Sunday, August 31, 2014


Grief is an odd thing. You feel sad for the loss of someone; but you know they don't feel sad for you. Because, well, they're the ones who are gone. Depending on your belief system, you might believe that they feel happy for you... but equally that they do not feel anything at all.

Grief for someone you don't know is even more odd.

When I first started running here,  I frequented a route to the Anzac Bridge from Darling Harbour. On the way, there is a beautiful path along some of the residential waterfront, with park benches overlooking the water. Every time I ran down that section of path, I passed a gentleman sitting on one particular bench.

He was likely homeless. Anywhere between the ages of 50-65. He was a very tall man and wore a long gray coat. He sat looking out at the water all day. When I ran past, several times a week, he sometimes nodded at me when I smiled. Most of the time he just continued staring out over the water.

I ran that path for the first time since my injury today. I ran past that bench. But this time it was empty; save for four or five bunches of flowers with notes and cards saying goodbye to this man. Whose name, I learned, was Andy. Andy had obviously died.

I stopped and read some of the notes. Touched the flowers. And cried a bit.

Im not entirely sure why I cried. Just that this man... this life... had passed, without me knowing anything about him. Knowing his story; where he came from, why he was on that bench at all hours of the day (and probably the night). Why he needed to stare at the water.

I had never stopped to talk to him. I had never stopped to ask him if he needed anything; even if it was to find out that he simply wanted to be left alone. For whatever reason, I just hadn't. Too busy thinking about other things, too caught up in my own shit... too everything, to take a single moment to care about this other human being when an opportunity to do so was right there.

The other written tributes left on the bench were sweet. They were from school children saying goodbye to "the friendly giant" and locals paying their respects to this man who had become a "neighbourhood fixture". One of them referenced one of my favourite biblical verses.

I don't know where this post is going. Except that, in the absence of having taken the time out to approach this man while he was alive, I guess I wanted to contribute this little tribute to him, now he's gone.

I'm not sure he would have ever known or cared.  But perhaps it serves as an important reminder. Life is short. Loving and caring for other people is all we've got. It's all we've got to give, that comes from our innermost selves, and that we can freely offer to those around us. And we - or at least I - need to do more of that.

Bye, Andy. I hope you're at peace.

Revelation 21:4

~ Penny

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Niggles and Endorphins

feel bad for interrupting Kristen's amazing three part recap of AFC Half (not sarcastic!! I legitimately cant wait for the big hill!)... But Im back running again again again, after a couple more niggles. And you should all feel supremely lucky that you are going to get the full run-down on that. 

So this injury saga has been loooong. I had a cuboid stress fracture in my right foot back on March 10 which took about 3 months to diagnose and about the same to heal. Causes included running on 500-mile shoes with aggressive superfeet orthotics + the usual suspects (definitely try increasing mileage by 15% and running 6x1mile repeats in the same week! Its truly amazing to me, the goldfish qualities I repeatedly exhibit with how rapidly I learn, then promptly unlearn, the Too Much Too Soon lesson). 

Returning to running got me some sinus tarsal syndrome in the same foot. My doctor took one look at my dejected Imayprobablyactuallywillkillsomeonedead face, and agreed to give me a very painful but effective cortizone injection. 

Got over that, and returned to get some other weird pains on the underside of my foot. I seem to have solved that by wearing the orthotics my podiatrist made for me; that I had previously been too spooked by the SFx experience to wear. Yaaaaay for user error. 

So Im back at it again. Mileage since the sfx healed has obviously been low and patchy:
June: 0.5, 1 , 3, 11
July: 10, 4, 0, 4
August: 16, 12, 10

Yes this is miles per week. Yes it is inversely proportional to the number of walls I felt like punching for how slow this process has been. 

That is, until yesterday, actually. I set out to do 5 miles (the most I have run in a single day since the sfx) on one of my routes that takes me around the backside of Darling Harbour, in and around all of the piers, to the Harbour Bridge (KA - cant wait to run this with you!). I promised myself that if I felt good, and I was sticking to a >9:00 pace (around 5:40min/km for the metric-lovers out there) then I could add another mile for 6. 

And it did feel good. My feet were stiff and weird, but it felt good. My body was heavy and cumbersome, but it felt good. At the beginning of the run, my mind was swirling with all of the shit that has been going on in my life this past 6 months... until, as it inevitably does on a run, it cleared for some brief exquisite moments of calm.... And it felt really good. 

And then it started to rain. And contrary to what might seem obvious to the non-runners out there, running in the rain could not feel more powerful, strong, controlled, freeing, refreshing, exhilirating and.... Just good

I finished the run, forgiving myself, my foot, my body and the universe for these 6 months and thankful that I just get to run again.

And to commemorate this borderline endorphin-OD, when I got home I took a post-run bedroom selfie, complete with weird iphone filter because the lighting sucked: 

And on that note, i'll also leave you with some pics of the harbour that I took on my first run outside a few weeks ago:

~ Penny

Sunday, August 3, 2014

San Diego Track Club’s 60th Annual Balboa Park 8 & 3 Miler (August 2,2014)

This was the diamond anniversary of the oldest race in San Diego! It is a mixed course of road, sidewalk, trail, and grass, through every corner of Balboa Park. I run here a few times a week but have never quite seen the park like this. Some of the course is marked with flags through grass and dirt areas that I never go to. There were lots of short, steep hills, but plenty of flat areas to recover. It’s a great course, and no wonder why this race has been around for 60 years!

My general game plan was to run comfortably on the flats, steady on the up hills, and fly on the down hills.

Miles 1 and 2 were both sub-7 miles. These were more-or-less flat miles on pavement. So it was a good opportunity to put some time in the bank. (1-6:35; 2-6:48). I started out as the first place female, which was a new experience for me. Never been in the front of the pack! I got passed by a female runner somewhere in mile 2.

Most of miles 3 and 4 were trail miles with some big hills. (3-7:26; 4-7:48). I had kept the one female runner that passed me close. On the first big downhill, she absolutely flew down and gained a lot of distance. But I ended up being able to re-pass her on one of these trail miles. It kept me motivated on the down hills the rest of the race to think of how fast she flew down that first hill!

Miles 5 and part of 6 were mostly pavement again, so I picked up the pace here. (5-6:58; 6-6:54). I stuck with a pack of about 3 or 4 guys during these miles, but passed them all once we got back to the bridle trail hills.

Mile 7 had the major climb of the race – POWDER HILL! I picked up my arm swing and made sure to engage the glutes in the stride. (7-7:41).

Mile 8 was back on pavement, but with a steady climb. When it finally leveled out, I didn’t feel that tired, so I picked up the pace and had a good kick to the finish for first place female (8-7:05; 0.21 overage-5:54).

I stayed for the awards, and collected my trophy – a basket full of ingredients for a pasta dinner. How cute and thoughtful is that?!

58:25 (7:17 average pace)
1st female; 25th overall of 414.

Two Little Runners