Loch Ness Marathon 2013

Time: 4:43:32 (personal worst)

Medal: Yes

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I feel it’s necessary to preface this post with a few facts:

  1. I take great offence to weird things.
  2. Once I decide something, no matter how terrible of an idea it is, I am too stubborn not to follow through.
  3. I often have terrible ideas.

I hadn’t planned on running Loch Ness marathon again this year (after my painful début last year). I had already signed up for the Texas marathon on New Year’s Day, 2014, and that seemed like enough of a challenge. However, easily swayed by the fact that the majority of my running friends had signed up, for some their first attempt at the distance, I entered. Because who likes feeling left out? Nobody, that’s who.

The goal for this race, however, was not speed.

 ***

Rewind ten months. I was about to start my training for the Paris marathon after a bit of a running hiatus in December, caused by psychological trauma following my first marathon, naturally. It was an average day – I had gone to work, gone to the gym for a bit, come home, showered, and eaten – and I was relaxing on my sofa browsing the internet when I came across this meme:

Oh-you-ran-a-marathon-How-heavy-was-the-sledNow, I don’t even know why I can’t control my emotions like a rational human being, but seeing this awoke a mighty rage within me, and I wanted nothing more than to punch that smug husky in the face. With a speeding bus. Admittedly, it’s kind of funny, but the pain of my first marathon was fresh enough in my mind to trigger a loathing so all-consuming that it continued to gnaw away at me for the best part of 2013.

You have maybe already guessed where this is going.

Step one was buying a sled. I wanted something pretty (of great importance), and made out of wood. Thank you, Amazon, for this beauty:

sled

It was a bit heavier than I had anticipated, but the highly scientific test of dragging it 6 feet across my living room was enough to convince me that this was still a viable idea. But it would need wheels.

Step two involved searching gumtree for a used pram. I found one a few miles away for £10, and decided to run there, buy it, and then run home to test out the wheels. They were a great success, but pushing an empty pram around a city center acquires many an odd look. It was worth it for the advantage of carrying home a lot of shopping from the supermarket:

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Step three was taken care of by one of the technicians at school who removed the chassis and wheels of the pram from the baby-carrying bit, and then used cable ties to attach the sled, which fit perfectly. That was blind luck, which I took to be a sign that I was not completely idiotic. With some rope attached to the frame, I took it for a test run, which yielded more confused looks from the general public.

From this test run, I established very quickly that the sled was going to be a burden, but also that attached to my rucksack with a bit of rope, its movements were unpredictable and out of control. It veered off the paths on several occasions, and whacked into the backs of my legs on the downhill sections.

This was remedied by attaching telescopic walking sticks to the frame, which would allow me greater control over the sled’s movement, and prevent it from hitting me, whilst also behind handy for storage. These were also attached with cable ties. On Friday night. Trusting my mad engineering skills, I decided I did not need to test out the contraption at all.

The finishing touches for the sled included a cool bag for my lunch, and two stuffed huskies, Mukluk and Storm (they had names when I bought them). Add into the mix a relatively secure harness with a D-ring on the back and I was ready to roll.

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Race weekend had arrived, and on Saturday Ronnie picked me up at about 11:30. When Ian helped me carry the sled and my bags downstairs, Ronnie just shook his head and said, “So you’re still doing this.” With some Tetris-level manoeuvring, we managed to get everything into the car, and then we set off for Inverness, which took about twice as long as it should have done thanks to road works and people who drive on main roads at 40mph.

Once registered, Ronnie dropped me off at my B&B before checking out his swanky hotel. I watched women’s cycling on TV and took a nap before dinner with some Fetch runners, and was tucked up in bed by 9. As I was falling asleep, I remember only being nervous about organisers not letting me run with my sled for health and safety reasons. I don’t think ‘running a marathon the next day’ was even registering.

I was up at the crack of dawn for a shower, and to get dressed and get everything packed for checking out. Breakfast of toast, orange juice and a banana was at 6:30, and 15 minutes later I was hauling the sled along the dark streets of Inverness to where a few of us had arranged to congregate.

On our way to the bus

On our way to the bus

I was met with laughter and heavy sighs (I hadn’t told everyone what I was planning on doing, and nobody had seen the finished masterpiece). Trying to avoid crippling any of the other runners, we all made our way towards the buses, where I managed to get a wheelchair spot for the sled with no questions asked, other than “How much for a lift to the finish line?”

[side note: a stuffed husky is an adequate replacement for a neck pillow on an hour long bus journey]

The wait at the start was broken up by queuing for the toilet, making last minute adjustments to the sled, and wishing everyone luck. I was glad for the distractions because it was pretty cold.

L-R: Naomi, Sheri, me

L-R: Naomi, Sheri, me

Beginning to reconsider my idea.

Beginning to reconsider my idea.

Ronnie and his stylish foil cape.

Ronnie and his stylish foil cape.

At the start line!

At the start line!

Time seemed to fly, because before we knew it, we were edging forward towards the start line. I just hoped the sled (and my legs) would hold out until the end, and crossing the starting mats, I broke into a run.

The first 6 miles or so of the Loch Ness course are downhill, with much of the middle section being ‘undulating’. I know you’re not meant to go out too quickly at the start, but I also knew that I would struggle pulling a 25 pound sled up hills, so I thought I would take advantage of fast miles while I could, and blazed ahead of my much more sensible friends. Apart from the awkward arm position from holding onto the walking sticks, ‘pulling’ the sled on the downhill sections wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating. And the walking sticks gave me great control over the sled’s direction. As long as the cable ties stayed in one piece, it would all be ok. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.

This optimism lasted for about 58 minutes. Then came the first of the undulations. The weight of the sled tugging behind me meant that unless it was a very gradual incline, I would need to walk – at least if I wanted to conserve energy for the later miles. It was around this point that the adrenaline at the start and my positivity about the sled began to dwindle. I recognized parts of the course from last year, and I knew that there were some steeper, longer climbs in the later miles. I had to keep breaking the race into manageable chunks to stop myself from feeling overwhelmed, so after 6 miles, I told myself 1 10k down, 3 to go. At 9 miles, I told myself this is where you were hurting last year, and your legs feel ok. At 13 miles, you’re halfway there!

When that stopped helping, I promised myself treats. At 15 miles, you can pull over, have your lunch, and text Ian. At the start of the hill at 18 miles you’ll get to walk for a mile. At 20 miles you can listen to music.

And then I had less than 10k to go, and crowd support started appearing. I was really struggling, and had to stop to walk a few times just to give my legs a break from the pain, but as soon as I saw the sign saying we had 3k left, I told myself I wouldn’t stop until the end.

I had to take off my rucksack and swing it round so I had a chance of finding a photo.

I had to take off my rucksack and swing it round so I had a chance of finding a photo.  This was somewhere after 15 miles, I think.

The crowd support during this section was amazing, particularly the Macmillan cheer crews (when they see you wearing one of their shirts they make you feel like a rock star), and I was lucky enough to see a few familiar faces cheering me on. I’m not going to lie, overtaking people when you’re hauling a sled is a pretty kick-ass feeling, despite the sub-kick-ass feeling I was experiencing in my legs.

Less than a mile to go!

Less than a mile to go!

At the finish!

At the finish!

Though I wasn’t going for speed, my goal for this race, other than to not collapse at the side of the road, was to finish in less than 5 hours, so when I saw the clock by the finish line started with a 4, I couldn’t help but smile. Except it was probably more of a grimace/smile. I heard my name called out over the loudspeaker, and heard an always enthusiastic Jeananne (who had run the 10k earlier) screaming my name as I came into the finishing chute exhausted, in pain, but most of all, relieved.

After receiving my medal, t-shirt and goody bag, I limped to our meeting point to find Susan had successfully finished her first marathon in a very respectable 4:37, and Naomi had run a new PB! Her boyfriend, Stu, had also managed to destroy his 10k PB earlier by finishing in under 36 minutes, which is just insane, quite frankly.

Me and Susan

Me and Susan

Sheri, me, and Susan

Sheri, me, and Susan

I found a better use for the sled.

I found a better use for the sled.

After a banana, some water, and some catching up, Susan and I decided to take advantage of being charity runners and qualifying for our free massage, which was a good, satisfying kind of pain.

While most of the people had today off work, I was not quite as lucky, so after hobbling back to the B&B (stopping once to give a very nice man the link to my fundraising page) to make use of the spare shower room, trekked with Suzy, who had come all the way to Inverness to cheer us on, to her car AT THE TOP OF A HILL, and we drove back to Aberdeen, where dinner and a strong, sled-carrying boyfriend was waiting for me.

I still can’t quite get over what I did yesterday, or how dumb an idea it was in the first place. I’m also amazed that nothing went horribly wrong, and that I can walk (awkwardly) today. Even Ian told me he thought I would go through with it, but that I would ditch the sled along the way (sorely tempting at times). But am I glad I did it? Yes. Partly because it means I’ll never have to do it again, partly because I can now look at the picture of the smug husky and feel smug myself, but, most importantly, I’ve managed to raise over £400 so far for Macmillan Cancer Support, who have been great this entire weekend.

Now, it’s no coincidence that I’m posting this on payday. If you’re been slightly entertained by my stupidity, and are willing, any donations are gratefully received. If you think I should get a grip – because why would total strangers donate money to someone who did something so that an internet meme would stop giving her high blood pressure? – then you don’t have to. It’s totally up to you. But I’ll just put the link right here. Just in case.

CLICK HERE! 🙂

Oh, and Mr. Husky?  25 pounds, bitch.

The Day Before the Marathon

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This gallery contains 16 photos.

I guess sitting in my flat, still suffering in the leg department from Loch Ness, provides me with a perfect opportunity to update the site with an account of the Saturday before the marathon. Saturday morning I was up, bright … Continue reading

Baxter’s Loch Ness Marathon 2012

Time: 4:30:08

Position: 1663/2551

Medal: Yes

As I type this, my legs are still in agony.  In fact, my legs have been in agony from around the 9 mile point yesterday, and have become progressively worse.  But I’m skipping ahead.

I woke up on Saturday morning at 3:15am when Ian sent me a text message (under the influence) detailing some events of his night out in Edinburgh where he was attending a wedding that I had chosen to skip for the marathon.  I then slept on and off until my alarm went off at 5, forcing me to drag myself into the shower, and then get dressed.  Grant (because in a tiny room there really isn’t much choice) got up with me and we headed down to breakfast.

I had porridge (not appetizing at that time) and some toast and OJ.  Grant, who was only running the 10k, tortured me by having a full Scottish breakfast.  It looked delicious.  It smelled delicious.  I wanted to punch him hard in the face.  Especially as he laughed in between mouthfuls and kept talking about how delicious it was.

After breakfast, I packed everything I needed and we set off for the buses to the start of the marathon.  The Bed and Breakfast was pretty close to Bught Park, so it was only about a 10 minute walk.  At dawn:

Walking along River Ness, following all of the runner-looking types.

Ronnie, ever the keen bean, texted while we were on our way saying he was there and next to the buses.  When we eventually caught up to him he was nursing a coffee and chatting to someone he knew (he seems to know about 90% of the population in Scotland).  I decided that, since there was time, I’d use one of the toilets before the 90 minute bus journey.

The bus journey was uneventful.  I’d like to be able to say something about nerves, or feeling like it was the start of something magical, but it was just a cramped, long bus journey that I tried to sleep through (partially successfully).

In hindsight, the choice to urinate (further details removed) before the bus trip was a wise one, as the first thought upon hitting the ground and fresh air was ‘I need a slash’.  Cursing my lack of penis as I gazed at the colourful sea of dudes pissing into the bushes, I took my place at the back of a mammoth queue and steeled myself against the freezing wind.  Thank god it was going to be a tailwind!

I dumped what I needed (high 5 gels, crappy old phone with my sim card, a tenner, and my ipod shuffle) into my fanny pack, strapped it on, and ditched my backpack at the luggage drop before scooting to the start with a mere few minutes to spare.  Before I knew it, we were shuffling our way forwards and crossing the start!

That start line looking forward (Ronnie’s photo)

This was such a crappy idea.  I could be hungover in Edinburgh in a comfortable bed with my boyfriend, is what I wish I could tell you I wasn’t thinking.  But it was.  The thought of 26 miles was not appealing, and I tried to make the most of the sunshine, downhill start, and fresh feeling in my legs that was sadly not to last beyond 9 miles.

Ronnie stuck with me at the start, and soon we got chatting to a guy in the RAF (I feel ashamed that despite finding out about his love life, wedding plans in December, and some of his goals for the future, I never found out his name) wearing a charity vest and a beanie.  It was his first marathon too.  We were soon joined by a veteran marathoner who said he’d stick by us because we had a good pace.

Our group stuck together until about mile 5 when some hills decided to join the party.  We were sticking with 9:00-9:30 minute miles, and I was feeling pretty good.  When the hills hit, I walked up the steep bits, and soon found myself left behind.  I made up lost time on the downhill sections, and soon caught back up to beanie-wearer and marathon-vet (I didn’t get his name either – I’m so terrible).  Ronnie had seemingly sped off ahead, and upon hearing this I had a bad feeling that I’d see him again later on.
Soon, marathon-vet had to take a comfort stop in the woods, so RAF-beanie and I went on ahead.  Things were going smoothly until mile 9, when I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my left quad.  Not even in double figures, I was mildly concerned.  My left calf, shin, and arch were giving me problems from the start, but that I had expected, and as a familiar pain, I knew I could ignore it and soldier on.  But this new pain was unlike anything I’ve felt whilst running.  Like, ever.  I informed RAF-beanie of my pain, and he was very supportive, telling me to blast up the hills ‘like Rocky’, and checking frequently how I felt.  I told him I’d stick with him until mile 13, and then I would take a walk break to stretch, take a gel, and check my phone (which I had unsuccessfully tried to set to ‘silent’ before the race).
True to my word, I left him to continue ahead while I started a walk break.  I sent Grant a message to let him know I was at 13 miles.  I planned to update him so he knew roughly when to expect me at the finish.  He wanted to take a video of me finishing, despite my request for ‘photos only’.

After about 30 seconds, I tried to run again.  The result?  Eye-watering pain and the feeling that my legs no longer belonged to me.  What the fuck, legs?! I went back to walking and thought maybe another 30 seconds would sort out my legs.  Turns out I was wrong about that.  I stopped altogether and stretched for a bit, resumed walking, and then tried to run again.  Agony multiplied by about 43.  Panic was definitely starting to creep in.  And then, out of nowhere, I spotted Ronnie up ahead, walking to one side of the road.  I called out his name and hobbled up to him.

‘How are you doing?’ I asked.

‘Terrible.  Why did we agree to do this, this was a stupid idea, I am in so much pain, you’re the most horrible person on the planet for suggesting this bullshit idea to me, I hate you and I want you to die a slow, painful death, like having to run 1,000 marathons with no break only to be stabbed at the end,’ was the reply.  (NB I may be paraphrasing a bit)

‘Yeah, I’m experiencing pain too.  Want to walk a bit, jog a bit?’

‘OK.’

We struggled on for another couple of miles, but Ronnie’s belly was unhappy, possibly due to trying out new carb gels (Cliff was one of the sponsors, so there were shot block, gels, and electrolyte drinks along the route), and when he saw a couple of port-a-loos, even the queue snaking around them wasn’t enough to keep him going.  When nature calls, she makes you her bitch.  He asked if I was staying or going, as I could have also done with a bathroom break, but I knew if I stopped running, it would take a monumental effort to get started again, plus I knew I’d be walking on the uphill section after Dores, so I told him I couldn’t stop, but I’d probably see him again on the hill, and carried on.

If only he had his phone on him (which he would have if the screen hadn’t recently cracked) then I could have let him know that less than a mile further was a hotel with its toilets open to runners.  No queues AND relative luxury!  Though tempted to go in for a crap and an excuse to sit down, I continued.

And then I passed Dores.  And reached the hill.  I entertained thoughts of powering upwards, but after 20 painful, breathless paces, and with the realization that I still had several miles left, I slowed to a walk to conserve energy for the last 10k.  It was somewhere on this hill, around 19 miles, that I first started involuntarily crying.  I was in so much pain my face was a constant grimace, and I had to fight hard to keep going, and just as hard to fight back sobs of misery.  As my sun block and sweat trickled into my stinging eyes, my Garmin beeped to let me know I had run 20 miles (even though the 20 mile sign wouldn’t appear for another .2 miles due to the whole slight inaccuracy thing), and I thought just 10k to go.  Near the top of the hill, I caught up to a girl who had passed me a few times, and I her, and we gave each other pained smiles.  She was chatting to another girl and I walked the last uphill section with them.  As soon as the downhill part began, we all decided we would start running.

Loch Ness Marathon elevation profile

The pain I experienced when I tried to get going again is something I’m finding difficult to put into words.  It literally took my breath away.  It felt how I would imagine several sharp blades being plunged into your thigh might feel.  And it felt like that every time my foot hit down on the road.  The girls I was with were obviously feeling pain as well.  We all agreed that we should run through the pain until it went numb.  After a couple of horrific minutes, they both fell back to go to the bathroom, and I went ahead.  I was in desperate need of some inspiration, so out came the headphones.

Ten songs.  By the time you listen to ten songs, this hot mess of an experience will be done.  Lana Del Ray’s ‘Born to Die’ made me long for the sweet relief of death.  The Red Hot Chilli Peppers assured me that they liked pleasure spiked with pain, but I doubted they’d felt pain like mine at that moment.  Nero’s ‘Promises’ helped me start building momentum and I was shocked to look down and read 8:xx for my mile pace on my Garmin (not constantly, but at times).

I was delirious by this stage, so I can’t remember exact details.  I do remember passing the 23 mile marker and telling myself not to stop running.  I also remember soon after catching up with RAF-beanie, who was walking – and patting him on the shoulder as I passed, shouting back that if I stopped, I’d be done, and keep going ‘like Rocky!’.  I’m not sure how much of my garbled speech he heard, but he grinned (or grimaced), and set off at a jog.  When I looked back, though, he was walking again.

I remember hitting the 25 mile sign and turning into the city center, along the river, and several enthusiastic, cheering, smiling supporters were cheering everyone along.  I locked eyes with an older woman and she gave me a look of pity.  I realized that my face was still contorted, and I think I was wincing every time I took a step.  Less than ten minutes to go.  This part of the route was like the Inverness half marathon in March, which back then seemed never-ending.  I felt no differently about it at this point, but knew that the finish line was close.  As we crossed the bridge and turned, heading in the opposite direction on the other side of the river towards the end, the tailwind became a strong, unpleasant headwind, and I remember feeling grateful that we’d had the good fortune of having it behind us all day.

Attempting to smile through the pain for the photographer just after mile 25.

My legs were beginning to seize up, and it felt like I was running on peg legs.  My Garmin beeped for 26 miles, but I knew I’d have slightly further to go.  I also knew I might have a shot at making my ‘B’ goal of 4.5 hours, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t speed up.  Salt ‘n Pepa’s ‘Push it’ started at that point, and I continued grimacing and carried on.

When the finish line came into sight I was overcome with emotion.  I smiled.  I winced.  I wanted to cry.  I dread seeing the official finisher’s photo.  I heard my name called out through the speakers and used the cheers of the spectators to give me that last bit of strength to cross the finish line.  Then I cried like a baby.  Slowing to a walk, the pain I’d been ignoring for the last couple of hours suddenly became extremely noticeable.  I hobbled forwards for my medal, shuffled a bit more for my goody bag, and dragged myself far enough for a t-shirt.

I was in such a pitiable state that the woman at the information desk offered to escort me to the baggage pick up (I gladly accepted her help).  Once I had found my bag, I called Grant, who told me he’d seen me finish and would wait for Ronnie to get a photo.  He had managed a PB for his 10k and was feeling pretty smug.  I’m amazed his calorific brekkie didn’t weigh him down!  I headed for the massage tent.  Even the 20 minute estimated wait wasn’t enough to put me off parting with a tenner.  I was stiffer than Charlie Sheen in a whorehouse.  At least I was reassured by the other pathetic creatures around me, as we gave each other knowing looks through weak smiles.

While I was waiting for my number to be called, Ronnie and Grant arrived at the tent.  Ronnie managed to cross the line in 4:56:39 – slower than he had hoped, but he was glad to have the experience behind him at that point!  Plus, it’s decent going for having his longest training run at just over 17 miles!  Ronnie left to sort himself out, and I was called up for my rub down.  Worth every penny.  For sure.

Once I’d hobbled back outside, Grant and I found Ronnie chatting to someone else he knew (of course) and he gave us a lift back to the B&B, where the landlady had promised me a shower.

When we arrived, she looked pretty amused at the state I was in, handed me a towel, and pointed me in the direction of the shower room.  UP A FUCKING FLIGHT OF STAIRS. I grabbed my toiletries, and 15 minutes later, I was locking the bathroom door and switching on the shower for one of the best, but also most painful washing experiences to date.  More crying ensued at this point.

Once I’d managed to get downstairs, we decided to set off for home.  I’m amazed I didn’t fall asleep, and we got in just after 7.  Luckily, Ian had made it back and was waiting at mine, so I had much-needed assistance getting myself and all of my belongings up the stairs.  We went out for a curry (delicious) and beer (also delicious), and then we hobbled back where I did very little, and went to bed.  Considering the pain I was in, I was delighted when I saw my mail:

Rejection magazine for a ballot place in the London Marathon

Today (Monday) at work was ridiculous.  I had to walk up stairs like a geriatric, and I had to walk down them backwards.  I had many a strange look from some of my pupils (and some of the staff), but I made it through the day, and now I’m lounging on my sofa, where I intend to stay for the remainder of the evening.  Caressing my medal.

3 days and counting.

Paranoia about the marathon (Will I finish?  Will I get an embarrassingly bad time?  Will I shit myself, or fart really audibly in front of a group sans music?  Will I end up in the hospital instead of the pub?) has well and truly set in now.  I can’t remember a Thursday (at least in the last few years) when I have wished to have Monday back so badly.  I feel unprepared.  I feel fat (thanks a bunch, tapering).  I feel terrified.

It is not normal for me to exercise so little during a week.  I have only done a couple of weights classes, one (ONLY ONE) spin class and a yoga-esque class.  And now I’m done until the big day.  Where did my week go?!
At least I have made things slightly easier on myself.  Followers of my posts may remember that I was planning on going to a wedding in Edinburgh on Saturday, ending up in Inverness around midnight, and waking up at about 5am on Sunday to get registered.  Well, that’s off.  There were too many things that could have gone wrong (not least having me wearing heels and enjoying an adult beverage), that I have decided not to attend the wedding.

I’m not a complete bitch, as this is the couple’s second wedding.  Their first (and legally binding) ceremony was last October in Edinburgh, and was attended by about 10 of us in total.  The ceremony was at the registry office, and we all went for a meal and drinks afterwards.  As proof that I don’t just skip people’s weddings on a whim, here is photographic evidence of me (the mature one giving bunny ears) with the bride and groom on their big day!

I’m available to ruin any photos: weddings, anniversaries, christenings…

Even though I now have a bit more time to get organized (and continue to freak out), there doesn’t feel like enough time in between my impending shower (give or take 15 minutes in the future) and the impending marathon (less than 72 hours away – it’s not cool I can count down in hours instead of months).

Trying not to dwell on the fact that I’m running a marathon in nine days. Did I mention I’m running a marathon?

There are 9 days until my first marathon and I am calmly freaking out.  This basically equates to looking 100% laid back, but inside my brain my thoughts are basically an endless stream of what-the-fuck’s.  I know my physio said to avoid running (and any impact activities) until the big day after the Crathes half, but I am a grown ass woman, and I can make adult decisions on my own, thank you very much!
Translation: Last night I went for an 8.5 mile run in the rain on the trails at Hazelhead Park.

The colder weather is coming in, the sun was out (when I started), and I guess I needed to know that I could still run a decent distance without collapsing in a heap of pain.  Plus, I figured if I was going to create more pain, it would be better to test things this week rather than merely days before the marathon.  It turns out my calf/shin is still sore, but it has majorly improved since last week (and the 2, 3, maybe 4 weeks – how long did I ignore this – before).  So I might have to have another test run (like 6-7 miles) this weekend, and then maybe a short run next week.  You know, just to be sure, or something.

Anyway, in less boring injury related news, I am celebrating my Friday off (I get Monday off too, thank you September long weekend!) in style!  I went to an abs class this morning and then did Body Pump.  After that I met Ian for lunch (a curry and beer – still in my gym kit, nothing but class), and I’m feeling suitably merry as I type!  I also picked up some essentials for next weekend (and have one or two things I’m going back into town for later).  These include:

  • high 5 gels, even though they have Cliff Shots along the course – I am not used to them.
  • Smuckers peanut butter and jelly (strawberry) from a shop that sells unhealthy American food for about 10 times the retail price.  This is my ultimate pre-race meal, with bread, obviously.
  • a cheap ipod shuffle, for ONLY running tunes, and so that I don’t risk destroying my fancy (and not cheap) Sony mp3 player
  • New running tights (because why not?)
  • Beer (for my fridge, to greet me upon arrival back home)

Anyway, the beer I consumed with lunch is telling me I need a siesta before I head back out, so I think I’ll get on that, STAT!

Hasta la vista, July.

Well marathon training is in full swing, and I am feeling it.  A lot of people have been saying that despite the love/hate relationship you develop with long distances, as soon as you cross the line after running your first 26.2 mile race, you’re already thinking about the next one.

I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on this, without having completed my first marathon.  I just have a feeling I’m going to buck the trend on this one.  I like running.  Until this year, 10k’s were my happy distance, but I have really taken to the half marathon distance.  In my head, though, I still break it down into 2 10k’s and a bit.  And as much as I like the idea of cracking out a couple of marathons a year, the reality is a LOT of training goes into preparing, and I miss my gym classes.  I also kind of miss running for no reason, instead of dreading 9 miles because it’s ‘on my schedule’.

The mileage buildup is evident when I look at my dailymile training statistics.  Just so you guys don’t think I was Miss Lazy Beans, I only joined dailymile on New Year’s Day (in Australia), so it’s not like 2011 consisted of lounging around on a chaise longue whipping buff men when they draped grapes into my mouth too slowly.  I had, however, only run a handful of times thanks to injuries and operations, so no wonder I’ve had so many niggles!

 

139 miles in a month seems like an awful lot, and that was with a week out because I had pulled a muscle in my neck!  Also, what this doesn’t show you is that I also did 7 spin classes, 6 Body Pump classes, 5 yoga-esque classes, 2 abs classes and a Body Combat class.  No wonder I’m tired!

But the real kick in the teeth is this number, according to my laminated training plan, is only set to get worse during the month of August, which shall henceforth be referred to as Augross, or possibly Arrrggghhgust, or maybe even just ‘Shit month, 2012’.

Still, let’s not forget why I’m doing this.

Yes, I have colour-coordinated.

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.]

Snippets of the past week

This weekend is one of my rare ‘non-race’ weekends, but that doesn’t mean I wont be running.  Marathon training for Loch Ness at the end of September begins shortly, so my next long run is scheduled for Sunday.  I’m aiming for about 11 miles.

I say aiming as I am very aware that I also have a Tough Mudder training session in the evening, and I don’t want to be too burnt out for that.  It’s only about 5 weeks until Tough Mudder, and our ‘team’ only had our first workout session on Wednesday.  Everyone seems in pretty good shape, but it will be good to build a bit of camaraderie before the big day – especially as we’ll be camping together!

Other eventful things that happened this week:

The transit of Venus occured, often considered a harbinger of bad luck.  During this rare event, Ray Bradbury died.  Coincidence? (Don’t worry, I’m not one of those people that smothers their walls in tin foil and claims my thoughts are being read, or that believes 2pac is still alive)  I don’t really dig sci-fi as a genre, but I didn’t mind his Green Town trilogy.  I’m a sucker for all things nostalgic (I own Little House on the Prairie box sets and have read EVERY SINGLE ONE of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, and I remember ripping every episode of The Wonder Years from Napster when it was still around), so anything set in small-town America is bound to get me hooked.  For reference, my favourite book of all time is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and it killed me that I had a shred of respect for Victoria Beckham whe she mentioned she named her daughter, Harper Seven, after her favourite author.  Anyway, my books are like my babies, so it’s probably good that I’m an English teacher (except it leaves me little time for reading for pleasure!).

No room for trinkets on my bedroom shelves

I celebrated Nation Running Day by, creatively, running!  Even though I wasn’t in the US!  And what gorgeous weather we had for it (sarcasm):

Miserable

I thought it was quite appropriate that my new running shirt arrived in the mail that afternoon, and so decided to wear it to commemorate the special day.

An accurate representation of my mood that day.

This past week, the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. 60 years on the throne is pretty good going, and she must have some stellar make-up artists, because her skin on BBC HD was FLAWLESS!  People in England seemed much more in the spirit of things, but that could be because those of us in Scotland didn’t get a 4 day weekend!  Luckily I got the Tuesday off as a public holiday, but I spent a good deal of it working from home, so festive I was not.  The city centre did seem to make a token effort to celebrate the big day, however:

Bunting – and the continuing theme of ‘clouds’.

Finally, for those of you that haven’t already seen it in Danielle’s blog, we had yet another appearance in local press!  Danielle and I were interviewed at the Kilt Run by the Perthshire Advertiser, and we appeared in their article covering the event:

-snip-

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!  I’ll be thinking of you when I’m plodding away at a comfortable pace.  I’ll be enjoying taking the time to spot things I would normally overlook*, and ignoring my pace on my Garmin for a change!

* like this!