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Half Marathon

Running half marathon with my sister – Tick!

PS: As she saw the clock on the finish line going to 2 hour 19min, my very cool sister suddenly shouted:”2:20! Let’s go for 2:20!” And started to accelerate towards the finish. After keeping up with her for 13miles, it was just easier to kick in the sprint than to explain that this was 2:20 from the very start of the race, which was a few (indeed 12) min before we started… God love her.

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In the words of the late, the great Michael Jackson: “This is it!” One more sleep before the race, and a long one too as we are given an extra hour leaving British Summer Time.

Having spent most of my week in bed with the flu, do I feel ready? Probably not. Does that matter? Probably not.

Because tomorrow, come rain or shine ( probably rain) I will be starting at the O2 with my very cool sister. She actually has a real job, saving lives and has been training in her hours after work and in her free weekends. We decided not to run for a charity, just for ourselves: and she doesn’t even like running that much. She only signed up because I asked her to join me: because I needed a project to cling on to in my unorganised life; a life which at that point in time didn’t even have a proper postal address. So she used hers and last week the runners pack arrived there: timing chip, wristband and the optimistically short-sleeved shirt with starting number printed on the front. To be shown at all times.

Yesterday the rain and the cold came for real: my parents’ flight was delayed because of snow.

This morning my very cool sister suggested a long sleeve shirt underneath shirt option after tomorrow’s forecasted rain and wind. After initial hesitation (last-minute change, can’t cope!)  I just tried on: it was the best idea ever.

Did I mention she doesn’t even like running that much?

She’ll be there. She’ll be running –  so tomorrow, rain, snow, gales, full-blown fevers: I shall be running too.

12 days to go until the half marathon challenge. The lurgies are still about and the weather outside gets windier and wetter. This late in the game I decided to invest in a warmer running tights, as fit-levels can really not drop any further. Went for a test run just now and experienced wind tunnels underneath bridges and sweeping side winds on the open parts of my route. There is nothing as frustrating as running against the wind in the last couple of kilometers, while a group of semi pro looking runners speeds past you the other way…

Anyway I made it. I had to lie on the floor afterwards but I made it. Thus re-established that if necessary, bar actual loss of limb or an unfortunate bout of the Ebola virus,  I’ll run this race on sheer will power alone.

 

It has taken my body two days to realise that the pressure of last month was finally off. Easing into down-time mode, although I guess the weekend surrounded by friends with colds didn’t help either, and the lurgies have found me.

Currently just an annoying niggle in the throat, I am determined to overcome this. Down time it may be but a race still has to be trained for and run by the end of the month: being sick is not really an option right now body – sorry. What are the chances of me outrunning a bug?

In other news, before actually dealing with ‘the evaluation of life plan’ as intended this month, I decided to find myself the release valve first. An emergency stop if you like, when planning turns into over-analysing and subsequent panic. Running is one method but sometimes not physical but mental distraction is needed. Thus I decided to find myself a book: I can’t remember when I last finished one (Ballard’s Empire of the Sun still lies on the table after having been opened on numerous occasions and still not read.)

Being lucky enough to have ready access to quite a few books at the moment, it was hard to decide what to choose. It’s a bit like a meal in a restaurant: do you order what you know to like or do you try something new? I decided to compromise and choose a never read classic. Having set a month aside in the slow lane, the story could be a longer one ( something more than Animal Farm), yet not too daunting (the epic War and Peace), and it was not yet the time for another attempt at Catch-22. ( I usually don’t get further than p33, even though I really want to like the book.)

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by tgoldenburg

On the hunt for a story I know but never read, I found Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. If the recent film version was something to go by, it would put you off the book. However, there is a familiarity with the characters already (wasn’t there a cartoon of some kind?)  and quite frankly the film made me want to read to book, so M Dumas could reassure me that it was not how he had meant to tell the story originally.

I have just finished the first chapter and already D’Artagnan amuses me, young and hot-headed I find him surprisingly easy to identify with… October, a whole month with a book as entertainment: even the lurgies cannot spoil that.

Tough week this week. Mostly in my head but isn’t that always the case?

It all accumulated to this morning I guess when I went to run my usually route. Half-way through it felt a bit funny, then I realised: Oh no, hungry! Those who know me well, know that hungry is not good. Hungry means grumpiness, tunnel-vision, erratic driving and potential shaking. Though not this severe, this morning just past half-way point my legs just said: no. I stood still and could only walk the rest home. Game over.  I was annoyed with myself because my diet this week has been less than ideal. Nothing terrible, just nog ideal when you are running or walking a lot like I’ve been doing. Too much sugar, not enough carbs, I know this. But like I said, it’s been a tough week ok so give us a break.

I must have looked a state though because an elderly man walked past me, kindly encouraging: Come on! Don’t give up, you can do it! I smiled because I know I can do it. Just not today thank you very much. Today I need to eat more and take a brain break.

Break is exactly what I’m getting this weekend as I’m flying home for flying visit: Amsterdam, home, Friesland all in the space of 2 days. It might not involve a lot of sleeping but that is ok: I don’t think that sleep is what my body and mind need. Perhaps a change of scenery will do and food of course. Luckily, I know that food won’t ever be lacking at home.

Happy Friday everyone.

The road runs on...

The road runs on… (Photo credit: Derek Lyons)

It’s Friday, not Wednesday and I seem to have missed my weekly slot to write about these 12 challenges. Nobody set this rule but myself and I only did this a couple of months ago to keep myself on track. However, this project was not to avoid real life and life got busy this week.

I used to be much more OCD about sticking to made-up rules, my own that is: I’ve always had a bit of an issue with people telling me what to do. This is probably because no one pushes me harder than I can, and no one is more disappointed in my failings than I can be.

Recently I’ve tried to let got of the concept of ‘failure’ a little, after all failing only happens in context and comparison to others who can’t control.”It is not a race” pretty much sums it up I guess.

Which is ironically why I’ve taken a shine to running: I can only concentrate on myself. I started running two years ago when I agreed to run a half marathon with my then-colleagues. What I learned in the process (well documented in last blog here), was that running has not that much to do with physical capability: it’s much more a mind game.

I still  hate running for the first 10min of each run I start. That’s ok once I’m running for an hour or so but now when I’m only out for 30min the ratio is less appealing. Every start is a mental block that needs to be over come.  During the run it’s key you pace yourself, challenge yourself appropriately or otherwise risk injury.

Recently, when I’ve been running I’ve not taken any music so running is between me and my mind: my biggest motivator and biggest enemy. Training my body to run, is training my mind to balance ‘motivation and control’ with ‘patience and determination’. More importantly, I concentrate on my own race not on what others do. Actually no, maybe I look differently to others: no longer in jealousy but in inspiration.

This week I had lunch with a friend  (told you life got busy ;)) and she told me she signed up to do the Race for Life. This is a 5K and she’ll be walking as she is nearly 8 months pregnant. However, if she can cover that distance with with her baby’s head on her bladder – by Jove, I can get through my runs!

As I was running through the crowds by Liverpool Street Station, dodging the travellers with their fags in their mouths, holding their suitcases or struggling with their over-sized backpacks while they stop and stare at my red face, sweating and a-fashionably dressed in my Plymouth hoody, I suddenly realised: the days that I gave a shit are long gone.

Just keep running.