Saturday, June 02, 2007

I will admit to possibly being a little stiff...

This has been a week of workouts that should have been horrific and yet somehow weren't. Each has left me ever more aware of how much fitter I am than the last time I trained for a half marathon. Each has left me a little more confident of running a good event in a few weeks.

On Wednesday I did, indeed, get up and do my upper body/core workout. I still find it challenging, although the Star Gazes are easier than they were and I think I could probably lift my weights a little. I still hate the pull-ups. It's too reminiscent of the kinds of exercises we were supposed to do in school phys ed!

The Squad ran to the Westpac Stadium concourse on Wednesday night, then ran intervals in a circle under spotlight. It felt pretty nasty at the time, but Duck seemed to think I looked good. I don't think I pulled out all the stops. I definitely could have gone faster.

All the same, half an hour of interval training on concrete meant that my quads were feeling it a little on Thursday morning, and they were definitely feeling it by the time Duck finished putting me through a series of lunges and squats, together with core work on the swiss ball and single-legged push ups. She tried to get me doing single legged push ups with my feet on the ball, but it was a bit beyond me at the time!

The Northerly was blowing, and work ruled out the possibility of running at lunch time. I came out of a two hour meeting at 12.30 ravenously hungry, and elected to eat rather than do my Jog Squad homework. That meant leaving work slightly early and setting out for forty minutes at a running pace. The aim was to pick a route that would spare me the worst of the gales, so it was up Molesworth, down Tinakori, along Thorndon Quay and onto Old Hutt Rd. I wasn't expecting much, given my legs had been fairly intensely worked over the last 48 hours, but to my surprise I started off at speed and managed to hold it the whole way. Running a hill early in the piece does seem to encourage my glutes to engage, and once they fire the intensity picks up without any sense of extra effort.

I ran down Old Hutt Rd, with industrial buildings on one side of me and traffic on the other, wearing my sexy Adidas running jacket and floating in a happy little bubble. By the time I was 30 minutes in I was entertaining vain thoughts about how much like a runner I looked, and the enthusiastic greeting and big smile given to me by a very athletic looking male running past me only helped stoke the ego. Later MapMyRun put my pace at around 5 and a half minutes per kilometre, which is good for me, and right on target.

Friday was a reluctant rest day. I was feeling unexplicably loose and refreshed, but meetings from 10.30am through till 4.30 meant no Body Balance, and I wasn't booked into RPM. Two rest days in one week somehow did not seem right.

I didn't quite stick to my no-alcohol Friday mantra, managing to get through 2 or 3 glasses of red wine on Friday night. I had been craving a good curry all day, so it wasn't hard to talk Hamish into ordering Indian for dinner. All the same, I thought it best to avoid anything too full of chilli, so took the very mild Palek Paneer option. Somehow the whole portion, together with rice and a garlic naan, disappeared off my plate when I wasn't looking and ended up in my stomach. I'm not quite sure what happened, but I didn't feel at all full and even ate an apple afterwards.

The Indian left me well carbo-loaded for this morning, and a heap of water left me reasonably well hydrated. This morning some of the Jog Squad girls were meeting one of the gym instructors for a two hour running workshop at the Newtown Park track. I love the track. While we were there a couple of very fit and athletic young girls (gazelles) were doing drills next to us. I had wistful thoughts about how much easier this whole running thing would be now if someone had just taken me under their wing and helped me to be active at a younger age.

Our little group of not-so-athletic women amused ourselves doing knee raises, butt-kicks and other drills using low hurdles and a speed ladder, culminating in a series of shuttle runs up and down the track. I got no real feedback other than that I needed to relax my arms and tuck them into my sides more, which explains the pain I've been getting in the right side of my back below my shoulderblade. It was a fun and instructive way to spend a couple of hours, and it was good to be able to observe some 'real' runners doing their own thing.

I now had a big decision to make. Did I want to do my 90 minute run, or did I want to wait until tomorrow? It had always been the plan to run tomorrow, but Hamish and I are going to Sandwiches tonight for a bit of a dance, and I figured I wouldn't want to do a 90 minute run after a big night out. I decided that I was feeling good enough to be able to knock off an hour and a half, so went back to my car to down a little fruit and take on some more water, before turning up Adelaide Rd and heading in the direction of Island Bay.

I deliberately chose a very easy pace, heading out at around 6 minutes per kilometre. A couple of climbs led to a very long, barely perceivable downhill to the water. The weather was sunny, the route sheltered from the wind, and I thoroughly enjoyed running towards the coast, particularly through the Island Bay shops, which boast a number of quality establishments worth a return visit.

The kilometre or so from Island Bay to Owhiro Bay were a sheer joy, with a gorgeous view out to the Strait. I was feeling extremely good, and had been running for a touch over half an hour by the time I turned right and started climbing towards Brooklyn.

A couple of weeks before the Wairarapa Country Half last December the Jog Squad ran 20k.m, including this very same climb. At the time I was running on a knee I REALLY shouldn't have been running on. I had been out dancing the night before (hence my reluctance to do the same again tomorrow), and I was in a lot of pain and mental discomfort. I fought a battle to keep running even whilst still on the flat. It was a real struggle, one that I lost on three occasions, to keep running all the way to Brooklyn.

Today I ran that 5km rise very slowly, but I felt great the whole way. In fact I could have run it faster. I'm not saying it was pleasant, because it obviously wasn't, no climb is. But the difference from October last year was marked. This was another indicator of how much fitter I am.

As the hour turned over I felt a little nausea tapping at my shoulder, but refused to acknowledge it. I was running down Brooklyn Hill, I was turning down Webb Street, I was on the home stretch. Why on earth would I possibly want to start feeling sick?

I had been planning to run across town to Cambridge Terrace and back to Newtown via the Basin, but when I came out of Webb onto Taranaki I realised I was South of the bypass, and would have to turn back towards the city if I wanted to head towards the Basin. So instead I continued up Taranaki Street and over the rolling hills of Wallace. I think my body hated me at that point, and the ascents were horridly slow, but I got through them without walking. I resented having to stop at the lights on John Street to get into Riddiford, which wasted a few minutes, but then it was off again, past the hospital, dodging people coming out of the Newtown shops, and then finally up another incline and back to my car. I walked around for a few minutes getting my breath back, stretched, then rugged up and went off to do the grocery shopping. Groceries away I ate a Mrs Macs Beef, Cheese and Bacon pie (what else), and then finally I felt ready to get in the shower and freshen up.

So I did it. Horrifically slowly at 1 hour 37 minutes. However if I can run for that length of time with a third of the route involving hill climbs, given a flat course I should be able to run faster, and I'm confident I have enough juice in my to keep going for 2 hours. Right now I'm a little stiff, which is probably the effect of doing a long run on top of a heap of running drills. But, I'm sorry, how fit am I????? I'm chuffed with what I managed to do today.

Tomorrow there's a 20 minute run on the cards, and I might try to combine it with Balance, because this week's been remarkably short of yoga. Then I'm doing a 3.00 Body Vive class at the Terrace on Monday, and meeting the squad for interval training at 5 at Xtreme.

Once more now for vanity... how fit AM I?!?!

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