Wednesday, 27 August 2008

25,000 things

Well, that's how many it seems like I'd have to mention to fit everything in.

After a quiet spell the tiler finally finished the bathroom! It only needs lino and paint now. (And a light that feckin works. New light was fitted, light still does not work. I've checked all the cable in the loft, I've tried a new bulb. I've checked the fuse box. I. JUST. DON'T. GET.IT. Any and all ideas gratefully received.)

Managed to fit in a wee bit of kultcha and see the Vanity Fair exhib in Edinburgh. It was truly delightful if you ignore Princess Di. Some were hilarious - Jackie and Joan Collins obviously pissed and wearing too much animal print (any is too much) in the back of a limo; some were quite moving (Thatcher), and others were designed to make you vomit - the Cruise/Holmes family portrait.

Surprisingly for an exhibition it didn't provoke much discussion. I think images of the good and great (as they were before celeb culture made it anyone who wanted to be on tv for 5min) often leave us a little blank now and the power of photography lies in the images of unknown people whose expressions say far more than a celebrity status ever could. (But then I'm a huge fan of Diane Arbus.) Luckily we needed no additional impetus to conversation and all (CheeseB minus HH) had a great meal at the Grain Store. De-lish.

After than wee sojourn the next day was hectic. I was off to Oban and TheO should have been at her course - but she knackered her back and couldn't massage :-(. I managed to set off only 25 min late (practically a record) and the road to Oban was kind. I checked into my expensive B&B - with no ensuite - and was pleased to find it smelt clean and was quite warm and welcoming. Thank god as it was the only room I could find and Spartan & Blarney were also staying.

A short stroll saw me arrive at the restaurant we'd booked. The others all turned up in Norman (the camper van) and we ate until we could eat no more (which really takes some doing in our case). All tasty and some of us took our half marathon prep a little less seriously than others. (Chips! Cheesecake! G'n'T!)

All went well the next day. RF had a bad night mostly thanks to her pooch. (Don't they always have the best timing.) But we all made it onto the ferry and the eating continued... but the less said about CallMac and panic-carboloading the better. Needless to say, no matter how many rolls with stuff in them you order, to have something 'on the side' is still a crime in Scotland. That single egg deserved a roll of its very own.

Ah well. The entire Coll clan were there to greet us on arrival. I was delighted that Godlet knew I was Auntie-A instantly. Eldest was on good form and loved the vast array of adults, all of whom he'd met at the Nedding. We were whisked away to register (quick) and then taken home for cake and tea. Then delicious soup and rolls. It was v v strange preparing for a race at 3pm when you'd been up since 6am. The excitement didn't really take hold until we made it to the start line, on the pier, in the biting wind.

The first 7 miles were really quite tough. For the first time during a race I questioned what the hell I was doing. It was hard in the damp (not quite rain) and the head wind made it tough. As did the terrain. It felt all up hill (not dramatically, but gradually) for about 4 miles. Then at the 6 mile point we came to the sand. It wasn't too bad, better than expected but I had a grey ghost following me. Bro-in-Law had laughingly claimed that we'd all easily beat a wiry old guy (of 74, who Sis-in-Law later told me runs 10s of miles every day). At this point - 7 miles in - he was breathing down my neck. This was a prospect that depressed me greatly. Luckily I managed to pull away over the next mile. (Sadly I later heard he got cramp and had to retire - I wouldn't wish that on anyone!)

Once I saw the 10K to go sign everything picked up. I knew the course from then on. I knew my relations would be out in force (a force of 2 + kids), and 10K never seems that far. I kept getting stronger and was much cheered by Islander running down the hill outside the farm playing the bagpipes. Genius. (I may also have been cheered by my sports beans.)

Things were looking good and I was on for a PB at mile 10. Sadly, at mile 11 we turned into the wind. It was v v hard. It was also pouring and I was wet to the core. So wet I got nipple chafe. Man does that hurt. The last 2 miles were unbelievably hard - my pace slowed from 9 to 11 min a mile, I just couldn't get fast enough against the wind. But I still managed to overtake 6 people in the last 2 miles. I might not be quick, but I'm consistent. Managing to keep pace at the end enabled me to overtake at least 3 irritating people who'd overtaken me at about mile 4. (When I was questioning the rationale of running.)

Made it in 2.11.11 - not a PB, but not bad given the terrain. I definitely feel fitter and this is the level of fitness I want to hold at year round. Needing 4 weeks notice for a Half.

Must go to bed. More later.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Two things

1. On Sunday we visited the new house. I can't wait to move. I love it there, it's just more exciting with every trip; definitely starting to get itchy feet now - all the stuff just has to get moving. We also visited the Visitors Centre as someone told us it had a deli. It does, and it's pretty marvellous. The bread selection sucks but it has some good meat and cheese, a small wine selection and great biscuits. Good enough to help you out of a fix if you forget some stuff for a dinner party. Excellent news.

The chickens are also still alive, well, the ones we saw are - but there were far fewer than last time. I assume they've gone to pastures new, where they get fed more often... hopefully they'll come back. :-(

2. On Monday I did my last long run pre Coll Half:
This run rocked. TheO came with me on the bike despite it being the wettest and most disgusting experience for the fist 6 miles. She was a trooper.
2.00.56 for 12 miles
1663 calories
avg 10.05 (only slightly gutted)

10.29 - broke 10min mile avg by 14 seconds on a damn hill - boooo
10.42 - delighted to be done.

Still delighted, it was hard and I felt a bit crampy at 10.5 miles onwards but managed to hold it off. Also definitely felt strong enough to do another 1.1 mile at the end.

Was my best training run for 10 miles ever (by 2.50). And I think my best 12 mile training run ever ... just checked , it is by far, and OMG I never do 12 mile training runs. It's always 8 or really long for some reason. Only 2 other 12s exist in my diary... weird.

Used puffer before and straight afterward but was good chest wise for the rest of the run. Feel quite well prepared for Coll now, even though it'll be much hillier than I can possibly expect.
All of that run report was written with the endorphins still flowing. Now I'm a little bit stiff and sore. My legs feel like I raced yesterday! My hip is a tiny bit achy too. But, my major gripe is that it was so wet that my tshirt and shorts got soaking and gave me an 1" long blister across my belly button. They never give me blisters, but the rain was ridiculous, I was soaked through by mile 3 and it felt as it someone was adding weights to my legs for the next 3 as the water weighed down my clothes. However it was my first run in the rain. (I don't know quite how I've avoided it living in Scotland and running consistently for the last 2 years, but I have.) The rain is, to me, like a nice cool temperature - only a good thing. The damn sun and anything above about 14 degrees is my problem (that's 60ish for those in the states). Ah well, Coll could be anything from a winter swamp to a Caribbean dream - we'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Absence makes ...

Well, apologies for the absence this week. Mostly this was due to a terrible time being had with the asthma. On the 10th I did my 10 mile run in prep for the Island Half. It was bloody awful:

Crap slow 10 miles with 2 walking breaks

avg 10.53 a mile
longest run since marathon
1.48.53 total

10.10 down and flat
11.13 up and up
11.25 rolling and .15 walked
10.08 - downhill
10.38 - gentle roll
11.04 - flat but hard as wanted to stop
11.47 - walked 0.3 ate beans
10.46 - flat
11.01 - flat
10.38 - glad to be finished

I couldn't believe I had to take walking breaks and the whole process was such hard work. I also am terrible at not being able to decide if I am being feeble and looking for excuses (like I can't breathe) or if the circumstances really do require me to walk for my own health. In the end I think the balance wasn't too bad. (Despite it feeling like my worst run ever it was only 26sec a mile worse than my best ever 10 mile training run... and it was quite hilly.) A real shock to the system though.

11th was a terrible day. Every breath was an effort and I needed my huffer constantly. Made another appointment with the doctor.
12th Saw the doc. Ended up crying like a baby as every breath being an effort and the constant pain/bowling ball on my chest was wearing me down; that and not having slept through the night for 10 days had made me a little delicate. A different doc who was simultaneously helpful and terrifying:
Helpful: take these steroids for a week and you should really be fine. The initial stage just needs to be fixed with a hard hit. After that you might be fixed for good. Running a half at the end of the month should be no problem.
Terrifying: Don't run whilst you're on the steroids as you'll aim for 5 miles and end up doing 10. A friend of mine did this at medical school and it killed him! (WTF!)

That night Bravebird and Minstrel came to dinner which luckily took my mind off the whole breathing issue quite well. It was a really lovely night, good chat and nice simple food (steak - yum).

13th Finally took my new bike out for a spin. having not ridden for many, many years I didn't want to go on the road so Wednesday evening we headed for the woods. Nice flat tracks, and no cars to freak me out. It was fantastic. A really nice way to get some exercise. Peddling along with TheO was delightful. We went all the way out to the point and saw some new bits of coastline we'd never spotted before. Wonderful summer evening. And 9 miles was about right for my chest to cope with. (Only running up a sand-dune had me reaching for the drugs.)

14th I can confirm that at this point the steroids really kicked in.* And wow - did they kick in. Apart from being hormonal, the desire to eat was more than usually overwhelming. TheO was out at an Edinburgh Festival thing so I was left to fend for myself. Let's just say I didn't make the best choices. Cheese on toast (fine, unless the whole of the rest of the day's diet was bread with something), a box (I know) of French Fancies and, here it gets better - a glass of tomato juice (for veg purposes). I also bought a tin of pineapple for more fruit and veg... but was sadly too full. Once sugared to within an inch of my life, and with some fine quality steroids coursing through my veins I hit the weight. The entire scale of our home gym equipment involves a 5K dumbbell, a thighmaster (really) and the elliptical machine upstairs. I decided to stick with the dumbbell and thighmaster. So the weights session was great. I managed to work up a real sweat and give my arms and abs quite a blasting. Doing sit ups with a 5K weight in your arms really adds to the experience! The thighmaster still burns those inner thighs even when you've been running for s while, it was a bit of a surprise, but still quite a strange thing to be sitting doing whilst watching TV.
It almost seems cruel not to be able to run on these things as the drive to DO STUFF is quite high. (I also managed to strip the tiles from the fireplace, get two loads of washing done, and sort out a whole cupboard full of stuff.)

15th Yesterday was more of a challenge, but within normal limits. Despite not being allowed to 'run' I thought a run in the gym is still a nice, controlled environment, I can't go further than I expect. However, I was still feeling a little frisky, and like my legs needed a good workout (esp. as the Island Half gets closer with each passing day) so I thought I might do 4 or 5 miles. Once on the machine I had to try for the 10K:

54.36 for 10K

6 seconds better than my best ever so a new PB

4.2 miles at 1%
1 mile at 0.5%
1 mile at 0%

Good breathing afterwards, took puffer but no choking or coughing (and did not suffer that night either).
I was really delighted with this run, it banished some of the demons from the 10miler. Now, after a few days I just have to see how the 12 miler goes, and then see if I can cope with just the huffer. Lets hope the worst of this damn asthma is at bay.

*(I would never advocate taking any unprescribed medications so the post is slightly tounge in cheek, but none the less real to me.)

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Question: How does eating a box of French Fancies make you feel?
Answer: Like you don't fancy eating ever again.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Because lists are easier.

1. Was randomly diagnosed with Asthma on the 6th. A bit surprising and irritating but all will be well once it's under control. Supposedly it's "typical adult onset" asthma, and has manifested itself with a cough that mostly happens at night and stops me sleeping through the night. It sucks a bit right now.

2. On the 7th the delightful RF stayed (she was having a massage from TheO). We had a wonderful chicken stew (and I'm not one for stew) and then some homemade ice cream. Fresh cherry and chocolate in real vanilla ice cream. It was (and still is) delicious.

3. I've managed two gym sessions this week. A good 5K all at 9.15 pace on hills in the gym. This was followed by 1h of tennis practice with TheO throwing balls to me. Yesterday I did another more old fashioned gym session (preceeded by another 30min tennis session with TheO):
3k arm weights in each arm

12 x lateral raise each arm
12 x tricep dip each arm (behind head)

40 x bicep curl each arm
3 x 12 on weight 6 lateral pull down
3 x 12 on weight 5 pectoral push

sit ups
3 x 20 holding 2k medicine ball

2 x 30second planks
4.2miles on reclining bike
direct swap to upright bike 2 miles
total time 28.30 so 10K in total

The upshot is that today my arms ache for the first time in ages.
I'm off to nurse them, and maybe do something more productive.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Two Face

Good Things:
  1. A lovely dinner with Artist in Aberdour. Great chat with new, and not so new, people.
  2. Sis-in-Law stayed - sans sprogs - and we had a fabby dinner at The Fish Restaurant (yum!)
  3. Artist also stayed and brought us a picture as Nedding gift. (Sweet indeed.)
  4. I had a tennis lesson and can now hit a two-handed back hand.

Bad Things:
  1. TheO got food poisoning (before either of the delightful events listed above).
  2. If the frickin plumber and tiler don't finish our bathroom soon (it's been a month) I might go insane... TheO needs her bath back.
  3. I was told I'm not allowed to play tennis - I've got 4 colours of practice balls to work through before I'm allowed to play with a real person... and real balls. (I see some humour in this.)
  4. I have a crappy cough that killed me this morning and made me cry (because I am a big wuss). Coughing and running are not compatible.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Almost missed it.

It's 2 years (yesterday) since I started running. I'm not sure I've stuck with anything hobby-like for 2 years+ before. Long may this continue.

To 'celebrate' (ie - because I'm in training for the Island Half and have to) I went out on a good 8 miler yesterday. It was hilly as hell (the biggest challenge being a hill 0.6miles long) and quite hot too. I managed it in 1.22.38 with a nice average of 10.19 a mile. This felt pretty good for a training run, especially as it's been a hideously long 4 weeks and 1 day since I've gone that far.

I came back and checked my stats. It was my fastest ever 8 miles... or not. In my delight at running so well last month I'd neglected to update my PBs. On the flat into St. Andrews I managed an impressive (for me) 1.19.28 (taking a whole 4min 14 off my previous best).

Despite moments of yesterday's run hurting (v unusual for me, the legs were aching for miles 1 & 2) it felt great to be out covering some decent distance again. I'm quite excited about the prospect of a half - even if I don't really know how hilly it might be.

I'm feeling quite reflective today. Two years seems like such a long time. And so much has happened: Amazing places (Iceland, Madrid, Southern-Spain, Malta, lots of new bits of Scotland, Skye), First Races, First Marathon, Getting Nedded, Moving House (in a few weeks), Big Trade Shows, Exhibitions, Trying New Sports (Climbing, Tennis)... despite the lack of scintillating description at times, it really has been an exciting few years.

Through all of it the running has continued. I'm delighted that, apart from race times, all my PBs have now been set in 2008. It seems like progress. Looking back I can still remember the first time I ever ran 5K. I was so delighted (it was about 37min) and it was such a surprise; to enjoy something so simple really gives me a mental boost. It's the perfect combination of relaxing and challenging.

It still all takes me by surprise. The confidence that general fitness gives cannot be over-estimated. Even on days when I feel (and, truth be told, am) fat, knowing what your body can achieve gives me a boost. It makes me a bolder and more confident person. I'm less likely to worry about 'looking stupid' when I do something; the little voice of confidence can always whisper: "You might be shite as this, but you've run a marathon!" However, this also leads to weight complacency which is nothing but a bad thing. Still more pounds to go, but being an active person (I know, who'd of thunk it) makes it all the easier to control the bad days, and shed a few pounds on the good ones.

There could be a negative to all this. What was once a relatively competitive person has now become a snarling competitive crazed beast. (But hell, you've got to take the rough with the smooth, right?) Also, the sports bra obsession is not healthy. (Although, apparently, what 90% of people who find my blog are looking for.)

Ah, 2 years in and so many miles still to run. What a bloody brilliant feeling.