Sunday, June 22, 2008

Consider myself


Just about everyone has done this meme, but even when late to the party, I like to join in..  So here goes: 

How would you describe your running 10 years ago? 
10 years ago I only ran into the pub / restaurant / out to get more wine..  Or cigarettes.  Or at least to eat something, anything, with chips / fries on the side.  

What is your best / worst race experience? 
There is something pretty amazing about every race - I'm always amazed to be there at all.  I get quite happy in races - goofy smile, I talk to everyone - I'm just so excited that I, Petra, am there.  You don't get this do you?  I Petra!  The fat slow one.  The one who truly never got picked on any team, anytime, at school.  I, Petra, am running a race. To me, still, every word in that sentence should be in bold.  

I haven't really had a terrible race experience but running a marathon I hadn't trained for was challenging at times.  It was a small field, and I came 2nd, or third to last.  But more than anything, that race hurt.  It hurt my legs, my back, and my brain.  It taught me there is merit in training, not just to get faster, but also in letting you enjoy your races, being prepared...  But ultimately, I still felt fantastic when it was over.  And the home made bacon sandwich I ate at the finish will forever remain in my mind as a top, top meal... 

What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running? 
That it's okay to run slow.  That bit of advice, given by John Bingham, in a slimming magazine I picked up when I was at my mental lowest point and physically heaviest (non pregnant) point - turned things around for me.  I had never run because I wasn't fast.  The realisation that that didn't matter opened the door for me and set me on the path to where I am now.  

Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know. 
I'm an open book guys - you know a lot about me.  One thing that you don't know because most of you haven't seen me as partygirl is my partytrick.  I can put my fist in my mouth.  Make of that what you wish - and don't go asking for video evidence.  Buy me a beer and we'll see what happens.. 

I'm just working my way through everyone's blogs at the moment and will post my own update later tonight (I hope).  All's well and ticking along.  Fairly mild weeks, these first 2, and its suiting me fine.. 

2 weeks in and going strong...

I've just reached the end of week 2 of my Hal Higdon Intermediate I program.  Because, yes, I've taken the plunge and booked my flight - Chicago, here I come!  Via a very long and winding trip (Humberside, Amsterdam, Detroit, Chicago) I arrive in Chicago on the 9th of October and head back via the same route on the evening of Monday the 13th.  So those of you going out there to run - I'm there and looking to meet up with everyone! 

And so the training has an edge now as well - I have made the financial decision to go, now all my body has to do is follow and train.  And so far, so good.  Admittedly, the first two weeks are not too high in mileage and although I had to miss a run last week because of the most unbelievable streaming cold (can you believe it?  In June?) I managed to get every run in this week.  I went out for 9 this morning with Sally which was great - just like old times.  Except for the fact that my former protegee has completely overtaken me in fitness and ability..  Remember this woman who, in February 2007, joined me for her first ever 10 miler?  And who very quietly and underconfidently trained for her first marathon in October and then helped me get a PB?  Well this wonderful woman ran Edinburgh a few weeks ago and despite her fears about running it alone and some major major stomach upsets along mile 22 (which slowed her down considerably) she went round in 3:51:41 - a time I can only dream of.  What a woman!  And there's no slowing her down - she had a tough week at work this past week and unwound with 10 yesterday before joining me on my leisurely 9 this morning.  Honestly!  If I didn't love her I would resent the hell out of her, but believe me, it's impossible to do so.  She is just such a lovely person, you really do wish her the fastest possible times (most of the time - and it would be great if she could just pass me some of whatever juju it is she's got going).  So here's an old photo of us together at our first race, her first half marathon and the first time she pushed me to a PB.  and may there be many more to come - though somehow I doubt it.  She has just herself out of my league I fear... 

In other news - the ongoing saga of the knees - all seems to be under control at the moment.  Plenty of stretching, walk breaks in my long runs and some painful sessions on the foam roller ( just like Akshaye ) seem to be doing the trick.  Back to the osteo this week and a bit more acupuncture as well - it didn't seem to make any difference last time but apparently you need more than one go to see if it works.  So I'm going with that for the time being.  The way I see this developing is that, hopefully, with a bit of tweaking and loosening from the professionals, my knees will be happy with the slowly increasing mileage and not go insane again.  We shall see! 

Finally - I am fast beginning to realise that the real enemy of my schedule is not my knees (thankfully) but the encroachment of the rest of my life.  Work is incredibly much busier than it has ever been in a previous training cycle and the squeeze that puts on the rest of my life, never mind my training, is taking some adjustments.  Right now I'm intending to plan ahead - I can see some obstacles up ahead and I'm just ducking and diving, switching training days and commitments around to get (most of) my training in.  Next week I'm off to London with my son to hospital - nothing as serious as the last time around but nonetheless pretty intense and unpleasant.  I hope to get a run in - running saved my bacon last time round - but won't beat myself up if I can't.  

So no shocking news for y'all - just an update to tell everyone I'm back out there and training hard - so someone book Giordano's for the Sunday night!  (I don't think we can justify that the night before, do you?)

Stay healthy, stay happy, keep running... 

Friday, June 06, 2008


As promised, though once again a few days later than I intended... 

OK - chapter by chapter:
The knees.  The knees are doing well.  I've just come back from my friend, the physio who is also an acupuncturist.  Very interesting.  In her view, the problems stem from my Q-angle, something I've long suspected.  My kneecaps are very high, which is just how they are, and if my quads get tight (which they are prone to do because they are strong and I don't stretch enough) they pull my kneecap up even further.  Overpronation further exacerbates the problem.  To my relief she thinks that basically everything and everyone I've seen has helped - the physio stopped me from running when I might have really injured myself had I carried on, the podiatrist has dealt with the overpronation, the osteopath has loosened the tension around the kneecaps.  Now I just need to keep stretching and make sure that I don't let the area under the kneecap get inflamed again.  To aid the healing of the minor inflammation that is still there she then used acupuncture.  I won't go into further detail about why this is thought to work, but will just gross you out with a picture of the procedure..

The white ones (which you can't really see very well) on the inside of my knee hurt - the rest was fine.  I'll keep you posted on the situation and whether it works. 

The running is good.  Last week in Holland I managed 19 miles comfortably and then upon my return I ran a 10 miler.  I'm babying my knees - I ran 1 mile, walked 1 minute - but still got round in a respectable 1:43 which I'm very happy with.  I stretch my quads well after 1 mile and do a thorough stretch afterwards and, so far, I'm fine.  Check me out with the girls below and then in my ice bath afterwards (with son hamming it up).  This week has not been great, purely for time reasons but I'm hoping to go out and run 8 later this morning and then see where I am. 

Camera Charles asked me which camera I use - I have a Canon Digital Ixus 75.  They seem to bring out a new model of this one every 2 months but it's a winning formula.  I've had some really high end cameras in the past but I really wanted a light point and shooter and this one does the job.  The video on it isn't half bad either - certainly suits the purposes of what I need.  I bought a small case with it (LowePro) and it hooks onto my fuel belt when running and honestly - I am very very happy with it.  It's also survived a few run-ins with mud, rain and the road and seems none the worse for wear. I highly recommend it for running bloggers.  I'm very trigger happy at the moment - this is me after a very wet run on Wednesday night.  Don't you call me a fair weather runner!

Training program Thank you all so much for your input re training programs.  I have really listened to what I've heard and have decided, on this occasion, to not go for Furman.  I am too concerned about the effect of the fast work on my knees.  I am very tempted by Jeff Galloway but time (which is ever dwindling) is running short and his programs are 29 week ones - a bit late for that I fear.  Mulling things over I realised there was a great big elephant in the room of my considerations - my ego.  In all fairness I should still consider myself "on the mend", not "recovered".  Yet when I read about the mileages some of you are clocking I think "I want this too!".  I have given myself a severe talking to - my objective, in this race, is going to be to get to the start uninjured and be in a position where I can get round uninjured.  At this point in time I really need to force myself to not think about PRs or even course PRs.  Just get round comfortably without doing any lasting damage.  And added to this, this is the first time in my marathon training that I'm also working a lot while training.  Time is in so much shorter a supply than it has been before.  I'm only just beginning to realise what the impact on my life is and, while I really enjoy my job, I'm having to acknowledge adjustments here.  I'm getting some more help in the house (why do we women always want to do it all ourselves until we collapse? Side issue here, but still) but still time will be limited and energy levels as well.  I'm focusing on diet this time as well - not so much to lose weight (though I would not complain) but more to give me energy and strength and support me in everything I'm trying to accomplish in the next few months.  

So after all that, after all the houses I've been round, I'm going back, cautiously, to old uncle Hal's Intermediate I, with the following adjustments. For the time being, I'm doing the long runs with walk breaks. And I may replace one of the shorter runs in the week with cross training.  Tomorrow is Week 1 so I'm going to set up my Buckeye Outdoors schedule and will link to it from here as soon as it's organized..  

So that's it folks - training starts tomorrow.  On your marks, get set, GO! 

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Come run with me

WHOA!  It's hard to blog every week!  I can't tell you how many blog posts I make up in my mind as I am driving to work or walking down the street but to get to my desk and actually do it - there always seems so much else on.  But last week we took a break and for my children's half-term we went to Holland where I grew up (in part) and where my parents still live.  My children love it there - country bumpkins that they are they love being in a small town where they can cycle everywhere and where there is always so much happening.  My parents spoil them and everyone has a great time, with quite a few pancakes and pickled herrings thrown in.  I love it because apart from the family and friend time, the running around where my parents live is just gorgeous.  Most people picture Holland as quite flat and bare, and quite a bit of it is, but where my parents live the landscape is rolling hills and dense woods, and there are an endless amount of trails, paths and riding tracks for me to run on.  I never set out on a fixed route and just love the situation of following a trail to see where it takes me.  I wanted to take you all with me on one of my runs and after I went out with a dead camera on the first day (flat battery) I got my act together and took some photos.  The weather was not amazing, but still... I had good run.

And now I'm back and it all seems to have gone so quickly!  And there is so much else to blog about - that's for tomorrow night!  Wanted to get the pics up before they became antique.. More to follow!