Wednesday, April 29, 2009

OMG - I'm Running a Marathon!

So here it is. On Saturday I’m running the Rotorua Marathon.

I haven’t posted anything here since returning from my holiday (sorry Kate), simply because I’ve been all over the place both physically and mentally. I got through my peak week of training on sheer willpower, with my body fraying at the edges. I took a few days off, conquered the Grape Ride, and then the theory was that I would fit my training runs in around road tripping down to the South Island to my father-in-law’s vineyard in Bannockburn to help with harvest.

The day after the Grape Ride I was supposed to run 23km. I think I managed around 7. In Lake Tekapo I lurched panting and red faced around the side of the lake in a freezing gale, wondering why it all felt so hard. 15km was all I was good for. The next morning there was five inches of snow on the ground, so running was again out of the question. When we made it to Methven that afternoon there was a horrendous northwest gale blowing down long straight, soul destroying roads, so again I didn’t run.

After that things got worse. There were times when I didn’t run at all for a couple of days in a row. The runs that I did fit in were pretty horrendous. They weren’t long enough and I battled nausea, cramp and shortness of breath. I was so annoyed with myself for missing out on the opportunity to explore the beautiful back roads and trails of Central Otago. What a waste …

Instead I got into holiday mode. I ate too much, drank too much, put on weight I could ill afford. I also spent three wonderful days walking up and down long rows picking grapes. I enjoyed myself immensely, when I wasn’t beating myself up about not sticking to the programme.

Back home and I threw myself into a panicked attempt at regaining lost ground. In theory I was supposed to be tapering, but how could I taper from a holiday of minimal distance? So yes, I gave in to paranoia and my runs ended up being slightly longer, slightly hillier, slightly faster. The good news was that they all felt great. Finally, on the last possible day, I made the call and signed up for the marathon. I knew that I’d feel worse if I pulled out than if I’d entered and struggled to finish.

I’ve spent this week trying to battle the nerves, and trying to get into a constructive mindset. On the one hand I’m really, really happy and excited to be doing this. On the other I feel terribly undercooked. There’s a reason why most training programmes are 16 weeks long! I would like to have done a few more 28km+ runs. I’m also wishing the long runs I did do were hillier. I wish that my hip weren’t still bugging me.

When it comes down to it I’m just going to have to go out tough it out. Unlike Frayed Laces before Boston I can at least walk without excruciating pain! I want to go out there and have fun. I don’t want to spend the whole 42.2km cursing myself for not training enough, or for deciding to enter in the first place. All I have to do is keep placing one foot in front of the other. If that means walking bits then so be it.

People around me have been very interested in my time goals. The correct response is of course that time doesn’t matter. However there are times floating around in my head. There’s the time I might eventually be capable of, the time I would like to do the marathon in and an outer-limit time. At the moment I think I’m likely to finish somewhere between the second and third figures.

Right now I just have to focus on not losing it before I even get to the finish. In the past I’ve really good at being my own worst enemy on race day. I haven’t made things easy on myself either as I’ve been running around madly trying to organise too many things this week. My green headband went missing (I suspect the cat stole it), I still haven’t worked out how I’m going to carry all my gels and extra medication, and yesterday I suddenly realised there isn’t a microwave in the hotel room, leaving my usual breakfast option out of the question.

Really, I just need to chill out, accept that I can’t control everything, and go out there and have fun. I’m running a marathon! OMG!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back in Wellington

We arrived back in Wellington just after 10 last night and I was up early for a quick ride around the Bays before a day dancing in the sun at Summerset at the Basin.

I'll post more about my adventures (and my abject failure to maintain my marathon training programme) soon, but in the meantime go check out Hamish's album of holiday shots.

Friday, April 10, 2009

South Island Holiday

These photos are all out of order, but anyway! This is part of the view from my father-in-law's vineyard in Bannockburn, Central Otago. The grapes are going to be ready for harvesting in a few days. Richard lives in a big huge red barn with living accomodation upstairs, and this is a section of the view from the veranda. In this photo the Crown Range is barely visible in the distance. Out of picture to the right is the Pisa Range, which is topped with snow.

Mt Cook, or Aoraki. We had great luck with the weather on the day we visited. We were in the sun but only a few short kilometres away there was cloud cover and rain.

Lake Tekapo the morning after the big snowfall. Cold! The melt was already well underway by this point.

Poor Cleo has about four inches of snow on her saddle ...

Hamish calls this my "Pip freaking out" photo, as in "OMG - we're going to be stuck here by the snow!"
Lake Tekapo the day before. Still lovely at this stage. The weather closed in a few hours later. note though that it was extremely windy and that the wind was cold, a warning sign.

Me about four kilometres into my 15km run and really feeling it. Altitude training, apparently!

The Northwesterly blowing up a big cloud bank in Canterbury. Very stunning skies.

Marble Mountain near Springs Junction. There is an earthquake fault about 100 metres away, easily identifiable on walking through the field as a large rise and then fall in the topography. This is where I ran my 7kms the day after the Grape Ride.

Marble Mountain again!

I ran 12 kilometres today on a beautiful sunny, calm Bannockburn morning. Plenty of short sharp hills and a long flattish section on gravel alongside the lake. Beautiful! It still felt hard though, but I suspect that was the result of all the wine I've been drinking. 28km tomorrow, which means I should probably stop drinking Rose and start drinking water ....

More photos to follow!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A valid excuse this time ...

We stayed at Lake Tekapo last night and thankfully we rented a cabin and didn't break out the tent. We spent the night at the hot pools with the temperature steadily dropping. When we went to bed at around 10.30 it was raining pretty hard. At 2.30a.m. I woke up and, realising that the rain had stopped, decided it would be a good time to make a dash for the bathroom. I opened up the cabin door and .....

There were big fat flakes of snow pouring down from the sky. In early April.

When I woke again at 7 there was a good four or so inches of snow on the ground. Poor Cleo, on the bike rack on the back of the car, was coated. Pretty much every person on the campsite was walking around with a bewildered grin on their faces. It was incredibly, stupendously beautiful.

So yeah, I didn't run today, but I think I had a reasonably good excuse. I know some of you American types run right through the snow, but I'm a thin blooded North Island Kiwi, and I don't have appropriate snow-running gear.

Today, I was a bit of a wimp.

(Photos of the unseasonable snow dump to follow)

Monday, April 06, 2009

On Holiday ...

So it seems that it's not a good idea to go on holiday at the business end of a marathon training programme. Who would have thought?

As I commented in my last post, after Tuesday's run when everything started to hurt I decided not to run again until after the Grape Ride. Well, that strategy appeared to work well for the race. We caught the ferry down on Friday afternoon, spent a quiet night in our cottage in Renwick, and then the next morning Hamish dropped me off at the start line.

The morning dawned clear but cold and I amused everyone around me by shaking uncontrollably while waiting to start. It was a relief to get moving, but we turned straight into a frigid wind and it took forever to start to warm up. However almost straight away I latched onto a team of women who were heading northwards at around 35kmph. I greedily sat on their wheel most of the way to Picton, though around halfway we hit a monster headwind and I started to take my fair turn at pulling.

Somewhere on the hill up to Picton I lost them all, but I wasn't too worried because I knew that Queen Charlotte Drive would be a bit of a solo effort anyway. The headwind was a real feature of the last 10km or so up to Picton and really did slow everyone down. Queen Charlotte was thankfully more sheltered. Mahikipawa Hill felt much easier than last year and I spun up at a satisfyingly high cadence.

Once on the flat again we hit the headwind at its strongest and it became clear that a bunch needed to be formed. I jumped on the wheel of a woman around my age, another woman jumped in behind me, and soon we had a collection of riders all sharing the lead. It took a bit to get the bunch dynamics sorted, but we were soon working together quite well. We were all used to using different hand signals, so there was a bit of discussion back and forth to get everything organised.

Once we got to Havelock we turned in towards Renwick and the fun began. Finally we had a bit of a tail wind. For the last 15km or so I was sitting on between 38 to 42kmph. Once I knew I was close to the finish line I got the bit between my teeth and just went for it. I was seeing speeds on my cycle computer I would never have thought possible.

It seemed like no time at all before I was at the finish line. In the end I cut half an hour off last year's time. On one ride a week of training and a dodgy hip I would call that a success! A lot went well with this ride. I found good people to ride with, I ate constantly (I got through three Power Bars over the 101km ride), and I hydrated well. I had a huge amount of fun as well, and I felt great afterwards. It was wonderful to arrive at the end and have Hamish hand me a chilli bin with a bottle of cider inside it. There are times when I really love that man!

I felt pretty lethargic the next day, but that was partly a lack of sleep catching up with me. I was supposed to run 23km and I should have woken up early and fitted it in before we left Renwick. Instead it was already quite late by the time we set up camp at a DOC campsite near Springs Junction. As a compromise, because it was a beautiful evening and the surroundings were stunning, I ran 7km along the side of the main road. When I got back we headed off to Maruia Springs, which I can highly recommend. We spent some time in the attractive main pools outside by the river, and some time in a private bath house. Afterwards we sat in the bar drinking beer and cider and eating hot chocolate cake with ice cream.

Up again today, and another day of driving. We made it as far as Methven today. We were going to go down the West Coast but the forecast was for heavy rain and thunderstorms, so we chose East. Today I haven't run at all. I just felt it would have been selfish to have headed out on my own and left Hamish at the campsite again and, besides, there's the worst Northwester blowing. I intend to get up and run long tomorrow morning, after which we're off to Lake Tekapo. We're going to go kayaking on the lake, right up to a glacier.

It will be easier to fit in the running once I'm in Central Otago. Right now I have to accept that there are times when I have to have a life outside of running. I'm still going to get round this marathon ... I hope. In the meantime I'm having the best holiday ever.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Help Me People!

Last week was my peak week of marathon training. I did my 32km run on Sunday after a fairly grumpy 55km bike ride the day before where I was goaded into sprinting into the wind and aggravated my hip. Being both grumpy and extremely busy I skipped the run off the bike. So I didn't quite make all my scheduled runs, but five out of six wasn't bad.

This week is an 'easy' week. I ran 8km on Monday and did 35 minutes of intervals last night. Tonight I'm supposed to be running 60 minutes of hills and tomorrow I'm down for 12km. The Grape Ride is on Saturday - a 101km bike ride, and then on Sunday I'm supposed to run 23km.

Here's the thing though. I'm thinking about skipping tonight's run. My hip still hasn't settled from Saturday and the intervals didn't help it. There's a pain down the top of my right quad that I know is hip-related, and I'm conscious I'm starting to avoid putting too much weight on that leg when I'm standing, which is something I do when my hip starts to go.

The arch of my right foot is still achy and I don't want it to deteriorate. Plus now there's a bit of a pain developing down the inside of my left ankle. Quite frankly, I feel a little like I'm falling apart.

I HATE missing scheduled workouts, particularly my loved Wednesday hill runs. However a programme is an 'ideal scenario', right? It's something written at a certain point in time which assumes nothing will go wrong enroute. A programme isn't flexible. A programme is a list of things to do. You can't tell a programme that you're having a bad day, or that your knee hurts, or that you're just too busy. You can't tell a programme that you're tired.

So I figure, as much as I hate skipping runs, this one missed run isn't going to kill my marathon. On the other hand, not listening to my body and going out there and running anyway might. Imagine if I ran tonight and was in agony tomorrow? How stupid would I feel?

Ironically I'm feeling sore but not tired. Even so, there's a part of me that would like to just go home and rest and have a shot at feeling good when I run tomorrow. Plus, I want to have a good ride on Saturday.

Oh, and buying new shoes this close to the marathon? Bad idea. They're just another pair of the Adidas shoes I always buy, but getting them was just another stressor to add to the mix. They're the same size as usual but they feel tighter. At least I know I can take them back, and they looked great on video - no heel rollover whatsoever.

So I will go home, drink a glass of wine, enjoy time with Hamish and the cats and try not to spend the evening second-guessing myself. I might even start packing for our South Island holiday so that I'm not running round like crazy on Friday morning.

I need to remember that I know myself well enough by now to know that I'm doing the right thing not running tonight. I just haven't quite worked out how to stop beating myself up about it yet!