Saturday, August 25, 2007

OK - I found some mojo..

All runners should blog. Why? Because it helps. It helps when you are injured and you tell your friends and they come back and help you - not only by giving you tips and advice but by truly understanding why this injury in the middle of a training program is so upsetting to you. Right, Marathon Chris? And when you've lost your mojo - like I did - they come up trumps and bring you some. Thank you - all of you! As you can see from the shot below - and for the full ha-ha do refer to my latest post on What's a few miles among friends? - my mojo is halfway back again. So what happened? Well I listened to you all my friends. I have taken the following bits of advice to heart:
- from Adam Tinkoff on the ZenRunner - if your plan isn't working, change it. Running with my immensely capable friend Sally - who is just fundamentally and genetically faster than I will ever be - I think I have been constantly running beyond my comfort zone. When I trained for NYC 2 years ago I never trained at these speeds. And I never lost my mojo either. While it's good to push yourself, consistently going above what you're capable of is very dispiriting. Sally is more than happy to go at my pace (what a friend!) and I have decided to go down a step to Hal Higdon's Intermediate I.
- from ShirleyPerly - mix it up (one short run will become some horrible but distracting speedwork);
- also from Shirley-Perly - take walkbreaks in long runs. Now this is something she points out marathon runners frown upon and I agree - that I have frowned upon it. But maybe I needed to get to the point where my choice was "take walk breaks or don't run at all" to appreciate them. As Terry pointed out after my report on the dreadful nutty marathon that I ran without training - I walked then and the sky didn't fall on me.. This week I have not been able to get beyond 6 miles. This morning I set out for 8 and the circumstances were not perfect, I'd had some wine last night, not enough sleep and it was hot (for us thick-skinned northern europeans anyway) and I ran for a mile, walked for a minute. Well - what do you know? I not only ran 8 with an average pace of 10.11 minute miles - good, right? But I also sped through the last mile - it was my fastest at 8.21! Woot!
- a noble purpose - Susan - the wonderful inspirational and crazily early-rising wonderwoman from Arkansas reminded us all that there are people who face a bigger challenge than motivating themselves for a run. Humbling. Mixed in with lack of mojo, in my case certainly, is a degree of self-pity. When I see Elijah's courage I get a much-needed slap around the head. OK. My priorities are back where they should be.
- and last, but not least - I think we all need a powersong. Normally I listen to podcasts on my iPod and leave the music behind. But I downloaded Mika's Grace Kelly yesterday and that's what yanked me through my last mile - I was just laughing at this crazy nut singing his crazy nut song. Followed by Beyonce's audibly shaking her booty during Crazy in Love it's no wonder I pulled out that 8:21 mile - I was rockin'! And it wasn't even to Neil Diamond. I was not completely embarassing! Well - running on my own and singing and dancing while running might still have been quite embarassing it was just that nobody except the cows saw me. So that doesn't count.

So there we have it. I really hope that I am now back on track. I'll do 5 tomorrow, 9 on Monday and then do the 17 miler I missed on Tuesday. I will let you all know how I go. Thank you again for all the feedback and support. I would not be where I am tonight without you. Crazy but true. Thank you!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Where I run

Inspired by Susan I decided to take my new camera out with me today to show you where I run. I run on our farm, on tracks and a bit of road which is the drive up to our house. It's all on our land, so I'm usually the only one out there. As you can see, however, I'm not really alone though - the cows and my dog Frankie keep me company..

And then the final shot - me, the girls, and Frankie the indefatigable dog!

She is but something's missing..

Blogging silence for nearly 3 weeks - why? Well... mainly because I've been overloading myself with arrangements. One of the most common tricks in my books is to say yes to too much and to make too many (complicated) arrangements. Travelling to Holland with 2 kids just after coming back from Western Canada (long before anyone's jetlag had worn off) to visit my parents who had just come back from 3 weeks in Mongolia (!) was hard work from time to time. While it was lovely to spend time with them and to spend time in beautiful Oosterbeek, the kids were fairly full-on and demanding and my poor father was ill with pneumonia. I felt quite guilty asking them to mind the kids while I got my runs (though they did it happily) but felt very much that, apart from that, I needed to take charge and plan and manage. Tiring for all. I was quite worn out. When I came home I had to deal with unpacking from both trips and then getting ready to leave the kids with a sitter while Adam and I went off to Oxfordshire to celebrate my mother-in-law's 70th (that's her with my 2 sisters-in-law and myself at left) at a wonderful and very luxurious hotel and I then went to London to see my friend Dawn and came back for a business meeting in Lincoln. Haaaaarrrrggghhh!!!! Complicated plans and travel arrangements - I should know that when it all gets too complicated to think about, it IS too complicated. Anyway, good times were had and now we're slowly heading back to normality - school begins 2 weeks from today.

Running. Ah yes. We were going to get to that weren't we? Well.... It went very well in Holland. Since I came back, the results have been mixed. I got my long run (only 12M) last week which was fine. But with all the to-ing and fro-ing I have missed a few of my midweek runs. I've been reading other people's blogs and it seems many (Maddy and Melissa, for two) have been trying to work their ways out of some slumps (Susan, you don't count because you were ill and you HAVE to take time off then. Boss's orders..). It seems that somewhere in the middle of all the training life sometimes steps in and says, either through other commitments or through your body just being exhausted, that you can't always prioritise your running. So where am I now? Struggling to be honest. Not struggling to run - I'm finding it easy and fine to go out and run 5 or 6 miles. But I'm going nowhere fast - averaging over 10 minute miles in all my runs, 11 minute miles in my long runs. I'm beginning to wish I'd picked a program with some speedwork in it. And I am finding it hard to motivate myself for 18 and 20 milers. I went out for a possible 17 today and left it at 6. Hrmmm. Not good. What now? Well, running along today and listening to the always inspirational Zenrunner I tried to line up my options. As I see it, I have 3 (but do tell me if you think differently):
- I just grit my teeth and get on with my current schedule.
- I jump down to an easier program. Maybe it will be easier to motivate myself if I run slightly shorter distances. I might find myself less exhausted and possibly, a bit faster as well. I'm currently doing Hal Higdon Intermediate II, I could easily go down to Intermediate I.
- I don't do the marathon. While this is a tempting solution I'm loathe to do it. I'm running with my friend Sally, and it's her first. She would not have done one, and certainly not this one, without me. I think I owe it to her.

So that's where I am. All is well actually - after a few weeks of erratic and not necessarily healthy eating and drinking I'm back on Dr. Monte's track and I'm feeling fine and beginning to feel better rested. I am enjoying running, but seem to have just misplaced my marathon mojo.
If I'm brutally honest, what I would like to do right now is just run 5 milers 4 or 5 times a week and then run a 10 miler on the weekend and just stick to that for a while. But .. it's only about 8 weeks to the marathon, I've (sort of) come this far and I truly am not fussed about my time at this stage so perhaps I should just get on with it. What do you think?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

This has been a shockingly long time in coming hasn't it? It's fairly incredible but I have actually managed to break my umbilical attachment to my laptop - mostly - for a month. To some extent by necessity - I could rarely get onto a free network - and to some extent by choice - by the end of last month I was feeling swamped by everything on my plate and being online a lot was not helping..

So - I am back from my holiday and back into the swing of things. Quick lists of noteworthy things that happened in the past 4 weeks:
- had a GRRRREEAAAT holiday. We exchanged homes with a family from Vancouver, Canada and it worked out brilliantly. Better for us than for them - in fairness - as it never stopped raining in England - but still the concept is fantastic. We didn't have to pay for accommodation or car rental and so managed to have an amazing holiday and spend our money on the fun stuff. Vancouver is wonderful. I have always loved it there but I really spent the first week of our trip out there running round the neighbourhood at night desperate to just buy one, any of the houses I ran past. But my husband is a farmer and that is just not the kind of business you pick up and take with you and my kids are also so settled and happy in England - I came to realise after an initial infatuation that life, at least for the moment, is better in Lincolnshire. Having said that we all had a great time sightseeing, going to the beach and just hanging out. We even made a road trip to Victoria, Port Townsend and Seattle, where we hooked up with some old friends - it was a wonderful experience and so far away from all our daily domestic obligations and niggles. Very necessary for all.
- unfortunately, upon my return I was faced with an example of the kind of overambitious planning only I am capable of - I had booked for the children and I to go to Holland to visit my parents on a 7am flight last Thursday (we came back from Vancouver on Saturday). We made it, and have done it but are all a tad exhausted given that we hadn’t really dealt with the time change with Vancouver – 8 hours – before having to get up at 4:30 am and travel to Holland. But anyway – we’re here now and it’s lovely even if there’s probably things I should be attending to at home..
- running. My running. Well.. before I left I had definitely lost a bit of my mojo. My 14 mile run on the last Sunday before our trip was a struggle and quite unenjoyable, apart from the natter with my running buddy. Thankfully, I had started my running program 2 weeks early so this let me spread one week’s training over my 3 week holiday which was a wonderful break. I just went running when I felt like it and loved it for the sake of it. I had forgotten my footpod so I never saw how far I ran or how fast and I loved the freedom from a schedule or a given pace. Running in Vancouver was as wonderful as I had hoped – we were minutes from Pacific Spirit Park and I just loved running under the trees, snacking on huckleberries and stopping off for a delicious latte on the way home. Urban life is very attractive when you live as remotely as I do!

So – here I am – back on track and schedule in Holland. It was hard running at home in England last week because I was still so tired from the flight but I managed the week’s short runs and had to cram all the long runs in once I got here. So I ran 8 on Friday, 8 on Saturday and 16 yesterday. And – my friends – I have my mojo back! I’m not going to set any records and I stopped a few times but I managed the 16 miler in an average 11:20 pace and really enjoyed it. I’m also enjoying my new gadget, an iPod nano with a Nike+ gizmo. I was desperate to challenge Maddy and Robert Nelson last week but it took me a few days to get it calibrated and working properly. However, I'm ready now so about to extend an invitation!

So on I go. A fairly hefty week of running ahead I think but very enjoyable. My parents live in a stunning part of Holland with lots of woods and hills and miles of trails throughout. I'm going to try and take some photos this week.

So - till further notice - keep running and keep enjoying it!