Tuesday, May 29, 2007


The training has continued to go well. With the half marathon less than a month away I'm happy with how I'm progressing and confident that, although I may not do a fast time, if I keep my head and stick to the plan I will be able to run a steady event.

So, here's how just over a week of running looks in retrospect:

Last Monday: Feeling a little weary from the week before' s massive effort, I surrendered to the call of the duvet rather than climbing out of bed to do a weights workout. I was still tired by the time I met with the Squad for our evening's training. We started out by running at what was supposed to be an easy pace to the Westpac Stadium concourse. The speedies set a fairly cracking pace on the way there, that saw me questioning my sanity and dropping back a bit by the time we reached One Red Dog.

The intervals went ok, although my effort was rather lacklustre until I realised I was overtaking some of the faster new runners, and some of the women from the original squads who used to be faster than me. That picked up my competitive spirit somewhat, but the energy still wasn't completely there. In fact it didn't kick in until , on my way back to the gym (supposedly at an easy pace) I realised I was running with Dionne, who usually blitzes me. With dogged determination I kept up a speed that nearly killed me, but in the end reached the gym triumphant.

A good night's sleep, another late morning, a good Body Balance class, and I was feeling much more energised. I went for a quickish 35 minute run around the Bays, then followed that up with Duck's RPM class. Mindful of the next night's training, I kept the dial turned back a little more than usual until the adrenalin kicked in and I lost all sense of reason. So much for saving myself...

All the same, my measured approach to the week seemed to be paying off when I reached Wednesday night still feeling relatively fresh. We set out along the waterfront, then turned up Bowen and it was uphill all the way to Kelburn. We stopped 100 metres or so before the Viaduct, then turned around and went back to the gym via the same route.

Knowing how much of a climb we had ahead of us, I tackled the hill at a steady pace, not trying to race any of the other runners. I could hear Ale breathing at my neck the whole way up, but I tried not to let that push me! Once again, after the turn around I took the return leg at a steady pace. I wasn't in the mood to sprint the downhill. It was an invigorating run.

Duck tried to break me on Thursday morning with a hard upper body workout, but I refused to die. Amazingly, I seemed to be gathering power as the week went on. I may have mentioned from time to time that we've had some gorgeous running weather here. Winter has not yet bitten, and although the weather has been cool it has also been sunny and more often than not windless. Thursday was such a day, and I spent the whole morning hanging out to hit the pavement. I was out of the office just before 12.

The Northerly was up a little, so I had a few ideas about running up to the Botanical Gardens. Prue, one of the Jog Squad trainers, suggested I run up to Kelburn and then back through the Gardens. It would take me around 35 minutes. Seemed like a perfect plan.

So it was up Bowen again, up Glenmore again, under the Viaduct and all the way to the Kelburn shops. My legs were hurting, but my lungs weren't protesting too badly, and at no point did I need to stop. I ran through the shops, then turned into the lookout at the top of the Cable Car and loped easily down through the gardens, through the cemetery, across the bridge over the motorway, then along the trail between the Terrace and the motorway, back to the gym. All up it took me 36 and a half minutes. And did I mention the beautiful gardens, the sun, the stunning views out over the harbour? Did I mention loving this city, loving being outside, and being incredibly grateful to running for giving all of this to me? Did I mention being on a high for the next couple of days?

Friday brought a very intensive Body Balance class, which came as a breakthrough. Never have I felt so worked out in a Body Balance. Never have I felt my body making small adjustments, easing more deeply into each pose, making such progress. Even my lower back, which I had long ago given up on, finally started to show signs of some flexibility.

After such a great week of training, I sabotaged it all on Friday night. Our office broke for drinks at 4.30, and I didn't leave work until 7.30. By that time I'd had two glasses of bubbly and a glass of wine, not to mention a pile of chips, dips and salsa. I followed that up at home with a cider and a burger and fries from Burger Wisconsin. The aftermath the next morning was not pretty. I could feel the dodginess of my stomach before I even got out of bed. The squad was running 80 minutes, and given that I ran 80 minutes the weekend before I had been planning on trying to increase my speed. The lack of discipline the night before had put paid to that.

By keeping my pace steady I managed to hold back the nausea, but I know I was probably dehydrated. Thankfully it was another of those beautiful mornings, there was no wind and in fact it was rather hot. However that didn't help the nausea any! If I'd been wise I should have stopped off at Freyberg, Balaena Bay and Hataitai Beach for water. Instead I was reluctant to fall back any further from the front pack, and kept going. The speedies took off early on with me not keen to chase them, and Ale took off after them, leaving me humbled in her dust.

In the end I made it to within 100m or so of the first roundabout on Cobham Drive. I felt comfortable on the way back, and toyed with the idea of running out to Westpac Stadium and back to the gym. I took the wimping out option. Waves of nausea passed over me as I was sitting in the changing rooms after my shower, but I put my head down and toughed it out. With the blog community as my witness I will not indulge in any more Friday night binges until the half marathon is over!

The long run and the night before didn't stop me from indulging in a rare night out. Did I mention all my training has turned me into a big grandma? Hamish and I used to be right into the Wellington clubbing scene, but all of that fell by the wayside around the time the running got serious and Hamish started getting busy at work. No longer so much into the clubbing, on Saturday night Hamish and I met Ale and a friend at Mighty Mighty to hear Cassette play. It seems I'm not such a doof doof girl any more, more of an alt-country/indie rock chick.

We met up with the Southern VJ, Naomi, now not so Southern any more and living in Wellington, where I finally graduated from the Lemon, Lime and Bitters I'd been rehydrating with at Mighty Mighty, and sipped on wine in Naomi's Wellington Performing Arts Centre studio while we waited for her friends to arrive. Things got rather random from that point in, and we wound up at a party in the old Powerhouse Gym at the top of Taranaki Street. Apparently it's now a big warehouse flat, and it was filled with young drunk students from the university hostels nearby.

Things were looking rather dire, but thankfully Olmecha Supreme came on and rocked the place with their Jamaican and African inspired dubby beats. I managed to dance through the band's set, even after being kicked in the calf by one drunk lad, and slammed in the back by another who fell into me. This partying could be dangerous to my training!

All up we got to bed at around 4am, and I was rather aware of the irony that the day began in a gym and ended in a gym. I was proud of myself for having the energy to have made it through such a huge day. I even made it to Petone for a New Zealand Addison's Disease Network meeting at 1.00 on Sunday, although my 20 minute shake-out run fell by the wayside.

After my day of rest on Sunday and my moderate approach to the last week I set out on Monday morning determined to step up the pace this week. That meant getting up first thing to do a lower body session, and not dropping the leg press. I added in the extra leg extension Duck has prescribed to strengthen my quads above the knee, and felt the burn.

Remarkably, everything came together on Monday night. How to explain the feeling of being in my mind the whole way, of checking in with my body, monitoring my breath, feeling my glutes, tracking my feet as they landed, quieting the voice in my mind each time it tried to tell me to slow down? Turning around at Carlton Gore Rd and suddenly realising that it was a stunningly beautiful evening, and I hadn't even noticed?

Yes, it was a good run. Stop reading here Sarah, if you're still enduring my blather. Up Dixon Street, up those darn steps, getting left behind the front pack a little near the top, chasing them hard up the Terrace, catching them up and overtaking them on the long downhill to Bowen. Staying ahead most of the way up Molesworth, and holding my own most of the way along Thorndon Quay. It was only there that Karen moved ahead a little. We stopped briefly at the lights on the waterfront, and then it was across the road and past the ferry terminals on the way back to Te Papa.

I kept pace with Karen and the leggy blonde all the way to Frank Kitts, were I then proceeded to die a little death all the way to Chaffers. I thought I was going to have to slow down. Part of this was psychological. We were told that we were to run for an hour, and that if we made it to Te Papa within 40 minutes that we were to continue around the Bays. Well, we made it within 35 minutes, cutting several minutes off our last time. That meant another 25 minutes, and how could I sustain that speed?

Crossing the bridge into Chaffers I breathed out a stitch that was threatening. Suddenly, as we ran past Freyberg, I was experiencing a second wind and powering past Leggy Blonde. Everyone else turned around at Oriental Bay, but looking at my watch we still had another 15 minutes to run, and each time I thought I was going to slow down I could feel my glutes kicking in just that little bit more, and seemingly with little effort. I loved that last push to Carlton Gore, and I loved the push back to the gym. I made it back in around 58 minutes. All up I covered around 10.5km, and subtracting a couple of minutes for traffic lights, plus allowing for the hills, this was a huge new personal best for me. I began to imagine that I could one day sustain the pace for a whole two hours, and in doing so run a sub-2 hour half.

As I said in an email to Nic today (in relation to something completely different), it won't happen overnight, but it will happen. Might I also add that Duck's extortions to eat more may have had some substance to them. I ate a small tub of Cyclops yoghurt at around 3.00 in addition to my usual fruit, and I certainly think it fuelled my run. I've run at that speed before, but never for that sustained period of time.

I still felt ok this morning, but I didn't get up to do weights. It was too cold, too dark! Where did my willpower come from last winter? Even worse, half way through the balance track in Balance today the fire alarm went off. We spent 20 minutes shivering in bare feet in the street. Thankfully I'd brought a polyprop with me to class!

Our training schedule called for a day off today, and I didn't feel like hanging around until 6.35 for Duck's RPM class. My legs were also sore from yesterday's weights, so I also wiped out of Sharyn's 5.45 RPM class. Instead I caught a bus home. Wow - a real rest day, how novel!

Tomorrow' aim is for upper body weights before work and Jog Squad afterwards. I have a sore wisdom tooth at the moment which is causing me to wince each time I swallow, but which is not draining me enough to make me want to call in sick or miss any training. I have a dental hygenist appointment tomorrow that was scheduled before the wisdom tooth started hurting, and an appointment with my dentist to fix some decay next week. I will try to hang in there till next week and see whether he thinks it needs to come out. It's incredibly bad timing, and I really don't want to have to take time out from my training to recover from an extraction.

Persistent and consistent, that's been my training this time around. It's also been well-rounded, and I've focused both on the physical and mental aspects of this whole thing. A few more weeks and it will all be on!

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