Four weeks until Paris!

Yesterday was my last beast of a long run before the Paris Marathon, and it was my longest ever training run – 23 miles!  Training for marathon number 2 has been, seemingly, much easier than the first time around, and despite starting off with a bit of an injury, and managing to bag only 1-3 runs a week, I’m feeling stronger and more confident than I was four weeks before Loch Ness.  Maybe it’s because I’m not stressing out about it as much (since I know now that even if I feel horrendous from mile 9, I CAN finish a marathon).  Maybe it’s because I haven’t been killing myself as much during the week with monster ‘mid-distance’ runs at a faster pace than necessary.  Maybe it’s because I have been more consistent with gradually upping my long runs, and including adequate drop-down weeks (bliss, by the way).

Just for comparison, here are my ‘long runs’ from Loch Ness next to my long runs (and expected runs over the next few weeks) for Paris:

Loch Ness: 16   7   10   16   13   18   5   20   17.5   13   10   13   9   26.2

Paris:  10.5   15   17.5   13   19   16.5   21   10   23   13   13   8   26.2

I mean, I’m no expert, but my Paris plan looks WAY better than my haphazard approach to training for Loch Ness.

The other thing I have been sensible about is sticking to a steady pace for all of my long runs.  Instead of starting out thinking ‘I’ll slow down when I get tired’, and looking down at my Garmin to see I was running 8:xx minute miles, I have dialled WAY back, and now aim to average 10 minute miles throughout.  I realize this is a practically geriatric pace for some of you speed demons, but I’m still trying to get rid of a stubborn ten pounds I put on after surgery a couple of years ago (but I’ve lost the other 20 – seriously, not being able to work out is not fun), and I am also still finding my marathon feet, so just finishing kind of gives me a semi.

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Anyway, what I have noticed with these slower runs is that I don’t feel completely disgusting after 13 miles, and I have even managed to run 21 miles non-stop!  In fact, yesterday’s 23 would have been non-stop, but being a bit of a dick and not really eating much for breakfast meant I had to stop for some hula hoops and orange juice, and I opted to walk while I was eating because it was freezing, and standing still would have resulted in the loss of my extremities.  In fact, I have felt so strong that during both my 20+ milers, the thought of going that extra 3/5 miles did not reduce me to tears or make me question my sanity.  It felt achievable, and I was even tempted to just go for it, before my various running companions rather aggressively urged me to not do that because we all just wanted our now traditional post run hot chocolate.

Admittedly, I was feeling fatigued at the end of the long runs, and I have adopted a new mantra of ‘fuck you cars’ which I repeatedly murmur in my head grunt aloud whilst crossing a street brazenly in front of drivers, because stopping and starting is a complete bitch when you’re half a mile away from finishing, and people in cars can just fucking wait.  I did also run into a bus stop near the end of yesterday’s run because I genuinely did not notice it thanks to minor delirium.  But considering the 21 and 23 mile runs, had I continued at the same pace, would have both been faster than my time at Loch Ness, I am stoked. I mean, I wasn’t even (that) angry when I got home yesterday afternoon and the sun decided to come out despite playing a very successful game of hide and seek all morning:

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Having run 23 miles, just sitting on my sofa causes extreme happiness.

I am also stoked that I will be back on the medal-collecting train next weekend, as I have the Inverness half marathon (which is officially my nemesis after last year, and I am in two minds about whether or not to race it), and the following weekend is the Garioch half marathon, which I dread thanks to my hilly-as-fuck experience at the 10k last year.  But  since this is a relatively positive post, I’ll end on a high.  I am beyond ecstatic that I ditched the gym yesterday and got in my long run instead, because this morning?  Well, THIS is what I was greeted with when I drew back my bedroom curtains:

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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:

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

First ‘long’ run of the year tomorrow.

While the weather has been largely appalling for the last few days, the forecast shows a window of opportunity (partly sunny, no real wind) at the time I was planning my first ‘long’ run of 2012 (and my late start to training for Paris in April – thanks tight left calf).  Inevitably, this means I will end up ploughing directly into rain, sleet, snow, hail, gale force winds, cyclones, tornadoes, tsunamis, and the apocalypse.  Obviously, enthusiasm is already oozing from my pores.

The good news about tomorrow’s ‘long’ run is that at this stage, long equals ten miles.  Part of me wants to do more, but the part of me that remembers the crippling pain in my lower leg that plagued since before Loch Ness does not.  In a way, ten miles seems like a decent test for my left calf, and it has been foam rolled, stretched and massaged to within an inch of its life.  My sports massage therapist gave it a pretty severe pummelling on Thursday, and I’m back next Friday to assess the damage after the weekend.

Side note: He also told me that my anterior tibialis was the “best” he’s seen in his life, because it was so defined.  I had to ask him what the hell that was, unfortunately knowing that is was not the term for ‘ass’, and he pointed it out.  For those not in the know, here is part of a leg:

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My show piece

Tonight – another date with my foam roller, and peppered rump steak with fried mushrooms.  I am looking forward to one of these things more than the other.  I’ll give you one guess.

In other news, I have started a facebook page if any of you fine people care to have my soothing words of wisdom infiltrate your life on a more regular basis.  You can go here for that.  And finally, a photo taken right before the finish of the Lumphanan Detox 10k a couple of weeks go.  Please note, BOTH of my feet are off of the ground!

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Photo: Stuart Milne

I hope everyone has eased back into their workout routines after a bit of festive indulgence/laziness!

Looking like a ‘serious’ runner

Well today, despite a beasting 10k yesterday, I dragged my tired legs out of bed for my long run.  On today’s menu: 12 miles.  I’ll be honest, I was not feeling it before I left the flat.  The sun, however, was, and I wasn’t going to pass up some sweet rays after nothing but rain and cloud for two weeks, so out of bed and into running gear I went!  Today was important for two reasons:

  • 12 miles = my longest training run
  • This would be the first time I traveled with supplies!

I bought a belt pack thing (so eloquent) a couple of months ago, but I could never be bothered wearing it before, because none of my runs were really long enough to warrant energy supplies.  Today, though, I wanted to make sure I was hydrated and fueled.  After dry heaving at the aftertaste of sport beans before my run, I substituted the rest of the pack for a gel shot, and filled a 500ml bottle with gatorade.  Ready to rock.

The first 5 miles were pretty non-eventful.  At around 5.5 I had to stop because of traffic (which makes crossing a street a bit more difficult).  An old man was shuffling across the street and it looked like he was speaking to me.  The dialogue followed as thus:

Old man: I used to be able to run to [inaudible place] in 30 minutes.  Not any more!  Now I can barely walk!
Me: (polite chuckle) Wow, that’s good going!
Old Man: So what are you doing, just keeping fit?
Me: No, I have a half marathon next month.
Old Man: You’re getting married next month?
Me: No, a HALF MARATHON.  In 4 weeks.  I’m training.
Old Man: You WANT to get married in a month?  No problem love, I’ll marry you.  I’ll need to get rid of the wife first, but after that.
Me: No.. Half.  Marathon.  You know, running? (gestures running)
Old Man: OH! A half marathon.  How much longer have you got today?
Me: Umm, about 6 miles I think.
Old Man: Glad it’s not me!

Too right, old man.  Too right.

Anyway, the run went pretty much without incident.  I had my gel shot at about mile 6.  I didn’t realize it was just a clear, sugary goop, but it didn’t make me feel gross and I felt strong (but ready for the couch) at the end of the run, so I think they’ll be making a reappearance.

And here’s a shot of me with my sexy water belt that was apparently enough to get me a marriage offer today:

Sidenote: I LOVE those tights!