Monday, January 25, 2010

Yadda yadda yadda

So I could sit down this Monday evening and give you all a blow-by-blow of everything that's happened in the past few weeks. However - the thought of doing that bores me rigid and I think that means it an even more tortuous prospect for you all. So I'll sum things up for you in a few bullet points. I could do a powerpoint presentation - but again, I'm saving you all.
  • Our skiing holiday was FABULOUS. Fabulous. Fabulous. The hotel is incredibly amazing. The staff warm your boots up for you in the morning, there is a ski valet, they take your boots off when you come back in the afternoon, there are hot tubs and morning yoga classes and oh everything is amazing. Nothing is cheap - though occasionally things are free, like yoga - but oh boy is it nice.
  • Skiing is FABULOUS. This was my fifth ever skiing holiday (yes, I know, I grew up deprived. No, silly. I grew up in the tropics). And my running is making me a good strong skier. I love it. I absolutely love it. I took lessons for 2 days and just cranked it up a notch - I could have stayed all season. In fact, I am brewing a plan to move to Jackson Hole for a season when my kids leave home - rent a little condo and just ski all winter. I am entirely serious about this plan, actually. Anyone care to join me in dreaming about becoming a skibum?
  • My husband is fabulous. He just is. Taking some time away from everyone else made me just re-appreciate (is that a word?) how fabulous he is. He is just a great, wonderful, kind, funny, intelligent, loving, lovely, handsome and fabulous man.The fabulous man skiing Grand Targhee (we took a day trip to Wydaho..)
  • I did what you're meant to do on a holiday but what I so rarely achieve. I relaxed and I sat back and I evaluated my life and worked out what was and wasn't working for me. Marriage and motherhood, you will be relieved to hear, are still working. But I've decided to make a change in one aspect of my life (hey it's still January and anyway I resolve year-round) I am a worrier. Not a warrior, a worrier. I fret. I agonise. I lie awake at night and go over things, over and over and over and over again and nothing good ever comes from these sessions. The small amount of insight I've gained over many years over worrying is that nothing is as bad as it seems at 4am. But that doesn't stop me at 4am. I want to do something about that. I've spent a good 25 years fretting. I'm bored with myself. So what am I going to do? Well, one evening while I was putting my feet up in the relaxation suite (told you it was fabulous) I was reading a magazine which recommended meditation as a way to let go of persistent thought patterns which you know are doing no good. And I have thought about meditating in the past - I even bought a CD course (Guided Mindfulness Meditation by Jon Kabat Zinn) last year but never got round to doing it. And so I decided that I was going to devote some time to this. I'll keep you posted.
  • Another decision I made was that, for the time being, I am not doing triathlons. Wait, wait, wait! Before you jump in listen to why. Fundamentally, I am just loving running too much to want to divert my attentions elsewhere. I am enjoying my bike - I have found a buddy to go on Monday (cross training) bike rides with and I am really keen to make more of that - but I don't want to race my bike, or self, yet. And the same with swimming. I really like the swimming club, I want to go regularly but I don't want to race yet. After years of plodding I am getting somewhere with my running and I have a few more things to do there before I need a break from it..
So that's all good right? I'm feeling good. Old-time readers of this blog will remember that last time I came back from skiing and went running I injured my knee and was out of London and out of running for months. This time I kept up my running while on holiday, though I had given myself time off my schedule. And as soon as I came home I got straight back into it. The earlier runs were hard last week - jetlag was pretty brutal - but I managed a 50M week. 12 weeks before Boston people - that feels good. My 18 miler was particularly interesting - at mile 13 I lost the will to go on but I inadvertently started up a podrunner mix and it made a HUGE difference. Last 5 miles were the fastest miles in the run! I love me my podcasts on my long runs but it was really good to know to leave those mixes on the iPod - clearly they can move me when nothing else can.

Righty-oh everyone - it's off to bed I go. I am exhausted and heading into a 55 mile week this week - my first 20 miler of the schedule is somewhere in there. And finally - this one is for Jeanne who says nothing happened if there is no photo - this is me out on my bike ride this morning:
Forgive the fugly face there - it's Monday morning.

Finally finally finally - I am WAY behind on blog comments and emails. It's all going to happen, I promise. See you shortly!

Monday, January 04, 2010

And to start 2010 we will be serving you, Madame, a large serving of .. humble pie!

Hrmmm. Well. It had to happen. I've been in Boston training now for 5 weeks and, overall, things have gone very well. I've not been ill, I've not felt low, I've managed to get most of my training in. This despite all the upheaval in my schedule that Christmas time brings (there might be a type A in me somewhere after all?) and the fact that it has been unseasonably (but appropriately, I guess) cold and snowy and icy. Last year's YakTrax and a degree of caution have dealt with most crises.

However. After a good week of training - I got all my workouts in, completed 1800 miles for 2009 (first year I've ever tracked my workouts to this extent), did my first duathlon (of which more later), I went out for 16 yesterday with 12M at racepace. As there was fresh snow on the ground I was a bit conservative on my pace - I find that I brace myself a bit when I'm on snow / ice so I can't hit the faster paces - but nonetheless I warmed up for 2M and then did 5.5 faster miles. And then I ran into a friend who I hadn't seen for years. I stopped to chat. And 20 minutes later, when I set off again, I was frozen. I had dressed myself to run in the cold - tights, long sleeved shirt and a wind-proof jacket. However, standing still for 20 minutes in the -2C temps had frozen my sweat onto my body (nice!) and I could not get warm. My hands were freezing and my body would not warm up. I ran another mile or so and then did what I have never done. I phoned my husband and asked him to come and pick me up. And I slowly jogged back down the road to meet him.

Yes I know. I had to stop because I was cold. I can't quite believe I was that dumb though! I should have just waved and carried on! Anyway. There you go. Lesson from the dumb - don't stop and chat when you're all sweaty and it's below freezing.

So - rewind to December 31st - my first duathlon. As you all know I bought a bike about a month ago. However, due to snow and ice and training for Boston, I have only ridden my bike three times since buying it so to say I was ill-prepared was understating it. However, I decided to up my chances of doing well in the ranking by bullying my best friend Dawn, who hasn't run much since last October and hadn't biked in about 18 years, to do it with me. On Adam's mountain bike. I basically lured her with the carrot of 3 child-free hours in the car and the stick of a recent family Christmas crisis that had left me battered and in need of friendship and TLC. Dawn's attitude to the whole day was comedy. We set off at 8am on our 1.5 ride to hilly Derbyshire, Dawn wearing an old pair of tracksuit bottoms (henceforth known as her comedy pants) and arrived at this sweet little village social club (a very English institution, almost completely died out, but in this little village STILL the centre of activity). The organiser, David Denton, organises masses of local races to raise money for a charity he runs in Kerala, India and the local population in Derbyshire is clearly very supportive. However, the local population in Derbyshire also happens to be incredibly fit. We turned up with our comedy pants and mountain bike to find everyone else had snagged the bike rack AND looked incredibly serious. We were the only two people without padded pants (and this may well be the only situation where you can say that is a bad thing). Top to toe lycra. All in one suits. Serious, very expensive bikes. Seriously skinny and muscly looking people. Which kind of deflated the tension - it all became about comedy pants for Dawn and I. The race started with a 2.5 mile out and back run - most of the runners were faster than I. (Dang! I had hoped I had some advantage!). Dawn and I high-fived at the turnaround. 2.5 miles in 20:13. Then I hopped onto my bike for a 9 mile bike ride. Oookay. As soon as I got onto my bike I realised I didn't know how to work the gears. And a big hill was coming straight up! I powered up it and braked down the other side. This became the pattern, until I hit the 800m climb. Yes half a mile! With traffic zooming past us I was pedaling heavily but still overtaking people. As I overtook one rider he shouted out "Use your gears!". Almost tearfully I shouted back "I don't know how to!". He started shouting at me which wheel the gears should be on and I could see the wheels on my gears but had no idea what to do. About 100m from the top I accidentally squeezed my brakes and my gear pedal at the same time and bingo - that's how you switch gears. Ok. After that nasty hill I took it easy for the rest of the 9 miles cruising back into Milford (total bike time 42.46) and wedged my bike past all the folk who had already finished (sheesh!) and put my running shoes on for the final 2.5 mile run. At which point I realised I was starving. Famished! I had thought to bring a bottle of water but no food. I limped through the next 2.5 miles dreaming about jelly babies, and finished the last leg in 21:57. And just before coming in, I saw Dawn come running towards me, starting her last leg. I had been worrying about poor Dawn, out there riding a horrible hill in comedy pants on a mountain bike. Totally relieved, I grabbed a piece of toast to deal with my ravenous hunger and then I jogged out on the course to go and bring her in. We finished her race, bringing her in as number 42 of 44. I was 37 of 44 - but neither of us minded. I was thrilled to have done my first duathlon, and Dawn was thrilled to be alive. And to prove that she truly is my great friend, she like me had spotted the farm shop on our bike ride and so, as soon as we had loaded up the bikes, we drove to the farm shop where we pigged out on bacon sandwiches and bags of sweets which we ate till we felt sick on our home.

And so and so. A somewhat messy start to the New Year but nonetheless - it has started. I have an easier training week this week. And on Thursday, Adam and I head to Jackson Hole for 8 days of skiing. I cannot wait - I love to ski. But bearing in mind the running injury I sustained last time I skied - tight quads led to knee pain - I have decided to run on a treadmill while I'm out there AND treat myself to a massage. And I've booked an appointment with my osteopath as soon as I'm back. Training-wise, I built 2 extra weeks into my schedule so I could run off schedule while I was out there and take some days off when I return to deal with jet-lag.

Happy new year to all of you!