walking | in darkness or in the light?

1 John 1:6-7 (ESV)

6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

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The theme of walking pops up again and again throughout the Bible. Given the lack of motor vehicles back then it’s an understandable metaphor for the path we follow in life.

However, what was once a necessary means of getting from A to B has since become a chore for many.

Yet it’s the perfect way to start the day. Clearing the mind. And benefitting our health.

But as I’ve said before, exercise should not be used as a means to lose weight. Diet is much more important.

Walking and running and going to the gym is all about building strength & speed and stamina & endurance.

Losing weight should be thought of as shedding excess fat deposits and preserving or increasing lean muscle tissue.

Unfortunately, when we restrict calories a potential side-effect is the loss of muscle. It looks great on the scales but is not helpful in the long-run.

Kim | 72.7

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rebel Run Sydney | 2014

44m53s PB

Next time, please remind me not to drink the night before a race.

OK. Water is fine. Just tell me go easy on the wine.

I reluctantly arrive at the Start line having consumed two Panadols for breakfast.

Thinking that I’ve undone months of hard training my mindset is now to just enjoy the race as best I can.

Forget the PB. Forget beating last year’s time. Forget breaking 45 minutes.

After scorching hot temperatures the day before we’re very fortunate and grateful that a cool change overnight has provided us with ideal running conditions: the skies are clear, the sun is shining, and it’s a pleasant 16 degrees Celsius.

Awaiting the starters gun taxes our patience as we’re all eager to get underway.

And we’re off!

As per usual my pace is much too fast but I slow it down and establish a comfortable rhythm from the outset.

The theory is to run even or negative splits: the time for the first half of a race is meant to be the same or marginally slower than the second half.

I figure I’ll aim for 4m35s km splits and see how I’m feeling at the halfway mark.

Yet I’m surprised that my 4m30s pace feels remarkably good.

So I maintain the speed, slowing a little up a gentle hill but making the time back on the way down.

Like the Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10k the course is relatively flat as it loops it’s way around the Sydney Olympic Park precinct at Homebush.

The course can be somewhat confusing at times. Signage has 10k runners going off in one direction and half-marathoners – who started a couple of hours earlier – heading down a different route. At one point I wonder if I’m now on their section of the course.

Yet I carry on, realizing that, despite my late night transgressions, a PB is a distinct possibility. I even pick up the pace around the 7km mark.

I’m passing other runners, some in the same 10k race. Others doggedly finishing the half-marathon.

I even pass my friend Jamie who shouts out my name. But no time to chat as this is the last km and I have to put in an all-out-effort if I’m going to bag this sub-45 time.

The last couple of hundred meters is on a running track which is great. I sprint to the Finish line knowing that I’ve done it.

The consistent training has paid off. I astonish myself: beating last year’s time; establishing a new PB; and cracking the 45 minute barrier.

Now it’s time to celebrate!

Kim | marathon runner

Coastal Classic | 2014

3h56m03s PB

What’s with races being scheduled so early? I can understand the logic during the summer when the days are longer and the temperatures become significantly hotter once the clock ticks towards noon. But right now it still feels like winter.

As I lie in bed deliberating the pro’s and con’s of not only getting up but then driving for an hour, waiting on a train platform for 1/2 hour, catching a train for another 1/2 hour, and then registering, preparing, warming-up and waiting for 1 1/2 hours before starting, I seriously question my sanity and consider ditching my second Coastal Classic.

After all, it has been raining heavily all night and it’s still raining now. The track will be slippery. I haven’t prepared specifically for this event. I don’t want to get injured. I haven’t prepared sufficiently for this event. I would hate to not finish.

What’s more, I was out the night before celebrating a friend’s birthday: drinking beer (my preferred method of carb-loading). So here I am subsisting on 4 1/2 hours of sleep. All good excuses but pretty lame reasons to pull-out.

End of discussion. Tired and grumpy, out of bed I crawl, reassuring myself that now that the hard part is over everything from hereon in will be much, much easier.

The run (now in its 5th year) follows the picturesque coastal walk from Otford to Bundeena through the Royal National Park in Sydney’s south. To say it’s a a stunning location doesn’t really do it justice. It is quite simply magnificent!

Yet weeks and weeks and weeks of rain will play havoc with the trail. I envisage deep puddles and squelching mud that will add to our challenge. And that’s exactly what we encounter.

It’s not even remotely like a typical road race: there is no smooth bitumen, gently undulating and pleasantly even. It’s jagged rocks and wind-scoured sandstone platforms; sandy trails followed by sandy beaches; steel-mesh walkways and timber planks laid across muddy tracks. Running creeks and stagnant puddles. Greasy grass and precarious palm fronds underfoot. Broken branches to trip us up and fallen trees to clamber over. And a bit more mud that acts remarkably like quicksand.

Up and down and up and down again.

Given the conditions, I’m surprised at how dry the route is in many sections. And yet, just when I think we’ve seen the last of the mud, we’re confronted by another section that is worse than the last.

To be honest, I don’t think anything could have truly prepared me for this. All the same, the beauty of the scenery, the soothing sound of the crashing waves, and my determination to not only finish the course but complete it under 4 hours, spurs me on to run when I would much prefer to walk.

I also have visions of leeches writhing all over my shoes as one runner describes (whilst we’re on the train from Sutherland to Otford) how his friend (who recently ran this course) looked down at his shoes in horror at a Medusa-like scene. Great!

Despite the arduous nature of the event the competitor enthusiasm is high and the banter amongst fellow runners is light-hearted and friendly; encouraging and inspiring.

The weather, for the most part, is now favourable. The sun shines at the start and the occasional rain shower does little to dampen our spirits. The cool breeze is bracing and invigorating.

Volunteers at the four checkpoints hand-out water and fruit, lollies and kindness. They help keep us going when all we want to do is throw-in the towel and call it a day.

And not surprisingly, it’s around the 21 km mark that I decide the fun has stopped and it’s becoming a lot like hard work. But that’s OK. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is.

Although the race is billed as roughly 29 km I know that with all our side-stepping and slip-sliding it’s at least an extra km. And my GPS watch confirms this when I stop it at 30.1 km.

The nature of the race means the finish times are similar to those of a marathon. And, as always, finishing is a blessed relief.

Collapsing with exhaustion at the end my legs cramp up from the sheer exertion. An ice-cold dip in the ocean would be a great idea right now but I have neither the energy nor the ability to get myself back down to the beach. Instead, I’m looking forward to the steaming, hot bath when I eventually get home.

And although I don’t feel like it right now, I do envisage doing it again. But I may wait a couple of years so I can fully recover.

Kim | marathon runner

rebel Run Sydney | 2013

45m07s PB

perceived rate of exertion

When I’m running I always like to use a heart rate monitor.

I don’t necessarily keep a close eye on my heart rate (HR) but glancing at it every now-and-again means I maintain my level of exercise within a predetermined target band.

There is an alternative measure that is more subjective called the Perceived Rate of Exertion (PRE).

For me it’s a scale that coincidentally equates pretty closely to my heart rate: 100 + (PRE x 10).

Thus I’ll warm-up at a PRE of 23 and then do an aerobic run at a PRE of 35.

If I’m running at a heart rate of 150 then I find I can talk but it’s not conversational. So I treat this as a limit. To go faster means I’m leaving the aerobic zone and climbing into the anaerobic zone.

Keep in mind that your heart rate is affected by hills, heat and humidity – and the subsequent dehydration that can occur – as well as altitude.

It’s a simple way of ensuring that those runs that should be easy to moderate don’t end up being too hard.

Kim | marathon runner

Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10k | 2013

46m08s PB

It’s never easy getting up early to run a race. It’s dark. It’s cold. And invariably you haven’t slept very well.

Add to that the fact you may be nursing an injury – like my sprained ankle from a few weeks ago – and you start to get the picture of a reluctant participant in this year’s Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10k.

Yet as I arrive at the marshalling area near the Overseas Passenger Terminal any thoughts of quitting quickly dissipate.

The bottled energy, the constrained anticipation, and the heightened expectancy are palpable and set-to-burst.

Sydney Harbour is a stunning location. I’ve lived here all my life – apart from several long overseas trips – yet it never ceases to instill in me a sense of awe and wonder.

Beneath the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge we gather in the cool, dawn light.

Warm bodies limber-up and stretch as we nervously await the starter’s gun.

Some are running their first 10k ever. Others are old-hands looking for a new PB. A few Olympians and professional runners will lead the way for us lesser mortals.

Locals. Out-of-towners. Even a few foreigners. It’s an eclectic bunch all with a common goal: to finish.

What I really love about the 10k distance is that it’s over pretty quickly. In less than an hour for most.

Aiming for a sub-50 minute time I have secured a starting position in the front A-group. It’s a wise decision as it allows me to run with people of a similar pace.

The countdown begins. The echo of the gun ricochets off the old, character-filled buildings in The Rocks. And we’re away.

It’s a relatively flat course that winds it’s way around the harbour foreshore. Through Darling Harbour. And back. Finishing in front of the MCA at Circular Quay.

Not that’s there’s a lot of time to enjoy the sights. My focus is well-and-truly on running the road before me.

I decide early-on to try and maintain a consistent pace throughout the entire race rather than starting slow and finishing fast. Yet I’m surprised I’ve begun faster than planned. So I reign it in a litte and after the first km fall into a steady rhythm.

I actually spend a lot of time reminding myself that it’ll all be over soon. That the pain and discomfort is only temporary. Not to push too hard but also not to slacken off.

It pays dividends as I’m well on target.

Because it’s a relatively flat course it lends itself to the possibility of a fast time.

It’s this knowledge that keeps me going. The image of crossing the finish-line exhausted but happy. Satisfied that I’ll be rewarded for my effort.

As I round the corner near the Park Hyatt and see the majesty of the Sydney Opera House reflecting the bright, morning sunshine I know there’s less than a km to go.

As always, finishing is a blessed relief.

The feeling of self-satisfaction that comes from completing the event far out-weighs any temporal suffering.

I can’t wait for my next 10k!

Kim | marathon runner

Humpty Dumpty Balmoral Burn | 2013

2m22s PB

Whose bright idea was it to stage a race that involves running up a road for 420m?

And we’re not not talking some gentle slope here but a cliff-like incline that has contestants defying gravity.

The sort of hill that requires traction-control, 4WD and the use of low-range 1st gear!

I grew up around these-here-hills and have always held Awaba St in some kind of awe.

Only fit for fitness-fanatics and hard-core crazies. (The irony regarding my current mental state is not lost on me).

The day dawns dreary and damp. Perhaps they’ll call it off?

Yet the warning on the website states unequivocally:

“The Burn is on rain, hail or shine, so bring your umbrella!!”

Needless to say there isn’t a lot of “sun” happening on this particular Sunday. It may be a day-of-rest for some but the rain god appears to be working overtime.

Yet, despite the cyclonic weather conditions, spirits are high. After all, it’s all for a good cause. And the amount of preparation and organisation that goes into the day is phenomenal.

I have decided to run with a few guys in a corporate relay team. As each one of us finishes the ascent our bib number is called out and the next runner heads off.

Gung-ho Olympic triathlon-types finish in well-under 2 minutes. As if they’re on those airport moving walkways rather than brutal bitumen.

I’ll be happy just to cross the finish-line without losing my breakfast.

Not being a sprinter or hill-climber, and having not trained specifically for “The Burn” (as it’s affectionately called), I’m a tad apprehensive.

But I’m nothing if not competitive.

And I am quietly confident that I can finish without walking provided I don’t go too-hard too-early.

Yet in order to achieve a respectable time I know I have to start fast enough as well. The gradient on the lower part of the course is far more forgiving than the final section.

The last 100m or so does not allow you to “kick” home at a sprint. More of a turtle-like crawl.

In fact, with about 150m to go, I distinctly remember thinking to myself that I must be out of my mind. “Why the hell am I doing this?”, I scream.

But I’m so short of breath this dialogue occurs only in my endorphin-muddled mind.

I’m caught in a dream-like state – or a nightmare depending on which way I look at it – where, no matter how hard I try, I don’t seem to be able to make any progress.

It’s as if my legs will not obey my instructions.

Yet I persist. And persevere. And push on.

Before I know it I’ve crossed the finish line. Yay!

Despite quietly swearing “never again” mid-way up the mountain, once it’s over I can’t wait to do it again.

Although next year is quite soon enough.

So. Who’s up for it?

Kim | marathon runner