Sunday, July 20, 2008

Week 6 - in the bag. And various problems solved..

Week 6 is in the bag.  Nearly did every planned run - yesterday's 6 miler was cut short at 1.5 miles due to my husband suddenly having to go out so I had to come in and stay with the kids.  Never did manage to complete the remaining 4.5 miles either but I did manage to get today's 9 miler in despite being very tired.  Hardly speedy - 1:34:08, averaging me out at 10:28 minute miles, but that's fine for my long run.  While running I contemplated every possible excuse for giving up but by the time I had 6 in the bag I decided I might as well finish the job, and I did.  So a victory of mind over matter if nothing else.  The kind of mental training that comes in useful... 

As I mentioned in last week's post I have recently upgraded my gadgetry with a Garmin 405.  This is what my Polar 625X looks like at the moment:

Not so good - no battery and the button's dropped off.  No use at all.  So in a spirit of financial optimism (ie slightly tipsy amazoning after a nice Saturday night out with friends) I decided I NEEDED a new Garmin 405 and 24 hours later, thanks to the ease of Amazon Prime and one-click shopping my new gadget arrived.  Lovely indeed. 

But you will note that, as Nicole from 4 feet running has reported, this gadget was not designed for delicate little wrists.  It was fairly uncomfortable actually, rubbing everywhere as I ran.  And then, while in a shop buying some hairclips from my daughter, genius struck me and I arrived at what I like to call the Hello Kitty solution.  Yes indeed that fabulously 80s accessory, the sweatband, is the answer.  And with Hello Kitty on it, to boot!  Just check out this elegant solution..  Eat your heart out Bjorn Borg.

And all this action has lead to a happy runner, even in the rain.  The joy just shines off my shiny face doesn't it?  

Have a great week on the road my friends - 12 weeks to go until Chicago! 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Not again?

No, don't worry.  The knees are fine.  I feel them, from time to time, but judicious stretching, walk breaks and preventative massages (and some painful stretches on my foam roller) appear to be keeping anything more serious at bay..  No what I'm referring to is that, once again, I'm absent from the blogosphere for weeks on end! How does this happen?  Oh yes, I'm busy at work (but have been for a while now) and I'm busy at home (what's new there?) but I was pretty on top of things for a little while there at the beginning of the year - it's the last few months that the wheels have really come off my blogging and commenting.  I'm WAY behind on everyone's posts and promise to try and catch up this week.  Man!  What's changed?  Well all I can think of that's changed in a big way is that I'm in training.  And on top of what is proving to be a more or less full-time job and the usual family / home / life stuff the days are completely full.  Packed to capacity!  Blogging just falls off the to-do list, most days. 

But not today.  Enough is enough and a 3 week silence is long enough.  Well you will be happy to hear, I hope, that I'm still on board for Chicago.  In fact, today's 12 miler tops off my first 3o mile week in this training cycle and for some time, altogether.  The week has also been a triumph in running planning after a week that was not.  Week 4 of my training program was severely curtailed by a hospital stay for my son in London.  We ended up staying the night which I hadn't anticipated and he needed me more than I had thought so I, effectively, lost 4 days of my program.  Which I hasten to say I have no regrets about - I have retained some perspective on priorities, you'll be happy to hear.  Without going into boring detail about my son what he has is ongoing but not life-threatening, so there will be more of these visits in the future.  One of the UK's best children's hospitals is in London (Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children) and he is very fortunate to be able to be helped there - but you can imagine this requires quite a lot of upheaval for us all.  Without the support of my best friend Dawn and my in-laws things would be really tough but we are so lucky with our network, both in London and at home.  And the support includes babysitting while running, when possible - due to my unexpected overnight stay in hospital I did not have a change of underwear with me, but I did have my running kit (always prepared for a run).  So I did a very Run Lola Run thing - I ran through the crowds of Oxford Street to get to Gap to get some clean underwear!  It was crazy but very exhilarating - just mad weaving through the people in my running gear and just powering on, with only my cash card in my shorts and then running back with a pair of white knickers in my hand.  I felt so much better after the run, the shower and the clean underwear! Ready to tackle the rest of what life had to throw at me.. 

And life has thrown me some good stuff this past week: 
- first - a new gadget!  Yes.  I have been running with my Nike+ for some time now but I am irritated with its lack of accuracy, the fact that the batteries suddenly die and that you generally have to deal with Apple / Nike glitches (and I say this as a passionate lover of all things Apple, and to a slightly lesser extent, all things Nike).  Just that the 10th time your iPod freezes up or you come back from a run and are told: "0 miles completed, your speed was 0 miles per hour" you get a bit frustrated..  I used to run with a Polar 625X with a footpod which I loved to distraction and which kept me well paced in every marathon I've run.  However, I wore it all the time and late last year the stop start button fell off.  I did try to get it reconditioned but it's quite pricey.  (If anyone would like to try to do it with Polar you are welcome to my kit - it's cheaper to repair than buying a 405 despite all the creative accounting I tried - I've got the footpod and the watch.  Polar needs to replace the battery and put a new button on it.  Just let me know if you're interested.)  Anyway, I decided to go for gold and buy a Garmin 405!  I had held off on Garmins before because I run under trees a lot (about 99 percent of the time) and had heard bad reports on GPS watches.  But I was reassured when I ran with Sally recently at home with her 205 and we never lost reception and apparently the 405 is even better. I have little to compare it with but love it!  Yes, of course, some glitches (not Apple compatible yet ;)) and I realise you HAVE to lock the bezel when running, but once I've managed this I'm quite happy.  I have been running with it since last week and I have to say I think it works well as a motivational tool as well.  So all in all - 5 stars! 
- and then, even better, I bought my husband a trip to Paris for his birthday with - tada - me!  So on Thursday we set off on the Eurostar to Paris (so civilised people - it has to be done) after champagne and scrambled eggs at the longest champagne bar in the world at the station in London.  An hour or two (and a few more glasses of champagne onwards) we glided into Paris and found our hotel.  We had 3 lovely days of strolling around, sitting on terraces, shopping, sightseeing and generally enjoying ourselves.  I even managed to get a required 6 miler in on Friday (instead of Saturday) and then get this - they have a wonderful new system of basically borrowing / cheaply renting bikes in Paris.  I won't bore you with these details either but let me link you to more information on this.  But..  this is Paris.  They have put in quite a few bike lines, the buses don't spew their exhaust behind them but still - Parisian drivers are not known for their courteous and moderate driving habits.  The centre of town has beautiful, gigantic traffic circles like Place de la Concorde where about 8 different "avenues" convene on one great big circle.  These great traffic circles are rarely roundabouts but instead appear to be where a high staked game of chicken is played.  The lights change - red, amber and then flash, instead of turning green, as if to say "it's up to you - you decide whether to go for it".  You find yourself moving forwards in traffic only to see another stream of traffic coming at you at a similar speed from either (or both sides).  Who gets across first?  We exercised some caution but sometimes you just have to go and trust they'll let you go in front.  Which, it has to be said, the drivers did.  I only got honked at a few times and believe me, in Paris, that is an achievement.  

Back home on Saturday night to piles of laundry, whiny children and domestic bliss - aahh how I missed it. But Sunday morning I set out for my planned 12.  I can't say it was easy - the good life in Paris does not really set you up that well for running - but I persevered and turned in a slow and hot 2:10 for my 12 miler.  Not breaking any records but hey..  I managed.  This week is a step back week (phew!) and my long run is 9 so hopefully a chance to catch my breath before I power up for the big weeks ahead.  I will endeavour to be a more conscientious blogger and commenter my friends - I haven't forgotten you, don't forget me...