Thursday, December 03, 2009

And another thing

Because see, the thing is, just because I didn't blog for 4 weeks didn't mean I disengaged my brain. This is not to say I came to any earth-shattering conclusions or insights, but rather that I plodded and groped my way through my self-created slump, trying to think of ways in which to change my 'tude. I've already told you that your emails and messages and feedback were the driving force that gave me my mojo back. However, here follow a few other things I tried:
- join a running club. Well - I did join a running club ages ago - in 2006 - where I met SuperSal - but I found it hard to make the weekly meetings in the evenings. Also - to be honest - I like training alone and fitting my training in where I can. Anyway, Jonathan, my osteopath, recommended I try another local club because they do all sorts of hateful things like time trials and hill workouts and track workouts that are good for me. So I went along on a Tuesday evening 3 weeks ago. The first thing I have to say, honesty compels me, is that the coaches (yes there were true honest-to-god qualified coaches) were friendly and seemed good. The second thing I have to say is man! The English can be terrible in social situations. As Sophia used to say in the Golden Girls "picture the scene". Group of runners standing around in running gear in front hall of leisure centre (yeah) waiting for workout to start. Congregating round coaches. The clothing makes it clear who is with the running club or just there to eat the fast food in the cafetaria (yeah). New person turns up. Clearly new because no-one has seen her there before. It is clear that the other members know each other (they are speaking in groups, shooting the breeze, you know being social). So this person - not standing in a group, greeted loudly by the coach "Hi Petra, nice you could join us today!" is new. What do you do? Do you a) go up to her and say "hi, I'm x" and start a conversation or do you b) stand around staring at her but not speaking to her. If you chose b) you chose the group's correct reaction. Jeez! Anyway I haven't developed my extraordinary social skills for nothing so I worked this crowd. As we jogged to the track I struck up conversations, showed interest, expressed admiration at race times and achievements. The track workout was a dud as half the track was closed, and so this created some bitching I could in with (nothing like bitching together to draw people together). We slowly jogged back, and back to our cars. End of workout. For honesty's sake I will make the following points: 1) some people were very nice 2) I do not expect the red carpet to be rolled out for me. The question that has you all hanging on the edge of your seat is - will I go back? And the answer is ... no. And not because no-one's being nice to me. Because I'm sure, over time, the folks would defrost and I would find some kindred spirits and yadda yadda yadda all would be okay. But actually - I have done my speed workouts alone this year and like that. My Garmin keeps me honest. I'm not really that keen to ingratiate myself with a new bunch of people when what they offer is not something I desperately want or need. Call me Greta. (ref. Garbo not Waitz).
- changed my playlist. I tend to listen to podcasts when I'm out running so one of the lightning bolts of inspiration that struck me was that to change my mood I needed to change what I was listening to. So far so genius. As you may recall from aaaaagges ago Mika's Life in Cartoon motion got me through 2008 Chicago training. Mika has a (relatively) new album out (The Boy Who Knew Too Much) and as I can never get me enough sexually ambiguous madness I popped it onto my iPod. Amazing album. The guy is as mad as a snake but fantastically funny with it. And sexy. Couldn't really see that while I was running but I could think it and that helped. Did it help get my mojo back? Well - in so far as it stopped me from thinking and got me belting out songs, yes. I wouldn't say it proved the tripswitch but it helped.
- set myself goals. One of the many kind emails I received in the past month was from Gary, who I ran with at the White Peak half this year. He's quite an incredible ultrarunner and has set himself the goal of running 50M next summer for his 50th birthday. I had emailed him that I might join him on some of it and he responded by saying that my joining him really helped him get motivated. So that I needed to set myself some more goals to get me motivated. He said some more very kind things I won't embarass him by repeating but trust me - the man is a mensch. So here are some of my options:
  • run 50M (or part of it) with Gary. I could use Boston training as my leap up in mileage, and then just carry on running long runs. Part of me is quite intrigued by whether I could do an ultra. But maybe 50M is a very long way to go - and will detract from my other training goals (see below). Maybe do 20M - 30M with him? Tips / advice?
  • Triathlons. I am very close to finding a swimming club, I have been in touch with some tri gurus and I am fairly confident that, if I cross training with swimming and biking during my Boston training I can get into some sort of triathlon shape by the summer. There are a number of sprint triathlons close to me (Woodhall Spa triathlon, May 9th, Lincoln Triathlon July 4th) and then I'm quite tempted by an Olympic (or oly as I think I'm meant to call it) in London over the summer - the London triathlon. I'm not signing up to anything until I've sorted out my swimming club, but once I've done that I think I'm signing up to these three.
  • Bike ride from Arnhem (Netherlands) to Berlin (Germany). I have some local friends who bike a lot and who are tentatively planning to ride from Arnhem in Holland (coincidentally where my parents live) to Berlin. I think it's about a 350 mile bike ride, mostly on quiet roads and cycle lanes, and we'll take about 6 days to do it. I think this would be great fun to do with friends, Adam will join me, and it's one way of seeing just how well I bike (and how good my soon-to-be purchased bike seat is going to be).
  • That leaves the autumn open. Which is probably a good thing. If I pull off all the above I might be ready for a break. Alternatively there are so many decent local running races I can enter later in the year that I don't need to decide now.
- cut my hair. I am such a moron! Most people I know are really careful at the hairdresser's - an inch off here and there, stick with the same. I get kamikaze when I'm in that chair. "Go for it" I tell the hairdresser. As if a new haircut will change my life. Well it might, but probably not for the better. And in all this please bear in mind the fundamental material I'm dealing with. I have thin, fine hair. Not a lot of it. It is one of the various banes of my life. I do not, and have never had, good hair. The past few years I have employed The Opposite of Me at the hairdresser's and have been conservative, like the rest of you, and this has resulted in semi-decent hair. Good colour and a sort of shorter noughties Rachel haircut. However, in my clearly mentally diminished state I turn up at the hairdresser's and say "Go for it". What was I thinking? I came out looking like a newsreader! I have a bob! I look square! What was I doing? A week on things are a bit better. For the sake of veracity - picture below.
It's a week later now and though it's not like my hair grew a lot in that time (I wish!) I have managed to make it my own. Does it look like I am disguising my hair with a cat? Well I am. I should have put her in front of my crow's feet as well...

Okay. So what can you learn from me? In a nutshell:
- Not everyone has great social skills.
- change your tune. You might enjoy it even if it doesn't work.
- set some goals. It does work..
- don't cut your hair when you're trying to prompt a change.

Finally. I've been reliably informed that I need to post a picture of my new "ride". Be gentle with her - she's second-hand and was a bargain..
Ok. So as I'm in week 1 of Boston training - yes - I'm off for 8M with 4M at hm pace. That should be fun.. Speak soon my friends.

15 comments:

Marathon Maritza said...

Ok this was kind of a hilarious post. Your recap of the running group (blah) and your hide-the-hair-with-the-cat business made me laugh out loud! I have pretty thin straight hair too so there really isn't much I do with it. It always kind of just lays there. Oh well.

Sounds like some amazing options for training for Boston while still jazzing things up! Can't wait to hear what you do!

Miss you ♥

Road Warrior said...

I can't believe you held all these thoughts in over the last couple of weeks. It's like a Petra explosion!

I hear what you're saying about running clubs. Never quite an interest in them with the exception of staying motivated. I've found (being the introvert I am) that I do much better running with one other person. That's more than enough to keep me motivated and occupied on a run.

As for the ultra, how about a 50K first (31 miles)? The ol' walk before we run thing. :)

Meg Runs said...

I'm so glad you're back to Blogging, thanks for the comments you left on my blog...fear is huge! I've had it in many areas of my life and it's just not getting peeled off.
LOVED your thoughts on training with others and the running club. You are VERY honest.
Can't believe you're in week 1 for Boston, I just can't wrap my head around it yet! GO GIRL!

Gary Wall said...

Go bald. Remember (the late) Persis Khambatta in the original Star Trek the movie (no you wouldn't). Looking at her I think hair is overrated.
This was one of your funniest blogs. I too enjoyed the bit about clubs mainly because I went through something similar just two weeks ago. I am going to give them another try though. There's a couple of 71 year olds that run at my pace and can spit for England and can cough it up straight from the bottom of their boots. They have been running since I was knee high to a trainer sock and have some funny if not down right disgusting stories to tell. It's a bloke thing.

Runeatrepeat said...

Just found your blog :) Hair looks good, cat is cute!

TinaGirl said...

Yea, I do the whole hair thing too. I get all in a run, blue, not looking forward to tomorrow and bam... all my hair gets cut off. Luckily my hair dresser knows me well enough to NOT cut it all when I'm in one of those moods anymore. Now she just trims and says come back next week if you want it shorter. I'm usually over it by then. LOL

What program are you using to train for Boston. 8M with 4at HM pace? EEK Thats the kinda thing I have to look forward to in January. I want to do a half in March but need to keep my miles up to start training for Chicago in June! This will be my first training session BY MYSELF without Fleet Feet to help me out. I'm a bit scared!

Susan said...

There's nothing wrong with you hair!!! But I do sympathize as a fellow fine-haired girl. There's only so much we can do!

Sounds like your group-run experience was the same as when I tried that a few years ago. Should have stayed home! :)

Those are some wonderful goals you set for yourself. Let's get to it!!

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jeanne said...

your cat hair pic looks great! you'd be gorgeous bald! just be happy you're not dealing with gray yet.

I TOTALLY hear you about the running club. I've encountered that at both running clubs I belong to. I don't know if these people were BORN knowing each other or what. But clearly they are NOT interested in meeting new people. Their loss! I keep returning for more though. I'm already too much of a loner.

I love this sentence: "But maybe 50M is a very long way to go..." ha ha. Ya think???

The bike is pretty. Nice job. Good luck finding a swim club! I think triathletes are some of the nicest people I've ever met.
:)

lizzie lee said...

I was wondering if you got lost!!! I have a lot of social skills and I feel exactly the same if joining a running club. And that's why I don't do it. And to fit my runs in my own schedule (whenever I want to) is very important to me.

About your hair, I think you are exaggerating a bit, the good thing is that is winter so you can wear a hat to hide whatever you don't like!!! I wish you the best in your Boston training. Are you following Pfitz again? I am stuck with Furman. Love it too much... maybe because I am LAZY!!!!!!!

marty said...

good thin g about tri training is that the swimming/biking will really aid your marathon running .. win win situation... i remember when i used to worry about my hair lol:)

Emily said...

This was a hilarious post, esp the reference to the Golden Girls.

I am so right there on your page with BQing and the rut and the 'what's next' thing... I need to respond to your awesome email very soon!

So is this week 1 of the 18 week training program? Does this mean I should start too? Lord help me!

Irish Blue said...

I'm with Maritza...too funny. I haven't been keeping up with you and now I know why I missed it so much. You are too cute. Personally, I like the haircut and the cat's pretty sweet looking also.

I had a similar experience with my running club. The first two or three meetings, nobody spoke to me. I had to go up and impose myself on people. Now I LOVE THEM like family (highly dysfunctional family) and I think I've totally grown on them.

Irish Blue said...

Oh yeah...did I mention I'm the president elect of my running club (2012-2014 is my term)? Also, today the girl I run with actually gave me a Christmas gift...and she's the biggest cheap ass ever!! ;-) They like me, they really do.

Having said that, running clubs are not for everyone.

runningcommentaries said...

This was awesome. I was cracking up.

The only thing about a running club is that the sense of competition will help your track workouts immensely.

Glad you are spicing things up and making plans though!