Sunday, May 19, 2013

Katie Can Too Run. Sort of. At least until being banned.

Today was race day.

My predicted pace was between 7:30-7:45/ km.

I ran 14km in 1:42:12. That's 7:18 / km.

My previous best effort was 1:59:43 or 8:33 /km.

And the last time I ran 14km was 3 weeks ago.

That's the power of orange. (Described in detail below).

In an atmosphere of unconditional and unlimited support how could one not improve beyond your wildest dreams?

My inspiring sister Annabel ran the ultra half marathon (23km on the Saturday) in 1:50:17. Her predicted time was 1:55. She finished together with her pace buddy Laura, and the two of them collectively achieved what they might have individually struggled to replicate.

There was one point where I had to walk because I was in so much pain (bloody knees). I only walked 10m because I was terrified I couldn't start running again. And in that 10 m I thought of every one of you. Talk about a jump start. I flew out of the walk.

Thank you. I am so grateful, for all the support (financial and otherwise). This is a cause I passionately believe in: curing cancer through the funding of young (7 years post doctorate)  researchers with burning passion and fresh ideas. So thank you for believing in me.

Thank you to those who ran with me, cheered me and called me crazy. 'Cause it really was.

Especial thanks to the professionals who kept me on the road, Paula Luke, Tanya Bowden and Karen Rook. 

With thanks,


Fast Facts and Figures

  • Funds raised this program: $2060 (Thank YOU!!)
  • Total Funds raised by me: $8806 for Cure Cancer Australia since November 2009
  • Can Too has raised $11,000,000 since 2005 and funded 22 researchers in 2013
  • I have run over 150km in training. This is equivalent of Wollongong to Gosford.
  • I’ve used 256 metres of strapping tape since the program began.

Dirty secrets:
  • I still don't enjoy running. I spent almost the entire race pushing through knee pain. Towards the end I couldn't get my pace up and finally relied on my hatred of running. It worked.
  • I do, however, enjoy running up hills. There's no impact on my knees. There was one final hill before the finish and I was so relieved to see it. Weird, I know.
  • I had my GPS watch set to swim mode at the start. Wishful thinking perhaps? I was "swimming" 29 second 50m laps. It's my fastest ever swim. But a very confusing run pace.

The power of orange

Our cheer squad lined the start and finish, including my lovely sister. One of our team couldn't run but had a loudhailer at the top of the first decline / final incline. It was a loop course so everyone who ran past wearing orange (even if not a Can Tooer) on the way back down got a hero's ovation. Each geographical Can Too pod  (we were 14km North) has a team captain and mentor. Our mentor encouraged me to run our own race and got an injured team member across the line. Our team captain's husband stationed himself at the 2km point and cheered us all. Our team captain and coach got the fast runners over the line then came back to ferry us slower souls across the line. Again and again. They ran about 20km that day. Annie, who founded Can Too, paced her inspiring and injured husband (fellow fish out of water, Simon) over the line and then ran back to help everyone up that final hill. Then she did the next thing for the half / ultra marathon the next day. She probably ran 60km over the course of the weekend. And everywhere you looked there were examples of a community of (Orange) people encouraging each other to achieve beyond their imagination. 

Race Report

I decided to run my own race, with an eye on my pace but without being a slave to the pace. It was a genuinely beautiful run to the paradise picnic spot through beautiful countryside complete with cantering horses. Despite 12 weeks of strength work, weekly physio and clinical pilates sessions the right knee protested every step. I broke my promise not to run through the pain. But if you stuck a camera in my face I forget the pain. The middle 6km of the race was a gentle hill. I loved the incline up to the turn around and hated the decline - but it did help me to negatively split. 

The winner (a Kenyan who looked like he wasn't trying despite running faster than my sprint pace) passed me at the 3km mark. I made a point of cheering everyone. I was determined to enjoy the race as much as possible and encouraging others is my favourite part of Can Too

At the final kilometre the beautiful, generous, inspiring and supportive Abbie (Team Captain) and Simone (coach) ran back to collect me. Somehow I picked up the pace beyond what I thought possible, only to slow right at the end so I could High 5 absolutely everyone. I waved, jumped, smiled, thumbs upped and thoroughly enjoyed the end. It had been a long time in the making.

After icing my knees I felt like I could have kept running. There's still a lot of work to do there. I then jumped into Apollo Bay (17 degrees) for a recovery walk in the water and swim. 

Everyone thought I was mad, but after a second swim the following day I was pain free. Best recovery ever.

What's next?

I've signed up to do the half marathon in September. However, 20 years after chipping my patella stuffing up my knees, I'm finally getting a surgeon's opinion. I'm also having my running style assessed to try and remove any technique based problems.

So the half will have to wait and see the outcome of all these efforts. [Post script - my knees track so badly I will inevitably required a full bilateral reconstruction. If I run it'll be necessary in 5 years, if not I have 20 years. I have been banned from running.]

In the meantime, my group and I are going to keep doing short runs together. They are just such an incredible bunch of people with whom I really want to stay in touch. Plus I get to ramp up my swimming efforts again (YAY!!!) ahead of a planned very long distance swim.