Monday, 31 May 2010

Juneathon ahoy

So, this whole Juneathon thing kicks off tomorrow. Eep. A month of running every day, or, if not running, some other kind of exercise, but preferably running. And there are prizes! Strange footwear, and running music.

My plan, if you can dignify it with such a name, is this: I'm currently following a half marathon training programme from this book (only five weeks to go! Double eep) which involves running 3-4 times a week. What I propose to do is intersperse those runs with very slow, very easy runs on the remaining days. I might go to the gym for some of these and do a bit on the treadmill and a bit of other gym stuff (really need to start getting my money's worth from the gym).

Anticipated challenges will be (a) finding the time, in between work and 3-year-old daughter commitments, since I can't really run with my daughter, or not very far anyway (though we did do fartleks around the reservoir together recently) and don't suggest putting her in the buggy because she (i) weighs a ton and (ii) won't go in it anyway, (b) remaining motivated and not too knackered and/or injured (the easy runs will need to be really easy because I'm not used to running every day), and (c) remembering to blog the whole thing.

Desired outcomes are that (a) I get super-fit and find the half marathon a breeze (this won't happen); (b) I win all the prizes and widespread acclaim from the online running community for my amazing achievement (this also won't happen); (c) I manage to do something every day and survive intact (this may, if I'm lucky, actually happen, though I very much doubt it).

Bring it on!

Oh, World Cup teams still available...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

World Cup 2010 Sweepstake - join now!

So, I'm running (staggering/crawling) the Stonehaven Half Marathon in July and the Loch Ness Marathon in October, both for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Because continually asking people for money without offering anything in return except a warm glow of virtuousness can get a bit tedious for all concerned, I came up with this hopefully fabulous, or at least topical, idea, viz. a World Cup sweepstake. Yay!

Basically the idea is that participants make a donation on my JustGiving page (any amount welcome, but I think the minimum JustGiving donation is £2) and are randomly allocated a team from this year's World Cup. I'm afraid you'll just have to trust me on the randomness of the allocation, but what I'll do is write the name of each team on a bit of paper and get my three-year-old daughter to pull them out of a hat as required. Or a bag, or a shoe, or something. Then, when the whole thing is done and dusted, the football-fest is over and the TV schedules more or less back to normal, the holders of the winning team and the runner-up will each receive a small prize, chosen and paid for by me (unless I can find a kind donor).

It'll be fun! Well, more fun than hill repeats, anyway. And even if you're not remotely interested in football, you can still bask in the warm glow of virtuousness as mentioned above. If you're in, please leave (a) a donation on my JustGiving page, and (b) a message on the blog, and I'll update this page with participants and teams!

Of course, if you don't want to participate in the sweepstake, you can still donate to Marie Curie Cancer Care by sponsoring me on the link above. Football may not be life and death, but some things are, so please consider giving to this very worthy cause.

It's a big ask but there's still all to play for. Good luck :)

Algeria - Liz
Argentina - Lisa M
Australia - Harry
Brazil - Vicky R
Chile - Ben S
Cรดte d'Ivoire - Ruth F
England - Claire C
France - Monica D
Ghana - Louise M
Honduras - Louise P
Italy - Greg
Korea DPR - Judith
Korea Republic - Diane
Netherlands - Campbell
New Zealand - Janet
Paraguay - Jackie T
Portugal - Marie B
Serbia - Andy
Slovenia - Zoe
South Africa
Spain - Caroline
United States - Sandra J

Monday, 24 May 2010

Baker Hughes 10k Race Report

This year's City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k kicked off at the somewhat uncivilised hour of 9.30 on a Sunday morning (23rd May, to be precise, or, to put it another way, yesterday). Since daughter kindly woke me by bellowing in my ear at 7, the time was not a major problem. What might have been a problem was the weather, as the day before had been blazingly hot (sounds unlikely in Aberdeen, I know) and my last attempt at a run, on the Thursday before the race, had to be cut short due to me melting into a puddle after the first couple of miles. Cold weather I can cope with; I have yet to get to grips with heat. Still, it's rarely a major problem round here.

Luckily, Sunday morning was distinctly on the cool and cloudy side. It even started raining at one point, luckily while I was in the Portaloo. Yay! Actually the weather was pretty much ideal for running, so I quickly realised that I unfortunately wasn't going to be able to use the heat as an excuse as I had planned.

Baker Hughes, as it's universally known in honour of the main sponsor, which, like most things in Aberdeen is something to do with oil (don't ask me precisely what), is a fairly big event, attracting over 3,000 runners this year. The route is pretty flat, including two miles along the beachfront as well as a fair amount of uninspiring warehouses, flats, a stretch up King Street (with traffic coming past in the opposite direction, doubtless thinking "look at this lot of idiots causing delays to our important Sunday morning business") and a nice view of the football stadium. So, it's a fast course, for people who are fast, which obviously does not include me.

At 9.10 the runners gathered, shivering occasionally, on the esplanade according to predicted finishing time, with me somewhat optimistically positioning myself in the 56-60 min section (well, the one behind it was 61-75 mins and the one behind that 75+). Kick-off was five minutes late, leaving quite a bit of time to stand around shuffling one's feet, checking the attachment of one's timing chip, pressing random buttons on one's Garmin and craning one's neck in the (unsuccessful) hope of catching a glimpse of any familiar faces. Also had to frequently avert my eyes from the couple directly in front of me who clearly thought this an ideal location for a passionate interlude. I suppose it's one way of passing the time. Also noticed a number of people surreptitiously inserting earphones despite the iPod ban and wondered why I'm so law-abiding.

Got off to a slow start after finally making it to the start line 2 minutes after the gun went off, through the big blue inflatable arch thing and sharp left on Links Road. As ever, I was overtaken in the first few minutes by loads of people, some of whom I was subsequently rather surprised to see walking even before the first kilometre marker... Although I can sympathise, because I always want to walk in races. I don't know why. I can run longer distances in training without even thinking about walking, but it's like some mad psychological thing where I see other people walking and I immediately feel tireder than I really am and want to do it too. (Strangely, seeing other people running faster than me does not have a similar effect.) I managed to resist the temptation to walk by telling myself to HTFU and reminding myself that two people on Fetch had inexplicably bet on me (not proper money, but still) to break the hour.

Sadly, it was apparent from early on that my dream of sub-60 mins probably wasn't going to come true this time, as I finished the first kilometre in 6.18, the second in 6.08 and the third in 6.11 and never actually got below 6 minutes until the 9th kilometre, which I managed in a super-speedy 5.52. It's stupid, because I know I can do it, but this whole "you run faster in races" business doesn't seem to work for me. More mad psychological stuff. Perhaps I need a shrink? Or, more likely, I'm just really crap at running.

I did manage a mega sprint over the last 150m or so once the finishing line was in sight, and overtook about a dozen people, which was satisfying, even though I thought I was about to drop dead as soon as I'd done it. I think I just wanted to get there as quick as possible. Even got some cheers from the spectators (there were spectators! quite a lot of them!) for that lung-busting final blast. Shame I couldn't just have gone a bit quicker all the way round and I might have managed a better time than the eventual 1:01:09. Still a PB, though, and maybe next time.....

Collected my medal, which I promptly lost (dammit!) and hung around on the sidelines for a bit watching really knackered-looking people finishing. The last finisher, according to the official results, had a time of 1:52:oo - the first man did it in 32:00, and the first woman in 35:05. I came 2,261st out of 3,044.

Right, can anyone tell me why I can't get this Garmin Connect info to work on my blog? It comes up initially when I paste in the link, is there on the preview, but then immediately disappears as soon as I hit Publish, to be replaced by a really pointless big rectangle, as above.

Anyway, moving on, I'm kinda looking forward to Juneathon, though whether I will manage to run, or indeed do any other kind of exercise, EVERY SINGLE DAY for a WHOLE MONTH seems dubious. It's not through lack of motivation. Well, it is, a bit. But lack of time/opportunity to get out for a run is the real killer. I'm going to try, though, if only to be in with a chance of winning some really weird footwear.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Still more frustration

So, thought I would "celebrate" the glorious new Tory (sorry, sorry, sorry, Con-Dem) government by first doing my back in, and then, once that was better, developing a really unpleasant cold. Hence running has been a bit rubbish the last couple of weeks, which is, of course, completely to be expected when I have the Baker Hughes 10k on Sunday at which I am COMPLETELY DETERMINED to break the prestigious one-hour barrier. But I really haven't done that much training in the last 2 weeks. I've done a bit - seven miles last Tuesday, a 3-mile run on the treadmill on Thursday and 4 and a half miles of intervals on Saturday. But my planned long run on Sunday had to be abandoned as I was prostrated by the cold, and a combination of work and feeling lousy has meant no runs at all this week. Hope to get out tonight in the always unlikely event that husband is home at a reasonable time, and again either tomorrow or Friday.

Rather strangely, the souvenir race t-shirt (enormous, as usual) arrived before the race, in a race pack which also contained the timing chip and a race number which was possibly the single most crumpled object I have ever seen in my life. I even considered ironing it, which should give a clue as to how crumpled it really was, since I rarely consider ironing anything if it can possibly be avoided. (Obviously, I'm not actually going to iron it. It was just a thought.) I'm gathering a fair collection of race t-shirts now... shame they're invariably massive.

Possible uses for souvenir race t-shirts:

1. Emergency tent
2. Emergency maternity wear for woman carrying octuplets
3. Bargain wedding marquee

Anyway, 10k in less than 1 hour. Can it be done? Is it really possible for a human being to run THAT FAST without spontaneously combusting? Watch this space. And don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

"I'm on the pavement, thinkin' 'bout the government."

I accidentally found myself wandering around Waterstone’s the other day and then found I had accidentally bought this book. I don’t know why I thought I needed another running book. It’s not like you can’t find most of the same stuff for free on the internet. However, I did buy it, partly because I liked the look of the half-marathon training schedule in it, and it really is time for me to pick a schedule and stick to it rather than swithering all over the place as have been doing recently. Particularly as the last week has really not been a good running week. Following my abysmal performance at Balmoral on the 24th, and thanks to factors including daughterly illness and husbandly coming home late from work, I didn’t then run again until Friday 30th when I managed a miserly three miles on the treadmill. I then foolishly attempted a Sunday long run which, not surprisingly, didn’t go hugely well. So, this week is my new start, and I’m determined to follow it to the letter, starting with a 5 mile tempo run yesterday. Perhaps unsurprisingly given recent crapness, it felt tough (especially the gradual uphill on Auchinyell Road during mile 4), but ‘tis done, and I’m now looking forward to a 40 minute interval session on Thursday, if I can spare the time from obsessively following latest election news.

Speaking of which, I decided to ring the changes by listening to BBC comedy podcasts instead of music on my last couple of runs, which had the rather unfortunate side effect of making me giggle like a mad eejit as I was running along, which I’m sure would have caused passers by to look askance at me had there been any, but luckily there were hardly any, at least not during the particularly funny bits, although people driving past in cars may well have thought me a bit strange. Although that's hardly anything new.

The other thing I did this week was to drive the Stonehaven half marathon route, which was a sobering experience. Partly because I kept getting lost (hopefully that won’t happen on race day), but mainly because it really is quite hilly, and given how crap I was at tackling one solitary (if steep) hill at Balmoral, 13 undulating (if not quite so steep) miles is a bit alarming. The worst bits are in the first few miles, so hopefully if I haven’t actually died by half way I might have an outside chance of surviving the rest. The website also contains this somewhat alarming statement:

"There is a time limit of 2 hours and 45 minutes for completion of the race,
anyone not returned to the Finish area within this time will be picked up by the
sweep-up vehicle."

Worrying visions of self stumbling along desperately trying to keep one step ahead of road sweeper type vehicle intent on sweeping me up and throwing me in the back with all the other rubbish. Well, I have nine whole weeks to turn myself into a finely-tuned athlete, so I'm sure it will be no problem whatsoever.

Happy voting.