An apology. Because after last week's post you probably all hated me. "Hey guess what guys I'm running really fast and far and I've lost weight - how're you all doing?". I know I know. Overwhelming smugness. But let me reassure you - working on weight and speed and distance has left some gaping holes in my life:
- this blog. Man! It has been irregular.
- my other blog which I won't even mention but which I have been hoping to resurrect for months. It hasn't been. Nuff said.
- my social life. Well as you can imagine I have just been everyone's favourite party girl. I have either been running, working, or fighting fires at home. So I haven't really seen a lot of friends, returned a lot of phonecalls, or supported you all online or commented on your blogs.
- my family. I really have, at times, put running ahead of everything else and while the theory of "finding me-time" is something I heartily espouse some days I wish I could just sink on the sofa with my kids and read a book with them rather than slog out another 10 miles. But I do it, and the guilt sits there. Also, I have been tired and distracted - working out how to get my run in some days - and I'm afraid, have not always been in my most positive mood.
As for the current state of my house and organisation - well suffice it to say I went so far as to purchase a hypnosis mp3 on how to find things (please note I don't generally "believe" in hypnosis but desperation - it's a Prada handbag! - etc.) because in my haste and tiredness I have lost rather a lot in the past couple of months. No luck so far, in case you wondered. The tape told me to "go back to where I was when I lost said item". No sh*t Sherlock! If I knew that I would find the stuff right? I'm so overloaded at the moment I don't remember my own name, let alone where I put things.. Anyway. Are you feeling better yet? Rest assured - there's plenty of crappiness, guilt, and failure in my life to make me human. And then some.
Anyway - it's finally taper time. Traditionally a time where I can right some of the wrongs committed in a demanding schedule.
After last week's post and my comments about the Pfitz taper (that it doesn't really exist, basically) I got a really useful comment from the wonderful (and FAST!) Aron. She said that she felt that the Pfitz taper didn't get you to the start line rested enough and pointed me towards Jen's blogposts about her taper before the 2008 CIM. Jen basically cut down on some of the runs in the last few weeks and after I contacted her she confirmed that she would recommend cutting down the miles, especially in the last 2 weeks. So that is my plan - especially as I'm definitely feeling a bit tired and worn out..
But first things first - last weekend was my final 20 miler before London and I ran it with the NikeTown training team. Somehow (I think through Nike+ which I haven't used for over a year) I was invited to run a 20 mile training run with the NikeTown running team (who run a running club from the Oxford Circus, Central London, shop). I was attracted at the idea of running this long distance with other people rather than on my own and to running it in London rather than my usual rural routes. So I arranged to stay with BFF Dawn (who was running her own 20 miler that day) and tag-team on childcare and arrived at NikeTown at 7:30 am on Sunday morning. It was all amazingly well-organised - they opened the store, handed out free t-shirts and various Lucozade products and set us up with pacers. We all had lanyards on with a routemap and by 8:00 we set off. With some trepidation I decided to join the 9:00 minute mile pace group - reasoning that I coudl always drop back and join a slower group if I felt it was too much. And initially, I did feel it might be too fast - our pacer was very keen and was consistently clocking us in at sub 9 minute miles for the first few. The group I ran with was not, initially, very friendly - everyone was in their own (iPod) zone and that left running Oprah here bereft of conversational company. However, it was a beautiful day and we were running through London's parks so I didn't have too much to complain about. After about 8 miles I started running with a woman who was aiming for a 3:45 in London and we started chatting. She was very interesting and engaging - had run quite a few London marathons and was a really fast runner on shorter distances (I think a 42 minute 10K PR and a 1:38 half-marathon PR). We kept running alongside each other and chatting and it made the miles fly past. By this stage we had lost our pacer but as she was a Londoner she was confident about the route. We paced each other comfortably until about mile 14 when she started to flag. I gave her some of my shotbloks but at mile 15 she told me go ahead. And from then on I ran alone. I felt strong and happy to be out in London on such a beautiful day and (fairly) confident I could find my way. Nike had posted marshalls at all the major turns and I would just shout out at them "which way" when I saw them. At times I had to fight my way through traffic or tourists - particularly around Westminster - but I managed to get back on pace each time. By about 16 miles I could feel the mild beginnings of cramp - it was a warm day and my fueling strategy was a bit shaky. A few shotbloks clearly had not been enough but I didn't feel I could take any more in board. I was comfortable at my pace - 9:00 minute mile, more or less, depending on the trafic lights - and had the strange feeling that this was the only pace I could run. I couldn't speed up or slow down and was actually surprised by the sight of the finish line - it arrived before I anticipated it - brining me in at 2:55. 2:55 peeps! That's below a 9 minute mile! I was so delighted with my time and my pace - overall it proved very consistent throughout the race - and, after a cinnamon roll and a coffee at the Nordic Bakery - headed back to Dawn's for some childcare and to await her return from her 20 miler. Given that this is her first 20 miler she was quite nervous about it but she managed a sterling effort of 3:40 and was amazingly perky and happy afterwards. To celebrate we went out for dinner in the evening and shared a bottle of wine. You can't always be on the wagon...
So onto this week - the first week of the taper.. I went out for 8M with intervals on Tuesday morning at 5:30 am and guys - I wasn't feeling it. I was exhausted. I was nowhere near the 5K pace I needed to be hitting. After 2.5M I packed it up and went home. Wednesdays 5 miler was ok, and Thursday I decided to pick up the intervals from Tuesday and I incorporated them into a 6 miler. This time I hit the pace fine. 4M easy on Friday and then today's 16 miler, in the spirit of the taper, got downgraded to a 13 miler. A very slow one. Tomorrow I am technically due to run a 8-10K warmup race and I have toyed with running my own 10k. But I've got a big day ahead tomorrow and staying in bed for an extra hour might be the right solution at the moment - especially as I'm still exhausted.
We are going on holiday tomorrow. As a family. Camping. At Fforest in Wales. I anticipate it being fun, off-the grid, granola-time with the family. Wet as well. Wales is the wettest part of a very wet country. But it doesn't really matter when you're sea-kayaking in a wetsuit to spot the local dolphin colonies (Monday morning) or coasteering (Wednesday morning). I've told them I'm running a race in 2 weeks and will not jump from high rocks - I think my son and I will be swimming round a lot of the coves. But we all need a break - from our schedules, from our phones and from our lives. So I'm bringing my running kit and just going to run as much as I feel like - which, knowing my anal personality, will probably be close to what I want to be doing 2 weeks away from the race - aiming for about 18 miles before the weekend. I think it will be good to get out, step away and get myself mentally psyched AND in perspective for London.
Finally. A minor but very positive point. Hammer nutrition has JUST come to the UK. Previously friends have smuggled bottles of endurolytes across the borders (yes along with bags of dark chocolate M&Ms) but now we can get them here! So after Sunday's near-cramps I ordered a bottle of endurolytes AND a box for HammerGel espresso gels. So far, in training, I have run with Shotbloks but though I can tolerate them well, I don't feel they do much for me either. I tried these things out this morning and I can't believe it. They are actually delicious! I would eat them for a snack! It's basically Nutella! Which US readers may not get but I can tell you I don't even have a tiny taste because it so delicious. It's basically butter with chocolate and hazelnut in it. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
But now it's good for me! I can't believe it. This is a happy day. Which throws up a race-day quandary. I tried this stuff out today on a 13 miler with no adverse effect. I will take it out on next week's 12 miler. Do you think that's enough of a try to check that there are no adverse effects on race day? I have never reacted badly to a gel - I just tend to find the fruit flavours hard to take on by mile 18. But I've never been sick or felt any of the other common side effects.. Thoughts and opinions please - let me know what you think.
OK. I'm going to sign off. I'm exhausted and not packed yet. I will see you all on the other side of this week where I will suddenly magically have gained the insight on how to be so effective I can pack everything I want into this life. Till then - all tips are welcome. Oh and I will catch up with you all. I promise!