Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My First Race - De Castella Run 2013

One of my running goals in 2013 was to do an organized race, but life just kept getting in the way! I had nearly lost all hope that I would be able to meet this goal by the end of 2013, particularly when I hurt my knee and couldn't run back in March-April, and again in June-July (can you tell that I'm a glutton for punishment yet?).

Coupled with motivation from my sister who is also my occasional running buddy, and trainnng with the RunDouble C25K app for Android, I finally signed up for my first organized race ever, the De Castella Run.
The De Castella Run was organized as a tribute to Rob De Castella, Australia's Olympian Marathoner who won the Boston Marathon in 1986 (coincidentally, when I was born! It was a very good year :P). It's held in Kew every year, and features the training route that Rob used to train for his runs, along the beautiful and scenic Yarra Trail. The run begins and ends at Xavier College, and follows the Yarra River into Yarra Bend Park. It's an amazing trail even just to go for a leisurely walk, so check it out if you are ever in Melbourne!

My sister and I are both race n00bs, me having done none in my entire life, and my sister having only walked the Mother's Day Classic. So, we had no idea what to expect! We showed up early on the day at 7am for an 8.15am start, only to realize that we didn't need to get there so early since we had pre-registered. Still, better early than late right?

They had a lot of complimentary activities, including free Zumba sessions to warm runners up! We did a little bit of a session, then decided to do a brisk walk to keep warm. Then, it was time to race! Everyone was really keen and excited at the start line, so I was expecting a rocket start when the gun went off. But, it was surprisingly very, very slow. So slow in fact that it actually took us 18 seconds to reach the start line, because we were standing somewhere in the middle of the crowd.

One of the unexpected obstacles I discovered during my first race was having to slalom through the conglomerate of slower runners at the start. I probably should have started closer to the line, but I thought I was a pretty average runner, and kept towards the middle. After about 5 minutes of trying to push through the crowd, I was able to concentrate on keeping a good pace, which is quite challenging on the hilly terrain of Kew!

How the elevation was on the route... some steep hills
from the De Castella Facebook page

It was both inspiring, and demoralizing to see the 5km leaders already on the way back when I was only about 40% into the race. Some of those 5km leaders were primary school aged! Anyway, I tried as best to keep going, it was certainly a lot easier to maintain a good and steady pace in a race because your competitive spirit drives your resilience and stamina! Towards the last 400m, I sprinted for dear life, and managed a very decent race finish of 27:27 minutes! My net/chip time, which was my actual race time from start to finish was 27:09 minutes which is my Personal Best !! (remember it took me 18 seconds to get to the start line?)

Run Forrest! Run!

I finished in 25th place in in the Women's 18-44 years category, 38th in the Women's Overall, and 147th overall. I was very pleased with my category results, 25th place out of 207 is more than I could have hoped for.

They had restorative yoga sessions after the run, courtesy of Kozen Yoga. We borrowed the mats to warm down with some asanas, since all the runner yogis there seemed to be doing their own, and left before the sessions started. We then had a wander around the Mind/Body expo. There wasn't too much on display at the expo, to be honest. A Mizuno tent, a new sports bra shop, a supplement stall, and a couple of food/drink tents. The best part of the expo, in my humble opinion, was the children's petting zoo! The animals were sooooooo adorable. I'm embarrassed to say that the most photos I took at the event was of the petting zoo, I just couldn't help it!

Every girl's dream come true - a petting zoo!

Every finisher received a goodie bag, and as a freebie lover, I was thrilled to pick mine up.


Lots of sample power snacks and vouchers 

I really enjoyed my race experience. If you are a running newbie and thinking about signing up, I strongly suggest that you do because the experience is so amazing. I'm considering signing up to my next one before the year end as well, hopefully a 10km run!

Friday, August 16, 2013

How Running Changed My Yoga

It's no secret that yoga helps runners. Most runners know some basic asanas to help them warm up and cool down, and yoga is one of the best activities to complement running.


Since running though, I've also realized that my yoga practice has begun evolving. I don't really think of it as for better or for worse, because a yoga practice is just that. A practice. There are no "good" or "bad" practices, each practice is unique in its own right. But my yoga practice is so different now to what it was two years ago.

For starters, I'm no longer as flexible as I used to be. Running does that to you apparently. I used to see runners in my yoga class struggle with forward bends and have no empathy. Well, empathy I have now, and lots of it! However, being less flexible means that I'm no longer pushing myself in the asanas. I'm letting myself just be, I deepen into poses and I'm in each and every moment.

This shift to more self-awareness and mindfulness is a big step in my yoga practice. I have a lot of trouble with self-regulating, and with holding back. I use running to expend all that energy, and I use yoga to centre it all back.

I bring yoga into my running as well. Both are melding into each other in a way. When I run, I practice pranayama, and when I'm in the zone, I'm almost in a meditative-like state. I can't imagine one without the other, so I'm glad I have both.

Because running is such a high intensity activity, my yoga is all about gazing inwards. I focus on nurturing poses like child's pose, forward bends, supine twists... I hardly ever do backbends anymore and when I do, they are gentle.

What is most important is that I feel that I am now truly practising yoga and not just an aspect of it, which is what I've wanted all these years. Strangely enough, gone are my aspirations of becoming a yoga teacher. My practice has become something intimate and dear to me that it's so personal. Sharing it with others just doesn't feel right.

I look forward to reflecting on my practice again next year to see how it has further evolved. Chances are, it's not going to be the same, but I'm also ok with that.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Giveaway: Sadie Nardini's 14 day Yoga and Empowerment Course - ENDED

I recently pre-ordered Sadie Nardini's latest book, The 21 Day Yoga Transformation Body, which is due for release in September, and received a free gift of the Udemy course that I already have, the 14 Day Yoga and Empowerment Course, which I have reviewed.

So, rather than be a dog in a manger and hoard this wonderful freebie, I thought I'd give it to one of my readers! Sharing is caring after all :)

This course is most suitable for people who've done a bit of yoga before, it does say that it caters for beginners, but I've done it and unless you're very familiar with self-regulating and changing postures to suit your level, it's probably not too beginner friendly. It does however, have a very, very, very awesome detox guide that has recipes, household tips, and that I consider as a modern 21st century Bible to coping with today's world.

To receive this prize, you'll have to create a Udemy account, which is free to do! I love Udemy, I can't harp on about it enough so I don't think you'll regret joining them.

This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY, and is worth $59! Enter using Rafflecopter below, just follow the prompts. The competition closes in three weeks, so enter now! Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway