Monday, 17 May 2010

Ouch and refocus

The SMH Half-Marathon and my first race for 2010 was yesterday, and oooohhh boy was it a) painful, b) challenging, c) fun!, and finally d) a wake up call.

I was very nervous on Saturday, the day before the race, so spent the day cleaning and doing a little bit of shopping. The cleaning was so that when I got home after the race I would be able to relax rather than worry about needing to clean the house. I also changed the sheets on my bed, so I would have those deliciously clean fresh sheets to sleep in. In the evening a few members of my CanToo group gathered for dinner at one of their houses, for a spot of carb loading and nerve calming. I think this is where I made a bit of a mistakes, eating a bit more than I really wanted to (but oh, it was delish). I slept pretty well once I got my brain to stop going through the details of the next day - what time I was getting up, where I was parking, what time the train was etc. Thankfully I'd had a great sleep on Friday night, so I still felt pretty fresh when I woke up.

Early start on Race Day. Alarm was set for 4.30am but I was wide awake at 4am and decided to get up and moving. Breakfast was two pieces of soy and linseed bread with peanut butter and banana, plus a strong coffee to wake me up and get things going. Because I was nervous, this didn't sit so well! Think I will go back to porridge from now on.

I was giving four people a lift from my place. It was great travelling in with them as they helped to take my mind off the race, we had fun taking picks at the train station and on the train too, making jokes and talking about everything except running!

We got to the start line nice and early, plenty of time to go to the toilet without having to wait for 20 minutes in a queue and put bags into the bag check, which can be a little hectic when there are 10,000-plus people in the race. I love the atomsphere at big races, there are people from all different walks of life, and different fitness and ability levels, and they're all so excited and alive - up bright and early on a Sunday to run 21.1km instead of sleeping in bed, drinking coffee or reading the paper (which sounds pretty good when you're shivering at 6.30am standing around in your running gear).

We did a good warm up, stretching session and got some last words of advice from our coach, who is a legend and a running inspiration. After getting a big group photo with the wider CanToo group the 1h55min "bus", as we were calling ourselves, headed up to the startline. Last year I started waaaay back in the pack and, as a consequence, was constantly dodging and weaving to try to get past people, so this year I was determined to get closer to the start to avoid the slower congestion. It was a good move, as I didn't find myself doing quite as much sideways running, which I find very tiring.

It was great running with the "bus", which initially included my good friend Sam, two great guys from the group - Ben and Mike - and our coach. The banter was light and supportive, we were all monitoring how everyone was feeling about the pace etc. Our first km was a bit over our average km pace goal of 5.27min, but we picked it up on the next one. Unfortunately at about the 7km mark or so we lost Sam as she ran into the Marriot hotel for an urgent bathroom stop. The poor thing has had lots of problems lately getting bad stomach cramps during running which result in her needing to find a bathroom ASAP! I wanted to stop with her, but I knew I'd never get back on track so stuck with the bus. At the 8km mark our coach got off the bus to drop back and catch up with some of the other runners from our group, but it was great to have him for those 8km.

I took my first Gu/gel at this point which is where everything went a bit pear shaped. I take these gels all the time, but for some reason yesterday it just did not sit well. I possibly should've drunk some more water, but I'm not sure that would've helped. I stuck with the bus - just - until about 13km, when I started feeling dizzy. It's quite a strange sensation to feel dizzy when you're running, but my face started tingling and I was actually worried I was going to faint. So I took a bit of a water/walking break at one of the water stations. So I got off the bus! I was totally peeved at myself, but I was determined not to let it stop me from finishing or getting in under two hours.

At about 18km I hit the wall big time. My hamstrings cramped and my feet were in agony, think it's time for some new shoes. I really desperately wanted to stop, but I managed to keep putting one foot in front of each other - just! Thankfully at about the 20km mark I caught up with one of the guys from the bus. Mike was struggling just as much as I was, but we managed to motivate each other for the last KM and we both finished in about 1h59min! I was STOKED. And very proud of myself for finishing when I was in sooo much pain.

I was on pretty wobbly legs, and feeling quite dizzy again. I probably needed another gel at about 16km or so, but I was feeling so sick that I just couldn't face it. I got to the bag pick-up area and thankfully didn't have to wait too long for my bag. Wandered around and located some food - got an apple, mandarin and two Powerbars. Plus some water. I really wanted Gatorade but there were a million people queuing up for it so I decided to stick with water. I located the CanToo tent in the recovery village and caught up with some of my team mates. This gave me another great boost of energy, seeing their smiling faces - flushed from the exercise and glowing with pride, especially the people who had never done a half-mara before and who didn't think they could ever do one.

So, that's the long-winded race report - and the ouch!

The second part of this post is my re-focus. I've been struggling with diet lately and, dang, it's showing. So I've decided it's time to tighten things up a bit. No more letting things slide and not worrying about the extra biscuit, beer, coffee (with sugar) etc. I have some goals, but I won't mention them just yet as I want to do some measurements and serious planning in terms of food and set some restrictions around alcohol and going out to dinner and stuff like that.

Anyhoo, I'm off to see the Sea Eagles take on the Eels tonight, so I'm going to make a smoothie and then get some extra sleep.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Man stuff

In other news, men are extremely confusing types.

On Saturday I met "the new guy" for what he describes as "non-alcohol based behaviour". Which I was cool with. Most of our dates have revolved around drinking wine or eating, which in my mind was GREAT as I love wine and I only think that once I really stepped over the line between being tipsy (and still capable of coherent/intelligent conversation) and drunk, and HE was drunk too.

He has dropped a few comments about it, which has bothered me a bit. I am comfortable with my alcohol intake levels and I have never gone beyond the point of control, EVER. I have decided to let existing comments go, they were in the vein of seeing a preview on TV for 60 Minutes or A Current Affair (can't remember which) featuring a special on teenage binge drinking and him asking me if I was a teenager binge drinker. I soooo wasn't, so naturally I said "no", to which he replied "huh, what happened?" Idiot. I would like to believe he was just being provocative (it worked), so just laughed, but if it comes up again I'm thinking that he has some opinion on my drinking and I'll ask him exactly what he'd like to say.

So that's one current point of annoyance. It's probably just a personality thing. It's just that he seems to have this way of managing to exclude his behaviour from judgement and focus on mine. Hellooo, it wasn't like I was there drinking by myself.

NOT going to allow it to cloud my judgement as I am PMSing a bit and that always makes me a bit prickly about these sort of things.

Just one more vent though. We went to dinner - as part of a paid-for work event put on by a client. My role as a food writer and editor is to assess everything and try pretty much everything so that I can comment on it. We were at a progressive dinner that went to various restaurants in Sydney for each course - nibbles at one, main at another, dessert somewhere else etc. So, at the restaurant for the main course we were served this amaaazing hand-made pasta. It was to die for. There was also, however, this delicious and fluffy looking homemade bread - served with chilli oil (my favourite). I'd commented on how good the pasta was, but I really wanted to try the bread as it looked amazing. I was served a huge wedge of it, but I only ate a tiny corner of it - and it and the chilli oil were both simply DELICIOUS. As I commented on how good it was, he says to me "why don't you just have more pasta instead of eating the bread". WTF? What's it to him? We weren't paying, I had brought him along as a "colleague" so he was there for 100% free (whereas I have to write something about it).

Urgh, to be honest, I am thinking these are not good signs but - also to be honest - I want to determine that it's not just a range of other things including: me PMSing, reading too much into things, looking for things to fault in self-protection behaviour, etc etc.

I am well-known for my self-protection behaviour. These days, I am better at spotting it ... but the first major case of it was a few years ago when I had been with my ex for about six weeks I absolutely LOST IT at him one night and ran off in a huff. No idea what sparked it now. But that was classic self-protection behaviour because I knew we were getting "close" and I was starting to freak out about putting myself in that situation where I was vulnerable and someone could hurt me. As it turns out of course he WAS very bad for me - emotionally manipulative, insecure and more, so perhaps I should've trusted my instincts?

Hmm, anyway, I am trying (after this post of course) not to think too much about it, because I can be my own worst enemy - talking myself into and out of things.

We shall see.

Feeling better

Saturday morning's run on the SMH half-marathon course worked wonders! It was a simply stunning autumn morning, cool and crisp air, clear skies and a light breeze. Unfortunately, I still felt pretty dreadful due to coldy/sinus thingy, but I decided to run with some of my teammates on 5.30min/km pacing to see if I could manage it for the half.

Unlike last week when we bolted off the startline - which resulted in us running several KMs at 5min pacing or under and me having to drop back to a more reasonable 5.40min/km pace - we took it out easy. We ran the first km in a very moderate 5.55min, which was needed as we were all creaking and groaning a bit trying to warm up. From there, we kicked it up to sit between 5.20min and 5.35min kms for the rest of the run (around 10.5km), which one accidental 5.13min km which was my fault (started running hard up a hill and kept that pace).

While I know I won't be too devastated if I don't run 1hr 55min, I REALLY want to and I really think I can do it if I stick with these guys. I felt great until about the 50minute mark (we finished in 56.20mins) and I could not have turned around and done it all again. With water, energy gel, a bit of carb loading the night before etc I think it's definitely achievable. I also like running with these two guys, they're both just top-notch fellas who manage to motivate you in a very subtle way. No yelling or cliched phrases (pain is weakness leaving the body - not helpful at the 19km mark), just quiet support and the fact that they have faith in you and believe you can do it. It works wonders!

My coldy/sinus thingy is lingering and ANNOYING me, but I am determined to shift it this week with a bit of sensible behaviour - sleeping more than six hours a night, good food, no alcohol etc.

Super excited!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Running, gyming, working and a new man

Well, another long stint of AWOL behaviour from me. Not without just cause. Work has naturally gone mental and I feel like I spent most of April putting out spot fires and chasing myself around. While I naturally love long weekends, having shorter weeks (but the same amount of work to do) is not ideal. The good news, however, is that I had a very successful April in that I met all of my targets and kicked some great goals, putting together some great content for my websites (articles, slideshows etc). So, big tick there.

Training for my next half has been mixed. I have really been struggling with tight ITBs and sore knees, plus motivation in general. I am feeling a bit burnt out, physically and mentally, from early mornings to get a run in or to get to the gym before work (which means a 5.30am wake-up), and the group I am training with - with CanToo - well, we just haven't gelled as well as with other groups. There is also a strange resentment between what's called Wave A and B.

It's pretty obvious, but Wave A are the runners who are slightly more experienced and faster, and Wave B are either beginners or more social runners (or just like to take it a bit easier). I am by no stretch of the imagination a fast runner, I am just middle of the pack but I push myself quite hard and don't like to mess around too much if that makes sense. I mean, I still have great fun with it and love chatting to my friends while we run - but I'm there to "do the business" and get on with my day. Anyway, Wave A really only consists of about six people compared with 21 people in Wave B and we have had to deal with some weird comments and attitude. I think they think that we think less of them, when in fact they inspire us because they all push so hard and have improved sooo much. Ahh, anyway. Not long to go now.

So, slightly injury-plagued plus weird inter-group tensions, lots of work and a few too many big weekends, means I really am not feeling ready for the run. I initially had aimed to run it in under 1hr55min or at least better than my pb of 1hr57min, but now I will be happy to a) finish and b) run in under two hours. Plus, I am determined to maintain a better attitude than my last half-marathon or this race last year, when I let horrible negative self-talk get the better of me. Basically, I was really hurting and I got stuck in a loop of self-hate.

Anyway, this is the first one for the year, and I plan to do three more so there's plenty of time to get to 1hr55min.

In other much more exciting news, I've been seeing a new man. And it really is exciting, but in a more grown up way. I am not crazily lust-filled, like I have previously been at this stage (two month mark) in other "situations" (refuse to say relationships). At the same time, however, I definitely lust after him! I would say that he really crept up on me, I mean, we met on RSVP so we met on a date but initially I really didn't think I was interested. But, we had such a great time together that we agreed to be friends and still catch up. By the third date of great conversation and lots of laughs I started to get the feeling that I was interested in more than just friends, and so was he. And, yay, he was/is!

It's weird, because he's not what I would ever have described as "my type" of guy. While he's not adverse to exercise, it's not a big part of his day to day life. Whereas it pretty much forms the backbone of mine and I am usually really only interested in guys who am sporty/active. But he's still super strong and much fitter than you would expect. He has an active job, so that would help.

Secondly, he's a very gentle, sweet type of guy. Of course, I like sweet guys, but because I am a very strong and independent type of person, I've always felt a bit uncomfortable around guys who don't strike me as being strong and confident. His quietly spoken, slightly shy nature, however, is not the real him though! He is definitely a quietly confident and strong guy, but he's thoughtful and considerate, and has a lovely gentle nature. Already he's impressed me and put a huge smile on my face (even now) by doing incredibly thoughtful things. You know, he suggests places to go for dinner, makes bookings at restaurants instead of just taking pot-luck, buys tickets for shows, and when he cooked me dinner he made an extra effort to make sure it was super-healthy and fat-free. It wasn't THE best, because he served me about three-times as much food as I would ever eat in one go, but the effort he went to to make something I would like pleased me more than any $500 night at a restaurant.

I have been trying not to talk or gush about it too much as I don't want to jinx things, but I feel like things are heading in the right direction - at a steady but slow pace (which I like) - so putting it out there in the cosmos won't do any harm.

And in between running, gyming and meeting a new guy, I've been loving reading everyone's blogs and seeing them overcome their own challenges and working towards their goals. Totally inspirational.