40 mile weekend

So it looks like I’m in that painful part of marathon training, guys.  I’m also going back to work tomorrow after 7 (beautiful) weeks of summer holidays, so my mind and body are crushed.

Saturday started off bright and early (for a Saturday) and I left my apartment at about 8 to get some miles in on the (boring) railway line.  At 8:35, I turned back, and continued past my place towards the beach, where I just managed to arrive at parkrun on time!  3.1 miles later (at a faster speed than I’d have liked, but still way slow compared to just a 5k), Ronnie and I set off for some laps of the beach.  We had originally intended to do one massive loop starting with parkrun, but as I’d started early, we settled for the beach, agreeing to hit the gym’s cafe afterwards for some freshly squeezed orange juice.  As the miles ticked by, I was aware that I felt a lot better than I did during the 18 miler a fortnight ago.  My muscles felt as though they could go on and on.  Unfortunately, the chaffing in unmentionable places did a pretty good job making me want to stop.  However, having company with me for that last 9 miles was amazing and really helped me through.  It wasn’t fast, but I ran my first 20 mile training run, and I didn’t collapse.  Result!

At 19.92 miles, ‘Chariots of Fire’ starting playing in my head. No joke.

The freshly squeezed orange juice was amazing.  The shower when I got home was less pleasant (I imagine) than using a dildo made of sandpaper and glued on pieces of broken glass.

Chaffed delicates + hot water and soap = tears and swearing.

Anyway, that night, Ian, myself, Liell and Grant all indulged in a curry.  And beer.  I pretty much inhaled everything that was placed in front of me, and even shared a desert with Liell, using a cocktail umbrella as a utensil (times were desperate).

While I was out running on Saturday, Ian was finishing up my bike, which he has been working on for the last few weeks whenever the weather is nice enough to work outside after he finished work at his day job.  I tell him ALL THE TIME that he needs to wear sun block when there is actual sunshine, but he just says he’s ‘building up a natural immunity to burning’.  Well, it seems to be working really well….

Bad sunburn

Despite his terrible sun care, he’s pretty good at cleaning and fixing up bikes, and because the weather was gorgeous today (the best day of 2012 by miles), we decided to give my bike a test ride.

We chose the railway line because it’s pretty flat (and my legs would shout out a ‘heeeeeeeeell no!’ if hills had been suggested).  We cycled about 10 miles out, and it was amazing how many other cyclists were out today – they were obviously all in the summer spirit today!  We soon realized, however, that life would have been a whole lot easier if we had a bell (like everyone else) to warn people when we wanted to overtake.  Luckily, my front brake squealed when I stopped abruptly, so it became our impromptu bell for the day.

I’ve posted photos of the railway line before from some of my runs along it, but today we went a little farther.  Some of the sections are like country roads, some are like trails, some are totally overgrown and bursting with stinging nettles.  We also passed loads of different animals; horses, sheep, cows, bunnies.  And my insect kill count for today must be through the roof (I’m sorry bumblebee!).

At the point where we turned back, I took a few photos, and stopped to take a few more along the way home:

My fixed up bike! Her name is Juliet.

Ian working on his guns. And sensibly covering up.

Cows. Ian didn’t want to pose with them because he felt guilty that we’d both be eating them later…

This bridge actually shook when cars went over it…


So, things I learned this weekend:

  • 20 miles is a long way.
  • Cycling 20 miles is easier than running 20 miles, though chaffing and a saddle do not mix as well as I’d have liked.
  • Wearing heels after a 20 mile run is ill-advised.
  • I am glad that swimming comes first in a half ironman, because holy shit, it would sting after cycling over 50 miles and running a half marathon.

Back to work in T-minus 10 hours.  I am already in a grump!

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…

parkrun PB

On Saturday I was up early to walk down to parkrun before Body Pump at the gym.  Within about ten seconds of leaving my flat, I wished I had brought my gloves with me, but the thought of going up ALL those flights of stairs made me think ‘whatever, I can live without them’.  The forecast was for sunshine, so I figured it was early and it would heat up. Ha ha ha, foolish girl.  Anyway, I arrived with heaps of time (I usually jog down, so had totally overestimated how long it would take to walk), so I sat in a sunny spot and admired the view while I waited for a guy from the gym, we’ll call him Connie, to show up in his car so I could ditch my stuff.  This was going to be his first 5k (timed) and it was looking like a promising day for it (despite the bitter wind).

View from Aberdeen Beach toward the North Sea

What you can’t see from this picture is the approaching cluster of dark, ominous clouds behind me.  I didn’t notice them at this point.  Call it selective viewing…

Anyway, ‘Connie’ arrived and we had a quick moan about how cold it was before I dumped my bag and all unnecessary (for running) clothes into the trunk of his car and found my parkrun barcode.  After nearly losing it, I stuffed it safely in my bra, and we went for a quick jog to warm up.  My legs were still sore from the massage yesterday, so I wasn’t really anticipating any amazing pace, but I still had it in my head that I wanted to get under 25 minutes.  After sub 8 mi miles at the Balmoral 10k last weekend, I kind of thought I should be able to manage that.

Just before 9:30, the crowd gathered and got ready to go.  After a brief speech congratulating one of the local parkrunners for finishing the first female at the Balmoral 10k, and another for being the first Aberdeen parkrunner to attend 10 events, we were off!  ‘Connie’ went steaming ahead, and I did briefly think ‘ouch, that’s going to come back and bite you in the ass near the end’.  I picked a relatively fit looking male and decided to use him as a pacer, settling comfortably into his wake.  After a minute or so, I glanced down at the Garmin and noticed 7:03/mile.  Oops.  Not wanting to totally burn out, I hit the breaks a bit, and settled closer to 7:45/mile.  Sweet, right?  That I’m casually saying I ‘slowed it down to 7:45’?!  Don’t worry, that smug feeling was wiped out of my system pretty quickly.

Around the 1k mark, the wind picked up.  Not cool, mother nature, not cool.  I managed to keep it under 8:00/mile, but I avoided peeking at my heart rate. After a couple of minutes of wind in my face, it got worse.  The dark, ominous clouds that had been off in the distance were now pretty much upon us, and as quickly as I thought ‘I wonder if this will be snow of rain?’, tiny, needle sharp hailstones came flying at us – HORIZONTALLY.  I shit you not, this was beyond ridiculous.  I could barely see ahead of me, but did notice the runners ahead as blurs, holding up their arms to shield their faces from the hail.  This continued for about 5 minutes or so, and I did have to check my arms several times for blood, because I was convinced it hurt too much to not be bleeding (no blood, I’m just weak I guess).  Once I’d turned down onto the promenade, I was shielded a bit from the hail, and checked my Garmin to read 8:xx.  Balls.

I decided to just chug on, and happily noticed the pace speeding up as I neared the end.  I saw ‘Connie’ on his way to the finish after he had turned the final corner back to the start and gave him a wave (He did very well indeed, 22:47 for his first 5k!).  As I turned the corner back into the wind, I started speeding up in an attempt to make up for lost time and for the first time ever, remembered to stop my Garmin when I crossed the finish line.

And the results?  24:22, 7th female finisher (first in my age group!), and 46 seconds of my previous parkrun PB in February.  Did I mention, through horizontal hail?

I’m pretty pleased my speed is coming back, and if I can maintain that pace for the Baker Hughes 10k later this month, I’ll be closer to my usual 47:xx finishing time than last year’s disaster!  To be honest, if I can finish in under 50, I’ll be happy.  As long as I keep seeing improvements!

Anyway, to reward myself for achieving what I’d set out to do, I enjoyed beef rendang and cider for dinner.  De-freaking-licious!  Beef rendang, for those who think I’m making up dish names, is a tasty malaysian dish that I first had when I lived in Indonesia as a kid.  I’m not normally a fan of jar sauces, but if anyone wants to try, Marks and Spencer’s beef rendang paste is amazing.  All you need to add is coconut milk.  I normally add a pack of mushrooms and an onion to the frying pan (because mushrooms and onions are like my crack).


Aberdeen parkrun 11.2.12

I was booked into step class this morning as I wanted to make sure me knees (still not 100%, but still a total improvement to 2 weeks ago – plus my physio had advised I keep going if there’s no pain) had plenty of rest for my ‘planned’ long slow run tomorrow, but ended up cancelling my booking and hitting parkrun again.  I say ‘planned’ (in regards to my long run) as it’s my birthday weekend (birthday is on Monday but doing stuff with friends tonight), so my run depends largely on my behavior tonight.  My longest run this year has been nearly 8.5 miles, so I wanted a minimum of 9 (but hopefully 10) tomorrow.  I have a friend who might come with me, but again, depends on how he feels.  Plus a 10k is the most he has run in his life, but he’s come far in the month or two that he has been taking running a bit more seriously.

Anyway, the two of us ended up at parkrun this morning before Body Pump.  It was cold, but dry and there wasn’t really any wind.  Perfection!  We both smashed our last parkrun attempts, coming in at 25:08 (me) and 25:09 (Grant).  A wee bit to go before I’m pulling in sub-23’s again, but slow improvements, so I’m pleased.  I was especially thrilled at my time as about 100 metres into the run I realized that my shoelaces had come undone on my right trainer.  But, like a champ, I willed myself to ignore it and only stop of it became totally unmanageable to run in (it very nearly did).

Three weeks to go before my first ever 10 mile race (which is why I’d like to have confidence that I can run that distance after this weekend) and four weeks until my first half marathon.  It’s right about now that I’m thinking: you total spoon, what were you thinking?  10k is your distance, woman!  But then I push those thoughts to the back of my mind and think of beer.  Thinking of beer gets me through some pretty tough situations.

Untied Laces: another foot shot for all the foot fetishists out there. x x x