Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gearing up, heading out and going naked

I’ve been blaming my lack of posts in the past 10 months on work. However, now that work has, for the time being, disappeared out of my life, I’ve been posting even less. Thinking about it this morning while I was pounding out 10 painful miles on the treadmill (of which more later) I realised that the main reason my posts have been further and fewer between is because of the demands of my training program. I am too busy running to write about it.. This does not seem to affect other Pftitzionados I know (and I am hereby, officially, coining this phrase – feel free to use and distribute) like Aron, Tara and Maritza but in my case, this is what seems to happen.
So, another post, another excuse. At least it’s a different one.

Since giving up work about 4 weeks ago things have not stopped. My daughter and then my son started their summer holidays, tax returns were due and then our old flat in London (vestige of our previous life which we rent out) was vacated by our tenants and my husband and I spent a week dealing with the revolting state our tenants had left it in. An ongoing project but thankfully it has been interrupted by our summer holiday, booked way back in February when it was freezing and cold and all I could think about was getting some heat. Well I’ve found it.

I will be uploading this post from the island of Naxos, in Greece. We are staying in a lovely hotel 10 minutes from the beach and have, so far, spent our days either by the pool or at the beach. Reading, building sandcastles, swimming – it has been absolutely wonderful to switch off. It is hot – very hot – and saved only by the breeze, well wind, that blows across the entire Cycladic chain of islands in summer. And yes, I have been getting my runs in. 12M on Tuesday was run along the coast as an out and back. 5 yesterday was not too taxing but I was dreading this morning’s 12. It was a V02 workout with 7M at halfmarathon / 15K pace. The roads are fine to run on but dusty and sandy – not at all great for speedwork – and the wind makes your speeds differ widely, depending on whether it is in your back on or in your face. So I decided to go for it on the hotel’s treadmill in its very bare gym. This being continental Europe, all the treadmills are in kms but Pfitz has helpfully started incorporating some km distances into his schedules. So I warmed up for 2K and then ran 12K at 11.5 km/h pace. Which I think is sort of the right pace. Hard to work out. It didn’t feel too painful so it was probably not quite fast enough. On the other hand I find doing any distances on the treadmill psychologically incredibly difficult so it was probably best to pitch it conservatively. I then had 5K more to run and have to admit defeat – after a cooldown of 2K I had had enough. I just cannot bear these things! Being on it for nearly 90 minutes was just about the hardest thing I’ve done in this training cycle. I find it so boring, find myself counting down the distances to the nearest 10th, and am just running and waiting for it to be over. Anyway – I’m not beating myself up too much for the >2M I missed – I ran those on Monday anyway on the treadmill at the airport hotel – and tomorrow is my first 20 miler of this training cycle so it’s not bad thing to cut things a bit shorter today. I’m taking a leaf out of all Roho’s books here – I’m going to start this run at 5:20am so I can get most of it in before the sun gets really serious.

Changing the topic, I was going to do a post on all my new gear, gearing up for Berlin. There is finally a Hammer distributor in the UK and so I placed a big order for espresso (nutella) gels and some small packets of the various different drinks etc. that they sell. However, it appears the distributor has a pretty iffy computer connection and my delivery took about 2 weeks to arrive. I was going to take a photo of all my new food and my new shoes and tights, but I got fed up with waiting and started using it all. So you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you that I’ve bought a new pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 11s which I am slowly wearing in and that my mother has treated me to a pair of serious compression tights which I’m hoping to start using in September and will certainly be wearing on the plane home from Berlin (as I’m basically crossing the finish, pulling on my tights and then getting on a plane)…

As for going naked you will be relieved to hear that this has nothing to do with my ass injury – and that’s all fine now thank you – but rather has to do with my orthotics. Those of you who have been working their way through this blog for a while know I was really injured last year and tried every possible thing to get over it. One of the things I did was go to see a podiatrist and, of course, I was prescribed custom orthotics. Has anyone ever gone to see a podiatrist and not come back with (screamingly expensive) custom orthotics? Anyhow I have been wearing these things for well over a year now, training and racing, but about 5 weeks ago I started to notice that I was really feeling them in my shoes. Then I went out for a long run and found I could not run with them at all – they really hurt my feet. Of course I did not have the original insoles in my shoes anymore so I had to bail on that run. At home, I found some insoles and started running, tentatively, without my orthotics. Would the sky fall? It didn’t. 5 weeks on and I’m running free of my orthotics. I bought some new insoles and haven’t looked back. Speaking to my osteopath about this he thinks it is because my legs are so much stronger than last year and I just don’t need that kind of support anymore. I’ve saved the orthotics but hope never to have to use them again…

Which brings me to the end of an exceptionally boring post. Sorry about that. I wanted to update you on my life and training and, for once, there isn’t too much going on. Just getting my miles in and letting things come at me – for once… The peace won't last so get ready to catch me when I next panic!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Playing catch-up

Where to begin?

I haven’t blogged for nearly 3 weeks and I find myself not knowing where to start. Running? Just running? Or all the other craziness that is going on in my life?

In the past 3 weeks I have moved house – we've moved next door in anticipation of a house switch with my in-laws – and have quit my job – or at least , as a freelancer, quit working for the employer who was providing me with the vast majority of my work. One of my children has started her 9 week (9 week!) summer vacation and my other is about to start his 7 week vacation. All this to explain my absence from the blogosphere. I was – gasp – even off-line there for about a week.

But I’ve been running. Oh have I been running. The week of the move – which was, of course, also the week that my work got so on top of me that I decided I really had to quit working this job – was not a good running week. When I wasn’t working I was carrying boxes out of my old house into my new house (we’ve moved next door, remember, so everyone reasoned we did not need removal men…). I ran 15 out of the recommended 35m and briefly contemplated a do-over week – I have given myself 14 weeks for the 12 week program so that, if needed through life, injury or illness I can have a do-over week – but decided against it. I LOVE do-overs but they have a habit of getting in the way of just-getting-on-with-its and so, as always in the spirit of the opposite of me – I decided to carry on. And sure enough – week 3 and 4 of training have been completed happily. It’s Sunday evening and I’m writing this after a 48m week. Pfitz’s revised edition has a slight r&r week this week which my legs are ready for but otherwise – onwards and upwards.

So the facts of my running are good. I’m getting the slow miles in, but also the faster ones. I managed my 16M with 10M at 8:16 which I was pleased with. I wedged in a 10K in which I placed 8th out of 60 women – not bad for a distance I hate!

As for my life – ah well. It struck me, while out on a run yesterday that those areas of my life where I have such low expectations of myself – i.e running – are those areas where I persist and do well, and where I gain a great deal of satisfaction. I also never anticipated being married or a mother, and while I would not – by any stretch – consider myself remotely perfect mother or wife material, again the lack of expectation on my own part means that I don’t generally think I do a terrible job.

The area where I have always had high expectations of myself, however, is my career. And there, I’m afraid, I have never really been much of a success. At least, not by own standards. Although I did well at school and university, I never felt I really ever hit the sweet spot – found that thing that really worked for me. And in my jack of all trades career since things have carried on in that vein. I am trying not to talk about how others view my job or career – because some of the things I have done may have sounded prestigious, and I have rarely been terrible at a job. But neither have I ever hit on professional satisfaction – a sense that I had found my place and the direction to follow.

This sounds like a complaint and it is not. I know that when I need to go out there and earn some money I can do that. Whether I make coffee or write copy – I can do that.

But I am reaching a stage in my life where I think I perhaps need to adjust my view of myself. In my teens and twenties I thought I would be a highly professionally successful, single woman, living somewhere like New York City. Instead, I am happily married, mother of 2 children, living in the English countryside. Sports never even featured as an ambition in my life as I was just too incompetent – and now my passion is running. Perhaps I am not the person I thought I was. And I need to think about the person I actually am? And maybe by being more honest about what I am, rather than what I think I am, or used to think I would be, I will be more able to find some professional satisfaction?

All very deep thoughts on a Sunday night, after a long week. But Pfitz has me running long, and a lot. And I have killed another iPod, so thoughts like these are occupying me at the moment..

In the meantime, I have the summer ahead of me, training for Berlin and Bizz Johnson, going on holiday to Greece (lots of early morning / late evening running to avoid the heat) and Holland (wonderful, beautiful woodland trail running). Perhaps all those miles will give me the opportunity to gain some insight into my muddled head.

I will leave you all with a list inspired by Oprah the Great. This I know for sure:
- iPods are not waterproof. They don’t like being washed in a washing machine. They don’t even like being stuck inside a sweaty running bra when you forget your iPod carrier.
- Running with your family is great. I made my whole family – husband, mother-in-law, and two kids come out with me to my 10K on Tuesday and we all raced – the kids in a fun-run and Adam and I in the 10K. We all loved it, despite some troubles with the fun-run on my son’s part – and my daughter won second place, a great running shirt (which she is refusing to give to me) and everyone got inspired.
- Moving house is a pain in the behind.
- You think you’re very essential to help make things happen. You leave the place you think you’re essential to and the sky doesn’t fall. 2 weeks later, everyone is coping fine without you.
- Running is the best.
I’m back in the game peeps – back onto your blogs and comments and all. Thanks for waiting around!