Thursday, 31 March 2011

April tomorrow!

Unbelievable it's April 1st tomorrow and that's not a joke! Apart from the rain and gale force winds today, it's been a real taste of Spring this past few days.
It's been a good running week, after Sunday's run with my new coach :-) we went out again on Monday evening for a couple of miles which were good fun - ok maybe not fun but we had a nice wee run in the extra hour of daylight and the sun was shining and it was really nice company. I had come home from work tired and more cranky than usual and really couldn't be bothered, but I worked hard and felt sooooo much better as a result.
Tuesday did a 5k treadmill run at lunchtime and then went to Stirling for Bootcamp. Although the Diehard programme has ended - it was a quick 10 weeks! I signed up for a 6week block of once a week sessions. Tuesday's was predominately upper body and core work, good workout. Wednesday morning my shoulders were telling me they'd had a workout! I decided to go to the gym again yesterday lunchtime and did a 13min warmup on the elliptical trainer and then got on the treadmill and knocked out a 10minute mile! That's pretty impressive for me who is comfortable in the 12min mile zone and usually has a walk break at 10mins. I finished with 5mins on the bike to 'cooldown' then showered and back to work.
Last night however I was done! I was so tired and stiff and couldn't drag my bones out for a run so baked instead - a batch of my 'quickly becoming legendary' courgette & blueberry cakes, great stress relief :-) My new breadmaker arrived yesterday and I resisted the temptation to dive straight in and wait until today to use it once I had all the extra ingredients I didn't have in the cupboard.
Today's achievement of which I am VERY proud is that - bear in mind I said I run in the 12min mile zone with walking breaks - today at lunchtime I went to the treadmill and ran 3 miles at 11:06min pace and NO walking breaks :-) :-) :-)
*quiet grin* Still feeling quite proud of myself as I write this & loving the almost straight lines on my Garmin output*quiet grin*
Have had my fortnightly ironing session with the physio so calves have been well and truly dewrinkled and are now aching ever so slightly, breadmaker is doing it's stuff and it's starting to smell like fresh bread is baking, so now it's time for a wee seat in front of the telly and a moan that there's nothing on worth watching!
Rest day tomorrow and I think I will take it as it will be a busy weekend again.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Definitely Good tired :-)

Did my long run this morning - say long, was 17km from Dunfermline back to Clackmannan along the old railway line, it's a great route, gently downhill and a good surface. Very popular with dog walkers and cyclists, but have never yet met anyone who's anything other than courteous and considerate of other users of the path - dog walkers all called their dog(s) to heel and cyclists rang bells or called a cheery greeting. It helped I guess that the sun was trying to shine and it was a pleasant spring morning :-)
We drove to Dunfermline and I bade a cheerful(?) farewell and set off down the track. You get a fine view of the River Forth as you're quite high at this point, but it's also a tad breezy! After a couple of kilometres, you are into the railway cuttings proper and this provides welcome shelter from the breeze and lots of trees offering shade and a soft carpet of leaves on the path - though in Autumn these can be a bit slippy. There was a fair assortment of walkers, folks with their kids on bikes and even a tiny wee tot on a pony - she was all kitted out in the proper gear and looked very competent but it was a pony big enough for her mum, she would have looked small atop a Shetland!
I thought I had set off a little fast as I was passing the Km markers and thinking "you shouldn't be here yet" and I wasn't really settled into a good rythm, however I kept going and when I got to Bogside which is just over half way about the 10km mark, I was ahead of my virtual partner on my Garmin by nearly 2minutes. This wasn't a bad thing, I just wasn't sure if I could maintain this... Help was at hand, there jogging towards me was my hero, he'd decided to walk/jog out to meet me and see how the injured calf held up, I was really surprised he'd come this far, but was great to see him and by staying alongside him he held me into a sensible pace and I settled quite comfortably. We trotted along, enjoying the sun which had come through by this time and making steady progress, albeit with the occasional "slow down" reminder to me :-)
I thought we were starting to edge up just a little as we got closer to home, and with a mile to go my new found coach suggested we "blast it" for home, I said eh NO but he said no just maintain this pace - by then I had no idea what that was because he told me not to look at my watch. As we passed the last km marker it had definitely notched up a bit further, but I was able to maintain the effort if having to work hard, he was great, he counted down the last 300m for me on the telegraph poles - by this time I wasn't capable of talking anymore, was working too hard for that! I finished triumphantly :-) I only hope the wee girl who was getting ready to cycle along the way we'd come with her Dad wasn't too concerned as I was grunting with effort by this time!! However, I am really pleased with myself, I took 10 minutes off the time from my last outing on that same route and I managed the last mile at about 9min mile pace which I wouldn't even have attempted on my own, so huge huge thanks to my impromptu coach and who knows, maybe we'll do it again some day.
PS glad to say that John's leg held up well so things are looking more hopeful for him :-)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Good Tired :-)

I've had a busy training week this week, but I'm glad I've managed to maintain it, I feel quite righteous if ever so slightly exhausted :-)

If I start with Sunday, last Diehard Bootcamp mentioned in previous post
then Monday, 4.5mile interval session hard, hard work!
Tuesday Bootcamp in Stirling, great outdoor mix of cardio and strength, lovely spring evening, shame about whatever it was that bit me! I still have big lumps as had a reaction to the bites :-(
Wednesday, Rest Day!!
Thursday, 7mile steady run. I did a 10k loop after sitting all day in a conference and oh boy are my legs still stiff and tired...
Another rest tomorrow and then long run either Saturday or Sunday.

Tomorrow we're off to Glasgow late afternoon to go to a gig at the Magners Comedy Festival David is a friend and colleague so looking forward to a good night out, overnight stay planned too so that will be a nice wee break.

Hope this beautiful Spring weather holds, but won't hold my breathe, just in case...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Catching up

Another busy week has passed by already! Work wise it's busy and stressful, thank goodnes for exercise and running to relieve the stress...
I didn't run as much as I'd planned second half of last week, but I did get out on Saturday morning for a good 20km run, the sun shone and there was definitely a hint of Spring in the air. As usual though there was a strong headwind along Hillfoots Rd - a 4m straight from Tillicoultry to Alva which is a natural wind tunnel!
Sunday morning dawned grey and drizzly, but now wind whatsoever, perfect racing weather - It was the Alloa Half Marathon, this is our local race and it was the route I ran on Saturday. It's a well respected race which attracts a lot of club runners and is traditionally used by them as a sharpener before the London Marathon, it also has it's fair share of "fun runners" and this year there were 901 finishers. We went along to watch the start and then again at the 2miles mark before heading to Edinburgh for my last Diehard Bootcamp, this means I kept it up for 10 weeks which I am really pleased about :-) We met in the Pentland hills and headed out for a trail run with "challenges" it was about 5 miles in total in varied weather - some sharp showers and cold winds up high, but pleasant on the lower ground. We included hill sprints on short sharp grassy slopes, then on a narrow stoney footpath up a bigger hill, pressups and situps using the incline - that was interesting as slipping back down head-first was a definite possibility! We ran on all sorts of terrain, through burns and bogs, on shingle and grass but there are a good selection of paths/trails up there and a large number of "ramblers" as well as a couple of serious runners and mountain bikers. At various points along the way there were mystery challenges to complete including eating a doughnut without licking your lips, and we got to set challenges for the instructors as payback! As always we had a good laugh at the same time as working out and the 2hours passed quickly. I will miss the routine and the camaraderie which has built up over the last 10 weeks, but I am going to concentrate on training for Edinburgh over the next few weeks so will sign up for the one session a week option for the next 6 weeks at Stirling. I may well do another 10week programme over the summer months. It was definitely a good thing to do though and made getting through the dark winter evenings much more fun - I would have found excuses not to go out if I hadn't signed up to the program.
Yesterday the legs were a bit stiff, and I had an interval session on my program, I wasn't looking forward to it I can tell you! I went to the gym about 6pm and managed to complete the workout, it wasn't as bad as I'd feared it might be and in a slightly masochistic way I enjoy intervals, I think it's to do with the challenge element of it... Was very hard and I was tired when done, but sense of achievement of completing it is greater than the tiredness/pain. Today's workout is a 3mile run, which I would usually try to fit in at lunch time, but I have back to back meetings with only travelling time in between so I can't do it then, I have a bootcamp at Stirling tonight so will have a wee run before it and then do the session and that will be my training for today.
Talking about achievements... yesterday was day 80/100 of the 100 Days Challenge! 80 Days of intentional movement! Quite impressive - some of the days have only been a walk from the office at lunchtime into the town and back but they all count!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Running away...

No, not me, but the days/weeks/this year! I don't know why time is going past so quickly, old age? That's mid March already, nearly a quarter of the year gone in, and the days are lengthening quickly now. It's nice to wake up to the lightening skies and have an hour after work when it's still light.
It's 10 days since the Barcelona marathon, we ran in bright sunshine and 22C had the same glorious weather the following day which we spent walking around the city, watching the residents enjoying their holiday weekend and then got off the plane to 3C and rain!
It was a run of mixed feelings, I didn't get the time I was aiming for as I had a really tight left leg from 3km onwards which then led to the right hand side glutes and ultimately lower back seizing up so I felt like I was running bent in the middle... on the positive side though it is definitely the strongest I have ever felt running a marathon, and by far the strongest finish to date. I usually end up run/walking in the final 500m but this time I kept going all the way to the line totally fixated on the finish line and determined to keep going, it was hard work but I was so proud of myself :-) so perhaps on another day without my sore leg and maybe a little bit cooler I would have got what I was aiming for... I know it's there and I know it's getting closer so am not too downhearted.
It's a very well organised event and a great course, pretty flat with a mix of city and seafront running, it's well supported in most areas and the combination of nice weather and the Carnival weekend brought supporters out in numbers, many still in their fancy dress.
It was straight back to work on the Tuesday morning and then back into the birling maelstrom that is our work life at the moment...
In no time it was Friday and the weekend was upon us, we went out on Friday evening for a couple of hours with some friends and as the designated driver I managed to get through 4 Sprites! I woke on Saturday morning feeling as if I'd had more than 4 pints!! I had a head that felt as if someone had put an axe through it and generally felt yuk... It didn't help that the weather was foul, grey miserable and snowing! I have to confess that I barely went out of the house all weekend, I was still suffering from sore back from the race so had no motivation to go out and do anything. I missed my diehard bootcamp session on the Sunday which is probably a good thing as the challenge was to run up and down hundreds of stairs in a football stadium!
So all in all it was a funny old week last week and I'm glad it's passed :-)

Monday I had a physio appointment and he did a lot of work on my back managing to finally elicit the "crack" he was looking for :-) simple things that give some guys pleasure....
Seriously though although I feel like I have been kicked by a carthorse and then run over by the cart, I do feel the difference, I have much more mobility again and although I didn't do any exercise on Monday, I managed a steady 5.5km treadmill run at lunchtime yesterday and my bootcamp session in Stirling last night. It felt good to be back doing "stuff" and I am back at bootcamp again tonight in Linlithgow. This is the last of the 10 weeks of the Diehard programme, I'm glad I signed up for it as I do think it has made me stronger and fitter and I've made some new friends too. I will keep going once a week while I train for Edinburgh as it is good cross-training and I may do another 10 week session over the summer between Edinburgh marathon and our summer holiday...

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Back again

I knew I'd not been blogging for a while but didn't realise it had been over 2 weeks... I guess life just kind of got in the way!
It's been a busy couple of weeks both work and life wise, but it's been fun too. We left for Barcelona early last Thursday morning - 5am early! Flew via Luton and arrived in a rainy Barcelona mid afternoon. By the time we got off the train/metro and headed to hotel the rain had stopped so we had a pleasant wander through the city, a nice dinner and back in bed by a respectable 10:30pm
Woke late on Friday morning - 8am which was a pleasant surprise, and when I opened the curtains, the previous night's clouds were rolling away and the sun was shining. We had a gentle 4.5mile run along the old harbour to the beach stopping for coffee and pastries on the way back, what a lovely way to start your day :-) John's knee held up well so things started to look a bit brighter on that front too. After a shower and change back at the hotel, we headed up to the expo to pick up bib numbers etc. Sun was splitting the pavement by this time but it was still airy and about 12C which bode well for race day although the forecast for Saturday was rain. Picked up numbers and the nicest race shirt so far, except that John's shirt was blank! We decided to take it back on the Saturday after the Breakfast run. Rested up in the afternoon for a couple of hours then people watched and drank coffee before meeting friends who had flown in from England then another nice dinner & some vino tinto del casa.
Saturday morning's sky was also azure, (the heavy rain seemed to have fallen overnight) with a bright sun blazing down as we headed up to the marathon start for the Breakfast run. Almost 2000 people from all nations gathered together to run the last 4.195 km of the Olympic marathon course which we did last year and finished at the Olympic stadium, it's a lovely run up the hills with stunning views from the top. This time the course started off the same but the route altered and we passed boys playing rugby, children getting horse riding lessons and ran through a tunnel which was also a climbing wall! We were a tad perplexed about the change of route until we crested a small rise and realised we had reached the stadium and were about to enter the tunnel - what an emotional moment, to be running through this very quiet almost ecclesiastic space imagining what it was like for the Olympic athletes - you enter the tunnel from sunshine and supporter noise to absolute peace and cool air - it's quite eerie - then you turn a corner and there's a bright light and more noise, and it was noisy enough for us it must have been awesome when the stadium was full!!
To top it off, you have to run a lap of the blue track and the finish arch stands where the official finish line was, it's a tremendous track for running on and just an incredible experience. It was a truly magic moment!
After spending a wee while absorbing the atmosphere, we headed off down the hill - on the conveniently placed escalators to partake of the breakfast part of the Breakfast run :-)
Successfully changed John's shirt for one with the appropriate markings and then spent another hour or two (and some Euros) in the expo before we joined our fellow runners for the free pasta lunch - which was very good.
It was Carnival weekend in Spain so we wandered back down into the city stopping to watch a parade of children in fancy dress with drums, stilt-walkers etc. Rested for an hour or so then headed out for another quick bite to eat and to watch the parade of floats which lasted a couple of hours and was spectacular. Back to hotel, race number pinned on and kit sorted for the following morning then off to bed. Race report to follow in another post :-)