Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The opposite of me - continued

2008 is nearly done. Ran a wonderful 10 miler this morning despite a few glasses champagne too many last night with my best friend Dawn. She is running London as well this spring and is returning to running after quite a few years off. So she ran 4 with me which made time fly.. So much to gas about!Now that my best buddy is marathon training our conversations have reached maximum quality - we can hop between topics like training schedules, running fuel and our more usual wide-ranging life discussions - it's truly perfect.

And as far as marathon training is going I've decided to continue with the 0pposite of me streak I've been on. For 3 out of the 5 marathons I've run I've trained with Hal Higdon's Intermediate I. It's been great but I think I've squeezed all I can out of that schedule. I want to improve and so I need to shake things up a bit. The wonderful and speedy-quick Aron suggested I work my mileage up to about 35-40 miles a week and then do the 12 week Pfitz program. I think that's a great idea - I know that Jen and Maritza use his schedules as well and think they are good. I also think that, although the Pfitz is fairly hard-core, I can retain that kind of focus for 12 weeks. 18 weeks might be pushing it too hard for me. And then my Chicago buddy Melisa also gave me some great advice from a fast and skinny runner (2 characteristics I would like, one day, to apply to myself) - speed work and hill work. So my thinking is that for the next 4 weeks or so I will try to stay anywhere between 30 - 40 miles per week mileage-wise and do 1 hill and one speedwork session as well. This way I am hoping to be ready for whatever the Pfitz throws at me in my 12 weeks of training. You were all great with your advice and ideas on training programs so any suggestions on speed workouts and hill workouts - send them right over - I SO appreciate your input!

All that remains now for me is to wish you all a really wonderful New Year's eve and all the best in health and happiness for 2009. Lots of people seem to be delighted to leave 2008 behind them but I have to say - there's been more good than bad for me and I go into this new year ready to take it all to the next level. Happy new year peeps and thank you for all your support and friendship!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

the holidays - and 2008 in review

I had this idea that I would be able to use the time off work between Christmas and New Year to catch up with myself. Yeah right! We left for Holland on the evening of the 23rd with the two children and car packed up to the ceiling with luggage, presents and a turkey (a long story lies behind this one..) and a LOT of excitement. Trying to get the children to sleep in our cabin was no mean feat - we ended up having to switch all the lights off and feigning sleep ourselves to stop the chatter... (I also believe my husband's threat to remove a present for every word uttered helped). They wake you up at the crack of dawn (5:30 am) so you don't miss the chance to use their restaurants for a sub standard and overpriced breakfast. Which we duly did - finally getting off the ferry in Rotterdam at about 8am.

I won't bore you with a blow-by-blow account of our trip to Holland but it has not stopped being full-on. The kids are excited, my father is ill (bronchitis - bad timing but I remember that one myself from last Christmas), it is my son's birthday on the 27th and my mother's on the 28th - a fairly relentless couple of days. Little room for reflection! Still - I managed to get some runs in - I twice ran a 5 miler and on boxing day I ran a 7 miler which was part of a 10 miler I ran / biked with my husband. He biked alongside me for 7 miles and ran 3 and I did it the other way round. Great fun! Then yesterday I squeezed out a very ugly 4.8 miler - I was tired and my lifestyle choices have not been, shall we say, optimal for running. I can feel that..

However, I am still, despite all other demands and distractions, working on the opposite of me. While my career plans have changed somehow the exercise proved so useful - I have ended up with a much clearer idea of what my job is and should be and have, for the first time, communicated very clearly with my boss. (Generally, in life, I like other people to guess how I am feeling and to, magically, respond as I would like them to. A fairly unsucessful strategy). I feel far less burdened down by it all and I am looking forward to some of the big projects ahead in the New year, work-wise. So, insofar as going with the opposite of me means trying to break some bad habits, I'm going to carry on with this in the New Year. Starting now.

I am not very good at reflecting on myself or the past. Instead I fill up my life so much that often it is all I can do to keep on life's treadmill and not fall off. Looking back never happens. And while there are advantages to that attitude, I think I miss the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and successes. So - let's finish this year with reflecting on 2008.

This year's worst running moments:
  • no doubt, the worst was being injured at the beginning of the year. Looking back at my approach to it (hitting it from all sides with physios, podiatrists, massages and osteopaths) I think I might have benefited from looking at previous injury strategies. Had I done that, and gone straight to the osteopath who helped me in the past, I would have saved myself a lot of time and money. Lesson learned. At the moment I am seeing him once every 3 weeks not so much because my knees hurt but more to maintain some looseness as my mileage increases.
  • and that's it really for bad running moments - there were some awful, horrible, hard runs, there were some runs I didn't complete, there were runs where I was just thrilled that it was over - but overall running has continued to be my saving in the middle of my life.
And then the top moments of running this year:
  • meeting Maritza and Jen for a run in California in April of this year. They are both wonderful people and I really felt like I was meeting friends I had never met. We had a great run despite Jen just having finished the Boston Marathon and had a delicious brunch afterwards. I look forward to hosting them when they come and see me in the UK!
  • Meeting all my running buddies in Chicago for our wonderful blogging buddy meet-up there. While none of us ran the race we wanted to race, I will never regret or forget meeting up with Charlie, Melissa and Maddy - what a wonderful experience! Every one of them an inspiration and a friend. Again - come run a race with me in the UK!
  • And all the great runs in between and after these races - the runs in the rain with my speedy-quick buddy Sally, the runs with my mother when she came to see me, the runs with my husband, the long runs on my own where I started off with a head full of stuff and came back happy and empty.
While this has not been a year of PRs for me - not one! - it has nonetheless been a great running year. I am so happy to be out there on the road. And in the run-up to London marathon training I'm happy to have managed a long run of 10M for at least the last 5 weeks - I feel ready to start training properly.

So let's head into goals for 2009:
  • At ShirleyPerly's advice I have set my goal first and then picked the race. My goal is - dum dum duuummm - to run a sub 4hr marathon. Ambitious yes. Impossible - well I guess I'm going to have to find out. I ran 4:12 in Amsterdam in 2007 and I think I can run faster with different training;
  • Change my training schedules - while Uncle Hal has been great for the past few years I think he and I have reached an impasse - I'm not going to progress much now - and I need a new, fresh schedule and some speedwork to move to the next level. I am still trying to decide between the Runnersworld sub 4 hr schedule and the Pfitz sub 55 mile 18 weeker. While I'm a bit late for that last one - it's 17 weeks today until London - I'm going to decide in the next few days or so and will just have to jump into week 2 if I pick the Pfitz. Views?
  • Run more races. I am intending to run some races in my London training and have also already signed up for the White Peak half marathon in May which Drusy will be running. I am still looking for an autumn marathon - I am thinking maybe Portland or the Bizz Johnson - any thoughts anyone? Anyone running either of these or have another autumn suggestion?
  • Eat better. Hey I had to put that one in there. The past few weeks have not been weeks of smart food choice weeks and I can feel the effect on my running and waistline. I am ready to grab myself by the scruff of the neck and sort this one out. So bring on January - I'm going to do this.
  • Oh - and how could I forget - meet more running bloggers. Consider yourself invited!
Food for thought and feedback (please?). All that remains is for me to wish you all a wonderful new 2009. May it bring you all you wish for - and more.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All change..

A few things haven't changed since I last posted:
  • it is, once again, 3 weeks since I last posted..
  • I am still keeping up my maintenance runs, managing a good 10 miler every weekend. This is a big change (bingo!) from my past post-marathon periods where I have taken it very easy between training schedules. I'm hoping a base of 20-25 miles per week will make marathon training easier.. Of which more, later.
A big thing has changed, however, which goes some way towards explaining why it's been 3 weeks since I've last posted:
  • the prospects for my freelance career have taken a bit of a downward turn. Various opportunities have become much less concrete in current climate;
  • and as a result I have decided I need to stay in my current position for little bit longer. Writing this down feels like such a climb-down. It very much felt like that. I was so looking forward to being completely freelance. However, economic necessity and practical considerations forced me to reconsider. It was not an easy decision to make, but it's done.
  • Not all is bad though. As a result of my uncharacteristic frankness with my boss, concrete steps are being taken to hire me an assistant in the New Year. The list of jobs I put together that I no longer wanted to do? That has become her job description... She's a nice person as well and I'm looking forward to working with her.
So after a tough week where I really wasn't sure which way to go (and lots of runs trying to work things out in my head) I am back at work and, strangely enough, feeling quite optimistic about it all. We shall see how it goes.

A further set-back in terms of blogging, reading and posting has been the death of my beloved PowerBook's hard drive AND the back-up drive. (For those of you not aware of this - do NOT use Time Machine to back up your hard drive. If your hard drive becomes corrupted, the corruption is copied to Time Machine.) So after an agonizing and extremely expensive week I am now the owner of a new MacBook and of a new external hard drive filled with data recovered by a data recovery firm. It's a good thing I still have a job to pay for it all ;).

It's taken me a while to get back up and running on my new computer and to get my stuff together. The inevitable race towards Christmas with presents to plan, buy and wrap, Christmas trees to decorate, parties to go to, children's school performances to go to and cater for has meants that my free time has been non-existent. I'm not too displeased with my time management at the moment but I DO feel like I'm on a roller coaster.

Running has, once again, proved a lifeline. With everything that has been going I have been managing to keep it up. I have more or less decided on a schedule for London and I hope to post about it this week. My long runs are generally decent - today's 10 miler was tough but I was exhausted so it was a real "eating the elephant in small bites" run (to paraphrase the INCREDIBLE MarathonChris). I am ready. I can see that the next year is going to be busy and challenging but running is the thread that keeps me together - that returns me to me every day and forces me to consider and check myself.

I am going to bed now and am really hoping to post more this week. I am working tomorrow and Tuesday and then Tuesday night my family and I and a mountain of presents will be taking the Pride of Hull from Hull to Rotterdam overnight (the least glamorous ferry journey imaginable, take it from me - from one horrible ugly industrial city across a rough and ugly sea to another horrible ugly industrial city) to get to Holland and to my parents - in bucolic Oosterbeek - for Christmas eve. The week pans out as Chrismas day, boxing day, my son's birthday (Maritza's birthday buddy) and my mother's birthday - 4 days of parties. Once again, running will preserve my sanity - and my waistline...

But I hope to be posting from the frontline of my life - and I wish you all the most wonderful of Christmases. May all your dreams come true.