Extremely Photogenic Guy, Hand Over Your Crown!

I got the dreaded e-mail informing me that my half marathon photos are up from Sunday, but avoided looking at them until now.  I knew they were going to be bad.  Not only did I have my arms out (not good), but the tights I had on were a thinner material than I normally run with because of the heat (translation: they do not suck everything in to where I want it to stay).  Understand that the photos I have chosen to grace your eyeballs with are the most flattering of the lot.  Then count yourselves lucky that I didn’t post the belly-laugh-inducing hot-mess photos in which I can only compare myself realistically to a stroke victim.  You are welcome.

At the very least I look like I’m actually running in this shot.

I like this one in particular because half of me is not in the photo.

Around the 10k mark, hence the ‘fresh’ appearance….

And so the quest continues for a non-shitty race photo.  Good thing I’m signed up to a gazillion races this year*.

 

*A slight exaggeration.

EMF Edinburgh Half Marathon 2012

Chip time: 1:53:28  PB!

Position: 2,055/?

Medal: Yes

This thing weighs a ton!

It had completely slipped my mind how early this race started (8 am), and what implications that had on the time I could sleep in until (before 6 am).  After a Saturday of lazing in the very un-Scottish heat and sunshine, complete with ice-cream, barbeque, and frisbee, I was ready for a loooooong sleep.  When my (super irritating) phone alarm went off at 5:32 (I don’t like rounded times for an alarm), a happy camper I was not.

Still full of the cold, I went through to the bathroom and blew what felt to be roughly 17 kilos of snot from my head into about half a roll of toilet paper.  I then ventured into the kitchen to make my porridge, which I enjoyed with a vanilla Power Bar and some Gatorade.  Glancing out of the window, I remember thinking I had never been happier to see clouds!

At about 6:15, I set off for the start, which was about a mile and a half from where I was staying – a perfect warm-up walk.  It was actually a bit chilly, and I hoped the cool air would hang around.

London Road, Edinburgh. 6:30 am. Blissfully cool.

Enjoying the less-than-scorching, but sadly, short-lived breeze.

After dumping my bag and taking part in the toilet queue waiting game, twice (in a very timely fashion to the supremely efficient toilet ushers), I headed to the start, and to the ‘black’ pen, full of finishers hoping to clock in at about 2 hours.  After a few minutes chatting to a fellow American, the crowd starting creeping forwards, and the race started pretty much bang on time.

I had decided to try to run the first mile or two without music, after reading on other blogs that the motivation of music only lasts for so long.  I was counting on the initial excitement to carry me through the start, and it did – and then some!  There was a real sense of camaraderie amongst the runners, and since there were so many of us, the route never really cleared out, so we were all pretty cozy, especially after the sun (and pounding heat) broke through the cloud and opened into bright blue skies.  It was also nice to hear the supporters along the way.  And to eavesdrop on people’s conversations that had decided to run together.

In fact, I didn’t really mind not having music in the first half, and didn’t pull my mp3 player out from between my two bras (very handy storage area), until after 8 miles!  After that, the heat was really starting to weigh people down, and I felt I could use the extra boost.  Thanks go out to Elton John (I’m Still Standing), Adam and the Ants (Stand and Deliver), David Bowie (Golden Years), Right Said Fred (I’m Too Sexy), and Brittany Murphy singing ‘Faster Kill Pussycat’.

At around 10 miles, the ‘elite’ runners passed us on the other side of the road, and the hot tarmac seemed to go on forever before it was our turn to turn around.  It was good as I managed to spot someone I knew that was running, and we did that retarded ‘smile-like-a-goon-and-wave-fanatically’ thing.  It was also a pretty good feeling when the turn eventually happened, somewhere after mile 11.  To the person who decided to hook up their hose to a shower feature and attach it to a ladder just after mile 12: you are my hero.  Nothing in my immediate past has felt as good as running through that cool mist felt.  Thank you.

As the mile 13 marker came into sight, I know I was sporting a full-beam grin because it was nearly over.  I dread to look at the photos – in fact I might just avoid it.  When the finish line came into view, I think I overdosed on joy.  I didn’t beast out a sprint like I would normally do because we were running on plastic sheets, and I didn’t really feel like my shoes were getting decent grip, but I kept it fast and steady until I crossed the line, REMEMBERING TO STOP MY GARMIN (!!!!), and immediately felt like puking, which thankfully, I did not.

I got the medal, the water, the goody bag, and my breath back, and then wandered into the battlefield of spent, hot, but elated runners.  It wasn’t long before I ran into Allan (the waving runner), and we took some obligatory finishers photos before starting the trek (seriously, it was like a 25 minute walk in steaming heat) to the shuttle bus back to Edinburgh.

At least 99.9% sexually enticing.

Solo pose

It didn’t take us very long to establish that the finishers medal was:

  1. Really, really heavy; and
  2. Shaped like a penis

The 14 year old boy trapped inside me laughs at this.

All in all, a well-organized race.  I had a great time, scored a PB, and received my first cock-shaped medal.  Not bad for a Sunday morning!

The best things in life are free…

But it’s always nice to be paid for your time.

Last week, I thought of myself as a retired life model.  Life modeling was a way to make fast money (notice I didn’t say ‘easy’) when I was at university (all 7 years of it).  It had relatively flexible hours, paid well, and was actually in pretty high demand in Aberdeen.

It all started when I was 19.  I had a job working in a hotel bar, but Christmas was fast approaching and I needed money to buy my boyfriend (at the time) a gift, before my next payday.  I checked out the job centre at the university and noticed a sign on the wall.  Initially, what I saw was £7.50/hr (it was 2003).  When my tunnel vision subsided, I realized it was for life modeling, and on a whim, I tore off one of the pieces of paper with a phone number on it, and marched home, thinking why not?*

Well, some people might think WHYYYYYYYYY? after seeing one of the sketches from one of my first modeling gigs, a 3 hour informal class on a Saturday morning:

This was the most flattering one I could find, obviously.

I was a big girl.  And I’ll tell you something – being a life model is not a job for people that are critical of their body.  It’s also not a job for people who can’t deal with pain.  Holding a pose, I became aware of muscles I didn’t even know existed, and not just because I hadn’t done exercise in years.  Sitting down might seem, to an onlooker, a rather comfortable thing to do.  Until you realize you’re not allowed to move.  Then a butt cheek falls asleep and you get pins and needles that you force yourself to ignore.  You also notice that your leg is sore and all you want to do is shake it around violently to get the blood flowing.  Nope.  Not for another 35 minutes.

As if the pain wasn’t bad enough, once the pose is over you might think to yourself I’m going to have a peek at what these guys have done.  Bad move.  Especially if you’re in a state of denial about how much weight you’ve put on since you were in high school.  I could have let that soul-destroying experience break me, gone home for a chocolate cake, and never done it again.  Instead?  Well, the money was pretty good.  And I decided I’d keep going back until I saw something that had been created that I was happy with.

Over the years, I’ve worked for private artists, groups in Aberdeen, Stonehaven and London, and several local art groups (White Space, Peacock Visual Arts, Limousine Bull, Aberdeen College).  I’ve learned that when an instructor is telling art students that they haven’t emphasized the ‘folds’ in my skin (euphemism for ‘flab’, I soon discovered), or that my ‘waist should be thicker’, I should lose myself in my own thoughts.  I have discovered new levels of pain.  I have experienced extreme boredom:

Obviously SUPER thrilled.

But happily, I have seen plenty of drawings, sketches and paintings that I love.  I have even been lucky enough to have been given some of them, mainly because the person creating it is chuffed that someone likes their work, I would imagine.

And then, in 2009, I started work as a teacher, and decided that my life modeling days had come to an end.  I had a grown-up job now!

Until Saturday.  I received a call from an unknown number, but they left a message.  It was a woman hoping she had the right number for an Aberdeen based life model.  I could have ignored it, but I was in a ‘what the hell’ mood, and phoned her back to see what she was offering.  To cut a long story short, she lived a ten minute walk from my flat and wanted a one on one session.  She also wanted movement.  As in dancing around her living room to music.  I was game.

She painted dozens of quick sketches during our one hour session, and despite a bit of awkwardness at the start (envisage dad dancing), by the end I actually found I was enjoying myself.  Plus she let me have one of the sketches destined for “the bucket”:

So it looks like I’m out of retirement, as I’m going back next week!

*I can’t even remember what I bought him.  But he probably totally didn’t deserve it.

The Aftermath

When you find yourself on the phone to your mother at 2 am searching for the soothing voice of sympathy, you’ve done something stupid.  I have been battling this cold for nearly a week now, and although yesterday morning I was chipper and enthusiastic, I was not 100% fit to run.  But the sun was out, and that’s kind of like my kryptonite, people.  Not so much that is destroys me, but it has an overpowering effect on me, leaving me unable to resist it’s seductive lure of sexy warmth.

So I ran the 10k, and it hurt to breathe, and I was in a substantial amount of discomfort throughout, and I intentionally avoided looking at my heart rate because I wanted to avoid a freak out.  And then it was over, and I entered a delusional stage that made me feel like I had the power of the HULK (and the overall sex appeal – ie. none).  Witness:

Momentary lapse of dignity – In my mind I’m probably thinking: ‘I’m so bad ass!!!!!’

And then I felt progressively worse as the day wore on.  Here is a visual representation of the remainder of my afternoon (remembering that I have a sunshine fetish and it was BEAUTIFUL outside):

Front row ticket to the Pity Party

Fast forward nearly 12 hours, and I was shivering on my sofa, speaking to my mom in Houston about how crap I felt and getting reassurances like ‘Your throat wont close off and suffocate you in your sleep’, and ‘I promise you don’t have Meningitis, you’d be too sick to phone me if you did’ (I tend to become a bit a total freak-out hypochondriac when I get really ill, especially at night).

I can’t remember when I eventually got to sleep, but I woke up at 6:30 to get ready for work.  By 10 am I was headed right back to my bed, via the pharmacy for some pain relief drugs and Vicks Vapour Rub (amazing stuff).  One power nap and a bit of planning for next week done, I feel no better and no worse.

Knowing that I’ll miss spin class tonight is a bit of a bummer, so in an attempt to cheer myself up, I have registered myself and my unsuspecting mother (a lithe and spirited 55 year old) for a fancy dress 5k in Houston during my planned visit in October.

She said in a recent conversation: “I’ll make sure to read your blog sometime soon.”

We’ll just wait and see how much truth there is in that statement, shall we?

 

***EDIT***  Costume suggestions welcome (and encouraged) in the comments section!

Baker Hughes 10k 2012

Gun Time: 52:56

Chip Time:  51:08

*EDIT (21/5/12): Chip time updated to 50:52

If you were unhappy w/ your chip time, check again – it’s likely to have been updated!

Position: 1111/3774

Medal: Yes

Medal, obviously

My opinion is that parts of this race were a bit of a shambles from the word go.  For those new to the blog, the original race bibs had to be replaced because there was a spelling error on them.  They said ‘Abeerdeen’ instead of ‘Aberdeen’.  Misspelling your own name…. That takes some skill.

In addition to this, and likely because of this, many race packs were arriving very late, and some of them were incomplete (my friend was missing his race shirt, a somewhat obvious thing to miss out of an otherwise non-bulky packet).

But the thing that I have an actual problem with are the chip times.  Not once have I had a chip time SLOWER than my watch time.  I always start timing from just before the start until I have definitely crossed the finish line (I usually forgot the stop the thing).  This is good, because it means I am never disappointed.  Today, after sprinting like a beast over the finish line, I forgot to stop my Garmin.  When I eventually did hit ‘stop’, the time displayed was 51:01.  This meant I was safely under 51 minutes for my chip time.  So imagine my confusion when I checked the results page to read my chip time as 51:08!

After some careful investigation (joining in twitter/Facebook rants about time), I came to the conclusion that there were a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people who had chip times that were 10-15 seconds or more off their Garmin times.  So it wasn’t just me, which was a relief, but something had obviously not worked correctly, which was really annoying.

Anyway, I’m counting my Garmin time of 50:53, which, although is nowhere near my PB, is still the fastest 10k this year, and since I have become able to run again after nearly 2 years off, so I’m happy that things are progressing.

Notice the time at the end before my speed drops off (ie: I cross the line and slow down, trying not to barf)

I’m especially happy with my time as I spent the majority of yesterday shivering with cold sweats, mopping snot off my face and sleeping on the couch.  I felt equally gross this morning, but could not skip out on an event that was a mile’s walk from my flat (and a bit).  There was coughing.  There was spluttering.  There was shortness of breath.  There was feeling like I could happily lay on the road and cry, as long as it meant not running.  And then there was my body’s ‘fuck you for making me do this’, also known as ‘being curled up in bed, in pain, on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon.  I am already starting to feel some of these after effects in my post-run photo:

The alka-seltzer breakfast had worn off.

At least my friend Grant was in a fitter state to run a 10k today, and managed a new PB!  It’s just a shame that it might actually be 10-15 seconds faster than he currently thinks it is:

Posing like it’s going out of fashion

This is the fourth time I’ve done the Baker Hughes, the first time being in 2008, and this is the only time I’ve ever experienced anything negative.  Hopefully the results can be sorted out, especially for those out there that PB’d and fancy an accurate recording of their time, otherwise I’m sticking with my Garmin time, thank you very much!

7 things

Let me introduce you to my situation using a simple equation:

children with rancid hygeine habits + me = monster cold before a race (again)

Seriously, about a month ago I noticed a chocolate Minstrel on the floor of my classroom on a Friday afternoon.  Being a responsible adult, I ignored it, and left as soon as the bell went.  It was still there on the following Monday, and I watched as kids trampled over it, kicked it, asked why it was there, etc.  Essentially, I was waiting for a kid to misbehave enough so that I could tell him (it’s usually a him) to pick it up and put it in the bin.  This Monday, they were angels.  At the start of the very last period, a class entered and sat down, taking out their notebooks.  One boy noticed the Minstrel and picked it up.  The conversation followed as such:

Me: [Child], would you mind putting that in the bin?
Child: But it’s a Minstrel.
Me: Excllent observation, [child], but it has been getting acquainted with the floor all weekend, and the underside of many shoes this morning.  I think it should get acquainted with the bin.
Child (eyeballing the piece of candy like it arouses him): I think it should become acquainted with my belly.
Me: Seriously, bin.
(At this point the class are enthralled)
Child: Five second rule.
Me: It is way beyond the fi-
He eats it.  The class erupt in a unanimous ‘EEEEERRRGHHH!!!’ He swallows.
Me: That is disgusting.

So you can see, children have no awareness of germs and how they destroy weekends.  And this results in me catching nasty diseases off them CONSTANTLY.  I guess the upside is in about 10 years I’ll be immune to pretty much everything.  The downside, however, is that the day before a race I’m hoping to do well in I end up soaking numerous tissues in snot, it hurts to breathe, my head feels like it’s going to explode, and I get cranky. Please witness exhibit A:

Side note: I am fully dressed under the bathrobe, but I’m shivering.

Regular readers will maybe remember the ‘dark event’ of April, the Glenlivet 10k, which was my first DNS.  The reason I didn’t take part was a monster cold, fever, dizziness, and a concerned boyfriend telling me I should stay in bed.  The race tomorrow will not be a repeat.  Even if I have to jog the freaking thing, I am not losing out on another medal, and I am not wussing out of a race that is practically on my doorstep.  Also, they’ve sent out the race shirts, so I’d never allow myself to wear it if I didn’t actually complete the course.  It’s bad luck.

Anyway, since I’ve been too ill to really do anything today, I’ve had some time to think.  A while back, I was tagged in one of Danielle’s posts about 7 things she is loving at the moment.  The concept (bravo you brainy beasts who can see where this is going already!) is to list 7 things you are into right now, then tag 7 people to do the same.  Like chain mail.  Or a pyramid scheme.  I hadn’t gotten around to doing this before because I was busy and it really is hard to pick just 7 things that rev me up, but I think I’ve managed it.  And so, without further ado, 7 things I’m digging just now:

1. My new microwave

Pictured: Approx 1/3 of my entire kitchen.

This was an impulse buy when I was buying some DVD’s in Asda to shove on for the end of term.  I’ve wanted a microwave for years because sometimes you just want to stick a tin of tomato soup in a bowl and have a quick dinner with minimum mess.  I also want friends to be able to cook their microwave dinners when they come round at 8:30 pm after a long day at work without having to send them away again for non-microwavable food.  So I bought this bad boy because it was on offer.  Immediately afterwards, I realized three things:

  1. I live about a mile and a half from the gym (next to Asda).
  2. It was raining.
  3. I don’t drive.

Luckily, I managed to blag a lift off of one of the guys at the gym, and I set it up as soon as I got in.

2. The running track around Rice University, Houston

One of my favourite places

(Photo above taken by my dad, at my request, about a month ago)

I’m originally from Houston, TX, and that’s where my family live just now.  I love my annual/bi-annual trips home because I get to hang out with my family, who I actually think are pretty cool, despite my 15-year-old view that they would always be, like, sooooooo annoying.  I also like going back for warmth and guaranteed sunshine.  And because Texas is 6 hours behind, even with a ‘sleep in’, I wake up at about 6 am – the perfect time to head to the running track around Rice University for a couple of laps of the 3 mile loop.  It’s great because there are always runners of all abilities, the trees make the run scenic despite being practically downtown, and you get a pretty decent share of whack-out pedestrians (there is this one Mexican chick that pushes a chihuahua around in a baby stroller – no joke).

My next trip to Houston will be in October, and in addition to seeing my family, I’ll be seeing my friends.  In particular, loads of my high-school class (it’s our 10 year reunion – holy shit, that decade flew by).  One of my old classmates is my friend Nikki, who has agreed that we should totally do a race together.  So we’ve signed up to the Huntsville Half Marathon, and we’re going to rock it!  And then hit IHOP for some carbs!

3. Sunshine

Aberdeen Beach before parkrun

This one might seem a bit lame to readers that do not reside in Scotland, but I have become so unaccustomed to seeing sunshine, that when it does emerge from behind grey clouds, I can literally feel myself cheer up.  Sunny days in Aberdeen are bittersweet, though.  They make me appreciate the beauty of the city, but they also make me want to move somewhere where I could enjoy outdoor activities a lot more regularly than Scotland.  And in warmer temperatures!

4. Study Leave

View from my desk

Don’t get me wrong, despite all my bitching, I like my job.  Teenagers are pretty amusing, what with their ridiculous questions, and their ‘fashion’, and their drama.  But with increasing class sizes and cutbacks everywhere, study leave is a blissful time of peace during which you can try to catch up with all the marking, planning, organizing, and paperwork that has been slowly (or quickly) mounting up throughout the year.  You can just get stuck into work and soldier through.  Unless you get cover.

5. Torture Devices

Cheerful colours to mask the pain-inflicting spikes!

Items like foam rollers and spiked physio balls.  Bringers of pain, but the good pain that you know is ultimately doing you good.  NB: Don’t use the wooden Body Shop massage roller with maximum force on your quads whilst grimacing through the pain – you’ll just end up unable to run properly for about a week.  Stick with the bright, cheerful devices, like the ones above.

6. Marks and Spencer’s Special Reserve Prosciutto

Divine

This stuff is delicious.  And it makes me think of my mum’s parents as the tiny village in Italy that my Grandad is from is the same place this delicious meat product is from: San Daniele del Friuli.  Anyway, I think it’s cool that I’ve been there.

7. The Spelling Mistake on the Original Race Bibs for Tomorrow’s Baker Hughes 10K

Someone clearly had a post race drink on the brain!

(Photo courtesy of @Dawdles)

I mean, what more can I say about this?

***

So the final part of this exercise is to tag 7 other bloggers so they can share 7 things they love.  And the 7 are:

  1. Nikki – My friend mentioned in the post above, because her list will be amazing, I’m sure, and I’d love to see some more action on her blog! 😉
  2. Cat – who has tagged me in a different post that I will also eventually get around to!  She has also recently achieved her goal of completing the London Marathon, and has, it appears, been bitten by the running bug.
  3. Megan – who has recently finished her first ever Tough Mudder (a feat I’ll be doing in July here in Scotland).  She also, despite her complaining, looks WAY better than I do in race photos.
  4. Penny – a half marathon MACHINE!
  5. Niall – new to running, and new to blogging – the gauntlet is thrown! Plus I thought it would seems sexist to omit a male!
  6. Rachel – A runner who takes the sensible approach: running when it’s nice outside! Also the owner of a rather amazing name…
  7. …and last, but by no means least, Happy Runner, whose positivity and love for running comes across in every post she writes, and every encouraging comment she gives.

Of course my calf hurts.

So, two race weekends in a row are coming up, and ever since that last parkrun, my calf has been hurting.  I did 2 miles on the treadmill on Monday, and it was sore. It was meant to be 4, so I’m guessing that if I’m going to be running this weekend, I wont be running this week.  And if I’m going to be running NEXT weekend, at the Edinburgh half, I’m going to be taking it a bit easy on Sunday at the 10k.

Fab-u-lous.

At least it doesn’t seem to hurt when I’m doing other exercise, so that’s alright.

Speaking of the Baker Hughes 10k, although I got my race pack on Saturday, I have friends who are taking part that STILL haven’t received theirs, though an e-mail went out saying they should be there by Thursday at the latest.  So anyone out there still waiting, you have another day to wait before complaint e-mails!  Apparently there was an extra ‘e’ in Aberdeen or something – I’d quite like to see a photo of one of the blooper bibs though.

In other news, my ridiculously shit, less-than-a-year-old boiler decided to up and quit working, again, yesterday.  It’s great how it always waits until a dip in the temperature to give up on me.  Plumbers are upstairs beavering away as I type.

And off to work I go!

Another parkrun PB, last minute race packs and new races.

After the success of last week’s parkrun, I was doubtful I could improve today.  To cut a long story short, I did improve, and have a new parkrun PB of 24:01.  Such a nagging itch in the crotch that I was a mere 2 seconds from coming in under 24 minutes, but ho hum, maybe next time, right?  I was also pretty happy to finish 5th female.  Single figures is always pretty sweet (and there is simply no need to investigate and find out how many women actually participated – who needs to be brought down?).

In other news, I finally got my race pack delivered for the Baker Hughes 10k here in Aberdeen next Sunday.  There was a delay because they noticed, after sending out a few batches of race packs, that there was a spelling mistake on the bibs, so had to halt production, get new ones made, and then start resending stuff.  It was a nice surprise to come home to after the gym and parkrun.  I’m pleased that the technical tee is significantly less boring than ones in the past – they’ve used lots of colour!

Nice easy number to remember!

I was kind of thinking about running the 10k at half marathon pace, because I want to rock the Edinburgh half marathon the following weekend, but I know once I’m at the starting line, I’ll find it really difficult not to just hit the gas.  I guess I’ll make my final decision when the starting gun goes!

Finally, all these long runs on the weekend make me seriously dread my full marathon training that will need to kick into gear in July-ish.  I can see myself getting really bored of them, without any atmosphere and all on my own.  Solution?  Search online for any long race that can be substituted as a ‘long run’ for motivation!  So my marathon debut will be at Loch Ness in late September (the day after a friend’s wedding in Edinburgh, so I’ll have some magic to work there).  Two weeks prior to this, I have entered the Crathes half marathon, and two weeks prior to the Crathes half marathon, I have blindly entered the BRG Challenge, a 17.5 mile hilly beast of a run up North.

In a couple of days when my updated race schedule registers in my brain, I’ll perhaps be slightly irritated with myself for depriving my body of a few weekend lie-ins, but in the end, I think it’s for the best, pre-marathon, not only as training, but to help me feel more confident about actually completing the distance in one piece…

Got a penis? Suck my balls.

I’m in a bit of a grump about the fact that, as a woman, I am pretty much going to be crappier at running than most men.  At least when it comes to speed.  Male friends that I have coerced into running races with me frequently zoom past me at the start, not to be seen again until I throw my heaving carcass across the finish line to have them greet me with such encouraging comments as ‘That was a lot easier than I thought’ or ‘Where did you disappear to?’.  Male friends who, merely a couple of months before, feared running for more than 30 minutes IN ONE GO.

So what gets you guys annoyed when running?  Slow starters in the fast pens?  Over-synchronized running gear?  Forgetting to hit ‘start’ on the Garmin?