I’m here, I’m training …

I bought some shoes.


They aren’t hot pink – but they do have hot pink laces. I have trained in them for the last 9 weeks so they are almost ready to be traded in. I have a hot pink pair on order to transition into for the last SIX weeks of training. *shrieks of terror*

You may recall last year my brother was consulting with a Hawaiian Iron Man participant on my behalf because he was concerned that I ‘wouldn’t have the legs’ to finish the whole thing. That story was part of this post. The upshot being that I should be clocking around 100kms / 62.5 miles a week and my long runs should be a lazy 35km / 22 miles on a regular basis.  At that time, 12 days until the marathon, it was not such helpful information. My longest run to that point had been 25km / 15m miles and I wasn’t about to trot out a quick 35/22.

It is fair to say my training plan last year was on the haphazard side. An international move and a terminally ill parent was not conducive to a super smooth countdown, that was my excuse anyway. This year I did have the opportunity to consider better planning and running programs.

Here’s how that worked out.

A lot of thinking about starting to train for the first part of the year.
As summer drew nearer, thinking about how hot it would be to run in the heat.
When summer arrived – spending ENDLESS mornings of the 77 days my kids were on summer holidays at the pool for Swim team.
When Swim team ended it was the middle of summer, super hot and humid and about 18 weeks until the NYC Marathon. It was time to make a plan.*

In my internet browsing hours I happened to come across the New York Road Runners Virtual Training Plan. There was a 20 week plan, a 16 week plan and a 12 week plan. I was 18 weeks out – a tiny bit late for the 20 week plan but more than in time for the 16 week plan.

It was a fairly straight forward exercise that involved inputting some relevant statistics, determining if I would do a Conservative, Moderate or Advanced plan (tick Conservative here) my credit card number and voila – a 16 week track to running a marathon. It looked suspiciously similar to the training plan my Runkeeper app had produced on my phone for free, but the fact I had paid for it, even a small amount, made me feel I was more likely to follow it.

And although it fluctuates weekly depending on what information I input about my training runs and times, it tells me today my current estimated completion time is 5.16.23 – 5.26.21 just sneaking in under Katie Holmes’ time of 5.30 which was my driving force from last year. It’s not rocket speed, or particularly fast, it’s actually pretty slow – I am no sprinter, but unless you have run a marathon this year or last, or ever, you don’t get to tell me that.

I have been religiously recording my runs and times in and on of all my recording devices, so I am not cheating myself.

I now share them with you – to keep myself accountable.


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Nine weeks of training, it really feels like I’ve run further, but you can’t argue with an App, a    fitbit and a Garmin watch apparently. Triple checked.


I do have to be a sprinter now though in one respect. Today there are 45 days to go until I hit the starting line and I still want to meet my target of 42 financial sponsors – one for each kilometre and 42 sponsors committed to testing for Bowel cancer.

The first because I desperately want something and someone different to think about every 7 minutes or so – (give or take 45 seconds apparently – uphill, downhill, crazy spurt, extra slow) while plodding my way around the streets of New York and the second because The Jodi Lee Foundation is based on raising awareness of Bowel Cancer.

How to sponsor me for your very own kilometreclick here and don’t forget to let me know which kilometre you want. At the moment only #5 is taken. So many to choose from.


How to be a sponsor committed to testing – send an email to randomthoughtsnikki@gmail.com to let me know and get along to your local GP or pharmacy, whatever way is accepted in your country of residence and do yourself a favour and get tested. I won’t be asking for medical results or certificates ;)


Ambitious?  Hell yes, but so is running a marathon if you ask me.

* I thank my three years in South Africa for adding this phrase to my vocabulary, I have no idea what I would have used in the past, but it’s a brilliant addition.


No Baggage

Got my bib number yesterday. I know that readers will be as relieved as I am to discover I am starting in Wave 4 (the last wave) at 10.55am which I am designating the warmest start time. Although depending if I can run down Katie Holmes’ time or not it may also be the designated coolest finishing time.

The Professional female group start at 9.10am even before Wave 1 (when the Professional men start) and given the fastest time for a New York Marathon by a woman is 2 hours 22 minutes, all the pressure of competing for the podium is taken away by knowing that by the time I probably cross the starting line (can take up to 15 minutes) the first woman will be pulling into Central Park to saunter her way to the finish. Phew, good to know I can just concentrate on running my own race from that point.

The bib features important information such as your wave, start and corral number and the magic option – No Baggage.

The No Baggage policy was announced earlier this year by the New York Marathon organising committee – and then reversed because of its unpopularity with runners. You can now ‘opt in’ to have your baggage (phones, extra clothing, reading material) transported to the end from the starting point, where based on previous years, you may have to wait for up to an hour in lines to retrieve it. Anyone not specifically opting in has a default of No Baggage, which sees you able to exit Central Park pretty much immediately after you get handed your giant pumpkin poncho as seen below. Gotta love a sponsor whose colours are orange and blue, thanks ING.

The poncho is the replacement for those clothes you didn’t pack in a bag and transport to the end. It is described as ‘water repellent, hooded and fleece lined garment that goes from head to knees and has pockets’.

No mention of its ability to be laundered. After wearing post race I am not sure of any future potential unless it can be washed, airing I don’t think would work. Not wearing it will not be an option, remember it will be about 5 degrees.

If you want to see a photo of me wearing the orange poncho you are going to have to sponsor me. I am not going to be bandying those around the internet for free thats for sure. There are plenty of spots for sponsorship left to reach my target of 42 kilometres, 42 sponsors and 42 screening sponsors.

I defaulted to No Baggage – which may be a good thing or not. I’m not sure the things I would have liked to have checked in, twenty kilos (currently attached to various inconvenient parts of my body) and my mental state would have been easily parceled up into the designated sized bag at the start line. I may have also conveniently forgotten to collect at the finish…..

I spoke with my Mum last night, the palliative care doctor had been for a long visit the day before, he now apparently also has the New York Marathon as a diarised date. At this moment in time the team in Australia – Team Terrie – are in agreement, I should run this marathon. Of course as end stage bowel cancer isn’t an exact science, its just an awful f*cking disease, things may change and I continue to make my decision on a daily basis.

I am running the marathon because I have trained for it (in a fashion).

I am running it to raise funds and awareness of the importance of early detection of bowel cancer on behalf of the Jodi Lee Foundation.

Bowel cancer an insidious disease that took my gorgeous friend Jodi and is going to take away my amazing and irreplaceable mother.

Bowel cancer that my beautiful friend Sarah spent most of this year fighting away.

I am running it because my mum told me its what she wants me to do, and while I have spent much of my life deliberately ignoring things she says to me, this time I will listen to her.

No baggage.

12 days

When I got back from summiting Kilimanjaro mum said to me ‘Wow, now you have conquered that mountain, you must feel like you can achieve anything you set your mind to’.

I hadn’t stopped to think about it like that, I was still so exhilarated from making it and chuffed I had achieved a goal I had set way too casually over a conversation with friends. For a while after that I did try to apply it to my life, when things were hard I thought, I climbed that bloody mountain – I can do this. Then, as the memory of the hurt and the pain of the climb faded, it seems so did my strong belief in myself to achieve anything I decided to do.

Last week was a tough week, a very tough one. I wrote about it here and illustrated it as below.

I wrote about the cancelled flight – but right there lurking between the two travel emails was another message, a scary one.

The New York Road Runners looms large, they are the ones who kindly send regular emails with all kinds of information about the run, training and race day tips as well as important to know logistical information such as the number of port-a-loos that there will be at the starting point.  1700 is the number if you are interested, should you choose not to use these when the call of nature arises you will be disqualified from the race, a by-law that may have been implemented post the 2005 London Marathon.

Last week not only my flight was cancelled, training was cancelled (one run for the week doesn’t really count), eating wasn’t cancelled – on reflection it may have been better if those two were reversed. It was meant to be the big week, most miles, longest long run big strain before the tapering weeks. Didn’t happen.

My brother – on the phone in between medical and logistical conversations – told me he had sought advice on my behalf from someone who had done a couple of Hawaiian Ironman events and just done the Coolangatta Gold on the Gold Coast. He told Ironman he was worried his sister ‘didn’t have the miles in her legs’ and what should she be doing at this stage?

Let me be clear, although its kind of him to worry, I am worrying plenty enough for everyone that I don’t have the miles in my legs. The answer from Ironman was beyond terrifying – I should be fine if I was clocking over 100km’s a week and doing 35km each long run.  After I put my hands over my ears and sang ‘la la la’ I explained to my brother that as he knows, I am a 42 year old amateur just trying to get through one marathon after which there is a big chance I shall announce my retirement from the sport.

Last week I didn’t feel like I could do anything, I wanted the world to stop, I had moments minutes and stretches of hours where I forgot about the marathon altogether.

Then I thought about what mum had said to me, I thought about why I decided to run this marathon which I wrote about here and how so much of that has changed. The underlying reason is still the same – bowel cancer sucks, big style.

I feel pretty useless sitting around at home with a sore throat, I want to keep busy and do stuff. That will include a run tomorrow after bus drop off in the increasingly chilly no longer Hotlanta mornings, it will be my second this week, back on track for now.

I am still working on my target of 42 kilometres, 42 sponsors and 42 screening tests.

I’ve only got 12 more days to make it happen.

If you’d like to commit to screening yourself for bowel cancer before the end of 2012, please email me on randomthoughtsnikki@gmail.com and I will add you to the tally.

If you’d like to sponsor me and pick your favourite number between 1-42 (that is still available) click here.

PROJECTED WEATHER UPDATE for Sunday November 4th

Looks like it might be a little bit cooler than previously predicted

Lows 38 F / 3 C

Highs 48 F / 8 C

Increasing cloud – Garbage bags optional

A new type of injury

I have just spent hours five minutes or so googling running injuries. I read about Snapping hip syndrome, ITBS, runners knee, shin splints and sprained ankles, all of which sound absolutely awful and I hope to have none of them (the niggle in my knee is all in my head I am sure). The thing they appear to have in common is that they seem to occur to runners in the area below the waist. This leads me to believe I may have discovered a new type of injury in the shower today post-run.

First let me update you, I have been running – actually I think it may be classified as slow jogging if I reference my recent Olympic viewing, in anticipation that is what I will need to do for most of the first Sunday in November in order to meet the target time previously mentioned. For those that didn’t read the earlier post, my target time is a complicated mathematical equation based on times the PBM and I run on the day, where the PBM runs as fast as she can so on average we are able to beat the time Katie Holmes ran for the NYC marathon in 2007, 5:29:58. We may also have to factor in wind conditions and our celebrity status but I’ll let you know of further changes as we get closer.

This week with the kids back at school and the boxes from our move finally all having left the building I have been able to run a couple of more times than I have averaged in recent weeks and have been breaking all sorts of records according to Runkeeper. Farthest distance in a month for jogging, farthest distance in a month for walking – best time for certain distance – the list might go on but it actually thats it.  Still, this gives me some sort of encouragement to continue on the path to more kilometres – a unit of measurement I am resolutely sticking with even though I now live in a country that uses the unit ‘miles’. To say you ran ’16k’s’ to me sounds seriously better than you ran 10 miles, but that could just be me. As one of the world’s online oversharers it may surprise you to know I don’t auto populate my Facebook and Twitter feeds with my running distances, routes or times. I just keep it all to me to panic about.

World first injuries to delicate parts of my upper torso – they’re totally in the public domain.

Back to the point then. After my slow jog of 14k’s through the pretty – pretty hilly – streets of East Cobb this morning I was very keen to shower and rid myself of the extra moisture attached to my body and my hair so jumped straight into the shower and under the full force of the actually very weak water flow. I immediately shrieked and jumped back out. I was suffering from an acute pain that seemed to be stemming from my chest area. Looking down show the reason for concern, it seems that my favourite running top is not equipped for over 10km outings – it had somehow started to chafe and given me blisters – in fact two of them, one each side. If we have to call a spade a spade, we have to call them upper boob blisters. I could find no reference to this as an official running injury so believe this could be a world first. Please let me know if you have in fact suffered this injury previously so I can disabuse myself of the notion of discovering this particularly painful ‘world first’. I’d be happy to note it with an updated entry. Ouch.

As I am not showing you a picture of my injury (I am sure the mental picture is already bad enough) I will substitute with these pretty flowers that I saw today on my route. Enjoy!

Pretty flowers

PBM update – PBM completed the Sydney City to Surf, a 14km gruelling up and down run from central Sydney to Bondi Beach on Sunday in 76 minutes, her target was 75. I have suggested she see a Sports Psychologist, one of us should.

Introducing the PBM

How do you choose your bridesmaids? I remember I spoke about it at my wedding all those *cough* years ago.

I dearly love the three of them and try my best to keep up with their lives, loves and families. This happens more sporadically than I would like with one of them – but she doesn’t seem to live her life through social media, text messaging or Whats App (my most often used forms of communication). Apparently she has a life in the ‘real world’ and I need to actually pick up a telephone and call her, which I do too rarely. My bad.

Another, my fabulous cousin, is –  well – a family member so we’re good on the contact front.

The third is the Prettiest Bridesmaid (PBM) – sorry girls, she claimed it first.

I don’t remember word for word what was said on that most fun of afternoons, sadly my memory is a little foggy & I no longer have a machine that will play the VHS version of my no doubt brilliant speech (note to self – need the dvd version) but what I could have said was

‘I chose Freya because in 13 years time I think we should go to New York and run a marathon together’.

I would have had that marquee in stitches I tell you, the assembled folk even while there to celebrate my special day would have been laughing more at me perhaps, rather than with me. I am not a runner of any note, never have been, never will be, in fact in the very same speech, I remember announcing my retirement from Triathlons, after completing just one (mini) event.  A retirement decision I have not found need to reverse in the intervening years.

On the other hand the PBM – runs, looks like a runner, enjoys it as a key form of exercise and is currently well into her training plan, texting me on a regular basis with pertinent updates. In May she completed the Sydney Half Marathon in just under two hours, two hours flat or something ridiculously speedy for five months to go until the big one.

I would have asked her to climb a mountain with me last year, but she’d already done it, she has also done Everest Base camp and various other physical challenge items that people tend to have in their bucket lists. You get the picture here, the PBM is going to make it, quite smartly – I will be many miles behind at the finish, which is obviously my plan so I can have my own personal cheer squad to run out and pull me get me over the line. I have learnt lessons from Kili, it’s about finishing rather than finishing first, which lets face it I will leave to professionals and Olympic Gold medallists.

When we were discussing (I may have been begging) whether we would do it together, ie attend the same race on the same day, the PBM had just one requirement.

‘We have to finish faster than Katie Holmes’.

She had the stat – 5 hours 29 minutes 58 seconds.

Lets just say in completing the New York Marathon Katie Holmes and I will have one thing in common – training for three months beforehand.

As to the number, I am hoping that the we can agree to a compromise along the lines of adding and dividing our times to a point where we can say ‘on average we both ran faster than Katie Holmes‘.

So PBM after my first ‘long run’ (which was actually only an hour) in my new city and country of residence this week I have you down for around the 4 hour mark.

I think that’s fair warning.

PBM – the runner, 13 short years ago. She didn’t choose the outfit or the pose but she was such a good sport and I didn’t tell her I was using this photo