Monday, 27 May 2013

Karen writes: The LSD run

LSD run. Long Slow Distance.  Long Sadistic Drag.  Leg Shuffling Disorder. Lacking Some Discipline.  Oh, and some other descriptions too.

Strange though it sounds, I've gotten used to a few of these seemingly unreasonable distances at the business end of marathon training, to head off for 24km, 28km, 30+km doesn't fill me with anxiety bordering on terror like it did. I couldn't have imagined ever feeling that before, it's weird what you can get used to. Being on a 7 week programme since the Rotorua Marathon means I had at least 4 of these bigger distances to deal with, but already I have done two and now there are just two more to do before the Wellington Marathon on the 23rd.  But...I have learned to treat each LSD run like an event itself. I do this by taking it a bit easier with any running earlier in the week, taking Friday-Saturday off training prior to a Sunday run, eating more of the easy to digest good-for-me stuff the day immediately before followed by an early light dinner. Race breakfast 2-3 hours before I set out for the LSD, extra drink and a caffeinated energy gel just before I go, half hourly gel/sportsbeans and water while running and 1-2 hourly saltstick capsules.

Clothes are always a problem, some people can thrash out a long run in a couple of hours, I'm out there for...well, lots more than that, long enough that weather can go from one extreme to another.  Like yesterday, rainy, cool, overcast at the start so I left home dressed for cold and wet, antichafe everywhere. Then it was clear, hot, and dry to finish, and it turns into a case of hoping that the sunscreen you optimistically applied hasn't washed off and you realise that what you stop wearing you have to carry.  Light layers that you can take off and strap round your waist or tuck into your fuelbelt are the trick.

Yesterday I did 30km, some of that was around the fields at Te Puru Park, I was keeping one of the other Te Puru runners company while she did her planned torture...sorry strengthening exercises which she interspersed with running. I just kept on dawdling laps and every so often she would join me. Then when she had finished I kept going, round Beachlands, out onto the main road and into the forestry.  What had started off a miserable sort of day brightened and dried out into one of those beautiful clear winter stunners that make you feel lucky to be outside.  By 25km I was feeling lethargic though, the outside of my hips and my ankles felt sore. Aha, it could be because on Saturday instead of taking it easy me and the girls had done our Tai Chi at the local school, lots of standing with feet flat on the floor and the body moving around using the ankles as pivots.

Anyway, the run itself felt pretty ok, by that I mean there was no point where I really, really wanted to give up. Nutrition wise I managed relatively regular energy gels, I was short on water but fortunately it was only hot for the last part. I was a little disappointed with myself for the last stretch, it was more of a walk/saunter than a run. Finally I crested the hill above Maraetai, hobbled that long 1km to home and dragged up the driveway. After food, ice to the sore ankles, shower, stretching and rest I felt much better. I had my recovery smoothie (milk, banana, frozen berries, protein powder) which I know gave my hard working body what it needed to start undoing over 3 1/2 hours damage, but digging into the hidden box of leftover Mother's day chocolates in my wardrobe provided something much more satisfying, and to my way of thinking, was thoroughly earned.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Karen writes: Some things are just different enough to be cool.

The link to a group called 'moonjoggers' turned up on my facebook page.  It turned out to be a group of running people taking a unique approach to encouraging increased physical activity.  Their aim was to count running or walking miles to cover the 380-odd-thousand km distance required to get to the moon, a virtual moon trip. In fact, I see that today they have achieved their aim with the help of 100's of people from 40 different countries, it seems that they might be on their way back to Earth again after a bit of exploring.

I couldn't resist, I had to join, and I have clicked on the 1000 mile (1600km) option to be achieved by the end of the year.  Now that is going to require an average of around 52km/week from now on, 10km more than I currently do.  Actually if I can't get the running up high enough I can count my walking, which at about 15km/week more than covers the extra distance but the intent is to run more. Shame I wont be able to count the cycling or swimming component when triathlon training kicks in, it would be a super fast trip.

There is also a 'strawberry moon' virtual event for June which I am thinking about, half marathon, 10km or 5km distances, you do whichever when it suits between a range of dates (16-30 June). Completion comes with...wait for it...a medal!  What, shallow, me?  Actually there is a slight mitigation of the shallow effect, entry fees contribute to a really good cause.

So I now know what a strawberry moon is, I've committed myself to run/walk 1600km in the next 7 months, I have a new and different sort of event to think about (there is really only one answer here, my curiosity requires that I have to enter), and I've joined a somewhat different version of the usual running community, one with an international flavour and some great intentions.  And, as Kate said..."WHY NOT?" I do think we need a New Zealand contingent though...anyone else up to the challenge? Check Moonjoggers out here.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Kate writes: still running

 My physio says I over do the running and a bit compulsive, not sure I agree. We were at Napier on a conference and there was a fun run. It was only 5k and on the flat, so why not? I think that's my new saying when people ask me why I do the things I do its why not? If I can not think of a good excuse not to do something its now why not? It was a bit like why did we all dress up for the evening event, well why not!

Karen writes: Error of Judgement

I've just apologised to the whanau.  I made an error of judgement, should have known better, but as sometimes happens it took getting out and actually making the mistake to come to the conclusion that I was wrong.

I got home after work knowing I had a run to do today, a meeting tomorrow meant that I couldn't just shift the run...or that was what I told myself.  It was raining heavily, and there was lightning in the distance back over town.  I decided that I wasn't worried about the rain, I could wear my headlamp to combat the early dark, and I'd be running in the deep forest trails so I wouldn't need to worry should the lightning get any closer.  When I left home there was at least a minute between lightning and thunder which by my calculations made it about 20km away.  I was asked when I walked out the door whether I thought it was really a good idea, I brushed the concern away, pointed out my smart clothing choices, the shortened route, and that I was staying away from open areas.

I was soaked immediately, every time I dropped my hands down the water poured out of my coat sleeves, it had been running down my neck and collecting in pools before the sleeve cuffs.  By the time I was less than a km into the run, still in a relatively exposed area, the gap between lightning and thunder closed down to 30 seconds, then 15 seconds, then 5.  It was dark, the flashes were behind me, then off to my right, then directly in front.  I tried to remember what the advice was about being outside in thunderstorms...apart from not being outside.

It was an absolutely glorious run.  I was full of adrenaline, I was running hard, my muscles were zinging and the air was so fresh, it felt GREAT. Running never usually feels that good so I reveled in it! I do so much better in cool temperatures anyway, but I think there was some extra charge in the air from the weather and a whole lot of things came together to make the experience uplifting.  I was mesmerised by the lines made by the rain in the light from my headlamp. The cascade of water sheeting over my buff clad (and warm) head meant I had to take off the clear glasses which I normally wear to keep rain out of my eyes, but even that felt amazing. The brilliant flashes in the sky seen through the trees were stunning, and the rivulets of water making forked patterns on the trail meant I had to concentrate on my footing, it was an alien and exciting and just plain wonderful landscape.

It was a mistake.  While I felt safe enough for most of the run, when I got to the last km before home and the lightning was immediately ahead of me and I had to hit the exposed roads, at last the nervousness of rationality caught up with me and made me less appreciative of the impressive display.  The glimmer of satisfaction from taking on and winning such a risky challenge disappeared when confronted with the comment "I'm glad you're home, I had made the decision that if you weren't home by 6.30 I would be calling for help". At the dinner table the whanau discussed my decision making process, we came to the conclusion that everyone is allowed to make a mistake, but this one was potentially wrong on so many levels, I might have felt ok but I wasn't thinking about anyone who was worrying at home, or anyone who might have had to enter the bush trails to try and find me if I had twisted an ankle, had a tree fall on me, or worst case scenario gotten fried by lightning.  Did I learn anything this time?  I can only say that I hope so.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Kate writes: Where's Kate

I got an e-mail from Torpedo 7 this morning saying has anyone seen Kate! Well I'm still here but have been loaded down with work and life. I have a new Smart phone so can now access Internet at home but still I forget to blog!

sore knee large bandage
Anyway, I did the Rotorua Marathon at the beginning of May. I had a lovely 17k run and then the knee started to hurt. Badly! Ended up in ambulance and a large bandage was applied. Well I was out for the day and I do not give up so off I went for a long walk home. A couple of panadol helped, but best of all was a nice man to talk to. He had done Ironman too so we talked and talked about Ironman. 6 hrs it took to do but at least I finished.

Off to the physio today and lots of exercises to do. He also stuck a needle in my knee, it brought tears to my eyes. I must do these exercises and then back to running.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Karen writes: How do you relax the top of your head?

Wellington marathon in less than 5 weeks.  The only reason I am actually getting to this event, the only suitable event in the whole of New Zealand in that deadly middle of the year slump, is because I am pretending it is a family holiday.  The girls haven't been on a plane, well the older one was when she was just over a year old but she understandably doesn't remember that.  They just watch me leave with my bag packed to drive or fly off to what for them are exotic locations, it doesn't matter if I'm going for work, and they feel that they are missing out.

So, laden with guilt after abandoning the whanau firstly for the recent Rotorua marathon, then the Napier conference, I said "lets fly to Wellington for a fun filled weekend in the middle of the school term... oh how convenient...there is a marathon there for mum and a kids mile run".  Actually, I also had the excuse that it is almost my birthday so I could say it was a special treat for me, how often do you turn 47 of course?

There was another and unexpected treat on Saturday morning.  On the way to do the grocery shopping me and the girls stopped at the local school to find out more about the T'ai Chi group which runs there once a week.  We were welcomed in, asked to stay to watch, then it was suggested we might like to give it a go.  We ended up thoroughly enjoying the session.  Well, mostly, I struggle with determining left and right, older daughter struggled to suppress her desire to talk when something captured her attention, younger daughter wondered aloud in the car afterwards how you relaxed the top of your head?  While we were doing it I looked at the oh-so-slow and apparently gentle movements and wondered why my legs were literally shaking by the time we had finished.

I wonder if this could be the magic solution to getting me to stretch and strengthen regularly without having to undergo a massive effort of self discipline/stubborn bl**dy mindedness and whipping up my terror of injury every time? Why didn't I think of finding something enjoyable to do the job, even better if the child-sitting problem is solved as they can do it with me!

As far as run training, I'm using the Higdon senior plan again since it worked ok for Rotorua, I just had a few days off after the marathon, a 5km midweek, an 18km that first weekend and straight back into 40 odd km split into 3 runs a week. I managed a slightly creaky 24km on Sunday morning, my ankles and calves were a bit wimpy...possibly because of all that deceptive T'ai Chi stuff, I'm sure that will improve with practice though.

Kate has had a brainwave too.  She is signing us up for some ride down-country in July.  Midwinter-in-any-weather-unless-actively-dangerous-starting-at-a-pub kind of ride.  Should be good, and it will drag me out of of my desire to completely ignore that torture appliance otherwise known as a bicycle until spring (actually, I do love cycling, I'm just still OVER it right now and need motivation).

Monday, 13 May 2013

Karen writes: Napier, town of surprises.

We have been at conference in Napier, what a cool town that is.  I got to walk many miles as part of  my recovery from the marathon a few days before, felt a bit twitchy and out of sorts, but the body seemed to be in good shape and ready to do more. At the conference itself we had excellent talks from our colleagues working in diabetes, most speakers were from New Zealand but there were a few brave souls from overseas. A high point was a run along the path beside the beautiful ocean early on Thursday morning.   We watched the sunrise from our 6th floor apartment (shared by 5 of us), and headed for the run start as that fiery ball rose out of the sea.  It was pretty cold so there was a bit of shivering until we started running. I surprised myself with my fastest 5km in recent memory, and a bonus was beating a couple of people I haven't managed to catch for all the years I have been attending these conferences, I'm pretending to forget that most of them were injured this time!  Good on you Novo Nordisk (Kevin) for organising these runs every year.

Napier had another surprise for me.  This is a picture of the wallpaper in my bedroom in the Napier apartment.
This is a picture of the Ironman logo.
This is a picture of my brand new tattoo!
The story is, I went for a walk one evening, walked past a couple of tattoo places and finally thought, why not, I'm procrastinating about getting my tattoo done so it wouldn't hurt to take the opportunity in front of me to ask some questions.  After grilling the poor guys with challenging questions, which they coped with remarkably well, I walked out with an appointment for the following day and instructions to come back with my ideas.

I went back to the apartment, I wanted a reminder of Ironman but thought (don't tell anyone this), that the logo was pretty...well...not pretty. know, the thing itself gives me a feeling of delight when I see it somewhere and remember what it represents, but did I really want that blocky red box with sharp corners, instantly recognisable (the whole point I guess), on my skin forever?  I did, and I didn't.  So I sat with my pencil and a bit of paper and thought. Then I gave up and went upstairs to my room and for the first time noticed the wallpaper in my bedroom, and that, so they say, was that.  The next day I took a photo of the wallpaper and a copy of the Ironman logo back to the tattoo man and a quick line drawing and twenty minutes of slight ouch I was done.

I'm delighted, I LOVE my tattoo!  The whanau was kinda surprised when I got home though, in a good way I hasten to add.

It does seem that I am not unusual in wanting a more permanent reminder. Ray Fauteux of Ironstruck has something to say about remembering your Ironman journey here, and he struck a chord with me when he said that he didn't get his tattoo so much for others to see, but to remind him of "just how much is possible if we never give up on ourselves". He went on to say that "seeing that tattoo reflected in the mirror always has a way of making things better".   I do hope mine comes with that sort of magic.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Karen writes: Rotorua Marathon number 4

Rotorua marathon, another one down.  I had a good run, 4 hours 42, just a minute slower than I did Rotorua in last year. Pretty happy with that considering the minimal amount of training, grumpy knees, and Ironman 8 weeks ago, I will use the 'Higdon' senior programme again methinks.  Got to run with the Ironman transfer on my leg just like I dreamed of doing the year before last, and stopped at the Fat Dog on the way back to Auckland for a breakfast of waffles, banana (carbs), bacon (protein), blueberries (anti-oxidants) and cream (dairy).  MMMMMM, there has to be some reward for all that hard work.

Weather was good, but warmer than expected, we were very lucky because only a few hours after the finish there was some serious thunder and lightning.  I wouldn't have wanted to have been out on the road in that.  As usual I got to run with some excellent people, feeling suitably quashed when they talked about having done marathons numbering over 20.  I felt like I ran a little slower overall, but towards the end made up time by doing less walking, keeping going at my version of the marathon shuffle, my legs just kept swinging automatically and looking at the pictures I see my feet barely left the ground but it seemed quite efficient and painless at the time.

Today, back at work, no sign of having run (shuffled) a marathon, feeling good, memo to self - stop eating soon!  Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Rotorua marathon, they are expecting 10,000 people to participate which includes the half, 10 and 5km, more than twice the field this time. That will be well worth signing up for but the organisers may have to be a bit more sorted with things like finish-line support. I knew what to expect this year...nothing...but after having been in events where people had serious health problems at the finish-line, ie, collapsed, died, I still feel very uncomfortable with the lack of obvious support, there was a self-service water tank and cups and powerade but no recovery food nearby, even for purchase.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Karen writes: Tomorrow

When you say 'tomorrow', it can be a word of hope (you still have time to put something off), or anticipation (looking forward to it), or trepidation (drat, it happens tomorrow).  All of those faces of tomorrow are relevant to exercise, and at the moment, they are all present and accounted for in my head as I'm on the steep downward slope to Rotorua Marathon, just a day away.

It may be a slippery slope too...see the weather forecast
But after the immediate set of tomorrows, after I find out if my somewhat gentle marathon training actually gets me over the finish line in something more related to running than crawling, then there is a whole string of much more worrying days to be called tomorrow.  I have to get back on my road-bike which got put in the shed on the 3rd of March without even having the various tool bags and bits and pieces removed.  It still has Taupo dirt and during-Ironman sweat on it, and when I next actually mount that saddle I will be thinking "the last time I rode this...".

I don't want to ride my bike.  I don't want to clean the memories off it with soap and water and grease spray, I don't want to pump the tyres up with Auckland air instead of Taupo air, but most of all I really don't want to do something I find hard work...cycle.  That is a sad attitude. But fortunately it is probably temporary.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Karen writes: Not much

Haven't written much lately, but really haven't felt like I've been achieving much.  Except for things which don't bear close scrutiny, such as eating the entire contents of a very large box of chocolates all by myself over the space of a week. I blame the fact that the whanau has been away for the school holidays, this has deactivated the 'set a good example' form of dietary control which I tend to rely on quite heavily.  Closely related is the "who ate all my chocolates" phenomenon, also quite useful for minimising dietary excess and also absent in recent times.

The forestry behind Maraetai being open again after the long dry summer has meant that when I have run I have been able to get out on the bush trails I love. I realise though as I slow to a walk to go up hills I used to at least attempt to run, that I am still a bit short on fitness, not sure if that is physical or mental though.   Think probably the latter, I just don't feel like putting myself through any discomfort at all...yes, I need to worry about that right now...nope.  The excuse of 'recovering' from Ironman has just about worn out though and the spectre of the next Ironman looms on the horizon just 10 months away now.

I am very curious about what the Rotorua marathon experience is going be like having used the 'senior running programme' per Higgins. 3 runs and a total average of somewhere around just 40kms per week, doesn't seem like a lot of effort to get ready for something like a marathon.  I guess I will find out in just 2 more days.

I am actually really looking forward to Saturday, quite apart from the absolute treat of a girls weekend away with Kate and 1000's of other potential temporary running 'friends', with the best ever excuse to overeat, it will be good to put my body back under some sort of pressure and see how it copes.  My time goal is 5 hours instead of the usual (and never actually achieved) 4 1/2 hours.  There may also be a more somber mood this year, the organisers have asked runners to wear black armbands to remember the Boston Marathon bombing. 

Anyway, I went for a gentle 5km run last night, my knee started twinging at 3km, so I happily walked.  It was a beautiful evening, and I reflected that after this weekend I am going to have to figure out what to do next to keep some sort of momentum going until my next planned big event, the Zaragoza marathon in Spain which isn't until September.  I am starting to learn key phrases "estoy perdido" which is "I am lost" and "donde han ido los corredores?" translating roughly to "where did the runners go?".  

I LOVE the bunnies with the earphones on the marathon website, not sure quite what message to take out of the picture though, everyone is going to be running like rabbits?  Sponsored by the rabbit industry? MP3 players mandatory?