Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new - give it to me 2011!

Hope you had a good Christmas? We did - we started off the holidays with a Santa run and have been charging through the weeks ever since. And almost before I realised it - in the brief breather between Christmas, boxing day, Felix's birthday (December 27th) - and New Year - it's the 31st!

2010 was the year that did not go as planned. Har dee har har I hear you laughing - life's like that - and I knew that, but I don't think I really knew it. So 2010 came along to make that point to me. You all know that at the very last moment I found myself unable to travel to Boston to run the marathon there. It was an enormous disappointment which to some extent overshadowed my feelings about running for a long time afterwards. You may also have gathered, through my frequent cryptic references, that 2010 has also been a very challenging year for me on a personal and emotional level.

Yet, as I lie in bed thinking about everything that has happened in this past year, I feel that both experiences, unpleasant as they were at the time, have been instrumental in pushing forward personal growth and development. I joked about it at the time, but failing to get to that starting line in Hopkinton really did force me to surrender to the universe. I am not always in charge. And I was able to use that experience when things got rough on personal level - where in the past I have always tried to "fix" things and problems, I realised this summer that sometimes you must let things be as they are with people as well. Actions have consequences and instead of always trying to undo them or change them, sometimes you just need to let things unfold as they will. Oh big stuff, I know, and hardly stuff I'm done figuring out. But I do feel happier with where I stand, and stronger for battling through it.

And my running? This has not been a year of PRs or medals. My Boston training cycle was mixed - I was exhausted for a lot of it. I abandoned my training for the Nottingham marathon due to exhaustion presumed to be the result of anemia. I ran very few races. But it has been a year where my training, however unsuccessful at times, has proved a mainstay and an anchor. Having something to do, a goal to achieve, however unrealistic at times, has helped me through. And on. And in the course of this year, I also discovered how much I enjoyed biking and swimming. My progress in both areas is slow - I am still taking swimming lessons and my bike has not been out for a month due to the diabolical weather - but I have signed up for the London triathlon next summer and will be out there training for that AND my London to Paris bikeride as soon as I have finished Boston.

And let's just talk about Boston for a minute. Training for Boston is going well. I have said it before and I will bore you with it again - I love having a coach. She tells me what to do - I do it. When I panic - which I did earlier this week because I was worried I wasn't exhausted enough by my training - I email her and ask her whether I should panic and she emails me straight back and tells me no, I'm fine, I'm building a base and some speed, and the long runs are ahead of me, and then I stop panicking because, you know, she's got a plan for me! She knows what she's doing - I just need to continue doing it. And the logistics for Boston have fallen into place as well. I didn't want to blog about it any earlier for fear that my kids might read this and realise what that dastardly Santa had in store for them but our big Christmas present this year was that on April 5th, we will all fly out to Orlando for 10 days (with ALL that entails, including, I hope, some running with my Florida peeps) and then on the Friday before the marathon we will fly up to Boston and squeeze into one room at the Lenox Hotel together and my kids and husband will be able to cheer me on in the race - how cool is that? They would have been unable to join me this year, so this definitely makes running it in 2011 extra special..

There is so much to look forward to in 2011. Not just the races and the trip with my family, but I am also turning 40 and am looking forward to it. It's a milestone and I'm so happy to be heading there in good health and spirits and with so much good fortune in my life. I'm not sure yet how to celebrate it - any suggestions welcome. If you can include some travel and a race, all the better!

And last but not least - you all have made 2010 for me. You, my blogging buddies, are real people and real friends. Your comments, views and insights have been invaluable. I was lucky enough to meet some of you this year and hope to meet many more next year - either in Boston, Florida or maybe here?

Merry new 2011. May it bring you ALL you hope for. And come run with me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Poop - or love from Minnesota.

Ah. I see the Minnesota Moose Poop has raised some comments. You're just jealous because you want yourselves some love from Minnesota! Shame on all of you potty brains - the book is amazing (and it's not too late to get Amazon to ship it to you - consider this my offer to send a loved one a helpful hint email)! Anyway - I just thought I'd delve a bit further into the poop - for journalism's sake.
Forgive the rather bad photo. Check out the link above for a better shot of the packaging.
yes I know you need to hold your computer in front of a mirror to read this. Let me help you, it says "Certified Fresh from the Producer" (so far so worrying) and then the magic words "Chocolate Panned Peanuts".
Poop in mouth (never thought I'd post that sentence on my blog)
all done

Have a good weekend's running all of you!

Secret Santa delivers early!

A few weeks ago I entered the lovely, lovely Jill's Secret Santa gift exchange - as I don't work in an office or with colleagues (that makes me sound fun doesn't it?) I feel deprived of this particular Christmas tradition and it seemed that having this giveaway between runners and triathletes would be a better guarantee than usual that you'd actually end up with a good present. I was not wrong! Santa is obviously not as flummoxed by snow and ice as Amazon has been and got his present to me early, all the way from Minnesota The North Pole! Julie (of Julie's Running blog) Santa apologised for spending more than she should have - a first for Santa - but said she just had to get this for me! Wonderful, wonderful Santa. I documented every step:

brown paper packages - exciting!

beautiful pink tissue paper - what a lovely touch Julie Santa!
And then this - a wonderful new running book AND some Minnesota Moose Poop!! I love it Julie Santa - thank you!

And thanks also go to my lovely friend Jill who set all this up. As you can see, organising it was VERY strenuous but she (with the help of Tara AND chips and beer - everyone KNOWS that stuff helps) managed to set it all up and what a great idea it is! This is just what I needed to say goodbye to the Grinch who has been living in my head this past week (not enough time, not enough money, too much )(*)&*&^*%&^% Christmas music, too many people in towns, what's with this traffic?) and to move into a mood where I realise it is a wonderful time of year to stop and think warm and fuzzy thoughts about the wonderful people in my life and all the joy they bring me. I would wish you a Merry Christmas but I won't - there's more blogging to come before then. Enjoy the weekend though - I've got my long run in already (haha!)......

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Okay, okay - I need very little - NO - excuse to post this video. Man, I love it! We European Gleeks have been deprived of Glee Season 2 until January which means that we will be watching the Christmas episode around Easter. Baaaaaaad timing! But something tells me I will still enjoy this delectable number JUST as much then. Anyway. Let's move on.

So! I was going to tell you all about training for Boston with my coach. But things got derailed there for a little while. Because, Baby, it HAS been cold outside. It's still cold outside. Last week, after I put up my post of a snowy run, the weather went totally crazy. We rarely get much snow here in England, and then, overnight, we got a foot of the stuff. The country - at least our side of it, and those who live north of us, shut down. Schools closed, roads closed. It was unbelievable. My husband has a 4X4 and spent some very stressful days making sure that the milk from our cows - vast quantities of the stuff - could be collected every day and that his various other businesses could stay operational. In the meantime, my son and I were stuck at home. I ran - a bit - but the snow was so deep that even my yaktrax were useless - snowshoes would have been the only option. I managed a 6 miler on our compacted drive by Thursday.

yes he really was over his knees in snow!
me out on my snowy 6 miler

Friday we finally got off the farm again - to the supermarket (where the shelves had been swept clean of tinned foods and milk) and Sunday I finally dug out my car and gingerly drove to the gym. I had cabin fever, I was fed up and I had my first assignment from my coach - to run a 2M time trial. I don't think running on the treadmill was ideal for this but given the circumstances it was the best I could do. And I impressed myself - on a less than stellar night's sleep, and a bit too much champagne the night before, I managed 2 consecutive miles at 7 minute miles. Yes!

And that was enough for my coach to send me, almost by return, my first week's running schedule. I don't normally detail each workout, but as this something so new I'm trying out here, bear with me while I recall my runs:
  • w-up easily 2M, then 2x1600 @ 7:33, 3min RI, then 2x400 @6:58, 1.30 min RI, then 2M cooldown. Nailed it. I was delighted when the intervals were done with - they were certainly hard enough - but I got them in.
  • 5M easy @ 9:30 min/mile. Unsurprisingly, I could nail this one too, along with my high(er) rep weight workouts after 1M.
  • w-up easy for 2M then run steady for 4M at 7:57 pace, cooldown easy with 2M. Again - got it, but it was work and I was pleased to get the tempo done with.
  • cross-train - 1 hour's swimming lesson
  • 6M easy @ 9:30 min/mile. Got this in, along with my high(er) rep weight workouts after 1M.
  • 12M long run easy - 9:45 min/mile pace. This proved the trickiest workout of them all because I wanted to do it outside and the first road I went to proved too icy to run on so I had to drive around until I could find some gritted roads which weren't too busy. And even so it was a slippery, slidey mess. And I averaged a 9:23 min/mile not the 9:45 coach asked for. I will work harder at slowing down coach!
So what are my thoughts, 1 week into running with a coach?
  • I can't believe what a relief I am finding it to hand over some control to someone else. I realise I spend SO much time thinking about training plans and paces, second-guessing myself when my runs are too hard or too easy, googling solutions to various problems and getting hopelessly sidetracked (ya think I should LeechBlock most of the internet? Probably). Now I'm only getting a weekly schedule (can't lie in bed worrying about 2o milers with 10M RP sections weeks in advance, just have to man up and do it when it arrives) and my paces are defined. And she thinks I can do them. And she knows much more than I do. So I can do them. And, for one week at least, I have done them.
  • Questions. She's there for questions on all the topics I need answering. This week I have emailed her about switching runs around (yes I can but I can't follow hard workouts with another hard workout. Bad girl - I have definitely done that in the past so her advice was needed) and going on a diet while training (not hugely advised, eating healthily was her wholly sensible advice. But I'm feeling a post coming up on running and weight so I will deal with all that in the future).
  • Goal setting. I am scared of setting myself goals, running-wise. Goal-setting is for fasties, I feel. I'm afraid of setting goals, because what if I don't meet them? But my coach has set me a goal, and while I'm not brave enough to put it out there yet, I am working on getting my head round to believing I can do it.
But it's that overall feeling of having someone "in charge of me" that I am enjoying. I have never really had a coach who had any interest in me (I was just so cr*p at sports as a kid that any sports coach who did have to have me on a team would sigh when they saw me bounding onto a pitch or a court or a playing field..). And now I have someone who is going to help me - yes me! - train. I don't have to weigh Higdon against Pfitzinger against Runnersworld and so on when I'm debating high mileage vs quality, whether to race or not - I ask her. And while I'm sure she would not want me to think she has all the answers, she has more than I have and I am just enormously relieved to be handing all that over to her.

Finally - can I end on a little rant? For over a year I have been more or less assidious about keeping track of my activities on DailyMile. I'm sure you'll agree that it's key to be able to look back through your training to see what you've done, what worked and what didn't, etc. I kind of stopped bothering when I abandoned marathon training this summer, and only half-heartedly started up again recently. But I've decided to ditch DailyMile despite its enormously attractive interface and increasingly high-profile internet presence because it's just turning into another social networking site. I know that I sound like the Grinch but people - enough already! I just want to keep track of my runs! I don't want you all to comment on each workout cause then I feel like I have to comment on yours and man - there are NOT enough hours! I LOVE reading your blogs because you put it all out there but man oh man I can't do DailyMile socialising as well. After feeling bad that I was basically turning into a DailyMile miser, I have just decided to stop recording my workouts there and start afresh on BuckeyeOutdoors. Yes - less glamorous. But it does the job (and synchs with my Garmin) and I feel I can just logon, enter my workout, and log off again. Job done. So please don't feel personally slighted when I don't say anything on DailyMile - I will see you on your blog and will show you much more love there.