Tuesday, 27 September 2011

M is for list MANIA!

Gotta love my friends on Daily Mile. I put out an innocent request… ‘Compiling a list of running books… any ideas?’ They gave me so many titles, I now need to write ANOTHER list! Hurrah!
Here goes…

More fantastic book recommendations from real life runners!
  • What I talk about when I talk about running, Haruki Murakami
  • Run your butt off , Sarah Lorge Butler (I like the sound of this one)
  • Run like a mother, Dimity McDowell (also sounds funny, I hope it’s not actually about a mother though, that would be disappointing)
  • To be a runner, Martin Duggard
  • Ultra-marathon man, Dean Karnazes
  • Run 26.2! Dean Karnazes (The picture on the front is pretty appealing too. Just saying ladies, worth a look on Amazon!)
  • The courage to start, John Bingham
  • My Life on the Run, Bart Yasso
  • 50/50, Dean Karnazes. It says on the cover that this guy ran 50 marathons in 50 days? In real life?
The prize for the best recommendation goes to Ryan who wrote, ‘Yeah Born to run will make you think that you can toss your footwear out the window and go run a few marathons back to back. Then you get 1/4 mile down the road and realize that maybe some adjustment is necessary.’ I was drinking tea when I read this and nearly choked to death laughing.
According to my training schedule, I am tapering at the moment. I looked it up online and found roughly 8 million conversations and arguments about how best to taper so, in the interests of science (and because I was bored of reading) I picked the first sane sounding idea: run half of what you would usually run. Even I can manage this! So I ran 5 miles tonight and it took 55 minutes.
During that 55 minutes I made about 30 new lists and I ‘worked’ on my gym bunnies identification guide (think ‘birdwatchers guide to the wild’ and you’ve got the idea. Only it’s in a gym. And instead of birds, there are people. Sweating. On treadmills. Get it?) Any meditative ‘flow’ I achieved before (I think I achieved flow for about 10 seconds 11 miles into my last 13 mile run but it could have been exhaustion and/or the fact that I fell and banged my nose) has now disappeared. If I’m not actively ‘thinking’ about something, disturbing visions of me crossing the finishing line in an ambulance/ on a mobility scooter swim into my consciousness. Anyway, back to the lists… any more book ideas anyone? Please?
Happy times x

Monday, 26 September 2011

…and the listing obsession reaches new and dizzying heights.

In a bid to DO something useful while I rest my weary body and mentally prepare for Sunday’s half marathon (I am mentally prepared in that it’s driving me mental with excitement) I have compiled a list of great running reads. The wonderful people at runnersforum.co.uk recommended all but the first book so I’m confident that they will be pretty awesome! If anyone asks you what you want for Christmas, simply select one, two or all of the books (depending on how good you’ve been!) My blogging now provides a public service...there is literally no end to my talents!

Best running reading books. As recommended by the fab runners on ‘runnersforum.co.uk’

The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, Whitsett, Dolgener and Kole

Ghost Runner, Bill Jones

The Lore of Running, Tim Noakes

Perfect training for Distance runners, Sebastian Coe et al.

How to run, Paula Radcliffe

The Perfect Distance, Ovett and Coa

The First Four Minutes, Sir Roger Bannister

Once a Runner, John L Parker

Born to Run, Christopher McDougall

From Last to First by 80s marathoner Charlie Spedding

ChiRunning, Danny Dreyer

Feet in the Clouds: A Story of Fell Running and Obsession, Richard Askwith

Prepare for list mania guys. 6 days to go!  

Saturday, 24 September 2011

L is for lists

With only 8 days to go until my virgin half marathon experience, I am starting to feel a little bit… erm… nauseous/excited/giddy/ nauseous/ dizzy/nauseous… spot the pattern? During the past week, I’ve experienced more mood swings than a clock pendulum. I’m fun to live with. Honest.
            In a desperate bid to DO something, I have started to make lists. In fact, I have made so many lists that I might need to make a list of my lists just so I know which lists I’ve made. According to my training schedule, I’m supposed to be tapering right now- which, as far as I can tell, means running less so that you get the full, awesome strength of the ‘I cannot run a half marathon/ I am insane/ I haven’t even run 13 miles combined in the past week, let alone in one go. Aargh…’ stress. Last night though, after I had cleaned out his wardrobe and given (by accident, honest) several of his favourite t-shirts to Cancer Research (I’m also a compulsive stress cleaner), my husband kicked me out of the house and told me not to come back until I was ‘too bloody tired to pick up a duster.’ So I ran 8 miles. 4 of those miles I ran in the dark. It was a new and not entirely pleasant experience. On the up side, it gave me more list fodder.
List A: Things I have learned from running in the dark.
1)     It doesn’t matter if you are wearing a reflective jacket, have illuminous pink shoe laces and a reflective band wrapped around each ankle, some idiot car drivers will STILL fail to see you and you will have to leap for cover. I have the scratches to prove it!
2)     No-one can make reflective clothing look good. I bet not even Claudia Schiffer could and I defy her to try! Combined with the fanny pack, over-use of spandex, hat with holes and runners pimples/welts, it’s a no brainer. Running will not make you beautiful.
3)     Not only do country roads not have pavements, they also don’t have street lights. But that might be for the best when we consider point number 2. Perhaps it’s God’s way of protecting innocent pedestrians and car drivers from the vision of grossness that’s sweating its way along the road side.
4)     I am a scaredy cat. I was running past the cemetery – which I have passed hundreds of times before in daylight- and suddenly it became really dark. REALLY DARK! My headphones started to get all squeaky as well. The hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention and I squealed. Literally, squealed. Then I turned on my heel and ran as fast as I could in the other direction. I managed an 8 minute mile which is pretty spectacular. I’m not sure that counts though, because I was pretty sure a ghost was chasing me. Perhaps I’ve seen Scooby Doo one too many times (I always thought Fred was a bit of a hunk actually.)
Phew, it’s a pretty exhaustive list eh?! As I have been cleaning/ listing/ biting my nails/ pacing the floor, I have also begun to wonder about the ‘technicalities’ of race day. Obviously, I had to list these questions just in case I forget something really important.
List B: Serious and thoughtful questions I have about race day.
1)     In a bid to make myself look like an ‘I just do this for fun/ I haven’t been obsessing about this for months…honest,’ kind of runner, I am having my hair cut and highlighted the day before the race. Should I wash my hair before the race? Usually I don’t bother washing my hair. In fact, sometimes I don’t even brush my hair. But what if I end up on one of those posters advertising the event and I look awful? And what if someone puts a poster up near my house and I have to drive past it every day and look at myself looking disgusting?
2)     What will my number be? I haven’t got it yet but I want it to have a 7 in. What colour will the number be printed on and will that colour clash with my outfit of choice for the half marathon?
3)     Will there be gorgeous race marshals? If so, will they run in front of me to give me the incentive I need not to walk and to keep on climbing those bloody Bradford mountains?
4)     What is a ‘chip’ and why would I want one? Are we supposed to eat on the way round the course because I  struggle to keep my goo down so I think fries might just push me over the edge.
5)     Can I listen to my i-pod or am I expected to be polite and chatty to people when they pass me in a cloud of dust? I know it is good manners to converse but honestly, I can’t see it happening.
6) Can we arrange for the run to go past a cemetery in the dark, because I can run an 8 minute mile under those conditions!

So many vital questions, and only 8 days left to get organised. Help! Does anyone need a cleaner?  

Nauseous times x

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

G is for gym bunny and SPS is for Serious Psychological Study!

Tonight I decided to go to the gym with my husband. I conveniently forgot that last time I almost sustained an injury by falling asleep on the treadmill and nearly getting sucked into the revolving conveyor belt thingy. I conveniently forgot that it was SO boring and SO hot I felt like I was in the middle of a high school physics lesson whilst the building was on fire. I also conveniently forgot that my husband is a confirmed gym addict- who knows the ins and outs of every machine- and can do ridiculous reps on even the scary looking transformer style ones. Oh, and he is seriously, SERIOUSLY competitive.
            It started really well. Before we even set off, we argued about how long we would spend at the gym. After 15 minutes of heated debate (he wanted to go in the sauna, which screams bacterial infection to me) we took separate cars. To the same gym. Exactly. When I got there, he was already on the rowing machine, pumping away. I jumped up onto the treadmill as cheerfully as possible and, after twelve false starts, during which I entered a race with the other people on the treadmills (not that I couldn’t have won, they had all just had a really long head start. Some of them were sweating already!) I also nearly ended up on a circular track (what the?) and a cross country trail… up a mountain. In my confusion, I managed to turn the little screen thingy into a television screen- which would have been excellent had there been anything except for crap soaps on. I really would have fallen asleep if I’d had to watch Eastenders! So, knackered from all of the technical confusion, I started what the machine optimistically called a ‘warm-up,’ which was just walking. Since when has walking been called a warm-up, have you ever heard anyone say, ‘I’m just going for a warm-up to the shops?’ My point exactly!
            And within ten minutes (and 1.1 miles) I hit the wall. This was a wall unlike any other I have ever encountered. This was the wall of boredom! I realised that I could not get down from the treadmill- with less than 2 weeks to go until the race, the only thing that should be able to get me from the belt is the fire alarm- and even then only if I can actually see/smell/feel the fire. I had to keep going. And then I saw him. Directly opposite me, on a cross-trainer/ski poles swinging/ kossack dancing contraption thingy was Mr ‘I think I am gorgeous.’ Five foot four, bald head, bulging biceps with a tummy to match. Oh yes girls! You know the one. I watched him discretely for a while and became concerned that he had a repetitive tick, his head kept twitching to his right shoulder. When I realised that he was actually watching his muscles, I nearly fell off the treadmill. I swear that at one point, he actually kissed his bicep, I kid you not.
            Well, that got me started. I spent the next 30 minutes fully immersed in an anthropological study which I am sure will qualify me for many social psychology awards and prizes. After my intense scrutiny, I can say without fear of contradiction that the gym goers at my local leisure centre fall into the following categories:

Mr ‘I think I am gorgeous’
In he comes, swaggering like he’s carrying a roll of carpet under his arm. Calm yourselves ladies- he’s five foot three, bald as a coot and smells like a badger (as a result of his masses of testosterone of course)
Miss ‘girl on the pull’
She totters in on high heels in tiny short shorts. She doesn’t know how to work the machines but it doesn’t matter because she’ll giggle and someone will come to help her.
Mr ‘man on the pull’
He wears a vest. It’s a tight one. He thinks cardio work is for morons and simply stands in front of the mirrors lifting heavy weights, grunting so that everyone knows how hard he is working. If Miss ‘girl on the pull’ is nearby, he will place one leg onto a bench to gain greater leverage for the mega strong dumbbells. Yeah baby.
Mr/Miss ‘I really don’t care, I’m just here to work out. Please leave me alone and stop staring at me.’
These people come wearing mis-matched clothes. They have busy lives and want to get in, do their exercises and leave- asap. Completely unaware of whatever else is going on, they simply move from one machine to the next. A blur of movement. A flash of speed. And they’re gone.

For the record, I definitely belong to the last category. I reached the dumbbells tonight only to realise that I had panda eyes- huge black circles of mascara the whole way around my eyes. Did I care? Nah. I just wiped them on my sweaty t-shirt… must to my husband’s horror!
            So dear reader, which category do you belong to? Perhaps you belong to an entirely different group, in which case please let me know. I will add it to my exhaustive list. Yoga and aerobics tomorrow which could start a whole new chapter in my psychological study.

Happy times x

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A is for acceptance.

There is this woman who I work with. She’s really lovely… and about fifteen years older than me… she is also running the Bradford Half Marathon for the first time… and she’s expecting to finish in under two hours. I hate her! Well, I don’t really hate her. I just dislike the fact that she is faster (and therefore better) at running than me. The other day we were talking and she was reinforcing the fact that completing this ½ marathon in under two hours is absolutely pivotal in her life- she can do it, she will do it etc. etc. And it got me thinking… I am not an ambitious runner. In almost all other areas of my life, I am fiercely ambitious. I am hugely competitive and I hate to lose (I’m ashamed to say that I still stamp my feet on the floor when I cannot get my own way. Thanks goodness I’m too big for the naughty step!)
            But with running, I accept that I’m not Usain Bolt (despite our startling physical similarities) and I just keep going. And I’m really happy with that. When my work runner/arch enemy asked me what my half marathon goal is, I simply replied ‘to finish without needing an ambulance.’ She laughed. I didn’t. This time last year, I couldn’t walk to the top of my stairs without needing a ventilator- I smoked 10 cigarettes a day and the furthest I walked was to my car. So anything I achieve regarding running is just that… an achievement. Yes, I really did run 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 18 minutes today- I’m really proud of that. But I’m going to resist the temptation to now set myself the challenge of ‘beating the time.’ Quite honestly, just putting my lycra on and standing at the staring line is going to be a first time experience- one which I will remember for the rest of my days… as for the finishing without an ambulance. Well, we’ll just have to cross our fingers and wait and see.

2 weeks today! Giddy times x

Thursday, 15 September 2011

An ode to running in the wilds

Tonight, despite my aches and piles
I ran a lovely seven miles
Up the mountains, through a ditch
Waded through fields with a nasty stitch
Smiling inanely like a fool
Enjoying the autumn evening cool  

Oh dear wilds I had forgotten
How running inside makes me feel rotten
I tried the treadmill but it couldn’t compete
Didn’t make me feel like a true athlete
Dearest wilds I beg of you please
(I’m honestly on my hand and knees)
Stop with the wild and crazy weather
It drives me to the end of my tether
Keep it together please, have some grace
(At least until the day of my race!)

After a couple of action free days on Sunday and Monday, I ran/ tried not to get sucked under a treadmill for 4 miles on Tuesday then ‘did’ dance aerobics (Beyonce has NOTHING on me) and yoga last night. So a very tame week compared to the usual ‘ran/hobbled/ peed in a bush at mile 9’ escapades.
            The weird thing is though- and I cannot believe I’m going to say this- promise not to tell anyone because it will REALLY ruin my street cred… I couldn’t wait to go out tonight. I ran seven miles just because I wanted to. I actually wanted to run further but I had a sneaking suspicion that my body was luring me into a false sense of security, only to pop a disc when I bend down to put my shoes on in the morning. It wouldn’t be the first time!  The even weirder thing is that, as soon as I let go and just enjoyed myself, I ran fast. Really fast. 6x 9minute miles in a row fast. Howzat!
            If someone had told me that the key to success is enjoying running, I would have made myself get drunk then remain housebound for 2 days before every run. It’s an interesting thought!
Happy days x

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The runner who couldn’t say, ‘No thank you.’ By Kelly Sharp

I don’t know whether I’ve ever mentioned it before (you can probably tell by the juvenile humour in my blog) but I write for children. It’s kinda my job.
I love all types of fiction … science fiction, fantasy, fairy stories, fables and cautionary tales. But little did I realise that, one day, I would become a leading character in my own cautionary tale. And this is the story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…   
‘The runner who couldn’t say ‘No thank you.’
Once upon a time there was a runner called Kelly. Although she lived in the middle of a mountain range where jagged peaks spiked through passing clouds like skewers through kebab meat, she ran…and ran…and ran. Kelly loved running so much that she wrote about it, talked about it and, when she wasn’t running, even read books about it. Yes, Kelly really liked running.
            All of Kelly’s friends thought that her running was great. They were proud of her for doing lots of running. They pretended to listen when she talked about it for hours and hours and tried not to fall asleep when she showed them her lifetime achievements on her mi-coach app. Aren’t they good friends? They were such good friends that, when she went out with them and didn’t drink alcohol at all, they simply shook their heads and grinned in a ‘bless her, she’s mental’ kind of way.
            But one evening, just before Kelly and her friends went out to play, a kind girl produced a bottle of champagne. It had recently been Kelly’s birthday and they were celebrating. Kelly took a glass of champagne and it tasted very nice. It was so nice that she had another. And another. And another two…or three…or four. The champagne made Kelly think of another drink she REALLY liked the taste of… wine.
            After 5 hours of catching up on tastes she had forgotten, Kelly was so excited she could hardly remember her own name. And, when her friends said they would book her a taxi to take her back to her palace, Kelly replied, “’sssoooright… I’m a runner…I’ll run home.” Because her friends knew that Kelly was very good at running, they let her go. And Kelly ran her fastest ever mile- down cobbled streets, in pumps. And she fell. But it didn’t hurt very much because she was still full excited bubbles.
            But the following morning, when Kelly got up to run 13 miles, everything hurt. Her head hurt, her eyes hurt, her back, her hip, her ankle…even her little finger which had been broken quite a few weeks ago and had been healing well. Dear readers, Kelly didn’t run 13 miles, she went back to bed instead and there she stayed for the whole day. She felt very sorry for herself and was a teeny bit grumpy.
            The next day, the wind was so terrible that it would have been dangerous to run outside so poor Kelly had to do something she had never EVER done before… she had to go to the gym and learn how to use a treadmill. Poor, silly Kelly!
The end
(Not the end of the half marathon training, just the story. I’m MUCH more determined than that! )
            The very worst thing about the story (apart from the fact that it is true) is that I cannot catch up on the long run for two reasons:
a)     The weather sucks. It is dangerous to run outside because whole sections of tree, wheely bins and small children are flying about in the wind.
b)     The treadmill is SO boring that I cannot bring myself to spend 2 hours on it. I recently read a post on one of my forums (please forgive me if it was yours and I haven’t quoted you directly) which mentioned something about ‘being so bored on the treadmill that he considered chewing his arm off.’ I know exactly how that poor guy felt.
I ran whilst watching ‘Homes Under the Hammer,’ and listening to Women’s Hour on Radio 4. The conditions were perfect for running a good 10 treadmill miles but I lost the will to live after 4.6 miles and went off to investigate the weights instead.
      So I’m just going to have to make it NOT matter that I missed a long run so close to the race. Come Saturday I will be alcohol free, peppy and ready for action and hopefully my liver won’t explode whilst I’m running!  
Three weeks to go! Aargh x

Saturday, 10 September 2011

P is for pregnancy

I’m NOT pregnant. And I’m thoroughly offended that you would even think such a thing. I’ve told you before, my fanny pack makes me look fat. It has nothing to do with me REALLY enjoying carb loading!
                I ran 6 miles tonight- 5.9 miles of which was up-hill. It hurt. A lot. And while I was running, sweating and puffing and panting, I suddenly realised that, the last time I felt so utterly wretched was four years ago when I was in labour with my daughter. I had a dawning revelation, right there and then, in the middle of the road, in the middle of climbing a mountain… running is basically the same as being pregnant! As you are aware, I’m a pretty deep thinking kind of girl so I share your surprise that I didn’t realise this before!
                Think about it: When you (or your partner/girlfriend/wife etc.) are pregnant, you can eat what you want and bitch and moan about everything and anything. When you are too tired to do the laundry/ lift the hoover/ do the dusting/ turn the dials on the oven to cook a wholesome and nutritious dinner, people understand. They make special dispensations for you. As the pregnancy progresses, you become more and more knackered then, at the end, when you just can’t take any more, you go through an excruciatingly painful ordeal for the sake of one glorious, life affirming moment. Now read back through the paragraph and replace the word ‘pregnant’ with ‘training for a 5K/10K/half marathon, full marathon, ultra-marathon…’ Do you see what I mean? As life changing experiences, pregnancy and racing are one and the same!
                The very best thing of course, is that when you have ‘given birth’ to your life affirming RUNNING moment, it doesn’t keep you awake all night for the next six months screaming to be fed. You might, however, be kept awake by backache/knee ache/cramp/toenail crustiness (delete as appropriate.) I’m not sure what’s worse!
                13 miles tomorrow and we’re forecast a hurricane! I can’t wait! Honest!

Happy times x

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Z is for Zombie arms!

That title got your attention didn’t it?! Did you ever go to a school disco and ‘do the robot?’ You know, the one where you bend your arms at the elbows and move in a jerky way, keeping your arms at right angles to your body… my Dad once did this at one of my primary school disco’s and I didn’t speak to him for a week. Sorry Dad, if you’re reading! Well, after years of secretly dancing the robot, my arms have rebelled, they are mutinous! They have straightened out in front of me and REFUSE to bend. At all. When I’m running!
                I noticed the other day, when looking at some photographs (deeply unattractive ones) of myself running, that I run with my arms sticking out in front of me. It’s as though they are broken and I’m wearing a cast! Because my arms are heavy (they are full of toned, tanned muscles- NOT) I run leaning forward, this could explain why my discs have been trying to escape through the base of my spine for the past few months. D’oh! As the song goes, ‘I can see clearly now… (the rain has gone,’ join in if you know the words!)
                I can now add this to my ‘list of things that make me a gorgeous runner.’ Would you like to see my list?
1) I sweat EVERYWHERE- it rolls down my back, over my legs, it drips off my nose, chin and ears (I kid you not.)  
2) My face becomes as red as a beetroot
3) Despite the fact that I have carried two babies, I insist on wearing lycra- top AND bottom
4) I only have one hat. It’s white, it has holes in. Not only does it fail to match any of my running clothes, it’s also covered in suspicious looking stains (I’m scared to wash it just in case I shrink it- I’m not very good at laundry.)
5) I wear a fanny pack just under my rib cage so that I can carry my essentials: goo, juice, lip balm, mobile phone, spare money, mace spray*
6) I run with zombie arms (see above)
7) Because I lean forward too much when I run, I think I am developing a hump on my back.
* Why anyone would come within a close enough range to receive said mace when I am running is beyond me but I used to be a Girl Guide so I naturally prepare for all eventualities.
I could definitely think of more but seven is my lucky number so I’ll stop there!

All of this means that, after minutes of worrying about what Z would be on my A-Z of running, we have a contender! (Okay, so I know that we’ve missed out a FEW little letters in the middle but I will catch up, one day, promise!)

‘I love running’ A-Z
‘I hate running and wish that I had never signed up for this madness’ A-Z
Zest. You’ll get a zest for life, according to the on-line dictionary (where I just got the word from. Don’t judge me, you try to think of a good word beginning with z. Go on, I’ll wait for you…exactly!) Ahem, according to the online dictionary, zest is ‘vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment.’ Well, me and my hump certainly feel vigorous and enthused!
Zombie arms. It’s not enough to look like a member of the living dead, now I run like one!

Tonight’s run was a ‘run as fast as you can for 3 miles without having an asthma attack’ kind of run. I finally found my pace, I can run consistently ‘fast’ at just under 10 minutes per mile, which I am really pleased with. Obviously my arms, being so far in front of me, can run a 9 minute mile and my hump, being so far behind me, runs only an 11 minute mile. Poor hump!

Happy times x

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

W is for weather (and really, really strong wind!)

Do you remember back in August when I spent almost a full blog bemoaning the glorious British summer time? I groaned about the sunshine, I grumbled about how hot and sweaty I became when running in the hazy sunshine and I wished several times for a return to our native, gale force wind/ driving rain climate. Dear readers, tonight all of my wishes came true (well, my running ones anyway… as yet Michael Buble hasn’t arrived with the keys to my yellow Porsche 911 turbo… but my fingers and toes are well and truly crossed!)      
                Tonight it rained. In sheets. Which were blown horizontally at me by gale force winds. The wind was so strong that my hair bobbles were literally blown out of my hair. I had to hold my cap for three miles just in case it blew into a tree (and then I would have nothing with which to hide my beetroot face and runners pimples.) For three miles, I ran into the wind.Now, I have given birth to two children- childbirth was agonising, it was relentless, it was undignified… it was nothing compared to running into the wind. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see. On one particularly memorable section of the road, I was pelted with branches, conkers and a whole variety of other tree debris as I passed under a row of Horse Chestnuts. Into the wind, I averaged a 12 minute mile- on the up side, I burnt 1/3 more calories than usual. (Every cloud- even when it’s a dark, broody, rain filled on- has a silver lining!)
                At the start of mile 4, I turned a corner- literally. I turned a corner and the wind was behind me. It was awesome. I hardly lifted my feet, the wind just blew me onwards. During mile 5, I stopped sweating! I actually stopped sweating. I also stopped panting and I’m fairly sure that my face returned to ‘pale and disinteresting’ rather than ‘flaming and funny.’ I averaged an 8 and a ½ minute mile! Winner!
                So I have two options for the half marathon:
1)     Pray for the wind then pray even harder that it is behind me for the WHOLE run     OR
2)     Do the half marathon on a mobility scooter and hope that no-one notices
Both of these are unlikely I know. So is Michael Buble turning up with the keys to my sports car… but, as the old song goes, ‘Don’t stop believin’’’…
Keep the dream alive people! X

Below is the next exciting instalment of my poem ‘Going the Distance.’
Mile 2:
Oh bugger me, my side is killing, I’ve got a bloody stitch
Slow right down, lie right down? I’ve seen a welcome ditch
No, I must be stronger and not admit defeat
Although my stitch has spread now and it’s painful in my feet
I do the stupid windmill thing, my arms are in the air
Car drivers point and laugh but I simply don’t care
It must be time, my body’s tired, I’ll have a little goo
Followed up by Powerade, oh damn I need the loo
  (…verse 1 is in ‘S is for speedy’…)

N is for... new widget!

Hurrah, I have finally managed to add something pretty AND useful to my BLOG. Fingers crossed, this lovely little space will be having a complete image overhaul soon (it's owner could do with one as well but one thing at a time...)

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Photographs... oh dear!

 In answer to the unspoken question, no I am NOT pregnant. I think the fanny pack makes me look fat (yet another reason NOT to wear one but where would I put my goo otherwise?) This is how I looked at ths start- no Cindy Crawford but at least I'm smling. Hubby took a couple when I got home but the computer won't download them  - obviously the photo's are THAT terrifying!

P is for… Pop-up Chicken

N.B. Pop UP Chicken should NOT to be confused with the succulent bits of wing and beak which are buried in breadcrumbs then served in countless popular fast food establishments. If you cannot separate the two, you are going to be really confused by this blog!
Okay, I have SO much to tell you that I have had to number the items in a list style format. Please don’t judge my lack of originality, it’s been a very, VERY long day during which I ran/walked 12.7 miles… all in one go, continuously, in a line! Running this senseless, insane distance gave me a good chance to invent some new games (and a new version of an old favourite), I hope you enjoy!
1)     Pop-up chicken.
This is the second sequel (the secquel) to the now internationally acclaimed ‘Pedestrian Chicken,’ (read back through the blogs if you have yet to hear of this new and fantastically entertaining running game. I’ve heard rumours that it is being considered as an additional Olympic sport… I can dream can’t I?!) During mile 1 this afternoon (just after I’d nipped into a local pub for a desperately needed toilet break. Damn you Lucozade and your addictive bubbles), I ran up behind a woman and her teenage daughter.
          The woman was about fifty, stick thin, smoking a fag and trying (unsuccessfully) to walk on the biggest pair of wedges I have EVER seen. The teenage daughter saw me coming and tried to coax her Mother to the side of the pavement however, the woman would not be moved. Her daughter tried desperately, tugging at her Mother’s yellowed cardigan sleeve- wordlessly trying to navigate her out of the way. But the woman was stubborn… and so am I!
          I don’t know what came over me but I ran up really close behind the woman (so close I was practically wearing her wedges) and I shouted ‘Excuse Me!’ The woman jumped so high that she dropped her fag- if looks could kill I’d be writing this posthumously. Her daughter turned to the wall and started laughing and I swaggered on giggling quietly to myself. So you see, she popped up whilst I was playing pedestrian chicken with her… hence the genius name: Pop up chicken. I think it will catch on, really I do!
2) Extreme running/ dodgems.
Because I am more of a ‘suffer in silence’ type of girl, I might not have mentioned that I live in Yorkshire… surrounded by hills which really should qualify as mountains. Run 12 miles in any direction from my house and you encounter steep, almost vertical inclines and long, steady hills which kill your calves and make your toes bleed. It’s a really special place to live!
          I know this. I expect to be forced to walk during almost every run because I encounter a mountain however, I was not expecting to be almost knocked over seven times in one run. Granted, it was a long run, but seven times?! Picture this- I’m running down a steep, winding hill… there is no pavement. I run facing on-coming traffic, so to my left is lots of road and to my right is a steep banking covered in grass, wild flowers, bags of rubbish that have been ‘fly tipped’ and bits of barbed wire. Idyllic I know.
          Suddenly a car comes screaming round the bend. In a panic, I scramble up the banking, stinging my leg on thistles whilst shouting and giving the driver a two finger salute. As soon as my breathing has returned to normal, I go back to the road. Then a second car, driving much more slowly, comes around the bend. This driver however, needs vari-focals to drive, he also needs a pillow to be able to see over the steering wheel… both of which he has left at his Sister Edna’s house. He doesn’t see me. For the second time, I lunge into the grass. This time cutting myself on a piece of stray wire. Imagine this happening seven times on one stretch of road: with all of the lunging, jumping, hopping and screaming, I burned an extra 300 calories and had three life flashbacks- all of which were pretty bloody boring!
          Unbeknownst to me, I was playing Road Runner: an extreme version of the dodgems where only one player is ensconced safely in a vehicle. From my varied experiences, I can state with great authority that the drivers fall into two distinct categories:
a)     The ‘Runners are the spawn of the Devil/ I pay my road tax ergo the WHOLE road belongs to me’ category… or
b)     The ‘Gosh I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t see you there,’ category.
You can always spot the players from group B because they anxiously look into their rear view mirror to check that they haven’t actually killed you. I have a good mind to hide in a tree and throw one of my trainers into the middle of the road and if they weren’t so new-ish and lovely, I would!

Okay, down to business, the run. I belong to a lot of forums and many of the people to whom I speak live in warmer climes: they write things like ‘humidity 100%, really hard to run,’ and ‘102 degrees but I’ll risk a quick 10 miles.’ Today, in Yorkshire, the temperature hit the dizzy height of 17 degrees (which is practically bikini weather), this meant that the humidity was approximately minus 60%. Sunny and warm-ish, hardly the perfect running conditions I’m sure you’ll agree…
                Basically, my husband and kids drove me in a straight-ish line 12 miles away from my house. My husband asked me several times if I was paying attention to the route because I would be running home- alone. Obviously I nodded and smiled, then returned to my Michael Bublee daydream (which is definitely not running related). They dropped me off- waving and cheering, they drove away. At an insultingly fast pace. And I didn’t really know where I was. So I just ran.
                I vaguely recognised some roads and just kept going then I hit the mothership of all hills. This was mile 5 and I’d been struggling a bit after exerting myself during Pop-up chicken (I sprinted a bit just in case the woman threw one of her wedges at me). So when I saw this hill I could have cried. Bravely, I soldiered on but it damn near killed me. Eventually, I had to walk 5, run 5 because my legs were howling in protest. What was worse, every time I rounded a corner, I expected to be at the top but it just kept going. I tried everything- my A-Z, my poem, my mantra’s- I said ‘I love running’ so many times that the words blurred together…
                When I reached the top, I had a power nap on a bench, took goo and drank some lucozade. To Hell with the instructions to ‘drink with water,’ I’d have wrung out my sock and drunk my foot sweat at that point! Thank God, I thought, I’ll NEVER have to run that bloody hill again. Finally recognising a familiar road, I trotted off singing ‘I love running.’ And I meant it!
                When I finally reached home- two and a half hours later, I proudly (and a little smugly if I’m honest) explained how I’d even added mileage to my route. My husband replied, ‘that’s a good job because that very hill is part of your half marathon route. That was a lucky detour eh?’ All together now, ‘I love running…’ Grgrgrgrggrrrrrrr….

Happy times x 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

S is for speedy

Well, for one mile at least, I experienced FAST. My first mile tonight was an 8 minute, 56 second speed fest. Oh yeah, I ran so fast I was practically a blur, then I had to kneel on the pavement because I thought I was going to be sick. It’s funny because I never see professional athletes do this and they run NEARLY as fast as me. The next two miles were a bit of a write off really, I ran two ten minute miles because I couldn’t breathe after my fete of super human strength. I have a sneaking suspicion that ‘run 3 miles quickly’ as it says on my training log, doesn’t mean, ‘run so fast you almost pass out then hobble the rest of the way.’ Well, you live and learn.
                40 minute hill run tomorrow- will take you a photograph of the mountain I am attempting (although I might not be able to crawl down to my computer to post it onto my blog).  I will leave you with the first verse of my new running poem (yes, I really am THAT sad)

“Going the distance”
Mile 1:
Okay, here I go now, feeling really good
Wearing spandex, fanny pack and luminous pink hood
Damned I lost my GPS, the woman sounded pissed
Instead of stuffing it up my top I’ll wear it on my wrist
Mountain climb the first half mile, stretch out at the top
Spot the mental power walker who never seems to stop
She’s slapping on that pavement, like it’s been so naughty
Grey permed hair and wrinkly face, she must be double forty
Feel a spurt of energy, sprint to pass her quick
Throw a sideways smug smile though I feel a little sick