Stinking Rich Husband on Death Bed: position available

One of the consequences of scrolling through running blogs in your feeder in January is being made aware of a slew of fantastic sounding races that have made it onto 2014 race calendars.  Sadly, my races for the year are nearly all mapped out (I’m opting for more quality, less quantity this year because, well, money), so I don’t really have the option of getting overly excited filling up my schedule with exotic locations.  Instead, I get to create a ‘to-do’ list of races that I would love to one day participate in sometime in the future (or when I win the lottery, though I hear you have to buy a ticket for that, so I’m not holding my breath).

Take a (virtual) trip around the world with me as I investigate some of the races I would to see in my future!  And leave me any suggestions!

E.T. Full Moon Midnight marathon (Rachel, Nevada)

This race takes place in Rachel, Nevada.  My name is Rachel.  Not that I even need to explain any further why I am interested in this one, but it is also takes place at night, and I would imagine fancy dress is encouraged.  Because aliens.

I need a photo standing next to this sign.

I need a photo standing next to this sign.

Caracas marathon (Caracas, Venezuela)

I figure, having ticked Houston off the list, I should try and run a marathon in every city I’ve lived in.  Why not start here?  Besides, I love the idea of carb loading on arepas and queso de mano.  I’m drooling.  It could also turn into a nice extended holiday.  To Aruba.

Jakarta marathon (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Continuing the ‘cities I’ve lived in’ tour, Jakarta would be my next stop.  I would be equally excited about the food options available for pre- and post-race nutrition.  Many of my childhood favourites (chicken satay, sambal olek, nasi goring, beef rending… Oh. My. God. Yes.) would feature prominently, and I would top it all off with a trip to Sambolo beach to relax and watch anak Krakatoa simmer in the distance at night.

Puncak.  Late 80's/early 90's.

Puncak. Late 80’s/early 90’s.

Giulietta e Romeo ½ marathon (Verona, Italy)

I’m a high school English teacher, so this totally appeals.  I’m also Italian, and Verona is like a 2 hour drive from my Great Aunt’s house, so I could make it a family affair.  I had this in mind for my 30th next month, but the timing for flights was super awkward, so I’ll have to wait until flights are more regular from Scotland.  Or until I can afford the better flights.  Or a private jet.  Whatever comes first.

I have even illustrated the whole play for my senior class.  I love Romeo and Juliet.

I have even illustrated the whole play for my senior class. I love Romeo and Juliet.

London marathon (London, England)

One of the most famous marathons in the world, London would be great to run for fun, and for the experience.  I’m not really willing to get an entry via a charity place, because you need to commit to raising, like, 4.8billion pounds, and I pretty much maxed out friends (and strangers – thank you again!) generosity with the whole sled-pulling trick in September.  However, I’ve entered the ballot 5 times and lost out, so we’ll see.  I’d also be ticking off a ‘cities  I’ve lived in’ marathon, so there’s that.

Great Wall marathon (Great Wall, China)

Because who WOULDN’T want to run this?  And I’m using the term loosely – it would be a challenge with all the steps.  But steeped in history, and with beautiful views, who cares how long it takes to finish?

Williams Route 66 marathon (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

This is where I hit a brick wall with trying to run a marathon in every city I’ve lived in.  Ponca City, Oklahoma – population 24,974 – does not have a marathon*.  I have decided to get around this by picking another race in the same state (totally legit), and have chosen, easily, the Route 66 marathon in Tulsa.  The medal is meant to be fantastic, which is a bonus, and I’ve only ever read good reviews, so in all honesty, I need no elaborate reason to want to run this.

Berlin marathon (Berlin, Germany)

Another marathon with a ballot entry, which means my biggest challenge for ticking this off the list is getting a spot in the first place.  A couple I know both entered the ballot for this year.  He got in.  She did not.  For the sake of their marriage, he turned down his place.

Any marathon in Australia.

Australia is a weird place.  Summer and winter are backwards, and the majority of the island is a barren death-trap.  But I’m already starting to save for an Australian trip in summer 2015 with my friend Grant.  We’ll check out Melbourne/Sydney and catch up with old friends for a few days, then I’ll journey solo to visit my grandmother.  If I can time the trip to include a marathon that is within reasonable train distance, I’m in.  There’s also a fantastic cycle trip from where she lives, to the top of Mount Beauty, then back.  A challenge I am keen to complete after visiting a couple of years ago and seeing the huge number of cyclists puffing to the top.  Also, my old sports massage therapist lives in the same town my gran does, so I’d be looked after.  Small world.

New Year, 2012, Australia

New Year, 2012, Australia

 

*Currently, Aberdeen does not have a marathon either.  But I have run several 5 and 10ks here, and – if all goes well – will be running my first ultramarathon here in about 8 weeks.

The Worst Kept Secret

No, I’m not pregnant.  Or engaged.

Since before Paris I’ve been struggling with a sharp pain on the right side of my abs that, over various points of the year so far, I worried was a hernia.  While on the waiting list for a scan at the hospital, I was reluctant to enter any new races, especially ones that required a significant commitment, in case I was going to be sidelined by a month of recovery after an operation, but thankfully, that has been ruled out.  I’m still experiencing pain, which is thought to be scar tissue (fabulous), but I have been assured I can keep doing everything apart from weights for the time being.  The super sleuths among you may have worked out that my list of ‘things I can still get on with’ includes running, which I am obviously pleased about.

Before I got my results back, I became increasingly jealous of all my running friends who were excitedly planning (and getting on with) their training for the Loch Ness marathon, the first marathon I ever ran.  For a lot of my friends, it will be their first.  For others, it’s a return to form, or an attempt to slay the beast that got the better of them last year.  I watched the deadline for guaranteed entries creep closer, and hours before they closed, I entered.  And booked the same room I had at a B&B last year.  And didn’t tell anyone.

But I started upping my distance, and joining friends who were out and proud about training on some of their longer runs “for fun”.  I started making plans to just turn up at the start line and casually ask my friends if they were in the mood for a run, while also happy that if I needed surgery, I could just slink away from the training plan without having to tell anyone that I had pulled out.  Then I got my results.

My plan to keep my entry a secret and surprise my friends became more elaborate (and ridiculous, because how am I going to fit into a cake that I can also fit onto a single bus seat?) and after LESS THAN 7 DAYS, I cracked and told everyone.

So yeah, I guess the Loch Ness marathon is the main hurdle I need to get over before the Texas marathon in January, but I’m looking forward to seeing how pacing myself a little more wisely can affect my experience of a race.  And running with a bunch of my friends.  And eating afterwards, obviously.

Training has been going well so far, and unlike Paris, I have actually been able to run more than once a week, which has been reassuring. The last three weeks of training are below.  Anything that has no mileage is likely a spin class.  Any ridiculous mileage (30+) is on a road bike.

July 8-14

July 8-14

July 15-21

July 15-21

July 16-28

July 16-28 (Tuesday’s 13 miles were climbing two mountains, not running)

You might also notice that my long runs have been on a Thursday, and the simple reason for that is, I am a teacher, and the word ‘weekday’ does not register on my summer holidays.  Leaving Saturday and Sunday free means that I have time to cycle with Ian, be lazy, and not worry that any races I have entered don’t match up with my long run distance.

Of course, in three weeks I won’t be so smug when term starts…

Cross training

I am definitely not one of those runners that is guilty of ignoring their cross training.  In fact, cross training is what I do most of, because I actually really like everything else I do on top of running.  Because I am a creature of habit, my weekly workout schedule usually looks something like this:

Screenshot 2013-04-23 at 22.16.31Obviously in the run up to Paris, the only running I was doing was on Sunday, which is not ideal, but I think my fitness was good enough to let me get away with that.  The next time I attempt a marathon, I want to have trained properly for it.  This may mean that I will not have time for all of my group exercise classes which I am not happy about, but as my next marathon isn’t until January, 2014 (unless I make some unwise, flippant decisions in the coming months), I have a while to wean myself off of my current class addiction, and try to create similar exercises I can fit in when time is actually available to me.

In June, my bank account allowing, I hope to take a spin instructor course.  I have already completed an exercise theory course and my first aid, and this would allow me to earn a little pocket money whilst still getting to do the workouts I enjoy, and hopefully at a time more suited to my schedule.

I would also love to buy a decent barbell and some weights, so I can pump some iron to cheesy metal in my living room at 3am to satisfy my meat-head tendencies.

The final thing I’ve been starting to do is slotting mini workouts into my day whenever I have time.  Usually, I do a quick search on youTube for things like ‘butt workout’ and follow instructions for 10-15 minutes   However, youTube is also the graveyard of odd videos, and I have stumbled across some hilariously bad instructional videos.  Like this gem, which is equally hilarious and creepy.  Still, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t feel my butt work when following along.  Yes, I’ve used it 3 times so far.

But following videos online is limiting, so this afternoon, after work, I met my friend Grant for a gym session after telling him I’d plan an hour of stuff for us to work our way through.  The result?  Success!  If you count working up a sweat before chicken fajitas a success (I do).  Here’s what we did:

20 minutes on the elliptical to ‘warm up’.  I once read somewhere that it takes about 15 minutes for the body to fully loosen up, and I tend to enjoy adding just a little bit extra onto everything.

3 sets of the following:

  • 20 squats
  • 10 lunges on each leg
  • 10 man push ups
  • 15 hip extensions on each leg (possibly the lamest exercise for a male to do next to his female friend in a semi-crowded gym, so props to Grant)
  • 30 second plank
Hip extensions

Hip extensions

5 minutes on the rowing machine

10 minutes of core (plank, side plank, toe taps, a bunch of stuff I don’t know the name for)

10 minutes on the step machine

But no running.  I’m still kind of fatigued after Paris, since I scoff in the face of sensibility and ignore all guidance that tells me that I should rest after a marathon.  I gave it 3 days, but then I was back at the weights and cross training.  However, I am still in my twenties (which I remind everyone about frequently, because February, 2014 marks my entry into my fourth decade of life), so I refuse to accept that I am not indestructible quite yet, thank you very much.

Anyway, Texas 2014?  I’ve got my eye on you.  And I WILL sort out a training plan for you that incorporates running regularly while I have my cross training liaisons alone in dark corners at unsociable hours while everyone sleeps.  And I’ll even throw in the fancy stuff, like hills, fartleks (never going to stop being funny), and mile repeats (sounds gross).  Because even though medals are sweet, I kind of want to see what I can do if I throw myself into one of these marathons, balls to the wall.

Paris Marathon 2013

Time: 4:18:40 (PB!)

Position: 23,843/39,967  

Gender position: 3,107

Category Position: 1,548

Medal: Yes

IMG_20130407_150506

Despite the fact that I have been telling literally everyone I run into that I was going to be running Paris marathon, it hadn’t quite registered until race morning, when I hauled myself out of bed at about 5:30am, slathered myself in bodyglide and lycra, and haphazardly stuffed things deemed ‘important’ (race number, garmin, hotel key) into my bag.  I left my hotel and walked the deserted Parisian streets – well, about 3 of them – to Naomi’s parents’ apartment for breakfast.  Everyone was already up, and extremely dozy, as we stuffed breakfast food with as much appeal as cardboard into our mouths, and triple checked that everything was in order.

Once 7:30 arrived, Naomi, Rhona, and I, wrapped in our 5 euro men’s, long-sleeved white shirts, along with Naomi’s parents, set off for the start.  It was quite chilly, and I was glad we had made the effort to buy a throwaway layer to keep us warm in the starting pens, as we were very aware that being non-elite runners, there would be a substantial amount of hanging around before we crossed the start mats.

Thankfully, the skies were blue, and the sun was rising fast – a welcome change to the overcast and breezy weather we had experienced so far in France.  Before we knew it, the Arc de Triomphe was in sight, and the streets burst to life with fellow runners.

Approaching the start area.

Approaching the start area.

The three of us took advantage of the comparatively short toilet queues before taking some obligatory pre-marathon photos.  It is at about this time, it finally sunk in that I actually had to run a marathon – an emotional experience I felt Naomi’s dad managed to capture perfectly while I was lost in my own thoughts:

What. The. Fuck. Have. I. Done.

What. The. Fuck. Have. I. Done.

Maybe the fact that my foot had been screaming the past few days as we had been walking about Paris (thanks to my own stupidity), or the fact that my training (or lack thereof) consisted of only one (as in, less than two) run a week – my long run – was playing on my mind. Spoiler: the answer is ‘YES’, these two things were most definitely at the forefront of my thoughts before the start, and I was not a beacon of supreme confidence at this point.  Nevertheless, I shrugged off my lack of amazing preparation to smile/grimace/photograph badly with Naomi and Rhona:

My outfit, for now, like my thoughts, are more subdued.

My outfit, for now, like my thoughts, are more subdued.

Arc du Triomphe, from the other side.

Arc du Triomphe, from the other side.

After frantically putting our white shirts back on, we headed towards the start pens.  Rhona, who was initially using this as part of her taper for the Highland Fling, had changed her mind and was now going for a PB after a favourable performance at the D33 last month.  Because of the change of heart, she pushed to the front of the 4:15 pen with an aim to follow the 4 hour pacers.  Naomi, on the other hand, was gunning for 4:45 or faster, and was aiming to follow the somewhat pleasant backside of the 4:30 pacer for as long as she could!  In the past few weeks, I have only had a couple of simple goals for this race:

  1. Finish
  2. Run the whole way
  3. Beat my time at Loch Ness (4:30:08 – those 8 bastard seconds!)

Goal 3 wasn’t really all that important to me, and goal 1 was going to happen even if I had to crawl, but I was determined not to walk no matter how much I was hurting.  I hadn’t told anyone at the time, but my grandfather has stomach cancer, and a couple of weeks ago he was told he had anywhere from 1 to 7 weeks left.  The reason for my visit in 2011/2012 was not just a family visit, but a visit to see him while he was still well enough to enjoy our company, and I couldn’t help leaving in floods of tears.  The fact that he can still get up to have a few small meals, or potter around in the garden despite the pain he must be in makes me feel ashamed of complaining about a bit of muscle fatigue, and essentially I wanted to run this race for him.  For me, stopping to walk meant failure, and that was that.

I decided to start with Naomi, so we kept each other company in the pens, which is just as well, because we were stuck there for an awfully long time.  At 8:45 we heard the start for the elites, and then we danced to questionable tunes for the next 40 minutes wondering how long we had left, and trying to stop shivering (mostly, that was me).

Deceptively cold in the pens.

Deceptively cold in the pens.

Several thousand runners.  Ahead of us.

Several thousand runners. Ahead of us.

Suddenly there was a forward surge, and Naomi and I excitedly stripped off our warm shirts and crept forward, only to grind to another halt after about 5 minutes.  Stuck again, but I suppose that’s to be expected when you’re taking part in the world’s second largest (now official!) marathon.  A French couple, distracted by my chattering teeth, took pity on us and started vigorously rubbing our arms to try and warm us up, but I resorted to picking up an extra layer from a pile of discarded ponchos, which served me well for the next 5 or so minutes.

Finally, we surged forwards again, and when the start line came into view I ditched my outer layer once more, and pressed ‘start’ on my Garmin just before I reached the timing mats.  We were off!

The first thing that I noticed was how un-crowded we were.  I mean, I know that some of the elite runners were already halfway done, and others had been running for nearly an hour already, and yes, the street we were on was pretty wide, but at the start I didn’t feel at all boxed in or as if I had to dodge people.  I also noticed that the low sun was directly in my face, but I was happy to see it!

Naomi and I stuck together for about half a mile, before the adrenaline of actually starting dragged me ahead, faster than the pace I had planned to run.  I was going to stick with the pace I had run my training runs at (especially because I have Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 marathon on the 14th), but I got bored of glancing at my watch and slowing myself down after about a mile, so I just ignored my pace and tucked in behind a couple of guys who seemed to be going at a similar speed to me.  They may have thought I was some weirdo stalker, but I don’t understand enough French to know what they were talking about, so I’ll just imagine they were complimenting that chick behind them with effortless grace.

The crowds, from the start, were amazing.  I didn’t think anyone would really be able to read the name on my bib, but I heard “Allez Rochelle!” shouted out regularly, and when you caught the eye of the person cheering, you couldn’t help but smile.  In fact, I think I spent about 90% of the entire marathon with a goofy grin plastered all over my face as I took in the spectators, the landmarks, the costumes, the panoply of languages overheard (Yes, I just did).  I think a special shout out to the pompiers of Paris is more than deserved, as the firemen made regular appearances along the course, even sitting atop a ladder that hung out over the runners like a bridge, cheering and shouting with almost drunken enthusiasm!  The following photo is stolen shamelessly from the Runner’s World website, and shows what I mean, though they were not in this particular location this year:

Allez, allez, allez!

Allez, allez, allez!

Every mile, my Garmin would beep, and on the occasions that I actually heard it, I automatically looked down to see my pace for the mile I had just completed.  Every time I looked down, it started with a 9, although I felt like I was taking an easy jog, and holding conversations with complete strangers whilst not at all out of breath.  Not such a big deal, considering I’d only done about 13 miles.

It was around the halfway point that I spotted an IRN BRU vest up ahead, a sure sign that I was approaching a Scot!  Sure enough, Fiona was a Scot, who happened to be living in France and running the Paris marathon for the 3rd (at least) time!  She mentioned the tunnels/underpasses as being the worst part of the race (at around miles 16-18), but confirmed that there should be no other nasty surprises on the sensationally flat course.  As visual evidence of how relaxed I was feeling at this stage, here is one of my official race photos that just happens to feature the IRN BRU clad expat chatting away with me:

I am actually considering paying for this race photo.

I am actually considering paying for this race photo.

Aside – I am convinced that part of my delirious happiness was due to being bathed in actual sunlight after possibly the shittiest spring I have experienced thus far.

Splits (miles 1-13):
1 – 9:47
2 – 9:47
3 – 9:34
4 – 9:42
5 – 9:46
6 – 9:37
7 – 10:05
8 – 9:44
9 – 9:44
10 – 9:51
11 – 9:24
12 – 9:29
13 – 9:37

Eventually, I lost Fiona, and continued on my way, dorky grin and all.  Water/refreshment stops were every 5k, and apart from the first one, I think I swooped by them all to pick up a bottle of cold water, which I would carry with me until the next stop and then replace (I am a fan of cold liquids).  I also indulged in most of the goods on offer – a couple of banana halves, some (delicious) orange segments, a couple of sugar cubes (because, why not?).  The only negatives about the refreshment stops would be the fact that they were all heaving with runners, so it was more of a sideways dodge towards the tables, and then a sideways dodge back out to continue running, which sucks on stiff hips, as well as the obvious perils of wet orange and banana peels strewn about the ground, especially when the ground happened to be downhill cobbles.  I watched a man completely crash out ahead of me, and I swooped down to retrieve his water bottle as he recovered.  It was rather spectacular (and I can say that because he was OK, and carried on).

At about mile 16, we veered downhill to run alongside the Seine.  It was fantastic running under all of the bridges with crowds of people on them cheering us on.  It is also about this point that my quads started to hurt, just like they did during Loch Ness.  What.  The. Fuck.  Thankfully, I am rather stubborn, and ignored the pain.  Also, as I was looking up at the spectators on one of the bridges, I heard someone shout, “Go Rachel Go!” and spotted Naomi’s family cheering fiercely from above!  I shot them a smile and a wave (and was told later I looked completely relaxed), and carried on, waving at all the boat passengers on tourist cruises that happened to be going past at the time.

We also reached some underpasses, which affected the satellite signal to my Garmin (hence the rather erratic splits for mile 16 and 17).  The inclines coming out of the underpasses actually weren’t that terrible, and I smiled (again – there was a bunch of smiling) when I realized that was the worst of it!  The masses of cheering crowds as you ran up the slight incline might have also helped.  At this point, the quad pain was still pretty bearable, and I continued on at a similar pace.

Splits (miles 14 – 18)
14 – 9:49
15 – 9:45
16 – 14:04 (underpass)
17 – 5: 19 (average pace for miles 16 – 17 would be 9:42)
18 – 9:46

From about mile 18/19, the course started getting narrower, and more and more people decided that stopping suddenly in the middle of the course to walk was a fabulous idea.  This meant a lot of highly painful ninja-esque dodging just to stay upright and facing forwards.  The crowds, whilst still amazing, also started to encroach on the course (to the extent that at one point I spotted spectators on the blue line that measures out the marathon!).  This also meant my split times started to suffer a bit, but in all honesty, they probably would have started to suffer at least a little without the added bonus of navigating a human obstacle course.  Because quads.

Splits (miles 19 – 23)
19 – 10:19
20 – 9:54
21 – 9:53
22 – 10:29 (ouch)
23 – 10:04

As soon as I passed the 23 mile marker, I just kept telling myself that I only had 5k left.  30 minutes, tops.  That’s nothing!  I tried to speed up, but noticed no great change in my pace.  I was really suffering now, but considering I’d come this far, there was absolutely no way that I was going to stop to walk.  At this point, some grunting commenced.

Miles 24 and 25 were a bit of a blur, and we were running through a park where spectator support was thinner than it had been, but that was OK, because I was saving my finale for the final mile (obviously – it would be stupid to bring on a finale at mile 4).  In the spirit of the Breakfast Run the day before, I decided to ‘represent’ one last time during my Paris jaunt, and as soon as I passed the mile marker informing me that I had completed 25 miles, out came the flag-cape for a victory mile!

'Murica.  Fuck Yeah.

‘Murica. Fuck Yeah.

More smiling.

More smiling.

Out of nowhere, we were onto cobbled roads surrounded by swarms of people cheering.  There were some enthusiastic “GO USA!” cheers (and a snub from a group of Canadians I waved to), and the announcer even gave me a shout-out as I crossed the line nearly 12 minutes faster than my first marathon.  As I had my Garmin switched to display pace and heart rate, I had no idea how I had actually done (though I pretty much knew I’d run a PB), so I was absolutely delighted to switch over and see the time:

IMG_20130407_173502

Splits (miles 24-26.2)
24 – 9:52
25 – 9:56
26 – 10:11
.2 – 9:30

I stumbled through the finishers’ area, collected my medal, t-shirt, some powerade, and a banana, and headed to our prearranged meeting spot to find Rhona (who finished in 4:05:xx, smashing her PB), and await Naomi (who finished in 4:39:xx, also crushing her PB).  Three finishers and three PB’s made for three happy ladies in need of celebration:

P1000951

IMG_20130407_152337And celebrate we did!  I have rarely tasted a cheeseburger as good as the one I inhaled that night, and I anticipate equal or greater pleasure from my cheesburger after the Texas marathon next January!

Operation Maximize Gluteus: situation critical.

So those shine splints that were plaguing me before the Loch Ness marathon?  Yeah, they never really went away, and despite trying to ignore them like a trooper, they continue to suck any enjoyment out of running for me.  The guy who does my sports massages has put it down to extra-tight calves since they’re doing all of the work.  Which means that one muscle group is on a one-way train to Lazy Town.  The guilty party?  My glutes.

I have been given a number of stretches to ease off the calves, but I have also been told that they’ll never get the break they deserve unless:

  1. I stop running, or;
  2. My butt starts doing its share of the work.

So I have also been given some butt strengthening exercises to do.  I have been told this before, and have made a couple of half-assed (har har) efforts to stick to a regime, but the reality seems to be that if I am threatened with a running hiatus, I will do what is asked of me.

Thursday saw me return from some brutal calf massage and a foam rolling class, only to youtube some butt workouts.  Turns out there are several, and once you sift through the videos that have a target audience of 14 year old boys, there are some helpful, quick tutorials out there (even though you feel like you belong in the 80’s following along in your living room, hoping your neighbours can’t see in).  That night I did 10 minutes with Cindy, followed by another 10 minutes with Stephanie.  Friday I did 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer followed by RPM (Les Mills version of spin).  Saturday I did Body Pump and Body Attack (but I really felt my shins in attack so spent some time stretching on the power plates afterwards), and today I did the “Super Butt Workout”, despite feeling like my ass is about to fall off, and I am foam rolling my quads on the floor as I type.

In other, non-exercise news, I have been extra busy with work.  This weekend I have spent no less than 6 hours marking work, and I have another hour or two to put in before tomorrow morning if I am to be where I want to be to face the week.  My Friday night was not the most rock and roll experience I’ve ever had:

Neither was my Saturday:

You can get some pretty amusing mistakes, though.  A few of the kids had been experimenting with a thesaurus (with somewhat inaccurate results), and another seemed to misspell ‘gentle’:

Tonight (Sunday), Ian and I went to Nando’s for a late lunch/early dinner (we were being pretty lazy), and managed to catch the Christmas parade during which the lights along Union Street are switched on.  Despite the wet, freezing conditions, we stuck around for a peek:

The first set of lights being switched on

Because what parade in Scotland is complete without bagpipes?

Walking Christmas tree

So for now, running and I are not on great terms, but hopefully with some dedicated butt building, we’ll be back on track soon.  Shin splints: I will destroy you (translation: please, please, please go away)!

18 miles!

Gallery

This gallery contains 9 photos.

So I’m sitting on my sofa, totally naked apart from my socks and sports bra (but sitting on my somewhat sweaty shirt, for everyone that visits me and sits on my sofa), and I am exhausted. I am exhausted, not … Continue reading

Marathon Training Starts Monday

Monday, June 18th, 2012, will mark the official beginning of my marathon training.  I’m using Hal Higdon’s intermediate plan, meshed with my own routine at the gym (I refuse flat out to give up my spin and weights sessions), peppered with races throughout (medals and motivation).

After my longest ever training run last Sunday (14 miles!), the reality of what I have signed up for began to sink in.  I was ready for a siesta on the sofa and a meaty pizza after that long run, so the thought of having to do it again – twice – is a crushing blow to my personal view that I am, in fact, badass on a Chuck Norris scale.

With two half marathons under my belt this year (so far), and 3 training runs of the same distance, I can consistently crack out sub 2 hour halfs, which is good to know.  My main concern, however, is being able to keep up with this pace for double the distance.  I understand that to get an idea of your full marathon time, you should double your half time, and then add 30 minutes.

1:53 + 1:53 + :30 = predicted marathon time

This would have me gasping for beer over the finish line at a respectable 4:14:00.  I am not aiming for a Boston Qualifier like Amy, and I am certainly not deluded enough to think I could crack out a sub 4 hour marathon on my first attempt without dedication that is, in all honesty, beyond me at the moment.  I just want to finish the whole ordeal injury-free, and suffer through the Monday at work without too much pain.

Thankfully, a few of you fellow bloggers (I actually hate the word ‘blog’ and all of its bastard children) are starting marathon training now as well, so it’s nice that I’ll have people in a similar situation to follow, especially those with a bit more experience!  A friend from the gym, Ronnie/Connie (depending on his mood), has recently signed up for the Loch Ness Marathon as well, so I wont be so alone!

Now for the crappy bit.  The night before my marathon debut, I will be in Edinburgh at a friend’s wedding.  I will be watching all of these people I know drinking champagne and cold beer, and I will be guzzling Powerade.  They will be sitting down to enjoy a delicious meal, and I will be cramming pasta into my mouth as I say my goodbyes and get on the last train to Inverness.  My boyfriend will be staying in Edinburgh to drink, eat, dance and celebrate with friends, and I will spend the entire train journey panicking about injury, proper fuelling, pacing, and suppressing thought of collapsing at mile 25, alone.

C’est la vie.

There are, however, more pressing matters.  This Sunday is the Ythan Challenge, which I signed up for in an attempt to prepare myself for Tough Mudder, which is only 4 weeks away!  This Sunday will be another of our team’s training sessions, and hopefully I won’t be the main attraction for the midges.  These little suckers are the UK equivalent of mosquitoes, except they’re tiny: we’re talking large grain of salt size.  And yet, the havoc these pests can wreak, especially on an unseasoned victim, is ridiculous.  I am covered in bites, and cannot stop itching my arms, legs, chest, and –worst of all – my neck!  At least I got mild revenge by inhaling about a thousand of them during my run…

Bitten

They even got the tiny space between the bottom of my tights and my socks!

 

Anyway, for all you non-UK readers, here’s a photo taken by a friend from the gym (my phone’s battery had given up, so I asked her to step up), of the Olympic Torch coming down Union Street in Aberdeen.  I can’t say it was a particularly momentous event (at least for me), but at least I can say ‘I was there!’ to people.

Flame!

 

[PS I apologize for the frequency of gross body part photos.]

Trendy new hair, and discovering that I am the last to become aware of trendy application.

Today I ran 5 miles.  Yesterday I ran 6.  This is a vast improvement to last week, in which I ran a grand total of 10 miles, but in fairness I had no race on at the weekend for a change, and fancied a bit of a break.  Also, I continue to be concerned that my knees sound like rice krispies when I rise from a squatting position, but my GP confirms this is not an issue (and he’s a runner, so I’ll trust him).  Plus, being a teacher, one (the only) perk of my job is some sweet holiday time, and I am now on week 2 of a 2 week break for Easter.  So I got more than a ‘bit’ of a break, and I’ve enjoyed that, but let’s get back on track, shall we Rachel?  I have the Glenlivet 10k on Sunday, and as long as I can squeeze in 1 mile before then, I’ll hit 300 miles for the year by the end of the week!  This excited me for two reasons:

  1. I am on track for 1000 miles in 2012
  2. I like neat numbers

In other (totally more important) news, I had a haircut.  I have had average length hair for yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeears because every time I go to get it cut (not regularly enough, we’re talking once every year, and I’m proud of that commitment!) I chicken out and go for a ‘trim’.  Now I am not blessed with luscious, thick, strong hair (fuck you Pantene commercial, you lying hussy), and I regularly wear my hair in a ponytail.  Result?  Frazzled, wispy ends, and roughly 1/3 of my hair being broken off where I tie it up.  Not a good look.  So yesterday, armed with several photos of celebrities with cute haircuts (but much prettier faces than I could pay for), I went for the bob.  Unfortunately, I was dumb enough not to take a photo post-salon, a look I will somehow never be able to recreate, so I have, in an attempt to gloss over gross foot shots, included a photo* of my new hair in (tiny) pigtails.

*Clear skin courtesy of instagram – better than any facewash or foundation – seriously, I can see why people use this thing.

And a slightly more tousled (post sweaty workout) look:

And, because I must be one of the last people living in a first world country to discover the instagram application (all this news about Facebook dropping some sweet change to buy an application that makes your photos look old – sickeningly on the day Kodak announces bankruptcy – caused me to find out what the hell it is!), I present to you my lunch:

Not pictured: leftover chocolate, rice krispie treat, cheese and crackers, orange juice.

 

 

What do you do with your race bibs?

I’ve seen a lot of people proud of their race bibs by trawling through blogs.  Some people have a cork board with bibs and medals hanging off it, some people blu-tack them to a wall as a kind of motivational thing, I even saw someone wallpaper her study in them!  While I like keeping the old race bibs, they have usually just been stuffed somewhere out of sight for me to come upon during a particularly thorough ‘flat clean/re-jig’.  And then I’m torn between nostalgia and wanting to throw them away (because, essentially, it’s just clutter).

And so – starting this year (technically May 2011, but whatever), I’ve started keeping race bibs in a handily sized photo album.  The album is from Paperchase* (WARNING: EXTREME STATIONARY PORN!), and every bib I’ve had since I started has fit in it just fine.  There is a range of colours, but I went for neon orange, because it was so cheerful.

*Update: The album I have is the neon orange one, but there are also pink and purple ones.  From my stats I can see this is a popular post, so thought I’d link to the specific products.

Anyway, I quickly filmed myself flicking through for anyone bored enough to have a look.  I like that I can just slip it onto one of my bookshelves.  Neat and convenient!  I’ll warn, I was listening to music and the sound seems really loud when I play the video back on my laptop!

So what do you guys do with your race bibs?  Bin them? Stash them somewhere discreet?  Display them with pride?