Thursday, 26 February 2009

Real run - with stats.

Well this morning came and I only hit snooze on the alarm twice. I had my sensible-ish breakfast and regular giant coffee and tried to mentally prepare myself. 8 miles was the goal. And it seemed pretty insurmountable. I'm somewhere quite hilly and knowing what I had to do made me want to baulk and climb straight back into bed.
Mile 1 - 11.20 (all up hill)
Mile 2 - 11.09 (up hill then a nice down)
Mile 3 - 9.55 (gently rolling)
Mile 4 - 10.52 (big hill then rolling)
Mile 5 - 10.16 (gently rolling down)
Mile 6 - 11.14 (gently rolling up)
Mile 7 - 10.31 (nice down, rolling, then up)
Mile 8 - 9.05 (down, down, down)
Avg 10.33 per mile
Despite some very negative thoughts whilst I was running it was overall a positive experience. I have to stop being mad that I've let so much fitness drop by the wayside and just GET OVER IT. It will only come back by actually doing something and trying - not by being pissed off with myself. The mojo might slowly be coming back.
So - quite slow, but outside and quite hilly. Who knows. I've just looked up my long run last year whilst I was here. It was meant to be 12 miles, but I only did 11. Average speed 10.22 - so apart from being 4 miles behind in my training (quite a lot behind really) I'm not as slow as I feared.
Possibly should have cut the above as it is extremely tedious - but hell, maybe my readers like the crazy stats and aren't just searching for Sports Bra Reviews (that'll get this post read more than it deserves). He he he.
Oh yeah - we did some other stuff this week. Went to Hexham, Newcastle, Lady's Well, Morpeth, all along the coast from Blyth to Newbiggin, Druridge Bay etc. All pretty and a distraction from there being little else to do.
Visited my Gran today which was really quite lovely - until the moment she pressed a dusty, ugly, nodding scottie dog into my hands. She put it there at the very last moment and I couldn't say no... TheO is now desperate to put it on the back of the new car (which we pick up on Wednesday - vv exciting).
Happy dogs, happy people. Final full day tomorrow then off to niiiice hotel with some pals - can't wait.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Short and Sweet -ish

Damn dial-up will be the death of me. Blood pressure raised through the roof by simple frustration.
I went for a run this morning, before I did anything else. It wasn't the most pleasant experience. I spent most of it berating myself for being a lazy bee-atch and a slacker, and having no will power and being fat and slow. So a pleasant 3omin in my own company then?!
I ran 5K in 30.40 which was a bareable time as it involved about 1mile of steady climbing (not Arthur's Seat climbing, but climbing none the less). However I'm horribly unfit, horribly out of shape and horribly out of training, and I'm not really making much progress. GOT TO GET BACK ON TRACK.
So, the North - we love it's tea shops but it does suffer a bit from being stuck in the past and having not much to do. We're one day in and we've been everywhere I can recommend. But luckily TheO has her new computer (Apple iBook - she got computer envy, so got us an iBook to "share" -bless, I can't wait to get it home and set it up properly with interent and everything) to play with, and I have this clunky old laptop with which to blog so I'm sure we'll just about scrape by.
Oh god - computer just displayed that : Could not contact blogger at this time ... message. Please don't let that be the case ...
Went to Druridge Bay and let the dogs run - pretty but hight tide so pretty crappy walking underfoot. Went to Hexham for books & cake. Bombed about the countryside with me pointing out random industrial bits linked to family. Not the most exciting, but quite relaxing.
It's a sad state of affairs when you're seriously grateful that Masterchef and University Challenge are on on the same night. Must go before I consider the sadness of that last line.
Toodle pip.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Shoe Whore

Shoe Whore will run for shoes. There are some shiny new New Balance babes coming from the dudes in the sidebar ---- Fitness Footwear ---- and I will review them once I return from cat-sitting in Northumberland (where I'll try and run my pants off so I get back on track).

However we see below us the replacements for the Nikes. I tried a smaller size in the Vomero - and still they ate my socks - I think it was a lower heel cup... or something. So I went with the Wave Rider 12s from Mizuno:
First impressions are that they are slipper comfortable, much firmer than the Vomero which was a bit like walking round on a pillow (lovely, but disconcerting), and v light in comparison to all my old shoes. They are also a pretty colour. So far they have coped with one mile on a treadmill with no ill effects. (To me, or them.)

A proper road test will be carried out soon. Meanwhile I'm still recovering from the bash my body got at circuits. Pilates, Weights, Yoga and other mean tricks with resistance ropes and balance balls were played on us. I loved it but will suffer - a lot.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

8 reasons why women don't exercise properly ...

Alright, a slight flamer of a title there, but the pic will make my point all too clearly.

I will add that these are 100% female bodybuilders.

Now I have (some) respect for their life long dedication, and their possibly reckless use of steroids in the pursuit of weird goals. But these are the sorts of images that scare some women. They make them think if they use weights then they are going to "bulk up" - you really wont! (Did you see the thing about life-long dedication and steroids?) These are the sort of images that make people believe in the completely unqualified and Oprah certified Tracy Anderson. Now Fitness Fixation has covered this topic well in her blog here. So I wont flog a dead horse, but the message is really summed up by:

"Only 3-pound weights," Tracy says. "No woman should lift more than 3 pounds."

Really, but then how will I lift my child? My dog? My clogs? My next meal?
This is just stupidity run amok. You can lift a lot more, get stronger, ward of brittle bone disease and then beat the skinny bugger next to you with their own resistance band.*

So just a little bit of irritation on a Wednesday evening. I'd previously read the articles against Tracy but this image in a Sunday Supplement magazine really riled me. Not because it wasn't the art the photographer was meaning it to be - but because all too often when we do get to see women who are fit and have muscles they are too often some extreme. Only the Olympics allows us to see women regularly who are at their peak of physical fitness rather than at their lowest possible safe body weight. Even then it is always made clear how much work and dedication all the athletes put into their sports, so those goals might seem unattainable.

Just a bit more normality would be nice. Women allowed to be fit and strong and maybe even sweat ...

Rant over.

*I'm not knocking the resistance band - they can make you huuurt.

Why I am a bad runner.

I was given What I talk about when I talk about running by Harki Murakami by a (non-running) friend. They thought what with the running, and the thinking, I might just enjoy it. They were right - there was a little bit of ramble but generally it is a fine read, though I'd normally only recommend it to runners.

There is one quote that really stood out for me, a quote which made me realise what's not so great about me as a runner. Murakami writes his thoughts (just prior to a triathalon):
... once more I'm struck by how pitiful and pointless this little container called ME is, what a lame, shaby being I am. I feel like everything I've ever done in life has been a total waste.

Now whilst I really do have my own huge cupboard full of hang-ups and weirdness it is the feeling that running gives me that makes me love it so. It is the oposite of the above - when I start a race or a long run (and especially when it is completed) I am awed by how incredible the human body is, how the muscles work, how the body feels like it is doing what it is meant to do! I feel like I could achieve anything, like all possibilites are tangible, they can be made real.

If I felt like Murakami I might be considerable thinner and faster. Maybe it's that feeling of wonder that holds me in my present lard-encased form. Or maybe it's just a love of cake.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

My new baby - and some running.

Well, the day has finally come. I got to say goodbye to my faithful old iMac. She was a fat bottomed beauty when she first arrived but now she's showing her age (I wasn't aware of how much age until I transferred), both dementia and arthritis were making her final days a bit difficult.

So here's *the new hottness* in all her glory.

I may have sworn a little with gratitude as I realised thank god I ordered the smallest possible one - she's huge and sleek. I might call her Agynes or Lily or some other super-model suitable epithet.

Let us also not talk about me letting the two computers talk to each other then setting up a new account and being sad that everything I wanted hadn't transferred... you know, becuase it was JUST SITTING THERE in the old account. Duh.

Now as much as I love new technology this will demonstrate how much I love running:
Monday morning, I knew after a weekend of indulgence and a real lack of running I had to finally do a run longer than 10K. I had my 3 slices of toast and planned my (v dull and flat route). 10min before I decided to head up-stairs and put on the running kit the computer arrived (a day earlier than expected). I STILL WENT FOR A RUN.

7 miles in 1.11.20 (avg. 10.12)
Not fast but not too shabby, I'm prepared to accept it.
It felt like the first day of spring (my dashboard assures me the temperature will half by Sunday), the birds were singing, the grass was green, there was definitely joy in my heart.

At 3 miles this joy had turned to hate. Really, add another 23 miles to this! Am I frickin crazy, no one has ever run that far - this is just mental.
Luckily by the time I got back I was thinking that while it was a bit slower than I would like, 9 miles might not have killed me. Weird but true.

It did feel great to finally start building up the miles. Can't wait to get some new trainers organised too (should be getting some free as blogging swag - also need to return the over-large Nike's and get some an appropriate size ... some that don't eat socks!)

Toodle pip for now.

Saturday, 14 February 2009


It's been a while since I had a more thoughtful post. This one would like a bit of feedback so feel free to comment. (Go on, you know you want to.)

I propose the following:

Blogging can lead to better conversations with your friends.*

I suggest the above because:
1) It cuts through all the small chit-chat that is essential to greasing the wheels of friendship and allows you to get straight to the point.
2) It gives you more time to ask how they're doing, to get filled in by them (especially if they don't blog) on their lives (something everyone feels good about).
3) It also means that if you did do something fun/interesting/exciting you don't have to go over the basics (jeesh - we were stuck in the airport for 9 hours), but can get more into the meat of the topic.
4) It frees up more time to talk about everything else - the world, politics, religion, cooking, clothing, pets, plants, snow, games.
5) Because you've already organised your thoughts through your blog when asked about your life by friends/strangers it is easier to be vocal on the subject.
6) In the most basic way, if your work doesn't involve words, blogging helps to keep the linguistic part of your brain in working (if not always perfectly grammatically correct) order.
7) If you know a blogging friend is having a hard time you might contact them more directly (gosh - someone might even pick up the phone!) and give them some light relief/just listen.

Is there an argument for the opposition?

*This is based on the assumption that your real flesh-and-blood known friends are aware of your blog and choose to dip into it occasionally.

Much like an old dog ...

... who gets a little left out when a new puppy comes along - my blog has been neglected for that little up-start twitter. Damn those easy 140 character posts (*cough* I mean tweets).

Soooo - apart from pictures of snow and the 1970s do I have anything to report? Well, yes indeed I do.

The 7th saw the most perfectly clear day so I headed out with my new Innov8 shoes. And here are the stats you've missed so much:
4 miles to PVS and back.
1 - 9.18
2 - 9.21
3 - 9.46
4 - 10.10

4m - 38.37

All pretty flat. Bit icy on last mile.
First 2 miles were incredible. That feeling of the world melting away, a crisp sunny day and suddenly all is right with the world. You feel like you're flying without even having to try. Just magical, the reason I fell for running in the first place.
3rd mile ok, 4th mile much harder than expected - really need to keep running outside - there is no substitute.

The shoes were marvellous - full post about them soon. And other related shoe news!

That night we went to see Rock God and The Professor as RG was cooking me a meal for my birthday as we hadn't been able to meet up on the day. (V sweet suggestion.) I'd been asked (weeks ago) about my favourite food and hadn't really thought much of it... then all became clear.

Scallops and black pudding on a bed of Colcannon with basil infusion drops and a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil.
Venison and dauphinoise with kale and a red wine jus
Baked chocolate and raspberry cheesecake with cream with Edradour cream liqueur in it.

Now, not only was this a GREAT set of food for me it was all cooked incredibly well, like restaurant well! Kudos to Rock God. There was also insanely good chat that covered several gamuts from atheism to transgender, with a bit of politics thrown in for good measure.

I fell asleep a little heavier than the day started - god damn that cheesecake and its irresistibly.

On waking Prof ushered me into her study to show me my present. The lovely lady has [edit: given me a fab gift which for reasons of her own she prefer me not to discuss. She is CrAzY.]
The rest of the week passed in a flurry of moving boxes. We're almost there. The boiler room is now almost how it should be. I discovered another 3 boxes of my stuff that I have to flick though and decide I really don't want. More of my workshop is set-up now. We've decided on what the workshop will eventually be, and found a great company to do it. Our neighbour - lets call her Athena - has all the skills and knowledge to help up take down the old shed and build a concrete base. (?!)

All of the above info from Athena came becuase she took TheO skiing on the 11th. They headed up to Glenshee and I emptied the sun room of all its crap - including a huge marble plant stand I had to move in 3 trips even with a trolley! I also got Valentine's orders made and sent off. V productive for once.

In return for the skiing we (I mean TheO) made supper for us all. All I could say at the end of my heavy lifting day was "Show me the gin and tonic!" Luckily my skills run to making gin and tonic for all.

Yesterday I braved the snow and went to the gym for my first ever organised exercise class. I chose circuits as I watched them last week and decided it would be the perfect combo of really goddamn hard but I wouldn't die/embarrass myself.

We did the following:
5 min warm-up just me on elliptical machine 19/5 - pre class.

7min running machine 6.3/6.4
6min elliptical machine 19/7

1min each:
standing lunges 1.5kg weight each arm
plank - did manage to hold it the whole time but if was arm shakingly tough.
seated chest press
straight arm pull down
lateral pull
back extension (on ball)
step ups
tricep dips
then 30sec on each of the above!

6min arm bike

elastic rope thing
bicep curls
arm raises
tricep pulls

5 min cool down on bike

I survived and it was the best workout I've had in a while. I always neglect my arms.
As I discovered this morning I neglect my arms a lot. I had difficulty moving or raising them above my shoulders. A day's (and man I was lazy, it literally took me all day as I kept footering) hard cleaning has made me all ache, but look forward to tomorrow when Ceegar and Meeper join us. Valentine's day? A romantic and couple-y time? Don't be daft.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Monday, 9 February 2009

When everything was orange

There is now evidence that everything in the 1970s (this was v v early 1980s) was orange. The floor, the curtains, the chair (really, have a close look - it is stylin'), the kitchen, my great grandmother's rinse; and let us not forget the v early PC attempt at a Gollywog* Yes indeed, my Golly could not have caused offence to any person of colour. Possibly done as an anti-Irish statement, it could not have been any paler - or more ginger.

I need it to be known that I HATED those dungarees.

Also, there is a lot of talk in the press about children being wrapped up in cotton wool and protected now. People say that 'just didn't happen when we were children' - and here's the proof: I'm less than 2 years old and I am casually playing with a box of matches. Got to love that 1970s parenting.

*Used with no intent to offend in any way - only used as a description of toys we may have been given as children (when we knew no better) in an less than enlightened age!

Friday, 6 February 2009

For the love of god...

why oh why am I in such a shitty mood. Quite a productive day - got most of the designs I have to get done sent away. Went to the gym ...

Ah yes, it might be this little sojourn that made me quite so furious with life. I put on my shiny new trainers with excitement and found them to be ... just not quite right. I think they're too big - well, the heel managed to grab my socks and pull them under my feet which is NOT normal. I then tied them tighter and tried the elliptical machine instead (1mile 9.40 - on 19 so it works all the legs and level 7 effort); then the running machine where shoes were okay, but not brilliant. My feet just ached a bit. Also - for no good reason my lower back was v v v painful if I even rested my hands on the bar, but if I used my arms (like I should be doing) then it was okay. Again - this is NOT normal. So I slogged out 1 measly mile. (9.15) Then 10min on the arm bike - the usual 2.5miles. Just all sucked a bit. I was also hungry and hadn't fuelled correctly. I bloody hate it when I know what I've done wrong but it's too late to put it right. Just all a bit shite.

I wont even go into my pudding disaster. Jam and low fat rice pudding when you really want CAKE might as well be a bowl of dog food. Pah. Bag humbug. If I could put a lovely big round venting scream down here I would.

However in a bid to do something useful I have finally started crocheting my blanket. I bought the wool eons ago and they are all colours I love but god knows where they'll fit into the house. They don't really. Bugger. But I had a revelation: my crocheting is just like my running. No really. I can tell you're just desperate to hear more. Well, I like to run mindlessly, long distances on nice flat, smooth tarmac make me happy. Hills are a dull necessity, not a break from what some people would see as ultimate tedium. I just really like running at a steady pace for a long way (something which I've been prevented from doing by a plethora of ice and fecking snow - just stop being so goddamn slippery and I'll get out there I promise). I like knitting or crocheting really simple things. No pattern, just slog away in the same stitch for what might be, particularly in the blanket's case, a lifetime. See same basic premise different results. Comforting repetition that requires no thought and acts as a sort of active meditation.

Am going to give my trainers a bit longer before I give up. I've never had achy feet before. I've got 30 days in which to return them, for any reason (even if you've worn them outside- I checked). I hope they feel better before that. I should so have bought the 1/2 size down like normal. None of that squeezing toe crap and 'oh these are *just* long enough' nonsense - they're my fecking feet and I should trust them. Again, I say Bah!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Running, something I do still do occasionally.

Whilst I'm pleased with my time. I'm not pleased with my body. I ran yesterday and my legs hurt like hell today (particularly walking up and down stairs). It was only 5 miles and I did push it, but I didn't think 20 days (eeek) without a run would turn me from runner to ache-er.

5 miles on the treadmill (as it's cold, wet and horrid) at 1% in 46.27 (an average of 9.18p/m) - a time which turns out to be my best time ever for 5 miles. I'm delighted by this, it makes really pushing it worth while. It was good to be able to run that distance/time but my legs definitely told me they were not up to scratch. My hip bursitis also raised it's ugly head - but luckily that hurt has gone now.

Today I was heading up into Angus I could pass a real running shop. After the shoe disappointment that was discovering the hideous changes Nike had made to my favourite shoes - I needed to try on everything again. Everything. Ascics too tight and weird, Adidas too tiny in width, Sauncony too wide in the heel, Mizuno lovely fit but the size was either perfect for walking or too big - but I would consider them again. What did I end up with - just guess. Yet another kind of Nike. This time the Zoom Vomero 3. Top level cushioning and a great fit with excellent width. I'm delighted, and quite pleased to be back in Nikes as I know how they work for me. Luckily there's a lot of silver here - but lime green, really. Ick.

I also went all out and got some wet weather shoes. They are beautiful and so comfortable I might wear them more than I should. They are not waterproof but have much higher water strips than ordinary trainers and much thicker grip so will do for mild ice and wet road runs and trains in woodlands. So pretty.
With these 2 options I have no excuse for not lacing up and actually getting out there and doing some miles. I've got a marathon to run goddamnit!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

So, 30!

The day has now come and gone. I'm 30 (although I refused to admit that to the running machine in the gym yesterday), a bit of a surprise really as 21 seems only a few years back.

To celebrate in full style we went to Abstract in Edinburgh. This was after much research, and it was quite lovely but ultimately disappointing.
1. It took 4h and 20min for a meal - and that's not including the time before as we arrived early and had a drink.
2. Not enough sense of occasion and pizazz for the money.
3. Generally they pissed me off as you want it to be all about the food, and it's not as you're starving and just delighted that they've fed you.

However, all our friends were in fine form and managed to stay good humoured, but that might have been the booze. I was also showered with fabulous gifts - something that makes any night go well in my opinion.

After dinner TheO and I took a wander down to the Grassmarket and got a rickshaw back to our hotel (staying the night was a little treat so I could lie around and do my hair for some considerable time that avo whilst TheO ran around Edinburgh trying to find me appropriate gifts).

We then collapsed into the 8 foot bed. No really, 8 feet. I'd already explored the huge shower and free-standing bath. Our pooches were more than delighted by their beds and bowls.

My last presents were opened after midnight but well worth the wait. TheO outdid herself. She knows that I have a magpie eye. A desire for things that STANDOUT and scream luxury, things that mean "no guts:no glory" when it comes to dressing. So she bought me (as well as many other wonderful gifts; bks, perfume, Jeans, embroidered top, gym bag):

And, and I tell you - the matching bag. (For the bag imagine the brightest, shiniest thing you've ever seen - then double it. ;-) ) It is stunning (almost literally), and large enough to be used and makes any outfit have that incredible edge. I might start to drool just writing about it.

Now as everyone knows I love shoes. But I was initially scared of these. I don't wear v high heels (these are 4.5"), I don't wear strappy shoes as I'm not the thinnest person, and I don't wear open toes usually as I have little toes. I thought they might look horrid on me so I didn't want to fall in love with them. I put them on. It was love at first step. I'd always read about starlets and film stars saying that Manolos or Jimmy Choos were sooo comfortable even though they were high. I always thought they were just talking nonsense. They aren't - they are the mutts nutts. They make me squeal with joy. They are the ultimate one in the eye to practicality; they are all about the fabulous - just what is needed at big birthday time.

I considered having some 'thoughts on 30' for this post but really. What can I say about 30? I've only been 30 for a matter of days and I've barely worked out what I think about my 20s - I may need to leave it considerably longer.
I could continue to catch-up and say what a great time we had meeting up with friends, about our trip to London and the wonderful music at the service, about a good exhibition, 2 Chinese meals in one night, and a CB w/end were we stayed up until 3am (unprecedented at this age); but I wont, we need to get things back on track and stop the giant catch-ups. I will say a huge thanks to RF and Wheeler who made sure our dogs lived and were happy pooches on our return.
Now I did make one large life change for 30. Trousers. It might sound more than a bit odd but I've never worn trousers. I didn't own any. Jeans and a vast variety of skirts but no trousers, ever! I have now seen the light - they are the item that was missing in my wardrobe, the item that manages to take things from ordinary to smart/casual. Also age does sometimes call for a more structured look. It's too easy for me to look scruffy as that is my usual bent - jeans, mud, dog hair - old t-shirts layered into multiple mismatches. Scruffy can be cute but can also be bumpkinish - and that is never a good look.

I said I'd get better at this ...

I might have lied. Because we love lists, and 'cos they help me to whip through some past events, I'll continue with the catch-up theory. But really, the running is about to ramp up - and so will the mini running related posts!

1. The neighbours did indeed come round for dinner. We mostly talked about killing things, aparantly that's what you do in the country. Feel sorry for the following creatures: squirrels (gray), deer (old), pheasant (stupid), rabbits (food), and crows (of unknown evil).

2. I decided to tile our cloakroom. It was much harder than expected and I was saved from tile-smashing-hell by TheO who did all the tile cutting. It now looks lovely.

3. I got horrible flu. I'm calling it flu as I had a full-on fever, aches, and was utterly miserable. Luckily TheO pampered me with multiple trashy magazines, tasty food and flowers.

4. While I had flu we had no heating. That sucked. We huddled round the fire for 4 days. I now understand why the Victorians had people to carry coal and tend fires.

5. The new trainers I ordered were bollox - I had to send them back as the shiny new update no longer suits my feet.

6. We went to see Stephen K Amos who was bloody brilliant. A show called Find the Funny which was a bizarre mix of pure comedy, sillyness and genuine thoughtfulness.

7.Managed a quick illness recovery (or as I prefer to call it - feeble) gym trip. 1 mile cross trainer 10min on bike 2.5miles, 10 min on arm machine, 40 sit ups.