Saturday, April 21, 2007

Quick update on St. Stephen and my running

Well it was quite the experience - following Saint Stephen all through the Boston Marathon. I had signed up for e-mail alerts of his times, along with some of his other fans. Steve is so modest that he always claims to have just 10 listeners - well, Monday, he was proved incredibly wrong. My inbox groaned with the e-mails from other listeners which I was cc'ed in on, waiting to hear how he was doing. Amazingly, some were able to watch the marathon online across the world, others followed the e-mail and still others were actually able to watch it in person. We must all be quite geeky listeners because those who watched obviously went home and e-mailed about it - it was a wonderful experience. It was like we were all watching and spectating. When it became clear that Steve was having a hard time everyone started mailing in chants, like we would have done had we been on the streets of Boston, along the lines of "come on Steve, keep it going, you're looking great" etc. It later transpired that one of the e-mail readers passed this on to Steve and that this was one of the things that kept him going - that there was a whole community out there willing him along and sending out their positive vibes. Quite an experience.. I'm not through listening to his podcast about the race - I know he did not manage a PB, but given the conditions I think it was utterly remarkable he finished at all. St Stephen - a hero to us all!
I've been checking out the Boston qualifying times - what else does a girl do after a day like that? and I see that I was wrong - 4:00 is the qualifying time for 45-50 women - at the moment I'm 35 so I've got to get 3:45 (yeah, right) and when I'm 40 it goes up to 3:50. Sigh.. I've either got to get a lot better or a lot older. Can't decide which is easier..

In the meantime, on a positive note, however - my running is back on track. I've been doing my daily maintenance runs of 4.2 miles since Wednesday without trouble or discomfort and am heading out for an easy 10M tomorrow morning with Sally. We'll have a marathon conversation no doubt - she wants to do Nottingham but I'm secretly contemplating Amsterdam.. You may not realise this but I'm actually Dutch and go back home very regularly and it would be great to run a race my family could come out and support in some serious numbers! Also - as my parents would be there they could bring the kids and they could see me race. Finally - it's 2 days after my birthday (36) and I seem to be making near birthday marathons a tradition, saving the champagne for after the races... So I'm going to try and talk Sal out of Nottingham and into Amsterdam. Watch this space...

Finally - thank you all for your feedback on giving up on my May marathon.. You know, once I started watching Steve on Monday I put it all behind me. I realise that, somehow, part of me wasn't really focusing on it - I was not training mentally at all, the way I should have been. So I'm picking a new goal (oh joy!) and ... tatada! going to try a new training plan. I'm contemplating the Hansons moderate consistent plan but suggestions are welcome. If I do run Amsterdam, I've got a few weeks to go before deciding so let me know what you think would work. I've done one marathon on a Mike Gratton training plan - not particularly great, too hard for a first-timer, one marathon on Hal Higdon - good, but, as Terry says, not going to get you speedy - so now I'm looking for improvement. And I'm prepared to go the distance - she says boldly. So let me know what you think - what / who works for you and why?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rooting for Saint Stephen

It's Patriot's Day over in the United States and we runners know what that means - it's Boston Marathon day. For so many of us it's a dream to one day qualify (it certainly is for me, see my previous post) but until that happens, we live vicariously through others who are running it. And for a lot of us running bloggers, podcasters and podcast lovers that running friend is going to be Steve Runner of Phedippidations who is braving the weather and the hills today on his quest for, at the very least, a course PB. He's run it before - today is his 6th attempt - and the second time that he podcasts while running. Last year - how shall I put this delicately? - things did not go too well for him - a couple of pre-race bagels and a course of antibiotics fought a battle with Steve while he was running.. But never one to shirk from a challenge, Steve announced last year that he was going to focus on his running above all else and he's really gone for it. Training-wise he's moved from an adapted Hal Higdon schedule to an unusual but highly promising schedule by the Hanson brothers, he's had some expert advice and most importantly - he has dedicated himself to getting into the best shape ever to run the race and smash his previous records.

The day has dawned in the US, Steve has mailed us to tell us he's awake and posted a picture of himself before the race - can you sense the excitement? All of his fans can sign up and receive e-mails of his progress and sign up for Flick'r and Twitter updates along the way. Go on over to his website to add your name to the list and make sure to listen to next week's podcast when we'll be getting the blow by blow account.

Run long Steve - and conquer!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

No marathon in May after all..

Well - that's one way to kill the suspense.. As you all know I was intending to run a marathon in Derbyshire on May 19th and I was well on my way - well, sort of on my way, to running it when I was felled by a chest infection which took nearly 2 weeks out of my training. Last week I decided I would get back in the saddle and pick up where I left off. Channel my inner diesel is how I put it.. Well guys - the tank was emptier than I thought. I didn't tell you - because I didn't want to tell me - how hard I found my first 8 miler with Sally. The rest of the runs that week weren't very good either - I was just exhausted. This week I have managed a few 4 milers but really that's been all that I've been capable of. I have had to acknowledge that doing a 20 miler tomorrow would be madness and that I may well not have been able to do it...

Aarrggghhh - even as I write this part of me is thinking "am I sure? I could try?". Another part of me is so terrified of giving up (of failing, which I know it isn't but there is that devil on my shoulder who tells me it is) for fear of - what exactly? Rationally I know that I have just been ill and it has taken me longer than I had thought to recover and, as such, I have not been able to train enough to get through and enjoy this marathon. Best thing to do is pick another race in Autumn and get ready for that. Pluses - I'm in good shape to begin with (once I really leave this chestiness behind, and that is happening now) and I could take on a different plan which motivates me more. But emotionally - ha! Now there's a different game. I actually like training - I like the discipline and the structure and I hate this feeling that, this time, I have not been able to lead it to its intended conclusion. I also hate the feeling that I might have been able to - might I?

Well - truth of the matter is - I've stopped training for now and am just running my daily 4-5 mile maintenance runs. I'm contemplating entering this September's Nottingham marathon. If I did a 20 week Hanson-style training program I'll need to start at the end of this month. Maybe the best way to kick away the blues is to get stuck in again and maybe be a bit smarter this time - sleep a bit more, stress a little less. Meditate! Adam Tinkoff has been very helpful and it's certainly affecting my sleep very positively. And perhaps just take a day off if I'm feeling poorly rather than wait for the big whammy..

Anyway - enough whingeing. Tomorrow is Boston and I'm just keeping all fingers, toes etc. crossed for Steve Runner from Phedippidations who has really upped the ante on his training this year and shown admirable focus and dedication, all in his quest to break 4 hours. I'll be following him on the web and through text messages - all really exciting stuff. My underlying plan is to somehow pull a sub 4 hour marathon when I'm 39 so that I can then use that time to qualify for the 40-45 group the year after. What a dream eh!

In the meantime, hope everyone else's running is going well and stay in touch!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I asked and I received

Well, I asked for advice and you, my dear blog readers gave it. And it was pretty consistent - stop and rest! So I did. All in all I went for 9 days without running and I think I feel better all round for having done it. Lots of sleep and fluids saw off my chest infection pretty quickly and by Wednesday I did my first little loop - 1.4 miles. The weather has been glorious so it's a pleasure to get out there, and I added a few more miles on Thursday and Friday, though nothing too strenuous.

As for the marathon - I'm going to see but, in principle, I'm going to do it. Surfing around the net it seems that if the general opinion is that if you're following a long-ish program (mine is 18 weeks) you can afford to miss a few weeks. It may well affect the outcome in terms of time, but I'm not so worried about that. I'm really looking forward to running a small marathon (200 people) and running it on trails in stunning Derbyshire. It'll be so different from New York and Chicago and probably quite challenging (hilly!) so I'm not going to pressure myself to get round in a particular time. I'll just channel my inner diesel engine and keep going..

Speaking of schedules, I am, somewhat belatedly, beginning to have my doubts about following Hal Higdon's schedules. At least - in the somewhat loose way I do. The fact that there is no speedwork or strengthwork involved and only one pace run a week is not good for me, I think. I think if, in the long term, I would like to speed up my marathons a bit, I need to concentrate on those elements more than I have been doing. I have been listening avidly to Steve Runner's preparation for Boston and he has followed a quite unusual schedule this time, referred to as the Hansons' moderate consistent plan or "something of substance" which involves not quite so many really long runs (the longest is 16 miles) but instead incorporates much more serious speed and strength work and relies on "quality" workouts every day (and has you running 6 days a week). Once I've done this marathon in Derbyshire I may use their half-marathon schedule to train for a half in early autumn, not sure which one, and see what happens.

But - I'm not changing horses this late in the game and, in fairness to Hal, I could have been a lot stricter about following his schedule than I have been.. So it's into week 13 of Hal's schedule, with a 13 miler to wedge in tomorrow as I have no childcare today. I'll let you know how I get on - and thank you so much for your feedback last week - I really appreciated it all.