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The 12 hr run
Friday, 12 July 2013 19:13

13th July 2013.  Very very early in the morning.

There are a few too many unknowns going into this event.  The golden rule of any sporting competition is to be prepared, to have practiced in training what you will do on race day.  But really, how do you adequately prepare for 12 hours of running when you work full time, have kids to care for and a household to manage?  Despite having a wonderfully supportive husband to share the load with and pick up my slack, I have not actually done any running for 6 or more hours in training.  I have done no 'back to back' sessions where I would run for 3-4 hours in the morning, then another couple in the afternoon.  Or vice versa.


Today there is driving rain.  I have been awake since 1am, and it has been very steady since then.  It is now nearly 5am.  I have run in the rain, but it is remarkable how infrequently that happens.  I plan my runs at the start of the week, so I will still train outside whatever the conditions. In summer I do plan to run early to avoid the worst of the heat, but in winter if it rains, I get wet.  Simple.  But it doesn't rain much here.  Except for today.  Upto 40mm has been forecast, which if it happens, will make it one of the wettest days that Adelaide ever gets.  The BoM radar shows rain for hours yet.


So, the rain itself is not a problem when I got for a 2 or 3 hour run.  I get wet, stay warm enough, have a hot shower afterwards and dry out my feet.  But 12 hours of perpetual motion will be different.  My shoes and socks will get wet.  I am not sure what to do to try to keep my feet from rubbing and blistering, especially as they get waterlogged.  I was recommended to get emu oil, but I can't find it in local pharmacies or supermarkets - it's fallen out of flavour it seems.  I thought about vaseline but have opted for endurance water proof body glide.  I have vaseline and pawpaw ointment with me if I need to revisit it.  And 3 pairs of spare shoes. And 6 pairs of dry socks.  2 towels.  Three spare long sleeved tops.  A spare rain coat.  Spare running tights.  A hat and sunglasses (ever the optimist).


Almost time to leave - I'll let you know how I go.

12 hours of running
Sunday, 07 July 2013 22:18

I can't believe it is so long since I updated you all on what I am doing here!  Please follow my facebook page 'Running For Jodi Lee' for far more frequent updates and links to articles.


I am now entered in marathon #5 - Amsterdam on October 20th, and I am entered in the Antarctic Marathon for March 2014 - I now only need to get my airfare organised so I am hoping for a little recovery in the Aussie dollar in the next few months for that!  The Caracas Marathon date has been announced and fits perfectly with the Antarctic trip, so as soon as they get their English language booking form up, I will book that and will therefore be able to finish my 7 Marathons on 7 Continents project in March 2014, less than 2.5 years after I started.  What a journey it has been!  I have managed to enjoy running for running's sake, which is a massive shift.  I have made so many new friends, and find so much inspiration in all of them - older, younger, faster, slower.  They all have a story to share, they all have varying reasons for running, but often are motivated by improving their health 9physical and mental), and I love finding out more on each group run I do.


My training is still a mixture of the group training on Tuesday nights for speed work and occasional Sunday morning trail group runs.  I do another session on Thursdays or Fridays with Ben Hockings from Yumigo, who is also helping me with my program, given my variety of events this year.  I am finding it easier having someone else help me work out how much to taper and recover from these events along the way rather than using a more generic marathon program and then feeling 'soft' as I drop sessions or modify them to a lower volume to allow for optimal preparation.  I am doing a 12 hour run this Saturday, July 13th, in a Yumigo event.  I can then get into the marathon training program for October, but am adding a little spanner in the works by wanting to do the Yurrebilla Ultra 56km 4 weeks before the Amsterdam marathon.  This can work out fine, but will mean modifying the schedule a little.  I see Amsterdam as a good opportunity to get a PB in the marathon, so long as I travel as comfrtably as I did when going to Africa earlier in the year.  This trip will be solo, which will be very different for me.  I haven't spent a week overseas on my own before.


Now, why would I run for 12 hours?  Right now, I'm not so sure!  I planned after seeing last years event.  My initial thoughts were along the lines of 'that's crazy', 'how boring', and 'why would you want to run so long on such a boring track'?  Then I realised - it is a very 'safe' and 'sensible' way to run for the longest time you have ever done.  It is a 2.2km loop.  Which means there is a toilet every 2.2km, food and water, dry shoes and socks, dry clothes, more clothes, somewhere to put too many clothes, a raincoat, a friendly face and cheering voice.  It is easy for friends to come down and say hi, and run a lap or two, easy for someone to go and collect something I forgot (I hope not!) and as such, removes a lot of the barriers to running a long way.  The main ones that remain are in my head, so they are my job to chip away at.


In training, I have spent a bit of time at the loop, running long runs there on my own, relaxing into the monotonous environment and working at not letting that bother me.  Getting good at not looking at my GPS watch too often, only checking my pace periodically to make sure I am running slow enough.  That is another of the challenges, really.  I haven't run on the flat for more than 3 hours in training, near 4 hours in an event.  The pace that I do that at is faster than I want to do his 12 hour run in, as I need to not be especially sore or tired at the 4 hour mark - I still have too far to go!  I have no idea at all what I will be feeling like at 7 hours, 9 hours, 10 hours of running.  So I have practiced running slowly and feeling completely fine at the end of a 3 hour run.  Times have changed!


I did do the Yurrebilla Ultra 56km last year in a shade under 8 hours, but that was very undulating (actually, that's not the right word at all - check out the link!  It was very hilly).  I ran 66km in 11 hours in January, through the night with a group (from Brighton neach to Mt Lofty, via the linear trail to Athelstone, then the Yurrebilla Trail to Mt Lofty).  We walked alot, stopped and waited for slower members of the group, toilet stops took ages (there were 20 or so of us), and we had fantastic food provided for us at 4 stops along the way, which made for quite long breaks.  So whilst I've done 2 longer runs, neither have actually demonstrated to me that I can run 100km in 12 hours (which is my goal).  I'll be pretty crushed to come up short, so I am working on that, whilest still wanting to get there.  These arbitrary lines in the sand we draw!  But I am getting quite nervous.


I have practiced eating when running, even though I don't need to when I do a 3 hour run - it is all about trying to get my tummy used to handling food when I run, and not getting a stitch.  On the day, there will be quite a bit of food provided - chips, sandwiches, lollies, noodles, water etc.  I will need to take in 60-90 grams of carbohydrate per hour - that's only one sandwich plus a few lollies, or a couple of bananas, so it should be manageable.  I'll be burning more than that per hour, so will carbo load for a day or two on Thursday and Friday.  That means white bread, white rice, cornflakes, fruit juice, some lollies and little fibre.  Completely not a normal healthy diet, but I means to an end of filling up the glycogen stores (which wil result in temporary weight gain as every gram of carbohydrate needs 3 grams of water to store as glycogen in the muscles and liver.  I estimate I have 1100g of glycogen storage, thus I'll be 4kg heavier than when I am glycogen depleted.  I'll run and sweat that out, however!).


For this week, I have only a couple of short runs planned, a massage, some stretching, and more of my little exercises to try to use my glutes more than my hamstrings (a little saga concerning my left hip) to keep me moving as well as possible.  Plus work and school holidays!


If you are in Adelaide on the weekend, please come down to the uni loop in North Adelaide and say hi.  I'll be the one running in a black tutu! And if you can support my fundraising of rthe Jodi Lee Foundation, please follow this link. 



Our African Adventure
Thursday, 21 March 2013 09:46



We have just flown home this morning - a very long trip from Zanzibar to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, to Doha (Qatar) then Melbourne, a short overnight, then home to Adelaide after 2 aborted landings! We were relieved to get down, collect our bags and get home safely. The kids went to school after a shower and cursory unpacking, and I have done errands. Here is the report of the Kilimanjaro Marathon, held almost 3 weeks ago on 3/3/13. I've also included a link to our blog with photos, and to the video that Charlie produced.

I woke at midnight and sadly, didn't get back to sleep. Turns out, day 3 is a good one for jet lag. The alarm was set for 4 am anyway, so shower, wash the kids clothes and hang it out, out for breakfast (bread and bananas, with a cup o' tea), then the bus to the stadium by 5am. It was so dark, they were still setting up, the stadium is dirt with some grass in the middle, a volleyball court on the side and some other nets around the place. Meat was being barbecued for later, the air was think with smoke, and runners were starting to file in. After a while, the music started - cheesy dance music at about 3000 decibels, and the MC kept reminding us of the various start times. The loos were Asian, with no TP supplied,  much to some of the American girls horror. Fortunately, I've been to third world countries before, so came prepared. Of course.

The first glimpse of the top of Mt Kilimanjaro in the pre dawn light was so special. It has been shrouded in cloud and haze since we got here, although we haven't been able to see it early in the morning before. It was stunning, truly breathtaking and both Charlie and I felt a little sad that we won't climb it. We'll find other cool things to do, though, don't worry.

It was so cool to see the startling crowded with scrawny fast Kenyans and Tanzanians, who sprinted off the start to get the advantage on the bend. The nature of the course with two 'in and out' legs meant that we could see the lead pack and eventual winner streak past through the morning. I settled in to my style - waving, high fiving kids, being laughed at by women, comments from men (I choose to believe they were just cheering), as I occasionally curtseyed in return. I suspect many of them had never seen anything quite like me ;) I was rocking my NYM outfit - named T shirt and Jodi Lee Foundation tutu, getting a few call outs for 'Toe Ree' and thoroughly enjoying myself. It was a cool flat run for most of the first 12-14k, out of town and back again, then a loop through Moshi which included small hills. Several thousand people were lining the street the whole way, creating a very festive atmosphere. I was joined by groups of kids for kilometers at a time, and at one stage, by a man on a bike for over 10k!

We went back past the stadium at the half way mark, already a km or so into our climb. The climb continued until 31.5 km, through smaller villages, past coffee plantations, people going about their day - burning rubbish (choking on smoke), carrying enormous bunches of bananas (they may be plantains - I am not sure of the official difference), washing clothes, watching the world go by. As we climbed higher, it became a little cooler (very welcome) and we passed the banana plantations. Motorbikes were going past constantly, few of the roads were closed, and none were after the lead pack went through, then more cars and buses, loaded with local folk. Drink stops provided water in cups that I suspect were being recycled off the ground and refilled for slower runners - a few I was offered had coke on the outside once we got the the drink stops that also offered coke.  A few stops provided sponges as well - very much appreciated on a day that would have been over 30 degrees already.

The long climb had me walking a few sections. My right thigh (middle part of rectus femoris) was quite tight on the climb, so I was conscious not to be a hero with the hill - 10k of downhill running was going to put more load on that than I really wanted. Finally, after a few 7 minute km's, the turn around point was in sight.  A drink, then open up the legs a little and enjoy the run. I had realised at 27k or so that I was actually still in with a chance for a 4 hr run if the hill wasn't too brutal, so was watching my pace on the way up. I calculated I would be able to get there with low 5 min km's all the way down.  So when I felt good and the slope was not severe, I was able to get a sub 5 k done, but I always slowed down for the water, and I didn't want to be too sore afterwards given my holiday starting tomorrow. Soft, I know.

By the last 4 km or so, the road was getting very crowded with people doing their normal Sunday thing. I was having to run around the outside of buses as they pulled over to pick up passengers (the roads were all sealed but there are never any footpaths). I was really trying to get my 4 hr mark, worried I was needing 5min even km's and I wasn't feeling able to do that. It was hot, dusty, fumey (is that a word?), I was tired, and I felt a bit insignificant on this crowded road. I couldn't even see the runners ahead of me, there were so many others about. As I approached the stadium, inside the last km, it was hard to even see the marshall, I didn't know whether to turn left or right once inside the outer gate, and still couldn't see any other runners. The roadway was crowded with people sauntering along (drives me bonkers at the best of times), then a small African hurtled past me, kept looking back at me and gesturing me onward. He led me into the stadium proper, I could see the finish archway, and hurtled towards it (I'm not sure how pretty I looked!). It turns out, there were two finishing shutes - one for the half and the other for the full. The marshall was standing directly in front of the only sign directing full marathon runners to the right, while he was chatting to his mate, so he grabbed my arm as I went past, 'no, no, this way'. Arrgh.

I whipped around the star dropper, sprinted up the shute, and went under the archway in 3:59:56 (garmin time, not seen any official timing). Woot woot!  So excited to have done it. I really went in with a plan to run between 4 hrs and 4:20, but to just run by feel. My heart rate monitor hasn't worked well for months, and I haven't worn it at all for the last month or so - just running by feel. Weird for me. But now 3 of my 4 marathons have been finished in 3:50 something. I am nothing if not consistent!  I feel like my training has really paid off, and a run without jet lag, mothering duties and a 10k climb could have seen a PB run. I am stoked with it.

[Addit: My official time comes in at 4:00:10, finishing 108/238.  There was no individual timing, so that is my time based on when the gun went off, rather than when I crossed the start line. I'll keep my 3:59:56 based on that!  I did find a picture in the official gallery that shows I was one of the last to start the run :-)   Most of the runners ahead of me were from Tanzania and Kenya - in fact the top 10 male and female for both the marathon and the half marathon were all from these two adjoining nations.  There was one other Aussie in the field - he was from Sydney, and many of the others I spoke to were westerners living in African cities and towns for work currently.  When I scrolled through the results, I was the 15th person over the line who was not from Kenya or Tanzania, and the 5th woman!  Wow!]

We ran on roads the whole way, which I didn't expect. I only brought my Trabuco trail shoes, but I have run a fair bit on road in them with no problem, so figured they would be ok. They were, thank goodness. But my Kayanos at home which have about 1500km in them and are a little overdue to be replaced are still sitting at home. If I had thought about it a little better, I would have brought them as well, worn them for the run and then donated them. They are in reasonable condition - I just should not run in them anymore. My Trabucos are about 18 months old and have a fair bit of wear in them, but I will be wearing them all trip as my everyday shoe. They may not see much running once we get home, but I have run the Great Wall Marathon and the Yurrebilla Ultra Marathon in them as well, so it will be sad to retire them.

Thank you to everyone for your support - it has been wonderful to get the Facebook messages, and the donations to the Jodi Lee Foundation. I will thank everyone individually properly when I get home to easier Internet access. But thank you xx.

En route to Africa
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:38

January 30th 2012

I am a little horrified to realise that I have been so long between posts here.  I compose so many words of wisdom while I am running and then get so busy and 'not at my computer' when I am not running, that I actually forget that I never wrote them down.  I am now only 4 weeks away from departure to Africa - continent #4 on my quest to run a marathon on each continent.  


Quick precis for those only just joining the journey - it is all on this site if you can trawl through it - I started running in early 2011 once I had announced that I was going to run the NY marathon later that year.  I had never run regularly, only 2 or 3 times per year(!)  But I was ready for a challenge, and really wanted to get fitter. There is a day by day account of that journey on this site  - you've been warned! When in NY (which was awesome - I highly, highly recommend the experience), I met another Aussie runner, who was planning on doing a marathon on each continent.  I had read about it a few weeks earlier (a different Victorian doing the same thing), and my mind was boggled by logistics as well as fascination that you can run a marathon on Antractica.  You can run 2, plus a 100km ultra, in case you are wondering.  Once home again, and especially in the post Christmas lull, I decided, with goading from my friend Beck, to run the Great Wall of China marathon in May 2012.  We did that one together - I had a really fun time, while she describes it as one of the most painful experiences of her life.  Actually, I think it wins as her most painful experience ever, given the list she was rattling off that day :-)

In August 2012, I ran the Adelaide marathon, my hometown, with a goal of a fast time.  I trained hard in the lead up, posted some very good times for 30km and 10km, but had a bad day at the office that day.  I have posted about it, in waaaaay too much detail for some.  The Kilimanjaro marathon is next on the list, Antarctica is confirmed for March 2014, and I need to work out how to slot in Europe (Amsterdam October 2013 looks the likely candidate) and South America (Caracas March 2014, pending political stability in Venezuela).


I have been following yet another different program this time.  The speed work I was doing in the lead up to August left me tired, tired, tired, and I am not sure that I was really able to convert that speed work into actual faster turnover in a long run.  I may revisit it in the future, but I was keen for something different. I did enjoy the two programs I did before that - the beginner marathon program that I have printed and distributed widely as a great way to get to your first marathon safely, with only 3 runs per week.  The other program was its big brother - designed to keep pushing and forcing adaptation in the quest to get faster, stronger.  This time, it is another web based program, the RunKeeper 3:30 target marathon program, for 16 weeks.  I started in November, once I had decided that I liked the look of this one.  There are still 3 main runs per week, although the speed work is over longer distances, and with way more volume (yesterday I did 6x 1 mile repeats - 10km of 'speed' work, whereas the other programs had me doing 4-6km total speed work in a session).  There are also 2 recovery runs per week, so my total mileage is significantly higher.  November I ran over 200km in a month, I think for the first time.  December was over 250km, and this month is over 350km.  Last week was 87km - my biggest ever (so long as we don't include the funrun I did on 5/6 January when I ran from Brighton Beach to Mt Lofty summit via Linear park - 66km, 11 hrs through a blustery and surprisingly chilly summer night).

I have really enjoyed this program, enjoyed pushing limits again, feeling fitter, feeling good that I am coping with the workload, enjoying waking early to run (as it is mid summer and far too hot most days to contemplate running at any time other than in the dark early mornings) and enjoying the app interface that gives me a green tick for every session completed.  I did miss one speed session - after running 66km over the weekend and through the night.  The legs were still tired.  Total mileage was the same.  But I am on target to have 74/75 sessions with green ticks once the next month is done.  

I have also been playing more with diet.  Most of what I am doing is currently very much 'on trend' - I prefer whole foods, preparing things myself so I know and can control what is in them.  I am eating less wheat products, less meat (having read Scott Jurek's book, Brendan Brazier's books, Ironman Champ Chrissie Wellington's book as well as various websites along the way), less dairy and way more fresh produce.  We have planted veggies, finally, and are reaping what we have sown  Last night, we ate corn, zucchini, another squash and broccoli - all grown by us or one of our friends.  I followed it with chocolate zucchini cake, which did have some flour and sugar in it, along with 2 cups of grated zucchini.  It was good, thanks for asking.  I have been making various super smoothies:

beetroot, purple kale, black cherries, ice

coconut yogurt, almond butter, frozen spinach, apple, cucumber

cucumber, clelery, spinach, apple, banana, ginger, coconut yogurt

celery, cucumber, plum, apple, strawberry, cherry

apple, ginger, mango, lemon juice, lemon peel, 'super greens' powder, maca

I have also had a few obnoxiously disgusting ones where I have been a bit overzealous in packing it with goodness.  Very green and very red produce together makes for a very brown drink.  Too much kale is very fibrous, so it is very thick.  Even with fruit in there to sweeten it, it looks and smells and has a texture that is quite awful.  There is much to be said for whizzing up some ice with it (cold is better) and adding water as needed (thinner is better, especially when there is much fibre).  I use my thermomix to blend it all, so I do get to keep all the fibre.  I do rate the thermomix - expensive, the sort of thing you hear about for a few years before you are brave enough to shell out all that money for one, but then wonder why you waited so long once you do have one.  But, I am making my own butter, yogurt, almond butter, raw brownies, smoothies, I can make easy, awesome risotto in it, it makes the best custards, white sauce / hollandaise, mashed potato ever (doesn't sound very 'diet', does it?).   So far, I love it.



And, as always, if you want to learn more about the Jodi Lee Foundation, screening for bowel cancer or would like to donate to the Jodi Lee Foundation and support my quest to run a marathon on each of the seven continents, please click on the links.  Or follow me on facebook :)






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Health News

This weeks links

The Cancer Council came out this week and announced that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, and that alcohol should be considered to be as carcinogenic as smoking and asbestos are.  As well as being highly associated with throat and mouth cancers, it is now found to correlate highly with breast and bowel cancers.  Perhaps it should not be so surprising that a substance that can so alter mood and ability, even at very mild levels should turn out to be in fact, not good for us.

This story, an editorial from the British Journal of Sports Medicine earlier this year has some amazing targets - it ties in with our look at sitting and health, and is about developing healthcare systems that support exercise - recognise it as being as vital a measure of our health as is blood sugar levels or blood pressure.  It recommends 150 minutes of physical activity per week for adults as a minimum.  30 mins on 5 days.  For children, it is 420 mins / week - 60 minutes every day.  How close are you?

This is another article on inactivity / obesity and health from Sports Medicine Australia, highlighting the link between an inactive childhood and a lifetime of battling depression.  It is food for thought (!) these days where there seems to be much paranoia about safety of children away from their parents watchful eyes, and therefore a tendency to want to keep them closely under watch instead of encouraging more activity and indeed risk taking behaviours.  The ability to judge situations for risk and to be able to take appropriate risks builds self esteem and resilience.  Not much to do with bowel cancer awareness, but close to my heart as well.

Another article on sitting

This one is in really simple terms - if you walk 30 mins (as recommended) and sleep 8 hours, most of us still have 15.5 hours per day not moving.  You cannot sit all day behind a screen, then drive your car and sit and watch tv with out it being bad for you.  A good read.