vrijdag 30 oktober 2009

61 min
Start 6.45
Heavy mist meant no visible sunrise and very visible beads of moisture in my hair when I got home. Took it easy, at the start it was still pretty dark as I went over the Eng. Then out to the Eem as it gradually got lighter, though visibility was still down to about 20m. Felt myself getting lighter and moving more easily as I warmed up (like a dodgy diesel engine...) Did a 'sprint' on the long stretch back to the village - it was odd not being able to see the end of the road. I was thinking of how being able to set goals makes things more achievable - just running into a wall of mist when you can't see where you're aiming for isn't very inspiring. Still did it in my 'usual' 3 minutes so I seem to be back on form after my snot-induced break.

woensdag 28 oktober 2009

25 min
Start 17.15
Gentle start after a week of blocked up head and general unfitness. Had a good long muddy walk with Dusty yesterday and decided I felt better enough today to try a short run. Beautiful coloured sky with raggy bits of cloud filtering the sunset. Slight technical problem in that the volume switch on my headphones is now refusing to work in the downwards direction. Had to keep skipping through my podcasts till I found one I could bear to hear at such high volume. (Sandy Toksvig laughing at full strength directly into your ear is not an experience I can recommend.) Ended up with the Huw Introducing music choice - haven't had such a ringing sound in my ears since the time I stood directly in front of the speakers at an AC/DC concert... Running itself went fine - even managed a short faster bit when a particular bit of music inspired me to run up a row of stubble skipping back and forth over it in time to the song.

vrijdag 23 oktober 2009

Snot fair.

No running today. I have been invaded by A Virus. That'll teach me to plan 2 half-marathons in 2 weekends. My brain must have signalled my plans to my body and the whole system has shut down in protest. So I'm swapping my running shoes for blackcurrant Coldrex and tissues for the time being...
Here's a link to an article about exercising with cold/flu symptoms. Actually I suspect my symptoms are safely 'above the neck' at present so it probably wouldn't do me all that much harm but on the other hand I don't want to risk getting my lungs giving me problems which might drag on and make me get even further behind in my running schedule (such as it is).

woensdag 21 oktober 2009

35 min
Start 18.30
Felt heavy and sluggish. Vague tiredness in backs of calves and front of thighs. Nothing terrible but I wasn't bouncing along like yesterday. Not eaten too well today, that probably has a lot to do with it. Did a bit of jumping through the ploughed fields but my heart wasn't in it. Ha, that'll teach me to have Woman's Hour gibbering away in my ipod instead of Tom Robinson! Did one 'fast' circuit in exactly 6 minutes and decided it was getting too dark to safely do a 2nd one (well, that was as good an excuse as any). Home via the Molenweg.

dinsdag 20 oktober 2009

123 min
Start 11.15
'Accidentally' ran for 2 hours. Only meant to go out for about an hour to see how my legs felt almost 48 hours after the main event on Sunday. But it was beautifully sunny and fresh and I found a new grassy path along the Eem just before the cycle bridge so followed that all the way to Amersfoort and back. Good music on theBBC Introducing with Tom Robinson on 6 music podcast had me fairly bouncing along at some points. Shame I can almost never remember the names of the bands I hear on there as sometimes there are things I want to look up afterwards but by the time I get around to looking them up online the programme I have on my ipod isn't online any more. Anyway, it's a great way of doing some natural interval training and enjoying it. Did 15 minutes barefoot running in a grassy field but my feet were definitely getting chilly towards the end and I was glad to get my shoes and socks on again. Did a field length barefoot 'sprint' twice. 1.07 the first time, 1.01 the second.

maandag 19 oktober 2009

Week total 428

Including some warm-up and cool-down time yesterday.

Amsterdam 2.02.57

Saturday afternoon dropped my stuff at Hanneke's place (conveniently near to the Stadion) collected my startnumber and cycled round the route, which for the half was actually a bit of a dull one. The full marathon has a long open and quite pretty bit along the Amstel but the half is mostly through not very interesting parts of the city. (Apart from the last bit along the Stadhouderskade and the Vondelpark, and the finish in the Olympic Stadion of course.) Anyway, it was handy to cycle it beforehand with the map as I knew then where the few 'hilly' bits (couple of bridges) were and roughly where the 5km stages could be expected.

Ate a huge plate of pasta and went to bed reasonably early with Abdelkader Benali's 'Marathonloper' In this book each of the 42 short chapters is written around a kilometer in a marathon race. I soon realised that the route he was describing was in fact Amsterdam, though this isn't actually mentioned in the book by name. So even more appropriate reading material than I'd thought it would be beforehand.
Sunday morning ate some leftover pasta with yoghurt, cottage cheese and jam + bananas, bread, lots of tea. Went to the loo about 26 times. Dithered about whether I would take my running belt with water bottles and camera. Decided in the end not to as I thought that any brief advantage of being able to choose my own drinking moments would be negated by the extra jiggling of having to have it with me all the time.

Cycled off to the start in good time and got my bike parked in the free guarded stall. Weather was perfect for me. Not too warm, not too cold. Went to the loo yet again (portaloos are always spectacularly disgusting but ok, there were at least enough of them to avoid the long queues I've seen at other such events) and found my section of the start funnel. Talked to one of the pace setting runners who were there with big yellow balloons tied to them so that they were easily visible. She was pacing for the 2 hour finish and explained that she'd be doing exactly 5.40 per kilometer. Hmm, interesting, I thought and then shuffled off to the front of the section. Didn't see her again till approaching the 15k mark...

And this is of course where I went wrong. If I'd been 'sensible' I would have stuck with the pace setting team and may well have been able to finish inside the 2 hours. But no, I charged off on my own daft race, did my first 5k in less than 27 min instead of the 28+ it should have been. At the 8k mark I had 44 minutes and thought I was going wonderfully well - hey, this was EAsy - I'd be able to run at this pace for Ever! At 11k I had 61 minutes and still thought I was on course for a great time. The drink posts had been well-placed and had also provided pieces of banana so I decided I wouldn't need the powergel sachet I'd been saving for if I had an energy dip in the second hour. Gave it to one of the kids along the side of the route who hold out their hands to be slapped by passing runners. And about 5 minutes after this realised that I was being overtaken by more people than before. I was definitely slowing.

Approaching the 15k mark the yellow balloon pace setters passed me. I tried to keep them in sight for a while but it wasn't going to happen. In the Vondelpark, with 12 minutes to go to the 2 hour mark decided that I could push it a bit, just think of it as a Cooper Test, I told myself - 12 minutes at full speed must be possible? Yeah, but 'full speed' after 19k is not the same as full speed after a brief warm up run. Ah well, never mind - I learnt a lot and I still finished a good 9 minutes faster than in Hattem last month. Here are the official times from the places along the route where my chip registered. Bit irregular as they're placed for the whole marathon, but the times in brackets are for 5k intervals. I can see here how I slipped backwards as the race progressed.

8,9 km 49:03
13,9 km 1:18:50 (29:47)
18,9 km 1:49:19 (30:29)
Netto tijd 2:02:57
Bruto tijd 2:11:15
Snelheid 10,296 km/uur

The grand finale in the stadium was actually not as grand as I'd hoped it might be. The tribunes were barely half full. The crush to get out of the place afterwards was a bit messy (though to be fair, with so many people it could have been worse). There was a light rain just starting to fall. (Beautiful lowering iron grey clouds had been threatening rain for the past hour but nothing had come of it, perfect running conditions really, very little wind either, so I can't give anything the blame except my own lack of timing.) Back at my bike rubbed tigerbalm and lemon oil into my calves and pulled on warm trousers and top.

Cycled back to Hanneke's house. She'd been outside the stadium but hadn't been able to get across the road to get inside. More tiger balm and oil for my legs. After a while Rianne arrived bearing white roses which I put in a vase beside the hot bath I was running. Sank into that for half an hour for another few kilometers of my book. After we'd eaten big plates of curry and naan bread Rianne went off home and Hanneke revealed hidden talents as a masseuse and gave my legs a good seeing to. Thigh muscles felt a bit tender in some places but nothing too painful. I don't know if it's due to the massage, the tiger balm, the hot bath or the increased training since last month (no doubt a mixture of them all) but today my legs feel fine. Huge contrast with the few days after Hattem, when my thighs felt like lead and my calfs like cotton wool. I can feel a very slight tiredness in the backs of my thighs but nothing in the least painful and I could cycle and go up and down the stairs this morning with no problems at all.

So where am I going to do my next half...?

vrijdag 16 oktober 2009

60 min
Start 18.30
Along to the postoffice with a couple of things and then back to the Eng via the back street then the Dalweg up the hill. Did 12 minutes barefoot over the grass by the horses' field then on to my fast double circuit. 11.28 today but it was getting dangerously dark under the trees and I almost fell at one point when I tripped over a fallen branch + there was a fair bit of wind so I was pleased enough with this time. Back via the Molenweg, rain was just starting when I was almost back. I'm as ready as I'll ever be for Sunday.

donderdag 15 oktober 2009

55 min
Start 18.30
Here's a bit I wrote in the online runnersclub before I went out:
"I'm going to sneak out for an 'illegal' run in an hour or so. According to my self-imposed schedule for this week I 'shouldn't' really go out till tomorrow, but ach, it's a beautiful evening, the sun goes under at 18.44 so if I go out 10 minutes before this till half an hour or so after it I should get the best of the light. I feel like a kid who wants to go out and play. Which, according to the writer of Born to Run is how we should feel about running if we're doing it 'right'."

Great dancey run (huh?) about the Eng with a golden and lilac backdrop and various good tracks from the Scotland Introducing Podcasts to help me leap about over the fields. Did my 'fast 12 min' bit in 11.22! First circuit in 5.35, much assisted by the thrash metal track in my ears and the second circuit in, em... that would be... 5.47. This is my fastest time yet for this bit so I'm hoping this bodes well for Sunday in Amsterdam.

I'd passed an incredibly georgeous young dog twice on my fast circuits and managed to gasp 'Mooi hond!' to the owner on passing him the second time so I was pleased to catch up with him later when I could allow myself time to stop and ask what he was. Looked like a young Great Dane but there was something too short about his muzzle so I thought some sort of Mastiff. A south american mastiff apparantly. Brindle gold and black in an almost tiger-striped pattern. He was playing with the big black giant schnauzer I often meet. Anyway, enjoyable brief dog-interlude.

Then just ran randomly about the fields, varying between stubble and grass. Finished off going down the hill behind the allotments and back up the hill street. Didn't look at my watch at all, just kept going till the light had gone.

woensdag 14 oktober 2009

Start 17.45
Took my Born to Run promotion t-shirt for a test run to make sure there were no annoying seams or threads in it to irritate me while running.
Dry, sunshine, field with freshly cut grass. Decided it was time to try some barefoot running. Soon decided that there were too many hard stubbly bits in the grass and put my shoes on again. Skipped about in the maize stubble fields for a while, choosing the lines with the highest stubs (about mid calf) to jump back and forth over as I ran. Later by the grassy field next to the horse paddocks did 10 minutes barefoot as the grass was softer there. Did make my feet feel... energetic? Did my 2 x 6 minute hill circuits in 11.35 - no doubt much assisted by the enthusiastic lodgerdog tied round my waist. I've realised there's a change in my attitude to running since reading the book. I now enjoy the running itself more. Not just the feeling of having run.

maandag 12 oktober 2009

83 min
Start 18.00
Over the Eng then out to the cycle bridge and back, keeping to the grass verges as much as possible. Followed by a random criss-crossing of the various maize stubble fields which are now fairly sticky after the heavy rain. So first half easy, second half hard. I like the uneven running as I can feel my feet having to 'think' about how they land. It also has a definite effect on the calf muscles. I've rubbed some tigerbalm (diluted a bit with neutral vaseline type stuff) into my lower legs to counter any possible ill effects. Had my ipod loaded with fresh podcasts so was accompanied by a re-run of the Friday Night punch-up at Grey Gables followed by Lesson 20 of Coffee Break Spanish, some Gerry Anderson nonsense and Mark Lawson chattering to the man who's just written a biography of William Golding. And Sil the Lodgerdog.

zondag 11 oktober 2009

Week Total 379

All Along the Watchtower

100 min
Start 7.00
Flying start along the dijk with Sil tearing along at a gallop tied to me. When it was safe to let her off the lead she enjoyed haring (rabbiting?) after rabbits in all directions for a while so that by the time I clipped her on again to go through the nature park bit with the Highland Coos she'd calmed down a lot. Detour round behind the golfcourse on a new path I hadn't taken before and then back on another newly mown path along the canal. Came to a birdwatching tower which I'm sure wasn't there last time I came that way in the canoe.
Hadn't had any breakfast before I went out and felt a wee bit queasy after about 20 minutes but since I'm currently reading about the traumatic wanderings of the Lost Boys of Sudan I told myself not to be such a wimp and carried on and soon felt fine. I had a liquid Power Gel thing with me that I bought in Beversport when I was there getting the mad shoes the other day. I promised myself I could have that after an hour. I wanted to try it to see if it didn't have any bad effects on me as I'm thinking of taking one on the half-marathon next week to give me an energy boost for the second hour. I kept reading about these Carbohydrate Gels in Born to Run and had never heard of them before. At first I even wondered if you were supposed to rub them into your legs as Gel is not something I've ever thought of as edible. It was very tasty and I certainly didn't have any digestive problems with it so I'll take one with me next week.
I was vaguely aware of having used calf and buttock muscles (or just under, top back of thighs) which possibly hadn't had the same use before. Not pain, just an awareness. From Friday's experimental beach run. I did think of having another 10 minutes barefootshoes trial this morning but it was still dark when I left and I just didn't fancy the extra complication of taking them with me and changing shoes for the short stretch of sand.

vrijdag 9 oktober 2009

Vibram5Fingers Test Run

94 min
Start 17.00
Along the beach from 's Gravenzande to Monster and back. First via the soft sand, back along the shore line. Tried out my weird new shoes for 8 minutes + 8 minutes in bare feet. The idea is to get used gradually to barefoot running. Not sure yet how far I'm going to go with this but I do like the idea of using the muscles in my feet more as they are supposed to be used instead of letting them deteriorate in too-rigid shoes. Enjoyable slow-but-hard-work sort of run.
The current lodgerdog behaved impeccably, racing about but always coming to my side immediately when I called her.

woensdag 7 oktober 2009

I Pod You Pod We all scream for My Pod!

The return of the I-Pod...
Finally got round to taking it into Hilversum yesterday. (They wanted to charge me 10 euros just to look at it in the MacHouse in Utrecht but said it would be free in Hilversum, where I bought it. Now that I think about it, this is odd - shouldn't the gaurantee be valid anywhere? If I could be bothered I really should write A Nangry Letter) So after playing about with it while I went to drink an excellent cappucino at Ingrid's cafe across the road they gave me new earphones/switch cable and off I went. They did ask if it was ok if they reset the ipod, therefore removing everything and I said it was fine as I put new podcasts on all the time anyway. It wasn't till I wanted to take it for a test run this evening that I remembered I didn't have time to put new stuff on. I was curious to know what they'd put on to test it. Alicia Keyes... oh well, it could have been Celine Dion I suppose. Very much a novelty run for me to have her warbling away in my ears - I'm more a Rammstein sort of girl myself. Let's just say it was - interesting.

Meanwhile, away from my ears and down at my feet, the run itself went wonderfully, despite most of it being in pouring rain.

92 min
Start 18.30
Out to Baarn and back, stopping off to get some safety pins from Carin to keep my yellow fluorescent tabard from flapping so much. Lots of nice little incidents on the way. Finally met the enormous blue Great Dane I've admired from passing glimpses in the car a few times. Magnificent big beast with a character to match. Friendly but reserved as befits a dog of his size and noble bearing. Went on through the polder, rain getting heavier and Alicia getting warblier. (I could of course have just turned her off, but I like a challenge...) At one point a hooded teenager cycled past - he turned round and said hello as he passed me (an event in itself as most of them don't do greeting strangers) and gestured to his baggage rack to ask if I wanted a lift. I laughed and said 'No, but thanks for the offer' and off he went. I don't think he quite got the concept of running through the rain for fun. I quite like rain running though. As long as you know how far you have to go and that there's a warm shower at the end of it, it's actually very refreshing. (Mind you, it's not properly cold yet... I may feel differently next month.) I was frequently rattling through the running control list mantra I picked up from my favourite book of the moment:
1) Easy
2) Soft
3) Supple
4) Fast
as I went. Easy means going at a pace where breathing is not laboured. Soft means thinking about how my feet land, not thumping down, but brushing the ground with forward moving impetus. Supple means paying attention to posture - straight back, look ahead, hips forward so that the feet land in the right place directly under the body. And Fast? If you get the first 3 right the best possible speed should come automatically. It felt like something was clicking into place, I really was enjoying myself and felt I was running well.

dinsdag 6 oktober 2009

93 min
Start 7.00
New addition to my DarkRunner outfit is a red bike lamp at my back.
Grey misty morning so no visible sunrise but I still enjoyed the novelty of setting out in the dark. Took the longish route, first over the Eng then over the railway on the Amersfoort side of town and a left turn back via the fire station and the Dalweg. Quite busy with early morning traffic on the polder roads so I'm glad I had my full visibility stuff on. Running went great as far as I could tell. I must be mistaken but I would swear I took 3 minutes for the bit that took me 5 minutes last time. That can't be right - I must have looked at my watch wrong either this time or last time... Either that or I really do have a tribe of Tamahuaras with me, not just in my head, but under my feet too! I wanted to complete 90 minutes so did another bit of field running at the end. The ploughed fields are perfect for heavyish running now that they're wet after such a long dry spell.
Not really messy clay mud, just doughy enough to add some resistance. The maize stubble is great too for skipping back and forwards over the lines. I'll miss these variations when they're re-planted.

zondag 4 oktober 2009

Week Total 346 min

41 min
Start 19.10
Got back from Amsterdam before sunset and as it was a nice clear evening I felt like going out briefly before dark, even though it didn't really fit in my 36hour schedule. Hey, this is a good sign, usually the only times I've broken the schedule is to 'postpone' a training session, not to 'advance' it. That surely means I'm doing it more for fun than because I 'have' to? Anyway, fairly improvised run about the fields out the back. Through newly harvested maize fields where I had to leap over the rows of stubble. Great exercise in picking up my feet properly. Also soft ploughed fields, grass fields and the harder paths in between. Finished with the hilly bit of street. Back in time to shower quickly before the Archers.

zaterdag 3 oktober 2009

Night Running

84 min
Start 19.40
Ha, am I scary or what!?
Well, that was fun. First time I've been out with my wee headlamp on. Had it on upside down first so the light went up in the air. The idea is to direct it in front of you, it has a swivel bit to get it at the best angle.
A bit surreal running along with a circle of light on the ground in front of me, getting bigger or smaller depending on how I held my head. Started off across the Eng, up behind the cemetery, then on to my '6 min hill circuit' bit. Did that twice but was 20 seconds slower than normal. Ah well, there was quite a wind on the long straight at the top and I'd forgotten my Ventoline again so conditions were far from optimal. Felt fine though, concentrating on keeping my hips forward, my elbows back and my legs 'under me' as described in The Book Not too busy with lengthening my stride any more as apparantly this is not how the Tarahumara run. Shorter faster strides are more energy efficient. And less likely to lead to problems with feet/knees/joints. Not that I've ever been particularly injury prone (too lazy really to venture into stuff that hurts) but it's as well to be aware of these things.

vrijdag 2 oktober 2009

46 min
Start 15.00
Had my new dinky wee headlamp and my flourescent vest ready to get up and run in the dark this morning but just couldn't face it when the alarm went off... I know I know, 'not feeling like it' is no reason not to go out but in my defence (yer honour) I had been up late reading Christopher McDougall's amazingly good book and had just got to the bit (Chapter 25) where he explains why the shock-absorbing shoes we all pay loads of money for are actually bAd for us! Being a natural cynic I seldom come across things which truly shock me but this was one of them. I'm usually pretty good at spotting marketing ploys and avoiding them but this one has slipped so seamlessly into current ways of thinking about running that I've not only completely swallowed it but also passed it on to others. First thing I do when someone says they're starting running is 'Make sure you have good shoes.' I was so astonished by all the things I read that I couldn't sleep for ages for thinking about it all. So no wonder I couldn't manage to get out of bed a few hours later.

Anyway, today's run. There are lots of freshly-ploughed fields around the Eng at the moment so spent a good bit of it plodding through them. Not quite as nice as running along the sea shore but the effect on my legs is much the same I imagine. I was pleased to notice that I didn't have any trouble from muscle pain in my thighs after yesterday's unexpected 45 minute ride on Gypsy, the biggest horse in the RDA stables I help out at one morning a week. Previously when I've ridden after a long interval I've always been very aware of it the next day - this lack of effect must mean that my leg muscles have become stronger through running.