Sunday, October 30, 2011

Times up

The marathon is in 12 hours.

Today The Irishman and I woke up refreshed after an extra hour of sleep and did our last training run, a light 4.5 km jog down to the east pier in Dun Laoghaire and back.

Then we drove the race route to get a good sense of the terrain and elevation. Unfortunately that made me even more nervous than not. Quite a lot of the race from miles 6-15 have minor inclines that, while inconsequential in a car, are going to be killer on foot. It took quite a bit longer than we thought, and we gave up after mile 20 and headed off for food. We didn't get out to Avoca in the end, but enjoyed a nice pasta dish in Dalkey.

Now we've completed our preparations: our race numbers are pinned on our tops, our gels are attached to our bottoms, our race bags are packed, and I've got the jitters. My sore throat has slowly progressed to a runny nose and slight cough. I'm hoping this is mostly nerves and hypochondria, but who knows. As long as I can breathe, I should be okay but I really just want to be able to DO IT.

Anyway, this is it, isn't it? Now I just need to get on and do it. No more preparations possible, really. Although The Irishman just reminded me that I need to poop tonight. Thanks, dear.

Thank you all for all of the on-going support and care you've shown me through this process. If you are keen and want to watch the run, RTE ( is televising the race from 9am tomorrow. I'll let you know how I go as soon as I can. Hugs xx

(Editors note: I'm using the Blogger app and it's rubbish. You can't add hyperlinks, do any text editing like italics or bold, or put pictures where we want. Anyway, sorry for the crude posting this weekend.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Race Pack Pickup

After sleeping until 11:30 today, The Irishman and I fetched our race packs at the RDS Center, which was also hosting the Over 50s Show and The Ideal Homes Show. So after €6 to park, we entered the hall to find the smell of pasta in the air and lots of eager/nervous runners milling around browsing Power Bars.

After picking up our gear, we drove down to Superquinns and got lots of food. Here's our eating plan:

- Breakfast: porridge, OJ, coffee
- Lunch: sandwiches at M&S
- Dinner: Thai-style chicken with chilies over brown rice with steam veggies

- Breakfast: porridge, OJ, coffee
- Lunch: sandwich out somewhere, depending on what we are up to (possibly going to Avoca Cafe!)
- Dinner: whole wheat pasta with a tomato, bacon, onion (amatriciana) sauce

Race Day:
- Toast, OJ, bananas

And of course, hydrating - constantly.

Wouldn't you know that I woke up with a sore throat this morning so I picked up some cold medicine as well and am embracing serious resting. I'm lying on the sofa, watching Ghostbusters. I may also have eaten a donut. Oops.

In Dublin

Just a quick post to let you all know I've arrived in Dublin and am safely tucked up in The Irishman's family home, about to pass out. I would have posted earlier, but I got a bit tied up at work this week - in Switzerland!

I found out Wednesday that I had to make an impromptu client meeting in Zurich today, which meant flying out Thursday night and doing 8 hours of client work today before flying to Dublin. And as there were no direct flights from Zurich to the Dub, it also meant a high intensity, stressful, anxiety-laden cab ride from London City Airport to Stansted Airport so I could make my Ryanair flight. Luckily the gods were all with me: we landed early at City, immigration moved quickly, there was relatively zero traffic getting out of London, and Stansted was virtually deserted - I walked straight up to the Ryanair desk for my passport check, no queues!

As you can imagine, I'm absolutely knackered, so there will be more updates tomorrow. Our marathon adventure kicks in tomorrow with a trip to pick up our race numbers and to Ireland's version of Waitrose / Wegmans for carb-loading supplies. Eeps! Better rest up!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The only thing that could stop me from running the marathon? Flash floods.

Newsflash: Dublin has been experiencing severe rainfall over the last 48 hours, leading to flash flooding across the city. News reports state that Dublin had a month's worth of rain in 24 hours and the city is in a state of emergency. The video above shows one of the city's biggest malls flood with water through seams in the glass walls, and BBC reports show a bus filling with water as it drives down a city street.

Well, hell, people. Only an act of god could prevent me from running this race and here we have it. There aren't any reports of cancellations or changes yet, but I suspect we'll hear more by the end of the week when the city dries out. I can only hope that if the race does happen, we don't have to run through rain like that!

We're thinking of you, Dub.

Monday, October 24, 2011

One week to go

So, one week from now I will have finished running my first marathon. Shit, people. It's really going to happen. 

This past weekend was all about prep. Yesterday The Irishman and I ironed letters on our race tops (for all of you designers out there, it's a very fun kerning exercise and let me tell you how the last E of my name will forever haunt me, having slipped up a few millimeters when I set them. I can't even look at it) and bought our race gels. We planned out our pre-race nutrition and carb loading schedule. And we ran together, sort of: because my injury, The Irishman and I haven't been on the same running plan since the end of September. He ran 18 and 20 miles on his own, while I stretched it out in the gym doing my physio exercises, and has been tapering down the mileage for the last few weeks. I, on the other hand, am still ramping up the mileage since I effectively lost a month of training. So Saturday I had to face my longest distance run on my own.

I was supposed to run 29 km / 18 miles, and The Irishman joined me for the first 8k – out Regents Canal east to Victoria Park for one – and I continued on by myself. I had my iPod and my running mix, I had my gels, and I had my water, and I was confident. I really did wish for The Irishman to be with me, but I also realized that I had to prove this to myself that I could do this by myself. What if (god forbid, knock on wood, etc) The Irishman got sick? Or injured? I told myself that I had to know I was able to do this on my own.

So I ran. And I felt GOOD. I totally experienced that moment of bliss where my body felt like a machine, moving smoothly without effort. I was wearing the GPS watch (which I hate) and it beeped away merrily telling me I was going at a lovely pace of 6:00, 6:09, 6:15, 6:22 km. I didn't get lost as I passed the Olympic site and headed down to Limehouse Basin. I got past 21 km and I told myself "8 km, I know this distance, I can do this." I took a water/gel walk break for a minute, and kept on going. And then I met the phenomenon called "The Wall" and experienced the first moment in my training when I just couldn't go on. It was frightening, humbling, and mortifying as my body systematically just stopped working. I made a pact with myself that I would make it to the bottom of this hill that leads to my street, and from that moment my brain could only focus on waiting for my designated stop point to appear.

In the end, I only managed 27.58 km / 17.13 miles and felt ashamed that I couldn't push myself that last mile; when I walked through the door, I burst into tears and told The Irishman that I didn't think I could do it. But he told me that he felt the exact same way at the end of both his 18 and 20 mile runs, and we made a pact that no matter what we would stick together for the marathon and make sure we both finished. So even though I proved to myself that yes I can run the long distances on my own, I am very happy and reassured to know that I have my man with me to support me in going the distance next week. Besides, he's the reason I'm in this mess in the first place!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Update: Ryan Gosling loves Hey Girl

My colleague who also shares the love for Ryan Gosling, and found him reading out some Hey Girl (F*ck Yeah Ryan Gosling, not the feminist ones) quotes. Swoon, regardless. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time out for Ryan Gosling

Image courtesy of Feminist Ryan Gosling

Due to my even more bruised ego (see earlier post), I'm taking a break from my "running only" posts to share my new favorite blog with you all: Feminist Ryan Gosling.

What could be better than hot Ryan Gosling + feminist theory? Only Ryan Gosling + feminist theory + a pug.

Subscribe to the feed, and enjoy.

Blood, sweat, and tears

I contemplated taking photos of my wounds for you, but I decided I wanted to keep you as readers.

So, it's finally happened: I fell running on Saturday.

I know these things happen all of the time, even to people like Paula Radcliffe, but you do sort of think "really, I am 30 years old, I can put one foot infront of the other even at high speeds." I mean, how hard can it be? And then it happens and you're so shocked and all you can do is cry.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Irishman and I went running Saturday morning, a light 13 miler; I wanted to take it easy and flex my lower shins. It was really more of a test to see how my leg would hold up. It was going really well, though; nice and easy pace, beautiful weather. We were doing a new route west along Regent's Canal – through Camden Lock, past Regent's Park to the south, through Little Venice out to Kensal Rise and back. I've run most of this towpath before, but only in sections, never together, and I encountered one part that literally tripped me up.

Right before the Little Venice area, there is a section of canal that is sometimes locked – it is a permanent boat mooring and the residents have some cool little art installations. They also have electricity supply points at the edge of the canal. These electricity points have cables that run to the side of the towpath which aren't buried but covered with concrete, resulting in a series of about 15-20 low-rise hurdles we had to clear. I've found a picture of the offending obstacles.

Image courtesy of Towpath Treks

See that white horizontal strip on the right, leading up to the red things? That's the jump. And you can see many of them moving up along the path. Anyway.

I had passed what I thought was the last of the bollards and was taking a drink from my water bottle, and trying to close the top when all of a sudden I found myself on the ground on all fours. Stunned, I sat down and just started sobbing. I think I said something to the effect of "I don't want to run the marathon" in between all of the tears. The Irishman got me up and moved me to a bench, and poured water over my  wounds to clear away the dirt. When I calmed down, I had 2 skinned knees, a broken thumbnail on my left hand, deep scratches on my knuckles on my left hand, and deep wounds on the palms of both hands. 

Eventually I got up and calmed down and got my breath back (you can't imagine how hard it is to run when you're crying, your throat closes up and you can't breathe and it's just a nightmare), and I continued on the run. We finished 13 miles with me much worse for wear, as not only was I bleeding but I also have some serious bruises on my knees and hands below the scrapes. 

A lot of Neosporin and Band-Aids later, I am feeling better about this whole running thing but at that moment I really hated it. I have 5 more runs to do after today before I run The Race, and I need to restore my love of the effort in order to reap the reward. But Saturday I was so not interested AT ALL. My only consolation is that "this happens to everyone" and it really does. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

There's no good time to run a marathon.

It's getting cold here in London, and worse than the cold is the rapidly shortening days. Barely light when I wake up, it starts getting dark around 6 and it's pitch black by the time I'm heading out for my evening run. I'm finding it hard to motivate myself, either to run or to go to the gym to do my physio stretches. How quickly the tables turn... just a month ago I was gagging to go running, and now I'm finding it hard not to flop on the sofa for the evening.

I was thinking this morning how I really should have entered a marathon at a different point in the year to make the training easier. But I came to the conclusion that really, there is no good time to train to run 26.2 miles. Here's why.

Most training programmes are 18 weeks long. It makes sense, as you're really only supposed to increase your mileage by 10% per week or else risk injury (ie, my earlier post). It takes you that long just to get up to those longer distances which are important for physical endurance but probably more for mental reassurance that you can actually do it. But there are only 52 weeks in a year, which means that marathon training will typically take up over 1/3rd of a year. That's a big commitment.

As well as the time and energy, 1/3rd of the year naturally spans more than one season and can even go on to span 3 seasons. So you may start your marathon training at the beginning of the summer (like I did) and then go on finish it right before winter hits. The Irishman ran the London marathon a few years ago and started his training right after Christmas, which meant for a large amount of time he was running through the snow. While London has more temperate climate than, say, America's Northeast, it's still no fun training during extreme temperatures or in the dark at 4pm. And if you enter a marathon to take advantage of a good training period, you run the risk of actually running in 90 deg F weather.

So basically, the entire marathon process, when you really think about it, is absurd. Why am I even doing this? WHY HAVE I GIVEN UP MY ENTIRE SUMMER OF DRINKING ROSÉ IN PUB GARDENS TO RUN LONG DISTANCES, GET INJURED, AND SPEND £100 ON PHYSIO IN ORDER TO BE FIT ENOUGH TO DO THIS RACE?

I need to eat a cookie to feel better. I'll run it off later.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Editors note: running posts only for a while

Photo from Flickr courtesy of Cuegalos

Well, it was bound to happen: this blog is officially, temporarily, going to only be about running for a while. It's exactly 3 weeks until the marathon and the highlights of this past weekend was buying a new sports bra (it was 25% off!) and doing an 8 mile run at my marathon pace. Big doings, folks. I can only imagine that the next few weeks will be more of the same.

I hope you'll stick with me through the next 3 weeks, if only so that you can be rewarded by lovely Prague photos and tips. I promise that come November there will be nary a post about running. Until then, maybe you will be inspired to run as well? If so, GREAT! If not, I don't blame you. It's a masochistic sport.

Either way you roll - runner or not, reader or not - I hope you enjoy the autumnal season. Go gourd shopping with a vengeance and get some Indian corn to hang on your door, and enjoy the end of the golden sunshine while crunching on leaves.

PS Why do I always find pictures of runners on the beach? I NEVER run on the beach!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Can a girl survive with only 4 pairs of shoes? The answer is, apparently, yes.

Mojito shoe by Julian Hakes from Dezeen

I love shoes. I love them with all of my soul. I own many pairs. Truth: I don't know how many pairs I actually own. The Irishman will say here "too many" and I will disagree. A lady can never have too many shoes.

Or can she?

Ever since The Incident, aka my injury, I've restrained myself from wearing heels. We all know and disregard the fact that high heels are really bad for your joints and overall locomotion, but in this case since I really want to run this marathon I figured it was best to just lay off the stilettos until after the race. But that left me with the following footwear options:
- Marimekko Converse low tops
- Liberty print Nike high tops
- black ballet flats
- boat shoes

And you know what? It's been okay.

I mean, don't doubt that there haven't been moments that I didn't wish to reach for my snakeskin peep toes. Or my taupe platform stilettos. Or my black heeled ankle boots. But I've been good. And my outfits haven't really been compromised. Sure my legs would have looked longer with a bit of height but in this case, my running dreams were more important than impressing my colleagues.

So I'm feeling quite smug about this feat (pun absolutely intended!) at the moment, but seriously? I cannot WAIT to raid my own shoe cupboard the minute I can walk properly again after the marathon. I think it might feel a little bit like Christmas Day without the looming credit card bills.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Back on track

A little overexposed photography to prove to you all how London has returned to its regularly scheduled weather programming. It's still warmer than average but the breeze carries a chill and when I woke up this morning I had to close the windows (after admiring the scent of woodsmoke). We're supposed to get down into single-digits-Celsius by the end of the week, and I'm secretly pleased as it means I don't have to put together mish-moshed outfits out of the 3 pieces of summer-weight clothing still in my wardrobe.

I'm also back on my running track. Physio Chris cleared me to get back into my marathon training with the following rules: no hills, no cambers, no pavement, and SLOW. I did my first run in 3.5 weeks on Sunday and despite the heat did 4 miles in my normal pace (it was odd, however, to be sweating profusely while crunching through piles of fallen leaves). I felt pretty good post-run, so I'm feeling positive about the race again. But I definitely am listening to my body a lot more, gauging my pain levels and trying to understand where I can push myself and how hard. It's been a learning experience for me, this voyage; yet another sign that I am a mere mortal (with biomechanical issues!) and that "running a marathon" is a lot more of a mental exercise than just running 26.2 miles. 

So now that the universe has been righted and the weather is headed in a more normal direction and I have resumed my running regime (albeit, slightly reduced), I feel like I can confidently look forward to such seasonal delights as crisp apples, fresh breezes, and bundling up against wind and chill. I WANT to hide my freshly tanned legs under tights, so bring on autumn and bring on Dublin Marathon - less than 4 weeks to go!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Heat wave = Beach day!

Once a Jersey girl, always a Jersey girl, and when the first few days of October throw out some serious heat what is one to do but go to the beach? For most of my childhood, Mom-Mom and my late grandfather lived in Ventnor, just south of Atlantic City, a block off of the boardwalk. I used every opportunity to visit them and spend hours in the sun, with snacks Mom-Mom packed me in cooler bags and the promise of something delicious for dinner upon my return to the house. It's been a long time since the Ventnor beach house, and since living in the UK I haven't had the opportunity of guaranteed sun and heat to warrant a trip to an English beach. But this crazy atypical autumn heatwave was a golden opportunity. I asked around my office for some suggestions of places to go and the one most mentioned was Camber Sands on the East Sussex coast near Rye, and an easy 1.5 hour train journey from Kings Cross. So I packed up my beach bag, applied some factor 30, and after the rugby The Irishman and I were on our way to the sea.

As you can see, the beach was absolutely jam packed but that didn't stop me from basking in the sun, reading a Grazia and a book, and wading into the ocean up to my waist. The Irishman isn't really a beach person but he was flexible for me and snoozed contentedly because I promised him a special treat: fish and chips. Post beach, we headed straight to the nearest chippy (with a line out the door) for cod, chips, and battered sausages. The bag our food came in had this lovely exhortation:

Honestly, people!

Post grease, we strolled through town and admired the old buildings; Rye seems to have a lot of history and The Irishman and I agreed that we would definitely return for more exploration. After a pint in a cozy pub, we headed back to steamy London to sweat the rest of the weekend.

If you go:
The high-speed train from London Kings Cross to Ashford takes about an hour; transfer there to the train to Rye, approximately 25 minutes. The 100 bus outside of the station goes to the beach once an hour. Train fare was £30 pp and bus fare £3.90 - both return.