The last time the age on my birthday card will start with a ‘2’

(unless I am very, very lucky and/or advances in medicine explode in the next decade or so)

Last week I turned 29, the same age my mother was when I shot out of her womb.  You have no idea how immature that makes me feel, because unlike my mother, I am not, at this grand age:

  • married
  • procreating
  • able to deal with a financial crisis without phoning my dad

I’ll spare you dialogue about my early mid-life crisis, and skip ahead to what I actually did for my birthday.  On the actual day, I had a really long and shitty in-service day at school.  It involved a lot of despair, and I didn’t bother reminding anyone that it was my birthday, instead wishing to slip out of the building as quickly as possible at the end of the day (success).  Upon returning home, I got changed and left for spin class, where I was shouted at and made to sweat obscene amounts.  Then I went home to shower and go to bed.  Rock and motherfuckin’ roll, am I right?

The one thing I left out of the ultra depressing paragraph above is the surprise birthday present from he who has hitherto been referred to as Ian, but is now to be known as ‘Ultimate Boyfriend’.  Awaiting my arrival home after school, THIS is what I was confronted with in my bedroom:

If I was sexually attracted to objects, I would have rubbed myself up against this bike.

If I was sexually attracted to objects, I would have rubbed myself up against this bike.

I was speechless.  Hands down, this is one of the best birthday (and Valentine’s, I am told) presents I have received.  Unfortunately, as I am training for a marathon that will be happening in less than two months, I don’t really have much time or energy for any kind of exercise on the weekend that doesn’t involve my long run, so I haven’t had the chance to test it out.  Also, the weather has been crap-tastic.  However, in a week’s time I only have a 10 mile race since it’s a drop down week, so I can totally try this sexy machine out on Saturday.  I.  Am.  Pumped.

As a side note, I uploaded this photo to Facebook with the caption:

I think I can safely say Ian is an amazing boyfriend, and he may have just secured a Valentine’s blowjob.  Happy Birthday to me!

Once he realized the photo was online, he showed his colleagues without realizing what I had written, only to be pulled aside by his boss to be told how inappropriate it was to buy gifts for sexual favours.  In jest.

Speaking of weekends, the weekend after my birthday was when I celebrated with friends.  We went to a local pottery painting cafe that usually caters to children’s parties, and painted portraits of each other onto plates.  We all picked a name out of a hat and had two hours to paint our victim onto a plate that they could take home and cherish forever.  Here we are, hard at work:

IMG_20130222_211204There were obvious differences in artistic ability, which led to some comedy moments.  Here are the finished plates with the people they are meant to portray:

Lisa (by Katherine)

Lisa (by Katherine)

Katherine (by Bruce)

Katherine (by Bruce)

Ian (by Dylan)

Ian (by Dylan)

Dylan (by Grant)

Dylan (by Grant)

Grant (by Ian)

Grant (by Ian)

Bruce (by me)

Bruce (by me)

Me (by Lisa)

Me (by Lisa)

I was able to pick up the finished plated on Tuesday, and they are much more vivid.  Good for colour, less good for humorously terrible artistic skills.  And yes, Dylan morphed in George Michael during the painting process so Grant added a gold hoop earring and ‘FAITH!!’:

IMG_20130219_161908

This weekend ‘Ultimate Boyfriend’ and I are heading to Edinburgh for his sister’s 40th, then I have a long run of (hopefully) 21 miles on Sunday with some friends.  For the first time this year I have actually managed some mid-week runs instead of just stuff at the gym, so I’m hopeful that my calf is slowly getting better, with management.  It also means I might feel less guilty if I don’t nail 21 miles…

The Running Shop Winter XC series: Race 3

Time: 56:37

Position: 38/43

Medal: Yes

IMG_20130217_170013And with Sunday’s race, I have earned my first medal of 2013!  More akin to a fun run medal, it does not do the brutality of the 6 mile cross country race series justice!  Admittedly I only earned 2/3 of the medal.  You see, the second race had to be rescheduled, but it just so happened that it was rescheduled for the same day as the Forfar multi terrain half marathon, and it made more sense to run 13 miles than 6 seeing as I have a marathon coming up (very soon).

So how did I take home the series medal, I hear you ask with genuine interest?  Simple.  Ishbel, who features quite regularly here, took my bib for the XC race, while I suffered through mud, ice, and an unhappy stomach.  And she demolished the course, leaving me as the 4th overall senior woman in the entire series.  I can’t even begin to describe how relieved I was that I didn’t have to go up for the 3rd place prize in front of human gazelles.

Anyway, back to Sunday’s race.  The original plan was to get a lift to the race, run it, get a lift home, and relax.  But then I realized how close the actual race was – a mere 4 miles from my front door.  So why not just jog there to warm up?  After a brief conversation with my fellow runners, we decided to make a day of it, and run there, race, and run back, banking a cool 14 miles.  The conversation went something like this:

Claudia: It isn’t that far to the playing fields, I was thinking of running there.
Me: Excellent idea.  Ronnie?
Ronnie: If we must.

As if that doesn’t sound delightful enough, it is uphill to the playing fields, and Ronnie had decided to take us on a scenic and undulating route resulting in a lot of huffing, puffing, and swearing on the way there.  Ronnie has been banned from choosing the route in the immediate future.  At least, for the first time in ages, the sun was out and the skies were blue.

Upon arrival at the playing fields, we met up with a few other runners [picture is not being used because I resemble a whale – no word of a lie], and then, because I had an arbitrary number in my head, decided to run laps on the track outside the pavilion to add on a couple of extra miles so my total for the day would hit 16.  Claudia (also lacking good judgement) joined me.

To recap, I decided to run a moderately tiring 6.34 miles BEFORE a 6 mile cross country race that ended just over 4 miles from my home.  Needless to say the actual race sucked hard, and I felt like puking/giving up/having stern words with myself when I got home/collapsing several times.  The race was one short lap, followed by what I thought was 3, but what turned out to be 4 horrendous laps around playing fields, with a horrible uphill stretch at the end of the lap.  Obviously I was panting from about 20 feet in.  Although we had agreed to stick together, my shittiness at being a team player outshone everyone else’s, because once I realized I was out in front, I decided I’d rather just be done with the whole painful experience than wait for everyone to catch up.

If you were expecting details, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.  The entire race is a blur of pain, and unfortunately it was so relentless that Ronnie had to pull out, resulting in his first DNF.  I was surprised to see him waiting at the finish as I came in, and he seemed pretty disappointed, but he did the right thing judging by his description of how he was feeling.  Shortly afterwards, Susan, who has decided on a whim to join us, came into the finisher’s chute:

IMG_20130217_161843 (1)

And then Claudia:

IMG_20130217_161821 (1)Since Ronnie was feeling a bit better, we headed back to the pavilion and had some light refreshments while the awards ceremony went on, and then collected after finishers’ medals and treated ourselves to a cheeky massage (good afternoon calves).  It felt good.

IMG_20130217_160658 (1)

Once everyone had filtered back outside, we resigned ourselves to the brutal fact that we now had no choice but to run home.  We took the same undulating route, but opted to walk the big inclines.  I will admit, the idea of a hot chocolate was again enough to keep up going, though Ronnie broke off near the end to go home and have a sit down.  Spolier: The hot chocolate was gorgeous.

IMG_20130217_161744Just so you know, the pace at the bottom is not the overall pace of the run, but the pace I was running when I stopped my Garmin – keen to finish!  I also ran home after the hot chocolate, bringing my Sunday long run (plus cross country race) to just over 16.5 miles.

 

 

 

A weekend of pain, and still no medals.

Thankfully I had today (Monday) off work, because the fact that I spent 90% of my time on the sofa or in bed told me that I needed a bit of rest.  Between work, the gym, and running, I don’t have an awful lot of spare time.  Typically, I leave my apartment before 8am and don’t get back until 8-9pm.  Then I eat, shower, and sleep.  It can get pretty gruelling, and having a day off every once in a while gives me a rare opportunity to be lazy – apart from, you know, the half hour on an elliptical machine, and one hour spin class I just got back from, and cleaning my apartment.

But last weekend was particularly draining.

Friday night I went out because a girl I know was having a launch for a book she has written.  It’s classified as ‘dark fantasy’ as well as ‘erotica’, and the launch was suitably geared towards the kind of person that would be interested in reading about magic/goth stuff/sex with knives.  I mean, there was a reading, a burlesque performance, and a magician, and a few people I knew were going, so I thought I’d use it as an excuse to dig into my teenage wardrobe and goth it up for the evening.  I should probably learn to exercise some self-restraint, because I may have been ‘slightly’ overdressed for the occasion.  Or, you know, under:

Significant cleavage

Significant cleavage

Anyway, despite planning to stay for an hour or two, I ended up there for longer, and got home with a white pudding supper in hand, because beer makes me crave hot food.  Unhealthy, but delicious.

Lightweight - already on the soda/orange juice combo.

Lightweight – already on the soda/orange juice combo.  Also, more near-obscene cleavage.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early to hit the gym for an hour of weights before being picked up by Danielle for a CrossFit taster session.  The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and I was almost reluctant to go indoors again.  Almost – it was freezing.

The taster session was similar to the one I did during Fitness Week at school, but we worked on perfecting technique for different moves (to be incorporated into the WOD).  On the menu?  Squats (ugh), and kettle bell thrusts.  Before I realized it, there were only 15 minutes left, and we were onto the workout.  We were told it would be a ‘partner’ workout, and we had to pair up with someone we’d never met.  I ended up with Olly, a guy in a triathlon shirt, and my initial plans to take it easy evaporated instantly when I heard the words: “For time”.  The WOD was:

  • 200m run
  • 80 squats
  • 80 KB thrusts
  • 200m run

Thankfully, the 80 squats/KB thrusts was the total number to completed as a team, so 40 each.  I was also pretty glad that it only had to be done once, and it looked a hell of a lot easier than my first CrossFit experience.  Spoiler: it was.

Olly and I managed to finish first, in 7:09, and I didn’t feel like I was going to throw up.  Excellent.

Danielle + me after our CrossFit experience.  (Photo: Danielle's)

Danielle + me after our CrossFit experience. (Photo: Danielle’s)

After CrossFit, we felt we had earned a delicious meal at Nando’s, over which we had some quality girl-chat time, before Danielle set off to catch the tail end of the rugby, and pack for her holiday!

By the time I got home, it was pretty late, and Ian and I just relaxed and watched some brainless TV (and I intermittently checked Sunday’s forecast with increasing horror)  before getting an early night.  I also foam rolled my calf, because even during a pitiful 200 meter jog, it was aching.

Torture.

Torture.

I woke up to the sound of the wind howling and hail hitting my window at about 6:30 on Sunday morning.  Gross.  Today I was scheduled to run 19 miles.  I was not enthusiastic about leaving my bed, but I had created a  Facebook event to dissuade me from backing out, and I knew there would be people waiting for me at 8am.  I re-checked the forecast (hoping that it would tell me summer would magically appear in an hour), and resigned myself to the fact that the weather was not going to make the morning pleasant, while I shoved tasteless porridge into my grimacing mouth.

Not inviting.

Not inviting.

I got to our meeting point with a minute to spare, and Ishbel poked her head around the corner and joined me.  Shortly afterwards, Claudia arrived, and after deciding everyone else had either bailed or was opting to join us for the tail end of the run, we set off.  Within a couple of minutes, we ran into Naomi, who wasn’t initially going to run with us, but had set off earlier and chanced running into us.  We did a 3.5 loop through hail, sleet, and biting wind, and decided we would avoid loops along the beach promenade (where we had arranged to meet any latecomers) for as long as possible as it is particularly exposed.  Instead, we headed onto the Deeside Railway line for ‘shelter’, and enjoyed more of the horrendous weather.  Naomi split at this point as she had unwisely had a spicy pizza the night before, and she was experiencing some discomfort.

We ran as far as we could before the ice on the path became treacherous, then turned back, bringing our total to 10 miles.  A few circular hill reps (not well-received) helped bump up the distance, and at 13 miles, Ishbel left us to continue without her:

Smiling because she is done.

Smiling because she is done.

Claudia and I are PUMPED to continue.

Claudia and I are PUMPED to continue.

The last 6 miles are a blur of awful weather conditions, running past Naomi, flying sand, dodging pedestrians, and wanting to be done.  We managed to time it so that we finished right in front of the coffee shop where planned to go for our now traditional post run hot chocolate, and where we eventually recovered feeling in our fingers:

Lobster red skin courtesy of Scottish weather.

Lobster red skin courtesy of Scottish weather.

Sitting in the coffee shop, looking outside at bundled people struggling against the snow and wind, we were not keen to walk home in just our running gear.  In fact, we were so desperate to be rescued that we managed to convince Ronnie to come and pick us up to take us home (he lives about 2 minutes away, so it wasn’t a ridiculously crazy diva demand).

Showered and defrosted, I slapped on some compression calf guards and thermal socks, and listened to the windows rattle in the wind and the hail pinging off the panes.  I wont lie, I felt pretty smug.  And sore.  Definitely sore.

Thankfully this week should be less crappy, as next Sunday is a 6 mile cross country race – and one which should yield the first medal of 2013!  Oh, and there is the small matter of my birthday (the most important annual holiday – naturally).

Forfar multi terrain half marathon 2013

Time: 2:10:09 [Results Here]

Medal: No

The girls, arranged by height - before the run.

The girls, arranged by height – before the run.

After walking about like a cripple yesterday, I would be lying if I said I was feeling ultra confident about getting out of bed in the morning unaided, let alone running a multi terrain half marathon.  In all honesty, if I hadn’t arranged to run with people in the first place, this could have been another dreaded DNS.  But during the 8 minutes it took me to walk from my bedroom to the toilet for my morning slash (roughly ten meters), I had convinced myself that a ‘short run’ would help ‘loosen up’ the concrete pillars that were my legs.  Ahhhh, blind faith.

I haphazardly chucked a selection of clothes into my duffel bag, along with some shampoo and deodorant (there were rumours of post race showers), and set about shovelling Weetabix minis into my mouth whilst browsing the BBC website and trying to ignore the fact that my hip flexors felt like they would, at any moment, snap.  I was somewhat calmed by the fact that I may not be the biggest gimp in our group: one of us was just coming back from a foot injury, one was suffering with some ITB issues, and one had run 16 miles the day before.  If anything, this race would be a social affair, not a PB hunting mission.

A happy camper I was not.

A happy camper I was not.

I was picked up just after 8:30am by Ronnie, despite texting him to say he could take as much time as he liked having his breakfast.  I had to literally pull my legs into the car after me, and for some reason this was funny as hell to Ronnie, who, when he inquired about how I was feeling, was immediately told to ‘Piss Off.’  I demanded we stop at a gas station so that I could purchase some kind of sports drink, and I bought him a coffee (I’m not a complete bitch), before we continued onwards to Stonehaven to pick up Kate and Rhona.

Totally immune to my grumpiness.

Totally immune to my grumpiness.

Once on board, Rhona and Kate joined in our spirited discussion about what finely honed athletes we all were, and we arrived at Strathmore Rugby Club in Forfar with an hour to go before the start.

We all registered and used the toilets, before heading back to the car to get ready and slowly brave the elements by peeling off warm layers of clothing.  We saw all the other runners warming up by running along one of the muddy paths, but we opted for ‘Olympic Kate Lifting’ to get the blood pumping:

IMG_20130203_163707It didn’t really work very well, because we all had numb toes and, I am convinced, the beginnings of hypothermia as we listened to the race briefing, had a minute of applause for one of the local runners who had passed away at the start of the year, and made our way to the start.  I can’t remember hearing a gun or a whistle, but we realized the pack was moving forward, so we all set off!

We had all been e-mailed a few days before to let us know that the course had been altered this year.  Apparently the notorious ‘water section’ of the course was deemed too unsafe, so the section was cut out, and a few more farm track/road sections were put in.  We had also been warned at the start that the weather over the past few weeks had been pretty bad, and that the land would be waterlogged.  This was no lie.

Within the first mile, Ronnie’s dashing new trail shoes looked like they had been on the business end of a dog with explosive diarrhea.  The ground was wet, the mud was slippery, there were enormous puddles, and I felt immediate regret about not wearing my sealskin socks (dumb me), as Kate had done (smart lady).

Conversation flitted between weddings, Paris marathon plans, local running events, and being a fairy about your new trail shoes (ahem, Ronnie), and I spent so much time paying attention to where my feet were landing to notice too much of the scenery at the start.  Then the course flitted between muddy trails and road sections, and I spent so much time paying attention to the conversation to notice we were on a slow (very slow)  incline for the majority of the run!

forfar multi terrain elevation 2013The majority.  Because that steep ass section?  Yeah, we all noticed that one.

This ridiculous incline came after one of the grossest sections of the course.  While the traditional water section was scrapped, all runners were treated to an impromptu water section that took a good minute or two to get through, and consisted of thigh deep, freezing water, riddled with shards of ice.  By the time we came out the other side, my legs felt as though they would shatter if I tried to run on them.  But they did not shatter.  It was around this point that we lost Ronnie.  Despite our ‘team’ approach, we all thought he would eventually catch up, and we all felt that if we stopped, it would be too much of an effort to get going again.  So we carried on.  Up the horrible hill.  We are a sucky team.

Forfar multi terrain half marathon route: 2013

Forfar multi terrain half marathon route: 2013

The top of the hill offered some beautiful views of snow-capped mountains in the distance, as well as the loch where we would finish.  There is also a monument at the top, but we never found out what for – we were pretty ready to be done at this point and there was a piercing breeze up there.

Unsurprisingly, my hip flexors were screaming during the entire descent, and I knew I’d suffer for this later, but I just grimaced and carried on, because we were pretty close to the end.  After the 12 mile marker, we started overtaking a few other runners and decided that we would finish in ‘team’ formation – a straight line – to symbolize our unity during the run.

Did I mention we were a sucky team?  Of course it ended up as an accelerating-to-an-almost-sprint finish.  But finish a half marathon we did.  At least nearly.  With the alteration of the course, the final distance was closer to 12.8 miles than 13.1, but you won’t hear any complaints from me about that.  A couple of minutes later, Ronnie appeared, but from the wrong direction, having taken a wrong turn at the very end.  He looked wiped out, and went to the car to sit down and eat something to recover:

(Rhona's photo)

(Rhona’s photo)

We decided to go and clean up – and I completely regretted wearing my ‘good’ trainers.

IMG_20130203_161739We found the ladies changing rooms, and quickly realized that the ‘showers’ consisted of a room with a bunch of shower heads on the wall.  Cosy.  Sorry to disappointing any readers hoping for a super graphic description of women soaping each other up – we were very modest and showered in our underwear, before getting into warm, dry, clean clothes, and heading for the “legendary spread” of food that was promised on the Forfar Road Runners website.  Unfortunately, as Rhona commented, we need to get faster if we want to enjoy a good selection of food.  I grabbed a couple of triangles of egg sandwich and considered myself lucky to get anything at all.  Then we had a beer and hung around for prize-giving while Ronnie and Kate got massages.

Once back in the car, we hunted down the 3 mile marker where Ronnie had dumped some gear during the race.  My struggle to get out of the car and complete the 5 meter walk to retrieve his bag clearly provided quality entertainment for everyone still inside the car, if laughter was anything to go by.  Yes, I heard you, you heartless monsters.  Then we dropped Kate and Rhona off in Stonehaven, before cruising back to Aberdeen where I have since spent some quality time with my sofa.

I anticipate a painful spin class tomorrow.

How I am made it my business to ensure tomorrow’s half marathon is going to be about as pleasant as having every hair plucked from my body individually. And then kicked in the face.

The PE staff at school claimed last week as ‘fitness week’.  They offered free fruit to staff at lunch and during morning break, and they also put on a variety of activities at lunch and after school for staff to participate in.  Whilst Monday and Tuesday were write offs (I had reports due in Wednesday morning, so all free time was spent getting stuff done), on Wednesday I threw myself into the activities.

At lunchtime there was a ‘step aerobics’ class.  Or so we were told.  The reality was the male PE teacher who had offered to run the class had no idea what he was doing, and made stuff up on the spot.  This led to a gym full of teachers trying to mirror someone who looked no less graceful than an epileptic fit in full swing.  Still, it got the blood pumping, as well as the laughter.

After school was the class I was most looking forward to trying: crossfit.  Having seen gazillions of people posting about crossfit on facebook and dailymile, I was keen to see if it really was as good a workout as people made out.  If tasting burning in your mouth after a ten minute workout means you’ve worked hard, then I guess my answer is ‘absolutely’.  I had varicose veins lasered under local anaesthetic about a two years ago, and the taste when the laser is literally incinerating your vein – burning flesh – is the taste I had in my mouth for a good five minutes after my very first WOD (which stands for ‘workout of the day’, but never stops sounding ridiculous).

The whole class lasted just over an hour, and included a good 10-15 minutes of Cameron, our instructor who came over from CrossFit Aberdeen, going over what crossfit is.  Then we had a warmup and went over some basic moves (squats, push press using just the bar, etc) to ensure none of us were retarded and would end up somehow fisting ourselves, or thrusting a bar up someone’s nostril.  We must have all demonstrated that we were capable to continue, because we went back to the whiteboard to hear what our WOD would be.  And it looked a little something like this:

3 rounds for time of:

  • 20 calories on the rowing machine
  • 15 over the bar burpees (having to lie on the ground with your arms up to prove you weren’t cheating, and bascially doing tuck jumps over a bar in between burpees)
  • 10 push presses (with 10kg on the bar)

It looked deceptively simple.  Looking around at the other staff, my enthusiasm dwindled.  I realized I was surrounded by two of the male PE teachers, a male physics teacher, and my boss, the head of English, who can kick my ass at running any day because she is ridiculously fast, and I hate that.  Well fuck.

We took our places on the rowing machine and Cameron hit ‘start’ on the timer.  I chugged at the rowing machine, rather affronted that I had chosen the malfunctioning one that was racking up calories at a snail’s pace, and eventually made it onto my first set of burpees.  My opinion on burpees – that they can go suck a dick – remained unchanged during my crossfit experience.  After 15, I got up (feeling a bit light-headed) and hauled the bar up for my 10 push presses, which miraculously felt easy (thank you Body Pump) in comparison.  Once the bar was on the floor, it was back to the rowing machine for round 2.  I looked at my heart rate at this point and it was over 190.  Holy shit.  I chose to not look at that again.  During the last push presses of the third (and final) round, I was panting harder than a coked up Charlie Sheen on speed ‘Go’, but I wasn’t last so I ignored the feeling that my arteries were going to disintegrate under the pressure of my blood pumping through them at 999,999,999,999,999 miles an hour and finished.

Overall, it took me 10:15 to complete all three rounds, and I managed the second best time there.  I mean, it took me at least 5 minutes before my breathing returned to normal, but I felt pretty smug.  Despite my body pleading for me do do something like this:

passout…I strutted out of the gym en route to spin class (dumb idea) like I had just spent an hour in a spa.

Spin was painful.

On Thursday, there was Body Pump after school.  Because one of the male teachers from crossfit was there, my rarely unearthed competitive side [insert maniacal laughter] reared it’s ugly head, and I obviously made sure I always had more weight on the bar that him.  Success (if success means nearly crippling myself).

219

Friday was 5-a-side football (or ‘soccer’ as I prefer to call it).  Thankfully I wasn’t the only female teacher taking part (there were two others), but I am incapable of dialling back my aggression in team sports, and was the only person to end up on the floor (bruised and bleeding) after a particularly aggressive attempt to steal the ball from a (much larger) male opponent.  I was a bit annoyed I never managed a goal, though I did hit the post 3 times, so it isn’t as though I sucked completely.

Today (Saturday), I went to pump at the gym and spent about half an hour on the elliptical machine, but I feel broken.  I have a feeling that the Forfar multi terrain half marathon tomorrow is going to hurt.  Quite a bit.

Clearly, I am a glutton for punishment, as I have managed to talk myself and Danielle into attending the free one hour taster session at Crossfit Aberdeen next Saturday.  The day before I am scheduled to run 19 miles for training.

Whatever I said earlier about not being dumb enough to somehow impregnate my nostril with a weight bar — yeah, disregard that.