Monday, June 30, 2008

Smoke, Smoking ...


Brilliant run tonight. When Sarah told me she and a few former Jog Squadders were meeting at Extreme for a run after work I jumped at the chance to run with a group. I hadn't counted on the group consisting of some of the speediest runners. I fully expected to get left in their dust, particularly when the woman in charge elected to run along the waterfront, up Tinakori Rd, down Bowen, then up and over the Terrace. Needless to say her chosen route was a little more challenging than I'd been contemplating!

Luckily, after two days of sloth I had fresh legs. We set off at a cracking pace which I was certain I wouldn't be able to maintain. By the train station I was warning that I might back off. At the bottom of Tinakori however I was still there and was, unexpectedly, feeling great. I was sure I would drop off up Tinakori, but at Bowen I was, once again, still there. We raced down Bowen and then turned up the Terrace. By the time we reached the lights at the intersection with Salamanca I was a few short metres behind, but once we started downhill I was on pace again. I was almost disappointed when we headed down the Dixon Street steps.

I decided to hoof it a bit back to the gym and sprinted quickly but comfortably down Dixon Street then slow recovery-jogged down Taranaki to the entrance of the gym. I guess Sarah was right. I seem to be a little faster than I used to be. I wish I'd worn my Garmin!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cold, Whimper ...

It is horrific here! Winds of up to 140kmph are roaring in from the South. The Link air service was cancelled after two people got blown over walking from their aircraft to the terminal. The ferry services are cancelled. It is 10 degrees in the hallway and the rain is pouring down outside. Normally when it's this cold I would go to the gym to get warm, but right now even the thought of stepping outside the front door and walking up to the car seems like a cruel form of punishment. So instead I'm watching triathlon on television and thinking.

It's always like this at this time of year. Last year it was Ironman Wisconsin. This year it's Coure de Alene. Ironman race reports make me cry. Add to that my conversations with Dave during our run on Friday and ...

Put me on a bike. Get me off the bike and into a pair of running shoes. I could totally rock a half-Iron. I know that. Train for it and it will happen. So why aren't I out there doing it? I've let myself down by failing to tackle the swim. I let my demons get in the way of the water. I'm going to be so disappointed in myself if I let another summer season go by without a swim out to the pontoon, if I don't get to the point of being able to swim laps of Freyberg. So where should I really be this afternoon? In the pool doing drill. In the spa warming up again.

I've been saying that the next few months are all going to be about the bike, but in reality they can't just be about the bike. Once Taupo's over I'll be kicking myself if I'm not ready for at least a sprint triathlon. Get in the pool Pip! Swimming will be great crosstraining, and the Gearshifters rides even finish at Freyberg, so there's really no excuse.

In other news - I'm fitting in one more half marathon before Gearshifters. There's a flat, fast race around Palmerston North in mid-August. I've also decided to wait a little bit longer before buying a bike. That EMC2 will be there in a couple of months.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Recovery Week

Well, I did at least allow myself a 'recovery day' after the Harbour Capital half. The rest of my week hasn't exactly been a holiday, but it's been nice to mix things up a bit. On Wednesday my workmate, M, an Impact instructor at Les Mills, picked me up from the end of my street at 6.30am and took me off to the gym. He helped me glove up and then it was straight into some work with the pads. It was hard but incredibly fun and I had to think far too much for that time of the morning. What, you want me to move around in circles around you, you expect me to be able to respond appropriately when you yell out 'jab, hook, uppercut or cross, AND you expect me to be able to count? All before 7am?

As I continually failed to throw the correct punch, paused to make sure I was doing the right thing, failed to move in close enough or get out of the way in time, I kept apologising. Every time I apologised I would get thumped. Did I mention this guy's probably the size of Sylvester Stallone? Just when I thought it was difficult enough to have him screaming 'faster' or 'harder' at me every other second, we then moved into a combo that involved me having to duck under his swinging arm. Trust me, when there's a huge tree trunk aiming straight at your head you want to be able to drop, quickly!

In between the work with the pads we did some bench press, some core work and a few pull-ups. Afterwards M commented that my strength was quite good but that I wasn't as co-ordinated as he'd expected and my balance wasn't that great. Of course he doesn't know my whole 'sickly child, not allowed to be very active, in and out of hospital most of my life' history, so he has every right to be surprised. However being told that I wasn't that good at something was a bit of a red flag to my bullish nature. You wait - I'm going to be the fastest, meanest boxing pupil he's ever had. Of course it didn't help that he compared me unfavourably to one of my team-members. Talking to her afterwards she pointed out that she did Karate for four years, so the comparison was hardly fair!

I was really keen to run that day but I was too busy at lunchtime and by the time work was over it was freezing cold and dark. Gale-force winds were blowing sheets of rain across the Tinakori hills. Given that I was no longer training for anything specific I reasoned that running in that kind of weather would consititute a kind of punishment. Instead I struggled my way to H's office for a glass of wine.

Thursday morning saw the storm blown out. I put in a hard half an hour on an exercycle before doing more rope work with Duck. My strength is increasing quickly and I can already see the added definition in my arms. We also did a few reps of walking lunges, box squats, single leg squats and leg press, which led to my glutes and quads not liking me very much today.

I wasn't able to run on Thursday night either, choosing instead to attend H's office's wine and cheese night. I did, however, have a run planned with the Weekday Runners (as I'm going to refer to Emma and Dave's lunchtime runs from now on). A small hardy group of us set off from the Terrace. Dave, J and I all agreed that we were keen on a very short, slow run. Poor Dave's legs were still recovering from the marathon and mine were recovering from Duck. We picked up another runner at Freyberg, by which point we were nearly ready to turn round and head back to the gym. Instead we continued to run around the Bays for a distance. Past the point and we were carried by a gale Northerly the whole way to Balaena Bay, where we agreed it would be more pleasant to run back via Maida Vale. A hill was preferable to that wind!

I was feeling surprised by how good I was feeling. My quads were sore but weren't really stopping me from putting in some effort and I was holding a good pace. J held back with the girl we'd picked up at Freyberg, but I couldn't bring myself to slow so Dave and I ran out together, chatting about triathlon and learning to swim. I told him that I may be tapping him on the shoulder for a programme if I started to run out of ideas once Duck has gone.

Back round to Te Papa and we hit the worst of the Northerly. I'm so glad it wasn't that bad on Sunday. Running against that wind would have been soul destroying. J and I ran all the way back to the Terrace together. I even made a point of running under the Terrace and up the steps at the end of the tunnel. Back at the gym I stopped and chatted to M as the sweat dripped off my face. I must have looked an absolute sight. I'd left my running tights at home so was wearing a daggy pair of old baggy trackies, and I was wearing a polyprop under my old Jog Squad t-shirt. As a result I was feeling very overheated. I hadn't counted on the sun coming out halfway through our run. In the end I could no longer stand the sweat running down my chest to escaped to the showers.

All up it was a surprisingly pacey and good run given it was the first post-race run, and around 7km with a hill was a bit more than I'd been planning. My quads have totally locked up this afternoon though and I've been hobbling around the office. I want to get up in the morning and run for at least an hour but I don't have anything firm planned and the weather's not that great. Not having a firm plan for my run means I'm highly likely to simply roll over and stay in bed. I have a date with some kittens in Titahi Bay at 11 so I can't meet up with the Gearshifters types for a ride. I am, however, contemplating the 90 minute RPM on Sunday. Given that it starts at 7.30am I'm even MORE likely to roll over and stay in bed tomorrow morning. I need at least one lie-in each weekend or I start to go a little insane. Of course I can run tomorrow afternoon instead. It will all depend on how motivated I feel and how sore I am. A rest day probably won't hurt me, and I can always long-run on Monday night instead.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Harbour Capital Half: A few more thoughts

Well, the shoes have dried off now and I'd like to mull over my race once more. I'll try to keep this short!

It seems funny to think now that only a few years ago this whole race thing used to completely terrify me. I was intimidated by all the 'real' runners, struck down by a sense of duty to achieve some self-imposed goal. These days I enter at the last moment. I sleep well the night before, and my pre-race nerves have finally been conquered by a well-rehearsed routine and honed sense of self-awareness.

So it was this year. I went out to dinner at a friend's the night before. A highly spicy Thai curry with lots of coconut cream would not have been my choice of pre-race fuel. At least I stuck to orange juice and water! I went to bed early, but not excessively so. I slept well and woke half an hour before my alarm, lying in bed until it went off. As always I listened to the news. I got up and, as I always do, I dressed in the clothing I had left out the night before. I went through my usual preparation, including a warm porridge breakfast. My stomach felt a little queasy, but nothing too major. I put on my timing chip and race number, added my usual pre-race layers for warmth.

The weather forecast had been pretty grim. It was supposed to be wet, cold and blowing a gale. At 7a.m. the sky was black, bar a red sunrise over the mountains to the East. My first thought after getting out of bed was that it was remarkably warm. I had been considering turning on the central heating and getting in the shower if it had been really cold, but ended up not feeling the need.

After breakfast I got a few minutes down the road before realising I'd left my Hydrocortisone behind, so I quickly turned around and raced back down our steps to grab it. That also enabled me to pick up the face-plate of our car stereo off the kitchen table. It started raining as I was driving into town. Now that it was light the wind was picking up as well and the weather was looking distinctly unpromising.

The queue to get into the stadium carpark was shorter this year, but it was difficult to find a park once I was in there. It was really starting to rain by the time I made it under the cover of the stadium concourse. It was packed full of runners togged up in thermals and various rain jackets. I had elected not to wear a thermal but had donned my grey and orange Adidas windbreaker, thinking that it would be good to keep the rain off my arms. Underneath I wore a short-sleeved black technical t-shirt.

I had been thinking about doing a few warm-up exercises, but with noone keen to move outside there wasn't really any room. It took forever to locate the two hour pace runner and I never managed to find Sarah or any of the other Les Mills runnners. Everyone waited until the last possible moment before moving outside.

Finally we were waiting near the starting line. I had already decided that I wasn't going to worry about pushing for two hours. I didn't feel that the conditions were right and I wasn't feeling in the mood to fight for it. However once the race started things changed. The start was horrifically congested, even worse than last year. There were the usual walkers being shoved from side to side as they were passed by hundreds of runners.

I had harboured vague ideas about sticking with the pace runner, but he was running way too slowly. I checked my Garmin to make sure I wasn't racing off too fast, but was happy that I was sticking to my goal 5.30 to 5.40 pace so left him behind. I knew that I would quickly be able to feel whether I was going to run strong or not. By the time we were running along the Quay I already knew this was going to be one of my better days. I started to think about aiming for two hours again.

Within minutes I spotted Sarah running in the crowd ahead of me. I considered whether I should try to catch up and run with her, but I fully expected her to take off so decided I would just aim to keep her in my sights. I didn't want the pressure of trying to keep up with anyone else. I stayed about ten metres or so behind her all the way around the waterfront.

In one of my blog-posts in the lead-up to this race I reminded myself that I would probably feel nasty at around the five to seven kilometre mark and that when that happened I would just have to push through. I expected to get the stitch at around the twenty minute mark. Well, neither of those two events came to pass. I felt strong the whole way to the turn-around, and the stitch never eventuated. It seemed that just knowing I could run through a rough patch helped me to avoid the rough patch all together.

I was slowly creeping closer to Sarah but was content to remain anonymous. My cover was blown however at Freyberg, where Duck and co cheered the both of us on. Darn! I drew level and stuck more or less just behind her shoulder all the way to Miramar. I felt a bit guilty. It must have been annoying to have a shadow. I wasn't intentionally sitting in that exact spot, it just happened to be were I ended up.

I also feel a bit guilty about my rant about runners not paying attention. To be honest, I was a real idiot and managed to spectacularly demonstrate my own lack of attention. Wellington runners will know that, around Pt Jerningham, there is a low white post-and-rail fence separating the footpath from the road. Well, I was so distracted by my Garmin that I managed to run right into the end of it. Smack, bang, ouch! True to form I never even paused to dust myself off. I reassured everyone that I was fine and kept on running, ignoring the pain in my quad.

The rest of the first split is a bit of a blur. I do remember being passed at a rapid pace by the two hour pacer. The woman next to me and I checked our wrists. We commented that, having started out too slow, he now seemed to be running waaayyyy too quickly. There was a small pack of green-banded runners trailing in his wake.

I'd skipped the water stop at the 5km mark but thought a little Peak Fuel at the 8km might give me a little boost. I made myself run through the drink stop, sipping as I went. My memories of this part of the race are a little hazy. I remember thinking I'd gotten here rather quickly. I remember there being a lot of water on the footpath and I remember there being a nasty headwind on the approach to the Miramar cutting. I remember seeing the guy who ran in a suit and thinking that he looked like he was having some chaffing issues. I was a little frustrated to note that I'd hit the turnaround in almost exactly the same time as last year. I was less than a minute off pace, but I knew I'd be running into a headwind on the return and that I would probably tire over the last few kilometres. I knew it would be a push to hit two hours.

In what felt like no time at all I was back at the drink stop - eight kilometres to go. I drank a little more Peak Fuel. Now the headwind was having a bit of an impact. I was slowing and my aim switched to trying to surge through the wind then pick it back up to goal pace or less in the shelter. It was a tough strategy. Psychologically however, this was not a particularly difficult part of the race. Never has 21 kilomtres felt like such a short distance. Familiarity can sometimes be a good thing and being able to check off each landmark made a huge difference to my morale. It was also a lot of fun to be able to run along the edge of the road rather than on the curb.

At this point I would, again, like to acknowledge the many, many people who cheered me on during the race. I'm embarrassed to say that I missed seeing most of you until you called out to me. Don't take that personally. I was in my own little headspace! It was fantastic, however, to have Les Mills staff out on the course. I was thrilled to have Duck and co cheering me on again at Freyberg. I had overtaken Sarah not long after the half-way mark and was happy to be able to point that fact out (sorry Sarah). However I was also glad to have her behind me because I was convinced she was breathing down my neck and about to fly past at any moment. Every now and then I would take a quick glance backwards to check for a speedy smurf. She kept me moving!

As previously noted, my longest training runs have been 15km long, and I've only been running at most three times a week thanks to a dodgy ankle. I fully expected that this would come back to haunt me over the last six kilometres, and to a certain extent it did. I was a little slower than I would have liked and my legs were hurting a bit. I was trying to stick to a pace that would enable me to make two hours, but it was getting harder.

Around Te Papa and past the two kilometre marker. A guy next to me turned to his buddy and said "come on, we can still do under two hours if we pick up the pace". He took off, leaving his friend behind. Duck's advise to me had been to push it for the last five kilometres. I was trying - hard. Before the race I'd been nervous about pushing it with over 25 minutes to go, for fear of crashing and burning (or vomiting). Now I was giving it as much gas as I could. With that two kilometres to go I checked my own wrist and saw that I would have to run at a five minute pace to get there. Oh dear, I wanted it so badly but it was soooo not happening.

I wondered whether I could make 2.02. I remembered reaching Queens Wharf Events Centre last year and being thrilled to be nearly finished. This year there seemed to be almost no distance between the Centre and the Stadium. Suddenly I was there. I wanted to run strongly up that damn ramp, but it just wasn't happening. I remember last year putting on a spurt down the concourse to make it to the finish in under 2.08. This year there was a spurt to get under 2.04. I made it, just.

I hadn't really been feeling nauseaus when I was running, but I got hit with a big wave once I stopped. I had to hold onto the fence and bend over for a couple of minutes. My quads cramped up immediately. I shuffled into the stadium and smiled at a random volunteer, who rewarded me with a spot prize voucher. I was feeling too queasy to contemplate any more Peak Fuel, but I thought I should try some water. Unfortunately the water tasted badly of plastic so most of it got binned.

I spotted Sarah in the queue behind me as I was picking up my goodie bag. I picked up my spot prize then walked back to meet her. We chatted while she picked up her bags. I'd slipped my wind parker off my shoulders at Oriental Bay on the return leg, because I was starting to get a bit warm. Now though I was starting to feel as wet as I was, and rather cold. I ducked down to my car (walking sideways down the stairs), threw on some warm clothes, and then we limped off to Les Mills for a much-needed shower and stretch.

Never has a shower felt soooo good. So hot, so powerful. Afterwards, changed and waiting for Sarah, I started feeling very cold and shaky. I'd had a Replace drink, but it wasn't enough. Another running friend and half-marathon finisher, Jo, practically forced me to eat a couple of her gummy lollies. Within seconds I was feeling warm and recovered. I suspect my blood sugars were bottoming out. The same thing happened to me after the Grape Ride. I don't think it was low cortisol (I'd doubled my usual morning dose). After the lollies and a Subway chicken fillet sub I felt fine.

After the walk back to the stadium for prize giving it occured to me that it wasn't my quads that were sore as such, it was my quad. Specifically it was my right quad, exactly where a huge red and black bruise was now forming. The next day I continued to feel very sore where my leg had impacted with the fence, but the rest of my quads felt fine. By this morning my right ankle and the bottom of my left hamstring were a bit niggly. Otherwise, I've been very pleased with my recovery. I would have run a short recovery run yesterday had it not been for the atrocious weather and a deliberate decision to leave my running gear at home.

In summary then, I expected to know within minutes whether I'd have a race on my hands, and I did. I knew I could make it to the turn-around at my goal pace or less, and I pretty-much did. I theorised that a little energy-drink would help give me a boost, and I'm fairly certain it did. I expected to slow down on the return leg, and I did. I expected to start to crash a bit after an hour and a half, and I did. In retrospect, some jelly-beans or similar would have been good here. I knew that if I could cut down on last year's positive split I would pretty much be guaranteed of a PB. I managed to cut four minutes off last year's return leg, and that was how I achieved the PB. As mentioned earlier, the first 10.5km were run at almost the exact same pace as last year.

In conclusion then, I know I am definitely capable of going sub-two hours. A little more training (including a few more long runs and some speed-work), and slightly more favourable conditions and I'd be targeting 1.55. One day I might even be as fast as my mother-in-law! A quick look at the results today showed me as finishing 49th out of 99 women in my age group. So my place as a mid-pack runner has been firmly cemented. Given that I've spent my whole life finishing last I'll settle for top 50! As life returns to normal this race is doing a lot to boost my confidence in my own abilities.

This morning I got up and did Dee's 6a.m. RPM class. My legs felt ok, though I didn't push the dial too hard. In fact, they felt rather strong. A lunchtime Body Balance was a little more telling though. My hips were very tight and sore and this seemed to lead to a weakness through my core in the ab track and a general decline in my balance poses. It was good to be able to stretch out though.

In the morning I'm getting up early to work out with a colleague, Murray. He teaches Impact at Les Mills, so I know I'm in for some kind of boxing training. I'm looking forward to it. He's intrigued with my reputed pull-up and push-up capabilities, so they may also both be tested. I'm meeting some of my Les Mills running buddies for lunch and I may try to run tomorrow night. I feel quite ridiculously full of energy and I think the race may have led to a little surge in my fitness levels which I'm keen to capitialise on.

Gearshifters starts again on 1 September, at which point it will all be about the bike again. For the next couple of months I want to really push my leg weights to maximise my leg strength. Once I start riding I'll have to ease off again. There are a couple of half marathon options in August, both on fairly flat, fast courses.

Speaking of bikes though, this little darling is currently sitting in Penny Farthings, on sale for just over $1400. How badly do I want her? Oh Lola, I'm ashamed to admit I'd leave behind your big-boned, arthritic Sora componentry behind for this extremely light-weight little baby. Give me some carbon-forked niceness and a little female-specificity! How tragic is it that I lust over a narrow pair of handle-bars and a padded saddle? Plus how sexy is that cream and gold colour scheme? And how cool is it to have a 'genius' bike? I want my bike to have a high IQ ...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Flickr Meme

1. Digging Time, 2. risotto with peas and fava beans, 3. Henderson Waves Bridge, 4. The single best portrait tip ..., 5. duck to duck to duck..., 6. Margarita morada, 7. Nepal India 2005, 8. Raspberry - Swirl Cheesecake, 9. The Earth is God's Canvas., 10. self-discovery, 11. feeling the test of time, 12. Edge 540

Stolen lovingly from Leonie.

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

The Questions:

  1. What is your first name?
  2. What is your favorite food?
  3. What high school did you go to?
  4. What is your favorite color?
  5. Who is your celebrity crush?
  6. Favorite drink?
  7. Dream vacation?
  8. Favorite dessert?
  9. What you want to be when you grow up?
  10. What do you love most in life?
  11. One word to describe you.
  12. Your Flickr name
My answers:

  1. Phillipa
  2. Risotto
  3. Henderson High
  4. Maroon
  5. Brad Pitt (Well, at least he used to be. I don't really have a current crush as such)
  6. Margarita
  7. Indian Pilgramage
  8. Cheesecake
  9. Happy
  10. Self-discovery
  11. Persistent
  12. Pip DG
Can I just add that this was incredibly fun, but that it was soooo hard to choose just one photo for each answer? Can I play again please?

Read Write Poem: Telling Stories

Another Read Write Poem piece. I'm still a week behind, prompt-wise. This is my response to prompt #31. This prompt is a story about telling a story. I have in mind a poem I would like to rework, so may try that tomorrow so that I can also post a response to prompt #32 this week.

He once claimed
to have looked after
a troupe of elephants
in a circus.

Afterwards we were never
sure whether this was a
flight of fancy but
we couldn’t put it
past him.

Our father was the
type of man you could
imagine standing on a
bed of straw, one hand
extended holding peanuts
awaiting a long grey
trunk’s caress.

He was a man who
cared more for intention
than for size. Scale did
not impress him as
much as compassion
and an open mind.

The elephant, an
animal with both a
long memory and a
sense of loyalty
would have appealed
to his nature.

We liked to think of
him, not riding atop
the beast’s great shoulders,
but leading him gently
to a river to drink.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Drawn in

To this meme on Sarah's blog!

Your result for The Which Lolcat Are You? Test...

SurpriseAdoption Cat

44% Affectionate, 71% Excitable, 27% Hungry

Calloused. Heartless. Exuberant. You carry the heavy burden of informing children that they are adopted by jumping out of their birthday cake. A difficult task, but somebody must break the news to children on their only day of happiness.

To see all possible results, checka dis.

Take The Which Lolcat Are You? Test at HelloQuizzy


Well, I wanted two hours and I got two hours, three minutes. Still a personal best by four minutes. I'm happy. I honestly could not have given anything more today. I was on track and feeling strong for the first thirteen kilometres. The headwind on the return hit me as I knew it would and the last six kilometres hurt a bit. That's what you get when you've only been running a couple of times a week and your longest run has been 15km! With a bit more training and a few longer runs my pace wouldn't have dropped off so badly and I would have been able to make it under two hours easily. Shall we aim for 1.55? Yes, lets ...

Next year can we please not have young children stopping in the middle of the path or falling in front of me, women deciding they have to tie a shoelace RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, and women who decide they need to use the toilet all of a sudden, totally cutting me off as they lurch from right to left. Although I wasn't as irate as the guy seen at the start shoving people aside, or the guy later heard telling people to get the f**k out of the way, I was a little vocal on the numerous occasions I found myself making physical contact with people who just weren't paying attention.

Enough of the negative stuff though. I had a blast today, despite the wind and rain. It was actually warm! It helped that I heard my name being cheered what seemed like every few minutes. Sorry if I didn't see you, but I was in my little head space and wasn't really noticing spectators. Sorry too to Sarah, who was an excellent pacer for the first half of the race. I felt a bit horrible about breathing down her neck. She didn't know I was there until Duck started cheering the both of us outside Freyberg, but then I got close enough that she could hear my slappy feet behind her.

I didn't win an iPod shuffle or a trip to London, but I did win a spot-prize of a pair of Adidas socks. That must be about $30 worth. I think it helps to smile at the people handing out the prize tickets! Last year I won a Runner's World subscription.

Right. I really should have a go at scrubbing off the pace times I wrote on my wrist this morning in permanent marker. It seemed like such a good idea at the time ...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Farewell Drinks

Duck's farewell drinks at the Lanes last night. I still suck at bowls, but it turns out I'm not the only one!

The forecast for tomorrow is still looking hasty. There's a cold front on its way up the country. I'm off now to pick up a new pair of socks and some fuel.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Good and the Ugly

The good:

  • Seven and a half lunchtime kilometres yesterday around the waterfront on a gorgeous Wellington winter day. I ran Garmin-free and used the distance markers to monitor my progress. I have no idea how fast I was going but I know I felt strong. The biggest hurdle on Sunday will be mentally forcing myself to keep pushing for three times as long. I know I'm likely to start to feel a little bit nasty within the first five kilometres. Tough. The problem's mental, not physical. Keep pushing and it will get better within the next couple of kilometres. If it never starts feeling bad then I want to go hard. I don't want to have any reasons for regret.
  • Feeling like half of Wellington is running Sunday's race, and being excited about having so many friends out there on the course.
  • Duck yanking me off an exercycle this morning and forcing me to go downstairs and take part in the Les Mills wall sit competition. Uh, I ran yesterday and I'd just spent half an hour on a bike and I'm running a race on Sunday. My personal trainer was crazy! Duck, however, insisted and I was dragged down to reception, where a little audience of gym staff amused themselves watching me. The leader had managed to hold a wall sit for seven and a half minutes, the second place holder had sat for seven. There was no way I was beating either of those times! One minute into my sit, however, it was announced that I would win a bottle of wine if I made it to five minutes. The wine was pulled from under reception and placed in front of me. Right then, five minutes it was! Chatting to Duck got me through the first two minutes. From four minutes my legs started shaking. Talking helped. Breathing helped. However by five minutes the pain was intense to say the least. The third-place holder sat for 5.06. Duck counted me to 5.10, and I officially threw in the towel at 5.13. The wine, and third place, were mine. I'm going back next week to break six minutes! Thankfully, although I could barely walk up the stairs back to the gym floor, my quads freed up completely after a copule of good strong quad stretches. Amazing!
  • Doing so many pull-ups and one-legged push-ups that I lost count. Doing pull-ups suspended with my body parallel to the floor (legs on a bar), definitely a test of faith in my body-strength. Pulling myself up from the floor into a pull-up without jumping to help myself? Gratifying!
  • Getting my hair cut for the first time in months and months. It was shoulder-length, it's now back to chin-length. Plus I have a fringe! Well, kinda. After months of frizz my hair now looks so shiny and thick. The shampoo was miraculous and I even look like I have highlights now. I'm not sure why I ever left my hairdresser to go elsewhere. Oh yes, the cost.
The Ugly:
  • The forecast for Sunday is for showers and strong winds, gale-force at times. Gaaahhhhhhh!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Just for a change - Poetry!

Photo courtesy of B29 Flickr group

While You Sleep
Awake the lines
on your face suggest
wear like paint
on the side of our
villa where sea spray
carried on Southerlies
has ground clear
through to the
harder beauty of
Kauri underneath.
Asleep there is
something soft, an
easing akin to the
sun that shone
when we were
young, the dreams
and hopes that were
then still warm and
fresh and as charming
as they were naïve.
And yet I love the
both of you. I
would not want to
repair the past
nor attempt to
paint over the future.
You are day and
night and I savour
the dawn and the
twilight of you

In response to a Read Write Poem prompt that took a little while to take hold.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shut up and run!

I was hating today's run. After lying in bed all morning, eating a big breakfast of buckwheat blueberry pancakes with chicken bacon, drinking a cider, walking to the dairy to buy a paper, reading the paper .... I had accomplished nothing and managed to convince myself I was feeling too lazy for a run and that I would settle for RPM instead.

Thank heavens for Hamish and a suggestion that we head over to Soundline for a movie night, meaning I wouldn't have time for RPM. I was left with no option. Run, or spend the rest of the week cursing my laziness.

It was a surprisingly warm day but there was a reasonably strong Northerly blowing. I set off down Farnham Street with no real aim other than to run for 15km. I wasn't interested in my speed in the slightest. I had to quickly stop in Berhampore for a bathroom break (in retrospect the cider was a bad idea), then again in Island Bay to tie a shoelace (these new Adidas laces seem a bit dodgy, even when double-knotted). I wasn't feeling terribly energised, but I wasn't feeling like I was going to collapse either. My main issue was that I simply didn't want to be running. I wanted to be curled up in bed reading. I was just feeling overwhelmingly lazy and whiney.

At some point I got fed up with myself, probably around the time I got to the shops in Island Bay. The Southern Coast was lovely. I wondered, as always, why every runner I came across was plugged into an iPod. I just can't run to music - it messes with my headspace and blocks out the world. I run partly because I enoy being outside. Why shut that out? I realise that just a few sentences earlier I was complaining about having to listen to myself, but I'd rather listen to myself and the birds singing than rely on music to get me through. I do love music, ust not when I run.

I was really envying the cyclists as I headed up Happy Valley. Lola will have to wait until after the half marathon. However about a third of the way up the valley I suddenly started feeling a lot better. My Garmin was showing that it was right on 40 minutes. I was warmed up on schedule. By the time I got to the top of the hill I was running faster than I had been at the bottom. My speed kept increasing the whole way up and I think it was the fastest I've ever run to Brooklyn.

At Brooklyn I ran all the way to the bus stop at the top, then turned back and hung a left at the gas station to run up Mornington Rd to home. I got overtaken by a young blonde gazelle who left me in her wake and toyed with the idea of trying to catch her, then thought better of it. At the top I still had nearly three kilometres left to run if I wanted to make 15. Have I ever mentioned that my neighbourhood is NOT flat? If you're not running up or down a big steep hill your only other option is constant undulation. So that's what I ran for the next three kilometres. In my mind the commentary switched to "&*%^# hill, another &%$# hill". I ran back and forth, down little side streets, up hills, down hills. To my legs' credit though, they kept up a good, strong steady pace through every short sharp little incline. They did everything I asked them to do, even run up and down my flat little street a few times to get to 15km (or, actually, 15.08km), in just a tiny little bit over 90 minutes.

The best bit was the wind dying away somewhere along the way. Running up and down the Ridgeway I had a perfect view of the sun turning the Eastern mountains pink, the still silvery blue harbour, the rows of small wooden houses. Wellington was putting on a show. From feeling so grumpy at the start of the run, to having a power surge halfway up Happy Valley, to thoroughly enjoying myself - I spent the last few kilometres thanking myself for getting off the sofa and getting out there. I felt glad to be out on such a beautiful evening, feeling so fit and strong and having such a great run.

I'm totally happy with today's effort. I know I can run faster and I know I can run another six kilometres. I just have to rest up a bit this week to make sure my legs feel good on Sunday, and hope that the Wellington wind taniwha are on my side. I will also have to remember not to panic if the first few kilometres don't feel that great. Right around 40 minutes everything should hopefully start to feel just fine.

The rest of the week hasn't been so bad either. I ran a five kilometre recovery run on Wednesday, then did Duck's RPM class on Thursday night. On Friday we met up for a PT session. Duck got out the 'ropes' - literally a pair of ropes with handles on the ends. We hung them from the ceiling then I did a series of moves that turned my upper body to jelly. By the time we left the ropes behind everything was shaking and I was feeling like a total weakling. This was despite the other trainers advising me that they felt the same way after their first time with 'the ropes'. The last thing Duck had me do was to max out on press-ups. She crouched next to me screaming at me to get lower until, after the twelth, I collapsed and couldn't get back up again. I lay there for a while with my face planted in the carpet, then sort of rolled over onto my side and shuffled myself upright.

After a particularly intense set of tricep moves with the ropes Duck had warned me I'd have the sorest triceps ever. As I went through the day unable to lift my arms I was sure she'd be right. Sure enough, I've been pretty sore. Not the most sore I've ever been, but certainly more sore than I've been in a while. It's all good though. My only regret is that I won't have much of a chance to play with the ropes before Duck takes off for the UK.

I'm in denial about Duck's imminent departure. I'm sure I can do this stuff on my own, but I'm going to miss our weekly sessions. I'm going to miss them a lot.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I hurt! I haven't been so sore in a long time. I guess a weights workout in the a.m. followed by a hard fast 10km may have just been too much yesterday. Either that or I'm simply overdue for my B12 shot (which I am). Whatever the reason, I spent today hobbling stiff-legged around the office.

Apart from the standard quad, hamstring and glute stiffness I've developed an interesting pain halfway up my left calf. Not sure what that's about. Last night it was sore to the touch, today less so. It didn't hurt at all during RPM tonight. I'm hoping I haven't done any lasting damage, but there was no way I was missing the class. It was one of my favourte instructor's last before she leaves for the UK. She started teaching two and a half years ago, around the time I became a gym junkie, and she has always been incredibly supportive of my progress. It was lovely to be there for one last workout. She played her favourite songs so loudly the stereo distorted, and a number of her workmates came along for the ride. It was a lot of fun.

I'm still going to run tomorrow, but if the calf is still sore I'll stick to the flat and keep it easy. I've got a session with Duck Thursday morning and one of her last RPM classes at 5.45.

Right, off to bed to read. It's cold here and the cider I drank over dinner has left me quite squiffy.

Monday, June 09, 2008

How Bad Do You Want It?

I ran 10km tonight, from the Meridian building to Greta Point and back. I had no real time goals when I set out. I knew how bad my legs felt on Saturday and I'd done RPM on Sunday and a weights workout this morning, so I had no reason to think they'd be any better today.

Today though I was hydrated. Today I'd eaten properly. Today my mind actually decided to turn up and play nicely. So it wasn't too hard to stick below my 5.40 goal pace as I ran out past Oriental Bay on a gorgeous, calm crisp night.

It wasn't until I was on the way back that I got a little bull-headed. I was picking off runner after runner. I was feeling strong and my heartrate was even. My Garmin was whispering lovely negative split tales into my wrist. I was certainly feeling the exertion but the pain levels were well within bearable limits. I started to push. I ran the last two kilometres at a 5km pace or under. I got back to Meridian in an outbreath over 55 minutes.

If I'd had fresh legs, if I'd pushed harder ... I know I could have cut that down to 52. I'll work on that. However, I had a more pressing question. I went home, fired up my iBook and Googled "Parrot Predictor".

If my legs cooperate on the day, if my head cooperates, if my glutes cooperate, if my ankle and sacro illeac cooperate, if my stomach cooperates .....

My parrot predictor friend suggests it may just be possible for me to run the Harbour Capital half in two hours.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yes officer

I discovered today that sometimes it can be a bad thing to have a car that looks like everyone else's. I got pulled over on Willis Street on the way to the gym by a police officer who was after a guy in a red Honda Civic talking on a cell phone. Thankfully he admitted he had the wrong car and I was allowed to go on my lawful way.

By the time I got to the gym after all of that I only had half an hour to fit a run in before Balance. It never fails to amaze me how I can have a brilliant, strong and powerful run one day and then absolutely die the next time I head out. My legs were just smashed today. I suspect I was also dehydrated, but what ever the reason I ended up plodding very slowly up Molesworth and around Thorndon Quay and the waterfront.

There was a very strong Northerly blowing that made life interesting, but I'm not going to use that as an excuse. There was just nothing in the tank. At least running so slowly gave me plenty of space to monitor my technique I guess. It was a relief to get back to Balance.

I've been feeling very tired all day, so I'm going easy on myself. No 7.15a.m. RPM for me then. Besides, if the weather turns as nasty as it's supposed to (snow on the Rimutakas overnight) I won't want to be crawling out of bed at 6a.m. I think I'll stick to the 4.30 RPM instead, and possibly a weights workout beforehand.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


My ankle ached a little when I first got up, then improved as the day went on.
My body surprised me by not really being sore at all after last night's run.
I did half an hour on an exercise bike. I lifted weights. I did 24 full pull ups (over three sets) and 30 assisted pull ups (also over three sets). I did three sets of single leg press, three sets of walking lunges and some quality core work. My legs did what they were supposed to do, even after 15km of hills.
I managed not to fall asleep at my desk, despite a scrappy night's sleep (thanks to the aforementioned run). This is possibly because I wasn't at my desk very much today, but then I also managed to stay awake in all my meetings, which was no mean feat.
I dealt with everything that was fired at me and reacted in what I hope was an articulate, considered and intelligent fashion. I think I was effective. I don't think I wasted anyone's time. I gave advise and it was useful. I made requests and they were responded to. I was asked for my opinion and was listened to.
I drank two very enjoyable glasses of red wine then baked a chocolate cake for morning tea tomorrow. The cake consists of 200 grams of Whittakers Dark Ghana chocolate, six eggs, 225 grams of butter and 200 grams of caster sugar. It's questionable whether it's even a cake really. It's kinda more like fortified chocolate. Plus it's gluten free, which is great for the Celiacs in our office.

All up it was a pretty good day, which means it must be nearly time for bed. I think I might run tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Long, slow hills

Yep, another run report. Oh how repetitious! I'm going to rave on for a little bit though, because this was a great run. This was one of those 'cruising along wondering when things are going to get hard' runs. This was one of those runs where, because I had intended to take things easy, I ended up running faster and further than I'd expected.

Backing up a bit, I decided to revise my goal of running 17km and instead go for time over a more challenging course. We've had a wicked Southerly here, so I decided I was going to stick inland where it would be sheltered. As it turned out, the Southerly had completely died by the time I left work tonight and it was cool and calm. In short, it was a beautiful evening for running.

After a week of no runs my ankle was feeling fine, but I decided to run a loop which would give me an out if I wasn't feeling good. I stopped on the corner of Bowen and the Terrace, holding my wrist madly in the air to try to encourage my Garmin to hook onto a satellite. Thankfully it managed that ok and we headed off up Bowen at a good pace. Left into Glenmore and I cruised steadily all the way up to Kelburn. My hill technique was the best it's been in ages. I was getting lots of knee lift and was pushing off my back foot strongly, firing those glutes I seem so obsessed about.

Through the Kelburn shops and I forgot to turn down Salamanca, so had to turn back at the cable car. I was having to dodge large numbers of vague pedestrians who were only noticing me at the last moment, swerving into my path. It's not like I'm one of those light-footed silent runners either.

Down Salamanca feeling really good, happy at how easy the first hill felt and how strong I was still feeling. I got to the corner of Willis and Aro in well under 40 minutes, so I was running faster than I thought I was. As I'd expected, I was warmed up enough that Mad Dog was kicking in and I fairly flew up Aro Valley. When I ran up this hill last year it nearly killed me, but not tonight!

Over the other side of the hill, down through the Karori tunnel, then in a nice piece of symmetry, back down Glenmore. When I got to the corner of Glenmore and Bowen I'd still only been out for just over an hour. Not time to head back just yet then. I ran all the way tothe bottom of Tinakori then turned right onto Thorndon Quay. Running along Thorndon Quay the Garmin was showing a 5.20 pace. Inconceivable, but I could feel that I really was moving, so I think it was accurate!

I got back to the gym in under 90 minutes, with my goal having been to run somewhere between 90 and 110. However it seemed like the run was coming to a natural end and it felt right to stop when I did. I fairly sprinted the last little climb up Bowen and still felt great when I got back to the gym.

That was not the longest run I've ever done, but it was probably one of the hilliest. It's a good indicator of how fit I actually am right now. I'll fit in another long run next week (perhaps Monday, but maybe Wednesday), since these long runs after work seem to work well for me. Next time I'll stick to the waterfront and go for distance and a bit of pace. Let's see how likely I am to do a PB in a few weeks.

The only issue I have right now is that I'm supposed to be working out with Duck in just 10 hours. Oops!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

One Pedal at a Time

Well Marshy, I did it. I hauled myself out of bed at 6a.m. this morning, downed some porridge and headed off to Extreme for a 7.15 a.m. 90 minute RPM class. Now I know I'm hardcore! I wasn't going to sign up, but a couple of women I cycle with caught me at a weak moment. It was fun to spin with them on either side of me.

I took the class at a steady pace, but I'm happy with my exertion levels throughout. I started to hit my stride with "Underneath the Radar" about 40 minutes in. It takes me 40 minutes to start feeling good when I'm running as well, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised! I did have an interesting realisation about halfway through. I was reflecting on how my right side seems to take most of the load when I'm riding, and that it feels much tighter than my left. All my sacroilleac injuries have been on that side, as have my IT band and knee issues. As I was thinking about this I had a clear image of my right hip, which is lifted up and tilted forward when compared to my left. I remembered my physio making me stand in front of a mirror to demonstrate how my hips were uneven, and making me pivot into an unnatural position to show me what it looked and felt like to stand evenly. So I thought, how would it feel to replicate that on a bike? I pulled my right hip back a bit and shuffled my left forwards. My left hip opened its eyes, gave me a bit of a strange look, and reluctantly started to pick up a bit more load. Seriously, I could feel it putting out more power, and I could feel my right hip easing up a bit. Exciting! I obviously need to do a bit more work on correcting my posture. Even if it doesn't translate to more speed, even if it simply leads to a little less strain on my right side it will be worth it.

I felt great until the second and third-to-last tracks, when Stephan threw in two intervals in a row. I started to feel just a teensie bit fatigued. After the two intervals I was expecting a speed track with a large hill track to follow, so I was surprised when Stephan announced that we were onto the last track (of course a hill). I still had enough in me to really work the dial and finished thinking that I could have lasted 120 minutes if necessary.

I am getting ahead of myself a bit though, because of course there's a whole other week of workouts to blog about. It's been a bit of an annoying week run-wise. The ankle has stopped me from putting in the distances I would have liked. I have still been putting in some good, solid workouts, but it has felt like a light week.

Last Friday I flew up to Auckland for the weekend to spend some time with H's mother ahead of some meetings on Monday. I'd organised to meet up with Marshy at Les Mills New Lynn on Saturday morning. This involved a bit of negotiation with Auckland's public transport system. H's mother dropped me off in Newmarket and I caught a 7.30a.m. train to New Lynn. The train station is just across the road from the gym, so I was there by 8 with a whole hour to kill before the class. So I decided to do my weights workout. In retrospect, this was probably not such a great idea!

I'd pretty much finished up when I spotted Marshy lurking by the water cooler, so we spent a bit of time chatting outside the RPM studio waiting for the 8a.m. class to finish. By the time we got in the room smelt, well, a little funky. The New Lynn studio has air-con but no fans, and the full class left a distinct aroma behind them.

Marshy has written about the class as well. Let's just say it was the best I've been to in ages. The instructor was fabulous and I loved his choice of tracks. I went hard right from the start. I haven't yet made the 'sausages and mash' I promised Marshy I would, but I've just fished the sausages out of the freezer and I bought some more potatoes today.

Afterwards we sat around in the excellent Les Mills cafe for a while and chatted. I had some delicious corn fritters with bacon and a slightly odd salsa. It was great to hang out with another gym junkie. Marshy has lost an admirable amount of weight, gained an impressive fitness level and is now discovering the wide world of Health at Every Size (HAES). I'd say "go girl" if I was the kind of girl who says that kind of thing!

Afterwards Marshy drove off to pick up a free bottle of chocolately liqueur, and I wandered around Lynnmall. It didn't take long! The place hasn't really changed much in the last 15 or so years. It was kinda nice to be back, but I was keen to head back into town. H's mother was tutoring a series of small children back at home, so I had a day to myself to kill.

So it was back onto the public transport system, and another train to Britomart. I love trains - an affection brought about by train trip adventures into Newmarket twice a year for hospital appointments followed by trips to the Mandalay, the reception lounge where my father worked as an assistant manager. My love affair was cemented further by a year in Holland, where the train network is excellent. I didn't have long to wait on the New Lynn platform before a train arrived. I sat down then set off on a real nostalgia trip as I watched the familiar train stations slip past - the many neat and tidy backyards around Mt Albert, the weeds and graffiti and the long tunnel that terrified and thrilled me as a child.

Auckland does seem to be getting its act together, public-transport wise. The Western line is being double-tracked, the train stations are clean and the timetables easy to follow. Away from the trains the bus stops on central routes are also clearly timetabled and many even have digital display boards showing when the next buses are due. I was thoroughly impressed.

Before long we'd pulled into Britomart. I was planning a walk up Queen Street, but the sun had come out and it was too nice to do anything other than to heard for the harbour. I wandered past Cin Cin on Quay and then around the perimeter of Princes Wharf, stopping to send H a few pxts. The poor boy was stuck in bed with three cats (one rather wet), all sheltering from a damp, cold Wellington morning. I, on the other hand, was continuing to feel the nostalgia. It was a perfect day and the Viaduct area was almost deserted. In Wellington on a day like this you'd barely be able to move for walkers, runners, cyclists and roller bladers. Here a few white, wealthy middle-aged types lingered around the almost-empty bars, trying to pretend that they weren't there all alone.

From Princes Wharf I continued around to the inner viaduct, where a man recently leaped to his death in a failed attempt to propel himself from apartment balcony to water. Today there was no sign of any tragedy but I was hanging out for a quiet glass of something cold in the sun somewhere where I could admire the view. Somehow, however the rather desperate looking staff in the empty bars didn't draw me in. I ended up at the Loaded Hog, where I paid an overinflated price for the privilege of basking in the warmth with a bottle of cider, watching the world go by for a while.

From the viaduct (walking past a rack of bikes-for-hire) it was past Victoria Park (past the Beaumont Quarter complex, where owners are facing vastly inflated ground-leases), then up College Hill. More memories here. Once, in my Weight Watchers days eight years ago, I struggled to walk up here. Now I know I could run it.

Down Jervois Rd and right into Blake Street. Hamish and I lived here for two alternately amazing and stressful years in our first home - a 46 square metre one bedroom apartment. It was here our first two Burmese kittens grew up. We would walk them around the school gardens behind the complex and the boy, Linux, learned how the elevator worked, once walking out on the third floor on his own (presumably someone pushed the button for him).

From the adjacent street I could see into our old apartment, which looks the same as it once did. From the back of the building (the school gardens) I could see that some of the west-facing balconies were rotting. It seems we were right to sell when we did!

I wandered around for a while feeling even more nostalgic. It wasn't exactly that I wanted to go back there, but it was an important time in our lives and some pretty special things happened while we were living there. It was so exciting to have our own little home in the middle of one of the hottest suburbs in Auckland.

Onwards down Ponsonby Rd and into Annah Stretton, not escaping without a gorgeous top. Photos to come, because I promised Leonie! Afterwards I decided to limit the damage and jumped on a Link bus back to Newmarket, then another bus back to Epsom.

A leg workout, an RPM class and several hours of walking were not the best way to spend the day before a planned 17km run. I'd organised to do brunch with H's mother and friend very early Sunday morning and afterwards I felt completely wiped out. It was all I could do to catch a bus to Les Mills Victoria Street and spend half an hour on a bike before jumping in the spa and sauna. Oh well, I thought, I can always run tomorrow.

However on Monday my ankle was aching and I was flat out at work. On Tuesday I had planned to do RPM. On Wednesday then I was well overdue for a run. When the power went out at 3.00 that afternoon it was time! Unfortunately the power cut coincided with a downpour. I donned my windbreaker, but it is only water resistant, not waterproof, and standing at the lights on Jervois Quay I nearly died from the wet and the cold. It took at least 5km to warm up. All the other women running in the monsoon conditions exchanged one of those "yep, we're totally insane" grins as we passed each other.

The one good thing about running through the rain was that I ran really fast to get it over with. I doubt I've ever run 7km so quickly. It's ironic that, given my ankle issues, I feel stronger than ever. I don't doubt my cardiovascular capabilities or that I have the endurance to get me through 21km. I just wish my ankle would cooperate.

On Thursday I spent half an hour on a bike at my highest level, then spent an hour with Duck. We started out with some cable work, core work and pull-ups, then did a number of running drills with a ladder. We followed that up with some mini-circuits with power bags and a step. We did a fair bit of jumping up and down off the step, which was fun. I suck at jumping though!

On Friday all I could fit in was a Balance class, albeit a very strong, flexible one. I did the best backbend ever. I don't know why I have such a difficulty with backbends. I think it's primarily a psychological issue.

On Saturday I met Julia and Karen for a ride. It was a fantastic morning, but I had some trouble keeping warm. We decided we wanted to do a hill, so we tackled the climb up to the prison. I had a score to settle here after having failed miserably a couple of weeks before the Grape Ride. Had the problem really been that I was climbing on the wrong cog? I'm not sure, but I definitely have my hill legs back. I flew up that puppy, stopping at the first car park to let the others catch up, then racing off up to the top. I felt great the whole way.

We regrouped and chatted for a while at the top. I was getting cold so was glad to be off again. We feathered our brakes the whole way down to Worser Bay, with the road extremely slick. From there we continued around to Island Bay, where we stopped to let Karen shake out a cramp, then it was up Happy Valley to the bus stop in Brooklyn. I had a bite to eat while waiting, although this time Julia wasn't far behind me.

Back down Happy Valley and around to Lyall Bay. It was really getting windy by this point, not to mention cold. We ducked through to Kilbirnie then back to Freyberg. I tested my off-the-bike legs by doing a few laps of the carpark then we crossed the road to Parade where I downed a lemon, honey and ginger drink and finally started to feel a little warm.

My aim for the next few days is to finally get a long run in. I need to have 17km under my belt. I've also got the Scorching Duathlon this weekend, so will need to make sure my ankle's ok for that. I want to really try to push the runs, but I haven't trained specifically for a duathlon, so I'm just going to be winging it. I've got no idea what I can do!

I'm sitting here watching a triathlon programme on TV1. Does this mean triathlon's gone mainstream? I'm fed up with the cold. Can I haz tropical island holiday pleaz?!