Monday, 30 April 2007

Facing my Demons

Again - I might be exaggerating slightly. I went on a run in the (blistering) heat of the day - and it was a super-hilly route.

After no long run at the w/end I was determined to get at least 10K done today. Having not run that far since the 1st I was a little apprehensive.

10K - 62min ... so 1omin/mile pace exactly

9.55 - 30% down - 70% gentle up or hill
10.13 - 50% flat 50% undulating
10.12 - 100% gentle up or hill
10.27 - 50% up 50% down
10.10 - 90% down 10% flat
9.00 - 20% gentle rise 80% down
2.01 - 50% down 50% up

I've never really done such a hilly route. It was quite fun, but really damn hot. The only saving grace was a cool sea breeze. Finally having managed to get round the 10K (with some moments of extreme effort) I finally feel a bit more prepared for Sunday's final race. It was beginning to prey on my mind; and I've got the busiest week ever so I need to focus on work not fret (ridiculously) about running. While I still hope to get under 60min on the day itself this run felt like a huge achievement. I never really imagined being able to run round the hilly back roads - especially keeping to a 10min/mile pace.

Mapmyrun has gone and upgraded itself and therefore lost the elevation for The Great Edinburgh Run. It doesn't look too bad though... nothing compared to Arthur's Seat. As long as I'm prepared and remember where the hills are I'll be ok. (Must go and write that down right now!!!)

Full of energy today - just spent 3hours cleaning the house despite very tired legs (hills really push your body a lot harder - I'm actually surprised by the difference) and made a late dinner too. Feel very virtuous - must not ruin this feeling with chocolate... or cake. :)

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Little Buggers

Car saga continues. TheO went to the football today - this involved driving to Edinburgh, staying the night and then driving on to Middlesborgh. (Don't ask.)

Overnight some little buggers smashed the window and took the gps (hidden in the glove box) and TheO's precious iPod (probably lying in plain site - grrrr). Hmmm, so a new window later, Helga* (for that is the unfortunate and very unPC name she has) the invincible will come back to me. Whilst RF's car has gone all the way to Middlesbrughhhhhhhhhhhhh - I think Helga enticed them to smash her window - she didn't want to go anyway; she'd much rather be in a lovely garage being looked after by the men in overalls. I think they're the only people who ever treat her well.

*At this point I would like to make it clear that I did not name my car. It was borrowed by TheO and a bunch of friends for an impromptu holiday round the Borders - my car returned with the name Helga. It might sound harsh but TheO's car is called KEITH - seriously!

Changing the pace (just for a day)

Ran the hilly 5K yesterday with TheO - ran at their pace (not mine). But I really tried to push it on the up hill bits.

I declared TheO officially INSANE as I always plan my route so I when I finish I'm at the bottom of the hill and can power-walk up as my cool down period. They said we had to run door-to-door. Hmmm, they might be a bit slower than me but hills are apparently no problem.
Damn them.

35 mins for a nice hilly route. 11mins and some seconds per mile was the average pace. This was pushing it for TheO (not excessively - but keeping it puff worthy).

0.3 DOWN
0.7 flat/gradual rise
0.2 HILL
0.35 gradual rise
0.35 gentle down
0.2 DOWN
0.7 flat gradual down
0.3 UP

Was completely relaxing to run at this pace - felt like I could go on forever really made me realise how much I push myself and how much I enjoy the PUSH. It did give me silly thoughts about distance running and that maybe one day 9min/miles will feel that relaxing. I just kept yattering on about the view and the hills. (Bet it was really irritating.) Made me glow with happiness but still need to get another run in this week - a good 10K would be nice.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Some days it just goes right.

A weird day where I was forced (it would have been gun point had a weapon been handy) to get up at dawn and go and collect my car which had EXTENSIVE work done after the guy at the garage (and I quote) said: "Ye see pal, ma mate doin' the MOT test had to stop it, on the grounds of safety pal." So ... lots of work. I have a habit of taking my lovely old S Reg off road, and it's not an off roader.

But, nevermind that. Work was delayed by having to go and buy dull things like acetate and super fine drawing pens. Then there were dogs to be walked. So the stress of delaying work finally got to me and I felt sick. Talk about a crappy psychosematic (sp?) reaction. Hmm, at least 'Work Will Set me Free'. (Holycrap - mind started to work on why that quote might not be appropriate - apologies.)

Lets be getting on to the important bit and leaving my empty wallet and churning stomach out of this. I did finally decide to go for a run. The Great Edinburgh Run pack has arrived - the panic sets in. I know I need to do hills, Edinburgh is a hilly place. Up past the quarry and back. A nice 5k route I haven't done in about 8 weeks (eek).

28.41 only a few seconds slower than my best ever - on the flat!!!
It's been ages since I did hills. Ages since I did 3 sub 10min/miles.
Feels brilliant. The gym always seems to give me a boost.

9.11 - mile 1 - 50/50 uphill downhill
9.58 - mile 2 - 70/30 uphill downhill
8.46 - mile 3 - 30/70 uphill downhill

Monday, 23 April 2007

Work it baby - work it!

For once I am completely buzzed from a gym session.
Walked el poochos on the beach (some vague warm-up). Then headed into the gym.

Treadmill - one mile in 7:45 - flying. Then speed-walked for a wee bit then covered the next mile in 8:50 something. Stopped after 20min when 2.25 miles had been covered. It was a great speed session. I kept pushing my pace up and down but trying to remain within the 7-8 mph range.

Then the weights. I decided not to pussyfoot around and really bother to push myself. I worked damn hard and will feel it tomorrow. But it's all worth it for the feeling of achievement. I lifted more than I have before and really enjoyed trying to get those last reps out.

I'm going to ache loads and desperately need to wash off the ick.
In other news - TheO's new ASICS arrived and they actually fit. It's a miracle. Might need some minor adjustment on the inside to stop a blister area but they really seem to do the job, and they stopped any leg pain from occurring - so that has to be good.
Off to update my PBs.... yippppppeeeeeeeeee

Thursday, 19 April 2007


You too could be a part of a toe-nail-less world. Just take up running and watch them rot.

Aaaaaaeeeeiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeee is quite frankly all I can say on the matter. It did not hurt coming off and I'd rather see the healthy pink *shudder* skin (gulp) than the weird old dead bit of toe-nail but holychrist it looks weird. Really weird. But that might just be becuase I have a nail/pain phobia thing.

So before the rot set in what happened:

Hmmm, when I last wrote (the 17th) I was off food shopping. As always this took more time than expected so I *just* managed a quick 2.25 miles (20min) on the elliptical machine. Oooo 2 sub 9min miles in row - very exciting, and equally sweaty.

Then today a real run, outside, with fresh air and hideous sunshine (will it never cease) took place.

5 miles 50:42

9.18 -whoo hooo
9.33 - yeah, feeling like my old self, recovered from 'the cold', really loving the run
10.44 - wtf
10.40 - wft x 2
10.27 - through the trees to avoid the sun so fair enough its all rolling and tough on the legs

Still feeling discouraged by my slow-ass-ness (and my ability to over hyphenate).
But hell, this is the furthest I've run since the 1st of April and it was good to stretch it out - even if my dreams of beating several friends in the 10K in May are beginning to turn to dust.

Ah, nothing like unhealthy competition to keep the momentum up!

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Thank You Runners World

Am super chuffed. Just WON a pair of Asics by writing a good review for Runners World. I can't wear asics as the heels are too tight. (I lost most of one heel in an accident so it's a bit sensitive.) BUT, incredibly TheO does need new shoes and these fit the bill. I've requested them in the appropriate size and am very excited. Even if they don't fit right I can always sell them on Ebay.

Good news for the day! Also had two orders for jewellery and got a beautiful necklace finished. Joy all round (well, the hormones kicked in today so the tummy pain sucks, but hey ho - there are worse things).
Off to go shopping (for food) and then for a Ruuuuuuuunnnnnn.

Monday, 16 April 2007

If you would like to catch-up with the following blog please press one, or hold for more options.

It's been busy and it feels like running has been on hold. I'm definitely going through a bit of a slump. TheO says it's all because I ran that pesky half 16 days ago and my body 'needs a rest'. She's had quite enough rest - the last run was on the 12th and it was relatively pathetic.

4 miles in 39.35
9.53 average pace


I was unhappy with the heat (yet another scorcher) and with my time. Slow. Slow. Slow. Where has sub 9:30 gone - I WANT IT BACK!
So - a combination of being disillusioned and having a world of work to do has made me exceptionally neglectful of both my runs and my blog.

However, the silver lining is that TheO and I went away for one night and it felt like a whole weekend when we got back. Drove down to the Borders and pottered around (old people style) in the car, visiting lots of possible places to stay (we have bizarrely high standards between us).
Ended up in the most magnificent country house hotel with incredible food, service and baby soft sheets. It felt like the most restful break, we talked loads - quite a lot about the business which was brilliant. Also managed to fit in about 2hours of dog walking over the 2 days - so surely that counts as some exercise?

Then, very excitingly on Monday morning I went to a new gallery (Gallery On The Green in Denholm) that is opening to set up my jewellery. The people setting it up have done fabulous things (an incredible array of china tea cups etc for fabby tea and cake) and most importantly I loved their taste! There's nothing worse than turning up at a gallery and hating the stuff in it - it gives you no faith in your own work. They open on Saturday and I hope it's going to be a big success - they definitely deserve it.

Pottered back (went to yet another hideous trip to Run & Become SHUT damnit until the 20th - I'd apparently misread it last time) and rewarded the dogs with a delightful dinner as they'd been little angels in the car for so long.

So much work to do but feel mentally refreshed. Getting this post written before a NEW LEAF is turned over tomorrow and I manage to work like a Trojan, eat like a bird, and train like a professional. (Although I suspect this might end up as work like a bird and eat like a Trojan.)

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

What time did you have in mind?

Before races this is all runners seem to talk about. What time?

When I was planning and training for the half (in my head The HALF) I had some plans for time. Like so many runners I've either talked to or read about on their blogs, I never had just one time in mind; I had five. Let me explain. It's all based on a system of rewards and targets, not letting yourself down and staying positive but realistic.

There was the 'please god let me finish before this time' - the one that would mean I had managed to injure myself and/or suffer a mental breakdown on the way round. (Unlikely, but not inconceivable.) It was also set for me by a friend when she ran a half and gave me my first target to aim for. Yes, it is hideously competitive to have a friend's time in mind - but competition makes me work harder and train longer. It was a useful bench mark and a pick me up when sessions were hard.

Then, moving up a stage, there was the previous PB. Back in December I'd run the distance in training with a time of 2.23. I knew that my running had improved since then. I knew I'd trained hard enough. I knew my speed overall had improved significantly, so it was possible to beat. It was also great to have the mental kick of knowing I had, in the past, finished the distance.

It ratchets up yet again - I worked out what would happen if I ran at 10:30 pace. I knew I should be able to beat this but my last long training runs seemed to be at this more sedate pace. I wanted to get this - this was my major target as I'd never managed to push past this in long run training. 2.18

Then there was the 10min time. This was a hoped for dream. It relied on running at 9:30 for as long as possible then seamlessly transitioning to 10:30 and therefore ending up with a 10min/mile average. I just missed it. 2:11 was the aim and 2:13 was the time achieved. I was still delighted, amazed and walking on air with the time I got. It was close enough to my hopes, I'd already beaten three of my own time categories and I had much to celebrate.

Not quite making the 2.11 time is only slightly tempered by the ultra-positive-psycho-time I had at the top of my list. In peak condition, with a following wind, no cold, and a massive crowd cheering at ever corner I believed the magic time of 2.05 might be possible. This would have been a 9:30 average. Now it looks a mite optimistic but, in my defence, I had once pulled off a training run of 8 sub 9:30s in a row - surely the other 5 weren't going to be a problem?!

Knowing all these times so well meant I always knew, whilst I was running, which one I had in my sights at any given time. It was almost instant knowing that 2.05 was never going to happen - I just wasn't up to it, the cold had felled me. But the 2.11 time was on the cards right up until the 10th mile - I just couldn't keep the pace. But that still gave me goals and targets to beat. Knowing that I'd never run out of options really helped to keep me mentally focused and to boost my determination when it got really hard.

Never have one goal - to defeat yourself can be too down heartening during a run. Always have a plan B, C, D... there is always something that you can achieve. Is this your fastest lat 1/4 of a race? Is it your fastest 10th mile ever? Are you still running? There are times when that is the greatest achievement of all.

Happy running people.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Weak as a kitten

Not quite 'as a kitten' but pretty g'damn weak. It only takes the odd gym session missed (or 17 days without a weight being lifted) to lose some of the strength it took weeks to build up.

After shunning a run yesterday (too much sugar - too little real food) the gym was a must.
Did 5 mins on the rowing machine just to warm up the body a bit. Love it - doesn't feel like exercise. Then my super-quick mini speed-session on the treadmill - 1 mile as fast as I can - 8:30 - booo hissss. Was desperately hoping for under 8 mins. But sometimes these things are not meant to be. I was really pegging it (for me) but at 0.7 miles suddenly it stopped - I'd managed to touch the, quite frankly, HAIR TRIGGER emergency stop mechanism. Bugger bugger bugger. Took a good few seconds to get up to speed again and it was the fastest I'd ever taken the machine to - so it was hard to get back into that rhythm.

But the weights were the real kick up the arse. Leg weights were easy, it was great, my legs were in their best lifting shape ever. My arms however appeared to have turned into some kind of hideous girl-spaghetti (but fat - so maybe overcooked penne). Note to self: Must do more arm exercises at night and more sit-ups.

Going to kick that early May 10K into touch and get much faster and fitter this year. Thinking about joining a running club to get me through the summer ... I hate the heat (even the temperatures we call 'hot' in Scotland can be too much for me on a run).

Monday, 9 April 2007

Tis the season for chocolate eatin'

Oh god, the shame, the horror. No runs over Easter and more chocolate than my arteries can cope with. The most exertion was French Cricket, Quick Cricket, and Boule! I think I might melt into a pool of lard. I've put on 3lb since getting ill 2 weeks before the Half.
April will have to be a month of exercise and trimness - that goal weight isn't going to be achieved by wishing alone.

But a great time was had by all (or so they said before running back to their respective homes laden with chocolate, cake, and all manner of evil goodness). Saturday was relaxed and lovely - just 6 of us for a chicken stew: some card playing, footie watching and relaxing. Sunday was party day - a giant roast leg of lamb, potato salad, salads, crisps, cheeeeeese. Then the onslaught of sugar which has left me crazed for all things calorific.

This too shall pass.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Magical Weather - Too hot for Running

Crikey - this mini heatwave can last a few more days. It's blooming marvellous.

After a much needed rest for the ole legs and toes today I went for a run.
Quite frankly after the joys of the w/end I expected today to be a doddle, easy peasy, no sweat. I was mistaken. It was a damn harm slog - ridiculous given that it was 3.3 miles. There were moments when I could have sworn I'd never run as far in my life. I thought it must have been the super speed I was doing ... got back to the car and discovered I'd managed perfectly sedate 10min/mile pace - Pah!

It was relaxing though. I'd forgotten a watch, or orwell, so it was just me and a water bottle (which sucks, even short runs now will be accompanied by the camelbak). I went through the woods to avoid the glare of the midday sun. On returning I couldn't face the tiny undulations in the woods and needed some f.l.a.t. running. So along the road, which could have been used as a set for prisoner of war films when they march them through the dust as they slowly melt under the ferocious heat.

It was glaring, it was hot as hell but the smell of the woods was amazing. It was the most incredible aroma of warm wood and pine resin with dry pine needles crackling underfoot. If I was the type of runner to stop and take photos today would have produced a huge crop, none of which would have expressed the smell and the stillness in the forest.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Forthside Half Marathon Done *warning long post*

I've been finished for 7-and-a-bit hours so I thought it was time to get the race day down.
I'll start with the stats and facts.

2.13.17 - chip time (and what Orwell said too!)
Average pace 10.15
Calories burnt 1781

9.37 - My 10K time was under an hour - not done that in ages.
10.49 - at 10 miles in I had managed to maintain 10min/mile pace overall

Bib - 5728
Gender Position - 852
Category (FSNR) Position 401 (It's high because there were so many club and over 35s)
Overall - 2434/2756 finishers
The need for sleep and food overcame me - this is being continued the following day.
My preparation had gone well despite the hideous cold.
On Saturday I did definitely CARB-UP (baked potato lunch, pasta dinner, 3 bits of toast before bed), but I also managed to get a decent sleep and awake refreshed and ready to go.
Sun AM I had my porridge and my giant coffee and then the lucozade sport which would keep me going (supposedly). I also decided that I would take a Sudafed to at least attempt to keep the nose-blowing to a minimum whilst running. Made it to the race in good time, very relaxed and excited. Met all the friends doing it, discussed possible times, ranging from an excellent club runner who attained 1.16! to me.

When the klaxon went I was ready - in a strangely relaxed frame of mind. I always tell myself I'm only going to run x distance and then see how I feel. The first 3-4 miles were good, I felt myself relax relatively early for me. The weather was perfect - a little nip in the air but clear, occasionally sunny, and without the strong wind that can ruin any run along a big river. I realised I wasn't coughing and could breathe - no nose blowing was necessary for the whole race... although it was before and after!

I was a little disappointed by the marshalls who were, in the main, bootfaced and unsupportive. My thanks go out to all those who smiled and said anything encouraging. At the half-way point one of the spectators (of which there were few and they were almost silent apart from cheering on an individual friend - weird) yelled "GO RNLI WOMAN!" which was brilliant - it really made me smile and I was at the point when I needed a cheer.

6.5 - 9 were the hardest miles. 8 was pretty much all into the wind - but incredibly at exactly the 8 mile point TheO and HighHeels turned up - it was incredible to see them as we'd agreed they'd be at the end only. I'd already been thinking about TheO's smiling face to keep me going (I know, it's pathetic) and to really see it was amazing. Also brilliant to get some yells just for me. I'd picked up a lucozade sport at the 6 mile point. At mile 7 I opened it and nursed small sips all the way to mile 10 ... it was effective but I should have taken a gel with me. Mile 8-9 snaked up hill and I was talking to myself like crazy, the mantra was, "not one step" or to translate -" I will not walk - not even for one step". I just kept repeating this until the hill (probably a gentle rise usually) was over.

Mile 12 - I know I have a problem with the second last mile of any distance so I was determined to push through it - to not be a wimp - and to KEEP GOING. Then I saw them - like a beacon - a small child, its parents, and a proffered plate of jelly babies - I ran towards them yelling, "thank god" but had the sense to ask if they were for anyone special - they delightfully replied, "YOU". Sucking and chewing those small jelly lumps took my mind of the tiny increments of mile that were crawling by.

I managed to have positive thoughts and decided that I would use techniques I'd read about. At 12.4 I knew that it was feeling really, ridiculously hard. So the imaginary helium balloons tied to my shoulders managed to lift me, just that fraction, to improve my posture, and keep me moving forward. The moment I turned the final corner and realised that I was really going to do it, to have run all the way, to finish in a time that delighted me, still makes me want to cry as a wave of emotion rushes over me.

There were 2 friends at the very last corner - they yelled encouraging things and it's always amazing to see people happy for your own successes. Then just at the finish were TheO and HighHeels having made it through Edinburgh. The sight of the finish line was almost too much for my body - my brain just flicked and it took a lot to keep the pace going and cross the line.

About 10 steps afterwards I knew I was going to faint - I had just enough warning to sit down and get my head down. I managed to avoid it - just. A very nice steward/medic came and sat with me and gave me water and checked I was ok. It took a few minutes to get my body back on track - during which time a scum photographer kept taking my picture (despite being told to go away several times) - hmmm, who knows if he'll use it.

It was an incredible feeling - not something I've planned to do my whole life, not something I ever expected to do, not on a life-achievement list anywhere - but still one of the proudest moments I've had to date. I loved it - even just afterwards I was delighted with the distance and the time. Delighted with the feeling of achievement. Roll on more races. (Still no plans to do a marathon - ever - although I'd be prepared to try 15 miles ..)

Today I'm a little stiff but not too bad - I feel good enough to be a little smug - but I know it'll probably kick me in the arse tomorrow. The only bits that really aches, weirdly, are my shoulders - a combination of the camelbak (although it's never caused it before) and simple tension had made them hurt. I'll a bit of a massage from TheO's magic hands and it'll clear right up.

My only injuries are one giant bubble of blister (pain free so far) on each of my left first little toe & my right second little toe. My right first little toenail is also a gruesome warning to all - its black and red and is all a giant blister and mess - it hurts. But quite frankly if that's the worst of it I can cope. I just hope they don't stop me running after a few days rest.

I can't wait to get back out there - good running and reading people.