Friday, March 02, 2007

Long Time Gone

It's remarkably hard to start posting again after an absence, particularly when the absence has been caused by a simple lack of the ability to find time to connect with my iBook. As I commented to a friend at one point, it wasn't so much that I was burning the candle at both ends. Rather, I'd somehow managed to discover a third wick in the middle of the candle.

The longer I sayed away, the harder it became to start again. So much has happened. Where to begin? I got so busy that I even lost all impetus to write. I haven't posted to Sunday Scribblings or Poetry Thursday for weeks, and I haven't felt any inspiration. When I did try to write I was so fed up with what I felt was a lapsing into a 'style' which to me has become tired.

So no poetry just yet. I need to ease my way back into the blogging, so I thought it would be best to start with a simple rundown of my current training.

I'm pleased to report that I ran the Round the Bays successfully, and there are even a couple of photos available of me that I like. Photos of me running that don't make me cringe! I have ordered a couple of electronic photos from the official website, and will post them here once they arrive.

Sarah and I met up beforehand, but she somehow found the turbo button and took off right at the start. I made no attempt to keep up, and concentrated more on setting myself a steady pace. As I turned onto Oriental Parade Harriet flew past. Knowing that she normally runs more slowly than me I called out to her. It turned out she was running to some fast music on her iPOD, and hadn't realised how fast she was going.

A little further on and I passed Leonie, who I hadn't even known was running. It was a lovely surprise, and we kept pace for a little while before I sped up again. By now the early morning cloud had disappeared, and for once there was no hint of a breeze. As I rounded Pt Jerningham the temperature rose rather than fell, and I realised this was not going to be easy.

From that point on I ran through every hose I could find, even with my cellphone in my hand. It didn't feel like a pretty run. I was hot, I felt slow, and I fought an unaccountable stitch the whole way. However it felt good to be running in a large crowd, and the emphasis definitely was on 'fun'.

About half a kilometre before the finish I felt the first inklings of nausea, but ran through it. The run into Kilbirnie Park and down the finish shute was no sprint of glory, but I don't look as grim in the finish-line photo as I had imagined. All up it was good to get the run over with! I have no idea why it felt so hard, particularly given that I knew how far I had to run, and I knew that it wasn't that far.

On reflection I'd had a hard week of training in the lead-up. Duck had worked me hard on the Thursday, and then I'd wrecked my quads sprinting away from chasing Multis girls during a training session that night. They were still a little sore on Sunday. I had also gone hard in RPM on the Friday morning. In my memory I'm sure I'm also overexaggerating how hard it was. It wasn't a bad run. It just didn't feel as good as I'd expected.

Since then Jog Squad has started again, and the first session for the year truly felt like getting the band back together. I can't describe adequately how good it felt to have the Karen/Karyns speeding away at the front, Caroline, Tanya and some of the others behind. Our first night was a simple half-hour, which again felt harder than it should have done, but the joy at being back into the old routine over-rode the feeling of exertion.

Multis has continued to be a challenge. At one point I nearly decided not to sign up again for the last round, but I knew I'd feel disappointed with myself, and I knew Duck would kick my butt. Part of my problem has been with the stress of having to lug so much gear around, part not knowing what I'm going to be confronted with each night. Swiming and cycling continue to be psychological challenges, and the bitsy effect of training multiple disciplines each night means I have felt like I haven't got a proper handle on either.

I even skipped a session one Thursday, mostly because I felt extremely tired, but partly because Duck had said she wanted me to swim out to the pontoon that night. In the end it was too choppy and I wouldn't have been able to go out anyway, but I realise I still have unfinished business and that putting it off only makes it harder.

My mission for this week was to get enough sleep and to make it through without crashing. Everything started on Saturday, with two RPM classes with Nic and Leonie. A heap of fun, and an intense workout.

We were going to do the 32km Bike the Bays route on Sunday, but Sangria the night before and the need to tidy up for an open home (Nic and Leonie's, not ours) put paid to that. So I was relatively well rested by Monday. That sensation wasn't to last long.

On Monday morning I rose early and headed off to do Duck's new lower body routine for me. Leg presses, squats, frog jumps, walking lunges, hamstring curls, jack knifes, odd things on swiss balls. Enough to wipe me out for the rest of the day. Of course the problem with getting wiped out by 8.30 in the morning is twofold. First I have to get through work, then I have to get through Jog Squad.

Monday night's task was a flat 40 minutes out along the waterfront, onto Thorndon Quay and back. I made it as far as the Lighting Plus store, and met with Sarah walking back towards us looking pained. From there it was a steady run back along Lambton Quay and up Willis, a route that by now feels comfortable in its familiarity. It wasn't as fast as it could have been, but it was faster than the last couple of outings.

I wasn't in the mood for Body Balance on Tuesday, and my quads were really sore. I couldn't understand why a flat forty minute run had killed my quads, and it wasn't until halfway through the day that I remembered the morning's weights. As a result Multis that night was unmitigated torture. I had managed to forget my togs (on a night that was flat, and on a low tide that would have made it easy to reach the pontoon), so the run was the only item on my agenda.

We ran with our backpacks around to Balaena Bay, and every stride was agony. When we got to Maidevale Rd I wanted with every ounce of my being to run back along the flat with UK Sarah, who is suffering Archilles problems. However I steeled myself for the steady climb up the side of the mountain. In the end it wasn't as bad as it could have been, and it wasn't long before we were running back down Carlton Gore and around to Freyberg.

I decided to bike back to The Terrace through town rather than along the waterfront, but with a fair amount of traffic on the road and lights at every step of the way I soon wimped out of clipping in and out of my pedals and hoofed it for the last part of the route.

I rose early again on Wednesday morning and set off to do an upper body weights routine. Chest press, chin ups, hovers, lots of cable work, and an instrument of torture commonly known as the star gaze. Shattered? Yes! Yet I somehow made it through to Jog Squad that night, where the Austin Rd route of doom was revived and made worse by tacking the sprint up Hawker Street to the monastery at the end.

I ran with Allie and thanks to an urgent need on her part we kept up a good pace. Halfway up Hawker we passed Sarah coming down the other end. Sarah admitted she'd walked near the top (you know you were going too hard), and that was it for me. I was grimly determined not to walk, even though I was gasping for dear life at the top.

We met up with Duck for the return down Courtney Place. I had one of those wonderful surges of energy that I sometimes find at the end of hill runs, and was able to sprint from Tory Street, feeling fantastic.

The run of energy died on Thursday. More intense upper body weights with Duck, and then a 15 minute sample of Look Better Naked. Shuttle runs up and down the aerobics studio, interspersed with pressups, situps, lunges, squats, frog jumps, crunches, etc. I flashed her a dirty look every time I ran past, but for something that hurt so bad it sure was fun.

I knew I would have to swim that night if it was calm, and as the day went on the doom grew. Not because I didn't think I could do it, but because when I'm physically tired the mental strength is the first thing to go. A simple swim turns into an Everest. However as we waited for Duck to arrive the wind and the chop led us to one conclusion. We were going to cycle Mt Victoria. And so it was...

Which is how, halfway up, I ended up giving a firm but calm speech about setting myself realistic challenges, turning around, and cycling back to Freyberg. My legs just wouldn't work any longer. However Duck did make the observation that I'm starting out too hard when I hill climb. She used the analogy of starting out at sprint pace for a hill run. Once she said that it all made sense. I'm not pacing myself. Somehow I got it into my head that I need to attack the hill at full speed on my bike, even though I'd never dream of doing that on foot.

Knowing that made not climbing the hill a lot easier to deal with, and I also knew I'd worked extremely hard over the last few days. It has made a huge difference, and there are muscles popping out all over my legs. They've jumped in strength just in the last couple of weeks. I'm in a completely different place to that where I was this time last year. I couldn't run a year ago. Now I'm on my way to actually officially completing a half marathon. The Shoe Clinic event - my nemesis - will be mine.

Despite the exhaustion I still got out of bed this morning and did RPM, though it was a case of turning up for the sake of it. I couldn't use much dial, I wasn't in the mood to socialise. I stuck my head down, set a grim face and got on with it. I cleared the room as soon as I could.

Unfortunately I didn't learn from that experience, and was foolish enough to think I might get some benefit from stretching out in Body Balance. Even though I took the easy options, as I told Sarah this afternoon, it wasn't so much a case of getting stuck in poses as not being able to get into them at all. My warrior poses have never been so out of alignment. I was prepared to forgive myself this little lapse into limbs of stone however. As I'd reminded myself last night - I've done rather a lot this week.

Not that it's over. I'm taking the Jog Squad girls out for a flat 40 minute run around the Bays tomorrow morning. I'd like to get a swim in afterwards. However Hamish is at home this weekend, and we really need to spend some time together before he forgets I exist. And Sunday? If I get out of bed at all it will be a miracle.

So on the one hand the running is brilliant. I was having problems with my left knee at first, but the more I run the better things get. As long as I keep my heels down the pain stays away. I can't believe how far I've come in the last year.

On the other hand I'm feeling a frustration in relation to my multis training that come directly from my own failed attempts to avoid excising the demons. I'm so close I can almost touch success. By the end of this month I WILL have swum to the pontoon, and I WILL have gotten over being terrified of my bike. Otherwise it's going to be a long, slow winter of anticipation...

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