Friday, 31 December 2010

Cheers!


If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just finish the race. It's up to you.

(Dave Scott, American tri-athlete and six-time Ironman World Champion. Via Runner's World Daily Kick in the Butt)

Happy New Year and good luck for Janathon!

Here's to 2011 - whatever your goal.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Bright ideas

Some of my best ideas come into my little brain whilst running. If I'm struggling to plan a lesson then a little jog can be one of the most productive things I can do to get thoughts straight in my head (too bad I need so much reminding of this). How frustrating it can be that there's rarely a way of jotting these ideas down when shuffling around a run. Conversely, it's very rare that a truly top-notch idea will find its way into my head after pickling in 5 pints of London Pride at the pub. Funny then that laptops and wireless interwebs make it all too easy to record (and, worse, publicise) my musings in this state. Let's take this Christmas Eve, for example, whereupon merrily falling through the door, I opened not only my laptop but also the massive tub of Celebrations we'd been saving for Christmas. I discovered the true extent of my brain activity on Christmas morning when I found a smooshed up Galaxy Truffle on my keyboard (of course I went for the good ones first) and a mysterious badge on my blog. It seems that in my infinite and inebriated wisdom, I thought it an entirely magnificent idea to sign up for the Janathon, an 'annual festival of activity and excuses' organised by Cathy at JogBlog.


I started this little blog in June
- exactly 16 weeks before the marathon I was planning on running in October. Today puts me back in the same place with 16 weeks to go until London 2011. I went out for a slow 3 miler today with my friend and we decided that it probably won't be particularly easy to run every single day for 31 days; however, given that I've made fewer than 20 posts in 6 months, it looks like the truly tricky bit might be blogging about it. I just hope all the running will inspire some creative thinking - if not, I'll have to go to the pub more often.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Permanent innuendo

I love a good innuendo. Double the entredre, double the fun, I say. My childish sense of humour loves to turn the most innocent of phrases into a work of smut. In fact, my similarly juvenile friend has ruined the idea of a "chocolate fountain" for me and don't even get me started on the need for a "fiscal stimulus" in these times of austerity.

This childish streak leaves me nervous of clumsy mistakes at the hairdresser and I dread the day I ask for much more than a "cut and blow dry" during an otherwise routine appointment. Imagine my nerves this week then when I took myself to London Village to a salon that advertises the wondrous "permanent blow dry" treatment. I pictured pervs lined up down the street having misread the advert. They'd be in for disappointment, that's for sure, since the only steaminess they were promised during this hour was permitted by the relief of my poor, distressed hair follicles as the kind lady ran her styling instruments over my parched, gasping locks. After some intensive treatment, the lady insisted that she would need to straighten my hair, to ensure that the shaft (*fnar*) remained regimented and proud as the conditioner penetrated (*snigger*) and conditioned the cuticles. Any of the pervs who'd got this far has better bloomin' make sure that they put their hood up on their flasher mac when they leave, or else they may run this risk of their barnets being rendered brambled and bush-like by the slightest whiff of moisture (*gah*) in the air. I left the place with silky, yet sticky, tresses, ready for anything the next 3 months could throw at me.

"WTF does this have to do with running?" I'm sure you're asking. Well, precisely nothing is the accurate answer, especially as I'm not allowed to wash my hair for 3 days, unless I wish to risk looking like Sideshow Bob from now until the forseeable...

Yes, this is the ultimate excuse to miss training. You heard it here first. It had better frikkin' be worth it.




Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Flattery

From a 12-year old today,

"Are you having a baby?"

Training clearly not going quite as well as I thought. Should be warm for the winter though.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

iFaff

Getting an iPod revolutionised my running a few years ago and it's got me through the boredom of many a long run, not to mention some of the darker moments of one or two marathons. I filled up my gadget with 5 hours of motivational tunes and happidly plodded away to an eclectic mix of 70s funk and noughties pap. Then I added a GPS gizmo to my amoury, allowing me to scrutinise the data for every session and providing cold, hard evidence that I'd been deluding myself about the actual distance of my runs.

However, once you've factored in the sports bras, the vaseline and the double-layer blister-proof socks, getting kitted up with all this gear turned a training run into more of a space mission than the liberating, faff-free sport that people make out.

Recently, I've been too disorganised to charge the gadgets (not sure I even know where the chargers are), so the faff-factor has been reduced considerably (although the sports bra remains a staple, you'll be relieved to know). This meant that I arrived at Blenheim 10K this morning ready to run without the usual paraphernalia once again.

As I shuffled around the grounds, I overheard two friends, both with earphones in, SHOUTING AT EACH OTHER:

Lady 1: "HOW ARE YOU FEELING?"
Lady 2: "YES, IT'S NICE ISN'T IT?"
Lady 1: "IS THE PACE OK?"
Lady 2: "I THOUGHT IT WOULD RAIN!"
Lady 1: "SHALL WE GO A BIT FASTER?"
Lady 2: "THE SUN'S EVEN COMING OUT NOW!"

Lady 1 then sprinted off ahead, presumably happy in the knowledge that her friend was in agreement.

It's not the first time I've pondered the pros and cons of iPods whilst running. It only took a few races of having my toes trodden on by other auditorily-overloaded athletes for me to realise that perhaps it wasn't necessarily the best idea in a crowd of moving people and some race organisers have recognised this and made attempts to ban MP3 players on safety grounds. There was also one occasion when I trumped so loudly I heard it over the shouts and screams of James Brown in my ears.

There must have been plenty of studies on the effect of music on physical performance and it doesn't take a genius to figure that a fast, upbeat tune is more likely to keep your pecker up than a gentle, instrumental arrangement of muzak. The right tune at the right time can be like rocket fuel, but the wrong tune and the wrong time is entirely different... memories of the late, great Isaac Hayes' Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic playing whilst peripheral vision started to wane at mile 17 in Amsterdam marathon is enough evidence of that for me.

Last week though, my friend ran Henley Half Marathon, all the time tracking his progress with RunKeeper on his iPhone. Nowthatiscool.com. You can take photos of the route along the way and it takes spectating to a whole new level of ease; in fact, I followed his entire effort from the comfort of my living room, whilst also watching the Commonwealth Games on TV. He also ran today, much faster than me, but he couldn't hear me shouting to him on the loop back, probably because he was humming along to Mr Blue Sky at full volume.

I've tried to run two marathons without listening to my trusty iPod, but I've taken it with me as a safety blanket - both times, I've ended up listening to it. I'd like to think I'll be able to run London without it and soak up the atmosphere instead. I guess I'll have to wait and see. The GPS, I suspect, will have to make a reappearance but I'll have to find the wretched charger first.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Dangerously close

It's been a little quiet around here again, hasn't it? Can only mean one thing - I'm abandoning the Good Ship Effing Marathon once again. I've known this a little while but it's never nice to say out loud. I can now run on my sausage-esque toe but it hasn't been quite the same since I tried to do an Evel Knievel in the summer (crunchy isn't really an adjective that should describe ones digits). So I don't really have the miles in for a marathon in a fortnight's time. A pie marathon maybe, but not an actual marathon, with people in flappy shorts and bleepy watches.

This rather shamefully puts the scores on the doors to:

K 4 - DNS 3

In other news, I started a new job at the beginning of the month, which has kept me off the streets for the majority of time I spend awake; however, work is now much closer to home and allows me to commute by bike or foot - result!

Last night, I heard Hugh Preece-Williams speak about his 50 in 50 challenge earlier this year. Think Eddie Izzard, only more marathons and less eye-liner. Inspiring stuff indeed. Made me think I should HTFU really.

Lucky then that I got home to find a mysterious red cellophane envelope waiting on my doormat.

Now, I've been watching the post like a hawk for the past week or so because, year after year, I have entered the London ballot and, year after year, I have received the "Get Lost, Sucker" edition of the magazine and a "Ha! In Your Face, Loser!" fleece (the reason for the fleece has always baffled me: are you supposed to wear it so that people stop and say "Oh have you run London?"?. That would just make you feel bad. Unless you're a bit of a turd and just lie. Hmmm. See? Baffling).

This funny red plastic bag seemed different this year, so I hurriedly tore it to shreds to find I have the "Hey you! Come and run our great big flippin' marathon!" magazine and a nice acceptance letter, where they had my date of birth wrong (7 days too old. Tsk).

I've always thought these magazines were the stuff of legends, an urban myth, like alligators in sewers and scuba divers in trees. But no, I am in receipt of one this year, like Charlie and his golden ticket (only he can probably run faster and I eat more chocolate). And inside? It's pretty much the blummin' same as the rejection mag. Hey ho, I'm in.

Now I just have to find away of making sure that the nasty DNS doesn't score an equaliser.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The hamster wheel

Some time ago, I subscribed to the Runner's World Daily Kick in the Butt. Each day, I am supposed to receive an inspiring quote via e-mail that'll get me out of the house and running like Forrest Gump. Like I said, this was some time ago and I've received many of these pearls since then (and the impact on my training has been.....?..... let's not talk about that).

Occasionally, one will strike a chord and I'll agree with the sentiment, but today's was just plain bonkers. See if you can't make head nor tail of this priceless gem:

"Like a hamster, I enjoy only the illusion of freedom, but unlike a hamster, I can put on running shorts and break through the tube walls.
"

I'm off back to work this week; the analogies with rodents and illusions of freedom stop there.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

So far, toe good

After four weeks of hobbling, swimming, prodding, moaning and ugly shoes (apart from one ill-advised attempt to wear heels for an evening, which lasted about an hour and resulted in a black toe nail the following day), I have just been for a run! Only 2 miles, but it's better than nothing. It felt so rough, but so good at the same time. Fingers (and toes) crossed I can get some shoes on in the morning, eh?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Pork, dust and swimming

One week on and the toe looks less like a big German Blutwurst but more of a cheeky Spanish chorizo now. It turns out there are a number of things that are tricky to do with a foot resembling a selection of charcuterie though:

1. Wear fab shoes (the trusty Kayano's are still favoured).
2. Do press-ups.
3. Go running.

I'm sure there are more but it turns out number 3 is a particular pig (or pork-derived delicacy) when there's a marathon in fewer than 10 weeks. In which case, I suppose I could add:

4. Write a blog about training for a marathon.

(Cue painful sausage puns: “What’s the wurst that could happen?”, “It's not the wurst-case scenario”, “There’s a wurst time for everything”, “Oh this has really brat the wurst out in me” etc, etc.)

In other news, four burly builders have just turned up to start our kitchen work. We thought things would start at a fairly pedestrian pace this morning... cup of tea, shaking of heads, another cup of tea, sucking air through front teeth, biscuit, one last cup of tea...

We seriously underestimated the efficiency of these fellows. At just gone 9, a whirlwind started in the house. Windows are being torn out and the water’s off already. I feel suddenly motivated to get out training again. Not because the builders look like this* but because the house looks like this:


So I’m off for a swim, the wurst of many this summer I suspect.

*In case you were wondering, they don't, by the way.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Kit testing

Home for the weekend, my brother asked me if I'd like to go mountain biking yesterday. Ever happy to embrace cross-training opportunities and rarely one to let a lack of appropriate kit be a burden, I set about establishing a series of comedy compromises, the three most significant of which being:

1. Borrowing my mum's bike.
2. Realising in the car park that said bike has slick tyres on it.
3. Attiring my feet in my trusty Asics Gel Kayano running shoes.

These shoes have been fantastic. I've had the 13 and 14 models and they are a great stability shoe. Lots of cushioning around the heel and, most importantly, my latest ones are GOOOOOOLD. Surely they'd be fine for an evening pootle round the woods on my (or at least my mum's) bike... what could possible go wrong?

Long story short and an oh-so-glad-that-no-one-had-a-video-or-that-would-have-been-on-you-tube-faster-than-you-can-say-face-plant moment later, I can now enlighten the world with the knowledge that that the humble Kayano makes a particularly ineffective biking shoe.

On a more positive note, they are proving to be the most comfortable thing to wear on a busted up big toe today.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Yoof of today

I did an easy-ish plod of 3 miles or so this morning, to fit in with a drive back to my folks' place for the weekend. Running around where I live can often be interesting but by and large the people are nice. I do often wince a little though when I can see myself approaching anyone a little... er... "unsavoury" looking... shall we say? I guess it's just self-preservation for a girly out running alone.

This morning, such citizens came in the shape of two adolescent boys, masking themselves with hoods, despite the sticky weather, and swaggering proudly up the road. I bravely upped the pace and tried shuffle stealthily past; however, I didn't go unnoticed and they thought themselves very amusing to start making noises reminiscent of Pepé Le Pew trying to impress that poor kitty cat, only lacking the flattering sentiments.

I never know quite what to do in these situations, so I plumped for the first thing that came into my head: flick them the finger and run for it*.

At least I could be certain of one thing - there was no way they could chase after me. They'd chosen to wear their trousers at half mast as only yooves (plural of yoof, surely?) know how. These bad boys were so precariously low slung, they were approaching their ankles - even the slightest of jogs and gravity would have put a stop to the pursuit. Phew.

*(Aren't I the upstanding member of the community?!)

Monday, 26 July 2010

Did totally too

The Tour de France is over for another year. Sad face. I thought I'd mark it with the advert that's kept me amused throughout.



Wrestling is for girls.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Good value

Oh the neglect. Of the blog. Of the training!

All the good intentions in the world... enough said. In my defense, the end of this term was a particularly fraught one, with the end of the academic year and the end of my time at this school. The last week was a heady mix of cake, tears and snot. Although I was proud that I did cycle into work once.

Anyway, excuses excuses. Time for action again as the summer holidays stretch ahead and a perfect opportunity for some binge training. I haven't exactly stuck rigidly to the marathon plan (although I did get a cheeky 7 miler in the bag before the snot-fest ensued); however, The Plan dictated a 10K today. Knowing this in advance, I got organised and entered the Elmbridge 10K. If nothing else, having paid money upfront is a good way to get me out of bed and committed to a run (although not surefire as I've explained before).

It was good to smell the intoxicating scent of Deep Heat as I walked sheepishly into the race HQ to collect my number this morning. Ah I remember that. I was surrounded my a curious mixture of veteran club runners and tanned glamazons in full make-up and I wondered where I'd fit in. Had it really been that long since my last race? I queued up to collect my number and overheard a three-way conversation between some gnarly looking vets in vests each claiming they were out for a "easy" run today. Somehow I suspected that this was a slight fabrication of the truth. They seemed to reassure each other though.

The man on the PA system was offering £100 to the first person to break the course record today. With the women's record standing at a skimpy 33 minutes, I felt fairly certain that that needn't concern me and set myself the target of arriving back within double that time. I was strangely calm on the start line, I'd decided to leave the GPS and iPod at home (actually that sounds more deliberate than it was really) and I wondered how necessary the technology really was. Ever the conformist though, I started my stopwatch as the gun went, just to look the part.

It was then I remembered how I used to hate 10Ks - it's short enough that fit people can really go for it and this unnerves the less well-conditioned at the back of pack, causing mayhem at the start. It took mere minutes to spit me out of the main field, where I found myself shuffling along with the laughing boys. I wasn't there to worry about things like that though. This was strictly a training run, so knuckled down into a steady pace.

It took about 4km for me to remember two things: 1) there is always someone less prepared than you; and 2) the aforementioned mayhem will take its toll on these people eventually. I was thrilled as I started to pass people, giving me renewed energy each time this happened. I started to hold my head higher and enjoy my run. OK, I was only passing octogenarians and rugby players with hangovers, but it was a start. With 2km to go, the demographic suddenly began to change and slowly but surely I was catching SKINNY PEOPLE! I sucked in my tummy, lengthened my stride and tried to stifle the heavy breathing. How impressed I am sure these people were! Ahem.

I finished in a rather pedestrian 1 hour 04 minutes - a full 17 minutes slower than my PB (in fact, quite possibly a PW) but a time that, I'm sure you'll agree, represents excellent value for money on my £12 entry fee.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Buddies

The training buddy is a super source of motivation, especially when your will to train is weaker than your desire to eat/sleep/generally procrastinate etc.

I managed a near 2 hour bike ride, whilst putting the world to rights, with my friend last night. Barely noticed the hill she insisted we ride up at the end.

My running chum texted me yesterday too. "Oh no, I'm double booked!" I thought. Only to open his message and discover he wasn't trying to arrange a run, but was announcing the birth of his new baby son instead. Hooray! Congratulations! Let us celebrate with cake!

All hail the training buddy!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Training before cake

I cycled to work today, much to the bemusement of my class of 8 year olds. If I can hope to have taught them anything this year then it is to ask lots of questions and they are an inquisitive bunch.

"What on earth did you do that for, Miss K?"

Good question.

The reasons were threefold:
1) It was a glorious day and I wanted to make the most of sunshine.
2) It was Sports Day today and didn't have to lug in the usual truck load of paperwork.
3) I've just entered my 5th marathon and the day of reckoning is 16 weeks away now.

Training. Must. Begin.

Truth be told, I've just entered my 7th marathon, but I failed to turn up for two last year. Oh the shame. There are a couple of things I could try to blame this on: an over-training injury a couple of years ago and subsequent loss of mojo; or a career change that has left me struggling to establish any kind of work/life balance.

But there's another thing I've been harping on about to my little charges since September - "take responsibility for your actions". So I must do the same.

I've been a lazy toad. Not when it comes to work but definitely when it comes to physical exertion. A lazy toad who likes cake. OhmanIlovethecake. I've made excuses not to go training and I've got to a place where it's OK to bail on a race that I've spent money on entering. I don't like that.

I need some motivation but I'm currently watching a piece on the news about how the government is pulling the cash for those pesky public info films*. You know the ones that make you look shamefully at your second plate of cheese and biscuits from the comfort of the sofa. So I'm looking to the blogosphere for that kick up the butt.

I can't promise this little blog will be particularly witty or intelligent. In fact, I find it unlikely that anyone will actually read it. But if I say here and now that I'm going to get fit again and run this marathon then I have to do it. Right?

The cake will stay. But from now it must be Training Before Cake.

p.s. not all public info films are pesky. Charlie says so.

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