasing my pace (say between miles 3-5) then finish off as fast as I can over the last mile. The middle miles are always the toughest part in the race to stay focused – try to pick off runners ahead of you to pass or use mile markers to assess how you’re going. It is always handy to use build up races (say a little local race) or a measured training run, to experiment with pace. Some runners do their best times when they are a bit conservative at the start and really wind it up over the last 4 miles. Other runners are better off being aggressive from the start and holding that form right till the end. I am more of a conservative runner! I’ve learnt this through trial and error over the years!
Racing a Half Marathon
I always warm up for considerably less time for a half (say, slow jog for half a mile) as a quick start isn’t essential to run your best time. Lightweight training shoes will help as well as carbohydrate loading during the day before and keeping well hydrated both before the race and during the event (especially if it’s hot). The key to running your best half, I believe, is patience. The pace will often feel very easy at the start (especially if you’ve been racing 5km or 10km races). You must resist the urge to go faster here – as you will deplete your glycogen stores going too fast early and certainly pay for it in the latter stages of the race when you’ll have to slow down considerably. I have done this before! It is not a good feeling! You are better to go out too slow, rather than too fast. I always love being about to finish the race off fast over the last 4 miles. You’ll feel great passing people who may have gone out too fast and get a real kick along the way in doing so!
Another good strategy for pace judgment is to find a pack of runners going about the pace you want to go, and run with them. Don’t get ‘caught’ racing people too early. In fact, just think about getting the first 8 or so miles done as easily as possible. Then really concentrate after that and you should be able to push on with each mile and will achieve your goal time with this strategy.
Hope this all helps! Enjoy yourselves in the races and have fun with your friends doing all the hard training together to prepare! I absolutely LOVE the Bupa Great North Run and I’ll be there again this year and hopefully so will many of you!
Tuesday, 9th February 2010
I was thrilled to win our World Cross trial in Melbourne a few weeks ago. That victory meant a lot to me – more than usually a win in this type of race would. It was not only the fact that I crossed the line first but the fact that I beat a top field (we have such strength amongst our female distance runners in at present) and also that I wasn’t afraid to get back out there racing after a very below par performance at Zatopec in December. I believe that after disappointing runs, the worst thing you can do is throw in the towel and make up excuses for yourself. Instead, after Zatopec (despite being terribly disappointed after the run), I continued to train, enjoyed mentoring at a National live-in junior girls’ camp in Melbourne then went home to Mackay, North Queensland for Christmas and two weeks with my family there. During that time, I did some easy running, went to watch my sister, Caitlin train (she’s on the rise right now – moving up from 400m to 800m) and gained a fresh perspective on what’s important in life and realised in my own mind how hungry I am to achieve my goals this year. I also love spending time with my family and this break in Mackay was exactly what I needed after a tough 2009! (Although, I tell you what, the heat and humidity knocked me around especially after spending so many years in Melbourne and London!) My nephew Josh, who has just turned 1 and was the star attraction over Christmas of course…..He is absolutely gorgeous and changing everyday!
I arrived up to Falls Creek from Mackay on 27th December. I rented an apartment on the mountain with a great friend and training partner of mine, Kaila McKnight. We drove up from Melbourne together and arrived late that night. Our weeks together at Falls were fantastic - cooked some lovely meals, enjoyed plenty of laughs, watched a bit of ‘Gossip Girl’, went out with all the runners to the Milch café to welcome in the New Year plus I spent plenty of time mentoring the Athletics Australia junior girls here on camp. Steve Monnagetti and myself also spoke to all the runners at a seminar up here about various topics we’ve come across in our careers and conducted a question/ answer session after. It was great – everyone took plenty away from the afternoon, including myself….always like to hear Steve talk and learn a lot from him.
I trained hard up at Falls Creek for the 3 weeks I was there. We did all the traditional sessions including the km reps on Tuesday, Qtrs on Thursday, Fitzy’s hut on Sat and the Pretty Valley long run on Sunday. I was covering about 170-180kms per week. I also kept gym work going 3 times a week as well as fast strides on Monday and Friday. We have a great training group so plenty of people to work with. On top of this, there were so many runners here doing the same sessions as us, often 120 people would turn up for the sessions! Fantastic to see so many runners of all abilities working hard and enjoying the sport I love so much. I think it was up at Falls on this particular training camp, where I started really ‘hitting my straps’ so to say and gaining some confidence back into my running. Steve did quite a few sessions with me – was fantastic to have him there helping me out as well chatting to him and other knowledgeable ‘older’ athletes. My coach Nic was there too as well as Sonia O’Sullivan – their input throughout my career has been invaluable. They are helping out so many of our young athletes now…..I believe their skills and knowledge are really helping to take distance running from strength and strength in this country.
So I went to the World Cross trial a bit nervous but really excited to be out racing and competing for a spot in a very strong senior women’s’ team. My sister Caitlin was there at the trial as well as my brother in law, Jack. I loved having them there – we went out to my favourite café for brunch afterwards and had a lot of fun over the whole weekend. This win was my first for my new shoe company, Saucony. This change in companies was the ‘fresh’ start I felt I needed. Saucony have been wonderful to me and I absolutely love their shoes – you should try them out!
Plenty to look forward to! I may run a few of the Australian Domestic season GP’s in the lead up to World Cross. Right now I am back up at Falls Creek this month for some more hard training! And I can’t wait to get over to Poland and compete at the World Cross – not just for myself but as a member of a very strong senior womens’ team.Will keep you posted on what I’m up to after World Cross!
Thursday, 21st August 2008
I am pleased with my performance in my first Olympic marathon - whilst I didn't quite finish as high up as I'd liked, I was proud of my ability to fight to the end and finish on so well, passing 15 athletes over the last 10km and I would say my best ever finish in a marathon race over my career so far.
Unfortunately I had tactics that were geared to the race being very hot and humid (like it had been every day)......Race day just didn't warm up as predicted and I was too far back and ran too conservative in the first half to have any chance of finishing up in the medals. This will now be my goal for the London 2012 Olympics and I know if I keep working hard and believing in myself, I will have a fantastic shot. The Romanian girl who won my race on Sunday is 38 and was 23rd in the Athens Olympic marathon in 2004. It can be done, there's proof.
I'll be 33 in London and consider the city my second home so very comfortable living and competing there.
This year has been my toughest emotionally. My father passed away a few months ago suffering from an undiagnosed neurological disease that progressed rapidly over the last 6 months. Dad and I were extremely close as are my whole family - he introduced me to the sport when I was 10. We used to run along the beach together in ankle deep water and have so much fun just keeping fit and doing a few races. Dad followed my races all over the world and saw me run in the Sydney Olympics and Melbourne Commonwealth Games. He wanted more than anything else for me to continue following my Olympic Dream this year despite his illness. I feel my running has helped me cope and deal with his passing giving me an outlet being involved in a sport we both love. He will always be my inspiration in life.
Away from the track, I've managed to do a bit of shopping and supporting my fellow Aussie athletes at the track each night. We are all in a tough, unforgiving sport and truly global which I love. When you win a World Title like I did once, you know you've done something amazing.
Now, I will take some time out to recover from this marathon and fly back to Australia after the closing ceremony to be with my Mum in Mackay and visit the rest of my family in Brisbane.
Will keep you posted on how my recovery goes and the next races I have coming up. I feel I have an exciting time ahead. Thank you all for your support on the way to Beijing.....My supporters give me such strength and courage to do what I do. My father is my inspiration.
Friday, 8th August 2008
I arrived in Hong Kong last night to join the rest of my Australian team mates - my final training camp ahead of the Olympic Games. Only 2 days away now till it all gets under way! I'm so excited to be competing in my third Olympics. And this time, to be running in the Olympic marathon. An event which I absolutely love and have been thinking about running at this Olympics for a few years now (since I broke Lisa Ondeiki's long standing National record running 2hrs22min). I feel this time round, I'm more mature not only as an athlete but as a person as well. The marathon is an event that requires not only fitness but maturity and a hell of a lot of guts - especially in these conditions (heat and humidity). Having grown up in Mackay, I'm ready to sweat and ready for the biggest challenge of my career so far.
My training and final build up to this Olympics has certainly been on track. Was running upwards of 200kms per week whilst training at altitude in St Moritz last month plus doing some of my best track sessions ever. Now, with just over a week to go till my race, I know the hard training is all behind me - can't get any fitter now. I know it's in the bank and will be put to good use on Sunday 17th Aug. When I get to tough sections in a race, I think back to hard training sessions I've done or adverse conditions I've faced. This helps me become even more determined and focused. My two mottos have always been "tough times don't last but tough people do" and "if it was easy to become a champion, we'd all be champions".
I hope you all cheer me on from wherever you are when I run the race of my life in Beijing. Keep smiling and enjoy life and watch this space.