Friday, March 30, 2007

OK body - part 2

It's been over a week since I last posted which is kind of unusual - I really seem to be catching the blogging bug at the moment. Truth is I'm psyched by the responses - hearing from Marathon Chris and Maddy and Kevin - it's great to feel part of a larger community and it makes it so much more relevant to post regularly.

As you know I went to Berlin with my husband this week - of which a bit more later - but first - the Lincoln 10K. 4 years ago this was the first race I ever ran. Running it this year I marvelled at the changes that I made to get to that first race and was proud of myself for keeping them up. At that time I had a 1 year old and a 4 year old and had just managed to drag myself out of the lowest state I'd ever been in. I'd gone from being a sedentary, negative, heavy (85 kilos - 187 lbs) woman who had very little faith in herself to someone who ran every day, had lost 25 kilos and was getting stronger and more self-confident every day. That race was the beginning of a lot of great races to follow (to date various short races, 5 half marathons and 2 full marathons) and also the beginning of me beginning to find myself again, to love myself again (even in a binbag). We all know how easy it is, particularly as women, to feel you don't match up to a certain standard - beauty-wise, professionally or otherwise. Running has given me so much - physical strength, physical fitness, pride in my body however unlike a model's it might be, confidence and, finally, friends. I have made a lot of great friends through running - some who I've never met but feel I know through their blogs, others who I've met through running with them at my running club (like Sally and Rachel) and another who was virtual (through podcasting) and is now a real friend, Adam Tinkoff. All these people have become part of my life through running and that's a pretty amazing thing.

So - forgive the diversion - but all these things ran through my head as I ran last week's sunny 10K with Sally and Rachel. My mother-in-law was stationed along the route with my camera, ready to capture some action shots for the blog but when I ran past her I noticed the shutter was closed - and this was all I got.. I'm not even sure that is my shoe there but I'm kind of assuming ..

The race itself is a good one - flat and well marshaled - and getting bigger every year. And - who can bear the tension any longer? - I set a PB despite hacking up my lungs with a terrible chest cough all along the route. At about 8km I broke away from Sally and Rachel and went for it and managed to finish in 51:39 - about 15 seconds faster than I ran it in 2005.. One lesson to be learned though - Sally, who makes every run look like a walk in the past - was about a minute behind me. Like the half marathon a few weeks ago. I don't know why I bother to break away from her and I'm going to try to learn my lesson. If I stick with her I'll still be fine and fast..

OK then Berlin. Well what can I say? After months of all sorts of action, tension and excitement my husband and I were together, alone, for the first time and what did we do? We got sick. By the second day we got there I had to leave the Jewish museum I was so shivery and achey and sick and I went back to the hotel and slept all afternoon. The next day I popped ibuprofen and paracetamol and we had a lovely day in this beautiful and interesting city but I still did not feel great and Thursday (our travelling home day) and Friday (first day back home) I just felt awful. When I still felt terrible yesterday, and Adam had been coughing like a tubercular Victorian orphan all night we both went to the doctor and hey - we both have chest infections and so now we have his 'n hers antibiotics and steroids. What fun! I feel a lot better this morning (probably due to the antibiotics and king-size paracetamols I'm now taking) but I have now not run for a week... Which is a bit scary.

What should I do? Blog readers - this is a shout-out to you. What should I do? I'm beginning to perk up but I don't imagine I'll be able to run until about Wednesday or Thursday - I'm just too weak at the moment. Looking back, I was probably harbouring this infection when I ran that terrible 17 miler a few weeks ago. I have now missed one week of hard training (including an 18 miler) and am probably going to miss most of my step-back week's training as well. Should I just carry on or abandon my marathon? At this point in time what I think I will do - but I welcome your feedback - is get back into this easier week when I feel ready for it and then see how I do and feel. This weekend should be a relatively easy long run (13M) and I'll see how I get on with that. I would like to do this race now - I'm at week 12 of training - and perhaps, if I can push aside my natural competitiveness - I could just see if I can complete the training and do the race at an easy-ish pace and complete comfortably - aiming perhaps at 4:30 - 4:45? Anyway - as I say - feedback welcome.

Finally, thanks for all the comments. I love it!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Ok body - I hear ya..

You're always told to listen to your body - much wiser people than myself repeat this message and yet - do I hear it? Nooooohhh. Most of the time I run around like a crazy woman without enough time to think ahead, with one finger in as many pies as possible and the other one in my ear singing "lalala" to drown out all those around me who tell me to calm down. Well - for once - I think I'm getting the message.

After Wednesday's run I took yesterday off running but today - a beautiful if windy one - I thought I would make up for it by running 8 after work. But you know what - it's just not in there at the moment. I don't know why - it's true I'm tired, it's true I'm busy, but I've run through all that before - but the important thing is - I'm worn out. So - I'm going to give myself a break. I'm taking tomorrow off, running the 10K on Sunday at whatever pace feels comfortable (I can hear you saying "oh yeah right" but I'm really going to try!) and then - shock horror - I'm going to take the next 4 days off. I'm due to go on a long-awaited break with my husband - 4 days together in Berlin - and, I barely dare write this, I don't think I'll pack my running shoes.. And then - to top it off - I'm not going to make up the missed runs. I'll see if I can get back into my schedule, which should, in theory, work - I've done it after illness - and if it doesn't - then I'll make my decisions from there. Hopefully the break from running will revitalise and reinvigorate me and make me happy to be back on the road. It's not that I'm not happy running but my body is just so tired these past few days. Sleep has been a lot better - thank you Marathon Chris for the bath and the glass of wine tip - but I think I'm just going to try this.

Hope all your running is going better - let me know what's going on!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I did it - but not sure how..

Did the 17 miles yesterday but I have to say it was not a good run. Despite my new gizmo, my Camelbak Octane, which was very comfortable and produced no chafing, it was a really difficult run. I felt so tired I walked a few times (some of my miles were 12 minute miles, to my shame) and at one point I even sat down. Between 12 and 15 miles I was very much minded to give up but the thought of having to 'fess all on this blog made me determined to sort myself out. Which is interesting as I'd discussed this with Dr. Monte last week - how keeping a blog can make you stick to what you're doing health and fitness-wise. Well, without you out there in cyberspace I would have quit at 12 miles, I'm sure.

I had been listening to my iPod and after listening to some excellent shows (Phedippidations, Fitness Rocks and Running Adventures) I did about 15 minutes of teach yourself Japanese which was hilarious .. picture a sweaty woman trudging through the woods loudly ordering herself one or two beers and some japanese tea. After that the content deteriorated - some frankly completely uninteresting interviews on which didn't help my mood at all and then at 15 miles came the all-time low - actually sitting down and contemplating not getting up again. I decided to give it my best - remembering Adam Tinkoff's podcast on the 4 agreements - and took off my iPod. I then went into my running survival technique, which is to count very slowly from 1-100 and then start all over again. I did this for the last 2 miles and, although they were slow, I managed to do them without stopping. When I had finished, I was too exhausted to feel happy or proud or take a picture of myself with my new gear..

Of course, as usual I had a busy schedule to get right into - as I ran onto our front lawn my friend's car pulled up with my daughter in it - she had taken Sophia with her for the afternoon so I could get my run in - and shortly afterwards I found myself upstairs putting together a tent to go on top of my son's new Ikea bunk bed. After reading him a story and putting him to bed and passing my daughter onto my husband to put to bed I ran into the shower, got dressed and ran out of the door for a meal with a friend I hadn't seen for a long time. All lovely but too much given what I'd already done that day - by the time I got to bed last night I was shaking with exhaustion..

So why did it go so badly? I'm really not sure. Part of the reason has to be that I'm exhausted. I've also got a cold and a chesty cough which isn't terrible, but not great either. Also - despite having great new gear I didn't have any energy drink so just drank water and had a PowerBar along the way. I tend to drink some kind of sportsdrink and I think it does make a difference.. Whatever the reason, I'm a bit worried about the marathon in just under 2 months. The way I was feeling yesterday there is no way I could have run another 9 miles. On the other hand, I had some pretty slow training runs in the run up to Chicago, so perhaps I should just see how I go for the next few weeks. I have a few more major long runs coming up - 18M and 2 20M runs - so hopefully there will be a bit more juice in the box for those.. Whatever I do, I will keep you all posted and informed.

Till then - happy running and stay with it..

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring sprang - and jumped right back again..

After a week of beautiful weather, early morning runs and the prospect of spring, the weather has changed right back again.. Very cold, slightly snowy and very windy on my 6am run this morning. Doesn't bode well for the 17 miles I'm intending to run tomorrow afternoon ... However, I will be able to roadtest my new Camelbak Octane backpack - a bigger container than my waist pack to prepare me for a marathon with one (1!) water station.. Sometimes the gizmos keep me going I think..

Having said that, this morning I went out without my watch and footpod - just ran what I know to be 4 miles - and sometimes it feels great not to be measuring myself all the time, just to run for the running. Ironically, I think I ran it well within 40 minutes which makes it an unintended pace run. Oh well .. unlikely to happen tomorrow.

Other than that little to report - life is still busy and I'm sleeping marginally better. Lots going on and I'm generally too psyched to sleep so still - relaxation tips more than welcome from anyone out there. The honesty of this blog is outlined by my picture above - part of me questions my putting that unflattering picture up there but hey ho - that's what i look like when i don't sleep long and it's 6 am.

Happy running and stay with it everyone.

Monday, March 19, 2007

week 10!

Week 10 of marathon training - I'm past the halfway point. It's going fine I think.. In all honesty, I probably could have been a bit more assiduous with the training - I'm skipping some of the strength work and, when tired, am taking the cross training days off - but I did that when I trained for Chicago and it worked out OK. My first marathon training schedule (for NYC 2005) was much too intense for the standard I had at the time, and I arrived at the marathon exhausted from all my training. Roughly following Hal Higdon seems to work, for the moment, and at the moment seems to fit in with the rest of my life. Because as most runners will know - it's not always easy to prioritise training when there are so many other demands on our time and attention..

However, look at this gorgeous drawing I found on my daughter's desk the other evening. Before you think I run over bodies to achieve my goals, my daughter reassures me the figure on the ground is a doll (?). But I just think it is amazing that she sees me like this - I still sometimes can't get over that I have changed my life so incredibly from 4 years ago and yet, looking at this picture, it's real and it's happened and my daughter is growing up with an active, fit mother and doesn't even know what a chubby couch potato I used to be! So I have to say that this sort of thing does confirm that I'm doing the right thing by running and that I am entitled to take the time - even if sometimes it means I can't be with my family - because when I am with them I am so much healthier, happier and fitter than I would otherwise have been.. Not to mention that both of my children like to come out running with me (for short distances) and think that exercise is part of everyone's life. What a great expectation for them..

Finally, what a difference some sleep makes. After last week's post I promised myself it was in everyone's interest to be a bit more firm and persistent with my son and - cross my fingers - things have improved. He slept till 7 this morning and life just feels a lot better.. Which is good because I'm heading into the really hard work this week - got my 10K race this weekend and so have got to decide where to move Sunday's 17M to.. It's either going to be Friday afternoon or Wednesday afternoon, and I'm saving up all my podcasts this week..

Till then, happy running!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Too tired to run..

After yesterday's happy post had a little less of a good time today. I said that I've been sleeping badly - it's not so much the sleeping badly as the waking early that is beginning to get to me. I seem to wake up at around 5 / 5:30 with my head spinning with arrangements, plans and to-do lists. Felix has been waking up really early as well and so I'm kind of anticipating his coming into our room, so it's all been a bit exhausting. And today it caught up with me - after one lap (1.4 miles) I simply had no juice left in the box. All used up.

So what to do? Well, I've kind of accepted the early starts. I go through this from time to time and as long as I steer clear of caffeine in the afternoon and evenings and stay on the wagon, I can cope. Getting Felix to stay in his bed takes some concerted effort - hard to muster when you're tired which is how I get into these vicious circles to begin with - but I'm going to have be stricter with myself and just patiently take him back to his room until his rabbit clock tells him he's allowed out of bed (if you're fortunate enough to live a life which does not include a clock with rabbit ears and eyes which "wakes up" when the alarm says so - count your blessings and ask no further). And as for me - earlier bedtimes I guess.. I have no problem with falling asleep anytime from 7:30 in the evening but there's just so much to do! And then it's nice to have an hour to talk to my husband without being interrupted by the phone or the kids and before I know it it's 10:30 again and I'm still not in bed. So - that's going to be my strategy. I'll hopefully manage another 4 tomorrow morning. Then it's a rest day on Friday, 5 miles at race pace on Saturday and 11 miles on Sunday. It should all be do-able, provided I get some sleep...

Looking ahead got a big week of running next week - it's the Lincoln 10K next Sunday and in that week I've somehow got to wedge in a 17 miler as well. As I'm working my last few days in this temping job next week my schedule's kind of crowded but I might be able to do it on Friday after work - a couple of hours running should sort me out. And this should force me not to push it too much during the 10K 2 days later..

Finally - drumroll and general shouts of excitement - I'm going to be interviewed for the Fitness Rocks podshow! I've been a fan of the show for some time. On the show Monte Ladner, a doctor, usually picks a topic in the area of health and fitness and then reviews medical studies about this topic. The topics range from heart disease in women to the benefits of pomegranate juice and green tea - and far beyond. To me the refreshing thing about his show is that, because he discusses legitimate medical studies, you get a detailed and accurate point of view about topics which are often "dumbed down" in the media. Dr Monte is a great fan of what he calls the Mediterranean diet (by which he means, put simply, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, pulses and grains and low in salt, sugar and processed foods). If you're interested drop me a line and I'll send you some pdfs he's sent me about the Mediterranean diet and healthy foods. In addition, he's a great believer in exercise and maintaining fitness, for physical and mental reasons. A couple of weeks ago he asked for e-mails from people who have effected a lifestyle change in their life and, having gone from being an 85 kg couch potato to a 61 kg runner I shared my story with him. So I'll let you know how it goes and when it goes out!

I'm sort of nervous about it but I would like to do it because changing my lifestyle has had such an enormous benefit for my life in so many way. If listening to my story can help one person feel that they too can do it then I'm quite happy to get past my nerves. Because it's true - if I can do it, anyone can..

In the meantime, if any of you have any fixes for falling back to sleep once waking up (and no I will not do Tylenol PM and a glass of wine at 5:30 am) please send them onto me.

Till then, happy trails and sleep well (well, better than me anyway..)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Good morning

Wow! For the first time in months - it must have been since September - I went for an early morning run. I've been sleeping pretty badly these past few weeks and waking up very early (not helped by my son's sudden early risings) but I've noticed how much lighter it seems all of a sudden and this morning, while I was tossing and turning at 5:45 I thought I might as well get out of bed and do something useful. So out I went and I was rewarded with a beautiful morning and a great 4 miler. As long as the weather holds I'm quite happy to get my runs in in the morning. Life is pretty busy at the moment - all sorts of exciting developments - so I love starting with a run (in the sun?) to get my mental ducks in a row before I dive into the day...

Happy trails all!

Friday, March 09, 2007

My thoughts, opinions and ramblings these past few running days...

On Thursday, I was meant to run the route for the Lincoln 10K with my friends Sally and Rachel but, unfortunately, there was a mix up in e-mails and I ended up waiting for them for 30 minutes in a car park before setting out, very halfheartedly, into a cold and dark Lincoln by myself. I had no idea where the route was - was relying on Sally - but I ran into them after about a mile. By this stage I'd gotten so cold that I decided to turn back and head home with them and try again tomorrow. I was a bit dispirited - I'd been counting on that run - but then, clearly, not quite ready to just run the 10K route myself. Let's say the moment had passed.. Anyway - I got home and felt a bit down and was ready to pick a fight. Instead of heading towards the bottle of white wine or a bag of crisps, however, I decided that, as I had so much (negative) energy in me I might as well clean up. The house is a mess - the decorator has suddenly and unexpectedly descended on us and most rooms are dusty and chaotic. As the job has only just started, there is little I will do about the dust (who am I kidding?) but I decided to organise myself and the house. And you know what? I felt a great deal better having cleared the piles of laundry and assorted "stuff" that had accumulated on tables, counter tops, windowsills and shelves.. My head was a bit straighter as well.

Since then, the running has been good. 7M on Friday - at pace! - and 4M on Saturday - at pace again! Not a mean feat if you can see the mud I'm running in at the moment. The weight of my shoes after a run is incredible - there's a whole extra shoe of mud attached! Then yesterday 15M (again, with my seemingly indefatigable friend Sally) which went quite well as well - I was, however, exhausted by the time I was done. Thankfully we had a quiet day at home with the kids - I could have dropped down and fallen asleep at any point but managed to hold off until I crawled into bed at 8:30 for an early night. I even managed 30 mins on the cross trainer this morning before starting the day. One of the things I've been thinking about in my runs over the past days is how I'm running a hilly, off-road marathon in just over 2 months. Off-road is no problem - I live off-road - but hills are trickier. There are slight inclines on my route but there is nothing like the elevation I'm going to encounter during the race. So I've resolved to do some hill training, particularly on my cross trainer as I can push it hard without killing my knees. We shall see. I felt pretty negative about the race earlier this week - I was wondering whether I actually had it in me - but I've pulled myself together now and have resolved to give it my best. I like running races and this one is going to be so different from the earlier ones - so quiet, for one thing - that I just need to experience it. Talking to Adam has helped me sort out my attitude towards the competitive element as well - I'm not going to focus so much on a PB as on having a great race. So watch this space!

In other news, it looks like I'm going back to work! Since giving up full-time work when my daughter was 1 I have done various odd jobs (mostly web-design related) and have tried my hand at various courses and degrees but I think that, until very recently, I wasn't really ready to do any of it very seriously. Now, however, with Felix's operation behind us and the prospect of him going to school in September I'm beginning to look eagerly towards the next phase. And it looks like the universe has delivered some interesting work - perfect for me. A few weeks ago I was saying to my mother that I really would like a freelance career with work that called both upon my technical interest and my editorial interest and hey - boom - I've been given that opportunity! So I'm thrilled with that and will let you know how it progresses. In the meantime, I've been trying to be a bit more organised at home and with the kids, to free up physical and mental time to focus on the future. These are going to be interesting times for us all and I am so excited about it all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

no longer running alone

At least not all the time.. Not too long ago I did all my running on my own. I did all my marathon-training by myself, mainly running 1.4 mile laps round our farm. It was great and I enjoyed it - when you're a more or less full-time mother 45 minutes on your own every day is a pleasure for everyone. I got the chance to think, to work things out and also just to zone out - and I would often come back having resolved something I was struggling with without ever actually having focused on it. Weird but wonderful.

Recently however, I have started running with others. First when I joined my running club and then latterly when one of my friends from the running club (the extremely talented Sally) started to join me on some of my long runs. This past Sunday she joined me for my 14 miler (remember, this woman had not run more than 6 miles 3 weeks ago!) and it was wonderful. I was tired and would have really struggled on my own. I'm not sure I would have actually completed the run.. With Sally to talk to I managed. And not only that, I came out of the run with all sorts of ideas and inspiration. It was just great! I was talking to Sally about how she was doing so well at the moment and I, very carefully, suggested she might consider running a marathon in future. This is not because I think everyone should - I'm not one of those runners who only respects the marathon - but because she is so unusually gifted in her running. This is someone who would probably qualify for Boston without even trying. I know, I know - I could hate her but she's too nice. Anyway - she confessed she's already been on the NYC marathon site! So we decided we might run the 2008 NYC marathon together with another friend from the running club, along with anyone else who would like to join us. Details yet to be confirmed, but what an exciting prospect on the horizon.

And then today I had another amazing joint run. This time I met Adam Tinkoff, host of the Burning Twenty podcast and blog. I have been listening to his podcast since early 2006, when he started his quest to burn 20 pounds. His podcast is a true audio diary - you get Adam talking you through what he's done, what he's enjoyed, what's been hard and then you get his thoughts on all sorts of things that are happening to him in his life. He travels a lot and records some of his podcasts on the go (episode 52 from Sydney, for example, just transports you to the City - you can imagine the views, the people and even the smells and foods from the streetmarket he visits). His podcast, I think, really embodies the strenghts of podcasting - it's direct, it's honest and it is true. Meeting him was amazing! Having listened to him for so long I felt like I really knew him and he, of course, knew very little about me. We talked for about 2 hours (was that right Adam? I think that's how long it was) and it was incredible. We covered so many topics - from running (dah!) to other podcasts to our lives and our careers and our beliefs and views - it was so interesting. He's given me a lot of thoughts to consider on those days when I still run by myself. He's a kindred spirit and an incredibly inspiring person - it was a great pleasure to actually meet him.

And so, with very little awareness of time creeping up I find myself halfway through week 8 of marathon training - very nearly halfway there. The really hard (hitting) weeks are just around the corner now. This weekend I'm doing a 15 miler on Sunday and then a few weeks later we've got the 17, 18 and two 20 milers. How am I feeling about it? I am looking forward to the long runs - I generally do. Am I going to break any records? I very much doubt it. With one thing and the other I don't think I've given marathon training 100%. I always seem to get better towards the end - how unusual - and as long as I can get round I will really enjoy this race. Last year at this time - 5/6 months after my autumn marathon - I was still half on, half off, injured etc. - at least this time round I seem to be able to cope with the training. And with all this company I'm getting, the training is far more fun as well..

Till next time. Happy trails!