Run Recap: My first half-marathon – Angkor Wat International Half Marathon

Posted Tuesday 6 December 2011 and filed under: I Like to Run

Angkor Wat International Half-Marathon

This past weekend the Mister and I flew to Siem Reap in Cambodia. A few months ago we decided that we wanted to hit a milestone before this year was out – and that was to run a half-marathon. We found out about the Angkor Wat International Half-Marathon through workmates and decided that it was THE one to do. So we’ve been training for the last month and a half – not the ideal duration to train (probably would have been best to train for at least 3 months) – but the training has been a memorable experience in itself!

We’ve never been to Cambodia and I will write a separate post on our experience in Siem Reap apart from the run. In this post I will focus on the event for all you run-nerds who may be interested in doing this run in the near future :-)

The half-marathon started at 6:30am and we were at the starting line by 6am. The starting line is just outside the ruins of one of the gates of Angkor Wat (meaning the ‘city of monasteries’). It was a sight to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat – an extra bit of inspiration to calm the nerves!

We were told that it was the cooler season in Cambodia – so the forecast was for about 30°C by noon time! Thankfully, it was a nice and cool early morning and though it stayed cool for the next few hours (as the course went through the forest surrounding Angkor Wat), the humidity was quite evident a few kilometres into the run.

This was the half-marathon course:

The course itself is flat all the way (my favourite kind of course!). I didn’t spot any toilets until about the 15km mark, however, there were water stops every 3km. So as you can imagine, there were runners constantly ducking into the bushes to relieve themselves. We even saw a lady run into the bushes and do her business while a wild monkey watched her from a only a few feet away (I don’t think she realised it was there!).

The main highlight of the course was – you guessed it – the scenery and the temple ruins seen along the way:

Including the opportunity to run through the Angkor Thom gate – just maginificent -

Also, there were sweet, lovely, Cambodian children along many parts of the course who were helping collect bottles that runners left behind (for pocket money) and who would stand by the side of the road with their arms outstretched, ready to give you a high five and wish you good luck. I may have high-fived almost one hundred tiny hands!

{The Mister posing with some of the kids who were cheering runners on.}

In all honesty these two factors (scenery and local support) made the kilometres breeze by for most of the run.

The main negative of the course was that there were various parts where you had to share the road with cars, minivans, motorcycles and touk-touks. Having to inhale the smoke they left behind was definitely not healthy, and it was quite a distraction trying to make sure that you didn’t get run over!

As I mentioned, this was my first ever half-marathon. I was really nervous about this run. The farthest I have ever run in 17kms, which is 4.1kms short of your typical half-marathon. Surprisingly though I was feeling okay for the majority of the run and basically ran the first half without stopping. However, once I hit 18km, it was like my whole body decided at the same time that it had had enough! My ankles hurt, my feet were numb and felt like they were going to fall off at the ankles, and my quads and calf muscles started cramping up (which has never happened to me on a run before). My breathing was great, my mind was ready to finish this thing, but my body was just about ready to give up.

So we shuffled for about 2kms. And as you would expect, the adrenaline kicked in with 500mtrs to go til the finish line and we were able to pick up our pace again. Crossing that finish line was AMAZING. We had done it. We were ready to collapse right there and then, but we had done it!

The pain afterwards is something else altogether! We could barely walk for a few hours. Thankfully we had the hindsight to schedule an hour-long massage back at the hotel after the race, then had a huge nap, then spent an hour or so walking around a few temples to try and get the blood flowing again. We also had a delicious Cambodian dinner and then slept for 10-hours straight!

We’re hoping to do another half-marathon in the first half of next year. This time we’re planning on training for at least 3 months and hope to get our fueling strategy before and during the run right. But this first half-marathon was a wonderful, memorable, surreal experience. I’ll never forget it.

Funds raised from the Angkor Wat International Half-Marathon go to supplying limbs to Cambodians who have been injured by the many land mines still in Cambodia, and those who have lost limbs in accidents, as well as supporting work to help prevent HIV/AIDS amongst the Cambodian people. You can donate directly to Hearts of Gold to support these efforts.

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Hong Kong Disneyland UNICEF 10km Fun Run

Posted Monday 28 November 2011 and filed under: I Like to Run

Finally got to participate in a fun-run here in Hong Kong! The Hong Kong Disneyland UNICEF Fun Run is an annual run consisting of a half-marathon, 10km and 3km family race. This was the first fun-run I heard about when we arrived in HK back in March and it’s one I knew I really wanted to be involved in. The money raised from the event will go to providing HIV Test-kits to mothers-to-be, and support UNICEF in their work to help prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies.

Apparently 13,000 enrolled into the event this year! The 10km race was most definitely packed:

{image credit}

The crowd didn’t start thinning out until almost half-way, which meant a lot of weaving in and out. I must say though that the whole 10km course was just beautiful. We started in Disneyland’s car park then headed northwards towards Inspiration Lake, then through park land, then by the sea past the Disneyland Hotel and Pier, then through Disneyland itself before finishing back at the car park. The weather was perfect for a run and thankfully, most of the route was shaded and run on road with some of the course run on pavement. The elevation changes were quite gentle – though I would have preferred more downhills :-)

We spotted a few people running in shark costumes (?!) and this dude putting the fun back into fun-run:

{image credit}

The Mister and I really enjoyed this run and definitely recommend it if you’re thinking of doing a fun-run in HK.

To make it more of a family event, we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel overnight. It was the first time we stayed at the hotel and it’s just so pretty!

At the risk of sounding cliche, it was truly quite magical :-) The rooms are just so lovely, with sweet little gifts and things to take home, and the staff were wonderful.

We had dinner and breakfast at the Enchanted Garden restaurant inside the hotel and not only is the food fantastic (lots to choose from!), Disney characters also mingled with the guests. We met Goofy, Pluto (who was a little crazy), Minnie, and of course Mickey!

The girls were stoked!

It was an awesome weekend. Now the Mister and I prepping for our next (and last) big run this year – we are off to Cambodia next weekend to do the Angkor Wat International Half-Marathon!! I know, a HALF-MARATHON!! My first!! Not sure how I got reeled into that one – but it will be amazing I’m sure. Can’t wait to run by the ruins of Angkor Wat!

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Learning to love running outdoors in Hong Kong

Posted Thursday 29 September 2011 and filed under: I Like to Run

Sunrise on my run

Apologies for the lack of posts – we have just moved to a more permanent abode here in Hong Kong. An apartment with more space, which is located in a more family-friendly neighbourhood (for the last 6 months we have been living on top of a block of nightclubs and bars, meaning noisy late nights and unexpected surprises found on the street in the early morning). What a relief! I don’t know about you but I absolutely hate moving – this has been my third move in the last 15 months and I’m kinda over it. So, I’m hopeful this will be the last move for a couple of years :-)

I haven’t posted about running in a while – mainly because I’ve been running indoors due to the Summer heat and an initial fear of the air quality outside. But thanks to slightly cooler temps (it’s Autumn now here in HK) and nudging from the Mister, I was able to start running outdoors. And oh, how I’ve loved it!! Like a prisoner set free – okay, maybe not so dramatic but you know what I mean!

The Tsim Sha Tsui promenade is very close to our previous apartment, so I was able to do a few runs up and down the promenade before we moved. It overlooks Victoria Harbour and is sometimes quite crowded with tourists, which makes for an entertaining run! But the views are GORGEOUS as you gaze across the harbour towards the stunning skyline of Hong Kong Island, and because of that you forget that sometimes the sea smells like sewerage …. But I digress.

Here are some snaps I’ve taken with my phone on some of the runs:

Junk boat on the harbour

Running past tourists posing next to a Bruce Lee statue

Spotting swimmers in the harbour

A view of the promenade on a hot, humid, Sunday afternoon

Sunset over the harbour

The promenade at night

I absolutely love running next to water. When I was living back in Melbourne, my favourite place to run was around the Maribyrnong River trail near Ascot Vale. It was also such a treat being able to run by the Yarra River along Southbank when we visited Melbourne a few months ago. There’s something just so calming and peaceful about it. I especially love spending some recovery time after the run just watching the movement in the water, which can be quite hypnotising!

Our new home is a fair distance away from the harbour now. I’m spending some time looking up safe routes that I can take back to the promenade from our new address. It may involve a train ride – but I’m hesitant about stinking up a train carriage after my run on the way back home! Also, it seems that monsoon season has just arrived in Hong Kong, so it’s been limiting my ability to get outdoors. But I really, really don’t want to run indoors again – I’ll just have to find a way!

I’ll leave you with our new view of Hong Kong from the 50th floor:

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City2Bay Family Fun-Run

Posted Monday 10 January 2011 and filed under: I Like to Run

My Little Running Girl

After I completed my last fun-run for 2010, my eldest pleaded to join me in an upcoming fun-run. How could I possibly say no?!  I wasn’t sure what fun-runs were on offer for kids but after a quick google, I stumbled across the City2Bay Fun-Run.

The event was held yesterday morning – 2011 being its inaugural year. There were 3 events: Family Fun-Run of 1.5km, a 5km race, and a 10km race from the Docklands to St Kilda beach. This year, funds from the event were donated to Challenge (Kids with Cancer Charity).

The Family Fun-Run was a simple out-and-back course right along beach. Being the inaugural year of the race (and also a slightly cold and overcast morning), there weren’t too many people participating and my eldest and I enjoyed a leisurely run/walk, taking in the scenery along the way. Despite the short-distance, the race is timed and it was nice to run to the finish line with competitors in the 5km cheering us on as they waited for their race to begin :-) All competitors also received a medal at the finish line, which (of course) was a highlight for my little girl.

The Family event is specifically designed with young kids in mind so if you’re looking for an easy fun-run with your kids, this is a good one to consider. If you’re running with a child under 6, you also get free entry into the Family event :-) I really enjoyed being able to share one of my favourite things-to-do with my daughter, and she was happy that we were finally able to run together. My eldest and I are hoping to do this again next year – and my youngest is keen to join us too :-)

Thanks so much for the lovely comments received on my Tote Bag giveaway! To enter the giveaway, please go HERE.

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Melbourne Marathon Festival: 10km Fun-Run

Posted Thursday 14 October 2010 and filed under: I Like to Run

This past Sunday – 10/10/10 – I participated in the 10km fun run at the annual Melbourne Marathon festival. Just over 5700 people ended up running in the 10km race. The whole morning was overcast but quite still – perfect weather for a run – and I made it to the starting line with 5 minutes to spare :-)

This fun-run was my favourite fun-run from last year. But this year I knew that I didn’t have the same opportunities to do enough training runs or to cover the required distance every week, which meant that I wouldn’t be beating the personal best time I set for myself at last year’s race. So for me it was truly going to be a “fun” run.

And for the most part it was! I enjoyed running around landmarks in the city, inspired by people of all ages and sizes giving it their best, and watching mums and dads running with their kids. Of course, a highlight was running the last half-kilometre or so of the race inside the MCG (even though physically I was just about ready to keel over and die!).

{Inside the MCG, a few metres from the Finish line}

But for the first time ever in a fun-run, I fell over. I really don’t know what happened. One minute I was running at a nice, easy pace past the Arts Centre at about 2.5km into the run, and then all of a sudden my feet became tangled up in something and over I went! When I landed on the ground I was actually facing the other way, so when I looked up all I could see were hundreds of feet pounding towards me!

I got up straight away and started running again. And it wasn’t because I just wanted to get back into the race – no, it was out of sheer terror that I was going to be trampled by all those people! I looked back and didn’t spot anything on the road that would have tripped me over. So strange. Well okay, not really. It IS a well-known fact that I am clumsy :-) It wasn’t until I got home and looked in the mirror that I discovered the extent of broken skin and bruising on the left side of my back and left shoulder. As my dear friends have told me, I now gotz me some battle scars!

When I was walking back to my car, the first of the marathon runners were nearing the end of their race and I watched a few of them run by. These people are amazing! They had just run almost 40km by that point and they were still able to run with so much grace and composure. I would have had my tongue hanging out and my limbs flying all over the place! Kenyan Japhat Kipkorir was the first male to cross the finish line and Ethiopian Mulu Seboka was the first female. They completed the marathon in just over 2 hours – meaning they averaged 3-4 minutes per kilometre over the entire 42km race. So in the time it takes for me to just put my shoes on and tie up my laces, they have run 1 whole kilometre. What the heck, that is some kind of crazy! Simply astonishing.

The girls have told me that they want to go on a fun- run with me next time (could be due to the fact that you get a nice shiny medal at the end of it!). I saw a Mum running with her two teenaged kids and I thought it was such a wonderful sight – an opportunity to share a special achievement together. I’ve actually found a fun-run created especially for kids that my 6-year-old and I can do together early next year. It’s a couple of months away – but I’m so excited already! Can’t wait!

* Entries are still being taken for the Cottee’s Cordial $1000 giveaway – be in the running by leaving a comment on this post!

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A Good Weekend

Posted Monday 10 May 2010 and filed under: Good Finds,I Like to Run,Just Sharing

Oh my, what a good weekend that was! It is amazing how things fall into place.

Last Thursday I inspected a potential new home and liked it straight away. As soon as I stepped inside I felt a certain charm and warmth about the place, and I could see us making it ‘our home‘ in no time at all. On Friday afternoon I submitted the application to the agent and as I was coming home from work later that evening, I got the call that my application was successful!!!

I burst into tears. I was expecting the house-hunting to be more stressful and difficult so it was such a huge relief to have received that call and I thank God for it*. The house has a small room in the back with wooden floors (the rest of the floors have either carpet or lino :-)) and I am soooo excited to be setting up all my One Red Robin stuff in there!

On Saturday I spent the morning at the Stitches & Craft show. I came home with an armful of goodies :-)

Brooch from Holly; assorted polka-dot ribbons; stunning fabric (with gold ink!) from Kristen; a Tamarillo collection pack from Ink+Spindle; assorted fat quarters from Kelani Fabrics and delicious hand-dyed wool (using walnuts from her tree!) from Kate.

The Incubator section was buzzing! I enjoyed checking out all the booths/stalls. But I will admit that the most enjoyable part of the show for me was catching up with all the lovely people behind the stalls/booths. I was reminded how blessed I am to be part of this amazing community of crafters/designers/bloggers and to know such lovely, generous, creative, and inspiring people. *Hello wave* to Cathy, Angela, Holly, Cathy P., Lara + Teegs, Kate, Jodie and Kristen :-)

On Sunday, I turned up to the Mother’s Day Classic fun-run. I ran the 8km course . . . and it totally owned me! Hahaha! What a mental battle that was to get to the finish line – but completely my fault since I haven’t been running much lately. Funnily enough, I still enjoyed the experience :-) The atmosphere was fantastic. At least 100,000 people from all over Australia participated in this event this year meaning lots of money raised towards Breast Cancer Research! I came home to find some handmade cards and little gifts from the girls – and a slightly tidier house too :-) I do hope all you fantastic Mamas had a wonderful Mother’s Day too.

*Of course, the whole moving house business is another question altogether and I’ll deal with that in the weeks to come :-)

Don’t forget to join in on the Honda Odyssey Perfect Family Day Out giveaway by May 30 over here!

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Ruby Dolls, Running & Really Sweet Notes

Posted Sunday 14 March 2010 and filed under: Craft: Softies & Dolls,I Like to Run,Just Sharing

Three Ruby Dolls ready to go to The Abundant Ground Foundation’s Haitian Orphanage.

Thank you to Dolly Donations for organising this dolly appeal. Remember, dollies are required by 31st March (and you can make your own Ruby Dolls using this free pattern!).

I headed off early this morning to the Run for the Kids fun run in the city. It was my first fun run for the year and the first time I’ve participated in this particular run. I really enjoyed it! I am so thankful that there has been amazing weather on every fun run I have done so far – even in Winter. This morning was no exception and Melbourne looked gorgeous!

I really love the atmosphere of the fun run. People of all ages and backgrounds, out there to punish their bodies for a little while for a good cause :-) I must say I also ran next to some interesting characters. 30,000+ people turned out for the run this morning and raised over $1 million for the Royal Children’s Hospital.

I usually go to these fun runs on my own, which means I don’t have anyone to take photos. So this is the only momento I have of the run :-) The first thing the girls asked me was, “But Mama, where’s your medal?”

It’s been a wonderful weekend. I took the girls out to the city yesterday and we enjoyed a busy but fun-filled day together:

My girls love to write notes. We have little bits of paper all over the place at home. I am not exaggerating. You can even find a few notes left in the bathroom. Or maybe under a pillow. Even in the fridge. This afternoon, my youngest (3.5 years) wrote me this note. I helped her with the spelling but she wrote the letters on her own – I was so surprised as it’s the first time she’s been able to write a note unaided!

(It reads: “Dear Mama, love from Aurora”)

Hope you’ve had an enjoyable weekend and ready for the new week ahead!

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Sussan Women’s 10km Fun Run

Posted Monday 7 December 2009 and filed under: I Like to Run,Just Sharing

I was here at 7:30am yesterday morning:

{image credits}

The Sussan Women’s 10km fun run in St Kilda. It was my 4th and last fun run for the year. It still makes me laugh to think that at the beginning of the year I couldn’t even run once around our neighborhood block and somehow I’ve ended up doing 4 fun-runs in the last 8 months. I would have never expected it, never forseen it.

But I’m thankful I did stumble across something I can just do for me – an hour of time in the day when I can just be by myself with my own thoughts and not have to be working on something or looking after someone or cleaning up after others . . . you know what I mean, right? I think it’s important for us to have something we can do just for ourself – something that refreshes us and clears our minds and at the very least, prevents us from resenting the loved ones with whom we share our lives.

All that being said, I must admit this run almost had me beat! I ran the first 3kms faster than I should have, which means by the the 6th km I was ready to lie down on the side of the road and have a nice, long siesta. The last half of the run ended up being one big pain fest but I somehow made it to the finish line (let’s not mention the lady who was running WITH A STROLLER that zipped right past me at the end). I even met my goal time, so I’m a very happy (albeit very sore and achy) girl today.

The atmosphere was great and the weather was perfect – mostly cloudy with a few breaks of sunshine and next to no wind. Plus we ran by St Kilda beach and it provided a very calming backdrop to the run.

I’m looking forward to doing more fun-runs next year, including attempting a . . . shall I confess this out loud . . . ummm . . . . a half-marathon! There, I said it. 21.1kms of pain. I have no idea how I’m going to fit in the time to train for it but that’s my goal for next year and you can help keep me accountable! :-)

Any seemingly ridiculous goals for next year that you’re willing to share out loud??

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My First 10km Race

Posted Monday 12 October 2009 and filed under: I Like to Run

Now for something totally not craft related :-) I did the 10km race at the Melbourne Marathon yesterday and I can honestly say that this was truly a ‘fun run‘. I thank God for the beautiful morning – it was around 12°C at the starting line, sunshine, and no wind. Perfect conditions.

The atmosphere was electric – for the 10km race alone there was an estimated 5,500 people. I was inspired to see all these people from different walks of life, of different ages, some with disabilities, out there and excited about taking on the challenge.

{image source}

I had been training for this run for the last 3 months and encountered an injury at the beginning and then two weeks of illness towards the end, so I had mixed feelings as I stood at the starting line. But it ended up being so much better than I had expected. I could go on and on about this run but to cut it short, I think it was my best run this year :-)

I enjoyed every minute. I had so much more energy than I had expected and my legs didn’t feel tired, even after crossing the finish line. I even met my time goals. The weather, the course, the fact that I ate a whole heap of carbs this past week :-), and a good breakfast helped to make it a great run. I am so thankful for a very supportive family who allow me to indulge in these kinds of events.

The last kilometre included a lap of the MCG to the finish line and that was a fantastic experience. The MCG is where the late Kerryn McCann (a running hero of mine) won the marathon at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 in an epic race. As we ran into one of the MCG gates, Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” came on my iPod, then we ran into a tunnel and emerged onto the huge MCG field where spectators were cheering. It was an amazing way to finish a race :-)

I still think it’s funny that at the beginning of the year I could hardly run one full kilometre and somehow we are now in October and I have run in 3 fun-runs! And the biggest surprise for me . . . I am actually enjoying it! I’m looking forward to starting my new training plan this week for the next 10km fun run in December (and it’s for a good cause). Anyone want to join me? (And don’t say you can’t do it, because seriously if I of all people can do it, you can do it too!).

◘ Watch Kerryn McCann’s brilliant finish at the 2006 Commonwealth Games here.

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Cheery Chimp in Brown & Blue

Posted Thursday 9 July 2009 and filed under: Craft: Softies & Dolls,I Like to Run,Just Sharing

Cheery chimp in a brown-&-blue kind of colour scheme is done! He’s been promised to a very sweet little boy :-)

I really love that elephant fabric – can’t remember where I bought it from. All I know is that it’s from Japan and I wish I had bought heaps more!

Wish I had something to show you in my creative space, but unfortunately my creative space today is all inside my head and my hands haven’t had a chance to catch up :-) Speaking of what’s inside your head, here’s a little conversation I had with my 5-year-old yesterday:

Ava: “Mama, what is my brain for?“.
Me: “You use it to think about stuff.
Ava falls silent with a look of deep concentration on her face, then says excitedly, “Hey, I’m thinking about stuff and it’s working! My brain is actually working!

I just love that pure excitement that kids have when they discover something new about themselves. Given that the girls are still young, it happens practically everyday over here and it is infectious :-) I even had my own little experience yesterday morning.

I mentioned previously that my goal was to be able to run 10km by the end of this year. Well, for some reason (could have been due to the freezing cold at 5am or the gorgeous full moon that was lighting up the sky), I decided I was going to just do it – run 10km and see if I actually had it in me. I even brought along a mini Milky Way bar to be eaten half-way for a sugar/energy hit – any excuse to eat chocolate at 5:30 in the morning, right? :-)

And I did it! It’s the farthest I have ever covered on a run. I’ve been struggling with my runs over the past week so it was a relief to finally have a good run again – everything just fell into place. I’m not saying it was a breeze – there were some difficult spots and I kept telling myself to just “suck it up Princess and get on with it” – but I can honestly say that I enjoyed it from beginning to end. It also helped to see that there were a few crazy people out there running at that time of the day too :-)

Like Ava, I was excited and happy to discover something new about myself – that my body and mind could carry me through 10km. A goal that seemed impossible for me at the beginning of the year was now possible.

Challenge and discovery is a great thing – Kootoyoo wrote about the same thing yesterday morning. I’m agreeing with her – I need to get that challenge and discovery back into my crafting time. I feel like it’s been going stale over the last few months and this may be just the thing to kick it back into life again.

P.S. Just noticed this book when I visited the book store this morning: “Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl “. Might be one to add to your reading list if your like owls :-)

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