Thursday, 15 August 2013

Karen writes: Grumbles and Aches

I ran over 60 km last week.  That just doesn't happen with me, well it did last week obviously, but I am normally strict about limiting my running to 3 days a week or non-consecutive days.  You see I have finally learned that to get safely to the finish line of a marathon I don't need more than a regular weekly total of 40 to 50km.  

Part of last week's tally was the 25km on Sunday. It was a lovely overcast and sometimes rainy morning and spring was clearly on the way, the yellow ring around the puddle in the picture isn't pollution, it's bright yellow pollen.  It always feels really good to tick off the 'long' runs before a marathon, just to remind myself I can do them. The mistake I made was to not run shorter in the week leading up to that long run. The price of extra mileage is complaining muscles and tendons, and with that comes a dose of that pain in my knee just a pain which will subside, will the sore Achilles settle or is it the 'end' of my short running career?

Last night I took it easy, just a gentle 6km, it mostly felt pretty good, the breathing was relaxed, the legs worked well, but bits were hurting again and as I pottered along by the sea I got back to worrying again. Then I thought back to when we started all this, didn't I go to bed at night with anti-flam on my Achilles tendons and strapping on to keep my feet at a right angle? Didn't I need to take pain relief before every run and apply ice afterwards to so many aches that I didn't have enough icebags to put one bag on each sore bit and had to cycle the bags from one bit to another? Didn't I worry that I wasn't even going to get to the startline of my first marathon?  And last year at this time, wasn't I planning on walking the 42km Sunshine coast event? These niggles and aches are NOTHING like they used to be!

Running with Kate tonight, a nice 20km will do us both good, or we might even end up walking if we feel like it. Kate has the Dunedin marathon in...oh dear...3 weeks, and I'm only 6 weeks out from Spain.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Karen writes: Triathlon journey...

In recent weeks I have become pretty sure I am seeing the emergence of another triathlon convert.  The signs are there, questions are getting increasingly targeted, there are discussions around books and bikes and food and upcoming events...and the bundle of medals on the wall brings about a wistful look.

It is so exciting to run across someone else who may potentially be hooked! Perhaps each new person validates your own pathway (if someone else does it then it cant be thaaaat mad), perhaps it is knowing someone else will eventually experience the highs and the lows and the super highs and understand in the way that only another who has done the same thing can?  Perhaps it is yet another person to 'talk shop' with, learn from, relive things?

You realise when you start pontificating on nutrition this and injury that and this piece of equipment here just how far you have come though. Fortunately at the start you dont realise how long the learning journey is, what you will have to deal with, or that once hooked it never really stops.

I might even be a bit jealous because there is never again a 'first' significant event. My most memorable and profoundly affecting was that first entry-level triathlon, Special K in 2005.  Followed by the first marathon in 2010, which sure left me pretty high but not as high as Special K.  Even Ironman was a bit muted because our 'first' in 2012 was downgraded to a half and in 2013 things didn't feel quite the same, we knew what we were doing by then, well, we thought we did anyway. But actually all events have their high points, except it might be the training journey, or the accommodation, or a particularly nice guilt-free hamburger that is remembered more than the race itself after you have done a few of them.  Whatever, journey or destination, the feelings are addictive, and long may we all travel this fabulous road.

Speaking of roads, I'm back on a modified version of the 8 week programme I used before both Rotorua and Wellington marathons. This week I have upped the time I have spent running. Monday was run (8km) and spin (45 min), Wednesday was a thoroughly enjoyable (did I say that?) 15km run, tonight will be a 10-12km run dependent on how energetic I feel after a long day at work, tomorrow is Saturday and a dose of Tai Chi, and Sunday a 25km run is on the plan.  7 weeks out from the Zaragosa marathon, time is disappearing at an alarming rate, as it always does, why am I always surprised by this?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Kate writes: it was all my fault!

I usually blame Karen. Its always her fault, she got me into this sporting thing! But a couple of weekends a go it was all my fault. On the Saturday my swim group decided to have an adventure. Let's go mountain biking from Port Waikato to the caves 28km, morning tea and then onto Waingaro Hot Springs another 30km.

Firstly I have never been mountain biking or had a mountain bike, secondly I had booked a bike race on the Sunday with Karen and my brother-in-law David at Okoroire, a 70k. But it was going to be fun so why not!

I decided before I went that I would only do the first half. Lets be sensible, haha. I borrowed a bike and off we went, 8 of us in all. Well what fun it was. Mountain biking is so much fun. Hills, what hills? The bike has so many gears it was easy. Amazing countryside, lots of hills and green grass. We got to the cafe and I stopped. We had a van and a man and a trailer. 3 others carried on until 40km and then stopped and the last 4 went all the way to the pub and the hot pools. A good soak in the Waingaro Hot pools was well deserved.

The next day off I was again with Karen and David in tow on our 70km bike race at Okoroire. Well the pace was fast and off everyone else went. The aim of our day was to get David through though. It was his first race and he had only ridden 45k before so it was going to be fun. There is a saying about enjoying yourself and smelling the roses. Well that's what we did. We enjoyed ourselves, looked at the scenery, looked at the houses and gardens and smelled the roses. We were the last ones in, but what fun we had. David said "never again", but by the time we got home he could not stop talking. I think he now understands about eating and drinking while exercising. Also about Chamois cream! Sore parts!

So as I said it was all my fault but a good week end was had by all. Roll on the summer.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Karen writes: New shoes...again

Just wore the newest pair of running shoes.  I could count off the last few years in pairs of shoes, the pair with purple stripes, the blue ones, pink, the two black pairs I didn't like but got them because they were cheap and so on and so on. Every pair capturing up to 800km in those worn asics soles, all reaching back into my running where will this latest pair take me I wonder.

I put the elastic laces in, I LOVE those things.  You realise ordinary laces are quite restrictive and don't conform to your foot and you never want to go back to them after getting used to the elastic ones.  They also make your shoe easy to get on and off, just by shifting the toggle, perfect for those who waste massive amounts of energy on running but are too lazy to take the extra effort to undo a pair of laces. So I put the shoes on and in the spirit of true procrastination  I speculated as to whether or not this pair would make it to Ironman, and figured eventually that they probably wouldn't. Then I ran, goodness they felt different from the old pair, those were obviously well past their best.  These days a replacement pair of running shoes of a brand that suits you doesn't tend to need breaking in to prevent blisters, but the soles of my feet usually get hot for the first couple of runs. There wasn't much heat tonight though, running was in the dark on this winter evening across the frosty grass down to Monday spin class at Te Puru.

"Work hard" called the fitly fabulous young spin instructor, "you only have 45 minutes and if you dont WORK you are WASTING your MONEY".  I dont work hard, I have a different excuse every time...oh, I ran a marathon 3 days ago...oh I am tapering...oh, I had a big bikeride... oh, I'm feeling lazy...oh if I work too hard I wont be able to run home...oh, actually yesterday I did my long run because oops, I have another marathon in less than 8 weeks.

So its 8 weeks out from the next marathon and I'm playing with altering my running style.  Why, because I found a book on it of course. This writer claims that running can be made more energy efficient by using gravity, it can also apparently be 'effortless and injury free', worth  a try, running represents neither of those things for me. I'm finding applying the theory is taking a lot of intellectual effort however, what with all the complicated instructions which I guess do have the benefit of making the miles disappear faster when you are constantly going through a list of 'things' to do.  Be mindful. Head held up by string. Long back. Lean forward.  Relax to go faster.  Shoulders neutral (how do you tell?).  Swing arms back.  Neutral hips (?). Legs are wheels not pendulums. Engage core (that dratted core again).  Land on midfoot not heel. Cadence up.  Feet straight ahead. Breathe from...where was it again? Be even more mindful...etc etc. I find when I concentrate on one point, I let something else go, or when I'm thinking about wheel motions for my legs my arms want to go in circles as well.

I have to admit I nearly gave up when I read the instruction that I should avoid conserve energy apparently.  Of course I cant possibly see the point of running and not talking!